Wednesday, August 31, 2011

New from EQ Boutique

My EQ BoutiqueIf you use EQ, check this out.   
 It's for EQ Boutique, a new site for block collections from EQ.   I just did the free download of Ohio Star blocks and got a big collection of applique blocks too. 
  The program can be linked to EQ or  use it to print the downloaded  block patterns or templates for applique.  
Just passing it on.

The answer is....

  On the right side about half way can see a 4 patch unit that got turned the wrong way.  It is not a huge obvious mistake, but it is there.  I am not stressing over it.  But after all the questions of where is it, I thought I had better answer and use a better photo. 
  Happy stitching.

Monday, August 29, 2011

The end of Summer

There was a hint of coolness in the air this morning.  Summer is winding down, and the flowers are fading.  And I completed my Summer of Love quilt today....and all the memories that go with it. 

Seeing this spread out in the shade, made me think of the song, "What a day for a daydream".

Thrown over a porch chair, you can see a bit of the quilting design.  Yes, my favorite swirls spread all over the entire top.  I like the way they softened the whole thing, rather than making one part stand out. 
I used Isacord thread....oyster color for the quilting.  For sure, this is "Mellow Yellow".
Look close....can you see my mistake?   LOL....I didn't spot it until I was finished with the quilting.   Actually, there is another 4 patch placed wrong too....I just can't see it in this photo.  They can remind me of the "mistakes" I made in my youth. 

And finally, the label.  I found a flower graphic very typical of the 60's that I used in the background.  It doesn't show very well because I formatted the color of it to the lightest gray, so that the text would show up over it.  But I did use a new trick here.  The border fabric was added and turned under around the label.  Then  I added strips of heat and bond light around the edges on the back and fused it to the back of the quilt.  It will hold it until I get the edges stitched down by hand.   A great temporary label! 

  Many thanks to Bonnie Hunter for discovering the inspiration quilt and sharing the pattern for the florabunda blocks.  She has a pdf version of the pattern and instructions posted at
Happy stitching.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

A little help from my friends...

 I've been quiet, but busy.    I finished up the quilting on the florabunda/yellow one....looks good.  Now to get the binding on.
   We did a work day at Deana's.  Her "friends"---or the bodies, I  should say---needed to be moved into storage for a while.  If you watch Project Runway, you are familiar with these dress forms.  She has a  various sizes in her collection now, but limited room.  So these were going to storage until needed.   I think  I should make dust covers for them.....just something to add to the project list. 


 I started a few string pieced blocks .....I am sticking to a color way for this one.
  Don't tell....but  I wonder if Trey will recognize that pink princess fabric? 
Happy stitching.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Quick project

  I'm ready to quilt Summer of Love, or I thought I was until I read a post on Borderline quilter.  Kay does beautiful quilting and she showed a quilt that was transformed from simple and plain to amazing.  The quilting blended and softened the blocks.  Hmmm....I need to re-think how I am going to quilt  this, afterall.  So,  I side tracked to do something simple and easy and let the quilting thoughts simmer.
 Here's what I started with:  more batik strings and strips like I used for the table runner. 

Placemats----Ingredients required:
Strips, strings, or scraps of your choice
batting cut to size--12" by 17"
fabric for backing--approximately 12 1/2" by 18"

Once I had pieced large sections of strings together, I used the batting as a foundation to sew and flip the sections together. 

I cut the batting about 1/2" smaller  overall  in each direction....that way I don't have to trim it ot of the seam after sewing.  Stitch around all sides, leaving a 3 inch opening for turning.   I also leave the backing fabric larger and trim down after sewing.  After pressing, I straight stitch around all four sides about 1/4" from the edge, then I free motion quilt.  Done!

    Strings are so easy.  I do love quick and easy.  There may be a string quilt--or two-- in my future.  That is, after I get the big yellow one quilted!
Happy stitching.

What road?

   Last month we pulled the bowflex into the sun room because of the heat and humidity in the garage.  I was determined to improve my flexibility  and  keep my mobility.  So it is 6 weeks later and there is noticeable improvement to me.  My back is so much better, just light resistance makes such a difference. 

