Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Oakshott Challenge on Sew Mama Sew today!


Just a reminder that I'm on Sew Mama Sew today as the last Oakshott Fabrics Challenger this fall. I made a Star Within Table Runner; it's made up of an original block using half square triangles (HSTs) and half rectangle triangles (HRTs), plus improv scrap piecing. You can find the block tutorial and original post here.

The back was pieced with scraps and improv curves. Some of my favorite things. :)

Thanks again to Oakshott and Sew Mama Sew for a chance to participate and work with these lovely fabrics! Don't forget to visit the other challengers:

Mary Claire King of Remember Wren
Michelle White of Falafel and the Bee
Nicole Neblett of mama love quilts
Sara Peterson of knottygnome crafts 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

To Teach, Part 2 + Class News

Last week I taught the second of 2 classes of Orange Peels and Improv at my LQS, Pennington Quilt Works (see part 1 of my class here). My 8 students (a full class!!) are making quilts based on my baby quilt, Scatter. I seriously can't wait to share pictures of their tops/finishes with you in the future (with their permission, of course)!

 Robin got a head start with her layout!

First, I explained the basics of improv piecing and how I pieced my quilt together. The method I like to use is "planned"improv sewing. I gave my students a bunch of ideas to try and methods to use, and they were off making! I took a few pictures of their progress throughout the night:

I'm happy to announce I'll be teaching a modified version of this class at Mid Atlantic Mod Sewing Retreat in Lancaster, PA, from April 23-26!!! Registration opens for sponsoring Modern Quilt Guilds on Nov. 1, and general registration opens mid-November. You can sign up for the workshop when you register - all workshop info is here.

In addition, due to popularity, this two session class will also be running again early next year at Pennington Quilt Works! Stay tuned for dates if you are in the NJ/PA/NY/DE area. :)

Meanwhile, my second orange peel top is still progressing... I hope to have the top done by the weekend. Improv piecing can be super time consuming but also quite freeing. I'll just keep chugging along... for the first time in forever (cue Frozen music), I'm pouring my heart and soul into just one project. And it feels good.

Friday, October 24, 2014

For Baby Kevin: A Finished Quilt

Woohoo to Friday finishes! This quilt is for my wonderful neighbors and their new baby boy. One of my first baby quilts went to their second daughter! Crazy! I tested the Sunset Strips pattern by Brenda Ratliff of Pink Castle Fabrics (it's coming soon!). I wanted the quilt to showcase the prints, so I left out the sashing in between rows. The quilt measures 36" x 41" but the pattern allows for all kinds of sizes and customization.

The (now) mother of three loves green; I hoped this color scheme would be a welcome addition to the baby decor. While the print placement might look random, they were actually planned out - there's a method behind the madness. :) I was inspired by Brenda's layout in the pattern and decided to keep light greens and blues on the outside with medium greens in the middle. This created a staircase-like pattern.

However, I felt like it needed to be a bit bigger when all was said and done (and I didn't want to make more blocks ----> lazy quilter) so I cut borders that vary slightly (one is a solid and the other is a Timeless Treasures Sketch print). I also rarely use borders on my quilts but they seemed to work here!

Many of the prints I used are unintentionally forest-themed. The back is made of scraps and some perfectly matching stripey yardage from my stash. Don't you love when that happens?

This quilt was begging for straight line quilting! By the end, though, I was itching to get out my FMQ foot for the borders. I recently tried out this fun design on a baby quilt - it's fast, easy, and effective. Is it just me, or is FMQ faster? I guess it depends what you are doing. I often find straight line quilting tedious.

Either way, I gave the quilt away today and all loved it! Just as I hoped. Another baby quilt for another beautiful baby!

Blogger's Quilt Festival: Scatter

For my first Blogger's Quilt Festival entry (in the Original Design category), I'm sharing one of my favorite projects from this year: Scatter, my first orange peel and improvisationally pieced quilt! I wanted to make a modern orange peel quilt, and I decided to experiment with scattered peels. It came out exactly as I hoped it would!

I originally created this quilt for a dear neighbor back in June. I was going to give it to her if she had a girl. Then, Jan, the owner of my LQS, Pennington Quilt Works, liked it so much that she asked me to teach a class. It hung in the store for a couple of months (!) and now that the class is over, it's back in my clutches. But my neighbor just had a boy, so I made a whole other quilt ;) (to be posted shortly!). It's just as well because I'm not ready to give Scatter away.

In my class, I discussed my design process and encouraged my students to "let it go" as they pieced. We learned and practiced methods for improv piecing - it doesn't have to be a "free for all!"

