Thursday, December 19, 2013

working hard but slowing down

Okay, now there are just a few days left before the big event. Which event could that be? Christmas or my solid color essentials challenge? Both!

I have noticed that posts within my patchwork circle have decreased this month. I think we are all very busy around the holidays and simply just powering down. Now is the time to slow down and spend enjoyable moments with friends and family.

I have been preparing frantically. We have baked our favorite Plätzchen including fudge. We have decorated the house with lights. Our Christmas tree is aflame. The meals are planned and all presents are bought except for some last minute stocking stuffers. Oma & Opa will be joining us this year to partake in their first "American Christmas" with 6 a.m. Christmas morning cheer. I am really excited, the kids are too!

Parallel, I have been working diligently on my color essentials quilt. I like to keep things simple, but this design was more of a challenge that I thought. I first started on a prototype in small scale. Not good. I didn't finish that one. I upped the scale quite a bit and was content with the results. It sewed together very easily (after I got the measurements right). Now, the quilt top is finished and I am ready to make my sandwich and start quilting. Half-time, and I am feeling good. It is time to relax; I can still make my deadline without a lot of pressure.

I am curious to see what you think about my solid color quilt design. Will it be interesting for you? Just a few more weeks to go, and we all can hop along an exciting tour of color essential quilts and their designers. I will post a list of particpants and their blogs beginning January. Come join us!

Until then, I wish you a very joyous holiday season and a happy new year filled with exciting new challenges.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

wake me up to Kona


As the new year approaches, I have decided that I need to challenge myself more! I took a big leap last week and committed myself to the "wake me up to color essentials" challenge 2013 at sewwequilt.com. The challenge is to only use Kona solids any size, something new.

This is a big blog hop commitment especially, because December is such a busy month. I already feel that I don't have time to make the deadline, but on the other hand, I work well under pressure. (I still have to make a cathedral window pillowcase for my mother-in-law...and that before Christmas - she has good taste!)

What to present? I have a few self-designed quilts stored on my computer and brought this one out. Can I achieve it before January 10th? Hmm..I could try, but then the holidays would get pushed to the side. But maybe I will sew something a little simpler. Sometimes I do bite off more than I can chew. I should have some fun with it.

I need to finalize my idea by the end of the week and get my materials on hand. How I wish I was a little bit more organized. Last weekend I was really impressed about how other quilters organize all of their blocks in plastic bags. Speaking of getting organized, I should say farewell for now. Happy patching.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

weekend retreat

This past weekend was my long awaited weekend retreat at the Quilt Oase in Nersingen. And oh, how the weekend was enjoyed. Five other ladies from our quilting group joined up to do a little sewing and lots of laughing. It is such a great way to relax and get some things accomplished and learn from the guru herself - Sabine Feldmann. She has so many tips and tricks up her sleeve, you never walk away from her without learning something new.

I first met Sabine over six years ago, when I took a patchwork class through our local community college. I knew then that she was and is extremely knowledgeable and masters her craft. She is a wizard in math -- an artist in designing -- and a master storyteller. I think she knows every technique there is to know in the patchwork scene. She is MY patchwork guru. Thank you, Sabine and ladies, for such a great weekend. I am looking forward to it again in January on our exclusive quilting retreat! Don't forget to visit Sabine's shop and participate in one of her courses. She also speaks English if your German isn't perfect. And, she told us a little secret that is going to make lots of patchworkers go wild!!

Our patchwork group is displaying and selling items at the Christmas Market in Nersingen beginning tomorrow. Please support our patchwork group and stop by. There will be so many lovely, handmade items to choose from.

Katrin, who also sewed this weekend, brought in lots of self-made goodies and most of them were snapped up before they even hit the market stands. You can visit her site and see what she worked on here.

What did I work on over the weekend? My updated plaid quilt! A couple of weeks ago I asked for some advice from you all about making a more up-to-date plaid quilt for my husband. I originally wanted to make a 60° triangle quilt, log-cabin-style. I didn't have enough plaids though, and we agreed it was going to be just a little too busy. I opted for a softer pattern (for a MAN) with lots and lots of plaids. This is a little sneak peek of what I am working on.

I wanted to get a little further, but my fabric ran out and didn't have anymore in stock. I will continue on it in January at our group's exclusive quilting retreat (in a castle...yeahh).

Friday, November 29, 2013

winter is just round the bend


Today is Black Friday in the United States - something that doesn't exist here in Germany. It is a great sports event (not really but it feels like it), and I miss it every year. My sister and I would actually get up around 4 a.m., brush our teeth, drink a cup of coffee and start out the door to get the BEST possible bargains at our favorite retail stores. {Black Friday is the biggest shopping day in the United States where you get better bargains the earlier you shop.} We would try to get all of the Christmas shopping done on this day. Sorry Sis! I know you are having fun at the beach this year.

We, my German-American family and I, normally celebrate Thanksgiving on the Saturday preceding the fourth Thursday of the month which usually coincides with the first Adventswochenende. We invite friends over to share the day with us. We eat a huge brined turkey, homemade cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie or pumpkin cheesecake (totally from scratch - I cook fresh pumpkin into pulp as well), rosemary dressing, gravy and mashed potatoes. I love my American Thanksgiving, and I have learned how to make everything from scratch to make it 100% authentic. Why? Because you can't get all of that stuff in a can over here.

