Thursday, April 27, 2017

Prairie Gardens: My Spoonflower Entry

Today the sample fat quarter of my design entry for Spoonflower's weekly contest arrived! It's so fun to see what you've been sketching and doodling come to life in fabric.
Thistle Thicket Studio, Prairie Gardens fabric, fabric design, textile design, surface pattern design, Spoonflower

Spoonflower's Birds and Blooms contest closed a couple of days ago and the top 10 winners were announced today. It was no surprise to me that my entry wasn't in the top ten. I did however have 19 people 'favorite' my design. Favorites are different than votes, and as far as I can see, they don't reveal how many votes each entry received.

The fabric print is larger in real life than it appeared on Spoonflower's website. It looked quite small compared to other entries in the design contest, so I can't imagine how big those prints are in real life. Obviously, many of the people participating in the contests are designing just for the contest and scale their designs so that they appear larger on Spoonflower's website. Prints that large wouldn't be suitable for most quilting projects, but would be ideal for draperies and upholstered furniture or for wallpaper.

I'll continue to play with coordinating designs with these motifs and hopefully learn more techniques in the design process. For every one I design, I have two more ideas. It is really getting addictive!


Monday, April 24, 2017

Bird on Bloom Fabric Print Arrived!

Last week I shared my first entry in Spoonflower's weekly design challenge and a companion print I designed. I ordered a fat quarter of each print to see what it looked like on fabric and today the companion print arrived!

Thistle Thicket Studio, fabric design, textile design, surface pattern design, spoonflower
Bird on Bloom design on fabric. Printed by Bobbin for size comparison of design. Photo taken in natural light and coloring untouched.
I'm very happy with the quality of the printing and how my design looks on fabric (it looks very professional, if I do say so myself!). However, the orange and green colors in the print are darker than I was expecting. After comparing my print to the swatches I am working from, the green does match the swatch I selected. Maybe because the greens in my fat quarter are larger than the swatch, it appears darker?

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JPEG File of Original Design
However, the orange in the print is not the same color as the swatch. The orange in my print is darker and has more of a red base than the swatch. My swatch is printed on a quality quilting cotton but I chose to print my fat quarter on Kona cotton, which may be why the coloring is different. After close examination, the Kona cotton has a coarser weave that the quilting cotton, so it may have absorbed more ink than that of the swatch fabric. Next time, I'll try printing on the quilting cotton and see how the quality and color accuracy compares. Spoonflower recommends washing the fabric before using it in a project. I wonder how that will affect the color?

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Last night I worked on a new design. While my grandson was visiting last Thanksgiving, he drew a snowman picture on my chalkboard quilt. I've been saving it so that I could photograph it and turn it into a fabric design. I finally got around to it last night and I'm so excited with how it turned out. I ordered a yard of fabric using Spoonflower's Fill-A-Yard option, and printed the fabric with two background colors so I'll receive a half yard of each colorway. I have a secret project planned for this special fabric! Can't wait to share it with ya'll!


P.S. There's one more day to vote in Spoonflower's Birds and Blooms design contest and if you like my Prairie Gardens design, I'd love if you'd vote for it! Here's the link.
Thistle Thicket Studio, Prairie Gardens Fabric, fabric design, textile design, surface pattern design, spoonflower

Thursday, April 20, 2017

My First Spoonflower Entry

I'm back, as promised, to share my Spoonflower entry in the Birds and Blooms contest that opened today. My entry, Prairie Gardens, is the next step in my textile design learning process. The learning curve has been huge from my Ditsy Daisy print I shared a couple of days ago to this. And although I wished I had more time to tweak this design, I'm pretty happy with it for a beginner.
Thistle Thicket Studio, Prairie Gardens, textile design, surface pattern design, fabric design, spoonflower

There are 413 entries - WOW! - in the Spoonflower contest which runs until Tuesday, April 25, 2017. Here's a link to the Spoonflower Birds and Blooms contest. If you honestly like my design, please vote. I don't want to sway the feedback I get, though, with sympathy votes:) I was surprised to get an email notice yesterday that someone actually favorited my design on Spoonflower. That's exciting!

