How to fight Lex Luther using only fabric
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How to fight Lex Luther using only fabric

I'm Hungry For Cookies...

by Joanne Hillestad on 12/06/18

Let's Talk Christmas Cookies
I have a craving for frosted sugar cookies... a bad craving.
So, since I need to blog about something, why not share my favorite holiday recipes?

I have no pictures of baked cookies, I am trying very hard to resist this temptation. 
But I will share pictures from my actual cookbook from 8th grade Home Ec class.
I sold dozens of cookbooks in 8th grade so I could go on a field trip to
Betty Crocker in Minneapolis in 9th grade.
It was a great field trip.
I listened to my Madonna cassette tape all the way there and back
(about 3 hours each way from Duluth in 1985).
Magical Field Trip... Magical! 

So, to all of my neighbors and relatives who bought cookbooks in 1984, thank you!

The first 2 recipes are from my Grandma Mary.

Mary's Sugar Cookies

These are the best... no other sugar cookies even compare.  

Next up is 
Grandma Mary's Spritz

I'm starting to feel a strong pull to my stand mixer and baking ingredients...

Lastly is a recipe my Mother In Law introduced me to... no idea if it is a family recipe or just a good one she found somewhere. 
I'm going to guess this is supposed to be the famous cake from the Waldorf Astoria Hotel... but who knows??
Waldorf Cake and Frosting

and because I love cookies and cakes so much this time of year... I bought myself a new cookbook today.
My doctor suggested it at my visit in June... Ugh.

Happy Holiday Baking Everyone!

Wednesday Wow... A Cool Tool and a Tip!

by Joanne Hillestad on 12/05/18

Wednesday Wow - The Stripology Rulers
It is Wednesday and I have decided that every Wednesday will be... Wednesday Wow!
I will find something cool to WOW you with!  It might be a tip... a tool... another designer... you'll have to check in and see!

Today it is a Tool and a Tip!
This ruler is the Stripology Ruler by Creative Grids. 

Of all of my specialty rulers, this is BY FAR my favorite.
I use if for all strip cutting... especially if I need to subcut squares or rectangles from those strips.
The accuracy is so much better than with a standard ruler.  It is a little crazy.

I'm not going to give you a full tutorial here... there are great instructions that come with the ruler. 
The instructions are also available here.

Instead, I have a tip for you!
When I use the ruler I am almost always cutting a lot of squares.
Lots and Lots of squares.  It makes very short work on this task.  LOVE IT!

However, it is easy to use the wrong slot by accident.


I have a tip to help solve that issue... and it is so easy.
Plus, it involves office supplies... which I love.  I truly LOVE Office Depot.  

Ok, back to tip.

I use peel and stick arrows... like the ones they use when you buy a house.  You know, the arrow stickers pointing to where to sign your life away.

I line one up at each slot I am going to use across the bottom edge.
Since they are peel and stick and peel and stick and...
I use them until the stickiness totally dies.  That is a lot of times!

You can also use regular sticky notes too... just draw an arrow on it and cut apart into smaller pieces.


Works like a charm!
Here I have a larger, in-action shot:

There are 2 additional Stripology rulers available:

This is the Stripology Squared Ruler

This is the Stripology Mini Ruler.

You can find these rulers at your local quilt shop!

Here are a few patterns that the Stripology Ruler would work well with...

Pixelating Blog Hop... Too Much Fun!!

by Joanne Hillestad on 12/04/18

Today is my day for the Pixelating Blog Hop... or as I call it.  The Pixel Blog Hop.  lol.  Pixelating is such a long word.

I am quickly becoming addicted to making pixel quilts.  I have made 3 so far and am working on another now.  
I would love to show you the quilts I have made... but they are Christmas gifts and the lucky people who will receive the gifts may see this post.  So, you will all have to wait until a post right after Christmas!  I'll plan to loop back on the 26th with pictures.

I can show you a fun pop up my sister made using Quiltoni's book, Designing Block Quilts. The technique was easy to follow and fun!  The sky is really the limit for what you can do with block quilts... or block pop ups!

The first thing to do is to choose a subject... my sister decided on a butterfly.  Here is her inspiration image:

She graphed it out and creating this using graph paper:

Then she pieced the side of the pop up, added stabilizer and sewed it up.  This is a large stacking pop up:

Didn't it turn out cute!!!  It is so bright and happy.  

So, here are a few peeks at the pixel quilt I am working on right now... I used Electric Quilt to draft the quilt instead of graph paper.  I created a quilt with all 4" blocks and then created the pattern using fabrics pre-loaded in the software.  At first I made every block a 4 patch.  After I had the initial design figured out, I went back and changed the blocks that only had 1 or 2 colors into either solid blocks or half blocks.  It worked like a charm!!

and here is is partially sewn:

If you don't want to draft your own block quilts... hop over to Quiltoni's websiteand check out her patterns.  They are too much fun!!

