Category Archives: Giveaway

Meet the Designer – Carrie Bloomston

Today I bring you another fantastic conversation with a talented, giving and very friendly artist, Carrie Bloomston. This is the fifth interview in my series, Meet the Designer. I have had the pleasure of getting to know some really fantastic women in the world of fabric design.  Previously I have posted interviews with Sarah Golden of Andover, Maureen Cracknell of Art Gallery Fabric, Kim Schaefer of Andover, and Sharon Holland of Art Gallery Fabric.  Each of these women have inspired me with their tales of how they design, what their process is and how they came to work for the company that creates their fabric.  Today’s interview will not disappoint. I loved every bit of the conversation I shared with Carrie.

Let’s get started!  Carrie Bloomston is currently designing fabric for Windham Fabrics. Her latest line, Dreamer, is a stunning collection of color and pattern with a bit of a southwestern feel.  We will touch on that in a bit though.  When I was reading about Carrie on various sites, prior to talking to her, I came across this bit she had written for her bio on the Windham Fabric site. Re-reading it, after talking to her, I realized it just describes her perfectly so I want to share it with you.

Life is so beautiful.
We are lucky.
We do cool things,
collect experiences,
and hopefully,
love well.

My work-
whether abstract painting,
designing patterns and fabric,
or parenting,
is all about expressing joy and love.

For me, art is a place to figure the world out-
to make sense of it.

After getting to know Carrie a bit, it became clear she treasures life and the ordinary experiences in day to day life. She is always eager to put those experiences into her art and writing, as well as her teaching and parenting. Carrie is a wife, mom to her two children ages seven and eleven years old, artist, author, and teacher. Like any working mom, she strives for balance.

Sweet family picture; Photo credit to Jill McNamara

I love the family picture she shared with me.  Take a look at the artwork on the wall behind them. They drew frames directly on the wall and have a place to display the kid’s artwork on an ever rotating basis.  What a cool idea!

Painting since she was thirteen years old, Carrie innately likes to ‘work big’. Small canvases feel constricting to her. She explained she wants to be able to use large gestures, painting from her shoulder, not her fingers. Because Carrie is a very tactile artist, I wondered how this translated to creating designs for fabric.  She explained to me she does not translate her art to an electronic file on the computer.  She hasn’t wanted to learn this part of the process.  She sends her paintings and sketches to Windham and they create the files for the manufacturing process. Carrie spoke highly of the process used when designing for Windham. She greatly appreciates their expertise in the conversion process and said they are wonderful to collaborate with. It takes some back and forth between Carrie and the in house designers to get the colors right which are based on a hand painted palette created by Carrie.

We talked about creating a line of fabric and how it comes to fruition. I loved the parallel Carrie used to explain her process. She said it is ‘like true jazz where one instrument starts and the others follow, as though a magnet were pulling them in’. So it is with the story her fabric lines tell. She gets an idea for a theme, creates a focal point, and then begins to design the other fabrics to tell the story. With her most current line, Dreamer, she thought about telling a story containing an earthly or ancestral feel. She wanted it to have a tribal element to it as well as a southwest feel. (Carrie lives in Arizona.) She went off to take a hike and paint inspired her.  While out there she tried to capture the spirit of the bees and this became one of the focus fabrics for the line.

She continued working to develop her story. While her son was studying Arizona Native American history, they found pictures of pottery on line. This process then provided inspiration for the broken pottery fabrics in the Dreamer line.

The line continued to develop in this fashion. As they worked together Carrie and Windham agreed to support the Xerces Society with this line. Each of them donate a portion of the earnings from Dreamer to Xerces in an effort to support the research and improvement of the declining bee population.

Within Carrie’s fabric lines, you might notice she often uses newsprint within her patterns. It might be the focus of the entire piece of fabric or just a small element within a complex print. She enjoys incorporating text and encouraging words within her fabrics. Also, illustrating with newsprint, she demonstrates her love of “elevating low materials to higher forms of art”.

Sometimes her projects might involve brown paper grocery bags and even styrofoam meat trays.  She loves to create vision boards with collages of newsprint and magazine clippings as well. Another reason to incorporate newsprint in her work is to memorialize the print media. As we all know, print media is in rapid decline with the rise of technology. It makes her happy to know that people will look at quilts made with her fabric years from now and read bits of print media.

Carrie learned to sew when she  was pregnant with her daughter. She joined a Sunday Sewing group and the women in the group taught her about sewing technique. She in turn enjoyed explaining her feelings about creating. Describing herself as a creative enabler, she strives to teach others to listen to their creative voice. In 2014 Carrie wrote her book, The Little Spark, 30 Ways to Ignite Your Creativity.  The book was published by Stash books, a division of C&T Publishing. You might want to watch this short video about her book.

When I first purchased the Dreamer line for my shop, I did a bit of research on Carrie as the designer of the line and discovered her book. I quickly ordered it and read it cover to cover. It is written as a workbook with each chapter providing a little exercise to help the reader discover the creative side of herself. As I read the book, I felt it not only reinforced the creative part of me, but the exercises emboldened me. They help you to feel confident in your knowing, your experiences, your creativity.

Carrie talked to me about being a seeker. She defines it as trying to live with a ‘beginner’s mind.’  This frame of mind means to remain curious and continually look for ways to expand one’s skills and be challenged,  If you keep seeking new ideas, ways of doing and knowing, you will be able to experience the almost euphoric joy of discovery. Children have this. Remember the joy of watching a child figure something out? They live with beginner’s mind. Carrie loves to “not be the expert” and would rather always be learning and stretching beyond her skill level. In her book she illustrates how to find the confidence to stretch ourselves and grow in our creativity. She hopes her book encourages the reader to live life in a fuller way and to remain open to experiences which will increase the richness of day to day life. When I read the book, I kept thinking that many of the little lessons she describes in each of the thirty chapters would be applicable to my home life, my personal life, and my work life. These projects she describes are beneficial on many levels, both creative and emotional. It is sort of a ‘self-help’ book published in the crafting and artistry genre.  I mean this as a positive – It is a very cool book.

