Friday, December 28, 2018

Super-Fun Stepping Stones

In October, when I was ridiculously busy with Quilt Market and Quilt Festival prep, I dreamed of a specific quilt.  I wanted to make my Stepping Stones Cutie Pattern in Poison Purple fabrics with Acid Green background.  I went to my local quilt shop, Quilt Basket, and started looking for 16 Poison Purple fabrics since all Cutie Patterns use 16 fat eighths.  The shop had plenty of fabrics to choose from, but the quilt looked better in my mind.  All of the Cutie fabrics in one color just fell flat, no matter how vibrant the Poison Purple was.  I did what I normally do when things don't turn out the way I want them to; I screamed "Plot Twist!" and bought was the Alison Glass Road Trip collection with a Sun Print in bright yellow/green for the background instead.  It had the same punch I was going for but the variety of colors/prints made it actually work!

I usually quilt Stepping Stones with a lot of (wait for it....) ribbon candy quilting, but this time I wanted to see what it would look like if I only quilted straight lines using my walking foot.  Well -- it.  Looked.  FANTASTIC!

I took to heart the "lime green is a neutral" school of thought and quilted this using FabuLux Hint of Lime thread with DecoBob in the bobbin.  I love how the sage DecoBob bobbin blended in with the bright pink backing fabric.  Have I mentioned before how much I love DecoBob in my bobbins?  I almost want to make this quilt again and quilt it with FabuLux In The Pinks, Blue Heaven, or Wisteria thread since they would have all looked great and each looked different.  Sadly, I have too many other quilts in my mind (and in my quilt studio!) to remake this quilt three more times.

Do you like the straight line quilting in this quilt?  If you live near me (New York's Hudson Valley), I will be teaching a class at the Quilt Basket in early January on how to use the walking foot on your home machine to get this result on your quilts at home.  I designed a simple new quilt, Quilters' Hearts, for students to practice their machine quilting in class.  Each Cutie Pack will make TWO Quilters' Hearts quilts and each machine quilting class is a one-day class.  I used Tula Pink Zuma fabric for my class sample:

The new Cutie pattern is not back from the printer yet, but we will give directions to enrolled students so they can make the quilt in time for the class.

Have you ever planned a quilt in your mind that didn't look good once you saw the fabrics together?  Do you scream "Plot Twist" and do something weird when things don't work out the way you planned? 

Thursday, December 27, 2018


Even though I basically embraced the New Year mentality in the beginning of December, I am still aware that 2018 is coming to a close.

I'm cleaning my sewing room and trying to finish the projects stacked on my cutting table rather than finding new homes for them.

Projects like:

Scarves to Share using Melanie Testa's Florabunda fabrics.  I participated in her fabric release blog hop back in June and a these fat eighth leftovers have been sitting on my cutting table ever since.

They are gone now, but other projects remain.  What shall I work on next?

Maybe organizing my thread racks?

If you want to see more of my clean(er) sewing room, check out a short FaceBook Live video I did last week.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018


One of my goals during my time at home this winter is "Clean the Sewing Room."  We all know that a clean sewing room is an utter impossibility, but I like to pretend sometimes.

I decided to at least try to clear off my cutting surface.  Earlier this fall, I made a quilt.  I had SO MUCH FUN quilting it!

How does this relate to cleaning my cutting table?  Well... the scraps for this quilt have been on my cutting table since September.  I decided to make something out of them just to make some space on the table.

I made the same pattern, Share and Share Alike, but used the leftover border fabric for half of the blocks and the leftover backing fabric for the other half.  Scraps from the blocks are in each block.  I pulled some fabric from my stash collection for the borders and backing.  I quilted it using my go-to FabuLux Giggle thread.

And did I make space on the table?

Some.  I think I need to deal with the fabric behind the rotary cutter next.  Hmmm..... which Cutie Pattern shall I use?  Scarves to Share?

Monday, December 10, 2018

It's That Time of Year

The time of year when I'm done traveling and tell myself "I really shouldn't drink so much soda pop."  Let the great Detox begin!

