Thursday, December 28, 2017
I'm one of those people who likes to take the Christmas stuff down on December 26th. It seems heartless, I know, yet I've always felt that when it's over, it's over. We spent all of Tuesday morning packing everything away for next year, and as sad as it was, I can't tell you how wonderful it feels to have all the clutter gone. Even my daughters noticed how clean and neat everything looks again in our house.
It was time for a refresh on my blog too. For years now I've been wanting to add an illustrated header to Fabric Mutt, featuring Naomi the dachshund, who was my official mascot way back in 2012. I haven't had the chance or the technology to do things the way I wanted to before now, but I'm hoping that this will be a fun addition to the blog that will change with the seasons. Spending this last year designing fabric collections for Riley Blake has reminded me how much I love doing illustration, and it's something I want to share in this space more often.
The past three years have been filled with enormous challenges and adventures for me and my family. I wrote a book, moved from California to Texas, walked through some family health issues, started designing fabric, and intensified my work as a homeschooling teacher for my three daughters, who are all growing up so fast that I can hardly stand it. Looking back, it feels as if the blog has been in survival mode for a while now. What was once a relaxed place to drop in often for a chat with all of you about what was going on in my life, both creatively and personally, has become more like an occasional business meeting to inform you about assigned projects. I regret that.
It only takes a few minutes of reading online about blog trends for 2018 to see that the bar is being raised higher and higher. Blogs are now expected to have the staffing, content, and appearance that was once expected only of magazines, and the competition is stiffer than ever before. The hamster wheel of Make! Publish! Sell! Repeat! gets overwhelming pretty fast, and I've seen more than a few bloggers sharing their keen desire to find a way back to authenticity again.
Heading toward her 40th birthday and the start of a new decade in life makes a girl -- ahem, a woman -- think...a lot. As I've been counting down the days until Saturday with both anticipation and a bit of melancholy over the last few weeks, I've decided that I've reached an age where I need to believe in what I'm doing, to find the fun in it, to be myself. So this year I'll be walking into the future by way of the past, mixing the lessons I've learned over the past 6 years (Yes, Fabric Mutt celebrates it's 6th birthday this week!) with a return to the joy that got me here in the first place, that love of sewing that captured my heart from the start. I'll be stopping by this space more often, probably with shorter posts and fewer photos, but with more of the day-to-day details that go into my personal creative journey. I hope that you'll feel free to share back with me about your own goings on in the comments so that we can truly make this a place to chat about what we're making and doing and why.
Starting over has never felt so right. See you again soon, dear friends...
Monday, December 4, 2017
My dear friend Sharon Holland has published a book, and I'm so happy to share it with all of you today!
|Photo courtesy of Sharon Holland|
Utility-Style Quilts for Everyday Living is full of simple, lovely patterns that are somehow both modern and timeless. I particularly love Sharon's emphasis on enjoying the process without getting stuck on perfectionism. She really wants to inspire us to make quilts that will be used and loved.
I shrank the Cabin quilt pattern, which is featured on the front of the book, down to make an 18" pillow cover. As many of you know, I'm a huge fan of the log cabin block. It's easy to sew, wonderfully forgiving, and always looks fabulous. Using prints instead of solids and reversing the order of colored and low volume stripes, I made a patchwork cover that fits my style perfectly.
The pillow is backed in a cheery Lotta Jansdotter print dotted with yellow flowers. It looks great on our family room couch, and my girls love the cupcakes featured in the center of the pillow!
|Photo courtesy of Sharon Holland|
Along with the book, Sharon has a free pattern available for the Roman Stripe Quilt. It's a beauty, and you can download it right here.
|Photo courtesy of Sharon Holland|
She's also giving me a copy of her book to give away to one of my readers. Just leave a comment below, and you'll be entered into the drawing. This one is only available to U.S. residents due to shipping costs. (Sorry international readers -- you know we love you!) I'll choose a random winner on Wednesday night.
