Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Gratitude and a Giveaway

Yesterday our family went through this and this list of gratitude prompting questions.  Some of the questions were really unique and it made me think about all of the things that I am grateful for.

One of the things that I am grateful for is quilting.  I love the planning, picking fabric, cutting, sewing and quilting.  (Not so hip on basting and binding, but you can't have it all.)   When all is going well, it provides a sense of peace (some people say mind-numbing-piecing, I say peace).

I love taking beautiful fabrics and bringing them to a higher plane of beauty and order through piecing and quilting.  I love that my quilts are always beautiful even when my kitchen isn't. :)

I am more grateful than I can express for all of the people I have met through quilting.  I don't know if quilting attracts super cool people or if a shared passion makes us all compatible, but I love hanging out with my quilting friends.

I am grateful that I have had so many more opportunities than I could ever imagine open up to me through quilting.  It started with my first post on Moda Bakeshop and the journey just keeps going.

Did I mention that I am grateful for fabric?  There are so many beautiful fabrics!!!  And Moda Fabrics has graciously provided four charm packs for a giveaway today.  Let me tell you about them.

Dottie - Lots of dots in small and medium sizes.  A great basic and blender.  I know I have mentioned this before, I really like dots.

Purebred - Love horses and paint by number?  Then you will love this line.

Basic Mixologie - This is my favorite of the bunch (it almost stayed at my house).  Lots of tone on tone and small modern prints in great colors.  It should reach stores in December, so you are getting a sneak peek.

Flying Colors - This line of fabric features birds, rainbows and raindrops.  It is not due in stores until February.  You could be the first one on the block with this fabric!  Not that that is saying much in my neighborhood.  I think I am the only one on the block that haunts online fabric stores.  :)

To enter to win these charm packs, I want to know what you are grateful for.  There are three chances to win:

1. What are you grateful for today?  It can be quilting related or not.

2. What Moda designer or line of fabric are you most grateful for?
(I am super grateful for all of the great fabrics Sandy Klop of American Jane creates.)

3.  Share this giveaway on social media.  (on Instagram here.)

Please, leave a separate comment for each entry.

The giveaway is open to quilters with a US postal address.  (I am beyond sorry to have to limit it.)  It will run until the morning of Monday, November 30 CT.  A winner will be randomly selected after my children leave for school.

Thanks!  And have a great Thanksgiving weekend!

Friday, November 20, 2015

You Can Quilt! Blog Hop: A Newbie Quilter!

Hello again!  This spring my friend Linda gave her daughter-in-law Lyn a sewing machine (best present ever!) and a copy of You Can Quilt!  I thought that it would be awesome to hear from a new quilter and Lyn graciously offered to make a few blocks from You Can Quilt! and post a review.  She is guest blogging on Linda's blog Flourishing Palms.  This is her first blog post and these are the first quilt blocks she has made ever!!!  Head on over and give her some quilting love.

This is the last day of the blog hop.  If you want to enter the giveaway to win a copy of You Can Quilt! and a bundle of fabrics hop on over here.  There is also an ebook up for grabs for entrants who live outside the US.  giveaway closes Saturday night.  Thanks so much!

Other stops on the You Can Quilt! Blog Hop can be found here:

Nov. 16th - Lee (
Nov. 17th - AnneMarie (
Nov. 18th - Leanne  (
Nov. 19th - Julie  (
Nov. 20th - Lyn (a beginning quilter guest posting at

Thanks for following along!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

You Can Quilt! Behind the Scenes: Where I Sew

Today Julie at That's Sew Julie is reviewing  You Can Quilt!  Julie actually participated in the original We Can Do It! Skill Builder Sampler and made three test blocks for the book.  Check out her quilt and blocks and see what she has to say about You Can Quilt!  (Looking for the giveaway?  Go here.)

