Improv piecing

Summer is marching along. I can’t believe it’s already the end of June!  This week in my snippets of time at the sewing machine I worked on some improv Bee blocks for my friend, Pink.

I rarely sit down to improv piece, but I always thoroughly enjoy it when I finally do.  It’s such a liberating process. And so perfect for summer where you can just put down and pick up again without having to remember where I was or precisely what size pieces I need to cut.

Improv piecing is basically just choosing random sized pieces, sewing them together, and adding more as you go.  Nicole of Mama Love Quilts has a great post about improv piecing here as well as one by Jennifer as a guest post at Sew We Quilt.
It’s such a liberating process. And such a great way to use up scraps too. I’m resolved to do more of it in the future.

Speaking of improv, I’ve found a great way to keep the kids entertained this summer. The answer is: duct tape.  We’ve bought multiple colorful rolls at WalMart, including camouflage and leopard prints (which sadly were all used up by the time this picture was taken.)  Most of the time they are creating stuff on their own, which has bought me some additional moments of snatched sewing time.  But then every once in a while I have moments that worry me a little like finding make-shift Quidditch hoops taped in front the large mirror in the front room or hearing  “Let’s go outside and catch bees. With duct tape…”

Shape Workshop for Quilters Review and Giveaway

I was so excited when publishers at Lark Crafts asked if I would like to review the new book Fat Quarterly Shape Workshop for Quiltersby the talented Fat Quarterly team. Just looking at the cover, I knew this would be an inspiring book.
And guess what? I was totally right.
(I love when that happens.)
And yet, this book is different than any other quilt-book I have.  It’s not only a collection of quilt patterns, but a huge selection of quilt blocks – 60! – to get your own creative juices flowing.  The book is divided into different sections by shape/motif and then includes a bunch of new blocks, plus a couple of patterns using that motif.

Many of the blocks are so unique too – which I think is really hard to do in quilting. Most quilt blocks are variations on variations of things we’ve seen and used before.  This time there is such an amazing assortment of new and different looks.

The other thing I liked is that this book has something for everyone.  For beginners, it really is a workshop – teaching basics of piecing, applique, and so on, but there is so much room for growth and there are some fabulous projects and blocks using new techniques and designs.  These projects will definitely help your skills improve and push your skills further, even if you are an experienced quilter.

I have a few offerings for you today. One is a free download of a very cool block designed by Brioni Greenberg. (I got the chance to meet Brioni at Market and she was such a lovely person. Plus, she has that wonderful Yorkshire accent – I could have listened to her talk for hours.)  CLICK HERE to get the free download pattern and CLICK HERE to get the corresponding Template.

Also, Lark Crafts is giving away a copy of Fat Quarterly Shape Workshop for Quilters to one of you lucky readers. All you need to do is leave one comment on this post. Giveaway open until Saturday, June 30 at midnight MST.  I will randomly select a winner.  

Winner: bruinbrJune 26, 2012 11:41 AM
I totally thought it was a book of patterns! Nice to know it’s actually blocks! Fun! Thanks for the giveaway! 

For other reviews and chances to win, you can stop at these blogs as well.
6/28 Amy’s Creative Side:
7/3 A La Mode Fabric:
7/6 It’s Sew Kiki!:
7/10 Craft Buds!:
7/12 Craft Foxes:
7/16 {sew} Allegorical: <
7/18 Wrap-up Party at!

Portable Ironing Table and summer sewing

I am feeling more productive than I thought I would this summer. It’s kind of a pleasant surprise.  And it may not last all summer, but I’m taking it in snatches when I can. My goal is to make a dent in my never ending pile of WIP’s (Works In Progress). I’m even quilting a new project myself.  It’s the one I started way back in March.  I’m going to write a pattern for this one, so stay tuned. 

I’m also piecing my Family Tree quilt borders. I did the name stitching on a road trip last winter, and I’m going to try and do some hand quilting during a road trip this summer.  I love pulling out my fabric favorites that remind me of my children for this scrappy border.

