Nancy Zieman Quick Collumn Quilts Book

A couple months ago, Nancy Zieman asked if I’d take a peek at her new book, Quick Column Quilts. I jumped at the chance to get a peek at this book before it hit shelves! I love fast quilts, I love quilts that are strip-pieced, and I love new patterns!

As I flipped through the book, I was enchanted by all the different ways that basic strips of fabric can be pieced together to make quilts! I’ve been strip quilting since the beginning – the very first quilt I pieced was a strip-pieced Log Cabin quilt. While many strip quilts use the traditional 2.5″ strip size, the quilts in Nancy’s book take advantage of different sized strips to add variety. You don’t need to buy precuts- you can use the yardage from your stash that you love, but haven’t found the perfect project for yet.

There are several quilts from the book I’d like to make, but after much deliberation, I finally settled on one… for now. This quilt is appropriately called “Heartbeat”, was easy and quick to piece together – as promised! I have been collecting black and white, and black, white, and red text fabrics for a while, and I loved using them for this quilt.

Nancy Zieman Heartbeat Quilt

Like most of the quilts in the book, Heartbeat has a fun, modern vibe.

I also pieced the back of the quilt using leftover fabric.

back of heartbeat quilt

Though I followed the general pattern, I did cut my strips a little narrower. After piecing my top, I felt the quilt was a little disproportionate – too tall for the width.

quilt top

I cut off the excess from the top and bottom, which was an easy fix. However, cutting wider strips would have fixed this.

folded under top and bottom of quilt

I didn’t have yardage for each of these fabrics – a couple were cut from fat quarters. This took a little extra piecing, but was simple to do. So while this quilt wasn’t designed to be fat-quarter friendly, you could use fat quarters for your focus fabrics… though I wouldn’t use fat quarters for the background.

After finishing the top, I had fun with the quilting. You might have seen some sneak peeks of me quilting this top if you follow me on Instagram.

quilting on back of heartbeat quilt

 

Each fabric got a different quilting design – from stripes to swirls, pebbles to feathers.

quilting on back

Quilting took a whole lot longer than piecing. The piecing was done in a day. The quilting was done over several weeks. I could have quilted it in a day, making the entire quilt in a weekend… if I hadn’t decided to be so ADD about my quilting designs. But I love it this way!

There are plenty of other fun patterns in Nancy’s book, several of which I can’t wait to try! Whether you’re new to quilting, and want to try some simple patterns, or if you just love whipping out fast quilts… you’ll love Nancy Zieman’s Quick Column Quilts book!

quick column quilts by Nancy Zieman

I’m not the only one who had a chance to check out this great book… see what others have shared over the last few weeks:

Nancy Zieman

Quilt Taffy and Simple Simon & Co.

Diary of a Quilter  and Stitchin Jenny

A Woman a Day  and Craizee Corner               
Jina Barney DesignzLilac Lane Patterns, and Totally Stitchin’ 

Esch House Quilts and The Cottage Mama

Designs in Machine Embroidery and Pat Sloan

Happy Valley PrimitivesDoohikey Designs, and Quilt in a Day
Quilt Dad and Just Arting Around

Lazy Girl Designs and  Marie-Madeline Studio

Polka Dot Chair

And a few others will be sharing later this week:

09/16/14         Amy Lou Who Sews and Riley Blake Designs

09/17/14         Indygo Junction and Amy’s Creative Side

Hand-dye Shibori Techniques Class

Last weekend, I took a class on hand-dye techniques. Specifically, Shibori techniques. Shibori is a term that covers a ton of different resist techniques to create different dye patterns. We folded, twisted, wrapped, rubber-banded, squished, stitched, and more to create different designs on the fabric. I had a blast. Here are the different fabrics I created in the class, and the night after the class.

