Tell-Tale Traits of a Primitive Quilt

Tell-Tale Traits of a Primitive Quilt

As I step further into the world of sewing, I find that there’s plenty of information out there that I didn’t even know to look for. My primary focus in sewing has been patchwork designs, and I definitely continue to hold a passion in regard to that style of work. I’d love to have a patchwork purse, patchwork clothing, patchwork pillows…

My primary focus in sewing has been patchwork designs, & I definitely continue to hold a passion in regard to that style of work.

My primary focus in sewing has been patchwork designs, & I definitely continue to hold a passion in regard to that style of work.

But I’m not sure I fully realized how many other avenues there are to plan out a quilt before I started looking, and those are details that can be interesting finds! Some of them, though, require a bit of an explanation to truly understand what a quilt of that nature is, and this post will explore one of those types in particular.

Once upon a time

I was in a social media marketing program where, for two of the classes, I had to keep a blog for a business. For one course, I used my author career as the business. For the other, I created a could-someday-be-real quilt company. It was fine, by the way, for the company to not actually be real in the current world!

The idea was that we were to explore marketing concepts through the blog and end up with a marketing plan — at least generally — by the end of the semester. During that quilt-company semester, I came across the idea of a primitive quilt, which was a fairly new phrase to me. At the time, I focused mostly on the social media presence of one particular company, but I find myself now thinking on what exactly a primitive quilt is.

During that quilt-company semester, I came across the idea of a primitive quilt, which was a fairly new phrase to me.

During that quilt-company semester, I came across the idea of a primitive quilt, which was a fairly new phrase to me.

If I claim to be quilter, after all, it might help to know the basic terminology!

After research and consideration of a number of quilts with the label of “primitive,” I offer you a number of details that help to make a primitive quilt… Well, primitive! Note: These are commonalities — not necessarily requirements through and through!

A primitive quilt will make use of neutral colors, though things like dark red & dark blue can make appearances.

A primitive quilt will make use of neutral colors, though things like dark red & dark blue can make appearances.

Basic Coloring

By this, I don’t mean a color-equivalent to no-artificial-flavoring! I mean that the colors are typically more straightforward than neon oranges and vivid pinks. Instead, a primitive quilt will make use of neutral colors, though things like dark red and dark blue can make appearances. These quilts often employ the colors that you might think of when words like “rustic” come to mind — which rationalizes why red and blue are used in regard to red barns and blue skies. In the end, if you plan on making a primitive quilt, you might want to keep the lime green fabric stored away for another project!

Simple Fabric Patterns

Like the coloring, the fabrics, too, are less elaborate than what might be common for a more vividly styled work. Typically, patterns — rather than fabrics — steal the focus in primitive quilts, so no fabric should be so busy or stand-out that it takes attention above and beyond the level of the quilt pattern as a whole. For this, solid colors or very simple patterns on your fabric are your best bet for forming your primitive quilt.

Basic Shapes

Don’t fancy it up!

Don’t fancy it up!

While the overall quilt might have a remarkably interesting visual in regard to its structure, the pieces of fabric that make up that visual are often based on the simplest of designs, like triangles, squares, and rectangles. This doesn’t mean that only geometric shapes can be used for your quilt though! Other shapes can come into play, but make sure to keep them simple to provide that outdated appearance that’s so synonymous with the rustic, primitive design. Think to yourself what the simplest method of delivering an object or shape is — don’t fancy it up!—and you could have the right look!

Empty space

The patterns for primitive quilts are structured, but those empty spaces between the distinct pattern formations can be just as organized. Now, this isn’t necessarily the case for every quilt! It’s not unheard of though for darker, geometric patterns of multiple fabrics to be separated by pieces of lighter fabric that are larger than any individual dark piece. It creates an overall repetition to the quilt, and the result is an almost soothing effect in that the contrast softens the appearance to something calming and steady. As I said, this tactic might be more pronounced in some primitive quilts than others, but don’t be shocked if you notice it fairly often for quilts of this style.

Geometric patterns of multiple fabrics to be separated by pieces of lighter fabric that are larger than any individual dark piece.

Geometric patterns of multiple fabrics to be separated by pieces of lighter fabric that are larger than any individual dark piece.

If you keep these things in mind, you’re on your way to planning a primitive quilt!


References:
Alcorn, J. (2014, September 10). What Is Primitive Home Decor? Retrieved from: https://www.primitivestarquiltshop.com/blogs/quilt-shop-gathering-place/24406593-what-is-primitive-home-decor
Craftsy. (2017, April 24). Can You Spot a Primitive Quilt? Retrieved from https://www.craftsy.com/blog/2017/04/primitive-fabric/
Crazy Patch Butterfly Applique Blocks

Crazy Patch Butterfly Applique Blocks

These crazy patch butterfly blocks happened by accident.

These crazy patch butterfly blocks happened by accident.

