October 7, 2015

Charity Time

My recent sewing has been primarily quilt bee blocks and charity work.
The September block for the Mid Century Modern Bee was this fantastic paper pieced block. It was made for Mary of Mary on Lake Pulaski. The block is called Starry Sky by SewKylie. and looks fantastic when several blocks come together. Note: I get an error when I try the original link to the block, but the link here will take you to the blog. Not sure what's up with that but it's a great block.

October is my month to be the queen bee for the MCM Bee. Whenever it's my turn I have the hardest time settling on what to have the others make. So many good ideas. So many quilts on my to-do list. In the past I've had them test blocks for my patterns, but this time I'm having the group make striped fabric from these colors.

I've been wanting to work with stripes for a long time and have quite a stash of stripe fabrics so this will give me something to play with. Not sure exactly what the end result will be but that's part of the fun.

My other WIP's have to do with charity work for the Boulder Modern Quilt Guild. Each year we adopt a different charity to support and this year our quilts will be going to a local assisted living facility.

While these quilts don't reflect my typical bright colorful style, I think they are well suited for the charity. Some of the fabrics were generously donated to the guild so I was able to not only piece the tops but also make pieced backs.

The first quilt uses a disappearing 9-patch, a block I've wanted to try for a long time. I think I will work with color placement more next time instead of the random placement used here. Have you ever made a disappearing 9-patch? There are several ways to lay out the blocks that result in entirely different looking quilts. It's a pretty fun design to play with so I'm looking forward to trying it again. I also like the big chunks of fabric for the backing. The back is actually giving me some ideas for a new quilt with large scale prints.

The other charity quilt is this plus block. I shared the top here when it was first made. I finally got around to piecing the back from some of the leftovers fabrics. Do you piece your backs or use a single fabric? I like the look of pieced backs but they do take time to sew together even when you use big chunks. No plan here . . . just piecing until the size was big enough. Not sure I like this one but it's done and I used up quite a bit of my older stash which is a good thing.

Well, that's about it for now. Next on my to-do list is to get the border figured out on my Drunkard's Path QAL quilt. Sorry to any of you who might be waiting for that post. I slipped behind a bit but promise it's coming.

Linking up with WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced.
Hop over and see what others are whipping up this week.


October 4, 2015

Flower Pin Cushion Tutorial

The Pin Cushion Party for Good Neighbors is over but the fun doesn't have to be. You can see all the wonderful pin cushions made for the party here. Plus I'm back with a tutorial on how to make this sweet little pin cushion. Enjoy.

Amanda Jean's Good Neighbors charm pack has so many great fabric combinations it's hard to decide which three to use. Different prints in one color. Same print in different colors. Here's a few of the possibilities I pulled together.

This is the group I settled on . . . 

What you'll need:

  • 3 charm squares or 3  -  5" x 5" squares of fabric.                                                                           Two for the top and bottom of the cushion plus one for the yoyo.
  • 2  -  5" x 5" pieces of light to medium weight fusible interfacing
  • 1 decorative button
  • 3 small pony tail holders to create cushion divisions. Or you can use embroidery floss.
  • Fiber fill or ground walnut shells for stuffing. See my notes below for more information on how different fillers behave.
  • small funnel if you plan to use walnut shells.
  • circle template approximately 4 1/2" in diameter. Use anything around the house that is about 1/2" smaller than the square. I used a plastic lid from a grocery store container.


Making the pin cushion base:
  • Fuse the interfacing to the wrong side of the charm squares for the top and bottom of the cushion.
  • Trace a circle onto the fused side of one square. 
  • Pin the top and bottom squares together right sides facing. 
  • Sew along the pencil circle line leaving about an inch opening to add the filling. Backstitch at the beginning and end.

  • Cut out the circle by trimming about 1/8" from the stitching line. Use pinking shears if available.

  • Turn inside out and work out into a smoothly curved circle. 
  • Press. Also press the seam allowance of the opening under to create a crease.
  • Fill the pin cushion with the stuffing of your choice. If you use walnut shells, a small funnel will make this step easier. If you don't have a funnel, create your own from a piece of paper or snip a small hole in the corner of a baggie. 
  • Sew the opening closed using a tiny slip stitch.

