bullet_journal

Sewing Mojo Minis Craftsy Class Review

 

Sewing Mojo Minis Craftsy Class Review at kristinesser.com
Photo from Craftsy.com

(This post  contains affiliate links. This means that if you purchase through this link, I will get a tiny commission, at no additional charge to you. Rest assured, I only link to products/classes that I love!  My disclosure policy can be found here.)

I’m a bit of an uptight quilter. There, I said it.  I can get pretty uptight about perfect points and I am totally obsessive about my scant 1/4″ seam allowance. In order to sort of balance this, I’ve been thinking a lot about improv quilting. Only thinking though, not really doing anything about it. I know that I need to carve more time out to just play at the sewing machine, but I just wasn’t making space to actually do it.

Then a new Craftsy class launched from the adorable Suzy from Suzy Quilts. It’s called Fabric Play: Sewing Mojo Minis and it was just what I need to loosen up a bit.  If you don’t know Suzy, she is a fabulous quilt designer with a big personality. And that personality really shines through in this class–she seems completely at ease in front of the camera, and is a natural teacher.

The class features four projects, which build on each other. I actually had to laugh at myself after my first attempt of sewing some wonky strips. At first, my scale was totally off, which Suzy had warned me about, but of course I ignored that warning. So, I tried again after doing a quick sketch, to get the scale right. Guys, I totally felt like I was sewing all wonky–but alas, I was not. I literally laughed when I was done with this. I thought about trying again, and maybe, I don’t know, have a glass of wine first to loosen up some more. But I was anxious to move on, so I did.

Sewing Mojo Minis Craftsy Class Review at kristinesser.com

Log cabins are fun, so I was looking forward to this asymmetrical improv version. I got a little wonkier on this one and was pretty pleased with how it came out. But obviously, I still had some loosening up to do.

Sewing Mojo Minis Craftsy Class Review at kristinesser.com

Next up–curves! For the third mini I got out of my previous color palette, because I bought a stack of fat quarters (Boundless Modern Brights from Craftsy–what a deal! That is not an affiliate link–it really is a just a great deal.) There were lots of colors that are out of my wheelhouse here, so it was fun to experiment. I played around with lots of arrangements for this one. It came out a little Dr. Suess-y but I still love it.

Boundless solids bundle kristinesser.com

Sewing Mojo Minis Craftsy Class Review at kristinesser.com

Sewing Mojo Minis Craftsy Class Review at kristinesser.com

Sewing Mojo Minis Craftsy Class Review at kristinesser.com

Sewing Mojo Minis Craftsy Class Review at kristinesser.com

There is still one more mini in the class, as well as lots of inspiration for quilting and adding hand embellishments. I plan on finishing these up with some quilting and hand stitching–and am really looking forward too it. At least I know that I can sew some wonky hand stitches!

All in all, I enjoyed Fabric  Play: Sewing Mojo Minis  immensely. Suzy is a trained graphic artist, so she knows the theory behind what she’s teaching you. I feel like this class gave me some foundation knowledge that will be a jumping off point for more improv quilting in the future. And best of all, it made me carve out some unstructured play time that I had been craving.

(Full disclosure: I was given free access to the class for my honest review. All opinions are strictly my own.)

Online Fabric Patterning with Wax Resist Class
Make something that means something at Craftsy.com

bullet_journal

5 Things I’m Loving in January

Hand pieced quilt blocks at kristinesser.com

I had a couple of weeks off from work during the holidays and it was such a treat to be home with the kids with absolutely no agenda. I stayed off of social media (mostly), took lots of bubble baths, read a ridiculous number of books, went for a hike, played board games and basically checked out of real life. It was wonderful.

Now I’m on the other side of it and expected to hit the ground running, and frankly, I’m still just not quite ready. I’ve started a new morning routine, and I keep making lists–but the possibilities just seem so endless. So while I contemplate my plans for 2018, here are a few things that I’m loving right now and need no more thought.

