Friday, August 22, 2014

scrapalicious

Are you in a quilting bee?  There are lots of reasons why it can be fun to join a circle of quilty friends, but one definite perk is the scrap-busting.  My bee mates at do. Good Stitches help me keep ahead of my scraps, since in our bee we sew from our own fabric stash.  Each month another batch of blocks comes along.  I only need to make a couple blocks, so 9 times out of 10 every peice can come from my scrap collection.

::case in point::

bee blocks for do. Good Stitches

Today I'm making "framed" log cabin blocks.  The idea is to alternate low volume and saturated strings, a la Natalie's tutorial here.  First step - raid those scraps!  Since any colors work, I even dumped my gnarly multi-colored scraps on the table.  Those puppies are always hard to use.


bee blocks for do. Good Stitches

Next I sewed together low volume and saturated strips of approximately the same length.  When I'm working with funky shaped fabrics, I like to sew strips together and then press and trim them up nice.   This way I can make my cuts based on the sewn seam.  It's very accurate!

bee blocks for do. Good Stitches

Here's a peak at the basic block construction.  It builds like a log cabin block, except that Natalie asked for a 3-piece center (bottom right) and that each "log" is a 2-part low volume/saturated piece. 

bee blocks for do. Good Stitches

I'm really glad I thought to pull out those multi-colored scraps.  They were fun and easy to use here!  Since our Love circle quilts go to children, all the houses, mice and rabbits are sure to be appreciated.

bee blocks for do. Good Stitches

Our blocks could end at any size.  Today I made these two small blocks...

bee blocks for do. Good Stitches

and this big ol' one. 

Thanks for another scrappy-fun project, Love circle!  With all the different-sized blocks and bright colors, this quilt is sure to be another success.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

on fancy Light bulbs

Months ago I was contacted by a company who wished for me to test and review their light bulbs in my sewing space.  Seriously... light bulbs.  Usually these type of offers are not a good fit, so I turn them down.  But, while light bulbs are not a terribly exciting topic, they are something we use every day.

This is the part of her email that really got my attention, "Research shows (and our consumers know) that our lighting products reduce eye strain/fatigue, allow colors to appear truer than conventional lighting, as well as elevate mood and energy."  Hmmm?

Verilux light bulb review


I responded, "I hate to use artificial lighting of any kind as it certainly does alter color perception.  Unfortunately, on cloudy days it's necessary.  It would be wonderful if your lights could help.  A few questions:
 

Is there a large difference between your light technology and light bulbs one buys at hardware stores that are sold as "daylight balanced"?  I currently use daylight balanced bulbs by Utilitech in the recessed lighting that is throughout my sewing workroom."

By the way, when I switched to "daylight balanced" bulbs I had noticed an improvement in the way colors appeared under the lights.  I still could tell that my color perception was "off" under artificial lighting and would always wait for sunlight to choose fabrics for a project.  Also, I tend to keep lights off during the day.  I so much prefer natural light patterns and even shadows.

Heather from Verilux responded in detail to my inquiry.  In case you are an information junkie like me, I'll copy and paste the details. But, the gist of it is that their lights are indeed more "true" than daylight balanced bulbs:

Daylight-balanced lights generally fall in the 5000/5500K range and ours are closer to 6500K, which is the temperature of actual daylight. That means our light is a bit closer to actual daylight than most "daylight balanced." When light temperature is much lower or higher than daylight, you get color distortion (either of reds or blues). 



This picture highlights the difference in how colors appear under typical incandescent vs. Verilux bulbs. In case you don't know, one great way to make a choice for lights you want to use for photography is to check out the CRI (color rendering mix). Verilux bulbs have a CRI of 85. Professional photographers who use supplemental light consider anything 90 or higher acceptable, so we are very close to what is used on photo shoots.

I decided to try Verilux flood lights for my sewing room recessed lighting.  There were some hiccups with my shipment(s), as a few bulbs kept getting broken in transit.  Since it happened twice in a row, we're thinking my UPS driver may be at fault.  Anyhoo, Verilux was happy to replace them, which they would do for any customer.  They have a 30 day product guarantee. 

So, what do I think?  They make a difference.  I actually chose fabrics for Tangential at night under my Verilux lighting with total confidence.  And, you know that was a pretty important project to me!  I can tell that these lights don't distort color.  Here's an example:

Verilux light

natural light

Neither of these photos have been color corrected in any way.  You can see that the colors are virtually identical.   The shadows and bright spot reflections created by artificial recessed lights still make them less than ideal for photographs, but the color is a great improvement.

The other difference is that it actually feels good to have the lights on.  As I mentioned, I usually prefer to be in dim natural light than fake light.  With these bulbs, it's different.  I turn on the lights during the day in my sewing room, whether sewing or typing or cutting.  They feel so bright and cheerful, almost just like sunshine.  I didn't expect to notice or care about that, but I do.