Thistle Thicket Studio, Prairie Gardens Fabric, surface pattern design, textile design, fabric design, spoonflower
This is the single repeat of the design. On Spoonflower, it is viewed in a fat quarter size repeat. I like the design in a single repeat, but in the larger view, I can see some things I will change to make it more spatially pleasing. I'll continue to play with it.

Thistle Thicket Studio, Prairie Gardens, textile design, fabric design, surface pattern design, spoonflower
I also played with a few companion print ideas, pulling out different elements from the focal print. I made this print before I made the focal that I entered in the contest. After looking at this, I decided to add pink to the design.

Next I want to try to create a plaid companion print because I love plaids...and stripes...and a collection. I also have another colorway I'd like to create. And I have a few more designs I'd like to make to create a whole collection.

So I'd love feedback from quilters and textile designers! What do you think of this colorway? Are there changes you would make to the layouts? Any advice on how to improve the repeat? Would this grab your attention if you saw it on a shelf in a quilt shop? Would you be compelled to buy it? What kind of companion prints do you like to see in a collection?


Tuesday, April 18, 2017

A Primitive Attempt At Fabric Design

I have wanted to learn how to design my own fabric for like FoReVeR !!! But all the techy stuff was just so intimidating that I just kept putting it off. A couple of weeks ago I threw caution to the wind and jumped in with both feet. Well, more like dipped my big toe in with a simple little drawing of flowers that I uploaded to the Photoshop Elements software I have on my computer. And I played around until I figured out how to create a repeat from my drawing. When I was happy with the way it looked I uploaded my jpeg file to Spoonflower and ordered a fat quarter of my first primitive attempt and here it is......Ditsy Daisies! I'm so excited with how it turned out!
Thistle Thicket Studio, fabric design, textile design, surface pattern design, Spoonflower

Spoonflower is an online digital printing company that prints fabrics, wallpaper and wrapping paper from designs that the customer uploads to their site. They have a wide range of fabrics in which to choose, from basic quilter's cotton to canvas to knits to satin to minky - a total of 21 different fabrics. Here's a close up of Ditsy Daisies printed on Kona Cotton. I was thrilled with the color accuracy and saturation, and the fact that even that light green color in the leaves was picked up and printed.

I think I'm hooked. For the last week, I have been trying to learn more about using Photoshop to design in, uploading simple line drawings, then coloring, editing, combining drawings in layers, creating repeats using offsets, and testing my repeats. I've designed a couple of more fabrics, more complex than this one, and I even entered one in Spoonflower's weekly design contest. I'll post more about that on Thursday when the contest opens for public voting. I'm hoping that I receive feedback from people that will help me move forward.

I haven't been getting any sewing done but I've been having a blast designing. I lose all track of time - I sat down last evening to finish my entry in the contest and it was 3 a.m. before I realized it! Yikes!


Friday, April 14, 2017

Happy Easter From My Bunny Trio

I was just lamenting that I didn't have much in the way of Easter décor when the cutest bunny quilt pattern was featured on the Moda Bake Shop last week. So after the hubby went to bed that evening, I headed for my sewing room and whipped out my own version of Kristina Brinkerhoff's (from @centerstreetquilts) Bunny Quartet pattern.

Thistle Thicket Studio, Moda Bake Shop, bunny trio mini quilt, bunny quartet mini quilt, bunny quilt, quilts, quilting
In an hour, I had the top of my Bunny Trio mini quilt stitched up and the next day I quilted it up with a cute all-over flower design to go with the flower prints in the fabric. I even managed to get the binding on that same day (shocking if you know how much I hate binding) - of course since it is only 13.5" x 22" it didn't take long. I chose to make three bunnies so it would fit on my old chippy-painted door in my living room.

