My One Hour Challenge – Part 2 plus a Giveaway

It’s curious to me that sometimes I have to schedule a play date in my sewing room in order for things to get done. I guess this is just a sign of busy times. Fortunately it’s not always like this!

I’m just now getting back to playing with the charm packs and floral fabrics that I started in my last post. In case you missed it, here’s a quick recap and details of my process.

I started with a charm pack (5″ squares) of solid Kona Cotton fabrics by Robert Kaufman. I separated the solid fabrics and then paired them with some floral fabrics from my collection.

6combos

I set aside one of the six solid fabrics from each group. Then used my new 20-degree wedge ruler to cut the remaining solid squares into fabric wedges. I got 2 fabric wedges from each square. There was a bit remaining that I decided not to use in this project.
charmcut3

charmcut1

charmcut2

 

After cutting, there were 10 fabric wedges from each group. I arranged nine and then sewed them together to make half of a circle.

Wedges

The next step is to make a straight cut along the edge of the three inner fabric wedges. I placed the completed half circle on my cutting mat and used a ruler to determine the distance from the straight, left-hand edge of the circle to the outer edges of the three inner fabric wedges.

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Cut the excess.

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Turn the fabric on the mat and make two additional cuts, as shown.

 

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It will now look like this.

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Next, I straightened the top edge even with the lowest point of the curve.

charmwedges1

charmwedges

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I cut the squares that were set aside earlier, as shown in the photo.

corners

These are sewn to the bottom corners, and then trimmed to size.

Trimming

 

Next, I cut a floral piece of fabric for the top of the block and joined the two halves together.

Fullblock

 

I did the same for the remaining combos. Here are the finished blocks. My next step will be deciding what to do with them. . . I see another play day in my future.

Finishedblocks

I must share with you that after my previous post on this challenge, I received a comment from my friend Anita Grossman Solomon, that she too had been playing with the charm pack of Kona solids that she received in her goodie bag at the same Craftsy event. Not only was she playing with the solids, but also combining them with large floral prints . . . what are the chances?

I asked Anita if I could share her blocks with all of you. Here you can see another simple use of the solids squares combined with beautiful floral fabrics.

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Like myself, Anita too has a new class on Craftsy, “Quick Techniques for Classic Blocks: Wrenches, Stars and Twists”. She shares lots of innovative tips for cutting and block construction. If anyone can simplify the process, it would be Anita . . . that’s the name of her game. Please visit her website to learn more about her books, patterns and workshops. To preview her online class with Craftsy, simply click here.

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My new 20-degree wedge rulers just arrived. I’d like to send one along with my new table runner pattern to one of our readers. Please just leave me a comment by Friday April 22nd, letting me know what you would like to play with wedge rulers. I will announce the winner with my next post.

Ruler

 

Blooming Wedge Table Runner by Laura Nownes
Blooming Wedge Table Runner by Laura Nownes

Until next time, happy creating everyone!

Laura Signature

 

 

 

 

Quiltcon 2016 – More Than Just a Quilt Exhibit

Pine Burr Quilt (close-up) by Tara Faughnan, photography by Carol Van Zandt.
Pine Burr Quilt (close-up) by Tara Faughnan, photography by Carol Van Zandt.

Awesome. Inspiring. Encouraging. Just a few words that pop into my head when I think of this year’s Quiltcon West, from last month in Pasadena, California. There are a lot of blogs, Instagram and Facebook sites that are covering the quilts in the show, including our own Carol Van Zandt, who will be posting photos in categories over the next few weeks. You can see her first in a series of Quiltcon posts here: The Plaid Portico. I will leave the quilt photography to the experts, and instead, share my own personal experience with this year’s show.

What I enjoyed the most about Quiltcon West, would have to be the camaraderie. The warmth and fellowship that I encountered was apparent throughout the entire show. Whether I was walking the show floor, sitting in a lecture, or standing in line for a morning latte, it was refreshing to enjoy the friendly vibe . Everyone I met was simply happy to be there, be part of the experience and take it all in. I made so many new friendships by happenstance. Each one, an opportunity to discover another spectrum of our quilting community.  And it was a lovely four days to catch up with old friends.

