Category Archives: Product Review

Make Wall Quilts – Book Review & Giveaway

Today I would like to share a book review with you.  C & T Publishing asked me to review one of their new books, Make Wall Quilts: 11 Little Projects to Sew (Make Series). In a nutshell, I would say I love everything about the book except for the title.  The title didn’t grab me and as I clicked on the link to the book, I was going in with a negative attitude.  Luckily the actual book is wonderful.  I suppose this means one shouldn’t judge a book by its title!

This book is a compilation of eleven different wall, or mini, quilts.  Each is from a different, well known quilt designer.  There are projects from Camille Roskelly, Kim Schaefer, Rebecca Bryan and Heidi Staples in the book as well as several others.  Taking projects from books previously published by the designers is a genius idea as it provides a variety of styles in one book.  You probably know just from reading the names above that the book contains modern and traditional projects made with a variety off techniques.  I am a fan of reading quilt books (no surprise there!) but each one usually has a particular theme or style to it.  With this book, the quilter can try a variety of styles and techniques. The projects are not large which means they are easily accomplished.

Well, all except one!  For me the Huckleberry Quilt designed by Rebecca  Bryan looks challenging and maybe out of my skill range.  But this is a good thing – it further affirms the book has something for everyone from the beginner to the more experienced quilter.  The fact that this riff on a color wheel requires 72 different color fabrics is enough to intimidate me.  I have enough difficulty choosing color and if I had to choose 72 different solids I might go right over the edge. But while you are here, take a look at the quilting on this piece.  Stunning!

The reader might choose to make a modern applique project or a traditional one. I really like the look of this quilt designed by Jennifer Dick, appropriately called Mod. Again just take a look at the quilting here. Gorgeous!

Quilters who favor traditional applique might enjoy this one.  Called Outside In, this project was designed by Becky Goldsmith. It is a larger piece, finishing at 30″ x 36″ but very doable.  I love the cat at the top.  She has attitude.

Quilters without improv piecing experience might like to learn from the Lazy Log Cabin project designed by Laura Wasilowski. The blocks in the piece are six inches with the total quilt finishing at 17″ square.  It is Laura’s use of bold color which makes this project stand out to me.

Most of the projects in this book could easily be expanded to a larger size quilt if the reader wanted to make a baby or lap size quilt with the project.  This further exemplifies the flexibility of the book.  I really give high praise to C & T for curating this great selection of projects and publishing them in one book.

C&T has generously offered a copy of the e-book to give away to one lucky reader. But if you are not the winner, I do recommend purchasing this book, either for your library or as a gift.  It is a lovely collection of a variety of projects, truly a something-for-everyone kind of book.

To enter to win a copy, please leave a comment on this post.   Tell me what your favorite quilting technique is at the moment.  Is it EPP, paper piecing, improv piecing, traditional block piecing, applique? What do you enjoy most?  Giveaway will be open until Friday and I will pick a winner on Saturday.

If you would like to purchase the hard copy of the book, it is on sale at Amazon for a steal of a price! (Affiliate Link)

I doubt I will post again this week so let me wish you a Happy Thanksgiving. I do love this time of year. Celebrating gratitude for all we are blessed with feels good and reminds us that even if we are enduring difficulty, we still have much to be thankful for.

Note:  Needle & Foot is an Amazon Affiliate meaning if you were to click through and purchase the book, I will receive a small stipend for the purchase.

Fussy Cutters Club, Book Review and Giveaway!

Today is my day to post a review and host a giveaway of a fun new quilt book.  If you are here for the first time via the blog hop, welcome!  The book of the day is Angie Wilson’s Fussy Cutter’s Club published by C&T Publishing.  You may know Angie as she is the queen of online quilt alongs and swaps. She thrives on leading large groups of quilters through complicated projects such as her current QAL making Jen Kingwell’s Gypsy Wife Quilt – not for the faint of heart for sure.  For more info on the events she is currently leading and has done in the past, click here.

It was about two months ago when I was invited by C&T Pubs to review Angie’s upcoming book.  Right away I was intrigued by the title of the book and the gorgeous cover.  I know we aren’t supposed to judge a book by its cover, but come on.  Look at this cover!  It just pulls the reader in at the get go.  Angie’s reputation for mad skills with fabric play and use of color assured me the book would be worth the time to read, review and create with.

The premise of the book is to learn to look at your stash with a new perspective – Angie teaches the reader to use your fabric by cutting into it and emphasizing the bits you love the most.  The book is well written and the instructions for each of the 14 projects are precise and easy to understand.  Angie takes the reader through the design process, how to best use your fabrics, color theory and more, prior to introducing projects. She really did a great job with this book.  The projects range from the very simple to quite complex (again, look at the cover!)