Carrie in her studio; photo credit to Jill McNamara

As we talked we touched on social media quite a bit. While Carrie has a strong social media presence, she touched on one point that struck me. (This is also covered in her book.) She mentioned that to share one’s work constantly causes the artist to lose the intimacy of creating. When she is painting or drawing and then stops to take a picture and post it, she has removed herself from that creative zone. It is precious to stay with your project, or artwork, and let it happen organically. Keep it to yourself and see where it takes you. Additionally, constant sharing on social media causes a person to rely on external validation from others. How many likes do I get? How many followers responded to this piece of work. This can be damaging – if a post doesn’t receive enough ‘likes’ it isn’t necessarily due to negative reaction to the work. Rather it is likely because of the algorithms used by the software.  Your post probably didn’t pop up in the feed of every follower. Social media requires a creative person to have such a thick skin! Isn’t it better to validate from within? To know that your quilt, painting, recipe or photo is your creation, to enjoy both making it as well as the finished project is very satisfying.

Lest you think this is easy, let me assure you it is not. Carrie knows how difficult it can be to pursue a creative path. She spoke of her own personal issues with control and how difficult it has been for her to relinquish control of her work. She continues to work on this and is becoming more comfortable with it. For example, when she sends her artwork off to Windham for them to convert it into files and print it on fabric, she has to let go of it and trust them to use what she has made in the way they see appropriate. Never easy to do,  but it is very gratifying when she sees her work being sewn into quilts and so many other projects by quilters and sewists everywhere.

Another theme that runs through her book and our conversations is to live with gratitude. I commented on this thread that I kept reading and hearing in our discussion. About nine years ago, Carrie and her husband had a terrible scare when their son was diagnosed with a serious blood disorder at the age of two years.  He had a tumor in his hip bone. The bone scan happened on Christmas Eve and they spent the next two days anxiously waiting to find out the severity of his illness.  He was treated aggressively for the next year and they are deeply grateful for the good health he enjoys today. Carrie feels this experience dissolved some barriers between herself and others. It taught her to appreciate receiving help from others and to give of herself to others. She said where she was ‘almost maniacally controlling’, she learned she is not in charge of these things. Gratitude became “the bedrock of her life”.  I love that sentence. ‘The bedrock of her life’… gratitude should be the basis from which people react, create, and interact with others.

At the risk of making this post too long, I want to touch on one last part of our discussion.  When I read her book, I kept questioning the value of certain parts of the book in relation to me and the things I make.  I usually make things after being inspired by something I have seen, or using a pattern I have found or purchased.  When I made the THREAD and FABRIC mini quilts (where I practiced relief quilting and surrounded the thematic words with improv pieced fabric), I felt more joy in making those than most of the items I make. It was hard for me to articulate this but the more we talked about it, it began to make sense.  Carrie talked to me about arts and crafts and how the two co-exist.   In her opinion, crafting is done using a skill(s) one possesses and creating something. 

Then my notes say this:

Art = Personal = Free

When I wrote this, she was teaching me that to create an art form is to trust yourself and use those skills you have in a way personal to you, somehow meaningful to oneself. Not following directions but allowing yourself to create independent of direction and instruction. This is a vulnerable place to be. What if it comes out terribly? If I fail miserably? I cannot ‘blame’ the pattern or the instructor for the less than awesome project if I am creating it independently and in my own fashion. But creating or making something personally meaningful is so satisfying. It is worth the risk of disappointment in the project. I remember when I made those two mini quilts, there was no plan other than to practice relief quilting. It sort of just evolved. I love those two little quilts and I remember feeling really satisfied and focused when I worked on them.  It was so interesting to talk through this with Carrie.

OK – Let’s wrap this up, though I could go on and on. Suffice it to say, I loved this interview and feel like I learned a great deal. Oh, wait – one more thing….  When we talked it was late afternoon and both of her children had play dates going on in the house. I loved how often she had to stop, talk to the kids, take care of the dog and be a mom.  We are all just regular people, doing regular stuff and these designers we so admire are too.  Carrie kept apologizing for the interruptions but it was fine. She is a mom. That’s how life is.

C&T Publishing has generously offered two copies of The Little Spark, 30 Ways to Ignite Your Creativity for two lucky readers. Let’s get a good discussion going in the comments. To enter the giveaway, tell me please:

If you could be assured success in something, anything, what would you try to do?  It has been mandated, you will succeed! You will not fail.  What would you want to do? I would love to hear. There are so many things that I would like to do but the risk of bombing out creates these inhibitions. Actually that fear of failure limits me in what I try to do.  How about you? Here is one for me.  If I knew it would work, I would make a quilt for my king size bed. I feel like that is such a huge canvas to make a quilt that large. In my mind’s eye, the quilt is somehow made with very large pieces, lots of negative space and straight line quilting in some sort of geometric pattern.  But I don’t want to use a pattern and I don’t know “how” to start. Making a king size quilt will take a lot of fabric and batting and time. It frightens me on some level to invest time and money into this when I am not confident of the result.

The giveaway will remain open until Tuesday night, July 11th.  I will pull two names.  If you live in the US, you will receive a hard copy of Carrie’s book.  If you live internationally, you will receive an E-book.

As always when I post these interviews, Carrie’s fabric is on sale in my shop.  I have marked it down by 15% so no coupon code is necessary. Her work is gorgeous and inspiring. If you haven’t seen this line yet, come take a look. I bet you will love it. Sale ends on Sunday night, July 9th.

I Am the Sewcial Bee Sponsor This Week!