***Edited to add: Giveaway now closed. Congratulations Jodi/usairdoll!***
Sharon has put together a fantastic book tour. You'll definitely want to visit Amy tomorrow. She is such an amazing quilter! Here's the full schedule:
Monday 12/4 Heidi Staples - Fabric Mutt
Tuesday 12/5 Amy Friend - During Quiet Time
Wednesday 12/6 Maureen Cracknell - Maureen Cracknell Handmade
Thursday 12/7 Amber Johnson - Gigi's Thimble
Friday 12/8 Karen O'Connor - Lady K Quilts Designs
Saturday 12/9 Kori Turner-Goodhart - Olive Grace Studios
Sunday 12/10 Silvia Sutters - A Stranger View
Monday 12/11 Sarah Maxwell - Designs by Sarah J
Tuesday 12/12 Jessica Swift - Jessica Swift
Wednesday 12/13 Lisa Ruble - Love to Color My World
Thursday 12/14 Cindy Wiens - Live a Colorfullife
Friday 12/15 Eleri Kerian - Sew and Tell Project
Saturday 12/16 Anjeanette Klinder - Anjeanette K
Sunday 12/17 Stephanie Kendron - Modern Sewciety
Monday 12/18 Christopher Thompson - The Tattooed Quilter
Tuesday 12/19 Susan Playsted - Hopewood Home
Have a beautiful week, friends!
Thursday, November 2, 2017
There are people in this business who never cease to amaze me, and Lori Holt is one of them. She has an unending store of creativity with new ideas constantly on the horizon. It's so wonderful to see! Riley Blake asked if I would be a part of her Bee Happy Quilt Sew Along this month, and though I was afraid that last weekend's wonderful trip to Quilt Market would keep me from finishing my blocks in time, it all worked out in the end.
My assignments were the Pin Cushion and Coral Flowers blocks. I almost never do applique work, so it took me a while to get in the swing of things with this project. Once I hit my stride, though, I really enjoyed getting the chance to do some sewing by hand for a change. Instead of waiting for time at my sewing machine in the afternoons, I could work on this at my teacher desk while homeschooling my daughters. (Did I mention, by the way, that I have three desks? One is for sewing, one for teacher work, and one for designing fabric. No wonder I'm always running around like a crazy woman during the day!) It was a real treat to sew in the mornings during school, and I'm quite tempted to take up more applique in the future just so I can do more of this.
For my Coral Flowers block, I wanted to bring in more color than the original block called for, so I alternated red, pink, aqua, and navy around the corners with a yellow flower in the middle. The green leaves and stems balance it all out, and I like the way this has an almost folk art look to it. I started to quilt the flowers, but decided that I liked them better as they were.
Blue gingham paired nicely with the front, and I stitched a line just inside the edge of the pillow cover which gives the illusion of piping. This pillow looks just perfect sitting on a chair in our family living room.
The pincushion block is surprisingly intricate for such a small piece, but I love the way it turned out. I simplified the "Bee" inscription on the mason jar, using one line of stitching instead of the original pattern's two lines. I also left off the "pins" on the far left and right so that I could use just one button of each color to make a rainbow at the top. That fussy cutting on the lid makes me so happy!
I turned this block into the cover of a little kit for holding small notebooks and pens, almost a simpler version of my Stationery Kit tutorial.
These projects were such a pleasure to make, and I enjoyed getting the chance to broaden my skills a bit. Every new challenge, however large or small, is always exciting for me, and I think it's good to keep looking for these opportunities to grow. Just when I think I might be getting a little stale, I find myself falling in love with sewing all over again...
Tuesday, October 17, 2017
Way back near the beginning of 2014, my friend Caroline asked me if I'd be willing to contribute a project to her next book. Crafty Little Things to Sew is finally hitting stores this month, and I couldn't be happier to see it in print at last!
