December 13, 2013

My new use for batting scraps

I have a collection of skinny strips of leftover batting, and I know I am not alone. At about 2 inches wide they are too small individually for any little quilted project.  I know I don't have the patience to piece them together to make a larger piece, though I happily do that with bigger pieces to get enough for a quilt top.

But now I have it. I know what to do. I take little fabric scraps and sew-and-flip piece them onto my batting strips!

And then when I have several strips...

I piece those together with one-inch wide strips of fabric.

(here's what that looks like from the back)

And then bigger things have formed from littler things, and I feel happy.

This completes a veritable trifecta of quilting waste prevention:
Using practice pads as pre-quilted piecing foundation
Joining little quilted bits into bigger quilted panels, and now,
Piecing fabric onto batting strips

Sigh of satisfaction.

Best wishes for your to do lists and self-care my friends! Make a little time to sew, you know you'll feel better.

November 20, 2013

All the news that is news

I have a new job, which is downright wonderful unless you like reading my blog (hi grandma!).

I have sewn a few things. First, an iPad cover for my husband. He loves it. Seriously, my man takes something I quilted for him to work. That is a major achievement.

Side note: I will make a tutorial. If you need it before the gift giving season let me know so I can take my attention away from peanut butter cups and Netflix.

I also made more nesting buckets. I love these things. They are a fun way to get people to try free motion quilting and have something to show for it at the end. I have one more class coming up to teach them. I wish I had better pictures but right after this the toddler photobombed me! Little man is into everything these days. Everything. Exhibit A:

Also, I have two patterns in the just-out issue of Stitch Gifts 2014! (The sewing industry is like the automobile industry with years now!). In one of the patterns they autocorrected my last name to Camel.  Hah! It's good for a laugh at least. I hope life is equally joyful around your parts!

November 14, 2013

Susan Beal's Sewing For All Seasons

I have the pleasure today of showing you a beautiful book by my friend and fellow quilter Susan Beal. It's a book of sewing projects from someone who clearly loves the natural world around her.

First things first. Hardcover book. Love that.

Next: Little cards from Susan's book planning process. It's so personal and behind-the-scenes, what a great touch.

Also: gorgeous.

Finally, well written, just the right amount of illustrations, easy to follow.

I thought these little mason jar cozies were the cutest thing ever so I sat down to make one as soon as possible. The pattern called for fusible batting, which I don't own; I substituted a quilted leftover instead!

I think the concept of this book is inspired, and Susan really does it justice. None of the projects are fussy. All of them are things I could see myself making. I'm really pleased to have it. Thank you for the gift of your beautiful book Susan!

October 31, 2013

Quilted Luggage Tag tutorial

So last week I made myself a couple luggage tags, attached them to my bags-full-of-quilts, and flew to Houston sans children to go to quilt market.

I just spent an hour trying to write up my experience of quilt market and I give up. The following words apply: fast, chatter, awkward, blisters, flattering, industry, thrilling, uncertain, lucky, powerful, big, touching, grateful, realization.

How about something concrete to offer you instead? Like how I made these luggage tags in about 30 minutes just a few hours before my flight? I personally think these would make great gifts because they are fast and likely to actually be used. You're not freaking out about the holidays yet are you? Yeah, me neither.

So you need a quilted piece, a backing piece, a 5 1/2" piece of elastic and a bit of clear vinyl. Yep, that's my fabric from Spoonflower, but you could stitch some actual selvages onto batting if you wanted to. Or use any scrap quilted piece (maybe a good looking section of a FMQ practice piece?)

You cut quilted and backing pieces 4 1/2" x 3" and then cut off the corners 1 1/2" x 1/2".

Fold the elastic in half and lay it centered on the top of the quilted piece.

Then the backing piece face down over that. Stitch around the outside leaving a hole in the far end.

Trim the corners and flip it right side out. Tuck the open end under and press.

Cut a piece of vinyl 2 1/2" x 2 1/4" trim if necessary to fit your tag.

Topstitch around the edge of the tag. This attaches your vinyl and closes up the hole at the bottom of the tag at the same time. I start stitching on the open edge and I used a piece of paper under the presser foot (but not so far under that the needle actually stitched through the paper)

And there you have it! Cut a piece of card about 2 1/4" x 2" to put in the pocket. Trim smaller if needed.

Whenever I saw one of these on my bag it made me feel happy. So do those knee socks from Sweet Marcel!

So there you are! Maybe these tags will go with me to another quilt market someday. Or maybe this was a one-time thing. Either way, I'm happy. Hope things are good out there, quilters!

October 12, 2013

Why is it?

Just in my sewing room reflecting on my varied ability to choose fabric. Does this happen to you?

