Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Off my Rocker? Aurifil's 2015 Jan Mini-Quilt

Greetings fellow quilters and bloggers -- it's been a couple of weeks since I last blogged and I do apologize. I've been a little under the weather and moving at a snails pace. 

On one of my "good days" last weekend I had a hankering to make something that didn't require my creativity but still allowed me a bit of a challenge.   Turn to... something pieced. 

Ya'll know that piecing is NOT my forte'.  I'm an applique (wool or cotton) girl at heart.   However, when I saw this sweet little mini-quilt, Flurry, designed by Gudrun Erla for Aurifil, I couldn't take my eyes off it.  Isn't it just the cutest little mini?
Image Auribuzz.wordpress.com ~ Flurry by GEQuiltDesigns.com
Gudrun was interviewed by Pat Sloan for Aurifil Thread.  You can get to know her and find the link to the Flurry mini-quilt on the Auribuzz blog by clicking here. 

Now grab a cuppa and work through this sweet mini with me.  I'll share the tips that helped me out and approximate times it took to complete each step.  It really was fun! 

Don't forget... if you share your quilt top on the Aurifil Flickr group you're eligible to win a box of Auriful thread!!  Woohoo -- you can NEVER have enough Aurifil thread.

After downloading the pattern I spent an hour or so pressing and cutting my fabric per the pattern instructions.  Enter, this darling red print "Floral Gatherings" by Primitive Gatherings for Moda.  I've had this little pretty in my stash for a bit -- it was time to put it to good use.  Paired with that, I used "Indigo" by Moda and decided to reverse the colors as Gudrun originally designed.

Before we get too far, let's not forget to discuss the perfect thread.   I used Aurifil 50Wt Mako Cotton in color #2370 (Sandstone).  Aurifil 50Wt thread is fine, so it adds to the accuracy of your piecing... this applique girl could use all the help she could get!!
Here we go... now before you get started:

Here's a tip:  It's really important to know that you have OR test your scant 1/4" seam allowance.  I explained how to do this last year in the Redbird and Berries Mini Quilt recipe for the Moda Bake Shop -- you can see that recipe here.    Pat Sloan did a similar post earlier this year - you can see it here.    In summary, sew (3) 2-1/2" squares together side by side, set seams, press toward the outside, flip right side up, and measure your inside piece.  It should measure exactly 2" wide.   It's really important on this mini to have an accurate scant 1/4" seam allowance.
Image from Moda Bake Shop - Redbird and Berries Mini Quilt
Onto Step 1....   

Step 1 consisted of making 8 Half Square Triangles (HST) and trimming them to 1-1/2"... Feeling confident -- I can do this!!   HST's made... now to press them open.

Here's a tip:  The pattern calls for the HST to be pressed toward the red fabric.  Did you know if you position your sewn piece with the upside being the side you are suppose to press toward that it makes it easier to "set the seam" and then press it toward that direction?  Try it... for each step in the pattern, when you're suppose to press toward "xyz" make sure you lay the sewn piece with that side up.  Press once to "set the seam" then use your fingers to fold the seam back and press again.   It helps to remember that whatever side is showing is the side your seam will be pressed toward.   Does this help?

Here's the image before I opened them -- after I "set the seam":
Here is the image after I set the seam, opened the seam and pressed again.   The seams are all pressed toward the red and they didn't need to be moved again to accomplish this step.  Love that!
Now for the trimming to 1-1/2" square.   By now I'm already starting to curse Alex, Pat and Gudrun for not having an applique mini -- but keeping focused I continued on...   Ha ha ha ha...

Here's a tip:  If you have one, NOW is the time to use the mini rotating cutting mat to trim your HST's.  This way you don't have to reposition your fabric to trim all 4 sides.   My DH gave me one for Christmas 2013 -- finally -- a chance to use it (you see - I never piece). 
Step 1: Total time 23 minutes!! Includes boo-boo  (Can you believe I stitched ON THE LINE -- maybe it was the cough medicine -- ya - that was it!)

