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?

Basics of Quilt Maintenance

Basics of Quilt Maintenance

Maintenance. It can be a big deal in home, car and… quilt upkeep. That’s right. Just like letting your car go well beyond its oil change moment can snowball into a vehicle that isn’t budging without a major repair bill, not maintaining a quilt in the proper way could result in a sentimental treasure that’s good for little else than — maybe — scrap material. Sure, your quilt might not cost as much as, say, an engine to replace, but there’s more value in something handmade than a dollar sign. Maybe it was a wedding gift from a relative or a crib accessory that your mother started making before you slept your first night in said crib. Those types of belongings can have a lot of worth, so preserving them might be a big deal.

Wear, tear & time

Don’t break your own heart by letting this kind of damage happen to something close to it!

Don’t break your own heart by letting this kind of damage happen to something close to it!

One of the most important details about this preservation is to keep an eye on the products on a regular basis since smaller complications that come from wear, tear and time could be much easier to repair than those that have been expanding for some time. Other important details are to know how to fix the damage and determining if the damage is even fixable. As an example for these aspects, I’ll use a quilt that has some sentimental value to me, but a lack of maintenance has taken its toll. Don’t break your own heart by letting this kind of damage happen to something close to it!

Damage control

Let’s examine this first spot of damage, shall we?

Let’s examine this first spot of damage, shall we?

Let’s examine this first spot of damage, shall we? It looks fairly simple with just two simple holes in the top layer of fabric, so if I begin this examination with the basic question of whether or not it’s fixable, the answer would be yes! The smaller sizes here would allow a little bit of embellishment — maybe a patch — to be placed directly over the damaged area. Since this is a quilt that has a floral design, I could add something like a butterfly there so that it looks like it’s landing on the flower. Sure, it changes the design a bit, but it fits and is corrective. This issue, it seems, was detected in time!

Do away with the fray

The material is showing wear & tear around the seams and that’s not very surprising!

The material is showing wear & tear around the seams and that’s not very surprising!

Now, let’s try this one. The material is showing wear and tear around the seams and that’s not very surprising! The damage does extend a bit beyond the immediate area surrounding the seam, but it still seems to stem from that one line where the thread is running through. So, is it fixable? Yes! All I would need to do is add a border around the block to cover the issue, and if I did that for every block, the strategy would be replicated throughout so that this block wouldn’t look out of place. Again, it would change the design of the quilt, but not in a way that would necessarily make it look odd. I could match the border to the colors already present, and the addition could actually create a popping look for each block.

To fix or not to fix

This one is shredded, & the top layer isn’t covering as much material as it did in the prior pictures. But is it fixable? Believe it or not, yes!

This one is shredded, & the top layer isn’t covering as much material as it did in the prior pictures. But is it fixable? Believe it or not, yes!

How about this one? Well, the damage here is much more drastic than a simple tearing from stitching or tiny holes in the fabric. Instead, this looks more shredded, and the top layer isn’t covering as much material as it did in the prior pictures. But is it fixable? Believe it or not, yes! Since this area is at the end of the quilt, changing the size of the quilt could work. I would need to cut off enough material on this side of the quilt so that the damaged territory is done away with and redo the border work. It’s not as easy of a fix as sewing on a butterfly embellishment, and the appearance of the quilt would definitely be altered by the smaller territory. But, if pressed, this would be a fix!

Too far gone?

The fabric became too worn, whether from use, washing, time, or some other variable, & without the proper methods to fix the problem, it spread.

The fabric became too worn, whether from use, washing, time, or some other variable, & without the proper methods to fix the problem, it spread.

Now, we get to this one. Here, this looks as if the fabric became too worn, whether from use, washing, time, or some other variable, and without the proper methods to fix the problem, it spread. Of course, there could be another explanation for it. Perhaps someone ripped it, and the damage grew. Whatever the reason, the faulted block is in the midst of the quilt, and this fabric probably won’t go together at this point. This one, dear readers, doesn’t seem to be strategically fixable. In my defense, this damage could have happened before I got into sewing, but if I’d paid attention and caught a small hole in the fabric, I could have embellished it. If there was a tiny rip, I could’ve stitched it. As it stands though, the only ways I can see to fix this would be to add on an embellishment that would be too large to look natural or change the entire block — which would throw off the pattern of the quilt. This one, it seems, has gone too far.

