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.

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.

Tula Update

After finishing the first 100 Tula blocks, I tried out various layouts using EQ8. There are, of course, multiple layout options in the book, but I wanted MANY options. Also, I wanted a queen sized quilt for the bed in our new house, which will be finished some time.

I searched the internet and found a number of ideas.  Here are the options I drew in EQ8, obviously with EQ’s standard blocks instead of my Tula blocks.  It’s so easy to audition various layouts with EQ that I just played for a while.

And here is a start on the layout I selected.

I love this layout, but it’s turning out to be a bear to piece!

I decided to assemble the quilt top in 4 quadrants then join them to avoid those loooong rows that would have to be assembled if I did the whole thing a row at a time.

Here’s a start on the first quadrant, shown on the makeshift design wall:

It will be done some time, maybe before the house is done and maybe not!  A race, perhaps?

More Exercise and a Swap Top

After laying out the blocks for my second swap quilt on the living room floor, I had to move them to the spare bedroom upstairs to make room for people to walk.  (Some people just don’t understand that it’s a design floor, not a walkway!)

That led to more trips up and down stairs as I sewed the blocks into rows and returned each row to the layout so as to keep them in order.  That’s where the exercise came in 😀

Finally I added borders, so here’s the finished top (twin size), ready to go to the quilter.  (Are you reading this, Julia?)

This is the second quilt made from blocks I’ve swapped with friends when we couldn’t get together to quilt due to you-know-what.

What have you been up to lately?

Current Series, Parts 2 and 3

In our “first exciting episode” about this series, I showed the fabrics and the first set of improvised blocks, which were based on triangles cut from a strip set…

For the second set of improvisational blocks, I set these rules:

  • Start with a strip set
  • Cut and recombine the strip set in random ways
  • Continue to do the final trim so that each block is 6.5″ wide; any length is OK

Here are the blocks:

I wasn’t crazy about these and decided to return to a more planned approach with the next set.  The rules for it were:

  • Start with a strip set
  • Recombine it into loose grids
  • Keep to 6.5″ in one dimension for each block.

I’m marginally more satisfied with these, but that 3rd block in this set makes me think that the next set will need some diagonal lines.  Stay tuned!  And thanks for visiting 🙂

YOW! I’m teaching curved piecing!

To be exact, YOW is the name of the quilt, not my reaction to teaching a curved piecing class 🙂

curved piecing

YOW is the class I’ll be teaching at Studio Stitch in Greensboro

The class is at Studio Stitch in Greensboro (NC), one of my favorite shops. To my surprise, I don’t have a picture of the quilt I’m using as a class sample, so I had to lift this one from the Studio Stitch website. There is no pattern for this quilt; it is just what I did with some really bright batiks and some nice templates from Elisa’s Backporch Designs.

I’m going to teach at least 3 different ways to piece these curves, so most anybody with some sewing experience can find success with at least one of the methods.

I got out some examples of my quilts with curved piecing yesterday to have them for display in class, and I was surprised at how many there are.  Then I found all these pictures of other things I’ve made with curved piecing, so here are a few.

curved piecing

An attempt at improvised New York Beauty blocks

My “cocktail pillow”–to put out when you have people over for cocktails! (As if!)

stack, cut, shuffle block

This block was made with curves cut freehand

This was made for my modern sampler

Quilt Alliance

Cat Circus, my 2015 Quilt Alliance challenge quilt

Metrol Hoops baby quilt

This was made using the Quick Curve ruler.  I don’t love it–but the baby did.

Applique quilt

Radiating Orchid mini-quilt for the Radiant Orchid Challenge, 2014

Finished! In 2016

First, the Christmas tree picture with fireplace was at the Grove Park Inn, in Asheville, N.C. That fireplace is big enough for a man to stand up in. Hopefully when there’s no fire.

And now, the 2016 finishes.

