Simple Wedge Tree Skirt

Friday already? Yikes! I’m still curious about where November went. I’m guessing like many of you, this is a busy time of the year. Thanksgiving always seems to sneak up on me and then I start rushing in preparation for Christmas. I’m not one to purchase gifts throughout the year, but instead I wait until I’m inspired. I guess that’s why they call me “Last-Minute Laura.” Oh well, it works for me.

I’m still organizing my sewing/quilting room and promise to share photos as soon as it is ready for viewing. It amazes me how much stuff one person can collect over a 30-year period. I am happy to report that I HAVE donated lots of it, but there is still so much left to organize . . . one box at a time.

I needed to take a break from all the boring work and decided to do something simple and creative. I may be one of the last sewers/quilters who wraps the base of the family tree with a piece of holiday-printed fabric. Not this year, I decided it was time to actually make a proper skirt for our tree.

Our tree isn't up yet so I must use a cabinet for display.
Our tree isn’t up yet so I must use a cabinet for display.

I was recently given a 9-degree wedge ruler and thought it might be fun to cut and sew pieces together to form the needed circle. It’s pretty simple, and just 5 fat quarters are needed to make this skirt.

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After sewing the 40 wedges together, I felt it needed some decorative trim around the edge. Prairie points! After sewing them on I preferred the look of them folded inward and so I decided to secure them through the layers with red beads. I think it makes for a nice finishing touch.

Buttons, beads or even bells could be used to secure the points.
Buttons, beads or even bells could be used to secure the points.

OK, skirt done. Now I just need to get the tree up so I can enjoy the new look, at least until the presents make their appearance. Speaking of presents, here’s a fun website I stumbled across today. If you enjoy unique gift wrappings you will enjoying watching the many tutorials. I am anxious to try the pleated one, it’s adorable. Click here to watch the beautiful Japanese gift wrapping by SHIHO Style and Design.

Enjoy!

Laura Signature

Blackbirds & Blossoms OH-LA-LA! Our Completed Quilt-Along Quilt

Quilt-Along-J:  Center blockHow did December sneak up on us so quickly? Seems like were were just introducing our first Quilt-Along quilt and, in the blink of an eye, we are revealing the finished product. With the help of our talented friend and long-arm quilter Cyndy Rymer we were able to complete it in time for this post. I attached the binding last night and, since we had a bit of sunshine today, I was able to take a few nice shots outdoors.

We are quite pleased with the quilt and hope you feel the same. If you have been following along and have any photos to share, we would love for you to send them our way. We always enjoy seeing your work.

Sooooo drumroll . . .  here are some photos showing an overview as well as details shots featuring some of the design motifs Cyndy used throughout the quilt.  I am also adding some notes that Cyndy made about her quilting design process.

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Cyndy: “I have to admit it was a terrifying honor to be asked to quilt the fabulous quilt-along project that Laura, Jennifer, and Pati created. But hey, I love a good challenge. And the quilt suits my taste – very whimsical and fun. I’m still a young punk in the world of long-arm quilting, and I admit to hanging out on every pro quilter’s corner looking for tips. Last year, I bought a Nolting Pro 24 machine with an Intelliquilter computer system, which allows me to use other designer’s digitized designs as well as those of my own design. And, I have to admit, this was my first stab at designing. Let me tell you, it is NOT easy. I created the quilted designs in the large triangles, but the stitching path was not very elegant. I used the repeated circles in the quilt as the inspiration for most of the quilting, but did free-motion echo quilting in the areas around the center of the quilt. I thought about feathers for the outer border, but thought a vine with circles and leaves to be more appropriate. Hope you agree! What fun.

 

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Check out our Pinterest Board to see all the photos of the quilt, and all of the projects that were inspired by this quilt. Blackbirds and Blossoms Pinterest Board

Happy December everyone! Hope you have enjoyed the project as well as the insights of our quilter, Cyndy Rymer.

Until next time, happy holidays!

