Drafting, Part 1: Changing the Size of Pieced Quilt Blocks

If you have ever wanted to make a pieced quilt block in a different size than those that you are able to find in books or magazines, I think you will find this easy, step-by-step tutorial helpful. I suspect that there are still some of you out there who are not using computer software to design quilts. I’m a traditionalist who still enjoys designing with paper and pencil–the process is simple and can certainly open doors to many design possibilities.

Notice how well used Jinny Beyer's book is. It is a great reference with blocks organized by grid categories.
Notice how well used Jinny Beyer’s book is. It is a great reference with blocks organized by grid categories.

Since I will be teaching drafting in my Craftsy class in March, I wanted to expand on the lesson here and share another block.

Here are the tools you will need:

  • 8- squares-to-the inch graph paper
  • Pencil and eraser
  • Drafting ruler (thinner than the rulers we use for cutting fabric)
  • Optional, depending on design: compass, protractor, Flex-Curve, fine-line permanent pens in a variety of colors

To begin, you will need to select a pieced quilt block pattern–mine is the Farmer’s Daughter block.

Notice that this pattern has five equal divisions, both horizontally and vertically.
Notice that this pattern has five equal divisions, both horizontally and vertically.

Pieced block patterns generally fall into one of the following grid categories. It is important to determine which category your chosen block falls into in order to draft it in another size.

Outline drawing of some of the most common grid categories.
Outline drawing of some of the most common grid categories.

I’ve decided to draft a 8-3/4″ finished Farmer’s Daughter block. From the diagram above, I can see that it falls into the Five-Patch Grid Category.

Step One: Mark an 8-3/4″ square onto the piece of graph paper. (Note: only finished sizes are used when drafting. Seam allowances are added later, when determining the cut sizes of the shapes.)

This is the finished outline of the block.
This is the finished outline of the block.

Step Two:  Mark the grid framework in order to fill in the shapes. In this case, the grid will be 5 squares across x 5 squares down. If your finished block size is not easily divisible by the grid size, here’s an easy way to mark the grid. First, make a note of the next number higher than the block size (in this case 8-3/4″) that is evenly divisible by the grid size. For my example here, the answer is 10.

Step Three: Place your drafting ruler, exactly as shown in the photo, holding the corner in the lower left-hand corner of the drafted square while swinging the ruler up on the right side until the 10″ marking touches the right-hand edge of the marked square.

Position your ruler exactly as shown. Then make small marks every 2" along the length of the ruler - 2", 4", 6" 8".
Position your ruler exactly as shown. Then make small marks every 2″ along the length of the ruler – 2″, 4″, 6″ 8″.

Mark lines onto the graph paper every 2″ along the length of the ruler:  2″, 4″, 6″ and 8″. Marks are made every 2″ since 10 divided be 5 = 2. These marks indicate where the grid lines will be drawn. In this case, every 1-3/4″.

Fill in the 5 x 5 grid onto the graph paper, as shown.
Fill in the 5 x 5 grid onto the graph paper, as shown.

Step Four:  The rest is easy. Fill in the shapes within the framework of the block. Refer to the diagram above to see the direction of the lines.

It is helpful to label the shapes with numbers to indicate cut sizes and letters to indicate fabric changes.
It is helpful to label the shapes with numbers to indicate cut sizes and letters to indicate fabric changes.

Step Five:  Determine the cutting chart for the block. Remember that the shapes you see on the drafted pattern are “finished sizes” and so you need to add the 1/4″ seam allowance around each shape in order to determine the cutting sizes. I like to include a cutting chart on my pattern for easy reference when cutting fabric for my block.

I hope this is helpful to you. I’d love to hear if any of you try this block-drafting method. Please check back in my Friday post for Part 2 where I’ll include some of the new blocks I am making for my Craftsy sampler quilt.

Many thanks to our readers who responded so enthusiastically to my Julie Silber post. The lucky winner of The Quilt Digest, Volume 1, donated by Julie, is Nancy Chrzanowski.

Happy designing everyone!

L1-Signature

Anatomy of a Wedding Quilt Part II

My brother-in-law's photo of the pink granite coast near Trébeurden in France. That would be a pretty byway to explore, n'est-ce pas?
My brother-in-law William’s photo of the pink granite coast near Trébeurden in France. I think that would be a pretty byway to explore after the wedding–n’est-ce pas?

