Little House on the Prairie Sew Along: Almanzo’s Pumpkin


Penny and I managed to find some time to finish sewing her pumpkin block for the Little House on the Prairie Sew Along last night after all of her homework was done. I really like her fabric sections for this block. She’s really a textured solids fan so I think that I will need to replenish my stock for her future blocks. She used an orange Grunge for Almanzo’s milk fed pumpkin. Then she asked me if I had something brown with lines to suggest a stem. I love that she was looking for something more than just the right color! We found this brown print with a wavy line that she thought would work out well. The background floral incorporates lots of the colors that she has chosen for other blocks so far.  We have the barn block all cut out too and I imagine that it will be done by the end of the weekend.

If you are sewing along, block directions can be found here.

Sixty Seconds Quilt

I thought I would share another quilt from my book, Improv Paper Piecing: A Modern Approach to Quilt Design today.  I named this quilt Sixty Seconds because I based my design on the traditional hourglass block.  I divided up the space a little bit differently though.  My hourglasses are asymmetrical, improvisationally sketched.  I decided to add lines for the sand falling through the hourglass just for fun.  I tried to find all white prints and black prints that had speckled types of designs on them that suggested sand.  I had to go on quite a hunt to find them all!  I folded the quilt back in this picture because I love this backing for this particular quilt so I wanted to make sure it showed. I just feel like it fits the mood of the quilt nicely.

I decided to lay my blocks out with a lot of negative space so that the layout was also an hourglass shape. Here in New England, there are lots of barns with X shaped supports on their doors and I thought it would be great to get a picture of the quilt on a barn with such a door.  This one was perfect, with two doors and a nice plain wall for hanging!

Here’s a little detail so you can see some of the prints and the quilting. I quilted in an regular irregular grid where the lines were all spaced either an 1/2″ apart or 1″ apart.

Debbie from A Quilter’s Table recently reviewed my book and made a table runner using this block pattern as the basis of the design. Then, she added her own spin. Check it out!

 

Fussy Cut Melon Ice

I just love fussy cutting. Recently, while preparing to teach my Melon Ice pattern for a workshop, I came up with a new idea. I was actually trying to fall asleep when I started to wonder what would happen if I fussy cut the diamond centers of the block. First thing the following morning, I started combing through my stash for something that would work. I had a FQ bundle of Maureen Cracknell’s Garden Dreamer fabric and the Diamond Fragments print seemed just the thing! I immediately made a few blocks and quickly ran out of fabric. Fussy cutting the centers isn’t terribly economical, but, as I say in my Intentional Piecing book, “If it yields the results you are looking for, then it is an investment in your design,” not a waste. I ordered more fabric and carried on! I chose a light blue and darker blue print from the collection to surround the fussy cuts. I chose prints that were subtle and read as solids so that they didn’t look too busy and let the fussy cutting really show off. Rather than creating just circle shapes with the blocks as I did in my original pattern and first runner, or just X shapes as I did in my second runner, I opted for a combination of the two. See my post here for prior variations.

I quilted with straight lines in toward the center and back out again in four V shapes. I used a really pretty soft shade of thread, Aurifil 2315. I definitely got sidetracked by this project but I am glad because I enjoyed it and I like the way it turned out.  It was time well spent!

Win EQ7!

 

I have partnered with The Electric Quilt Company to offer you a chance to win a copy of EQ7 quilt design software!  I bought EQ7 five years ago and use it on a nearly daily basis.  I would like to offer you the chance to do the same.  The value of this prize is $189 and all you need to do is sew a quilt block to enter.

Here are the rules:
The contest begins March 15, 2017 and ends on April 17, 2017.
To enter, head over to Instagram and follow me @duringquiettime. Share the graphic that you see above by reposting it and using the hashtags #improvpaperpiecing and #eq7improv (no purchase needed to enter).  There, you have entered once!

To enter again, sew any block from my book Improv Paper Piecing:  A Modern Approach to Quilt Design.  You can either sew one of the blocks from the patterns provided or follow an exercise or design prompt to create your own.  Share a picture of your block on IG and again, tag it with #improvpaperpiecing and #eq7improv.  You can sew as many blocks as you like to enter again and again.

A random participant will win EQ7!

EQ7 and Improv Paper Piecing are a great pair.  I used EQ7 to design all the blocks and quilts in the book using my improv design technique.  Once the blocks were designed, I grouped and numbered them and easily created pattern pieces to share with you.  While you can do this using paper and pencil and a light source, it is simply quicker and easier in EQ.  I also played with my layouts, rotating blocks and flipping to their mirror images in order to discover the layouts that spoke to me.  Here’s an example:

This is one of the cover quilts from my book.  It’s called Paper Trail.  I loved using a large selection of prints from my low volume collection, paired with my new color crush, cinnamon.