And this is precisely why you should keep an eye out for damage! If you catch the smaller problems, you can fix them. If you let them escalate, you could be looking at a ruined quilt. So to preserve your works, keep tabs on them and — through borders, embellishments, and adjustments — tend to those issues as they show up!

Different Types of Thread and When to Use Them

Different Types of Thread and When to Use Them

Have you ever gone to the fabric store and been overwhelmed looking at the vast assortment of thread for sale? If so, then fear not, for I will help to break down the mystery of thread and how to use it in all its various types.

To start, consider where you are going to store your thread. I’m a highly visual person and I like to see what I have on hand. I also find looking at thread to sometimes motivate me or inspires me to begin on new projects. I created this thread display in my sewing room using Ikea picture frame shelves (Ikea Ribba) and I added small nails to hang my bobbins by the corresponding color of thread.

I added small nails to hang my bobbins by the corresponding color of thread.

I added small nails to hang my bobbins by the corresponding color of thread.

I live in a rural area, three hours from the nearest Joann Fabrics. Because of that I keep an Aurifil Thread Color Card so I can easily order the exact shade of thread I need. It also looks beautiful too, no?

Thread Weight

When choosing thread, consider the thread weight. A quick breakdown of Aurifil’s brand thread weights (and their many great brands of thread, including Guterman and Coats & Clark) looks like this:

12wt: Use it for sashiko & red work stitchery. This is the thickest thread in the Mako’ range.

28wt: It is strong enough to withstand the stress of hand quilting without needing to be glazed or waxed.

40wt: Favorite thread for machine quilting and all-purpose sewing. A little heavier to show off the quilting stitches.

50wt: Quilters love it for its piecing and quilting. A staple for every sewing studio.

80wt: This is the finest Egyptian cotton, for use by hand or machine. Your new ‘go to’ thread for applique and much more.

~ Thread descriptions from Hawthorne Threads

Buying at a fabric store is actually a little easier than sussing things out online because they divide thread into sections so you can quickly scan for ‘quilting’ or ‘embroidery’ or ‘heavy duty/jeans.’

I keep my standard, quilting cotton weight threads organized by ROYGBIV (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet).

I keep my standard, quilting cotton weight threads organized by ROYGBIV (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet).

ROYGBIV: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet.

I also keep my neutrals and browns organized by gradient.

I keep my neutrals & browns organized by gradient.

I keep my neutrals & browns organized by gradient.

Buying a lot of shades of one color can greatly help when working on projects with a ton of variation in the same tone, like in this quilt I recently finished. I used five different shades of brown and black to finish the horse.

 

Utility/Novelty Threads

These are threads you reach for when you need to pull out the big guns or you are just doing something different. I use some of these heavy weight threads for upholstery, corduroy, vinyl, or very thick or unique fabrics.

I use some of these heavy weight threads for upholstery, corduroy, vinyl, or very thick or unique fabrics.

I use some of these heavy weight threads for upholstery, corduroy, vinyl, or very thick or unique fabrics.

This is my tub of very heavy duty threads. I use them on marine projects and with my industrial sewing machine.

This is my tub of very heavy duty threads.

This is my tub of very heavy duty threads.

Variegated Thread

I saved these threads for last because they are my favorite. If you haven’t tried sewing with them yet, I encourage you to start today. The richness of their color variation is an absolute delight to the eye and often can take your projects to a whole other level.

I used two spools of variegated thread on this quilt. The blue/rainbow you can see here.

The blue/rainbow you can see here.

The blue/rainbow you can see here.

And the gorgeous bright yellow here.

You can see the gorgeous bright yellow here.

You can see the gorgeous bright yellow here.

Of course, with different threads you will need different needles, but I’ll save the topic of needles sizes and shapes for another post. What are your favorite types of threads? Let us know in comments!

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Charlotte Kaufman is a writer and sewist in Mammoth Lakes, California. She specializes in marine and home interiors and continues to fall more and more in love with quilting. You can follow her at charlottekaufman.com.
New Year, New Challenges: The Psychology of Sewing

New Year, New Challenges: The Psychology of Sewing

How many times do we seriously plan things, and within days or hours, our plans change. I used to think I prefer knowing what will happen ahead of time so I can grasp the idea, plan it to my specifications, and control the outcome. Not very many things happen that way.

So last time I wrote, I had a nice New Year’s Resolution list made up for myself. I was ready to learn new things, implement new creative expressions, and sew a rug made of scraps. That was a few days before New Year’s Day.