Are you participating in the Sewcial Bee Sampler Sew Along, sponsored by the wonderful Maureen Cracknell and the talented Sharon Holland?  It has been on-going for the past twenty-one weeks with one block released each week.  There will be 25 blocks total.  I am making blocks, though I must admit to being behind by about three or four blocks at this point.  But I love the quilt I am making. I have been using fabrics from the Fleet & Flourish collection and the Garden Dreamer collection, both of which are designed by Maureen Cracknell. I have mixed in solids as needed.  It will be sashed with one of my all-time favorite, low volume fabrics, Mesh Joy – designed by Sharon Holland. Click here to see it in my shop!

If you are participating in the sew along, you are aware of the giveaway that happens each Friday.  Wonderful prizes have been offered up by the event sponsors each week.  This week I am hosting the giveaway. If you are eligible, hop over to Maureen’s site to find out how to enter to win this bundle of fat quarters! A combination of eleven fabrics from two of Sharon’s lines, you could win pieces of both Gossamer and Bountiful. These muted, peaceful prints are gorgeous as a bundle.  They are available now in my shop, both as fat quarters and yardage.

Essentially each participant is a winner this week.  You may use coupon code SEWCIALBEE15 to receive a 15% discount off of your purchase from my shop all weekend long.  The code will be active through Sunday night, June 25th. If you purchase one of the special SBS bundles and then are lucky enough to be drawn as the winner, I will refund the amount of purchase. No worry there. Take advantage of the coupon code to do some shopping — there are all sorts of wonderful fabrics to choose from! Happy Sewing. 🙂

 

Island Batik Goes Modern + A Giveaway!

 

The challenge presented to the Island Batik Ambassadors this month was to create a modern quilt. That’s it, there were no other guidelines. Talk about a blank slate! I decided to turn to my copy of Quilting Modern by Jacquie Gering and Katie Pederson. There are so many fun projects in this book. For this batik challenge, I selected the Swirling Medallion quilt.

This project is quite simple. It is constructed of HST’s created with 4 1/2″ blocks. A subset of the HST’s have a triangle of black applied to a corner, improv style. (Basically a stitch and flip method.) Those black corners are placed so as to create some movement within the quilt (the swirl). Were I to make this again, I would have made my black triangles larger. There are places where they don’t touch each other and I feel this lessens the effect substantially.

The pattern would have you add another row of the background blocks to frame off the orange diamond shape. I didn’t add these because I wanted to hang it in a certain spot in my entry way and it would have been just a tad too large. I was careful to leave enough of a seam allowance so I wouldn’t cut off the orange points. Hurray!

Using a buttery shade of Aurifil thread, I quilted with straight lines in each quadrant. Once I got to the  corner beyond the orange stripe, I changed direction and quilted on the diagonal, radiating out.

I am happy with the overall look and think the blue and orange are bright and cheery for summertime. My quilt model was in a mood.  Can you tell she is two weeks away from summer break?

Island Batik has been incredibly generous with the ambassador program. It is time to share the wealth!  Let’s have a giveaway. Just because. A batik celebration of sorts! First up for the win is this package of ten inch squares, called River’s Edge.  It is a selection of earthy browns and blacks and there are two of each print for a total of 42 squares.

 

The second prize up for grabs is a charm square pack.  This is a gorgeous set of charms with a theme of dots and circles.  Blues, grays, whites, browns and some black make up the pack of 42 charms (2 of each print.)

 

NOTE:i  Giveaway is now closed!

I would love to share these with two winners. Due to the cost of postage, this is open to US residents only. (I’m sorry!)  To enter to win, leave a comment that will make us smile. Did you do anything fun over the weekend? Share with us. If you are a follower, leave a second comment and tell me how you follow.  I will draw a winner on Thursday evening announce on Friday morning!  Also, I want to remind you I have a newsletter sign up form on the right side of the page. I will be using my newsletter to communicate information about my shop. When I have new fabric, a sale or a fun event, I will send it out in the newsletter. I hope you will sign up and join in the fun.  Happy Monday!!

No Scrap Left Behind – Blog Hop

I am thrilled to be a participant in the Blog Hop celebrating the new book No Scrap Left Behind. This book, written by Amanda Jean Nyberg of Crazy Mom Quilts, is an excellent book. The second book for Amanda Jean, she includes 16 projects which are sure to inspire you to pull out your scrap bins and start creating. You might be familiar with her first book which she co-authored with Cheryl Arkinson, Sunday Morning Quilts. I have that one as well and love them both!

Amanda Jean is the queen of scrappy quilting – if you are not already familiar with her work, please check out her blog.  This blog was one of the first ones I discovered back when blogging was becoming such a resource for information and tutorials.  I remember one of the first quilts I made was based on her (free) pattern, Fair and Square.  Since then, I have been a loyal follower who has learned an incredible amount by reading Amanda Jean’s blog.

Back to the book, I ordered this just as soon as it was released. After reading through it, I was pleased to find out the quilts were divided into sections. Some quilts use strings, some use squares and others, triangles. There is also a section on tiny bits and pieces where she outlines the methods to made adorable pin cushions. (Next to her scrappy quilts, I think Amanda is known for her deep affection for pin cushions and polka dots!)  Another facet of the book is Amanda’s explanation of color with some of the projects. She designed quilts that are great examples of projects using different scales, or sizes, of pieces as well as a broad selection of color and value.  The explanation of fabric and color selection is clearly written and very helpful. She gives several ideas for alternate ways to make the projects which enables the reader to find just the right project.


Looking through the book, I was tempted by several different patterns. For the purposes of this hop, I chose to make the Ring Me quilt. I love the effect of the stripped piecing and the open, solid background. Trying to stick with using my stash, I chose to use a gray background. I had a large piece of Bella solid in Graphite and love the depth it gives the quilt.

