Friday, March 25, 2016

How to become an Honorary Indian + A Dozen Finishes

Usually, I plan my blogposts.
Normally, I write about one project at a time - the entire process, from start to finish.
I believe that keeps the entire project in one place.  Easy to locate, without having to go through several posts.

Card from Sandra
But there is nothing NORMAL (or usual) about this post. It is not planned. It discusses something that is not even my work.  Therefore, I have divided this post into two parts - GUSHES and FINISHES.

Let me GUSH first.  I have to write this post to get it out of my system.

Fabric FQs from Sandra
A few weeks ago I (along with a few other quilters) participated in a Blog Hop. Several emails were exchanged about the schedule, the order of things, the correct links and so on.  At the end of the blog hop, Sandra (Musings of a Menopausal Melon) and Julie (Pink Doxies) sent to all the participants a small carefully put together fabric goodies bag - hand dyed fabric, 5" squares and a few other things.

Knowing her love for all things Indian, I sent to Sandra a bar of sandalwood soap, four spools of variegated thread and a mug rug made from left over and discarded strips from the Sun City.
It filled a small greeting card box.

My Thank you to Sandra (Picture from her blog)

My Thank you to Julie (Picture from her Instagram)

They organized.
I participated.
They sent the goodies.
I thanked them for the goodies.
Normally, you'd think that the process is over.

But then Sandra did this. EXTRAORDINARY!!!

OM Mini Mini
Love the colors, the star, the OM in the quilting, the bright pop of green and the off-center placement creates so much interest.  It is an art quilt. In a miniature form!!!

You can read about the creative process of making this mini mini quilt on Sandra's blog, including how she agonized over 1/16".
Bright Orange Star, with OM quilting

So much precision in a tiny piece

That is OM written in Hindi/Sanskrit.  And Sandra not only knows this, she replicated it beautifully WITH Quilting. I cannot stop gushing!!!

Radiating Quilting Lines

for me!!!

Metallic Thread - It shines and shimmers

The dark binding brings everything together

I love this mini mini for so many reasons!!!
1. Just last week, I was gushing about the color orange.  I love orange.
2. Blue is the opposite color on the color wheel - maximum contrast. I love contrast. I hated it when there was not enough contrast in American Hustle.
3. The OM in the quilting - Left me speechless.
4. The off-center placement - So much interest.

OM Mini, Card and the Stripes FQs - So much Love in one envelope!!!
When something is very pithy, we Indians have a saying for it - "Like an ocean in the pitcher."
That is what Sandra did in making this mini. She captured the universe in a small circle of fabric!!!

This is so me and I did not even know it till I got it. We have not met. Yet, she knows EXACTLY what I want???

You, Sandra, just became an honorary Indian!!!

Speaking of honorary Indian, let me share with you a short story about how Paul, my very American husband, became an honorary Indian.

With Paul (in his Indian outfit) at the temple near Toronto, 2010

I keep in our house, at the main altar, a coconut. (A coconut placed over a copper pot with water absorbs negative energies). When the water in the coconut dries (I check it every other week), it should be discarded (in a river/ocean) and replaced with a new coconut with water.

This incident dates back to January 2012.  Paul's car had died the previous week. We needed a new car.  I knew that the credit check, test drive, bank loan, insurance, registration etc. would take most of the day.  So I took the day off to buy the car and take care of the paperwork etc.

It was almost 10:00 in the morning.  Paul was slowly tying his shoelaces as I was impatiently fidgeting at the door, with the keys and all the papers etc. I remembered that the coconut had to be discarded too.

Impatient Me: Let's go to the dealership first.  It is going to take all day.  Please hurry up.  And we can discard the coconut on our way back.
Calm, Cool & Collected Paul: Should we not get rid of the negativity before bringing a new object into the house?

He was right!!! And I was stunned.
With that one statement, he had made it absolutely clear to me, that he got it.
He understood the whole concept of auspiciousness.

Normally, I would argue and try to prove my point. This time, I did not have a leg to stand on.  Because an American man had just taught his very Indian wife the Indian way to do things.


