Tempting Tangerines; TGIFF! The Beast is DONE!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

I ask you:

Is there anything better than a squishy package waiting to be ripped open, just sitting there on your doorstep?

Monthly?

>insert cheesy grin here<

It feels like Christmas once a month when my Around the Color Wheel bundle from Marmalade Fabrics arrive; man, I love my mail lady (and Tammy!)!
YUMMY!! Makes me want an orange popsicle.
image courtesy of Marmalade Fabrics
I'm thinking of pairing them with some pinks with a Kona White background...what do you think? would make a pretty lap quilt...
image courtesy of Little House on the Valley
... man they look fresh together!

Speaking of fresh.

Fresh off the machine, that is. Look! My Beast is done:
GLORY GLORY!!!
I have been working on this quilt for over a year; I had my Gamboge Group mates in the Simply Solids Bee's help with 11 of the blocks.
 STATS:
(25) 21"x21" blocks
(6) Kona solids
105"x105" finished size
Pieced by myself and 11 of my Simply Solids mates
Machine quilted by Melissa @ Sew Shabby
Close-up: "Cool Beans" quilting pattern by Melissa @ Sew Shabby
... I didn't get a chance to photograph the backside today; I'll do that another day and post about it in the future. It's a simple pieced back with some gorgeous Joel Dewberry blocks :)

Today I'm (ecstatically!) linking up to TGIFF, being hosted by Blossom Hearts Quilts today!
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better late than never: Binding Tool review

Last year I bought a Binding Tool, and I promised to write a product review of it once I had used it.

Fast-forward a year.

OOPS!

Anywho. Better late than never.

I am binding inept. First one to admit it. It's one of my least favorite things to do in the whole quilting process, which, I sometimes think, doesn't make any sense because the project is almost over so shouldn't I be happy that I'm at the binding stage?

Not me. tee hee.

So I thought, okay, I'm going to pick up one of these binding tools to try and make my life a bit easier.

TMQs The Binding Tool
 The instructions for using the tool are right on the ruler, permanently printed, which is really handy, since every single time I go to use it I need to be reminded how. Like I said, binding inept.

I have to admit: the tool confused me a bit for the first few times I used it. And it's probably just me, but I had to watch Missouri Star Quilt Co.'s YouTube tutorial every time while I was using it:

After several binding escapades, I finally have the hang of using the tool, and have to say, now I find it relatively simple to use - I still need to read the directions on the tool, but I only need to read them once now. >chuckles<
my Binding Tool in use on my latest quilt project
I'm glad I have it. It's definitely made my life easier, and my bindings look more flawless and less bump-tastic.

If you have one, I'd love to hear what you think about it. Maybe I'm the only blubbering binder out there ;)
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Color fun; block work; pattern play: Work in progress Wednesday!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Happy Wednesday, everyone!

I have a few W.I.P.s to share today.

1. The May write-up for the Sew at Home Mummy "Classic meets Modern" QAL blocks. (if you'd like to join along, the links to the block patterns are in the sidebar). Here's a sneak peak picture for the blocks we'll be making in May....
I'm almost done writing up the tutorial and then I'll be on to writing the post, and then June's block is under way. Exciting! I'm trying to work several months ahead of you all...

2. The pattern write-up, petal patterning, and color palette selection for the test pattern of "Pretty Petals" table runner. Here's the finished runner I made for my mum which the pattern will be inspired by:

...and the color palettes I'm trying to narrow down to "the one":
Option 1:
image courtesy of Ink Bite Designs
Option 2:
image courtesy of Easton Place Designs
Option 3:
image courtesy of Studio Girl

decisions, decisions! Which do you prefer?

I'll start with cutting my templates, fabrics and fusibles this week.... more on this soon.

3. My ombre hexie triangle project. Ongoing. Forever. LOL.
..... I've started appliqueing the triangles to the quilt background (finally!) so you'll be seeing more about this soon!