After I designed the block, I put it into a traditional grid layout. I was underwhelmed.

Using the rotate feature in EQ, I rotated the blocks in the even numbered rows.  I was starting to really like it.

Next, I staggered the second and fourth columns and knew I had found the layout that I liked.

Here’s one more gratuitous shot, just because I took a lot of photos…I might as well use them, right??  If you like this pattern, you can find it in the Object based section of the book.  I mocked it up in lots of color combinations and it looks great, so I can’t wait to see your version!

I think that you will really enjoy using EQ7 while working with the exercises and design prompts in my book.  And if you are lucky, you can win it!  So, grab your copy of Improv Paper Piecing, share the graphic on IG, and sew a block, or two, or three and tag them all #improvpaperpiecing and #eq7improv.  Maybe you will win!  Good luck!

 

 

 

Catawampus Quilt

My Catawampus Quilt hung in the Lucky Spool booth at Quilt Market this fall and has been shared a bit on Instagram as a result. But I haven’t shared it here yet! I like to have each quilt documented on my blog–it helps me when I forget things!

This quilt can be found in the shape section of my book, Improv Paper Piecing. The exercise that corresponds with this block is titled “Wonky” because I started my design process with an asymmetrical or wonky half hexagon.  I named the quilt Catawampus, a word meaning askew, awry, or cater-cornered.  To be perfectly honest, I hadn’t heard the word until I was writing the book. I was using the Thesaurus to look up some new terms for “askew” and “asymmetrical” because I was using them so heavily in my writing.  And that’s how I found Catawampus.  I had to use it. What a fun word!

I made this quilt in the fall and collected the items in the photo above from my late fall garden to serve as color inspiration. I enjoyed using the warm color tones and it was the first time that I ever used yellow for a quilt background.  It felt very brave at the time but I love it!  The quilt is just so warm and happy.  It was also a lot of fun to make.  I can imagine it as a great scrap buster too, can’t you?  I actually worked exclusively from my stash for this one and I bet you could too.

It’s quilted in straight lines, about a half inch apart. I quilted that way because the straight lines help to obliterate the construction seams which really make the half hexies look like they are tumbling down.

Here’s a great photo of the quilt that couldn’t have happened without helpers.  I really like taking quilt photos on windy days because I think that quilts in motion are so pretty. But, there are obvious challenges.  My mom was right outside the edge of this picture ready to catch the quilt in case it blew off. It was also pinned to the railing because I really didn’t want it to land in the water!

I am excited to announce a contest based on my book this Wednesday!  If you don’t have a copy yet, you might want to pick one up because the prize is really, really good!!

 

Little House on the Prairie; Maple Leaf

My 7 year old, Penny, just finished sewing her Maple Leaf block for our Little House on the Prairie sew along.  This block design was actually contributed by a little girl named Caitlyn who sewed along with us a few years ago when I made this quilt with my older daughter.

To refresh your memory, this is Caitlyn and her completed quilt from the first Little House on the Prairie sewalong.  Caitlyn just won a second place ribbon for another quilt that she entered into QuiltCon this year!  How exciting for her!

Both of my girls are feeling sick this weekend so we are taking it easy.  Penny decided that she still wanted to sew her maple leaf though.  As she sat down at the sewing machine she said “I’m just like you Mommy!  I am wearing a robe and slippers and sewing!”  She said it with a great deal of pride which made me laugh. It’s true, I walk around most of the day in the winter with my robe and slippers (over my clothes I might add, not over pjs) just for added warmth because our old house is drafty and I am always cold.  It’s probably how my kids will remember me! It could be worse. Come to think of it, I can clearly remember the robe that my mom lived in during my childhood. And it evokes pretty happy memories.

It’s fun watching Penny make her fabric selections.  She leans towards incorporating solids into her blocks and her sister was only interested in prints.  I can’t wait to see how different their two quilts look once they are done.

For this block, we made 4 half square triangle units. I don’t want Penny using a rotary cutter yet but wanted to give her the chance to cut along the line separating the units. I bought these scissors when I started sewing with my kids and recommend them:

They are inexpensive yet work well on fabric. I recently bought a number of pairs to use with my Girl Scout troop as we work on our sewing badge. They are a worthwhile investment AND keep the kids away from your good scissors!  It’s important to explain to your child how they have to work their fingers to pull the blades together when cutting.  It took Penny a moment to catch on but then she was all set.  She doesn’t need to squeeze her hand like that with the kids craft scissors.  So, it’s another good lesson!

We are making our way through Farmer Boy still.  We are probably half way.  Maybe next weekend we will make another block.  Please join in!  All the posts can be found here.  Remember to click on Lily’s version for full instructions.

