Thursday, October 31, 2013

Just a treat...no trick

I mean it.
Actually, let's back track.
Boo!
Ok, now the treat. 
The mail carrier and he was a real nail carrier, not some 10 year old dressed as one, brought me a special treat today.
This:

Yep. That's the latest issue of Modern Patchwork magazine and it's filled with lots of great stuff including two of my projects.
One is version of a tote bag I made for my friend, Nan and the other is a simple pillow crafted out of wee little squares. 
Policy at Interweave Press/F&W Media is to send contributors 3 complimentary copies. A lovely idea, but I just worked super hard to downsize my stuff when I moved here. So, guess what?
I'm giving away the extra two copies to one of you fine, crafty people. 
I'm doing it in double celebration of the day. You see Halloween is not only a fine day to dress up as say one of the Village People, but it's also my eldest girl's birthday. 
Needless to say that is my best Halloween memory, My daughter's birth not spelling out YMCA.
So, if you want to be entered into the drawing, leave a comment with your best or scariest Halloween memory and I'll announce the winners in the next few days. 


Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Snail's Trail at the Speed of Sound

Well, not exactly the speed of sound, but certainly faster than if I were making smaller blocks.
This will eventually be twin sized. Actually it needs to be that size by Monday when it goes to the long arm quilter. Like I said, thank goodness each block measures 16" x 16".

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Improv Courthouse Steps

I'm in final wrap-up for Quilt market mode which really means scrambling to finish projects before I head out on Friday.
Before things get any crazier though I wanted to share with you my finished Improve Courthouse Steps quilt.
I quilted the entire thing from start to finish yesterday and then finished binding it this morning. I've got a bit of backache which is pretty funny considering I just came back from Colorado where I ran the Barr Trail and around Garden of the Gods, hiked halfway up Pike's Peak and ascended the Manitou Incline...twice. Those didn't seem to bother me, but machine quilting this piece has me taking ibuprofen.
No matter. I'm super happy with the way this quilt turned out and it has sparked loads of new ideas for using the stripes featured in my new collection for Moda, From Outside In.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

What to Call it Wednesday

That's my title because I'm totally off my little, self-imposed schedule this week.
I'm supposed to be posting my mid-week workshop today with Monday's entry focusing on this week's mini quilt. But, there was no entry on Monday.
I've been getting ready for Quilt Market in Houston at the end of next week, working on several design assignments, and planning for a trip to Colorado, so, I propose we play a game of pretend. let's pretend today is Monday. You pick the date. I don't really care, but let's all close our eyes and imagine that it's the start of the work week.
That's it. Breathe in. Breathe out. And it's Monday. And on Monday I post this week's mini quilt. So, welcome to Mini Quilt Monday!


Remember these pillows? I designed and created them for Modern Patchwork Magazine. Well, the nice folks there have asked me to teach a Schoolhouse segment at Market focused on that project and I thought it would be fun to reinterpret the pattern just a bit and make a mini quilt version of it.
I think I might call this my Mid-Century Modern Mini Pieces.
I decided to up-size the template pieces a bit and focus on low volume, graphic prints, including a few of my own from my new collection, From Outside In.
I also wanted to play with an idea I've been thinking about for a while.
I've been wanting to start adding bits of ephemera from my own life into my pieces. That probably will be primarily in the form of my own photos transferred to fabric, but, in this case I decided to transfer a few of my race bibs to fabric, cut those up, and piece them into these blocks.
Is it weird that, despite the fact that I "make" my own fabric all the time, I was blown away with how cool it was to "make" fabric out of these bibs? I think it's a little weird, but, that's what I was thinking. Also, I love the graphic quality of the numbers alongside these fabrics.
When the quilt was all pieced and quilted it just seemed to scream out for rounded edges. So I obliged and finished those edges with a sweet pale blue solid.

Also, I don't want to forget to mention that the lovely Tammy at Marmalade Fabrics is having a sweet, sweet sale on some amazing fabrics, including Lotta Jansdotter's Glimma collection. One of those prints appears in my Mid-Century Mini Pieces quilt.






Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Mid-Week Workshop :: Piecing an Improv Block

Before I get to today's topic, I wanted to tell a little story.
The other day, my youngest daughter, a junior in high school, told me that, though her Physics class was very difficult for her, she was really enjoying it because it was genuinely challenging. She added that there have been other classes that were "hard", but they didn't challenge her the way this class does. 
I think what she meant by that was that when you work on something slightly or more out of your usual realm, and begin to understand it, bit by bit, there's a sense of growth and accomplishment that only that kind of challenge brings.
I've experienced that type of challenge today in prepping the materials for this post. 
It started when I decided that, rather than take step-by-step process shots of the making of this block, I would make an Instagram video instead. I've made those before and they're fun and cute and that's about it. Also, if you're not my friend or follower or whatever on Instagram, you probably wouldn't  know the video was there. 
So, I uploaded the video to my Google drive and then downloaded it to my computer and then uploaded it here.
For those of you who've been doing this since Roosevelt was in office, this may not be impressive. I don't claim to be the first to do this. Just that this was the first time I've done it and I had to figure it out and it was challenging and I feel accomplished having done it. 
In a similar vein, I think that many of you, afraid of working improvisationally, might encounter the same experience if you give the technique I'm featuring a try.
So, today's workshop is about piecing this block:
The block is part of this work in progress:
It features 4 of the striped prints in my new collection, From Outside In, and a solid.
You can make this too. Ideally with these exact fabrics, but, since they won't even be in stores until January and, once you watch the video, you'll be rarin' to go, select other stripes or solids. I wouldn't use big, bold prints, but I think you could use smaller, more discreet prints.
The key to this is consistency of strip placement.
                             

