Most likely you have heard or read about the horrific fires ongoing in California right now. It is hard to put into words how awful this siege of fires has been, still is really….
The Napa/Santa Rosa fires are the most tragic, at least in terms of homes lost. All of these fires began Sunday night as the northern regions in California experienced a sudden burst of high winds. The horrific loss of homes in Santa Rosa is disastrous. These photos have been floating around the internet so you may have already seen them.
One of the Santa Rosa neighborhoods after the fire.
Another photo of Santa Rosa.
When my family went to bed Sunday night the wind was just crazy and we woke up Monday morning to calls that school had been cancelled. There were large numbers of people being evacuated from their homes and several huge fires were raging. I am very fortunate to live about 6 miles from the closest fire so our home was safe. But many were not so fortunate. Now, two days later, some of the evacuations have been lifted. We have not lost nearly as many homes as the heavily populated Santa Rosa area, but at this point, more than 200 structures in the three largest fires nearby have burned. Yesterday was windy again, making battling the fires much more difficult.
Fire retardant being dropped on the Lobo fire in Grass Valley, CA
As I write this, the most recent update is that the fires in my area are roughly 35% contained. This means they are making progress and, at the least, the fires aren’t spreading further. They opened school for all of the local schools but there are still several areas without power though. The air quality, as you’d imagine, is horrible.
Smokey haze in my front yard this morning.
At this point, there is no containment yet reported with the Santa Rosa fires. Hopefully the winds will remain calm today, making for a better firefighting situation. Unfortunately, there is no rain in the forecast this week.
Like I said, there aren’t words adequate to describe all of this. I am filled with gratitude for the fire fighters, first responders, and fire fighting teams from other parts of the state, as they work to put out these tragic fires. Throughout the day, I can hear the helicopters and planes that carry water and retardant to release over the fires. It is really eerie. The community has come together and supported each other. The fairgrounds opened up to take any livestock that needed to be evacuated. While my family was lucky this time and not affected by any of these fires, it is a vivid reminder that it could happen on any day to any one of us. Living in this gorgeous tree filled and very dry region, fire is always a possibility.
Staying inside today because of the smokey air and will finish up a little project I started while Julia and I were home together this week. Hope to share this with you tomorrow.
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:
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.
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. 🙂
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:
I just returned from spending a couple of days up in Downieville. We had the flooring replaced in the kitchen. Even though the kitchen is very small, this was a two day job for the installer. The house is very old and not at all square or level. It was a bit of a trick for him to create a relatively level surface on which to lay the flooring.
Before and after, bye bye green and gold!
We did things in reverse order with this room. We haven’t painted or updated the cabinets yet and Ray plans to put up some bead board in the little eating area but the two tone gold and green floors were awful so we had the new vinyl installed and we will just have to tarp it when the other projects are done. It will be a while before we tackle them and we were tired of looking at that flooring. I am happy to check this off the list as we make progress on this little house of ours.
As you know, Julia is raising pigs to show and auction at the county fair. She will be there each day and it will be time consuming for her. Since she isn’t yet driving, I will also be there quite a bit. I decided to volunteer some time at the quilt exhibit and also to…. Yikes! ….. enter a few quilts. I have never done this. It just creates this vulnerable feeling to have someone judge my work. But I am going to do this. Here are the three projects I chose to enter and why I chose them.
Positively Floating; September 2016
I finished this quilt last fall. I love the design of it and the quilting. This was the second time I quilted on a long arm and looking at it makes me want to do that again. It was a lot of fun and so different from quilting with my home machine.
It needs a sleeve and label to be ready for the show.
I will also enter my THREAD quilt.
I made this quilt when I was writing the tutorial for relief quilting. I love this little quilt.
The relief quilting was great and the improv border was so much fun to create. I think the little spools of thread add whimsy to the piece. Luckily I have a sleeve on this quilt but it needs to be labeled.
Finally I chose to enter the Sweet Tweets baby quilt.
This is a bright, colorful piece will hopefully catch the eye of visitors to the show. I am happy with the quilting I did on it. It still needs a sleeve and label.
