Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Protea Pincushion

No secret- I've got mad love for weird flowers.  The more exotic the better!

When I come upon a species I haven't seen before, I can't help it-  I've got to research it.  I've often got the latest crush on my kitchen counter available for viewing every time I walk by.  I obsess until I've figured out for myself what sets that particular flower apart from all it's other cousins in the flower world.

And so it was with the King Protea.  The first time I saw one in person was at Whole Foods.  (FYI, Whole Foods has an amazing floral section- I often go just to snap pics.  And yes, they know me and think I'm nuts.)

I went in for quinoa, and came out with a King Protea bouquet. Typical.

So according to my research, King Protea are native to South Africa.  My sources say they are the national flower.  I like to imagine that there are fields of King Protea just covering the countryside like the poppies in the Wizard of Oz.  Ok, that's probably an exaggeration, but hey, a girl can dream!

So after much thought, I decided that the King Protea has the following distinguishing features-

  • A velvety, cone shaped center (you could use velvet, minkee fabric, or velour)
  • A couple of layers of delicately shaded, pointy petals (mmmm, I'm thinking ombre fabric…)
  • 6 inches across or larger (go big or go home.)

Fast forward through the mental gymnastics how to make this happen in fabric, and boom, The Protea Pincushion Pattern! :

Made with Kaffe Fassett's Kim fabric in 'red' with periwinkle velvet center.

Actual pattern cover
Made in Kaffe Fassett's 'Kim' fabric in blue with green velvet center.

Made with Kaffe Fassett's 'Mirage Stripe' fabric with turquoise velvet center.

I like to add beads to the inner petal tips.  Little crystal ones look kind of like dew drops, don't you think?

Want to know one of the best things about this new pattern?  You can use my fave new toy- the Accuquilt Go fabric die cutter- to make this Protea come together even faster!!

I first met up with the Accuquilt peeps at the Houston Quilt Market.  Yeah, I'd heard of fabric die cutters, but it wasn't until I tried one myself that I realized the potential with my patterns…
The dies are designed with the quilter in mind.  Lots of different circle sizes, 2 ½'' strips and squares, etc. etc.

The Protea Pincushion particular pattern uses LOTS of circles.  You can definitely make the Protea Pincushion with the circle templates included in the pattern.  But you can't image what a time saver die cutting them is!!

And SO fun.  I swear that crank just invites volunteers.  I have named my Accuquilt cutter 'Tom Sawyer'- all I have to do is set it up, and the kids come running volunteering to cut all the shapes I need!  

The Accuquilt peeps were kind enough to send me the Accuquilt Go to check out.  This is the one I have:

Want your own die cutter?  Want to check out the gazillions of dies available?  Hop on over to Accuquilt.

I love this gadget so much that I will be editing past (and future!) patterns with optional die cut instructions!!

Want your own Protea Pincushion Pattern?  Go here :) 

Happy flower crafting!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Quilting Arts TV Debut!

I want to share about a recent fantastic experience I had - the filming of 3 segments for Quilting Arts TV!!

When my pal Susan Brubaker Knapp was named the new host for Quilting Arts TV, I knew this program was about to get EVEN BETTER.  Susan is such a talented quilt artist, teacher, enthusiast and networker.  And such a beautiful, feeling person inside and out.  What could be better qualifications than this?

So when she called me up a few months ago to invite me to the program, I didn't even think before I said yes.  Sheesh, what an honor!
Susan Brubaker Knapp and I onset for my first project. Note the death grip I have on her shoulder… :)
I began to plan out my projects immediately.  I knew for sure that I had to do at least one flower brooch.  Check- The Buttercup Brooch.  And another kind of small gift project.  Check- The Bubble Flower Scissor Fob.  And lately, I can't get enough of fabric boxes, so had to do one of those too- The Pinwheel Present Pocket.  (My son Liam came up with that name.  We can't get enough alliteration around here, obviously!)