As promised in my Tuesday post, here’s a look at my wedding quilt project from the perspective of commissioning the input of a long-arm machine quilter. In this case, I’ve found Marla Monson, a super-talented long-armer based in Northern California.  She’s contributed her talents to a number of quilts produced by my blogging sister Laura and her creative partner, Diana McClun.

Quilt-J:  "Simplicity" detail view by Marla Monson
Detail view of “Simplicity” by Marla Monson.

So, without further fussing, here’s what I think about when I decide to hire a pro to machine quilt.

Timing

I’ve gotten a big head start on the wedding quilt, but then, I’ve heirloom aspirations for the quilting . . . that requires an even longer time margin. Marla tells me 10 to 12 weeks for custom work is ideal. Typically, the quilter will slide in the customs between the quicker jobs because these special quilts could easily live on the long-arm machine for as long as a week to be sewn. For “show” season, allocate more time!

Narrowing down the design--a layout of staggered stars.
Narrowing down the design–a layout of staggered stars.

Style

Now style is a very interesting, multidimensional factor. I’ve got probably 5 to 10 machine quilters in my area I might commission, so how do I narrow my choice? Well, I mentally run through the abilities and aesthetics of each candidate.

Some just want to load up quilts and run pantographs or some computer-aided pattern. Many times that’s fine. We meet, select from her library of options, and await completion. Easy! Even in that universe there’s subtext to recognize: traditional v. modern, feathers v. floral v. geometry, etc. That’s actually how I make my selection. If I want someone who can do clean-lined modern, I know whom I want. If I want someone who is willing to change thread colors or do slight customization, then I select another one.  When I want easy, breezy flourishes and scrolls, I know exactly who to call.

Custom work is a whole other animal. Who can I work with to bring my mental picture to life? Can the quilter take my idea and make it better? What’s my past experience with this craftswoman? Marla says she’s cautious when she takes on a new client for a custom quilt. She wants more input at the front end, including the parameters of the commission and insight into the taste/style of the client. Ultimately, the endeavor is a creative partnership and so it’s very important to acknowledge what the quilter will add to the final look of the quilt. Her “voice” will shine through and make the quilt even better. It’s a collaboration after all!

Almost ready for Marla's special quilting!
Almost ready for Marla’s special quilting!

Cost

Convenient artistry comes at a price. Let’s be real here—costs vary across the country so it’s impossible to generalize. Clearly, an all-over design via computer or pantograph will be cheaper than a custom job. Lots of quilters have prices listed on their websites and the breakdown is usually some fraction of a dollar multiplied by the quilt’s total area. Quilter-supplied thread, backing, unusual prepping and/or repair, binding, and so forth incur additional charges.

Boy, I squeaked by here--12 square inches of backing fabric left over!
Boy, I squeaked by here–12 square inches of backing fabric left over!

Availability

This is where it’s helpful to have a couple of quilters on call. Not only do you have to factor in your own deadlines, your selected quilter might have a long queue of quilts awaiting completion. Then, there’s the closed client list to deal with—established quilters can pick and choose their customers. Mind you, this is not tantamount to getting a child on a preschool list, but it’s close. Sometimes, “last-minute Lulus” can persuade their special quilters to take on projects with light-speed turnarounds–bribes of chocolate or rare vintages help!

Here’s another point to consider—delivery & pickup. When the masterful Kathy Sandbach was with us and actively quilting, I would chat with her via telephone and then, blithely, mail her my quilt in full confidence that we were on the same page with the commission’s scope. These days, I have easier access to quilters so I typically meet up with them in their studios or at a local quilt shop to iron out the details. Marla and I met up in the sunny classroom of Wooden Gate Quilts so we could spread out the quilt and chat.

We covered a few of the questions that plague me as a consumer of quilting services.

Should I cut off the selvage before sewing the backing fabric together?

Yes! Do the snip and tear to remove the selvage. (I did and it worked!) Press the torn edges before sewing with a ½ inch seam. Press the seam open.

How much extra fabric do I need for the backing?

At least 5 inches on each side—don’t be stingy, but at the same time, don’t be too generous either. Five inches is a good guideline to follow even with variations among long-arm machines. Marla warns against asking the quilter to center a design on the quilt’s back. While it’s easy enough to center from side to side, it’s nearly impossible to do so from top to bottom. (Might as well avoid irritating the bejesus out of the quilter too.)

