Monday, September 24, 2018

Michael Miller Monday: How Charming!

Yes, I'm back and I have a VERY lavender quilt to show you. Don't confuse this with purple! But, I have to say that I have never made a lavender quilt in my 30+ years of quilting - not a one. This will go down in the history books, right? Ha ha.

Here she is. And I will share a few details of how I got here.

Charming, right?
Please remember I was sent a set of fat quarters. Let me remind you.

Charming fat quarters
I chose the four lavender skus and one of the light prints, plus a few Fairy Frost fat quarters.

The fabrics I chose to work with
I cut two 9-1/2" squares from that interesting fabric with the spider webs. I usually don't like spiders and their webs - I walked right into one last week on my morning 3 mile walk and just about had a heart attack! But this web looks sweet and harmless (yeah, right).

I was not interested in centering the motif. I like the "organic" look.

Two squares with the spider web.
After trying to listen intently to the fabrics and what they wanted to become, I set to work surrounding the squares with 1-1/2" strips of the light green.

Strips of green surround the squares
I fussy cut from another fabric, centering a bouquet of flowers. I had to use a piece of freezer paper in order to get in all straight. This is my center square and I cut it at 11-1/2" (I won't be using strips around it).

Fussy cutting my center square
I had to get creative in cutting the corner and side setting triangles. Fat quarters are not a lot of fabric!

I needed TWO 9" squares for the corner triangles. Cut those in half as you can see. This is so the outside edges are on the straight grain, NOT on the bias.

Cutting the 9" squares in half for the corner triangles
Then I forgot to take pics of the side triangles, but just so you know: to set 11" squares on point and have side setting triangles fit, I needed to cut one 17" square into four triangles. This is so that the outside edge is along the straight grain! I used one of the other prints with the beautiful roses.

Corner and side triangles
 Everything is stitched along the diagonal. Let me show you (lighting in my sewing room isn't the greatest near the design wall). Notice how the center diagonal row is made up of two corner triangles and 3 blocks. The right corner block has one side triangle (cut from a 17" square) on each side with a corner triangle as shown. The bottom left corner block has the same. Notice the two diagonal seams that are about to be stitched!

Four squares with green strips; center square plain
These side and corner triangles are cut a little large; time to trim, leaving 1/4" seam. The quilt center is about 32" x 32". Now to get ready to put the red Fairy Frost inner border on.

Trimming to leave 1/4" seam
One of the prints is composed of rows of roses. There were four of them. I cut them apart and used them in the borders. Of course, they are only 18" wide, so I had to get creative with the leftovers from cutting these blocks.

How Charming, indeed!
Some little girl will love this quilt. It measures about 40" x 40". Have you ever made a lavender quilt?

I can't wait to sew with the black and red prints. And those luscious blues. I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Oh, Scrap! More Strips and Strings and Two More Quilts

I dug into my Quilt Vault and pulled out two more scrap buster quilts. These were made almost 20 years ago from the bags of strips and leftover pieces of fabric I couldn't bear to throw out.

The first one is Rocky Road to Kansas, a vintage pattern. I cut dozens of 6-1/2" squares of newsprint and began piecing randomly on them for a foundation. I trimmed them and spent about 2 years mindlessly stitching with no plan in mind. I saw a vintage Rocky Road to Kansas quilt and realized my string pieced squares could now find a home!

This quilt has 17" blocks for an 80" x 80" bed sized quilt. Very scrappy! This appeared in Quilt Magazine, October 2000.

Rocky Road to Kansas
The method for cutting those string pieced kaleidoscope units was easy - any Kaleidoscope ruler will do (I include full size templates in my pattern). But I had some lovely leftovers from those leftovers (how can that be?) I could see that they were usable and put my thinking cap on and then my eyes landed on my Tri Recs ruler (a different angle than the Kaleidoscope ruler). I realized I could make them star points! And so I made String Pieced Stars. It also appeared in the same magazine issue. I guess my editor was happy to offer a two-for-one feature. I was happy with that check!

String Pieced Stars has 13-1/2" blocks and is a 55-1/2" x 72" quilt. This quilt now lives in a prominent place with my sister in law! I had forgotten who I had given it to long ago, and then we were on Face Time last week and this quilt was in the background! She says it is her very favorite quilt. It is in a happy home.

String Pieced Stars
I have bundled both of these quilts into one pattern on my Craftsy site. It is 13 pages of well illustrated, step by step directions with color pictures and artwork.

These are not quick quilts, but cut out some newsprint squares and begin piecing from your scrap bag and soon enough you will have what you need to start making your own Rocky Road to Kansas - and then the String Pieced Stars. Nothing goes to waste.

But, remember! You're not going to make much of a dent in your scrap pile. We know that a lot of hanky panky goes on at night and new scraps are born each morning. I'm just saying!

Just a sneak peek of what I've been string piecing this last week. These are destined to become Lone Star units. What do you think? I'll have more on these in the coming weeks. I have 12 more to finish and have a plan in mind.