Thank you everyone who entered the giveaway for my book, I loved reading about the things that were bringing you joy: your children, grandchildren, partners, parents, friends, family, jobs, births, weddings, endeavors and of course quilting!! The winner is #58, Linda Fleming! Linda please contact me by the end of the week with your mailing address.

October 05, 2013

First Steps to Free-Motion Quilting: Giveaway!

When I learned free-motion quilting I was excited. Amped up. But I looked at the quilt I had to finish and I knew I couldn’t jump right in and free-motion on it. It was so pretty. It had taken me so long. No way.

So I made a little quilt to practice on first. I wanted something quick but not something boring. I made up my own pattern that was quick-ish (but not really that quick because I overthink everything and I have a teeny-scrap improv fetish.) Anyway, I quilted that thing. It wasn’t great…because it just never is when you start fmq. Gotta connect all the right neurons, get your coordination down. Here's a picture. Does it look like your first FMQ attempt? 

After that I quilted one more little quilt, and then I was ready to quilt the big one. And it was great! I was hooked and I felt ready to quilt all the quilts that came after that. Here, years later, I still have both those practice quilts.

So when it hit me that yes, I should write a beginning FMQ book, I thought of that girl, in her apartment, with a box of her grandma’s scraps and a Joann fabric a bus ride away. That new quilter with her little notebook of quilting designs she saw on other people’s quilts.

I’ll write a book for her, I thought. It will have the basics. But not too much info. Nothing about metallic threads or fancy quilt show stuff. Only what she needs to jump in. It will have quilting designs, and it will have practice projects. Projects she can whip up quickly to practice just as much as she needs and then get back to her own creations.

And that’s what I wrote. I warned her against using dark threads on light fabrics. I gave her a troubleshooting guide so she wouldn’t pull her hair out when the machine started skipping stitches. I told her it didn't have to be perfect. I showed her good stitching, not amazing stitching. I put in everything she needed and nothing she didn’t.  And I’m happy with it.

I’m happy with it! And I’m happy to share it with you.

So here is the end of the book/blog tour and a final drawing!  I’ll pick a random commenter and send them a little package of FMQ love. The book, some needles and thread and gloves to get started, and other sewing room randomness. Thanks everyone for sharing my excitement about this book and for loving quilting as much as I do. To enter the drawing just leave a comment telling me something that made you happy this week. I’ll pick a winner October 11. The giveaway is over!

Oh, and if you didn't enter the other giveaways during this tour, a number of them are still open: 

9/25: Allison Rosen at Stash Books Blog 
9/26: Jessica Alexandrakis at Life Under Quilts 
9/27: Monica Solorio-Snow at Happy Zombie 
9/28: Susan Beal at West Coast Crafty 
9/29: Kathy Mack at Pink Chalk Studio 
9/30: Angela Walters at Quilting is my Therapy 
10/1: Amanda Jean Nyberg at Crazy Mom Quilts 
10/2: Megan Dye at Megs Monkey Beans
10/3: Victoria Findlay Wolfe at Victoria Findlay Wolfe Quilts 
10/4: Katie Pedersen at Sew Katie Did 
10/5: Christina Cameli at A Few Scraps

October 04, 2013


I have a quilter crush on Katie from Sew Katie Did. She is this total quilting powerhouse, she's classy, upbeat, relaxed. She is a font of great ideas. Even her hair is perfect. I'm totally beside myself that she is today's stop on the book tour! I really appreciated getting her perspective on the book, as a fellow FMQ teacher. Thank you, Katie!

I hope to see you all back here tomorrow for my very own giveaway. But for today, you can go enter Katie's!

October 03, 2013

The countdown

Just three days left on this blog tour! Today Victoria at V Findlay Wolfe Quilts was kind enough to share a little bit about the book. I am always impressed by how many Big Projects this lady takes on. She could run the world I think. I would probably vote for her for president. She embraces everything with an open heart and also knows when to say enough is enough. I love that. I hope we have drinks together someday. 

Today we are working on a Halloween calendar. Because if I have to answer how many more days to Halloween one more time I am going to flip. Just 27 more pumpkins to go!

So, did you enter Victoria's giveaway yet?  

October 02, 2013

Close to home!

Today I'm totally tickled to direct you to Monkey Beans, the blog of my dear friend Megan Dye. Megan and I met through the Portland Modern Quilt Guild and she has become a treasured confidant. She is an elegant parent, an inspired quilter, and a beacon of positivity and strength. I was so excited to see all the free-motion quilting she tried. Check it out and enter her giveaway too!

Oh! Portlanders, there are a few spots left in my beginner free motion quilting class at Modern Domestic next week.

October 01, 2013

Little surprises

One beginner FMQ technique I like to suggest is stitching along the lines of a printed fabric to get a decorative design on the other side of your quilt sandwich. Here's me trying that technique on "Cloud Cover" from the Joel Dewberry Bungalow line. I enjoy the surprise of seeing the pattern created on the other side, and it's a nice easy technique for practicing getting the stitches where you want them.

