In the past few years I’ve purchased very few quilting books. Maybe it’s because I have a bookshelf filled with books that I’ve barely touched. However, all that changed recently when I found Simplifyby Camille Roskelley. The cover drew me in – who wouldn’t want to know more about this adorable young woman sitting on the cutest red polka-dot chair! Add in “quilts for the modern home” and “use pre-cut jelly rolls, charm packs, fat quarters & more” and I had to look further!
The book is a treasure box of eight quilt projects, four pillow patterns, family photos, and Camille’s creative tips for simplifying your life. She describes the different pre-cuts, sewing tools and cutting techniques, piecing basics, and finishing. The photography is charming, and by the time you get to the end, you’ve got a pretty detailed picture of her design aesthetic and her life. With a husband and three adorable little boys, I wonder how in the world she does it!
If you’ve followed my posts over the past months, you know I’m a big fan of pre-cuts, especially the 2½” strips, 5″ squares, and 10″ squares. Most of the patterns in Simplify make great use of these convenient time-savers.
Camille and her mother, Bonnie Olaveson, are fabric designers for Moda. Their most recent lines include Vintage Modern (due out in May), Ruby, and Bliss. Their designs have been described as blending trendy with traditional. I totally agree – they fit perfectly into the fresh look of today’s contemporary quilting. I found Bliss to be irresistible, and featured it (using a layer cake pre-cut), in the cover quilt of my Cherry Marmalade pattern.
Within the past few weeks, news of two noteworthy (and very different) quilt exhibits has crossed my radar, one on each side of the country. I originally intended to tell you about both of them in one post, but Christie suggested that a single post couldn’t possibly do them justice. So this time around, I’ll share the news that next month, for one week only, the Lancaster Quilt & Textile Museum (Lancaster, PA) will mount a special exhibit: “The Art of the Quilt: 82 Quilts from the Former Esprit Collection.” This landmark display of vintage Amish quilts kicks off on Tuesday evening, March 13, with a by-reservation preview reception and dinner with former curator of the Esprit collection, Julie Silber. The exhibit opens to the public on Wednesday, March 14 and runs through Sunday, March 18. For a complete schedule of exhibit hours, curator tours, and other related special events, click here.
This is the first time the entire collection of 82 quilts will be seen together since they appeared at the deYoung Museum (San Francisco) in 1990 and, as Julie says, “Who knows when they will ever come together again?” The Lancaster venue, a circa-1912 Beaux-Arts bank building, is a work of art in itself. The quilts will be shown in the Grand Hall, utilizing both ground and fly space for a multidimensional visual experience. The show is timed to coordinate with the AQS Quilt Show and Contest, set for March 14 – 17 at the Lancaster County (PA) Convention Center, within walking distance of the museum site.
The journey of these amazing quilts, from rural Lancaster County to the West Coast and back again, makes a wonderful story. When Doug Tompkins, founder of the Esprit Corporation in San Francisco, saw the groundbreaking “Abstract Design in American Quilts” at the Whitney Museum of Art (NY) in 1971, he was so inspired–particularly by the Amish quilts–that he began collecting in the Lancaster area. For many years, various quilts from the collection were on display at the Esprit corporate headquarters, and the public was welcome to stop by and see them. In 1983, Julie Silber was hired to curate the collection.
In 2000, when Doug made plans to sell the quilts, he enlisted Julie’s help. Hoping to keep the collection intact and to see it returned “home,” Julie arranged the sale of all 82 pieces to the Heritage Center of Lancaster County, who purchased the quilts through a highly successful fundraising effort. Since 2002, various quilts have been shown, but never the entire collection.
Bottom line: if you’re able to visit the Lancaster area in mid-March, don’t miss this potentially once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see 82 amazing quilts. (For advance tickets, click here.) After March 18, the majority will be returned to storage, with a select 18 on exhibit until December 31. If you’d like to help ensure the future of this renowned collection, the Lancaster County Heritage Quilt Fund has been established to create an endowment for the preservation, curatorial care, exhibition, and storage of the quilts.
After fabric designer Kathy Davis read Christie’s post singing the praises of her (Kathy’s) new fabric line, Happiness by Free Spirit, Kathy generously sent us four pieces of these beautiful prints in laminated cottons. She could not have sent us a more lovely gift.
