Monday, July 31, 2017

The Improv Stripes QAL Begins!

So the Improv Stripes QAL begins today!

Start by cutting a bunch of skinny strips.

Lengths do not matter, but if you want a look similar to mine, angle your strips as shown below, with one end approximately 1" wide, and the other slightly less. It doesn't hurt to go as low as 1/2" on one end. When strips are sewn together, that strip basically disappears at the skinny end, and that's an interesting element to add into the mix. Of course if you want to work with wider strips, go for it!

Follow the same method in cutting your contrasting strips, and begin sewing pairs together. If you like, combine stripe sets to add even more variety, and do keep any little bits you trim as you go, as they may find a home in your finished piece.

Once your pairs are sewn, press them, then begin sewing pairs into larger sets. It's ok for the ends to be uneven. And it's also ok - good in fact - to have a variety of sizes of stripe sets.

If you like, combine stripe sets to add even more variety, and do keep any little bits you trim as you go, as they may find a home in your finished piece. Don't press again, though, until you have a stripe set totally pieced. See how it bubbles up a little? Flip it over and press all the unpressed seams - direction really doesn't matter. Unlike pressing patchwork blocks after each seam to make things lie super flat, pressing the section at this point will cause just a bit of a wobble, which just adds to the overall look of the block - in a good way!

So.... start cutting strips and making stripe sets - as few or as many as you like. I'll be checking in on Instagram midweek, and by Friday, we'll plan on sharing some ideas about how we might arrange our blocks. If you're on Instagram, post progress using hashtags #improvstripesqal and #improvstripes. If you aren't, let me know in the comments how it's going and where I can see your photos, ok? This is gonna be fun!

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Improv Piecing :: The Class

Remember several weeks ago I shared that I'd be teaching a class on improvisational quilting at Gossypium Quilt Shop? Well yesterday was the day! 

Gossypium has a really comfortable and well-lit classroom, and it was perfect for our six participants - everyone got their own table so they could spread out, which is so great for improv.

Before we knew it, everyone had their first block - an improv nine-patch - up on the design wall!

It was an easy-going day, with everyone working at their own speed after beginning our time with some demonstration and a mini trunk show. We chatted and shared everyone's blocks through the afternoon, and it was fun to see how each was unique to the maker.

It kinda made my day when one of the students said, "You're a good teacher. You make it all so accessible." Oh yes.... precisely my intent. That was good to hear!

So all in all, it was a really terrific day, and as a first-time teacher, I was more than pleased. Good times.

 Sharon/@redapplestitches, Louise/@imfeelincrafty, Janey, 
Terry/@terrypeart, Carla, me, Ruth

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Improv Stripes QAL :: Gathering Fabric

Folks have been asking if they can start gathering fabric for the Improv Stripes QAL starting next Monday, July 31. There won’t really be a supply list – with it being improv and not really knowing how each of you will use the blocks, it’s hard to say.

But, if you just can't wait, consider starting with scraps.... I’ve enjoyed using coordinating solids with a variety of contrasting prints, but really, anything you like will be fine! Just two contrasting fabrics.... a crazy mix of solids.... a tangle of string strips.... a big ole pile of random scraps.... nicely folded fat-quarters.... all of these would be great options!

So give it a little thought if you must. Ignoring it till Monday is fine too. I'll see you then!

Monday, July 24, 2017

Double Tall Skinny Vanilla

The honest truth is that way before I dug through the scrap basket and pulled out all my brown scraps, before I cut the first tumbler block, before I knew that my hope for the perfect photo-shoot would be dashed, this quilt had a name. A brown quilt had been on my list for quite a while, and when one day I got the inclination to make a scrappy tumbler quilt (you know, in my quest to lower the level of those scraps all the way to the bottom of the basket) the two ideas merged, and the name Double Tall Skinny Vanilla percolated up and did not go away.

And when that happened, I got the notion that the photo-shoot just had to be at one of my neighborhood Starbucks, preferable with a barista showing the quilt off through the drive-through window. I even considered a few different store locations, and picked the one with the best-looking siding as a backdrop.  Only problem was, Starbucks didn't like my idea as much as I did. snif. 

So I settled for the parking lot, strange as that may be. Some days it's worth settling when blue sky and nicely planted community areas are involved, right?

In case you missed it, I posted a tutorial for scrappy tumblers earlier in the month. They are really easy to cut once you know what size you want. And they piece together so quickly and neatly.

I chose to lay out my tumblers in a gradient of sorts, letting one lone 'cup' stand out and receive some singular quilting. I found several brown and green prints in the scrap basket, and I thought they added a fun nod to my favorite espresso stand's signature color. Two coffee-colored threads were used for quilting - Aurifil 50wt #2372 (Dark Antique Gold) for the cup, in an angular spiral; and the remainder a steam-symbolic wavy straight-line in #2326 (Sand).

Using stash browns and greens, I pieced a back - not my favorite thing to do but I used up more fabric!

And I chose a binding that is kind of striking and keeps your eye moving, a yummy brown wonky grid from Echo by Lotta Jansdotter.

So things didn't turn out quite like I'd hoped as far as the photo-shoot went, but otherwise, I'm more than pleased that I finally made a brown quilt, and having been inspired by my favorite espresso beverage kept me pretty stoked to work on it. AND, the fact that this is my sixth scrappy quilt this year was a bonus. Bottom's up!

Finished size: 56" x 56"

This quilt was on my 2017 Q3 Finish-A-Long list!
Linking up with Finish It Up Friday!

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Improv Stripes Quilt-Along!