Here is this year's strategy:

When I was teaching at The Quilter's Studio in Fairfax, VA last week, a student brought me a drink from the restaurant next door -- Red Medicine from First Watch.  It was DELICIOUS!

I'm going to try drinking this when I have an urge to drink Diet Dr. Pepper.

Here's my current mock-up of the restaurant's drink:

2 Harney Hot Cinnamon Spice Tea Bags
4 cups near boiling water
2 T local honey
1/2 cup cranberry juice
2-3 T pomegranate juice

Steep the tea bags in the water and add the honey while mixture is still hot.  When cool, add juices.  Serve over ice.

So far, so good.

Wish me luck.

Friday, December 07, 2018

Super-Sweet Sweet Tooth Cutie Quilt

I feel the need for another Sweet Tooth Cutie Quilt every few weeks.

Here's one of the latest:

Doesn't this whole quilt look like spring?  I took this photo on one of the last sunny days of autumn and will keep looking at this picture throughout the dreary winter to remind me of sunnier days.

The ribbon candy quilting is probably one of the reasons I love this quilt so much.  The 1" Ribbon Candy stencil is a favorite of my students!

Thursday, December 06, 2018

My Day on Jenny Lyon's Blog Hop!

I'm so excited to share a fellow machine quilting teacher's new book!

From my decade of teaching machine quilting, I know that there are many different quilters, quilt teachers, and ways to learn machine quilting.  Jenny and I quilt and teach differently and I am tickled to share Jenny's book with you.

My favorite part of her book was when she described quilted postcards as "a great place to try new free-motion quilting ideas... with minimal investment in time and materials".  I couldn't agree more!

Many quilters make too much of practice.  They think it has to be an entire scrap quilt or at least a fat quarter-size quilt sandwich.  Not so!  It can be a small postcard.  Let that postcard make you happy and then send it through the mail to deliver love to someone far away.  Jenny calls her quilting "Plactice" to combine "Play" and "Practice."  I couldn't agree more!

I recently sent a little Hanukkah love through the mail.

I stitched a Star of David in two different threads (variegated blue and variegated gray) on white fabric over cotton batting.

The fabric is wet because I took the photo right after I removed the markings on the fabric.

Then I fused it to a double-sided fusible stabilizer, added a plain white backing, trimmed using my Postcard Trimming Tool, and zigzagged the edges with FabuLux Blue Heaven thread.

I make a lot of postcards and send them in cellophane envelopes so they are clean when they arrive at their destination.

I must confess that my Hanukkah cards arrived a day late because I lost track of the calendar.  I haven't started making my Christmas cards yet and won't guarantee that they'll be on time.  Even late, no recipients have ever complained about receiving a lovely card in the mail.

So, do you want a chance to win Jenny's book?  Leave a comment here on my blog saying what your favorite thread is.  If your ID doesn't link back to you, please leave a valid email address or way to contact you.  I will choose a winner on December 14, 2018.
a great place to try new free-motion quilting ideas. With minimal
investment in time and materials

A few notes about the hop:
– You can enter each day but can only win once.
– Each blogger will leave the comments open for 8 days and then will choose a winner using a random method.
– Jenny will send winners a signed copy of her book.
– If you find a blog along the way that you find interesting, sign up to receive notices of each future posting. This is a talented group!
– International winners will receive a digital copy.
The more the merrier-feel free to pass my post on to others so that we can all play along.
Here’s the schedule:
Dec 1     Jenny K. Lyon                   
Dec 2     Lisa Chin                             
Dec 3     Catherine Redford       
Dec 4     Lyric Kinard                      
Dec 5     Heidi Proffetty                
Dec 6     Debby Ritenbaugh Brown
Dec 7     Libby Williamson             
Dec 8     Barbara Black                    
Dec 9     Cindy Grisdela                  
Dec 10   Teri Lucas                            
It’s that simple! Now, won’t you play along? Click on the appropriate link for the day, make a comment, and you’ll be in the running to win a free, signed copy. Wouldn’t that be nice to snuggle up with Jenny's as we enter the winter months?

