Your first quilt (a new series)

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I’m so excited to announce a new series and (…if you’re local) a big event!

On Saturday, September 28 I will be hosting a beginner’s quilt workshop in my home. My students will each make a 12 by 12 inch quilt from start to finish. The cost will be $45 and I will provide all the supplies. (I cannot imagine anything more fun than shopping for this!) Every attendee will get to go home with the quilt they made + all the knowledge they need to make their next quilt. Oh, and I’ll provide lunch too!

Leading up to the event I’ll be posting a series of 7 tutorials especially for beginners. When I start posting the tutorials look for a new tab on my home page called “Your first quilt.” These tutorials will be a permanent feature here to serve brand new quilters. I hope you will direct your friends here if they want to learn to quilt and you don’t have time to teach them.

Because there’s really nothing more exciting than a first quilt.

WIP: Modern flower garden

Ok, after a very nice date on Wednesday night I got right to work on Thursday!

This quilt is quite a bit of work, but I am really enjoying the process. Machine appliqué is a really different experience than the piecing I usually do. It’s fun to discover new tools and methods. I especially enjoy having preparatory steps that can be done away from the sewing machine. I’ve been doing a little here and there and this is what I’ve accomplished in just a couple of days.

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I did one test block to check everything first- always a good idea in case there is something you need to adjust or reconsider.

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I have about 20 (of 80) additional petals ready. I’ll probably continue to work on these a few more days and then take a break and start work on the first few blocks of the main Penny Sampler quilt.

Check out this sketch stitching:

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I just love the effect it creates. And on the practical side, this quilt will be very durable for machine washing.

So that’s what I’ve been working on! It’s been more of a sewing week than a blogging week, but I have an exciting post planned for tomorrow introducing a new series I’ll be featuring this fall. Talk to you then!

WIP: postponed

Well, I had wanted to complete and share the first block of my Dogwood quilt today.

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I got this far when the call came.

The ever-welcome call from my in-laws that offers, “Would you like us to take the boys overnight so you can go out on a date?”

Um, yes. Yes!! Dogwood petals can wait.

You know you’re a quilter when your husband just accepts that a date night necessarily includes a “quick stop” at JoAnn’s…

Amy Butler is in the building

Um, so how did I not realize how amazing Amy Butler fabric is? Why didn’t you guys tell me???

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These are the beauties I got with my Red Pepper Quilts / Southern Fabric gift certificate. Thanks so much to both you ladies!

It is a very good thing that I already had a plan in mind for these when I ordered them because otherwise they’d clearly be too pretty to ever cut into.

Our first project for the Penny Sampler class is this quilt:

love those Comma periods!
I’m going to do the petals in Amy Butler and the background in the beige stripe from Marmalade:

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I’m experimenting with eliminating solid backgrounds a la Sarah Fielke.

In other news, how cute do those fat quarters look folded Jeni Baker style? I’m loving it.

Hopefully I’ll be able to share my first block for WIP Wednesday late tomorrow!

Studio Spotlight Series

Jennifer at Ellison Lane is hosting a linky party for sewing spaces, and I thought I’d join in.

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I currently sew at our dining room table, although I hope to turn the nursery into a sewing room as soon as the baby is old enough to bunk with big brother. He’s not a baby anymore really – he’s 2. But I enjoy still thinking of him as “the baby” for now.

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This is my beloved Juki, which I purchased earlier this summer and just adore. I made several beautiful quilts with my old Singer though and I actually had to keep her for the occasional need of her zigzag stitch.

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This is how I keep my sewing space as tidy as possible, given that it’s in the middle of our home: one bucket for scraps big enough to use and one bucket for scraps less than 1 square inch (my personal cutoff). And there’s a little “quilt” my 3-year-old made with scraps and glue. So cute.

I keep my fabric in the closet.

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There’s my neglected Accuquilt cutter. I really should sell that.

Have you seen Jeni Baker’s folding method? After a few of you mentioned it in your stash showing party posts I checked it out. Actually her whole “Art of Choosing” series is pretty interesting. I’ve been working my way through it.

On Saturday night I started refolding my stash while watching some new Tom Cruise movie with my husband! It’s a big job but I love how it’s looking.

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The thing I look forward to most about creating a new sewing room is the idea of getting my fabric out of hiding and displaying it on shelves! That will make me so happy. I’ve been tempted to fill this guy with fabric but I’ve resisted so far.

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So that’s where I sew guys! Moving it will be bittersweet because I love being nearby the kids’ playroom. I’ll have to find a new way of organizing my sewing time.

Today sewing starts for our first project for the Penny Sampler! I’m sure I’ll have some WIP pictures to share very soon. And later this week, a big announcement for our friends who are beginners or have not yet made their first quilt!

