One Lovely Blog Award

Recently, I was nominated for the One Lovely Blog Award by Cheryl at Meadow Mist Designs.  I’ve seen this award making its way around the blog world.  It seems like a great way to spread the love among bloggers who have a real passion for what they do and perhaps to introduce you to a blog that you may not have known about.

One lovely blog

 

There are three things required of me to accept this nomination.  The first is to acknowledge the person who nominated me.  I had the pleasure of meeting Cheryl in person at QuiltCon 2015 in Austin, Texas.  Before that, we had been virtual friends through our blogs. Cheryl’s blog, Meadow Mist Designs, is a great place to interact with other quilters and to find information and inspiration.  Cheryl publishes her own patterns, she’s co-hosting the 2015 New Quilt Bloggers Blog Hop, and she just kicked off a Midnight Mystery Quilt Along that includes a pattern designed by her (and it’s free).  She is a very busy and talented lady!

The second thing I need to do is tell you 7 facts you may not know about me.  Hmmm.  This could be embarrassing tricky, but I’ll give it a try.

1.  I have a type B personality.  I’m extremely patient and forgiving. But my sewing room is (almost) always a mess.  It’s kind of an organized chaos situation. I would much rather be sewing than cleaning.  But I can cook really well, and I do make my bed every morning!

Sewing room table @ The Crafty Quilter

CLEAN & Organized Sewing Room @ The Crafty Quilter

 

Messy & Disorganized Sewing Room

Messy & Disorganized Sewing Room

 

2.  I walk my dog, Cooper, along with Mr. Crafty Quilter every morning, rain or shine, around 6:00 or 6:30 a.m. for 45-60 minutes. Once in a while Mr. Crafty Quilter will go solo and let me sleep in.

cooper on a leash

 

3.  I’m always trying to lose 10 pounds.  Currently, it’s 20 pounds.  Menopause has not been kind to me.  Enough said; I know I’m not alone.

4.  I never finished college.  I have an Associate of Arts degree and I was heading for a major in deaf education.  But, I was working full time and then got married at age 22.  Followed two years later by child #1, which was followed by three more children.  But you know what?  I always wanted to be a mom when I grew up!  It’s been my dream job, and I’ve been very fortunate to stay at home and raise my kids.

Family 2015

Father’s Day with the younger three and my oldest with grand baby #1!

 

5.  I’m not very chatty.  I don’t like to talk on the phone much, and my version of a story is always going to read like the Cliff notes and not the thick novel.  Mr. Crafty Quilter is the exact opposite.  He’s a natural on the phone.  He can talk to anyone, anyhow, anytime (and usually for a long time).  We’re perfect for each other.

me and dad at regale

 

6.  I make my own deodorant.  And it works!  You can find the recipe I use here.  I’m also converting to organic and natural skin care, but it can be expensive.  So, I might start making my own facial products, too.  Our skin is the biggest organ of our body.  If a product isn’t safe enough to eat, then I don’t want it on my skin, especially my arm pits!

7.  I love being alone.  I could go for days without any human interaction and I would be just fine (of course this is only a theory, since I haven’t had that luxury – yet). I love being at home alone.  I love shopping alone.  I love going for a hike alone.  I love driving alone.  But I don’t go to movies alone or out to dinner alone. There, I’m not a complete loner.

Well, that list only took me three days to come up with!  Now onto the final thing I need to do (and my favorite).  I get to nominate 7 other blogs for the award.  And here is my list (in no particular order):

Amanda @ The Patchsmith

Lani @ Simply Fresh Vintage

Lea Anne @ Podunk Pretties

Lorna @ Sew Fresh Quilts

Amy @ Amy Made That!

Elaine @ SummerCrafter

Sheri @ Sunshine in the Attic

I hope you all have a great day!

Julie

Giveaway winner and sewing room happenings

I have picked a giveaway winner for the Cozy Afternoon Blog Hop.  Comment #111, Cecilia Y., is the winner of two patterns from Jacquelynne Steves.  Congratulations!  You will be receiving your patterns soon.

giveaway winner 111

Giveaway for June- Cozy Afternoon Free BOM

 

Thank you to everyone who commented on that blog post.  I haven’t responded to you all, but I have read EVERY comment and I appreciate all of your lovely thoughts.

Here is what’s been happening in my sewing room life:

My latest tips & tricks video for The Quilt Show was released on Monday and it’s all about getting that perfect, scant 1/4″ seam allowance.  One of the first blog posts I ever did was How to Obtain a Perfect 1/4″ Seam Allowance.  I use the exact same technique today, and I teach it in my beginning quilt classes.  It works every time!

quarterinch

Perfect 1/4″ Seam Allowance Video @ The Quilt Show

 

You all know that I love my dog, Cooper.  He is one of those dogs that has a funny, mischievous personality.  If he’s in a playful mood, we have to keep an eye on him.  Shoes have a way of disappearing….

