Saturday, December 31, 2016

2017 Goals

Last year I posted a list of goals for 2016. I want to revisit those goals and then share some new ones for 2017 with you.

2016 Goals
1) Publish 6 patterns -
The Picnic Quilt, Star Light, Star Bright Sampler, Criss Crossing, Frayed Edges, Winter Cheer, and even though Seaside Steps is in the Feb/Mar 2017 issue, it did technically come out in Dec 2016.
I think we'll call that good.

2) Schedule 4 trunk shows - 
Ummmmm, nope. Not a one. That is totally on  my shoulders, since I didn't even go out and try. 

3) Get published in a magazine

4) Find more testers-
Yes! I'm thrilled with the help I've had. My testers are amazing.

5) Blog once a week -
Well, that didn't happen, did it?

Where to go from here...

2017 Goals

1) Publish 8 patterns - I feel like I need to keep growing, but if I don't hit 8, I'm going to be ok with that. I'm a wife, mother and family child care provider, giving myself a little slack is important.

2) Schedule 1 trunk show. - See what I did there? Hahahaha! Well, I still want to do these, but I'm going to have to figure out how. So lets start with 1, shall we.

3) Get published in a different magazine - I've already had a rejection from a different magazine, but I'm hoping to get picked up by another one. If at first you don't succedd, try, try again.

4) Step out of my comfort zone and video a couple of tutorials - I've got nothing to add to that. Scary!

5) Contact other distributors and stores - It's time to get those patterns out there!

6) Grow my readers! That's you! What do you like to see in a blog? Do you like email lists? Share your thoughts in the comments!

I'm excited to get 2017 started!!

Happy Stitching!

PS. Check back tomorrow for the first in a series of Mug Rug tutorials. By the end of the year you will have a set of 12, perfect for keeping your drink of choice and a sweet handy. 

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Wednesday, December 28, 2016

A look back at 2016

The end of 2016 is drawing near and it's the perfect time to sit back and evaluate, as well as give yourself credit for the things you have accomplished.

I am going to share with you a few things that really helped 2016 feel like a growing year for me. In the midst of the hustle and bustle of life, the year goes by fast and tends to blur, so sit back, grab a cup of coffee (or wine, it's 5 o' clock somewhere) and lets take a look back.

I'll start with Valentine. This was a Picked By Jen post. You can find all of them here. This little project sat un-quilted for 2 years. I challenge you to go pick out something small and finish it. It is quite motivating!

Next, my way of making a miniature hanging sleeve. Putting together a tutorial is a little intimidating. There are different ways to do the same thing, so I always question if the way I do it is the correct way. I think I've gotten to the point where I can say, it's my way, and that's ok. This is, however, the only tutorial I have, so maybe I'm not that brave. Ha! 

After doing a tutorial the next step was another free pattern.  This one is quite simply, The Picnic Quilt.  It was fun to do a little photo shoot with my daughter. This was a quick and simple quilt that was just fun to make.

Having Criss Crossing published in a magazine was a highlight of the year. I still get goosebumps when I pick up that issue

I was a part of the 2016 New Quilt Bloggers Blog Hop. That was such a great experience and so helpful. It was great being able to connect with other new bloggers as well as get help from them. 

Joining the Cloud 9 New Block Blog Hop was so fun, and a bit nerve wracking. Those fabrics were to die for, and making that first cut had me almost dying. Too soft and pretty to ruin with a missed cut! 

I have to share this one, because it still makes me giggle. The only cute mosquito there is!

I was asked to take a class, Understanding Value from CraftU, and give my thoughts on it. This was a first for me and it was an honor and a thrill. Plus, it was also educational. :)

I will end with Seaside Steps. My second magazine published pattern, again with McCalls Quick Quilts. I hope the thrill of seeing my patterns all shiny and in print never grows old. If I'm having an off day, or can't seem to get motivated, I pull this out and it energizes me.

Thank you for taking a trip down 2016 memory lane. Thank you for reading, thank you for (hopefully) laughing with me, and thank you for commenting and being a part of Patterns By Jen. Have a blessed last few days of 2016. Bring on 2017!

Happy Stitching!

