Once a month, we highlight blogs our staff is reading right now!
Don’t Call Me Betsy
Designer Elizabeth Dackson is the paper-piecing queen. Her use of color (especially solids) is so fun. And besides that, she’s a Craftsy teacher, so you know her tutorials are super helpful! Even if you’re not a person who likes paper-piecing, Elizabeth’s blog is so fun to look at. Her quilts range from bold and stunning to tiny and cute. And she does a great job mocking up her blocks in different colorways, so you can visualize the project with your own fabric!
Fresh Lemons Quilts
Designer Faith Jones makes stunning modern quilts that use both traditional patchwork and paper piecing. From common blocks to complicated designs, Faith’s quilts are not only eye-candy, but totally make us want to start digging through our fabric piles. Plus, she gets scrappy with fun ways to use a variety of prints in her projects.
Sew Mama Sew
This is one-stop-shopping for sewing projects. Blog owner Kristin Link (and her talented contributors) offer free patterns for handmade quilts, gifts, clothes, and more. With new tutorials popping up daily, you’ll never run out of sewing ideas! Whether you’re looking for something specific or just want inspiration, this blog is perfect place to jumpstart your creativity!
Trying to ignore color and just study contrast is not an easy task. When looking at fabrics in a store or from your fabric stash, try these techniques to determine the contrast or value. Select possible fabrics for a project, then perform one or more of these tests to see if you’ve included enough contrast in the group. If you need more contrast, substitute lighter or darker fabrics until you have a variety of values.
1. Try squinting. Closing your eyes slightly limits the amount of light they receive and reduces your perception of color, so contrast becomes more evident.
2. Use a reducing tool. Purchase a reducing lens or a door peephole. These tools reduce an image, making color less obvious and contrast more apparent when the fabrics are viewed. Taking pictures with your phone or looking through a camera also works in this regard.
3. Look through red cellophane. This technique conceals the color and allows you to see the continuum of values from light to dark.
4. Make black and white photocopies. Photocopying completely masks color and can give an indication of contrast between and within pieces of fabric.
In the February 2015 issue of American Patchwork & Quilting, designer Jean Wells teaches us how to expand our piecing horizons with a new technique — freehand curved piecing — and shows us how to play with color. The editors were so excited to learn this technique and create their own projects. See what they made below and share your own creations inspired by Piece & Play using the hashtag #apqlearnalong on Facebook and Instagam. And follow along with new projects and inspiration at www.allpeoplequilt.com/learnalong.
CORRECTION: If you order the Palette Box fabrics from The Stitchin’ Post as shown in the February issue of American Patchwork & Quilting, you will receive 1/4 yard (fat quarters) of the solids instead of 1/2 yard solids and 1 yard of the theme print for $65 plus shipping.
Elizabeth Tisinger Beese, editor of American Patchwork & Quilting
Elizabeth says: “I had so much fun making this pillow! I’m not an art quilter at all, so I was a little intimidated by the improvisational nature of this technique, but I ended up getting addicted to it! (I was only going to make a pincushion but got so wrapped up in this that I made the entire Four-Patch Pillow!). I chose my Palette Box by starting with some multicolor batiks that had an interesting mix of brown and pink combined with bits of coral, orange, and green.”
Jill Mead, editor
Jill says: “I find color and fabric inspiration in collections. I love the colors in this collection of Aurifil embroidery floss from a stitch kit from Moda Fabrics. It makes me think of spring. Using the threads as a visual guide, I select matching solids from my stash. Then I fill out the basic collection with lighter and darker, more saturated/less saturated solids.
Lindsay Fullington, assistant multimedia editor
Lindsay says: “I started with a fat quarter bundle of the Hadley collection from Dear Stella. I chose one colorful print and pulled in tone-on-tone teal, purple, orange, pink, and brown to pull out colors from the main print. The darker teals play nice with the lighter pinks. The brown tones the bright prints down and offers an unexpected color to the palette. I loved playing with color placement and the freeform cutting technique. It felt so creative to cut without a ruler and use colors outside my normal palette! It was a very forgiving project and I felt like I could experiment without fear of failure!”
I can’t believe October is over! With only two months left to finish the quilts on my to-do list, I’m starting to panic! I finished one of my quilts this month and am really close to finishing two more, which will take a little stress off. I’m, of course, still enjoying the process, but my goal was to FINISH these five quilts and I don’t want to fall in the trap of putting them off until next year. I can tell you that I already have a long list of things I want to start in 2015, and don’t want a stack of “need-to-be-quilted” projects weighing on my conscience! See my list for making time to get projects done below.
On my to-do list this year:
- Tula Pink‘s City Sampler (See all my blocks here.)
- American Patchwork & Quilting Quilt Along (Read more about it here.)
- Pat Sloan‘s Globetrotting Block of the Month with Free Quilt Patterns (Get details here.)
