Well, here they are! My new patterns that I have been working on all summer. I think there's something for everyone here .... lap quilts, table runners and wall hangings. Some have appliqué and some don't.
I had fun still working with my "scrappy" look as you can tell with the lap quilt I call Hugs & Kisses. This is a one block quilt that uses many different fabrics so you end up with very unique blocks.
Of course, I had to add some floral appliqué to the border because .... well that's just what I love to do. If you are not a fan of appliqué, you can just keep a plain border.
My next project is Warm & Woolie Welcome. This is a wall hanging with four seasonal panels. It's wool appliqué!
Fun, fun, fun!!!
Next are two table runner patterns that each have two projects in them! Country Fair and Candy Store. You know I love to do table runner patterns!
Last up ... two more lap quilt patterns. Both of these are pieced only but still have my fun scrappy look.
Here is Skylight .....
And here is Starlit Path .....
Well, we all have to bind our quilts whether we like that task or not. Sometimes in the past I found that I was so anxious to get the quilt finished, I would just slap on any color binding that didn't "offend" the quilt. Now, it's different!
I now think of binding as sort of the last "frame" for the quilts I make. There are several ways you can enhance your quilt with binding. You can have a scrappy binding, using several of the fabrics that were used in the quilt.
Or, you can have a one color binding using your favorite color from the quilt. For example, if you have a red fabric in the blocks, you may want to call attention to that by putting on a red binding. It will appear that you are "pulling" that red out of the quilt for attention.
Another eye-catching binding is a stripe. Cut binding strips on the bias from a fun stripe fabric for a cool design effect.
A final option I have used is a contrasting binding like using black fabric to frame a scrappy quilt. The black "outlines" my quilt!
Finally, if you are more interested in having your binding just fade into the background, choose a binding that is the same color or close to the same color as the outside border of your quilt.
Do you use single-fold or double-fold binding? That is usually up to the quilter. But, here's how I decide to use it. I use single fold binding on quilted projects that will be mostly decorative, like wall hangings, candle mats and table toppers. On quilted projects that may get more use like lap quilts and bed quilts, I will use a double-fold binding for more durability.
My single-fold binding is made from 1 1/2" strips of fabric seamed together on the bias.
My double-fold binding is make from 2 1/4 to 2 1/2" strips, seamed together on the bias and then pressed in half lengthwise.
So you know how it's really hard to wrangle long strips of binding while you are attaching it to your quilt? Well, roll up your binding around a cardboard toilet paper roll and secure it with a large pin to hold in place! You can also just roll it up and secure it with a large binding clip. This keeps it under control!
So, what are you waiting for? Time to tackle that binding! Get to work!
Pick Fabric Like a Pro!
Have you ever picked up a quilt pattern and wondered "how am I going to get my quilt to look like the sample"? Well, it's easier than you think!
First, I'll share a secret with you ... maybe it's not such a secret ... but when you see fabric in a quilt, whether it's an individual pattern or in a magazine, most likely that sample was made 6 months to a year ago! Unless a fabric company has a sample made with new fabric not in stores yet and plans to have the fabric and the pattern debut at the same time, you might not find the exact fabric shown in the pattern. Often fabric companies print limited quantities of a line and when it's gone, it's gone! So what's a quilter to do?
Search for fabric by color family and print size so it reads like the original fabric!
See this red fabric?
If you can't find this exact piece of fabric, then you look for something in the same color family and shade. So here's a piece of fabric that is close to the same shade of red and also had a print about the same scale.
What if you pick up a pattern that says to choose 15 color print fat quarters; 5 light, 5 medium and 5 dark? Stumped? Don't be! This is where the fun starts! Light, medium and dark is all relative. Here is a blue from my stash:
This can be considered a dark blue if it is paired with a lighter blue fabric. But look what happens when I choose the next blue fabric:
That first blue now becomes the light blue, if you are only using 2 blues in the project. Or it can be a medium blue if you are using 3 blues in the project.
Look at this next picture. I have 3 stacks of fabrics next to each other. Lights, mediums and darks. Now you have 15 color prints! You may only have 5 colors, but with the shade and print variation, you have a lot of variety here!
So head to the fabric store and start stacking up bolts!