Sunday stash

Picked up just a couple of little things this week, although my big order from Southern Fabric is slated to arrive tomorrow. Do you guys obsessively check the tracking information when you have fabric on the way? I do.

Here are a couple of yards of DS and Juliana Horner I picked up on sale at JoAnn’s and a fat quarter from 30’s Playtime in the middle:

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I didn’t intend for these fabrics to necessarily go together in a project but now I’m becoming enamored of the idea of a gray-blue-black-white quilt. Maybe one of my practice projects for the Penny Sampler class…

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The 2 stacks on the sides are mini charm packs (30’s playtime and Road 15). They’re already layered up with hexagon papers for my EPP projects. (Tutorial here!)

I’m not typically into the 30’s color scheme but this line’s colors are more modern. There are a few prints that would make great stash basics, obviously I particularly like the black print of the fat quarter I bought. I actually didn’t realize it was from the same line as the mini charm pack I was buying until I got home.

I bought the fat quarter and mini charms at my local quilt shop, Hearts to Holly, and had a nice chat with the owner. It’s an adorable shop and does a pretty good job of stocking some more modern options. They have a fantastic selection of basics like stripes and dots. I really appreciate that.

Come back tomorrow to see my sewing space!

Linking up with Stash Sunday!

Giving back

I’m feeling very grateful today. It felt like a risk to host the You Show me Yours, I’ll Show you Mine linky, and not just because of the slightly risqué title. I felt like a middle schooler inviting everyone at school to a party and then sitting and waiting to see if anyone would come!

So to those of you who participated by linking or just by exploring, thank you! I really had so much fun and learned so much. I did not anticipate how much I would learn or how painfully I would long to go shopping!

If you haven’t played around with it yet, you can still explore everyone’s posts even though the link is closed.

And now to give back. I promised a giveaway to one lucky linky participant! And the winner is

#9 Green from So Sew Green!! Yay Green! I swear I used the Random Number Generator but I couldn’t get the code right to show it here. You’ll just have to trust me.

Here is what you have won:

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64 one inch blocks (1/2 inch finished)! These are my tiny, tiny scraps from the machine paper pieced airplane pillows. Just couldn’t throw them away, and now I’m glad I didn’t! You might think that piecing 1 inch blocks would be pain. You’d be right.

And the back:

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The lucky winner will also receive a mini charm pack of Bonnie & Camille’s new line Scrumptious! I added it to my gift certificate order from Southern Fabric with this giveaway in mind.

And to give back just a little more, I want to direct you to one of my favorite bloggers: Ashley at Wasn’t Quilt in a Day. Her beautiful and brave sister is about to shave her head to raise money to cure childhood cancer. So, naturally, Ashley made a quilt. Because when there’s a cause that’s what we do. Ashley is going to give this gorgeous quilt away to one lucky contributor to the campaign. I entered but I promise not to win, due to my recent winning streak… Here is Ashley’s Belle Wave quilt:

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So help a quilt sister give back! She’s only requiring a small donation to enter.

Have a fabulous weekend and come back Monday to see my entry for Ellison Lane’s sewing space link up.

Perfectly perfect half square triangles and hourglass units (a tutorial)

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When I made my Swooning for Baby Charlie* quilt I decided it was time: time to get those half square triangles (HSTs) just right.

(*Shout out to baby Charlie’s great grandmother by the way! Apparently she’s a big fan of my blog. You just cannot imagine how happy it made me to hear that.)

I slowed down and took the time to figure out what works for me, and now I’m passing along what I learned to you.

If you’re having trouble with your HSTs ending up too small, this one’s for you!

1.  The math.  Determine what size you need your HST to be and add 3/4 of an inch. I like to think in terms of the unfinished measurement: the size of the HST when it is a unit that is not yet sewn into your project. It will finish 1/2 an inch smaller on both sides once it is sewn into the project, but for now let’s keep it simple by just thinking about the size it needs to be when it is a lone unit.

For example, the project I’m working on (writing my first pattern, in fact!) requires me to attach HSTs to 3 1/4 inch strips so I need my HSTs to measure 3 1/4 inches. Adding 3/4 of an inch means I need to cut 4 inch squares.

2.  Cutting.  Cut a square from each of your fabrics to the size you determined in the step above.

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3.  Drawing.  I use the Fons & Porter quarter inch seam marker for this, but I’ll show you how to do it without one too.

If you have the seam marker, draw 2 lines- each a quarter inch from the diagonal of your square on the wrong side of the fabric. If one of your fabrics is a lighter color, it’ll be easier to see your pencil line on that one. A mechanical pencil is the best marking tool for this job.

