QM Scrap Squad: Buff’s Summer Love

QM scrap squadB3 QM Scrap Squad: Buffs Summer LoveQuiltmaker’s Scrap Squad is a select group of readers who take one pattern from each issue and make scrappy versions to inspire others. We feature a new Scrap Squad quilt almost every week.

QM created the Scrap Squad because we know our readers want to use fabric they already own to make lively one-of-a-kind creations from our patterns.

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The Scrap Squad quilt from the March/April issue is Summer Love, designed by Kimberly Jolly. It was made by Nancy Parkinson in fabrics from Marcus Fabrics.

QMMP 140400 summer 450 QM Scrap Squad: Buffs Summer LoveSummer Love, designed by Kimberly Jolly, made in fabrics from Marcus Fabrics

Today’s featured quilt is by Buff Jones
from Santa Clara, California.

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Hear Buff’s story in her own words below.

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Oh, what fun it was to stash dive and make a unique version of Summer Love! I started with an inspiration fabric that had been haunting me at my LQS.* It was black with colorful flecks of brights—I could see blocks coming to life.

* Editor’s note: That’s quilt-speak for local quilt shop.

Pulling the ombre scraps I had used in another project, I set out to make my first block.

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Inspiration fabric and ombre leftovers.

I almost always try to make one block first, to test out my color selections and to avoid chain piecing like a madwoman—only to find I have a step out of whack.

I did that once on 32 Log Cabin blocks, and never bothered to notice I’d swapped the first two logs. THAT took some serious repair time, because I found I couldn’t live with it!

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First block complete! Made with ombre scraps.

Voilá! A block with pink ombre looked great, and so did a yellow solid.

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Looks nice in yellow solid too!

It was time to get down to sewing the rest of the blocks, and I just had to make half square triangles and then hourglass blocks.

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Trimmed off triangles won’t go to waste! Making them into hourglass blocks.

As it turned out, they were too small to compete with the big blocks. Another scrap project in the making.

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Look at all these fabulous hourglass blocks! They were too small to compete in the end, but they’ll become another scrap project.

Once I read the Summer Love instructions a few times, I realized that I could use the Fast Flying Geese method on both the dark on light and the light on dark geese.

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Two dark on light and two light on dark, all Fast Flying Geese!

That was all fine and good, but I didn’t have too many scraps that were 7 1/4 inches! I was saved by the fat eighth stack that I just couldn’t resist at the last quilt show.

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This fat eighth stack came to the rescue.

What to do with the sashing? I auditioned more fabrics than you can shake a bolt at, and asked every passerby (one can confidently KNOW that you get great advice from other quilters!) and chose a gold. Not as flashy as the bright yellow that was the runner-up, but a lot less distracting. I chopped up some leftover scraps for the cornerstones, and put a row together, fingers crossed. I wasn’t at all sure that I liked that sashing at first, but I decided to forge ahead!

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Buff’s finished Summer Love quilt

I didn’t want a single second border, so more scraps to the rescue! I had planned to quilt it myself, but wimped out at the last minute (okay, I admit it!!!) My dear friend and long armer Melodee Wade suggested a pattern that had a combination of straight lines and swirls. Combined with a variegated thread, it was perfect!

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Variegated thread was a perfect fit for this quilt.

*     *     *     *     *

This wraps up the Summer Love quilts from the Scrap Squad. We’ll start a new project on Friday, April 4 from the May/June ’14 issue of Quiltmaker.

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QM Staff Inventory: I Love Happy; Giveaway!

Almost from the first moment I started quilting, I realized it was good for my soul. I love that it makes me smile and I really love it when I see some fabric or a quilt and I catch my breath or laugh out loud. That’s what quilting is all about for me – making me happy.

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I designed the 2014 QM Series Quilt, Love Blooms Here.

pinit fg en rect gray 20 QM Staff Inventory: I Love Happy; Giveaway! I make and design quilts all across the board – piecing, applique, stitchery and wool applique. But my favorite is combining them. This quilt hangs in my sewing room, and I just love it.

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I’m sure you have seen those little animal soap holders. Where its mouth is wide open to hold soap or a little scrubbie? When my daughter painted a frog and gave it to me as a gift, I knew I had to make a quilt. What can be happier than 4 happy frogs? And seriously, LOVE the striped binding.

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Got Flies? Quiltmaker May/June ’14

 

Rolling along with the Happy 4′s, I designed this quilt for Quiltmaker’s Quilts from 100 Blocks, Fall ’12. I was like a kid in a candy store while designing this quilt – it was ridiculously fun figuring out what do with all those ears.

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Peek-a-Boo Bunnies, Quilts From 100 Blocks, Fall ’12

 

And speaking of ears, this little quilt is one of my all-time favorites. I first fell in love with the fabrics, and knew I wanted to applique something wooly in the center. Then I found that awesome pink check at a quilt show – had to buy a yard of course – just to make sure I had enough – and the idea of a pink bunny was born. I love, love love her. She makes me happy!

