Friday, January 23, 2015

Paper and Plums quilt

This beauty is an improv spin on a very traditional one patch quilt.  If you look closely you will notice that each triangle is made up of strips.  Strip piecing is a favorite technique of mine, and this quilt from Improvising Tradition shows just how versatile strip sets can be.  The pattern shows you how to cut the triangles based on strips sets sewn from either yardage or those pieced carefully from scraps.  Vary the direction of the triangles and maintain a strong contrast between your two colorways, and you will create a subtle yet interesting design.
photo by Joe Hancock
 
I quilted the purple triangles with a swirl design and the white triangles in a leaf design to emphasize the contrast between the triangles.
If you are in the area, you can see the quilt in person at Sarah's Fabrics in Lawrence Kansas, along with three other quilts from the book. It looks so happy there.

Monday, January 12, 2015

No More Fussy Baby Quilt

This sweet baby quilt is from the slice and insert section of Improvising Tradition.  I pulled out some of my favorite, treasured novelty prints for this project and paired them with a cheerful aqua solid.
Novelty prints are so much fun, but they can be hard to use.  Slice and insert is wonderful technique for novelty prints and fussy cuts.  With improv there is no more cutting the tail off that puppy or having to choose between the cute little moon or star to fit a prescribed pattern size; you can tailor your fussy cut to the image you want to feature!  Just match the surrounding strip to the dimensions of your fussy cut, and you're all set to add it to your row.
I had the pleasure, last month, of seeing one of the first projects a local quilter has made from the book.  Cheryl Brady made this cute version of the quilt using a Good Night Moon print.  She even quilted stars in the center. 
Thanks for letting me share your pictures, Cheryl!  I would love to see your Improvising Tradition projects.  Email me, upload them to my flickr group, or tag them #improvisingtradition on Instagram.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Happy Christmas

Mirrored Sunset is a wall hanging from the strata section of Improvising Tradition.  It illustrates just how versatile strata can be.  In this project I used strata as the background for a Hawaiian applique, inspired by mid century starburst mirrors.  The depth of the strata comes from the Oakshott cottons.  I've used them before, and these shot cotton fabrics are just gorgeous in person.  The different colored threads woven as the warp and weft create an amazing shimmer.  I chose my fabrics from the Oakshott Ruby bundle.
photo by Joe Hancock
In these colors, it strikes me as very Christmassy - almost like a snowflake.  Happy holidays this week everyone!
 

Saturday, December 20, 2014

The Secrets of Free Motion Quilting

If you follow me on Instagram, you've seen some sneak peeks of a free motion quilting project I have been working on this past week.  I've been trying out some completely new-to-me designs that I learned in a Craftsy class by Christina Cameli called The Secrets of Free Motion Quilting.  I made a set of placemats for my family using Essex linen, matching Aurifil thread, and Kona solids bindings.
Christina generously offered to let me take the class and share a review with you (and a discount code you can find at the end of the post), and I jumped at the chance because I've been an admirer of hers since I found her blog A Few Scraps.  What strikes me about her free motion work is the freshness of her designs.  I think it is easy to get stuck in a quilting rut and use the same few designs over and over, and she uses some really unique shapes and patterns I've never seen before.
a Follow Along Design
 
a Climbing Design

First Steps to Free Motion Quilting is Christina's book, which is a wonderful resource.  Even if you own this or other books on the topic, I encourage you to try out the Craftsy class.  It offers so much that expands on what a book can do.  This was my first time taking an online quilting class, as well as my first with Craftsy in particular.  I loved the experience!  Not only do you get to see Christina's instruction, but you can post questions (which she answers super quickly!), see classmates' projects, print out an index of the designs, and insert your own notes to return to specific points in the video later.  The class is broken up into seven segments, each about 20-30 minutes long. As a mom of young kids I loved that I didn't need to leave home to take the class and could watch whenever I had a spare moment. You can go back and watch it as many times as you like too, and you can pause the video or put it on a 30 second repeat to practice a particular shape or really focus on particular movement.