I like low contrast between the thread and the quilt top, which might mean changing thread color sometimes. Is that a problem?

Thread color changes might incur a higher cost. Make sure to point out the elements of the quilt’s design that want to emphasize—do you want the design to come forward or recede?

That’s it for now . . . I’m very excited to see what Marla decides to do! Of course, I’ll share photos when it’s done.

J-Signature

Anatomy of a Wedding Quilt Part I

Ahh, the chateaux of France. . . here's a pretty one photographed by my brother-in-law William.
Ahh, the chateaux of France. . . here’s a pretty one photographed by my brother-in-law William.

Another year, another family wedding! My niece/goddaughter will be marrying in the French village where she grew up and we’re so excited to visit that side of the family for such a joyous event. Of course, such a milestone requires the bestowal of a wedding quilt so I’ve been working away at my latest nuptial project.

Street life--strolling through a small town in France, again by William Rounds.
Street life–strolling through a small town in France, again by William Rounds.

Quilt Inspiration, a blog co-authored by sisters Marina and Daryl Lynn is one of my favorite sources for quilting ideas. They’ve got the best selection of free quilt patterns stacked in the blog’s rightmost column. I took a gander last fall and downloaded a few to share with the bride’s sisters.  Jelly Roll Strip Starburst by Kimberly Einmo and Brigit Schuller, published by the quilt batting manufacturer, Fairfield, made the cut.

Quilt-J:  Jelly Roll Stars
Jelly Roll Strip Starburst by Kimberly Einmo and Brigit Schuller.

True confessions:  I had to choose a quilt pattern that worked with my preselected quilt backing. I don’t usually work backwards like that, but I own serious yardage of Alexander Henry Harajuku Ladies and it’s pretty darn fabulous. Laura’s the one who revealed the print’s charms to me in a past post.

Turns out that my backing choice is serendipitous—the bridegroom is of Japanese descent and the design is both modern and retro, which is perfect for a young, happening couple.

Quilting kismet! I knew there was a reason why I broke the bank on that yardage.

Fabric-J:  Harajuku Ladies by Robert Kaufman
Harajuku Ladies from Robert Kaufman fabric.

FYI:  I’m a bit of a contrarian when it comes to following quilt patterns. I’ve just got to put my own spin on whatever one I select, and so my niece’s wedding quilt is a riff on Kimberly’s original. My preference was to set the stars on a white field so there’d be plenty of space for quilting. I wanted something clean-lined that could age reasonably well:  scrappy, bright, and light-filled. I’m no seer, but I suspect (and hope) simplicity trumps all when it comes to enduring appeal.

First draft of layout--not there yet but getting there.
First draft of layout–not there yet, but almost.

I’ve found myself thinking a lot about the quilting with this project and considered many options. That’s the detail, I think, that will really make the quilt shine and so I’ve commissioned a truly spectacular long-arm quilter to add an heirloom touch to the wedding quilt.

Even though delivering the quilt and backing should be a no-stress step in the quilt-building process, I actually find it nerve-racking, even though it’s about delegating the workload and unloading anxiety. Is my quilt top well sewn? Are my borders wavy? Do I have enough backing? Are my requirements insane? Am I a high-maintenance client? Will the quilter, to my shame, send back my quilt for fixing before quilting?

Rather than freak myself out with worries, I decided that I’d tackle these questions in my Friday post where I will share insights from an interview of Marla Monson, long-arm quilter extraordinaire. She’s helping me channel my angst and quilting the wedding quilt.

Till Friday . . .  J-Signature

French cows in a mist photographed by the bride's sister (and daughter of William).
French cows in a mist photographed by the bride’s sister (and daughter of William).

 

In Honor of President’s Day: American Quiltmakers Speak Their Minds–in Fabric!

Long before the 19th amendment was ratified in August 1920, granting them the right to vote, American women were making their voices heard–albeit silently–with fabric, needle, and thread. Although no longer silent, today’s quilters continue to express their political preferences and social views, as well as their patriotism, through their quilts. Here, in honor of Monday’s President’s Day holiday, are a few examples–some old, some new–of how we speak through our handiwork. This isn’t about politics: no matter your “political persuasion,” I hope you’ll enjoy this glimpse into a unique niche in our quilting heritage.

