Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Pattern Update: Aspen Glow

Hi Quilting Friends:

Despite our very best efforts, the occasional error can slip into our published patterns.  If you've purchased our Aspen Glow Pattern and are making the Autumn Setting, there is an error on page 10 of the cutting instructions:
From the 4+1/2" strips, you should be cutting the specified number of 4+1/2" squares {not 2+1/2" squares}.
If you've purchased the pattern from our craftsy shop, an updated version of the pattern is now available for download.  If you've purchased the pattern from our etsy shop, and would like an updated copy of the pattern, please email me at: Info{at}CorasQuilts{dot}com for an updated copy.  Thank you!

Around the World Blog Hop

What is the Around the World Blog Hop?

There's a super fun linky party, of sorts, going around blog land called the Around the World Blog Hop!  I was invited to join by Cheryl, the Texas Quilting Gal - a new blogging pal I've really enjoyed getting to know over the past few months.  In turn, I'm inviting some friends to join in sharing their responses.  Next Wednesday, Shauna at Shauna's World, Heidi at DIY and Live to Tell, and Rene (Hi Mom!) at Quilting Nona will be answering the same questions about their creative processes.  If you'd like to share your answers to the questions below (or already have), leave a comment below with the link to your blog - I'm having such a great time reading all the answers so far!

A Little Bit About Me

If this is your first time stopping by, welcome!  My name is Shelley, owner and pattern designer here at Cora's Quilts.  My hubby and I have two beautiful, hysterical, rambunctious boys (ages 1 and 2.75), so in between dirt, flying dragons, walking the plank, legos, and endless piles of laundry, I manage to sneak in a little bit of sewing and pattern writing.

We make our home near Sacramento, California, in the foothills of the beautiful Sierra Nevadas.  Aside from adventuring with the boys, I'm an avid reader, lover of good wine and dark beer, collector of fabric, and ... dare I say it ... a budding knitter!  My love of crafting was definitely inherited from my mom and my granny, and I'm happy to have this little corner to share my thoughts and projects.

Question #1: What Are You Working On?

Well, I have several brands in the fire at the moment.  Most them have to be kept under wraps for the time being.  I did manage two finishes this summer, though.  In June, I finished Diana, a quilt for my best friend ...

Diana ~ Pattern Available Here
... and just last week I just finished the binding on my Spring Sampler project!  Getting a decent finished photo is proving to be quite a challenge, but I have a morning to myself later this week and am hoping to finally get a finished shot!

Spring Sampler Quilt Along
Over the next few weeks, I'll be gearing up to start our Aspen Glow Quilt Along.  

I'm so very excited about this project!  It's a great way to start ushering in the change of seasons and we've broken the quilt construction down into some very manageable chunks.  

We have some really, really fabulous sponsors and a great group of gals signed up to sew along.  Our schedule and more information about the pattern and quilt along is available here.  Email me at Info{at}CorasQuilts{dot}com to join our mailing list or follow us on Facebook to receive all the latest updates.  I hope you'll consider joining us!

Question #2: How Does Your Work Differ From Others In Its Genre?

I hope it's ok to go off on a bit of a tangent here.  The following has been simmering in the back of my mind for awhile now, and I feel like now is a great opportunity to share my thoughts ... interspersed with some random fabric eye candy. :)

The other night, after a hair-raising day with the boys, my hubby gently kicked me out of the house, telling me to go spend sometime doing something for myself.  I headed to one our local watering-holes/restaurants ... by myself (a very liberating experience, if you've never tried it) ... and sat with a pint of my favorite beer and my ipad, just reading and planning.

Flurry ~ Pattern Available Here
I spent some time on Elizabeth Gilbert's website.  She's one of my favorite {modern} authors and Eat, Pray, Love is my "crisis book" - reading about her journey always brings a sense of peace, 
breath, zen when I feel like my life is spiraling out of control.  Her words always help to remind me that no matter the journey or path we've chosen to take, it's important to indulge in good food, wine, and friends, to take time for ourselves to center and breathe, and that recognizing and reveling in the love in our lives can do wonders for the soul.

I kept coming back to an article on her blog titled "CRAFT" and while I consider myself to be a quilter before a writer, the article really spoke to me.  Elizabeth begins, 
I was speaking to an artist friend the other day, who said she was having a crisis of creativity because she felt she was losing her edge. She feared that her work was not experimental, bold, and innovative enough. She quoted Ezra Pound ("Make it new") and said she had stopped working because, simply put, she could not figure out any ways to make it new anymore.  - Elizabeth Gilbert, "CRAFT"
 Now, it's probably safe to say that her artist friend wasn't a quilter, but I think that the sentiment here is universal.  Don't get me wrong - there are a number of very talented fabric and pattern designers out there and their unflagging well of creativity is so amazing and inspiring to me ... but to be completely honest with you ... sometimes it can feel like our industry can seem a bit like a big game of keeping up with the Jones.  Trends blow up on Pinterest or Instagram but are over before half of us even realize they exist, let alone have the time to hop on the bandwagon.  Super popular fabric lines are sold out before we even realize they were available in the first place!  Trying to keep a pulse on what's popular can be exhausting!  And, there's nothing more frustrating or disappointing than sharing an "original" project to find several identical ones already out there in blog land.

