via French Knot
Just a few favorites from my quilt pinterest board. Its where I gaze longingly and dreamily scroll through when my lists of to do's are too long.
via French Knot
Just a few favorites from my quilt pinterest board. Its where I gaze longingly and dreamily scroll through when my lists of to do's are too long.
I get asked often if I ever sell any of my quilts. I never really have, and I'm not sure why. Honestly, I'm flattered just to be asked. Maybe it's hard to let go of them, they certainly labors of love. Truth be told, to make room for more quilts, I really should clear some space around here. So, I've opened a new shop, wise craft handmade, which will carry any original pieces whenever I have things available for sale (including the ornaments I am making for the holidays.) If you're ever interested in original pieces of any kind made by me, this shop is where you'll find that.
The wise craft handmade etsy shop will continue to carry PDF patterns (and look for more of those very soon!). Did you know that any PDF pattern purchased is available for download immediately after purchase? You may remember the old days ,when you had to wait for me to get to my computer and send you an email with the file attachment. Well, no more!
Both shops will have a permanent link on the navigation bar up above, directly under my blog banner.
Sign up for my mailing list to get seasonal updates via email.
Thank you all for your support! Happy Halloween!
I have been hard at work behind the scenes updating my 3 current pdf patterns. Sunshine Medallion Quilt, Friendship Bracelet Quilt, and Echo Star Quilt patterns. These newly updated versions contain even more helpful information, photos, illustrations, helpful links, speed piecing techniques (when it applies), with, last but not least, the new wise craft logo.
Each of these quilt patterns are fun and approachable designs for anyone who would like to try out a quilt project.
These are all available as instant downloads in my etsy store. If you have previously purchased one of these patterns from my etsy store and would like the updated version, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will get you the updated version.
From now on my etsy store will only carry downloadable patterns, and the good news is there are more on the way, so stay tuned!
Talking with Erin last week got me in the mood to some quilting, but I wasn't sure where to start. (By the way, there is still time to enter the QuiltEssential book giveaway!) Inspiration is always in my head, but too much and I'm frozen. So I decided to get back to basics. The disappearing nine patch block has been around for a while, but I wanted to document my process here. So many who claim to not have the skills to make a quilt could easily create this block, and its a very satisfying sew. I used a charm pack of Denyse Schmidt's newest line, Florence, 1/2 yard or so of one of the prints in this range that reminded me of boxer shorts (actually, the whole range reminds me of boxer shorts!). I wanted dark centers in each of the nine patch blocks, so I used another Denyse Schmidt print (coincidence, but all her prints do work together well) in dark blue for each of the centers. Making the center of each block darker valued will create some continuity later on, but this is not a hard and fast rule. You could make every single square in your nine patch blocks a different fabric. Play with low and high volume prints. Experiment! That's what this block is all about. Here's how to do it.
1. Create a basic nine patch block. Each of my squares are 5". Sew them together across, then sew the rows together. I made the stripe fabric happen four times within each block, in the same positions, with stripes always going vertical. If another stripe showed up beside it, like below top left, I turned the strips to go horizontal. There's a reason for this, which will make sense later on.
(Note: I press all my seams allowances open. All the time. It works for me and I get much better seam matching using this method.)
Sew up all your nine patch blocks this way before moving on.
2. Once these are done, you will cut them 2 times. (I know!) Cut them through the center, both vertically and horizontally, as below.
You will now have a very satisfying stack that looks something like this.
In the one below, the dark small square is positioned in the same spot in each vertical column-
Below, the individual blocks have been positioned to make a new, larger square of 4 different prints, with a darker block at each corner-
In the version below, the darker squares make the eye go in kind of a "step down" effect, almost like the mini-quilt I made a few weeks ago-
In this one, the darker squares are creating a vertical bar/rectangle effect-
Right now, I have the "step down" placement up on my design wall, I'm going to leave it there and see if I still like it tomorrow. (That's the great thing about a big design wall. Put something up, leave it there for a day or two, and see if it really makes your heart sing before you sew it all together.)
For me, right now, this one is in need of something, but I can't put my finger on it.
The striped areas are kind of doing what I wanted them to do, which is create a basketweave type effect.
