Monday, August 24, 2015

Castle Peeps Quilt

My dear friend Lauren humors my love of scraps by sharing hers with me periodically. That's a good friend, right?! In this last batch, she included several WIPS/UFOS (works in progress/unfinished objects). I couldn't resist the blocks she shared using Lizzy House's adorable Castle Peeps line. It's such a quirky, whimsical set of prints. The colors and fabrics are very Lauren, and the quilt also makes me think of forests and Robin Hood. Fun!
I finished up the improv log cabin blocks by making a few of my own to add to the mix (12 x 12, 6 x 12, and 6 x 6 blocks), piecing, and quilting the 36 x 48 baby quilt. I'm donating it to Project Linus and linking up to 100 Quilts for Kids.
I definitely recommend pairing up with a friend to swap WIPS and finish them, especially for a quick finish for a charity project. 100 Quilts for Kids runs through September 30th, so you still have time to finish up an old project, or a friend's project, and give a handmade gift to child in need. Remember, you can donate the quilt to any organization in your area that you like. Just link up for a chance to win prizes and see other quilters' contributions. I hope you'll join in!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

A Tale of Two Table Runners

Believe it or not, this is the first project I've made from Improvising Tradition since it was published. A family member requested a handmade item, and the Scattered Colors Table Runner came to mind because it is quick to make and easy to customize. I loved seeing it come together in the cool colors he requested, and I shortened the runner lightly to fit his table by simply omitting a couple of strips. It would also be easy to make it wider or narrower. The pattern is very specific, but it also teaches you the method. Once you understand the method, you can adjust it to fit your needs so simply.
Using the fabrics from the front as a simple striped backing makes the runner reversible. Love that! I used beautiful blue and green shot cottons, and the gray is a Moda crossweave.

Once you have the fabrics out and begin cutting the strips, it is just as easy to make two runners as it is to make one. I made both over the weekend, finishing up the binding over the course of a piano lesson and an evening of movies. I have listed the second runner extra for my etsy shop. It measures 13" wide by 51" long.

Friday, August 14, 2015

A Whole Month of Improv Quilting

Did you know that Sandi of Crafty Planner  and Daisy of Ants to Sugar are dedicating a whole month of blog posts to improv quilting? Improv Quilting Month includes tutorials, podcasts, prizes, and book and class reviews. It's a great place to get a taste of the many different perspectives and techniques available on the subject. I find it interesting to see how quilters approach the same topic in so many unique ways.

Today Sandi reviewed Improvising Tradition, and you have a chance to win a copy, among other giveaways. Just post a picture of a recent or current improv project with the hashtag #improvquiltchallenge for a chance to win. I definitely recommend you peruse the hashtag on instagram for tons of improv inspiration!

Friday, August 7, 2015

Finished Aerial Grove Quilt

I finally hand stitched the last few inches of binding on my Aerial Grove quilt this morning. I have put so, so many hours of work and love into this quilt, from the hand applique to the intense improv quilting. I'm happy to say I'm keeping it! You can read more about the early stages of making this quilt here, where I wrote about my infatuation with this pattern from Carolyn Friedlander's book, Savor Each Stitch.
My favorite part of making this quilt is also my favorite feature in the finished quilt: creating the color gradation in the hand appliqued squircles (squarish circles). Varying the value of the fabrics in each gradation makes the design fade in and out and complicates the simple rows of shapes, especially from a distance.

The most challenging part of making the quilt was actually the quilting. I wanted to create an organic crosshatch around the squirlces, leaving them to puff out a bit, rather than quilting over top of them. In order to avoid stopping and starting at the edge of each applique shape as I would need to do with a walking foot, I used my free motion foot to simply quilt around each one and continue the line on the other side. As you can imagine on a large quilt, this made my crosshatch quite wonky indeed, but since the whole aesthetic of this quilt is improvisational and organic, I'm not unhappy with it at all.
Quilting the neutral sections of the quilt was also challenging as I continued to try to create straight-ish lines with the free motion foot to make rows and columns of various sizes, meant to be reminiscent of gardens or fields as seen from above, much like Carolyn's original quilt.

