Thursday, September 21, 2017

Are you ready for Cutie Madness?

I design Cutie Patterns and 16 of my patterns are battling against each other to see which is YOUR favorite!


This week Summer's End and Squared Away are going head to head.

Summer's End:


Squared Away:


Vote for your favorite HERE and be entered to win a random drawing of these two patterns.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Welcome Home!

As a traveling quilt teacher, I travel for as little as a day at a time and as much as 37 days at a time (only once; never again).  The average, though, is 4-5 days away.  My last trip had me away from home for 7 days.  This was on top of 3 weeks away and 2 weeks of medical treatment.  To say I was missing my quilting time is an extreme understatement!

My first day at home, I decided that extreme quilt therapy was in order.  I grabbed one of my "waiting to be quilted" Cutie tops and started ribbon candy-ing as if my life (and sanity) depended upon it:


I finished ribbon candy-ing my Squared Away Cutie Quilt.  This quilt was a delight from start to finish because PennyRose Coming Up Roses fabrics (affiliate link*) by Jillily Studio are just the happiest fabrics ever!  And Jill makes me just as happy in person.

Even though I ribbon-candied an entire quilt, I was still jittery.  Clearly I needed more cowbell ribbon candy:


Fortunately I had an unquilted Sweet Tooth Cutie Quilt top just lying around, as one does.  I'm still ribbon candy-ing, but I have no idea if this quilt will be enough.  Just how many ribbon candied quilts will it take to feel like I'm me again, do you think?

Are you a ribbon candy fan?  I teach ribbon candy in one of my Craftsy classes (50% off link HERE**).
_____
*If you purchase something through an affiliate link I may, at no additional cost to you, receive a small commission to keep this website running.

**Coupon Details: Get 50% off the full retail price of select Craftsy classes taught by Debby Brown - Instructor. Cannot be combined with any other coupons. Expires December 19, 2017.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Cutie Quilt: Irresistible

Do you ever get a "What would happen if I....?" thought?  Well I did, and shockingly it was a thought about a quilt.  What would happen if I made my Irresistible Cutie Pattern in black and white fabrics, set them with baby blue fabric, and quilt it all using my FabuLux Cloudy Skies thread?

Well, this is what would happen:


Overall, I'm fairly happy.  This will be a very useful baby quilt (and I'm drowning in babies during this season of my life).

What I'm still not sure about is how well the Cloudy Skies thread worked on the blue fabric:


I was hoping it had as much wow as this:


or THIS.

I don't think that it does, but I think that the quilt will be well-loved despite not being quite as cool as I hoped it would be.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

UnBroken

August was a great month of travel for me, but it ended in a whimper.  And a crash.  Everything I touched broke and needed to be repaired or replaced.  With the western part of the US on fire, Texas underwater from Hurricane Harvey, and Hurricane Irma poised to strike, I laughed at how small my problems were.  Even still, they were problems.

September started with an infusion for me, so I didn't feel well while doing the work to repair or replace everything I own.

Also:

Replacing everything one owns can be a tad spendy.

Here's the rundown:

My tumble dryer
I have a very simple laundry routine and rarely use my clothes dryer but my daughter visits weekly just to do her laundry.  Labor Day is a great time to need a new appliance because of the sales, so we bought a new one and it was delivered last week.  My daughter tested it over the weekend and apparently it works just fine.
($$$)

Hearing Aid
I wear hearing aids to amplify regular noises and also to cancel out tinnitus (ringing in the ears).  My left hearing aid stopped working.  I could hear fair-to-middling well with my right ear, not so well with my left ear, and the ringing in my left ear was causing me to bang my head against the wall in frustration.  I managed to get an appointment and expected to have them send the hearing aid out for repair.  Color me shocked when it was an electrical connection problem and I left after 10 minutes with better hearing and no more ringing!
(FREE -- but was willing to pay whatever)

iPhone
The day of my infusion last week, my phone died.  No texts, no phone calls, no data.  I could get on the internet if I had wifi, but that was all.  I stopped at the phone store on my way home from the hearing aid appointment.  They offered to sell me a new phone (nooooooo!!! -- I don't want to mess around with learning a new phone) but ended up replacing my non-working SIM card.
(FREE, but I will need a new phone soonish)

