Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Simple Strip Quilt Tutorial

This super simple quilt would be a quick weekend project or great way to practice hand quilting. I like the way the white strips separate and show off the patterned fabric. I made a very similar quilt a few years ago (Adelaide's quilt) and thought I would put together a more comprehensive tutorial for you, with a few photos. It's not a pattern, but rather a general guide to how I made my quilt. It measures approximately 38" x 48" (97cm x 121cm).

All fabric for this quilt was 44" wide, and I used a scant 1/4" seam.

This quilt is particularly good if you have a number of fat strips of fabric in your stash (all the strips don't have to be the same width.) You will need a number of strips of fabric (selvedge to selvedge). The strips I had on hand were about 5" x 44" (the fabric strips in the photo below were folded in half - selvedge to selvedge.) Lay the strips down, one under the other until it measures the desired length. Mine was 48" long.

Now take each fat strip, trim the long edge, and cut into thinner strips (selvedge to selvedge). Don't trim the selvedges yet - you will do that once all of the strips have been sewn together.  Some strips I left as their original width (about 5"), and others I cut into two thinner strips (2" - 3"). My strips varied in width between 2" to 5" but there is no right or wrong width. It doesn't matter how many times you cut the strips, but the more times you cut, the more white strips you will need to add. It will still measure the same length when it comes back together.

Lay the strips out until you're happy with the arrangement. Make sure it measures the desired length. You wont lose anything in the seam allowances once the white strips have been added. You may want to add more patterned strips or trim some down.

Now it's time to cut the white strips (all selvedge to selvedge).  Count the number of patterned strips you laid out, take away one, and cut that many 1" white strips (I had 15 patterned strips so cut 14, 1" white strips.)
Cut two 2" white strips (for the back of the quilt.)

Sew a 1" white strip to one side of each patterned strip except the last one at the bottom, and then sew all of the strips together in your arranged order, ironing towards the patterned fabric as you go.

At this stage your quilt top should look something like this. If you don't want a pieced back you could just trim the selvedges from each side of the quilt and your quilt top would measure almost 44" wide.

However, if you would like to make an easy pieced back, after trimming the sides of your quilt, cut a strip down the length of one side of your quilt top (mine is 5" wide.)

My quilt top measured 38" wide.

Add a 2" white strip to both sides of the patterned strip you cut from the edge of the quilt top. The white strips will probably not be as long as your patterned strip- that's fine. Iron your seams towards the white fabric to reduce bulk in the seams.

For the backing I used a piece of fabric approximately the same length as my quilt top. Then made a horizontal cut about a third of the way down and added the pieced strip (as shown below.) Trim the pieced strip in line with the rest of the backing fabric.  The pieced back should now measure at least 2 inches bigger than the quilt top all the way around.

Now for the fun part. This is a really easy quilt to quilt because you can use the seams as a guide. I straight machine stitched 1/4" inside the patterned strips and hand quilted with red perle cotton no. 8 down the centre of the white strips. I didn't mark any lines, just eyeballed it. It's not perfect, but I like that hand crafted look.

 And here's the back...

It doesn't get much simpler than that! Enjoy! And let me know if you have any questions.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Capturing the moment or killing it?

It started out innocently enough. I just wanted to capture the joy of the moment with a picture. I had taken a lovely photo of the children running on this beautiful secluded beach exactly a year ago and I thought it would be nice to have an updated picture.

So I started snapping away,

 but the kids weren't looking in exactly the right direction at the right time...

so I started giving directions, which turned into barking out orders, which turned into losing all of the joy and spontaneity of the moment.

My husband gently told me that the kids had had enough, and the picture probably wasn't worth the price.

So I finally backed off and let the kids just do their thing.

I've found it hard getting good pictures of children (especially if you're after a particular thing). The magic is in the moment and sometimes if you start poking around with a camera it can get in the way of that moment. But maybe if I just keep quiet and don't get the camera out too much I'll catch a few of those magically sweet moments.  (The last two photos were taken by my sister Ellen.)

