Hi everyone! I just re-read Pati’s previous post (BTW don’t you just love her new work?!) and noticed in her last sentence that she is curious as to what Darci and I have been up to. So, Pati, to answer your question, I will share with you and all of our readers what’s up here in Laura’s studio. I chuckle as I write this, as currently “my studio” is a very small section of my living space. Things have shifted a bit since the kids have moved back in with us. Let’s leave this for another discussion. All is well . . .it’s just an adjustment. I love having them here!
A few months ago I purchased a Kafffe Fassett Collective Fall 2016 20 piece Sweet Design Roll. The 6″ wide strips were the perfect size for cutting fabric wedges with my new 20-degree wedge ruler.
My new class, 20-Degrees of Fabric play inspired me to make some new class samples. Here’s the (almost) end result.
I say almost because, as you can see, I have not yet filled in the centers of the pieced hexagons. The obvious choice might be to appliqué circles. Instead, I decided to try cutting and fusing leaves from these beautiful fabrics, Maple Stream by Westminster Fibers.
I fused a green one to the hexagon in the upper right-hand corner just to see if I liked the look. The interesting thing is, my students saw it as a marijuana leaf! How funny, I didn’t see it. Oh well, I’m in California and decided I’m going to use them anyway. They are maple leaves . . . and I love them : )
While teaching the construction of this quilt, I had an opportunity to discuss one of my favorite topics, grain line. Here’s a little tip that will help not only with this design but any other pattern that uses equilateral triangles (all sides being the same). The triangles are arranged as shown below and then joined together in horizontal rows.
Tip: In an equilateral triangle, there will be two sides cut on the bias and one side cut on the straight grain of the fabric. To prevent the rows from bowing and stretching, it is important to always place the side with the straight grain of the fabric even with the outer edge of the row (top or bottom). The other two sides of the triangle which contain the bias edges (lots of stretch) are in the center rather than along the outer edges. This is a simple detail but can save lots of grief during construction.
Thank you all for your patience in announcing the winners of the fabric bundles from the giveaway in my last post. I will notify the following readers shortly to get shipping information.
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.
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.
After cutting, there were 10 fabric wedges from each group. I arranged nine and then sewed them together to make half of a circle.
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.
Cut the excess.
Turn the fabric on the mat and make two additional cuts, as shown.
It will now look like this.
Next, I straightened the top edge even with the lowest point of the curve.
I cut the squares that were set aside earlier, as shown in the photo.
These are sewn to the bottom corners, and then trimmed to size.
Next, I cut a floral piece of fabric for the top of the block and joined the two halves together.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Since you already have access to the instructions to make the blocks, thanks to Janome, I thought we might discuss some tips for designing with solid fabrics. Because most quilt fabric companies now offer their own signature line of solids, there are so many options available to us, that it can be a bit daunting to know where and how to begin. So, let’s do that – start at the beginning.
When the fabric first arrived in the mail for our 100 Blocks project, Laura and I had a tough time deciding how to ration out our stash. Michael Miller’s Cotton Couture Fabrics are, as you may know by now, some of my favorites. I love the saturated colors, the wide range of color options and the oh-so soft hand of the fabric, which make it really enjoyable to work with. But, it was still a challenge to commit to a color palette for our blocks. We were working at a cutting table that happened to be holding a beautiful display of gladiolas. I looked up and realized that our color palette was right there in front of me in nature’s display!
It’s not always that easy, though. So, read on for a few great tips. Once you have omitted the need to balance the scales of prints, you will see that you have opened up so many opportunities to new design possibilities! But balance is still the operative word. The balance of color, texture, proportion and warmth in choosing solid fabrics are a key part of your design. Here are our tips – choose one or all, but be mindful of all of them as you work through your design.
Top 10 Tips for Quilt Designs with Solid Fabrics
1. Consider starting with an inspiration piece.This could be anything from a photograph to a ceramic pot, or a historical quilt. You are looking for something that inspires you emotionally, not literally. Draw from the color combinations that are used.
2. Be aware of texture, sheen and weave in the solids you are choosing. It may be a simple answer to choose from the same manufacturer’s line for consistency. But by mixing it up a bit in these three areas, you may be adding depth and interest to your final work. Check out all your options at your favorite quilt shops.
3. Choose a minimal color palette to create elements with striking graphic design. Consider the one and two color historical quilts and the strong graphic elements that they evoke. Think of the overall impact of the finished quilt and don’t get caught up in focusing on just the individual blocks.
