About zippyquilts

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

Christmas 2020

Our neighborhood was lucky to get a visit from Santa on a warm afternoon.  Everyone wore masks, because we can’t risk Santa getting you-know-what!

I hope your holiday preparations are going equally well!

And it’s back to quilts next week–I just couldn’t resist because this is so 2020.

Designing to Avoid Intersecting Seams

My friend Chela asked about designing to avoid intersecting seams.  The goal is to make a quilt less “fussy” to construct. Here are 3 ways to do that. Thanks for the idea, Chela!

One of the easiest ways to avoid intersecting seams is to move alternate rows over 1/2 block. This can create interesting designs that you wouldn’t have suspected if you hadn’t tried it!

My most recent example is a quilt I designed for Studio Stitch:

Lightening. Read about it in last week’s post if you like.

Of course, many traditional patterns depend on the blocks lining up exactly to create visual interest.  They might not benefit from shifting half a block!  Just look at this:

Another favorite way to avoid obvious intersections is to partially frame blocks so that they appear offset. The intersections get lost in the background and the design is much more interesting. One of my favorite examples of this is the BQ2 pattern by Maple Island Quilts. 

I taught a class with this pattern and called it “Easier Than It Looks” because it is! The design looks complex but in reality it is just a matter of framing and rotating blocks. Here’s the quilt I made as a sample for the class:

Another example of partially framed blocks is my recent “Little Jewels” quilt:

And good news!  I tracked down the origin of this design and you can find instructions for it free on this website.

Here is an example of one block.

The “trick” is that each block is framed on two sides, making it asymmetrical.  Then alternate blocks are rotated 180 degrees so that any sense of quilt rows is lost!  Make a couple of scrap blocks and try it–it’s magic!  In truth, there are the usual intersections between blocks but the corners are almost impossible to see 😀

Finally, making blocks of different sizes certainly can be used to avoid intersecting seams. I consider this a design-as-you-go process and it does take both time and confidence, but it works well.  Here is one I made ages ago:

art quilt, gwen marston

Refrigerator quilt inspired by Gwen Marston. Bev Manus came up with the idea for refrigerator quilts.  Finished size 12″ x 12″

And here are some recent blocks up on the design wall to test a potential background fabric:

These blocks are all the same size (will finish 6″) but the sashing will be variable.  I’m setting them in vertical rows with variable distances between the rows, and variable distances between the blocks within each row!  No way will there be anything to line up 😀

Have a good week and share any tricks you have to avoid fussy intersections!

A Few Favorite Christmas Patterns

If you put up a Christmas tree at your home, the tree skirt probably is part of the fun. Because of that, I thought I’d feature a couple of tree skirts I’ve made in the past few years. The patterns were fun and the only potentially difficult part of the construction was the need for bias binding on the scalloped edges.

Garden Gate Quilts
“Trees All Around”, class sample made from the pattern by Quilted Garden Designs

I love the tree skirt with Christmas trees!. Family members loved it, too, so I had to make more than one 😀 It was also a good way to use some of the Christmas fabrics I’ve been unable to resist! I used fusible applique, so it was pretty quick and easy.

Quilted Christmas tree skirt
Snowmen All Around, my class sample from a pattern by Quilted Garden Designs

A year of so later I found this additional tree skirt pattern by the same designer. I love it too, so of course I had to make it.

Which reminds me of this pattern, by Joni Pike, which I reduced to half size so our daughter could use it as a wall hanging rather than a lap quilt. The pattern is called “Frosty Flakes” #806, but I have been unable to find the publisher on the internet recently.

Frosty Flakes, Sew Special Designs

I loved this one, too. I guess, when it comes to winter holidays, I’m trapped in what my friend Elizabeth calls the “dungeon of cute”. So I’ll quit for now!

What cute stuff have you made for Christmas or other holidays?

10 Fun Items (that aren’t quilt books)

You probably know that I have loved getting to review quilt books for C&T this past year. What you may not know is that C&T has so much more than quilt books. Here are 10 of my favorites:

10. Diamond Star Quilts by Barbara H. Cline. It may look like a quilt book, but it’s actually a whole method for making those extremely elaborate-looking star quilts that most of us drool over. If you’ve been wanting to make one of those, this may be the tool for you.