Hopefully the visitors coming through the exhibit will like it as well!
For the next couple of days I will be in prep mode. I am vending at a quilt show for the Truckee Meadows Quilt Guild. It will be held in Reno, Nevada this weekend. It is about two hours from home but luckily my in-laws have a second home in Reno and they are graciously letting me stay there in the evenings. It would be too much to drive back and forth each night. I need to cut more fat quarter bundles and get a few other things ready so I doubt I will get any sewing done this week. If you are in the area, please come to the show and find my booth. I would love to say hi. 🙂 I will keep you posted on the show via Instagram and Facebook. I hope you will follow along with this this weekend!
Today is my husband’s birthday so I need to be baking a cake and he requested enchiladas for his birthday dinner. I am going to get the cake in the oven now before it gets too hot. Have a nice day and keep cool with this crazy heat!
Springtime is here and our yard is showing off it’s gorgeous colors. The photo is from last spring because I am still in my PJ’s and didn’t feel like going outside yet! But this isn’t too far from the truth. The maples need to leaf out a bit more but lots of things are blooming.
I just want to tell you I was so excited to read all the great comments on the blog and Instagram about the proposed Sew Along for this summer. It is definitely on!! We will have so much fun working through this project together. I appreciate all of the enthusiasm and suggestions. Keep it coming. I decided rather than answer each comment, I would just put up this quick post.
Since there is a lot of interest, I will start the planning process. When I have a few pattern suggestions I will put up a post and we can do an informal vote and see which one is most popular with the group. Things I heard from various people – you want a simple pattern, want to go slow and learn as a group, want options for sleeves or sleeveless, and lots of you want help fitting patterns. I will be the first to say, I am not an expert seamstress by any means. However there are a few tips I can give. We might start with a post on measurements and fitting before we even begin. That way when it comes time to cut your pattern out, you may feel a bit more confident.
For now, be thinking of what else you might want from this sew along. Thank you for joining in. I think I better go and see if there are some prizes to be won. What is a blog event without a prize or two? I will keep you all posted on the developments of this event. It might be helpful to follow me on Facebook and/or Instagram as I will post things there as well.
The coming week is spring break for my daughter. She and I are leaving tomorrow for a trip to Vermont to meet Baby Girl, the newest (and possbilty cutest) member of the family. I will not be posting until after Easter. I hope everyone has a lovely holiday if it is one you choose to celebrate. I’ll be back in about ten days and look forward to catching up with everyone then.
As an ambassador for Island Batik, I have a schedule of challenges issued each month to create with their gorgeous fabrics. The theme for the month of March was March Mini Madness and the quilt was to be constructed with paper pieced blocks.
:ast week I shared the beginnings of the mini I was working on with Island Batik fabric. Using a paper pieced star pattern (free download from Craftsy) I made four blocks. Each one became a bit easier than the last which was nice. I feel like I made progress and have a better feel for paper piecing now. (These blocks were very simple which was helpful). I like the various themes designated by the coordinator at Island Batik as it forces me out of my comfort zone a bit. Isn’t it nice to have the oppportunity to learn something new?
The overall look of this little quilt is bright and cheerful. I love the purples and blues against the black batik. Bright green strips were used for the sashing.
After the top was assembled I quilted it by first adding some straight lines to the greeen sashing, using a bright green Mettler thread. Following that I free motion quilted small loops over the black background as well as an X through each star. With a dark batik, the quilting is not the star of the show. It is very hard to see.
I decided it needed a bit more detail to finish it off. First I decided to add buttons. I think it was about two weeks ago that I read a post written by Janine, over at Quilts from the Little House, where she used buttons to embellish a project of hers. I have a jar of buttons and thought it would be fun to take that bit of inspiration and apply it to this mini. Don’t they look cute? Makes it sort of whimsical.
After the buttons, I still wanted more detail. I decided to add a flange to the outer edge before I attached the binding. Doesn’t this make a nice polished finish? I am very happy with this. Hopefully I will put a hanging sleeve on it soon and it will join the other minis on the wall in my sewing room. Just in time for spring!
