Monday, September 1, 2014

Craft Book Month Blog Hop

Quilt Color Workshop Parquet Pillow by Heidi Staples of Fabric Mutt

One of my favorite events of the year is the Craft Book Month Blog Hop hosted by Craft Buds. Now that I've gone through the process of writing a sewing book myself, I have a whole new level of respect for craft book authors. You're not just holding a book in your hands. Those pages represent..
  • almost two years spent dreaming, writing, sewing, photographing, editing, and rewriting
  • 2am bedtimes, 5am mornings, and gallons of caffeine laden beverages
  • endless sacrifices of family members who gave up time with the author to make that book possible
  • the author's heart, so full of hope that you will benefit from what he or she is sharing with you

It's easy for us to pick up a book, flip through the pages, and make a quick judgment of whether it's any good or not. I've been guilty of that myself. Now I look at the rows of colorful titles on the shelf at Barnes & Noble, and all I see is an ocean of blood, sweat, and tears. It makes me want to buy a copy of every new sewing book that comes out just to validate the work that I know went into it. As you can see by the stack above, which shows most of the books I've bought in the last year, I'm off to a good start. Meanwhile, I'm counting down the days until my book is released by Stash Books this coming March!

So let's get to the good stuff! For my book, I chose Quilt Color Workshop by the brilliant Fat Quarterly Team: Tacha Bruecher, Brioni Greenberg, Lynne Goldsworthy, and John Adams. This book is like a college course on sewing with color. After giving you an overview of the basics, the book is divided into six sections -- by color, of course -- each filled with quilt block designs and a variety of projects. I absolutely love that each quilt block is presented in six different colorways, illustrating the six color relationships described in the introduction.

It took me days to settle on just one project from this book, but I finally chose Tacha's Parquet Pillow. The original version above is done in a monotone colorway of green, white, and black. At first glance it looks like a simple cross design made more complicated, but all those thin strips of fabric sewn together give this pillow top an incredible sense of texture.

Quilt Color Workshop Parquet Pillow by Heidi Staples of Fabric Mutt

I chose to make my pillow slightly smaller (nine blocks instead of sixteen) and went with a color scheme of purple, green, and cream. The colors are a bit out of my comfort zone, but I absolutely love the way it turned out. Most of my prints were from the new Cotton and Steel Basics, including the tiny green accents between the blocks, with favorite designs from Waterfront Park and Architextures mixed in too. The creamy background fabrics are Quilter's Linen and a great Paris map print by 3 Sisters.

Quilt Color Workshop Parquet Pillow by Heidi Staples of Fabric Mutt

I used cream colored thread by Aurifil for all of the quilting. Since the blocks have more than enough movement in themselves with all that piecing, I restricted my quilting to the sashing and outer border of the pillow. 

The envelope backing features one of my all time favorite prints: Star Pods in green from Les Amis by Patty Sloniger. I decided to skip the binding around the edge of the pillow cover to keep things simple. I am absolutely thrilled with how this pillow turned out, and for the record, my husband insists that this is one of his favorite things I've made. He loves the limited color palette and simple design. Again, the texture of this piecing is fantastic. My girls love to run their fingers over the pillow top when they cuddle with it on the couch in the family room, and I admit, I do the same when no one's looking!

This book is packed full of gorgeous projects that I want to try. Right now I'm trying to decide between Brioni's stunning color wheel quilt on the book cover or Lynne's amazing Calm Before the Storm quilt shown above. Decisions, decisions...

Keep reading for all the details on the Craft Book Month Blog Hop -- prizes included!

