Sunday, June 10, 2018

Waste not, want not: the Postage Stamp quilt

The Postage Stamp quilt—a scrap buster project if there ever was one.
Antique postage stamp quilt top. Patches are finished to 1/2 inches square.
I was visiting Margaret at Quilt Connection [Murfreesboro, TN] last month and she said, "Veronica, I have a quilt top you might want to see." She was right!

Wow... and Double-Wow!
Antique postage stamp quilt top.
Even though this postage stamp quilt—a name given to this type of quilt pattern because all the patches are about the size of a postage stamp—is a scrappy quilt, you can tell [she] had a design plan. Standing at a distance, you can see the concentric dark/light rings.
The outside rows of the postage stamp quilt.
The precision of the piecing is amazing. These are 1-inch squares that finish at 1/2-inch.
Patchwork squares finish at 1/2 inch.
Several different fabric types can be found in the top... cotton prints, yarn dyed wovens (homespuns), solids, shirtings, a few flannels...
Fabrics: cotton prints, yarn-dyed, shirtings, flannels.
Don't you love the moon from a novelty print peeping out of this patch?
Novelty moon print.
Here is a reference of the size of the patchwork.
Look at the size of these pieces!
Every piece was not on grain, but this quiltmaker was persistent in her workmanship. And she even pieced some of the 1-inch pieces (see the red squares)!
Some of these small patches were even pieced.
Realize this is all hand pieced!
All hand pieced.
Back of the postage stamp quilt top. Hand pieced.
I don't remember what Margaret said the size of the top was, but you can see it would cover a bed. Lots of tiny pieces!
Antique postage stamp quilt.
This quilt top reminds me of the story about the 1863 Jane A. Stickle quilt. The quilt that was the impetus and inspiration of the Dear Jane book by Brenda Papadakis.
Center of the antique postage stamp quilt.
What was going through this quiltmaker's mind as she worked on this project? Were the fabrics from personal and family clothing? Did she collect scraps from other places (fabric mills, perhaps?) or from friends or neighbors? What was happening in her life during the assembly process?
Back of the quilt top showing the hand stitches.
If only these quilt tops could talk.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Return to sewing with a Ghastlie vengeance

In my travels, I'm thrilled to hear more and more interest in apparel sewing is popping up in quilt shops and independent sewing centers. Have you caught the bug?
"A Ghastlie Craft" by Alexander Henry Fabrics
previewed at Spring Quilt Market 2018.
If you're a quilter, you already have many of the skills needed to sew garments for yourself or family members. See this post where I used a form of "crazy patch"—a common quilting technique—for a knit pull-over. Here is another jacket I'm working on that incorporates quilting patchwork.
Patchwork on a jacket back. Fabrics are cotton yarn-dyed from Diamond Textiles.

Garment sewing featured at recent Quilt Market
Amy Barickman, from Indygo Junction, was at the Diamond Textiles booth at the recent Spring Quilt Market. Here is Amy, talking about garments made with Diamond Textiles' fabrics using her patterns. Simple silhouettes... casual wear and stylish... and easy to make.

You're not alone!
So, who's ready to make garments? When I was a guest speaker at the Madison Station Quilt Guild in April, I asked, "are there any garment sewers in the audience?" There were 5-7 members that raised their hands

Ask the members of your quilt guild. There are likely friends you already know that are making garments... as well as quilts.
"A Ghastlie Casting" from Alexander Henry Fabrics.
Take your quilt-making skills to another level. Expand upon them to add beautiful "patchwork" to your wardrobe, too.
"A Ghastlie Notion"  from Alexander Henry Fabrics.
Wield your shears! Brandish your threads and sewing notions! Extol your creative passion with fabric and stitch and do it all: quilting, sewing and garment making. Contact YLQS [your local quilt shop] and ask about classes and garment sewing supplies.

And wouldn't it be fun to incorporate a Ghasltie character on the back/front/sleeve of a garment??? 

Monday, May 28, 2018

Crazy patchwork with knits? Yes, it's possible!

With an upcoming three-day holiday weekend, I promised myself a longer, continuous, dedicated, hands-on chunk of time with my craft. Starting early in the day yesterday (by forgoing computer work), my mind was fresh. My studio space was flooded with natural light and I was excited to be working with fabric at the sewing machine again.
Knit fabric trimmings after cutting out the back pattern piece for a knit top.
A pile of knit fabric scraps greeted me on the cutting table. After cutting out the back for a knit top a few weeks ago, there wasn't enough fabric to cut out a front. I had considered a color block design, but didn't have fabrics that appealed to me. This is where the project initially stalled.

