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Welcome Spring!

Artfully Quilted Design LLC "Brown Bunny" Fusible Laser Cut Applique

This year, I am so happy to put winter behind us, and move forward to spring!  It seems like most of my family and many of my friends have had bugs of one kind or another off and on all winter, including myself.   But spring is here, and I welcome it with open arms!

To me, spring means change…  The sun comes out from behind the clouds more often.  The grass turns from brown to green.   The bare branches of the trees start to show color, greens and pinks and yellows and whites.  The snowblower gets put away and the rakes and shovels come out.

And then there is new life!   We have a farm close to us that raise sheep, and I am waiting for the sight of the dozens of newborn lambs that will soon be in their pasture.  The birds are nesting and getting ready to lay their eggs.  Soon the chipmunks will be out of their winter holes and on my front porch to taunt my dog.  🙂

Another new thing?   Two new kits to honor spring!!!

The first is the “Brown Bunny”, pictured at the beginning of this article.  This beautiful bunny is 12 ½ high X 12 wide and is a simple kit to put together.  This would make a lovely medallion center for a baby quilt and would look great on a door hanging, wall hanging, or table runner.

The second new kit is “Watercolor Flowers” Scatterings.  This kit contains fusible laser cut flowers, four each of 2”, 1¾”, and 1¼”, plus sixteen 1” and twelve 1¾” leaves.  These work great in little arrangements on the border of a quilt, in the corner blocks, or scattered on top of a quilt, wall hanging or table runner.  They could even be used on child’s clothing.

Artfully Quilted Design LLC "Watercolor Flowers" Scatterings

I hope this has inspired you to bring some spring into your home!

Happy sewing!

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Life Lessons from a Mystery Quilt

The “Good Fortune” Mystery is finished!  Well, kind of…  Except for that one little square that I need to rip out…  now that it is sewn into the quilt.   That I didn’t even see until I took this picture.   And now that I have seen it, I can’t unsee it.   (Big sigh.)  And of course layering and quilting and binding.

I have learned many life lessons while finishing the quilt top this last couple of weeks.  I have had more time to reflect on the process, and here is the result:

