Monday, March 31, 2014

frogging it

Have you ever had one of those days when you were sewing along nicely, and then you realized you did something really stupid? That happened to me the other day!

Some of your might know or remember seeing this quilt featured in a picture about acronyms. It is a quilt I designed for my niece with 1/2 yard cuts she picked out. I put together most of the quilt while I was away on my quilting retreat in a convent. I started quilting it a with 50 weight 100% cotton thread; I normally use straight polyester for simple sewing. Well, dumb me, when I started quilting, I completely forgot about that! And needless to say, I forgot to check my bobbin tension! If you know what happened, please raise your hand. My thread was not pulled all the way through to the back of the quilt. It looked perfect on the front and was just floating on the top of the quilt backing!

Now, this quilt does not have to be perfect. I know that. I can get pretty particular about certain things, but when the quilting doesn't hold the quilt together, it just ain't gonna hold! OOps...a little southern accent is showing through today. Did I mention we ate barbecue spare ribs with homemade creamy coleslaw on the weekend? That must have done it. ;-)

Since I am doing very little quilting on this one, it has to hold all three layers. What to do? I put this quilt on hold for a while trying to get my other projects done, because when you have a brain fart like I did, you simply have to put it aside and come back when you have forgiven yourself! My deadline was the first week of April, but better right than not. I pulled it back out today and started the ever dreaded process of "frogging it." Do you know what I am talking about? Rip it, rip it, rip it. For those of you who don't know this phrase, it means that you take your beloved seam ripper, my best friend, and rip those seams out by cutting through every fourth stitch to remove the thread. On the other side, you can usually pull the thread out in one long pass. I have to rip about 75% of what I quilted which is about 1/4 of the quilt. I am going to have so much fun!

Now, we would like to hear from you! What do you do on days like this? Please leave a comment and tell us all about it.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

north pole sal - elves recreation center

Well, it is that time again. It is the last Wednesday of the month - time to show my latest block for Val Spiers - Welcome to the North Pole Sew-A-Long. I am very pleased with my new block. Some things that helped me were:
  1. Staying within a color wheel segment and not jumping around.
  2. Using the same ideas from my initial block such as the snow, the dark roofs, background and gray windows.
  3. Initial pre-planning this block when I finished the first block.
  4. Fixing my due date and sticking to it.
Okay, you can see that some of the fabrics I didn't use, but I had to try out three different doors until I got the one I liked the best.

I managed to crank this block out in a relatively short period of time. I am so proud of myself! ;-) I didn't dilly-dally like I usually do - contemplating if I should use this fabric or that one - just the door. And the gray looks better now that I have two blocks finished. Thank you, Katrin. I should trust my first instinct and not second guess.

If you haven't joined up to this SAL, and you have the book, it would be awesome if you could join us. I am not much of a hand appliquéist but you don't have to hand appliqué it. The machine works just as well! I am leaving my options open for the moment.

This is turning out to be such a great experience. And look, you can make a wall hanging with bright and cheery colors that you can hang up all year long! How great is that?

Thank you for dropping by. New viewers and readers are warmly welcome! Don't forget to sign up for updates via Google, bloglovin, or a simple email.

Monday, March 24, 2014

got internet radio?

As I was sewing yesterday, I thought I would treat myself to some Internet radio. I don't usually do this, because I like to keep up with the current time and local issues. Most days you would find me listening to Top 40 Music on SWR3 or Radio7 - the local stations here. Since my family bought me an Internet radio last year for my birthday, I should put it to good use. I quickly scanned the Net for a current hits station and found 102.1 The Wave coming out of Florida with more music and less commercials.

Well, there really isn't that much different between what I listen to here, and the Top 20/40 in the United States. The advantage here is I get to listen to songs in more languages than just English. It is true that most of the popular music is in English but we don't limit ourselves.

When I first moved here, I thought it strange that most of what you hear on the popular radio stations is in English. Why do Germans listen to American songs and American Top 20? Don't they have their own music and own singers? Yes, they do!

