Sunday, August 28, 2022

Whimsy and Onyx—a fabric blender dynamic duo

Whimsy and Onyx. Sound like names of comic strip characters, don't they? 

In the quilting world, Whimsy and Onyx are two blender collections from P&B Textiles. And I'm using this dynamic duo for the 100 Days 100 Blocks 2022 sew-along.

Fat quarter bundles of Onyx (far left) and Whimsy from P&B Textiles.

What's to like about Whimsy and Onyx

When Whimsy was first introduced as a P&B basic, I was immediately drawn to it because:

  • it covers the full color spectrum without being overwhelming—there are 50 pieces in the collection.
  • the collection includes a range of grays—with both cool and warm grays.
  • there is a variety of prints with a 21st century aesthetic—ditzies, florals, and geometrics.
  • these small-scale prints are well-suited for "supporting cast members" to coordinate with larger scale designs and other focal prints.
  • however... the designs are unique enough to stand on their own!

Onyx is a tonal black-on-black basic that also offers a variety of designs—dots, lines, bursts, grids, geometric and organic patterns. This collection definitely provides a contrast and counterpoint to the colorful Whimsy.

Onyx is a black-on-black blender collection from P&B Textiles.

In addition to the 12 different designs, other characteristics of Onyx are:

  • the base cloth is dyed black—check the "wrong side" of this fabric! There won't be any white threads or whiskers showing when cutting, piecing, doing fusible appliqué, embellishing, or quilting by hand or machine.
  • because it's black throughout, you can use the back side of Onyx if you're in need of a solid black.
  • the collection's versatile designs. This blender can be used in traditional quilts, contemporary/modern quilts, college and T-shirt quilts,  and "guy" quilts. Several of the designs are geometric or gender-neutral.
  • and who doesn't love an accent of black—or black and white—to add sparkle and zing to a quilt???
Not having used much tonal black-on-black fabrics as a major part of a quilt, incorporating Onyx into the 100 Days 100 Blocks project this year is a challenge I set for myself. (So far, it's going well.)

Making 100 blocks with Whimsy and Onyx

The 100 Days 100 Blocks sew-along started August 1 (but anyone can jump in at any time!). My first blocks were pieced with the cool colors from the Whimsy line with accents of Onyx

Whimsy and Onyx blenders with Bloc Loc half-square triangle and flying geese rulers.

A sampling of the cool color blocks on the design wall...

33 patchwork blocks of the Kinship Sampler quilt. Blocks are 8.5" square and 4.5 x 8.5" (unfinished).
Whimsy and Onyx fabrics from P&B Textiles.

As I approached cutting pieces for Block 50—the halfway point—I dipped into the warmer hues of Whimsy.

Warm yellows and oranges from Whimsy and black-on-black Onyx.

A sampling of the warm color blocks...

Several blocks using the warmer hues of Whimsy.

Batch processing

For efficiency, I create the blocks in batches—ahead of the posting schedule. I cut a bunch of blocks... piece that batch... photograph that batch... and format the photos for the Instagram posts. Then I post the block on its appropriate day.

This is an example of a stack of blocks ready for piecing.

Batch cutting the blocks.

There is a 100 Days 100 Blocks tracker available for the program. I haven't kept up with filling in the "post" column, but it's fun to color in the other activities as I do my batching processes.

100 Days 100 Blocks 2022 event tracker.

Make it your own—throw in a little Onyx

The Kinship Sampler pattern is shown in three shades of blue + white to give a sense of the patchwork. Sometimes I follow the value [lightness or darkness of a fabric] placement provided in the pattern... sometimes I don't. 

Sometimes I use leftover pieces (or mis-cuts) from previous blocks. And sometimes I remind myself, "Hey, throw in a patch of Onyx!"      Zing!

Onyx (top) and Whimsy blenders from P&B Textiles.

