Yikes! Prewashing Quilt Fabric!

You’ve probably heard all you care to about whether or not to prewash fabrics before including them in a quilt. I’ve gone both ways from time to time and settled on a middle ground: I treat batiks with Retayne and often do not wash regular printed fabric unless it is intensely colored.

But every once in a while there’s a shock…

I always put a Color Catcher in when I prewash fabric, and it does a great job of picking up any stray dye in the wash.  So I was very surprised to see the spots shown above on my sheets!  (At least I had the sense not to prewash that fabric with my husband’s dress shirts!)

Here’s the fabric:

It’s from a major manufacturer and came from a quilt shop.  I just decided to prewash because the color is so intense.

I washed this 3-yard cut 3 times, and here are the 3 color catchers:

Finally, I gave up on the prewash and treated it with Retayne.  (Retayne wash requires my tea kettle and a bucket, since water temp needs to be 140 and tap water is too far below that.)  I’m still going to rub this fabric hard with a wet cotton swab to test for colorfastness before I use it in a quilt!

So, do you prewash your fabrics?

Improvising

I’m doing a trunk show focused on improvisation for the Heart of the Triad Quilt Guild tomorrow–please come if you’re in the North Carolina Triad area. To help me update my talk, this post is focused on some of my favorite ways to improvise in quilting. .

The first time I recall improvising was about 20 years ago when I had scraps left from this quilt (made while we lived near Pennsylvania Amish country):

Amish design quilt

I combined the scraps with yellow and just sewed them together in strips, then blocks, to make a quilt for the friend who helped me choose colors for the Amish quilt.

improv quilt blocks

Improv quilt blocks I made about 10 years ago

Combining scraps from a single project, sometimes with the addition of another fabric for “spark”, remains one of my favorite ways to improvise.  I no longer cut the scraps into strips; I just start sewing.

modern art quilt

Whirlwind, my 2014 Quilt Alliance challenge quilt, finished 20″ x 20″

The quilt above won a judge’s choice award, possibly because some of the pieces in it finish as small as 1/4″.

Another favorite way to improvise a design is by modifying a traditional block.  Sometimes I cut off part of it, sometimes I stretch or distort it, sometimes I scatter the pieces around.  Here are a few examples.

Rising star art quilt

Rising Star, made for the Quilt Alliance TWENTY contest in 2013, finished 20″ x 20″

Zippy Star by Mary Puckett

Zippy Star I

I have done a number of things with those pesky orphan blocks (blocks left over from previous projects).  I swear they multiply when I’m not looking 😉  One option I like is to cut them into circles and applique them onto a different background:

This also works for quilt tops I don’t like once they are made:  This top

Became this:As a final example, I had a quilt that was quilted, and bound, and I STILL didn’t like it.

This one had to be cut up and made into placemats!

I cut it up into place mats, where it worked out just fine:

Of course, there are many more ways to improvise in quilting.  My plan is to try them ALL!

What are your favorite ways to improvise?

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!

A New Series

I’ve made quilts in series before, including this series of 12″ square quilts inspired by Gwen Marston’s work and the refrigerator quilts by Bev Mannes.

This experiment led to a larger quilt in the style of Gwen Marston:

improvisational quilt

Cherrywood Toss, 2016.

And this small quilt, made for the Quilt Alliance annual contest:

improvisational quilt

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

Although I didn’t think of it as a series at first, I’ve made a many-years-long series of scrap quilts, including these:

More recently, I was inspired by an article by Jill Jensen in Quilting Arts Magazine. You can find a similar article here on the Quilting Company blog.  I also bought a new (to me) book:

art quilt book

Visual Guide to Working in a Series, by Elizabeth Barton

It’s an art quilt book, but I consider all my quilts art, including the bed quilts.

I decided to make a series of blocks rather than a series of quilts this time, trying out various improvisational techniques.

I plan to use this collection of fat eights from Cotton & Steel:

After auditioning several options, I selected royal blue for a solid to go with them.  It’s in the upper right corner of the picture.

Here are the first 4 blocks.  My theme was triangles, and I started by making a strip set:

I trimmed each block to 6-1/2″ wide; the length is random

I’m going to make a set of blocks every month until I either get tired of it or run out of fabric.  To be continued 😉

More From VQF

I am away at a retreat this week, so here, at last, are more of the wonderful quilts from the Vermont Quilt Festival.  I know, it’s been 3 months, but they’re still great quilts!  Most are art quilts, meaning they have no likely use to keep anyone warm, but I enjoyed the innovative techniques used in them.

VQF, Vermont Quilt Festival

Party Lanterns (detail) by Jean Potvin. The strips are about 1/2″ finished!

modern quiltHaley’s Concept by Bruce Harmon

abstract art quilt

Zoo Bound by G Wong. This was made for a niece going to college!

modern quilt

Take A Left at the Wall and Keep Going by Lois Nial. This was one of my favorites.

butterfly quilt

Kimimila by Beverly Cook. This quilt is round, and looked like stained glass.

orange and blue quiltSunny Day Evolution by Sharon Tier

Art QuiltBranches 5: Big Branches by Lee Sproull

diamond quiltPiece of Cake by Ann Feitelson

arrow quilt

This Way Up by Jen Sorenson

art quiltClinging to the Edge by Irene Roderick

And I did get a little bit done on the triangle quilt this week.  Here it is so far:Triangles-11

I can’t decide whether the light blue is too light or not.  It may be clearer either way when there are more blocks.

