January 29, 2015

Artists raising artists

I have a lot of sweet memories with my kids from writing this book.

Sometimes during my hours-long sketching sessions my daughter would sit beside me and we would draw together. I never thought to take any pictures of it, but imagine she and I sitting in a bed or on a couch together, each with a book on her lap, a ream of printer paper and a mess of folders and pens between us. Each of us occasionally stops to admire what the other is doing and offer their encouragement. I didn't anticipate that, but it is so precious.

I also didn't anticipate that the kids would color in my cast-off drawings. It really thrilled me, and sometimes let me see them in a whole new light.

I like that my daughter got to see the messy, drawn out process of creating a book. Having her near me as I worked has certainly influenced her. She makes her own continuous line designs now!

And the other day she declared we should make a "Design book" together. We each did one page of the spreads.

This time in our life as a family is a precious one. I wonder how we will look back on it. Raising kids is a constant source of curiosity and wonder.

THANK you to everyone for the hearty congratulations on my new book! There is no way I can email you individually, each time I do a giveaway my email becomes unmanageable. But "Willit Neverend" (isn't that a great username?) was chosen by random.org to receive the signed book! Don't be sad if you didn't win, Sarah at Confessions of a Fabric Addict just showed what she quilted using a design from the book. And she's hosting a giveaway of the book as well! So head on over and enter that one! See you all soon.

January 27, 2015

My new book is out: Giveaway! Party in Portland!

Today Amazon says it is shipping my new book. Happy happy, boing boing! Thank you to those of you who already left reviews on the Kindle version, you rock! Leaving a review is so helpful, especially with a new release. It's a very kind thing to do for an author, so thank you.

My beloved Portlanders, let's get together and talk about how much free-motion quilting makes us quiver, yeah? My amazing, kind, generous, and talented friend Nancy Stovall at Just Quilting is hosting a book signing party at her longarm studio. We will have snacks. We will have a longarm ready for you to play with - his name is Manny and you will love him. I will have my books to sell (yes, even with a credit card, because I finally got a square reader!). If you already have purchased a copy bring it on by and I'll sign it! 

The details: 
Friday, February 13th 
Just Quilting, 2738 SE 15th Avenue, Portland, OR. (Look for the entrance on Taggart)

And if you're not in Portland, I haven't forgotten about you. I love you! So much that I want to give away a copy of this book to one of you, so how about I do that now? The giveaway is open to you no matter where you live. Leave a comment, any comment on this post to enter. Please make sure I have your email address. If you are a no-reply commenter someone else will get the book you should have won because I won't be able to reach you to tell you I drew your name. Wouldn't that be sad? Yes, it would. Leave me your email address if you don't know what a no-reply commenter is because you might be one! Update: The giveaway is now closed. 

Well that's it! I'll close entries and draw a winner on Thursday 1/29.  Comments are now closed and a winner has been drawn!

January 21, 2015

FMQ Weekly: Loopy Lines design for beginning quilters

I was thinking about what I can do to help all the beginners who are just taking up free-motion quilting right now. I decided to share a design that I often get new quilters trying in their first class: Loopy Lines.

This design is so lighthearted. It's something you could finish a whole quilt with, simple enough for a brand-new beginner but still interesting enough to keep a more experienced quilter from feeling completely bored.

It is exactly what it says: wavy lines with loops on them. Every now and then a double loop shows up for interest.

a. Start with a wavy line, and extend a loop to one side.
b. Continue on with the wavy line, and add another loop. Alternate the side the loops are on and vary the distance between your loops.
c. Continue on and add a double loop. Make every 3 or 4 loops double loops.
d. Continue on this way to the end of your piece (or the end of the area you are quilting)

The two things I like to point out when I show this design in class are: 1) keep your speed consistent as you go around the loops. It's a universal tendency to want to swing around those loops a little fast but that will give you long funny stitches on your loops, and 2) Avoid making your lines straight: give them a little wave. This is a personal preference thing of course, but the pressure of trying to keep the lines straight is too much. Let 'em wiggle!

