Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Windham Wednesdays and Forest Buddies

Well, the name of the fabric collection is Forest Parade, but they all look like they could be buddies with any little child! And, yes: I was sent fat quarters and the challenge was on! First, let's see the fabrics . . .
Forest Parade by Petit Collage for Windham Fabrics

What did I decide to make with these sweet fabrics? Hmmm. I think I will rummage in my quilt vault and pull out a tried and true pattern that I've made twice before. Once for my first book Bold, Black and Beautiful Quilts. The quilt was stolen back in 2005 (I've told this story before). Here's a picture:

98 Dancing Squares
Windham asked me to make a quilt using their Bright Basics Collection (2009). And it was patterned and you can have the pattern at the end of this post. Here is the remake of my Happy Squares quilt:

Happy Squares for Windham Fabrics
So, let's see how I used the Forest Parade fat quarters to make this quilt for the third time. First, I cut two 6-1/2" and two 3-1/2" squares from each of the 11 fat quarters (and a few extra). My plan was to make a quilt with 25 blocks, so I needed 25 small AND large squares total.

Two 6-1/2" and two 3-1/2" squares of each print
Wait! What are those white squares? Fusible interfacing for the 3-1/2" squares. I will NOT use fusible webbing so I can clip away the background fabric after I applique. Applique? What am I talking about? Look closely at the first quilt. See the gold stitching around each centered square? I placed a small square in the center of each big square: some on point, others straight. Then I used a satin stitch with gold thread. The same thing is happening with the second quilt, only this time I changed the threads to match the center squares.

Let's see my steps for this quilt:

Fuse a 3-1/2" square of interfacing to wrong side of each 3-1/2" Forest Parade square
Pair each small square with a companion large square. I divided the squares into two piles: 12 large squares of "solid" reading fabrics. 13 large squares of animal prints.

 Fold half the large "solid" squares along both diagonals (as shown) and use the lines to align the small square. Pin in place.
Aligning the small square with a companion large square
And the other half of the squares? Fold the center of each large square along horizontal and vertical. Align the companion small square as shown. Pin.

Aligning the small square with a companion large square
Now it's time to stitch! I pulled out several spools of Coats variegated thread and auditioned them.

Fabrics and threads
Audition your stitches using scrap fabric before you commit to your blocks!

Block stitched
And then, because I used interfacing, I can clip away the background fabric to reduce bulk.

Carefully cut into background fabric and remove, leaving 1/4" seams
Oh, no! What about those little squares! Did you throw then away? Of course, not! I'll show you in a minute.

Here's a closeup of the quilt squares as they seem to tilt back and forth:
Forest Parade quilt center
Here's the quilt top, all gotten from those fat quarters. I had to get creative with my borders. Do you like what I did?

Forest Parade Dancing Squares
Here is the pattern for making the quilt center with a traditional border: Happy Squares

I trimmed each of the 25 cutaways down to 2-3/4" and sewed them together into a little companion quilt for my granddaughter. I quilted it simply using my Bernina walking foot. It's only about 11" square, perfect for covering little dollies. Isn't this the cutest?

Cutaway squares sewn into a little dolly blanket
Here is an Etsy shop that carries these fabrics: Moona Fabrics

You can visit the Windham Fabrics Forest Parade web page and see all the other quilt shops that carry this collection! I think that's a neat service. The contact information is included in the list and you may find a shop near you so you can make your own Forest Parade quilt!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Modern Patchwork Spring 2015

It never gets old, though it's happened hundreds of times. Having quilts published in magazines is still a thrill for me (and the quilts think it's akin to being a rock star - and they act like it, too!) The latest issue of Modern Patchwork (Spring 2015) has two of my quilts and the pictures are so lovely!

Modern Patchwork Spring 2015
Can I show them to you? First is a project I designed using one of my templates (from the EZ Double Wedding Ring set). I used the Cream and Sugar Collection from Windham Fabrics. I still have some large scraps leftover and want to use every single one. I take this little table topper on the road with me when I teach beginning free motion quilting.

