Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Hexie Zip Bag

English paper piecing is probably my favorite type of hand sewing. It's just so portable, perfect for scraps, and cute. Of course it stops being portable when you try to make something large, so the two panels necessary for this sweet zip bag were just right to my way of thinking.

The pattern I used to make the bag is the Perfect Zip Bag by Elizabeth Hartman. You can make it with a pieced panel or without. It is my go-to pattern for zip bags because of the method she uses for inserting the zipper and covering the zipper ends. Perfect every time.

I was trying to decide who would appreciate this sort of gift, and I think it has to be a quilter, don't you? I'm going to surprise a special woman via post this week.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Placemats for Meals on Wheels

At Thanksgiving I finished up the final placemat for my charity sewing project for 2018. This paper pieced pumpkins block is a free pattern in my Craftsy shop, by the way. The block had been sitting around for quite a while, so I added some cute flying geese to round it out to placemat size and quilted it simply with straight lines.

Today I rolled up all my placemats (made from leftover blocks, improv panels, and binding scraps), tied them with candy canes, and dropped them off at my local branch of Meals on Wheels to be given to home bound seniors with a holiday meal. I hope they make the recipients feel special. I didn't meet my personal goal as far as the number I hoped to make, but there's always next year, right?

Friday, November 9, 2018

Ketchikan Throw Quilt in Jacquie's Favorite Bundle of Painter's Palette Solids

I am excited to share the quilt I made with Jacquie's Favorites bundle of Painter's Palette Solids from Paint Brush Studio. This post corresponds to a giveaway this weekend over on my Instagram account, so head over if you'd like to enter for a chance to win a kit.

This was my first time working with Painter's Palette fabrics. These solids are so soft without being thin. The weight is just perfect for quilting.

Some of you may recognize this throw quilt as my Ketchikan Quilt pattern. Isn't it cheerful in this rainbow of colors? I used just a few blocks from the pattern and arranged them in a new way to make a smaller version of the quilt.

I chose the darkest blue from the bundle as my background. It is called Marine.

Jacquie Gering designed and made this modern Whirlygig quilt with her bundle. A free pattern can be found for it on Painter Brush Studio's website.
The giveaway for the Whirlygig quilt kit is open until Sunday evening, so be sure to enter in time or stop by Teresa's instagram page next Friday for another chance to win a kit.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Tara's Shattered Chevrons Bed Runner

It's so fun to be able to share a completely different take on the same pattern as the last post: the Shattered Chevrons pattern from Improvising Tradition. Tara of Quilter's Stash, made this lovely bed runner version. I think the chevron design is so effective in this long, thin arrangement.

I also love the fabrics Tara chose. This isn't a color scheme I have ever used, but I think I will. It feels autumnal, but I think it will work throughout the year too.

The quilting is fabulous as well!

Thanks so much letting me share your work Tara!

Monday, October 15, 2018

Nancy's Shattered Quilt

I was delighted to see Nancy's version of Shattered Chevrons Quilt from Improvising Tradition, and I'm so pleased she agreed to let me share it with you. I love the combination of green fabrics she chose. The lime stands out so nicely against the Peppered Cotton background. The quilt is a wedding gift for a couple who met as dancers on the set of the musical Wicked, so the color scheme takes its inspiration from the show, which such a neat way to personalize it.

If you looks closely you can see Tia Curtis' custom quilting which are lyrics from the couple's favorite songs. Don't you love the lime thread she used? It really is such a special quilt. 

Check out Nancy's Instagram page for more shots of her quilts and cute twins.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Quilt As You Go Coasters

It's fun to pull out your own book to make a project. These are the Jewel Box Coasters from Improvising Tradition. It's so nice to have the quilt math done already by the pattern.

