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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Busy...being happy!! :)


Hi everyone,

yeah...I am almost hesitant to write this, because it sounds like bragging, because you don't want to jinx it, because... oh well, I just want to share and that is it! :)

Yes, this past week I was kinda busy being - HAPPY!!
And I am not bragging, honestly I am not - and I wish you all with my whole heart to be happy as well, always! But you know what - being happy is often a CHOICE. I know, this sounds so very cliche... it's a saying that we all see and hear all the time these days, but it is also so very true. And no, that doesn't mean you should or will be happy ALL the time, definitely not. But it does mean that you need to make an effort to see little beautiful things around you and smile, to enjoy little moments of happiness, to embrace everyday life, your family, friends and to try and do what makes you happy. Again - it all sounds so easy and so common sense, but it is amazing how difficult it is sometimes to focus on that, to LEARN to do it...(well, it took me only about 50 years...ha ha!).
Seriously, it is as we are somehow pre-wired to stress, to see bad things more than good, to take for granted all the good that we have. I wonder why that is....

Anyway - WHY I am so happy?
Well, in my case it's easy - every time I have all my kids (now adults) around me and everyone is good, healthy and happy - I just can't stop smiling.
This past week our daughter and her love were in town and that meant we are all together! Just seeing them all hanging out together, talking, laughing... PURE JOY. I am sure you know what I mean!
When you are a parent, happiness always comes from taking care of your kids, making them happy, doing things for them. But once you are a parent to young adults and they "turn the table" on you - do things to make YOU happy, think what makes YOU happy, do things with YOU in mind...well that is an altogether overwhelming joy and humbling experience!
My kids plotted a complete surprise this past Sunday - a week early (since now we were all together), surprise birthday party for me!! The plot was that young parents needed me that morning "just to watch the baby while they do errands" etc. ... of course I was more than happy to do it!! - and while I was out of the house they decorated, gathered, cooked... And me - I had extra cuddles with my little Juliana!! Can you say - HAPPY, HAPPY, HAPPY?!
Here was my surprise:

This my friends is what I live for. They truly are the beat of my heart.

From left to right are Steve and Jelena (holding her precious little niece!), youngest son Vuk (who just got his first, full-time job, woo-hoo!!), love of my life, my husband of 30 years and then young parents Lauren and Stefan.
We were missing Vuk's lovely girlfriend Leah who couldn't be with us but here is what I got in a text message from her and her lovely pup Beemer:
Isn't Beems the cutest? And such a good boy to sit still!! :)
So yeah - I am the luckiest one alive, I truly am. :)
As if this was not enough and the most special gift - I actually got gifts too! Not to bore you with those (although I am so excited to go for a full hour of organic facial, mani/pedi with my girls etc.), but here are some that are quilt-related:


My lovely, wonderful daughter-in-law, Lauren researched and found these two beautiful picture books, for Juliana and me to have some special reading times... can you see now how fortunate I am? I am speechless from joy and deeply humbled too. I truly am.
Both of these books have a wonderful story, beautiful illustrations and of course QUILTS as main characters - so highly recommended!!

Speaking of quilts...I did have some great quilty fun this past week too!

Our Guild meeting was Thursday - we had Christmas in July demos and I did one of them. Demos are always so much fun! This time I showed how NOT-scary and easy it is to cut and sew some curves while making that Poinsettia block that I blogged about last time. I hope many more quilters give it a chance - start with Quick Curve Ruler and all the fun patterns from Sew Kind of Wonderful sisters, you will LOVE it!

Since then I had some fun quilting one of those:
 Tried for the first time a thick thread - 12wt #Aurifil - wanted to have some heavier "lines" first:

Some adjustments had to be made - large needle (Jeans 100), a bit larger stitch length (4, instead of normal 2.5), just a bit looser tension and some patience and...
I like this!! A very stately thread presence, don't you think? :) I really like this for STRAIGHT lines and some simple design - I don't think I would do thick thread for some elaborate free-motion quilting... But, it is all an experiment! :)
After this, I switched to my favorite, 50wt #Aurifil and kinda boldly went for a significantly darker shade than fabric:

On to try some pebbles. I am so not good at pebbles yet, but it was - just do it! - kinda day! Ha ha!
What do you think?



My reaction?
Well, first photo (very close!) - UGH.
Second photo (a bit further away) - well, not so bad...
Third photo (yet further away!) - oh, this is OK!
HA HA!!

