Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas!

Wishing everyone who celebrates Christmas a merry one. I'm sharing a picture of my Angel Quilt which has never been posted online. It is about 20 years old and is the result of a block swap on AOL (remember those?). As you can see, we didn't specify block size (which I actually prefer) and I was able to build around my blocks using some simple half-square triangles.

Angel Quilt
I had just gotten this back from the longarm quilter and it was draped over my cutting table in my sewing/laundry room. My middle daughter was about 12 at the time and she came running upstairs yelling that the washing machine was overflowing and she was able to grab the quilt away from the water all over the floor, but unfortunately it was too late for one part of it.

Can you see the angel with the blue dress on (NOT the devil with the blue dress; that's a song)? Well, the red from the red angel below her bled all over her blue dress and onto the white background! Renegade dyes! (And no. I do NOT prewash my fabrics; don't judge me.)

I found a little applique angel and placed her right on top of the most egregious of the red stain.

This quilt hangs in my living room above my couch. I love the Nativity story with all the angel activity. One appears to Mary. One appears to Elizabeth (John the Baptist's mother.) One appears to Joseph (more than once). A whole slew of them appear to the shepherds out in the fields.

They always begin with: "Do not be afraid!" I think that is a timely message to Americans these days, don't you?

Hope you have a blessed day with family and friends. And be on the lookout for those angels who sometimes appear when we least expect it. Their message is still: "Do not be afraid!"

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Happy Hanukkah!

Christmas Eve and the first day of Hanukkah converge on the same day. We can all celebrate the Festival of Lights as we climb past the shortest day of the year (Winter Solstice). To all my Jewish friends and blog followers, I wish you many blessed days in the year to come.

This is a gift bag I made to appear in the 2015 Quilting Arts magazine. It uses my own paper pieced dreidel block:
Hanukkah gift bag
This is how my two bags were photographed in the magazine:

Gift bags for Hanukkah
I had also made a few gift tags and a book mark about 10 years ago:

Gift tag and book mark
I gave these items to my oldest daughter as gifts for my 3 year old granddaughter's preschool teachers. Eva goes to a Jewish preschool and I'm so glad these can make special gifts. I had 2 copies of the magazine and they were included, too!

This is what the 6" paper pieced dreidel looks like before it's put into the bag:

6" paper pieced Dreidel
I will make this a pattern soon - both the paper pieced dreidel and the bag. For now, I'm wishing all of you a blessed Hanukkah. (Tomorrow is Christmas and I hope to post a picture or two then.)

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Here Comes the Sun - Again!

This is a repost from last year at Winter Solstice because it came again this year. Really, it did! And I added a few other things from this Fabricadabra Collection.

I pay attention to the amount of sunlight we get each day. Or the lack thereof. Yes, I don't live in Alaska or Scandinavia. Still, November and December are too dark for me. I look forward to the shortest day of the year because that means that the days will be getting longer after that!

How better to celebrate the Winter Solstice than to make a quilt block. Forget the pagan stuff swirling around this - I like the sun for the sunshine!

I began with one idea and it morphed into another, mainly because of my available fabrics. I was looking for a bright orange and found it in the Benartex Fabricadabra Collection by Paula Nadelstern. And then I saw that I had the companion panels and my creative juices began to flow.

Fabracadabra panel, one motif of three in a 42" cut
Have you seen Paula's new book, Fabricadabra? It's a delightful expansion of her way with complex designs as they morph from quilt to quilt.

Fabricadabra by Paula Nadelstern
If you click the book title, you can actually see what's inside! Be ready for a visual treat!

Back to my story about my Winter Solstice Block: I wanted a hexagon shaped sun (what's new about that, huh?) So, in order to capture the entire motif and not ruin the one next to it, I had to cut my freezer paper hexagon at 11" for a finished height of 10-1/2". Why freezer paper? So I could center and cut the panel.

Freezer paper template - centering the design

Cut out the motif . . .
Motif cut for center of my Winter Solstice Sun. Motif will finish to 10-1/2" height

Now for the sun's rays. I wanted orange, ok? Who says they have to be yellow (fire is really orange anyway). I strip pieced two strips along both lengths and then cut them using my Creative Grids 60 degree ruler.
Cutting my strip-pieced units. Triangles will finish to 2-5/8". Strips cut to 3-1/8"
This is not a pattern because the numbers are really whacky. Just sit back and enjoy the colors!
Adding an extra orange triangle to the 2-triangle unit
Now cut the needed 60 degree diamonds . . .
Diamonds cut from 3-1/8" strips using the 60 degree lines on my 6 x 12 ruler
Notice that there is only straight seam sewing; no y-seams
Last 3 sides added
Now for my sun!