   This led to a new ride....I have logged miles, but not gone anywhere.  So at least every other day, I do the peddling thing. 
And if I've been at the sewing machine too long, a  10 minute ride stretches everything out.  Resistance with no impact on my knees and ankles...I love it. 
Insight:  Exercise the body, relax the mind, release creativity!  

This morning I visited  Tunisia  thru Nadia's blog.  It set me to thinking about the distance I have traveled.  My road is not gravel, but paved with fabric and all the extras.  My destination is not determined by compass or necessity, rather  guided  by  my impulse and  creative heart.  My purpose is nebulous and is what I need to really nail down.  For now,  I seek to pass it encourage.    Think about it-----What road are you on?
  I love all the comments and drop ins  from all over the world.  It is very interesting to see what the rest of the world is doing.  Be sure you have an email linked to your blogger account, so I can reply.
Happy stitching. 

Sunday, August 21, 2011

A couple more layouts

I looked back at the layouts for the strip pieced watercolor and realized I had over looked my all time favorite design.  The barn raising, or diamond on point, which is so universal and well liked.   You have probably figured out by now, that log cabin layouts work wonderful with this technique.
 I am one block short here....but then I am a few days late with it, too!
  And another variation with the blocks I have ---using the same design layout.  The change is in the center 4 blocks.  I used 4 blocks of the unit I did with the medium and dark in the opposing corners for the center.  It creates a neat square within a square design. 

  And just to confound and confuse you a little bit more....What if this design ( or any of the other ones,too) is done on point? The effect changes.  Just think what you could do in the corner triangles.....
  I need more blocks, because I might just feel the need to try a couple of these layout.
 Happy stitching,

Friday, August 19, 2011

Strip pieced watercolor--Part 3 Design time

Part 1 was on prep and layout, part 2 was on the sewing and cutting.  One note and correction point on part 2:  I said  it would take 3 hours sewing time....that was a long guess.  I can put together strips cut from FQ and get 10 blocks in 45 minutes, and  full width cuts in about 1 1/2 hours.  I sew fast and know the technique, but I think a more reasonable time is 2 hours max.  

Part 3 is Design Time!
This is the part I love.  Just me and the design wall and a stack of blocks to play with!
  How about a wreath.....the center area would be great for applique. Uses 16 blocks,  4 across by 4 down.    Remember these blocks will finish at 5 1/2", so this will be small. 

Or another arrangement that uses just 16  blocks, 4 across by 4 down.  Concentrate the dark areas and create  a small wall hanging or table topper.  

Now...I really like this layout.  A simple streak of lightning layout of dark areas and light areas.  The layout is like using log cabin blocks.    Add  a few more sets of  blocks and create a throw size.  Or turn this size into a wall hanging and add applique vines and a border.  I used 25 blocks for this one,  5 across and 5 down. 

How about a star?  It doesn't show real well in the photo, but on the design!  I really like this too.  I used 24 blocks for this one....4 across and 6 down.  The effect could be stronger for this....I will refer back to it later.

   I know, you are asking, where is the heart?  Well, I came up 2 blocks short on it.  But I managed to get a passable heart layout.  The minimum number of blocks needed for a heart is 36. 

To get a good heart shape, you need at least 20 blocks that have a very strong "log cabin appearance".  By that I mean, half light and half dark fabrics.    Tip to get the heart shape:  Start at the bottom and create the center.  Work up one side, establishing the dark line.  Then go to the other side and duplicate the first side.   

I was working with 3 sets of blocks made from short strips and fat quarter strips.  . 
 This photo shows one block from each set of blocks that I made.  
  The first block on the top left  is mainly medium fabrics with a strong dark corner at the bottom. It is more "muted or muddy", and it good for the streak of lightning layout.  It has the "log cabin" look of half dark and half medium to light. 
  The block at the bottom left has  a stronger dark side, and a stronger light side.  This is the type of fabric  layout  I need to create a stonger star effect.  The more the block resembles a log cabin, the better. 
  The third block on the right.....a blended and muted block overall.  I put lights at opposite corners, and darks at the other opposing corners, and filled in with mediums.  This block is used in the center area of the heart.  If you are interested in doing a heart, you will need 4 to 6 blocks that are more light and medium for that center area.   
  So, you can see that  your layout is influenced by the darkness/lightness  of the block.  Be sure to include the darks, which  many people are afraid to use.  The eye sees the dark first.  The star design would be stronger with more darks in the blocks. 

