Monday, December 31, 2012

Reflections on 2012 - What a year!

I always look back on the  year and marvel at the sheer number of things I've made.  At the time, I never feel as though I am doing much but 12 months is a long time.  And those projects add up.  And boy does life add up!

In the past year we

• purchased a new home and completely redid it...from top to bottom and everything in between

New House...with snow!



• lived life with a 2 year old girl who's just turned 3! She's feisty, bright and loves anything that sparkles.

Sweet girl I hope you are able grow up in a world where you are always protected from evil and violence. #devastatedforCT



• celebrated my 10th wedding anniversary!  Go us!

Happy tenth anniversary to us!




Oh and I made a few things and had a few things published.  And did this little thing called the Moda Sliced Competition.

Here's some of my favorite things I've made from 2012.  By no means an exhaustive list, but a smattering of the ways I've made my world a more beautiful place.

Favorite Things I've made in 2012



I was tickled to find out from Moda Bakeshop that my backpack (the center photo up there) was one of their top ten viewed projects of 2012.  You can see all top ten here!


2012 has been filled with great quilty friends and exciting opportunities.  But more than anything, it has been filled with a love for creating one item at a time to help make the world a more beautiful place.  That's our family mission.  To live our lives in such a way that the talents we have will always create beauty for others.  Lofty aspirations maybe, but something definitely worth striving for.


May 2013 be filled with even more.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Lucky EQ7 Winner!

Thanks so much for all who entered the giveaway!  And I hope you'll help me make my facebook page fun.  I'm on facebook far more than I should be so that's a great way to get a hold of me.


And on to the lucky winner.  I was just tickled when I saw who the random generator had picked and what she had written.  Too sweet!



Of course I follow you, you are my hero! Your site is filled with inspiration, and I look forward to all of your new ideas!"


Congrats Terri!  What a very fun extra Christmas gift for you!


It's been a very merry Christmas!

Are you all still recovering? Because I'm still recovering from Christmas!

Here at this house we threw a giant Christmas Cocktail party for friends and family on Friday night with approximately 80 guests. We do ALL of the prep, serving and clean up ourselves so that is always quite the ordeal! In fact, we haven't managed to throw one of our parties in three years (not at all coincidentally the same amount of time that we've had Caitlyn).

Party time!


 That event alone would have been enough to wipe me out. But then we celebrated with both sides of the family as well and hosted my side.


I did FINALLY get to give my brother his Super Mario Brothers quilt on Christmas Eve! He was quite surprised and did NOT expect it.


Super Mario Quilt - Gifted!



I told him that it would be perfect for snuggling under while he plays his video games but he was VERY concerned that he might get food or drink on it and said that this was going straight to his bed. I did inform him that it is very washable but that didn't seem to sway him. lol


Super Mario Quilt - Gifted!




My dad wanted to make sure he saw that the back was pieced as well. I told Josh that I REALLY wanted to do a super cool back but didn't have time. We both agreed that it would have been Legend - wait for it - dary if I had been able to pull off what I REALLY wanted to do...which was piece the words "I'm sorry Mario, but your princess is in another castle"


Super Mario Quilt - Gifted!


Oh and for the record, he totally gave me crap about making a Mario quilt instead of a Legend of Zelda one but I shot him down immediately and effectively with my reasoning for choosing Mario (better colors...the original colors of Zelda are ugly and he would have given me crap about it if I had changed them to update them...and he KNEW I was right. lol)



My husband got me some great gifts including a Couture Sewing Book and some beautiful Orla Kiely Mugs. And I got my very first Coach purse from my family!  I'm a grown up now!  And I'm pretty sure that my daughter is thoroughly convinced that she is a princess now.  But more on that later. ;)

Orla Kiely mugs ... One of my favorite Christmas gifts from my husband


I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas!  Ours was certainly better than Thanksgiving.  No stomach flu this time. ;)


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Volunteer Help Needed


Hey all! I just wanted to help promote one of what I am sure is many different projects out there for those directly affected by the recent shootings.

Jean from www.quiltinggranny.blogspot.com is heading up a group making a quilt for one of the 11 communications operators in Newtown. She is looking for 9 quilters to volunteer to make a bit larger than lap sized quilt.


It needs to be completed by mid-late January for personal delivery by February. If interested, please Email her, compassionatequilter@rocketmail.com, and she will send you more details!


