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

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

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Sew Mama Sew Oakshott Challenge Table Runner + Star Within Block Tutorial

I'm ecstatic to participate in one of Sew Mama Sew's Oakshott Challenges! Our challenge was to create table linens with the new Lakes collection of Oakshott shot cottons. I couldn't believe all of the shimmery wonderfullness that fell out of the mail mid-September!

Shot cottons change colors in the light - you have to see it to really believe it. I love these Oakshott fabrics because they are a bit thicker and easier to work with than quilting cotton (in my opinion). Plus, they have more dimensionality than regular solid quilting cotton. So, so pretty. Plus, these colors were my favorites - purples to pinks to a wide range of blues. Mmm.

I decided that a table runner would show off the fabrics beautifully. I've had this block design in my sketchbook for a while - it combines half-square triangles (HSTs) with half-rectangle triangles (HRTs). It's a traditional block (I haven't found a name for it, so I'm calling it my creation at the moment), and you can easily merge with modern elements as I have with this tablerunner (I added randomly sized scraps to the sides). See below for the block tutorial!

The quilting was more planned out than usual - I used my Hera marker to make radiating stars. I decided to quilt the scrappy ends with wonky/organic lines to give off a more modern vibe. Again, I used my trusty Aurifil light gray thread (I'm not sure exactly which color because I switch between several).

For the back of the table runner, I pieced together my blue and teal scraps to make some improvisational curves In case you didn't already notice, I love to make quilts double-sided so they serve a double purpose. Now I have the same opportunity with this table runner. I see myself using this side in the summer! You can see from the above picture to the one below how the Oakshott colors change depending on the light and where you stand in the room. Seriously amazing! Oh, and I love how the quilting from the front made hexagons on the back. :)

Make sure you check out Sew Mama Sew the week of October 22-25 to see the challenge highlights and enter to win Oakshott fabric! Until then, you can check out the other sewists who have whipped up some surely beauteous Oakshott projects:

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

Thanks to Sew Mama Sew and Oakshott for the chance to work on this project!

Ready for the tutorial? Please let me know if you make something with this block - I'd love to see! :)

Star Within Block - 14" block
All seam allowances - quarter inch
Please read all directions before starting! 

*I used fat eighths of several Oakshott fabrics to make these blocks, and had much left over for the ends of the tablerunner and the back. You could easily make these blocks with scraps, too!
  • (4) 3.5" x 5.75" rectangles of fabric for star (half rectangle triangles/HRTs) - light blue in tutorial

  • (4) 3.5" x 5.75" rectangles of contrasting fabric for star (half rectangle triangles/HRTs)
  • (2) 5.875" (7/8th) squares - fabric for surrounding half square triangles (HSTs)
  • (2) 5.875" (7/8th) squares - constrasting fabric for surrounding half square triangles (HSTs) 

  • (1) 5" square for middle strip (matches with HRTs) - light blue in tutorial

  • 1" x 5" strip of contrasting fabric for middle of star (OPTIONAL - see below)

  • Hera marker or some kind of marker for fabric

  • Rotary cutter and ruler
  • Sewing machine
 ^All the necessary fabric requirements. They just shimmer!

To make the outer HSTs (half square triangles):
Pin your 5 7/8ths squares right sides together (1 color with the other). Draw a line with your Hera marker down the centers. I used a Hera marker for two reasons: 1) It's easily my favorite fabric "marker" because 2) it doesn't leave marks when you are done. No ink to worry about. No stains. Just an indentation in the fabric. I'm not getting paid to say that or anything - I really just love this tool!

Sew a quarter inch from the line on either side (you can chain piece these if you wish). And yes, my sewing machine, Elsa, has swag.

Cut along the line with your rotary cutter.

Press to the side and trim to 5" square. Now you have 4 HSTs!

Note: You may want to cut your original squares to 6" or larger if you are working on accuracy. If you are pretty confident about your HST-making abilities, the set amount is perfect.
To make the inner HRTs (half rectangle triangles):

These are much the same process as HSTs. Read on...

 I found this tutorial by A Thousand Needles to be SO thorough and easy-to-follow that I'll just send you over there. I promise, if you haven't done them before, that they are simple! Just use my measurements instead, and follow these steps beforehand:

Match up 2 of your light blue star fabrics with 2 dark blue star fabrics (PILE 1). Do the same for the other 4 pieces of fabric (PILE 2). Pile 1 will be marked one way, according to the tutorial:

Pile 2 will be marked the other way:

You MUST make sure to do this or else your diagonals will all be the same direction! Follow the tutorial and trim to 2.75" x 5" when you are done. You should have 8 HRTs per block (4 of each diagonal).

To make the "middle strip" in the star center:
This part is optional, but I love the depth it gives to the block. Plus, you can alternate the way the line lies (horizontally or vertically) if you lay several of these blocks in a row as I did. 


Take your 5" square for the middle of the star (the light blue fabric here) and cut straight down middle at the 2.5" mark. Sew the 1 inch strip where you cut (it will come out to 1/2" wide after seam allowances). Press it to the sides (outwards towards square). Trim to 5". If you sewed and pressed accurately, it should come back out to a 5" square (no trimming necessarily). If you are practicing accuracy, cut a 5.5" square to start and then trim after sewing in the middle strip.

 ^An unpressed version of the middle 5" block finished.

Lay out all of your blocks. 

Sew the HRTs together first. Then, sew all three rows across separately. Press in opposite directions to nest seams. 

 Then sew all the rows together, and you have a beautiful block! 


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