Are You a Collector?

HeartsI wonder if you are smiling as I am at the title of this post? Of course I’m a collector and I’m guessing that if you are a quilter, sewer, knitter, crafter or maker in any art form, you too have a large collection of supplies to support your passion. In this case, I’m not referring to the obvious collection of fabric, threads, yarns, etc. but other objects that you choose to collect, just because you love them and most importantly, they make you happy. I’m curious to know what constitutes a collection, 3 or more items, how did the collection begin and what inspires us to collect?

When I was a child, I remember my parents giving me a folder for collecting pennies. I was initially intrigued and made several trips to the bank to exchange paper money for rolls of pennies, hoping to be lucky enough to find an older, sought-after coin.  Unfortunately, I had neither the patience nor the luck, and soon lost interest.

During my college days, I was drawn to ladybugs. I loved finding them in unsuspecting places. They always made me happy. I purchased a small painted one and kept it in my pocket. For some reason, it brought me comfort. Apparently, the word got out and I started receiving all sorts of ladybug inspired gifts. Here’s a peek at some of the ladybug items you  would find hiding around my house.

Ladybugs

It was the ladybug that inspired “Ladybugs on Parade”, the first design in the From Me to You pattern line, which I designed with Diana McClun.

"Ladybugs on Parade" pattern designed by Diana McClun and Laura Nownes.
“Ladybugs on Parade” pattern designed by Diana McClun and Laura Nownes.

I recently acquired a portion of my mother’s hummel collection. It got me thinking about how my mother got started collecting these figurines and why they were so precious to her. I remember her telling me that she received her first one as a wedding gift, in 1952.

This wedding gift inspired my mother to start collecting Hummels.
This wedding gift inspired my mother to start collecting Hummels.

I have no idea how long it was before she either purchased or received another one. I only know that through the years, she received many more as birthday and Christmas gifts. My siblings and I would hunt for the perfect one to add to her growing collection. It was always a sure bet that she would love the chosen figure and proudly display it in a curio cabinet devoted specifically to this collection.

A small sampling of my mother's Hummel collection.
A small sampling of my mother’s Hummel collection.

As sweet as these are, they are not something I would be inspired to purchase. However, my newly acquired collection will always be dear to my heart, knowing how much they meant to my mother.

In addition to my favorite ladybug collection, I have small collections of wooden houses, teacups and ceramic teapots and mailboxes.

Wooden houses

Mailboxes & teapots

Pati has a small collection of antique Oriental pan irons. “Pan irons were used for smoothing silks by putting hot coals or sand in them, then moved in a circular motion. Each iron was decorated differently to tell it’s own story. I only have a few of them, because I have never found an interesting way to display them.” Pati explains.

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Pati also has a collection of hearts that hang on a wall. She says she doesn’t exactly have a theme. But each one has a special meaning or memory attached to it.

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Jennifer Rounds, one of our former SHWS writers, says “I love blue and white pottery, and lately, I am a fan of bowls and plates. Blue and white is so clean and pure.”

Blue and white bowls. Collection of Jennifer Rounds.
Blue and white bowls. Collection of Jennifer Rounds.
Blue and white bowls. Collection of Jennifer Rounds.
Blue and white bowls. Collection of Jennifer Rounds.

 

photo taken from pressedglassandgoblets.com
photo taken from pressedglassandgoblets.com

I chatted with my students yesterday about their own collections. It was interesting to hear their stories and learn what inspired them to hunt for their treasured items.  Some of the obvious to me were thimbles, buttons, teapots, typewriters, bells and hearts. The most fascinating, and one I was not familiar with, was a crystal spooner. I quickly did a google search to find the following. “A popular collectible today, the spooner or spoon holder, provided as much symbolic value as function for Victorian society. The prominently displayed spoons were a clear sign of ready hospitality, as well as a status symbol for the increased affluence among the expanding middle class who could now afford silver spoons, or at least a good facsimile.” (patternglass.com) Hmmm, I just might have to keep my eyes out for these. However, would it mean I would also need to start a collection of vintage spoons? Could be fun!