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Wool Bunny

 

When I saw this Christmas line Candy Cane Angels by Lynette Anderson, I knew I had to design something with that fabric. (I have 6, yes 6 ongoing projects projects designed by Lynette going on right now. Yes, seriously, I do. She’s kind of my hero.) Of course it had to have wool applique, and I love the little bitty blocks in the border. I made this quilt for my best friend, so I thought of her the whole time I was making it. Making a quilt for someone you love is about the best thing in the world, I think. And it made her very happy. (Me too!) You’ll find it in QM’s Nov/Dec ’13 issue.

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Christmas Tweet, Quiltmaker Nov/Dec ’13

 

When I was very young my grandma and my mom taught me how to embroider. I’m pretty sure they did it in hopes that I would sit still for 5 minutes. I didn’t learn to sit still, but I was intrigued enough to play around with it. Once I learned that you can embroider on more than just dish towels (remember those happy kitties-of-the-day, or the dancing frying pan and salt and pepper shakers?) I was off and running.

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Seasons Redwork

Stitching absolutely feeds my soul and makes me happy. This little quilt just sings to me. I designed it as a free block-of-the-month on my old blog, and I must have stitched it in 6 different colorways. I love, love love it. Adding embroidery to quilts is like adding frosting to a cupcake.

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Home Sweet Home

 

And adding wool applique to a quilt? It’s the cherry on top of the frosting on top of the cupcake.

QMMS 130037 STODDARD QM Staff Inventory: I Love Happy; Giveaway!

Winter World from Quiltmaker’s 100 Blocks, vol. 8

 

I love that quilting can be so many things to so many people. It’s creative, soothing, adventurous, fun, bonding, inspiring and fulfilling. It touches our hearts and feeds our soul. And, yes, it makes us happy!

It’s a Quilt Happy giveaway! We have a fun bundle of books, fabric, perle cotton and thread for one lucky reader.

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Leave a comment for your chance to win this happy bundle!

For your chance to win, please leave a comment below before midnight Saturday, April 5. We’ll choose winners and post them here next week. Quilt Happy!

Elizabeth Lee has been chosen as our ‘I Love Happy Giveaway’ winner and has been notified by email. Thank you all for your wonderful comments on Paula’s post!

 

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Giveaway! Meet Deonn Stott, Designer of Sheep Shape

Quiltmaker’s May/June issue is winging its way to subscribers and newsstands now.

QMMP 140600 cover 350 Giveaway! Meet Deonn Stott, Designer of Sheep Shape

Quiltmaker May/June ’14

On the cover is Sheep Shape designed by Deonn Stott and made in fabrics from Riley Blake Designs. This quilt is rated “easy”, and in a post later this week, I’ll show you why.

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Deonn Stott

Today I’m pleased to introduce Deonn and share some of her experiences and insights, in her own words.

*     *     *     *     *

I come from a legacy of quilters and makers. I was raised on a little farm in southeast Idaho, the oldest of 11 children. My sisters and I spent a lot of time in the sewing room with our Mom – making 4-H projects, clothes and Christmas gifts. If I wanted new clothes I made them.

My grandmother always “had a quilt on” as they say. My great-grandmother was known as the town quilter, and everyone in Star Valley, Wyoming, would bring her their scraps and she’d stitch them into quilts for charity. She did this for over 50 years and I still remember little piles of squares out on the back porch where she’d sit and sew, with a pot-belly coal stove for heat.

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Triplet daughters in homemade outfits by Deonn

As a young mom, I loved making my kids’ clothes, especially three little outfits for my triplet daughters, usually the same outfit in three different colors – until they told me not to.

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Same outfit—three colors!

Eventually we joined 4-H and they all learned to sew for themselves. Two of the girls really struggled in school, but I found that in the sewing room and in the kitchen, everyone was on equal ground. Consequently, we spent a lot of time in the sewing room as everyone could achieve the same level of success.

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The sewing room was a place where everyone could achieve the same level of success.

Around that time, my mother passed away. My sisters and I discovered a bag in my Mom’s sewing room that contained several Log Cabin quilt blocks along with the strips and fabrics to make a queen-size quilt. I brought the bag home and as I sewed more blocks and made the quilt, there was healing with every stitch.

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The Log Cabin quilt started by her mom became a healing quilt as it was finished by Deonn.

What would have been Mom’s first pieced quilt became my first pieced quilt. I finished it and gave it to my Dad for Christmas. I was hooked.

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Deonn made Quiltmaker’s “America the Beautiful” during her first year of quilting.

I wanted to try it all, and make it all!  (Still do – that may be the reason for the 87 or so UFOs in my closet…) I made five large bed quilts that first year. (Editor’s note: One of those happened to be a QM pattern, America the Beautiful, above.)

