Intuitive Quilting Color Theory

" Wow, I would have never though about putting those fabrics together"  Sometimes this is said as a complement and sometimes not. 

Color is a very personal and subjective. My loud and garish is your peppy and happy. Your traditional might want to make my poke my eye out with quilting needle.

Of course there are all sorts of books you can read on the topic of color theory and quilting. Most are very well versed and honestly make my head hurt.

I FEEL color.

I am an intuitive color person. This often means I put together colors and patterns that others would never dream of and yet they often work ( granted sometimes only for me). As a child my color sense was called "quirky" which was code for "odd" and it vexed my "by the book" mother to no end.

On the other hand it tickled my father who was an artist.  He often let me play with all his special markers and pencils just sorting them into color groupings that pleased my eye. I would give each grouping a name and add a tag.. I was a strange little kid! 

For me it is not about colors "matching".. It is about colors and patterns that play off of each other.

It is also not about only using my "favorite" colors.. such quilts become insipid. But add a contrasting color/pattern and they can really sing!

Sewing from your stash means bringing your very own intuitive quilter out to play.  You might make different choices and that is ok.. the point is taking the risk to  see fabric in a different light and create something different than the next person.

The process.

 I started with this Kona panel made to look like pieced blocks that I am using for a stitch-practice panel. From there I added the outer brown border. In the photo the brown looks to be a match to the brown in the fabric but it is actually a couple of shades darker. 

This would have been a safe place to stop  but I wanted more punch to this piece so started pulling fabrics from my stash that had the right feeling. In this case the fabric had a overall greyed down feeling so bright clean colors were not going to work. 

 I tried something like 14 fabrics and narrowed it down to a few contenders.. this dot made the cut..  the feeling was right and I would have lived with it as a choice. The dots contrasted well with all the boxes in the fabric and the brown, yet another shade added another color dimension. Nice. Had I had more of this I might have used it for the back - but no dice so back in the stash it went.

I did not think I was going to like this one but in the end was really jazzing on it.. sadly the scale of the numbers and the amount of fabric I had did not work. I would have lost most of the impact of the numbers due to having to cut smaller strips to have had enough of this. --Anybody know what this number fabric is??.. I really like it.

This fabric .. well who knew, but  I do  know that it would not have been most people's choice but I really grooved on the contrast of the flowers and the geometric and how the pink of the flowers totally works with the pink in the panel.

Take a risk.. it is just quilting.

Want to see how I am quilting this?.. join me over on my Facebook page where I am posting updates!

How to Take a Decent Photo of Yourself

It was commented this week that there are a lot of photos of me on my blog/Facebook which I found funny since previous to this year I suspect you can gather up about 10 total photos of me either digtal or film.

I shunned the camera like a hooker shuns a tent revival.. I had bad hair, or I was fat or I had a zit, or or or... but then one day it hit me.. everyone knows I am fat, or had bad hair that day or whatever. Not letting myself into a photo was only protecting me from myself.. everyone else had to see me in all my glory every day.. they were not horrified by my photos so I figured I should just damn well get over it.

If my kids were going to have any record of who I was and what I looked like I was going to have to come out from behind the camera to actually be part of the shot on occasion.

Now all of this introspection does not mean I like a crappy photo any more than the next person so here are a couple of fast tips on getting a decent photo of yourself suitable for blog photos and avatars on places like Facebook.

 1) I am going to make the assumption that you are shooting your photo with your phone.. I do this a lot. Ansel Adams I am not.. my phone is usually with me more than my camera so that is what I use.

2) I assume on your phone you will have some sort of simple editing software - an App.  There are a ton of them from Instagram to Aviary, most have free versions to try out. They are quite fun and in Aviary you can fix blemishes and red eye in a flash.

3) Speaking of flash.. just don't. Like regular cameras flash is a real art. My rule is natural  light - no photo. ( Photo number 2 gets it's haunted cast from not enough light and a bad photo angle)

4) Angle is everything!!  don't shoot from down low unless your double chins are your best feature ( see photo 1 up there and say hello to my chubby neck and chin!)

5)  For your best shot, get out of the bathroom ( please) and face into a sunny but not glaring window, have your camera a bit up and also lift your chin a bit.. I know it will feel funny but your neck will smooth out and the light will diffuse fine lines and wrinkles and blow out the shadows making you look younger and more awake.

6) Take LOTS of photos... it is the best blessing of the digital age.

Ok.. now for fun take a great photo of yourself and come show it off over on Domestic Anarchy on Facebook.. share it on my wall!

