Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Quilting Broccoli


While digging for fabrics for a project recently, I ended up stumbling onto a whole stack of leftover linen triangles from a pillow that I had made for my husband. Then the idea hit me that I could use them with the leftover scraps from my Modern Improv paper piecing pillow to make another coordinating pillow for my parents... but I wanted this one to just happen.


Am I the only who does this?: As I sat down to finish my husband's pillow I was quite perplexed because I didn't have enough triangles to finish all the blocks... so, what did I do? Cut some more... of course. You cannot imagine how annoyed I was with myself to find out later that I actually had cut them (like I thought), but they had fallen behind my sewing machine where I didn't see them.

I suppose if they come to good use in the end, then it doesn't matter how they get there, right?
 

I first started out with a random color layout, but found it to be a little chaotic. When I grouped the colors and organized them a bit, it seemed to have a better flow. There have actually been several projects where it felt like I had just hit a roadblock, until I reworked the color organization.


I also let the shapes within the pillow dictate how I did the quilting by first following them, and then simply echoing the quilting in various widths.


As I've said with just about every improv project that I've ever done, it's an uncomfortable stretch for me, and I'm still left asking myself if I will ever warm up to it. I guess it's a little like eating broccoli... it's ok to try it every once in a while to see if you still don't like it.


What's your "quilting broccoli" that you have to keep coming back to, just to see if you still don't like it?

Linking up this week to Let's Bee Social.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

#30daysoffabricstacks challenge


Stitched in Color, is hosting a really fun challenge on Instagram, sharing fabric stacks from your stash based on certain themes for 30 days. (details on her blog) The whole idea behind it is to push and stretch yourself beyond your go-to color palettes. Perhaps you already know this about me, but pulling fabrics for a project is my favorite part of making a quilt (if only I felt that ways about actually quilting quilts, then I'd have it made). There are several color palettes that have been a challenge for me, and several that I would have never explored otherwise...

Day 1 #trueblue. This one is a bit of a challenge since blue is my second to last fabric that I grab for my projects... not to say that I don't use it at all, but it's not a natural for me when there are colors like green around.


Day 2 #ethereal. Despite the fact that I usually tend towards high popping contrasts when it comes to a color palette, there is a real appeal to me to have alluring and subtle contrasts. These soft corals, lilacs, pale aquas, and chartreuse accents give a quiet, yet impactful punch.


Day3 #orange. There was once a time that I literally had at least a touch of orange in every room in my house. I grew up with orange, and if I had it my way, there would still be orange carpet in my parents living room today. (uh oh, I'm dating myself as a 70's child) In any case, I recall that an orange and fuchsia color palette appealed to me even at a young age.


Day 4 #newfabric. As silly as it may sound, most of my fabric shopping consists of stash building rather than buying fabrics for specific projects. I have my go-to colors, and I am confident in my preferences. Even though I am simply adding fabrics to my stash, sometimes it ends up looking like a planned project instead.


Day 5 #baby. I know that it's possible to create gender neutral quilts for babies, but I much prefer more gender specific projects instead. Since I ended up with three boys in the house, (the one I married and the other two that look like me) I never really had a chance to play around with fabrics that I might have chosen had one of them been a girl.


Day 6 #folksyfall. I was actually really excited to "re-visit" this color palette... doesn't it remind you of this project? I'm quite drawn to bold and stark contrasts on a deep chocolate background. It gives another kind of pop than if it were on a light background.



In case you are wondering, there's still time to join the contest... it runs until August 6th, and in any case, it's good practice and fun to re-discover old favorites that might be hidden in your stash.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

FREE Summer Smoothie Block Tutorial


Even though it's still a few weeks away until it's my turn to be queen bee, I needed to get things prepared ahead of time for my fellow bee members since I have a couple pressing deadlines for the last part of June. Since I will be sharing the block construction with them anyway, I decided to share it with you too!


Start by printing the free drunkard's path template to actual size. Here's what else you'll need for the Summer Smoothie block:

Cut 4 - outer curve pieces (using A template)
Cut 4 - inner curve pieces (using B template)
Cut 4 - 2.5" x 4.5" rectangles
Cut 1 - 2.5" square


Just so we start things off on the right foot, let me just reassure you that if you've never sewn curves before, they really are not as scary as their reputation. The main thing to remember is to TAKE. YOUR. TIME... these aren't half square triangles, you know. There are so many methods, but I prefer the no pin/or ease method for sewing curves. (check out a few YouTube videos here) One major help, in my opinion, is sewing with a template that is slightly larger than the finished block size, so that one has room for error and can trim to the correct size.