I love to see where people sew so that is what I will share with you today.  Until I started working on the book I usually sewed in a little room down in our partially finished basement.  However, it and the surrounding basement were not kid friendly and I didn't want my 1 year old wandering around down there and getting into who knows what while I was sewing.  So, much to my husband's dismay, I moved everything I would need upstairs --- and it has been here ever since.

I set up my sewing machine at the kitchen table and made a pact with myself that whenever my husband wasn't traveling that the sewing machine and all my stuff would be off the table for dinner.  I would unplug the machine and put it on the ground near the table and pile everything else onto the cutting mat and set it all on top of the ironing board in the hall just outside the kitchen.

The hall that runs down the side of the house is fairly wide and I was able to park my ironing board there full time.  The kids' table was also was stacked with sewing stuff.

When not in active use the sewing machine live under the ironing board or in the coat cubby a few steps down the hall.  I also keep the cutting mat, rulers and box of fabric stacked in the cubby.

I am actually pretty proud of how in control it stayed.  It could have been better, but it could have been a lot worse.

Tomorrow is the last day of the blog hop.  Lyn, a beginning quilter will be posting on her mother-in-law's blog Flourishing Palms.  I can't wait to see what she has to say.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

You Can Quilt! Behind the Scenes: Pretty Pictures

Today Leanne from She Can Quilt (love that name!) is reviewing You Can Quilt!  Head over to see her great improv blocks and hear what she has to say about You Can Quilt!.  To enter the giveaway, go here.

One of the things I was super nervous about when Marlene and I started writing the book proposal was making the graphics.  I had Zero experience making graphics and it seemed nigh on impossible.  I decided to invested in EQ7 which made things much more doable.  Marlene had drafted all the blocks in her copy of EQ7 and sent me her file.  Then I would export a block image and open it in Paint - the basic program that comes with the Windows operating system.  Once the block image was in Paint I would pull it apart in order to show how to sew it together.

Just so you know, this is NOT a professional way to do things, but it worked for me and had a pretty low learning curve.  Our editor rather apologetically told me at the beginning that they could not use our graphics from EQ7 or Paint because they didn't "play well" with their publishing software.  She said they would have to redraw our illustrations.  I said, "Yes!  Please redraw them!"  I didn't want my exact drawings in the book - the quality just wasn't there and I would have been even more of a neurotic-perfectionist-mess than I already was if I had known that exactly what I drew would be in the book.

And sometimes I couldn't draw what I wanted so I would leave little notes for the graphic designer like shown above:  "Dear Editors, My graphic skills are not quite up to this one.  Please add an additional graphic showing it pinned on the ends and middle and then completely pinned.  Thanks!"  Then they would make it all pretty for me.

I think it is fun to look at what we gave them and what the final book looks like.  I knew that they would put the instructions in columns and break up and number the illustrations, and I left that for them to do.  Keeping the manuscript unformatted and the graphics bunched together made the writing and editing easier.  Plus spending hours formatting and numbering when they would reformat didn't seem worth it.  They did a great job keeping the feel of the manuscript we gave them and making it even better.

Stop back tomorrow and see where all the sewing magic happened.  :)

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

You Can Quilt! Behinds the Scenes - Prioritizing in PJs

AnneMarie at GenX Quilters is reviewing You Can Quilt! today.   I've 'known' AnneMarie forever, but finally got to meet her in person a few weeks ago at Market.  It was awesome.  Head on over and check out her Mini Lone Star block and see what she has to say about You Can Quilt!.  (You can enter the giveaway here.)

Yes, those are my PJs and Becca is on my lap pawing through the desk drawer and dropping crayons all over the floor.
 AnneMarie got a behind the scenes look at the writing of You Can Quilt! a few years ago.  I hadn't told many people that I was writing a book but a casual comment on a post ended in me writing a loooong email back to AnneMarie about the stresses of writing a book.  I really needed someone to 'talk' to and she got an earful.  I can't find the email now, but I think I mentioned how the book was taking over my life - that every decision was weighed by how it would affect my sewing and writing time and how it was taking time away from my family.  (Ironically, I was using prime book writing time to email her.)

