Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Digger Quilt

 
This little quilt was inspired by a quilt made by Alidiza which featured a single block (Preppy the Whale by Elizabeth Hartman) within a simple stripe.  I thought it was the perfect way to use a single paper pieced block, and naturally my Busy City blocks came to mind.
I enlarged one of the 4 x 6 blocks by 200% to make an 8 x 12 block.  This works particularly well with any of the more complex blocks in the pattern.  The good news is they are even easier to sew in this larger size.  Don't tell the other blocks, but this backhoe digger has always been my favorite in the set, so it was fun to feature it.
I backed the quilt with a great crosshatch by Carolyn Friedlander from her Architextures line.  The print blends really well with both the white and navy thread I used for the quilting.  I chose rounded edges and bias binding to finish the quilt.
This 40 x 56 quilt is a great size for preschoolers, and it sews up so quickly!  You can definitely make one in time for that upcoming baby shower or birthday party or to send to school with him or her for naptime.  And the great thing is that you can let your little person choose the block they like best (there are 35 total in the pattern, with plenty to appeal to girls too).
I'd love to see your Busy City projects.  Upload them to the flickr pool or tag them #busycityquilt on Instagram.  (Note, if you decide to enlarge a block, be sure to adjust the seam allowances around the edges to 1/4 inch.)  This quilt is available in my etsy shop.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Another Sneak Peek from Improvising Tradition

I'm excited to share another project from my new book Improvising Tradition. The Ribbons Placemats are found in the Slice and Insert section of the book.  This pattern shows you both how to cut and sew curves improvisationally.  These are great skills to add to your toolbox of quilting techniques.
photo by Joe Hancock, copyright 2014
 
The ribbon-like flow of the curved pieces is emphasized by the quilting on the Essex linen as well as the use of ombré fabrics.  All the elements combine to make a very simple design into one that is so dynamic.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Autumnal Improv Remix

The minute I wrapped up the Improv Table Runner for my friend, I started thinking about making another one.  While I didn't have enough Oakshott scraps leftover to make another runner, I did have just enough to make a quilted pillow.
 
The pillows is made with the same techniques and materials as the runner.  I even quilted it the same way.   I just made each piece a bit smaller, of course, and I backed it with a self lining envelope closure and added brown binding.
 
The quilted pillow cover is about 15 x 27, and I found a down pillow form at a home furnishings store that makes it super squishy and cozy.  We're really enjoying our autumnal décor this month.

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.