Monday, June 30, 2014

Unloved Fabrics... the Purge

Let's talk about those unloved fabrics.  First, a definition.

Unloved Fabrics - fabrics that you own, but no longer adore, having fallen out of love with (or having never loved at all) and now wish to use up as a tribute to their enduring usefulness.  Unloved fabrics are not ugly nor are they wrong, but they have been found wanting in this moment, in your eyes.

It is OK to unlove fabrics.

Let's move from a place of frustration (why did I buy these?  ugh, why can't I still be in love?) to a place of acceptance, a place that allows us to move on.  As long as you're still trying to force love, you're sabotaging your hobby.  Refuse to let guilt to take hold.  This is not about your feelings for the designer or the person from whom you inherited these unfortunates.  This is just about you, about a subjective aesthetic feeling.  And you can work with it, once you admit to your feelings.

So gather your unfortunates and repeat after me, "I do not love these fabrics."

photo by Completely Cauchy.  She's awesome.

 Deep breath.  Ok, now what can you do?
  • Use them in patchwork in small cuts - 2" finished squares, for example.  Small cuts tend to disguise prints so that one sees the color, not the print itself.  
  • Use them in patchwork that is values-based.  Value refers to the light or darkness of a fabric.  A patchwork pattern that relies on value also disguises prints themselves since the eye sees the entire value pattern more so than any one bit of patchwork.
  • Use them in patchwork that has strong repetition - a checkerboard layout composed of just two fabrics, for example.  Repetition tends to please the eye, regardless of the fabrics themselves.
  • Use them as pieces of a wild quilt back.  Sometimes quilt backs can be more about "personality" than preference.  What if you make a fun, scrappy quilt and then use up all your unloved fabrics pieced together for the backing?  Or, if you're making a bed quilt, use them for its backing.  Bed quilt backings are rarely seen, especially towards the bottom!
  • Use them to make a fast project that you can give away.  If you feel it's impossible to happily patchwork with your unloved fabrics, use them to make pillowcases for charity or Little Dresses for Africa or Britches for Boys.  You'll feel good about doing good with them and be able to focus on the usefulness of the fabric, rather than its shortcomings.  Also, some fabrics that make you cringe for patchwork really could work for a little girl's dress...
  •  Just get rid of them!  Think they're so nasty that no one would want them?  Think again!  Bundle them up and list them at rock-bottom prices on Etsy or through Instagram.  Donate them to a second hand shop or to a school's art department or an art therapy business in your town or found online (click on a state here).  Let them go, and good riddance.  Focus your attention on the ones you love.
Let's think of this as long overdue spring cleaning.  We'll come out on the other side with a fresh, clean, lovely stash that entices and inspires!

Getting specific, consider the Scrappy Trip Around the World phenomena.  This quilt, which can be made with scraps or yardage, is an unloved fabrics home run.  It has small cuts, lots or repetition and can be crafted to focus on value.

photo by Amy Smart

For example, Amy Smart at Diary of a Quilter used the same value/hue for the center strip of squares in her blocks, to bring unity to her finished quilt!

Are you game to join The Purge?  Turn those unloved fabrics into something you're proud to call your own?  You could make anything with your unloved fabrics, like a postage stamp quilt, a Scrappy Trip or maybe join me in The Purge quilt, a simple design for unloved fabrics which I'll be starting and sharing soon.  Or you could make something smallish to donate - totally up to you!  We'll set some goals and see if we can help each other along.  


Friday, June 27, 2014


 new Kona colors

.... in color.

When I was a brand new quilter, I heard about Kona cotton solids from other bloggers.  All the many colors drew me like ants to sugar.  In 2010 I bought my first color card and never looked back.  I've always been a Kona fan, because I'm a woman who loves options and a woman who wants the right color.... not a close color, the very. Right. One. 

I think my second ever sponsor carried Kona.  Now, so many of my sponsors do and then this year I welcomed the makers of Kona, Robert Kaufman, as my first manufacturer sponsor.  These days Robert Kaufman sends me all the Kona I need.  It is heaven.  I am awash is color and good fortune.

So I want you to know that Kona and I are tight.  In fact, I have an obligation to tell you that, to be open.  But this is a partnership that most definitely fits my real self.  And even if I had to spend my hard-earned blogging pennies on Kona, I most definitely would.

 i heart Kona Cotton

This week I received a shipment from Robert Kaufman of some things I needed (including more Kona Kale for my Cobblestones quilt!).  I had asked for a new color card, since I never did get one that reflects the new 2013 colors.  What I got was this gorgeous stack of 1/4 yard cuts, each labeled with its Kona name on a sticker.  Well, thanks!

