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/
Planning Your Pieces

Planning Your Pieces

One of the most important things you can do when beginning a quilt is to plan out your pattern. By this idea, I don’t just mean picking what pattern you want to buy in a store, but also planning out how the pieces of your project will fit together. That kind of pre-thought can make a difference in the appearance of a final product!

Let’s say, for instance, you decided to make a blue-based quilt, and you have a number of types of fabric to use for the product. If you don’t plan out how the pieces will go, you could end up running out of one particular style before the end, so the final portion is suddenly void of that one fabric. If you, like me, want a quilt that looks more balanced than that, then planning ahead can give you that quality.

Let’s think about where this is going…

Beyond that point, making these decisions beforehand can also ensure that you don’t pile a series of similar fabric all in one area. Otherwise, your product could look like this not-so-beautiful piece of artwork I created with my not-so-wonderful skills at Paint.

Otherwise, your product could look like this not-so-beautiful piece of artwork I created with my not-so-wonderful skills at Paint.

Otherwise, your product could look like this not-so-beautiful piece of artwork I created with my not-so-wonderful skills at Paint.

See how the same shades of blue are really close together? Now, imagine, what it would look like had I just mixed the fabrics in a more thorough way. The overall result could’ve been much more balanced, which to me, is a better strategy! And that’s the beauty of planning: No matter what your preference is, you can make sure you end up with a quilt that reflects it!

Lay out your quilt pieces on the floor & continue to adjust them until you come to a pattern you decide is right.

Lay out your quilt pieces on the floor & continue to adjust them until you come to a pattern you decide is right.

Options

So the question arises about how to plan out those details. There are a couple of options available that you can use right in your own home! The easiest and least-costly method between the two I’ll cover is to lay out your quilt pieces on the floor and continue to adjust them until you come to a pattern you decide is right. You don’t need any extra materials for this stage at all, and so long as you have the free floor space, you have this opportunity right at your fingertips!

A quilt design area on your wall.

A quilt design area on your wall.

The other option is a quilt design area on your wall. This one might cost you a bit of money since you have to buy the supplies for it (though those supplies can be as simple as clips!), and you might find that you have to rearrange your wall décor to make room for it. Still, it’s a better candidate than the floor method if you want to eliminate the possibility of having your quilt-in-progress trampled by feet or if you just don’t have the right amount of space available for a clear plan-out area. Once you construct the design wall, you can start pinning and planning, shifting around your fabric blocks until everything fits in a way you’re comfortable with!

Start pinning & planning, shifting around your fabric blocks until everything fits in a way you’re comfortable with!

Start pinning & planning, shifting around your fabric blocks until everything fits in a way you’re comfortable with!

From that point, there are a number of ways to remember the quilt structure that you’ve planned out. Sure, if you’re using a quilt design wall, you could take it a bit at a time over to your sewing machine and just leave the extra pieces in place on the wall until the time comes to use them. But if you want a method that doesn’t involve leaving your pieces there — or if you’re using the floor method — you might want to think about alternative tactics!

One idea is to take a picture of what you come up with. If you do that, you can use it as a point of reference as you go through piecing your quilt together. By following the design you created, your quilt can turn out just as beautiful as you meant for it to!

Collate your blocks

Another option would be to keep your pieces in the order that you’re going to use them. As you take them up from the floor or off the wall, make sure you’re doing so in the exact order they’ll appear. You could start from the top or the bottom corner and progressively layer your quilt pieces on top of one another as you go. With this strategy, your blocks are in the order you wanted them, so you can just go through your stack one piece at a time to recreate your pattern!

But whatever your planning and preserving methods are, the important thing is to be thorough with them. Take your time, both in pinning or sorting those pieces, and in keeping them in sequence, so that errors are less likely to happen. When you have a well-balanced and well-considered quilt as the reward for your efforts, you’ll be glad you did!

The Joy of Quilting

The Joy of Quilting

You remember that cookbook “The Joy of Cooking”? It was ubiquitous when I was growing up. Full of stuff we’d never eat today. Since I was a kid, for me, the joy of cooking was really in the eating…My dad would take a recipe from that cookbook, modify it in some way and serve up the tastiest meals.

