Sunday, July 8, 2018

100 days and 100 quilt blocks—can you do it?

Sew-alongs are excellent sources for motivation, inspiration and assistance for completing a project. A little peer-pressure and daily, weekly or monthly deadlines don't hurt, either, in keeping one "on task."
"Block 1" and "Block 2" out of 100 blocks.

I've decided to take part in the #100days100blocks2018 Sew-Along hosted by blogger, Angie Wilson, of GnomeAngel.com. There are tons of quilters from around the world engaging in this daily, 6-inch block-making activity from July 7 to October 14, 2018.

100 quilt blocks in 100 days?
Not that I need another project... but a recent Instagram "reminder" post from a new quilting friend, Angie, at Stitch Morgantown said that the First Day of #100days100blocks2018 was nearly upon us. I didn't analyze it or debate it with myself... I just jumped right in.

The guidelines and materials needed to participate are outlined on Gnome Angel's blog. So, outside of downloading the Kindle version of the book, "100 Modern Quilt Blocks" by Tula Pink (you need to the book to make the blocks), I had everything to get started. You probably do, too.
"Block 1" will finish at 6 inches.

My "100 Days 100 Blocks 2018" 3-point Plan
  • I'm using Majestic Batiks to make my blocks
  • I can "sew ahead" (as time permits) to keep up with daily #100days#100blocks2018 Instagram posts [I'm veronica.fiberantics on IG—come and follow me]
  • and... it's OK if I don't post daily... or maintain the pace... or finish all the blocks... 
The plan is to enjoy what fellow quilters post, send out supportive energy, and be inspired by everyone's creations.
Note: even though the title of the book has the word "modern" in front of the words "quilt blocks," it doesn't mean anything. Use your fabrics of choice and make a quilt that suits your tastes and speaks to your quilt-making vision. Check out the Instragram feed to see the variety!

For now, I'm having fun picking the colors to make these little 6" blocks. Cutting and sewing with the Majestic Batiks has been easy—especially with the little pieces used in these blocks. And, I have two quilt blocks more than I had yesterday.

Hey, to my blog stalker... have you ever done one of these kinds of sew-alongs?

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Mindful patchwork with Bumbleberries blenders

Welcome July! It's gonna be a hot and humid Summer Sunday here. So, with a caffeine boost from my mug of Kaldi's Dog coffee [from Etcetera Coffeehouse], I'm headed to the studio for some mindful sewing today.
The disappearing 9-patch is as great pattern for mindful patchwork.
Fabrics are Bumbleberries blender [Lewis and Irene] and
a black/white print from Spices Fusion [Art Gallery Fabrics].

An assortment of colorful Bumbleberries fashion blenders from Lewis and Irene prompted a browse through their website's selection of pattern downloads where I found this one—the Sew Mindful Quiltthat uses the disappearing 9-patch technique.
Bumbleberries blenders from Lewis and Irene are the focal fabrics.
A black/white print from the Spices Fusion collection from Art Gallery
is the background.
The disappearing 9-patch is a cool technique! It's efficient, forgiving, is easy to piece and it has multiple layout possibilities. Here is an in-progress snapshot of the design wall with blocks in a straight set layout.
Disappearing 9-patch straight setting.
Or, you can set the blocks on point.
Disappearing 9-patch set on point.

My pile of fabrics earmarked for garment patterns is on the back burner while I do some mindful patchwork.
A navy pintuck from Diamond Textiles (left).
Yalke from M&S Textiles Australia (top right).
From the Aligned collection by Art Gallery Fabrics (bottom right).

On the web page for the Sew Mindful Quilt pattern are these words:

In our increasingly busy lives, full of noise and occupied thoughts, it's good to give your mind some "time out."... Time for reflection and to find a little peace.