  1. The Crown. Though I enjoyed season 1, I felt like I was the only person on earth that didn’t LOVE it. And the first episode of season 2 is a bit of a slow starter. But now that I’m past that–I am loving this season. Every episode I end up googling some person or event to find out if it really happened. And it turns out that the show is pretty accurate. This is definitely the most fun way to learn history. And it doesn’t hurt that I can hand sew and knit while I watch.
  2. The Inspector Gamache book series by Louise Penny. Here is another example of a series that I had heard good things about, and I started Still Life (the first book in the series) a couple of times before I actually finished the whole book. But this is a series that just keeps getting better. I flew through six books in the series during my two weeks off. I literally sat on the couch for hours on end, only to get up to go to the library to get then next book. A few details–these are extremely well-written mystery novels that take place in Quebec. I’m a sucker for any book that has a bit of French in it, but in general I just want to crawl inside these books and live in the world that Louise Penny has created (except for the murder part). I’m craving croissants and cafe au lait, and plotting a vacation in Quebec.
  3. My Roomba (robotic vacuum), whom we call Mr. Bates. When we first got hardwood floors a few years ago, we bought a Roomba to keep from having to sweep all the time. Mr. Bates performed quite well, until his battery died and I forgot all about him. Well, because of having literally almost nothing to do for two weeks (except read mystery novels), I found the bandwidth to order and install a new battery. Mr. Bates is back in business and keeping our floors crumb and pet hair free and it makes me ridiculously happy.
  4. Small changes. I don’t know about you, but when the new year rolls around, I tend to try to overhaul all the things that aren’t working perfectly in my life. All at the same time. I’m kind of an all or nothing girl that way. But I know that this doesn’t actually work very well. So, this year, I’m starting small. Small changes. I started a yoga routine (see #5 below), but instead of the whole video, I’m just doing the firs 10-15 minutes. I’m working on deep cleaning my house, but just 15 minutes a day. It’s never going to be “finished”, so why kill myself to do a whole room at a time? This is the year that I will accomplish big things, one small step at a time.
  5. Yoga with Adriene. I used to do yoga. At an actual studio. And I miss it. There is just something about a great yoga session, or even just a really good stretch, where you feel muscles moving and relaxing and getting all tingly. Ah, I love it. So, I’m making space in my morning routine to do just a little bit each morning. Nothing too ambitious–just enough to remind myself why I love it and see where it grows from there.

So, that’s it, just a few things that are working for me right now. What’s working for you?

bullet_journal

The simplest dishtowel hack

(This post  contains affiliate links. This means that if you purchase through this link, I will get a tiny commission, at no additional charge to you. Rest assured, I only link to products that I love!  My disclosure policy can be found here.)

How to add hanger tabs to dishtowels. kristinesser.com

I’m almost embarrassed to write this post, but since I have found it so helpful, I’m hoping that someone out there will too.

I used to have this issue with the dishtowel in my kitchen. It always seemed to be this rumpled, soggy mess carelessly tossed on the counter, somewhere close to the sink. I felt like I was forever refolding it and neatly setting it next to the sink, only to find it on the floor a few minutes later. Hanging it over the handle on the dishwasher or oven never really worked for me. If I put it on the dishwasher, it touched the floor whenever I loaded the dishwasher, and I have stainless steel appliances, so I didn’t want to hang on the oven door where it was going to leave spots. (First world problems, I am well aware!)

But then I bought a cheap set of Christmas dishtowels and lo and behold they had a little loop in the corner! (Like the center towel above.) I was able to slip it over the knob of my cabinet right next to the sink, and there it hung in all it’s glory–always in the same place, with enough air circulation that it drys out pretty well, and…well let’s just say it made me very happy! I will say that the towel in this part of the kitchen is mostly for just drying hands. I love absorbent bar mop towels for actually drying dishes, but I digress.

So, I picked up some white twill tape at Joann’s and proceeded to sew loops onto every dishtowel in the house. That was a few years ago, and it has worked splendidly.

Then I picked up the adorable dishtowels above at Trader Joe’s about six months ago (similiar ones here). But I never used them, because–no loops! So I sat down to remedy this a few nights ago and thought I’d share a bit with you. It’s super simple and it took me like 5 minutes.

When I was digging through my basket to find the twill tape, I came across some cuter trim that I decided to use on two of the towels. I actually sewed the tab on three different ways, to see if I have a preference. (It turns out I don’t.)