Asheville Quilt Show

Scan Me, a quilt made to promote safer sex.

improvisational quilt

Cherrywood Toss won a blue ribbon.

art quilt, gwen marston

Refrigerator quilt inspired by Gwen Marston. Bev Manus came up with the idea for refrigerator quilts.

modern sampler

My Modern Sampler Quilt

improvisational quilt

“Gwen Visits the Farm” is the quilt I made for the Quilt Alliance contest this year

Quilted Adventure

Roxie bag made as part of Quilted Adventure online retreat

Loes Hinse blouse

Blouse from a Loes Hinse pattern, in Cherrywood fabrics

Tumbling Blocks

Tumbling Blocks placemats, made in class with Karen Combs

Sweetpea Pod pattern review

These Sweetpea Pod bags were so fun that I made a LOT of them!

And, of course, the quilts for Ronald McDonald House:

Happy new year, and may you have a great year of quilts in 2017!

Finished Tops!

After much deliberation about layout, I got my Modern Sampler quilt put together last week and sent it off to be quilted.  Here’s the final top:

modern sampler

My Modern Sampler top is ready for quilting!

Then, for good measure, I put together the batik blocks from a swap I was in several years ago and sent that top off to be quilted, as well.

batik quilt blocks

Group batik blocks, put together and ready for quilting

Yes, the sashing DOES vary a bit, because the blocks do.  That’s the way it goes with a block swap.  I love the variety of the blocks and, of course, the batik fabrics.

I’m sending this to Aunt Marti’s UFO challenge, which helps keep me motivated.  What are you up to?

My Modern Sampler: Using Linen in Quilts

After finishing the blocks for my modern sampler, I ordered several shades of Essex linen/cotton blend to consider for the background. I know I said I’d never use linen again after the last struggle, but I’ve learned several things since. So, if you’re thinking of using linen in your quilts for its nice texture, read my tips at the end of this post.

Here I’m trying various layouts on two different potential background fabrics.  I hung the ironed fabric and pinned the blocks to it, trying out various layouts and different colors of background fabric.

essex linen

Here is the Pewter background

modern sampler

Here is the Natural background, with a different attempt at layout

I decided I liked the natural background better than they gray.  Then I took it all down and made a rectangle on my design “wall”, outlining the approximate finished size with blue painter’s tape.

modern sampler

Here is the layout I decided to use, with some of the sashing in place

And here are my thoughts on using linen in quilts:
–The linen I used the first time was “real”, 100% linen. Remember that from your childhood, when summer clothes were supposed to be linen? Think wrinkles! And avoid 100% linen for your quilts
–The “linen” of the Essex brand actually is a linen/cotton blend, so it has a nice texture but is less wrinkle-prone and tighter woven than the linen I used previously.
–Pre-wash the linen blend, even if you don’t pre-wash anything else. Wash in warm water and dry on warm so it will get its shrinking done and be more dense and stable.
–Before you pre-wash, serge or zig-zag the raw edges together to prevent fraying! This worked great and “wasted” only about 1/4″ on each raw edge, much less than would have frayed. And there was no mess of threads in the washing machine.

How have you done with using fabrics other than quilting cotton in quilts?

 

Crunchy Numbers

The WordPress people send me two statistical reports a year regarding my blog, and of course I can look at statistics on my administrative page at any time. I don’t stress it or check very often, so I was quite surprised when the recent report from WordPress said people from 61 different countries viewed my blog in 2015!

This picture of Iceland is from NordicFoodFestival.org

This picture of Iceland is from NordicFoodFestival.org

Most of the countries were predictable: the U.S., Canada, U.K., Australia, and New Zealand. But there were views from every continent except Antarctica! The place I got the biggest kick out of was Iceland 🙂

This improvised log cabin block, which was made into a pillow, appears to have been the most viewed picture on the site.

improvised log cabin block

improvised log cabin block

Jo Glover, big stitch quilting

Jo Glover

And my most popular post was about Jo Glover, who first developed Big Stitch quilting but doesn’t always get enough credit now that everybody does it. You can find that post HERE if you missed it.

Another popular topic was my ongoing modern sampler quilt, and there’ll be much more about that coming up soon.  A few of those blocks are shown below.

The stats show my readership growing steadily over the 2-1/2 years I’ve been blogging. The growth is slow, but I’m blogging for fun (and I’ve kept my day job!) so that’s just fine. I’ve made some new friends, which is even better.

As always, I’m amazed by the power of the internet. I’ll skip the chance to philosophize about that and just wish anyone who reads this a very happy 2016!