Tuesday, June 18, 2019

preparing for Africa

In 24 days I leave for Africa! I think I've mentioned the trip a couple of times here on the blog, but I have not given much detail. I will be traveling with my daughter, Leigh Anne, and a team from her church, Liberty Church, to do mission work in eswatini. There will be 11 of us going, and we will work with Liberty Manzini and Children's Cup, helping at children's care centers, visiting families, hosting a family day for families of disabled children.... oh and a safari! 

I have 2 sponsor children over there who I am hoping to meet, Okuhle, an  8 year old girl and Phumla, a 13 year old boy. Both of them write to me frequently. In fact it was Okuhlel who wrote 2 years ago "wouldn't you like to come see my beautiful country?" which set this trip in motion.

I've been collecting little gifts for my kids and wanted to take something to their moms as well. So, I set to weaving....
This woven piece became dish towels that I can take as gifts...
The color palette came from a piece of quilting cotton I found in my stash. It looked African to me. I'm really pleased with how these turned out. One for each of the moms, including one for my daughter's sponsor child's mom, and one for me to keep.

I plan to write each mom an encouraging letter. Being a mom is hard work in the best of circumstances. I can't imagine doing it in extreme poverty. 

Meanwhile, I needed to make a new improv quilt as a shop sample for Not Your Mamas Quilt Store where I teach. Why not continue my color story? 
I'm calling this Okuhle's wish. I had fun with the quilting, matchstick quilting some of it and wavy lines for some.
I'll be teaching Improv Quilting next week at the shop and there are still some spots open. We have great fun! If you're local I encourage you to come.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

2019 colors of the year

I always look forward to finding out what the colors of the year are. This year, Kona hit the ball out of the park with Splash! As soon as it was announced, I ordered several yards of it for my stash, knowing I'd want to play with it and it would be hard to come by later on.

Then Pantone announced Living Coral and I thought, wow, those look awesome together!

So, when the McKinney Modern Quilt guild announced a color of the year challenge for this year I couldn't help but make two entries which I'm calling Mirror Image. Each mini is about 12" square. The guild minis will be on display at the McKinney Library in October so we all kept them small. I used a grunge for my coral and a spotted for my splash (solids for the contrasting small squares and kona black for accents.) I quilted them with my walking foot and added a faced binding.

I can't wait to share all of the guild quilts with you later on!

So, yes, I do love the colors this year and I can't promise that you've seen the last of them from me! I've entered both in the Pantone Quilt Challenge.

Friday, May 24, 2019

Block lotto quilt

A couple months ago, I won a big stack of block lotto blocks at the McKinney Modern Quilt Guild! The blocks were navy and white rectangles. At first I wasn't quite sure what to do with them. Then, at a sew day with friends, they helped me shape them into bigger square blocks! Here are five of those big blocks, each one containing 8 small rectangle blocks....
I played with them on my design wall at home for quite a while before I came up with the final layout. Putting them on point and adding coral "kisses" triangles was just the ticket!
Tonight hubby & I went up to the park and took some photos on the bridge.

My friends Jeff & Diann at Happy Quilts did the beautiful long arm quilting which accents the angled blocks
The finished quilt measures 48" x 64", a great lap sized quilt to donate to our guilds charity projects, quilts for local cancer patients.

And just to make you smile.... here's a mama duck and her babies who swam by while we were photographing quilts...
I think I count 11 babies! Bless her heart. What have you been up to lately?

Sunday, April 28, 2019

bunny bags

The McKinney Modern Quilt Guild was having a bunny bag/basket swap at our April meeting. When I saw this pattern at QuiltCon, I knew it would make the perfect bag! First I made the pink one on the left, as a gift for a friend. Then I found some leather cording I had bought a while back, and made the turquoise polka dot bunny for our swap. The cording worked great! Both of these were filled with little sewing treats.

Then I decided I should probably make one for each of my grown kids and pop some Easter candy inside. My bunny bags began multiplying like rabbits!
In the end I made seven. My oldest daughter was visiting friends for Easter weekend and I couldn't very well send her one and not send one for each of her friends, could I?

