Thursday, November 27, 2014

Vintage Quilt + Gratitude

This summer I received one of the funnest surprises in the mail - this gorgeous vintage quilt from my friend Cathy in Kansas. She makes quilts for people who really need them and I offered to send her some fabric for her good cause. In return she asked me if she could send me an old quilt that she had.
When the quilt arrived, I about died! It was so gorgeous and in amazing condition. I laid it on my floor so I could look at it while I worked that day. The pattern is Kansas Dugout and it is hand quilted, and probably hand-pieced. (Red Pepper Quilts has a free Kansas Dugout tutorial if you're feeling inspired.) My best guess is that it's 1940's-50's. (Feel free to weigh-in if you have an opinion.) I finally took it out to get some pictures a couple of weeks ago when I shot my Hadley quilt.
I love looking at the individual vintage fabrics. I think one of my favorite parts of old quilts is that the fabrics are so scrappy and random - not matchy-matchy at all - because they were legitimate scraps leftover from everyday sewing. And the effect is so great. Also, many of the vintage fabrics are really quite "modern" - check out that turquoise and chartreuse dahlia in the middle on the left. I'd love some of that one!
I think this picture is my favorite. I'm still a little blown away at Cathy's generosity. This quilt is such a treasure. So I thought it would be a perfect thing to share in honor Thanksgiving today. I have witnessed many generous acts over the past year that have touched and inspired me - most of them done privately and unselfishly. I guess I'm choosing this quilt as the symbol of that kind of love and generosity. It's amazing to see the ripple effects a kind and loving act has on so many people.
Before I sign off and wish you happy day of giving thanks and maybe gorging yourself on food (even if you're not American, feel free to take advantage of that opportunity), one of my favorite thoughts about gratitude: 

"Everyone’s situation is different, and the details of each life are unique. Nevertheless, I have learned that there is something that would take away the bitterness that may come into our lives. There is one thing we can do to make life sweeter, more joyful, even glorious.
We can be grateful!
It might sound contrary to the wisdom of the world to suggest that one who is burdened with sorrow should give thanks to God. But those who set aside the bottle of bitterness and lift instead the goblet of gratitude can find a purifying drink of healing, peace, and understanding." 
From Dieter F. Uchtdorf (full message here)

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Sales at Cuts Of Cotton

Cuts of Cotton is a fairly new online fabric shop that specializes in carrying "basics" - blenders, solids, and textured solids such as Yarn-dyed linens and a gorgeous selection of quilter's linen
The selection at Cuts of Cotton is searchable by designer, collection, and best of all, color. It's like going right to the color wall in your local fabric shop. There is also a pretty selection of pre-packaged as well as custom bundles.
Other basics include Kona Solids, Pearl Bracelets, and Architextures Cross Hatch in a variety of colors.

 Some new additions include Dear Stella's Calico basics in a variety of colors. Great blender!
And Cuts of Cotton is taking pre-orders on Carolyn Friedlander's newest collection, Doe which was getting a lot of buzz at Quilt Market. Cuts of Cotton is offering a 10% discount on preorders with the code DOE at check out. Discount good through Friday, Nov 28.
Also on special right now, all of their stock of Alissa Haight Carlton's Modern Basics II is on sale. (I just bought some myself!) I LOVE these 'solids' - which aren't really solids. They're a subtle crossweave, giving the colors more depth. They're so beautiful, and sadly, not being produced any more, so stock up while you can! Especially while they're on sale!

Cuts of Cotton will continue to grow and stock great basics. To keep up to date on their latest arrivals and current sales you could sign up for their email newsletter (scroll down to the bottom of any page on the C of C site) or follow them on Facebook, or Instagram.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Jolly Bars - Baby Quilt Tutorial

Today I'm sharing a really fun and simple free tutorial for a baby quilt using Jolly Bars - a bundle of 5" x 10" Moda pre-cuts that are exclusive to the Fat Quarter Shop. I'm using The Boat House collection, coming soon from Sweetwater for Moda.

This project makes a 40" x 42" quilt - perfect for a fun baby or crib quilt. I'm calling this design, "Stick-Shift."

Fabric requirements
  • 30 Jolly Bars (5" x 10" rectangles)
  • 30 white charm squares (5" x 5")
  • 1 1/4 yard backing. (If you're careful, the width of the fabric -selvage to selvage - should be wide enough for this quilt. If you'd like more wiggle room, get 2 yards and piece a back.)
  • 3/8 yard fabric for binding
I chose the darkest prints from the Jolly Bar bundle because I wanted to use the fabrics that would have the most contrast with the white squares. You could also cut some of the light prints into 5" x 5" squares and use them in place of some of the white squares.