Phone Mount for Tripod
When I film my FaceBook Live videos, I mount my phone on a tripod.  I took this tripod on a family vacation so we could take family portraits, but the Phone Mount was broken during transport.  I brought a camera that mounts directly to the tripod so we were still able to get some fun family photos, but I needed to buy a new Phone Mount.
($7)

Apple Watch
When I flew to London last month, as soon as I got to Heathrow I noticed that the face popped off of my Apple Watch.  I haven't worn it since.  I don't live near an Apple store and last week I finally was able to get to one to drop the watch off for repair.  Hopefully I'll get it back next week.
(FREE -- Apple Care)

Computer
Every two years, whether I need it or not, I have to buy a new computer.  I've had hard drives corrupted, electrical inputs die, and once my computer kind of melted (the fan died and it overheated A LOT).  This was another hard drive death.  I only like technology when it works; when it doesn't work, I'm a frustrated, angry mess with less than pleasant language.  While I was dropping off my Apple Watch at the mall in the next state I saw a Microsoft store.  This followed me home (affiliate link*):

After struggling to save my files and uninstall/reinstall some programs, I started having fun learning to use this.  Did you notice the incredibly fine $ art work above?  I drew that on my computer.  Be impressed.
($$$$$)

Postage Scale
When I move my postage scale, it rattles.  What makes it rattle are the broken parts that bring electricity to the device.  Fortunately, it also runs on batteries.  I can't face fixing/replacing another thing because my brain hurts right now.
(TBD)

I still have non-wheeling suitcases, a dodgy generator, a non-working snowblower, a 43 year old deck, a 43 year old bathroom, a 43 year old kitchen, a 43 year old driveway.... well, you get the point.

I will work on those as I regrow brain cells.

Have you ever had everything break on you at once?  In a life without many problems, this is the pits.
_____
*An affiliate link means that if you purchase something through the link I may, at no extra cost to you, receive a small commission to help keep this website running.


Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Cutie Quilt: Fenced In

While I was home last week, I finished another sample of my Fenced In Cutie Pattern:


I pulled blues and green fabrics together from my personal collection (aka "stash") and added a fun Hippopotamus border.

Every time I finish one of these quilts, I promise that I'll custom quilt it.  And then I go ahead and quilt a quick overall swirl on it:


No one has yet complained.  This quilt is for my daughter and she won't complain either.

Now I have to pull fabric to make another Fenced In and I pinky-swear promise that I'll custom quilt it.  Or not.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Quilters are the Best People EVER!

Last week was a rough week for me.  I had another infusion and my second (last) treatment in each series is always hard on me.  I prepared for it as best I could by packing a snuggly quilt and my shiny disco ball.  I slept through about 5 hours of the treatment and then my husband drove me home when it was finally over.

Once home, I was treated to love from many quilters who probably didn't even know how much I needed it that day!

Hanging on my doorknob was a package of Ninja fabrics from my one of my local quilting buddies:


I deal with inflammation in the cartilage between my ribs and refer to the pain as "ninja pain."  I wrote about my ninja pain HERE.  Joliene knows about this and thought I needed to make a ninja quilt.  She's absolutely right!  Stay tuned to see what happens to these fabrics.

My husband brought in the mail whilst I was sleeping in my hammock.  This box of chocolate love was well-timed, indeed:


The Hello Kitty wrappers just added more love to the entire thing, didn't they?  Lucy is cool like that!

I checked my email once I hit the WIDE AWAKE!!! part of my infusion recovery and found this beautifully kind note about one of my Craftsy classes (50% off coupon for my Craftsy classes HERE*):

I watched 2 of your classes yesterday on the All-You_Can_Watch_For-Free day: Stunning Free-Motion Machine Quilting Using Simple Shapes, and You Can Quilt It! Strategies for Custom Quilting...and I left glowing reviews! I LOVE the idea that I can create my own grid stencils. As I wrote in my review,"For anyone who struggles with FMQ, the grid approach simplifies the process. Debbie breaks FMQ down by using grids so that you can quilt a complicated design in small portions and have consistent end results." THANK YOU!!!