Finish my Passion 48
- Quilts and More Welcome Home wall hanging series (in Quilts and More Winter)
I got one more of my APQ Quiltalong blocks done. I have six more to go before I can sew them all together. I’m still deciding if I want to do sashing or not. I’ve seen the quilt both ways on Instagram and love them both! This decision might come down to how much time I have left to finish this!
I finished the setting and borders for the Globetrotting Block of the Month. I absolutely love the way this quilt turned out! Since I’m quilting this one myself, I need time to sketch out a quilting design. I’ve never quilted such a large quilt on my home machine, so it’ll be a fun challenge!
I cheated and took the pattern for the Quilts and More Winter Welcome Home door hanger a little early (the issue is officially on sale November 4). I’m making one for my mom for Christmas, since she loves snowmen. I have almost half of the appliqué done on one of the door hangers. A few more days of work on these and they should both be ready to go!
I have some tips for prioritizing projects. (See my tips for making your list here.)
1. Make a list. Although this seems like an obvious tip, writing down what you need to sew and any supplies you’ll have to buy can really help speed up the process. You’ll cut down on your number of shopping trips. Then organize your projects by how long they’ll take and when you need them done by. Then you can prioritize by deadline or squeeze in a project that will only take a few hours when you have a free afternoon.
2. Work before play. Although this isn’t something we love to hear, the quilts that you’re doing for yourself might need to take a backseat to any gifts or decor you need to make. And even though you may think you can always do your “work” projects tomorrow, my experience says that pushing back those type of projects can make you panic last-minute. Better to get them done as early as possible and if you have extra time, you can always do your “play” projects.
3. Recruit a friend. Did you decide to make holiday gifts for all the grandkids this year? Or did you get asked to make a few quilts for a charity auction? If you have fast deadlines or are overwhelmed with your to-do list, ask a sewing buddy to help out! Make an evening out of it with some snacks and a movie. Even if they don’t help you finish everything, they’ll at least make a dent and you’ll get some stress-relilef from the hangout.
Happy quilting in 2014! Share your own quilting to-do list in the comments and make sure to check back to see my progress.
Each month, learn a fun trick or tip to make your quilting easier and more polished! This month, learn about different batting choices and how to choose the best one for your project!
Batting is the soft layer between the quilt top and backing that gives a quilt dimension and definition and offers warmth. Because it comes in various thicknesses and fibers, it can make a quilt flat or puffy, stiff or drapable. It is available by the yard or packaged to fit standard bed sizes. The batting you use should complement the nature and use of your finished quilt. Check package labels, talk to other quilters, and test samples to find the batting with the qualities that are important for your project.
Low Loft Batting———->High Loft Batting
General Batting Characteristics
- Characteristics: Can give a puckered appearance if washing after quilted. Soft, drainable. Good for experienced quilters’ fine, hand-quilting stitching or machine quilting.
- Advantages: Natural fiber so batting breaths. Resists fiber migration. Readily available.
- Disadvantages: May have seeds and plant residue that can release oils and stain the quilt. Often cannot be pre washed. Shrinks 3% to 5% when washed. May be too dense for beginning hand quilters to needle.
Cotton/Polyester Blends 80/20, 50/50:
- Characteristics: Low to medium loft. Drapable. Good for hand quilting and machine quilting.
- Advantages: Some natural fibers so batting breaths. Resists fiber migration. Easy for beginning hand quilters to needle. Readily available.
- Disadvantages: Some shrinkage, which can be avoided by prewashing.
Wool and Wool Blends:
- Characteristics: Blend of fibers from different animal breeds. Resiliency enhances quilting stitches. Soft, drainable. Good for hand and machine quilting.
- Advantages: Natural insulator. Preshrunk. Available in black.
- Disadvantages: May have inconstant loft. May need to be encased in cheesecloth or scrim if not bonded.
- Characteristics: Has excellent body and drape. Lightweight. Good for hand quilting and machine quilting.
- Advantages: Good choice for quilted garments. Does not shrink. Can be washed.
- Disadvantages: Expensive. Not widely available. Damaged by exposure to direct sunlight.
- Characteristics: 100% cotton. Lightweight, thin. Good for machine quilting.
- Advantages: Lightweight alternative to traditional batting. Readily available.
- Disadvantages: Extreme low loft limits quilting pattern development.
- Characteristics: Available in many lofts. Suitable for hand quilting and machine quilting. High lofts is good for tied quilts, comforters.
- Advantages: Resilient, lightweight. Cannot be harmed by moths or mildew. Readily available. Available in black.
- Disadvantages: Synthetic fibers lack breathability.
- Characteristics: Good for machine quilting. Eliminates need for basting.
- Advantages: No need to prewash. Eliminates need for basting. Good choices for small projects.
- Disadvantages: Limited batting options and sizes. Adds adhesive to quilt. Difficult for hand quilters to needle.
Bamboo and Bamboo Blends:
- Characteristics: Thin scrim and smooth drape. Ideal for machine quilting.
- Advantages: Soft, silky, eco-friendly. Lightweight. Made from one of the fastest growing plants. Natural antibacterial properties.
- Disadvantages: Limited availability. Limited options and sizes.