  • Use small pony tail holders to stretch around the pin cushion dividing it into six sections. Poke and smush the filling until the cushion is evenly divided and the petal shapes are smooth and similar sized. If you prefer you can use embroidery floss for this step.

Making the yoyo:
  • Using the same circle template you used for the cushion base, trace a circle onto the yoyo charm square and cut out.
  • Turn under 1/4" all around the edge and press .
  • Hand sew a long basting stitch around the edge leaving long thread tails at both ends.
  • Pull the thread tails and ease the circle into a yoyo. Tie off.

  • Sew the yoyo in place on top of the cushion and finish off with a decorative button. Originally I made a blue yoyo but decided once it was done that I wanted more color.

So I simply made another yoyo in red. I think the red adds a bit more punch.

If you used floss, you may wish to finish the bottom of your cushion to hide the sewing. Simply glue or hand sew a felt circle to the bottom.

You've just made a sweet little pin cushion and it didn't take long at all did it? They are perfect to give as gifts to your sewing friends and just plain fun to collect and have around. Consider yourself warned because they can be rather addictive. Just saying.

Filling Experiment and Notes:
When I made the pin cushions for the blog hop, I experimented with three different fillings. 
Fiber fill, steel wool, and crushed walnut shells. Each one filled differently, resulting in varying feels and looks to each pin cushion.

Fiber fill was easy to stuff and resulted in a very light weight pin cushion. This can be a good thing if you are mailing it but not so good if you need it to stay put on your table. I could easily see the fiber filled one being carted off by my kitties. The yellow one has fiber fill and is nice and puffy.

Steel wool is supposed to help sharpen the pins but is hard to fill, creates a mess and did not fill out the cushion very well resulting in a flat pin cushion. I would not recommend it. The red one has steel wool.

Crushed walnut shells are easy to fill if you have a small funnel. The walnut shells fill out the cushion nicely but it can be a little harder to sew the opening closed without loosing a bit.  HINT: fill over another container to catch any spills. The aqua one is filled with walnut shells and is the plumpest and has the nicest weight. Crushed walnut shells are available from your local pet supply store in the lizard supplies. Downside; you only need a little and the shells are sold in rather large quantities. Good time to share the expense with a quilty friend. Or plan on making lots of pin cushions.

I have also heard of using seeds, sand, and bird grit which is available from a pet supply store. I would be cautious about using any filling that might attract bugs or other critters.

Hope you found this little tutorial helpful. Now go make a pin cushion or two or three . . .  : )


September 30, 2015

Hello Yellow

Come take a slow, meandering journey with me as I say hello to Yellow . . .

When I think of the color yellow, these words come to mind . . . happiness, optimism, creativity, energy, sunshine, warmth. And names like amber, goldenrod, marigold, lemon, butter, corn, honey, mustard, straw, canary, saffron, citrine, yellow ochre.

Yellow says spring, summer and fall to me.
In the spring and summer, there are so many pretty yellow flowers. Daffodils, tulips, crocus, daisies, marigolds, asters, and of course the perennial favorite . . .  dandelions. I have lots of those. haha.

Besides the unwanted dandelions, I don't actually have yellow flowers in my own garden so I went looking elsewhere for these photos.  Here are just a few. Lemon yellow to yellow-orange flowers . . .

Spring is also the time of Easter eggs and egg yolks . . . have you ever seen a double yolk?

As I began my color search, I didn't think I had much yellow in my house. But the more I looked, the more I found. Lemon dishes make an appearance during the summer months.

And there's this sweet yellow porcelain rose and china teacup that belonged to my mother.

In the fall, yellow makes a stronger statement in my house as I bring out sunflower dishes and quilts . .

I have always heard quilters say a little yellow goes a long way and it's true in terms of yellow's ability to grab your attention. You really don't need a lot. But I happen to like the idea of yellow quilts. I have a mostly yellow Kaffe quilt that I use in the spring-summer months.

