25 April 2012

XL Improv Quilt

This super-sized improv block quilt, finished last summer, remains one my my favorites, both for its simplicity and for the little extra details that make me smile.

I made this for a friend who told me she liked solids and Gees Bend quilts a lot (who doesn't?), and more subdued colors than I usually work with. I went ahead and created an XL improvised patchwork strip with navy, cream, and a hint of violet.  It was so fun to make, and I couldn't resist adding some quirky elements.

I hid some little vintage-y print scraps with tape measures, as well as some hand-stitched details.

It's a relief, sometimes, to work with a constrained palette, and I think solids swing the quilt's focus to shapes and patchworked textures.

It's backed and bound in medium gray, with the exception of  tiny bits of bright green and violet that I couldn't resist!

It's quilted in double organic horizontal lines-- close enough to give it some structure, but far enough apart to keep it very soft.

I'm  really interested in continuing to make quilts with this blown-up quality: taking a quilt block concept and making it extra-large.  Like this one, too.  Hm.

Sometimes, even if you're feeling a little bit too grown-up, you can still just wrap yourself in a quilt.

This quilt was also featured on Modern Day Quilts, an amazing eye candy collection that never fails to inspire!

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18 April 2012


1. Intersections, 2. Fly Away, 3. do. Good Stitches, Cherish circle, March block, 4. Baby Ingrid v. 2, 5. nursery school pillow project, 6. Saffron Ash, Patchwork Tablerunner
The best thing about finishing a project is... picking the next one!! These are some projects that I not only like a whole lot, but that are serious contenders for my next new start. Basically, they're some things I've seen recently that make me say, "I want to make that.  RIGHT NOW!", or ideas I've been thinking on for a while.

I like to have a pretty big variety of projects going at one time, but I also prefer to buy most of my fabric with a specific project in mind.  (Except for treats, but that's a whole different story.)

Because of that, the Fat Quarter Idol Challenge at Sew, Mama, Sew! was just the perfect way for me to be able to "shop" freely! Since I'm obviously also in a "make something new" kind of mood, this contest was just pure fun for me. This week's theme is "Sweet Child of Mine", and here's my entry.  Besides being a lot of fun, this is SUCH a smart contest for Sew, Mama, Sew! and I'm flat-out impressed by the idea, too!

14 April 2012

Fun News

Head on over to check out some great work from Mallory of Zede's Sewing Studio Blog, where I'm honored to be this month's stop on her blog tour.  The post also features a short interview with me!

Zede's Sewing Studio is a sewing shop in Columbia, MO, and their blog has tons of great tutorials, interviews, and videos.  I'm overwhelmed and grateful to be included! They're also doing a super giveaway: two collections of Sulky Blendables Designer Thread!

13 April 2012

Sewing Trends!

Eep!  My Patchwork... Without the Patchwork quilt is featured today at Sew, Mama, Sew! on Sewing Trends with Melanie!

Also spotted: this little bird aqua and grey bee block, which, until now, only lived on Flickr :)

It's a terrific and beautifully compiled collection of what everyone's been making this month-- I'm so honored to be featured in such good company!

12 April 2012

XL Ikat: A "Modern" Red and White Quilt

Just over a year ago, I was lucky enough to visit Infinite Variety: Three Centuries of Red and White Quilts, an exhibition put together by the American Folk Art Museum. (Follow the link to check it out!)

Basically, this one lady's 3 zillion red and white quilts were on display in a huge, hangar-like armory.  I was just... overcome.  Not just by all the amaaazzzzing quilts, but also because of the sheer quantity of human creativity hours put into making them all.

At one point, I almost started crying when I saw this quilting:
(sorry for the cell phone picture)
It's totally not perfect.  Not at all.  Not even close. Which is what makes it so perfect.
I was empowered:  orange peels and curves (and hand-quilting) are hard.  Whoever this lady was, she just went for it.

I was also struck with how very "modern" these pieces were, despite being quite old, in many cases.

To me, these quilts were also standing in for all the women behind their creation.  Maybe they were sewing for fun, maybe by necessity, but each quilt shows serious craftsmanship and love.  And, through this effort, we're connected, those ladies and me.

Later that year, a friend of mine requested a custom quilt, inspired by her own visit to the exhibit. Win-win!  She drafted up a cool idea, with a sort-of Native-American, XL ikat spot center, and I translated that into a quilt.

I used just two fabrics: Kona Snow and Kona Tomato solids.  It's a generous lap quilt, measuring about 60x70 inches.  I quilted it in randomly spaced horizontal and vertical lines to make an irregular grid.

I realized that I had made twice as many flying geese as I needed (using the second method here makes a lot, pretty easily), so I put 'em in the back.

As a very tangible connection to all those red and white quilts of the past, I was so excited to make this one!

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09 April 2012

Quilting Bee Spotlight: New Bee on the Block

With a nice long holiday weekend in the fresh air behind me, I'm quite happy.  But my sewing machine had to stay behind!  So I decided to work a bit more on chronicling my past work, specifically, for New Bee on the Block, a quilting bee started and hosted by the wonderful Shanna to help people get into the quilting bee world.

Um, it worked for me!  Last July, I was a total Newbie.