When I came up with the idea for my Patchwork Calculator Tablet Case, I was actually thinking that it would be a fun place to stash my daughters' math flashcards. The pattern was loosely based on the look of a calculator, mostly because I thought it would be a great way to include lots of colorful patchwork for the "buttons." My first version used a rainbow of geometric prints and a number scrap for the "screen" set against a solid black background. I quilted all of the colored pieces just inside each shape. I love to use a pouch this size for a sketchbook and drawing materials -- so perfect for inspiration on-the-go!
For my second attempt, I wanted something more whimsical. I switched out the black background for a more organic looking brown print, used a text print for the "screen," and carefully fussy cut 16 squares from Heather Ross fabrics in shades of white, pink, yellow, and orange. This time I quilted around the squares and rectangle instead of inside them. As you can see, it really makes a wonderful case for a Kindle or tablet with room to spare for a few more items if you want to carry the pouch instead of a purse.
This project makes a great gift, and it's a quick finish too. You can easily put one together in an afternoon. Caroline's book is full of these sorts of projects, which are from a wonderful array of talented designers, and it's why I love the book so much. There's nothing I enjoy more than fast, fun, useful sewing!
I'm giving away a copy of Crafty Little Things to Sew to one lucky winner. Just leave a comment below to be entered in the drawing. You can get extra entries by tagging friends on my Instagram post (@fabricmutt) too! Just be sure to leave an email address in your comment if you're a no-reply blogger so that I can get in touch with you if you win. I'll be picking a winner on Thursday.
**GIVEAWAY NOW CLOSED. CONGRATS, KATHLEEN!**
Be sure to follow the other bloggers on the tour. There are so many fabulous projects coming up!
Wednesday, October 11, 2017
This collection couldn't be more charming. I'm an enormous fan of Jill's illustrative work. Her style has so many elements of the mid-century illustrations that I adore, yet she gives it all her own special touch. She brings the Peter Pan story to life with a beautiful mix of designs. My favorites include the iconic flight over London, a sweet floral, and a wonderful map print featuring ships, mermaids, and Neverland island.
I decided right away that I wanted to make a medallion quilt using all the Neverland prints mixed with a rainbow of Riley Blake basics -- mostly Swiss dots with a few stripes and solids. The center of my quilt is the paper pieced Swedish Bloom flower and leaf blocks from my friend Ayumi's book Patchwork, Please! which is still one of my favorite quilting books of all time. I surrounded them with a ring of traditional friendship star blocks and then with a ring of flying geese all pointing outward. For the background fabrics, I used a scrappy mix of low volume prints from the Neverland collection, Swiss dots, and white solids. It all came together to make such a fun quilt top!
After much deliberation, I've decided to quilt this piece by hand. It will take some time, but I'm looking forward to spending my evenings with a needle and thread and a quilt in my hands again. Somehow it seems appropriate that this fabric about a classic journey be quilted the old fashioned way, which is always such a journey in itself for me.
Be sure to visit all the stops on the tour:
October 11 -- Heidi at Fabric Mutt
October 18 -- Melissa at Happy Quilting
November 1 -- Katie at Maytime Moms
November 8 -- Karly at Paisley Roots
Happy sewing, dear friends!
Saturday, September 2, 2017
My amazing friend Caroline has a new Craftsy class out called the Quilted Tree Skirt, a beautiful patchwork project featuring jelly roll strips, foundation piecing, and handmade tassels. I love taking Caroline's classes because she's so easy to follow, and I always pick up a few new sewing tips from her that I can carry over to other projects. Since our family already has a special tree skirt that we put on our large tree each year, I decided to make a miniature version of Caroline's project. Whether it's the children's tree that my daughters decorate every year by themselves, the tiny tree I bought for their dollhouse, or the dyed bottle brush trees that I love to display on my sewing cabinet, we have lots of little Christmas trees around our house every December.