Well, if you have any questions, do let me know.  Verilux had a lot of lighting products other than bulbs, so if you need a lamp for desk work or task lighting by a chair you may want to take a look.  Hope this has been helpful!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

back at it

Guess what I got to do this morning?  Sew! 

With all the class prep lately, I haven't been indulging in much relaxing, for-fun sewing.  (Thanks so much for your response to Angled, by the way!  Camp sold out in about 24 hours and the regular version is heading that way too.  I'm so grateful you're on board!)  Today my young friend Ashley joined me for a few hours of purge-along cutting, sewing and pressing.

my young friend


Do you know about Ashley?  She's part of the amazing family that's farming in our backyard this year and for many to come, if we're lucky.  When we can, Ashley comes inside to sew with me.  I'm teaching her some quilting skills, and she's helping me get more done.  It's a win-win!  I certainly enjoy her company, too.

purge-along

Today as I cut and paired fabrics, Ashley sewed them up.  It was a great opportunity to practice her 1/4" seam allowance.  I took your advice to focus on cutting into my unloved fabrics yardage rather than pulling mostly from scraps.  Going this route actually saves time too, as we get to do more strip piecing.

little 4-patch blocks

I could barely keep up with the pressing and cutting to keep her busy.  We made all these little 4-patch blocks!

purge progress

And then I joined them as Purge quilt blocks.  Nine in all.  Pretty nice!

Ok friends, I think I want to make my purge quilt into a picnic quilt for a friend.  But that means I need a million!  (The actual amount I need is too large to face at this point.  Best save those calculations for later...)  I need to get moving on this quilt!  The final Purge link party is September 12th.  I have a feeling that's going to be here before I blink twice.

xo,

Rachel

Monday, August 18, 2014

Registration Opens Today!

Hooray!!!  Today registration opens at my shop for Angled at Stitched in Color!  This online class begins in earnest September 1st, but students can get a jump start now at the class blog, where fabric selection tips and supplies lists are already posted for all quilts, and brief cutting directions are posted for 3 of the quilts!

welcome to ::Angled:: at Stitched in Color

I LOVE angles, with their movement and personality and endless fascinating combinations.  Getting to know them can be tricky, intimidating even.  But the results are impressive!  And freeing too.  How many gorgeous classic quilts include angles?  So many!  With curiosity, time and much experimenting, I've come to know them well and to also understand how to include them in my quilt designs.  I'm eager to share this with you!

Tangential, a cumulative queen-sized quilt

Tangential queen-sized quilt for Angled

I'm pleased to invite you on our journey, spanning September 1st through October 31st.   It's 5 weeks of instruction spread out over 9 weeks time to give you room to grow.  All instruction is delivered via a separate password protected blog that allows you to access the lessons at your leisure, with posts delivered day to day during instruction weeks.

I've designed this new online course for the confident beginner or intermediate quilter.  Prerequisites are basic cutting and piecing skills, with experience sewing rectangles, squares and rows.  The class has 3 main elements:
  • {Piecing Skills} learn to accurately piece ANY angle, from classics like the diamond to compound angular blocks, and truly any random triangle shape
  • {Design Skills} understand how to incorporate equilateral triangles, diamonds, half square triangles and flying geese into your own original quilts
  • {Scrappy Skills} enjoy using triangular scraps from our projects in playful, liberated quilt blocks, with the option to donate your blocks towards collective charity quilts
This is a class for quilters.  It's for developing quilters, ready to stretch their wings beyond the basics.  It's for more experienced quilters, interested in expressing themselves in original designs or curious about liberated piecing.  It's for all lovers of traditional quilt blocks, young and old.  And I hope it will be for you!

What's Included?

With Angled at Stitched in Color our focus narrows to the quilt-making skills of piecing and design.  The class includes 5 original quilt patterns (4 throw quilts, 1 queen-sized quilt) and an additional 5 liberated, scrap-utilizing blocks.  Each lesson week begins with design/piecing information, followed by a quilt pattern that uses the week's angle in a creative way.  I'll also point out classic quilts that you can make with your new-found skills.  Each lesson week concludes with a lighthearted liberated triangle block.  We'll mess around and have some fun!

Liberated piecing for Angled (my next online class!)

Take that, triangle scraps!

I suggest students choose 1-3 favorite quilts to make during class, but read along with all concept posts to absorb the quilting principles as we go.  Don't worry about what you skip, since all students receive a pdf eBook of the entire course.  Return to Angled via the eBook to access patterns and concepts later on!

Let's take a look at the quilts of Angled Class...

Indian Blanket for ::Angled:: class

Indian Blanket - a playful study in equilateral triangles.

Emerge

Emerge - a really, truly easy lonestar quilt composed of 45 degree diamonds.