Cooper with shoe

 

One day last week, my daughter asked me if it was o.k. if Cooper was chewing some white, fluffy material.  Ummm, NO!  That would not be o.k.  This was going to be the batting for a baby quilt.

batting torn up 2 cooper and quilt copy

 

Now, it’s going to be the batting for some practice quilt sandwiches and maybe a wall hanging or some mini quilts.   As they say, whey life gives you lemons… make lemonade!

batting resized with cooper

 

I received some happy mail yesterday.  I’m going to be playing with this fabric from Blank Quilting. This will be my big project for the month of July.  I’ll give you more details later in the summer.

blank quilting package

 

I’m still working on my Christmas in July project for Fort Worth Fabric Studio.  I hope to have it finished by the end of June.  Yikes!  That’s just a week away!

christmas in july project

 

I’m also working on a little project for next year.  It will be exclusively for my blog readers, and I’m really excited about it and a little nervous at the same time.  It’s actually a big project and it’s going to take a lot of thought and energy on my part.  For now, I can show you this little block that is being tested out for it.

butterfly block copy

When I get up the courage, I’ll write a separate blog post about my project and my plans for next year.  Until then, it’s back to the sewing room (and the graph paper/sketch pad).

Have a perfectly happy day!

Julie

Free motion quilting practice tips

You might not know this about me, but the first quilting class I ever took was a free motion quilting class.  That was about 15 years ago.  Now, I teach the class at the same quilt shop that I took the original class from!

Today, I have some free motion quilting practice tips for you.  Much of this is the same information that I shared last week in my weekly tips video for The Quilt Show.  Plus, I’ve added a “spinning feathers” FMQ design here for my blog readers.

Free Motion Quilting Practice Tips @ The Crafty Quilter

 

I’m sure you’ve heard this before, but the first tip is to practice, practice, practice!  FMQ is a lot like learning how to play the piano or to ice skate.  It feels really awkward and unsteady at first.  You don’t get better at this until you consistently practice.  A little each day goes a long way!

One of the things that you’re doing when you practice FMQ is you’re building up muscle memory.  Your brain is communicating to your hands and things get moving fast.  It helps to have a game plan and it’s a lot easier when your muscles are conditioned for that plan.

A great way to practice your free motion technique is to use a dry erase board or a pencil and paper.  I often doodle on paper first, and then I use a dry erase board when I have a plan formulated.  It’s a great way to practice your technique and build that muscle memory without having to make a practice quilt sandwich.  Plus it’s portable and environmentally friendly!

Here’s the design I was practicing on yesterday:

fmq complete

 

It kind of looks like spinning feathers.  Here are the steps:

  1. It starts with a swirl that spirals inward.
  2. Echo the swirl back out and connect to the base.
  3. Then go around the outside of the swirl with “open” feathers (as opposed to traditional, tight ones).
  4. Next, you echo back around and begin a new swirl.

Swirling feathers thru 4

 

You can continue making swirling feathers in any size you want.

Swirling feathers thru 6

 

TIP:  Leftover batting scraps are great for erasing your practice doodles.

Sometimes I’m looking for a design that will fill a particular space within my pieced blocks.   An example of this is my recent Spring Petals Table Topper.  I wanted something that would fit in between the petals.

fmq detail 2

 

I have a three-step process when I’m free motion quilting.  Practice on a white board or paper, practice on a practice-sandwich, and once I’m comfortable, I quilt on the real quilt.

For the Spring Petals quilt, my first step was to draw the space I wanted to fill on my white board and test out some designs.

practice designs

 

Then I practiced on a quilt sandwich.

quilt practice

 

I altered the design a little bit when I stitched it on the actual quilt.

fmq centersspring petals quilt copy

 

I have a few tools that I can’t live without when I’m free motion quilting.  They are the Supreme Slider Free Motion Machine Quilting Mat, Betty Bands from Steady Betty and Neutrogena Norwegian Formula Hand Cream.

fmq tools

 

The Supreme Slider makes your sewing surface even and slippery.  It has a pink, sticky back that adheres to your table top and an opening for the needle plate.  It’s great for moving a quilt sandwich easily underneath your FMQ foot.

supreme slider

 

The Betty Bands are my new favorite tool for gripping a quilt sandwich as I’m quilting.  I love that it leaves my fingers exposed and I’m able to “feel” the fabric underneath.

crafty quilter quilting

 

For smaller projects, I use Neutrogena’s Norwegian Formula hand cream.  It leaves a tacky residue on your hands which is ideal for quilting, and it doesn’t harm your fabric!

I have a few go-to websites and blogs that I love for free motion quilting ideas and inspiration.  Lori Kennedy has been blogging at The Inbox Jaunt for several years and she has created a name for herself in the quilting world.  Every Tuesday, you’ll find tutorials for quilting motifs and stepped out instructions for each design.  It’s a great resource for your FMQ library!

Free Motion Quilt Tutorials at The Inbox Jaunt

 

For my monthly fix of FMQ, I go to Quilt Shop Gal for her 2015 Free Motion Quilting Challenge.  Each month she showcases a different FMQ expert and it includes a tutorial and a challenge.  It’s great for learning new skills!

2015 FMQ Challenge at Quilt Shop Gal

And finally, Leah Day has an extensive collection of videos, books, DVD’s and tutorials at The Free Motion Quilting Project.  It’s a great resource for everything you need to know about FMQ!  I have learned so much from this website.