9. Zakka Wool Applique by Minki Kim is full of very cute projects including baskets, bags, and home dec.  If you want to craft with “woolies” as my friends call them, this book has a number of cute and useful projects.

8. Kim Schaefer’s Calendar Candle Mats is a packet with full-size patterns for cute little mats made with fusible applique and embroidery.  She calls them candle mats, but I think they would be good mug rugs, too.  Presents for school teachers come to mind, and teachers certainly deserve gifts this year!

7. Who knew there was a puzzle book for quilters?!?  Yep, More Happy Quilter Variety Puzzles, Volume 3, is just such a book.  There are crosswords, logic puzzles, and more.

6. Everyday Embroidery for Modern Stitchers makes me want to take up embroidery again.  The book has iron-on transfer patterns included (I remember those from back in the day!).  The designs are intended to appeal to young people, but some of us “older” folks like them, too!

5.Botanical Embroidery, by Brian Haggard, is a packet with instructions and iron-on transfers for more traditional motifs.  The designs are gorgeous and would go especially well with heirloom projects. 

4. Bags!  C&T makes bags!  There’s everything from pouches to this large tote, all made from recycled water bottles.  They are water resistant and suitable for carrying things like pens and knitting needles that might poke through other bags.  Here’s the large holiday tote:

3.  The perfect hand applique paper, at last!  Oh, yes, it has every feature I want!  It is fusible on one side and, best of all, it is water soluble!  Yes!  Just iron it on, applique as usual, and the paper goes away when you wash your item.  This is some of the best news of the year for those of us who don’t like picking paper out of projects! 

2. The Foolproof Color Workbook is mostly a coloring book for adults with beautiful mandala-like designs to use for experimenting with color combinations.  It’s nice, but my very favorite color tool is the #1 item on this list.

And my #1: The Foolproof Color Wheel Set created by Katie Fowler is the best single tool I’ve seen for working with color.  There are 10 disks demonstrating the various ways in which colors can be combined (analogous, complementary, etc).  I like this because it simply cuts through all the color-related vocabulary that bogs people down (tints, shades, color triad, blah, blah) and provides concrete, visible examples. It is my favorite tool of the year.  If you struggle with choosing colors, I recommend it.

What is your favorite tool of the year?

A Quilt for A Man (or anyone)

It’s sometimes difficult to think of a quilt design to make for a man, and can be even more difficult to find fabrics that don’t seem too “girly” or cute. Leaving aside the options of fabrics featuring beer labels or half naked women, I thought muted blue and brown would be a good option.

And of course, Studio Stitch had the perfect fabric collection! Here’s the quilt:

And here’s a secret:  I used flannel (the 108″ wide backing flannel) for both the batting and the backing!  As you can see, it drapes beautifully.  An added advantage was that flannel sticks to itself pretty well, so there was no trouble with layers shifting when I quilted it.

Having made it, I wrote up the pattern for Studio Stitch. They will be offering it free with purchase. I don’t know details, so if you’re interested, go to  their website  and sign up for the newsletter and they’ll let you know.  (Newsletter signup is just below the big picture on the front page).

Have a good Thanksgiving and STAY SAFE!

Little Jewels

I found a quilt like this somewhere online, and you know I love improvised scrap quilts, so I just had to make it!  (Sadly, I have lost the link, so if you know where this came from originally, please let me know.)

It’s always a great idea to offset the intersecting seams!

My quilter was able to use Minky Dot for the backing and quilt it with no batting. That makes the quilt nice and cuddly without being too heavy.

I have been informed that the grandchildren prefer the quilts backed with polyester fleece for cuddling. The lighter weight of the quilt without batting also makes it ideal for dragging around the house or building forts and tents.

Polyester fleece can be a challenge to quilt because it stretches in at least one direction. The quilter told me that a midarm or long arm quilting machine does not have feed dogs, so stretching was not a problem, though the tension was a problem at times.  I suppose I could do free motion quilting with the feed dogs down on my domestic machine, but walking foot quilting might stretch the back.

