Friday, January 30, 2015

Crepe Dress in Black and White (and giveaway!)

Today I'm delighted to be a stop on the blog hop for Jennifer Sampou’s brand new fabric line, Black & White, for Robert Kaufman fabrics!

 I met Jennifer at Quilt Market this past fall and just had a blast with her.  There may or may not have been an evening of charades in the Hilton bar complete with singing by Amy Gibson and myself.  ;) It might be have been pretty epic.  When I wasn't laughing away after hours, I was on the market floor and able to see Jennifer's fabrics up close and in person.  When she asked me to be part of the blog hop, I thought about tackling a garment for myself with her yarn dies and an accent fabric from her collection.  And so, I made the Crepe Dress by Colette.

Crepe Dress

This is a wrap style dress designated by Colette Patterns as "beginner".  Hmm...well probably compared to their other patterns this is a beginner pattern.  But I think it is a bit more like an intermediate pattern for your average sewer.  The facings are a bit tricky...that's the main difficulty.  Well and the six darts in the bodice... And it requires a good amount of fabric.  There's at least 4 yards of fabric in this dress!

Crepe Dress

Crepe Dress

I'm decently happy with how the dress looks on me but I think that I might still need to do some alterations to fit my proportions better.  The bodice is a bit large on me in the center of the front.  And I'm not sure if there is supposed to be that much fabric in the bodice back wrap. (But isn't it pretty?!)

Crepe Dress

I love how flattering a wrap dress is for any body size.  I'm not feeling my smallest these days by any means with a post surgery body and this dress helped hide a lot of that.

Crepe Dress

I think you can see the beauty of Jennifer's fabrics in the photo above.  Her Studio Stash yarn die looks really lovely with her fabric from Black and White (with a not so easy to remember name AJS-15017-290 ASH).  

But if anyone has any suggestions for how the dress should fit me better please feel free to suggest away!! Because I'm certainly loving the wrap skirt!

Crepe Dress

And now for some giveaway fun!

Taquito  prize on MY BLOG:

For a chance to win this little bundle of fabrics just leave a comment below.  You all know the drill.  Let me know your thoughts on the dress!

FQ TOWER prize on Jennifer's BLOG

($84 value): Drawn from her comment page opening day only! Open to new and established followers. Instagramers must sign up on blog and comment to be entered to win. You must comment on Jennifer's blog by February 8th about which project they were most inspired by and what they would make with the fabric if they win. 
Drawing February 9th. 

 Follow Along with the Entire Blog Hop!
January 31 Angela Pingel
February 2 Sarah Sharp
February 9 Jennifer Sampou Announce Winner. 

What's your Remix - A contest with Cotton and Steel fabrics and The Fat Quarter Shop

Eeep!  I meant to blog about this sooner but my blogging week has just been packed this week!  But The Fat Quarter Shop is running a super fun little contest where you get to play with your favorite combo of fabrics from Cotton and Steel that they carry.  I love opportunities like this because i just love to mix and match fabrics between collections.

So the bad news is that the contest ends TODAY.  (Again, sorry!) But the good news is that you still have time to play if you hop on this.  I put my collection together days ago when I saw this but am finally posting it here.  Frankly there are really no wrong or bad concoctions to work with with such a broad range of design styles and colors.  But here is what I came up with:

You can find my list of fabrics on my pinterest board if you are interested in the particular fabric names.  But go have fun and make one of your own.  All the contest details are on the link to the Fat Quarter Shop above. 

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

I filmed a DVD! (and giveaway!)

What?! Crazy!  I filmed a DVD and it is now available for download or hard copy purchase from Interweave.  I've got to admit that I'm tickled over the fact that my face is on the cover of this.  I know that they took that shot just in between segments of shooting and I was exhausted. lol  So frankly I'm fairly impressed that I don't look like a disaster.  My picture isn't even IN my book. I'm still shaking my head in disbelief that is on this DVD.  This DVD of me. speaking. all by myself.

Okay.  Thanks for processing that with me.  lol  Now let me tell you a bit about the DVD. You might be shocked (insert sarcastic tone) to find that it is a DVD on sewing curves.  I swear I do a lot more than sew curves, but for the moment I'm just diving in and exploring all kinds.

Throughout the DVD I explore and show you how to sew Drunkard's Path blocks, Apple core, Flowering Snowballs, Clam shells, Improv Curves and even ovals.  It's a very thorough look at different types of curves and my tips and tricks for handling them. I take you through cutting, pinning, piecing, sewing, ironing and combing shapes ultimately showing a finished product for each.  There are lots of project ideas to inspire you.

I know that a lot of people are intimidated by curves and I think after you watch this, you will have a great deal of insight into what is easy and what is tricky.  And I have no doubt that you will want to start a curved shape of your own in one manner or another.