Christina is a wonderful teacher.  I enjoyed her warm, encouraging demeanor.  She definitely makes free motion quilting approachable and clear.  I liked that she didn't edit out little mistakes but instead showed how to avoid them or overlook them.  It's true that so many small inconsistencies disappear when you look at the quilt as a whole, and if she has bloopers as an experienced quilter, I feel better about my own quilting. 
Beads on a String
 
a Beads on a String variation

In the class Christina quilts on solids with contrasting thread, so it's very easy to see just what she's doing.  She also sketches designs on a tablet, so you can see how the designs are made.  Sometimes it can be hard to figure out how free motion designs are made, so Christina also shows you how to decode designs you like and figure out how to reproduce them yourself.  I really can't recommend the class enough!
And right now, all Craftsy classes are on sale!  For those of you reading this post later, Christina has generously offered a discount code of $20 off the class price (although for now I think the sale is the less expensive option, so jump on it).

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Nesting Squares Quilt and a Book Signing

This might be my very favorite quilt from Improvising Tradition.  Don't tell the others.  I just love the simplicity of the design, which is really just a basic log cabin construction, and the subtle complexity added by the strata.  The quilt is made up of hundreds of pieces, sewn improvisationally into strata.  Color placement and careful value selection create the nesting squares effect.
photo by Joe Hancock

Come see this quilt and others in person, tonight at 7pm at the Roeland Park Community Center for the December meeting of the KCMQG.  Several other local authors will speak about their books and show projects as well.  You can purchase a copy or bring one from home to be signed.  Hope to see you there!

Or, you may purchase a signed copy from my etsy shop for $30 including shipping (for US residents).  I'm happy to personalize your copy.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Gameday Throw and a Book Signing

Here is a second project from Improvising Tradition which uses both the strips and slice and insert technique.  I call it Gameday Throw because the color blocked background and square log cabin blocks remind me of the field and players in a playbook diagram.  Can you tell I'm not very sporty?  In any case, the manly colors and wonky angles make this throw casual and perfect for snuggling on the couch watching the game.
photo by Joe Hancock
I will have this quilt with me, along with a few other projects from the book, at my first book signing tomorrow!  Please come out to see me at Modern Makers at 11am.  I find it easiest to take 12th street from downtown to the shop, which is at 1400 W 12th Street.  The shop is on the second floor of Le Fou Flea (look for the yellow sign). 
You will love this adorable shop.  Elizabeth has so many gorgeous fabrics and notions.  You can experience all the cute antique shops in the area, and since it is a first weekend, there will be yummy food trucks in the area too.  So come down, have some lunch, and make a fun afternoon of it!  I will have a few steps outs for anyone who is interested in seeing some techniques from the book explained.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Snowflakes

It's snowing!  At least it's snowing in my living room with these adorable snowflake pillows.  I'm feeling pretty good about checking a few handmade gifts off my list.
I made these pillows using a paper pieced pattern by Amy of During Quiet Time.  I downloaded the pattern from her Craftsy store.  The pattern includes the block in three sizes (6, 9, and 12 inches).  The small pillow above uses the nine inch size.  I finished the pillow with a self lining envelope back, using a tutorial by AmandaJean and some cute polka dot binding. The fabric on the back is Laurie Wisbrun's Brrr! from a couple of years back.
The lumbar pillow (16 x 26) uses three of the six inch blocks.  I decided to quilt it with white thread, and I like how the thread blends into the snowflakes but stands out on the red fabric (Kona Rich Red), creating a pinstripe effect.
 
With two gifts finished, I decided to make a Christmas pillow for us to keep.  I went a little crazy with my scraps and made improv letters and a strata background.  It's wonky in a festive way, don't you think? 
 
I got to play around with a new free motion quilting design I learned in a Craftsy class I'm taking by Christina Cameli.  The pebbling is a fun contrast to the hard lines of the piecing, and I love the little touch the asterisk pebbles add.  I'll be back soon with a full review of the class!