Wednesday, 15 February 2017

How to Catch a Frog Book Review

Review of "How to Catch a Frog: And Other Stories of Family, Love, Dysfunction, Survival, and DIY" by Heather Ross

I love this book! I am reading it for the second time right now. It is possible that I could be biased because I am a huge Heather Ross fan but I don't think so.

 

"How to Catch a Frog" is very well written and I easily relate to the author, Heather Ross, in the telling of her stories. There are times when she is telling a story from her childhood where my adult self, as a mother, wants to crawl into the book and comfort her and take care of her. There are other times where I feel annoyed with her for some of the decisions she makes as a young adult, which is not to say that I myself did not also make annoying decisions as a young adult, so that goes back to being able to relate to the author. It is a real life story with struggle and success and loss and newfound success.

As a creative person I find it very inspiring. I love this quote at the beginning of the chapter titled "How to Start a Children's Clothing Company" - Ross writes, "The absolute best time to start a business is when you have nothing to lose." Then she goes on to say, "Luckily for me, that was a long and protracted period of my life..." and this is followed by anecdotes about her generally dysfunctional mother and absent father.

The thing that is really cool about How to Catch a Frog: And Other Stories of Family, Love, Dysfunction, Survival, and DIY is it's overall concept. I don't think I've found another book like it! There are DIY projects throughout the book that are woven in with the stories. For example there is a time in the book where she is talking about surviving Hurricane Sandy and trying to keep her family warm by keeping the wood fire in their house going and at the end of that chapter are DIY instructions for creating coffee log fire starters.

The book has illustrations throughout in Heather Ross' style that many of us have come to love in her fabric designs. These illustrations are used to decorate the beginning of a chapter or to show how to do one of the DIY projects. Of course the cover is also illustrated and the inside cover design is a map of the area in Vermont where she grew up.

I recommend this book without hesitation. I bought my own copy (this is not a sponsored post) and I have provided Amazon links in this post to help you find your copy. This book was published in 2014 and if you haven't read it yet what are you waiting for?


 

Craftsy's Newest Fabric Line Flower Shop

Hello! I have received affiliate news from Craftsy that they have a new fabric line out called "Flower Shop." This is in their Boundless Fabrics. Isn't this quilt made with the new line cool?



It's definitely on my quilty bucket list. It's made with the Mirage Quilt kit designed by Janice Ryan of Better Off Thread.

Click here to find this quilt kit and others using this new Flower Shop line.


The Flower Shop line is available in several pre-cut options as well.


I just placed an order for Boundless fabric last night and I can't wait to tell you all about it when it gets here. It's already shipped so I'll be stalking my mail box! :)

Click here for the Quilter's Daily Deal. There's a new deal each day.

Happy shopping!

Note: this post contains affiliate links. For more information about affiliate links please see my "about" page.

Saturday, 11 February 2017

Quilts of the World Group Pinterest Board

Hello Quilters! See? I told you yesterday I would have something for the non-Canadians. :) I have created a "Quilts of the World" group Pinterest Board. Quilters all over the world are welcome to join.

Head to my Pinterest account to follow me. Quilters please email me at daydreamsofquilts {at} gmail {dot} com to request to join the board. Make sure you are emailing from your Pinterest email (the one you signed up under) so I can send you an invitation to join. Once you receive the invitation you just "accept" and start pinning your quilts to the board. Then we can all see them and get our quilts in front of new audiences.

I plan to create a few more group boards as I think of them so I will create blog posts when that happens.


Friday, 10 February 2017

Quilts Made in Canada Group Pinterest Board

Hi! This post is for Canadian Quilters :) Sorry non-Canucks! I will have something for you soon.

I am starting a group Pinterest Board called "Quilts Made in Canada" for Canadian quilters to pin to.

Head to my Pinterest account to follow me. Canadian quilters please email me at daydreamsofquilts {at} gmail {dot} com to request to join the board. Make sure you are emailing from your Pinterest email (the one you signed up under) so I can send you an invitation to join.

