If you are a regular follower of our blog, you are probably a bit surprised that I am stepping out of my comfort zone of quilting on into the world of sewing clothes. Well, me too, but, there are so many new fabrics coming onto the market lately, that I have been tempted to try sewing clothes for myself. Past attempts have not been pretty, but I keep thinking that all this quilting knowledge has to account for something, right?
So, while at Quiltcon a few weeks ago, I spent some time in the Indigo Junction booth oogling over the great designs and debating whether I should give it another try. Before I knew it, I was getting a pep talk from two of the Indigo Junction gals on how I could totally do this! I left with their book, The Magic Pattern Book and thier Urban Tunic pattern. I came home determined to do this, and do this right, and wear what I made, with pride.
As soon as I arrived home, I received an email from Indigo Junction inviting me to participate in their Crossroads Blog Tour introducing the gorgeous new colors.
Ok, if I’m going to do this, I may as well dive in and do it with an entire blog tour and put my results out there to the blogosphere. Talk about motivation to finish a project! So I chose the prettiest color ever – Cactus Flower, and committed myself to participate in the Tour.
Then the panic set in. Oh my gosh. What did I get myself into? Patterns? Waist measurements? Take a deep breath and think positive, girl. You were going to make it anyway, right?
Once I got started, it all fell in to place. The denim washed lovely and was so soft and nice to work with. It ironed like a dream. Stitching through the denim was effortless, or as SNL’s Mike Myers would say in his Coffee Talk skits, “like buttah”.
Ok, I obviously didn’t think to buy thread to match the fabric. That is not something I worry so much about when piecing 9 patches.
Following the pattern was a lot easier than I thought it would be. I had my tunic constructed in no time at all. As I worked with it, I kept thinking of all the other things I could make with this fabric. It is such a great weight and has so many tempting colors.
Love the way the armholes fell into place. I have to say, I was a bit nervous. I have not had the best of luck with that on past projects. And the pockets? Those were downright fun to make! The only tweak I needed to make was to shorten the length to be able to wear it with jeans.
Perfect for running around town. I tried it out at the farmer’s market and with coffee with a friend.
It turned out crazy comfortable and just the right amount of sass for me. Love, love, love the color, too!
This is a first for me – being able to wear something in public that I made. I love this top! It is definitely a keeper! Thanks Indigo Junction for the encouragement, an easy to follow pattern – and your wonderful Crossroads Denim! I am excited to get started on my next project. Hmmmm, maybe something in the Mushroom Denim?
What would you make out of the Crossroads Denim? Leave a comment and I will pick one lucky winner to receive their own Urban Tunic pattern.
And . . . Indygo Junction is offering a discount code for blog tour readers. Get 20% off your purchase at by entering xroads20 at checkout on their website.
Check out all the amazing projects by the talented bloggers on the Crossroad Blog Tour. You will be glad you did!
A while back, I received a lovely bundle of P&B Textiles to play with. It was perfect timing, because Laura and I were just beginning our exploration with wedge rulers. New fabric and new quilty toys – now what could be better?
For my first project, I started with sewing up selected 2 1/2″ strips from Bella Suede and Suede Medley, along with one sweet little green print from the Blissful Moments line. Since I had no idea where I was going with this, I wanted to stay with a minimal color palette – to keep some control in the design. I chose a light to dark combination in greens and blues that had a gradating effect
Next, I cut my strips to a 20″ width and then proceeded to cut out wedges with a 24 degree wedge ruler that we were experimenting with from Quints Measuring Systems. I alternated up and down, so that I wouldn’t have any waste.
Then I was off to the design wall to see what I could come up with! This is definitely my favorite part of the process.
I liked alternating them, but my wedges seemed to blend into each other too much, so spacing them out helped to emphasize their shape more. Hmmm… That just might work. Now to repeat that for another row.
I added white strips between each wedge to give a crip, clean edge to the layout. .
Finish it off with white setting triangles and some borders. For my setting triangles, I just cut my wedges out of white and then sliced them in half lengthwise.
For quilting, I stitched some simple, straight lines with my walking foot. Almost finished, right?
Well, of course not. While I was quilting, I kept thinking about how cool some “Big Stitch” handwork would look. I could just follow the lines of the fabric strips in some coordinating threads to give it an interesting texture.
So, I guess you won’t be seeing a finished project quite yet. But, the good news is, it’s a beautiful sunny afternoon – I think I will just plop myself down outside and get started on the handwork! Wish you could join me!
A while back, I kept hearing about quick and fun ways to make blocks using unusual construction techniques. I would hear about one, then someone would say, “Oh -that reminds me of another one!” That’s when I started thinking it would be fun to put them all together into one quilt – and so I did.
It is appropriately named, Shortcuts!