Crazy Patchwork with knits?
With a fresh eye and inspired by slow fashion, Me Made May, and the zero-waste movement, I decided to try crazy patchwork—with knits... nothing ventured, nothing gained, right? The knit fabric is from Art Gallery Fabrics and has a directional stripe design. If I pieced it randomly, the stripes would go in various directions. Hmmm... this could be interesting!

The scraps were pressed (using spray sizing) and edges cut straight with a ruler and rotary cutter to make the patchwork process easier. I started assembling peices—crazy patch style.
Knit patchwork using a crazy patch assembly method.
There was no intentional matching of the stripes. I just needed to fit the pieces together in the most efficient way to get a piece of fabric large enough to cut out the front bodice piece.
Patchwork bodice front.
There wasn't enough fabric scraps for one sleeve—let alone two. A contrasting fabric (also from another garment) was introduced to the mix.
A contrasting fabric was used for the sleeves.
With all the pattern pieces cut out, contruction began. 
Garment pieces ready for construction.
I love this top! 
  • The random angles of the stripe pattern give it a lot of interest. 
  • The piecing of the knit fabric scraps was not difficult. 
  • As with any patchwork pieces with bias (or stretchy) edges, spray sizing is a good solution.
  • I was able to get another top out of this piece of fabric.
  • I like the zero-waste concept and using up scraps.
  • I have something totally unique and fun to wear.

Patchwork with knit fabrics is possible!
Garment sewing is on the rise
Garment sewing for the home sewer is coming back in vogue. Quilt shops and independent sewing centers are expanding their fashion fabric offerings (including knits!) and are offering beginning sewing and garment sewing classes. So,Zo has a list of indie pattern companies that are offering discounts in conjunction with Me Made May 2018 Challenge.

If you are a quiltmaker, you already have many skills that will apply to garment sewing! I hadn't considered quilting techniques such as "crazy patch" or random piecing for use with *stretchy* knit fabrics, but it worked! Start with a fresh eye and an open mind and you'll be surprised what comes off your sewing machine.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Art Weave: Stitch or finish as desired

Mother's Day, a birthday, a special event, submission to an exhibit... I find that a "deadline" of some sort is often the best impetus for finishing a project. I recently received a text message from Michelle, one of the students in my recent Art Weave class at Chattanooga Sewing Machines and More, with this photo attached...
Michelle's hand quilted Art Weave piece.
Michelle hand quilted her Iris Art Weave! Isn't it lovely? It was a gift to her mom for Mother's Day.

Stitch or Finish as Desired
One of the cool (and fun) things about this class is that interpretation of the Art Weave technique is in the eyes and hands of each maker. Numerous variations and options for making and finishing this fabric art project is wiiiiide open... and each time I give the class, my students add to the list of possibilities. A few "finish as desired" options that I've done with Art Weave are:

free-motion quilting...
Free-motion quilting and Art Weave.
thread painting, bobbin work...
Thread painting, bobbin work and Art Weave.
We discuss several options in class for finishing an Art Weave project. But I love it when students put their own spin on their projects—like Michelle did! I hope that other students will send me pics of their finished Art Weave pieces.
Art Weave class at Chattanooga Sewing Machines and More.
Denise and I were in a guild together several years ago. I can't wait to see what she comes up with for her finished Art Weave piece.
Denise working on her Violets Art Weave.
Here is Pam's violets.
Pam's violets Art Weave.
Kyra chose the red poppy for her Art Weave.
Red poppy Art Weave by Kyra.
Art Weave was Danielle's first class (ever!) using fabric! She pushed the limits and experimented with varying strip sizes for her Art Weave iris and it looks fabulous!
Danielle's Art Weave iris.
Let Art Weave, fabric, thread and stitch inspire you to new directions.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Threadwork and bobbin drawing with heavy weight threads

Free-motion bobbin work with Eleganza pearl cotton
by WonderFil Specialty Threads on a yarn-dyed
textured cotton fabric from Diamond Textiles
My mom's favorite color was blue.
My grandma's favorite color was yellow.
My mother-in-law's favorite color is green.