It's been a year since the Crosscut Quilt-Along, and high time to host another. Oh and yeah, I've been getting some prodding about that, so why not? So.... the Improv Stripes Quilt-Along will start on Instagram Monday, July 31!

This time around there won't be daily prompts, as you'll need just a little more time to make your blocks. But it'll be quick, and definitely feel free to participate as much or as little as your schedule allows. Want to try the block technique and just make a mug rug? Great! Find yourself getting carried away and can't stop making blocks and decide you want to make something larger? Awesome. I'll probably be somewhere not-too-small-but-not-too-big, so just decide what works for you as we go along.

Though I first tried improv stripes in my Greenery quilt, I totally fell for them while making Thinly Sliced.

So are you up for some easy improv? Try a new technique and make a quilt of your own design - whatever size fits into your life right now. Sewing in community is such fun, I hope you can join us!

We'll be using Instagram hashtags #improvstripesqal and #improvstripes so you can follow along!

Monday, July 17, 2017

Minimal Day :: Loop

I need to have my eyes checked. Seriously. So short story, I had a little trouble seeing the minute detail of this month's block block-of-the-month for Seattle MQG - a loop involving both some serious curves as well as a deep “v” in the loop itself.

So a few tiny stitches may be visible, but I'm ok with that because everything appears secure and basically as it should be.

So far, so good, and now to wait patiently for next month....

Friday, July 14, 2017

All Anew

Here's a little revisit to my Refiner's Fire that I posted back in April....

You may remember it was created for the Women of the ELCA Tenth Triennial Gathering with the theme "All Anew", a black and white plus one challenge finishing at 40" square. (Here's my original post if you missed it.)

Anyway, the gathering started yesterday, and this 'sneak peek' video was posted on Facebook:

Deb Westerberg/[@dulutheran] was kind enough to snap a few photos. Her quilt is the QR Code to the left of mine below.

And some wider shots...

Anyway, it's fun to see all the entries together - 47 of them. How I would love to read some of those artist statements!

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

The Little Things

In amongst all the quiltmaking of the last few months, there have been a few smaller projects I never got around to sharing.

The Jane Market Bag is always a winner and I find it really fun to make. The pattern is from Alicia Paulson of Posie Patterns, and in this version, the denim colored chambray made for a pretty classic look. Dare I say my favorite features of this bag are the construction method AND those sewn down corners.

Needing a little gift last week, I turned to the newly-released A Piece of Me Pouch by Lucy Brennen/Charm About You. Again, there was a unique construction method, and with that outside binding, a fun and unique look. Quilting the panels of course gave it some nice texture. The pattern suggested fusible foam between the layers, or alternatively, fusible fleece or batting. I went with one layer of cotton batting. And come to think of it, I added to the length of my pouch just because my fabric choice allowed for it, so it's a good-sized pouch and just a tad larger than the original.

And lastly, I made another set of Log Cabin Hexi Potholders. I've made several over the years from the free Craftsy pattern by SewCanShe, but this was the first time with solids. Besides the fun hexie shape, I love that these are so scrap-friendly.

So there ya go! All lovely and relatively quick projects that I'd definitely make again!

Linking up with Finish It Up Friday!

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Scrappy Tumblers

One of the scrappy projects I've started lately will be made of pretty much all of my brown scraps plus a few pulls from stash. I've had a brown quilt on my mental agenda for a while now, and suddenly, it needed to be made from tumbler blocks. I'm cutting my own and thought you might like to see how easy it is to cut them without a template or special ruler!

I eyeballed the size and shape I was after and began by cutting a fabric piece 4 1/2" wide by 6" tall. To create the tumbler, I found it worked well to place the rectangle exactly in the lower corner of the cutting mat along the axes and at the zero mark.

Place your acrylic ruler at the very top left corner so it also crosses the 1" mark on your cutting board. Cut along the ruler, trimming the left side off; discard. Similarly, place your ruler at the very top right corner so it also crosses the 3.5" mark on your cutting board. Cut along the ruler, trimming the right side off; discard.

Here's your tumbler block! See how easy that is? And if you'd like your tumbler shaped or sized differently than mine, just adjust your beginning rectangle.

Once you have your block design set, you can layer up your fabrics, cut multiples at a time, and start sewing!

Monday, July 3, 2017

2017 Finish-A-Long :: Q3 List

Going out on a limb here and putting five projects on my Q3 Finish-A-Long list! That's alot for me, but I'm super psyched about all of them, so hoping for the best!

1. First up is my scrappy improv quarter log cabin quilt, totally started in an effort to whittle down those scraps. Those are 12 1/2" blocks, so the quilt will finish at 72" square. I've got a plan for a scrappy backing and am anxious to get quilting on this one.

2. Speaking of backing, I honestly joined in Amanda Jean/crazy mom quilts' June Quilt QAL to make a June quilt as a backing for #1 above. BUT after making the largest quilt top I've made in quite a while, I decided I just couldn't trim it down after all. SO I chose a big ole 108" wide back in dark coral, with a quilting plan to be determined.

3. Next is another scrap-involved project and probably the one I'm most anxious to work on. I've sewed just a little ways in prep for a {fingers crossed} improv stripes QAL to be announced later this month.

4. Another one I'm really excited to make progress on is a scrappy tumbler quilt that will be a mix of all my brown scraps + stash fabrics as needed. Soon, I'll begin assembling this one on the design wall. Crazy thing, I already have a name in mind for this one, so I need to get to it.

5. And lastly is a baby quilt. I'll be using the Geo pattern by Samantha Green/Missy MackCreations. I've pulled from stash and also have a few more fabrics headed my way.

So I'm feeling good about this quarter's list, as well as the fact that I'm making good progress on sewing through the scrap basket. Here goes nothin!