 I sketched my vision for the quilt at the very beginning: I wanted to feature Anna Maria Horner's Pretty Potent fabrics in a rainbow burst from the middle of the quilt. I included just one "full" orange peel at the very bottom on purpose. Finally, I pieced a couple of gray scraps into each panel before I sewed the whole thing together; looking back, that's my favorite part!

This quilt was witness to many "firsts" for me and I've been working on another for my mom with different-sized peels. Scatter definitely sucked up part of my soul, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

 I backed and bound it with one of my favorite prints from Anna Maria Horner's Dowry and quilted with my free motion foot all over (changing up the design at my leisure). I also quilted one full ghost peel in the middle, which you can see here! This picture makes me super happy. :)

Thank you for all of your support and encouragement this year through the Orange Peel QAL and my very first class! I'm happy to say that I'll be teaching another section of the class at Pennington Quilt Works early next year, so stay tuned for those dates!

Quilt Stats:
Size: 44" x 55"
Pieced and quilted by me on my home machine
 Original post here

Make sure to check out Amy's lovely Blogger's Quilt Festival - eye-candy for the quilty soul!

 photo Fall-2014-BQF-Button.jpg

My past Blogger's Quilt Festival entries:

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

WIP Wednesday

I'm playing with scraps tonight! Since Monday night was the second and last session of my Orange Peels and Improv class (more about that soon!), I'm inspired to keep working on and soon finish my second orange peel quilt. This one was requested by my mom for the master bedroom, and it will be backed in some lovely Anna Maria Horner flannel. I haven't shared much of this quilt yet. It combines large peels with normal-sized peels... and now very teeny peels!

The baby ones run about 2.5" from tip to tip. I'm hoping they won't get lost in the overall scheme of this (queen sized ridiculously large) quilt but that they'll be a small, fun detail. I haven't laid them down on the carpet yet.

To be continued...

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Cascade Fabric Blog Hop: Gentle Improv Waves Pillow Tutorial and Giveaway

 *The giveaway is now closed and the winner has been contacted. Thanks to all who entered!*

Jessica Levitt is one of my best quilty friends in real life. I don't know how I got so lucky! She's amazing and she's my CJMQG partner in crime (basically, when you say "Jess?" one of us will answer). When I found out about her new fabric collection with Windham, Cascade, I knew I wanted to be involved somehow! You can see the whole collection here on Windham's website, and the official Cascade Look Book here (I'm on page 13!).

The colors are a departure from my customary bright/saturated fabric choices, but I love the calmness they exude and the art deco theme that Jess has infused into her work. These fabrics are perfect for home decor, and with that in mind, I decide to make a pillow (which is now going to Quilt Market - *hyperventilates*). The motifs and the name "Cascade" got me thinking about flowing water, which led me to improvisational curves. Plus, I wrote a tutorial! How's that for two in one week

Gentle Improv Waves Pillow Tutorial 
18.25" x 18.25" (fits 18" pillow form)

The first thing you have to do before you make improv waves is "let it go." Really. Let go all of your hopes that everything will be exact (it won't). That's why it's called improv! Your curves will be hand drawn and it will all be okay (promise). Personally, I love the unpredictability and uniqueness of projects like this. As my girl Elsa would say:

- (16) 5.5" squares of background fabric (choose 8 different fabrics - 2 of each)
-(16) 1.5" x 9.5" contrasting strips (these are the "waves")
-Rotary cutter (a small one worked best for running along the curves but you could use a larger one slowly)
-Sewing machine, thread, scissors
-Iron, ironing board

*Please note - measurements are bigger to allow for lots of leeway when trimming fabrics later.
*As you can see, very little fabric overall is needed. This project is fat eighth friendly and you could use the leftovers for other strips or the back of the pillow! 
*I suggest making a test block with muslin or "ugly" fabric before you use your best fabric.

1. Lay out your background squares. Choose strips for the waves that contrast with their backgrounds. Your layout options are endless! That's one part of this project that makes it so fun.

I've written this tutorial to accommodate for directional fabrics, such as these gorgeous Cascade prints. If your prints could go in either direction, just follow the same steps without regard to flipping (see below).

2. On top, you'll see a finished group of two improv curves, sewn together to allow the raindrops to fall in the same way. To achieve this, you must line up your fabrics (one right side up, one upside down) like the squares below these.

3. Flip them over to the wrong side and hand draw curves from the top rights to the bottom lefts. If your curve becomes too big or wavy, just erase and fix (that's why we use pencil. :) ). I found it easiest to draw from the bottom to top. You could also use a Hera marker if you go really slowly and don't intend to change your curves. Again, please don't worry that they aren't exactly the same! That's the point!

