5:56 AM

It's free pattern Saturday over on my Facebook page. Normally I find a vintage pattern to share, but today I'm sharing one of my own.

Go forth and create!

click for full size



Hexagon Granny Blanket Update

9:05 AM

The hexagon granny blanket continues! It's amazing how doing these hexagons a few at time makes this project seem easy. 

I decided to border each hexagon with just one color and while I was busy choosing my husband suggested I use a rich red.  I took a look at the reds that were available and selected Serrano, from Knitpicks Shine Worsted collection.  But wait, you might be thinking, the original hexagons are in sport weight!  Yep. They are. 

I happen to know that the worsted weight from Knitpicks is slightly thinner than the worsted weight I normally use, especially for amigurumis.    I needed to make a slight adjustment to the hexagons while using the worsted yarn, I simply made 2 clusters of dc's in each space instead of 3. 

Super bright - see the clusters of 2?
Another beautiful thing about using this thicker yarn is that it gives each hexie a bit more sturdiness. This came in handy when I tried connecting some. 

Connecting a few hexagons as a test
Here's the spot in the project where I literally said "OOF FA! What did I get myself into?!"  After all the end tucking on each of the hexies I'm now faced with many, many more ends than I ever imagined possible.  Yes, that's because you cannot go along blithely connecting these in a row. There is no row!  This might be obvious to everyone but it sure didn't occur to me until I began. 
Back side of connected hexies
So here you can clearly see that I've use a slip stitch to connect these and once they're all connected I will go around the entire thing with a few rows of single or maybe half-double crochet to give it a finished look.

I'm loving the colors and even the red, though I am somewhat disappointed in how that edge dampens some of the colors.  I think in future I would choose worsted weight entirely  as well, though when I went to purchase the yarn, the sport weights had the most color variety.

I literally have no idea how big this blanket will wind up being, or if I have even bought enough yarn to finish the project. Seems a bit slap dash, but that's kinda how I like it.


Craftsy Class Review - Quilting Quickly - Part 1

8:19 AM

A few weeks ago I signed up to be a Craftsy affiliate.  As part of that program they offered me the opportunity to take a class for free. I'm glad they did! After more than a decade in retail, I'm a huge proponant of believing in what you're selling. Taking a class lets me evaluate the service both for myself and for you.  

Here's a screenshot of the class specific overview - this is what you'd see while browsing.

Basic course info

I really like that they list for you exactly what you'll be learning; this is one of the factors that  led me to pick this specific class.  I wanted to learn quilting basics and the finishing techniques specifically. 

This class is taught by Jenny Doan from Missouri Star Quilt Company.  You have the opportunity to read about her  and learn her credentials.   As it happens, I ran across the MQC website while searching for charm packs for my summer stitching club project.  I thought it was kind of neat that I was already familiar with that company. 

The next screen is the lesson plan:

List of lessons and their lengths

This list was another factor in choosing the class as I was able to see that the final lesson on finishing techniques was nearly an hour long. 
I watched the entire class before delving into any actual work. I wanted to be sure of what I was doing first - measure twice, cut once - right?

Lesson 2 - the Quilter's Toolkit was excellent. So many tools are available to make your work easier, and while Jenny gives an overview of all of them - she also gives you a list of the essentials so you do not have to break the bank to make the projects.

One of the most exciting tools for me was the needle threader - how had I never seen this before? I could do an entire post about this product on it's own. Suffice to say, here it is, and I will be buying one - an amazing tool for my poor old eyes!

Needle Threader by Clover

Lesson 3 - the Charm Pack quilt was perfect as I've been buying  charm packs like candy.  This lesson goes into depth on all the pre-cut packs available, how many you'll need for the size quilt you'd like to make, and how to separate and arrange them while laying out your quilt.

Lesson 4 - the Disappearing  9 Patch.  This is the lesson I decided to follow for my first ever quilt attempt.  While I've been paper piecing along quite nicely with Wild Olive and friends, this quilting method requires machine sewing. Can I just say ACK!  Up to now machine sewing has been something I have assiduously avoided.  Oh well, I withstood it as long as I could.

