happy flower quilts book tour! and a giveaway

Hi there! It's finally my stop on the Happy Flower Quilts book blog hop! I've been waiting patiently for my turn! (Ok, maybe not quite so patiently. The truth is that I worked right up until the last minute on my project, fueled by the limited edition Peeps Oreo cookies. They have yummy hot pink marshmallow-flavored filling.) You might have already seen a few sneak peeks of my project that I shared on Instagram (I'm @greydogwoodstudio.)

So let's talk about the book. I've known about the elusive, legendary Happy Flower Quilts book by the great Atsuko Matsuyama for several years. Some of us have referred to it as "the pink book."  I wanted that book so badly, but it was only available in Japanese print. But now everything is coming up roses because there's a brand new English version

The new English translation is published by Zakka Workshop. My friend Kristyne Czepuryk of Pretty By Hand is one of the English editors.  Now at last we can sew up those cute designs! So when Zakka Workshop contacted me and asked if I'd like to help promote the book, of course I was as excited as a daffodil on a March morning. (I am positive that daffodils, tulips and crocuses are excited to pop up through the ground. If only they could read this book!) 

Now that you know the history of the book, let me show you my project!

My Lovely Vines pillow is an interpretation of the Lovely Vines quilt. The quilt is by far my favorite project in the book. It features five columns of leafy vines alternated with postage stamp columns. I'd love to make the whole quilt some day. To make my pillow, I purchased a fat quarter bundle of the latest Antique Flower Pastel fabric by Lecien for the leaves. How pretty is this fabric?! I used one of my favorite light green prints for the stem - it's High Tea by Jera Brandvig for Lecien.

My leaves were made by tracing the applique shape onto freezer paper. Then I applied starch to the edges with a small paintbrush and pressed them to the paper with a hot, dry iron. It's my favorite way to prep applique shapes because I'm able to get nice clean edges with no distortion. And for my stems, I used a Clover bias tape maker, although the book illustrates an easy method that doesn't require any gizmos. I hand appliqued the shapes using Kimono silk thread in Zen Zen 375 and a number 11 straw needle (I even use these needles to stitch quilt bindings), and then hand quilted around each shape and a grid in the background. You could definitely speed this up by using iron-on fusible web and a zigzag stitch. I like the slower method, and it gave me LOTS of time to catch up on some older The Splendid Table podcasts.

The book has quite an assortment of projects that can be completed in a short amount of time. There are 30 patterns for quilts, mini quilts, pouches, pincushions, totes, satchels, placemats, wall hangings. There is piecing, applique, embroidery, 3-D applique and embellishment. And more! The book cover has an amazing sampler quilt. Plus, there are two large tear-out sheets of applique templates to be traced (some of which I might use for other projects. Those birds are too cute!). There is truly something for everybody here.

And now it is giveaway time! Zakka Workshop is generously providing a copy of Happy Flower Quilts at each stop of the book tour. Just leave me a comment letting me know which flower makes you happy and I'll chose a winner on March 1. Contest is open to readers of my blog, and it is also open to my Instagram followers.  And be sure to check out the other stops of the book tour, too - there are some really pretty projects that I've seen!




first blush blog hop - jacob's ladder pillow and giveaway

Hi everybody, and welcome to my stop on the First Blush blog hop! I've been patiently waiting for my turn to show you this cute pillow!

First Blush is a new fabric collection by Ruby Red Designs. It's full of florals, gingham and stripes. When Windham Fabrics asked me to join the blog hop I knew that I'd want to make something that would really capture the cheerful, vintage feeling of the prints. They're so sunny and optimistic.

I had so much fun making two pillows recently, so I decided to make another. Because can we ever have too many pillows? I used a traditional Jacob's Ladder block that I downsized to 4" using a tutorial that I created for Quiltmaker Magazine last year. You can see how I made the blocks by clicking here (the cutting and construction photos and notes are still there, although much of the blog post and block setting options seem to have disappeared). I quilted the top diagonally at 3/4" intervals, and I also quilted the backing to match the front. If you've never quilted a pillow back, give it a try! It gives you a nice plump pillow that is uniformly weighted. For the zipper, once again I used this super-clear tutorial by Jera. And then came the eyelet - it's the first time I've used trim on a project. (Why did it take me so long to discover this? Oh watch out, because now I want to try make my own piping!)