4. Follow along the lines to cut the pieces in half, using a small rotary cutter and ruler to guide you. Go slowly! A sharp rotary blade will help immensely.


5. Now, flip them right sides up. Your squares should look like this.

6. Take your contrasting strips (the waves) and lay them out. If your strips need to lay in the same direction, lay them as I have below (both going the same way).

7. Take the larger piece of background first and sew the strip to this piece. You can choose to use pins but I don't like the extra step! In order to do this, you'll first flip the strip over so the pieces are right sides together.

Before you sew - line up the strip so that it sits a bit more than .25" from the end of the background piece. This will ensure that you'll have a large enough block when you are finished.

Then, set your machine to a small-medium stitch length (I used 2.6"). Basically, you're going to gradually shifting the fabrics so that they lay on top of each other. Sew slowly and stop and start frequently to pivot the fabric/lift up your presser foot. I love having a knee lift for this project because I don't have to take my hands off of my projects.

If you have never sewn curves without pins, I suggest you watch Leanne's fantastic tutorial. Once you get the hang of it, it is fun! You may want to use a tweezer to guide the strip when you get towards the end, as Leanne suggests.

Yes, your curve is not going to look smooth right now - it's okay! We're going to press soon!

Follow the same steps to sew the smaller background piece on. This time I'm sewing on top of that piece instead of the strip. Make sure your prints line up direction-wise.

8. Press towards the middle.

9. Repeat curved sewing and pressing for your other block. Now they look funky and you'll trim them down to 5" squares.

I took one side at a time and kept flipping the block around. I used a larger rotary cutter for this, though you don't have to.

10. Admire your improv blocks! Again, the curves will NOT be exactly the same. I realize I have a bit of a pucker in the left block - you want to avoid that! I gave all my blocks another good press from the top when all was said and done.

11. Lay out your blocks again and sew the 4 rows together.

12. Press these seams to the side and alternate rows (one to the left, one to the right, etc.) This ensures that the seams will nest, like below:

13. Now you can sew the rows to each other. Place a pin at the seam intersections/where they nest.

Sew slowly - there are many seams!

Look how the 5" squares line up when you nest seams! Love it!

Your top should come out to 18.5" x 18.5".

 To make the envelope pillow back:
Cut two pieces of fabric 11" x 18.5" and 13.5" x 18.5." The larger one will be on top of your pillow back. Make sure if they are directional prints that you lay them out first to ensure they face the right way!

Fold the bottom of the top piece over twice at a quarter of an inch, press, and sew along the edge. Do the same for the top of the bottom piece. This way, you will encase the raw edges in a "hem."

To make the pillow:
Place the front of the pillow face up. Place the longer part of the back face down, then the smaller part face down (they will overlap). Pin all the way around and sew 1/4" from the edge. I like to back stitch where the overlaps are for increased security.

Flip the pillow right sides out, stuff in an 18" pillow form, and you are done! I hope you enjoyed the tutorial, and if you make these improv blocks or the pillow, I'd love to see!



Thanks Jess for making me a part of your blog hop! Cascade will be shipping early 2015. If you'd like to get your hands on some now, Windham is generously giving away a fat quarter bundle of the whole line to one of my readers! To win, please tell me about the "coolest" water you've ever seen or would like to see (pictures count). Mine was when I snorkeled in the Caribbean - I couldn't get over the clear, calm, blue water!

My followers on here or Instagram get a second chance - just tell me how you follow and post a second comment. This giveaway is open to anyone in the world until Oct. 23 at 8pm EST.

Be sure to check out the other blog hop stops:
Monday October 13th - Jessica Levitt - Juicy Bits / Windham Fabrics
Tuesday October 14th - Julie Herman - Jaybird Quilts / Jenn Nevitt -knit ’n lit
Wednesday October 15th - Amanda Kattner - What the Bobbin / Andy Knowlton - a bright corner
Thursday October 16th - Marci Debataz - Marci Girl Designs / Jennifer Auh Chon - Sunny in Cal
Friday October 17th - Angela Walters - Quilting is my Therapy / Rachel Gander - Imagine Gnats
Saturday October 18th - Elizabeth Timmons - and pins / Andrea Taddicken - knitty bitties
Sunday October 19th - Erin Erickson - Dog Under my Desk / Jessica Skultety - Quilty Habit
Monday October 20th  - Caroline Press - Trillium Design / Karin Jordan - Leigh Laurel Studios


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