November 25, 2014

Shop Small . . . Smile Big : )

With Thanksgiving just two days away and black friday around the corner it's that time of year when, like it or not, the retail world seems to take over our lives. Personally I've never been a black friday shopper  . . . just the opposite actually. I dislike the notion of stores opening earlier and earlier every year and choose not to participate. But even if I don't rush out at the crack of dawn (or the late dark hours nowadays), I still shop the big box stores to get some of my Christmas shopping done.

This year though I have some new ideas for holiday shopping thanks to my daughter. It all stems from a greater appreciation for all the small businesses and handmade artisans trying to survive in this cut throat retail environment. Wonderful little hometown shops right here in Louisville for one. My own daughter for another.

As many of you know, Emily has her own jewelry business, Emily Claire Studio,  and has been quite busy doing weekend markets. After spending countless hours preparing, transporting, setting up, selling and smiling these past two weekends, she had some advice for me. Smile. Just smile at the vendor and say hello. She loves shoppers who are willing to say hello and engage in a little conversation. It makes her day when someones buys her jewelry but even if they don't buy she really appreciates the kindness and the smiles.

Emily made up this little chalkboard sign for her blog post and I thought I'd share it. LOVE that girl!

This weekend, she and I will be shopping local and supporting Small Business Saturday. We'll also be hitting a few other handmade markets with hopes of supporting fellow artisans. And we will smile and say hello.

Regardless of when and where you shop, I encourage you to be kind and smile too. It will definitely make you feel better and just might make someone else's day.

If you're traveling, be safe. Enjoy family and friends. Be thankful. Eat too much. Laugh even more.
And SMILE . . .  : )

Happy Happy Thanksgiving!

November 9, 2014

Free Chihuly Exhibition and Jewelry Sale

If you live in Denver or along the Front Range, time is running out to see the Chihuly exhibit at the Denver Botanical Gardens. It all comes to an end Nov 30th. I went earlier in the summer and it's AMAZING!  You can see photos and read more about my visit here and get information on hours here. This coming Friday and Saturday November 14-15th admission is FREE!!!

Plus it's also the annual Botanical Gardens Holiday Gift Show featuring 50 vendors selling handmade items such as bath and body products, specialty foods, clothing and jewelry. You can't beat that deal. A fantastic free art exhibit and holiday shopping all at the same time.

But wait, . . . there's more! I'm happy to say my daughter will be there selling her lovely Emily Claire Studio jewelry. She has some beautiful new pieces along with her signature circle necklaces. All jewelry is designed and handmade by her from silver and semiprecious gemstones. Here's a little peek at what you can expect to find. She's happy to do custom orders too. How about a special phrase for that special someone?

If you can't make this weekend, she'll also be at these shows:

Sugar Plum Bazaar  
Nov 22 10:00 - 7:00 and Nov 23 10:00 - 4:00  
McNichols Building 144 W. Colfax, Denver, CO

Firefly Handmade Market 
Dec 6th 10:00 - 5:00 and Dec 7th 11:00 - 4:00  
Exdo Event Center in RiNo Denver Arts District

Make plans now for both. Chihuly's art is a must see and so is Emily's jewelry if I do say so myself  : )

November 8, 2014

Thank You!

The results for the Craftsy Pattern Designer awards are in . . . Cascade was the official runner-up. Thank you so much to all of you who took the time to vote.  I really appreciate it.    : )

Here are a few other quilts made from the Cascade pattern. Same pattern . . .  very different looks.

For those of you who are die-hard Kaffe fans, I have another Kaffe based pattern in the works that should be out early next year so stay tuned. It just might include some of these beauties.

Thanks again for your support. Congratulations to all the winners! See them here.

November 1, 2014

Cascade is a Finalist!

My pattern, Cascade, is a finalist in the Craftsy Pattern Design Awards. Thanks to all of you who voted. Please please vote again!!  I really appreciate all your support and affirmation. And when you vote, you're entered to win a free Craftsy class of your choice. They have many wonderful classes to choose from. Voting ends at midnight MT this Thursday November 5th. Thanks ever so much.   : )

To vote just follow this link:

Craftsy Pattern Design Awards - Vote For Me

Final Four-in-Art Mini; Lights

It's time for the reveal of our final Four-in-Art mini quilt for this year. The yearly theme was Urban and the topic for the last quilt was Light. Our previous topics have been; Maps, Structures, Landmarks, and Contrast. See the end of this post for a recap of all my Four-in-Art quilts.

