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Spoonflowering

So, who else out there has tried out Spoonflower? I’ve been dabbling in it for over a year now, and every time I get something printed with them, I love it a little more. The first time I heard about it, I got positively giddy: You mean you can get anything you want printed as a repeating pattern on fabric? With no yardage minimums? Anything? The possibilities seemed endless.

This is probably old news for some people, but if you’re not familiar with it, Spoonflower is a digital, on-demand fabric printing service. Basically, if you can design a repeating pattern, you can be a fabric designer. Right up my alley!

I made these tote bags as a class gift for my daughter’s preschool teachers last year. Another mom and I had each child draw themselves, and I scanned the drawings, assembled them into a repeating pattern, and had it printed on Spoonflower’s canvas-linen blend (which is nice and heavy and perfect for tote bags).

I also made throw pillows for the class volunteers and a rag quilt for my daughter using the print, as a memento of her first year in school. I had labels printed for each item, which made me think that this would be a great way to make all my quilt labels. And a print made up entirely of my daughter’s own artwork is definitely on my to-do list! See what I mean about possibilities?

More recently, my mom was lamenting the lack of cute tennis-themed fabric. She’s quite the bag-maker, and some of the ladies on her tennis team had requested tennis totes, but the few tennis-related prints she could find out there were tacky, tacky, tacky.

And so, my debut fabric line was born. : ) I finally got the printed samples a few days ago. I tried to make it recognizably tennis-themed without being too literal. (Okay, the double-racquet print is pretty literal, but other than that.) I even got a little crazy and put it in two color ways: Yellow and black, or the green and blue shown above. They should make some good totes for my mom’s “tennis ladies,” and anybody else out there who happens to want a tennis bag. I may tweak the blue a bit (it’s looking a little too royal for my taste), but otherwise it turned out just as I envisioned. Click here to see the full collection on Spoonflower’s website.

If you’ve made something cool from Spoonflower fabric, I’d love to hear about it! And if there’s any interest, I’d be happy to post some tips on designing for Spoonflower, based on lessons I’ve learned.

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Three Generations Top

My Three Generations quilt top is finally done and off to the long-arm quilter. What a relief!

My goal with this quilt was to create something that was both vintage and modern at the same time. I wanted it to look as though it owed something to every time period during which it was worked on. Basically, I wanted to span the last 50 years of quilting in this one single piece, and maybe use that to tell a story about the three women who worked on it. Lofty goals, and I’m not sure if I accomplished my mission, but you know? I love it just the same. Couldn’t be happier with how it turned out. It’s not exactly my usual style, but it’s not exactly not my usual style either, if that makes any sense. Plus, it’s colorful and fun and pretty and sentimental and will be a genuine family heirloom someday.

And it’s clear that all of my stops and starts and pauses to regroup and redesign were entirely worth it. So I guess working on this quilt has been a lesson in trusting my gut. When my gut says I need to change something, usually my brain screams, “No way! Keep going! Just finish the freaking thing!” (Sometimes I think my gut is a better quilter than my brain. My brain always just wants to hurry up and finish, so I can move on to the next project that it’s cooking up.) But this quilt shows that I’ll be happier in the long run if I put in the extra hours, effort, and thought to make it right. Brain and gut need to work together for optimal results. : )

The quilt store is estimating that the long-arm quilter will be finished with it around Oct. 19. I need it no later than Oct. 21 to be able to give it to my grandma when I see her in person. So there is a glimmer of hope that it will be completely done, when I wanted it to be! I’m prepared for disappointment, but encouraged nonetheless. I’ll post full details on this quilt (fabric, etc.) when I get it back from the quilter.

P.S. Check out my blog’s snazzy new look! I figured it was time to settle in and hang some pictures on the wall in this bloggy home of mine.

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Kissing Fish Baby Quilt

Good news! This tutorial is now available as a full-fledged PDF pattern, totally free of charge, on Craftsy! Click here to download the pattern.

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On Deadline

Happy Monday! I had some pesky social obligations this weekend, not to mention a smallish volunteer project for my daughter’s preschool, so I didn’t get as much sewing done as I had hoped. Amongst all that, I did manage to make a little progress on my Three Generations quilt. Not much, but a little.

I’ll be seeing my grandma in less than three weeks. She lives very far away, so I probably won’t see her in person again until next summer. It would nice to have this quilt done in time to give it to her when I see her. And I’m not talking about “done,” as in “I have no idea how, when or even if it will be quilted, but isn’t this top pretty?” No, I’m talking done, as in really done—quilted, bound, the whole shebang. So tonight after the girlies are in bed, I might just barricade myself into my sewing room until I have a completed top and a back. If it’s 7 a.m. Tuesday and nobody’s heard from me, please tell my husband that the kids probably want oatmeal for breakfast.

And I have many more things in the works that I can’t wait to post about, as soon as I get a chance! I might even have a tutorial or two up my sleeve. So stay tuned.

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Circles

Today’s happiness: Perfect little yellow circles, ready to be appliqued onto my Three Generations quilt.

Twenty of ’em, ready to go! Aren’t they cute?

