Quilts in a Barn?

This past Saturday I went to a quilt show in a barn. Yup. But this was no ordinary barn – it was a newer show barn built on a beautiful, century-old estate.  This is an annual quilt show put on by a local group of women as a fundraiser for The Road Home – a local homeless shelter.
So I thought I’d share a little bit of what I saw.  
A charming setting for a lot of lovely quilts.
 Some good circle inspiration now that I have my circle die cut!

 You know me: drawn to the vintage looking stuff.
 These little appliqué flowers were so sweet.
 There was also a craft market with proceeds going to the cause as well.
Love the fabric on that first apron!

 These guys (Shetland Ponies) were made homeless themselves while the quilts overtook their quarters. But they seemed plenty happy basking in the warm sunny day and posing for pictures.

Lovely fall decor, including a live goat who happened to be consuming some of the fall decor. Presumably no quilts were consumed or harmed by small domesticated farm animals in the production of this charitable fundraiser.

Quilt Along Series: Cutting Fabric

Part 4 of the Beginning Quilting Series

Grab your rotary cutters! (Wait! Please make sure the safety thingy is in place first!) Cutting fabric. Does it scare the heck out of you? Hopefully from this day on you will wield a rotary-cutter with confidence.
Rotary cutters have made cutting fabric much more accurate and efficient.  I love my rotary cutter. Be careful though – those blades are sharp.  Make it a habit to keep the safety cover in position and the cutter hidden away from curious small people.
An important – and sometimes over-looked – aspect of cutting fabric is squaring-up the fabric edges before you start hacking-off strips or squares. Sometimes the fabric is wound funny on the bolt or the busy fabric-store worker may just randomly hack off your yardage.  Above is a piece that I brought home from the fabric shop. When I stopped to match-up the selvage edges I found out how off it was.
Before you start cutting:
  • Match-up selvage edges
  • Press the fabric. This may include re-pressing the center fold if the fabric was stretched out of place.
  • A light mist of spray starch can also keep things crisp and help with accuracy.
After fabric is pressed and lined-up nicely we want to trim any uneven or frayed edges so we start cutting with a clean, square edge. (Why all the fuss? What happens if we don’t square-up the edges? Your strips will end up in a useless v-shape instead of a straight line.)
  • 1- Line up center fold with a straight line on the cutting mat
  • 2- Use rotary cutter to trim off the uneven edge
  • 3- Line up a straight line on the ruler with folded edge to make sure your strip is square
  • 4- Now you’re ready to cut your first strip at the desired width.  Whenever possible, use your ruler (not the grid on the mat) to measure the width of the strip. Place the ruler over the fabric at the desired width.
When using the ruler and rotary cutter, hold the ruler in place with a wide, steady hand. Make sure your finger is not hanging over the edge of the ruler. (Trust me on this one. Blood on nice fabric is not pretty.) Cutting while standing will give you more control.
There are other helps to keep your ruler from sliding around.  The Notions department at the fabric store sells little sandpaper dots you can stick on the back of your ruler. I use Nexcare Flexible Clear Tape on the bottom of my ruler. I like it  because it’s cheap and clear.
Grip the rotary cutter firmly and push it away from your body like a pizza cutter. Be sure to put pressure on the cutter so that it goes through all layers of fabric and keep the blade right next to the edge of the ruler. (The above demo is obviously for right handed folks.  Reverse the image if you are left handed.)
If all this seems like a lot to keep track of, remember, the more you do it, the faster it will get and the more it will become automatic. But don’t be afraid to take it slow at first and remember the old carpenter’s rule: measure twice, cut once. Double check your ruler before you start slicing!
For our Quilt Along project, we are going to need these cut pieces:
  • 81 – 4 ½” (4″ finished) squares. You should be able to get 9 squares out of  1/8th yard. (Or 64 5″ squares if you are using a Charm Pack.)
  • 4 – 3 ½” strips for border fabric.
  • 4 – 2 ½” strips for binding fabric. (see photo at the top.)
I am using different fabrics for my border and binding (in my case yellow pin stripe for borders and red alphabet print for binding), but you could use the same fabrics if you want. For this quilt I would go with a smaller print or solid for borders to frame the patchwork part of the quilt -especially if the squares are busy. Also keep in mind that the border fabric will become the dominant color of the quilt so go with the color you like best.

Up next Tuesday in our Quilt Along Series: Piecing Squares

Originally posted at Make and Takes

Accuquilt Go! Cutter Review

 I was recently give the opportunity to test drive an Accuquilt Go! Cutter.

Bee Blocks

 A few recent Bee Blocks that I never posted.
These spiderweb blocks are for Natalie of Beyond the Reef. I’ve always wanted to try the spider web block. My work is not perfect (sorry to be your guinea pig, Natalie).  Part of my defense is that I was blinded by her amazing choice of fabrics. Lots of Denyse Schmidt, a little Joel Dewberry – and they all looked so cool with that charcoal gray to set them off!  You can see some of the blocks assembled here.
This quilt-as-you-go block is for Erica of Crafty Blossom.  Again, my first time trying a new technique I’ve been eyeing and admiring for a while now. This is based on Penny’s Quilt-as-you-go tutorial, which is great. Erica sent lots of vintage fabrics which also made it very fun.  I even added a small piece of my own vintage fabric find. Can you spot it?
I think every bee block I’ve done has been a total pleasure.  I’ve tried blocks that I’ve had my eye on without having to commit to a whole quilt. And I got to play with other people’s cool fabric.  My month is coming up in November. Which means I need to finally decide what I want to do. Clearly I have commitment issues.
PS If you want to see other quilt-as-you-go awesomeness check out Heather at Alamodefabric.

The Quilt Pattern is finally ready!

Remember this quilt? 

