These cuties are 4″ square (roughly) The first blocks of my #mysmallworldqal2! I used a tutorial for Quarter Square Triangles that I found on pinterest and it make it so much faster. I’m going to avoid cutting and sewing triangles as much as possible. I’m pinning stuff to my pinterest board called My Small World QAL 2 if you are interested. I’m craftygirlanna on Pinterest.
I was so proud of myself when I finished these blocks! They are super cute and represent something so fun and the excitement I feel when I start a new project. Keep reading for the public service announcement (PSA) about the pattern.
A quick PSA for those who are doing the #mysmallworldqal2 the instructions are listed with FINISHED block measurements. So if you have to trim up a block be sure you are calculating the UNFINISHED size. i.e. a 4″ block in the pattern should really be 4.5″ I overlooked that point when I was figuring which block to make and my hourglass blocks are 4″ unfinished. Yes, that’s going to throw off my pattern by roughly 1/2″ in various spots.
On another note, I’ve always struggled with accurate seam allowances and even though I followed the instructions for the pinwheels and they should have been 4.5″ unfinished mine came out to 4.25″! That’s how I figured out about the finished/unfinished size thing.
So personally because I used all of my blue fabric for the pinwheels, I’m trimming mine down to 4″ to match my wrong hourglass blocks. I’ll just have to make it work (it could be a disaster!) I wanted to share my mistake to help others avoid frustration!
I typically stay away from any project that has a time line even if it’s just a quilt along hosted on Instagram or a blog. Trying to actually make a quilt block every week is so difficult in my busy life. But since my mother in law gave me the amazing My Small World quilt pattern by Jen Kingwell for Christmas and Nicole announced that she was hosting a QAL part 2 I decided to do it. She was very clear that this is a low key thing and work at your own pace (which for me could mean I’ll be lucky to finish this small quilt before my 4 year old graduates for high school).
Because it’s primarily an Instagram QAL I’ve shared my thoughts in a few posts and I’m tagging them with #mysmallworldqal2 but I’m going to share them here as well, just for the heck of it. At some point I’ll figure out how to feed my IG into my blog but until then, here is my set of initial thoughts about my preparation that I shared on IG.
I got the FPP templates printed (to get foundation paper piece templates, check out this post on Sew What Sherlock’s blog), I’ve read all the blog posts from round one of the QAL, I’ve gathered some low volumes for the sky and I’ve decided to use my favorite fabric in the world, my Amy Butler hoard for the fun parts.
I’ve already learned that
a) the printed pattern (not from the magazine) does not seem go in order of the sections
b) the FPP templates were roughly printed to follow the sections so I cut all the templates out and grouped them then labeled them with what page they are on (that’s the plastic baggies in the picture) This will help me know how many to make.
c) The number of FPP templates does not exactly align with what the pattern requires but that’s no biggie I can always print more.
d) Also I really need more low volumes so if anyone wants to do a trade, let me know.
Finally I’ve decided to embrace the wabi-sabi nature of how I piece and not sweat the small stuff. If pieces don’t line up, I’ll just add some to make it work. This isn’t for a show, it’s not for being judged it’s just for me to enjoy and learn something and finish something! This wasn’t on my original ufo list but hopefully it stays on my WIP list instead.
I’ll be sharing some more insights that I find along the way (at least two more posts coming soon) so if you want to get them, be sure to sign up for email posts or add me to bloglovin.
I love to sew, I love to make things from little bits of fabric. Sometimes I start making things and get a little distracted but we all do that, right? I see every project, finished or not, as a learning process. Toward the end of 2015 I learned how to sew curves, or at least how to sew the Drunkard’s Path block. I didn’t attend a class, I didn’t watch a tutorial online, I just cut the fabric and sewed it together. For the most part, they came out pretty good. I used to think I had passion for creating and drive for teaching people to sew. Those are important ingredients if you own your own business. You have to believe passionately in what you’re doing and have the drive to make it a viable business.