Now, the middle of January, about 2 days ago, I was able to sit and sew a project I have been thinking about. Sewing is so therapeutic, you forget where you are and the daily chores of life. But now, my Resolutions have been pretty much scrapped. Time changes things so quickly.

Turn that frown upside down

Now, I’m finding myself in a position to decide how to decorate a new home we are building. “Wonderful, you say! Congratulations!” Blushing but thankful, I tell you, “Thank you, but the downside is I’m losing my room for sewing.” For now, I have a countertop that wraps around half the room where I can cut, sew, press, lay out patterns, and holds my computer. Plus tons of shelves for fabric, ribbon, thread, and many other non-sewing related supplies. What will I do?

We determined that I will use the large guest room upstairs for my sewing projects, but it will be deemed a guest bedroom as well. So, gone are the days, of leaving my projects in different stages, and not worrying about things left out. I have to be neat and organized ie. (no thread on the floor) so if we should get company, (my daughter visits frequently) that room will be presentable. OMG, such pressure! I’m already stressed. I can’t even get away and be creative because my room has to be in picture perfect order and stay that way (much like the rest of the house by the way, as my in-laws will be living with us).

So, I need your help! I will explain later. I’m making a checklist of some things, I need to purchase if I am going to continue my psychological sewing retreat. At least I have until late July to decide.

Making a list – checking it twice

First is a desk. I like this one. Nice and neat!

See it here:

Fashion Sewing Cabinets of America 8300 Cloud 9

Or:

Sylvia Design Model 1520 Quilters Work Station

Then a rolling bag to store the sewing machine out of sight while my guest suite is being occupied.

Bluefig TB 23Travel Bag 23″ Julie

Also a box of Aerofil Incredible Threadable Quilt Box Maderia Thread so I can keep the thread bobbins and thread and neatly put away.

Then there’s the fabric and trims, buttons and numerous other collections. That worries me most. I would love to hear your suggestions on how to scale back and organize and still have the ability to retreat to my passion in my changing lifestyle. I hope all will not be lost even with a more spacious house and elder care ahead. One never knows! As for you, my advice is:

Keep sewing, it’s good for the soul! Until next time.

Basting Your Quilt: Sprays and Pins

Basting Your Quilt: Sprays and Pins

Last week’s post was on batting, but as I freely admitted within that post, there’s more to finishing up a quilt than deciding on that detail. As the time approaches to dive into those final stages for this quilt, I’d say it’s a logical decision to explore those other topics.

Basting Your Quilt: Sprays and Pins

This week’s subject of interest: basting.

Coming off of the holidays, it might be easy to think of basting a turkey, but baking isn’t the only realm that has a form of basting! For quilting, this is the stage where you’re preparing to sew your quilt sandwich together. All of the layers are ready to be connected, and basting allows you to make sure those layers are level and even for sewing. You smooth them out, line them up, and do something to make sure they stay in line as you join the layers together through whatever method you choose.

It’s a simple idea, but there’s more than one way to keep those layers in line. For this particular post, two of those possibilities are the focus as I weigh the pros and cons of each to decide which option to use for my quilt. Those possibilities are straight pins and spray basting.

Straight pins:

I would think that straight pins would be the more recognizable and common of the two approaches. In fact, according to one source, straights pins (in some form) date all the way back to Ancient Egypt.

Straight pins are the more recognizable & common of the two approaches.

Straight pins are the more recognizable & common of the two approaches.

The benefits:

1) They’re financially friendly! You can pick up a pack of these for a small amount of money, which is wonderful for me since I am, like I’ve mentioned before, cheap.

2) They’re reusable! Unless you damage or lose the straight pin, you can pull it from the fabric when you no longer need it for a project, then you use it again and again for endeavors to come. So long as it’s in good shape, it doesn’t need to be replaced.

3) They’re common! Because of this trait, they’re easy to find at a store, meaning you might not have to go too far out of your way to pick up a set.

4) They’re easy to store! They’re small, after all, so you can keep them comfortably in your sewing kit.

Problems:

1) They’re easy to lose! I don’t know how many times I’ve spotted straight pins that have fallen around my sewing area when I’m finished working on a project for the day. Not only is this bad because losing them can lead to replacing them, but these pins are sharp! Losing them could equal pain if you accidentally find one in a not-good way!

