Sunday, July 7, 2019

Summering

The Bandstand Mini Quilt from Patchwork USA

I feel as if I've been missing in action for ages, though it's really only been about a month. We've been summering at our house, which is my golden chance to take a break from the rat race and enjoy some time with my family. The truth is that I don't do it often enough, so when I get started, it's awfully hard to stop.

The Painted Desert

We got everyone in the family finished with school by the end of the first week in June. The second week was consumed with Vacation Bible School at our church, where I got to dance and sing four times each morning in front of 1200 kids -- a guaranteed route to exhaustion by Friday, let me tell you. After a wonderful Father's Day with my parents at home, we (my husband, I, and our girls) took off on our annual summer road trip.

Me and my sweet sis

This year we traveled to California to see my sister and her family, and then back through Arizona to visit my in-laws. It was a wonderful two weeks spent with family and friends, visiting places that my girls could just barely remember from their early years and making new memories for all of us.

These beautiful ladies drove 3 1/2 hours  -- each way! -- to join me in Altadena.

I also had the chance to meet with the loveliest group of people at Quilt 'N' Things in Altadena for a small trunk show and book signing, which was all kinds of fun.

Last week's field trip to the Texas Capitol Building in Austin

Now that we're back home in Texas, the summering hasn't stopped. It's been one day after another of swimming and reading, day trips and movie nights.

Home grown produce -- just one more reason to love summer

The garden is going crazy with tomatoes and squash and watermelons, which all pair beautifully with backyard barbecues and make-your-own pizza dinners. We've enjoyed mini marathons of Gilligan's Island, the Dick Van Dyke Show, and Scarecrow and Mrs. King. And we've reminded ourselves why popcorn and ice cream cones will never go out of style.

In other words, it's been heaven. And I'm not quite ready to give it up just yet...

Monday, June 10, 2019

I'm a Guest on Pat Sloan's American Patchwork & Quilting Podcast Today!


Just a quick note to let you know that I'll be Pat Sloan's first guest on her American Patchwork & Quilting Talk Show Podcast this afternoon at 3pm CST. You can listen in live here or catch the show later this evening on Pat's website here. It will also be available later in the week on the APQ website here. We're going to chat about my new book, Patchwork USA, and some of my other recent projects. I'm so looking forward to chatting with Pat again, and I hope you'll join us!

Thursday, May 23, 2019

The Most Important Things


It's been a little quiet around here lately for the simple reason that May has been difficult this year.

Two weeks ago we got the news that my grandfather, my dad's father, had suffered a massive heart attack. The day after Mother's Day, we found out that my grandmother had walked into the room that morning just in time to see him pass away. I never had the chance to know Grandpa as much as I wanted to, partly because he lived across the country in Minnesota. He loved to drive all over the country with my grandmother in their camper, and occasionally they would swing through our town when I was young, often bringing along a paper bag full of balloons as a special treat for my sister and me. They came by a few times after my girls were born, and my oldest daughter vividly remembers playing card games with Grandma and eating jelly beans in their camper with them while it was parked in our driveway. Although talk always seemed to settle on frivolous things -- the weather, the dogs -- I remember one visit when Grandpa somehow wound up talking about his military service during World War II when he worked in the motor pool for Patton's Third Army. It was a glimpse into a side of him that I hadn't seen before, and I wish I could have heard more. Though he never broached the subject with us, I know that Grandpa was part of the American forces who liberated Dachau concentration camp way back in 1945. I was always terribly proud of his part in that, and I remember thinking of him when I visited the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. years ago as I was standing in front of the candles lit for Dachau in the Hall of Remembrance. It's hard to believe that Grandpa won't be driving up our driveway again, doting on my dogs and chatting with his great granddaughters.

Only a few days after that, my dad's best friend from college had a sudden heart attack. We worried and prayed and texted messages back and forth with his wife until he was thankfully able to return home after treatment. But I was shaken. It's hard to see the people you looked up to as a child suddenly struggling with health issues, as though your own stability is somehow tied up with theirs.

And then last Sunday night my oldest daughter broke her arm at a church youth gathering, leading to a host of medical appointments and a new normal for the next few months as we help her recover from this intensely painful injury. It's been hard for her to concentrate with all the stress and discomfort, but thankfully we were able to get her last tests finished last night for the school year so that she could start her summer and really begin a time of rest and healing.

As I sit here typing at my computer, I realize that the last few weeks have left me feeling vulnerable. It's not that you don't know that these sorts of things can happen to the people you love. This is life, after all. But when it does, it feels like a tidal wave sweeping over you. The one blessing in it for me is that troubles inevitably bring clarity to my life.  Little, petty things that seemed like such a big deal before, now fall to the side where they belong. The most important things -- which are almost always the things I managed to neglect due to the demands of my over packed schedule -- come to the forefront. You suddenly realize what matters most, and it's okay to let the rest go. And the people you love -- your family and friends -- you understand how much you need them, how important it is to spend time with them while you have them, to not hesitate to say, "I love you" or hug them close as often as you can.

