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Quilty Goals and Finishes for January

February is here already, and in my little corner of Texas, it feels more like April.  However, I’m certainly not complaining about sunshine and temperatures in the 70’s! Quite a bit has been happening behind the scenes here at the Caffeinated Quilter, and I wanted to catch you up on January’s adventures, and progress made on my quilty goals.

 

Quilt Finishes!

First, the fun!  January is always a bit quieter with the kids’ schedules, and I get a little time to catch up on projects.  I was super excited to finish this Spin! quilt I started last May.  All it needs now is a label and a ride to its new home.

Second, I finished this year’s kindergarten quilt project for the kids’ school.  Every year, the kindergarten classes bring in special squares of fabric from home. Then they make handprints in class. I get to take the fabric and handprints and turn them into baby quilts.  Our church’s Gabriel Project then delivers the quilts to expectant mommies in tough situations.  I know the babies will love the bright colors, and I hope the moms and dads will feel wrapped in the love and support of our community when they use the quilts.

Finally, I made some long-overdue progress on my sister’s double wedding ring quilt.  I am NEARLY halfway to having all of the blocks made.  Hey, it’s all about the degrees of doneness, right?

 

 

Business Goals Accomplished!

By now, I hope you’ve noticed some new changes to the website.  I’m working hard to really develop consistent branding between the website, my patterns, and upcoming book.  I’m certainly still learning, and would welcome your comments and suggestions for ways to improve the website. Next month, I’m planning to refresh the Japanese Quilting Study Group pages and make them easier to navigate. Then I hope to set up a more user-friendly means of accessing all the fun tutorials I’ve created over the years.  There’s a bunch of them, some even I had forgotten about!

I’m also really stoked about our new facebook group for Janome Artistic Quilter SD users.  If you haven’t yet, please sign up!  Even if you own a different sit-down longarm, I think the group will be beneficial as we all share tips and tricks to make using these machines simpler and more fun.

 

What’s on Tap for February?

If you’re following along with the 2017 UFO Challenge from All People Quilt, the number for February is 8.  I admit, I groaned at that one.  My #8 is quite literally the oldest UFO on my list.  I inherited this quilt top from grandmother. She started making it in the early ’80s for my aunt.  It’s all hand applique, and way out of my usual comfort zone.  However, I know both my aunt and I will be tickled pink to see this quilt complete.  This is the year, and I am determined to complete this quilty goal!

Along with my UFO progress in February, I will start sharing some sneak peeks of my book, Adventures in Hexagons, coming out in May.  I will also post about a couple of FANTASTIC products from the Daylight company. Finally, I’ll be releasing a new quilt pattern, and a mini-version of the pattern. Here’s a little sneak peek of the mini version:

 

If you haven’t already, please subscribe to the blog, and follow along on social media so you don’t miss out on any of the fun stuff!

What are your quilty goals for February?

Happy Stitching!

Studio Organizing with Purpose

Over New Year’s weekend, I decided to start organizing my studio.  As you can see from the picture below, it was getting a little embarrassing, and the mess was completely killing my creativity.  What started with simply trying to put fabric away turned into a complete studio overhaul. Along the way, I discovered that the more I tried to turn my studio into my “private quilt store”, the better I was able to understand how to put things away in a manner that made sense for me.

before-picture

Organizing Fabric

I started out with seven 56-gallon tubs filled to OVERFLOWING with fabric. I did not sort all of it.  That would have taken me months, and I probably would have gotten discouraged along the way and quit.  To start, I dumped out three bins worth of fabric. One of those bins became my “warm” color bin, the second my “cool” color bin, and the third my “neutrals and prints” bin.  Then, my daughters and I started sorting the piles of dumped out fabric back into the bins.  I gave away some fabric that I knew I would never use.

