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!
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.
We 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!
California is in the middle of a heat wave this week. The timing seems really odd to be announcing a new quilt pattern called Winter Brrrd Houses. But that is what I am doing! Winter Brrrd Houses is here, and now available through my Etsy shop and will be on our SHWS Pattern Page. And to celebrate, we are giving away a free pattern today!
Winter Brrrd Houses has something for everyone. The pattern mixes piecing, improvisational curves, applique and a little bit of embroidery. Trust me, you will not get bored from making the same block over and over again with this project. I made 30 birdhouses from the start of the quilt to the completion of the pattern. Each one had its own personality. It was so much fun choosing the fabrics and sizes, that I could just keep on going!
The pattern is designed to give you oodles of options to add your own unique spin on the project. The quilt and the pattern have my name on it, but I will be the first to tell you – Laura was a huge part of writing this pattern. We all know that writing a pattern with solid technical instructions is tough. Choosing to include improvisational design options made it twice the challenge. I am so grateful to have had Laura’s expertise along the way.
Last week, I gave a peek of the sample that Laura and I put together at our sew day. I’m excited to say I just received a few photos from Kerry Reed, who has been busy quilting for me and sent some teasers while working away. This is the Spring version of the quilt. Same technique, just different fabric choices and layout. Remember, I mentioned oodles of design options?
Laura and I are teaching a birdhouse workshop to the Piece by Piece Quilters of Morgan Hill, Ca. next week. It will be fun to team teach this project now, after working so hard together to complete the pattern. About a week ago, I tried making two more versions. The first time, I followed the pattern exactly, with not a stitch of improv in sight. I even omitted the curve piecing. Ok, I did decide to change the birdhouse doors a bit. I also used some of my cherished indigo fabrics to punch it up. Simple, quick and still lots of fun to make.
In the second version, I threw all the rules out the window except for the cutting instructions for the roofs. I wanted to see what would happen if I sized the houses differently. How would it look if my points were off?
I also over sized the background sections, to give me a chance to play with the layout. The curve piecing was a natural fit at this point – I was just filling in the blanks. At some point it became a little French city, not a flurry of birdhouses. And can we just take a moment to notice the quilting? So there you have it. Four versions of what can be done with one pattern. My hope is that a few of our readers will take my lead and create their own unique designs, using the tips and techniques shared in the pattern. In fact . . .
leave a comment on what your version might be like – and I will choose a winner to receive a free pattern!
Several of our readers have asked for a tutorial on cutting and sewing curves without using a pattern. We have made a video tutorial showing how easy it is to add curves to your quilting projects. This is the technique we used on our Making Waves pattern.
It’s fun, it’s easy and if you haven’t ever done it, I suggest watching the video and give it a try. It will be permanently living in our How-To Videos page, which can be accessed through the button above. While you are there, be sure to check out some of our other helpful videos.
We are offering two copies of our pattern to two of our readers. Please leave a comment by end of day Friday, July 31st if you would like a chance to receive a pattern.
As promised, I have given another one of Alex Anderson’s new product for quilters a try. Select Print and Piece by Floriani definitely gets a thumbs up in my book! I am embarrassed to say that I have truly never embraced paper-piecing, primarily because I don’t enjoy removing all the papers and especially dislike all the little bits of paper that often remain on the back side of the block. With that said, I am impressed with this product for a variety of reasons.
First, I like the weight and feel of this fiber-based product. It is available in 8-1/2″ x 11″ sheets which will easily and conveniently run through your home printer. I made a copy of the square-in-a-square pattern that is included in the pack of 25 sheets. I selected a few fun fabrics and soon started the paper piecing process.
As with all foundation and paper-pieced patterns, the process was organized and easy. After I had completed sewing the sequence of pieces, I trimmed the block and began the process of removing the paper. It was surprisingly easy and removal was not messy – no little bits of paper stuck in the stitching lines. I started to tear the paper, which worked quite well, and then looked again at the instructions which suggests first dampening the stitching lines for easy removal. I didn’t have a q-tip, as suggested, so I simply used a spray bottle of water that was on hand in the classroom, and lightly spritzed the backside of the block. Voila! This worked perfectly! The paper came off easily, and large pieces, with no little bits remaining in the stitching lines. Also, I must note that I even forgot to shorten my stitch length as is generally suggested with paper piecing, and I am happy to say there was NO distortion of the stitches.
