Friday, October 14, 2016

Itty Bitty Log Cabin Quilt Blocks - A New Start

I'm always snapping screenshots from my phone of quilty inspiration I see on Instagram.  Do you do that too?  They're usually pictures that inspire me because of a color palette or because it's a beautiful version of a pattern I want to make someday.  So I started an IG hashtag called #quiltyscreenshots to keep track of all of them and let the makers know they've inspired me!  You're welcome to play along too, if you're on Instagram.  Tag me @gigis_thimble if you decide to do a Scrappy Screenshots post.  Below are some pictures of solids quilts that I posted on there recently that really caught my attention.

Photo credit (using their Instagram names)
From top L to R: @claudiashearerquilts, @jeliquilts, @cabbagequilts, @bitsandbobbins, @adeeholcomb, @adeeholcomb, @tarafaughnan, @tarafaughnan

As you can probably see, the second quilt down in the right-hand column really spoke to me.  If you look close you'll notice that the maker, Tricia Royal of Bits and Bobbins had fun playing with color.  I love how she used varying shades of one color in certain areas.  It really gives it a playful "Tetris" feel!  I can't stop looking at it!

With some leftovers I recently acquired from a new "solids" pattern I'm working on, I decided to start a new project inspired by Tricia's quilt.  I decided to go small.  These blocks finish at 3.75".  Since I had a lot of strips already cut and I love paper piecing, I decided to paper piece these little babies.  Some people ask why I would paper piece something so simple?  I just like that I don't have to pre-cut anything with paper piecing!  I just grabbed my strips and my pattern and dove right in!

They whip up in no time!  And I'm having so much fun playing with color!

I have no specific plan of how big I'm going to make this quilt and in what layout I plan to put them in.  But I do know that they're fun to make and I'll try to use up most of my leftover strips!

If you want to sew-along with me, I am attaching the free Itty Bitty Log Cabin Block PDF pattern HERE.  There are two on a page!  Enjoy!

~ Amber  

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Wistful Winds Blog Tour

Good morning!
Welcome to day 8 of the Wistful Winds Blog Tour!

I am so happy for my friend, Shari Butler of Doohikey Designs.  She recently came out with another beautiful fabric line for Riley Blake Designs called, Wistful Winds.  And when she asked me to participate in the blog tour, I couldn't say no.  It's such a cute line.  Plus, Shari is so talented and has such a sweet heart!  

For my project, I decided to make my daughter a new apron.  She had outgrown her other one (she's growing up so fast I can't even take it anymore! :)  I thought I'd try out the free "Amy Apron Tutorial" by Esther from the blog Wholly Kao.  I've had it "pinned" on my Pinterest board, More Sewing, for a while now.  I love putting my "pins" to good use, don't you?

Esther's tutorial is really simple and easy to follow.

I love the little pleats around the edge of the apron!

I did tweak Esther's pattern just a tiiiiny bit.  First,  I used 3 fabrics instead of 2 (because I wanted to incorporate more of Shari's darling prints!) and second, I made two short neck ties rather than one strap that was secured on both sides.  I wanted it to be adjustable for my growing daughter.

I love the aqua stripe.  I thought it paired well with the red floral but there are lots of other great prints in Wistful Winds that I wish I could have incorporated, as well.  There are more florals, geometrics, dots and one with clouds and little girls holding flowers!  So fun!

My daughter chose the red floral and I think it was a great choice!  
She really loves how it turned out!

Thanks again to Shari for asking me to participate in the Wistful Winds Blog Tour.  I had so much fun making this apron and playing with her sweet fabrics.  Wistful Winds fabrics will be available in stores next week.

There are so many great projects being shared on the tour.  I do hope you'll go check them all out! Here's the tour schedule...