With that being said, once you have your four drunkard's path blocks together, you will want align your ruler so it is1" from the curve, as shown below, and trim.



Rotate the block and trim to 4.5". Repeat with additional blocks.



NOTE: If you are using a directional print for the inner curve, you will want to make sure that you cut the print in the same direction on each set. Below you can see how the print is running horizontal on one block, and diagonal on the other.



Essentially this is a nine patch block, and the assembly comes together in a snap... just stitch the rows together, and then assemble the connected rows for your finished Summer Smoothie Block.


These blocks are super fun and look great horizontal or on point.


Have fun mixing up your Summer Smoothie just how you like it!

Linking up this week to Let's Bee Social.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

How The Summer Garden Grows


I love a summer garden in bloom... don't you? Despite the fact that I don't exactly have the greenest of thumbs, I really appeciate a beautiufl garden full of flowers. Nothing gives me more delight than to study each one up close and be amazed with the detail and uniqueness of every little part  that most tend to miss because there is never enough time to just stop and "smell the roses". Just like a summer field, my Chuck Nohara blocks have been growing too!


In preparing my applique templates my summer basket project, I have often found myself on the sunny terrace in the afternoons, or on the sofa in the evening busily snipping away. Sometimes I am too tired to sit at the machine at night, but tracing the templates or cutting them out is the perfect unwinding project.


block # 567


block #404

... and just like all those beautiful details of each individual flower, I have been paying attention to the small, little details in each block. For me I really think a lot about fabrics and placement.


block # 570

I thought that this soft grey fabric was just perfect for this block... especially when you read the text... " plant", "life", "grow"...


 block # 564


If you've ever worked with Anna Maria Horner fabrics, then I don't need to tell you how perfect they are for fussy cutting projects. I'm just sure that she designs her fabrics with this in mind. 


block # 682 (I still have add petals/leaves)


With the exception of the background fabrics, I have mostly been able to pull from my scrap boxes. (which could seriously use having a major dent put in them!)


What's growing in your summer garden?

Linking up this week to Let's Bee Social.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

In The Summer Time


Back in January, during the pattern testing phase of my Tiptoe Through The Tulips quilt pattern, one of my pattern testers shared with me about an applique project that she had just finished... essentially if one could take on Chuck Nohara blocks, then the "small amount" of applique in my pattern should be just fine too. I had never heard of the quilt designer before and was sent on a wild goose chase.


When I checked out the #chucknohara hashtag on Instagram, I knew I needed to watch myself lest I be sucked into yet another bucket list project... but I kept my cool. After I had found the 2001 Nouveaux Blocs de Patchwork online, I decided to put it on the back burner instead of in my shopping cart like the impulsive side of me had said to do. The disciplined side of me reasoned that if I just couldn't get it out of my head, then perhaps it might be worth re-considering.


If you are the average quilter (with or without kids), you know that summers, even though they are without the daily schedules and appointments, can still be busy... very busy. How many of you opt to be in the garden or traveling when the sun is shining rather than sweating from the steam of a hot iron?


So, since the thought of this book just would not leave me, (and trust me, I sat on this for a while) I decided to make this my summer travel, take it with you, basket project that I work on here and there as I have time. No pressures, no deadlines, no worries... just like summer. Even in those relaxed summer months my idle fingers can't go for too long without making something.


The book is a pretty no nonsense book with only small illustrations that have to be enlarged to the desired size. No instructions, no assembly diagrams, no fabric requirements... nothing. I have to say that it appeals to me the challenge of trying to try to figure out how blocks are put together. Everyone has their own approach, but since discovering the starch applique method, I'll not go back! The book, however, is not limited to only applique blocks, but uses traditional and other piecing methods too.


I've really been focused on using scraps for this. I'm planning for green to be the main/focal color with accents of pinks, oranges, and yellows. Even though Greenery is Pantone's current color of the year, my love for nature's color extends far beyond the passing trend.