Onto Step 2.  Ok lets follow the pattern again -- sew the HST's to the solid pieces.  That wasn't too bad --  I'm back to the "I can do this" mode....
Step 2:  Total time  23 minutes 

Onto Step 3.  Ok here is where I read twice and took care to position the pieces exactly as the pattern calls for - thankfully I did it right the first time.

Having fun again!  Here is where I send an image to my sisters and say "Look, I'm piecing"... ha ha ha...
Step 3: Total time 15 minutes (no boo-boo's)

Onto Step 4:  I had pre-marked the diagonal line on my 1-1/2" squares after cutting them so I was ready to align and sew out of the gate.  (Yay!)

Here's a tip:  Consider chain piecing when you're making these 8 pieces -- it allows you to be more efficient at your sewing, saves time and thread and that means saving money!!  Here is an image after chain stitching 1/2 of this step.   I did cut my pieces apart before I sewed and chain stitched the other side.
OK - both sides sewn, trimmed, and pressed....  Whew...  I'm not sure they're square but I'm rolling with it by now (am I really making this pieced mini quilt ??)
Step 4: Total time 15 minutes (no boo-boo's)

Onto Step 5 - sewing WOF strips, cutting and making 4 patch units  -- I can do this ;)  Here we go....

Here's a tip: This is another opportunity to chain stitch -- feeding each 4 patch unit in one behind the other - FAST!!
Step 5: Total time 17 minutes (don't judge ;)   ha ha ha....

Onto Step 6...  be sure to follow the directions as written -- I had to rip twice on this step (how did I do that ??)   Anyhow... No pictures of this one.

Step 6: Total time 22 minutes (ripped twice ?? maybe to align my points ?? - I forget...)

Onto Step 7.... Now we're making some 9 patches...  Humh.... I guess I can do this piecing thing if I just take my time, enjoy the process and pay attention to details.   I'm not one to do a lot of pinning but:

Here's a tip:  If you're aiming to improve accuracy - be sure to nest your seams and pin there -- it does make a difference, especially if you're a novice like me.   Also, chain piece here too!

No pictures for Step 7 - I'm seeing the end in sight and getting excited -- way ahead of myself and forgot to take pictures :(

Step 7: Total time 30 minutes

Onto Step 8 - If you weren't sure of your seam allowance before, you'll be sure to find out with this step.  If you pre-cut your pieces before sewing then they'll fit a perfect 1/4 " seam allowance or be too big or small otherwise.   Fingers crossed...

Whew - worked out just fine...  Step 8 done.
Step 8: Total Time 12 Minutes

Onto Step 9 -- WOOHOO!!  Happy Dance... I still have hair left on my head...  Lets get this 3 x 3 sewn together now

Here's a tip:  Pin, Pin, Pin -- there are a few seams to align -- I pinned mine.  It only took a few minutes and was so worth it!!   Someday maybe I'll graduate to big girl piecing but for now,  pinning is my piece of mind.

Oh my gosh look -- I'm almost done -- I'm so happy and kinda proud that I could do this...
Step 9:  Total Time 27 minutes

Onto the final -- Step 10.  Adding those borders - here's another case where an inaccurate seam allowance will getcha....  I took a few minutes and squared my block before adding the borders.  A 1/16 trim here and there and the whole block squared up nicely.    Yay !
Step 10: Total Time with Squaring 18 minutes

Oh my goodness I'm completely thrilled to have made this cute mini -- many thanks to Aurifil, Pat Sloan and especially Gudrun Erla for the awesome pattern and instructions.  It was fun to make and total sewing, fussing, pressing time was under 3.5 hours!!
Now to contemplate the quilting -- we'll save that for another day.

Be sure to get your mini quilt made -- and follow the directions on the Auribuzz blog for entering your mini into the Aurifil thread giveaway.  There is no better thread for piecing, needle turn applique and dense quilting.

Happy Sewing and thanks for stopping by!
Karen

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Top 14 of 2014 and Do You EQ?