I know that some of you are looking for a way to give just a little something to all those who have suffered. So this may be the perfect fit for you.


Let's Shower the world with love and take it back from those who would harm it.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

EQ7 Giveaway!

*the giveaway is now closed*



I'm so excited to share this with you all!  I have a little tutorial up on the EQ blog today and I talked them into letting me giveaway a copy of EQ7 to one lucky reader in order to celebrate!!

I've been using EQ7 for a long time now (I bought it right when the 7th version came out) and I really love how it's been able to help me design quilts.  There is still so much for me to learn about the program as it can do so much.  But my tutorial on EQ's blog today is one that I think many of you will find useful.  I show you how to change your default fabrics (which are not the most modern :p ) to ones that you prefer to use most often.  So if you have EQ I certainly hope you hop over there and check it out.


Now.... if you DON'T have EQ7 then maybe you'll be the lucky one to walk away with the software.  This is a really generous giveaway from EQ and I'm so thankful that they are letting me share one with you.

You can find out more specifics for EQ by checking out their website. But let me just say that it is great and I use it constantly. Just as a note, EQ software is for PC users only (no MACs) but don't let that stop you from entering. This would be the coolest christmas gift for a quilty friend!


To enter the giveaway you MUST give your email address in the link below. Disclaimer: by doing this you are permitting EQ to contact you. Ah...the price we pay. ;) So, no big deal right? I know we all have an email address we can put there.

*sorry for the confusion with this earlier...we should be all set now!*






For an extra entry, you can become a follower of my blog or let me know that you are one! We have fun around here, so you won't be sorry.

For one last entry (sorry for all of the hoops!), you can also "LIKE" my NEW Facebook page. I've given in and started a Facebook page for Cut To Pieces. Because I know you can't get enough of me. ;) There's not a ton on there yet but we'll get that going soon. Feel free to leave me a message or post a picture of something you've made from a tutorial. All of that would be wonderful. Just be sure to leave a comment here that you have done so, so I can keep all the extra entries in one place.


Good luck!! I'm so excited for you guys! I can't wait to see who wins.


Monday, December 17, 2012

Tutu Time

So many tutus...so little time.  lol  My girl certainly didn't NEED another tutu but we're deep in the trenches of dressy dress up over here.  So when a friend was looking for some no sew ideas for a craft night, this tutu came into our lives.


Tutu Time



Completely NOT my original idea.  Nope.  This was one that was found on pinterest and I happily followed someone else's tutorial.  I of course can't find it now, but that link takes you to dozens of similar ideas and perhaps the one I used.  So you'll catch on.   I used two brightly colored 6" wide tulle rolls and one purchased crochet headband.  Plus I attached some sparkly buttons on with super strong glue.  Perfect for a princess!


Tutu and T shirt



I have some mixed feelings about this particular tutu.  I LOVE the crochet waist band idea.  genius.  pure genius.  I don't love as much the individual strands of tulle that make up the tutu.  They seem to get tangled around the waistband too often.  I prefer tutus make from one large piece of tulle.  But this was no sew and works well for an evening craft.


I also wanted to make a little tshirt for her that was no sew (again for the non sewing crafters that evening).  I ended up with some buttons and simple knit flowers hand sewn onto the tshirt.

knit flower applique tshirt



You can see from my mosaic there that I just did a loose gather on a long skinny strip of knit fabric.  Pulled it taut and secured it in place.  I'm a little "meh" about it myself.  But I think that's because I really wanted to sew something with my machine.  lol  My daughter put it on for all of about 10 seconds before she was done with it.  I guess she feels the same way. ;)


Last minute gift idea



But a cute little gift none the less.  And a fairly quick one.  This could even be good for a Christmas day craft if you ask me.

I also made a second one of these because I wanted to make a blue/gold one for the upcoming ND bowl game.  (No worries if that means nothing to you).  Little miss has been refusing to wear any team apparel, so I thought a school spirit tutu was in order.  It was indeed a success with her but not with me.  I used GLITTER tulle rather than shimmer tulle.  Don't do it people!  I don't care how much you like how it glitters in the store.  You, your child, and your WHOLE HOUSE will be covered with glitter.  Live and learn...and clean up glitter for the rest of your life. lol

Now I have a picture for you of her in the blue/gold one but it also includes me "wearing" the pink/blue one.  My brother took it and I'll just say that only a brother would take this photo and then post it to facebook.  gah!  But I just have to look at the smile on my daughter's face to know that it was worth it.  She kept telling me I was a beautiful princess.  Ah sweet innocence!  Enjoy. ;)




Oh and stay tuned for tomorrow because we have a HUGE giveaway going on!  Let's just say that if you have been dreaming about designing your own quilts you will be VERY happy with this giveaway. ;)  Just in time for Christmas!