  • Trust the Designer. As I worked on this, knowing only what I was to do on that particular week, I could not see the big picture.  I could not see how all these little pieces were going to fit in the big scheme of things, or even if they were going to fit together:  little squares, bigger squares, rectangles, smaller rectangles.  How on earth is this all going to come together to make one beautiful quilt?   But I knew the reputation of Bonnie Hunter.  I had looked at photos of her quilts over the years, and knew they were beautiful, so I kept working at those odd pieces, trusting that they would come together and be beautiful.  I happen to believe that we have a Designer as well.  There is a plan for our lives.  Sometimes we don’t understand why today, or this week, or even this year has to shape up like it does.  Sometimes we don’t really like the color we have been handed.  But we know the reputation of our Designer.  We know that He makes all things beautiful and that in the end it all fits together.  So trust in the Designer, and trust that somehow, someway they will all come together and be beautiful.   Jeremiah 29:11  
  • Be Diligent. One of the things that makes this quilt so special is the small pieces: the little squares that make chains throughout the quilt, the small rectangles that make up the sawtooth borders, the little checkerboards in the centers of the red and orange squares.  Not a big piece in sight!  I have to admit, if I had seen this pattern in a magazine, I probably would have laid it aside, saying, “Too much work.  Too many pieces.  I don’t have time for all that piecing.”  And I would have never done it.  But I didn’t see the big picture.  I was fed bite size pieces, just one little step sometimes repeated hundreds of times.  But doing the same thing over and over isn’t a big deal.  And then the process is repeated the next week with a different same thing repeated.  And then suddenly  the reveal!  I couldn’t believe that this pile of different blocks was all I needed for a beautiful quilt!  Life is like that as well.  We do the same thing over and over, day in and day out.   And then we are asked to learn a new thing, or a new way of doing the old thing and we do that over and over.  We don’t even think about why or what those things are going to lead to, we are just doing what we need to do.  And then the reveal!  Suddenly, after years, we realize that that skill learned while raising young children, and that lesson learned at work, and that talent that we unveiled, and the thing our boss asked us to do that we didn’t think we would ever be able to do (but did!), have all equipped us for a new stage of our life.  All those lessons and skills have turned us into the person that we now are.  It would have never happened if we had not been diligent in the small things each step of the way.  Isaiah 28:10 
  • Keep things straight. Can you just imagine what this quilt would look like if the blocks were just sewn together randomly…  An orange next to an orange, a sawtooth border running across the middle, the star blocks sewn together to not even slightly resemble a star?   It would be a mess!  But isn’t that how we try to live at times?   We just do what we feel, what we want or don’t want to do.  No discipline.  No thought of those around us.  We are just thinking of ourselves, doing what WE want.  And we end up with a mess, and then try to blame others.  We need to know there is a  plan, and then work the plan.  Keeping things straight, whether we feel like it or not.  (And sometimes rip out that little square and turn it a quarter turn, even though I don’t want to!)  That is the road to a life that I can sit back and look at from time to time, and smile at!  Proverbs 4:26  
  • It’s all about the value. I am not talking about one person being more valuable than another, or about money.  I am talking about the interest that is created in the quilt by the areas of neutral colors, next to the brightness of the oranges and reds, in contrast to the solidness of the blues and greens.  Our lives are like that too.  We need those neutral, thoughtful, sometimes full of introspection, or just calm times in our lives.  The problem is, if we sit in that place too long, we are boring or maybe even depressing.   We need the brightness of life, the times of joy, and laughter, and happiness to contrast with the neutral times.  And then there are the blues and greens.  The hard times.  The stoic times.  The solid, one step in front of the other times.  The just breathe times.  We need those to develop character and perseverance.  We need those to appreciate the calm times.  We need those to appreciate the bright and happy times.  And just when the blues and greens get too heavy, a bit of orange, a bit of red comes along to bring us cheer.  And it all works together to make our lives good, to make us more like our Designer.  Romans 8:28

I am going to miss working on “Good Fortune”, and the thinking about what to write about this quilt.  But alas, there are more projects on the horizon!   Come back again sometime and see what’s next!

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The Design Progresses… Slowly

My new design is still that… a design.  But progress IS being made!  I did make the prototype cut… a fancy way of saying that I have cut it out of poster board!  My designs fit together like a puzzle, and I am very picky about them fitting together perfectly.  When I first started making these for myself, I was cutting them out of the fabric with the fusible on the back, and then finding something I wasn’t happy with, and starting over.  I was raised by the “Waste not, Want not” rule and that was not acceptable to me, not to mention that it gets expensive!  Do you know that fusible is more expensive per square inch than good batik quilt fabric?  And I was throwing both away!?!?!   So I started trying to figure out a better way.  One day it clicked that poster board is cheap, relative to fabric with fusible, and works well to assemble a puzzle.  I have a pretty good grasp on how thin an area can be cut from fabric and still not fall apart when handled, so I can tell that the poster board as well.

So now the process is to cut the design out of poster board and work the puzzle.  I also quickly color the pieces with marker, just so it doesn’t get too confusing looking at a pile of white puzzle pieces.  The colors aren’t always right, but they do the job!  So, the puzzle is made, the fabric ordered, AND I get a backorder notice.  Grrr… but only until I could wrap my mind around it.

Okay, move forward and start the assembly instructions.  These take a LONG time to write, and I usually do them after making the initial kit to photograph, but I am too excited about this kit and don’t want to have to wait!   So now the instructions are written, and hopefully ready to go.  And I think this is going to change the order of my process!  While writing the instructions, I changed the order of a few pieces, as I “built” the kit on the computer.  This saved some back and forth in the assembly and simplified a few things.  I even eliminated a couple of pieces (this kit has a LOT of pieces!) that just did not seem necessary in light of my fabric choices.  I was able to change the cut files to match, eliminating even more steps.   So much better!   So once again, what started as frustration, turned into learning a better more efficient process.

