Saturday, March 29, 2014

Improv Quilted Pillow

Quilted pillows are such a nice way to explore new designs.  They are quick to make, a great use for scraps, and easy to quilt on your home machine.  The small size means you can try out a new idea, especially an improv one, without much commitment in the way of time or materials.  It is a maquette you can use on your couch!

I used shot cotton scraps in warm colors with black Essex linen for this oversize pillow cover.  It is 24 inches squares.  The back is a self lining envelope closure based on Amanda Jean's tutorial.
I created the wavy quilting with my walking foot and Aurifil 50 wt thread.
This quilted pillow cover is in my etsy shop now.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Waves Quilt, Sunrise Colorway

I finished up another Waves Quilt in sunrise colors.  This design makes a bold, modern statement, while it's clean lines are simple enough to work well with a variety of nursery themes.  Gender neutral colors likes these warm solids makes the quilt is even more versatile.
I backed the quilt in a diamond print from the Simply Color line, and I picked a contrasting aqua binding.  I don't know why I resisted the orange and aqua combination for so long.  They are made for each other!
As with my first Waves Quilt, I created a different free motion quilting design in each color with matching thread.
The quilt is listed in my etsy shop.  Also, I am writing a pattern for those of you who would like to make your own Waves Quilt.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Chance of Showers

It isn't often I make a quilt from a pattern, but I was searching for a good use for a towering stack of 2 1/2"  square scraps.  The Roller Rink Quilt by Elizabeth Hartman in Modern Patchwork struck me as a fun way to use the squares and play around with the value.  You can find an explanation of how she made a baby version on her blog Oh Fransson.
This 36" x 48" quilt uses 189 squares, sashed in two colors to create a really striking, intricate look.  It's a great option for boys, too, given its graphic geometric feel.  I experimented with value by creating a color progression from light aqua to black in each block. It reminds me of ocean water, from shallow to deep. Alternating the placement of the dark and light ends from block to block creates some interesting movement.
The blocks sashed in grey made me think of rainy days, while those sashed in white feel like clear, blue skies.
The backing is a small scale black and white print, and the binding is a black and white pin dot.

The quilt is available in my etsy shop.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Wonky Cross Quilt

At its most basic, a wonky cross block (aka liberated cross or wonky plus sign) is a slice and insert technique.  A square or rectangle is cut across and a strip inserted.  Then the block is cut a second time, roughly perpendicular to the first cut, and a second strip sewn in.
For all my love of improv quilting, I have never made a wonky cross quilt, or even a block.  I'm not sure why, since this quilt by Rossie and this version by Carla are among my favorite modern quilts.  So when my month of the Whatever Bee came around, I decided to remedy all that.  I pointed my bee mates to Carla's tutorial, which makes two at a time. 
I decided to make a maquette (a technique I explained here), to get a feel for the blocks and their arrangement. I used pink scraps from my Waves quilt and the grey and white scraps they happened to be sitting next to (I love serendipity in improv sewing) on my sewing table.  As simple as these blocks are, I learned a lot about my own preferences making this mini quilt.
  • I like some variation in the thickness of the inserted strips: some chunky and some thin.
  • Some cross blocks need to be relatively straight in order for the wonky blocks to stand out.
  • The more fabrics you use, the easier assembling the top will be, if you like to avoid like fabrics touching.
  • Keeping the blocks the same height but various widths make for an interesting look that is still easy to put together.
I hope my bee mates will agree this is a good block for a quilting bee: a specific assignment with some flexibility for individual expression.

I decided to finish the maquette, since it seemed to me it would make a really cute doll quilt.  I put a text print from Verona Road on the back.  It's a bedtime story - perfect.  I bound the quilt in grey crosshatch, leftover from the Wave quilt too.  You can find this 23" x 25" mini quilt in my etsy shop. SOLD.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Waves Baby Quilt in Pink

This simple baby quilt was a response to my son's request for a gift for his teacher's baby.  She had her first child today, a little girl.  
I chose a clean, modern design that has been in a my sketchbook for a while.  It was quick to make (which was necessary since he asked me to make it just a week before her last day!), and the solids I picked create a great space to showcase free motion quilting designs.  I quilted a different design in each color with matching thread.  Each of these designs can be found in Angela Walter's  book Free-Motion Quilting.
I picked three shades of pink from my stash, white, and grey sketch binding. 
I hope it is used and loved for years.  It was a pleasure to make for someone who has put so much time and care into teaching my child.
I have plans to make a couple of these 40 x 50 quilts in other colors for my etsy shop, but you know what they say about plans.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

A Finished Knit

In keeping with my tradition of knitting one item a year, I finished a cowl for myself.  I'm super excited to be able to wear it before spring arrives.
The pattern I used is called the Gap-tastic cowl, which is available as a free download on Ravelry.  It is a perfect pattern for beginners, or those who are only capable of mindless knitting like myself (I don't know how knitters keep stitch patterns in their minds, let alone read or talk while they create intricate designs).  This is a simple seed stitch done on big, circular needles with bulky weight yarn.  Trust me: if I can knit it, you can too.
The yarn is an acrylic, alpaca blend by Bernat in Soft Grey.  It ended up a little fuzzier than I wanted.  I will definitely be making this pattern again, so I will look for a yarn with better stitch definition next time.  I'm open to suggestions from you more experienced knitters.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Improv Strata in a Quilted Pillow

The starting point for this extra large quilted pillow (24 x 24) was the tiniest of scraps.  I picked the smallest blue and gray scraps from my tickertape pile and sewed them together at random to make what I call strata.  You can find a similar technique in Quilting Modern by Jacquie Gering and Katie Pederson where it is called crazy piecing. You can click the photo below to find an affiliate link to the book.
I trimmed the strata which, once made, can be used like any other piece of fabric, into squares and rectangles. I trimmed each shape a bit wonky, adding white around the edges to frame it against the black, Essex yarn dyed linen.
A line of brown ties the blocks together.
Working completely improvisationally, like this, is a bit of a puzzle.  Figuring out how to fit the components together forces me to think critically and reevaluate constantly.  In the end, I love my improv pieces for it.  They are unique, even when inspired by quilts or techniques in a book, as mine was. 
The pillow top is quilted with organic straight lines, and the back is a self-lined envelope closure (great tutorial by Amanda Jean here).
You can find this one-of-a-kind pillow cover in my etsy shop.