The vendors this year were spectacular. Each booth had so many jewels to discover. My suitcase came home stuffed to the weight limit. One booth in particular kept drawing me back in. I wanted to share a little about it. Purl & Loop, a contemporary needlecraft business that focuses on needle felting and weaving kits with the busy life of a maker in mind.2016-02-20 11.54.04

I remember meeting and chatting with the owner of Purl & Loop, Angela Smith, at Quiltcon 2015. I loved her needle felted bowl kits, but didn’t take one home, knowing myself well enough to not add another unfinished project to my list. Well – my friend, Gina Chang, of Wooden Gate Quilts did – and I have spent the past year admiring her lovely bowls every time I visit her quilt shop! Regretting my decision of last year, I was not going to make the same mistake twice.

PL bowls

So, I headed into the Purl & Loop booth, and immediately was taken back by the soothing, calming effect their booth had among the hustle and bustle of all the other vendor booths. It was airy, inviting and draped in linen. Ahhhh, breathe, relax.

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The textures and colors of the wool, aside the warmth of the wood was simply inviting. I just wanted to savor every place my eyes gazed.

PL sample 4

PL sample 2

PL sample 1

Angela Smith and her assistant Missy Bosch, were so much fun to get to know. Their work is beautiful and they truly enjoy what they are doing.

Missy and Angela

It made me remember my college days, when I would spend hours and hours on a floor loom. I used to say it was my therapy for all of my other stressful assignments.

PL sample 5

But wait! What is this? A Stash Blaster Birch Weaving Loom! Seriously? This is amazing! 
PL lg loom

This one came home with me. I can’t wait to get started! Especially when I saw the creative materials that Missy used in her weavings – paper, ribbon, tulle – this really could be a stash buster!
PL sample 3

While I was busy discovering the looms, Gina was busy discovering their newest product, needle felted tree kits. Word has it, you will see these for retail at Wooden Gate Quilts soon!
Angela and Gina

Oh my gosh, I better get started making bowls and weavings quick, so I can move on to these adorable trees!

PL Trees

I had better be off! I have got work to do!

Have a great week,

Pati

 

Are You a Collector?

HeartsI wonder if you are smiling as I am at the title of this post? Of course I’m a collector and I’m guessing that if you are a quilter, sewer, knitter, crafter or maker in any art form, you too have a large collection of supplies to support your passion. In this case, I’m not referring to the obvious collection of fabric, threads, yarns, etc. but other objects that you choose to collect, just because you love them and most importantly, they make you happy. I’m curious to know what constitutes a collection, 3 or more items, how did the collection begin and what inspires us to collect?

When I was a child, I remember my parents giving me a folder for collecting pennies. I was initially intrigued and made several trips to the bank to exchange paper money for rolls of pennies, hoping to be lucky enough to find an older, sought-after coin.  Unfortunately, I had neither the patience nor the luck, and soon lost interest.

During my college days, I was drawn to ladybugs. I loved finding them in unsuspecting places. They always made me happy. I purchased a small painted one and kept it in my pocket. For some reason, it brought me comfort. Apparently, the word got out and I started receiving all sorts of ladybug inspired gifts. Here’s a peek at some of the ladybug items you  would find hiding around my house.

Ladybugs

It was the ladybug that inspired “Ladybugs on Parade”, the first design in the From Me to You pattern line, which I designed with Diana McClun.

"Ladybugs on Parade" pattern designed by Diana McClun and Laura Nownes.
“Ladybugs on Parade” pattern designed by Diana McClun and Laura Nownes.

I recently acquired a portion of my mother’s hummel collection. It got me thinking about how my mother got started collecting these figurines and why they were so precious to her. I remember her telling me that she received her first one as a wedding gift, in 1952.

This wedding gift inspired my mother to start collecting Hummels.
This wedding gift inspired my mother to start collecting Hummels.