Toni is also on Twitch live streaming every week.  On Friday I am going to be a guest commentator while she sews a Wire-Framed Tote.  I will be there to answer questions and just hang out!  Toni is raising money for St. Jude's.  Chec it out starting by 1pm EST on Friday, December 7th!  It should eb a lot of fun!!

Now it is time to learn about the blog hop prizes... they are awesome!!

Make sure you read each of the hoppers blogs.  They are making some pretty cool things.

Nov 27 - Quiltoni - Welcome and Introduction of Bloggers and Giveaway 
Nov 28 -   Kate Colleran Designs, LLC - 
Nov 29 -   A&E Gutermann - 
Nov 30 -   Triangle Frenzy LLC - 
Dec 1 -   Desert Bloom Quilting -
Dec 2 - Quiltoni - /
Dec 3 -   Tamarinis - 
Dec 4 -   The Fat QuarterGypsy - 
Dec 5 -   Around the Bobbin - 
Dec 6 -   Quilting Affection Designs  - 
Dec 7 -   Muppin Inc -
Dec 8 - Winners Announced
I wouldn't be the giveaway queen and this wouldn't be a Blog Hop without some giveaways.  So what are the giveaways?  We have some pretty cool ones.


That's right!  You can win your very own Arrow Wicked Cosplay Hydraulic Sewing Chair!  Gutermann is also giving away a cool thread pack and of course a few books will be given out.  To qualify just follow all of the blog hop participants Instagram Pages!  You can find them on our giveaway page here and you will be automatically entered to win and following and clicking enter!

So make sure you check out every day of the blog!

A Monday in the life of a pattern designer...

by Joanne Hillestad on 12/03/18

A Monday in the Life of a Pattern Designer
Happy Monday!
For today's blog post I have decided to give you a peek into a typical Monday at the Gypsy.  Hold onto your hats... this is going to be exciting!  Or not...

I forced myself out of bed at 6:32.  I wanted another 2 hours of sleep... but it was time to make the doughnuts!!
Left the house just after 7 (I was speedy).  Stopped at the local gas station for coffee.  Doctored up the coffee with LOTS of creamy chocolate coffee creamer and hit the freeway heading north.  Oh... almost forgot.  We hauled the recycle and garbage down to the end of the driveway.  That is always a really fun part of every Monday!  Usually Mike (that's the hubby) takes care of it... but you will see why he didn't in a bit...

My son Nick rode with me today.  Normally 3 of us (and our dog) all head to the same location.  Rarely do we all end up in the same car.  Today Mike stayed home with the dog and a tummy bug.  No fun at all!  Nick and I are keeping the businesses running.  Nick is in school learning everything about how to run CNC machines so he can be generation 3 of my husband's wire forming business.  He works between classes. 

My quilt studio is in an old apartment upstairs.  So, unlike many pattern designers, I do not work from home.  I treat my business as a full time job... plus many evenings and weekends.  

So... I was driving north.  Got of I-35 at Exit 169.  Time to get busy!
First up... take care of all the emails from over the weekend.  This wasn't a terribly busy weekend for emails, so that didn't take too long.

Next, I always pull up my Trello app.  I use it to make to-do lists and keep in touch with other designers via teams.  It is a wonderful tool that has helped me in many ways.  Everyday gets a new 'Card' with a To-Do list of the most important tasks I need to complete and a Leftovers list of things I will do if I have time.  The Leftovers list will roll to tomorrow... and the next day... and so on.  Today's list included:

1. order paper 
2. setup up print files for printer
3. send Lisa A from Around the Bobbin some pop up springs (this has been rolling from day to day for a week at least)
4. Fill out google form for upcoming guild lecture.  
5. look for fabric for a new pattern
6. blog
7. figure out topics for the Schoolhouse Series at Spring 2019 Quilt Market... yes... we start prepping for for the next one now... booth registration will arrive soon.
8. work on bookkeeping at least an hour.

Are you surprised how it doesn't say "quilt  today"?  The reality is that about 90% of a pattern designer's time is spent sitting at a keyboard doing boring business stuff.  

An email arrived from Quilt Market about Schoolhouse proposals.  Time to FB Message two of my favorite fellow designers: Kris Poor from Poorhouse Quilt Designs and Kate Colleran from Seams Like a Dream.  The three of us often team up to do presentations and other collaborative projects together.  We each have different skill sets and experiences which makes teaming up work great!

We brainstormed for probably way too long... but we have ideas for 3 exciting schoolhouse presentations for Spring quilt market.  Schoolhouse is a day long event where every 15-30 minutes a bunch of presentations start in a bunch of rooms.  There is a big schedule and shop owners and industry professionals pick and choose what topics interest them.  Of course, we hope they want to hang out with us!  I'm not sure how many topics are happening in each time slot... but it must be 25 or so?  It is a great way for us to share our knowledge and introduce some of the new items we will be having in our booths on the floor.

Time to get back to work.  
I just spent an hour editing patterns for the printer.

Squirrel!!!!  I just heard the UPS man... I'll go see if there is anything important for anyone... heading downstairs... into the wire forming part of our little world.