These crazy patch butterfly blocks happened by accident.

The last time I made a crazy patch quilt, I wound up with two extra blocks. I have no intention of collecting UFO blocks, but I’m not inclined to throw my handiwork away. So I stared at them a while, trying to think of something to make from these extra blocks.

Something told me to cut them into triangles, so I did, still not knowing what I’d do with them. I played with the triangle pieces for a few minutes, and this design idea came to me. I think it’s a good one.

You could make a bunch of these for a quilt, a few for a table or bed runner, feature one in a sampler quilt, or just make one for a small project.

I plan to use one of these to make an oversized pocket on a skirt. And I’ll show you what I’m going to do with the other one next week, so stay tuned.

Here are the steps to make these:

Crazy Patch Butterfly Blocks

For each block, you will need:

  • Background rectangle or square
  • Muslin square
  • Assorted small scraps

Step one: make the crazy patchwork

You could make these crazy patch butterfly blocks any size, but my examples started with a six inch square. Take your muslin square and arrange a several sided scrap somewhere near the middle of the square.  Choose another scrap with one side at least as long as one side of the first fabric, and place it right side down atop the first.  Sew along this seam, flip the second fabric down where the right side faces up, then press.  Repeat this process, gradually adding scraps, until the square is fully covered by your assorted scraps.

Then, place the block right side down on your cutting mat and use your rotary cutter and ruler to trim the fabric scrap from the edges of the muslin square.

I made one on video so you can see exactly how to do this step:

I should mention that traditional crazy patchwork also incorporates embroidery stitches over the seam lines. If you have a machine that does decorative stitching, then you can sew a line of decorative stitches along the seam after you add each new scrap to your crazy square. You don’t want to wait until the end, since these scraps go every which way.

Step two: cut triangles

Now lay the crazy patchwork square right side up on your cutting board. Use your ruler and rotary cutter to cut it in half diagonally, then move your ruler and cut diagonally the other way, to end up with four quarter square triangles. You could use scissors if you don’t have a rotary cutter, but if you want to make patchwork, you really want to get a rotary cutter and cutting mat.

Step three: appliqué

Here’s how to arrange the triangles to construct these crazy patch butterfly blocks. Place the top pair of wings with points together and the ninety degree angles at the outside bottom corners. Then angle the bottom wing pieces with the longest edges on the inside and the ninety degree angles pointing out.

Crazy patch butterfly block.

Crazy patch butterfly block.

Pin these to your backing square and appliqué using a satin stitch. I made these using a rectangular backing cut at nine and a quarter by eleven and a half inches.

If you will be using these for a small project rather than a quilt, there is an alternative way to hold your pieces in place rather than using pins. You could use double-sided fusible web. You would affix this to the back of your appliqué pieces and then remove the paper backing and affix the other side to the backing rectangle.

This makes appliqué really easy, but I don’t recommend using it for quilts, because it will be crinkly inside the appliqué. If you are making a wall quilt or other small decorative project, it is an easy choice.

Bust out the scraps

After you appliqué the crazy patch butterfly wings, then use corduroy or another scrap fabric to cut a long, tapered oval for the caterpillar body. Applique this in the middle, to cover the intersecting wings.

My son just pointed out that I forgot to add antennae to mine. If you’d like to add antennae, you can do this using hand or machine embroidery. Or you can use Debbie Mumm’s easy idea that she calls pen-stitch embroidery. That is, you can draw them with a fine tipped Sharpie or other permanent pen.

Here is one that I quilted the background using using tight free-motion quilting.

Crazy patch butterfly block quilted.

Crazy patch butterfly block quilted.

As you can see, these crazy patch butterfly blocks are super easy to make. They’d be cute on a baby, wall, or bed quilt. Or you could feature just one on an apron or skirt.

What will you make with these crazy patch butterfly blocks?

What’s In Style for Spring Sewing?

What’s In Style for Spring Sewing?

Spring sewing for your wardrobe is one of the best ways to chase away the end of winter woes.

What’s in style and on trend? What should you sew for this year?

What's In Style pin

Spring sewing: what’s still in style

There a few trends that popped up last year that we saw again this year on Spring runways, namely:

Lingerie-inspired fashions

Romantic and baby doll style lingerie continues to be a fashionable influence, with nightgown style dresses, both short and long, and even pajama styles being featured by many designers this year.

New this year to this category are wraps and dresses that mimic menswear-style silk robes.

Paper bag waists

These came back last year and we are still seeing them now. Luckily for us, they are easy to sew, especially for elastic waist skirts and pants. Just fold over the top of your garment an inch or more farther than you would normally fold over for an elastic casing, sew a line of stitching slightly lower than the fold to create the casing, insert your elastic, and voila.

Or sew a paper bag neck; higher necklines are on trend this year, too.

Or sew a paper bag neck; higher necklines are on trend this year, too.