October 3rd:
Amy Sinibaldi -
Kristyne Czepuryk -
October 4th: 
Amanda Niederhauser -
Amy Smart -

October 5th: 
Meagan Taylor/Kristi Jones -
Christine Cook -

October 6th: 
Elea Lutz -
Jodie Carleton -

October 7th: 
Sedef Imer -
Jina Barney -

October 10th: 
Elizabeth Evans -
Kimberly Bourne -

October 11th: 
Jemima Flendt -
Nadra Ridgeway -
Amy Chappel -

October 12th: 
Katie Skoog -
Amber Johnson -

Tina -                

October 13th: 
Angie Wilson -
Clare Horsman -
Deanna Wall -

October 14th: 
Melissa Mortenson -
Jessica Stewart  -
Gwen Sager -
Shari Butler -

Happy quilting (and sewing)!
~ Amber

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Oliso Iron Review

Hey there.  If you're following me on Instagram (username: @gigis_thimble) you may remember I got a new iron about a month ago and was excited to try it out.  Now that I've been using it for a while I thought I'd share my thoughts with you!

So first off, it's cute right?  Us quilters like cute why aren't all irons cute? The Oliso irons come in several fun colors and range in price from $99-$170.

Also, it's a "Smart Iron" (which had me all googly eyed, I'm not gonna lie).  It's got a patented "Itouch Technology".  Let me tell you how that works...  So, you're always supposed to keep the iron in the down (flat) position - with the soleplate against the ironing board.  (That took some getting use to.  I'm so used to other kinds of irons that you have to automatically put in the upright position or you're going to scorch the heck out of your fabric!  It's pretty nice though 'cause it does save time!)  When you take your hands off the handle, the scorchgaurds lower - which lifts the iron about 1/2" off the ironing board.  So it hovers!  It's pretty cool.  When you put your hand around the handle there's a sensor that will make the scorchguards raise and then the iron lowers down and it's ready to use. 

A couple other nice features I've discovered in the last few weeks... first, the extra long cord has come in handy a few times!  I'm working on a new quilt pattern for Fall Market right now and pulled my ironing board over to my sewing table so I don't have to keep getting up and down to press my blocks (anything to save time, right?)  The Oliso's cord is a good 4' longer than my Rowenta cord.  So big thumbs up there!  And second, it stays on for 30 minutes before automatically shutting off.  Isn't it annoying when you're in the middle of a project and the automatic shut-off shuts off every 5 minutes!?!  I haven't had that problem with the Oliso and when it does shut off you simply have to touch the handle!

So the only "con" about the Oliso that I've found so far, is this:
When pressing a block with several seams, the scorchguards got caught on some of the seams or the edge of the block and kind of pushed them in the wrong direction (causing me more work because I had to then press new wrinkles out).  I wanted to compare my old Rowenta with my new Oliso to see if the Rowenta also got caught up on the seams.  Nope, it was definitely a smoother ride.  

So I can see that the scorchguards are (on one hand) a really nice feature and on the other hand, a bit of a problem.  I will keep trying to see if I can get used to them when pressing my block.  Maybe I will get better as I get more practice.

Aside from that I like the Oliso a lot.  
Do you have an Oliso and if so, what do you think about it?  
I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. 

Happy quilting!
~ Amber 

Friday, September 16, 2016

Gigi's Thimble Spring 2016 Patterns (Vintage Collection)

Hey there!  I've missed you!  Seriously!
It's been way too long.  I've been itching to get back to my blogging roots for a while now and I'm happy to finally be doing it.  But first, a few highlights from the last few months:

 - Exhibiting at the Spring 2016 International Quilt Market in Salt Lake City

 - Summer, well, Summer completely kicked my butt
- Trip to the Pacific Northwest for my 20-year High School Reunion
- Hiked Rim to Rim in the Grand Canyon with friends 

- And finally, this isn't so much of a "highlight" but it is a big deal to me: I recently put in my resignation notice at my local quilt shop.  I worked at Just Sew in Highland, UT. for 8 years and I am bummed to say good-bye.  I am, however, looking forward to finding new focus and new opportunities. 

Which brings me back to blogging!

Today I want to finally and officially introduce you to my 6 new patterns, which I call my "Vintage Collection" as they are all based off of vintage quilts.  I love the good ol' classic quilt blocks and vintage-inspired quilts and I hope you do too!

First up is Ruby.

