Friday, September 23, 2016

12 Days of Christmas Block of the Week Quilt-Along: Block 4

I'm just popping in to let you know that the fourth block in the 12 Days of Christmas quilt-along, the calling bird, has been released on Craftsy!

Are you aware that there are only 92 days left until Christmas?  I'm in full-on crafter's panic mode myself, but it's a happy sort of panic.  Testing out these blocks has put me back in my crafting space on at least a weekly basis and has been a bit of a calming experience, so I am grateful for that.

At long last, here he is!

Computer-generated image.

This is another incredibly versatile block.  It would make a cute spring mug rug or frame up well as a piece of wall art.  I love what a fat, cheeky little bird he is.  it's a bright, fun pattern.

The real deal.  I love his feathery fabric.

It stitched up quickly and easily, and is a good pattern to start with if you're intimidated by some of the earlier blocks.

You can find the pattern here for 2$.

Next week will be another easy stitching week, so it's a great chance to catch up if you have fallen behind.  The hardest part for me was selecting the right yellow colors for my gold ring, and I may even go back and make some changes there.

Happy Christmas crafting!

Friday, September 16, 2016

12 Days of Christmas Block of the Week Quilt-Along: Block 3

It's another exciting Friday for me, because I launched the third block of my 12 Days of Christmas quilt today.

It's no surprise what it is, of course: the French hen.  This block is really versatile, especially for those of you who keep chickens or have a country theme in your house.  I can see this being featured in a really cute quilt or table runner.

The computer-generated image.

You can purchase the block for 2$ on Craftsy here.

I rated this a 4/5 for difficulty, but it all depends on what you consider difficult.  There are lots of sections, so if you have a hard time getting sections to line up, this is hard.  You might leave the excess on each piece and then square it up at the end to ensure you end up with a 9" finished block.  There are also three pieces in the face that are rather small.  They are totally doable, but you have to have patience and good eyesight.  You could leave the small black pupil out and use fabric pens or embroidery to add that in if it's easier for you.  There are not a lot of wacky angles and about half the pieces are pretty simple, so if you have a good amount of experience with paper piecing, this will stitch up fast.  It took me about two hours from start to finish.  The next two blocks are much easier and will give you a chance to breathe a bit more.

The real deal.

I hit the big Jo-Ann sale when they had fat quarters sale and a coupon that could stack with sales, so my girls and I took home an armload of fat quarters each for about 50 cents apiece.  I knew I was going to need several whites for the hen, goose, and swan, so I loaded up on some fun patterns that might be reminiscent of feathers.  This white was one of them.

This white-on-white fabric in this particular design screamed "French hen" to me.

The face pieces were pretty small, but they fit together nicely.  I love the mottled grey that I found for the chest feathers.  Overall, she's a pretty cheery little chicken, and I love this block as an addition to the quilt.

French hen close-up.

I know that I have had some purchases of the first block so far, and I am so grateful and excited to know that people out there are interested in quilting along with this series.  I hope you have as much fun putting your blocks together as I have.  Don't forget to share your progress with me!  I'd love to see your pictures.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Hobbit Day Planner Stickers {Erin Condren}

If you're a Tolkien fan, you are probably aware that September 22 is the birthday of both Bilbo and Frodo Baggins, and has thus been designated Hobbit Day.  It's a great day to go barefoot, eat 'round the clock like a Hobbit, and kick back with some tea and Tolkien.  As promised,  I have another set of free planner stickers for the month, and they are Hobbit/LOTR-inspired to decorate up your Hobbit Day week.

Hobbit Day planner stickers.  Free for personal use.

These are sized specifically for use with Erin Condren planners and for cutting by a Cricut machine, but can be used with any electronic paper cutter that can accept uploaded PNGs.  If you are using Design Space, be sure to open it in Firefox and resize the image to 8.5" x 6" before cutting so the boxes are the appropriate size.

You can save the image above directly from the blog and clean it up in Design Space if you like.  If you would prefer to download the full-resolutoin PNG with transparent background, you can find that here.

9/23/2016:  Please note: I found a typo (*gasp!*) and have fixed the stickers accordingly.  Please let me know if there are any issues downloading them.  This is my first time uploading a revised version of an item to Google Drive and it is quite possible that I may have made a mistake.

Also, to help you find the free planner sticker files in the future, I have added a category to the top of the blog.  If you click on the category, it will bring up all the blog postings with free sticker files in them.

Let me know how you're planning to spend your Hobbit Day, and enjoy!

