Thursday, January 31, 2019

My Personal War on Scraps -- Fabric Twine Trivet!

I'm serious about sorting and using my scraps this year.  As I'm going through my sewing room bin  by bin and bag by bag I'm find leftover fabric bits stashed EVERYWHERE!  I've been talking about this all month and many people ask me what I'm doing with the leftovers.  Here's my system:

Yardage -- Anything 1 yard or over gets put together in a bucket of yardage.  I pull from there when I need larger pieces (background, borders, backing, etc.) for a new project.

Half yards -- I keep a drawer full of half yard cuts

Fat Quarters -- I keep a drawer full of fat quarter cuts, either purchased or leftover from larger projects.

Fat Eighths -- I design Cutie Quilts which use 16 fat eighths (9"x22") for each quilt.  I cut my leftover fabric into fat eighths.  When I'm designing a new quilt and need to test the pattern, I often pull 16 "cuties" from my drawer to make the sample.  Sometimes they aren't very pretty, and sometimes they work together beautifully!

5" squares -- I'm a sucker for charm squares.  I love the Nickel Quilts books and find 5" squares incredibly useful in many projects.  I have a few patterns in the works that use charm squares, so stay tuned!  When I cut through my scraps, I cut 5" squares from the larger scrap pieces.  I have a humungous bucket of squares that I hope to deal with later this year.

2 1/2" strips -- I cut a lot of 2 1/2" strips from my leftovers.  I have made so many quilts from them because of all of the Jelly Roll patterns available.  I also use them in patterns whenever a 2 1/2" cut is required.  I have a HUGE bucket of 2 1/2" strips that I also hope to deal with later this year.

2 1/2" squares -- I cut 2 1/2" squares and store them together.  I make simple 4-patches, 9-patches, or use them in patterns requiring that size.  I don't have tons of them, so I keep them inside the 2 1/2" strip bucket.

1 1/2" strips -- This is probably my favorite bucket.  I have SO MANY 1 1/2" strips and each new project I finish has leftovers this size.  My absolutely favorite thing to do with 1 1/2" strips is make my Sweet Tooth Cutie pattern.  I have made about 5-6 of them in the last six months and have enough strips for another few already.  Why is this my favorite strip size and quilt?  Because I get to quilt ribbon candy in all of the strips!

Strings -- long pieces thinner than 1 1/2" go into a string bucket.  I just started making string quilts and I'm totally addicted.  Check out Bonnie Hunter's string quilt books.  She is the queen of strings!

Mini-strings -- I don't know what to call these, but they are strings that are too skinny to sew

I just started twisting them together to make fabric twine:

This is totally addictive.  Once I had a sizable ball of twine, I decided to sew it into a trivet

Here it is finished:

How large is it?  I didn't measure it, but I quit when it was the size of a mailing envelope.

I send my mom a package every week and thought ahead enough to make this easy to mail!  I plan to make more of trivets and also coasters.  I'm not sure that I'll ever make a rug, but it would work the same way.

Any piece of fabric that doesn't fit into the categories I already mentioned gets thrown into a dog bed for stuffing.  I have a friend who works with animal rescue and I deliver a dog bed or three to her every few months.  Hopefully they are bringing comfort to animals when they are most in need of love.

Do you have a system for scraps?  Are there sizes you cut and keep that are different than what I do?  Do you cut with projects in mind?  Or just stash leftovers (like I have done for the last 17 years)?

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Butterfly Garden Wall Hanging

Are you a member of Annie's Creative Studio?  I have a new episode there showing how to make this adorable Butterfly Garden Wall Hanging (pattern included).

Annie's Creative Studio is a subscription-based platform so if you are a member, you can watch an unlimited number of classes about quilting, knitting, crocheting and more for free; if you aren't yet a member, you can sign up for a free trial to watch this full episode and more!

Put your scraps or leftover 21/2” strips to good use by quilting butterfly wall art! In this Learn, Make, Create! episode, quilting expert Debby Brown will demonstrate piecing tricks for triangles and rows that will amaze you. Join her for a fun, small project that will boost your confidence as a quilter.

In this episode, you’ll learn how to:
·               Take the trickiness out of piecing triangles.
·               Piece squares together in a row.
·               Complete a small wall hanging to display or gift.

Watch the trailer for the episode HERE.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

The War on Scraps

As I'm cleaning out my sewing room, I'm finding UFOs, fabric, dust, and SCRAPS!  Where did all of these scraps come from?  And why didn't I deal with them when I first made them?

My new goal for this year is to put an end to all of the stashes of scraps I find in my sewing room.  My plan is to watch movies in the evenings with my husband and cut my scraps into sizes that I can easily use in my quilts.

