Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Apples to Oranges

Who doesn't love finding a good use for scraps? My latest project on the Moda Bake Shop is an apple core quilt using The Good Life, Bonnie and Camille yummy new fabric line. It was a fun project, but one that resulted in some decidedly non-rectangular scraps.

I quickly realized these scraps left over from the fabric between each apple core shape would be perfect for orange peels, one of my favorite quilt blocks to make. I wrote up a mini quilt pattern that uses these yummy scraps, called Freshly Peeled. It's a fun, quick little project that can be made using scraps or any small bits of fabric you have in your stash. If you haven't tried machine applique, this project would be a great introduction to the technique!

You can download both the apple core pattern and the mini quilt pattern for free! Check out the Moda Bake Shop for the apple core quilt and Craftsy for the mini orange peel pattern.

Just because it makes me happy to share pretty things, I'm giving away this sweet little mini quilt. To enter, share some thoughts on mini quilts in the comments. Have you made one? Do you enjoy creating smaller projects? I'll pick a winner on the 7th of September.

Happy sewing, everyone!

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Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Solid Love

I love working with solids. The range of colors available is awe-inspiring. It's almost unreal how many variations of a single color we have to choose from.

Both Moda and Kaufman have sample cards available with the full line of solids available. Kaufman even has a panel of fabric available! While one of these would be awesome, I prefer to put those funds towards other fabric purchases and came up with a quick and easy DIY swatch system.

Each time I use a solid, I staple a swatch to an index card and file it in a coupon holder. Nothing fancy, but it allows me to easily match up colors, see the different shades I've used in the past, and make choices for future quilts.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Hashtag Awesome!

This might be the summer of Instagram for me. I've had an Instagram account for a few years, but didn't do much with it for a long time. I friended a few folks, looked at some nice pictures, and that was pretty much it. This year, however, I discovered the vibrant quilting community that exists on the social media site, and it is now a much bigger part of my social media life.

My big turning point was participating in Amy Ellis's Instagram Quiltfest (#IGquiltfest) earlier this year. The daily prompts were so much fun and encouraged me to post more and seek out other quilters. From there, I quickly found a plethora of quilt-alongs, fabric swaps, mini-quilt exchanges, and contests.

It wasn't long before I was deep in the world of swapping. There are ample opportunities to swap both fabric (charm squares are a popular size) and finished items, such as mini quilts. I just received three fun packages this week (#happymail, in Instagram parlance), each a different type of swap.

The first was text print charm squares (#textycharmswap), in which I sent a set number of identical charm squares of a given text print and received the same number back of different text printsso much fun! The variety was amazing!


One of my blocks for the Sweetwater Swap
I love the fun fabric the ladies of Sweetwater design and was excited to participate in a Sweetwater block swap (#swjulystarswap). For this one, each participant made blocks following the same pattern and using only Sweetwater fabric. We sent the blocks to our generous and patient hostess and received back different blocks. I loved seeing fabric from older, out of print lines I hadn't seen in person. I made a few different blocks, and made an extra of each style for myself, so I now have enough blocks for a pretty sweet quilt! Not only is it fun to work on my own project, but I love seeing the other quilts from the swap come together. There were so many different blocks, I think each swapper received a unique package!

The third package was a finished item, a mini-quilt, that was exchanged through a paper piecing themed swap (#fortheloveoffppswap). So much fun! I truly had as much fun making a quilt to swap as I did receiving a surprise package. Quilters are such a generous lot, and my swap buddy included some fun little extras. What a treat to get a fun package in the mail!

Instagram has a truly vibrant quilting community. It is such a joy to be a part of such warmth and creativity. If you are not already on the site, check it out!

Monday, May 22, 2017

Straight Line Quilting

I've talked about straight line quilting before here on the blog. It's an easy, modern quilting choice and it adds a lovely texture to the quilt, especially when the lines are spaced closely together. It’s a great choice for those new to machine quilting or those looking for a quick quilting option. It doesn’t require maneuvering the quilt too much (you can just roll it up as you go), minimizing those quilt tug-of-wars.

