Wednesday, August 24, 2016

My thoughts on blogs and blogging...

I knew the question at the end of my last post, "Are you reading blogs?", was self-evident. What I didn't expect was the overwhelming response both in the comments and through email. {And the fact that so many of you read to the end of the post!} Thank you! I enjoyed reading your comments and the passion for blogging appears to be alive and well!

First, let me reassure many of you - no, I'm definitely not going to stop blogging. And thank you, thank you for all the compliments :-)

What got me thinking about blogging is some things that I've heard recently. A comment that "blogs are dead", a statement that "blogs are now marketing tools", and Rachel's post pointing out that there are definitely fewer hobbyist bloggers. Couple these comments with the fact that I seem to have lost my blogging mo-jo this Summer. I've been asking myself "do I like my own blog?", "would I read it?". Since joining on Instagram, the blog here has become - look at this finished quilt. Is that all readers want to see?

So I'm feeling the blog needs a little shot of adrenaline {or maybe I do!}

Certainly as many of you pointed out - blogs have changed.

I think that was certainly inevitable and change is good. Shifts and changes improve things - I think of how quilting has improved since my Grandmother's day.

Grandmother's Flower Blocks made by my Grandmother in the 30s
Sometimes the changes don't feel so good. As a passionate blog reader I've noticed:

  • Some of my favorite blogs have disappeared. Many bloggers have used the platform as a jumping off point for a quilting career. And good for them! In 2006, when I wrote my first book, it was tough to get noticed. But it doesn't mean I don't miss some of my favorites. I always looked forward to Camille's {Simplify} beautiful photos and Anna Maria Horner's  beautiful writing. {If you love beautiful writing, read Posie Gets Cozy. She's poetic!}
  • Blogs have become a marketing tool. Several of you mentioned a dislike for blogs that are constantly trying to sell you something. It's the way of the world, but I definitely avoid blogs with too much of that {especially those pop-up ads}
  • Comments are down. I'm guilty of writing fewer comments too {Was it easier to comment when we had Google Reader? I don't remember} I don't blog for comments, but I sure do like them!
In thinking about all this I have been asking myself "What do I want my blog to be?" "Do I want to keep up my 'hobbyist blog'?". The answer is yes - and here's why:
  • Like Thelma commented, my blog is a great diary of my quilts for ME!
  • I've found myself finishing a quilt, folding it up and moving on to the next one. My blog makes me stop, appreciate it, think about it and feel the joy I find in quilt-making.
  • I'm a mediocre photographer and writer. I'd love to improve in both areas and this blog is a way to push myself, practice and hopefully get better.
  • Whenever I figure something out - whether it's a new block, method or twist on a purchased pattern - I feel a need and obligation to share it. I get so much good info from other blogs and bloggers, I can't not give back. It may be a tutorial or just a simple tip to make quilting-life easier.
  • I was watching the Olympic gymnastics with my 6 and 8 year old granddaughters. A few minutes into the competition they both put their bathing suits on and started practicing cartwheels. It made me realize how much seeing another's success and achievements is so motivating. I strive to do that here - inspiring just one person makes my day!
So, yes, I'm still blogging. Things may stay the same or they may improve. We'll just have to see. But these thoughts and your comments have given me that little touch of adrenaline that I needed. 

I'd love to hear from you. What do you like to see?

Finished quilts? - I'll always have those!

In progress photos? I've seem to have gotten away from those.

Scrappy Trip - not so scrappy
Things I make that I don't finish and don't know what to do with? Sad to say there are many!

EPP Hexagons

Fabric Crushes?

Les Fleurs, Playground, new mini Henna garden

Personal stories related to quilting? Like these dresses I made for Elyse and Madelyn this Summer for my son's wedding. {Pictured with their new cousin Ava}

Decorating, storage and organization ideas? Another passion of mine...

Fun storage basket for quilts from Target
Thank you, thank you, thank you for being here and sharing this journey with me. I really do appreciate you taking time out of your busy day to read this blog. As always I love your comments. Those of you who don't fit into the "Post as" profile can always email me. I have that set up so I don't get all the Spam comments.

And as an avid blog reader I'm always looking for new reads. Do you have any favorite "hobbyist blogs"?