Modern "Gathered In" Quilt - and a little disaster

I'm running a little late for Blogger's Quilt Festival, but I have a good reason and I'll share that disaster story in a moment (it has something to do with my 2 year old.)

I'm excited to be teaching a class on my Gathered In pattern in January next year and I wanted to make an updated version to show how different the pattern could look with modern fabrics. Lotta Jansdotta's fabrics were just perfect for a crisp clean look. I also added an extra row of blocks to make it a little bit bigger.

The original quilt featured French General fabrics, which were softer and much more traditional (and also very beautiful.) Then I added a baby sized version to the pattern. You can find the pdf pattern here.

It was fun trying out my newly acquired free motion quilting skills. I was terrified to start, but I have to say I absolutely loved this quilting design (from Angela Walter's book). It was much easier for me than random meandering quilting. Maybe that's because it's the type of thing I'd doodle while on the phone, so it's a more natural action for me. I'll definitely be using this design again.

I love the texture it gives to the quilt and especially the way it fills all of the negative space.

Even though I was in a rush to get this one finished, I'm glad I took the time to add a simple pieced back. I do like a double sided quilt.

So now for the story... I have been really bogged down with moving house while dealing with morning sickness while having sick children for weeks. Well, it finally seemed like things had settled down and I could do a little quilting again. I decided to finish off this quilt (I made a quilt top a while back) so it could be shown at the Adelaide Quilting and Craft Show to advertise my class, but I only had one week to complete it. Well I quilted with gusto whenever the children were asleep! Even when I felt really tired I quilted and was amazed how invigorating it was. After a few days the quilt was nearly finished, just half of the binding to go. Getting a little excited, I decided to finish of the binding while the children played. After a while my little Gracie decided she wanted my attention and came up and told me she had a sore tummy. The thought went through my mind "put it away and focus on your baby - she needs you and you would be devastated if she vomited on your quilt." I wasn't sure if she was sick or not so I said "I'll just finish off this little bit and then we'll have a snuggle, okay?" Next thing I knew she vomited all over the quilt! I couldn't believe it. I was so mad at myself for not listening to that little voice. Fortunately I could pop it straight in the wash and out on the line to dry, and after a quick iron it came out as good as new!

Fortunately Grace is feeling much better too.

Enjoy Blogger's Quilt Festival. There's lots of fantastic prizes (I'm proud to be a sponsor) and boundless talent on show. Thanks Amy for putting on such a great event!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Kindergarten Quilt

Earlier in the year I was approached by Dane's kindergarten (Christopher Rawson Penfold Kindy) to make a quilt about water conservation. It's a wonderful preschool, which really involves the families and I was more than happy to help out in such a fun way.

First of all I cut out 32, 6.5" plain squares and ironed double sided adhesive to the back of some bright fabric scraps (including some favourites from Umbrella Prints). Each family was given a plain square, some paper backed fabric scraps, fabric pens and an instruction sheet (if anyone's interested in the instruction sheet I wrote you can email me and I'll send it through to you.) Each day a few families were given packs and asked to return their completed square the next day.  I was so impressed by what came back- aren't they lovely and bright! And they have some very practical suggestions for saving water too :)

To make it even brighter, I added 0.5" colourful borders to each square and then 2" sashing.  For the words in the centre I enlarged letters on the computer, printed and cut them out, and then used these as templates. Double sided adhesive was used to attached the yellow letters to the centre square. In hind sight it may have been better to use a darker colour for the words, but I'm still happy with it.

Instead of sewing around each of the fabric shapes to secure them (that would have taken forever!), I quilted heavily in an all over meandering design.

You can see the stippling better in this photo. I had a few late nighters quilting this one, so a piece of chocolate (or three) each time I changed the bobbin was a necessity (and I must say, it was a great chocolate hiding spot!) I'll just clarify that the chocolate is not actually inside my machine, it's under the extension table.

I tried to involve the kindergarten as much as possible each step of the way, so they would feel it was their quilt. The children helped me to arrange the blocks for the quilt top. Then I brought in my sewing machine and sewed some of the quilt top together while they had a go on a toy sewing machine. Later on while I was hand sewing the binding I brought in some squares of hessian, blunt needles and perle cotton and we sewed together.