Friday, September 9, 2016

12 Days of Christmas Block of the Week Quilt-Along: Blocks 1 and 2

I am so pleased to announce that the 12 Days of Christmas Block of the Week quilt-along has begun!  And we're starting off with not one pattern, but two for good measure.  I have the partridge in a pear tree and the turtle dove blocks to release today, and each following Friday I will release the next pattern in the lineup.  If you keep up with the patterns, this quilt will be assembled and ready for quilting around Thanksgiving, giving you plenty of time to put it up for your holiday display.

12 Days of Christmas Quilt
Block 1:  Partridge in a Pear Tree.  Computer-generated image.

12 Days of Christmas Quilt
Block 2:  Turtle Dove.  Computer-generated image.

Designing this quilt-along was a tremendous feat for me because I ran into multiple technical and mechanical errors that I had to surmount, and I am really pleased with how it has all turned out.  Ironically, I'm not a big fan of feathered demon spawn birds, and I forgot how many of them are in the song until I started designing.  (When you're ready to pop on the Christmas songs again, check Natalie Cole's version of The 12 Days of Christmas for a bit of related humor.)  That means that you will have access to lots of bird blocks.  But the beautiful thing about these blocks is that you can purchase and use them individually in a variety of quilts, so they are very versatile.

Some notes about this quilt-along:

  • These patterns do not include instructions in paper piecing!  I assume that you already are familiar with the technique.  If you are not, there are numerous tutorials available online.
  • You may make items to resell as you like with these patterns, but please do not share or sell the pattern itself, in whole or in part.
  • The amount of fabric suggested on the Craftsy page is a very rough estimate.  Every piecer uses a different system of cutting and therefore a different amount of fabric.  I have tried to be extremely generous so you do not run out of fabric.
  • Make sure your printer is set to 100% scaling or no scaling to ensure your block will be 9" finished.
  • The patterns are not in color, but they do include a key to let you know what color goes in every space.  I recommend using colored pencils to color the pattern in so your finished block is accurate.
  • The section key is written up as if you are looking at the block from the front.  If you are assembling the sections while looking at the back, the pieces will look reversed.
  • While these patterns have been tested, it is entirely possible that a mistake may have occurred.  If you find a mistake, please email me!  I will correct it and send out the correct pattern as soon as possible.

These are my finished blocks.  The partridge in a pear tree started off in different colors, but I had a disaster when I was finishing up the block and the dye from my fabric bled, ruining the block.  I will share a bit about that in another posting.  The silver lining is that I adore the new color choices and I think I will be happier with my quilt overall.  I will be adding a little French dot of black for the eye before assembling my quilt.

12 Days of Christmas Quilt
Finished partridge block.

12 Days of Christmas Quilt
Partridge block close-up.

I am really tickled with how this block turned out.  There are not actually many sections that need to line up perfectly, so while it has a large number of sections, it is not actually that difficult to piece.  Just take your time and work carefully.

12 Days of Christmas Quilt
Finished turtle dove block.

To be quite honest, the turtle dove block would work if you ever needed a pigeon block for some reason, as they are very similar-looking birds.  He comes together fairly easily and I would probably call this a pattern of average difficulty.  I can see that my feet are off just a hair, but this is a sample block and I will be remaking it.  I was putting this block together when I realized my printer was scaling it without notifying me and it ended up at 7".  I may quilt this up as a tiny quilt and have it as a sample of my work at my craft booths.

Turtle dove close-up.

I love the blue batik on the throat.  A pop of bright color there is a lot of fun.

The blocks are 2$ each, and are available in my Craftsy shop.  Blocks will range from amateur to expert, so if you are nervous about starting with the first block, you might wait for an easier one to come out and start with one of those.  I will not be releasing an official quilt layout for these blocks because I am just sewing mine up with basic sashing between, but I will share my measurements and results with you at the end of the quilt-along.

If you sew up any of the blocks for this quilt, I would love to have you post pictures to my Craftsy page, send them to my email so I can share them here, or shoot me your blog posting so I can feature it.

Happy Christmas crafting!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

New skills, new freebies: Labor Day planner stickers {Erin Condren}

With the kid sback to school I'm finally returning to the blogging world, and I thought I would kick off my return with a freebie.

I thought I would be inspired to craft more once we were squared away after our move, but while I have done some crafts in the last year, most of them were "needs," not "wants."  Lots of last-minute kids' costumes for special school days, several gifts, and a few household projects.

But not many quilts, because my quilting heart was broken with that long-ago computer crash.  After losing almost all of my hard work (thank goodness for having uploaded at least a few of my finished patterns!), I lost a lot of my drive to design.  The few things I did finish up I took some lackluster pictures of, then set them aside to deal with later.  Later never happened.

