Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Simply Charming Tablecloth

Simply Charming Tablecloth

Oh I didn't realize that this was going up today! But I have a tablecloth pattern up over at Moda Bake Shop today.

This is a great pattern that only needs 2 charm packs and lets you dive into some fabrics and USE them! I used Liz Scott's Domestic Bliss line plus a Bella solid and the new grey dottie backing.

Simply Charming Tablecloth2

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

10 Tips for Writing a Better Crafting Tutorial

AKA The Tutorial on how to write a Tutorial!

I think that the hardest part about sharing an idea with someone is trying to explain yourself clearly. And that's made even more difficult when you are trying to communicate via the written word. So hopefully you will find a few tips here to make writing a tutorial a less daunting task and maybe even a little bit fun.

Tip #1: Have a clear topic.

Seem obvious? Well, you'd be surprised at how distracting it can be to stay on topic during a tutorial. You need to know what you want to write about and stick to the point. Try not to let the tutorial get too long winded. It's okay to assume a certain amount of knowledge and just explain your particular technique or pattern.

Tip #2: Be Orderly.

Do you remember those school teachers who taught you how to write an outline for a paper or (nerd alert!) a math teacher who taught you how to write out the steps of a problem solution? Well bring that information out from the back of your brain...dust off the cobwebs...and put it to good use again.

A good tutorial or pattern is laid out in a clear, logical manner. Whether you are using bullet points, roman numerals, numbers or other symbols, make those steps easy to find. There's nothing worse than a great idea with instructions that you can't follow!

(looking to make a • point?  Macs and PCs are different but try holding down Fn + Alt + 7)

Tip #3: Use a Good Typeface and Font Size.

Oh it is easy to get carried away with all of the fun fonts out there, but remember...people need to be able to easily read what you are writing. Save those super scripty fonts for your wedding invitations people!

Here's a great link to 25 Fonts that are unique but legible.  When I get my act together I will use things like this more.  But in the meantime, less is more.  It's better to be the most common font out there and be legible than be the most "unique" and have your readers squinting to follow along.

Tip #4: Use a Good Font Color.

The colors that work best for your tutorial will depend largely on the colors you have chosen for your website. But in general you are looking for high contrast. So that means dark colored fonts on a light background and light colored fonts on a dark background.

It would be both useless and annoying if I started writing my tutorials with multiple colors and none of them were easy to read.

Tip #5: Use Good Pictures.

I know. I know. Easier said than done. But it's the truth and there is no denying it. The best tutorials have clear, well lit, photographs that immediately show the point you are trying to make. Cliched but true, a picture really is worth a 1000 words.

I have no doubt that this picture conveyed what I needed it to. A little girl who was thrilled with her very own backpack made just for her. I see it and want to make another one! lol But I took 300 pictures that photo shoot alone.


I'm certainly no expert in photography...and here is a case where I don't want to get off point too much and start a whole other topic, but there are lots of photography tips out there. Try improving just ONE thing at a time and go from there. Yes, a better camera can help, but it won't make or break you. Learn to use what you have the best way you can.

Tip #6: Use Font ON your pictures.

Tip #5 comes first because you need a good picture. But once you have it, try adding some text to your picture to help make your idea more clear. Even an arrow can make all of the difference. Sometimes you are so familiar with your own work that you can forget what people need to be looking for when they see your tutorial. So point them (literally!) in the right direction. Don't forget Tips #3 and #4 though. Make that font clear and easy to read. Keep in mind with photographs you often have a dark background, so here is your chance to use that lighter colored text!

In this picture I was pointing out my disintegrating seams on a bee block I made. (Don't worry, I made another one!) Here's an example of where I knew where to look but I needed those arrows to show my point to others.

Disintegrating Seam

Tip #7: Use a Photo Mosaic

Often I will have hundreds of pictures that I need to weed down to a usable amount.  But there are some tricky steps out there in my tutorials that make more sense when seen in a progression of photos like a photo mosaic gives you.  The mosaic condenses your ideas into an easy to understand set of directions.

I also use this technique when I have a bunch of photos and I can't figure out which one is actually the most helpful in a particular step.  Different people need to "see" different steps.  So the more you can show, the more likely that your audience will understand.  Photo mosaics help you show the same idea in multiple shots that may appeal to different readers.

