New Blogger’s Blog Hop

I am very excited to share this with you. I am participating in the New Blogger’s Blog Hop, beginning on June 4th. Many new bloggers, who have had blogs that are under 3 years old, will be participating. Check-in!!

I will be posting on June 4th during this blog hop, which will be lasting through mid-July. Each blogger will be offering tips, techniques about quilting blogging, and social media.

Lots of photos and tutorials will be included, not mention some “fun stuff.”
Who doesn’t like fun stuff?

And on June 6th, I will be celebrating my first blogaversary with a special surprise from Fort Worth Fabric Studios, http://www.fortworthfabricstudio.com/
(Thanks again, Jodie!).

Have a Happy Weekend, and Happy Quilting!!

Stretching Quilt and Blog Skills

I am always considering, what can I offer my readers in my next blog post and in the future? How can I improve it? And, how can I continue to grow as I quilter? 

As a blogger, I know I don’t have any real photography experience. My husband has been a great help to me during this first year. He knows what he’s doing behind a camera, and how to compose and style what I would like photographed.

As a quilter, I am very interested in learning how to design new quilt tops, and possibly even fabric designs. Right now I am just focusing on quilt top designs, because I don’t want to become overwhelmed.

I am good at imagining the design of a quilt top, and am good at pencil rendering.  

So, I’ve been thinking; Where do I go from here?  Many quilters ask themselves these, and similar questions.

Today I registered at our local community college for a digital photography class beginning on June 30th.  It’s very intensive, and meets twice a week for five weeks. Six hours a week in the classroom. 

I did this with a goal in mind which is to improve my photography skills not only for my blog, but for taking photos in general. For the most part, I’ve used my iPhone 4S, which is not so terrible.  But I did decide to purchase a reasonably priced digital camera.


 

Nickon Coolpix L820

About two months ago I took a basic drawing class online through Creativebug, http://www.creativebug.com/workshops/basic-line-drawing-2
Lisa Congdon was a great teacher. I learned how to doodle, which loosened me up.

Goofy Doodles that led to loosening up and some fun little sketches.

 

Cat in a flower pot (above).






 Cat sleeping (above).

And a few weeks ago, I created my first quilt block design. Of course, I am excited to share it, but I need to sew a few prototype blocks from my sketches.  Then I can’t wait to make a sample in a small size first.

Have a great weekend and Happy Quilting!!

Machine Quilting, Hand Quilting and WIP’s

I learned how to hand quilt before I learned how to machine quilt. Actually I enjoy both. But today I am going to focus on hand quilting.  One reason is that I can share this WIP with you today, which I am so excited about. It is a single size bed quilt, that I am hand quilting. That bottom row is almost finished. Then the edges. Sew up the binding, and it will be finished!!

This pattern is Attic Windows, and the pattern was published in 101 Fabulous Rotary-Cut Quilts, by Judy Hopkins and Nancy J. Martin. Bothell, WA., Martingale Company, 1998, pp. 37-38.

It is almost finished.  I hand quilt the edges using this half circle hoop. It is great for hand quilting the edges and the corners. 

I always have one hand quilting project in my WIP projects. Even if it’s a king size quilt. (Not kidding I’ve done one before, and after this I am going to do another king). 

Doing hand work, is very relaxing and very Zen for me. It’s great to pick up when I’m waiting for a repair person to show up, or I don’t have enough time between two activities to start sewing on the sewing machine. I love to have some hand work to do at night when my husband and I are watching TV.

AND, in my bee, we only do hand work, which does not mean just quilting and hand applique. Some members bring crochet and knitting. We meet in a church basement every other week, and it would not be easy to bring a sewing machine down the narrow stairs, and all the stuff we need to work on, when piecing or machine quilting.

The really interesting part of this story is; halfway through this quilt I was introduced to the Prescencia Thread line. Pepper Cory http://peppercory.blogspot.com/, http://www.peppercory.com/,swears by this thread, and encouraged me to try it on this quilt.

I was already halfway finished with another brand’s neutral color. The color shades are slightly different, but I decided to try it, and ended up changing to the Prescencia hand quilting #40 thread anyway.

