Friday, September 26, 2014

A Different Kind of Finish

First things first, I'm doing a giveaway to celebrate topping 100 posts on the blog, go here to enter! No rules, just comment on that post. International entries welcome! :)

Things have been a little quiet in this corner of the internet. . . I've been a little busy and a little in a funk. Ever just not feel like blogging. . . or cooking. . . or cleaning. . . or . . . sewing .  . . GASP! Say it isn't so!! It is. I've been reading blogs a lot (read way too much) lately. I'm seeing a lot of this going on around blog land. Reasons are different, results are the same. Quiet blogs. Interesting. Maybe it is the new equinox ;) And all that being said, I have no sewing to show you today. . . I have been quilting on my Michael Miller Challenge quilt (very little haha) and will hopefully have something, heck anything, to show soon.

What is my different kind of finish? Two things, first up, I picked up a crochet hook for the first time in . . . let's just say it has been a very LONG time . . . and went yarn shopping. Look, it's been many many many years and I'm quite sure when I was crocheting before the yarn I bought was from Target (I don't know if they even sell yarn anymore but they used to, really they did!!). Who knew there is an entire world of the most fabulous yarn out there??!!! No one informed me! Oh man, I might need a new hiding place for yarn stash ;) Anyway, I needed a truly special gift for a very special young woman who is going through some rough times. I of course have already given her a quilt and I needed something quicker. . . so I decided to crochet something for her (OK, I wasn't thinking about the fact that I had not crocheted in DECADES, that I was picking stitches I had never done before, that I didn't really have a pattern for the scarf. . . of course it would be quicker than a quilt. . . LOL). I made her an infinity scarf and a slouchy beanie! Look at me! HA I had never even made a hat in my entire very short previous crochet career! Here is the lame part of telling you about this now. . . I don't have a picture of it. I am waiting for my niece to send me a picture of her modeling her new scarf and beanie. She loved it by the way :) "It's so me!" were her words. This makes me happy, nailed it :D I will tell you all about this little adventure as soon as I get the picture. Oh, and introduce you to my niece :)

What is the second? I have been obsessed lately with two things. Having a cutting table that would also give me some storage so I can actually see my industrial sewing machine AND having a SUPER SIZED ironing board. . . disguised as a wonderful fabric storage unit. Easy peasy right? . . . well, not so much. I looked, and looked and looked (there are more looks in there but you get the idea) Bing images and Google images until I was seeing ironing boards and cutting tables in my sleep. I was going to buy a cutting table. . . man, have you seen the prices on those suckers?? OUCH! Can I spend that on a cutting table? Yeah, but I guess I have a little of my dad in me. . . I'm a tight wad it turns out LOL As for ironing boards - I was finding NOTHING like what I wanted. Major bummer! Enough talk, Here is what my studio (living room) looked like prior to my finishes:

Yes, yes that is an industrial sewing machine hiding under batting, blocks, quilting samples, starch, thread, pins. . . oh, there's more there, I'll spare you the details ;)

Side view. Yes, that is the MM challenge quilt. . . sitting there . . . not being quilted :)
There is an end table under there. . . really ;) This is part of my former fabric storage solution. . . I won't even show you my magic cedar chest of fabric. . . A big old mess is not even close to describing what is in there! To be honest, I have no idea what is in there!! That is all about to change!!

Isn't that so sad? You can't even tell that is a beautiful industrial sewing machine under all of that . . . STUFF! Here is my studio with my new cutting table and ironing board/fabric storage :)

That my friends is an ironing board table!! :D This is just the fabric I have on comic boards. . . there's a lot more to add but you get the idea :) I put one of the cube sets directly behind so I have a set of longer cubes. Works well for rulers. Might work well for bolts of background fabric.... did she just say bolts??? hehe
In LOVE! :)

From the side. Lighting not so good but SO excited about this cutting table!!! :) LOOK! See the industrial sitting there ready to be plugged in and used?!!

