Monday, November 25, 2013

one last fall project

In my house there are no Christmas decorations allowed until after Thanksgiving, so I've still got a few days left to enjoy this scrappy pumpkin...

Pumpkin fabrics: Lots of 2.5" squares of Kaffe, a little AMH, some Tula Pink, and some Michael Miller, swapped and shared from stash with my friend Andrea. Background: Kona Taupe (I think).

Quilting: outline/echo straight-line stitches in taupe using the even-feed foot on the background, and free-motion contouring in an orange variegated King Tut thread on the pumpkin.

Backing: An out-of-print Kaffe Fassett fabric called "Fans". Binding: Kaffe "Exotic Warm Woven Stripe", also from the stash!

Final measurements: 16.5" wide x 15.5" high. A hanging sleeve on the back holds a very small dowel rod that slips right into a pair of little 3M hooks mounted on my kitchen pantry door.

Given the small size of this project I didn't make use of a huge quantity of scraps, but the only thing I had to purchase was the background. In fact, now I've got even more scraps because Andrea and I just cut and cut and cut orange squares for an entire afternoon, not really paying attention to how many we might use. We've each got enough squares cut for 3 or 4 of these projects! My excess squares have been neatly tucked away in the 2.5" square bin for next year - maybe they'll become some fall-themed trivets using Insul-Brite as the batting?

Friday, November 15, 2013

a quilt for my mom

Earlier this year I found myself stopping and staring at the same finished quilt every time I shopped in one of my local quilt stores. This was the quilt - the original Amish with a Twist pattern by Nancy Rink.

When I'd look at the bolts of solids used in the quilt they didn't seem nearly as bright and saturated as they did against the black background of the finished quilt. And you know how I love the bright colors! I really wanted to make one, but I have no queen sized beds at my house, and I couldn't think of anywhere I would put it, so I shelved the idea.

Then a couple of months later, I discovered on the Hancock's of Paducah website that Nancy Rink had created a few different colorways of the same pattern and I asked my mom right away what she thought of this version...

Yep - she was all for it! So here we are several months later, and I've finally managed to take some photos of the progress. The pattern is sectioned into five "lessons", each one slightly increasing in difficulty so that beginners can feel comfortable starting out and learning new skills as they progress.

Here are the blocks from Lesson #1 - strip pieced rail fence, four-patches, and nine-patches. Nancy does a terrific job in this pattern with diagrams and clear, well-worded instructions. Any confident beginner could jump right in a have great success with this pattern.

Lesson #2 focuses on half-square and quarter-square triangles to make hourglass, star, and pinwheel blocks utilizing the best method for success - constructing the sub-blocks larger than needed and then trimming to size!

The fabrics used in this quilt are Centennial Solids from Marcus Fabrics. It will finish at 88" x 105.5" - perfect for my mom's queen sized bed!

The pattern for the version on cream background was not re-written to utilize the new fabric colors, but both Nancy Rink and Hancock's Paducah were able to send me a conversion chart so I could order the correct colors and change the color names in the original pattern. Honestly that has been the most challenging part since there are three colors that are used in both the dark and light versions, but not in the same places. That part is keeping me on my toes! Next time I'll show you blocks 7-12 from Lessons #3 and #4.

Happy Weekend!!

P.S. At the time I was ordering these fabrics, the kit for the light version was no longer available for purchase from Hancock's Paducah, but their telephone rep and Nancy Rink were both so helpful in guiding me to the correct colors and quantities I needed. So if you are interested in making the same quilt, you can click here to see the dark version pattern available for sale at Hancock's Paducah, and here for Nancy Rink's contact information.

Friday, November 8, 2013

everlasting pumpkins for fabric lovers

Christmas ads are already inundating us, but there are still a few weeks of fall remaining. Plenty of time for you to make a batch of these pumpkins to decorate your home for Thanksgiving.

I made these three last weekend, and it took me about one hour per pumpkin - a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon. The project will go even faster if you've got a willing crafty helper :)

You can find these carve-able pumpkins at JoAnns, Hobby Lobby, Michaels, and most chain craft stores. You'll also need fabric scraps, matte finish Mod Podge, and a foam brush.

I cut my fabric scraps into roughly 3" squares. I cut them with scissors, eye-balling the dimensions. No need for precision cutting on this project!

Beginning near them stem, brush a swipe of Mod Podge larger than your fabric square on the pumpkin. Place the fabric square on top of the Mod Podge, tamp it down, and then brush another layer of Mod Podge over the top of the fabric square.

Continue this process - layer of glue, fabric, glue over the fabric - down the side of the pumpkin, overlapping the fabric edges as you go.