 

This triangle design was one of the favorites among the students in the class. I’ll be honest and say it was one of my least favorite. I think there isn’t a whole lot of variety in the look from one student to the next… they all look very similar to me. Even so, it is a very cool look. And you know if this was one of my least favorite, the rest are going to be pretty awesome, right?

cross hatch pattern

This is one of my favorites. A herringbone pattern created by carefully pleating the fabric, and then pole-wrapping and scrunching the fabric. It is fairly labor-intensive, but the result is so cool!

herringbone pattern

These three hexagon fabrics were fun to create. The dark one on the left was done in class. the other two I did at home after rinsing out the first. they were only in the dye for about an hour, which explains why they are so much lighter.

hexagon resist

This one was the most surprising of all the pieces. I absolutely love how it turned out. wrapped tightly in rubber bands, this was one of the first pieces we made in class, and it sat in the dye for most of the day before being washed out. All the contrast is awesome!

large web design

When I first unwrapped this piece, I was disappointed. I was expecting something much different. But as I looked at it, it really grew on me. So many different areas of interest.

organic look

I did this piece in a rush. Accordion folded, and wrapped in rubber bands, I spent about 2 minutes on this piece of fabric before dying it. An awesome 2 minutes. I love how it turned out!

pleated resist

The next piece was stitched into a sleeve to fit snugly on a pipe, then squished down tightly. You’ll notice a light area on the left hand side – that is where the fabric wasn’t fully immersed in the dye. It all turned out pretty amazing, though!

scrunched fabric

The piece on the left is another triangle fabric, done similarly to the first piece. As you can see – they are very similar. The piece on the right was wrapped in sinew to make the circles.

shibori dye class

These little spider webs were made the same way the large spider web was made, just lots and lots of them, and smaller. Still lots of great contrast. I love these mini spiderwebs – they look a lot like stars, or fireworks.

small webs

This piece was made by marking dots on my fabric, then wrapping a small pebble at each mark. Organic, yet organized.

stone resist

This piece took the most time of any of the techniques. Lots and lots of stitching made this design. I only wish I had left it in the dye twice as long to get darker colors.

 

tightly stitched

Wood resist was a technique I was looking forward to learning in class. This piece was created by clamping wood shims in place. Another simple technique, and I love the variety in the results. Each student that shared theirs in class had a slightly different look to their fabric.

wood resist

I absolutely loved learning all the different techniques in the class – my next step is to cut up these fabrics, and turn them into a sampler quilt!

Quilted Tie Dye Pillow

Sometimes, you have a shirt that you love, but can’t wear. Either it has gotten worn out, or it isn’t the right size, or it has a stain on it. Don’t tuck it into a corner of the closet, or into a bottom drawer – celebrate your tie dye by turning your shirt into a custom decor piece! I work with the folks at Rit to come up with original dyed pieces, and was super excited to work on a quilted piece using a shirt I dyed with Rit dye.

If you’ve been following my Instagram feed, you know that I’m into quilting feathers lately… and I thought it would be fun to combine quilted feathers and tie dye in this handcrafted decor piece. I love how it came together!

Make a quilted tie dye pillow

Of course, you could use different quilting designs on your pillow, but be sure to get the how-to over on Rit Studio!

quilted tie dye pillow

Quilt Block Refrigerator Magnets

Looking for something fun and different? Paper-pieced refrigerator magnets are super easy to make, and make great gifts! I’m over on the Thermoweb blog sharing how I made these cute beer bottle refrigerator magnets using paper piecing!

quilted refrigerator magnets

Supernova Quilt

I’ve been working on this quilt for quite some time. Last fall, I made a quilt for Art Gallery Fabrics to hang in their booth at market. The Sunshine Quilt. A starburst quilt like that one uses almost entirely diamonds. The pieces around the edges don’t have to be full diamonds, but all the middle pieces do. When cutting the diamonds for the quilt, there were a lot of partial diamonds cut on the selvedge ends. Far more than could be used in the Sunshine Quilt. I wanted to use all the extra diamonds from the starburst quilt into another quilt. That’s how I came up with this Supernova Quilt.

supernova quilt

I started with all the partial diamonds. I counted how many I had, and divided by 8. That’s how many blocks I could make.

pennant shapes

I stitched these pieces into pairs, and then the pairs into sets of four. These were each half a quilt block. Then I trimmed up the edge of each so the finished block would lie flat.

trim block

I stitched the halves together to make full blocks. All of the blocks were odd sizes, so I measured the smallest to see how large a square I could get out of it. Then I cut this size square from each block.