I have no idea how long it was before she either purchased or received another one. I only know that through the years, she received many more as birthday and Christmas gifts. My siblings and I would hunt for the perfect one to add to her growing collection. It was always a sure bet that she would love the chosen figure and proudly display it in a curio cabinet devoted specifically to this collection.

A small sampling of my mother's Hummel collection.
A small sampling of my mother’s Hummel collection.

As sweet as these are, they are not something I would be inspired to purchase. However, my newly acquired collection will always be dear to my heart, knowing how much they meant to my mother.

In addition to my favorite ladybug collection, I have small collections of wooden houses, teacups and ceramic teapots and mailboxes.

Wooden houses

Mailboxes & teapots

Pati has a small collection of antique Oriental pan irons. “Pan irons were used for smoothing silks by putting hot coals or sand in them, then moved in a circular motion. Each iron was decorated differently to tell it’s own story. I only have a few of them, because I have never found an interesting way to display them.” Pati explains.

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Pati also has a collection of hearts that hang on a wall. She says she doesn’t exactly have a theme. But each one has a special meaning or memory attached to it.

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Jennifer Rounds, one of our former SHWS writers, says “I love blue and white pottery, and lately, I am a fan of bowls and plates. Blue and white is so clean and pure.”

Blue and white bowls. Collection of Jennifer Rounds.
Blue and white bowls. Collection of Jennifer Rounds.
Blue and white bowls. Collection of Jennifer Rounds.
Blue and white bowls. Collection of Jennifer Rounds.

 

photo taken from pressedglassandgoblets.com
photo taken from pressedglassandgoblets.com

I chatted with my students yesterday about their own collections. It was interesting to hear their stories and learn what inspired them to hunt for their treasured items.  Some of the obvious to me were thimbles, buttons, teapots, typewriters, bells and hearts. The most fascinating, and one I was not familiar with, was a crystal spooner. I quickly did a google search to find the following. “A popular collectible today, the spooner or spoon holder, provided as much symbolic value as function for Victorian society. The prominently displayed spoons were a clear sign of ready hospitality, as well as a status symbol for the increased affluence among the expanding middle class who could now afford silver spoons, or at least a good facsimile.” (patternglass.com) Hmmm, I just might have to keep my eyes out for these. However, would it mean I would also need to start a collection of vintage spoons? Could be fun!

We love hearing your stories, so please feel free to share the most interesting and/or unusual thing you have ever collected, and tell us what inspired you to begin the collection?

 

Happy Creating!

Laura Signature

 

 

 

 

Craft Napa – In Search of My Creative Spark

Crafting a Life - Craft NapaI spent the first few days of the new year attending the very first Craft Napa, an amazing, three day retreat in Napa Valley. Craft Napa is the creation of Pokey Bolton, founder of Quilting Arts and Cloth Paper Scissors magazines. Pokey moved to Napa Valley with the dream of hosting a retreat for those driven to create. She invited inspiring instructors, organized a lovely venue and put it out to the quilting and art world.

When I heard about Craft Napa, I knew it was exactly what I needed. I have been feeling a bit lost the past year or so, creatively speaking and had been looking for a new direction in what I make. I had just finished reading Carrie Bloomston‘s book, The Little Spark, 30 Ways to Ignite Your Creativity, and although the list of instructors was quite enticing, I decided that spending three days with Carrie might be the perfect way to begin the new year. To understand why, well, it would probably be easiest to suggest you take a moment to read her bio, here on her website.

I knew I missed the feeling of creating with my hands, rather than always going to the sewing machine. I missed holding a paintbrush or sketching with a pen. But it had been so long since I had done this, to be honest, I didn’t even know how to begin. Which is why I read her book.

The Little Spark by Carrie Bloomston

The Little Spark is a wonderful book that guides you through finding (or in my case, rediscovering) your creative energy. Carrie’s workshops were filled with activities that allowed us to play, explore and simply make. We worked quickly, and sometimes with our eyes closed, which was actually quite freeing for me, because it didn’t allow me to “think” about what to do. We ripped paper, we glued, we painted, and we drew.

