Tag Archives: quilting

My Modern Fabric Designer All-Star Quilt

April is nearing its end, which means I’ve been shop hopping every chance I get. On Saturday, I went on a whirlwind 10 hour trip up the coast of Maine from Freeport to Nobleboro, visiting six shops before calling it a day. I will be introducing you to all of the shops I’ve visited in the next few weeks, but will spread them out a bit.

With all of this shop hopping going on the past few weeks, I’ve been really itching to start a new project. More specifically, a new quilt. I’ve been quite drawn to low volume, black and white, and grey tone fabrics lately, and have developed a fairly decent stash of them, at least for a beginner like me. I have decided it’s time to pull them out and get them into a quilt. During my epic shop hop along the Maine coast on Saturday, I bought the fabric needed to supplement my stash and I got started cutting last night. I’m so excited about this quilt!

IMG_0621 IMG_0634This quilt will contain fabric from many of my all-time favorite designers, and seeing all of these gems together makes me very, very happy. Little glimpses of Carolyn Friedlander’s Botanics & Architextures, Lotta Jansdotter’s Sylvia, Denyse Schmidt’s Chicopee, Anna Maria Horner’s True ColorsSarah Jane’s Wee Wander, Laurie Wisbrun’s Perfectly Perched, Lori Mason’s Koyoto Garden, Brigitte Heitland’s Zen Chic, Violet Craft’s Madrona Road, Beth Studley’s Henna, and more. I need some Alison Glass and Tula Pink in there… who am I missing? In my eyes, it’s the all-stars of the modern fabric design world all in one.

I don’t know about you, but I’m counting down the minutes until my kids go to bed and I can sew!

Do you like to make quilts out of primarily one fabric line (plus coordinates or solids), or do you mix and match?

 

An Unexpected Element

“Don’t point out mistakes in your quilting; call them artistic elements.”

I hear this sage advice often, especially when a fellow quilter posts pictures of newly finished quilts, lamenting the mistakes that only (s)he can see. As a quasi-perfectionist, I know how much little mistakes and imperfections can stand out. I also am learning when it’s worth befriending the seam ripper and when it’s better to carry on.

The past few days I’ve been practicing my free motion quilting skills, in the form of quilting many different patterns into my latest quilt. The quilt is slated for a baby, so my goal is to use the quilting designs to make it a sensory adventure. Late into the evening, when I was really getting into the groove, I got excited and lost a bit of focus, or perhaps I was a bit too focused. The result was this:

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I was so focused on those awesome, yet breath-stealing pebbles, I didn’t realize I was creating quite a mountainous sashing. But no worries–it’s not a mistake. It’s an unexpected artistic element: a mountainous sensory adventure. Right?

Perfect Seams on National Quilting Day

Today, March 15, 2014 is officially National Quilting Day! To celebrate, I actually spent some time… quilting! I made progress on a quilt that I’m making as a gift, so details will not be shared today (as much as I want to!). While piecing the final border of the quilt, I was reflecting on how well my 1/4″ seams come out now that I use a secret trick shared by a local quilter. Today is the perfect day to share the trick!

All you need is one basic supply: 1/4″ quilters tape. I use Dritz Quilter’s Tape but any brand should work. I stretch the quilters tape the full length of my sewing machine, with the machine’s 1/4″ seam guide line aligned with the tape’s left edge.  Take your time and get the tape perfectly aligned and straight, since this will be your guide. Before employing this trick, my 1/4″ seams were extremely varied and inconsistent, which lead to puckery and not-quite matching seam intersections. This tape provides a visual and uninterrupted guide while I’m sewing, and my seams have been SO much better.

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A scant 1/4″ seam, meaning it is a bit less than 1/4″ in width, is preferred since pressing often makes up for the minor discrepancy.  If your seam is larger than 1/4″, however, there’s no fixing it!

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Look at that perfect seam!

A seam that is a little bit off might not seem like a big deal, but when you’re piecing a border composed of many pieces, when every seam is a little too wide it eventually adds up to a border that is an inch or more too small! The exactness of quilting is one of the aspects that really resonates with me, and this new seam trick has worked wonders in helping me create quilts with exactly matching seams, visible symmetry, and MUCH less frustration.

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The 1″ white sashing strips between 2×6″ blocks turns out perfectly, which will hopefully mean this border’s addition to the rest of the quilt will go seamlessly (pun intended!).

Do you have any tricks to creating perfect seams? If you try this method, I’d love to hear what you think. Happy quilting!



Four-pointed Star Pattern Published

I’m more than a little excited! I’ve officially published my first paper piecing pattern! I decided that the little four-pointed star I designed as an element for my Delight in the Little Things art quilt would be a great spot to start in my attempts to learn the ways of Inkscape.
cropped-2014-02-05-15-35-212.jpgYou can find the pattern in my Craftsy Pattern Store. Since my original pattern is for a scant 4″ square, I included larger options in the pattern. Those two dollars and fifty cents not only will get you the 4″ paper piecing pattern template, it will also get you a 6″ and 12″ version. Sweet deal!
What’s even slightly more exciting is that I’ve already had one buyer! Little does that buyer know, but she will be receiving a little “Congratulations! You’re my first buyer” gift in the mail.

Be Kind Chocolates

These are delicious chocolates made locally in the town of Belfast, Maine. I can vouch for their deliciousness! Yummm! Hopefully she enjoys the chocolates while creating some awesome starry project. I can’t wait to see what others create with my patterns!

QuiltCon

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As the wife of a computer programmer who has gone to many -Con conferences, I’m intrigued by this relatively new Modern Quilting Conference.  The Modern Quilt Guild just announced next year’s conference, which will be the second one ever held.  As the mom of two little ones, including one who still regularly needs momma-milk, my chances are slim at getting to this conference, but who knows what the future holds, right?