Laura Signature

 

 

Confession of a Fabric Fanatic & a Giveaway

Ok, I admit it, I have way too much sewing and quilting stuff. What can I say? I love buying the latest fabrics, notions, and quilting books. However, I’m guessing that I’m not alone, as many of you who have been passionate and true to your craft are more than likely in the same boat. The reality is that there is more stuff than space conveniently allows. The big question is, what to do with all of it: continue storing it or find new homes for it?

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The recent challenging and painful experience of helping the son of a quilting friend clean out his mother’s sewing room has pushed me to deal with my stuff now. I don’t want anyone to have to go through the task this son is faces. A friend from the local guild and I went in and hauled it all out.

Now I have been collecting fabric, patterns, notions, books, and many other sewing and quilting-related things for over 30 years. I’m sure when I made the purchases I truly believed I would be using them in special projects . . . someday. Well, the reality is that many of those well-intentioned projects are still waiting to be started and, if my history tells me anything, it will probably never happen.

Starting to sort through a 30 year collection of books.
Starting to sort through a 30 year collection of books.

Fabrics have changed and so has my style. I’m looking at my collection with fresh eyes and have sorted everything into categories.

  1. What was I thinking? Time to find a new home for this one.
  2. I still love this fabric/book/tool, etc. and am not ready to pass it on. I will keep them.
  3. MUST keep this one, not that I ever intend to use it;  just has sentimental value so I plan to keep it forever.
This fabric was used in my wedding quilt that was made by my dear friends over 30 years ago. I will NEVER get rid of it.
This fabric was used in my wedding quilt that was made by my dear friends over 30 years ago. I will NEVER get rid of it.

After sorting through boxes, bins, bookcases, and baskets, I now have a pile of things that I am comfortable parting with. My suggestion is that, once you have designated it to the “find it a new home” box, don’t take a second look as you will more than likely change your mind.

I have been donating to local guilds for their outreach programs as well as to our local White Elephant Sale which benefits the Oakland Museum. I know they will both find good homes for everything.

Now that we are officially empty nesters, my husband has moved all of his collections into my newly married daughter’s previous bedroom. After 30 years in this business, I am excited to say I now have a dedicated sewing room.

After the sorting process is complete, it will be time to organize everything. I went to the IKEA website and found the perfect wardrobes (PAX System) to store all the keepers. It was actually pretty fun as there is a design program on the website that will allow you to move the parts around and put together a system that works best for your space as well as your treasures.

I’m excited to say that my cabinets arrived yesterday! Now, the fun, and the work begins. I’ll be busy the next few weeks with assembly and organizing.

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Hopefully next month I can share some photos of the results of my of my hard work.

Giveaway-GoldSooooo, IF by chance you were to receive a box of fabric (not too big, I promise), what style and colors would make you happy? Just asking ; ).

If you’re interested in sharing your wish, please leave a comment by end of day Sunday, November 2nd and I’ll see what I can pull together for you.

Now back to purging and organizing. This feels so good. If you haven’t yet, you might want to give it a try!

Laura Signature

Memory Board Game, A How-To-Make Tutorial

Since many of you have requested instructions on making the Memory Board Game I made in a previous post, I’ve decided to write a short tutorial giving the simple instructions. It’s a fun and easy project to make, using vinyl chalkboard fabric on the cover. It is a perfect “quiet” game doubling as both a drawing board and matching game board. Start collecting your favorite fun fabrics and  kid-type prints and get ready to create!  In case you missed the original post on this project, it was included here, with the review of Lisa Fulmer’s new book “Craft Your Stash”.

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The finished size of the game board is 10-1/2″ x 15-1/2″. It folds in half like a book and is secured on the side with a ribbon tie. You can certainly make your game board any size, in fact you may want to adjust it to accommodate the size of the picture squares, or rectangles. Just have fun with this one! Will make an adorable game for a special little one in your life.