2014 Craft Book Month Blog Hop!

Monday 9/1: Fabric MuttLindsay Sews
Tuesday 9/2: Rae Gun Ramblings / Craftside
Wednesday 9/3: The Feisty RedheadThe Fabric Studio
Thursday 9/4:  Marci Girl Designs / Small Town Stitcher
Friday 9/5: LRstitched / A Prairie Sunrise
Monday 9/8: Hopeful Threads / sewVery
Tuesday 9/9: 13 Spools / Lisa Liza Lou
Wednesday 9/10: Stitch This! / My Sewcial Hour
Thursday 9/11: The Littlest Thistle / Fabric Seeds
Friday 9/12: Sew Sweetness / Clover + Violet
Monday 9/15: Inspire Me Grey / amylouwho

Link Up

9/1-9/30: Link up your craft book project at Craft Buds from your blog, your Flickr or (NEW THIS YEAR) Instagram, and enter to win prizes. Please hashtag your posts #craftbookmonth so we can find them!
Note: Even if you share on instagram, please also come back and link the instagram URL in the linkup tool on Craft Buds to be eligible for prizes!
You may link up any project you’ve made from a pattern in a craft book. That easy! You’ll tell us a little about the book, the project, how you personalized it, etc. Winners will be announced on Wednesday, October, 1!


1) One entry per person. 
2) Your craft book project must have been completed in 2014. 
3) Create a new blog post, instagram or Flickr photo (dated September 1, 2014 or later) and link back to Craft Buds/Craft Book Month in your post or photo description. In your post or photo description, make sure to list the craft book you used and provide a link if possible.
4) All winners chosen via Some prizes available to international winners, so please join us!


Visit Craft Buds and link up your craft book project during the window of Sept 1-30 and you’ll automatically be entered to win some fantastic prizes from the Craft Book Month sponsors!

Friday, August 29, 2014

Care Package Giveaway

I have just finished reading Diane's brutally honest post on fabric addiction -- true fabric addiction -- and it has touched me deeply. It was not so long ago that I was starting out in the online quilting world and had little to no money in our budget for any fabric purchases, let alone designer prints. I remember when my blog audience was a grand total of three, and when I couldn't seem to get anyone to consider my ideas for tutorials and projects. Back then, I had three little girls under the age of five and could hardly scrape out the time to sew at all. It wasn't easy, but I kept trying to do all I could with what I slow step at a time.

Over the past few years I have been blessed by family members who joyfully sponsored my hobby, friends who sent me special gifts, and companies who generously allowed me to work with their fabric and notions. Opportunities have come my way -- some that appeared by surprise and others that I had to chase after -- that I never dreamed I would really get to experience. I don't take this lightly. Not everything has gone the way I planned, but I am so grateful for the lessons I've learned through this journey. I know that I've been blessed by others, and it's my deepest desire to be a blessing to all of you through this blog and everything connected with it.

Today, I'd like that blessing to come your way in the form of a care package. I'm putting together some special bundles this week to send out to three of my lovely readers. It won't be a huge package, but I promise, it will be a good one. Leave me a comment below telling me what you love: colors, designers, fabric collections, themes, solids vs. prints -- be specific! Also let me know in your comment where you live - your state if you're in the U.S. and your country if you're international. I'll be randomly selecting two U.S. readers and one international reader to win. The giveaway will be open through Tuesday at midnight. Be sure to include your email address in the comment if you're a no reply blogger so that I can get in touch with you. Please spread the word to any friends you may have, especially to those who you know could use a little pick-me-up right now.

I can't send each of you a care package, but please know that I'm sending all of you a hug. Have a wonderful weekend!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014


Today I'm...

...writing a satchel tutorial.

...gathering a bag of scraps for a friend.

...waiting for fall. Impatiently.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Around the World Blog Hop

My sweet and talented friend Sarah of Berry Barn Designs was kind enough to ask me to be one of the next stops on the Around the World Blog Hop, a chance for artists of all kinds to talk about how they approach the creative process. Consider this your own free backstage pass to what goes on here at Fabric Mutt...

Look for the Craft Book Month Blog Hop and Quilter's Mixology Blog Hop, both coming in September!

What am I working on?