Faux Pipped Pillow Cover

When trying out different quilting techniques I end up with a lot of pillow sized samples and once in a while I get off my tail and actually make some pillows with them!

Today's pillow  is being used to demonstrate how to insert an easy zipper for a class I am teaching.

I think that everyone knows how to make an easy pillow with a simple envelope back but when you add a zipper you can insert an even bigger pillow and have no fear of the back pulling open.

These simple pillows are fast but they lack the finishing details that are the hallmark of a really nice pillow.

Well detailed pillows can take more time. Pipping, ruffles and flanges double the time it takes to make a pillow and while worth it sometimes you just have a bit of time and want to make a quick project to decorate for the holidays.

When wanting a fast but finished looking cover I turn to my old stand-by the Faux Pipped Pillow .. easy peasy Mac and Cheesy  ( Yes I have children..why do you ask?)

1) Start by making a simple pillow cover and turn right-side out. ( I have my insert in this photo but you will NOT put in your insert yet)

2) Using a guided edge stitch foot and thread to match your pillow sew around the outside of the pillow 1/16 to 1/8 of an inch inward of the edge.

3) Go SLOW around the corners in a smooth arc.

Doing this will mimic the look of pipping around the pillow and give it a more finished appearance for only a small investment of time.

As a note I am using Premo-Soft thread by Fil-Tec.  I am really liking it so far.. a review very soon!

Quilting Lessons- A Painful Tale

Epic Wings
With each quilt I learn more.. some lessons are a joy and some are quite painful. Quilting is much like life so the tale of my backside is high irony to say the least.

At a time when my own backside is in the best shape it has been in almost 23 years, due to running 3x a week my quilting backside on Epic Wings has been laid low by an ego deflating  choice of the worst backing ever*.

There are no words.. really
And it was my choice, ALL MY FAULT.

Making this situation even sadder is that the front of this quilt is totally Bad-Ass if I do say so myself. I really stretched myself on this one and am really liking it.. thus the sadness of the the tragically ugly backside is even more acute.

If I could slip quietly into the past I would not make the late night choice to use something "from my stash" so I could start that very night.. I would wait and get a solid that would have made the most of the riot of stitches that grace the back of this work. But no, not me... grrrrrr.

So live and learn, while not the most important part of the quilt by a long shot.. your backside does matter.

* As a technical note there is nothing wrong with the fabric, just my choice of it for this quilt. the print does nothing whatsoever even though it actually went very well with the colors and circle motif on the front of the quilt.. just a poor choice based on how I quilted this particular piece - and I should have known better. 

Divide and Design DVD- a Review

Epic Wings- Maddie Kertay - Domestic Anarchy Studio 

"Quilting makes the quilt but great quilting design makes for amazing quilts" - Me

The truth is that a fantastic quilt top can be ruined by badly thought out or just boring quilting and some of the most deadly boring tops can be brought to life when creative quilting design is employed. 

Making a top is easy ( well not EASY) but there are WAY more tops hanging around the world then there are finished quilts and one of the reasons is that deciding on the right quilting for any given project can be a serious challenge.

Take that and add in today's expanding use of negative space and it can mean that instead of amazing quilting a lot of tops are not getting done or when they are they are getting little better than a big stipple out of a lack of inspiration when it comes to all the wide open space. 

Enter a cure!- Last week I happened on the  via a quilt that captured my interest on Pinterest.  I was quickly  impressed by Lisa's work as well as some of the products she has brought to market, including Quilters Groove rulers  and  her newest  class via- video -  Divide and Design: The Cure for Quilters Agoraphobia 

I really enjoyed this video.. with a thoughtful presentation, nice camera work and a peppy pace Lisa takes you through the Divide and Design process from beginning to finished quilt in a way that makes her process open and accessible to the confident beginner or to the seasoned quilter looking for a new way to approach design. 

The DVD course is well over an hour and at less than $25 this is such a bargain since you can watch it over and over again to refresh your skills or glean even more tips that you might miss the first time through. 

As I watched the video I was excited to use Lisa's technique when thinking about my newest quilt that I had just started. Epic Wings was a quilt with a beginning but no plan for quilting until after I watched the video and started my own Divide and Design process. In fact I had to rush and finish piecing the top so I could start her  design process for my own quilt.

If there were just one thing I would add to Lisa's amazing product it would be some printable B&W quilt top sample files so that you can practice her technique right away and maybe with that some other samples of how she envisioned those tops so as a person new to the technique you could then compare your own to what she did and learn from that. 