4. Choose a multi-color palette to create a dynamic and exciting overall design. Or as, Gianni Versace once said, “less is a snore.” A multi-colored print is a great place to draw color inspiration from. Use the colored dots on the selvedge to shape your color palette. These are the manufacturer’s registration marks and are usually tried and true. Now, take a moment and look at the amount of each color used in the fabric design. Read on to # 5 . . . .
5. Explore proportions. You can control the interaction of color choices by size and placement. Solid fabrics have a greater visual impact than prints. Manipulate this with the interaction of large and small elements to create drama and effect.
6. Rely on the rules of color theory – Just as with prints, be aware of balancing the amount of light, medium and dark colors you choose. You will find solids in every hue, value, tint and shade.Line your stash up in a manageable order by one of these categories. Move them around, tweak the order and placement. Make sure that they all play well together.
7. Be aware of saturated colors vs. non-saturated colors. Saturation offers wide range of impact and can also play an important role in the final results. Use a large amount of a strong color for a wow factor, or just add a sliver of an unusual color for accent or interest.
8. Combine warm colors with cool colors.Warm colors tend to advance, while cool colors recede. Think of designing a room in your home. Would you be happy with a completely cool, blue bedroom? Adding a lavender lamp to your bedside may give just the touch of warmth needed. How about a sumptuous red dining room? A slate blue vase might be the perfect accent to offset the warm reds.
9. Add a repeating neutral to bring cohesiveness to the design-even if your neutral is red or turquoise. It will give consistency and flow to a busy design.
10. Consider negative vs. positive space. This could be a complete topic on it’s own . . . but in short, use negative space to your advantage, allowing a resting place between solid color elements. This allows each element and color to be appreciated. I think of it as the difference between a photo collage on a refrigerator vs. choosing a few precious photos to frame and hang on the wall. Each is wonderful in it’s own way, but you are looking at the refrigerator as one big photo essay, and the wall as individual moments in time.
Congratulations go to MoeWest, the winner of a copy of Laura’s book, Quilts! Quilts!! Quilts!!!, third edition. Laura will be in contact with you shortly to arrange shipping.
Laura and I want to wish you all a wonderful holiday season and a new year filled with peace, happiness and love. We will see you back here in 2016 for another year of fun with See How We Sew!
Greetings to all our regular readers and welcome to those of you new to our blog. Today I am excited to be participating in a Craftsy Blog Hop/Tour with several other Craftsy instructors. I’m pleased to be among this exciting line-up of instructors who will each be sharing a bit of information on their classes. On this tour you will find a variety of inspirational classes. Craftsy offers an abundance of other creative class choices as well, so be sure to check them out. Two of my personal favorites are baking (hmmm, what a surprise) and bread making. There is something for everyone – jewelry making, woodworking, painting, photography and so much more.
You will have an opportunity to visit each of the blogs, learn about the classes, and sign up, if interested. You will automatically be entered to win a FREE Craftsy class of your choice. You can find all the details below.
Here’s a bit about me and my Craftsy class, Improve Your Quilts: 37 Troubleshooting Techniques. As you may know, I’ve been quilting, writing and teaching since the early 80’s. I am happiest in the classroom and especially enjoy helping students problem solve some of the challenges that often occur. In my class I address many of the most common disappointments (I truly don’t like the word mistake) that can arise during the quilt making process. There are seven lessons that cover everything from fabric selection to binding.
Want to know how to avoid cutting those disappointing bent strips? It’s all in the preparation of your fabric. Take time to press the fabric, properly align the selvages and be sure the folded edge is without ripples before you make your first cut. This is no time to rush. Accurate cutting helps to prevent disappointments . . . and wasted fabric. Remember, success comes in the details.
Fabric selection … ah, yes. This seems to be one of the most challenging steps for many of us. There are so many wonderful bolts of fabric to choose from. How do I know where to start? I share several tips, including the use of Joen Wolfrom’s Ultimate 3-in-1 Color Tool. This tool includes 24 color cards plus and in-depth instructional guide to help make color planning easy. It’s both fun and user friendly. By the way, Joen also offers a color class on Craftsy.
Here’s the schedule and links to the participating blogs. Happy Hopping Everyone!
My first class with Craftsy was the FREE 2013 Block of the Month. It is always available. You can join the classroom by simply clicking on the image on the sidebar of this page.
Here’s how to enter the Craftsy giveaway.
Click here to purchase any of the classes from the instructors on the blog hop and you will be automatically entered to win any other class of your choosing for FREE at the conclusion of the blog hop. Winners will be chosen on December 14, 2015.
