Tonight I submitted and paid my last Colorado sales tax return for a while, I hope. Following that, I went to my Etsy store to essentially close it. After 10 years, I've decided that it is no longer worth my time to spend time (and money) posting things to sell on Etsy. As many crafty types know, it is very difficult to try to sell handmade items for a fair price, and going forward I'm going to spend my efforts on crafting for my own pleasure.
Back in November, 2010, 5 months after giving birth to my third child in less than two years (twins are part of that), I got online and created an Etsy store for myself. I decided on a name (I used to call all my kids "Goose"), and had my graphic-designer sister design me a logo. It was fun! I made bags, I took picture of them, posted them in my new store and then spent days hitting "refresh" to see how many views my store was getting. I had two kids in daycare and a baby at home who napped a lot and suddenly my love of sewing had a purpose.
Fast forward a few years and I had learned a few things (like white backgrounds work better than others), had a few sales each month, and even had a fabric company send me an entire box of fabric for me to make up in to bags. They sent half-yard cut of all of the fabrics in all their collections. It was a crazy amount of fabric! I had done a bit of wholesale sales to local shops, had tried a craft fair (thanks to all of my parents' friends who came and bought bags, and an eye-roll goes out to the lady in the booth next door who told me that I'd sell a whole lot more if I lowered my prices a lot). I was definitely going outside of my comfort zone and was making an attempt to sell my fabric gift bags.
Like many others in the quilting community, I discovered blogs and through those, the modern quilting community. I absolutely loved looking at all the beautiful quilt pics online.
Somewhere in there I started my own blog/website, got a Facebook page and joined Flickr...and then Instagram. I learned that people would get together for sewing weekends (retreats) and I decided to try one of those - and it was great! At that first retreat a met a few people who have become dear close friends. My sewing habit has taught me a lot of things and has taken me to new places.
But now things are different. Last year I went back to work part-time and my free time really decreased (sewing time really). After limping along for the year struggling to take care of the house & myself, in addition to sewing, this November I decided I was DONE. Things had to simplify. I no longer needed to be reminded to renew Etsy listings for things that hadn't sold in a long long time. I no longer needed to try to remember to keep track of fabric expenses and sales...and pay the darn sales tax every January. No more trying to get great product photos to post on the website...no more hours of photo-editing and post-editing to try to get it just right so hundreds of people would find my bags on Etsy (over the hundreds of other reusable fabric bags posted there).
So for now the store is still there, but nothing is listed in it. If anyone ever wants to commission a quilt feel free to reach out - I do enjoy making quilts for people. Now I plan to buy fabric and not keep the receipt, gift quilts left and right, and not worry about self-promotion. I'll continue to blog here to document my creations for posterity, and will be posting on Instagram. If you were one of the 270 people who bought something from my store over the last decade - thank you!
Happy weekend everyone! This feels like the last normal weekend in December and maybe you have some time to make a Christmas quilt?? If so, read on and you'll find a link to download the FREE pattern for this version of my patchwork wreaths.
But first let's talk a little bit my new quilt!
When I first started playing with my patchwork wreath block, this layout (above) is how I envisioned the block being used, but I saw it as being made from scrappy 2 1/2" squares. I made a test block of the scrappy version (see below left), and then started on a solid version of the block, when a friend suggested that I make a mega-sized scrappy version of the block, and that ended up happening first. You can click here to read about the mega-block finished quilt, or see the finished product here.
The original scrappy 28" block ironically was the first block made, and has yet to be made in to a quilt. On the right is the first block made from solid fabric, waiting to be sewn together.
Regardless, after finishing the mega-block version of my wreath, I got back to work on the regular-sized solid blocks, making sure I noted cutting instructions, fabric requirements, and assembly directions as I went.