Well, normal is boring. So here I am - Saluting the very extraordinary and honorary Indians in my life.

Congratulations, Sandra! To say that I love my OM mini is an understatement.
There is only one problem - how shall I use it?

I considered putting it on the altar under the copper pot with coconut. Although that would be perfectly appropriate, it would cover the beauty. And I have the NEED to see it everyday.

I decided to place it just over the smaller altar in my office, where I can look at it every morning when I meditate.

Now that I am done GUSHING, I am ready to talk about FINISHES!!!

Do I have a finish? How about a dozen plus finishes?

Zippered Pouches

Yes, I have been making zippered pouches between quilts. Small flat ones in the picture above, and larger with boxy bottoms in the pictures below.

This pattern for the bags below came from Connecting Threads.

Jeanie's Bags
Jeanie requested three bags - one for each of her two daughters and one for herself. I was only too happy to make them!!!

Yellow, Red & Orange = Brightness

Bright Green Lining

Spacious & Pretty

The following zippered pouches are about 6" by 10" and even though they seem flat and small are large enough to fit my iPad mini.
Whales that smile

Blue Dots Lining

Princess & the Castle
 This is the fabric left over from  "Fit for a Princess" quilt. Perfect use.

Red Chevron Lining
 And all the fabrics that are just blah, can find purpose in the bag linings.

Monsters, with light purple lining
 Not all zippered pouches were made for kids. My grandma may like this one with roses!!!
Granny's Choice

More Roses

Orange Lining

If you make these small pouches, I suggest that you make two at a time. If one takes 45 minutes, adding a second on will only take an extra 15 minutes.  I make the quilt sandwich for two bags together and then cut in half.

And two more larger ones (Connecting Threads pattern) in pretty fall colors.  The bright orange-green-yellow-black fabric is left over from the border of the Curry Favor quilt.

Fabric left over from Curry Favor

Two must be better than one

One green and one yellow zipper

And they are large enough to fit six small zippered pouches each!!!

We are so stuffed :-)

Figured I could make a few for the Boutique at the Quilt Show.  Some of them will get to the boutique but I am sure others will be claimed by friends and family.
That is fine. I can always make more :-)

OK, I was saving the best ones for the last.  This Kaffe fabric was in a pathetic state, abandoned at the free table at our Guild meeting.


I picked up the long, oddly cut strips and almost nursed it back to health. Ironed with starch, cut it into usable sections, made panels using the dark blue solid and then used SF101 interfacing to give it some body before it could be fashioned into these two pouches.

Look at the BEFORE and AFTER pictures. I wish the person who abandoned this fabric could see the potential in it.
I am afraid that I like these two so much that I won't be able to part with them.

My favorite zippered pouches!!!

Which one is your favorite? I'd love to hear from you.
Linking up with Fort Worth Fabrics, Crazy Mom Quilts, Monday Making, Design Wall Monday, Blossom Heart Quilts, Sew Fresh Quilts, Needle and Thread Thursday, and Oh Scrap! among others. See the full Linky Party list on the sidebar.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

American Hustle?

What can I make with a few remnants?

I can make mistakes...
...And may be learn from them.

Whenever I go to Joann's I  make it a point to visit the remnants bin. Remnants are the end of the bolt pieces that are less than a yard and are marked down to 50% off. Over a period of time, those remnants can lead to a sizeable stash. This stash comes in handy when I want to try out a new pattern or practice a block.

One afternoon, I watched Maggie Ball make Kaleidoscope Blocks without a template. Needless to say, I wanted to try her technique. It seemed easy and I could definitely use some remnants from my stash to practice the kaleidoscope blocks.

I chose two matching remnants - pale green and green/brown stripes

Following Maggie's very simple instructions, I cut the two fabrics into 10" squares. Placed the two squares one on top of other and marked the 3" point from all the corners. Cut both layers of fabric across the square, matching the points.  The result was four kites and four wedges. The next part was pretty simple. Mix and match them till you are satisfied.

