Tutorial: Something You May Not Know about PicMonkey

I learned something about PicMonkey (the FREE photo editing website) that made me do a “Doh!” Homer move.

I’ve used PicMonkey lots of times to import my own photo and add cool effects, crazy fonts or neat stamp-like images. I’ve used it to create a banner for multiple blogs and websites and those little badge type images for your blog sidebar. All this time, I wished there was a way to create layers, similar to the process within Adobe Elements or other photo editing software. What I didn’t know was that the ability to import those layers was staring me in the face all along!

Today, I spent roughly an hour creating a custom invitation for my son’s birthday party. I was pretty darn proud of myself too. Really quick, before I tell you the cool thing about PicMonkey, do you want to know the fast steps I took to create that invitation?

NOTE: If you are lucky and your kid wants a Nick Jr. themed party, such as Paw Patrol (which mine had last year) check out the Nick Jr. website, last year I was able to download a printable invitation and just did a screenshot and added in his info on my computer, then I loaded it to the Facebook Event. This year, we have to create fancy printed invitations because we’re including the kids from his daycare class

Step 1) Determine a theme (my son chose Monster Jam/Monster Trucks)

Step 2) Search Google for invitation ideas, you can pretty much just type in “[theme] invitations” and a ton of images and websites will appear.

Step 3) Grab some wording that looks good, an image or two that you like and make sure you have the location and time of the event *yes, I Googled the location too.

Step 4) Open PicMonkey and Select the Design Option. The default will give you a large white square background (and by large, I mean 2000 x 2000 pixels, so keep that in mind when you’re adding text.

Step 5) Select a font you like and add the text, I chose a couple different fonts for interest and to highlight the Where and When information headings.

Now at this point, you’ve done all of this and you’re wondering HOW do I add that really cool picture of a Batman Monster truck to this cool invitation?? Well, I’m about to tell you…

Step 6) On the left menu on PicMonkey, select the Overlay option (it’s a butterfly icon), at the very top of that menu is an ADD YOUR OWN button. I’ve always ignored this button because it never made sense to me that I would have any overlays to add, but when I tried it and the window to select a file popped up, I said “doh!” and immediately selected the image of the Batman Monster truck that I had saved previously. TIP: If you pull the image in to Word or PowerPoint first you can add a cool effect, like a faded border and then from THERE, right-click and save the picture, it should save with the faded border effect on it.

Step 7) Save the image of the invitation you created and then import to Word for easy printing (card stock recommended)

Step 8) Trim the invitation down and layer on some color card stock for more WOW.

Step 9) Deliver to your child’s classmates and smile as you get that “Wow, she’s a super mom” look from the other parents (or not, because you drop the kid off at 7:30am when no one else is there)

mj-invitation

Happy Stitches!

Anna

Quilt Stories

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For the majority of my quilt making life the quilts I’ve made have had a personal purpose. I mean of course the purpose was to make something to keep me warm or to use pretty fabric. I’ve made one sample for a booth at Quilt market, it was several quilted pillow covers. That was fun at the time and then stressful when working on a deadline.

It seems like lately I see so many quilts that are made as a sample for quilt market (fall or spring) or to hang in a show (QuiltCon or Houston IQF) but do those quilts have the same story as one made for a new baby or a wedding quilt? What about one made with the fabric from clothes of a loved one who has passed to bring back memories whenever you’re snuggled under it or see it on display? I wonder about the story that the quilts that hang at market have. They are so beautiful and are often made with special care knowing that they will be put on display with the intention of promoting fabric line or new thread. Is that the beginning of that quilt’s story?

In 2015 at IQF I came across a booth in the Non-Profit booth area called the Quilt Alliance. I noticed that their mission is to document the history of a quilt. It didn’t take more than three minutes to decide to join this amazing group. This year, in 2016 I volunteered at the booth and spent a fun two hours encouraging people to sign the “Label Your Quilt” pledge. The Quilt Alliance is not just about encouraging people to label their quilts, they are the hosts behind the Share Our Stories and Go Tell It at the Quilt Show, short videos about the maker and the story behind the quilts hanging at different quilt shows. They even have a YouTube channel with these stories!

If you’ve made quilts for display at market or specifically to enter in a show, I’d love to talk to you about this. Also if you only make quilts for family/friends I’d love to hear your story too. Please fill out the form below and I’ll get in contact with you soon.