But seriously now - teacher in me says - just keep doing it, practice, practice, practice!! Right? :)
Then for the alternate poinsettia petals I went back to straight line quilting with white 50wt Aurifil and that is where I am now:


What do you think? More quilting in the middle? Straight line or free-motion in the green fabric??
I really like the effect of "echoing" some lines... Or continuing lines from the petals into the background?? Now that is something to try!! IDEAS?? :)

Oh and then yesterday, I took a day off to spend every precious moment with my girl and while she had to still do some work for few hours, I had some fun quilting again! This time it was a fun, little piece I was quilting for a friend who loves to piece and applique but not to machine quilt. Lori did a really beautiful job hand-appliqueing it and I have to say I was a bit nervous...
Looked at it and looked at it and then decided to give that Bunny even more tulips and leaves, few more Easter eggs and some sunshine too! :)
Out comes the palette of beautiful Aurifil colors...


Yeah - I did change thread THAT many times. It was really just a lot of fun!!
Quilted the cute bunny first with chocolate brown:

Than on to the background that was quilted with a beautifully subtle variegated light:

Added some color with yellow, red and green..


And that gorgeous deep purple color was ideal for the border!

All done!!



That was just pure fun!! I hope Lori likes it too.

So lets come back to that thing from the beginning - effort to be happy. I am definitely NOT an expert or anything, but I honestly try to do it as much as I can. Look around you. It's raining in the summer - oh what a bummer...(is that a rhyme?) - reason to be grumpy? NO - just look around you after the rain stops - beautiful raindrop jewels are everywhere!!

Go find them - they will make you smile!! (you only need that smart phone, no fancy cameras or anything...)



If you are up early in the morning, go look at that beautiful morning light and how it dazzles through the morning dew!


Go picking cherries!!

Or...do whatever comes to your mind that makes you smile! If you just try it, give it a chance, I guarantee it will make you happy! Not forever, not all the time maybe - but ANY time or short time is more than NO time, right?
If you go about collecting those little tiny moments of happiness, you will be the richest person in the Universe. I know I am. :)

Wishing you smiles,
Marija

PS - Marley says - SMILE!!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Beating the Monday blues...


Hey there everyone,

how was your weekend?
Hope you got some creative fun tucked in it? :)

I did a bit. It was a rainy one in Buffalo, NY and very often for me, summer rain = sewing time! There is something so appealing to me to sew while its raining outside and windows are open...maybe even a thunder or two... :) Am I just a bit nuts or do you have similar preferences?
Well, Sunday started with a great intention to take both dogs (our big boy Marley and grand puppy Oliver) for a nice morning walk along Ellicott Creek and...after about 1 mile there, sky opened and we got soaked... Oh well, back to the house we go, pups dried and fed, still pouring outside...what is one to do but - SEW!
Not to mention that I actually should be getting ready for the Christmas in July demo at my guild, so - to the shelf with Christmas fabrics I go!

My part will be to demo the use of Quick Curve Ruler by Sew Kind of Wonderful sisters. I blogged about that one in April, HERE and I have been wanting to make their Poinsettia block for a while (it's a free pattern on their blog, find it HERE )

So here are my fabric choices for the first trial - it will be the white poinsettia on this lovely green print that I only had just enough... Really love that one, but it is fabric from at least two years ago, so no chance of getting more. But that's OK - I am sure there is even more beautiful new ones coming along, right? :)

Cutting with QCR ruler is really easy and fun and off to sew I go:


Sewing these gentle curves is so relaxing for me now. I know, I know, you might say it is hard, you haven't done it before, you are scared... but DON'T BE. Just try it and you will see that it is not nearly as intimidating as it might seem.
When using this ruler, the main thing really is to square up blocks exactly how instructions say - that is the key! Once you sew the blocks, they might look to you quite awful... like this:


But that is OK! They will be perfect once squared-up properly! :)

With this block, it was squaring up to 5 1/2" size by placing 5 1/2" mark on the ends of curve seams first:


Once you cut that, the other two sides are done by just squaring it up to 5 1/2":

And you get your perfectly square, 5 1/2" blocks!
Time to play!!
Here are my blocks laid out for the poinsettia look:

Two shades of cream color need to be laid out to mimic two shades of petals - very nice! :)
After sewing the all together, here they are:


I really like this!!
 Love the fact that this is an easy way to cut and sew Half-square Triangles with a curved seam instead of straight one - don't you think?? The design possibilities with this are endless!
This was my practice block. I was so excited that all worked out great and I shared one photo of it on my Facebook page...and, only after looking at that post did I realize that I made a mistake in sewing!!
If you look at the photo above, you will see that my two shades of cream don't quite flow as they should...I switched places for the left block in the first row and the first (left-most) block in the second row....BLEH!!!