So today's schedule will look a little different for me. Yes, there will be dishes and grading and maybe a bit of writing. But there will also be Lego building and chocolate chip cookie baking, cuddling under quilts and games of Fishy Tag in the pool. Because every minute I spend with this dear family of mine is more precious to me than anything else in the world.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Margie


Up to this point, I've worked with quilting cotton, linen, canvas, flannel, double gauze, felt, fleece, and lawn. So when Riley Blake Designs gave me the chance to do a blog post about their wool, I jumped at the challenge.


These gorgeous bundles of color showed up at my door, and I was completely blown away. Aren't they stunning?!

I did some looking around online for project ideas using wool, and after much thought, I finally decided that it would be fun to try working on some stuffed animals. I purchased a few patterns from Willowyn on Etsy and got to work.


Sometimes I think it's good for me to try something completely different from what I'm used to. This project was such a fun change of pace for me, and I absolutely loved sewing together this little bunny. It was surprising to me how forgiving the wool seemed to be. Even when stitches weren't perfect, you couldn't really tell, and I was so thrilled with how she turned out. I did almost all of my sewing by machine except for a bit of hand stitching with matching gray thread to close up a few gaps after stuffing. Her ears are lined with a striped print from Date Night, and I embroidered her nose and eyes with black Aurifloss.


I loved the clothing patterns that Willowyn designed to go with her stuffed friends, so I just had to make a sweet pair of overalls in a favorite pink floral print from the Lemonade Sundae collection which I've been hoarding for a while. The little silver snaps on her outfit make me smile.


Her tiny wool coat (my daughter chose the color) has a hood lined in a print from Lori Holt's upcoming Granny Chic collection. I actually got this fabric to use in another upcoming project, but when I saw how perfectly the colors complemented that shade of green wool, I just couldn't settle for anything else.


I made a button bow to complement her outfit. Normally I wouldn't sew a button onto a stuffed animal, but since this one is for me, I made an exception.

During one of the nights when I was working on this project, my own Bunny was having trouble falling asleep. She wandered into my sewing room and asked if she could do my hair for a few minutes while I worked. So I let her practice her French braiding skills on me while I cut out pattern pieces, and together we watched an old Jeanne Crain movie called Margie on my computer. When I showed Bunny my finished doll the next day, she squealed and immediately asked, "What's her name?" I told her that I hadn't decided yet. She clutched the bunny to her chest in a hug and said confidently, "Margie. You have to call her Margie."

And that, my friends, was that.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

New Patterns & Early Book Sales!

Motel Key Pillow Pattern by Heidi Staples of Fabric Mutt available through Lucky Spool

Big news today, friends!! I am so thrilled to announce the launch of my first PDF patterns for sale: The Soda Pop Shop Quilt and The Motel Key Pillow.

Soda Pop Shop Quilt Pattern by Heidi Staples of Fabric Mutt available through Lucky Spool

You've already gotten several peeks at my Soda Pop Shop Quilt on previous blog posts. I love this quilt so much!

Motel Key Pillow Pattern by Heidi Staples of Fabric Mutt available through Lucky Spool

The Motel Key Pillow is a special pattern that I wrote to go along with the release of my new book, Patchwork USA. I designed these blocks to look like retro motel key rings with a key attached. This little pillow is sitting on my guest room bed as we speak, and it goes perfectly with the vintage travel theme I have in that room. I think this block would be just as darling on a pouch or in a quilt, and it's absolutely perfect for fussy cutting!

Both of these patterns are beginner friendly, requiring only traditional piecing skills, and they have lots of illustrations to walk you confidently through the instructions. After getting so many requests for the Soda Pop Shop Quilt pattern, I was searching for a way to make the patterns available to you as quickly as possible, and my amazing editor Susanne came to the rescue. You can now purchase them on the Lucky Spool website at this link

But wait, there's even bigger news!


Lucky Spool, C&T Publishing, and Martingale have all declared April 21-27 to be National Craft Book Week, a celebration of craft books and the wonderful people who create them for us. There are going to be special promotions all week from these publishers.

Patchwork USA by Heidi Staples of Fabric Mutt available through Lucky Spool

Today is my special day at the Lucky Spool website because they're not only selling my patterns at a  20% discount, but they're also selling a limited number of advance copies of Patchwork USA while supplies last at a 20% discount today too if you use the code NEW20. That means you can get your copy of my book before it's available anywhere else! AND everyone who buys a copy today gets entered into a drawing for a $100 gasoline gift card, a fun way to play along with my book's road trip theme. Is that amazing or what?!

Remember, the discount is for today only, so hurry over there if you're interested. I couldn't be happier to share these patterns and my book with all of you, and I can hardly wait to start seeing your projects popping up on social media. I hope that they bring you all kinds of joy!