Similarly, for me the joy of quilting is in the using. I’m not a quilter, but I love the results of someone who is. I prefer projects that are quicker and involved bigger pieces. I’m not into small details…but I appreciate the skill and expertise of those who are.

The Joy of Quilting

Your imagination is the limit

What amazes me about quilting is the amazing patterns. Everything from Acorn to Zig-Zag and everything in between. I find it fascinating that using the same pattern, but different fabrics can generate such different, yet similar, quilts. Each one is personalized and special.

To me, quilting harkens back to a previous era…to our roots. And that fact makes me wish I could get into it the same way I have knitting or spinning yarn. I appreciate modern conveniences like electricity and indoor plumbing, but have always felt pulled to master more basic skills.

Family tree

Another thing I love about quilting, and quilts in general, is that they can capture and carry a personal or family history. They tell a story. By using blocks made from worn clothing or other well-loved items or new fabrics that represent something, quilts become a means of carrying history forward.

Quilts are works of art. I think most people think of them as something to put on a bed and a way to keep warm. That’s true, but they’re also works of art. If a quilt is used to capture a story or family history, a better display might be hanging on a wall or displaying on a rack. This way, they preserve the story and act as a conversation starter so the story can be shared.

I may not be a quilter, but I love quilts. The sense of history and a hint of romance. I find them inspiring and feel they connect us to our roots, What’s your joy of quilting?

Pretty Little Things

Pretty Little Things

I was thinking about all the things you can make with fabric. Depending on your sewing skills and your motivation, you could make just about anything your heart desires.

Let’s see. My first sewn article was a red twill skirt in high school. My efforts had very good intentions, but I remember getting frustrated when I could never use the “best” sewing machine in the classroom. I had to rush to finish it so the teacher gave me a “C” grade on it. I couldn’t believe I put the zipper in the back just perfectly. (I’m still scared of zippers, by the way). But the hem of the skirt was about 3 inches in the back and maybe and 1 inch in the front, and very irregular. That was long before the days of the high-low hem which arrived on the scene by stylish fashion designers in the twenty-first century. Oh my, I’m dating myself now.

I learned it from watching you

I watched my Mom sew clothes for me as child, so when I got off on my own, I asked my Dad for a sewing machine. I picked one out from Sears, a basic machine with a couple of stitches. I made a knit T shirt out of multi-striped material and fell in love with stretch fabrics.

My dad called it my “$150.00 T-shirt.” I knew he was thinking I would be done with sewing after finishing that comfy, wearable T-shirt. I proved him wrong.

I went on to make dresses, suits with vests, skirts with zippers, a strapless bathing suit, and other clothes that were worn with pride when I thought, “I did this- I made this jacket”.

So fast forward today, after several years of non-sewing, I have found my passion again with other types of articles. The last couple years, I have made quilts, bed runners, napkins, baby articles and even Korean Quilting called “Pojagi”.

And now for something completely different

Today, I want to share with you my latest project. First off, I love the Victorian Era.

Laces, satins, silks and velvet. I have accumulated many boxes of vintage lace, ribbons, and trims and struggle to find ways to use them. So, I am trying to bring back something that were used by ladies of old. It is something that is considered vintage, or antique, but I still feel the idea is a good one. Many stores carry things similar like paper envelopes filled with lavender seeds, or other dried herbs, but I wanted to design something that was original to appeal to women who love frilly little things like me.

When I made these, I thought the Mother of the Bride & Groom may need the hankies to wipe away their tears during the wedding ceremony!

When I made these, I thought the Mother of the Bride & Groom may need the hankies to wipe away their tears during the wedding ceremony!

So, I designed a Handkerchief Sachet. The idea is to spray the handmade handkerchief with your favorite cologne or perfume, or fragrance oils. Place it in dresser drawers, on the bath counter top, or even your handbag, so you can enjoy your favorite scent as aromatherapy.