Just so yummy!
Apparently, I am the one who loves working with laminates (at least according to my blogging sisters), so they offered me the task of designing a project to put these wonderful fabrics to good use. I immediately jumped at the opportunity. As with any new piece of fabric, the decision is always what to make with it.
By now you probably know that I love baking almost as much as I love sewing. I can always use another apron, and the idea of having one made from one of these easy-to-care-for fabrics sounded like the perfect choice. I took the pieces to my local Cost Plus World Market to hunt for some interesting, coordinating dishtowels. My plan was to attach a dishtowel to the band of the apron. Perhaps having a dishtowel handy would stop me from wiping my hands on the back of my pants. Yes, a bad habit that often embarrasses me when I take the time to look in the mirror! I was delighted to find exactly what I was looking for. Aren’t these just perfect?
Here’s what I used to make the apron:
Two pieces of laminated cotton fabrics, each 18” x 28” (technically fat quarters since many laminated prints are 56” wide).
One “D” ring – make sure it is big enough for your dishtowel to fit through.
Thread to match fabric
Painter’s removable tape
Walking foot for sewing machine
Dishtowel to coordinate with the apron fabrics
Here’s how I made it:
Fabric One (Main fabric): Cut one piece, 15″ wide x 18″ long
Fabric Two (Trim):
Cut three pieces, 2-1/2″ wide x 28″ long (for waistband and “D” ring strap)
Cut three pieces, 3″ wide x 28″ long (for ruffle)
To make the waistband: Sew the three 2-1/2″-wide Fabric Two pieces together along the short sides. Topstitch the seam allowance down flat. With the right side facing out, finger press the strip in half lengthwise and sew three stitching lines, one down the center of the strip and the other two approximately 1/8″ from the edges (one folded edge and one raw edge). Cut a 4″ strip from one end of the band. This will be used to fasten the “D” ring to the waistband.
To make the ruffle: On the wrong side of each 3″-wide Fabric Two strip, mark a line 1″ in from one of the long edges. Then mark every 2″ down the length of the strips, as shown.
With the right side facing out, fold the strip along each of the 2″ marked lines. Then fold again to form a pleat. For ease in attaching to the body of the apron, be sure to fold in the direction shown in the photo. Use painter’s removable tape to hold the pleats in place. It’s not necessary to stitch the strips together to form one long piece; simply place one strip next to the other, hiding the raw edge of one behind the fold of another.
Position the folded strip onto the bottom edge of the main fabric, aligning the main fabric with the 1″ marked line on the wrong side of the ruffle. Secure on the wrong side with tape. Sew two stitching lines on the right side; one 1/4″ and one 1/2″ from the top edge of the ruffle.
Fold the top edge of the apron 1-1/2″ to the wrong side. Secure with tape. Make two 1″ pleats at the top edge, each 5″ in from the sides of the apron. Position the “D” ring and strap over a pleat (right side for right-handed bakers and left side for left-handed bakers.) Stitch across the top to secure.
With the folded edge on top, center the waistband on the top edge of the apron. Stitch through all layers, stitching over the previous stitching lines. Trim the waistband to your desired length and cut the ends at an angle.
Insert the dishtowel through the ring and you are ready to spend the day in the kitchen…and keep the back side of your pants clean. Enjoy!
I just can’t resist showing you one more project. This one is so super simple, yet I think it has many uses. I purchased a hand towel (could be any size), and then cut a piece of laminated cotton approximately 1″ smaller. With the right side of the cotton facing up, I centered it onto the toweland then edge-stitched all the way around, using a walking foot to prevent slippage.
Here are a few potential uses: baby-changing pad, dog-or cat-food mat, shopping-cart seatcover for toddlers. Can you think of any others? Simply tell us how you might like to use these fabrics by the end of day Friday, March 2nd, and I will be “happy” to send one lucky reader a fat-quarter bundle of the same four, beautiful laminated cottons we received from Kathy Davis. Thanks again to Kathy for the fabric and the inspiration.
In my last post, you’ll recall See How We Sew hosted a stop on Heidi Adnum’s blog tour for The Crafter’s Guide to Taking Great Photosfrom Interweave Press. We’re still on topic with today’s edition: we’re taking a gander at Heidi’s suggestions for flat-shot quilt photography. She’s got so many good ideas that I’ve opted to give you the highlights here and provide a PDF version of her extended answer for those who want details. Click here.