Friday, April 12, 2019

Mini Majestic Easter Gift Basket

Mini Easter Gift Basket from Pink Penguin tutorial by Heidi Staples of Fabric Mutt using Majestic by Gerri Robinson for Riley Blake Designs

There are some patterns that you go back to over and over again, that fit you like a comfortable sweater or your favorite slippers. They're familiar and lovely, and you know they're going to be just what you need. The Lunch Bag Tutorial by my friend Ayumi is one of those patterns for me. I don't know how many times I've sewn this one, but it never fails to be a joy. This time I thought it would be fun to do something crazy and shrink it down to half size for a mini gift bag using the Majestic collection by Gerri Robinson for Riley Blake Designs.

Mini Easter Gift Basket from Pink Penguin tutorial by Heidi Staples of Fabric Mutt using Majestic by Gerri Robinson for Riley Blake Designs

The footprint of this finished bag is only 2 1/2" x 3 1/2" -- such a sweet little size!


I met Gerri for the first time last June when she was kind enough to drive me all over Missouri while we were both teaching at Missouri Star Academy. She and I spent hours together that week chatting about everything under the sun -- fabric design, the quilting industry, our families. I loved every minute of it. Watching her teach was an education in itself for me. She is an incredibly talented and generous lady, and I admire her so much.


I chose just three prints from the Majestic collection for this project in a range of scales. The smallest scale white floral was especially perfect for a tiny bag like this one. These prints all work together so beautifully, don't they?

Mini Easter Gift Basket from Pink Penguin tutorial by Heidi Staples of Fabric Mutt using Majestic by Gerri Robinson for Riley Blake Designs

Whenever you shrink a pattern -- especially for a bag or basket -- there are positives and negatives. Smaller pieces make a much quicker sew, but the logistics can definitely be more difficult as you try to navigate your needle with a more narrow bag opening. The drawstring casing was a bit fiddly, but with some patience and care, I was able to get it right. It took me a while to decide what to use for the drawstring itself until I remembered my box of chunky thread by Lori Holt. This pink was a great match and just the right weight to fit easily in the casing. It's always hard to hit a speed bump when you're almost about to finish a project, so I was awfully glad to have that thread on hand!

Mini Easter Gift Basket from Pink Penguin tutorial by Heidi Staples of Fabric Mutt using Majestic by Gerri Robinson for Riley Blake Designs

Now that I'm looking at this little bag, I'm thinking that it would make a darling mini Easter gift basket. Just toss in some candy and other small goodies, and you're all set.

I have the sneaking suspicion that I may have just launched my next sewing obsession...

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Soda Pop Shop Quilt Finish

Soda Pop Shop Quilt by Heidi Staples of Fabric Mutt using Perfect Party by the Cottage Mama for Riley Blake Designs

I just took a walk down to the end of our driveway to see if the mail was here. Our mailbox was empty, but it was absolutely worth the trip. Texas is looking gorgeous today. After a rainy weekend, the trees and plants are looking lush and green again, and the sky is pure blue. My neighbor has hopped on her riding mower next door (my husband will probably be doing the same thing tonight after he gets home from school), and I can smell that amazing scent of cut grass in the air. There are butterflies dancing on the wildflowers, horses grazing in the pasture behind our property, and birds chirping at each other in the trees by my front door. Best of all, the temperatures are starting to warm up enough that we just might be able to try a dip in the pool this weekend. The girls can't stop talking about it and were already laying out their swimsuits last night in excitement.

Soda Pop Shop Quilt by Heidi Staples of Fabric Mutt using Perfect Party by the Cottage Mama for Riley Blake Designs

My Soda Pop Shop Quilt came home from Farm Fresh Stitches last week, and I just can't say enough about their quilting. I asked for a Baptist fans pattern, something I've always wanted on one of my quilts. Wow, was I thrilled with the results. It looks so beautiful, and the texture is amazing. I cut up the last of my green and blue plaid from the Perfect Party collection for the binding, and it stretched exactly long enough to fit. James helped me take some photos of the quilt outside after we got home from church on Sunday. By then the thunderstorms had stopped, and all the trees were dripping wet but lovely in the background.

Soda Pop Shop Quilt by Heidi Staples of Fabric Mutt using Perfect Party by the Cottage Mama for Riley Blake Designs

After long thought, I decided to give this quilt to my youngest daughter. Mouse has always been such a little thing that most of the quilts I've made for her have been on the small side -- perfect for cuddling but not quite large enough to cover her bed properly. This one is a wee bit small, but much closer to the right size. She was perfectly delighted to get it and keeps telling me how much she likes it, especially the quilting, which she says makes it so much more "comfortable." I'm just always content to see my projects in use and well loved.

Soda Pop Shop Quilt by Heidi Staples of Fabric Mutt using Perfect Party by the Cottage Mama for Riley Blake Designs

I've gotten so many requests for the pattern for this quilt, and whether it winds up in a third sewing book or gets released some other way, I promise I won't forget to share it with you at some point here in the future. I'm so happy that you guys love it too.
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