These were a fun little make, quick to do and used up fabrics from my stash.... bonus! Hope you all had a Happy Easter.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Finley Tote by Sotak Handmade

Svetlana Sotak (Sotak Handmade)'s latest pattern released today and I was thrilled to pattern test for her again. I had bought some black vinyl at Quiltcon and thought it would be perfect for this bag. Since I have great confidence in Svetlana's patterns, I decided to splurge on the bag fabric itself. A quick trip to Hobby Lobby led me to this awesome faux suede that has the feel and appearance of embossed leather. Perfect!
The hardest thing about working with both of these fabrics was that I could not iron either of them. I tried pressing a small swatch of the sued with a coolish iron and a pressing cloth, but the finish came off onto the pressing cloth. So, there was lots of finger pressing and I took my time on the exterior of the bag.
As I expected, it went together perfectly! Even the exterior zipper pocket went in beautifully.
This bag has short, tote handles and an adjustable, detachable long strap so it can be worn cross body.
I found this quilters cotton that looked great as the lining. As always, the pattern included great interior pockets. A slip pocket on one side (which I decorated with one of my leather labels) and an interior zipper pocket on the other side.

Add to all of that a top closing zipper keeping all of your belongings nicely contained. This is a top notch tote bag that will get lots of use. Hop on over to Svetlana's blog to see more versions and purchase a pattern for yourself.

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Solid Seven bee blocks

I mentioned this on Instagram and I need to repeat it here. Every month when my prompt arrives from a Solid Seven Beemate I think to myself "this is the greatest prompt! No one will ever beat this!" and then the next month..... I think the same thing! These ladies are incredible and sewing blocks for them makes me happy month after month. Here are a couple I made recently....
These blocks were made for Nicole. She sent us very good directions for the block she had designed along with a foundation paper piecing template. These were a blast to make! Our instructions were to use three colors that are side by side on the color wheel and the color directly across. This made for some really fun combinations!

It was funny, the day I made these I had gone on and on about how I didn't get the point of FPP improv. Why not just sew random fabrics together? What was the point of the paper at all? Then I received Nicole's directions and it all made sense! I would call this "directed improv FPP" and it made PERFECT sense! I stand corrected!

Next up were Ailish's blocks. Well, you all know how much I love words on quilts. When I got Ailish's prompt I was so excited. WORDS! Specifically, she wanted us to spell the names of 3 of our favorite kona solids using the color on a white background. BRILLIANT! We could use any letter pattern/template we wanted, including improv. Well.... I had just purchased Crimson Tate's Noteworthy pattern which gives an awesome improv template for each letter of the alphabet. I used it for all three of my blocks and will use it millions of times in the future. Love love love it. Enough said.....

Gosh these are fun! Tangerine ended up being 40 inches long... yikes! since Sour Apple is the same number of letters, I made those a bit smaller. These are ready to be mailed.

I absolutely cannot wait to see both of these quilts come together. And next month..... I'm the queen bee again! I thought I had a plan but now I'm changing my mind... stay tuned!

to see more of our bee's work, check out #thesolidseven on Instagram!

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

What to wear Wednesday - Kalle Shirtdress

Hello Spring! I haven't made myself a new garment in a long time. I've also been wanting to try the Kalle Shirtdress by Closet Case Patterns. I picked up the pattern at Craft South while I was in Nashville last month, found this cute cotton print at Joann's (60" wide, and reasonably priced with a coupon) and jumped in. I really love the way it turned out.

One thing I love about this pattern is all of the choices. There are three lengths (I made the tunic length), 2 different collars (mine is the stand up collar) and three front opening choices (I did a full button front opening). The pattern is full of attention to detail. the finishes are all wonderful, in fact all of the raw edges end up enclosed except for the side seams. This was easily solved with french seams. Even the hem is neatly finished with hand made bias tape, making the dramatic curves lay nice and flat.

I love the high/low hem and the banded sleeves. This one is going to get a lot of wear!
I even got a nice new headshot out of hubby's great photoshoot. I can't wait to make more of these shirts, maybe even one dress length. We'll see!

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

photo shoot

Sunday was a cloudy day, perfect for outdoor photography, so hubby & I headed to the local playground. It's one of my favorite places to take outdoor photos of my quilts.
climbing! not something I could easily do a year ago.
I had brought several of my recent quilt finishes, including my Solid Seven Gnome in the Christmas Forest quilt.