It is my great joy and privilege to send you to Amanda Jean's blog, Crazy Mom Quilts today. I know you already know her blog, because she is amazing. This woman: pillar of positivity, sister of scrap, off the charts on the talented and humble meters. I look up to her so much, thank you for giving my book a squeeze Amanda Jean! She stitched up my favorite project from the book. You can head over right now and enjoy her post and giveaway.

September 30, 2013

Is it your therapy too?

It is an honor and delight today on the blog tour to direct you to Quilting is my Therapy, the blog of the accomplished and friendly Angela Walters. This lady is truly amazing! Books, classes, quilting, fabric design. She gets a zillion things done every week I imagine. And I love that she approaches quilting not as simply finishing a quilt, but as extending its design, its message, into the texture and lines of the stitching. I've been so inspired by Angela's work. Today she's showing a sneak peak of a couple projects in the book! I hope you'll enter her giveaway and check out her free-motion quilting books as well.

September 29, 2013

Fall, and Pink Chalk Studio

Summer is officially over here. We ate our last watermelon and are onto pomegranates. There has been tons of rain. I fell asleep last night thinking about pumpkin hazelnut pasta. Ahhh. Time to get cozy.

I'm excited to point you over to Kathy at Pink Chalk Studio as today's stop on the blog tour. I'm someone who buys most of her fabric in brick and mortar stores, but when I get something online it's almost always from Kathy's store, Pink Chalk Fabrics. The selection is great and the shipping is fast. I love her little postcards with quilt sizes on the back and more than once I've turned to her "What goes with what?" series that matches recent fabric releases with coordinating solids. That's the kind of person Kathy is: the kind that thinks of things you didn't even know you needed! I love her classy and upbeat nature and I hope you stop by and enter her giveaway. Hope you're having a great weekend everyone!

September 28, 2013

Past President's Society

There's a running joke at the Portland Modern Quilt Guild that the last two past presidents each have a book out right now. I'm the other one. Susan Beal is the headliner. I'll be sure to tell you about her almost-out book when it's in my hot little hands but for now, I'll let Susan tell you about mine, because she's today's stop on the blog tour!

I feel so lucky to know Susan, with her friendly, soft-spoken, generous way. She gets so much done and makes such beautiful things and still keeps time for her friends and her family intact. She brought me the best food when our second baby was born. She gave me so much advice when I was staring at my first ever book contract. We live in the same neighborhood and our families sometimes meet on walks or at the park.  I hope you'll check out her post (with peeks at some of the book projects!) and then imagine us trying to have a sweet little talk about making raspberry sorbet while our four kids make/throw/eat a pile of chalk dust. Because that totally happened.

September 27, 2013

Step back! and Happy Zombie!

When I'm actually quilting is the time that I'm closest to my stitching. My face is less than a foot from whatever I'm working on and I can see every detail. Even when 95% of the stitches go where I want them, the other 5% torment me. But it turns out my feelings about my quilting are directly related to how close to it I am.

1 foot: We should burn this
2 feet: Was I drunk?
3 feet: Oh, hey, that looks good!

So that's my little meditation today. A lot of times we use "take a step back" to be figurative but when I take an actual step back from my quilting I find all my up-close distress melts away.

Today I'm just beside myself that my friend Monica at Happy Zombie is sharing a little bit about my book. If you somehow don't know her please go enjoy her gorgeous sewing, fabulous sense of humor and up-to-the-minute cultural references. This lady drives long distances to come to the Portland Modern Quilt Guild meetings and we are so lucky to have her vibrant, joyful personality and design inspiration around us. She loves sewing and she's great at it but she doesn't take it too seriously. What an awesome combination. Monica is giving away a copy of First Steps to Free-Motion Quilting too!

September 26, 2013

QAYG, and today's stop!

The two meanings of "quilt as you go" (QAYG) cause a lot of confusion in the quilting world. Kind of like the two meanings for "paper piecing". I keep seeing the "stitch some fabric onto batting then add another" kind of QAYG on Instagram, largely because of this Craftsy class. Everyone seems to be doing straight line quilting but I wanted to see if you can do this with free-motion quilting (that would be FMQ QAYG!!)

Yes, you can!

The reason I think no one does this is you want a perfectly straight line to attach each subsequent piece of fabric but then you want to FMQ each piece, without having to switch back and forth between the straight stitch and free motion feet.  Well, here's how I did that: by using my square ruler as a guide. I just moved the free motion foot right along the edge of it as I stitched. No need to switch anything. Curiosity satisfied, I stopped the project there but I'll pick it up again I'm sure.