Revolution Quilt

Time has gotten away from me and it’s been almost two weeks since I shared a quilt from my new book, Improv Paper Piecing: A Modern Approach to Quilt Design. The book is available on Amazon and signed copies are in my Etsy shop (sent with a free postcard while supplies last!).  I love this photo.  And sharing it provides a good opportunity to thank my mom who came along with me to many of these photoshoots.  She helped me with this one, when I took photos in our Old Town Hall built in 1842 with its beautiful light and high ceilings.  The ladder was found in our barn when we moved into our house, the chair was found on the roadside and refinished by me, and the orchid is my husband’s.  That’s why these photos mean so much to me. They incorporate so many of the things I love and a lot of my personality.  I am grateful to have had the opportunity to take the photos for both of my books.

This photo was taken in the Everett Mill building in downtown Lawrence, MA. It was a former cotton mill and later shoe manufacturer. Again, my mom and her husband were with me, which was very helpful, especially when a big nail became imbedded in my tire and I had to carefully drive home with a flat. It was a beautiful space and I was able to take several photos there.

This quilt is based on the traditional Tallahassee block, sketched in an improvisational fashion with askew lines and asymmetry. Part of what makes this quilt successful is the layout. I placed the blocks in a sort of serpentine fashion, echoing the motion I felt from the block.  The colors are bold and the binding is another color all together–a fun bit of whimsy.

You can find this quilt pattern and related design exercise in the section of my book based on Traditional blocks. I hope you enjoy it!

Melon Ice Pattern Variation

I just finished up another sample for my beginning paper piecing class.  I almost didn’t get a picture of it this morning because the wind is gusting so hard, it kept pulling my runner off the barn and blowing it down the hill!

I often use my Melon Ice Quilt (see above) pattern on a smaller scale to teach beginners.  Making the blocks 4 1/2″, rather than over-sized, is easier and perfect for introducing paper piecing.  The fabrics are easy to precut for these shapes and each block is made as a single unit without components that need to be sewn together.

This is the original quilt layout, as exported from EQ7.  I played around with alternate layouts to design a table runner out of the smaller blocks.  While it’s possible to do this on the design wall too, I love being able to rotate the blocks and redefine the number of blocks in the top quickly and easily in EQ in order to come up with lots of ideas!

This is the layout that I have been sharing with my students in my workshops.  As you can see, especially in the EQ7 layout diagram on the right, there are only two full rings of blocks in the center, with partial rings surrounding it.  Rather than using contrasting, alternating solids for the rings, as I did in the original, I used all Anna Maria Horner prints in very similar colors and prints.  The end result is scrappier.  After looking at it a bit, the pattern of rings emerges.

Recently, I played with sample blocks I had been making in class and mocked up a different layout where the blocks created interlocking X shapes instead of rings.  I love this layout too.  There are so many possibilities!  You will notice that I just “colored” my layout with solids. It is possible to upload fabric files to your library or to scan in your actual fabrics too.  I occasionally use this feature but very often, I just color in solids to remind myself of placement and can visualize it from there.

This runner was quilted on the diagonal, echoing the X shapes.  I spaced my lines either 1/4″ or 1/2″ apart to make an irregular grid.  I used a variegated 40 weight lavender/purple thread.  I don’t usually sew with a lot of purple but I really do like it combined with the soft yellows, chartreuse and grey.  One of the things I like about smaller projects is trying new color combinations. It’s not as big of a commitment as a whole quilt!

I am working on one more version of this pattern, this time a pillow cover, with fussy cut diamonds and an alternating X and ring layout. I will be back soon to share it!

If you are interested in the Melon Ice pattern, it’s in my shop.  If you email me with proof of purchase, I am happy to share the 4 1/2″ block pattern with you as well.

Little House on the Prairie Sewalong; Bunny

My cute little second grader finished up her fourth block in the Little House on the Prairie Sewalong over the weekend!  When we finish a block, I am never sure who feels more victorious, me or my child.  It’s a lot of work to sew with a child, there’s no getting around that!  But it is very rewarding too.

This block is supposed to represent Pet and Patty, the two horses that Pa bought to pull the wagon from the little house in the big woods to the little house on the prairie.  But, in the book Little House on the Prairie, there is a new baby colt named Bunny, as well.  So, Penny has decided that her block is Bunny.  She chose a textured solid background for her block and went right for one of my favorite stashed woodgrain prints for the mane and tail. She thought that they looked like hair and I couldn’t disagree with that good choice.

This block is sewn with templates. I precut the pieces for Penny and then had her tell me which order she thought that we should sew them in by looking at the key on the pattern sheets.  She was very good at it and could see right away what she had to do. I was impressed. I did all the pinning because there are lots of angled pieces in this block and they are tricker to pin.  She did all the sewing though and did a fabulous job!

