Monday, October 6, 2014

Around the World Blog Hop

I was tagged by Amanda at Material Girl Quilts to take a turn on the Around the World Blog Hop. Although I have never met Amanda is person, I consider her a friend as she has been kind, supportive and encouraging to me since I started my quilting and blogging journey. She is also a talented quilter, so be sure to drop by her blog and say hello.

On to the questions:

#1 - Where do I live? I live on the west coast of Florida on the border between Sarasota and Bradenton. The hot summers can be unbearable, but the warm winters make up for it and the beaches are beautiful. I don't get down there nearly enough!!

#2 - What am I working on now?  I have several quilts in the process of being pieced and too many that have completed tops and need to be quilted. I have to admit that my free motion quilting skills are not yet where I would like them to be and that is making me hesitate to quilt them. Which makes no sense because I am only going to improve if I practice.

#3 - How does my work differ from others in its genre? One of the marvelous things about quilting is the endless possibilities there are due to the choices in fabric, methods of quilting, techniques and embellishments. I think that is these choices that make my work unique, as it does for all quilters. I like an eclectic mix of modern, vintage, bright, soft, low volume, neutrals, floral and geometric fabrics so it is easy to have a look that is all my own.

#4 - Why do I create what I do? It is a difficult question to answer because I create simply because I must for my own joy (and sanity).   I have always been creative and am definitely happiest when working with fabric and thread. Quilting is my current passion, but I also make bags, pillows, and occasionally still make garments.

#5 - How does my creative process work? For me, it usually begins with the fabric, whether just one fabulous print or an entire collection. I rarely have the entire project planned out in advance,  just a general idea and a pile of fabric. I begin small and play with the fabric and watch it grow. Yes, I make mistakes and sometimes things don't work out the way I envisioned, but that is part of the process. I have had to teach myself that not only is it okay to fail, but it is an essential part of the learning process.


I am tagging my online and real life friend, Sarah of Stitching and Bacon. She has a great sense of color and style and makes the coolest quilts! She also has a great sense of humor that comes through in her blog posts and I always enjoy reading about what she has been up to.

Happy Sewing,

Tessa Marie

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Thursday, October 2, 2014

In Progress - Low Volume and Vintage Rose Quilt

Last week, I asked for your opinions on the layout of this quilt. Thank you so much to all of you that responded, I thoroughly enjoyed reading all the comments. As you can see, I decided to line up the blocks so that the crosses are even. Many of you agreed that the background appears less busy and distracting to the crosses.

romantic low volume and cross quilt top by the sewing chick

Most of the prints are Verna Mosquera October Skies. These aren't colors I would normally choose, but I just love them! They make me want to put on a pair of cowboy boots and a long skirt and move to the Texas Hill Country!! The low volume prints are a mixture of stash fabrics, many from a charm swap I did a while ago.

While I do like the scrappy low volume background, I would like to make the quilt again with a single background fabric and offset the blocks.

The blocks measure 12" unfinished and I used the following dimensions. Thank you to Kristy Daum 
who provided the diagram to our Trust Circle of do.Good Stitches. It was our September block.

                                                     Low Volume Oakshott Plus Block by AdrianneNZ

This block is so versatile, you can make it in any size you would like, just by adjusting the size of the squares and rectangles. I have seen plus blocks made in all sizes and shapes.

I hope to get this basted and quilted this weekend!!

Linking up with:

Needle and Thread Thursday

Happy Sewing,

Tessa Marie

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Friday, September 26, 2014

Deciding on a Layout

I am posting this today to share some insight into my quilt making process, and perhaps to give you a little something to think about.

As I was sewing these blocks, I was certain that I would lay them out in an offset arrangement as in the second photo above. I generally prefer this type of layout as the eye moves all over the quilt instead of following a straight line.

After sewing the columns together, I put them up on the design wall so that the crosses lined up in rows as in the first photo. (Thinking that I would tell you all why I didn't make the quilt this way!)

What I discovered was that while I like the crosses offset, the low volume squares look better lined up. They disappear more into the background and don't fight for your attention like I think they do when misaligned.

Of course, this quilt will probably be scrunched up on a sofa or the end of a bed so it doesn't really matter, but now I can't decide which layout to choose.

So, I am asking the audience with this one. Would you choose the first option or the second one. Or do you think it doesn't matter and I am only going to drive myself crazy with over-thinking!!

Thanks for your input!