4. Cleaning up my first Vintage Singer. (EEP!)
I have been scouring eBay for a very long time, looking for the perfect Black Singer to play with restoring. I wanted one that didn't need a lot of work, that parts are readily available for, and that was dirt cheap. Over the last year I've bid on probably 20+ machines and never won (I'm too cheap and then I chicken out at the last minute - eBay is stressful! LOL)

My Chicago Modern Quilt Guild friend Miss Sews It All is in the process of what sounds like a total restore on a 201-2 and she's keeping me in mind for when she's done with it (DOUBLE EEP!! pennies all saved and stashed away for that one! check out her blog, she has an AWESOME collection of vintage beauties.)

Anywho, this 1941 Singer 66-16 came up on eBay with a $20 starting bid and a "local-pickup only" stipulation.

I was the only bidder.

So for $20, I picked up this beauty, attachments and table included:

EEP!! 

It most definitely needs a new belt, light, and wiring, but there is very little rust on the machine, the decals are immaculate, the back cover plate is missing, and it'll need a foot peddle wired (it's got a knee bar which I won't use) but other than that, at first glance, it looks pretty good!

How could I not rescue this beauty and get it back up and running again? Look at the decals on it - they're immaculate!

So although not directly quilty related, it's definitely indirectly related, so therefore, a work in progress I'm adding to my list.

More on this soon.


If you're visiting Sew at Home Mummy and missed entering the draw for a FQB from Mad About Patchwork, click {here} to go to that post and enter!

Linking up with Lee at Freshly Pieced today!
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Beautify your Blog: week 2 - Blog Layouts & Backgrounds

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Hi all and welcome back to the Beautify your Blog series here at Sew at Home Mummy.
Sew at Home Mummy

This week we'll be covering layouts for your Simple templated Blogger Blog.

If you're just coming across this series for the first time today, please see this post for the series disclosure and the first few lessons (which you'll want to watch and complete before starting this).

Okay! Let's get started.

1. Head over to your Blogger.com homepage. Select your test/template blog.
2. Click in the dropdown menu beside your blog's name, click "Layout"

3. Click on the "Template Designer" link at top right.


Blog Layout:
3. Click on "Layout" in the drop left menu; this is what you'll see:
your layout of your blog is of personal preference. I like to have a combination of single and double sidebar columns, so I choose the 3rd body layout diagrammed above. The second layout diagrammed with a single column sidebar is very popular too.

Keep in mind: if you choose to have sidebars on both the left and right side of your blog, you'll drastically limit your post widths - which in some instances can make your blog seem a bit more 'squished' and a little more cluttered, depending on the content of your sidebars. It will also limit how large you can make your photos within your posts (and a nice sized photo is blog eye candy in my opinion).

The 'Footer' layout determines what the very bottom of your blog will look like. This is completely personal a choice.

Once you have a layout you're happy with, click "Apply to Blog" (circled in red)

Blog Margins/Size:
4. Next, click on "Adjust Widths" in the left sidebar, just above "Layout"
     - I suggest you set your "Entire blog" width to between 1100-1200px wide. This will ensure that your blog and headers all display correctly on any screen or browser your readers may use to read your blog. Anything wider and your sidebar and header risk being cut-off (people would need to scroll over to see it all, which is annoying) and anything smaller and your blog will appear really squished.

    - As for the sidebar, I suggest if you're planning on having a 2-column section in your sidebar that you set your sidebar width to 300-350px. If you plan on just keeping your sidebar in a 1-column orientation, you could set it smaller (200-250px is what I would recommend.)

You'll notice that while we're fiddling with these attributes, there's a live version of your blog below the Template Designer, showing you what you're doing as you go along. (NICE!)

Once you have widths you're happy with, click "Apply to Blog" (top right).

Blog Background/Wallpaper:
5. Now. Here's where you can really jazz up your blog by doing very little. We're going to add a background/wallpaper to our test blogs; something that you really love, something that says a little something about you.

But.

I'm going to preface this set of instructions with this: K.I.S.S.
Keep It Simple Sewist

Seriously. Don't go crazy here. And if you'd prefer to just have a solid color background, we'll go over that below. But this info I'm about to cover is for you, too.