I used photo mosaics extensively in my pincushion tutorial.  I tend to use Big Huge Labs mosaic maker because it easily connects to Flickr where I have my pics uploaded.  And there are some fun options other than square.  But use whatever program you have!

Cutting fabric for pincushion

Tip #8: Give credit where credit is due.

Were you inspired to write a tutorial by someone's project?

Did you see a fabulous picture of a room and decide to recreate it?

Have you "tweaked" the idea or tutorial that someone else started?

Then let us know!  It's called Intregrity people.  Use it.  Always.
(trust helps you ignore those comments who claim that you have copied your idea from someone else)

I NEVER think of worse of someone for saying that an idea or tutorial they have is based on the inspiration of someone else.  I enjoy seeing how someone takes the idea of one or two people and turn it into something else.  THAT is inspirational.  So tell us who or what inspires you!

Tip #9:  Be Yourself.

Worried about doing things just like someone else?  Well don't be.  Be yourself.  We all have our own voice and our unique perspective is part of what makes us interesting.  The more "you" that you are, the more likely people will be interested.  People don't read blogs and websites and tutorials because they are generic.  They read them because the writer has something that captivates them.

Be yourself...   

So be captivating.  Don't be afraid to throw your personality in there.

You'll find your audience.

Tip #10:  Be Original.

It's #10 but it could be #1.  Above anything, be original and share your OWN work.

If you have an original technique that's wonderful!  But regardless of whether you've just discovered how to turn dirt into clean drinking water or whether you are writing the 10,000th tutorial on how to install a zipper, make sure that your words are your OWN.  Go ahead and write that zipper tutorial.  You will probably have a really grateful audience because they understand you and want to learn from you.  But write your tutorial from start to finish with your own words.

It's harder to be original but it's INFINITELY more satisfying.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Cracker Scraps - The Final View

Cracker Scraps - Complete!!

Are you all sick to death of this quilt yet? I hope not. I just adore it. And it is finally complete and happily living at home on our guest bed! Let me walk you through it...just in case you happen to have not seen any pictures of this one for the last six or so months. ;)

Cracker Scraps Detail

This quilt was made with the help of two different bees, the VIBees and the Stash Trad Bee. I think I thought someone was genius the first time I heard of someone using two bees for the same quilt. That way you actually get enough blocks made for the whole quilt! So thank you ladies in both bees for making my quilt a reality!

Cracker Scraps - Quilting Detail

This quilt is scrappy yet really cohesive. And I think the main reason why that is true is because one bee I sent out fabric to (with the advice that they could add in fabulous fabrics from their own stash if desired), but the other bee made their blocks entirely from their own stash. So that provides a lot of depth of color that I might not normally put into my own work. So there are blocks with a lot of the same fabrics and then the other half are all completely unique but in the same color scheme.

Cracker Scraps - Back

The back ended up fabulously scrappy and pieced as well because I had a few incorrectly made blocks which I ironically took apart to fix and promptly resewed them together incorrectly again. I threw up my hands and decided that they were meant for the back. It did make my quilt a little smaller than I intended to lose that extra row, but oh well. It's finished!!

Cracker Scraps - Binding

The quilt was shipped off to Krista/lolablueocean and she did a fabulous job long arm quilting the whole thing with an allover Modern Baptist Fan Pattern. I just love it. And she sent me all of the extra fabric that she cut off from my backing and I used it to make a scrappy binding. Serendipity was at play here people. I didn't want all of those scraps back and needed to get them out of my sewing room. I chopped them up for the binding and had the PERFECT amount of fabric for this quilt. I sewed it on and had the PERFECT amount of thread in the bobbin. Even the tv show I was watching ended right as I finished with my machine. It was definitely meant to be.

Cracker Scraps on a Queen Bed

And now it is so lovely on the guest bed. Yes, a bit short of the sides but none of my guests are going to complain about that. ;) I hand sewed that binding over a couple of evenings and finally managed to snap some pictures during my little gal's naptime yesterday.

Cracker Scraps with purchase shams

I didn't make these pillow shams but I saw them while my quilt was away and knew that they would be perfect with the whole look. I still need one small throw made from really colorful intense fabrics to toss in front of them, but I'm loving this!