I still have passion to create but the drive isn’t there as much anymore. Maybe that’s what we call losing our sew-jo. I don’t know if I’ve lost mine or I’m just feeling low today for whatever reason. I wish I could do a job everyday where I had both passion and drive. I wish I could be as excited to go to work as I am when I get to go to a quilt retreat. I know that some people who seem to have jobs like that. I guess they are the lucky ones. Or maybe they just portray that their job is that great.
I decided to choose a word to inspire me this year. Last year I chose Happy and every time I saw a poster or quote or sign that said something about happy (which was pretty often) it reminded me to be happy. I believe the saying that happiness is an inside job.
This year my word is passion. I think I was spending my life on auto pilot, just trying to make it through every day. This year I want that to change. If I do something I want it to be with passion, throw my whole self into it. My family has a little tendency to be obsessive about things. My dad will choose an interest and pursue it with passion for at least a month and then move on to the next thing. My sister is the same way. My mom is passionate about football (the Cowboys) and basketball (the Spurs) and recently I’ve actually been able to chat with her because I’ve started watching the Texans play.
I always thought my passion was sewing or quilting and I think it still is, but at this moment, my passion is getting my house in order. I’ve started reading the Marie Kondo book about tidying/decluttering and it is making a difference. It’s inspired me to spend an entire evening methodically cleaning out my kitchen cupboards.
I think passion also means being present for my family. I sometimes slip into Instagram world where I only want to scroll through and see what’s new and I ignore everyone else. I don’t want to miss my family moments because I’m involved in what other people are doing on social media.
I think the sew-jo will come back eventually but for right now, I have other things to do. This is why I intentionally do not choose to do projects with deadlines. I’m only accountable to myself (except the Quilters Bee Mod which is one block a month).
Oh and my other passion right now is getting into shape. I’m trying to reach my daily step goal a couple times a week and that’s really hard! Thankfully hubby was supportive of us joining a gym so we can both go and the kid can go to a play room.
Well that’s all my deep thoughts for the day. Do you have a guiding word this year?
So as it turns out, I must be searching for inspiration and someone is trying to tell me that I should look in my surroundings. I was so thrilled when I saw that my LQS was going to host Heather Jones on Friday for a book signing since she was here for quilt market.
I love her book Quilt Local which was inspired by her surroundings in rural Ohio. Of course my surroundings are almost the complete opposite because I live in suburban Houston and work downtown where I’m surrounded by a pretty cool urban landscape.
The second book I recieved as a birthday gift this weekend is called Wanderlust Quilts, written by Mandy Leins and it’s also about being inspired by architecture but it’s from ancient civilizations! Two very different books that both tell a story of finding inspiration from your environment.
Both books have gotten my brain thinking and I can’t wait to see what they inspire me to make! Also it makes me either want to move to a farm or visit more of my urban landscape to take pictures and be inspired. (The second is more likely than the first.)
I’m not sure how many of you have seen my posts about my challenge with myself and my friend Jennilee (@quiltyjl on IG). We said we would choose a simple shape and turn it into a quilt using only our stash. We were going to do one a month starting in August (because we came up with this idea at the retreat in July) and we decided to do something with squares. Well, I chose a Scrappy trip around the world quilt because it’s very easy and uses a ton of fabric. Also it helped that my buddy Sara E. was also hosting a STATW QAL on Facebook for motivation. So I cut some strips and dove in as I typically do. I kept up the pace of the QAL which was pretty rigorous, I even won a door prize for posting my blocks! At this time I’m happy to report that I’ve made so much progress that I even ran out of red strips from my first day of cutting! I still have a long way to go before this quilt top is done because I decided I need to be a little more prescriptive in how I use my low volume fabric so that means that I have to make more blocks (each row has to have the same low volume fabric to make a consistent pattern.)
Throughout this process I learned something which I think I already knew but it was a good reminder: I hate repetitive piecing. I get bored very quickly and lose focus. The QAL ended (the rest of the group is challenged to bring a completed top to the November guild meeting in San Antonio) so now my motivation has waned. The only reason I really picked it back up was that I had the blocks up on my design wall and wanted to work on something else but didn’t want to put the blocks away for good! So I’m pushing through and in between piecing strips and subsets I’m working on the Epic Lightning McQueen quilt (#epiclightningmcqueenquilt) for my son. It’s also a racing theme and so I think it will have a little more longevity than just a flat out Cars theme quilt.