I set up some tray tables, a small cutting station, and a small pressing station:

 I gathered my basked of scraps:

and then gathered all of the other stashes of scraps into a giant IKEA bag that I can barely lift:

And I haven't even found all of the scraps yet!!! I think I can cut scraps while watching three movies every night for the rest of the year and still have scraps left!

Every time I mutter about these scraps, I know that I can throw them into my dog beds and be done with them, but this "grew up in Pittsburgh with 70% unemployment" frugal gal can't bring herself to get rid of these knowing that they still have useful pieces left.

Do you have a stash of scraps that needs to be dealt with?  Do you dispose of them, stash them, or deal with them?

Share your best tips!

Monday, January 28, 2019

Does This Spark Joy?

I'm hard at work in my sewing room this month and unearthing all kinds of buried treasures.  Some I'm thrilled to restart and look forward to finishing.  Others... notsomuch.

I found this 10 year old purchase:

It's a pattern for a flower wallhanging with a FQ of printed Psalm passages.

I know that I don't want to make this quilt, but I wonder about the fabric.  What do you think of me using these as quilt labels for appropriate recipients if I add my name and year to each block?

Are you working on clearing out your sewing space?  What's your favorite buried treasure you've unearthed thus far?

Friday, January 25, 2019

Quilt Finish Friday

Earlier this month, I finished several quilt tops at my quilt retreat.  Since I'm trying to reduce the number of UFOs, I'm trying to quilt my tops shortly after they are finished.

This quilt was from a scrap quilt Sunday at the Quilt Basket waaaay back in 2000 or thereabouts.  I pulled out some dotty fat quarters and set the blocks with newly purchased black and white dots with a newly purchased purple dotted border.  I had enough to make two quilt tops, and this first one is going to a friend's granddaughter in Pittsburgh:

Gotta start them young, right?

I quilted this quilt with a simple swirl to keep it fluffy and cuddly:

Welcome to the world, little one!

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Did You Know?

Did you know that I love ribbon candy quilting?  It's not exactly a secret for I routinely wax poetic about it to anyone unfortunate enough to be within hearing distance.

Did you know that I wrote an article in Quilter's World Magazine about my love of ribbon candy quilting?

Did you notice this part of the cover?

If you can't read it on your phone screen, here's a close up:

Did you see that?  I'm a "Must-Read"!!!  And I'm technically a "cover girl"!!!

Look for this issue at your local quilt shop or subscribe HERE.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Happy, Healthy Sewing Room -- Does this Spark Joy?

I've mentioned Marie Kondo on this blog before.  Tidying seems to be taking the world by storm right now, and also overwhelming donation sites.  I don't have the energy to do a full-tilt cleanout like she suggests, but I am gradually sifting my possessions asking "Does this spark joy?"  I'm finished with my clothes, books, and linens, but … the sewing room.

I'm trying to clean out the sewing room in 2019 to make it my Happy Place.  I'm not sure what it will look like when it's finished, but I no longer want to see fabric and UFOs and kits that make me feel guilty.  I want everything in here to make me deliriously happy!

Working through my infusion recovery (feeling icky but wired from steroids) in my sewing room last week, I found a kit from 2006 and realized that it completely did NOT spark joy:

I simply adore Fig Tree fabrics.  I hoard them and ration them and pet them.  However, this pleated quilt doesn't spark ANY joy for me.  It requires no machine quilting and... I have no words to express how this machine quilter feels about quilts which require no quilting.

The fabric, however:

I'm petting and playing and deciding what to make of these gorgeous fabrics. What are your favorite jelly roll quilt patterns?  

What do you do when you find a quilt kit or UFO in the sewing stash that sparks absolutely no joy?  Do you feel that you have to finish it as started?  Or do you find ways to re-purpose the quilt/fabric into something that you love?

Monday, January 21, 2019

If You Give a Quilter a Snowstorm...

She's going to pull out a pile of 1 1/2" square scraps

And then she's going to remember this adorable free mini-quilt pattern:

and a conversation with one of the two cutest boys in the entire world* where he adorably says "Ap-ple!"

So she's going use her new Sizzix Big Shot Express to cut some letters and then begin to overthink her fabric choices:

I mean, REALLY overthink them:

But finally using Hedwig, her Handi Quilter Stitch 710, with a walking foot and a spool of FabuLux Noel thread, she's going to simply quilt these placemats:

and get them ready to mail to the two cutest boys in the entire world*:

Then she'll take a nap and wait for the next snowstorm.
*according to the unbiased opinion of this quilter/grandma

Friday, January 18, 2019

Quilt Finish Friday

I pieced several tops at my quilt retreat earlier this month and instead of letting them languish, I'm getting them quilted as soon as possible.