While good lighting is always the #1 requirement for successful quilt photography, there are a few other essentials Heidi suggests for shooting whole quilts. Ultimately, the challenge is to capture the full size of the quilt and the totality its pattern/design as well. That means flattening the quilt against a surface like a floor, table, or wall.
Select a background bigger than the quilt. Backgrounds that are too small look messy and contain distracting details.
Aim the camera directly at the quilt’s center to mitigate perspective and distortion challenges. (Here’s your clue that you’ve missed the center point with your focus: your quilt’s edges will be tapered or rounded.)
Consider investing in a mid-range professional tripod that combines a vertical column with one that will rotate and lock horizontally at 180 degrees. Tripods make it easier to photograph quilts straight on when spread on a floor or another flat surface.
Investigate using wider-angle lenses—generally 50mm and below—to achieve a broader field of view. You’ll get a little distortion, but you can minimize that by increasing the area of your background by an additional foot or so and cropping excess background in photo editing.
The bottom line is that it’s easier to photograph large quilts on the wall than on the floor, but the biggest challenge with that strategy is affixing the quilt to the wall and keeping it flat. Heidi suggests using double-stick tape, especially exhibition tape with low- and high-tack sides. You’ll find more insights into craft photography in her wonderful book and in the interview excerpt linked above.
For those in need of especially high-quality quilt photographs, there are professional resources available. As quilt makers who design patterns for purchase, Christie, Laura, and I occasionally turn to C&T Publishing when we need to photograph our larger quilts.
About that Interweave giveaway and the winners of the valentine’s challenge . . . Carmen has won a copy of Heidi Adnum’s The Crafter’s Guide to Taking Great Photos. Congratulations! And many thanks to our visiting author and Interweave for the book and the blog-tour visit.
Hearty congrats to Kim Butterworth for best interpretation of theme with “Heart-FELT Valentine,” Sandra Bruce for “XOXO,” and Michelle Rockwood for “Hearts Full of Love.” Each will win handmade heart earrings which I photographed by using Heidi’s nifty idea for a light box explained on page 56 of her book. Click Gallery to visit our Heartfelt Special Exhibit (FYI: closes 2/29/12) and click any image to start the slideshow. Till next time, Happy Quilting!
Are you ready for the second block in our 2012 Block of the Month project? Let me know if you’re sewing along with me and what fabrics you’ve chosen. As a teacher and designer, it’s always so interesting to see how distinctive a pattern can look depending on fabric selection.
A couple of years ago, I was teaching a holiday wallhanging class. As the students were getting settled, I mentioned that I was looking forward to seeing their fabrics. One by one, each of them brought out the same kit they’d purchased in the shop – so much for diversity!
Here are my two samples of the February block. Click here to download the instructions for Block 2 or click to visit our pattern library. I’ve added a Setting Diagram for anyone who is interested in a preview of the finished quilt. If you’re just getting started, all of the monthly block instructions will be available in our pattern library.
For my February blocks, I used three fabrics, alternating two fabrics for the center two-patch units and the third for the side strips. If you decide to do the same, you can save time constructing the center units by sewing a 2½” x 40″ strip of both fabrics together, and cross-cutting the strip set every 2½” to yield the 15 two-patch units needed to complete the three blocks.
Have you noticed that I’ve kept the values of my fabrics fairly consistent within the blocks? I plan to continue this for the entire quilt. Having said that, I’ve seen similar patterns done very successfully with lights, mediums, and darks within the same block.
I’ve chosen to use the same fabric combination for all three of my blocks each month. You certainly can mix them up and make each block unique, especially if you’re making a scrappy quilt. Another option is to limit a block to one color. My friend Allison chose a jelly roll in Moda’sHometown line by Sweetwater, which features grays, reds, taupes, yellows, and creams. Since she’s chosen cream for her sashing, she’s going to save the strips that read cream for another project, and feature a single color per block. This is another very appealing design option.
Here’s a lovely little (6″ x 12″) valentine that you can make for yourself in a single afternoon…so easy and so much fun that you’ll probably want to make more than one. It’s a thoughtful gift for a family member or friend to mark a special occasion–a birthday, engagement, bridal shower, or anniversary–or even, depending upon your choice of fabric and embellishment, to use as a ringbearer’s pillow.