I've been a busy girl lately, trying to stay ahead of upcoming deadlines. At the moment I'm scheduled to be in four different blog hops next month, and that means a lot of sewing! Two of my projects come from the brilliant books you see above, both of which I highly recommend to you. I'm planning to write up a tutorial for my Tiger Tracks Satchel, and I have a few fun little projects on my "when I have time" list. I've also put in a bit of work on my book which is heading into the final editing stages this fall before it's released in the spring. I can hardly wait to share it with you!

How does my work differ from others in its genre?

I'm the queen of the quick finish! When I'm trying to juggle housework, homeschooling our three girls, sewing deadlines, family activities, and daily errands, there's nothing more valuable to me than a project that I can make in a day or two. When I can work on something a little more complex, it's always a treat, but I've learned to make peace with the reality of my time limits for now.

Inspiration is everywhere! Right now I'm loving the colors and graphic design elements in this row of old books that are sitting on the top shelf of my desk.

Why do I create what I do?

It's so interesting to look back on how my work has changed over the past few years. There are always going to be new patterns, designers, and color schemes that influence what I'm doing. I spend a good amount of time each month looking at design trends in a number of areas besides sewing -- fashion, graphic design, interior decorating -- and it's been a great learning process for me. I've seen my tastes swing back and forth between modern and traditional, landing somewhere in the middle. I've also really come to value simplicity in design.  I've said it before, and I'll say it again -- there's nothing more important than to make what you love. I think it's great to challenge yourself every now and again by trying something new, but it's a mistake to try to be something you aren't. The longer I sew, the more clearly I understand what I really love to make and the less likely I am to jump on a bandwagon that isn't for me. Of course, I can still appreciate the talent and thought that have gone into a project, even if it isn't something I would make myself. That's the beauty of this online creative community. Mostly I'm just incredibly grateful to have the chance to not only sew projects that make my heart sing, but to share them with people who care to hear about them. This blog has been one of the most amazing experiences of my life.

1. Patchwork Pouch, 2. Everyday Party Quilt, 3. Plain & Fancy Mini Quilt, 4. Katie Jump Rope Pillow, 5. Summer, 6. Nursery Versery Apron

How does my creative process work?

It depends on what I'm making. I've become really interested in how bags and other accessories are put together. I love to walk through the purse section of a department store and spend time looking at seams and taking photographs of interesting shapes. I'm sure the salespeople think I'm crazy, but I find it absolutely fascinating. I always get ideas for things I'd like to experiment with in bag patterns of my own.

I often sit down with graph paper and colored pencils to sketch out ideas before I start sewing, but sometimes I just throw all caution to the wind and start working without a definite plan in mind. I usually make notes when I'm creating a new pattern so that I can recreate the project if I want to write up a tutorial later on. Of course, once in a while -- say in the case of a certain previously mentioned satchel -- I get too excited and don't stop to write down measurements...

Heather Ross fabric is always a good idea...

When it comes to quilts, there are projects that I make to showcase fabric, and then there are fabrics I use because they let the pattern shine. I'm a stickler for getting things just right when it comes to design elements in any project I make. I'm not devastated if a pair of blocks don't match up perfectly or if my seams aren't pressed exactly right, but if I choose the wrong print for a quilt binding, it's going to haunt me every time I look at it. I probably spend more time on project design than on anything else, but I don't mind because it's definitely my favorite part of the process.

One of my current "little projects" in process -- a box bag featuring Denyse Schmidt's fantastic new Hadley collection

I hope you've enjoyed a little peek behind the curtain at how my creativity works. I've asked two of my oldest and dearest blogging friends to share with you next Monday. Beth is the amazing woman behind Plum and June, a blog which has done so much to promote and connect new sewing bloggers all over the world with her annual New Quilt Blogger Blog Hop. She always inspires me with her fearless sewing and her incredibly stunning photography (just look at this post to see what I mean). Becca writes a lovely, witty journal of her sewing adventures at Bryan House Quilts. She has a great eye for color and more patience with half square triangles than I will ever have. Mostly, though, I just desperately want her Nikki Tote Bag. Both of these ladies have been a huge encouragement to me in my own sewing journey, and I can't wait to see what the year ahead holds for them.