Here Comes My Sun
I added larger 30 degree side triangles to "square" it up and then some borders. Will quilt it in January, I hope.
Welcome, Sun! I'll take an extra minute of sunshine every day from you!
And let me show you one more block I made using these fabulous motifs cut into a hexagon. I brought in the radiant blue from the Fabracadabra Collection. What do you think? I may take those final borders off. I don't like how they look and that's all the fabric I had.

This is my new block that I call Double Star. Very easy to make and I have two quilts to share in the New Year I made using this pattern. All straight seam sewing. Absolutely NO Y-SEAMS!
Double Star using Fabricadabra
Those who follow my blog know about some of the other things I've done using these panels. There are little kaleidoscopes along the selvedge edge of these fabrics. I made them the center of these little stars.


And I put these stars into a ring with another of those Fabricadabra panels in the center.

Circle of Stars using Fabricadabra fabrics

And then I had a few of the little ones remaining and used them as centers in my Grandmother's Flower Garden blocks:
Using the little panels as the centers of some GFG blocks
Yes, December 21 is the shortest day of the year here in the Northern Hemisphere. And then the days get longer! Here comes the Sun!

Wishing you and your family a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Grabbing a Kiss Under the Mistletoe and FABRIC GIVEAWAY

Giveaway is over. Patricia D. of New York is my lucky winner of a fat quarter bundle.
Many thanks to all of you for such great comments and ideas!

It's that time of year when we pull out the happy fabrics for holiday cheer. I blog today over at the Sew in Love with Fabric site about the Mistletoe Collection. I did something rather unconventional with some of these fabrics and I think you'll enjoy seeing the steps.

Mistletoe Collection
 Let's just say that sometimes you need a little help from the stationary department!

Yep. That's double sided tape. With fabric?!!
Take a visit. Come back here and tell me if you've ever done something unconventional with a piece of fabric that yelled "QUILT", but you ignored those voices and did something a little different.

The GIVEAWAY is a fat quarter bundle of current Benartex fabrics (may not be Mistletoe). Contest is over Friday, December 9 at midnight (EST). Make sure I have your email address so I can get ahold of you should you win!

That's all I'm saying. Click here for my tutorial at the Sew in Love with Fabrics blog.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

December Block for Adinkra Quilt

Here is our last block in the 2016 Adinkra Block of the Month quilt. I hope you've enjoyed the ride.

This is WO NSA DA MU A: "If your hands are in the dish"
This is a symbol of democracy and pluralism. "If your hands are in the dish, people do not eat everything and leave you nothing."

Wo Nsa Da Mu A
I will not be offering a block of the month for 2017. I will be offering occasional patterns and tutorials as it fits in with my busy schedule. A lot of work and I've enjoyed it. I've only heard from a small handful of you as to your interest and progress (out of at least 900 followers on this theme). But if you finish your quilt top and even the quilt itself, I'd love to see a picture and celebrate with you!

If you've not already done it, sign up to follow my blog so you don't miss any of my tutorials or free patterns. I don't keep track of you (honest - I just don't have the time for those details) and would NEVER, EVER pass on your name to a 3rd party!

See you in 2017!

Friday, December 2, 2016

2016 Calendar Girls December Block

Here is is: the last of the 2016 Calendar Girls blocks and projects. It is called the Star and Berry Wreath. It's a perfect size for either a wall banner or a table runner. The blocks are 12" finished.

Star and Berry Wreath: 22" x 48"
I've included the 3 page pdf on how to sew this: Star and Berry Wreath

as well as the one page pdf on tips for the bias technique used for the wreath: A Touch of Applique

I hope you've enjoyed this series of my Block/Project of the Month. I am not planning one for 2017. I will have the occasional "Quilt of the Moment" (to use a phrase of quilter Judy Martin's). I wish you a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and a prosperous New Year. May it be filled with fulfilling quilting, happy times with family and friends and good health!

I hope you'll consider my 2017 Quilter's Block and Pattern Calendar should you wish for more quilt inspiration. I know it is offered on Amazon. Check with your local quilt shop also.