Me? I like all the colors.

Sometimes, when I'm immersed in a particular color palette in my work, it reminds me of a special person in my life. Does the same happen to you?

If color and stitch tickles your fancy, feeds your creativity or elicits a special memory, there is an abundance of new threads on the market these days in colors that span the rainbow. The heavier weight threads are the ones catching my eye and I enjoy using them for both hand and machine stitching.

Experiments with bobbinwork
Here are some experiments with decorative stitches and free-motion bobbin work using Eleganza perle cotton from WonderFil Specialty Threads. Eleganza comes in weights: #3, #5 and #8.

The perle cotton thread is loaded in the bobbin and I use a 50 wt. cotton thread in a coordinating color for the top thread. Try stitching with the feed dogs up... or down.
Free-motion bobbin work with perle cotton threads.
French knots and a few lazy daisy stitches were added by hand.
French knots were added by hand.
Decorative machine stitching
Next up are 4-patch quilt blocks highlighted with decorative machine stitches in a 12 wt. cotton thread [Spaghetti from WonderFil]. The fabrics I am stitching with are yarn-dyed cottons from Diamond Textiles. These fabrics are easy to stitch with and serve as the perfect canvas to show off these fat, colorful threads.
Decorative stitching with 12 wt. cotton threads.
Remember to use a larger needle to accommodate a 12 wt. thread.
Yarn-dyed woven fabrics are a perfect partner for decorative stitching.
Heavier threads beg to be the center of attention... and I indulge them. They challenge me to draw with them—by machine and by hand.

About a month ago, I decided to gather up my threadwork experiments and combine them into a quilt top. The alternate squares, setting triangles and the outer border are from the Indie Folk fabric collection from Art Gallery Fabrics. The inside narrow border are more textured yarn-dyed fabrics from Diamond Textiles.
Threadwork experiments quilt top.
I think my Gram would like this quilt because it has a lot of yellow in it. A Happy Mother's Day to all the moms, grandmoms, moms-in-law and anyone else that cares, nurtures, loves and encourages us to do and be the best we can.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Trunk show with the Bulloch Hall Quilters

This week, I'm headed to Georgia to talk about fabric and give a trunk show for the Bulloch Hall Quilt Guild. I was contacted over a year ago by Jan, the program coordinator, and have been looking forward to attending this meeting because I actually know a few of the members through my travels as a fabric strategist.
Sample cards of yarn-dyed textured woven from Diamond Textiles.
My trunk show will consist of samples—quilt tops and garments—made with several of my fabric lines. I am hoping to get feedback from this group of quilters like I did when giving the presentation for the Madison Station Quilters in Alabama.
Aboriginal designs from M&S Textiles Australia. 
My friend Holly Anderson, who is also a certified quilt appraiser, is hosting a small potluck dinner with several of the guild members before the presentation. I am sure the conversation will be lively and it will be fun hanging out with a bunch of quilters.
An upcoming fabric collections with metallic from Lewis & Irene.
Reacquainting with old friends, meeting new ones, and sharing our passion for quilting and fabrics... it's all good! Now I gotta go pack the bags...

Friday, April 27, 2018

Make fabric art in an Art Weave workshop

Doing anything reeeeally fun on the last day of April? If not, why not join me for a few hours making woven fabric art!?!
Art Weave class
Art Weave” class, Monday, April 30
I’ll be teaching the Art Weave technique at Chattanooga Sewing Machines and More on Monday, April 30. Two class times are available: 10 am or 6 pm.

Minimal supplies are needed to create a maximum amount of “flower power” with these beautiful large scale fabric prints. Kits are available with the class. Call the store today to get in on the fun. 
Art Weave with large scale flower designs.
These flowers bloom year ’round... rain, shine, day and night. 

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Talking "Fabric" with the Madison Station Quilters

The room was filled with nearly 70 guild members and visitors that attended my “From Field to Fabric” lecture and a trunk show at the Madison Station Quilters guild meeting last week. It was a lively evening! An enthusiastic and inquisitve group of quiltmakers and several garment sewers asked thoughtful questions about the fabric manufacturing processes as well as the fabric samples that I brought for Show and Tell.
English paper pieced hexagons with aboriginal fabrics from M&S Textiles Australia.