Everything I've stitched this week has been screwed up somehow and I've had to redo it. Everything except this design. That's how sweet this design is, it will be good to you even when the rest of the world is completely uncooperative. Here's the video to prove it!

I'll leave you with a picture of the sunlight through my quilted piece! Happy stitching all.

January 08, 2015

FMQ Weekly: Tesseract Quilting Design

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This is a pleasantly geometric design. I usually don't use right angles in my quilting much because, as you will see if you watch the video, I just am not that great at them. I bet if I slowed down and was really careful they would come out better but I don't quilt to slow down and be really careful.

Anyway, I mention that because I want you to feel reassured if you have the same problems I have  ("right" angles that aren't, "straight" lines that curve). This pattern still seems to look good! So I'm not even going to try and shoot a better video, because I think you should see that even with those irregularities the design still plays well.

This is an echo-around design. That makes it pretty flexible because you make a shape and then echo around that however much you need to until you get to the place you want to start your next shape.

The steps:

1. Make three sides of a square.
2. Move a little to the side and echo around that square.
3. Move to the side and echo around again, as many times as you want until you get to the point that you want to start the next square.

I like the look when I start my next squares at corners, it gives this pleasant overlapping effect. But you can start your next square anywhere. You'll occasionally have some tight spaces that you have to get creative to fill, just try and keep your line spacing sort of consistent. And don't stress about that either.

Here's the short video of me stitching it:

I'm coming up with designs faster than I have patchwork to feature them! But here is the back of my stitched sample.

Thanks for the enthusiasm about the new book! See you all soon. 

January 06, 2015

Step-by-Step Free-Motion Quilting: time for a peek!

Things are all of a sudden happening fast for this book. I had somehow convinced myself that it wouldn't be here till the end of the month, but no! Books are shipping out to stores soon, the Kindle version is up on Amazon, and I haven't hardly told you anything about the book!

This is the book I wanted when I started to get the hang of free-motion quilting. I was so hungry for new designs but the only quilting design books I could find at the library were for hand quilting or these kind of kitschy designs of fish and cowboys and other "things". I didn't want Christmas trees and cactus, I wanted geometry, pattern, texture! I wanted someone to show me what was possible.

This is also the book that some of you asked for. My friend Michelle suggested after the first book came out that I should show how to make my more complicated designs by breaking them down into steps. Yes! I love doing that!

But what really got me thinking about writing a quilting design book was hearing from quilters who thought they couldn't do free-motion quilting "because I can't draw".

You know what? You totally don't have to be able to draw to do free-motion quilting! Most FMQ designs are just simple shapes. This book is full of designs that are made with simple shapes: think circles, wavy lines, spirals, arcs. These simple shapes are ones that anyone can draw and when you combine them, wow! Great designs that you can make with a little practice.

You have a couple ways to get a peek: there's a preview of the book available on Amazon (just click on the book cover and you can view about 40 pages of the book). I also made a "book trailer" video, introducing the book and showing how to stitch one of the designs. I picked the design on the cover because I love it so. You can see it in my only-slightly-awkward 2 minute homemade book promo video here.

The inside of the book is exactly like I hoped. Casual and clean. Each design spread shows a full page of the design and the step-by-step instructions for making it. All told the book is 192 pages. Isn't that great? Very few quilting books are this substantial. C&T publishing deserves a kiss on both cheeks for giving this book the space it needed to show these fresh and friendly quilting designs in a way that anyone can learn them. Love them!

If you're the type that likes to order books from the author, or likes signed copies, I am acting like a real business-lady just for you. You can order a signed copy at the A Few Scraps Webstore. I even put these FMQ bumper stickers in the store because people keep telling me they want them. Oh, and Portlanders, we will have a little book launch party next month, so if you don't want to pay for shipping hang in there and we'll handle it local!

Thanks for letting me talk your ear off about my new book! I've got some stories about the process of writing it that I still want to share, but that's for another day. Happy stitching all!