This quilt was from the Quilt Basket's Moda Club from approximately 2008.  My daughter and her fiancĂ© dug through all of my quilt kits (and they are LEGION) and picked out this Quilt Basket Moda Club quilt from 2008 or thereabouts to give to my daughter's future mother-in-law for her wedding.  (Our family is complicated; try to keep up.)

The fabric was oh so very yummy and naturally I added ribbon candy wherever I could.

Setting triangles scream for feathers, don't you think?

Congratulations to Judy and Pat!  I hope you enjoy your new quilt!

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Fun New Tools from Houston Quilt Market

I have the fun job of going to Quilt Market and reporting back on all of the new tools and gadgets that will soon be in your local quilt shops.  This behind-the-scenes at Quilt Market episode is featured on Annie's Creative Studio.

Annie's Creative Studio is a subscription-based platform where you can learn about quilting, knitting, crocheting, and more.  Sign up for a free trial HERE to watch the full episode.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Happy Healthy Sewing Room -- Happy Hands

I'm turning 50 this years but, due to a rare medical condition, my joints are much older that, including the joints in my hands.

When I go to the doctor or occupational therapist and they ask "Do you do any work with your hands?", this quilter laughs and laughs and laughs.

I've had to change the way that I quilt, but I haven't stopped quilting.  I don't do nearly as much hand sewing and gave up the dreaded hand-binding entirely (yay me!), but there are still other stresses on my hands.

I recently upgraded my iron and am absolutely THRILLED with how much less it stresses my hands.  If you are about to ask "What iron did you buy?".... well, I didn't buy a new iron.  I upgraded my existing iron.

I wrapped the handle with foam grip.  It's starting to come off, so I added a few zip ties to hold it together until I need to replace the foam.

The wider grip on the handle make ironing yardage or backings so much easier!  My fingers don't lock up and I don't drop the iron (much)!

Sometimes, it's the little things that make the biggest difference.

Did you like this week's Happy Health Sewing Room tip?  Is hand stress a problem for you?  I have more hand-friendly tips coming up in the future.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Ribbon Candy Monday

If it's Monday, it must be ribbon candy!

Today is a super-busy day, so I won't actually get to quilt ribbon candy, so instead I'll show you a quilt from last year that never made it to my blog:

I love my Squared Away Cutie Pattern and I love it even more because it uses the fabulous Kimberly Einmo's Solidish fabrics.

Making me love it the most is the ribbon candy I stitched in the black fabric:

If ribbon candy doesn't come naturally for you, try using my ribbon candy stencil.  It makes ribbon candy a BREEZE!

This quilt is now in a bag waiting for me to deliver it to my local police station.  I've delivered 5 quilts so far, and need another 25.

I live in a smallish town and have very little interaction with the police, but I want to show them my appreciation.  The Lieutenant who received them was surprised and very appreciative, and I loved the letter he sent back to me.  (I covered the letterhead and signature because I don't know what I'm allowed to put online, but I promise this is official)

I already have 3 or 4 quilts in the bag, ready to go.  I expect to get a lot of quilting done this month since I start my IV treatments tomorrow and they include steroids that will keep me awake for weeks and weeks!  As I'm quilting, I'll think of these serious officers hugging their quilts like a teddy bear.  Once I'm driving again, I'll drop off the next 5 (or 10, or 20) quilts until my local police force each have a quilt.

Do you surprise people with quilts?  Where is your favorite place to donate quilts?

Friday, January 11, 2019

Quilt Finish Friday

Hopefully, this is only the first of many quilts I'll finish in 2019.

It's no secret that I love ribbon candy quilting and my Sweet Tooth Cutie Quilt pattern allows for a lot of ribbon candy!  If ribbon candy isn't the easiest pattern for you, my Ribbon Candy Stencil will help guide you on this quilt.

May you all have a chance to snuggle with a quilt, a book, and a cup of tea this weekend.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Thread Thursday -- FabuLux Midas Touch

Have you ever had a thread you are afraid to use?  Or that you've tried to use but can't make it work?  It's so frustrating!

I plan to spend time this year talking about thread and how to make it work for you.

This week's thread is FabuLux Midas Touch.  

It's one of my most-used threads for machine quilting.  The color blends when I want it to blend, but also gives a little zip and shine.

FabuLux is a 40 weight, 3-ply trilobal polyester with a loose twist to add lustre.  It is a little thicker than average piecing thread and works best through a large-eye needle (18 on a longarm, 90 on a home machine) when using a large stitch (9-12 stitches per inch or 3.0mm).  I don't micro-quilt with FabuLux because the small stitches and small needle can cause the thread to shred.  I don't typically use FabuLux in the bobbin; I use a matching spool of DecoBob.