Although we decided not to have Thanksgiving this year, it makes me all the more excited about Christmas. I have more time to concentrate on my projects and planning the larger Christmas get-together at our home now that we finally have the room. So that is going to be my main focus until X-Mas...finishing a few projects including Christmas presents and planning a big Christmas in our new home.

I finished up a few Advent Calendars. The one at the top of the post above I made for Amy as a part of our quilt exchange through Doll Quilt Monthly. It is a really great group of women who swap quilts every month with optional themes. I am really enjoying it and learning lots of new things. The Advent Calendars below have been in the works for two to three years. I finished them just today. My kids already have one, but they always want the NEW. The other two matching ones will probably go to my niece and nephew in the States.

And now off to the very important part of the post. Who was the lucky person to receive a giveaway charm pack to start making lots of Forgotten Five Minis???



KAHOLLY - my daughter drew your name! I had to laugh. Now you can really sew lots and lots of your new favorite pattern. ;-) I'm still waiting on a picture of your current one.

Karen, please contact me with your address, and I will send your package including this yummy charm pack called Coquette right out (on Monday). Thank you everyone for your support!

Monday, November 25, 2013

the forgotten five mini quilt


Hello everyone! My new favorite pattern is now available at Moda Bake Shop! Thank you everyone for the wonderful comments and support. A warm and special thanks to Lisa Calle for planning and organizing the project and to Sarah Huetschtemann for sewing it all together! The Moda Weaves
Collection looks like real linens in fantastic modern colors.

The pattern has directions for one 12" mini quilt, one 4" pin cushion and one 15" (40 x 40cm) pillowcase.

I can't explain how much fun this pattern really is. Everyone thinks that it is really complicated and time consuming, but it goes together like a snap.

I know that some people are intimidated by little quilts or little blocks, but now that I am making more mini quilts, I try to find ways or use special techniques to simplify the block and quilt making, especially for you. It is really too bad that mini quilt magazines are no longer published, because they illustrated a lot of very useful techniques.

I think you can use just about any type of fabric to make this creation. I have used solids, brights and pastels. Everything works, even plaids. You might want to steer away from large scale prints though. Larger scale prints don't usually work in any miniature quilt.

Here are a few of my favorite Forgotten Five Minis:






Don't forgot to join the site. I will be drawing a name/number this Friday. The lucky viewer will receive a little package of goodies from me including a charm pack to make lots of Forgotten Five Minis!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

quilting retreat

It has been a while since I really had the chance to sew for myself without interruptions. So, I signed myself up for a quilting weekend at the Quilt Oase to rejuvenate my vitals and relax with the girls.

What to work on? I have a stack of woven plaids that have been with me for about a good ten years. I started a project for my husband using half-square triangles - HST and a tan neutral color. I found the pattern in an Australian Country Patchwork magazine and thought it was really great (at that time). Needless to say, I never completed the project and the patches are still in a metal tin somewhere in the basement. I still want to finish up a quilt for my hubby incorporating plaids, especially since we will be celebrating our tenth anniversary this year. How to make a modern quilt for a man using plaids?

I have been asking myself this question for about a month or two now. I have been looking high and low for patterns. I want to do something with 60° triangles to get more experience but don't want a typical country quilt. This one caught my attention by Jaybird Quilts? I can't exactly see who made it, but saw it referenced once.

I thought this could be a down and dirty pattern to cleanse and go quickly. Should I do it, or should I try to come up with something else? It states that the triangles are sewn on paper log cabin style. Do I really need the paper? Can't I just sew strips onto a pre-cut center triangle? I need advice. Does anyone have any?

MODERN PLAID QUILT IDEAS ANYONE?

Monday, November 11, 2013

sneak peek - a new free pattern at moda bake shop

Almost one year has gone by since I had my first free pattern published at Moda Bake Shop. If you remember, it was called "prairie Traditions" - made from one layer cake. I have submitted a few more patterns for the Bake Shop over the year, but they are a hard bunch of Chefs! However, they did like a small quilt which I named the Forgotten Five Mini made from your favorite charm pack. You will be able to download the directions for one miniature quilt, one pillow case and one pin cushion over at their site sometime this month.

I look forward to seeing your interpretations and what you can do with your free pattern.

Also, if you haven't already, register to win a free charm pack to make items from the featured pattern. I will be drawing a number from registered Google Followers one week after the pattern is published. You can join this site under Patchwork Friends at the bottom of this page. The lucky winner will receive a little package of goodies!

Warm wishes,
Karen

Thursday, November 7, 2013

let your kids go crazy

Last week was fall break in school, so the kids were with me all week. No vacation was planned, and we didn't go anywhere, the entire year. I will have to put that on my list for 2014. ;-) So, I tried to concentrate on housework and getting things back into order. I should put a cleaning lady on my list as well. My eight-year-old son told me that he wanted to sew! How cool is that? So, instead of taking one of his previously started projects out, I thought of a new one. I grabbed my tote of Christmas fabrics and taught his how to go crazy. He loved it.

He wanted nine blocks in his quilt, so we agreed on a 6 x 8" block, 2 x 3 rows. I cut a few foundation blocks, and we got started. My son really enjoyed picking out the fabric and making sure that we only used the fabric once in each block. He also understood the concept of contrast. It wasn't always easy to understand how to sew on the patch so that the first piece was completely covered, but I also had problems there. We managed to get one block done, and then he decided he wanted to pick out the fabrics, iron them and position them; it was my job to sew them on.

