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.