I plan to create a few more group boards (not necessarily Canadian specific) as I think of them so I will create blog posts when that happens.


A Winner to Announce and Craftsy Class Event News

Hello! Rafflecopter picked a winner on the Studio 39 Fabrics fat quarter bundle giveaway using the Random Number Generator and the winner is Christi from USA! Congratulations to Christi who has emailed me her mailing information.


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Craftsy has a Class event starting right now and running through the weekend. All new classes under $20! This ends Sunday Feb. 12th at midnight. Affiliate links below.

Click Here to shop this event.

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FRESH FROM THE STUDIO
Two more classes to share! 33% off* Craftsy's newest classes.
 
Join intimate apparel sewer Beverly Johnson, aka your Fairy Bra-Mother, and gain the skills to sew a variety of popular shapewear styles for a sleek, smooth appearance under any garment.

Click Here for this class.


Join accomplished wildlife artist Alan Woollett as he guides you through drawing a detailed, lifelike bullfinch using colored pencils.
Click here for this class.

*Get 33% off select Craftsy classes. Limit one per customer. Cannot be combined with any other coupons. Expires March 10, 2017. Eligible classes include: Colored Pencil Bird Portraits, Sewing Shapewear: Construction & Fit.

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Patchwork Heart Quilted Pillow for Valentine's Day Using Half Square Triangles Detailed Tutorial for Beginner Quilters

Let's make a cute quilted heart pillow for Valentine's Day!


Half Square Triangle quilted patchwork pillow by Daydreams of Quilts.

This tutorial was published a few years ago but I've given it a refresh. This post contains affiliate links - for more on affiliate links please see my "About" page.


Supplies Needed:

45mm Rotary Cutter
Omnigrid 6-Inch-by-24-Inch Quilter's Ruler
Self-Healing Rotary Mat
OLFA 12" Rotating Self-Healing Rotary Mat (optional)
red fat quarter bundle or scraps
 low volume fat quarter bundle or scraps
Creative Grids Quilting Ruler 2 1/2" Square (optional)
15 inch pillow form (optional)

 Gather your red scraps or fat quarters. I have some fat quarters in the photo above but I only cut one three inch strip off of them. If you prefer to use up scraps that is perfectly fine. I chose fabrics that are all the same colour value to give my heart a uniform look. Or you could lay them out from dark to medium to light (or reverse the order) in your layout and make an ombre heart. You also need some white or Low Volume (LV) scraps or white fat quarters, some fabric for the back of the pillow, about a quarter of a yard to half a yard, some batting (about a 18 inch square piece) and a 15 inch pillow form. (Or make your own pillow form.)


 Trim up the edge of your fat quarter so you are starting with a straight edge to measure from.

 Trim a three inch strip from your white/low volume fabric (or cut 3" squares from scraps).

You need 5 three inch squares for the parts of your heart where there are half white and half red HSTs (half square triangles).


 Sub cut the 3 inch strip into 3 inch squares as above.

You also need thirty-four 2 1/2 inch white/LV squares for your background.


 Do the same with your red fat quarters or scraps. You need twenty-five 3 inch red squares.


Draw a diagonal line on the back of each 3 inch white square and on the back of ten 3 inch red squares. I put my fabric on sandpaper to do this to keep if from sliding around and distorting while I'm pulling the pencil along it. If you use a Pilot FriXion Point Erasable Gel Pen you do not need the sandpaper as the pen runs more smoothly on the fabric.


 Match up your five white squares with five red squares right sides together and match up your remaining red squares into pairs right sides together. Sew a quarter inch down either side of your pencil line. You may find it easier to put a piece of tape on your machine at the quarter inch mark and line up the points of your squares with that.


I sewed one at a quarter inch and then decided to move my tape over one tick to the scant quarter inch line because I was working with such small pieces and I wanted more trimming room. (I ripped the quarter inch seam out and replaced it with a scant quarter inch seam.) It's up to you and what you prefer with your own machine.