Metallic shimmer and shine

Metallics started popping up everywhere last year, and these are still in now. You can sew most any garment in a lamé or other metallic fabric now.

Gold lamé? More like gold fabulous!

Gold lamé? More like gold fabulous!

Midi lengths

The flattering midi-length skirt is still where it’s at this year. We also see midi length cropped pants and jumpsuits cut to this length now.

The flattering midi-length skirt is still where it’s at this year.

The flattering midi-length skirt is still where it’s at this year.

Pleats

Last year we saw these primarily as small, accordion style pleats. This year, these are still in style. But so are pleats of slightly wider widths.

Plaids

Where large plaids were the rage last year, this year the trend is toward smaller plaids. You’ll also see a mixing and matching of similar plaids in differing scales worn together.

Forget the large plaids; small plaids are where it's at this year.

Forget the large plaids; small plaids are where it’s at this year.

Florals

Florals are usually everywhere in Spring. This year, they are trending a few different ways. Designers continued last year’s trend of using small scale florals in romantic, feminine style, though they’ve sometimes paired them with edgier pieces. The small scale romantic florals are particularly popular for jumpsuits now.

Larger, 70’s style florals are also popping up all over this year.

Larger, 70’s style florals are also popping up all over this year.

Ruffles

Large and wide ruffles continue to trend this year. Use these on blouses, skirts, and dresses.

Stripes

Stripes were featured widely last year, and they are still big. We saw stripes on Spring runways this year in different ways. Vertical stripes in navy or black and white are in, and so are colorful, wide horizontal rugby stripes.  Pinstripes also featured widely in men’s shirt style dresses.

Use black & white stripes vertically this year.

Use black & white stripes vertically this year.

What’s New for Spring sewing 2017

Embroidery and embellishments everywhere

You can put your embroidery machine and embellishment software to good use in your Spring wardrobe now.

You can embroider any garment this year.

You can embroider any garment this year.

We saw embroidered motifs here and there last year, but it is more widely featured this year. Designers paired embroidered vests with embroidered pants and emblazoned dresses and blouses with heavy embroidery. Handbags especially were covered with embroidery designs this year.

Bags, blouses, dresses, jackets, and pants also saw lots of beading and sequins in designers’ Spring collections. From beaded and sequin designs such as florals to covered sleeves, embellishments are on trend.

Bold prints

Besides the kitschy 70’s style florals already mentioned here, other 70’s style prints are in. Also make use of graphic geometric prints this year, especially large scale prints.

Higher necklines

Mock turtlenecks are in, even on bathing suits. Boatneck styles are cut higher than usual, too, right at the neckline.  For necklines cut a bit lower, designers paired these with silk scarves wrapped tightly around the neck, to imitate the turtleneck style.

Pair dresses with less coverage, such as spaghetti straps, with higher necked tops worn underneath.

Shoulders out

There are also plenty of shoulder-baring styles this year. Off the shoulder cuts are popular, especially for peasant blouses and dresses.

Off the shoulder peasant top.

Off the shoulder peasant top.

Hopefully you still have the patterns you bought in 2011, because one shouldered designs are in again. One sleeved styles are trending, too.

A-line mini skirts

Cut these on the bias. A-line minis are my absolute favorite skirts to sew; I’ll share how to draft your own pattern for a perfectly fitting bias skirt here on the blog soon .

Sheers

Sheer skirts over leotard style tops. Even sheer hoodies!

Sheers and cutouts are big this year, along with higher necklines.

Sheers and cutouts are big this year, along with higher necklines.

Glam

In tribute to David Bowie, 80’s style glam is trending now, especially with puffed-at-the shoulder sleeves and wide ruffles.

Flared hems

Both ankle flare pants hems and bell sleeved blouses are in style now.

Flared bell sleeves on a one-shouldered design.

Flared bell sleeves on a one-shouldered design.

Jumpsuits

Here is another major way what was hot in 2011 is back again today. Jumpsuits are big now, in all lengths, particularly wide legged midi styles, in floral prints.

Patchwork

Runways this year featured patchwork dresses of all kinds. From a mix of solids reminiscent of Amish quilts, to patchworks of patterns and florals, any kind of patchwork can work in your Spring sewing and wardrobe this year.

Feathery fringe

Feathery fringe is everywhere now, from necklines and sleeves to bags, even dresses covered in tiers of brightly colored feathered fringe.

Feathery trim.

Feathery trim.

BIG bags

While smaller handbags with heavy embroidery are in style, super XL bags are all the rage.

Spring sewing: color trends

Spring sewing: color trends

Besides the florals, bold patterns, and stripes trends already discussed, here are the color trends for this season:

  • Khaki – it’s everywhere
  • Pinks – pale pinks, mauves, raspberry
  • Blue – all shades of blue, especially several different blues worn together
  • Neutrals – these are featured more often than usual this year
  • Gold – metallics are hot in general, but especially gold
  • Yellow – while orange was hot last year, yellow seems to be the it color this year
  • Neons – these bright colors are coming back again now
Yellow & blue are both hot colors now.