For my project, I chose to make the tote bag.  Angie rated it as an Intermediate project but with her clearly written instructions, I didn’t have any trouble. Following Angie’s thoughts on color for this project, I chose a limited palette.

My bag is built around a piece of vintage fabric I have from the 1950’s.  It is  a kitschy print featuring red, brown and black kitchen appliances, clocks and coffee cups.  I loved the idea of using vinyl for the bottom of the bag (looks great and gives durability) and found this textured vinyl at Ben Franklin.  Once I had my focus fabric and the vinyl, the rest of the fabric was pulled from my scrap bins.

Since the red coffee cup was the primary focus, I decided to use mainly black, brown and white with the occasional pop of red. Most of my fabrics had a vintage look to them except the coffee themed text prints.  Those are clearly current and modern but I liked the idea of including the coffee text with the other fabrics, to further the coffee theme of the bag.   The main fabrics I fussy cut were the coffee cups and saucers, the text prints, and the tiny black coffee pots on the vintage fabric.

Making the slabs for the outside of the bag was really fun – I have improv pieced in the past, but it has been a long while.  Putting these scraps together was very satisfying.  I did reduce the size of the bag by a few inches in width and length. I am fairly short and the bag seemed like it would be too big for me at the original size but breaking it down to reduce it was easy.

The two main slabs and the vinyl bottom are assembled here

I learned quite a bit about fussy cutting.  Like anything, the more you do it, the better it becomes. Looking back, I feel I should have trimmed the bits I fussy cut closer in. I left too much peripheral pattern and that detracts from the focal point.  Note the cup and saucer below.  I think if I would have trimmed it down a bit and removed the little bits of coffee pots, it would have been much cleaner. In the picture above, take a look at the text print.  Were I to do this again, I would not allow the other words to appear. I really only wanted the word “coffee” to be the focus.  But live and learn (or sew and learn?).  Next time I will remember these bits and pieces that really make a difference in a project.

 

When assembling the bag, Angie’s instructions called for me to line the outer pieces with fusible interfacing and then to apply fusible batting.  I was skeptical at first but it really makes the structure of the bag a nice combination of crisp and soft (does that make sense?)  The addition of the fusible interfacing gave it a nice shape. Once I had those layers assembled, I used simple straight line quilting to hold all three pieces in place.

Her pattern calls for fabric straps but I had plenty of the vinyl so I decided to make the straps with that instead. I like the look of it and was pleasantly surprised that my machine had no issue stitching through several layers of vinyl. (I did use a heavy duty jeans needle.)

My model shows just how cute this tote bag is!

Overall, it was a great project and I felt the book was a great inspiration  to look at my fabric with a different perspective.  The tote is really fun (as you can see with my always available bag model.) It traveled with me to Vermont last week and when combined with the cross body bag I made, it was the perfect set up.

This is just one example of the projects that Angie designed for her book.  There are thirteen others though, including pillows, coasters, minis and zip pouches. To take a look at some of the projects, here is a list of the bloggers celebrating this new book.  Check them out for lots of inspiration as well as several chances to win a copy of the Fussy Cutters Club book!  As with most book giveaways, if the winner is international, an e-book will be provided.  If in the states, you will receive a hard copy of the book.

To enter to win, please leave a comment telling me your current go-to quilt book (I guarantee if you purchase or receive this book, it will be right up there on the list!) I will leave the giveaway open through Saturday, October 28th and will announce a winner on Sunday.

 

Linking up with lots of my favorites – most are listed at the top of the page, under Link Ups.  Also linking to Elm Street Quilts annual Bag It event.  Check that out here!

Making Connections; Quilting Book Review & Bloghop

About two weeks ago, I was contacted by C&T Publishing asking if I would provide a review of one of their newest quilting books. Always up for learning something new or reading pretty much anything about quilting, I was happy to help.

The author, Dorie Hruska, is a long arm quilter, mom, and blogger.  She has her website,  Forever Quilting, set up as both her blog and her professional site for her long arm business. I really enjoyed looking at her gallery to see the work she has done for others. Her quilting style is lovely with many intricate patterns.

The book, Making Connections, is all about free motion and long arm quilting. The goalof the book is to help the quilter choose a motif or pattern for the quilt and then to set a travel path up for moving around the quilt in the most efficient manner, with the least amount of starts and stops possible.  This is really appealing to me. Like many of you, I struggle with how  to quilt something once that quilt top is done.

Reading this book through, I noticed two things that I really liked.  It is written as a workbook with very clear illustrations and directions. The practice builds in complexity as the reader learns the steps.  Also, there are lots of grids printed in the book to draw on.  The grids are bigger than graph paper but not quite big enough. When I practiced, I copied the page and enlarged it on our printer.  Finally, the book is printed in landscape orientation, not portrait. This makes it much easier to use as you don’t have the binding on the left side making it awkward to draw.