For me, the key to productive summer-time sewing is setting up at the kitchen table. It makes for more of a mess, but it’s the only way I can take those short snatches of time to get something done and still keep a pulse on what’s going on, re-supply the popsicles, turn on the hose for the slip’n’slide, etc.  The best addition for keeping my mess under control is my new portable ironing board that my super-awesome friend Diane, helped me to make.  (Hi Diane!)

It’s a TV tray that’s been specially covered to create a surface suitable for ironing! I’ve wanted to make one of these for years, but never got my act, or my supplies, together to actually make one.  Here you can see super-Diane holding my hand through the process (or actually doing most of the work for me, ahem.)  I love it! Even folded up it looks so much more attractive than my big ironing board.  You can learn how to make one yourself from Oh Fransson. The American Quilting girls also posted some tips and pictures from creating their own. It’s so much easier and cheaper than I thought. I highly recommend one.

Girly Scooter Quilt

Some pictures of a quilt that has been in the works for a long while. This quilt was made for American Quilting, a local quilt shop where I used to work and where I still make occasional samples.
There were a few of those Sherbert Pips scooters and dogs left even though most of the collection was gone, so I decided it would be fun to make a girly, patchwork, throw quilt using those prints and adding some other pink, red, gray and turquoise. 
The quilting on this quilt was done by Meridy Palmer who also works at American Quilting. She used a light pink thread and big double loops.  The quilt is so snuggly now that it’s finished and washed.
The binding is from Aneela Hoey’s latest collection, A Walk in the Woods.  I love how it works on the bias.
I got to help at the store last week during a local Shop Hop and it was fun to be back, cutting fabric and talking to nice friends again, and being sorely tempted by all the new bolts of pretty fabric. It was also fun to see this quilt hanging on the wall.  
There are a few kits for this quilt still available at the store. The finished quilt measures 55″ x 77″.  The kit costs $84 and includes pre-cut and pre-stacked squares, ready to pick-up and start sewing.  Borders and binding fabric are also included. Backing requires an additional 3 3/4 yards.  You can see other currently available kits from American Quilting here. To order, call the shop 801-802-7841.
Also, the winner of the Dresden ruler has been posted, finally. (Sorry for the delay. That’s summer + a holiday weekend + a marathon dance recital Monday for you). Thanks for your patience, and thanks so much for the dresden quilt love!! It means so much and I’m so thrilled that people liked it. And with it being summer, I can’t possibly so an adequate job of thanking you individually, so here is a giant, collective thank you! 

Sponsored Giveaway from Southern Fabrics

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I’m excited to announce a GIVEAWAY today from one of my sponsors, Southern Fabrics. Southern Fabrics started selling fabric online 7 years ago and has shipped orders all over the world. They specialize in the latest from Moda, Riley Blake, Free Spirit and Westminster fabrics.
One of my favorites of their latest additions is Lucy’s Crab Shack. The bikes are so awesome, but I love those bias plaids especially – in every color way! Other new collections include Serenade and Blitzen. Also a great selection of pre-cuts from the latest collections as well as Bella Solids.
Be sure to check out their shipping prices, which are awesome.
You can check out Southern Fabrics at their site as well as follow them on Facebook, which I highly recommend because not only will you find out about their latest arrivals, Aubrey will also frequently announce awesome one-day sales (sometimes as much as 50% off!) 
Today Southern Fabrics is giving away a bundle of four 1/2yard cuts from Kate Spain’s newest collection, Serenade. (Two total yards of fabric!)
For an opportunity to win this pretty bunch of fabric visit Southern Fabrics and leave a comment on this post sharing something that you love from her shop.
For a second entry, sign-up for Southern Fabrics’s newsletter (on their home page) and leave a second comment telling me that you’ve done so.
This giveaway will be open until Wednesday, June 20 at midnight MST. GIVEAWAY CLOSED.
Winner: chose #204:  Diann said… I love Vintage Modern.

Congratulations Diann!

