Tuesday, February 11, 2014

February Love

January in Minnesota is always pretty tough, but this year was downright brutal. After four days of school cancelled due to extreme cold, family medical issues, lots of snow, plus a textbook case of cabin fever, I am eternally grateful for February. We'll just ignore that -13 reading on the thermometer this morning.

Last week my youngest child celebrated her 5th birthday. Now all three of my kids are school age. I've had at least one little person by my side nearly every day for past eleven years. How strange it will be to send them all off to school this fall. The end of era.

Having a little birthday fro-yo.

I attended a scrap management class this past weekend taught by Amanda Jean Nyberg of Crazy Mom Quilts and co-author of Sunday Morning Quilts. The class was organized by the Minneapolis Modern Quilt Guild. It was fun, informative, and inspiring. A day of sewing and socializing is pretty much the best therapy ever. Stayed tuned for more about this class.

Soon to be a 14" pillow

Also destined to be a pillow

Museums are a great way to combat cabin fever. There are two exhibits here in the Twin Cities I plan to check out before the month is over. The first is Papercut! The Incredible Psaligraphy of Karen Bit Vejle at the American Swedish Institute. More information about Karen Bit Vejle is available here.  And here's a lovely short video of her in action: 

Ballerina Bulldog from Karen Bit Vejle on Vimeo.

The second exhibit I'm looking forward to is Danish Modern: Design for Living at the Goldstein Gallery at the University of Minnesota. I'll be sure to take photos and share them here.

Now I'm off to round up supplies for making valentines. My 3rd grader informed me after I bought several boxes of cards that NOBODY gives out the pre-made ones. Who knew? We'll make our own tonight while we watch the Winter Olympics. Seriously, who needs spring when winter is so fun?

Stay warm!


P.S. There's one more museum exhibit you might be interested in. Modern Perspectives at the Wisconsin Museum of Quilts and Fiber Arts looks really interesting. Do you live in the area? Let me know if you've been to the show. I'd love to hear about it.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Wonky Stars Spiraling Out of Control

I've been dying to try spiral machine quilting. There are so many lovely examples on the web. After reading a tutorial or two, I decided to give it a shot with this quilt top that's been been sitting around my sewing room for way too long.

My wonderful sewing machine has one major flaw - the walking foot does not have a quilting bar/guide. Not good for spiral quilting. Actually, not good for straight line quilting, either.

If any of you out there own a Juki 2010Q (or similar Juki), please let me know how you manage this. Did you find a different walking with a guide? Do tell.

Sans guide, I simply eyeballed the spiral. I drew a little circle with a fabric marking pencil as a starting point and went for it. All the tutorials say to start very slowly. They aren't kidding. 

Here's the finished product. Wonky spirals to go with wonky stars!

The perfectionist in me is going nuts, but the realist says let it go.

Wow, that quilting looks really bad. Funny bad!

At least it's sorta okay from a distance...

Practice makes perfect, right?

Happy sewing,

Sunday, January 5, 2014

It's Downton Day

Downton Abbey Season 4 starts tonight. Hooray!

I can't wait for the next season of Sherlock to start, too. January 19th will be here in no time.

I'm lining up knitting and hand sewing projects in preparation for a January TV-a-thon. Who cares about the frigid temperatures?! I'm perfectly content inside.

Misty Alpaca Chunky purchased just down the street at Digs

Will you be watching tonight? Enjoy! And stay warm if you're also in the deep freeze zone.


Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Christmas Oranges (and an iron review)

Happy New Year! 

Have you compiled your list of 2013 accomplishments and resolutions for 2014?  I haven't because I've still got Christmas on the brain.

It was a very merry and orange Christmas.

From my hubby, new flannel sheets just in time for a wicked cold snap. Tonight's low is -12 (-24 Celsius). Brr.

For my oldest son, an orange reading light.

For my fabric shop, a fresh bolt of the world's best orange fabric, Clementine Moda Bella Solid.

And to me from me, a new iron!

This is the Velocity V50 iron from Reliable. Don't be fooled by the cute orange exterior, this baby is a powerhouse!

What's so great about this iron? Simple. It presses a mean seam.


  • It's heavy
  • It's hot
  • It's got wicked steam
  • The edges of the sole plate fold those quilt seams over so nicely

I've made the same quilt three times now in the last three months (crazy, I know). The pattern requires lots of accurate pressing. I didn't realize how much I was struggling with getting flat seams until I suddenly wasn't. Honestly, this iron cut my pressing time nearly in half.

