by Emma Thomas-McGinnis, artist & quilter
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The first challenge of the season ended this Sunday, so here’s how it turned out…

There were more entries than ever before! Click the collage image at the bottom of the post to be brought to the Flickr Gallery and see them all. The only real direction given was to be inspired by Architecture. So my inspiration came from architecture close to home…the tiles on the Iowa State Capitol floor. I thought they were beautiful when I visited the capitol a few years ago and took lots of photos, because I knew I wanted to make a quilt from them someday. This challenge was the perfect opportunity! I almost copied the design, using a photo as a reference and enlarging the pattern at a copy shop. But I changed the colors a bit, to include a shiny gold lamé, to symbolize our favorite part of the state capitol, the gold dome. My boys love “the Shiny Place” as they call the capitol and Brennan helped me pick out the shiniest fabric we could find at Joann. (We didn’t consider what a pain in the butt it would be to use!)  The rest of the fabric had to come from my stash, but I seemed to have the perfect mix of marbley batiks and prints that had stonelike textures. The yellow even has metallic gold spots.

The Finished Size is 29″ square…don’t ask me why I made it so big! I was asking myself that all week!

I didn’t bother cropping out Conal’s head and hands, because I wanted to give you an idea of how big I made it! I guess I just got too excited that I could get an enlargement at the copy shop and went crazy with it! But thankfully it was smaller than the width of fabric!

Here are some photos of my inspiration!

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Wow! There’s a lot of action this month in the quilting world. Everywhere I look there’s a new project or quilt-along to join! I’m still deciding what to focus my energies on…how about you?!

Project Quilting!

Near and dear to my heart, as I’ve participated in two seaons and TWELVE challenges…this is the top of my list. I’m definitely joining Project Quilting Season 3 and counting down until this Sunday at noon when the first challenge is issued.

Here’s an inspiring collage of all those challenges I did…it’s getting me so excited for the next challenge!

Project Quilting

 The challenges are a week long, wide open for creative interpretation and there are prizes that that everyone has an equal chance at this season (no judging or voting). Go to Kim’sCraftyApple.blogspot.com to find out more or to join in the next challenge!

Free Motion Quilting Project Quilt Along Wednesdays

Free Motion Quilting Project

Now that she’s finished 365 designs, Leah Day is going with a more interactive approach to teaching free motion quilting. She’ll be hosting “Quilt-along on Wednesdays” and answering questions on Thursdays. She’s starting out pretty basic, with loops that eventually turn into stippling. She is working bigger and quilting larger areas to help us fill full quilts…a practical approach that I’m really excited about. I’m sure practicing free motion quilting would be good for me, so I’ll probably participate when I can. The first video is pretty basic, about stippling and I’m sort of set in my ways with stippling! I could practice making it different sizes, though. I notice that I can do different sizes of stipple based on the space I have to fill, but I have to work to keep it consistent in scale.

For even more free motion, Leah also mentioned another challenge project focused on free motion quilting. She will even teach one of the months.

2012 Free Motion Quilting Challenge

I’m not familiar with the blog of SewCalGal (although I will be now, it looks great!) but she is hosting another challenge that will go on all year. Each month another free motion quilting expert will post a video or instructions on a technique, with a challenge. To participate, you simply practice the technique they teach and post pics of your work on your blog or flickr gallery. Then you can win prizes too. I’m still considering whether I will join in this one. It looks like good practice as well. The first tutorial was about quilting leaves, another technique I’m familiar with, but could always practice!

The prizes include thread packs, books, EQuilter software and gift certificates. That would be fun!

I just participated in a contest from a webinar and won myself a free coaching session with Darla LeDoux of Profit SOS, so maybe luck is with me on this whole prize-winning thing!

Quilt Along: Farmer’s Wife

One thing I’m really committed to is a project I’m doing with my small group, a “Farmer’s Wife” quilt-along. But you can also do that online. There’s a yahoo group for it and flickr group and lots of bloggers out there when you start looking. We’re working from the book “The Farmer’s Wife Sampler Quilt” by Laurie Aaron Hird. There’s lots of info on a website here, as well as links to the groups online. Basically it’s a sampler quilt of 111 different blocks, all with stories based on the answer to the question “If you had a daughter of marriageable age, would you, in light of your own experience, have her marry a farmer?” from the 1922 Farmer’s Wife Magazine.

I’ll be doing a few blocks each month to bring to my small group meeting and I’ll probably post them here too. Right now I’m still choosing my fabrics and colors.

