Sunday, November 26, 2017

Sample Sale

Do you have a favorite quilt or project from Improvising Tradition? Now is your chance to own your one-of-a-kind original piece. I'm having a sample sale in my etsy shop. Order between now and December 1, and receive 20% off with coupon code IMPROVTRADSALE.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Pillowcases Project

Looking at my stash, I have learned something about myself as a quilter. I work primarily with tone on tone prints and solids. I have plenty of them (ahem), but I also tend to buy a lot of multicolored and novelty prints. I find these sorts of fabrics harder to use in quilts, so they tend to accumulate, sitting unused on my shelf. Is it the same for you?
Thankfully, the perfect use for these prints came to me. Pillowcases! Larger projects, like pillowcases, that use only one or two fabrics give me free rein to use even the boldest, most unique fabrics. I used the pattern in School of Sewing to make a few pillowcases for Operation Christmas Child. The pattern is easy to follow and perfect for yard cuts (two different yards will make two coordinating pillowcases). It makes a very durable pillowcase with french seams. It isn't designed for directional prints, but with an additional seam, you can work around that like I did for pillowcases for my boys last year.
I got these done just in time, but they are so quick to make, I think I need to make some more for Christmas gifts for local friends and family. Oh, maybe I'll try flannel!

Monday, October 23, 2017

Scattered Colors Table Runner, Custom

I was commissioned to make a Scattered Colors Table Runner with teal and mustard solids. I used mostly shot cottons on a peppered cotton background in charcoal.
This is a really quick project if you need a housewarming or hostess gift. It's also a great pattern to double. Like cookies, it is just about as easy to make two as it is to make one, while you've got all the strips out. You can find the pattern for this runner in Improvising Tradition.
I grabbed a few shots of the runner in the golden morning light.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Quarter Log Cabin Pillow

This project started with some leftover strips from a couple of projects that were sitting on the side of my cutting table looking like they belonged together. I use the strips to make a couple of improv quarter log cabin blocks, and I liked them. I made a couple more. Together these four blocks, deliberately mismatched, create a wonky, disjointed whole. It was a casual, unintentional project that just sort of happened. Sometimes those are my favorite kind.
I made the blocks into a pillow with some straight line quilting, a mustard back with zip closer, and a flanged binding.
The plum and mustard fabrics feel like fall to me. The pillow finishes at 20" square.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Shibori Zip Pouch

Remember the beautiful shibori hand dyed fabrics I got to make last year in an indigo dying workshop with Kim Eichler-Messmer? I hardly do either; it's been so long. Well, I finally found a project to use one of the panels I made. 
I chose one of my favorite shibori pieces, called arashi, which is made by wrapping the fabric around a large tube, looping string around it repeatedly, very tightly, and dunking the whole thing in indigo dye. It was hard to cut into this fabric, to be honest, but I did it to make the extra large size of the Essential Pouch, a pattern by Sotak Handmade.
I love the text fabric lining and the mustard zipper. The base is peppered cotton in charcoal - all of my favorite things in one little bag.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Quick Fall Table Runner

There's no denying that fall is my favorite season, especially since becoming a Midwesterner. There is just so much to do outside as the air turns cooler, and every weekend hosts a slew of possibilities for family activities. Trips to the apple orchard as well as the pumpkin patch are on my must do list every year. September is quite possibly the best month of fall too, so today is the perfect time to share my latest fall make. The inspiration for this piece is a runner I pinned years ago. (I've been made aware that the maker, Emily, has since created a pattern for the runner which you can find here.) This table runner came together very quickly; I didn't use a pattern. I pulled out my 2 1/2" scrap strips and a lovely grey woven solid and created mirrored chevrons using the same method for creating the improv angles I describe in my book Improvising Tradition for the Shattered Chevrons quilt. 
I paired simple straight line quilting to accentuate the chevrons with a bit of free motion quilting in the center of the runner. The same Aurifil thread worked beautifully for both. I like to use 50 weight for quilting because of how it sinks into the fabric while still creating a lovely texture.
For the back I used an Anna Maria Horner print that I really love. I think runners should be reversible whenever possible, so this side will work well for table decoration when I need something a bit simpler.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Zip It Pillow