This is a technique based workshop DVD and my goal in making it, is to make the task of sewing curves feel approachable and exciting.  I want to take any mystery out of the process and make sewing curves that much more accessible.  The reality is that often we need to SEE someone creating to understand how they do it rather than just read about it or try to follow diagrams in a book.

Oh and just to show that I'm not all serious and heavy about this, my husband pointed out that I say the word "lovely" quite a bit in the DVD (yes, I have watched it myself...that was a little odd...but I've actually watched it twice from beginning to end to hear every word and thought I had).  There are worse things you could say than "lovely" but we got a big kick out of it and we started shouting out "LOVELY!" each time I said it.  We thought it might make a good drinking game if you were so inclined ;)


And of course, I can't tell you about a new DVD of mine and not offer a giveaway for a copy of it.  Yes, I know I'm doing a lot of giveaways here lately and the next post has one too but we're just going with the flow over here. ;)  Enjoy.

To enter to win a copy of my DVD simply leave a comment below.  Let's mix things up.  I could use some laughter and joy these days.  So tell me something that makes you laugh or makes you joyful.  Or tell a joke. or tell me how scared you are of curves and that you will now go buy this dvd to get over that. ;)

oh and PS.  A few friends of mine will be sharing more about the DVD next week on their blogs and also giving away a copy.  I imagine you'll see one or another of those along the way.  I'm eager to hear what they think of the DVD.  I told them that if they hated it or I looked like a fool on camera that they could gently make fun of me.  So who knows what they'll say!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Improvising Tradition Review and Giveaway!

Sometimes there are books that come along that I just HAVE to review.  I'm pretty picky about what I choose to review here on my blog.  I love to help out friends of course (that's what friends are for!) but I also just love to help a great book get more more exposure if I can.  And that's where I am with Improvising Tradition by Alexandra Ledgerwood.  Though you may know her by her alter ego, Teaginny Designs

I decided to do an interview of Alex for this review, so you can see both my thoughts and hers on some of my favorite designs from her book. I hope you enjoy it!!

Angela: You show my favorite kind of improv quilts: those that are based in traditional roots, such as the log cabin.  What is your favorite "base" block to give an improv take on?

Alex: My go-to block is the strip set.  I find it completely relaxing and therapeutic to make, and it is perfect for scraps, which I love use.  Strips sets can be used so many different ways.  I’ve been known to sit down and sew strip sets with no purpose in mind because I know I will find a use for them eventually.

Angela: I'm drawn to curves, so your falling leaves Table Runner immediately caught my eye.  Have you tried making this with improv curves instead of a template?
Alex:  I haven’t made the blocks in the Falling Leaves table runner with improv curves, but I think it would work well.  I did cut the template improvisationally, and the pattern is designed so that the quilter can create their own template if they desire.  In my version I balanced the randomness of the improv strip sets in each leaf with the symmetry of the series of leaf shapes all cut from the same template, but improv curves would create a whole different feel and would be fun to try.

Angela: I personally love your take on improv which ends up looking very peaceful and controlled due to your fabric choices and structure. Does all of your improv work look like this or did you do this for the task of teaching improv? I know how different improv styles can be but yours seems very consistent.
Alex: I've developed my improv style over the last couple of years with some experimentation.  The subtle wonkiness and limited color palettes are really just my aesthetic in general.  I always enjoy it when people’s quilts have a particular style, and the beauty of improv is that the very same pattern and techniques, like the ones in the book, can completely change based on each quilter’s voice.  I’m really looking forward to seeing what different people create from the patterns in the book.

Angela: Mirrored Sunset Wallhanging (pictured above) is perhaps my favorite quilt in the book.  I think it is because it is so different from other things I've seen.  I want to see more! Do you have any more pattern ideas like this one in the works?

Alex: I don’t have any further patterns in the works like this one, but I do have some ideas of interesting variations.  The main focus of this pattern in the strata section of the book is to show that strata can create a subtle but interesting background while contrasting with a bold applique.  The background can be a design element of its own, rather than simply a blank, negative space. 
I think it would be cute to use strata as the background for some whimsical shapes on baby quilts.  I can picture blue strata with a simple, stylized dog applique or low volume scrap strata contrasting with a brown trendy mustache.  
Another element of improv in the wall hanging is the applique shape itself.  Because of the way it is cut from folded fabric, or freezer paper if you use my method, Hawaiian applique lends itself perfectly to improv.  You could make the wall hanging even more unique by creating your own shape.  Just fold the freezer paper and experiment with cutting different shapes.  I was inspired by mid-century modern starburst mirrors, and their symmetry is a nice balance to the irregularity of the strata.  Traditional or modern shapes will work equally well in this pattern, so quilters can make whatever they like.