String pieced Diamonds

Monday, September 17, 2018

Michael Miller Mondays: Sneak Peek

Charming. Yes, that's the name of this delightful collection by Michael Miller. Actually, the designs are from Gertie for MM. Check them out!

16 fabrics from the Charming Collection by Gertie for Michael Miller
I have to say that I jumped right in and selected the purple group, just because I figured it would be the most challenging. I love lavender and thought I would make something really, really girlie! You can actually see the lavender fabrics with a few other go-withs here: Lavender Charming. I wasn't sent the red dot or solid, so I had to pull a few Fairy Frosts.

3 Fairy Frost fat quarters to begin designing with
Holy Cow! The Fairy Frosts scroll on for about a mile (or they seem to). So many colors, so little time. But I'm going to try!

Then I discovered I left out one of the skus to go with the Lavender group! I was actually relieved. Now I have a little more contrast. Don't ask me what I'm planning to make. There's a lot of purple going on here, but I do my best as a pattern designer when I'm given a challenge. And it really helps that the fabric is SO beautiful.

One more sku to go with the Lavender color way
Check back next Monday to see what I came up with. There are a few ideas swirling around in my crowded brain, and the fabric has started to whisper to me, telling me what it wants to be. That's a really good sign!

Monday, September 10, 2018

New York Beauty or Dogwood Blossom? You decide.

I get most of my quilt inspiration from vintage and traditional patterns. New York Beauty is one of them. I first made a quilt using the basic curved unit with "teeth" about 20 years ago. This is Dogwood Blossom. It appeared in an issue of Quilt Magazine and then was in a batch of 20 quilts that was stolen in 2005! I miss this little quilt.


Dogwood Blossom, 1998
This lovely quilt was also in the same suitcase and now hangs on the Giant Quilt Rack in the Sky. Same units, different arrangement.

Dogwood Blossom in Brights
What do I mean by the units?
Paper pieced arcs with sharp points
And here are some with black for the background. These were pieced a LONG time ago!

Units with black background

Of course, when the two Dogwood Blossom quilts were stolen, I was on a teaching trip and they were the basis of one of my workshops. I had to beg fabric from my hostess so I could make some quick blocks in order to teach the class the next day.

Quick made blocks for my workshop
Then I decided to make ANOTHER one. Am I a glutton for punishment. No, I just like these blocks!
This 16 block quilt appeared in a magazine years ago

Then I decided to try a real New York Beauty with the stars and the Dogtooth borders. Yes, it's a LOT of piecing. The quilt top languished for 9 years as I agonized on how to quilt it. Nine. Long. Years!

New York Beauty before quilting

I've made some of those Dogtooth borders with some scrappy brights:

Paper pieced Dogtooth units for those side borders

Then I asked a fellow teacher who is an educator with Handi-Quilter to quilt the purple and green one above. There are no words to describe how happy I was to get this back. She filled in that huge center space with glorious stitching.

New York Beauty (about 40" x 40") beautifully quilted by Jane Hauprich
This is a planned new workshop that I hope to take back on the road. I had retired it for 13 years (when your samples are stolen, what can you do?)

Remember those four units near the top of the page? I combined them with some Kaffe Fassett fabrics and made a small sample.

Four New York Beauty/Dogwood Blossom blocks

 Now, if you're still with me, I want to show you my last quilt sample. I remembered I still had some OLD teaching samples in a box and I pulled them out in July. I got busy piecing and stitching and came up with this 12 block arrangement. What do you think?

12 New York Beauty/Dogwood Blossom blocks
Whew! That wore me out. Hope you enjoyed the show. I do have these patterned for my workshop, but not in a tight pdf for downloading. But, I'm working on it!

Friday, September 7, 2018

Got Scraps? Make These Blocks!

I taught a series of classes in Atlanta that used Kaffe Fassett fabrics. As you can imagine, we had leftovers! After about 5 workshops I developed an easy way to use them up. (Who am I kidding? You will NEVER make a dent in your scrap bag!)

This is called "string piecing" and has been a technique in the quilt world for well over 150 years. It was used by frugal quilters who saved every single scrap piece of fabric and then made her own "fabric" by stitching on a foundation.

Here is the first quilt I made. Notice that the blocks are rectangles. And they are foundation pieced using newsprint! You can buy what I call "Doodle Pads" at Target, school supply aisles in grocery stores, and don't forget the Dollar Store. I have even used tablets that measure 9" x 12". No problem. They fit together when you use the same size!

Scrap Buster blocks make an awesome quilt: 49" x 59"
Any size scraps will do. Let me show you! Draw a diagonal from one corner to another as shown. There are TWO blocks with strips going in opposite directions as shown below.

Rectangles of paper (I'm using 9" x 12" paper for these samples)
Now let's see some of the steps:

1. Select a strip that is longer than that center line.

First strip
2. Select a second strip and place it right sides with the first strip. Pin in place. Make sure edges extend beyond paper.