Friday, December 14, 2012

In Memory

In the wake of the shootings today in Newtown, Connecticut I find myself wanting to say something.  do something.  But I'm at a loss.

I have spent most of the day in tears, watching the news and waiting for perhaps a moment of hope in this horrific act.  But honestly, I have yet to see it.  No, I don't know anyone personally affected (that I know of) and don't anticipate that.  Yet my heart ACHES for anyone involved.


I watched the President break down while trying to comfort a grieving nation.  I've heard parent after parent declare their intentions to hold their children extra close tonight.  I've seen seasoned news casters in shock and despair from yet another ridiculous tragic massacre.


I've been told that it is because I have a young child that I'm particularly affected by this.  But I think all of humanity is affected.  When the lives of innocent children and brave adults are taken senselessly, there is nothing to do but BE affected.  


I heard someone today say that they were embarrassed to be a human being.  And I understand that sentiment.  Yet I know that from the greatest human tragedies come the greatest human triumphs.  We will know more of that in the coming days and even years.  So, no, I'm not embarrassed to be a human being.  It is with great hope that I must look forward to a world where we feel safe and protected from violence and danger.  And it will be human beings that make that happen.


Yes, I will hug my daughter extra tight and be more patient.  I will pray for the victims and their families.  I will pray for the country and anyone who feels fear.

I will pray that my daughter is able to grown up in world free from violence and evil.  Because she and all of us deserve that.  It is our right.

Sweet girl I hope you are able grow up in a world where you are always protected from evil and violence. #devastatedforCT

‎"When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, "Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping." To this day, especially in times of "disaster," I remember my mother's words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world." --Mr. Rogers

For every act of hatred and cowardice that we cannot begin to comprehend; there are countless more acts of kindness, compassion and love. Love will always, always, triumph.


Thursday, December 13, 2012

3,888...

In case you're wondering, that's the number of 1.5" square blocks that are in my Mario quilt.  Yes...almost 4,000 teeny little blocks sewn together along with sashing and borders and backing and general craziness.

There were some hellish moments along the way but in end, I think you'll all agree, it was worth it.  Honestly I'm getting a little teary over it.


Super Mario Brothers QAL




Just as a reminder for all those interested, this is part of a QAL that I ran on the blog here and you can find a link to all of the posts in the header under Quilt Alongs.  Feel free to start at any time!  It's not going anywhere.  My quilt was made with Michael Miller's Cotton Couture provided for me by The Fat Quarter Shop (thanks Kimberly!) and with Pellon's stick-n-wash stabilizer and rayon batting (thanks Erin!).


Super Mario Brothers QAL



Each block is made from 18 x 18 1.5" squares.  And as usual, I completely underestimated the amount of work it would take to make a quilt from 12 of these blocks.  On a side note though, I think you still have plenty of time to throw together a single block as a Christmas gift and make a pillow. ;)  You can do it!  The mushroom blocks are particularly popular.


Super Mario Brothers QAL



I know a lot of people were curious about how I was going to quilt this.  And I made a decision fairly early on to do an all over meander/stipple quilting.  I used a multi colored grey 50 weight thread from Aurifil, #4670 to blend in with the many colors of the quilt.  As you can see, it nicely disappears from view, allowing you to see fabulous characters of the quilt.


Super Mario Brothers QAL



I used a text keyboard print for the binding that I thought perfectly suited the nature of this quilt.  I think that it is by timeless treasures and I found that at fabric.com (but don't hold me to that...I buy a lot of fabric and can't always remember where I get it!)  I of course didn't have quite enough fabric for the binding so I threw in a scrap of Free Spirit fabric that I had used on the back to finish it up.  I love that scrappy bindings are allowed ;)


Super Mario Brothers QAL Details



The backing was pieced from one yard cuts I had in my stash.  I didn't want to buy any more fabric! I think I turned the top two fabrics of the backing the wrong way and so it ended up short.  I made a mad dash to see what extra fabric I had with me at Quilt camp and threw on the rest of the solid black and blue to make up the difference.  But I actually really like it now.  (At the time, I *may* have been freaking out)



So...conclusions:  The good, the bad and the ugly.