Erin and I have known each other for a long time in blog world years, and she's a creative inspiration to me and many others. She seems to have limitless amounts of energy and she's fun to hang out with in person too! When she asked me to interview me for her first book, there wasn't a moment of hesitation. QuiltEssential, A Visual Directory of Contemporary Patterns, Fabrics, and Color is a quilter's first stop. Folks who know quilting from the "outside" may confused by the special language quilters have. And there is a special language, believe me. Erin covers lots of ground level techniques and terms in this book, giving the sewer the knowledge to know where and how to start. Beautiful photographs, inspiring images, and practical information sprinkled throughout the book. Everything you need to know to make your quilt your own is here.
And because I'm nosey, I asked Erin some questions about her book. And because she's nice, she agreed. Grab your coffee and settle in!
Blair: Congratulations on QuiltEssential! I am so glad you agreed to talk about the book with me!
Erin: For you, anything! Seriously, thanks for asking. I am excited to share more about QuiltEssential and how it came about.
Blair: Could you give us a synopsis of what QuiltEssential is about? Who is this book for?
Erin: QuiltEssential is a quick-reference directory for quilters. There are not any specific quilting projects in the book. Instead, QuiltEssential is divided into four sections (Fabrics, Colors, Designs and Assembling), which cover almost everything that you need to design and make your own quilt. I talk about color palettes, calculating yardage, fabric care, shapes, settings, different piecing methods and more! I also interviewed nine contemporary quilters (including you!) about their quilting stories to give my readers even more inspiration in their own quilting journeys. Because the book is a go-to reference manual on quilting, it is a great addition to almost any quilter’s library. It will be helpful to beginning quilters who need a lot of information at their fingertips as well as more experienced quilters who want to design and sew their own quilts.
Blair: The subject of quilting is so huge! There are lifetimes of information out there. How did you go about zeroing in on what you wanted to talk about in the book?
Erin: I know what you mean! There is always so much to read and learn when talking about quilts. When I thought about writing QuiltEssential, it was important to make sure that this book was unlike other quilting books out there. I thought about the kind of book that I would want to have on my shelf when working on a quilt design. I knew it needed to cover all areas of quilting, from the initial thoughts about colors and fabrics to the nitty-gritty math need to calculate yardage requirements and the like. I wanted to add some historic information about quilting styles as well as talk about quilting as it is today. Basically, I wanted to give quilters the tools they need to design their own quilts from start to finish in a format that provides easy access to concise information. I sincerely hope readers will find QuiltEssential to be a great addition to their quilting tool box.
Blair: Did you discover anything new about quilting while you were writing this book? Has writing QuiltEssential changed the way you quilt?
Erin: This is a great question! Writing QuiltEssential gave me good insight on just how varied modern quilting can be. It runs the gamut from collage and art quilts to traditional quilt settings and designs in more contemporary fabrics. I think my biggest take-away is that quilters today aren’t bound by fussy rules. Instead, they have the freedom to use tried and true techniques. And while I had heard this before, writing QuiltEssential made that sink in. It made me realize that I can look at quilting in the way that works for me, even if the methods I am using aren’t conventional or popular. As long as I like it, it’s good. As far as changing the way I quilt, I think breaking down the quilting process has made me more intentional in how I approach things. I’m spending much more time developing color palettes, thinking about shapes and figuring out the best way to make something I am dreaming about become reality. Case in point: the compass/star block I drafted and paper pieced recently. I spent a good deal of time contemplating how to do it and which fabrics to use before I actually sat down and did the sewing. With one block finished, I think I am going to stare at it for some time before taking it farther. I find this intentional design invigorating.
Blair: Writing a book is a fascinating subject all on its own. Can you give us a little insight into your experience writing this book? Was it what you imagined it would be? Completely different?
Erin: I don’t know what I thought it would be! I really just jumped in and got it done. That may sound flip, but I don’t mean it that way. Because QuiltEssential is a reference book, I did not have to manage writing with project making. I think that would be more difficult to juggle – my creative process when I am making is much messier and frantic than my writing process is. I was a History major in college and the hours spent writing long term papers really came in handy. I did find it funny that I still had to write every single thing down on paper with pen before I could begin typing it. I guess old habits die hard! I will say that I had always assumed that a book is written from page 1 until the end. It is such a surprise to me that I could write it in any order I wanted. And I did…the end was written well before the beginning!
Blair: What was the most stressful part of the whole bookwriting process? What the your favorite part of the process?
Erin: Stress? The deadlines! It’s no secret that I am a procrastinator AND that I domy best work under pressure. That said, I was very concerned that writing a book would bring out all of my bad habits and the bad behavior that ensueswhen I leave things until the last minute. It was important to me that when writing QuiltEssential, I gave myself parameters so that it wouldn’t overtake my entire life, and consequently, the lives of my husband and daughters. I made the rules, stuck to them and said no to many requests for my time. And because I prioritized the writing, I was successful in managing my time and making the deadlines. Phew!
