2020 Quilt Review, Part I

Every problem being an opportunity, I think we’ll review the projects completed in 2020 because of the opportunity to spend much more time at home 😀  In fact, I got so much done that I’m splitting it into two posts so my head doesn’t spin.  Here’s part I:

Plaidish was made from a free pattern available from Kitchen Table Quilts

I designed the quilt above based on a barn quilt I saw every time I drove to town.  The design was created in EQ8 and Eileen Fowler at McCall’s Quilting transformed it into a design of her own, giving me credit for inspiration.

The above quilt was designed in EQ8 and made with scraps.  Studio Stitch offered the pattern free with purchase.  I loved using all my colorful scrap strips.

I made a bunch of postcard-sized art quilts as samples for a class I plan to teach on making landscape quilts.  COVID happened, so the class hasn’t been offered yet.

I designed and made this little neighborhood after seeing similar projects online. Isn’t the internet a great source of inspiration?

I made a bunch of donation quilts, including the two above constructed from orphan blocks.  Several quilts went to a local at-risk infant project, and there’s another pile waiting to go to Ronald McDonald House.

I took a class with friends at A Stitch in Time and made this fall quilt.  They still have the pattern if you want to make one, too.

I made this orphan block up into a little quilt for the SAQA auction.

Like everyone else, I made a zillion of these. At least my model is cute 🙂

I enjoyed making this quilt and the templates from Elisa’s Backporch made it easy.

That is surely enough for one post!  To be continued…

Avoiding Half Square Triangles

Half square triangles are an important design element in many quilts. The split value and diagonal line allow a variety of dynamic designs.

This is a Half Square Triangle (HST)

One of my quilt groups has been discussing HSTs because some of us love them and some have limited tolerance for them. It matters because we regularly do block exchanges.

One member recently sent a picture of a beautiful depression block quilt, and that got the discussion going again. A depression block quilt is made entirely of HSTs!

This is a typical block from a Depression Quilt

 

This is a traditional Depression Block Quilt made entirely with HSTs

Not being much of a rule-follower, I got to speculating about how we might make this quilt using strips instead of HSTs. (Yes, I get that the original idea was to use up small scraps, but what if you just wanted the overall effect without all those HSTs?) My friend Mary B encouraged me to develop this idea, so here we go.

I did a number of experiments with Electric Quilt 8 (EQ8), which produced all the illustrations for this post.  I learned that the most important element in the success of this quilt is contrast between the values (rather than the colors) of the fabrics. (All the illustrations use Fossil Fern fabrics from the EQ8 fabric library.)

I first tried drawing a block that used strips of lights and darks in place of the rows of triangles. This would simplify construction significantly.

Here’s the block:

Depression block effect without the HSTs

And here’s the quilt:

Then I tried a traditional Courthouse Steps block set on point to mimic the depression block effect.

Here’s the block:

And here’s the quilt:

Finally, I changed up the color arrangement in the traditional Courthouse Steps block to provide more variation.

Here’s the block:

And the quilt:

So! I’m not sure my variations are a good substitute for the traditional Depression Block quilt, but it was fun and I do like the quilts. What do you think, Mary B? 

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.

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 😀

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

More Fun Books for Learning

C&T recently sent me two books I especially like, so here’s a little overview of each of them.

Photo courtesy of C&T

First, Sew Very Easy Quilt Favorites has a number of unique but easy quilts that could be made by a confident beginner.  Or by the likes of me because sometimes I just want a quick quilt that looks harder than it is 😉  For example:

Photo courtesy of C&T

As with other C&T books I’ve read, Sew Very Easy has clear instructions and illustrations.  I’m thinking C&T must have some good editors, because I see that their books are consistently easy to use.

In this book, I especially like the clear illustrations showing how to join strips end-to-end with a diagonal seam. Does anybody else remember how hard that was to figure out initially?  Similarly, there are clear illustrations wherever seam intersections might “look funny” to a less-experienced quilter.  I’m impressed that someone who obviously has a lot of quilting experience is still aware of how confusing some of these things can be for others.  For example, there’s an excellent explanation of how to do partial seams on this otherwise-simple quilt:

Photo courtesy of C&T

Also, the book has both modern and traditional quilts, which broadens its appeal.  Here’s my favorite traditional-appearing quilt from the book:

Photo courtesy of C&T

I’ll be making some of the quilts from this book, and I expect I’ll learn a thing or several–that always enhances the fun!

