Monday, April 18, 2011

Featured Fabric of the Week

A friend of mine recently suggested that I start featuring a bolt of fabric at the shop. Just one? Really? Well, why not! So here is this week's fabric. I may be jumping the gun a bit by saying "of the week" but we'll see how it goes. It was certainly fun putting together something for this week.

Here's the best part. This bolt of fabric, and only this bolt, is available to in store customers for only $5 a yard. And we're not talking clearance or discount stuff here. This is top quality, top designer fabric. It's Kaffe Fassett's Cogs in yellow. Very fun and very springy. And look, we've already selected a great set of coordinates to work with it (Thanks Jessica!).

Jessica says she would take the entire group of coordinates, use the Easy Dresden template and make a dresden plate pillow with the featured fabric as the center of the dresden and then also as the back of the pillow. Great idea.

How about taking a few of those coordinates and making an adorable girl's skirt from the book Sweet Sassy Skirts?

And after you make the skirt, you can make a cute butterfly yo-yo, attach it to a headband, and have a very well coordinated little girl. Add an applique of a butterfly shape to a t-shirt for a complete spring outfit.

I love the Four Corners Apron pattern to show off any fabric. Pair the featured fabric with any of its coordinates for a great spring apron. My personal favorite coordinate for this project is the blue swirly fabric about halfway down on the left behind the pattern.

Another idea is to play around with the blocks in one of our newer books, Fusible Magic.

Just think, if you played around with five of these blocks, set them on point, and used the featured fabric for your setting blocks, you'd have an awesome spring wall hanging.

There are even more ideas that you can see in the shop. There won't be a big sign with the sale price. Just tell us you saw it here when you check out and we'll be sure to give you a great deal on our first ever featured fabric special.

Hope to see you in the shop this week!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Inspired by Zentangle

I love quilter's gossip. It goes something like this:
Did you see last Thursday's episode of Quilting Arts? Well, I didn't see it either, but I was talking to Holley, and she said they were talking about this new way to design a quilt. You just take a piece of paper and doodle on it, you know, like you used to do in school when you were bored. Wait, let me think. Oh yeah, they called it Zentangle.

And that's all it took to get me started. A little quilter's gossip. I wanted to try it just because the name sounded fun AND I was an awesome doodler in school. So, with only a name and a brief description, I set out to create my own fabric Zentangle. I decided to make a design for a small embroidery hoop. I took a pencil and drew/scribbled randomly on a piece of paper. I drew the circle of the hoop as my boundaries, and filled in each section with a different fabric.

I was off to a good start, but wanted to do more. For my next project, I decided to add an image to the center of design.

Next, I traced the inside of the embroidery hoop to establish a boundary. Then I closed my eyes and lightly drew lines all over the design. I drew in a pattern of gently curving lines horizontally and vertically. They can barely be seen in the picture.

Next, I darkened the lines that I wanted to use as part of the design and made a few adjustments to make sure I didn't have any super tiny pieces.

Next, I numbered each of the sections.

I remembered a charm pack of dragonfly prints that had been given to me several years ago. It was perfect for this project. I chose 15 of the charm squares and tried to stick with blue, purple, and pink.

Then I traced all of those sections onto double sided fusible interfacing. Steam-a-Seam 2 Lite is my fusible of choice. I tried to be careful and trace exactly on the line if it was on the outside of the circle or directly connected to the dragonfly. All other lines were traced about a sixteenth of an inch inside the line.

I cut the numbered pieces apart and assigned them to a fabric. Normally, I would let this occur in a totally random fashion, but I wanted to be sure that light fabrics were next to the dragonfly and since I was using most of them twice, I wanted to be sure they weren't too close together.

I ironed each piece to the back of the fabric, and cut them out. Then I began placing them on the background fabric. This was a little tricky since the resulting picture is the mirror image of the drawing I made. If I do more of these, I will be sure to reverse the image before tracing it onto the fusible interfacing. It can be tricky to put together a puzzle using the mirror image!