Quilt-Along: Craftsy Block of the Month

When I’m not busy piecing for my Farmer’s Wife swap, there is another block project that looked like so much fun I signed up. I don’t know yet if I’ll join in, but Craftsy has a very cool platform for taking classes online and the first few videos were really amazing for their FREE Block of the Month! You can enroll for free any time of the year at http://www.craftsy.com/class/The-Craftsy-Block-of-the-Month  It looks like it will be a fun modern project, to contrast with the Farmer’s Wife style!

Quilt-Along: House and Trees

This is another project of Kim’s at the Crafty Apple is this quilt-along, which I promised to design a block for! It will be a quilt made up of sixteen 12.5″ blocks all from different designers but all to include a tree or house or combination of such. So, I’ll at least have one block to make, but participating in the whole project might be fun too. Here’s her write up about it, and here’s her inspiration quilt photo! Silly Kim, she thought we weren’t going to have anything to do in the weeks where there wasn’t a Project Quilting Challenge issued! Ah, this post will prove her wrong!

Stitch-Along at Feeling Stitchy

If you’re not in the mood for quilting OR piecing, how about some stitching?! There have been monthly stitch-alongs at Feeling Stitchy for a while and it seems they are still going, as January’s design has been posted. They’re using hand-written letters, something I do on a lot of quilties, but on cute little buntings! Oh and it’s with couching, that’s a fun technique for someone who has a small stash of yarn from the time she tried knitting but didn’t stick with it! Worth a try, I think!

2012 Sew Scraps Along 150

 

“Sew Scraps Along” at Pleasant Home

 

Ok, funny name and from the sound of it, it will be way more than just a simple project to follow along with…it will be more like lots of projects, tutorials, stories, blogs to follow and giveaways to enter, so I think I’ll just try to keep checking in with Pleasant Home this year…you know, because I’ll have so many scraps created from all those other projects I plan on working on in 2012!

Ok, phew, that’s all I have time to write about tonight…I hope there’s nothing really good I missed. If there is, be sure to let me know!

More Christmas Gifts to Share

January 4th, 2012 | Posted by Emma in Crafts | Quilting | Uncategorized - (3 Comments)
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Ok, so I had a very productive holiday season of homemade gift-giving! Here are a few more I wanted to show you before moving on… (oh and stay tuned for a wrap-up of the gifts my husband made this year, with a little help from his wife!)

This is a package of three little gifts I gave to my small group secret santa, Veronica. Using a fabric line I knew she’d love, I made a button bag zipper tote, a pin cushion and a fancy twisted drawstring pouch.

Then I made a big quilted tote bag for my sister in law who loves to knit. It’s big enough to put a lot of yarn and a sweater in, I’m sure! I used a charm pack called “Cherish Nature”, that I totally love! I was actually starting to think I should keep the bag halfway through, because I loved those fabrics so much. But my generosity won out because it was Christmas and I wanted Jennifer’s gift to be great!

I loved the quilting on this! I used my favorite free motion pattern and it really looked nice…look at those beautiful fabrics!

Two big pockets inside and one on the outside, along with really big, sturdy handles, make this a really useful bag!

And this might have been the most fun project for me, because I truly love making stuffed toys…and I don’t have many girly gifts to give in my family!

Doesn’t look like much yet, but open it up…

it’s a dolly slumber party!

Here’s my hand holding a dolly, so you can see the fun little size they are.

The pattern came from one of my favorite stuffed toy books “Wee Wonderfuls” by Hilary Lang.

Easy Quilt from the DIY Dish

January 4th, 2012 | Posted by Emma in Quilting - (0 Comments)
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I love Kim & Kris at the DIY Dish! They are fun to watch and have great ideas…if you haven’t seen their show yet, you should check it out. Here’s the episode that inspired my brother’s Christmas present (don’t tell him that I made it in a day!!)

http://www.thediydish.com/2011/11/how-to-make-an-easy-quilt/

I’m going to try a new plugin to show you photos, so see below…click the first image to view them all as a nice gallery.

I love the quick results, but this was also just a really fun project. The first part was just choosing a Kona solid and a variety of small coordinates from which I cut  3.5″ squares. I marked a grid on the Kona with a chalk pencil. With my large table, I was able to do this almost all at once. Then I sandwiched the marked top with batting and the same solid backing, using basting spray. Then the most fun, I arranged the small squares within the grid and stuck them in place with a little glue stick. Brennan helped! He applied glue, I stuck down a square, I lifted the next one, he applied glue, I stuck down a square…

Quilting was pretty quick too, and very satisfying to see it come together so fast. I quilted a grid 1/4″ in from each edge of the squares all the way down the rows and across the columns. Bind it, wash it, done. It frayed in the wash and crinkled up like a vintage quilt and it will probably get even more raggy with use, but it’s really soft and wonderful that way. I think it suits my brother real well.