As we came across large pieces of fabric (more than one yard), we folded it over magazine boards.  I got this idea from So Sew Easy. My husband was going to the comic book store anyway, and he got this pack of 100 boards for about $13.  I think about 50 folded bolts fit into this 56 gallon tub.

folded-fabric-minibolts

For smaller pieces of fabric, we used the folding video tutorials from In Color Order, and made a little display of fabric in a wire bin from the Container Store. Just like with the larger fabric folded bolts, I picked fabrics for the small bin that I wanted to use sooner than later.

small-folded-fabric

Over the years, I have accumulated a precious stash of Alison Glass fabrics, and I wanted to keep these together for an upcoming project.  So I arranged them all in a pretty basket, along with the EPP papers I’ll be using.  This looks much more inviting than the previous pile on the floor!

alison-glass-basket

Finally, I dealt with a bin of fabric for an ongoing baby quilt project. Each year, my kids’ school makes baby quilts for moms in crisis pregnancies. I make two quilts a year, and the kids bring in special fabrics for the quilts. They usually bring in much more than the recommended 8” square. After doing this for 10 years, I have a huge stash of baby quilt fabric.  I keep meaning to go through it and make additional baby quilts, but the magnitude of fabric overwhelms me.

In the spirit of making my own private quilt store, I pulled out my favorite quick-quilt pattern, Yellow Brick Road.  Then my girls and I chose fabrics from the donation bin and made six “quilt kits.” Each ziploc has enough fabric to make a baby quilt from the Yellow Brick Road pattern.  Now, whenever I need an easy, mindless afternoon of sewing, I can pull out one of these bags and make a quilt without having to worry about choosing and measuring fabrics.

homemade-quilt-kits

 

Now, my fabrics are “organized enough” to motivate me to start sewing.  And all of the bins close without sitting on them!  Once I go through some of the “featured fabrics” shown above, I’ll go back to the bins and fold and sort more to feature. I love how manageable this system feels, and how inspired I am everytime I see the pretty fabrics on my new shelves.

Organizing Projects

Confession: I have enough UFO’s to complete TWO APQ resolution pages. Yes, 24 UFO’s. That has to change, and I am bound and determined to whittle that list down this year. Again, I have to “see” what I’m working on to stay motivated.  So I made a couple of mini-design boards by pinning batting to artist canvases.  I also use leftover lids from broken plastic bins to store projects I’m working on.

project-boards

During the overhaul, my husband got me a set of sturdy wire shelves to store fabric. Now I can just pull out the bin I need (instead of unstacking boxes all the time). Even better, the shelves have just enough room to slide a project board on top of each box, so I can keep my UFO’s in sight, but not too cluttered.

Organizing Notions

Last but not least, I FINALLY found a way to organize my most-used rulers. These are usually out on my sewing counter, or propped up on the floor near my sewing counter.  Which means I’m always losing them, tripping over them, or worse, cutting my toes along the edges of them. (true story). I bought some inexpensive coffee cup hooks at World Market, and hung them from the sides of the new shelves.

hanging-rulers

Now they’re easy to find, and impossible to trip over. I also hung a roll of masking tape on one of the cup hooks, which I guesstimate will save about 20 minutes per quilt.  Everyone in the house uses masking tape, so I can never find it when I’m ready to baste a quilt. Now my roll is hung high enough that the kids will never snag it.

So that’s my studio makeover.  I estimate it cost me about $70 for the shelves, magazine boards, and cup hooks. Here’s how the studio looks now:

after-picture

 

Still far from perfect, but FAR more inviting and accessible than it has been. I love my new private quilt “store”, and spent the entire past weekend in it, sewing with my girls.  Now, to tackle those UFO lists. .  . .

What’s your favorite way to organize your quilting space?

Happy Stitching!

emily

 

Introducing: Adventures in Hexagons

I would like to introduce you to Adventures in Hexagons, my very first published book.

adventuresinhexagonscover

Yesterday I received the spring C&T catalog in the mail. Seeing the book images and marketing text was like holding my dream in my hands. It’s real. And in May 2017, it will be a reality in book stores and quilt stores too.