Here’s why;

1. The thread moves so smoothly through the quilt. It glides like skates on really smooth ice, through the three layers. I can do 4-5 stitches at a time.

2. The thread is really durable.

3. I looked at some of my other quilts that are hand quilted.  They have been used, washed and dried in home machines, but the color of the thread has faded over time. I know Presencia doesn’t fade. 

I learned about this when I interviewed Jim and Tom Collingham from Colonial Needle, and they showed me a minor’s jacket with the Ralph Lauren logo on it, which are made using Prescencia threads. The jacket was washed over 50 times and bleached. It is still the same bright color. http://www.hudsonvalleyquilts.com/2014/01/a-visit-to-colonial-needle-in-white.html


BTW – I am not being paid to write about this. I’m just passing this on because it’s a relatively new discovery for me, and I love this product. While looking at this quilt that’s in the home stretch, I am awestruck by the color of this thread next to the other thread. I am so happy with it, and am excited to share a great new quilting product.

Can you tell the difference between them?

 

Feel free to guess which is the Presencia.  When I post next Thursday, I will tell you which one it is. I am not revealing the manufacturer of the other thread, because this is a positive blog. They make a good product. And, I am not interested in negativity.

On another note, I did finish all 80 blocks for my Pick & Mix quilt over the weekend – goal accomplished!!

These are just a few….

Linking up with Freshly Pieced!

Once again, I want to wish everyone a very happy Memorial Day.
I am sending out special prayers, and many “thank you’s” to all those who have served, and are serving our country, and their families. You all do so much for us in so many ways.

WIP – Pick and Mix Quilt

I finished 50 out of 80 blocks for my Pick and Mix Quilt. (Design by Angela Davies). Not all 50 are shown here. The flannel that’s underneath the squares isn’t big enough to hold all the blocks for a king size quilt. 

Eight rows by nine rows of blocks. Then the corner blocks and triangles from Fat squares along the boarders. After that a double row boarder. 




My goal is to have the other 30 blocks finished by the end of Memorial Day Weekend. I am pretty sure that won’t be a problem.

I am adding in some new fabrics as you can see. I am happy with it, but feel it needs a little more variety and some pop. Just a bit, because I envisioned it to be very scrappy.



 

So I did break my fabric and diet, and purchased a few more fat quarters from https://www.etsy.com/shop/sewmeasong. Thank Becca, for getting these mailed out to me so quickly.

BTW – I will be interviewing Becca in June about her Etsy shop.

I am really excited to see the top finished, and can’t wait to see the top finished.

On that note, I want to wish everyone a very happy holiday weekend. 
I am sending out special prayers, and many “thank you’s” to all those who have served, and are serving our country, and their families. You all do so much for us in so many ways.

 

Out of Print Fabric – Half Yearly List of Resources to Find Them

Back in September, I ran a 2 part series about the Importance of Selvedge edges, http://www.hudsonvalleyquilts.com/2013/09/the-many-lives-of-selvedge-edges-part-1.html

That post evolved into a list of resources and places to look into if you ever have to track down an out-of-print fabric. I intend to update this list every six months. And I will also post, biyearly, the list of great online and brick & mortar stores that will send you an e-mail, announcing their weekly, and even daily sales. All you have to do is subscribe to their newsletter. See April’s post at the following link.http://www.hudsonvalleyquilts.com/2014/04/great-deals-list-of-online-and-brick.html 

I’m a little behind, but here we go with the Semi Annual List of Out of Print Resources.

It’s great to save those selvedge edges in case you are trying to track down an out-of-print fabric. The information is extremely helpful, when calling a manufacturer or a store to ask about OOP fabrics.

1. I will call customer service at the fabric manufacturer with the information. They are often a wealth of information, and have provided me with some brick and mortar stores names and web sites, they think still have the fabric I am looking for in stock. (More about brick and mortar stores and oop fabrics below). 

For example, if you were looking for a Moda Fabric – Snowman Gathering. It has a code number 1080 11. You could google 1080 11 Moda Snowman Gathering, and your results would bring you to many shops. 

