Monday, November 28, 2011

Pretty in Patchwork: Holidays

This evening, just a few short days after Thanksgiving and the unofficial start of the holiday season, I'm sitting here enjoying my first bowl of peppermint ice cream of 2011, listening to some Christmas music, and excited beyond words to share some great news with you all ...

Pretty in Patchwork: Holidays

Yes, that's my name on the byline ... I wrote a book! And better yet, the book is available right now ... but more on that in a minute.

Pretty in Patchwork: Holidays is the second book in the new Pretty in Patchwork series by the publishing team at Lark Crafts. (Pretty in Patchwork: Doll Quilts by my friend Cathy Gaubert was the first, and I still need to blog about my project from that fun book!)

Early pics!
Holiday Surprise Reverse Applique pillow, by Angela Mitchell of Fussy Cut

Pretty in Patchwork brings together handmade items and original patterns and project ideas from a wide variety of sewists and quilters, all united under a single theme. The theme for my book, obviously, is the holidays -- and, more specifically, the harvest and winter holidays of November and December (including Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Hanukkah.)

Early pics!
Sugar Village Tea Towels, by Jennifer Davis of Sugar Stitches

Pretty in Patchwork: Holidays features 32 (yes, 32!!) project tutorials from 22 of my favorite fellow crafters and bloggers. The projects range from small ornaments to pillows to quilts, with lots of great ideas in between. They are perfect both for gift ideas for others as well as plenty of great ideas to treat yourself, or to decorate your home for the holidays. From beginning to more advanced sewists, I worked hard to make sure there is something in this book for everyone.

Early pics!
Christmas in the City quilt by ... me!

OK, so this is the part of my post where I name drop. Here's the full list of contributors whose projects are featured in the book, all of whom I invited because I have mad respect for their skill, talent, and creativity:
An impressive list, wouldn't you agree? And let me tell you, they all brought their A-game for this book!

Early pics!
Hedgehog Holidays Patchwork Pillowcase and Stuffed Toy by Nicole vos Van Avezathe of Follow the White Bunny

I am very, very proud of this book. Not only do I feel like it's a wonderfully rich book (did I mention that it includes 32 project tutorials?!), but Lark has established a beautiful visual style with the new Pretty in Patchwork series. I hope that the images I've included in this post -- all taken directly from the book -- speak for themselves! And about those 32 projects, I can honestly say that I don't think there's a "filler" project among them.

Early pics!
Drawstring Gift Bags, another of my projects!

Pretty in Patchwork: Holidays will be printed in the summer of 2012, but if you're inspired to sew up some holidays items this season, the book is already available in e-book format, perfect for computers, laptops, and iPads. The best part is that you can browse the entire book -- yes, you can preview ALL of the wonderful projects inside -- by visiting the Zinio page and clicking on the image of the book's cover. You can't zoom in close enough to see the full instructions, but you can literally flip through the entire book, enjoy the beautiful photography, and decide if this book's for you!

Early pics!
Harvest Vine Table Runner by Jessica Kovach of Twin Fibers

I'll be featuring more projects from the book in the coming weeks, and you can be sure I'll be back with more about the book when it's printed in 2012.

I hope you'll consider adding Pretty in Patchwork: Holidays to your sewing & crafting library. If you download the digital version, I'd love to hear what you think of it!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Misfit Quilters Hoop Swap

Posting a bit of embroidery today! I recently participated in the Misfit Quilters Hoop Swap, in which we swapped completed pieces of embroidery, completely mounted in their hoops and ready for hanging. The Misfit Quilters is a fun bunch of sewists, quilters, and swappers that I chat with often over on Twitter. I was in the mood for both a swap and to work on some embroidery, so this came around at the perfect time.

First, let me show off the fabulous piece I received from my partner, Christine (@creationsforems):

Misfit Embroidery from @creationsforems

I absolutely love this piece! The pattern, the colors, the stitching -- everything is just perfect and so me. When signing up for the swap, I listed Cate Anevski as one of my favorite artists and embroidery pattern designers. I was quite literally jumping up and down when I saw that Christine stitched up one of my favorite patterns, Ghostly Paisley.