The center of each coaster is improv pieced strata, although really, you could put anything you like in the center, including a fussy cut square or a miniature block like the hour glass I used in this coaster set. The outer frame is pieced quilt-as-you-go. It's a simple technique that works perfectly for projects which can be made turn and flip.
As the pattern specifies, I used a layer of Insul-Bright and a layer of batting, which gives the coasters a nice weight as well as real heat protection. They really stand up on their own, and who really wants a floppy coaster, after all?
The pattern makes four coasters, but I doubled it to make a nice matching set of eight. I like that each coaster is unique because of the improv centers, but they still go together as a set.
The coaster set is a great host gift, although I'm contemplating making another eight and keeping these.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Finishing a Comfort Quilt

In my previous post I covered the first steps to take to make a memory quilt. Once you're ready to create the quilt, keep a few things in mind. First, remember that the fabrics are what makes the quilt special, so pick a design that makes them the star. Using large blocks is a good strategy for creating both a fast finish and a design that allows the fabrics to be the main feature. The blocks I created are about 26 inches square, so just nine blocks makes a good sized throw quilt.
Two, with the purpose of the quilt in mind, add to the comfort factor with both the backing and the quilting style. Select a cozy backing fabric. I picked a soft flannel. You may want to quilt minimally to maintain a soft drape to the quilt, as I did. As a bonus, simple straight line quilting about every two inches is also quick to do.
Consider the feature fabrics as your select the finishing touch of the binding. Often the clothing scraps will not be large enough for binding strips, so choose a complimentary fabric. I think this mini check blends well with the other shirting fabrics.
I hope the quilt will bring up a lot of fond memories and offer some tangible comfort.
My quilt design was inspired by this fabulous quilt by Shea. Although I was unable to find the block name or a pattern, it only required some simple quilt math. I have saved you the trouble if you want to follow the instructions below.

For each block you will need:
(4) 8 1/2 squares fabric A
(1) 8 1/2 square fabric B
(1) 12 5/8 square fabric C cut twice diagonally into (4) triangles
(2) 6 5/8 squares fabric C cut once diagonally into (4) triangles

Cutting the triangles from the squares as directed rather than individually means there will be no bias edges on the outside edge of the block. Best!

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Ketchikan Quilt Pattern Release

I am pleased to share with you the Ketchikan Quilt pattern today. It has been a long time in the making! This queen sized quilt is the largest I have ever created, and the pattern, while easy to make, was quite involved to write. Each foundation pieced block is 22 inches, with a couple of setting blocks to make the sashing more distinctive. The thirteen page pattern includes fabric requirements, cutting and piecing instructions, printable foundation templates, a construction diagram, and a coloring sheet of the block to play with your own color placement.

Paper pieced blocks are perfect for scraps, as the pieces are generally small. They are also great for fussy cuts. I included some cute fussy cut centers for the stars. I made each block with different scraps but kept my palette to black, white, and grey. The large expanse of white background is meant to invoke the snowy expanse of the northern frontier, which was the inspiration for the quilt. It makes me think of stars and arrows, two critical means of survival.

I love how the feel of the quilt completely changes with different uses of fabric and color. My pattern tester, Kelly, chose a colorful print for the background and coordinating prints for the stars, arrows, chevrons, and stripes. It is so fun and cheerful.

Alissa worked with a woven background and an ombre solid. This gives the block a lot of depth and subtlety. Love it.

You can find the pattern in my Craftsy store, and I would love to see your version of the #ketchikanquilt

Monday, July 16, 2018

How to Start Making a Memory Quilt

When a family member passed away suddenly last year, I had the reaction so many quilters do. I wanted to give the widow something handmade. I thought a quilt made from her late husband's shirts would be a tangible way to remember him and to offer comfort. This is my first time making such a special quilt, so I thought I'd offer my thoughts on the process for those considering making one too.