YAY, wide enough to handle large amounts of fabric!!
I am in LOVE with the fabric I used for the ironing table! :) The colors are perfect for rest of the house! It is Flirtation by Northcott. I don't know if it is available anymore. I used some in a quilt, loved it so much I bought two more yards on close out - bonus, using stash AND got the fabric for a song! And quite honestly, forgot I even had it :)

Both pieces are made from ClosetMaid pieces (three of the same pieces for each of them) on the bottom and an IKEA table top (yes, they sell just the table top!!) for the tops of both of them. I read all kinds of DIY stuff about Home Depot and buy this and that and I thought - yeah, no. not. doing. that. Then I went to IKEA and I saw these table tops. . . hmmmmmmmmmmmm note to self :) I did not find cabinets or cubes that I liked (read, got sick of walking in circles and getting lost) at IKEA and I went home with a nagging hmmm about those table tops. I went online. . . again. And success! :) If you are interested in the model numbers or more info, drop me a line or leave a comment. I will admit that the ironing table is tall. I might have to wear high heels to iron grin BUT I wanted storage and I wanted it tall enough that longer pieces of fabric were hanging around on the floor. I think this is a combo that will work. AND I was noticing yesterday, it is the perfect height for my husband to iron!! ;) 

I'm going to end this post - it's long enough and I have about three other posts that need to be written. . . not today - there is fabric waiting to be put on comic boards :) BUT, coming soon - I bought some AWESOME books last week - I can't wait to share my reviews with you!

Linking up with Finish it up Friday and Design Wall Monday.

Until next time, keep on quilting!!
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100+ Post Celebration Giveaway!

Hello, hello! BABA BOOEY!!! :) Howard Stern fans will get it. My secret is out, I listen to Howard every morning. If you haven't heard him of late, you might want to give it a listen. He has matured. A LOT. And he does the best interviews ever. Anyway, I digress.

I have reached the over 100 post milestone! In honor of that milestone, I am doing a giveaway :) What lovelies can you win? Well, if you read my blog regularly, you know I finished my Michael Miller Challenge quilt. Guess what came in the mail two days after I finished the top? Yup, the fat eighth bundle of Cotton Couture Pastels to be used in the quilt. We all know from my post about this quilt that I'm not a pastel fan. But I know many of you are :) So I'm giving away the bundle to one lucky person! Here is a picture (not my picture, a picture from MM) of what you could win:

Eight fat eights of pastel goodness :) And I am organizing fabric today, if you win, you might just get a little extra surprise in your package!

No rules, just leave me a comment, make sure I can get in touch with you if you win. I'll keep this open until midnight, Wednesday, Oct. 1. So leave me a comment, any comment will do, tell me what you would do with this bundle, just say hi, whatever you like :) No need to be a follower, but hey, if you want to sign on, you are more than welcome to join the party! You can find the Bloglovin' button on my sidebar or at the end of this post, Feedly button, Google Friend Connect and follow by email option are all on the sidebar. 

Oh, and international entries are welcome - I LOVE my international blogging buddies :) 

Linking up with Finish it up Friday, Design Wall Monday, Let's Bee Social and WIP Wednesday.

Until next time, keep on quilting!!
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Monday, September 15, 2014

Monday. . . Monday. . .

So here it is. . . Monday again. What is on my design wall? . . . Not one thing! Wha what?? No really, big blank white space. BUT. . . I finished a quilt top last week AND a quilt back. . . hey now! The blank wall looks a little better :)

Quickly, before I get into that, have you heard about the 2014 Scrap Quilt Challenge?? Button on the top on my sidebar - check it out and show off your scrap quilts! :)

So what was the finished top and why didn't I post about it? It is the top I came up with for the Cotton Couture Pastel Challenge for QuiltCon. . . MQG sent the email a little over a month ago for the challenge. I'm going to say this - it is a challenge for me as this is NOT my typical color pallet. . . I hadn't posted because I wasn't sure it was 'allowed.' Whatever, I looked, didn't see anything so I'm publishing ;)

My submission for this challenge (it has to go through the same jury process as other quilts in QuitCon so just because I'm making the quilt, doesn't mean it auto-magically gets in) came to me in stages over a couple of days. Once I started cutting, the design came together rather quickly. I decided to use the Side Kick ruler (LOVE). I did y-seams! OK, they are not difficult! The BEST video I found was Kay Wood. I thought, how can she show how to do a y-seam in 5 minutes or less??? C'mon! She did. . . and it works!! And no marking, pinning or leaving part of seams . . . well seamless.  Check it out, I'll wait! Seriously, if you have been avoiding patterns because of y-seams - give this a whirl! OK, I sound like a paid commercial. I'm just so excited about being able to do MULTIPLE (5 to be exact) y-seams and NOT ONE buckled or wrinkled!! MHWAA Thank You, Kay!!