Composition Book Covers

January 3rd, 2012 | Posted by Emma in All | Quilting - (2 Comments)
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I love this for a quick quilting project that looks amazing! Here’s the tutorial I used, from the Bloomin’ Workshop. It worked so well, I made three this holiday season, and if I had had more time, I would have made more. So, next school supply season, stock up on the plain composition books with the black and white covers! (I got mine for 10 cents each on school supply clearance!)

These first two were teacher gifts for the great women who teach Brennan at preschool…

fronts, backs


The inside flap, a good place to show off your quilting and tuck a little note or card.
I made this one first, for my niece, Amaria. She enjoys writing, so I knew she would love it. I also made her a matching zip pouch and filled it with fancy pens and pencils (but I forgot to take a picture of that!)

Bookmark that tutorial, it’s a great project for practicing your quilting and using your scraps.

Maintenance…

December 30th, 2011 | Posted by Emma in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

Site may be looking a little different for a while until I land on my new look…please don’t be alarmed and thank you for your patience. Oh and feel free to voice your opinion if you like any of the new looks!
Thanks!

Christmas Quilties

December 30th, 2011 | Posted by Emma in Quilting | Uncategorized - (0 Comments)
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I had a special custom order this holiday season, for a good friend of mine who wanted ornaments for her family. I was given suggestions as to the interest of each family member and came up with a little embroidery design for each. With a printed greeting on the back, I made mini quilt blocks for the front and back and turned them all into Christmas tree ornaments.

I didn’t make new ornaments for my shop this year, so this project filled that void…but I was very tempted to make more. Next year I hope to have more orders for ornaments like these, they were very fun! I think the customization made them even more special. I’m not sure if the photos do them justice, it is pretty fun to hold these tiny quilts!

Angry Birds Christmas

December 27th, 2011 | Posted by Emma in Crafts | Quilting | Uncategorized - (0 Comments)
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My boys love Angry Birds this year…what kid doesn’t, huh? Well, I made them a few accessories to fill their requests for Angry Bird stuff.

By far the best was these hats!!

We had seen some knitted angry bird hats at a gas station and thought I could do a better job with fleece. I think I did!

Except that as you can see in the pic, Brennan’s was too small. I wanted them to be a surprise, so I couldn’t try them on the kids. I just measured from one of their current hats. But when constructing, forgot to orient the grain of the fleece so as to stretch AROUND their heads, so I did have to rip a few seams and reconstruct them once. Aw well. It was only too bad that I had made it fully-lined and top-stitched before realizing my error!!

The next thing I made was really my son Conal’s idea. He wanted a “Pig Fortress Building Kit.” His idea was to use foam or boxes to make bricks for building pig houses. I bought a sheet of 3″ thick foam and covered them with brick patterned fabric like you would a baby block. The roof is a sheet of heavy-weight plastic canvas covered in fabric and batting.

This was the tote bag and sign for storing the game.

Here’s a pig in his fortress!

And here’s the fortress after launching a bird at it! This makes me very glad they have a big basement room to go throwing around their toys in!!

Here’s a funny action shot of Conal trying out his angry bird hat and pig fortress on Christmas morning (hence the mess all around!)

I think I took enough photos of the process that I could write a quick tutorial, let me know if you’re interested.

Christmas Crafts

December 26th, 2011 | Posted by Emma in Crafts | Inspiration | Quilting | Uncategorized - (2 Comments)
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Ok, before I tell you about my marathon of Christmas gifts, I have to say that I was still crafting today after making no less than 16 unique gifts this season! I just wanted to be back in my studio making stuff, so that’s what I did.

That and my friend Sherri’s suggestion to check out Pinterest was a good one. I had this inspiring pin board to get me crafting!

So I went to this tutorial at Retro Mama and made these little houses with Christmas fabrics. I have to say I like her fabric choices a lot better, but I started them with my Christmas bin of fabrics and they just turned out.

For Conal:

For Brennan:

For Dave (with Woodstock in the window):

And for me (yes, I wanted one too!):

They were really addicting and easy to make multiples of. I had to stop myself from sewing more of them and go play with my boys a bit!

If you want to get into Pinterest too or have already discovered the wonders…

Follow Me on Pinterest

Here’s another quickie project I did…by watching a video. They are just 4-strand braids in a ball, I’m going to add ribbons and make them into ornaments.

It’s still Christmas and the boys are happily playing with their new toys, I think I’ll go back to the studio! (Maybe I should clean up rather than making something this time, though!)

Merry Christmas!

December 25th, 2011 | Posted by Emma in Uncategorized - (1 Comments)

Merry Christmas, Friends!

I’ll be back later with a run-down of all the santa’s workshop gifts I made this season…but for now, just enjoying the holiday with my boys!