I must admit, I was overly confident when I told Amanda that I would be able to get the quilt top finished for the hop. It looked so simple when I looked at the pattern. And it is simple!  But oh my gosh, it is a fair amount of piecing going on there! Losing just over a week to my Vermont trip earlier this month didn’t help matters either. For a few days I tried to push myself toward a finish but I (thankfully) decided to slow down and just share my progress for this post. I really like how this is coming along and didn’t want to hurry it and end up with a lesser finish.

For now, progress shots will have to do. Like I said, the pattern is quite simple. I strip pieced the colorful rings around the solid gray blocks. The only trouble I had was the strips are prone to stretching. When using scraps, they are cut every which way and not always with the grain of the fabric. Attaching the two strips to the top and bottom of the block was fine. The problem seemed to occur when I added the background squares to the pieced strips. I think I am too careless with the iron and you know what those rock star quilters are always preaching, “press, don’t iron”.  I was ironing and it stretched the strips and I would end up with corners that don’t quite line up. For the most part, I don’t think the lack of precision there will really matter. The overall effect is still going to be good.  Once I realized the problem, I started to watch this part of the process and be more careful with the iron. This is helping and my precision is improving.

Finally, I love the exercise in color this quilt provides. As I grouped strips and stitched them together, it was satisfying to try different colors together. As I have mentioned in prior posts, color can give me trouble at times. This was a nice side benefit to this project. At any rate, I love the quilt so far and should finish it up soon. You can expect another post when I have a finish to share!

As part of the hop, we were also asked to share our scrap sorting and storage methods with you. Being a fairly organized person, I do have all sorts of scraps sorted and stored. My scraps that are less than say the size of a fat eighth, are sorted by color and kept in shoebox size bins.  Each are labeled by color which probably isn’t entirely necessary since I can basically see through the bin enough to know what is in there. The shoe box size is really not big enough and currently my blue and green bins hardly close since they are just bursting with scrap. My solid scraps, of all colors, are kept in a separate tub. Until this project, the solids tub was overflowing. It will close now but still, it is quite full. Do you see the large zip lok bag between the print and solid scraps? That contains my extra bits and pieces of improv or ‘made’ fabric.  These are left over trimmings from improv projects and certainly couldn’t be tossed!


This isn’t all though, nope not by a long shot. I also have zip lok bags for squares. When I am cutting and happen to remember, I will cut my scraps into squares. I cut charms (5″ squares) as well as 3 1/2″, 3″, 2 1/2″ squares.  Those are just stacked by size and kept in a bag.  Well, except for the charms, which are kept in a box and marked. Trimmings from flying geese blocks, you know, those tiny HST’s, are in their own bag too. Finally, I keep holiday fabric scraps in their own (very large) bag.


Reviewing all of this, I am not sure whether it is the sign of a very organized quilter or someone who may end up on the reality TV show, Hoarders. Is this a problem — is an intervention needed??? Will I ever use these bits and pieces? I hope so and having both of Amanda’s books, Sunday Morning Quilts and No Scrap Left Behind, should help me use them.

Do you have a similar problem? Are you a scrap hoarder like the rest of us? The first step is always admitting the problem, right? The second step is to win this book!  C&T Publishing and Amanda Jean have offered a giveaway for each blog on the hop. If the giveaway is won by a USA participant, they will receive a paper copy. International winners will receive an e-book.  Either way, this is an excellent book to add to your library!! To enter the giveaway, please share your scrap busting habits or your scrap storing and sorting methods. Help us out here. Some of us are drowning in scraps.  Help!  For an extra entry follow me on Instagram, Facebook or the blog and then let me know how you follow.   The giveaway will be open through the weekend and a winner will be selected Monday morning, May 1st. Good luck!

NOTE: this giveaway is not closed. Thanks to everyone for participating!

There are many more chances to enter the giveaway to win a copy of this book! Here is the schedule for the hop. I hope you will check out the other projects and interpretations of the quilts in this book. You will surely be inspired.

Monday, April 24th Mary Kolb
Tuesday, April 25, Lee Monroe
Wednesday, April 26, Sandi Hazlewood
Thursday, April 27, Bernie Kringel — You’re here!!
Friday, April 28, Erin Cox
Monday, May 1, Katherine Greaves
Tuesday, May 2, Tracy Mooney
Wednesday, May 3, Cheryl Arkison
Thursday, May 4, Debbie Jeske
Friday, May 5, Amy Smart

 

Note: There are affiliate links in this post, meaning if you click through and make a purchase, I will receive a small payment as part of the sale.

Springtime Blog Hop Celebration

Happy Monday Everyone!  Back in December when I first started working on the expansion of my Etsy shop, I wrote to a few blogger friends and asked for their support of my project. As one would expect of this quilting community, they immediately said they would be happy to help.

My original plan was to host this blog hop at the end of January. When I placed my fabric orders in early December I was foolish enough to believe the ship dates that I was given by the manufacturers! Silly me. There were all sorts of delivery issues. It really wasn’t until the beginning of February that product began to steadily arrive.  But then February always means QuiltCon and several of the bloggers in the hop were heavily involved with that event. Anyway, time marches on and here we are in the third week of March!  Today is the first day of Spring which is a time of new beginnings; thus the perfect day to celebrate my new shop.

 

Each of the six quilters were given their choice of fabrics to work with.  You will see lovely projects made with Allison Glass’ 76 fabric, Kim Diehl’s Modern Tykes fabric, as well as Maureen Cracknell’s Garden Dreamer. One quilter requested an assortment of prints because she had a few projects in the works so you will see a medley of fabrics in use there.

Monday through Friday this week, there will be a post celebrating the fabrics offered at Needle & Foot and with each post there will be a giveaway (of course!).  On Wednesday there is a bonus, with two bloggers posting that day. There are lots of opportunities to win this week.