We now have four out of nine blocks, and I am looking forward to getting the other five finished, and that before December! He will have his first ever X-Mas quilt that he can share and remember - Mom and I made this one together.

I know a lot of you sewing fanatics have young children at home, and I would really like to encourage you to teach and share with your children this technique. It is great to use up those scraps (it doesn't have to be for Christmas either). It also doesn't matter if the sewing lines are 1/4" or 1/2"; they just have to be relatively straight.

Start with a small project similar to the one below using 6.5 x 8.5" unfinished blocks. The final size will be about 17 x 19 inches and a great size for a wall hanging, placemat, doll quilt, center piece or tote. Teach your kids how to sew, how to rip a seam, how to iron (correctly), and so on.


If you accept this challenge, I would love to see what you came up with, and we will have a little contest - first, second and third place winners. I look forward to hearing from you.

Get your patch on!
Karen

Monday, October 28, 2013

labeling your quilt


As we finish up our quilts, we sometimes forget the most important step of "signing" our work with a quilt label. There are so many ways to make a beautiful label for your quilt, don't forget to do it!

I have experimented over the years with different labeling techniques such as using a permanent marker, embroidery floss, designs on t-shirt transfers, iron on ink transfers and professionally printed labels. One of the easiest ways is to use a permanent fabric marker and write on a light piece of fabric and then sew this to the back of your quilt. I have never used a stamp, but would love to have one designed. I saw this quite a bit in Amish Country.

I generally prefer to use computer generated designs on t-shirt transfers and then iron onto light fabric and sew by hand. This gives me the most freedom to design a label according to the design of the quilt and personalize to the recipient. My problem here is the stiffness of the label, but as long it isn't majorly used, it won't interfere with the cuddliness of the quilt.

Since embroidery is NOT my best trait, I usually prefer not to use this technique. I love the work that some quilters bring to their labels by outlining in a fabric used in the quilt and then embroidering the information. Ich beneide diesen Kunst und die Kunstlerinnen. I don't have the patience.

Some important facts to write on your label:

Quiltmaker
Quilt Recipient
Date Made
Name of Quilt

What is your favorite way to "sign" your quilts? Please leave a comment or link so we can all get inspired!



Wednesday, October 16, 2013

gefaltener Stern - Anleitung in deutsch


Good morning ladies and gentleman! I know there are actually a few men out there that like to quilt and sew too, so I don't want to neglect you.

A few months ago, I came across a technique that I didn't know - the fancy folded star written by Maria Wallin of notonlyquilts.com. It looks somewhat similar to the folded trivet star that was seen a lot around in the 1980's and widely spread throughout Amish Country in Pennsylvania.

I kept this technique stored on my hard drive (as my son would say) until the theme of "stars and stripes" for the Doll Quilt Monthly swap approached. I pulled it back out and thought I could use this technique for my stars.

So, I made my little quilt and took it to my local monthly quilt group (guild); they really liked it! We decided I would show them how to make the stars using Maria's technique with her permission of course! Maria is a very sweet young Swedish woman living in/on Malta. She told me everything was okay, and I could go ahead with the translation of her technique/pattern into German.

I have made three stars now using this technique and all of them are very unique. The most important thing that I can say is, take your time and pull those fold snug, and make sure there is a flowing contrast on the fabrics you pick out for your stars.

I am looking forward to next month's Quilttreff to see what the ladies have done with their lovely folded stars. (I just showed them the technique, but didn't say how or what they should use them for.) Even though we all started out using eight different pieces of fabric, we agreed that using six would also look very nice like the one pictured above. Sabine, the owner of Quilt Oase, decided to use bright-light fabrics making the center spiral out. I personally think it looks very pretty, but she thought the fabrics got lost along the way. I hope to have more pictures next month from our Quilt Group.

You can download the tutorial in GERMAN. Or go to Maria Wallin's website for an English version. Oh, and don't forget to show me your finished stars!


Diese Technik ist mit freundlicher Genehmigung von Maria Wallin (notonlyquilts.com) von mir aus dem Englischen für Euch übersetzt worden. Die Anleitung darf nicht für gewerbliche, sondern nur für private Zwecke bzw. in unserer Patchworkgruppen benutzt werden.

Diese Technik geht schnell und kann mit geringstem Aufwand gefertigt (genäht) werden. Sie sieht am schönsten aus, wenn kontrastreiche Stoffe von innen nach außen gehen.

Hier kann man die Anleitung herunterladen. Schick mir auch ein Bild von Deinem Stern!!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

changing seasons

As I look out of the window, I see large, beautiful trees left over from the former German military base. Oh, how I always miss the Carolina blue sky in fall, but this year I am pleased to see the large trees with there different colors emerging, something I missed in my former village. We even had one or two days of that rich blue sky right here in Leipheim! I am enjoying fall this year in Germany with all of the beauty around me.
I have been keeping myself busy working on new patterns, a possible customer quilt, and a future project for Moda Bake Shop. {{Shhh...I don't want to jinx any of those.}} Life if finally getting back to "normal" again.

