Thursday, January 5, 2017

Guest Blogging at McCall's Quilting today

I'm excited to share that I am a guest blogger over at McCall's Quilting. Head on over to see how I made Seaside Steps into a quilt fit for a college student.


Using Southwest Minnesota State University colors, in the hopes that my graduating senior might stick close to home. Ha!



Enjoy the post, and let me know if you make a Seaside Steps, aka graduation quilt, of your own. I would love to see it.

Happy Stitching!
Jen

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Introducing Muggamo!

Welcome to PBJ's Muggamo! 

Muggamo is a fun, new, monthly mug rug pattern program. Say that 3 times! You can't, so I changed it to mug rug a month, then mug a month, then Muggamo! Short, cute and catchy. Hopefully.

Feel free to grab this button and add it to your blog if you are joining in. You can also use #muggamo in your social media. I would love to see your creations!

Patterns By Jen


On the first of each month I will be posting a pattern for a mug rug. This year the focus will be star patterns. My samples will be made in colors I feel represent the month, but you could choose to  make them scrappy or matching, either way you will have 12 Mug Rugs at the end of the year. 

Introducing January's Star Mug Rug.



Download your instructions here.
*Instructions updated: if downloaded before 4:30 pm CST, make sure to download the new version*

Supplies needed:
Dark Grey: 2" x 23" strip
Light Grey: 2" x 23" strip
Blue: two 3" squares, one 2 1/2" square
White: two 3" squares, one 1" x 6 1/2" strip
Backing and batting: 11" x 8 1/2"
Binding: 2" x 36"

Let's get started!

Using the blue and white 3" make four Half Square Triangles.  Trim to 2 1/2".








Next, sew your strips together, length wise.




I slow my machine down a notch when sewing strips, it seems to help it pull through more evenly, and I don't get that wavy look. Press carefully to the dark side, it is very important not to push the iron and distort the seam.

Trim off one end, I use my ruler to follow the seam line to get that straight edge, not the mat.




From your strip cut three 2 1/2" x 3 1/2" rectangles. Set those aside for the side piece. Then cut four 3 1/2" squares. Mark the diagonal on the back side of two of those squares.




Match them up with the other two squares, making sure to match opposite colors.




Make four Half Sqrare Triangles.




To square this piece to 2 1/2" you need to line up where the seams match at the 1 1/4" mark on your ruler.





Then line it up on the 2 1/2" mark as you usually would.




I like to use the Tucker Trimmer (no affiliation), and with that you would line up the seams here:




Again, making the last trim by lining up at the 2 1/2" mark.




Layout your block, and stitch top, middle and bottom rows together. I pressed the top and bottom rows out and the middle row in.




Sew the last seams together pressing them all up.




You could stop here if you like this size, or continue on and add the white strip to the right side and then the side piece. I forgot to take pictures of making the side piece, but it is laid out in the instructions. 

Layer and quilt.  For this one you need a 11" x 8 1/2" backing and batting. This is a great use for those batting pieces leftover from quilting. 

Even with small pieces I like to tape the layers down. I don't use spray baste, it just doesn't work for me, so I pin everything. A couple of pins here and we're ready to quilt. 




I used my walking foot to stitch in the ditch along the white strip, and the diagonals in rows 1 and 3. I quilted a diagonal line through each of the side rectangles. 


I started stitch in the ditch at on diagonal, stitched in the ditch across to the next and down that diagonal.

Once quilted, I put the binding on. I use a 2" wide strip, press in half, machine stitch to the front, hand stitch to the back. I cannot, for the life of me, figure out how to do a nice machine stitched binding. Maybe that should be one of my 2017 goals. 




Now it's ready for your favorite quilting drink and snack!




I hope you've enjoyed this little tutorial and make your own star mug rug for January. I think it's so rewarding to make, and finish, something quickly. It really picks me up. Come back Feb 1st for another Muggamo pattern!

Happy Stitching!
Jen






Saturday, December 31, 2016

2017 Goals

Last year I posted a list of goals for 2016. I want to revisit those goals and then share some new ones for 2017 with you.