I don’t know how the various bloggers are setting up the giveaway but I can tell you that each one will award one prize. The winners will have the option to choose six fat quarters or three 1/2 yard cuts from my shop. I welcome international quilter’s to join in. However, I ask that if an international person wins, they will split the cost of the shipping with me. It gets a little bit pricey!

OK – TIme to start visiting blogs! Here is the list of bloggers to visit this week!

I have only had small sneak peeks of their projects so I am really excited to visit each one and see what they have made. I hope you will enjoy it as well. Additionally, I want to offer a discount for each of you. I am truly grateful for all of the good wishes, support, as well as purchases, that many of you have provided over these last several months. It has been a blast to get this set up and I look forward to continuing to build my inventory with the fabrics you love.  For this week only, please use the code NANDFREADERS15 to receive a 15% discount on purchases made through Sunday, March 26th. Thank you so much and enjoy the hop!!

Monday Updates

Wasn’t that a wild Super Bowl game yesterday? I think that is what all the cool kids are saying today, so I am joining in. Truth be told, just a few days ago, I had to google who was going to be playing. We are not a football family. Like, not at all.  Somehow though, Ray and Julia have developed a tradition of watching the game together.  They each pick a team, based on scientific evidence, such as the color of their uniforms or the mascot on their helmet. The fighting begins just as soon as one team has scored. Let’s just say Julia was very cocky for the majority of the game, lording the success of her team over that of her father’s. The tables unexpectedly turned during the dramatic ending of the game. Ray was merciless this morning and will surely fit this into any conversation, as much as possible, over the next few days.  As for me, once the nachos were gone, I was in the other room playing on my iPad.

Last night I spent quite a bit of time on-line meeting a new group of quilters. (Doesn’t get much better than that, does it?)  Last week I received an email stating I was selected to be one of the ambassadors for Island Batik.  Island Batik has been in business since 1997 and is located in Southern California. Their product is made in Bali. I am very impressed by the philosophy held at Island Batik. They diligently strive to enrich the community their employees live in.  I can tell from the amount of communication and direction I have received from their Marketing department that this is going to be a good experience. She is so organized, very creative, and responsive. Ask a question and she is back with an answer within an hour or two.

Each year Island Batik accepts applications for their ambassador program. Once they make their selections (of about 30 quilt bloggers), a closed Facebook group is created so we can all work together on Island Batik promotions and blog hops. I felt like it was the first day of school. Would I know anyone? Would I make new friends? But everyone seems so nice and there were several names of bloggers I am very familiar with. I am really looking forward to the arrival of our box of supplies. It should be here this week.

This picture was posted on Facebook the other day – doesn’t that just run a chill down your spine? So much possibility is contained in that cardboard box. You can expect to see some fun projects, blog hops and giveaways as a result of that magical box that is headed my way.

On to other business. The name has been picked for the giveaway of the I Love Precut Quilts book. I used Random Number Generator this time because my amazing name-drawing daughter is at school this morning.  Random Number Generator picked number 2!!  So, Wendy of Piecefulthoughts.com, it is your lucky day! A copy of the book will be sent off to Wendy soon. Thanks to all who participated in the giveaway. Looks like I am not the only person hoarding charm squares and fat quarter bundles!

Time to go. I have a binding to make – I finished quilting my Knock Knock quilt the other day. I am volunteering in the See’s Candy Shop for Julia’s 4-H group this afternoon.  It is pouring rain today which will likely keep the shoppers at home. Since I don’t expect to be terribly busy selling Valentine candy, I want to take some hand sewing with me. Hope to have a finish to share with you later this week.

Linking to Main Crush Monday.

Blog Hop – I Love Precuts Book

I was recently given the opportunity to review a newly released book by Tricia Maloney. Having already published two quilting books, Maloney just authored her third, I Love Precut Quilts.  Like many other quilters, I enjoy the ease of creating with precuts. Using a bundle of fat quarters or fat eighths, a set of charm squares or mini charms, or maybe a jelly roll makes fabric choice a quick decision. Using the bundle means you will have scale and color variation as the designer of that line meant it to be. Sometimes I do add a few solids or prints to the bundle and sometimes I use it as is. Precuts can be a lot of fun. Just take a look in my closet and you will find a large stack of charm squares, several fat quarter bundles, one fat eighth bundle and (just) one jelly roll.

Since I have never published a book, I posed a few questions to Tricia. I thought it might be interesting to hear about her experiences with the three books she has penned.

Q. How did you come up with the precut theme? What inspired this?

A. I originally pitched a slightly different idea, but with some give and take with C&T, we tweaked my original concept and came up with I Love Precut Quilts!. I did have to rework several designs, but it was definitely worth it because I am very proud of the final product.  It wasn’t really a hard transition for me though because I was already in love with precuts.

Q. What is your writing process? Do you design the quilts first? How much direction does the publisher give you?

A. Once I have my design direction (basically my idea or focus) then I sit down in front of my computer and rev up my Electric Quilt 7 software because most of the time I start with a design first, add fabrics, make the project (taking notes as I make it), and then write the full instructions.  Of course, there are times that my approach can vary like when I find an awesome fabric collection that really inspires me and I just have to create a quilt around the fabric (like Cocktail Party in my book).

I don’t know how my experiences translate to other designers as a whole, but by the time I’m working actively with a publisher I have already designed all of the quilts, selected the fabrics, probably already started making quilts and possibly writing basic instructions.

Q. How long does it take to write a book, from first pitching it to the publisher to release? You’ve got three under your belt so I bet you have a good idea here.

A. I would estimate about a year or so from beginning to end, more if there are any bumps along the way.  Writing a quilt book is not for the feint of heart because you really have to be committed 100% to the project for a long period of time.  It can be very stressful when you’re trying to balance your book project with family, work, and everything else.

