Patchwork Essentials: Minny Muu Prism Quilt

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Happy Tuesday! I have a recent quilt finish to share today. I finished this quilt in the Spring, and brought it home with me to Ohio in June to photograph. I love using my parent's white barn to hang my quilts, it's perfect. Nearly every time I go home I have a stack of quilts with me, waiting for photos.

For a few years now I've been collecting Minny Muu fabrics by Koko Seki for Lecien. There are new installments added to this collection once or twice a year. The prints are all teeny-tiny and seriously cute. I managed to snatch up fat-eighth bundles of Minny Muu Spring 2014, Spring 2015, and Fall 2015. I finally felt I should actually cut into them before buying any more!

I wanted to use up as much of the fat eighths as possible. I started planning and cutting out this project in the months after the release of my book, Patchwork Essentials: The Half-Square Triangle. I decided to re-make the Prism quilt using these fabrics.

Here is the original Prism quilt that I made that appears in my book! I used lots of jewel toned prints for this version. It was fun to mix it up for my new version with completely different colors.

I had more fabric than the original design called for, so I added three extra rows and two extra columns to use up every bit of my bundles. It seemed like the perfect idea at the time, but whoa! It made a really big quilt.

There was no way I could quilt something this big, so off it went to Melissa Kelley of Sew Shabby Quilting. I chose this sweet floral design, I felt like it fit the prints really well.

I originally planned to back this quilt in black and white gingham. Unfortunately I made a math error when ordering the backing and I was short by about 1/4 yard. I was super bummed, but didn't think the gingham would look good with a strip of something else pieced into it. So I set that backing aside for another day and picked up this Widescreen backing. This is the third color of this print I've used for backing and I love it. So easy to use and I like how low-key it is.

I had a really hard time choosing the binding. Since the front is pretty busy and print heavy, I knew I didn't want anything too flashy. Following the backing incident, I actually bought a print for the binding and ended up not liking it. Into the stash it went, and out came a long-loved cut of Heath in black by Alexander Henry.

This was one of those quilts that seemed to take forever to finish because I kept setting it aside to work on other things. I figured out the details of what I wanted to do, then let it sit for six months. Then I cut it out and let it sit. And so on. It felt so good when I finally pulled it out of the dryer. Now I can really enjoy all those adorable prints!

Happy Quilting!

My Custom Woven Labels

Monday, August 14, 2017

Happy Monday! Today I want to share my experience having custom labels made to use in my sewing projects. A few months ago I was contacted by Dutch Label Shop about trying out their labels. It was pretty serendipitous because I had just started thinking seriously about having some labels made.

Before we dive in: I was provided a credit from Dutch Label Shop to order my custom labels, so I paid very little out of pocket for my labels. That said, I was under no obligation to write this post, and would not have if I wasn't happy with my labels. Just wanted to be up front about that!

I've always been bad about properly labeling my projects, and I've started to feel more uneasy about it the more I make. In a perfect world, I'd make beautiful handmade labels with all the details for all my quilts, but I'm afraid we're past that point. I still don't know what to do about quilts I've already made, but I think I have found something that I'll actually do going forward. Enter custom woven labels.

Custom labels have been in the back of my mind for a long time, but I never really made it a priority to look into what it costs or where to order them from. Working with Dutch Label Shop was straightforward, and I was able to get a label that was exactly what I wanted. There are tons of different options for folded labels, flat labels, pretty much whatever you can think of. I knew I wanted something that I could use for quilts and other projects, so a sideways label with a fold was perfect for me.

At first it sounded too small, but I am so glad I sized my labels down during my design process. When sewn into a project my labels are 3/4" square. Tiny but mighty! I didn't want them to be huge, and I like that they aren't too obtrusive for bags and pillows too. I chose not to put anything on the back of the label, just my name/logo on the front. I added 1/4" of taffeta to each end which is the edge that's sewn into the seam allowance.

When I'm ready to stitch a label into a project, I find my spot and then baste it in place. Often times I'll pin the label flat to the project so that the finished side doesn't accidentally get caught in the seam. In hindsight, since I do made a lot of bags (which usually have a larger seam allowance), I probably should had done 1/2" or 3/8" of taffeta for the seam allowance. Since I'm basting them in place anyways, it's easy to mark out my 1/2" stitching line and place them accordingly.

I've been using my labels in most of my finished projects for the last two months, and I'm really happy with how they turned out. I went with my gut and kept them simple, just black and white, so they go with everything. My labels are the woven logo labels, which allowed me to upload my logo file and fully customize my labels. I put in all the information using their tool and then explained exactly what I had in mind in the comments box just to reiterate my choices. I got a photo proof, and they nailed it!

They also have a basic woven label tool that allows you to design your labels right on their website. You can add text and they have lots of cute sewing themed icons you can add too. Or use one of their pre-made templates. It doesn't have to be complicated!

Overall, I'm really pleased with how they turned out. I just finished a gift this weekend that has one sewn in, I'm so excited to give it! I feel like it not only adds a professional touch, but it's a little lasting note that says "Jeni made this!"

 Happy Making!

Waxed Canvas Backpack

Friday, August 11, 2017

Happy Friday! A few weeks ago at our annual cabin weekend, I had the chance to stitch up my friend Anna's newest pattern, the Range Backpack. It's now released into the world, so I can share mine!

I was excited to make this because of all the things I've sewn over the years, I've never made a backpack. I'm not sure if I would have ever made one, but I can always rely on Anna's patterns to be straightforward and fun so it was a no-brainer.

Initially I thought about using a canvas print from my stash, but decided to use waxed canvas instead. I loved working with it when I made Michael's duffle bag a few years ago. Plus, the waxed canvas doesn't have to be quilted or interfaced, so it's a win-win. I chose two fabrics from A.L. Frances, the spring green canvas for the exterior and the durango denim for the contrast bottom.