 2. Of course a google search is the fastest and easiest way to begin your search. Use all combinations of color code and manufacturer to search. See above. (I’m a part-time public reference librarian, and I can’t stress the importance of this enough). And different search engines do yield different results, so don’t discount google chrome, Mozilla, Internet Explorer, or any other one which is not your default browser. 

 3. Amazon and Ebay are other great resources. One of my quilt group members found real vintage 1930’s fabric she was looking for on eBay. I am collecting 1930’s reproduction fabric for two projects, and just couldn’t afford the real thing. 

That said, I found enough for one of the quilts on Amazon, and another led me to an incredible brick and mortar story in Nebraska called Calico Annies. Annie had over 200 1930’s reproduction fabrics. I called her and told her what I was looking for, and what I wasn’t, (no black in the fabrics for this project), and she nailed it. She said I could return them if they weren’t what I needed, as long as I didn’t take the packaging of the jelly rolls apart. GREAT. Again, thank you Annie. 

 4. My local brick and mortar stores are very helpful too. They have often recommended online fabric stores such as fabric.com. I was looking through a recent copy of Quilty Magazine, and found Fabric Shack in Ohio, which sells online, and is a brick and mortar store. A quick call was all that was needed to find the last 13 yards of a Kona solid, Hyacinth. 

5. One more word about brick and mortar stores before I plug online stores. Throughout the years, I have come across some great shops in the U.S., such as Little Quilts in Marietta, GA. I found them via a google search for a hand quilting template pattern I couldn’t find anywhere, but at that shop. I was so impressed with their customer service and web site, that I subscribe to their newsletter which is full of great information and ideas. 

6. http://www.quiltshops.com and http://www.findmyfabric.com are two online fabric shops I haven’t mentioned that have served me well on my quests to find out of print fabrics. Others can be found by googling online fabric stores + out of print fabrics. 

7. A few of my quilting friends and I have had success through Esty shops.

8. http://www.hancocks-paducah.com/ is another great web site and brick, and mortar store. If you happen to be in Paducah, KY, you can also visit The National Quilt Museum. See http://www.quiltmuseum.org/ 

9. If you belong to a guild, send out an e-mail and attach a photograph of the out-of-print fabric. You never know who might have a suggestion. 

10. And we can’t forget the power of social media. If you belong to Flickr, Instagram, Facebook, Yahoo and google groups, by all means post what you are looking for. If you have a pinterest board, start a board, of Out of Print Fabrics that you are interested in locating. If you tweet or blog you can always upload a photo of the fabric. 

11. If you send Keepsake Quilting a sample of the oop fabric, they will search their sources too.
http://www.keepsakequilting.com/default.aspx

12. Sew Happins, in Wilmington, North Carolina will help search too.  Ask for John.  http://sewhappins.com/

Let me know if you discover a new resource. This blog does not promote something unless it is noteworthy.

Later this week, I have WIP to show, and am very excited about it. Have a great week.

Tutorial Fabric Pinning Tip

At times when pinning two pieces of fabric together, you may find a bubble.
Sometimes this happens because cutting wasn’t precise or one piece of fabric may have been to stretchy.  In any event, if you sew it while pinned in this way, you will get a bubble or a crease after you’ve pressed it. Not only is it a bit of an eye sore, but it can throw off the rest of your piecing the quilt top.
So, in the middle of the bubble put a pin.  If there are two more bubbles on each side, pin in the middle of those bubbles. Continue to do that until it is fairly smoothed out.
Here is a video demonstration.

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If you have any questions, please write in the comment box and I will answer it, or e-mail me at acbeier71@gmail.com.

Happy Quilting!!

Quilting with a Modern Slant – Book Review

I recently finished Quilting with a Modern Slant; people, patterns, and techniques inspiring the Modern Quilt Community, by Rachel May.

This title is a hybrid reference book; yet packed with inspiration for quilters of any level. It does include some patterns, tutorials, plenty of helpful techniques, and (again), tons of inspiration. The photographs alone are a delight to the eyes of quilters, sewers and those who appreciate all things quilting, sewing and embroidery.

