Monday, February 29, 2016

facing down the Y-Seam

I think I'd sewn a y-seam maybe once or twice before.  Mostly I'd avoided them.  In fact, when making quilt designs, I'd look for ways to add seams to eliminate y-seam needs.  You usually can.  It means more cutting and more piecing, but those tasks are reassuringly familiar.  It's not necessarily slower, I'd tell myself.

facing down Y-seams

We're always afraid of the unknown.  Even when we deny it.  Even when we truly, honestly don't think we are.  Until we face it and do it, there is a seed of fear there, always.  It is funny that that is so even in something so soft and harmless.  With sewing!  

facing down Y-seams

This weekend I mustered my army of True Blues and sorted them into piles:  light, medium, dark.  I calculated how to cut triangles for an ambitious sharp and twirly design inspired by this graphic.

facing down Y-seams

Each 8" finished block is made of a triangle half-block, which is itself made up of 3 triangles and 2 diamonds.  Rather than adding more seams and utilizing small half-square triangles, I decided it would be more lovely to use the whole, original shapes.  This requires just one y-seam per half-block.

My first two blocks came out annoyingly small.  So, I reworked my cutting plans to cut appropriate pieces oversized so that the finished work can be trimmed to a precise 8.5" unfinished.  Aha!  Such satisfaction in that last step.

facing down Y-seams

By my third block I might have been crowing a bit over the delicious tidiness and flatness of my y-seams.  It can be done!

facing down Y-seams

Yes, it can be done.  And, in fact, I can teach you!  I'll be making this quilt design into a stand alone pattern with all the y-seam steps meticulously photographed and explained.  Because I really enjoy, truly enjoy, helping others face down their fears. 

Mostly the sewing-related ones.

xo,

Rachel

Friday, February 26, 2016

{True Blue} a curated bundle

True Blue curated bundle

Cobalt, midnight, indigo, lake...  I am about to embark on an adventure with blue, True Blue.

True Blue curated bundle

Not aqua.  Not teal.  Those familiar shades are oh-so-easy to find in my stash and in shops, but blue.  True Blue, in its rich, inky glory.  In its classic beauty. 

True Blue curated bundle

In values from pale to dark, all the better to make my quilt sparkle and move, all I need to define that still point.  14 prints, handpicked with a balanced range of textures, geometrics and organic shapes.

I've curated this True Blue bundle at The Intrepid Thread, one of my lovely sponsors.  Should your heart also beat blue, you can purchase a fat quarter or half yard bundle while supplies last.  With the help of these fabrics, I'll be creating a very meaningful quilt for my friend in blue, her favorite color.  And you, what would you make?

For your chance to win a fat quarter True Blue bundle from The Intrepid Thread, add your comment to this post now through noon EST on Monday, February 29th.  Tell us if you are drawn to True Blues, and, if so, do you have difficulty finding them?  Giveaway open internationally!!!  Good luck + don't forget your email address, so I can contact our winner.

****************Comments Closed**********************

Our winner is comment #134!



Wednesday, February 24, 2016

launching a Vintage Rainbow

March is my month to lead the quilt for Love Circle at do. Good Stitches!  Yay!!  Yay!! and Yay!!  There's lots I love about being involved in a collaborative charity quilting bee, but one big perk is getting to see my ideas come to life with the helpful, creative hands of others.  This time I've selected a block that has so much play, so much possibility, but feels so completely tedious to make (at least to me).

Vintage Rainbow HST

Can anyone say, Half Square Triangle?  I get bored just thinking about making them.  I know they're the building block of many, many fabulous designs, but....  Ugh, it's mainly the trimming, actually.  I should really experiment with some cutting method that might eliminate the trimming.

Vintage Rainbow HST

I've courageously made more HST blocks than I'm asking my bee mates to make.  Ok, also I was enjoying the colors, the colors!  I've decided to use my favorite inspiration collage from the Vintage Rainbow mosaic contest as a springboard for our color choices:

Vintage Rainbow {a mosaic contest}

It's hard for me to have the restraint to incorporate a lot of white and grays into my work, so that's another benefit of working with a team.  May this collage inspire them!

Vintage Rainbow HST

Ok, here's the best part - I haven't decided what I'll do with them!  I'm going to watch the HST blocks pour in, singular and un-joined, and then have a nice "what if" party playing with different arrangements with them here in person.  Totally looking forward to that.