Craft Napa workshop

There is something lovely about making without planning. The unexpected happens. The end result becomes secondary to enjoying the process and simply embracing the moment. It felt wonderful to just let the paint flow, and watch the textures and layers begin to appear. The two samples in the center are my attempts with layering paint. The others are samples are from my fellow students. I wish I had names to credit them with their work – aren’t they beautiful?paintings from a craft napa workshop

I had not picked up a piece of charcoal in 30 years, and yet, I had this comfortable feeling rush over me as we were asked to do quick, charcoal sketches of Carrie as she held some very graceful yoga poses. The end result? Ok, maybe not quite Edgar Degas – but it was such a special moment for me, I didn’t care.

charcoal sketches by pati fried

Just for that moment, I was back in art school, where my spark was once a full flame.

Our final project was to make a collage, a chance to use all the tools and techniques that we had worked on throughout the course. Mine is the third from the left, with the white background.

students work, craft napa workshopAgain, I wish I had the names of the other artists to share with you. Each one is so unique and interesting.

students work, craft napa workshop

students work, craft napa workshop

Every collage had a story to tell, which we shared as a group on the last day. It was fascinating to hear the thought process from each student. Carrie’s supportive critiques warmed my heart. Her excitement and joy in viewing each piece made stepping out of my comfort zone downright fun . I loved hearing her comments to all the students. It caused me to take a second look and see something that I would not have noticed otherwise.

Carrie is on the right, sporting an apron from her fabric collections, Paint, a line she designed for Windham Fabrics.
workshop, craft napa

Our glorious weekend ended with a visit to Pokey’s Barn, which is not just an ordinary barn, but actually, an awesome art studio. The barn was all dressed up for the occasion  in a perfect combination of art, textiles and wine in honor of celebrating the success of the first Craft Napa. It was a chance to relax and visit with all the amazing people that were a part of this special event.

craft napa

And, an opportunity for me, to thank Carrie for such an inspiring experience. Carrie’s energy and passion as a teacher were instrumental in my rediscovering my spark. I went to Napa with an open mind, willing to try something new and different. . .

carrie bloomston and pati fried

I came home from Napa, with my eyes wide open, ready to do something new and different. Thank you for that, Carrie! And thank you Pokey, for following your dream to share Craft Napa with us. I loved every moment of it.

 

Giveaway

And now for the Giveaway Winner for last week’s

Good Hair Day blog hop!

This was really hard – there were so many hilarious stories that our readers shared on their worst hair day. If you haven’t taken the time to read through them, you should! So many perms, Dorothy Hamill haircuts, blue and pink hair debacles – I debated (and laughed) long and hard as to who should be the winner of the Good Hair Day charm pack. But, I had to chose one – so the winner is. . .

Frances Quigley, who used to rest her head on the ironing board, while her sister’s ironed her hair. Frances, you definitely deserve a charm pack! You may have invented the flat iron! I will be contacting you to get an address to mail your gift to you. Congratulations!

Have a wonderful week everyone!

Pati

Starting out the New Year – Creatively!

Happy New Year everyone! I hope you are enjoying these first few days of January. Both Laura and I are starting off the new year creatively.

Retreat

Laura is off to spend a few days quilting with friends on an annual quilting retreat.

2016-01-06 14.59.21I am in Napa Valley, attending the very first Craft Napa.  Obviously, my pup, Betsy was not as excited as I am about this.

So, we will get back on track next week with lots of new and interesting blog posts. For now, we invite you to follow along on Instagram and Facebook to see what creative fun we can get into over the weekend!

Click here for Facebook at See How We Sew and  Pati Fried

Click here for Instagram at See How We Sew and Pati Fried.

Have a great week and see you soon!