The prettiest blogs have a very simple color scheme. Specifically, 2 - 3 colors. No more. Here are some popular blogs in our Quiltosphere:
image courtesy of Fresh Lemons Quilts
Notice: background is a simple linen weave in tan.
blog header is in teal, pink, and yellow. Three colors.
image courtesy of Hyacinth Quilt Designs
Notice: width of blog nice and wide, minimal background. Background is a simple chevron pattern.
blog header is 3 main colors: orange, teal, yellow.

image courtesy of Stitchery Dickory Dock
Red and aqua themed blog.
Again, notice the width of the blog - the background is a bit busier, but not at all overwhelming.
image courtesy of Freshly Pieced
background is solid grey, but she's patterned her header with a teal, yellow and white theme. 3 colors.
SO! Are you picking up what I'm laying down?

Also notice that for these bloggers, the background matches the color scheme of their blog. When you click through to their sites, you think: "oh, that's pretty!" but it's not distracting. It's not a picture, but a really simple pattern.

A background is an accessory. It merely adds to the blog, it doesn't make the blog.

Keeping that in mind. Let's go searching.

Now, if you Google "Background Wallpaper" you'll come up with quite the plethora of royalty free downloadable images.

To spice it up a bit, I Googled "Background Wallpaper Vintage"  and got a lot of pretty choices. Since I always seem to gravitate toward blues, I tried consciously to pick another color, and went with green.

Make sure that when you download your image that you make note of the website you pulled it from so you can give credit to that site on your site.

Uploading the image:
In your "Background" screen of the Template Designer, click the little drop down arrow beside the Background Image box

select Upload Image

(if your file is too big, go to http://pixlr.com/express/ to resize it (we covered Pixlr in the previous tutorials))

You have a few options once the image is uploaded which you can play with in order to place the image where you like it, if the image is smaller tile it, or to have the image scroll with the page.

I:
deselect scroll with page
Tile
Align top left
....for this particular background. But play with it, see what you like. If you hover your mouse over the bottom portion of the window (showing your Test Blog) and roll your page down, you'll be able to see better how the background will look and act on your blog.
Once you're happy with your background, select "Apply to Blog" top right.

Setting a Solid Color Background:
1. Click "Advanced" tab left
2. Click "Backgrounds"
3.
"Outer Background" select a color from the drop down menu to change the outer background
"Main Background" this is where your posts will sit. I recommend keeping your main background white; white competes less with photos, is easier to read text on, etc. And almost all of the most successful quilting bloggers have white main backgrounds.
That said, play with it a bit to see what works. Remember: K.I.S.S.

Once you're happy, click "Apply to Blog".

Giving Credit Where Credit is Due:
If you downloaded an image to upload as a wallpaper, we should give credit to that site.
This will be short, as we covered "Adding a Gadget" last week in one of the video tutorials (this will be the same as adding a blog button to the sidebar).

1. Head over to your Blogger.com homepage. Select your test/template blog.
2. Click in the dropdown menu beside your blog's name, click "Layout"

3. Scroll down to your Footers and select "Add a Gadget"
4. Scroll down through the pop-up window and select "Text"

5. In the pop-up text box, leave the "Title" field blank. In the "Content" box, type:
Image courtesy of {name of website}.

6. Highlight the {website's name} with your mouse; click on the little world icon with the chain link on it. Another pop-up appears - here you'll paste the website address of the site you downloaded the image from.

7. Click OK.

8. Click Save.

9. You're brought back to the Layout page. Click "Apply to Blog".

Okay!

That's it for this week, folks. Here's the "before" and "after" of my test blog for this week's edits:
BEFORE
AFTER
Next week we'll cover how to create a beautiful blog header. Stay tuned!
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Shedding some light on the situation: GORGEOUS task lighting!!