I selected Alpine Wonderland by Riley Blake for my 9 patch. This particular charm pack only has 21 pre-cuts, half the amount most charm packs have. I decided to make a little quilt to hang up at the holidays so only having 2 9-patch blocks to work with was ok.

Here are a few photos of my time spent in Lesson 4:

Arranging the 9 patch
Arranging the 9 patch

Yucky, corners don't meet! Pick it out!
Perfect corners!! Did I do that!?
2 finished 9 patches
Back of a 9 patch finished
Using the skills I learned in the class, I was able to complete 2 9 patches as you see above! It may not seem like a big deal to veteran quilters out there, but for someone like me who hand sews everything and never thought to do a fiddly thing like a quilt, this is amazing. A. MAZ. ING!

I couldn't be more pleased with the class thus far.  Jenny has a lovely personality and was fun to watch. She's obviously a long-time quilter but she paid special attention to the beginners and had dozens of tips and tricks to share.

 As part of the class, there is a section for you to ask questions and have discussions. Jenny is quick to respond and very helpful in her answers.   The best part of the question/answer feature is that it scrolls by on the side as you're watching, so the questions & answers that have been asked for the part of the class you're watching are right there for you. 

The class will never expire from my account - which is fantastic.  There's so much info packed into each lesson that I know I'll go back to watch parts again.  Which I already have done.  Many times.

As I continue making my quilt I'll post the second part of my review along with more photos of my project.   I hope you'll stay tuned!

If you've taken a class at Craftsy I would love to hear about it!

If you're interested in taking the Quilty Quickly class, click here to sign up.



Wild Olive Mini Quilt - Week 4

7:00 AM

It's week four of the Wild Olive Summer Stitching Club. I cannot even believe it.  The weeks are flying by!

This week the pattern is a little sun hat.  I chose to stitch it with a split stitch to make it look a bit more like straw. 
A happy sun hat
A proper split stitch actually splits one thread, so this is a modified version using 3 strands of floss.  Thankfully I'm not terribly OCD about how many threads end up on the left as opposed to the right.  I just go along and I think keeping it imperfect adds to to the texture and effect.

Here's a shot of the first four weeks together:

Mini Quilt Week 4

I've already started my quilting class and I can tell I'm going to have to borrow some tools from my MIL in order to finish this project, not to mention doing  a bit of practice on a sewing machine.  My WIPs are building up and thanks to Pinterest they have no hope of slowing down.

Be sure to link to your Wild Olive Summer Stitch Club project in the comments, I'd love to see what you're doing.

charm pack

Quilting Class with Craftsy

6:27 AM

I recently signed up to become a Craftsy affiliate.  You may have noticed the banners around my site. I did this because I love what Craftsy offers to crafters, both hobbyists and small businesses. 

I joined Craftsy just about a year ago, and started with my  pattern shop there.  I especially love that they don't charge me listing fees or take a percentage on my sales. As a seller with low price point items this really makes a difference!

After signing up to be an affiliate I was offered a free class! Fantastico!   The class I chose is  called Quilting Quickly and is taught by Jenny Doan from the Missouri Star Quilting Company.  Concidence that I only just discovered their online shop and am now taking their class on Craftsy? (Add eerie sound effects here.) 

My main reason for picking this class is so I could learn how to finish a quilt. With my Summer Stitching Club mini-quilt and all the charm packs I've purchased I figured I'd better learn pretty quickly how to complete these things or I will quickly run out of room for WIPs.   This class looks to be just the ticket.

Here's the charm pack I'm going to start with for my class, which I received courtesy of my friend Paula at Miss Paula in Stitches

Still in the package.. I can't wait to tear into it!

If you're interested in taking the class, or any class on Craftsy for that matter (they have a tremendous selection!), click over from one of my links and have at it!  It's a great site and I'm sure you'll be pleased with it.  As I write this the Quilting Quickly class is on sale for only $14.99! So clicky click and take the class with me! I would love the company!