OK, the top. Here it is in stages. The last one is the finished top with some quilting lines drawn in . . . looks good on the picture but I'm not sure it is going to work on the quilt. . . I have it basted and will start quilting it today and make the decision.  Here we go:
OK, this isn't looking too bad. . . but. . . how the heck am I going to sew it together?? LOL
Looks pretty good, not in love with it. . . how can I figure out how to sew it together with NO y-seams.... Me and my bright ideas. . . ;)
YAY, Y-seam was PAINLESS!! It is located where the green star border starts on the bottom right of the lowest top star arm (that's confusing huh? extra points for following that!! HA)

Could not take it. . . I had lighter gray (Fog) for the background but ordered Clay. . . needed a little darkening up for my taste, that works :)
Walking foot or FMQ with rulers. . . hmmmm. . . :)
The back, using the Fog solid I had bought for the front - I think going darker for the front was the right choice.
The rules are, front ALL Michael Miller Cotton Couture solids with the main focus on the pastels (which were predetermined) and the back an binding can be print/solid but must be Michael Miller. I'm not sure how I am going to bind this. I'm thinking maybe the Clay. I have enough. Or maybe one of MM's striped fabrics (I have more in my stash). . . maybe a scrappy border using what is left of the solids. . . I'm not sure, I have time and I have all of the options right here in my possession so I don't have to wait :)

OK, this post is longer than I intended and I have to get to the store (grocery, quilt shop isn't open yet! LOL) and then I have to go to the LQS. . . thread for the star part of the quilt needs to be figured out and purchased.

HEY - if you are looking for quilting books - Connecting Threads is having a sale! 40% off!!! And that's off ALL books while they last - all the latest stuff is there. Go ahead, check it out! My books are on the way :D I'm not connected with Connecting Threads in any way - this is a great deal and I thought I would pass it on. I may have some things to say about quilting books later this week - again, my unsolicited honest opinion about the books I purchased with my husband's hard earned money. . . ;)

Linking up with DWM at Patchwork Times, Linky Tuesday at Freemotion by the River and Fabric Tuesday at Quilt Story, Let's Bee Social at Sew Fresh Quilts and WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced.

Until next time, keep on quilting!!
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Sunday, September 7, 2014

Metallic Thread and the Making of The Family Tree Quilt

When I decided to use metallic thread in the Family Tree quilt, I thought I must be crazy to sign up for such frustration! I did a little research before starting which, in the end, saved me from some more gray hair. Really, the right set up and knowing the ins and outs of purchasing the correct thread will make your life SO much easier!! Here are some tips that made my first foray into metallic pretty painless and wanting to do more! Hopefully it will have you looking for that spool of metallic thread you bought eons ago but never used ;)

1. Watch these two short Youtube videos put out by Superior Threads. Superior Bob (that's what I call him, LOVE this man!) gives some great tips on what to look for when buying metallic thread and tips on sewing with metallic thread. And of course he throws in a few laughs along the way :) Part 1 and Part 2. I am not compensated by or connected to Superior Threads, I am a fan however of their threads. Just wanted to make that clear. :)

2. Set up of tension is key! Bob talks about tension and on the Superior metallic thread spools it says to set tension at 1 and also recommends using a top stitch 90/14 needle. I was dubious  about the tension and I am a believer in trying it out on a practice piece to get it right. Turns out that 1 is exactly what my machine liked. I still think it is important to test in on your machine - machines are all different have have different preferences for how they want to be treated! It will be very obvious when you have hit the sweet spot for tension - your sewing line will look MUCH more metallic.