I took the paper pattern that comes with the class, taped it together at full size and then photocopied it at half size. Then I decided that I wanted to go even smaller and photocopied that smaller version at half size again. For my fabric panels, I sewed together 3 strips that were 2" wide. The print at the top ends up being smaller in the final version, but I didn't mind. I just made sure that my wedge piece was always aligned with the bottom strip whenever I was cutting.
Making things miniature is always fun, but it can definitely be tricky, especially in projects like this. Because everything was smaller scale, the gap in the center for the tree is non-existent -- the pieces just sewed over each other with no open space. I also needed to use 7 pairs of blades instead of 8 or there would be no gap on the side for the skirt to open. Once I finished sewing the blades together, I carefully went in with my scissors to cut out a hole in the center which came out as a slightly wonky star shape. It's not as pretty as Caroline's full size version, but good enough for what I needed.
I alternated colors on each of the blades -- red/pink vs. blue/green -- with lots of low volume fabrics in between to keep things light and bright. Since the skirt is so small, I decided against the button fasteners and tassels that are on the original pattern. Simple works best on something this tiny.
The skirt is backed in a pink and white print, and I quilted along all the horizontal seams in off-white thread.
This was such a fun project, and I enjoyed doing something a little different from the things I normally sew. You can sign up for the Quilted Tree Skirt on Craftsy right here if you'd like to make one of your own. Caroline has put together a wonderful class, and you definitely need to take a look at all her different versions of the skirt. They're absolutely beautiful! I'm not sure if I'm ready for Christmas yet, but this all definitely has me ready for the pre-season excitement of fall...
Tuesday, August 29, 2017
I've been chatting with Lana Norton, owner of Quilt' N' Things in Montrose, California, this summer, talking about the joys and challenges of running a quilt shop. She's been wanting to work more closely with designers to help promote our work and draw people to her shop. As a part of that process, she sent me three of her wonderful scrappy sixteenth bags to make a handful of projects that she can display in her shop. I added some scraps of my own and had a wonderful time relaxing with patchwork this week!
The first project I made was a toy wallet, altering the Manicure Set pattern from my book, Sew Organized for the Busy Girl.
My girls are always bringing little miniature toys with them or collecting small items like bottlecaps wherever they go. This wallet is the perfect place to keep them!
I absolutely had to make a Deluxe Pincushion from my book. I've never made one of these that I didn't love. They're so quick and fun and perfect for showcasing tiny scraps!
The last thing I made was a Road Trip Pillow from the Fast Fabric Gifts booklet I wrote for Love Patchwork & Quilting last year. This is such a simple project, but I love how it lets the fabrics shine. I wound up with a light, happy rainbow of prints, and it all feels so summery to me.
For the envelope closure on the back, I used a canvas print with gold metallic accents that I've been saving for a while.
These projects are on their way to California right now, and as hard as it was to let them go, I'm so happy that they'll be enjoying a special spot in Lana's shop. Be sure to drop by Quilt' N' Things if you're in the area!
Monday, August 21, 2017
I've had so many requests for a tutorial ever since I posted the Diamonds Pillow that I made for my Five & Dime Quilt Market display. Rather than give you a tutorial for a single project, I decided to just show you how to make the block and then give you some ideas for a few different items you can make with it. I also changed the dimensions of the original block so that it's now jelly roll or charm pack friendly too -- so handy! This block is super easy to sew, perfect for beginners or just for a quick finish.
To make one Diamond Block, you need...
1 rectangle 2 1/2 x 5" of your feature print
2 squares 2 1/2 x 2 1/2" of your background print
Place the 2 squares next to each other on top of the rectangle (right sides together) -- be sure the rectangle is positioned vertically. Draw a line from the lower left corner to the upper right corner on both the squares (or fold the squares in half and press with your iron to create a line with no ink like I usually do) and stitch along that line.
Trim a 1/4" seam allowance from the outer corners away from the center of the rectangle.
Press the seams open or toward the background fabric -- and you're done!
Wouldn't this block make a wonderful scrappy quilt? I really need to give that a try...