Only guess what?  These aren't the new 2013 colors... they're the new 2014 colors, releasing this August!  Oh my, happy dance!   Altogether they're deliciously saturated, with a bit of a neon tinge.  I'm thinking to make something with just the new Konas, for the pure color fun of it!

in the works

But first I have another project in the works.  These fabrics are for a quilt I'm making for my new class and in conjunction with a Kona cotton event.  It's the first time I'm making something for Robert Kaufman itself, and I'm so honored to have been asked.

More color coming up soon!

Thursday, June 26, 2014


Cobblestones progress

I'm finding this quilt addictive.  I love piecing the little blocks, eating up my tiniest scraps.   I love dipping everything in Kona Kale sashing.  That color has me hook, line and sinker.  I love seeing it come together.  Adding edges made me like it that much more.

eating up my tiny scraps!

I think I may actually use up ALL of my tiny blue/green scraps in the making of this throw quilt.  That's impressive.

By the way, the dark black floral print I'm using in the sashing to punctuate the pattern is Chicopee Duet Dot by Denyse Schmidt.  You can still find it at Lark Cottons!

Making an edge block

Here's how to lay out your pieces for an edge block.  It takes eight, instead of nine cobblestones, and you can use a slightly shorter sashing piece for one of the long, thin sashings.

an Edge Cobblestone

Once pieced together, add wide sashing at the edges as you would if it were a normal, full block.  Next trim across on diagonal at a 45 degree angle.  The three center cobblestones should remain whole.  Then you can tuck the edge block into the quilt layout, where it serves to straighten out the edges of this on point block setting.

Ahhhh.... so satisfying!  If only I didn't have anything else to do...

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Quick Scrappy Projects

Wondering what small, satisfying projects you can make from scraps?  Looking for a sewing project that's quick, but useful?  The possibilities are surely endless!  Here are some I've made in the past, whether for my home or as gifts. 

Scrap Sewing Projects

Patchwork Journal Covers
Little Strings of Cheer
Quilt-as-you-go Bag
Table Runner
Drawstring Bag
Embellished Towel
Hook or Needle Roll

Click on any image to visit the finished project post for more info, if you like.  With lots of these, I've given some construction details, linked to a tutorial I've used or even made a tutorial myself.  If you feel a little lost, feel free to let me know where a tutorial would be handy (excepting the Rainbow Road Runner, which I cannot release here).  Hopefully this mosaic gets your mind racing with some fresh, new ideas.

Happy scrappin!

Monday, June 23, 2014

fresh Tutorials!

Hope you had a lovely weekend!  I'm proud to say I did some website maintenance - revamping my Tutorials page.  The old one was an incomplete list, at best, of my Stitched in Color tutorials and not at all easy-to-scan.  Thanks to this tutorial, which I heard about from Svetlana, it wasn't too terribly dreadful to hit the html and give the page a face lift.

The new page looks something like this, though the above is just a screen capture.  You have to visit the real deal (also underneath my blog header as the "Tutorials" tab) to find the full menu of tutorials with titles that link. 

I've organized the tutorials into four categories:  Quilts & Quilt Blocks, Quilting Skills, Sewing Skills and Projects.  Especially don't miss Quilting Skills, which has my favorite Zigzag Quilt Binding tutorial, Spray Basting (saves my sanity!) and THREE free motion quilting tutorials. Lots more tutorials are listed than ever before, thanks to some deep searching and general reminiscings. 

I hope you find something that's useful to you!

Friday, June 20, 2014

sale alert!

Marmalade Fabrics, one of my sponsors, is having a semi-annual clearance sale with super deals, especially for Anna Maria Horner fans.

Many of my favorites are $5-$6 a yard, so it just seemed prudent to restock some beautiful basics that I've nearly used up.  These True Colors are such versatile one-color prints:

my picks from Marmalade's clearance sale!

And there's even some Botanics on sale.  I had to restrain myself. 

Everyone have a great weekend!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

done Good {Care Circle}

do. Good Stitches is a modern online community that quilts for good.  Over the years the bee has grown and grown, so that these days I find myself struggling to keep current with all the beautiful work being done.  I'm taking up the habit of cheering for them from here, in the way of finished object posts.  About once a month, I'll share some "done Good".  Today, Care Circle takes the spotlight!