Q.  What is the best and worst part of a project like this?

A. The best part of writing a book is sharing your love of quilting with a broad spectrum of people.  I also really love creating the concept and the designs, picking out the fabrics (who wouldn’t love that part?), and making the quilts.  The “worst” part of the process is how long it takes from beginning to end.

Q.  Any words of wisdom to a wanna-be writer out there?

A. If you think you’d like to be a writer, I would suggest you try out working with magazines and smaller publications before tackling “the book.”  Find out if working within deadlines is for you.  Can you write instructions that others can understand? Do you enjoy the whole process?

Once you’ve determined that YES! you want to write your own quilt book, find something that you’re passionate about that hasn’t been done before or a different way of doing something and then start researching possible publishers.  When researching publishers, the first place to start is your own bookshelf — who publishes your favorite books?  Once you have some publishers in mind, visit their websites to learn more about them.  If they have submission guidelines available, follow them to create your book proposal.

I think Tricia provides valuable insight into the process of authoring a book. It gives me a solid appreciation for the designers out there who take the time to write books and patterns for us, the quilty consumers.

When I was reviewing the book, I decided I would make something with a set of Basic Grey mini-charms by Moda. They have been languishing on the shelf for a while now. Placemats or a tablecloth are used at our house each night. I chose to make the placemats from the Serenity Table Set. Rather than making two placemats and a table runner as the pattern suggests, I made four placemats. I think I will use them more often if I have more placemats. Actually, I have enough fabric for two more placemats so hopefully, I will get those done at some point for a total of six mats.

I think they are so pretty. This simple project took me very little time at all and gives the table a fresh look.

I did try something different. I wanted a thinner placemat so rather than batting, I chose to use a fusible interfacing which I fused to the top of the placemat. Next, I sewed the top and bottom with rights sides together, leaving a small (approximately three inch) opening to turn it right side out. After making sure the corners were crisp and everything was nicely pressed, I topstitched around the edge with a generous 1/8″ allowance. Using a narrow seam allowance ensured I caught both sides of the opening at the bottom of the mat. I also topstitched along both sides of the column of pieced mini charms. I think this gave the placemat a very polished look.

I Love Precut Quilts has a number of projects to be enjoyed by both the beginner and intermediate quilter. The instructions are clear enough for a novice and the designs are such that an intermediate quilter could build on them, making the quilt uniquely her own. Finally, I appreciate that Tricia shows her designs not only in the colorway she used but also in one or two other palettes that provide inspiration to the reader.

C&T Publishing and Tricia Maloney have generously provided a copy of this book as a giveaway! To enter the giveaway, please tell me about a certain precut you have been hoarding (we all do it!). Maybe now is the time to create something with it! The giveaway will remain open through Sunday, February 5th with the winner announced on Monday, February 6th. Domestic winner will receive a hard copy book, while international winners will receive an e-book.  So, this is open to all!

Remember that all Needle and Foot readers are invited to shop for fabric, yardage or precuts, at my shop. Use the code NANDFREADERS15 and receive 15% off your purchase of $5.00 or more. This code expires on February 13, 2017.

Here is the schedule for the blog hop. If you hop over to some of the other sites, you will find not only quilty inspiration, but also more chances to win a copy of Tricia’s new book.

BLOG HOP SCHEDULE

Monday, January 30th

C&T Publishing

Quilt With a View

Tuesday, January 31st

Mark Lipinski’s Blog 

The Crafty Quilter

Beaquilter

Wednesday, February 1st

Upstairs Hobby Room

Camelot Fabrics

Cheryl’sTeapots2Quilting

Thursday, February 2nd

Am I Shouting Yet?

Needle and Foot  (You’re here!!)

Generation Q Magazine   

Friday, February 3rd

Quilt With a View

 

 

Note: I was provided a copy of the book, I Love Precut Quilts, for this review. The opinions stated are my own. I am an affiliate of C&T Publishing which means if you make a purchase after clicking over to their site from my blog, I will receive a small compensation for purchases made.

Giveaway Winner and Survey Results

Thank you to all who took a few minutes to give me some feedback on your experiences with on-line shopping. Having my own shop is like a dream come true. I am hoping to tailor it to the needs of my customers. With your input, it will be a bit easier to do so.

Above you will note an extremely accurate graph, based on my findings.

Other than the scientifically precise data graphed in my chart, here are a few key things I found out:

