Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Around the World Blog Hop

Scrappy disappearing 9 patch quilt in progress. Perhaps my next tutorial?

I've been anxious to start blogging again after taking some time off to focus on a family medical situation. When Karen of Badlands Quilts asked me to join the Around the World Blog Hop I knew this was my chance to jump back in. 

Karen and I met when the Minneapolis Modern Quilt Guild was just starting up. Karen has organized many of our group's challenges, block lotteries, and exchanges. Thanks to her efforts, I've sewn blocks I never would have tackled on my own. She's an intrepid quilter with an enormous range of techniques and styles. Do check out her blog if you aren't a follower/reader yet.

Wonky Stars quilt I made with the Minneapolis Modern Quilt Guild lottery blocks. Great idea, Karen.
And now to the questions...

1. What am I working on?

Basting! Everybody's favorite task, right? I have three quilts to baste, quilt, and bind. I absolutely positively will not start a new project until I tackle Mount Quilt Tops. Maybe.

I'm also working on warm, winter-friendly clothes for the kids. Here are some corduroy pants in progress for my 5 year old daughter. I used a bit of leftover bias quilt binding to face the inside of the front pockets for a fun little detail. 

FYI: the pants pattern is from Ottobre Design's Autumn 4/2012 issue. It's called "Forest Path." These pants are suitable for both boys and girls. I'll let you know how they turn out.

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I consider myself a modern quilter, but mostly I just love simplicity, bright colors, graphic prints, and contrast.

My "signature" style element seems to be teeny tiny sashing. Honestly, I love it so much that I have to actively avoid adding it to every quilt I make.

3. Why do I write/create what I do?

You know how it is. Sewing keeps me sane. It's tactile. It's useful. It's meditative. It's creative.

My Bella Roma quilt pattern - notice the tiny border.

When writing patterns and tutorials, I strive to create designs that are both accessible to new quilters but also appealing to seasoned sewists.

4. How does my writing/creating process work?

I like to start with graph paper and my trusty colored pencils. Once I come up with a design I like, I start making test blocks to determine scale. Finally, I use to EQ7 or iDraw to lay out the overall design.

I've discovered through trial and error that something I whip up on EQ or iDraw may look great on the screen, but looks like a hot mess when committed to fabric. For this reason, I always make lots of samples as I write patterns and tutorials. I typically make a minimum of three iterations of the same quilt or sewing project before I'm done. Do I get bored doing the same thing over and over again? Not really. The joy is in the process.

Tag - you're it!

Please check out Rebecca and Kristin as they join the Around the World Blog Hop on Monday, October 20th. These two talents are members of the Minneapolis Modern Quilt Guild.

Rebecca blogs at knittymama.com. As you can probably tell from the name, she frequently writes about knitting, and rightfully so. Rebecca is phenomenal with a pair of knitting needles, but she also does beautiful work with fabric. Her quilts are full of color and joy.

Kristin blogs at andchips.blogspot.com. She started sewing very recently, but you'd never know it. Kristin has a soft spot for softies, but she's an avid quilter as well. And talk about fearless with a needle and thread! Embroidery, paper piecing, applique? Yep, she does it all.

Happy sewing,

Monday, May 12, 2014

Thesaurus Fat Quarter Bundle and Riley Blake Bolt End Basics - Giveaway

Hey everybody, it's one of the best days of the year - Sew, Mama, Sew! Giveaway Day! For the next four days, use the links on the Sew, Mama, Sew! web site to discover sewing blogs and enter to win some serious swag.

I'm pleased to offer two different bundles of fabric goodness this time around. The first is a Thomas Knauer Thesaurus fat quarter (18" x 22") bundle by Andover.

The bundle includes 8 fat quarters, for a total of 2 yards of prints in lovely greens, blues, and browns.

My second giveaway bundle was inspired by a fit on spring cleaning that hit over the weekend. The fact is, my pile of bolt ends/remnants from my online shop is overflowing and something must be done.

This bundle includes a piece of Riley Blake Designs' small chevrons, small dots, and solid quilting cotton in both navy and gray. The size of each piece varies, but the winner will receive a total of 2 yards. These fabrics are great for patchwork quilts, applique, or simply stash building. Thank you in advance for helping me clear out some much needed space.

Please use Rafflecopter to enter. I know not everybody loves it, but it sure makes life easier for us giveaway bloggers. You've got up to six ways to enter the giveaway. The easiest is to leave a comment with the answer to this question:

What is your favorite thing to sew?

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Now for the fine print. This giveaway is open to U.S. residents only. You must enter by May 16 at 5 p.m. PST. I'll contact you by May 18 if you're the winner, and fabric bundles will be shipped by May 20th. Two winners will be chosen at random.

Thank you in advance to new blog and social media followers. You absolutely make my day!


P.S. Good luck with all your giveaway entries! I hope you win something great.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Craftsman Baby Quilt Featuring Cindy Lindgren's Amelia Harper Fabric

See that sweet baby wrapped in a quilt in Arts & Crafts Homes and the Revival magazine? Her name is Amelia Harper and her great aunt is Minneapolis illustrator extraordinaire, Cindy Lindgren.

Not only does Cindy create beautiful art prints and cards, available in her Etsy shop, but she also designs fabric for Modern Yardage. So, when she found out here niece was expecting, she started designing a fabric collection to decorate the new baby's nursery. Isn't that sweet?

Do you know about Modern Yardage? This family-owned fabric company uses the latest technology to print fabric digitally rather than the traditional screen printing method. They use environmentally-friendly water-based textile pigments (yeah!). But one of the "greenest" things about Modern Yardage is no waste. Fabrics are printed on demand as they're ordered, rather than thousands of bolts that may or may not sell. And no worries about a fabric being sold out or unavailable at a later date. Another cool feature of Modern Yardage fabrics? All prints are available in three scales, so you can choose the size that best fits your project.

Watch the first short video on the Modern Yardage News Feed page if you'd like to learn more about their process.

Cindy enlisted the help of a number of talented sewing friends to help create inspirations for the Amelia Harper fabric line launch. You can see these beautiful samples here on Cindy's web site. Here are a few of the items that were recently on display at The Linden Tree in Minneapolis. I was so thrilled when Cindy asked me to design Amelia's quilt. We met several times to discuss the fabric line, her style, and she shared with me some of her favorite baby quilts she found on Pinterest. Armed with Cindy' jpeg images, I got to work designing an Arts & Crafts-inspired modern baby quilt pattern.

I'm pleased to offer the Craftsman Baby Quilt pattern, featuring Cindy's Amelia Harper collection in Monarch, here on my blog.

More photos of the finished quilt are available on Cindy's blog here.

I really enjoyed sewing with the Amelia Harper fabrics. Modern Yardage prints their designs on pre-shrunk poplin, which has a denser weave than typical quilting cotton. It's got a lovely crisp hand, which makes for beautifully accurate seams.

And now a few details about the Craftsman Baby Quilt pattern.

  • It's fat quarter friendly (hooray!)
  • It's easy to assemble and fun to piece
  • It's great for large scale prints
  • At 35" square, it's small enough to keep a baby warm without swallowing him/her whole
  • Use a different print in each large panel or use just one print for a cohesive look
Here are some digital samples using the different Amelia Harper color collections:




And finally, yes, you could conceivably use other fabrics. Here I've used Tamara Kate's Les Monsieurs Aviator collection from Michael Miller. If you make a Craftsman Baby Quilt, using Amelia Harper fabric or something else, I hope you will post it in the Mini Mushrooms Flickr group I just created. I'd love to see your creations! 

A bright quilt on a dreary day

Happy sewing,

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,