2) They’re sharp! Yes, I stated this in the last detail, but it’s worth noting as its own issue. Just like your needle can cause pain if you let it slip, straight pins can do some finger-damage. Using a thimble might help, but I guess I’m a rebel since I don’t usually use one!

3) Quality varies! This is something I learned from my own experience. I have two different sizes of straight pins, and I’ve come to the conclusion that the tiny ones are lacking in comparison to the others. They potentially fall out more easily than the larger ones, which could leave extra spaces of fabric that are unpinned and straight pins that are lost in my workspace. Neither of those things are necessarily good!

My two different sizes of straight pins.

My two different sizes of straight pins.

Spray Basting:

This is a method I haven’t tried, but I’ve done some research on it. I first became aware of it through a Craftsy.com class, and it intrigues/puzzles me. A spray that holds your quilt together? For some reason, that seems bizarre to me! Still, there are supporters for the spray basting method, so who am I to toss the possibility aside without considering it?

A spray that holds your quilt together.

A spray that holds your quilt together.

Benefits:

1) You won’t poke yourself with a straight pin! With how many times I’ve accidentally stabbed myself with a pin or needle, this is promising to me!

2) It’s less time consuming! You don’t have to go through the entire quilt to place pins all over it. You just have to even it out, spray sections at a time and smooth it back out. How easy is that?

3) The effect doesn’t seem to be permanent! Instead, it apparently washes out of your quilt, so its effects are temporary.

You just have to even it out, spray sections at a time and smooth it back out.

You just have to even it out, spray sections at a time and smooth it back out.

Problems:

1) It’s more expensive! A can of basting spray can cost more than a pack of straight pins. Remember how I’m cheap? Yeah…

2) It’s not reusable! Unlike pins, you can only use this product once. Sure, you might be able to space it out to use for more than one project, but once your can is empty, you have to replenish your supply (if you want to keep using this method).

3) It’s messy! As with any spray product, there’s no guarantee that you’ll never get said product on things surrounding what you intended to spray. For this reason, you might have to do some cleaning once you finish your basting.

4) It’s dangerous to your lungs! The fumes can be hazardous, so it’s recommended that you only use this method in a well-ventilated space — like outside.

For me, I’m torn between wanting to dive into the ease of spray basting, but I can’t see myself being okay with hauling my quilt outside to spray it down. Sure, I might be able to find a suitable place indoors. I might even decide that working outside isn’t a big deal. For now though, I think the fume concern is significant enough to keep me unintentionally jabbing myself with straight pins! That’s not to say the day won’t come when I leap into the world of spray basting. It’s just a current decision to keep things a bit more tried, true, and non-toxic!

Quilt Museums and Goals

Quilt Museums and Goals

Once upon a time, I was a student tunneling through a graduate program in English and Creative Writing. Before you get too carried away thinking that I know all kinds of things about Chaucer and such, let me admit that there are plenty of literary classics that I haven’t read, and I only used one Shakespeare play (that I recall) during my time in the program. I did, however, write a detailed paper on Dr. Seuss. Because I’m awesome like that.

Quilt nation

Kentucky has a quilt museum.

Anyway, while I was working on that MA in English, I learned that Kentucky (my state) has a quilt museum. Weird place to discover this detail? Maybe! But I believe it was my professor who provided me that fact through a discussion board post. I guess I mentioned where I live, as well as quilting, and she was kind enough to inform me that a quilt museum is in my home state. I had no clue, but I did a bit of Google searching about it. What I discovered was that not only is there a quilt museum in Kentucky, but that quilt museums are things in more areas than just the bluegrass state. In fact, a person could find one in Virginia, Texas, Wisconsin…

So, I guess shame on me for assuming that quilting was such an unappreciated pastime? Who knew that there were places like this available where you can go and appreciate someone else’s craft? Okay, maybe you knew, but I didn’t! It was an interesting thing to discover, and it was a nice side-benefit to earning my MA! I got an education, and a piece of quilt-culture tossed my way!

This is intriguing not only because it provides me a possible place to visit to see a collection of quilts, but also because the existence of these places offers solid evidence for the argument that quilting is an art form. If someone claims it isn’t, you can come back with, “Really? They have museums for it.” That alone, I think, makes these museums worth knowing about!

No time like the present

Despite my appreciation of the possibility of going to a quilt museum though, I haven’t actually made it to one. Shame on me again? Maybe! But if you recall, I had this plan of having a list of goals for 2017, and it’s occurred to me that this failure to see a quilt museum can be something to correct during that year-long goal-reaching endeavor.