A few weeks ago, we went to Nördlingen to a festival. (I really do love living in Germany with all of the traditional festivals and heritage.) We came across a stand with these very lovely HAND PAINTED Springerle. During Christmastime, I love to bake cookies oder Plätzchen. However, Springerle are not easy for me. I have a few different stamps and a rolling pin with the various shapes, but whenever I try to make these, they NEVER turn out! 
The very nice female ARTIST not only baked these (perfectly), she also spent hours decorating them! You have to click on a picture to see the details!! They also hat the cutest little matching hanging ribbon. I really wanted to buy one, and told her I would come back. I was so afraid they would not make the trip back home and would break, that I didn't buy ANY! That is so terrible of me, I know. I really wish I had gone back. Now, I just have to punish myself with these beautiful pictures. If I ever see them again, I will buy them. I already have a place in my kitchen picked out for them! If anyone knows where I can buy them, please tell me. I will be forever grateful.



Wednesday, September 18, 2013

appreciation

Hello everyone after a long break. Vacation was just too short this year. I looked forward to spending the days at the public pool and relaxing in the sun. Sometimes you get thrown a curve ball.

My father was having some lung issues over the last few months, and we suspected that it could be more serious. My sister was taking him to several doctors getting his lungs and back checked out, because he was having severe pain in those areas as well as massive coughing for months. Here in Germany, we made arrangements for my husband to take care of the kids during summer vacation so I could fly to the US to be with my dad. On the day I arrived, my sister, who is the only relative of my dad other than myself, picked me up from the airport. She informed me of the tragic news: Stage 4 Lung Cancer that has already progressed to the brain, lymph nodes, bones, and other organs in the body - radiation to his brain would follow the next day.

Cancer is terrible! It destroys the entire body, mind and soul. It hurts all of the family members around you. There is no easy way to deal with this subject except with a little bit of humor when you mind isn't turning your body inside out.

My heart goes out to everyone who has had to deal with lung cancer - survivors, family members, medical support staff and professionals, hospice volunteers and staff, friends, religious and social workers and groups. I would like to thank all of you for helping those of us in need and making this disease more comfortable and bearable.

If you are a smoker, please quit now! Don't make excuses anymore. The little bit of satisfaction you get from your cigarette is not worth this pain that you bring to yourself, your family and the friends around you. The risk of getting lung cancer is drastically reduced the longer you stay free of smoke. If you are a long-term smoker, please talk to your doctor about your smoking and about getting your entire body checked out. Lung Cancer is usually only detected in the last stage, because that smoker's cough becomes just a part of your daily life instead of a sign that something more serious is going on.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

more mini quilts

I have been working dliligently on my miniature quilt collection for and from my partners over at the Doll Quilt Monthly swap. They are such a great group of ladies. I wanted to share with you a fantastic little quilt that Vickie from Utah made for me. I love the celestial star and is a great little summer quilt.

And of course, I made her a star quilt as well, since our monthly theme was "stars and stripes." I was looking forward to the theme, but wasn't really turned on my the traditional red, white and blue. I love the country and love the rustic feel, but my color palette is not in the muted color area. So, Vickie and I talked about it and agreed to make something bright and cheery including stars and stripes.


Here are two different ways to celebrate the month of July and be patriotic but thinking outside the box using more colorful colors.

 It was a pleasure getting to know Vickie and she remains a good friend and correspondant.

The Internet is a great way to meet other people with the same interests even if they live 5000 miles away.

Oh, wait a minute. I also forgot to upload and share with you this little quilt. I received this little beauty last month from Mary Pat in Wisconsin. She made a very nice use of prairie points to set off the appliquéd flower. I love the offset flower and borders. The colors are great. I love the fact that even the more matured ladies are daring enough to use such bold colors! Bravo ladies!!

 And what is yet to come? Hmm...more mini quilts. I am anxious to show you the next quilts soon. I also have on in the works for Moda Bake Shop which should be posting in November 2013. Until then, use up those scraps and start making minis!!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

WWII Bomb found in my neighborhood

Have you ever had one of these days?? I was working on sorting out all of my fabric and was progressing nicely, when I received a knock at the door and this notice was pushed into my hand. If you don't understand German, this is what it reads:

"Due to a bomb found in the vicinity of the Public Pool, the surrounding radius of 300 meters must immediately be evacuated! Please leave the marked area. The bomb will be defused at 2pm. We will inform you when the danger has passed."

Okay. It was 12:30pm and I was just starting to make lunch. I threw together some things and packed the kids up and left. We headed over to Günzburg to ate pizza in a nice café, a nice change in the daily pace. We arrived home a couple of hours later and fortunately, the bomb did not detonate.

We found out later that it was an Allied bomb from WWII that never exploded. I have encountered this before when we lived in Trier, but it was never so close to home at least not in my neighborhood and I didn't have to leave the house immediately with the kids.

You can read more about it here: Augsburger Allegemine in German, of course.

Friday, August 9, 2013

what book helped you learn how to quilt?

Today is the National Book Lover's Day in the United States, and I wanted to share with everyone the one book that helped me out the most when I started learning how to quilt. {And don't forget to check out the Moda Fabrics Blog to register in the Moda Bake Shop Chef Book Tour and you could win one of the books featured on their blog!}

Here it is: Quilter's Complete Guide by Marianne Fons & Liz Porter was published in 1993 by Oxmoor House, Inc. My mother parted with this cherished book when she found out that I started quilting. She too was a great quilter and taught classes at our local community college.

