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.

bird1

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.

Birds7

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.

Birds8

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

bird6

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.

Birdhouse1

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.

Birdhouse2

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.

Birdhouse3

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

Birdhouse4

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

 

 

 

 

Quilts by Okan Arts

Patricia Belyea of Okan Arts

Patricia Belyea, a self proclaimed Japanophile, imports vintage yukata cottons. Patricia is the owner of Okan Arts, a design studio and micro quilt shop, in her home in Seattle, Washington.

Hope by Patricia Belyea of Okan Arts

As I mentioned in my post earlier this week, Yukata – The Summer Kimono of Japan , I met Patrica while she was traveling in the San Francisco Bay Area for lectures and workshops. I was not only fascinated with her incredible collection of hand dyed fabrics, I was also inspired to see how she showcased these very special fabrics into the artisan quilts she creates.

Patricia took some time out of her busy travel schedule to answer a few questions that I thought would interest our readers and to share her beautiful work.

Babbling by Patricia Belyea of Okan Arts

What was it that initially attracted you to these fabrics?  I’ve always been a “treasure hunter” when it comes to fabrics. At first, my quilts were made from fabrics found in free boxes at quilting meetings. I’ve also looked for unusual and super-cheap fabrics by the tablecloth section at Goodwill stores. And I’ve bought some vintage fabric on eBay. Once I started to visit Japan regularly, I looked for quilting fabric there. 

Once I discovered vintage hand-dyed yukata cottons, I was hooked. They are so easy to love—good quality cotton that’s a perfect weight for quilting, gorgeous hand-dyed colors, and wonderful patterns. I find the colors and designs inspire my artisan quilt compositions.

How has your involvement with yukata cottons changed your outlook on the Japanese and their culture? Before I ever bought a bolt of yukata cotton, I had been to Japan twice and hosted three Japanese home-stay students. So I already had a real interest in all things Japanese. 

Getting involved with yukata cottons and quilting has changed the focus of my trips to Japan. Now I seek out textile-related experiences—visiting indigo masters, wandering around flea markets, looking for small shops with vintage fabrics, going to museums, and anything else that touches on my interest in Japanese handicrafts, especially textiles.

Tangled by Patricia Belyea of Okan Arts

What do you see for the future of Okan Arts? My petite cottage business called Okan Arts is synonymous with me! I’m a one-woman enterprise who just keeps dreaming up more things to do.

Right now I’m working on a quilting book that combines yukata cottons and commercial solids in improvisational designs.

I just wrote an article for GenerationQ magazine entitled “A Quilter’s Guide to Visiting Japan.” (Look for it in the November/December issue.) I feel a calling to encourage others to visit Japan so I’m putting together a new Japan Travel section on my website as a resource for individual travelers.

As I’m out of town a lot this summer, I set up a pop-up shop with all my inventory in my local quilting store—The Quilting Loft in Seattle. Making my yukata cottons more accessible has been a good move as shoppers can only visit my home-based shop by appointment–I may do that again as I travel so much. – Patricia Belyea.

close up of quilt by Patricia Belyea

Aren’t her quilts amazing? Patricia also enjoys hand-quilting her quilts to add to the artisan feel. Being a big fan of Big Stitch hand quilting, I was immediately drawn to her thread work.  She uses colorful pearl cotton to create interesting shapes and line work. I loved seeing her perspective on applying this technique to the large scale prints and large open spaces of the yukata designs.

close up of quilt by Patricia Belyea         close up of quilt by Patricia Belyea

close up of quilt by Patricia Belyea         close up of quilt by Patricia Belyea

Thank you, Patricia, for a sharing this unique niche in our wonderful world of quilting. It is always fun to see how personal passions can merge with one’s creative interests.

Signature Cropped

Status Update:  Indie Modern Quilters Stretch Their Wings—Maybe You’d Like to As Well?

