Summertime Quilt

This quilt was inspired by all the fun text prints I have collected and also by the desire to make something new as a sample for teaching curved piecing.

I used batiks from stash for the colors and I love the combination.  BUT combining batik fabrics, which are lighter weight, with the printed fabrics was a bear!  I do not recommend it.  Ordinarily this block is fairly easy to piece, but this combination made it difficult.  Another doggone learning experience 😀

I did put in a few of my trademark tiny strips of color:

The templates I used are from Back Porch Designs.  I’ve been pleased with them  and think they are reasonably priced.  This is not an affiliate link, but you can find them here if you’re interested. The quilt block used here is a slight modification of a pattern that came with the template.

And here is the back!  Notice the cute “bubble” quilting pattern 🙂

Quilt StatsSummertime

Finished size: 47″ square

Fabric: batiks and text prints, all from stash; backing is a Windham print

Made by: me

Quilted by:  Walker Quilt Co.

More Rabbits!

After showing the Rabbits! quilt made from Debbie Maddy’s “Usagi” pattern, I lent the quilt itself to a local shop that carries the commercial version of Debbie’s Shibori-dyed fabric.  Then I decided to teach the quilt at Studio Stitch in Greensboro, so I made a second quilt using bright Grunge.

I don’t know if you can see it in the close-up below, but I did Quilt As You Go, using Marianne Haak’s method.  She has nice video tutorials on her website if you want to learn.  I found this method easier than some of the older ones, and neater than the “modern”  QAYG method recently publicized elsewhere.  As a bonus, the quilt came out nice and square!

Quilt stats: More Rabbits!

Finished size: 45″ x 45″

Pattern: “Usagi” by Debbie Maddy

Fabric: Grunge for the rabbits; fabric from stash for the sashing, border, and binding

Help from: Jerri on fabric selection

Quilted by me, using QAYG technique

Batting:  Quilter’s Dream,  Dream Green Request Loft

A Little Help From My Friends

As in, “I get by with…”  Anyway, my blogging friend Chela asked for tips on how I matched the doggone intersections in “Plaid-ish”, and several other people commented that intersections are a challenge.

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

I’m always glad to have somebody suggest a blog topic, so here we go:

It’s important to note that I learned all these techniques from other quilters, so it’s good to pass them on.

First, a little editorial comment from me.  YOU are the only judge of how exact your seams need to be.  I’ve made several quilts for the cat.  I matched my seams as well as my skills allowed, but I did NOT take any out and re-do them.

  1. Practice helps the most.  I DID say a few bad words while piecing this quilt with orange squares that finished 3/4″, but it was a learning experience (eek!).

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

  2.  That consistent 1/4″ seam is as important as you’ve always been told.  (Yada, yada.)   I like any of the devices out there to help sew an accurate quarter inch seam, including the foot with the little guide on it and a variety of things you can stick to the surface of the machine bed.  Most of us have this one mastered.

    My tool to help with 1/4″ seam has been around so long the plastic is yellowed!

  3. With regard to cutting accurately, I’ve been told several times not to use the lines on my cutting mat because they are less accurate (being wider) than those on the ruler.  Sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t.  If I ever get SO accomplished that the little difference in using the cutting mat to measure is what’s throwing me off, I’ll change 🙂
  4. When I’m going to have a 4-point intersection, I press seams to the side whenever possible so that they can be nested.  This makes a big difference in aligning the intersection precisely, at least for me.

    Here are the pieces laid side by side as they will be sewn, so you can see the seams pressed in opposite directions.

