Craft Fair and Pattern Display Mini-Tutorial

I officially survived my first craft fair!  Overall, it was a lot of fun, and I learned a ton.  And came home and promptly fell asleep on the couch.  It’s amazing how exhausting standing and smiling can be!

finished booth








In all my internet and pinterest searches of craft fair displays, I found very little about how to display patterns.  So I brainstormed ideas with my friend Elizabeth, and we came up with this simple and effective way to display patterns.  I purchased a portable easel from JoAnn’s with a 40% off coupon, so the display came out to less than $30.

First, I took a foam core board, pack of stick-on hangers, and several patterns to get a sense of the hanger placement.

supplies for pattern board






I set up the patterns on the board, and visually estimated spacing between them.  Then I stuck on the hangers, using the lines on the foam core as a guide for hanging them straight.  After applying the hangers, I waited for the half-hour recommended on the packaging before testing out the new board.







It worked wonderfully!  Best of all, it’s reusable, and I can switch out whatever patterns I want to highlight.

patttern display








And finally, I used this fun tutorial to make a little half-apron for the event.  It was perfect for holding change, a calculator, and a pen.  Yes, I could have bought a plain one.  But it was fun to make, and the coffee fabric was another visual connection to my brand.  The tutorial was pretty simple to follow.  I’ll definitely be using this again!







The best part of this show was the opportunity to talk to people in person about quilting.  I love the online community, and the ability it provides to interact with quilters around the globe.  But it was a real treat to watch people come up to the booth, touch the quilts, and talk about memories they had of family members and quilts.

And now that I’ve been through the craft show process on a small scale, I’m looking forward to vending at local quilt shows. . . and maybe Quilt Market, someday!

Stay tuned for more fun coming soon on the blog.  I can’t wait to show you some progress on the Hexagon and Rail Fence quilt, and next Wednesday is my tour stop on the Quiltmaker’s 100 Blocks Volume 11 Blog Tour!!!!  Happiness :-)







Here’s the magazine cover:  My block  is in under the letter “B” in “Blocks”,  third block down.








Can’t wait to share more with you soon!

Happy Stitching!





A Quilt and a Craft Fair

Is it just me, or does the world always get really crazy in April and May? Months ago, I blithely signed up to help out our church youth group by vending in their craft fair at the end of April, and providing a quilt for their silent auction in June.  Both dates seemed so remote at the time, and suddenly, they’re eminent.

I decided to do a scrap quilt for the auction donation.  I’ve been a fan of Cynthia Brunz’s website, Quilting is More Fun Than Housework, for a long time.  She does the most amazing things with her scrap bins, and makes it look so easy.  I picked her Scrap-a-Palooza Quilt #3, pulled out a bunch of fun brights and a background gray, and started stitching. What did I learn?  Her quilts are so easy, and fun to make!  I had this top done in less than a week while the kids were home over spring break.

Brightly Woven quilt








And it’s going to be hard to part with.  Each of these snippets tells a story.  Most say “hey, this was in your daughter’s quilt”, but that’s what pinks are for, right?







I quilted it with more hook and loop swirls,  in the same variegated thread as my daughter’s quilt.  I worried that the variegated thread contrasted too much on the yellow blocks, but it’s kind of mellowed since, and doesn’t seem as jarring to me now on the finished quilt.

backing fabric







I splurged a bit for the backing, and bought this fun sea turtle print.

This quilt will hang in my booth at the craft fair, both for a pop of color, and to help advertise the upcoming auction.  So, if you’re in the Dallas/Fort Worth area next Sunday, stop by and say “hi!” Here’s a link to the show with more information.

craft fair









I’ll have some handmade stuff available, and sale prices on some of my best patterns.  Vending at a craft show is a completely new venture for me, but I’m looking forward to it.  Next week, I’ll have pictures of the booth mock-up, as well as a cheap but cute way to display patterns.

Happy Stitching!


Pinwheel Jam in Tropical Colors

My oldest daughter has loved the Pinwheel Jam quilt since the first design sketch appeared on my design wall. So once the rush of pattern development ended, I let her pick the colors for a quilt of her own.  I’ve worked on it in spurts since last fall, and it’s finally finished!