I used Robert Kaufman's Mammoth Flannel to back this quilt. I hadn't used their flannel before and was ordering online...assuming it would be fuzzy. I have to say that after pre-washing the backing, and washing it several times when the quilt was completed, it still isn't fuzzy. To me this fabric is more like homespun than flannel. It's thicker than regular quilting cotton, and is obviously woven, but is not fuzzy or soft. I am thrilled with the color and look of the backing though.
This quilt finishes at 70" square, has my usual "Soft and White" batting, and was quilted by my local long-arm quilter using a panto called "Fish Net" by Urban Elementz.
I've compiled the instructions and have it available here to down load. I have not had this pattern "tested," so if you notice a mistake, please let me know and I'll make the correction and re-post.
Please also note that these are just the directions for making 1 block, not the whole quilt. Some time in the future perhaps I'll put together directions for this actual quilt, but for now, if you'd like to make something similar to my quilt, you just need to add 6 1/2" sashing between the blocks, and then an 8 1/2" border. Click below to download the PDF directions for the solid block.
Thanks for stopping by, and if you make a quilt using this block, please tag it with #patchworkwreath so I can see your work!
I'm having so much fun with the wreath block that I sketched a week ago or so. A friend suggested that I make a really big version of the wreath, so I did! Then more friends were interested in a pattern...so I did that too!
Click below to download a PDF with directions for the mega block wreath quilt shown above:
And the best part?? I have a new quilt top to hand off to my long-arm quilter and hopefully a new Christmas quilt for Christmas 2018. Fingers crossed.
September has come and gone, and I had a pretty successful month sewing; including a couple of quilt finishes. I'm just going to jump right in to it:
Works in Progress (WIP's):
After I finished the memory quilts last month, I felt like working on a few more old WIP's, so I sewed together a bunch of medium-value red and white half-yards to make a backing for my scrapping flying geese quilt (below). And that's as far as I got on that one! Nothing like a big quilt needing to be basted to slow one down on that project.
I also continue to stitch away on my next hexagon project. I'm still not committed to a design, but I'm enjoying sewing lots of low-volume fabrics together. (You can see my latest flower above.)
This month I started and finished (!) a pumpkin quilt for fall. I made this pattern about the same time a year ago and really enjoyed how quickly it all went together. I had the quilt quilted by my local long-arm quilter and I love how it turned out. I tried so hard to make this one "fall themed" rather than specifically for Halloween, but in the end I went with some glow-in-the-dark cats for the backing...
As you may have read already, this month I finished the memory quilts for my cousin and aunt/uncle, along with a blue string baby quilt. You can read about those quilts here and here. I am pretty excited that I was able to finish 4 quilts this month. That maybe a new record for me (though some of those tops took a long time to make).
Traveling Bee Blocks:
This month I remade the bee blocks that were stolen last month. For Steph's Norwegian quilt, I did my best to recreate the original two star-in-a-star blocks, and then I made a third. I also remade Kayla's blocks, but forgot to get their picture before I shipped them off. These blocks mark the last blocks for round 2 of our traveling quilt bee. Time to think about what I'd love for round 3!
That's all for projects this month. I made a lot of stuff, right?
But I also had an amazing fabric-buying opportunity this month. Heather Ross re-released her Lightening Bugs collection (shown below), and I was lucky enough to buy a few of the bundles of fabric. I can't remember when I bought the fabric, but it arrived this month!
The 32 yards I bought from Heather, combined with fabric to back the pumpkin quilt, plus buying some fabrics that I needed for other specific projects made for a large fabric-buying month.
Fabric Purchased: 50 yards
Fabric Used: 48.25 yards
Net for the Month: 1.75 yards UP
Net for the Year: 47 yards UP
In all, I'm up 47 yards for the year. I think I can go ahead now and say that I'm not going to end the year negative (using more than I bought). But I really am not sure what October and November will bring. And who has time to sew in December?? I'm ok with it though. It's been an interesting activity to track my fabric purchases vs. usage. I'm not sure if I'll do it for next year, but I am looking forward to comparing 2018 to 2017. (I think I did better at using up fabric last year.)