Oh well, date with the seam ripper while watching the last minutes of that World Cup final and chatting with hubby...

And all is well now. :)

Oh yes - you saw that right - I did have the block sandwiched and ready for quilting (to make a pillow) before I saw the mistake!! Crazy woman. But since it was small, I un-pinned just the half, frog-stitched the seams (rip-it, rip-it...), re-arranged the blocks, sewed them back in right order. As I said - all is well now.

I already have another color try (this time RED poinsettia!) cut and sewn, but then it was time to actually sleep a bit and be ready for Monday, work...all that, you know.
So stay tuned on the progress of this! :)

In the meantime, early Monday morning and coffee - I sailed the web as usual and found some fun stuff!
Wonderful Sarah of Sew Sweetness made this amazing quilt using Indelible collection and now is having a fun Sew-a-long on her blog  (photo is just a "snip" I made for illustration)


Pattern for this is Tessellation by another amazingly creative designer that I love, Alison Glass.

So guess what - I simply have to do this!! Yup, I do.
How about you? Let me know if you are IN too!!

Pattern purchased, triangle template too (although it is optional, but hey right tools are the best!) and tonight I will beat those Monday blues by playing and pulling fabrics for this!!
Fact is - I just LOVE these colors that Sarah used and I do have some of all those Indelible prints! On the other hand - I have been inspired lately by amazing photos my daughter sends me - she lives practically on the beach now and those colors of ocean, sky and sand are so calling my name... Hmm...TWO quilts?
He..he...MAYBE!! :)

Well, I don't know about you, but I already DID beat the Monday blues!! Feeling inspired and excited to finish those Poinsettias tonight AND play in my stash, YAY!!! (guess hubby is making dinner tonight? LOL)

Hope your weekend was fun and Monday even better!
Have a lovely week ahead,
Marija

PS - once rain stopped, I had to snap some lovely photos in the garden...Those "jewels of raindrops" are just irresistible... :)


Tuesday, July 8, 2014

INDELIBLE Blog Hop party! (tutorial too!)


Hi everyone,

Time to party!! 

Remember all these beauties I blogged about a bit ago? (post is HERE)

The beautiful, first fabric collection by my friend Katarina Roccella for Art Gallery Fabric, called INDELIBLE ( I just love the name too!).
 I love everything about this collection - the fresh colors, the design, the sentiments it evokes for me... :)
So of course I was delighted to first, help Katarina make the quilt for her booth for spring Market, play with some designs (and play, and play....) and now I am so incredibly honored to participate in this Blog Hop with so many amazing, creative people that I love to follow in blogosphere and that inspire me so much!

You can find the complete list of Blog Hop participants on Katarina's blog HERE.


STAMPED is a beautiful quilt designed by Katarina that I just loved making! This is pattern easy enough for beginners, with nice large blocks that can be set into a quilt in so many different ways. And the best news? - you can find the free pattern for it at the Art Gallery Fabric web site!!! 



I really can't decide if I like light or dark color way better in this collection!
Just had to try them both... Made some blocks in dark color way and debated how to lay them out? I love blocks that give you so many layout possibilities!
Two ways here...
Another two here...

Choices, choices!!
Well I really liked the deep gold in the centers and since this is a bed runner, I thought the orientation in the top right photo is the best for that.
 Now on to thread colors and quilting! Of course amazing Aurifil made an indelible collection of colors to go with these beautiful fabric, aren't they just gorgeous?


I am so getting all of those!!
 But at the time I was making this they were not out yet, so I had to go into my existing #Aurifil collection... (oh poor me...LOL!)


Here is how I did - what do you think?

Well that was the easy part, now HOW to quilt this is a whole another story! :) All I can say is - I am still working on that and here is the start:


At first I wasn't sure I liked it... but then I looked at the back and... Not so bad?
What do you think?

I can't wait to finish this! Here is how it will look on the bed:


Back to the sewing machine to finish it!! 

I promise to report back soon once it is done!

But I couldn't stop playing with Indelible just yet!

Remember I showed you some of the designs I made in EQ7 with it at the end of blogpost HERE? Well, I made even more...
Meet Indelible Migration table runner!



This table runner is really fun to make, somewhat improvisational and much easier than it really looks!

So - TUTORIAL ANYONE?