Audition strip


2nd strip aligned and pinned.

3. Now it's time to sew. 1/4", but you don't have to agonize about this. This will be close to an improvisational quilt.
Stitch
4. Press open and keep adding strips until the surface of the paper is covered. You stitch and flip, going from one side to the other. Finish those corners with a rough cut triangle.

Entire paper is stitched
5. Now to trim
Trim away excess beyond paper on all 4 sides.
And how does this look from the front? Lovely, huh? I pieced these this week using 9" x 12" paper.
First block trimmed
And the second block? Notice that the diagonal in the first block goes from top left to bottom right; the diagonal in second block goes from top right to bottom left.
Two blocks side by side
And four blocks together:

Four Blocks (9" x 12")
Now it's time to remove the paper. I'm going to do that while watching Dancing with the Quilt Stars on TV! Take care to support the stitches at the edge of paper. You don't want to open the seams.

Got one done.
Paper removed from string pieced block

I no longer have the quilt shown at the top. It was gifted to a family member who was recovering from surgery. I may keep going with these blocks to make another one quilt. Here is a picture of a quilt one of my students made. She took it even further to make a bed sized quilt.

Bed sized quilt by Anne Forman of Atlanta, GA
If you feel you need a real pattern with supplies and more diagrams, you can find it here: String Pieced Scrap Buster Quilt at my Craftsy store.


Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Christmas in September and FREE pattern

This is a post that ran 3 years ago and I think it is a good one to revisit. We all could use a Christmas tree skirt or even a drape to go around a beautiful potted plant. If you don't celebrate Christmas, you can easily make this in your favorite fabrics for a table topper. Just put a centerpiece over the hole in the center!

From July 2015:

I love all things traditional about Christmas. I've been married for 37 41 years and have been gathering holiday trimmings, decorations, textiles, lights, etc all that time. Throw in 3 daughters and now 3 4 grandchildren, you know I'm swimming in all things Christmas. I have a little secret: in my last move or two (out of 11) I've misplaced my tree skirt. Gone!

I chose the Homespun Holiday Collection by Benartex for the purpose of making a traditional tree skirt using one of my new templates. It's a super-sized Dresden Plate ruler (I call it the "Vortex") which is multi-sized. You won't need my ruler to make our tree skirt (I offer the pdf of the template at the end of this post), so don't worry.

Well, let me first show you the fabrics, right? I didn't ask for all of them and I also asked for some of the Burlap Fabrics (blenders) which will work with Homespun Holiday.
Homespun Holiday Collection by Benartex
I also pulled out a few Fossil Ferns to see if they could fill in should I need them:
Fossil Ferns, still faithful after 15+ years
I was working with fat quarters, so this is perfect for those wonderful bundles you buy with no idea for a project in mind!

From each of the prints and the blenders I cut the following:
-- One 3-1/2" x 22" strip
-- One 9-1/2" x 22" strip
Pair one 3-1/2" strip and one 9-1/2" strip as you wish, taking care to have good contrast. Don't agonize over this step or get all "matchey-matchey." Sew with 1/4" seam. Press. Make 10 sets.

Ten sets of narrow and wide strips sewn and pressed
Now it's time to cut. Notice my template can flip-flop back and forth with no waste. Cut two wedges from each two-strip set.
Cut two wedges from each set
Cut 10 wedges with the short strip at the widest end:

10 wedges with narrow strip unit at the widest
 Cut 10 wedges with the wide strip at the widest end of the shape:
10 wedges with the wide strip at the widest end of the shape
Now to sew and join the wedges in groups of fives. Notice that two sets begin and end with the wide fabric at the narrow end of the wedge; two sets begin and end with the short fabric strip on the narrow end of the wedge. Press seams open between the wedges as shown in one section below.

Four sections with 5 wedges in each
Decide where you want the opening and leave that edge unseamed. Select fabric for your lining (I found a Benartex Christmas print from a few years ago, about a yard), place tree skirt right sides together with lining and pin in place.

Pinning to lining
Now trim around entire skirt:
Tree skirt and lining pinned
First sew the two straight sides of the opening and trim excess wedge fabric:

Sew straight sides of skirt opening
Now we sew all around the outer curved edge and turn right side out. Press well
Tree skirt with lining, turned and pressed
Time for binding that center opening. It looked too small for me and so I trimmed away 1" from the curved edge:
Trim away 1" to enlarge opening
Trimmed:
Enlarged opening
I cut BIAS binding from a wonderful stripe from last year, Season's Greetings by Benartex - just enough to surround the opening and give me a tie. I cut 2" wide strips.
Bias strips for binding
And, the final tree skirt!
Holiday Tree Skirt: 27" diameter
Here is the pattern for that wedge. Just print and transfer to template material. I suggest freezer paper. Since you will have more than enough fabric in your pieced units (from the first step), you might be inspired to make one or two more tree skirts!

Free Pattern: Tree Skirt Wedge Template