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Did any of you quilters go to the 2013 QuiltCon?  What was it like? Would you recommend it to a newbie quilter just getting out into the world of pattern design and quilt stitching?

Circling Gulls Taking Shape

People talk about “the paper piecing bug” and how once you try paper piecing, you are hooked for good. I think I must have somehow fallen into the hive of paper piecing bugs, because I am HOOKED! I love how precise you can be, I love that you can create fabric pictures of just about anything, I love the promise of possibility. Soon after sewing a few paper pieced projects, I started dreaming up new patterns. Leave it to Pinterest to inspire creativity. I somehow stumbled upon this tutorial, and within minutes had my squared notebook in hand.

Sketching designs old school style.
Sketching designs old school style.

As with just about anything, I don’t start simple. I don’t think it’s within my brain function.  My first paper pieced design was for violets. As you can see, this is not the simplest of designs, but they look like violets!!

Violet paper pieced pattern

My brain continued to swirl, and next up came an idea for seagulls circling around a starfish, or maybe a crab. I finally decided on starfish since it would be much easier to create as a pattern, and the design began to come to life.

Designing the Old School Way

I walked through the old-school process for this pattern completely before finding Inkscape, and my first (second if you count the little 4″ star from my art quilt) sewn self-designed paper pieced pattern will be these circling gulls.  The fuzz from photocopies of photocopies aren’t the crispest, but the pattern is proving to be quite functional!

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I finished sewing the first of four blocks while at a Paper Piecing class at my local quilt shop, Fiddlehead Artisan Supply in Belfast.  I can’t wait to complete the last three blocks to see how it looks all together!

Delight in the Little Things

At the end of last year, I joined a 12×12″ Art Quilt group on Facebook, just in time for the word “delight”.  The idea behind the group is that they post a word each month, and members design and create a 12×12″ art quilt inspired by that word.

I am always inspired by the tiny bits of beauty in nature.
I am always inspired by the tiny bits of beauty in nature.

Thinking about “delight”, the first thing that came to mind was “delight in the little things”. I started brainstorming what that would mean in terms of a small quilt.   I have a penchant for color gradient aesthetics, and since 12″x12″ is relatively small, I thought this would be a perfect time to make a quilt out of 1″ squares.  I have always delighted in the little amazing miracles found in nature, so I knew the natural world had to be a part of my quilt.  Sunbursts and the play of light on the world, reminiscent of laying in the grass looking up at floating seeds glinting in the sunlight as they swirl in the wind (an activity frequented by my kids and I during the warm summer months) was the ultimate inspiration for my quilt.  Enough talk. Here’s my process:

After cutting all the 1.5" squares, the next task was to lay it all out and find a pleasing gradient.
After cutting all the 1.5″ squares, the next task was to lay it all out and find a pleasing gradient.
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I created a 4″ paper pieced star to fit into my design. It’s now for sale on Craftsy!
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Matching seams like a boss! I continued to swap squares in and out as I got generous donations of blue scraps from friends and quilting buddies, until I finally settled on an arrangement I liked.
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Attaching the final row… Pins right next to each seam seemed to help me line them up the best. I definitely befriended my seam ripper for this project!
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Next I planned out the applique placement, and started to think about hand quilted embellishments.
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I played with the binding since I wanted to continue the gradient and not completely frame it in. I really like the way it turned out, and the little burst of yellow on the bottom corner might be one of my favorite elements.
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Silver embroidery thread paired with dark blue blanket stitch gives a nice feel of light glinting off the silhouetted dandelion seed.
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Expect the unexpected. The yellow bursts of color jump from a near-black binding.
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I opted for silver hand-quilting around the sunburst star.

Of course, I wanted to photograph the finished quilt during daylight hours to get the most from natural light.  As a stay home mom of two little ones, cameos from the kids were bound to happen. Maddie decided she wanted to help me display the quilt in the best light, and then while photographing smaller details, Max decided to help by flopping right down on top of the quilt!

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I am really happy with how this quilt turned out, and I’m definitely going to be making more art quilts.  This particular quilt will be donated to the Altruistic Art Show hosted by The Kindness Project in Bangor.  Like it? Go enter for a chance to win it while benefiting a good cause.

altruistic art show

Bring on Inkscape

This post was written a few nights ago, before The Night Quilter blog was live.
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Don’t get me wrong: I love graph paper! There’s something about sketching out a design and working through the logistics of turning it into a paper piecing pattern with nothing but your squared notebook, a pencil (and eraser!), a ruler, and your swirling mind.  However, turning that creation into a share-able, let alone potentially sell-able, pattern using the old school graph paper method is less than ideal.
It works! But it's a LOT of work!
It works! But it’s a LOT of work!
Enter, Inkscape.
While I type this post, inkscape is downloading onto my computer. Inkscape is a free vector graphics editor that will hopefully allow me to get started in learning computer-based paper piecing designing.
inkscape logo
At the very least, with a cost of FREE, it won’t break the bank. Woot woot!  Hopefully learning to use it will be easier than my old school method: draw, refine (read: erase, redraw, repeat), photo copy, cut, tape to plain paper, draw 1/4 seam allowances, photo copy, arrange, create word document with necessary text, attempt to format around anticipated paper piecing pattern drawing, print, cut and paste pattern onto word printout, photocopy again, approve? Scan and convert to pdf.  Talk about noise! All of those photocopies of a photocopy of graph paper ends up with quite a fuzzy pattern. Functional, yes. Aesthetically crisp, no.
Bring on Inkscape!