I thought these could be used as a keepsake bag for a special piece of jewelry, a lock of baby’s first haircut, or just a place for a tube of lipstick in your handbag. Just a little frill to enjoy & remember a special time or event.

I thought these could be used as a keepsake bag for a special piece of jewelry, a lock of baby’s first haircut, or just a place for a tube of lipstick in your handbag. Just a little frill to enjoy & remember a special time or event.

The last picture is the third set of sachets I made with 5” squares, lace, silk ribbon, and some metal vintage ornaments. These are stuffed with eco-friendly snow filling and will absorb your desired scent. Just respray when the scent fades and enjoy!

The last picture is the third set of sachets I made with 5” squares, lace, silk ribbon, & some metal vintage ornaments.

The last picture is the third set of sachets I made with 5” squares, lace, silk ribbon, & some metal vintage ornaments.

Whereas, the handkerchief can be washed if necessary if a change of scent is desired, these can also be utilized as a pin cushion in your sewing room. Who knows, you may fall in love with Victorian Vintage as I did.

All seams were sewn by machine except for adding flowers and ribbon, these items can be found at NaturaDomani on Etsy.
Janome DC5100 Sewing Machine Review

Janome DC5100 Sewing Machine Review

The Janome DC5100 is Super Sweet

The Janome DC5100 is super sweet!

The Janome DC5100 is super sweet!

When I decided to upgrade my basic machine several years ago, I took a lot of time investigating all the different options. At first I felt overwhelmed by the huge selection of makes and models available.

But then I discovered the Janome DC5100 with its impressive features. This was the clear choice as the right sewing machine for me.

I love this machine; it’s the sweetest sewing machine I have ever used. I have been sewing on mine for several years now and I have only grown fonder of this dear friend.

What’s so great about it?

Like all Janome machines, the DC5100 is well designed with user friendly features. Like other Janomes, it has a horizontally loaded bobbin with see-through cover, built-in needle threader, snap-on presser feet, one-step buttonholer attachment and more.

But the DC5100 is even more special than all the other lovely Janome sewing machines I have used, for quite a few reasons:

Variable Speed Controls and Quiet DC Motor

I love it because it is fast. It will sew 820 stitches per minute. But it also has a helpful speed adjustment switch which I can use to set the machine to sew more slowly. This helps me in sewing curves or other delicate tasks, since I have a tendency to have a lead foot on the sewing pedal. I can slide this easy control all the way to the left and force myself and the machine to go very slowly, toggle towards the middle for a moderate speed, or I can do what I usually do and slide it all the way to the right and run through projects with super fast speed. The Janome DC5100 sews well at all these different speeds because it has a powerful DC motor.

It sews quietly, too. The Janome DC5100 is the quietest machine I have ever used. Because I have little kids who keep me busy during the day, I often stay up quite late at night to do my sewing, and my husband used to complain about the noise. Now that I have this machine, when I come to bed, he asks “What have you been doing?” That’s because the Janome DC5100 is so quiet that no one outside of my sewing room can even hear it.

A Wide Variety of Stitches and Programmable Memory

Janome DC5100 has 167 different built-in stitches and 215 stitch functions.

Janome DC5100 has 167 different built-in stitches and 215 stitch functions.

What has made this my all time favorite sewing machine, besides its smoothness and speed, is its wide variety of functional and decorative stitches. This machine has 167 different built-in stitches and 215 stitch functions. It includes many quilting, blanket, heirloom, embroidery, home deco, and garment sewing stitches, as well as both upper and lower case alphabets, numerals, and punctuation. It can even cross-stitch.  And it can make five different types of easy one-step buttonholes.

The Janome DC5100 also has a programmable memory which holds up to fifty different patterns. I use this both for programming stitch patterns combining multiple decorative stitches, and also for remembering my favorite zig-zag stitch length and widths. The programmable needle up/down function allows you set the machine to stop sewing with the needle in either position.

Includes a Huge Selection of Feet

It also came with a great selection of feet. Besides the impressive variety of stitches, this detail was the selling point for me. No other machine I looked at included so many feet. The Janome DC5100 comes factory packaged with ten different feet. These include a ¼ inch seam foot, straight stitch foot, a zigzag foot, a satin stitch foot, a zipper foot, the one-step automatic buttonholer foot, overedge foot, adjustable blind hem foot, darning foot, and even a walking foot.

