Monday, September 22, 2014

Improvising Tradition

I've been anticipating this post for over two years, as I have been in the process of writing my first book.  I'm so excited to finally be able to share it with you!  Improvising Tradition: 18 Quilted Projects Using Strips, Slices and Strata will be available November 27th.


The book teaches several improvisational techniques, step by step, pairing them with traditional skills and methods. It is my hope that this book will give you the tools you need to create your own improvisational quilts, embracing an element of spontaneity while building on the traditional techniques you already know.
I'm also thrilled to be able to give you some sneak peeks of projects in the book, over the coming weeks.  The first is another shot of the cover quilt.  This is the Waterfall Quilt, along with its coordinating quilted sham.  This project set is from the Strata section of the book.
photo by Joe Hancock, copyright 2014

I've created a Facebook page for the book, if you'd like to stay up to speed on sneak peeks that way.  You can count on updates across all social media platforms, and the links to all of mine are now in the right sidebar.
 
 

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Autumnal Table Runner

I made this improv table runner as a wedding gift for a good friend.  I wanted to use some gorgeous Oakshott scraps in fall colors, and that inspired me to divide the runner with a strip of brown, evoking a tree branch.
 

The improv technique I used is a variation on slice and insert, and it creates some wonderful abstract shapes.  My younger son informs me that "Abstract is when you get to make whatever you want - kind of like scribbles, but it is artwork." That's not too far off, and I'm a fan.
The blocks of color made it fun to quilt. I emphasized the divide between the colors by quilting the cream in swirls and the tan in elongated meandering ripples.  I did a simple rectangular spiral in each of the colored inserts.
I made a pieced binding to continue the background colors in the runner. It makes the binding sort of disappear, leaving the focus on the fall colors.
I was very tempted to keep the runner for myself, which I'm told is the sign of a good gift.  I hope it will see many happy years in my friend's home.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Improv Wonky Cross Quilt

This 40 x 50 baby quilt is the product of my blocks from guild friends in the Whatever Bee.  I made a practice wonky cross version (a maquette, if you will) a few months ago which helped me to identify the features I liked in this sort of a slice and insert block.  Like the practice quilt, I kept the blocks the same height but varied the widths.  I also added a few half blocks and stacked them in pairs, just for fun (hint: this is a great fix for a block that may end up being slightly too small).  Improv quilting is awesome like that. Here a fun tutorial by a guild member Carla on how to make this type of block, two at a time.
This type of improv block is perfect for a bee.  It gives the quilters specific instructions while allowing them some flexibility to experiment.  My friends were all kind enough to make me two blocks, so I had some extra to use on the back of the quilt.
I am donating this quilt to one of our guild's community service projects, Birthday Blessings, a local charity.  I am also submitting it to 100 Quilts For Kids.  This annual quilt drive is great because it allows you to donate locally to a children's charity of your choosing.  Just add a link to an online photo of your quilt, and you can participate.  There are prizes!  The link is open through the end of the month, so you still have time.  The post even includes ideas for simple quilts to make.
Thanks so all my friends who contributed blocks!  I know this is going to be well used by some little guy in our community.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

A Dress, a Baby, and Some Horses

This 42 x 46 baby quilt was a custom design for a friend of a friend.  The story behind the quilt is really sweet actually.  The customer sent me her bridesmaid dress and asked me to incorporate it into a simple patchwork quilt for a friend (the bride previously) who is expecting a baby.
As we discussed possible fabrics, I stumbled upon this wonderful, scrappy patchwork quilt top by Heather on instagram, which we both liked.  The horse print from Melody Miller's Mustang line for Cotton and Steel was the starting point, along with the blue solid from the dress.  I was able to pull the rest from my stash (hooray!). 
It was so fun to have free rein to choose many non traditional fabrics for a this eclectic quilt.  I especially love the ledger print from Architectures by Carolyn Friedlander, the mustard wood grain by Joel Dewberry, and the aqua print from Field Study by Anna Maria Horner.
  

The back is a fun text print and a column of scrap strips.  And I think black and white striped binding is almost always a good idea.
 
 
I hope the new mom loves the quilt as much as I do, and hopefully my customer will be pleased with it too.  The dress fabric makes this quilt a nice reminder of their friendship.

Friday, August 22, 2014

English Paper Piecing Revisited

I last wrote about this (very long term) English paper piecing project three years ago.  I can't believe it's been that long since I worked on it, but that's what the blog record  says.  I'd forgotten how fun it is to fussy cut scraps for the shapes.  I played around with the various effects you can get from fussy cutting stripes, dots, and other motifs on your fabric. You can see lots of individual pictures of the stars in my instagram feed.
I am still using the paper shapes from Paperpieces and the Sewline glue pen.  Making the jewel stars is relatively quick (I mean, this is hand sewing after all). I can make one, start to finish, including the fussy cutting, while waiting through one gymnastics class (about 45 minutes).  It's nice to have a portable sewing project, especially with so many sports practices these days.
Now that I have about ten stars made, I'm working on joining them to the low volume background fabrics and sewing them onto the group I made a few years ago.  This step is slow going and a bit of a puzzle.
Hopefully it won't be another three years before I have more to show you on this project.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Scrappy Improv Strip Quilt

If you've been reading my blog for a while, or know me at all as a quilter, you know I love scraps.  I also love improv quilting.  Put them together, and I am in my favorite sewing place.  This scrappy, improv strip quilt was sewn up just for fun.  I had the idea to play with value and strips again, but in a different way from Partly Cloudy.  Instead of short strips used in strip sets, I sewed the strips end to end to create long, narrow columns.  And instead of concentrating the darkest values in the center, I put them at the top and the bottom of the quilt.  The lighter strips in the middle become the focus of the quilt. The varying lengths of the lighter strips makes the design dynamic.

I like how the quilt moves from pink to orange to yellow as well.  These bright, warm colors just scream summer to me. 
 
While I was playing with my scrappy strips, I sewed up a few improv log cabin blocks.  They never get old!  I used three of my favorite on the back of the quilt.
 
The quilt finishes at 58" x 71" and it just the right size for napping or picnicking or napping at a picnic.  I think it would be sweet in a girl's room at the end of a bed too.  The quilt is listed in my etsy shop. SOLD

Friday, July 18, 2014

Board Shorts Quilt

I'm excited to share some photos of a quilt of mine that appears in Stitch magazine. You can find the pattern for Board Shorts in the summer issue. It's a very simple quilt pattern, quick to piece, and perfect for beginners.
This twin sized quilt (70" x 87.5") was inspired by the striped board shorts surfers wear.  The Boys of Summer section of the magazine has some nice beachy, masculine projects including mine. 
I love the summery color palette.  All Kona cottons, I found all the colors I needed at Marmalade fabrics.  Thanks again to Tammy for letting me come over and try out a zillion combinations.  I love how she labels the Kona color names. So handy!
The quilting was done by Tia Curtis in an all over design.
The quilt is perfect for a twin bed, dorm room, or picnic blanket.  It is available now in my etsy shop.