A Tale of Many Dots

A couple of years ago I bought this fabric because I really liked it:

Since it was pre-printed fat quarters (FQs), I planned to use it in a pattern designed for FQs.  I added a couple of fabrics that I thought went well with it.  Until I saw it sewn together:

I didn’t like the quilt top once I got it made, so I took out every single seam and set the pieces aside to think about.

I took out the fabrics I had added, thinking perhaps they were the problem.  That helped a little.  However, I decided the dots needed some solid mixed with them.  I took them on a shopping trip with friends and we selected a nice red-orange to mix with them.  Then I re-made the quilt including some of the red-orange.

I still didn’t like it.  And call me lazy if you like, but I was not going to take those pieces apart again!  So, with a what-the-heck attitude, I cut the new top up into circles (big dots!) using my dinner and salad plates as templates.

I pinned various potential backgrounds on the design wall and tried them out.

I think some variation of this is going to be the final design.  Maybe not the greatest ever, but nobody died, so I’m moving on!

I Digress…To Leaf Pounding

One of the things I love about quilting is that there is an endless supply of things to learn.  That often means that I get sidetracked onto something different, but that’s OK.

Several years go I took a class in leaf pounding but I never did anything with the results (sound familiar to anyone out there?)  I recently found the prints, still looking pretty good, in my DO SOMETHING box and decided to get busy.

Here is the first, a sycamore leaf that was pounded onto Kona PFD (fabric prepared for dying).

After the fabric dried, I outlined the leaf with a brown Pigma pen.  When I took it out recently I used cotton batting and muslin backing, spray basted it, and quilted it freehand.  I used my Bernina Stitch Regulator (BSR) and found it worked quite well for this purpose.  (I haven’t been so happy with the BSR on larger projects–as a friend once told me, “It’s like training wheels”, meaning it’s just too slow on something big.) However, I was pleased with the way the BSR worked it on this little piece.

Here’s a detail, showing some of the unevenness created when part of the leaf “stuck” to the fabric more than the rest of it.  I figure nature isn’t perfect so I’m not worrying about it.

If you want to try leaf pounding, there’s a tutorial here.

And now the question:  How should I finish this?  I don’t think binding would look right.  I have seen leaf pounding pieces framed, so I guess I could mount and frame it.  Edge finish with brown satin rat-tail?  Face the piece?  Other ideas?  Thanks, as always, for your suggestions!

Two Quilts for the Price of Two…

Earlier in the year I ran across this pattern and was intrigued by how different it is from any quilt I’d ever made.

Photo courtesy of Shabby Fabrics and Krista Moser

I’ll try darn near anything, so I bought the pattern and made the quilt.  I almost never buy the fabric used in the original quilt, but I did this time, which is why I say two quilts for the price of two. There wasn’t much in stash that I could use since the design depends on a large number of different colors of ombre fabric.

I love the result!  The pattern was well written and the illustrations were clear.  My only complaint is that the pattern “requires” a particular ruler.  The ruler is expensive and specialized.  I didn’t foresee a lot of use for it, so I didn’t buy it.  I improvised a template, and that worked OK.  Likely the quilt would have been easier with the ruler, but I have my limits!

Here’s a closeup of the hexies quilted by Julia Madison (with gold thread, of course!).

If you go to Krista’s website you can see several other pictures of her quilt, but be warned that you, too, may want to make it!

Here are the quilt stats:

Ombre Blossoms

The finished quilt measures 57 “x 71”

Pattern by Krista Moser, available here

Machine Quilted by Julia Madison

Fabrics are Moda ombre confetti dot metallic

There was fabric left, so I made it all into half-square triangles (HSTs) with black. That allowed so many design possibilities that I dithered for a while a long time.  This was the final decision:

And here is a closeup of the fun quilting done by Julia Madison:

I love this quilt, too.  I used my Tucker Trimmer to make the HSTs, and it is one tool I consider worth the money.  I’ve used a wide variety of tools to make HSTs, and this is my favorite.  (And no, I do not have sponsorship from Tucker Tools!)