This is a great project for using those bits of “exotic” fabric and beautiful trims, beads, and buttons that are so tempting at the quilt and craft shops and shows, and so perplexing when we get them home! Best of all, you don’t need much of anything. A little extravagance goes a long way.
From background fabric, cut 1 piece, 6 1/2″ x 6 1/2″.
From complementary fabric, cut 2 side panels, 3 1/2″ x 6 1/2″.
From heart fabric, cut 4 hearts using the Boudoir Heart Pattern; if you plan to hand applique, add a scant 1/4″ when cutting the fabric hearts.
From backing fabric, cut 2 pieces, 6 1/2″ x 8″.
You’ll also need a 6″ x 12″ pillow form; embellishments, trims, and decorative threads as desired; and scraps of lightweight fusible web if you plan to fuse the hearts as I did. (Instructions appear later in the post if you prefer to make your own pillow form.)
1. Fold the background square in half horizontally and vertically; press lightly. Center one heart on each crease line, points to the center. Use your preferred method to applique the hearts to the background. I fused the hearts using lightweight fusible web, and finished the edges with a straight stitch and metallic thread. Easy, easy, easy!
2. Using a 1/4″ seam, sew the appliqued square between the 3 1/2″ x 6 1/2″ side pieces; press toward the side pieces. This completes the basic pillow front.
3. Now comes the fun! Embellish the pillow front as desired. I stitched beads and silk leaves to the appliqued block, and garnished the center with a decorative button and my trusty glue gun. I also topstitched a jacquard ribbon over a lace-edged satin ribbon and added them to both sides of the appliqued square.
1. Turn under one 6 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.
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.
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). Insert the pillow form, and you’re all set!
To Make a Pillow Form
Cut 2 pieces of muslin, 6 1/2″ x 12 1/2″. Place right sides together. Stitch around the perimeter with a 1/4″ seam, leaving a 6″ 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.
Here’s an up-close look at my second take on this versatile little pillow: same pattern and instructions, just different fabrics and embellishments, and a slightly different layout.
For this version, I folded the background block on the diagonal in both directions (rather than vertically and horizontally) to create guidelines for the alternate placement of the heart appliques, and I embellished the pillow with two layers of ribbon, oval pearl beads, and a narrow satin bow.
If you’re looking for a good book on basic pillow construction, as well as lots of ideas for simple-yet-stylish decorative pillows, I highly recommend Oh Sew Easy Pillowsby the dynamic mother-daughter team, Jean and Valori Wells. This colorful, 64-page book includes 29 projects, or pillow “recipes.” I particularly love the chapter called “Decorative Details,” which features nicely illustrated, step-by-step instructions for flanged edges, ruffles, cording, piping, and more.
On the subject of books, congratulations to Evelyn O’Brien, winner of Gwen Marston’s book, 37 Sketches, from my January 27 post. Evelyn, if you’ll email us with your mailing address at email@example.com, we’ll have your autographed copy on its way from Gwen asap!
By the way, I was intrigued by the comment from Deborah, in which she noted that she has been making a series of little 3″ x 5″ collages per my May 6 (2011) post. Has anyone else out there been experimenting with this creativity exercise? If so, please let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to hear about and see what you are doing.
Hello again. Here we are in Part 3 of my color journey using Joen Wolfrom’s 3-in-1 Color Tool. If you are new to our blog, you may want to take a few minutes to read Parts 1 and 2.
I spent the past two weeks digging through stacks of fabric and visiting several local quilt shops in search of what I call the “muddy” colors that will play well with the other fabrics I have selected. My goal in adding these tones to my palette is to help diminish the brightness of my original three prints. The tool was helpful in allowing me to narrow down the search and select my favorites.
After going through this process, I have quite a large selection of fabrics (lights, darks, pure colors, and tones) to choose from. I wanted to take you through the process of collecting fabric for a particular color scheme, but unless you are making a very scrappy quilt, which I often do, you will want to narrow down the selection.
I think most quilters start with a pattern and then begin the process of choosing fabrics. I decided to experiment with the Memory Star pattern.
