17 May 2012

Drawstring backpack

The other day I made a lined drawstring backpack for my son. He wanted something more lightweight than his usual backpack, and it's nice to have options.

He picked out the fabric. 

Summersville Alphabetty on the outside.

Flock Mod Trees for the lining.

And he really likes it. As we were out and about yesterday, he was pointing out all the similar packs he saw, and noting that none of them compared very favorably to his own.

14 May 2012

Beside myself

I haven't tackled the current round of the Traveling Quilts round robin, but Jacquie just posted about what she's added to my quilt. I couldn't be more excited. Here's a reminder of where I started.

Go over to Tallgrass Prairie Studio to see what Jacquie has added. Isn't it fantastic? And while were talking about Jacquie, have you had a chance to see her new book? It's beautifully produced and full of inspiring modern projects.

10 May 2012

One last look

Last week I gave the shot cottons quilt as a wedding present to my not-so-newlywed friends. They seemed to really like it.

The quilt features shot cottons from Oakshott, Kaffe Fassett, Kaufman Carolina Chambray, and several fabrics Hamish brought from India last year. I wrote a tutorial for Fat Quarterly a few weeks ago with piecing instructions using the the Quick Curve Ruler.

I don't think I've shown the label on the blog. I pieced the embroidered label into the back. The binding is a midnight blue cotton voile from Free Spirit. I love the fine satiny hand of the voile, and I'm sure I'll use it for binding again soon.

I quilted each of the sixteen propeller blocks with a unique design. I thought of it as a quilting sampler, of sorts. The multi-colored secondary shapes between the solid propellers all got the same wavy quilting.

I pieced the back from shot cottons and 8 leftover curve blocks. I had originally intended to set all the blocks in this wavy column configuration, but opted for the propeller setting when I saw it on the design wall.

And finally, one last poorly lit detail photo in the quilt's new home. Here's wishing them years of enjoyment!

09 May 2012

Making stuff for guys + Giveaway winner!

In my Geared for Guys review the other day, I asked readers to discuss their own strategies for making quilts for the guys in there life. The comments are full of great suggestions, and they were a pleasure to read. Thanks so much for your thoughtful contributions!

Here are some of my favorite suggestions:

Lee Ann wrote:
My brother-in-law wanted a quilt, but one that was not too fussy. He liked the bento box block he saw once so I made his quilt out of a single block, in maroon, grey, and black solids, scaled up to king size to fit his 6'6'' frame. It was a challenge, but a lot of fun too.

Venus de Hilo wrote:
I made a lap quilt for my husband with a bold Monkey Wrench on one side (purple, orange, and lime green!), and a simple framed-square pattern on the reverse with lots of dark blues and greens, in case the MW side was too wild for him. Turns out he likes the bright, bold side better.

Chris wrote:
I made off-to-college quilts for both my sons. I focused on choosing patterns that have a graphic design with a secondary design - sort of puzzle quilts. One was a split 9-patch in the colors of DS's guitar and the other was a wonky quarter log cabin.

Ann wrote:
I recently made one for my hubby: plain 8" squares in a selection of fabrics chosen by Quiltdad aka John Adams for the Fat Quarter Shop, a mix of blue, green, aqua and grey. Simple and much used already!

grendelskin wrote:
I stick more to earthy tones when making a guy quilt. I'll use darker tones for my cool colors and simpler prints on my brights; more tonals than large patterns too, but a lot of large patterns are really "girlie!"

Pip wrote:
I usually stick to darker colours for guy quilts, it seems more manly somehow, with the dark colours you can even get away with dark florals :)

Quiltjane wrote:
I love the faux monochromatic look too. Makes a pieces dance. The few manly quilts I have designed have all been earthy on colour and prone to reflect architecture. I did do one log cabin for grandfather in reproduction fabrics.

tubilinha tiacarminha wrote (translation mine):
I use solids, plaids, stripes, checks, etc., with traditional blocks or simply pieced squares and/or rectangles.

kay wrote:
I made a 20th birthday quilt for each of my two stepsons. In both quilts, I used indigo denim and homespun plaids, and I incorporated scraps cut from their dad's jeans, although the overall design was quite different for each quilt.

CitricSugar wrote:
When I make quilts for guys, I start with fabrics, usually quite neutral and as far from girly as possible. For my dad, I started with browns and greys that had a textural print as opposed to anything visibly discernible from farther than two feet, and added a red solid to use minimally. Then I figured out the design. Simple but interesting. Concentric squares, paper-pieced, alternating one fabric with the red for half the blocks, the rest were squares with one quarter/corner being a different fabric. He loved it so I call it a win.

And winner is comment #22!
ritainalaska wrote:
For the guys in my family i chose quilt patterns that i changed just a bit to fit the guy [6 quilts] and made up patterns for two more...For some of them, i appliqued on the back something special for them. a dragon, a chevy impala logo, a fish.