Evidently, she loves bright colors as much as her mom does. . .

tropical pinwheel jam








And she is far more adventurous than me.  She picked out a variegated hot pink thread for the top.  I was so apprehensive about it, but it blends pretty well with all the colors.

tropical detail1






She even picked out the quilting designs, asking for pebbling in the big pinwheels, and meandering everywhere else.

tropical detail2






Happy quilt, happy mama, happy daughter.  Life is good!  Although, I’ve now upset the balance of how many quilts each child has, so the other four kiddos are clamoring for new quilts too.

I hope your weekend is full of fun and bright fabric!

Happy Stitching!


The Kountry Karnival Quilt, Finished!

If you follow me on facebook, you’ve probably seen some in-progress pictures of this quilt.  The school my children attend celebrates its 60th anniversary this year.  For the annual fundraising auction, I was asked to make a t-shirt quilt from all the shirts they’ve collected for Kountry Karnival over the years.  Thirty t-shirts, to be exact.  While I was a bit daunted by that many, they actually worked up into a reasonable size quilt that drapes nicely over a queen-sized bed.  Here’s the quilt:







Our school colors are red and white, but only the center t-shirt is red.  So I used red for the borders.  To somewhat corral the crazy of that many different colors, I also included 3″ squares of the border fabric randomly across the quilt. I think the uneven borders saved my sanity on this project.  Being able to attach red bands at the outer edges of the rows prevented me from having to calculate the size of every block and try to accurately make sure each section of the quilt wound up precisely the same size as its neighbors.  If you’ve ever worked with t-shirts, you know they don’t quite behave as well as cotton, and tend to stretch and shrink to the size they want to be.

Here’s the backing, and yes, sadly, it is crooked.  I have no idea how I did that.  All three strips of backing were sewn together straight, and lined up on the floor straight before I basted it.  By the time I realized it, I was past the point of no return (it was mostly quilted), so it’s staying like that.







I free-motion quilted swirls in this one too (big surprise, I know!).  It was a fun and forgiving design to sew.  Although the center of the quilt (where it’s also t-shirt on the back) was a BEAST to sew through.  I think after that, I will avoid any attempt at making a two-sided t-shirt quilt, ever.







And here’s a quick shot of the quilt outside on the school playground before the quilt was on its merry way to auction.









Way fun, but I am soooo glad to have this quilt off my to-do list.  And so grateful for my Artistic to quilt it on.  T-shirts are HEAVY, and I think that would have been hard to deal with on my domestic.  The Artistic has an extension table, which I used for this quilt, and it was a lifesaver. Having the entire quilt always on the table really helped alleviate drag issues.

Now I’m off to bind all the other quilts I’ve managed to finish quilting lately.  (Three, to be exact.  This is crazy.  I’ve never gotten so many quilts quilted this fast before).

Happy Stitching, and may you have a wonderful Easter!!


JQSG- Exploring the Work of Shizuko Kuroha

Welcome to month 14 of the Japanese Quilting Study Group!  You can find all previous posts from this series here.

Several years ago at Quilt Festival, I stopped by the Quilt Mania booth and fell in love with the cover of a book- Indigo and Sarasa.  This was my first experience ever with Japanese quilting, and it’s probably still my absolute favorite quilting book.

Shizuko Kuroha






The quilts are spectacular.  No matter how many times I look through the book, I’m amazed at how she arranges shapes and colors.  (The link above will show you nearly a dozen pages of quilts within the book).  For example, she not only sews with hexagons, she sews with irregular hexagons, so that over the course of a quilt, some hexagons will be perfectly symmetric, and others will have sides skewed, such that the whole quilt seems three-dimensional.  Some of my favorite quilts of hers involve drunkard’s path blocks set to resemble curved pinwheels.  The sashing between the blocks is also pieced, and creates a swirling flowered effect.

After the stunning photographs, my second-favorite aspect of this book is how simply, and eloquently Mrs. Kuroha shares the story of her journey as a quilter.  The publishers did an amazing job of letting her gentle voice shine through the pages.

And finally, this book is a treasure trove of instructions.  She goes in-depth with explanations of hand-piecing, and every single step is illustrated with a clear photograph.  If you’ve ever wondered how to start and end seams, cross seam intersections, or anything else, this book has your answers.