This pattern is my favorite kind: general directions and thorough instructions of technique, together with plenty of ways to make it your own.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Scattered Colors Table Runner

One of my favorite projects from Improvising Tradition is also the simplest to make. Scattered Colors Table Runner is the perfect pattern to try if you are new to improvisational piecing or if you are more experienced and want a quick project. The pattern is in the Slice and Insert section of the book. The design is simple, but it really packs a visual punch. (I can't believe I haven't shared the photo before now, even though I shared a project inspired by it in this post.)
photo by Joe Hancock

I made the runner using a crossweave for the background and shimmery shot cottons for the pops of color. The straight line quilting and matching binding keep the focus on the design.
I used rectangles of the featured fabrics on the front to create a striped backing, making the runner reversible. The texture of this runner is delicious.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Inspired by Improvising Tradition

I'm so pleased to be able to share with you today some of the many beautiful projects from Improvising Traditionthat are popping on social media. I was privileged to get to watch the creation of Nicole Ivey's Shattered Chevrons quilt each step of the way via Instagram (check out @purlverde for more of her gorgeous work), from fabric choice to quilting. I think her colors and fabrics are lovely; they are feminine with enough edge to suit the design. The herringbone quilting reinforces the design perfectly. I've already told her that I like her version better than my own!  It is such a lovely quilt.
Laurelle made this lovely table runner, based on the the Falling Leaves pattern. She even tackled the challenge of making her own template, which made me very proud. The technique explained in the book enables you to draft your own leaf template, a skill that can be adapted to a variety of curved piecing applications. Check out Laurelle's instagram account to see the fabric she was working to match, which makes the runner even more impressive.
Nurdan Kulluk-Rennert of Hug a Bit Quilts made the prettiest Scattered Colors runner, and she cleverly created matching place mats. The gray solid really makes her bold colors stand out.

Frequent commenter, constant encourager, and all around talented quilter, Debbie Jeske of A Quilter's Table took the inspiration of the En Pointe quilt and made her own version with the Pantone color of the year, Marsala. There was some amusement on Instagram over the bacon-like effect of the blocks, and she cleverly named the quilt Sizzling. My favorite elements of the quilt are all Debbie's: the asymmetrical layout, how one block engages the edge of the quilt including the binding, and the ghost block she created with quilting. It's just so good!
Lisa from Garden Gate Quilting also made a striking En Pointe wall hanging, and she shared one made by her friend Susie too. I love use of a print background for this design. It be really tricky to use larger scale prints as backgrounds because they tend to make seams really obvious, but this print is perfect.

I found Sara Kidd's gorgeous Nesting Square quilt on flickr, and she kindly agreed to let me share it here. She varied the values in her strata a bit more than I did in mine, and I like how it makes the piecing more noticeable.
I've linked to this on facebook before, but if you haven't read Kristi McDonough's review of Improvising Tradition, on her blog Schnitzel and Boo, you really should. It's honest and funny, and I love her mini quilt based on the XOXO baby quilt. Red and black are not colors I would have chosen, and aren't they cute? The fabrics fit the "love" theme so well.
Pam Lincoln of MamaSpark  blogged about her collaborative version of the Waterfall quilt. She and two friends, Judith and Robin, each made a strata strip in a different color and joined them to make this improv beauty. Making a large quilt with friends is such a good idea, and a quilt like this is the perfect way to do that.
Thank you so much to these talented quilters for allowing me to share their work here on the blog! As a designer and writer, there is nothing more fulfilling and flattering than begin able to see what someone has made, based on what I created. The solitary activity of making and writing creates a social connection and a shared endeavor in some small way. It's the best! I'd love to see what you make, and I will save your photos and links for another post. Contact me via any of the social media platforms (links on the right sidebar), or send me an email.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

En Pointe

En Pointe is a wall hanging from the Slice and Insert section of Improvising Tradition. The technique is quite simple. Slice a rectangle of a desired color and insert strips of your background fabric. In the book, I teach you how to insert the strips at angles, creating a really unique block that appears to float when set asymmetrically into the background.
photo by Joe Hancock
The color scheme of the quilt was inspired by the dusty pastels of Degas' ballerina paintings, which in turn inspired the name. The pink block makes me think of an abstract laced point shoe. You may recognize the design from a similar quilt I made a few years ago called Flashdance. Color makes such a difference in design. The quilt would look completely different with a dark background and monochromatic, neutral slices.
As always, I'd love to see what you make! You can reach me on just about every social media platform (links on the right side of the blog) or send me an email with a photo. I'm working on a post featuring projects made from the book.