Introducing: Best. Day. EVER! fabric for Moda

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Say hello to my pretty little friend!

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She’s lovely, and fresh, and oh so happy.

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She’s a free spirit, to be sure.

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She makes every day her Best. Day. Ever!

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Please welcome my first collection with Moda Fabrics, Best. Day. EVER! Showing at International Quilt Market in Pittsburgh. Precuts ship in September, Yardage in October. Available for quilt shops to order in May.

Thank you for being excited with me everyone. I can’t wait to show you the patterns I’ve got for this line. My Best. EVER! For other sneak peeks, check out the #bestdayeverfabric hashtag on Instagram.

xoxo

April

PS Someone pinch me.



Super Speedy Quilt Borders (Quilting Hack): Fabulously Fast Quilts Blog Tour

SuperSpeedyBordersHello friends! I’m checking in today to share with you one of my favorite FAST quilting tips–because my lovely friend Amy Smart from Diary of a Quilter asked me to! And well, when someone that sweet asks you to do something, you just do it! Plus, she has a super fun book that’s just come out, and I wanted to share it. I had the fun of quilting two of the quilts in the book, and one of them even made the cover (so cool!).

 

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Her book is called Fabulously Fast Quilts, and so she wanted all of us to share our secrets for faster quilting! So here’s my tip:

Super Speedy Quilt Borders Quilting Hack

Let me tell you–this little gem saves me SO. MUCH. TIME. Of course, it may be a little controversial for those of you who have been quilting for years and years, but hear me out. This just might change your life.

Here’s my confession: I don’t measure or pin my borders. Ever. At all. True story. No math, no measuring, no pins.

HOLD ON! Before you picture super bad borders with waves and puckers and stretching and all that horrible-ness, let me state for the record that my borders are square, and the perfect length. No waves.
Yep.

So here’s how it goes: I sew all my border strips together lengthwise to make one. long. strip.
photo 1-6Then, I attach my best friend walking foot to my sewing machine.
photo 2-7Then, I sew my border on. I give myself an inch or so of extra at the top, and when I get to the bottom, I give myself an inch or so there, too.

photo 3-4I cut off the rest of the long strip, and set it aside for the rest of the border.

photo 4-5I press my border, and trim it using my ruler and rotary cutter to make sure it’s square. Then, I attach the other borders. Usually I will do both sides before pressing and trimming, and then do the top and bottom.

Super Speedy BordersSO. FAST.

None of this crazytown measuring and fussing with pins, and averaging, dividing, and yuck.

Just quick, easy, square, FAST borders. Every time.

You should really get a walking foot. I mean it. (A walking foot is a presser foot for your sewing machine, that allows the top and bottom fabrics to feed evenly. It’s like magic.)

Also, you should really get Amy’s book. (It’s available here, here, and here.) She’s a doll, and her quilts and fun, and easy, and FAST! Win, win, win!

I mean really, check out these quilts! (I also got to longarm the pretty green one!)

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So head on over and say hi to Amy, and tell her congrats and good job on her book–because hey, you’ll have lots of time to read blogs now that the borders on every quilt you make will be done in like 10 seconds.

xoxo

April

PS This post is just one of a bunch of fast quilting tips being shared by a bunch of awesome chickadees. You should really go follow along–your quilting speed will increase exponentially, I’m sure!

Monday April 28
Sachiko Aldous of Tea Rose Home
April Rosenthal of April Rosenthal
Jennifer Mathis of Ellison Lane
Tuesday April 29
Jen Wilding Cardon of Stitch This! Martingale Blog
Amy Ellis of Amy’s Creative Side
Lori Holt of Bee in my Bonnet
Wednesday April 30
Faith Jones of Fresh Lemons Quilts
Melissa Mortenson of PolkaDot Chair
Amy Gibson of Stitchery Dickory Dock
Thursday May 1
Lee Heinrich of Freshly Pieced
Lynne Goldsworthy of Lily’s Quilts
Jeni Baker of In Color Order
Friday May 2
Katie Blakesley of Swim Bike Quilt
Lindsay Conner of Craft Buds
Sherri McConnell of A Quilting Life



Sneak Peek, and What is International Quilt Market? Can I come?

Best. Day. EVER! by April Rosenthal of Prairie Grass Patterns for MODA

First off, I posted a sneak peek of MY FABRIC over on Instagram a few weeks ago! I haven’t really mentioned it here, and more details are to come for sure–but for now I will just show you what’s already out there! I can’t wait to show you more. Soon, SOON! (YOU GUYS! I’m designing for MODA!!!!!!!!) <—dream come true.

Pardon the freak out. Back to business. *ahem*

I’ve had a few questions about Quilt Market, and thought I’d throw some information out there for anyone who is curious.

Prairie Grass Patterns Booth at Fall 2013 International Quilt Market

What you need to know about International Quilt Market

Things are ramping up around here, and if you haven’t noticed, basically everywhere in the quilting world. Anyone who is involved in the quilting industry professionally is getting ready for an event that happens twice a year: International Quilt Market. It is a beautiful show full of new products, new fabrics, new patterns, and more. If you’re into quilting, this is basically your mecca. It’s like fashion week, only for quilting. Quilt Market is also where shops get advance precuts and products before their release date, so that they can make shop samples and work with the new fabrics before they ship.