2017 Block and Pattern a Day Calendar

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Windham Wednesdays with the Hand Maker Collection

Natalie Barnes has created an awesome, modern collection for Windham Fabrics called Hand Maker. With 23 skus in this group, I hardly knew where to begin. But, they whispered loudly and I grabbed a handful of the colors, setting aside the black and white prints for the time being.

The Hand Maker Collection by Natalie Barnes for Windham Fabrics

I grabbed a tried and true pattern of mine and resized it. It's my Easy Winding Ways applique block and you will see how easy this is to make. I wanted to get the most out of a fat quarter, so I cut 8-1/2" background squares that will work with my applique. (You can find this same Winding Ways pattern in a larger, 10" finished block size in my Craftsy Store.)

I began with my template cut from freezer paper. I ironed it to the right side of an 8" square of my chosen fabric, with the fusible interfacing underneath (the applique can be cut from a smaller piece of fabric than the background square). Then I cut it out.
Freezer paper template, fabric and fusible interfacing
I auditioned it on the background fabric I selected. Yep! That's the background I want for this beautiful teal.

Applique paired with a background square.
Then I cut out a total of 6 Winding Ways applique units

6 fabrics: 3 dark and 3 light
I paired and cut out background squares to coordinate with my patches. I then pulled threads for the raw edge applique.

Getting ready for machine raw edge applique
And how did you line up the patch, Debby? I finger pressed vertical and horizontal creases, as you can see. Notice that there is a 1/4" around the 4 sides.

Centering the patch
And can we see one closeup after the applique? I used a small, narrow zigzag stitch around the raw edges.

Zig Zag machine stitch
And from the back? Oh, now you understand why I used fusible interfacing and not fusible webbing. This way you can trim away the background fabric. This is VERY important when you have a dark background fabric and a light patch. If it is fused, the dark will affect the light colored applique patch. Ask me how I know!

Trim background fabric from behind the applique
I want to make more of these blocks, so I haven't sewn them together yet. But I think they look lovely spread out on my work table, don't you? Notice how I will arrange them, light to dark

Blocks auditioning before sewing, lights and darks
 And the finished blocks:
6 EZ Winding Ways blocks
Go visit my Craftsy shop to see my black and white Winding Ways quilt and pattern. It is constructed exactly like this. It is a wonderful way to get the movement in this traditional, vintage block without all the curved piecing!

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Updated Double Wedding Ring featured in Modern by the Yard and FREE pattern

The new magazine is out today: Modern by the Yard (Benartex).

You can also preview it at the Sew in Love with Fabric blog site

You will find inspiration and updated traditional blocks for today's quilter. My feature is about an updated Double Wedding Ring (DWR).

DWR melon shapes ready to create something modern

No, I didn't sew these all together. What a lump and sewing challenge that would have been in that center!

Here's what I did create. A real modern twist on a traditional Double Wedding Ring (DWR).

Find this FREE pattern in the new eMagazine: Modern by the Yard
You may find that the link for the pdf containing the melon shape doesn't work. Just send me an email and I'll get that off to you: kratovil@his.com. Benartex is working to fix the glitch.

I hope you enjoy the other 4 patterns included, as well as the features on other quilters and a lot of eye candy for new fabric collections.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Modern by the Yard, Fall Edition, released tomorrow!

The newest edition of Modern by the Yard (by Benartex) is released on Monday, November 28. I was asked to update a traditional pattern and I chose the Double Wedding Ring. It's something I've been doing for almost 15 years and I think you'll like the quilt and the process.

Here's a little teaser:
Sew in Love with Fabric will reveal the pattern tomorrow!
You will also see one of my "oldie goldie" quilts from long ago, also made with Benartex fabrics. Published in Quick Quilts Magazine, early 2000s.

Tomorrow I'll reveal the quilt and a link to get the FREE pattern. Until then, enjoy your weekend!

Friday, November 25, 2016

Jack's Chain Tutorial

I've made two of these blocks and learned something new with each one. The most important thing for me was that I discovered I did NOT want to sew this by hand OR sew this with y-seams as it is traditionally made.

I found a digital file from 20 years ago when I was an editor with Quilt Magazine. This is one of the images:

This is made using a center hexagon, six equilateral (60 degree) triangles and simple 9 Patch blocks. I began with 2-1/2" strips for the 9 Patch blocks and worked my way out from there.