We love hearing your stories, so please feel free to share the most interesting and/or unusual thing you have ever collected, and tell us what inspired you to begin the collection?

 

Happy Creating!

Laura Signature

 

 

 

 

Let’s Go To The Hop! And Two Giveaways.

Greetings to all our regular readers and welcome to those of you new to our blog. Today I am excited to be participating in a Craftsy Blog Hop/Tour with several other Craftsy instructors. I’m pleased to be among this exciting line-up of instructors who will each be sharing a bit of information on their classes. On this tour you will find a variety of inspirational classes. Craftsy offers an abundance of other creative class choices as well, so be sure to check them out. Two of my personal favorites are baking (hmmm, what a surprise) and bread making. There is something for everyone –  jewelry making, woodworking, painting, photography and so much more.

Craftsyend

 

You will have an opportunity to visit each of the blogs, learn about the classes, and sign up, if interested. You will automatically be entered to win a FREE Craftsy class of your choice. You can find all the details below.

 

Screen Shot 2015-05-21 at 12.45.35 PMHere’s a bit about me and my Craftsy class, Improve Your Quilts: 37 Troubleshooting Techniques. As you may know, I’ve been quilting, writing and teaching since the early 80’s. I am happiest in the classroom and especially enjoy helping students problem solve some of the challenges that often occur. In my class I address many of the most common disappointments (I truly don’t like the word mistake) that can arise during the quilt making process. There are seven lessons that cover everything from fabric selection to binding.

 

 

cuttingWant to know how to avoid cutting those disappointing  bent strips? It’s all in the preparation of your fabric. Take time to press the fabric, properly align the selvages and be sure the folded edge is without ripples before you make your first cut. This is no time to rush. Accurate cutting helps to prevent disappointments . . . and wasted fabric. Remember, success comes in the details.

 

 

 

Screen Shot 2015-12-10 at 1.39.16 PMFabric selection … ah, yes. This seems to be one of the most challenging steps for many of us. There are so many wonderful bolts of fabric to choose from. How do I know where to start? I share several tips, including the use of Joen Wolfrom’s Ultimate 3-in-1 Color Tool. This tool includes 24 color cards plus and in-depth instructional guide to help make color planning easy. It’s both fun and user friendly. By the way, Joen also offers a color class on Craftsy.

 

 

Here’s the schedule and links to the participating blogs. Happy Hopping Everyone!

Monday, December 7
Jackie Kunkel – Canton Village Quilt Works
Kate Colleran – Seams Like a Dream
Tuesday, December 8
Wendy Gardiner – I sew
Wednesday, December 9
Maureen Cracknell – Maureen Cracknell Handmade
Thursday, December 10
Friday, December 11
Laura Nownes – See How We Sew
Saturday, December 12
Kelly Ashton – Kelly Quilter
Sunday, December 13
Lindsey Stephens – Poetry In Yarn
My first class with Craftsy was the FREE 2013 Block of the Month. It is always available. You can join the classroom by simply clicking on the image on the sidebar of this page.
Here’s how to enter the Craftsy giveaway.
Click here to purchase any of the classes from the instructors on the blog hop and you will be automatically entered to win any other class of your choosing for FREE at the conclusion of the blog hop. Winners will be chosen on December 14, 2015.
QQQcoverIn addition to the Craftsy Giveaway, I would also like to send a signed copy of my most recent book, Quilts! Quilts!! Quilts!!!, third edition, to one lucky reader. Simply post a comment by end of day, December 14th, letting me know your favorite creative outlet (sewing, quilting, knitting, etc.) and I will put your name in the hat. I’ll announce my winner with my next post.
Finally, I want to thank so many of you for your heartfelt comments from my recent Paying it Forward post. I had a hard time selecting just one, so I decided to randomly pick the following 3 readers to each receive a yard of fabric from my stash: Brita, Jean and Carol Stickelmaier. I will be contacting you shortly. Pass it on everyone, you are all the best!
Oh yes, and just one more photo before I sign off, just because I’m such a lover of ladybugs, and couldn’t resist sharing.
This is just a small snapshot of the thousands upon thousands of ladybugs "wintering over" at one of our local Regional Parks.
This is just a small snapshot of the thousands upon thousands of ladybugs “wintering over” at one of our local Regional Parks.