Shortcuts! was designed so that it could easily be made with one layer cake, along with a few extra scraps, and a background fabric. Many of the blocks have a 3-dimensional aspect to them, which adds even more fun to the quilt. I taught this last spring in a workshop and the results were wonderful! I was surprised at how quickly the blocks went together. You can see some of the work here. Most of the students used a layer cake, so each quilt had a look completely different from the next.
At the end of January, I will be teaching the class again at Broadway Quilts in Sonoma, California. I wanted to make the quilt in a completely different color palette and a more contemporary style of fabrics to take with me. I used a colorful group of Grunge Basics, a selection from a layer cake called Comma by Zen Chic and a fabulous background fabric from Jennifer Sampou’s newest line,color:Full.
Same blocks, just a few tweaks on how many of each and a totally different placement.
This time, I chose to showcase the background fabric and use it for the centers of my snowball blocks. It completely changed the overall look, don’t you think?
Most of the blocks have a 3-dimensional element tucked in.
Awesome quilting by Kerry Reed. I love the back almost as much as the front.
I am always looking for a new way to finish off the center of a Dresden. This one adds a bit of a rustic, folk art feel to the quilt. I simply stacked and fused some circles and then raveled the edges.
I love to rework a quilt in different fabrics to see how much it can vary from one quilt to the next. This quilt is so fun to make, I could just keep going and going! I am now putting the finishing touches on the pattern for this quilt. I will let you know when it is ready.
Welcome to Day 5 of the Tidal Lace Blog Hop showcasingKim Andersson’s first collection with Windham Fabrics. We are so happy to be a stop on Kim’s tour!
I’ve known Kim for a few years–remember she was one of our guest bloggers, earlier this year–and I’ve had the pleasure of seeing Kim bring her beautiful drawings to life in Tidal Lace. The fabric line has a special place in my heart as it reminds me of my favorite beach getaway, the town of Bolinas, just north of San Francisco. And would you believe that Kim also visited Bolinas while working on Tidal Lace! (It is so special that locals have been known to remove the highway sign telling you how to get there!)
We designed A Day at the Shore for the Tidal Lace fabric line to capture a feeling of a day at the beach. Remember that moment when you unfold and flick your beach towel so it catches the wind and then floats down to a patch of sun-warmed sand? Grab your ice cold drink, sunscreen, and summer-time read . . . it’s beach time!
Like last week’s guest blogger Christine Barnes, I too have a strong liking for ombre fabric. While I absolutely love Christine’s deft hand with color and value play as she builds her blocks, my typical take on ombre is to use it to make flower petals for dimensional applique.
Clever cuts of fabric can yield petals kissed by sunlight at the tips and darker shadows where the petals grow from the flower stems (or the reverse as shown above). Or, also beguiling, bi-color petals which can be folded and shaped to form realistic flower buds.
That’s been my recurring task for much of the summer: cutting and sewing petals and leaves. No, not 90 days of flower making 24/7–I’m not that insane–a few hours here and there over three months preparing to make a dimensional appliqué floral still life.
Some quilting projects are piecing extravaganzas: pedal to the metal, innumerable passes of a rotary cutter through fabric, and sweating over a steaming iron. That’s not my way with dimensional appliqué quilts. The grueling part is the preparation–composing the still life is almost anti-climactic. Gotta say I’m about to take on that challenge; after weeks of labor I’m ready to roll. (But not ready to share yet–stay tuned!)
Congratulations to Monica, the winner of the giveaway goodies from Christine Barnes.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
August is the hottest month of the year in Japan. Not only is the temperature high, so is the humidity. Summer kimonos, known as yukata, are a common sight in Japan during these steamy summer days.
Yukata are informal, festive clothing that are worn to outdoor summer events.
Yukata are extremely popular today. Perhaps because they reflect a nostalgic reminder of summers past in Japan.
As with kimono, the general rule is that younger people wear bright, vivid colors and bold patterns, while older people wear dark, matured colors and dull patterns.
A child may wear a multicolored print and a young woman may wear a floral, while an older woman would confine herself to a traditional dark blue with geometric patterns. Men, in general, wear solid dark colors.
The fabrics are cotton, beautifully hand stenciled and dyed, with the designs showing on both sides. Traditionally, yukata fabrics were primarily made of indigo-dyed cotton, but today, a wide variety of colors and designs are available. The fabric is a standard kimono width of 14 inches. The fabric has a slightly crisp, but soft touch, and ranges from black to dark navy to indigo for the classic tones. The colors and designs will immediately draw you in!
Since the late 1990s, yukata have experienced a revival. Not only with the fashionistas . . .
. . . but with those passionate about unique textiles–including yours truly. Which leads me into my story for this week!
Vintage Japanese Yukata Cotton
These remarkable fabrics are from Okan Arts of Seattle Washington. My newfound obsession happened while attending a lecture and workshop with Patricia Belyea, owner of Okan Arts. Her 550-bolt-strong collection is a kaleidoscope of vintage Japanese yukata.