This, folks, is why I spend a third of my time on the road teaching quilters how to love machine quilting.

I don't know what I did to deserve such love, and all on the same day, but I'm very grateful to you all.  Quilters are the best people, aren't they just?

Other than lingering nausea that should be gone in a few days, I'm right as rain and back on the road today.  I'm excited for two things:

1.  I get to meet with quilters in Maine and New Hampshire this week
2.  I don't have to have another infusion until January!

My goal for this week is to be as generous as kind with people as people are with me.  That's a tall order, but I'll do my best!
_________
*Coupon Details: Get 50% off the full retail price of select Craftsy classes taught by Debby Brown - Instructor. Cannot be combined with any other coupons. Expires December 8, 2017.

Monday, September 11, 2017

HQ Academy: Quilting Elevated (part three)

I'm nearly recovered from HQ Academy 2017 and already looking forward to HQ Academy 2018!

Did I ever mention how much fun I had there?

Some of my fun looked like this:



And, I can't believe I'm sharing this with you but... some of my fun looked like this:

video

Yes, that is me.  Along with Sariditty, I'm leading 200-300 quilters in a rousing song of "Thread, Needles, Tension, Feet."

If you search well, you might find videos of the quilters singing along.

Will I see you at HQ Academy next year?

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Back to School Blog Hop 2017 -- Securing Machine Quilting Knots

Sam Hunter is running a fabulous Back to School Blog Hop for Sewists and I'm honored to share some machine quilting tips today.


Securing machine quilting knots is one of the most-often asked questions in my classes, so I thought I'd show you how as part of this blog hop.

Starting knot:



Ending Knot:



I offer more tips like these in my newsletter, so sign up here!

Be sure to catch up on your lessons and follow along with the rest of the blog hop!

Day 1 – August 15 – Sam Hunter: How to spray baste a BIG quilt – www.huntersdesignstudio.com
Day 2 – August 16 – Mandy Leins: Thread Dread: removing stray bits after quilting – www.mandalei.com
Day 3 – August 17 – Nancy Stovall: The Sweet Creamy Filling – www.justquiltingpdx.com
Day 4 – August 18 – Ebony Love: 7 Indispensible feet for your sewing machine – www.LoveBugStudios.com
Day 5 – August 19 – Michelle Freedman: Machine throat plates – www.designcamppdx.blogspot.com
Day 6 – August 20 – Teresa Coates: Edge/Under/Top stitching – www.crinkledreams.com
Day 7 – August 21 – Kelly Cole: Ten ways to regain your sew-jo – www.vintagefabricstudio.com
Day 8 – August 22 – Megan Dougherty: Choose to Fuse: tips for working with fusibles for applique – www.thebitchystitcher.com
Day 9 – August 23 – Kim Lapacek: Tricks to being productive while hauling your kids around – www.persimondreams.blogspot.com
Day 10 – August 24 – Yvonne Fuchs: Circuitboard quilting on Domestic and Longarm Machines – www.quiltingjetgirl.com
Day 11 – August 25 – Sandi Hazlewood: Chain Piecing Quilt Blocks Tips – www.craftyplanner.com
Day 12 – August 26 – Juliet van der Heijden: Paper-piecing with children – www.thetartankiwi.com
Day 13 – August 27 – Maddie Kertay: Fabric folding for any storage solution – www.badassquilterssociety.com
Day 14 – August 28 – Cath Hall: Working with Lawn fabric – www.wombatquilts.com
Day 15 – August 29 – Tracy Mooney: Tips for the perfect seam – www.sewmuchcosplay.com
Day 16 – August 30 – Teri Lucas: How to bury thread – www.terificreations.com
Day 17 – August 31 – Debby Brown: Securing machine quilting knots – www. higheredhands.blogspot.com
Day 18 – September 1 – Flaun Cline: How to put some sparkle in your fabric pull (part 1) – www.ipleadquilty.com
Day 19 – September 2 – Jessica Darling: How to put some sparkle in your fabric pull (part 2) – www.jessicakdarling.com
Day 20 – September 3 – Trish Frankland: A bigger blade really IS better?! – www.persimondreams.blogspot.com
Day 21 – September 4 – Lynn Krawczyk: Build a simple design with hand stitching – www.smudgeddesignstudio.com
Day 22 – September 5 – Jane Davidson: How to make scrappy HSTs – www.quiltjane.com
Day 23 – September 6 – Linda Pearl: Low cost tips for organizing your sewing room – www.onequiltingcircle.com
Day 24 – September 7 – Christa Watson – Top 10 tips for quilting on a domestic machine – www.christaquilts.com
Day 25 – September 8 – Sarah Nunes: To Starch or Not to Starch – www.berrybarndesigns.com
Day 26 – September 9 – Suzy Webster: Testing fabric for bleeding – www.websterquilt.blogspot.com
Day 27 – September 10 – Sarah Goer: Machine bind your quilts like a pro – www.sarahgoerquilts.com
Day 28 – September 11 – Vanda Chittenden: Beginner paper-piecing tips – www.chittenden.co.za
Day 29 – September 12 – Cheryl Sleboda: Needle threading tips – www.muppin.com
Day 30 – September 13 – Kim Niedzwiecki – Different thread weights and when to use them – www.gogokim.com
Day 31 – September 14 – Sandra Healy: Conquer Your Fear of Machine Appliqué – www.sandrahealydesigns.com
Day 32 – September 15 – Sandra Starley: The Basics of Antique Quilt Collecting – www.utahquiltappraiser.blogspot.com