I find it easiest to use the edge of the walking foot as a guide. I have guide bars that can be added to my walking foot and I'll often mark quilts, but nothing beats the ease of simply lining up the edge of your walking foot with a seam or a quilted line. When quilting my Bowties quilt, I wanted the lines spaced a half inch apart. Neither the edge of the walking foot nor the notch marking a quarter inch helped much, and I wished the edge of my walking foot was just a smidge further away from the needle. Then, it hit me—my needle can move! A-ha! I shifted my needle over to the right a bit, allowing me to line up the edge of the walking foot with the seam in the quilt for precise half inch quilting lines. Awesome!

Some disclaimers—make sure your needle will not strike your walking foot. Broken needles are no one’s friend! And be sure to return the needle to the center position before moving on to another sewing task. You need that quarter inch seam to be precise!

Happy sewing!

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Tumbling Along: All About Tumblers

I love the striking simplicity of one shape quilts. My latest project for the Moda Bakeshop is a tumbler quilt with a twist. I call it Bowties, and it’s made using solids.

All tumbler quilts are made from a symmetric trapezoid shape, but did you know there is no set measurement for the angles of the shape? Tumblers can be tall and skinny, short and squat, or anything in between. There are rulers specifically for tumblers on the market, and you can also use triangle rulers or Dresden plate rulers. I chose to use a 30-degree ruler for Bowties so the shape of the bowties would be nice and perky.

Tumbler quilts have a long history in the quilting world. This beauty dates to the 1800s and tumblers were particularly fashionable in the 1930s and 1940s.

Though a little tricky at first, tumbler quilts are easy to put together once you get the hang of lining up the pieces. You don’t want to sew the edges point to point; rather, you want a little overhang on each side so that the ¼” stitching line crosses precisely where the two fabrics meet. When pinning two pieces together, offset the edges just enough so that the quarter inch stitching line will intersect the two pieces. Picture the edges of the fabrics as making an X. You want your stitching line to go right through the center of the X.

There are lots of variations when working with tumblers. They are traditionally set in rows, but you can set them in columns, as I did, for a different look. You can make a lantern-type shape by using the same fabric for two tumblers, one right on top of the other. Even the popular half hexie quilt is really just a short, squat tumbler quilt! 

Have you ever made a tumbler quilt?

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Made With Love

Like many quilters, I gift a lot of my quilts. It truly brings me joy to give a handmade quilt someone I care about. I especially like making baby quilts to welcome little ones. Babies need snuggles!

Recipients of my quilts commonly ask me about washing instructions. I know some people write this information right on the quilt label, but I am not much of a labeler (I know, I know! I need to work on this!). I recently printed a bunch of business cards with washing instructions to tuck into the quilts I gift. Easy and inexpensive! You can easily print your own using a business card template available on any number of printing sites.

I ordered a lot of these cards, more than I need! I'd love to send ten cards to two different readers. Simply follow the prompts on the Rafflecopter widget below. Happy sewing, everyone!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Charm School: Book Review

I love charm packs. I’ll often pick up one or two of these yummy fabric treats as a little indulgence for myself. Vanessa Goertzen of Lella Boutique is one of my favorite fabric designers, and I have more than a couple charm packs by this talented woman in my stash! Her new book, Charm School—18 Quilts from 5” Squares: A Beginner’s Guide, features projects using charm squares. The quilts are luscious and beautifully photographed and I wanted to dive right into a few of them!

The book is geared towards beginners and would be a great way for someone new to quilting to progress from sewing squares to more complex shapes. Though none of the projects are overly complicated, several are far from simple and would appeal to more advanced quilters. My favorite is Lunch Box with its controlled wonkiness. Madame Butterfly is another standout that will certainly appeal to quilters of all levels.

Though the patterns are designed to be used with charm packs, I love that Goertzen gave instructions for using other cuts of fabric, allowing readers to make the best use of their stashes. The instructions clearly explain how many cuts you need so you could even mix and match charm packs with other sizes of fabric.

My only critique is that I would have liked to see one or two projects that require just one charm pack. I don’t always buy multiples of charm packs, and a wall hanging or mini-quilt that used a single charm pack would have been a good addition, as most projects in the book require three or four charm packs.

Charm School would make a great addition to any quilter’s library, especially if you love precuts as much as I do!