Quilt Book Recommendations

I love books about sewing and quilting and wanted to share a few of recommendations with you.  There are so many books out there, it’s hard to know which one to get.  This list is by no means complete, but if you are looking for some good basics to include in your library, check out the following books.

For some good beginner quilt books, I recommend the “Quilter’s Academy” series by Harriet Hargrave and Carrie Hargrave.  Right now she has three books in the series (Freshman Year, Sophomore Year, and Junior Year), and the fourth book will be published in May.  These are excellent books and they will take you through the quilting processes step by step. Each book builds on the one before, so if you want to get your Bachelor’s in quilting, these are a necessity.  I wrote a review of the first book in this series – so read that for more information.

Hand-pieced Wall Hanging

If you are interested in making quilts by hand, I recommend “Quiltmaking by Hand” by Jenny Beyer.  This is also an amazing book and takes you through each step of the hand piecing and hand quilting process.  Hand piecing can be fun and relaxing if you aren’t in a huge hurry to finish the project.  I hand pieced this wall hanging a few years ago (still need to hand quilt it though!).  The book has lots of pictures and clearing explains the specific techniques needed for each phase.  Of course, I highly recommend Allie Aller’s Crazy Quilting as well, and posted a review of this last year.

If you like crazy quilts, check out “The Magic of Crazy Quilting” by J. Marsha Michler.  This book includes several techniques for piecing the crazy quilt foundation, information on embroidery stitches, embellishments, and transfers, and several crazy quilting projects.  The book has tons of pictures and a gallery of quilts at the end.  You definitely will get a lot of ideas just looking at the pictures!    She also has a companion book called “Motifs for Crazy Quilting” that includes hundreds of embroidery designs for your crazy quilts.

For a general quilting reference book “The Better Homes and Gardens Complete Guide to Quilting” is a must have.  This includes lots of pictures so the techniques are easy to understand.  This is my go-to book when I have a question about how to do something or just a need a quick reminder.

What books do you recommend?  What books do you have your eye on?

Keep it Thimble!

Barcelona Day 1 – Quilt Shop Tour and Other Sites


Samples in Dona Quilt Shop

I’m back from my trip to…. Barcelona!  Work was the primary reason for going, but I managed to have two whole days of sightseeing.  I walked from one end of the city to the other and had a great time looking at all the beautiful parks, buildings, churches, and quilt shops!  Yes, that’s right, Barcelona is home to at least 12 quilt shops (more if you count stores outside the city center) and my plan was to visit all of them.  This website –  www.cosman.nl – lists quilt shops in Europe and I used this to generate an itinerary.  Since I have so much to tell about my trip, I will split this into two posts – one today and one tomorrow, so be sure to check back!

Mouth-watering Gelato!

First, a brief word about the food, specifically the treats!  I am not a huge foodie, but I do love cakes, candy, and ice cream.  Barcelona does not disappoint, you can find some type of candy store, gelato parlor, or bakery on every corner!  The treats are arranged in eye catching ways and you can’t wake by too many of them without eventually being tempted to stop and indulge.

Bakery Near Hotel
Bakery Near Hotel

This bakery was next to my hotel and I stopped in each evening to pick up a little something to enjoy before going to bed.  Meringue is very popular there and it is usually dipped in chocolate or flavored with some type of fruit.

Delicious Candy!

My first chance at sightseeing was on Friday night.  I was done with my business and had an evening to my self.  I wandered around the Gothic and Las Ramblas districts since they were close to my hotel.  I stumbled upon a chamber orchestra practicing Vivaldi’s Four Season in a beautiful cathedral.  They were giving a proper concert later that night, but the rehearsal was open and it sounded as beautiful as an actual concert.

Concert rehearsal in cathedral

When I walked out of the cathedral, I found myself in the middle of festive processional.  The procession was headed by these large figurines – they are basically large puppets and someone gets inside the base and navigates the figure.  A children’s band plays music and they throw out candy to the spectators! I followed them for a few minutes and then headed back to the hotel for the night.

Festive Procession in Gothic Quarter

Saturday was the day earmarked for the whirlwind quiltshop tour.  Unfortunately, due to jet lag I didn’t start until about 11am, which was a problem since on Saturdays many of these shops close at 2pm!  I did manage to visit a few shops – Nunoya, Fet a Ma, and Lola Botona, but not see as many as I would have liked.

Lola Botona Quilt Shop

I am most disappointed I didn’t get to go inside Dona as this was the largest by far and the display windows (see picture above) were packed with projects and ideas.

Dona Storefront

This picture on BCN Patchwork’s gate is adorable.  Too bad this is the only thing I could see!

BCN Patchwork Storefront

However, from the few shops I visited, it was obvious that things were way out of my price range.  Basically, these shops have the same fabric available in the states – Moda, Robert Kaufman, Batiks, etc. but it is $25 a yard, versus the $10 – $12 a yard!  They also have the same books — but again, these are priced at least double.  There was a very simple pincushion pattern that would sell for $5 here, but cost $20.   The shops had lots of attractive samples and I got a few ideas (you can’t take pictures in the shops so I have to rely on my memory).  So for all my friends who wanted me to get you some fabric while on my trip, I am sorry to say I came back empty handed.  However how about we hit up the local quilt shops and buy it for half price :)?