 

Adventures in HexagonsMy goal with this book was twofold- to help readers learn to sew hexagon in the manner best suited to them, and to help quilters design their own hexagon quilts. So the book essentially has three sections.  The first is devoted to explaining English paper piecing, hand sewing with templates, and machine sewing with templates. The second section includes 11 quilt patterns of varying sizes and skill levels.  Every one of them can be pieced by EPP, or by hand or machine with templates. If you’re an Inklingo fan, I’ve included finished shape sizes with all of the cutting instructions to make navigating the patterns simpler for you.

The final section of the book is a Design Primer. With it, you can take any of the blocks in the book, or your own hexagon block creations, and turn them into unique, fantastic quilts.

Here are a couple more pages from the C&T catalog where they show images of the quilts from the book.catalog-page2

catalog-page3 I can’t wait to share more about the book and the quilts in the coming months. I’ll also host a blog tour next summer, and a special quilt along for an entirely new quilt inspired by the book.

But before all of that, I want to extend a very, very heartfelt thank-you to you, dear readers. Throughout this adventure in hexagons, you have been my support and encouragement.  Your comments on the blog and interactions on social media, and your friendship made this book possible, and I am truly blessed to know you. Thank you.

 

 

Happy Stitching!

emily

 

Three Little Birds QAL- a Finished Pouch!!

Welcome back to the Three Little Birds Quilt-a-Long! I have to confess, I stalled out  on this project. Adding the seam allowances confused me, and so the pieces got pushed aside to a corner of my studio.

The instructions specified cutting the front portions of each piece with a 1/4” seam allowance, and the backing and batting with slightly larger allowances. And the back inside lining piece was enormous compared to the rest of the pouch.

Three Little Birds pouch

Last night, however, I decided to just muddle through and see how it worked.  I figured, if all else fails, all I have wasted is a little time and fabric.  But it did work, and I’m so pleased with the results.

I promise, for next month’s installment of the quilt-a-long, I will have in-progress pictures as I work through a second pouch.  Part of getting over my hang-up with this pouch, though, was just sewing without worrying about setting up a photo shoot for each step.

If you’d like to join in on the Three Little Birds quilt-a-long, you can find the pattern at One World Fabrics.  They also have a gorgeous selection of Japanese homespun fabrics to make your pouch.

After finishing this pouch, I think I have a better understanding of WHY Japanese patterns don’t include seam allowances.  It’s kind of a personal preference, not a set rule.  On this project, I used a slightly larger seam allowance for the lining, because it made it easier for me to bind the inside seams.

What’s your preference– you prefer a pattern that gives exact finished measurements, or templates with seam allowances already included?

Happy Stitching!

emily

Free-Motion Quilting the Louisiana Quilts

If you follow me on Instagram, you know I’ve been working hard to finish the quilts that I blogged about in September for our family members hit by the flooding in Louisiana.I have had so much fun seeing how these quilts look with different free-motion quilting designs.  I wouldn’t say they change the look of the quilts drastically, but they do make a difference.  Here’s a little visual recap, courtesy of my newly-discovered ability to embed IG posts on the blog.  How cool is that?

 

Loving this quilting design- flower power, from a tutorial on @theinboxjaunt . One quilt down, five to go. . . . #freemotionquilting

A photo posted by Emily Breclaw (@thecaffeinatedquilter) on

Flower Power quilting!  Check out this tutorial on the Inbox Jaunt for a step-by-step explanation of how to use this free-motion quilting design.

 Paisley flower free-motion quilting design inspired by a video from Amy’s Free Motion Quilting adventures.

And this one is just a simple hook and loop swirl.  I’m pretty sure I picked up this design from one of Jamie Wallen’s tutorials on youtube.

I had so much fun with the paisley flowers that I used that motif on two quilts.  Now I’m working on binding, and quilting the boys’ quilts.

Hopefully all of these will be finished and off to their new homes by the end of the month. And then I can get back to normal quilting routines, like finishing up a couple of new patterns.