Yellow & blue are both hot colors now.

I’m excited that patchwork and embroidery are trending now, and I’ll be adding more of these pieces to my closet. On the other hand, in style or not, you’ll never see me wearing yellow, gold, or feathery fringe!

Which of these styles are you excited to sew for your wardrobe now and which trends would you rather skip?

How to Sew a Luck O’ the Irish Flag Quilt for Your Wall

VIDEO: How to Sew a Luck O’ the Irish Flag Quilt for Your Wall

Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day or your heritage with an Irish flag quilt

Luck O' the Irish PIN

We always celebrate St. Patrick’s Day around my house because my dear is a bit obsessed with Ireland. He claims to be Irish, although his parents say his heritage is mostly English and Scottish. I guess he’s just Irish at heart.

So one year I decided to surprise him with a St Patrick’s Day present and I designed this Irish flag quilt for him. He loved it so much that he rearranged all the other décor in his man cave to give it a place of honor on the wall.

Of course the flag of Ireland does not feature a four-leaf clover, but I thought it would be a nice addition to the design.

Here’s how you can make an Irish flag quilt featuring a four-leaf clover for your wall or table, too.

Luck O’ the Irish flag quilt how-to

You will need:

  • Assorted green and orange quilter’s cotton scraps
  • White quilter’s cotton
  • Muslin
  • Green, white and orange bias binding, grosgrain or fabric to make binding
  • Green felt
  • White, green, and orange thread

Please note that this Irish flag quilt is designed to be the same ratio as the official flag of Ireland. So for an authentic look, use these exact dimensions when making this project.

Sew the patchwork sections

For the green and orange sections of this Irish flag quilt, you will need seven strips of muslin 2.5” x 20.5” per section. For the white section, you can do as I did and cut seven strips of white and off white quilter’s cotton, or you can do as I wish I’d done and simply cut one large rectangle 14.5” x 20.5”.

To make the patchwork strips, take one of the long muslin strips and lay a colored scrap right side up at the top of the strip. Then, take another scrap and place it right side down directly on top of the first scrap. Sew a quarter inch seam at the bottom, flip the second fabric down to face right side up, and press. Then repeat, placing the next scrap right side down atop the second, sewing across the bottom, turning, and pressing. Repeat until you reach the end of the strip. Place them right sides down and trim, then set aside.

Here’s a video of me showing how to do this step:

Complete seven green patchwork strips and join these together using quarter inch seams.

Then complete seven orange patchwork strips and join these in the same way.

For the middle section, I went with a patchwork of alternating white and off-white print strips. But I wish I had instead used a single piece of a plain white fabric or a white-on-white print. I think this would show off the echo quilting better. You could choose to do either.

Applique the four-leaf clover

I experimented with constructing the four-leaf clover from a patchwork of fabrics, but I decided it looked better done in a single color of green.

Make the clover from two pieces of green felt. Cut two leaves connected in the middle from each piece. You can freehand your design or you can print mine if you’d rather.

Download: Clover PDF pattern

For the stem, cut a long rectangle 9” x ½”

Layer the top end of the stem at the bottom with the two clover pieces crossed over each other on top of the stem in the middle of your white section. Pin in place and then stitch down. If you use felt, as I did, then you can use a straight stitch. If you use a green quilter’s cotton, you will want to appliqué this with a satin stitch.

Quilting

Because we are going to be using three colors of binding for this Irish flag quilt, we are going to quilt each section separately. Construct three “quilt sandwiches” by layering each section’s top over a piece of batting and then a piece of backing muslin. Make the batting and backing slightly larger all around than the top pieces.  Then pin.

For the orange and green sections, I quilted along the seams using a satin stitch. Satin stitch is just a zig zag with a wide width and a short length. I set my machine to a 3.0 width and a .5 length. This gives extra interest to this small quilt. Use green thread for the green section and orange thread for quilting the orange patchwork.

For the white section, we’ll do the quilting differently. Use white thread and echo the shape of the clover all around. Start close to the design and then make larger outlines. After you have gone around the shape a few times, you will start to run out of fabric on the edges of the design. Just pretend that you didn’t and pick back up on the fabric as the design continues around.

Triangles for hanging

Here is an easy method to prepare small quilts like this for hanging on a wall.

Cut two 4” squares from muslin and press them in half diagonally to make triangles.

Place one triangle on the back outer top corner of the green patchwork section with the raw edges aligned. Sew with a scant eighth inch seam along the top and side edges to attach.

Then do the same with the other triangle on the back upper outside corner of the orange patchwork section.

Once the quilt is assembled, you can insert a dowel into these triangles to hang the quilt flat on the wall.

Binding

We are going to bind each section separately so that we can use different colors of binding for each section. You will bind three sides of the green and orange sections and just the top and bottom of the white section.