Thanks so much for the invitation to chat about the book and for all the interesting questions, Angela.  Thinking about it has me some new ideas to explore.  Now if I could just get some sewing time.
And many thanks to Alex for all her great answers!

I think that her book is a great resource for improv quilting.  She uses small manageable cuts which make piecing easy and quilts less wonky.  The patterns are perfect for a beginning quilter or a beginning improv quilter.  The tone on tone solides make the improv piecing give texture without creating a distraction with every seam and new fabric.


And now for the Giveaway!  We are naturally giving away a copy of Alex's Book, Improvising Tradition to one lucky winner. To enter to win, simply leave a comment below.  I'm sure Alex would love to hear what you think of her designs, color schemes, quilting and such.  But leave any comment you like!  Good luck!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Boo in Stitches - Giveaway!!

You guys, when I went to Sewing Summit a couple of years ago, I met the MOST darling gal on the fabric shop hop.  She was sitting just in front of my friend Elena and I and she was so freaking adorable and sweet that I couldn't help but fall in love with her.  Her name is Shannon and she's got excellent taste.
Shannon (left) and Colleen (right)

Fast forward to now and Shannon and her sister Colleen have decided to join forces to start a new company that combines their skills of sewing and graphic design.  Enter: Boo in Stitches.  You guys are going to love what they have to offer.

These prints are just the CUTEST!  And FUNNY!  I showed my husband and he started laughing...and we all know that getting a guy to laugh about sewing humor is pretty rare. ;)  I think they've got a great thing going on here and I'm already excited to see what they put out next.

These prints have such a fresh and fun appeal.  I love when people don't take themselves so seriously.  And the colors are great.  I have a couple of them in person and I think that the prints are a great saturation level and quality.  And did I say fun?!  

And seriously.  How cute are they?  I love when cute people turn out to be really truly nice AND talented.  Shannon has sent me cards that her sister designed prior to this because she's in my birthday club and I already loved her sister's style long before I saw these prints.


So.  The Nitty Gritty.  I know that you will want a chance to win some of these prints for yourself.  One lucky winner will win one 8 x 10 copy of the print of your choice.  (The five are shown above).

To enter to win, simply leave a comment below.  I'm sure they would love to read what you have to say about the prints and which are your favorites.  Or heck, even suggestions for other ideas.  Should they sell tshirts?  (I'm expanding their business for it? lol)  Just let me know below.

And in case you want to follow along, there will be opportunities at all of the following blogs for a chance to win.  Just follow the schedule and learn more about Shannon and Colleen and how they started their company.  (Some of these giveaways might be on IG)

Monday, January 12, 2015

Flash back Tee - Sewing with Knits!!

I haven't been doing much sewing around here.  Between Christmas, Birthdays and Health, let's just say that getting to the sewing machine has been lower on the priority list than normal.  However, I did have a LOVELY sewing day my friend Emily who was in town to visit her parents for Christmas.

Sewing with knits!!

We had been planning this day for quite a while and I was especially excited because Emily has done a lot of sewing with knits and that is something that I really want to tackle this year.  And I'm so happy to say that I made my very first knit tshirt...the Flashback Tee from Rae.

Sewing with knits!!

My little model was especially silly on this day when I snatched a few photos of her, so just enjoy that. :p  

I started with my Heather Ross knit fabric because it was the one I purchased the longest ago and I wanted to use up what I've had for the longest.  It turned out to be a perfect choice for this little 5 year old!

Sewing with knits!!

I know I shouldn't be scared to sew with knits and I did fine, but I was so happy to have Emily there to sew with me and walk me through a step if I had a question.  It really was very direct but I was not nervous with her there and just celebrated each step along the way.  I must say that it was especially helpful to own a serger.  I sewed the whole shirt with it!

Sewing with knits!!

I made the shirt with matching cuffs and neckline rather than a separate knit fabric fabric.  And it turned out super cute.  I'll admit that I never have ended up hemming this shirt.  I thought that the perfectionist in me wouldn't be able to let that step go.  But I must be getting more laid back because I'm JUST FINE with it being unhemmed.  The beauty of knit fabric is that you don't need to hem.  It becomes a design decision (I'm calling it that rather than laziness) to choose to hem or not.  Without a formal hem, you get a slight roll on the knit that looks darling too.

Sewing with knits!!

I made this in a 4T for my pipsqueak daughter who just turned 5.  It fits her perfectly.  And this mama is super happy because this shirt has been in constant wardrobe rotation since I made it.  Nothing like seeing the things you've made actually be used and worn!  And again, I think that is the beauty of knits...we really WANT to wear comfy clothes around here. And knits fit that task perfectly.  I'm eager to make more for her!  And for myself. ;)

Sewing with knits!!