Drift Away ~ Pattern Available Here
Elizabeth, however, has some amazingly beautiful alternative to the "creativity rat race."  She calls it "CRAFT" - the idea that, the traditional craftsperson isn't concerned with "make it new," but rather with the idea of making it again (and again and again and again) in an effort to constantly improve.
What an amazing idea, huh?  Just picking something that we like and working at it again and again to get better at it!  I love classic blocks.  I love playing around with them and discovering new (or at least new-to-me) groupings, orientations, or ways to put them together!  I feel a sense of achievement as points and seams come together more crisply and precisely the more that I work with them.  So what if I'm using the same blocks again and again - I love them and they speak to me.  So what if some of my projects are similar to others out there.  We're all drawing from the same traditions and inspirations, right?  Elizabeth says it much more eloquently than I ever could:
"I'm not trying to ignite a revolution every time I sit down at my desk; I just want to pursue excellence. ... Do it every day. Do it as well as {I} can. Repeat, repeat, repeat. That's craft." Elizabeth Gilbert, "CRAFT"
So, to come back to the question at hand, I don't know if this is really something that sets me apart from other quilters and designers, but I'm just doing what I love best, to the best of my ability, and working to get better at it, day by day.

Question #3: Why Do You Write/Create What You Do?

Simply put, because I have to.  I'm driven to it.  Crafting, especially quilting, and writing is my creative outlet.  Motherhood and family life, while infinitely rewarding, can also be exhausting and a bit draining.  My "craft" gives me a bit of escape and time to myself, and meets this deep-rooted need to make something and never have idle hands!  When I spend too long away from it, I start to go a little insane.

I get the biggest kick out of staring at a stack of fabric and seeing the possibilities come to life in my mind - didn't a famous sculptor say the same about a hunk of marble?  I love the rush and excitement of planning a new project and pulling together *the perfect* grouping of prints.  And, I love the deep-rooted satisfaction of creating something, start to finish.  I just don't get those kind of kicks from the laundry or the dishes!!

Question #4: How Does Your Writing/Creative Process Work?

This was a bit of a hard question for me to answer, mainly because it doesn't always work the same.  I have always been a visual person, so a fair number of my designs always start on graph paper before I even try building them in EQ6, my quilting software.

My design inspiration comes from all over the place.  Sometimes I see quilt blocks when I look at geometrical shapes, like my kitchen rug or mosaic tiles.  Sometimes I just sit and play with classic blocks until I have a design that speaks to me.

When I first started designing quilts, I often built quilt patterns around specific fabric lines that I loved.  More and more frequently, however, I'm finding that I build the quilt pattern first and then spend hours (days, weeks) looking for the perfect prints to fit my designs.

I'm also a big Excel geek, so all of my block and cutting calculations are built into a spreadsheet before I sit down to write my pattern and put together my sample.  Next, comes so mish-mash of sewing, writing, re-sewing, and re-writing until I have a pattern that works.

I use Microsoft Publisher to write my patterns, along with EQ6 and PicMonkey ... and occasionally good 'ole Paint to generate and edit my images.  {Incidentally, I'm considering the move to Adobe Creative Suite ... but just can't bring myself to commit to the monthly cloud usage fee.  I'd love to hear your thoughts if you've already made the move ...}

Throw in a couple of hours of typing and "nudging" text boxes and images around until my symmetry-loving-self is satisfied, and a pattern is born!

Thanks so much for stopping by and letting me share a bit of my creative thought process with you.  Be sure to stop by next week and get to know our Aspen Glow Sponsors!  Until then, happy sewing!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Aspen Glow Quilt Along - Gearing up!

Hi Quilting Friends - Can you believe that September is right around the corner?  Here at Casa de CQ, we're gearing up to start sewing on our Aspen Glow Quilt Along and I hope you're planning on sewing along with us!

Here is some important information regarding our quilt along:

  • Get a copy of our pattern via Etsy or Craftsy if you haven't already, and start cutting!  Be sure to starch your fabric before cutting. :)
  • Join our FLICKR group and start sharing photos of your fabric choices and cutting progress!
  • Follow us on Facebook and make sure that I have your email address so that you can stay up-to-date
  • Use #CQAspenGlow as your hashtag to share on social media like Pinterest, Facebook, and Instagram.
  • Share our quilt along button on your blogs - grab the code below!
Aspen Glow Quilt Along @ Cora's Quilts

For those that are interested, I'd also like to put together a little parade of participants, just so that we can all follow along, oogle at each others' fabric choices, and cheer each other on!  The parade will be here on my blog on Friday, 8/29.

