Saturday, May 30, 2015

What Have I done????

Some time after I lost my pup, Flanders, I started thinking about having another dog. I missed the companionship and the joy a dog brings to the house. My daughters wanted a dog as well and scoured the shelters looking for the right dog.

Then we found him...OY! His name is Finley or Fin or, sometimes, What-the-heck-dog! 

He was so calm in the shelter....while all of the other dogs went bizerk as a visitor passed, he sat quietly....with those big brown eyes

It was all a ruse...he knew when he saw me coming down the hall, there is an easy target. It was just a matter of reeling me in and life would be golden!

Finley is a 2 year old Treeing Walker Coonhound. And full of energy! I would say a less than perfect match for a mid-fifties gal who likes to sit and stare at fabric and sew.

The good news is, I am walking at least an hour a day with him and my daughter is running with him everyday. He is charming. Really...he is so stinking cute at times. And he sleeps like a champ and no accidents in the house. It is just the boundless amount of energy he has. I am hoping a lot of this has to do with his age. So if any of you have experience with TWC or hounds in general I would love to hear positive suggestions. The vet already put the fear of God into me, which didn't make me very happy. I need positive suggestions...not scare tactics. He is a rescue...had a bad life before and is now having to learn rules. We are in this for the duration! LOL!

Also, that is why the blog has been so takes tons of work to get this boy to act like a domesticated animal...hehe...and after that I am pooped. So please forgive me for being absent.

I have managed to get a few things sewn....

A cute basket block for Carla - she had May in our Mid Century Modern Bee.

I have done a few baskets before and I love Gwen Marstons technique for making Improv Baskets! Full of whimsy!

May brought Spring Quilt Market! Quilt Market is a trade show and my sister and I attend to choose fabulous fabrics for Sunny Day Supply.
This year, I tried to be a bit more bold and meet a few folks behind the names I recognize.
I was thrilled....totally thrilled to meet Carolyn Forster! 

A while ago, I did a book review for Carolyn! I admire her work and I can tell she must be a wonderful teacher. Best of all, she is just super nice! A warm delightful person! I knew she would be after all the terrific things I heard about her from Nicky at Mrs. Sew and Sow.

Quilt Market was good and we will have some great new fabrics arriving this summer.

I also began working on a Jen Kingwell quilt from her new book Quilt Lovely. It is the Spring Fever quilt. I saw it in her booth at market. Loved it, of course! But then, I loved everything about her booth!

I purchased a bundle, the last bundle, of Tiger Lily at the Sample Spree (we have this collection coming to our shop). I thought so many of these prints are perfect for the butterflies and background sections of Spring Fever! And I love how beautifully it coordinates with the Lighthearted fabric from Ayumi! And, yes, we did get a restock of the Lighthearted fabric in the shop! Yay!
 For the top right block, I used nani Iro double gauze for the background.

I love that I can do a little machine piecing for this block and then finish up with some hand applique. It works well with my current schedule.

I have also been playing around with some hexies for a fun little swap! 

Thanks for hanging in there with me through transitions...whew! I know it will get better...the only way to go is up from here! LOL!

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Improv Workshop.....

When I heard Heather Jones was holding an Improv Workshop in Dayton....I knew I had to go! 

As luck would have it, the workshop fell on my sister's birthday! So I treated her to the workshop! What fun! Spending the day with my sis and sewing! 

The studio space was fabulous! 

I met many amazing quilters....and connected with a few I already knew! 

We worked on several improv blocks....Log Cabin, Coin, and Cross block. I had such sweet and talented table mates and before long our design wall started to bloom! 

Other walls were also blooming! This was Lucinda's wall! Wonderful!

I loved the look of my Log Cabin blocks against this weathered floor...

Our wall! It felt great to be able to take the time to just play with fabrics and ideas. And mostly, to be inspired by the others around me. It felt very good indeed. I need to make a mental note that this sort of creative play is important. It feeds the soul. So take the time for a little fabric play! 

mary xx

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Tiny Steps and Bow-tie Tutorial....

A couple of folks asked about the Improv Bow-tie quilt and my teeny tiny Courthouse Steps.  
So I finally got around to taking pictures and thought I would give you a little tutorial.

Paper Foundation Pieced Courthouse Steps

Begin with a template...I have been using computer paper, but for demonstration purposes, I used a tissue paper called Golden Threads.  It is much like tissue paper, but comes on a roll. I am using it for the tutorial because you can see through easier to demonstrate than computer paper.