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Reverse Sawtooth Star

In my continued effort to make quilts from my stash this year, I pulled out my bin of Anna Maria Horner fabrics. I've made several quilts from her lines and as always there were leftover scraps, too precious to toss. For this quilt I chose some of my very favorite fabrics from multiple lines, some of which were fairly small pieces, and ended up with a quilt that I can't stop looking at!

The pattern idea came from blogger, Suzy Quilts. She has a full tutorial for this Reverse Sawtooth using an 8" square star. I decided with the bigger prints to go up to 12" {and fewer blocks to make}. The design is the same, just the block size is different.

For the background I chose Little Ruby dots in gray by Bonnie and Camille for Moda. I find that softer grays and creams really soften the saturated colors of Anna Maria Horner's fabrics. Love how this gray compliments the colors.

I quilted this one in organic "straight" lines using my walking foot. It's such an quick way to quilt something and I debated about it as I often feel it's a cop out because it is so easy. But I love the way it looks and doesn't overpower the fabrics or the design.

I raided my stash again for the backing and sewed 3 larger pieces of AMH prints together to get the size I needed.

To bind I chose Cotton + Steel Netorious in black.

I've been doing some thinking about blogs and blogging, heard and read some observations about them recently, and wondering if anyone's reading them any more. Watching my granddaughters practice doing cartwheels during the Olympics has me thinking even more. I need to put all those thoughts together and I'll share them with you next time.

Are you still reading many blogs and what are you looking for?

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Quilt maker's 100 Blocks Sampler

Have you heard about Quilmaker Magazine's 100 block sampler quilt? You're probably familiar with the Quiltmaker 100 Blocks publication, filled with unique 12" blocks. They've taken 49 previously published blocks and reduced them to 6" finished for a fun sampler quilt.

Each Wednesday they are featuring one of the blocks on their blog, Quilty Pleasures

Today is the day for my block, called Spinwheel which was in the Summer 2013 issue. 

Six inch Sampler quilts are so popular right now. And rightly so - they're fun to make and so pretty. The great thing about this one is that all the blocks are rotary cut!

You can find more about the quilt-along on Quilty Pleasures Blog here and find the pattern and kits here.

Six inch blocks are also so handy to use for adding to small projects. I stitched my smaller block up in Liberty fabric with a linen background and turned it into a zip pouch!

Monday, August 1, 2016

Triangle Hexies Quilt

Triangle Hexies Quilt is a pattern by Emily Dennis from Quilty Love.

Yup! Still using up some stash fabrics. I pulled everything I had from all the lines by Vanessa Christensen of V&Co in teals, navies, aquas and greens.

The white is my go-to Moda Bella 97 and the gray solid is Art Gallery's Mystic Gray.

It's quilted by me in a swirly design...

and backed and bound in V&Co prints that I got on sale at my local quilt shop.

I love this quilt! It was fun and pretty easy to make (no Y-seams!) and in one of my very favorite color combinations!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Little Things...

Quilts are my thing. I rarely make bags, pincushions, or many little projects. But it seems this month I've strayed from my usual sewing to make some fun littler items...

The Gatherer Cross Body Bag ~
I made 2 of these one - for each of my Granddaughters. Seems they like carrying a purse and this is such a cute style and size for two young girls. And to keep all the change they manage to charm from their Grandfather, I added a small Coin Purse {pattern here and here} {frame from here}

I saw this pincushion on Instagram, beautifully made by Erin aka @mommy2lu. It's from the book Sew Organized For the Busy Girl and was a fun little project.

I've love embroidery and haven't done it in years. Have you seen the Buck Forest fabric by Bonnie Christine and the embroidery that's been added? Yes, that idea came to me from Instagram too!

I made a case for my embroidery a few years ago, but decided to remake it in some "me" colors. The pattern is from Patchwork Please and I added a bit of embroidery to the front using a pattern from Heather Bailey. The floss is the new set by Bonnie and Camille.

The inside...