We hope you will join us and sew along!  All the instructions for this block can be found in my earlier post right here.

Win a Copy of Improv Paper Piecing


I’d like to invite you to visit the EQ blog today where there is a Q&A with me where I talk  about my book, Improv Paper Piecing, and how I use EQ7 in my design. And the best part is that there is a chance to win a copy of the book!  I hope you enjoy the interview and good luck!

Sea Glass Quilt

I just returned from QuiltCon in Savannah where I taught three classes, one of which was Improv Paper Piecing, based on the shape based section of my new book, Improv Paper Piecing: A Modern Approach to Quilt Design.  I really enjoyed teaching this class.  While I was writing this book, I was already anticipating what a fun workshop it would make, and I think it did!  At least, I know I had fun seeing the designs that my students were coming up with, helping them to figure out their numbering order for paper piecing, and then talking about all the possibilities for color placement and layouts to make their blocks successful.  Everyone made interesting and unique blocks. You can see some of them on my Instagram feed @duringquiettime.

I really think that this combination of improvisation and paper piecing, takes paper pieced design to a new level and it is so fun!!!

This is one of the quilts from the book; it’s called Sea Glass.  It’s one of the quilts that I showed my students because it’s from the shape based section of my book.  This quilt is composed of two paper pieced blocks, broken into a crazy quilt like design.  The blocks are unevenly sashed, on point, and rotated, resulting in irregular spacing throughout which I just love.

I normally quilt all my own quilts but chose to send this one out to Christina Lane of Sometimes Crafter.  I feel like Christina really listened to me when I told her what I was looking for and she did impeccable work on my quilt.  I told her that as a designer, I want the bold shapes of the piecing to be the first thing that you see.  I wanted the quilting to be complimentary but not overpowering. The squares that were quilted in the background on the pieced side of the quilt, help emphasize the uneven nature of the spacing between blocks.  The quilting inside the squares suggests the prismatic quality of glass shards, which works well with the sharp and pointy piecing and the sea glass color palette. In the negative space, she quilted a zigzag edge to represent water washing onto the shore with circular bubbles for foam.  I think it was a successful collaboration and I am happy to recommend Christina’s work.

I need to give a shout out to my kids who where dragged around about this time last year on their school vacation so that I could take these photographs at the beach.  While it might not look it, it was freezing and quite windy at the sea shore here in New England, and they were pretty good sports.  They even modeled for me (though I didn’t end up using this photo in the book).  They also hid behind the boardwalk railing to hold the corner of my quilt while I took the pictures.  They were under strict orders not to let go for anything!

If you are interested in a copy of my book, you can purchase a signed copy with free shipping from my Etsy shop and of course, you can check your local quilt shop and book store or buy from Amazon.

 

Luminous Quilt

My local paper printed a really nice article about Improv Paper Piecing yesterday.  You can read the article here.  They chose the photo of my quilt, Luminous, for the article in the paper (all the photos I sent are in the online version but this was the image chosen for the printed paper).  I always love seeing what picture is chosen and how neat it is that everyone picks a different one!  This photo was taken at a local historic site, the John Greenleaf Whittier birthplace. Across the street from the white clapboard house, is a red barn. Beyond the barn is a cow pasture with this rusted gate and tall grass.  I normally avoid walking through tall grasses but risked the deer ticks for this shot.  You know, it’s always worth it for a pretty quilt picture.

The design of this quilt was inspired by the stars, a common source of inspiration for traditional quilters, as well.  But my stars are asymmetrical and less identifiable as stars.  They simply become interesting shapes.  Through the random coloration of each star and the rotation of the block throughout the quilt, the stars look unique. But, as you look at the quilt, your eye settles in on some of the more prominent shapes, such as the really wide, short arm of the star above, and you notice that it is repeated throughout.  Those interesting shapes direct your eye across the quilt.

I love the negative shapes created in-between the stars too.  They give the quilt some real energy!  I am excited to share my improv paper piecing design techniques at QuiltCon next week!

Edited to add: Yes, this pattern is available in my new book, Improv Paper Piecing: A Modern Approach to Quilt Design. It can be purchased in my Etsy shop or on Amazon. Also, be sure to ask for it at your local bookstore or quilt shop!

 

Peacock Crossing; A Sneak Peek from Improv Paper Piecing

I wanted to give you a little sneak peek from my book, Improv Paper Piecing.  I am told that Amazon will begin shipping mid next week!  You can preorder on Amazon or order directly from my Etsy shop.

This quilt is called Peacock Crossing and is from the Shape Based section.  The book is broken into three sections: traditional block based inspiration, shape based and object based.  I explain how you can use any of those approaches to arrive at improvisationally influenced paper pieced designs.  If you are going to Savannah for QuiltCon next week, you can visit this quilt in the Lucky Spool booth.

