2021 In My Studio

Good morning! I hope everyone enjoyed the holiday, whether religious or secular in nature. Here are most of the projects I’ve done this year:

Magic Kaleidoscope, 30″ x 30″

Practice for Charm Weave, 40″ x 40″

Mill Wheels, 51″ x 51″

Super Simple Squares, 52″ x 52″

Oriana, 47″ x 48″

Rumble In The Jungle, 54″ x 54″

Splendid Stars, 51″ x 53″

Sunrise, 75″ x 50″

HST Stars, 78″ x 53″

Fossil Fern Stars, 59″ x 44″

COVID swap block quilt, 55″ x 72″

Hayden and the bag he made

Fabric bowl, from the Modern Fabric Bowls book

Christmas napkins

And the Japanese Maple in the fall!

Super Simple Squares

A layer cake of Alison Glass fabric jumped in my cart when I wasn’t looking, and I’ve been wondering what to do with it. Finally, I designed this quilt.

The quilting by Julia Madison is an Urban Elementz panto called “Sound Waves”. I love it!

Quilt stats:

Name: Super Simple Squares

Finished size: 52″ x 52″

Designer: me

Fabric: Alison Glass

Quilted by: Julia Madison

Retreat! (At Last)

Our retreat group was so happy to get together again after having to cancel the last two scheduled get-togethers due to you-know-what. We went to Kim’s Summit Retreat in Maggie Valley, NC, and it was perfect.

We were greeted by this beautiful Sassafras leaf on the front steps

Assembling some of the triangles from one of our previous swaps

Haha! This was a donation quilt project we were scheduled to do in October of 2020!

This was picked up from the quilter and I got it bound. More later.

One group member modified the free Kaffe Fasset pattern “Carnival” so she could use smaller blocks

This is a paper-pieced block-of-the-month that two of our members are doing

One retreater is making at least two quilts from fabric featuring national parks

I took these orphan blocks and put them on the design wall…

…then made additional blocks and strips to fill in the holes

That was so much fun! We are looking forward to the next one 😀

 

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’ 😀

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.

A Little Finish

This is a quilt top I made as I was working out the details of the Lightening pattern I did for Studio Stitch a while back.

This is only 36″ square, so it will be a quilt for Ronald McDonald House in Winston-Salem, where they use this size for incubator covers.

I quilted this on my domestic sewing machine (a Bernina 550). I did not use the BSR stitch regulator primarily because it is packed somewhere in a moving box, though honestly, I don’t feel the need for it. I quilted a meander because it is fast and easy.

My blogging friend Clair pointed out some time ago that gold thread goes with almost any quilt top, and I’ve found that to be true! This is my favorite gold thread because it does look really gold but it is NOT metallic. (Metallic thread can be a bear to quilt with.)

As always, I used Bottom Line in the bobbin. I love that thread! If you have it in black and white you can blend it with almost any backing, though I have bought a few other colors as well.

And FYI, nobody paid me to say all this, and I bought the thread with my own money, etc, etc.

In case you missed it, here’s the quilt for which this was a practice piece. Last I looked Studio Stitch still had the pattern available free with purchase and even had one bundle of fat quarters left of the fabric.

Thanks for reading, and have a good week!

 

Virtual Design Wall

I’m making a queen sized quilt from my 100 Tula City Sampler blocks using this design. I made several layouts in EQ8, my design software, and chose this one.I love this layout, but it’s turning out to be a bear to piece!

BTW, I don’t recommend this design particularly. The sashing is waaay too fiddly.

Anyway, I have assembled the top in 4 quarter panels to improve the accuracy of my piecing. Now I’m ready to assemble the panels into a quilt top, but we are still in our rental house so I don’t have much of a design wall.

I thought I would wait until I have a big design wall in the new house, but then I had another thought. I took a picture of each of the quarters, edited them all with Photoshop, and custom printed them so each quarter is 7″ square. The pictures aren’t perfect, but I think they’ll work!

Now I can play with arranging the quarters in various ways. The printed colors aren’t great (I used regular printer paper) but this is going to be much easier than moving 4 big panels around on a big design wall. I may even use this technique again when I have a big design wall available.

I’ll let you know what happens.

Scrappy Triangle Swap Blocks

I’ve belonged to a block swap group for a long time, but we have done extra during COVID. Here’s the latest, a scrappy triangle block. In case you want to know, it’s made with the tri-recs tool, available several places–just ask Ms. Google.

What we haven’t done is put any of these into a quilt! Here are some ideas on layout:

And in case you’ve never made improvised scrap blocks, here are directions. We’ve been using single-color scraps, but there’s no reason the color scheme can’t be scrappy.

Start by choosing 2 scraps you like and sew them together any way you care to. If one has a curved side, you can choose to sew the curve or cut it off straight.

Trim up an edge so you can add something else.

Keep adding pieces, checking occasionally to see if your template is going to fit on the scraps.

It’s fine to add BIG pieces too in order to move things along.

Press all the seams open. Too much bulk otherwise with all those seams.

Finally, cut around your template and assemble the block.

What templates do you like to use?

Eight Years

I’ve now been blogging weekly for 8 years. One of the best things about it is “meeting” people from all over the world and reading about what they are doing. Some of them have been at it even longer than I have, though many of the bloggers I’ve “met” have since quit writing.

Here are my current favorite quilts from each of the years I’ve been blogging.

Rising star art quilt

Rising Star, made for the Quilt Alliance TWENTY contest in 2013

quilt photo

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

modern quilt

Happy Squares, designed and made by me, 2015

improvisational quilt

Cherrywood Toss, 2016.

scrap quilt

Scrap quilt made with strips that finish 1″ wide, 2017

Equilateral Triangles, 2018

My “Little Green Man” quilt, June 2019

“Clamshells? Really?” 2020

I’m going to delete many of the older posts since I doubt they are serving any purpose at this time. I have had a book made for each year, as suggested by my friend Linda, so I can always look back at them if I want.