Happy Sewing,

Tessa Marie

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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

In Progress

At the moment, it seems as though everything is "in progress."  I find myself jumping from one project to the next and finishing nothing. As much as I would like to be able to start a quilt and see it through to the end without interruption, I have come to accept that just isn't how I roll. And that is okay!

I am currently piecing three quilt tops.

This one...

This one...

And my newest start, this one...

I also have five tops that are waiting to be quilted, some of which I don't even like anymore. Crazy.

The funny thing is that I have more time than ever to be sewing and yet I am getting less done. A paradox that I have yet to decipher, although it may have something to do with my easily distracted mind!!

I am hopeful to at least have a complete quilt top to share by the end of the week. I hope you all are sewing up something wonderful!!

Linking up today at Freshly Pieced for Work in Progress Wednesday.

Happy Sewing,

Tessa Marie

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Thursday, September 11, 2014

What I am Working On...

Fueled with an overwhelming desire to use my stash I pulled a bunch of aquas, greens and golds and got to work on the above block. The pattern is Sarah Fielke's Ups and Downs - I love that it is easy squares and half square triangles, but the arrangement makes for an interesting and more complex looking design.

The Heather Bailey Nicey Jane roses at left is my inspiration fabric. It has been hanging out on my shelf for way too long and I like it too much to let it to continue to languish.  Large scale prints don't have to be used in large pieces. By cutting 3 1/2" squares, I get a lot of different looks from the same fabric, depending on which area of the design is in each square.

Twelve squares from 16 fabrics plus 48 slightly larger squares to make the half square triangles.

For a soft, natural look, I have paired the prints with Robert Kaufman Essex linen in natural. I haven't used the linen in a quilt before - I hope it washes well!

When I start a new project, I make a test block first to be sure that I like it and to figure out any details the pattern may have left out, like which way to press the seams. I am usually a press to the side girl, but with this pattern, it makes more sense to press all the seams open. I like pressing open with half square triangles because it enables me to see the diagonal seams to get nice points.

Now that the test block is done, I can do the rest in an assembly line process and they should go together much more quickly. Off I go!!

Happy Sewing,

Tessa Marie

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Friday, September 5, 2014

Finally, a Finished Quilt

Just in time for her birthday, I finished the quilt I made for my oldest daughter!! It is the Color Dive pattern from Anna Maria Horner and I used mostly her fabrics from the Dowry collection and True Colors.

It measures 70" x 75", sort of an odd size, but it originally had another row of squares on the top that had to be cut off.  Maybe I messed up or maybe the longarm quilter put the backing on sideways, leaving it too short. Whatever. It is meant to be a couch, cuddle quilt so the size isn't super important.

It is the first time I have had a quilt quilted professionally and I am really pleased with how it turned out! It was hard to choose a thread with all the different colors in the quilt, but I went with a varigated Aurifil polyester longarm thread #5512 (I think it is called Mango Mist). I like the variation of colors and that the stitching really shows.

The backing had to be a cuddly flannel, so I chose this one from Anna Maria's Little Folks line. I liked it and it was on sale at a local shop - win, win! The binding is a Quilting Treasures print that has been in my stash forever - free!! It is machine stitched as usual. The batting is a little thicker than what I use (Quilters Dream 70/30 blend), so I glue basted to be sure I would catch the binding on the back as I stitched.

It almost fits on a bed...

Or looks pretty folded up at the end of the bed...

However she uses it, I hope she loves it and knows how much love I put into it!

I was going to send it to her, but I think instead I will deliver it in person so I can see her reaction when she opens it!

I love sewing for family and friends!!

Have a super weekend everyone and...

Happy Sewing,

Tessa Marie

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Linking up with these linky parties!



Thursday, September 4, 2014

Partying at my Local Shop

Last Friday night, I joined the gang at my favorite local quilt shop to celebrate their appearance in the latest issue of Quilt Sampler magazine. The Cotton Patch is owned by Laura and Tim Flynn, who, along with their staff always make their customers feel welcome and appreciated.

All the invited guests received a free, autographed copy of the magazine and a gift certificate to the shop. So generous and so cool!

Not only is the shop in the magazine, but Laura has the additional honor of her quilt gracing the cover!!
The sea colored quilt, aptly named Sea Swept, is inspired by ocean waves, perfect for a Florida shop!

They are selling kits to make this beauty yourself, available here.

After partnering with a local machine dealer, Tim has become quite adept at quilting with the longarm and offers quilting services in a huge choice of patterns. Here he is taking my Color Dive quilt off the machine. I wish you could see the stitching in this picture - it is beautifully done in an allover pattern of leaves and flowers.