I have been able to share my book with a few early reviewers and love what Heather Grant had to say about Improv Paper Piecing,  She said “Amy’s quilts have always drawn me in because they are precise, yet organic. I couldn’t quite figure out how she managed this balance between two opposites until I picked up her book, Improv Paper Piecing. In this book, she outlines how to use paper piecing and improv to create quilts that are visually organized, yet free. This is a great book for any quilter looking to explore design using a technique to create one of a kind quilts.”  Pat Sloan will be sharing a review of my book on her blog next week so be sure to follow her!

I look forward to sharing more quilts in upcoming weeks!  If your guild is interested in an improv paper piecing workshop or trunk show, be sure to check out my Teaching/Lectures page and get in touch!

Little House on the Prairie Sew Along; Mary’s Nine Patch

Penny just completed the third block for her Little House on the Prairie Quilt!  Information about the free sewalong and the block pattern can be found here.

In The Little House on the Prairie, Mary is sewing nine patch blocks.  It’s the perfect block for a beginner sampler like this because it’s easy!  And it gave me the chance to teach Penny about chain piecing and nesting seams too.  In this book, Mary and Laura spent hours watching bunnies in the tall prairie grass so as soon as Penny spotted this lavender bunny print in my stash, she knew she wanted to use it.  I think it was the perfect choice.  It has just a touch of red to coordinate with her log cabin block and she paired the lavender with aqua which she also used in the log cabin.

Remember to post images of your blocks on Instagram using the hashtag #littlehousealong. If you want to tag me too, @duringquiettime, I will be sure to see it sooner and can compliment you on your work!

Today, I am a guest blogger on The Quilter’s Planner blog, talking about ways to introduce your child to sewing.  If you have a younger child and think that they might not be quite ready for this project yet, maybe you will enjoy some of my tips.

 

Bamboo Table Runner Pattern is Ready

The Bamboo Table Runner project that I showed yesterday can now be purchased as a PDF pattern in my shops.  Links are in my sidebar to Etsy, Craftsy or my Pattern Shop.

The bamboo table runner is minimalist and striking, finishing at 12” x 31”. In addition to the table runner instructions, the block pattern is provided in two sizes, 7″ x 9″ and 9″ x 11 1/2″. Pattern includes a numbered, colored diagram as well as mirror image pattern pieces, ready for foundation piecing. Basic paper piecing directions are not included. This pattern does not have any curves or Y seams.

Thank you for your eagerness to try the pattern! I hope you enjoy it.

Bamboo Table Runner

This weekend, we found ourselves in need of a birthday gift for a close family friend who is really hard to buy for!  A few years ago, I made him a fall colored runner for his table and he has kept it there ever since and really seemed to appreciate it.  So we decided that a new table-runner would be just the thing.  Now he will be able to switch them out for a bit of a change.  We thought he might like a bamboo design because he is a big fan of Asian cuisine and clean modern designs.  I thought bamboo had the potential to be transformed into a simple, modern, appealing design.  I started by designing a paper pieced bamboo block pattern in EQ7.

I played around with some layout possibilities and decided to make four blocks with a bit of a border.  I incorporated the mirror image of the block into the design as well. EQ7 allows you to print your foundation patterns as mirror image or not. I used both; as I often do.  Two of my blocks are mirror images of my original design and two are not. Then I inverted two of the blocks because I like a table runner that you can enjoy from all sides of the table.

While working on designs, sometimes I like to add a second border that is .25 inches wide.  It’s a handy way to mock up your binding in the quilt top design layout.

This is how my layout looked in EQ7.  See how that narrow second border mimics binding?  It can be really helpful in auditioning binding choices when you just aren’t sure. You’ll notice that I made one bamboo stalk a darker green, just for added interest!

This picture shows the quilting nicely. I used a 50 weight beige Aurifil thread and a series of criss-crossing straight lines to suggest the angles of bamboo stalks.  I used blue painters tape and followed it with my walking foot to make those lines. I used about 6 pieces of tape so that I could stitch a number of lines, then adjust the tape and quilt some more.

I really like the minimalist yet recognizable design that was achieved. I hope he likes it!

I will have the block and table runner pattern in my shop soon.

 

Improv Paper Piecing is Shipping!

My copies of Improv Paper Piecing: A Modern Approach to Quilt Design just appeared at my door step this afternoon!  They are arriving at shops who pre-ordered right now as well.  I am really looking forward to sharing the ideas and designs from the book with you in the upcoming weeks. I also have a great giveaway coming up to help celebrate!

To start things off, I thought I would share my favorite shot from the book.  And it gives you a little sneak peek of a bunch of the quilts too! I had this picture in mind but I couldn’t find a good spot to take it, where the grass was nice and tall.  I mentioned it to a local friend of mine and she said that she would look as she ran through town.  Two days later, she sent me a text suggesting this location and it was perfect!  The yellow flowers were a bonus.