The book is thorough and talks about all different types of blocks from beginner to advanced as well as how to make miniature quilts. It talks about how to make templates, incorporating piping into a quilt, how to choose the setting of your blocks, different border possibilities, complicated Y-seam piecing, applique, Hawaiian quilts, Seminole, Sashiko quilting, the Folded-Star, etc., etc. It really is complete and has helped me repeatedly over time.

The first few years, I would always grab the book when I wanted to make my binding. Now, the information is stored on my hard drive {as my son would say}. I used to make continuous strip, double-folded, bias binding until I finally learned myself, it is simpler, faster and better to make and use straight grain strips. They make a crisper edge especially on the corners! But, I had a starting point! I have the basics stored in my head and adapt to make sewing and quilting easier and more practical.

I cherish my books and, periodically, pick one up to get new ideas or read something I had forgotten about. This is really one book that I need to re-read! You are never too old to learn.

What book has helped you the most to learn how to quilt? I would like to hear from you and so would Moda too!

Friday, August 2, 2013

schools out for the summer

Summer Vacation,  Ipswich Beach (USA) 2012
Summer vacation has officially started in Bavaria! My daughter had her last day of Kindergarten and will start First Grade in the fall. My son also had his last day of Second Grade on Tuesday. The weather is great with highs in the 30's (degree Celcius) almost everday. We all deserve this great weather after such a long, long winter. I can't help to think about the Tomton from Astrid Lindgrün.

I hope to have lots of fun with the kids this year with many visits to the public pool. We will not be going on a big vacation this year; we had a very big one last year. We spent three weeks on the road touring the upper New England states and visited my family in North Carolina.  We had a really great visit. It is a shame, we can't do it every year, but it just makes the time we spend together sweeter. So, it will be a relaxed summer this year.

It is great seeing the kids play together. That always isn't the case with part-time homeschooling as it is here in Germany most importantly Bavaria. The first two grades in school only run from 8am until 11:30am! (I hope next year it is a little bit better, at least until 12:30pm.) I spend at least one hour with my son doing homework and most days it takes two+ hours. There is after school care where the kids can go, eat lunch and do their homework, but there is a long waiting list. And if you don't have a job, you don't get a place. And if your child doesn't have a place, you don't get a job. So tell me politicians, how can we fix this problem?? Ganztagsschule für ALLE!

First on my list, is getting those old school papers under control and buying the new school supplies for the kids. Second, finding activities for the family to do, so we all have fun and don't go crazy. I am a bit of a procrasitinator, but work well under pressure. Something to rember to put on my resumé!

So, if I don't post anything for the next six weeks, you all know, that school is out for the summer, and we are having fun. I wish you all great weather and a happy, and relaxing time.

Friday, July 26, 2013

cutting strips from directional print fabrics


Do you sometimes use directional print fabrics or plaids and need to cut strips? Here is how your should be cutting those strips to ensure your print stays the same or your lines are relatively even on your plaids.

I was reminded of this problem just a couple of days ago when I needed some strips from this gorgeous turquoise and white fabric (with small repeating dots). When the fabric was folded, everything looked okay, at least on one side. When I flipped it over after cutting, I realized it was not very well lined up. I pulled on the fabric trying to get the grain in line again, but it just wasn't lining up right. It is frustrating when you just want things to go smoothly and speedy. Hhhmmpf.

So, here is what I did to correct it. I unfolded the fabric. Yes, I did. It can be liberating when you don't follow rules. I got the fabric as straight as possible on the cutting mat after ironing and stretching to get it lined up better. I evened one side with the  rotary cutter as much as possible. I extended my ruler to the other side of the fabric and evened it up at the same dot lines as the previous cut and continued cutting. It is that simple you say!? Yes it is, but this is one valuable step you shouldn't be skipping. If you want everything straight and perfect, this one step that should not be forgotten. You could get a little fancy and fussy cut your strips, but that seems like an overkill, at least for my project.  {Fussy Cut DEFINITION: Every piece you cut looks exactly the same - the design in the fabric will create a design in the block.}


Okay, now were are rolling on. Once my strips were straight, I cut with my 6" square ruler to the size I needed.  I am working on a nine-patch block (I see it as a five patch) for the Doll Quilt Monthly and wanted all of my dots relatively straight. This is how it ended up. (Foto left)

This method doesn't always work though! Usually when working with plaids, I have to get out the old scissors and cut along the lines, because the fabric will never be straight enough to cut with a rotary cutter. It is a little more time consuming, but well worth the effort.

Enjoy your weekend. The weather is great! Summer has finally arrived. It almost feels like North Carolina weather here in southern Germany!

Friday, July 19, 2013

leipheimer kinderfest 2013


Hello everyone and welcome to the Karen Ackva's easypatchwork blogspot. Here I like to ramble on about (1) patchwork & quilting (2) my life in Germany as seen through the eyes of an American.

The weather has been really great the last couple of weeks. We have had barely any rain since the big flooding. (Our city water supply was washed out and now have to rely on a smaller emergency water reservoir; we have learned to live with less water!)

Last weekend we celebrated the Leipheimer Kinderfest which went on for three days. It was a huge event for the entire school, because the kids HAD to participate. They even had class on Saturday morning, because they practiced during regular school hours!

The Leipheimer Kinderfest is a festival primarily for the kids and seen as a thankfulness celebration. The first festival took place over 150 years after a long hunger period and is also seen as an Erntedankfest. For those of you in Germany, it is more like a Kürmis oder Jahresmarkt. For Americans it is more like a parade, dance show, carnival with a large Biergarten. The kids started out in unison from their school and walked to the center of the town where the mayor gave a short speech. We all proceeded with the parade of students and other important people throughout the town and down to the sports field where the students proceeded to perform dance and rhythm routines to bedazzle their audience.