Thanks so much for stopping by!

Friday, August 8, 2014

Sewing School: Pillowcases

It's been a busy week of jumping back into a school schedule, which is both a tough adjustment (no more staying up until midnight watching Burn Notice with my husband) and a good one (little girls who are busy with classwork have less time to drive each other bonkers). Bunny has been begging me for another sewing lesson, and a special fabric package gave us the perfect opportunity for a new project. Illustrator Missy Kulik sent me a few of her cute designs on fabric this summer so that I could sew something up with them for my blog. Bunny immediately fell in love with the strawberry print, and we spent an afternoon making a new pillowcase for her bed. I even let her do a little sewing all by herself for this one, and I don't think I've ever seen her so proud.

Bear and Mouse were indignant to be left out, of course, but I still have this girly Diamonds & Rubies print left. I have no doubt that it will become a set of pillowcases before the month is over...

Friday, August 1, 2014

Fabric Audition: Palm Springs

Palm Springs Fabric Audition Zipper Pouch by Heidi Staples of Fabric Mutt

It's been a while since I've posted a fabric audition on the blog, but I'm hoping to share at least one or two of these each month from now on. Along with a curated stack of fabric, I'll be sharing a Pinterest board of photos to go along with the theme as well as a project made from the auditioned prints. I always enjoy auditioning fabrics, and adding these last two steps to the process has been so much fun!

Audition Stats (top to bottom): Barcelona City Map in Saffron by Zen Chic for Moda, Essential Dots Black on White by Moda, Modern Home Little Leaves by Monaluna, Nicey Jane Picnic Bouquet in Tangerine by Heather Bailey for Free Spirit, Sun Print Feathers in Onyx by Allison Glass for Andover, Botanics Foliage in Tangerine by Carolyn Friedlander for Robert Kaufman

Today's stack is inspired by the sunny shades of Palm Springs, that famously lovely desert spot located just over an hour away from where I live. I've had some wonderful vacations there with family and friends over the years. The heat is intense, but beautiful views and great food make up for it. You'll find some fabulous examples of retro design there too, several of which you can see on my Palm Springs Fabric Audition Pinterest board.

I decided to make a simple striped pouch from this audition. These prints look great with yarn dyed Essex linen in leather, and I love the orange Aurifil thread that I used to quilt the front and back. The pouch is lined in the floral Heather Bailey print which is such a happy thing to see each time I open that zipper.

I have more fabric auditions in the works as we speak, but feel free to let me know in the comments below if you have any themes or color palettes that you'd like to see me tackle this year. If I put something together with your idea, I'll be sure to give you and your blog a mention in my post!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Tiger Tracks Satchel

Cotton + Steel Tiger Tracks Satchel by Heidi Staples of Fabric Mutt

Three hours.

That's how long it took me from the moment I found a package from Hawthorne Threads in the mailbox all the way up until I put the finishing touches on this little satchel bag. When I laid eyes on Alexia Abegg's adorable linen tigers for Cotton + Steel, I just couldn't wait to start sewing.

Cotton + Steel Tiger Tracks Satchel by Heidi Staples of Fabric Mutt

I've had miniature satchel bags on the brain this month, dreaming up designs and wanting to try them out. This was my first effort, and I have to say, I'm completely smitten with the results. I kept this version very simple and relatively small -- about 9 1/2" x 11" x 2 1/2". The bag is lined in black and white linen Mochi Dots, and I used cotton webbing for the straps. All the stitching is done with Aurifil thread in my favorite shade of gold.

Cotton + Steel Tiger Tracks Satchel by Heidi Staples of Fabric Mutt

Several of you have asked me on Instagram if I'll be writing a pattern for this one. The answer is yes. Give me a week or two, and I'll have something up on the blog.

And thanks for the encouragement, my friends.
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