Saturday, December 10, 2016

Parade of Pretties Part Two

Woo hoo, the storm has passed and we're back to our usual rain. Our last two winters truly haven't been bad at all, so I really can't complain about this one being so rainy. That east wind we've had the last couple of days just served to prepare us for our trip to Iowa later in the month. On to the quilts!

First up today is What's Up. Check out the C&T display at Quilt Market last month. My quilt is center stage with some pretty great company! 
This is such a fun quilt. When I originally designed it, I chose four shades of blue because I wanted a quilt that radiates. My color choices, unfortunately, didn't work nearly as well as they did when just stacked up together. Such a good lesson in strong contrasts. Off to the store I went. As soon as I saw the striped binding fabric, I knew I found my quilt colors.

The controlled colorway of this quilt is just two Civil War era reproduction fabrics. It feels like an optical illusion made out of very traditional fabric. 
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The second quilt for today is Snowbirds. Many of us have family members that live part-time in two locations. This quilt was made to represent the frozen north and warm south... with our hearts somewhere in between.
The alternate colorway, College Bound, celebrates schools and sports teams (Go Ducks, Go Packers!).  So many possibilities.  How about using wedding colors as a gift?
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Quilt #3 for today is Safe Travels. This quilt is shaping up to be a fan favorite. When people thumb through the book, this is where they stop.   This quilt was originally designed as a two-color quilt (that's actually the name of it in my EQ7 file). Red and white, that was it. It looked kind of plain, so I started coloring. That's when all the magic happened. Those grey units reminded me of the Wright Brothers airplanes and that's why I named it Safe Travels.

What's particularly fun for me about this quilt is that the alternate version is sooo different. When I printed out a blank coloring page so students could color their own design, I immediately saw flowers. Flower Garden was born (grown?). Yep, they are the exact same pattern!
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Last but not least is Wishing Rings. This sweet quilt is perfect for gifts--a great snuggler size. It's a quick sew with diagonal corners that give it a uniqueness not found in many patterns. Need quilts for a set of twins? This pattern is perfect for that. It goes together quickly, but looks much more complicated. 

I named the alternate version of this quilt Gears as it reminds me of a bicycle chain. The colors change it from a sweet quilt to one suited for the bicycling enthusiast in your life. 

I hope you enjoyed this little parade of pretties. Remember, if you need a book for Christmas, I can make that happen!

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Parade of Pretties Part One

The weather in Oregon is frightful, so I thought it would be a great time to host a parade of pretties... quilts, that is. These are all in my new book Fantastic Stash Quilts! The book has eight projects, each made two ways -- a scrappy and a controlled version. 

First up is Betsy's Quilt. Truly, this quilt named itself.  My friend Betsy tested this pattern for me before it was even written because she loved the design so much. She had a chart with cutting instructions, some very general sewing instructions, and off she went. Betsy's longarmer loved the quilt so much she posted it on her website with the title, "Betsy's quilt."  Unfortunately for me, the longarmer is local and I had planned to use this pattern as a mystery quilt for my local guild. I ended up waiting nearly three years to use this as the mystery class in case anyone had seen it online!

Here's a link to the original sighting at Murdock Manor:

When I made this quilt, I loved it for its simplicity. I didn't think any changes could make me love it more. Boy, was I wrong! The scrappy version is now my favorite. 
The second quilt in the book is Spinning Triangles. I had tons of leftover fabrics from Betsy's Quilt and a couple of other projects and this quilt pattern was born. I originally designed it in buttercream yellow and a snow background. I even made that quilt. Unfortunately, when the longarmer did exactly what I asked, I didn't think the triangles would photograph well. The curves distracted me. So, I called my editor and asked if I could have a couple of days to make a new quilt and get it quilted and shipped off. Thankfully, she said yes and the new quilt even made the cover! 

This alternate colorway uses just two prints. Lucky for me that it did because I made the quilt in a day and a half, sent it to the longarmer and she turned it around immediately for me. I am very blessed to have such good friends. I had it shipped off to C&T in four days from start to finish!

Here's a picture of part of the yellow quilt. The colors show as much more vibrant than they really are. You can see what I mean about the curves. 

