Category Archives: Product Review

Knock Knock, Who’s There?

I had a finish this week! Remember I did some pattern testing for Sarah of Sarah Goer Quilts? I was able to quilt and bind it over the last week or so. The quilt is just adorable.  If you would like a copy of this pattern, click over to Sarah’s blog and sign up for her newsletter. I just read the second newsletter and I am enjoying them.

This quilt has been a multi-faceted project for me. It began with pattern testing the new pattern for Sarah. I made the quilt with fabrics from the Fiesta Fun line (which I just happen to carry in my shop!) I chose the Fiesta Fun fabric so I would have something to display the brightly colored fabric. When I looked at the quilt top, I knew it would be a fun one to quilt. The quilt is filled with big open spaces to play with. At about the same time Fil-Tec provided me with a lovely spool of white Glide thread to play with.

I decided to quilt the floral block and the striped blocks with the white spool of Glide.  Wow. I loved it! Glide is a polyester thread with a very pretty sheen to it.  It was a dream to quilt with – honestly, just amazing. It is very clear where the thread earned its name – I felt very little pull when I was quilting. I will absolutely stock up on a few more colors. Ok – back to the quilting. For the floral block, I basically outlined some of the flowers and leaves. Very simple and quite fun. For the striped blocks (made with the adorable Happy Streamers fabric from Art Gallery) I followed the pattern of the stripes, stitching on the white space between the streamers. When the fabric is as busy as this Happy Streamers is, I think it works well to keep the quilting simple.

 

Then I worked on the green background. I used a spool of Mettler thread to quilt this because I had a spool that worked well. Honestly though, I am not a huge fan of quilting with Mettler. It gives off quite a bit of lint and I fight the tension more when I use Mettler. But I had a good time quilting this. For the inner border I used large, free form flowers.

On the outer border, I did a an organic wavy vine with small flowers, bumblebees and butterflies.

For the bees and butterflies, I found inspiration at The Inbox Jaunt. Lori Kennedy has a vast library of tutorials for different quilting motifs. I think the bees and butterflies are so cute. Some of the butterflies are a bit lopsided, which adds a lovely touch of whimsy to the quilt (right?). Finally, on the block between each section of directional fabric, I quilted a cross hatch pattern.

The backing was cut from a sheet that I thrifted a long while back. I think the bright, primary colors work well with the top.

The binding is a cheerful print from Art Gallery, Squared Elements in Mandarin. Guess what? I have it in my shop! 🙂

I am happy to call this one done. Bright and colorful, perfect for these gray, rainy days we have been having. (But I am not complaining. I welcome the rain!!)

I would like to thank everyone for your support of my shop. I really appreciate it. The discount code for Needle and Foot readers is good for just a few more days. Enter  NANDFREADERS15 follow meand receive a 15% discount on orders of $5.00 or more. This code is valid through February 12th.  Next week there will be a giveaway on Instagram. If you , keep an eye out for that. If you don’t, now might be a good time to start!  😉

Linking to my favorites. Check the list at the top of the page, under Link Ups.

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.

Pattern Testing

This week we have been reading and talking about the idea of supporting all of the Indie pattern designers that are working so hard to design and release original patterns. Besides purchasing these lovely patterns we can also offer our time as pattern testers.  Two weeks ago I was reading a couple of posts by Mihaela of A Beautiful Day. She blogs from Romania  (don’t you love the ease with which we are able to befriend quilters from all over through this blogosphere.)  Mihaela is working on a new pattern she calls Urban Folk Quilt. In one of her posts she asked for some testers that would help to verify that her English all translates correctly. I happily volunteered. It is hard enough to design patterns, figure out the measurements, draw up the instructions etc. But to do this in a language that is not your primary one must be very challenging.

You can be sure, language isn’t an issue for Mihaela. Her English is just wonderful and I did not  find even one problem with her pattern and/or the translation to English. She includes every detail of instruction and sometimes more than one would expect. She discusses how to confirm that your blocks line up correctly, how to properly bind a quilt, and suggests ways to avoid block distortion. Overall, this pattern is complete and a great tool for the beginning quilter. I loved making it and would happily make another (and probably will!)

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For this project, I chose colors that would work in our master bathroom.  There are lots of bare walls in there. Bathrooms don’t rate very high on my need-to-decorate scale. Especially the master – who sees it besides Ray and I? I decided to make something to spruce it up. These colors work wonderfully.

I had so much fun quilting this. Finishing at 16 1/2″ squared, it was small enough to feel secure in trying new things.  This quilt design feels a bit southwestern to me. It reminds me of a couple of throws that Ray bought some years ago on a trip to Mexico.  This inspired me to quilt wavy lines, in three colors, across the horizontal stripes. Using the dark and light gray as well as the brown gives nice texture to the stripes.

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Within the two rows of pieced blocks I used matchstick quilting. Having never quilted these narrow stripes before, I tried quilting with my darning/FMQ foot and with the walking foot.