Preparing for a TV craft program is much like doing a project for a book or pattern.  There has to be a visual for each step in the process.  So, after I created a prototype for each project, I made the 'step-out' models (some pattern lingo for y'all.) Each one got photographed, then popped into it's own plastic bag and labeled.

The lead up to the trip was a little nervewracking.  I seemed determined to go looking like a mess.  My hair was in dire shape,  I FORGOT to go to my hair appointment 2 days before I left.  Thankfully, my wonderful hairdresser Lisa felt sorry for me and squeezed me in the next day.  A million thank you-s Lisa!!!  Then I was Spring cleaning- sweeping the pool deck and got a nice icky blister on my left hand between thumb and forefinger.  Glamourous.

I made it to Ohio the night before the shoot.  When I arrived, the car rental guy took one look at me and my Florida driver's license and gave me a free upgrade to a four wheel drive car.  You see, it was scheduled to snow that night.  And snow it did- 4-6 inches the night of March 27th!!  A very nice man at the hotel I stayed at kindly scraped the windshield of my car that morning.  I'm thinking that my Chicago roots are totally non apparent at this point- everyone was so concerned- which is fine with me :)
See my knight in shining armor snow scraper guy in the bottom left corner.  Thank you, kind person!
I arrived at the studio, and Kathleen Mancuso, the studio production assistant, graciously welcomed me and showed me to my area in the green room where I was to assemble each of the steps of the projects on a giant tray.  These people are organized!  Then I got a tour of the beautiful set and got introduced to all that work at K and S Studios.  You've never met such a warm, welcoming, and encouraging group!!
Special thanks to Vivika DeNegre, Kristine Lundblad, and Helen Gregory of Interweave!

Then came hair and makeup.  What a treat!!  I got to find out about all of the  movies and stage productions the makeup artist had worked on and get the behind the scenes scoop on lots of celebrities. (Kathryn Heigl, I love you even more now!)  The makeup artist even camouflaged my icky blister with tattoo makeup. Ah-mazing.  I'm pretty sure no one will even notice on tape.  That stuff is cool.  I'll spare you the before and after photos…

In two of the segments, I had to use a sewing machine.  Fortunately the sponsor for the show and machines is Bernina!  I'm already a Bernina user (and lover!) so this made my little pre show practice session a breeze.

Then it was time for me to do the first segment.  I was a little nervous, but Susan Brubaker was sooo calming and in control.  The producer, Kathie Stull, did a quick evaluation of the project to see which points we should concentrate on and which ones to speed up.  So impressive how she does that!!!!  Wish she could come to my studio and help me write my patterns!!

Before I knew it, we were done filming, and I went back to the green room to chat with the other guests and prepare my next segments.

By the time they were ready to film my last 2 projects, my nerves seemed to have almost left the building!  The taping was so much easier- in fact it was really fun!!  I was sorry when the last one ended!!  Thanks Susan, for making it so easy :)

Second project shot- more relaxed
Last project shot- didn't want to leave!
When taping was over, I was able to relax and chat more with the other guests:

Cheryl Sleboda, a fellow fabric manipulation freak.  She also does really cool stuff with quilts and electricity!  Plus she's also from Chicago.  Love her.
Cheryl Sleboda does she have great hair or what?

Catherine Redford, who won first place in the miniature category at Quilt Con!

Catherine Redford  and her very cool glasses

Susie Krage, who does the coolest things to fabric surfaces.  That day she demonstrated a shibori technique that I am going to be all over.
Susie Krage who has live all over the globe, which inspires her work!

Sue Reno, who drove in with about a thousand pounds of quilts, each one more delicious than the next.  Does the most amazing things with photo sensitive fabric.
Sue Reno who now has me hooked on macro photography with my iPhone
Sara Ann Smith, art quilt maker and instructor, and fellow Mac enthusiast.
Sarah Ann Smith, -she changed my life by explaining how to get my Mac running so much faster!