Here are the quilt stats:

HST Tumble

Finished size 54″ x 54″

Pattern by me

Machine quilted by Julia Madison

Fabric: Moda ombre confetti dot metallic, and black Cotton Couture by Michael Miller

 

 

Two Threads for Machine Quilting

Quite a while ago one of my blogging friends (was it you, Clare?) commented that gold quilting thread blends well on most any quilt top, so I tried it. Here’s one quilted for me by Julia Madison. It has gold in it, of course, but I thought the gold thread worked out quite well. It shows up on the solid fabric but blends with the prints.

Same here:

I didn’t realize I used gold in my quilts so often!

On this more recent quilt, I asked Julia to use a thread recommended by another blogging friend, Elizabeth.  It is 40 weight polyester but looks metallic.  If you’ve ever tried quilting with metallic thread, you know what a find this is!  Julia said she had no trouble quilting with it.  Here’s what it looks like on the quilt:

Meanwhile, I made a Christmas table runner for a class I’m going to teach.  I quilted it myself using another recent find, InvisaFil thread. This thread is very thin, intended to show the quilting but not necessarily the stitches.  I did some stitch in the ditch with it and found it much better for that purpose than regular thread I have used in the past.  I also did some quilting that was meant to show, and that worked out equally well.

I will continue to use many other threads for quilting, but I’m pleased with these two new ones.  What thread do you quilt with?

Lattice Quilt

This design has been around forever and I’ve seen many versions of it, some even published as patterns.Anyway, I decided to teach it as a design-your-own quilt class, since I think the size of the center squares really should depend on the size of the prints you are using.  I made a handout to help each person design his/her own blocks, so I’m sharing the details with you.  All these drawings were made using Electric Quilt 8, which allows for easy export of the picture.

Here is the basic block:

The only trick is to make the block square.  The center is a rectangle, and the size of the side strips has to make the block square.  So, for example, if you cut a center rectangle 3.5″ x 5.5″ (to finish 3″ x 5″), your side strips need to be cut 5.5″ x 1.5″ each so the block (unfinished) will measure 5.5″ x 5.5″ and the finished block will be 5″ square.  Whew!

Actually, it’s easy.  We all drew our blocks (finished size) out on graph paper and remembered to add 0.5″ seam allowance in each direction before cutting each piece!

When the blocks are made, lay them out in a row, alternating directions. This forms the lattice. Two rows look like this:

And when a border is added, all the blocks are “closed” and you have a complete lattice.

And yes, the outer edge will vary in width after the addition of the border.  That’s all part of the fun. The blocks appear to float as they alternate directions.

You can vary the look of the quilt considerably by changing the proportions of the lattice and the central rectangles:

I think this design works especially well with a collection of related fabrics, and one woman brought Christmas fabrics to class:

Another brought fabrics with a camping theme:

This is an easy quilt.  It can be chain pieced easily and the blocks can be trimmed before joining if necessary.

Now, go make one and send me a picture of it!

A Triangular Kraft-Tex Box

Some time ago I saw a little triangular container that someone was using to hold notions, and I made a mental note that it would be fun to make one.

Only problem was that it obviously involved sewing 2 fabrics right sides together, leaving an opening, turning them, etc, etc.  I do not enjoy that process.

The idea stayed in my head, though, and a short while ago it occurred to me that I could make a similar box out of Kraft-Tex without the problem of having right and wrong sides to the material!  So I got out the Marsala color Kraft-Tex the folks at C&T sent me a while ago to give it a try.

I started with cutting a 10.5″ equilateral triangle because that’s the ruler I had!

I put a dot on the Kraft-Tex where each of the arrows points here

There was an embedded central triangle marked on the ruler, so I just put a little dot at each of the points of that to determine where my fold lines would be (see above).

I used my iron and handy metal straight edge to make good creases for the initial folds.

I clipped the edges together (no pins in Kraft-Tex)

and sewed about half way up each side using the blanket stitch on my machine.  It was necessary to squish the box a little to get this done, but it was easy to get it right back into shape.  The buttonhole stitch worked just fine, somewhat wider than the default setting.

I then folded the final “flaps” over the side and stuck them down with a little glue.  Another time I think I might roll these final edges down rather than folding them to give the box more dimension.

I considered sewing on the decorative buttons, but decided to use glue instead.  The type that is made for attaching “jewels” to fabric worked well and dried clear.

I think I may use the box for those little clips that have become indispensable for quilting! 

If you want to try this, it’s very easy.  If you don’t have an equilateral triangle ruler, borrow one from a friend or make a template from cardboard (mark dots at the center of each side).  And please send me a picture if you make one!