Appliqued Eagles (84" x 85"), maker unknown, c.1850, formerly in the collection of Shelly Zegart, photo by Geoffrey Carr, seen in Episode 7 of the documentary Why Quilts Matter
Appliqued Eagles (84″ x 85″), maker unknown, c.1850, formerly in the collection of Shelly Zegart, photo by Geoffrey Carr, seen in Episode 7 of the documentary Why Quilts Matter

Presidential elections have been a rich source of subject matter for quiltmakers since the 19th century. Elizabeth Holmes made it very easy for us to recognize her political preferences by proclaiming them boldly in her patriotic red, white, and blue quilt. The names of Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant (as well as Grant’s first-term Vice-President, Schuyler Colfax) appear prominently, as well as the date, 1869, the year Grant first took office.

Patriotic (90" x 71"), made by Elizabeth Holmes, 1869
Patriotic (90″ x 71″), made by Elizabeth Holmes, 1869

For a time, this quilt was in a private collection, but (the amazing) Julie Silber, who provided the image, is uncertain of its present home. I’m thinking, perhaps, the American Folk Art Museum, but if anyone knows for sure, please leave a comment below and I’ll amend this post to reflect the answer. (UPDATE: Scroll down to see the comment from NYC appraiser and dealer in antique quilts, Laura Fisher, regarding the current whereabouts of this quilt, and a follow-up from Bev Aguilar with a link to a photo on The Pink Pagoda blog.)

This next quilt, made in 1884, recognizes the victorious 1880 ticket of James A. Garfield and Chester A. Arthur. Note the use of the commemorative panels in this and the following two quilts.

Garfield-Arthur Medallion Quilt (84" x 84"), made by Anna May Ensminger, 1884, photo by Geoffrey Carr, formerly in the collection of Shelly Zegart, seen in Episode 2 of the documentary Why Quilts Matter
Garfield-Arthur Medallion Quilt (84″ x 84″), made by Anna May Ensminger, 1884, photo by Geoffrey Carr, formerly in the collection of Shelly Zegart, seen in Episode 2 of the documentary Why Quilts Matter

Grover Cleveland holds a unique place in the presidential pantheon. He is the only president to serve two non-consecutive terms, as the 22nd and 24th commander in chief.

Grover Cleveland Quilt (85 1/2" x 85 1/2"), maker unknown, c. 1884 - 1890, collection of the American Folk Art Museum, Gift of Made in America - Margy Dyer, seen in Episode 7 of the documentary Why Quilts Matter
Grover Cleveland Quilt (85 1/2″ x 85 1/2″), maker unknown, c. 1884 – 1890, collection of the American Folk Art Museum, Gift of Made in America – Margy Dyer, seen in Episode 7 of the documentary Why Quilts Matter

Here’s another quilt that honors Cleveland, this time with Thomas A. Hendricks, who served as Vice President during Cleveland’s first term. Its crazy-quilt style was common for the period in which it was made.

Cleveland-Hendricks Crazy Quilt (75" x 77"), maker unknown, c. 1885 - 1900, collection of the American Folk Art Museum, gift of Margaret Cavigga, seen in Episode 7 of the documentary Why Quilts Matter
Cleveland-Hendricks Crazy Quilt (75″ x 77″), maker unknown, c. 1885 – 1900, collection of the American Folk Art Museum, gift of Margaret Cavigga, seen in Episode 7 of the documentary Why Quilts Matter

Fast forward to the 20th century. In the 1930s, Ruth E. Finley, author of Old Patchwork Quilts and the Women Who Made Them, designed a pattern that she called “Roosevelt Rose” in honor of then-President Franklin Roosevelt. The design first appeared in Good Housekeeping magazine, with the pattern available for purchase. We’ll never know for sure whether the quiltmaker who made this version was a fan of FDR or just loved the colorful appliqued design, but it’s interesting to note the presidential inspiration.

Roosevelt Rose (67" x 82"), maker unknown, c. 1934 (probably made in Missouri), in the General Collection of the International Quilt Study Center & Museum
Roosevelt Rose (67″ x 82″), maker unknown, c. 1934 (probably made in Missouri), in the General Collection of the International Quilt Study Center & Museum

And the beat goes on. Inspired by political campaign fabrics of the past, quilt historian Barbara Brackman created the following image, which she produced on fabric via Spoonflower to mark the 2012 presidential campaign. (Visit Barbara’s blog, Material Culture, to get the whole story, and to see examples of the historic inspiration and Barbara’s finished fabric. For more about Spoonflower, check out Jennifer’s earlier post about them here.)