My book is technique based, presented in a workshop style approach.  My hope is that by explaining my design method, and offering lots of exercises and prompts, I will encourage you to create your own designs.  I incorporate an improvisational approach to design–embracing the irregular, the asymmetrical, the unexpected, with the paper piecing technique.  Why?  Because paper piecing allows you to repeat these improvisational designs and harness the power of repetition!  It combines the aesthetic I love with the technique I prefer–it’s the perfect pairing.

All my exercises are illustrated with quilt patterns that I will share in the days to come!

I have copies of my book ready to ship in my Etsy shop and will be happy to sign them for you.

Stars Hollow Quilt

Finally!  I started this Gilmore Girls themed quilt hoping to finish it in time to watch the new episodes of the show wrapped up in it.  That didn’t happen.  But, I can watch them again and use it!  I think I will call it my Stars Hollow quilt.  For those of you who missed it, I have been sewing coffee cup blocks using my Rise and Shine Coffee paper pieced pattern and making each cup suit the personality of a character from the Gilmore Girls television show.  The quilt includes blocks for 18 of the main and supporting characters.  They were a lot of fun to make and are all documented in prior blog posts:

Click here to read about Rory, Sookie and Luke
Click here to read about Logan, Emily and Dean
Click here to read about Lorelai, Jackson and Babette
Click here to read about Mrs. Kim, Lane, Christopher and Miss Patty
Click here to read about Jess and Taylor

As I created this list, I realized that I never shared the last three blocks! Let me do that now:

Do you remember the time when Paris lost her nanny and hired a life coach, Terrance? He helped her set up a craft corner in her Yale dorm room to calm her nerves. There was one time that she was hyperventilating because her hot glue gun leaked on her macaroni. Paris was driven and wanted to go to medical school or law school after Yale. The science fabric is for her science classes. The newspaper print at the top is there because she was editor of the paper until she was ousted.


This is Richard Gilmore ‘ s coffee cup. The center piece is Cigar Box by Tim Holtz and I used it because Richard loved cigars. The numbers are used to symbolize his career in insurance followed by a few years as an economics professor at Yale. The black band is for all of his black tie events.

It’s Kirk’s coffee cup!  Kirk was a grown man living at home with his mother…and she wouldn’t give him his own key! At one point Kirk got a cat that he named Kirk. Cat Kirk didn’t like human Kirk and would attack and scratch him! Kirk had a million jobs. One was befriending old women who would bequeath him their jewelry and he would resell it.  The gold sparkles in the top band are for glittering jewelry. He sold Luke an engagement ring for Lorelai.

I wanted to come up with a fun setting for the blocks and knew from the start that I wanted to use this star fabric from Cotton + Steel for the background fabric (to represent Stars Hollow, of course!).  I decided to set the blocks in a topsy turvy fashion and used this tutorial to get me started. I had to adapt it because my blocks are rectangular and the tutorial was for a square block.  After a little trial and error, I got it. I placed four blocks in the first, third and fifth rows and just three blocks in the second and fourth rows.  Then I added some background fabric to the top and bottom to make sure the quilt measured slightly longer than it did wide.  I might have gone longer but I ran out of the background fabric so, that was that!  The finished quilt measures about 65″ x 68″.

I backed the quilt in newsprint because so much of the show revolves around school and books and journalism. It seemed fitting.  I quilted in Aurifil 2315, a very light cinnamon color. I debated what color to use because some of the coffee cups had really light colors in them.  This color blended well enough against them without being too harsh on the darker cinnamon background fabric.  I stitched vertical lines but also at an angle from four different blocks out to the edge.  You can see in the image above how that created a diagonal grid in sections. I thought that this additional quilting would be much more noticeable than it actually was.  I kinda wish it popped more.

Picture taking was challenging today in New England. I took these pictures with temperatures in the teens.  My fingers nearly froze!  It’s hard when the sun is so low in the sky during the winter with all the trees casting long shadows.

Well, thank you everyone who has joined me on this Gilmore Girls/Stars Hollow journey. It’s been fun!

Little House on the Prairie Sew Along; Black Susan

Penny finished sewing her Black Susan block this afternoon, the second and final block to accompany the Little House in the Big Woods book.  We are a couple of chapters into Little House on the Prairie and will be back with more blocks when we are done reading it.  There has been some controversy within our house over the order of the books in the Little House series.  The books that I have from my childhood list Farmer Boy after Little House on the Prairie.  The new set that Penny got for Christmas, lists Farmer Boy first.  We decided that it doesn’t really matter because Farmer Boy stands on its own anyway.  So we are readying Little House on the Prairie next to keep going in the same order that I read the books with Lily.  If you are sewing along, do what works for you!