The first step in making a memory quilt is simply to offer to do so. Understand that the bereaved may have very different reactions to your offer, however kindly meant. They may not want to keep the old clothing around or to even have the daily reminder presented by such a quilt, at least for a while. They may not be able to let go of the clothing for some time. Simply offer and let them get back to you when they are ready.
The next step is to obtain the old clothing from the bereaved, which can be difficult for those grieving. Some people may want to go through each item and share its significance, while some may not be able to bear looking at it. You may find going through the clothing emotional too. Take your time. Once you have the clothing, you will need to be selective about which items or types of material to use. For example, some quilters are happy to work with knits, while I prefer to stick to woven cotton clothing. I suggest you avoid mixing different types of fabrics in a single quilt because they will wear differently. A larger selection of clothing items is best, as it will allow you to choose those that will work best together in your quilt design. You can always offer to return any unused items, although the bereaved may prefer any leftovers be donated. Be sure to ask.

How many items of clothing will you need? It will depend on the size of the quilt and the pattern you choose. I suggest you make these choices based on what clothing times you receive, instead of the the way around. Let the bereaved give you what they want, rather than dictating what you need. See what you can make with what they offer. Maybe it's only enough for a pillow or a set of pillows for a sibling group. That's fine. Maybe it will be enough for a throw or a twin quilt. Since it is primarily for comfort, I chose to make a throw quilt.

When you have chosen the clothing items you will use, you will need to deconstruct each item. This can be a sad process, but I promise it gets easier as you start thinking about the snuggley quilt to come. After contemplating using a seam ripper to take apart a large stack of dress shirts, I quickly realized I would be better off cutting the seams out. It's much quicker, and the fabric in the seams is often less faded that the rest of the shirt or hopelessly marred by thread holes. I cut off collars and cuffs and discarded them, but you may wish to preserve pockets if you want to feature them in your design. Once the clothing has been cut into usable pieces of fabric, press it well. Using starch makes cutting and piecing even more precise later.
As you think about the design of the quilt, it may be a good idea to ask the bereaved about their preferences. You may show them a few examples of quilts you have enjoyed making in the past or easy patterns they can see online. I was fortunate to have been given free rein to make whatever design I thought best, but I suggest you select a simple pattern that will both allow the fabrics to be the focus and can be completed fairly quickly. You want to give the quilt as a comfort as soon as you can, after all.
I welcome your experience and advice on making memory quilts, and read more in my next post about Finishing a Memory Quilt.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

The Morse Code Quilt

I get a little thrill every time I come across a quilt or project made from one of my patterns. I suspect every designer does. I found this Morse Code Quilt on Instagram because its maker, Andrea, included the hashtag #improvisingtradition which is a great way to add your work to a group of other quilts from the same book,designer, or pattern, FYI.
I appreciate how the dramatic background sets off the cool colors. Check out Andrea's other sewing projects and great photos on her Instagram page. Thanks for sharing Andrea!
photo by Joe Hancock
To my surprise, when I tried to find my original post about this quilt to add the link, I discovered there was none. I never posted about this quilt. Really? Well, better four years late that never, right? The Morse Code Quilt is in the sewing with strips section of Improvising Tradition, and it is a super simple throw sized quilt, great for quilters new to improv. The varying sizes of the strips reminds me of the dots and dashes of morse code. As you can see, I chose warm colors in contrast to Andrea's cool palette. Both work beautifully with grey.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Re-purposing Prototypes

These placemats started out as prototypes for the By the Fireside Pillow from Improvising Tradition. I don't know about you, but I'm just about at capacity for throw pillows around here (not that I'm promising to abstain from making more, mind you). Consequently, I was happy to re-purpose the tops into placemats. A simple trim down to 14 x 18, and they fit the bill beautifully.
I've quilted each placemat differently. Look how effective a simple all over square meander can be, even on a geometric design.
On the other I played up the geometric design by quilting the sections differently to make each stand out.
This pair of placemats brings my total number of placemats for Meals on Wheels to 10 which  is halfway to my goal of 20 by December. If you want to join me, add #placemats4mow to your social media posts to share.