If you're interested in joining a quilting bee, I'd say: 1) sign up for Flickr and post some photos of your work 2) visit the Quilting Bee Blocks group's discussion thread where people post about new bees they're organizing to see what's going on!

I really appreciate the collective effort and group atmosphere of virtual bees.  I don't have a community of quilters in "real life", and it's so fun to have these deluxe virtual penpals.  They are so supportive and cheerful, and I love the updated version of a historical pastime!  We gather around glowing screens instead of glowing fires in a barn (yes, that's how I imagine back-in-the-day quilting bees), but the sentiment and outcomes are the same.

I've been so lucky to work with this group of very talented quilters!  New Bee on the Block is a 12-month, non-themed bee, where each month, one member sends out fabric and instructions (for whatever they want!) to each of the 11 other members, they sew them up, and send them back.  As you'll see, this bee has exposed me to ALL KINDS of blocks, and has really expanded my skills and sensibilities.

Here's what we've worked on:

July 2011: 

To kick off our bee, Holly sent out fun, bright fabrics to make a perfect pinwheel Merry Go-Round block (without paper-piecing!)

August 2011: 

Ella sent out gray heath and raindrops fabrics and asked for a version of Quiltjane's teardrop block.  It's paper-pieced, and was my first experience with a really non-traditional paper-pieced shape.

September 2011: 

For our first taste of free-form quilt bee blocks, Lina gave us very simple guidelines:  rectangular blocks in the theme of books or reading.  What could be better than a stack of books and a cup of tea? I had a lot of fun with this block!  I sketched out a teacup on some graph paper and paper-pieced it,  adding some hand-stitched steam, and swiped a bit of Anna Maria Horner selvage for one of those books :)  

October 2011:

More freedom!  Ellie assigned us any kind of wonky stars we liked!  So, I decided to put a tiny star inside a big one. I just love those elephants.  

November 2011:

Natasha asked for sharp, graphic, Piet Mondrian-inspired blocks.  I got to slice away and piece improvisationally, and I almost stole the honeycomb and herringbone prints she sent!

January 2012:
After a customary December break, Diane got us back into the swing of things with scrappy Japanese x and + blocks from Badskirt.  These fun blocks are all over the place these days, and this was a great opportunity for me to try making them!  Di has been working away at these blocks, and has even started mocking up her quilt.

February 2012: 

In February, Tonya asked us for a paper-pieced Friendship Circle (how appropriate for this bee!) This is one of those blocks that also makes a secondary pattern when you put them all together, and I think this is going to be a really lovely quilt!

March 2012:

For my month, I asked for help making blocks that are all about texture, using Elizabeth Hartman's Mod Mosiac tutorial. I had made a pillow like this before, and I decided I wanted a whole quilt! I switched up the typical scenario, choosing a solid color to frame mostly white scraps, instead of using white for sashing colorful scraps.  The blocks are still coming in, and I can't wait to start putting them together!

April 2012: 

For once, I'm a little ahead of the game!  I finished up this Kansas Dust Storm for Lia, who picked out a bunch of different stars for us to make.  I loved using the springy, fresh colors she sent out for what will be a picnic quilt.  I hope it gets a lot of use!

I'm a little sad that we're approaching our last few months, and excited to see what else is in store!

simply square button
On a side note, I just learned about what it means to be a no-reply blogger-- basically, people can't easily find you to write back if you leave a comment!  I was one, but fixed it, thanks to Shanna (kind of like your nice friend telling you when you have something on your face...) and this post I found at Pleasant Home. (Are you a no-reply blogger? Do you know how to check?)

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02 April 2012

Why Hello, Lovely! Improv Chevrons Quilt!

After making about four improv chevron blocks, I'd had enough.  The blocks take a bit of time, and my attention span for working with strict colors is pretty short, even though these happen to be some of my favorites!

This sweet little quilt is what I made from them!  Sashed in snow, bordered in more Kona cerise (I can't get enough!), and bound in a nice medium gray, which I think makes a clear, precise frame.  I sort of wish I had made a little white flange along with the binding, that would have been wayyy over the top.

I arranged the four blocks so that the chevrons would sort of rotate, in terms of what direction the middle strip was "pointing." I think it makes an interesting, almost pinwheel, effect.  Wouldn't this be the craziest window to look out of? It measures about 40"x40".  Sadly, its too small for me to hog up.
I see a LOT of potential for these blocks.  Going monochromatic, using a much more limited palette, or  alternating colors between chevron strips, etc, could cause all kinds of amazing secondary patterns to emerge.

For example, if the middle chevron strip of each block was made up of dark, or very saturated, values, while the side chevrons were lighter fabrics, that middle strip would really stand out, and become a strong design element.


To offset the crazy wonkiness of the blocks, I quilted this in simple, (fairly) precise 2-inch squares using the quilting guide bar on my walking foot.  No marking!  I just started with the vertical line of one of the white sashing strips and used that as a guideline.  

It's backed in my favorite print from Lotta Jansdowner's Echo line, with a strip of Kona Snow along the bottom.  I think it's really beautiful on its own, and it makes me want to make a whole cloth quilt from this fabric alone (yikes, ideas!). It looks SO PRETTY with the gray binding!

Hey there, what are you doing just sitting there in the corner? Looking pretty?  That's what I thought.

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