In addition to the Craftsy Giveaway, I would also like to send a signed copy of my most recent book, Quilts! Quilts!! Quilts!!!, third edition, to one lucky reader. Simply post a comment by end of day, December 14th, letting me know your favorite creative outlet (sewing, quilting, knitting, etc.) and I will put your name in the hat. I’ll announce my winner with my next post.
Finally, I want to thank so many of you for your heartfelt comments from my recent Paying it Forward post. I had a hard time selecting just one, so I decided to randomly pick the following 3 readers to each receive a yard of fabric from my stash: Brita, Jean and Carol Stickelmaier. I will be contacting you shortly. Pass it on everyone, you are all the best!
Oh yes, and just one more photo before I sign off, just because I’m such a lover of ladybugs, and couldn’t resist sharing.
I 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.
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:
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.I 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.
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.
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.
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.
Because of all the random angles and curves I added into the block, it definitely did not end up square at this point.
Adding a border to square up my block was an option. I simply relied on curved piecing again to accomplish this step.
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. . .
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.
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!
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.
In 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Earlier this week, I wrote in my post, A Little Happiness with Cotton Couture Solids, about the latest project I have been playing with. My paper pieced placemats were created to tell a color story using Michael Miller’s great collection of solids. As you can see, no two are alike, which made my job soooo much fun. It was as if I were making 4 different miniature quilts!
As complicated as they look – once I got the hang of it, they were actually quite easy. I thought it would be fun to share with you the process, a few tips, along with a free downloadable for you to play with and create your own paper pieced project.
Writing the instructions is definitely harder than making the actual project! I tend to work improvisationally, so it is always a challenge for me to translate my work into words. Since this is a free download, I am going to take a different approach today and simply talk you through the process – there will be more specific directions in the download.
So, put the rotary cutter down, grab a cup of coffee and let’s just walk through the steps together to make these little gems. I urge you give it a try, be open to experimenting and you will end up with your own unique creation.
I recommend printing them on a lightweight newsprint or specialty foundation paper. If you have never paper pieced before, Connecting Threads has a very thorough blog post on all things paper piecing. It also discusses the different types of paper to use.
My finished placemats are 12 x 18”, but both dimensions can be easily adjusted to make a pillow, tote bag, or whatever your heart desires.
I chose 6 colors of solids in small cuts, a white “sashing” for impact, and gray for the final edge, face binding and backing. Experimenting with mixing solids and prints to get the look you want. That’s what this is all about, right? Playing!
I cut strips of each color to make the variegated stripes. Don’t let the printout scare you. It is actually quite easy and a great way to practice paper piecing. It takes a little time, but you will soon get a rhythm going and you will never more perfect 1/4″ piecing than this!!!
Paper piecing is one of those things that makes a lot more sense as you go through the motions. Do it once and you will get it forever. Once the sheet is filled with your lovely piecing, follow the directions on the printout to trim the sections out to the correct widths and tips on how to extend the lengths.
Now that you have some practice under your belt, try your hand at the triangle designs. I suggest you cut a 3″ x 9″ wide strips of fabric to start. The size you need will vary with each design. After one or two passes, you will know how big the rectangles need to be. Remember, stitch and flip, stitch and flip. More directions are listed on the printout. Believe me, you will knock them out in no time. If you like one design more than the others, try repeating it in a different color combination. Mix and match for a new look.
Once all your strips are pieced, it’s time to play with your design!!! Yay! That should make you happy. If not, hmmmm, maybe you need to watch my video:
Inspired to finish now? Great! Line up the strips to your liking. The width of the solid strip in the center is determined by the amount needed to reach your desired width. This is where you might be happy to have a little extra length to position your sections where you want them.
Time to sew your little gems together. Here is a hint: leave the foundation paper on until you have sewn all the white sashing in place. It will help keep your lines neat and straight. I cut my sashing oversized, stitched one side in place, then trimmed to 1/2″. I then stitched the next strip in place. It worked really well and kept the wavy seams away. I also decided to insert gray as the last few on each end and then finished with a 2 1/2″” strip as my edge.
I kept the quilting very simple, in the ditch and not too much of it. I chose a Faced Binding, so as not to distract from the design. For more on Faced Bindings, read Jennifer’s Round’s post Infinity Edges in the Quilts.
And there you have it! Happy Little Placemats for you to brighten your summer table with. I hope you share your finished projects with us on our SHWS Facebook Page or catch me on Instagram.