Light seemed like a nice way to finish off the year because 'I saw the light' several times throughout my year long journey with the group. More on that later. I knew right away what I wanted to depict for light. I grew up in northern Indiana where the landscape is flat and the view restricted. There are very few high vantage points from which to see off into the distance. Gray skies and a relatively short, close-in perspective of the horizon make it feel is if you are living under a dome.

When I traveled west for the first time, I was quite struck by the sweeping views, the expansive skies and especially the dark silhouettes of the mountains with the lights of the city in the foreground. There are so many high vantage points where you can see for miles and miles . . . no gray domes here. This view of dark mountains silhouetted against the twilight sky with twinkling city lights stretching out for miles has become one of my favorite images of living in the west. So this is what my mini depicts.

I decided to approach this mini a little differently than I have the others. I have long admired the artists who manage to create small works of art in a short amount of time with materials on hand as a form of daily creative excercise. This improvisational, quick approach is so not me, but that's what I tried here. No pre-plan (very hard for me). No computer designing at all (also very hard for me). No drawing anything out . . . well almost no drawing. Just an kernel of an idea.

I raided my stash and found this bit of batik from who knows when and why. Perfect to depict city lights. A few solid blues and some fusible and I was ready to begin.

As usual, I didn't remember to take process photos as I went along but it went something like this. I fused a foreground and sky fabric to my base of fusible fleece. Added a couple of mountain shapes using Wonder Under. Added a few more foreground foothills and then the batik fabric to depict the city lights. No fussing about the shapes. No elaborate templates. Just simple cutting and fusing. I like it!

The final step to complete the top was to enhance the lights. For this I raided my scrapbooking supplies for blue markers and a little fabric paint. A touch of marker here and there to dim down the "lights" and a touch of fabric paint here and there to create brighter clusters of lights and my mini was done. Well almost done.

The quilting was simple and fast. A few wandering lines to create layers to the landscape. A few cloud outlines to evoke a bit of sky and I called it done. For finishing I thought of doing a facing so the edges would just disappear but in the end went with a simple binding. I did use two colors of blue to match the sky and the ground.

And there you have it. Not nearly as fast as the daily exercises of some artists, but faster than my usual by far. Yea!!! Writing this post is taking nearly as long. I'm pleased with the results and happy to reveal my final Four-in-Art mini . . . "Twilight in Colorado"

What would I do differently? Well, overall not much. I used three shades of blue and would have liked a slightly darker blue for the mountains to give them an even deeper, more foreboding and looming impression. That's how the mountains feel to me when they are silhouetted against the evening sky. Dark and mysterious. I might have cut a few more organic lines instead of the straight edges I used. The biggest thing might be to have used a different format. I think a long horizontal would have really enhanced the whole concept of the vast expansive views I so like. Overall the whole idea feel into place much as I had imagined and I'm quite pleased with my final quilt.

Here's a recap of all the previous minis I've made during this little quilting adventure.

#1  Maps, my hometown in Indiana.

#2  Structures, highway overpasses.

#3  Landmarks, the Flatirons of Boulder, CO

#4  Contrast, city vs nature.

In closing, I'd like to say I joined this small group as a means of jump starting my desire to explore making art quilts. It was appealing to think of finally making art quilts after only dreaming of making them and the small size made it all seem quite doable. It turned out to be both a very good challenge and doable too. However, I learned over the course of the year that making art quilts isn't really my passion. At least not at this time and perhaps not with specific themes attached. In the future I might return to exploring smaller art quilts but I think they will be on a more abstract, less thematic, basis. I enjoyed the year and am much better off for the experience. But I also came to realize my real passion is designing quilts and developing them into patterns, so I have decided not to continue with Four-in-Art next year. It was a hard decision because I value the friendships and connections that were made. I will look forward to following along throughout next year to keep up with what everyone does. Thank you Four-in-Art members for all the wonderful inspiration you and your minis have given me. Keep up the great work.