Inspired by historic campaign fabrics, Barbara Brackman created this image to produce fabric for the 2012 election.
Inspired by historic campaign fabrics, Barbara Brackman created this image to produce fabric for the 2012 election.

As it happens, Barbara shared a sample of her fabric with her friend, Deb Rowden, who explains, “I, of course, started adding little scraps of fabric all around the main character . . .” Here’s what happened!

Go Barack!, (24" x 27"), made by Deb Rowden, 2012
Go Barack!, (24″ x 27″), made by Deb Rowden, 2012

Visit Deb’s blog, Thrift Shop Quilts, for a closer look at this fun and scrappy quilt.

Many, many thanks to Why Quilts Matter, the International Quilt Study Center & Museum, Julie Silber, Barbara Brackman, and Deb Rowden for use of the images in this post.

One last (and happy) announcement: the winner of the signed copy of Eleanor Levie’s book, Quilt Blocks Go Wild!, from my February 5 post is Terry (@ a quilting blog). Congratulations, Terry!

That’s it! I’m off to pack for QuiltCon, The Modern Quilt Guild’s exciting conference and show that begins in Austin, TX, on February 21. I’ll fill you in next time it’s my turn to post.

‘Til then, happy stitching!Darra-signature

For Valentine’s Day and Beyond: Capture Mementos (and Memories) with a Nostalgic “Pocket” Pillow

Some sources say that it was Henry VIII who, in 1537, settled the English celebration of Valentine’s Day upon February 14–by Royal Charter, no less. At the time, he was married to his third wife, Jane Seymour. Jane, who was expecting, ultimately produced the long-awaited male heir, marking one of the happier times in Hal’s well-chronicled marital history.

That old romantic, Henry VIII; photo courtesy of www.theanneboleynfiles.com
That old romantic, Henry VIII; photo courtesy of http://www.theanneboleynfiles.com

(Don’t you love the photo? I found it on a wonderful blog — The Anne Boleyn Files – a fun destination for Tudorphiles.)

Last week, under the spell of the approaching holiday (and inspired by Downton Abbey, to which I’ll admit I am hopelessly addicted), I decided to put my creative mojo to work designing something with a hint of romance and nostalgia. I had the perfect inspiration, too. About 18 months ago, my (nonagenarian) mother-in-law Ethel passed along a beautiful collection of delicate lace- and cutwork-trimmed handkerchiefs and tea napkins. Some had been given to her as a girl as souvenirs from family traveling in Europe; others she believed had belonged to her own mother, or possibly her mother-in-law.

Just a sampling of my lovely "inherited"  textiles; by the way, that fashionable, bustled lady is my great-grandmother's sister, Pauline, who made her living as a dressmaker. Fabric is in my blood, I guess!
Just a sampling of my lovely “inherited” textiles; by the way, that fashionable, bustled lady is my great-grandmother’s sister, Pauline, who made her living as a dressmaker. Fabric is in my blood, I guess!

It was Ethel’s intent that I put at least some of these family heirlooms to use in my work. I began as I usually do, by choosing a basic palette (in this case, gray, pink, rosy mauve, ecru, and white), and then raiding my cupboards for fabrics, trims, and embellishments that might create the “mood” I’m looking for.

Some of the fabrics, trims, and other embellishments I considered
Some of the fabrics, trims, and other embellishments I considered

Now the big question: what would I make? Here’s what I came up with . . .

pillow complete vignette

This dainty, Edwardian-inspired, 8″ square pillow met all my criteria. It’s feminine and romantic, with a pocket for tucking away cherished photos or other ephemera. It allowed me to use one of my treasured vintage hankies. Finally, once I had finalized the materials, it took less than two hours to make, including the pillow form (which means that yes, you can still make one in time for the big day)!

