Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Twirligigs Quilt - Scraps, Inc. Volume 2 Blog Tour

If you've visited my blog more than a couple of times, then you know I *heart* sewing with scraps. It's my favorite way to make quilts. My quilt, Stripes Earned, from Scraps, Inc. Volume 1 featured scraps strips in a very masculine palette in keeping with the military inspiration. When I was asked to contribute to Volume 2, I took the opportunity to make a quilt with feminine curves and a saturated, analogous color palette.
The name Twirligigs came from the hanging, spinning garden ornaments that twirl in the breeze. I made the quilt using freehand arcs, sewn by hand using needle turn applique to strips of natural Essex linen. The improv shapes and offset placement of the curves in the columns creates the effect of spinning, cascading spirals. It's just a lot of fun. The bold, graphic shapes work best with saturated fabrics like I chose, but the quilt could take on an entirely different feel done in low volume prints on a dark background. The contrast is key.
Nydia Kehnle did the photography for Scraps, Inc. Volume 2. The urban setting she chose is such a fun contrast to the softness of the quilts. I often struggle with  photographing my quilts in interesting ways, and Nydia has done a beautiful job. The book has a fresh and hip feel, as do the scrap quilts in it. The book features 15 scrappy quilt patterns, each by a different designer.
Lucky Spool has kindly offered a copy of Scraps, Inc. Volume 2 for me to giveaway. For a chance to win, leave a comment on how you like to photograph your quilts, or the type of photos you enjoy most. I will chose a winner at random on Thursday February 11th at noon. You can purchase a copy at 30% off the list price here until February 16th. Just use the code Scraps30 for the discount.
Check out more stops on the Scraps, Inc. Volume 2 blog tour for more chances to win! You'll get a sneak peek at all the quilts in the book.
 
Monday, February 8 Amy Smart, Diary of a Quilter Nydia Kehnle, Nydia Kehnle Design + Photography
Tuesday, February 9 Amy Friend, During Quiet Time Alexandra Ledgerwood, Teaginny Designs Wednesday, February 10 April Rosenthal, April Rosenthal - The {Studio} Blog Dorie Schwarz, Tumbling Blocks
Thursday, February 11 Erin Harris, House on Hill Road Janice Ryan, Better Off Thread
Friday, February 12 John Adams, Quilt Dad Kari Vojtechovsky, Craft Happy
Saturday, February 13 Katie Blakesley, Swim Bike Quilt Kati Spencer, From the Blue Chair
Sunday, February 14 Melissa Lunden, Lunden Designs Allison Harris, Cluck Cluck Sew Sherri McConnell, A Quilting Life  

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Beyond Cotton - Book Review

I've admired the work of Krista Fleckenstein for several years now through her blog Spotted Stones. I particularly enjoy her improv style and color sense. When I heard she was writing a book for Lucky Spool, I immediately reached out to share my eagerness to learn some of the techniques she planned to cover. Krista was kind enough to send me a copy of Beyond Cotton: Making by Hand: Stamp, Print, Dye and Paint 18 Modern Mixed-Media Sewing Projects.
Each project in the book features Krista's impeccable aesthetic showcased by clean, beautiful photography. These book teaches so many techniques I've been curious to learn more about like hand-carved stamps and screen printed designs used to create your own fabrics. Krista includes step-by-step photographs of each technique and lists not only the materials required for each project but exactly where to find them.
a page spread from Beyond Cotton
 
Stamping fabrics is actually a skill I already had on my goals for 2016, so the book arrived at the perfect time. The Block Printed Tea Towel is a great entry-level project for learning the technique at the same time as creating a beautiful, useful object. As I pondered how to carve my stamp, I thought about shapes that don't lend themselves well to quilting but might make interesting carved shapes, which led me to gingko leaves. I thought this technique would be a good was to explore their delicate variation of shapes.
After carving the stamps, I mounted them on plexiglass, as the book suggests for more complex shapes. I reinforced the slender stems with some extra bits to keep the stems from turning when pressed into the ink pad, and the shapes stamped beautifully. The plexiglass is such a great tip. It keeps your fingers clear of ink, allows for even pressure on each part of the shape, and makes the existing design visible so stamp placement is a breeze.
Krista recommends stamping on a slightly padded surface. She suggests a simple towel or a stamping surface constructed from basic materials as described in detail in the book. I found that the pressing surface of a portable cutting mat/ironing surface combo, as seen here, works really well in a pinch.
I want to try more ink colors and more stamp shapes. I love the chalkboard effect I got from using white ink on black fabric.
Beyond Cotton is a great resource for sewists of all stripes, covering specialized skills from working with leather and rivets to hand painting fabric. It is definitely worth adding to your library not only for reference but for inspiration.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Perfect Pillowcases