For example, I would look in the fridge, realize that we were low on milk and had no fresh fruit or veggies and instead of going shopping I would say, "That's ok, we can have canned beets/pears/applesauce/beans for dinner and I can go shopping later."  I knew that between getting kids in the car, driving, shopping, driving, kids, unloading and putting away that I would loose 2 hours of writing or sewing time.  Every day I could put it off was time saved.  Insane.

Photo by 4 year old Kate - different day, same PJs
Anyway, this is where I would write.  Sometimes with an 1 year old on my lap (until she pushed the screen off button too many times).  The kid's Phineas and Ferb Pandora radio station would be playing in the background and every once and awhile I would take a break and we would dance to "I'm the Queen of Mars."  Hearing those songs now really takes me back to writing.  We would listen to hours of kids music a day.

I had a print out of the book's Table of Contents taped to the wall by the computer and I put dates by each chapter so I knew what I had to do to stay on target and meet the deadline.  (So glad that green wallpaper is gone now!)  I also wrote down who was pattern testing each chapter on it.  That piece of paper was my brain.

Was writing You Can Quilt! hellish?  Yes.  Was it worth it?  It was.  Totally!!!
Tomorrow I will post more about the actual process of writing.  See you then!

Monday, November 16, 2015

You Can Quilt! Building Skills For Beginners Blog Hop and GIVEAWAY

This week five bloggers will be reviewing and making blocks from You Can Quilt!  I am so excited!

First up is Lee from Freshly Pieced.  When I first started the You Can Do It! Skill Builder Sampler Quilt-Along (the precursor to You Can Quilt!) back in 2011 I had about 50 followers, one of which was Lee (who had a much wider readership).  She posted about the quilt along and made the first few blocks.  The quilt along would never have taken off nor this book been written without that initial jump start.  Head on over and see what she has to say about You Can Quilt!.

This week I will be posting behind-the-scenes photos from when we were writing You Can Quilt!  Stop back and feel free to ask any questions about the book writing process.

As part of this blog hop we are giving away a hard copy of You Can Quilt! and a bundle of fabrics provided by Moda.  These are some of the same fabrics that I used in the book!  They vary in size, but there are over 2 yards total.  You must have a US mailing address to be eligible for this package.

But never fear!  We have a second prize for those living outside the US.  Our publisher, AQS, has all their books available as e-books and they will send an e-book of You Can Quilt! to an "international" winner.

You have 3 chances to win:

1.  Leave a comment here and let us know where you live.  This will allow us to send you the correct prize and it will be fun to see where everyone is from.  I love our world wide quilting community!

2.  Follow me on Instagram.  I just joined last week and it is awesome!  I am still figuring out the ropes and need to find some like-minded quilting people to follow.  Come back here and leave a second comment saying that you follow me.

3.  Follow my co-author Marlene on Facebook.  She owns a small quilt shop in Washington State and does beautiful longarm quilting for her customers.  Lots of eye-candy.  Leave a third comment saying that you follow Marlene on Facebook.

The giveaway closes Saturday, November 21st at midnight (Central Time) and we will randomly select a winner on Sunday morning.

And please visit the other bloggers throughout the week to see what they think of You Can Quilt!:

Nov. 16th - Lee (
Nov. 17th - AnneMarie (
Nov. 18th - Leanne  (
Nov. 19th - Julie  (
Nov. 20th - Lyn (a beginning quilter guest posting at

If you want to buy a copy of You Can Quilt! it is now 55% off at Connecting Threads!!!  A total steal for 144 pages and a CD.  Signed copies are also available from Marlene and myself.

The giveaway is closed and the winners have been contacted.   Thanks for visiting!

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Now on Instagram (at last)

A couple of months ago my husband's work phone got upgraded and now I have his "old" iPhone with all of the new possibilities that it opens.  Like Instagram.  Yup, I am now on Instagram.  Better late than never.  