Cracker Scraps on the Bed!

I'll get some curtains made up and maybe throw another quilt over that chair in the corner and make this a cozy place for all of my guests. It's so nice to have a guest room again. And it is sooo nice to finally have one of my quilts actually on a bed in my own home. Such a treat!

Cracker Scraps

Looking for my pattern? You can find it HERE and make your own!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Churn and Dash!

I'm not in over achiever status yet, but I'm getting back to normal status. I finished my bee block for May a few days ago. I'm happily just in one bee right now, the fabulous Stash Trad Bee. We make traditional blocks from our own stash of fabric each month for a different person in the bee. This month Felicity chose a mini churn dash block for us.

Colorful Churn Dash - For Felicity

I can tell that I'm trying to take control over some small part of my life (literally!) because I was SUPER meticulous when I made this. It's really four blocks in one and I made each one separately, one at a time. Probably my favorite of the four is this one with one of Denyse Schmidt's fabrics from one of her Joann's lines. You can tell that this reproduction style fabric is perfect for this traditional pattern!

Colorful Churn Dash - For Felicity

Of course, it's always nice when the back of the block looks as pretty as the front. I don't think you see enough pictures of the back of people's you don't always know how they made it or how well they made it. So every once in a while I like to show the back of a piece.

Colorful Churn Dash

I had a lot of fun making this block. I could definitely see making a whole quilt with this pattern. I think Felicity's quilt will be beautiful with all of the scrappy goodness. And it's pretty on pointe too!

Colorful Churn Dash - For Felicity

I've also been working with some other pretty fabric lately...

My Precious...

This is for one of my minimal sewing projects...It's been taking longer than I intended to do this project but life has just been taking longer. I think that is the result of having a two year old. Oh and moving...yeah...that has made things a little crazy.

And the reality of my fabric has been kicking in as repeatedly try to put all of my sewing supplies away in my new sewing room. The happy news for you all is that I will be doing a destash soon. Sad for me because I love fabric. But it needs to have a happy home. I spent all of tonight putting together fat quarter bundles and I still have SO much left. But be on the lookout for that soon!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Modern Patchwork Magazine - Travel Laundry Bag

It is a true sign of how crazy my life has been lately that I haven't managed to share this with you all yet. But I am actually published in a second magazine that is out right now, Modern Patchwork by Interweave Press.

Now part of the delay was because my copies of the magazine were originally sent to New Orleans...yeah...I've been gone for a year now...but databases take a while to get updated. So I didn't even see the magazine until a week or so ago. Actually I went to Barnes and Noble on the day we moved to get a little break and to check out my project in the magazine. I wanted to see how it looked! lol

Travel laundry bag in Modern Patchwork magazine

I had this idea for a travel laundry bag because I needed one! Necessity is the mother of invention right? And what better fabric is there for this kind of project than Heather Ross' Laundry Line fabric?! Perfection! (Can you tell I was pleased with my choice?)

Travel Laundry Bag in Modern Patchwork

I paired it with my absolute favorite stripe by Jennifer Paganelli and threw in some Sweetwater Canvas on the bottom and the strap. The bag has a double cord stop opening for easy closure and mesh fabric to help that laundry breathe! Plus the handy strap lets you hang your bag on anything you can find in your hotel room or home away from home while you fill it up.

Travel Laundry Bag

I used a combination of french seams and packaged bias tape to make sure that every seam was perfectly covered and finished. This bag is as pretty on the inside as it is on the outside!

Travel Laundry Bag

Travel Laundry Bag

It's ALMOST too pretty to put dirty laundry in it. But never's completely functional and I think it would make doing that laundry at the end of the trip a treat...because it's all coming out of this adorable bag. It is definitely big enough to hold a couple of days worth of laundry for sure... sadly I have not taken a trip since making this bag and have not been able to try out it's full capacity. ;) But I will!

Travel Laundry Bag

So if you want to make one of your own, pick up a copy of Modern Patchwork. I personally think this is the perfect gift for someone who truly has everything. I bet they don't have a custom travel laundry bag.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Just had to share

Krista, lolablueocean, has been long arm quilting one of my quilts for me!  The Cracker Scraps Quilt (I have a tutorial for this quilt posted HERE).  And she's taken a couple of sneak peak shots of it being quilted.  I'm soooo happy with how it looks.  And I just had to share her photos.

