QuiltCon is here, which means the QuiltCon Scavenger Hunt has begun! Follow me on Instagram (thatcraftaddict). Then find at least 15 of the 20 Instagram photos on the list below for your entry to be complete. Happy hunting! The Scavenger Hunt form is now closed. Thanks for playing!

If you’re on social media with other quilters/sewers, you’ve probably been watching as many of them prepare to descend on Austin, Texas, for QuiltCon 2015. New bags and outfits have been made, buttons prepped for swapping, #HelloQuiltCon introductions made. Like me, maybe you’re relegated to watching not just the QuiltCon prep but the entire event unfold on social media.

What’s a non-QuiltCon attendee to do?

Since you’re already going to be “liking” and  commenting on the flood of pictures that are about to fill your screen, why not take part in the Unofficial 2015 QuiltCon IG Scavenger Hunt? (Not affiliated with nor endorsed by QuiltCon, The Modern Quilt Guild or anyone involved whatsoever with QuiltCon.)

Head over to IG and follow me (thatcraftaddict). I’ll post the scavenger hunt list on Thursday, Feb. 19, at 9 a.m. Austin time, along with a link to the form. There are 20 items on the list and you need to enter at least 15 in order for it to be considered complete. The form will close at 9 a.m. Monday, Feb. 23 (again, Austin time). I’ll randomly choose from the completed entries and send that person a prize.

The biggest downside of writing a book is that I’m left with pretty much zero time for sewing for myself. But it’s February and the obligation sewing is long finished, so when I had a day off from work, I was ready to whip up a little something for me.

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I prefer tracing off patterns so I can make modifications more easily.

I’ve had the Myla Tank pattern from Sew Liberated for a while now (just because I don’t have time to sew for myself doesn’t mean I don’t collect patterns and fabric for future use) and when I saw the gorgeous Speckled navy lawn by Rashida Coleman-Hale for the newest Cotton+Steel line, I knew I’d found my match. The fabric reminds me of malted milk Easter eggs, which I love. Also, navy with splashes of aqua — my two favorite colors. *swoon*

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Sew Liberated Myla Tank made with Speckled lawn from Cotton+Steel.

The pattern guides you through finishing all the seam allowances with French seams. Since I have a serger (purchased because I’m too lazy to do French seams), I finished my seam allowances with it instead. Even with the French seams, though, I’d say this is a pretty speedy pattern to sew — with the exception of binding the neck and arms.

Ah, teeny binding. Not my favorite, for sure. But I think a wider binding would be far too bulky in those spots. I’m half tempted to make another but add a seam allowance around the neck and arms and do at least a half lining. On the fence about that, though, because …

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Sew Liberated Myla Tank made with Speckled lawn from Cotton+Steel.

I like the top and I’m going to wear the heck out of it but I’m not sure it’s the best fit in the chest-al region or the most flattering style for me. There’s just enough gaping around the arms that I will have to wear a tank or other top underneath. I do like the length, especially because I wear skinny jeans or leggings fairly often and this would work well with both.

But first I’m picking up more of that gorgeous lawn (maybe in the purple colorway, too) so I can make more pretties with it.

 

One of the best things about this sewing/quilting world is getting to meet cool people like Penny Layman. I wasn’t familiar with Penny’s work when I met her, which was probably a good thing because I might have fangirled all over her!

Needless to say, I was incredibly excited to see that she had a book coming out and I could not wait to get my hands on it. (Note: I paid retail for this book.The Paper-Pieced Home, published in December 2014 by Interweave, is just as lovely and charming as Penny, perfectly capturing her style on every one of the 136 pages.

The book has 40 paper-pieced blocks in a variety of sizes and 10 projects that show off those blocks, things like his-and-hers shoe bags and a tablet cover. Block patterns are printed from a CD that’s included with the book, which I love. It’s so easy to not only print out exactly what I want but I can reduce or enlarge the patterns before printing. Plus the patterns are lightly tinted to make it easier to discern the differences between sections.

I don’t have much experience with paper piecing, so I actually sat down with the book and read it before I printed a thing. Crazy! But I really wanted things to turn out well. Penny does a great job of breaking down the steps involved and gives really helpful tips so your blocks turn out as well as the examples in the book.

So like anyone trying something for the first time, I chose the simplest block pattern in the book for my first attempt.

OK, not really.

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Sewing Machine block from The Paper-Pieced Home by Penny Layman

Maybe starting with the Sewing Machine block was not the best idea. But Penny told me it was really easy in spite of all the pieces. So I crossed my fingers and jumped in. And it turned out super cute! I goofed on a couple of pieces, which I didn’t realize until the block was done, but I pulled out the seam ripper, removed the section, made another and put it all back together. It’s not perfect but it’s my first time and I’m pretty happy with it. Happy enough that I immediately made another block:

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Book Block from The Paper-Pieced Home by Penny Layman

This one would have been an ideal first block to start with! I used the new Text Sunprint by Alison Glass for Andover, some Kona solids and a tiny bit of some Patty Young fabric I had on hand. I think this one is going to get incorporated into a tote bag for Miss L to use for library books.