Please keep your loved ones close.
Laura Signature

 

Paying it Forward at SHWS with a Giveaway

Doesn’t it always feel good when something nice and unexpected comes your way? Or better yet, when you are on the giving end of such a gesture. I recently returned from Tennessee and while standing in line for lunch at a local restaurant, the young man in front of me asked the cashier to pass his change (about $3 or so) on to the next person in line. That would be me! It just gave me a moment to pause and smile. How lovely, I thought. I decided to keep the chain going by passing my change on to the next person. Who knows just how long it went on, it really doesn’t matter. I only know that in the moment, it felt good.

I returned home to find this sweet treasure waiting for me in the mailbox.  My dear friend, Anita Grossman Soloman, knows how much I adore ladybugs so, as you can read, has passed her leftover piece on to me. The fabric is Indochine: Lotus Leaf Ladybugs Indigo by Alexander Henry Fabrics. I have it in red but had not yet seen it in indigo. Thank you, Anita!

 

This is a beautiful large scale print by Alexander Henry Fabrics. The ladybug is about the size of a dime.
This is a beautiful large scale print by Alexander Henry Fabrics. The ladybug is about the size of a dime.

I plan to use the fabric to make some little treasure that will remind me of Anita and how much I both love her work and am so grateful for her friendship. But, before I do, I’m going to cut the piece in half and share it with Pati. I don’t want her to feel obligated to use it or even challenge her to make something specific, but I will be anxious to see what she might come up with if she does decide to use it.

Giveaway-GoldWe could go on and on sharing our pieces and cutting them in half until there is nothing left but a pile of threads. Instead I would like to send one of you a 1/2 yard piece of fabric from my stash and encourage you to share with someone special. If you are interested in playing along, please simply leave a comment by November 25th telling me if you have a particular style of fabric or color that speaks to you.  I will put your name in the hat and announce the winner in my next post. I’ll be anxious to hear what you have to say and then have fun hunting through my stash to find just the perfect one to share.

Until next time, enjoy this wonderful season of giving thanks!

Laura Signature

 

100 Blocks in 50 Days! – Jigsaw Landscape block

Pati and I are finally able to share with you the first of the four blocks we made for the 100 Blocks in 50 Days challenge sponsored by Janome and Michael Miller Fabrics. It is called Jigsaw Landscape and is made using fabrics from Michael Miller’s new Cotton Couture line of solid fabrics.

Jigsaw Landscape by Laura Nownes.
Jigsaw Landscape by Laura Nownes.

 

Here is the collection of fabrics we had to choose from for our challenge blocks.

Cotton Couture solids by Michael Miller Fabrics.
Cotton Couture solids by Michael Miller Fabrics.

For this block, I decided to try my hand at cutting and piecing free-form curves. You can watch our video tutorial here and Pati’s advanced curve piecing post here. You will find complete downloadable instructions for making this block, along with all other 99 blocks, on Janome’s blog. In addition to getting free instructions, you will find a few exciting offerings so please take time to visit the website and take advantage of this opportunity. If you are just joining the viewing fun, you might want to check out our previous  post to see what these two companies have in store for a few lucky winners.

Have fun with this challenge and we hope to see you back here for my second block on December 16th and Pati’s on December 17th and 22nd.

If you are new to our blog, we thank you for visiting and hope you take time to look through some of our previous posts, enjoy some free patterns, recipes and video tutorials.

Happy sewing everyone!

Laura Signature

 

Tips for Constructing a Tumbling Diamonds Quilt Block – Part 2

FinaleditIn my last post, I shared some tips for drafting and cutting pieces for a Tumbling Diamonds quilt block. As some of you suggested in the comments, it may have been easier to paper-piece this pattern. This may certainly be the case, for those of you who enjoy paper piecing. You will however, need to start with the drafted pattern and then cut into sections required for paper piecing. For those of you, like myself, who like traditional piecing, I am including some tips for construction of this block. the more I work and play with it, the more I just love it. I can see it in many fabric and design options.