A good idea indeed! I hope you find time today for this.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

A sewing workshop with Linda Lee prompts looking at quilting cottons in a new way

Our quilt-making foremothers used fabric scraps from sewing clothes to make quilts. The clothing came first... then came the quilts. As quiltmakers, we naturally look at the cotton fabrics found in quilt shops from the viewpoint of making a quilt. But there are a lot of quilters who began sewing clothing—for themselves or for family—and ventured into quilting later. So, why don’t we look at those same bolts of cotton prints with a garment in mind? Good question! Let’s change that way of thinking.
Valencia Pants and Siena Shirt patterns from The Sewing Workshop.
Cotton fabrics from Diamond Textiles (left) and M&S Textiles Australia (center and right).
For Christmas, I received a wonderful gift from my husband. It was a workshop called “Exploring Fit, Fashion and Finish” with Linda Lee, owner of The Sewing Workshop. It was fabulous (the gift and the workshop)!
2018 Shakerag workshop with Linda Lee.
Not knowing exactly what might inspire me on this sewing adventure, I filled a suitcase with various fabrics—all cottons that can be found at most any quilt shop—packed my sewing machine, serger and a handful of matching threads and proceeded to the workshop... to explore garment possibilities under the guidance and tutelage of Linda Lee, a renowned sewing expert.

Overview of pants patterns available from The Sewing Workshop.
The Valencia Pants
My first goal, as was with many of the workshop attendees, was to fit a pant patten and make pair of pants. After Linda reviewed the features of all the pant patterns from The Sewing Workshop, I chose the Valencia Pants. It is a one-seam pant with a flat front and a partial elastic waistband. A good beginner pattern. My fabric choice was a yarn-dyed woven from Diamond Textiles.
Laying out the Valencia pants pattern.
I made the pants in one day and wore them the next.
Valencia pants. Yarn-dyed cotton from Diamond Textiles.

I added my must-have pockets with a contrast fabric piping detail. The pockets actually took longer to make than the pants themselves—really!
I drafted a pocket pattern for my Valencia pants.
A contrasting piping (Bush Camp yellow from M&S Textiles
The Siena Shirt
The next project for me was a top. In analyzing the schematic drawing for the Siena Shirt, this pattern lent itself to using either a single fabric or multiple, coordinating prints. My table mate, Alice, suggested combining these two prints from M&S Textiles Australia, Fire Dreaming (center front) and Plum and Bush Banana (front band, collar and side panels).
The Siena Shirt (from The Sewing Workshop) with fabrics from M&S Textiles Australia.
Here is a photo of the first try-on of my new Siena Shirt. The buttons and buttonholes need to be added and then it will be ready to wear. The fabric is soft and has good body and drape for this style of top.
First try-on of the Siena Shirt.

About The Sewing Workshop patterns

All of the workshop attendees created multiple garments during the workshop and I took home a few more of Linda's patterns for future projects. The patterns include tissue pattern pieces and construction instructions. Linda also did a trunk show for the class that gave ideas for additional modifications—lengthen/shorten, embellishments, fabric options, etc. A few of the things (and there are many more) I like best about The Sewing Workshop patterns are:

  • many of the garments can be made with either wovens or knits. This makes them very versatile.
  • many have multiple garments included in a single pattern envelop (pants and a coat, two different shirts, a sweater and a tank top). This makes them a great buy!
  • finishing details are included in the written instructions at the corresponding step of the construction process.
  • the patterns are sized and graded for "real" women. There were workshop participants of various sizes, shapes and maturity and several of them made pieces using the same pattern. The garments were appropriate, looked good and fit everyone.
Linda Lee (left) and workshop assistant, Diane Hall.
Take a spin on The Sewing Workshop website and think about using cotton quilting fabrics for clothing with these patterns. You might be surprised how nicely they work together. I've used fabrics from Diamond Textiles, M&S Textiles Australia and Art Gallery for garments, but there are others you might try.

Thank you to our talented, funny and generous instructor, Linda Lee, the workshop assistant, Diane Hall, and my fellow classmates for an inspiring, informative and enjoyable sewing workshop. My sewing machine, serger and a pile of quilting cottons are ready to go!

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 hand 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.

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