Friday, September 30, 2011

Summer Sewing Finale

Several months ago I joined Fairy Face Designs Summer Sewing linky and listed my summer sewing goals.  As the summer is coming to a close, it's interesting to see where I am now vs. where I had hoped to go.  Some projected worked through just fine, while others were completely sidetracked by swaps, etc.  Still, it has been an adventure, this summer.  I would not change a thing.

Finish my Quilting Guild of Ireland Mystery Quilt  The top was finished donated to Project Linus in May.  It was just not my thing - buying fabric for an unknown quilt, using a pattern that I normally wouldn't choose, etc.  I do not think I would do a Mystery Quilt again, unless it was run by someone in whose taste I trust.  Anti-climax, but true.

Finish my Sampler Quilt It is done and sent to Boston!  My friends received the quilt in June and absolutely love it.  I am so happy its in a good home. It was also recently showcased in a Sew Mama Sew column, which made my day. 

Complete the Top of Lattice Illusions Not only did I finish the top, but I finished the whole thing!  Whew!  This was a small struggle at times due to the design changing several times over.  In the end, though, I am completely happy with the final quilt.  That's all that matters, right?

Sign Up For and Finish 5 Birdie Stitches Blocks This stitch-a-long has become a small obsession!  I am sure you are tired of hearing about it.  Anyway, I did indeed sign up and I have finished 9 blocks.  I have not stitched June's yet as I want to design that myself.  October will be released soon enough and I can hardly wait :) 

Begin Piecing the Batik Irish Chain I abandoned ship here.  I love the fabric, but plan to use it in a scrappy star quilt starting in the next few months.  With the Community quilt really being an Irish Chain-ish pattern, I did not fancy doing another one.  So it goes...we evolve, don't we?

Start and Finish a Bag I am not close to starting or finishing this project.  Can this be a Christmas gift instead of a birthday gift as originally thought?  I say yes.  It does indeed need to be a Christmas gift as this is just silly taking nearly a year to make one bag.

Take a Precision Quilting Class  Boy, did I try!  I looked high and low for a class, but was not successful in finding one online or in person in Ireland.  So, I bought a DVD.  I did watch it and was a bit let down as it was very elementary and I wanted more detail.  I will watch it again - maybe I was just in a bad mood that afternoon. 

So, what did I do with my summer then?  I bailed on projects, projects were side tracked, etc.  How did I spend my day? 

I hosted the Japanese Fabric Swap involving 28 lovelies where we each contributed one yard of fabric and received a varied charm pack with 56 charms.  I am still pulling from this pile of happiness for projects. 

I was also swap mama for Goodie Swap 2011 here at Fluffy Sheep Quilting where each participant made a mug rug and a handmade goodie of their choice for two partners, then received the same from a surprise crafter.  We are just now opening our surprise packages and it is very exciting.  Thanks, ladies, for making that so much fun for me!

And the Community Quilt!  My love.  So many of you donated fabric to this project over the summer, and for that I am completely grateful.  I have finished the top and the back and wanted to layer it today, but the LQS has closed for a holiday.  Argh!  It will be layered next Friday, so I will be quilting in no time!

I also finished the top and piecing the back for Mod Logs.  This was a great fulfilling, satisfying project that was just for fun.  It too will be layered next week, then I'm off quilting! 

This summer I also discovered quilting bees!  What was I doing before they came around!?!?  What a great source of inspiration to try something new.  Some are for specific charity events, others will continue year round.  No matter where they are going, I really enjoy making these blocks!  I've joined Judith's Bee Blessed, Jenna's Sew Bee Blissful, Karen's Kind Stitches and Caroline's Have A Heart Appeal. 


Finally, the Start Your Own series of blog posts has officially kicked off.  With a guest blogging entrepreneur every Thursday, the series covers all sorts of topics from fabric shops to selling crafts locally to pattern designing.  Thanks again to the following who have participated so far:

Modern Quilt Relish - Pattern Designers
Saffron Craig - Fabric Design
Patchworkdelights - Entrepreneurial Crafter
Pippablue - Fabric Shop Owners

Making a list like this has been a great way to keep me focused and a really nice way to look back at the summer's achievements.  Thank, Sarah, for keeping us motivated!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Start Your Own....With Modern Quilt Relish

Our guest bloggers this week are Jill and Marny of Modern Quilt Relish.  They are a great team of pattern designers who, together, create beautiful modern quilt patterns.  Not only are they business partners, but they are good friends!  You really get a sense of their relationship reading through this post.  If you are interested in seeing more, you can learn about their day-to-day life on their blog, or have a peek in their online shop to see what patterns area available.  Either way, you are in for a treat. 
Thank you, Marny and Jill, for writing such an inspiring, informative post for us this week!