Just last year, Fons and Porter published a book with Mrs. Kuroha called “Log Cabin Restructured”.  It also has a wealth of piecing instructions, a beautiful gallery, and tons of information about sewing log cabins– even log cabin hexagons and curved log cabins.  This book focuses far more on projects than Indigo and Sarasa, and is a bit simpler to follow because it is only written in English (Indigo and Sarasa has both French and English text).

Both books, however, are lavishly illustrated and chock-full of valuable quilting information.  If you’d like more information about Shizuko Kuroha, check out this interview from Quilter’s Newsletter.

Next month for our study group, I’ll have some updated photos of my hexagon and rail fence quilt.  I’m also hoping to attempt a project from Indigo and Sarasa, so I’ll have some progress and impressions to share from that learning experience as well.

Happy Stitching!


Adjusting Tension on the Artistic SD

It is so difficult to tear myself away from the studio and type at the computer instead!  But I love you guys, and want to share more of my new adventures in sit-down longarm quilting!

Last week I *hinted* at some problems I had after the factory bobbin ran out.  To be honest, it was not the machine’s fault.  I got all excited, loaded up some shiny (and slippery!) Glide thread, and tried to wind my first bobbin.  That didn’t work so well.  The bobbin came out rather sloppy. Let’s make a long story short and say I went a little overboard turning tension knobs on my machine to try and fix the problem.  Somewhere along the way, I kinda forgot whether I was supposed to go “righty tighty” or “lefty loosey.”

I started looking up YouTube videos for help.  By the way, if you want to know more about the Artistic sit down and can’t find stuff, look at the Tin Lizzie youtube channel.  Same machine, and lots of good information. While I was on youtube, I came across a Jamie Wallen video, and the lightbulb went off.  The lady I talked to at Quiltcon had mentioned Jamie Wallen!! His video on bobbin tension ROCKS.  If you have tension issues, check it out here.  Once I knew my bobbin was good, my husband and I sat down at the machine to fix the top tension.  Then I did something that gives me heeby-jeebies when my kids do it to my domestic machine– I turned the tension knob TWO FULL TURNS. Yes.  Evidently, that’s how a longarm rolls.  Finally, we got the tension back to awesome, and I have been merrily stitching away ever since.

After watching the Jamie Wallen tension video, I saw that he had a series on swirls, so I watched those too.  Before my swirls looked like this:

old swirls








I love swirling, but the space between always looks weird.  His videos were another “aha!” moment, and now my swirls don’t have the funky spaces between them:

new swirls







This is such a fun design to stitch!!!!  I did a whole baby quilt with it:

practice quilt







You can see the swirls better from the back side:

back of quilt







Over the past week, I’ve made a BUNCH of practice quilt sandwiches. I cut them all the same size, because I wanted to turn them into fabric buckets.  These are working much, much better than the paper tote bags I had been using to store scraps.  When the bucket gets full, I can unfold the top for more space.  And it’s a great visual reminder to start using the scraps from the unfolded buckets.

Scrap bins







So that’s my world at the moment.  I am absolutely thrilled silly with this machine.  It’s sort of like riding your bike without training wheels.  I press the foot pedal and the quilt flies.  I don’t have to worry about shuffling the quilt, or adjusting my hands every couple of moments.  It’s exhilarating.

What’s new with you?  Are you enjoying spring sunshine from your studio, or outside making the most of this welcome change from dreary winter?

Happy Stitching!


Setting up a Janome Artistic SD

My new midarm finally arrived!  Here’s a peek inside the box as I opened it up:

peek in the box






Yep, I bought a Janome Artistic Sit Down machine.  And I can’t wait to tell you all about it, so this post may run a bit longer than usual!!

If you’re buying a machine like this one, may I recommend a few things while you’re waiting for it to arrive?

1- Buy a surge protector.  You void the warranty if you plug this straight into a wall outlet.  Which means I couldn’t even turn mine on when we set it up late at night.  I bought one rated for 2000 Joules, based on a website I found that recommended the rating for Gammill longarms.

2- Make a pile of quilt sandwiches from scrap fabrics so you have lots of opportunities to play around with stitches and tension once you’re set-up.