I really liked using the Pellon stick - n - wash to help me keep this many blocks straight and aligned.  I know my strengths and weaknesses and these helped.  It's not the perfect solution but it's the best that I've found yet.  Sometimes the stabilizer was difficult to wash off, leaving a bit of residue (I knew that would wash off with the first washing in the machine but the first rinse was a hand rinse).  Plus with the wash n dry, the blocks were pretty crisp after air drying....definitely a new challenge when I went to quilt it.

And let's talk about those 3,888 blocks.  That means that is a seam on all four sides of each block.  I'm thinking that there were at least 7776 seams spread out every inch.  What am I saying other than large numbers?  That's pretty difficult to quilt over as it turns out.  I wasn't able to press those seams open which would definitely help in this case. But let's just say I broke 4 needles quilting this thing and it's NOT my best quilting ever.  Quite possibly the worst.  But it's done and it blends in and it's washed and so soft now!


Also, getting all 12 blocks to be the same size was a challenge.  I did square up a couple of blocks, but then thought I could get away with stretching the blocks to size (those 18 seams per side make a difference in "stretchiness")  But as it turned out, the blocks stretched well in one direction and not the other.  So major panic attacks were being had late at night at Quilt camp when I was basting it and trying to get it straight.  I was pretty much ready throw the whole thing out.  No joke.


But the beauty of quilts is that they are made to be lived under...not laying totally flat all the time stretched out on a floor.  Once it was quilted, bound, hand sewn, and washed this quilt was a thing of beauty.  Well at least I could finally see the beauty.


And I'm really proud of it.  I'm proud of all of you who have made one as well.  They are truly labors of love.   I know that there are many more in the works and lots of pillows.  But here is a glimpse at some of the other finished quilts so far from the QAL.  Just amazing.  Thank you for sharing this journey with me!!

Finished Quilts from the Super Mario Brothers QAL

(click the picture to be taken back to flick for the details on each quilt and it's maker)

Monday, December 10, 2012

Quilt Camp - Mission Accomplished

This past weekend I drove up to near Ann Arbor Michigan to attend Quilt Camp.  I didn't take any of the "classes" offered but used the time to hang out with fun quilters and get a major project checked off of my list.  The Mario Quilt.

And guess what?!  I did it!  I will do a whole other post devoted to that quilt because I have lots to say about it.  But for now, enjoy a bad phone pic of the finished quilt.  I sashed it, basted it, quilted it and hand bound it while I was there.  I was a woman on a mission!

Sashed. Quilted. Hand bound. Done!!!  #quiltcamp



I had a great table of quilters near me.  We were scrunched in together like Sardines so I had to take my machine to another room to get the quilting done but for the most part I was there in the trenches with these gals.


That's Kara, Kristen, myself, Faith, and Amanda.  Let me tell you, there were so many awesome things being made at that table!!  Amanda made all the class projects and still pulled out a weekender bag!!  Kara had a fabulous quilt she was working on.  Kristen (and I'm probably spelling her name wrong) in addition to growing TWO baby girls in her tummy was cranking out christmas project after project.  And Faith was being her typical awesome self and just creating awesomeness.  Couldn't even keep up with her.  lol


I did get a snuggle moment with Faith under my nearly finished Mario quilt at one point.  And yes, girls love Mario too!

Faith and pals from Mario. #quiltcamp @freshlemonsquilts




There were lots of completed quilt tops by everyone there (I think there were about 26 of us) and I snatched  a photo with my phone of some of them draped over the railing in one of the buildings.

Quilts and tops. #quiltcamp



Other than my Mario Quilt, I did manage to make a couple of little bags that were simple and quick.  I made two of Jeni's drawstring bags (that was one of the classes so I got the pattern as part of the camp).  I don't know how I did it, but I managed to make one of them too long...which wouldn't be a problem except that I made the lining the correct size.  So I decided to do some ruching and tucked it under a button to get the exterior back in shape.

Jeni's Drawstring Bag Pattern



I'm going to give these to Caitlyn's preschool teachers and find something to put in them...maybe some cookies.  Who knows!

