Amanda's Fantastic Quilt Voyage

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Happy Tuesday! Today I have a special quilt finish to share. For the past year and a half I've been a part of a traveling quilt bee with some really lovely ladies. Our bee is called Fantastic Quilt Voyage, and you can see the blocks we've been making in the hashtag #fantasticquiltvoyage on Instagram. We each started our own quilt, and then it is passed along to each member and they add to it. I haven't posted any of the blocks I've made, but I did share my quilt start last February, in this post. I need to do a catch-up post with all the blocks I've made for each person's quilt at some point.

When my sweet friend Amanda became unable to finish her quilt, I offered to put it together and finish it for her. I happened to have her quilt to work on at the time, so it just made sense. Her quilt had a Buffy theme, so vampires and Amanda's signature black, white, red, navy, and a pop of aqua color scheme. You can see some of her inspiration here.

I brought the blocks that had been made so far with me to the retreat I attended at Stitch Supply Co. in January. I made a few blocks that weekend and a few friends made some blocks too.

Putting this quilt together was pretty outside of my comfort zone. I arranged the blocks out on the floor of my sewing room and started putting blocks together, adding to blocks and making more blocks to eventually put together a top with no obvious grid. I didn't remember to take photos of the blocks I made until the quilt was done, but that's okay! Here are my blocks:

I drafted up this interlocking plus block, I needed something big to fill that space!

I made a few blocks using Carolyn Friedlander's Sessoms pattern.

Some simple wonky cross blocks.

I made a Monty Python inspired crazy-eyed bunny using Elizabeth Hartman's Bunny Pattern.

I made use of scraps and made a few scrappy improv blocks.

I drew up with cross made from half-square triangles early on and was glad I could squeeze it in.

Extra pointy star block from my Shining Stars Sampler Pattern.

And finally some funky striped half-square triangle blocks.

In an effort to use my stash, I pieced the backing. I used a favorite print of Amanda's (from Luxe in Bloom by Sarah Watson) for the binding. I sent the top to Melissa of Sew Shabby Quilting for quilting. The crackle pattern seemed like a perfect match for the theme of this quilt.

I needed a way to transport the quilt and decided to make a set of pillowcases to go with it. This is my favorite way to gift quilts. Most quilts can fit comfortably folded up inside a pillowcase! I use this tutorial when I make pillowcases.

Jacey and I went out to visit Amanda this past month and we were able to give her the quilt in person! It was so fun to surprise her with the finished quilt! I have to admit, it was a bit nerve wracking working on this quilt. I wanted to make sure that I did everyone's blocks justice and that I stayed true to Amanda's vision. Based on her reaction when we gave it to her, it was a success! :)

Happy Quilting!


Friday, May 20, 2016

1. Bee Adventurous Quilt by GreenandBell, 2. Cirque16 by campbellhe1, 3. Mother Goose Quilt by Melissa, 4. Picnic Plaid by Marta Jost, 5. Transparency Quilt by Melissa, 6. Mighty Lucky Jan by Louise Wackerman, 7. Retirement Quilt by Carol, 8. Center Arrow Blocks by Lotje, 9. Striped Log Cabins by Debbie

Periodically, I go through my favorite photos on Flickr, and choose nine sewing/quilting related projects to showcase here. These photos and projects are not my own, you can find the original images and creators by clicking the coordinating links! If for any reason you do not want your project featured here, please email me and I'll remove it!

Happy Weekend!

Blockade Quilt Setting Tutorial

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Blockade Quilt Setting Tutorial - In Color Order
Happy Wednesday! I'm excited to bring you the second installment of a series of quilt settings to accompany my book, Patchwork Essentials: The Half-Square Triangle. I wanted to share something that would be a good add-on to the 60 Block Chart included in the book! The blocks in that section can be used in many ways, including in the final chapter of quilts in the book. You can find the first setting tutorial here: Over and Above Quilt Setting Tutorial.

See this quilt finished here.