Minky backing with no batting allows the quilt to drape nicely

Quilt stats:

Name: Quilted Jewels

Pattern source: anonymous picture on internet

Finished size: 46″ x 62″

Quilted by: Julia Madison

Another Scrap Quilt

This started as a “leaders and enders” project to intersperse a little play time with other projects. I cut some scraps into strips, joined the strips lengthwise, and cut across the strip sets to make multi-fabric strips.

The blocks finish 12″ square because I had a square ruler 12.5″ x 12.5″ at hand to trim them as I made them. They are set on point because “why not?”  The biggest challenge was making the setting triangles–of course it would be waaay too easy if one could just cut a regular block in half, but it doesn’t work that way!

If you want to know how to figure setting triangles, All People Quilt has an excellent chart that makes it easy. After starting with the chart, I recommend rounding up to the nearest inch (or centimeter).  The resulting triangle will fit into its space just fine but will stick out from the outer edge of the quilt.  Once the quilt is all sewn together you can just cut off the extra as you square up the top.

QUILT DETAILS

Name: Another Scrap Quilt

Finished size: 63” x 63”

Finished block size: 12” x 12”

Designed and pieced by me

Quilted by: Julia Madison

One thing I enjoy about scrap quilts is seeing lots of little bits from previous projects.  Some of those scraps are older than the age I feel 😀  

Perfect! A Book Review

If you have something but can’t find it, do you really have it?                              –Lilo Bowman

Love Your Creative Space, by Lino Bowman, turned out to be the perfect book at the perfect time for me.. When I read the sentence quoted above, it struck a nerve!

Photo courtesy of C&T

Here’s my stash of backing fabric before:

The fabric was folded and stacked, which made it hard to see.

I’m pretty sure some of that fabric hadn’t been touched in several years because I couldn’t see it and therefore didn’t know it was there.

And here’s the after:Fabrics are rolled so I can see and pull them out easily, and they are tagged with the size!  Woo!

Lilo’s book is about both studio design and organization.  I loved every part of it, but here are some favorites:

There are ideas on organization and storage for many types of creative supplies, not just quilting things.  She has many photos from real studios to give the reader ideas.

Photo courtesy of C&T

Some of the studio photos look to me like they were done by a decorator, which I am not!  And some were very realistic-looking in my opinion!

Photo courtesy of C&T

The book also addresses ergonomic studio design, including sewing machine set-up, which I found especially helpful.

Photo courtesy of C&T

.In addition to studio ideas for “most people”, Lilo discusses adaptations that many of us will need as we age, or simply as a result of our physical limitations.  There is one especially nice chapter on how one woman adapted to being partially paralyzed after a stroke.  

This is not just a book for quilters, though I found it very helpful in my quilting studio.  There is an emphasis on making the creative space attractive “without breaking the bank”, as the subtitle says.  You can learn more about the book here.

Note:  C&T sends me lots of books and I review my favorites so you don’t have to hunt around to find the best books.  Of course, “best” is my personal opinion 😀

It Happened This Way…

A friend and I made Pat Sloan’s weekly blocks for her Going on a Picnic quilt. It gave us something to look forward to when the blocks came out each Wednesday and we enjoyed exchanging pictures of our blocks. Here’s my finished quilt top, though some of the blocks are NOT what Pat designed. If I didn’t like hers, I just made my own.

Meanwhile, my husband and I decided to lease a house for part-time use near where our grandchildren live. It’s a long story and not about quilting, so I’m not elaborating here. However, it came to mind that the house might not have window coverings. So all my quilt backs got packed to move in case we need temporary “curtains”.

And then I finished the quilt top, now known as “The Elvis Quilt”.

Elvis on The Elvis Quilt

There was no quilt back available, and I wanted to get it to the quilter before the moving van arrived. Therefore, I took all the leftover fabric from the quilt top and combined it with leftover pieces from a gray quilt back, and here it is.

It took all day to do this, with time out for packing, laundry, etc. Now I know why I buy the wide quilt backs. Anyway, a good quilt back is a done quilt back!

Hope you have a good week!