Hi Cindy, Jill and I are so pleased you chose us to contribute to your blog. Here goes…

Marny Buck and Jill Guffy make up Modern Quilt Relish. We are longtime friends, tennis partners and past co-workers at the large, local quilt shop. We have explored modern design elements as they apply to quilting, been inspired by visiting Quilt National Exhibits, and have run a Contemporary Quilting group. Recently we joined our local Des Moines Modern Quilt Guild.

We embrace contemporary design. The look of quilts is constantly changing.  It has been a great energizer to see modern elements such as negative space and asymmetry appearing more and more in quilts today. The desire to create quilt patterns featuring these modern design elements that are easy and fun to execute motivates us.

After years of “what if” our partnership took shape. Modern Quilt Relish began simmering in the spring of 2010 with a blog that encourages simply sophisticated design through process and exploration and continues with ten published patterns. Two new patterns are due to be released at the end of October 2011.

Our business success depends on both of us. Our skills and vision complement one another. While our communication style with one another is a constant “flight of ideas” we are very business like in setting deadlines, striving for the best product we can produce, and moving Modern Quilt Relish forward.
We are much braver together than we would be apart. It is so much easier to push that “send” button on a daring email when there are two of you. Having two of us also guarantees that there is always someone available to send patterns or deal with emails, etc.

A steep learning curve has challenged us in the creation of Modern Quilt Relish. Software for pattern writing, blogging, online business details, legal business setup, printing, bookkeeping, etc., all take time away from the design process and the quilt making. Conquering all these details has brought us much satisfaction. It has to be said, though, that the designing and the quilt making remain our first love.  We do not hesitate to ask for advice. (Well we might hesitate, but we do it anyway.)

Fortunately, our local university had a seminar on starting your own business. Attending this, and meeting with the instructor individually, ensured the legal start of our business. Over the years of working in the quilt shop and attending quilt events we have made acquaintances with other pattern writers, magazine editors, accomplished quilters and store owners. This network has been very helpful when we seek information or support.

Our online presence is enough for us. An actual storefront would not be compatible with our pattern business. Retail isn’t for sissies! There are long hours and financial investments at stake. There are also great rewards. But for pattern writers, it does not make sense to open a storefront. We have attended, and will continue to attend, International Quilt Market. Our booth was well received. It was a large financial step, but it is where quilt shop owners from around the world saw our pattern company for the first time. Fabric companies, magazine editors, book editors and others took a good look. Opportunities from unexpected sources can be the result.

We offer this. Seek sound advice, be professional and take advantage of friendships in your own network. Be brave, take calculated risks, and above all, have fun and love what you do. You might be surprised by the opportunities out there!

Thank you for letting us join you today.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Lucky me!

Woo hoo!  I received this afternoon my first package from Goodie Swap 2011!  Yippee! 

Naomi (from Nomes's brag-a-long) was the wonderful person creating for me and I could not be happier!  As swap mama, I knew who was creating for me.  Still, I did not want it to ruin the surprise.  So, I tried to avoid Naomi's blog or flickr activity for fear I got a peek.  Sadly, though, I think I hurt her feelings for not being more vocal and supportive.  Naomi, I am sorry to have put my surprise ahead of your happiness and I truly hope that you believe me when I say I LOVE WHAT YOU CREATED!  I am super-duper thrilled.  Thank you a million times over. 

Now, for the gorgeous photos!  Naomi sent a lovely package.  I really wish I had the fabric version of this wrapping paper!

 What's inside?!?!  What's inside!?!?  Well, this beautiful-ness...

Can you see the fab applique?  I love it.  I love that you can see the stitching on the back...Or can you?  It's hard to photograph white on white.

But wait!  There's more :)

Ummm....chocolatte.....  That will go down a treat!  Now look at this spectacular needle book.  I love the nooks and crannies.  It even came with the most fantastic little pair of scissors!  How thoughtful!  Naomi, I have a sewing bee weekend coming up and I can't wait to bring this little goodie along too!

Naomi, thank you.  Thank you so very much for all of your hard work.  I love the fabrics you used, the colors you choose and the thought you put into designing these pieces of happiness.  Thank you.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Pouchy Purse

I had a hard time thinking about larger quilting projects this weekend with so many little bits to do.  Make swap mosaics twice over...check.  Try to keep track of Goodie Swap commings and goings...check.  Bottle first two cases of home brew...check.  Tidy up back yard for the fall...semi-check.  Anyway, to get a little sewing in, I tried one of the lovely Ayumi's tutorials.  Really, Selina gave me the push to get started.

Using the Pink Penguin Lunch Bag tutorial, I made this little cutie :)  I already have a lunch bag (with Hello Kitty on it to boot!), but this would be great as a little bag running to/from shops in town.  I am totally excited to take it out and about. 