First Blush by Ruby Red Designs for Windham Fabrics is just beginning to ship to retailers now. You can see the full lineup, along with a specially designed book, ruler and block-of-the-month over here.

And here are all the other stops on the blog hop!

October 10 – Chris Dodsley, Made by Chrissie D
 October 11 – Sinta at Pink Pincushion
 October 12 -  Fat Quarter Shop
October 13- Windham/Two Blondes and a Sewing Machine
 October 14- Jennie at Clover and Violet
 October 15- Aurifil- Erin Sampson
 October 16- Tina Egner
 October 17 – Pretty By Hand
 October 18 – Allison Harris
 October 19 – Erin Cox
 October 20 – Angie Wilson Gnome Angel
October 21 – Debbie at happy little cottage
 October 22 – Heidi Staples
October 23 – Leanne Elliott
 October 24- Greg Jones Grey Dogwood Studio - me!
 October 25- Wendy Sheppard Ivory Spring
 October 26 – Stephanie Lynn Denton
 October 27 – Lisa Ruble

Now for a giveaway! And this one is pretty great. For each day of the hop, Windham Fabrics will give away a fat quarter bundle of the collection. along with a small thread box of First Blush from Aurifil for each stop of the blog tour. To enter, leave a comment with your favorite Halloween candy (I love Halloween candy!) Contest is open to all US and international entries through Thursday, October 27. Winners will be chosen randomly from comments posted on blog posts and will be announced on Friday, October 28.

a sugar candies pillow!

The Sugar Candies pillow is finished! It's completely calorie, gluten and fiber free, of course. I started this just a few weeks ago, and I'm so happy to see how it came together.

Sugar Candies is a mini quilt pattern that will be published very soon by Nadra Ridgeway of Ellis & Higgs. The finished quilt is 18" and would make a cute addition to a kitchen, a child's room or as a gift to your favorite sugarholic. These candies are so quick and easy to sew, with a very clearly written pattern. There are plenty of illustrations, and Nadra even indicates pressing directions with little arrows so that your seams nest properly. I LOVE that! Just gather your "ingredients" and get sewing! 

sugar candies quilted 1.jpg

Sugar Candies was the perfect size to transform into a throw pillow. The pattern does not include directions for creating a pillow, but you can use your favorite method. I like to back my pillows with simple envelope closures, which means no zippers! (There are several videos on YouTube showing how to do this. I use a similar method that is clearly illustrated by Lynnette Jensen in many of her Thimbleberries books such as Making Your House A Home.)

My candies are made with an assortment of Milk, Sugar & Flower prints by Elea Lutz for Penny Rose Fabrics, classic 1/8" Riley Blake ginghams and Lakehouse's Sunrise Studio mini dots. My background is an older pindot by Pam Kitty Morning (I bought yards and yards and yards of that print, and sadly, I've nearly come to the end of it. Riley Blake has similar white dotty prints.) 

I'm so happy that Nadra allowed me to test the Sugar Candies pattern. She has more cute patterns coming soon, too, like a great townhouse. Check out her blog, Ellis & Higgs, for more news about her upcoming patterns and fabric collection.

mini dwell pillow!

Oh happy day! It's finished! Presenting the mini Dwell pillow!

This is my first entry into the "A Year Of Schnibbles" sew along hosted by Sinta and Sherri... except that it's not a Schnibbles! This month's assignment was to make a mini quilt using a Thimble Blossoms pattern. I made 3 extra houses and adjusted the borders so that I could finish with a 20" square. I've used an assortment of my happy fabrics from Lori Holt, Pam Kitty Morning, Bonnie & Camille and Atsuko Matsuyama. 

The little houses are all hand quilted in the ditch - nearly every seam is stitched. The hand quilting was fun for hours... and then I just wanted it to be finished, NOW. 

I spent a few days auditioning backing and binding fabrics. I am so happy with this butter floral and red gingham from Pam Kitty Picnic. That gingham is scarce! I needed to do a big internet search to find it. And I picked up a new, fluffy down pillow insert from Pottery Barn. 