Once you get that fabric home, make sure it's prepared and ready for when you want to start your next project. If you are a pre-washer, get them washed, ironed and folded.
If you like scrap quilting, cut your larger pieces of fabric into fat quarters, fat eights and strips. Then you are ready to pull out smaller cuts when needed or pile up a rainbow of strips for that log cabin quilt!
Store your fabrics by size and color in labeled stackable tubs. This makes finding the fabrics you want easier so you can get to the cutting and sewing. Here are some of my tubs:
Organization keeps the fun happening!
Why I Love Scraps!
I love scraps because .... I always have a lot of them! I don't think many quilters are actually without scraps. When I cut out a project, I usually end up with the side of my cutting table looking like this:
Quite a mess! I can put these to good use. Here is what I do when I am left with a piece of fabric that is smaller than 1/8 of a yard. I cut strips! Either 2 1/2" or 1 1/2" strips. I store them in bags, usually separated by light and dark colors and tans. Here's one of my bags:
And with strips, there are endless possibilities! You can make my favorite block, the Log Cabin ...
... Or you can use the strips to add a scrappy pieced border to a quilt!
Another great use for leftovers is to use them for a scrappy binding!
If it does not work to cut a leftover piece of fabric into strips, I separate those pieces by color and put them into bins to use in appliqué projects. Instead of having to cut into a larger piece of fabric for a small flower, I just dig into my appliqué bin of the appropriate color!
Here's some of those bins:
Another way I put scraps to use is to use them to make test blocks. I make these when I am trying out color ideas for a block. Instead of cutting into "fresh" fabric, I dig through my scraps for colors I want to audition and make the block. I can even make two or three different variations. Once I have chosen the color combo I want, I can purchase the fabric and make the quilt with no worries.
When you are done with the test blocks, you can add a few scrappy borders to it and have an instant mini quilt! They make great gifts!
So do you want to try a scrap quilt and are not sure how to get started? Try a "planned" scrap quilt. Take a quilt pattern for a quilt made with one block make each block separately using different colors (but still coordinating). Another way to get scrappier is to do it while buying fabric. If a pattern calls for 1 yard of blue, consider buying 4 fat quarters in different blues or other colors in that color family. Do the same for the other colors in the pattern. You've instantly made it scrappier!
The key to enjoying scrap quilting is to let go and have fun! Buy smaller cuts of fabric in many colors from your local quilt shop instead of larger cuts of just one color. Once you build up a stash, it's fun to go "shopping" there and experiment.
Check out my patterns on Quiltwoman.com
I have a new pattern in Quiltmaker magazine!
My pattern, Garden Geese is in the September/October 2015 issue that will be on newsstands in August. Here it is!
Look for this issue when you go to the store. There are a lot of lovely projects!
To celebrate this, I've decided to give away a copy of the magazine and a free pattern! Just tell me your favorite quilting experience, whether it's serious or funny, and I will draw a winner from these! I will choose the winner on Tuesday, August 4th and post it then.
Well, as you can see......
I have lots of machine quilting ahead of me! This leads me to sharing some machine quilting tips I have picked up over the years.
First thing I do, is practice on a scrap quilt sandwich, especially if it has been awhile since I have quilted anything. This gets me familiar once again with the motion of quilting and also gives me time to work out some design ideas.
I sometimes also draw designs on a photocopy of the blocks I will be quilting. This helps to get the ideas flowing as well.
Next up, check my machine for readiness. If you haven't already, now is a good time to check the needle. There are actually needles made specifically for machine quilting. If you are quilting a large project, it's a good idea to just toss the needle you use after you are done. Needles wear out, believe it or not! You can do several smaller projects with one needle.
Once the needle is taken care of, now pick out the thread. I like to use a dark neutral thread on my quilt tops because that goes well with my Civil War reproduction fabrics. My favorite is an Aurifil 50 weight. It works for me! Choose your favorite thread. I like these threads because they do not create a lot of lint in your machine.
Make sure your machine is oiled, "fuzzies" cleaned out of the bobbin area and that you have a few bobbins wound and ready. This is a good habit to get into especially if the project you are quilting is going to be a large one. No stopping for bobbin filling! Just pull out the empty and load in a full one.
