Tuesday, April 26, 2016
Had a few email questions about how I'm sewing my 2" stars and how on earth they could actually be easy so thought I'd post about how to make them. There are lots of funny coincidences that led to the start of what ambitiously will be a star quilt and not a cushion cover:)
My obsession with a certain antique quilt is well documented. Imagine my surprise to find it in the background of Anita Grossman Soloman in her Craftsy class! More exciting is that in this class she teaches a method of making stars without making geese. Using a paper template for cutting (not foundation piecing) she shows how to make a 6" inch star block. Before I was sewing stars this way which also works but requires more time, trimming and sewing prep. Both methods are effective but I wanted to modify and engineer an even faster method to make a much smaller star. I'm essentially a lazy and stressed sewer with little spare time these days...
Realized that instead of trying to reverse calculate and scale AGS's paper template technique down to get the size I wanted, I could use my die cutter specifically the 1 1/2" half square triangle and the 2 1/8" square dies to cut fabric and make hundreds of pieces for "square in a square" blocks very quickly. (If you don't have an Accuquilt or Sizzix simply cut layers of two 2 3/8" squares and slice them once on the diagonal for the triangles and cut 2 5/8" squares on point for the center.)
To make the block, sew each triangle in opposing pairs to the sides of the squares. Finger press the seams open to reduce bulk...
At this point the block is 3 1/2". Now comes the magic. You make cuts through the block and reverse the pointed pieces that have become flying geese. I learned this in the AGS class, but have been informed that Jenny Doan also uses this method in some of her MSQC tutorials for much larger blocks. I calculated that with 4 1" cuts around the perimeter my finished star would end up 2". A spinning or small easily turned mat is essential for this part.
After making a bunch, swap the components to make different stars.
Finger press the seam allowances in the top and bottom rows towards the outer squares and the two flying geese blocks in the second row towards the center square. Everything nests together beautifully and can be sewn chain piecing 10 blocks at a time with no pins.
I'm mixing up all the prints randomly so that the top is not overly designed and am enjoying the surprise of each finished block. Some are more successful than others. Making these stars is actually quite fast and tremendously addictive. Guess you could call Mary Elizabeth Kinch a bad influence:)
Wednesday, April 13, 2016
Mary Elizabeth Kinch. She is a madly creative quilter fascinated by both modern and antique designs. Her passion for quilting was ignited by working as a textile arts demonstrator at a local pioneer village. She's also quilted with the Gee's Bend women and counts Gwen Marston as a friend and mentor.
Mary Elizabeth is most well known for her obsession with quilts made of tiny blocks. With Biz Storms she is the author of "Small Blocks, Stunning Quilts" and "Small Pieces, Spectacular Quilts" . These are both inspiring and beautiful books with superb patterns and instructions for sewing in such a small scale. Her use of color is also interesting. She uses a variety of fairly subdued fabrics but the effect is never dull. There is a great deal of movement almost a visual shimmer in all the tops. MEK also designs for Windham fabrics and her "Modern Country" line is a fresh take on traditional small scale prints.
Not only are they technical wonders, her quilts are gorgeous. It was a really interesting evening and you could spend hours examining her work. Her blog is great too, filled with her pieces and she often posts stunning vintage finds as well. Lastly, while Mary Elizabeth seems perfectly sane, this is a woman who thinks any block over 3 inches is large?!
and here are some of the stars that will finish at 2". It may take years...
Thursday, March 31, 2016
Have prepped this month's Happy Days BOM blocks. They do look a little clumsy because the seam allowances are not turned under yet and some of the pieces placement needs adjusting This background is quite lemony compared to the others and makes the chevrons of the repeating stars look quite orange. The common wisdom is that you shouldn't mix cool and warm yellows nor use much of it but I don't see why. So far the experiment to learn to love yellow is working. I'm liking this quilt's sunniness now that the grey days of winter have been replaced by the grey days of spring. Have you heard similar rules about yellow? Do you break them?
Saturday, March 19, 2016
Today is "Worldwide Quilting Day" and to celebrate here is a rare and undated quilt that best embodies patchwork today. It is traditional and yet graphically modern. It is a timeless mix of pattern and space. Very few examples of this Bullseye pattern have been documented and they all seem to come from a tiny town in Pennsylvania. I hope whether you identify as a traditional, contemporary and/or modern quilter you find some time today, by hand or by machine, to sew something beautiful...