That darning foot is darn helpful, too. I use it with the feed dogs dropped for both free motion quilting and embroidery. The foot package also includes a handy quilting bar. And if you buy this machine from Sewing Machines Plus, they even include three additional feet in their bonus package: a ditch quilting foot, a concealed zipper foot, and my favorite, a see-through appliqué foot.

And More

Other user-friendly features include a built-in needle threader, thread cutter, jam-proof magnetic drop-in horizontal loading bobbin, super fast automatic declutch bobbin winding, auto-lock button for securing seams, easy reverse button, superior feed system, seven piece feed dogs, easy drop feed switch for free motion sewing, stitch length up to 5mm and width up to 7mm, backlit LCD screen and touchpad, hardcover, automatic presser foot tension which you never need adjust, roomy accessory storage compartment, and more.

The push button controls are easy to use and intuitive; the display even shows what foot to use after you select your stitch. This machine also comes with an excellent manual that covers everything in depth. Another special feature that I especially appreciate is the extra high presser foot lift.

Excellent Value

After sewing on mine for several years, I have zero complaints and nothing but raves.

I heartily recommend the Janome DC5100 as an amazing value. It’s a sweet, reliable, powerful machine that can increase your creativity with its wide variety of stitch functions and accessories. And the price is pretty sweet, too. After sewing on mine for several years, I have zero complaints and nothing but raves; I fell in love with it the first time I used it and I can’t imagine loving any machine more.

You will love it, too. Now is a great time to upgrade from a basic machine to expand your capabilities with a computerized Janome DC5100. You will be amazed by the difference this machine will make for your stitching and your creativity. Act now to take advantage of Sewing Machines Plus’ great price on this Janome and get the free bonus package with three additional feet and two kinds of needles while this hot deal is still available.

How to Quilt a Quilt

How to Quilt a Quilt

In English, the word quilt is both a noun and a verb. You can make a quilt, and you can quilt one. When I was first learning about quilting, several times I tried the search phrase ‘how to quilt a quilt’ but I rarely got the information I was looking for. I’m hoping this post will find its way to others who were looking for the information I couldn’t find as a new quilter.

It took me awhile to discover all the methods of quilting and I’m still learning more to this day. If there is another technique you are aware of that isn’t in this article, please share in the comments!

Quilting by hand

The two methods of finishing a quilt sandwich (the term for the classic three layers of a quilt: top, batting, bottom) by hand are hand tying and hand stitching. Quilts have been around since the dawn of time but for a large portion of our recorded history they were highly functional, as opposed to decorative, or a form of art or hobby. Hand tying and hand stitching were quick and effective ways of completing a quilt sandwich.

Hand tying

 

Images via Quilting in the Rain, WikiHow, Selvage Blog, Craftsy.

Images via Quilting in the Rain, WikiHow, Selvage Blog, Craftsy.

Hand tying or tufting a quilt is a method of spacing out knots every 4” to 8”across a quilt’s surface. While a square knot is the most common method of tying, quilters can get as creative as they like, using a Sheath stitch, for example, or other forms of embroidery knots.

Hand stitching

 

Images via Jennifer Causey, Shiny Happy World, Tied With a Ribbon, and The Sewing Directory.

Images via Jennifer Causey, Shiny Happy World, Tied With a Ribbon, and The Sewing Directory.

Even after sewing machines began to be used for creating quilts, hand stitching remained the preferred method for finishing a quilt for a long time. Today even modern quilters love this method and value the hand crafted look it gives finished quilts.

Machine quilting

 

Machine quilting with a walking foot. Image via charlottekaufman.com.

Machine quilting with a walking foot. Image via charlottekaufman.com.

Machine quilting generally comes in three forms, quilting done with a walking foot, free motion quilting (FMQ), and long arm quilting (a variation of FMQ).

Walking foot

 

Images via charlottekaufman.com.