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Seaside Steps - A McCalls Quick Quilts contribution

I am so excited to introduce you to Seaside Steps.

You can find this pattern in the February/March 2017 issue of McCalls Quick Quilts. In an upcoming blog post I will have another idea for this pattern to be used for college students. Currently, though, there is a free download provided by McCalls Quilting to make this quilt in multiple sizes. Score!

Seaside Steps uses my favorite block, the Half Square Triangle, with a quick and easy block in between that is perfecto for fussy cutting. The HST and I have a love/hate relationship, but once the squaring up is done it's nothing but love. This is a great pattern if you have a large print you want to show off, or if you have a smaller print you would like to fussy cut for the centers. Or hey, do both like the original. Those mermaids are adorable!!

Fabrics for this quilt come from the Camelot Fabrics collection, Under the Sea. Those little mermaids are adorable, but check out the other little sea animals that are just too cute. Those crabs! Aack! So cute! The colors in the collection are so amazing and saturated and the fabrics so soft and enjoyable to work with. 

The Feb/Mar 2017 issue is available for purchase online here, the hardcopy will hit stores by December 27th, 2016. 

To celebrate the awesomeness that is having your pattern printed in a magazine, I am having a giveaway. I have TWO magazines for two lucky quilters. Leave a comment below with the colors you would choose to make Seaside Steps in and the Random Number Generator will choose two winners. Contest ends Friday, December 16th at 11:59 PM. 

Do you know what is really cool? Going into your download folder and finding two WOW buttons, because you have been in McCalls Quick Quilts twice. That is pretty WOW!!

Now go comment and good luck!!!

Happy Stitching!

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

December Picked By Jen - Elf Stockings

Picked By Jen posts are posts where I show you something I have made from a chosen tutorial that I found "somewhere on the web". It has been a while since I've done one, and what could be more perfect for December than stockings? 

Not the greatest picture, but it still makes my heart smile.

I chose the Elf Stocking (you will need to scroll down the page a bit to get the free download) from Patty Young of MODKID

If you are looking for a quick, cute stocking pattern, this is it. Look at those elf toes!!

Since I made six stockings, I traced the pattern onto interfacing. That way I could cut several and it would still be in good shape. Once I was done with it, I was able to just stick it into a manila envelope for storage and not worry about the tape coming off, or the paper getting creased. Maybe, years from now, I'll need to make little stockings to match. Though the more likely scenario is that we'll lose one and I'll need to make another next year.

When I use interfacing as a pattern, I position it on the fabric like any other pattern and then use weights to hold it all in place. In this case it was cans of chili beans. 

Then I use my rotary cutter. Since I found PDF clothing patterns, I have been convinced that scissors are no longer necessary for cutting out any fabric. Rotary cutter all the way...usually.

Even for that small area I pulled out my little 18 mm rotary cutter, and it worked perfectly. Just go slow and easy and I think you will find you like it.

I made one stocking all the way through, to make sure I understood the instructions, then made the last 5 all at once. 

CUTE!!  (If I do say so myself.)

The only thing I changed was that I added a lining, simply because I didn't like the feel of the fleece.  Nancy Zimmerman also added a lining, you can see her sock, and get instructions for that, here.

If you want to make a quick, cute Elf Stocking, this one really was quick, and I think completely adorable. 

Happy Stitching!

Friday, December 2, 2016

Understanding Value in Quilt Design - A Craft University class review

I was so excited to be asked to take and review a Craft University class. My choice. Any class. Um, is it my birthday?  It was difficult to choose just one, and I will definitely have to find time to take another one...or two... or three...

So which one, which one. 

I chose to take the Understanding Value in Quilt Design from Grace Errea of Amazing Quilts by Grace. I've always wanted to learn more about color/hue/value/contrast and everything else that has to do with making a good quilt, great. I don't know about you, but I've had a quilt or two that I was so excited about, only to have it be ho hum, or dare I say, even ugly. How disappointing is that?! All of that hard work and it's just not the stunning masterpiece you thought it would be. Sometimes, you can't even explain why. I think that's where this class will be helpful.

Getting close ups of those gorgeous quilts is a huge added bonus.

