Quilt as you Go Basics

Have you tried Quilt as You go yet? I have to admit that it is one of my favorite time-saving techniques. Quilt-as-you-go allows you to piece your quilt and quilt it at the same time!

Quilt as you go basics

I’m using Fairfield’s awesome Fusi-boo Bamboo batting for today’s quilt as you go demonstration – though you could use other batting, this batting is uniquely suited to the quilt as you go technique. Check out all the details in the video!

 

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!

Easter Bunny Pocket Shirt

Bunny Applique pocket

Happy Easter! I thought I’d share my son modeling his Easter shirt. You can find my tutorial for this little Easter Bunny Pocket Shirt over at the Thermoweb blog. My youngest is almost two, and he’s in love with pockets. His older brother was, too, at that age. He loves putting things in, and taking them out. The whole concept of a pocket and its functionality is fascinating to him! Funny how we take these things for granted later in life, isn’t it?

Easter bunny pocket shirt

As I was taking these pictures, I realized how few handmade things I’ve made for my youngest. His big brother got quite a few, and they are doing a great job as hand-me-downs… but cute things like this just for him? Not very many at all. As a second child myself, I feel I have a lot of catching up to do!

hunting for eggs

Especially since this kid is pretty darn photogenic! If I do say so myself (and I do!). He did a great job of putting up with me while posing for these photos…

looking for eggs in bunny shirt

I put together full instructions on making the bunny applique and pocket, you can see them over on the Therm-o-Web blog. A fun Easter shirt for a boy to wear…

make an applique pocket

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!

Five Year Finish

witch quilt by buggy barn

This quilt is finally finished. It only took 5 years.

There is nothing overly complex about this quilt that made it take so long. I took a class at Quiltique when I was on maternity leave after having my oldest, who is now 5. I finished the blocks within a few days of taking the class.

A few years later, I put the blocks together and finished the quilt top. I had a friend quilt it.

A year or so after that, I made the binding.

This year, I stitched on the binding. Finally. It took 5 years, but this quilt is finished.

I have quite a few more UFOs (Un-Finished Objects) hanging in the closet that need piecing, quilting, and/or binding… I’m hoping to start working my way through them, instead of adding to them. I have already trimmed 3 quilts that need binding, and cut out their binding. I’m taking baby steps, but at least they are in the right direction.

Do you have any UFOs that you want to get caught up on?

PS – If you are interested, the quilt pattern for the quilt pictured above is from Buggy Barn. It is a fun stack-and-chop technique for making a quilt block.

Same Block, Three Ways

same block three ways

Recently, I made 3 different blocks for a swap. Well, they look different, but really they are the same. They all use green and red fabrics from Kate Spain’s line “In From the Cold” for Moda Fabrics. And they all actually use the same block pattern… but by switching up the color placement, and the amounts of red and green in each block, I ended up with three completely different blocks!

same block, three colorways

This is a great exercise when playing with color. Different colors, in different places, make the same block… not so much the same.

 

Quilting Feathers Class with Sharon Schamber

Earlier this week I had the chance to take a class from Sharon Schamber, an amazing free-motion quilter. When I saw Quiltique advertise the free-motion feathers class, I immediately knew I wanted to sign up. One of my goals last year was to get comfortable with free-motion quilting. I never did it. I hoped that this class would give me the push I needed. In whatever form that might be. Inspiration, knowledge, tools… I was lacking in all these departments.

When I signed up for her class, I had no idea who Sharon was. Really. I do know that Quiltique always brings in amazing teachers, and I have never met a single guest teacher in their classroom who didn’t live up to the hype (and then some)! She is an Award Winning Quilter, nationally (probably Internationally) recognized for her work.

award winning quilter sharon schamber

It was an all-day class, and very little of it was actually spent behind the sewing machine. The first half was a lot of lecture. Sharon has a unique teaching style that I won’t spoil for you by trying to explain it. But I learned more in class than quilting (for example, apparently I have a “biker chick” aura… for those of you who have met me in person, feel free to debate or agree). We talked a lot about the role of quilting, the proportion of quilting, and how to make decisions about quilting a quilt. I could listen to her lecture for another day and still feel like I only learned a little of what she had to offer.

She didn’t share her quilts until the very, very end of class… and I’m glad. Had I seen all this beautiful quilting beforehand, I might not have been able to focus on the class!

feather

I know it is hard to tell scale in these photos, but just check out all the beautiful detail in this quilting!

The gold thread in this next photo is bobbin work. A whole different technique… but check out the fill in the white space behind the bobbin work. Ah-maze-ing.

bobbin work

I snapped a photo of the back of one of the quilts as it was being folded up. You can see fingers in the top right of the photo, which gives you an idea of the scale here. Some of this quilting is seriously tiny!

back of quilt

I was fascinated by this little study. Each of these 9 squares is just 2.5″ across! How many stitches can you fit in a 2.5″ square?

quilting study

This gives you a better picture of how small this really is.

small study

This next quilt is all made from hand-dyed cotton. All the texture the quilting adds makes it look like velvet!

quilting texture

The different colored threads here help the quilting really stand out on this quilt.

quilting detail

This is a shot as this quilt was being opened. There are 99 different stipples on this quilt. A stipple is small quilting usually done on sections of the quilt that are in the background.

different fills

Here is an amazing fill – that wavy-line quilting with the cross-lines between? Wow.

more fill

And this is probably my favorite shot. These little toadstools live right on the edge of the quilt. Like a little secret surprise. I wonder how many surprises live in the quilting on this quilt?

quilted toadstools

One last shot of her quilting… this beautiful feather!

large feather

As a beginner, I’m not anywhere near this skilled. Her quilts are something to aspire to. But, I did take the first steps! I had a chance to try three feathers in class… and here is the third one!

my feather

Yeah, I’m no Sharon Schamber… but for my third attempt at a free-motion feather, I have to say I’m pretty proud of myself! I will have to keep working on it, practicing the shape and getting better control of my stitching speed… but I now have the tools, knowledge, and definitely the inspiration to make it happen!