Tuesday, October 6, 2015

My Author Journey

Patchwork Essentials: The Half-Square Triangle
Happy Tuesday! I am itching to officially introduce you to my book, Patchwork Essentials: The Half-Square Triangle. Before I do that however, I'd like to share a little bit of the backstory on my journey that has led up to this moment.

Patchwork Essentials: The Half-Square Triangle
Mini quilts from my first quilt along, found here.

I had "write a book" on my list of things I'd like to do for a while before I actually took steps towards doing it. I first started to think about writing a book back in late 2011/early 2012. I had just graduated from college and moved with Michael to Wisconsin. Instead of getting a traditional job I decided to try and turn my hobby into a job. It was not an easy time in my life. I was missing home, and had no routine. With Michael in his first semester of graduate school, I was spending all day alone. This gave me a lot of time to work on figuring things out. This included writing my very first sewing pattern, the Lined Drawstring Bag Pattern. I also wrote the second half of my Art of Choosing series during this time. Things were starting to pick up, and I thought that writing a book might be a good venture for me. I actually spoke with an agent about an interested publisher, but a week later I was approached by Art Gallery Fabrics. So, writing a book took a backseat for a while.

Starflower Block
My first try at half-square triangles, a Starflower block, early 2010.

As time went on, I got discouraged about not writing a book sooner. Designing fabric and patterns kept me plenty busy and at times I thought my opportunity had passed. Then last year, I realized that I just needed to make it a priority. I didn't have time to write a book because I wasn't making time. Now the real question was what to write about? For a long time I thought I would write a book about color and choosing fabric. But honestly, I have no expert knowledge on the subject. I minored in Art in college, but most of my know-how is intuitive and pieced together. I feel comfortable discussing it on a basic level, but not in depth enough to fill a whole book. It took some serious consideration, but when I finally landed on writing a book about half-square triangles, it made perfect sense. Half-square triangles were one of the very first quilting techniques I tried. They have always been a favorite of mine, and I have made a lot of projects with them beyond the quilts in my book.

Patchwork Essentials: The Half-Square Triangle
The first quilt I worked on for the book, Opposites Attract.

Once I decided on half-square triangles, everything started to fall into place. I wanted the book to be more than just a collection of half-square triangle quilts, I wanted there to be intention behind each design. Each quilt in the book explores a different way of playing with the basic block form. I'll go more into that in my next post!

Sunset Tiles Quilt
Sunset Tiles, my quilt in Scraps, Inc.

After working with Lucky Spool on Scraps, Inc. and seeing the beautiful books set to be published by them, I knew that's who I wanted to work with. Shortly after Spring Quilt Market in 2014, I pitched my book, and by July I was busy starting on the projects. I completed nearly all of the writing and sewing that Fall and early Winter. Staying focused working on the book and projects almost exclusively was really challenging for me, both mentally and physically. As you may know, I have arthritis (for more on sewing with arthritis see my post here), so all the cutting and trimming definitely took it's toll.

Patchwork Essentials: The Half-Square Triangle
Forever saving the trimmings.

Procrastinating comes naturally to me, so I tried to be as organized as possible throughout the process and set myself monthly and weekly deadlines. I still managed to save a lot of the writing for later, but stayed on track with the sewing. There were definitely times where I felt like I was in over my head, or that I was never going to be done. It was hard not having that "instant gratification" to keep me motivated. My biggest motivator ended up being a spreadsheet taped to my sewing room door. It had each project broken down by step (fabric selection, cutting, HST making, trimming, etc). So each time I'd finish a step, I could fill in that box, which gave me a sense of accomplishment along the way.

Patchwork Essentials: The Half-Square Triangle
I wore a lot of different hats in the process of writing this book. I was able to have my hand in many of the decisions made about the structure, design, and even take a few of the photographs. While at times that meant extra work on my end, it makes me appreciate the finished product even more. In the end, I'm glad that I waited to write this book. Blogging, contributing to other books, working with magazines, and most importantly writing my self-published patterns has given me invaluable experience. It allowed me time to find my voice.

It still doesn't feel real, even holding the book in my hands. I can now add "Author" to my resume! I'll be back later this week to officially introduce you to my book, YAY! :)

Happy Quilting!