Some months ago, blogging sis Pati sent out query to quilters in our geographic area to gauge interest in forming an Indie Modern quilting group. As luck would have it, there was an enthusiastic response plus a quilt-shop owner who wanted to host regular get-togethers. We thought it would be a good time to update our readers about their activities—you might find a good model for a starting your own Indie Modern group in your own area.  ♥ Jennifer ♥

Setting Up an Indie Modern Group:  One Group’s Adventure

I have been a member of the East Bay Modern Quilt Guild of the San Francisco Bay Area for a few years now, and one of the things that repeatedly caught my attention was the curiosity and interest in the Modern Quilting movement in its neighboring county, but no resulting push to establish another guild.  Each time someone asked me about my guild, they lost interest when considering traveling to Berkeley or the Peninsula for regular meetings. That all changed once I spoke to Gina Chang, the new owner of Wooden Gate Quilts in Danville, CA.  We decided to create an opportunity to gather enthusiasts once a month and to see where our efforts would lead us. I opted to call the gathering Indie Modern Quilters because I didn’t want to limit the group in any way and to encourage independent thinking and out-of-the-box-creativity.

The turnout was great for that first meeting and for each since! Typically, we start with a social hour/shopping, move on to a member’s tips-and-tricks segment, and then finish with Show-and-Tell.  As a new group, we are having fun creating something that fits everyone’s hopes and interests—and getting to know each other as well. After discussing our preferences, we decided that we don’t want to be a guild or a drop-in, but we would like to meet monthly as a group of like-minded quilters. We are slowly defining what we would like an Indie Modern Quilt Group to be!

2014-07-28 13.23.18

I am excited to announce that Wooden Gate Quilts has scheduled some dates this Fall for Indie Modern Sew Day drop-ins. Other items on our Wish List are field trips and weekend retreat getaways.  And of course, more challenges and projects to explore. Feeling independent? Give our group a spin! – Pati

The first group challenge was to create a small quilt in a modern style using only the colors in a selected paint chip sample, along with one tint + white, as a color palette.

different-colors_300

The little quilts are beautiful! Wooden Gate Quilts graciously offered to host a mini quilt show of the work–they look wonderful hanging together!

2014-07-28 13.23.31

Don’t live in the area? No worries! Stop by SHWS on Friday and we will share all the wonderful quilts from the Indie Modern Color Challenge. For locals, Gina’ll give you a sneak peek if you stop by!

2014-07-28 13.27.35

 

See How a Quilt Design Evolves–The Many Faces of “Heartstrings” + Giveaway

Quilt-J:  Original Heart Strings Quilt

Quilt-J:  Heartstrings featured in The Quilt Life1-Giveaway IconNot so long ago I spearheaded a group project for a member of my quilting/dining group–she’d lost her mother and we wanted to give her a quilted hug. It was such a beautiful shared experience that I wrote about it for the February 2012 issue of  The Quilt Life and called the quilt Heart Strings.

 The Other Faces of Heart Strings 

Some time after that, our original SHWS quartet of Christie, Darra, Laura, and I made another version of Heart Strings for our very dear tech-savvy blog helper Michelle. She had had to say good-bye to her mother after a lengthy illness and we wanted to gather her up in a big group hug. It’s difficult to discern from a distance, but Heart Strings #2 is embellished with a stitched tree and flitting hummingbirds, the deft handiwork of long-arm quilter Marla Monson

Quilt-J:  Heart Strings hanging at Quilting in the Garden
Heart Strings #2 featured in the 2012 Quilting in the Garden exhibition, Livermore, California.

Then, just this year, as I was reading the June 2014 issue of The Quilt Life, I found a Letter to the Editor from a reader named Carol Findling who wrote about making a version of Heart Strings with her group for a friend who needed support after losing a daughter. They finished their version in three weeks to surprise her:  Heart Strings #3.

Is there more? Of course. My buddy Cyndy Rymer and I share more than a love of quilting, we also share a gynecologist:  a rare and wonderful physician who dropped the obstetrics end of the business to focus on women of a certain age. I don’t know how many locals she’s pulled from the brink of hormonal madness and other malevolent afflictions, but the numbers are legion and our admiration for her is profound and enduring.

