Monday, October 21, 2019

Michael Miller Mondays with Tropical Batiks

I received this bundle of 25 fat quarters from the Michael Miller Tropical Batiks collection. I have had it for several weeks and didn't bother to open it until I was on the MM website and saw all the skus. Big WOW! I couldn't believe the motifs and the rich colors.

Fat quarter bundle of Tropical Batiks by Michael Miller
Oh. You want me to open it up and show you all the fabrics? I can do that!

Tropical Batiks in all their glory!
I'm still trying to figure out the best pattern to showcase their beauty. I have worked with batiks for about 20 years and find that the simpler the pattern, the more the fabric gets to do the work.

These are fat quarters and that challenges me to make the best use of the fabric. I developed a series of patterns in the early 2000s that I call Magic Stax. They all start with 10-1/2" squares and are stacked in a small pile and are cut at the same time (ie, stacks of 5 or 6 or 9). Then the patches are shuffled, swapped and stitched. I had several different quilts published in quilt magazines and decided to revisit one pattern called Pickup Sticks.

No templates. Just stacks of squares. Measure and cut - that's it.

Pickup Sticks was made in 2011 with a pile of bright batiks from a variety of vendors. I had some black and white no-name batik left from some workshops and decided to go with that.
Pickup Stix
Under that freezer paper is a stack of four 10-1/2" squares (this works with 10" squares, also). I measured in the same number (as listed in the pattern) on each side to get this uniform, slanted X.

Freezer paper ironed to a stack of 4 squares
 Four squares cut at the same time.
Peeled freezer paper away
Now we shuffle the patches. Note that the cut runs from top left to bottom right. I call this Block #1.
Same fabrics in each stack, but in different order
Time to add pre-cut strips. Looks similar to stained glass (to me). The slant on this stack goes from top right to bottom left. This is Block #2.

Adding strips to the blocks that slant the other way
And let's revisit that first stack of Block #1. This only needs to be trimmed at the edges with the black strips. Careful stitching is required. The key is to match those horizontal strips when you add the center strip!
Block #1 before trimming the excess black strips.
I stitched 16 blocks into four horizontal rows, but haven't finished the stitching (as you can see). Since I only have fat quarters, I'm going make a pieced border using the remainder of the fat quarters. But I thought you might like to see what I have so far. These blocks finish to 10", so the center will be 40" x 40".

Bad lighting in my sewing studio. When I add the borders, I'll go outside and get a better pic. But here she is!

16 blocks in four rows of four
Take a visit to the Michael Miller Fabrics site to see these glorious Tropical Batiks up close. They truly are splendid.

You can find my pattern for Stained Glass Pickup Sticks at my Etsy shop, too!

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Coffee Cups for Chilly Weather

My husband and I went to lunch at our friends' house on Sunday. I took a little housewarming gift. These were made in 2017 and were just waiting for that perfect occasion! Much of this blog post comes from when I stitched these in 2017. I thought you'd enjoy seeing it again.

Fabric isn't as exciting as seeing something sewn with it, right? You know I had that in mind when I received 8 fat quarters of Amanda Murphy's Winter Games.

8 fat quarters of Winter Games
I am revisiting a tried and true paper piecing pattern of mine called Coffee Cups. First, here's the original pattern as it appeared in the Kansas City Star in the 1930s:
Coffee Cups pattern using a lot of odd shaped templates
My pattern is for a 7" block. I created a freezer paper fussy cutting window to center my motifs in.

Freezer paper "window" to fussy cut my motifs
Here are two of motifs centered and ready to cut:

Fussy Cutting the skates and snow boards
 And an athlete, of course!

Fussy Cutting a snow boarder
I also cut an oversized square out of the hot cocoa mugs and began my paper piecing.

Cups of hot cocoa and coffee (and probably some tea, right?)
Here is the block finished:
7" foundation pieced coffee cup block
Now can we see some of the others? Here are the 3 blocks finished. I used my walking foot to stitch vertical lines (gray thread) and finished off with my quick and easy binding. I sew it on from the back and stitch it down by machine on the front.