Thanks in advance to my Love Circle friends for stitching along with me!

Monday, February 22, 2016

when you are Finishing

I hope you had a good weekend!  Monday dawns rainy and gray again, but we know that spring is coming.  Crossing fingers this damp weather won't hold much longer.  But while it does, at least I have a new cozy project to keep me company.

quilting Brokenfull Heart

This weekend I started quilting my Brokenfull Heart quilt, first by machine and now by hand.  I have a few tips for you today, about the finishing stage.  My favorite tip, my motto, is just this:  Always Finish.  It's so important to honor your work, your moments of inspiration and joy, by finishing what you have started.  Finishing keeps me forging ahead.

quilting Brokenfull Heart

Ok, now the real tips.  If you find that you didn't make your backing very much bigger than your quilt top take precautions when basting to keep things lined up.  This time my quilt back ended up just a smidge larger than my top!  After taping the backing to the floor and adding the batting layer, I cut the batting away at all four corners.  The point at the right angle of the cut-away corners marks the exact corner of the backing.  This enabled me to line up the quilt top with those points and just squeak by.

quilting Brokenfull Heart

Smaller quilts are excellent candidates for pieced-together battings!  I always save batting scraps large enough to make coasters.  The largest pieces I will join together for quilts.  I used to zigzag stitch my batting scraps together, stitching right over the seam with the raw edges butted up.  That worked OK, but sometimes they would not go together smoothly and I'd have to rip and repeat.  I've found I prefer using Heat Press tape to join batting scraps for quilts.  You can see some peaking out in the above photo along the top edge. 

quilting Brokenfull Heart

Planning to machine quilt and hand quilt your project?  You can complete your planned machine quilting and then proceed to bind that baby off!  Since hand quilting is worked through the quilt top, not from the edges of the work, and since it's unlikely to cause shifting, there's no reason you have to wait to bind your work.  You can see from my quilt back (featuring Mustang Rose Border) that I've quilted dogwood blossoms all around the border of my quilt and am now hand quilting straight lines through the center section.  I plan to fill in the center with quite a lot of random straight lines.  I've done this before (binding before hand quilting) and it worked out just fine.  So long as you baste well, you'll be golden.

quilting Brokenfull Heart

There's something about a bound quilt that's nicer to handle.  I used Friedlander's ladder lines for my binding.  Stop by Fabric Bubb to browse a huge selection of Carolyn Friedlander's fabrics.  She designs such helpful fabrics.

quilting Brokenfull Heart

Now I'm all prepped for many a snugly evening selecting one of these pretty rolls of color to send shooting across my quilt.  Just the way to end a rainy day.

Friday, February 19, 2016

True Heart

We are hosting playgroup again this year, a weekly gathering of friends, big kids thundering through the yard and beyond to the woods, little feet pitter-pattering down the long drive to visit the goats.  I asked each mom who lingered in my sewing room (our entry room) which shape was more like a heart...

my brokenfull heart

This or that?  And of course I got all the different answers. Sometimes I just need to ask in order to be reminded that there isn't one right answer.  They both are hearts, and aren't hearts.  Hearts are ROUNDED.  Hearts don't have those sharp, chiseled corners.  They aren't so strong.  Or are they?

my brokenfull heart

I designed this quilt a week or so after Eleni died.  It is the first quilt, literally the first, I've designed since she was born, a whole year ago.  I wanted big, oversized hearts.  Colorful, bold, beautiful hearts.  The blanket ended up toddler size, quite of its own accord.

my brokenfull heart

On Wednesday I sewed in these pretty little squares and the hourglass block that turns at center.  Yes, because my perfect gray arrived!  I love this Freespirit solid called Dogwood.

my brokenfull heart

I've decided on a particular shape and look forward to finishing this little quilt top today.  It is still the season of hearts:  February.  And this quilt is called my Brokenfull Heart.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

a quilt top {Improv Handbook Score #4}

a quilt top {Improv Handbook Score #4}

I'm all done with doodling.  Finished.

a quilt top {Improv Handbook Score #4}

a quilt top {Improv Handbook Score #4}

No more spinning my wheels.  I have time, purpose, energy.

a quilt top {Improv Handbook Score #4}

This year I pledge to cultivate rest and...

a quilt top {Improv Handbook Score #4}

to treasure whatever comes next.

