Plaidish–Color Gets the Credit, Value Does the Work

I found this quilt on Pinterest and followed the link to the directions because I thought it was such a great example of “color gets the credit, value does the work”.  Also, it used a lot of scraps!  In particular, I had TWO bins full of 5″ charms from a swap group I used to belong to, and I used an entire bin to make this quilt 🙂

You can find the free pattern here: Kitchen Table Quilting

Yes! There were a lot of little intersections to match–good practice!

If you ask Ms. Google or search on Pinterest, you can see many variations made by other quilters.

QUILT DETAILS

Name: Plaidish

Finished size: 63.5” x 63.5”

Designed by Erica at Kitchen Table Quilting

Made by me

Quilted by Julia Madison

Color Gets the Credit, Value Does the Work

I don’t recall where I first heard the statement that titles this post but, when I ask Ms. Google, I find it a common saying on art teaching sites. It is certainly true in quilting.

The class I taught most recently was about learning to use color in quilts. We used Linda Hahn’s pattern Junk to Jems. I gave each student a handout with numerous ways to vary the blocks. Everyone brought scraps and we all worked on different ways to combine them. It was fun and we got some very interesting color combinations.

Here are some of the blocks made in the class:

And here are a couple of variations I made as class samples:

As with all Linda’s patterns, Junk to Jems was clearly written.  I’ll probably use it again because so many variations can be made with this block.

And yes, I am using both cream and white backgrounds in the same quilt 🙂

New Classes

I like to start the year with a scrap quilt, so I’ll be teaching one January 21 at Studio Stitch in Greensboro, NC.  It’s based on this pattern by Linda Hahn, but I have made some significant changes.

On February 29 I’ll be teaching a quilt I call “Easier Than It Looks”.  It’s great for those “just can’t cut” fabrics, whether you can’t cut because the design is large or because you love the fabric so much. 

Not sure yet what I’ll be teaching in March, but I’m thinking about tiny landscape quilts.  Opinions, anyone?

If you live near Greensboro, please join us for one of these classes–we’ll have fun!  And there’ll be chocolate 😉

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 😀

A Swap Block for Donation Quilts

One of my quilt groups makes donation quilts about 40″ square for various organizations. The size is easy to construct and quilt at home, and is appropriate for the children who receive the quilts.  Here are the recent group donations:

We often use swap blocks for our quilts and recently decided on a new swap and I want to tell you about it. One of your quilt groups may enjoy it, too!  Here’s how:

First make a big wonky log cabin block. Our blocks started with a 5″ square, which was modified to make a wonky center.  It was then surrounded by strips from my scrap bins, and occasional strips were trimmed so they were wonky, too.

These big blocks are 21″ square (unfinished).

We cut each block in quarters, so each quarter is 10.5″ unfinished, and started arranging them to make a quilt top that would finish at 40″ square.

This was how we eventually decided to arrange them in the finished top:

And then, of course, we made 4 more:

If you decide to do this, there are only 2 things to watch out for:

  1. As you add strips, keep measuring to be sure the center block remains centered enough so that there will be a piece of it in each quarter when you cut the block up.
  2. It’s easiest if the final round of strips is considerably wider than needed so the block can be trimmed to (unfinished) size easily without running into seams.

This is a really fun way to use scraps!  If you make one, or use this for a group swap, send me a picture!

Lattice Quilt

This design has been around forever and I’ve seen many versions of it, some even published as patterns.Anyway, I decided to teach it as a design-your-own quilt class, since I think the size of the center squares really should depend on the size of the prints you are using.  I made a handout to help each person design his/her own blocks, so I’m sharing the details with you.  All these drawings were made using Electric Quilt 8, which allows for easy export of the picture.

Here is the basic block:

The only trick is to make the block square.  The center is a rectangle, and the size of the side strips has to make the block square.  So, for example, if you cut a center rectangle 3.5″ x 5.5″ (to finish 3″ x 5″), your side strips need to be cut 5.5″ x 1.5″ each so the block (unfinished) will measure 5.5″ x 5.5″ and the finished block will be 5″ square.  Whew!