I’ve also been working behind-the-scenes on some exciting new partnerships. Stay tuned in the coming weeks for some big announcements!!

Happy Stitching!

emily

Quilting up a Storm

This past weekend, my 11-year-old daughter and I spent a LOT of quality time in the studio. The recent flooding in Louisiana has hit three families of our extended family hard. While I’m a firm believer in the power of prayer, I really wanted to be DOING something to help as well. And, well, yeah- the natural progression of that thought process is make quilts! (Shocking, I know).

So we started rummaging through our stashes, and pulled out every scrap of cheerful bright pink in the house, to make 4 coordinating girls quilts. We decided to use a fun pattern from Me and My Sister designs called Simply Cakes 1,2,3. My daughter ironed fabric, I cut pieces and pinned, she sewed them together, and soon we had quilt tops all over the place!

We also needed fabric for two boy quilts, but our stash didn’t yield much in the way of good choices there. So we went shopping for superhero fabric.  We’re using the same pattern for these two quilts, but they’re going to look very different!

boy quilt2

Now I’m starting to play with quilting designs.  I was going to keep life simple and snuggly and meander quilt all 6 of these quilts. But I’m a longtime follower of Lori Kennedy’s blog, and it seems like she’s been reading my mind lately.  As I was basting quilts, she was writing a blog post about “meander no more.” To top it off, she then suggested  alternate free motion designs, one perfect for girly quilts, and one suitable for boys. So, I guess I’m going to learn some new designs on these.  Here’s one of the girl quilts with my sketchbook attempt at Lori’s “Flower Power” design.

girl quilt

I foresee quite a bit of quilting in my future, but it’s going to be a great opportunity to practice!  Does your weekend forecast include quilting?

 

 

 

Happy Stitching!

emily

 

Making Place Mats!!

Earlier this summer, we bought a new kitchen table.  It has a lovely solid wood top, and my husband immediately suggested we get some place mats to protect it from the kiddos during mealtime.  I thought it would be far more fun to make place mats, and a great way to use up some batting and scraps in the process.  Turns out, this was pretty economical. .. .place mats sell for more than $12 apiece!!

I found some cute tutorials online, and created a pinterest board with ideas. I decided to start with this tutorial from Alissa Haight Carlton– it’s fantastic!! Here’s how they turned out:

stack of mats

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was a great chance to practice my ruler work.  And my oldest daughter quilted all the horizontal lines on the teal stripe using the walking foot on my domestic machine. I love these-all my favorite colors, and with the scrappiness, each one is a tiny bit different. But they all still work together.  Here’s the table all set:

on the table

 

 

 

 

 

 

It wasn’t long before these needed washing (before I’d finished the set, in fact.  Kids.) We all got a chuckle out of how much they shrank in the wash.  In this picture, the washed one is lined up with the bottom left corner of an unwashed one. Yikes!  Guess they’re all getting tossed in the wash now for consistency’s sake.  I do love the crinkly after-effect, though.

shrinkage

 

 

 

 

 

 

Even though these took longer than expected to make, I am planning on making more sets.  It’s just such a fantastic way to use up batting and create something useful and pretty.  Do you have any favorite place mat tutorials or patterns?  I’d love to know. . . my pinterest board needs more pins!!

 

Happy Stitching!

emily

 

You Gotta Sew When the Spirit Says Sew

I hope your summer is off to a lovely start! As always, when all my kidlets are out of school, my own goals of blogging and sewing get a bit derailed. But I wouldn’t trade the crazy fun time of summer for anything.

I did want to share one quick finish this week.  If you’re a super-observant and loyal TCQ follower, you may recognize this quilt.  I posted about it a couple summers ago (yikes! how has it been that long?!?) when the Downton Abbey Sews issue was released. The pattern is my Legacy design, George variation.

John Paul quilt

Last week, that quilt jumped to the top of my to-do list. I found out that one of the families in our church/school community was going through an ordeal.  Their five-year-old son is in intensive care, battling a heart inflammation.

