Tuesday, December 31, 2019

December 31, 2019 - The end of a decade

For the last week or so, I've been writing drafts of my end of year blog post.  Some years I've put together a video slide show of all the quilts that I've made during the year (you can catch previous year's slide shows on my YouTube channel and while you are there, be sure to subscribe - pretty please) but this year I wanted to focus on something bigger.  It's not only the end of a year but also a decade and tomorrow is 2020.  

To say 2019 was a walk down easy street is far, far away from the truth.  

Lots and lots of changes in both my personal and professional life and some days I have to consciously remind myself that change isn't always bad.  It's easy to get negative when you can't find Easy Street. 

I'm really liking this quote.  It pretty much sums up how I've gotten stuck in my comfort zone.  I know I've been stuck for a year or two so 2020 is the year to get unstuck!  And if you are stuck too - please join me in getting unstuck, I'd love the company!

So without typing on and on about philosophical stuff, I'm going to step outside my comfort zone and share some of my 2020 dreams and goals with you. 

1.  Design quilts that make my heart happy.  It's easy to design to match a magazine or fabric companies' submission call but sometimes I'm not really "in love" with the design.  And those quilts are tough to make no matter how easy the pattern.  

2. Learn Adobe Illustrator.  For the last two years, I've taken Bonnie Christine's Immersion course and I still have NOT mastered Illustrator and I'm disappointed in myself.  I can do better and I need to do better.  Is designing fabric on my horizon?  I'm not sure but I know if I don't get the software figured out, it won't be. 

3. Start a weekly email newsletter.  Some days I can be the Queen of procrastination and a newsletter has been on my goal list for a couple of years - well maybe more than a couple!  I just need to get it done and get over the fact that it won't be perfect. And if you would like to subscribe, leave your email in the comments and I will be sure to add you to my list. 

4. Exercise more.  I know it's cliche and it's on every ones New Year's resolution list.  But ya see, we got this Corgi puppy (isn't she cute?) and we have already discovered that increased puppy exercise and better obedience go hand in hand.  So if I don't want a terror puppy in my studio, then exercise needs to be on the list! 

5. Submit a book proposal to a publisher.  I met with several publishers last May at Spring Market and started on a proposal but didn't finish it.  Again I'm disappointed in myself.  So it's time to get back on the band wagon and finish the designs for the submission.  I know one of the areas where I got stuck - I started designing based on what's trending in customer sales instead of designing quilts that make my heart happy - see #1. 

6. Share what I know.  By the time you reach the 50-something age group, you've learned a lot over the years about how to and how NOT to run a business.  I'd like to start sharing more of my knowledge and experience as a small business owner. 

7. Get back to fancy quilting.  I've always loved custom quilting and the jaw dropping look of a competition worthy show quilt.  That's one of the things that  brought me to this career.  I used to quilt like that.  And somewhere I've drifted away from it.  And I miss it.  It's been a long time since I've quilted feathers like these.  I'm itching to do it again. 

Well, it's not a Top 10 list but 7 heartfelt areas where I want to spend a lot of time in 2020.  If you have made it this far, thank you for reading and I hope you will follow my progress in 2020.  I wish you a safe and joyful New Year's Eve tonight and a happy and prosperous New Year!  

Saturday, December 28, 2019

Christmas 2020 - Is it too soon to start making plans?

I hope each and everyone of you are having a joyous Holiday season.  I know I laughed hard and ate way too much!  

For me it's a time of reflection and planning for next year and yes, I'm already planning for Christmas 2020!   As I was decorating this year, I realized I need more Christmas themed table runners, toppers and accent pillows.   So guess what is first on my design list for 2020!  

Here's a few photos of our house and how I used the table runners that I have now. 

This is the main dining table and it seats 14 people, so I need a really long table runner for it.  This is my Let's Gather Table Runner and it worked perfect.  

This is our second dining table, yes - we have a big family!  It seats 10 people easily.  I was struggling to find a runner that worked for this table.  This one is from my Learn to Machine Bind video class.  It wasn't quite long enough but it did the job and looks great with the rose and evergreen arrangement. 

This isn't the best photo but I have a quilt ladder in the corner and I draped a few of my traditional red and green quilts on it.  It's always a challenge to get quilts folded the same when displayed on a ladder so you can still see the pattern.  

I'm loving the vintage love seat with a quilt draped over one arm and a matching pillow on the other side.  The pillow is a bit over sized so I think I need to design something a bit smaller. 

