Category: Books

Machine Quilting is Mega Fun with Pat Sloan

I have a stack of quilt tops languishing in my studio. My intention has always been to quilt them myself because they’re small or made with inexpensive fabric or not tops I think are worth the expense of longarm quilting.

So they sit on shelves and in bins, waiting for me to get around to quilting them myself — except I still consider myself something of a machine quilting novice and the thought of tackling the pile intimidates me.

pat-sloan-mega-fun-book-toursqWhen my buddy Pat Sloan asked me to be part of her Mega-Fun Book Tour for her new book, Teach Me to Machine Quilt, I couldn’t say “yes” fast enough. Reading it was like having a conversation with Pat — I could actually hear her voice in my head. Her tips and detailed explanation of techniques really makes machine quilting on my home sewing machine more doable.

patsloanbook

The weakest part of my quilting game is the quilt basting, hands down. I can manage smaller quilts but anything larger than a throw inevitably ends up with wrinkles and puckers in the backing. Pat’s tips for basting made so much sense! I actually feel like I can tackle the quilt I made for my queen-sized bed now! (A Sassy Sixteen made with Luke Hayne’s Dapper fabrics, backed with Tula Pink Freefall.)

My Sassy Sixteen quilt top made with Luke Hayne's Dapper fabric line.
My Sassy Sixteen quilt top made with Luke Hayne’s Dapper fabric line.

I love that Pat also included projects in her book, broken down by quilting style (walking foot vs. free motion quilting). I’ve already decided I need to make this quilt:

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Pat’s Mega-Fun Book Tour includes an amazing line-up of participants (seriously — I can’t believe my name is on the same list as these folks). Be sure to head over and check out all the posts, tips, interviews and  more:

Nov 18

Nov 19

Nov 20

Nov 21

Nov 22

Nov 23

Nov 25

Nov 26

Nov 28

Nov 29

Nov 30

And … YOU can win your very own copy of Pat Sloan’s Teach Me to Machine Quilt from the super talented author herself! Head here to enter to win (be sure to read the details to make sure you’re entered). Physical Copies for US residents, digital copies for all other winners. Be sure to enter by midnight on Dec. 1!

Review: Quilts for Scrap Lovers

When Judy Gauthier asked me to be part of the online tour for her new book, Quilts for Scrap Lovers, I couldn’t say “yes” fast enough. I have a love-hate relationship with my fabric scraps. I love to find uses for them but they’re weird sizes and — because I make a lot of garments — often they are oddly shaped.

frontcover

Yet I can’t seem to stop saving them, to the point that my color-coded scrap bins are stuffed to the brim. And don’t even ask about the tubs full of scraps from my three books that I keep thinking I’ll turn into the most epic scrap quilt ever.

I finally had a chance to dig into the ebook for Judy’s book while traveling to and from Quilt Market and I knew this was the book for me. All the challenges I’ve encountered with my own scraps? She gets it and she tells you how to deal with them. She’s not afraid to tell you what she’s done wrong, too, which I love, like admitting that cutting her scraps into certain size pieces without a plan made things way too hard.

I found myself nodding my head and occasionally commenting out loud in agreement (sorry, nice lady in the seat next to me on the plane!) to things like, “You can’t go wrong if it makes you happy when you look at it.”

She breaks up the pieces into three sizes of templates (the acrylic templates are sold separately; you can also use acrylic rulers, template plastic or even cardboard to make the templates). Position the templates and cut, then reposition and cut again until all the usable fabric has been turned into pieces that are ready to turn into amazing scrap quilts.

Judy talks about mixing old and new fabrics, color, value, bias edges, balancing quilt layouts and more before showcasing 16 quilt designs that use actual scraps. Some of the quilts require background fabric but even those backgrounds could be made with something like a variety of white-on-white fabric scraps to really go scrap crazy.

While I read through the projects, I was mentally flipping through my inventory of scraps, plotting which quilt I would make first. I’m pretty sure the cover quilt, Sunshine and Shadows, is near the top of the list. But it’ll have to wait until I’ve made Hugs and Kisses:

scrapquilts2

I just love this quilt! And I can totally see making it in a mix of pinks and aquas, which are two colors I have more scraps than I can manage!

Be sure to check out the other folks taking part in the book tour:

Mary Abreu Nov. 3 <– that’s me!
Diane Knott Nov. 4
Kim Lapacek Nov. 5
And now for the fun part: You can win your very own copy of Quilts for Scrap Lovers! Comment below with your favorite tips for organizing scraps and you’re entered to win. Winner will be chosen via Random.org on Monday, Nov. 7.