Starbright quilt

Starbright - an entirely machine pieced 6-point star, relying on a clever combination of triangles and diamonds

Cascade quilt

Cascade - at twist on the classic flying geese block

Tangential queen-sized quilt

And today's new release, Tangential, a cumulative queen-sized quilt, utilizing all the skills we'll study during class!  Each week you can make an installment in this quilt, while practicing the week's skill.  This is your chance to make a masterpiece for your bed, a fantastic surprise for your parent's anniversary or a very special wedding gift.

More good news!  I want you to have fun with those liberated blocks without the pressure of having to make a bunch of them.  If you like, you can donate yours to our collaborative charity quilts.   I'll be collecting and finishing quilts made up of liberated blocks from our first 4 weeks of instruction.  Won't that be fun to see!

Tangential for Angled

Choose your class!  Class runs on 2 distinct private blogs where I can answer questions in the comments.

  • ::Angled:: includes detailed, step-by-step, picture-packed tutorials, all projects and an eBook of the class for your reference at $55/$65.
  • ***SOLD OUT!  Sorry.***  Then there is a smaller, more intimate ::Angled:: Camp for folks who want it all, plus lots of interaction, with the give and take encouragement you'd experience in a real in-person class.  Camp ($85) is limited to 20 campers.  We'll enjoy (5) live community chats, each an hour in length, plus a private Flickr group to help us keep up with our works-in-progress.  And, campers who complete any 2 class quilts OR the Tangential quilt by November 30th will receive a little something handmade by me as a souvenir of ::Angled:: Camp.  I hope I get to make one for each of you!

An early registration discount of $10 for ::Angled:: applies during the week of August 18 - August 24.  Prices are live and accurate at my shop.  As always, I do cap the total number of students I take in order to ensure adequate availability to be a responsive teacher.

Class runs through October 31st.  Your access to the class blog will remain open through November 30th, during which time I will continue answering questions.  After November 30th the blog will be closed and you will no longer be able to login.  This provides much-need motivation for us to get everything we can out of the class in real time, rather than leaving it open ended for "someday."

Tangential quilt for Angled classI hope that every single one of you who are interested in refining your relationship with angles will find a class that meets your needs.  You're sure to learn a bundle!


So, Ta Da!  Please join in.  I've said it before and I'll say it again... we're going to have a blast!

Friday, August 15, 2014

{the Purge} Braided Handles + Links + Prizes

Purge buttonAre you purging along?  Come one, come all to show us purge progress for your chance to win from Marmalade Fabrics!

But first, how about a little more Purge inspiration?  Here's an idea for those long, thin strips of fabric (or yardage, which can be cut into strips, of course).  Braid them up!  Braided fabric makes comfy handles for purses, baskets or drawers.  Feeling ambitious?  What about a braided or crocheted fabric rag rug?  A quick Pinterest search yields a ton of tutorials.

I set out to make handles for a chest of drawers.  To avoid stray threads in the braid, I chose a method that encases the raw edges.  I began with a 2" wide strip and pressed the raw edges towards center.   See this Purl Bee tutorial for the step-by-step.

the Purge... braided handles

It was super quick.  I made groups of three fabrics, then cut 18" long pieces and pressed my strips.  I didn't stitch the strips closed, figuring that the braid will prevent the strips from unfolding anyhow and wanting to keep a softer look. 

the Purge... braided handles

After knotting my strips together, I shut the knot into the top edge of a drawer to give me leverage while I braided. 

the Purge... braided handles

When the braid was complete, I stitched the end closed to secure.  The handle is easy to install into a drawer with two drilled holes.  Starting from the inside of the drawer front, thread the stitched end out through one hole and back into the other.  The original knot will catch at the back of the drawer front.  To finish the handle, knot the stitched end as well.  Easy peasy and a cinch to change too!

the Purge... braided handles

This pair of white dressers, currently in Aria's room, is destined to belong to baby.  (Can you tell I didn't tidy Aria's clutter for the photo?)  I'm planning on a white and pale wood nursery spiced with lots of bright colors.  Since these dressers need new handles anyway, I was thinking to create bright, scrappy braided handles.  However... now I'm thinking I would prefer more monochromatic handles.  Maybe I'll do each drawer in a different color, with red/orange/yellow on the right side dresser and blue/teal/green on the other.  Hmmm?

So perhaps I'd like the scrappy braided look more so for a rug?  Or perhaps I should make some scrappy braided baskets?  We'll see.  At least I know now that the process is totally doable!

{the Purge} Link-up and Prizes

Have you been purging along?  Add a photo that documents your purge progress to enter to win this week's prize.  Maybe you've made some blocks for a purge quilt, sold or donated some fabrics, cut tons of scraps into useable squares - anything that you've done recently to Purge your stash or sewing cupboards counts!  If you're participating in more than one purge effort, feel free to add more than one photo for more chances to win.