I used this tutorial to make my circles. (For what it’s worth, I don’t have the mylar circles mentioned in the tutorial. I made my own circle template out of sturdy cardboard and found that worked just fine.)

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A Brand New Plan

So I have completely scrapped my original plan for the Three Generations quilt.

I made some of the alternating blocks (as shown in my digital “sketch” in this post). Somehow those blocks were both too plain, and took away too much of the focus away from the vintage pinwheel blocks. I’m not sure how it was possible to do both at once, but leave it to me to come up with something that doesn’t work in any respect. : )

(In retrospect, I think my mistake was that I got lazy and only scanned in one of my grandma’s original blocks for my digital design plan. As a result, my “sketch” didn’t accurately reflect the colorfulness of the real quilt.)

This is a special project, so I want it to be right. And the star of the show has to be the curved pinwheel blocks, especially the original five that my grandma hand-pieced all those years ago. So once I decided to scrap my original plan, I spent a lot of time thinking about how to better showcase those blocks. I also did some looking around online, and eventually came across this quilt from Red Pepper Quilts:

Pinwheel Baby Quilt by Red Pepper Quilts

Now, those whirlygigs really pop. So, with this quilt as my inspiration, I decided to frame out all my pinwheels in the same blue retro print I bought for the back of this quilt, and then sash it all in some sort of neutral, probably beige. (I love the putty color used on the Red Pepper quilt, but my mom and grandma aren’t big fans of anything even close to gray.) Then I’m going to fill it out with a pieced border or two to make the whole thing queen-size, so that my grandma can use it on her bed if she wants.

Of course, the new design plan calls for more pinwheel blocks, so I spent my weekend making eight more colorful curved pinwheels. Now the big push is on to finish this top—I’ve set myself a deadline on this one, and I’m determined to meet it!

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Fall Equinox

The equinox was yesterday (or today, depending on where you are in the world), and what better way to celebrate fall than by finishing a quilt top in some lovely autumnal colors?

My Fat Quarterly Quilt Along top is done! And I completely love it! I was a few blocks short of what was needed for the larger size, so I kind of did my own thing as far as that goes. And I know many people decided to alternate the blocks so that some seams were vertical and others horizontal. I decided to stick with the all-one-direction layout because I like the extra dose of orderliness it gave to an otherwise chaotically colorful quilt.

I’m judging my first quilt along experience to be a big success, because:

1. I completely love this top.

2. I finished it in record time–six days! Seriously, SIX DAYS. That’s crazy fast for me. Obviously staying caught up with the group is a good motivator!

3. These are not really my usual colors, and I never would have done a quilt like this if not for the quilt-along. As a graphic designer, I’ve done some of my best work while either collaborating with others, or using parameters set by someone else. That often forced me to exercise my creativity a little more. This quilt-along made me realize the same may be true for my quilting.

(Note: I’m adding this post to Fabric Tuesday on Quilt Story! Check it out!)

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The Fabric Fairy

So my 4-year-old and I walked down to the mailbox together on Friday, and oh happy day, there was fabric in there. It was the “Doe, a Deer” custom bundle from Fabric Worm. (I’m trying to collect enough pink and green fat quarters to make a bed-sized quilt for my daughter.)

As I pulled that nice fat envelope out of the mailbox, I said to Miss E., “Hey, isn’t it great when we get fabric in the mail?” Her reply: “Yeah! But how do they know what you want? Do they just guess?”

I had a good laugh over that one. If only it really worked that way. I’m picturing some sort of fabric fairy who randomly sends yummy prints to people through the mail, just out of the kindness of her heart.

Then I realized something. Maybe there really is such a thing (kind of). I just signed up for my first swap: Gen X Quilter’s Ho-Ho Holiday Swap. Real life doesn’t often emulate something from a 4-year-old’s imagination, but in this case, someone actually will “guess” what fabric I might want and then mail it to me. Plus, I get to play fabric fairy for somebody else! Who wouldn’t like that? Why did it take me so long to start participating in these things?

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Knocking Out Blocks

Got some work done today on my Fat Quarterly Quilt Along blocks. I’m really liking the solid colors I chose (there will also be blocks with printed centers and solid on the outside). I’m not really planning anything out. Whatever feels right at the moment becomes a block, and I’ll just have to wait and see how it comes together in the end!

And these little guys are piecing up at lightning speed! I just might catch up after all.

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Thanks

Thank you to everyone for your nice comments about my Single Girl quilt! When I started this blog I wasn’t sure if anybody would be interested enough to read it—there are just so many wonderful quilting blogs out there, it’s hard to imagine my brand new little blog would catch anybody’s eye. So I’ve really enjoyed the comments and feedback.

As far as the quilt, the more I look at the bubble quilting, the happier I am with it. I think I questioned it because it doesn’t look quite like I had originally envisioned it. But just because something is not exactly how I pictured it in my head doesn’t mean that it’s bad or wrong (in fact, sometimes quite the opposite). That’s a lesson I’ve had to learn over and over since I started sewing and quilting. 🙂 One of these days it might even sink in!