The book is divided up into 7 sections; A Sense of Play, Improv, The Personal is Political, Quilting from Tradition, For the Love of Color, Practicing Scale(s), and Coming Full Circle. Each section highlights a wide variety of designers, from the household names, to those that may be new to quilters.

There are two to three pages that cover each designer and include beautiful photographs of their work. The text covers what inspires and influences them, what challenges them, and a touch of biographical information. At the bottom of some pages, are a glossary of terms that relate to the quilt photographed. The terms and definitions are cleverly presented, similarly to the crawl that comes across a TV screen.

Prior to these sections, there is a short introduction, which includes “Six Steps to a Quilt,” “What You’ll Need,” “Find Your People,” and “What is Modern Quilting?” which are the perfect launch to engage the reader into the rest of the book. I felt as if the author wrote out a general FAQ list with answers. Then took those answers and synthesized them crisply, into these first 8 pages, which are very impressive. I particularly like and appreciate the, “Find Your People” section. It helps lead a new quilter to find others to learn from, and to share their quilting journey.

This book is full of information and ideas. For example, I re-read a few sections and noticed I either learned something new from that section, or it provoked thoughts that hadn’t occurred to me on the first reading. For example, in “The Personal is Political,” section, it poses some compelling questions to the reader about how she or he is affected by influences in today’s world, as well as the past; cultures and personal values, that result in fabric choices, topper patterns, machine and hand quilting finishes. I realize I hadn’t thought about that quite so deeply when it comes to my own quilting and choices until that second reading.

                                                                                                  
Quilters develop their sense of play by challenging themselves, collaborating with others, experimenting with new techniques and fabrics. Even the most experienced of us may end up spending a frustrating five hours ripping out unwanted stitches. But each quilter’s journey throughout the years is heavily blended with that sense of play, and how it sparks our creativity level to rise. 
This premise plunges the reader into each section, which offers demonstrations about use of color, use of negative space in machine quilting, dying your own fabric, paper-piecing, etc. 

I found myself pouring over the photography and the tutorials. I loved the photo of the Red & White Quilts, that were displayed in 2011 at The American Folk Art Museum. It captured my attention, imagination and gave me the opportunity to dream about what I might be capable of.  Others photos did as well, but that one had a big impact on me. It also underscored the overall theme of the book, and the last chapter of, “Coming Full Circle.”
 

This book is nothing short of spectacular!!  Great job Rachel May and all those who contributed to this outstanding book.


Work in Progress – I Found Gold in My Stash

Besides blogging, I have been doing a lot of sewing. I have three WIP’s. Two of them are King size quilts, and one is a single size quilt. 

I am going to share just one today, because it ties in with a new challenge I just began, which is “going on a fabric diet.” 

And here’s the story; I began this quilt, called Pick and Mix, designed by Angela Davies. I am using 1930’s reproduction fabrics, and purchased a jelly roll. The pattern is for a 58″ x 85″ quilt. That comes out to 39 blocks, that are 8″ squares. It also has a 5″ border. That said, I need to make 72-80 blocks for it to be the size I want. I am also planning to incorporate a few of those blocks in the back. These are the some of the 30 I finished.



I was feeling a little repetitious with the same fabrics, and was considering purchasing one more jelly roll from a different manufacturer to provide me with more options. 

That’s when I looked at a lot of photos of quilts made with 1930’s reproduction fabrics. I put my credit card back into my wallet and scoured through my stash. 

What happened? I found at least 10 more fabrics that are perfect and stay in the style with the jelly roll and finished squares. 

Then what happened? 

There are fabrics I absolutely love and have been hanging onto for more than 10 years waiting for that “just right” project. That “just right” project is staring at me right now. 

So, here I go, and I’m really excited and happy about this outcome. I’ve been reading a lot of blogs lately, and cannot remember which blogger said she was going on a fabric diet. If I remember or come across it again, I will share and give her credit. At least for me, it is a fabulous idea, and well needed. 

Before this enlightening experience, I did order a custom bundle from Sew Me a Song, that Becca customed designed for me with lots of greys, and text prints. It will soon come to the door. (This reminds me of having that last piece of cake before you go on a real diet). Of course I will share when it arrives. 