Cute little leather keychain made by Anna.

Since Jacey has to fly in for cabin weekend, I let her use my Janome. This meant that I was sewing on my Singer Featherweight. I'm not going to lie, I was nervous to stitch up a project like this on my featherweight. I'm happy to say it went great! The top-stitching isn't super neat, but considering I did the entire thing without a walking foot, I'm very happy with how it handled it. I did use a denim needle and polyester thread, as Anna recommends.

I decided to use webbing for the front closure and the straps. I'm lazy and I also love the look of webbing. I found some wide webbing on Etsy to use for the straps and used some webbing from Jacey for the front closure. I used all brass hardware, a metal zipper and a piece of leather for the hang loop. Anna has hardware kits available with different options for the metal finish and leather, here. So much easier than sourcing it all yourself!

The lining is my favorite print from Euclid by Carolyn Friedlander.

Custom labels from Dutch Label Shop.

When I finished my bag, I felt seriously accomplished. Not just because I conquered it on a tiny machine, but because it looks so sophisticated! It's always nice when projects turn out looking better than what you could buy in the store.

Find the Range Backpack Pattern, in Anna's shop, here.

Happy Sewing!

New Pattern: Giant Vintage Star Quilt

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Happy Tuesday! I'm excited to launch my newest pattern, the Giant Vintage Star Quilt. This quilt is one of my most popular tutorials, and it's six years old this month. After many requests over the years, I've finally turned it into a pattern!

If you'd like to learn more about working with vintage sheets, check out my post: How to Identify, Shop for and Sew with Vintage Sheets

In the pattern you'll find instructions for the original throw size quilt (it's 68" square), plus instructions for a baby quilt and a pillow.

I've broken down the fabric requirements for each project by the number of fabrics you'd like to use for the star. You can use 16, 8, 4, 2, or a single fabric for your star. It's nice and easy to customize your project depending on the fabric you're using. There is also a coloring page to help you plan your colors and lay out your quilt!

The original tutorial won't be going anywhere. It was fun to refine the idea and build on it with additional projects for the pattern version. My pattern writing skills have come a long way in six years, so I hope you'll find the pattern even easier to follow! This is such a quick and satisfying quilt, I know many of you have made it for gifts and charity projects. Let's take a look at the samples. All of these projects were made using vintage sheets from my stash.

Throw Quilt

This is the original quilt I made years ago. I used some of my very favorite sheets for this one! It's 68" square, a nice healthy throw size. I used 16 different fabrics for the star in a rainbow of colors. For more on the inspiration behind this design and this particular quilt, see this post.

Baby Quilt

When I made the decision to pursue this pattern I knew I wanted to add other size options, in particular a baby quilt size. This little quilt finishes at 36" square. This will be perfect for whipping up last minute gifts! I used 4 different fabrics for the star and kept it to cool colors. I've picked up a few "low volume" sheets over the years, they're fun to use along with such bright prints.


I made myself a big floor pillow a few months ago and I've used it a lot more than I expected to. So, a big 24" pillow seemed just the thing to make for this pattern. I used 2 different fabrics for the star. Not all pillow forms are created equally, so I did add some extra poly-fill stuffing to this one to make it nice and plump!

You can find the Giant Vintage Star Quilt Pattern in my online shop. It's available in PDF and paper formats.

Thank you for your support!

Happy Quilting!

Indigo Dyeing and a Batik Experiment

Friday, August 4, 2017

Last month I had the chance to do some more indigo dyeing! It's become a summer tradition, and I look forward to it each year.

This year, I thought it would be fun to try combining indigo dyeing with wax resists (batiking). I first tried wax resist techniques back in 2011, and always meant to do it again. Thankfully I held onto all the supplies.

This technique uses a combination of paraffin wax and beeswax. It's melted and kept at a stable temperature, so that it remains a liquid. The wax is then applied to the fabric using a variety of different tools and techniques. I like to keep things simple, so I stuck to cardboard stamps and a paintbrush for the most part.

It is time consuming and messy, but it's really fun. Once the wax dries on the fabric it is dyed. After that the wax is removed and the fabric is finished! I highly recommend Color Your Cloth by Malka Dubrawsky if you're interested in learning more about this technique. I have constantly pulled for this book year after year.

On the dyeing side, I've been using the Jacqard Indigo Kits for each of my indigo sessions over the last few years. For more information on dyeing, check out my Shibori Indigo Dyeing Tutorial. I find dyeing fabric so magical and these kits make it so easy. I think the key is going in without expectations. Often times you don't know how a resist will turn out, and even when you think you do, it can still surprise you!

In addition to the wax resisted pieces I dyed this year, I also used shibori resist techniques to dye two pieces of utility canvas and a piece of Kona white. At the last minute I threw in a piece of embroidered double gauze from a friend (thanks Anna!). I have before and after photos of each piece that I dyed below. For more of these, see my tutorial.

Machine embroidered piece with polyester thread. We weren't sure what kind of thread was used for the embroidery when it went into the bath, but the result tells me it wasn't cotton! The stitching stayed white, while the fabric took the dye.

Fabric was scrunched into big messy balls and then resisted with rubber bands.

Accordion folded, secured with clothespins.

This fabric was folded and then resisted with a square on the top and bottom held together with clamps.

Wax resist applied to fabric before dyeing.

Wax resist applied to fabric before dyeing.

Wax resist applied to fabric before dyeing.

Wax resist applied to fabric before dyeing.

I've got an indigo kit leftover from our retreat this year, so there will be another session for me later this summer. Lucky me!

Happy Dyeing!


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