If you'd like to be featured, please write a little blog post introducing yourself and your fabric choices any time between now and 8/29.  Send me the link and a photo, and I'll add you to the parade!  Our email is: Info{at}CorasQuilts{dot}com.

I can't wait to see all your fabulous photos and start this awesome journey together!

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Super Mario Brothers Quilt Along & BOM - Block #5

Welcome to our Super Mario Brothers BOM Club and Quilt Along!  Each month for the next year, we'll be releasing a free quilt block pattern to make this super fun Mario Quilt!  The release schedule and more information about our Block of the Month club is available here.  Fabric kits are available for purchase in our etsy shop and here on our blog.

Well, August is here already, and we've.  We've been in the midst of a heat wave here in the Sacramento Valley.  Let me tell you ... sweaty legs sticking to chairs does not an ideal sewing environment make!  I managed to persevere, however, and finished my block [relatively] on time.  Our block this month is a fun little 1-UP mushroom, happily finishing at a very manageable 18" x 18" - the perfect size for a mini-quilt or throw pillow.

We're using the fusible backing construction method and it really helped with those teeny, tiny squares.  If you're sewing along with us, make sure that you use a 1.5" grid for this block and the remaining border blocks!!

Kits (with or without the fusible backing) are available below.

Cora's Quilts Mario BOM - Block 5: Mushroom

Be sure to share your fabulous blocks our flick group.  Happy sewing!

Friday, August 1, 2014

Happy Friday!

It's 8:45PM at Casa de CQ and ...

  • It's still 103 degrees outside
  • All three of my boys are running 100+ fevers thanks to incoming teeth and some freakish summer flu bug
  • Every living soul in this house is asleep for the time being ... except for me
So, even though I have a Mario Block due, I'm sitting down in a quiet house to play with these lovelies by Amanda Murphy ...

... while drinking iced wine (because it is THAT hot) and listening An Echo In The Bone.  Can you tell that I'm counting down the days until Starz premiers its Outlander Series?  Yummy!!

BTW - our BOGO pattern sale is going on thru midnight, tonight.  Chances are that if you place your order in the next few hours, I'll still be up to email you your freebie!  Drop me a line to say hi if you're fortunate enough to be spending your Friday night with needle and thread too!  Happy sewing!!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Got Facebook?

Hi friends - do you follow Cora's Quilts on Facebook?

We love to share all our news there ... and occasionally (... like this afternoon ...) post fun coupon codes and shop specials!  Stay cool out there!

***Update: So ... it looks like if you have the word "sale" in your facebook post, FB is less likely to share the post because they'd like you to pay to boost the post.

So ... Our patterns will be BUY ONE, GET ONE FREE from now until 8/1/14, at midnight.

Just mention the pattern you'd like to receive free in the notes to seller. Free pattern of equal or lesser value. Stay COOL!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Spring Sampler Prize Drawing!

Sponsored by:

Sorry we're running a little bit late here at Casa de CQ, but I wanted to pop in before the weekend was over to announce the Spring Sampler Quilt Along winners.  Congratulations to ...

Beacon by Heather @ QA Creations

Friendship Block by Lisa Marie @ Quilts by Lisa

Even though we've announced our winners, please feel free to keep adding photos of your finished blocks to our weekly posts and to our flickr group.  Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Introducing ... Diana!

I'm so, so very excited to finally be share our latest CQ pattern!  Introducing ... DIANA!

I had been hoarding a little stash of Kate Spain's Honey, Honey, just waiting to find the perfect block to show off these large-scale prints.  It turned out that the classic Broken Dishes block was just what I needed!

I pieced and trimmed what seemed like a million HST ... and then with a little planning ... managed to get all of seams to nest together and pieced all the blocks without PINS!

Now, I am a creature of habit and an inveterate pinner ... but my points rocked on this quilt!  I just might have joined the no-pinning-revolution!

This was the first project that I did start-to-finish on the beast, and while quilt finishing is still not my favorite part of the process, it is WORLDS easier on a machine with a bigger harp space!  And this was no small quilt - it finished at 69" x 85"

In keeping with the simplicity of the quilt top, I just decided to finish it with some echo quilting within the Broken Dishes block and around the edges.  I used a larger stitch length to give it a hand-quilted-esque feeling.

On a side note, while trying to get a beauty shot as I attached the binding, I noticed a series of notices on my presser foot!  Lo and behold, the notch at the bottom of the indentation is exactly a 1/4" away from the needle ... so when need to stop sewing 1/4" away from the edge of your project, you know exactly when to stop.  GENIUS!