When I made mine, I discovered at the last minute that I didn’t have any green binding. I’m all about using what I have, and I had plenty of green grosgrain ribbon, so I used this for the first time as quilt binding and it worked fine. If you have neither bias or grosgrain ribbon, make your own binding strips from fabric.

Sew the green binding continuously along the bottom, left side, and top of the green patchwork section. Sew the orange binding along the top, right side, and bottom of the orange patchwork section. Then sew two pieces of white binding on the white section, one along the top and another along the bottom.

Put it all together

Now sew the green section to the left side of the white section and the orange section to the right side of the white.

Now hang it on your wall.

Now hang it on your wall.

I used my serger to finish these seams neatly on the back.

If you don’t have a serger, you could use an overcast foot to neaten the back seams, or you could encase them in a bit of narrow binding.

Or you could decide that since it is the back of the quilt no one is looking and leave the seams raw if you want to.

The serger really makes them look nicely finished though, and if you don’t have a serger, I suggest you think about getting one. A serger can quickly boost your sewing to pro level.

Cut a dowel to 41” and pop it in the triangles on the back of your Irish flag quilt. Now hang it on your wall.

I hope you have fun making this project and that your Irish flag quilt blesses you with good luck!

How to Sew Valentines: 33 Project Ideas to Show Your Loved Ones How Much You Care

How to Sew Valentines: 33 Project Ideas to Show Your Loved Ones How Much You Care

Sew valentines this year

I challenge you to sew valentines this year to show your love.

I challenge you to sew valentines this year to show your love.

I challenge you to sew valentines this year to show your love. Anyone can buy trinkets, but making something with love infuses more meaning into even simple gifts. Heartfelt gifts don’t need to be elaborate to mean a great deal.

From simple sewn hearts to labor of love quilts, the web is full of fun ideas that you could use to sew valentines this year. You can make a little something for every person you love. And there is nothing wrong with sharing a little love with people you just like, too. From your sweetheart to your grandma to your neighbor or teacher, everyone who you bless with a handmade gift will appreciate that you spent time making something just for them.

Sew valentines: my simple ideas

I’ll start by sharing three simple ideas of my own that I’m using this year to sew valentines for my family and friends, including an easy way to add a homemade touch to candy I’ll pick up at the store.

Felt or fleece hearts

These couldn’t be simpler to make. Just draw a heart pattern on paper, cut out, and pin to two layers of fleece or felt. Cut these out, then sew them with right sides together, leaving an opening for turning. Stuff, and then sew the opening closed. I’m stuffing them with dried lavender flowers to make simple sachets for my friends. I once made a pair of these and filled them with baking soda to stuff in my gym shoes, and this worked well to eliminate odor. You could also use lentils and make a set of heart bean bags for a game for your kids.

You could also use lentils & make a set of heart bean bags for a game for your kids.

You could also use lentils & make a set of heart bean bags for a game for your kids.

Valentine novelty fabric pillowcases

There is nothing easier to make from a yard of cute fabric than a pillowcase. To make one, hem across one long side. Then fold the fabric widthwise, with right sides together, and sew or serge the other two sides. Turn right side out. That’s it! Of course, you can dress these up with decorative trim. But choose a cute enough fabric and there’s no need to dress it up further.

Attach trim after hemming, before sewing together.

Attach trim after hemming, before sewing together.

Simple gift bags

Use the pillowcase instructions above in miniature form to create simple gift bags to fill with chocolates or other candy from the store. Or for children, include dollar store trinkets such as small toys. Tie with a ribbon. You could amend the directions slightly to make drawstring bags instead.

Use the pillowcase instructions above in miniature form to create simple gift bags.

Use the pillowcase instructions above in miniature form to create simple gift bags.

I’ll also be making some projects that I have collected from all over the web. Follow these links to find the perfect projects to sew valentines for everyone that you love:

Sew valentines: more easy ideas

I might make one for myself!

I might make one for myself!

  • Fabric Heart Bookmarks: Here is another project so easy that you can whip up several in mere minutes. This is the kind of sweet gift that most anyone could use. I might make one for myself!
  • Felt Heart Ornament and Garland: I plan to make a couple of these ornaments to share as gifts, and the garland for my house.
  • Warm Heart Coffee Cozy: Here is another simple idea that makes a nice gift for most anyone.
Warm heart coffee cozy.

Warm heart coffee cozy.

Sew valentines: cards

Here’s how to incorporate your love for sewing by hand while making paper cards.

Here’s how to incorporate your love for sewing by hand while making paper cards.

Sew valentines: a game and a toy

There are lots of ideas for softies to sew, but none are as cute as this sweetie.

There are lots of ideas for softies to sew, but none are as cute as this sweetie.

Sew valentines: bags and purses

This change purse includes a key ring.

This change purse includes a key ring.