The United States is b-i-g. What is the population now 300 million? Songs recorded in English are plugged more often and are targeted for the world market. German would primarly be marketed for Germany, Switzerland and Austria.

I do not like "Schlager" music - as it was explained to me, German Country. This isn't true either. It is actually very light music that is sung in German with light topics and beat. The music is usually played back or lip synced when you see it performed in shows or on television. Playback for me has always been a disappointment.

Naja, we do have good mainstream music but not to the extent of American. Sometimes, we like to even import singers from other countries to make good music. (I am talking about Rea Garvey - he's one of my favorite imports!) Mainstream German music is evolving and getting better. Here is just a small sample of some of our really great singers and groups!

Tim Bendzko - Nur noch kurz die Welt retten
Xavier Naidoo - Ich kenne nichts
Eisblume - Bis zum letzten Atemzug
Max Mutzke - Sommerregen
Revolverhead featuring Marta Jandova - Halt Dich an mich fest
Jupiter Jones - So still

So now I am curious. Do you listen to music when you sew? If you do, tell us what type of music you listen to. Share a local or Internet station with us, so we all can listen to it too!

Thank you for sharing!

Friday, March 21, 2014

it's a mod/mod world

Good morning everyone. I am so happy today; the sun is shining AGAIN! This has been a really incredible year. Although most of you in the United States have had a really hard winter with lots of snow, we in Germany have had one of the most mild winters ever. It was great. And now, spring has come early contrary to last year; spring arrived in late May. Every day last week the sun shined! And we have been blessed with several days this week. It can't get any better than this!

It's a Mod/Mod World is my quilt sampler I am making with the MOD/MOD QAL at Block Lotto. I have yet to show any of my blocks and have been working diligently. I now have my first three months completed and here it is.

My daughter helped with the first chevron block. I thought we were going to make the whole sampler together, but it got a little more challenging. We do not know what blocks Sophie has lined up for us in advance, but we are given a layout. (Sophie is a really great host and blogger. She writes all of the block instructions that are easy to follow and simpler to sew together.) You can choose from several different sizes, and I have chosen the smallest - measuring about 40" square. This way, I can learn new blocks and get away with just making the minimum number. I also am enjoying making the different sizes that join up in the end. I think my chevron is a little small, and I may have to rip it apart and resew to get the right dimensions.

I was supposed to make three bead blocks, but just made two the get the technique. I might make an additional one, and I might not. We'll see later.

I sewed the last block together this week - the Star Chain Block at the BlockLotto. The white areas are given as green, but since I have an abundance of Kona Snow, I thought it best to save the prints and use this yummy turquoise gradient as my chain. Can you tell it is lighter in the middle and gets darker on the corners? It is very subtle.

I recognize that I am getting a little powered out by the seven different QALs and exchange programs I have entered this year. BUT, I like my progress. It gives me incentive to keep going. What are your thoughts on this? Do you enjoy participating in a QAL? What are your blockades or hurdles? I would like to hear from YOU! Remember, you can write in English or German - I understand both, but am just too lazy to write in German. It gives me more time to sew. ;-)

And, don't forget, if you have made something in preparation for Christmas, don't forget to join in the Ho, Ho, Ho and on We Sew Linky Party on the previous post for your chance to win a prize. We are looking forward to seeing your creations!

Sewingly yours,

Sunday, March 16, 2014

easy pyramid egg warmer - a free tutorial

Are you looking for that perfect little quick gift for someone especially for a birthday or Christmas? How about this adorable pyramid egg warmer that will cheer anyone up. It even makes a quick addition to your Easter table. Here is a tutorial that will show you how to make the cutest egg wrap from triangles in less than one hour!