Images via charlottekaufman.com.

While a regular foot can be used to finish a quilt, walking feet are preferred because of their method of allowing all three layers of the quilt sandwich to travel evenly under the needle at the same time. The only limitation to quilting with a walking foot is that the needle always moves forward so you must move the quilt on your own and unless you have a machine with a long neck, and this can be cumbersome. I’ve been eyeing this Janome at Sewing Machines Plus because of how much neck room it gives. Oh to quilt with such a lovely machine!

Free Motion Quilting (FMQ)

 

Images via Charlotte Kaufman of SewSewSewYourBoat.com.

Images via Charlotte Kaufman of SewSewSewYourBoat.com.

Free motion quilting (FMQ) is a ton of fun. In this style of quilting you can move the fabric in any direction you’d like as you sew. This allows for beautiful curves and detailed designs that a walking foot just can’t give you. A special foot is connected to the presser foot and you must lower the feed dogs of your machine in order for FMQ to work. Here are some examples of my own FMQ. You would be very hard pressed to do this kind of work with a walking foot.

Long Arm Quilting

 

Images via Free Range Quilter and Schnigschnag Quilts and More.

Images via Free Range Quilter and Schnigschnag Quilts and More.

Long arm quilting is when a sewing machine can do FMQ on a large scale. In long arm quilting quilts are put on a frame and the quilter than moves the neck of the machine over sections of fabric at a time to create gorgeous and intricate designs. These machines can be prohibitively expensive for some but many long arm quilters find that by offering their services to other quilters they quickly pay off the cost of the machine. Sewing Machines Plus offers monthly payment plans and financing if you are thinking of getting one of these gorgeous machines. I’ve looked longingly at this King Quilter and this Juki Long Arm.

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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.
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!

Color Theory for Quilters

Color Theory for Quilters

Color Theory for QuiltersColor theory and scheme play an essential part in any design, and color choices are most important in planning any quilt. Choosing a color scheme that works for your quilt prevents muddy color or boring results from your hours of work.  You want quilts that both stand out and fit in, and the key to this is using color theory to your advantage. Using colors that work together as a quilting team in your design can enable you to do any or all of the following:

  • Achieve harmonious results using a wide array of many fabrics
  • Make some colors pop and others recede, to emphasize or unify block patterns
  • Design quilts to complement interiors without any clash, and without being boring
  • Have backgrounds that work well, rather than as competition to spoil design effects
  • Balance any design and make all your quilts sing
  • Add extra Oomph and Wow Factor, for perfect success

You can do all this with ease when you understand color theory and recognize the logical choices available.  We don’t have to reinvent the wheel, and so we can choose from a preselected menu of color scheme styles, or teams, that we know will always work wonderfully together.

The Color Wheel

Color theory and schemes

What are some of these tried-and-true color teams? Let’s look at them all:

Monochromatic

A monochromatic color scheme uses only one color, choosing from all shades and tones of that color. How many greens are in the garden, and all of nature? It feels like shades of blue are unlimited when you think of the many colors for sky and sea.  The brown palette includes all colors of dirt and soil layers, skin tones, fur shades, tree barks, and more. You could use hundreds of different fabrics in one quilt and stick to one color. Or limit yourself to less, if you like, but know that a monochromatic quilt is a viable option in any color. You can also use a monochromatic palette as an element of your quilt, rather than the whole thing. This trick will enable you to paint with your fabric and achieve dramatic landscapes or picturesque quilts.

Analogous

Analogous colors are next to each other in the color wheel.  You can choose a narrow or a wide analogous scheme. You could choose to use all shades of just red, orange, and what is between them, or include all the way to yellow for more contrast. Choose from the other side of the wheel using blues and indigos, or including violets. Or go with yellow, green, and blue, including everything in between them, or blue, purple, and red with shades in between these. There are a lot of options for analogous quilts. I made one using blues and indigo, I showed how to make it on this blog a while ago.

Complementary

Complementary colors really set each other off.

Complementary colors really set each other off.