This one has also pushed my limits and comfort zone because I chose to follow a pattern, which I also dislike to do. I’m rather frustrated because I cut all the pieces as the pattern specified and they are all squares or rectangles and they are still not lining up! I’m not really OCD when it comes to piecing (it’s hard to be when you prefer to improv or make it up as you go along) but the blocks are coming out wonky and I’m not doing it on purpose and that bothers me. I’m plugging through though because I know that a little wonky never hurt anyone and this isn’t a quilt for a show, it’s for my son to use and love. And he gets excited when he sees the fabrics up on the design wall.
Lastly I thought I’d share an update on my most recent finished project. It was a triple threat because I used it as my October project for the Savor Each Stitch bee (so fun to have two new people at our meeting this month!) Plus it was triangles which was the shape Jennilee and I chose for October Use It or Lose It challenge, plus it was a practice of the 6th score in The Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters!
So there it is, it’s super small, but it took me a few hours to piece because I was trying to teach myself how to sew triangles without looking at a tutorial! Let me tell you, it’s not as easy as it seems. And yes, it’s quilted with free motion triangles and I only did a zigzag on the edge because I didn’t feel like doing a binding or facing. I’ve already hung it up in my cubicle where I am replacing all the minis I got in swaps witb minis that I’ve made myself. The swap minis are on display at home in my sewing loft.
Well I guess that about sums up the month of October for now. Next week is my birthday and 4 days of classes at Quilt Festival! I may have overdone it a bit since I’m kind of wishing I had allowed myself an extra day off to go get a pedicure and get my hair done or something. I’ll be in class all day every day and then I’ll have to go home and be mommy and wife in the evening. Maybe I need to take Monday off the next week so I can recover! Too bad I have too much going on at work to allow that.
Thanks for reading all this even though you’ve probably seen it all through FB or IG. Happy Thursday!
A local quilt shop recently relocated roughly a mile away from my house! This shop was previously about 10 miles away and while I had visited before, their limited hours made it difficult to get over there. And frankly, the few times I had stopped in, they were not overly welcoming or friendly. Well, I decided to stop in again now that I pass by their shop AT LEAST twice a day and they have extended hours (until 7 pm) on Thursday and on Friday they host Quilt Til You Wilt (QTYW) until 9 pm! My wonderful husband encouraged me to attend the QTYW last week because work has been more stressful than usual. So I went, and even though I didn’t make it in until 7 pm I met a few new people, including an Instagram friend, and it was REALLY fun! And let me tell you, these sweet ladies that I met definitely do NOT identify themselves as “modern quilters” even though the one I bonded with the most had brought a quilt made entirely of Kaffe Fassett fabrics, shared lots of pictures of projects from Gwen Marsten (I call her the Wonky Block Queen) and I think she would fit in quite well at the HMQG meetings.
The coolest thing is that Sharon has said she would be happy to teach me needle turn applique which is something I’ve been very curious about ever since I saw the new BOM by Carolyn Freidlander.
My other new friend is one that I met through Instagram, she made the trek all the way from Katy to visit Quiltworks on Friday and I was so glad to meet her in real life!
Honestly, I only took a hand quilting project with me (and was able to share my knowledge about the Big Stitch with some very enthusiastic ladies) but in the two hours I was there, I didn’t really get much stitching finished! I mostly ended up sharing the stuff in my head that included: What is Instagram, What are Podcasts, Which podcasts should you listen to, Which books am I loving right now (The Improv Handbook for the Modern Quilter and Savor Each Stitch) and some of the projects I’ve worked on (except for Mina, the ladies there were not on Instagram or social media so everything I’ve made was new to them!)
In the end, I left feeling excited and inspired and my exhaustion from the LOOOONG week of meetings was temporarily gone. I also realized that one should never say never.
