We had the pleasure of having the lovely Cheryl Arkison visit the workroom to teach a couple classes a month ago. What a fun, but too short two days we had with her. Cheryl is one of the co-authors of the book, Sunday Morning Quilts, which is all about how to organize and use your scrap fabric. The book is wonderful and filled with so many great ideas and projects to use up those precious scraps of fabric. I am a scrap fabric hoarder, so this book totally validates my behaviour. (and makes me feel good about it!)
The first class Cheryl taught was the Quilted Storage Box. I LOVE this project!! You use your scrap fabric to make improv patchwork boxes that are colour coded to hold and organize all your scraps. I want to make a hundred of these! We started by making a large improv block that Cheryl calls ‘slabs’. The slab is then cut up and used to make the sides and bottom of the box. The design is pretty brilliant. I loved getting to line up all the boxes at the end of the class together to see them as a group. In my dream world, I have a craft room at home and the shelves are lined with these colourful boxes. I can’t wait for a free afternoon so I can whip up some more of these.
On Monday morning, we gathered together for Cheryl’s second class Colour Value. I know that colour is something that most people struggle with when choosing for their patchwork, so this class was really useful to help pinpoint some good tips and tricks to recognize and use colour value to your advantage. I used a charm pack from the collection Twenty-Three to make my HSTs (half square triangles). It was particularly interesting because when I laid out all the squares, the colour from the collection appears to have very little contrast, so I was a bit concerned that I wouldn’t be able to achieve any visible colour value difference within my blocks. Paying attention to even small differences in colour value created a pretty nice result in my final piece. I still need to sew all the HSTs together, but I kept them organized in the layout from class.
Cheryl is such a great teacher, I’m already hoping to convince her she needs to return to the workroom for more classes! In the meantime, you can take a class with her on Craftsy or pick up a copy of Sunday Morning Quilts. Cheryl’s new book will be coming out this summer and I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy!!
p.s. Cheryl wrote a really nice post about her experience teaching at the workroom here.
Wiksten Tova Dress by Jenny Gordy
Red/Blue Plaid Cotton Shirting from Sultan’s Fine Fabrics
Photographed in the town of Morro D’Orro, Italy
Continuing on with posting some Italy photos! I really just LOVE this dress to pieces. Everything about it. This is my first Wiksten Tova as a dress and it was a wonderful piece to travel with. Super comfortable, but also very pretty.
This fabric is a dream. I bought it last year at Sultan’s Fine Fabrics. I adore this plaid colour combo, but the fabric itself is the most beautiful, thin, cotton shirting. I will have to go back and see if there’s anything similar. I could wear this kind of fabric all the time.
One lesson that I learned while making this dress was that if you are carrying your fabric pieces around and you go grocery shopping, it’s not a good idea to put a carton of blueberries in with your fabric. Oh yes, I got smushed blueberry stains on the back piece of the dress. Total disaster. Luckily, my lovely pal, Jacqueline of Soak Wash, took charge of the situation and had me Soak the fabric over night while she checked on it every few hours, giving it a light rub here and there. Miraculously, (or not, since Soak is amazing!) the stains were gone in the morning. Phew. Crisis averted & lesson learned!
These photos were taking in the little town of Morro D’Orro close to where we attended Squam Italia. We wandered the winding streets one afternoon with our tour guide telling us stories of how the town had been bombed during WWII and I snuck into an abandoned building to take these shots.
I have it from a good source that we’ll be seeing some new Wiksten patterns soon. I can’t wait to see & sew Jenny’s new designs!
You can find the Wiksten Tova pattern here!
Darling Ranges Dress by Megan Nielsen
Liberty of London Tana Lawn Cotton in Grey Howell’s Ladders|
Photographed at the Hotel Alexandria, Rome, Italy
Somehow I have STILL not posted my Italy photos from September! I wore this particular dress on the weekend at the Spring City of Craft Show and it’s a good one, so I wanted to finally share it here.
Also – I’m going to blame jet lag for my serious look in the first photo. This was just our second day in Italy, so surely I was both tired and overwhelmed.