  • There are only a very few of us who do not shop on-line at some time or other.
  • Of the on-line shoppers, some of us don’t feel comfortable, or didn’t know it was ok to, engage the shop owner in conversation. Let’s take a quick minute here. Chatting with my customers is one of my favorite parts of having an Etsy shop. I encourage shoppers to send questions to the shop owner. There is ALWAYS a contact me link on any Etsy shop. If that shop owner doesn’t respond soon (within a day at maximum) it is a red flag. You might choose to shop elsewhere. With smart phones and tablets, it is very easy for me to respond within minutes. Even if I tell them I cannot help them at the moment and will get back in touch in a few hours. That is what we would do if there was a long line in a brick and mortar shop, right? Ask for the customer’s patience and try to serve them at the next available opportunity.
  • Designers:  Oh my gosh. There are so many and we makers are definitely fond of certain artists. Thank you for listing those that you really love. Many are designers I am familiar with (and have stocked their fabric in my shop) and others are new to me. It will be fun to look them up and see what else is out there!
  • As for types of fabrics, you are a very eclectic group. Nearly half are loving modern fabrics, no surprise there. Nearly half are enjoying traditional and/or repro fabrics. That is more than I would have guessed. Batiks are clearly a fabric someone loves or doesn’t like. Not a whole lot in between. I like them quite a bit. One of my favorite quilts I have made so far was with batiks. (It is shown at the top of this post.) I also think they are great in art quilts. Simulating nature with batiks works quite well.
  • Novelty prints have their place. Those of us making baby quilts and children’s clothing seem to like them. Holiday fabrics are fun for some makers. But of my readers, there are only a few who seem to really get a kick out of them.
  • Precuts? Again, this depends on the situation. My take on it was people enjoy winning them or using them for projects where they really want to incorporate the entire line.  I had some definite ‘No, I don’t use them’ answers. I get that. Precuts can be limiting as the fabric is already cut to smaller pieces and there is no going back from there. As for me, I do like them. At this point, I don’t plan to carry them.  I have cut some fat quarter bundles of the fabrics I have and listed those but with a limited start-up budget, I will not be stocking a lot of precuts, Down the road, maybe so. Not just yet though.  I did hear from many readers that it would be fun to be able to curate a custom bundle or to buy curated fat quarter bundles. This is something I have in the works. You will hear more on that soon.
  • Many readers left suggestions or hints as to what they might like to see when on-line shopping. Ideas such as the following were presented:
  1. Work on the cost of shipping. Shipping gets expensive and makes on-line shopping less appealing. I have taken a lot of time to weigh fabric and adjust my shipping schedule on Etsy to be economical. I find I can ship 1/2 yard of fabric for about $3.00. If shipping large pieces of yardage, it makes sense to use a flat rate envelope for about $6.75. Quite a bit of fabric fits in a flat rate envelope. Either way, I do try to make the shipping as economical as I can. Also, shipping overages of $1.00 or more are automatically refunded to you. This rarely happens.
  2. Novelty flannels for making quilts and pajamas was a request. I love making my kids pj’s. Even though they are adults, it is a fun thing to do. I hope to have some choices for you this summer so you might be able to work on them before the holidays.
  3. Describe the scale of the print. I am doing this!  Currently, if there is a larger item in the print, I have included the measurements of it in the description on the listing. I am hoping this will give the shopper an idea of how the scale works. I know many shops include a ruler in the photo or put a quarter on the fabric to indicate the scale. I will continue to include this information for you.
  4. Another reader mentioned she would like to have a description of the drape or the feel of the fabric. This is very subjective. I will try to include it in the description though. Certain manufacturers, Art Gallery Fabric comes to mind, are known for producing fabric with a lovely hand (or feel) to it. Their fabric has a wonderful silky feeling which makes it great for both quilting and garment sewing, I do have a number of bolts from Art Gallery.
  5. A number of readers mentioned that they don’t really like fabrics with large scale prints. Or, they do like the fabric, purchase it and then don’t know what to do with it. Here are my thoughts. There are many stunning lines that have a few large scale prints (designers such as Maureen Cracknell, Bari J, Alison Glass and Katarina Roccella come to mind). I find these fabrics are wonderful for garments, tote bags, purses, pouches, and pillows. Think gorgeous throw pillows to add a pop of color to your living space. For quilting, I think a design which allows you to fussy cut the larger focal point works well. I get they are a challenge sometimes but don’t automatically write them off. The manufacturer often (almost always) has several items made from a line of fabric for the shopper to see the fabric in use. If you can’t find it, email me and I will send you the link. Art Gallery and Andover Fabric are great about providing this.

OK – if you are still with me, thank you! Let’s get to the winner. Patricia, your name was pulled by my very talented name-pulling daughter. I will contact you via email with a code to use for $25.00 off your purchase at my shop.  Again, thank you for all of your comments, ideas and support. It means everything to me. Remember, if you are wanting to shop, my readers will receive 15% off their order of $5.00 or more using code NANDFREADERS15. The code doesn’t expire until February 12, 2017. Hop on over and take a look!

 

New Adventures at Needle & Foot

Most of you have read that I have an Etsy shop. I opened it just over two years ago, about the same time I began blogging. I love having a shop and enjoy my customers, several of whom are repeat customers. However, until recently, my shop mainly sold items I had made, which means I am usually selling to customers who are not makers.

About a year ago, I began listing a collection of both vintage and current sewing patterns for garment makers. Also, I listed some cuts of my collection of vintage sheets, including fat quarters, fat quarter bundles, and charm squares. As these items began to sell, I realized that I was very much enjoying the interaction with the makers who were coming to shop my store. These are my people, know what I mean? It has been really satisfying to answer questions, chat back and forth about their projects, and help them find the pattern they are looking for, etc.

After much talking and brainstorming with my husband, I have decided to greatly expand my shop!  To say I am excited about this new adventure doesn’t come close to describing how I feel. My husband, Ray, is very supportive and has many good ideas about the business end of it. I am not sure if you remember but my father owned a couple of fabric stores when I was growing up. This is a business I am very familiar with. I worked in his shop on many Saturdays as well as during the summer as a teenager. My father was almost always self-employed which means I am well aware of what this entails. However, in this time of on-line shops, I have the wonderful opportunity to open a business without having a brick and mortar shop.

I have been working very hard to choose a selection of fabrics that will have something appealing to each of you. Of course, the seed money to get this adventure off the ground isn’t limitless (oh how I wish…) With my start up budget in mind, I made list after list of the manufacturers I wanted to work with and the lines that I wanted to carry. Then I went through an arduous process of culling that list and narrowing it down to what I can afford at this, the very beginning of my adventure!  I have selected some gems. Over the past several weeks, I have received bolts of beauty from designers such as Alison Glass, Maureen Cracknell and Kim Diehl to name a few.  I have fabric from Henry Glass, Andover, Art Gallery Fabric, and PB Textiles to offer you. Over the next two weeks there are some amazing bolts coming from Red Rooster and Windham as well as a few more from Andover.

A sampling of what is available now!

Fabrics began arriving during the first half of January. When I got home from Toronto, things really kicked in. I am slowly but surely listing inventory as it arrives. There is still more to come but I wanted to share with you what I have so far. It is so exciting to see this take shape after weeks and weeks of preparation. I am fortunate to have a large basement level family room. There is one wall with built in shelving. This is where the current fabric lives. As it grows, we will need to add more shelving but for now, this is working well.