We didn’t have a lot of black fabric in the house so we decided to use this more loosely woven black fabric.  It reminded me to mention that it’s so much easier to keep to tightly woven quilting cottons when you are sewing with kids.  They stretch more and can be more frustrating for the beginner sewist.  Also, always check how much fabric you have before your child gets her heart set on it!  Penny chose this butterfly print from Lizzy House and then we realized that I only had a 12 1/2″ high piece and it needs to be 14 1/2″.  We couldn’t make the butterflies sideways so we pieced the strips.  She was happy with that solution because she really wanted to use the purple.  We also talked a little about fabric selection. She really wanted this block to be purple but I pointed out that it would be next to her red and aqua log cabin block in her quilt top. I suggested looking for a print that was purple but had a touch of one of those colors to help make it work.

Please remember that all the block tutorials and information about this sew along can be found by clicking on the Little House on the Prairie Sew Along link in the header of my blog.

 

Little House on the Prairie Sew Along–Take Two!

In 2014, I started a sew along to make this Little House on the Prairie Sampler quilt.  It was sewn by my daughter Lily, who was in second grade at the time.  We read the books together and designed a couple of blocks per book.  I shared all the tutorials on my blog so that others could sew along with us!  We used the hashtag #littlehousealong on Instagram to share pictures.  Lily chose all her own fabrics and did all the sewing.  I did the cutting and ironing.  Well, Lily’s sister, Penny, is now in second grade so it’s time for the Little House on the Prairie Sampler quilt take two!

This is Penny’s first real machine sewing project and she felt pretty proud of her finished block!  This is a log cabin block because the Ingalls family was living in a log cabin in the Big Woods.

If you would like to sew along with us, I created a new page that lists all the tutorials.  If you look up at the top of my blog, there are a number of links along the header. One of them says “Little House on the Prairie Sew Along.”  Click there and it will bring you to a picture of the finished quilt and links to Lily’s version of each block which will include the tutorials.  And I will add links to share Penny’s versions as we go so that you can see how the blocks look in different fabrics.  That might help your children as they select their colors!

EQ Ambassador–Do you EQ?

EQ asked if I would consider being an EQ Ambassador for 2017 and I was happy to agree!  I purchased EQ7 at the beginning of 2012, five years ago now!  Just a few months prior, I had joined a the Cocorico Bee, a paper pieced bee.  I began designing blocks for the bee using paper and pencil and quickly realized that it would be in my best interest to look into a software program where I could make changes to my designs quickly and easily.  I started by using what I had, Photoshop. My first paper pieced block pattern that I released for sale was my iceskate. I drew it by hand and scanned it.  Then I drew over the lines in Photoshop.  Then came the truly difficult and tedious part, breaking apart the sections of the pattern to print separately.

At the end of that design experience, once again, I found myself looking for something different. Perhaps Photoshop could have worked for me but it is a complicated program and, at the time, I knew very little about how to use it.  I know that I lot of designers use Illustrator but it is costly and, again, a complicated program.  So I decided to try EQ7 hoping that it would be easier for me to learn since it was tailor made for quilting.

Within a couple of months, I released by second pattern, this vintage skier, using EQ7 to draft it.

I taught myself how to use EQ7, just referring to the manual and by Googling questions and looking for answers online.  I find the program fairly intuitive.  Tech support at EQ is excellent too and they were able to help with me a few problems that I encountered.  That said, if you have an opportunity to take an EQ class, I would certainly recommend it because it will help you to jump right in without frustration and to learn those little tricks that I have only discovered over time with use.

I continued to work on my paper pieced design skills by challenging myself to create a garden themed quilt with 16 original block designs.  By the end of this project, I felt that I understood the basics of paper pieced design in EQ pretty well.  My design skills had improved and my ability to use the program had also!

I really like using EQ7 for paper pieced block design. It allows me to upload scanned images that I have sketched, photographs, or other inspirational images, and use them as a reference as I overlay my block divisions.

Then I can color the image using solids, as I did here for my spring chicken, or fabrics that are provided by EQ or those that I choose to scan in and add to my Fabric Library.  I export these images to use as the block diagrams for my patterns.  Then I create the pdf foundation pieces by grouping and numbering my pieces and then choosing to print the foundation pattern.

This, right here, makes EQ worth every penny to me.  My sections are broken apart for me (in the groupings that I chose and numbered) and then I have the ability to move them around on the page prior to saving them as a pdf.

I use EQ7 for nearly all of my designs and honestly think that it is a great product.  I have added the EQ7 class that I will be teaching at QuiltCon to my workshop offerings if you are interested.  I would really love to share the step by step instructions with you to help you create your own designs. Of course, I do not use the program for only pictorial paper pieced blocks but also traditionally pieced quilts and paper pieced quilts. In my gallery of completed quilts, you can see lots of examples of my work, nearly all of which were designed in EQ.