Sew valentines: pillows

This pattern features reverse appliqué.

This pattern features reverse appliqué.

Sew valentines: quilts

Valentine quilt roundup.

Valentine quilt roundup.

Whichever projects you choose, I hope you have a happy Valentine’s Day!

Tree Skirts and Fabric Blocks

Tree Skirts and Fabric Blocks

I’ve had planned indoor picnics with my nieces for the sake of Valentine’s Day and Halloween.

I’ve had planned indoor picnics with my nieces for the sake of Valentine’s Day and Halloween.

Christmas is even closer than it was when my last blog about homemade, sewn gifts was posted, so it seems fitting to keep with the holiday vibe! Whether or not I mentioned this earlier, I’m a fan of holidays to the point that I’ve had planned indoor picnics with my nieces for the sake of Valentine’s Day and Halloween, so don’t be too surprised if you see a good number of holiday topics when the big ones roll around!

I’ve been browsing online to try and find an interesting Christmas project to check out, and I came across a concept that is really fitting this season: a tree skirt. You see, we have one, but we changed Christmas stockings this year. The new ones aren’t the best of matches to the old tree skirt, so we’re currently going tree-skirt-less for the sake of coordination. Basically, the idea of constructing a tree skirt is a logical notion for a Christmas project this year!

Let’s decorate!

I just use pieces of material one piece per section.

I’ve come across more than one option including a fancy scalloped one that caught my eye, but being the patchwork girl that I am, I was more drawn to a patchwork-looking design. As easy as the overall pattern might seem to some, the idea of creating my own blocks with multiple patterns is a bit daunting to me. Usually, I just use pieces of material—one piece per section—and I don’t know that I’ve ever tried to piece together my own block. For that reason, it seems reasonable to do some research before potentially diving into the process. As I’ve said before, doing research can make a sewing process smoother, and should I try this, I want it to go smoothly!

And maybe certain readers are in the same boat with me on this one—interested in moving into elaborate blocks, but unskilled in the technique. If so, keep reading! I’m going to hand over some general ideas that I’ve found that could help with the process!

Where to start…

Tip #1: Press your material! This is a simple step, though one that can easily go overlooked. Even if you want to just jump into constructing your project, taking the time to level out the fabric you’ll use can help in making sure things line up as they should. So before you sew the first stitch, break out that iron!

Pressing is also something to keep in mind during the process when you sew fabric together. If you connect two blocks of fabric, press that seam! As you connect more material, your blocks will be less likely to have random bumps or puffy spots because the act of pressing as you go will ideally have smoothed out troublesome areas before additional pieces get locked in. That kind of consistency—no puffiness where it shouldn’t be—can create uniformity. You can even get pressing sprays to help solidify the effect!

Around the block

Tip #2: Learn the basics of block patterns! Are you planning a four patch product? Nine patch? It helps to think about those concepts before you start piecing your product so you can plan the design and get an idea of how you’re going to structure your work. This might be particularly true if you’re planning a five patch product since basic mathematics will let you know that such a pattern does not divide evenly by two! There’s a technique for each of these blocks, and being aware of those techniques can help you through the process. You can find out more about those pattern options here.

Crazy square block.

Crazy square block.

Once you get comfortable with the more traditional and beginner-friendly possibilities, maybe you can work your way into something less typical, like a “Crazy square block” of material.

Color theory

The color wheel.

The color wheel.

Tip #3: Get to know your color options! One site recommends the use of the color wheel, and I think this strategy might be a good one. While aesthetics might be subjective, decisions on color are still something to take seriously before you begin stitching. This, I think, could be particularly true when you’re creating your own block from a series of fabrics. Instead of just having 50 or so segments of color on one product—one per block—you could end up with various colors per block, which leads into a whole lot of color-consideration territory!

If you want to go with a cool tone, for instance, how easily could you do a nine patch product with different variations of color per block—one for greens, one for blues… That example is a perfect illustration of why knowing your colors could be so important. If you don’t know too many shades of cool colors, you might not have the background knowledge that would help you create the cool color, nine patch work. Basically, if you want a cohesive final product of multiple fabrics per block, think about those colors while you consider your fabrics!

Measure twice, cut once

Tip #4: Be exact with your measurements! This one might be a bit obvious—or really obvious—but it’s worth noting. Not only should you make sure your blocks are consistent in size for the best possibility of a final product, but you should make sure the individual sections of the block are measured accurately. Doing so could keep embarrassing things from happening—like running out of fabric in your squares before you get to the end of a block or having excess. Either mistake could lead to the overall product looking off because every block wouldn’t have the same mistakes. If you want uniformity throughout, measure!

Even if Christmas is too close for this concept to result in a 2016 tree skirt, this is still something I can keep in mind for next year. In fact, new goal!

~ Make a home-sewn tree skirt. ~

I wonder if 2017 – me will hate all of these goals I’m tossing her way? If so, maybe she can appreciate it if there’s a by-hand product decorating the bottom of the tree next year!