Yes - this is my mostly Kaffe (and friends) pumpkin!

When you get to the bottom of the pumpkin with a "column" of fabric, start working your way back up to the stem. Continue until you have the entire pumpkin surface covered with fabric.

Check for any edges that may have lifted and re-glue them with another swipe of Mod Podge. Then you just have to wait for them to dry - usually only a couple of hours.

Now you've got some everlasting pumpkins to decorate your home. I've displayed mine on the fireplace hearth, but the outside photos are so much prettier!

You could cut your fabric scraps into any shape - rectangles, triangles, circles, diamonds - go crazy and have fun!

Next year I want to cover some white pumpkins with large dots of black and grey fabrics. What do you think?

Monday, November 4, 2013

snowflake pillows finished

The holiday snowflake pillows are completed and on display at my LQS. Here's a shot of the two pillow fronts and the little info cards I made to attach to each one.

The pattern called for the pillow backs to be closed with seven buttons. While I loved the look of the buttons in the pattern book photos, I didn't think that a button closure was the best option for a few reasons:
  1. that's a lot of buttonholes to sew
  2. all my buttons were different sizes so I'd need to recalibrate the buttonhole attachment frequently
  3. I didn't want the pillow backs to look like when a guy wears a too-tight shirt and the buttons are just barely keep everything contained

So I put a zipper under the buttonhole flap instead!

Now the backs are all smooth and pretty with just five decorative buttons each.

You can read more about the construction of these pillows here. The pattern I used can be found in Amanda Murphy's new book, Modern Holiday.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Thank You Lynn!

I have a wonderfully spunky friend Lynn (who always has the most infectious smile on her face) with mad skills in graphic design. Earlier this year (much earlier) she designed a logo for our newly forming Crystal Lake Modern Quilt Guild. In order to thank her properly with no funds to our name, we designed and made a quilt specifically for her.

And now that quilt has been delivered to her! After I finished sewing the quilt top, Paige (our CLMQG President and amazing machine quilter) finished this on her long-arm machine with an all-over pattern of swirls and curls in a light yellow thread.

The backing is one of my favorite prints from Heather Bailey's Pop Garden line - Pop Daisy in Red.

Lorrie (another CLMQG member and friend from SewMod Designs) sewed the red and white polka dot binding.

And this is my lovely friend Lynn. If you are ever in need of some awesome graphic design work, drop me a line and I'll pass your info to her. She really is the best!

Thanks Lynn!!

You can read more about the construction of this quilt here. The finished size is approximately 63" x 68".

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

snowflake applique pillows

I've found some Christmas spirit and started working on a couple of Christmas pillows for display at my LQS, Material Girl in Crystal Lake, IL.

The pattern I used is called "Snowflake Pillows", and it can be found in the new book, Modern Holiday by Amanda Murphy. This book is full of fun quilted projects you can make to decorate your home during the holiday season. I want to make all of the pillow patterns, as well as most of the quilts. You should definitely check out this book!

I traced the four unique snowflake patterns from the book onto Heat n Bond Lite, then fused them first to a Basic Grey Grunge fabric in white. I trimmed around the snowflake shapes and then fused then to my pillow fronts - four different snowflakes per pillow. Tiny zigzag stitches in matching thread cover the raw edges of the applique pieces and protect them from fraying.

Both of my pillows are made using the 2013 Basic Grey holiday line called "Aspen Frost". The first has a blue Grunge accent with nutcrackers and tree ornaments...

While the second pillow has a green Grunge accent with poinsettia flowers and pine needles. The buttons are for the pillow backs - I have quite a few mismatched deep red buttons of varying sizes from 3/4" to 1" that I plan to use to give each pillow a unique look, rather than purchasing new buttons that all match.

Each snowflake is centered on a 4.5" finished square, and the finished pillow will hold a 12" x 16" insert.

I quilted the green trimmed pillow with horizontal wavy lines on both the trim and main body pieces. The snowflake squares are not quilted because I appliqued through all the pillow front layers - pillow top, pre-washed flannel, and muslin backing.

The blue trimmed pillow is quilted with swirls - my favorite! - on the trim and main body pieces.

I'll show you the backings and completed pillows soon. I'm anxious to finish these and get them to the shop for display!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

My skirts are (sort of) famous!

My recent skirt sewing binge is featured over at Stop Staring and Start Sewing, the blog of Jona Giammalva, author of "The Essential A-Line", my new favorite skirt sewing book!