The lining is made of the same peacock feather-ish fabric on the rim, but there is also a little cover to keep your secret goodies (cookies?) hidden.  

I am already scaling this up in my mind to make a larger hand bag.  For now, it makes me happy.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Bits and Bobs

If you have not already joined in, my friend Susan at Canadian Abroad is hosting a Christmas Tablerunner Swap.  Sign ups are still open if you're interested in joining in too.  So, I finally made my inspirational mosaic today.  See anything here that you like too? 

To give credit to the creators, I have linked to the original photos in my flickr image, I just can't get the HTML to work here....sorry!

In other news, my friend Judith is the lucky winner of the Saffron Craig giveaway for a $25 gift voucher to use in Saffron's online shop.  Here's what Judith had to say....

That's the news here.  Hope you are having a happy Sunday afternoon :)

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Fluffy Sheep! Fluffy Sheep!

I have nothing to say, but I wanted to share my excitement.  I was in Pippablue yesterday with the lovely Eva and I found this fat quarter of cuteness.

I fell in love.  What could make me happier than beautifully colored, SPARKLING, fluffy sheep?  I love that happiness can indeed be bought for under 5 euro.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Mod Logs: Top Finished

If you're looking for yesterday's Start Your Own...With Saffron Craig post and giveaway, click here.

Woo hoo!  I finished my Mod Logs quilt top!  I really like how this turned out!  I used Kona solids and two Moda jelly rolls - both Fresh Flowers by Deb Strain.  I love nearly every print in this jelly roll except for one, which was easily removed and tossed in the scrap bin.

Now, my only complaint is in my fabric matching...and its my own fault.  I tried to match the white/cream in the jelly roll with a Kona solid on my computer screen.  You have to know that did not go well.  No worries - since then I bought a Kona card, so problem solved.  Still, it bothers me a little bit that my Kona background does not match the Moda neutral color.  The only time I kind of like the mis-match is in the lighter polka-dot fabrics where they could be easily lost in the Kona solid, so there I like a little contrast. 

That being said, I am a huge fan of this pattern as it was a real pleasure to stitch.  If you are a beginner quilter, this is a perfect start.  If you are a bit more experienced, this will give you a great sense of satisfaction.  There are a few typos in the text, but if you just think while you stitch and do a (very small) bit of math, you will be in good shape. 

This is the first quilt that I pieced without a purpose - purely because I liked the pattern and I tho
ught the fabrics would look nice here.  Not some one's birthday or Christmas gift.  Not with a bed in mind.  Just because it made me happy.  My other half has asked if we could use it to be lazy on the couch.  He wants to use something I created...which nearly made me cry with happiness.  It is now officially our couch quilt.

Here is the question.  Has anyone used a flat sheet for backing?  I have enough Kona solid that I could make a pieced back with extra jelly roll strips.  This was originally my thought to finish this project off and it may be the path I take.  But this is another overly big quilt, so the idea of a flat sheet is appealing right now.  Any experiences to share?


Thursday, September 22, 2011

Start Your Own...With Saffron Craig

Our guest blogger this week is Saffron of Saffron Craig.  Saffron is an Australian fabric designer who saw a need in the market and acted to fill it with her own creations.  Her website just makes me want to create quilts and her online shop makes it all too easy to go on a shopping spree!  Get.Over.There.Right.Now.  If you are interested in watching Saffron create, you can follow her current projects via her blog

Saffron Craig has super-generously offered readers of this post a $25 gift voucher for use in the shop.  To enter, just go over to her online shop and find a fabric that you love.  Come back here and leave a comment including the name of your favorite print.  I'm curious to hear what you'd like to make, if you feel like sharing!

Thank you, Saffron, for writing such an inspiring, informative post for us this week!

Saffron Craig Quilt Fabrics

I've been interested in design, and particularly fashion, since my teens. I studied Fashion Design at RMIT and after travelling the world for a couple of years I started my own women's wear fashion label which I ran for a few years.

After the birth of our daughter however I had to change plan and my mother in law got me onto quilting. Frustrated with the limited choice of contemporary fabrics I started screen printing my own on the kitchen table.  I transitioned from fabric - lover to fabric designer out of necessity. A few years ago there wasn't many modern, vibrant fabric designs available so I started making my own. It wasn't a conscious choice to make a career out of it but a gradual transition. But once we realised people like our fabrics and would pay for them we got hooked!  The feedback was very encouraging so I took it up a level and debuted my fabrics at the Sydney Quilt and Craft show in 2008. Since then I've been totally immersed in designing patterns and motives predominantly for fabrics.

Infinity 50cm bundle, purple

In my free time, I make a bit of everything and my sketch book is always close by. However, it's a blurry line between free time and work time as I love what I do so much. So, really, free time means doing something totally different, like Yoga, drawing, going for walks on the beach, reading blogs, doing fun stuff with my husband and daughter.

