Friday, August 23, 2019

Summer's Almost Gone

How has your summer been? Mine has gone by so fast. First we had a wet, wet spring and we thought summer would never get here and then after the heat wave laced with so much rain and humidity we're really starting to look forward to fall here in Chicago.

There were a few nice days where I could actually sit outside and do a little bit of applique. And enjoy my morning coffee. 

I've been busy, busy, busy - quilting and writing my next book. When fall gets here I'm sure I won't even notice. Time is flying by and I'm not finished with everything I still need to do. But I'm pretty close. You're going to love this one and I'll tell you more when we get closer to the release date (if you can wait until December 2020 - hah). Publishing takes a really long time. Not my fault. After I finish and send the manuscript and quilts to Martingale for photos and editing (that takes more than a few months), they send it off on a slow boat to China to be printed.

This may have to tide you over until then. If you love small quilts, you might want to pick up this new Martingale book - The Big Book of Little Quilts. There are two quilts from my book Small & Scrappy in it. Plus, lots of other great quilts from some of your favorite designers.

Does this quilt look familiar? It's the small quilt challenge some of my small quilt groupies are working on for August. Barn Raising, from my book A Prairie Journey.

Working on a book doesn't leave you much time for fun. You really have to focus every day and just hunker down at the computer or sewing machine for hours at a time and do stuff when you'd rather be outside playing.  For instance, I haven't been into the city much this year but one day a couple of weeks ago my son called and wanted to have lunch so I drove down there to meet him. After lunch we walked along the lakefront. We picked a beautiful day and now I really miss the lake and the city (and free time). No summer vacation this year.

On the way home I stopped at the International Market and this "little girl" was behind me in line, just begging me to snap her picture. What a sweetie. I guess it's okay to start bringing my own poodle along with me when I shop now??

If she's not too busy, that is . . . 

Oh yeah. I lucked out and got a dog who likes to read quilting books in her spare time. What are the chances??
(Sorry - the longer I work, the sillier I get . . . .)

Have a great weekend!

Monday, July 15, 2019

2019 Mystery Quilt - Finished!

I'll bet some of you wondered if I would ever blog again about the Mystery Quilt I started this year. Or if I'd even finish. Well here's your answer - it's done! The blocks we worked on each month earlier this year were posted in files in my Facebook Small Quilt Lovers group and on my website. And now it's time to put them all together.

I just got my quilt back from the quilter. She did a nice, simple, all-over stipple design. I'm not overly fond of heavily quilted quilts and like the quilting on mine to be very simple so I'm very happy with it. As you can see, it's not exactly a small quilt. (But I did use small blocks.) Originally, it was going to be a simple row quilt - set the blocks on point and use sashing in between the rows. Add a binding. You will often see this kind of finish on antique quilts. After I put mine together, I decided (or the quilt decided) it needed a border. Now it's a lap quilt. I've been busy working on something else right now and haven't had time to do the binding yet. But I'll get there.

The block patterns are still up in the files and on my website but they'll only be there for a few more months while I decide if I'm going to do another Mystery Quilt next year. Have fun if you begin this one. But hurry and get those patterns printed out while they're still available. 

I've seen some beautiful finished quilts in the Facebook group.  Here's Sue Bennett's finished quilt - 

I can't believe it's mid-July already. The monthly small quilt challenge for June AND July (because everyone gets busy during the summer) is also in the group files - 

I haven't had enough time to finish mine yet. And I'm still deciding if I like that blue border or if it's too darn busy. So I'm putting it off for now. (It's just too busy. Don't know what I was even thinking.) Some in the Facebook group have made this into a pillow and it looks really cute that way.

Recap: We had a Patriotic Pincushion Parade on July 4th in my Facebook and other group and I was happy to see so many of you join us. This is always so much fun. Once you start making them, you can't stop. Sometimes, making a simple little pincushion is just the thing to jump start a little creative sewing if you've been stalled or stuck.