Greetings fellow quilters!!

There's been so much happening in the first few weeks of 2015 I've not taken any time to blog.  I do hope you've been keeping up with my goings on at Facebook or Instagram.  Happy New Year!

I have a couple of fun things to share today.  

This is my first attempt at a quilt design using the Electric Quilt 7 software.  I purchased this software months ago and never found the time to open it.   Finally -- with an upcoming Moda Bake Shop design looming, I decided to break down, install the software, and give it a try.    Here's a sneak peek of the starter design:
I had a bit of a learning curve getting started, but I was happy to get something drafted.

I'm using Laundry Basket Quilts "Heart's Content" fabric for this quilt (grab a Layer Cake) -- and was able to download the fabric swatch images from Moda's site.  It's so cool -- you can fill in the EQ7 quilt blocks with the exact fabric you're going to use - I love that!!

Here's a picture of the design before I installed EQ7.... Pencil and paper... the old fashioned way:
Stay tuned in February when I share this new tutorial and quilt design on the Moda Bake Shop....

Speaking of which -- On January 1st, 2015 the Moda Bake Shop published their Top 14 viewed Recipes of 2014 and I'm thrilled to say that Redbird and Berries was the #1 recipe for the year!!   Oh My Goodness I was really blown away -- so honored.
Thank you all again for your continued support and encouragement and many thanks (again) to the Moda Bake Shop -- what a great way for aspiring designers to get their work online!!

You can see the complete list of the Top 14 in 2014 by clicking here.   There are some really great recipes there - do check it out.   You can see the Redbird and Berries recipe by clicking here.

Before I go -- I wanted to share this image of a female Northern Cardinal hanging around the bird feeders at our home.  
It's really unusual to see a female cardinal that is as brilliant as the red male cardinal -- this little girl takes the cake.  Every time I see her at the feeders I grab the camera and run (sneak) to the window to take a shot.  So beautiful.
If you're interested  you can see more songbird images at our feeders by clicking here.

Thanks for stopping by today - I'll be back soon!

Hugs,
Karen

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

It's Christmas! Where DID the year go?

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!! 
Thank You dear blogging friends for your support and encouragement throughout 2014 and wishing you all the very best this holiday season.
2014 was an exciting year -- here's a quick review -- being thankful...
In addition to the start-up of Redbird Quilt Co, 2014 afforded me opportunities to publish my own designs and tutorials, teach at local shops and guilds, share my love of applique and free motion quilting with many wonderful inspiring ladies, AND work with some very talented individuals in the industry.

Thanks go out to the Moda Bake Shop for taking a chance on me late in 2013 and publishing my first recipe, the Family Tree Quilted Envelope pillow.  
A few months later in 2014, I was honored to publish my (now) favorite recipe, the Redbird and Berries Mini Quilt.
And just last month I had the honor to create the fun Heart's Content Decorative Pillow using Laundry Basket Quilts beautiful Heart's Content line. 
I love to create with new lines from Moda.  Great designers, beautiful fabrics, and endless design flexibility.  It's heaven for an aspiring designer!

Thanks also goes out to the Bear Creek Quilting Company for working with me to publish free tutorials on their blog.  You can learn a bit about 3D flowers, bias stems and crosshatching on the Bouquet Memories wall hanging tutorial.
 -- or if you need a free motion quilting primer be sure to check out the Free Motion Quilting Fun tutorial on their blog. 
Thank you Shari for taking a chance on me - it's so much fun to work with you!

... And where would I be without the local shops, guilds and students that have given me a start.   The lovely partners at Quilters Corner in Ithaca NY climbed out on a limb and hosted my first ever wool applique pattern and class, Spring Basket
and then opened the door for me to teach other sewing and quilting classes at their beautiful and inspirational shop (Celebrating their 20th Anniversary in 2015!)   Thank you Linda, Cyndi and Katie. 