I've had students make this quilt in all blues, lots of scraps, and 30s reproduction fabrics. They were all fantastic!
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Quilt #3 in the book is Chain and Bar. This quilt was inspired by a presentation on Pendleton Woolen Mills given by Susan Beal to the Westside Modern Quilt Club. My mother worked at one of their factories as a seamstress when I was young and I've always appreciated their saturated colors and quality products. 

The alternate colorway shows what happens when you color your quilts with a diagonal design in mind. My birthday is Christmas Day, so it was a good enough excuse for me to make another holiday inspired quilt!

The fourth, and final, quilt for today is Confetti. This is one of my all-time favorite quilts and sews up surprisingly quickly... at least that's how it feels after hours (okay, maybe days) of cutting! 
This quilt was designed after moving my sewing room and discovering I had all these 30's prints... I woke up with a new design in my head the next morning. I've seen this made in red, orange and purple batiks and it was fabulous. I've also seen it made in Halloween prints and just love it.
The blue version of this quilt was one of my personal challenges. If one print is good, 40 is better, but in this case I limited myself to six blue fabrics. A friend made this quilt in only six prints one time, so I knew it could be done and look good. 
I love this quilt so much that I decided to make a modern version and supersize the quilt. What's not to love about a grey quilt with turquoise and apple green pops of color? The quilt is so heavy (it's 96" square) that I left it folded and put it on the carpet to photograph one quarter! I was really working on using scraps last year and this is a perfect example. I didn't have enough of either the green or turquoise to make the quilt, so I used a combo strategy. Cornerstones and binding in one color, cobblestones and stars in another. Works great!

Stay tuned, we'll have another parade tomorrow. If you want to add this book to your Christmas list, just show your loved one this blog post and the Shop Here tab... we'll get a wiggle on it! Of course, you could just buy one for yourself. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Guest Post

When C&T asked if I'd like to write a post for their blog, I wondered what on earth I could share. I remember a comment that a student made when I showed a class how I speed cut units. She said, "That alone was worth the price of admission." ( I love that my post is sandwiched between Bonnie Hunter and Angela Walters... another blessing to count on Thanksgiving!). Below is a copy of the post.

When I was young, my mother worked for Pendleton Woolen Mills sewing the plackets on shirt sleeves. The shirts were sewn production style, with each seamstress making one section and passing it along. Listening to her talk about this sewing method was my first introduction to efficient sewing methods.

Cut around the little triangle points on clothing patterns? Not me—I learned to clip into the seam allowance instead. I drove my home ec instructors just a bit crazy, but they were open to new ideas.
One of my favorite time-saving techniques is speed cutting strips and units for my quilts. The more time I can keep the fabric next to the cutting mat and not move it around, the better. Let me demonstrate by cutting 2" strips and 2" squares using a 6 1/2" x 12 1/2" ruler.
This picture shows a full width of fabric folded twice and aligned with a horizontal line on the cutting mat. First, I square up the fabric by trimming off the left edge. I love my OLFA Quick Change Rotary Cutter for this because it can be used by left- or right-handed people. I use my left hand to trim off that edge (cutting very slowly!), then align the 6" line of the ruler on that newly cut edge. Be sure the black line of the ruler is on the fabric.
Second, I use my right hand to make my first cut with the ruler.
Then I slide the ruler to the left, lining up the 4" mark along the left edge and making a second cut. Note that I never lifted the ruler off the fabric, I just slid it to the left.
The final cut is made after I position the 2" line of the ruler on the left edge of the fabric.
VoilĂ , three strips cut in no time! Let's move on to some squares. I like to lay all three strips of fabric next to each other, all lined up on a horizontal line of the cutting mat. Folds in the strips should be to the right side.
We're going to do exactly what we did for the strips. Square up the strips by trimming off the left edge. Leave the ruler in place. Cut through all three strips on the right side of the ruler.
Slide the ruler to the left, never lifting it off the fabric, and line up the 10" mark with the left edge. Cut through all three strips on the right side of the ruler. Leave the ruler in place and slide it so the 8" mark is lined up with the left edge.
Continue in this manner at the 6", 4", and 2" marks. You've cut 2" squares in record-breaking time!
Do you ever make strip-pieced nine-patches? This method works wonderfully for that! The picture below shows the strip set. I've already trimmed off the left edge, made the first cut at 12", and am moving the ruler to the left after each cut.
Make cuts at 12", 10", 8", 6", 4", and 2" and you have six nine-patch units ready to sew.
How about Lone Star quilt units? This technique works just as well when making strip-pieced units that are cut on a 45° angle. You start with strips that are offset on one end.
Line up the 45° mark on your ruler with the top edge of your strip set. Your first cut is on the left side of the ruler.
My strips were cut at 1" and sewn together, so my units need to be cut at 1" wide. I know, I'm a little crazy…but this method works with any size strips! Because I'm working with such small pieces, I'm only going to cut four of these at once.
Move your ruler so that the 45°-angle line is still across the top of the strip set and the 4" line is positioned on the left edge of the strip set. Cut along the right side of the ruler.
After you've made that cut, slide the ruler so the 3" line is positioned on the left edge of the strip set.
Repeat using the 2" line and 1" line. Woo-hoo! You've got four perfectly cut Lone Star units in record time.
I know it takes a little time to get used to this method, but I believe it's a skill that's worth practicing. I know that over the years it has saved me hours of cutting time, which gained me hours of sewing time!