Removal of the paper is optional. If you like, you can choose to leave it in the quilt and you will hardly know it’s there. About 50% of it will dissipate when the quilt or project is washed.
Well, Alex, thanks again for sharing with us another great product! We love anything that helps make the process easier and more enjoyable.
Again, Alex has provided a package of the Select Print and Piece as a giveaway for one of our readers. Just leave us a comment by end of day Friday, July 10th, telling us why you would like to receive this gift. The winner will be announced in Pati’s post next week.
The winner of the rolls of Select Appli-Stick and Appli-Web Plus is Pam S. Thank you to all of you who took time to post comments. I wish I had rolls for everyone but hope you will have an opportunity to give the products a try and encourage your local quilt shops to keep it in stock. Here is a link to the Quilters Select website where you can find a list of the quilt shops that carry these and many more products.
When I recently heard that my friend, Alex Anderson had new products on the market I gave her a call and asked if I could give them a try. My hope was that I would like them enough to share my thoughts with all of you. I am happy to say I love them. Alex graciously sent me samples of three products: Select Appli-Stick, Select Appli-Web Plus and Select Print & Piece. The first two products are used for fusible appliqué and the Select Print & Piece is ideal for foundation piecing. I’ll share my thoughts on the Appliqué products today. Be sure to check back as I plan to write a review of the Select Print & Piece in my next post.
I’m always curious about the origin of new products so I asked Alex how these came to be. She shares that while she was on retreat with some friends and working on this beautiful pieced & appliquéd quilt, she was also searching for a new fusible web to replace one of her favorites that was removed from the market many years ago.
One of her friends suggested she try some products by Floriani that were being used for machine embroidery. Alex gave them a try and immediately loved the results. She started working with Floriani to tweek and customize the products for the quilting world. The products were recently introduced at Spring Quilt Market. To read more about Alex’s story and watch a video, be sure to check out the Quilters Select Website. You will also find many other useful products by this company.
I was excited to receive my samples in the mail and test for myself how they worked. Here’s what I found.
1. Select Appli-Stick – Great for fusible raw edge appliqué. This product is available in rolls, printable sheets and narrow tape (perfect for quilt bindings or decorative trims).
Like many other fusible webs, there is a paper side and web (glue) side. I especially like the weight of the paper side. It is slick, takes markings easily yet also any unwanted lines are easily erased without leaving any markings. The paper side peels away easily (think I’ve used easily too many times, but you catch my drift!) after pressing, leaving the sticky web adhered to the wrong side of the fabric.
The prepared fabric is soft, not stiff and best of all, can be repositioned! That’s right, you can change your mind if you want to move pieces around before they are permanently stitched onto a background fabric. Pieces are secure until you are ready to add your favorite decorative stitches around the edges.
2. Select Appli-Web Plus – A great product for your appliqué and other craft projects. Unlike the Select Appli-Stick, the bond on this product is permanent. The fusible webbing is very lightweight producing a softness to the finished shapes.
The paper backing on this product is not as heavy and slick as the Select Appli-Stick so I found it easier to use a pin to score the back side of the prepared shape in order to remove the paper. This prevents frayed edges from picking and pulling along the clean cut edges.
The prepared shapes are soft, lightweight and press well onto a background fabric. Since shapes are permanent, decorative edge stitching is optional.
I am really excited and pleased with these products and will definitely be using them for future appliqué projects. I’m also happy to learn from Alex that they will only be available at independent quilt shops, not large chains. Online sales are an option, but whenever possible, please remember to support your local shops. Click here to find retail locations: www.quiltersselect.com and to see the other useful products by Quilters Select.
Alex has graciously offered a roll of each of these two wonderful products to one of our lucky readers. If you are interested in having your name added to the hat, please leave a comment by Friday, July 3rd telling me why you would like to receive this gift. The winner will be announced in Pati’s post next week.
Speaking of giveaways, Pati and I are excited to have new followers on all of our our social media platforms! Thank you one and all. The 3 winners following our new Instagram account SeeHowWeSew, are rdarcene, merryheartbusyhands and mbelmer1. Congratulations to all of you! Please contact us at email@example.com to give us your mailing address for your gift.
Please be sure to check back on my next post, as I share my thoughts on the new Quilters Select Print & Piece.