So my official first day of the great fabric diet is 5/5/14. Let’s see how long I can last. Hopefully at least until fall market in Houston!!

Quilt Festival In Somers, New York

This weekend was the 35th Northern Star Quilters’ Guild Quilt show, in Somers, New York. Quilters from New York City, Westchester, Duchess, Putnam, Rockland counties, and mid to southern Connecticut participate. I met visitors from Long Island, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. I know this show draws visitors and vendors from all over the east coast.

Fortunately, I didn’t spend anything on stash, because I just purchased a beautiful, large bundle, which I am excited to share later this week. So I went in, paid my admission and for my friend Zahra, who came with me. 

We went downstairs to the main show, which had already been judged. I am happy for two friends from my bee, the Serendipity Quilting Bee. They won blue ribbons in their categories + one!!

Karen and Rene, who are incredible quilters, and outstanding at hand applique won ribbons. I am so happy for them. Their beautiful quilts will be pictured in this post.

This is Karen’s quilt. It is stunning and the photo doesn’t do it justice. She won the blue ribbon for the best hand quilting. And the pink ribbon for an honorable mention for a wall quilt, traditional design, hand or machine quilted by maker of this applique quilt.(That’s the +1 ribbon).




 Rene won a blue ribbon for the best hand applique quilt.

This is an up close of her amazing embroidery stitches.
















This quilt was an amazing modern quilt.

And a few more….


  
 

The quilt above had metal objects sewn into it.  The quilt below is a crazy quilt with beautiful and creative embellishments.


I’ve been working on a quilt with 1930’s reproduction fabrics. So of course, I really took a good look at them. And there were several. I don’t remember seeing any last year.

The detail on the corners and edges were impressive.

There were some great traditional quilts too.

This next one was full of beautiful messages.

Last but not least, Zahra and I fell in love with this cat quilt, that was at a vendor’s booth. I would love to get this pattern. So we are dedicating it to Zarah’s cats; Taz and Mack, and ours, Biscuit and Emma. It was the last thing we saw yesterday. We decided the cat was waving us a farewell and thanking us for attending the show.

Great Deals – List of Online and Brick and Mortar Stores with Great Sales – Part 2

About six months ago, I posted 28 fabric resources, which included brick & mortar stores and online fabric stores that offer great deals. Let’s be honest, we quilters all love fabric, and building stash can get pricey. I am a very careful spender, and I love a good bargain.

One method that helps me is, to subscribe to the newsletters of these fabric resources by e-mail. When they are having a sale, and some have daily and weekly specials, a newsletter telling you what’s on sale and when, comes right into my inbox.

Some online fabric stores offer point systems, or loyalty programs. After purchasing a certain amount from some of these resources, you can earn a credit of $10, (this is just an example). An important caveat; When purchasing fabric online find out what their return policy is. Sometimes the photo will look great on your computer, but not when you open the package at home, and audition it with other fabrics you may be planning to use for a project. 

Some offer a screen where the buyer can audition choices on it. Because many of the online shops sell in 1/4yard, 1/2 yard or 1 yard increments, they will take the fabric back as long as it hasn’t been removed from the packaging. The same goes with pre-cuts. If the online shop doesn’t state their return policy on their web site, contact them by e-mail and ask. 

I am always updating this list, and will post it every six months. If you have a recommendation, please leave it my comment box. This is Part 2 of the list. In no particular order, here we go….  

1. https://www.etsy.com/shop/sewmeasong – This is a wonderful etsy shop, specializing in Japanese and contemporary fabrics. They carry fabrics that are fun, have quirky text driven prints, and are strong on the basics. They keep prices low and have ongoing sales. The owner will put together custom orders, and she is very gifted at that.

2. http://www.thethriftyneedle.com – A huge selection of fabrics covering all genres. 
They offer ongoing sales at 20% – 50%, under the “Thrifty Deals” category. There are also great savings offered each week.   

3. http://www.fabric.com – Huge selection of fabrics including home dec., notions, crafts, etc. Sales happen a few times a week. Great customer service. I have returned fabric to them, and they are kind and courteous.