Here’s the block, now let’s get started.

Tumbling Diamonds quilt block
Tumbling Diamonds quilt block.

If you missed my previous post and would like to follow along, click here to get all of the cutting instructions.

Step One: Sew the A-1 and A-2 strips together lengthwise. To avoid waste when cutting, offset the strips 2″, as shown.

Offset Fabric strips A-1 & A-2.
Offset Fabric strips A-1 & A-2.

Step 2: Use the 45-degree angle marking on your ruler to cut diamond units. The cut width of the units is the same measurement used to cut the individual strips. The photo shows a 2″ wide cut.

diamonds1

diamonds2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step 3: Place the diamond units exactly as shown, and then use pins to secure at the center and near the ends. Be consistent with the placement of the fabrics in all four pieced diamond units. In my sample, the navy fabric is always at the ends. Sew two units together. It is important to note that the stitching line begins and ends where the two units touch. Press the seam first on the wrong and then right side to complete the pieced diamond.

 

diamonds6JPG

 

Step 4: Sew the pieced diamonds to the fabric B triangles. Note the exact placement of the pieces when stitching, as there should be extensions on both ends.

diamonds5

 

Step 5: Sew the new units to the fabric C center square. It is important to begin and end the stitching line 1/4″ from the edge of the C square, as shown and indicated by the pencil line on the fabric. Take a few backstitches at the beginning and end to secure the stitches. Repeat with all four sides.

Centersquare

 

Step 6: The final block construction joins the side pieces at the corners….yeah, y-seams!! The most important thing to remember in this construction is to never stitch beyond the 1/4″ lines, as shown.

yseam2

 

Step 7: Give your completed block a final press, first on the wrong and then right side.

Let’s look at some design options for this block. 

Without having to make multiple blocks, you can preview what four will look like together. Often times, the secondary designs formed where blocks are joined can be just as interesting or perhaps even more so that the original block. I used two mirror squares that are taped together to form a hinge. I am just loving this block and plan to play with more colors and fabric options.

 

Two mirrors joined together.
Two mirrors joined together.

 

4block mirror

 

Here’s what the block looks like if side triangles are added. An alternate block is created joining them together. I think it would be fun to use a variety of fabrics for the corner triangles.

Side triangles form the look of alternate blocks.
Side triangles form the look of alternate blocks.

 

I think I need to play more with this block. I hope you might feel the same. Up next, Pati will share her interpretation of this blocks, using the same fabrics. I can’t wait to see what she comes up with. Be sure to join us.

In the meantime, happy creating everyone!

Laura Signature

Problem Solving Tips for Drafting a Tumbling Diamonds Quilt Block – Part 1

Hello Readers,

In my last post, I included  a short video that Pati and I recently made.  In the video I suggest to Pati that we share with you some of the steps we each use in designing our quilts. I looked through the very first quilting book I ever purchased, “The Quilters” by Patricia Cooper and Norma Bradley Buferd and was intrigued by an image of the quilt labeled as “Tumbling Diamonds”. The credit indicates the quilt is from Texas around 1910 and in the Cooper and Buferd Collection. I suggested to Pati that we use this pattern and challenge ourselves to make blocks using some current fabrics.

"Tumbling Diamonds" quilt featured in the book, The Quilters.
“Tumbling Diamonds” quilt featured in the book, The Quilters.

Here are the 5 new fabrics that I selected for our projects. Since I failed to include the names of the fabric manufacturers and designers on the video, I am adding them here, just in case you are interested in adding some of these beauties to your stash.

