Saturday, January 18, 2014

Coming Soon - A Quilt Along Quilt Project

The silhouette series is finished, so I'm off and flying with something very different. It will be a mystery, block of the month,  cooperative design, quilt along quilt. That's right, a bit of everything all rolled up into one!

Here's the breakdown of all those quilt elements.

  • A mystery quilt: It will be a mystery to me as well as those who join me in making it. A design-as-we-go project.
  • A block of the month: There will be at least one block every month, but I don't expect it to last a whole twelve months. The first block will be ready by March 1st, others will follow on the first of every month after that. I hope the last will be finished by November or December. Fingers crossed!
  • A cooperative design: I don't know what kinds of images or pieced patterns will go into every block. I will rely heavily on input from folks who joining in on making the project. Ideas are more than welcome, they are seriously needed!
The theme is "home".

We'll start off with a house in the middle for our first block. Other blocks related to house and home will surround the large house block. Perhaps a line of laundry and a pot of flowers, maybe a birdhouse or a sewing machine or both. What will we put in all of those blocks? You will have to help me with that. I really hope you share lots of comments and ideas in the comment section of this page. Makes me smile just to think about it.

This is the starting point.

The basic layout. Subject to changes as we go. :)
Patterns: Blocks made from patterns that don't require templates will be free, and instructions will be posted on this blog. I'll post the patterns containing templates on Craftsy and they will be reasonably priced. I may group some of the smaller blocks into one pattern.

I'll sew up two versions of each block and prepare the patterns. One block will be made with warm, traditional fabrics, the other with fabrics that are brightly colored and modern. I have two very different kinds of fabrics in mind for making my pairs of quilt blocks. I hope these will give you some ideas - and I'll wind up with two quilts! (Smiling again!)

For the quilt made in traditional fabrics, I'll likely combine some pieces from Moda's French General fabrics with bits of 19th century reproductions. I love the new line of the French General that comes out in March. Until it's available I can use coordinating fabrics from my stash to get started.

I love these colors! I"ll definitely add some greens and browns.

The other quilt will be bright and modern. I may go with scrappy from many different fabric lines and my stash, or I may use some of these new fabrics from Moda. I won't be sure about this line until I see it up close. It's called "Daydreams", and I've ordered a 10-inch layer cake. If I don't think it will work for this quilt I'll use it for something else later.

This needs the addition of darker greens and smaller print blues and pinks  for sure.

Wow! How different these two quilts will be!

I've been working on the first block for the last several days. This will be the large, center block. The templates are almost all made and I'll be ready to begin stitching on the first pair of blocks next week. 

This is the preliminary sketch for the house block. Many minor changes have been made,
but it  remains basically the same.
This block could also be used in a wall hanging or placed into another quilt. My hubby thinks I should make four of these houses, change them up to show the four seasons, and turn them into a wall hanging. Something for the future, maybe?

And that's it! 

I hope you'll join me in this adventure!

 Now, I'm headed downstairs to clean and oil my sewing machine.

Friday, January 17, 2014

A Year of Learning About Silhouettes and Mug Rugs

Earlier this week I posted the last of the patterns in my silhouette mug rugs series. I can't believe I actually completed a year's worth of children and their pets! Two mug rugs for each of twelve months - twenty four mug rug patterns in all!

Together at Last!

It's a good thing I didn't know from the beginning that these little characters would develop into a full year of active children and animals. But there they are, one after the other, playing together and making their way through changing seasons and across holidays. Had I been aware, the task would have been so intimidating that I likely would have been scared away. Drawing little people and animals so they come to life is hard! So is coming up with appropriate scenes for every month. Thank goodness I had so much support from my Craftsy friends and that they volunteered wonderful ideas at crucial moments. I would have been in quite a pickle had I been stuck on my own.

I started making patterns with absolutely no prior experience. Designing for myself and making patterns for others are entirely different procedures. It's been quite a learning curve. Along the way I made mistakes, like forgetting to reverse the template for the boy in the July pair and drawing the template of one of the dogs a bit strangely. Then there was the pattern I posted with missing template pages! Yikes! Thank goodness, I heard about those errors right away! My feelings do not get hurt when mistakes are pointed out! I'm just grateful to know so that I can make corrections right away.

Two of my best friends!

 A Few Things I Learned About Mug Rugs:

1. Mini-quilts take patience. That goes for designing and preparing templates as well as for stitching them up. I've changed a number of procedures in template making and in construction.

2. Don't lay the fusible web upside down on your fabric when you're ready to iron. Trying to clean a badly gummed up iron can ruin your day.

3. Always use a stabilizer behind small applique pieces or you may find gathers in the fabrics.

4. Starch is good, especially on binding. When you press and turn starched binding for final stitching, that pressed fold will be crisp and clean and will need little or no pinning.

Tricks Specific to Silhouettes

1. Double the patience with silhouette mug rugs. Never, never pick up the scissors when you're in a hurry. Cut carefully and slowly. Zigzag stitch around the applique pieces patiently. Small errors tend to magnify on little people and animals.

2. Use a very sharp, very small scissors for accuracy when cutting out the templates.

3. Never cut or stitch silhouettes when you are tired! A child might lose a finger, a dog might get a deformed nose, and you just might wear out your seam ripper or use words you don't want your children to hear.

Above all, have fun when making mini quilts. They finish very quickly even though you work slowly, and each little completed work of art is something you can enjoy privately and share proudly.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

A Year of Online Adventure

It's the end of my very first year designing little quilts and sewing patterns. I can't believe I posted my very first pattern for sale just a year ago this week! What a year it has been! I really hadn't planned to start a business.

My fist pattern - "Coffee Break Apron"
I'd been enjoying the Craftsy website for over a year when it finally dawned on me that the "Indie" designers on Crafsy were not all professionals. Some were just ordinary folks who liked to make things from their own designs - like me. I wondered what would happen if I tried to design a pattern. I'd recently made a child's apron pattern for my niece, but would anyone actually be interested in purchasing my designs?

There was only one way to find out. The worst that could happen would be that no one would buy anything. I could live with that. So I designed a little apron and posted the pattern. A few patterns sold. Nice! I think that even one sale would have been enough to encourage enough to try more. Pattern designing was exciting!

I added more patterns to my little store. Maybe I could find a magic formula. "Spring Table Runner" was the second pattern published in January. 
"Spring Table Runner"

I followed up with mug rugs in February, "March House" and the "March Wind" silhouette.  I picked up a few more customers and friends. I was on a roll!

"March House"
The business started very slowly at first, but I was meeting new people on the Craftsy website and making cyber-friends from around the world. It was lovely. The, with the "April Showers" silhouette mug rugs something happened. My pattern shop suddenly blossomed with business and I met so many new friends that I was overwhelmed. Wow! Some people really liked my little stitchables!

Well from there, a Facebook page evolved, and eventually this little blog came into being.

This month marks the end of an amazing year for me. I'm still in shock!

Most of all, I'm so glad to have found all of you!!