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

On The Road: Paris

While I was in England a few weeks ago, Super-Hubby and I took a quick trip to Paris.  I've been to Paris a few times, but I've never left the airport so it hardly counts.  The goal of this trip was to have fun, but to not wear me out physically as many European trips can.  Super-Hubby booked a hotel a few blocks away from the Louvre since that was a must-see for us.  It was a risky choice of hotel, but the location and price were right.

We stayed at the Hotel Odyssey, a concept hotel based on Ora-Ito design concepts.  This hotel room made cruise ship cabins look large.  Seriously.  But it was PERFECT!

There are only 29 rooms in this hotel, and "they decline 29 tones of the chromatic scale" which means they were each different vibrant colors.  Our room was purplish.

Walking in the room, my first thought was "Where is the toilet???"


I seriously had to look for it.  It wasn't at the foot of the bed:


It wasn't behind the bed:


Was it in the hallway?


Running out of places to look, I opened the closet behind the door.  There it was!


This bathroom made airplane bathrooms feel spacious.  I have enough hours in the air to state that with complete authority.

Do you doubt me?


The hallway was teeny-tiny, too.  Every time we were in the hallway, we prayed we wouldn't pass any of our neighbors:


The website doesn't hide the smallness of the rooms.  It states "The very functional space is structured around very few things; everything is at arm's length."  They were completely not kidding, and it completely worked!  Everything was small and it was comfortable.  

I have stayed at luxurious hotels, scary hotels, homeless hotel (NOT PLURAL), and many others, but this was the oddest hotel I've ever stayed at and it made Paris even more memorable for us.

Do you have a weird hotel experience like this that ended up being perfectly lovely?

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Postcards for Houston

Along with many, I am glued to the news watching the devastation in Texas.  If I were home, I would turn off the news, run to my sewing room, and make postcards to bring peace to myself and to others, but I am traveling this week with my family.  I have no machine or fabric and not even a single thread with me.

I do have my computer, though, and I turned there to help me personally deal with this tragedy as I wait for updates from friends and family in Houston.  I've had this 4.25" x 5.5" postcard design in my head for a while:



I wrote up this pattern and have added it to my store.  If you look closely, you'll see that the downloadable pattern sells for $0.  In exchange for this pattern download, I ask that you make a donation to the victims of Hurricane Harvey.  I have friends who work with Samaritan's Purse; please add links to your favorite relief charities in the comments below.