The Velocity takes a little getting used to. It's kind of like driving a manual transmission car. This is because you control the steam. See the white button on the side of the iron near the handle? There's one on each side. Press this button to get steam. Press it again to turn it off. Don't want steam? Don't press the button.

The Velocity has a separate heating element within the iron for generating steam. This means you can use the iron at cooler temperatures and still get good steam. It theoretically means no spitting, either. So far, so good. Here's a promo video from Reliable with everything you need to know and probably more.

There are a couple of things about this iron that will take some getting used to:

1. The manufacturer highly recommends using distilled water. Tap water, especially the type with a high mineral content, is to be used as a last resort. If this is the price to pay for no orange mineral messes on my fabric, then so be it. I also want this iron to last since it was not cheap, so distilled water it is.

2. I discovered that if I don't turn off the steam  when the iron is in the resting position, the next time I lift the iron to press a seam an enormous cloud of steam comes rushing out. Scary! Now I'm very careful to turn the steam off the moment I tip the iron back up again. Again, it's like driving a stick shift.

In general, I'm very impressed with the Velocity iron, and completely beguiled by the orange color. Never underestimate the importance of good sewing machine and a good iron!

One last thing before I go. Remember that reading light for my son? I have one, too, and it's the bomb for sewing.

This little LED light is super adjustable so you can get light exactly where you need it when you're machine or hand sewing. The JANSJĂ– is $10 for the stand version and $15 for the clip variety. It's great for retreats, too.

Okay, that's enough product endorsing for 2014. Do let me know if you have any questions about the Velocity iron, though. Do you have an iron you love? I'd love to hear about it in the comments.

Happy sewing,

Monday, December 9, 2013

It's Giveaway Day - Low Volume vs. High Volume

Congratulations to Patty - the winner of the quilting loot!

An enormous thank you to all who entered the giveaway and a double thanks to those of you who became blog and/or Facebook followers. 


It's Sew, Mama, Sew! Giveaway Day!

I've been thinking a lot about color lately as I've been working on various quilts and patterns. Color, I love you, but it's hard not to notice the big trend of 2013 - low volume, neutrals, earth tones, whatever you want to call them.

So here's my question for you. Which color palette do you prefer? Low volume? High volume? Something in between?

Now a little about the loot...

Get your neutrals on with a signed copy of Amy Ellis' Modern Neutrals book.

Next up, a range of Moda Candy (cute little precut bundles of 2 1/2" squares) from low volume to high volume.

A copy of my quilt pattern, Bella Roma, where I encourage you to go bold with color!

And finally, a Hera Marker from Clover. While this item has nothing to do with high or low volume, it may come in handy when finishing your high or low volume quilt project. Use it to mark your quilting lines without using a pen/chalk/pencil.

So here's the entire lot of it:

This giveaway is open to U.S. folks, only. Good luck!


P.S. Feel free to leave a comment on the blog if you don't want to enter through Rafflecopter. I'll make sure your name is in the drawing.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Cure for the common cold (spell)

It's time for a little fun after a long weekend of sick kids and sub-zero temperatures. Thankfully, Sew, Mama, Sew's Giveaway Day is tomorrow!

Have you participated in the past, either doing a giveaway or entering others? It's such a fun way discover new blogs and potentially win some really cool stuff.

Here's a sneak peak of what I'll be giving away. Please stop by again this week to enter.

Stay warm!


Thursday, November 21, 2013

Big Girl Quilting Camp

Tomorrow I'm headed to my first overnight quilting retreat. Yippee!

I had hoped to be packed by this point, but you know how it goes. My suitcase is still empty, save for the items my children kindly packed for me. Contents currently include a teddy bear, an Incredible Hulk action figure, a Hello Kitty backpack, and a Dora coloring book. So, aside from these essentials, what else do I need to bring?

Time to tackle the UFO pile

Here's my list so far...

sewing machine
my sewing projects
rotary cutter
extra bobbins
seam ripper
machine feet
painter's tape
extra fabric

and I'm also thinking...

ear plugs (I'm a light sleeper)
an electronic device for connecting to the outside
cell phone
directions to the retreat center

Retreat prep day. Cutting up precious Hope Valley yardage.

What are your quilting retreat tips and essentials? I'd love to hear from you.


P.S. Thank you, Minneapolis Modern Quilt Guild, for organizing the retreat.