Sunday, March 25, 2012

Quick post on a few random things ...

Hi everyone! Hope you had a great weekend. Just wanted to pop in with a quick post tonight, since I don't have much to share. And besides, I'm wallowing in the loss by my UNC Tar Heels tonight. Boo.

I was hoping to show off a new quilt this weekend -- and launch a corresponding giveaway to boot! -- but it was rainy all weekend here in NC and I wasn't able to get any good pictures of my quilt. So stay tuned for that.

In the meantime, I wanted to share a few quick things ...

First, did you see this awesome new badge that Tula Pink made available on her blog? I love it! Be sure to grab one and add it to your computer desktop, your blog, your Facebook page, Twitter page, or whatever other social channels you're into these days.

(And speaking of Tula, I may or may not have just finished 2 (yes, 2!) quilts made from her upcoming Nightshade line. You may want to keep your eyes peeled for Fat Quarterly Issue 9 ... I'm just sayin'.)

flock of starlings front
A Flock of Starlings, by Terri Carpenter (thequiltedfox) as seen on Flickr

Second, I wanted to share this AMAZING mini quilt that Terri (aka thequiltedfox) made and shared in my QuiltDad is my Homeboy Flickr group. It's based on my Modern Starlings block pattern that I shared on the Generation Q blog a while back. And here's the crazy thing -- Terri's quilt is almost EXACTLY what I envisioned when I came up with that block, but haven't had a chance to make myself yet. Terri beat me to it with a similar vision ... and I LOVE it so much! You can read more about Terri's quilt, which she made for a mini quilt challenge, in her blog post here. Thanks, Terri!

Saw The Hunger Games last night. I'd give it a solid "pretty good". At the risk of sounding cliche, the book was better. I mean ... it always is, right? But I think it was pretty well done, overall. The casting and acting was good. I only wish there was a little more of the action from the book, and that some of the complexity of the games and the story translated better to the movie version. But I guess there's only so much you can do in a limited amount of time, huh?

I've also (finally) started watching Game of Thrones on HBO. I'm only just starting to catch up on season 1. I'm two episodes in, and I'm itching to start the third. It seems like something I'll definitely get hooked on. Anyone out there watching it too?

And lastly, are you playing along with our Modern Madness game over on the Fat Quarterly blog? If not, you can read more about it here, or jump right into the fray with our current voting.

OK, enough with the long, rambling, very-unlike-me post. Have a great week, everyone!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

A way to collaborate, and then commemorate

Collaborate & Commemorate | A mini quilt and signature block pattern

I had a blast being part of the Week of Collaboration over on the Modern Quilt Guild blog. Not only did I get to kick the week off with my beloved Sew Connected quilt, but I was tickled to see that I personally participated in and contributed to several of the virtual quilting bee quilts and tutorials featured throughout the week. Then, I closed out the week with a new original project idea, which I call my Collaborate & Commemorate Mini Quilt / Signature Block pattern.

Collaborate & Commemorate | A mini quilt or signature block pattern

From my post:
To wrap up our week of collaboration, I’m sharing my idea to make a commemorative mini quilt where your fellow group members can each write their name and hometown, as well as dates and any other memories, funny stories, or notable quotables from the journey you took together. Or, you can piece this as a large block into the backing of your quilt for a lasting record of who you worked with to create the quilt together.

To read more, or to get the pattern, check out my post here.

Collaborate & Commemorate | A mini quilt or signature block pattern

Thanks, Modern Quilt Guild!!

Monday, March 12, 2012

It's all about the collaboration, people!

SewConnected Quilt

I'm really excited that the Modern Quilt Guild invited me to be a guest blogger today to kick off their week on collaboration, part of their 100 Days of Modern Quilting series. For me, the whole appeal of quilting, sewing, blogging, Flickr-ing, Tweeting, Facebooking lies at the heart of where they all connect, and it can be boiled down to one word: collaboration. Simply put, I play this game because I love the people I get to play it with and -- more importantly -- I can help create things more beautiful, ambitious, and inspired than anything I could ever create alone. Sure, swaps and bees are the most obvious points of collaboration -- but I believe that even taking the fabric and artwork created by a designer and then making something new and different from it is a form of collaboration.

SewConnected Quilt

In my post, I highlight a quilt that I've never shown off in all its completed glory here on the blog: my SewConnected quilt. I just recently finished binding it up, and it immediately became one of my favorite quilts. Ever. I love the happy colors, the gorgeous prints, the modern block designs, and the fact that I now have a little bit of 12 other fabulous quilters living in my house with me. Thanks Jacquie, Amy E., Meg, Stefanie, Dee, Amanda Jean, Amy D., Audrey, Buffy, Sarah, Rita, Tracy, Lyssa, Jessica, and guest block-maker Rachel for sharing your time, skill, and talent with me.

SewConnected Quilt

See more pictures of my quilt and read more about my thoughts on quilting and collaboration here.

SewConnected Quilt

SewConnected Quilt

Sunday, March 11, 2012

January & February Quilting Bee Blocks

Thanks so much for all of the kind words about my tie-front tote bags from my last post! Don't forget, there are still a few days to enter for your chance to win a free e-course from Trish Preston of Two Peas in a Pod. Just head over to my post on the Fat Quarterly blog to enter.

I'm sitting in the waiting room of my local Honda dealership waiting for my minivan to have its oil changed, so I figured it was a good time to catch up on some recent quilting bee blocks that I've made.

Over in the Bee Tweet group, January was Rebecca's month and she requested fun little house blocks. I was so happy to see this, because I always love making house blocks. I ended up making two blocks for Rebecca from the fabric she sent. First, a church or schoolhouse:

Bee Tweet - House #1

And second, just a funky little cottage:

Bee Tweet - House #2

Here they both are together. I hope you like them, Rebecca!