Actually, it’s easy.  We all drew our blocks (finished size) out on graph paper and remembered to add 0.5″ seam allowance in each direction before cutting each piece!

When the blocks are made, lay them out in a row, alternating directions. This forms the lattice. Two rows look like this:

And when a border is added, all the blocks are “closed” and you have a complete lattice.

And yes, the outer edge will vary in width after the addition of the border.  That’s all part of the fun. The blocks appear to float as they alternate directions.

You can vary the look of the quilt considerably by changing the proportions of the lattice and the central rectangles:

I think this design works especially well with a collection of related fabrics, and one woman brought Christmas fabrics to class:

Another brought fabrics with a camping theme:

This is an easy quilt.  It can be chain pieced easily and the blocks can be trimmed before joining if necessary.

Now, go make one and send me a picture of it!

Two Finishes

I’m going to resurrect Terry Atkinson’s Lucky Stars quilt pattern as a Christmas or baby quilt class for October at Studio Stitch in Greensboro, so I’ve just made two new shop samples.  This is a great pattern because it is quick and easy to make and almost any mistake made during construction can be fixed without much difficulty.  Therefore, I thought people might enjoy making it as a gift quilt or Christmas quilt.

This is an older pattern, and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve made it for various recipients.  Here are my latest versions::

Quilt Name: Baby Stars

Size: 48” x 48”

Fabrics: assorted batiks left from other projects

Made by: me

Quilted by: me

Pattern: Lucky Stars by Atkinson Designs

Quilt Name: Christmas Stars

Size: 64″ x 81″

Fabrics:  Assorted Christmas yardage bought because I liked it

Made by: me

Quilted by: Julia Madison

Have you made a Christmas quilt yet this year?  It’s not too soon to start 😉

 

Scraps Happen, Part III

There is no shortage of patterns for scrap quilts, and often I start with a pattern I’ve found somewhere and modify it to suit me.  I have notebooks full of pictures from magazines and photos I’ve taken of vintage or show quilts, so I use those for inspiration.  Here is a quilt I made by modifying a pattern from a magazine I’d been saving for a long time:

You can find the original pattern for this quilt by going to AllPeopleQuilt.com and searching for the “trail mix” pattern

The above quilt was made from my husband’s old shirts–whether that counts as scraps or yardage is a matter of opinion 🙂

I have some favorite scrap patterns I’ve used repeatedly over the years.  This one, which I learned from Barbara Lenox many years ago, is intended to be made at the end of the year using scraps from all the projects you made that year.  I love that idea and have made several of these.  You can see my post explaining the basic block here.

Another favorite quilt pattern is Junk to Jems, by Linda J. Hahn.  Here is my version which has been modified a fair amount from the pattern.

One thing I love about this pattern is that it is possible to make the elements of each block then re-arrange them so that there are several different variations on the same block.  So yes, my version is not quite like hers.

Augusta Cole is another teacher whose scrap quilts I admire, and I have made several from her Snappy Scrappy Stars pattern.  This makes a great leaders-and-enders project for me and I often use the blocks in donation quilts.

This is a leaders-and-enders project from Augusta Cole’s Scrappy Snappy Stars pattern

Of course, often a quilt starts as a pattern and then veers off course (surprise!).  The quilt below started as a way to use both a linen background and a group of fabrics I had in small amounts.  The original pattern is one of Karla Alexander’s stack and shuffle designs, and you probably can see that if you know the pattern.  This is my variation.Alison Glass fabrics quilt

And finally, even when I buy fabric for a quilt, I often buy fat quarters, which pretty much guarantees a scrappy look.  And I don’t really like making the same block twice, so often I make a variety of blocks for a single quilt.  Here is one last example of a quilt made from a fat quarter bundle, though it appears scrappy.

The pattern is Bermuda Sunset, another one by Linda Hahn.

A friend who is a writer mentioned the other day that her stories sometimes take on a life of their own and lead where she didn’t expect to go.  She asked if my quilts do that, too.  Absolutely!  Start out headed for A, end up at Q!

It’s all good. 🙂

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!