Fabric

  1. White multi-print – “London Calling” (Spice) by Robert Kaufman
  2. Black floral – “London Calling” (orchid) by Robert Kaufman
  3. Pink with bowls – “Zephyr” by Rashida Coleman Hale for Cotton and Steel
  4. Green/Yellow geometric – “Birch Farm – Chicken Coop” by Joel Dewberry for Free Spirit
  5. Navy with letters – “Playful” by Melody Miller for Cotton and Steel

Often we find patterns or inspiration in a book, magazine or an online source. Making a traditional pieced block without a pattern or instructions can be a bit challenging. It’s nice to at least have a starting point so I consulted my two usual resource books.  I was not successful in finding this exact block. I did however, find one in Jinny Beyer’s book that is very close. It is called “Roads to Berlin” and listed under the 4-patch category of blocks. I could easily draft a block similar to Tumbling Diamonds using the diagram shown. But my stubborn self likes a challenge so I decide to attempt drafting it as close to the original as possible Note that the diamonds are both long and not pieced, as shown in the quilt pattern.

Block&grid

In this post I will share with you how I drafted the Tumbling Diamonds block and then determined the cutting sizes of the fabric shapes. My next post will include tips on block construction as well as some fun setting options. I hope you might be tempted and inspired to play along and make one for yourself.

"Tumbling Diamonds"
“Tumbling Diamonds”

I did play with this pattern on graph paper, but found the sizes to be challenging, especially when working with the pieced diamonds. So, rather than working in the traditional way of marking a finished size block onto graph paper and then filling in the shapes, I decided to start by drafting the pieced diamonds and build from there to complete the block. This is definitely not my usual way, but it worked great for this block and I too learned something along the way.

My goal was to both use easy to cut measurements and strip-piece the two fabrics together that are used for the diamonds. I randomly decided to make make each small diamond 1″ finished, and started the drafting process, as shown. I know that many of you skilled with design programs can do this much quicker and easier than this, but I’m one of those old-school girl types! I enjoy working with graph paper and pencil. Either way, I hope you might give this a try.

Step One: Mark a corner of the block, then a 45-degree angle line from the corner into the center. Finally, mark two parallel lines, 1″ apart, as shown.

FullSizeRender-1

Step Two: Mark two additional diagonal lines, as shown. This completes one pieced diamond.

IMG_0411

 

Step Three: Use the 45-degree marking on your ruler to add more lines, as shown. These lines determine the finished size of the quilt block. This one is 6-7/8″ x 6-7/8″.

IMG_0413

 

Step Four: Refer to the photos to continue marking lines to complete the shapes in this block.

IMG_0415-1

 

Step Five: This photo includes all the markings needed to define the shapes in the block. The shapes are labeled, A, B & C and cutting measurements included. Note that the A diamonds are labeled 1 & @ to indicate that two fabrics are used.

Finaledit

 

 

Here’s an easy reference chart for cutting fabric shapes to make one Tumbling Diamonds block. I am also including cutting measurements for a 10-3/8″ finished block, just in case you are interested in making a larger block but want to avoid the drafting process ; ). Get your fabrics out and start cutting. I know you will enjoy the process.

Cutting:

To make one 6-7/8″ x 6-7/8″ finished block

A-1 & A-2: One 1-1/2″ x 42″ strip, from each of two fabrics

B: One 5-1/4″ square. Cut the square twice, into quarters diagonally.

C: One 3-3/8″ square

 

To make one 10-3/8″ x 10-3/8″ finished block

A-1 & A-2: One 2″ x 42″ strip, from each of two fabrics

B: One 7-1/4″ square. Cut the square twice, into quarters diagonally.

C: One 4-7/8″ square.

Be sure to check back as my next post will include helpful hints for construction and setting options. Following that, Pati will share her block using the same inspiration pattern and fabrics. I can’t wait to see what she comes up with, and hope you will feel the same.

Enjoy!

Laura Signature

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Tutorial Series Launches at SHWS: Inspiration and Helpful Tips for Quilters

Pati and I are excited to share with you our first, of hopefully many video tutorials. In keeping with our blog name, we want you to actually “see” how we work with fabric, color, design and inspiration. Please check back with us as we have fun sharing our teaching tips on many subjects.

 

Take care everyone and enjoy!

Laura Signature

 

 

 

2015 Quilting in the Garden with Freddy Moran and Sally Collins

We have had a bit of a delay in getting our video up and running this week. Fingers crossed it will be ready for viewing next week. In the meantime, I want to share with you two exciting events happening in our area. In an effort to provide those of you not able to attend these shows with some beautiful images, I am attaching a link to Carol van Zandt’s blog. Carol, as you may know, is our roving photographer and captures some beautiful images from the many quilt shows and events she attends. Please enjoy Carol’s post, Kawandi Adventure: Quilts by Margaret Fabrizio.