This is the Maker's Tote by Noodlehead. She designs the most professional looking bags and writes some of the best pattens for construction. This went together really well for an unexperienced bag maker like me. Lesson learned: don't use fusible web over your basting stitches {it makes them quite difficult if not impossible to remove!}

I opted to leave off the outer pockets because I just love the exterior fabric {Curiosities by Jeni Baker}. I love how the bag stands on it's own and opens wide. I think it will be great to carry busywork when traveling.

And finally a simple iPad case. My old one was a bit big for the newer iPad and I just love the simple pattern from fancy Tiger Crafts.

The great thing is that all these projects were made from fabrics in my stash!

I've included links for all the patterns. Let me know if you make any!

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Squash Blossom Quilt

I have a new quilt finish! The block is a traditional one called Squash Blossom. There's a brief block tutorial at the end of this post...

I started the fabric selection with some half yards of Aneela Hoey's newest line called Foxglove. And as you can probably guess I added my touch with some coordinating prints and solids from my stash.

The machine quilting was done using the Serpentine Stitch #4 on my Bernina. I always love the way it looks and the long vertical lines about an inch apart seemed perfect for this design. I adjusted the length and width to make it pretty zig-zaggy this time and love how it turned out.

For the backing I chose the aqua print with the foxes from the line. It's so adorable!!

 As far as a pattern is concerned, I searched the web and found 2 really good ones. One from Holly Gets Quilty  and the second from Tales of Cloth. Both are very good, but break the trapezoids into squares and triangles. I wanted to recreate the same block with fewer seams and came up with my own version.

Here's a brief description of how I did it:

The trapezoids are cut by cutting a rectangle and using the 45 degree line on your ruler to trim the end or ends. Note that when only one end is trimmed, you'll need mirror images of each piece. If you place 2 layers wrong sides together and cut them together, you'll get the mirror image of each shape.

Background (white):
4 - 2 1/2" x 6 7/8", trim one end at a 45 degree angle to get 2 sets of 2 mirror image trapezoids
4 - 2 1/2" x 4 7/8", trim one end at a 45 degree angle to get 2 sets of 2 mirror image trapezoids
4 - 2 1/2" x 2 1/2" squares

Accent (navy):
1 - 5 1/4" x 5 1/4" square, cut in half twice diagonally {you need only 2 of these triangles}

Main (aqua):
1 - 5 1/4" x 5 1/4" square, cut in half twice diagonally {you need only 2 of these triangles}
4 - 2 1/2" x 6 7/8", trim one end at a 45 degree angle to get 2 sets of 2 mirror image trapezoids
2 - 2 1/2" x 9 1/4", trim both ends of these rectangles at 45 degree angles going in opposite directions

Sewing: Refer to the block diagram above.
1. Use the 4 - 2 1/2" background squares and draw a line from corner to corner on the wrong side. Place a marked square on the square end of each of the 2 1/2" x 6 7/8" main fabric (aqua) trapezoids with the drawn line going parallel to the 45 degree angle on the opposite end. Sew on the drawn line, press and trim seam allowance to 1/4". (Use the 2 center rows of the block diagram for reference).
2. Lay out the units from step one and the remaining pieces following the above diagram.
3. Sew the pieces into rows.
4. Sew the rows together to complete the block.

Tip! You'll be sewing 2 - 45 degree angles together. To line them up properly, use the photo below for reference. The sewing line should fall in the "V" created by the 2 angles.

Hope you give it a try!

Monday, June 20, 2016

City Tiles Quilt

I've mentioned my love of Instagram before and I've really found some amazing quilters there and tons of inspiration. One of them is Emily Dennis who blogs at Quilty Love. Emily is just one of those people whose style I really connect with. Clean, modern, and a bit traditional all at the same time.

My most recent finish is one of Emily's patterns called City Tiles. I love the simple graphic design and thought it would be perfect to showcase the gorgeous line called Lavish by Katarina Roccella.

I used an Art Gallery solid called Icy Mint for the background and had a hard time photographing this beautiful color. It really is pretty and a nice, fresh neutral for this colorful line.

It's quilted with straight lines 1" apart and backed in one of the great prints from the line. The binding is a pretty, and dark floral.

It is such a great pattern! And super easy to follow. I'm actually working on another of Emily's patterns right now called Triangle Hexies Quilt. It's another goodie!