My older son decided he wanted to take on a sewing project this summer, and he chose the Zip It Pillow from School of Sewing. He's done a little sewing before, so he was able to make it mostly on his own, including the lapped zipper (I helped with the rotary cutting and the binding). This is the book to use if you want to learn to sew or to teach someone to sew. Shea's instructions are precise and clear. Remember, I said my eleven year old installed a lapped zipper pretty much on his own. The result is a neat, sturdy pillow that should survive lots of squeezes, tosses, and otherwise affectionate use.
The novelty print is Supernova by Dear Stella, and my son chose this snazzy orange binding as a nice contrast. It turned out perfectly for his room, and he is very proud of his work.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Jewel Stars Quilt

This quilt proves that it's never too late to finish a long term project. I first blogged about these jewel stars as a new English paper piecing shape back in 2011! It seems I started  joining the stars to diamonds and wrote about assembling thee quilt top in 2014. Ironically I ended the post with a joke that surely it wouldn't be another three years before I finished the quilt. Ha! Guess what time it is, folks? Yup, three years later, but it is finally done.
My favorite part of the process by far was making each little star. Finding just the right fabric combinations and fussy cutting the jewel and hexagon shapes was a delight. I spent many a gymnastics and taekwondo lesson happily cutting, gluing, and sewing those gems. What bogged me down was the assembly of the stars into the background and to each other. That was not quite as fun, and the larger it got, the more awkward it was to hand piece. I'm happy I soldiered through it though, as the final 44 x 50 quilt is a fun I-spy game and snugly cover in one. Can you spot the annoyed owl? Cute frog? Cotton candy stand? Terrified terrier in a teacup?

I backed the quilt in scraps of flannel, making it extra cozy, and continued the scrap theme with several different leftover yellow binding strips.

Hopefully I've made everyone feel between about the WIPs or UFOs languishing in your sewing areas. They may get finished one day!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

En Pointe 2.0

I suppose En Pointe 2.0 is a bit of a misnomer, although I like the way it sounds. This was actually the original version of the wall hanging from Improvising Tradition before I decided to change the colors as inspired by Degas ballerina paintings.
I found the abandoned top a while ago and decided to finish it. My favorite bit is the sparkle of the golden shot cotton.
Do you ever make a quilt more than once, changing the fabrics? I tend to prefer the original when I do, but these each have their charms. I like the more masculine colors of this version, as well as the teal voile binding.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Scrappy Triangles Quilt

My first finished quilt of 2017 is this Scrappy Triangles Quilt. I took my time on this one and probably enjoyed the fabric layout the most of all the steps in the process. I limited myself to triangles I had cut from my scrap bins. Creating color gradations and a pleasing overall look was quite a challenge under that limitation. 
At the same time I always love using scraps. Revisiting favorite fabrics and seeing them play with new and unexpected friends in a layout like this is energizing and enjoyable. I definitely recommend making scrap quilts. Very therapeutic.
I quilted this with a variation on a paisley but with a rounded shape rather than teardrop. I like the bubble effect it gives and the softeness of the circles against the sharp edges of the triangles.
The backing was a gift from a friend, and I like how the circles echo the quilting design. The binding is a mix from my scrap binding bin, including a piece I trimmed from the backing after basting. Use it all.
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The quilt finished at 47 x 58, a generous baby size, and I think it will be a gift for a baby coming soon to a treasured teacher and grandmother.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Scrappy Triangles

Whew, it's been a while! A few kind friends have asked where I've been, and I thought I'd do a quick update post and share what little sewing I manage to do these days. The short version is that I've been writing - not another quilting book, but writing for educational publishers. My background is in teaching, writing, and literature, so it's really a great fit. It doesn't leave me with much time or energy for quilting though. As much fun as blogging is, it does require quite a bit of time. Instagram is a much easier way for me to share quick snapshots.  I didn't take the time to get "real" photos of this project along the way, so I'll share my IG shots. In need of scrap therapy, I managed to cut a few triangles in the evenings and ended up with an inspiring stack.

The next step seemed to me to be some mindless chain sewing around the holidays. So relaxing.

I played around with the triangles on the design wall and discovered that creating color gradations with a stack of scrappy print fabrics is a real challenge. Value is complicated by white in so many prints, not to mentioned how multicolored prints read from a few steps back. Then there is the fact that in places I wanted a certain color to transition between color blocked areas of the design, but that color wasn't present in my scrap bins. It took some careful arranging, thought, and compromise. I challenge you to try it; you'll see.

I am happy with my final arrangement, which I will share soon. I'm hoping to get a little time to baste the top this weekend. I am usually inclined towards limited color palettes, but there is something about a rainbow in winter. I decided not to fight it.