 Midas Touch is a random variegated thread blending three shades of golden yellow.  I often use this thread instead of gold metallic thread.  I use it on primitive quilts, patriotic quilts, and whenever shades of yellow/gold will work well.  

I recently used this quilt on a class sample made from Dandi Annie fabric and Grunge.

It blended beautifully with the gold fabrics but didn't scream against the aqua, black, gray, lime, peach, or cream fabrics.  I didn't have a single thread break on this entire quilt.

I paired it with DecoBob Dark Gold in the bobbin. 

Visit next week for another Thread Thursday!

Wednesday, January 09, 2019

"Inspired Free-Motion Quilting" blog hop and GIVEAWAY!

Today is my day on the blog hop to show some love for Mandy Leins and Bill Volckening's new book "Inspired Free-Motion Quilting."

Mandy and Bill showcase quilting designs reinterpreted from antique quilts.

I loved this design:

The Double Line and Orange Peel on the far right intrigued me.

When I'm intrigued and need to experiment with a quilting pattern, I grab and orphan block and a spool of FabuLux thread and make a postcard.

I put my block on a piece of batting with no backing.

Using my walking foot, I stitched a straight line on each side of each seam.

I switched to my free-motion foot and added the Orange Peel design.

I fused the quilted block to stabilizer and a white fabric backing.

I trimmed to postcard size using my Postcard Trimming Tool.

I finished the postcard by stitching around the edge.

All I have to do now is mail it!

Would you like me to mail this postcard to YOU?  And would you like an e-copy of Mandy and Bill's book?

Leave a comment here on this blog (and link or email address PLEASE!) stating a real or imaginary New Year's Goal by Sunday the 14th and I'll pick a winner.  My real or imaginary New Year's Goal is to figure out where socks disappear to and where Tupperware lids appear from.  It might take longer than a year to learn the answer.

Visit all of the other stops on this blog hop for more chances to win!

January 7: C&T Publishing, Bill Volckening
January 8: Amanda Murphy, Kim Lapacek, Stephanie Palmer
January 9: Lynn Harris, Teri Lucas, Debby Brown
January 10: Robin Koehler, Patty Murphy, Mary Abreu
January 11: Joanna Marsh, Mandy Leins

Thanks for visiting with me today.  For more machine quilting fun, be sure to sign up for my newsletter and follow me on all social media platforms as DebbyBrownQuilts

Tuesday, January 08, 2019

Happy, Healthy Sewing Room Makeover -- Cleaning Up and Problem Solving

After only a week or two, my on-the-way-to-becoming-awesome sewing room is my favorite place to be!  I'm so happy in here and find myself making sure the cutting table is cleaned every night so I can come into a room where I can instantly start creating.

This week, I'm doing some more cleaning and clearing out and I solved a years' long problem.

First, the cleaning.

I'm a fan of Marie Kondo's The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.  I own the book on kindle and audio.  When the book was first published, I tore through my linen closet, clothes closet, bookshelves, and elsewhere.  I started in my sewing room, but only got as far as "only keep what sparks joy" and got rid of the abandoned craft supplies that made me feel guilty.

Marie Kondo now has a short season show on Netflix called Tidying Up.  I haven't binge-watched a show in a long time (I'm more of a book girl lately) but I watched this over the weekend.  It was charmingly delightful and quite timely.  I've read mixed reviews, but I love watching homes move from chaos to calm.

I'm slowly working on the rest of my sewing room.  I cleaned out under a quarter of one of my longarms.  I swept up an entire herd of dust bunnies (RIP) and found many forgotten quilt projects, one started NINETEEN YEARS AGO!

I don't have deadlines or overall plans to clean this section on that day, but I plan to clean more under that longarm and eventually the other one, as well as attacking the shelves and buckets and stacks...

Instead of seeing what I haven't done, I prefer to show you what I have done; I've emptied a bucket:

I hope to clean and organize this sewing space by getting rid of containers rather than buying more, but I will admit that I've been checking out some IKEA storage hacks that I would love to install in here when I'm pared down and ready to make things pretty.

My biggest success of the week was solving a problem that I've had FOREVER!  I have wood floors in my sewing room and my foot pedal slides around and I have to scrunch in my chair to reach for it every time I stitch a seam.  In absolute frustration, I grabbed a cardboard box, a roll of shelf liner, and a stapler (thanks, Lee):

I cut a large sheet of cardboard from the box, stapled the shelf liner to it, and placed the cardboard under the legs of my sewing table so it doesn't move.

It ain't pretty, but it works!  Maybe someday I'll make a pretty version of this, but for now I'm just excited that my foot pedal is where I expect it to be.  Every.  Single.  Time.

Stay tuned for more photos, tips, and inspiration as I continue to turn my messy, chaotic sewing room into the room of my dreams in this my 50th year!