Monday, April 14, 2014

As some of my readers may know already, I quilt in a cold, dark, subterranean basement of a 1880's Victorian. It's not exactly ideal conditions with respect to lighting. I have one little tiny window in my space that sits at ground level; it's a bit of a pain as when we get the notorious Chicago torrential downpours, the window gets extremely muddy and dingy; doesn't exactly help my lighting situation. And I'm sure my neighbors think I'm absolutely nutters as I'm usually outside cleaning said window on my hands and knees every 6 weeks or so.
the Stella Edge light
image courtesy of Stella Lighting

I've been fortunate enough to welcome Stella Lighting as a new sponsor here on Sew at Home Mummy. I am one lucky quilter, ladies and gents. Have you seen their lighting systems at your local quilt shop, trade shows, or online stores?

I have been using their Stella Edge task light to sew with for the last month or so, and I have to say, I'm totally enamored by this light. This, my friends, is technology at its finest.

This particular light clamps to your table beside your sewing machine or crafting space; the arm is bendable/adjustable in any direction. The arm is nice and stiff and sturdy feeling - and during some pretty heavy-duty free-motion and walking-foot escapades the light stayed in place, didn't bounce away (like another, cheaper, stick-on version I have... which I had to duck-tape in place...ya....) The screw-on base is padded to protect your table, and is relatively small and unobtrusive.
 I have the light set up to curve around the backside of my machine for everyday piecing:
 ...and then can adjust it over my shoulder when I'm free motion quilting, binding, appliqueing -  and because it's an LED light, it doesn't heat up and get hot over my shoulder.
The light is controlled by a handy-dandy remote control which conveniently sits on the base by magnetic force.
The remote controls the brightness levels and the mode - you can choose between warm, natural, and cool light.

I only have one, really minor issue with the light, and it's that I have bumped the remote off it's magnetic base a few times and onto the floor. I think though it's because I'm just not used to the light being there perched on my table yet. But like I said - really minor!

I was a bit worried that the LED light would cause my eyes to become more fatigued, but so far so good. As well, the light has multiple dimming settings and you can switch between warm, natural and cool light spectrums - which I really like since when I'm working with lighter fabrics I can turn the light down and to a warmer setting so I get less bounce-back. When I'm sewing at night I boost the lighting up to compensate for the darker room.

I also like the fact that the lamp is bulbless (LED), so won't require me to change anything, and it's energy efficient (every penny counts!)

I'm now saving my pennies to pick up one of these at some point in the future:
the Stella Sky 

This light would be great for dark my pressing corner! Would sit nicely in the corner over top of the ironing board.

Check out your local quilt shop to view a Stella light in person; click {here} to see a list of authorized retailers in your state.

Stella also sells directly from their site; you can see their full product line {here}.

If you have any questions for me about the Stella Edge, please, feel free to ask! You can leave a comment below or email me, and I'll be happy to answer!

A massive thank you to Stella Lighting for sponsoring Sew at Home Mummy, and for brightening up this quilter's creative space!
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My very first BOLT! and! a quick FYI - sale on wholesale, sharing the coupon love.

Friday, April 11, 2014

I recently took the plunge and ordered my very first bolt of Kona Snow from my  local fabric shop :) I had to save many, many of my pennies for a long time, but look at this beauty:


Imagine then, my dismay, when I received a coupon code in my inbox for retail AND wholesale items from said shop of said purchase. BOO!! Now I'm trying to figure out if I have enough Etsy money to splurge and get a bolt of Kona White. Hmm.

Anywho!

I thought I'd share this coupon code with you all, a share the love coupon.

I bought the bolt from Vogue Fabrics online; because I'm local, I headed into the store to pick it up. (Being local is both good and bad...I'm sure you're picking up what I'm laying down ;) )

They have flat-rate shipping on most items (I'm not sure if they flat rate ship their bolts - but it's worth looking in to!), and their prices on Konas are awesome. I think I paid just over $80 with tax for a 15yd bolt of Snow.

Anywho - their coupon is good for another 5% off their retail and wholesale prices:

5WS2

you have to create an account to use the code according to the email.
(for wholesale Konas, on their website:
(Buy the Bolt > Wholesale Fabrics > Wholesale Kona Cottons))

If I'm doing my math correctly, that's about $74 for 15yds - just under $5/yd? Awesome!