Well, the sad news is that sometimes even healers need healing. She’s closing her practice to undergo intense cancer treatment. Cyndy and I cannot sever our connection to her without expressing our love and heartfelt wishes for her recovery. What else can we do but make her a quilt imbued with positive, healing thoughts?

Quilt-J:  Final stages neutral Heart Strings
Almost done: Heart Strings #4.

Before I stow my damp and crumpled Kleenex and finish today’s theme, I’d like to share one more thought about heartfelt quilts. Sure we make many celebration quilts, but we also make them for poignant reasons. As I tackled this post I was finally able to verbalize the reason I take on these quilts: I want that someone to know that he or she matters! How simple is that?

A Variation on the Heart Strings Theme

1.  Cyndy and I worked on the original Heart Strings and we knew it would work for us, but, to change up things, we went neutral. And, wouldn’t you know, Cyndy just happened to have a stash of unfinished neutral blocks in her UFO pile. We were halfway there without even trying!

Quilt-J:  Neutral Heart Strings

2.  Rather than a string of hearts, we opted for roses for the finishing detail. I turned to one of my own designs, Radically Ruched Roses.  This time I went for a fused spiral rose  rather than ruching bias strips to make the spirals–ruching isn’t fodder for a quickie quilt! After my recent Quilt-Along fusing frenzy it was an easy decision. Head’s up:  Radically Ruched Roses is available as free a downloadable pattern in our Pattern Library!

Quilt-J:  Madly Mod Rosie

3.  The leaves and stems also derive from Radically Ruched Roses–turns out I, too, had leftovers to donate to our cause. I pinned the strips in gentle waves and, before gluing them in place, I auditioned a layout of blossoms and leaves.

Quilt-J:  Neutral Heart Strings Draft Layout

4. Did you notice that the top was layered and quilted before we added the flowers and greenery? Cyndy loaded the quilt onto her long-arm machine and chose a simple floral motif for background quilting.

Quilt-J:  Neutral Heart Strings in Process

5.  Back to the stem strips:  Glue-Baste-It!  Laura recommended the product and it’s a dream for securing the applique pieces before finishing with stitches. I finished the edges with decorative stitches along the outer edges of the stems to give them a slightly thorny look. Then, Cyndy reloaded the quilt on the long-arm and stitched the leaves and roses to the top. The jury is out on whether or not that was a good idea–it wasn’t as much fun as she’d hoped. FYI:  The roses are dimensional appliqué (with an additional thin layer of batting on the back) and the spirals are top stitched.

 

6.  I’ve got the label affixed, stray threads trimmed, and so I think we’re ready to send out our healing quilt.

Heart Strings #4: yes, that is a spaniel sculpture--he wanted to be featured in the photo too! He's supposed to live in the garden as a remembrance of a very dear dog, but this guy likes the hearth.
Heart Strings #4: yes, that is a spaniel sculpture–he wanted to be featured in the photo too! He’s supposed to live in the garden as a remembrance of a very dear dog, but this guy likes the hearth.

Giveaway Details

I happen to have full-color reprints of the Heart Strings article and pattern from The Quilt Life and I’d be happy to share 3 copies with our readers. Leave me a comment by Thursday, July 24 and I will name the winners in my Friday post. Here’s your prompt:  Have you made a heartfelt quilt? Do tune in on Friday for a special edition cuz a seasonal fave will be flying in!

J-Signature

 

Gwen Marston Retrospective at See How We Sew + Giveaway Winner

Quilt-J: Gwen Marston Quilt Featured in Minimal Quiltmaking
“Turquoise” 41 x 45 inches, 2013, by Gwen Marston.

Hello dear readers! Gwen Marston is always a hit when we feature her at See How We Sew. Today we’ll take a look at more quilts from her latest AQS title, Minimal Quiltmaking, and revisit past posts about Gwen written by our blogging sister Darra. Gwen and Darra have been both friends and collaborators for years. In fact, Darra’s skilled editorial hand can be experienced in a number of Gwen’s quilting books. Keep scrolling to find the name of the lucky winner of Minimal Quiltmaking.