I have pulled these yellows to make a baby quilt based on this idea.

And then there's this lemony group for a new design. I didn't get to this summer. Maybe next.

Yellow is considered to be the single color that gets our attention the quickest. In other words, people notice yellow first, especially in their peripheral vision. That's why yellow is the universal color of caution. Road signs. Hazard lights. School buses. Taxis. We are supposed to notice these things.

How about this funny hazard sign we saw over the weekend. Look closely and you'll see a large rock smack in the middle of the road. Wouldn't want to run into that.

My strongest association with Yellow is most definitely fall.
Here in Colorado, our falls are marked by rivers and islands of yellow aspens tucked amid the green pine of mountain hillsides. Plus there are yellow willows and cottonwoods clustered along the streambeds. In the high country, fall color has already arrived so we went leaf peeping the other day.
Here's what we saw . . .

I love the bright yellow glow as sunlight filters through the leaves . . .

The silhouette of dark branches against the yellows that range from golden to chartreuse . . .

I found yellow in unexpected places like this bright lemon yellow building that looks like an old schoolhouse. It almost seemed fluorescent amidst the fall yellow landscape.

Even the rocks in the stream had a golden hue. Hmmm . . . maybe there's still a little real gold to be found in them there hills.

What child doesn't color the sun yellow? Bright yellow sunshine and soft yellow moonlight.
Even the clouds can have a pretty yellow glow . . .

Of course yellow also has it's negative connotations. Things like cowardice, sickness, even madness. But I much prefer the positive, happy side of yellow don't you?

Since this post has more than covered my daughter's challenge to include a leaf photo for every color in my sereies, I'll leave you instead with this final image. Both my daughter and husband's use of yellow in their art. Emily's huge painting of our old kitty and Justin's "Say Cheese" sculpture which is currently in Napa CA.

When I started this color series, my intention was to really look for the color in my own personal world. To see the color around me in my house, my environment and my experiences. For that reason I've chosen to use my own photos rather than rely on the abundance of beautiful photos and color schemes available through sites like Pinterest and Design Seeds. These sites are wonderful places for inspiration on color but I want my series to be personal . . . representative of the color I see around me. You can see all my other color stories under the Color Inspiration tab at the top of my blog. If you'd like to see additional beautiful color images, you can follow my Pinterest color boards here. Just look for the specific color boards or my color scheme board.

I challenge you to look around your home, your neighborhood, your work and really see the colors in your world. Go look for some Yellow in your life. Thanks for reading.


September 27, 2015

Good Neighbors Charm Pack Winner

Congratulations to the winner of the Good Neighbors charm pack sponsored by Connecting Threads.

Buffy Skolnick had the winning number 93. She said . . .

"I have only made 1 pin cushion ever but I love it and have been using it for about a year. These posts have inspired me to make another with a little more skill that I have gained since the last one."

Buffy, I hope this little charm pack will inspire you to make a new pin cushion or two or three or . . .
I've sent you an email so please respond to that and I'll get your information forwarded to Connecting Threads.

Thanks to all who left comments. It seems many of you have already made a pin cushion but an equal number have yet to try making one. Good Neighbors is a great fabric line to get started with your first one or your 50th.

September 25, 2015

Finish Things Up

Today is most certainly a finish it up day for me.

My little quilt for the Kaffe Mini Swap is due to be shipped next week and I'm happy to say it's finished. Wahoo!!!  It will be in the mail the first part of next week along with a few little extras. Be on the look out partner. Believe it or not but this is my first swap. I can't wait to see what I get.

The block is based on my Drunkard's Path QAL concept. I just love how it looks in an alternative colorway. It's making me think a full sized quilt with different prints and background colors would be really fun. Hmmm . . . a new use for Kaffe and Amy Butler prints perhaps?

My other finish was this table runner made as a wedding present.
The front is low volume creams and gray strips. The couple's gift registry is mostly neutrals. White dishes. Silver serving pieces. A touch of wood. I thought the low volume would be a nice neutral to go with all their tableware.