Blockade Quilt Setting Tutorial - In Color Order
As I mentioned in the first tutorial, over the next few weeks/months I'll be sharing additional quilt settings (layouts!) that you could use with the 60 blocks from the block chart in my book, blocks from my Simply Sampled or Half-Square Triangle Sampler patterns, or any 12" finished quilt blocks! The quilts will be different sizes, and take a different number of blocks. I'll be sharing instructions for the quilt setting only, not the blocks. I will however be sharing fabric requirements to help guide you on making the half-square triangle blocks from the book needed for each setting!

After such a warm response to my Blockade Mini Quilt that I designed for last month's Quilty Box, I super sized the design for this quilt setting! Thank you to those who chimed in about your favorite quilt sizes, I took that into account when sizing this quilt!

Blockade Quilt Setting Tutorial - In Color Order
Still need a copy of my book? Pick one up here!

Blockade Quilt Setting Tutorial - In Color Order
Sewing Level: Intermediate/Confident Beginner
Finished size: 72"x72"

- (16) 12.5" unfinished quilt blocks
- 1 1/3 yards of accent fabric
- 1 3/4 yards of background fabric
- 4 1/2 yards of backing fabric
- 80" x 80" piece of batting
- 5/8 yard of binding
- Coordinating thread

WOF = Width of Fabric (42")
Fat Quarter = 18" x 21"

From accent fabric:
- Cut (6) 7" x WOF strips
- From each strip, cut (6) 7" squares for a total of 32

From background fabric:
- Cut (6) 7" x WOF strips
- From each strip, cut (6) 7" squares for a total of 32

- Cut (3) 6.5" x WOF strips
- From each strip, cut (6) 6.5" squares for a total of 16

From binding fabric:
- Cut (8) 2.5" x WOF strips

To make 16 half-square triangle quilt blocks, you'll need:
2-at-a-time HST method 4-at-a-time HST method 8-at-a-time HST method
Print fabric 7 fat quarters 8 fat quarters 8 fat quarters
Background fabric 1 1/2 yds 1 5/8 yds 1 5/8 yds
Cut print and background fabric into squares for 3" finished half-square triangles. Reference charts on pages 15-17 of Patchwork Essentials for cut square size and trimming information. Make a total of 256 half-square triangles. Sew half-square triangles into 16 blocks, use block chart on pages 85-99 for block layouts.

*Use a 1/4" seam allowance unless otherwise noted.*

Blockade Quilt Setting Tutorial - In Color Order
1. Using a marking pen, draw a diagonal line across the wrong side of 7” background squares. Place one 7” background square and one 7” accent square right sides together. Stitch 1/4" on both sides of the marked line. Press and cut apart on the marked line to create two half-square triangles. Press seams as desired. Repeat with remaining 7” squares. Trim half-square triangles to 6.5” square.

Blockade Quilt Setting Tutorial - In Color Order
2. Arrange four half-square triangles created in step one, plus a 12.5" block and one 6.5" background square as shown in the block diagram. Sew elements together in each row, press seams open. Sew two rows together to complete block. Press seams open.

Blockade Quilt Setting Tutorial - In Color Order

3. Arrange blocks using the diagram.

4. Sew blocks together in each row. Press seams in one direction, alternating direction every other row.

5. Sew rows together. Press seams open.

6. Cut backing yardage in half. Press. Trim off the selvedges and sew your pieces together lengthwise. Press seam open.

7. Basting: Using masking or painter’s tape, tape the backing to a clean, hard surface, right side down. Spread out your batting on top of the backing. Smooth out any wrinkles. Carefully spread out your quilt top on top of the batting, right side up. Pin your top, I like to use curved safety pins, spacing the pins a few inches apart. Make sure that your pins are going through all three layers.

Blockade Quilt Setting Tutorial - In Color Order
8. Quilting: Quilt as desired, by machine or by hand. Trim away excess batting and backing fabric.

9. Binding: Trim off selvedges and sew your binding strips together to form one long strip, press seams open. Fold in half lengthwise, pressing with your iron as you fold. Attach binding using your preferred method. For a detailed tutorial on attaching your binding to both sides by machine, see here.