Monday, February 15, 2016

to make, to do

It's been so long since I've corralled my sewing ambitions into a list.  This weekend I found myself fluttering about, unsure how I want to spend my time.  I could keep moving from one project to the next, like so many convenient stepping stones, but I have a sense that I'll find more motivation, more focus if I take a moment to assess.

Bluebird by Cotton + Steel

{Bluebird Quilt} That stack of Bluebird fabrics is still out because my intent is to use it.  I'm everywhere drawn to blues lately, a color I've tended to brush off in the past as too ubiquitous and well-liked.  The time is right for a monochromatic work, my "blue phase."

Forbury teapot from Anthropologie
{Kitchen refresh}  It seems my kitchen has conspired a distraction, an opportunity really.  Three items out on display (and that's a majority because I keep clear counters) have need to be replaced all at once:  salt shakers, tea pot and stand mixer.  What if these items were purchased in new colors?  And what if I sewed new things that make up the balance of my kitchen decor:  rug, wall hanging, curtains, oh my?  Today I'm thinking cobalt blue, vintage aqua and my peachy perfect walls present a tempting new color scheme.  Do pots this pretty go on clearance?


{the next Score}  I find myself halfway on my journey through The Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters.  I've so enjoyed the discipline of working through each score.  It's nice to follow for a change.  But maybe I need a break, a month or two resting in more structured sewing?  On the other hand, the next score is a grid style that involves much more structure than the doodle score.  Hmm...

{Still Point Quilt}  I just finished reading a true story titled "The Still Point of a Turning World" about a baby with a terminal brain illness.  While I didn't identify with much of the author's worldview, the title still captures my interest.  It touches how it felt to mother a baby who couldn't change.  I think this compelling turn of a phrase (by T.S. Elliot) wants to be visually interpreted.  In quilt form, of course.

{a new Class}  Yes, I have a new class in mind!  A new class to make!  In fact, my friend and I sketched out an outline, threw around names and everything.  This will be my first sewing class designed more for the beginner/intermediate quilter.  I definitely need to get started because I want to see it happen this year.

by Laundry Basket Quilts

{Gift Quilt}  I've never made a quilt for one of my dearest friends (just for her babies, ha!).  I asked her to start a Pinterest board to guide and inspire me.  And it did.  I don't know if I should go for these butterflies, which had actually caught my eye already, or for an angular design, which is a stronger theme in her pins.

Oh my, I don't feel any closer to a decision.  All of these ideas speak to me at the moment.  Where is the "all of the above" bubble?  Darn.

I wonder, how do you choose what to make next?


Friday, February 12, 2016

Improv Fans for do. Good Stitches

It's all improv and improv and improv these days!  But this project took me back to my scraps, somewhere I'm always glad to be driven.

Improv Fans for do. Good Stitches

This February our collaborative quilting bee, Love circle of do. Good Stitches, is making improv fans in true blues, midnight and creamy neutrals.  It's not far from the Bluebird palette actually. I found plenty to work with in my blue scrap drawer.  Here they are, cut in shapely 5-6" long fans.

Improv Fans for do. Good Stitches

After choosing a variety of backgrounds to experiment with different value combos, I arranged my fans and joined the scraps together in a quarter circle shape.

Improv Fans for do. Good Stitches

To piece the fan into the background I used a method that accounts for curved seam allowances.  I taught this method as part of my Curves Class and demonstrate it in my Wheel Quilt pattern too.  Just takes a little bit of effort to result in a nice flat block with little waste!

Improv Fans for do. Good Stitches

Three happy fan blocks for miss Ara Jane.  My, isn't blue beautiful? 

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

and the doodle goes on {Improv Handbook Score #4}

doodle goes on {Improv Handbook Score #4}

The process is slow and meandering, but these triangle slices have settled into place.  And actually, this part has become a new favorite.  I guess that's the thing about doodling, you never know when you might uncover a new delight.

doodle goes on {Improv Handbook Score #4}

This piece, more ho-hum, was designed to fill a specific corner of my improv quilt-in-progress to help the colors and patterns flow.  It makes a helpful connection that's all.  I've already moved on.

doodle goes on {Improv Handbook Score #4}

These blocks, these are my next thing, my present doodle.  They come together quickly and fill up the space, like those houses.  I wonder how I'll set them.  I know I want more!

