Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Modern Quilted Appliqué Pillow

It has been absolutely frigid lately in the Midwest, and when it is that cold I just want to sit under blankets as much as possible. Hand sewing is perfect for such days, so I returned to improv appliqué in my latest project.

The technique of improv appliqué begins, for me, with appliqué shapes cut by hand without a template. I eyeball the shape and trim as necessary to adjust to the contours I want. Then I baste the pieces in place and appliqué with matching thread.


I prefer rather dense quilting on appliqué pieces because it makes them durable. This pillow cover is machine quilted about every quarter of an inch.

The finished pillow cover is 19 x 19 and fits a 20 inch pillow form nice and snuggly. The design is a little mid century modern meets 1970s with the coral, gold, and brown square arcs. You can find the finished quilted pillow cover in my etsy shop.

I'm thinking of attempting to make a how to video on this method of improv appliqué, if anyone is interested.

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Tall Tales Baby Quilt


I had intended to make more of these adorable foundation pieced blocks, but I cut things a bit short when I realized they would be perfect for my book loving friend's new baby. Using 20 blocks (8" square unfinished), I staggered the placement and added a quick border to make a 37 x 49 baby quilt.


The blocks, which use adorable Heather Ross prints, are just so cute for tummy time and story time - they would be great for any baby - but I known my friend is going to love making up silly tales about each one with her kids.


The background is a lovely, soft peppered cotton, and the backing fabric is a Alexander Henry print I have been hoarding for a while. A great black and white print goes with anything! I chose the texty binding print by Carolyn Friedlander which is a bit on the nose for the quilt theme. It made me chuckle anyway.


You can find the Tall Tales Quilt blocks by Quilt with Kate on Etsy. 

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Quilt Blocks for a Book Lover

I have a small stash of special Heather Ross prints. The hand drawn quality and quirky subject matter of her fabrics is perfect for fussy cutting and quilt blocks that need a focal image. As I was thinking about the stories such images tell, I was reminded of a cute paper pieced book block I'd seen around the web. It is the Tell Tale block pattern by Quilt with Kate. 

The Heather Ross prints make perfect book covers, and I enjoy imagining the titles and subject matter of each one. The frog cover is of course Wind in the Willows, and clearly we have an account of the  the Princess and pea. The unicorn has to be a book of fairytales. The girl and her cat cover is a recent YA novel full teen ennui. Maybe this book is memoir about Woodstock. 

Monday, October 12, 2020

Three Quarter Log Cabin Scrap Quilt


It is a relief to finish this quilt. Making the improv blocks from scraps was so relaxing last fall, but they sat another year on a shelf as I tried to figure out how to use them all together. The solution of sashing to separate the crazy prints and colors has worked fairly well.

The quilt is big by my standards (73 x 95), since I quilted it on my tiny home machine. I find small scale free motion designs well suited for a large quilt because the small shapes, like these loops, allow you to stop and adjust the quilt frequently without interrupting or marring a larger, flowing design. 


I used an extra wide yellow backing from my stash and an old Erin McMorris Summersault print that I love for the binding. I think largescale prints are so interesting as binding because you get quite a variation along the edge or the quilt.

Patting myself on the back for using these blocks rather than letting them languish, and I hope the quilt will be useful and a blessing to a local child in foster care. 

Saturday, August 15, 2020

Breathing Room

Remember this scrap project from last fall? I made three quarter log cabin blocks with my print scraps, using every shade and pattern. It was fun and therapeutic, but once I completed the blocks, I was dismayed to find I hated how they looked together. I even wrote a post contemplating where I went wrong. After leaving them on the shelf and the mental break of working on other projects, I decided to see if I could rescue the blocks. I do not ordinarily use sashing, but I knew the blocks needed some breathing room.

The fabric I chose for the sashing is Homespun Essex in indigo (although it reads as grey to me), and I think it is just what the blocks needed. The neutral space between the crazy prints tones down the chaos just enough. I picked my favorite 45 blocks, which finish about 9 x 12, so this will be an extra long twin when I get it pieced.


Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Modern Appliqué Table Runner

My latest experiment with improv appliqué is perhaps the simplest of all - organic ovals not unlike stacked river stones. Each shape was cut by eye and appliquéd in place with matching thread. The fabrics are all shot cottons, and their shimmering colors are hard to capture in photographs. While not a strict gradient, the colors are arranged to shift harmoniously from one to the next. I think the design is at once bold and peaceful.


To add texture, I quilted the runner densely with organic straight lines in creamy Aurifil 50 weight thread. Keeping the focus on the appliqué, I bound the runner in the background fabric which makes it nearly disappear.

The runner finishes at 16 x 49, and this unique art piece is available in my etsy shop.

Friday, July 3, 2020

Improv Appliqué Pillow


My latest improv appliqué piece was inspired by dried coral. I wanted to create a shape that mimicked its organic curves, specifically the holes within the coral. The technique I used was the same as my previous improv appliqué pieces (cutting the appliqué shape by eye, basting it a quarter inch from the edges onto the background, and using needle turn to sew it down), with the addition of careful basting around the shapes to be cut out within the larger appliqué shape. I cut the holes one by one as I appliquéd them in order to maintain the structure of the piece and avoid distortion. I'm really pleased with how flat I was able to keep the piece using this strategy.

I had a false start with the quilting, trying out some ocean-like waves which went awry. I set it aside for a while and ignored the impulse to put the whole thing in the trash can. After a couple hours of laborious unstitching, I decided to create a dense, random crosshatch. I love the texture, and the bonus of dense quilting for an appliqué piece in particular is how durable it makes the pillow.

Another change from my original design is the shape of the finished pillow. I started with a square, but I didn't like how the appliqué shape moved across the square. It works so much better as a rectangle, although it hurt a bit to lop off a good 6 inches. It was worth it in the end, as the piece achieves just what I set out to make - a natural, serenely flowing shape.

You can find this unique, quilted pillow in my etsy shop.