Supplies
  • Dishtowels
  • Twill tape or decorative trim

How to add hanger tabs to dishtowels. kristinesser.com

  1. Cut the twill tape to about 5″.

How to add hanger tabs to dishtowels. kristinesser.com

2. For a looped tab, fold the twill tape in half and sew to one corner, or halfway along one side, on the wrong side of the towel.

How to add hanger tabs to dishtowels. kristinesser.com

3. For another option, sew corner to corner on the wrong side of the towel. Trim excess twill tape.

How to add hanger tabs to dishtowels. kristinesser.com

How to add hanger tabs to dishtowels. kristinesser.com

How to add hanger tabs to dishtowels. kristinesser.com

That’s it! Let me know if this mundane issue has plagued you and if you find this a useful little homemaking hack.

bullet_journal

My diamond quilt in the new issue of Love Patchwork & Quilting

Diamond quilt by Kristin Esser. kristinesser.com

The new issue of Love Patchwork & Quilting just came out and I’m thrilled to share that I have a quilt in it! It is called “Let the Light In” because the whole center of it is full of low volume prints–which rarely get a chance to shine! It was an easy and fun quilt to make, using the Bloc Loc Triangle in a Square ruler and a couple of layer cakes of Sundrops by Corey Yoder,

I quilted it using a combination of walking foot (in the background) and free-motion quilting (in the print areas). This color palette is really outside my norm, but I was so drawn to it! I love the mix of orange, peaches, yellows, and grays. Sewing it up would be a great remedy to the winter blues, and it could be done just in time for spring.

Love the diamond quilt on the cover

It even got a little cover mention!

bullet_journal

Sew Illustrated Giveaway

Minki Kim and I are giving away a signed copy of Sew Illustrated over on Instagram–so pop on over to enter, if you haven’t already (Giveaway ends on December 10). We also spent a fun afternoon putting this little video together.

Do you agree? Is the gift really in the creating? Let me know in the comments.

bullet_journal

Advent Calendar for Moms

Advent Calendar for Moms--such a fun idea!

I came across this fabulous idea online the other day. An advent calendar for introverted moms. Now, I’m not truly an introvert (though I seem to be inching that direction more and more each year), but this is really a self-care advent calendar.

Advent Calendar for Moms--such a fun idea!

I find this time of year so overwhelming. So having a little built-in downtime seems just about right. Here are a few examples of activities that you might pull from this:

  • Make your favorite holiday drink and sit down and drink it without multi-tasking
  • Light a candle, put on your favorite Christmas music, and sit down to draw or journal for a few minutes
  • Free choice: Do whatever you want!

Advent Calendar for Moms--such a fun idea!

I don’t want to give too much of it away, but you get the idea. You can download it here. Cut them out and put them in something festive. And most importantly, take 15 minutes each day to pull one out and slow down a bit. And if you miss a day? No worries! There’s always tomorrow.

Advent Calendar for Moms--such a fun idea!

 

bullet_journal

I am a guest on American Patchwork & Quilting podcast!


(Updated on December 4: You can listen to the podcast here)

Well, kick that one off the bucket list! I was (surprised) and honored to be a guest on the American Patchwork & Quilting podcast, hosted by the lovely Pat Sloan. It airs next Monday, on December 4. You can click the image above or listen here.

I was visiting my daughter at college a few months ago, and we had been walked off our feet all afternoon when we sat down in this funky little coffee house in La Jolla, CA. As I settled in with my latte, I checked my phone and there it was: a message from Pat Sloan! I thought that for sure it was some mistake, like it wasn’t really THAT Pat Sloan, or that she just wanted to know how to get in touch with Minki. But lo and behold, she actually did want to talk to me and asked me to be a guest on her podcast. Honestly, it took me a day to even answer the email, I was so shocked.

But of course, I said yes (was there any doubt?) And it was so much fun! Pat is funny and kind, and it’s just like chatting about quilting with a good friend over coffee. I probably talked a mile a minute (which I do in real life anyway)–but I’m so happy that it airs next week, and I get to share it with you.

I’d love it if you added it to your podcast catcher and gave it a listen! (Don’t worry, I’ll remind you on Monday too.)

 

bullet_journal

Modern Marks Blog Hop + Giveaway!