  One last thing,  this technique is easy but can be intimidating.  Don't let that stop you.  Study the fabrics I use and in quilts you see online and in books.  Be willing to try something simple first.  Get a value viewer
(or ruby beholder), or use a door peephole in reverse, take photos. 

This book by Deanna Spingola contains lots of photos and ideas.  And.... features a quilt by Wanda.  Don't forget to check out her color wash quilts and other blog for fabrics that are perfect for this technique.  I hear the fabrics are moving quickly.
NOTE:  The links were wrong, but are now corrected.

So what's your favorite? See anything you want to try?  I hope so.
 I hope you have enjoyed this tutorial.  Please let me know if you have questions or if there is something I need to explain better.  I'd love to hear from you, and see what you create.  Send me a photo! 
 I need to make a few ---or a lot---more block sets, and get the Summer of Love quilted, and make the label, and there's bread to bake for Sunday..........Happy stitching. 

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Strip Pieced Watercolor--Part 2

   WOW!  The response  yesterday was over whelming....thanks for commenting and  the emails.  This is a long post for part 2...hang in there.

Sewing the strips can be confusing.  You need to keep them in order, so please follow closely.  (Note:  For this section of the tutorial, I am working with very short strips.  I will end up with 3 blocks.)  With this technique you are not limited to a certain  size.  I am using 4 x 4 in this tutorial, but you can use whatever number of fabrics that you want.  25 fabrics = 5x5  36 fabrics = 6x6, and so on.
  Before you begin, create a swatch card   (found on the Pattern Page at the bottom)  or take a photo and print it out as a guide for fabric placement.  What's a swatch card?  It's like a road map, only for fabric.  You can use an index card and number 1 thru 16 for this project.  Beside each number tape a sliver or scrap of the fabric  that is being used in this layout.  This is the visual reminder when you are sewing of the correct order and placement. 

   You have 4 rows across and 4 down.  We will sew the first row down together, the second row down, then the third and fourth. 
Create a stack of row 1 down by removing the bottom fabric first--# 10.  Then place the fabric above it --# 6--on top, then the next --#3--on top of the stack, and finally the upper corner--#1-- on top.  This stack is now row1....label it with a sticky note or tape marked 1. 
Repeat for the other 3 rows down.  Label each and set aside.   These stacks will become your strip set for this group of blocks.    I have created stacks for the 4 rows and I am ready to begin the sewing.  Set your machine for straight stitch and for 1/4" seam.  Either move your needle over, use 1/4" foot, or what ever works for you.  The need here is for consistency!

  Sew:  Follow this order for each stack.  The first strip is face up and the second strip is placed face down and sew together with 1/4" seam.  The third strip is added---the 2 sewn strips are face up and the third strip to be added is on top.
  Remember:  To maintain the correct order, always sew with the next strip to be added on the top.   You will always be adding to the right of the group you are sewing.  If you flip it over (and add to the left) the fabrics will not blend as they are out of order.   Refer to your swatch card.   Sew careully and do not stretch your fabric.  A bow in your strip set wastes time and fabric. 
  Sew all 4 stacks together.  You will have strip set units ready to press and sub-cut.

On the row tags I added an arrow for the pressing direction of the seams for each row.  Odd rows get pressed to the left, and even rows to the right.  That way the seams will nest together when sewn.  I press from the back first and then also from the front to make sure I do not have any "tucks" and that everything is smooth and straight. 

  Now you need to sub-cut each strip set  unit into 2" strips.  I prefer to use the shape cut mat with slots in it....that way I can make  several cuts with out having to move the ruler.  Or use a regular ruler.
 Sub-cut into 2" strips.
 Stack the sub-cut strips into rows.  Lay them out in the correct order.  For this grouping the lightest fabrics are at the top.   Again...lay them out in the correct order. 