The quilting pattern that she used is a Modern Baptist Fan Pattern that I selected from one of the sites that Krista recommended.

Here it is when she started...

Modern fans

Here it is while she is in the middle of working on it...

Final stretch of Angela's quilt

And here it is all quilted!

Angela's cracker scrap quilt

and the back!

The Back!

Just as a reminder, it looked like this before I sent it to her...

Cracker Scraps - Queen Sized

and the back  (the colors in this photo are probably the most true to life)

Cracker Scraps Back

This quilt already has a home in our guest if you ever come stay with me you will be sleeping under this!  Now that should entice you!

I'll definitely post more pics when I get it in person and put the binding on.  But I was so excited that I had to share!

Friday, May 4, 2012

♪ Sewing...and it feels so good ♪

I did it!  I finally sewed in my new house!  I've been getting itchy...the kind of itch that only petting pretty fabric and sewing it together can fix.

You can feel free to laugh at me, but no...I STILL haven't used my new machine.  I have both machines set up and I even had to give my "old" machine some tender love after the move but that was less stressful than learning a new machine.  I just needed to start SEWING!  Everything has been new and different...and I needed the comfort of my machine I know.

The very first thing I made was a sloppy quick new ironing board cover.  And the fab thing about ironing boards is that you can't tell that it is less than perfect. ;)  Got to love elastic wrapped under the bottom.  I decided to use a fabric that I would love with my new room and yet not mind destroying.  Because let's face it...ironing board covers get destroyed.  So I chose some Hope Valley in a fabulous yellow that I don't have a great word to describe.  I got the fabric for just over $3 a yard earlier this year at my lqs.  They had NO idea what they had put in clearance.  I was SUCH a good girl and did not buy all it.

New Ironing Board Cover

Oh yeah...and that is my new iron that I won too. See...I'm using some of my prizes ;)

Next, I hopped onto a bee block for Elizabeth, Don't call me Betsy, for the Stash Trad Bee. Her month was April and I'm a few days late obviously. But life has been crazy and I haven't sewn anything in almost a month. (except for a bit the night before I moved. But my machine started spitting bobbin thread at didn't want to sew any more that night)

Radiant Ring Block for Elizabeth

Her block is called The Radiant Ring and we're all making her either a cool or warm block. Clearly I chose to make a warm block...because I'm so hot ;) I love the little sand piper center. Elizabeth has the tutorial for this block on her blog too. So you all can make it or have a bee make it for you. It's a fun one!

Radiant Ring Block for Elizabeth

Tomorrow I plan to work on this month's bee block for Felicity. I'm usually one of the first ones done. But the last few months have been out of control crazy and I've been one of the last ones lately. So I must get back to over achiever status. ;)

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Quiltmaker 100 Blocks - vol 5!

Today I'm happy to share that I have a block in Quiltmaker's 100 Blocks - Volume 5!

You've got to look for me in there...I'm all the way near the end.  lol  But I'm in there! #92 or 94 or something.

Quiltmaker 100 Blocks - Vol 5

I broke into my Mendocino stash to create this pretty mermaid block paired with some Farmdale Blossoms and a Riley Blake dot. Oh I just love all of these fabrics together!! I really tried to get the mermaids to have some movement and feel like they were swimming in the strips.

Quiltmaker 100 Blocks - Vol 5

The fabrics are the showcase in the block I put in the magazine, but I simplified the look by evening out the borders and creating each block in a just two tones.

X Block

The technique to make the blocks is just the same as the one show in Quiltmaker...but even easier with only the one print to worry about. And I LOVE the secondary pattern that shows up when you pair multiple blocks together. I have about 6 or so of these blocks made and I need to make more! This is a quilt that needs to happen in my world.

X Block Combo

Patterns that read as solid like or monochromatic are perfect this kind of layout. Just solids would be amazing too. You get a great texture from the seams but it is still simple and very usable. Mitered and on pointe?! Perfect!  Oh and this geometric pattern is very male friendly.  I know we are all always on the lookout for a pattern the men in our lives would!


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