In February, Jodi of Tickle & Hide served as lead quilter for the Care circle.  Quilter's take turns setting a vision for the monthly bee quilt, usually defining the block style, colors and block size.  Jodi requested Spinning Star blocks, a free pattern from Anna Maria Horner.  She wanted aqua/teal/green centers, low volume rings and orange/yellow outers, showing this sample block to inspire her team of 9 other members.    

Working in a cool vs. warm color scheme is a surefire way to create unity in a quilt.  For bee quilts, that's definitely a strength.  Jodi was probably thinking that all shades of orange/yellow (the warm colors) would merge nicely to create the secondary cross shapes when this block is joined side by side. 

Spinning Stars

Since these are 18" finished blocks, bee mates were asked to make just one.... but things didn't go all that smoothly.  Unfortunately, Anna Maria's pattern does not have a 1" square on the printout, a popular pattern reference that can be measured after printing to check that things have printed the right size.  Sometimes printers scale a document when printing, so whenever you print a pattern, check that the printer's settings are "no scaling" or "print at 100%", etc.  All printers are different, and some default to scaling.  It happens to everyone!

Props to Happy Go Lizzie who made not one, but two blocks (above) in her committment to resolve a pattern-printing size issue!  Both are beautiful.

Well despite any sizing variations, miss Jodi certainly brought all those blocks together with great success!  The colors feel so intense, exactly like summer.  This block design reminds me of spiderweb blocks somehow.  My favorite parts are those faceted yellow/orange crosses at the block edges.  Just gorgeous!  

Well done!  Congratulations to Care host Kristy and the entire Care circle, Flickr names:  QuietPlay, Daisy & Jack, Merran2011, Wooden Spoon, Happy Go Lizzie, Tickle and Hide, Lucy Fleur, Erin @ Missy Mac Creations, cat&vee and happidays77. 

Care is an Australian-based circle which sends finished quilts to a variety of local charities.  Currently, do. Good Stitches has circles based in Australia, the United Kingdom, Canada, Europe and the United States!

p.s. If you're interested in this pattern and know how to paper piece, you might prefer to use the free paper piecing pattern linked in the discussion thread from Very Kerry Berry.  

p.s.s. Learn about do. Good Stitches here.  While quilts of all styles are wonderful acts of charity, this bee intends to bring together active Flickr-users who enjoy sewing with modern fabrics.  To join the wait list, please use this form.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

thinking on Settings

I tried to resist.  I tried to be open minded.  But at the end of the day I really truly just want to make another quilt.

And another.

And another.

I tell myself that I don't have a problem because between giving them away and possibly doing a craft show again someday, they'll all find a forever home... eventually.  I know you friends are interested in other ways to use scraps, and I pinky promise to go there soon!

 sashed with Kona Biscuit

So here was my first idea for those improv scrappy squares.  Because they're made of such small pieces, it can feel busy when they get together.  Adding a little sashing between each seems to let them breathe.  Here I'm previewing a scrappy rainbow of color sashed in Kona Biscuit.  But for whatever reason I couldn't commit.  I think I wasn't feeling a rainbow at the moment (though right now I love this!).   If rainbows are calling you, and especially if you have a little bit of lots of colors, consider Kona Oyster (my fav. white) or Kona Ash (pale gray) or Kona Iron (gray) as other neutral sashing options.


During my brainstorming session, things got a little messy.  Take a look at the far right end of the table to get a peak at where I ended up.  I have soooo many tiny scraps that I'm thinking two quilts.  I'll divide my squares into warm colors (orange, yellow, pink, purple, red) and cool colors (gray, blue, teal, green, plus touches of yellow).  I'll sash the cool quilt in Kona Kale and the warm quilt in Kona Peach.  Kale and Peach are two of my current color crushes, if you're wondering how I chose.  It's not that either of them "go with everything", but instead that they will give the quilt an overall color that I know I'll love.  If you're considering bold sashing, definitely choose a color that thrills you!  Using only cool or only warm colors is a great way to give your quilt a color scheme while still being open to lots of shades.

my setting!