(This post  contains affiliate links. This means that if you purchase through this link, I will get a tiny commission, at no additional charge to you. Rest assured, I only link to products that I love!  My disclosure policy can be found here.)

Modern Marks fabric kristinesser.com

Welcome to my stop on the Modern Marks blog hop! If you are new here, feel free to have a look around!

This fabulous line is by Christa Watson and manufactured by Benartex. Working with this line was pure joy and fun. The colors are so rich and saturated and there is such a big selection of blues, which are my favorite. But there are also some really fun colors that are a little outside my wheelhouse–like lime greens and orange, so it was fun to expand my horizons. This was my first time sewing with Benartex fabrics and the quality is absolutely first-rate. The fabric is beautifully soft, with minimal fraying.

Modern Marks fabric kristinesser.com

The quilt I chose to make was Dot ‘n Dash from Christa’s book Piece and Quilt with Precuts. It is a “pinwheel” (aka jellyroll or 2.5″ strip roll) friendly quilt, for both the main and background fabrics. I used a fun low volume pinwheel as my background fabric, and I love the effect. I cut the 2.5″ strips from yardage, but it would be so fast to just use a pinwheel!

Modern Marks fabric kristinesser.com

Piece and Quilt with Precuts (kristinesser.com)

These fabrics absolutely POP and are so perfect for modern quilts.

Dot n Dash quilt by Christa Watson at kristinesser.com

 

And I especially love this larger-scale “mash up” print for the quilt back. It comes in several colorways–so it’s perfect for so many projects.

Modern Marks fabric by Christa Watson

Another thing that I love about this line is there is a great variety of focus fabrics, small and medium scale prints, and blenders. I’ve already pulled several of these prints for new projects that I’m working on–they have just the perfect amount of punch.

Dot n Dash Quilt | krsitinesser.com

I was able to work in several quilting motifs that I have learned from Christa’s book and the leftover strips were perfect for a scrappy binding.

Jelly roll quilts | kristinesser.com

scrappy quilts | kristinesser.com

I’m already plotting my next project for this line–it may be a liberated wonky star quilt. The yellows, lime greens, and oranges are just begging to twinkle.

I blogged about this fabric and quilt in more detail here,  here, and here. To find a shop to buy some Modern Marks of your own, check here.

And now for the giveaway! I know that you want to get your hands on this fantastic line–and Benartex has graciously offered to giveaway a bundle of 8-10 Modern Marks fabrics on each stop on the blog tour!(US residents only please.) You can enter my giveaway below, but make sure to hit every stop on the tour!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Visit all the stops on our Modern Marks blog hop, including our host, the Benartex blog, Sew in Love {with Fabric}, where there is a fabulous interview with our favorite fabric designer, Christa Watson
Monday
Hollyanne @String & Story
 
Tuesday
 
Wednesday
Hilary @Aurifil
 
Thursday
 
Friday
Stephanie @Modern Sewciety

 

bullet_journal

Juki TL-2200QVP Mini Review

I’ve had my Juki TL-2200 QVP Mini for about six months now and thought it was time for a review. I get a lot of questions about this machine and I’m hoping that this post will answer them all for you!

Juki TL-220QVP MiniMy number one priority for a new  sewing machine was that it would give me some extra space for quilting–both free motion and walking foot. I have a Babylock for piecing, but I just don’t enjoy cramming a quilt through that small throat space when it comes to the actual quilting part of making a quilt.

quilting with a Juki

After much research and in-person testing, I ultimately decided on the Juki TL-2200 QVP Mini. It is the newer version of the ever popular, cult-classic Juki TL-2010Q. It is basically the same machine except that it comes with an extra open-toe quilting foot, and an improved walking foot (which was a common complaint about the TL-2010Q model), and a few other feet that were less important to me as a quilter. And it has a fancier paint job. Since both these feet were things I wanted anyway, the $200 price difference between the two machines seemed justified. I paid $1200 for the 2200–with full warranty and support from the dealer. This turned out to be more important than I realized.

Before I made my decision, I put the Babylock Jazz, Juki TL-2010Q, and the Juki TL-2200 QVP through their paces. I brought quilt sandwiches, quilting gloves, and patchwork pieces with me to the shop. Though I wanted so much to love it–since it has such a huge throat space–I had to rule out the Babylock Jazz because it was missing some crucial features for me: a needle down setting, and a thread cutter. It’s just so hard to go back after you get used to those features. I predict Babylock will add those features in the next model of that machine.