Baghangers Barcelona - House Purse

I did find one unexpected surprise, a purse shop called “Baghangers Barcelona.”  This was a small shop packed with lots of novelty purse made out of leather.  They had a pumpkin, tomato, Noah’s Ark, porcupine, and tons of other clever purses.

Porcupine and Owl Purses

Since I didn’t buy any fabric, I splurged and purchased a Mushroom House purse.  I couldn’t resist how cute and colorful it was!

Mushroom Purse from Baghangers Barcelona

Well, that’s the end of Day One!  Check back tomorrow for Day Two which features my trip to the Zoo!

Keep it thimble!

Civil War Blocks Update

I still am way behind on my Civil War Tribute quilt, but several blocks for the other quilt I am working on are finished.

Civil War Block
Civil War Block

I am in the middle of packing for a big trip – destination to be revealed in a later blog post (don’t tell anyone mom!) but wanted to make a quick post before I left.  I hope to blog while traveling, as I think I will have some exciting pictures to share with you.

Civil War Block
Civil War Block

In the meantime, here are four new blocks.  I don’t have time to look up the names right now, but I will post them later.  The names are as fan as the blocks!

Civil War Block
Civil War Block

As you can see from the photos, I have a hard time getting my blocks nice and flat.  I swear the iron is on the hottest setting and has lots of steam, but I still end up with puffy blocks.  If anyone has a sure-fire way to get these to lay flatter, please let me know!

Civil War Block
Civil War Block

Keep it Thimble!

 

3 Tips for Making the Most of Your Sewing Time

Joseph's Coat
Joseph's Coat

I am a member of the “Civil Sewing Circle” that meets once a month.  Each month we get patterns and fabrics to make four blocks. The meetings started in August and by now we should have 24 blocks completed (can you see where I am going with this?).

I got behind pretty quickly and by the end of December, I only had SIX blocks completed (as in 25% of the blocks).  I’ve included a pictures of a few of the blocks I made so far.  This quilt is a lot of fun and I look forward to completing it sometime next year.

Rambler
Rambler

However, once the New Year began, I vowed to get caught up and knew I needed to make some changes in how I managed my time.

One thing I’ve started doing is sewing at least 30 minutes a day.  I am surprised at how much I can get done in an hour (even if it is comprised of 10 minute spurts throughout the day).  I keep a small basket with my latest project next to the machine and sew when I can.  This is more efficient if I have everything cut out and ready to go the beforehand.

Flying Geese
Flying Geese

Which brings me to my next tip.  Dedicate a few hours each month to cutting out three projects to work on.  This way, you can store all the cut pieces, instructions, and other notions in a project bag and have it ready for your thirty minutes of daily sewing time.  This is helpful because cutting out the project is oftentimes the task that requires the most room and creates the most mess.  By cutting out multiple projects ahead of time, you can make a single BIG mess once a month, and then more manageable smaller messes the rest of the time.

For things that involve a larger commitment (like sewing 4 civil war blocks a month, or a scrappy house block a day), I use the “timebox” method.  Timeboxing is where you set aside a block of time and do as much work as you can (the time box).  This works great on the weekends when I can set aside 3 – 4 hours at a time to work on projects.  I put this block of time on my schedule and treat it like a meeting (this is the project manager in me coming out).

So far, this has been a success.  What are some tips you have for managing your sewing time?

Keep It Thimble!

Tutorial – Pretty Patchwork Heart Pocket

Looking for a quick gift or a fun home dec idea?  Here’s a set of Pretty Patchwork Heart Pockets that can be sewn together in about an hour.  This tutorial includes directions for making both versions!

Pretty Patchwork Heart Pockets

Make a bunch of these and place in a pretty basket or bowl.  Use clothespins to attach them to ribbon and create a fun garland or window swag!

Pretty Patchwork Heart Pocket - Version 1

You can use scraps for this and make them in a variety of colors – red and white for Valentine’s Day, green and white for St. Patrick’s Day, red/white/blue for Fourth of July, orange and black for Halloween, or red and green for Christmas!

Pretty Patchwork Heart Pocket - Version 2

The back features a small pocket.  Tuck in a gift card or some dried flowers.

Pretty Patchwork Heart Pocket - Back View

From Fabric A cut:

  • Three 4.5″ squares
  • One 5.5″ Square
  • One 3.5″ x 2.5″ rectangle

From Fabric B cut:

  • Three 4.5″ squares
  • One 5.5″ Square
  • One 3.5″ x 2.5″ rectangle
Take one Fabric A 4.5″ square and one Fabric B 4.5″ square.  Pin the squares right sides together and sew a 1/4″ seam on the right and left sides.  Make two sets (Figure 1).
Figure 1 - Sew Side Seams

Cut these units into three rectangles that are 1.5″ x 4.5″.  Make sure you are cutting parallel to the seams you just made (Figure 2).  Do this for both sets.