As for my favorite part, I guess that it would have to be the sense of purpose that I had when writing the book. I’ve spent the last 14 years as a stay at home mom, and while I feel very blessed to have the luxury and opportunity to be home with Jane and Kate, the book had me using parts of my brain that I missed using daily. I hadn’t even realized that I was missing it – such a good thing to discover. I have a real pride in what I’ve accomplished with this book. Having an end goal and working toward it consistently and purposefully was very rewarding for me.
*Let me just interject that I know exactly what Erin is talking about here. I felt the same way as I've watched my own book become reality and watch my little cottage business grow. Raising and parenting kids is certainly a job and a hard one at that. So to be able to try something like this, which stretches us beyond our parenting frame of mind, and allows us to explore a passion like hand making, something we truly love, can create a sense of accomplishment that is unmatched!
(I am so honored to be one of the quilters profiled in QuiltEssential.)
Blair: I know that you, like myself, did the writing of your book from home, fitting it in around kid's schedules, family, etc. What worked for you on any given day? What didn't work? Can you tell us any tricks or things you found that kept you organized throughout the writing process?
Erin: During my first conversations with the publisher, I was very upfront about my need to be a mom and wife first and an author second. The number one rule that I had was that I would not write when my children were out of school. And that is exactly what I did. I started writing the book on the day my girls started the new school year in August 2012 and my final deadline (before editing) was the day they got out of school for Christmas break. I structured my days like I would if I were working for someone else, treating the book writing like any other job. After the kids went to school, I’d exercise and then it would be time to sit and work. I moved my computer from the kitchen to a desk on a second floor so I would have an office space. At lunch time, I’d leave the computer upstairs and go downto the kitchen to eat. I’d even turn on the TV for a half hour to give my brain a rest. Then it was back upstairs until the girls got off the bus or I needed to go getthem. Keeping myself on this schedule worked very well for me. I also learned to say no a lot – less coffee with friends, less volunteering at school. And while Imissed those opportunities, I knew that writing the book needed to be my primary focus when my family wasn’t around.
As far as actual process goes, I set goals and made lists at the beginning of each week and then worked towards completing them. I also found that I am a paper and pen girl at heart. Spreadsheets do not do it for me! Beyond writing in a notebook before typing, I did all of my editing on printouts of my first drafts and then transferred it to the computer. I also kept the writing organized by chapter in a three-ring binder so I could put my hands on a particular subject at a moment’s notice. The visual learner in me loved seeing that binder get fatter as the weeks went on!
Blair: Any advice for folks who may be interested in writing a craft/technique book? Where should they start? How should they approach it?
Erin: I think my story is a little different from other authors as I was approached to write QuiltEssential instead of seeking out the opportunity on my own. That said, once it was presented to me, I took some time to mull it over and researched whether it was a unique idea. I thought a lot about why I wanted to write this book and how I could make it something unlike other quilting books on the market. Once I felt confident that it was something that I wanted to do, I made the classic pros/cons list to see if it was really feasible for me. And it all added up to a good idea, good timing, and a genuine enthusiasm for the project. I discussed it with my husband and then jumped in.
I think that anyone wanting to write a craft/technique book needs to be passionate about what they are writing and should come at the subject with a unique point of view. That is what will make you and your idea stand out from others.
Erin, thank you for taking the time to talk about your book, QuiltEssential, and the process of writing it. I'm so honored to be a small part of it.
Erin and C&T Publishing has generously offered to give away one copy of QuiltEssential to wise craft readers. Just leave a comment on this post in order to be eligible (North America only).
So, the Sunshine Medallion quilt pattern. It's fun for me to revisit old patterns with fresh eyes, and I've been wanting to try this one in a completely different color palette for a while now. But the first palette of yellows, grays, and creams felt so right, I just wasn't sure what direction to go in with new colors. This dilemma was rolling around in my head at the same time I was going through a file cabinet in my studio. I came across an old image I'd torn from a Martha Stewart magazine. I haven't look in that folder in ages, but when I saw that tear sheet I knew I had my color palette.
Except for a plum and blue shot cotton, everything came from my stash. This time I made the crib size, which conveniently uses only 1 yard of each color.