After piecing the strips, I trimmed a narrow section off one side and then inserted it into the middle offsetting the strips a little to add movement. It finishes at about 14 inches. Not knowing the size of their table I went with a 72" length. Hopefully it will work well.

I wanted to embroider their names and wedding date on it but realized after the fact that this is better done in the early stages. That takes planning ahead which I didn't do. Instead I simply wrote their names and date on the end of the runner. It's understated which is what I wanted so it's more like a subtle personal message.

I opted for a double sided runner and used fall fabrics for the back to represent their fall wedding.

So these are my Friday finishes. Linking up with Finish it Up Friday at CrazyMomQuilts.

Just a reminder it's not too late to comment on on my Pin Cushion Party post for a chance to win a charm pack of Amanda Jean's fun new fabric line Good Neighbors.
I'll choose a winner Sunday the 27th.


September 19, 2015

Welcome to the Pin Cushion Party!

Welcome to the Good Neighbors Pin Cushion Party.

Good Neighbors is a new fabric line designed by Amanda Jean of Crazy Mom Quilts and sold exclusively by Connecting Threads.

I don't remember how I first came across Amanda Jean's blog, but I do know Crazy Mom Quilts was one of the earliest blogs I read. Perhaps it was the name that first got my attention but what really drew me in was Amanda Jean's colorful, happy quilting style along with her friendly blogging voice. She loves using scraps, making some of the best scrappy quilts I've seen. She also loves making pin cushions. Lots and lots and lots of pin cushions. So a pin cushion party is the perfect way to introduce Amanda Jean's first fabric line. I'm delighted to take part and think you're going to love the fabrics. They are so colorful and happy . . .

There are 36 prints in the collection ranging from gray, navy, bright blue, and green on the cool side to pink, red, orange, and a bit of yellow on the warm side. Every print has a touch of white. The line is nicely balanced between brights and low volume giving you room to play with value.

With so much to choose from, I had the hardest time deciding what type of pin cushion to make. Perhaps a bowl full of sweet little pin cushion rings like these. Perhaps a larger arm rest type cushion with lots of pockets. This was actually very high on my list because it's something I could really use. But in the end I chose something that would work really well with a charm pack because you, dear reader, just might win a charm pack if you read to the end.   : )

I didn't realize until I started writing this post that my pin cushion is essentially the same as the one used in the Good Neighbor graphic at the top of the post. Call it a subconscious good connection to all these pretty fabrics.  

My little pin cushion uses three charm squares and there were simply so many wonderful color/print combinations that in the end I ended up making three. 

Let's face it . . . there are just sooo many fun possibilities with Good Neighbors. I have pulled these additional charm combos and just might be making a few more. They are rather addictive.  : )  

I do hope you'll check out Amanda Jean's Good Neighbors line at Connecting Threads. Below is my favorite print of the bunch called X's. I really love this one and will definitely be ordering more. My only wish is that there were even more colors like green and navy and red and . . . hint hint Connecting Threads . . . how about more colors? Pretty pretty please.

See the whole line here at Connecting Threads. Not only can you purchase in yardage, but they also offer precuts in charm squares, 10" stacks, 2 1/2" strip sets and fat quarters. They even have a 108" wide backing of one of the prints. And there are several great patterns and kits as well.

For a chance to win a charm pack of Good Neighbors just leave me a comment telling if you've ever made a pin cushion or if you even use them. I'll pick a winner on Saturday September 26th. (Sorry but the giveaway is only open to US and Canada at this time.)

With one charm pack you could make a dozen pin cushions like mine. Keep them. Gift them. Use them as bright colorful eye candy in your sewing room. Fill up a bowl like Amanda Jean does.

Here are links to the rest of the party posts. It's quite fun to see what type of pin cushions everyone has made. Plus each blog is giving away a charm pack of Good Neighbors so you have even more chances to win if you attend the party. Hop on over and have a look. Then go make a pin cushion.

Amanda Jean
Melissa Corry

Thanks for reading. The giveaway is now closed.