 

Two Finishes

I’m going to resurrect Terry Atkinson’s Lucky Stars quilt pattern as a Christmas or baby quilt class for October at Studio Stitch in Greensboro, so I’ve just made two new shop samples.  This is a great pattern because it is quick and easy to make and almost any mistake made during construction can be fixed without much difficulty.  Therefore, I thought people might enjoy making it as a gift quilt or Christmas quilt.

This is an older pattern, and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve made it for various recipients.  Here are my latest versions::

Quilt Name: Baby Stars

Size: 48” x 48”

Fabrics: assorted batiks left from other projects

Made by: me

Quilted by: me

Pattern: Lucky Stars by Atkinson Designs

Quilt Name: Christmas Stars

Size: 64″ x 81″

Fabrics:  Assorted Christmas yardage bought because I liked it

Made by: me

Quilted by: Julia Madison

Have you made a Christmas quilt yet this year?  It’s not too soon to start 😉

 

Scraps Happen, Part III

There is no shortage of patterns for scrap quilts, and often I start with a pattern I’ve found somewhere and modify it to suit me.  I have notebooks full of pictures from magazines and photos I’ve taken of vintage or show quilts, so I use those for inspiration.  Here is a quilt I made by modifying a pattern from a magazine I’d been saving for a long time:

You can find the original pattern for this quilt by going to AllPeopleQuilt.com and searching for the “trail mix” pattern

The above quilt was made from my husband’s old shirts–whether that counts as scraps or yardage is a matter of opinion 🙂

I have some favorite scrap patterns I’ve used repeatedly over the years.  This one, which I learned from Barbara Lenox many years ago, is intended to be made at the end of the year using scraps from all the projects you made that year.  I love that idea and have made several of these.  You can see my post explaining the basic block here.

Another favorite quilt pattern is Junk to Jems, by Linda J. Hahn.  Here is my version which has been modified a fair amount from the pattern.

One thing I love about this pattern is that it is possible to make the elements of each block then re-arrange them so that there are several different variations on the same block.  So yes, my version is not quite like hers.

Augusta Cole is another teacher whose scrap quilts I admire, and I have made several from her Snappy Scrappy Stars pattern.  This makes a great leaders-and-enders project for me and I often use the blocks in donation quilts.

This is a leaders-and-enders project from Augusta Cole’s Scrappy Snappy Stars pattern

Of course, often a quilt starts as a pattern and then veers off course (surprise!).  The quilt below started as a way to use both a linen background and a group of fabrics I had in small amounts.  The original pattern is one of Karla Alexander’s stack and shuffle designs, and you probably can see that if you know the pattern.  This is my variation.Alison Glass fabrics quilt

And finally, even when I buy fabric for a quilt, I often buy fat quarters, which pretty much guarantees a scrappy look.  And I don’t really like making the same block twice, so often I make a variety of blocks for a single quilt.  Here is one last example of a quilt made from a fat quarter bundle, though it appears scrappy.

The pattern is Bermuda Sunset, another one by Linda Hahn.

A friend who is a writer mentioned the other day that her stories sometimes take on a life of their own and lead where she didn’t expect to go.  She asked if my quilts do that, too.  Absolutely!  Start out headed for A, end up at Q!

It’s all good. 🙂

Scraps Happen, Part II

Many of my scrap quilts are inspired by other quilters.  I still find it useful to start with a collection of fabrics I think “go together”.  In that regard, I do NOT worry about color per se, though I recognize that color is a big “bugaboo” for many quilters.  I do find it useful to decide at the outset whether the quilt is to be bright or muted colors, but beyond that I don’t worry much.  And of course I break that rule sometimes, too.

One of my first inspired-by-others adventures was a series of quilts I made after reading Gwen Marston’s books.  I just love her aesthetic, and wish I had been able to take a class with her while she was alive.  Here is a quilt I made for the Quilt Alliance annual contest a few years ago, based on Gwen’s published quilts:

improvisational quilt

“Gwen Visits the Farm” is a quilt I made for the Quilt Alliance contest; the black fabric has words representing animal sounds such as “quack”

I also used a collection of Cherrywood scraps to make this quilt based on Gwen’s “liberated log cabin” idea:

improvisational quilt

Cherrywood Toss, 59″ x 61″, 2016.  My favorite part of this was making the background out of a mixture of dark colors.