Carrie Bloomston of 'Such Designs.'  Fabric designer extraordinaire for Windham Fabrics.  One of my samples for my demo was done up in one of her fabrics- a total coincidence since I didn't know she'd be there!   I swear!
Carrie Bloomston - an on camera rock star!

Gayle Schliemann of Bernina who ever so sweetly swiped my  Buttercup Brooch...
This was my very favorite part of the day- it was wonderful to chat with others in the industry at leasure about their crafts, business models, computer tips, etc.  Wish I could have stayed longer that afternoon!

Soon it was time to head for the airport and fly back to Orlando.  But not before Susan suggested a shot in the snow outside the studio!!
It's a very good thing this blog doesn't have temperature and sound settings, or you could hear me yelping through my teeth at the cold in this photo!
Stay tuned for the Quilting Arts schedule.  You should watch the whole season anyways, because I guarantee it's going to be fantastic.  But I will be posting the specific segments when I'll be on with my projects :)

Monday, March 3, 2014

Reliable Velocity Iron

Did you ever buy anything so awesome that you just want to shout it from the rooftops??  As not too many of my friends are crafters, I thought you readers would be the perfect audience…
I love my new Reliable V100 Digital Velocity Iron!!!
(I knew you would be excited for me :)  )

A few months ago, my last iron bit the dust. It was spitting out water like a whale's blowhole, which is not only annoying, it hurts!!  

So I asked my pal Liza Lucy (she is the lady power in the Kaffe Fassett group.  You know how they say behind every successful man is a great woman?  That's her.  Plus she's very successful in her own right.  I digress. ) what kind of iron she recommended, and she told me about the Reliable Velocity.  I wasted no time and got one.

The coolest thing about this iron is that the soleplate and the steam chamber are heated separately. They are different entities- 2 different heating elements.  In regular irons, the water is heated by the soleplate element.  If the soleplate cools down a bit, there goes your steam. If there is a pinhole in the casing, you get spittin'.  Get the picture?

Consistant steamy-steam.  This iron has yet to meet a wrinkle it couldn't conquer.  No kidding.
The soleplate is smooth (not full of divots like lots of regular irons.)  The tip is nice and pointy for opening up seams.

Now, this iron isn't cheap- I'll say that up front.  Think of it as an investment iron for your craft.  

I found that the cheapest way (if you live in the US)  was to order from Bed Bath and Beyond online and use one of those 20% off coupons. With coupon, it came to $111.99, and I got free shipping since the order was over $50.
Worth. Every. Penny.

Now with all this gushing, you would think this is a sponsored post.  Nope!  Reliable doesn't even know I exist!  Just wanted to share a good tip with all y'all.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

A Crush on Aurifil

I have a new crush in my life- Aurifil thread!

The truth is, up until a few months ago, I was a thread ho.'  (If you don't know what a ho' is, go ahead and google it.  Have to keep this blog PG  :)

I used any old thread I could get my hands on.  If it matched my fabric, I'd use it.  I thought those people that bought fancy thread must be bananas and, yes, a little bit snobby.

Well, call me a convert!

See, a few months back, I was doing quilting supply show.  Who had the booth next to mine?  Aurifil.

My booth, Aurifil booth. You get the picture.

A few minutes into the first day of the show, I felt someone looking over my shoulder at the handwork I was doing.  A low purring voice with an Italian accent asked,  "Julie.  Why you are not using my threads yet?"  (I swear on a stack of quilting magazines this has absolutely nothing to do with my crush…)

Long story short, Alex Veronelli, one of the owners of Aurifil, gifted me with these gorgeous sample cards and a boatload of Aurifil Mako 50 weight thread to use on my big project I'm working on (more about that later…)

Instantaneous love.  Here's a few reasons why:

-It's so thin that it sinks into your fabric when you use it for piecing.

-The thin-ness is also awesome when you want your quilting to be unobtrusive- like when you are stitching in the ditch.