A Trunk Show of WIPs
What’s fun about presenting to a group of "quilty" kindred spirits is that they “get it” if you show a WIP (work in progress). I passed around a handful of English paper pieced hexagon blocks (above), two in-progress kantha embroidery pieces ...
Kantha hand emboirdery on yarn-dyed textured woven from Diamond Textiles.
and did a show and tell of four unquilted quilt tops.
Charm square quilt top combining Australian aboriginal designs from
M&S Textiles and batiks from Majestic Batiks.

Q and A
After the presentation, the Q&A part of the evening covered discussion about:
Ikat sample.
  • The differences between yarn-dyed and printed fabrics,
  • Ikat fabrics [from Diamond Textiles],
  • Keeping a print design on grain,
  • Using the “right side” or the “other right side” of a yarn-dyed fabric,
  • Sewing patterns for my jackets,
  • Digital fabric printing,
  • Machine trapunto.
More info about my projects that illustrate these topics can be found in these blog posts:
I did have two completed quilts that featured fabrics from Lewis and Irene, a UK fabric company that just established its USA division in October 2017. This little quilt has machine trapunto and mixes fabrics from Lewis and Irene, Art Gallery, and the border is an aboriginal print from M&S Textiles.
Machine trapunto "Enchanted" quilt featuring Lewis and Irene fabrics.

Fabric Samples and Feedback
Attendees were kind enough to provide feedback on their favorite fabrics from the samples that were on display. Favorites included:
  • From Diamond Textiles: Woven Elements, Primitive Rustic, and Primitive Stars were the top vote-getters followed by Embossed Cottons, Kalamkari, Nikko Earth, Picket Fence. The wildly popular ikat fabrics got write-in votes!
  • From M&S Textiles Australia: all the prints were well received with specific requests for Spiritual Woman, Kingfisher, Wild Bush Flower, Spirit Place, Rebirth Butterfly Spirits and Dancing Flowers.
  • From Lewis and Irene: Bumbleberries, Geometrix, Lindos, and Celtic Reflections were top favorites followed closely by Water Meadow, Fairy Lights (glow-in-the-dark), and City Nights.

Thank you!
Thanks again to Susan Yell, the guild's current President for the invitation, the two lovely volunteers that modeled my jackets, the quilt angels that held up the quilts and tops, the leadership team members that swooped in to help set up and then pack up my sample bags at the end of the evening, and to everyone who came out to spend the evening talking about quilting fabrics with me. Your excitement and overwhelmingly positive reception to the yarn-dyed textured wovens and hand printed kalamkari fabrics from Diamond Textiles, the bold colorful aboriginal designs from M&S Textiles Australia, and the contemporary “sophisticated cute” fabric collections from Lewis and Irene is contagious! I am pumped with a renewed interest in creating more quilts, garments and other projects with these fabrics and I hope you are, too.

Cast your Votes
Please tell your local quilt shops [YLQS] that you are interested in these fabrics! You are the fabric influencers for the quilt shops and independent sewing centers that you support.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Trunk show at the Madison Station Quilters guild

Forever ago (it seems), Susan from the Madison Station Quilters, invited me to give a presentation at her guild. The time has arrived for my speaking engagement: this Thursday (tomorrow), in Madison, Alabama, which is just outside of Huntsville.
Bobbin work on yarn-dyed wovens from Diamond Textiles.
With my presentation, I'll have a few of my pieces for a trunk showquilts and garments. I’ve been exploring yarn-dyed fabrics in various capacities for about a year—with hand stitching, bobbin work, decorative machine stitchesand combining the yarn-dyed textured wovens with vintage and other printed quilting cottons.

I'm finding the juxtaposition between the textures (one of the inherent characteristics) of the yarn-dyed wovens and the patterns of the printed cottons fascinating and refreshing... and in a way, sophisticated! 
Kalamkari block-printed cotton fabrics from Diamond Textiles. 
When I mentioned to Susan that I'd like to bring "show and tell" and some fabric samples to the meeting, she was excited. I said I'd like to introduce the guild members to a few new fabric lines (from the UK, India and Australia) and show examples. I hope to provide a different view and ideas for mixing fabrics. Another quilting friend calls it "patchwork fusion."
Fabrics from M&S Textiles Australian.
I am excited to see and hear the feedback from the Madison Station quilters. Mixing fabrics that are made in different parts of our world and inspired by different cultures is fun and exciting... and sharing ideas with fellow quilters is even better! Alabama, here I come.

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