There are so many social media platforms available today that there seems to be a fit for everyone’s interests and preferences. By tapping your phone, you can see what the Kardashians are up to today. If you want to find that little Thai restaurant you went to 4 years ago, you can. But, for all of us creative souls, the best perk of having all of this information at our fingertips is that we have instant connections into a visual world of inspiration. My tablet, computer and smart phone seem to be as much of a tool these days as my rotary cutter.
Laura and I have been quite busy the past few months examining how See How We Sew can connect with readers to create more of a community through our social media sites. Since we encourage “Ideas – Inspiration – Information” as the core of SHWS, it makes sense to find opportunities to explore this with more than just reading blog posts.
We are excited to share some of the details of all our hard work with you. We hope that you will not only find ideas, inspiration and information from these sites, but also take advantage of interacting with us and other readers to create an even stronger SHWS community. Share your ideas and projects, ask questions, and hopefully make some new quilt friends!
What you would like to see in your favorite social media site?
In keeping with our hopes to build a community – we would love your feedback. Where do you go for inspiration? Which social media platform do you prefer? What would you like to find in a SHWS social site? Leave some comments for us to help create the community that everyone is looking for.
Now, find your favorite arena in the list below, click on the link to follow us – and let’s start inspiring each other!
Facebook Fans: Right now, our Facebook page is a place to share links to our latest blog posts. We would love to see more interaction with our readers and urge you to share what you are working on and leave comments. We’ve begun posting links to interesting stories and articles that we think you might be interested in. Let us know if you like them.
What type of posts would you like to see on our Facebook page?
Pinterest Pinners: We have had a Pinterest site for a long time. Laura has been very busy lately updating and adding to the boards. Also, we now have a new board, From Our Blog, which holds photos and projects that link back to their respective blog posts. I am currently working on pinning all of the past blog posts to this board for easy access.
There are so many of you already following our boards and we are so grateful. Are there topics that you would like us to add to our boards?
Instagram Hashtaggers: Laura and I just finished an Instagram Boot Camp with Blogging Your Way. It was quite an eye opener for both of us! Along with our own Instagram accounts, we now have a brand new SHWS Instagram account!
In the next few weeks, we will be busy sharing photos that will have a bit of a theme to them. We will be using one of our favorite approaches to selecting fabrics for a new project. We’ll start with an image that inspires us, this might be a painting, something in nature or even a tile pattern. Then we’ll choose fabrics to complement our inspiration image and put them on Instagram. You can find them at @SeeHowWeSew, but we will also hashtag them #seehowwesewwithcolor to begin an ongoing color story. This is the first of many hashtags to come covering topics on design, inspiration and most importantly – projects.
What are you working on right now?WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU! so use #seehowwesewprojects and tag us @seehowwesew to share your latest project with us!
Click here to check it out: See How We Sew Instagram and . . .if you are one of our new followers by 6/28/15, you will be entered into a random drawing to win one of three gifts that we are giving away at SHWS!
Twitter Tweeties: Though we do not have a SHWS Twitter account, I do have my own account. I have to say that I have not been very active in this arena, other than tweeting the latest blog posts. I could use a boost from you. If you are a Twitter fan, I would love comments and feedback. What do you like to tweet about?
Etsy Shoppers: Okay, this isn’t exactly in the same category, but thought it was a great opportunity to remind you to visit our Etsy Shops.
Laura’s Etsy shop is chocked full of all of her wonderful patterns. A great site to get inspired for your next project. Be sure to follow her to keep up on her latest patterns available: Laura’s Etsy Shop
My site, is only a month old – so be patient. I’m working very hard to make my patterns available to you. I promise there will be lots of patterns uploaded soon to my shop! Be sure to follow me to know when they arrive: Pati’s Etsy Shop
And now you have it. Whew! I am excited just talking about it. I hope you take time to leave feedback for us in the comment section. We love hearing from you!
It was so fun reading all the wonderful reader’s comments left on last Tuesday’s post, My Urban Tunic in Crossroads Denim. It became obvious to me that I am not alone in being apprehensive to make the jump from quilting to garment construction. Since I had such a successful run with my first project, I thought I would share a few tips I gathered from experienced sewists as I began my project.