Figure 2 - Cut Into Strips

Press the seams towards the darkest fabric to create two pieced units (Figure 3).

Figure 3 - Press open

Take the center rectangles and sew them to the appropriate side of the pieced units (Figure 4).  Press the seams to the darks.  You now have two units of alternating fabrics (A-B-A and B-A-B). Make two sets.

Figure 4 - Sew Strips to Create Squares

Take one of each type of square  (A-B-A and B-A-B), make sure stripes are going the same direction, and pin them right sides together.  Sew along the shorter sides with a 1/4″ seam.  Do this for both sets.  Cut each set into three rectangles that are 1.5″ x 4.5″.    You will be cutting perpendicularly to the stripes (Figure 5).  Press the seams.

Figure 5 - Sew Side Seams and Cut Into Strips

Sew the center strip to the appropriate pieced unit to make TWO nine-patch blocks (Figure 6).  Do not sew the other strips to make blocks.  You will now two nine-patch blocks and two sets of partial blocks.

Figure 6 - Sew Two Nine Patch Blocks

To make Version 1, sew the partial blocks onto one nine patch block (Figure 7).

Figure 7 - Create Version 1 Heart

Take make Version 2, sew the 3.5″ x 2.5″ rectangles onto one nine patch block (Figure 8).

Figure 8 - Create Heart Version 2

Set these two heart fronts aside and make the pocket.  Take the remaining two of the 4.5″ squares, and press it on the diagonal right sides OUT (Figure 9).

Figure 9 - Make Pocket

Take one of the 5.5″ squares, place it right side up, and then pin one of the folded triangles on this to make the pocket.  For best results, use contrasting pocket  on the backing fabric (Figure 10).

Figure 10 - Pin Backing to Pocket

Pin one heart front and one heart back right sides together (Figure 11).

Figure 11 - Pin Backing and Heart Right Sides Together

Download Heart Template here.  Trace onto piece of cardboard and cut out template.  In order to create sewing line, place template on pinned hearts and trace around it (Figure 12).  DO NOT CUT.  Sew around the line you just drew – leave a 3″ opening in one side for stuffing.

Figure 12 - Trace Around Heart Template

Cut off excess fabric and leave about 1/4″ seam.  Clip corner, curves, and heart center.  Turn inside out (Figure 13).  Stuff lightly and hand-stitch opening closed.

Figure 13 - Turn Inside Out and Press

Keep it thimble!

Wool Applique Project Notebook

I always have a few wool applique projects in process at any one time.  I usually cut out all the wool pieces, get the embroidery floss, and the put everything in a Ziploc bag so it can be worked on later.  They are great to stitch on in the evening when watching TV or just hanging out.  As you can imagine, there are a few Ziploc bags sitting in my closet!

Sharon of Liberty Rose has a great idea for organizing all these items!  This project notebook features wool applique on the front and inside cover (so you have a place to keep your needles and pins) and it pretty easy to sew together (I plan to post a tutorial about how to cover the notebook sometime before the end of the year).  The notebook contains zippered pouches that are the perfect size for carrying all your project supplies.

Project Notebook

The notebook is standard 3 Ring binder.  I ironed fusible fleece on my stitching fabric so that the cover is more durable (especially since it will be used a lot).   I did some basic applique on the front and and inside cover.

Project Notebook - Inside

I didn’t go too crazy with the embroidery embellishments, since the main purpose is functional, not decorative.  My embroidery time is better spent finishing up the wool crazy block that was started a year ago!  A pocket on the back inside cover can carry larger pattern books that won’t fit in the pouches.

Project Notebook - Back Pocket

Now, when traveling, I just take out a zippered project pouch, throw it in the suitcase, and am good to go.  Talk about Keeping it Thimble!

In other news, look for details in the next week or so on my first published pattern.  In the meantime, here are some sneak peeks:

Pattern Sneak Peek 1
Pattern Sneak Peak 2

Keep it Thimble!

Another Civil War Quilt

I am still working on the Civil War Tribute quilt – but haven’t made much progress on it for the past year or so.  I do want to finish it as it is going to be the bedspread in the master bedroom.

Maple Leaf - still need to applique the stem

However, I have started another Civil War quilt.  I am a member of a group that meets once a month and we call ourselves the “Quarter Seamers”.  Each month we make four 8″ block for a mystery quilt.  So far, we are supposed to have 8 blocks completed (but I only have 5 since I’ve been busy with other projects for the past month).

Grape Basket

The club is led by Miss Debbie Lou Powell who runs Miss Lou’s Quilting Studio in Henderson, NC.  Each month we each bring in four Civil War fat quarters to add to the fabric pot so that we have lots of choices when it comes to making our squares.  It’s so fun to see the color schemes that everyone uses – each block looks so different.

Indian Trails

I plan to get caught up on all my blocks for this quilt by the end of November.  The most time consuming part is actually selecting the fabric and then cutting out each piece (no strip piecing can be used since each block is scrappy and unique).

Colorado Star

Here are the five blocks I’ve completed so far.  Let me know what you think!

Double Four Patch

Keep it Thimble!