Thanks for following along on my journey into the world of art quilts. All the more power to those of you who truly excel in this area of quilting. Please take a look at how the topic of Light was interpreted by all the other talented Four-in-Art quilters.

Amanda at
Betty on her Flickr site:
Elizabeth at

October 29, 2014

QuiltCon Charity Quilt Challenge

Can you guess what this pile of scraps is for? Yep. The QuiltCon 2015 Charity Quilt Challenge.

I designed the quilt our Boulder Modern Quilt Guild is making and must admit when I first saw the colors I was both sceptical and a little uninspired. Working with this palette was a challenge . . .  a good challenge, but still a challenge. I guess that's why it's called a challenge project right?  However once a few ideas started coming together, the colors also fell into place. Turns out most of the guild felt the same about the colors. Many said they weren't ones they would have put together and yet everyone ended up liking how they were working in our quilt. My least favorite . . . the burnt orange.

In contrast to the color challenge, I found designing with an alternative grid to be lots of fun. While many of my quilt designs are block based, I still look for creative ways to use the blocks and love exploring all the possibilities. Playing with blocks and alternative grid ideas while designing this quilt was no exception. I think the design works quite well and creates a lot of movement, especially with the addition of the partial blocks.

The next challenging part came with the construction. It's a paper pieced design which I always find a challenge. Really, what was I thinking? Definitely not my favorite type of sewing. No matter how hard I try, I always make a few mistakes. The fabric doesn't cover the entire area. I forget to trim the seam allowance before adding the next piece. I sew on the wrong line. You get the picture. And ripping out those teeny, tiny, itty, bitty stitches is a b___!  Everyone, including me, struggled at times. Let's just say seam rippers were in high demand.   : (

But thanks to the help of our fantastic members, we not only persevered, we conquered!   : )   This past weekend we whipped out ALL the blocks. Let me say that again . . . ALL 36 paper pieced blocks. DONE. Way to sew ladies! I was very impressed that everyone hung in there. No one even came after me with a rotary cutter for designing a paper pieced quilt. Thank You! Thank You! Thank You!

Here's how it looked by the end of the day. I'm loving how the blocks and colors are working.

We'll be assembling the top at the next sew day in November and that should be a breeze after all the paper piecing. Yea! Then it's basting, quilting and binding. I think we'll be in good shape to have it all done in time to meet the challenge deadline.

Stay tuned here at SpringLeaf Studios and on our Boulder Modern Quilt Guild blog as I post about our ongoing progress.

I'm also curious . . . are you part of the QuiltCon 2015 Charity Quilt Challenge? If so, what has been the most challenging part for you and your guild?

Linking up with WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced. This is a big WIP for our guild. 
I'm also linking up with Sew Solid Sunday at Esch House Quilts. I don't always have a solid quilt to link up, but this one fits the bill. Check out the links to see what others are doing with all solids.

October 27, 2014

A Little Fall

Just thought I'd share a couple of weekend fall photos. Old quilts  . . .  new photos. I really like the outdoor pictures of quilts that are popular in the quilting world these days and have been trying to take more of this style when I can. I know this type of photo usually has nothing to do with the quilt's function and maybe doesn't even make sense to some of you. But they are so much fun to compose and style I can't resist. It's also a great way play up the quilt's theme or even the name.

Enjoying all the fall colors recently, it occurred to me I better get out and try for a couple of good photos before the color and leaves are all gone. And since I don't have any new, more modern quilts that fit the fall color scheme I took out these two older quilts.

During the photo below, my husband literally fell into the job of quilt holder upper in more ways than he bargained for. I told him to move a little closer to some leaves and he slid right down the hill . . . holding the quilt up all the while I might add. Isn't he sweet? Thankfully he wasn't hurt and neither was the quilt.

This shot was taken right in our front yard. We don't always have many nicely colored leaves but this year there's a nice thick layer. I love shuffling through crunchy leaves.    : )

Can you tell I like sunflowers? Besides these quilts I even decorate with sunflower and yellow dishes for the fall season. Mostly flea market and thrift store finds. Love going on the hunt for treasures.

If it's fall where you live, get out and enjoy before the leaves have fallen. We've often had a snow fall by now here in Colorado but this year has been a beautifully sunny, long fall. Hope it will last till Halloween.