28 June 2011

Warm Cool QAL stages 2-3

It took me a little while, but I have finally gotten around to cutting all the squares out (I hope) for my all-batik version of this quilt along.

I've started piecing those into half square triangles, but the real progress is with the original grouping of printed fabrics. I got my HSTs pieced, pressed (though not trimmed) and up on the design wall.

I had put this up as a consideration for the layout, but after all of the lovely comments people have been leaving on Flickr, I'm thinking this is how the quilt should be (though perhaps I'll build it out a little bit to fill the diamonds on the right side and bottom). Thank you, Jeni, for hosting this quilt along!

27 June 2011

finishing some unfinished business

Here in Portland we've had a long, LONG winter, a very cool spring, and are only recently seeing any signs of summer (coincidentally, those signs began just about the same day as the official first day of summer). Considering that the best place for me to photograph my finished quilts is hanging from my neighbor's fence along our back yards, I waited until just a little over a week ago to shoot some of the quilts I began much earlier this year.

The first quilt I began in 2011 is this one:
which I've been calling Multi-Faceted in Sherbet, a follow up to an earlier quilt:

I did a post about getting this quilt started back in January, beginning with the gorgeous Philip Jacobs fabric I used on the border, and choosing as many prints as I could muster that pulled the colors from within that print.
The process itself went quite smoothly, and I got a finished quilt top just a few short weeks later, but it was the backing and quilting that really brought it all together. The original "Multi-Faceted..." quilt I quilted myself, echoing one of the off-set diamonds, and had chosen a Kaffe Fasset shot cotton for the backing. That was the best choice I have ever made in my quilting career - introducing me to the beauty that is a quilted shot cotton! And so, I went back to Cool Cottons to find just the right color of shot cotton to back the sherbet quilt... and I found it.

Also, in the meantime, I had been introduced to the flexibility of piecework on the backing. I had so many strips left over from the quilt top that it seemed a waste to throw them back in the scrap bags to be mishandled and forgotten, so I decided to use what I could to spice up the backing on this quilt. And this is what I ended up with:

Now, for the stunning quilting you all see, I have the lovely Melissa Hoffman, a.k.a. Fiddlestitches Quilting, to thank. Based in Newberg, OR, wine country just a bit outside of Portland, she is a wonderful person to have in one's corner, and I have never seen quilting of her's that does anything less than enhance the quilt!

The plan, now, is to continue the line of "Multi-Faceted..." quilts in different colorways, and see what I come up with down the road.

22 June 2011

A Bigger Spiderweb

July is my turn to host the Seams Perfect Modern Scrap Bee on Flickr. For months I've known more or less what I would like to do, but have struggled with ways to convey it to my bee-mates. I have my mind set on a spiderweb quilt, primarily in greens and browns.

I want to make this as easy as possible for the girls to have the templates they need without too much extra work or wasted fabric, but I am finding that this might be a losing battle. There are several good resources online for tutorials and paper-piecing templates for the spiderweb block, but most that I have found either run smaller, or have the wrong orientation, or just don't fit, for some reason. That said, here are some links to a couple of the resources that have caught my eye:

Quilter's Cache - Easy Spider Web has what she says is a 12" paper template here, but I've found it actually FINISHES at 12.5". I've added a detailed description of how to adjust this so that it comes back down to a 12" finished block, for those who prefer paper-piecing. Also, the orientation of these blocks is opposite of what I envision, but I think that can be easily remedied by joining the paper-piecing templates on a different edge.

Heather Bostic's tutorial at {House} of A La Mode - http://alamodefabric.blogspot.com/2010/06/spider-web-quilt-block-tutorial.html

Elizabeth Hartman's tutorial on Sew, Mama, Sew - http://sewmamasew.com/blog2/2010/04/spiderweb-block-sew-along/

Now, to achieve my optimal goal, I'm going to combine a couple of different techniques. The ladies at Seams Perfect are welcome to choose whichever suits them best (and I'll be sending out little helpers at some point next week).

For doing Fabric Foundation:
In looking through some of the different tutorials, I found Heather's at A La Mode Fabrics to be the clearest for me. She and Elizabeth use a similar foundation piecing method, but the dimensions in Heather's tute (and the overall finished look of her blocks) is much more like what I have in mind, and she does a great job with the photo illustrations and explanations. Now, for my bee-mates who do choose to follow Heather's tutorial here, we are going to make a couple of adjustments:
*First of all, if you prefer to do paper-piecing instead of fabric foundation just follow her instructions on a piece of newsprint or other light-weight paper product. The only real difference is that you will need to start by cutting out pieces of your fabric for that center "kite" section. I will be sending templates for that step shortly.
*We are going to be doing a slightly different size than this tutorial. Where she begins with a 12.5" square of foundation fabric (which is the fabric that shows as your center star or kites), we are going to increase that to 13.25".
The only other change that comes along with this increase is in marking the 2 shorter sides... she says to make marks at 6" up from the bottom corner, but if you could please use the templates I send as your guide, that way everyone has a consistent gauge, regardless of which method she chooses. The easiest way to do this is to line up the right angles at the top and the center point at the bottom inside the 1/4" seam allowance, and mark the long edges along the template. (this SHOULD also be the equivalent of marking 3 3/8" from the top corner (the 90 degree angle) on each side.)