I'm looking forward to teaching the Winter semester classes including Wooly Wren, Feathered Garden Lattice and Free Motion Quilting Feathers (on a domestic).
How about a shout-out to the fine ladies at Sew It Is fabric shop (Moda fabrics at FANTASTIC prices) and Patchwork Angels Quilt Shop (my awesome Janome dealer).  These local shops are wonderful places to get inspired AND buy fabric, notions and machines at great prices (and they're only a few minutes from my home). Thank you Cindy and Rose.

A few other local shops that supported my habits (and giveaways) were Sew Pieceful in Savona, O'Susannah's Quilt Shop in Watkins Glen and Golden Lane in Penn Yan, NY.   Gosh we're blessed with fantastic shops in New York State!  Thank you MaryJo, Sue and Aida. 

I also want to mention the guilds where I've taught or lectured this year including New Quilters on the Block in Candor, NY -- these ladies made some beautiful Spring Basket toppers this summer (see them on Pinterest here).  There were other Finger Lakes guilds that kindly brought me in for my Moda Bake Shop Chef Lecture and Trunk Show.

Thank you Keuka Quilters and the Lake to Lake Quilt Guild.
I'm honored that you gave this small town girl a chance (and we had so much fun!).

Also special thanks to Aurifil for sharing their awesome products with me.  Aurifil provided a hugebundle of threads for me to give away in 2014 -- stay tuned -- they'll be more Aurifil giveaways soon.  
I love Aurifil thread!
If you have a notion to learn needle turn applique - you can peruse Teardrops of Love, a multi-part needle turn applique tutorial that features Aurifil thread -- oh the results are dreamy!!
Lastly, special thanks to my husband, my sisters Janet and Michele, my mentor Debbie, and my very talented blogging friend Wendy Sheppard who adopted me and invited me to play with patterns in her newly released book "Recreating Antique Quilts"  You can see my review and quilt reveal of Wendy's Garden Lattice pattern here.
Oh the list of inspiration and support goes on and on.

Whats coming in 2015 ??  
More patterns, more free tutorials, more lectures and workshops at Guilds and Groups near and far, more classes.... AND....  

I'm planning...

My First Ever Trip to Spring Quilt Market !!  

I'm over the top excited about that -- Woohoo! 

... And immediately following Quilt Market how about two days of FMQ classes with the very talented Karen McTavish in HER Studio!!  Woot woot!

Insert cartwheels here!! 

Bring on 2015 - I can't wait to share with you, learn from you and be inspired by you.  
Many, many thanks for your continued support!

Leaving you with a family photo of my husband and I with our 8 lovely grandchildren - ages 16 to 4.  We never tire of spending time and sharing ourselves with this crew.  We are very blessed and thankful for our children, grandchildren and family.
Miller Grandchildren ~ 2014 December ~ Photo courtesy my sister Michele Morningstar (at her home)
Here's to a very Merry Christmas and a blessed New Year!
Hugs,
Karen

Monday, December 8, 2014

Wool Flower Tutorial and Giveaway -- A Winner!

Many thanks to everyone that played along in the Little Wool Flower Tutorial and Giveaway.
It was sew much fun to read about the projects that you have underway.  I'm sending quilty blessings to those that have Christmas deadlines -- may your stitches be straight and finish be great (and on-time). 

Also special thanks to the Redbird Quilt Co Facebook fans -- the tutorial was shared wide and far and it's always exciting to see new faces and excitement on Facebook -- thank you!

Now... on with the winner:  I have these 5 pieces of beautiful Bunny Hill Pastel Wools to share...

Between the blog and Facebook participants there were a total of 88 entries for the giveaway.   

I engaged Mr. Random Generator to choose a  winner - drum roll please!
Entry number 51 is :
Congratulations aus_chick!  I've sent you an email !  Woohoo -- I know you're going to LOVE this wool.

More Giveaways: 

For those of you that would like to get in on some other awesome Giveaways this week -- please jump over to Sew Mama Sew's Giveaway Day posts (below).  There are hundreds of talented bloggers giving away fantastic prizes (I saw many great Aurifil giveaways!!)