It was lovely being involved with the kindy and being able to share what I love. Dane was shocked when I told him that not every mum has a sewing machine. He asked, "But how do they sew their quilts then?"

The kindy seem to love the quilt and each time the children see it they excitedly point out their block. We have been invited to the quilt hanging party next term, so that although Dane is moving onto school in a couple of weeks, he'll get to enjoy one last visit with all of his old friends.

Cuddling with his cousin at kindy

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Being brave with free motion quilting

I'm finally trying some free motion quilting other than stippling. I've been meaning to give this a go for ages but have been petrified of stuffing up my quilts. 

I'm actually really enjoying it (although I'm  almost chewing my lip off as I concentrate.) There's lots of mistakes but I love the overall effect!

I'm trying a different design in each strip. 

In a couple of weeks I will be attending a free motion quilting class with Rachelle Denneny and I can't wait. Rachelle is a quilting goddess!

I will also be teaching my first quilting class in July at Quilt Encounter in Adelaide, which is really exciting and a bit frightening at the same time! I'm sure it will be lots of fun :)

Sunday, May 19, 2013

"Frequency" quilt top

As you can see I went with option 3 - Fat really off kilter (that could describe me on a bad day... haha). I've named it "Frequency" because the zig zag is a little random like a frequency wave (and to be honest, "Fat Really Off Kilter" sounds a little offensive.)

I like it! And it didn't waste a scrap of fabric (except the bits trimmed off the edges, but I'm considering using those on the back.) Now I'm ready to start on my quilt with Saffron's fabrics.

I'd like to try the skinny version too (of me and the quilt!)

Anyone interested in a tutorial of how to put this super simple wonky chevron quilt together?

Addit: you can find the tutorial here - cheers!

By the way, Gracie has a fat lip because she fell over three times this morning. She's always going at full speed!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Frequency Quilt Tutorial

Here it is folks - the tutorial for my Frequency Quilt (a wonky zig-zag/chevron quilt), also known as the Fat Really Off Kilter quilt!  It's the first quilt I've made just for me and I'm going to love snuggling up under it this winter (at the rate I'm going I hope it will be quilted in time for winter.) Most of my quilts are tucked away or given away so I can't wait to enjoy this one. I've even been dragging my husband around the house showing him how great it looks on different couches and our bed (to his credit he ooohs and ahhhs appropriately.)

I fell in love with Saffron Craig's Banksia Bloom fabrics as soon as I saw them, and (how lucky am I?) Saffron generously sent me a lovely bundle of the complete range! Kookaburras are my favourite bird, and so I was particularly thrilled when I saw how beautiful the fabrics looked (and felt) up close. I must admit, I was nervous cutting them up as many of them are bigger prints and I wanted her designs to shine, but I think they look fabulous against the Kona Ash background. I've kept back some of the large kookaburra fabric to make a couple of matching throw cushions for the couch.

So I've pushed myself to get this tutorial out before easter as a little present to you. I even made up a short video explaining a quick way of putting the blocks together. At the bottom of this post is instructions on how to modify the pattern for a baby sized Frequency quilt.

This throw size quilt its actually bigger than intended. I meant to make 10 patterned zig zags, but accidentally made 11. For the tutorial I'll use my original size of 10 zigzags (size: 60" x 77",  153cm x 195cm).

What you need:
  • 10 fat quarters of patterned fabric (if using american fat quarters - 18" x 22" - you will need to cut carefully as you will only just have enough). Alternatively you could use 13" (35cm) each of 10 patterned fabrics - you will have quite a bit of fabric left over for the back.
  •  75" (1.9m) of plain background fabric
  • neutral thread for piecing, rotary cutter, ruler and mat, sewing machine with 1/4" foot
  • from each of the 10 patterned fabrics cut eight 6" x 6.5" rectangles (if cutting from an american fat quarter cut three 6" x 22" strips and then cross-cut these into eight 6.5" x 6" rectangles.)
  • from the plain background fabric cut 12, 6" strips, selvedge to selvedge, and then cross-cut these strips into 80, 6.5" x 6" rectangles.
Note: It is important to use a 1/4" seam to end up with a square block.