Linking to all the usuals – find the links at the top of the page, under Link Ups!
It has been a busy week and I am happy to see Friday roll around. I really enjoyed working with Maureen and writing the posts about her work. It was a lovely bonus to see the sale on her Garden Dreamer fabric created a good number of sales which kept me busy cutting and shipping (it will be on sale through Sunday, March 19th if you are interested.) By the way, I truly appreciate all of the readers who are supporting my shop – thank you!
Thanks also to Mari of Academic Quilter. Mari and I became friends a couple of years ago (which is hard to believe actually) via our new blogs. We have struck up a great friendship and even got to have lunch and do a little fabric shopping together last summer when I was in Maine. That was so much fun. Yesterday I found a package in the mail. Usually getting the mail is so boring unless I have recently ordered fabric. Nothing much comes in the mail anymore with the exception of a few catalogues and the occasional advertisement addressed to ‘Occupant’. Sigh.
Not yesterday however! Look at this adorable lovie she made for my sweet grand baby! She even used the colors of the nursery (gray, lavender and pink). The backing is a soft gray and white flannel. Being the generous quilter Mari is, she even enclosed the leftover fabric for me to use. Thank you Mari. <3
These tiny blankets are so cool – the tags around the perimeter are made with ribbons and twill tape, and other trims which provide sensory stimulation when baby fidgets with them.
I have also seen mom’s hook toys to the loops and lay baby near it to grab the toys. It can be used in the car seat with toys attached or not. It was so kind of Mari to think of me and this little girl. I will hand deliver this when I go to Vermont – which is in only THREE weeks!! I can’t wait!
Moving on now (because I talk and think about this little girl too often and don’t want to become annoying!) I did get a fair amount of sewing done last week. I made this cute t-shirt with Butterick pattern, number B5954. Remember I posted about not having enough fabric? I decided to make the sleeveless version which took every bit of the fabric.
This version takes about 1/2 hour to sew because it is just the front and back pieces, sewn together at the shoulder and side seams. I finished the seams with a bright blue bias tape because I like that little surprise of color. I am only 5′ 4″ so I did have to alter the length and when I make it again, I would make it even a bit shorter. It is so comfortable and I am pleased with the result! Looking at these photos, I realize I should have pressed it before my modeling stint. Sorry about that!!
Cute Top But in Need of an Iron!
For the month of March, my challenge from Island Batik is to make something that is paper pieced. You already know how frustrated I become with paper piecing. I called my friend, Sophia, and invited her for a sew day. I knew I would need her help to get started! Sophia has a degree in Mechanical Engineering and has that logical sort of brain that I so envy. She spent the afternoon with me and it was so helpful. Plus I got to spend the afternoon sewing with her which we don’t often do. It was a very nice to spend the time together.
Choosing Colors for the Sashing
Before she arrived, I picked a few easy paper piecing patterns and printed the sheets. She and I looked and decided this star pattern would be a good one to learn on. (I took a class last fall to learn to paper piece but you know what happens if you don’t practice…. I couldn’t remember how to get started on the blocks!) This pattern is a free download on Craftsy.com. It is slated as a beginner pattern, which is mostly true. The problem is there are no real instructions – reminding the quilter to cut strips a certain width or to trim each section, adding in that crucial 1/4″. But never fear, I had Sophia coaching me! While my precision isn’t as close as I would like, overall I think it looks nice.
Perfectly Imperfect Points!
I finished the top and have begun quilting it a bit. I love the colors and it will be nice to hang this mini in my sewing room. I need a new one on the wall.
The Top is Finished!
OK – that is my week in a nutshell. Gifts, Etsy orders, and a fair amount of creative time in the sewing room. This girl doesn’t need more than that! Happy Weekend everyone!
Linking to my favorites. I am including the end of quarter FAL link up at She Can Quilt because I had listed garment sewing on my goals for this quarter! Please check out the tab at the top of the page titled Link Ups.