The shop carries an array of quilting cottons, from traditional to moderns, solids, prints and blenders and even have a section of "Florida" fabrics. My favorite new line is"Cherie" by Frances Newcombe for Art Gallery. Quite a nice bundle of fat quarters came home with me! These are going to make a beautiful quilt!!

Everyone there had such a great time. I do my share of purchasing on line, but I shop locally whenever I can. You just can't beat the friendly and knowledgeable service and always being greeted by name upon entering. Plus, most shops are able to order anything you may need, just ask. So Congratulations to Tim and Laura, and thank you!!

Happy Sewing,

Tessa Marie

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Monday, September 1, 2014

Welcome September

Hello my dears!! I have been away too long and have missed you! I took a little break for what I thought would be a week, which turned into two and then a whole month.  Some of you inquired as to my whereabouts which I appreciated.

So, what has happened in the last month?

I turned 48. When I first entered my 40's, I would say things like, "I am not having any more birthdays...", I hated the idea of getting older. But now,  every birthday is a celebration - another year to love life and do more of what I love. Actually each day is a celebration - another opportunity to be joyful and have fun.

I took this baby to college 850 miles away.

How did he grow up so fast? I blinked and he turned into a man. My heart misses him, but he is a great kid and I am excited for his opportunity and so proud of all he has done and is yet to do.

I revamped my sewing room, adding better storage for fabric and all the other do-dads we quilters seem to acquire. These are Billy bookcases from Ikea - open shelves for the pretties and doors to hide the boring stuff. The room is still a work in progress, but I am so close! When it is completely finished, I promise a post with all the details.

And because I know you love the quilty eye candy, look at this gorgeous sewing machine cover I got in the SewSewModern5 swap. So many of my favorite fabrics and beautifully designed and quilted! I almost don't want to take it off my machine to sew!  It came from super awesome Karen Peachey, aka @sewpeachey - she's the best!!

Happy Sewing,

Tessa Marie

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Friday, August 1, 2014

Patchwork Rainbow Duffle Bag

I can finally share this patchwork duffle bag that I recently made for the Sew Sew Modern 5 swap on Flickr. My partner asked for a duffle bag in a rainbow of colors so I didn't want to share pictures before she received it so as not to spoil the surprise!!

It began with Simplicity pattern #2600 because I really liked the shape of the rounded ends. Of course I had to make some amendments to the pattern to accommodate the patchwork and because I have a habit of thinking patterns can always use a little tweaking! All the fabrics came from my stash and I pre-quilted the pieces with a 1" grid.

I put outside pockets on both sides of the bag because a pocket is the perfect place to showcase something special like these stars.

The end pockets got the star treatment, too!

I shortened the side panels and added a bottom panel of dark canvas. This eliminated the annoying center bottom seam and the canvas will hopefully be more durable as well as hide any dirt.

For the straps, I used the same dark canvas as the bottom and added a carefully cut strip of Riley Blake lime green stripe, top-stitched in place. The straps are sewn into the bottom panel seam instead of going all the way around the bag as in the pattern.

The inside is this fun large scale text print from Windham Fabrics. The seams are encased with bias tape for a neat finish.

The inside pocket is out of the same lime stripe used in the straps. My labels are made by me on my printer. Amateur! I really would like to get some nice, professionally done labels.

I used a zipper from my favorite bag zipper maker - This one is 24" and was just barely long enough!

This is a big bag - about 24" wide and 12" high. To puff it up for these photos, I put a standard bed pillow inside and there was extra room!!

My swap partner has a sweet little girl and I thought it would be fun to send her a little tote bag to match her mama's. (photo bomb by Lucy!)

She posted a picture of her little girl toting her favorite stuffed bunny in the bag which just made me so happy!

It is so rewarding to make a gift for someone with love and care in every fabric selected, every stitch and then see how much they appreciate it!!

And finally, this cute little luggage tag completes the set. It is also in Simplicity pattern #2600, but I just used the pieces and made it differently. I wanted the contrast window to be on the front instead of the back (you can't see it on the back!!)

The Sew Sew Modern swap is fantastic, teeming with talented sewists and quilters. I imagine there will be a #6 - if you are interested then follow @crandons and @quiltingfairy on Flickr to get an invitation to join.

Are you curious as to what I received in the swap? It is so wonderful that it deserves a post of its own...stay tuned!

Linking up to these blogs:

Fort Worth Fabric Studio Blog              


Happy Sewing,

Tessa Marie

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