Nothing was ironed down until the entire piece was laid out. It's a good thing too because I had to make a number of adjustments to make everything fit. I can tell I need to be more precise with my drawing and cutting. Again, if I make more, I will spend more time drafting the pattern and tracing the pieces to make sure they fit together better.

And the finished piece...

I'm not quite sure what to do with it from here. I know I don't want to sew around each piece individually but I need to do something to secure them a bit. I may try using some sort of light translucent thread and stitch a curvy, loopy line that mimics a dragonfly in flight. Or a sheer fabric stitched over the top might be fun, too. I'm not feeling too Zen about the next step of this project just yet but I'm certainly ZenTickled about ZenTangle!

Oh, one more thing. I actually looked up what real Zentangle is and it's a very cool art form. Check it out at

Monday, April 11, 2011

Dreaming About Chairs

After being off for a week, my first day back at the shop was fabulous! Designer and teacher Alethea Ballard was in the shop for a day of instruction on her Dream Chair Quilts. She is a delightful person and the students had a great time in her class. I had a blast watching each project unfold.

Since Alethea's home is in California, she wasn't able to bring all of her finished quilts, but she was able to show lots of examples on her computer. All of the students were able to complete most of their design in class. Here are their works in progress:

One of the great features in her pattern is that each project comes in two sizes, so you can make a big statement with a single chair, a small statement, or put together several small chairs into a group. I'm sure there are hundreds of other combinations, but I love it that the multiple sizes are there without having to use your copier to create a larger or smaller version.

After seeing all these great examples, I have started thinking about making one. I think it would be fun to make two chairs side by side. One is my case, there would be a dog toy and stray army men underneath, a blanket draped over the back, and probably a book laying in the seat. The other is fantasy...I'm going to have to think about that a bit. Would it be a rocker on a porch, a luxurious chaise lounge, or a chair and ottoman? It's so great to be freshly inspired.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Inside Outside

I have a dual personality when it comes to where I like to spend my time. When I'm home, I prefer to be inside...sewing, organizing, reading, cleaning...all those inside things to do. It is a rare day to find me in the yard doing something productive. Fortunately, my husband Duane, enjoys taking care of the outside of our home.

However, when I am away from home, all I want to be is outside. It's spring break for the kids and I'm taking most of the week off with them. They made a list of things they wanted to do this week and we're working through it. Here's what we've done so far:

Friday - We attended the University of Georgia's annual insect zoo. Not only can you see all sorts of insects and other critters, but can also experience bug cuisine. I was brave and tasted meal worms in a chocolate snack mix and crickets mixed in caramel popcorn. There was also pasta salad and brownies, but the bugs were a little too prominent in those dishes. If I were in the midst of a culture that ate that sort of thing, I'm sure I would have tried it, but not just for fun. I also pet a tarantula who was bald on part of his back where he had been pet so much. The kids enjoyed it just as much as I did, though none of them desired to pursue bugs as a career.

Saturday - We played tennis, or I should say, we attempted to hit a ball back and forth over a net. It was great fun, but tired muscles and a sunburn led to a wonderful afternoon nap for me.

Sunday - The only request from our teenager for the week was to go to Six Flags over Georgia. We thought about going with him but decided it was too expensive, and I just wasn't excited about going. Is it possible I've outgrown theme parks? I wasn't comfortable with him driving himself and it's too far to take him and then pick him up. The perfect solution emerged. Duane and I dropped him and a friend off when the park opened and proceeded to Sweetwater Creek State Park for a day of hiking. It was a beautiful day and a beautiful park. About a third of our hike was along the banks of this creek, and the rest was through the surrounding woods.

Monday - My mom and niece visited and brought lunch. We attempted to go pick strawberries but they aren't quite ready yet. Instead, we went to the playground for a while, then came home and played Scrabble while the kids did their own thing.

Tuesday - A lazy day at home with reading and relaxation.

Duane is home with us for the rest of the week. I think we have more hiking, a night camping in the backyard, and maybe a late night game of kick the can on the itinerary. We'll see what other adventures the week will bring.

Next week, I'll be back to more sewing and crafting. It's fun to take a break, but it's also fun to get back to the routine and the things I love to do.
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