Ruby is not for the faint of heart.  
She's made up of a bazillion half-square triangles 
(which will make you either love her or hate her by the time you're finished!)
My friend, Aniva (on Instagram as @aniva_rose) made about half of the blocks on this as I was going crazy with Market prep when I designed it!  She's amazing and I'm so thankful for sweet friends like Aniva!!!

Ruby was made up with scrappy fabrics from my stash and comes with instructions for 4 size options (throw, twin, queen and king).

Next up is Jack.

Jack combines two of my loves: 9-Patches (a classic for sure) and neutrals.  Black and white never goes out of style but I think it would be wonderful in any colorway.  There's lots of room to get creative with color on this one!  And wait, it also has straight-line quilting on it (which is another favorite of mine) so that's three!  This quilt has found a home in my family room on my husbands recliner.

Jack comes in 3 size options (throw, twin and queen) and was made with scrappy low-volume and black fabrics from my stash.

The third pattern is a little different from the rest.  
It's my Scrappy Strip Block Paper Piecing Patterns.

Each package of Scrappy Strip Block Paper Piecing Patterns comes with 5 copies of 5 different blocks (which make a nice lap size quilt when sewn together).  The size to cut your strips is printed on each strip so you can cut as you go and they were designed so you won't have any itty-bitty triangles in the corners of your blocks.  They can be used on their own to make a scrappy string quilt OR with the companion pattern, Ava (which is the 4th pattern in my Vintage Collection).

Meet Ava:

Ava was quilted by Denae Hansen who lives in American Fork, UT.  I've used Denae a couple of other times since then and she does absolutely beautiful work!  She does both hand-guided and computerized quilting.  This was hand-guided.

Ava comes in 3 size options (crib, twin and queen) and was made with mostly Katie Jump Rope fabrics by Denyse Schmidt plus a few from my stash.  The awesome check fabric on the back is by Maureen Cracknell for Art Gallery.  It was just sitting around it my stash (being awesome) and I knew it was the back for Ava.

Fifth up is Lulu.

Lulu is Jelly Roll friendly and one of the easiest patterns you'll ever make.  She comes in 2 size options (lap and twin).  My friend, Christine Cook (on Instagram as @stitchingrevival) put this together for me.  She did an awesome job and completely saved the day in all my Market prep mayhem!

And last, but not least, is Pearl.  I love Pearl.  

 One of the true classic blocks.  
She's paper pieced and curved pieced 
but really isn't as hard as it looks.

The quilting was again, done by Denae Hansen in this simple, yet beautiful cross-hatching.  I have never had this kind of cross-hatching done before but it is a new favorite for sure!  

Also, I collected some beautiful Liberty of London fabrics for this project and they were a dream to work with!

Oh, and don't worry if you've never done curved or paper piecing before, Pearl comes with 4 size options (mini, crib, twin and queen) and the mini is the perfect place to start!

 It may even add a little sunshine to your life!

Well, that's it for the Vintage Collection!  
Thanks for sticking around through the worlds longest blog post!  
I plan to be around more often so please feel free to leave a comment.  I'd love to hear what you think about my new patterns.  Also, I'm taking ideas on future blog post ideas too!

See you soon!
~ Amber

P.S.  All patterns are available in my Etsy shop! Click HERE.
Use coupon code "VINTAGECOLLECTION" for 20% of
all items through Sunday (9-18-16).

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Tax Tips for Online Sellers

Hey.  I'm Amber.  

I'm a small business owner.  I like to design quilts and work with pretty fabric.  I even like do math and write instructions here and there.  I handle emails, orders and shipping.  I teach classes on quilting techniques and write blog posts about color.  I do presentations and talk about inspiration.  

But, wait.  You want me to do taxes too?  
You want me to be organized and run reports and make spread sheets and file things with the government?!?  You've got to be kidding.  That is definitely not my wheel house.

My husband (who is a contract and license auditor) has always been really supportive of my quilting and business endeavors.  But I was really disappointed and frustrated when he told me in my first year of business that he wasn't going to do my taxes for me.  Say what!?!  For the first couple of years, every time tax season would come around we would end up not talking to each other for several days because we were both so frustrated with each other!  

