Monthly Archives: December 2017

Choices, Choices – 2018 Quilt Along Decisions

It is my hope to be a bit more mindful this year.  Maybe sew with more intention or planning.  Time is precious and I want to use it wisely.  To this end, I have been looking at the myriad of quilt alongs and block of the month programs popping up in our community.  Just search on 2018 QAL and you will get approximately 16 million hits.  (Truth – when I did the search, I got 16,200,000 results. Of course many are duplicates or things that don’t totally match my search criteria, but still – you get the idea.) But after checking out many of the opportunities I have decided on two.

My criteria were to have one scrappy project to use up some stash and for any program to be a monthly one.  I did the Sewcial Bee Sampler this year which was great, but a block a week sets a different pace. I want to make a monthly plan this time around.

Classic Stitches Row Quilt, February 2016

First on the list is this. Mari of Academic Quilter has hosted a quilt along/block of the month for the past three years.  I joined in with her first one which was a row quilt. (Above is the finished quilt from the Classic Stitches QAL.) She coordinates her QAL’s with Angela at So Scrappy and uses the monthly colors for the annual Rainbow Scrap Challenge.  I didn’t participate in the last two QAL’s because the blocks were more challenging than I was comfortable with.  But this year, Mari assured me the blocks were based on squares and not very fussy. (I am not a fussy quilter who likes to deal with 9 billion tiny pieces.)  This will be a block of the month and begins in January. I am happy to, once again, follow along with Angela’s RSC 18 plan and use my scraps. I sort of missed that interaction last year and my scrap bins hardly close so I clearly need to use them.  I know Mari well and she writes an excellent tutorial. Probably due to her long time teaching career, she is able to clearly explain the process and when I had questions she responded quickly. Per a recent post on her blog, Mari plans to announce the details for the 2018 QAL tomorrow, Saturday, December 30th.

Aurifil 2014 BOM; Quilt Top

Next on my agenda is the Aurifil Design Team’s annual QAL.  Each year Aurifil sponsors a fun QAL with a team of creative quilt designers.  Wonderful boxes of Aurifil thread are given as prizes each month.  Maybe this year is the year I win one?!?  The last time I followed along with an Aurifil QAL was in 2014.  I made the colorful quilt shown above using (mostly) Malka Dubrowsky’s fabrics.  It is one of my favorites because of the bold color scheme.

Hosted by Pat Sloan, this year’s event will be themed “The Places We Go” and blocks will be inspired by places the quilt design team has been.  I am curious to see how the blocks created by this team relate to the theme.  So many talented quilters are on the team this year.  Take a look:

2018 Aurifil Design Team

Jan – Katja Marek from Katja’s Quilt Shoppe
Feb – Scott Hansen from Blue Nickel Studios
Mar – Jo Avery from My Bear Paw
Apr – Yvonne Fuchs from Quilting Jetgirl
May – Minki Kim from Minki Kim
June – Kerry Goulder from Kid Giddy
July – Sherri McConnel from A Quilting Life
Aug – Rebecca Bryan from Bryan House Quilts 
Sept – Sharon Holland from Sharon Holland Designs
Oct – Sheri Cifaldi-Morrill from Whole Circle Studio
Nov – Sue O’very from Sue O’very Designs
Dec – Amy Sinibaldi from Nana Company

The designers are using black and white with a splash of color.  I am not sure if I will follow along or if I will change the pallet.  I do plan to use my scraps though so my colors will likely be based on which of my scrap bins are overflowing the most! I will need to make a decision soon though so I can get started in January.

These two monthly events should be easily integrated into my ongoing sewing.  I find interesting how after looking through the numerous events that are starting up, I ended up choosing two that I have already done.  Is it because I was successful and enjoyed them that I choose to do them again?  Or because I am timid and not wanting to venture out and try something different? Either way, I am looking forward to these. If you are planning to follow either of these QAL’s, let me know.  I would love to sew along with you!!

I am off to the sewing room.  Last night was a migraine night so I am running at half speed today.  But I have a bit of quilting left to do on a baby quilt and really hope to finish it before we turn to 2018.  Maybe I will have another post this year sharing this finish.  Wish me luck!!