Thanks so much, Christine! This piece has earned a prominent spot in my sewing room. It's sure to inspire me every day when I look at it!!

Ninja vs. Pirate

Here's the piece I stitched up for my partner, Ella. In her swap preferences, Ella indicated "I love tuxedo cats, bellydance, pirates, kraken, and ninjas...but I'm cool with whatever excites ya!" That was great direction and a lot to work with, but to be honest none of those things are in my usual bag of tricks, so it was a bit out of my comfort zone.

So imagine my delight-slash-relief when I came across this great pattern on the Urban Threads site! Who would've guessed that I could hit 2 of the requested images in one single pattern?

Ninja vs. Pirate

It was a lot of fun to stitch, and I am glad that Ella seemed to really enjoy it.

Have you been enjoying any hand embroidery lately? I'd love to see it!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Oh, Thank Cuteness

Hello & happy belated Thanksgiving to all of you who celebrated! (Happy belated Black Friday to all of you who celebrated that, too : ) We had a great Thankgiving here in the Quilt Dad home -- we hosted family at our house for the first time, and it was a wonderful day. Actually, a wonderful couple of days, since our houseguests arrived on Wednesday and left on Friday!

As for me, I've stayed off of my computer since logging off at the office on Wednesday, and I must say that these last couple of days "unplugged" has been ... blissful. It's a nice reminder that sometimes I need to slow down and take a moment to enjoy time with my family, without the distraction and hamster wheel that my laptop sometimes seems to embody. I have so much to blog about ... but I think it can wait another day or two.

And speaking of my family, I popped in this evening to write a quick note of thanks for them. You see, the team over at GenQ Magazine had a great idea for a blog series called "Oh, Thank Cuteness", where bloggers can simply show off their children, pets, or anything at all that brings cuteness to their lives. The picture above is of my wife, my 7 year-old twin girls, and my 5-year old son, taken about a week and a half ago during a holiday kick-off celebration. (No, the fat guy in the red suit is not me.) Not only are they cute, but they are a true blessing and the best family a guy could ever hope for. I am thankful for them not only during the Thanksgiving season, but on the other 364 days of the year as well.

Want to participate in the "Oh, Thank Cuteness" series? Check out this post over on the GenQ blog, and tell them I said "hi"!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Sew to Swap Book Tour

This post was originally intended to be posted over on Heather's blog this morning, but the poor girl had to (unexpectedly) have her appendix removed. So, until she can re-post this on her blog or link back to it, I'll keep my write-up of our participation in the Sew to Swap book project live here on my blog.

Feel better, Heather!


Heather & me

Hi everyone! I'm John, and I blog over at Quilt Dad. That's me in the picture above with Heather from when we first met in person at 2011 Quilt Market in Houston. We've been great bloggy buddies ever since, which is why I was so excited to join her and 15 other fantastic bloggers in a collaborative book project called Sew to Swap. Chrissie Grace was the ringleader for this wonderful project and, with the book now available for purchase, for this book tour as well.

sew to swap

So what's Sew to Swap all about? Well, Chrissie basically organized a bunch of fun swaps -- similar to the ones we all know and love over on Flickr -- and documented every step of the process. The result is a wonderful resource for anyone interested in swapping, participating in virtual quilting bees, organizing different types of swaps, or just enjoying beautiful photos of some really fun quilts.

And since the book is all about swaps, Heather and I decided to swap blog posts for our dates on the book tour!

Here are some of the projects that I contributed to for this book:

My Favorite Things, inspired by antique redwork embroidery quilts. My block is the owl on the top right:

favorite things quilt

The Diamond Quilt, with blocks made from some gorgeous Anna Maria Horner voile fabrics:

diamond block quilt

The Scrapbuster Quilt, featuring Corey's famous block:

scrapbuster quilt

Here's a quilt made from wonky star blocks. Every contributor made one and we used them as signature blocks as a way to commemorate our combined efforts on the book:

wonky signature stars

Throughout the book, all of the bloggers provide some of our favorite tips about swapping, as well as answer some fun questions. Here's an example in which I confess to my most vicious vice:


In addition to block swaps, the book includes a couple of other types of swaps. Chrissie asked me if I would be interested in swapping doll quilts. I made the Flight of the Bumblebee mini quilt (pictured below), which is one of my favorite mini quilts that I've ever made. The pattern is included in the book.

my bee quilt

I knew the book was going to be great, but was really blown away when I saw the final product. Big thanks to Chrissie for inviting me be a part of it, and thanks to Heather for swapping blog posts with me!

If you're interested in getting your own copy of Sew to Swap, there’s a special deal for all of you participating in our fun blog hop. For a limited time, you can get Sew to Swap now for just $14.99 ($10 off the retail price!). Visit the Martha Pullen Online Store and use promo code SEW2SWAP to get your exclusive discount. (Offer expires Nov 30, 2011 at 11:59pm EST.)

Be sure to visit all of the stops on the blog tour:

November 7 Lovely Little Handmades
November 8
Stitches & Scissors
November 9
Cluck Cluck Sew
November 10
My Three Sons
November 11
Twin Fibers
November 12
Stitchy Quilt Stuff
November 13
The Creative Juices of Ariel
November 14
Texas Freckles
November 15
Quilt Dad
November 16
Artsy-Craftsy Babe
November 17
Little Miss Shabby
November 18
A Cuppa and a Catch Up
November 19
A Quilt is Nice
November 20
A Little Sweetness
November 21
House of A La Mode
November 22
I’m Just a Guy Who Quilts
November 23
Little Bit Funky
November 27
In His Grace

Little Bits Quilting Bee

I know I've been blogging a lot about new book releases lately. I think we're just in the middle of a great season for quilting books. Modern quilters seem to have a large appetite for visual inspiration and new project ideas in the form of books and, for the most part, I think the publishers are really stepping up to the plate with well-written, high-quality books with original ideas and beautiful photography.

Having said that, I am especially excited to blog today about the new book Little Bits Quilting Bee. In so many ways, this book is different. From the moment I opened the envelope, I knew this book was special.

Community Garden

Little Bits Quilting Bee was written by Kathreen Ricketson, who provides creative inspiration to thousands of people every day via her blog Whip Up. Little Bits Quilting Bee features 20 projects for small fabric scraps and bundles including jelly rolls, charm squares, layer cakes, and fat quarters.

Garnets & Gold

So what makes this book special? More than anything else, Kathreen and her team at Chronicle Books have simply put together a beautiful book. It's a hard-covered book that feels good in your hand. The design of the book -- from the colors to the photography to the fonts used -- is spot on. And, of course, the quilts themselves and the fabrics used are inspired.

Cloud Song

As I mentioned, the book is broken out by projects that use the various kinds of pre-cuts -- from jelly rolls to charm squares to layer cakes. Although I feel like my own personal style has moved a little bit towards a more scrappy style, I still have a weakness for pre-cuts. Something about making sure I have every print in a collection appeals to a little piece of me that must have a severe case of OCD.

Plus, I feel like pre-cuts -- and patterns that use them -- are often quite approachable for beginning quilters ... an audience whose libraries, I think, would benefit greatly from Little Bits Quilting Bee's inclusion.

Summer Sundae

Of the many great projects in this book, two immediately jumped out as my favorites.


First is the Constructivist. Not only is the triangle pattern featured in this project a lot of fun (full templates are provided), but it's made up with some of my favorite fabrics. (The quilting on this project is also amazing.)



The quilt I am most likely to make -- and soon! -- is Squadron. The main block of this quilt -- an improvised strip-pieced block -- is designed to resemble an airplane, but I was struck by the secondary patterns that emerge when many of these blocks are sewn together. I'm a big fan.

Squadron Block

This write-up of Little Bits Quilting Bee comes with my highest recommendation. With the holidays fast approaching, I think this book would make a great addition to any quilter's wish list.

Little Bits Quilting Bee

I'm also very excited to be able to give one copy of Little Bits Quilting Bee to a lucky Quilt Dad reader. Simply leave a comment on this post and say hello! I'll randomly select a winner next Friday, 12/2.

Be sure to visit the other stops on the book tour for even more chances to win this great book. Good luck!