Baste your quilt top with pins or with a large basting stitch. Your preference. I use pins to based my quilt sandwich.
Now it's time to put on my machine quilting gloves. These are a great tool to have. It helps you to grip and pull your quilt sandwich tight as you are quilting so you don't get puckers on the back of your quilt.
Now, it's time to quilt!!
I use a darning foot (most machines come with them). Either a closed toe or open toe darning foot will work.
The feed dogs on your machine need to be dropped. See your owner's manual on how to do that if you have not done it before.
To start, pull your bobbin thread to the top of the quilt. To do this, put your threaded needle down in the spot where you want to begin and drop your presser foot. Tap your foot peddle so the needle comes back up, pull on the end of the top thread and this will draw the bobbin thread to the top of the quilt. This is so the bobbin thread does not get caught in the stitching on the back and create a mess!
Now you are ready to go! Start with a few small "locking stitches". Since you feed dogs are dropped, they are not moving the quilt sandwich .... you have to. So to make these small stitches, just move the quilt top slightly while stitching. Since you are only moving it slightly, the stitches will be very small. Once you do those beginning stitches, you can now move on to the motif you have chosen. Be sure to move the quilt top at an even pace with the speed of your machine. That is how you keep the stitches even (unless you are one of those lucky quilters who have a stitch regulator on your machine!). Once you reach the end of your design or are at a place where you need to stop, end with a few small locking stitches again. Snip the threads as close as you can to the quilt top as you can. Now you are ready to move on to the next area!
You are now machine quilting!
Check your local quilt shop for some in person quilting classes or look some up on YouTube. There are also many machine quilting books available for a more comprehensive lesson. The main thing is to have fun! Start off with easy overall designs and work your way up to more difficult ones. Practice makes perfect! Here's a fun motif I've been working on.
Well, summer is in full swing! Here in Iowa we are getting some of our warmest weather yet. I cannot complain since I just turned the air conditioner on for the first time this summer. I love open windows since in north Iowa .... we're closed in for many many months in the winter.
One of the many questions I am asked when I speak is "where do you get your ideas?" Well, inspiration can come in many forms. Patterns seen in nature and architecture are some of my greatest inspirations.
See these windows and walls?
I see lots of design ideas here. These inspire designs with scallops, strip designs and also designs I can use in appliqué. Look at this next photo. I see a potential quilt border here!
I found this design on a floor. A simple checkerboard tile motif between two different colors of marble .... who knew? Inspiration!
These beautiful metal grates are great inspiration for appliqué!
Most of my inspiration that comes from nature informs my color choices and my appliqué. An obvious source is a garden or potted plant. Looking at these helps me to design the floral appliqués I use on many of my projects.
Look at the color here!
Of course it's my favorite ..... purple!
So now that you know some of my inspiration secrets, what inspires you? I'd like to know! Now I think it's time for me to do some quilting........ or maybe join the cat in the sun!
Here is a tip that I call "bits and pieces" because it's a way to use more of that precious fabric!
Make Half-square Triangle Squares While Making Flying Geese
Last week I was making several large flying geese units for a quilt. This tip works best if your flying geese units are larger ones, for example 3 1/2 x 6 1/2" geese. Start out with the rectangle that is 3 1/2 x 6 1/2" and two squares that are 3 1/2" square. Draw a diagonal line on the wrong side of the squares. Once you have the square placed face down on the rectangle, sew along the drawn line and then sew another seam 1/2" away from the first seam. If you want to mark that line too, feel free.
Then, cut the unit between the sewn lines:
Once you repeat this step on the other side and press the units open, you will have a flying geese unit and two half-square triangle squares. You can use the HST squares in the project you are making the geese for, or save them for another purpose!
A geese unit that measures 3 1/2 x 6 1/2" will yield two HST squares that can be trimmed to measure 2 1/2" square. A geese unit that measures 2 1/ x 4 1/2" yields two HST squares that can be trimmer to measure 1 1/2" square.
What can you do with these HST squares? Make a pinwheel block with four of them or sew them together in a chain for an interesting pieced border. Or, just toss them in a container just for those HSTs. Then you can pull them out and whip up a small project with them. A candle mat, a small table runner or anything you can think of!
