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.

Get Inspired

inspired to sew

I’m honored to kick off Bari J.‘s Inspired to Sew blog tour today. Her new book is a beautiful work filled with her signature style and projects I can’t wait to make (and I think you’ll want to sew them, too). Bari’s asked each blog tour host to share what inspires us to sew. Here’s my story:

My mother and daughter share a dimpled chin, a love of crafting and a huge part of my heart — and credit for inspiring me to sew. They have never met — can never meet — but I like to think my sewing brings them a little closer together.

I remember growing up and thinking my mom could make anything. Time and again she’d prove it by turning piles of fabric into my favorite outfits. I’ve combed through family photos again and again, trying to find ones that showed the skirts, the tees, the dresses, the Halloween costumes she made but it seems my memories are really all I have.

After I became a mom, my mother turned her talents to sewing for her grandsons, happily creating blankets and costumes for the boys who stole her heart. She satisfied her desire for a granddaughter by sewing for my much-younger female cousins, whipping up doll clothes and dresses.

And then she was gone.

Which led to me convincing Honey our family might not be complete after all. And three years later we brought home the sweetest, silliest, most amazing baby girl, who fills our home and our lives with so much joy. How could I not give her the same kind of love my own mother showed me? I bought a new sewing machine and began to sew for the first time in years — and the first time ever that I could not call my mom and have her talk me through a problem.

I’ve sewn countless yards of fabric in the past six years, enough clothes to fill a closet (or three) and even written a book — all inspired by my mother and daughter. I sew with love, the way my mother taught me, and the way I hope to teach my daughter, too.

Are you Inspired to Sew? I hope so — and I hope you’ll comment on this post so you can win your very own copy of Bari’s book. Tell me why you’re inspired to sew between now and noon Thursday, Feb. 3. I’ll draw a winner from the comments and announce it here on the blog and probably over on my Twitter, too. And be sure to check out the rest of the stops on the blog tour, too:

Feb 1, Jennifer Paganelli: Sis Boom!

Feb 2, Jona Giammalava: Stop Staring and Start Sewing

Feb 3, Rashida Coleman Hale: I Heart Linen

Feb 4, Sarah Fielke: The Last Piece

Feb 5, Jenny Doh: Crescendoh

Feb 6, Cara Wilson: Cara Quilts

Feb 7, Deborah Moebes: Whipstitch Fabrics

Feb 8, Monica Solorio-Snow: The Happy Zombie

Feb 9, Susanne Woods: Stash Books (giving away a stack of Bari’s Full Bloom fabric!)

P.S. That cool I’m Inspired to Sew blog badge is available on Bari’s blog. Go get one for yourself!

Sewing Japanese

There are times when I pick up a fabric and just know what it wants to be. This gorgeous cotton sateen from Lecien (Atelier Akiko) was just begging to be made into something from one of my Japanese sewing books. Something feminine, with clean lines that would really showcase the fabric.

Now that it’s done, I look at the dress and know my instincts were right on.

The pattern was from this book, which I’ve sewn from before but it’s been a while. I forgot to add a seam allowance to the straps of the bodice, which made turning it right-side out a little challenging. At one point, I seriously feared that I’d ripped the fabric. Fortunately, I was mistaken but I was holding my breath for a few minutes there.

I could not find the skirt bottom or the pocket on the pattern sheet, but based on the instructions I was pretty certain both pieces were supposed to be sort of self drafted. I fussy-cut some of the border print near the selvage for the top of the pocket (which is hard to see in the picture — my model was not being super cooperative that day). You’ll just have to take my word for it that there’s a sweet little hand-drawn bow near the top edge of the pocket.

Now to wait for spring so this sweet little dress can get some use!

Signs Everywhere

The first part of my Independence Day was again spent in the middle of Atlanta, watching my son and 54,999 others take part in the annual Peachtree Road Race 10K. It’s really a great race to run, as well as watch. I have only participated twice; the distance and course are just a little more than my left knee can handle, so I’ve become a cheerleader instead.

That’s my boy up there on the left, after we met up at the post-race family area. He’s holding this year’s motivational sign. Yeah, we have kinda messed up senses of humor around here. The first year’s sign was “Run fast, Josh! Don’t embarrass your parents!” Last year’s read “Go, Josh! Run fast or walk home!” It’s quite entertaining to see his expression as he reads the sign while running past.

A sign of another kind really moved me. I read it and walked past, then walked back to ask if I could take her picture. Truly a priceless moment for me, the quiet inspiration of a total stranger.

* * * * * * *

We’ve been working on a tradition the past couple of years and spending July 4th with another family. It actually worked out this year that we did the race together (my friend T ran her first Peachtree while her hubby cheered on) before heading to their house for a cookout. It just so happens that T’s birthday falls around this time, so we also were able to celebrate the big day (31 — wooohoooo!). We got home from the race and I whipped up some potato salad and a cake to take with us.

T loves my cakes and I love making them. Unfortunately, I didn’t get started on her cake until about 90 minutes before we had to leave. And the results were … well, see for yourself:

My family has affectionately begun referring to this as “the earthquake cake.” I really made so many mistakes along the way that there’s not one single cause for what happened. If you’d like to avoid something similar, consider these points:

• It is possible for a cake to be too moist.

• Icing a slightly warm cake is never a good idea.

• Halving a ganache recipe only works if you actually measure all your ingredients instead of eyeballing them.

• A cake board underneath your assembled cake is a must when using ganache.

• Sticking a warm cake, freshly coated in warm ganache, in the freezer to harden a bit for transporting is not always the best idea — especially if there’s not a cake board underneath, because your ganache will harden and cling to your wire rack like concrete.

At some point in the not-so-distant past, a cooking disaster like this would have sent my OCD into overdrive and necessitated the disposal of said cake into the trash, never to be seen again. But I really didn’t want to disappoint my friend and I was pretty sure that, in spite of its appearance, it was going to taste just fine. Awesome, in fact.

After a good laugh and many jokes at my expense (especially after one whole section of the top layer stuck to the cake dome), everyone dug in to what turned out to be one of the best tasting cakes I’ve ever made. Not even crumbs were left.

Going Yo-yo Crazy

Last night I finally broke out the Clover yo-yo maker I’ve had for the better part of a year. (Yes, I tend to buy things and not get around to using them. It’s a bad habit and I need to break it.)

Anyway, I have an enormous bag of scraps and decided to play around with the yo-yo maker to see if I liked the results. LOVE! I think I could spend hours stitching up these little cuties. Aren’t they adorable?

Of course, I have no idea what I’m going to do with them. Right now I’m just sticking them in a gallon-sized Ziploc bag until I get a few more, since there aren’t enough to really think about using. Well, except maybe as embellishments on purses or clothes. (Which gives me an idea for a half-finished outfit for Miss L. But I digress.)

I’ve been cruising Flickr for some inspiration and haven’t been disappointed. I love how these are displayed. This is gorgeous, but I don’t know if I have the patience for it (much less a bigger one). I’m totally going to use these as inspiration. I think the yo-yos on this purse are a nice touch. I’ve seen garlands, too, but I think I’d rather do something bigger with them. What have you sen done with yo-yos that’s cool or different?