31 January 2012

The Lone Starburst

One of my favorite Flickr quilting bee "genres" are the sampler quilt bees: the 3 x 6 Sampler Quilt Mini Bee and its cousin, the 4x5 modern Quilt Bee.

You make 5 (or 6, depending on the bee) blocks (of your own choice) in colors requested by your beehive-mates. You mail them out, and pretty soon packages arrive from your hive: blocks for you, in your colors, dreamed up by them. I love the creativity these bees inspire in all members, and I've been able to challenge myself and have a lot of fun!

This past quarter, I looked through my flickr favorites and decided to do something like this block by Johanna for 3x6, but scaled up a bit and made into a square.

I thought it would be perfect for paper-piecing, but I couldn't find a template anywhere that looked anything like it. I've also seen something similar called a Connecticut Star, but couldn't find one of those either.  So, I drafted my own with some graph paper and my quilting ruler, and photocopied away.

If you've done a fair amount if paper-piecing, I'm sure you can do the same!  However, after going through some intense photoshop trial-and-error, digital templates are here via via Google Doc.  It's called the Lone Starburst, since it has the basic shape of a traditional Lone Star quilt.  Print four at 100% for a 12.5-inch unfinished block.

Edit: Printing Tips! Google docs isn't the best for templates, so I'd recommend downloading/saving the template to your computer, then opening it with your usual PDF viewer (adobe, preview, etc) to print from there. Make sure that scaling is set to 100% or "none"' (so your comp doesn't try to "fit" it to a page), and measure the 1 inch scale line once printed to make sure it's exactly an inch, no more, no less!  Also, you can measure the edge of one of the templates to make sure it measures 6.5 inches, including the gray seam allowances. 

It's versatile! One of my favorite parts of sampler bees is that you can try out all different color arrangements.  I found that I liked the look of this block best when I choose a fabric with a lot of contrast for the skinny 1/4-inch star outline, which makes the most of the design.

By switching up the values, you can go monochromatic.

This scrappy one is just delicious.  In this case, I used white for the 1/4-inch outline, and mostly tried to alternate warm and cool colors.

Thanks to my friend Moni for inspiring me to do this on my own.  She drafted up a version that's a bit bigger (less background space), which is available via her blog.

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30 January 2012

Staying In

Most times, I'm convinced, it's better to Netflix it than go to the theater.

5. The bathrooms are much cleaner.

4. You can wear any old pajamas you want. Even with holes in them.

3. They don't have curry powder to put on your $8 popcorn at the theater.  Nor do they have homemade kettle corn. What a shame.

2. Two words: Pause. Button.

1. Most important, they don't provide quilts at the movies. It can get cold in there. 

27 January 2012

"It's a Hoot" Improv Baby Quilt

Owls. Flowers. Trees. Dots. What's not to love?! I fell hard for the "It's a Hoot" by Momo line of fabric from Moda.  I thought it would be perfect for some improvisational quilting.  

I sliced up a half yard of the big-scale print, isolating the "scenes" in various sizes. Then, I left some of the scenes as-is (center and top right), and cut up others to make window-like patchwork blocks with strips and scraps.

Improv blocks are really the MOST fun.  No measuring, no strict planning, just cut, sew, press, trim, and cut again! It is very spontaneous, and you never get the same thing twice.  

However, a good amount of planning and and measuring does go into selecting the layout and arranging the blocks in a way that looks good and lines up to a squared-up shape.  For this quilt, once I arranged the blocks, filled in extra space with a Kona Ash solid and fit them together like a puzzle.  

For the backing, I used a leftover improv block and some extra fabric, pieced with more ash. 

It is machine-quilted in random square zig-zag lines that go around the blocks, and has some hand-quilting to echo designs in the bigger scenes.  

The quilt measures about 35"x45", the perfect size for a baby, and is bound with a tiny squares pink print from the line and some kona coal as a flange.  I really love the way it frames the quilt, almost like matting on a framed photograph.  The contrast of tiny coal line also brings some order to a pretty crazy quilt.

This little number has been snuggled up with its baby owner for quite some time.

25 January 2012

A first

When I first thought I was interested in quilting, I went to the only quilting store I could find in New York City and asked a nice salesgirl about what I should do if I was just starting out and didn't want to spend a lot on a hobby that I might not stick with. 

i.e. "Where is your cheapest fabric, please?"

Thank you, salesgirl, for kindly pointing me towards a couple of 30's reproduction charm packs. I remember going home and spreading them out like trading cards, pairing them up for a pinwheel design I had already picked out.

It felt a little like cheating, to have fabric selected for me already, and I like to go back to that mindset sometimes in my quilting now, back to when I didn't know Amy Butler from Denyse Schmidt, when I would have said to you,"What's a fabric line?  Whoa, there are collections?  Designers? I just want to make something with pink!"

Of course, I couldn't start with a simple 9-patch or patchwork squares.  I was too inspired by the cheery colors and variety of prints that the charm pack delivered, and wanted to do something "more exciting".

I had found this method of making half square triangles for the small pinwheels, and used this one (I like speed piecing method B) to make flying geese for the larger pinwheel blocks.  I set out blindly making blocks - no pattern, no size goal, no thought to design.

I had no seam-matching tricks up my sleeve, no concept of "modern vs. traditional", just Quilting for Dummies (really, checked it out of the library--twice), a handful of online tutorials, and a pure delight in working with colors and prints.

For the sole purpose of making it bigger, I added a border.  It measures about 45"x60", which is lap sized, if you just want to sit up straight and cover your lap with a quilt.  If you're more like me (slouchy, with a tendency to wrap up and tuck in all corners), a much better lap/laying on the couch size is more like 60"x70".

When it came time to lay out the blocks, I lined them up, with varying (really, all different) quantities of white muslin sashing, so that they'd make a large rectangle.  It worked, pretty much. 

It's backed in various 30's prints I gathered together and pieced together, and I quilted it in straight-ish lines with my brand new walking foot.  

Ah, a freshly washed, rolled up and folded squishy quilt.  I bound it using bias-cut yellow-striped fabric that I got in a back bin of a random garment district fabric store.  You know, the kind of store that only has sequined zebra print fabric in the window.  

This quilt still sits on my sofa, ready for a catnap or TV vegging session. Despite its somewhat rough edges, I love it because it reminds me to stay with that wonderful feeling of fabric playtime, of the reward that comes after sometimes struggling through a tough project, and of the warmth of a sweet quilt.

23 January 2012

Hello there!

I hope this blog will chronicle my adventures in sewing and quilting. I’ve been keeping a similar record with my flickr account, which I just learned needs to be upgraded to “pro” in order to have more than 200 photos.  No thank you, Flickr, even though I love you so much. I’m no pro. 

But I would still love to have a chronicle of my projects.

from my first finished project…

…to some adventures in wrinkly machine-quilting…

 …to my original designs.


 Happy endings.


Although I always had some kind of artsy project going when I was younger, I’ve seriously been sewing and quilting for about two years, and flickr's bees, groups, and its vibrant crafting community have taught me so much, sent me to inspiring blogs, and ignited my enthusiasm!

I hope this blog is the next step!  Quite a few times I’ve wished to show more of my work process, or be able to share more of how I created a project than flickr can support.  Onwards!