Speaking of smaller pillows, this one worked perfect in the chair.  While French Provincial isn't my favorite furniture style, my hubby loved this set of matching chairs and I'm coming to love them too!  They are so comfortable to sit in. 

And finally, the buffet.  I struggled to find a table runner that worked well on the buffet and it just didn't happen.  Every one was too short, too long, too wide, too narrow or competed with everything I had displayed on top of the buffet. 

I started a garland and lights theme on top of the china cupboards and wanted to carry it over to the buffet - I love the garland and the lights - they are so beautiful at night when the lights are off.  So I just didn't use a runner - and that's okay too :) 

I hope you were able to use some of your quilts in your decor this year too!  

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

My favorite cookie - Lebkuchens

Yes, I know this is a quilting blog, but it's the Holidays and today I'm choosing to blog about my favorite cookie!   Actually, if you follow me on Social Media - Facebook: Masterpiece Quilting or IG: @MasterpieceQuilting - you know I've been sharing a bit about these cookies and I figured the best way to tell the whole story was a blog post.   

My Grandma Scott made Lebkuchens, which are German sorghum cookies, every Christmas.  My Great-Grandma was a German immigrant to the United States so much of heritage is infused with German tradition and recipes.  

If you aren't familiar with sorghum, it's a plant that is used for livestock feed.  Certain varieties can have a syrupy sweetener extracted from it that is used for human consumption as well.   So it's kinda like honey and kinda like molasses but not exactly the same.  It's hard to describe the taste.  Sweet, but not sickeningly sweet.  Earthy, but a bit pungent.  I've found people either like it or they don't.  I'm lucky our local small town grocery store carries it as sometimes I've struggled to find it in larger stores. 

It has a thick syrup consistency but color wise, it's much deeper than honey.  You can use it much like honey on biscuits or toast. 

The recipe starts a bit different from most cookie recipes since it has you boil the sorghum then melt the butter into the warm syrup.   I've never looked up the calories on sorghum and I don't plan to ... I'll just stay in my own little world and pretend this is a calorie free recipe!  

It makes a bit batch of cookies and the most important part of the recipe is the refrigerate overnight!  The dough is stiff and sticky so it can be a challenge to roll it out without getting too much flour in it. 

I like to roll out 1/4 of the batch at a time, cut into rectangles and bake.  Grandma was a bit more precise and used a straight-edge to make sure each cookie was the same size!   As I told one friend, they aren't the prettiest cookie but they eat like a meal!

There is a boiled sugar icing that Grandma brushed on top of each cookie after it cooled.  I've been skipping the icing the last few years since it makes them easier to store. 

So now you know my favorite cookie and a bit more about them! 

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Winter Beauty Wall Hanging in Quilting Away the Winter Blues from Quilter's World Magazine

If I have to pick just ONE color combination, the one that is my absolute favorite quilt color combo - it's blue and white!

I am completely smitten by blue & white quilts and have been for a long, long time.  Maybe it goes back to my grade school days when our school colors were blue and white.  Maybe it goes back to the vintage blue and white quilts my Grandma Scott had.  Maybe it's the stunning contrast achieved by the colors and the way they embody vintage and modern all at the same time. 

Needless to say, I was super excited when I was invited to submit my designs for the Quilting Away the Winter Blues publication from Quilter's World Magazine!  

Designing and making a New York Beauty quilt has been on my bucket list for a while and this was the perfect opportunity to bring that design to life.   I was graciously provided Island Batik fabrics in shades of blue and white and Hobb's Tuscany Collection 100% Wool batting to make the sample wall hanging. 

If you follow me at all, you know that paper-piecing is NOT my favorite technique.  But it IS growing on me and I have started designing quilts using it.

We can't grow as quilters unless we try the techniques that are new or seem hard to us!  I've come a long way since the first paper-piecing experience when I sewed fabric to both sides of the paper! 

When I finished this wall hanging, I was in awe of it's beauty.  The precision of the points, the stunning color and the movement make it one of my favorites. 

Winter Beauty - Pattern available in Quilting Away the Winter Blues
For the quilting, I kept things pretty simple.  Since it's a wall hanging, it needed to hang nice and straight.  No wall slouches allowed!  

If you are interested in purchasing Quilting Away the Winter Blues, please click on one of the links.  I do earn a small commission which helps support my family owned business.  

Like what you see?  Subscribe to my blog to get updates on each new post. 

