Be My Neighbor Block 6

Whew – What a weekend! I’m thrilled to report that among other things, I got to watch my #4 play college lacrosse and I also sewed LOTS. Most importantly, I got a few more blocks ahead of my Be My Neighbor sew along piecing so I don’t fall behind as I did for my LAME-O Block 4 post, when I literally didn’t get my block done in time for the Monday blueprints release. Ack. Nobody likes to be behind the 8 ball like that.

My block turned out like this:bmn-block-6

Before you ask – I’m not a fan of it. I sort of got stuck for a while on the fact that roofs are historically certain colors or shades of earthy tones and I’m annoyed that I chose the color Wren which frankly I love – just not up against New Russet Orange, also a perfectly happy Grunge shade.  My slightly imperfect diamond shapes are created from Juniper Berry Aqua Blue, which is one of my MOST favorites!

As mentioned, I’m several blocks ahead of this one and can confidently say I’ve gotten over the idea that my roof colors need  to be earthy. I learn, by golly…every day I learn 🙂

This week’s BMN block blueprints are below. If you’re following along – I hope you’ll tag me at Instagram! @serendipitywoods, so I can see how your blocks are coming along!

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Cheers and Happy Monday 🙂

 

 

And Sometimes You’re in the Game with Both Feet…

…running with the wind at your back and the road ahead is straight and long, at least for the moment!

You may remember last week’s post when I shamefully shared that I had just not managed to get my Be My Neighbor sew along block finished in time to for my Monday post, in time to share it along with the Block 4 Blueprints. WELL. Guess who had an extraordinarily productive week last week? Continue reading

And Sometimes you just Miss it, aka Be My Neighbor Block 4 Post and Other Serendipitous Craziness

be-my-neighbor-quiltShall I just cut to the chase here, Dear Blog Followers? It’s Monday at 5:10 PM here in Serendipity Woods and guess who just DID NOT get her Be My Neighbor Block done in time for today’s post? That would be ME…

What I can say is that even though my Block 4 block isn’t finished (Moda’s version is in the upper right corner – the yellow with the red roof), it’s been a productive several days for the shop, about which I’m eager to share – yet I’d rather be quick about getting the Block 4 blueprints into your hands so you can work on yours, while giving myself a little extra time to get my block done so I can then share IT, along with the rest of my Shop news in my next post. The Block 4 Blueprints:

be-my-neighbor-block-4-pdf

Aside from that – I must beg your forgiveness for this lame-o post, and ask for a reprieve until next time to catch you up.  All that said – do feel welcome to tag me in your Block 4 post please! I’d love to see it and perhaps it will inspire me in my block creation!

Cheers,

Pam

A Beautiful (yet insanely busy) Day in My Neighborhood, and Other Sew Along News

I know – it’s Monday.  That means it’s release day for Block 3 for the Moda Be My Neighbor Sew Along, and you know what? I’m ready, kind of; Continue reading

Be My Neighbor Sew Along, Block 2

In general, I’m not a ‘fallish’ kind of gal – but today’s kind of fall, I’ll take! I’m sharing the view outside my studio window this morning (from outside my studio window).  Continue reading

Please Won’t you Be Our Neighbor?

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Welcome to our neighborhood in the making!

It’s a beautiful day in this neighborhood, a beautiful day for a neighbor, would you be mine? Could you be mine?

As some of you may remember, last May marked my very first trip to International Quilt Market.

Continue reading

The Sometimes Perplexing Scant 1/4″ & What’s Thread Got to Do with it?

“Use a scant 1/4.” I’ve read this in multiple patterns and though it’s not necessarily a difficult concept to get my arms around, knowing why – or more importantly when – to use it has always escaped me for some reason, until yesterday.

First, let me show you the current view from my desk at any given time during my day (when I’m not cutting fabric or living life, in general).

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Carina Gardner’s gorgeous Posy Garden on the bottom shelf (from which I’ll be creating my next project, no question!) and the Sweetwater Bella Solids Collection on top which, if you ask me, has got to be one of the most joyful collections of simple solids ever assembled on purpose. I’m in love with these fabrics together beyond words!