Speaking of set-up, I wanted to walk you through how we put mine together.  The table is easy and quick to set-up.  The directions are well illustrated with photographs.

Then comes the machine set-up.  Be prepared to spend some time on this.  I was expecting something along the lines of a domestic machine, where you fit it into the table, plug it in and start sewing. This one requires a bit more work, but the manual does a good job of walking you through most of it.

First of all, the manual tells you to install the plastic belt guard over the belts on the far right of the machine.  My belt guard did not fit at first.  Fortunately, my husband and father-in-law were both on hand to assess the situation, and realized that they could move the belt plate over to the left just a little.  Once that was done, the belt cover fit better.

Next, the manual tells you to install the thread holder.  I did that all by myself!  Easy peasy.  Then I went back to the pile of stuff that came in the machine box and found a large plastic rectangle.  The manual didn’t say where it went, but I figured out pretty quickly that it covers the area behind the needle.  If you’ve already installed the thread holder, you have to take that back off to put on the rectangular cover.  Oops.

behind the needle open






protecting behind needle






Here’s a full view of my machine almost all set up.  I still need to install the lamp.  It comes with a long cord that you have to trim and insert into the plug. I want to get some little hooks to keep the cord from dangling into my workspace. In the meantime, my trusty Ott light is working fine.

all set up






The machine comes with a pack of ten needles, and five large M bobbins.  One of those is prewound from the factory, so I used that one for these initial test pieces.

first stitching





Not too bad, huh?  I’ll be posting a follow-up to this about my experiences after the bobbin ran out. Let’s just say I learned a WHOLE lot about how longarm tension is different from a domestic machine.  After a couple of days, I got it all sorted out and I’m now happily stitching along again.

Last but not least, I wanted to share a couple of pictures with you to illustrate the difference in harp space between a domestic and sit down longarm machine.  It drives me a little crazy that all the sit down longarm advertisements show a placemat or tiny quilt sandwich under the needle.  I want to know what a REAL quilt is going to do under that needle.  So here’s a comparison for you.  The quilt is a version of my Pinwheel Jam pattern, measuring about 62 by 72 inches.  I picked a point smack in the center of the quilt, and put it under the needle on both my 6600 (with about 9 inches of harp space), and on the new Artistic (with 18 inches of harp space).

Pinwheel jam on 6600






Pinwheel jam on Artistic






Yep, so far I’m as pleased as punch with this new machine.  Now I’m off to practice on some more little sandwiches.  Soon I’ll be quilting that Pinwheel Jam quilt!

Happy Stitching!



A New Double Wedding Ring Project

So, I’ve finally wrapped up enough UFO’s that I can start on a new project without too much guilt.  Actually, this isn’t a new project.  It’s a double wedding ring quilt for my sister and her husband.  A wedding gift.  This summer, they’ll celebrate their ninth anniversary.  I’m not a little behind on this one, I’m a big behind.

Wedding ring progress






I’m using the Judy Neimeyer wedding star pattern for this.  I know there are a million wedding ring patterns out there, but I like this one.  I’ve already made two DWR’s from this pattern, so it’s comforting to stitch something I know well.  I’d forgotten how fun paper piecing can be.  These arcs are going together quickly.  The progress will slow down a little once I start of piecing the curved sections, but for now, it’s moving right along.

This week my kiddos are off for spring break, so I doubt I’ll make much progress on sewing.  But it will be a fun break for everyone.  Especially if the weather starts acting like spring!

Oh, yes– and Happy Birthday to my sweet, incredibly patient, sister Hillary!!

Happy Stitching!



Hand-Piecing Hexagons

We’ve had a crazy spell of weather here in North Texas.  After assuming winter was nearly over with a lots of 60 degree days, we’ve suddenly been pelted with snow, sleet and all sorts of other weather reasons to close school. Which is my excuse for completely forgetting a Japanese Quilting Study Group post for February.  If you’ll forgive me, here’s the belated JQSG post.  You can read all the other posts in this series by clicking the blog tab above.