Also, taking a cue from my friend who makes a small art quilt each week, I made these 3 quilts based on lessons in one of Gwen’s books:

I continue to learn from the quilters I consider “the best” by making quilts inspired by their ideas.  A recent one was inspired by Maria Shell’s tutorial on improvised flying geese:

The colors of the quilt blended with the colors of my chimney, where I stuck it up to be photographed

Of course, not all such experiments are particularly successful.  I love Freddy Moran’s aesthetic, but this table runner based on her ideas didn’t turn out very well, in my opinion.  I expect to make more things using her ideas, and they’ll improve 🙂

I designed and made this runner for a guild challenge

Since, at this point in my quilting career, most of my fabric collection is scraps, there will be many more scrap quilts to come!  Next week I’ll discuss how I use scraps in quilts made from patterns.

 

 

Scraps Happen, Part I

When I mentioned recently that I was making a basket to hold scraps as I work on a project, my blogging friend Elizabeth asked how I decide what to do with the scraps.  This first post will be about how I design scrap quilts; the second in the series will be about how I use inspiration from other quilters; the third will be about how I modify published patterns for scrap quilts.

My first improvised scrap quilt was made close to 20 years ago.  I absolutely just starting sewing scraps together and kept it up until I had a collection of blocks.  The scraps were all from an Amish-style quilt I had made, which kept the blocks cohesive.

improvisational blocks

I then added 2 shades of yellow for sashing.

improvisational quilt

Nothing Is Wasted, my first improvisational quilt, 2001-2002

Using scraps from a single project is one way to be sure the scraps all play well together, assuming the fabrics were well coordinated in the original project.  After making the quilt below for Modern Quilts Unlimited with some yummy Cotton Couture fabrics provided by Michael Miller…

quilt photo

My Zippy Star Quilt and Pillow as shown in Modern Quilts Unlimited, Summer 2014

I started sewing all my tiny scraps together and added a tiny paper-pieced star to make a donation quilt for the Quilt Alliance annual contest:

scrap quilt

Confetti Star, 20″ x 20″, 2014.  Some of these pieces finish less than 1/4″ square

I then started combining scraps of a single color to make blocks.  I called them “slabs”, since the idea of making single-color scrap blocks came from Cheryl Arkison (though hers are much more orderly than mine).  Here is one example of a quilt made from these single-color blocks:

On at least one occasion I decided a collection of yellow and orange scrap blocks were booooring, so I cut them up and inserted some bright blue before combining them in a quilt:Improvisational quilt, orange and blue quilt

Sometimes I am “forced” to design a new quilt because the scrap bins are overflowing.  When the strip bins got out of hand last spring, I designed this quilt.  The idea of putting a circle in the alternate blocks came from my friend Jerri.  The triangle blocks were because I have a 60 degree triangle ruler 🙂

Machine applique of these circles was done after the quilting, so there was no need for further stabilizer

On another occasion, some friends and I had way too many 2.5″ blocks, so we developed these blocks and set them on point.  That quilt hung around for a long time “needing something”.  Eventually I added a central motif, and here it is:

The petals were fused on with Heat’n’Bond, and then I buttonhole stitched around them

Another design process I like to use is to simply fill a piece of batting with scraps.  For the table runners shown below, I selected a group of fabrics for the top and a piece of backing fabric about 6″ longer and wider than the finished runner.  I spray basted the batting to the backing, then started filling the space on the batting with pieces of fabric from my collection. I didn’t sew them down until I had a whole section done, since this type of designing involves cutting off bits here and there to keep edges even.

modern table runner

Here is one of the samples for my improvised table runner class

improvisational quilt

I have taught this method as a class, but it proved to be too unstructured for some people, who really just wanted to make my runner.  I continue to use the method for myself but have not attempted to teach it to others again!

So, in response to the question of my process for designing scrap quilts, it’s really just “by the seat of my pants”.  I do start with a collection of fabrics I like together, but otherwise it’s sew first, plan later.  What I’m not showing, of course, is all the “fizzles” that got thrown out along the way!

Please stay tuned for Part II, scrap quilts inspired by other quilters.  And go visit Elizabeth, who inspired this post!