Sew Mama Sew Giveaway Post for Handmade Goods

My friend Jan at Sew and Sow Farm blog is giving away two different collections of Aurifil thread!!  Really -- what an awesome giveaway.   You can see her post and get in on this great giveaway by clicking here.  Tell her Karen says HI!!

Thanks again for the fun all - have a blessed week.

Karen

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Who Needs Fabric!

It's been a crazy busy week here in Gramma Karen land and I never had to chance to take advantage of Black Friday, Small Business Saturday or Cyber Monday.   
Darn - how can that be ?

I'm fortunate to have many wonderful full service shops within 50 miles of home -- and I was a bit dismayed that I couldn't get out to visit any of them {insert sad face here}.
When I finally got a chance to shop around this week, I found 3 different 12 Days of Christmas celebrations going on at local shops!  Yippee!!  
(Is it bad to be participating in 3 different 12 Days of Christmas sales ?)   
Yep - that's me!

I also found some FANTASTIC prices on Fabric at another local shop SewItIs.   
I just had to share with you!

My friend Cindy runs this sweet little local shop which includes a big online business. 
If you're in the market for some of the latest fabric lines you've got to checkout the sale prices that are effective through the end of day Sunday at SewItIs

Do you love Moda Fabric -- WOW -- look at these prices !!
How about Moda Crazy for Red by Minick and Simpson WOW!!
And the ever so beautiful Hearts Content line by Edyta Sitar...  Fantastic price!
This line was calling my name -- I could NOT resist $6.00 a yard for Moda Castlewood by Jan Patek.
How about Jo Morton for $6.90 a yard... 
And the ever so popular Kim Diehl Vintage Farmhouse for $7.20 a yard -- wowser!
Even beautiful Pam Buda Reds for only $8.50 a yard.
The list goes on and on and on.

So if you're looking for fabric at a great price, swing by the SewItIs Online Store and stock up. 

While you're there check out the wide backings, batiks, precuts AND an awesome price on the newly released Primitive Gatherings Muslin Flannel - oh my gosh it's to drool over!  (ummm... I had to order some).

May all your shopping wishes come true.

Don't forget about the little wool giveaway I have going on right now - click here to get in on the fun!  And thanks so much for all your great feedback!  Makes my day.

Thanks for stopping by,
Karen


Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Little Wool Flower Tutorial with Giveaway

Call me delinquent on the wool flower tutorial and serve me up 50 lashes with a wet noodle!! 

Life (and grandkids, and work, and holidays, and shopping) definitely jumped in front of me the last 10 days and stole my time.   I am though, up for air, and happy to be back!  

Many thanks for all the kind comments
and feedback on the 
Moda Bake Shop Heart's Content Pillow.  
I loved putting that sweet pillow together
and sharing it with everyone!
I hope you find 100 different ways to use the pattern AND the tutorial.  If you missed it, you can read the introduction on my blog here and follow links or go to the Moda Bake shop recipe directly by clicking here.

Now to share a quick (well as quick as I can be ;) tutorial for the little wool flowers that adorned the Heart's Content pillow.
The flowers are really very basic and will probably work best if you use your own style - but I'll share with you how I put them together. 
Supplies:
  • Start with some quality wool.  I used Bunny Hill Designs Pastel Wools and sliced them into 1/4" by 8" strips (longer is ok too).
  • You'll also need some scraps of the pastel wools for flower accents.
  • A few buttons, nothing fancy (although fancy flower buttons would look sweet!)
  • Some good quality thread - I used Aurifil Mako Cotton 12 Wt thread - it never lets me down.  You could also use Aurifil Lana Wool or Aurifil Floss.
  • You'll need a scrap of freezer paper to prepare some small wool accents
  • You'll also need a good needle - I use Bohin Crewel/Embroidery Needles in Size 5 (my fav)
  • It's always helpful if you have a pair of serrated edge scissors (Elan are my fav but I hear that Karen K. Buckley's Perfect Scissors are fantastic too)
Start by cutting one or two strips of each of the pastel wool colors.