Blockade Quilt Setting Tutorial - In Color Order
Enjoy! Share your progress and finished quilt photos using the #patchworkessentials hashtag on social media or add it to the In Color Order Flickr Group!

Check out the other free quilt setting tutorials in this series:
Interlaced Quilt Setting Tutorial - In Color Order
Interlaced Quilt Setting Tutorial

Over and Above Quilt Setting Tutorial - In Color Order
Over and Above Quilt Setting Tutorial

Happy Quilting!

Rayon Date Night Dress

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Happy Thursday! I'm back today to share one of my garment finishes from earlier this year! I have been sewing and cutting a lot of garments lately, it's been nice to work through some of my garment fabric stash and pick up a few new fabrics as well.

First and foremost, thank you for all of your support on my last post. I wish I could respond to each of you individually, but know that I've read and cherished all of your comments, messages, and emails. I look forward to whatever the future brings!

This was my first experience working with rayon. The Sewcial Lounge had this print from Cat Lady by Sarah Watts in both colorways in rayon, and it's so pretty in person. I ended up buying a cut of each (and made a shirt from the purple!), including enough to make a dress. I've had The Date Night Dress Pattern by April Rhodes in my pattern stash since 2014. I knew I needed a flowly pattern to go with the rayon, so this was a good match.

The dress came together surprisingly fast! Lots of hemming and some french seams finish off all the edges. A box pleat in the back gives it a little shape.

I ended up making a belt from the leftover fabric, it's 1/2" wide. This makes the dress a lot more flattering. The pattern also includes a slip pattern, since this dress has really deep arm holes. Instead of making one to match I just bought a black slip!

I wore this dress on my longest day of teaching at QuiltCon and it was really comfortable. The fabric is cool to the touch and was very easy to wear on a busy day!

This was a fun pattern to make! It has been satisfying sewing up all of these garment patterns I've had stashed away. I really enjoyed working with the rayon. I've now made three garments with rayon, and am looking forward to working with it more, it makes garments that feel and look professional.

My Creative Journey: Why I Quit Designing Fabric

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Last Fall, I made the decision to quit designing fabric. My contract was up, and I decided not to pursue a renewal. It was one of the hardest things I've had to do.

I'm not much for quitting. Admitting that I was done, and didn't want to do it anymore, felt like failing. But the truth is, I didn't love it. Working with Pat Bravo, the owner of Art Gallery Fabrics, she has so much passion for what she does. She talked about it all the time when we were discussing a new collection, or working on prints. Over time, I realized that I just didn't share that same passion.

In the beginning of my short career as a fabric designer in the quilting industry, I was caught up in the excitement of it all. It was a thrill to see my name on a selvage. It was a thrill to exhibit at Quilt Market and make connections in the industry through my fabrics. It was (and still is) a thrill to see people sew things with my fabrics.

On the flip side, it was all kinds of stressful and confidence crushing. The weeks leading up to Quilt Market were spent in a flurry of sewing up as many samples as I could. There was constant pressure to produce beautiful, unique projects that would impress both shops and consumers alike. All with a limited amount of fabric in a short period of time. I was stuck in a constant loop of feeling creatively drained and exhausted.

From a business perspective, it was all-consuming. Collections roll out in such quick succession these days. At any one time I was designing a collection, sewing with another collection for Quilt Market, and promoting a different collection. It took up almost all of my time, leaving little time for me to work on other aspects of my business. There are many designers in the industry that work in this way and do it very well. I truly admire the work and energy that it takes to do it.

I am a pretty sensitive person, and it was hard not to take the success of a fabric collection personally. For me, I was putting myself out there in a way that wasn't like publishing patterns or writing my book. It was so much more personal, sharing my art in this format. I had a hard time dealing with it. I felt like it's success (or failure) was on public display, for everyone to see.

More importantly, I realized that I can't do it all. I realized that I was miserable trying to do it all. I felt like I wasn't doing anything well, because I was being stretched in too many different directions. I dreamed of simplifying my business, but it was hard to rationalize when everyone around me was constantly doing more, more, more. It never felt like I was doing enough, like I was enough. And that's a horrible feeling.