Even though I'm cutting everything for this quilt without a ruler, a la The Improv Handbook, I do measure by eye with my cutting mat at times.  This allows me to keep things in similar proportion so that my blocks will sew together more easily.  A little structure, I suppose, is how I roll.

doodle goes on {Improv Handbook Score #4}

So here's my stack of friendly colors:  pale orchid with violet, cantaloupe with carrot, sky with ocean blue... All ready to be sliced and sewn today.  The doodle goes on.


Tuesday, February 9, 2016

bluebirds fly

I caught a song from my friend.  Mothers do that, of course.  They catch songs from other mothers to sing to their children, to teach them how to clean up or to lull them to sleep.  Between the songs I learned from my mother and the many more I learned during our Waldorf-inspired days I had quite a passel.  But the moment I heard my friend sing "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" to her little guy, I caught it for Eleni.

Somewhere over the rainbow, way up high
There's a land that I've heard of once in a lullaby.
Somewhere over the rainbow, skies are blue
And the dreams that you dare to dream,
Really do come true.


Bluebird by Cotton + Steel

I sang that song to her so often, so very often.  It was both hopeful and sad, daring to dream and yet acknowledging that those dreams may be too wonderful for earth.  Promising her a future in which troubles would melt away.

Someday I'll wish upon a star
And wake up where the clouds are far behind me.
Where troubles melt like lemon drops,
High above the chimney tops,
That's where you'll find me.


 Bluebird by Cotton + Steel

The only part I didn't know what to make of was the part about bluebirds...

Somewhere over the rainbow, blue birds fly
Birds fly over the rainbow
Why then, oh why can't I?
If happy little bluebirds fly beyond the rainbow
Why, oh why can't I?


It raised questions for which I had no answer.  I didn't know my little bluebird would fly away so soon.  I couldn't see just yet that it was then that it would all be worthwhile for her, and she would at last be happy.

Bluebird by Cotton + Steel

Bluebirds fly.  They will; they do.  These fabrics are from Cotton & Steel, mostly of the Bluebird collection just released. I am contemplating a monochromatic work, all blue + neutrals.  I'd elaborate with blues from my stash.  Another winding ways quilt or a new, sharp, sparkly pattern?  Contemplating still.

You can find Bluebird at these fine shops:  The Intrepid Thread, Fat Quarter Shop, Mad About Patchwork (Canada), Miss Matatabi (Japan) and Lark Cottons.

Monday, February 8, 2016

my perfect gray

Today's quilters like gray.  It's the neutral of choice for many and a predictable option when white is less than ideal.  For years quilty blogs rang with accolades of Kona Ash for a pale gray neutral.  I've dabbled with the shade, but it doesn't really touch my heart.  I want a "warmer" gray, a "browner" gray that's still pale and gray.  Kona has introduced lots of new grays over the years, and although Kona Pewter is a new fav of mine for a medium gray, I still hadn't been sold on a pale gray... until now.

the perfect gray

Remember when I started reading blogs again and found myself immediately inspired?  My friend's cut glass block sent me to sketching an idea for a quilt with four large hearts.  Each heart is made up of two dramatic prints showcased on a gray background.  All I had on hand in quantity was Kona Ash.  The scissors print is a likely border fabric.  Unfortunately, Kona Ash does nothing for the scissors print.  The scissor background has a delightful old-metal sort of feel - a browny-grayish cream.  Beside it the Kona has a definite blueish tint in real life.  It was hard to capture here.

the perfect gray

Well, a gray from my box of DS Modern Solids came to the rescue!  I've slipped the bit of it that I have left in here under the pink fabrics.  I wonder if you can see the difference on the computer screen?  It's my perfect pale gray - warm and gray and just the right value.  I love it with all my bright, saturated prints and it happens to flow beautifully into the scissors too.

I used the color visual reference download on Denyse Schmidt's site to identify the gray so I could order more.  It's called Dogwood.  How perfect is that?  Dogwoods are my favorite trees.

the perfect gray

Now, if only I had ordered the right one!  Instead of Dogwood, I ordered Sand Dune, which has a pale and purply tint.  Sand Dune would be nice with cool colors (especially lavender) but doesn't do it for this project.  See what I mean?  I cut some big squares of it last night before realizing my error.  Blah.  Wishy washy.  Needs more contrast!  Waiting again...this time for Dogwood.