I think I’ve mentioned before that I’m hand-piecing the hexagons for my Hexagon and Fence post quilt.  It’s a wonderful slow-stitching process, and I have nearly 70 of the 140 hexagons pieced already.  I have found several tools and resources to be especially helpful.

tools for hand piecing






First up, that weird little ring thread cutter in the middle of the picture.  I impulse bought one from Willow Lane Quilting as soon as I saw that Yoko Saito used one.  I started wearing it on my right-hand (I’m right-handed), and found it awkward and difficult to use.  Several months later, I saw a picture in a book of Yoko Saito wearing it on her left thumb, so I tried that.  Pure genious! Now I can’t sew without it.  Having that tiny trimmer right there means I never have to set down my sewing to cut a thread, never have to wonder where I set my scissors last time. I just sew, trim and keep going.

I am also in love with the Japanese Tulip needles.  They’re very firm, and the piecing needles are long.  That means I can sew an entire hexagon side with one fill of the needle.  These needles are also sturdy.  I sewed five patches on a scout vest before breaking one.

And finally, I purchased Shizuko Kuroha’s book, Log Cabin Restructured, a couple of weeks ago.  While I’m not a huge fan of log cabin blocks, I absolutely love Shizuko’s book, Indigo and Sarasa (that one will get a more in-depth review soon).  But her log cabin book paid for itself on pages 11-13.  She gives absolutely FANTASTIC illustrated instructions on hand-piecing and quilting.  These include a brilliant explanation of how to close up tiny “holes” that sometimes occur at seam intersections when hand-piecing.  It’s easy enough that I’m going to go back over every hexagon flower I’ve already sewn and tidy up any little holes.

So, that’s my toolkit for success with hand-piecing.  It’s a great way to distract myself from looking out window, hoping that maybe today, the snow will melt and my new midarm will arrive!

Do you enjoy hand-piecing?

Happy Stitching!



More on Midarm Quilting Machines

Back in December, I posted about my quest to learn more about midarm, or sit-down longarm quilting machines.  This past weekend, I had the opportunity to learn more about several machines at Quiltcon.

I spoke with the kind folks at the Innova booth for quite a while, and watched a quilter demonstrate some gorgeous free-motion feathers.  Several features of the Innova sit down machine appealed to me.  First and foremost, if you ever decide to go from a mid-arm to a full-fledged longarm, you can take the Innova machine and put it on a frame.  The Innova also has stitch regulation capabilities.  Instead of a little doohickey to attach to your quilt (like on the Pfaff and Handiquilter machines), the sensors on the Innova are built into the machine, right under the needle.  I’m not a fan of stitch regulation of any sort, but this seemed like a very smart way to go if you want regulation. The quilter also pointed out that the Innova has a tall, narrow shaft holding the needle, to give more visibility behind your needle.  For more information and pictures about this machine, check out the Innova website.

Then I had a chance to test drive the Martelli Bella Sedere. This machine had some interesting bells and whistles.  The table is designed such that you have a large cutting surface behind the machine, for a kind of “all-in-one” sewing workstation.  What’s cool about it is that you can raise and lower the entire table with the push of a button, so you can cut (or quilt) sitting or standing. You can even raise only one side of the table, if you wanted to quilt at an angle (think drafting table).  The workstation comes with a huge range of Martelli tools, including their rotary cutter (which I blogged about here). For more information on the machine, check out the Martelli catalog.

I can’t remember either machine’s price exactly, but they were definitely in the $9,000 range.

Finally, I tried out one other midarm machine. . . The saleslady was a hoot and a half.  She showed me all kinds of gorgeous quilting on it, and even pulled out a ruler and did some ruler work in the demonstration.  Then she sat me down at the machine and walked away so I could play around.  It was lovely.  When she came back, I wistfully asked her the price on it.

And just about fell out of my chair when she answered.

Compared to everything else I’ve seen on midarms, it was very reasonable. And the show special price was even better.  Sooo. . . we bought a midarm!  To hear more about it, you’ll just have to check back in a couple of weeks when it arrives :-)  I promise, there will be plenty of unboxing pictures, and a full review of how easy/hard it is to set up.  I’ll even share my first attempts at quilting on it, no matter how embarrassing they are.  Until then, I’ll be rearranging my studio to make room for this lovely.

Happy Stitching!