Happy Fall to Everyone! Here's to cool rainy days with lots of sewing.
My cousin passed away unexpectedly last December and I offered to make my aunt and uncle and his sister a memory quilt from my cousin's old shirts, shorts and pants (no t-shirts!). I wanted the quilts to look like traditional pieced quilts, not what I had always seen done for memory quilts - with large squares of fabric from shirts sewn together in a 1-square pattern (click here to see what I'm talking about).
I had see this quilt on Instagram, and liked the idea of making a string quilt. I thought it would be a way to mix a lot of fabrics successfully, but wasn't sure how I wanted to construct the blocks. The "Blue Strings" baby quilt that I just blogged about was my first attempt at constructing string blocks. The primary color baby string quilt was my second attempt (though it's still waiting to be quilted).
The two different construction methods that I used worked well enough, but after making these 2 quilts, I decided that with my cousins shirts I didn't want to mix all the different fabrics in one block and I didn't want to have to tear out foundation paper. In the end, I didn't use either method that I tested, and instead tried something new entirely, and I loved it.
For my blocks, I cut apart the shirts and pants/shorts to make them in to the biggest flattest pieces that I could. I also left pockets and buttons where I could.
Next, I cut 12 1/2" squares from the biggest pieces I had (the backs and arms of shirts and the legs of pants), and cut the rest of the smaller pieces in to strips of varying widths (from 1 1/4" - 2 3/4"). Once I had everything cut and could see what I had to work with, I separated the large 12 1/2" squares in to a set of dark squares for my aunt and uncle's quilt in Wisconsin, and a set of lighter squares for my cousin's quilt in Florida. Then I went to work using the "slice and insert" method - slicing the 12 1/2" square and sewing in a strip of a contrasting fabric. I opted to use 1 fabric for all the inserted strips in each block, and tried to keep things consistent. For example, I used all the strips from the camo shorts in navy blue 12 1/2" blocks, and strips from the black and white shirt in light blue squares, etc. When I had inserted 4 strips in each square piece of fabric, I trimmed the block down to 10 1/2" square.
I backed both of the quilts with the same deer head print from Art Gallery fabrics (Hello Bear Buck), and quilted them with 1 1/2" spaced straight lines. Since some of the clothing fabrics are heavier than quilting cotton, the quilts are also a little heavier than my normal quilts, but have a lovely drape and feel to them. I was worried about incorporating things like Carhartt canvas in the quilts, but actually found that the canvas was one of my favorite fabrics to work with - the more slippery synthetic shirt fabric not so much.
I am thrilled with how these "memory" quilts turned out, and with the fact that people don't immediately recognize that the fabrics in the quilts are old shirts and pants. I think that they look like great quilts in themselves, and have special meaning to the people who will be using them.
Both quilts finish at roughly 60" square (using a 6x6 layout and 36 blocks each).
Blocks finish at 10" x 10"
For pictures of these quilts in progress, please check out #quiltsfrombeau
I feel like I haven't actually finished a quilt in a long long time, and it feels good.
This little guy was made for two reasons: the first was to try out piecing a "string" quilt using a paper tear-away foundation, and the second was to make a quilt that I could back with this particular fabric (see pic below).
I had fun pulling all these grays and blues from my fabric stash - and even had the green binding fabric on hand already. My friends tease me that I've made a lot of blue quilts lately (here, here, here, here and here), but I still love the cooling, calming feeling I get when I look at blues and grays together.
This quilt finishes at roughly 32" by 40" and I used blocks that finished at 6.5" square
I quilted it myself with straight lines spaced 1" apart, and I used my usual Warm & White batting.
I didn't love the paper foundation method that I used for this quilt - I'm never a huge fan of pulling the papers when the blocks are made (or when the quilt top is assembled). So for my memory quilts, I opted to go another way for construction. More on that soon!