My friend Debbie, the county 4-H extension agent, asked me to teach 4-H sewing camp for kids and later a quilt camp. I began looking for the simplest ways to teach my own daughters, 4-H kids and adults. It’s become my mission to explore the best techniques, tricks and tools that will help anyone achieve success. “If there’s a simpler way, let’s find it!” That’s my mantra.

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Deonn’s daughters have grown into quiltmakers themselves.

My girls have each become accomplished quiltmakers themselves, with a collection of quilts for their beds, laps, walls, and a nice collection of ribbons and prizes.

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Carpenter’s Star made by Deonn and her daughters for their husband and father, who is a carpenter.

A few years back, the girls and I put together a Carpenter’s Star quilt for their dad. Each of us sewed together a quarter of the quilt, and we had it finished in a day and a half. (Get the pattern for Carpenter’s Star.)

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Rulers and templates by Lori Holt for Riley Blake Designs inspired Deonn in her design process.

I do some contract work for Riley Blake Designs, and write regular quilting and sewing tutorials at Cutting Corners on their website. When Lori Holt came out with a series of ruler/templates, Riley Blake gave me an assignment to come up with some fun projects using the new ruler sets.

About that time, Diane had written a blog post called “Hexagon Roundup” on Quilty Pleasures, and that eventually led to my “hexigami” techniques.

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An example of hexigami, which Deonn says is just fabric origami.

I considered using them as embellishments like flowers in a meadow, and the sheep just had to go into the meadow! I tried other shapes – a bear, a turtle, a pig…but nothing else really worked, because the hexagons give that fluffy look that only works for a sheep!

QMMP 140600 STOTT 450 Giveaway! Meet Deonn Stott, Designer of Sheep Shape

Sheep Shape by Deonn Stott for Quiltmaker May/June ’14. Fabric: Riley Blake Designs. Kits available. This quilt is rated “easy.”

I brought the quilt top to International Quilt Market as an example of how to use dimensional hexagons. That’s where Quiltmaker came in!

To be continued.

*     *     *     *     *

A kit for Sheep Shape is available.

Part 2 of Meet Deonn Stott later this week on Quilty Pleasures!

deonn22 Giveaway! Meet Deonn Stott, Designer of Sheep Shape

Giveaway! Riley Blake fat quarters plus the new issue of Quiltmaker.

Giveaway (open to anyone, anywhere)! We have fat quarters from Riley Blake Designs and a Hexie Half ruler/template, too—so you can have your own sewing/quilting/design adventure. And we’ll include the May/June issue of Quiltmaker! Deonn is also including a CD from the Mormon Tabernacle Choir—more on that later this week. For a chance to win, please leave a comment here before midnight Friday, April 4. We’ll choose a winner randomly and announce it next week.

But wait! There’s more!

Deonn is also having a giveaway on Quiltscapes! Head on over there and show her some Quiltmaker love, okay?

Posted in Giveaways & Contests, Quilty Lifestyle, Scrapbag | Tagged , , , , , , | 365 Comments

Where I Spent National Quilting Day

I’m lucky to live in a place
where quilting is alive and well.

8574ee60 bf2c 4c7d b54b 99a417560be5 Where I Spent National Quilting Day

Quilt House/International Quilt Study Center and Museum in Lincoln, Nebraska

So I could think of no better place to spend National Quilting Day on March 15 than Quilt House, home to the International Quilt Study Center and Museum in Lincoln, Nebraska.

People come from all over the world to visit the museum and view exhibits from its collections, which include more than 3,500 quilts and quilt-related objects representing more than 30 countries and four centuries of quiltmaking by hand and machine.

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From left, Diane, Keri, Sharon, Glenda and Bev.

Five gals from my area went and we had such a good time.

My favorite of the three exhibits currently hanging was Design Dynamics of Log Cabin Quilts.

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Design Dynamics of Log Cabin Quilts

 

I love antique quilts, and these were stunners. Seeing all the different things a simple Log Cabin can do—it just never gets old.

You can get more information on each quilt by clicking on the photos or the “more about this quilt” links.

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Log Cabin, Sunshine and Shadow setting. Maker unknown. Possibly made in New Jersey circa 1880-1900. IQSCM 2003.003.0254, Jonathan Holstein Collection.

The warmth of this quilt was amazing. See more about this quilt, including a complete flat shot.

I couldn’t resist some detail shots so you could see the fabrics.

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Fabric detail

It really makes me appreciate the fine job fabric companies do with reproduction fabrics these days. If you weren’t an expert, in many cases you couldn’t tell the reproductions from the real thing.

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Fabric detail

Next was the classic Barn Raising setting.

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Log Cabin, Barn Raising setting. Maker unknown. Possibly made in Pennsylvania circa 1910-1920. IQSCM 2003.003.0175, Jonathan Holstein Collection.

