About zippyquilts

I quilt for pleasure but I also teach and write about quilting.

Can This Quilt Be Saved?

Ha! Many, many years ago there was a column in a women’s magazine called, “Can This Marriage Be Saved?” I have no memory of reading the content, but somehow the overly-dramatic title has stuck with me. (I just asked Ms. Google, and I’m not the only one who remembers this: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/can-this-marriage-be-saved_b_58404189e4b0b93e10f8dfdf)

Anyway, in moving I have come across some experimental pieces that I’ve kept. I learned something from each of them, but sometimes what I learned was that a particular piece was not especially attractive!

Well, this didn’t work

The above piece was an experiment after reading a book by Freddy Moran. It’s well made but not especially attractive. For me, the colors don’t “gel” and the prairie points are entirely too regular in their arrangement.

This unquilted piece, approximately 42″ square, is the THIRD attempt to make something with these dotted fabrics! The other versions were no better, but I’ve saved some of the fabric by cutting out circles and using them as applique.

Rescued Dots

I think the “rescue” was pretty successful, and I’ll probably do something similar with the rest of this fabric. So I guess that’s 4 iterations of a design with those dots before finding something successful! 

And then there’s the Stuffed Olive Block. Never mind why I designed it in the first place. I made it into a pillow, but really, we have more than enough pillows. I think it just has to go!

I’m a firm believer that no experience is wasted, so we’ll call it good even if some of these just go out with the trash.

Of course that’s nowhere near all the experimental pieces I came across, but that’s all for now 😀

P.S.: I enjoy seeing “barn quilt” blocks as we travel, but this one struck me as unlikely:

 

 

Cheater stripes!

Studio Stitch has had this beautiful striped fabric for several months and I’ve been wondering what I could do with it.

Then I found this pattern: Oriana by Alison Glass. It’s intended to be made with strip sets, but it was just perfect for this fabric!

Those sharp points weren’t the easiest thing to do, but I love the way they worked out.

I made this quilt with just part of the number of circles called for, and it finished at 47″ x 48″.

I’ve loaned the quilt to Studio Stitch to display, and I’ve written a “cheat sheet” for them. If you  want to use striped fabric instead of making strip sets, they’ll give you a copy when you buy the pattern, which they have in stock. (I’m not sure it’s on their website, but you can phone them at 336-288-9200.)

And here’s a money saver: Alison had intended to have templates available, but COVID has held that up. This means all you have to do is trace her printed templates (in the pattern) onto LARGE sheets of template plastic and make your own. That really was pretty easy.

So of course when I went to Studio Stitch to show them the quilt, they had this new fabric in…

Just sayin’ 😀

Woo! The Book I’ve Been Waiting For!

I’m a fan of Cindy Grisdela’s work and have gone through the exercises in her previous book, so I was thrilled when C&T sent me Cindy’s new book for review. Adventures in Improv Quilts covers the basics of design and color, but includes some more complex quilts than her previous book. Some of them remind me of Maria Shell, whose book I also love.

Photo courtesy of C&T

Cindy’s colors are bright and interesting. She often combines colors I wouldn’t have thought to use together, which causes me to look twice at the design. That’s a plus!

Photo courtesy of C&T

The book includes plenty of detail on technique. I was especially amused (and gratified) to learn that part of Cindy’s design process is to outline the size for the quilt with blue tape on her design wall. I’ve done that for years and find it a very effective way to think about filling the space as I design. Validation is always nice!

Photo courtesy of C&T

The book includes a chapter on color choices, which will be welcomed by numerous quilters who worry endlessly about the “right” colors. I choose my palettes intuitively, with better results some times than others, so maybe I should pay more attention? I love the color examples in the book, starting with basic palettes and progressing to the addition of other colors or values to give the project variety.

Photo courtesy of C&T

Cindy then goes on to cover the basic principles of design. These won’t be news to most quilters, but her examples shine. I think I will go back to the “bits” left from working through her previous book and see if I can enhance them by using some of her examples from this book.

Photo courtesy of C&T

My favorite advice in the book: “Don’t fear wasting fabric”! That’s a liberating thought!

My second favorite is one of her tips for free-motion quilting, but I think it could apply to most any part of the process: “If you feel like you’ve made a mistake, keep going. Either ignore it or do it again so it becomes a design element.” I love that! I love this book!

The book is available here, but this is not an affiliate link. C&T sends me books for review, and I tell you about my very favorites among them.

 

A Send-Off for Some Donation Quilts

These quilts are leaving the closet for their forever homes via donation to various organizations.

Finished quilt is 58″ x 70″

This first quilt (above) is going to Freedom House in Greensboro, where they can use larger sized quilts.

 And these three are going to Ronald McDonald House in Cincinnati, where they request all quilts be 40″ square.

This first one is made from orphan blocks, from which I cut circles to be appliqued on the pre-quilted background. I just did meandering on the background, then used machine applique for the circles.

This green one was made from triangle swap blocks done with friends during the past year. The quilting gave me a lot of trouble; I think that was because I used Hobbs 80/20 batting that I’m not used to.

And this final one was a practice piece for a quilt I designed for Studio Stitch.

There! That cleared out the quilt closet a little! On to the next project…

An Easy Spin

I’ve made several “one block wonder” or “stack and whack” quilts, but when my friend Elisabeth was teaching a stack and whack star at Studio Stitch, I had a hard time not signing up for it. These quilts are so interesting!

Instead, I resurrected the “4-patch posy” idea. I did that pattern years ago, too, and it was fun. I’ve since found another version of it, though I’m sorry to say I can’t find the link any more 😦

I made the 4-patch posy using some Laurel Burch fabric I’ve had forever, and it was a hit! My grandson went right over to it and started looking as soon as he came into the studio.

