Friday, January 31, 2014

Shades of Black

I have been doing my best to make more time for sewing and quilting...and setting aside a little bit of time to try out the newest AccuQuilt dies - specifically, the dies in the fall "stash buster" collection. There were twelve new GO! dies in the last release and one of these dies is the GO! Equilateral Triangle (4.5" sides - 4.25" finished). It seems equilateral triangles are currently 'all the rage', so I was excited to have a little time at my sewing machine to play with this versatile shape. Last night, I decided to grab some black and white fabrics from my stash (Shades of Black by Me & My Sister Designs for Moda) and started cutting triangles...I was cutting without a particular project in mind, but quickly decided on a pillow cover. I cut 42 triangles, but ended up only needing 32 for my pillow cover...the rest I will use for another project. The GO! 4.5" Equilateral Triangle die makes things extremely easy by cutting off the dog ears and placing notches on two sides to quickly line up your pieces for sewing.




I was able to sew the triangles into rows with lightning speed...and in no time, I was quilting my patchwork. I used fusible fleece instead of batting...and using my presser foot as a guide, quilted zig-zag lines about a 1/2" apart, covering the entire piece - giving the quilting a chevron look. I then used a fun floral print (Sun-kissed by Michele D'Amore Designs for Benartex) to make an envelope back with a Velco closure.



....and the results were exactly what I wanted - a beautiful pillow cover in just a couple hours. I used a 14" pillow form, although the cover was slightly larger (I didn't want to cut off the tops and bottoms of my outer rows of triangles). This die is definitely a winner and I can see using it for TONS of future projects! I am just thrilled with the results and plan to send this beauty off to a good friend who LOVES black & white color combinations...


As I have a chance to work with the other AccuQuilt GO! dies in this collection, I will be sure to share the results with you...I have a plethora of fun ideas and hope to do a little more fabric cutting later today...fingers crossed....

Thursday, January 30, 2014

"Flurry Friends"

Here is a little peek of another upcoming BRD release titled "Flurry Friends". I finished the model stitching last night and will have more details for you soon. If you are a Blue Ribbon Designs fan, then you may remember I did a couple wintry kitchen towel designs for Cross Stitch & Needlework Magazine over a year ago - this design combines the two towel designs into one and the chart will include the new large design and the two kitchen towel designs. This snowy design is (of course) perfect for framing, but I think I am going to change things up a bit...I'm still deciding what I want to do with it...I just know it will be something fun and different from the usual frame. As soon as it is ready to be revealed, I will be back with more information for you!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Perfect for Pressing

There are a lot of things happening in my world right now...I am model stitching new releases, I am sewing up a storm (some commissioned work, some personal pieces, and some Etsy items), I am working on a fancy new look for my BRD website, and I am hammering out several large deadlines.

This past weekend, I was quite busy in my studio, working on several sewing projects...including a birthday gift for a dear friend. She is a dog lover, just like me, so I used some fun cotton quilting prints to make her a pincushion. The top is a broken dishes quilt block using Max & Whiskers by BasicGrey for Moda...and the bottom is an adorable dog bone print (Man's Best Friend designed for Exclusively Quilters). I pinned on a wool felt heart and added some decorative pins for a special touch...just a small surprise to brighten her birthday!


My old iron...
But, there is a little more to the story...after getting all the shapes cut for the pincushion and the initial piecing done, I went to my trusty old Oliso TG800 iron to do a little pressing...and when I turned it on, nothing happened...it had completely died. Now, I can't say that I am surprised, as Travis had bought me this iron in early 2006 and I pretty much have it running for hours every single day - I am not sure what the average life of an iron is, but after using this one daily for 8 years, I feel like it held up REALLY well - I'm mean, let's face it, I am extemely hard on an iron! I had known for a couple months that it was on it's last leg, as it was acting a little quirky, but I was pretty much devastated when it refused to turn on. My husband happened to be out running errands and I called and asked him to pick me up a cheap iron, just to get by until I had a chance to get a new Oliso. Well, to my surprise, he returned home with a new Oliso Pro (TG1600) - woohoo! - a newer fancier model designed for quilters and sewers - I was so excited - giddy, really...I know, I know, it's only an iron, but this is a top-of the-line iron for a quilter and when you use it daily, all the extra perks with this model make a HUGE difference. He called it my early birthday gift...and although I think birthday gifts should be "pretty, not practical", I will happily accept this one! Right away, I could see improvements and changes...like a longer cord - my old model had an 8' cord, but the new one has a 12' cord - so much better! Another thing I am happy about - the stay on time is quite a bit longer - my older iron shut-off after 8 minutes of no use...the new one shuts-off after 30 minutes of no use - so much better when quilting! I know an iron is really personal preference and there are good and bad reviews about every single model out there - but after the great experience I had with my first Oliso, I am just thrilled to have a new one...and I am hoping it will last at least 8 years (or more!)...