Tuesday, December 04, 2018

Bullet Journal

My new year starts when the last trip of the year is over.  Which is now.  Today, actually.

Happy New Year!

I love everything about New Year, especially a new planner.  I'm a Bullet Journal fan, so I make my own planner.  I bought blank notebooks online and each becomes whatever I need it to be.  Blank notebooks are boring and I'm a quilter, so I made my own planner cover when I was under the weather last week.  Want to see it?

Yes, I'm teasing.  I pulled out five different FabuLux threads and started playing with my Handi Quilter Stitch 510 machine.  This is the first time I ever converted the foot and plate for free-motion quilting.  Why did I wait so long???

I quilted the entire outside cover like this:

These circles were inspired by a garment stitched by the incomparable Gilbert Muniz.

I stitched the cover:

While I'm always happen when using my planner, I think this cover is going to make me even happier!

Did you know that there is a sampler pack of the threads that I used in this project?  Check them out HERE.

If you want to know more about bullet journaling, Dot Journaling is a good book to read to get started.

I also found someone's blog post about what they wish they knew before they started their bullet journal.  Read it HERE.

Happy New Year and Happy Journaling!

Monday, December 03, 2018

Productivity Report: The Productivity Project

In case you didn't know it, I'm a productivity geek.  I love to find little tricks and fixes to help me be more organized and get more done.  Going into an office supply store is more tempting to me than a fabric store and a new yearly planner makes me weak in the knees!  New Year is my favorite time of the year because I get to start everything over again, but my New Year starts this week because today I am returning from my last teaching trip of 2018.  I leave again in February, so I try to make the most of the 6-8 weeks I'll be home by celebrating New Year early.

I just finished reading (listening to) The Productivity Project by Chris Bailey.  I listen to books while quilting, driving, and working around the house, so basically I listen nearly all of my waking hours.  This young man spent a year testing out different factors of productivity (sleep, food, solitude, etc.) to learn what impacted his productivity the most.

Sprinkled throughout the book are titles of other productivity books.  I've read some and plan to read the rest.

Getting Things Done by David Allen
I can, without risk of exaggeration, state that this book Changed.  My.  Life.  I re-read it at least once a year, sometimes more.

Eat That Frog
I read this book once, years ago.  My memory is that it was light on substance and can be summed up in one sentence:  "Do the most important task of the day first"

Getting Results the Agile Way
Haven't read it.  It's now on my list.

Work the System
Haven't read it.  It's now on my list.

I Know How She Does It
Haven't read it.  It's now on my list.

168 Hours
This book was eye-opening for me.  It was the first time I considered that doing everything myself wasn't always the best use of my time.

Willpower Instinct
Haven't read it.  It's now on my list.

Procrastination Equation
Haven't read it.  It's now on my list.

Haven't read it.  It's now on my list.

The Power of Habit
This book made me realize that habits can be good as well as bad.

Haven't read it.  It's now on my list.

How We Got to Now
Watching this 6-part documentary is now scheduled as a series of date nights with my husband.  Because we are a wild and crazy couple.

The Shallows
Haven't read it.  It's now on my list.

The Happiness Advantage
This is a great book and brilliant audiobook by the man who brought me my favorite TED talk... EVER!

Haven't read it.  It's now on my list.

Some of the concepts I noted from this book are:
  • The Rule of Three -- Three goals for the day, three goals for the week, three goals for the year.
  • Unplug from technology frequently
  • Know when you work best (Biological Prime Time)
  • Identify your low-return tasks and shrink, delegate, or eliminate them
  • Time + Attention + Energy = Productivity
The author has additional resources on his website.

While The Productivity Project didn't rock my world, it was a great start to my upcoming Year of Productivity (what I name every new year).

Do you have other favorite productivity books that didn't make this author's list?  One of my weirdest (and best!) reads is Work Clean.  Seriously, your work life is like a kitchen.  Read this book.