First the cool-colored quilt!  You could keep it simple and do thin sashing throughout in a regular on point layout, like I showed over Kona Biscuit.  I found I wanted to incorporate even more of that beautiful green.  To build my quilt, I'm sewing blocks using nine of the 4" squares and thin sashing.  Then a layer of thick sashing interspersed with the black floral corner stones adds lots of definition to the design.

sashed with Kona Kale

Here I've arranged my 4" squares in a 3 x 3 setting.  I'm using several 4" squares cut from larger scraps.  Bringing in some not-pieced squares calms things down.  If you don't have tiny scraps or don't want to make the tiny improv pieced squares, you could make this quilt with 4" blocks cut from your scraps or yardage!

Cobblestone nine-patch

I'm sewing all these pieces with a scant 1/4" seam (traditional quilting seam).  Be careful to sew straight when working with the thin sashing, as little hiccups really show.  My short sashing pieces are cut 1" x 4" and the long pieces are 1" x 12".  I'm trimming up my blocks to 12" x 12".  You will have a smaller block if you are using true 1/4" seam allowances.

Since this block is cobbled together from so many tiny scraps, I'm calling this quilt Cobblestones!

with corner stones

The thick sashing is cut 4" x 12" and the corner squares are 4" square.  Don't these blocks look so much nicer when surrounded by a saturated border?  The corner squares are so effective because their dark value contrasts beautifully with the rest of the quilt.

Ok, so it might take me awhile to work through this one - tiny, tiny scraps! - but I'm on my way.  Anyone else inspired to join in?

By the way, there were some fun quilt settings ideas left as comments on yesterday's post:  a woven setting, using them as pieced centers of wonky or traditional stars, in Anna Maria Horner's Color Dive quilt and as part of this oversized vintage star quilt.  Really since they're squares, the possibilities are endless!

And so are my quilts...

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Tiny Scrappy Improv

Since our chat last week about challenges, I've been concentrating on one of mine - teeny tiny scraps.  I really enjoy saving scraps.  Using them feels so resourceful and tends to inspire creative solutions.  The smallest scraps I save are in the 1.5 - 2.5" range.  They live in little square pop-up fabric boxes, sorted by colors like so:  red/pink, yellow/orange, blue/green, neutral/purple.  I keep the tinies together so they're out of my way when I'm rooting for something more substantial.

::Idea::  create little improv patchwork squares from my tiniest scraps

Improv piecing means the composition of any one square emerges from the shapes of the scraps themselves.  I begin by arranging them like puzzle pieces that somewhat fit together.  It really helps if scraps are pressed, but sometimes I wait to press them until after sewing the first seams.

Improv in Tiny Scraps 

The first seams in my improv puzzle will generally join the smallest pieces.  Whenever possible I sew these without doing any trimming in advance.  As you can see things look pretty crazy at this point!

Improv in Tiny Scraps

Then I take a ruler and trim to create a couple of straight edges.  My cuts are based on the already-sewn seam - I match a thin black line on the ruler to the seam before cutting. This keeps cuts nicely perpendicular!

Improv in Tiny Scraps

I don't trim all of the edges, just those that will be adjacent to future seams.  The edges that will be on the outside of the finished patchwork square will be trimmed later on when I am cutting the finished square to its final size.  Anything to save time!

After each round of sewing seams, I replace pieces in the improv puzzle.  Oftentimes the puzzle changes as I go.  I may see that I need to add another piece to bring it up to size, or I may just forget how I originally laid things out.  No matter!  That's what's great about improv.  Just relax and let it happen.

Improv in Tiny Scraps

I like to sew a few improv squares at once so that I can be more efficient with my getting up and down to press seams/trim/etc.  So we have a pretty scrappy chaos!

Improv in Tiny Scraps

As I've stockpiled scrappy squares I've found I actually prefer to keep them simple.  Too many tiny pieces becomes visually cluttered.  Try combining a larger scrap (maybe in the 3-4" range) with 1-3 tiny scraps.  Here are a few more examples:

Improv in Tiny Scraps

Improv in Tiny Scraps

I'm trimming my finished improv squares to 4" square.  Have larger scraps overall?  You could trim to 5" square or really whatever feels right to you!  I made a few squares from my scraps and then decided that 4" allowed for just the right amount of tiny scrap presence.

Next we'll need a quilt setting or some other plan for these babies.  Any ideas?

Monday, June 16, 2014

Pretty Potent chevron quilt

 Wanna see my biggest quilt yet?