So, here you go — a new goal for the list, and that’s to see an exhibit at the quilt museum. In fact, I’ve taken the time narrow it down further to choose which exhibit I want to see. The final version of said goal, then, would read something like this:

Go to see the “Quilts of the Lakota” exhibit at the National Quilt Museum in Paducah, Kentucky.

Go to see the “Quilts of the Lakota” exhibit at the National Quilt Museum in Paducah, Kentucky.

This taps into my interest in quilts, and my interest in history (Did I mention I have my BA in History? If not, yeah, that appeals to me, too!), so it’s a wonderful combination for me. In addition, the exhibit is scheduled to happen between October 2017 and January 2018, so there’s plenty of time to pick a date for my own viewing! Should that happen, you might want to keep an eye out for pictures and a post from the event. You might find it interesting, and I might want to prove that I did, in truth, accomplish this goal!

Become a part of history

Other additional and awesome things about this museum, by the way, are that you can apply to have your own exhibit displayed there (a long-term goal?), and they offer workshops for quilting (another year-goal?). This little gem of a museum has been around for twenty-five years, and I was clueless!

And since I happen to live near Virginia, maybe I’ll make a trip over there as well to see that museum.

And since I happen to live near Virginia, maybe I’ll make a trip over there as well to see that museum.

And since I happen to live near Virginia, maybe I’ll make a trip over there as well to see that museum. They have a “Treasures from the Vault: Crazy Quilts” going on right now that could’ve been fun to see and a “Treasures From the Vault: Wool for Winter” option that’s coming up next year. Maybe I can make this a decade-long goal of seeing every quilt museum in the country. It’s a bit more long-term than I was looking for, but how interesting could it be to see all of these museums? It could be fun, inspiring, encouraging…

They have a “Treasures from the Vault: Crazy Quilts” going on right now that could’ve been fun to see and a "Treasures From the Vault: Wool for Winter" option that’s coming up next year.

They have a “Treasures from the Vault: Crazy Quilts” going on right now that could’ve been fun to see and a “Treasures From the Vault: Wool for Winter” option that’s coming up next year.

It’s a possibility, but at least my one quilt-museum goal for 2017 is cemented 🙂

Have any of you ever checked out one of these museums? If so, details in the comments!

Book Promoting for the Crafty Author

Book Promoting for the Crafty Author

I have a number of creative outlets, guys. I like to sew, quilt, bake, design floral arrangements…

I’ve of fallen in love with the idea of freelance writing.

I’ve of fallen in love with the idea of freelance writing.

But my number one creative outlet is writing. That’s one of the reasons why having this blog opportunity fits so well with my personality and interests. I get to dabble in one category of creative endeavor and learn about it while exercising my number-one creative passion by writing about it. It’s a pretty awesome system, honestly, and I’ve kind of fallen in love with the idea of freelance writing because of it.

What would be awesome though is if I could make a living as an author, which is something that I’ve been putting efforts toward. I’ve been working on and publishing books since at least 2013, and I’ve learned a thing or two about what to do in regards to marketing and such. Not enough to make me a best seller, mind you, but I’ve learned enough to be in better shape than I was when my first book was released in 2013!

I’ve learned enough to be in better shape than I was when my first book was released in 2013!

I’ve learned enough to be in better shape than I was when my first book was released in 2013!

In the Beginning…

That first book is being re-released by a publisher, and I want to do things right this time around by applying what I know. What I *do* know is that there are steps in marketing that can attract an audience, and giveaways happen to be one of those options. In fact, I recently finished a giveaway on Goodreads for this very copy of one book I wrote. Maybe you’ve heard of it? Jivin’ Tango? Oh well… 🙂

Importance of Planning

I recently finished a giveaway on Goodreads for this very copy of one book I wrote, Jivin' Tango.

I recently finished a giveaway on Goodreads for this very copy of one book I wrote, Jivin’ Tango.

The point—and this is what brings us to the theme of this blog—is that I’ve been trying to think outside of the box for things that I could create for the upcoming book releases that would make for awesome giveaway items. And I think I might actually have come up with some ideas for the process! You see, this upcoming re-released trilogy is a fantasy series that includes essences of a number of mythical creatures—fairies, dragons, vampires, mermaids, werewolves, genies, etc.—and that leaves a whole lot of territory to dive into for the world of sewing and quilting. Why? Because fantasy is a big deal these days, and it isn’t hard to come up with fabric to fit the category!