Monday, March 14, 2016
Cut and prepped almost 80 leaves to applique on 8 and a quarter half wreathes for my Sarah Fielke "Happy Days BOM" . Applique is not my strong suit but I'm hoping that by the end of this portion my skills are much improved. The star block for this month was also quite challenging. So far I'm learning to love yellow which was one of my personal challenges for this quilt. It is relentlessly cheerful...
Saturday, March 5, 2016
Here is a hooked rug from the early 1900's. It is such a great inspiration for a quilt. The stripes can be made from scraps, pieced strips, old shirts or prints. It is also a great project to practice sewing partial seams. This idea might bump up on my "To Do" list...
Sunday, February 21, 2016
I found this really cool quilt made of souvenir pennants on 1stdibs. It is such an original use of textiles that might otherwise end up in the garbage after their sentimental appeal was lost. The colours and typefaces make a beautiful and graphic design. I've seen quilts made of other unconventional fabrics such as dish towels, work clothing, bandanas and even candy wrappers. This quilt inspires me to try something similar with a box of horse show ribbons from younger days. Need to figure out the best way to sew them- foundation piecing? What's the most unusual material you've ever used or seen?
Saturday, February 13, 2016
Was at Ikea the other day and found this queen size sheet set discounted. The price for the yardage was more than right. To the naked eye, the thread count looks very similar to high quality quilters cotton. Presumably, the fabric will be durable. My digital camera is upping the colour contrasts but I think it will make a good background for saturated prints. Has anyone ever sewn with Ikea sheets? Any tips? Anything to watch out for? Quilting with sheets- yea or nay?
Saturday, February 6, 2016
Thursday, February 4, 2016
I've finished all the background stars for the BOM in one swoop - all 24 of them. Thought it would be easier than making one or two a month. Hopefully, will get to making Block #1 and the bonus block book on the weekend. Everyone's fabric choices are so inspiring that I'm actually using my idle Facebook account to check out all the posts in the group:) On Instagram the tag is #sarahfielkeBOM. If you'd like to join the Block of the Month you can find the all the info at Sarah's site. There's going to be a gorgeous bunch of quilts at year's end...
Monday, February 1, 2016
One of the advantages of having a niche passion by mainstream standards is that friends and family tend to give me textile-related gift certificates for Christmas and my January birthday. Am so excited that these beauties arrived guilt free today:) They are the Ombre solids from VandCo. The colour gradient in each hue from light to dark makes the eye bounce around in the most delightful way. They are a super alternative to conventional solids with greater visual texture and a depth that looks like sueded silk but is as smooth as conventional cotton. I can see them in many kinds of quilts- modern ones but also traditional applique with lots of shaded flowers and in apparel too. Not sure what they will become but am enjoying petting them lovingly...
Wednesday, January 20, 2016
2016 is going to be a difficult year with lots of family health issues so I need to learn to hand quilt/sew so that I can have portable projects to take to appointments and when traveling. Uber-quilter Sarah Fielke is hosting a BOM this year called "Happy Days". You purchase the pattern and are mailed monthly instructions. There is access to a private YouTube channel and Facebook page for subscribers. The quilt promises lots of applique, English paper piecing and hand quilting. I feel a certain creative guilt that my next project is designed by someone else but Sarah is so talented I think like Allietare it will be therapeutic to follow instructions knowing the end result will be lovely. The quilt's background is going to be cheerful yellows paired with Amy Butler prints and lots of scraps. A few hot pink and red spots as well as stripes will sneak in there too.While not a mystery quilt the sketch below provides only the vaguest hint at what the finished quilt will look like... Sounds like fun, doesn't it?
Thursday, January 14, 2016
Watched this fascinating documentary on vintage sewing machines and their collectors. You can stream it online or if you live in the USA purchase the dvd. It really is an ode to all metal construction and old time precision engineering. My over-engineered computerized machine was a complete disaster and this doc pays tribute to stripped down simpler machines which do less but do it much much better. It is called "Still Stitching" and can be found at this site. Must warn you though, after watching you may find yourself trolling through Ebay and Craigslist for older sewing machines. At the very least, you'll look at your mother and grandmother's machines with a great deal more love and respect...
(M if you are reading this I'm not doing looking at more sewing machines... Really I'm not:)
Wednesday, January 6, 2016
Here is my Part 6 of Bonnie Hunter's Allietare Mystery Quilt 2015. These blocks are not sewn. I'm just throwing the parts up on the design wall and starting to play with the combinations. Am definitely going to do something different from BH's quilt for a border. What that design is remains to be conceived. It is so much fun to see how everything is meant to go together. That orange print that was a concern is strong but as suggested bounced around will give the top a lot of life. The colours look pretty great together so it's all worked out to be a very happy surprise.You can see everyone else's beautiful versions of Allietare here and the gorgeous original below. Mystery quilts- one more thing checked off the quilting bucket list... Thank you Bonnie!