Or you might just end up with something like this........Wrong layout....the last 2 rows are placed upside down.
A gal brought a strip pieced watercolor quilt to guild last month and asked what she had done wrong. It was at this point that she had reversed 2 of the rows and she lost the blended effect.   Her darks were all in the middle and lights on the edges. 

Another reminder to refer to your swatch card or original photo layout. 

 Now sew the blocks together, keeping the order correct. 
Always sew with the new piece on the top.  These blocks will be 6" when you  finish stitching. 
  Press each block.
   Sew...after about 3 hours of sewing, pressing and cutting, you will have about 20 blocks from full width of fabric cuts, or about 10 blocks from fat quarter cuts.   Now what? 
  I am going to finish up my second layout and prepare a couple of variations to share in the next part.  And we will look at layout options.   
 Did you visit Wanda yet?  Or go to her other blog for fabric?  She has lots!  Keep will be happy you did.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Why do I quilt?

     I received this photo in an email....the message  was  "Miss my quilt."
Yep, I cried.  I know why I quilt. 
Insight:   Seeing someone I love snuggled under a quilt I made for them, just priceless.  I think it is time for a big boy quilt for Remy.
Happy stitching.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Strip Pieced Watercolor Tutorial Part 1

I had another request for a  tutorial on these quilts, the Shadow Heart and Kit Kat.  So here goes......some of this may sound like a repeat, and it is.  Bear with me.
  Lights, mediums and darks!
You need fabrics with color and different values of color to achieve blending.  Florals work wonderful, and prints and designs that are  not straight lines.  Oriental prints are great too. All sizes of prints....some closely spaced and no background showing, and others with background showing and less dense florals. I also use some paisleys and swirl-type designs. All types of leaf prints, but I avoid tone-on-tone type prints, as they hard harder to blend.  A note on the background color of the fabrics: Avoid bright yellow and red backgrounds as they do not blend well. You need backgrounds in white, beige, tan, green, dark blue, brown, black. The darker backgrounds create the shadows and add great depth to the overall effect.
  And if your stash does not yield enough fabrics.....check out what Wanda has on her Wandaful Blog.  She is offering an outstanding array of fabrics perfect for this technique.  And the strips are already cut for you!

  2 inch strips
You need 16 fabrics for the block---- 16 strips cut at 2 inches  full width of fabric or from fat quarters.  From each set of 16 you will get :  full width of fabric cut = 20 blocks,   or if cut from fat quarters = 10 blocks. 
I use this general rule of thumb for my layout before sewing the strips.    Each square on the grid is numbered...note the number placement tends to run on the diagonal.  Number 1, 2, 3 are the lightest fabrics.  Number 4, 5, 6, are light to  light-medium value fabrics.  Number  7,8, 9, 10 are medium value fabrics that have dark areas in them.  Number 11, 12, 13, 14, 15 are medium to dark.  And 16 is the darkest. 
   By laying out the fabrics according to value on the diagonal, wonderful blending occurs. 
  In this photo I have picked 16 fabrics, and placed them according to the value of the fabric.....not the overall color.  I use a red value tool called a ruby beholder, and I strongly recommend one.  But lining up the fabrics side by side and  then standing 10 foot away is another way to decide on the fabric value! 


Or take a photo and turn it into a black and white shot.    This is the same group of fabrics that I converted to black and white in Picasa 3.

 Here's another example of a different set of 16 fabrics.  The darks  in the lower right corner  are stronger in this one, and I used more medium values.  

One thing to note about large prints, there will be blocks (once sewn together) that differ slightly in value in areas.  That is because these prints tend to have areas where more background shows and other areas where the darker pattern or motif shows.  That is fine...don't stress it, it will be great in the end. 

To recap:  First select 16 fabrics.  Second, determine value.  Third,  cut into 2 inch strips.  Fourth, layout according to value in the grid for sewing. 
Next time, I will cover sewing in order, pressing, recut and sew again.  If you have questions about any of this, please let me know.
Now, I have to sew strips, press, etc. and take photos.
Happy stitching.
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