Perhaps in future editions of the video she will have something like that or perhaps an add -on package or download in the near future.  In any case I could not be more pleased with what  I learned and hope at some point to meet Lisa at a quilting show and maybe even to take further classes from her, and I don't say that very often! 

Did I mention I all bought all of her Quilters Groove Rulers as well?... I hope to use them soon and promise to report back.

* this was a non- compensated review, no money or product was exchanged in trade for my review of this product. 

The World Needs More Bad Ass Quilters

 The world needs more bad ass quilters. The world of quilting needs more voices that sing higher and lower and longer than those who trod the safe path of neutral  artistic lives that are meant to offend or excite no one.

 We need diverse voices, styles and opinions that let the world at large see that quilting and needle arts are not just for those who sit in rocking chairs but for those that rock climb and pole dance and march to their own drummer.

I happen to know quite a few very bad ass quilters, quilters doing ~ Epic Shit~ ( that is for you McLisa) and pushing the envelope of this medium every day. These people light my fire and help me be a truer version of myself every day.

And while these bad ass wonders are making a name for themselves within the quilting community the world at large still thinks we are all a bunch of mirthless duds who stitch because we have nothing more exciting to do in our lives let alone anyone to talk to.

Wouldn't the world at large be shocked to hear our rowdy if not down right obscene conversations innuendos and  hysterically lurid thoughts when we take a break from our big and small machines and gather in person or via Facebook or other online mediums?  Or how about the things and lengths we go to to support each other, raise money and make the world a better place? We are like others quilters we are just more bad ass while doing it.

For myself I am really tired of people making grand and sweeping assumptions about who I am based on the fact that I quilt and sew and then being shocked and offended when I don't meet their expectations.

 I am tired ( and saddened) when advertisers decide not to work with me because I post about sex or pop off with the F-word on occasion..but you know what it is who I am. I am a mother and a lover, a friend and a teacher. I am a  socially liberal, gay loving, baby nursing, homeschooling, socially aware, can swear like a sailor woman.  Not to mention a bad ass quilter who will not spend anymore time trying to be sweet and nice for the sake of not offending .. since honestly is makes me really cranky trying to edit myself in those ways.

For the occasion of this  proclamation I have made myself a t-shirt... if you need one too please pop over to the BAQS store at Printfection .

Want to hang with other Bad-Ass quilters?  Come over to the BAQS facebook page ( rather a mess right now but come visit anyway!)

  and  Bad Ass Quilter among other things.

Runners Hair Rescue - Argan Oil

I  know I am possibly the last person on the planet to the Argan Oil Party  but in case I'm not I thought I would share my experience with using Argan oil on my rather desperate hair.

The fact of the matter is that running has been hard on my hair.  Sweating, time up in a pony tail and too frequent washing added to already hormone stressed hair has meant brittle rough hair that I was seriously thinking about getting cut short once again (gasp!)

I had gotten lots of advice on the matter, everything from the whole Poo-free thing to avocado hair masks but to be quite honest I was not up for adding yet another "thing" to my life so when I saw the Argan oil while cruising the lanes at Target I threw it in the cart hoping for the best. 

Yep, I cut off 5 inches and it is still quite long.

Well hap-hap Happy day!  My hair LOVES the Argan oil. It could not be simpler to use, just massaging it in after a simple towel dry and before I blow out my hair. Not heavy or greasy it absorbs into my hair like a dream leaving it thick, soft and very easy to style.

I could not be happier - no more thoughts of cutting it all off which is good since it took me 4 years to grow it out from this.

Sweater Dressing for Style and Comfort

 I got up.. and I feel GREAT!!  How many times do you hear that?.. well it took me a moment to understand it was sleeping with the open window, cool night breezes and a decided nip in the morning air... Holy freaking pumpkins.. Fall really is going to come!

And while by the end of today it will be in the 80's the cool air has me all excited about getting to wear some of the best looking and most comfortable clothes in my wardrobe.

I am talking sweater dresses, cotton tights and boots!

Thanks to Ployvore I put together this little peek at what I am sure will be my uniform of the colder months.

So amazingly comfortable, easy to wear and it just looks great from morning until night.

This look can be dressed up or down depending on what you need.

To Dress it up
1) Try pantyhose (yes)
2) Ballet flats
3) Fitted jacket/blazer

To Dress it down -
1) Cotton tights or leggings
3) Boots
4) big scarf

 Thinner girls can get away with the chunkier weight sweater dresses and those of us with a more generous figure really rock the lighter weight knits that skim over the body but don't add any bulk.