Friday, October 2, 2015


1. P1000540, 2. Polarity Quilt - Colour Version, 3. Twin Size Economy Block Quilt-Better Shot, 4. finished! mod sampler quilt, 5. Christmas Quilt, 6. Diamond Drop - Quilting, 7. The top is done! #schnitzelsndboominiquiltswap, 8. Phoenix, finished, 9. Progress on the kaleidoscope DWR

Every two weeks I go through my favorite photos on Flickr, and choose nine sewing/quilting related projects to showcase here. These photos and projects are not my own, you can find the original images and creators by clicking the coordinating links! If for any reason you do not want your project featured here, please email me and I'll remove it!

Happy Weekend!

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Knitting Catch Up

Exploration Station Shawl in Progress
Happy Wednesday! Things are slowly getting back to normal over here after our trip. Thank you for your well wishes and patience while I was away! As soon as I have photos I'll be sure to share a few! I have a few projects waiting to be photographed, quilts to bind, and lots to share about my book over the next few weeks! In the meantime, I wanted to share two recent knitting finishes!

Above is my newest work in progress, an Exploration Station shawl.

Stitch Block Cowl
For most of the summer my main project was a colorwork cowl. The pattern is called the Stitch Block Cowl and it's free on the Purl Bee Blog. I have had it on my list for a long time, but finally moved it up the queue for the Eat Sleep Knit Yarnathon knit along!

Stitch Block CowlStitch Block CowlStitch Block Cowl
It was such a fun knit! The cowl is worked in three sections, each section adding another color to the mix. I used Madelinetosh Tosh Vintage for all three colors, in Astrid Grey, Button Jar Blue, and Kelp. These colors are a bit outside of my normal purple/gray, but I love the finished product. The turquoise and teal will match my winter coat perfectly! Now it just needs to get cold! For more photos and information see my Ravelry page.

Great Divide Shawl
Next up, is a new shawl that I finished in the car on the way back to Wisconsin! I actually started this shawl on our trip to Ohio for Christmas last year! The pattern is the Great Divide Shawl by Michele Brown. I started this pretty quickly after finishing my Daybreak and was in the mood for more stripes and ended up with a similar color scheme.

Great Divide Shawl Great Divide Shawl
This shawl is knit up in DK weight yarns. The two gray yarns are Madelinetosh DK in Tern and Charcoal. The purple is Tanis Fiber Arts Yellow Label DK in Plum. The Tanis is SO pretty in person, and super duper soft! This was another Eat Sleep Knit Yarnathon project, this time for the Booster Club. I made this shawl quite a bit bigger than the pattern suggests. I have an easier time wearing giant shawls, and this one turned out huge! For more on my modifications and more photos see my Ravelry page.

Happy Knitting!

Friday, September 11, 2015


Happy Friday! I almost didn't make it into this space this week. I was hoping to share my recent garment finishes, but it just didn't quite happen. It's been nearly a month since my last catch-up post, so that seemed appropriate instead! The wedding is getting real close, so my main goal the last week and next week is simply to relax as much as I can. There is still plenty of work to do before we leave for Ohio, but I haven't been putting too many self-imposed deadlines on myself! I'm so happy that Fall is right around the corner. I was so tempted by these multi-colored mums at the grocery store, I've never seen any like that before!

General Housekeeping: My online shop will be closed from September 16th-27th! Here is a list of shops that carry my PDF Patterns: Pink Castle Fabrics, Connecting Threads, Fat Quarter Shop, Pink Chalk Fabrics.

Patchwork Essentials: The Half-Square Triangle
In between all the other exciting things going on this month, my book, Patchwork Essentials: The Half-Square Triangle, is shipping! (!!!) I'm not going to lie, it's been a little overwhelming thinking that it's winging it's way to shops right now! It should be showing up in local shops this week! So, let your shops know you'd like it!

My local shop, The Sewcial Lounge, is running a pre-order special until the 15th! Use code VIP at checkout to receive 15% off and get a signed copy! For locals, this includes an invite to our VIP launch party, woot! (Also, if you are local and are picking up your book in store, your shipping will be refunded!) Order here!

Imprint Arithmetic Quilt Top
I have been doing some sewing! I stitched up a quick quilt top with Katarina Roccella's Imprint collection earlier this month. I used the largest square size in my Arithmetic Quilt Pattern! I love how it's turning out!

Patchwork Pincushion
I also managed to sew a little pincushion too! I used Pure Elements scraps and my pattern from the book Stitch n' Swap. I kind of want to make a bunch more.

