Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Blogger's Quilt Festival 2

For my second entry into the Blogger's Quilt Festival, I am entering one of my most favorite quilts that I have made.

I made this quilt earlier this year - mostly to use up some scraps.   I don't even think I had much of a plan when I started.

This quilt lives on our couch and is used everyday!  I'm pretty sure that one of the reasons my daughters' love it is because it is backed in soft flannel.

This was one of the largest quilts I've made and I still remember my husband constantly having to take breaks to rest his arms while I was taking photos.

I'm going to put it in the home machine quilted category.  I quilted most of it with a figure 8 design but I also mixed in some clamshells and some wavy-ish lines.  If I am remembering correctly, this was the first time I tried the figure 8 design - but it was definitely not the last!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Quilt Photography Workshop Fall 2013

Challenge #3:  Color and White Balance

If you are wondering, we will eventually be photographing actual quilts in the "quilt" photography workshop but for now, let's still work on the details.  For this challenge, let's focus on color.  As you know, I am definitely not a photography expert so I could be wrong but I think the best way to get the color you want is to learn about white balance.  If you don't have a DSLR, please don't stop reading - even if you can't control the white balance "in camera", you can still work on correcting color by using the right light and/or through editing - even the free editing programs let you fix white balance.

For this challenge, pick a color (or two) and figure out how to incorporate white balance, light, and editing to get the truest representation of that color on your computer screen.  You can use fabric, a WIP, or a finish - just pick something that has a large-ish area of the color you are working on.

My first suggestion would be to use the white balance presets on your camera and take the same exact photo several times changing nothing but the white balance.  I did this recently and wow, what a difference just this variation can make!  I would then suggest you repeat this process using the same subject but under different light conditions - if you took the first set of photos outside, then move inside or if you took the first set in daylight, wait until it is dark and use lamps.

The photos in this post were taken within a few minutes of each other using various white balance settings.  However, shifting my angle just slightly enabled me to use the backlighting from the sun to get that hazy quality that I really like!  For my challenge post, I think I am going to try to work on getting better colors at night with indoor lighting.

And if you are feeling up to it, learn how to set a custom white balance on your camera - I haven't done this yet so I can't give you any guidance.  But I am going to try to figure it out for this challenge so I'll let you know how it goes.

After you have a few sets of photos, upload them to your computer and use your photo editing program to further work on white balance and color.  From what I can tell, it looks like it is called a neutral color picker on most of the free programs I use (picasa and picmonkey.)  Let us know in the comments if you know where to find it using other photo editing programs.

I'll post the link up on my blog November 10th and I'll leave it open for about 10 days.

Let me know if you have any questions.  Find out more information about the Quilt Photography Workshop and the past challenges by clicking here.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Blogger's Quilt Festival

Which do you choose first - fabric or design/pattern?  For me, the two are usually intertwined but recently I've been making some quilts specifically for birch fabrics so the fabric collection is decided first.

When working with a fabric collection, I usually let the fabrics dictate the design but for this quilt, made with Elk Grove, I decided to try to make it work with an idea I've been wanting to try.  I had sketched a color block/novelty print combo quilt a few months ago and while this quilt is very different from that original drawing in both the placement and number of prints, it definitely has the same overall look I was imagining. 

I quilted it with wavy organic lines running the length of the quilt.  I have actually become much more used to FMQ this year so going back to straight line quilting - especially on a quilt this size - was actually a bit challenging.

But the big news is that this quilt and a couple of others that I made (this and this) are actually at Quilt Market right now in the birch fabrics booth.  This is really exciting for me as I never imagined that I would ever have anything on display there!  

I'm not really sure what category to put this in for the festival so I am going to choose quilt photography.  I just took these photos in my backyard where I take most of my quilt photos but since I have committed this year to improving my photography skills through the Quilt Photography Workshop that I am hosting on my blog, I thought that would be the most appropriate category for me.

Linking to the Blogger's Quilt Festival.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013


{these will eventually be part of some sort of doll quilt - fabric stamps inspired by nana company}

{these will eventually become a baby quilt - Ipanema by Birch Fabrics}

{this small stash of Liberty Lawn will eventually be part of a small bed quilt}

linking to WIP Wednesday

Thursday, October 17, 2013

the super easy to sew tote bag

I think I have said this before but while I usually like to add a zipper or pockets or other details to my bags, sometimes I just like a simple tote - especially when I am sewing bags for kids.  This "super easy to sew" tote is also super quick to sew and would be perfect for carrying around books or, since it is October, trick or treating.  As with most of the bags I write about here, you can easily adjust the size to fit your preferences but I've included the measurements I used below as a starting point.  Oh, and this bag is totally reversible - bonus!!!

1.  Begin by determining what size you want the bag.  Mine measures approximately 14" across and 16 1/2" high.  I say approximately because I didn't measure it until after I finished and washed it.  That is one of the easy things about this tutorial - you don't need to do a lot of measuring.  To put together the outside of the bag as shown in the above photo, you'll need two pieces of print fabric 15"x 12 1/2" and one piece of linen 15"x 10".   These measurements are based on using a 1/2" seam.  Of course, to make it even easier - omit the linen and just use one piece of fabric 15"x 33".