August was a flurry of work and preparation during the first half of the month and then a couple of major let-downs in the second-half of the month.
For the first two weeks or so, I spent a lot of time preparing for the Sewtopia sewing retreat in Milwaukee. I cut up 7 yards of fabric for the class with Tara Faughnan, made a swap item, and finished two sets of traveling bee blocks to surprise my roomie (one of the sets of blocks were her blocks and I hoped to surprise her by returning all of them to her).
Then we got a call that my father-in-law had only hours to live (he's been fighting cancer for 2 years), and I had to cancel my trip to Milwaukee the day before I was set to leave (to stay home to watch my kids), and my husband rushed home to be with his parents. First major bummer was cancelling my trip. (My father-in-law lived through the weekend...and actually lived for two more weeks after that).
Since I wasn't able to deliver the traveling bee blocks to my friend in person in Milwaukee, I popped them in the mail to surprise her when she got back from the retreat. When, after a few days, she hadn't received the package, we tracked it and slowly figured out that it had been delivered Saturday while she was gone (it was Tuesday), and had been stolen from the lobby of her apartment complex. We lost all the blocks for two quilts. It was the last round for one set of blocks, and the other set was being returned to the person who started the quilt. Major bummer number 2.
The month ended on a very sour note, and I think that's why it's taken me a little while to get around to putting this post together. Moving on tho...
Works in Progress (WIPs):
I was happy to finish the second memory quilt top in August (above). So exciting to have an empty design wall once again.
I guess that my prep for Tara's Sewtopia class counts as a new project. I cut 7 yards of fabric in to 6 1/2" strips and had so much fun picking colors (top right) and actually ordering fabric for the project rather than just trying to pull from my stash. Friends who attended the retreat picked up the class materials for me, and I hope to start the quilt at our "quiltn' sisters" retreat in October.
August is "Back to School" in Colorado, and this year I opted to sew some boxy totes for my 4th graders to use as pencil cases. I had fun watching them pick fabrics and got a kick out of their choices (top left).
Traveling Bee Blocks:
I was really down-heartened by the loss of two sets of our traveling bee blocks. I felt terrible. Even to the point that I really didn't want to sew for a while. So many people had put so much work and thought in to their blocks. And now they were all gone - probably in a dumpster somewhere, because what thief wants quilt blocks? Regardless, below are the blocks I made, and above were all the blocks for made for each quilt. For Steph's Norwegian quilt (above right), I made two star-in-a-star blocks that were 16" square, and for Kayla's neon flying geese quilt (above left) I adapted a block by Kristi (@initialkstudio) and made 5 strips of flying geese. As always, you can check out the hashtag #iwishicouldgotootravelingquiltbee2 on Instagram for more pictures of all of our traveling quilts.
Every August my local quilt group hosts a quilt show and I had the project of making the award ribbons again this year. I've gotten the process dialed in and enjoy making and assembling the parts of the ribbons.
The other project that I finished last month was my swap item for Sewtopia Milwaukee: an English-paper-pieced pillow. I had made this ring of colorful hexagons to try out an idea for my next epp quilt, and it was tacked to my design wall partially finished. I was undecided on whether I wanted to make an entire quilt of these rings (or in the layout show in this post), and while I debated with myself on which direction to go with that quilt idea, I opted to make the block in to a pillow.
Fabric Purchased: 25.5 yards
Fabric Used: 31.5 yards
Net for the Month: -6.25 yards
Net for the Year: 45.25 yards
When I had to cancel my trip to Milwaukee, I totally tried to make myself feel better by going fabric-shopping in Denver. That little excursion netted me about 19 yards of new fabric, and then there was the 6 yards that I bought for Tara Faughnan's Sewtopia class.
I used up fabric this month by piecing together a large quilt-back (more on this later), donating some unwanted fabric to my local guild, making the bee blocks, and making a few assorted bindings and quilt backs for the memory quilts.