Cocoa motif mug rug
 Gotta have skates!
Skates and snow boards mug rug
 And, an athlete!

Snow Boarder mug rug
And all three together. You can get this pattern at my Etsy store. There are a lot of pictures in color and the foundations are easy to print, with lots of helpful tips.

My set of 3 paper pieced mug rugs using the Winter Games Collection by Amanda Murphy
I also made these using some Kaffe Fassett prints. Wanna see? (Of course, you do)

Four paper pieced Coffee Cups using some large floral motifs
And I made several using an older Windham Fabrics collection called Mimosa:

Four Coffee Cup mug rugs
 And another one with a taste of orange!

Single Coffee Cup block
What? You don't drink coffee? That's ok. Tea is good. Chocolate milk, hot cocoa. And they are great to have on hand for a quick gift for someone special. Check out my Paper Pieced Coffee Cups pattern (6 pages in pdf) at my Etsy store.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Oak Leaf and Rose Wreath Quilt

I honestly don't think I have shared this quilt here before, yet it's one of my favorites. I made it at the end of 1996 and it was published in Quilt Magazine in 1997. My inspiration came from two vintage blocks: Oak Leaf and Rose Wreath!

Oak Leaf and Rose Wreath: 51" x 51"
A red and green quilt is a timeless color combination. The blocks are 14" square. I actually started this as a hand appliqué project and not too long into the first block, I threw the whole thing in the trash can and grabbed my fusible webbing and happily stitched the whole thing by machine using raw edge methods. I didn't like hand appliqué and haven't done it since.

Don't be shocked! To each his/her own.

Here is the Oak Leaf Block. The pattern calls for two.

Oak Leaf Block
 And the Rose Wreath (also, needing two):

Rose Wreath Block
Here's a flat shot of the quilt as it hung in a display of my quilts at a private club years ago:

Oak Leaf and Rose Wreath
That swag border is 7" wide. That was the first - and last - time I made this intricate (and very traditional) border! This is not a quilt you can make in a day, or even in a week (unless you have nothing else to do). But sometimes we get the urge to make something this lovely and enjoy every single moment. I certainly did!

You can find this pattern in my Etsy shop. You may find that you have other ideas for arranging the blocks or for making this larger. I hope you enjoyed my little stroll down memory lane!

Monday, October 14, 2019

Michael Miller Mondays with Festival of Lights (again)

Last November I made a sweet quilt using the Festival of Lights fabrics by Michael Miller. But I didn't get around to quilting it until this weekend. What do you think? I even put a rod pocket on the back so that it can hang in a special someone's home.

Festival of Lights: 32" x 32"
I have shared the paper pieced Dreidel block several times. It's easy and has been published multiple times. I used it to make some gift bags. You can see how I pieced it and get the free pattern here: Paper Pieced Dreidel.


Let's see the one using the Fairy Frost and Festival of Lights fabrics:

6" Paper Pieced Dreidel block
I was thrilled to discover that I could replenish my Hanukkah fabric stash using this collection. Here's a pic of them (along with selected Fairy Frost) before I started cutting.

Festival of Lights fabrics along with some Fairy Frost
I am going on to another project using these same fabrics. I needed more white Fairy Frost fabric and Michael Miller is sending that. But I was able to squeeze 6 blocks from what I have. Here's a sneak peek at the parts of my Starfish Blocks.

6 Blocks using my Starfish pattern
I have more of the blue and golds and reds. I will piece until I run out of fabric (that's usually how I work). This will be one more Hanukkah quilt.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

My Columbus Day quilt

I like Columbus Day. I'm half Italian and one of my sons in law is from Spain. A quick historic recap: Christopher Columbus was Italian and got his funding from the Queen of Spain so he could come over to America and "discover" us. No politics discussed on this blog; only quilts, a universal, happy language!

Here is my Columbus Day Quilt made in 1992 (that's 27 years ago!)

The Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria
Jinny Beyer created this collection to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the "discovery" of America by Christopher Columbus.

What a beautiful mariner's compass - as only Jinny Beyer could draft!