I didn’t worry about where the center of the block was in relation to where all the points met up. I was just interested in making the same sized block out of each.

I stitched together odds and ends to make enough sashing for the quilt, and sashed all the blocks together.

The quilting looks very random, but it is a stitch in the ditch of each seam, extended out to the borders.

quilted supernova quilt

Hopefully this will be the last quilt that is quilted exclusively with my walking foot… I’ve been working on improving my free-motion quilting. Yay!

Dr. Seuss “Oh The Places You’ll Go” Wallhanging

Quilt based on Oh the Places Youll Go by Dr Seuss

Last year I made a quilted wallhanging using a simplified version of one of the last images in my favorite Dr. Seuss Book – “Oh, the Places You’ll Go.” I think the Dr Seuss Quilt is one of my favorite things I’ve made, and now it has a companion in a second Dr Seuss Quilt. I love the quote from the book. I love the whimsy of the image, and I love that it is the first thing I ever free-motion quilted. I decided to make a companion piece this year, using the same techniques, but a different image from the same book. My hope is to make another one next year so that I can have the three hanging side-by-side in the playroom. Here are the two I have so far.

Seuss Wallhangings in Playroom

I used basically the same technique I did last year. I started by drawing out the image, and picking fabrics. I labeled my drawing so that I would know what color each part would be.

draw out and pick colors

Then I created Printable versions of each part, fused them onto the right color fabric, and fused those onto the background. I used the dark orange as a background color, cut it to 18″ square before fusing on all the pieces.

Fuse pieces in place

Then I started stitching. Using the image from the book as a reference, I spent about  4 hours quilting, which adds all the beautiful detail. I love that it doesn’t have to be perfect. In fact, the less perfect, the better! Here it is quilted, but not bound.

quilted and not bound

I did make one change from last year. I painted in the lettering. Last year I took the time to cut out each individual letter, then press it, and stitch it in place. Since I was doing four lines of text this year, and they were going to be smaller, I decided that painting them in was the best choice. It was tedious, but so much better than cutting and stitching!

After quilting, I trimmed everything down, and bound the quilt, adding pockets in the corner so I could easily add a rod for hanging.

If you’re interested in making your own, here is what you’ll need:
OH THE PLACES YOU’LL GO QUILT
(finished size 21″x26″)

Fat Quarter Dark Orange fabric, cut to 18″ square.
1/2 yard green fabric (for borders – cut two pieces each 2″x18″ and two pieces 4.5″x21″)
1 1/2 yards black fabric (binding, backing)
Black thread
Small pieces (I used Fat Quarters) of the following colors: Orange, Light Orange, Light Yellow, Medium Yellow, Green, Light Gray (for the child’s hands and face)
Applique pattern pieces printed onto Jenny Haskins Web Magic (printable fusable for applique) – found at quilt shops that cater to machine embroidery
Basting Spray
Batting
Mechanical Pencil

Here are the pattern pieces:
Green 1 Fusible
Green 2 Fusible
Medium Yellow Fusible
Orange 1 Fusible
Orange 2 Fusible
Seuss Light Yellow Fusible

Even in my messy playroom, I love the way these look on my wall!

messy playroom

Please note: These instructions are for personal use only. The pattern and quilt are not for sale. The pattern is intended for personal use only. If you’re interested in purchasing Dr Seuss fabric, Robert Kaufman has awesome Seuss Fabrics.