Pati

Tumbling Diamonds Block – Improvisational (Re)Design – Part 3

Untitled-1I hope you have been following the past few weeks with See How We Sew, as we continue to explore quilt block design. Laura passed the baton on to me this week to see what I would do with the Tumbling Diamond Block that she found in one of her old favorite quilt books, The Quilters"Tumbling Diamonds" quilt featured in the book, The Quilters.

Before getting started – can we just take a moment to appreciate Laura’s knowledge and instruction in her posts the past 2 weeks? I learned so much! I hope you did too! And what about the cool design created when she used the mirror to show her block in repeat? Just saying . . . it was a real eye opener for me. If you missed her posts, take a moment to go back and catch up on all the fun:

Introduction Video

Drafting a Tumbling Diamond Quilt Block

Constructing a Tumbling Diamond Quilt Block

I loved the fabrics Laura chose for this challenge. But, I was drawn to the very minimalist block in the second row of the inspiration quilt. So, I decided to add solid white to the combination to help achieve that same feel.FabricI guess you could call today’s blog post, Tumbling Diamonds Part 3, The Sequel, or maybe even Technical Block Design Goes Rogue. I began as I often do – by cutting and sewing a few curves, kind of like a little bit of warm up to get me started. If you are interested in learning this technique, check out our video, Cutting and Sewing Curves Tutorial.

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I followed Steps 2 and 3 of Laura’s instructions to construct my diamonds. By adding the curved strips, my diamonds took on a life of their own, though. I see this as a good thing – I want to focus on movement and a whole lot of wonky direction.

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I knew that the block needed to be completely improvisational to obtain this. My challenge was, how to keep the free form construction when the original block had so many angles and y seams? It just wasn’t as obvious to me as deconstructing a Nine Patch or Log Cabin would be. I decided that the answer was to construct my block in three respective rows, which would allow plenty of room to emphasize those wonky angles to my diamonds.

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Once I created my three rows, the next step was to attach them. Remember my warm-up excercise? I went back to cutting more curves, this time, the angles of the diamonds dictated the shape of my curve.  This made it fairly simple to attach the three rows.

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Because of all the random angles and curves I added into the block, it definitely did not end up square at this point.
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Adding a border to square up my block was an option. I simply relied on curved piecing again to accomplish this step.2015-09-24 18.47.02

The busy print added a lot of movement, but the border was not exactly what I had in mind.  This is where I went a little rogue. I wanted to think outside of the box on this re-design and here it is. . .2015-10-16 09.14.01

Why not trim the busy print down to 1/2″, then turn it under to look almost like a binding? Just enough to show a peak of the busy lines in the fabric.

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Then finish as an applique block with a background block. By doing this, the block takes on a totally different look, depending on the background choice. It also keeps the wonky movement that I was trying to achieve. Which one do you think works the best? Leave a comment and let me know!

Untitled-1

That was fun, Laura!  I guess I need to come up with a challenge to hand off to you next time.

In the mean time, Carol Van Zandt has had her camera out and taking photos of all the wonderful quilt events that have been happening in our area. We will be sharing the links over the next few weeks. Be sure to check out her blog, The Plaid Portico for a lovely photo post Freddy Moran at Quilting in the Garden.

Have a great week and keep on quilting!

Pati

Tips for Constructing a Tumbling Diamonds Quilt Block – Part 2

FinaleditIn my last post, I shared some tips for drafting and cutting pieces for a Tumbling Diamonds quilt block. As some of you suggested in the comments, it may have been easier to paper-piece this pattern. This may certainly be the case, for those of you who enjoy paper piecing. You will however, need to start with the drafted pattern and then cut into sections required for paper piecing. For those of you, like myself, who like traditional piecing, I am including some tips for construction of this block. the more I work and play with it, the more I just love it. I can see it in many fabric and design options.

Here’s the block, now let’s get started.

Tumbling Diamonds quilt block
Tumbling Diamonds quilt block.

If you missed my previous post and would like to follow along, click here to get all of the cutting instructions.

Step One: Sew the A-1 and A-2 strips together lengthwise. To avoid waste when cutting, offset the strips 2″, as shown.