I'll be posting a special page just for Craftsy and will be reviewing the class as I go along, so stay tuned!


charm pack

Playing with PB&J and friends - A quilting charm pack extravaganza

5:00 AM

I recently discovered the Missouri Star Quilt Company online while searching for charm pack deals.

As it happens, my friend Paula told me about them the very next day because they have a daily deal, in which something awesome is on wicked sale.  Last week it was a deal for a mini-charm pack.

As they go, charm packs come in a mini size- which measure 2.5" square and a regular size which measure 5" square.  Usually they consist of 42 pieces of fabric, but can also be half that size. My experience has been that each pack contains some duplicates.  There are many other sizes of pre-cut quilting packs, but as yet I haven't opened my purse that deeply. 
The charm pack that was on sale last week was  Bake Sale by Riley Blake. It was a full 42 piece pack and I got it for $1.95!  I know, right!!  Normal prices for 5" charm packs range from $6-ish to $13-ish. So this was a serious bargain.  What will I do with it? I dunno!  But how do you pass up $1.95?

Bake Sale by Riley Blake 5" Charm Pack

Given that I was already spending a bit of money on the Missouri Quilt Co site, I figured I would pick up a couple of other charm packs that I'd had on my favorites list. The first is Comma, by Moda.

Comma, by Brigitte Heitland for ZEN CHIC for Moda
Comma, is a mini-pack, and it's so darn cute!  The photo also doesn't give much indication as to what kind of colors this pack has so I took a side view shot.
Side view Comma, by Moda
As you can see these packs are trimmed with pinked edges so that they won't fray on you. I will say that so far the mini-packs shed a bit while you're working with them. And by shed I mean you're covered in bits of fabric before you're done. 
To give you an idea of scale, here's the two packs together.
2.5" & 5" charm packs

I also purchased PB&J by Moda. I loved it so much I immediately opened it and began making honeycombs. So, no stack photo of PB&J. Alas!  Instead  I have photos of some finished honeycombs that I was arranging.  I'm thinking I might make hoop art with them, or even sew them on to tea towels. Mollie at Wild Olive has a neat tutorial for hexagons and tea towels.

PB&J by Basic Grey for Moda
Some of the patterns in this stack have letters on them. This next picture has an "M" in the middle. It's totally cut off because of it's size and further obscured by the shape of the paper piece, but I think it only adds to the visual appeal.
Honeycomb Hex Flower
Possibly a B. Maybe an E.
Shortly after this photo, our cat 6 jumped up and laid his big cat bum onto the table where I had these laid out.  Glad I got photos of the arrangement as they scattered to the wind when I yelled for him to get off.  CATS!! 
 Do you have a favorite charm pack?  Have you purchased any of the charm packs I've mentioned? If so I would love to see what you've made with them!  Please do share!



Urban Cowgirl - Mini Quilt in Progress

6:13 AM

By now you may have heard about my latest obsession - charm packs - the little stacks of pre-cut fabrics already mixed and matched for you.  I first discovered them while choosing fabric for my Summer Stitching Club project.  At this point I've collected nearly a dozen packs. They are completely addictive. Seriously.

I saw a pin on Pinterest that featured a mini-quilt by Diary of a Quilter.  The project was done nearly two years ago and is something I never would have found on my own. So YAY for Pinterest!

Using Urban Cowgirl by Moda, I've created this mini-quilt top:

I want to be a Cowgirl
I added some hexagons of this crazy fabric I purchased, which my MIL thought was ugly.

Yee Haw!

This little fat quarter was sticking out of the shelf at a jaunty angle, which is why it caught my eye. I  just had to have it. It's by Windham Fabrics, but I couldn't say what year it was released. I'm not able to find much info abou it, so I gather it's old.

I didn't realize at the time it was in the same color palette as my Urban Cowgirl, but doesn't it look dandy in there!

Looking Dandy!

This is a much more traditional style of fabric that I didn't think I would like, but the more I put these little hexies together the more I loved it.  I was thinking of gifting it to someone when it was finished, but nothing doing now. It's all mine!