As always, thanks for reading! Have a great weekend.
It was so fun reading all the wonderful reader’s comments left on last Tuesday’s post, My Urban Tunic in Crossroads Denim. It became obvious to me that I am not alone in being apprehensive to make the jump from quilting to garment construction. Since I had such a successful run with my first project, I thought I would share a few tips I gathered from experienced sewists as I began my project.
1. Read through the direction thoroughly, until you totally understand the cutting and construction.
2. Prewash and press your fabric.
3. Transfer your tissue paper pattern onto a more permanent and manageable material such as Pellon. I used Red Dot Tracing Material and it worked great..
4. Make a muslin sample first. Ok, in reality, I made two, in two different sizes. Then combined the smaller top and larger bottom for my own personal, pear shaped pattern.
5. Find someone that understands garment construction to help tweak your sample for a perfect fit while you are wearing it. I was fortunate enough to have the incredibly talented Margaret Linderman pin and tweak, then cheer me on to the next step. Thank you Margaret!
6. You know the saying, measure twice, cut once? Well, here’s a new one for you – Gather the correct pattern pieces. Make sure you are following the correct cutting layout for the view or option you have chosen. Check it twice, then cut it once.
7. Take your time sewing. Read and follow directions carefully. Pin, yes pin, even if you think you don’t need to.
8. Take your time to press each seam neatly. Use steam or a pressing cloth when needed.
9. Practice any required topstitching on a scrap fabric first, before stitching onto your garment. You want it pretty and perfect the first time.
I am sure these tips would be obvious to someone that does a lot of garment sewing, but for me, it was definitely a learning process, so I needed all the help I could get!. Perhaps my list will save someone else a few steps on their first project!
Thank you to everyone else for all the wonderful comments. I wish I could send a pattern to each and every one of you.
If you live in the Northern California area, be sure to check out the East Bay Modern Quilters annual show, Stitch Modern 2015. Opening night is tonight, but there will be lectures, events and gallery hours throughout the month of April. Be sure to check out the calendar of events on their website: Stitch Modern 2015.
Need a boost of inspiration? Hungry for some eye candy? – be sure to follow the links to Carol Van Zandt’s blog posts with more quilt photographs from Quiltcon 2015. They are spectacular!
I just returned from a quick overnight getaway to one of my favorite places, The Monterey Bay Aquarium. My wonderful husband purchased “Behind the Scenes Tour” tickets for us to get up close and personal with the sea otters. The tour was spectacular, complete with fluffy baby otters. The tour was almost as good as the previous one we took last year on the jellies. I must admit however, the highlight for me was seeing the Giant Pacific Octopus on display in the newly installed Tentacles exhibit. What a fascinating and magestic creature!
Our final walk on the beach this morning gave me the perfect setting to photograph my new beach totebag. My vision for this project was to design a circular beach totebag that would double as a groundcloth. I used the large 36 degree rulers to cut fabric wedges. I doubled alternate spaces creating pockets for holding some beach necessities, such as sunscreen, flip-flops, sunglasses and waterbottles. There would be enough space in the middle of the bag to carry your towel, beach coverup and bikini ; ).
I used Kim Andersson’s new Tidal Lace line by Windham Fabrics and our new Making Waves pattern as inspiration to create a beach ball design on one side of the tote. The opposite side is a solid piece of vinyl covered cotton fabric. Everything was running smoothly until I came to adding the casing to the outer edge of the circle. Notice the rippling in the casing? Ugh!
I’m generally not one to encourage pointing out disappointments, but in this case, I think there are two valuable tips I can share here. First, since I was working on a circular design, the casing strips should have been cut on the bias to prevent rippling. I didn’t have enough of the backing fabric to cut bias strips, so thought I might get away with some wide straight-grain cut strips . . . WRONG! I know better than this ; ). Second, I didn’t have my teflon presser foot with me while sewing on the vinyl fabric. Stitching with my regular foot only contributed to the problem. In an effort to resolve the situation, I put some blue painters tape on the bottom of my regular presser foot. This works in a pinch but I highly recommend using a teflon foot for any serious sewing with these fabrics.
Sooo, not being happy with the end result, I decided to cut off the wobbly casing and attach a new bias cut strip. Finally, I inserted some cording/rope through the opening to create a drawstring strap. Ready to insert all my gear and head off to the beach.
I found a comfortable spot, spread out the tote and began setting up with some goodies purchased in town . . . local wine and Ghirdadelli chocolates!
While I was setting up, I noticed that one of the locals was keeping a close eye on me!