Nancy Zieman “Seems Unlikely” Book Tour

When I was asked to be a part of Nancy Zieman’s “Seems Unlikely” book tour, I immediately said yes. I’m a fairly new member to the Nancy Zieman Fanclub. My mother is a garment sewer, but I have always taken more to quilting. I made several garments including dresses for school dances, an 80’s shorts-and-top set in unfortunate matching fluorescent patterns, but the garment sewing classes I took back in 1996-97 were in Europe. So I missed out being introduced to Nancy and her expertise.

Though I’m new to the club, I’m not a token member. Nancy truly won my everlasting sewing love with her Create a Strap (I did a review that is best defined as a “love note” over at Craft Test Dummies). I’ve had a chance to play with her laser cut fusible appliques as well as her trace and create tablet keeper. I was able to “meet” her during a closed-circut session at Riley Blake Fabric Fest this last fall. Each one of these times I’ve had the chance to connect with her through product or experience, I’ve walked away an even larger fan.

SeamsUnlikelyBookCover

So, enter the chance to read Nancy Zieman’s Biography, and I was all in. At about 300 pages, it is told as if you’re sitting down to coffee with Nancy. As if she’s telling you the story of where she was born, how Bell’s Palsy and multiple knee surgeries affected her confidence, and how 4H played a significant role in finding her joy.

As I’ve been reading Nancy’s book, I have found myself relating to so many of the stories. I didn’t grow up on a farm or have a smile that was higher on one side. But those are characteristics of Nancy’s life – not elements of her character.

While writing this post, I’ve put a bandaid on one child’s elbow, fixed a Lego car, and had a 20-month-old crawl over me, needing some extra snuggles. Trying to manage a career from home while raising boys and managing a household isn’t easy. But as Nancy showed, it isn’t impossible. Through the support of her husband, and the help of family, she turned her single-page flier into a booming catalog (and now online) business. Her traditional farm upbringing gave her a work ethic that helped her plow forward through adversity.

Today, women-owned businesses aren’t rare. And gals like me working out of our homes at laptops while children play not-so-quietly may not be “normal”, but it isn’t the struggle it was when Nancy began.

I’m loving reading this book. I’m inspired by Nancy’s journey. She didn’t let small spaces or small minds keep her from being successful. I wish I could tell you that I’ve read it cover-to cover already, but other commitments have kept me from getting much further than halfway. But I’m really looking forward to the second half. If you don’t already have this book on your nightstand, make sure you pick up a copy. The first half alone is enough to get you writing lists of your dreams, re-naming them goals, and start making them happen.

Thanks, Nancy, for sending me your book. I’m truly loving it. I’m sure you have many more years of amazing adventures in front of you… I’m already wondering when you’ll be publishing the next installment.

My post is part of Nancy’s Book Tour. You can comment on Nancy’s Post if you’d like a chance to win one of 20 copies that are being given away. If you’d like to read what some others have to say about Nancy’s amazing journey, check out these other stops on the tour:

February 4          Nancy Zieman          

February 5          Eileen Roche

February 5          Pat Sloan

February 6          Melissa Stramel

February 6          The Long Ladies

February 6          Tori Thompson

February 7          Amy Barickman

February 7          Melissa Mora

February 8          Shari Butler

February 8          Vicki Christensen

February 9          Carolina Moore    (you’re here now!)

February 9          Kate Mclvor

February 10          Amy Ellis

February 10          Melissa Mortenson

February 11          Ilene Miller

February 11          Liz Hicks

February 11          Rachael Pannepacker

February 12          Bill Gardner

February 12          Elizabeth Evans

February 13          Amy Webb

February 13          Lindsay Wilkes

February 14          Gertie Hirsch

February 14          Veronica Philips

February 15          Jenny Gabriel

February 15          Laura Wasilowski

February 16          Frieda Anderson

February 16          Rita Farro

February 17          Cindy Cloward

February 17          Joan Hawley

February 17          Patty Young

February 18          Nancy Zieman

 

Pieced Heart Pillow

Pieced heart pillow tutorial

I love decorating for Valentine’s Day. After taking down the Christmas decor, the house feels a little stark. It feels good for a little while – everything has been cleaned up and put away. But after a couple weeks I start to get antsy for some cheery colors and fun decor. Which makes these Valentine’s Day pillows perfect.