Whether these 100 blocks make it into a single quilt, two or more smaller quilts, or something else... the Whimsy and Onyx blenders from P&B Textiles are producing dynamic patchwork results for my Kinship sampler blocks. 

Ask YLQS [your local quilt shop] for these fabric collections. They should be on everyone's color wall and in every quilter's stash.

Thursday, August 25, 2022

September Textile Love 2022—I'm in!

Are you getting ready for Seam Collective's September Textile Love 2022 Challenge? This will be my 5th year! I first participated in 2018.

September Textile Love Challenge 2022, #septtextilelove

The September Textile Love Challenge, hosted on Instagram, began in 2017. Each year, through the month of September, daily prompts inspire people to post photos of their interpretation of the prompt. The list of prompts is posted at the end of August on the Seam blog, but it you want it a week in advance, sign up for their newsletter. They also offer a planning sheet for making notes and helping you get organized.

All kinds of people participate, not just textile artists!. So if you're interested in making new textile connections, or want to bathe in a vast pool of inspiration, innovation, fibers, color, texture and pattern, you're invited to join in or follow along at #septtextilelove

Sunday, August 14, 2022

Back in the saddle with free-motion quilting

 Gee whiz… it’s been waaay too long since I sat down at the machine and dropped the feed dogs!

Free-motion quilting a charity quilt.

Free-motion quilting charity quilts

My guild had its annual charity quilt-making workshop this weekend where a group spray-baste station was set up. I brought in two quilt tops to be basted. 

Today, I sat down to do the free-motion quilting, and the first cuddle quilt was quilted in about 50 minutes. It was fun, effortless and totally intuitive. Free-motion quilting on a kid-size charity quilt is a good way to get back into the free-motion quilting saddle.

Free-motion quilting a charity quilt.

Free-motion quilted cuddle quilt.

The next quilt top under the needle was a kitty quilt that was made with improv blocks and leftovers from the quilt above. I chose a variegated 50 wt cotton thread from WonderFil Specialty Threads in shades of purple and lavender. 

50 wt. variegated cotton thread for quilting.

The quilt back for this quilt was a red flannel. So I gathered several partially-filled bobbins with red thread from my bobbin donut.

Using up several partially-filled bobbins.

With a new free-motion bobbin case for my Janome M7, the tension balanced easily and despite the contrast in color between the top lavender variegated and the red bobbin thread, there was no show through. The batting had a poly/cotton content—giving it a bit more loft and allowing the quilting stitches to sink into the fabric. This kitty quilt was quilted in about 30 minutes… a bit longer than usual because of the multiple bobbin changes.  

Flannel back of the kitty quilt.

Free-motion quilting on scrappy kitty quilt. Trimmed to about 25” x 29”.

I have one more cuddle quilt top to quilt and bind for the guild. I hope it goes as smooth as these.

Logging in free-motion quilting time in my Create Daily Tracker

As seen in my Create Daily tracker for 2022, I don’t get much time for free-motion quilting. After all, I kinda need to be at home… in my studio… where my sewing machine is. Hopefully it won’t be too long before I quilt the second cuddle quilt.

Sadly, I’ve only logged in 4 days of free-motion quilting this year.
Something needs to change!

Machine pieced. Free-motion machine quilted. Next step: machine binding on these two charity quilts and quilting one more quilt top.

Sunday, August 7, 2022

It's a quilt top finishing weekend

An email reminder about my guild's annual charity sew-in popped into my Inbox this week. It prompted me to search the studio for any blocks or tops that could be readied for next weekend's group-baste session (an extremely expeditious way to get quilt tops basted).

Two completed Cuddle Quilt tops ready for basting.

The search for tops and blocks

One top made with orphan blocks and the disappearing cutting technique that was finished this January was ready for basting. 

A stack of retired fabric samples from a Poppie Cotton fabric collection (Hopscotch and Freckles) was transformed into this second Cuddle Quilt top.