For the back and binding, I used a printed fabric I'd bought secondhand several months ago. I fall hard for little ditsy flower patterns, and I especially love it on the back of such a modern-feeling quilt. Sort of a Holly-Hobby-meets-Jonathan-Adler-ish scenario.
I quilted this one in the same diagonal pattern as the original version, but machine-stitched this time, instead of hand-quilting.
I am in the process of updating the Sunshine Medallion Quilt downloadable pattern completely, with updated instructions, tips, links, and information. it should be back in the shop in the next couple of days. (For those who have purchased this digital pattern from me in the past and are interested in the updated version, please email me and I will send you a new copy when they are ready to go, I should have a record of your original purchase.)
Have a great weekend everyone! The kids have a 3 day weekend and I have a feeling we'll be in full Halloween costume-making mode.
Friend and fellow Seattle Modern Quilt Guild member Season Evans has a beautiful new collection of quilts. I am so in love with these quilts and was thrilled to hear that she will have an opening reception showcasing these pieces at Drygoods Design on Saturday, October 12 at 6pm. She was sweet enough to answer my prying questions about her work, and thought we'd all enjoy what she has to say.
Migration, Flying Geese Variation
Blair- What immediately came to my mind when I saw your new collection of quilts were the words "soft" and "strong". I love that they are quiet in their palette and design, yet graphically strong. How did you go about developing these new quilts? Are you a sketcher and a planner, or do you prefer to start sewing and playing with design all at the same time?
Season- I like your use of the words 'soft' and 'strong.' I've never quite articulated it that way. I'm attracted to juxtapositions and I tend to always have that in mind when I'm designing a quilt. I am definitely a planner. I like control - or, at least, starting out in control. I always draw out my quilts to scale on graph paper. Then, I cut and start constructing. Usually, at the constructing stage do I allow myself to 'let go' a bit. The "Red + White" quilt (pictured below)started out a completely different quilt on paper. I cut out all of the triangles, pieced most of them together, and then started to put them on my design wall. Just putting a few of the triangles on the wall made me realize I was heading in the wrong direction. So, I started over with the new pieces. The design wall can be a frightening and liberating quilting tool. I was constantly questioning the new design (with the R+W quilt) versus the original plan but I made the right choice at the time. There's always a chance I'll go back to the original. Plus, I have the rest of the pieces cut out.
Blair- I love the textiles you use for your quilts... the yukata cotton and linens in particular, they really give so much texture to the surface of your work. Do you have a large collection of fabrics? Or does the fabric- when you acquire it- help inspire the design?
Season- Texture has become increasingly important to how I think about quilts. I always want them to be soft enough to use; however, with my minimal use of color, I am always looking for more depth or interest, which the texture provides without adding too much more to the look of the quilt. Generally, I start out thinking about color. From there, I look for fabrics that fit my plan for the quilt and my personal taste. I don't keep a stash of fabrics. I do have some extra fabrics and a lot of scraps but I don't plan my quilts from them. For me, fabrics tend to come with a connotation. If I buy fabrics without having project in mind, the connotation becomes that moment. Then, as they sit in my stash, that connotation changes, then I change, and that may not match the idea I have for my next quilt.
Blair- There is a lot of negative space in your quilts, which can be made really special with the quilting you choose. Do you quilt all your own quilts?
Season- I do quilt my own quilts. I enjoy that part of the process but I find it one of the most difficult choices to make in designing a quilt. Because of the amount of negative space that I use in my quilts, I find that an all over quilt design usually doesn't fit my style. I try to use designs that highlight the graphics of the quilt as well as adding another layer of texture. The quilting a struggle for me because both the negative space and the design are both so important and I try to balance those in the quilting.
Blair- Where do you quilt, do you have a space that's all yours? Or a shared space?
Season- I've always quilted in a shared space. I used to dream of having a space of my own (and I'll admit sometimes I still do) but I like being around my family. We live in a older craftsman house with a lot of small rooms - we essentially have two small living rooms. We use the second living room as a space to share and create. My husband has his desk and computer and my kids have all of their crafts and games in there, too. It's nice to have my daughters around when I'm working and they certainly have opinions about the quilts! I've begun to take up more and more of that room: a long folding table and one of the closets. My favorite part of the room is the picture rail. I hang my design wall there as well as finished quilt tops. It gives me a lot of room to take a step back and really see the quilt as a whole.