Sew together 3 rows of diamond blocks, with 7 blocks in each row), to make a pillow cover like my Five & Dime strike-off version. If you want the pillow top to be a perfect square, just add a 1" strip of background fabric to the right and left sides before adding your pillow backing. The pillow should finish at 14" square.
Sew together 5 blocks in a row (or fewer if you want a smaller version) to make a simple pouch or clutch, like the one I made here with gorgeous Tilda fabric from my dear friend Julie.
I used sparkly metallic Essex linen for the background fabric and lined the pouch with my favorite green Autumn Rose print from the Harvest collection.
A pale pink zipper and "Hello Sunshine" charm top it all off. I love how sweet and girly this is!
By the way, if you're looking for Tilda in the U.S., you definitely need to visit Julie's shop, The Intrepid Thread, which is one of the very few places you can purchase it here. And right now she has these Harvest prints on sale -- definitely a win!
By the way, I've loved seeing all the Five & Dime photos popping up on Instagram lately. It makes me so happy to see you all enjoying this fabric at last! If you're still looking to buy some, I've added a few more shops to the "my fabric" page, and I've also marked the online shops so that they're easy to find. Keep tagging me with those photos. It's so much fun to see what you're making!
Happy sewing, friends!
Wednesday, August 16, 2017
I always enjoy pairing random rainbow fabrics and low volume prints. It was also nice to work in a bit of brown, which can often be a neglected color in my stash. These warm brown tones for the bear paw corners feel like autumn, and I love the contrast with the other colors.
I chose a flowered teapot for the center of the pillow. It came from a darling vintage greeting card print that I bought from Sunny Day Supply -- so much cuteness!
I quilted 1/8" from either side of the low volume strips in the blocks and in the center. The back of the pillow is a canvas print from Cotton + Steel that falls somewhere between gray and brown.
It's hard to let go of a project that you love, but it's a whole lot easier when you know it's going to live with a dear friend.
Friday, August 11, 2017
I was so excited when I saw that Nichole Ramirez and Elisabeth Woo had written a book called The Fussy Cut Sampler for Lucky Spool Media. Fussy cutting is something near and dear to my heart, and I've long hoped that someone would write a book about it. Nichole and Elisabeth have done a phenomenal job putting together a collection of unique blocks with detailed tips for cutting and placing fabric within each design. So much thought and care went into every page of this book, and I can't recommend it highly enough!
For today's tour post, I was assigned a block from chapter 11, which is all about creating a narrative in your blocks. Block 44 is called "you in a block," encouraging the maker to pull together prints that show different facets of her personality and life that reflect who she is.
For my feature print in the center, I used some of the last scraps of a Japanese fabric that I've been saving for over five years. So much of my time seems to be spent shopping or cooking, so it was fun to pair these two pieces together. I especially liked the balance of the two girls facing each other. I sprinkled both a large and small floral in the block since I love flowers in any form. Blue and green are two of my favorite colors, so I needed to include them. I also added in two prints from my new Five & Dime collection. My favorite pink price tag fabric shares some of the optimism I try to bring to my dealings with the people in my life every day, and the green checklist print reminds me of the many lists I use to keep myself organized. The vintage newspaper print at the corners is a nod to my love of retro style.
Rather than keep this as an orphan block, I decided to turn it into a table mat for my nightstand. I backed it in more of the blue Denyse Schmidt floral (one of my all time favorite prints) and quilted 1/8" from either side of every seam in the block. The binding is a black and white diamond print from Uppercase 2.
I love this mat. It feels simple and sweet and almost like a more grown-up version of myself. It also goes beautifully with the blue and white toile duvet cover on our bed. I couldn't be happier with it.
If you get the chance, check out the #fussycutsampler hashtag on Instagram. There are beautiful things happening there, I promise you...