And fabric detail.

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Fabric detail

I thought the red gingham used throughout was smashing! See more about this quilt.

The quilt below is Log Cabin in a Chevron setting, according to the placard.

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Log Cabin, Chevron setting. Maker unknown. Probably made in Pennsylvania circa 1880-1900. IQSCM 2003.003.0184, Jonathan Holstein Collection.

Isn’t this beautifully bold and graphic?

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Fabric detail

I like that great little paisley on black with narrow red stripes.

Now we move to a Pineapple. Let’s start with a close up this time.

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Fabric detail

Moving out just a little.

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Medium shot

And the full quilt.

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Log Cabin, Pineapple variation. Maker unknown. Made in the United States circa 1880-1900. IQSCM 2003.003.0242, Jonathan Holstein Collection.

See more about the quilt above.

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Log Cabin, Courthouse Steps variation. Probably made by Mary Groff. Probably made in Pennsylvania. Dated 1871. IQSCM 2003.003.0211, Jonathan Holstein Collection.

This Courthouse Steps quilt has a signature and a date.

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Mary Groff, 1871

The placard stated that “few Log Cabin quilts have inscribed names and dates. This quilt is particularly important to the IQSCM as it is one of the earliest known date-inscribed American Log Cabin quilts.”

Mary Groff may be looking down from heaven thinking, “I’m sure glad I signed that quilt.”

 

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I can relate to the border on this quilt.
Log Cabin, Light and Dark setting. Maker unknown. Probably made in Pennsylvania circa 1890-1910. IQSCM 2003.003.0217, Jonathan Holstein Collection.

I love the border on the quilt above because I can relate to it. See how the piano keys in the bottom left corner are very straight and orderly? And see how radically they lean at the quilt’s top right corner? How many times have you had something like this happen to a project? I know I’ve been in that boat. This quilter didn’t let it stop her! And now her quilt hangs in an internationally-renowned museum.

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Fabric detail

And you gotta love a woman who puts just a spot of cheddar into a quilt. Just that little dab, two patches worth! Read more about this quilt.

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Only two patches in the quilt feature this cheddar color.

 

And then, whoa—look at this one.

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Log Cabin, Streak of Lightning setting. Maker unknown. Probably made in Hagerstown or Franklin County, Maryland, or Pennsylvania circle 1870-1890. IQSCM 1997.007.0825, Gift of Ardis and Robert James.

And if the center’s not snazzy enough for you, look at that braided border.

nqd24 Where I Spent National Quilting DayIf you want to make a braided border on your own quilt, Bonnie Hunter at Quiltville will show you how (for free).

For the next quilt, let’s begin with a close up again.

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Fabric detail

And then more of a medium range shot.

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Medium shot

And the whole quilt in all her glory.

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Log Cabin, Streak of Lightning setting. Maker unknown. Circa 1890-1910. IQSCM 2003.003.0237, Jonathan Holstein Collection.

Look at that narrow yellow strip to set things off. Sometimes we’re anxious and we just slap on some borders to get it finished.

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Border detail

Not this quilter! Read more about this quilt.

*     *     *     *     *

We saw several demonstrations but the best one was Sue McKee-Neill doing English paper piecing of 1/2″ hexagons.

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Sue McKee-Neill’s demo of tiny hexagons and English paper piecing

One hexie would just fit on the tip of your finger.

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The completed designs were beautiful. And a little nuts.

The completed designs were beautiful. And a little nuts.

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Blocks and socks

I got some vintage Bow Tie blocks and a pair of souvenir socks in the gift area.

And there were corporate sponsors which meant freebies like Aurifil thread and a Handi Quilter tote bag in bright yellow.

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Handi Quilter was one of the corporate sponsors.

I made a cute needle case in about three minutes using AccuQuilt dies.

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The folks from AccuQuilt were on hand with their die-cutting magic.

I hope your National Quilting Day was as good as this one was. If not, maybe you should plan a trip to Lincoln next year. I’ll meet you there.

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#nqd2014

 

Posted in Quilty Lifestyle, Scrapbag | Tagged , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Search Tips for Quilters

Here’s something you need to know if you’re a quilter and you use the internet.

MH900383348 Search Tips for Quilters

There is an easy way that you can find a boatload of inspiration for your quilts.

It’s really simple:

Use Google to search specifically for images.

Here’s how it works. Go to Google’s home page at Google.com.

google8 Search Tips for QuiltersIt’s hard to read the tiny words in this screen shot, but the red arrow is pointing to “Images.” Click on “images.”

google2 Search Tips for QuiltersNow the Google logo says “images” and indicates that you’ll be searching for, you guessed it, images. How is this helpful for a quilter? Let me show you.

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The red arrow shows the line of words that give you options in case you want to switch out of Images. “Web” means searching everything. You can also choose Shopping, Videos, News or More.