This look is a no brainer that you can put on in the dark and still look fantastic- never worn a sweater dress?. Give it a try!

Are you ready for Sweater Weather??

Five Fast Ways to Find Time To Sew

There is not a week that passes that someone tells me that they " so wish they could sew, but just don't have the time" - well pardon my French - Bullshit. If you want to do something bad enough you will find the time.  With as little as 15 minutes you can put in a zipper, pin up a hem or piece part of a quilt block. Little by little each project will get done and that feels amazing!

Here are my top 5 ways to find time to sew and craft. 

1) Set up a dedicated area or at least flexible storage that makes setting up and breaking down fast. Be creative, if you only use those "good dishes" 1 time a year pack them away and use the dinning room hutch to store your supplies.

2) Get up early - yeh I know, this one sort of sucks but I am amazed at how nice and quite the house is at 6am before my crew is up. I can often score an hour or more of sewing before I head out to run.

3) Pick some nights for VERY EASY dinners - like crock pot soup and a loaf of bread then use that time to sew.

4) Use online resources wisely. Everything from fabric to time can be bought on the internet thus saving you time that could be better used  for sewing.  I use ALICE  for all of my annoying but non-pressing sundry shopping needs saving a ton of time and gas in the process.  I am also making big puppy eyes at Time Dog for all the things they can do for me.. like gathering quilt show information. Finding me events and locations when I travel. It is like having your own private secretary who does not get PMS and take overly long lunch breaks!  These things save me time.. Time I can be sewing.

5) Get off the computer and back away from the TV. The average american spends 151 HOURS watching tv each month.. that is just TV.. just let that sink in..151 HOURS that that does not even count computer time - unless you watch NO TV,  you have time to sew.

 Now all you have is a choice since pretty much there are no more excuses.

What do you think you could do to make time for something you really want to do or try?

8 Steps to Building Your New Look

Today I am going to talk about clothes, about clothes and getting dressed. I am speaking as a mother, a homeschooler and a quilt artist since I have noticed a common thread that runs through all of these things and I am venturing into some murky water here with the statement that a hell of a lot of us could be looking a lot better than we do when we are out in public.

The fact is that as artists, mothers, homeschoolers we are walking billboards for what we do. How we project ourselves to the world is what the world reflects back to us. So when we go out looking like something that cat dragged in is it any wonder that we don't get the respect that we deserve for the awesome  job/jobs we are doing?

You can make the most beautiful quilt in the world but if you shlep around in stained sweats and unkempt hair it honestly makes you and your work hard to connect together and it does not make a life in the arts look all that good either.

You can have the best homeschooling life ever but if you go out wearing clothes that make you look dumpy and frumpy and sport a haircut like you did it with pinking-shears is it any wonder that people think that homeschooling is awful and degrading to women and would NEVER want to do it?

Honestly there was a time that  I thought it was much more virtuous to be the "good mother" and own three Hanes sweatsuits ( green, gray and maroon) which I wore in rotation with a saggy nursing bra and granny panties ( also sort of  saggy).. I was a GOOD MOTHER DAMMIT I spent more on my kids, I did more for my kids and I looked like shit on a cracker - really and my my spending more time on them than me proved it.. or so the story goes.

Of course times have changed and not many are wearing Hanes sweatsuits but a whole hell of a lot are wearing today's version of this uniform - yoga pants anyone??

Well at some point I woke up from this deep and stupid coma ( there is a whole hitting rock bottom story here, but I will save that for another day) and I decided to get my act together and look like I wanted to feel ..but quickly understood that I had lost touch with how or where to start. This is the same thing I hear from a lot of others ... so with that mind...

Maddie's Rock your Mama/ Artist style guide. Version 1

If you are starting with a virtually blank slate the world is your oyster so you might as well have fun with it. In my case I am generally sort of trendy/preppy conservative so this is an ideal everyday outfit for me.

1) Start with some great jeans that REALLY fit. This will take time but is SO worth it no matter what your size.

2)Tops that flatter your figure ( watch that neck line!) and are a bump up from t-shirt. With Fall coming this is easy with thin and supple sweaters that have the comfort of a t-shirt with a dash more style.

3) A great jacket. I am currently hunting a red trench for Fall but just about any jacket/blazer/ cardigan will serve the purpose of bringing an outfit together and making it look more polished.  Want a few tips on how to wear those cardigans without looking like Ms. Doubtfire?   The point of the topper is the " rule of three" thing.. top- bottom and ? (jacket, great scarf, statement necklace)

4) A fantastic purse. One without rips, undone stitching or a lingering order of a tippy cup gone south. Big enough to hold what you need but no so big that you look like a sherpa.