Complementary colors are opposites on the color wheel. They go well together as natural pairs and seem to reflect their differences pleasingly. Complementary pairs are: red and green, blue and orange, yellow and purple, and more.  Indigo is between blue and purple, so its opposite shade is between yellow and orange. You could also choose two analogous colors and also use both color’s complementary colors. For example, I have never used indigo and violet with yellow and orange yellow as a color scheme, but I know that it would work well.

Triadic – primary, secondary and tertiary

The familiar primary color scheme of red, yellow, and blue is triadic. Triadic colors are evenly balanced and play well together without competition. The secondary triadic trio includes green, purple, and orange. Tertiary triads include indigo, red-orange, and yellow-green together, or yellow-orange, blue-green, and violet red. Remember that you can choose from different shades of each color. For example, the familiar pastel trio of pink, pale yellow, and light blue used so often for babies, is a just a lightened up version of the primary color triad.

This rainbow book of colors is one of my favorite gifts ever.

I used a Rainbow color scheme for the cover of this baby color book.

Rainbow

The rainbow color scheme includes, you guessed it, every color of the rainbow. Don’t leave any out; a rainbow palette must include red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and purple. You can decide for yourself whether to include the tertiary colors that fall between these or not. A rainbow scheme will work with or without these colors. A rainbow scheme always results in a vibrant quilt.

Warm and cool

Warm and Cool

Warm and Cool.

Warm colors range from red to yellow, like the colors of the sun. Browns and sands are included in this group, too. Cool colors go from blue-green to purple, like the seas and the skies, including at night. Warm colors advance; cool colors retreat. Cool colors separate and warm colors unify. Stars pieced from warm colors really pop against a cool background.  Pairing warm and cool colors differently can make dramatic differences in blocks, and changing this up may provide a lot of interest in repeating motifs.

Light and dark

This is the ultimate contrast, like black and white. Shapes are emphasized and the look is simple and uncluttered. Use your choice of colors for the light and dark pairing. You could choose light and dark shades of the same color or a complementary pair to contrast between light and dark, for example. While black and white can be starkly dramatic, this can also be downplayed in a light/dark combo by choosing a mix of lights and darks and gradating the tone.

Neutral

Natural colors: the seashore and shells; barks and stems; wood; dried grasses; crinkly leaves; skin-tones; rocks and soil. Grays like the sky sometimes and clouds, or concrete, and silvery steel. Creams, ivories, bone, and every shade of brown are all neutral colors. Neutrals can be light or dark. They are non-competitive, and help other colors. This is why they work so well as backgrounds. Neutrals are peaceful and offer support, so in general they are always welcome.

Traditional

A traditional quilt color scheme depends less on color than value. It is traditional to choose three colors for quilting: one that is dominant, one that is subordinate, and one as an accent. The dominant and subordinate colors play off each other, and the accent provides a pop. The red squares traditionally used as the centers of Log Cabin blocks both provide pop and serve to unify and define this classic design. You can use your dominant color to emphasize a repeating motif and the subordinate color as the background, sprinkling the accent color about to add sparkle and interest.

Scrap bag

It is a valid choice to use no color scheme at all and choose indiscriminately from among a plethora of colorful scraps. Scrap quilts, with their confetti of riotous colors, are endlessly pleasing, both to make and to look at. You can piece together a pleasing string or strip patchwork quilt by choosing blindly from an abundant scrap pile.

Choose a variety of fabrics

Color Theory for QuiltersYou can use a favorite fabric as a starting point to choose your scheme around, or you can begin choosing fabrics according to a predetermined scheme. The unlimited choices available to quilters are a big part of what makes quilt-making fun. You can increase your enjoyment in making any quilt by widening your variety of fabric choices. If you choose a triadic color scheme, for example, but then choose only one fabric of each color to complete your quilt, you may be bored by the lack of variety.  Choose several fabrics in each color to increase interest instead.

Don’t be daunted by color choices. Choose any one of these color schemes and your quilt is sure to be a success. I hope that you understand color theory now and that this has helped you.

Fabric Guidelines and Tips!

Fabric Guidelines and Tips!