I like this block not only because it offers many color opportunities, but also because it allows for some interesting secondary designs when the blocks are joined together. You only need to make one block to see these often-unexpected and exciting secondary designs.
To preview the secondary designs that form when multiple blocks in these fabrics are joined together along the sides, simply fold two opposite sides of the block into the center.
For a preview of the secondary designs that form where blocks meet in the corners, simply fold each of the corners into the center of the block and pin.
Auditioning your block this way also gives you an opportunity to make simple changes, perhaps alternating corner fabrics to produce even more interest. Look at the following photos to see how a simple adjustment in fabric placement changes the secondary designs.
Thanks so much for joining me on this color journey. I hope you have found it helpful and that it encourages you to play with the 3-in-1 Color Tool and to experiment with fabrics and colors that you may not have yet explored.
As I mentioned in the first post in this series, if you are interested in a more in-depth study of color, I encourage you to follow Joen Wolfrom on her new blog, Playing with Color. I promise you a wealth of information and inspiration.
Until next time, happy sewing!
P.S. – Before signing off I want to show you just one last sample. This has been a fun process. I think I will be playing more with these fabrics. Be sure to check back to see the full quilts.
Heidi’s made her mark on Etsy offering fine art prints and handmade décor called Good Will Bunting, but it’s her photographic skills that have given her an enviable edge in online commerce and made her a go-to resource for photography tips.
The bottom line here: I LOVE Heidi’s book! It’s my new blogging bible. Seriously.
It’s one thing to write a post, quite another to take the images that capture the spirit of a tale, illustrate a technique, or showcase handiwork. Who will be tempted to read a post if the photos don’t sell the message? (Much less spend precious bucks for a handcrafted item that isn’t drool-worthy.)
Of all the hurdles to setting up and running a collaborative blog like ours, photo taking has been among our toughest weekly challenges. Enter Heidi’s instructional guide complete with do-it-yourself accessories and real-world insight from featured artists. I’ve hopes that I can close the gap between my creative ambitions and technical skills now that I’ve perused the book and experimented with her suggestions.
While Heidi’s book tends to focus on photographing smaller crafts and fashion, her insights are equally appropriate for those of us who want to showcase quilts. Luckily, blog tour hosts can query visiting authors so I asked Heidi for advice when photographing quilts. She gave me so much great information that I’m splitting the details into two posts. Check back Friday, February 17 for the next installment–she’ll be covering flat shots of quilts.
What advice do you have for photographing large-scale items, like quilts?
I think in situ and neutral backgrounds are two great options for styling quilts. In situ styling (also known as lifestyle or on-site styling) includes homey settings such as a living room or bedroom, on a wall, draped over a sofa, or folded and stacked on a chair, etc. Choose an uncluttered, not-too-personal setting, moving the prop nearer to the window to take advantage of natural light, if necessary.
Outdoor settings can be lovely, too; just make sure that the lighting is soft and the scene is relevant to the object. For example, you wouldn’t normally hang your quilt over the verandah, but you might drape it over a chair.
Neutral backgrounds in whites, soft grays, and natural colors will let the beautiful detail, color, and patterns of a quilt do all the talking. Neutral styling can also include walls, but choose walls without distracting details. Combining the two together, that is, a neutral background with a simple but relevant in situ prop, can give you a clean and contemporary result, similar to what you will often see in higher-end home décor stores, catalogs, and websites.
Using a white wall against a white or concrete floor and one or two simple but classic props, such as a beautiful chair or hanger makes a high-impact visual statement. Photographing a quilt that is laid out on a bed won’t allow the full pattern to show, but it will still give the viewer a good idea of the pattern and composition.
Try shooting your photo from eye-level or slightly below and consider framing a side-on view to the bed or diagonally across the bed’s surface from one of the bottom corners, depending on the room layout and quilt design. Check the book for tips on showing the texture of the fabrics that your quilt is made from. H.A.
Now about that book giveaway . . . Interweave Press is generously offering a copy of Heidi’s book to one of our readers. You know the drill: leave a comment by Friday, February 10 for the random drawing and I’ll announce the winner in my next scheduled post the following Friday, February 17.
REMINDER: The Heartfelt Valentine challenge also ends on Friday, February 10–I’m working on the prizes so you work on your valentines! Click here for challenge details and our Gallery preview.