Bee Tweet - January

I joined a new virtual quilting bee that started in January. It's called the Free Bee and I was invited to join by the fabulous Lynne of Lily's Quilts (and also of Fat Quarterly, of course.) The bee is placing its emphasis on free and improv piecing. Really, how could I refuse?

Krista of Poppyprint kicked us off in January and posted this AMAZING photo as her inspiration. I just fell in love with it -- it has such a modern, faded, beachy driftwood-type feel to it, doesn't it? I'm holding on to this one for future quilt ideas.

volkskrant woud
Photo courtesy of Ingrid Jansen (wood & wool stool) via Flickr

I had a great time shopping for new fabrics for Krista's quilt, and wound up buying a whole lot more than I needed for just three quilt blocks. So stay tuned .... you're going to see these fabrics again!

Here are the three blocks I made. One large:

Free Bee - January

And two small:

Free Bee - January

Can't wait to see Krista's quilt come together!

Free Bee - January

OK, ready for February? Back over in Bee Tweet, Leigh sent a really great assortment of fun blue and green prints and asked for quarter log cabin blocks inspired by Nettie's Square Deal quilt from the Block Party book.

First, I made one 13" block that I chopped down into 4 - 6.5" square blocks:

Bee Tweet Blocks #2-5 | February

Then I made one other large 12.5" block ...

Bee Tweet Block #1 | February

... and two more small 6.5' blocks.

Bee Tweet Blocks #6-7 | February

As you can tell by the number of blocks I made for Leigh, I had a great time making these!

Things began to get challenging over in the Free Bee in February. The group is chock full of some amazing artists and quilters -- and I use those two terms together, because the bee sometimes drifts closer to the realm of art quilts than I've even been comfortable with before.

Case in point: for February, Marianne requested urban industrial blocks inspired by the work of art quilter Elizabeth Barton (here's a gallery that Marianne set up, and here's another set of urban inspirational photos). Gorgeous, for sure, but how could I pull this off? Elizabeth's work is a far cry from what I am used to making. But that's what I love about this bee -- the opportunity to push myself into new areas of creativity that I haven't tapped into before.

I was drawn to this photo that Marianne took inside the Montreal metro, and took my inspiration from it:

Here's what I created:

Free Bee Block | February

I went heavy on the texture with some Moda Cross-weave fabric in grey and tried to add some urban grit by adding in Grunge solids in yellow and orange. I attempted to give the block some dimension and, for fun, stitched on a few hexagons to represent industrial cogs.

You should definitely check out the other blocks that people are making for Marianne -- I'm truly blown away by the skill and creativity in this group. And wait until you see what I need to make for this bee in March ... eeeeek!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Tie-front Totes

Tie Totes

I recently wrapped up two new tote bags (which was a feat in itself, considering I'm a bag-o-phobe!) I was overdue on a homemade Christmas gift for my sister-in-law, so tackling a new bag project seemed the perfect fit.

Rather than following a traditional paper pattern, I made the bags by taking an e-course from Trish Preston, in which she steps through the construction of her original Tie-front Tote pattern. Trish hosts her e-courses on her Two Peas in a Pod site.

For the first bag -- the one that went to my sister-in-law -- I chose two of my favorite prints from Tula Pink's Parisville line:

Tie Tote in Parisville

And for the second, another two favorite prints -- this time, from Amy Butler's Love line:

Tie Tote in Amy Butler Love

Trish's e-course was fantastic and I really can't recommend it enough, especially for beginners and fellow bag-o-phobes like myself. You can read more about my experience taking the course -- as well as enter to win a free enrollment -- over on the Fat Quarterly blog.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

My new OLFA scissors

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Shortly before Christmas, I received a wonderful little box from the fine folks at OLFA. They contacted me and asked if I'd be interested in testing driving their fantastic little 5" Precision Applique Scissors. Of course I said yes, and I wanted to share some of my thoughts on the product with all of you.

New scissors

First, though, let me tell you a little bit about my use of various sewing tools. In short, I don't. I only have a couple of rulers (and really only use 2 of them), a single rotary cutter, I barely use pins, and have gotten by with only 2 pair of scissors -- a large pair for cutting fabric, and a small pair that I keep near my machine for snipping threads and stuff. And even those I inherited from my wife, who (as you may remember) really got the sewing thing up and off the ground here in our house. So, I don't really shop for many notions and I'm kind of accustomed to the tools I have.

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But you know the old saying, "you don't know what you're missing"? I fear that's the case for me with many state-of-the-art sewing notions. I'd file these sleek and sharp scissors under their category. I can appreciate the comfort of their large handles, their stability, their ease of movement, and the fact that they cut like a hot knife through butter. Though I admit that I don't really do applique (for which these scissors were surely designed), I am sure they would be unrivaled for that purpose.

And even though I don't do applique, the OLFA scissors have become my new on-the-go scissors for embroidery (the Hoop Up swap recently began its third round!) and for my newest hobby ...

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Yes, I'm teaching myself how to cross-stitch! But more on that soon ...

If you can't tell, I'd definitely recommend the OLFA 5" Precision Applique scissors to anyone in the market for a new pair of small scissors for handwork, applique, or any on-the-go projects.

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Disclaimer (only because it seems like bloggers who review products are increasingly being criticized or scrutinized for their positive reviews of gratis products):
From time to time, I am contacted by companies, publishers, business owners, etc. to "test drive" or review their products. I only review or endorse products that I truly like, and would want to share with my readers. I am contacted about many more products and services than the ones that make it to my blog -- some I turn down outright, and others I try but choose not to review -- so you can be confident that I am only recommending products that I myself would (and do) use.