The beautiful green roll in the center of the photo above was the one that hooked me. I loved the free flowing brushstrokes of dark indigo, lavender, and gray.
Patricia is making it her mission to share this collection with others. Lucky us!!!
On Friday, I will chat with Patricia about her passion. I will also share a sampling of blocks created in the workshop I attended with her, plus photos of the beautiful quilts she has created to showcase these very special fabrics. Be sure to stop by to meet Patricia!
A special thank you to Darra, who spent many hours working out the fabric requirements for this project. Come back and visit us soon, Darra! We miss you already!
Finished Quilt Size: 53″ x 53″ (plus binding)
What You’ll Need (Fabric and Notions):
Along with basic sewing supplies, you’ll need the following fabrics and notions to make this quilt. Note:If you’d like to make just the center medallion as a smaller wallhanging, or the center block or one of the side panels as a pillow, you’ll need only the fabrics identified for those areas in the labeled photo below.
Fabric calculations are based on 40″ fabric width.
Fabric A: 5/8 yard for center square (cream)
Fabric B: 1/4 yard for framing strips (red-orange stripe)
Fabric C: 7/8 yard for inner setting triangles and Birdhouse blocks (turquoise)
Fabric D: 3/4 yard for side panels (taupe)
Fabric E: 1 yard for center wreath, panel strips, vines, stems, and leaves (green)
Fabric F: 1 1/8 yards for side panels (taupe/dots)
Fabric G: 5/8 yard for outer setting triangles (white)
Fabric K: 2 yards total for flower circle, dot, leaf, and birdhouse door appliqués (assorted brights)
Binding: 1/2 yard
Batting: 60″ x 60″
Backing: 3 1/2 yards
Lightweight fusible web: 3 1/2 yards (18″ wide)
Assorted threads to match appliqués
Black and white embroidery floss
The following photos show you the fabrics we used to make our version of the Quilt-Along quilt. We used the first group, Fabrics A – J, for backgrounds, framing strips, vines and center wreath, setting triangles, and corner birdhouse blocks. These fabrics include a number of “linen-y” solids and subtle tone-on-tone prints, with a few stripes and a coordinating polka-dot for visual interest.
The second group includes examples of the colorful prints that we used for the flower circles and other appliques. We recommend that you include some multicolored, large-scale prints as we did; you can fussy cut them for varying effects.
So let the fun begin! Jennifer will be starting us out with the center medallion as our first round of the Quilt-Along. Watch for Jennifer’s post at the end of May.
Right after I came on board See How We Sew last summer, conversations began to stir about designing a blog Quilt-Along. Darra, Laura, Jennifer, and I were excited to create something together to share with our readers. In reality, though, none of us were sure where to begin. A blank canvas is probably the hardest place to nurture inspiration, especially with a quartet of opinionated women. For us, a couple of little ideas sparked a true collaboration.
Before I reveal our wonderful Quilt-Along quilt, I thought it would be fun to share a bit of the creative process involved over the past few months and a behind-the-blog peek. So read on . . . and no scrolling ahead!!!!
In our first brainstorming session, we decided on a layout inspired by a quilt I made years ago, Baltimore Yo Yo’s.
At the time, Laura and Jennifer were totally in love with the fabric line, Collage by Carrie Bloomston, so our inspirational fabrics and color palette were easy decisions.
Jennifer was going through a “circle” phase then and so she suggested using circles as a recurring theme to give our quilt design continuity.
We began our project as a round-robin, building from the center and out. It was a given that our spherically motivated Jennifer should start us out with a center medallion. What an incredible job she did!
Next would be four rectangular panels to wrap around the center. Darra and I decided to work together on this. For variety, two panels were designed with simple vines of circular blossoms, while the latter two were designed with fuller clusters of blooms.
To finish our colorful, whimsical garden, Laura took over to add the setting triangles. As birds and birdhouses are a natural addition to a garden setting, Laura designed an adorable chirping bird and his birdhouse . . .
And then, she repeated it for every corner: there are no run-of-the-mill setting triangles for this project!
And this is how, dear readers, we came to create our whimsical Quilt-Along for See How We Sew. We hope you love it as much as we do. We also hope that you follow along over the next few months as we share our steps for creating . . .
Blackbirds & Blossoms – -Oh-La-La!
In Friday’s post, we will deliver the fabric requirements for the Quilt-Along. And then, each month, we will supply directions for each section and we will also share tips and tricks to bring your garden to life. Jennifer will begin our first round of the Quilt-Along at the end of May. Get your stash ready and mark you calendar.
Not interested in making the entire quilt? That’s okay! You might find inspiration for your own riff. We will be sharing ideas, projects and video tutorials along the way that focus on doable weekend projects using the individual blocks. So join us for all the fun! I can’t wait to get started! See you on Friday!
Announcing Our Lucky Winners!
The winners of the Modern Robe pattern from Laura’s post last week are: