Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Taking Stock and Looking Forward

Good afternoon on this quiet day-after-Christmas!

I hope that you all had a very merry Christmas and that you are taking some time today to put your feet up and enjoy the peace of the holidays now that the hustle and bustle of getting ready for the "big day" is over.

I always find this week between Christmas and New Years to be a good time to review the year past and to make plans for the upcoming year.

2007 was a good year for me and my pattern business. I introduced a baker's dozen of new patterns in 2007, including a very popular free pattern, Wickedly Easy Quilts.

The response to this pattern has been tremendous and I'm gratified by all the requests to use the pattern for charity quilts. From Australia and New Zealand to quilt guilds all over the United States, quilters are stitching fat quarters into quick and easy quilts for those in need. Thank you! Here is a picture of a quilt that Lynn Savage made using the pattern. Her choice of neutral fabrics make this a great "guy" quilt.



Other patterns introduced in 2007 included Air Show, Baa Baa Black Sheep, Chinese New Year, Chocolat Cherie, Crafter's Tool Caddy, Fun Four Patch Flowers, Gifts for Quilters, Indian Summer, Myrtle Creek Memories, Tea Time, Tic Tac Toe, and Tiddlywinks.

I've got three new patterns just about ready to go, so perhaps I'll beat that record in 2008.

One of the most popular new patterns in 2007 was Gifts for Quilters. It has been especially fun to see all the variations of the name tag money bags that people have made. If you'd like to share a photo of an item you've made using one of my patterns, I'd love to see it and share it on my blog.



Dawn Denman sent these pictures last spring of some of the small thread dispensers that she made for friends using the Thread Dispenser/Sewing Case pattern. Rather than make a velcro closure on each, she used the fabric-covered elastic instructions for the larger case and then added a fun button. I love the buttons she found as well as her fabric choices. What lucky friends she has!



I've had numerous requests to purchase some of my items "ready-made." Though I don't intend to get into the ready-made business, I am finding that my box of samples is beginning to run over so I think it's time for a first-ever Sample Sale. Watch for more info soon.

In other news, Susan Branch has picked up my Myrtle Creek Memories and Tea Time patterns and I recently learned that the Stitchin' Post in Sisters, Oregon will be featuring my Chinese New Year pattern at their Outdoor Quilt Show in July. I made this quilt using one of Bold Over Batiks' terrific batik panels. It is a gorgeous quilt! You can find a kit for the quilt at their website:
http://www.boldoverbatiks.com/batik_fabrics.asp?Cat=22




Diane and Bruce at Sew Batik have sent me some wonderful batiks to make purses and wallets using Annie's Favorite Purses and Folding Wallet. I'll be sure to post some pictures when I get them sewn. The purses and wallets will be featured in their booths at shows in 2008. Be sure to check them out.

I enjoyed traveling to quilt shows all over the U.S. with Superior Threads in 2007 and will get to go to even more in 2008. Heather (also known as Mother Superior) and I design quilts together and have several new patterns in the works. Watch for them in the Superior Threads booth at upcoming shows in 2008.

Our first show in 2008 will be Road to California. A complete list of shows that I'll be attending is at my website: www.byannie.com/shows_08.html. I'll have lots of my patterns and samples there, so please stop by and take a look.

For several years it has been my tradition to start my Dixie Quilt Guild challenge quilt on New Year's Day, so my head has been swirling with "splish-splash" ideas for weeks. ("Splish-splash" is the theme for this year's challenge.) I've finally got those ideas narrowed down to one main theme and hope to get a drawing made today that I can enlarge so I can get started with some stitching next week. I plan to make a whimsical, story-type quilt ala Mary Lou Weidman. That's all I'll tell you for now, but watch for pictures some time this spring. It's such fun to start a new year on a creative note!

Best wishes for a creative and fun 2008 to all of you, too!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Myrtle Creek Memories

I have long been a fan of Susan Branch: http://www.susanbranch.com/. Her whimsical water colors and quotes always make me smile. So, when I saw Martha's Vineyard, her new line of fabric for RJR at Spring Market, I knew right away that I needed some!



Myrtle Creek Memories was the first quilt that I made using Susan's fabric. Inspired by an idyllic summer spent at a peaceful little spot in the Pacific Northwest, this quilt will always bring me memories of abundant gardens, meandering creeks, rolling hills, and delightful afternoons spent reading under the towering trees. I hope it will remind you of a special time and place in your life, too.

I wanted to make this a queen-sized quilt, but also wanted to make easy blocks that were small enough to showcase Susan's cute quotes in the center. (Most are perfect for a 2" finished square.)

Knowing that I would be bored with making the very same block over and over for that large of a quilt, I designed two different blocks: an easy leaf block and an even-easier nine patch. I fussy-cut the quotes for the centers of the blocks, and used strip piecing, easy half square triangles, and other time-saving techniques to speed the process.


By combining these easy blocks with fairly large borders, I was able to piece this large quilt fairly quickly. A beautiful big swag finished the outer border beautifully and was quick and easy to do with my favorite machine appliqué technique.





The big open spaces on the quilt provided the perfect spot for some fun machine quilting. My friend, Cindy Needham (http://www.cindyneedham.com/), helped me pick the perfect stencils for big, easy feathered borders, feathered wreaths, and more. I quilted the entire queen-sized quilt on my trusty Bernina 1080.


The best trick that I learned for machine quilting on a home sewing machine is to properly pin baste the quilt and then to grid baste it using water soluble thread. My favorite is Vanish Extra from Superior Threads (http://www.superiorthreads.com/). You can read more about it and order it at my website: http://www.byannie.com/water_soluble_threads.html

The pattern for Myrtle Creek Memories includes excellent cutting layouts, master pattern for bunches of quick half square triangles, and complete instructions for making the 89" x 105" queen quilt. Read more and order the pattern at my website: www.byannie.com/myrtle_creek_memories_patterns.html

At least three of my local quilt shops (Quilted Works: http://www.quiltedworks.com/, Hurst's, and Mormon Handicraft) carry the Martha's Vineyard fabrics. If your local quilt shop does not carry it, visit my website for these local stores' contact info: www.byannie.com/shops.html

You may also find the fabric at Susan's website: http://www.susanbranch.com/shopping/fabric.cfm

Coming soon: Another quilt that I made using Susan's fun fabrics!