3. What I found quite by accident is, setting up how the thread is feeding off the spool is key too! Initially I had the spool set on the holder and the thread was feeding UP from the spool. When I was half way through the quilt (yeah, I know, why couldn't that have happened sooner??), the thread had slipped off the top thread holder and was feeding directly off the spool. Before this happened, I was experiencing some thread breakage and had to tap the thread coming off the spool as it was 'catching' and not feeding smoothly. Once I had the right set up, I had not one thread break! Make sure the thread is feeding directly off the spool - not off of the top of spool. If you have a machine that has the spool laying down (mine does have that option) this is not going to work. Typically these machines also have a spot where you can put in a post and set your spool upright, using that feature with metallic thread will make your life MUCH easier! Here are pictures to hopefully make that clearer :)

4.  Bob mentions this in the video and I think it deserves a repeat, use a stronger thread in the bobbin. If the project requires metallic thread in the bobbin, go slow. I used Isocord which is a poly thread in my bobbin. Honestly, it was chosen because those were the spools in my stash that matched the top threads. It worked well but probably not any better than a cotton thread would have.

5. I definitely had to quilt slower than I normally would. I tend to like to quilt at a higher speed and it was not possible even with the poly thread in the bobbin. It wasn't extremely slow, I'd say it was probably about at the medium speed of my machine. I tend to quilt more at the highest speed of the machine ;)

And here is my quilt all washed (I was nervous about washing too but had to due to marking and it came through the wash beautifully!) and blocked.

There are a little more than two 500 yd. spools of metallic thread in the quilt. I think I have conquered my fear of metallic thread!
I used my machine's monograms to put this on the binding. I went REALLY slow and had no issues... Isn't that sparkle cool?? :)

Because I didn't cover this in my first post about the quilt, I wanted to also mention some other construction related items about the quilt. I used a double batting, wool and 100% cotton. I spray basted AND pinned before quilting. . . I wasn't taking any chances! haha 

The quilt finished around 36" x 34". I started with a piece that was 36" by WOF.

I machine bound the binding to the front. I wanted it framed in the metallic thread and figured the quilt would NEVER get done if I attempted such a thing by hand ;) 

I hand stitched a label on the back AND a hanging sleeve! Both are a first for me as I typically put my version of a 'label' on the binding and I've never had a reason to do a quilting sleeve before this quilt. I'm pretty sure that it took longer than it should have but looked pretty good for a first try. 

What would I do different? There are a few things I would do differently, if I were to do this quilt over (which is NOT going to happen LOL). I would quilt the branches less densely throughout. I don't think the branches for the kids needed to be as dark as they are. I was concerned about the names showing up but I don't think that would have been an issue. 

I was trying to maintain a balance in the tree even though the left side of the family has been more prolific than the right (only because that is the 'OLD' side of the tree LOL). I chose to make the grands branches thicker and darker on the right side to achieve some kind of balance. I would probably do the branches as thick but again, probably a little less dense quilting around the names.

The last thing I would have done was set the names coming off the trunk a little further away to enable a little more definition in the branches. This isn't a huge deal, but I think it would look better. 

I had A LOT of people ask me if I would make one for their family and/or say I should make them to sell. My response? . . . You probably can't afford it HA! Material cost is not much for the quilt, under $50.00 but the time. . . oh the time. I figure about 40 hours start to finish. Would the fictional next one take less time? Definitely. And it would depend on the size of the family. I still don't think people understand the amount of time it takes to do something like this. One of my mom's friends who does a good amount of piecing but not a lot of quilting, guessed 6 hours for quilting. . . ummm, no.

One more thing, I was a little concerned about how the metallic thread would come through the wash. It did fine, I used the very slow, intermittent agitation, slow spin and did not put it in the dryer.

If you decide you must make one for your family and you have questions that I may not have answered, email me or leave a comment - I'd be more than happy to share with you :) 

Linking up with Design Wall Monday, Linky Tuesday, Fabric Tuesday, Let's Bee Social, WIP Wednesday and Finish It Up Friday. Check out the parties for some fabulous inspiration and join the fun!

Until Next time, keep on quilting!
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Family Tree Quilt

I have been wanting to publish this post for almost a month! This is the super secret project I have been working on which pretty much delayed all posting and all other sewing activity in late July and the first part of August. Mid July I realized that my parents would be celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary. I texted my sister and said hello, did you remember this and are we doing anything (OF COURSE we are!). She then texted all the sibs and a party was born. Then on a whim (Oh, those whims always get me in trouble! LOL) I thought, wouldn't it be cool to have a quilted family tree? . . . and I started searching. . . . and searching . . . and searching. . . The only quilted family trees I could find were AAAK-plique (new quilting term stolen from Sandra). I have never done it and quite honestly, it scares me :) Then I saw a very simply drawn family tree (on paper, not quilted) wherein the trunk and branches were simply names written in script. No leaves, no fillers, just the names. It looked SOOO cool! Inspiration. I wondered how I would do just a simple script writing and then started playing on paper. And searching the web for a font. I knew I wouldn't be doing script but still did not have a clear picture of how this was going to turn out.