 

Supplies

 

Here’s what you will need:

10-1/2″ x 15-1/2″ piece of vinyl chalkboard/blackboard fabric

Two 10-1/2″ x 15-1/2″ pieces of felt

Two 2-1/2″ x 10″ pieces of Timtex or Peltex (heavyweight stabilizer)

Twenty- four kid-prints or fun fabrics; dots, numbers and letters work well too.  May be more or less, depending on size of prints.

1/2 yard of fusible web

20″ piece of 1″ ribbon, cut in half

Thread & glue

Rotary cutter – I used a scalloped edge blade for added interest

A walking foot will be helpful for stitching through the layers.

Box of colored chalk

Fabric to make small pouch to store chalk and matching squares.

 

Instructions:

1. Press the fusible web onto the wrong side of all the kid prints.

2. Cut the fabrics into squares, using the rotary cutter. Need two squares of each image. Remove the paper backing from the fusible web.

3. Arrange one-half of the squares onto one piece of felt, leaving a larger space in the center to allow for folding in half.

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4. Arrange the other (matching) set of picture squares onto the other piece of felt.

5. Press to secure the picture squares and then stitch both horizontally and vertically approximately 1/4″ from the edges of the squares.

6. With the right side of the chalkboard fabric facing out, layer with the pieces of stabilizer and then one piece of felt.

7. Insert one piece of ribbon on each side of the board, between the layers. Use a little glue to hold in place.

8. Stitch through all layers around the entire edge of the board.

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9. Use the rotary cutter to cut around the picture squares which were stitched to the second piece of felt. These are used to match/cover the picture squares stitched to the board.
Here’s the final game, front and back.
Game board with matching pieces.
Game board with matching pieces.
The chalkboard cover makes a nice writing surface.
The chalkboard cover makes a nice writing surface.
10. Consider making a small fabric pouch for storing the matching squares along with a box of colored chalk.
Hope you found this helpful. Until next time everyone, take care everyone.

Laura Signature

 

 

Lisa Fulmer’s Craft Your Stash Today at SHWS + 2 Giveaways!

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We are thrilled to participate in Lisa Fulmer’s  Craft Your Stash Book Tour and Giveaway!
The term “stash” is quite familiar to any crafter, sewer, quilter, or scrapbooker. In fact, if you are true to your passion you probably have more stuff in that stash than any person could possibly use in one lifetime. We here at SHWS are always on the lookout for great stash-busting inspiration no matter the medium. Well look no more, our friend and crafter extraordinaire Lisa Fulmer has just released her book, Craft Your Stash. It is chockful of wonderful projects and inspiration to help you in using fabric, paper, stamps, stickers, buttons, bling, and so much more. So, don’t delay, order your copy today, you wont be disappointed. Lisa also provides suggestions how storing and organizing your stash.
Our SHWS Riff on Stash Busting
We tried our own stash-busting efforts and riffed on a couple of Lisa’s projects. Of course, we opted to use fabric because we have loads and loads of the stuff!
Jennifer:  I took on a variation of Lisa’s heart-themed door plaque, but I opted for a pair of doorknob hearts as I’ve been known to decorate my guest room door with a welcoming gift of a fabric heart. I think Lisa and I must be on the same wavelength with the idea of embellishing doors with hearts–it is, after all, an expression of loving welcome.
Lisa's hearts
I’ve got two special people I want to celebrate with a handmade gift and so I made a pair of hearts. If you’d like to bust your stash and make heart pillows, well, click the Pattern tab above and scroll to the Jack Sparrow Valentine pattern I posted there a couple years ago.
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 Project-J:  Lisa Fulmer inspiration--Jennifer's heart 1
 Laura:  I was inspired by the Mosaic Scrapbook project in Lisa’s book.

Lisa's book

My immediate thought was to make a toddler friendly Memory/Matching Game Board:  bright, colorful, and portable! I also took advantage of this opportunity to use chalkboard fabric for the cover of the game board.

Search through your stash for lots of cute kid -type images.
Search through your stash for cute kid-appealing images.
Hope this will entertain a little one on a long car ride.
Easy clean up too–just wipe the chalk markings off the fabric.