Happy stitches,

Anna

Life is Messy – KonMarie Process continued

I’ve tried to think about how to apply the Konmarie techniques for decluttering to my fabric stash. I mean, that category just embodies so much for me, it’s sentimental, it’s precious, it evokes joy in some way or form. But if I touch every piece of fabric (which I’ve been known to spend an hour or two just re-folding it to put on the shelf) will I find that every piece brings me joy? Truthfully, no. In 2015 I not only tried to refrain from buying new fabric, but I also decided to gift some fabric that I had remaining from when I had a fabric shop, I purchased it a long time ago and it was not anything I was in love with. I feel like I passed on a lot of joy to other people who seemed so happy to get that fabric! I know they will put it to good use and it gave me joy to give it away! I also recently sent a priority box full of fabric to a woman who is teaching second graders how to sew. How exciting is that!?

I think I will find more joy in making quilts out of the fabrics that bring me the most joy than just keeping them there to look pretty on a shelf.

Here’s the funny part. The fabrics on my fabric shelf are sorted by color and they are in ROY G BIV color order! Plus a separate cube each for grays, black and white, and low volumes. But the fabrics in the color cubes are not my MOST favorite, MOST precious. Those are stored in other places. Maybe in a plastic container on a top shelf, maybe stacked on top of the cube bookcase, maybe in that red cabinet with my Quilt Books. I don’t know why but I haven’t even given my favorite fabrics the place of “honor” Maybe because I didn’t want to break them up to store them with the color groups. That makes sense. But if I were to sort through all my color fabrics and determine what I want to really keep for future projects, I bet I would have room left over for those favorite fabrics.

People often ask if they should store their fabrics by color or by designer (or both). Sorting my non-precious fabric by color made a lot of sense, because then I could see that I had a TON of blues and reds and greens so I consciously stopped buying those colors. I was low on purple, orange and yellows, so those became more appealing to me once I did the color sort. But now, I’m considering the need to have them sorted this way. Then again, I also really love how they look in order like that. Maybe I just need an extension to my current bookcase (the one I have is the Kallax from IKEA which has 9 cubes but they have a variety of configurations).

As I said before though, the process of sorting through all of this should be devoted to a special Fabric Sorting Day. A special day when the kid is at school and hubby is at work and the rest of the house is clean so that I feel like I can give myself permission to enjoy the process.

It is definitely some food for thought.

Happy Stitches,

Anna

P.S. Did you know that my friend Kristan has a FREE 7 day mini course about how to declutter? You can enroll for FREE right here!

Work in Progress Wednesday

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This one has been in progress since my friend found out she was having a boy and close the colors/theme for her nursery. Well that little boy is about 18 months old now and I’m finally getting around to quilting this adorable little quilt! And it’s just a simple zigzag so I don’t know why I haven’t done it earlier. My justification is that now he will really be able to use it as a small child instead of just laying on it as a baby. Yeah,  that sounds good.  Right?

I started quilting it on Monday night, despite being tired. I had to fight off the urge to just veg on the couch and get upstairs to get it started.  Now that it’s in progress I want to finish it up ASAP! I’m using my Big Mama Janome 1600P which only does a straight stitch and with the walking foot is perfect for this project!

My goal is to get the quilting finished and binding and washing done (oh don’t forget the label)  in time to deliver it to mommy and boy by the time my kid turns 4 because they will be at his party in March.

OK, I’ve put it out into the world so now the obliger in me has to get it done!

Happy Stitches,

Anna

Modern Mommy Monday

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We’re coming up on MJ’s 4th birthday and I think every year when it gets close to his birthday I start thinking about the things I’ve done as a mom (with hubs’ contribution if course) that have worked or not worked. The big one this year is that he’s going to be ready to move to a booster seat in the car. That means the ginormous car seat we bought for him 4 years ago will be no more, that’s HUGE!
He’s gone through so many milestones this year, potty training was a HUGE one (that happened right before he turned 3 but it’s taken this whole year to get through the night dry). He’s also starting to sleep in his big boy bed, and has consciously decided he does NOT want to sleep in his toddler bed anymore. We’ve purposely made decisions to encourage him to be independent and make choices that reflect that and I enjoy seeing him choose the big bed over the toddler bed. He has also sorted through his toys and decided which ones he wants to give away to his “friends” (which means donate to Goodwill).

I think I was a non traditional parent when it came to baby stuff. We bought the giant convertible car seat instead of the carrier, I never really carried a huge diaper bag, just kept back ups in the car. I shopped at resale shops and we are so fortunate that a friend has a son who is 2 years older than MJ and when she cleans out his clothes we are the willing recipient.

I never worried about a heated wipe holder and honestly we lived in a one bedroom apartment and the boy never had a nursery, he slept in a bassinet (gift from a friend) and we didn’t buy a crib until he was at least 6 months old.

I guess I’ve started to think about this more because I have 5 friends who recently announced they are preggers and that always makes me reflect on the way I have done things as a parent.

To those 5 friends who probably don’t even read my blog, best of luck to you, I’m always here if you want some mommy or baby advice (but don’t expect it to be conventional wisdom). And I sincerely hope that I am able to make all of you something that will make being a new mom easier and more joyful.