Thursday, August 10, 2017
Way back in January when I saw the first pictures of Supernova by Rae Ritchie for Dear Stella Fabrics, I knew it would make the perfect quilt for my youngest daughter. It's been only a year or so since Mouse decided that she wants to be a scientist when she grows up. Looking forward to her science lessons in school, doing experiments with her Daddy, and trips to the Witte Museum in San Antonio make her even more excited about it. But when I showed her this fabric and told her I was going to make a science quilt for her bed, she was over the moon.
The Test Tubes Quilt is one of the most beginner friendly quilt patterns I've ever designed. These blocks come together like lightning, and the result is both modern and colorful. Dear Stella Basics paired with prints from the Supernova collection gave me a full spectrum of colors to work with for the "liquids" in the test tubes.
For the quilting, I used a wavy stitch setting on my machine. It reminds me of DNA strands, and it made the quilting process go so quickly. The binding is a fantastic solar system print which gives little pops of color on a navy background.
I backed the quilt in this lab print full of wonderful scientific illustrations. There are so many great details in this collection.
Just in case you'd like to make a Test Tubes Quilt for a future (or current!) scientist of your own, here's a simple tutorial...
Test Tubes Quilt Tutorial
Finished size: 45 x 69”
1 yard White Night Sky
1 rectangle 4.5 x 12.5”
1 rectangle 4.5 x 8.5”
1 rectangle 4.5 x 15.5”
1 rectangle 4.5 x 5.5”
1 rectangle 4.5 x 19.5”
1 rectangle 4.5 x 12.5”
1 rectangle 4.5 x 9.5”
1 rectangle 4.5 x 5.5”
1 rectangle 4.5 x 11.5”
1 rectangle 4.5 x 8.5”
.25 yard Cranberry Scallop Dot
1 rectangle 4.5 x 16.5”
.25 yard Coral Triangle Dot
1 rectangle 4.5 x 20.5”
.25 yard Eggshell Scallop Dot
1 rectangle 4.5 x 13.5
.25 yard Solar Spectacles
1 rectangle 4.5 x 23.5”
.25 yard Corn Scallop Dot
1 rectangle 4.5 x 9.5”
.25 yard Celery Scallop Dot
1 rectangle 4.5 x 16.5”
.25 yard Lawn Pencils
1 rectangle 4.5 x 19.5”
.25 yard Pine Scallop Dot
1 rectangle 4.5 x 23.5”
.25 yard Opal Scallop Dot
1 rectangle 4.5 x 17.5”
.25 yard Navy Chalkboard
1 rectangle 4.5 x 20.5”
1.5 yard Nickel Scallop Dot
Lower corners of tubes
Background between tubes
Horizontal background strips
20 squares 1.75 x 1.75”
12 rectangles 4.5 x 28.5
3 rectangles 4.5 x 44.5”
1 rectangle 51 x 75”
4.25 yards Yucca Laboratory
1 rectangle WOF x 75”
1 rectangle WOF x 11” (piece together to make 1 rectangle approximately 55 x 75”)
.75 yard Navy Supernova
6 strips 2 1/4 x WOF
All seams are a quarter of an inch.
Press seams open or toward the darker fabric.
RST = right sides together
Pair up the white and colored pieces for each test tube block according to their letters. Sew them together along the lower 4.5” edge for the white piece and the upper 4.5” edge for the colored piece.
Take one test tube block and 2 of the 1.75 x 1.75” gray background squares. Place the squares RST in the lower colored corners of the block and use a pencil to draw a line on the wrong side of the fabric that goes from the upper outer corner of each square to the lower inner corner of each square. Stitch on that line, trim off a 1/4” seam, and press open. Repeat with the remaining test tube blocks and squares.
Arrange the test tube blocks into two rows according to the diagram above. Sew a 4.5 x 28.5” gray background strip between each of the test tubes and at either end of each row. You should end up with 2 pieced rows that measure approximately 28.5 x 52.5”.
Sew a 4.5 x 52.5” gray background strip above the upper test tube block unit, between the two units, and below the lower unit, creating the quilt top.
Quilt, back, and bind the quilt as desired.