Happy sewing, everyone!
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Celebrating Mad About Patchwork's 6th Anniversary with a bundle, tutorial & giveaway!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

I was so happy and honored to have Mad About Patchwork come on as an awesome sponsor of Sew at Home Mummy. Pam, the owner, participated in my Simply Solids Bee last year in one of the Canadian groups. Her online fabric store is awesome - has a fantastic selection of Konas and designer prints (I'm loving the Lotta Jansdotter prints especially!).

Mad About Patchwork is based out of Ontario, Canada; she ships internationally, and if you're local, you can contact her for pickup!

Pam was kind enough to let me curate a bundle celebrating her 6th anniversary at Mad About Patchwork. I decided to use the Pantone 2014 Color Report as inspiration; from that, I decided to go with the springy green "Hemlock" and accent it with "Paloma" (Kona Ash).
Image courtesy of Pantone.com;
my inspiration: "Hemlock" and "Paloma", from the Pantone Fashion Color Report for 2014
I think the bundle looks gorgeously springy all together; and when paired with some Kona White for background, they make a pretty, fresh-looking table runner.

One of my absolute favorite blocks is the Double-Z (or Brown Goose) - this is a modification of that block, with a solid center square instead of HSTs. I rigged up the tutorial so that you could use a charm square-sized center square if you were wanting to make it scrappy.

The table runner is nice and long (69"x9.5") - I did this on purpose as we have a gigantic dining room table and wanted something that would fit appropriately. So the runner has (7) 9" finished blocks in it - reduce the number of blocks accordingly if you prefer a shorter runner.

Or: this block and bundle would make an awesome lap quilt - which, truth be told, is what I'm thinking of doing with the left over fabrics!

 Instructions:
1. Get cutting!
from each print (I used 7 prints):
(6) 3.25" squares
(1) 5" square
from white:
(42) 3.25" squares (to make a runner with 7 blocks; need 6 squares of white/block)
from Ash:
(6) 1.5" x 9.5" strips
Binding:
8 strips from the long side of your FQs (so (8) 2.5" x 22")
(I had to pull from my stash to have enough for the entire binding in Ash - but the binding would have looked *gorgeous* scrappy with a strip each of the teal prints!)
everything cut out! Yippee!
2. create your HSTs (half-square triangles)
draw a diagonal across each of your (42) white squares; tip: instead of drawing the lines, fold the squares in stacks of 3 or 4 on the diagonal and press the line into each square - much faster!
stack one white square on a print square; sew 1/4" seam on either side of the pressed line.
*tip: if using directional prints, for half of the printed squares, rotate them 90 degrees to the white square on top - this will ensure half of your prints face one way, the other half the other way - am I making sense? lol. See block pic below...
repeat for all (42) square sets
cut each square set on the diagonal line you pressed; open HSTs and press (I pressed my seams open)
*using the 45deg angle on your ruler (aligned with the center seam) trim your pressed HSTs to perfect 2.75" squares
3. lay out your blocks!

notice how the herringbone lines are all running in the same direction?
because I separated my 6 squares into 2 stacks of 3.
one stack I rotated 90 degrees to the other.
placed the white pressed squares on top in the same orientation each time.
this created HSTs with 2 different directions in the prints, and allowed me to line up all of the prints correctly with respect to the inner square.
4. start sewing!
attach the top and bottom rows together; attach each set of side HSTs together and then to the center square.
5. connect your blocks together with grey strips...
6. Layer, baste, quilt!
mad about patchwork table runner tutorial
lay it out and enjoy!

mad about patchwork table runner tutorial
I love how the springy greens brightens up my dining room :)

I used a petal decorative stitch in Jade around the edge of the runner 
Want a pretty bundle of this green gorgeousness, "Spring Forecast", for yourself??
"Spring Forecast" FQB at Mad About Patchwork!

Head over to Mad About Patchwork and pick up a springy green bundle...

and make sure to use the Rafflecopter widget below to enter to win a gorgeous bundle! A huge thank you to Pam at Mad About Patchwork for sponsoring this giveaway!!

Happy Anniversary, Mad About Patchwork!
a Rafflecopter giveaway



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