Jeni's Drawstring Bag Pattern



I also made a zip pouch but that didn't turn out perfectly enough for me to feel I could give it as a gift.  I was winging it and I'm not the best at 3 D sewing...especially when my brain has been totally tapped out after lots of other sewing.  But I'll find a use for it in my sewing room.  Oh and that's a FMF knock off in Canvas. ;)  Since I'm sure someone will ask.

Teacher Gifts



All in all, I had a good time and accomplished what I set out to do...there was lots of frustrations getting that quilt done, but it's home and finished and washed and soooo lovely.  I'll share all of that drama later in the week.

Thanks to all of the fun ladies I met at Quilt Camp.  I really wished you all lived closer to me.  We had folks from Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and beyond!



Wednesday, December 5, 2012

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

Moving into a new house always throws us for a loop when it comes to decorating for the holidays.  You have to find a new "home" for your decorations again...some can go about where they were before and others are totally flipped around.  I'd say we've gone with a moderate decorating scheme this year: not as simple as some recent years but not as glam as some others.


Wreath I made last year!

wreath I made last year from felt


We've decided to host our Christmas party once again.  It's been 3 years since we've hosted and on Monday my daughter will turn 3.  Coincidence?  I think not. ;)  So decorating the house always takes on a different priority when getting ready for our party.  We go all out with cocktails and food...it's a good time.


Mantel decorations

mantel decorations


It's hard to capture the beauty of Christmas lights, but trust me it's pretty and glittery and sparkly.  My three year want-to-be princess is in heaven! lol  This is really the first year that we've been able to decorate in her memory.  I'll have to see if any of the pictures I took of her decorating a Christmas tree for the first time came out.  It was a riot!  She had put all them in a row on the bottom branches.

Sprinklings of Christmas

A happy winter bathroom



Our Cat is especially excited to have all the decorations out as well.  I had forgotten how much she loves them.  My poor husband has a house full of girls who love things that sparkle!  I think Tabitha thinks we put the tree up just for her.  She plays under it and chews on the branches (they're artificial) and sleeps on the Christmas tree skirt.

Someone thinks we put the tree up just for her

Tabitha playing under the tree



I *think* we're done decorating...there is certainly enough glitter everywhere!!

Reason for glitter all over my house




Oh yeah...and I put the nativity in the bar.  Because that's how we roll around here.  Hey! It's a pretty piece of furniture.  Don't judge. ;)

The nativity with the bar. That's how we roll in this house!




Back to sewing.  I have a Mario Quilt to finish.  I'm headed off to Brenda's Quilt Camp this weekend and my only sewing goal is to finish that quilt.  It's a Christmas gift and this is it's allotted time. So hopefully I'll have a finished quilt to show you all next week!  Wish me luck!


Monday, December 3, 2012

Painted Cosmos

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think I ever shared the finished quilt I made for Laura Gunn for her booth at Quilt Market.  I know I gave you all sneak peaks, but here at last I'm finally showing the end product.


Painted Cosmos



I used her new line Cosmos and her Painter's Canvas line.  I created a fairly simple design with half square triangles because I really wanted to focus on showing off Laura's Fabric.  It's an interesting task to create a pattern to show off the fabric rather than using the fabric to show off a design.

I did all of my own quilting which you can probably tell but it was a stretch for me.  I used a bunch of different free motion techniques in different parts of the design to emphasize the pattern.

Painted Cosmos - Quilting Details



There's nothing like making a whole quilt to really help you practice a certain pattern.  I would definitely do them all again...but some will take me more time than others to perfect.  It's also quite the learning process to discover what kind of quilting design looks good in a particular part of the quilt.  Actually, at the prompting of my favorite quilter, Krista Withers/lolablueocean, I recently purchased a large piece of plexiglass and some dry erase markers so I can practice how the designs will look on the actual fabric at scale.  I think that will help me a lot!


Laura took the picture above when she received it and it was so fun to see it styled by someone else!  I was so used to seeing a flat view of it, that it was fun to see it all draped and relaxed.  And then of course it was so fun to see some pictures from quilt market.  Someday I'll make it there too, but in the meantime, it was certainly fun to see something I made just hanging out in a booth. ;)

Picture by Kimberly Jolly of The Fat Quarter Shop


And I do believe that this fabric is already available for purchase!  So run out and get some and play with pretty fabrics.  Maybe you'll want to use it on my Down the Rabbit Hole quilt.  ;)


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