"Creative people shouldn't be expected to do taxes."

That's what I use to think.

Well, I've come a long ways since 2009 and now we get through tax season just fine.

Today I want to share a few things that I've learned in the last 6 years that have helped make tax time a lot less stressful in our home.

1.  Get a business-only bank account and debit card.  This might seem obvious but I know there are some of you new entrepreneurs out there that haven't thought to do this yet.  Or maybe you think you don't have a lot of transactions right now.  Just do it.  Do it right away.  Do it the minute you file your business name and get a business ID #.  I didn't do it my first year of business and it was really hard to decipher business and personal transactions at the end of the year.  Now, I use my business debit card to track all my expenses (and I'm really strict about not using it for personal things.  It's such a headache to weed out accidental or non-accidental charges on that card down the road).  At the end of the year I download my transaction history from my bank and upload it into my excel spreadsheet!

2. Speaking of Excel, that has been great for the last few years but I was using a very basic spreadsheet and tracking system.  I finally ordered Quick Books Pro to track inventory, expenses and income - all in one place!  I can't wait to get more organized in 2016!  I got a good deal on Amazon and can't wait to get started with it! 

3.  Another thing I did early on was meet with a tax consultant, once - just to make sure my state sales tax account was set up right.  He helped me file my sales tax that first year.   He probably thought our meeting was the biggest waste of time because my income was so minimal but it really gave me peace of mind to know I was doing them right.  And, because I mostly sell wholesale and don't collect a lot of sales tax  -  he set me up for annual filing instead of quarterly.  (Which by the way, since I live in Utah - I only have to collect sales tax on retail sales from Utah residents.  And there aren't a lot of those sales, for me).  I also learned that you can file aannual return if you owe $3,000 or less in sales tax during an annual filing period.

4.  I try to keep things as simple and straight-forward as possible.  I keep all my receipts and compare them to my downloaded list of transactions.  I use Paypal when needed, Direct Deposit through Etsy, my Square Reader  for credit card processing (which also has direct deposit, inventory tracking and allows me to take payments over the phone!)  Keep receipts for everything.  Keep track of deposits (dates of and what exactly they're for - i.e. sales, travel reimbursement, payments for presentations, royalties, etc.)  

5.  Finally, knowing what can be written off and what can't be written off can be confusing and overwhelming sometimes.  I have this infographic I received recently from the US Tax Center that I thought might help when you're ready to file taxes next year.  Feel free to save it, use it and share it with other online sellers!  

For more information on filing taxes, 
click HERE to connect to the US Tax Center.

Now, like I said, I'm more of a creative person than a business person.  I know I have a long ways to go when it comes to being super savvy at taxes.  These are just a few simple tips that work for me, as a small business owner/online seller.  If you're feeling overwhelmed, just remember, there are a lot of resources out there to help you and it does get easier.  

If you have tips that work for you, please share!  
I'd love to hear them in the comment section below and I'm sure others would too!

Happy tax season!
~ Amber

Friday, March 11, 2016

How to Pick Fabrics for a Scrappy Quilt

I recently posted this photo on Instagram of a fabric pull I did for a scrappy, new quilt pattern I'm designing.  As you probably already know, I love scrappy quilts.  I love the vintagy feel they have!  I have so much fun picking out fabrics and trying new color combinations.  But I know for some of you, it can be overwhelming to pick out fabrics starting from scratch.  

I had a follower on Instagram leave me a comment after I posted the photo, saying, "I wish someone would go through this process with me...I take forever and ever to pick my fabric!  It's just all so pretty I can't decide and it feels like I waste a lot of time."

I don't want it to be a stressful or time-consuming thing for you! 

I love talking about the "whys" behind fabric selection and if you're one of those people that is overwhelmed with the fabric picking process then this post is for you!  Here are some tips that will hopefully help to make it an enjoyable process for you in the future.

