Friday, May 31, 2013

Tips, Discounts, and Giveaways...oh my!

When I was at Moody Gardens last week I saw a short 4D movie version of the Wizard of Oz. Before I babble on about that, which, by the way, has absolutely nothing to do with today's post, I'm going to babble on about something else, also not related to today's post. Anyway, yea or nay, people, is 4D really just an opportunity for the the theater to spray or mist its patrons?
Back to the Wizard of Oz. One of my favorite lines in all of movie history is Dorothy's declaration to Toto, " Toto, I don't think we're in Kansas anymore." As previously mentioned, this tidbit has nothing to do with today's topic other than the fact that the post title is a takeoff on another line from the movie.
What does today's post have to do with? This:
Stay with me here.
This is a paint chip garland that I found on Pinterest. If you follow me on Pinterest or just browse my Inspirations board, then you'll see this image (I'd love to credit it to somebody, but it doesn't seem to link to the correct page).
Long, semi-interesting story short, this paint chip garland was the inspiration for this:
I made the quilt, then wrote the pattern, which I sell in my store.
Currently, I'm making a couple of blocks from this pattern for a special project/gift I'll feature here this coming Tuesday.
This prompted my scarecrow-like brain to start thinking about tips I could publish here for those who've purchased the pattern in the past as well as those who might in the future. I also wanted to offer a discounted price on the pattern, and give away a couple of copies. Amazing, all this happened and there's nothing but straw between my ears.
So, without further adieu, here are my top 4 tips for making your Pieces of 8 quilt a success:
1. Generous use of Spray Starch.
Because of the shape of the pieces sewn together to make this pattern, there are inevitably going to be some bias edges. Tame their stretchiness by spraying the fabric with starch either before or after cutting.
2. Fold the strips in half to identify mid-point and make piecing them easier and more accurate.
I even make a point of nesting the creases inside each other. This pattern really depends on accuracy, so every little bit helps.
3. Cut template A generously.
Run your rotary cutter along the edge of the template and beyond the flat, short end at the top, so that the triangle created has a point like this one:
4. Audition the placement of the background pieces before sewing, so you can make sure they face the right direction.
If you have made this pattern and have other helpful tips to share, please share them either via email or in the comments section.
And, if you'd like a chance to win one of the two free versions I'm giving away, just click your heels together and leave a comment.
Also, this weekend through the reveal of my special project on Tuesday, I've discounted the price of the pattern by 10%. The price has already been changed in my store, so no need for any discount code or wishing upon a star. 
Have a great weekend, everybody!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Inspiration may be correlated to perspiration

...I say that because I just spent Memorial Day weekend in Houston and Galveston where it is decidedly more humid than I'm used to in Austin. Now, don't get me wrong, I had a terrific time, saw some incredible things, and even photographed a few of those, but it was a wee bit warm.
I'm not sure you all know this, but I spent a fair amount of my childhood in Houston with more than the occasional trip to Galveston, so this is not exactly unfamiliar territory, but this time I went with folks who hadn't really been much to either places. This made for a new experience both for them and me.
As we neared the seawall in Galveston, I told them about my tradition of waving to the waves and, being the good sports that they are, they obliged me with hearty waves as we caught sight of the Gulf of Mexico.This brought back sweet memories for me and, hopefully, started a silly tradition for them. I'm a big believer in pointless, silly traditions.
Our trip included a day at Moody Gardens in Galveston. For those not familiar with this attraction, Moody Gardens is a series of three pyramids. One houses a tropical rainforest, a second an amazing aquarium, and the third is called the Discovery Pyramid which seems to focus on more "science museum" type fare. The gardens also include an IMAX theater and a water park. What more could you ask for?  I'm thinking about moving there permanently.
That last statement is not completely true, but there was definitely loads of beautiful scenes to behold and attempt to capture. I did manage to take some pictures, most of which I can see finding their way in terms of patterning or color combinations into future fabrics or designs.
Maybe they'll inspire you too.

Friday, May 24, 2013

First, second, third...

Confessional moment: I think out loud and a fair amount of my dialogue sounds like this, "First, I'll empty the dishwasher, then I'll put in a load of laundry, and then I'll start patterning that fabric for so-and-so's order." I don't really make written lists, but I make list pronouncements throughout my day. I guess it's how I organize. Maybe it's even one of the habits of highly effective people? I should look that up.
So, without further ado, first, I'm going to announce the winner of the magazine giveaway, then I'd like to respond to a specific comment left for Wednesday's post by one of you fabulous people, and then I actually have a topic for today, complete with lots of images.