Monday, November 7 – The Long Thread
Tuesday, November 8 – Craft Nectar & Comfort Stitching
Wednesday, November 9 – luvinthemommyhood & Elsie Marley
Thursday, November 10 – True Up
Friday, November 11 – House on Hill Road & CraftyPod

Monday, November 14 – Handmade by Alissa & Hello My Name Is Heather
Tuesday, November 15 – West Coast Crafty & Foxy Art Studio
Wednesday, November 16 – Patch Andi & The Last Piece
Thursday, November 17 – In Color Order & Duo Fiberworks
Friday, November 18 – Kristin La Flamme & Camp Follower Bags & Quilts

Monday, November 21 – Quilt Dad <----- YOU ARE HERE
Tuesday, November 22 – Pat Sloan & Pleasant Home

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A tale of two fat quarter bundles

Recently, while working on some Farmer's Wife Sampler quilt blocks (note to self: share pictures of new blocks on blog soon!), I pulled together some small bundles of fabric and immediately fell in love with the color combinations. Both began with some favorite prints from the Terrain (Kate Spain) and Prince Charming (Tula Pink) collections.

The first bundle combined shades of blue, red, and purple, resulting in what I believe to be a very rich and warm palette.

Great new color combo

Here's the Farmer's Wife block I made from the bundle:

FW #4 - "Basket Weave"
Block #4, "Basket Weave"

The second assortment was a bit more unusual and unexpected. One of the colorways of Prince Charming features gorgeous tones of teal and honey. I paired them with another of Kate Spain's leaf prints and another shade of houndstooth. The solid was a complete fluke, but I love the earthy stone color that somehow grounds the palette.

A great new color combo

I even made mention of this color combination over on the GenQ blog today!

Here's the Farmer's Wife block I made with this bundle:

FW #73 - "Rainbow Flowers"
Block #73, "Rainbow Flowers"

Well, after making both blocks, I was still itchy. I wanted to play with these fabric bundles even more. It just so happens we were working on issue 7 of Fat Quarterly at the time, and I decided to draw up a pair of mini quilt patterns to showcase the fabric assortments. After all, the entire issue is all about color! I decided to name my project "Duet".

Duet Mini Quilt

Issue 7 of Fat Quarterly, the color issue, is now available for purchase.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

HIJACKED!! Sew to Swap Blog Swap

Oh no -- my blog's been hijacked! Actually, I'm just swapping blog posts today with my friend & fellow blogger Heather; read on to find out why we're swapping today ...


hey there kids! my name is Heather or { House } of A La Mode or trouble maker or one of Johnny's partner's in crime, you can decide! ;) we did a little project together last year that has just recently been published and released for your buying pleasure...

Sew to Swap by Chrissie Grace

(ps ... F+W Media is offering to any of our blog readers a special discount during the blog tour if you'd like to purchase the book. Just use promo code SEW2SWAP to get the book for $14.99 -- that's $10 off of the cover price.)

we thought we'd be clever and swap blogs, since this was a book about friends, swaps & swapping! are you amazed yet...??? yeah... we are really THAT good! LOL

me & johnny boy at quilt market, houston 2010

You can check out all our other fabulous friends that contributed to this book here!! It was quite the party!

November 8 - Stitches & Scissors

November 9 - Cluck Cluck Sew

November 10 - My Three Sons

November 11 - Twin Fibers

November 12 - Stitchy Quilt Stuff

November 14 - Texas Freckles

November 15 - Quilt Dad <----- YOU ARE HERE!

November 16 - Artsy-Craftsy Babe

November 17 - Little Miss Shabby

November 19 - A Quilt is Nice

November 20 - A Little Sweetness

November 21 - { House } of A La Mode <----- You may find John here. Just sayin'.

November 23 - Little Bit Funky

November 27 - In His Grace

Thanks John for letting me come by your blog for a visit!! :)

X, Heather

Friday, November 11, 2011

Desperate Housewife's Quilt | SpinOut Block Tutorial

Welcome to all of the Desperate Housewives!

Today I'm offering up a block tutorial as a guest blogger in QuiltJane's Desperate Housewife's Quilt project. Unfamiliar with the Desperate Housewife's Quilt? Jane is offering 100 8" block tutorials -- 50 of her own + 50 from guest bloggers -- over the course of 50 weeks. Quilters from around the world can choose to make all -- or just some -- of the many blocks. It's shaping up to be a wonderful resource for a wide variety of quilt block designs.