Sew a white square to the end of the 30 5" x 10" rectangles. Just chain them through and it will go really quickly! Press seams toward the print fabric. Cut each new unit into two 2 1/2" x 14 1/2" strips. (See above)
Alternating directions, layout three rows of 20 of these units. (Here is what one row would look like. I suggest laying out all three rows so that you can play with fabric placement.)
Sew strip units together. When adding a new unit, use the previous units as a guide to match up the seams on the new addition. This will help keep your row straight.
Press the seams to the right on the first and third rows and to the left on the second row. This will help you match up seams by nesting the seam allowances when you sew the rows together.
Mine is only a quilt-top at the moment. I'll add pictures as soon as it's quilted and bound. I'm thinking some simple straight lines to accentuate the long, skinny strips.

Jolly Bars would also be perfect with this easy bricks quilt  tutorial I made for the Moda Bake Shop a few years ago:
Be sure to visit the Fat Quarter Shop blog, the Jolly Jabber to see lots of other ideas for using Jolly Bars! So many great options - plus links to other bloggers who have made a Jolly Bar creation.

Plus, the Fat Quarter Shop is giving away a Jolly Bar (your choice!) to one of you! Just leave a comment telling which one you'd choose. Giveaway open until Friday, Nov 28 at midnight MST. 

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Patchwork Tree Quilt Block Tutorial

Earlier this week I shared some little patchwork tree blocks I'd been making. I loved sewing them together into this little patchwork forest mini-quilt. The method for making this blocks is quick and fun and I'm going to show you how right now! (How exciting can life get?)
For my palette I chose a variety of greens in different shades and scales, to create interest and depth. I paired the greens with white-background prints and pulled in just a little bit of red. I like that it gives a hint of Christmas, while still letting the green and white be the dominant colors. You'll also need a few scraps of brown for the trunks.
Using this method you'll be making two tree blocks at the same time. First pick two contrasting fabrics. From each fabric cut a 4 1/2'' x 4 1/2'' square and two 2'' x 1 1/2'' rectangles. From the brown scraps cut two 1'' x 1 1/2'' rectangles.
Stack the two 4 1/2'' x 4 1/2'' squares on top of each other, with both right sides facing up. Using a ruler and a rotary cutter, cut one side of your 'tree shape. Pull the right side away and make a second diagonal cut to create a triangle 'tree' shape. Keep these pairs together, if you are mass-cutting your blocks at once.

You can cut all of your pairs the same way (such as 60 degree triangles) or you can cut each pair slightly different by cutting the triangles at different heights, angles, etc. I really loved giving the trees a little bit of personality and making them all different. This project is very 'improv' inspired, so have fun experimenting!
Using the original pair of squares, mix the white sides with the green 'tree' and the green side triangles with the white 'tree'. Lay the contrasting 'tree' triangle, right sides together and sew it to the left-side triangle. (Your first seam will always be the line of your second cut.) 

Make sure that the top tip of the 'tree' triangle extends 1/4'' beyond the top edge of the side triangle and sew a 1/4'' seam. Open up 'tree' piece and press seam allowance to one side.
Sew the second side-triangle to the other side of the 'tree' triangle.
Again, make sure the top triangle extends a 1/4'' beyond the top edge of the pieced block. Press seam to one side. Square-off the top edge of the block and the bottom edges of the background triangles so that they are even with the 'tree' bottom.
To add the trunk, sew the brown 'trunk' piece in between the two coordinating background prints. Press seams toward the brown.
Sew the trunk unit to the bottom of the tree unit. The trunk unit might be wider than the tree unit. That's okay- just center the trunk under your tree and sew it in place. Then square off sides of the finished block to make them straight edges. My blocks were squared to 3 3/4'' wide by 5'' long. Yours might be different. All that matters is that all of you blocks are the same size.  

You could change the scale on these blocks as much as you want by starting with bigger or smaller pieces of fabric. The versatility is endless and it's such an easy one to personalize.
I sewed 25 blocks into a mini quilt. My borders are 2 1/2" wide finished, but you can certainly make yours however you so desire. Remember, this doesn't need to be perfect. A little bit wonky and a little bit improv-y makes a statement too. Feel free to make it your own.
I quilted very simply just using straight lines to give the quilt texture, but not distract from the trees. (And because straight lines is all I really feel confident doing.)