1. Read through the direction thoroughly, until you totally understand the cutting and construction.
2. Prewash and press your fabric.
3. Transfer your tissue paper pattern onto a more permanent and manageable material such as Pellon. I used Red Dot Tracing Material and it worked great..
4. Make a muslin sample first. Ok, in reality, I made two, in two different sizes. Then combined the smaller top and larger bottom for my own personal, pear shaped pattern.
5. Find someone that understands garment construction to help tweak your sample for a perfect fit while you are wearing it. I was fortunate enough to have the incredibly talented Margaret Linderman pin and tweak, then cheer me on to the next step. Thank you Margaret!
6. You know the saying, measure twice, cut once? Well, here’s a new one for you – Gather the correct pattern pieces. Make sure you are following the correct cutting layout for the view or option you have chosen. Check it twice, then cut it once.
7. Take your time sewing. Read and follow directions carefully. Pin, yes pin, even if you think you don’t need to.
8. Take your time to press each seam neatly. Use steam or a pressing cloth when needed.
9. Practice any required topstitching on a scrap fabric first, before stitching onto your garment. You want it pretty and perfect the first time.
I am sure these tips would be obvious to someone that does a lot of garment sewing, but for me, it was definitely a learning process, so I needed all the help I could get!. Perhaps my list will save someone else a few steps on their first project!
Thank you to everyone else for all the wonderful comments. I wish I could send a pattern to each and every one of you.
If you live in the Northern California area, be sure to check out the East Bay Modern Quilters annual show, Stitch Modern 2015. Opening night is tonight, but there will be lectures, events and gallery hours throughout the month of April. Be sure to check out the calendar of events on their website: Stitch Modern 2015.
Need a boost of inspiration? Hungry for some eye candy? – be sure to follow the links to Carol Van Zandt’s blog posts with more quilt photographs from Quiltcon 2015. They are spectacular!
If you are a regular follower of our blog, you are probably a bit surprised that I am stepping out of my comfort zone of quilting on into the world of sewing clothes. Well, me too, but, there are so many new fabrics coming onto the market lately, that I have been tempted to try sewing clothes for myself. Past attempts have not been pretty, but I keep thinking that all this quilting knowledge has to account for something, right?
So, while at Quiltcon a few weeks ago, I spent some time in the Indigo Junction booth oogling over the great designs and debating whether I should give it another try. Before I knew it, I was getting a pep talk from two of the Indigo Junction gals on how I could totally do this! I left with their book, The Magic Pattern Book and thier Urban Tunic pattern. I came home determined to do this, and do this right, and wear what I made, with pride.
As soon as I arrived home, I received an email from Indigo Junction inviting me to participate in their Crossroads Blog Tour introducing the gorgeous new colors.
Ok, if I’m going to do this, I may as well dive in and do it with an entire blog tour and put my results out there to the blogosphere. Talk about motivation to finish a project! So I chose the prettiest color ever – Cactus Flower, and committed myself to participate in the Tour.
Then the panic set in. Oh my gosh. What did I get myself into? Patterns? Waist measurements? Take a deep breath and think positive, girl. You were going to make it anyway, right?
Once I got started, it all fell in to place. The denim washed lovely and was so soft and nice to work with. It ironed like a dream. Stitching through the denim was effortless, or as SNL’s Mike Myers would say in his Coffee Talk skits, “like buttah”.
Ok, I obviously didn’t think to buy thread to match the fabric. That is not something I worry so much about when piecing 9 patches.
Following the pattern was a lot easier than I thought it would be. I had my tunic constructed in no time at all. As I worked with it, I kept thinking of all the other things I could make with this fabric. It is such a great weight and has so many tempting colors.
Love the way the armholes fell into place. I have to say, I was a bit nervous. I have not had the best of luck with that on past projects. And the pockets? Those were downright fun to make! The only tweak I needed to make was to shorten the length to be able to wear it with jeans.
Perfect for running around town. I tried it out at the farmer’s market and with coffee with a friend.
It turned out crazy comfortable and just the right amount of sass for me. Love, love, love the color, too!
This is a first for me – being able to wear something in public that I made. I love this top! It is definitely a keeper! Thanks Indigo Junction for the encouragement, an easy to follow pattern – and your wonderful Crossroads Denim! I am excited to get started on my next project. Hmmmm, maybe something in the Mushroom Denim?