First off – thank you for all the kind wishes you extended to my friend. It’s clear that most of us have been affected by issues with neurological disorders – either ourselves or someone we love. I hope that we can all continue to be open and frank about the reality of those issues because I think that is what will bring the most healing and help in those difficult situations.

Second – thank you so much for the kind quilt love! I have to be honest – I wondered if anyone would even like this quilt because in my mind, it was rushed and imperfect. So thank you for the lovely boost to my self-esteem.

I found a copy of the picture with the throw pillow that inspired the quilt.  I was working against a fast approaching deadline (the wedding!), so I had to simplify the design a lot, but someday I still want to do something with as many borders, etc. as that design has. Mmmm… the wheels in my brain are turning . . .
Finally- thanks for the awesome pattern name suggestions!! Some of my favorites included Plinko (by Jen O), aMAZEing Grace (by Gremma), and Life is Like a Box of Chocolates (by quilter girl).  But the one I finally chose was Chain Linked suggested by Kacey. Love it! Catchy and memorable. Kacey, send me an email and I’ll send you a copy of the pattern!
Kacey wasn’t the only person who mentioned ‘links’. (But she was the first to suggest Chain Linked.) So all you other Link-inspired people (Rhonda, Marcia, Erin, Mary, Sooz and Alice R.) the pattern is yours at half-price. Send me an email and I’ll tell you what to do.
Chain Linked by Amy Smart is now officially available for purchase for $8.00
in downloadable .pdf format.

  • The finished quilt measures 61″ x 82″. (Would be very simple to make bigger by adding borders or additional blocks.)
  • This quilt is definitely falls in the “amaze and astound your friends category” because it’s very simple to put together; it only looks much more complicated than it really is. 
  • This pattern is Charm Pack friendly – you don’t need a huge stash to achieve the multi-fabric look.
  • Solids require about 2 yards each of a dark and light fabric. Details in the pattern.

This pattern consists of  4-pages of color instructions.  The pattern can be purchased by clicking on the Buy Now button above. It will also be available in my new Pattern Shop.  (See button over there —>? Towards the top??)  I will also list it in my etsy shop, but it’s cheaper if you buy it here.  The pattern will be emailed as soon as payment clears.  Please let me know if there is interest in a hard-copy version and I will list that too.

Many thanks again for your encouragement.  I don’t know if I would have had the guts to go forward with this  whole pattern business with out it.  Thanks also to Quilt Story for featuring this quilt and its story this week.

How to work with Quilt Patterns

When looking for a quilt design, there are a myriad of quilt pattern options to choose from. That can be a little overwhelming. Here are a few basics that might help.  Most quilting patterns have some things in common: A list of fabric requirements and directions for cutting the fabric, assembling the pieces, and laying out the quilt. 
Some tips to consider when working with most quilt patterns:
  • It’s a good idea to read the pattern all the way through before you start cutting into your fabric or sewing – helps to get ‘the big picture’ of the project.
  • Some patterns give experience levels such as Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced. Start with something simple for your first projects and save the more advanced designs after you’ve gained some confidence. Saves some possible frustration.
  • Patterns can be found individually packaged, in books, magazines or online. ModaBakeShop.com andFreeQuiltPatterns.info among others are great resources for free quilt patterns and tutorials.
One of the fun aspects of quilting is coming up with your own design. Some things to consider:
  • Graph paper and a ruler are helpful tools.
  • Keep in mind the basic rule of quilting: always sew with a ¼” seam allowance. (This might seem really small if you are used to sewing clothes.)  Therefore, you need to add that seam allowance on to all four sides of your shape.
For example, if you want to make a quilt out of 4” squares, you need to allow ¼” of fabric on all sides of the square for the seam allowance. This means you need to cut a 4 ½” square.  If you want to create a 4” block out of four different squares you want four 2”finished squares, which means you will need four 2 ½” squares. This will create an unfinished block at 4 ½” and a finished block at 4”.
Yes, quilting does require math. (See? Your elementary school teacher was right!) I look at it as a way to keep my brain from total atrophy and an effort to stave-off Alzheimers.
For this project, as we continue on our Quilt Along, we are going to make a baby quilt measuring 42″ x 42″ using 81 4″ squares with 3″ wide borders on all sides. Therefore we are going to cut 81 4½”squares. The quilt will be laid out 9 x 9 squares.
Fabric requirements are:
  • nine 1/8th yard pieces for blocks
Most stores will cut 1/8th yard pieces, but not all. Might be a good idea to ask first. I am using 10 different fabrics because I want two prints in each color, so I’m getting ten 1/8th yard pieces. Because I’m nerdy like that. If it’s easier, you can use 5 ¼ yard pieces. Just depends how many different fabrics you want in your quilt.
  • ½ yard for border
  • 3/8 yard for binding (this is the outside edge that finishes the quilt)
  • 1 ¼ yards for back
[If you choose to use Charm Packs instead of cutting your own fabric squares: these squares come pre-cut at 5″. You will need 2 Charm Packs. You can either cut them down to 4 ½” squares and use 81 squares like the quilt above, or you can leave them at 5″ and will only need 64 squares for a quilt layout of 8 x 8 squares. Either option works. Everything else will be the same: sewing, borders, quilting, etc.]
Up next Tuesday in our Quilt Along Series: Cutting Fabric
In other random thoughts:  
I’m quite pleased with the result.  But now I need an autumnish quilt.  I have scraps left over (and more fabric) and I think I’d like to make one like Denyse Schmidt’s string quilts. A new project to add to the bottomless list! A couple of weeks ago I taught a Table Runner class based on the infamous Table Runner tutorial. (I love quilt/sewing classes. It’s so fun to visit with other women and sew at the same time.) I decided it would be a good time to make a new autumnish table runner. I also like that it still looks good with my vintage turquoise pot-thingy.