Past meets present with Inspired Free-Motion Quilting

I could not be more delighted to take part in the online book tour for Inspired Free-Motion Quilting by Bill Volckening and Amanda Leins. I have been itching to get my hands on this book for a while now because it combines some of my favorite things: antique quilts, free-motion quilting and Mandy.

I met Mandy at International Quilt Market in Houston the year our previous books were published. (Her: Wanderlust Quilts. Me: Modern Style for Girls.) Have you ever had one of those encounters and you just know about someone? Yeah, it was kind of like that. Little did I know that my new friend was an amazingly talented quilter and teacher — but I would soon find out.

And take full advantage of it.

Luckily for me, Mandy was okay with me occasionally picking her brain. I quickly learned that she had a way of breaking down quilting designs that made total sense for me. If I was struggling with something (ahem, feathers), Mandy would send me a sketch with little arrows so I could really see how to move and make the shape. It really helped me visualize how to go from Point A to Point Z and everything in between. Those same illustrations of the quilting designs are throughout this book and I think you’ll find them just as helpful.

Inspired Free-Motion Quilting is like having Mandy right there, along with antique quilt eye candy that serves as the basis for the quilting designs. The anthropology nerd in me totally geeks out over the quilt history included throughout the book. The wool whole-cloth quilts, in particular, really spoke to me. I’ve always thought of quilts as being rectangles or squares, so seeing T-shaped quilts covered in a variety of quilting designs sparked some interesting ideas I may need to explore (my half-canopy iron bed with footboard would benefit from a T-shape).

But first, I will be adapting some of the quilting motifs to some of the tops in my queue. My eye was immediately drawn to the Swag (pg. 64), as well as the Pomegranate (pg. 74). I think both would be great in borders — an area of my quilts where I’d like to add a little more oomph. Normally, I warm up a little more before I try tackling designs but I was so excited, my hands started moving and the next thing I knew, I had a little Swag going on!

I’ve been working on a quilt project since late summer (a Jen Kingwell Spindrift quilt made with Tula Pink’s De La Luna fabrics) and I can already see that some of the FMQ designs from the book can be adapted for those blocks. And now I’m kind of itching to try a whole-cloth piece (maybe with that Dream Big panel I keep petting).

Are you ready to be inspired, too? I’m excited to be giving away an e-book to one lucky winner! Just comment on this post between now and 5 p.m. EST on Sunday, 1/13/19, with your biggest quilting challenge. I’ll use the Random Number Generator to pick a winner and announce it here that evening. Good luck and happy quilting!

Be sure to check out all the other great stops on the tour with more chances to win (and Mandy’s grand prize at the end) :

Jan. 7
C&T Publishing
Bill Volckening

Jan. 8
Amanda Murphy, Amanda Murphy Design
Kim Lapacek, Persimon Dreams
Stephanie Palmer, The Quilter’s Planner

Jan. 9
Teri Lucas, Terific Creations
Lynn Harris, LynnCarsonHarris.com
Debby Brown, Debby Brown Quilts

Jan. 10
Robin Koehler, Nestlings by Robin
Patty Murphy, Patty Murphy Handmade
Mary Abreu, Confessions of a Craft Addict <-you are here!

Jan. 11
Joanna Marsh, Kustom Kwilts
Amanda Leins, Mandalei Quilts

Disclosure: C&T Publishing is also my publisher. I received an electronic version of this book as part of the online book tour. Opinions are solely my own.

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.

Sew with the Crafty Chica

When the Crafty Chica — aka Kathy Cano-Murillo — asked for bloggers interested in reviewing her latest book, I could not reply fast enough. Seriously. It was the Internet equivalent of yelling “pick me! pick me!” while raising your hand up in the air and jumping up and down.

Yeah, I’m not known for my subtlety. But I really dig Kathy’s work; it’s this uninhibited artful fun that I aspire to create but am too chicken to venture “outside the lines” to do myself.

Her latest book, “Crafty Chica’s Guide to Artful Sewing,” features 30 projects, everything from purses to wearables to home decor items. The book’s subtitle — “Fabu-Low-Sew Projects for the Everyday Crafter” — should clue you in to the fact that many of the projects start with ready-made items like canvas tote bags, towels or curtains. I am itching to make the “My Life is an Adventure” Pocket Bag, which uses slide protector pages cut and sewn together to make a see-through tote with tons of tiny pockets to dress up with paper, vintage photos or ephemera.

If you’re the kind of crafter who needs step-by-step photos or illustrations of the assembly process, this may not be the book for you. Many of the projects include only written instructions. Personally, I’m having a tough time visualizing how to sew the Chop Top Frock, which turns a man’s dress shirt into a cute halter top (the directions never tell you what to do with the sleeves). This may be in keeping with Kathy’s “kamikaze style” approach to sewing but it’s a challenge to my ADHD brain. LOL!

The book is a visual delight and features lots of personal anecdotes and fun stories that bring a little bit of Kathy into your craft room. And the photography is colorful and fun, echoing the artsy feel of the projects. It’s definitely an inspiring read for anyone who’s interested in trying a less rules-oriented approach to sewing or who wants the freedom to embellish her heart — and more — on her sleeve.