We had the best time with Emily and Caitlyn wanted her to stay and be her mommy too.  She said she could have two mommies.  lol  That's totally okay Emily.  You get to put her to bed and get her to eat at mealtimes, Deal? ;)

Monday, January 5, 2015

2014 - A Year in Review

I didn't think I was going to do a review post this year.  For some reason, I thought "no, I didn't do much...I don't know where I'm going...what's the point of reviewing it?"

And that of course is the very reason that I NEEDED to review this past year.  Because believe it or not I forget.  I forget how many crazy, amazing, hard, fantastic things happened this year.  My 35th year.  It was kind of big actually.  And by not reviewing it for myself at least, I was not honoring all of the work I did.  The ways that I stretched myself personally, both mentally and physically.  And I forget how many amazing people I met this year alone.  Finally.  In person.

In my own little solitary corner of the world where I don't get to interact in person with other quilters or sewers except on trips, it is easy to think that you've done nothing worth mentioning.  Because you literally have NOT mentioned them to anyone.  lol  I didn't talk, with my actual voice, to many people about the quilts I was making or the opportunities I had.  My poor husband gets the brunt of a lot of things. "Look honey! Look how well these points match up!!" ;)

But actually, there are definitely some things worth mentioning.

My first book was published.  
    What?!? Me? A book? It's out there for everyone to see and critique and love or hate.  I promoted and carried it with me, accepted wildly in some places and rejected completely in others.  It's a huge step for me to put that part of my out into the world for others.

I attended my first AND second quilt markets.
     Did I mention that I am literally sewing by myself all of the time? So then take that person and drop her in a room of hundreds (thousands?) of people who are all participating in the same world of fabric and sewing.  Now tell her to promote herself, her book, herself, her contacts, herself... get the picture?  It was a very big deal for me.  I met sooo many people that I have only known through the internet.  I've had real meaningful conversations and delightful late night bar singing moments.  And everything in between.  It's taken me to two different cities I had never been to and forced me to push my ability and comfort with traveling.

I filmed a DVD and segments for the Quillting Arts Show on PBS.
      Uhm.  Yeah.   I don't think that was even ON my bucket list.  lol  And yet somehow THAT happened.  In fact the DVD is just coming out and I need to check for when the showings are because they will be airing soon too. I worked like a mad woman to create everything I needed for those and then took the beginning of what would essentially become my first solo road trip across multiple states over the course of a week.

I spent a fantastic weekend with friends and new friends and, oh yeah, Anna Maria Horner and Heather Ross.
     Is it weird if I think that was the biggest part of my year?  With all the other things that were personal accomplishments, it was ultimately the people in my life who made such a difference. I finally managed to attend an event where I was just there to have fun.  Nothing else.  And I didn't know how much I needed that.  People kept telling me how relaxed I looked.  That's what I look like when I have no deadlines and no preconceived notion of what the weekend should be.

I personally had two surgeries and my husband had one.
     Among all of the trips and quilts I was making for magazines and filming and books, I took care of some health issues.  So that meant a surgery for me in July, a surgery for my husband in October, and another surgery for me in November.  My husband was supposed to have another in December but it got delayed...I think that's a good thing.  We need a little break from surgery. ;)

My miracle daughter turned 5!
     I officially no longer have a baby or a toddler.  I have a little girl.  A strong feisty one who will impact the world in a meaningful way with her spirit...and my husband and I are along for the ride to help guide this little lady to be the beautiful woman I know she will become.  As independent as ever, she is already ready to sew her own clothes (so she thinks) and tells me often what a good sewer she is and what a good pinner she is.  I won't argue with that. ;)

My family took a trip to New Orleans for Mardis Gras and to the Smokey Mountains for vacation.
       More traveling! More visiting with friends who are like family.  Our first trip back to New Orleans since we moved back to South Bend over 3 years ago.  It was emotional and just easy all at the same time.  The peaceful beauty of the Smokey Mountains was a perfect vacation with a four year old and many friends with other little ones.

There's more...more quilts, more projects, more planning and blog hops.  But that is all something.  Something worth remembering and something worth acknowledging.  So, if I'm a little tired right now from the past year, there might be a reason (other than the bronchitis I currently have).

The next year looks uncertain and full already.  I'm following where my path leads and that's a little scary.  I often wonder why I can't be a person who is content to sit and let the grass grow under my feet for a while.  But I love to learn and my curiosity takes me to new things and new people.

And because we can't have a post without pictures, I hope you enjoy this slide show of my year that says in pictures what I wrote in words. Just this would probably have been enough.


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