On to September!
July flew by! Mainly that was because I spent every spare moment hand-stitching on my blue hexie EPP project (see above). I sewed at the campsite, I sewed in the car, and I sewed on the couch...a lot. But! For those of you who read my blog post yesterday, you know that I finished the hexie's! Read more on that below...and here for my blog post.
Works in Progress (WIP): I don't feel like I really worked on any WIP's. Or maybe I should say that the projects I worked on this month became finished projects. So no WIP's to update.
New Projects: nope. None.
Traveling Bee Blocks: Yes! I did make 6 bright, fun, wonky stars for this month's round of traveling bee blocks. (See above for a quick shot of my blocks before I popped them in the mail on the way to work.) As always, you can check out #iwishicouldgotootravelingquiltbee2 for additional fun photos of all of our projects.
Finished Projects: Yes - again! This month I NEEDED to finish my local guild's star challenge project, and my blue hexie quilt. And I did! See the link above for way more pics and info on my blue hexie quilt.
Fabric Purchased: 6.25
Fabric Used: 2.75
Net for the Month: 3.5 UP
Net for the Year: 51.5 UP
I made one big fabric purchase this month: 6 yards of the Cotton + Steel fabric below to use in a class at Sewtopia Milwaukee next month. We're going to make skirts, so I thought I'd make one to go with my annual Halloween witch costume. Stay tuned on my second-ever garment-sewing attempt...
It's done! The English-paper-pieced (epp) quilt that I started April 28 is done! And in time for my local quilt show.
For those non-quilters who are reading this post, "EPP" is a hand-piecing technique used to make a quilt top using paper templates. That means that I sewed this entire quilt top by hand. For that, I'm giving myself a big old self-high-five.
I tried EPP for the first time at the Sewtopia retreat in Salt Lake City last April. I turned the block from the class project in to the pillow shown here, and then immediately started this quilt.
About a month in to this project, I decided that this was the quilt that I wanted to submit to my local guild's quilt show in August, so I put the pedal to the metal, and honestly I feel like I didn't do anything but sit on the couch and hand-stitch during any free moments that I had in July.
Since I was trying a new-to-me technique for this quilt, I decided to continue that trend and used wool batting , and cotton lawn for the backing. I wanted a light-weight, higher loft quilt that had silky soft backing. Honestly, quilting this quilt was not pleasant. The quilt-top shifted something terrible, and I had to re-baste part way through. That, my friends, is a soul-crushing thing to have to do. I love how the quilt turned out, and totally will send a quilt to a long-arm quilter to quilt with wool batting; but I myself hope to never quilt a quilt with wool batting again myself.
Having said that piece about the wool batting, I will say that I am very happy with my decision to quilt the quilt using wavy horizontal lines. I think that the lines help camouflage some of the wrinkles and puckering that were caused by the quilt sandwich shifting during quilting.
Finished Size: 65" x 73"
Method: English-paper-piecing using 2 1/2" hexagons. Papers were brought from Paper Pieces.
Batting: Quilter's Dream Wool, twin size. Purchased from the Fatquarter Shop.
Backing: Cotton + Steel Lawn solid in Magenta, also purchased from the Fatquarter Shop.
To see more pictures of this quilt in progress, check out #MyrthsBlueHexies, or see this blog post, or this one.
P.S. - We got a new (old) chair lift chair this week, and the kids and I had fun using it as a quilt photo-shoot prop today. :)
Hey, Look! It's only the 3rd of July and here I am blogging! (Patting myself on the back.)
Works in Progress (WIP):
July was a good month. I worked very diligently on the first (dark) memory Quilt (above), and got the top finished. I also laid out the background blocks for the light version of the memory quilts (below), AND - I ordered backing fabric for both. That's going to remain secret until I actually quilt the quilts tho. Let me just say that I feel like it's perfect for remembering my cousin. To see WIP pics of these quilts check out #quiltsfromBeau on Instagram.