There are lots of things that I love about this dress besides the wonderful Liberty print that I used for it. I especially love the v-neck, since I don’t really have any other dresses, except my City Limits wrap dress with this neckline. I used Mother of Pearl snaps instead of buttons which I also love. Next time I make this dress, I’ll still use snaps, but just regular coloured snaps that are not as heavy as the Mother of Pearl ones. Since there are so many, they are a bit heavy on the lighter Tana Lawn cotton.
I made one alteration on the pattern, which was to move & change the bust dart. This was something that I also did with the Banksia Top. Megan Nielsen has included lots of helpful tutorials on her blog about different alterations you can make to her patterns. Very helpful! Other than that, the pattern is pretty straightforward and I’m quite sure I’ll be making another one.
You can find the Darling Ranges pattern here!
Here’s my second completed quilt top of the year (of 12). I’ve been wanting to try out some of the rulers from Creative Grids and got my hands on this one, Triangle Squared. Right away, I could see how wonderful these rulers are. Once I had decided on the height of my triangles, I just cut out strips of fabric (1/2″ taller than my finished triangle height) and was able to quickly cut out all my pieces. There was pretty much no waste and my cutting was very accurate. Did I say that it was quick to cut out? It really was! That alone makes me love this ruler. That top notch, in the tip of the triangle, ends being very useful when pairing your triangles together for piecing. The ruler also has a subtle texture on the bottom that prevents it from slipping around.
I randomly pieced the triangles together in pairs and then laid out all the pairs to determine a final layout. All the pairs were pieced into rows and then the rows were sewn together. I made good use of my Best Press Starch for this project to keep everything nice and flat. I was able to cut and piece this top together within the same day. I love quick projects like this!
If I was to do something similar to this in the future, I might be more deliberate with my fabric placement. I can see how you can create some wonderful secondary patterns by playing with the colour value. I just basted this quilt top the other night, so I’ll be working to finish it off in the next few weeks!
I have a new strategy when making a quilt – make one block first. So many quilt projects start off with hours or days of cutting out pieces. By the time you start sewing, you’re exhausted by the whole thing and maybe you don’t like how the fabrics look together or maybe you can figure out a more efficient way to cut or piece the blocks by doing a test block to start.
Here’s the first block for my Oh My Stars! Quilt by Sheila. I’m using mostly all Lizzy House Constellations fabrics with a few other prints mixed in for good measure. Here’s my stack of fabrics.
My thoughts about this first block? LOVE IT. This quilt won’t be quickly finished, but I’m going to have fun sewing up stars in little batches.
I have never been compelled to base a quilt around a collection of fabric, until now. This collection needs it’s very own quilt. (I have been carrying around a custom iPhone case with the Constellation Fox for well over a year in anticipation of this fabric being released!) Of course the quilt needed to be filled with lots of stars. This is a match made in heaven.
Let’s not talk about the start date of this quilt. (November 2011). Let’s just focus on the fact that it is done and that I finally gave it to my brother for Christmas this year. Wait. But, then I took it back to add the label and just gave it back to him at Easter. Oh boy. But it’s DONE!
Despite the fact that this project has spanned over a year, it was really very quick to make. (If you don’t already have 10 quilts in progress, run a small business, etc etc)
It’s a little bit crazy, but I have 3 more gift quilts in my closet that are beyond overdue. Let’s take care of that this month, shall we?
Coincidentally, my brother told me he has been thinking of getting a hedgehog, so maybe the timing is actually perfect.
Just in time for Spring, I’ve completed my new Learning Curves Table Runner. While I’ve sewn lots of curves in garments with sleeves, patchwork curves can be a bit daunting. This is where quilt master, Johanna Masko, always comes in to save the day. Just filter a new technique, pattern or idea through Johanna and it will come out being more efficient, logical and quick. the workroom is spoiled by her ability to simplify all things patchwork – English Paper Piecing, Machine Paper Foundation Piecing, Cathedral Windows, Double Wedding Ring Quilt, etc, etc.
This table runner is a fun and fast project. With just twenty blocks, I was able to practice my curved piecing enough to feel confident. Following Johanna’s great insight and techniques, I finally understood what to adjust to get those curves pretty perfect.
I love how this quick project can give a new look to our dining room. Note to self : make more patchwork table runners.
Next up, Johanna’s take on the Lone Star quilt. Superstar Quilt class starts tomorrow!