  5. I learned somewhere to put the pin to the side of the intersection that will be sewn second so that the foot is pushing the intersection together.  It is the opposite of what I was doing, and it seems to work.
  6. Even more important, Cindy Williams told me to always sew in the direction shown by the arrow (above) so that the seams are pushed together rather than apart as you sew.  That one really does help (thanks, Cindy!).  If the piece is small enough, I’ll even use the opposite side of the foot when necessary to be able to sew in this direction
  7. And now the picky part, but it saves time and frustration.  If I have any doubts, I set my stitch length as long as possible and machine baste through the intersection and about 1″ on each side. Then I look.  If it matches, great; just set the stitch length back to normal and sew the entire seam. Sew right on top of the basting.  If the intersection doesn’t match, it’s quick and easy to pull that basting thread out and try again.
  8. If the problem with matching seams is that the two pieces being joined are not quite the same size, here are a few options.
    1. Take out a couple of inches of one of the seams and make it either bigger or smaller, depending, and then taper your stitching back into the original seam line an inch or two down from the end where you started.
    2. If the difference isn’t too much, pin well and then sew with the longer piece on the bottom.  The feed dogs sometimes can “ease in” a section that is a bit too big.
  9. Finally, I choose my limits.  Sure these points match, but I really don’t plan on making another quilt that requires bringing 6 seams together any time soon!

Please feel free to email me with questions. And thanks to Chela and others for the idea for a post!

 

My 2020 Workshops and Guild Talks

I have updated my list of workshops and guild talks, so I’m publishing it here.  Please pass along to anyone who may be looking for presenters.

Guild talks:

  1. “What is Modern Quilting?”  The Modern Quilt Guild has their own definition, but I find that there is not much new under the sun and illustrate this with slides of quilts by the Amish, Gees Bend, Gwen Marston, and others, as well as many quilts shown at QuiltCon, the Modern Quilt Guild’s annual conference.
  2.  “Improvisational Quilting”  I illustrate this with many quilts of my own and have a post on my blog that goes with the presentation for those who want to try improvising.  Here’s the link for the post:  https://zippyquilts.blog/2019/11/03/improvising/I also have three improvisation workshops, two beginner and one advanced.

Workshops:

YOW! Learn 3 Ways to Piece Curves  (6 hours)

In this class you will make lively quarter circle blocks that can be assembled in multiple ways depending on your preference.  Three different methods for piecing the curves will be taught, so you can try them all and decide what works best for you.  This quilt can be very traditional (think Drunkard’s Path) or very modern depending on your color choices and how you want to arrange the blocks.  There is no pattern for this class, but the supply list does include templates.

——————————————————————————————————————–Intro to Improvisational Quilt Blocks  (6 hours, but can be shortened to 3 hours)Bring your scraps and learn 3 ways to improvise quilt blocks, then consider ways to combine them into an original quilt.

——————————————————————————————————————-Improvisational Design: Table Runner (6 hours)

This is a challenging class in which you will design your own table runner using nontraditional methods.  You will learn about choosing fabrics, designing focal points, and changing your design when you don’t like the way it’s going.  Your runner will not look like mine; it will be your own!

——————————————————————————————————————–Wonky Stars (3 hours)This is an easy introduction to improvisational design.  Bring your scraps and learn to make wonky stars and choose colors that will go well together in a small quilt.

——————————————————————————————————————-Quilt-As-You-Go (QAYG) 3 Ways (6 hours)

QAYG has been around at least since the 1970s, when long arm quilting wasn’t really available.  Although we have many more options now, QAYG remains one way to quilt an entire top yourself without having to maneuver a large quilt on your domestic machine or quilt by hand.  We will learn 3 QAYG techniques in the morning, and you’ll get started with the technique you like best in the afternoon.  Make a quilt like my sample, or bring a pattern of your choice and I’ll help you figure out how to use QAYG with it.

——————————————————————————————————————–Alien Among the Stars (6 hours)

This is a fun class in which to learn how to make wonky stars and a couple of easy ways to applique the alien.  The stars can be made from bright scraps or from yardage.  The alien can be made from Kraft-Tex or from fabric.  I will discuss the pros and cons of using Kraft-Tex for applique and you can check it out on my sample before you decide what you want to do.

——————————————————————————————————————

Some of these workshops will be offered as classes at Studio Stitch in Greensboro (NC).

Any feedback on these offerings is appreciated.  Is there something I should add?  Something that’s been overworked that I should remove?

Have a good week!

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 😉