Bring on the fabric, please!!!

Are you frustrated with a project?   Take a deep breath and move forward with what you can!

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Snowed In! And the Snow Hood Free Pattern

Oh, how I love a snow day!  Especially if I am truly snowed in and do not have to venture out.  Oh, and the electric stays on!  And all of the above applied yesterday, when for the first time in a couple of years we had our first official “snowed in” day.  Our sheriff had issued the proclamation:  No one on the roads except for emergency vehicles.  What better reason is there than that to stay home in comfy clothes and do something that you didn’t have time for before?

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The snow started Saturday, so I spent a large part of the day quilting.  I have the blocks all sewn together for Bonnie Hunter’s “Good Fortune” Mystery and have the first border added.  Piecing the second sawtooth border is tedious, but is going to look great.

We literally had church at home on Sunday, and attendance was high…  Our Pastor did a message from his home on Facebook Live.  He and his lovely wife were both in their PJs, as were the kids that stayed quiet and off screen most of the time.  And the message was very good.  And my husband and I watched on our computer, both in our PJs as well!  This was a first, I must say!

I started off the day mostly quilting and thinking about an upcoming sewing project that our pastor’s wife is organizing for missions.  It is utilizing the “Days for Girls” guidelines, although we are sending our packs to Haiti with a group going from our church.  This is a small drawstring bag that contains reusable fabric menstrual supplies.  Oh the things we take for granted!!!  Imagine not having anything like this at your disposal!  The ones we are making are wonderful and full of the potential for changing the recipient’s life!  If you are interested, visit DaysforGirls.org to learn more.

In the process of all this thinking (can you smell the smoke?  LOL), I made a call to a friend I have not talked to for awhile, but who had contacted me wanting to help with this project.  Of course, we had to catch up and discuss other things as well, and one of those things was the fact that my husband was outside with the snow blower.  One thing lead to another, and I started telling her about some fleece Snow Hoods that I had made a pattern for a few years ago, and have made for the men in our family since, and that he was wearing one now so I knew his face was protected.  She asked about getting a copy of the pattern.  At the time of the conversation, my pattern was hand drawn on interfacing.

So guess what I have been doing today?  I have now made the pattern official and made a snow hood (I have a thing about fleece remnants, so I did not have to leave the house.  Besides, they are simple to make.) so that I could take photos of the process, and the instructions are done and have been proofread and approved by my teacher daughter.   So here is my free gift to you… the Snow Hood pattern!  ArtfullyQuilted.com Snow Hood

My new design is ready for the prototype cut, which should happen Wednesday, when I have laser time scheduled.   The fabric is ordered, and it is supposed to be delivered tomorrow  if delivery can get through.  I can not tell you how excited I am about this kit!  There should be another good one close behind it as well.  Progress!

If you are snowed in, be wise and safe!   If you are not, take time to do something you don’t have time for, and be thankful!  And always find some time to be creative!

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Comparing Ourselves to Others

As I am assembling my “Good Fortune” blocks into rows and ultimately a quilt top, I am learning many things about quilting.  I listed some of those in my last post.  However, I have to admit that I am learning even more about myself.   In the posting of these blogs, and in the viewing the progress of others, I am reminded of what comparing myself to others can bring out of me.

You see, at the time I am writing this, I am seeing many photos online of totally finished quilt tops, complete with the beautiful borders that have been designed for them.  They are carefully laid out and photographed, with not a flaw to be seen.  Then I think of all the time I have spent with my seam ripper over the past couple of weeks, because in my haste to keep up with all the progress I am hearing about others making, I have made mistakes.  And I have been so busy trying to keep up, I haven’t even noticed my mistakes until I had to put it all together.  And it would not fit.

So rip out I did, because in order to make this beautiful quilt, it all has to fit.  Does that mean I am inferior?   Why can’t I be fast like the others?    Should I just pack it up and quit?