Purple Yarn Stash
I have been doing some reorganizing in my sewing room, spurred on by Fall and an awesome deal for storage containers at Target. It's been a couple weeks now, but I got some giant bins for $4! I won't tell you how many I bought, haha! Anyways, when I was putting away my yarn purchases over the last few months I realized they were all purple!

Curiosities Canvas
All the new Art Gallery Canvas prints shipped late last month, including my print from Curiosities! Hawthorne Threads has all the prints in stock, you can find mine here. I made a Zip-Top Tote from Handmade Style with my print earlier this summer (see here), and I have another project to share soon too!

Nectarine and Blueberry Crostata
In July, Michael and I took a cooking class together at the newly opened Sur La Table in Madison. We took a Spectacular Summer Pies class, and made three kinds of pie. Since Michael's favorite dessert is pie, I knew he would be game! We had so much fun, and the pies were delicious. I made one of the pies from class a few weekends ago, a Nectarine Blueberry Crostata. It was messy, but so tasty!

George in Black and White
We have also started shooting black and white film photos again. It had been seven years since I shot a roll of film. Michael bought all the chemicals to develop the film ourselves, so I got to develop my roll earlier this month. I forgot how much work it is, but it was fun to do it again. I of course had to take some photos of George bun. This one is my favorite, he is so perfect for black and white photos!

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Sew Portable Travel Set + Mat Tutorial

Happy Wednesday! This summer I have been trying to tackle works in progress and one of those projects was another Featherweight travel set! Shortly after I released my Sew Portable Travel Set Pattern last year, I started this set made from my Dreamin' Vintage fabrics. My original set is made with prints from Nordika, and is a perfect match for my black Singer Featherweight. For my celery/white Featherweight I wanted to use colors that were a little more summery.

The set features a sturdy tote bag with a hard bottom to carry the machine in. There is room on both the front and back of the machine to carry projects, which also helps protect the machine. The exterior is quilted, with a layer of canvas to add extra structure.

Heavyweight handles are made from cotton webbing and a double layer of quilting cotton. They're sturdy and wide enough so that they don't dig into your shoulder! I quilted the exterior with light blue thread from my Aurifil thread collection.

The second piece in the set is a drawstring bag! This is the everything size, which is also in the Lined Drawstring Bag Pattern. It holds the foot pedal, keeping it from scratching up the machine bed. For my last set I used the same prints for each piece, but for this one I mixed it up a bit, using different prints from the cool colorway.

The last piece in the pattern is the extension table cover. For this particular machine it's not quite as crucial because the table is half size and isn't at risk of hitting the screw on the machine head like most Featherweights. All the same, it still helps to protect it! It's quilted and has the same layers as the tote!

I made an extra piece for my set this time around. A small quilted mat to rest the machine on! It came together super fast! It also makes a nice little cover for the machine inside the bag too! Want to make your own? Here is a quick tutorial:

Finished size: 9.5"x12.5"
Use a 1/4" seam allowance.

(12) 3.5" squares
(1) 16.5"x13.5" backing
(1) 16.5"x13.5" batting
(2) 2.5"x42" strips for binding

Lay squares out in a 4x3 arrangement. Sew squares together in each row. Press seams in one direction, alternating direction every other row. Sew rows together, press seams open. Layer backing, batting, and top. Baste, quilt, bind.

Of course I had to make one to go with my other set too! :)

You can find the Sew Portable Pattern as a PDF and Paper copy in my online shop. You can find my tips and tricks for sewing with a Singer Featherweight here.

Happy Sewing!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Curiosities Knitting Bag

Happy Wednesday! This week I wanted to share with you a recent gifted project! I wanted to make something for my friend Lei, and I remembered that she always brought her knitting over in a reusable shopping bag. I thought she could use a dedicated knitting bag, which would be a little more functional and cuter too!

I pulled out one of my friend Christina's older patterns, Amanda's Knitting Bag. I've had the pattern printed for ages, but never got around to make it. It's named after our mutual friend Amanda, as the pattern sample was a gift for her. This seemed like the perfect bag to make for Lei!

I chose to use a natural linen for the main body of the bag, like Christina's original bag. I chose a couple of prints from Curiosities and a bright zipper to finished it off!

I love all the little details in this bag that make it perfect for a knitter. There are pockets for a pattern, knitting needles, yarn, and all the notions too! The little peeks of the interior fabric are really sweet. And the tiny zipper pocket are great for small notions like scissors and stitch markers!