07 May 2012

Venn Diagram baby quilt

I can't believe it's taken me so long to write about  this baby quilt. Thomas Knauer sent me some fabric to work with from his upcoming Savanna Bop collection with Andover Fabrics.

My first impulse, inspired by the orange and red animal print in the little circle at the bottom of my quilt, was to make columns of wonky log cabins framing fussy-cut critters. But then the multi-colored droplet prints caught my eye.

I've had the idea of a Venn Diagram quilt with intersecting circles rumbling around in my head for a while. I just hadn't quite figured out how to piece all those big shapes. Savanna Bop gave me the kick in the pants I needed.

The finished quilt is about 44" x 49". I quilted the thee circles with spirals, and the background with a grid of widely spaced double diagonal lines.

The wedge at the intersection of the two big circles is a tile print from the collection. (No, silly, that is not a 1/2" patchwork!)

The two large circles are a patchwork of coordinating giraffe and elephant prints.

I pieced the intersecting circles first.

Then I pieced the background from two green prints. I carefully laid the flopsy background on a flat surface, squared up the edges, and traced & cut the outline of the circles. I sewed the perimeter of the blue circle first, and then the two remaining edges of the yellow circle.

When I took the above photo, I noticed that the grid of the blue circle wasn't quite straight -- it's rotated a bit clockwise relative to the background grid. The idea of unpicking and resewing that long curved seam was very unappealing, and I wasn't even sure the second try would have better results, so I set the project aside. A couple days later I took a fresh look and realized that I would never be able to see past the error, so I set about fixing it. Indeed, it came out better the second time. I'm so glad I fixed it.

 I pieced the quilt back from extra four-patches from the big circles and three additional Savanna Bop half yards. Do you see the pink rhinos!?

I bound the Venn Diagram quilt with more droplets.

Savanna Bop will be in stores soon. I had a great time working with Thomas's designs. The colors are bright and soft, and they work together well in close coordinates as well as the full range. The fabric has a great hand. And did I mention pink rhinos?

Dye job

For the next round of the Free Bee virtual quilting bee, John has asked for three improvised 10-inch block inspired by Erin Wilson's Totem series. John's brief was to maintain a coherent design and color story across the three blocks, with all bee participants choosing a dominant color to ensure a rainbow selection of completed blocks.

I've been curious about dyeing fabric. In the past I've had unsatisfactory results with RIT dye. The colors are weak and drab, and the pigments stain in every subsequent wash. Seeing Lucie Summers's recent post in which she overdyed her new collection of prints with Moda Fabrics, Summersville, my enthusiasm for hand dyeing was renewed.

John wants mostly solids for his Free Bee improvised "totems." He's allowed us to use some prints, if necessary. I've elected to use some overdyed green Summersville Brush Strokes.

I used Jacquard Procion MX fabric dyes (purchased at Blick Art Supplies), mixing various proportions of yellow, turquoise and fuchsia. For mixing guidelines I relied on the rainbow dyeing procedure at quilt.com Fabric Dyeing FAQ (instructions starting at "By popular demand"). I wasn't sure what I was going to get, and that was part of the fun.

The colors turned out vibrant and beautiful. To complete John's totem, I'll probably mix in some commercial solids, and maybe another print. This is going to be fun!

05 May 2012

Geared for Guys Blog Tour + Giveaway

When Emily Herrick asked me to join the blog tour for her new ebook, Geared for Guys, I jumped at the chance. Emily is the talented quilter, fabric designer and author over at Crazy Old Ladies.

It can be tricky finding the right balance of handmade charm and masculine interest when crafting for guys. Emily's book is full of great ideas and helpful suggestions to solve the problem. Plus, Geared for Guys offers eight new quilt patterns designed for guys of all ages. The quilts are perfect for beginner and intermediate quilters.

My favorite quilt in the book is called Helix. It's a spiral of printed fabrics on a solid background.

Emily uses one of my favorite techniques in this quilt. She combines several nearly monochromatic prints in a narrow color range to produce a kind of made fabric. To my eye, the made fabric functions almost as a solid, but with more movement and interest.

Emily writes the patterns with detailed instructions and clear cutting and piecing diagrams.

The book also contains helpful sections on choosing colors, fabrics and quilting styles for quilts for the men in your life. I especially liked Emily's fabric strategy discussion, where she gives several alternatives to the standard approach of picking a large-scale floral print, then coordinating prints and solids.

The Geared for Guys e-book is available as a PDF download for $14.75 from Emily's Etsy shop.

I have one copy of the Geared for Guys ebook to give away to one lucky reader. Leave one comment on this post for a chance to win! If you've made quilts for guys, I'd love to hear how you approached the design. I'll be choosing a random winner on Wednesday morning.

For more chances to win and more sneak peeks of the great quilts in the ebook, check out the other blogs on the all-month blog hop. Yesterday's hop stop was with Lee at Freshly Pieced. Tomorrow, stop by with Julie at Jaybird Quilts for another look.