Add to this to my growing love affair with Bella Solids in general, I’ve been trying to carve out some time to create a quilt with Moda’s Sampler Shuffle – a series of 30 – 6″ blocks designed by Moda designers – which were released to quilt shops last November at Quilt Market, Houston.  I can’t say I’ve seen them created with Bellas, but as I’ve spent the last week or so staring longingly at the above image, The Sweetwater Bellas became an obvious choice.

So far so good…

Sweetwater Blocks

Blocks 1 and 2 of the Moda Sampler Shuffle set of blocks, in Sweetwater Bella Solids.

All was going well until I made the 4th block, which had an awful lot of pieces (equating to an awful lot of seams)

Lots of Tiny Pieces = Scant 1:4 inch.jpg

Needless to say, I made it once, but decided to remake it. Here’s why:

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The block on the right is Block 1 in the series which does have a fair few pieces, but went together comfortably with a standard 1/4″ seam allowance, finishing up at the correct 6 1/2″ needed.  The center block, however, is my first attempt at Block 4, using a standard 1/4″ seam allowance without thinking much about it. It’s at least 5/8″ too small all the way around. The block on the left is a remake if Block 4, using scant 1/4″ seam allowances.

Meh. 5/8″ isn’t all that big of a deal, right? Actually, it’s not the end of the world, until you’re trying to put a bunch of blocks together that are supposed to be the same size. 5/8″ can be a lot and I don’t know about you, but I don’t really want to have to stretch my seams that much to make them line up comfortably.  This is where the proverbial ‘scant 1/4 inch’ comes into play and why it is sometimes a pretty handy and necessary process for making our blocks the right size.

A scant 1/4″ is really nothing more than this:

Scant 1:4" Jane.jpeg

A scant 1/4″ is merely defined as a slightly smaller than 1/4″ seam allowance than a standard 1/4″ seam allowance. Where it’s useful in particular, is when you’ve a small block with lots of small pieces.

Essentially, it all boils down to just how many seams we’re incorporating into any given block.  Think of it this way – the more seams, the more seam allowances; the more rows, the smaller each block has the propensity to become as we go along, depending on how much attention we pay to seam allowance with each seam we create.

ALSO! In case you wondered – the fineness of the thread we use can make a difference as well.  It’s why when I first tried Aurifil 50wt , I switched to it without even passing Go or collecting $200 (Monopoly never really leaves your psyche once you play it as a kid, ya know? But lest I degress…). Anyway, while you wouldn’t think the density of thread would matter much, I find that it makes my seams less bulky, which can make a sizable different across the span of a quilt, not to mention – a bunny outfit.

Sophie Daytime Nighty Aurifil

According to the bunnies, their clothes fit a whole lot more comfortably when the seams are less bulky.

4 Sampler Shuffle Blocks

As I go along making 30 – 6″ blocks, it matters in the grand scheme that they’re all as close to 6 1/2″ (unfinished) as possible, if I want them to line up fairly comfortably in a finished quilt.

“What did you do with the poor, little too-small block?”

Great question.

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I made it into a little 6″ placemat I can use at my desk for a bowl of soup while I’m working over lunch. It also makes a great little nightstand mat for my cell phone. In all, what I appreciate about Sweetwater fabric collections is how versatile they are.  for the binding of my little mat, I used a fabric from the Cookie Exchange, a current Sweetwater holiday line. My point is, when it’s altogether – it’s festive and Christmassy – but often, when used individually, Sweetwater Christmas fabrics are versatile enough not to scream CHRISTMAS! unless you want them to 🙂

In the end, the question begs: is it really critical to pay so much attention to precision at the tiniest level with respect to seam allowances and thread density? Well, yes and no. It really comes down to two things – the longer we’ve been quilting, I think, the more it begins to matter to us that our work reflects our level of experience. Secondarily, every little seam, whether attentive to exactness of seam allowance or what kind of thread we use, adds up.  For the purpose of this post – I’m just giving you a little food for thought 🙂

I wish you happy sewing my friends,

Pam

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Our Modern Heritage BOM Kickoff!