Courthouse Steps is a variation of a Log Cabin block. In a traditional CH Steps block the center is square and each step is the same width as the center. So my template has a 3/8 inch square center and each step is 3/8 inch wide. 

You can easily make your own template and with any size step you desire. Start with the center square...

Add the top and bottom my template the center is 3/8 square and the top and bottom are also 3/8 inch square. Then add sides which are 3/8 inch wide but the length is equal to the center+top+bottom = 1 1/8 inches
The next steps you add will be to the top and bottom again...then the sides. Continue adding steps until you have as many or as like.

You can work this block without using a paper foundation template. I used a template because my steps are so small and I wanted it to be as accurate as possible. 

Notice there aren't any seam allowances included in my template. For paper foundation piecing we will add the seam allowances as we trim back each step after it is added. You will need to remember to leave a 1/4 inch seam allowance around the perimeter of the finished block or your last step will be super thin ;)

I cut my center square 1 inch x 1 inch...all of the strips for the steps I cut 1 inch by the width of the fabric.

Start in the center and place the center square with the wrong side of the fabric facing the wrong side of the template. You will look at and sew on the right side of the template each time you add a step.

I place a little glue-baste it to hold my center fabric in place.

Take a strip of fabric for the top step and cut it so it is as long as the step plus at least a 1/4 inch for seam allowance on both sides. You do not have to measure and cut just needs to be at least the length of the step plus 1/2 inch (it can be longer).

It's important to reduce your stitch length to about 1.5-1.7...the purpose of a reduced stitch length is to better hold these small pieces together and to more easily perforate the paper for tearing it away.   

With right sides of the fabric facing, stitch along the first line above the center square. The right side of the template you made will be facing you. The advantage of tissue paper or velum or Golden Threads paper, is that everything is visible even though you are stitching with the paper side up.    

Fold the paper back on the stitched line, exposing the seam allowance. Trim the seam allowance leaving a 1/4 inch.

Finger press or heat press this first step back away from the center. The next step will be the one on the opposite side. Stitch exactly in the same manner as the first step and trim and press.

 Once you have the center and two steps on opposite sides of the center, it's time to add steps to the right and left of the center. I begin this by folding the paper back on the 3 line to be stitched and trim the seam allowance to a 1/4 inch. Now I just have to cut my 1 inch wide fabric long enough to cover that step + 1/2 the raw edge to the raw edge of the piece I just trimmed...and stitch directly on the third line. Repeat for the opposite side....

If you are familiar with paper foundation piecing this will be very easy! If you are just takes a bit of practice. I still have to pull out the seam ripper once in a while.

A word of caution! This pattern requires some thought in terms of the fabrics and their placement. So the next block in my first row (to the right of the block above) will need to have on the left side of the center the same Liberty fabric. The block below the block above, will need the same Cotton and Steel fabric that I used on the bottom steps. Blocks will share fabrics with the blocks to the right and left and with the blocks above and below.

You can see in the picture above the shared fabrics.
It's a fabulous design and makes a big impact! It just takes a bit of work and planning.

Improv Bow-Tie Block

This little block is super easy! If you have any experience with the process of Improv piecing, you will get this right away. 
I begin with two squares or rectangles of my bow-tie fabric...and four rectangles of my background fabric. I don't measure these. I simply oversize all of the fabrics I use and the background pieces are larger than the bow-tie fabrics. If you dislike wasting bits of fabric....this may not be the process for you.

Take one bow-tie fabric pieces and lay a background fabric piece on top of it at an angle. Stitch using a 1/4 inch seam allowance and trim to leave 1/4 inch seam allowance from the stitch line.


Press open and repeat on the other side of the bow-tie fabric. Place the background fabric at an angle again, but be sure it crosses the top of the last section added. Once you have trimmed the seam allowance, you should have a piece that looks like a wedge or a wonky triangle.

I know the background pieces look very wonky at this point but it will be squared up at the end.
Repeat this whole process with the other side of the bow-tie.

Then I trim the points of both bow-tie units leaving a 1/4 inch seam allowance.

Stitch both bow-tie units together, matching the points.

Trim up all sides to make a square or rectangle.

To put my bow-ties together into a quilt, I simply filled in the spaces with background fabric. This gave my quilt a more 'random' look. Or you could square all of your blocks up to the same size to make your quilt more symmetrical.

Let me know if you make your own courthouse steps or bow-tie quilt!
happy sunday!