Happy stitches,

Anna

Finish Up Friday

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I’m sure most of you have already seen this picture on Instagram or in the Late Night Quilters group on Facebook but I wanted to share it here too because I’m just so proud of myself and I want to clarify a few things.

I’m in another group on Facebook that is made up solely of people who have Sherri Lynn Wood’s book Improv Handbook for the Modern Quilter. In this book as we follow the scores she has created we often share photos and then share our discoveries and disappointments that occurred during the creating process. I love that because it really makes me have to reflect on what I made instead of just a make it and move on kind of process.

I wanted to share a discovery about this quilt and the quilting process.

First of all, everyone seems to really love this quilt and I have to fess up, it’s not pieced, it’s a cheater panel! Although I have pieced several quilts that use the wonky log cabin block as the main block and I absolutely love that block and if I actually ever owned the original Flea Market Fancy fabric by Denyse Schmidt (which is the fabrics shown in this panel)  I might very well make this quilt. I purchased  this panel plus the two border fabrics as a kit at the International Quilt Festival in Houston in approximately 2007 when I first started quilting and all I could feel comfortable with was buying and making kits.

It took me until a quilt retreat much later on to actually add the borders, make the backing and then finally this year I was able to quilt it. I think it was just waiting patiently for the right time for it to shine. If I had finished it back when I first bought it, it probably would have gotten lost in a sea of similar quilts but now it stands out and that fabric has become rather difficult to find.

What did I learn while quilting this quilt? I learned  why it’s important to have a squared up quilt top (but I did not master how to actually do that). I fought with the borders getting crinkled while I quilted. I also learned that it’s not that easy to quilt different patterns in each little strip and make it look “natural” when transitioning between them. I think that would have been easier to accomplish on a domestic machine.

I learned that even though it had been several months since the last time I used a long arm, I felt pretty confident figuring out how to load the backing and batting and float the top for quilting. Even though I really like this quilt, I was glad I had not spent a significant amount of time piecing it because it was easier to play with my quilting designs.

Sometimes if something doesn’t work out exactly as planned, you just have to go with it.

Also, as I said in my last post, binding isn’t as hard as it seems. It’s just really time consuming,  and I’m not talking about the hand stitching part,  I’m just talking prepping the binding,  sewing it onto the quilt and then top stitch zigzagging it down.

One more thing, it may seem like common sense but natural daylight is really the best for taking pictures of a quilt!

I’m hoping to continue this sew-mentum and get another quilt finished in February. It would be so awesome if I could finish one a month for the entire year but for now I’ll just take it one top at a time. The next top I want to quilt is my Epic Anna Maria Horner quilt and it’s huge so I’m sure it will take me a full day to quilt it.

Thanks for stopping by and have a lovely weekend.

Anna

Thoughts On Binding

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I am so excited to share that  I actually finished a real quilt in 2016! Here is a picture of the binding.  It’s not perfect but pretty good considering I probably went all of 2015 without putting on a traditional  binding.
Here are some thoughts which I shared on IG and FB but I added a couple of bonus thoughts  just for my blog  readers) and because I thought of them after I shared everywhere  else)
1) Always check the recommended width of the strips before cutting,  I cut mine at 2.5″ because that sounded right in my head but 3″ would have made life so much better.
2) When machine binding and planning to finish by machine, stitch the folded binding on the BACK of the quilt then fold to the front
3) At each corner  leave a tail of thread to hand finish the miter
4) Use a matching thread to stitch the binding  to the quilt because when you have to fold the binding  over to cover it, it will blend better 
5) A zigzag stitch is a life saver for this method
6) Eleanor Burns still has the best tutorial  in her book Egg Money Quilts and I’ll probably  never get rid of that book because of the tutorial for binding (and her instructions are for machine finished  binding!)

Bonus thought:
Clover clips are not just useful for hand binding, they are perfect for machine binding too  since they hold the small edge in place and they don’t poke!

Binding isn’t hard and isn’t something to be afraid of.  It’s the best part of a quilt because it means it’s finished and it feels so good to finish something that can actuality be used by adults (coming from a girl who only made mini quilts in 2015).  Just take your time, do some research (I have a whole board dedicated to binding  tips on Pinterest) find a technique that you feel comfortable with. Don’t worry about it looking perfect because in the end as long as it holds up through wear and tear and washing then it is doing it’s job. If you still hate binding  but have lots of quilts to bind, find a friend who enjoys it and work out a swap. Just do the first part of the work  by squaring up the quilt and making the binding at least.

If you have any favorite binding tutorials you’d  like to share please link them in the comments below.  I’m probably going to do a binding test during my summer quilt retreat.

Good luck  and happy stitches!

Anna