Here you can see the corner and pencil line lined up with the tape.


Chain piece your squares through the machine. Just keep feeding them in one after another. This saves time and thread.


Here is one going under the presser foot right after the one before it without cutting thread.


On the last square cut your threads and pull your chain out from behind your machine and feed it through again to sew down the other side of the line.


Clip the seams between your pieces with embroidery scissors or a thread cutter.


 Give each set a little press with the iron to set the seams.


Line up your ruler on the pencil line. I like to line up the quarter inch line on one of the seams to make sure I am making an accurate cut. Then cut down the centre of your pencil line with your rotary cutter.

Here we have two HST units now after cutting down the pencil line.


Press your seams to the dark side (or you can press them open if you prefer as these triangles can bulk up the seam allowance further on in the project). Line up your square on your grid mat with your diagonal seam lined up on one of the 45 degree lines on your mat. If you have a Creative Grids Quilting Ruler 2 1/2" Square it is easier. I got one after this tutorial and I love it! A OLFA 12" Rotating Self-Healing Rotary Mat is also helpful at this step because you can rotate the mat to cut all sides of the square without moving the fabric or ruler. I bought one and it is now indispensable when sewing HSTs.


Square up all four edges of your square to 2 1/2 inches.


In the photo above you can see the bottom square is lined up with the seam on the 45 degree line on the mat. (The little black arrow is pointing to help show this.)This allows you to cut your square so that it is squared up on that centre seam. The square on the top left is the one where I forgot to do that and my seam is not in the corner (little circle is showing my mistake).


When you are finished trimming all your blocks you will have a little pile of trimmings like this and all your HSTs will be all lovely and squared up. This step is tedious but important and fortunately there are not too many to trim for this project.


 Lay out your HSTs to create a heart and then surround them with your 2 1/2 inch white/LV (low volume) background squares. You should have 8 rows of 8 squares each. Stack your squares one on top of the other moving from left to right and number each stack from 1 to 8 so you don't get mixed up taking them to your sewing machine.

Sew one row at a time pressing your seams in opposite directions. I pressed row one to the right and row two to the left and so on. This creates locking (or nesting) seams and helps your squares line up better when you sew them together. I pinned at each intersecting seam even though they were nesting because these triangles can be tricky to keep lined up when they are going through the machine. I sewed row one to row two and then pressed that seam open. Then sewed row three to row two and pressed that seam open and so on. At this point I found it was better to press seams open than to the side because there was a lot of bulk where the corners met up.


When you are all finished sewing your rows together you should have something like this! :) Mine measured 17 x 17 inches.


Here you can see that I have seams going in opposite directions on the back and then the row seam is pressed open. Layer your quilt top with batting and a muslin backing and quilt it how you would like on your machine. I just used simple stippling for my quilting. I used red thread on the heart and cream thread on the background. You don't have to put the muslin on the back but I didn't want all the lint from the batting going down into my feed dogs and filling up my machine. My quilt top was 16.5 inches by 16.5 inches after quilting.


Choose some fabric for the back of your pillow. I cut two pieces 10 inches by 18 inches. If you cut carefully you could get away with using a fat quarter for this.


Fold a long edge over half an inch and press. Fold half an inch again and press again. Do this to the other piece as well.


Top stitch down the edge of your pieces to create your hem.


Put your quilted top face up and your pillow back pieces face down with the hems overlapping.


 Pin all the way around to hold everything together.


Sew a half inch seam (or quarter inch if you prefer) all the way around twice. Remove pins as you go. Trim your corners so you can get them nice and square when you turn your pillow cover right side out.


 Insert your 15 inch pillow form and enjoy!


Here is the view of the back. This project took me about six hours from start to finish but I was stopping along the way to take photos so you might get yours done quicker.

Happy sewing and Happy Valentine's Day! :)