I actually made three different kinds of pillows. I’ll be sharing the others with you later in February.

pillows for Valentine's Day

To make the pieced heart pillow fronts, you need (enough for both pillows):
6 fat quarters of patterned fabric (my fabrics are all from “Scrumptious” by Bonnie and Camille for Moda)
1 fat quarter of background fabric (I used Kona Snow)

If you want to finish the pillows you need 1.5 yards backing fabric (that’s enough for both pillows), and about 4″ of velcro. You’ll also need a 20×20″ pillow form for each pillow.

I started by cutting my fabric. For each pillow you need:
From the patterned fabric:
70 – 2″ squares (assorted)
4 – 3″ squares of the same fabric (for cornerstones)

From the background fabric:
4 – 2 x 2″ squares
4 – 3.5 x 2″ strips
3 – 5 x 2″ strips
2 – 6.5 x 2″ strips
2 – 8 x 2″ strips

Lay out all the pieces. I like to lay them out on a piece of batting. The batting helps keep them in place a little bit, so a toddler running by is less likely to destroy my work. I put the pieces in a random order to get a very scrappy look.

lay out pieces

R1: 3.5″ background, 2 squares, 5″ background, 2 squares, 3.5″ background
R2: background square, 4 squares, background square, 4 squares, background square
R3: 11 squares
R4: 11 squares
R5: 11 squares
R6: background square, 9 squares, background square
R7: 3.5″ background, 7 squares, 3.5″ background
R8: 5″ background, 5 squares, 5″ background
R9: 6.5″ background, 3 squares, 6.5″ background
R10: 8″ background, 1 squares, 8″ background

I like to strip piece, so to mark my rows as I’m piecing, I use different colored pins.

mark rows when piecing

Here are all the rows pieced:

pieced into rows

I press the seams in alternate directions on the back. One row to the left, the next to the right, the next to the left… this reduces the bulk and also makes the points match up easier.

iron seams different ways

To finish the top, I measured the top and bottom, took the average of the two, and cut 3″ wide border pieces this length. I then measured the sides, took the average, cut 3″ wide border pieces this length. I added the 3″ squares to the side pieces, added the top and bottom borders, pressed, and then added the side borders. Top complete.

pieced pillow front

Quilting the pillow gives it more depth, and helps keep all that stitching in place. I layered a piece of muslin, batting, and my pillow top, and spray basted (we can have the discussion of pin basting vs. thread basting vs spray basting, but spray basting is just so much faster, so I often go with just spray basting things).

layer to quilt

You can quilt your pillow however you like. I did stitch-in-the-ditch around the border, and around the heart. Then I did a cross-hatch in the heart.

pieced heart pillows

To finish the back of the pillow, I measured my finished pillow, and cut 2 backing pieces. Each piece was the height of the pillow by 1/2 the width + 4″.

I folded the long end over 1″, then folded it over again and pressed. I selected a fun decorative stitch (no particular reason… just why not?), and stitched it down. I did the same with the other side. I added velcro to the center of each. Then I connected them using the velcro, put the whole thing right-sides-together with my pillow top, stitched all the way around, clipped, and turned right side out. There are lots of ways you can finish a pillow. This is called the “envelope” method, and I find it is one of the easiest.

back of pillow

I do like adding about 2″ of velcro to the center. Otherwise the middle tends to balloon out. Much prettier with everything all tucked in.

velcro closure

A New Way to Clip Your Corners

Clipping corners using the seagull method

For years, I’ve been bothered by clipping my corners when making projects. Making bags, pillows, whatever, the instructions call for clipping the corners before turning.