 

I figure though that one detail that I should consider is pacing and speed. It would be crazy-awesome to make a crazy-awesome quilt and give it away, but I need to consider other factors. For instance, in order to have these books available for sale next year, there’s more editing I need to go through for each and forms to finish/start filling out, not to mention other why-am-I-an-adult tasks I need to address for life in general. To put that detail plainly, I just might not have the time (or the skill at this point) to make that crazy-awesome quilt by a January release date, which I think is when the first book is scheduled to come out.

Giveaways Galore

So what are some things I would have time for before that first book’s release? Well, there are the obvious options, like totes and wall hangings that would allow for simple makes (I hope!). I could also make a set of throw pillows, scarves, place mats, table runners, oven mitts, purses, bookmarks… Thank you, Google and sites I found via Google, for the ideas!

Of all of these possibilities, for whatever reason, throw pillows and totes seem like the most intriguing options. So, I’m thinking that these could be my primary targets for the first two book releases. For the third, most delayed option, I’m thinking either a quilt or a wall hanging might suffice. If that’s the case, here’s my schedule:

January—Within the Essence (The Division: Book One)—Throw Pillows

February—Through the Ashes (The Division: Book Two)—Tote

March—Beyond the Hope (The Division: Book Three)—Quilt/Wall Hanging

It’s worth noting that I haven’t tried to make a pillow since childhood, and I’ve never done a tote before. With those things in mind, there might be some complications and project switching since I have a limited time frame to work with. If I can’t make one work, something might need to be changed!

Theme is Key

The most connected detail though is to make sure there’s that fantasy link. Otherwise, my theme is gone, and I might as well be sending out paper plate bunnies or something, no matter how impressive the final products are. For that quality, I’m thinking I’ll select three of the mythical creatures that are connected to this trilogy—one for each project. Personally, I’d love to make a quilt out of this material (I love fairies!), and I think throw pillows out of material that’s something like this could be awesome. Beyond the fairy and dragon, I could go with a mermaid concept for the tote, using scaled fabric and charms. The potential problem though would be that, if these were successful, at least two of out three of them I might want to keep!

Honestly, I’ve been looking for ways to blend in these hobbies so that I can have some crossover details, and this feels like a great opportunity! I can improve my sewing and expand my experience in the field while promoting my number-one creative endeavor of writing. How isn’t that a win-win?

I’d be interested in any tips for projects I could do for one of these book releases, if you have a different idea than what I posted! Feedback, guys!

Zentangle Quilting

Zentangle Quilting

Zentangle design flows free like a river of creativity.

Zentangle design flows free like a river of creativity.

Have you heard about the cool art/meditation craze that’s gaining popularity? It’s called Zentangle. The basic concept is using basic shapes in a repeated fashion to create pictures. In doing so, the mind disconnects and enters a meditative state.

Although I enjoy Zentangle and find it fun and relaxing, I also find that my hand cramps holding the necessary pens and pencils for an extended period of time. Instead, I think the same concepts can be used to create gorgeous quilts.

Plain Fabrics

Instead of using fabrics with cool, cute or funky patterns, choose plain fabrics and allow the Zentangle concept of basic shapes in repetition to give your quilt its pattern and character. Instead of a quilt with one pattern repeated throughout, your quilt will be a masterpiece of many patterns that combine to create a unique, gorgeous quilt anyone would be proud to own.

Pick Your Tangles

There are hundreds of Zentangle patterns (tangles) to choose from, with more being created all the time. You can do an image search, or for those of who need a little more instruction try http://tanglepatterns.com/ to find several tangles that appeal to you and that you think would combine well together to make a quilt. Depending on the size of the finished quilt, pick at least seven different tangles. The more tangles you choose, the more interesting your finished quilt will be.

Chart It

You’ve likely got dimensions in mind for your quilt project. To ensure that your Zentangle quilt comes out the right size, draw it out on graph paper first. That will help you know how much fabric you need for each of the different patterns as well as help you know where to stop on each of the patterns to wind up with a rectangular quilt with crisp edges. Plus you get to experience doing a Zentangle drawing.

Templates

Once you’ve gotten this far, and to help you ensure that your quilt comes out as you envision in, create templates for each of the Zentangle shapes (and the varying sizes of them) you plan to use. A manila folder or empty cereal box work well for creating the template shapes.