I saved the Splendiferous Warm print for the main interior of the bag, since it's so bold and colorful! It's a great surprise when you open up the bag!

I filled up the bag with yarn, and some handy knitting notions! There is room for a large project or a few smaller ones. The short handles make it easy to hang the bag on a door handle or travel with! Now I want to make one of these bags for myself!

Happy Sewing and Knitting!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Geometric Bliss Triangularity Quilt

Happy Wednesday! I have a quilt finish to share today, WOO! Last month I finally got around to stitching up one of my nearly a year in the making Triangularity quilt. I cut this quilt out almost immediately after receiving my Geometric Bliss yardage last October. The triangles sat for a long time, and I worked on it a little at a time throughout this year. I let it sit so long, that by the time I was putting the rows together I had forgotten that I cut enough triangles for a Full/Queen vs. a Throw! I did a little ripping and got back on track. I should have taken better notes!

I'm excited to have another quilt made in this collection. There are so many of my favorite colors in this collection: orchid, mint, turquoise, coral, peach, gold/green, red orange, black/white! 

This quilt is quite big at 91" square! As I mentioned this is the Full/Queen size from my Triangularity Quilt Pattern. This uses the included triangle size, and uses half-yard cuts. The pattern has four additional sizes, plus instructions/math for creating your own custom quilt!

I sent this quilt over to Melissa of Sew Shabby Quilting for the quilting. With all the geometric prints and the triangle shapes of the piecing, I wanted to keep the quilt design geometric too. The Crackle pattern fit the bill. It gives the quilt a really interesting texture, it's super cool in person!

I struggled a bit to decide on a binding fabric, so I asked Instagram! I ended up going with a Verve Violet and a dash of Empire Yellow (both are Pure Elements solids). Since the front has so much going on, using solids seemed like the best choice. I also wanted the binding to coordinate well with the backing, since I actually pieced it!

For the backing, I used a black and white script print from Minimalista plus the Cuboid Orchid print from Geometric Bliss. I didn't have enough of the main backing print, so I stretched it with the purple, creating this semi-wonky plus. Makes it kind of two-sided!

I'm so happy to add another large quilt to my collection. I was talking to Jacey last week and we agreed that we never regret making a quilt too big, but we often wish we'd made quilts larger. I have a lot of quilts around 60"x80" or smaller, but not many big enough for our bed. Now I have another to add to that list! Yay!

Happy Quilting!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Catch Up

How is it already the second week of August? This summer is flying by! Somehow I managed to take a little bit of a mini break from blogging. I felt like I used up all my content last month. I am mostly behind on taking photos of things. I'm expecting that posting will be pretty sporadic over the next month or so. With summer winding down and our wedding quickly approaching, I'm trying to relax a little. I have been planning lots of sewing projects though, including a couple new quilts!

New Projects
One of those quilts is one using Leah Duncan's Morning Walk collection. I love the colors and prints in this collection, I think it's my favorite of Leah's! I chose a minty solid for the background to mix things up!

Geometric Bliss Triangularity Quilt
Last month my giant Triangularity quilt came home from being quilted by Melissa. I made the binding this week and am just waiting for a cool enough day to bind it up.

Knit Linden
I carved out some time the past weekend to make a lightweight knit version of the Linden Sweatshirt by Grainline Studio. I have to admit, I wasn't sure how much I'd like a light sweatshirt, but it is SO comfy. It's going to get lots of wear especially this Fall. For this first one I used the Firefly Jar Dark knit from Curiosities. Now I'm scheming a few more lightweight versions. I love this pattern!

As a maker it has been a constant back and forth about what to DIY for our upcoming wedding. At first I was tempted to do everything, but since we'll only be home a few days before the event, and it's a lot of work and stress to do everything yourself, I came to my senses early on. I chose only a few things to make, including designing the stationary and making bunting. Of course I had to make bunting! I'm thankful that I was able to finish it up last month, yay!

Paper Piecing
I am teaching three new classes at The Sewcial Lounge this Fall: Foundation Paper Piecing, English Paper Piecing, and Rotary Cutting Basics. For more information about each class and to register, go here.

Antique Mall Finds
Michael and I made a trip out to the Columbus Antique Mall a few weekend's ago. I managed to find a few goodies!

George bunny sweet! He is just so cute :)

Happy Wednesday!