‘Peppermint Pinwheel’ Dresden block tutorial

I’m so excited to be part of the Salt Lake Modern Quilt Guild’s EZ Dresden Challenge blog tour today.  
This Challenge is in honor of Darlene Zimmerman’s 20th anniversary of creating tools and rulers for EZ Quilting.  One of these classic tools is the Dresden ruler, used to cut wedge-shaped pieces typically to create a very traditional Dresden Plate block.  
Here is my own traditional Dresden quilt created a couple of years ago. (And still un-quilted, I might add. I should really work on that…) There are lots of excellent Dresden tutorials that show how simple it is to create this very classic block. It has been fun as part of this challenge to see the variety of other ways to use this ruler and how versatile this tool really is!
This is the block that I came up with, using Darlene’s Dresden ruler.  My pinwheel has a diameter of 16″, and here’s a brief tutorial for how I did it.  (I suggest reading the whole tutorial through before you start cutting and creating.)
Fabric requirements for one block: 
  • 1/4 yard striped fabric and 1/2 yard white fabric
Fabric requirements for 41″ x 60″ quilt above
  • 3 different 1/4 yards of striped fabrics
  • 2 1/4 yards white fabric
  • 1/4 yard border fabric
  • 3/8 yard binding
  • 1 3/4 yard backing

The short-cut trick for this block is using a striped fabric. You could, of course, piece strips and cut them with the Dresden ruler as well, if you want a custom stripe.  I used this stripe from Bonnie and Camille’s latest collection Vintage Modern.  The stripe print comes in three color ways, red, pink, and gray.  (You can find this fabric here, herehere or here.)  A 1/4 yard gave me exactly enough fabric for the colored wedges for 2 blocks. If you want a little leeway for mistakes, get 1/3 yard.
From your 1/4 yard, cut 5 pieces of fabric that look like this: with a dark stripe at the top and at the bottom. My piece is 9″ wide and just over 7″ high.  (Of course, you can use any striped fabric you like, just make sure there is a dark stripe at the top and the bottom to create this effect.)
I then cut my wedges 7″ long, so line-up the 7″ line at the top of the fabric and cut fabric into the wedge shape.
Turn the ruler upside down and cut a second wedge. Continue cutting wedges alternating the ruler’s direction.
You should be able to get 4 wedges across a 9″ wide piece of fabric. (As you can see, I trimmed off the ends at the bottom to make the wedge exactly 7″.  Hindsight, I would have just left the bottom edge intact, so don’t feel like to you have to trim off that little piece.)   
You will need 10 striped wedges and 10 white wedges per pinwheel block. Using a 1/4 yard each of the red, pink, and gray stripes I was able to get 20 wedges from each – enough for two blocks of each color.  From the white fabric I cut three 7″ x wof (width of fabric) strips and cut them into a total of 60 wedges – 10 for each of the six blocks.
Using one striped wedge and one white wedge sew them together in sets of two. Combine 8 of the sets into sets of 4 wedges. Combine 2 sets of 4 wedges with a set of 2 wedges to create a half circle, always keeping the striped wedge on the same side of the white wedge.
Repeat the process with remaining wedges to create a second half circle and sew the two half circles together to create a whole circle/pinwheel.
From remaining white fabric cut 6 squares 20.5″. Fold into quarters and crease the sides. Unfold.

Using the four creases as your guide, line up your pinwheel lines with the creases. You should have 5 wedges per quadrant.  Turn your raw edges under a 1/4″ and carefully press and pin in place. You can then hand applique the wheel block to the backing fabric. I just used my machine to sew the edges down.

Once your wheels are sewn down, square up your blocks to 20″. Assemble the blocks together 2 across by 3 down. Cut your outside border fabric into (5) 1 1/2″ strips and add to the outside edges. Quilt and bind as you desire.

Now is your turn to come up with a project using the EZ Dresden ruler and if you do so, you could enter to win some amazing prizes.  September 1-6th you can go to the SLMQG site and enter your projects. All the details are found on the Salt Lake Modern Quilt Guild site.

For more inspiration, check out these other sites for ideas: 
Don’t have a Dresden ruler of your own? You can buy one at most local quilt shops, directly from or from Amazon.  I also have one to give away! If you want the chance to win one, leave a comment on this post. GIVEAWAY CLOSED.

If you are looking for more Dresden inspiration check out these rainbow Dresden wheels, my favorite Dresden quilt, and this Dresden circle pillow tutorial.