When I return home, I will stitch this and publish tutorials in my newsletter.  You can easily make postcards from the scraps in your sewing room.  If you need supplies, though, check out my Postcard Trimming Tool and Postcard Supply Kit on my website.

Please share this post wherever you can.

Monday, August 28, 2017

On the Road: Birmingham

I recently taught Simply Sixteen classes in the Pinhole Quilting stand at the Festival of Quilts in Birmingham, UK.  Due to a packed schedule and limited internet access, I couldn't show you all of the wonders of this trip in real time.  Please enjoy some delayed posts about a FABULOUS trip!

When I was in Birmingham, Super-Hubby and I stayed at a beautiful bed and breakfast in Hampton in Arden.

Beauty was in every detail:


 I want this wainscoating in my house!


My 1970s house in New York has none of these beautiful touches:


Why can't I be served breakfast here EVERY DAY?


Did I mention charming touches?


And beautiful details everywhere?


 The owners should be glad that this chandelier wouldn't fit into my carry-on luggage:


So, my time at the show was wonderful but my time away from the show was wonderful, too!

Are you jealous of my job?  Because I'm pretty sure I have the best job in the whole world!

Friday, August 25, 2017

Simple Pleasures: Cleaning Wipes

Since I travel for work about 50% of my life, I like my time at home to be as simple as possible.  I have already mentioned my simple laundry routine, but other cleaning chores could take up all of my time at home, leaving no time for quilting.  The horror!

Years and years ago, I ready Flylady's book (affiliate link*) and learned that a little cleaning done regularly can keep the house pretty clean.  I've adapted her system to work with my traveling life and cleaning wipes are my answer.

I use cleaning wipes to keep my sewing room clean as well as the rest of the house.  I can't breathe when I use harsh chemicals, so I make my own wipes.


I cut up old towels from my wedding shower (30+ years ago) and zig-zag stitched around them.  If none of your towels look like my old towels, I suppose you could buy cheap washcloths instead.  I cut them to the size of my Swiffer so that I can use these to mop my floor as well as wipe grimy surfaces.  I store the wipes in plastic containers and then cover them with this home-made cleaning solution.

2 C water
1 1/2 cups vinegar (I use apple cider vinegar)
1/2 cups super-cheap vodka**
1 splash of soap -- Dawn, Dr. Bronner's soap (affiliate link*), or Soap Nut cleaner (affiliate link*)

I keep a container of wipes in the kitchen, each bathroom, the laundry room, and the sewing room so that I can have them at hand whenever I need them.

When the tables on  my longarms get dusty, I grab a damp rag and wipe the dust off.  When my floor mats (affiliate link*) get dusty and grimy, I put a damp rag in my Swiffer and do a quick mopping.  This prevents the grime from the mats getting onto any fabric that might fall on it.

I use these same cleaners for the rest of the house.  Warning: this cleaner dries with streaks/spots, so I wipe surfaces down with a dry towel.

Whenever I'm in between steps of a sewing project, I grab a wipe and clean something quickly so that I can get back to quilting as soon as possible!
_____
*An affiliate link means that if you click on the link and buy the product I may, at no additional cost to you, receive a small commission to help keep this blog running.

**My vodka is in a Mason jar because the lid broke on the vodka bottle.  I promise that I didn't make my own hooch.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Postcards for Peace: Pole Dancing

Yesterday I wasn't at peace.  It wasn't the injustice in the world or interpersonal relationships that had me disturbed, it was an IV bag of steroids I received as part of a routine medical treatment (full store HERE).  If you've never been treated with high dose IV steroids, you might not be able to appreciate the jumpiness, shakiness, sleeplessness, pent-up energy, and emotions that come with it.  Even though I do my best to keep to myself, I apologize to my husband for my behavior before, during, and after treatment.

I was pacing in circles yesterday, unsettled, so I decided to make a postcard.  I hoped that focusing on a small project would give me a little peace.  It did!