So, now that I've got the quilt top done I just need to learn how to finish it with a backing and quilt the top. I don't think I'll be doing any kind of fancy stitching as I'm only just now learning how to use a sewing machine. Yes, you read that right. I hand sew everything.

Here's one last look at the fabric...

See how the blue in my cowboy fabric picks up the blue in the paisley? That's serendipity for you.  


boys and girls club

Boys & Girls Club

12:06 PM

Today my little "Panda Loves You" hoop has gone out to the Boys & Girls Club  of the Cumberland Plateau for their upcoming auction.

Scott County currently has the highest unemployment rate in the state of Tennessee. The Boys & Girls Club provides at-risk children with vital youth development programs aimed at Academic Success, Good Citizenship and Character, and Healthy Lifestyles.
Every year four non-profits in the community get together to organize an auction telethon to help raise money for the Club. This year 100% of the proceeds will support the Boys and Girls Club. Absolutely 100%, with no overhead costs or salaries. This event will be held August 2 & 3, 2013

Bye Bye Panda!

Hopefully my little Panda will be helpful in raising funds for the kids.  You can find out more about the Boys & Girls Club of the Cumberland Plateau by visiting their website or their Facebook page.


Summer Stitch Club Update

10:27 AM

We are three weeks into our summer stitch club with Wild Olive.  I am beyond glad that I stitched up the entire quilt top in advance!  I suspected I might be happy, but really I'm quite delirious about it.

This week's embroidery pattern is a wee bikini and I've stitched it onto the third hexie in shade of pink, green, and grey. 

Week Three - Bikini
I used an embroidery hoop this week and got much better results. The hoop marks ironed right out as well.  It took about 5 minutes or so to stitch the entire pattern so the hoop was not on for long. 

I've been trying since the beginning to get you accurate photos of the colors in this fabric group. They're slightly more muted than they appear in the photos.  I've been playing around with the ISO and some of the other camera settings with some good results.  Alas, today we have too many clouds and not enough natural light.  But I will continue to try!

Here is a quick pic of all three weeks worth of patterns in a row.

Week Three - All Patterns
 Mollie is such a talented artist - these patterns are so whimsical. It's been sighted on the Twitterverse that she is already getting ready for a fall project. I'm delighted as fall is my favorite season.  If you weren't able to get involved in this summer club, perhaps you can stitch with us this fall.

If you are you stitching along with Wild Olive I would love for you to link to you project. You can also check out more stitching in the Wild Olive Flickr Group.


Hexagon Joining Tutorial

5:00 AM

Now that I'm into the paper piecing craze I've been researching all the ways to accomplish neat and tidy paper pieced shapes.

Up to this point I've been joining them with a whip stitch.  Pretty simple stuff - just grab a few threads on each side and whip along to the end.  I did notice though that it wasn't always neat and that I had gaps or my stitches showed a bit.  That is not neat and tidy!

I came across a tutorial for joining hexagons using the ladder stitch. The tutorial was not great, though I was able to follow along well enough to figure it out and even improve on the method a bit.


First step is to baste.  I'm assuming you know how to do this so I'm only showing a photo or two.

First corner
Now, as you'll see in this next photo I am using a square shape piece of fabric, so where are those neat and tidy hexagonal edges?!
Back, basted entirely
You can trim before you baste or not. Or trim after you baste, or not. It's entirely up to you. I found that trimming before hand I was not always giving myself that 1/4" seam allowance.  Remember I'm an "eyeball it" girl. This way I am assured of enough seam allowance.
Trimmed edges
Now let's attach two hexies!

First, put the right sides of your hexagons together and line up the edges and corners.  I always start by putting my needle into the very tip of the corner on the hexagon closest to me,which I will refer to as the front hexagon.
Start with a corner
Here I am picking up the corner of the second hexagon, which I will refer to as the back hexagon:
Neat corners are key!
 So even though I'm an "eyeball it" girl, I've realized that neat and tidy corners are a must in any kind of quilting. I always make sure my corners match up and they are where I begin and end. 