Monday, November 21, 2016

Grandma's Surprise

I love when blog readers send me photos of quilts they've finished from my classes. Here's another finish from Washington. Kathy Cruse took my class in July in Ellensburg. Love, love, love this version!

Thanks for sharing, Kathy. Congratulations on a beautiful finish!

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Mystery Fabrics

Every year, Bonnie Hunter of hosts a mystery project. I participated from 2009 through 2014 and loved the quilts. The only one I didn't love was because I used fabrics just to use them up. Bad plan. :)  Last year, there was lots going on with my life and I picked colors, but never really got going. And for the fourth time, Bonnie ended up picking the colors I used the previous year in her current quilt!

Here are last year's choices (navy, purple, green, neutral, and blue/grey constant:

I still love those colors, so here's where I'm headed this year (black, purple, green, blue; light grey background (they appear much more cream in this photo):

The "pop" is what has me stalled. My first instinct is cheddar, but friends convinced me to try this:

Looking at it this morning, it feels a little blah. So now I'm going to try this. I'm stacking up just one shade of each color and auditioning different "pops" of color. Who knows, I may have to break down and buy something.  

Nope, I LOVE the cheddar! No further auditions necessary. The cheddar I shared with friends yesterday was much more dull. If I decide to participate, these are the colors I'll use. The decision is still an "if" for me because I'd like to get several new patterns written.  Some are quilts that have already been tested and some are new. Woo hoo!

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Stars Upon Stars Update

I haven't posted anything on this block of the month since the first month because I've been too busy to sew. Then I headed off to Quilt Market and got to see Edyta Sitar's version of this quilt up close and personal! It rocked my world. I had decided to use only grey backgrounds on my sashings, but after seeing Edyta's version, I changed to just one background for all sashings. Mind you, the original quilt looks a bit different and is the one featured on the cover of the pattern. Here are some close-up photos from market:

Here's a reminder photo from month #1 with my sashing and a photo from month #1 with my new sashing. I love how the lighter outer edge really shows off the chain in the sashing! I decided to use just one fabric for all sashing background for two reasons 1) a tiny bit of calm in the chaos and 2) to simplify decision-making about which print to use!

If you guessed that I'm now going to experiment with changing the cornerstone stars, you'd be right! I'm thinking about all those glorious greys. What if I make the background grey for all the cornerstone stars? Lighter stars, keep the darker stars? I'm not sure where this is going to take me, but I know I'm going to enjoy the journey. I know I'm moving farther away from the original quilt shown below, and I'm okay with that... at least I think I am! Stay tuned.

P.S.: If you'd like to see  more Edyta Sitar patterns and fabric, head to her website Laundry Basket Quilts

Monday, October 24, 2016

Steamship Arabia

We love the museum in Kansas City, Missouri dedicated to the Steamship Arabia -- a ship that sunk in 1856 loaded with cargo to outfit shops and homesteads along the Missouri River. The museum is the amazing story of how this steamship was raised from a farmer's field and its contents carefully cleaned and displayed for the public. To keep this quilty, keep an eye out in the pictures for bolts of wool fabric (!) along with other sewing and household supplies. Warning, this is photo heavy.

Yes, all of the items shown above and thousands more were preserved in the silt of the Missouri River! If you ever get a chance to visit Kansas City, this privately held museum is a must see.