If a 48-hour turnaround is just a tad too ambitious, consider making one as a first-year anniversary gift for a special bride (incorporating her bridal handkerchief, and tucking her wedding invitation and/or wedding portrait inside); as a memorable silver or golden anniversary gift; or as a christening or First Communion rememberance. Then again, you might whip one up in the appropriate fabrics and trims; stash some fancy chocolates, a pair of movie passes, a handmade sachet, or even a gift card in the pocket; and surprise someone you love, “just because.”

Here’s What You’ll Need

8 1/2″ x 8 1/2″ square each of two different fabrics (one for pillow front, one for pocket)

Two 6 1/2″ x 8 1/2″  rectangles of fabric (for pillow back)

3/4 yard of 1 1/2″-wide wire-edged silk ribbon

Small lace-edged handkerchief, tea napkin, or crocheted doily

Charm, button, or other embellishment as desired

8″ square pillow form (or make your own; directions follow)

Making the Pillow Front

1. Fold over the top edge of the pocket piece approximately 3″; press.

Stripe is the pillow front; rosy hand-dye is the folded pocket fabric. I've shown both so you can see the approximate proportions.
Stripe is the pillow front; rosy hand-dye is the folded pocket fabric. I’ve shown both so you can see the approximate proportions.

2. Fold the hankerchief diagonally over the folded top edge of the pocket, so the desired amount of handkerchief is visible on the pocket front. Use matching thread to baste the handerchief to the pocket along their top edge with a 1/8″ seam.

hankie overlap_2

3. Trim the handkerchief even with the sides and bottom of the pocket.

hankie trimmed

4. Fold the length of wire-edged ribbon in half crosswise. Tie a generous bow at the midpoint. Pin the ribbon to the top edge of the pocket, centering the bow. Working outwards from the center, use matching thread to stitch the top and bottom edges of the ribbon to the pocket, right along the wire edges. Trim excess ribbon even with the sides of the pocket.

ribbon extended_2

5. Layer the pocket on the pillow front, right sides together, with side and bottom edges aligned. Baste the sides and bottom of the pocket to the pillow front with a 1/8″ seam.

pillow front complete

Assembling the Pillow

1. Turn under one 8 1/2″ edge of one backing piece 1/4″ to the wrong side; press. Fold over a second 1/4″; press and topstitch. Repeat with the other backing piece.

back piece

2. Layer the pillow front and the backing pieces, right sides together, aligning the raw edges; pin. (The hemmed edges of the pillow backing will overlap about 2″ – 3″.) With your machine set in the needle-down position, stitch 1/4″ from the raw edges all around the perimeter, pivoting at each corner. Clip the corners at an angle, taking care not to cut into the seam.

pillow assembled_2

3. Turn the pillow cover right side out, making sure the corners are nice and crisp; press. (Another job for my 4-in-1 Essential Sewing Tool). Add a decorative charm, button, or other embellishment to the bow as desired. Insert the pillow form, and you’re all set!

finished and stuffed

Pillow Form

If you can’t find an 8″ square pillow form, make your own. It’s easy! Cut 2 squares of muslin (or other light-colored cotton), 8 1/2″ x 8 1/2″. Place right sides together. Stitch around the perimeter with a 1/4″ seam, leaving a 5″ opening along the bottom edge. Clip the corners, turn right side out, and press. Stuff to desired firmness with your favorite filler, pin the opening, and slipstitch to close.

Our readers went all out with the Valentine’s comments in response to last Friday’s post. We even received some poetry! The winner of Laura’s apron pattern is Mary on Lake Pulaski. Congratulations, Mary!

Don’t forget to check back on Friday, when I’ll be announcing the winner of Quilt Blocks Go Wild! from my February 5 post.

‘Til then, happy stitching. Oh, and Happy Valentine’s Day!Darra-signature

A Heart-y Hello from See How We Sew Along with a Giveaway!

Inspiration-J:  Flowers for Valentine's Day

Giveaway-Green:RedIt’s that time of year again when we can plunder our stashes for all things pink and red in the name of fondness, friendship, and love.

Just in case you want to know why we celebrate February 14 with representations of affection, I’ve excerpted this bio of St. Valentine from catholic.org:

St. Valentine was a Priest, martyred in 269 at Rome and was buried on the Flaminian Way. He is the Patron Saint of affianced couples, bee keepers, engaged couples, epilepsy, fainting, greetings, happy marriages, love, lovers, plague, travellers, young people. He is represented in pictures with birds and roses.