Flower Power: 17" x 17"
Flower Power
The second project is a little quilt made using leftovers from my Thousand Pyramids quilt (which appeared in the Summer 2014 issue of Modern Patchwork):

Thousand Pyramids Quilt: 21" x 22" from the Summer issue
I used a charm pack of 5" squares in Kona Cotton solids. I cut the stack in such a way that I got the Thousand Pyramids quilt AND usable leftovers. The leftovers became the basis for my Fractured Jewels quilt. I added a few more solids and another 1/2 yard of Kona Snow.

Fractured Jewels Quilt (37" x 29") in the CURRENT issue of Modern Patchwork
These are the basis for new workshops. In fact, I teach BOTH in an all day class for the Mid Appalachian Quilters Retreat in July. Thousand Pyramids in the morning and Fractured Jewels in the afternoon. The class sold out in the first hour of registration! Now they've opened a second day. I never could have imagined. What do you think?

I have to chuckle when I think that this "oldster" can actually make modern quilts. But, if you look at my projects, they are just traditional patterns using new fabrics (lots of solids and white, white, white).

Modern Patchwork Magazine is filled with a true variety of quilted projects: small, medium and large. Things for the bed, the wall, the table and several interesting interviews with today's popular modern quilters.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Windham Wednesdays and Spotlight on Solids

I had the pleasure to create 8 patterns for Windham using the Gee's Bend collection of solids. With permission from the Gee's Bend quilters, we patterned 8 of their improvisational works. I even helped decide which colors Windham would produce in fabric. While those fabrics are no longer available (they had the feel of batiks and the look of hand dyes), Windham does have similar solids.

(My Gee's Bend patterns can be found at my Craftsy site.)

Fractured Jewels using Gee's Bend Solids
I created this little sample for a workshop a few years ago using the Gee's Bend fabrics.

Last Saturday my oldest daughter Audrey asked, "Mom, can I have that quilt for our apartment?"
"Of course," I said. And she took it right off my wall. Yes, she did.

And where did it end up? In the play space of my little 15 month old granddaughter, at her eye level!

Even little people need to see quilts at their eye level, right?
Windham liked my quilt so much that they asked me to create a bigger one using their Colonies line of solids. There is a Flip Book with free projects at the Windham site. I've shared this FREE pattern before, but here it is again. I love this quilt. The solids are perfect in this seemingly improvisational project, but since I had to pattern it, it only LOOKS improvisational.

Fractured Jewels, 54" x 54"
You can have this FREE pattern by going to the Windham site: Fractured Jewels

I was sent a new line called Artisan Cotton which are cross-dyed shot cottons with a wonderful hand. I hope to create something modern looking with them.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Sunshine Butterflies

I designed a butterflies pattern for Cut Loose Press using Jean Ann Wright's 6" Curvy Log Cabin ruler. My little quilt uses browns, which don't inspire me in the midst of the color riot in Spring.

Sunshine Butterflies. 47" x 47"
A Wisconsin quilt shop, Quilting Divas Sewing Boutique, sent me their finished quilt that they are featuring during their shop hop in June. Isn't this just the cheeriest?

Sunshine Butterflies by Quilting Divas
The Wisconsin State Shop Hop is in June, so those of you who live there are in for a treat. Here is the info for the Quilting Divas:

Quilting Divas Sewing Boutique LLC
445 Cardinal Ln Ste 108
Green Bay WI 54313

You can order the pattern from me, but you MUST have the 6" ruler for the pattern to make sense. It was designed and created using that ruler. Three of the blocks make one butterfly (the head and antennae are appliqued to a plain square). So, each butterfly is 12".

You can also check with your local quilt shop for this pattern. It retails for $3.99!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Lone Star Tutorial for Windham Wednesdays

Here I am revisiting the quilt I shared last Wednesday made from the beautiful Peyton Collection by Windham Fabrics. I was sent a bundle of fat quarters. I love the challenge of having a limited amount of fabric and setting out to make something bigger than a pot holder or place mat!

Peyton's Star. 28" x 28"
This is not meant to be a pattern, but general instructions on my process.

This is a FAT QUARTER FRIENDLY quilt! For the 19" center star, I used one fat quarter of:
-- Red
-- Green
-- Khaki
-- Large scale floral print

For the borders I used two more fat quarters (light red floral print and the light red blender) and a few scraps from the star fabrics.