Place the wedge over the kite and sew. Chain piece, separate, iron and then chain piece some more.

I love how the play of the striped fabric provides movement (or an illusion of movement) to the blocks.

Also, did you notice that each kaleidoscope block is unique due to the use of the striped fabric.
Once I completed 16 blocks, I placed them on the design wall and stepped away to admire my handiwork.


What happened?
I made a mistake. No, I made two mistakes.

Mistake # 1 - Not enough contrast (I sure can match fabric)
Mistake # 2 - Not looking at the block from a distance

What could I do now?
Option # 1 - Forget about these blocks - they were practice blocks anyway. Not like you spent serious $$$ on them.
Option # 2 - Make the best of a rather unpleasant situation.

I found this cornflower blue solid (from Connecting Threads) in my stash and decided to use it to bring some zing to the rather lifeless kaleidoscope blocks.

It helps but just a little bit.

What else can I do? Get creative with the border? I did. Completed the top.

When Paul came home and saw the quilt top on the design wall, he remarked, "Very 70s look"
What does that mean, I asked.

Paul: It has that retro vibe to it.
Me: Retro? How?
Paul: Well, we used to have that green colored wall paper and even that brown seems familiar.
Me: I see. So what shall I call this quilt - That 70s Quilt?
Paul: What was that 70s con movie that we just saw?
Me: The American Hustle?
Paul: Yes, that is the one.

American Hustle, it is.
It is the perfect embodiment of mistakes made, lessons learnt and life goes on in a quilt...

May be I can do some creative (for me) quilting so that these kites and wedges stand out better. That way, I will get some quilting "practice" out of it too.

But in the end, I do not care for it and there are too may enticing things out there, too much yummy fabric, so many new patterns to try...that I have decided to let it go.

If you want it, you can have it. Please let me know in a comment what would you do with it and please also include your email address, so that I can reach you.
I will choose one person, at random, and ship it to you anywhere in the US or Canada.  You have until March 31, 2016 to respond.
I am also giving away a mini wacky web template.  It came in a box with other supplies. I don't need it . You can have it.  Send me a separate comment, please. I will choose one person, at random, and ship it to you anywhere in the US or Canada.

You have until March 31, 2016 to respond. _____________________________________________________________________________

Once upon a time, I used Pigma Micron pens to label my quilts. I have since moved on to Pentel Archival pens. Therefore, I have this set of pens you can have.  Please send me a comment with your email and I will get in touch with you.  I will choose one person, at random, and ship it to you anywhere in the US or Canada.

You have until March 31, 2016 to respond. _____________________________________________________________________________

All items will be shipped in the first week of April.  I am linking with Quilting is More Fun than Housework's Orphan Adoption Event.
Thank you, Cynthia, for this opportunity.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Fabric Buying Tips

Let's be honest. We love fabric. We hoard fabric. We buy fabric. A lot.
So why not be smart about it?

May be you already know these tips and tricks. Here is what I have learned in my three years of obsessive compulsive fabric disorder.

1. Never pay full price for fabric - I know it is yummy and it is so enticing when the new fabric line first comes out.  Designers are showcasing it and it is hard to escape the allure. Remember, this is not a sprint. It is a marathon.  We are in it for the long haul.  Wait till it goes on sale.

Spectrum by Camelot Fabrics
See picture above. I bought most of those fabrics at $5.69/yard, after it went on sale.
Three of them bought from Etsy at $9/yard. I now have the full (almost) line at a fraction of the cost.

What if it gets sold out?
Rest assured there will be a new line even more alluring and enticing just around the corner.
Trust me, I did not buy fabric for the first 40 years of my life and I am just fine.

2. Shop around - Brand loyalty is important. But my loyalty lies first and foremost with my wallet.
I check first at my favorite stores.  But there have been times when I have found wonderful deals on Etsy.  It also feels good to support small business owners. Prices vary from one site to another. It does not hurt to shop around.