I don't usually wait for fabrics.  I have a propensity to use whatever is on hand.  Making do and being flexible in my creating yield better results most of the time.  This time, however, my gut says it's better to wait.

Crossing fingers she really is my perfect gray.

Friday, February 5, 2016

doodle, doodle {Improv Handbook Score #4}

This week I have been feeling inspired.  Demands on my time had kept me from reading blogs most of the past year, and I had completely gotten out of the habit.  It dawned on me early this week that I might enjoy an evening with Bloglovin, and boy did I!  I see there are not as many of us writing these days, but it's still my favorite way to connect with the quilty community.

Soon I was caught up in choosing fabrics for a new project, shopping for some fabric the project demanded and entertaining a few more along the way.

On the other hand, I've been feeling restless.  A restless energy.  I want to do something and do it well, but what?  This improv assignment from The Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters is either exactly right or a nightmare for that sentiment, depending.  Score #4 invites one to proceed without expectations, keep sewing along a train of thought until you feel like moving on, doodle, doodle.



I'm not a doodler.  When something works well, like those houses, I tend to become rather attached.  I'd be happy to make a whole quilt of houses, but that's not the assignment.  It's good sometimes to have an assignment, to commit yourself to follow and learn.

doodle, doodle {Improv Handbook Score #4}

doodle, doodle {Improv Handbook Score #4}

Last night while reading The Creative Habit for a second time (because it's really that good), Twyla Tharp reminded me: "Skill gets imprinted through action... Traveling the paths of greatness, even in someone else's footprints, is a vital means to acquiring skill" (pg. 66). 

I'm learning. 


Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Welcome, Pink Door Fabrics!

Yesterday I went fabric shopping with some money gifted "for pampering" myself.  It had been too long!  I found a few things I needed, a few things I'd wanted, at least on thing that may not be practical...  I do all my fabric shopping online (like most other shopping!) and with my sponsor shops.  Let me introduce you to my newest store who happens to carry a whole lot of the fabrics I use most!

Pink Door Fabrics has a self-hosted shop and an Etsy shop too.  I'm right at home in an Etsy shop, so I spend my time at Pink Door there.

Stash building bundles at Pink Door Fabrics


Right off the bat I appreciate that Pink Door Fabrics has some helpful custom bundles.  You can join a low volume stash club, Quiet Time, or a rainbow stash club, Rainbow Blenders, to infuse your stash with variety that's actually easy to use.  Or Tula Pink fans will love hue-themed fat quarter bundles pulling together coordinating fabrics across Tula's lines, like this pretty Amethyst find.  Great idea!

Basics at Pink Door Fabrics
Line 1:  Happy Home, First Crush, Wanderer Red  Line 2:  Modern Background, Fruit Dots Stripe, Modern Background Line 3:  Wanderer Blue, Blueberry Park, Abacus



Already having a mostly balanced stash myself, I tend to pick and choose my purchases.  Here's a mosaic of basics I'd add to my stash in a heartbeat.  That diagonal black/white stripe is perfect for binding any quilt, and the grays - I definitely need more grays at the moment.  Check out the new metallic stripe from Cotton & Steel at center!  I've already ordered it in navy, hmm...

Personal Favorites at Pink Door Fabrics
Baby Bouquet, Playful, Wild and Free, Coloring Garden

If you enjoy the fabrics I use in my quilts, you may recognize some of these beauties.  Each inspired a project, color scheme or design choice in my work during 2015.  Pink Door Fabrics happens to stock many of my inspiration fabrics, proving we're a good match for one another.  Yay.



One more thing.  Pink Door Fabrics also has a quite tempting presale section.  You can make arrangements to get your mits on popular picks like half yard Mendocino cuts, 2016 Sun Prints and even whole Forest Fancy quilt kits all before they actually hit the shelves.  I wonder which ones you would be after?

Chelsea and Charlie are two friends who started Pink Door Fabrics on a whim.  They ship from Broomfield, Colorado and would love to send a package your way...  In fact, they're going to give one away!

::Giveaway::

One lucky reader will be awarded a $40 Pink Door Fabrics gift certificate to use as they like!  To enter just add a comment to this post now through noon on Friday the 5th of February, EST.  Giveaway open internationally!  Good luck, friends.

*****************Comments Closed********************

Comment #42 is our lucky winner, Mrs. Tubaville.  I'll be in touch!


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