Thistle Thicket Studio, Moda Bake Shop, Bunny Quartet Mini Quilt, bunny trio mini quilt, bunny quilt, quilts, quilting
The question now is - do you see a bunny head facing towards you or a whole bunny body facing away from you? When I first saw the pattern, I saw a whole bunny and envisioned cute little bunny tails wagging, so I added round white ball buttons for tails on my version. But I can see the bunny heads too, which is how the designer intended them to be. Luckily, the buttons also look like bunny noses, so it works either way! I think I was the first to post my bunny mini on Instagram but soon there was a fluffle of bunny minis on display. 

On a side note, did you know a group of rabbits is called a fluffle in Northern Canada (according to the New World Encyclopedia)? When I googled what a group of bunnies was called, I got a whole slew of words including herd, litter, colony, nest and warren. But I like fluffle the best!

From our nest to yours, I wish you and your fluffle the happiest of Easters!


Saturday, April 8, 2017

2017 Finish-A-Long: Q2 Goals

Thistle Thicket Studio, finish-a-long, quilting goals

They say less is more, so I'm going to try it for this quarter of the 2017 Finish-A-Long. I have a big secret project I'm going to be working on that I won't be revealing until this fall (that always makes me crazy with curiosity when people say that!) and I will also be working on this year's quilt guild challenge, so I'm just going to post four goals for this quarter.

1. 2016 Quilt Guild Challenge: Medallion Quilt. This one is still at the same place as it was on August 16, 2016 - the day my mom and aunt had their car accident while on our girls quilty road trip. I really want to get this one done this quarter. Even if I don't get it quilted, I'll consider it a success if I get the top completed. I have two more sides of the 3-D pinwheels to finish, then I have rounds of 4-patches, piano keys, flowers and stars to make.

Thistle Thicket Studio, The Whole Country Caboodle, mini quilts, flower quilt block, watermelon quilt block, applique
2, 3. Whole Country Caboodle Kits. I'm throwing in a couple of little projects to break up the big projects that I'll be working on. With little projects you can get a quick gratification of completing something and I think I'll need some of that this quarter! These little kits are mini quilts that button onto a larger "A Door A Doodle" quilt that I have hanging in my entryway. There are different seasonal ones that I've never gotten around to making.

Thistle Thicket Studio, paper peicing, halloween quilt blocks, Made by Marney pattern,
4, 5, 6. Halloween Mini Quilts. This is another set of little projects that I'm tossing in. These are free paper piecing patterns by Made By Marney and I think they are so cute. I had planned to work on these at our Quilt Guild Sew Day last quarter, but the sew day was canceled due to weather. I have a couple of sew days planned with different groups this quarter so plan to take these to work on. I haven't decided if I'll make these into three separate little quilts or sew them into one larger quilt yet, so I'm listing them as separate projects for now.

Thistle Thicket Studio, hello darling fabric, frivols, Bonnie and Camille, Moda
7. Hello Darling Frivols Kit. I started this one while the hubby and I were snowbirding in Texas in January and February, but I didn't have a lot of sewing time while there. I've worked on this some since we're back on the farm and have half of the blocks complete. Hoping to finish this one up in the next couple of weeks. 

I'll be linking this post up to the 2017 Finish-A-Long 2nd Quarter Goals. It's not to late to join in the fun - although today is the last day to link up for this quarter so hurry! Check out the details on the Finish-A-Long here.


Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Lego Batman: A QAL Q1 Finish

Once again, I only have one finish to link up for the Finish-A-Long this quarter - but, it was a great finish and I'm pleased to have it off my to-do list. The Lego Batman quilt was a labor of love and a gift for my superhero loving grandson. It's been on my FAL quarterly goals for a year now (see my Q1 goals here).
Thistle Thicket Studio, Lego Batman, batman, lego quilt, batman quilt, quilts, quilting

The Batman Lego quilt was completed before the hubby and I left for our annual snowbird trek south during January and February. That trek is part of the reason I only have one finish this quarter, plus the 3 weeks I was sick after returning home. Both left me with no quilting mojo, but happily I'm starting to find it again.
Thistle Thicket Studio, batman quilt, lego batman, lego quilt, quilts, quilting

I love how this quilt turned out, especially the quilting. To read more about this quilt and see more photos, check out my blog posts here and here. (I hate to bore you with redundancy here if you've already seen this before!)
Thistle Thicket Studio, lego batman, lego quilt, batman quilt, quilts, quilting

I'm linking up this post with the 2017 Finish-A-Long 1st quarter link up. Haven't heard of the FAL, go check it out here.


Monday, March 27, 2017

My Week In Quilting

It was a busy week, but I managed to get my fair share of quilting in this week - that hasn't happened in awhile! My goal was to get all of my wavy flying geese sections - 15 in all - made. Yay, I actually got them done!
Thistle Thicket Studio, flying geese block, paper piecing, wavy flying geese, quilts, quilting

I shared in my last post that I had designed my own paper piecing pattern for my wavy flying geese for the next row in our quilt guild's row quilt challenge.
Thistle Thicket Studio, paper piecing, drafting paper piecing patterns, flying geese block, quilts, quilting

Well, after sewing the first three segments of this pattern, it dawned on me that I had drawn the pattern wrong. How many of you looked at that photo last week & said "Pffftt! That'll never work!" So it was back to the drawing board. I studied a pattern of flying geese made in a circle and realized that the sew line of the background pieces had to extend out to the edge of the pattern each time to make it sewable (if that makes sense). After a little time redrawing my pattern, scanning it into the computer, and creating a mirror image for the other half of the 'wave', I was back in business. I just need to sew the sections together into a 60" row before our April quilt guild meeting.
Thistle Thicket Studio, paper piecing, flying geese block, flying geese paper piecing pattern, quilts, quilting

The highlight of my week was a group of my quilty friends who call themselves the "Dine & Dash Quilters" got together to present the friendship quilt we made for one of our friends. (I don't know why I didn't take any photos of the quilt): It's always fun to get together over good food & visit & share our latest quilting projects. I'm in charge of the next friendship quilt, so I made a block to show what the next one will look like. This quilt will be different than anything the group has done before. The pattern is called "Saw-tooth Stars & Signatures" and features a quilt label in the center of the stars for signing. This week a few of us will get together to make block kits in preparation for our next sew day.
Thistle Thicket Studio, friendship quilt, saw-tooth stars block, quilts, quilting

I received some happy mail this week - the second of my Instagram giveaway winnings. This one is from Summer @summer_stitcher & it is awesome! It's a complete kit to make Thimble Blossoms "Swoon Sixteen" quilt top featuring Bonnie & Camille fabric! I've had this one on my bucket list and I can't wait to get started (but I have several WIPs on the list to finish first.) Thank you so much Summer!!!
Thistle Thicket studio, instagram giveaway, Bonnie & Camille, Thimbleblossoms, quilts, quilting

And I hit a milestone on Instagram - 1000 followers! So I hosted my own little giveaway that Mary Ann of Little House On The Dairy won. The giveaway was for 10 fat quarters of Quilting Treasures Ombre Dots, a set of Lori Holt's (Bee In My Bonnet) Cut. Press. Sew. Quilt. magnets, and a $25 gift certificate to the Fat Quarter Shop. Congrats Mary Ann!
Thistle Thicket Studio, 1K followers, 1000 followers, Instagram followers, 1K giveaway, quilts, quilting

I'm looking forward to another week of some quilty fun, how about you?


Tuesday, March 21, 2017

A Winner x 2!

I've been on Instagram for almost 3 years. Over that time I've liked, commented, tagged and reposted hundreds of giveaways - all with no success - until now. Last week, I won not one, but two giveaways! I'm beyond excited! Today, I received the first one - Quilt-Pro 6.