I took away a few really helpful ideas from Dorie’s book:

  1. Doodle the design before quilting.  I know this, we all know this, but it helps so much! There is such muscle memory in free motion quilting and by drawing it several times over, that routine settles into our brain before we begin quilting.
  2. While doodling the design and then while quilting, think, or say, the pattern you are moving in to keep you on track.  For example, Up, Down, Over, Up, Down, Over – or whatever works.  When Dorie maps out a path in the book, she sets this up for the quilter. As a beginner quilter at best, this was pretty helpful.  Seems so simple, but that little mantra was kinda cool. 🙂
  3. Don’t try to quilt the whole design in one pass.  Dorie layers the design so you might do one pass, the come back and add a layer to add another detail.  I get this and think, eventually, it will be helpful to me.  I am not quite there yet.  Some of the designs she illustrates for the reader are quite complex. She does use different colors so you know which pass you are working on each time. Also, she numbers the path so you can see what direction she is taking you in. This is quite helpful.

Note the complexity of the design, stitched in several passes.

The method used in this book is based on grids.  The perfect example is basic patchwork, or nine patch blocks, where there is an obvious grid.  The more experienced quilter would be able to apply it to more complicated blocks.

I didn’t have a quilt top on hand that would work for this so I didn’t actually quilt anything.  I did do some drawing to get that path ingrained into my brain though.  After drawing a bit, I made a quilt sandwich with some scraps of fabric and batting.  I drew a 3″ grid on it to practice.  Once I got going, my sewing machine gave me fits.   So, I had to quit and I took the machine in for service.  I have been putting it off and now it was sending me very clear messages that it wasn’t going to perform well! But ugly as the stitching was, the idea worked – I knew how to move along the design without getting stuck in a corner somewhere.  This methodology requires planning though.  It isn’t one where you move freely around on the quilt top, filling in sections as you go along.

If I were asked, I would tell the readers this is probably a book for an intermediate quilter. I think I could follow it for the basic design and travel flow but I don’t think, as a beginner, I could layer the designs and achieve a nice result.

Overall, I enjoyed the book and think it is a valuable resource for my library.  As I continue to practice, this will be very helpful.  Dorie and C& T Publishing have generously provided a book for me to giveaway to a lucky reader.  If the winner lives in the US, a hard copy will be sent.  For winners outside of the US, an Ebook will be provided. For those of you that want to go ahead and purchase the book, it is available through C&T Pubs or directly from Dorie’s website (she will send an autographed copy!)

To enter to win, please leave a comment on this post.  If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, you are welcome to leave a 2nd comment for another entry.  Sign up for my newsletter (which is sent out every month) for another entry.  (Sign up form is at the top of the page on the right side.)  That is three possible chances to win!!

THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED.

For even more chances, please visit the other bloggers involved in this hop.  Lots of gorgeous quilting has been done to display all this book offers. Go check it out!  Here is the schedule:

BLOG HOP SCHEDULE

Friday September 1st

C&T Publishing Blog@ctpublishing on Instagram

Monday September 4th

Holly Anne Knight Blog@stringandstory on Instagram

Susan Arnold Blog@quiltfabrication on Instagram

Tuesday September 5th

Becca Fenstermaker Blog@prettypiney on Instagram

Teri Lucas Blog@genqmag on Instagram

Wednesday September 6th

Sherry Shish Blog@poweredbyquilting on Instagram

Pam Morgan Blog@sweetlittlestitches on Instagram

Thursday September 7th

Katy S Blog@katyquilts on Instagram

Laura Piland Blog@sliceofpiquilts on Instagram

Friday September 8th

Suzy Webster Blog@websterquilt on Instagram

Bernie Kringel Blog@needleandfoot on Instagram  — You’re here!!!

Monday September 11th

Jamie Mueller Blog@sunflower_quilt on Instagram

Nancy Scott Blog@masterpiecequilting on Instagram

Tuesday September 12th

Sherri Noel Blog@rebeccamaedesigns on Instagram

Anorina Morris Blog@sameliasmum on Instagram

Wednesday September 13th

Yvonne Fuchs Blog@quiltingjetgirl on Instagram

Barbie Mills Blog@thequiltingmill on Instagram

Thursday September 14th

Afton Warrick Blog@quiltingmod on Instagram

Kathy Bruckman Blog@kathyskwiltsandmore on Instagram

Friday September 15th

Susan Arnold Blog@quiltfabrication on Instagram

Dorie Hruska Blog@foreverquilting on Instagram

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.

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.