Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Simply Charming Tablecloth (and GIVEAWAY!)

*the giveaway is closed*

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



And the fabulously generous Kimberly of the Fat Quarter Shop has offered one of my readers a $50 gift certificate to her store!  Thank you Kimberly!!  She's really the sweetest!  That should give you some help in buying the supplies for this project (or any other delicious item you are working on).


So, to enter to win the $50 Gift Certificate, you can

1) Hop over to the Moda Bake Shop and leave a comment there on my "recipe" for the tablecloth.  Then come back here and leave me a comment telling me you did so.

2)  This week's topic...your favorite perfume.  What do you wear?  What do you love?  Hate them all?  Haven't bought one in years?  I want to know!  So leave me a comment about perfume.  (funny stories are always appreciated as well.  I need laughter!)


Just for the record, my personal favorite perfume is Chanel Chance.  And my husband actually bought it for me when we were in Disney World hanging out at Epcot in the French Perfume shop.  Memories.



Sunday, May 27, 2012

Thinking of another quilt along...am I crazy?

Okay folks...I'm THINKING about doing another quilt along.  I haven't done one since last summer for you all and I'm not participating in any myself currently, so I'm getting that itch.  And I'm probably nuts to even think about it because I am still planning on the Sew-Less Summer Series (yes! I finally picked a name).  But I have this quilt design that I did over a year ago that I haven't had time to do and I think that it might just be perfect for a quilt along.


But you tell me.  I'll reveal the pattern if I decide to do the quilt along but I'm trying to gauge interest first.

The pattern is of....wait for it....The Super Mario Brothers!


I know!  Right?!  Awesomeness.


But I wanted to get a feel for how many of us might be interested in doing this or if everyone is WAY too swamped or hates the subject.  Whatever.  So I put together a little poll if you don't mind picking a choice....I would really appreciate it.






Saturday, May 26, 2012

Heart to Heart Giveaway Winner!

Goodness!  Thank you all so much for your advice and/or horror stories about potty training.  It definitely helped add a little humor to my week and gave me some things to think about.  I think we're officially putting the training on hold for a bit over here, but you all helped me feel more confident in that decision!  So thank you!


And we have some winners for the Moda Scrap Bundles from Heart to Heart Fabrics.




My son made it easy in some ways, he self trained on the lawn during summer; the main problem was redirecting him to depositing his logs in the toilet rather than leaving bombs on the lawn!



lol!  What a delightful tidbit. ;)


and





Ok...got to say this. I have 4 kids, three teenager boys & an 11 yr old daughter. This worked for us, tried a few other options first. Anyway have your child help clean up the mess. That includes taking them to the wash tub in the dirtie undies, and have your child help take off the old, and then they wash them in a bucket. Especially this works for BM. Only have to do this one or two times...they catch on quick this way. My kids turned out great! :)



with another delightful piece of advice.  ;)



Congrats ladies!  And thanks for sharing your stories!





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.

DSC07049




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 me...it 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!



Thursday, May 17, 2012

My Reality (and a giveaway!)

*the giveaway is closed*

My reality



Life is distinctly NOT glamorous for me these days.  I have been unwittingly caught in the throws of potty training a 2.5 year old.  I'll spare you all the details but I've decided I need to make a real effort at potty training her.  And for anyone who has done this or even imagined doing this, as they say, motherhood isn't for wimps.  (And I really want to be a wimp!!)


I did actually finish my cracker scraps quilt the other day...it came back from Krista and I bound it with a fabulous scrappy binding...blah. blah. blah.  I'll tell you about that another day.  Someday when I have 5 minutes of daylight to take a picture when I'm not out of my mind exhausted.  Because it's PRETTY!



But just in case I'm MIA for a bit...because it's hard to sew with anything while a little one has the ability to "mess" it up and I'm losing my mind trying to maintain an upbeat and calm attitude *insert grumpy mom who's trying to be good*... any who...  I thought we'd do a little giveaway while I'm away enjoying the glamorous life of motherhood (oh yes...I'm mom enough! :p  )



  Heart To Heart Fabrics         

We have a SCRAP BAG giveaway from Heart To Heart Fabrics!!




2!! Winners will win a 1/2 lb assorted Scrap Bag of Moda Fabrics.  You know that there are some yummy treats in there.




Want to be a winner?  Well, you've got a few options...

1.  Leave a comment giving me any advice you have about potty training, a funny story about it, letting me know that this is why you never plan on having kids...whatever!  I could use the help and a laugh these days.

2.  Hop on over to Heart to Heart Fabrics and check them out.  Leave a 2nd comment here letting me know what your favorite item is.

3.  If you are on Facebook, you can "Like" their facebook page as well for a third entry.




Hmm...you can tell I have both a) done a lot of giveaways and b) am deep in my own life when I make this the entry for a giveaway.  Ah well...like I said...this is my reality.  I'm keeping it real people.



Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Fat Quarter Idol Round 4 - finalist

Hey all!  I've been playing along with with the Sew! Mama! Sew! Fat Quarter Idol the past 4 rounds.  I'm honored to once again be selected for the finals.  There was a little mix up with my fabric selections but they've all been fixed now, so I can share them with you.


This week's theme was to pick 12 fabrics that represented your OWN style.  Well I can do that with my hands tied behind my back.  I'm a sucker for aqua and I almost always pair it with a shade of orange.  I've got a couple of great prints that use both and some fabulous neutrals to go along with whole group.  I can safely say that this is indeed my style. (Well....one of them! lol)





So hop on over to the Sew! Mama! Sew! site and VOTE.  You definitely don't need to pick me...I understand that we all have different styles.  There are some fabulous collections this round that I wouldn't mind owning either.  But just in case...I'm #9. ;)


Monday, May 14, 2012

Fat Quarter Bundle Destash Sale!

Hey look at me!  I actually managed to do something relatively promptly.  I said I would do this and I did.  lol


I have a Fat Quarter Bundle Destash Sale going on right now in my Etsy Shop.   Take advantage of my overabundance of fabrics and my joy of putting together collections and pick up a custom made fat quarter bundle. (or 2 or 3!)


There are some really lovely pieces in the sale and all of my fabrics come from a loving home...treat them well dear friends.  Some of them I didn't really intend to sell but they just looked so darn good in the bundle that I had to! ;)


Fat Quarter Bundle Destash!



all solids are Kona cottons!

Destash!



I'm happy to ship internationally and if you find yourself buying scads of bundles, just shoot me a message on Etsy and I will combine the shipping for you and refund any over payment.


Oh and use the code DESTASHNOW for an extra 10% off!


Happy Shopping!


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 work...so 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 fear...it'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.



Quiltmaker Giveaway winner!

Oh My goodness!  Thank you all so much for your sweet comments on my block.  I was truly overwhelmed and grateful for all the quilty love that you guys had for it.   I knew I liked it but you never know what everyone else will respond to.


And on to the winner of the giveaway!  Mr Random went right for the end of the pack this time...








I've been so busy I haven't checked out any new fabrics lately! :(



Congratulations Nancy!  I hope the magazine gives you a chance to motivate you to check out some new fabrics.  Or at least enjoy the pretty ones in the magazine!




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 room...so 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!



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