My son's class worked on a scarf dance to "Walking on Sunshine." He had been practicing at home and in school for the last few weeks. And for a boy who doesn't like to dance too much, he performed very well!

I heard on the radio that over 40,000 people visited over the weekend. I think that is quite impressive. It is also host to the largest Biergarten in Schwaben! Biergarten(s) are really great in the summer months and you can enjoy the weather. My husband even put on his Lederhosen. I chose to leave my Dirdl at home. ;-) Yes, I do have one, but it is a little more "festive" and it was really hot. Excuses, excuses, I know!

If you live in the region or would like to visit something interesting on your vacation to Germany, check out the Leipheimer Kinderfest in July. It is something your really shouldn't miss.


Friday, July 12, 2013

the casually pieced Rückseite - FREE PATTERN

Hello everyone! Here it is...the long awaited free pattern for the BACKING of prairie Traditions. This very simple pattern can also be used for the the front of a quilt, of course. It goes together in less than one morning.

I made the backing from scrap pieces and just improvised the whole thing until it was large enough. I need to do a little more improv in the future. It does the soul good!

You can download a PDF version on my pattern download page. Remember to please leave some thanks if you decide to use the pattern for your own personal use.

I made my original quilt backing from "HONEY HONEY" fabrics from Kate Spain for Moda. The colorway is so trendy with color popping & blocking everywhere in oranges and blues.

I hope you enjoy.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

a sweet little cake for such a sweet little lady

Hi everyone! I wanted to share a little post with you about a birthday cake I recently made for my daughter.

Every year I think about and talk with my kids about what kind of birthday cake they would like. {In the recent years, my son has had the more elaborate cakes, so I thought I would go all out this year on my daughter.} I remembered we had looked at "How to make a Barbie Cake" video on the Internet. When I mentioned it to my daughter, her eyes lit up.

It really isn't that hard to do, either. It is just a regular white cake baked in a Pyrex glass bowl. You could also use a Gugelhupfform if you have one. You don't need to level off the top, because it will give you added height that you need. I used a teen Barbie; the regular sized Barbie was too tall. Wrap your doll first in Saran Wrap or Klarsichtsfolie before you stick her in the cake. You might want to hollow out a bit from the center first. Let your daughter(s) help you decorate. Make sure you take the doll out before you cut the cake. I don't thin Barbie will like all those cuts on her legs.

In the end, I hope this stays with her memories. It is the little things in life that count.

Enjoy your weekend!!

Friday, July 5, 2013

june '13 doll quilters monthly swap

I am so happy that I joined the Doll Quilters Monthly (Swap). Leonie over at strand-korb introduced me to the nicest and friendliest group of ladies. There are monthly challenges that make me think and create. I am a quilt designer and love a challenge!

This month's challenge is "fantasy." I thought about it a lot and wasn't quite sure what to do. Then I saw some really cute, bright fabric at our local fabric & drapery store. I bought a small amount of blues and greens, came home, and worked on some ideas involving mermaids. I thought I was onto something.

Then I received our swap partner's name and info from the very warm and supportive, Barbara. My very interesting partner, Mary Pat from Wisconsin, and I exchanged information to our likes, wishes, styles and dimensions. After I learned that she was more of a "traditional" quilter, I canned the idea with the mermaids. I thought the fabric would be just too loud. She also likes the darker colors such as reds, blacks, golds and brown - the more earthy color palette. And most importantly - she mentioned the theme of houses....okay...what can I whip up here.

I remembered I had a panel with fall colors, apples, orchards, and barns? Could that be something? I really love the fall colors. They remind me so much of home..huh..getting a little homesick. Back to the topic. I found the panel. I measured it and thought about what I could make to get a cute little quilt about 12 inches squared.

This is what I whipped up:

Birds in the Orchard

I originally wanted a little bird on a twig coming out of the apple and wondered how I could do this. I wanted to embroider it, but I have very little experience with embroidering. After I finished sewing it, I thought I would just leave it. It was pretty enough.

Since the flying geese are rather small (1 x 2 inch finished blocks), I thought I would use a technique I learned last year that makes the flying geese 3-Dimensional. It is so simple and easy and you don't have to worry sewing on a bias or stretching the fabric.

Okay, I designed the mini quilt and made a sample block and everything worked out fine! Wow! I made the center block 8,5 inches square unfinished. You can use a self-made block or fussy cut something. All options are open here. The rest of the blocks are 2,5 inches unfinished.


I really had so much fun with this that I made a second one in my favorite colorway - bright colors including somewhat of a turquoise. The name stays the same, because once again, it has an apple tree surrounded by birds. Go crazy with the pattern.
I am offering this as a free pattern and tutorial for those of you who would like to make a cute little quilt in just one day.

You can download it here.

Please remember - this is for personal use only and not for commercial use. If you would like to publish this pattern, you must request permission from easypatchwork first.

Thank you for your understanding and enjoy.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

a long awaited publishment

For those of you who know me, you would also know that Birgitte Heitland is my praised long-arm-quilter and colleague. She is such a creative and successful woman and a pleasure to know. She has quilted several of my quilts, and we have worked together on coming up with wonderful quilting designs for them.