Oh, why not! :)
This table runner finished at 20"x 54" but both length and width are easily changed by either changing the number of Flying Geese blocks or varying the width of side borders.
For this size, you will need:

1. 1/8 of a yard or fat eight of FOUR different Indelible prints for Flying Geese blocks

2. 1/2 yard of print for border (NOTE: with half yard you will have to piece your long border strip and if you prefer not to piece it, you would need a 1 1/2 yard so that you can cut one long strip along the LENGTH of fabric and you would have a lot of fabric left over (and that is never a bad thing, right? :))

3. 1 yard of white (again you would have to piece the long border strip with just 1/2 yard

Cutting chart:

1. From four Indelible prints cut FOUR rectangles from EACH print that are:
6 1/2"x 3 1/2"
4 1/2" x 2 1/2"
3 1/2" x 2"

2. From border print cut THREE 8 1/2" wide strips along the LENGTH of the print (because the direction of the print runs that way), or if you have the whole 1 1/2 yard of the print, cut only ONE 8 1/2" wide strip along the LENGTH of the fabric. NOTE: remove the selvage first from the side of fabric you are cutting. If you wish, you can tear your strips too. 

3. from white cut the following:
- TWO 8 1/2" wide strips (border)
- SIXTEEN 5 1/2" X 3 1/2" rectangles
- SIXTEEN 5 1/2" X 2 1/2" rectangles
- SIXTEEN 5 1/2" X 2" rectangles
(all of these are for Flying Geese blocks)

Now on to the block construction!
Blocks that make this table runner are those fun-to-make 3D, One-seam Flying Geese blocks that I showed you in a tutorial a while ago - all details are HERE - but these ones have a little twist!
Instead of using SQUARES of fabric for the Geese background, we will use rectangles! Here are my rectangles ready to use: 

So the way of making these blocks will be EXACTLY the same as in that tutorial (link above) but instead of using squares to "sandwich" the flying geese rectangle, we will use these white rectangles and we are making THREE different sizes! because of the "extended" rectangles, the three block sizes will be
10 1/2" x 3 1/2"
10 1/2" x 2 1/2"
10 1/2" x 2"

You will need to make 8 blocks in each size.

So here is how the 3D Flying Geese block will look like with these rectangles - it sort of has "extended" sides of the block, and that will be useful once we go to lay out the blocks - it will give you the ability to stagger the blocks a bit, making it look more like geese in flight - see below!


The only difference here is that this time I tried pressing that one seam OPEN, (rather than to one side) - it seems to be less bulky that way?

Of course, me the chain-piecing junkie - I folded all my geese rectangles, lined them all up and here they are being chain-pieced! That way, it only took about 30 minutes to make all these!

And here are the three piles of blocks in three sizes (8 of each).

Now is the time to play with the block layout!
Take your blocks and divide them in two piles, in each you will need FOUR blocks in each size. Start with one pile first: from bottom up, place first 4 large blocks, then 4 medium ones and then 4 small ones. To achieve that flow of geese in flight, after placing the first large FG block, stagger the next one by moving it about 1/2" to the right, the next one another 1/2" to the right and the next one... After placing all 4 large blocks, go with medium ones but now shift them 1/2" back to the LEFT, and then with small ones go back shifting to the right. Here is how that looks:

The reason I have the long ruler on the right side is to make sure that I don't shift too far, so that when I go to even-out the long edges, I might cut into the geese part of the block - you only want to cut into the white background part!
Here are half of my Flying Geese laid out:

I have to say that having that grid on my ironing board did help a lot in controlling my shift, but if you don't have one, just use the ruler?

Once all were laid out as I liked and checked with the ruler for excess shifting, I joined them together, and then repeated this one more time for the next half of the blocks.
Now on to even out the sides:
- once you have your halves take each one separately (just easier because of the length) and place it on the cutting mat. Line up the ruler like below to even out one side:

Make sure that the out-most point of the geese is 1/4" away from the cut:


and just cut!! (yeah, I know a bit nerve-wrecking... ;) )

Repeat on the other side:

And you have your Geese in flight!!

Join two halves together as a mirror image and you have the center part of the table runner done!

Now lets make some wavy, curvy borders!
Yes, I did say CURVY and yes this does involve cutting some gentle curves free-hand and then sewing them (no pins!), but if you didn't try this before - don't panic! It is really not that hard and I will try to walk you through it. If you did any curve piecing before, this will look familiar.