I’ve already got my eye on a few more blocks to play with, including the most fabulous, funky shoe in the history of quilt blocks.

 

For the majority of my most recent book-writing adventure, I did little sewing that was not related to my book. So when that final manuscript deadline rolled around, I let a couple of friends talk me into signing up for some swaps.

Swaps are nothing new. I have actually taken part in a couple but it’s been years since I’ve done one. Still, I knew that my inclination would be to ignore my sewing machine for six months after going pedal to the metal for so long. A swap could be just what I needed to recharge my sewing mojo.

First up was a quick holiday hot pad swap organized by the delightful Mo Bedell. Small project with a Christmas theme? Heck to the yeah! Of course I’ve never made a hot pad and had not sewn binding on anything in months, so it was a little  more of an adventure than I expected. But I thought they turned out cute (yes, I made two):

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Holiday Hot Pad swap pieces (binding in progress).

I have some weird addiction to buying cute Christmas fabric, so it was easy to “shop” my stash and pull together a few fabrics for the hot pads.

Next up was the Schnitzel and Boo Mini Quilt Swap over on the Instagram. I’ve really only made one mini quilt before (and it went to a dear friend), so I was a bit nervous about this one. My swap partner provided lots of likes and clues in her questionnaire but her IG profile was private so I ended up stalking her quilt board on Pinterest to get an idea of her style. She’d written that she liked Lecien’s Flower Sugar and her Pinterest had some scrappy star quilts on it, so I took a leap and came up with this:

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Schnitzel and Boo Mini Quilt Swap

The star is actually one of the blocks from our Block of the Month quilt. I changed up the setting so the star points would nest with each other, rather than keep the stars in evenly spaced rows. I really love how the setting creates this pretty pinwheel in the center! I was trying to use fabrics in my stash so the white squares are a mix of white-on-white fabrics I had on hand. It’s such a sweet little quilt and I plan to play with the design a bit to see if a larger quilt will work.

There are many things I love about working in a quilt shop. Talking to people about what they’re making is right up there near the top. It’s not unusual to hear people downplay their projects. “It’s just a quilt.” “It’s nothing special.” “I’m just a beginner.”

One of our regulars was telling me recently that she makes quilts for the high school graduates she knows but that the ones she made weren’t anything special because she’s still new to quilting. And it dawned on me that she really, honestly thought the quilts she was making weren’t anything remarkable — which couldn’t be farther from the truth.

If you take the time and love to make someone a handmade gift — especially something like a quilt — you are giving them something they will treasure for years, I told her. You may look at it and see all the mistakes you made but the recipient sees you and feels loved. If you gave that same person a comforter from Target, that blanket will go in the trash when it’s no longer worth using. But that person will seek out someone to repair the worn spots, the damage from years of loving use, of that beautiful handmade gift you think of as “nothing special.”

Whether or not we intend it, our quilts, clothes, stuffed toys — they’re all special for the love and thoughts that go into making them. If that doesn’t make it an heirloom, then I don’t know what does.

I’m not quite sure what happened to this year. Didn’t 2014 just get started? How is it possible that we’re already 10 days into November?

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At least I’ve already got a head start on my holiday sewing. Last year I picked up a copy of Simply Modern Christmas by Cindy Lammon. The projects were just lovely and I could see myself making so many of them — and not limiting myself to holiday fabrics. Of course, I couldn’t resist making a cute Christmas quilt.

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The retro Christmas fabrics from Michael Miller just spoke to me! And the Kona in Pool was a perfect match. It’s a lot of flying geese but chain piecing made the work go a little faster. It’s not a huge quilt — small enough to back with one width of fabric — but great for showing off a big chunk of theme fabric.

My buddy Elizabeth Beck did the quilting and I wish I had snapped a better picture of the quilt so you could see her beautiful work! The quilt is on display at Intown Quilters, if you’re local.

An open letter to my family:

I’d like to apologize for the meal I’ve prepared for tonight’s dinner. Out of the approximately 500 meals I cook and serve in any given year, it’s to be expected that a few will be not so awesome. Tonight is one of those meals.

In my haste to prepare the meatloaf I’d planned for tonight, I neglected to add any seasonings whatsoever to the ground beef. I did remember to put it in the meatloaf pan and pop it in the oven for about an hour. What you’ll find in the kitchen looks very little like the meatloaf you’ve come to expect from me and a great deal more like “old brown shoe.” Looks aren’t everything, folks, so I’d suggest you refrain from making comments about its appearance — unless you are planning to volunteer to make dinner for the next three weeks.

Please trust me when I say it is entirely edible and safe to consume. In fact, you could consider it a blank canvas, just waiting for the condiment of your choice to lend it flavor. Seriously, go grab some kind of condiment out of the fridge and pour it on because you’re getting overcooked, plain ground beef for dinner. At least the mashed potatoes have garlic in them (I bought them that way).

xoxo,
me