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Both work – the walking foot creates much straighter lines but oh my, it was taking forever! Having to stop and turn the quilt at each end was more than annoying. If it was a larger space being quilted, I would try the walking foot again. After a short stint of this though, I switched to my darning foot and FMQ’d the lines. They have a bit of an organic wobble to them but it still look ok. I love how the purple blocks have a bit of a puffiness to them from the tight quilting that surrounds them. Above and below each pieced row, I did some teeny tiny FMQ. Those rows are only one inch tall – it was a challenge to keep the movement flowing in such a small space.

What a fun project this was. Testing this pattern was an easy way to help another quilter out. There are lots of opportunities to test patterns. Be sure that you can meet the timeframe of the pattern designer though. Most likely she is relying on you to complete the task by a certain date so she can release the pattern. Speaking of which, Mihaela is releasing this pattern today!   Check it out and show her some quilting love. It would make a great mini, table topper, or you could use it as a pillow cover if you add the backing to it.

Linking to several of my favorites, including Freemotion Mavericks, Finish it up Friday, and Off the Wall Fridays. Links to all of these are available at the top of the page, under Link Ups.

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Just in case you need an idea for Mother’s Day gifts (for a friend, your mom, yourself  – even if you aren’t a mom!)  Craftsy has awesome classes and I can’t imagine a crafty mom who wouldn’t love one (or two, or three…) Classes last longer than flowers and they are way more affordable! Click here to check it out.

MothersDay (2)Craftsy

(Always reminding you that I am a Craftsy affiliate which means if you click through from my site and make a purchase, I will be compensated.)

Wake up and smell the coffee

I had a couple of fun things happen this week. They all center around coffee… so much good can come from such a small bean.

First story – I usually post pictures on Instagram of the Chemex covers that I make on Etsy. There are a lot of hashtags centered around Chemex loving coffee drinkers and it is fun to share the pictures. After seeing an IG user “like” a couple of my photos, I started looking at their feed in return. It turned out that a guy and his wife had recently started a company offering fresh roasted beans and related treats to their customers. We went back and forth a bit and the proprieter, Steve, asked if I would do a review of their product. It sounded like fun and I agreed. So, here goes. My first product review, which I am honored to do!

This new company is called Joe’s Brew Club.  (Nice play on the phrase cup of ‘joe’.) The company started in October of 2014 so they are just getting going. They are located in Albuquerque, New Mexico with access to several local coffee roasters that slow roast beans from all over the world. Their model is to have the customer subscribe monthly, entitling them to receive a 12 ounce bag of roasted coffee (whole bean only at this point) along with biscotti cookies and selected high quality chocolate each month. That would be a great package to look forward to each month. Here is what they sent me:

IMG_20150205_2853Their packaging is lovely and the contents even more so! Yesterday I started my day by grinding beans and brewing a pot.  The coffee brewed with these beans was delicious. My husband and I both loved it. Coffee is very much part of my morning routine and I loved the bold, rich flavor of these beans. No bitterness whatsoever, just a smooth cup o’ joe.  I appreciate the care that was taken in the selection of goods in the box. A bar of chocolate, four biscotti cookies, and a bag of chocolate covered espresso beans making for a great selection.  My husband and daughter were the chocolate testers and they gave it two thumbs up. My husband thought it was wonderful and Julia’s review was, “I’m not a huge fan of dark chocolate, but this is good!” I found they had sprinkled a few espresso beans loose within the package. They are going for an aromatic experience when the box is opened. Honestly while I think the idea is so creative, I didn’t truly notice the aroma until I opened the bag of coffee – that offered a fragrance that was exquisite.Talking to Steve, he told me that he and his wife are really enjoying this adventure. As with any new business they are open to ideas and looking for ways to expand their offerings. My suggestion would be to also offer this a one time order to be used as a gift. The selection in the box would be such a great present to send to someone. The items are really good quality and the packaging is lovely. It would be a nice choice to use as a gift without having to subscribe.  Second, I would love to see a decaf option. I drink more decaf than caffeinated coffee and I think their customers might appreciate having decaf as an option.

Overall, Joe’s Brew Club offers great product and really outstanding customer service. They have a generous return policy and it is easy to cancel your subscription if you decide to do so. Their subscription is $29.99 per month (this includes shipping within the USA) and they are offering a great deal to Needle and Foot readers. Use coupon code NEEDLEANDFOOT to receive 20% off your first order. Check them out!

I had (another) great experience with a customer order on Etsy. My customer asked if I would create a pattern that works with the Chemex pot designed with a handle (rather than the traditional wooden collar.) I got my hands on one of these pots and went through several iterations before coming up a good result. For these two pieces, I chose to use novelty fabrics. This one has a coffee cup/coffee bean print that is adorable.

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Thanks to Joe’s Brew Club for sending these lovely beans featured in the pictures. (Which I meticulously scooped up and put back in the bag when I was finished taking pictures!)

I love this bicycle print also.

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I think working on these custom requests has been my favorite part of having an Etsy shop.  I have made things I wouldn’t have thought of otherwise which has been really satisfying. Hope your are working on something equally satisfying!

Linking to Sew Stitching Cute’s WIDTW as well as Sarah over at Confessions of a Fabric Addict. For the first time, I am also linking up at Main Crush Monday.