Pins from last year.

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Making Small Quilts, a Little at a Time

Making small quilts can be quick, fun and rewarding. They're easy to make and yet I know that it's often difficult for some of you to find the time or get motivated to do that. I understand completely. Life always gets in the way. We have good days (or weeks) and bad days (or weeks). Days we feel like sewing and days when everything (gosh darn it) seems to stand in the way of us making it into that room to sew. Roadblocks all over the place. What you need is a plan, my friends, to counteract the detours. Sometimes, quilting within a community of those who also love small quilts gives you that motivation. Try joining one of my quilting groups listed on the sidebar of this blog. We do small quilt challenges every month. No pressure. Just follow along best you can.

Last month's challenge

Struggle with applique much? Does it make your stomach churn just thinking about doing it? Watch, amazed, as some members get chills at the "A" word (you know who I'm talking about) then suddenly take the leap, rise to the challenge, find support in our little community of quilters and conquer their fears. Finally realizing -  Yes! Applique can be fun! LOL

Most of us love the idea of having a nice stack or wall of small quilts to display. The problem is to stop dreaming about this and actually create the time to get them made. I try to encourage quilters to follow along in my groups to make the challenge quilt that's posted every month. Do a little each week. You'd be surprised at how much can be accomplished in a single month if you're surrounded by supportive quilters who are trying to do the same thing. It's also fun to see the different varieties of styles and interpretations of my patterns that people make. 

So here's the good news for April: beginning this month, my Facebook Small Quilt Lovers group is having a sweet sew along. Some have decided that now is the right time to start (or finish) my Peony Star quilt from my book Remembering Adelia. It's an oldie but a goodie. 

If this is something you've had on your list for awhile, now is the time to join in. Get 'er done! Follow along in the Facebook group with our hostesses Ann and Sue and they'll help keep you motivated to make the blocks on a timely basis and finish this lovely quilt. It's one of my favorite spring-like quilts and so maybe if we work hard, together,  it will encourage spring to finally show up, who knows? It's been pretty dreary here in Chicagoland for too long and I am anxiously awaiting to see those peonies show up in my garden. 

The Sew Along (SAL) officially begins on April 15. Right now they're focusing on picking fabrics for the blocks. Because these blocks are a tad bigger than the ones we small quilt lovers are used to making, you'll want to experiment a little. Pick the colors and prints you love and see how they blend together. Maybe add a few larger prints for some nice, scrappy contrast among the blocks.

If you don't have my book Remembering Adelia, I have limited (signed) copies available on my website. On sale right now just for the sew along. 

*  *  *

In other news -  we're also still working on our 2019 Mystery Quilt. You can find the monthly patterns in the group files or on my website under the Mystery Quilt page. A few more months to go and then all will be revealed in July.

April's block is called Baby Bunting.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

National Quilting Day - Celebrate!

It's National Quilting Day! Let's celebrate. Sew along with me and make this cute little mug quilt

You know I love making small projects and sometimes it's just the thing to get my creativity going. This little pinwheel block is left over from a different project (still unfinished, ugh.) and I decided to use it to make a mug quilt. Isn't it sweet? A mug quilt is something I'll always use and it's always nice to have a few extra lying around just in case. What fun to serve someone a cup of tea with a cute mug rug and see them smile and say "Oh, how cute!"  I am calling this "Whirlwind" because that's the name of the block and also my sewing room right now looks like a tornado hit it because I'm working on many things at once. I know most of you know exactly what I mean . . . .