The beauty of it is that I can prepare the freezer applique shapes and take them just about anywhere. We've been having the most divine weather, so these have been my afternoon on the terrace project these last days.


Want to read more about Chuck Nohara? Check out this blog post or this one. There are even some fun how-to videos (in French, but one can easily understand the process) or get inspired by some fabulous Chuck Nohara pins on Pinterest.


Linking up this week to Let's Bee Social

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

On Solid Ground


Let me reassure you... there is no need to wipe your computer screen... no need to grab an extra cup of coffee... no need to pinch yourself to see if your are dreaming. You are NOT seeing things...

I suppose that might be just a wee bit over dramatic, but if you have been around for a while, then you might know that I DON'T work with solids... at all. However, on that same note, if you've been around long enough to know of my avoidance of solids at all cost, then you probably also know that I can only sing the highest praises of Basic Grey grunges... this not-quite-a-solid IS my solid. 


The motivation to steer clear of my beloved prints is because these are a present for my parents (when I talk of these, it includes the remaining three that I have planned to make) Even though I would describe my own personal decorating tastes as transitional, my folks definitley lean towards a more modern style. I have to admit that in this case, these bold splashes of color give a more powerful impact than my prints would, and give it the modern feel that I am looking for.


Because improv is also not where my strengths or passions lie, I very much appreciated these free paper piecing templates from The Long Thread. It was fun for me to experiment with multi-directional quilting, finding and following the design of the piece itself for the hints of how it should be quilted. 


Are you a solid teetotaller or do you cherish your beloved prints and leave your solids on the shelf?

Linking up this week to Let's Bee Social

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Applique Borders


Last week I sent out a "call for help", asking for your two cents on how much time pattern testers might need for an entire medallion quilt instead of a single block or small finished project. Firstly, thank you for all the ideas and suggestions... I've pulled from several of them, and think that this is the planned scenario that I've come up with: Firstly, share the flimsy and do a pre-call for testers, giving the fabric requirements to see if the pattern can be made from stash, or if extra fabrics would need to be purchased. Secondly release my third pattern while the testers are working on the pattern testing this one. Well... that's the plan, anyway.


Currently I am working the last border, which is a little heavy on applique, and should still take a good bit of time to complete. When working on a pattern, I usually sew up the top and then back track, which means that I'm still a good ways out on this one. Realistically, I'm looking at releaseing to testers in late summer/early fall with a spring release for this one.


At our Patchwork Treffen HH this past weekend, amaziningly I didn't do one single stitch on the sewing machine the whole time I was there... I left thinking, why did I even bring it? But some days I simply enjoy playing around with fabric, even if I'm not stitching it. I was able to whip up all these leaves for the border.


Are you interested in pattern testing and have time starting late summer/early fall? Applique experience is needed. Let me know and I'll put you on the list.

Linking up to Let's Bee Social

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

In Need of Two Cents


I've been whittling away and trying to finish two secret sewing projects, both of them new quilt patterns, which leaves me just shy of two finished quilt tops... one more row on the first, and the last border on the second. There's way more done than what I can share right now, but teasers are always such fun, don't you think?


I'm always so back and forth with myself about how much to share before official announcements... perhaps you can help me with that? This is planned to be my fourth quilt pattern, which will be a medallion quilt. My previous pattern testers have usually only done a one block, or smaller pillow/wall hanging project. This quilt will be larger, would need to be a full flimsy finish, and is heavy on applique. What time frame do you think is realistically needed for testers? (interested?... let me know)


My concern that if I share the full quilt too far in advance, and testers need a longer time frame to finish, then the excitement about the quilt has fizzled out by the time it's been tested. I think that realistically this would be a 2018 spring release. (I have to finish the top myself, quilt it, AND finish writing the pattern, not to mention the third pattern that releases ahead of it, but it's good to have a plan, right?)


In addition, I unfortunately I've had to put this to the side because I ran out of fabrics for the last border. The joy of living in Germany is that I will have to wait at least three weeks or more. The missing border is my heavily appliqued border, which should take a good bit of time, but I have started working on some of the applique shapes. I just love these little pomegranate buds. It's not a final design, but still fun to lay them out in a mandala arrangement.


Do you plan a year's worth of projects ahead of time, or do you just take it project by project?

 Linking up this week to Let's Bee Social.
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