Beetle Bugs, red

I was never worried about leaving  a "proper" job to pursue fabric designing as I didn't really have a "proper" job to give up. I was lucky enough to do what I love and turn it into a business slowly. In a lot of ways it is a relief to be able to focus on patterns and not run a fashion label.  I'm worried sometimes as the amount of effort and time we invest is not always reflected on the balance sheet, especially in these quite difficult economic times.

Bird Tree, blue

I'm sure every small business owner would agree that the difficulty is to find a balance between work and life, and not making things that used to be fun into a chore. Also, once you start turning a hobby into a business there's a lot you need to learn that has nothing to do with why you started it in the first place.

Dandelions pink

I never stopped learning, particularly because I work on the computer so much and software keeps improving and changing.  We've cobbled together business advice from friends, books and online as we needed it, but we're now at a point where we're looking to find a business mentor to take us to the next level.  Also, partnering with our current distributors has helped a lot to focus on what I do best, which is designing. 

Day Owls

And though I run my own fabric label I do design for other companies as well. Which is nice, as I don't have to be involved in the production and selling process but can just send off a design and it's done. I don't think the two are mutually exclusive as I have so many designs that will never make it onto my own fabrics, designs that we plan to sell.

In fact I want to expand my bespoke design services, so if you're looking for a custom design let me know!

Forest Elementals 1m bundle, aqua

I think everyone has to find their own way and make it work for them, their situation, how much time they can invest, etc. It definitely pays off to have someone to help you with the things you struggle with as running a business involves so much these days. I'm lucky enough that my husband complements my skills in many ways. One thing is for sure, you can't be half-hearted about it. You got to be really passionate about what you do as the shine will wear off sometimes and it's the love for your work that will get you through the challenges you're facing.

Owl Appliqué Kit

Thank you, Saffron, for contributing to the Start Your Own series here at Fluffy Sheep Quilting.  OK, my flock of Fluffy Sheep...get over to Saffron's shop then come right back here and leave a comment to enter the giveaway.  I will use a random number generator on Friday night to choose the winner of the giveaway!  Good luck :)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Kind Stitches

My friend Karen, at Listen to the Birds Sing, is heading to Thailand to volunteer her time by running a clinic for children who have been used in sex trafficking.   She has set up a charitable quilting bee to make quilts for the local shelters and is asking for people to join in by donating blocks or fabric donations in support of her efforts.  She is so much more eloquent about her hopes, so please go to her blog to learn more.  Here is a quilt that she's just started to give an idea of her goals:

Photo by Karen of Listen To The Birds Sing

So, last night I made 6 blocks to somewhat match this quilt with the pink/white four patch theme.  I hope she likes them!

I've also tossed in a mini-stack of charm squares (one charm square would make 2 blocks as shown here with a bunch of white fabric) for her actual in-home quilting bee.  I hope the ladies can use them!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Bee Blessed: September Blocks

I have joined a virtual quilting bee hosted by Judith of Rags to Bags called Bee Blessed.  Together, these ladies are creating quilts for families in Belfast, one of my favorite cities in this part of the world.  I really like the idea of this bee and am so very happy that I can contribute.  Judith both hosts this sewing bee in person at a home as well as accepts blocks from those a bit further away....from folks like me!

This month they are making wonky star cot (crib) quilts from a tutorial posted at Silly BooDilly.  It's a good excuse to try my first wonky star, so I gave it a go!  I made 3 stars, but only had 2 ready for photos before the sun went down.  So it goes.  Looking in the flickr group, it seemed that most folks were using muted colors, so I tried to match them.

They are also looking for fabric donations, so I tossed in two "girly" fat quarters and a cat print that would be great for a kid's quilt.  Hope she likes them :)

Thanks for letting me play along, Judith! 

They are talking about me at

In other fun little basket from the weekend is featured on Craft Gossip.  You can see the post here.  Lucky you, Partner 1!  Your basket is getting a little bit of attention :)   The article made me smile.  They are totally right in saying I joined in this swap to force myself to do new things.  Little do they know I have one foot further in the deep end than that. 

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Yippee Fabric Baskets!

I am not one to start little mini projects, but I am always envious of those who create cute little goodies.  Jumping into the Goodie swap was really my way of forcing myself to give smaller projects a try.  Well, thank goodness I did because I am in love with this little one! 

Using another tutorial from Pink Penguin, I made this little fabric basket for my Goodie Swap partner.  I really hope she likes it as much as I do.  I used pieces of charms from the Rainbow Charm Swap.  I think they look at home here.

The lining is one of my favorite print, but I have problems finding a quilt pattern that allows for such a large print.  So, it remains on the top of my stash pile where I continue to love it.  Using it in this project was perfect.

Well, Swap Partner, I truly hope you like this little one as much as I do :)
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