Note:  Please do not add photos that you used to enter the previous Purge link-up.  This link-up is for progress you've made since then. Thanks!

This time our prize is sponsored by Marmalade Fabrics!  As I was making those handles I wondered if I'd like them better with solids.  And earlier this morning I was thinking that what Aria's sleeping bag needs is just the right solid to emphasize a favorite color.  All of which is to say... I believe in solids! 

Tammy at Marmalade Fabrics has created a monthly subscription program designed to help her customers collect those all-important solid fabrics.  If you subscribe to Around the Color Wheel Monthly Bundles, you'll collect 72 unique Kona colors in all, over the course of a year.  Choose from a fat quarter ($13) or half yard ($19.50) subscription and receive 6 Kona colors each month.   Definitely a wise stash enhancement!  There's nothing like having solids around when you need them... which for me is pretty much always!

Around the Color Wheel bundles

Marmalade is giving away THREE Around the Color Wheel bundles to three lucky Purge-along winners.  And each winner gets to choose which color group to win!

Add your photo(s) now through midnight (eastern time) Wednesday, August 20th to enter to win your choice of a solid Around the Color Wheel fat quarter bundle.  You may upload a photo directly from your computer, no url necessary, no blog necessary. Click the blue "Add your link" button below the photos to add your photo.  Winners will be contacted by email on Thursday.  Good luck!

****Giveaway Closed****

Our winners were entries 9, 40 and 50.  One of our winners actually destashed by giving away nice fabric scraps and another finished a charity quilt.  How cool to see a few of those who have been generous now to receive a fun gift.  Enjoy!





Thursday, August 14, 2014

simple. pretty.

Deep Breath. We interrupt our regularly scheduled class-prep craziness to bring you...

Up Parasol by Heather Bailey

pretty.

Up Parasol by Heather Bailey

It's Up Parasol by Heather Bailey from Freespirit fabrics.  I requested some favorites from the collection as soon as I saw the charming sample projects.  Don't you love this Stella print on the cutting mat?  The colors are sweetly cheerful, as Heather tends to be!

Up Parasol by Heather Bailey

I'm thinking to keep it simple, letting these pretty fabrics garner all the attention.  But maybe not this simple?  Dunno. 

My work in progress is to be a quilting sleeping bag for the patient miss Aria, like the one I made Liam once upon a time.  She's only been waiting over two years!  Yep, I do that with sewing plans too.

p.s.  You can find Up Parasol in stock at Fat Quarter Shop, Dragonfly Fabrics, Fabricworm
and in Canada at Mad About Patchwork and Fabric Spot.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Cascade quilt for ::Angled::

Registration for Angled, my latest online sewing class, opens in less than a week, on Monday the 18th.  Oooooh, are you ready?  I am almost ready, almost but not quite.  We're working hard on some finishing touches to make Monday extra special.  Until then, I'm very excited to show you one of my personal favorites...

Cascade for Angled online class

Meet Cascade, a new quilt for Angled!

Cascade for Angled online class

During the 4th week of lessons in my upcoming online class, we'll explore the flying geese block.  I love flying geese flying all in a row, don't you?  It's a classic look that never disappoints.  But with Angled I wanted to bring you something fresh and original.  Look closely and see how I've used color to highlight falling channels of pattern.  Cascade is so named for the shifting, spilling, directional flow of color.

Cascade for Angled online class

This quilt is created entirely with flying geese, simple rectangles and a few half square triangles at the edges. I hand picked Kona Cotton solids in a palette loosely inspired by Anna Maria Horner's Good Folks, which is my favorite fabric collection of all time.  From top, colors are: Crimson, Sangria, Canary, Grellow, Sprout, Grass Green, White, Ash, Steel, Iron, Peacock, Mediterranean, Terracotta, Paprika, Geranium, Eggplant, Violet, Cerise, Cadet, Storm, Kale and Willow.  Students will find a fabric list with yardage amounts for those who wish to duplicate this quilt at the class blog at time of registration.

I always love all-solids quilts, and this one is no exception!  Cascade could also be made in prints, of course.  I'm eager to see what you do!

Cascade for Angled online class

For quilting I aimed to emphasize the cascading channels with straight line quilting on either side of strategic seams.  I'm not sure that this was the very best quilting strategy, but it allowed me to finish in time for a tight deadline.  I can't say too much, but this quilt has winged it's way to Robert Kaufman, makers of Kona, and will eventually find its way to QuiltCon next year!  I'm honored.

I have one more class quilt to show you, which I'm saving for Monday's registration day.  Don't forget the class also includes liberated blocks designed to be made with your angular cutting scraps.  Those blocks will release week-by-week as class progresses!

p.s.  Looking for more details?  See the introductory Angled post here.  Registration opens on Monday!


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