Throwback Posts

Darra gave us a peek into Gwen’s creative process back in February of this year in The Latest from that Amazing Quilter Gwen Marston.

And, before that in 2012, Working in a Series Gwen Marston and 37 Sketches.

 

Quilt-J:  Gwen Marston Quilt Featured in Minimal Quiltmaking
Minimal in Neutrals, 35 x 35 inches, 2012, by Gwen Marston

Giveaway Winner

And the winner is, Kathy in Florida–Congratulations! Many thanks to Gwen Marston for her continuing support of See How We Sew. Perhaps she’ll return for a visit soon?!? I hope so!

Final thoughts from Jennifer:  I’m taken by Gwen’s works of quilted art.  Can’t you just see these painting-sized quilts adorning the walls of a modern art museum? What if we started a grassroots movement to persuade our fine arts venues to open their galleries to our textile arts? Just a thought . . . we’ve got our Studio Art Quilters and any number of other art quilt groups. Time to come out of the shadows and into the limelight with the rest of the artsy crowd!

J-Signature

 

 

 

 

Time for Quilt-Along Panel 1- Blackbirds & Blossoms, Oh-La-La!

Row birdhouses

Panel 1(A) applique'Panel 1(B) applique'

It’s time for the next step of our Blackbirds & Blossoms Oh-La-La Quilt-Along! I’m hoping you’ve had lots of fun working on the center wreath over the past few weeks.

Panel 1(A) When Jennifer handed off her beautiful center block to Darra and me for the second round of our Quilt-Along, we decided to create whimsical vines on our 4 side panels. Darra had a sketch that we both agreed would be the stepping off point for the 4 panels. Sketch The first 2 side panels, Panels 1(A) and 1(B), are minimal in design, while the panels we will cover next month, Panels 2(A) and 2(B), are more layered and bursting with blossoms. The design process is outlined below. Links you will need: use the Patterns tab for instructions on the side panels, leaf and circle template and panel 1(A) and 1(B) appliqué sheets as reference for the shape of your vines. Also, refer to the split leaf tutorial for a decorative leaf.

Let’s start with the minimal designs first, Side Panels 1(A) and 1(B).

 Panel 1(A) applique'     Panel 1(B) applique'

I urge you to play with your fabrics and shapes to create your own original design that plays well with the fabrics you have chosen and your completed center wreath block.

Supplies for Side Panels

To keep a flowing curve, I decided to cut my vines directly in the shape you see, not using the bias strip method. Feel free to use the method that works best for you.

 

Fabrics choices for flowers

Cutting Instructions for Side PanelsLeaf and circle samples

How-To's- Side Panels

Panel 1(A)          Panel 1(B)

Okay! You are halfway there! I will show you tips on Side Panel 2(A) and (B) next month. Be sure to share photos with us on our SHWS Facebook page and I will pin them to our Quilt-Along Pinterest Board!

And the winner is…

Congratulations to Mary Helen of Oregon for winning Annie’s Pouch Pattern in Laura’s post last week!

Have a great week!

Signature Cropped

Start the Quilt-Along Today! Blackbirds & Blossoms Oh-La-La!

Row birdhouses

Welcome to the Blackbirds & Blossoms Oh-La-La Quilt-Along! I’ve got pleasure of delivering the first step: the center block decorated with a flower wreath. In my crafty past, I’ve been known to weave a wreath or two or three. In fact, I’ve even made a dimensional appliqué wreath based on the floral art of Pierre Joseph Redouté. Luckily, this Quilt-Along version builds quickly and much more easily!

Slightly cropped view of the center wreath block.
Slightly cropped view of the center wreath block. This image shows some of the preliminary stitching around the pattern pieces.

My blogging sisters and I elected to follow an improvisational approach to our collective project, although we did agree to a few parameters to keep the look consistent throughout the design process.

As I was the first, I downscaled my flowers and greenery in the center block, while they used larger sizes in the outer blocks. We also agreed to employ a raw-edged, fused appliqué method simply because it was much easier and faster for our mother-of-the-bride (and for the rest of us too). Choose your preferred appliqué method because the quilt is designed to flatter all techniques.