Tip #1:  Figure out a basic color scheme.  Sometimes I base mine off a photo I've seen, some artwork, an article of clothing, or another quilt that I like.  Whatever.  Just pick a color scheme and start pulling fabrics (you can always eliminate some later if you want to).
As you can see (above), I wanted to use reds, blues and greens, with a tiny pop of yellow.  Note that there is no rule that says you have to have an equal number of fabrics of each color.  The little bits of yellow will be used as a little surprise here and there...a little something unexpected.

Tip #2: I think it's always nice to have a lot of different "values" of each color.  The term, "Color Value" is also known as "lightness", "tone" or a "color space's brightness".  In the photo above, I've got whites with just a little red on them, light reds and bright reds.  

Tip #3: Choose a variety of different types and sizes of prints.  On the left (above) I have some small to medium sized prints - most of which have lots of movement.  On the right, I have two fabrics that will add a nice "pop". They're also known as "zingers".  They're very graphic and their scale is on the larger side.  Note, that a zinger can also add "pop" through it's color - it doesn't always have to be graphic.  It's nice to have a few zingers in a quilt.

Geometrics, text and dots are some of my favorite "go-to" prints.

 Florals are a must as well (and offer good movement).  Notice the different scales in the four florals above.

A few solids (at least) are always nice to throw in.  They give your eye a place to rest and break up all the busyness.  Can you spy the two different blue solids in the photo above?  

Repeat, choosing different values, prints, and scales in each color. 

Since I only have a few yellows, I tried to get a nice variety of prints, scales and value.  I chose a large-scaled floral, a geometric, and a light-valued yellow that has lots of movement.

And last but not least I have some greys, neutrals and low volume prints.
The term "Low-Volume" refers to fabrics that have a light value and low contrast.  There is a spectrum of what is considered "low-volume" and in my opinion, the one or two fabrics on the right are pushing it.  But all of these neutrals will break up the monotony of my color scheme.

Now, these are just the fabrics I pulled for my quilt.  These are what I like.  I obviously like a lot of text, geometrics, etc.  I also used some of my favorite vintagy prints + some new japanese prints, so I'm excited.  

Tip #4: Repeat fabrics throughout your quilt.  This will help create balance as your eye recognizes specific colors and prints.  Almost every print of mine will be used in the quilt 5-6 times (can't wait to show you a picture of the finished quilt!!!)

Tip #5: Don't stress too much about whether a fabric matches or not!  If you can't tell with in a second or two that a fabric "clashes" then it's fine!!!  You don't need to stew too much about each and every fabric!

My friend (and neighbor!) Calli Taylor from the blog, Make It Do, makes the most beautiful, scrappy quilts. I am seriously in awe of her knack for picking fabrics! Her motto, is that "you always need a few 'ugly or off-colored fabrics' in a quilt to make the pretty fabrics shine.  It adds character and dimension to a quilt!"  Calli says that those "ugly" fabrics are ones that she still likes - but that other people might consider ugly.

And finally, Tip #6: Use what you love!  
As I was considering what I might say in this post, I came across a picture of a quilt my sister-in-law posted on Instagram recently.  Her name is Brittany (IG username is @bmariedavis).  I love her style.  Like, really, really, love her scrappy style.  I always have.  She is another quilter who completely inspires me!  She just finished making a larger version of my Sugar and Spice pattern, with a few tweaks regarding color placement (pattern available in my Etsy shop). 

Brittany said on her post caption, "I gave myself no restrictions.  If I liked the fabric and it made me happy, it went in this quilt.  I really wanted it to look like my grandma made it years ago, so I just had fun with it."

I think she achieved that look.  And that's what I love about vintage and vintage-inspired quilts!  They're just so one-of-a-kind, full of character and depth.  They're unique and interesting and lovely.

After I saw Brittany's post and read her caption, I went back to my stack of fabrics for my upcoming pattern.  I took out one fabric I didn't love and threw in this fun stripe!  I think it will add a lot of interest and whimsy to my quilt!

I hope you all feel inspired now to make a scrappy quilt.  I hope these tips have helped you.  Don't stress about it.  Have fun with it and enjoy the process!

Happy quilting!
~ Amber