(using Heather's tutorial, but started with a square just slightly too big)
(my second attempt using the same method, with the dimensions listed above)

For printing a Paper-Piecing Template:
I did a test run with the paper-piecing template from Quilter's Cache at this link, and though I did have to make a couple of minor adjustments, it was pretty easy to get it. So, if you prefer using a paper-piecing method, I do ask that you either go with those printouts, following the adjustments I am about to go over, or use Heather's fabric foundation method converted onto newsprint.

The page as it prints from the website - you will need 4 of these for each block

Cut the two triangles apart, leaving the seam allowances intact EXCEPT along the side of section 3 on the piece that does not have the website ID written over it... the piece on the right in the photo above.

Mark a guide line 1/4" INSIDE the printed line on section 2 of the other piece.

Take a glue stick and apply from that line you just marked out to the edge of the paper. Place the other triangle on top, lining up the edge without a seam allowance to the guide line you drew on.

As you can see, because we've changed the size of the template, the center kite guide lines are now uneven. We are going to utilize the fabric foundation piecing method for the next step, just to get back on track. Start by folding the triangle in half so that your points match up accurately. Crease the center, then unfold.

Make a mark where the center crease meets the inside line along the bottom of the template.

Now, using the template I will be sending (or have sent), match the bottom points and the top 90 degree angle and edges, then mark along both sides of the template. This will give you your paper template to start sewing with! (trust me, this process is much quicker than it appears in this step-by-step explanation!!)

Next, choose your solid fabric for your center star on your block, and using the (to be) sent template, trace around, keeping the seam allowances intact, and cut out on your traced lines.

Start your block by lining up the edge of the center piece along the right guideline you marked on the paper template (fabric facing up), then lay one of your strips face down, with the raw edge along that same line. Continue working out from there, pressing open after each strip.
(the finished paper-pieced block)

I had drafted this on my EQ7 program, which has had its benefits, but one of the drawbacks is, though I can access a printable paper-piecing template myself, it won't let me convert into a PDF or JPEG file, nor could I get it to print accurately when I selected Legal paper, in the hopes that I could just print for everyone without having to tape different sheets together (and wasting a ridiculous amount of paper, the way they align the pattern!)
(made with the EQ7 paper-piecing printouts... but couldn't find a way to replicate)

So, we are going with alternate options. Hopefully this post has made some sense, and allows everyone to work within a good comfort zone, but still giving enough guidelines to be clear. If anyone has any questions, do not hesitate to ask me!

Happy quilting!

16 June 2011

Thursday is swap day

Last week I came to the realization that I need more structure. Part of that process will be assigning different general projects to different days of the week. For instance, Tuesday is now a "merchandise" day, for making (primarily) place mats and pot holders:

My new schedule allots Thursdays to working on bee and swap projects. Last week I worked on blocks for the do.Good Stitches bee on Flickr. Megan, a.k.a. Canoe Ridge Creations, posted a tutorial on her blog for a simple as pie bow tie block.

She showed us an array of clear, saturated, rainbowy fabrics as inspiration for the palette... which seems to be a trend right now. Not an unwelcome one, I must say.

In addition to the bow tie blocks, I dedicated quite a bit of time to cutting squares for the Warm Cool Quilt Along hosted by Jeni at In Color Order. I shared a little more about this process in my previous post, found here.

This week, however, I moved on to working on 2 other projects, one of which I thought the deadline had passed me by. The Portland Modern Quilt Guild is putting together a banner to represent the group at the annual Sisters' Outdoor Quilt Show in Sisters, OR, along with a selection of member quilts which will be on display at the show this year (the second Saturday of July, for those who are interested!!). Admittedly, I did not get the memo in time to submit (have I mentioned that I am terrible at keeping up with my blog list and online newsletters??) so I do not have a quilt in the show, but several of my Portland colleagues will, along with hundreds of other Oregon quilters! However, I did get a chance to do a block to be added to the banner for the guild, which I dropped off at this evening's meeting.