So happy! I think that more pillows will be in my future!

I'm linking up today with Finish It Up Friday at Crazy Mom Quilts.

hand-quilted houses

I'm getting reacquainted with hand quilting! I spent several hours this weekend working on the mini Dwell houses.

It's been years since I last did any hand quilting. I taught myself how to do it by reading books and magazines, and by studying museum quilts. All of my early quilts were hand quilted. The second quilt that I made was covered with Baptist fans! Maybe I was too new to the hobby to be scared away by all that handwork! I've relied on the artistry of longarm quilters for the past ten years, and I do love the additional design elements that they bring to my quilts. But it is rewarding to know that I can still do this on my own. Well, those first few stacked stitches were a bit rough, but I got back into the groove quickly.

My brass thimble with the recessed tip is like an old friend. I'm glad that it still fits! I remember that it took me quite awhile to find one that would fit my larger fingers. 

I like to baste in a pastel color that won't distract from my design. Here I have basted in mint green, and I am using white quilting thread. All of the vertical and horizontal sashing has been quilted in the ditch, and I'm now going back and quilting the roofs, doors and pinwheels so that they'll pop. 

I think that this will be done soon! 

I'm linking up with the Monday Design Wall at Patchwork Times today. Hop on over to see what other quilters are working on this week.

mini dwell blocks done!

Presenting all 12 mini Dwell blocks!

Yes, I only needed nine blocks. But I just couldn't stop sewing! In the past few days I added more yellow and blue to my lineup. I was trying to get an even distribution of color. And remember how I wanted to try lavender and lilac? Nope... that was just too much.

My twelve blocks will result in a more square-ish quilt instead of a 13" x 15" rectangle. I also changed Camille's pattern slightly by omitting the really simple houses. These are a mix of assorted fabrics by Lori Holt, Pam Kitty Morning, Bonnie & Camille, and Japanese prints. 

I have to tell you about why I chose the bird toile background. I have had a long fascination with toile. I had toile Bicentennial curtains in my bedroom when I was a boy. My bathroom is papered in black and white toile. My bedroom has black and white toile drapes and toile shams (gotta block out that ugly security gate on the fire escape window!). My living room has toile chairs and pillows. They're well worn, but still toile. And there was a gold and white toile duvet cover years ago, shredded by my former cat housemates! Yikes, that's a lot of history with this print! So you see why I hoard all of the Pam Kitty toiles. I'd love to have a toile print like this in pale blue or pink on white. 

And now I need to finish this project in secret. It will make it's reappearance at the May 1 parade on Sherri's and Sinta's blogs. Don't worry, it will definitely be here, too!

dwell mini

Ah, the joy of starting a new project! This time it's the mini Dwell pattern by Camille Roskelley of Thimble Blossoms!

I watched everybody else making their mini Dwell quilts on Instagram a few months ago. Oh, how I wanted to play along! But I had a FEW other quilt projects going on. Too many projects make me nervous - I'm a finisher!

Well, I had the perfect opportunity to make my own mini Dwell blocks! For years I have been wanting to join the "A Year Of Schnibbles" sew along group, hosted by Sinta of Pink Pincushion and Sherri of A Quilting Life. This was going to be my first month. Then an interesting thing happened. This month the group took a break from the Schnibbles patterns, and instead assigned our choice of a Thimble Blossoms mini pattern. I knew immediately what I would make! 

Each house measures 3" x 4" and they are very simple to piece. The finished top is only 13" x 15".

I'm trying to keep my colors all evenly distributed. So there are the red and pink houses, and a blue group, too. I need to add in a bit more green and yellow in my future blocks to get the balance right, and I'm even playing with some lavender and lilac fabrics. 

I love these houses with the pinwheel centers. I did my favorite pink and green color combo house, and I just couldn't resist making my own signature pink and grey "Grey Dogwood" house!

Six blocks done and three more to make. I have an idea for the setting that's a little different from the pattern. Actually, I could just keep making them. I certainly have enough fabric. Can you imagine a huge quilt with hundreds of these? I can! But the project is due at the end of April, so I think that I'll need to control myself!