Offset Fabric strips A-1 & A-2.
Offset Fabric strips A-1 & A-2.

Step 2: Use the 45-degree angle marking on your ruler to cut diamond units. The cut width of the units is the same measurement used to cut the individual strips. The photo shows a 2″ wide cut.

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Step 3: Place the diamond units exactly as shown, and then use pins to secure at the center and near the ends. Be consistent with the placement of the fabrics in all four pieced diamond units. In my sample, the navy fabric is always at the ends. Sew two units together. It is important to note that the stitching line begins and ends where the two units touch. Press the seam first on the wrong and then right side to complete the pieced diamond.

 

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Step 4: Sew the pieced diamonds to the fabric B triangles. Note the exact placement of the pieces when stitching, as there should be extensions on both ends.

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Step 5: Sew the new units to the fabric C center square. It is important to begin and end the stitching line 1/4″ from the edge of the C square, as shown and indicated by the pencil line on the fabric. Take a few backstitches at the beginning and end to secure the stitches. Repeat with all four sides.

Centersquare

 

Step 6: The final block construction joins the side pieces at the corners….yeah, y-seams!! The most important thing to remember in this construction is to never stitch beyond the 1/4″ lines, as shown.

yseam2

 

Step 7: Give your completed block a final press, first on the wrong and then right side.

Let’s look at some design options for this block. 

Without having to make multiple blocks, you can preview what four will look like together. Often times, the secondary designs formed where blocks are joined can be just as interesting or perhaps even more so that the original block. I used two mirror squares that are taped together to form a hinge. I am just loving this block and plan to play with more colors and fabric options.

 

Two mirrors joined together.
Two mirrors joined together.

 

4block mirror

 

Here’s what the block looks like if side triangles are added. An alternate block is created joining them together. I think it would be fun to use a variety of fabrics for the corner triangles.

Side triangles form the look of alternate blocks.
Side triangles form the look of alternate blocks.

 

I think I need to play more with this block. I hope you might feel the same. Up next, Pati will share her interpretation of this blocks, using the same fabrics. I can’t wait to see what she comes up with. Be sure to join us.

In the meantime, happy creating everyone!

Laura Signature

New Tutorial Series Launches at SHWS: Inspiration and Helpful Tips for Quilters

Pati and I are excited to share with you our first, of hopefully many video tutorials. In keeping with our blog name, we want you to actually “see” how we work with fabric, color, design and inspiration. Please check back with us as we have fun sharing our teaching tips on many subjects.

 

Take care everyone and enjoy!

Laura Signature

 

 

 

Sneak a Peek at a New Birdhouse Quilt from Laura and Pati’s Sew Day

Today was a sew day for Laura and I. We are teaching a guild workshop in September on the Winter Brrrd Houses quilt. We thought it would be fun to experiment with making a different version of the quilt.

Laura brought some Kaffe Fasset fabrics and this wonderful white-on-white background fabric. I’m not sure if it was the white against the saturated color, or the strong graphics against the organic florals – but something really popped between this fabric combination. I had a stash of Moda Grunge, along with Robert Kaufman Quilters’ Linen that were just begging to be added into the mix. And so, with no preconceived notions in mind, we decided to start by making two houses each.

houses

Winter Brrrd Houses – Pattern Available Soon!

The houses were oh-so-cute, but we were a bit befuddled about what fabrics to add into the background plan. As you can see in the original quilt, the background represented a winter scene with drifts of snow. As much as we liked the background we chose, it just didn’t look right with any of the grays in my stash.

So we simply switched seasons!

Striped posts against a spring green hillside – now that works!

And so we’re off and running. It’s funny how things work out. Neither of us knew where we were headed with this quilt, but we just kept sewing until the ideas surfaced. It’s so fun to collaborate on quilts!

If you are interested in watching the progress on this quilt, I will put some photos up on Facebook Page and Instagram as it develops. If you’re not connected with us – now is a good time to do so.

See you Friday!

Pati