Cut, Cut, and More Cut

From this point on, the process is pretty much like making any other quilt. Cut out all the tangle shapes and sizes on the appropriate fabrics. If you don’t usually do a dry fit, it may be wise to do so with a Zentangle quilt since they’re more freeform.

Stitch, Quilt, Go

When you’ve got all your tangle pieces cut out and dry fit together, sew them up as you would any other quilt pattern; stopping to check for fit after each pattern section. For the back, depending on the look you’re going for either a solid color or a fabric that combines the colors used in your Zentangle quilt can be used. Complete your Zentangle quilt as you would any other quilt.

A Zentangle quilt may be a bit tougher than other quilts you’ve made, but it also produces a quilt that is more unique and original. Zentangle quilts make great gifts and are sure to be conversation starters in any home.

Have you tried it? Take pictures and share!

Beginner's Guide to Bed Runners

Beginner’s Guide to Bed Runners

Mystic Connecticut on a Saturday Afternoon

Good morning from Connecticut.

Good morning from Connecticut.

Good morning from Connecticut;

I am so enjoying cool and sometimes rainy weather in this beautiful forest laden state! The history and rolling scenery and fine Colonial homes makes me think of the coziness of fall as the leaves will change color soon.

As I think of the weather change, I wanted to share with you a great way to add style and elegance to your bedroom by making a quilt to cover the bottom of your bed. When it’s not cold enough for a blanket, and a smaller cover may take off the chill, a bed runner is a great idea.

When it’s not cold enough for a blanket, and a smaller cover may take off the chill, a bed runner is a great idea.

When it’s not cold enough for a blanket, and a smaller cover may take off the chill, a bed runner is a great idea.

I have noticed a new wave of interest for bed runners has appeared in high end boutique hotels, and staging properties for sale. The look can be casual or classic depending on your style.

They are also good to change the look of the time of year using neutral spreads and decors.

They are also good to change the look of the time of year using neutral spreads and decors.

They are also good to change the look of the time of year using neutral spreads and decors.

HOWEVER, I have always enjoyed picking out fabric to coordinate with my décor, so I prefer to be inspired by personally designed articles. So to start, measure the top of the bed width-wise.

Then add 24 to 26 inches for the drop on the sides. Then measure 18 to 24 inches for the width plus seam allowances. View many options from patterns to discern your favorites so your bed runner is uniquely YOU. Proceed using the piecing method, batting and backing and of course binding to complete the project.

Pre-cuts are great for patchwork projects or take yardage where you make a one piece cover and perhaps make coordinating pillows for a classic look.

Bed runners also add protection against soil or hair from our 4 legged family members that occupy that space at the end of our beds.

Bed runners also add protection against soil or hair from our 4 legged family members that occupy that space at the end of our beds.

Another idea is make a headboard from your bed runner to add comfort and warmth to your tranquil area for rest and relaxation.

The size of a bed runner quilt can be a versatile addition to your décor. It could be used as a wall hanging, a sofa throw or a sophisticated mantle drape. Also for quick and the more casual type, a method of protection from soil or hair from our 4 legged family members that occupy space at the end of the bed.

One final thought is that I can use my Husquvarna Opal 670 machine, as well as the new Japanese Juki machines. A great addition to any quilters workroom is a machine designed for quilting as well as sewing. Quilting machines that have extended tables make quilting so enjoyable.

SEWINGMACHINESPLUS.com features these as well as other machines that will fit your sewing and quilting needs as well as your budget.

Think of it! You can have a beautiful bed runner ready for those chilly days before the leaves fall!

I would love to hear your comments as soon as I get back from the Fabric store. COMMENTS AND QUESTIONS ARE ALWAYS WELCOME on my blog, HAPPY SEWING UNTIL next time!

The quilts pictured above come as kits from Annie’s E-patternsCentral.com where patterns can be purchased and sewn. So many beautiful options to choose.
Quilt A String-Pieced Scrap Quilt For Baby

Quilt A String-Pieced Scrap Quilt For Baby

Here is an easy scrap quilt idea that is great fun to make.Here is an easy scrap quilt idea that is great fun to make.

You could clear out your scrap stash to make this gorgeous gift.

Blue is my favorite color, so I had heaps of blue scraps. That is what gave me the idea to make this crib sized quilt for a special new baby boy. You could choose a different color of scraps for this, or you could choose to not restrict your palette and clear out a random colorful scrap pile instead.