My postcard design was inspired by my recent treatment.  When I get my IV treatments, I bring a disco ball with me for "pole dancing" my way to the ladies' room:


In my sleeplessness, I thought "I can quilt a disco ball!"  And so I grabbed my Versa Tool and sat in front of Hedwig, my HQ Stitch 710:


I used the half-circle on top of the Versa Tool to make a 4" circle using silver metallic thread.  Then I started filling in the rows of mirrored tiles:


Once finished, I wasn't sure what to think.  Is this a disco ball?  I don't trust my minds on days like that:


I fused the disco ball to stabilizer and trimmed it with my Postcard Trimming Tool:


I was still worried that it looked like the Death Star rather than a disco ball, so I added some peridot crystals left from another project:


This card is already in an envelope and on the way to a friend who will appreciate a disco ball of her very own.



Wednesday, August 23, 2017

MAIL CALL: Flag of France

While I was at Festival of Quilts in Birmingham this month, I took some extra time and headed to Paris.  This sparked a new postcard for Little Boy.

I pieced the three strips, fused them to stabilizer and a backing, and then trimmed the postcard using my Postcard Trimming Tool:


I wrote a few facts about France and the flag on the back of the card, added a personal message, placed it in a cellophane envelope, and arranged to have it mailed to Little Boy from home while I was in Paris:


I'm home this week, planning more postcards for Little Boy.  I'll finish the alphabet and then figure out my next series of weekly surprises in the mail.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

On the Road: Festival of Quilts in Birmingham, UK

Follow along on my trip to Festival of Quilts in Birmingham, UK.

This show was completely busy, as in "no time for restroom breaks or lunch" busy.  I saw very few quilts but I saw thousands upon thousands of quilters, so it evens out.

One of the quilts that I saw was MY quilt:


Victoria Findlay Wolfe thinks that it is her quilt but I quilted this quilt for her and it's my blog, so its my quilt!  Our quilt has traveled the world and been published in this book (affiliate link*).

I was tickled to meet up with my best friend:


Most shows have a theme.  The theme of this show, for me at least, was chocolate.

Pete from Pinhole Quilting brought me chocolates to inspire my devotion and encourage hard work in his stand at the show:


My sister (we think?), Susan Brown, brought me some chocolate, too:


The fabulous Lynda Jackson brought me chocolates as well.  If we look manic, it's because we were running at light speed between the Handi Quilter longarm machines helping all of the quilters:


Since there was no time for lunch, my personal assistant (boss) brought me Dr. Pepper to keep me going:


Yes, I'm horrible at taking selfies.  I'll likely never improve.

I was thrilled to meet with my friend Janet Clare:


Although not shown in the photo, Janet also gave me chocolate and told me that I had to look up the commercial for this treat.


Those are all of the photos I had time to take at the festival.  It was exciting and lovely and I hope
to return here another year!

Stay tuned, though, because my trip didn't end with the Festival of Quilts.  More later!
_____
*If you purchase something through an affiliate link I may, at no additional charge to you, receive a small commission to keep this blog running.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Quilt Finish: Placemats

Squeal!!!  These placemats make me happier than I can possibly explain:


I recently received donations of dishes from folks who got married in the 60s.  Does it show?

These placemats started when I had some scraps left from my Field of Flowers Cutie quilt:


I took some of those scraps and made miniature blocks using Victoria Findlay Wolfe's Snack Set templates.  Oh how I adore them!  Then I used the rest of the scraps to piece them into placemats.  I loaded my HQ Stitch 710 machine with FabuLux Lullaby thread.  It blended soooo well!!!!  Using Pat Sloan's technique, I stitched a walking foot spiral:


Helpful hint from this machine quilting professional:  properly install your walking foot else your quilting will look all bumpy and uneven from forcing the fabric through the machine (see center of spiral above).  If I can't be a good example, at least I can serve as a cautionary tale.  I left the icky quilting because I'm giving these placemats to my mother-in-law and they will soon be covered in spaghetti sauce.

Recently, I taught at Bits 'N Pieces Quilt Shoppe in Pelham, NH.  While I was there, Nicole showed me how to machine bind in a way that finally (!!!!) clicked with me:


Note:  I think I'm in love with Wonder Clips.  Seriously.

Seriously, isn't this the cutest placemat you've ever seen?


I hope my mother-in-law enjoys these!