So with my fancy new yellow iron heated up and ready to go, I am off to press a pile of quilt blocks with a big smile on my face...it is truly the little things that bring me happiness!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Key To My Heart

I just love working on projects for Valentine's Day - it makes me happy to work with red, pink, and white fabrics...and I have fun with heart shapes/motifs. I have been working with various Valentine fabrics in my stash, along with an assortment of wool felts, and enjoying every minute of it! I managed to finish up a pile of pincushions (tiny decorative pillows) - the pincushion tops are machine appliqué (assorted felts on quality quilting fabric)...and the backs are quilting fabric, as well (the retired collection Hearts Aflutter by Sandy Gervais for Moda). On several pieces, I added a small pink lace flower for a special touch...and each one has a couple decorative pins too! They are various sizes - some square and some rectangular...and I was just tickled with how each one turned out...

If you are looking for a sweet (inedible) Valentine treat to add to your collection...or if you are looking for a special gift...you can find a dozen of these heartfelt pincushions listed in my Etsy shop, ready for shipping...


Sunday, January 26, 2014

"Simply Sweet"

Here is just a little peek of an upcoming BRD release titled "Simply Sweet". I finished the model stitching last week and will have more details for you soon - this will be design number two in the Seasonal Samplings Series. This delicate design is perfect for framing, but I think I am going to change things up a bit and finish it into a pillow as an alternative...I'm still working on the perfect plan. As soon as it is ready to be revealed, I will be back with more information for you!


Plus, I should have a sneak peek of "Flurry Friends" for you later this week...my needle has been working overtime...

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Friendship Pillows

This year, for holiday gifts, I made several friendship pillows. Pillows are a great way to show off machine embroidery, along with quilting and patchwork!

The machine embroidered center of each pillow is a digitized design by my friend Shelli at Needle In A Haystack Designs called "True Friend Sampler"...Shelli does designs for both hand and machine embroidery - her digitized designs for machine embroidery are available at SWAKembroidery.com...and many of her hand embroidery patterns are available online at Pine Needles. I used beautiful rayon machine embroidery threads to match the fabrics I chose for each recipient...and embroidered the design on a natural unbleached single face quilted muslin fabric.

The patchwork/assembly part of each pillow is my own design. I used my AccuQuilt GO! Fabric Cutter to cut 2.5" squares (in some cases I used a mini charm pack) and 1.5" strips of cotton quilting fabric to frame the embroidery. I used an envelope pillow back with a Velcro closure...and even serged the inside raw edges to make the pillow covers washable.

I am thinking of putting together a few of these for my Etsy shop and already have several of the embroideries completed...you know, for my shoppers needing a handmade gift for a friend...




If you are a quilter or sewer/sewist, I hope this post will encourage you to add a little hand or machine embroidery to your next project....

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

A Pair of Pink Ornaments

Now that all of my handmade holiday gifts have been distributed, I can share a couple with you. The ornaments shown in today's post were made for my dear friends Mary and Lorrie...they both have a "pink" Christmas tree on display during the holidays...and I thought, what could be better than a pink cross stitched ornament to add to each of their collections?. The stitched design is Christmas Keepsakes II from JBW Designs...and I stitched them on 40-count Wild Rose hand-dyed fabric from Lakeside Linens with Anchor cotton embroidery floss. I used a pair of Oval Metal Needlework Finishing Forms (1 3/4" x 2 1/2") from Flying Needles to finish each one and made two-tone twisted cord from DMC cotton embroidery floss. The back of each ornament is fussy cut cotton quilting fabric (Colorful Christmas by My Mind's Eye for Riley Blake Designs)...I wanted to back to be just as cute as the front! These were a quick stitch, easy to finish, and I thought they turned out adorable. Finishing forms are a quick way to make your handmade ornaments look professional...they come in a variety of shapes and sizes...they are cost effective...and they are quite versatile, as you can embellish both sides to suit your needs...



Each December, I pull out my ornament project bag and work on several hand-stitched holiday decorations...this year I realized my project bag has over 25 ornaments that are stitched and ready for finishing...and since I really enjoy the finishing process, I need to get them put together for next year - time to pull out my big bag of finishing forms and make a dent in the pile. Plus, Mary and Lorrie want to get together later this year and have an ornament finishing party, so we will have to get that on the calendar for a "friendship Friday" (doesn't that sound like fun?!)...maybe I will actually get an early start on gifts for next year...

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Prize Package Pondering...

Have you visited the Therm O Web blog before??...well, it is one of my favorites. They are always posting fun tutorials and creative ideas...and yes, they have lots of great giveaways! If you haven't heard of Therm O Web - they are a prominent adhesive manufacturer in the craft and fabric markets...they produce quality iron-on adhesives for fabrics, along with an extensive line of adhesives for hobbies and scrapbooking. I have their blog saved in my reader and at least several times a week it inspires me. During December, they hosted a "12 Days of Giveaways" with some FABULOUS prizes...and (to my surprise) I just happened to be the big winner on day 10! My prize package arrived yesterday (it couldn't have come at a better time) and it included: a selection of four Thermo O Web HeatnBond® products, a fat quarter stack from Camelot Fabrics ("Naughty Puppies"), and some coordinating spools of Coats Threads (Paper Piecing Thread, Bold Hand Quilting Thread, and Embroidery Thread). Now to decide what to create with my new stash...any ideas???...


