December 31, 2014

Thank You

Last post of 2014 and I'd like to simply say THANK YOU!

THANK YOU for following along on my quilting journey.

THANK YOU for taking the time to read and comment. In these days of instant everything I really appreciate the time taken to read and especially comment on my posts. I love hearing from you.

THANK YOU for all the great things you post on your own blogs. I love feeling connected to the greater quilting community at large. I'm inspired by all you do and I've enjoyed seeing the recaps and finishes that many of you post. It's motivating to see what you've accomplished.  I'm also really excited to meet many of you in person at QuiltCon. Anyone counting the weeks yet?  Seven weeks from today I leave for Austin. Are you going too?

With the NewYear just a day away, I've been thinking a lot about my own personal plans and goals. Plans for this blog and my quilting journey. Perhaps a quilt along. Perhaps some tutorials. Definitely definitely more quilting.

I have yet to review my own finishes for 2014 but I'm sure there will be some mix of satisfaction and a tinge of disappointment. I accomplished some of what I set out to do and in other areas fell flat. That's life and I have no regrets . . .  only future plans and dreams.

One overriding theme for 2015 will be GRATITUDE. Gratitude for my family and this wonderful life and all it holds in the coming years. Gratitude for all the quilty friends I've made these past couple of years through blogland and through our new guild. And gratitude for all the beautiful fabric I have to play with.

I'm looking forward to sharing more of my quilting journey with you.
Have a very HAPPY NEW YEAR. May all your dreams and plans come true . . .   : )

PS.  Kitty bed update . . . both kitties are sometimes using their new beds. We've progressed from Leo using and Opal resisting to both using but with the old towel nearby. I guess it's a little like weaning a toddler off a security blanket.


December 23, 2014

Merry Merry Happy Happy

Wishing You All 

a Very Merry Merry Christmas

and a Happy Happy New Year

I wish you all a joyful, peace filled holiday. 

Time spent with family and friends to truly enjoy each other's presence.

Laugh together, play together, love each other.

God Bless.

December 19, 2014

Christmas Projects / Kitty Beds

Well, the kitty beds are finished and they came out pretty well.

I used this tutorial with my own modifications. Rather than felt like the tutorial called for, I repurposed an old fleece blanket that the kitties often slept on in my studio along with some leftover home decor fabric from years ago. For stuffing I used scraps of fleece and batting instead of fiberfill. I want them to be completely washable.

With the multiple layers of fleece and decor weight I had to wrestle the curves quite a bit to sew the sides to the bottom. Using those nifty little red wonder clips would have been easier than pins but I only have 9 of them. Wish I had a big box of 50. Hmmm . . . hint hint family. Christmas gift alert.

Since I was using fleece and home decor fabric I thought the sides would be firmer than they turned out. I wish they had a little more body so they would stand up a bit. They are quite floppy but the sides do roll down nicely . . . just not as stiff as I thought they'd be. Ha . . . what am I saying, they aren't stiff at all. Oh well. If I ever make them again I'll add some interfacing for more shape.

Now if only the kitties liked them . . . . so far they prefer the cardboard boxes.

This may very well be the only real Christmas project I get done. There were a few other maybes on the list but I don't see them happening now. Did you get all your holiday projects done or did you have abandoned ideas too? I always think I'll do so much more than is realistic.

I'm linking up with Finish it up Friday over at Crazy Mom Quilts.

December 17, 2014

Christmas and Kaffe

I recently indulged myself with some new Kaffe fabrics when Canton Village Quilt Works had their Kaffe sale for cyber Monday. Secretly I'm telling myself that maybe . . . just maybe I'll go on a fabric fast for 2015 so whatever I buy in 2014 doesn't count and I can stock up. Right?  It's not as if I need any more fabric but I sure do love getting squishy packages in the mail.  : )

If you know Kaffe's fabrics then you know there are lots of reds and blues and I've seen many great quilts using both together. But I was taken by the idea of using reds and greens.  Must be the influence of Christmas.

There's this red/green quilt in Kaffe's book Glorious Patchwork which I have always liked but the green tones were a little dark for my taste. I'm more of a bright to yellow green kind of person.

I've actually never thought of using red and green Kaffe fabrics together myself. I usually work in a more analogous color scheme with his fabrics for some reason. And when it comes to Christmas, my quilts are all quite traditional in color and style as you can see below. I like it that way for the most part, although I would really like to do a modern take on this still-life theme someday.

Call it crazy but I'm just so inspired by the idea of a Kaffe Christmas quilt right now. Of course there's no chance in ___ it will be done for this Christmas.  I do have a design, I have these great fabrics and I'm motivated to at least start. Maybe next year at this time I'll have a finish to share. I said maybe so don't hold your breath. In the mean time I may be adding to this lively fabric combo as time goes on. Oops . . . see I already forgot about the fabric fast. A true sign of an addict. : )  I'm starting some blocks today so this is my WIP of the week. My biggest WIP should really be wrapping presents but playing with fabric seems like soooo much more fun.

How about you . . . do you go traditional or modern for the holidays? What are your favorite colors for the season?

Linking up with WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced.

December 10, 2014

Small Things, Large Things, Other Things

Do you like to sew small items? Or what about large items? Things other than quilts? Do you make clothes for yourself or your children? How about bags, pincushions, pillows, aprons . . . etc?  Do tell, as I'd love to know what else you like to make besides quilts.