Fast forward to mid-2014. I took time off from designing fabric to write my book. Personally, I knew that I couldn't do both at the same time. After the final book edits were in, and I had launched and promoted Curiosities, I took time to really think about the future. I thought about what I like to work on most, what is profitable for my business, and how everything I do is connected. Turns out, my favorite part of my job is the problem solving of figuring out how to make a pattern work. I love laying out patterns for print, and designing the illustrations. I'm a nerd for charts and pattern math, and I love the challenge of writing good quality instructions.

When I stepped back and took some time to think about what really makes me happy and what I love about my work, I realized that designing fabric wasn’t something I should continue. I will always be grateful to Art Gallery Fabrics and Pat Bravo for giving me the opportunity to design fabrics and for teaching me so much about the fabric industry. I learned a lot from this experience.

I've now been removed from fabric design for a little over six months. I'll admit, it hasn't been a particularly easy transition. My identity over the last few years has been centered around being a fabric designer. I am now trying to redefine that identity and make peace with walking away. In the last few weeks, I've finally started to feel a sense of relief that it's over. I'm inspired to sew, and I just want to start all the new projects! I'm feeling very "carpe diem" about it, using precious fabrics that I've hoarded over the years, and making things I've always wanted to make. I'm taking this year to rediscover and grow my creative voice, and to simply play. To make for the sake of making, and no other reason. I would love to release a couple of patterns, but I'm not putting any pressure on myself to do so.

I decided to write this post for the sake of transparency. I hope that admitting in public that I made this decision will give me some closure. I felt a bit of this when I talked briefly about it in The Crafty Planner Podcast last month. I was nervous to talk about it, but in the end it felt good to open up.

Thank you for listening and following along on my journey.

April 2016 Report

Monday, May 2, 2016

April ended up being an interesting month. Each week there was a different thing that was shaking up our routine. I traveled to lecture twice last month, and my Mom came to visit one week! I think after this week my schedule will be a bit more normal. I'm hoping the weather will start cooperating too, it's been pretty dreary lately!

A huge thank you to all of you for making my April sales a success! I really appreciate your support! :)

I did a lot of sewing this month. I felt so motivated to sew, and I think I sewed most days. Lots of smaller projects, some drawstring bags and pouches. I recovered my bulletin board, which really needed it. I made a few more garments and cut out a few more. I've been pulling fabrics for quilts, and scheming for a Summer full of sewing.

Still not knitting much, but I did pick up my second Fiddlehead mitten again. Hoping to get into the habit of knitting each night, even if it's only a few rows. There are so many things I want to knit, I need to go busy! I do find I am less in the mood to knit when it gets warmer, but it's always nice to have a few projects going just in case!

To keep myself accountable I'm tracking my yardage for both yarn and fabric. Here is how I did in April:

April Fabric
Used up: 45.875 yards
Brought in: 19 yards
Net: -26.875 yards
Year to date: +17.875 yards

April Yarn
Used up: 0 yards
Brought in: 0 yards
Net: 0 yards
Year to date: -739 yards

I am feeling pretty good about how things went on the fabric front this month! I still brought more fabric in than I would have liked, but a lot of fabric went out the door too. A big chunk of what came in was six yards of a solid for a quilt background and two yards of white solid lawn to use for dress/bodice linings. Originally I wasn't planning on counting solids or true utility fabrics against my totals, but I changed my mind and included it. Other than that it was mostly garment fabrics and the fat quarters from my Quilty Box. I finished a bunch of projects this month, and also destashed some bundles which I counted as well. Chipping away at the big intake from last month!

For my other goals, I did alright this month! I finished my double wedding ring monthly goal, yesterday. I procrastinated, but it still got done so that's what matters. I'm just four wedges away from being halfway done! I made three garments this month including two new patterns, the Josephine Blouse and the Out and About Dress. I still haven't done much to get through my works in progress, especially some of the older ones. I need to focus on that in May.

I completed another month of Project 365: a photo a day using my DSLR camera.

George bunny is looking as cute as ever. He went to the vet this month for his check-up and got a clean bill of health!

Happy May!