So, there you go! You won't feel guilty about making those geese units and having to throw away expensive fabric. You will use every little bit and piece ... eventually!
Quilting Tips for the Week:
Tip #1: Measuring block units as you piece.
Did you ever piece a block with many pieces and have it not measure correctly when done? Well ..... this blog post is for you!
I’ve been diligently working on some new projects and wanted to share a tip on getting blocks and quilts to come out to the correct size. I've talked before about an accurate 1/4" seam allowance which is definitely important. It's a good rule of thumb to do a few practice seams on scrap fabric (see below), prior to beginning a project, and then measuring the resulting seam. Thickness of thread, needle size and position and presser foot size are all things to take in consideration when making adjustments. Consider using a thinner thread when piecing, use a 1/4" presser foot that comes with your machine or can be purchased for your machine.
Another thing that helps you with accuracy in size is measuring block units to make sure they measure the correct size before joining them into a block. Some blocks can have more than 20 individual pieces that are joined to make units that go into making a block. For instance, in a Dutchman's Puzzle quilt block is made up of eight flying geese units. If these units are off in measurement, as you join them to make the block, your completed block will be off.
The unit pictured below is a unit from a block I'm using in a new quilt. There are 28 pieces in this block that make up eight units that go into this block. This one unit needs to measure 4 1/2". Once I am done piecing all these units, I measure them as shown to make sure it measures 4 1/2". If it doesn't, it's time to get that seam ripper out!
So, if you measure your units as you go and then measure your completed blocks, when you get ready to piece those blocks into the quilt, your completed top will measure as advertised in the pattern!
Measuring units as you go will save lots of headaches! It will make piecing your quilt less stressful and more enjoyable.
Tip #2: Cut scrappy binding for your project as you cut out your project.
Even if the pattern you have chosen designates specific fabric for a binding, play a little by making a scrappy binding instead! That way you can pull all the colors of your quilt blocks into the binding for more interest.
As you are cutting the pieces from the various fabrics for your quilt, cut 1 1/2 or 2 1/2 strips (depending on whether you want single-fold or double-fold binding) from the remaining fabric.
Once you have the strips you need, prepare them into single or double fold binding as desired and bind your quilt top!
Talking about binding leads me to the next tip ......
Tip #3 Binding Storage
So what do you do with that binding while you are working on your quilt top? I have a few ideas on how to store binding you already have made up for your project. Roll it and clip it with a large binding clip!
Or put those leftover toilet paper rolls to good use!
Wrap the binding around the roll and secure the end with a large pin. This will keep the binding from unraveling until you need it.
So, that's all the tips I have for today. Get to work and happy quilting!
Well, if you are on Facebook, you have been following my studio remodel. For those of you not on Facebook as well as those of you who are, I wanted to do this wrap up on my studio remodel. It's been a fun journey.
I used to work in a room that was about 10' x 10'. That's actually a very small area to run a business! I was usually tripping over things at least twice a day. I did not even have room for a regular size ironing board. To iron finished quilt tops or large pieces of fabric, I would need to open an ironing board in the basement.
So, we moved to a new house (new to us!) in the beginning of April this year. In the basement, there was a lovely room that the previous owners had used as a beauty shop among other things. Needless to say, the room is larger than 10' x 10'! The first order of business was to lay a new floor. Since I live in northern Iowa, we decided to add in-floor heat (yay!).
Next, we needed to put in some type of cabinets. Along with a row of cabinets on the wall for storage, I decided I wanted a large "island" for a cutting table and to hold a big board ironing board. We bought stock cabinets from Home Depot and stained them. Easy! The only thing that took a little more time was the counter top. Since the island was an odd size, we had to custom order the counter top. So now, I have storage and a great area for cutting and ironing! ..... apparently also a great sleeping place for the cat.
Fabric storage and sewing table were next. I actually had an old bead board cupboard that I decided to use for some fabric storage (along with the wall cabinets) and I used our old dining room table for my sewing table!
We used a peg board made for garage use to hang my rulers and added shelves between my wall cupboards. OK .... I have shelves, why is my counter still a mess??
So there you have it! Now it's time for me to get back to designing! Happy Quilting!