If you’re in Google Images and you search for “log cabin quilt,” this is a small sampling of the results you’ll get. I say it’s only a sampling because you can scroll and scroll (see below) and see more and more ideas!

The red arrow in the photo above shows the line of words that give you options in case you want to switch out of Images. Choose “Web” and Google will go back to searching everything. You can also choose Shopping, Videos, News or More.

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Scroll down to see more and more log cabin quilt images.

Let’s try a different search. Here’s what you get by searching Google Images for “flying geese quilt.”

google7 Search Tips for QuiltersAnd I don’t know how they do it (Google is smart!), but there’s a cool sideways-scrolling bar of options along the top of the screen indicated by my red arrows. You can choose any of these if they fit your needs: modern flying geese quilt, block, Anthropologie, scrap, antique, vintage.

google6 Search Tips for QuiltersI clicked on “scrap” and the screen changed to this, indicating there were “100+ more” images of scrappy Flying Geese if I wanted to see them. Are you getting excited yet? This is an amazing tool for us!

If you wanted to see designs by a specific quilter, you could search for something like “Caryl Bryer Fallert quilts.” Here’s what you’d see.

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Maybe you feel like making a blue and white quilt. Search for “blue and white quilt.”

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Try “red and white quilt.”

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Try searching with a famous artist’s last name, like “Van Gogh.”

google12 Search Tips for QuiltersAnd just like that, you know something about the colors Vincent Van Gogh preferred! Isn’t this fun?!?

Okay, now you know how to search in Google Images and get a lot of visual information with just a few clicks.

Off you go—to discover!

Posted in Scrapbag | Tagged , , | 9 Comments

One Scrappy Story

I finished piecing a 90″ x 90″ scrap quilt last week, and soon it will head off to the quilter. This quilt and I had a love-hate relationship from the get-go. I blogged about its birth in a post called “Running Smack Dab into Ugly.”

ugly1 One Scrappy Story

While the patches looked great in a pile, they were less enticing when sewn together.

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Things improved as I added blocks.

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Nevertheless, it went into the UFO pile for quite some time.

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The quilt top improved when I added more units.

It ended up being 17 units across and 17 up and down. I still wasn’t loving it, but then I had an idea.

scrappy3 One Scrappy StoryHow about using a great big multi-colored print for the border? I pulled this Jane Sassaman floral from my stash and auditioned. The narrow yellow border seemed necessary to first bring everything to a halt. Once I put up the wide border, I turned a corner. Now I really liked the quilt!

scrappy4 One Scrappy Story

The border fabric is directional so I had some decisions to make.

I had only enough fabric for the sides of the quilt, so I’d have to use border cornerstones. But there was another issue. The black floral border fabric is directional. The flowers definitely all grow in one direction.

When you have plenty of fabric, you can cut two borders lengthwise and two borders crosswise, like they are in this quilt:

scrappy5 One Scrappy StoryAgain it’s the flowers growing up that make this directional. I bought enough fabric in this case to cut the borders accordingly. The sides are cut lengthwise. The top and bottom borders are cut across-grain and pieced for length.

scrappy61 One Scrappy StoryHere’s a closer shot. The borders are cut so that all the flowers grow upward as they should. The white arrows indicate the lengthwise grain. I’ve labeled the seam, too. It’s good to be aware that this is an option whenever you’re using directional fabric for borders.

scrappy9 One Scrappy StoryHere’s another example of a great border fabric where you’d need to deal with the directional element.

scrappy10 One Scrappy StoryAll of the little houses stand in rows and it’s definitely directional. You’d want to buy enough of this fabric to give yourself options.

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I didn’t have much to work with for the scrappy quilt, so I had only two options. I could have the flowers growing upwards in both side borders, and have them growing sideways on the top and bottom (photo above). I liked the sides but I did not like the top border in the photo above. I decided against it.

scrappy7 One Scrappy StoryMy other possibility was to have the flowers grow around the quilt. Think of it as all flowers growing clockwise. I liked this solution. I chose fabric for the cornerstones and on the borders went.

scrappy8 One Scrappy StoryThere is one light spot that I’m unhappy with (see the black box), but after a lot of pondering, I’m going to leave it alone. This was an easy scrap quilt to use up old fabric, not a show quilt.

Takeaway lessons:

• Scrap quilts are usually ugly at first. Just keep sewing.

• A border can pull the whole mess together.

• Be aware of directional fabrics and how you can use them.

If you’d like to make an Attic Stairs quilt and get many more ideas for how this block unit can be used, check out Karen Griska’s Stairsteps Quilts book on etsy for $9.95. Lots of other great patterns by Karen there, too!