Quilt Market is a Trade Show

That means that all the people exhibiting are showing what they produce to the people who will be selling it. Translation? I go to show my patterns to shop owners, so they will buy them, and sell them in their shop. Fabric companies are there too, to show what fabrics they have coming down the pipeline. Often this means they are showing fabrics that will ship up to 6 months or more from the time of the show. In order to attend Quilt Market you have to have credentials–proof you own a quilting related business and you can qualify for wholesale terms. It is not open to the general public.

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When is Quilt Market?

Fall Quilt Market usually happens the last weekend in October, though in recent years they have tried to avoid having it fall right on Halloween. There are lots of mamas and daddies who want to be with their babies that day. It is always in Houston, Texas.

Spring Quilt Market usually falls the second weekend in May. This show travels around the country, falling in one of 5 locations around the United States on a rotating schedule. This spring, I am traveling to Pittsburgh to exhibit.

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International Quilt Market sounds awesome! Can I come?

I love going to market, even though it is hard to be away from home for that long sometimes. The whole experience is so inspiring! There are so many beautiful things to look at, and admire. When I’m exhibiting, I don’t have as much opportunity as I would like to go see the entire show–but what I do see always impresses. And it’s also exhausting. I’m always ready, when the time comes, to be home.

If you’re a shop owner or employee, and would like to attend market, check out the Quilts, Inc website and get in contact with them about the credentials required. I’d love to see you there!

If you’re a quilt lover who would like to experience market, thank goodness for the internet! Many, many attendees post pictures and blog posts, and show market real time via Instagram. Just check out the hashtag #quiltmarket ! You can follow right along, even tell attendees what you want to see–and we’ll do our best reconnaissance for you! Or, go snag a part-time job with your local quilt shop! If you’re really determined to go, you’ll need the qualifications (and your own check stub!) from a company that has wholesale credentials and purchasing power. After all, this show isn’t just for show, it’s for sales!

Alright kids, I’m back to finishing up writing these new patterns (5 new patterns coming soon!) so I can START SEWING WITH MY VERY OWN FABRIC. (Eeeeeeeek!)

xoxo

April



Top 5 Healthy Crock Pot Recipes for Busy Moms

Crock-Pot

Today on the Quiltcast, Amy and I talked about how we balance our mom jobs and our day jobs–and one of the tools we mentioned is our slow cooker! Both of us love to use our crock pot to get dinner done–in fact, mine is going upstairs right now (See below, Kathy’s White Bean and Chicken Chili). Using a crock-pot, of course, gives me a little more time for this:

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For me, it is important when I am feeding my family that the meal not only be fast and not too fussy, but that it be nutritious, real food too. And, as we discussed on the Quiltcast, I have a pretty bad time with MSG and preservatives, so that’s just another reason I don’t like to add canned soups, etc, to our meals.

Without further ado, these are 5 Crock Pot meals that I use on a regular basis in my home. Because we’re all busy, but we all want to be healthy. Throw one in your slow cooker tomorrow morning, and have dinner done before breakfast is over!

xoxo

April

Slow Cooker French Dip Sandwiches:

These are so good! We get crusty rolls and broil some cheese and italian spices  on top before making our sandwiches. Yum! I use the recipe here to make my own Onion Soup Mix without bouillon or MSG.

Split Pea Soup:

This is a perfect comfort food, and a great way to use leftover ham. Even better, my kids love it! If you have fussy children who don’t like texture, you may want to leave the ham out until the veggies are all cooked, remove the bay leaf, and puree the soup in a high speed blender before adding the ham.

Harvest Ham and Root Veggies:

This is such a simple recipe, I can’t even find a link for it. Here goes: Use a 1 to 1 1/2 pound boneless ham, 6 carrots, and 3 medium sweet potatoes. Peel potatoes and carrots, and quarter or cut into bite size pieces. Place carrots and potatoes on the bottom of the crock pot. Place ham on top of vegetables. Pour 1 cup of pure maple syrup (not extract, and not waffle syrup) over ham and vegetables. Cover, cook on LOW for 6-8 hours. (Original recipe found in Crock-Pot Slow Cooker Best-Loved Recipes.)

Kathy’s White Bean and Chicken Chili:

This is one of those “Throw it all in and forget about it” kind of crock pot meals. Just the kind I like. On the beans, I have usually done this with canned beans, but it’s so much more delicious with dried beans. See the link below if you haven’t ever used dried beans.

Place 3 chicken breasts, 1 can of black beans, 1 can of great northern beans, 2 cups of salsa, 1 cup of diced tomatoes, and 2 tsp of cumin in greased crock pot. Cook on low heat 6-9 hours. Break chicken into bite sized pieces with two forks before serving.

Black Beans (Side or Soup):

I confess, I really love me a meatless meal. The nice part about this recipe is that with a little tweak or two, you can change a pot of beans from a side into a soup. So, if you prefer some meat with your beans, use this as a side recipe. If, like me, you’d like to make these beans the star of the show, well, follow the soup recipe or use them as a topping for some rice. These recipes are both stovetop variety, but can easily be put in a crock pot as well for a few hours, and has the advantage of being a little faster than a large cut of meat that needs to cook all the way through. I use organic beef broth if I’m making the soup, and use dried beans, instead of canned beans. Here’s a great link on using dried beans.



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