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If you don’t have the seam marker, draw one line down the diagonal of the square.

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4.  Sewing.  The directions that come with the ruler say to sew on the lines you just drew. Don’t do that! Sew just slightly to the side of that line. This is called sewing with a scant 1/4 inch seam. It takes into account that tiny line of fabric you lose when you fold the fabric over and press it after sewing. In our case, the over-cutting actually makes this less important because we are going to have a fair amount of wiggle room. But sewing with a scant 1/4 inch is still a good thing to practice.

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If you are only using a center line, sew a scant 1/4 inch on either side of the center line.

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Sew slowly here. You are sewing on the bias, where the fabric is weakest. If you zoom your machine too quickly the fabric will stretch.

5.  Trimming. Cut and press your new baby HSTs.

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I like to finger press them open before pressing them with the iron, otherwise they don’t always open all the way.

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Yes I need a new ironing board cover. And a manicure.

Use the 45 degree marking on your ruler to “square up” your triangles to the right size. It was a bit of an “ah ha” moment for me when I realized that a triangle can be trimmed to any size as long as you keep the ruler’s 45 degree line right on the triangle’s 45 degree line. That means if you are following a pattern, when it comes to HSTs you don’t have to be nervous about changing the cutting directions a bit to allow you the extra you need for trimming. You can cut the size you want to cut!

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This is a little easier if you have these cute little square rulers, but you can certainly use the 45 degree angle of any cutting ruler.

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Now you have a perfectly perfect HST and you can make just about 75% of all quilt patterns!

A word about the waste. Ok, so those little tiny strips of fabric can be pretty hard to part with when the fabric is this cute. But it’s worth it! The main reason you want those little edges gone is because you’ve just sewn on the bias. Any time you cut or sew diagonally across fabric (even if you go slowly) it stretches and weakens. Those edges were manhandled by your sewing machine’s feed dogs. It’s best to part with them in favor of a more accurate quilt top.

6.  Hourglassing.  (I just invented a new verb. “Mommy’s hourglassing, I’ll be there in a minute.”) If you need hourglasses instead of HSTs the process is very similar.

The math: add an inch to the size of the unit you want. Just like the HSTs, you can always trim an hourglass smaller as long as you watch the 45 degree angles and the center point.

I want my hourglass unit to measure 3 1/4 inches. Unfortunately, we cannot use the HSTs we just made because those will end up too small. We need to cut our squares 4 1/4 inches this time and then make 2 HSTs using the method described above (stopping prior to trimming). Before trimming we need to diagonally cut the HST as shown below and then join the pieces into hourglasses. One HST will yield 2 hourglasses.

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This is a good place to mention that when you’re joining things like this you should make sure the 2 seams are pressed in opposite directions and then “nest” the seams together as shown below. This is how you get perfectly aligned points. A pin wouldn’t hurt but I personally don’t use them for this.

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To trim, find the center measurement of your hourglass and line up your ruler there. Our hourglass makes this kind of tricky, but I want to keep it real. Half of 3 1/4 is 1.625. Eyeball it! It’ll be fine. Just make sure you trim about the same amount from each side so your center point stays centered.

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And there you have a nicely square 3 1/4 inch hourglass unit with 4 clean and strong sides.

Please feel free to contact me with questions about this tutorial! I hope it helps.

Winning

Just when I was beginning to wonder whether it’s worth entering all the fun giveaways, I won! And then I won again!

The talented Michelle of Factotum of Arts sent me this adorable little pack of swatches:

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It came all wrapped up like a present!

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Twelve 7 x 9 swatches of “School Days” by Jumping Birds

It’s a small amount of fabric and yet so very exciting! It absolutely made my day. It makes my day again each time I walk by it.

This fabric is a Spoonflower line by Jumping Birds. I don’t know about you, but I get excited about the idea of using fabric that hasn’t already saturated the interwebs. I love seeing new things! Natasha has some other really cool designs so you should definitely check out her Spoonflower page or Etsy shop.

Here are a couple of my personal favs from the pack she sent me:

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In other “luck comes in pairs” news, I won a $75 gift certificate to Southern Fabric from Red Pepper Quilts (if you don’t know her already you should check her out- her quilts are very inspiring)!

While waiting for the coupon code in my email I have already filled my shopping cart and then edited it several times. I’m thinking Amy Butler! I don’t know why I never considered her before. I think I was scared off by the large scale of the prints. But she reminds me a lot of Anna Maria Horner (who I’m recently obsessed with) so that has to be a good sign.

So the lesson for today is: if you enter a million giveaways, you’re bound to win at least 2. 🙂 Thank you Michelle and Rita!