I get the connection to love and marriage–how about plague?  What does it mean to be the patron saint of plague? Although epilepsy and fainting are odd as well. I guess that’s what love is, a swooning sentiment that can give you fits . . . yes, I do know . . .  St. Valentine will intercede in all plaguing matters, etc.

We blogging sisters at  See How We Sew  have much more charming Valentines to share with our readers:

Laura’s Take on Valentine’s Day

From Laura’s workshop, a brand new iteration of her popular apron pattern and she’s offering a copy of the pattern as a giveaway. See details below.

apron

Laura’s Tea for Two apron can be made in two variations–the one shown above and another with a top bib. You can purchase the apron pattern at Laura’s website (and/or enter the giveaway). The pattern was designed originally by Althea Hampton, the mother of Laura’s long-time collaborator Diana McClun. She and Laura found Althea’s original apron with the paper pattern tucked into a side pocket while rummaging through a box of vintage aprons they’d found. What a lovely gift! (And one Diana and Laura have enjoyed for years by making many versions for special holidays and events.)

Darra Sends Out ♥ Messages via Postcard Quilts

Darra’s been channeling heartfelt themes for a while now in her postcard quilts:

"Be Mine" by Darra Williamson
“Be Mine” by Darra Williamson
"Hearts Entwined" by Darra Williamson
“Hearts Entwined” by Darra Williamson
Project-D:  Postcard
“Cross My Heart” by Darra Williamson

Check back on Tuesday next week, as Darra’s got something wonderful cooking for Valentine’s Day in her upcoming post.

Jennifer Goes for Hearts and Flowers

As to Jennifer (me), I’ve been eyeing my silk ribbon and bead collections for appropriate Valentine fodder. My take on the day is doorknob decor. I just love the idea of surprising a loved one with a handmade token of my esteem (perfect houseguest treat BTW!):

A heartfelt memento for a valentine.
A heartfelt memento for a valentine.

I’m not sure I’m ready to graduate from Candace Kling’s academy of ribbon work, but I’m practicing. The instructions for each one of those flowers, leaves and berry bud can be found in The Artful Ribbon. The how-to’s for the heart pillow are available in our Pattern Library. Yes, I was feeling piratical last year, but the directions work for whatever riff you choose.

Inspired by Candace Kling, here's my take on silk ribbon flowers with beads and ribbon plundered from my stash.
Inspired by Candace Kling, here’s my take on silk ribbon flowers with beads and ribbon plundered from my stash.

The Giveaway Scoop 

Project-D:  PostcardSend us a ♥-felt sentiment, phrase, wish in Comments to enter the giveaway for Laura’s apron pattern. Darra will announce the winner in her Tuesday post on February 12.

Heartiest greetings to all!

signatures3

“Quilt Blocks Go Wild!”–Fun & Funky Improv Projects from Six Favorite Designers (Giveaway!)

1-Giveaway Icon“The classic quilt block: Our cherished legacy. And now, the perfect inspiration for your creativity…a collection of fresh, modern quilt projects made with quilt blocks that are twisted and tweaked, sliced and skewed.”

–Eleanor Levie, from the intro to her book, Quilt Blocks Go Wild!

Drunkards Off the Path pillows on the cover (20" x 20"), designed and made by Malka Dubrawsky
Drunkards Off the Path pillows on the cover (20″ x 20″), designed and made by Malka Dubrawsky

Sound like fun? You bet! Whether…

  • You’ve been been wanting to try your hand at improvisational piecing, but struggle with knowing how or where to start…
  • You’re already a veteran of this fun and funky way to piece, always on the lookout for colorful inspiration to stretch your improv wings…
  • You’re a fan of “free-spirited” designers such as Malka Dubrawsky (a stitch in dye), Tonya Ricucci (the UnRuly Quilter), and Karla Alexander (Stack the Deck series)…

…you’ll find lots to love in Quilt Blocks Go Wild!

Accomplished author, editor, and book packager Eleanor Levie has enlisted a terrific team of “celebrity quilters” to join her in creating a tempting array of versatile blocks and projects, each showcasing the celebrity’s signature style. In addition to the aforementioned three, you’ll find projects designed by Pam Dinndorf (Aarvark Quilts), Elizabeth Rosenberg (whose award-winning work has been seen on Quilt Out Loud), and Eleanor herself.