Looking Ahead to 2018

When I sat down to write this post and thought about all that happened in 2017 I realized what a crazy, wonderful year it was.  Our family had many big events – the marriage of one son, birth of our first grandchild, my husband changed jobs to a new company and new position, Julia raised two pigs for the first time, and most recently, my youngest son became engaged to his girlfriend.  We traveled more than usual with two trips to Vermont and one to Toronto. The year was filled with so much joy and it buzzed by so very quickly.

Looking back at what was accomplished in the sewing room was also interesting. I made nine quilts, two shirts, a number of projects for my grand daughter, as well as numerous small projects like tote bags, mini quilts and zip pouches.  Additionally, I made about 50 chemex cozies for my Etsy shop.  I am happy with what I got done, especially in light of all that was going on in our family.

My biggest accomplishment has to be the expansion of my shop to include quilting cottons.  I began this process at the first of the year. It has been a tremendous learning experience and a rewarding one at that.  Figuring out how much to buy, how to market it, when to promote and when not – all of this has been a wonderful process.  I am grateful for all of you who have shopped with me, supporting my shop. Thank you so much!

In addition to my fabric shop, I opened a second Etsy shop where I carry sewing patterns.  This has been a great project but quite time-consuming. It is satisfying to have over 400 patterns listed, with another 150 or so that still need to be listed. The shop opened in June and I have had 145 sales thus far.

Now to look forward.  In the new year I will focus on five goals:

  1. Continue to grow both of my shops.  Adding new fabrics and holding occasional promotions is something I am looking forward to.  I also will be working with a group of quilt bloggers and creating blogger bundles each month.  Stay tuned for more on that, beginning in January!
  2. Work on my free motion and long arm quilting skills.  I have an opportunity to work with a gal that lives quite close to me who has a long arm.  She is interested in trading me time on her long arm for fabric from my shop.  This will enable to me have access to a machine close by, rather than driving to the shop where I rent time. (That shop is 45 miles from my home.
  3. I have three quilts in process right now.  I would like to really focus on these and finish them up.  I love each of them. My Twisted quilt top is about 50% complete. I have a scrappy HST project that I made as a Rainbow Scrap Challenge in 2016 and it sat in the closet all year, lonely and wanting to be finished. Finally, I have my Ring Me quilt.  This is going to be such a cool quilt.  I started it when I took part in a blog hop to celebrate No Scrap Left Behind, Amanda Jean Nyberg’s latest book last spring.  Originally I was going to make it lap size but the more I look at it, the more I like it.  So, I have decided to make it a queen size and it will be used in the guest room.
  4. Not really quilting or sewing related, but I want to set a goal to send birthday cards to my family and friends.  Seems like a small thing but I love receiving a note from someone in the mail and it is becoming a lost art.  I have a huge family but I am putting everyone on the calendar and cards will be sent!
  5. Finally, and most importantly, I need to work on acceptance of the limitations I experience due to my health.  For years now, I have had this drive to be super productive as a blogger and quilter (and also as a wife and mom). But my situation makes it really difficult to have a consistent level of productivity. It has been especially apparent over the past six months or so with my unhealthy days far outnumbering my healthy days.  This is really frustrating for me. So, the goal for 2018 is acceptance. Not that I won’t do what I can to stay healthy, of course i will.  But on the days I am down with a migraine and unable to be out and about, on the computer or at my sewing machine, I need to be OK with it. Blog posts are fun to write and I really enjoy the on-line quilting/crafting community but there will be weeks with less interaction. Such is life.  I am blessed in so many ways and on the down days, I need to remember this.

OK – Five goals.  I am absolutely confident I can achieve the first four.  It is the fifth that I will struggle with. I am up for the challenge though!  What are you planning for 2018?  If you are a goal setter, be sure to link up your post with the 2018 Planning Party hosted by Yvonne over at Quilting Jetgirl. You can link up until end of day on December 31st.

In closing I need to let you know I am having a huge End of Year Celebration over at my shop!!! All fabric, including the newest additions, is on sale. Hop over and take a look.

Two Instagram Tips to Share With You!

This is a quick post to share two bits of information about Instagram with you.