Monday, January 4, 2016
The last 10 days of our holiday were sadly dominated by family illness so my sewing time evaporated. Better late than never, here is Part 5 of Bonnie Hunter's Allietare Mystery Quilt 2015. The link up to other participants is at this spot. There is lots of bulk in the middle of those four patches. Taking a cue from classic tailoring, I dug out a small chasing hammer. On a chopping board, I whacked the intersecting seams which flattened the bulk beautifully. Now the blocks just need to be trimmed and pressed. It is really hard to not peek at the final reveal now that clue 6 is posted but hope to stay off social media and keep the mystery a mystery. Happy New Year!
During the seasonal chaos, I forgot to post my completed Part 4 of Bonnie Hunter's Mystery Quilt 2015. You can check out everyone else's here. I'm blown away by the amount of organization this involves and BH's generosity in creating these mysteries every year. Am enjoying it more than I could imagine although I don't think I've ever made so many pieces :)
Wednesday, December 16, 2015
Part 3 of my Bonnie Hunter's Mystery 2015 quilt is finished. The fabrics are lighter than in these shots. I'm a little worried about how bright one of the more orange prints looks and how all my colours are going to work together. Of course this is the risk of changing BH's palette. Am hoping the quilt turns out OK and will be philosophic if my choices are not entirely successful. It is surprisingly exciting not having a clue where all the fabrics go and how the end quilt is going to look...
Wednesday, December 9, 2015
Saturday, December 5, 2015
It is so difficult to write about quilting when the world seems so sad and crazy but I thought I'd show my completed Part 1 from Bonnie Hunter's new quiltalong. Having just finished my first block swap am now keen to try a mystery. Perhaps because of the current chaos, the order of being told what to make is very appealing. The original suggested colour palette is drawn from BH's recent trip to Italy but I am using a woodcut print from Japan as inspiration. Instead of black, red, gold, neutrals and grey the quilt will be made of charcoal/black, blue/green, brown/orange, whites with sage green as the constant. Veering in quilting between two extremes of working- intuitively and to precision seems to be the new norm. Right now simplifying the creative act to choosing fabrics is very comforting sewing...
Friday, November 27, 2015
Finally got a chance to play around with the beautiful blocks I received from the Modern Bow Tie Swap organized by the lovely and evidently super-organized Barb. I received 80 4" finished blocks and love them on their own. However, I want a bigger quilt so instead of making more- the bow ties are set with some 54-40 or Fight Stars (interesting block history here). The black print is less black in real life and competes less with the colours than in the photos. From a distance there are lots of secondary circle patterns from both the swap blocks and the stars. Still need to play with the arrangement but so far am pretty pleased. If I still like it by the end of the weekend, will sew it together and start thinking about the quilting. Many thanks to Barb and the other participants. The variety of prints is fantastic. Love each and every one!
Wednesday, November 11, 2015
Hexagon quilts have been trendy for quite awhile now and just when you think you've seen it all this antique wonder pops up. Sewn in the late 1800's, it comprises hexagons measuring only 3/4" sides. The size of this quilt is also a staggering 7x6 feet. I love the bulls-eye effect of the red concentric circles. People who hand sew always claim that these tops are easier to make than one would think because of their portability and the ability to piece in stolen moments. I remain unconvinced and am in awe of the effort that went into making this quilt...
Thursday, October 29, 2015
On the TV show's technical survey which is, as it sounds, the outing where all the heads of departments confer on the logistics of shooting, M. met a young Dutch woman in the most beautiful coat patterned in a granny square print. He spoke with her about how much I love textiles but didn't ask to take a photo of it because he didn't want to seem creepy. Well it was meant to be because a couple of days later, he saw the same girl. This is an extraordinary coincidence as they were in a different part of a city of millions. This time he got an image but sadly not her name. Thank you lovely visitor from Holland!
Below is an actual crocheted granny square coat made by this talented person inspired by this one. Playing with the colours would be so much fun. It is tempting to learn how to crochet. Perhaps a Sophie Digard scarf is a better idea and would be more flattering on someone rounder and less vertically enhanced. In any case, the look is Boho at its most fun. Granny square clothing... Yeah or No Way?! Thoughts?