5) Great scarf. - Scarfs scare some people but they can be the best way to add flair and finish to an outfit.  Start with a nice neutral.. this season navy is going to be big.. this one from Old Navy would be a great place to start.

6) Shoes.  These red clogs are CALLING MY NAME..  Go for comfort of course for daily wear but kick it up a notch with great color and style.

7) Jewelry - find some pieces you love and start wearing them.  Just putting on a nice necklace each day can give you a reason to smile.

8) Awesome sunglasses. There was a time when I could take or leave sunglasses but as I age (sigh) my eyes are getting more sun sensitive so great glasses are the blessing of that total PIA.. might as well have fun!

 Of course there are days when I miss the mark  but over all since spending more time on me I am amazed at how much more respect I get for the job(s) I do and more than that.. how I feel I deserve respect and demand nothing less.

How about you.. are you ready for a new look?  My look is not your look, try playing around on Polyvore and see what you can come with and then drop me a line and let me see it!

Quilt Binding - Fear No More!

Great binding is the icing on the cake when it comes to a beautiful quilt. It can not only hi-light the beauty of a quilt it is also the hardest working part of the quilt taking most of the abuse and all of the the strain.

While there is nothing wrong with buying packaged quilt binding the choices are rather limited and the colors are pretty much stuck in the 1980's ( and not in a good B-52's Rock Lobster kind of way)

You can find some nifty handmade patterned binding online at places like etsy but it is hard to tell the quality and the  incorrect terminology in the description should be your first clue ( hint hint)

So that leaves you with making your own and just the idea bring tears and fears to many but in truth as a step by step process it is very easy and with nothing more than basic sewing skills you can make competition worthy binding for any project.

Preparation - Starch your fabric and cut you strips with the method of your choice. I cut my strips 2.5 inches wide using an Accuquilt Studio but  rotary cutting also works.

1) On ONE end of each strip fold back the end on a 45 degree angle being careful to have fabric correctly oriented- give this a firm pressing. Do this to all strips.

2) Using Washable ELMERS school glue or Roxann's Glue Baste put a VERY thin line on the very edge of the fold.

3) Lay the FLAT END of the next strip over this turned back area in straight alignment with the previous strip and press with hot iron. This will heat set and dry the glue.

4)The glue and the ironing gives you the perfect line the follow when it comes time to sew the strips together. The pressing gives the line, the glue controls any stretching.  Do all strips end to end in this fashion.

5) Using the fold line as your guide chain sew all the segments and then snip the connecting threads.

6)Pop open the bit of the seam that has some glue by peeling the two right sides away from each other down to the stitching line. It is important to so this before trimming since otherwise they are VERY hard to get apart.

7) Trim of excess to 1/4 inch

8) Press open seams as you fold the band in 1/2 right sides facing. Use a light spray of HEAVY spray starch .. this will lightly glue your binding together adding more stability for  attaching it to your quilt. 

9) To store binding I have made ahead of time I wrap it loosely around a foam core board and store it with the supplies for the project I need it for. 

See.. step by step it is not so hard!  Got questions?.. sock them to me!

  Go ahead.. Pin-it.. sharing is caring after all! 

Cairo-quilt in Review- A Vlog Post

So I know that a lot of you are looking for a go-to cotton quilting thread that  stands up to the fast-paced world of Long arm and domestic machine quilting. I am thrilled to say that I have found mine.

While not the first cotton I have used it might be the last - but only in the very best way.  Cairo-quilt is Egyptian long staple cotton  for the traditional look of classic quilting.
While there are other really nice cotton threads on the market and I own some of them it did mean I had to wind bobbins to match. And while this is not the end of the world the truth is that I am lazy  careful with my time. Spending time winding bobbins is not on my top 10 list of things to do when for just a bit more I can have prewounds with perfect tension with Fil-Tecs magnetic core prewounds. 

On my ~What Stella Knows~ quilt I used about 3 bobbins so for $3 I got prefect tension from beginning to end with little to no effort on my part. That is something I am willing to pay for.

I do not use cotton for most of my quilts but when I do Cairo-quilt is my choice from now on.

Want to see what else I had to say about Cairo-quilt?

* The Spool of Cairo-quilt was provided to me by the awesome guys at Fil-Tec but the kissy-faced love is all mine!
** Alternative title to this post was.. how many time can Maddie say "umm" in one video - sigh, my vlog skills are lacking to say the least.