I really enjoy Instagram.  It took me a while to get into the rhythm of it but now that I have spent a considerable (probably way too much) time on Instagram, I have become quite a fan.  I like all of the visual inspiration and as always, the quilting and crafting community couldn’t be nicer or more supportive. So, here you go, two interesting tidbits of Instagram knowledge!

Instagram Spammers

The first tip has to do with creepy, spam loving weirdos who try to follow you.  It’s awful, right?  For a long time, I would see these weird guys following my feed. I was pretty darn sure they were not quilters, sewists or crafters. Ugh.  Each time I saw a new one, I reported it to IG and blocked the guy.  Getting more and more irritated, I posted the picture you see above (a screen shot of one of the weirdos) to my IG feed.  Turns out lots of us are dealing with this nonsense.  When I posted the screenshot and asked others for their input, I got so many comments from Instagram users who experience the same thing.  But one person, @buttoncounter, suggested I change my profile picture.  She said if I used a picture of something other than my face, the spamming would stop. Guess what? She is spot on correct!  I changed over to a quilt picture rather than my face and I have not had one since.

I should add that I don’t really think these spammy followers are of any danger but they are really annoying.  If you see one, just report it by clicking on their name which will take you to their profile page.  Click on the three dots to the right of their name.  Select “Report”.  Instagram will receive your notice that this is a spam follower.  That account will not have visibility of your account any longer.  Another alternative is to have a private Instagram account which means anyone wanting to follow you has to be given access by you.  This isn’t a great option for me as I want to use my Instagram feed for both my blog and fabric shop so I want people to be able to easily access my feed.  Changing the picture was key.  No more nonsense!  Let me know if you have any questions.

Determining Instagram Contest Winners

The second tip is relevant to those who use their Instagram account for business.  I have held a couple of fun giveaways on Instagram and it was a pain to figure out the winner.  If you have 300 entrants and number 101 was selected as the winner, I had to count comments until I got to the right person.  It was difficult to be entirely accurate while trying to scroll through comments, count and not lose track!  I was playing around with the comments, trying to figure out an easier, more accurate method.  Finally I found I could copy the comments into Excel.  For some reason, I didn’t really think the comments would be something I could copy and paste.  I had success doing this on a Windows laptop.  I couldn’t do it on the iPad though. It took me a while to figure this out because I don’t normallylook at Instagram on my laptop.  It is a mobile device application and looking at it on a laptop is clumsy. But for this specific purpose, it is fantastic.  If you decide to give this a try, make sure to load all of the comments for the giveaway post. Then click on the first one, drag all the way down until you highlight all of the comments. Copy them and paste into a blank Excel page. Your comments will load, one per line and then they are numbered for you.  You can easily verify you copied all of them by checking the total number of comments on the Instagram contest postand the total number of comments copied into Excel. Picking a winner, and then figuring out who it is, has become a very quick process.  Now that I have this down, I suppose I will just have to hold more giveaway contests!

While these are not life-changing tips,  hopefully they will help a few people out there! As always, feel free to ask questions or give input via the comments.

Finished! Christmas Tree Skirt

First of all, I want to thank you for the sweet comments on my last post.  I appreciate it.  Life isn’t predictable and this is just how it is — The migraines started almost ten years ago and I don’t see this changing any time soon.   But this week has been reasonable and I actually finished a project!  I also made a Christmas gift which I will share after the holidays. Hurray for time at the sewing machine.

I have wanted to make a quilted skirt for the Christmas tree for a long while.  Until now, I have just used a large piece of holiday fabric which I wrapped around the base of the tree.  But this year, we decided to decorate with two smaller trees instead of our usual very tall one.  This required two skirts, right?

I used a selection of holiday fabric for this.  Several of the prints are from Tis the Season, a line I carry in my shop.  The black print, the white tone on tone, and the darker red snowflake print were in my stash. The skirt was based on a pattern by Judy Metsker of Night Owl Quilting. This pattern when finished was a bit smaller than I wanted.  However, I had an older version of her pattern; it looks as though the newer version has size options.