I hope you’ve found some useful tips on FMQ today.  I feel like there’s always room for improvement in this area and that definitely includes me!  Thanks for being here!

Julie

 

Cozy Afternoon blocks 1 and 2

Hey everyone!  I’m so honored to be one of the featured bloggers for Jacquelynne Steves’ Cozy Afternoon Block of the Month.  And I’m really happy that I get to share this month’s blocks, 1 and 2, with you:

Cozy Blocks 1 and 2 main

 

Aren’t they sweet?  I love the applique version (of course), but the nice thing about this BOM is that Jacquelynne gives you options for pieced, applique, or embroidery block centers!  You get to decide what you like best or least.

The block instructions are excellent and I like the techniques Jacquelynne uses for piecing.  It’s not too late to sign up, if you’re just finding out about this BOM!  You might learn something new and improve your accuracy just by following along.

Picking out fabrics is the first step, and one thing to watch out for is directional fabric.  It won’t work with the on-point setting if you’re using it in the setting squares.  I learned this the hard way.  I ordered fabric online because I loved a certain large print, only to find out that it wouldn’t work because it was directional.  Hence, plan B!  I’m really happy with my color palette. Here is the fabric I’ll be working with:

cozy fabric

 

The two main prints are from Dear Stella’s Floral Daze collection.  I love the hand painted floral designs and the orange, navy and olive green colors.  For more ideas and fabric inspiration, check out this post from Jaquelynne Steves blog.

You can see the detail of the applique block centers in the photo below.  I’ve used a small zig zag stitch in coordinating cotton thread.  For this project, I want my stitch to blend in with the applique.

block 1 close up copy

 

For Block 2, I found a cute bee button to use instead of the appliqued bee in the pattern.  Sometimes it pays to keep old buttons around.  Really, I’m always trying to sneak in ways to justify my “collections”.

block 2 applique copy

 

Many of you are new to my blog, so you may not know this, but I love teaching machine applique classes.  I also love sharing my techniques and tips here on my blog.  You can find previous applique lessons at my Three-part Applique Series and on my recent Spring Petals Quilt Along.

blocks 1 and 2 action copy

 

Jacquelynne has kindly offered to host a giveaway right here as part of her BOM blog hop.  All you have to to do is leave a comment on my blog by the end of Saturday, June 20, and I’ll pick one winner.  The prize includes two patterns, Flutterby and Nantucket.  International entries are welcome.

Giveaway for June- Cozy Afternoon Free BOM

 

Thank you so much for visiting today.  I hope you come back soon!

Julie

 

I Spy Summer

This may not be true for everyone, but I spy summer all around me!  I love the beginning of this season.  The days are long and there’s so much summer left in front of you. Plus my flowers are blooming, my vegetables are ripening and baby birds are leaving their nest. Just yesterday, I took some pictures of how it looks from my perspective.

Here is a shot of my front yard.  Can you spy Cooper in the shade and the empty (not for long) hammock?

front of house

 

I love all of the blooming flowers.  This Double Delight rose is one of my favorites:

double delight

 

Along the side yard, you’ll find hydrangea and fuschia:

side walkway

 

It’s always nice to bring some of those blooms inside:

hydrangea inside vase

 

The pomegranate tree is flowering and fruiting.  This is a great tree for ornamental value and the fruit is amazing and healthy for you!  I love making pomegranate scones in the fall.

pomegranate

 

The morning glory fence is blooming like crazy.  I love the intensity of the purple color:

morning glory

 

The milkweed is taking over one corner of the yard.  I don’t have the heart to pull any of it out when it’s this  pretty:

milkweed

 

The nasturtiums are really starting to show off their beautiful orange and yellow colors.  If you look closely, you can spy a bee doing its work.

bee nasturtium

 

And how about those toes!  I was treated to a pedicure for my birthday and I love this nail color.  It can go with pink or red, depending on the outfit.  And those shoes are actually a pair of Crocs.  I love all of their new styles and they are so comfortable!

pretty shoe

 

I have three vegetable beds in my front yard.  I planted early this year.  I can already spy some red tomatoes.  Love those Early Girls!

tomatoes vegie garden

 

Now that we’re empty nesters, you won’t find much human activity in the swimming pool these days.  But you’ll find Cooper going for a swim several times a day!

cooper steps

cooper swim

cooper shake

 

We’ve got lots of hummingbirds in our yard.  We keep two feeders full all year long.  We were able to watch a baby hummingbird take flight just a week ago.  Here is the mom sitting on her nest .  There’s barely enough room for her!

hummer in nest

 

And here is baby’s first flight which landed him on this cable line:

hummer out of nest

 

And here’s just a hint of something I’ll be showing you on Monday.  I’ll be sharing my blocks for the Cozy Afternoon BOM.

flowers and blocks

 

That’s just a tiny glimpse of summer through the lens of my camera. How does it look in your neck of the woods?

If you have children in college, you might find them coming home for the summer.  My youngest daughter comes home today!  Yep, I love having my kids around.  I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

Julie