I kept going back and forth about what design I would want to use to sum up my quilting style in one 6" block, sketching ideas, but came up with this simply by revisiting my own Flickr photostream. I originally did a quilt from one of Judy Hopkins' books (whose name escapes me right now, I have to admit) several years ago as a wedding gift for some friends.

A perfect way to combine string piecing and working with an awesome modern focus fabric (and this piece of Heather Bailey's Freshcut I have Jenn, Sunnyauh to thank for!!)

But the bulk of the day was dedicated to working on Cruz's blocks for the Seams Perfect Scrap Bee on Flickr. She pointed us toward this tutorial from Freshly Pieced.

I LOVED working on these blocks, though was thrown off by how long it took to actually select each round of 3 fabrics! And I do have to say that it was a challenge to keep my hexagon blocks even as I went around, as can be seen by the wonky angle of a couple of the strips, but hopefully it won't make too much of a difference. Next month is my month to host that bee, and I still have to get my sample blocks and templates together before the end of June, as I think I will have to send out bits for paper piecing... more to come on that one later. All in all, I think this will be a good schedule to keep to, assuming I am able to keep to it!

13 June 2011

get to business!

A couple of months ago a friend of mine approached me about making a set of place mats for her to give as a gift to her brother and his partner. Knowing a little bit about the couple for whom they are intended, my self-editing, over-analyzing side went into overdrive. I started one project

and then another

but neither quite worked for me. At least not after studying the photos of their home that were published in an issue of House Beautiful Magazine.

So, I went back to the drawing board, quite literally, and worked on a design that found a happy medium between those two false starts, and had already settled on the one focus fabric, but decided to use only solids to compliment it, and create the full design.

I don't want to get ahead of myself, but I finally think I'm on the right track. Gonna try to get further along with these before setting anything in stone (or even posting new pics to my friend), but hope to have more to share in a couple of weeks.

Warm Cool QAL stage 1b

Over the weekend I played around with my fabric stacks, pulled some new things off my shelves and pulled other pieces away from the stacks, until I had an even 25 "warm" fabrics and 25 "cool" fabrics, intending to work on the baby sized project. In that process, I made the decision to try my hand at 2 simultaneous projects for Jeni's warm cool quilt along, found at her blog, In Color Order. After cutting my 5" squares of the first grouping:

I started in on group #2 - all batiks, aiming for the twin sized version. It's been a long, long time since I have worked on a project using ONLY batiks, but I knew this day would come again! I started cutting down the warm batiks,

though it took longer than I planned due to one heck of a cramp in my right hand (I am not sure whether it was using the weed-whacker or spending an afternoon tearing tickets at the museum, or some combination thereof) that kept me away from my rotary cutter all of Saturday. So the cools have yet to be cut into the appropriately sized squares...

But I aam enjoying just gazing at it all. And so excited about moving forward on this!

08 June 2011

Warm Cool QAL stage 1 - fabric selection

I was so eager to get in on the action of Jeni's warm cool quilt along that it's about the only thing I've attended to in my home since arriving back last night. This morning, after my shower and while enjoying my coffee before heading in to work, I went down into my basement and started pulling, pulling, pulling. So far, this is what I have:

Though I KNOW I have more than enough perfectly good options already in my stash, I've already picked up a few pieces while at work to round out what I see as holes in those stacks. In the coming day or two I'll be revisiting my selections, and fine-tuning the group before marching on - but I am definitely looking forward to marching on with this!

Cute new threads!

Last weekend I went "home" (the city in which I grew up, but haven't actually called home in about 15 years or so) to visit with my mom and step-father, as well as seeing some other family in the mix, including my brother. When I arrived, sitting on the nightstand in the guest bedroom was a fun little skirt pattern.
"Fashion Formula Skirts" by Serendipity Studio. I have seen patterns by her before, and always find them attractive, but have not spent much time with clothing of late. I suppose my mom had picked up on my excitement about having done the Amy Butler Barcelona Skirts a few weeks ago, and happened to see this pattern at one of her local shops. What a sweet gift! Anyhow, the designer, Kay Whitt, has put together a little booklet of 3 different skirt patterns, each with 2-4 different variations (and that is not including the various length options). While all of them would be super cute, the one that immediately caught my eye is called "The Penelope Panel Skirt." However, after I get that one under way, I think I will have to try her "Faux Wrap" skirt next!

So, today I find myself back on my home turf, and putting in a work day at Cool Cottons and let me tell you, it is impossible to spend 8 hours here and not shop! Just impossible! So, I figure I'll at least shop responsibly, and by that I mean shop for a specific project (or two, as it turned out), and found some great fabrics to try out one of these skirts.

I promise, it's only coincidence that I chose the same general colors that her sample shows. That green dandelion Robert Kaufman fabric has been on my mind, and I just think it will make a great summer skirt! I guess we'll find out soon...