I feel like it was forever ago that we announced our first ever Block of the Month featuring blocks from Amy Ellis’ newly released Modern Heritage Quilts.

Modern Heritage Quilts Book

I’m happy to announce, first kits shipped on Thursday and I say – let the BOMING begin!

Our first block is a simple Cross block, and we’ll be making 13.

Block 1-10

I love most that we started with this particular block because indeed cross blocks signify to me a community of people coming together for common goals.  In our case – there are 22 of us participating in this project, and it’s really a remarkable gathering of women from almost every corner of the US!

One of the things I most realized as I started these blocks is how many fabrics are, in some capacity, directional. Some of us can throw caution to the wind and not give two hoots whether our prints are going in the same direction. Some of us, on the other hand, are not so lucky and we need a little directional semblance…might I suggest:

Block 1-8

When it matters to you that the directional prints of your Cross blocks all go in the same direction, cut your long strip on either side of the square from which you’re cutting it, and cut the side pieces actually horizontal to the long center strip.

Block 1-7

It also helps to have a portable pressing board that you can take back and forth between your cutting station and your machine/pressing station.

If you’re receiving your BOM kits and haven’t quite made it over to our BOM Group Page, I hope you’ll head on over and introduce yourself – it’s getting to be a pretty lively gathering for Q & A and just some great quilting chatter!

Cheers and Happy Cross Block Making,

Pam

Ciao Bella!

Lest I drift dreamily into the 80s movie, Breaking Away, about 4 young men (including a very, very young Dennis Quaid with very, very washboard-like abs; go ahead and watch the movie trailer that I linked above just for fun – you’ll see them!) who spend their days mostly trying to avoid going to college. The main character is Dave (played by Dennis Christopher) a soulful guy who’s taught himself Italian and walks around his hometown of Bloomington, Indiana speaking it as though he came over on the boat (leading especially his dad to think his only son is totally off his rocker).  The main premise of the movie is that Dave wrangles his three buddies into a quasi Tour de France bicycle race in their town. The subplot, however, involves Katherine – a beautiful college girl with whom Dave falls immediately in love when he sees her at a college bar. He calls her Katerina and she actually assumes he’s Italian (which he doesn’t exactly argue at the time), obviously there to study in America.

WAIT, you say.  Isn’t this a quilty/sewing/fabric blog?

The short answer is YES.  The long answer is that you’re reading the thoughts of a girl who grew up in the 70s and 80s, who has a slightly roundabout (and often flowery) way of looking at the world.  In other words – if I’m explaining something, I sometimes like you to know the details behind how it sits in my brain. Ask my hub – I always get to my point, and LUCKY YOU – you get to know a little more about ME as we go along.

(Are you rolling your eyes yet?)

Ciao Bella! It’s what Dave said to Katerina when he saw her.  It’s an exclamation that means Hi Beautiful! And it’s what I think of every time I hear the word Bella as it relates to Moda Bella Solids.  Ciao Bella! Hi Beautiful! I can’t help it – it’s a singing sort of feeling!

(See how I got around to my point there? Now how about if I chill as I start my next paragraph so you don’t think I’m totally off MY rocker)

The reality is that Moda Bella Solids have been around for some time and though similar to Kona Solids with respect to the quality they’re known for in the industry, I love Bellas most for the fact that whenever I’ve wanted to pair a Moda printed fabric with a solid, I need only seek out my handy, dandy Bella Color Card to find an exact match.

That’s why I was thrilled when it was recently announced at Spring Quilt Market that Moda would be releasing Bella Designer collections assembled by some of our favorite designers!