I’ve written tips on this blog, and I’ve written about fabrics. Truthfully though, some of the most sensible pieces of advice I think you can give a person just diving into the world of sewing are about fabric. While it might be easy to fall into the mindset of simply looking for patterns and colors, there’s more to consider in regards to your fabric choices—particularly for those of us with potential baby-steps skills with sewing. Those details, as it were, can have severe impacts on the ease or difficulty of putting together your first quilt, pillow, shirt, etc. For this particular post, I’ll focus on one specific kind of project: Patchwork Quilts.

Running the risk of making this read like a high-school, three-point essay, I’ll still stick to my idea here in saying that there are at least three fabric details worth considering before beginning your first patchwork quilt: Type, stretchiness and size.

1) Type:

Can words honestly express how big of a deal the type of fabric you pick can be? Well, let’s look at it logically. Through Amazon, you can buy these pieces of material:

Which one, just by looks, seems to be the most agreeable to work with? If you chose the owl-including Door #2, you would be correct!

Of course, that was an easy example since lace just looks like it would be a pain, but even choosing silk or satin as your first fabrics could prove a regretted decision. They’re slick, and that easy-to-slide quality could lead to stitching that is too wavy to be precise.

A good first-fabric, in my opinion, is cotton. It’s simple, but it stays where you put it more than silk or satin, which could lead to more accurate stitching with less hassle. A better product that’s simpler to come by could be in your hands and on your sewing-resume just by picking the right fabric!

Another detail worth considering in type is *you* personally. Example: I have potential issues with polyester—like sneezing—so that’s probably not the way I should go!

Some fabrics have more give than others seem to have.

Some fabrics have more give than others seem to have.

2) Stretchiness:

Some fabrics have more give than others seem to have. That doesn’t mean you should necessarily rule out every piece of material for the rest of your life that has a stretchy quality, but it’s something worth noting as you pick out fabrics. If you’re making a quilt, a stretchy piece of material that’s beneath a non-stretchy one could be an issue.

Example: If Block A is non-stretchy and is above stretchy Block B, the end result could be that Block B *has* to be stretched out to match Block A’s size. Say you measured Block B’s fabric by *having* it stretched out. That decision, if your blocks are the same size, would lead to the need to keep Block B’s fabric stretched for it to reach the same end-line as Block A. That, in turn, could lead to a scrunchy detail for your quilt that you don’t care for because the material condensed back into its original form.

Trust me! Few things are as disappointing on a quilt you made as seeing lines that are obviously not straight and blocks that are clearly mismatched in size! Speaking of size…

3) Size:

Last but not least, the size of your material matters, and I’m not talking about how much you get from your fabric store. I’m talking about block sizes. It really pays to think about where you want your overall product to go, and in two particular ways for this idea: How complex you want your product to appear, and how difficult you want your journey toward a final product to be. Once you find the answers to those questions, you might be closer to deciding on a block size for your patchwork quilt.

For instance, if you want something that looks really complex, smaller pieces of material might be your friend. Think of it like a puzzle. If your puzzle has one hundred pieces, you might have an easier, quicker time finishing it than a puzzle with fifteen hundred pieces, but the fifteen-hundred-piece product might look more impressive to someone who notices it. It’s the same principle with patchwork quilts. Even though tiny squares can look impressive, there’s more time that goes into making smaller squares into that large final product. It might look better if you get it right, but be ready for some effort!

If you want something that’s easier, you might think of having larger squares—like ten inches. The final product could look particularly amateurish though *because* the quilt squares are so large. Without some kind of embellishment for the patches, the simplicity might make your product seem less impressive.

For those reasons, you might want to decide on a combination of impressiveness and ease for your first quilt—maybe 8 inches. They’re large enough blocks to be easy to work with, but with the material that would be taken up while sewing the patches together, the final product might look more professional. Sounds like a potential win/win!

One final tip about size: Once you select one, you might think of buying pre-cut fabric squares in that size for your quilt. It’ll ease up your first-quilt process, and maybe you can get enough confidence with their help to give you fuel to keep going in your quilting journey!

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!