Posted in Quilting 101, Scrapbag | Tagged , , , , , | 12 Comments

QM Tips: Keep Fusible Applique Soft

QMMS 140042 cover 200 QM Tips: Keep Fusible Applique SoftGarden Waltz is a quilt designed by Nancy Mahoney and patterned in Quilts from Quiltmaker’s 100 Blocks Spring ’14 edition.

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It’s a beautiful quilt with some really eye-catching applique. The large applique patches  can become stiff, though, if you apply fusible web behind the full applique patch. One way around this is to use a very light weight fusible such as Shades SoftFuse Premium or Mistyfuse.

You also can try this:

Instead of applying the fusible to the back of the green/black bands as instructed in the magazine, trace template D on the paper side of fusible web.

Nancy Mahoney 1 300x174 QM Tips: Keep Fusible Applique Soft

 

Cut the fusible 1/4″ away from both sides of the traced line.

Nancy Mahoney 2 300x174 QM Tips: Keep Fusible Applique Soft

 

Position and fuse to the back of the fabric band as shown below.

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Cut on the marked line.

Nancy Mahoney 4 300x172 QM Tips: Keep Fusible Applique Soft

 

Peel away the paper and fuse in place on the quilt. Sew a blanket stitch around the outside of the applique.

Nancy Mahoney 5 300x160 QM Tips: Keep Fusible Applique Soft

 

Trim the background fabric from behind the applique, being very careful not to cut into the applique patch.

Nancy Mahoney 6 300x258 QM Tips: Keep Fusible Applique Soft

 

This reduces the bulk in your quilt and keeps the applique soft and pliable.

Nancy Mahoney 7 300x180 QM Tips: Keep Fusible Applique Soft

Many quilters use this method to reduce stiffness in their applique projects. Give it a try and see if it works for you.

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One Machine Quilter’s Story

This is Quiltmaker’s
Year of Machine Quilting!

YOMQ button 450 One Machine Quilters Story

Our goal is to help you become a confident machine quilter on your home sewing machine. If you’re not already following the lessons in Machine Quilting 101, reading the articles in print, practicing with your sewing machine, and taking encouragement from the blog posts, I would invite you to do so.

In February, I went on a quilt retreat with friends, and sat next to Cindy Boos from Highlands Ranch, Colorado. Cindy was quilting away and seemed to be enjoying it.

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Cindy Boos machine quilts and enjoys it!

And to top it off, her quilting looked amazing. So I started asking some questions—and knew right away that I wanted to share Cindy’s machine quilting story with Quilty Pleasures readers.

“I took a machine quilting class about 20 years ago and I hated it,” she said. “There were a couple of reasons. I drove 70 miles to the class, then I drove the sewing machine all day.  By the time I got home I felt like all I had done was ferociously drive.

“At the time I was a hand quilter. Machine quilting was anything but peaceful and relaxing the way hand work was. We had to mark the quilting lines with fine nylon mesh or plastic templates. It was hard to sew on the lines and make the stitches even and perfect.

harrieth One Machine Quilters Story

Cindy’s first machine quilting class was based on this book by Harriet Hargrave.

“Even  and perfect stitches were the goal with hand quilting, so it was hard to get past that. Machine quilting was also very controversial at the time. It was sort of considered ‘cheating’ and not valued nearly as much as hand quilting.

“Machine quilting was intense and stressful, so I put it away for 20 years.”

About five years ago, Cindy once again tried her hand at machine quilting. She says she practiced sporadically and that “some of it was horrible.” But this time she kept at it, practicing and practicing some more. She always used thread that matched the fabric because she didn’t want the quilting to show.

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Cindy’s quilting journal

Cindy said it took about six months for her to be “not awful.” And then she started to see improvement. She began to notice beautiful quilting designs and she wanted to remember them, so she grabbed an inexpensive notebook and started a quilting journal.

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Cindy’s first sketches were like her first quilting: a little rough.

“I didn’t care if I made a mistake in it because it wasn’t a fancy book,” she said.

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Cindy’s sketches improved over time, as did her machine quilting.

She continued to sketch quilting ideas into the notebook and the sketches improved.

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Compare the feathers Cindy drew here to the feathers she drew earlier. They are prettier and they flow nicely—much better!

Now the notebook is a go-to source for quilting ideas whenever Cindy needs them.

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Great quilting ideas fill page after page in Cindy’s notebook.

She continues to practice. She’s been working on the whole-cloth blocks below, putting her ideas right onto fabric. The contrasting thread is a testament to her increased confidence.

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Cindy is still practicing, using her ideas to play around and see what works.

You can see that even with considerable experience, it still takes some practice before a design is fluid and beautiful.

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Each new design takes practice.

Cindy shared her thoughts about what has changed. “Now machine quilting is accepted and valued in the quilting world and you don’t have to draw lines to make it super perfect.” She’s thinking about connecting these practice blocks into a quilt. Wouldn’t that be smashing?