I used to stay that I would NEVER want to learn paper piecing but with the right person to show me how, I found a new LOVE for this technique! I also never really thought I had the time or patience to learn/do needle turn applique. But then I saw the Carolyn Freidlander BOM and I’m intrigued. She also has some projects in Savor Each Stitch that are needle turn and I think I may use one or two of those to get my feet wet. Curved piecing sort of gives me the chills (not in a good way) but I’m intrigued with the idea and projects I’ve seen in The Improv Handbook which are all curved piecing.
Lastly, never say never when you are thinking about who you want to share with or talk to when it comes to quilting. Just because someone is younger or older than you, it doesn’t mean they automatically fall into the traditional or modern quilter box. I admit to having a little bit of a bias against the people at this shop because the shop doesn’t sell a lot of modern fabric (or if they do, it’s mixed in with everything else instead of displayed separately) but that doesn’t mean they are bad people. In fact, the ladies at QTYW seemed very excited about the ideas and techniques I was showing THEM, which I find to be exciting.
The only thing is that I have heard once or twice lately the comment “Well those modern quilters…” and I’m a little concerned that there is a distinct separation when in reality, we are just making what we love and we want to share that.
Overall, it was a fun experience and Sharon and her friend Laura invited me to their Monday bee which can go until 8 pm (the shop stays open for them) and mentioned a Sunday bee, so now I feel like I’ve got the inside track on some events that happen at a time that is a little more compatible with my crazy schedule. (And if I have anything to do with it, they will soon have a BOM bee for the Carolyn Freidlander Collections Quilt and maybe they will start ordering some of the other pretty fabrics that are more toward my taste.)
I really surprised myself over the weekend. I started a new project and felt like I made significant progress. During a recent retreat my new friend Jennilee and I started chatting about my new made up hashtag/challenge to myself called Use It or Lose It. She asked what it was and I said I was challenging myself to use my fabric, not just my scraps but the yardage I have on my shelves. Even to the point of using my favorite fabric too. She thought it was a great idea so we decided to challenge each other to make a quilt top using some sort of square pattern in the month of August. Given that this girl finished something ridiculous like 3 or 4 quilts over the course of the weekend I may have been a little too excited to challenge her. I’m pretty lucky if I finish an entire quilt in one year.
Well, then Kim (owner of Honey Hill Retreat center) went and showed me her Trip Around the World quilt made with 30s prints and I realized that would be the perfect pattern! It’s so fast, the cutting is uber simple and it really does use up a lot of fabric. So on Saturday I spent every free minute cutting my blues, reds and some low volume into strips.
Everything is still laying out on my sewing/dining room table, I have a little work station set up and I keep all the sharp and pointy objects out of reach but this way I can go over and sew for a short burst of time when the kid is distracted and I feel like I’m really making progress!
In fact, I’ve finished 5 blocks since Sunday! This is blocks 1-4 (of course) As you can see, I’m using reds, aquas and trying to use some low volume to create a secondary pattern but it’s not quite working out. I’m OK with that though. The point was to get a quilt top finished in the month of August. I may need two extra weeks to work on it but I think I might meet the challenge! And Jennilee is on a work trip out of town this week so I get a head start on her, haha!
If you want to follow along with this progress, check out my tag #useitorloseitstash and also check out #sewtake20 which is a tag created by a few of my Late Night Quilter buddies who are trying to break projects down into 20 minute bites and sew every day. So far this week I’ve managed to Sew on Monday and Wednesday! It feels great! Although I think tonight I need to start everything even earlier. Staying up past midnight is killing me.
Do you know which website I adore almost as much as I love Instagram (and you know how much I love Instagram)? Pinterest. If I’m looking for ideas for decorating or parties, I’ll search there before I search Google. Why? Probably because of the visual nature of the site and the ease in which I can find items and save them for reference later by pinning them to a virtual cork board. If I need inspiration for a mini quilt or color ideas, Pinterest, it’s so easy to create a new board and save every item that catches my eye.
How does it work?