Blair- One of my many favorite aspects of your quilts are their backs. They are a surprise "punch" of pattern and color and I love that they work in contrast so well to the fronts. I know I often struggle with what the back of my quilts should be, sometimes I even feel like I'm designing a whole new quilt just for the back! What's your design process for this aspect of your quilts?
Season- I, too, feel like I'm designing a new quilt on the back! The quilt backs are where I let myself lose a little bit of control. I always start with color, particularly the main color of the quilt top, and then build out from there. For the "Migration" quilt, I started with the vintage yukata cotton. The horizontal blue stripe was a good contrast to the vertical lines of the front. From that print I pulled the browns, etc. The back is also where I add a lot of textured fabrics. I generally just piece larger blocks of color together like Tetris or a puzzle until everything seems to fit.
Blair- Who and what are your inspirations?
Season- I grew up in Southeastern Pennsylvania, surrounded by Mennonite and Amish communities. My grandmother taught me to sew when I was about eight but I didn't teach myself to quilt until I was in college. I went to college in rural Pennsylvania, where quilts could be bought out of barns and roadside stands. The juxtaposition of simple beauty and utilitarian craftsmanship of those traditional quilts and quilting style was very influential and continues to be. After college, I left quilting for writing, but returned to quilting when I had my oldest daughter. I was living in Philadelphia at the time and still thought I could only quilt with calicos. I discovered Denyse Schmidt about the same time that a Gees Bend exhibit came to the Philadelphia Museum of Art. That was when I realized I was in a bit of quilting bubble - so much more was happening with quilting, fabric, and their relationship to art and design. When I moved to Seattle, I discovered the Modern Quilt Guild. (My local chapter is a constant source of inspiration - I am fortunate to be able to sew with so many talented quilters.) I'm continually inspired modern quilters/quilt artists: Yoshiko Jinzenji, Maura Ambrose, Luke Haynes, Lindsay Stead, Meg Callahan, and Kathryn Clark are people who can do amazing things with fabric. Yet, when I'm thinking about a quilt design I can't help but go back to my more traditional influences.
Thank you so much Season!
This was a fun project I've been working on, in those spare moments when my hands were idle but time was limited. A mini-quilt (17 1/2" x 21), done in step-down piecing, a fun patchwork technique to learn. It is clearly explained in Sarah Fielke's book Quilting From Little Things... As the name implies, there isn't really any way to piece this pattern straight across or straight up and down, so you "step down" piece by leaving a seam half sewn until you fit the next piece in. Sarah explains it much better than that. A fun project if you enjoy any kind of puzzles (and I do). I hand quilted the X's with various colors of perle cotton.
As I was working on this, I have-jokingly referred to it as "the state of my desk".
Actually that's not really a joke at all.
Please notice my razor sharp binding corners...
Please pardon the lapse in regular postings while I get two kids ready for new schools (middle and high school, people!) in just a matter of days. We are back to school shopping, cleaning out closets, going to orientations, and trying to get the last bits out of our summer.
But in the midst of it all I did finish a quilt!
Don't ask me why I had this idea...to make some sort of Halloween-inspired type of quilt...for years. But I have. I'm not even all that crazy about Halloween. I could actually take it or leave it. I know so many that live for Halloween. Maybe that's why I wanted to do a quilt. Decorating for a holiday like Halloween is the best part of it for me.
Anyway, all the Halloween fabric currently out in the market didn't feel quite right, and I didn't want to do just solids, so I've put it off for a long time. And then I came across Alexander Henry's Midnight Pastoral. I suddenly dropped everything I was working on and began furiously searching the internet to find enough of the black/cream to make something, anything (local shops didn't seem to have it). I go weak for a good toile, in most of its forms. But this. THIS!
I wanted the quilt to feel a little formal, with consistent structure to the blocks, and still feature the toile pattern as much as possible. And be fairly quick to go together too! This is just a very simple snowball block. The toile was cut into 6 1/2 " squares, a size which featured most of the pastoral scenes wells. At first, I fussy cut (carefully cut out specific areas of the print) to keep the images in the center of the block, but later gave up on that to save fabric I later and just started to cut across the width, not thinking about where the print fell within each block. Because of that, there are blocks with lots more of the cream ground and I like the movement it gives throughout the quilt top.
But even within it's structure, this quilt needed some lightness too; Day of the Dead/Dia de los Muertos is a celebration, after all. And that's where the Kona solids in Halloween/Fall/Day of the Dead-inspired colors came in. I drew a simple graph to color in and used it to distribute the colors throughout the quilt. (Those Kona color cards are so handy.)