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Larry the Lion — sewing plush stuffed animals

You’ve probably seen Funky Friends Factory patterns in a quilt shop somewhere along the way. They are popular among sewists, but usually whenever I’ve asked someone about their experience with the pattern, they admit that they’ve been too scared to try! Like so many fabrics and quilt patterns, these stuffed animal patterns often live in our stash but never get put to use. That’s just silly–give it a try!

As a pattern, Larry the Lion is cute, but thankfully I’d seen Gayle Camargo’s version in Luxe Cuddle and I knew it could be so much more. I used Luxe Cuddle Hide for the body, Llama Cuddle for the mane and Cuddle for the face. First thing I did was print out the pattern at 120% (in retrospect 150% would have been so much easier) and tape the pieces together as needed. I traced each piece on the back of the appropriate fabric using a Sharpie and then cut them out with my favorite Famore Scalpel Style Seam Ripper. Then it was just a matter of following the pattern. Honestly, Pauline is one of my favorite pattern writers; the directions are clear and she has photos and videos on her site to make it all even easier.

Once I got the muzzle put together, I was sold on it. So freaking cute already and it’s just six pieces so far!

One thing to remember when you are working with Cuddle is to use a walking foot. This would have sat forever under a standard foot, but the walking foot and a longer stitch length makes it sail right through (this is on the Bernina 350QE).

Another tool that really helped with this project was ByAnnie’s stiletto. It has a thin metal shank at the one end to help push fabric down under the foot as it sews. It also works beautifully to pull up the fibers that get stuck in the seams.

Completely pieced together but totally flat, Larry looks more like roadkill.

So I stuffed him really well with almost an entire 16oz. bag of Royal Silk fiber fill from Fairfield. First his feet and legs, then his head, but and finally his body. Just keep stuffing until he’s full, then knot off some threads for the whiskers and toes, and … ta-dah!

I’m so thrilled with him!! It’s a shame I had to pack him off for Quilt Festival, but I think he’ll be my new travel companion for classes in 2019. He’s too cute to leave at home.

P.S. If you’ll be at Quilt Market, come by booth #1400 and say hi! During Quilt Festival I’ll be teaching a bunch of classes and also in booth #100 doing demos. Hope to see you there!

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A Few Road to California Favorites

If you’re a quilter, you’ve probably heard of Road to California, held in Ontario, California every January. I’ve wanted to go for years, but never had the opportunity until last week when, for five days, I hung out there in the Shannon Fabrics booth telling people that Cuddle fabrics are beautiful, soft and not nearly as difficult to sew as you’ve been warned.  I also got to talk up garments and blankets made from Embrace, the company’s double gauze fabric.

I always love the opportunity to get out there and chat with other quilters; this was no exception. Annette and I talked with hundreds of people over the time there, handing out patterns and charm squares, answering questions, and being the faces for Shannon Fabrics at Road2CA.

On Wednesday night, before the show officially started, I was back in the classroom and boy, was I thrilled. It’s been months since I’ve taught a class and I have truly missed it. We made up the Be Brave kit and out of 18 students, all but two were able to finish during class. I was so proud of everyone for working with a new-t0-them fabric in a less-than-ideal classroom (the tables were way too narrow so many of us took to the floor for the spray basting). We all had a great time and honestly, teaching feeds my soul. I didn’t even care that it ended at 10pm; I would have kept going if they would have allowed it!

collage of photos from class at Road to California

 

The show happened to coincide with one of the biggest storms So Cal has seen in years, Sunday was a slow, slow day with torrential rains and a chill that invaded much of the convention center. I took advantage of it by checking out quilts and buying a few things for myself (what else is a sewist/quilter gonna do?!).  Here are a few that stood out to me

Wickedly Green” Made and quilted by Deborah Poole of Shelley, ID.
“This quilt was an experiment in linear precision, hence the “Wickedly.” I wanted the majority of the background fills to be lines. It’s kind of fun, the blue thread highlights different areas from different angles of observation, exactly what I was hoping for, and the reason I didn’t us e a lighter weight thread. This quilt has 293 hours of hand-guided quilting that took nearly 8 months to complete.”

Insanity” Made and quilted by Kristin Vierra of Lincoln, NE.
“This quilt is based on a photo of an antique quilt made in the 1800s.  One hundred and thirty 2-inch Lemoyne Stars seem to float across the top, accented by traditional feather and grape leaf quilt designs. All of the stars are appliquéd to the quilt top.”

Summer Lake Sandhills” [detail] Made and quilted by Joanne Baeth of Bonanza, OR.
“Large groups of Sandhill Cranes arrive in early spring in SE Oregon and NE California. Summer Lake is a large refuse with extensive wetlands and a ridge that rises to 7000′ in elevation. The feathers for each of the 34 Sandhills were inked, cut out, and fused one feather at a time. Silk organza fabric was used to create a receding shoreline at the bottom of the quilt.  Bushes and grasses were thread painted.”

Detail from the handwork  of the Tentmakers of Cairo group who had a large display at the event.

As always, I was awed and inspired by the work of others. If you get the chance to visit a local quilt show, do it; it’s always amazing to see the beauty that others create with fabric and thread.

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The Fancy Forest Quilt Along, at last

I got a bee in my bonnet about the Fancy Forest quilt last fall and managed to get Fabric Depot to agree that we should do a quilt along class for it. Then I somehow put together a bundle of Me+You batiks in a color array that dozens and dozens of people liked well enough to buy. This last part makes me ridiculously happy because let me assure you…it was so much more stressful doing a pull that requires a shop to buy 8o bolts of fabric than for me to pull 40 little fat quarters from my stash.  Yikes!