My first class on fitting the pattern and making the basic A-Line skirt will be held on Fridays, November 1 and 15 from 6:00-9:00pm (Parts 1 & 2) at Material Girl Fabric Shop in Crystal Lake. You can stop in the shop or call to register. I hope to see you there!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Fall Back finish

Another completed quilt for 2013! And just in time for the cold weather that is already upon us here in Northern Illinois - there are snow flurries in the forecast today - what?! The "fall back" clock change hasn't even happened yet.

But we are ready for snuggling with this extra large napping quilt. It's nearly twin sized, measuring 60" x 84" :)

The all-over quilting pattern features acorns and maple, ash, and oak leaves.

The quilting thread is a dark, rusty orange. It shows up really well against these light squares.

For the backing I used two large pieces from the stash and purchased the gold and rust print (Folkloric Blooms by Sue Spargo and Wendy Morris for Robert Kaufman) on the right.

The black and white wiggly stripe binding is from Moda's Halloween line The Boo Crew, and it's called "Black Tricky". Love that!

Now I've just got to put a label on this so it can be washed and dried for maximum cozy softness during TV watching or book reading in the cold days to come!

You can read more about the process I used to construct this quilt here.

Happy Fall!!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Modern Maples top done

This quilt top wasn't really finished in one day - I've been steadily working on it for a couple of weeks now. I started with this lovely stack of fall fabrics and about 4 yards of Robert Kaufman Quilter's Linen in a sandy/taupe beige color way.

In my version I opted to fill all the negative space from the original pattern with smaller leaves - 6" and 9" finished.

Adjusting the size of the blocks is not difficult. The maple leaf block is basically a version of a nine-patch block, so instead of each section finishing at 4" for a 12" block, I scaled the sections down to finish at 2" for a 6" block and 3" for a 9" block. The stem sections for the 12" block are cut at 2", so for the 6" version I cut them at 1", and for the 9" version I cut them at 1.5".

In this shot you can see the seam lines between blocks a bit more clearly. In order to "size up" the smaller leaves to fit the grid created by the 12" blocks, I bordered the 9" leaves with a 1.5" border on all sides. The 6" leaves were paired together with 6" background blocks into a four-patch block or bordered by 3" of background fabric.

And here is the "ugly duckling" fabric I mentioned yesterday. It caught my eye at a sidewalk sale five years ago where it was priced at $3/yard.  I have no explanation for buying it other than the fact that it looked so dimensional and I was caught up in the frenzy that is a fabric clearance sale. I honestly had to touch it to verify that it was printed cotton and not a chenille textured fabric. I really liked the colors, it had the requisite "bold, bright and loud" factor, so I just blurted out, "I'll take seven yards!" Why seven? Who knows?  I guess I thought it would make a great quilt backing that would probably require five yards, and then I might want to use it as a border also, so that might be another two yards. So yeah, seven seemed like the right number.

Since then it has been languishing in my fabric stash just waiting to be put to use. I'm so glad I didn't give it away or chop it into fat quarters for an "ugly fabric" guild challenge - which was my most recent plan to put it to use - because I think it is THE PERFECT BACKING for this quilt :)

Good things come for those [fabrics] that wait. Aaannnd wait.

P.S. This version of the Modern Maples quilt will finish at 63" x 85" finished (twin size). It will be late November before I get this one back from the longarm quilter, and (sadly) the spectacular sight that is Fall in the Midwest will be long gone by then...

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Modern Maples in progress

Because one fall quilt just wasn't enough for me this year, I jumped on the Modern Maples bandwagon and got busy making piles of these HSTs...

Which led to a big pile of these 12" finished maple leaf blocks - 19 to be exact...

These are a few of my favorites...

But then I was uncertain about the layout. The original pattern (available for free download here) calls for 18 maple leaf blocks in a 30 block (6 rows of 5 blocks) grid leaving lots of open negative space...

I just wasn't feeling the whole negative space thing on this quilt (and yeah, I wanted mine to be a little different than the original) so I added in some 9" and 6" maple leaf blocks to fill the grid that I expanded to 7 rows of 5...

Check back tomorrow for photos of the finished top and the "ugly duckling" backing I bought 5 YEARS AGO at a sidewalk sale because I thought that one day I might make the perfect quilt top to go with it :)

How old is your oldest chunk of yardage bought to use as a backing?

P.S. You can see lots of lovely Modern Maples quilts finished and in progress here at the Falling for Modern Maples Flickr group and on Instagram at #fallingformodernmaples and #modernmaples.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Inspiration of the Week in Kansas City

Exciting news! Some modern quilters in Kansas City find me inspiring this week...

My Improv Challenge Baby Quilt was featured Tuesday on the Kansas City Modern Quilt Guild blog as the "Inspiration of the Week".

Thanks to Sarah from the KCMQG for choosing my quilt. You've made my week :)


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