Sunday, November 24, 2013

My First Maquette

I first heard the term maquette, or an exploratory, small scale version of an intended larger piece, on Jacquie's blog.  (One of many, many invaluable tips I've gleaned from her!)  I was intrigued by the technique but honestly too impatient to give it a try. I usually just dive head first into a new design, with almost no preliminary plans or calculations.  As you might imagine, this can occasionally lead to regret later on. Still, it is how I work most often, and usually I find complications to be opportunities to improvise.
There are certain designs which require a bit more forethought, however.  This piece of art, Light House by an Australian artist with an etsy shop called pool pony, was the inspiration for my first attempt at making a maquette.  I could see that making the curves and intersecting lines match up would be a challenge, as well as the way the colors seem to overlap.  I still improvised the piecing, but through the process of making the maquette, I learned so much. 
For example, when I make a larger version, there are different ways I'd like to arrange the colors to play up some overlap and create the illusion of transparency.  I will also change the proportions of some of the shapes, and I'd like to expand the design to include some repetition of the shapes.  I may change the way I cut the curves too, but I will definitely hope to use Oakshott cottons again.  The subtlety of the colors is just perfect for creating transparency.
A piece like this is quite a challenge to make improvisationally, and it is just the type of design that really benefits from a maquette.

Friday, November 8, 2013

A Quilt for Fall

The fall colors have been beautiful here in the Midwest the past week or two.  They inspired me to make a quilt in orange, red, yellow and brown, so I pulled a bunch of fabrics from my scrap bins.  I cut them to 7 1/2 inches square.
Inspired by this gorgeous value quilt by Krista, I paired each square with a warm, low volume print cut to the same size and made half square triangles (HSTs).
As an aside, if you are going to make a HST quilt, I really recommend a bloc loc ruler (it has a groove on the underside which butts up against your center seam, keeping it perfectly in place as you trim) and rotating cutting mat.  You do need to press your seams to one side to use this type of ruler, but boy is useful.  They come in a variety of sizes too (I bought mine from the Fat Quarter Shop and am, sadly, getting no kick backs from anyone for this plug).  Trimming HSTs makes each block perfect and easy to sew into a quilt top.  The ruler I used was 6 1/2" and my HST squares finished at 6".

I finished piecing the top this afternoon, which happens to be a perfect, windy autumn day.
I have some soft flannel for a cozy backing fabric.  I just hope I get a chance to finish this quilt before fall flies by. 

Friday, November 1, 2013

Busy City Baby Quilt

I just finished up this Busy City baby quilt.  I made it to be a shop sample. With just five bocks, it really is very quick to make.  You can customize the quilt by choosing which five, of the 35 total blocks, you want to use.
I experimented with using small scale, tone on tone prints, instead of all solids.  I like the texture the grass print adds to the quilt.  And look at the cute little star on the police car!
I had some fun with the quilting, which I did free motion. The negative space in this pattern gives you some room to play.
I'm seeing Busy City patterns pop up in more and more shops.  You can now find it at and i don't do dishes on etsy and coming soon to Marmalade and Shop Cucire.  It is still available at Pink Chalk, Hyggeligt and our local stores Bernina on Metcalf and Sarah's in Lawrence.  Feel free to ask for Empty Bobbin patterns at your local quilt shop, if they don't already carry them.

Update: Busy City is now available as a digital download.  Purchase the PDF from Empty Bobbin here.