2016 Goals
1) Publish 6 patterns -
The Picnic Quilt, Star Light, Star Bright Sampler, Criss Crossing, Frayed Edges, Winter Cheer, and even though Seaside Steps is in the Feb/Mar 2017 issue, it did technically come out in Dec 2016.
I think we'll call that good.

2) Schedule 4 trunk shows - 
Ummmmm, nope. Not a one. That is totally on  my shoulders, since I didn't even go out and try. 


3) Get published in a magazine


4) Find more testers-
Yes! I'm thrilled with the help I've had. My testers are amazing.

5) Blog once a week -
Well, that didn't happen, did it?


Where to go from here...

2017 Goals

1) Publish 8 patterns - I feel like I need to keep growing, but if I don't hit 8, I'm going to be ok with that. I'm a wife, mother and family child care provider, giving myself a little slack is important.

2) Schedule 1 trunk show. - See what I did there? Hahahaha! Well, I still want to do these, but I'm going to have to figure out how. So lets start with 1, shall we.

3) Get published in a different magazine - I've already had a rejection from a different magazine, but I'm hoping to get picked up by another one. If at first you don't succedd, try, try again.

4) Step out of my comfort zone and video a couple of tutorials - I've got nothing to add to that. Scary!

5) Contact other distributors and stores - It's time to get those patterns out there!

6) Grow my readers! That's you! What do you like to see in a blog? Do you like email lists? Share your thoughts in the comments!

I'm excited to get 2017 started!!

Happy Stitching!
Jen


PS. Check back tomorrow for the first in a series of Mug Rug tutorials. By the end of the year you will have a set of 12, perfect for keeping your drink of choice and a sweet handy. 

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Instagram: @patternsbyjen

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

A look back at 2016

The end of 2016 is drawing near and it's the perfect time to sit back and evaluate, as well as give yourself credit for the things you have accomplished.

I am going to share with you a few things that really helped 2016 feel like a growing year for me. In the midst of the hustle and bustle of life, the year goes by fast and tends to blur, so sit back, grab a cup of coffee (or wine, it's 5 o' clock somewhere) and lets take a look back.




I'll start with Valentine. This was a Picked By Jen post. You can find all of them here. This little project sat un-quilted for 2 years. I challenge you to go pick out something small and finish it. It is quite motivating!




Next, my way of making a miniature hanging sleeve. Putting together a tutorial is a little intimidating. There are different ways to do the same thing, so I always question if the way I do it is the correct way. I think I've gotten to the point where I can say, it's my way, and that's ok. This is, however, the only tutorial I have, so maybe I'm not that brave. Ha! 




After doing a tutorial the next step was another free pattern.  This one is quite simply, The Picnic Quilt.  It was fun to do a little photo shoot with my daughter. This was a quick and simple quilt that was just fun to make.




Having Criss Crossing published in a magazine was a highlight of the year. I still get goosebumps when I pick up that issue




I was a part of the 2016 New Quilt Bloggers Blog Hop. That was such a great experience and so helpful. It was great being able to connect with other new bloggers as well as get help from them. 




Joining the Cloud 9 New Block Blog Hop was so fun, and a bit nerve wracking. Those fabrics were to die for, and making that first cut had me almost dying. Too soft and pretty to ruin with a missed cut! 




I have to share this one, because it still makes me giggle. The only cute mosquito there is!




I was asked to take a class, Understanding Value from CraftU, and give my thoughts on it. This was a first for me and it was an honor and a thrill. Plus, it was also educational. :)




I will end with Seaside Steps. My second magazine published pattern, again with McCalls Quick Quilts. I hope the thrill of seeing my patterns all shiny and in print never grows old. If I'm having an off day, or can't seem to get motivated, I pull this out and it energizes me.

Thank you for taking a trip down 2016 memory lane. Thank you for reading, thank you for (hopefully) laughing with me, and thank you for commenting and being a part of Patterns By Jen. Have a blessed last few days of 2016. Bring on 2017!

Happy Stitching!
Jen


Thursday, December 15, 2016

Seaside Steps - A McCalls Quick Quilts contribution

I am so excited to introduce you to Seaside Steps.