Hack that Tote! Blog Tour

hackthattotecoverIt’s been so much fun to read along with each stop of the Hack that Tote! blog tour. I’ve loved seeing what each of the talented folks who’ve taken part have done to tweak the bags from the book to suit their needs. A big “thank you” to these wonderful folks for being a part (be sure to check out each to see what they’ve whipped up and enter their giveaway):

9/27 C&T

9/28 Sue O’Very

9/29 Gen Q Teri Lucas 

9/30 Patty Murphy

10/1 Vanessa Lynch

10/2 Lindsay Conner

10/3 Stephanie Moore

10/4 Katy Cameron

10/5 Kim Niedzwiecki

I wrapped up the book last fall but I’ve continued to play around with different ideas for modifying not only the Basic Tote Bag but many of the projects in the book. I’ll see a shape or a fabric or fun hardware and wonder “how can I use that?” and off I go!

That’s somewhat how this particular hack came to be. I saw a metallic leather bucket bag on a fashion blog and immediately realized how similar it was in shape to the Tote. My plan is to make it metallic leather some day but I had some beautiful metallic champagne vinyl in my stash and got to work.

bucket bag

This bag is closer in proportions to the Goodie Bag with Reverse Applique, with all four sides finishing about the same width. I made one long strap and attached it to the center of the side seams with a nice, big box stitch.

handle stitches

Because I put metal grommets around the top of the bag for the drawstring (which I still need — the silver cord is just a placeholder), I opted to use another piece of the vinyl for the top of the lining. It makes it a bit of a challenge when it comes to pressing the top seam of the bag but I like having the extra durability of the vinyl vs. using a full lining of fabric.

One of the touches that I love is the magnetic closure. The tabs are separate pieces and the vinyl should help them hold up to the wear and tear that happens with this type of bag closure.

magnetic closure

My hope with Hack that Tote! is that you’ll not only love the projects I’ve included but that you’ll be inspired to mix up things and make the bags you sew reflect your style. I’d love to see what you make! Tag your projects #hackthatote or share them to my Facebook Page because show-and-tell is my favorite!

And … C&T Publishing is graciously giving away a copy of Hack that Tote! to one lucky reader of this blog! (Printed copy for those in the U.S.; ebook outside of the U.S.) Simply comment below and tell me a favorite hack from the tour. I’ll use Random.org to choose a winner after 5 p.m. Eastern time on 10/10. Good luck!

 

Do You Need a Piecing Makeover?

11170The only thing harder than not talking about the book you’re writing is not talking about the book your friend is writing.

While I was hammering away at the book that would become Hack That Tote!, my friend Patty Murphy was across town working on her own book, Piecing Makeover: Simple Tricks to Fine-Tune Your Patchwork * A Guide to Diagnosing & Solving Common Problems. Every so often, we’d touch base to encourage each other and chat about our progress on our books.

And as soon as our manuscripts were off to the editors and normal, non-book sewing resumed, I hit up the expert to diagnose my particular piecing problems:

  • The curved dahlia that popped up like a volcano instead of lying flat. (Patty’s tip: check the seam allowance. Mine started at one width and finished at another. Oops.)
  • The warped strips.
  • Chopped off points.
  • Bulky seams that just would not behave.

11170_177Face Time and a friend who literally wrote the book on fixing problems with your quilt blocks are kind of the best things ever.

Fortunately for everyone who doesn’t have Patty on speed dial, there’s her amazing new book, which delivers on its promise to help fix those little things that take your quilt piecing to a new level. Best of all, it’s chock full of pictures to really help you see what’s going awry so you can apply it to your blocks.

But why take my word for it? C&T Publishing is graciously giving away a copy of Piecing Makeover to one lucky reader of this blog! (Printed copy for those in the U.S.; ebook outside of the U.S.) Simply comment below and tell me what piecing technique you’d love to improve. I’ll use Random.org to choose a winner after 5 p.m. Eastern time on 9/18. Good luck!

Be sure to check out all the stops on the Piecing Makeover blog book tour:

9/13  AnneMarie Chany http://www.genxquilters.com/
9/15 Teri Lucas/Gen Q Magazine  http://generationqmagazine.com/
9/16 Sandi Hazlewood http://www.craftyplanner.com/
9/17 Mary Abreu http://confessionsofacraftaddict.com/ < You are here!
9/18 Kristin Esser https://kristinesser.com/
EDITED 9/19/2016: And the winner is … Anna-Marie! Congratulations! I hope this helps you with the quilt you’re making for your daughter!

