Monday, May 18, 2015

Aerial Grove Quilt, Modern Improv Applique

I've been smitten with the Aerial Grove Quilt from Savor Each Stitch by Carolyn Friedlander since I first saw it in person when she spoke to my guild. The quilt is just beautiful. So, when Pat Sloan asked me what quilt I most wanted to make in 2015, I had an easy answer. There's nothing like committing on live radio for motivation.
I knew I loved the quilt, but I didn't expect to love making the quilt as much as I have. I don't make quilts from a pattern very often because I don't enjoy prescriptive sewing as much as improv. This project is the perfect marriage of the two.

Each "squircle" is cut freehand, from a folded piece of fabric, making each shape unique. I love that the applique shapes are improvised rather than cut from a template.  Because the shapes are irregular, there is no need to stress about making them identical as you sew them to the background strips using a needle turn applique method. The shapes are organic, coming from the inspiration of a grove of trees, as seen from above in an airplane.
Creating columns of shapes encourages color and value play. You can create color gradations or rhythms with the value of the fabrics you choose. The more fabrics, the more play; scraps welcome. There's a lot of room for adding your own voice to the quilt. Search the hashtag #aerialgrovequilt to see lots of version on Instagram (Not on Instagram? Get on! There is a treasure trove of quilting inspiration to be found.).
The project is also great because it is very portable. I worked on the applique panels during my sons' practices, and it was finished inside of a month! I was surprised how quickly it came together.
I'm working on the improv background this week. I chose to make the quilt throw size, but the book has options for several sizes, from table runner to queen size.
I'm a huge fan of Carolyn Friedlander's patterns and aesthetic. I think it takes a unique mind and sense of style to create applique that modern, fresh, and compatible with an improv approach. Frankly, she's a genius. I've loved the process of this quilt every step of the way.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Color Gradient Runner


For the longest time, I kept these gorgeous, glowing, hand dyed fabrics, made in a workshop with Kim Eichler-Messmer who wrote Modern Color, folded neatly in a pretty stack. I couldn't pick one design that I thought was special enough for them. I finally decided to try it all. I chopped my fat quarters into a variety of shapes and sizes, and I've tried a bit of everything with them. I'm planning a random sampler of sorts. More on that later, but no promises it will be soon.
These chevrons didn't fit with the rest of the blocks, so I combined them into a minimalist runner. I seem to be on a bit of a table runner kick recently.


In any case, the poor fabrics sat for the longest time again, as I tried to decide how to quilt the runner. I wanted to play off the directional arrow-like design of the chevrons by creating a rope pattern, moving as it weaves under itself. If I had to do again, I would stick with simple straight line quilting. I like the rope motif, but I think it takes away from the simplicity of the chevron design. I'm glad I tried it though.

At 16" x 57" this a big table runner. Between the original design and the hand dyed, color gradation fabrics, it really is one of a kind. I'm listing it in my esty shop.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

A Rainbow of Leftovers

When I trimmed the strip sets in my improv scrappy rainbow table runner, I created some leftover half square triangle blocks. Scraps from a scrap project are the sweetest kind!  I started playing with them on my design wall and came up with a symmetrical layout. It is probably a traditional block (although I don't know the name of the block, do you?).
I love the way the colors flow across the block, and the little pieced sections in the triangles add such quirky details. Each square finished at 1 3/4 inches. I added a scrappy border and binding. Even the backing and batting are scraps.
I played around with some point to point free motion quilting. It is very rough, but I'm always amazed how the uneven curves and wonky lines form into something beautiful when taken as a whole.
This 19 inch square mini quilt will be a nice addition to my sewing space. I am enjoying spring, but wishing for the pollen to die down.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Improv Scrappy Table Runner

Ah, what can scrappy, improv strip sets not accomplish?  Many things, I'm sure, but at the moment they are just what I want for making this rainbow table runner.
I was able to use some of my smallest scraps to create monochromatic strip sets. I added neutral strips sets to each end, trimming and sewing at a 45 degree angle. I staggered the strip sets to make a serpentine like arrangement.

Within each strip set, I tried to work from darkest to lightest value. I really like how this complicates the design slightly, by softening the points at the lightest end of each strip set. I flipped the strips sets around at random, so the values flow erratically across the runner. I think this kind of subtlety adds so much interest to a design.  If the strip sets were made of fabrics, all equal in value, the pointy design would be too stark in my opinion.
I had so much fun making this. I seem to make a lot of rainbow things from my scraps, but that is really part of the joy for me: getting to play with every color and all my favorite bits of fabrics from projects past.
While I love to sew rainbows, I don't actually decorate with them often. So this 16" x 47" table runner is available in my etsy shop.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Talking Quilting on Live Radio

I'm very excited to share that I will be chatting about improv piecing, quilting, and sewing in community with Pat Sloan on American Patchwork and Quilting Radio this coming Monday, March 30th at 4pm Eastern/3pm Central time. You can listen online live or download the podcast anytime.  I have found that I really enjoy listening to podcasts while I sew. Do you have any favorites?

Monday, March 23, 2015

Quilted Coasters


I needed a small project to make quickly as a thank you gift for a special friend. I had some leftover scraps from my table runners, so I decided to turn the strip sets into some quilted coasters. The fabrics are shot cottons paired with black Essex linen.
I used the basic construction method described in my book, Improvising Tradition, for the Jewel Box Coaster project (although these coasters were pieced and then quilted, rather that created quilt-as-you-go). The use of insul-bright in addition to a layer of batting gives the coasters a nice rigidity while still being soft. I don't know why I haven't made more coaster sets.  They are such a fun, quick project!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

On the Road Again Toddler Quilt

I've had this project pieced and ready to quilt since I made the first digger version this past summer.  I decided to used the succulent design from Christina Cameli's Craftsy class to make the stripe with the RV block stand out and a simple elongated stipple over the rest of the quilt. I finally finished up the quilt this weekend, enjoying the nice weather as I hand stitched the binding.
The RV block from Busy City is such a fun one to feature. I even lucked out and found a giant polka dot fabric in my stash to use for the wheels, which are appliqued with fusible web and a blanket stitch.  I enlarged the block by 200% and set it into the 40" x 56" striped quilt.

I backed the quilt with a cute camping fabric.  I'm really hoping some family who loves to travel in their RV finds this.  It is listed in my etsy shop.