I am so excited to share this with you! I will be publishing a new series on the blog. It is called Meet the Designer. Over the next few months I will be sharing an interview between me and a fabric designer. Let me tell you how this came about. As you know, I have been spending a great deal of time researching fabrics and manufacturers as I build my shop. Working through this process of picking manufacturers and certain lines of fabric, I have had several opportunities to talk to the designers of the fabrics I selected. I so enjoyed this and I thought it would be fun to share the stories I have heard with all of you.
Each interview will be posted during the third week of the month. You can look forward to reading about my conversation with Sarah Golden, designer of Maker Maker for Andover Fabric next week. I truly enjoyed meeting Sarah (even though it was over the phone) and I know you will enjoy getting to know her as well! Other designers that you will soon read about just might include Maureen Cracknell and Kim Diehl. That’s all I am saying for now.
I really hope these posts are a fun feature. I am thrilled to share them with you.
I have to tell you — I had a whole lot of fun blogging this year. I met quite a few new friends – some bloggers, some readers, and all so very kind. Let’s take a quick look at what went on here over the past year.
I feel like it was a year of growth. Not just with my quilting and sewing skills but also with regards to my blog. For the first time, I held several events here. It was a fun learning experience, between approaching companies to sponsor the events with giveaways, to creating the theme of the event and then publicizing it; it was all new for me. I think it was both successful and rewarding. I have more up my sleeve for 2017 so stay tuned. Both of the book shares were great fun. The next one is coming soon. I will post the new book during the first week of January. If you want to join in, watch for that as it is first come, first served.
While working on expanding the blog, I was also trying to improve my quilting skills. To this end, I worked on my free motion skills quite a bit. I am loving creating pictures, or motifs, with my quilting. Also, I learned to relief quilt and did several projects using this technique. Finally, I took a long-arm class (I believe that was the only class I took all year!) and it was so much fun! Since the class, I have quilted two more quilts and have one ready to go. I am sure I will continue to practice both my FMQ and long-arm skills throughout 2017.
One of the goals I set for myself at the beginning of 2016 was to write more tutorials. They are one way to give back to this community. I have certainly used my share of the amazing tutorials that are floating around this community and it is only fair to create some for others to use. In addition to those that are shown in the pictures; French Press Cozy, Reusable Sandwich Bags, and THREAD Relief Quilting tutorials, I also posted a tutorial on Sew Mama Sew. These are only a few of the tutorials I posted on the blog. If you would like to see more, click on the Tutorials link at the top of this page. I have very much enjoyed sharing these with you and plan to create more in the coming year.
While I do love to quilt, I have also been enjoying making things like bags, zip pouches, and even two dresses! Sometimes these projects are just what I need to give as a gift or to satisfy my need of a quick finish. They don’t take nearly the time that a quilt does! I will say that if I make any bags in 2017, I will explore a new pattern. I have used my Noodlehead 241 Tote pattern three times already. Time to move on!
However, this Washi dress pattern may be used another time or two. It is so comfortable!! I have seen people make it as a tunic and it looks really cute. Possibilities, so many possibilities!
I hope that 2016 was a good year for you as well. The new year is just weeks away. I have some really exciting plans to tell you about but let’s save that for another post. For now, I am grateful for all that I learned this year and for all of the friendships that have occurred via this blog. I look forward to another fun year with each of you.
You know I had to do it, right? This morning I made a third Open Wide pouch. I wanted to test out the ideas I laid out in yesterday’s post. Guess what? The worked out quite well (if I do say so myself). For this pouch, I made the medium size again, with the pouch finishing at 6.5 x 6 inches.
The first change I made was to finish the end of the zipper prior to stitching it to the fabric. So much easier! Sewing this little 2×3 inch rectangle of fabric was much simpler without having the little pouch dragging around while I manipulated the zipper under the presser foot of the machine. Score!
The second change was to leave the lining open, or unstitched, while I boxed the corners of the outer fabric. Again, much easier.
I had everything pinned together as normal and started on one side, by the zipper. I continued up the edge, across the width of the bag and down the other side until I was back at the lining fabric. Then I was able to box the corners and could peek inside to see that the seams were lined up properly.
Once I had the two outer corners boxed, I finished sewing the lining together. I left the usual opening at the bottom of the lining and then boxed those two corners. Bingo. It worked just fine.
