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Beach

Join me in the Caribbean!

I love it when I can combine a bunch of favorite things in one event, don’t you? Next March (2014), I’m teaming up with Quilt Retreats at Sea and Artistic Artifacts for an eight-night quilting cruise where I can enjoy:

  • Travel to warm places while it’s cold at home
  • Spending time with my hubby
  • Spending time with quilting buddies (quilters I know now and quilters I will meet)
  • Sharing my favorite original quilt pattern with other quilters
  • Giving out prizes and surprises
  • Food, food, and more food
  • Ocean view
  • Sewing!
Cruise Project, Ocean View

Friendship Chain, Purple Rain Colorway — Fabrics will vary

Sounds good, right? I’d love it if you’d join us! We’ll leave Baltimore on Friday, March 28, 2014 on Royal Caribbean’s Grandeur of the Seas. Our ship was refurbished in 2012 and is just beautiful! Click here to read all about the ship. Our stops include Port Canaveral, Florida; Nassau, Bahamas; Coco Cay, Bahamas; and Key West, Florida. We can have beach time, shopping time, sightseeing time, and just lazy time. We’ll return to Baltimore on Saturday, April 5.

On three of our days, we’ll be at sea, having fun piecing a quilt. I’ll be teaching the techniques you’ll need to successfully complete our quick and easy project. This is my favorite pattern, Friendship Chain. Back before the Dawn of Time (when I was in elementary school), we used to make these zigzag bracelets out of paper chewing gum wrappers. This quilt reminds me of those bracelets, hence the name. I can almost smell the Juicy Fruit gum!

Tangerine Sunrise Colorway

Tangerine Sunrise Colorway — Fabrics will vary

Quilt Cruisers will get to choose from two colorways: Purple Rain and Tangerine Sunrise. Our sewing machines are being provided for us along with an expert to troubleshoot as needed and keep us rolling in full bobbins! But the best part about our quick and easy project is that I will cut the kit for you. When you sit down to work, you will not have to cut strips or subcut blocks — it’ll all be ready for you to get started!

If you are a fast worker (and you know who you are!), you might want to bring a small UFO or two. While the ship has lots of distractions for your free time, you may finish your quilt top and want something to work on during the optional Stitch-and-Sail sewing times.

Toward the end of our cruise, I’ll have a surprise project for you to work on. We’re going to have lots and lots of fun!

Cruise Ship

Royal Caribbean’s Grandeur of the Seas

So, what’s included on the cruise? The Friendship Quilting Cruise Package includes:

Snow on the Deck

March 2013 in Virginia – Wouldn’t you rather be in the Caribbean in March 2014?

  • Eight nights aboard the Grandeur of the Seas
  • All port fees and taxes
  • Prepaid onboard gratuities
  • Trip/travel insurance
  • Two group cocktail parties
  • All onboard meals
  • Onboard entertainment
  • Quilting classes and instruction
  • Project kits and materials
  • Open Stitch-and-Sail sewing times
  • Group events, prizes, giveaways!

I’d love you to join us! For more information or to register, contact Quilt Retreats at Sea. If you have any questions, e-mail me.

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With my apologies to the Muppets (Muppet Fans, sing along, using the tune from the show’s opening song):

It’s time to get out fabric!Red Fabric Ready to Sew into Bags
It’s time to cut and sew!
It’s time to make some gift bags
For my presents —  Ho ho ho!

I look forward to this time of year. Yes, part of me dreads it, too, since there’s not enough time to do the things I want to do. And what is that, you ask? I want to make presents for all of the people I love. Do I have time to do that? More to the point, do you?

Okay, lean in. I’m going to tell you a secret. This is just for you, so don’t tell anyone else. I’m going to tell you the secret of how I find time to make gifts for everyone.

Ready? Here it is.

I buy gifts and then present them in handmade gift bags. Yup. It’s that simple. The bags are quick to make, can be made assembly-line style if you group the fabrics according to thread color, and you can use any fabric that suits you. And while I still think the gift is important, I find my family and friends are sometimes more excited about the gift bag. In fact, several family members hoard them in the fear that I will stop making them. I give them a gift bag filled with other gift bags so that they will actually use them. Plus a personal gift in, yes, a gift bag.

Why do I make my own gift bags?