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Ciao Bella – Hi Beautiful! New in the Woods: The Fig Tree Bella Bundle

The beauty of these Bella Designer Collections is that each designer assembles the 12 fabrics that most exemplify the palette they tend to draw from when creating their collections.  What’s more, each has also designed projects to go along with their Bella grouping. Above is Joanna Figueroa’s of Fig Tree Quilts, which arrived on our shop last week.  Along with it…

Sherbets Creams Booklet

Fig Tree Quilt’s Sherbets & Creams pattern booklet of 7 patterns, including one being used for a Sherbets & Creams Sew Along at the Fig Tree site.

One of the coolest things is that all the patterns in the booklet not only utilizes Joanna’s fresh, summery Bella Solids, but also a variety of different cream prints to complete the projects.

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Guess what was enormously fun for us to assemble? You guessed it -our very own Happy Scrappy Little Creams Bundle

Now, before I start floating off the ground speaking italian like the aforementioned Dave from that great old (already?) movie – I want to just say that although the Fig Tree bundle is our first Ciao Bella! bundle – it’s certainly not our last.

Next Up…

Sweetwater Booth Quilt Market

The Sweetwater Bellas arriving later this month!

Welcome to the Sweetwater Spring 2016 booth. I mean, how much Sweetwater Heaven can we take in one spot?! Not only are we geeked to the nth degree for the arrival of Treehouse Club (used in the quilt on the far right), but see the mini block quilts on the left wall? Yeah…those are the Sweetwater Bellas, and before you even have to ask – yep. We’ll have the pattern booklet for the minis too!

Did you know that Ciao means both Hello and goodbye, in Italian? If you didn’t, you do now.

Ciao Bella and Happy Sewing,

Pam

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A BOM Update & Why You Need a Sewing Corner

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A tiny upcoming BOM hint.

First – a BOM update in the form of the above photo.  Yes indeed, kits are being assembled and gorgeousness is about to happen, friends!  We’ve still got a little over a month before the July 22nd first ever Serendipity Woods Block of the Month project kickoff and I’m pleased to announce that already – the response has been extraordinary!  Rather than spend too much time reiterating about it (of course if you need a refresher or are newly in-the-know about it and want more info – DO click the link – quicklikeabunny!), I want to inspire some thoughts on sewing spaces and why they matter.

First, let me start by saying I completely GET that for most of us, available space is at a premium, especially in busy homes with children. Often that means sewing machines come out of a closet when needed, only to be tucked back into that closet when we’ve whipped up whatever something we wanted or needed to make.  Sometimes that’s unavoidable and it is what it is; yet its hard to feel inspired to sew when the process of sewing involves SETTING UP all the time.  Ideally, having a space somewhere where all our sewing happiness can live without having to be put away is so great because it allows us to sit down to sew whenever the mood strikes or whenever the free time presents itself (like naptime…oh yes, I remember naptime!).

When my kids were small, my machine was set up in a fairly large space in our basement.  It worked great because for one thing, my sewing space didn’t have to be neat all the time! It was also right off our family room so the kids could be playing nearby and I was close if they needed me.  The other great thing about basement sewing spaces is that often there’s plenty of room to spread out. I took a moment to search ‘Basement sewing room’ (since I just don’t seem to have a photo of mine from the past) and just LOOK what I found:

Miss sews a lot Sewing Space Progress

This space belongs to Miss Sews A Lot and reminds me a fair bit of my (past) basement sewing studio – in a word: SPACIOUS!

Now, while I do miss the spaciousness of my basement sewing studio, I learned a couple of things – first of which is that I honestly don’t technically  need that much space all in one spot (but trust me, I love spare closets!). Not to mention – the biggest drawback to having a basement sewing studio is DINNER; rather, having to drop everything to go upstairs and make it.  I realized what I really wanted to do was to sew some and work some, then sew some and work some more.  I found that with a basement studio, I was less inclined to volley back and forth between the two and more inclined to do one for a long period, then the other. That wasn’t really working for me.

So. Enter a room like this:

Phamplet 1971 Governor's Residence

This isn’t MY formal dining room, nor was it ever (not even in 1965, before I was born, for the record). It’s the formal dining room of the Minnesota Governor’s Residence , just for fun – I picked it so we could all bask in its superfluous, nonsensical (and especially golden) formality.