The Secrets We Keep

A year ago, I was eagerly awaiting the release of my second book, Modern Style for Girls.

A year ago, I was wrapping up my third book, Hack that Tote!

Only a handful of people knew I was writing another book, each of them sworn to secrecy. I wanted my second book to have time to build an audience, without the distraction that comes with another book.

So here I am, less than a month until my third book launches into the world, finally spilling the beans.

hackthattotecover

Hack that Tote! is 104 pages, filled with some of my favorite projects and a wealth of information about fabrics, interfacings, hardware and so much more. At times, I felt like writing this book was a bit of a brain dump! The base project, the Basic Tote Bag, is one I’ve taught for years in my Sewing Basics class at Intown Quilters. Each of the hacks — the modified patterns for the additional 11 projects — shows you simple ways to transform the Basic Tote.

But it doesn’t end there. I’ve included information about the process behind the hacks, with key information to help you further modify the patterns to really put your own twist on things. There’s tons of photos and illustrations to help, too.

Hack that Tote! will be out in September. Ask your local quilt shop or book store to order it! I also have a limited number of autographed copies available for purchase in the U.S. (just click the Buy It Now button):


Your Guide to “Modern Style for Girls”

Welcome to my website! I’d love to connect with you so please consider signing up for my monthly newsletter, chock full of my sparkling wit and maybe a free pattern every now and then.

Modern Style for Girls: Sew a Boutique Wardrobe, October 2015, Stash Books, an imprint of C&T Publishing
Modern Style for Girls: Sew a Boutique Wardrobe, October 2015, Stash Books, an imprint of C&T Publishing

Modern Style for Girls is finally here! It’s such a crazy thing to see it “out there,” where anyone can buy it and sew from it.

The book includes three basic garments — bodice, skirt, pants — that you can modify to create a variety of wardrobe pieces in sizes 7-12. Add collars, shift necklines, change armholes — all kinds of tips and tricks for making each piece have a fresh look.

I’ve broken things down again by garment: Basic Bodice, Pants and Skirts. Each garment has four projects for a total of 12 pieces. But that doesn’t mean you’re limited to 12 looks! Mix and match parts of patterns to create something completely different, whether it’s adding the collar from the A-line Dress to the Sleeveless Empire-Waist Top or adding the cuff from the Cuffed Dig ‘Ems to the Shorts (instead of lace). I really love playing with patterns to make them into something new and encourage you to do the same thing.

The techniques in Modern Style for Girls are the next step after my first book, Little Girls, Big Style. I’ll show you how to add invisible zippers, sew a set-on waistband, insert a trouser zipper and even on-seam pockets.

All the looks in Modern Style for Girls are reflective of today’s kids, my daughter included. She had a lot to say about the projects, from the ruffles to the fabrics. I hope you love it just as much as we do!


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Here’s your chance to win an autographed copy of Modern Style for Girls! I’m using Rafflecopter, so just click and comment.Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway Time!

I’ve joined the weird, wonderful world of Periscope! It’s a live-streaming app that allows you to interact. I honestly have no idea what I’m doing but I’ve been using it and I really like it. I’ve added a link in the sidebar of my website that not only links to my Periscope but tells you when I’m live broadcasting so you can watch on the web.

This afternoon, I shared some peeks at Modern Style for Girls on Periscope and announced a giveaway on Goodreads. I’ve been a Goodreads author since Little Girls, Big Style and I love using the site to discover new things to read! If you’re on Goodreads, you can enter the giveaway here:

 

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Modern Style for Girls by Mary Abreu

Modern Style for Girls

by Mary Abreu

Giveaway ends October 15, 2015.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

 

You’re also welcome to buy an autographed copy from me!

Closer

Around this time last year, I was signing a contract for the book now known as Modern Style for Girls. It simultaneously feels like yesterday and forever.

Writing craft books is not for the impatient. The process — and it’s definitely a process — takes around 18 months. There are times when it’s the only thing you’re doing and it just consumes every waking minute of your day. And then there are times when you sort of forget that you’ve written a book because you’re not actively working on it and it’s not time to start digging into the promotion of it.

final pages

Less than two weeks ago, I spent eight days reading, reviewing and marking up the final proof of Modern Style for Girls. It’s the first time I was able to see the book laid out and designed, and the last time I’ll see it before it’s printed and bound.

It’s such a different experience, seeing my words and photographs pulled together in book form for the first time. I’m so fortunate that my daughter and her friends happily modeled for me. It makes me smile to see them wearing what I designed and made, and know that other people will soon be able to make the same garments.