Inspiring Christmas Tree Patchwork Projects

Inspiring Christmas Tree Patchwork Projects

Christmas Tree Patchwork is interesting because there are so many different ways to make trees. They can be made using simple or more elaborate designs and can be laid out in many different ways. I’ve scoured the internet to collect all the best blocks and designs for many different ways to make a holiday or Yuletide tree or trees using patchwork. Let these designs inspire you to create something new this year for your home or a gift.  This collection includes:

  • Easy Christmas Tree Patchwork Blocks
  • Single Tree Quilt Designs
  • Abstract Christmas Tree Patchwork
  • Modern Tree Quilt Designs
  • Other Christmas Tree Patchwork Projects

 Easy Christmas Tree Patchwork Blocks

Photo credits: Diary of a Quilter (top left); Happy Quilting Melissa (top right); ChezStitches (bottom left); Ellison Lane (bottom right).

Photo credits: Diary of a Quilter (top left); Happy Quilting Melissa (top right); ChezStitches (bottom left); Ellison Lane (bottom right).

These patterns and design ideas use different ideas to construct the tree blocks, but they all produce quilts with a whole lot or forest of trees. Every one of these designs is easy to piece and quilt.

Patchwork Forest by Amy Smart at Diary of a Quilter is my choice for the holiday quilt to make this year. I just love this easy design and the quirky trees that are not all the same.

These crazy patch trees are arranged into the shape of a larger tree for a different arrangement of the many trees theme.

This Easy Christmas Tree Patchwork Block Tutorial at ChezStitches shows a totally different but equally easy way to piece trees, using mirrored triangles joined back to back.

This way to make strip pieced trees adds more fabric variety within each tree. You can play with this to achieve bedecking and bedazzlement and simulate trimmed trees.

Single Patchwork Christmas Tree Quilts

These quilt designs feature a single tree.

Photo Credits: Quilting at About.com (top left); Treasures-n-Textures (top right); Material Girl Quilts (middle left); Hoffman Fabrics (middle right); McCall's Quilting (bottom left); Waterwheel House Quilt Shop (bottom right).

Photo Credits: Quilting at About.com (top left); Treasures-n-Textures (top right); Material Girl Quilts (middle left); Hoffman Fabrics (middle right); McCall’s Quilting (bottom left); Waterwheel House Quilt Shop (bottom right).

This tutorial for a single Christmas Tree Patchwork design is as easy as it gets.

I’m inspired by this Emma’s Tree design to use reds and gold squares for twinkle and tree trim when following the About.com pattern above.

Here is a different single Christmas Tree Patchwork design constructed from triangles. I love the metallics for the background fabrics on this, and the easy quilting of the individual triangles.

Here’s another triangle Christmas Tree Patchwork, this one built from equilateral triangles, at Hoffman Fabrics.

O Tannenbaum is Christmas Tree Patchwork made from Log Cabin style blocks. This free miniature quilt pattern from McCall’s includes a star on top and presents underneath the tree.

This design, suggested by Moose Creek  Quilting, can serve in lieu of a real or artificial tree. The pattern includes sewing 25 red buttons to hang tiny patchwork or other ornaments you sew yourself. I love this version of this pattern that was made by Waterwheel House Quilting Studio using Kaffe Fassett fabrics.

Abstract and Modern Christmas Tree Patchwork Quilts

These designs are a little different, reflecting a more modern or abstract feel.

Photo credits: May Chappell (top left); Jacey Craft (top right); Ann Kelle (bottom left); Moda Bakeshop (bottom right).

Photo credits: May Chappell (top left); Jacey Craft (top right); Ann Kelle (bottom left); Moda Bakeshop (bottom right).

This Mod Tree Wall Hanging by May Chappell makes me think of a Christmas Tree farm.

Another design with a tree farm vibe is Happy Trees Mini Quilt. Jacey named this one Happy Trees because it reminds her of dear Bob Ross and his “happy little trees.”

This modern Christmas Tree Patchwork quilt by Ann Kelle shows another kind of happy trees, this time with colorful, trimmed trees in an abstract triangle design.

The Oh, Christmas Tree Quilt by Amy Rivera for Moda Bakeshop is a completely different take on Christmas tree patchwork. It looks sophisticated but is easy to pull off. This quilt is extra fun because it calls for a charm pack to use for the colorful patchwork strips.

Other Christmas Tree Patchwork Projects

Patchwork Tree Skirt

Every quilter needs a patchwork tree skirt. If you haven’t made yours yet, check out this full step-by-step video tutorial from the fat quarter shop. This beautiful tree skirt is made from a jelly roll of fabrics.

Here are the rulers needed for this tree skirt project.

Photo credits: A Quilting Life, top; She Can Quilt, bottom.

Photo credits: A Quilting Life, top; She Can Quilt, bottom.