Formal.  I am not. WE are not. Never have been. But still, for the last few houses, we’ve been graced with a superfluous room – a formal dining room…usually right off the kitchen where clearly I make dinner…or someone (like my handsome Superman) does. Did I mention not technically needing all that much space in one spot?

Fast forward to this afternoon when I took this photo:

Sewing Corner

Yep – you guessed it.  This is a small corner of my dining room, right off our kitchen.  Were it not for the fact that the rest of the room is occupied by bolts (and bolts and bolts) of fabric, I may have more room for my sewing space; but remember – I technically don’t need very much room all in one spot (I could use a little more room for bolts of fabric, however, as evidenced across the hall in Superman’s office. That’s obviously where Bonnie & Camille’s Little Ruby Collection lives).

For sewing – I really just need one corner.  You really just need one corner.

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A foldable TV tray covered with several layers of quilt batting and a layer of Insul Bright with my favorite pretty fabric makes for a great block pressing table.  My iron lives on the little wrought iron shelf/stand too, so it’s handy but not taking up space on the mini ironing table I may want to fold and put out of the way.  See my little basket of fabrics I’m using for one of my active projects? And my scrap bowl, for just especially the scraps I’m using for our BOM project (for reasons I can’t possibly share just this very second)?  All handy and only what I need – not what I don’t. Don’t get me wrong – there are nearby closets for the ‘don’t need right this minute,’ and you’d better believe I use them!

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A portable block pressing board is a must as far as I’m concerned so I can carry my pieces from wherever I’m cutting (in my case, an adjacent table that always has my mat set up, but maybe yours is on your kitchen counter temporarily for the day).  Mine portable pressing board/carrying tray is a Quilter’s Cut & Press by June Taylor that I simply recovered on the one side with my favorite happy fabric. There are a variety of brands out there, but I like this one best because I can hang the handle from my next favorite studio tool…

3m hooks

Never underestimate the value of the almighty 3M Command Hook . I’ve mentioned it in previous posts – I use them everywhere.

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I get it. It may not be practical for you to hang your projects from 3M hooks in your sewing corner, but I love them. What you see are the 3 projects I’m currently working on as well as some clip boards for shop happenings. Even my wire file holder on the wall hangs from 3M hooks. Also, because I can see my WIPs, I’m a whole lot more inspired to spend a few minutes here and there to make progress on them.  It also keeps me thinking twice about starting a new project if I can see the ones that aren’t yet finished. I like to have a few projects going at once, but not too many or my crafty brain gets cluttered.

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Two more magical words: Binder Clips. Another one: Brilliant.

 

Sewing Corner

You’ll obviously see that a good amount of what also occupies this corner is shop stuff – superfluous to your needs as a sewist who just needs a corner of space for sewing.  The printer, the monitor, the patterns on the wall (with more 3M hooks – I’m telling you, they’re genius). The bottom line is that everything is handy and nothing is there that I don’t need to just sit down and sew when I have a free minute or two.  Even my sewing machine…

Charlotte and Jane

…is Jane, my 1956 Featherweight. She’s small, portable, and great for piecing.  I do have other machines and sometimes get them out for various reasons – but I love Jane most because she’s small and usually all I need to sew a nice little seam (or two, or a hundred).

So ‘What’s the update on the Modern Heritage Block of the Month prep,’ you ask? Okay, okay…

Large Cross Block

…one more sneak peek photo of my progress in prepping for our upcoming Modern Heritage Quilts Block of the Month. Of course click on the link if you haven’t yet signed up to join us. It’s going to be incredibly fun!

I’m really excited for us to get started on our Block of the Month project too.  In the meantime though, I wanted you to have a chance to spend a little time thinking about your space and how to make it most inspiring for you to create, JUST when you want to create. I hope you have at least a little sewing corner you can call your own.  I’d love to know more about it, if you feel like sharing.

Until next time – happy sewing 🙂

Pam

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