Then it was down to the two Juki’s. I had to figure out whether or not the additional feet were worth the extra $200 (which is about what they retail for) and ultimately I decided that they were. I also just liked the feel of that machine better on the floor of the dealer-but that could have been my imagination. The TL-2200 QVP usually goes for $1400, so they came down a bit on price for me and that helped make the decision as well. This dealer would actually sell me the TL-2010Q for the internet price of $999, but they would not handle warranty issues for that price. I would have to deal with Juki directly in Florida. It turns out that I’m really glad that I decided to go with the machine that the shop would support the warranty.

The machine comes with an extension table. It is a bit smaller than the Sew Steady extension table that I had made for my Babylock, but I really don’t mind.

Another cool thing–all the Juki TL-series machines are made to fit the Grace quilting frames–so you can actually turn it into a very afffordable longarm! I don’t have room for that now, but it is an interesting possibility for the future.

Once I got it home, threading the machine and winding the bobbin went smoothly. The manual was great, and there are plenty of YouTube videos showing how to do these things on the TL-2010Q–and it’s the same for this machine. It took a few tries to get the hang of the needle-threader, but I’ve got it figured out now. This was the most helpful video for that feature.

Ribbon candy quilting kristinesser.com

Lady of the Lake table topper at kristinesser.com

Once it was set-up, I  went straight in for free motion quilting. Since it’s a mechanical, straight stitch machine, it definitely feels different. It’s kind of like driving a new car, it takes some getting used to. The stitches are beautiful and I love all the space and visibility! There aren’t a bunch of features to talk about here–it’s a very simple machine–which I really like. It has a nice big foot petal and a knee-lift, which is another feature that I could not live without anymore.

Juki TL-2200QVP

Then I put it through it’s paces on patchwork. I put my Babylock away and started piecing my current project with it. I tried two different patchwork feet–one with the usual guide and another called a compensating foot–which has a more serious guide on it. I thought I would like the later–but I didn’t. I will try it again sometime though. I really like piecing on this machine–my only issue is the thread cutter is loud! Which reminds me–this machine has a thread cutter on the foot petal as well as on the machine! I didn’t think I would like it–but I love it! If you don’t like it, however, they give you something to put in the petal to disable that function.

Squiggles quilt kristinesser.com

Then it was on to walking foot quilting. This is a straight stitch machine–so no built-in wavy line quilting on it, but it makes beautiful walking foot stitches! I just did a hand-guided organic walking foot curves on the quilt above.  I’d heard that the walking foot was loud, but when I tried it at the store, it didn’t seem too bad. As a quilted my small project, it got louder and louder, and something definitely seem wrong. When the foot eventually got jammed, I knew I needed to take it back to the dealer.

The dealer took a look at it while I waited (which was nice–since it’s about 40 minutes away) and told me that something was off in the alignment of the machine that only became a problem with the walking foot. Sometimes these things happen–as long as between Juki and the dealer they fixed it quickly–I was fine with it. But it really made me glad that I didn’t need to deal Juki myself–it was all handled under warranty.

Now that I’ve had the machine for six months, I will tell you that I had some fits with it a few months ago–something got off with  the needle bar that was causing thread breakage–and I was on a quilt deadline–so it was frustrating. But once again, the dealer and Juki dealt with it beautifully. Since then, I have completed several quilts on it and could not love it more!

So, I admittedly had a bit of a rocky start with this machine, but all was quickly resolved and I highly recommend it. I have a feeling that I would have also been very happy with the TL-2010Q, but I do love the extra feet that the TL-2200QVP Mini came with–so I have no regrets. I’ve provided a couple quick links below for the Grace frame and the TL-2010Q, but the TL-220QVP Mini is only available from a Juki dealer. You can find the closest one to you here.


bullet_journal

Free Sew Illustrated Project :: Coasters

 

Sewing Illustration Coasters from Sew Illustrated kristinesser.com

C&T Publishing has released one of the projects from Sew Illustrated for free on their blog today. So, if you’ve been on the fence about trying sewing illustration, hop on over to check it out!