No blog hop would be complete without an enticing Giveaway opportunity–want to participate in Lisa’s the Craft Your Stash giveaway?

Go to Rafflecopter or Link to the Giveaway tab on Lisa Liza Lou Facebook Page for an opportunity to win a copy of Lisa’s book.
To purchase Craft Your Stash:
1. Signed copies for sale on Craftyourstash.com
2. Amazon 
3. Local craft and book stores

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Want the details for the other giveaway? We too have a copy of Craft Your Stash we’d love to share with our SHWS readers. Leave a comment by Monday, October 6 letting us know: are you or are you not a hoarder of crafty items and would Lisa’s book be a good intervention for your habit?

Do check out the other bloggers participating in the blog hop–here’s the talented lineup:

Click here for the schedule overview – and the direct links to each post will be updated below each day.

Craft Your Stash

 

 

Until next time, Happy Stash Busting Everyone!

Laura Signature

Alden Lane is Ready for 2014 Quilting in the Garden

Just a quick reminder that Quilting in the Garden at Alden Lane Nursery is happening this weekend, Sept. 27-28 from 9-4.  If you are in the area or looking for an inspirational day-trip, I encourage you to join us. You won’t be disappointed. Click here for information and directions.

Please, come  on in!
Please, come on in!

The quilt show will be wonderful, with over 250 works of art hanging “clothesline style” from the majestic, old oak trees. Quilts include those made by yours truly and my dear friend Diana McClun, Jean Wells and the Quilts of Sisters, Oregon and several others made by local quilters.

I always enjoy taking the many varieties of local apples.
I always enjoy taking the many varieties of local apples.

 

As lovely as the show is, I’ve always felt that it is the icing on the cake. The gardens, nursery, and gift shop are like none other. It is a dangerous shopping experience as I always find several treasures, perfectly timed for early holiday shopping.

One of my favorite views of the nursery.
One of my favorite views of the nursery.

Please, please join us and be sure to stop by to say hi. We will be located under one of the large oak trees. Also keep an eye open for one of our local celebs, she may be hiding among the garden art!

Alex Anderson stops in to say hi.
Alex Anderson stops in to say hi.

Ahh, apples and pumpkins and baking, oh my! Happy Fall everyone.

Laura Signature

 

 

Blackbirds and Blossoms Oh-La-La!: Embroidery Tips

If you are joining us in making the Quilt-Along, you may find the following tips helpful when attaching the birdhouse opening (circles) and blackbirds to the corner birdhouses.  The template patterns for both shapes are included in the Pattern Pages.  If you are new to our site, it’s not too late to start as you will find all instructions included in the Pattern Pages.

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I used a fusible web product (there are many available) to secure the shape to the background fabric. Then, I stitched around the edges of the shapes and added the details (eyes & wings) with hand embroidery stitches. Either embroidery floss (2 strands) or perle cotton will work well in this application. I opted for perle cotton as I like the heavier look it provides and it also forms a nice edging along the outline of the shapes.

Here’s What You’ll Need:

1/4 yard of fusible web

Embroidery needle

Perle cotton, No. 8 or embroidery floss (I used perle cotton)

Small embroidery scissors

Marking pencil to transfer stitching lines

1. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions that accompany the fusible web to trace, cut, and attach the circles and birds to the Birdhouse blocks.

2. Use a decorative embroidery stitch, such as a blanket stitch, as shown, to secure the edges of the shapes to the background fabric.

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3. Lightly mark the stitching lines onto the right side of the birds. Then stitch along the lines with a decorative stitch such as the stem stitch, as shown here.

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4. The beak, legs, and feather lines were stitched with long basting-type stitches.

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That completes the Birdhouse blocks. Be sure to check back for final assembly instructions.

Just a reminder that Quilting in the Garden at Alden Lane Nursery in Livermore, CA is coming up in just a few short weeks. If you are in the area, sure hope to see you there!

Dates & Places-J:  Quilting in the Garden 2014

Happy stitching everyone!