I think Pinterest is the best tool for nursing moms who are holding the new baby in one arm and only have one free arm. To use Pinterest you only need to have one hand free for clicking the mouse. In fact when I was nursing my son I think my pins probably doubled in that time. The pins come from everywhere around the interwebs. When you sign up you can install a widget in your browser tool bar that is the little “p” logo, that allows you to find content all around the Web and pin it to whatever board makes the most sense to you. I have at least 10 boards that are only quilt related posts. I have 3 or 4 that are about different types of organizing, I have inspirational sayings boards, and some for recipes that I may or may not ever make (but they sure look good). I even have a board of items that I’d NEVER make in 100 years, it’s called Not in 100 Years! (If you want more of that, look up @pinterestyouredrunk on Instagram, hilarious!)
Following Boards vs Following People
When you join pinterest you’ll be prompted to follow people you know who are on there, it really is just another form of social media after all, depending on how you sign in it will pull from your Facebook friends or your email (I think it pulls from FB because I noticed my profile picture is always the same as my FB picture). You can visit the boards your friends have created and pin from their boards OR choose to follow their boards. I’d highly recommend you follow specific boards instead of following people because even though you love your sister and you may be interested in her quilt board and her ideas for fast recipes, you may not have any interested in her newly created board about hiking the Appalachian mountains. Anytime she pins something to the boards you are following, those items will show up in your feed on your home page. So only following the boards you are interested in will keep your feed less cluttered. I made the mistake when I first joined of following people and ended up with 30 or so pins about wedding plans and tropical plants in my feed and realized I needed to be more selective.
A recent addition is that Pinterest will show related posts which are not from people you follow and promoted posts from people who are paying to get their content in front of your eyes. Recently, I’ve started seeing pins in completely different languages show up as related posts, which is rather annoying but I’ll talk more about what to do about that next week.
I hope this quick Pinterest overview has piqued your curiosity and you’ll consider checking it out. The Android app is really user friendly but the website is great too (they started out just before Smart Phones became the thing). If you decide to sign up, look for me, my name is craftygirlanna and I have something like 3500 pins for your entertainment (although most of them are quilt related).
Oh and fair warning: Pinterest is the best way to waste time since Spider Solitaire (the computer version). When you start pinning you may get sucked into the time vortex and look up thinking a couple of minutes have passed and it has been two hours. So don’t say I didn’t warn you.
If I can figure out how, I’m going to link this up with Late Night Quilter (Stephanie) Tutorial Tuesday round up.
I think I’ve always had some sort of entrepreneurial spirit. I think it runs in my family. I’ve been told that my grandmother (the one who was a quilter) used to pick up old furniture off the side of the road and paint it to sell (this was way before chalk paint and Pinterest), she also had a ceramics shop and a restaurant at one time. I’m sure she was super resourceful, being the mother of 10 children.
When I was growing up, I had the typical lemonade stand (plus popcorn) at my parents’ garage sale. I was always searching for another way to sell things to make some money. It was a fun way to pass the time. As I got older I would offer to scrub the bathrooms for some cash and take my parents’ car and hand wash it at the car wash. Our agreement was that they would give me $5 and I could keep anything I didn’t use (you remember those timed car washes that gave you about a minute of spray time for a 25 cents? I could usually wash and vacuum the car for roughly $2)
I’ve also probably always been crafty (I think I remember trying to figure out how to sell friendship bracelets) so when Etsy came into the world, it seemed like a perfect opportunity to make stuff to sell. The problem is, I’ve had a lot of experience with reality since I was 8 or 9 years old and I realized that it’s difficult to really make enough money selling handmade items to be profitable. And I know myself and I just wouldn’t enjoy making custom items for other people (don’t even ask about the curtains or the table runners I’ve made on commission).
So I came to a realization yesterday. Even though I want to build my blog readership and post more often, I’ve decided that I’m not in pursuit of sponsorship dollars or book deals. As the picture above says, I just want to make beautiful things and tell people about them. I want to make things for people who I know and family who I love so that I know that deep down they will love and appreciate the handmade gifts. I want to make pretty mini quilts to put up in my cubicle at work so that when people ask me about them I can say “yes I made these, no, I don’t sell them” which most of what I usually say (except most of the minis in my cubicle are not made by me because of swaps and such, I’m going to bring those home for a mini display wall in my sewing space.) I don’t want to work my tail off to promote an Etsy shop and end up burned out making things for other people. I no longer WANT to have a handmade business, I just want to make beautiful things.