When the Spring Quilt Market 2012 was coming round, I offered to help her sew one of her debuting quilts called "OHO". I didn't know what kind of challenge I was getting myself into. She sent me the fabric including a Layer Cake™ from her fabric line - Juggling Summer. This is a really great fabric that reminds me of fall and it was really enjoyable to work with.

We had one big hindrance with this project. Brigitte wanted to use the "Sew Kind of Wonderful" curved ruler and ordered it from the United States. Now, if you live abroad and order something from outside the country, you know you are gambling. You never know when those things are getting to get delivered and will usually be stuck in Customs for six to eight weeks. We waited and waited and waited, but it wasn't passing through. I offered to make some plastic templates from her sketches. Of course, I made two templates of everything, because when you start cutting with a rotary cutter, you are bound to cut part of the template away.

I put everything else on hold for one entire week to sew together and "practice" sewing half circles. If you have ever worked with circles, you may know, they can be challenging. They were! I felt a little bit like the Karate Kid with "wax on - wax off." I have now mastered the art of sewing curved seams. Yahoo!

There was one faux pas in the quilt, but I will leave this one little secret between Brigitte and myself. I hope she forgave me for it as well.

Anyway, Brigitte was happy with the result and dearly compensated me. After a really good presence at the Quilt Market, she also told me that OHO would be published in the Fons & Porter magazine and they would publish the sewers name - that being me!! I was so tickled and started scanning the magazine every couple of months to see if my name was in there.

A few weeks ago, I was curious to see if anyone else had sewn OHO. I googled, and found that it was listed online at Fons & Porter. It was FINALLY PUBLISHED. I no longer subscribed to the magazine, so I had to find a company here in Germany that stocked it. I ordered it, opened it and found the page and laughed out loud! My name was misspelled! As always, my name is spelled wrong. I had the problem when I was a young girl that people exchanged "ou" for "au" in Trautman. But this way, I had never seen it written before. {Trotzdem war ich immer noch begeistert und auch stolz.} This was my five minutes of fame. It made my day.

I am still curious to see other renditions of OHO. I would like to see those photographs and to hear about your experiences sewing this baby together.

I must compliment and praise the artist, Brigitte Heitland. She is a fabulous woman - eine echte Power-Frau! She is creative, innovative, bewunderswert! I have followed her career for the last couple of years, and she is totally on fire. Everything she touches turns to gold. I was truly honored to be a part of her circle if just for a short period of time.

Congratulations, Brigitte!! You can learn more about her at www.brigitteheitland.de or www.qdservice.de

Yours truly,
Karen (Trautman)-Ackva

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

lost in summertime feelings

Oh, my how flies by. I just checked out my own blog to realize that I have only ONE post in the Month of June. What was going on this month?? We had two birthdays and a house warming party! I had one weekend to enjoy the solitude of great weather and no interruptions where I could concentrate solely on my sewing hobby. How much better can life be?

I enjoyed a great post exposure of my new cutting table which was also posted at Ikea Hackers and took a little summertime break. I also finished up my DQM quilt for Mary Pat and will be sending to her within the next few days.

Here is what I made in my last weekend retreat - a cathedral window pin cushion. Now, this is my very first try at cathedral windows, and I am not the best at hand sewing. It takes me a while to get going and find my rhythm before my stitches are a little more even. The project is small, but I always take on more than I can chew; I just wanted to learn the technique and get a project finished!

When this one was done, I move on to the next one of learning how to sew in a zipper. I have sewn in zippers before, but I felt a little bit out of practice. I also learned how to "hide" the zipper underneath the fabric thanks to my dear instructor, Sabine of Quilt Oase!

I made four pillowcase covers for my old sofa in the new house. Since my wall in my dining room is PURPLE, I wanted to united the red sofa with the wall. I have been looking for the right fabric and then found this from Makower. I wanted it simple - [Simple, Easy, Practical] - The quilting took the longest since it was a "quilt as you sew" method.

I hope now that June is over, I have more time to get back to the topic at hand - more sewing and pattern designing. I have a new pattern waiting to be published. This one will be free of charge, because I want you all to have it and start your own sewing projects with it. It is a fun little project that your really can finish in just a few hours.

I would like to thank all of you that either subscribe or read my blog. I really and truly appreciate your support. Thank you for the wonderful comments as well.

Yours truly,
Karen

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

new customized sewing room cutting table

Hello everyone. Today is that one day of the week when the sun is SHINING! My spirits are up and am hopeful that summer is just around the bend. AND I am really EXCITED to share with you my new sewing room cutting table.

The table measures roughly 100 x 140 cm and is 92 cm high.

As some of you may have gotten or known, we bought a house and moved to Bavaria this year, and with it a new sewing room. Before, I always did my sewing at the kitchen table. We didn't have a formal dining area, so this multi-purpose room (sewing, breakfast/lunch/dinner, homework, crafting) got a little crowded at times. I really enjoyed sewing there on our dining table which was light birch wood.

Wow, a whole room for my sewing (and crafting). How much better can life get? I had a clean slate to design my area. I thought and designed and thought and designed. I am so happy I allowed myself time to think about it.