L1-Signature

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blackbirds and Blossoms Oh-La-La! Quilt-Along: The Birdhouse Blocks

This week it’s my turn to share my contribution to our Quilt-Along project, Blackbirds and Blossoms, Oh-La-La! If you have been following along with us, these pieces will complete the center of the quilt top. If you are newcomer to this fun group project, it’s certainly not too late to start. All of the instructions can be found in our Pattern Pages. Please join the fun!

Birdhouses complete our Quilt-Along.
The Birdhouses to complete our Quilt-Along.

I was given the task of designing a block for the corners of the quilt. The center floral designs seemed to call for the addition of birds. With this in mind, the idea of creating birdhouses to fit into the corners provided the perfect setting for a quartet of simple, whimsical birds. This is a super-easy-to-construct birdhouse block and it adds a nice corner element to the center floral medallion.

Here’s what you will need to make four Birdhouses:

House front: Four 6-1/2″ x 10-1/2″ pieces

House top: One 11-1/4″ square. Cut the square twice into quarters diagonally to yield four triangles.

Roof: Two 1-3/4″ x 42″ strips. Cut the strips to make four 1-3/4″ x 9-1/4″ pieces and four 1-3/4″ x 10-1/4″ pieces.

Background: Two 13″ squares. Cut each square twice into quarters diagonally to yield eight triangles.

Cut pieces for Birdhouses.
Cut pieces for Birdhouses.

Construction:

1. Sew a Background triangle to each short side of the House Front pieces, aligning the bottom edges.

2. Use your cutting tools to remove the excess Background and straighten the top edge, as shown.

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3. Sew a 1-3/4″ x 9-1/4″ piece  of Roof fabric to one short side of the House Top triangle. Then use the 45-degree angle marking on the ruler to cut the excess fabric even with the bottom edge of the House Top.

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4. Sew a 1-3/4″ x 10-1/4″ piece of Roof fabric to the adjoining short side of the House Top triangle. Then use the 45-degree angle marking on the ruler to cut the excess fabric, as shown. This completes the top half of the Birdhouse.

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5. Join the top and bottom sections together, matching seams where the House Front and House Top pieces intersect.

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6. Press the seam in the direction of the bottom half of the birdhouse.

Easy enough? Yes, of course! Please join me on Friday as I give instructions and hints for adding the Birdhouse opening as well as the birds.

Until next time, enjoy!

L1-Signature

 

 

 

 

Color and Value: Christine Barnes Visits SHWS – Part 2 & Giveaway

Christine Barnes joins us again today to share her thoughts on the role of color and value in creating the illusion of depth and layering in quilts. Click here if you missed Part 1. 

L: Christine Barnes photo“Value does all of the work, and color gets all of the credit.”

The adage is a bit overstated, but it’s true: We think first of color when planning a quilt, but value is often what makes a quilt successful, or not. In my second guest post, I’d like to show how this basic concept works in my quilts, and encourage you to consider it when working on your own quilt designs.

A bit of background: I majored in design at UC Davis, and I took a color class, but honestly, all I remember was painting a gray scale and making a color wheel out of construction paper. A few years later, when Sunset Books asked me to write a chapter on color for a decorating book, I had a full-blown panic attack. I recovered enough to call my uncle, a Mendocino artist who taught color for years. With intensive instruction from him, I learned not only about color, but that a “good color sense” is more about practice than talent. Fast forward to 2014, sixteen books later (four quilt books and twelve books for Sunset), and I am happily immersed in all things color and quilts.

0a array of folded blocks

Teaching workshops has taught me even more about color, especially the importance of value, the lightness or darkness of color.

Value has two important roles in quilt design: First, it creates a sense of depth. In piecing/patchwork, light values generally recede and dark values advance. The exception is appliqué, where shapes are applied to the surface. What’s on top will probably advance visually, no matter what the value. There are other exceptions, especially in the realm of art quilts.