Cuddle Quilt top ready for basting. 35" x 43"

One for the kids, and one for the kitties

Combining the remaining Poppy Cotton fabric swatches, a handful of improv blocks, and other scraps, I got a second, smaller, quilt top for a kitty quilt.

Improv scrap blocks in a kitty quilt top.

Improv scrap blocks.

This scrappy little kitty quilt top went together quickly.

Kitty quilt top combining fabric swatches and scrap blocks.
29" x 25.5"

And a UFO 

And this quilt top that was patiently waiting on the design wall got its borders attached! The blocks are from my 2021 100 Days 100 Blocks Kinship Sampler quilt-along for which I used my favorite Australian aboriginal prints from M&S Textiles Australia.

Twenty-five blocks from the 2021 Kinship Ssampler with M&S Textiles Australia.
58" x 58"

I'm targeting this sampler quilt to satisfy my second "UFO finish" prompt for Make Nine 2022. I just have to pick a backing fabric and then clear off the tables in the workroom for pin basting.

Monday, August 1, 2022

Color blocking a shirt with Paintbrush Studio flat fat stacks

Color blocked garments combine one or more fabrics that are usually contrasting, bold, or unexpected, in a single garment to make a statement. Color blocking is a cool trend and can make use of interesting sewing techniques. Have you tried this technique? 

I just completed a creative experiment to make a "faux" color blocked shirt using a flat fat stack from Paintbrush Studio.

Color blocked Siena Shirt using Indian Summer cotton fabrics.

So, what’s a flat fat stack?

Paintbrush Studio Fabrics offers "flat fat stacks" with their quilting cotton collections. A flat fat stack is a selection of fat-quarter-size (18” x 22”) prints that are printed side-by-side on a single, continuous piece of fabric. It’s like buying a fat quarter bundle only the fat quarters aren't individual pieces—they come on a long piece of fabric. I used a flat fat stack from the Indian Summer collection by Sumana Ghosh-Witherspoon for this shirt. It had 12 fat quarter prints—or 3 yards of fabric. 

The Siena Shirt pattern

My shirt pattern was the Siena Shirt from The Sewing Workshop. It’s a pattern I’ve used numerous times so I was familiar with the pattern pieces and the construction.

The Siena Shirt pattern from The Sewing Workshop.

Pattern layout and construction

Laying out the pattern pieces was similar to the pattern's diagrams except the fabric was laid out in a single layer—no pieces were cut on the fold or in a double layer. Left and right front pieces were cut from different areas of the fabric to achieve the color blocked look. Same with the back pieces.

Pattern pieces laid out on a single fabric layer.

The collar, collar stand, sleeves, and back yoke were cut from different areas of the fabric and prints, too. The Siena Shirt worked well for this initial experiment because there were several smaller pattern pieces that could fit easily on a fat quarter piece of fabric.

The Siena Shirt made good use of the variety of prints in the flat fat stack.

During construction, I was careful to line up the prints across the front and side front seams and the back and side back seams. I didn’t have to match anything at the side seams.

Matching the print at the front seams.

The button band also looks color blocked. After button auditioning, the dark red ones made the cut.

Auditioning buttons for the front button band.

My 6th Make Nine finish for 2022

I’m fulfilling the “Something New in ’22” prompt for my Make Nine Challenge with this project. The extra thought and time involved with laying out the pattern pieces and matching the prints was worth the challenge and experimentation. 

Make Nine 2022 tracker, July 31, 2022.

Using the continuous yardage format of the flat fat stack eliminated the piecing that's generally required for color blocking... but achieved the same visual effect. The asymmetry is very much like color blocking seen in garments with this fashion trend. Because the various fabric prints were from a fabric collection, the designs and aesthetic were cohesive... which made choosing the fabric(s) easy.

"Faux color blocked" Siena Shirt. It goes with everything!

My husband’s comment about my new shirt: “It goes with everything.”

That's a "win!"

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