Then I transferred the concept that I had on paper to fabric.

The fabric has embossed diamonds, the 60th wedding anniversary is known as the diamond anniversary. I had to look it up, so I thought I'd share that little tidbit ;)
And then I sandwiched the fabric (36"x38"), took a really deep breath and started quilting. . . I used metallic thread on the front. I have written an entire post just on using metallic thread - it is not scary I promise :) Some of you may have read a part of this post over at Lorna's blog. I have expanded the information and added a little more about my metallic experience in this post.

Whew, got all the names outlined. . . now what????
It is at this point I realize that having a plan for the rest of the design probably would have been a good idea. . . At some point while I was quilting the names I decided I was going to attempt to actually make a trunk and branches. . . . and started with the main trunk.
Oh yeah, going with that :) Making the trunk look like a tree wasn't quite as difficult as I had imagined and it didn't take quite as long as I had imagined to do it - double bonus!
OK, plan is fully developing now! Branches. . . and leaves as a filler. . . lots of leaves. I did the kids in dark green, grands in a shade lighter green and great grands in a slightly lighter green than the grands. Started with the branches on the right side, did all of them to the top branch and then filled in the leaves - OMG the leaves. . . I was seeing leaves in my sleep! I transitioned the color of the leaves from the color I used for the kids to the color for the grands and finally to the color for the great grands. I was making progress and was satisfied with where it was going :)
Half way there!!
I'm glad I decided to do one entire side and then tackle the other side - gave me a break from the leaves :) And here is the finished product!
It might be awhile before I quilt leaves on a quilt again ;) Picture taken by my friend Loretta.
I added the Happy Anniversary message to the binding and yes, I did a label which included a statement "Current as of September 1, 2014 - no, I won't be adding more great grands to the quilt and there will be more, one on the way actually. I was asked the question on more than one occasion, that's why I put the message on the back ;) Picture taken by my friend Loretta.

The label. I wasn't impressed by the pens that are 'supposed' to be used on fabric. It seemed like it was running out of ink from the very beginning. Picture taken by my friend Loretta :)
We had the quilt hanging on the shop door where the party was held. When my mom came in she looked at it, didn't say much and moved on. . . I don't even have words to express my feeling. I texted my husband "I don't think mom was impressed" and got this text back "Of course she was... tho probably the first time she has seen it plotted out like that and is a bit overwhelmed. "Lord, what have I done?" OK, I was laughing so hard and realized he might just be right and I might need to get over myself! Dad had not noticed it when he walked into the party. After eating (LOTS), it was time for gifts and pictures. Mom took dad over to show him the quilt:
I think he's in shock too! LOL This picture was taken after he had closed his mouth, which had been hanging open, a little! :)

Getting a closer look at the mark they have left on the world :)
Yup, I think they like it :)
And, in my last post, I said I might actually post a picture of myself. . . gulp ;) The picture below is not so bad so I'm going to do it LOL The picture taking session included mom and dad with all the grands and the one great grand that was there at picture taking time, mom and dad with their kids and spouses, in attendance, and then each of the kids took pictures with mom and dad with their kids. Here's the picture of me and Cally (my husband was not able to make the trip with me) with the happy couple ;)
OK, that wasn't so painful ;)
It was an awesome week with lots of family time and time spent with my high school friends that still live in the area. Several of my best girlfriends still live there and my constant childhood side kick (she grew up on a farm very close to ours and had 3 brothers and no sisters) was in town visiting her father for several days. She (Loretta) is the friend that took the pictures of the quilt on the grass. She is an amazing photographer! It was great to see everyone again and we had a wonderful time. . . late nights, lots of laughs and probably too many adult beverages ;)

If you are curious about using metallic thread, check out my post here or for a shorter version, Lorna's post on fabric and thread here.