I forget what this fabric is even from, but isn’t it sweet. I love these little houses. I wish I had another piece, but I don’t…. such is life. 🙂 I think it is adorable with the sweet bicycles on the outer fabric.
Here is the finished tab once the bag was assembled.
While it isn’t perfect, it is much better than the first two attempts. Yep, practice certainly makes better. I think three pouches is enough. I need to move on to something else now.
But I want to share two more things before I finish up. First is this silly picture of Julia. I love this picture. I think is is reminiscent of a grumpy Mrs. Claus the way she is peering at me above her glasses and the Santa hat is pulled down so low. I think I took this when we were decorating the house for the holidays a couple of years ago. It makes me smile every time.
The next thing is the little wool Christmas ornament I made. I bought the kit when I was in Maine over the summer. It is really adorable. Nothing terribly difficult about it but I enjoyed making it. I like the little beads that were included with the kit. They are just the perfect amount of bling. 🙂
Ok, that’s enough for now! I have a pile of gifts to be wrapped so I had better get busy with them. Oh wait… I have one more thing. Yesterday the power went out and it was a pain. I had cookies in the oven baking, raw cookies on the counter waiting for their turn. Julia ended up studying for her Chemistry final by candlelight and the flashlight on her phone. It was only 4:30 in the afternoon but it was so gloomy out that the house was dark (and we have huge windows in this part of the house!) Luckily it was only out for a couple of hours.
Julia finished her finals today (I am going to brag and tell you she got a 94% on that Chemistry final.) It is officially Christmas break. I am not sure if I will post much over the holidays but please know that I wish everyone a wonderful Holiday season, whichever way you and your family celebrates.
Thanksgiving was a wonderful day for our family. I hope it was the same for yours. There is much to be grateful for, not the least of which is our on-line quilting community. Now there will be the transition into the Christmas holiday season. I am hoping I can convince Ray to put up our outdoor lights this weekend. I think, of all the holiday decorations, the outdoor lights are my favorite. I like to get them up as early as possible so we can enjoy them for as long as possible.
I have a new toy to share with you! The back story is that my father-in-law shares my love of thrift stores. We both enjoy the hunt as one never really knows what might be found on any given day. In October, my father-in-law called me and said he was at a thrift store and was looking at a sewing machine. He said he didn’t really know what it did but it looked interesting and was in great shape. I asked a few questions and figured out it was a vintage Baby Lock EA-605 serger. I think the model was made in the late 1970’s. It is a heavy little guy, being made of metal rather than plastic. When he said the machine was priced at $25, I asked him to grab it for me. He brought it over a few weeks ago when we were celebrating my birthday. (This was a mighty fine quilty birthday!)
Actually, the serger won’t be used for quilting. In case you aren’t familiar, sergers are used to create a finished seam. There is a blade and four lines of thread. There are threads entering from above and below, though there is no bobbin. As the seam is created, the blade trims the excess fabric close to the finished edge. It is oh-so-cool! Having never used one, I signed up for a basic serger class at a little fabric shop in town. That helped me figure out some of the basics but there is still much to be learned. This particular machine is designed for woven fabrics, not knit fabrics. However my serger class instructor thinks I might be able to get a decent result with knits, so I will have to give it a try.
Because the machine needed a few adjustments I took it to our local sewing repair genius. Deby was able to clean and adjust everything and it runs so smoothly now.
I wanted to practice on something simple so I made some Christmas themed drawstring bags. I have made a few each year for the past two years and have quite a collection now. I love not having as much paper to throw out come Christmas morning. I had a stack of vintage Christmas fabrics to use as well as loads of ribbon for the drawstrings.
I think the tiny ones are just adorable.
I turned this one inside out to show you the finished seam from the serger. I didn’t use the serger for the casing that the ribbons threads through. I switched over to the regular machine for that. Check out the clean finish on that seam. So great! I will practice a bit more and then try something simple like pajama pants.
If by chance you also have a serger, I would love to hear about any resources, blogs or uTube videos you might have found helpful for learning to use a serger. Leave details in the comments.