4. http://www.cutsofcotton.com – Great choice of basics, including bundles, prints and solid fabrics. Good prices and weekly sales. They are currently on a short maternity leave. Look forward to their return!!

5. http://www.southernfabric.com – Wide choice of fabrics, patterns and notions. Lots of good sales. They offer daily sales, and have a loyalty program which includes five options. They have continuing sales at 10%-50% off, and there are always great deals.

6. http://www.connectingthreads.com – Always a wide variety of fabrics at great prices. Besides offering low costs on fabrics and notions, they always have something on sale. Free shipping on purchases of $50 or more.

7. www.thequiltinggarden.com – A large variety of all types of fabrics and good sales. Check out the “Bargain Shed” for ongoing sales at price points between 20% – 50%, $4.50, and remnants. They offer a lay-a-way plan.

8. http://www.thequiltedcastle.com – Great variety of fabrics and designers. Prices are very reasonable. Regular sales and end of bolt sales.

9. http://www.shopcottonbliss.com – Good selection of fabrics and pre-cuts. They have a loyalty program based on the amount the customer spends. Points can be used for gift certificates and future purchases. This is an online shop that is just about a year old. I am very impressed by their high level of customer service and knowledge. Can’t wait to see more of them.

10. http://www.fabricworm.com – Recently this online store was recommended to me by someone in my quilting group who I think has fabulous taste. They have a great assortment of contemporary and modern fabrics. There is an ongoing sale at increments of 10%, 15%, 20%, 30%, 40%, 50%, 60%, and 75%. How consumer oriented is that?  AND, they offer 5% off on orders of $50 or more everyday. They have a brick & mortar store in Paso Robles, CA, called Birch Fabrics/Fabric Worm. Check out the FAQ’s. You can purchase three swatches for a minimal fee, before you make a commitment. *

11. http://www.sewhappins.com – In January I visited this brick & mortar store in Wilmington, NC, and interviewed one of the owners, Sarah Devens. http://www.hudsonvalleyquilts.com/2014/01/a-give-way-for-national-visit-your.htmlThe variety and selection is nothing short of spectacular. They have great sales and end of bolt sales. Fabulous customer service.

12. http://www.calicoanniesquiltshop.com – A brick & mortar store, and online fabric store in Fullerton, NE. The selection is strong, especially in 1930’s and 1940’s reproduction fabrics. The owner, who is so kind and customer service oriented, put together several custom jelly rolls of those reproduction fabrics for me. She used fabrics I’ve never seen before, and that are perfect for the project I had in mind. 

13. http://www.pinkcastlefabrics.com – This is a brick & mortar store and online fabric store. Huge selection of fabrics. They offer great ongoing sales and special sales, as well as great monthly fabric clubs. Don’t forget to check out the “Sale Fabric,” category. They also offer a retreat every season.

14. http://www.larkcottons.com – They have a lovely selection of fabrics and good sales. The ongoing sales are also good, and periodic sales are offered to purchasers by creating an account with them, and signing up for their newsletter. Check out their loyalty program, and the tab for $6.00 and under for some really good buys.

15. https://www.etsy.com/shop/freshmodernfabrics – Great selection of modern, contemporary and juvenile fabrics. Great prices and sales. The owner will put together custom orders.

SpecialSub-Category

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the following two fabric resources, because they are both so good at what they do. You may not find big bargains there, but you will find that they offer a custom online fabric service. This means that if you create your own fabric designs, they will print it for you for a fee that this blogger feels is fair value.
 
16. www.spoonflower.com – This custom online fabric and wallpaper shop is rather unique, and is fun. They offer some fabrics at various price increments, which are very contemporary and modern. Spoonflower will also create fabric, from your own designs, or create an out of print fabric, and respect copyright fees. The pricing depends on what you order, so read the web site and FAQ’s carefully. They offer a lot, and provide excellent customer service.

17. http://www.modernyardage.com – This online fabric store also offers to make fabric from your own designs. See “custom designs” tab. They carry a variety of fabrics produced by designers as well, but they are sold at regular market prices.

*Omition from Monday’s post. Fabric Shack offers swatches before buying too. They provide five for free.