But so far it’s worked and we started our first session of the Fancy Forest Quilt Along on Sunday with 30 students and another 12 the next day. I did a small pull for myself to work through the quilts with my students. Not surprisingly, I chose more of the Me+You batiks. I just love their slightly dusky hues.

Me+You batiks

I talked about tools and quilting and the wonders of this quilt for a good 45 minutes or so before I let them get to work. I like to talk, what can I say?!  Then they got busy measuring and cutting.

Teresa Coates and students

More than half the class is using the bundle, which is awesome, but it’s also super great to see all the other variations of fabrics that people have chosen. Already I’m so looking forward to how these quilts turn out. How awesome will it be to see 40+ quilts from my students? So very awesome. And only 9 more weeks, ha!

Keeping our Fancy Forest Quilt Along organized

If you are interested in following along, you can join us on the Fabric Depot blog and/or on the Facebook group: Fancy Forest Quilt Along. I’ll be posting on both the @fabricdepot Instagram account, as well as my own (@teresacoates).

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Trying to Catch Up

You know how life is, right? Too often the daily bits get in the way of doing the things I really want to do…like update the blog, add new tutorials, finish that pattern, etc. Every New Year’s Eve I think this will be the year to get stuff done. And then suddenly it’s New Year’s Eve again and I feel like nothing was actually done.

It was the same for me this past year, but then I started looking through my pics and realized that I finished 18 quilt tops (none of which were for me) and made more than 200 projects overall, including lots and lots of store samples and custom work. I taught classes at Fabric Depot and Nic & Fig’s. I released two patterns. Despite not getting more clothes sewn for myself (my real goal for last year), I got plenty finished.

So far this year, I’ve already finished two more quilt tops and onto a third. I’ve started, but not yet finished, a coat and a dress for myself. I have two patterns at the pattern-testing stage and my teaching schedule is nicely filling up. I’m doing okay, I remind myself.

Sometimes I struggle to savor the little accomplishments, instead worrying that I’ll never actually get to the big ones.

There are big things to come this year and I’m looking forward to every one of them: my first retreat teaching gig, new patterns, my daughter will graduate high school and I have a road trip to plan for late summer.

For now, I need to get back to planning out the classes for my upcoming Fancy Forest Quilt Along at Fabric Depot. We’ve just added our third session and the first one hasn’t even started yet…this one is gonna be a doozy. I can hardly wait!

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Hello September!

Tryon Creek State Park
End of summer hike at Tryon Creek State Park near Lake Oswego, Oregon

Can you believe it’s September already?! This summer has just flown by but I’m super happy to report that the sun is still shining here in Portland. We had one cloudy day last week, but it’s back to blue skies, sunshine and supposedly  into the 90s  again this weekend!

I may be one of the few Portlanders who actually love the forecast of continued heat. Blame a year in California with sunshine every.single.day.

September means things start changing and the daughter goes back to school. We’ll get back to a routine of work/school days with homework and weekends for fun. I’ll be teaching again and I’m thrilled. Plus I have a few consulting gigs starting this month and the pincushions and pillows are coming right along.

 

Then there are all these projects on this month’s to-do list:

  • Kell’s quilt
  • Laura’s quilt
  • Natalie’s quilt
  • Luke‘s quilt
  • Negroni shirt for class prep
  • Rae skirt for class prep
  • Sail repair for Eric
  • Plaid cape for myself
  • Wool coat for my son

I’ve got Kell’s quilt started and Luke’s is cut out. So are both the garments for class. At least there is a bit of a jumpstart, but this could very well take all of September if I’m not careful with my time.  So I’m up early again today, did some yoga and now it’s down to the studio to get cracking on that list. Welcome to September.

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Starry, starry PJs

I spent the weekend doing a little sewing, a rare treat for me. Thanks to the Worldwide Quilting Day giveaway, I need to check the website frequently to approve comments which means I don’t get to really do anything that requires me leaving the house for the day. So despite the rare treat of sunshine, I spent the weekend inside–sewing!

I managed to sew these PJ bottoms and pillowcase (as well as a Tova top I’ll have to talk about when I’m not sad about it being ugly on me–sigh) before my back forced me to call it quits and swallow some meds.

PJs and pillow

I decided to use Lizzy House’s Constellation collection for both (perfect for sleepovers, right?!) and love them. They have a great hand and are nice and soft and make me want to make some for myself in a big grown-up Mom size. I bought the fabrics over at Modern Domestic (where I’ll be teaching kids how to sew these) and Lupine helped pair up a Kona solid that’s the perfect purple. Almost a periwinkle, but not blue enough. Is that a violet? I really should learn my shades of purple.

The pillowcase turned out well for being made without any sort of guide. It turned out a little smaller than I would’ve liked, but worked okay. I should do a tutorial on it because it was really easy, looks super nice with the french seams and is a nice little treat for yourself.

For the pants I used the Little Sleep Well pattern, which I’d definitely recommend. The primer is slightly confusing  with its “optional” instructions and could see a beginner getting a tad irritated by it, but overall it was great. No separate facings to deal with and easy-peasy construction.

When I finished I asked my friend’s daughter to model  them for me, which she was, of course, quite happy to do. She grabbed one of her Pop’s tees and a stuffie to complete the ensemble. Adorable, really.
Maya_PJs and PillowShe was a total ham for it, setting up the lights, laying out the quilts. So sweet of her! I wish my camera would have gotten a clearer shot of her, but I didn’t realize it was so grainy until too late. Bummer. Miss M makes up for it with her cuteness, though, right?