I am really enjoying working on my blue hexie quilt (I'm still plugging along on my blue flowers), and this month I started to think about what my next big hexagon quilt would be. I didn't want to do another monochrome hexie quilt, so I decided to play with layouts that would utilize multicolored hexies. Then I began cutting all the bigger pieces in my scrap bins, along with a bunch of low-volume stash pieces.
After searching for a layout that I liked, I settled on the design on the right. You can ignore the colors shown in the design: it's very tedious to color a design using 20 colors, so I usually select 4 or 5 and just use those for the computer design. In my head I know that the quilt will have way more colors and variety. I sewed one block just to make sure that I liked how it was coming together (above left), made a mental note on what fabrics worked well (saturated ones) and then cut lots more fabric. However, now I am going back to focusing on my blue hexie quilt. For all the pictures of my blue hexie's, check out: #Myrthsbluehexies
The second new project that I started in June required me to cut apart my Kona fabric color card. I designed this star in Illustrator after a computer class at QuiltCon in February. I was very intrigued with using transparency to see how the colors interacted. I want to make the star for a challenge with my local sewing group, so I had to figure out the fabrics that would work for the overlapped parts. A friend reminded me of a FREE program designed by Anne Sullivan of Play Crafts that would help with that selection process. On her website you can upload a photo (or a jpeg of something you've designed in Illustrator), and the program tells you the Moda Bella or Kona Cotton solids that are closest to the colors in your image. How awesome is that? So I noted the fabric names, pulled them from my newly cut-apart card, checked that they looked good, and then ordered the fabrics. I really was dreading trying to match the colors on my own and was so happy to be able to use Anne's program: the "Palette Builder."
I finished my first ever hand-pieced item. Yes, I did quilt it by machine, but the whole front of the pillow (above) was pieced by hand. This pillow started as part of a class with Libs Elliott at a Sewtopia retreat in April. It was my first time trying "English paper piecing" (epp). I liked it much more than I thought I would, and the class is what spurred me to try the bigger hexies in an actual quilt (my blue hexie quilt). Can't wait to pull out this pillow next February.
Above is one of the purchases that I made at Stash Fabrics this month. I got to know Stash Fabrics when they were the pop-up shop at Sewtopia Atlanta. One of the best things about their shop is the fact that you can buy fabric in 1/4 yard cuts. Most fabric shops have a minimum cut of 1/2 yard. With my blue hexie quilts, I'm going for variety and don't want 1/2 yards of fabric - so I happily picked new fabrics from Stash and look forward to including them in my quilt (and not having a ton of blue fabric left over).
When my order arrived, it included the note below:
How cool is that?? I am a person who never ever ever wins anything. So I was very excited to receive the red and blue fat quarters of Kona. Did anyone see a pic of my purchase in the Stash newsletter?
Fabric Purchased: 25.75 yards
Fabric Used: 12.5 yards
Net for the Month: 13.25 yards UP
Net for the Year: 48 yards UP
This month I made basically 3 larger fabric purchases:
1. Christmas fabric to make pillowcases for my 3 children
2. Backing fabric for the two memory quilts
3. More blue fabric for my hexie quilt
I haven't yet used any of the Christmas or backing fabric, but I did do well immediately cutting almost all of the blue fabric. I expect big "usage" numbers when I quilt the memory quilts and make the pillowcases.
This month I noticed that making a quilt top (or almost 2) with all upcycled clothing fabric really skews (in my mind) the fabric usage and purchases. I'm not counting the converted clothes in my usages or purchases. So I made a quilt top and didn't get to say that I used any fabric, and on the same note, I didn't have to buy any fabric. I guess that it washes out in the end, but when I make a quilt top, I enjoy seeing how much fabric I used up making that top.
**Note - Since I worked on two sets of traveling bee blocks in May, I didn't have any that I worked on in June. Stay tuned for July's bee blocks!