I remember buying the fabric, in fact! I still have a small piece SOMEWHERE in my messy stash. I used a pattern from a Quilting Today magazine (now defunct) exactly as it was presented. I hand quilted the little quilt and bring it out every year around October 12th.

(I just stopped and checked in my messy stash and found the leftover fabric!)

Monday is a holiday here in the States, though some people scorn Columbus. Revisionist history and all that. But when I was in school, we always observed October 12 as the holiday.

I just got finished reading the newspaper (hard copy, Washington Post) and every page there's an ad for Columbus Day Sales. What I want to know is are there any Columbus Day sales in quilt shops? Now, that's a sale we quilters could enjoy, right?

Friday, October 11, 2019

The Memory Bouquet Quilt and a Giveaway

I have two winners: Shoshana from Israel (my international visitor gets the digital copy) and Brenda A. from Florida (who gets the CD and the lovely block). Many thanks to all who commented! The Memory Bouquet quilt has been blushing from all the praise.

I fell in love with the Kansas City Quilt Patterns about 20 years ago and decided to draft as many of them as I could. I DID get permission from the Star do go about doing this, first in partnership with Quilt Pro (the quilt design software company) and then for me to independently publish various series.

The Star began offering a quilt block per week, beginning in 1928 and continued until 1961. There were well over 1,000! The various series are what I'd like to feature here, beginning with The Memory Bouquet.

Memory Bouquet: 63" x 63"
The blocks are 9" x 12". I still own this quilt and my dear quilt friends from Atlanta helped me sew the blocks. I compiled all the blocks and ALL the historic information as it appeared in the Kansas City Star in 1930 (it launched on October 13). These were designed by Eveline Foland.

Here is one of the blocks: Lily of the Valley

Lily of the Valley
Here are a few of the blocks as you will see them in the pattern:
12 of the 20 Memory Bouquet Blocks

Here is a single block that I found in my stash - Lily of the Valley, hand appliquéd! This is a giveaway if you stay with me a little longer. This block is about 12" square (unfinished). Would you like to win this? Along with a copy of the Memory Bouquet CD?

Lily of the Valley block
 And up close:
Lily of the Valley up close
My CD has been a good seller since 2003! It contains the back story from the Kansas City Star, 20 blocks in full size, printable form. I include some extra helps (how to work with freezer paper for appliqué). And, of course, the directions for making the quilt, along with the original appliquéd border. There's a lot packed into that CD which runs from any web browser, with printable PDF pages. You can print and mail in your order form from my website: Memory Bouquet CD.

You can also order the digital format from my Etsy shop in a 46 page continuous pdf!

Now, back to the giveaway. Leave me a comment about this post and I will select a winner who will receive a copy of the CD and this lovely little Lily of the Valley block. Contest is over Wednesday, October 16 at midnight. US addresses only for the CD and block.

International visitors are welcome to comment and you will win the digital version of the pattern! Make sure I have your email and tell me your country!

Monday, October 7, 2019

Michael Miller Monday with Hexagons

Some people groan when they hear the word "Monday." But, if you have beautiful fabrics in your hand, you can hand-le anything!

I'm going to show you not one, but TWO fabric collections today and how they work so nicely together. Gingham Play and Cotton Couture are new fabrics by Michael Miller.

Here are just the Gingham Play fabrics. I am partial to bright colors!

Gingham Play
And the newest colors in Cotton Couture. They are NOT bright colors, so I had to use my quilter's smarts to combine them with the brights above.

Cotton Couture
I pulled several ginghams and solids that were as close in color as I could. I have a plan (yes, I do!)

Ginghams and Solids playing nicely together
I decided to make some large English Paper Pieced (EPP) blocks based on a pattern I created for my first book (Bold, Black and Beautiful, AQS 2004). I pulled out my 2" paper hexagons and selected my first two colors.

As you may know, hexagons used in EPP are measured from POINT TO POINT along the sides. In this case, a 2" hexagon measures 2" from point to point! But my cutting of the fabric takes its cues from how I cut hexagons for machine stitching.