The winner is:
  Debbie said...
Wonderful pillows, Malka! I've never had a chance to see this magazine.

Debbie, please email me at with you address and I'll get your magazine to you as fast as my carrier pigeon, Herbie, can carry it.

Also, if you're disappointed that you didn't win this time, don't be. People, I am moving and I have more stuff to giveaway. There will most definitely be another giveaway next week and the week beyond that and.... get the picture?

On to the second item on my to-do list. Wednesday's post touched on the idea of projects that don't reach our expected fruition and it prompted this response:
Sarah said...
I'd love a post about the "failure" project! It happens to all of us and we could commiserate with you. :)
My settings for my blog are such that your comments appear in my inbox and, once I've read them, I move them to a separate folder. This keeps my inbox fairly clear and makes sure that when Nissan sends me my car payment statement, I don't ignore it. I elected to keep Sarah's comment in my inbox, so I could return to it and think about what she said. Interestingly enough, several other folks commented in a similar vein afterwards. I was really struck by this idea, that we, in general, but I, specifically, should share our failures with each other. There's a lot to learn there. I was so struck by it that I decided to finish the "failure", shoot pictures of it, and discuss it here. I'm not quite finished with it and it's not easy to work on something that doesn't feel "right", but I'm determined to showcase it here next week and virtually discuss why it doesn't work, at least for me. Thank you, Sarah, Molli, and Kim for the suggestion.

Oh boy, onto #3. Interestingly enough, the third item on my list also has to do with self-discovery. I have claimed, as recently as just a couple of weeks ago to a roomful of quilters, that the circle is my favorite shape. Truth be told, I claimed that here years ago. I'm fond of saying, " Telly from Sesame Street loves the triangle and I am passionate about circles." So, it was with much dismay as I took pictures of works both in progress and items that I've unearthed in the archeological process that is clearing up before moving, that I discovered I am not a circle person. I am a hexagon person.

Apparently, I  have a lot to learn about myself.
I'll have to add that to the out loud list.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013


I had one of those days yesterday. Not a bad day necessarily, but a day that probably happens to all of us.
I spent a good part of the day working on a project that, for most of the time, I was excited to show you all. I'm newly back to posting here, so regularity is very important as is planning. I find that knowing what, at least generally, I'm going to blog about helps to make it happen.
Anyway, long story short, once finished, I didn't really like what I had made. See, it happens to everyone, even folks who do this professionally and for a living. At that point I had a bit of a dilemma: what would I talk about?
Here too I have some basic parameters. I post about sewing, dyeing, quilting, and such. Periodically I write about inspirations that guide my work and, every once in a rare while, I chat about my life. Primarily though I blog about making stuff. That was my quandary: I didn't think I had any newly made stuff to talk about...until I started going through my images and discovered this:
A while back I was going through some old, unfinished bits and unearthed the centerpiece of what eventually became this little quilt. This wasn't really an unfinished object as I only had the dyed parts(yes, the center circle is dyed to look that way; it's only partially pieced).
I improvisationally added the border parts, machine quilted it in concentric rings from the center out, curved the edges, and bound it in a fun print from Lucie Summers first collection for Moda, Summersville.

 I even posted it to flickr, added it to my shop, sold it and then...forgot about it. And, lest you think this happened months ago, according to my computer, these images were added in the last 30 days, so overlooking them seems all the more silly.
Regardless, I'm happy to be posting about this quilt for a couple of reasons. First and foremost, it solved the issue of what I would write about and, even more essential, what images would illustrate that post. Secondly, and this is the cherry on top, I have the beginnings of at least two other quilts in this same vein and the ability to make more of these blocks. Seeing this one here on my blog inspires me to finish those up and explore this pattern in terms of dyeing and maybe even as repeat blocks in a larger quilt. It makes me look at it all with fresh eyes. And, I probably wouldn't have done that without yesterday's "failure". So, I guess, it does all work out, doesn't it?

Monday, May 20, 2013

Mini Pieces in Modern Patchwork

Remember these?

Do you want to learn how to make your very own?
Well then, check out the new issue of Modern Patchwork Magazine.
 They're featured there along with complete instructions.
Also, if you're feeling lucky, leave a comment here to win a free issue of Modern patchwork. I have an extra copy and would love to give it away to one of you lovely people.