To make this little project, cut -

2 squares, 2 7/8"  x  2 7/8" from a dark blue print
-        Cut each square once on the diagonal for 4 triangles
1 square, 3 1/4" x 3 1/4" from a pink print
-        Cut twice on the diagonal for 4 triangles
1 square, 3 1/4"  x 3 1/4" from a checked fabric
-        Cut twice on the diagonal for 4 triangles
2 squares, 3 3/4"  x 3 3/4" from a light print
-        Cut each square once on the diagonal for 4 triangles
2 strips, 2" x  6" from a medium blue print
1 rectangle  7"  x 10"  from a backing fabric 
1 strip, 1 1/4" wide, from a pink print for binding
7"  x  10"  piece of thin cotton batting

1.  Sew the pink and checked triangles together as shown.  Make four units like this.

2.  Sew each pink and checked unit together with a dark blue triangle. They finished units should measure 2 1/2".  Make four.

3.  Sew the four units together as shown, two at a time. Then, sew the two rows together, pinning the center as you stitch to make sure your points meet. Your block should measure 4 1/2".

4.  Add the light print triangles to the sides of the block.

5.  Sew the medium blue strips to the sides of your block.

6.  Layer the quilt top with batting and backing and then add the pink binding.  I like to use a 1 1/4" single-fold binding strip in my little quilts to avoid too much bulk.

There are all sorts of fun ways to honor your quilty self today - visit a quilt shop, teach someone to quilt, finish a UFO, organize your scraps. Tell a friend how much you love their quilts. You get the idea. Hope whatever you do today involves at least a little bit of quilting.

Why not treat yourself to a book? My book Remembering Adelia is on sale on my website for a short time -

Also, check out my publisher Martingale's semi-annual Warehouse sale - some great quilting books by your favorite authors. Here's one of my favorites that has several of my quilts in it. (Already published ones but if you don't have all my books you may want to get some of these patterns.) More about that Peony quilt next week . . . .

Happy St. Patrick's Day too


Tuesday, February 5, 2019

The Shortest Month. And the Pinkest . . .

February is the shortest month so if you have quilting goals, you'd better get cracking. Here's Block #2 of my Mystery Quilt for 2019. Have you joined in yet? It's free and the patterns for the blocks are posted monthly. We're moving right along. The mystery will be revealed in July.

You can download the monthly patterns from Files in my Facebook small quilt lovers group or the Mystery page on my website. I love this block! It's called "Louisiana" and it's fast becoming one of my favorites. Very simple and yet if you use some pretty fabric combinations with nice contrast it looks more complicated than it really is.

I had pink and brown on my brain as we went into this month. The February small quilt challenge is a free little nine-patch quilt because I was playing around with some pink and brown nine-patch blocks  one evening and said What the heck, this might be perfect for the February challenge quilt - 

Quick and easy. Pattern is in Files in the groups. 

Here's a little more inspiration for February. If you haven't made the Be My Little Valentine quilt from my Small & Scrappy book yet, this may be a good month to get that one finished. Also simple and cute. Doesn't get much easier than four patches. 

More pink and brown - Last February, I started this sweet little hearts quilt and was finally able to finish it last week. I created some kits and also put a pattern up on my website. The kits have already sold out but if anyone would really, really like to purchase one, you may be able to twist my arm to make up a few more so please e-mail me (click on my blog profile for e-mail). I will do this if there's any interest. But I'd have to buy more fabric and you probably won't get them before Valentine's Day. So, let me know. You can also purchase the pattern alone and use your own scraps. 

If you follow along with our monthly challenges, we've still got a few more quilts to make from my Prairie Journey book this year. Last month, some of us made the little log cabin quilt. I forgot to post the pic of mine here. Of course it's not quilted yet because I got sidetracked by a few other things. (More pink and red. I was in antique mode.) 

I chose my colors and fabrics based on an antique doll quilt I saw on eBay. This one was so much fun and it really does stitch up rather easily. (FYI - Needle case was a gift made by a friend. Don't know the pattern.)

These little blocks really make my heart sing.  Make something with pink in it to perk yourself up and get over the gloomy winter doldrums. It won't be spring for awhile. Snow is gone and we have promises of ice and rain here this week. Yep, it's February. But, hey, at least it's the shortest month.