Fourth Quarter Classes

I’ll be teaching two fun classes between now and Christmas (yes! It is coming!) at Studio Stitch in Greensboro, NC.

The first, scheduled for Saturday, November 3, is a pattern called “Frosty Flakes” from Sew Special Designs.

Frosty Flakes, Sew Special Designs

This is the quilt including border

I actually made this half size just by reducing the patterns for the snowmen by 50% on my copier. It makes a good child’s quilt or wall hanging at this size. The full size pattern is lap size.

Here’s a photo of just the center so you can see the cute blocks better

The other class is the place mats you’ve already seen.  I made them from the shop’s current collection of Christmas fabric, but they are quick and easy so I often make them from other fabrics to have on hand for hostess gifts.

If you’re near Greensboro, come join us at Studio Stitch!

Potluck Plan to Save the Planet

When we lived in Darkest Northern Maine I belonged to a women’s group that had potluck dinners from time to time. A frequent dish at these dinners was a meatloaf made with moose meat, no lie! Anyway, when we had a potluck, everyone brought her own place setting, including flatware, wrapped in a specially made carrier. In addition to being an opportunity to show off the fine china, it was a wonderful idea to save on waste! (My “fine china” is Corelle, but never mind that.)  You can even carry a cloth napkin with you for further savings to the planet 🙂

Aroostook County, Maine, land of place setting carriers. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

I got to thinking about this when a colleague brought his lunch to the office with a cloth napkin the other day, and then later that same day one of my guilds had a potluck.  Despite the fact that ALL of us CAN sew, nobody brought a place setting with her!  It was all paper and plastic, filling the trash cans afterward.  (The food was great, though!)

The truth is that, although I have made numerous place mats and table runners, I have never even made a place setting carrier for myself.  So I searched the internet for patterns, and here are a few sources:

Quilted Place Setting Carrier, photo courtesy of Craftsy

This is a $5 pattern available on Craftsy.  Click the label under the picture to go to the page where you can buy it.

Here is a link to a free pattern from the St. Croix Quilters.  I couldn’t get a picture, but the pattern is just one page and permission is granted to share it.  It even includes a pattern for a matching napkin 🙂

Here is a listing from Etsy for a place setting carrier that you can buy already made.

Place setting carrier available on Etsy, already made! Photo courtesy of Etsy.

Of course you could make one yourself, but sometimes there are too many projects in line already, and I thought this one was cute.

If you go searching for a pattern for a place setting carrier, most of what you’ll find are patterns for casserole carriers.  Those are good, too, but not what I wanted!  I’m pretty sure I can just develop my own place setting carrier by taking one of my dinner plates as a starting point for size and going from there.  If I end up developing a pattern, I’ll let you know.

On another note, look at the wonderful pattern on this moth I found on a recent hike:

Unknown moth, Western N.C., 2018

Have a good week!

Some Favorites from VQF 2018

The Vermont Quilt Festival, which I attended in June, was wonderful, as usual. Here are a few of my favorites of the more traditional type.

VQF

Maine Coast, by Lynne Rainen

traditional quilt VQF

Port Kent Beauty, by Alyce Fradenburg (who is from Port Kent, NY)  I like how she put black triangles at the top to give the design a point there.

VQF

We Are Stardust, by Gladi Porsche

tumbler quilt

Twinkle Twinkle Little Tumblers, by Sharon Shea Perry. There are 3328 tumblers in this quilt, and they are tiny!  I love how she made the border darker.

vermont quilt festival

Night Sky, by Joan Duffy. This was eye-catching and beautifully pieced.

Barnum & Bailey quilt

Barnum & Bailey, by Daisy Dodge. This had many TINY pieces!

Detail of Barnum & Bailey. Those HSTs finish 1/2″ square!

quilt by Bonnie Morin

Buzz Saw, by Bonnie Morin. Look at the detail below!

As always, there were several special exhibits, including quilts by the teachers and some modern favorites from the last QuiltCon.  More on those later!

Dress Shirt Quilt

I have been saving my husband’s worn out dress shirts for years to use the fabric for quilting. They are too worn at the collar and elbows for him to wear to work, but there is plenty of good fabric left for quilts.shirt quilt I made one quilt from them a year or so ago and used the pockets and plackets for interest.quilt made from shirts
A friend gave me a nice stack of shirt fabric that she had acquired from a custom shirt maker as discarded samples.shirting for quilt

The “Trail Mix” quilt from All People Quilt has been on my to-do list for years, and I decided it would be perfect for these shirt fabrics.  (The pattern is free; you can click on the name and link to the page.)trail mix quilt

I’ve made the first two types of blockquilt blocks and have arrived at time to make the blocks that provide the accent rows of tiny blocks.  I don’t think I have a shirt bright enough to make these accents stand out, so I’m considering solids from my stash.  Any opinions about which would work best?

Rust tone-on-tone

Mottled soft red

Solid red

Solid yellow

Solid Orange

Thanks for your advice!

New Year/New Look

This marks the beginning of my sixth year of blogging about quilts. To celebrate, I’ve upgraded to a paid plan so you shouldn’t see ads when you view my blog. I don’t ever take advertising or affiliate links, but I was on the WordPress free plan, so they were allowed to put ads on my pages. Those ads should be eliminated now.

I’ve also updated my picture to a more recent one! The even better news is that you were spared the 5 years of changes in hairstyle that came between the old one and this one 😉

As I start the next year, I’d like your opinion. What would you like to see/read about on the blog?  Please leave me some comments!  And thanks for reading–I appreciate my readers, and many of them have become friends.