And my most recent finish, Take Note...
After a while, the wind kicked up, making quilt photography very difficult...

Ah well, it was a fun day nonetheless!

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Take Note

My latest quilt, Take Note, was started in Melanie Tuazon's class at Quiltcon. At the end of class, we all shared our work and the stories behind it. It was a bit embarrassing to tell the truth! My story? ummm, well, I chose the solids because they match my newly renovated guest bathroom. Yeah. that's all I had. Ladies were sharing beautiful stories about what inspired their improv work and I was playing with solids that match my bathroom. Really? Pretty lame. One lady shared about her young grandson with a brain tumor. Amazing, powerful stories. Oh well.

Afterwards, my mom and my daughter both said it looked like post-it notes. Brilliant! As I sewed the blocks together, I decided that each "post-it note" represents a daily task that must be done. If you look closely, you can see that some are more interesting than others.... some are large, some are small, the shades of yellow vary. So there you go. I backed into my story after the fact and I'm sticking to it.
The finished quilt is about 25" square and made entirely of Kona solids. I quilted it on my Janome 6600 and had lots of fun with that. I even added a block of yellow quilting just for fun. And yes, I do plan to hang it in the bathroom!

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Brooklyn Tote Pack

I'm so excited! Svetlana Sotak, at Sotak Handmade introduced her newest pattern today, the Brooklyn Tote Pack.  I was lucky to be chosen to pattern test this bag for her before I left for Quiltcon and I'm so happy with the outcome.

First I must tell you, when I saw the pattern, I decided I needed a plain denim bag and this was the perfect choice for it. If you've followed me for very long you know that "plain" is not usually in my vocabulary. I decided to do it anyways and the result was lovely...

Lovely but BORING! LOL Not Svetlana's fault at all. The pattern itself was perfect. As always, her instructions are clear and the details are awesome. Zipper pockets both outside and inside, tote handles (she used leather, I chose webbing for mine) and removable, adjustable backpack straps as well. 
I did line mine with this adorable cotton & steel lamb print that I had in my stash, which made the inside fun & cheerful.

I know I'll get lots of use out of it. But first I had to fancy it up a bit. So I went a little crazy with embroidery (no pattern, I just kept stitching until I was "done").
And now I think it's perfect! I really love this bag.... Thanks Svetlana for letting me try it out for you!

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

QuiltCon classes

I always have the best luck with the classes I get for Quiltcon! This year I took two half day (ok, evening!) classes. The first one was with Melanie Tuazon. I didn't know much about Melanie when I signed up for her class, but just the title sucked me right in.... Planned & Unplanned, find your improv groove. Boy did she deliver!

Melanie was encouraging, approachable and a terrific teacher. In the end I came away with finished blocks for a quilt top...

my mom says it reminds her of post it notes & I agree! I plan to add dark gray (I know, it looks black but it's not) borders so it "floats" and I think I'll call it "Take Note".

My second class was with Debbie Grifka and was titled Every.Day.Creativity. I've followed Debbie for a long time on social media and really admire her work. She's in her third year doing a hundred day project and has inspired me to think about one I could do. I loved every minute of her class and connected with Debbie on so many levels!
I came away from her class with two finished projects, this 10 inch quilt which is partially done here and a 4x6 "postcard" quilt.
This one is titled "Nashville" because it poured rain the entire time we attended Quiltcon! Not a bad souvenir!

Monday, February 25, 2019

MQG Mini quilt swap

This was my third year entering the MQG Mini quilt swap. Since I attended Quiltcon this past weekend (more posts yet to come on that!) it was a highlight for me to meet my swap partner Julie. This is the quilt I made and took to her. It was designed by Jayne of Twiggy and Opal, who graciously shared the paper piecing template with me! Bonus.... I got to meet Jayne this weekend too!
We chatted for a long time and I loved finding all five (yes! FIVE!) of her quilts in the show. Here's my favorite....
Anyways... back to the swap! I met up with my partner Julie and we were both a bit giddy...
I'm happy to say, she loved her quilt from me. And I absolutely adore the one she gave to me!
I can't wait to head home and hang it in my studio!