Long before I started quilting, I made clothes. Some were for myself, most were for my daughter, plus a thing or two for my son. Then I made lots of things for the house; curtains, table skirts, bed skirts, and of course numerous pillows. The last few years however, I've find it hard to motivate for anything other than quilts. I've made a few pillows and a bag or two but that's it really. This month though, I've devoted time to stitching up some of those "other" things.

I made my very first pin cushion this week. Can't believe I've never made one before but then again I don't use them so why make them. They are terribly cute though and I do like small, cute things so perhaps I'll make more. I think it would be fun to have a collection of lovely little pretties in my studio.  This one was for our Boulder Modern Quilt Guild Christmas party swap. I started with this tutorial and then switched things up a bit. Instead of three layers of felt I only used one for the top. I stitched up two separate four-patches . . . one for the back and one for the petals. Pretty happy with the end results. I wish it were fuller but I used all the walnut shell stuff I had which I got from a friend.

Once it was done I realized two of the four fabrics were the same ones I used last year to make a mug rug for the same guild party. Hmmm . . . what might that mean?

I'm also working on the mechanics of a super-sized tote bag/portfolio for my daughter. She needs something pretty to carry her sign and a few other larger, flat items to her handmade jewelry shows. The cardboard case she taped together is far from pretty and doesn't really function that well either.
Here's the fabrics for the new one and the sad current case below.

Obviously anything will be better looking than all that cardboard and duck tape. I enjoy the challenge of figuring out how to make something. In this case it needs to be a custom portfolio so I'm thinking through all the possibilities. No doubt over thinking is a more apt description but hopefully in the end it will function as needed. With all the little details to figure out, I certainly appreciate even more all those designers writing patterns and tutorials that do all the figuring for us.

I'd also like to make a couple of kitty beds for the two furries. I've heard of using leftover batting and even fabric scraps to stuff a bag so the whole thing can be thrown in the washer. I think I'll use this tutorial and leftover fleece. Right now the furries sleep in an old basket and a box with a towel folded inside. Pretty lame. They're in the works so maybe by Christmas the kitties will have real beds.

Linking up with WIP Wednesday.

December 3, 2014

Bee Benefits and Blocks

Do you belong to a quilting bee? If not, I encourage you to join one or think about starting your own.

This year I participated in two bees. The Mid Century Modern Bee is an online group of mostly US quilters with an Aussie and a Canadian thrown in for good measure. I love the international connection and getting to know another point of view on quilting. We work primarily from our stash which is nice as there are no fabrics to prepare and send out. Next year will mark our third year together.  We've had a few changes over time as people choose to move on.  Next year I will miss Debbie and Linda who are both very talented quilters. Can't wait to meet them in person at QuiltCon. I'd like to welcome our new members, Stephanie, Elizabeth and Michelle. Look forward to getting to know you.

Here are my most recent MCM blocks. The first is a pineapple block for Elizabeth for November. Even though we usually work from our own stash, Elizabeth actually sent the fabric strips all cut and ready along with the paper piecing pattern. She really made it easy for us and yet I still managed to mess up a bit. A little of the ink from the paper pattern transferred to the front of the block. Hopefully it will work for her but I will gladly make another if necessary. Really, I will.

The second MCM block is for Rene'. She requested a Dresden block based on the colors of this Design Seed color palette. Love these colors.

I've never made either of these blocks so it was a great opportunity to learn something new. Of the two, I don't think I'd make another pineapple as paper piecing isn't my favorite but I really enjoyed the Dresden block and could easily see making more of them. Having the Dresden ruler by Darlene Zimmerman made cutting the wedges easy peasy.

My second bee is with my local Boulder Modern Quilt Guild. For this bee we provide the fabric and directions so you pretty much know what you're going to get back. I joined this one a little on the late side so my turn fell at the end and my Scrappy Trip Blocks are still coming in. Here's what I have so far thrown up on the design wall. I'll probably play with the layout after I get all the blocks. I'm loving how they look together and will most likely finish this one up as a charity quilt.

The biggest challenge for me in participating in a bee has been getting the blocks done and sent off on time. I've been able to keep up with getting the blocks done during the month they are due but am sorry to say I've fallen into the bad habit of not getting them sent out on time. My November block for Elizabeth was done well ahead of time and yet I am just now getting it mailed. Sorry Elizabeth. On the plus side though is that I will be mailing Rene's December block at the same time.

There are so many benefits to participating in a bee. Here are just a few.
  • Of course the obvious benefit is having help making blocks for your quilt.
  • The chance to try a palette/block/quilt you might not venture to make all on your own.
  • The chance to have a wider variety of fabrics if you work from your stash like MCM does.
  • The chance to make a quilt block you've never made before. Some you will love, others maybe not so much, but at least you'll have had the experience of trying them.
  • And the best thing of all is expanding your circle of quilty friends be they local or even international. Quilty friends are the best!
The friends I've made in the online bee are so special to me. After quilting all by myself for years, the online community was the first place I found friends who share my passion. Many of us will be attending QuiltCon and I can hardly wait to meet these women in person. Plus I now have the fun of a local quilting community too through the Modern Quilt Guilds. The best of both worlds.

So if you're looking toward your quilting goals for the new year, think about joining a bee. I'm definitely glad I joined . . .  : )

Linking up at the last minute with WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced.
I'm also linking up with Scraptastic Tuesday over at She Can Quilt. I'd like to make using my scraps and my stash a big priority for 2015 and these scrappy posts by Leanne are really inspiring me.

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!

You can find the Cascade pattern in my Etsy shop.

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