What would you make out of the Crossroads Denim? Leave a comment and I will pick one lucky winner to receive their own Urban Tunic pattern.
And . . . Indygo Junction is offering a discount code for blog tour readers. Get 20% off your purchase at by entering xroads20 at checkout on their website.
Check out all the amazing projects by the talented bloggers on the Crossroad Blog Tour. You will be glad you did!
I want to start with a riddle. Think of this as you read on, and at the end, I will give you an opportunity to answer the riddle for a giveaway!
What do a cook, a quilter and an ocean view have in common?
I feel like I have opened the door to a whole new world this past few weeks.
My husband gave me a beautiful book for Christmas, My Nepenthe, by Romney Steele.
If you live on the West Coast, you may know of the restaurant, Nepenthe. I think of Nepenthe as more of a destination than just a restaurant. For years, my family has been making the drive down the coast to spend a magical day in Big Sur, California. We visit some of the most beautiful coastline available, stroll through majestic redwoods and explore the bohemic lifestyle in this mystical place that inspired artists, writers and creative souls over the years.
But at the end of the day, we always, and I do mean always, stop to visit Nepenthe.
It is the perfect way to end a day in Big Sur.We relax and enjoy the spectacular views, have something to eat, and then search for a special treasure in the gift shop, The Phoenix.
It was on one of my first visits, I looked up at the vaulted ceilings in The Phoenix and noticed quilts hanging from the rafters in all their glorious colors. That is the day I found out Kaffe Fasset‘s family owned Nepenthe.
You would think that being given a beautiful book called My Nepenthe would be a very meaningful gift for me. But it even gets better.
Author Romney Steele is also co-owner of a very special cafe, oyster and wine bar in historic Old Oakland appropriately named The Cook and Her Farmer. My husband eats many of his lunches there, noshing on an extraordinary grilled cheese sandwich or a bowl of savory mussels.
As much as I love the food, I also love simply taking in the atmosphere. Colorful jars of canned goods and bowls of fresh produce line the counters.They convey the spirit of her farm to table principles.
You can pull up a cheery, red stool to the warm, wooden tables for a casual and communal meal.
I am in awe of those able to convey their vision so clearly for others to enjoy. Romney’s bio describes herself as a writer, cook and visual artist. I would agree. Whether I am reading her book, sitting in her establishment or peeking at her blog, there is a vision that she is sharing. It is warm, and colorful, and I enjoy being a part of it.
So all of this leads up to my gift, the book My Nepenthe. A book of stories and tales of Big Sur. It is a story about food, family, how it all unfolds around the table and why that matters. It celebrates the magic and history of the family who started Nepenthe, Romney Steele’s family and yes, the Fassett family.
Ahhh, it’s all coming together, now isn’t it??? Kaffe Fassett is Romney Steele’s uncle!
I am sure many of you have read and loved the autobiography by Kaffe Fassett’s, Dreaming in Colour, which shares his stories of life in Big Sur.
Consider My Nepenthe as part of a series of books. The book is lovely. The stories are wonderful, the visuals are inspiring and the recipes are fresh and unique.
Even the design elements are delightful. Romney used Kaffe Fassett’s ever popular Millefiore design for the spine of the book, along with remnants of her grandmother’s smocks which were scanned and shared throughout the pages. It is so amazing to know a family such as the Fassett family could completely embrace the spirit of creativity.
Aren’t we fortunate that they did?
To end my story, I want to share a excerpt from Romney Steele’s blog,
She writes about her love of cooking in words that resonate with the way I feel about quilting:
“I often turn to cooking when I feel out of sorts, when I feel less than grounded, less than knowing my way. Cooking, like gardening, feels tangible. Whether slicing lemons for a bright marmalade, or turning over the soil to plant spring greens, both feel grounded in my history and in my present–in so much that is healing and gives me joy. Preparing and sharing food creates a feeling of well being, of time well spent and good work done. It’s also deeply meditative, restorative by way of making.” Romney Steele
Thank you Romney. Your words inspire me to be true to myself. To do what I do because it is who I am. But for now, I am yearning for the Big Sur Life and I just want to curl up in some quilts and read all about it!
So, dear readers,
What do a a cook, a quilter and an ocean view have in common?
What do you think they have in common? Leave your answer and share what inspires you as a comment. One of you will win a copy of our newest pattern, Making Waves.