I still haven't quite figured out how to upload pictures from my computer - there doesn't seem to be a straightforward way, so content is a little thin (one picture) but I plan to start posting soon.  It will be my "work" account so it will be pictures of quilts and fabric and the like - no silly cat pictures.  ;)

I would love to get together on Instagram.  You can find me here.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Heather Ross Bag - At Last

I bought some Heather Ross fabric years ago planning to use it to make a bag and last week I finally did!  The coral print with the little girls playing with horses was the inspiration fabric.  I thought about doing the whole bag with that fabric, but then decided that it might be a little much.

So I made a bag with lots of different HR fabrics all improvisationally pieced together.  (To tone it down?)  I picked linen fabrics that were in the warm orange/coral/pink family and then added a punch of aqua (not HR) to keep it from getting to boring.

I used the free Phoebe pattern but lengthened the strap because it was blatantly too short --- and then I had to shorten it back up because the pattern was correct.  Note to self:  Make the pattern as directed the first time round - the author might just know what they are talking about.  :)


I love the inside pockets.  The rose and tape measure fabric are some of my favorites.

Part of me feels kind of silly walking around with a coral patchwork bag but the other part of me knows that everyone else wishes they had one too.  ;)

The Des Moines MQG are having a holiday swap this week and I think I am going to have to make another bag to swap.  The Phoebe bag is a great size and shape and goes together quickly.  And if I am busy sewing then I can put off raking leaves.  Win-win!

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Building Blocks Finish, Market and Blog Hop

Hi there.  I just wanted to show you my finished Building Blocks quilt.  I tried something new with the binding and bound the area around the blocks with colored fabric and used the background fabric as binding around the background area.  I like it.

I took the quilt to Market with me.  Marlene and I did a Schoolhouse presentation on You Can Quilt!  It went so well.  It was well attended (I was worried no one would show) and quilt shop owners seemed excited to see how they could use the book as a base for classes in their shop.  Yea!

I think it really helped that we had a wide variety of quilts to show.  The one above was made by a student in the Skill Builder Class that Marlene taught last year.  When Marlene talked about how she has used the You Can Quilt! manuscript to teach in her shop you could feel the shop owners in the audience connecting with her.

The You Can Quilt! blog hop sponsored by Island Batik is still going on.  Remember that you can leave a comment on each post to be entered to win a copy of the book and a bundle of fabric.  Details here.

In addition to the earlier post on basic skills the Half Square TriangleQuarter Square Triangle and Flying Geese Chapters there are now post about Wonky Blocks, Improvisation, Applique, Curves, and Foundation Paper Piecing,  I just want to thank all of the Island Batik Ambassadors for taking the time to review the book and make the blocks from each chapter.  Check them out!

And have a great Halloween!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

My New English Paper Piecing Project

Last December I cut up all of my small scraps and started making this hexagon quilt.  I had seen pictures of the La Passacaglia quilt and decided to make my own much simplified version with overlapping hexagons - partly because I didn't want to invest in the papers and templates.  Then last month I saw the papers and templates on sale on Massdrop and I totally caved.  A sale and almost a year of seeing the most gorgeous La Passacaglia blocks totally broke my resolve not to start another EPP project.

I have put away my hexagon quilt for now and am focusing on my La Passacaglia.  It is awesome!  I worked on it today and got even further than this.  It is going to take forever, but it is lots of fun choosing fabrics.  Fussy cutting the flowers did waste quite a bit of fabric, but I hope to use those little bits in a different block.  You are sure to see many more pictures of this project.  :)

In the You Can Quilt! Blog Hop there have been posts on the Half Square Triangle, Quarter Square Triangle and Flying Geese Chapters.  The posts are a great way to get a feel for the book and you can enter to win a copy of You Can Quilt! and a bundle of fabric at each of the posts.  Check them out!

Linking to Scraptastic Tuesday.