Remember, this Lone Star has NO y-seams. Everything is straight seam sewing!

The fabrics again:
Peyton Collection by Nancy Gere for Windham Fabrics
I selected the colors over on the right for my quilt.

So, how did I make that 28" x 28" Lone Star quilt from just fat quarters? I'm glad you asked!

I am using my GO TO Lone Star pattern, which makes a 19" (approximately) block. You can get the pattern for this at my Craftsy shop (Storybook Americana Lone Star, also by Windham Fabrics)

I first decided which fat quarter would be the Lone Star background. I used the larger scale print with the red and green flowers.

My Lone Star is made of eight Four Patch Diamonds. I cut 2-1/2" strips of the red and the khaki print and the green print. Using the 45 degree line on your ruler, slice off the left side of the 2-1/2" green strip (see below).

Trim the left side to 45 degrees using your ruler
Now add the red strip to the top and sew with 1/4" seam. Press toward the red fabric:
Sew these two strips together
Repeat for the red strip and the khaki strip. Again, press seam toward the red fabric:
Trim khaki strip and add the red strip as shown
Now you trim the red strip at the same angle as show below. Notice that the 45 degree line on your ruler runs along the seam line.

Trim red strip even with bottom strip on both strip sets
Now make cuts every 2-1/2", working along the CUT edge and your ruler. DO NOT - I REPEAT - DO NOT USE LINES ON YOUR CUTTING MAT. Why do I say this? Because too many quilters use those lines by habit and I've seen an entire quilt destroyed by a student who made this cut using the 2-1/2" line on her mat. Very sad indeed! Always use your ruler to measure!

Cut units 2-1/2" wide
Cut until you run out of fabric. You will have to make two strip sets of each color group.
Continue cutting every 2-1/2"
VERY IMPORTANT NOTE: It is crucial that you get an accurate 1/4" seam. We are working with bias edges. We are working with an Eight Pointed Star grid. You cannot afford to get wobbly seams, have irregular seams, or press too heavy with your iron. If in doubt, practice your 1/4" seam and make a sample unit or two with scrap fabric.

You need eight units of the khaki and red; eight units of the green and red. One of each are placed together to make one Four Patch Diamond. Notice the placement of the colors. It DOES make a difference. The green and khaki diamonds have to be on the ends as shown:

Take care to place your patches as shown
Now stitch them together and make a total of 8 Four Patch Diamonds. Press this seam OPEN. The sides of this unit have to be completely even. If you are not getting smooth, aligned sides, you will have to mark a 1/4" seam on one of the long edges in order to get these ACCURATE.

Make 8 of these Four Patch Diamonds
Now it's time to add the background half-square triangles from the floral print. It is important to AUDITION these as shown. It is very easy to pick up the wrong triangle or turn the right triangle in the wrong direction, and then we know what happens then (out pops Jack the Seam Ripper!)

Lay your triangles out so they look like this
Flip the small triangle over top of the Four Patch diamond, aligning them as shown below. These background triangles are cut OVERSIZED and then trimmed later:

Align triangles with tips and sides of the Four Patch Diamonds
Stitch and press TOWARD the background fabric:
Press toward the background fabric
Now add the larger triangles. You are now able to use the top and side straight edges of the unit to align this triangle:
Align as shown
Stitch and press toward the background print:
Stitched and pressed. 1/4" seam at top tips of Four Patch Diamonds. They will NOT need to be trimmed
Time to trim the oversized background triangles, using the sides of the Four Patch Diamonds. You may have to trim the sides of the small triangles, again using the long sides of the Four Patch Diamonds as your guide.
Again, use the 45 degree line on your ruler to help you get a straight cut
Do this for all 8 of your units. Make these two by two as shown in the "AUDITION" picture above.

Time to sew them into the four block units. We are NOT stitching them as we auditioned them for the triangles. We are making SQUARES and not large triangles. Sew two units together along the sides where the large background fabric triangles are. Yes, you can see the seam (as opposed to a traditional Lone Star, but I'm out to feel successful and not stressed. And when it's quilted, you won't even be able to tell.