You will need those 8 1/2" wide strips of white and border print now.
 As "final product", you need ONE strip of each, white and print that is 8 1/2" wide and about 54" long. To get that, do the following:
- from white fabric, take those TWO 8 1/2" wide strips you cut and join them together on the SHORT side - you will get one long (~80") strip that you need to cut down to the 54" length. Press the seam open.
- from the PRINT fabric - take those three 8 1/2" wide strips and join them together by the SHORT sides to get one ~54" long strip. Press the seam open.
Here are my two strips:


Now to do the curvy cut:
- place both of those long strips on your cutting board, BOTH RIGHT SIDES UP, ON TOP OF EACH OTHER:

- place them so that you have a maximum length to cut but, unless you have a giant cutting board, you won't be able to lay out the entire strip - but that's OK! Place the strip so that you start cutting from the bottom short side:

- and then, holding your cutter about in the middle of the strip, just start cutting a gentle curve along the length like this:

- now pull both strips towards you, so that you can cut further

-pull apart two sides just so that you can place the blade right where you left off

-and continue cutting till you reach the end

- Once you finished cutting, take the ruler and place it on the TOP short side (where you just finished cutting) and even out the short side. This is a very important step for the piecing to be successful!!


- Now take two fabric strips that are on the left and exchange their place - place fabric that was on the bottom to the top - and you will see how your curve-pieced strip will look like!! Here is one:

-and here is the other:

Now when you take one of these pairs and flip them right sides together, for sewing, this is how it looks - WHAAAT???

But it will be OK! :)
Here is the mantra of curved piecing: Curve edge is nothing but the series of short, STRAIGHT edges!!
So thinking that - take your two strips that are right sides together to the sewing machine, starting from that TOP edge that you evened out with the ruler (important!),  match as much as you can - yes, it will be likely less than an inch!!



and start sewing! Once you come to the point where two edges don't match, stop, put the needle down and match further by slightly shifting the top fabric. Sew. Stop with needle down. Match some more. Sew. And repeat and repeat slowly until your curved seam is done! (few photos above...)
I tried to make a short video of me doing it - by holding my phone with one hand and sewing with another, so it is not so good...but it might help, specially if you are doing this for the very first time? I also tried uploading a video to Blogger but it didn't work well (will work on that some more), so try watching it on my Flickr page. Hope it works!

TIP if you are trying this for the first time: for practicing curved cutting, try it on paper first! Just make curvy cut after curvy cut until you have a good feeling about it. For practicing curved piecing - take two strips of some scrap fabric, make cuts and sew those for practice - you can always use them for a fun little project later?

After sewing the curved seams, pressing seam to one side and with nice steam works really well. Here are my two curvy border strips:

Now these are about 8" wide at this point and I did not want borders so wide. But what I did want is to have more of the print fabric in that border than the white - that is the reason I did these 8" wide - so now I folded the strips few times, placed them on my cutting board and placed my 6 1/2" wide ruler on top:

On the right side (print) I just wanted to straighten the long edge and on the left side (white) I cut away some of the white fabric to get final, 6 1/2" wide border strip. Once these were ready, I attached each border strip to my "geese in flight" center and - VOILA!!



So what do you think - wanna try this?? :) 
I hope this tutorial is clear and of course if you have any questions or if I can help in any way - just let me know!!

Now on to quilting!! Again, back to my stash of Aurifil 50wt and play of color match! Besides the white, here is what I had:



Hmm... that light blue wasn't the right one, so down to this:

Yes?

Well, I started with white first:

And...after playing and playing, here it is:


Some dark gray and some orange in the borders...


Oh and look what happened by the end - empty spool of white!! YEIKS!! I think I need that beautiful large cone.... :)



And this photo is for you, Katarina Roccella - hand-made mug by another Belgrade artist, on the design of another... :) 


I like that these 3D Flying Geese stand of the background - as if they will fly away? :)


Well, I hope you enjoyed this tutorial and my play with this beautiful, inspiring, INDELIBLE fabric collection. I can't wait to see what Katarina designs next!!!

Make sure you hop on to all other blogs to see and be inspired - the whole list is HERE! You can start at Kathleen's blog to see the absolutely amazing quilt she made - just breathtaking!

Big, special THANK YOU goes to Katarina for including me in this amazing Blog Hop - I am so honored to be a part of it!!

Me? - I am off to play some more! Still have some of the beautiful dark colorway Indelible fabric and have to do something.... :) Stay tuned for the update!

Thank you for spending time with me and have a wonderful week ahead!

Marija

#indeliblefabrics #artgalleryfabrics #aurifil #3DFlyingGeese