SpinOut Block

I'm calling my block SpinOut, and I made mine with two prints from Sarah Fielke's new line for Lecien Fabrics, St. Ives, along with a buttery yellow Bella solid. Ready to get started?

SpinOut Block | Step 1

  • From a solid background fabric, cut 4 - 2 1/2" squares and 2 - 2 1/2" x 4 1/2" rectangles.

SpinOut Block | Step 2

  • From print 1, cut 4 - 2 1/2" x 4 1/2" rectangles.
  • From print 2, cut 4 - 2 1/2" squares.

SpinOut Block | Step 3

  • Place a solid square atop the right side of a print 1 rectangle with edges aligned as shown above. Stitch a line from the top left corner to the bottom right corner of the solid square, as shown. (If you prefer, you can first draw a faint pencil line from corner to corner to ensure a straight seam.)
  • Repeat with your remaining print 1 rectangles and solid squares.

SpinOut Block | Step 4

  • Trim the corners off of your sewn units, leaving a 1/4" seam allowance. Press your seam towards the solid square. Repeat for all 4 units.

SpinOut Block | Step 5
  • Set these units aside.
  • Repeat these same steps, but with your solid color rectangles and print 2 squares.

SpinOut Block | Step 6

  • Pair each of your print 1 rectangle units with a solid color rectangle unit. Sew the units together as shown above, creating the four quadrants of your block.

SpinOut Block

  • Lay out your four quadrants and sew together as shown above, first creating the top half and then the bottom half of your block, and then sewing the two halves together.
  • Press well and square up to 8.5".
I hope you enjoyed the SpinOut block pattern! If you make one, I'd love to see it. Be sure to add it to my Quilt Dad is my Homeboy Flickr group.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Pooches & Pickups Winner

Pooches & Pickups

Congratulations to the winner of the Pooches & Pickups fat quarter bundle! Special thanks to Laurie Wisbrun and Robert Kaufman fabrics for providing the prize.

The winner is #54, Reen, who blogs at Laney Family Crafts.

Reen said... 54

I have two grandsons who would love these fabrics! I like the gray/blue/green combination and would add a stripe, and a "green light" block to your darling quilt.

Congratulations! I'll look forward to seeing what you make for your grandsons! Please contact me with your mailing address and I'll get your prize out to you ASAP.

Hope you're all having a fantastic day!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Quiltmaker 100 Blocks Blog Tour

I'm so excited to share the news that one of my original block designs is featured in the newest issue of Quiltmaker's 100 Blocks from today's top designers magazine! I've been a loyal customer of this magazine since its first issue because of the many unique and interesting block designs that it offers. Not only would each block make for a spectacular quilt on its own, but the magazine is perfect for someone like me who participates in a lot of online quilting bees and block swaps, because it really broadens your options for fun & interesting quilt block designs.

It completely made my day when I saw the cover of the magazine because, not only is my block included inside, but it even appears on the cover!! If you look at the image above, it's the first block in the second row of 4 blocks (right under the colorful "x"-looking block.)

Here's a better photo of my block:

It's a pretty simple block to construct but creates a really cool graphic effect, especially when you start to play with light and dark tones to create contrast and shadow-like effects. I also love that it can be oriented either vertically or horizontally, and pieced in rows or columns. It's also a great block to show off some favorite prints. (And for those of you who think it looks a little familiar ... it was the process of designing this block that inspired my Ziggity Mug Rug -- a nod to how versatile this design can be.)

For my block, I used an interesting Asian-inspired line called Olympus by Clothworks. You can't really tell from the picture, but many of these prints also have a lot of texture to them, with raised stitches and interesting weaves. I'm currently making a full quilt inspired by my block -- stay tuned for that soon.

To celebrate my first (but hopefully not last) entry into Quiltmaker's 100 Blocks magazine, I'm sending a copy of issue 4 to one Quilt Dad reader. Simply leave a comment on this post and let me know if you've purchased an earlier issue of 100 Blocks and where / how you've used the block patterns. I'm looking forward to seeing some inspirational photos!