I feel that when blogging first really started it was because people wanted a voice. I think that crafty people started blogging because they wanted a way to feel accountable because somehow when you write something down that people can see, or put it out into the world, you feel like you have to do it or risk disappointing your readers.
As you’ve undoubtedly seen, I don’t use a lot of photos in my blog posts because I use Instagram for that purpose, for the most part, my blog is my voice, the thoughts in my head and things I want to share with anyone who is willing to read it.
This sort of goes back to a Quilt Without Obligation discussion that happened a while back. I always end up comparing myself to the amazing quilters that I follow on IG who ARE writing patterns and promoting their blog to build readership and who WANT to design a fabric line or write a book. I just want to make pretty things and share my process and successes and failures along the way.
Of course, if someone wants to give me a book deal, I’m certainly open to the idea, but for now, I’m just going to use my precious free quilting time to make things I want to make, with very limited or flexible deadlines. I still need to finish up my 80s 90s Swap project, am working on a mini medallion swap with my friend Emily and have a monthly Quilters Bee Mod block to make, but the rest of my projects are going to be flexible.
It always makes me so sad to think of the practical hoards of fabric and unfinished quilt tops that end up being sold at garage sales and on eBay because that quilter didn’t get the chance to finish the tops or use the fabric. I’ve done pretty well with my Use My Stash/No Buy Challenge for 2015. It has been remarkably easy to NOT buy fabric since I have such a nice stash to work with. Now I just need to work on quilting and binding the tops!
Alright, I think that is all I needed to say for now. It’s very surprising how significant of a realization this is for me. I know I’m not the only one out there who feels like this.
Welcome to another edition of Insta-Friday, where I will share a little tidbit of (hopefully) helpful information about Instagram to make using it easier and more enjoyable! Or I just ramble on about how much I love Instagram.
As fun as it is to connect with people all over the world through Instagram, I still feel that quilting is a social activity that should be shared in person (my husband would disagree with that though). Maybe it’s because when I have a friend to sew with, I don’t have to stop sewing to take a picture and share it on IG if they are sitting right next to me!
Through my posts on IG I have come to realize that there are A LOT of quilters in Houston who use Instagram! This is so exciting to me because it helps me feel connected to them, maybe because I know they are experiencing the same hot and humid weather or I know they feel my pain when I talk about the traffic in Houston. It’s just another way to connect to them.
When I posted the question to my IG friends to ask if anyone wanted to meet up, I had a really nice response! The only problem, Houston is super spread out and a lot of us have full time jobs and/or children and driving across town for a meet up is not really something we wanted to do (see previous comment about the traffic). So now I’m trying to work out some of the logistics but I have a temporary solution.
In August I have a meeting planned for for the Savor Each Stitch Bee on Saturday August 1st from 1-3 pm at Panera Bread in Post Oak and I’d like to invite any and all Houston Insta-Quilters to come either to the bee meeting (we’re discussing the design concept of Scale from the 3rd or 4th chapter of the book) or come at 3 pm for the Insta-Quilter portion of the afternoon.
I guess the point of this post is that even though Instagram is technically a media where you may never expect to meet people you “know” online, there are still opportunities to meet them! In fact, it was an almost surreal experience when I got to meet a few people at the International Quilt Show in Houston last fall whom I only knew online (@capitolaquilter and @cauchycomplete to name two) and again at QuiltCon I made a new friend who actually lives in Houston (@sweetfeetstitches)! Social media is helping to make our large world feel smaller and more connected and that can never be a bad thing.
Insta-Quilters in Houston Meet Up
(not sewing, just sewcializing, but you’re welcome to bring sew and tell!)
Saturday August 1st
3pm -5pm(come from 1-3pm if you want to participate in the Savor Each Stitch Bee)
Panera Bread in Post Oak
Questions? Just drop me an e-mail and I’ll try to answer them