The thing that has finally brought my craft room humming back to life is my new Cricut Explore Air!  It is ten times the machine my Expression was, and I am still having fun learning new techniques.  I picked up very quickly how to create SVG files, and we now have custom decals on almost every surface of the house.  My Christmas box is filling up fast with personalized, hand-made items, which is always a big crafting goal for me.

As I am getting back in to my designing, crafting, and my business, I am finding that my new Erin Condren planner is a good fit for me in my weekly planning.  But I caught the decorating bug, and my new Sunday ritual is to sit down and decorate next week's pages and plan out my week.  When I looked at all the cute planner stickers that were available, I realized not many of them are made for us Cricut users, who are still limited to a 6" x 8.5" print and cut space.  I can print out all the free 8.5" x 11" ones that are floating around, but then I have to cut the stickers by hand.  As a lazy person who does not have the steadiest of hands, that was not going to work for me.

So instead, I learned how to make my own!  I will be creating these probably twice a month at least, and I will share them here with you.  This is my Labor Day set, featuring Rosie the Riveter, some major city skylines (including my beloved Seattle), and an industrial-colored background.

Free Labor Day stickers for your Erin Condren planner, from Sew Much Mischief.
Free Labor Day stickers for your Erin Condren planner.

These will work on any cutting machine that can import PNGs, but it is specifically sized for the Cricut.  You can save and download the image above and import it to Design Space (or whatever program you use with your electronic cutter), or you can get the full-resolution PNG with transparent background here.  When you import it to Design Space, you will need to use the Firefox browser and set the width to 8.5 inches.  If you maintain the proportions, the height should be right around 6 inches.

Free Labor Day stickers for your Erin Condren planner, from Sew Much Mischief.
Stickers, once cut and the excess background pulled off for ease of use.
I usually trim them down with a paper trimmer and store them in my planner pocket.

I decorated my Labor Day week a little early so I could show you how it all fits together.

Free Labor Day stickers for your Erin Condren planner, from Sew Much Mischief.
My week, mostly decorated.

I will always include a Giving Back sticker to keep track of the hours, items, or money I plan to donate and to whom, as well as a Hydration Tracker.  These are both things that I am working on improving personally, so I really want to highlight those in my planner.  I hope that you find them useful as well.

I am also loving how easy it is to make little custom stickers on the spot.  For instance, we have game night every couple weeks with our neighbors.  Since it's a regular occurrence and I don't need to worry about writing down the time or other information, a sticker is a perfect way to mark it quickly.  Five minutes after you decide what kind of sticker you want, you can have it created and cut with the Explore.

Free Labor Day stickers for your Erin Condren planner, from Sew Much Mischief.
Easily make your own stickers!  Night of Gaming +1, to remind me of our biweekly game night.

Have fun decorating your planner!  As for my own immediate future, I will be releasing my tested Dune quilt on Craftsy this week, starting to redraft my Bob's Burgers and Archie quilt designs, and launching my BOW 12 Days of Christmas quilt-along.  More long-term, I will be finishing up the rest of my Game of Thrones quilt, which I know some of you have been waiting for.  I found a few numbering errors, so those patterns have to be redrafted before releasing them.  I look forward to sharing all this hard work with you in the coming weeks!

Monday, February 1, 2016

Design Time: Dune, Peg+Cat, Descendants, and more!

As I'm getting through my giant list of things that need to be organized, fixed, and weeded through, I finally reached the dreaded computer.  I got the new O/S installed, which means I was able to put my EQ7 back on at long last.  Couple that with a week of being down with a cold, and that means I got lots of block drafting done.

I started out with a Dune quilt.  This is a book series I have returned to many times in the last couple of decades, so it's a quilt I have wanted to make since I started paper piecing.  I've looked for patterns from other designers off and on, with no luck.  I figured it was up to me to fill the gap.  I think I represented most of the basic elements of the original trilogy: Houses Atreides and Harkonnen, a Fremen, Muad'Dib, sandworms, the skyline and two moons, and the Bene Gesserit as represented by an abbreviated Litany Against Fear.

Dune mini quilt.

That Fremen eye is based off of a really striking piece of art called The Fremen Child by Mitchell Hicks over on DeviantArt.  He was gracious enough to let me use it as an inspiration piece.  I did change it a little by removing the second eye, but that made the piecing much easier.  You can view more of his work over here.

This is actually my first time designing a quilt that is not just separate blocks strung together with sashing, so I like to think I'm growing a little as a designer.  I thought it might be fun to include my initial quilt sketch so you can see where these designs spring from.  It's a little embarrassing because this was literally a two-minute sketch and was never meant for other people's eyes, but I'm not going to stand on ceremony here.

My initial sketch for the quilt outline.  Check out that eagle!
And that griffin!  High-class art right there.  I especially love the sandworm;
it reminds me of a Quentin Blake drawing.  Except not as cool.