What I am forgetting, is that I only see what is happening in my life.   I only know the thoughts that go through my mind.  (And now you do too! )  I don’t see what others had to do to make theirs fit.  I don’t see what else they were doing in their lives when they were working on theirs.  I don’t see the flaws hidden in a fold of the top.  I only see what they are allowing me to see.

And so it is with all of life.  Life is a process, a journey.  You and I have to pursue that journey, learning as we go, ripping out the mistakes and starting over when needed.  Moving forward when we have no idea what all these pieces are going to look like when it is completed.  And most of all, relaxing and enjoying the journey, taking time to relish the learning, pass it along to others, and enjoy their company.  We have to remember that only we know what is in our minds.  And we can not judge others, because we do not see their fears, their thoughts, their insecurities.  We only see our own.

Thank you for joining in the journey of “Good Fortune” with me.  I hope you have been inspired to try something new, taking it one step at a time and trusting the process.

There is still time to download the instructions for this quilt from the “Good Fortune” website.   And by the way, I have assembled this one row.  I have many other bits and pieces together, but I am not sharing what they are.  And that is okay with me!  It is beautiful and I am enjoying the process.

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“Good Fortune” is Revealed!

I hope 2019 is getting off to a good start for you and your loved ones!   It is so hard to believe that time is marching by this quickly!   I remember when 2007 sounded so far off.   2019!!!

This week not only was the beginning of the New Year, but the reveal of Bonnie Hunter’s Mystery Quilt “Good Fortune”.  This is the first of her mysteries I have participated in.  I have thought about participating.   I have even downloaded the PDFs, but I have never actually done one.  Part of the reason why I have not is because of the time of the year.  Another big part was the fact that I was going to put that time into making a quilt that I had no idea whether or not I would like.  I admire Bonnie’s quilts.  I look through her website, and like 95% of them, but who knows about this one?   But. hey, scraps are accumulating and they have to go somewhere, right?

Well, I am super glad I did!   This quilt is going to be gorgeous!  And I have learned so much from her hints that I had not heard before, even though I have quilted for many years.

What have I learned?

  • Next time I will be more adventurous (yes, I said next time!) and stray a bit from Bonnie’s color palette.  If the color values remain the same, and the colors look good together, it should work.  I love what she picked, in spite of all the orange, but I would make it mine next time, and change the colors up, keeping in mind what color scraps I have in excess.
  • I had never heard about keeping the ruler line on the fabric and not on the cutting mat.  Just that extra “scant” when cutting makes a really big difference.
  • I learned that there IS a use for the strips of Christmas paper that you have left after wrapping gifts!   I used these for the foundation paper for the neutral rectangles.
  • I am still in amazement at all the planning that Bonnie Hunter has put into these.  I am not a pattern follower.  I love to put my own blocks together, and design them myself.   But I cannot fathom putting all of this together, right down to the direction to press every piece and have it all come out properly.   I have never done anything this intricate with this many pieces.
  • I learned to trust the authority, and blindly follow.  GULP!  I had no choice if I was going to do this.  I had no idea what the final goal was, other than a quilt.  (I like plans, and l like to work the plan!)  It was obvious I was working a plan, but I had no idea where that plan was going to lead.   Lots of good life lessons in that one!
  • Last but not least, I learned to slow down and enjoy the process.  I am a get it done person, who has trouble sitting still.  But when you know that you won’t know for a few days what the next step is, it takes some of the fire out of the “get it done”.   Why rush when you are going to be able to move on anyway?

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My Helper, Lucy, supervised while I removed the paper foundations.

Now I can’t wait to get the blocks together so that I can play with the beautiful borders!  If you haven’t gone to the website and looked at this beauty, or better yet, downloaded the free instructions, I would encourage you to click here!  The free instructions disappear the beginning of February.  After that, they will be incorporated into a pattern or book.

I saw this quip Willowlane Designs posted on Facebook, and thought I would share.  It pretty much sums up my hopes for this year!  (She has the prints for sale, as well as other goodies, so check her out!)

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