Saturday, January 11, 2014

The Gift of Friendship

It has been quite the week and I could really use a do-over with less stress and hassle (I know, we all have them at sometime or another...but WOW, this week has been a doozy) - "it is what it is" and I am just trying to move forward with a (somewhat) positive attitude and hope the black cloud following me dissipates soon.

On a MUCH happier note, I was finally able to get together with my dear friends, Mary and Lorrie, for our belated holiday celebration a little over a week ago - we had postponed our friendship Friday before Christmas due to bad weather, so we had a little post-holiday celebration. We met at one of my favorite local restaurants and enjoyed a lovely fireside lunch...we chatted and laughed and just enjoyed the afternoon...and of course, we exchanged gifts. Both Mary and Lorrie are extremely generous and thoughtful and I had loads of packages to unwrap...and I wanted to share a few of the unique and creative gifts with you...

Lorrie made me a GORGEOUS quilted table runner that matches my dining room decor perfectly!...and she also cross-stitched a beautiful bread cloth for me...



Mary has a special knack for finding great gifts...and she gave me a bag FULL of  treasures to unwrap...including a fabulous large wooden spool wrapped with twine and a smaller wooden spool wrapped with a silver/string bracelet!...and in the top right photo, you will see an adorable glass cupcake pedestal/dome Mary found - isn't it wonderful?! - I just *had to* bake cupcakes last night, so it wouldn't be lonely (and to comfort me after this past crazy week). She also sparked my creativity with a book that has been on my wishlist forever...and I can't believe I didn't get a photo of the squirrel mug with the words "NUTS ABOUT YOU" on the back...



It was THE BEST afternoon with friends and I feel extremely blessed to have both of them in my life...my months wouldn't be the same without "friendship Friday" and the joy these two bring me...I am a very lucky girl!

So now, I am off to salvage what is left of the weekend...to try and clear off my desk top...and to do some much needed model stitching...and, and, and... Wishing you a creative and productive weekend...

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Pretty Little Pincushion

It is no surprise that I am always on the lookout for fun and unique pins and pincushions, so when this adorable spool arrived in my mailbox just before the holidays, I did a little squeal! - isn't it fabulous?! - it was the absolute perfect surprise! I am such a fan of Just Another Button Company and their whimsical designs and products...and this gift made me smile immediately! I have tons of their buttons and pins in my stash...and even a few kits - so when this special spool arrived, I decided to go through my stash and pull out a JABCO project to complete this year (hopefully soon, but I am not going to pressure myself with my current workload)...I decided upon the "Sew Charming" pincushion kit - I just adore this bluebird sitting on a tuffet...and there is even a little heart pocket to hold scissors or a thimble. The kit contains all the materials to make the pincushion...including the tape measure trim, the buttons, and the pins...all you need is a needle and thread and the needlework treasure you want to place in the heart pocket...I think I can handle that! I plan to put this at the top of my "snow day" pile and hope to make a little time to work on it soon...


I have also added a new book to my wishlist...yep, Just Another Button Company has a new book titled "Pincushion Appeal" - I am sure this title will *need* to be added to my studio library...because, as we all know, I have an addiction...


...and if you aren't familiar with the Just Another Button Company blog and are looking for some pincushion inspiration, you should definitely check it out...it is full of eye candy that just may give you and idea or two (or three):
http://justanotherbuttoncompany.com/blog/

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Snowman Saturday...

The start of this new year has been a bit of a whirlwind - I am knee deep in a several large projects with fast approaching deadlines (some things I can't wait to share with you!) and I have barely come up for air...but I realized I have a handful of blog posts to do, so I thought I would take a quick break and share some creativity with you!

Like many of you, here in Iowa, we are experiencing below zero temperatures, terrible winds, and lots of snow...and it doesn't seem to improving any time soon....which is fine when I can stay inside and stitch or sew, but not so much fun when walking the dogs each day. I was just thinking it would be fun to go out and play in the snow and  make snow angels or build a snowman, but it is just too darn cold and windy...so here is the next best thing, some snowmen I can share from my warm and cozy studio. These snowmen were all gifts from my very dear friend Terri, who sent me a wonderful themed Christmas package...and I just had to share them with you! She sent a wool snowman pincushion (upper right) that uses the cutest single mini bundt mold for a base (see photo inset)...I just think this is ADORABLE! The package also included a gorgeous wool appliqué runner - which makes me smile, as the sled is so much bigger than the snowman - isn't is wonderful?! I currently have it on display on my living room coffee table...


She also sent this very fun snowman cookie platter...well actually, most of you would call it a plate...but I envision it covered with tasty treats from the kitchen...in fact, I think I need to make time for some baking!


And, if all that wasn't enough, how about these fabulous machine embroidered kitchen towels?? - I think I need to make some of these with my machine for gifts next year...they definitely brighten up my kitchen!!


So how's that for a snow day??...and I didn't even have to brave the winter cold!

I will be quilting up a storm this afternoon...and I will be nice and toasty warm. I hope you can find some time to be creative this weekend - and for those of you experiencing the same weather, stay safe and be sure to bundle up if you head outside...have a happy weekend!