Congratulations to Christa Watson, the other EQ Ambassador for 2017!  Have you seen Christa’s new Craftsy class?  If not, check it out here.

I look forward to sharing all my EQ creations with you this year.


 

 

Mighty Lucky

I just wanted to remind you that a new year of the Mighty Lucky Quilting Club has just begun!  I am starting out the year with my challenge called Transforming Inspiration into Original Designs.  It’s a topic that I am passionate about and hope that you will be too!

The challenge is broken up into three sections so that if time is tight, you can opt to just complete just the first portion of the challenge and still get something from the exercise. We know that it can be hard to keep up with a monthly challenge like this, so hopefully, you will find this to be an improvement in this year’s Mighty Lucky Club.  But, I hope that you will enjoy the challenge so much that you complete it!  Plus, it’s January…you can’t be behind yet!

If you haven’t signed up for this year, it’s not too late. Here is the direct link.

Little Lady Project Bag

My mom’s birthday is right on the heels of Christmas. I asked her if she’d like me to make her something and she asked for a sewing project bag using my Little Lady sewing machine block.  I really had fun picking fabrics that I thought she would enjoy. I particularly love the spool!!

I used a sewing themed fabric from my stash for the body of the bag.  It was the perfect colors and theme.  The inside of the bag is a sewing themed text print.  I love having those perfect fabrics on hand for projects!  Both had been in my stash for a few years.  My favorite little detail on the bag is the lace trim along the top.

If you’d like to try the pattern, it’s available in all of my shops (links in sidebar).

Happy New Year!

Ice Skate Block

I finished another block for my paper pieced Christmas quilt last night.  This is a pattern that I designed quite awhile ago, before I was using EQ7, so it will appear different to those of you who have purchased my more recent patterns.  But it’s just as good and goes together nicely!  I made the original block pretty small, so I enlarged the pieces on my photocopier to make a larger block.  I used a tiny snowflake like print for the ice skate.  It actually has a light blue tinge to it which makes it work nicely with other blocks in the quilt, as well as the Heath background of this block that is blue with green crosshatching on top.  I used a metallic print for the runner, which I love!  The magic of these blocks is in the details. I used a special stitch on my machine to make the eyelet holes on the upper portion of the skate and then stitched laces using embroidery floss. It brings it to life!  I think I am probably done working on this quilt again for this year, due to time not interest. But I think my next step will be to make several tiny snowflake blocks.  I am going for blocks of all different sizes to be pieced together and the snowflakes can be scattered throughout.

If you are looking for this pattern, it’s available in all my shops as a PDF.  Directions are included for the hand stitching and eyelet details.

December Aurifil Designer of the Month: Amanda Herring

The designer of the month for December is Amanda Herring, a fabric designer for Riley Blake.  Her company is The Quilted Fish.


Here is Amanda’s flower block, made using her favorite shade of blue, a pretty turquoise.  You can find the block and an interview with Amanda here.

Don’t forget, by submitting a photo of your block online, you will be entered for a chance to win a box of Aurifil thread!  This is your last chance for this year!

Here is a picture of all the designer blocks for this year.  Don’t they look great together?  I look forward to seeing what Pat Sloan does with them!  They were made by the following fabulous Aurifil designers:

Jan -Heather Valentine   http://thesewingloftblog.com/
Feb – Kari Carr http://www.newleafstitches.com 
Mar – Christa Watson http://christaquilts.com/ 
Apr – Kate Spain http://www.katespain.com/ 
May – Amy Friend http://duringquiettime.com/ 
June – Jacquelynne Steves http://jacquelynnesteves.com/ 
July – Wendy Sheppard https://ivoryspring.wordpress.com/ 
Aug – Angela Walters http://www.quiltingismytherapy.com/
Sept – Katarina Roccella   http://likeflowersandbutterflies.com/
Nov – Kim Niedzwiecki http://www.gogokim.com/ 
Host – Pat Sloan http://blog.patsloan.com

You can find the patterns for all the blocks in one convenient spot. Be looking for the 2017 Aurifil Designer Team who will bring you 12 new patterns for next year!

disclaimer

Knitting Socks Project Bag

Who is making Christmas gifts?  I am!  I just finished this Knitting Socks block from my pattern by that name.  I used a knit-look fabric for the sock.  And I used a script print in two different directions to look like a ball of yarn.  The embroidery details on the needles and down to the ball of yarn are a fun touch.

I added borders to make it large enough for a good size project bag. I fused the front and back to fusible fleece.  The back is heavily quilted in a diagonal crossgrid.  The front is just lightly quilted to secure it.  I hope it is well received!  Now back to work I go!