(I KNOW I'm not the first person to notice this ... but it was one of those light-bulb moments!!)

So, anyways ... I backed it with this beautiful grey floral print from Connecting Threads and bound it with my favorite lavender sprig print in coral ...

... and then whisked it off for a little photo shoot at my favorite childhood park.  So, there she is!  And she's very happily living in her new home with my very best friend.

I'm happy to share that Cora's Quilts Diana pattern is now available in our etsy and craftsy stores and we're celebrating this week by offering it at 25% off, through 8/1/14.  Use etsy coupon code: ANNEandDIANA to receive your discount.

Diana - Soft, floral prints, Broken Dishes blocks, and crisp, white sashing come together to make the perfect quilt for picnicking by Barry’s pond.  Blocks finish at 14” and can be constructed without pins, so that you can spend less time sewing and more time enjoying the summer sun.

This week, we're sharing our new quilt in these linky parties!

A HUGE thank you goes out to my wonderful pattern testers, who did such a beautiful job piecing their own Diana blocks and quilt tops with minimal notice!  Please stop by and give them some love!

Shauna @ Shauna's World

Monday, July 21, 2014

Spring Sampler Wrap Up

Sponsored by:

Hi Spring Sampler friends!  Just a friendly reminder THIS Friday (7/25/14) is the drawing for our fabulous Connecting Threads gift certificates - US and Canadian residents only, please!

Be sure to add your photos to our Flickr Group or our weekly linky parties.  Each block is an entry into the raffle!

Friday, we'll announce the winners and share photos of your finishes in a little parade here on our blog.  You can email [Info{at}CorasQuilts{dot}com] me with photos or a link to your blog if you'd like to share your sampler.

Friday, July 18, 2014

What's New!

Hi Quilty Friends!

Sorry it's been a little while since I've stopped by!  Lately, we've been "running around like chickens with our heads cut off," as my mom would say ... but this morning, I thought I'd share a few snap shots of what's been happen at Casa CQ!  In reality, this probably should be at least three different posts ... but that's not likely to happen!

First up, our littlest man turned ONE last weekend!  How on earth it happened so fast?  I have no idea.  He such a sweet, happy, little mischievous soul and he keeps us in stitches all day long.  The thing that makes my heart happiest of all, is watching the loving, teasing, playful relationship he's developing with his brother.  Sure, we have our share of squabbling, but it's the best feeling in the world to look down in the stroller on our morning walks and see the two little buddies holding hands.

For those of you sewing along with our Spring Sampler project ... we share finishing instructions for the wall-hanging and lap size quilts a couple of weeks ago.  Thanks to my mom whisking the boys away for a playdate at Mamaw's house, I was finally able to finish piecing my own quilt top!  Despite receiving some fantastic thread from our sponsor, Connecting Threads, I just don't have the bandwidth to finish quilting it at home.  On Monday, it's off to Darby at the Quilted Squid for some beautiful long-arm quilting.  BTW - you have to check out her beautiful work!  I'm so excited to have her quilt this for me!

Just a note on the Spring Sampler: we'll be having our parade of finishes next week, so be sure to send me your photos, if you'd like to participate.  Remember: each photo you share on Flickr or in our linky parties is an entry in our prize raffle!

Speaking of Quilt Alongs, the updated pattern containing the Autumn Coloring for our Aspen Glow Quilt Along will be sent out next week to those who have already purchased it through Etsy and will be available for download on Craftsy.

Visit our information page or email me (Info[at]CorasQuilts[dot]com) to sign up to sew with us starting in September.

And finally, to wrap up our quilt along updates, my Cloud block for our Super Mario Quilt Along is finally finished!

Man, this little guy sure was a labor of love.  Do you ever have those projects where everything seems to go wrong?  I had one free afternoon this week, and while I hoped to finish up three projects ... this one sucked up all the time ... and I barely got it finished!  Bobbins ran out repeatedly, my little guy ripped several of the rows apart, the iron was too hot and melted part of the backing ... you name it, it went wrong!  I'm a little worried about starting next month's block!

So that's what's new in our neck of the woods.  It might me a little quiet around here over the next few weeks, as I'm in various stages of pattern-drafting and testing.  A huge thanks goes out to my awesome pattern testers who have diligently been working over the last few weeks.  I can't wait to introduce this beauty to you!  

It's killing me to have so many projects that I can't share yet.  More on that over the coming weeks, I promise.  In the meantime, I thought I'd leave you with a little eye candy.  This fabulous collection of vintage Fig Tree came my way thanks to Lisa @ Stashmaster's recent de-stashing efforts.  I just couldn't resist those beautiful country prints ... and those super soft wovens are just calling to me!

I'm valiantly trying to resist cutting into them since I have a million deadlines looming ... we'll see how long I last!