3. Yardage - I buy yardage for basic solids such as charcoal grey, black and white. My favorite store for buying solid yardage is Connecting Threads. Great quality, affordable prices and excellent customer service.  The best part is this - you can buy as little as a fat quarter (at full price) or half-yard (at sale prices).  Free shipping at $50 and they have several sales. The only caveat - limited variety. is another favorite store of mine to buy yardage. They have a LOT of variety. If I must have something and cannot find it anywhere else, they are likely to have it.  Free shipping starts at just $35.  They will give you the end of the bolt for free.  Although you may be able to buy half-yard, it is priced higher. For sale items, you have to buy at least one yard.

4. Precuts - My favorite precut is a fat quarter. I feel that FQs give me the maximum flexibility. I can cut them up into 5" squares, 10" squares or anything in between. Missouri Star Quilt Company has the best variety of precuts. Green Fairy Quilts has the best prices (very limited variety). You can also find a few of the popular fabric lines (in precuts) on Connecting Threads, but it is rarely the full line. For example, you can buy Hazel (by Allison Harris) FQ bundle at Connecting Threads but it has only 14 FQs. The full FQ bundle has 23.  Make sure you check.

5. Prices - Good quality fabric starts at about $10 a yard (Connecting Threads is the only exception). With that in mind, a FQ will cost you about $2.50. When the new lines arrive in stores, a FQ is priced at $3, sometimes even more. Check the math. Divide the cost of the FQ bundle by the number of FQs in the bundle. For example, if there are 22 FQs in the bundle and it is priced at $74, you will be paying $3.36 per fat quarter or $13.45/yard. That is STEEP (for me).  I make sure that I never pay more than $2.50 for a FQ.  When it gets down to $2/FQ, that is is great time to buy. And when it is under $2 per FQ (under $8/yard), that is when I must have it.  This also ensures two things - my stash is manageable and I am not overspending on fabric.

6. Kits - Saving the best for the last. Kits are pre-assembled, color-coordinated fabrics for making a specific quilt pattern (which is included).  There are times when the fabric line is sold out but the kits may still be available. You don't have to make the pattern in the kit. But if you like the fabrics, and the math works out to under $8/yard then it is great deal. You still get the pattern which you can save for later. I would not buy a kit, unless it is on sale. The best part about a kit on sale is the color coordinated fabric line available at an unbeatable price.

And here are some of my absolute favorite kits ON SALE at Craftsy!!!

1. Malam Batiks Aurora Borealis

Why should you consider buying this kit?

At just $53.97, it includes 6.625 yards of batik fabric at $8.15/yard. It is exclusive to Craftsy.

Exclusive and Batiks at $8.15/yard. It does not get any better.

2. Free Spirit Simply Eden by Tula Pink

This is 50% off!!!

This is so cool. For $67.47, you get 10.42 yards of gorgeous Tula Pink fabric at $6.47/yard. That is a steal.

Even if you do not care for this pattern, it is impossible to buy Tula Pink line at that price.

3. Octagon Shimmer by Jennifer Sampou

Very chic and very modern and 50% off. Now, this pattern may not be of your liking, but in this kit you get 14.625 yards of fabric from the Shimmer line at $7.38/yard, for just under $108.

Isn't that worth another look?

4. Kona Cotton Amy's Stars

How can you go wrong with this kit?
Get it if you love the pattern.
Get it if you love the fabrics.

10.5 yards of multicolored, very versatile solids at $5.42/yard for just under $57.
This one won't last long, I am sure.

Hey, this is just a small sample of the offerings/deals/steals at Craftsy right now. There is so much more.

I am not affiliated with or Connecting Threads. I am affiliated with Craftsy. It means that I will get a small commission when you click and buy from this blogpost, but that is not the reason for this post.
The reason is this - If you are going to buy fabric and you love pretty fabric, make sure you are getting a good deal!!!
I certainly do.

I'd love to hear from you if you have a favorite tip or a favorite store. And your comments make me happy :-D

Linking with Tips and Tutorials Tuesday.

This blogpost contains affiliate links.