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

Class With Maria Shell!!!

COVID rolled over my plans to attend the Vermont Quilt Festival (VQF) this past summer and take classes there with Maria Shell.  So imagine my excitement when I got an email from VQF offering one of Maria’s classes online!  (Here’s the link if you want to learn more.)

This is the Announcement from VQF

I signed up immediately and started gathering the materials–there really isn’t much needed in that department since I’ll be in my own studio for the class!  The class will be interactive, and the student information included lots of funny reminders like “Remember, we can see you.  Wear pants if you plan to stand up!”  I have no idea how to mute my microphone or much of anything else, so there’s no telling what they’ll see/hear from me, but I’ll be sure to be fully clothed 😀

As you may know, I love Maria’s book (here’s the link if you want to know more about the book.).

I’ve made some “mat-cut stripes” inspired by her, though I haven’t figured out yet what to do with them next,

as well as a little art quilt for which I used her method for making free-cut flying geese.

This quilt is titled “Blue Ridge–Cardinal”

One thing that is different about Maria’s technique for improvising is that she does NOT just combine fabrics randomly.  She looks to see if they go together visually before she sews.  Her quilts are graphic and striking, and I look forward to learning more from her.  I’ll let you know how it goes!  And here’s the link to Maria’s site if you want to explore her work more.

Just a reminder:  The links in this post are for your convenience; they are not affiliate links that generate money for me!

Fiddlesticks!

I finished this quilt last month, but I’ve been doing a lot of quilting due to quarantine, so I’m behind on showing my work.  This is a scrap quilt, of course.  I’ve been seeing lots of quilts with little strips inserted on Pinterest, and finally got around to developing my own.

First, I got out all my solids, including the Grunge, and cut a 12″ square from each for background.  I planned to trim the blocks to 10.5″ after I finished inserting strips, since I have a 10.5″ square ruler 😀  No point making things difficult; let’s plan for easy!

Then I got out all my scraps and cut them into strips ranging from about 1″ to 2.5″ in width.  I made strip sets and cut them crosswise into strips for the quilt.   The inserted strips were cut in widths varying from 1″ to 2″, which of course means they finished 0.5″ to 1.5″ wide in the blocks.  I made more skinny ones than wide ones.

I just slashed the blocks at random angles.  I did slash and insert only one strip at a time. 

After I’d inserted enough strips to suit me, I trimmed each block to 10.5″ square.

Just look at the fun flower design my quilter used!

And yes, I left 3 blocks unpieced to add interest.

Quilt stats:  Fiddlesticks

Finished size: 49″ x 69″

Designed by me, based on multiple inspirations from Pinterest

Technique: Improvisation

Quilted by Julia Madison

Sewing Circle

My Mother used to have a group of friends called her “sewing circle” who met in each other’s homes to do hand work on a regular basis.  That was in the days when she didn’t work outside the home and neither did the other ladies–times have changed!  However, I still have a group of friends with whom I quilt regularly.  This little art quilt is in honor of that tradition.

I’d been seeing cute little quilts made with a narrow wedge ruler and wanted to do something similar.  I don’t have a narrow wedge ruler and wasn’t sure I wanted to make anything with pieces that small anyway, so I used my narrowest triangle ruler, a 45 degree wedge.

I cut the wedges with the ruler and just estimated the angle for the trapezoidal doors.  I cut the windows and roofs freehand.  The houses are made from some Jen Kingwell fabric left over from another project.  The background fabric says “cut, sew, repeat”.  I decorated the doors with tiny buttons for knobs and put a bird bead on one of the houses.

Quilt stats:  Sewing Circle

Finished size: 25-3/4″ x 25-3/4″

Designed, made, and quilted by me

It Was A Very Good Year

This year’s finishes:

One bed size quilt:

This isn’t as wonky as it looks, thank goodness! It’s just that I had trouble hanging it for the photo because it’s bigger than the design wall!

And a number of other quilts for various family, or for things I was teaching, or just because I wanted to:

A few of this year’s 13 donation quilts:

And finally, some table runners, art quilts, etc:

These projects were started this year but still aren’t finished:

Yes, quitting my day job really improved my productivity 😀

Improvised Table Runners

Several years ago I made this table runner by my own improvisational method.

modern table runner

Then I made this one, same method, using a lovely group of crossweave fabric.It was accepted for publication in a magazine, and I wrote the instructions, but the magazine ceased publication just before the issue in which my runner was to appear!

While developing the article for Crossweave Runner 1, I made Crossweave Runner 2 so I could take some process photos.

So, while cleaning the studio recently, I found two partially finished runners, the one above and the one below.

I finished these last two runners, and that’s about enough of those for now! It’s good to get even a little project finished and out of the way, especially right before the holidays when I’m thinking about gifts for folks!

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!

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!

Current Series: Blue Ridge

My first Blue Ridge quilt just returned from the Vermont Quilt Festival and will next go to the Asheville Quilt show.

art quilt

Meanwhile, Maria Shell published a tutorial on how she makes flying geese blocks for her quilts, so of course I had to try it.The result is Blue Ridge II.

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

In case a viewer doesn’t get why there is a red triangle among the earth-sky-water tones, I backed the quilt with cardinal fabric 🙂 The fabric is from Cotton + Steel in 2018, before they left RJR.

The quilt is faced using the technique from Terry Aske’s tutorial, which worked very well.  Here are the quilt stats:

Blue Ridge II

  • 28.5 inches wide, 26.5 inches tall
  • The fabrics are batik scraps left from other projects
  • The backing is from RJR, a Cotton and Steel fabric from 2018
  • The piecing was inspired by Maria Shell’s tutorial on flying geese (link above)
  • The facing was done using Terry Aske’s tutorial (link above)
  • Quilt was pieced and quilted by me.  The batting is Quilter’s Dream Cotton, Request loft.