With Christmas around the corner, I realized I hadn't made anything for my boys. These pillowcases were the perfect quick project to fit into my holiday to do list. 
I followed the pattern from School of Sewing. The pattern is really well written and features a self-lined border, optional flange, and all French seams. I'm confident they will withstanding frequent washings because all the raw edges are enclosed and all the seams reinforced.
I found the fun Star Wars print at my local fabric store, Modern Makers (there is still some available, local peeps!), and I paired it with a dot and text print from my stash.
I know my boys are going to love finding these in their stockings. If you've got part of an afternoon or evening free, you've still got time to make a couple for someone on your list.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Quilted Pillow Times Four

I had so much fun making these quilted pillow covers. I chose some of my favorite shots cottons to create simple square in a square pillow tops. Then I went to town trying new free motion quilting designs from Christina Cameli's Step-By-Step Free-Motion Quilting book. The designs are called Portholes, Leafy, Flourish, and Spectrum.  This is Flourish, a fluid variation on a simple paisley design.
I think I've found my favorite methods of pillow backing this time. I used fusible fleece to interface the backing and closed the pillow with a lapped zipper. The result is sturdy and polished.
I've listed the pillow covers in my etsy shop. Here's a tip for puffy, full pillows. Use a pillow form, feather preferably, that is slightly larger than your cover. These covers are 18", and I used a 20" form.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Candy Coated Christmas Quilt

I've wanted to make a Christmas quilt for several years now but could never settle on a design that I liked, would have the patience to piece, and would look good in my house. I wanted something subtle but festive, simple but not monotonous to make. I discovered the perfect pattern in Sunday Morning Quilts by Amanda Jean Nyberg and Cheryl Arkison. The pattern, called Candy Coated, is an improv stripset design that is easy, quick, and perfect for using scrap strips. I made the quilt slightly wider and shorter than the pattern in order to make it a generous throw sized quilt.
 
The limited palette to cream, grey, and red gives the quilt a candy cane effect that isn't overly sweet.
I backed the quilt a soft flannel from Robert Kaufman and bound it with a scalloped stripe.
 
I used a simple loopy quilting design. It was a good choice because the quilt is very heavy because of the flannel. That, together with the large size, made it challenging to get through my tiny machine.
I love my new cozy, winter quilt. Now I'm all set for the holidays.


Thursday, October 29, 2015

Wonky Stacks Pillow

I came across a beautiful improv quilt by Kathy Loomis via Pinterest and was pleased to find an informative blog post attached. Kathy explains the technique for making what I'm calling wonky stacks, a method she learned in a workshop with Nancy Crow. The technique is one of those easy, genius methods you immediately wonder why you didn't think of on your own. I pulled out my scrap strips to play (this technique is the perfect use for scraps). The method is so simple! Just sew strips together in groups of three (using light, dark, light or dark, light,dark), subcut into bars, and stack.
I trimmed the bars to  4 1/2" wide and joined enough to make a column 20 1/2" long. I joined five columns to create a 20" pillow top.
It was so fun, I made another, playing with value by using light aqua strips paired with navy strips.
I quilted the orange pillow in straight lines and the blue pillow in a fun lily pad free motion design from Christina Cameli's book on free motion quilting. I backed both pillows with a simple self-lining envelope closure (tutorial from Crazy Mom Quilts).
 
In the off chance you don't want to rush to your sewing machine and make your own, both pillows are available in my etsy shop.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Free Pumpkin Patterns

To celebrate fall, I'm giving away my pumpkin block pattern in my Craftsy shop. The free pattern includes the paper piecing templates for both the 6 x 6 single pumpkin block, and this cute 12 x 12 block featuring a group of three pumpkins.


The single pumpkin block is perfect for beginners. Those more confident with paper piecing will have fun making the more challenging block with three pumpkins.

The pattern includes the templates alone. For detailed instructions and tutorials on paper piecing, check out some of the following links:

Beginning Paper Piecing by Ellison Lane or her video
How to Paper Piece on the Craftsy blog
Paper piecing video by Crafty Gemini