You will need:

  • A variety of cotton scraps
  • 48 5-inch cotton muslin squares
  • 12 2.5 inch muslin squares
  • 1 yard border fabric
  • Crib size batting
  • 1.5 yard backing fabric
  • Quilt binding or fabric to make binding

To make the patchwork squares:

Press and cut your colorful scraps into approximately 1 inch wide strips. You will trim strips to the desired length as you construct the squares.

Take a muslin square and angle the first scrap strip diagonally, from the bottom left corner to the top right corner of the square. You can create a sort of uniformity in your blocks and allow for the Xs and squares effect achieved in this quilt by choosing one color scrap to use as this center piece in every square. In this case, I chose navy. All squares are made with navy as the longest, first piece in this quilt.

Next, choose another strip and place it right side down atop the first strip, then sew along one side using a quarter inch seam. Flip the second strip down to face up, then press.

Once you've added the last little strip to cover the corner, you can turn and repeat the process to fill in the other side of your square.

Once you’ve added the last little strip to cover the corner, you can turn and repeat the process to fill in the other side of your square.

Then add another strip, placing the third right side down atop the second, and sew using a quarter inch seam, then flip with right side up, and press.

Please do not skip the step of pressing each strip neatly down after sewing. Careful pressing makes the difference between neat and well made quilts and something that is more of a mess!

Repeat the process, using shorter strips and smaller scraps as you get close to the edges of the square. Once you’ve added the last little strip to cover the corner, you can turn and repeat the process to fill in the other side of your square.

Now you have your first completed square.

You have your first completed square.

Place the square right side down and trim excess strip ends from the muslin square. This is most easily accomplished using a rotary cutter, or you can trim the excess with scissors instead.

Now make 47 more.

Now make 47 more.

Now you have your first completed square.

Make 47 more.

Assembling the quilt top:

Once you have completed all your patchwork squares, sew them together into rows.

Different looks can be achieved by varying the placement of the squares. You could turn them all in the same direction or assemble them where they form the X’s and O’s pattern pictured here. This is one of the things that makes quilting so much fun, that the same simple block can be turned different ways to vary the look of the completed top.

When joining the squares, take extra care for the tiny corner triangles, as it can be easy to make a careless mistake and miss joining these “ears” properly. This is easy to avoid by being careful in joining the squares and avoiding rush.

You also have options in this design: once you have completed the joining of the strip patchwork, you could call the quilt top done. Or choose to border the patchwork with a solid fabric. You could make borders of equal widths, or you could choose to add an additional embellishment, as I have here, with smaller blocks set off with borders. I did mine this way to indicate the top of the quilt and bring the design to the right dimensions for a crib sized quilt..

To make this quilt as pictured, sew 3.5 inch border strips around all sides of the patchwork design.

Prepare the three smaller blocks in the same way as the larger ones, using 2.5 inch muslin squares for the base.

Join these into a row by alternating the small patchwork blocks with 4 4.5 inch squares of the border fabric.

Sew this strip to the top edge, and finish the top by adding one more 3.5 inch strip above this.

To make the “quilt sandwich”:

  1. Cut your backing fabric 3 inches bigger all around than the top, press well, and place it right side down on your table or workspace.
  2. Carefully smooth the batting atop the wrong side of the backing layer.
  3. Press the top and seams one more time, taking extra care, then layer it wrong side down on top of the batting layer. Smooth nicely.
  4. Then baste all three layers together, using either long running stitches or quilters safety pins.

Quilting:

Meandering stipple stitch.

Meandering stipple stitch.

You can quilt this using the quick and easy route: the “stitch in the ditch” method of quilting over the seams that joined the individual blocks, or drop your feed dogs and use a meandering stipple stitch in one long line that (ideally) never crosses itself, guiding the quilt using your hands, working in sections until you have covered the entire quilt.  I quilted this pretty closely, like this:

Trim:

Trim the excess batting and backing, using your scissors or more quickly with your serger.

Bind:

Use prepackaged quilt binding or make your own. Sew binding strips together and then sew to quilt top, beginning along one side. Leave approximately an inch free at the beginning of this seam to join the binding ends once you have sewn it down all around. Join them, then fold over and sew the binding down on the back of the quilt using invisible whip stitches sewn by hand or using your machine if preferred.

Now you have made a beautiful heirloom gift that will be treasured forever!