6" finished 9 Patch blocks using 2-1/2" strips
We all look for blocks and quilts that use up our Jelly Roll bundles, right? Well, this will do it!

My first block was sewn by the seat of my pants (and my sewing machine, btw). I created the center hexagon template (6" hexagon along the straight sides), found that the triangles can be cut from a 5-3/4" strip and started cutting. (Remember, I design with Adobe Illustrator and can create just about any block once I know a few of the dimensions.)

Marking the intersection of the 1/4" seams at the tip of the triangle
This Jack's Chain Block requires marking the 1/4" intersections. Did I say MUST?. This way you can make sure that the seams are totally accurate. If you don't want to take this step, stop right now and abandon this project (did I really say that?)


Mark the 1/4" seams on the Nine Patch
Use a pin to align the 9 Patch with the triangle as shown below:
Using a pin to align the triangle with the 9 Patch block
Sew the 6 triangles and 6 Nine Patch blocks together into a "ring." What you see below is the "ring" and the center hexagon fabric being auditioned underneath. It is NOT sewn yet.

Ring of 9 Patch blocks and triangles, awaiting the center hexagon
Now, back to that 6" center hexagon. This is 6" measured along the straight side (the way those who English Paper Piece measure these things). You can use an acrylic ruler to draft this, as most have a 60 degree line for orientation. My 8 page pdf pattern on Craftsy - for the Jack's Chain Table Topper - has the template for hexagon (as well as process photos, illustrated step by step diagrams and the template for the 60 degree triangles). Since I have bills to pay (as you do), it's not free, but is reasonable ($5.00)!

If you want a FREE PATTERN using 1-1/2" strips, I found a wonderful page by Marcia Hohn for making a Jack's Chain, with templates and very helpful steps, well illustrated, too. She shows steps for joining the 9 Patches with the triangles and then joining them (using y-seams) to the center hexagon. Marcia was a regular contributor to Quilt Magazine when I worked there. This is the link for Marcia's Jack's Chain.

My craftsy pattern is here: Jack's Chain Table Topper, 22-1/2" x 22-1/2"

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Windham Wednesdays on the Farm

Today I want to share two sweet projects made for my little granddaughter using the Farm Collection by Windham Fabrics. She is not yet 3 years old and still enjoys the simple things (ie, she's not a teenager, ok?)

Remember this main print I shared the other day?

Main print in the Farm Collection
 Here is the set of fat quarters Windham sent to me. Aren't they SO CUTE? That is one SAUCY rooster, don't you think?

Set of fat quarters from the Farm Collection
I struggled. Why? To a quilter, ALL fabric says "quilt!" But I knew that her mom (my daughter) wanted another pillowcase for Eva. She has several quilts already. I selected two fabrics to go with the main print. All I had was fat quarters so I needed to piece the main part of the pillowcase. One for the front and one for the back.

Happy little farm animals, smiling at me as they know they're going to get off my fabric shelf and go live with a little child!

See how happy these animals are to be on their way to a pillowcase!
 Happy rooster, cow and horse - they like the green thread I chose to topstitch the pillowcase hem.
Selecting the right color of green
Folding the green hem to hide the seam. Pinned and ready to topstitch with green thread.
Back side of the pillowcase

Hello? We can see you from the other side!
Zigzagged seems inside

This was made for a special size pillow: 13" x 18" x 4" deep
Finished pillowcase
Next, for a zipper pouch, I needed to shorten the zipper so it would fit the pouch size. A neat trick, don't you think? At first the pig and sassy rooster were worried I might get their "hair" tangled in it. But, see, they're still smiling?
Little Pig and Sassy Rooster are still smiling
I made a zipper pouch for Eva to put her little treasures in. Don't you love it?
Zippered pouch with batting and lining
And let's see the inside!

Zipper pouch on the inside
Where did I get the pattern for this? Certainly not from my head! I did a Google search and came up with a post from Melly Sews. She shares the neat trick for shortening the zipper, too.

I like the challenge of working with fat quarters. It forces me to be creative. Who says the pillowcase has to made from only one fabric? And I think my granddaughter will enjoy flipping the pillow over to see what's on the other side.

Now I'm off to the Dollar Store to find a few farm themed pre-school items to put inside that bag. She gets this on Thanksgiving!