And now I'm happy to send you to today's stop on the First Steps to Free-Motion Quilting blog tour: Jessica from Life Under Quilts. Jessica's story of approaching a free-motion project will probably sound familiar to everyone.

I love Jessica's heartfelt nature, her steadfast commitment to her craft, and her really personal artistic style. Jessica is the person who started me thinking about myself as a potential author.  Without her, the book simply wouldn't have been written, or not for a long time, at least. What was even better was that while I was writing the book, Jessica was writing one of her own! Always nice to have a friend who gets it. Even if that friend is someone you've never actually met. I hope you enjoy Jessica's post and giveaway!

September 25, 2013

First Steps to Free-Motion Quilting: it's on!

Hi everyone! I'm all aglow from some great quilting events last week, and thrilled to start off several days of book chatter and giveaways. I know I've been sort of quiet about what's inside this book. That was so I could let a bunch of fabulous bloggers tell you about it instead! I hope you enjoy what they have to show you.

The blog tour starts off today at my publisher, Stash Books. I have to tell you what great people they are. If you've ever thought about writing a book, please consider sending them your proposal! They were so thoughtful and caring every step of the way. They listened to all the ideas and concerns that I had and worked very hard to make this book as pretty and as thorough as I'd hoped. I even got flowers and cards from them on important occasions, like the birth of my baby and the arrival of my book (my other baby!). They are just such good, dedicated people.

Here is the entire tour schedule, full of people I adore:

9/25: Allison Rosen at Stash Books Blog 
9/26: Jessica Alexandrakis at Life Under Quilts 
9/27: Monica Solorio-Snow at Happy Zombie 
9/28: Susan Beal at West Coast Crafty 
9/29: Kathy Mack at Pink Chalk Studio 
9/30: Angela Walters at Quilting is my Therapy 
10/1: Amanda Jean Nyberg at Crazy Mom Quilts 
10/2: Megan Dye at Megs Monkey Beans
10/3: Victoria Findlay Wolfe at Victoria Findlay Wolfe Quilts 
10/4: Katie Pedersen at Sew Katie Did 
10/5: Christina Cameli at A Few Scraps

We've had a productive sewing week here. My daughter was so excited about the book release party she felt it simply required a new dress. She fell in love with this Joel Dewberry print while at Modern Domestic (well, her first choice was a Liberty of London print and I had to explain that some fabric is not for us mortals) and we turned it into a little frock that she loves, just in the nick of time. 

You'll be hearing more than usual from me during this blog tour, as I point you to wonderful blogs and book giveaways. Go ahead and start right now with the sweet post and giveaway at Stash Books! See you soon and have a great week! 

September 14, 2013


Am I too into free-motion quilting? Possibly. I made these stickers and I think I'm going to put one of them on my car. My husband should love that.

Marital bliss aside, if you live in Portland, I dearly hope to see your shining face this week. There's two ways we could make that happen.

First, I'm the guest speaker at this Thursday's PMQG meeting. This is such an honor. I get so excited when I get to teach something that I feel really passionate about. It's the best feeling. Thank you PMQG!

Second, book release free-motion quilting event! We're going to have a little party at Modern Domestic. Would you like to try your hand at free motion quilting for a few minutes? Would you like to see me do free motion quilting for a few minutes? Would you like some advice on finishing a quilt top you're stuck on? Or maybe you just want to watch me squirm when someone asks me to sign my book because I still feel on some deep level that one must not write in books? All these things can be yours at Modern Domestic, Friday 9/20, 6-8pm.  Seriously, come lay down some thread with me. Is that a saying? Let's make it a saying. Lay down some thread. You don't have to do any stitching of course, but if you want to, you totally should.

We'll have some copies of the book at both events, so if you like to buy local, you're covered! I'll even give you one of my FMQ stickers if you want one. Have a great weekend all!

September 09, 2013

Scraptacular quilted wristlet

Anytime I'm left with a little quilted scrap from a project, I save it. I can't really say I advise this sort of hoarding. I've amassed a box full of flotsam waiting for months (years?) on end to be turned into something worthwhile. 

But today, folks! Today I don't look like a weirdo who can't throw things away. No! Today I am the wizard who knew there was life in those little scraps. Today I'm the mad genius who cobbled them into a franken-wristlet. Today rocks. 

I joined my little pieces into panels using 1" strips. I ended up not needing all the pieces, so I suppose that means I'll be making another one!

It's the first time I've gone all the way with using a clasp for the strap, it's not hard at all and it makes the bag look so classy. Or, it would have made the bag look so classy if I'd taken a little more time making the corners look good. Ah well, sleep is important too. 

Thanks all for the delighted comments about using a print fabric for FMQ practice. I'm glad you think it's a good idea, too! The random number generator chose #10, Terri Hessler, to receive that pretty fat quarter of "Koi scalloped edge".  Happy stitching everyone.