The other book that I love is called Paper Piecing. It’s the cutest little book and, despite its size, has complete instructions for paper piecing, including more than one method!  That said, this is not really a “beginner” book, because the blocks are relatively complex.

Photo courtesy of C&T

This book would make a great little gift for a friend, or for one of those “infamous” Dirty Santa swaps at a guild Christmas party 😀

Please note: C&T provides books to me without charge, but I choose to review only those that I really like.  All links are for your convenience; they are not affiliate links that provide income to me.

An Exciting New Book!

I agreed to review new quilt books for C&T this year, and here’s the deal.  They send me books they think might interest me and I tell you about the ones I especially like.  (If a book isn’t to my taste, I just don’t mention it.  That way you know that if I endorse a book, I really do like it.)

That being said, I am excited about several of the books they sent recently.  The first is  New Patchwork and Quilting Basics, by Jo Avery.

Photo Courtesy of C&T

This is a fresh, modern book with a whole range of projects.  It starts with three quilts for the true beginner and progresses to projects involving special skills such as applique, curved piecing, and even paper piecing.  It’s a nearly-complete set of quilting lessons all in one book!

I would LOVE to work with a local shop to develop classes from this book.  I’ve started on one of the earlier quilts that I hope to use as a class sample eventually.  Here’s the picture from the book:Photo Courtesy of C&T

And here’s my quilt so far 😀

I think the projects in this book will appeal to quilters of all ages.  I found the instructions and illustrations clear (and even more important, accurate) for the blocks I have made so far.  Although I wouldn’t recommend someone learning to quilt with only a book, I think it could be done with this one.

Here are a few more of my favorite projects from the book.

As you can see, this one demands some skill with HSTs, but the blocks are fairly large:

Photo courtesy of C&T

This artsy one appeals to me because it is a little whimsical.  It also looks as if it would be pretty easy to get an impressive result:Photo courtesy of C&T

Finally, I think I may try this one just for the challenge.  It’s pretty spectacular:

Photo courtesy of C&T

You can find the book at C&T, here.  (FYI, this is NOT an affiliate link.)

You can go to Jo Avery’s website here.

Let me know if you have used this book or decide to try it.  I’d like to hear someone else’s opinion–and that’s whether you agree with me or not!  

Now, I’m going to wash my hands and go make a quilt 🙂

 

Triangle Variations Finished!

I’ve made multiple triangle quilts this year, and this final one is my favorite. It all started when I saw this book:

Modern Triangle Quilts,, published by Stash Books

The book presents variations on 3 different types of triangles (equilateral, right, isoceles), with multiple options for each type.  You know I don’t like to make the same block twice, so the variety of these triangle blocks seemed perfect!  (The cover states there are 70 different blocks!)

I chose the equilateral triangles and a limited color palette.  And of course I changed some of her patterns and improvised a few new ones.  That said, her instructions were excellent.  (You may take excellent instructions for granted when you’ve paid for a book, but don’t.  Enough said.)

So here’s my finished quilt! There are 11 different layouts for the blocks; this isn’t one of them 😉

The quilting was done by my friend Andrea Walker.  Andrea does beautiful custom quilting, but she is understanding when I want edge-to-edge quilting instead (because I want the quilt to be about my design rather than her quilting).  

And here’s the back:

Quilt stats:

  • Name: Triangle Variations (Hmmm…boring.  If you have a more creative idea please let me know.)
  • Finished size:57″ x 66″
  • Source: Inspired by Rebecca Bryan’s book Modern Triangle Quilts, and most of the blocks are from that book.  (Book available here.)
  • Quilted by: Andrea Walker.  (You can see her website by clicking on her name.)

This quilt went together well (due to the excellent instructions) and it is unique even though most of the blocks came from patterns.  Try it!

Note: The links here are for your convenience; I do not make money if you buy from them.

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.