-It's so thin that your bobbin lasts for-ever.  I would buy it for that alone.  What a timesaver!!

-It's thin, but its really, really strong.  No breakage like cheap threads-  Hallelujah!

-It's super smooth and lintless.  Less time cleaning your machine, and your sewing machine actually makes less noise when sewing with good quality thread (i.e.: smooth and lintless.)  My machine now practically sniffs in disgust when I try to use another thread!

-The range of colors, including variegated is just yummy.  The Aurifil folks have amazing taste in colors.  Even the invisible colors-  The neutral greys are just the perfect shades.  A no brainer for piecing multicolor patchwork.

My fave?  Medium grey.

Want your own?  Available at your local quilt store!  Or stay tuned for a giveaway here in the future...

Ps, if you are not following Aurifil on Facebook, you are missing out!  These guys are hilarious!  Check out some past posts:

Monday, January 27, 2014

New! Butterfly Placemats Pattern

Wishing for some Spring right about now?  How 'bout bringing some butterflies into your house to as a reminder of nicer weather?

Finished placemats measure 12'' by 24''.

Introducing:  The Butterfly Placemat Pattern!
Now available in the store.

So a lil' bit about these babies-

Butterfly Placemats will make your table look funky and fabulous- even between meals!

Make them scrappy, make them from solids, make them in a gamut to match your decor. 

So easy to make in multiples- wedge template included in the pattern.

Faboo for gifts!  

The Butterfly Placemat Pattern made it's debut at the Houston Quilt Market.  They made for great decorations in our booth!  Check em out:
Before the start of the show- when things got crazy!

Flatty Cats and Momo Flower Brooches keeping the Butterfly Placemats company.

Kaffe, what are you doing photo bombing in my booth!  Just kidding!  I love Kaffe Fassett Collection fabrics, as seen in these butterflies!

Want to make your own Butterfly Placemats?  Pattern now available at!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

My Kind of Town, Chicago is...

Reporting back on the Chicago Quilt Festival!

So to recap, I was so excited to be invited to teach two classes at the Festival (in my hometown of Chicago!)- A Proud Poppy class last Friday, and another on Saturday.

Each class had 25 spots.  We were sold out each day (signup opened early on each day and was first come first served.)  I had made some extra kits, so we had 27 each day.  Dat's a lotta students!! Had to wear a microphone and everything!

We set up the 'front desk ladies' at the entrance to the festival with Poppy Brooches- they helped to advertise- thanks ladies!

Gorgeous 'Front Desk Ladies' at Chicago quilt Festival

My pal Stephen was my helper on Friday- he was a hit with the ladies!

Me and crafty Stephen :)

My mom drove in from Michigan to help on Saturday.  She arrived all dolled up with awesome blue poppy brooches she had crafted for the occasion:

That's my mom on the right!

Lots of preparation involved for classes like that-  I wanted students to be able to leave the one hour class wearing their new Proud Poppy Brooch.  So petals were precut and ironed and needles were pre-threaded.

Pre-threaded needles- a lifesaver!

I made huge visual aids- giant petals made out of scrapbook paper squares- and sewed huge stitches right through them with an embroidery needle.  Students thought this was just hilarious- but it was also pretty effective!  Heard lots of 'aha's when I got those out.

Here are some of the ladies who finished their brooches:

A mother and daughter pair of crafters :)

All in all, two awesome groups of students.  And so friendly!  I miss that about the midwest!

After the classes, we had some time to bum around Chicago.  Ran into my pals Marcia Derse and her hubby Peter and we had some great Thai food at Thai Valley, and went next door to Fruityland to have some awesome Mexican popsicles and 'Mangoladas.'  Mmmmm…..

Marcia and Peter Derse enjoying a Mangolada :)

My pals Todd and Stephen took me to Wolfie's flea market, where I scored lots of treasures like this one:

Vintage red toadstool bank with an adorable elf and butterfly on a spring!!
All in all, a great trip!  Can't wait to do it again!