You can find this pattern in the February/March 2017 issue of McCalls Quick Quilts. In an upcoming blog post I will have another idea for this pattern to be used for college students. Currently, though, there is a free download provided by McCalls Quilting to make this quilt in multiple sizes. Score!

Seaside Steps uses my favorite block, the Half Square Triangle, with a quick and easy block in between that is perfecto for fussy cutting. The HST and I have a love/hate relationship, but once the squaring up is done it's nothing but love. This is a great pattern if you have a large print you want to show off, or if you have a smaller print you would like to fussy cut for the centers. Or hey, do both like the original. Those mermaids are adorable!!




Fabrics for this quilt come from the Camelot Fabrics collection, Under the Sea. Those little mermaids are adorable, but check out the other little sea animals that are just too cute. Those crabs! Aack! So cute! The colors in the collection are so amazing and saturated and the fabrics so soft and enjoyable to work with. 

The Feb/Mar 2017 issue is available for purchase online here, the hardcopy will hit stores by December 27th, 2016. 




To celebrate the awesomeness that is having your pattern printed in a magazine, I am having a giveaway. I have TWO magazines for two lucky quilters. Leave a comment below with the colors you would choose to make Seaside Steps in and the Random Number Generator will choose two winners. Contest ends Friday, December 16th at 11:59 PM. 




Do you know what is really cool? Going into your download folder and finding two WOW buttons, because you have been in McCalls Quick Quilts twice. That is pretty WOW!!

Now go comment and good luck!!!

Happy Stitching!
Jen


Tuesday, December 6, 2016

December Picked By Jen - Elf Stockings

Picked By Jen posts are posts where I show you something I have made from a chosen tutorial that I found "somewhere on the web". It has been a while since I've done one, and what could be more perfect for December than stockings? 

Not the greatest picture, but it still makes my heart smile.


I chose the Elf Stocking (you will need to scroll down the page a bit to get the free download) from Patty Young of MODKID




If you are looking for a quick, cute stocking pattern, this is it. Look at those elf toes!!




Since I made six stockings, I traced the pattern onto interfacing. That way I could cut several and it would still be in good shape. Once I was done with it, I was able to just stick it into a manila envelope for storage and not worry about the tape coming off, or the paper getting creased. Maybe, years from now, I'll need to make little stockings to match. Though the more likely scenario is that we'll lose one and I'll need to make another next year.




When I use interfacing as a pattern, I position it on the fabric like any other pattern and then use weights to hold it all in place. In this case it was cans of chili beans. 




Then I use my rotary cutter. Since I found PDF clothing patterns, I have been convinced that scissors are no longer necessary for cutting out any fabric. Rotary cutter all the way...usually.




Even for that small area I pulled out my little 18 mm rotary cutter, and it worked perfectly. Just go slow and easy and I think you will find you like it.




I made one stocking all the way through, to make sure I understood the instructions, then made the last 5 all at once. 




CUTE!!  (If I do say so myself.)

The only thing I changed was that I added a lining, simply because I didn't like the feel of the fleece.  Nancy Zimmerman also added a lining, you can see her sock, and get instructions for that, here.

If you want to make a quick, cute Elf Stocking, this one really was quick, and I think completely adorable. 

Happy Stitching!
Jen


Friday, December 2, 2016

Understanding Value in Quilt Design - A Craft University class review

I was so excited to be asked to take and review a Craft University class. My choice. Any class. Um, is it my birthday?  It was difficult to choose just one, and I will definitely have to find time to take another one...or two... or three...

So which one, which one. 

I chose to take the Understanding Value in Quilt Design from Grace Errea of Amazing Quilts by Grace. I've always wanted to learn more about color/hue/value/contrast and everything else that has to do with making a good quilt, great. I don't know about you, but I've had a quilt or two that I was so excited about, only to have it be ho hum, or dare I say, even ugly. How disappointing is that?! All of that hard work and it's just not the stunning masterpiece you thought it would be. Sometimes, you can't even explain why. I think that's where this class will be helpful.

Getting close ups of those gorgeous quilts is a huge added bonus.