The Wonky Cross is such a fun quilt to make. I started it last year just before Christmas and put the quilt top together in almost one day. I wanted to make a large lap sized quilt and I wanted to use up some of my purple stash that I’d been collecting for a purple quilt. I love every single one of the fabrics in this quilt and it makes me so happy to look at.
You can find a tutorial for this block done by Elizabeth Hartman here. I made my blocks to finish at 12″ square. The one thing that makes this quilt go nice and fast is to have a square ruler! I used the biggest square I had – 12.5″ square. To cut out my initial squares, I just layered 3-4 fat quarters and cut them all at once with the square ruler. Being able to cut out all your quilt pieces in about an hour seems like a miracle to me!
I also did a very simple quilt back. Just two fabrics. What took me the longest was the hand embroidered label. My new strategy for quilt labels is to embroider them onto the quilt back before I do the quilting. This way once the quilt is quilted and bound, it is totally done. (Unlike the two finished quilts I have in my closet that need labels so I can give them away) Hopefully my embroidery skills will improve, but I really love the circular shape that I tried out.
I’m building up my confidence with free motion quilting. The last quilt I did was a small baby quilt. This quilt is about 50″ x 50″. I am still only comfortable with the same square quilting pattern. Luckily, it works with this quilt pattern. I had to do the quilting in two different sessions and next time I’ll try to get through it in one. The second time I sat down to do it, my style and spacing had changed a bit and it took me a few minutes to warm up to remembering the mechanics of the pattern. This is something no one else will ever notice, but I just thought it was interesting to note.
I did end my quilting with a little heart. Eek! Little hidden details like that give me a special thrill.
If you need a quick, fun, low pressure, little precision quilt – this is it! Check out Jacqueline’s Pearl Bracelet Wonky Cross Quilt & Katherine’s Shades of Green Wonky Cross Quilt. Since I finished this quilt top in 2012, it doesn’t count towards my 12 quilt tops in 2013 goal, but I’ve got two quilts in progress to show you next.
Without a doubt one of the best parts of making a quilt is choosing the fabric. What’s even better is if you can just ‘shop your stash’ for the fabrics. I didn’t really understand the importance of having a stash as a quilter when I first started out. All these stacks were made from just what I have at home. They represent a range of time and memories and they are all fabrics that I really like. My fabric purchasing strategy is to buy fat quarters of fabrics that I like. If I like it a lot then I’ll get a half metre. If I think a fabric is amazing, I’ll get between 1-3 metres so that I’ll have enough for a large project or for lots of projects and not have to worry about it running out. I’m also always on the lookout for great neutrals (greys! whites, creams) or background type fabrics – when I find those, I’ll usually get between 2-3 metres.
Let’s take a look at these fabrics stacks.
First up is a stack for an Anna Maria Horner Feather Bed Quilt. This quilt has been on my mental list, but last week I saw Lalu’s version and suddenly it’s at the top of the list. I started a test block on Sunday to see what it would look like. Love it! The background fabric is a Lecien Vintage Paper print that I got recently, knowing it would be amazing as a quilt background fabric.
Next is a stack that is mostly Lizzy House Constellations. I wanted to do a quilt that would showcase Constellations. I feel particularly sentimental about this collection. I have lots of wonderful memories of seeing this collection emerge from our visit to Salt Lake City and a year’s worth of Skype dates with Lizzy. I searched around for ages and finally found Sheila’s Oh My Stars! Quilt pattern. I love the layout and I’m looking forward to making this quilt and spending time with these fabrics that I adore so much.
The Hand Pieced Star Sampler class is coming up and these are my choices for the class. I’ve wanted to do a quilt with red for a while and I’ve also got lots of star fabrics that I’ve been collecting. I used the red & navy plaid as my inspiration for these fabric selections.
Superstar Quilt is Johanna’s version of the Lone Star. My idea for this quilt is peach and grey. I wanted to use some of my favourite prints from the new Architextures line. The pieces in this quilt are larger, so it’s the perfect place to showcase fun prints.
The last stack is for the Learning Curves Table Runner class. I’ve picked out fabrics to make two different runners. I plan on getting really good at doing curves!
I started a list in ‘My Crafty List of Things to Do‘ for my ’12 Quilt Tops in 2013′ goal (scroll to the bottom of the page). I’ve got fabric here for four, so I’m off to a good start!