"tips and tutorials"

A Year of Quilt Play

Scrap Quilts Under Construction

There I was, going through the mess on the cutting table, minding my own creative mess. Company was coming and tidying was in order. My blue clipboard emerged. This is my all purpose clipboard - it holds the Quilts Under Construction list, it travels with me to gigs for newsletter sign ups, it holds notes and sketches made during classes. It also holds the list of finished quilts each year. For whatever reason that particular list was on top.

4 quilts. And one was a mini. That was the last quilt I finished, back in July.

My first reaction was a bit of sadness and shock. That lasted for about 30 seconds though. I moved on to a bit of anger. How could I only finish 4 in the year?! Just 4! I know why and that is what brings the anger. Chronic back pain since April has meant that basting quilts is out of the question and sitting for long periods of time is also out. I’d always hoped that I could use a rented long arm and get some done but I don’t have the time to do that with our family schedule. All those things combined into anger, full confessions. Let’s be clear, though, not about the unfinished quilts, the anger it about those situations. But that is life and being angry won’t do me any good.

So perspective kicks in. I’ve been sewing nearly every single day this year. Some days only for 10 minutes, some days I get a whole hour. Sewing is what saved me from rage and frustration this year. Sewing kept me sane when pain and stress and constantly moving kept fighting for dominance.

Heather Ross Fabric

I worked on… let me count them… 22 different quilts this year. I feel like it might be more than that, there might the odd day where I played on one random quilt under construction or another.

Some started from scratch, some were old playtime pieces. These became quilt tops:

Improv Curves

Others were just consistent work that will eventually, probably, result in a quilt. Or something I decided to try, just playing.

I played with scraps, sorting and sewing. I taught classes and those samples became something. I tried ideas I had.

Mostly, I created for the sake of it. Sure a quilt at the end is nice, but mostly I sewed for the sake of sewing and what it does for me. Keeps me sane in a crazy, angry, busy, intimidating, and stressful world. Process matter so much more than anything else.

Maybe I will finish more quilts in 2019, maybe not? Either way, I will be sewing.

Quilt Sketch Uppercase Fabric

Tie One On Fabrics Blog Hop with Lilla Quilt Variation

Tie One On Lilla Quilt

A new version of Lilla. I just don’t get tired of this pattern. That’s because it is a guide more than a pattern. Plus, it includes 25 different block ideas! Use one or use them all! Or, in my case, use 21 plus 1 made up block.

Scott Hansen over at Blue Nickel Studios asked me a few months back if I would play with his upcoming fabric collection. Feeling motivated by the lush colours of his collection, Tie One On, and having some time in my schedule I said yes. The timing also seemed ripe to make another Lilla quilt.

My original plan was a straight remake of the pattern. Same layout, same queen size, but in different fabrics. The second version I made was random, put together from my test blocks. But I wanted a new version of the original. Best laid plans…

Tie One On Fabric.jpg
Sedona

I was sent the Sedona colourway of the Tie One On fabric. Gorgeous! These are all batiks from Banyon Batiks, a division of Northcott Fabrics. Really, they are gorgeous fabrics and wonderful to work with. I don’t shy away from batiks as many modern quilters seem to. Beautiful fabric is beautiful fabric! I will use any fabric if it is the right colour, truthfully. Getting the Sedona colourway seemed serendipitous, I always think of our trip to Arizona and the dessert three years ago. With no vacation for us this past summer I planned to live vicariously through this quilt.

Fabric in hand I made a plan. And 20 blocks in (the queen size quilt in the pattern makes 100 blocks) I realized I would run short of the Tie One On Fabric. Banyan Batiks were wonderfully generous and sent me more fabric when I asked nicely. Unfortunately, it was the wrong colourway. Well, wrong for my plan. By now I was 40 blocks in.

Tie One On Batiks Modern Batiks

This is the part where some quilters would panic. I figured I had 2 choices:

  • Throw in the towel. Finish the quilt with the blocks I had at this large baby size and move on. It would still be a good quilt, so no loss.

  • Figure out a solution that reflected, at least, my original plan.

I went with the second option. You see, when you embrace improv piecing the spirit of saying yes, of making things work permeates all your quiltmaking. It gives you creativity to figure out a new design solution to a problem. So I took the yellows and oranges and the green from the second bundle, putting the pinks and purples aside for something else, and figured it would just brighten up my dessert sunset thing I had going on.

My plan for the background of the blocks was rather formal. I sketched a colour draft to keep on track. I thought I was brilliant. Then two things happened. One, even with the new fabric I wasn’t going to have enough of the Tie One On Fabric to make 100 blocks. Okay, so it will be a 9 x 9 quilt, not 10 x 10. Easy fix. But two, it looked like utter crap when I laid it out like my sketch. Really, not good - busy and not in a good, fun, scrappy way. The block designs were completely lost.

Quilt Photo At Night

When in doubt, sleep on it.

Or, try to sleep. The idea hit me around 1 am when back pain was keeping me awake. I should have got out of bed and laid it out right then and there. I waited until 7 am and in the light of day I realized my new idea was brilliant. It gave order, but was still interesting. It respected what I’d done so far and my colour inspiration of Sedona. It shows off the fabric and the block designs. Success!