Alison Glass’ 76, Fiesta Fun and Maureen Cracknell’s Garden Dreamer!

 

 

I plan to hold a Grand Opening of sorts in the beginning of March. I have a blog hop and several giveaways planned- it will be a blast. Waiting until the first of March also allows the craziness that is QuiltCon to subside. But for now, let’s celebrate here! I am really proud of the shop and very excited to show it off to you. I am offering a giveaway of a $25.00 gift certificate to my shop. In an effort to get to know you better and to decide how to best serve you, will you take a look at the questions below?

  1. I shop on-line for fabric – All the time, Sometimes, Rarely, Never?
  2. True or False-When shopping on-line, I am comfortable interacting with the seller (eg asking questions about product, asking for a custom bundle or a specific cut of yardage etc)
  3. Two or three of my favorite designers are: (eg Maureen Cracknell, Tula Pink, Kate Spain, Bari J, Pat Sloan, Joel Dewberry, Bonnie & Camille, Zen Chic, Amy Butler, Anna Maria Horner, Heather Ross, Kaffe Fassett –  to name a few out of the zillions available!!  Who knows? Maybe your favorite is someone I am not familiar with. Teach me.)
  4. True or False-Modern fabrics are my fave.
  5. True or False-Repro fabrics are the best.
  6. Batiks? Use them all the time or not so much?
  7. Novelty Prints? Yes/No/Sometimes
  8. Precuts?  Love them? Or only when I win them in a Giveaway? Or not so much?
  9. If you do love precuts – tell me your preference?  (eg Charms, Fat Quarters, Fat Eighths, Layer Cakes, Jelly Rolls?)
  10. What type of sewing (if any) are you interested in other than quilting? ( eg Garments, bags, totes, zip pouches)

You absolutely DO NOT have to answer all of the questions. But if any of them speak to you and you don’t mind taking a minute to give me some input, I will be forever grateful!  Leaving a comment with your thoughts, on one or more of the questions above, is your entry to the giveaway! If you prefer, you can also send me a quick email, using the “contact me” form. That counts as an entry too. As always, if you are a follower, just tell me how and that is an additional entry. I will leave the giveaway open until the end of the month. A name will be drawn on January 31st with the winner announced in a post on February 1st.

NOTE:  Giveaway is now closed!

Additionally, in appreciation for your loyal following of my blog over the past couple of years, I would love to offer all of you a discount code. To receive 15% off any order of $5.00 or more enter NANDFREADERS15 at checkout. This code will be active for just over two weeks,  through February 12, 2017. Use it now or in a week or two. Use it once, twice, as many times as you like! I love the fabrics that are in stock now and look forward to the pieces that are due next week and the week following. Oh how I love the sound of the UPS truck coming down our drive!

Finally, I will be posting updates on incoming fabric and promotions on Instagram. If you don’t yet follow me, now is a good time to start. There will be a fun promotion over there the first week of February. Don’t miss it!

2017 is definitely going to be an adventurous one – with my son’s wedding,  our first grand baby, and my own fabric shop! I hope you will come along for the ride. Please know how much I appreciate your support of this journey of mine. Blogging wouldn’t be a whole lot of fun without readers – you are what makes this worth doing!

Sew Mama Sew Giveaway 2017

sms-giveaway

 

Happy Holidays everyone! Today is a fun day in the crafting and sewing blogger world. Giveaway Day has been hosted for several years at Sew Mama Sew. Last year they did not host it in December and I really missed it. It is great to have another opportunity to provide a fun giveaway for my readers and to enter to win at lots of other sites!

If this is your first visit to Needle and Foot, welcome! I have been blogging for about 2 and 1/2 years and love it. The community I have come to know via this blog is just wonderful. The majority of my posts are about quilting and fabric. Sometimes I throw in little bits and pieces about my family life and many times I will talk about thrifting and upcycling; something that is near and dear to my heart. Because I love to read, I host a book sharing event every few months. If you are a book lover too, you can read about those here and here. The next event will begin in the beginning of January. To learn more about me, click here.  If you would like to read some of my favorite posts, you will see some suggested links on my About Me page.

Quilting and sewing are a constant work in process. I have been sewing for 45 years now and quilting non-stop for the last five years. Sewing is both my creative outlet and a calming influence in my day to day life. I have an Etsy shop where I sell handmade items as well as fabric (vintage and current) and sewing patterns. My customers are so important to me – I love to help them get just what they are looking for (whether it be something I made or a certain pattern they need.)

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Let’s move on to the giveaway! I have three 1/2 yard cuts to offer as a gift to a lucky reader. These three pieces are from the line called Lily, designed by Alice Kennedy for Timeless Treasures. I love the muted tones in this line.

img_1561With three cuts at 1/2 yard each, you will be well on your way to a sweet quilt.  To win this bundle, please leave me a comment. Tell me how much of your holiday shopping is done at this point in time. As for me, I have done So. Very. Little!  Yikes, I really need to get going. Usually, I am an early shopper as I am not a fan of crowds. So to reach the 7th of the month and have only a few gifts purchased does not bode well for me!  If you are a follower of Needle and Foot, whether it be on Facebook, the blog, or Instagram, leave a second comment telling me how you follow. That will count as a second entry. This giveaway will be open through Sunday, December 11th.  I will announce the winner on Monday morning, December 12th! Due to the cost of postage, this giveaway is open to residents of the US only. GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED.

Finally, I want to say that with regular posts (not giveaway days) I try diligently to respond to all comments because I truly enjoy that interaction.  But with giveways I can’t do that due to the quantity of comments. I hope you will understand! I do read ALL of them though – good luck and enjoy this event!

Most of all, thank you for stopping by for a visit. I hope you have a wonderful holiday, in whatever way you choose to celebrate.