Quilt-Pro is design software for quilters from Quilt-Pro Systems. It designs blocks and quilts. You can add fabrics to those designs. Then you can print strip piecing charts, foundations and templates, and fabric yardage estimates. Hmmm, if it only did the sewing too, maybe I'd get caught up on some of my projects!

Seriously, I am so extremely appreciative for this gift and can't wait to learn how to use this software. Thank you Quilt-Pro Systems!!! Now to find some time to do some binge watching on Quilt-Pro's You Tube Channel and start creating some quilty goodness! Click on the link and check out their how-to videos too!

Who else uses Quilt-Pro? Help a girl out and share any tips or tricks you know! Thanks!


Sunday, March 12, 2017

Work In Progress & Favorite Tools

This past week I spent some quality time at my sewing machine playing catch-up on my quilt guild row quilt challenge. Before the hubby and I left for our snowbirding jaunt to Texas in January, I had completed the first month's row - a 9-patch medley. But while we were traveling, my quilt guild met twice, drawing double pinwheels for month 2 and bear's claw for month 3.

thistle thicket studio, double pinwheel blocks, sewing, quilting
The double pinwheels went together quickly, thanks to my Bloc-Loc half square triangle ruler. This ruler is great for squaring up half square & quarter square triangle blocks.

thistle thicket studio, bloc-loc ruler, block lock ruler, double pinwheel block, sewing, quilting
To square up my double pinwheel blocks, I took each quarter section and laid the Bloc-Loc ruler with the center grooved edge on my half square seam (top arrow) and lined up the 3 1/2" mark on the edge of the ruler on the quarter square seam, making sure that the corners of the markings along the 45 degree angle lined up on my quarter square seam (bottom arrow). When everything was lined up, I trimmed the top and right side of the square.

thistle thicket studio, bloc-loc ruler, bloc lock ruler, double pinwheel blocks, sewing, quilting
Then I rotated my block 90 degrees and placed the ruler's center groove on the half square seam again. I lined up the two trimmed edges on the appropriate size markings - mine were 3 1/2" - and trimmed the other two sides. FYI - after I took this photo, I realized I didn't get the top trimmed against the ruler, so I trimmed it again. When you line the groove of the ruler against your seam, it straightens and flattens out the block and gives you perfect half square triangle blocks every time (if you trim correctly!). I just love my Bloc-Loc ruler! (no affiliation here, just a fan!)

thistle thicket studio, Brenda Henning, triangulations, sewing, quilting, paper piecing, flying geese, half square triangles
For the bear's claw blocks, I used another one of my favorite tools - the Triangulations CD by Brenda Henning (again, no affiliation). From the CD, you can print paper piecing patterns for half square & quarter square triangles & flying geese blocks in a multitude of sizes. It's great if you are making lots of blocks using the same fabrics.

thistle thicket studio, half square triangle blocks, triangulations, paper piecing, sewing quilting
Once I printed my patterns, I determined how many blocks I needed and cut my two pieces of fabric 1/2" larger than the pattern. With the two fabrics right sides together, I pinned the pattern on top, then sewed on the dotted lines. I used a smaller stitch to help perforate the paper to make it easier to remove.

thistle thicket studio, half square triangle blocks, triangulations, paper piecing, sewing, quilting
Once all the dotted lines were sewn, I cut the half square triangles apart along all of the solid lines.

thistle thicket studio, paper piecing, half square triangle blocks, sewing, quilting
In no time at all, I had a pile of half square triangle blocks! I pressed my blocks open, then removed the paper.

thistle thicket studio, bear's paw block, sewing quilting, row quilt
With those little 1" half squares done, the rest of the bear's paw blocks went together easily. Since my first two rows are each 6", I decided to make my bear's paws 3" then added a 1" strip on two sides of the block so that the blocks were offset along the row, and measured 4" finished (all measurements mentioned are finished sizes). Hopefully it looks like the bear's paws are walking across the quilt. Making the row 4" also adds some variety in the size of the rows and will help keep the quilt from getting too long.