Here you have a 2" hexagon paper which measures almost 3-1/2" in height. If I was rotary cutting for machine piecing (to allow 1/4" seams all around) I would cut a 4" strip: this is the MAGIC number. (1/4" seams allowed for each side). But, because I do NOT like only 1/4" fold-over seams in EPP (I like 3/8"), I added 1", for a 4-1/4" strip of fabric.

Measuring the HEIGHT of my hexagon
My fabric hexagon will finish to that 3-1/2" height. I cut a strip 3-1/2" plus seams (two x 3/8" = 3/4"). That means 4-1/4". But I want to work with a "normal" number; I bump it up to 4-1/2".

Now the real magic happens! Fold the 4-1/2" strip in half lengthwise, with the fold at the bottom and the raw edges at the top. Align your 60 degree, multi-sized ruler as shown (you have one, right?). This needs to be a blunt tipped ruler, because the markings are different. I'm looking for the 2" horizontal line on the ruler which represents half the finished height of 4-1/2". Cut on both sides as shown below.

Cut on both sides of the ruler
Here is the folded hexagon:


Open up and you have a perfect hexagon using only TWO cuts (and not 6)


Yes, this gives me a bit more seam allowance on the back, but better more than less.

Pinned paper hexagon with fabric hexagon
And stitched:
Pinned, stitched and ready for the next one.
I have 5 sets of these hexies cut out from Gingham Play and Cotton Couture and ready to stitch. I pulled threads to match.
Auditioning thread
All my greens ready for the next step. 

Gingham Play and Cotton Couture hexagons
Now, can we see the back? As you can see from the picture below, I do NOT use glue and I do NOT stitch thru the paper (as in the traditional method of EPP). I capture the corner folds. The basting stitches stay in and keep the seams from "flapping" around when I pull out the papers. Not stitching through the papers does NOT weaken the integrity of the papers so I can reuse them multiple times. But, whatever your method, go for it!

Two hexies stitched
And even more stitching from the wrong side. Yes, I have tiny stitches. But you should see my first hexies 20 years ago! Yikes!
More stitching up close
Let's talk a little about how to figure out cutting fabric for other sizes of hexagons. This is not an exact science. Here is a little chart for some of the most popular sizes. I always suggest practicing on construction or scrap paper before committing to fabric!

For 1" hexagons:

  • The height is 1-3/4"
  • I add 3/4" for seams (two x 3/8")
  • Cut a strip 2-1/2" x wof
  • Use the 1" ruler line at the top of the folded fabric (at the raw edges)
  • Cut on both sides and you have a fabric hexie with enough fabric for fold over

For 1-1/2" hexagons:

  • The height is a little more than 2" (let's call it 2-1/4")
  • I add for seams
  • Cut a strip 3-1/2" x wof
  • Use the 1-1/2" ruler line at the top of the folded fabric (at the raw edges)
  • Cut on both sides and you have a fabric hexie with enough fabric for fold over
Now let's see my progress!

Grandmother's Flower Garden variation
And from the back before taking out the papers (which I will reuse):

Back of GFG
Then I went on to the lovely lavender.

Lavender Gingham Play and Cotton Couture
And my finished block:
Lavender GFG block
As you can see, I couldn't get to all the blocks. The yellow one is almost finished. This was a great take along project as I was teaching 5 classes for the Sewing Expo Thursday thru Saturday and I stitched a lot in my hotel room (yes, you can see that hotel bedspread and desk!)

I'll keep you posted on my progress, but to not keep you in suspense, here are the two quilts I've made using this pattern, so you know where I'm going.

Grandma's Night Garden from my 2004 book
And one I made from all my class samples from a few years. This is how I will stitch the blocks to a background rectangle:


And I put four blocks together and didn't like the negative space in the middle. So, I appliquéd one more block over that center. This is why I am making 5 blocks!

This is my plan for the five blocks using Gingham Play and Cotton Couture
Take a visit to the Michael Miller website to see these lovely collections. And go do some experimenting with construction paper and your multi-sized 60 degree ruler to simplify the cutting of
your fabric hexagons. This is really only a GUIDE. You may tweak this a bit to work for you.

Thanks for stopping by!