2.  Put one of the print fabrics right side facing with the piece of linen on the 15" side of both.  If you are using a directional print, make sure the linen is sewn to the bottom of design.  Repeat with the other print and press the seams.

3.  Prepare your straps.  The easiest would probably be to use cotton webbing for the straps.  I don't currently have any cotton webbing so I just made simple straps using fabric.  My straps are 32" and I started with a strip about 4 1/2" wide  - depending on your preferences, you could cut a strip between 4 - 5" wide and 29" - 32" in length.  Press the strip in half - wrong long sides together. Unfold and press each edge in toward the middle.  Fold in half again and then sew 3 or 4 lines of stitches along the entire strip.  (Sorry about the fabric change - I didn't take pics when I made the matching straps)

4.  Baste the straps to your bag.  You could skip this step but it takes less than a minute and makes it easier later.  

5.  Lay the outside fabric right side up with the bulk of the straps towards the center of the bag - measure the length and width and cut a piece of lining fabric the same size.  Lay the lining fabric right side down on the outer fabric.

6.  Sew one short edge together - making sure to sew over the straps.  On the other short edge, sew starting from the inside of one of the straps to the edge of the fabric and then repeat on the other side as shown in the illustration below.  Basically you are leaving the space between the straps open for turning the bag right side out later in step 9.  

7.  Readjust the fabrics so that all of outside fabric is on one side and all of the lining fabric is on the other.  Sew down each long edge as shown in the illustration below.

8.  Box all four corners by making a gusset.  To do this, just pinch each of the corners so that the side and bottom of the fabrics meet to form a triangle.  

9.  Turn the bag right side out through the opening you left between one of the straps.

10.  Press the opening closed and top stitch around the perimeter of the bag one or two times.

Enjoy your bag!  Let me know if you have any questions.

Friday, October 11, 2013

charley harper baby quilt tutorial

I feel so lucky that I was able to work with another one of Birch Fabric's wonderful fabric lines.  This one is Charley Harper - this line is filled with absolutely adorable prints and several lovely blenders.  I'm sure it would come as no surprise to those of you who regularly read about my projects that I would choose to highlight the novelty prints!  The tutorial for this quilt is on the Birch Fabrics blog (click here) and you can see the whole line by clicking here - I think it is coming out later this month!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

patchwork frames quilts

I just wanted to share some absolutely beautiful quilts that were made using my patchwork frames quilt pattern.  I have written a few posts highlighting various versions of this block throughout the summer including a mini quilt, a baby-sized quilt, and a lap/throw size quilt.  I have consolidated all of the posts/patterns/tutorials into one page so if you are interested in making your own patchwork frames quilt, you can find everything here.

photo from The Sewing Chick

This lovely quilt was made by Tessa from The Sewing Chick!  I love the adorable fussy cuts she used from one of my favorite fabric lines - The Simple Life  - especially paired with the light green background.  Tessa shares her thoughts on the pattern and more photos on her blog (click here.)  

Photo from The Sewing Chick

Tessa is also currently working on a new quilt using the patchwork frames pattern using all solids.  I am just fascinated by how different the pattern looks with these fabric choices.  I really like it - what do you think?

Photo from little and lots

Laura from little and lots made her version using the randomly-placed blocks option.  I love the color palette she chose and if you read her post (click here), you can read why her 2 year old loves this quilt!

Photo from Weekend Doings

Martha from Weekend Doings made her quilt with the adorable Paris Flea Market fabrics for the centers - so cute! I also love the color palette and mix of border fabrics that Martha used.  Click here to see Martha's post and to read about her adventures FMQing this quilt.

I want to say thank you again to Tessa, Laura, and Martha for making these beautiful quilts and sharing their feedback on the pattern!  If you want to make your own patchwork frames quilt, click here for the free pattern and be sure to let me know if you make one!

Friday, October 4, 2013

Scrappy Patchwork Improv Quilt Tutorial

Hi everyone!  Just wanted to let you know that my tutorial for this baby quilt is on Sew Mama Sew today.  Click here to see it.  And if you are interested in piecing some fussy cuts into the negative space as shown in the version above, click here to see my favorite way to do that.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

a tiny tote bag and some other things

I've been on a bit of a bag making kick lately.  Even though I feel like I make a lot of bags, I never seem to have one when I need it (aside from my everyday bag) so I decided to make some "specific-purpose" bags.  This one was just a super simple tote bag with an inside zip pocket.

I also made a tiny messenger bag for my 2 year old.  She is always picking up my bag or my daughters' bags and dragging them around the house or down the sidewalk so I made one the perfect size for her.  I used my tutorial here with much smaller measurements - the bag measures about 6" x 7" and the strap is about 24".

And here it is in action in one of the photos I used for the quilt photography workshop link up this week.  Hm, so about that link up - is anyone else planning on linking up?

And this was my color palette inspiration photo from the link up.  I used play-crafts to get the palette - what do you think?

I think next month's quilt photography challenge will be about photographing color.  I'll write up more details soon.  Eventually, we'll need to get to photos of actual quilts but I thought it might be a good idea to focus on some of the smaller details first, right?