There are a couple of useful tools for you to choose from. You can either buy Grace's Value Matching Tool, or you can download her Periodic Table of Value in Color. While I didn't buy the Value Matching tool (I wanted to get going on this class), I did write it down on my Christmas wish list. Let's hope hubby reads it, because after taking the class I realize I need all the help I can get! I did download and print the Periodic Table of Value in Color and I found it extremely helpful. 

Lesson 1 goes into what Value is and how to organize your tone on tone fabrics. (Which, by the way, I don't have a lot of. Apparently I like prints. Who knew!) Each color, or hue, has a value. Grace introduces you to the difference, shows off some amazing quilts and goes into detail about value.  Then she does a crazy thing. She assigns homework. *GULP* Organizing. Your. Stash.  It's a blessing and a curse to know what is in your stash. I thought I was really good about getting rid of scraps. Turns out, I was wrong.





Actually, this was one of my favorite things to do in the class. I think I need to go though and touch and organize my fabrics more often. I have some really pretty pieces that I forgot I had. I tend to buy only what I need for a project, so those extras that I find and purchase get left in the bottom of the bucket. Awww, poor fabrics. 

Though I found I had a ginormous (for me) pile of greens, I stuck with her suggestion to value-ize my reds. It's not as easy as it sounds, for me anyway, but it is worth it!



I think I did pretty well.

In Session 2, Working With Value to Create a Focal Point, we got an assignment with a little added bonus. Did you know you can make your drawings into posters...for free!!!  I tried out the website Grace shares, and it is as easy as she says. I didn't use this size for my project, just printed it out as a test. Yay for poster sized goodness!

So big, I had to stand on a chair, see!

When you are looking at quilts, your eye is drawn to certain areas. Have you ever wondered why? I bet you have discussed it with your quilting buddies at shows or in the shops. How do you make your quilt come to life? How do you give it movement? It all has to do with value choices. 




 Here is my version of our homework assignment from Session 2. 




It's ok, but I could use some work in the value department. As I look at this picture I realize I forgot the little piece of highlight to really make it 3D. Whoops! C+ for effort?


When we get to my Periodic Table of Value in Color you will see how I am missing some values. In the case of the apple, I improvised by "skillfully" placing a piece between the white. That darker part on the apple, that's the backside of a fabric. Improvisation, baby. 

Session 3, Create a High Value Block and a Low Value Block, is harder then it seems. At least it was for me. If I learned anything from this class, I am not good with value. Ha! I think part of my issue was lighting. In MN it really is dark at 5 pm, which makes a difference in what you see. At least it did for me. The other issue is, it's a new skill for me.  One I definitely have not worked on before, but this class was a great starting point.



Here are my versions of our homework assignment. As you can see, I need a little work. :)

High Value

Low Value

The last session, Portable Periodic Table of Value in Color, was a wee bit eye opening. As in, I apparently don't like the lighter values...in anything. I have to say, it's a surprise! I thought I drifted towards lighter things, but apparently I have a dark side. Who knew. Well, probably my hubby, which means it's pretty much guaranteed that I will be getting the Value Matching Tool for Christmas. Bwaahaahaahaa!




A stop at the LQS, Fabrics Plus, was needed to fill in those empties, especially those greens. Remember, I said I had a ginormous pile? I guess I don't like green greens, though, because it was mostly yellowy greens. 





I think this will be a good tool for me. There are still some spaces to fill, but I didn't want to force anything. Besides, this way, I'll have to go back to the quilt shop and play with more fabric. Bummer!


Who knew orange would be so hard?!

While it was a little different, and felt a little slow, I enjoyed the class. This is quite possibly because it is the first online quilting class I have taken. You see, I have always liked to talk in class, much to the dismay of my teachers. I was lonely. Plus my instructor Grace didn't laugh at my jokes.   I learned something (that is so important) about value and hue, and the lack of it in my stash, and I get to continue practicing what I learned (even more important). If you are hoping to have a good understanding of how value works in your quilting, I recommend this class. I am looking forward to going through it again, because it will definitely be worth the time to have Grace teach me again. Even if she doesn't laugh at me jokes.


Happy Stitching!
Jen



**No affiliation to any of the links shared. The opinions, and jokes, are all mine.**