When we first moved in, everything got cluttered up in there - all of my fabric, hallway tables, two desks, crafts, bulletin boards, chairs, etc., etc. A couple of months later, I started to take the matter at hand and start to purge and organize (after most of the other fires in the house were tamed like light fixtures and kids' rooms). My husband was kind enough to offer me his office table which is 180 x 60 cm. This is really a great table and matches another smaller table of 120 x 60 cm (both from Ikea) which I wanted to use for my sewing. Of course, it is great to have such a LARGE table for basting and laying out patterns, and I was really thankful that my husband offered it to me, BUT I thought it took up too much space in my room to serve just one purpose of a table. I wanted storage room under the table. Do you know what I am talking about? I read blogs and looked for solutions and found that other sewers also had the same "beef". I need it simple-easy-practical (and multi-purpose).

Most of the ideas I found involved Expedit shelving from Ikea. (I love Swedish design and not just from Ikea.) I found a really nice cutting table using 2 (2 x 4) Expedit shelves and a butcher blog top on wheels. Probably most of you have seen this? I wanted my cutting table smaller so I can also put in a couple of book shelves for storing books and fabrics, so I found another version at Ikea Hackers for an awesome cutting table using 3 (2 x 2) Expedit shelves. I wanted to have legs on mine so I could sweep under the table when needed. (I hope I don't need wheels or casters in the future.)

My husband was really wonderful and did most of the work for me!! Thank you, Schatz!

Here is the material list:

QTYDescription
Price






32 x 2 Expedit shelves or similar
66€






8Capita 11 cm legs20€






1118 x 79 cm Pressed Board? "Spannplatte"
10€






10Small L-Brackets
15€






1100 x 140 cm Butcher Block Counter Top (beech wood unfinished) 18 mm thick
60€






50?Wood Screws








1Can of Birch Color Wax-Stain
 12€






1Strong and Willing Partner to do the dirty work








Various Grains of Sand Paper








2Optional Drawer Set of 2 for Expedit 
30€







Rough Expenses
200€







We started by putting the shelves together per Ikea instructions. (My husband has become THE Ikea furniture builder the last couple of months.) After I sanded the edges of the pressed board, we then set it on top and screwed them in place. There will be a one centimeter gap between the shelves that butt up back to back. That is one reason why the additional board is needed. Then attach the legs. We were very calculated when lining up and measuring the distance of the legs. I am a quilter and have all of the necessary tools. ;-) Please refer to diagram for a better idea of where to put the wood screws; remember, there is a gap between the shelves. (We first attached only six legs and found that it needed more stability in the middle. Seven legs give a good design and added stability.) Here is a good stopping point.

After we got the butcher block from the home improvement store - we had to order and wait on the wood, my husband put a wax a stain on the counter. I didn't want a dark stain and was pleased with the natural look but KNOW that I will have a cup of coffee on the top and with it a stain. A clear lack coat would not work for me, because I didn't want the red beech wood to show through. So, we needed a water-resistant coating. We choose a birch coating just to knock of the look of redness of the beech wood. One coating is enough. Let it dry for a couple of days. Sand with fine sand paper.

Oh, my hubby only stained the top and sides per my request. If your counter top is not super flat, you will want to stain the side that is bowed up like a boat. When the board is screwed down to the base, it will level out better.

Then we put the counter top on the floor right side down and the base on top. We centered the base, pre-drilled wholes for the wood screws and screwed the L-Brackets to three adjacent sides of the counter top. The base was flipped back over and counter top was slid over one end. Then the counter top was screwed to the last side and then to the base. We carefully flipped the table back over one last time and voila!

I was so excited to see my table finally set up....I took some snapshots and ran to the basement for my quilting books and magazines. (Check) Two more boxes sorted and emptied. Twenty to go.

If you build this cutting and crafting table, leave me a comment so I can check it out.

I look forward to sharing more ideas from my sewing room in the future. Stay tuned and keep sewing and crafting.

Yours truly,
Karen

Update: Some things I forgot to mention in the post yesterday.

If you don't want to spend the money for a butcher block counter top, just buy a second piece of pressed or chip board the same size as the base. Invest the money into large cutting mats and your cutting surface is finished. I personally like the look and feel of wood, so this was a better option for me.

Also, there is a gap between the cutting table and the wall! I thought about this before we made the table. We could have extended the cutting top on three sides and left the base flush with the wall, but then my options of moving it around in the room would have been limited. Now, I have a little extra space at the end of the table (where the wall is) where I can put my large cutting mat or rather my travel bag with cutting mat and rulers.

If you don't want to put legs on the base, you could also attach spacers at the top and raise the counter top up so the table is at a good height for cutting. Ninety centimeters is a good height for a 5'5" quilter. Then, you could put your mat and rulers between the base and the counter top. I would still recommend connecting all three shelves at the bottom and top though.

Oh, also, these shelves and drawers come in a variety of colors now from pink to turquoise. Go wild!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

sneaky-peeky

I am working on a new pattern for a bright chevron doll quilt. Here is a little sneak preview.

I like the look of the chevron pillows and blankets out all over, but I don't like the short cut of making half-square triangles. I have been looking into all of the different ways to make chevrons from sewing on paper to sewing scraps together and cutting at an angle. Which technique really makes sense and when? Once I have everything figured out  or the simple-easy-practical-way, I will upload the pattern for all of you.

I hope you check back on this one to download the pattern. I am really liking this one and Barbie will like it even more! :-) If she doesn't reside in your home, you can always put it in a nice frame and hang it in the hallway.

Enjoy your weekend and holiday if you have one!

Karen
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