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The variegated thread adds another dimension to this quilting design on Cindy’s practice block.

The takeaway lesson here is that you won’t be a great machine quilter overnight. Everyone who does this kind of work has practiced and practiced, sometimes for years.

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You won’t quilt like this overnight, but you can do it with plenty of persistent practice.

The good news is that you can do it! If you’re willing to practice, to do the hard work of learning a new skill—it is possible to become a confident machine quilter. Just ask Cindy!

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If Cindy can do it, you can do it, too!

Posted in Machine Quilting | Tagged , | 4 Comments

Giveaway! Lori Holt and Great Granny Squared

Quiltmaker is pleased to partner with It’s Sew Emma publications today. We’re reviewing the brand new Great Granny Squared book by Lori Holt of Bee in My Bonnet. And then we have several copies for giveaway!

Image Giveaway! Lori Holt and Great Granny Squared

Great Granny Squared by Lori Holt

If you have yet to discover the joy of Bee in My Bonnet, you’ll want to visit Lori’s little corner of the world. There is always something fun and creative going on there.

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Apron Club by Lori Holt

The first thing I knew of Lori was about seven years ago. I spotted her Apron Club pattern at International Quilt Market and thought it was just about the cutest thing I’d ever seen. An internet search led me to Lori’s blog and before I knew it, I was knee-deep in the Bee in My Bonnet Row Along.

beerows Giveaway! Lori Holt and Great Granny SquaredThese are the first rows I made as I followed along with Lori’s instructions.

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Quilty Fun by Lori Holt for It’s Sew Emma

Eventually the patterns for the row quilt were published in Lori’s first book, Quilty Fun. This is one of my all-time favorite quilt books. I want to make almost all of these quilts and I believe I actually will.

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Great Granny Squared by Lori Holt for It’s Sew Emma

Now Lori’s second book is out, and it features her signature happy color combos and accurate, detailed instructions. Great Granny Squared takes one idea and uses it in different sizes and settings for two quilts, a table runner, a pillow and two pieced, embroidered quilt labels. At $13.95, you get a lot of bang for your buck.

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Beautiful photography on every page!

I’d get this book just for the photography. The colors are fresh and the pages are full of light. You have to love Lori’s style, and the folks at It’s Sew Emma know how to capture it perfectly.

 Giveaway! Lori Holt and Great Granny Squared

Instructions for two embroidered quilt labels are in Lori Holt’s new book.

Aren’t these great quilt labels? Both are patterned in Great Granny Squared.

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Even the back cover is adorable!

I highly recommend either of Lori’s books—they’ll be fresh, fun additions to your quilt shelf.

So: I’m sure you’d love to win this book! Let’s have a giveaway. For your chance to win one of five copies, leave a comment here by midnight Wednesday, March 26. We’ll choose four winners randomly and announce them here. The winners are Nancy C, Kelly S, Sandy K, Sydney C and Karen T. They’ve been notified by email.

Also of note: Lori designs fabric for Riley Blake. Look for her newest lines at your local quilt shop.

Posted in Giveaways & Contests, Scrapbag | Tagged , , , , | 368 Comments

QM Scrap Squad: Louisa’s Canada Goose

QM scrap squadB3 QM Scrap Squad: Louisas Canada Goose

Quiltmaker’s Scrap Squad is a select group of readers who take one predetermined pattern from each issue and make scrappy versions to inspire other readers. We feature a new Scrap Squad quilt almost every week.

QM created the Scrap Squad because we know our readers want to use fabric they already own to make lively one-of-a-kind creations from our patterns.

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The Scrap Squad quilt from the March/April issue is Summer Love, designed by Kimberly Jolly. It was made by Nancy Parkinson in fabrics from Marcus Fabrics.

QMMP 140400 summer 450 QM Scrap Squad: Louisas Canada Goose

Summer Love, designed by Kimberly Jolly, made in fabrics from Marcus Fabrics

Today’s featured quilt is by Louisa Robertson from Merritt, British Columbia, Canada. You’ll want to check out her blog, Louisa Quilts. Hear her story in her own words below.

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I know that block! The block in Kimberly Jolly’s Summer Love is one I’ve had on my “Someday List” for years. I first saw it in Ruth McKendry’s book Quilts and Other Bed Coverings in the Canadian Tradition, 1979, where it was called “Old Brown Goose” or “Old Grey Goose.” It’s a traditional block that was used a lot in early Canadian quilts.

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Shirt fabrics and muslin were uninspiring.

 

First thought—make this old-fashioned block in old-fashioned fabrics, shirtings and plaids with muslin. But this pile didn’t look very inspiring for sewing on dreary winter days!


 

I put away the plaids and decided instead to give the block a Canadian flavour by using red and white. Adding black to this gave me red/white/black, an easy palette to work with which should appeal to the men in my family.

I have a “mature stash” which was the source of most of the fabrics I needed.