thistle thicket studio, row quilt challenge, 9 patch blocks, bear's paw blocks, double pinwheel blocks, sewing, quilting
With my three rows complete, I'm caught up on this challenge. I am putting a 1" sashing between each row to separate them and I think it helps tame the busy look of the quilt.

thistle thicket studio, paper piecing patterns, flying geese, sewing, quilting
Actually, I was caught up on this challenge for only a day. Yesterday my quilt guild had a sew day and drew for the next row - flying geese. I came home & designed a paper piecing pattern for a 3" row with geese (that really look more like triangles) that will fly across the row in a wavy pattern. This is my first foray in designing my own paper piecing pattern, so hopefully it will work. Fingers crossed!

What's under your needle this week? I'd love to hear about your works in progress and your favorite tools, so share away!


Sunday, February 26, 2017

My Annual Trek To Magnolia Market

After five weeks as snowbirds in the Hill Country of Texas, the hubby and I arrived back to the farm a week ago. Unfortunately, we brought the crud home with us. I literally crawled out of the car and headed for the couch and haven't moved much since. This has really kicked my booty and still far from 100%. I've been passing my time sleeping, binge watching Fixer Upper shows, and coughing, coughing, coughing.

Speaking of Fixer Upper (you know, that show on HGTV with Chip and Joanna Gaines), one of the highlights of our time in Texas was making our annual trip to Waco to visit Magnolia Market. I've been a fan of the show from the very first episode and started planning my first trip to visit their shop soon after.

My first visit was to their little shop on Bosque Boulevard during the first season of the show. A tiny little shop in the front portion of a converted house. Through the window of their office, I could see Chip on the phone. A couple of their kids were running around the shop, and Joanna was in the backyard sorting a truck of décor items on the back driveway. As we left, Joanna said "Hi Honey!" as we walked by. Not wanting to interrupt her and seem like a stalker, I waved and walked on. To this day I kick myself that I didn't ask to take a selfie with her because I'll probably never get the chance again.

On our return trip to the little shop on Bosque a year later, we definitely were greeted with larger crowds, a tent in the parking lot with more merchandise that the little shop couldn't hold, lots more employees running around, a food truck or two, and sadly, no Chip and Joanna sightings. We also stopped by Harp Design Co. on this trip to check out their shop too (no Clint sightings either) and a couple of antique stores that have been featured on the show.

Our third trip to Magnolia Market was the second day (or maybe third) the Magnolia Silos were open. Even though they hadn't officially announced they were open, there were crowds of people who couldn't wait for the grand opening to get a peek at the new store. Although larger than the shop on Bosque, I was really surprised at how small the new shop was, inhabiting just a small portion of the front of a very large metal shed. Although the shop was finished, there was lots of construction happening outside on the grounds as they prepared for their first 'Silobration' in a couple of weeks.

This trip saw lots of changes at the silos. The new Silos Bakery was open and a beautiful courtyard had been built. A row of 8 or so food trucks lined the back of the property with several covered picnic tables and the artificial turf was full of high school kids who were spending their lunch break playing and hanging out. There was a garden area that employees were just starting to prep for the new growing season and a garden shed with seeds and other merchandise for those with a green thumb. The shop had been expanded and filled more of the big shed, featuring Joanna's new paint line and Chip's corner with merchandise for the guys. Buses pulled up regularly dropping off or picking up people visiting the silos. A neighboring church and businesses were selling parking spaces in the surrounding blocks. And a block from the silos, another décor shop with a very similar style and merchandise has opened up called The Findery.

It's been fun to follow Chip and Joanna as they've made the most of their 15 minutes of fame (I know, its been way more that 15, but that's the saying). And I look forward to my next trek to the Silos to see what new things they come up with. In the meantime, I think I better get back to my couch and binge watch more Fixer Upper.