Friday, May 17, 2013

A Wee Bit of Mini Mania

Ok, two quilts doesn't exactly constitute mania, but I am having a lot of fun making these mini quilts. The one I'm featuring today is just a smaller version of this quilt.
I was sorting through a pile the other day and found 5 of these unused center hexagons.
I love combining dyed pieces into patchwork. There's something that makes me feel strangely clever about making something look like its sewn when it's not. Maybe, I've always secretly wanted to be a magician, but lack the white rabbit. 
Anyway, this mini, like the maxi version, was made using the templates and instructions for the Modern Baby Quilt that I designed for my book.
At 27"x 23" it's not exactly the miniest of minis, but I don't think it's large enough to be called a baby quilt. When I was a little girl I had a doll that was supposed to be as big as I was. She wasn't quite, but she was probably at least 18" tall. She'd like this quilt...if she was human...and I had any idea where she was. 
As I write, this is what I'm looking at. Don't they look good together? 

PS. I wanted to add this link for those of you interested in helping Kathreen Ricketson's children. A fund has been set up for them in Australia. Click here for more information.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Just a Moment

I was going to post about a new project today, but I'm delaying that for a day because of some very sad news I heard this morning.
Many of you are familiar with Kathreen Ricketson. She created and crafted, an amazing site devoted to crafts for young and old as well as being an author of craft books.
I had the pleasure of contributing to whipup as well as designing two mini quilts for Kathreen's first book. She generously promoted my work as well as that of many others and generally embodied a wonderful spirit of curiosity and creativity that is, hopefully, a hallmark of the DIY movement.
I just wanted to take a moment to think about her and how sad this loss is for her family and children and for all of us in the quilting and crafting community.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Good Things Come in Small Packages

That's my standard response when I'm standing next to one of my girls and she condescendingly pats the top of my head to point out how little I am. I don't dispute that I'm small. I'm 5'3" and weigh about 105 pounds, while all three of my girls are at least 5'7" with my eldest being 5'10". But, when the head patting begins I always point out that despite my diminutive size I manage to pack quite a punch.
Just like my wee little quilt here:
It measures just 15 1/2" x 16 1/2" but I think it makes its presence known.
I've been calling it a super-mini quilt.
The print hexagons are made out of the leftovers of the fabrics I designed for my next commercial fabric line, so consider this a super-early, super-wee preview of my newest collection for Moda. I love the way adding the word super to an adjective seems to make it more intense. It's like salting your food except without the risk of heart disease. Super-great, huh?
I've added this little number to my shop, so hopefully someone  else will also enjoy my Hex Super Mini Quilt.
Have a super day!

Monday, May 13, 2013

So... What's New?

Whenever my mother calls or even when I call her, she always starts the conversation by asking, " So (though actually she uses the Yiddish phrase "Nu"), what's new?" That's not particularly unusual. Most folks have some version of that in their interactions with others. What is unique with my mom is that once I've answered the question and detailed all that is new in my life and probably even asked her in return what is new with her, she continues to ask the the same conversation. It's not that she's forgotten because the next time the question appears it's phrased slightly differently. "So, what else is new," she asks. And when my response is, " nothing else is new," she incredulously asks, "Nothing?" It's like a verbal two-step we dance together every time we chat and it's been going on for years. I honestly don't know what I'll do the day I call her up and she doesn't start off with that question.
So, in answer to my mom's much asked question, this is what's new here:
Four (don't let the stack of 3 confuse you) new pillow covers going into my shop.
These two were made a while back to feature my a stitch in color line for Moda. They've been sitting in a closet that I call the "Art Materials Room", but is really just a catchall place for extra projects, fabric, yarn, and such. I'm in the process of moving and hopefully these guys are too.
The second pair of pillows were made during a workshop I was teaching a couple of weeks ago. In the past I've avoided sewing during workshops because I didn't want the students to feel neglected. What I've noticed though is that, not having anything to do while my students are working away leads me to hover a little too much. I tend to become the "helicopter instructor". So, I figured that as long as I'm working on the same project they are, my sewing along with them is actually a good thing and might just help the teaching process.
These two pillow tops were created in an Improvisational Piecing class I taught to the Kingwood Area Quilt Guild and are based on the techniques and design of my "Nate" quilt from my book, Fresh Quilting.
Both pillows feature a mix of hand dyed and commercial cottons and are totally improvisationally pieced. They're also in my store waiting for new homes.
So...that's what's new with me. How about you?