Basket Goes Bonkers (21" x 39"), designed and made by Eleanor Levie
Basket Goes Bonkers (21″ x 39″), designed and made by Eleanor Levie

The result is a 64-page joyride of a book, brimming with clear, easy-to-follow instructions (and over 125 step-by-step photos) for 10 fabulous projects, ranging from a lap quilt to wallhangings, pillows, totes, a tablerunner…even a potholder to practice on.

Heart of Bold tote (13 1/2" x 14" x 3 1/2" deep), designed and made by Elizabeth Rosenberg
Heart of Bold tote (13 1/2″ x 14″ x 3 1/2″ deep), designed and made by Elizabeth Rosenberg

Tips and suggestions for creative play abound, including design exercises called “playbooks,” which encourage experimentation and variation, and a full page devoted to practical ideas for creating and working on a design wall.

Squares Out of Square (42" x 62"), designed and made by Karla Alexander
Squares Out of Square (42″ x 62″), designed and made by Karla Alexander

There’s a healthy basics section for newbies, and–for those who prefer to get their toes wet before diving in head first!–some of the blocks even include full-sized pattern pieces to get you started.

Log Cabin/Split Level tablerunner (12 1/2" x 64 3/4"), designed and made by Pam Dinndorf--one of the projects that includes pattern pieces, if you are so inclined
Log Cabin/Split Level tablerunner (12 1/2″ x 64 3/4″), designed and made by Pam Dinndorf–one of the projects that includes pattern pieces, if you are so inclined

So, would you like to step outside the box and tackle a “wild” project or two? Leave a comment by midnight (PDT), February 13, and you’ll be entered in a random drawing for a copy of Quilt Blocks Go Wild!, donated (and autographed) by Eleanor the Celebrity Wrangler. I’ll announce the winner in my post on February 15.

Author (and free spirit!) Eleanor Levie
Author (and free spirit!) Eleanor Levie

‘Til next time, happy stitching!Darra-signature

PS:  Click here to read my October 2011 post about Malka Dubrawsky.

Spring Blooms Quilt Block Teaches Partial-Seam Construction

Happy February everyone!

I can’t believe how quickly this past month has flown by. I hope you are finding time to work on some of those projects you may have put off due to a busy holiday season. If you have been following along, you know that my first lesson on Craftsy’s new block of the month went live on January 1st. I am both honored and overwhelmed to say that there are currently over 50,000 students. All I can say is “Wow!” It has been such an exciting experience.

I have decided to make another sampler quilt along with the students and present some setting options at the end of the year. Here are the fabrics I will be working with. The large floral is Happy Land by Jennifer Paganelli for Free Spirit/Westminster Fibers. It is my inspiration/focus fabric.

Fabrics for my new sampler quilt. I just can't get away from dots!
Fabrics for my new sampler quilt. I just can’t get away from dots!

I have decided to make another set of the same blocks using different fabrics. One of my posts each month will be dedicated to sharing the new blocks and discussing fabric choices. I will also offer different options for arranging the blocks. I hope you will join me in this journey. If you are interested and haven’t yet signed up, it’s not too late. It’s free and you can access the lessons at any time. They are yours forever.

First a bit of catch up: Last month I taught the offset or off-center Log Cabin block. Here it is, using my alternative fabric choices.

Jan

While visiting my Facebook page last night, I saw that Christine Barnes has been playing with the same pattern. She says it is a mock-up made with InDesign using Gelato ombres by E. E. Schenck.  Don’t they offer a beautiful range of colors and values?

Celebration! Jan CC

This month on Craftsy, I am covering partial-seam construction with a block I call Spring Blooms. If you are interested, there is an instructional video on partial seam construction in our “How-To Videos” located on the navigation bar above.

Feb

A year or so ago, I made an entire quilt from this block. I simply set the blocks on point with some alternate blocks for a different look. The pattern for this quilt is available on my website and works well with any of the 1-1/2″ wide pre-cut strip sets.

spring_blooms

I pinned both the January and February blocks onto my design wall and really like the way they play together. I like that so much, that I am considering making an entire quilt with just these two blocks.

Jan:Feb

That’s it for today. Please check back next month for a lesson on drafting. No groaning, please. I promise it will be fun!

Take care of yourselves and enjoy another month of creativity.

L1-Signature