This was so much fun that I’m going to teach it in January.

Here are the quilt stats:

Name: Rumble in the Jungle

Finished size: 54″ x 54″

Design: Variation of 4-patch posy

Quilted by: Elisabeth Pugh

Saved! Sort of.

Today is Grandparents’ Day, in case you didn’t know. So, along those lines…I’ve found things during our move that I swear I’ve never seen before, though of course that’s unlikely. One such item was a very large damask tablecloth, probably linen.

I thought it had belonged to my grandmother, who was very much into fancy tables. (We’re talking multiple sets of china, flatware, etc.) However, the monogram marked it as having belonged to my great-grandmother, Ida Miller Ownbey (1862-1923).

Despite the beauty of the cloth and the handwork, there were several holes in it, and too many Sunday dinner leftovers to save it.

I threw it in the trash.

THEN I needed to spray baste a small quilt. I retrieved the tablecloth and used it to cover the garage floor for the procedure. Ha!

I was so glad it wasn’t wasted. May we all be so useful at age 100!

 

Sunrise

Here’s the last finish of August, made of HST (half square triangle) blocks left over from another project.

And here it is held out the window for me to photograph! I thought it would be fun to have my husband stand on the landing half way up the stairs and hold the quilt out the window. And it was fun!

Quilt Stats

Name: Sunrise

Design by: me

Finished size: 50″ x 75″

Quilted by: Julia Madison

And just in case you asked, the quilt isn’t upside down in either picture. It’s ambidirectional–is that even a word?

Stars Again

I’ve probably made more stars than any other type of quilt block. For some reason the design just appeals to me. Here’s the latest.

The original inspiration was this quilt called “Scrappy Stars II”, found on Pinterest. The post from which it was pinned is here.  I also found a similar pattern, called “Night Sky”, at the Missouri Star Quilt Company, here.

I didn’t care for the way it was arranged and I wanted to make it bigger anyway, so I redesigned it. First I drew the basic idea in EQ8, as I had found it on Pinterest, but with a border added.

HST Stars, drawn in EQ8 as a starting point for my design. Sources in preceding text.

I used this drawing to lay out my HSTs (half-square triangle blocks). Then I started adding rows and fiddling with the design. This was during the time we were in temporary housing, so there was a LOT of running up and down stairs to view the design from the loft. It was extremely easy to get pieces turned the wrong way!

The back is a sheet I got at my favorite thrift shop.

Quilt Stats

Design based on two sources noted above

Finished size: 78″ x 53″

Quilted by: Julia Madison

More Stars

Lucky Stars by Atkinson Designs is one of my all-time favorite quilt patterns because it is so clever. It uses fat quarters and makes lovely stars without the need to worry about cutting off the points!

I don’t recall how many quilts I’ve made from this pattern, but here’s another one. It’s made with the fossil fern fabrics I’ve collected over the years for no particular reason other than a love for those fabrics. Hoping to use them up, I made the back out of my scraps.

Julia Madison quilted it with stars and loops–perfect!

Quilt Stats:

Pattern: Lucky Stars by Alex Anderson

Fabric: Benartex Fossil Ferns

Finished size: 59″ x 44″

Quilted by: Julia Madison

Pattern available here. As always, this is not an affiliate link; it is just for your convenience.

Two Lovely Beginner Books

I am charmed by a couple of new little books for beginners in sewing or quilting.

Jump Into Patchwork and Quilting is an approachable introduction to quilting. It is not completely basic, as it assumes you have a sewing machine and know how to use it. However, it covers basic information about quilting, including fabric selection, batting, basting, and so forth.

I found the level of detail exactly right. For example, there is a well-illustrated explanation of how to use a rotary cutter safely, without getting into the eternal debate about whether it’s OK to use the lines on your mat for measuring.

The book begins with easy projects and proceeds to a final sampler quilt. This seems to me an encouraging way to teach a beginner to quilt, as these earlier projects can be completed fairly quickly. Here’s part of the Table of Contents showing some of the projects:

Photo courtesy of C&T

The final project is a typical beginner sampler quilt. It is done in cheerful colors and has a modern look while using some traditional prints. I like the combination, which should allow those drawn to both traditional and modern type quilts to enjoy the project.

Phot courtesy of C&T

The one additional thing I would have liked to see in this book is encouragement to allow for mistakes. There is the usual explanation of the importance of a consistent 1/4″ seam, but it would be nice to see acknowledgment that even “imperfect” blocks can be beautiful.

This would be a great book for a series of classes, or for teaching a friend to make quilts. It is available here.

Jump Into Sewing is bright and cheerful without being childish. There are many useful illustrations.  It starts with “Anatomy of a Sewing Machine”, which will be especially useful for those who may have inherited a sewing machine without knowing anything about it. There is a section of clear explanations on troubleshooting common machine sewing problems such as thread snarled on the top or bottom of the fabric.

Photo courtesy of C&T

The first project is an easy pillow. It gave me the idea of helping my 5-year-old make a pillow. He enjoyed decorating a tote bag and the pillow would be a fast project.

Photo courtesy of C&T

More advanced projects include making a buttonhole and putting in a zipper. The final project is a substantial-looking tote bag, which, like the other projects in the book, could be gender neutral.

Photo Courtesy of C&T

Jump Into Sewing is available here.

The book does not offer any information about garment construction, though of course the techniques would transfer. I hope this new series will progress to “Jump Into Garment Sewing” in the future.

These are fun books that make me think of the non-sewers on my holiday list 😉

P.S.: The links above are for your convenience; they are not affiliate links from which I make money.