First of all, if you are not familiar with me, my name is Karen. I am an American living in Germany and that for the past thirteen years! I love designing patchwork and most of what you see on my website is/are originals. I love working with EQ7 and doing improv as well. The best ideas and creations evolve when you improv it. My patterns can be found at the Moda Bake as well as Craftsy. My philosophy is the SEP approach - simple, easy, practical. I try to find ways to make it faster and simpler so I have time for other playing with my kids!

I am hosting MY first ever Linky Party for Ho, Ho, Ho and on We Sew organised by two fabulous ladies - Paula from Mud, Pies and Pins and Fiona over at Celtic Thistles Stitches. (Don't forget to check out their tutorials below.) This is the third month of their fabulous party celebrating getting ready for Christmas, getting organised and slowly building up a stash of finished projects for that very stressful holiday season. We have one whole year to prepare, so have fun with it!

January Post from Paula - Mud, Pies and Pins - Fabric Tree Decorations
February Post from Fiona - Celtic Thistles Stitches - Coffee Lover's Set

There is an awesome giveaway this month from Cindy at Fluffy Sheep Quilting - a wonderful holiday assortment of Perle 8 coloured DMC threads. Fiona already has this pretty selection packaged and ready to send to you, if you win! All you have to do for your chance to receive this beautiful prize is link up through the linky party at the bottom of the post. A random winner will be selected - computer generated of course....nothing unfair about it. Show us what you have created and finished up this month in your preparation for Christmas 2014.      

I would also like to thank all of the sponsors who have donated prizes for the entire duration of the Ho, Ho, Ho and on We Sew Link Up Party. You make our hearts sing with excitement by allowing up to fulfill our dreams of creating and sewing by providing incentives and rewards for our hard work! THANK YOU!

And now on to the tutorial. You can download a PDF file from my patterns page.

Materials Needed
Assorted prints and solid fabrics
Vliesofix F220 (or other thin) Stabilizer
4¼ ” or 11cm Elastic Band or Ribbon
Triangle Ruler or 60° Angle

Cutting Instructions and Assembly
  • Using a 60° Triangle ruler, roughly cut three 4¼" or 11cm triangles from your print fabric (measuring from the tip of the triangle to the bottom middle). Bond stabilizer to the back of the fabric according to directions. Cut to actual size.
  • Cut three - 3¾ inch or 10 cm triangles from solid fabric.
The inner triangles will be smaller to accommodate the finished edge on the bottom. If you cut them the same size, just trim them a little smaller later like I did.

Stack your first two triangles right sides together (RST). Insert your elastic band so that the short end is on the right and the long end is on the left. Start ¼ inch from the edge, backstitch, making sure you catch the band and sew to the end of the triangle.

Grab your unsewn outer triangle and sew to one of the original two triangles starting from the edge and sew into the corner. Sew until you reach ¼ “from the edge and backstitch.

Take the other end of the elastic band and sandwich it in-between the first and last triangle you sewed.  Sew from the end into the corner backstitching ¼" from the corner. 
Clip the tips and pull through.

Make your inner solid fabric triangles in the same manner.
Flip right sides out and clip seam allowance to 1/8th of an inch.

Insert inner triangle making sure seam allowances are hidden inside.
Fold outer triangle over inner triangle about ¼".
Sew along the outer edge 1/8th of an inch.

Finished! Now you can go into production and make thousands of these for your friends and families.

Don't forget, we are counting on your to link up and show us all the great stuff you are making for Christmas whether gifts or decorations. You will automatically be entered for a chance to win the prize listed above. Good luck!

An InLinkz Link-up

The linky party remains open until 23.59GMT on March 31st, so there still is plenty of time for you to join in the fun.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

5 tips for better fancy folded stars

Hello everyone. I am back again to talk about the fancy folded star first published by Maria Wallin at You can find the German translation here. This technique has stayed with me, and I can't stop making it. I first made a demo for our quilting group, and now we are incorporating it into our 20th patchwork group anniversary quilts. So, I made a fourth fancy folded star from a collection of fabrics that I will be using for that quilt. I photographed some steps that I may have forgotten before to pass on.