At any rate, it was a very simple pattern.  I chose to quilt it sampler style with a different motif on each fabric using a white Mettler thread. I stitched a stipple on the red snowflake fabric and a little boxy FMQ motif on the Christmas gift fabric.

My favorite quilt motif is the row of basic Christmas trees I stitched along the border of the skirt.  I used a variegated Mettler thread in red, green and white which looks so festive.  On the white fabric I quilted a few wavy lines with stars on them.  I wasn’t able to get a photo that really shows this motif very well. I machine stitched the binding down using a zig zag stitch with the same variegated thread.  I think it looks great.

The second tree remains wrapped with that holiday fabric I have been using for so long.  But that is fine. The house looks festive and Christmas is around the corner.  How about you?  Is your tree up? Holiday shopping well underway?  Julia and I plan to go to Sacramento on Friday afternoon for the finishing touches on Christmas shopping.  I usually try to finish up early as the crowds get so crazy the week before Christmas.

Finally, I will be hosting a fun giveaway on Instagram this weekend.  Be sure to pop over Saturday morning to find out the details!  I held one last weekend and it was a lot of fun so I am going to do it again. Maybe this is your weekend to win!

Linking up to my usual favorites.  Check them ot at the top of the page, under Link Ups.




Its Been a While

Yikes, I checked my blog after many days away and realized I haven’t posted since the first of December.  So, this is just a quick one to check in and say hi.  It has been a rough start to the month for me. I  have mentioned before I deal with chronic migraine and it has been a constant battle these past couple of weeks.

I thought this humorous picture by Natalya Lobanova described what I deal with quite well. Sometimes it feels like I am constantly explaining or apologizing for being unable to keep a commitment or come to a scheduled appointment. Just today I cancelled a dental appointment (which I hate to do on such short notice as it causes gaps in their schedule) as well as a coffee date I was looking forward to with a friend (Sorry Kristi!)  I have another coffee date tomorrow morning and am crossing my fingers I will feel well enough to keep that one.

Chronic illnesses are very often invisible to others. Because of this, we never truly know what the person next to us in line at the store, walking down the street, or maybe driving in the lane up ahead of us, is really experiencing and it is important to remember that and treat each other with compassion and patience.   Additionally,  people living with chronic illness need to extend that same compassion to oneself. It takes an incredible amount of patience to live with something like this. I am so fortunate to have a great support system made up of family and friends.

Anyway, this is just my way of letting you know I am down for the count but once this cycle breaks, should be back on track.  Hopefully sooner rather than later. I have done very little sewing except for some custom orders for my Etsy customers.  Also I am in the midst of making a cute tree skirt for our Christmas tree and should be sharing that soon.

Now to put a positive spin on this post, I will share the Santa figure made by my husband when he was about 8 years old or so.  My mother-in-law brought it to me several months ago and I LOVE it. Made of toilet paper rolls and red tissue paper, this guy makes me smile each time I walk by.  I am so glad my MIL saved it and passed the treasure on to me. 🙂

See you soon!

Sewcial Bee Sampler Round Up

One of my favorite projects from this year has to be the quilt I made with the Sewcial Bee Sampler Quilt Along.  Remember this?  Hosted by Sharon Holland and Maureen Cracknell, there was one block released each Wednesday for twenty five weeks. There were several reasons for this being my favorite. One was the block design. The blocks were based on common piecing methods but Sharon and Maureen gave them a really modern look, probably because they included solids in their fabric selections. It gave the blocks such a fresh look.  Also, the blocks were doable.  I have been quilting for a while but I am definitely still in the advanced beginner stage and fussy, intricate blocks tend to frustrate me.  Finally, the community developed by Sharon and Maureen.  This was actually the main draw for me.  So many quilters joined in – I would have to say there are hundreds of SBS quilts either finished or in progress.

The use of social media greatly enhanced the development of a friendly group participating in this QAL.  Also, Sharon and Maureen were really dedicated to staying involved in the conversations on Instagram and put out a strong, positive vibe by giving great feedback and praise as we all shared the blocks we were working on.  While this is not my first QAL, it is the first time I really paid attention to the quilts others were making as I made mine.  With previous projects, I wasn’t as involved with the other quilters so I didn’t see as many projects made from the same quilt pattern.