Second, in a pieced quilt, value establishes the design. You read a dark star on a light background as a star shape because of the contrast in values. If the star and background fabrics were the same value, you’d never see the star.

Enough theory! Here are some quilts in which value does some of the work.

This early quilt, “Puss in the Corner on the Courthouse Steps,” shows how value establishes the design of a block and creates different planes of color. Light- and dark-value pieces make the sixteen-patch blocks read. The blocks advance because the strips surrounding them (blue-violet and orange) are darker in value than the striped background squares. True, the design plays a big part in creating the layered look, but the use of value is just as important. This quilt was inspired by Terry Atkinson’s “Tile Tango.”

Puss in the Corner by Christine Barnes.
Puss in the Corner by Christine Barnes.

 “Brushed Metal” is an example of luster, the illusion of light sweeping across the surface. (See my previous post for two other lustrous quilts.)  The easiest way to achieve this effect is with ombrés, fabrics that gradate in color and/or value. Here I oriented Serenity ombré strips so the light-value ends are on opposite edges of the blocks. Rather than a wash of light in one direction, the effect is more like light and energy flowing in both directions. Together, the three groups of fabrics—ombrés, Kaffe Fassett stripes, and Marcia Derse prints—are darker than the light-value sashing, making the blocks appear suspended.

Brushed Metal by Christine Barnes.
Brushed Metal by Christine Barnes.

Another example of value creating depth is this four-block mock-up, “Colors of Kauai.” Bright Gelato ombrés and multicolored prints from the Kaffe Fassett Collective advance against the open pattern and preponderance of white in the background fabric. (I love and use ombrés so much that I carry them in my website Store.   Talk about temptation!)

Colors of Kauai by Christine Barnes.
Colors of Kauai by Christine Barnes.

Shifting gears to a nonrepresentational quilt, “Earthscape,” I thought about value with every piece of fabric I considered. The upper areas are lighter in value, making them seem distant, while the lower areas read as foreground because they are darker. (The design lines of the fabrics also suggest foreground.) Elin Noble’s hand-painted fabrics are the real gems here—I call them “investment fabrics” because they are magical wherever you use them.

Earthscape by Christine Barnes.
Earthscape by Christine Barnes.

In “Transparent Squares” the illusion of see-through color is all about value. For each block I used lighter and darker values of roughly the same colors (a light blue-green and a darker blue-green, for example). And I attempted to gather light-value fabrics with the same degree of lightness, and dark-value fabrics with the same degree of darkness. I call the effect in this quilt “layered transparency.” Check out my quilt “Galaxy,” which is an example of parent/child transparency, in the Gallery on my site. Value plays a big part in parent/child transparency, too. (The term, which describes the effect perfectly, was coined by Judi Warren Blaydon.)

Transparent Squares by Christine Barnes
Transparent Squares by Christine Barnes

And finally, here’s my latest quilt, “Swizzle Sticks,” so named for the narrow strips I inserted in each block. Again, the sashing is lighter, but in this quilt I wanted to link the blocks using another graphic element. The small four-patches did the trick, anchoring and connecting the blocks. From a distance I also see single diagonal chains that slip beneath the blocks.

Swizzle Sticks by Christine Barnes
Swizzle Sticks by Christine Barnes

Thank you, thank you for allowing me to share my quilts and thoughts on color. Please check out my website, where you can browse the Gallery and Store (books, patterns, fabrics), sign up for “Christine’s Color Connection” (a newsletter on color), follow me on Facebook and Pinterest, and access my series of color lessons on the Classrooms page of “The Quilt Show.” If you see me in the future—at a workshop, guild meeting, or quilt show—please say hello. And for your next quilt, make value “do all of the work”—and you take all of the credit!

Giveaway-GoldHere’s yet another generous giveaway from our lovely guest blogger. Simply post a comment by end of day August 25th for a chance to win one of Christine’s color wheels and four fat quarters of Marcia Derse fabric. 

 

Congratulations to Deborah M. the winner of all the goodies from Christine’s first post.

Until next time, happy creating!

L1-Signature