The reason you clip the corners is to reduce bulk. If you don’t trim away the extra seam allowance before  turning, you’ll end up with a lot of bulk in the corners, which makes for unattractive corners.

However, when you clip right across the corner, you weaken the seam. After all, part of the job of the seam allowance is to lend support to the seam so that your stitches don’t pull right through the fabric. And cutting away all that seam allowance (leaving just a thread or two to carry the load) has never sat well with me. Especially since the corners of pillows and bags tend to take a beating – so that’s exactly where you would want strength.

I don’t want to start advocating that everyone stop clipping their corners, resulting in a bunch of bulky, unattractive edges. That isn’t a great solution either. So, I’ve come up with a new way to clip corners, I call it “The Seagull Method”. Pretty arrogant, right? Stitchers have been clipping corners the same way for centuries, and here I come along with a new-fangled way to clip. Well, read on, and feel free to tell me in the comments if you think this is stitching genius or sewing blasphemy.

So (or should I say “sew”…), the Seagull Method. Why call it that? Because instead of cutting off triangles, the pieces clipped off the corners look like little seagulls. You know, the little v-shaps seagulls look like when they’re flying way up high? Which is a great way to remember exactly what the method is.

To demonstrate, I stitched a plastic bag to two pieces of fabric, and clipped the corners.

clipped corner in two different ways

On the left is the traditional way of clipping a corner. At an angle all the way across.

On the right is the Seagull Method. I start about an inch from the corner and taper in, getting about 3-4 threads away from the corner, and then do the same on the other side. Clipping off a little seagull-shaped bit. This takes away more bulk, and spreads the removal over a larger area, keeping as much strength as possible in the seam.

But the real magic comes when the seams are turned.

clipped corner - traditional method

When we turn a traditionally clipped seam, we see this on the inside. The two cut edges but up against each other, and the corner lies flat thanks to the removal of the bulk.

Here is what a corner clipped using the seagull method looks like:

A clipped corner using the seagull method

The bulk is removed in the entire corner, making it very easy to insert a corner-turning tool to poke the corner out. There is a small increase in the bulk right in the corner (since we left 3-4 threads instead of only one), but the entire corner has been strengthened.

This corner-trimming method works on all kinds of projects, helping to reduce the bulk without completely weakening the seam. In any case where I don’t plan to top-stitch along the corner, I think the Seagull Method results in a stronger seam. However, if I plan to topstitch along the corner, as you can see from the images, the traditional method leaves more fabric in the corner seam. This additional fabric will help to strengthen the corner when it is topstitched, making traditional clipping better.

two different clipped corners

What are your thoughts? Will you be clipping corners differently from now on? Or will it at least cross your mind every time you pick up your scissors and get ready to weaken a seam?

My Birdie Sling Bag {Friday Finishes}

Over the weekend, I was at my local quilt shop, and was inspired. Which is one of the great things about quilt shops, isn’t it? I have been doing some bag making lately, but wanted a bag that was a little larger. The Birdie Sling Tote Bagby Amy Butler looked great. Fairly simple to make, 3 fabrics, and nothing super tricky about it. Plus, it was nice and big… perfect for this weekend’s trip to CHA.

I made my bag using Riley Blake fabric for the outside and handle, and a fun Kate Spain print on the inside.

Birdie Sling Bag

I followed the pattern and instructions exactly, with one exception. I used Soft and Stable for my lining instead of fusible fleece. I had the Soft and Stable on hand already, and wanted to save a few pennies… well, as many pennies as you can save when you’re already buying a pattern, over 3 yards of fabric, and 3 yards of interfacing. Bag making isn’t cheap. I guess that’s why I don’t make very many.

My Birdie Sling Bag

I’m looking forward to carrying around my bag this weekend… and moving forward. Such a fun bag!