Mike got 6 boxes!  I feel bad for Chris our wonderful UPS guy.  That was a lot to haul in.
How many did I get?  Well... usually none.  But today I got 3!  Yeah!  
2 contained models and extra product from a trunk show at the Bernina Connection in Phoenix.  They made medium pop ups in a class taught by Vanessa Fromm of Fabric Confetti.  She does the coolest embroidery designs... and she loves to put them on pop ups.  Maybe I'll write a blog all about that on Wednesday?  I think I will... so check back then to see some of the fun things she has made using my patterns.  Here is a teaser:
The 3rd box is Happy Mail!!  Oh Boy!  I have a box from Michael Miller Fabrics!  Let's go open it up!

Look what I get to play with!  This is going to be a fun new version of Cryptic!  I will definitely write a blog about sewing this during the 31 day challenge!  Getting happy mail is not part of a normal Monday here at the Gypsy.  There was also another quilt to be sewn in the box... but it is super secret.  All I can show you is a few of the basics... here I am during the 15 minutes or so of pressing I did:
After that I got a couple orders from distributors... that always makes me do a happy dance!  Orders are precious and never taken for granted.  (Insert Happy Dancing for a few minutes).

Time for lunch...  remember yesterday when I told you it was so snowy and windy I didn't go get groceries... well here is my lunch:
It was a good as it looks.
Off to gather items for my orders... see if I need to print anything.  What needs to be stuffed... be right back...

I'm back!  I need to print the insides of some Grand Central patterns and stuff a bunch of pop ups.  Time to turn on the big Xerox!  I spent the next 45 minutes printing and folding and stuffing and printing and folding and stuffing.  
Mike called... he is starting to feel better.  He spent part of the day in his pole barn.  We had a lively discussion on dog beds and the lack of one for Bugsy out in the barn.  Which one of the 3 in the house he should put out there.  My thought is the one with the ugliest and darkest fabric since it will get dirty.  But, that's just the mom in me.  Here is a picture of Bugsy helping last Friday.  He is a golden retriever and they like to help.
My day is almost done.  Only an hour to go.  I just finished some emails. Then I brainstormed on some new Knobie Talk designs.   I have spent a LOT of time writing this blog post.  That is really, really not normally part of my Monday.  I have to run downstairs and ship some widgets for Mike.  Then I'm going to spend the last part of my day cutting out my super secret project I can't tell you about... except it has a piece of lime green in it. 

I plan to sew and stuff patterns and pop ups while I watch TV tonight.  I also need to write a blog post for tomorrow morning for the Pixel Blog Hop I'm part of.  Tomorrow is my day.  Then to bed by 10, fall asleep by 11.  wake up at 3:30 (but just for a few minutes lol). and then it will be time to head to work on Tuesday!

Until tomorrow!

Day 2... I've got nothing important to say... but the pop up pictures are fun!

by Joanne Hillestad on 12/02/18

It is Sunday evening and I have all sorts of ideas for great blog posts... however, most of them require preparation and pictures.  I am sadly lacking in preparation and pictures.  So, I'll have to find something else to talk about.

How about the weather?  That is usually safe.
I spent the weekend inside.  I didn't even get myself out to buy the groceries we need.  Instead, I stayed warm and cozy in my sewing room.  I live in chilly Minnesota.  This weekend was particularly chilly.  The snow was falling.  The wind was blowing.  It was not the nicest driving on the roads. 
I worked on a Christmas gift for an unnamed person.  I'd show you all my progress... but that would reveal the gift.  So, again... lacking in pictures.  It is a very fun project using my friend Toni's book titled "Designing Block Quilts".  On Tuesday I'll be participating in a Blog Hop for the book.  I have a fun pop up my sister made to share. I will discuss my mystery project, but I don't think I will have it completely sewn in time for a big reveal.  Instead, I will show you how I designed the project.  I like technology... and used it where I could! 
So, you should check back on Tuesday to learn all about it! 

This is getting wordy, so I think it is time for a picture to brighten your day.
This fun winter themed pop up is called Snow Follies.  It is part of my Dress Up Your Pop Up collection.  The cute snow people are appliqued onto the side of the pop up before constructing it.  The pop up also has a flap with a drawstring so you can use it for a gift.  IF you don't want the applique, you can make it plain instead!  The pattern is FQGDU208 Snow Follies and contains the instructions, a spring and a label to make one.  Sew Fun!

In addition to Snow Follies... there is also Winter Serenade (To the Left) and Winter's Catch (Below).  Snow Follies and FQGDU207 Winter Serenade are both made using the Small 5.5" diameter spring.  FQGDU206 Winter's Catch uses the Medium 8" spring.
And this concludes day 2 of the 31 Day Blog Writing Challenge.  So far it is not flowing out of me easily... but tomorrow is another day and I will be in the studio which will greatly help me be more prepared and have access to more images!  Yeah!

Until tomorrow!!

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