Putting the blocks together:

Take a patterned and a plain rectangle (they should be exactly the same size)...
Put the patterned fabric on top, right side facing up (if the background fabric has a right side make sure that is facing up too.) The rectangles should be positioned so that the longer edge is lying horizontally. Make sure all of the edges are lined up so you can't see the background fabric underneath. Using your rotary cutter and ruler make a diagonal cut, slanting to the right, through both layers from bottom to top (pictured below). You can vary the position and angle of the cut, but have this first cut slanting to the right.
Then take the top patterned fabric from the pile on the right and put it under the plain fabric (still facing up, keeping the same orientation.)
Sew the top two peices together along the diagonal edge, right sides facing. As you do this make sure the top and bottom edges cross over where the 1/4" seam will go, so you will have little triangular 'ears' at the top and bottom of the block, as shown.
Then sew the bottom layer of fabrics together in the same manner. Iron the seams towards the patterned fabric. We will call these "R" blocks (to the right.) They should measure 6" x 6" raw edge to raw edge. If not you may need to adjust your seam a little. It is important to make sure your completed blocks are square so you don't have to trim them before sewing them all together.
In the same manner, layer another patterned and plain rectangle and make a diagonal cut, but this time slant it to the left. I like to make my blocks random by varying the angle and position of the cut.
Continue to put the blocks together as described above.
We will call these "L" blocks (to the left.) They should also measure 6" square raw edge to raw edge.
So, now you have two R blocks and two L blocks. Continue in this manner until you have 8 R blocks and 8 L blocks (16 blocks using the same patterned fabric.)
I like to cut multiple blocks at a time by stacking and cutting through two pairs of fabric to speed up the process.

To see an alternatively (even quicker) way to cut and put these blocks together check out this little video I put together. A couple of things I forgot to mention in the video:
  • Arrange the rectangles so that the longest edge is horizontal.
  • If your background fabric has a right side, make sure the first piece you lay down is facing down and the second one is facing up.
  • It doesn't matter which way you cut the fabric (slanting to the right or left)

Using this method you will end up with two R blocks and two L blocks.
Once you have sewn 16, 6" square blocks with each of your 10 fabrics (160 blocks in total), you will be ready to put the quilt together.

You can organise the blocks in a number of ways to make your quilt but I have shown two here. For a more subdued look you may like this way - alternate R and L blocks (you can see how it looks in the baby size here.)
For a slightly more random look you may like it this way (this is the way I arranged my quilt - ordered randomness!)
Or you could go completely random. Which ever way you choose to arrange your blocks, lay out your 16 blocks in a row (I have only shown 10 blocks across.) Then lay out another row of 16 blocks to make the next zig zag.
Keep going...
until you have laid out 10 patterned zig zags (the photo below shows 11 zig zags).
Starting in one corner sew the blocks together into diagonal rows.
And then sew the rows together being careful to match the seams, especially where the patterned fabric meets up. Iron well.
You may like to pin the rows together to increase accuracy.
Once you have sewn all of the rows together it should look something like this:
Trim the triangular edges off and your quilt top is complete!
If you're tempted to make your own "Frequency" quilt using Saffron Craig's gorgeous fabrics you can pick up your own bundle here.

It's really easy to adjust the pattern to whatever size you like. You can change the size of the blocks (just make sure one side is 1/2" longer than the other) and/or change the number of blocks.
If you would like to make a baby sized quilt like the one pictured above (37.5" x 43", 95cm x 109cm) you will need:
  • 5" (13cm) each of eight different patterned fabrics
  • 33" (85cm) of plain background fabric.
Just cut
  • seven 4.5" x 5" rectangles from each of the eight different patterned fabrics and 
  • 56, 4.5" x 5" rectangles of plain fabric (cut seven 4.5" strips, selvedge to selvedge, and cross cut into 5" x 4.5" rectangles.)
Follow the instructions above, using the photo as a guide to put this little cutie together. I arranged this one pretty randomly.

I hope it all makes sense. Happy Easter everybody!