 

 

close-upI hope that this little prayer quilt will comfort him and bring a little cheer to his family. Many of the patterned fabrics in this quilt are leftovers from our school’s yearly service project, so I love that this quilt is full of fabric chosen by kiddos in the community.

 

Would you keep John Paul and his family in your prayers?  Thank you so much!!

Happy Stitching!

emily

 

May is for Makers Week 2

 

Rest assured, I am keeping up with my purchasing goals for this month, despite the fact that I’m not managing to blog about them on Mondays 🙂  Such is the life of a mom in the last few weeks before school is out for the summer.  This year, my oldest is finishing 8th grade, and I’m amazed at how many events and things have popped up during these weeks, both to finish off his 8th grade year and to get him ready for high school next year.  It’s a whirlwind, but I’m loving this special time to celebrate him.

Last week I blogged about Cynthia Brunz’s wonderful Spin! pattern.  Here’s my first finished block:

Spin block

Eleven more of these are only a couple of logs from finished, AND I’ve cut out the remainder of the strips.  This is definitely an instant gratification quilt, and I’m loving the soothing repetitive sewing.  Kind of hard to believe this is my first log cabin adventure ever! It will not be the last, I suspect.

For this week’s purchase, I bought two of Libs Elliot’s patterns, Rebel and Just Like Heaven.  My husband is an engineer, so I thought he might really enjoy a quilt based on programming code.  I’ve read through the patterns, and REALLY like the way she organized them, making it simple to swap out colors for your own choices, and explaining in the cutting directions which pieces go to which blocks.  Might just have to make the mini-Rebel quilt first for my own studio!

Yesterday my friend Elizabeth and I decided to take the May is for Makers campaign to the streets, and we adventured to a new-to-us quilt store in Mesquite, Texas: Pieced Together.  What a treat!!  Gorgeous fabric, loads of hexie patterns, and delightful ladies in the store.  I will definitely be making the trek back there again soon!

I can’t wait to show you the fabrics I bought there– they’re going into a quilt sample for a new pattern  that I hope to be releasing very soon.  I’ll update you on that one next week. This one will be a modified Kaleidoscope design.  And I’m wondering how most people would prefer to piece.  What’s your two cents- do you prefer foundation paper piecing or sewing with templates? Or should I cover all my bases and include both in the pattern?

Happy Stitching!

emily

Of Doll Clothes and Rag Quilts

Doll dresses and rag quilt

Last Friday, I completed a massive “work” quilting deadline, and even though it’s only the first of many, I rewarded myself with a much-needed break, and spent the weekend only sewing on “personal” projects.  I also tidied up my studio, and it’s amazing how those two things have enabled me to get back to work with a fresh enthusiasm today.

I’ve been wanting to make a rag quilt for years.  I have an overflowing 56 gallon tub of donated fabrics earmarked for baby quilts, and more batting leftovers than I know what to do with, so a rag quilt seemed like an efficient way to use both. My girls quickly realized that the faster we finished the rag quilt, the sooner we could make doll clothes, so they helped with arranging the fabrics and a lot of the piecing.  We finished two quilts in a day!!  I still need to snip seam allowances and wash them, but hey, they’re almost done!

For the doll clothes, I used a tutorial I had pinned months ago.  Probably the hardest part of this pattern was taking her internet image of the pattern pieces and sizing it correctly to fit our dolls.  I opened the images in Adobe Illustrator, and scaled them until they filled a page, and they worked fine.  I don’t typically sew much in the way of clothes, so I’m wildly pleased with how well those sweet puffed and cuffed sleeves turned out.

After the first dress, they took less than 2 hours start to finish, so I will absolutely hang on to this pattern as birthday gift needs arise.  These were a lot of fun to make.  My girls have been sewing clothes for their dolls non-stop, so I was feeling more than a little guilty that my doll (blue dress on the left), didn’t have anything but the store-bought dress she came with.  I think she looks pleased with her new outfit, don’t you?

Happy Stitching!