I used a red micro-dot as the binding for this quilt to give a tiny bit more red to the design. I purposely made the binding small though, to keep it minimal.
These blocks could be used in all kinds of ways. They're SO quick to assemble that you could make a whole forest really quickly. I plan to make a couple more pillows or a table runner. I also made a block into a little mini patchwork tag/ornament.
I have a tutorial for the ornament assembly, as well as another little tree block over at the U-Create blog this week. Patchwork Tree Ornament tutorial here.

Since making mine, I'm noticing other little triangle trees pop up on Instagram and blogs. (Great minds!) Like this beautiful Fall Forest pattern and quilt-along at Little Blue Bell.
Have fun making them! And if you make some of your own share them on my Facebook page or tag them with the hashtag #holidaypatchworkforest. I'd love to see all the variations!


If you are looking for other simple sewing projects for Christmas you might be interested in one of these: Felt Snowflake, Easy Stocking, and a Star Quilt Block.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Sew Amazing Giveaway and Felt Gift Tags Tutorial

Today I’m over at Skip to My Lou as part of the Bake Craft Sew & Crochet Along. I am sharing a some fun ideas for using felt to make gift tags and ornaments perfect for holiday gift giving. In fact, you won’t want to miss all the handmade gift ideas! I have joined over 100 bloggers to share some amazing homemade gift ideas.

AND I get to be part of an amazing sewing giveaway too. Keep reading…

sewing giveaway 

This giveaway is sew AMAZING! Meet Rachel. Isn't she pretty?bake_craft_sew

One lucky winner will receive…

this amazing Baby Lock Sewing Machine ($799 Value)

Ready to take your sewing to the next level? The Baby Lock Rachel is the star of any sewing class, and she's here to help you. This computerized sewing machine is equipped with 50 stitches and push-button features to make every project easier. The value is $799. Click here for more details.
Skip To My Lou
This generous giveaway is made possible thanks to Skip to my Lou. Simply wait for RaffleCopter to load and enter there.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

I'll be sharing a few more holiday projects and tutorials this weekend so stay tuned!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

New Scraps pattern - Scraps Inc.

I love saving scraps and I love using scraps. So when I was asked about a year ago if I would like to contribute to a new book coming out dedicated entirely to quilts made from scraps, I jumped at the chance!
The book Scraps, Inc.Vol.1 just came out this month and it is full of great patterns from 15 different designers as well as tips for storing and using your own scraps. I love when I find a book that has a bunch of great patterns all together. This book definitely fits that qualification!
Here are a couple of my favorites, just to give you an idea of a the variety, but honestly it was so hard to pick just a couple! This Sunset Tiles quilt by Jeni Baker is definitely one I want to make. 
I also love this quilt, Overcast, by April Rosenthal. It's so unique, I think.
Here are a few other contributors after a book signing at Market last month. Seriously, such an honor to be in this company! Amy Friend, Susanne Woods, publisher of Lucky Spool, me, Amy Ellis (always lots of Amy's!), Sherri McConnell, and Susan Beal.
Here is my contribution. One of my all-time favorite ways to use up scraps is with a traditional log cabin or courthouse steps pattern. I wanted to come up with a slightly more modern twist by grouping my scraps into "warm" and "cool" colors, creating a secondary design in the process. (Which I've since learned is called Japanese Lanterns!)
For this project I really wanted to push myself out of my regular color comfort-zone (I've been trying to do that a lot more this year.) For me, that meant using purple - I hardly ever use purple in my quilts. My favorite method for organizing scraps is to sort them by color. I really dug through my scraps to find those bright, jewel-toned prints (I had to dig extra hard for the purples - but was excited that I actually had some good ones!) And I love the result - not to mention putting some of those unusual scraps to work! 
The quilting on this quilt was done by Melissa of Sew Shabby Quilting. I love the way it contributes to the overall look and feel of the quilt.
Speaking of scraps, I have a bundle of strips and scraps leftover from this quilt. I'd love to share them with one of you. If you're interested, leave a comment. I'll randomly select a winner this weekend.
The book Scraps Inc. Volume 1 is hitting shelves now. For a short time, Scraps Inc. is available directly from Lucky Spool for 30% off using the code SCRAPS30 here. If you're looking to add something for your Christmas wish list this year, I highly recommend this one!

Scraps winner; Jill PotkaleskyNovember 19, 2014 at 9:26 PM
Absolutely beautiful quilt! I'm in awe of it - the colors are so captivating. I can't wait to add this book to my collection and hopefully I can make something as special. :)