Now that I've got the corner secure, it's time to begin ladder stitching.

As you can see here, I am inserting the needle slightly to the left of the corner on the back hexagon and making a tiny stitch along the spine.  Keeping those papers in helps tremendously with this step.
Ladder stitches are nearly invisible
Once that stitch is drawn through it will disappear along the inside of the spine.  It's time to insert your needle into the front hexagon. You will insert the needle directly across from where the first stitch exited - this will make the "rungs" of the ladder.

Making the rungs!
Here you can see them.  Remember, the "edges" of your ladder are hidden inside the fabric along the spine.
You can see the rungs - but where is the ladder?
If you were able too see them it would look like this:

Oh, there's the ladder!
So, keep making your stitches until you are at the end and make sure your last stitch on the front hexagon goes through the corner and STOP!
Now, flip over the hexagon and you'll notice some space between the pieces.
We don't want spaces!
Spaces are not neat and tidy, so you'll want to get rid of those by gently pulling your thread until the gap closes.  Don't pull too hard or you will create puckers. Puckers aren't neat and tidy either.

Remember, pull gently but firmly.
Now that you've pulled your stitches together and made sure the gap is closed you can finish the joining.  Flip your work back over and exit through the corner on the back hexagon.  I always go through the corners twice to make sure they're secure.
Two times for neat and tidy.
 Now you should have your hexagons joined and they should look beautiful!

Closed up that gap
Neat and Tidy!
My hexagon paper in the photos is shiny because I made my own using printer paper and packing tape.  I was being thrifty for my first project. Upon further thought I realized that it took a long time to make them and I could just as easily buy them pre-cut from card stock relatively inexpensively. So I popped over to Paper Pieces and got some.

The only thing I've done with the new pre-cuts is to punch a hole in the middle.  This helps with extraction after all the sewing is done. I simply pop a crochet hook into the hole and gently pull out the paper. Works a treat!

I hope this has been helpful as a tutorial. Feel free to comment and let me know if I've missed anything!


Hexagon Crochet Madness

7:28 AM

I've long been an admirer of Lucy at Attic24.  Her site is full of crochet eye candy - every color and shape possible.  It's always an inspiring and cheerful stop on my blog rounds.  If you haven't visited, please do!

The moment I saw her granny hexagons I've wanted to make my own vibrant blanket and I'm happy to say I've finally started.  I am not into big projects that have no end in sight... you know the ones I mean.. like a full size quilt or a king-size blanket that is one continuous piece.  UGH! I would rather chew ground glass than take on something like that. 

But, you're making a granny blanket Jen. WTH?  What could be more trouble, really? 

Well, you see, I'm able to fool my little brain into thinking it's a small project as I get that full sense of satisfaction upon completion of each granny. 

So one granny....

becomes many grannies...

and they multiply...

like bunnies...

Until you have a gazillion of them!

My friend Paula, who is also hexagon crazed like me, wanted to know how long each one of these takes me. I did time it, and if I'm working without interruption each granny only takes 10 minutes.  I save my crochet for the evening when the light isn't the best because I don't need to see anything in minute detail like I do with embroidery. 

So in an evening, watching  listening to tv, I do 6 or so hexies. Then I pack up the box until the next night.  When I run out of yarn to make them I'm going to start tucking ends, which I will do with the same method - 6 or so per night.  

The yarn I'm using is from  Knit Picks.  I'm using two different sport weight yarns. Both are Pima cotton blends.  Here's a list of all the colors I'm using:

Lady Slipper

Green Apple

I also ordered Sea Foam, Grapefruit, & Marlin.  Those colors are lovely, but not the same shade as the rest so they've been put aside for now.   I really enjoy working with this brand of yarn and I am not really able to tell the difference between the the Comfy and the Shine - they both feel wonderful.  

So, it's a big project (YIKES!) with instant gratification and a sense of completion which my brain really loves and therefore doesn't feel overwhelming in that "I'm never going to finish this!!!" sort of way. :)

Just one more pic - because I really am delighted with the colors...



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