Lilla Quilt Sedona Colours
Lilla Quilt Blocks

Scott Hanson and Banyan Batiks have done a wonderful job with these fabrics. Gorgeous colours and were easy to work with for both improv work and precision piecing, as the Lilla pattern has both.

If you want a little bit of the fabric yourself leave a comment below. On October 1, around 1 pm MST, I will pick one random commenter to win a bundle of Tie One On Fabric! Please leave your email address in the comment itself so I can get a hold of you. Then the fabric will be mailed to you direct.

Tie One On Blog Hop


Visit the rest of the blogs on the tour for your chance to win more. Not to mention some great ideas with this lovely fabric.

9/22 - Teri Lucas                 https://terificreations.com/

9/23 - Robin Long               http://robinruthdesign.com/blog/

9/24 - Sue O'Very               https://sueoverydesigns.com/blog/

9/25 - Cheryl Arkison          http://www.cherylarkison.com/diningroomempire/

9/26 - Linda Sullivan           https://colourwerx.wordpress.com/

9/27 - Sheri Cifaldi-Morrill   http://blog.wholecirclestudio.com/  

9/28 - Debby Brown            http://higheredhands.blogspot.com/

9/29 - Blair Stocker             https://wisecrafthandmade.com/blog/

9/30 - Kim Niedzwiecki       http://www.gogokim.com/

Lilla Quilt Tie One On Fabric

Pattern available wholesale and retail through C&T Publishing.

5 Ways to Find Your Sewjo

Sewjo Cutting Table

Have you lost your sewjo?

So many people I know are feeling little to no desire to sew, let alone create. Whether it is personal circumstances (kids, parents, sickness, bills!), politics, drama, or simply the heat, sewing machines are sitting idle this summer. It is all totally normal. Yet I find so many folks feel the need to apologize for it, or worse, give up on sewing all together!

Remember people, this is a hobby. (Unless, of course you are an industry professional.) We are completely free to create or not create on our own time. Despite what our mothers or partners or kids might say, it isn't wasted space or time or even money if we don't sew for a little while. This isn't a gym membership where money is going down the drain when we don't go. The money's already been spent, so there is that. 

Maybe you go in an pet fabric? Or you scroll through Instagram, liking pictures of pretty quilts? Or you don't think about quilts at all as you lick that summer ice cream cone and wet your feet in a lake? It's all good.

Seriously, it doesn't matter. Sew or don't sew. You have your reasons.

Now all that being said, the last thing I want is people to give up on their creativity. If you are missing your sewjo and want to cultivate it or at least try and locate it, here are some helpful tips.

1. Turn off the phone and the news

Whether it is the state of the world or the feeling of inadequacy from social media, all they are doing is making you feel bad. It's totally okay to walk away from it for a bit. The world will keep spinning, posts will be posted, and the news isn't likely to change. Give yourself a break to create.

2. Create in response

Channel your feelings (anger, despair, or whatever) into a creation. It's okay to make an angry quilt. Embrace the process of doing so even more than the final project. Make a statement with your work, whatever that statement might be. (Great ideas here.)

3. Make something different

Try a different kind of creating. Whether that is pottery, painting, brush lettering, woodworking, garment making, or anything. Learning something new will get your neurons firing and your hands moving. 

4. Clean your sewing space

Or, at the very least, sort your scraps. Sometimes our spaces and the clutter overwhelms us. Usually the thought of cleaning is overwhelming too. Sorting your scraps  - I recommend the tips in Sunday Morning Quilts - does wonders for freeing up mental space. It can be very inspiring. Whether that inspiration takes you to your sewing machine or helps you find it remains to be seen.

5. Establish a habit of creative action

You know me, I love my Morning Make. Frankly, if I didn't have this habit - one I still consciously make - I wouldn't be sewing at all. Most days it is 15-20 minutes, some days I can get a whole hour. For me it is about committing to the dedicated time before anyone else demands my attention, like the kids or our business. It might be before bed for you, or at lunch, or post dog walk. Whatever works. The key to it is that creativity begets creativity. The creative act invites creativity. So if you are struggling, just get your butt in the seat and sew. Pick up an old project or sew scraps together mindlessly. You may not be interested in running a marathon right now, but it will be a lot easier to get back into training if you at least walk every day. 

Sorting Scraps Sewjo

Shark Fin Block Tutorial Live!

The Shark Fin Block Tutorial is here!

So glad to have this done and ready for all your ocean loving delights. Let's celebrate these apex predators. Because, after all, who wouldn't want to sleep under a Shiver of Sharks?

Shiver of Sharks Shark Fin Block

The block is super easy - only 3 seams. Yes, two of them are slight curves. Don't let that stop you. The curves are so gentle that they sew up wonderfully. The video tutorial walks you through cutting and sewing these curves.

This is improv sewing so each block is unique. You can square them up to the same size in the end, or embrace the unique qualities of each block. I do recommend not laying them out in a straight line, however, with all the shark bodies lined up though. The effect won't be as strong. I made my quilt in columns, not rows, to manage that. By changing the colour of the background and spending time on final layout I was able to get the ombre effect you see in the finished quilt.

I promise you that these are addictive. I doubt you will be able to make only one. Although, a really big single fin would also make a cool quilt. Hmm...

They only take a few minutes to make, so you will have a healthy Shiver in no time!