Pretty Potent chevron quilt

Ta da!   I'm so happy to finally have the pictures to prove that it's finished and the opportunity to bring it to its new home tomorrow.

Pretty Potent chevron quilt

This king sized beast was actually more trouble to piece than to quilt.  It's composed of large diamonds that fit together to make the chevron motif, joining as long rows.  Because I used a fair amount of linen, I had to reinforce many, many seams with zigzag stitch to guard against unraveling.  I really, really, really hope it holds up!  I'll ask my friend, for whom it was made, to tell me if it doesn't.  Gulp.

Pretty Potent chevron quilt

The colors I used were inspired by my favorite picks from Anna Maria Horner's current collection, Pretty Potent for Freespirit Fabrics, a group of fabrics inspired by healing herbs.  My friend Liz is an avid gardener and actually the author of the vegetable garden currently thriving on our land.  Our families are sharing the harvest, which today included romaine lettuce, squash, zucchini, swiss chard, green beans and cucumber.  It's fabulous!  Anyways, making something for her that was plant-inspired felt right.

Pretty Potent chevron quilt

Liz loves green and brown, so I brought in more of those colors through solids and a few basic prints. Solids used include:  Konas Willow, Kale, Sage, Ocean, Leprechaun, Oyster, Aqua and Canary, plus Essex Yarn Dyed Flax linen.  My favorite fabric "spice" is that white and black oversized text print from Ikea.  It adds a little something unexpected.

Pretty Potent chevron quilt

For the quilt back, I used a flat king sized sheet.  It's a thrifted sheet, but very high quality.  I've not used a sheet in the longest time and doing so felt distinctly lighter and thinner.  I think a sheet is a great choice for backing a summer weight quilt.  Perhaps its lightness is what made the quilting feel so manageable!  Economical too, of course.

Pretty Potent chevron quilt

As I type it's hanging on the line, drying after its official all-done-wash.  Hurray!

::Fabric Notes::

Pretty Potent is in stock now at Pink Chalk Fabric, Sew Love Fabrics, Intrepid Thread, Fabricworm and Sew Modern.  Plus in Canada at Fabric Spot and Mad About Patchwork.

You can find Kona Cottons at most of my sponsors, including Pink Chalk Fabric and Sew Modern.  

Thursday, June 12, 2014

feathered bindings

bound in black Feathers

A couple weeks ago I finished quilting something special for my next class (due in August) and began scouring my stash for a binding, because I almost never choose a binding before I finish quilt.  All the usual suspects failed to satisfy - dots, stripes, even solids.  Nothing on hand was quite right.

Soo.... I found myself actually shopping for binding.  I can't think of when I've ever done that!  Sure, binding is important, but I'm entirely a make-do kind of gal at that point, eager to see my work-in-progress finished.

After spending way too much time poking about online shops, I came across Sun Print Feathers at Cuts of Cotton.  Ding, ding, ding!

Now I'd already purchased some Feathers before and used them in a few works, but I had yet to use them as binding.  Let me tell you, they ROCK as binding.  It's like a stripe, but a little more nuanced.  More modern, perhaps?  Since the Feathers prints are simple, one-color works, they're easy to match to a quilt. 

Feathers from Cuts of Cotton

Sun Print Feathers

Cuts of Cotton has the full range of Feathers colors in stock.  I ordered the black for my future-class quilt and more of the yellow for that Pretty Potent diamond quilt (whose finished pictures are pending a break in these summer thunderstorms).  Oh, yes, I actually thought ahead and planned on the yellow feathers before finishing a quilt.  Points.

Sun Print Feathers for bindings

If you're looking for a good stash builder, I definitely recommend the Sun Print Feathers.  I suggest stashing helpful prints like this in half yard cuts, which tend to be enough to bind a throw quilt or to use significantly in any one work.  Now through next Wednesday (the 18th) you can save 15% off anything at Cuts of Cotton with coupon code "feathers"!  This online shop also stocks tons of Pearl Bracelet prints and other great basics, plus you can browse fabrics organized by COLOR.  Check it out!


Someone's going to get lucky with a fat quarter bundle of the complete Sun Print Feathers collection!  Leave a comment to enter to win.  Cuts of Cotton is happy to ship this prize anywhere in the world.  Winner will be drawn on Monday morning.  Good luck!


Comments closed.  Our winner is comment #230, who is Taryn from Pixels to Patchwork.  Enjoy! 
Related Posts with Thumbnails