15 days til Christmas! How is your gift making coming?

The countdown is on!  Christmas is 15 days away!   (Please insert a huge YIKES as I type that!)

And no, I haven't bought a single gift yet but I do have the wish-lists from my loved ones.  I'm not planning on gifting any hand crafted gifts this year so my secret sewing is limited to work on new patterns for magazines and fabric companies.   

How is your gift making progressing?  If you are still looking for the perfect pattern, be sure to check out my patterns in my Bluprint store.   They are available for PDF download which means you can be stitching right away!  And there are even a few free patterns too!  

If you need a quick and easy throw - my best selling Sunburst Strips & Squares pattern is available - grab a roll of precut 2-1/2" strips and some coordinating yardage and you are ready to stitch!  

Sunburst Strips & Squares

If your Christmas decor needs a last-minute boost, my Wreath Runner & Wall Hanging pattern stitches up quickly and adds some seasonal flair to your table or wall or both!   The pattern is stash friendly, so no trips to the store are needed! 
Wreath Runner & Wall Hanging

And to really get your guests talking, my Tree of Presents pattern will stun even the most fussy critic.  Again, it's stash friendly and super easy to make.  

Tree of Presents

And if you have a quilter on your list to buy for - consider buying them one of my patterns and hopefully they will make you a quilt! 

Monday, December 2, 2019

Weekly Curated Quilting Fabric Bundle - Christmas Cottons

Updated January 21, 2020.  I have a few fat quarter bundles still available in these fabrics in my Etsy store.  The half-yard cut bundles have sold. 

Offering a weekly quilting fabric bundle for sale has been on my to-do list for most of the year.  Since we are on the last month, it's about time I get started! 

This week, I have curated a 12 piece bundle of Christmas Cottons featuring gold, green and red fabrics from the industry's leading manufacturers.  The bundle include a mix of focal and small scale prints as well as blenders, perfect for creating stunning Christmas gifts or even just building your stash! 

The fabrics are available as either a 1/2 yard cut or a Fat Quarter bundle.  Each bundle will contain one piece of each of the 12 prints shown. 

Pricing right now (Monday December 2, 2019) is $34.98 for a Fat Quarter Bundle and $59.98 for a 1/2 yard bundle.  These prices include shipping to the continental U.S.  Orders outside the US are accepted, but there will be an additional fee for shipping.   

Quantities are limited, so I am offering this first to my blog subscribers today.  

On Tuesday December 3, 2019, it will be offered to members of my Masterpiece Quilting Facebook Group and on Wednesday, December 4, 2019, any remaining bundles will be posted publicly on Social Media and listed on Etsy at a higher price to cover selling fees.  

To order, please email me at masterpiecequilting@gmail.com with your shipping address and I will send you a paypal invoice.  Be sure to include the quantity you wish to order of either a Fat Quarter bundle, 1/2 yard cut bundle or both! 
Once I receive payment on your invoice, I will ship the next day!  

Thanks and stay tuned for next weeks Curated Bundle offering.  

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Please Meet Ruby - the latest member of the Masterpiece Quilting Team

I am pleased to introduce the latest member of the Masterpiece Quilting Team - Miss Ruby!

She is a spunky 13 week old Corgi puppy who joined our family 5 weeks ago. Yes, I'm late with the announcement - but who has time to blog when you are busy with all things puppiness!

Ruby's official responsibilities include:

  • Making sure that I take regular breaks from work (aka puppy potty breaks every hour), 
  • Making sure I keep everything neat and tidy in the studio (translated to - if it hits the floor it's in her mouth!) 
  • Helping with office details - after all filing boxes are the perfect height for chewing!

Ruby has two speeds - Let's Go and Sleep!  And she transitions quickly between the two.  It's fun to capture her in the unique places she likes to curl up.  The bottom shelf of any cabinet is always fair game for a nap. 

Ruby loves living life to it's fullness and definitely keeps me on my toes.  While the early snow a few weeks ago put a crimp in my schedule, she reminded me that it is just plain fun to play to in the snow. 

It's amazing how fast she is growing and how much she is learning everyday.  She "graduated" from puppy workshop last week and is already signed up to start obedience training next month. 

Ruby joins her two pup-sisters Zoey and Lilly.  Needless to say, as "senior" dogs, their world has been rocked!  No more time to lounge on quilts and read my patterns in magazines, they are busy keeping out of Ruby's way :)