The Sewcial Bee Sampler quilts that were made are gorgeous. I have had such a fun time perusing the #sewcialbeesampler hashtag and looking at the color schemes, fabric choices, and the ways quilters chose to set or arrange their blocks. I thought it might be fun to share some with you today.  When you look at the quilts one after the other, it is so cool to see the varied interpretations of the patterns Sharon and Maureen developed.

Let’s start with the queens of the quilt along, Sharon and Maureen!  Believe it or not, Sharon made two quilts (I had enough trouble keeping up with just one!) The quilt above was made with the same fabric for the block borders and sashing which gives a cohesive look to the quilt.  It makes the blocks float on the surface.

In the second version of the SBS quilt, Sharon used uniform frames for the blocks and chose to set them with a blue sashing.  Notice how distinctly the blocks stand out when sashed like this.  She used a palette focusing on blues, pinks and white which is really sharp.

This quilt is Maureen’s project. It looks like she sashed hers with a denim color chambray fabric. I like that she has some really vivid pops of color – the three bursts of yellow that stand out to me.

Also, because Maureen often designs fabrics with a large focal point, she was able to use those and do some great fussy cutting for block centers. Look at the shot above and you’ll see an owl, dragonfly and her gorgeous orange peony.

Cynthia of Quilting is More Fun than Housework, also used Maureen’s Garden Dreamer fabric for her quilt.  You will find the owl and the peony in her quilt as well.  Same fabrics building many of the blocks, yet it looks different.  Maybe partially due to the white sashing and varied fabrics used to frame the blocks?


My friend Mari of Academic Quilter also made a quilt.  She chose bright, colorful fabrics which gave her quilt a definite summery vibe.  It makes a person happy just to look at it and I think it is the colorful palette she used. She also framed her blocks in a variety of colors.

Let’s take a look at an international version of the SBS. I watched this quilt grow on Instagram.  Mariana (@cosertejercrear on Instagram) is a quilter who lives in a town just north of Valencia, in Spain.  She began quilting six years ago.  Because there are no quilt shops or guilds in her part of the world, Mariana has made friends with lots of quilters over the internet. She orders her fabric on-line and says most of her quilty friends are American.  Participating in a QAL that has such a strong presence on-line makes the world feel much smaller as we are always communicating with quilters from every corner of the world. Looking at Mariana’s quilt, she used really bright colors and lots of prints.  This could be overwhelming but it isn’t — she used white frames on the blocks and a calm, blue sashing to set the blocks. It ties everything together neatly.

This one will surprise you.  Lisa made the SBS quilt as her first quilt project ever. I know…. that is crazy, right?? When I saw her posts on Instagram (@knitluxe) and realized she was a newbie quilter, I wanted to know more. She has been a crafter for a long while who has done a lot of knitting and has made clothing but this quilt is her first attempt at quilting.  She lives in New Mexico and clearly has a talent for sewing!  Like Sharon, Lisa framed her blocks in white and also sashed them with white.  Again, the blocks are floating.  The crisp blue tones look great with the white setting. Kudos to Lisa for taking on something like this as her first project!

Last but not least is my friend Sarah’s quilt. Sarah of Cedar Fork Stitches lives in cold, cold Montana in a really rural area.  I think she told me she is 40 minutes from town.  Kind of remote, I’d say!  She and I have been friends on Instagram for a while now.  (She is @cedarforksarah)  I love Sarah’s quilt for the personal twist she put on it.  She chose to skip the frames on the blocks, added a few of her own blocks and put a great border on the quilt.  The chambray she used for the sashing and borders is really rich and sets her blocks off well.

Clearly this post could go on and on because there are hundreds more quilts to see.  If you want to take a look, hop over to Instagram and search on #sewcialbeesampler. As I write this, there are 7,280 photos in the hashtag.  Really amazing and far more than I think Maureen or Sharon anticipated!!

I am looking around at the quilt alongs and block of the month events that are starting to line up for 2018.  I’ll be back with a round up of some fun events in a few weeks.  If you know of a good one, leave it in the comments and I will check it out.  I am definitely going to do at least one.  Just need to decide which one!