1. Use less fabric to make fewer rays. I first made the Fancy Folded Star with eight different fabrics and eight rays. After that, I reduced to six! Reduce to four or five if you want to. It makes it less bulkier and easier to handle.

2. Pick really contrasting fabrics, small print, TOT or solids of different hues or colors. In the beginning, you just sort of pick out fabrics and think they might be contrasting, but pull out your color wheel or use a color that wouldn't normally go with the color scheme. It will make your star pop out. Arrange your fabrics to imagine how they will work to create a star.

Below, the bottom right (with white first) produces a higher contrast. I wanted the contrast, but I achieved this in my very first star. This time, I wanted the turquoise radiating from the middle. I also wanted the larger print on the outside which creates a more modern feel and swirling effect. Sometimes, it is just a complete surprise.

3. Be accurate! A friend of mine said this star was good for people who are accurate and less likely to be precise in their sewing. There is actually very little sewing involved here, so your measurements have to be right. Make sure you measure the distance of your rectangles and is exactly 0,5cm or 1/4" between them in the center where the sewing line will intersect all fabrics. Also, some of us have some wonky rays that are longer than the others - I have this problem too! Why would this happen? On my very first star, I drew the line exactly in the middle (5cm from each side) before I laid it on the foundation and sewed. Even on this star, I drew the line afterwards but was still measuring 5cm from each side when lining up most of the middles. Try it and see the difference!

4. Pull those rays taut or tight but not stretched. There should be no folds or puckers in the fabric but try to to warp the foundation piece. I usually pinned down between folding the rays on just one side. Don't forget to take the pins out when you put the next one in.

And don't forget to push the folded fabric all the way into the crack of the seam and press! You will get a better fold.

5. Make sure your center is evenly lined up! This part is really hard, but do it. Make sure that every pair of fabric bundles butt up against each other when you sew. Do not let it ripple in the middle or fold over. The very last picture below looks like it is lined up, but the pairs are not flush! They are a millimeter (or more) off.


I hope this is a good help for you. If you have a tip about the Fancy Folded Star, please add it in the comments section. We would all like to learn from it.

The ladies from my quilting group brought their new fancy folded stars at our monthly meeting this week to show me what they have created, and I didn't have my camera with me!! They are so creative!! Every single one is so different. they all chose a different way to frame them. I am so excited to show them to you soon...until then...keep sewing and folding!


Tuesday, March 11, 2014

a simple striped bowl

Today I sewed together my third Sew Kitschy block featured as a free BOM from Quiet Play. This simple foundation BOM starting to become a real challenge for me, and it shouldn't. I think it is because I am torn about the fabrics. I totally love the turquoise and red of the layout and wanted to recreate it, BUT I decided that I was NOT going to buy more fabric just to sew it together. A girl has got to draw the line somewhere! According to my accountant, my fabric expenses could soon be frozen. What peeked my interest about this collection of blocks, was the fact that the wallpaper/background used large prints. This looks great, but is extremely hard to sew together without making a lot of templates and fussy cutting!

When I started this block, I went back to the original fabrics I had chosen; I did not have the bright turquoise blue planned that I used in the first two blocks. However, the use of an unexpected color always make the objects pop out. If I take it out, it won't be in tune with the original Sew Kitschy, but it would become unique. And that is what it should be for and unique. Take it and make it yours!

I am playing with the idea of removing the bright turquoise blue from the first two blocks. I will decide that later. Right now, I just want to have some fun sewing.

Here is my third block. It is a little less contrasty than the others without the bright turquoise. It almost looks pale! (Reminder to myself....don't concentrate on the individual block, but the entire whole.)

Thank you for dropping by and reading my blog! I simply love to hear what you have to say, so leave a comment or two!

Happy Sewing,

P.S...I removed the Mini Plus Challenge due to lack of interest - on both sides!