Sew two units together as shown. Repeat 3 more times.
Press this long seam open:

Press long seam open
Sew the four units into the center star:
Press seams open when you can for a flatter, smoother front
OK. I'm running out of steam. Let's finish up so I can go take a nap! 

I made Nine Patch units for the border.
Make 4 of these Nine Patch units
Stitch as shown. Attach to quilt sides; press. Trim last two sets of borders even with the center, add a Nine Patch block to each of the short sides of the borders, press, and sew to complete the quilt top.

And here is the quilt again, finished. This was quilted on my HandiQuilter Sweet 16 sit down machine. I loved how quickly I was able to do it. I didn't do anything fancy, just some loops. I guess you could say I'm not so much a quilter as I am a looper!

Peyton's Star, quilted and bound with the remaining red blender
I made the same size Lone Star two years ago with the Rebecca Collection by Windham. The diamonds were a single fabric on one and a four patch on the other. Can I show you those?

Two Lone Star table toppers, same size block
Hope you enjoyed these easy steps. Check out my pattern at my Craftsy Store: Storybook Americana Lone Star.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Playful Pups Quilt

I've rediscovered this cute collection of fabrics from Benartex from 2007 (yes, a LONG time ago if you are a piece of fabric). I have some usable scraps left over from making my Playful Pups quilt, which I think appeared in a past issue of a Fons and Porter magazine. Isn't this the cutest? I no longer own it, but I'm thinking of remaking something like it for a little child.

Playful Pups Quilt
They also included cats and I have some scraps of that. I think this sort of novelty print surely captures the attention of a little child. Not much more to share today.

Remember, tomorrow is Windham Wednesday's where I'll share my tutorial on making that Lone Star quilt with no y-seams. Hope to see you then (and yes, there's a giveaway).

Friday, April 10, 2015

Two Quilts Get a New Home

My son in law (Daniel) has a new coworker from Valencia, Spain who is doing post doctorate work with him in his lab at Johns Hopkins (Baltimore, MD). He and his wife have two young daughters and they moved here in January (think snow). Valencia Spain: think San Diego! What a SHOCK!

I met them for the first time at Audrey's house on Easter. I felt compelled to take two quilts for the little girls. After all, quilts are so American and are very comforting if you're feeling like a stranger in a strange new world.

Here are the two I pulled from my stash. The first one was featured in my 2012 wall calendar of quilts. I made it for Windham Fabrics in January of 2009 and once it was photographed, it dutifully went to live in my closet. Such a shame it had to wait so long! I gave this one to Nairara who is 9 years old.

Dancing Flower Pots. 46" x 58"
The second one I made in 2007. Pitched it every so often to a magazine. No one picked it up (sigh). Was a workshop in Atlanta. Now it is loved by Aitana, the 22 month old little Spanish girl.

Lotsa Strips. 48" x 58"
And the back?
Back pieced using fat quarters and a novelty print
So, I placed two lonely quilts with two little girls who had no idea what a quilt was (and neither did their parents). What happy quilts!

Now I'm working on two quilts for another set of little children. Quilts are finished; just need to quilt them. I love having class samples that I can grab and quilt and pass on. The quilts are SO happy, too. They have heard how lonely it can be in my closets and really want to go live with real people. They have told me they really don't mind being dragged around, sat on, smothered in bed, or even thrown up on! They just want to live a normal quilt life! I'm trying, honest!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Windham Wednesdays - What's Coming Up

Can you believe it? I not only sewed this little quilt in one day, but I also quilted it. And, yes, I took process photos for a tutorial. Come back next Wednesday for the tutorial. For now, just look at the lovely fabrics. And think about winning the purple group of this Peyton Collection. I used only the red/green/khaki group for what I call Peyton's Star.

Peyton's Star. Block Size: 19" x 19". Quilt Size: 28" x 28"
First, let's look at the collection of fat quarters that Windham sent:

Peyton Collection by Windham Fabrics
I stayed with the fabrics on the right side. I used one of my "go to" patterns, a rotary cut Lone Star with NO set in seams. Next week, if you come back, I'll show the steps for creating this.

And I will have a giveaway of the purple group on the left side:

5 fat quarters of Peyton
So, think about it. Have a great week. See you here next Wednesday, right?