There are a couple of useful tools for you to choose from. You can either buy Grace's Value Matching Tool, or you can download her Periodic Table of Value in Color. While I didn't buy the Value Matching tool (I wanted to get going on this class), I did write it down on my Christmas wish list. Let's hope hubby reads it, because after taking the class I realize I need all the help I can get! I did download and print the Periodic Table of Value in Color and I found it extremely helpful. 

Lesson 1 goes into what Value is and how to organize your tone on tone fabrics. (Which, by the way, I don't have a lot of. Apparently I like prints. Who knew!) Each color, or hue, has a value. Grace introduces you to the difference, shows off some amazing quilts and goes into detail about value.  Then she does a crazy thing. She assigns homework. *GULP* Organizing. Your. Stash.  It's a blessing and a curse to know what is in your stash. I thought I was really good about getting rid of scraps. Turns out, I was wrong.

Actually, this was one of my favorite things to do in the class. I think I need to go though and touch and organize my fabrics more often. I have some really pretty pieces that I forgot I had. I tend to buy only what I need for a project, so those extras that I find and purchase get left in the bottom of the bucket. Awww, poor fabrics. 

Though I found I had a ginormous (for me) pile of greens, I stuck with her suggestion to value-ize my reds. It's not as easy as it sounds, for me anyway, but it is worth it!

I think I did pretty well.

In Session 2, Working With Value to Create a Focal Point, we got an assignment with a little added bonus. Did you know you can make your drawings into posters...for free!!!  I tried out the website Grace shares, and it is as easy as she says. I didn't use this size for my project, just printed it out as a test. Yay for poster sized goodness!

So big, I had to stand on a chair, see!

When you are looking at quilts, your eye is drawn to certain areas. Have you ever wondered why? I bet you have discussed it with your quilting buddies at shows or in the shops. How do you make your quilt come to life? How do you give it movement? It all has to do with value choices. 

 Here is my version of our homework assignment from Session 2. 

It's ok, but I could use some work in the value department. As I look at this picture I realize I forgot the little piece of highlight to really make it 3D. Whoops! C+ for effort?

When we get to my Periodic Table of Value in Color you will see how I am missing some values. In the case of the apple, I improvised by "skillfully" placing a piece between the white. That darker part on the apple, that's the backside of a fabric. Improvisation, baby. 

Session 3, Create a High Value Block and a Low Value Block, is harder then it seems. At least it was for me. If I learned anything from this class, I am not good with value. Ha! I think part of my issue was lighting. In MN it really is dark at 5 pm, which makes a difference in what you see. At least it did for me. The other issue is, it's a new skill for me.  One I definitely have not worked on before, but this class was a great starting point.

Here are my versions of our homework assignment. As you can see, I need a little work. :)

High Value

Low Value

The last session, Portable Periodic Table of Value in Color, was a wee bit eye opening. As in, I apparently don't like the lighter anything. I have to say, it's a surprise! I thought I drifted towards lighter things, but apparently I have a dark side. Who knew. Well, probably my hubby, which means it's pretty much guaranteed that I will be getting the Value Matching Tool for Christmas. Bwaahaahaahaa!

A stop at the LQS, Fabrics Plus, was needed to fill in those empties, especially those greens. Remember, I said I had a ginormous pile? I guess I don't like green greens, though, because it was mostly yellowy greens. 

I think this will be a good tool for me. There are still some spaces to fill, but I didn't want to force anything. Besides, this way, I'll have to go back to the quilt shop and play with more fabric. Bummer!

Who knew orange would be so hard?!

While it was a little different, and felt a little slow, I enjoyed the class. This is quite possibly because it is the first online quilting class I have taken. You see, I have always liked to talk in class, much to the dismay of my teachers. I was lonely. Plus my instructor Grace didn't laugh at my jokes.   I learned something (that is so important) about value and hue, and the lack of it in my stash, and I get to continue practicing what I learned (even more important). If you are hoping to have a good understanding of how value works in your quilting, I recommend this class. I am looking forward to going through it again, because it will definitely be worth the time to have Grace teach me again. Even if she doesn't laugh at me jokes.

Happy Stitching!

**No affiliation to any of the links shared. The opinions, and jokes, are all mine.**