If you would like to test part of or all of this quilt, please let me know and I will get you the link to the PDF.  I am hoping to finish this up myself in March or April.  Too much on the plate right now, but I feel good knowing that I at least have it drafted.  I also want to spend some time finding the perfect fabric for it.

Once this was done I thought, "What could I design that would be the complete opposite of Dune?  How about Peg+Cat?"  Actually, my son has recently become a Peg+Cat addict (which I can thank for his new squishy hugs accompanied by, "You're amazing!"), and I was already toying with the idea of making a block for him.  When I went through the list of design requests on Fandom in Stitches, this request stuck out to me and I thought I would give it a go.

Who doesn't love Peg and Cat?  Peg looks like and reminds me of my amazing middle daughter.
Cat cracks me up.  He reminds me of Teddy from Bob's Burgers for some reason.

There are a ton of sections (27!), but that is partly because Peg and Cat are on the same block.  Had I done them separately, it would not have looked so overwhelming.  The beautiful thing about this pattern is that you can do Peg without Cat or Cat without Peg, but I don't know why you ever would.  They go everywhere together.

I have a tester lined up for this, but the more, the merrier.  Let me know if you want to test.

I also threw together a little Descendants block to make a mini quilt for my daughter's upcoming birthday.  I'm hoping to get it done in time, and then it can hang in their Descendants-themed "dorm room."  I'm copping out on this birthday and the girls are all getting invitations to spend the night at Auradon Prep, which is already decorated up because that's the room theme the girls chose.  Work smart, not hard, right?  ;)

Here's the block:

Maleficent's mark, from Disney Descendants.

I think this will be a fun one to piece.  I ordered some awesome Disney villain fabric for the backing, so I'll show it off when it arrives.  I don't plan on designing the other villains unless someone desperately wants one.  Testers welcome!

I finished up two(!) other quilt patterns this week, but they are both gifts so it will be a little while before I can share.  I'm hoping to have these all tested and posted in the next three months, which I think is a reasonable goal.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Sewing with Sewhooked: My Favorite Things, Block 1

The last thing I needed on my plate right now was another quilt-along.  But darn it all, Jennifer Ofenstein came up with the cutest little BOM that will fit my sewing room perfectly, and I rarely quilt just for myself, so I'm going to play along.  It's called My Favorite Things, and has an array of sewing and crafting tools.

The best news is, if you can snag it the first day of each month, the pattern is free on the Sewhooked blog.  If you're terrible at remembering to check in with things like that, I suggest you write it down in your planner, follow the Sewhooked Facebook page or group, and/or follow Jennifer's blog.  After the first of the month, it's an extremely reasonably priced 2$ on Craftsy, so either way, you can't lose because you're getting a free pattern or supporting an independent designer.  A big thanks to Jennifer for giving us the opportunity to download it for free for a time.

Here's my first block completed!

My completed block.  I'm pretty happy with it.
Don't mind the loose thread there; I actually tried to blow that off my computer  screen!

After rifling through my fabric collection for a while I chose one of my newest favorite things to work with: metallic patterned fabric.  I think they are so fun and have used them all over the girls' new bedroom.  They feel luxurious without being too bold.  It is hard to get a good picture because of the reflection of the light, but it looks beautiful in person, and I think it will look great hanging on my wall.

This black fabric has a gold floral print, and it was just screaming to be used for the sewing machine.  It will probably also end up being scissor handles in a later block as well as some other odds and ends.  I love this block because I have a 1905 sphinx Singer machine that I rescued from a rainy garage sale for 5$ a few years ago.  It sits in my sewing room now as a piece of sewing history.  It's beat up and rusty and has no monetary value, but it's beautiful to me and I'm so glad it's represented here.

My inspiration piece.
This poor guy was just rusting away in the rain and needed someone to take it home.
I was happy to oblige!

The first block (and the remaining blocks, from what I can see) is super cute, but definitely quick and easy.  My husband came up to hang out in the sewing room just as I was finishing another block and cleaning up, and I thought I'd start this as a quick project while he was there.  The 6-inch block took me about 30 minutes, and that included picking out fabric.  The hardest part was choosing a thread color for the top of the machine, so I had to have my daughter pick for me.  I think she picked well.

I absolutely love that Jennifer included both a 12" and a 6" block option to make our lives easier.  I'm making the small blocks (and to be honest, I probably should have reduced it a titch more) because I have so little available wall space in my sewing room.  I am even considering making this a 9-block quilt and just picking my favorite of the available options, so we will see how that pans out.

You can find the information for the January block here, and the pattern over at Craftsy.