  • I have a lot of fabric.
  • People love them.
  • I don’t have time to make personalized gifts for everyone I care about, but I can give each person a little homemade love in a bag.
  • I have a lot of fabric.
  • It’s faster to wrap a gift in a bag than it is to use paper, tape, and a bow or ribbon.
  • It’s a green alternative. No need to throw out piles of paper after the gift opening frenzy.
  • I have a lot of fabric.
  • The gift bags can (should!) be given away by the recipient to keep the love moving around.
  • Or the gift bags can be kept and used in other ways.
  • I have a lot of fabric.

Gift Bag CollectionAnd so I’ll steal time between writing projects and teaching and family stuff to play with my fabric and sew, sew, sew…guilt-free!

If you want to join my handmade gift bag movement, march yourself into your studio and start pulling fabric! Want more structure than that? You can order my gift bag pattern by clicking here or you can buy my pattern at Artistic Artifacts in Alexandria, Virginia, on Saturday, December 3, 10am-5pm (I’ll be there until 4pm) during their annual Holiday Open House. I’ll be there, demonstrating Paintstik techniques and chatting about upcoming classes.

For pictures and more information about my gift bags, visit this previous blog post.

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Give a Little Gift Bag Cover ImageWhat’s better than a gift? A gift that’s wrapped in a gift!

I love pretty gifts. I appreciate the time it takes to wrap a beautiful gift. All my life, I’ve taken time to wrap pretty gifts, and I’ve gone through a lot of paper. I have nothing against wrapping paper, but it seems like a one trick pony. You buy it, use it once (or more if you’re really careful), and throw it away. Make one simple gift bag, and you’ll realize how quickly you can make a stash of bags large enough to wrap an entire year’s worth of gifts!

Stack of Fabric with Red Thread

Ready to sew!

For years I’ve wrapped holiday gifts in fabric bags. I started small, using the bags only for special gifts and then I ramped up production and started to use the bags exclusively. What started as a whim has become a bit of an obsession, and I want to share that with you. There are lots of benefits to using fabric gift bags for your wrappings:

  • Fabric gift bags are green. These gift bags can last for years, creating traditions among your family as the bags travel back and forth between households. There’s no waste beyond the gift tags and any tissue paper you may choose to use.
  • Fabric gift bags can be really personal. When I shop for gift bag fabric, I watch for fabrics that will appeal to specific family and friends. Dinosaurs and trucks for my great-nephews, cardinals and snow-covered trees for my mother-in-law, anything less froofy for the men in my life.
  • Fabric bags are the perfect canvas for trying out new things. You have lots of special stitches on your sewing machine; why not use them? Are you hoarding variegated thread? Use it up! They’ll make more!

    Bag with Bernina Specialty Stitches

    Pretty Bernina Stitches

  • Fabric bags are convenient. My family has begun to build up their own gift bag supplies as they receive the bags each year. My niece, my mother-in-law, and my husband all commented this year about how easy it was to wrap gifts.
  • The bags are great for travelers who can’t wrap gifts before they clear pre-flight security. Grab a stack of bags and wrap your gifts when you get to your destination. No paper to wrinkle, no shopping for tape or ribbon.  
Miles of Drawstring

Making Miles of Drawstring

The pattern’s a great stashbuster, as you begin to pick through your fabric collection with a new perspective. You know that fabric that you don’t want to cut up because it’s too pretty? Make a bag. Only have a fat quarter? Make a bag. Have over a yard? Make a BIG bag! And don’t forget you can sew your own drawstrings! I use my Bernina binding attachment to fold and sew it closed. Yes, I make miles and miles of the stuff!

I still make a nice supply of simple cotton bags for my gifts every year, but now I’ve started making a few special bags with some very special materials.

Hand Dyed Fabric and Trim

Treasures From Artistic Artifacts

Artistic Artifacts creates wonderful hand-dyed collage packs and I have fallen in love with them. I choose a color, pick a collage pack, and then augment the contents with vintage linens, doilies, and trim that Judy Gula (Artistic Artifacts owner) has lovingly collected and then hand-dyed.

Hand-Dyed Gift Bag

2 Doilies, Fabric, Rickrack & Lace, All Hand-dyed

One more thing: don’t keep the bags to yourself. I tried that in the beginning, but it felt selfish. The bags are part of the gift. Give them away and encourage the recipients to do the same. I put labels inside my bags for everyone to sign so that each bag has a record of who has used it. It’s that simple. Give away the bag, get a smile, and save some trees that would have become wrapping paper. Give a Little Gift Bag and help change the world, one gift bag at a time.

The pattern is available on my website: www.MoonlightingQuilts.com or click here to go directly to the Pattern Page. Send me pictures of your gift bags…Thanks!

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