I used a rotary cutter and ruler to cut mine about 1/4" wide by whatever length wool you have.
If you need more wool than a single strip provides, just cut more!

Lets make the pink flower for the tutorial sample:

Supplies for the pink flower:
Lets start by making the looped section of the flower.  Thread and knot a 12" length of thread.

Aurifil Mako 12Wt in color #2375 matched the Bunny Hill Bright Pink wool perfectly.  

Now fold over one edge of the wool, making about a 1" loop.  Stitch up through the double layer and back down again.
Make another loop, it doesn't matter if it twists.  Stitch up through all layers and back down again. 
If you want to secure it in a certain position, take another stay stitch to hold the loop at the desired location.
Keep looping and stitching until you're happy with the placement and fullness of the flower.   When you're satisfied, take a couple of short stitches on the bottom side of the flower to secure / knot.
Now, lets prepare some "greens" to be stitched behind the pink loops.
My looped section worked out to be appx 2" in diameter.  So I targeted the same size for the greens.
I marked a 2" square on freezer paper and drew a circle within it.
I cut out around the circle leaving at least a 1/4" extra outside of the pencil line.
 Place the rough cut freezer paper onto the wool (shiny side down) and press using a medium heat, dry iron. 
Hold the iron still for 5-8 seconds or until the freezer paper sticks to the wool. 
NOTE: Use care to NOT burn the wool (an iron that is too hot could burn the wool fibers).
Using serrated edge scissors (they work best because they don't push the wool), cut on the drawn circle.  Leave the freezer paper attached for now.
Once the circle is cut out, trim some V's into the circle all the way around.  You can see I marked mine with a pencil before beginning.  This is not required, but OK if it makes you more comfortable.
Here is an image with the larger V's cut out.
Next cut out some more V's all the way around.  Again it really doesn't matter exactly where or how deep you cut.  It will be beautiful!
Once you've finished the 2nd round of V's, you can remove the freezer paper and you have created one background green.  I used two on my pink flower - just to make it more full.   Prepare a 2nd green if you so desire.
(The color is really off on the picture below - my apologies).  
OK, now stitch the green background to the bottom of your looped flower.  Just take two stitches through all layers to secure.  Add a 2nd green background if you like.
Once you've stitched your 2nd green, flip the flower, add a button and secure it in place with a few stitches.  Knot the thread on the back side of the flower and leave thread attached so you can use it to secure the flower to the pillow.
Now that you've made the pink flower, the others are pretty much the same, except I choose to use a variety of colors and add top accents rather than greens.   

On the multicolored flower below,  I snipped (on an angle) the pale pink loops when I was done stitching.  That gave it a neat look.
On the blue and yellow flower I left a long tail and used a pink accent on top.
It's so cute.
Make more flowers if you like -- be creative and have fun!
Attach the flowers to the pillow with the excess thread.
Speaking of having fun -- how about a giveaway?
*
I have several strips of Bunny Hill Wool remnants leftover for one lucky reader.
*
These strips are about 4" wide and roughly 8" to 12" in length.  They would work perfectly for making wool flowers.

To enter the giveaway, leave a comment below letting me know what quilting project you are currently working on.   Are you a no-reply blogger?  If so, please leave an email address too!

For an extra (optional) entry, hop over to the Redbird Quilt Co Facebook page and share the Redbird Quilt Co wool flower tutorial announcement with your Facebook friends.  Be sure to 'Like' and leave a comment on the Facebook post letting me know you shared. 

The giveaway is open until 11pm EST Sunday, December 7th and a a winner will be announced Monday, December 8th.

I leave you with a beautiful picture that my very talented sister Michele took just this morning at her country home in Pennsylvania, USA. 

A Northern Cardinal, our favorite bird and a reminder that Mom is always watching over us.

Enjoy!
Image Courtesy Michele Morningstar aka my very talented sister!
Thanks for stopping by.
Hugs,
Karen

PS - don't forget, you can follow me on Pinterest and Instragram and Twitter too!