2015 QUILTING IN THE GARDEN – September 26 & 27 at Alden Lane Nursery, Livermore, CA

Visit with Freddy Moran at Alden Lane, Sept 26 & 27th.

Sally Collins, guest artist at 2015 Quilting in the Garden.
Sally Collins, guest artist at 2015 Quilting in the Garden.
 

Alex Anderson
Those of you in the San Francisco Bay Area, please remember to join featured artist, Freddy Moran, guest artist, Sally Collins and our local celebrity Alex Anderson at Quilting in the Garden at Alden Lane Nursery in Livermore. The show runs from 9-4 on Saturday and Sunday, September 26th and 27th. The beautiful old majestic oak trees  provide the perfect quilt hangers for hundreds of original works of art.

Places-J: Quilting in the Garden 2012

 

Yo-Yos & Half Squares: Contemporary Quilts

The Oakland Museum of California is featuring the special exhibit, Yo-Yos & Half Squares: Contemporary Quilts. The show runs until February 21st so you have plenty of time to plan your visit.  If you enjoy Off the Grid food trucks, music and more, consider joining the museum every Friday night. There is a special half-price gallery admission for adults and ages 18 and under are free!

With Fall in the air, it’s a perfect time for enjoying quilts … but in my world, that would be every day!

Laura Signature

 

A Peek Into Our Busy Week

It’s been another busy week here at SHWS. Pati and I are away teaching her Winter Brrd House quilt at one of our local guilds. I can’t help sharing this photo of us getting the car ready for our trip. We both had to laugh at the amount of stuff needed for a one day workshop and trunk show. Believe me, it was far easier getting the suitcases into the car than it was stuffing the quilts into the suitcases ; )

Hoping it will all fit!
Hoping it will all fit!

I’ve never been one to take photos of restaurants and my food, but I just couldn’t help myself when we happened upon this little gem of a restaurant in Morgan Hill (called Josephine’s Bakery for you locals!). We walked in the front door and immediately felt at home, and not just because of the delicious bakery smells coming from the kitchen. Isn’t this the most inviting and adorable little breakfast place?

Josephines1

Our breakfasts were divine! Yes, that’s a homemade apricot scone with homemade jams. We were in heaven.

Josephines2

All in all, we had a wonderful day, teaching a group of lovely women in the guild to “embrace their curves” (Pati’s words) while making birdhouses. Ahh, teaching, I love it. To see more photos from our trip, please check out both our Facebook and Instagram pages. We’d love to have you as followers.

Pati is away on retreat but has asked me to pass along the following message regarding the pattern giveaway in her last post.

Here’s Pati:

“Everyone Wins! I was so inspired by all the wonderful ideas left in the comment section of last weeks’ post on A New Pattern and A Giveaway. If you haven’t had a chance to read them, take a moment – you will be so glad you did! It was hard to choose a winner, but, Kathy R. shared such a lovely idea, that I knew she needs to make this quilt! Congratulations Kathy! I will be contacting you to get a mailing address.

And for all the other wonderful comments and ideas, as a thank you, I am offering my Winter Brrrd Houses pattern for $7.99 for one week only. Visit my Etsy Shop today to get yours! And please, please, please, share a photo with me when your project is complete. I have started an Inspiration Page on my website to share projects made from my new pattern line. Keep sewing!”

Since we’re on the subject of “peeking”, I’ll give you a quick look into what’s ahead at SHWS. I can only tell you at this time that it involves a video and some new tutorials. The first one is inspired by the following book and fabrics.

The first quilt book I ever purchased. Still offers me wonderful inspiration.
The first quilt book I ever purchased. Still offers me wonderful inspiration.

 

I can't wait to start playing with these new fabrics.
I can’t wait to start playing with these new fabrics.

 

Please stay tuned and hope to see you back here soon at SHWS.

Laura Signature