Linking up with Design Wall Monday, Linky Tuesday, Fabric Tuesday, Let's Bee Social, NTT and Finish It Up Friday. Check out the parties for lots of inspiration!

Until next time, keep on quilting!
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Friday, September 5, 2014

I'm Back and I have a finish!!

Hello! I feel like I have been gone forever (in more ways than one)! It's always good to be home :) The trip back to see my parents was great, all went well. Today I have a finish, not of the super secret project I have been working on which was for their 60th wedding anniversary. . . that is going to take a little time to write. No, I'm not so organized that I wrote the post and had it waiting patiently for me to hit publish ;) BUT here's a look at what the super secret project was, a full post to come over the weekend. 

You may have seen this quilt on Lorna's blog Sew Fresh Quilts on her post about thread.
OK, on to the finish! Yes, Vera, I sewed while on vacation :) My daughter has been wanting to learn how to make quilts. I have been wanting to teach her but she lives 1,800 miles away. . . this makes teaching a little difficult. SO, I decided in the week we spent together, we could put together a simple quilt so she could decide whether or not she liked it! We hit a quilt shop (I just hated that part ;) haha) and she picked out all of the fabric herself. Girl has some awesome taste! She picked a fat eighth bundle (8 pieces) of Kaffe Fasset and a fat eighth bundle (8 pieces) of pink and purple solids (I think they were Moda Bella Solids) and a batik jelly roll (sorry. . . I didn't even get a chance to take a picture of them before she tore them apart. . . She was excited!). On the way to Grandma's house, she planned her quilt taking meticulous notes of color placement. We did not use a pattern, in typical fashion, I was flying by the seat of my pants! We walked in the door and she asked her grandma to set up the sewing machine and she started sewing :) We quickly decided some practice sewing was in order and it just so happened that grandma has a little outrageous stash. She did about two hours of practicing straight lines and we set her loose on putting the blocks together. I did some sewing on it, but she did the blocks herself (only one had to be disassembled because it was an inch shorter than the rest. . . not bad for a first quilt). My mom may have sewed some of the blocks together, I sewed the top together, my sister-in-law has a long arm and quilted it (thanks, Mitzy, you did an AWESOME job!) and I sewed the binding on to create one awesomely colorful finish:

Mitzy put Cally's name in the pink solid block :)

She is vertically challenged (might be a little like her mother LOL) and this is as much of the quilt as we could get with her on her tip toes and all stretched out :)

I'd say that's a pretty proud young lady :) Her mom might have been beaming too ;)
She did a great job, don't you think?? So here's a super easy way to make a 67" x 67" quilt with very little waste and NO scraps:

16 fat eighths and one 40 strip jelly roll (a 42 strip jelly roll would provide the added extra needed for the binding).

Cut the jelly roll strips in half and sew five onto each of the 16 fat eights. Trim the blocks to 17.25" (if you had an accurate 1/4 seam throughout the blocks could likely be trimmed to 18" square easily), sew together the blocks (the options for arranging are many, play to your hearts content). Use the trimmed fabric from the 22" side of the block for binding (obviously will need to be trimmed to 2.5" or 2.25") and voila! Finished quilt and no scraps and no waste! :) OK, the fact that Mitzy has a long arm and lives less than a mile away might have made the finish quicker ;) It actually took me longer to sew on the binding than it took her to quilt the quilt! haha

Because she had to work Tuesday, I took Cally back a day before I came back home. The weather was ominous all the way to meet her dad. It hailed and rained the minute we hit the parking lot where we met! I was soaking wet after being hit by about three half gallon sized rain drops! Then came the hail. We said our goodbyes and I started back. I got one mile from where all the weather was and the pavement was dry!! And I got to enjoy this:

Yes I was driving and yes those are bug splats on the windshield :)

Pictures do not do it justice of course but it truly was beautiful and I was able to enjoy it most of the way back to my parent's house.
I'll be back soon to share with you the pictures of the family tree quilt and my parent's reaction. There might even be a picture of me. . . maybe ;) 

Linking up with Crazy Mom Quilts for Finish It Up Friday. If you haven't checked it out, there is a TON of inspiration both on Amanda Jean's blog and the links!

Until next time, keep on quilting!!
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