Note that in this group of four blocks the center red square is pieced first to a yellow striped piece, then to a green striped piece, then to a cream striped piece, and finally to a blue striped piece. That order is then repeated for two more rounds. Also, though the orientation of the block may change as it is sewn to other blocks, the strips are sewn on clockwise.
So, what do you need to make this block?
Strips in 5 solids or stripes.
Using a rotary cutter, freehand cut and layout all the parts of the block
BTW- you can do this. Physics is way harder and you've been uploading video since before the invention of the microwave oven.
Now, take your strips over to your machine and, one at a time and in the order they were laid out, sew them together.
Here, watch me. 

video
Apologies for running out of video feed before I managed to attach the last two strips, but you get the idea.
I did include a mistake, which I fixed, because everyone makes them and I'd like to credit my dog, Charlie-Tucker with providing background vocals.
I would note that as I pieced each strip I pressed it to one side and trimmed it to fit.
It's really so easy...really.
Questions? Ask in the comments section and I'll do my best to answer.
Also, don't fret, we'll cover how to put these potentially differently-sized blocks together in next week's workshop.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Mini Quilt Monday meets what I was supposed to blog about last Friday

How's that for a long, un-catchy title? Let's hope my epitaph is a little bit more of an attention grabber.
But, the truth is the truth. I was supposed to blog about new additions to the shop last Friday and instead I was, you know, eating bon-bons.
Ok, maybe not eating bon-bons, but it didn't happen, so I'm going to add(read shove) that into this post.
First though, a mini quilt:
or two:
or maybe even three:
All these are made with Moda Pre-cuts called Honeycombs. They are and I say this as a self-proclaimed expert on the value of sliced bread, the best invention since...well, you know.
I love them so much I plan on carrying them in my store(along with a pattern designed just for them) when they are released in January of 2014.
The one with the circle dyed in its center is one of these:
I patterned a few hexagons by clamping and over dyeing them like I do my Twinkle circles.
Serious excitement ensued when I un-clamped these babies, but, no mention of their relation to the greatness of sliced bread. That's reserved for the hexagons themselves.
I see lots of possibilities with these and that excitement is inspiring all sorts of new ideas with the other pre-cuts as well.
More on that in a future post.

As for what's new in my shop, well I've got a couple of new pieces of fabric patterned with new designs.
And plans to add a bunch of quilts over the next few days. So, if you have a chance, check it out.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Mid-Week Workshop::Floor Pillows

I mentioned in Monday's post that I was helping my friend, Nan, who, by the way refers to herself as my Sousstress( you know, like a chef has a sous chef to assist him/her, Nan is my seamstress assistant, a Sousstress). Nan was looking to cheer up some pillow forms in anticipation of house guests. Well, this got me to thinking about pillows and floors and tutorials and stuff to make to promote my new fabric collection.
And all that thinking led to today's mid-week workshop project, floor pillows.
Like these:
Don't those look squishibly comfortable? I think I'll add squishibly to the English lexicon along with sousstress.
Let me assure you they are. So, go ahead, grab some fabrics and make a few.
Here's how:

Materials:
About 3/4 of a yard of 2 coordinating cotton prints or solids
Self-healing mat
Rotary cutter
Quilter's clear, acrylic ruler
Coordinating machine sewing thread
Iron
Pins
24" x 24" pillow form

Cutting the Fabric:
1. From one fabric, cut a 24" x 24" square
2. From second fabric, cut two 16" x 24" rectangles

Making the Pillow Cover:
1. Working with one of the 16" x 24" rectangles,  wrong side facing up, press a 1/4" seam allowance, along one long edge.
2. Press an additional 1" seam allowance along same edge.
3. Machine stitch folded edge about 1/4" from fold.
4. Repeat steps 1-4 to make second half of envelope backing with remaining 16" x 24" rectangle.
5. With right sides facing, pin together pillow front (24" x 24" square) and stitched rectangles of envelope pillow back, making sure stitched edges of envelope backing overlap in center of pillow cover.
6. Using a 1/4" seam allowance, sew together all 4 edges.
7. Turn pillow cover right side out through envelope opening.
8. Press seams. Insert pillow form.
Begin squishibility testing with good book and glass of wine.