I’ve outlined my process below, but don’t worry about copying all those details.  Click the Patterns tab for the instructions for building the center block and the circle and leaf template pattern sheet.

Quilt-Along Wreath-J:  Supplies

Quilt-Along-J:  Cutting Instructions

Close to final draft of wreath layout--notice the stay stitching around the perimeter of the linen background block.
Rough draft of wreath layout–notice the stay stitching around the perimeter of the linen background block. (Yes, the wreath base is not centered on the background fabric–it’s an audition!)

 

Quilt-Along Wreath-J:  How-To's

Split leaves embellished with variegated green thread. Notice the flowers that I didn't use--turns out, less is more in this layout.
Notice the flowers that I didn’t use? Turns out, less is more in this layout.

Quilt-Along Wreath-J:  Split Leaf Instructions

I’ve made a short video to demonstrate how to make a split leaf. Click here for my directorial debut!

So, as I was finalizing the layout of the center block, I realized I needed a pop of something to jazz up the design. I’ve noticed that polka dots often add that jolt fun that makes a quilt happy.

Ah! Something dotty is just the ticket!
Oh! Something dotty is just the ticket!

There ya go, quilting peeps:  The first block of the Blackbirds & Blossoms Oh-La-La! Quilt-Along.  Get crackin’!

p.s. Jennifer’s lessons:  less is more and layering is lovely.

p.p.s.  See the sneak peek of the next blocks (in process) below.

J-Signature

 

Once my block was done, we auditioned the setting triangles for the wreath block and the next set of blocks.
Once my block was done, we auditioned the setting triangles for the wreath block and the next set of blocks.

Part 2–Tara Faughnan Shares Her Quilts

Welcome back to Part 2 of our guest post from Tara Faughnan. A busy quilter, Tara is a member of the East Bay Modern Quilt Guild, works for Michael Miller Fabrics doing in-house textile design work, and is very busy creating amazing quilts that seem to be surfacing here and there throughout the quilting world.

just for fun

Hello again! In the last post I took you on a virtual tour of my studio. You might be pleased to hear that I’ve done a bit of cleanup since then, mostly because I wanted to start on a new quilt of course! And, believe it or not, in order to start the process I do need a bit of calm and organization. It’s usually about midway through a project that things start getting flung about with abandon. The beginning, though, is pretty calm. Sadly, my husband took this photo over the weekend, where I am knee deep in mess again. The (sort of) clean period lasted approximately 10 minutes.

My newest quilt is in the early stages and tacked up on my design wall. Usually, the process follows many changes: I cut fabrics, piece some together, and then I throw it out and start over. I do this repeatedly until the idea catches and I think I’m on to something.  I DO finally get to an end result, which is a finished quilt, all stitched, bound, and ready to share. Many of the quilts I’ve been working on are going to publications somewhere, and otherwise promised to secrecy for now, and so I am limited in what I can show you.  But here is a sneak peek . . .

pic #1

Here are some of the other quilts I’ve made. This little one was made the day before Christmas for my nephew, because who can’t find the time the day before Christmas, right?  I did end up giving it to him in a semi finished state . . . The quilt is a smaller version of one I had just finished, so I used up all the leftover scraps from that project. Rhett’s Quilt (2013)

Rhett's Quilt by Tara Faughnan

This quilt I finished in early December and is titled Modern Log Cabins.  It is in the Spring 2014 issue of Modern Patchwork Magazine.

Modern Log Cabin Quilt by Tara FaughnanAnd, since I’m on a log cabin roll, here are a few more that I’ve made over the years. House Top Quilt (2010)

House Tops Quilt (2010) by Tara Faughnan

This is one of the first log cabin quilts I made, simply titled Log Cabin Quilt (2009).

Log Cabin Quilt (2009)

I tried my hand at Pineapple quilts also. I made this one for my parents, Pineapple Quilt (2007).

Pinneapple Quilt (2007) by Tara Faughnan

I really do love log cabin quilts,  and I have an idea for a new one brewing . . . I hope you do too!

Tara