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Reds – at the orange-red end of the scale.

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I was able to include this batik made for Canadian Quilters Association (CQA-ACC) 25th anniversary (2006).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Black and white fabrics

The black-and-white fabrics came from a collection that had been gathered over many years. I couldn’t use all of them – some were not clearly light OR dark, but I did manage to put a few of those middle ones in the centres of red blocks.

 

 

 

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Whites, including one recycled thrift shop shirt

 

 

Whites – mostly white-on-white, but a piece from a thrift shop shirt was white enough to fit in with the others.

 

 

 

I liked the way the quilt designer coloured the centre of the block using pairs of triangles to make parallelograms, and I decided to do this with my blocks. When coloured this way, the block has strong vertical and horizontal symmetry. I decided I preferred it set straight rather than on point.

Canada goose red QM Scrap Squad: Louisas Canada Goose

Plan for fabric placement

My plan called for alternate red blocks and black blocks. This required a layout in odd numbers: five blocks by seven blocks gives a nice proportion. I reduced the block size to 10″ so I’d have room to play with pieced borders.

Many of my fabrics were scrappy small pieces, not large enough for cutting the squares and rectangles needed for the quick methods of making the units. I cut individual triangles instead. This meant handling bias edges. Using spray starch before cutting helped minimize stretching.

Since the block size is 10″,  units need to finish 2.5″ x 5″. Both types of triangles—the “goose” unit and the smaller “wings”—can be cut from a 3″ strip using appropriate triangle rulers.

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Cutting both types of triangles from a 3″ strip.

 

 

I used an Omnigrid 96 ruler for the half-square triangles and Omnigrid 98 for the quarter square triangle. (Editor’s note: You can also use the Easy Angle ruler, the Companion Angle ruler, or the Fons & Porter Half & Quarter ruler.)

 

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Making use of small scraps.

In order to use a few special scraps I resorted to “poverty piecing” – these triangles were made of three strips sewn together.

 

 

 

 

 

After all the pieces were cut I made block “kits” to ensure a good distribution of fabrics. I tried to avoid duplicating any fabrics in a block.

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The “kit” for one red block.

Each kit consisted of 24 triangles. There is a set of background pieces, all matching; two geese and eight wings. For the main part of the block, which is scrappy, there are four geese and four matching pairs of wings. I aimed for eight different fabrics here. And for the centre of the block there are two matching geese. These are red in the black blocks and black on white in the red blocks.

 

 

 

 

Using only one fabric for the background of each block simplified construction of the outer four geese. I used these pieces for “leaders and enders” between sections as I constructed the centre portion.

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Laying out triangles to for proper placement of each fabric.

The centre portion of each block needed more concentration as it contains 12 pieces and six different fabrics. Only by laying out the block before I started to sew, and by putting each piece back into the layout as I completed it, could I be sure the pieces would form the parallelograms correctly.

 

 

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Alternate blocks were too “checkerboard-y”

 

 

I proceeded to piece blocks happily, really liking each block as it joined the others on the wall. But as the blocks accumulated I realized I didn’t like them alternating like that. For a few days I was paralyzed with indecision. Perhaps there was a better layout and I just couldn’t find it.

 

I sent off an email to my computer guru sons:  18 red blocks, 17 black, arranged in a five by seven array, must be symmetrical vertically and horizontally.  How many layouts are possible? I expected an answer of maybe ten or twenty or perhaps even thirty possibilities.

Back came answers with formulas and charts (all that nCr stuff from the Probability and Statistics section of math class). They told me that there were 290 arrangements of my blocks! Wow! In that case I would certainly not settle for a plain old checkerboard! There wasn’t time to work my way through all 289 of the other combinations so I chose one that seemed to work and sewed the blocks together.

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Border assembly in diagonal rows

 

 

I needed yet more triangles to make the pieced borders. I cut these as quarter-square triangles (straight grain on the long edge) to keep the designs (mostly) running vertically on the quilt. I assembled the strips diagonally which meant I was again handling a lot of bias, but the starched fabrics held everything nice and straight, and the borders came out just right.

 

 

 

Just in case the blocks were not exactly the right size, I did not cut the white strips until AFTER I made the pieced parts of the borders. I measured the borders and the quilt centre and found that everything fit beautifully. If the sizes had not been correct, an adjustment could have been made in the width of the white strip.

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I love the way that just a simple square helps the border turn the corner neatly.

 

Finally the top was all together. I found a gray flannel backing for it and used Hobbs Heirloom 80/20 batting. A panto pattern called “Blowing Wind” added a bit of movement to the design. The quilting thread is a variegated black/grey/white from Aurifil. A simple black binding finishes the edge.

 

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Canada Goose, 66″ x 85″

And here is my finished quilt.  Canada Goose is 66″ x 85″—just about right for one of my tall sons.

 

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