Christmas Tree Patchwork Pillow

I love the border and construction of this pillow that uses still another Christmas Tree Patchwork design. You could make a forest of trees using this design and turn it into another quilt, if you wanted to. But I think a pretty patchwork pillow is a lovely bit of holiday cheer for any sofa or chair.

Christmas Tree Patchwork Ornaments

These Christmas Tree Patchwork ornaments are a super small project. Makea bunch of these for your tree, or they will make precious present toppers. You could tie one on to dress up gifts you give this year. I love this project because it uses such tiny scraps.

I hope these Christmas Tree Patchwork projects have inspired you and that you’ll make one patchwork tree or many this holiday season. Which one of these fun designs do you like the best?

Pojagi - The Art Form of Korean Quilting

Pojagi – The Art Form of Korean Quilting

I have always had a fascination with brightly colored things. The beauty of the sun shining through the trees, through the clouds, and even through the window gives such a warm feeling and the appreciation of nature and our surroundings. I especially love the beauty of stained glass windows in the ancient churches and buildings in Germany and Italy. The sun shining through the color seemed to draw me into the grace of the house built so long ago and so carefully maintained as to not disrupt the aura it was intended to project.

One time, not so long ago, I was intrigued by some pictures that were like stained glass, but made with mostly irregular blocks and random shapes of fabric.

Pojagi

Sometimes referred to as “Bojagi”, this is a highly improvisational project to do what you feel!

Sometimes referred to as “Bojagi”, this is a highly improvisational project to do what you feel!

Light can be seen through the block which shows outlines of the seams around them, as well as diffused color of the fabric in each block. The interesting part is some were made with one color or neutral colors, and as I researched, I found many others were pleasing to the eye with multiple colors.

The art form I was seeing was called “Pojagi”, which was started about 2000 years ago in Ancient Korea. Pojagi was made by hand stitching fabrics like ramie (which is similar to hemp or (linen), cotton, and silk formed into 14” squares to wrap and carry things. Even today, it is said the Korean parliament uses Pojagi to transport documents.

Tools of the trade

Women took old clothes and repurposed them into these wrapping cloths. It was a highly creative way to do improvisational designs from old clothes, scraps, and multiple fabrics, using only what was available to them. They would turn down the fabric from the top ¼ inch and crease it with a Clover Hera Tool.

I was interested to learn that a Hera tool was a sharp piece of hard plastic, that when pressed on fabric, makes a visible crease on both front and back of the fabric. How convenient would that be rather than measuring with a ruler and ironing that edge?

The left side is machine stitched with an Overcast stitch. The right side is hand stitched. Both have no raw edges showing on either side.

The left side is machine stitched with an Overcast stitch. The right side is hand stitched. Both have no raw edges showing on either side.

This example is a “work in progress” of mine. I started making panels to cover a closet opening, and quickly decided I needed more fabric than I have. So it is one more thing I have on my project list to complete.

This example is a “work in progress” of mine. I started making panels to cover a closet opening, and quickly decided I needed more fabric than I have. So it is one more thing I have on my project list to complete.

When the crease was made all the way across the fabric piece, the top is picked up folded inward and hand stitched. Then hand-stitching is done along that fold. From the side, the seam is folded down toward each other. The result is what we call “Flat Fell Seams”. The best way to describe them is they are a row of 2 seams with no fraying edges, finished both inside and outside. (Like the seams on your jeans!)

Although it was used by all economic classes in Korean history, Pojagi had categories based on the fabric and who the recipient of the cloth would be. For instance, a princess would receive a lined Pojagi possibly made with silk, where as a commoner may be something coarser like ramie or hemp. They were called different names by type as well.

Modern use

This is a portion of my closet screen hung in the window. I love that you can see the flat fell seams like outlines around the fabric, and the soft colors showing the fiber. There is lace behind that panel so it is makes it interesting!

This is a portion of my closet screen hung in the window. I love that you can see the flat fell seams like outlines around the fabric, and the soft colors showing the fiber. There is lace behind that panel so it is makes it interesting!

Today, pojagi is used as screens, curtains, wall hangings, or sometimes fabric sewn on top of each other, irregular shapes and sizes, even repurposed clothing. Pojagi is a great improv project to do whatever design appeals to you.

No measuring and using scraps, even sometimes fabric sewn on top of each other, irregular shapes and sizes, pojagi truly brings out your creativity.

No measuring and using scraps, even sometimes fabric sewn on top of each other, irregular shapes and sizes, pojagi truly brings out your creativity. It takes time to sew by hand, however, sewing by machine made me feel that I was cheating myself of the real Korean experience. I did complete this one panel for my closet, however. It is lined at the back with cotton duck type material for strength.

I hope you will be inspired to research this unusual art form and make a square or two. You may decide the freedom of expression is something you were missing all along.

I would love to hear your comments or see your designs in Pogaji!