Quilt Along | AllPeopleQuilt.com Staff Blog
 

Quilt Along

5 posts.

Quilt-Along: Oh! No Contrast? (or) OH NO! Contrast!

 

I’m blaming it on too many Christmas cookies, or maybe it was the egg nog, or the chocolate rum cake. Whatever the cause, it wasn’t my fault! I lost my way. That said, it took me two blocks to remember what it was I was supposed to be doing here. It was a low-contrast exercise, right? I get that it’s self-imposed, but I think I have a problem…a contrast problem. I’m addicted to contrast! Unbeknownst to me (until now), it’s a hard habit to break.

 

Left to my own devices and with little memory, apparently, I dove into my project and made these two beautiful blocks.

 

I was on a roll and feeling good about my progress, until I pinned them up on the wall next to my other blocks.

Yikes! What is that I see? Contrast!!! It’s oozing out all over the place. What was I thinking? The first four blocks I made are starkly different from the last three…what should I do? Well, here’s what I did.

 

  1. Had a good laugh. Seriously, I learned something about myself as a quilter. Old habits are hard to break. After years of looking for contrast in quilts, both personally (I like it) and professionally (because it is easier to see in photographs)—when relaxed and quilting, contrast is my natural go-to. To make myself get outside the contrast box, so to speak, I need to buckle down and really pay attention and remember what I’m trying to do.
  2. Thought about how to get back to form—or whether I should. You’ll have to wait until the next post to see what comes next.

 

 

Moving on, I do want to share one tip I have for working with more loosely woven fabrics like the ones I’ve chosen. It’s a tip that Lisa Bongean of Primitive Gatherings shared with me a few years ago. Here’s the secret weapon:

Magic Sizing—I generously spray it on the fabrics when I press them before cutting, and use it again when I press the finished block. It really gives some stability to fabrics that might otherwise tend to ravel or curl. I’m a steam junkie, too, when it comes to pressing. So the combination of steam and sizing leaves me happy with the shape both give to my blocks.

 

 

Until next week,

Jennifer Keltner,

Executive Editor

 

P. S. I hope you’re having fun quilting along too. Please share your successes (and foibles) with the group by using the hashtag #APQquiltalong on any uploaded photos to your social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

 

 

Now, check out these other Quilt Along participant’s blogs:

  •  Amy Ellis of Amy’s Creative Side, amyscreativeside.com. Amy’s planning to make a guy-worthy quilt, with a scrappy mix of blue, green, and gray fabrics.
  • Anne Sutton of Bunny Hill Designs, bunnyhillblog.com. A rich, vintage look in hues of beige, purple, and rusty brown is what Anne is seeking.
  • Camille Roskelley of Thimble Blossoms, camilleroskelley.typepad.com. A scrappy, cheerful assortment of Bonnie and Camille prints ups the contrast.
  • Carrie Nelson of Miss Rosie’s Quilt Co., lavieenrosie.typepad.com. Carrie adds a French twist, working in a scrappy three-color palette of French General fabrics.
  • Jane Davidson of Quilt Jane, quiltjane.blogspot.com. Jane’s version is all about text-ure—text prints mixed with solid-color wovens.
  • Kimberly Jolly of Fat Quarter Shop, fatquartershop.blogspot.com. The big blocks pop when separated by colorful sashing on Kimberly’s quilt.
  • Lisa Bongean of Primitive Gatherings, lisabongean.com. Lisa turns up the volume with black backgrounds and cream and tan print patchwork.
  • Lissa Alexander, modalissa.blogspot.com. Lissa shares her experience and tips about the process of making the featured version of Tone It Down.
  • Sherri McConnell of A Quilting Life, www.aquiltinglife.com A fan of primary colors and American Jane prints? Sherri’s version might be just what inspires you!

 

 


Quilt-Along: Turn on the Lights!

 

Three blocks in and it’s time for a quick assessment. Since I’m cutting one block at a time, I’ve not committed to any one direction for my quilt to go yet.

 

So far, I’ve got three mostly dark/medium blocks with little contrast. But a whole quilt of these blocks might lead me to mourn the loss of lights altogether.

 

I’m still committed to the stash of fabrics I began with, but am ready to experiment now with the lights in my mix. For my first light(er) background I’m choosing a gray/blue stripe from the pile and two khaki green prints for the A, B, and C segments. Even though the hues are similar, up close, I do like the different textures the prints bring to the block.

Those interesting changes in texture and print are the same reason I love to look at scrappy quilts up close. The little details and differences make it a more interesting quilt to me. And I’m pleased with the finished block too…though this is about as little contrast as I could achieve from my fabric assortment, I’m happy enough to try a second light-but-low contrast block.

 

For this one, the contrast is a little more significant—not between the two lightest prints in the block, but between them and the background.

What I’m discovering about myself in this challenge is that it’s hard to kick my addiction to contrast. Here’s my second light-among-low-contrast blocks.

 

 

Now it’s time to take them from my sewing area to the design wall and answer the David Letterman question: “Is this anything?”

I’ll say yes. The all-dark block trio was a little muddy and a little disconcerting to me that it would just look like a mess when pieced together if I didn’t use any sashing (which I think is my plan). But when I add the lighter blocks, I like the contrast between the lights and darks when they’re set side by side.

 

With that in mind, I think I’ll carry on!

 

Until next week,

Jennifer Keltner,

Executive Editor

 

P. S. If you decide to join in—don’t forget to share! We’re so excited to see what everyone’s making as they quilt along! We created a hashtag you can use on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. Simply hashtag any uploaded photos to your own social media sites with #APQquiltalong. That will make it easy for all of us to see what everyone is working on! I’ll be back to share my progress with you soon.

 

 

Now, check out these other Quilt Along participant’s blogs:

  •  Amy Ellis of Amy’s Creative Side, amyscreativeside.com. Amy’s planning to make a guy-worthy quilt, with a scrappy mix of blue, green, and gray fabrics.
  • Anne Sutton of Bunny Hill Designs, bunnyhillblog.com. A rich, vintage look in hues of beige, purple, and rusty brown is what Anne is seeking.
  • Camille Roskelley of Thimble Blossoms, camilleroskelley.typepad.com. A scrappy, cheerful assortment of Bonnie and Camille prints ups the contrast.
  • Carrie Nelson of Miss Rosie’s Quilt Co., lavieenrosie.typepad.com. Carrie adds a French twist, working in a scrappy three-color palette of French General fabrics.
  • Jane Davidson of Quilt Jane, quiltjane.blogspot.com. Jane’s version is all about text-ure—text prints mixed with solid-color wovens.
  • Kimberly Jolly of Fat Quarter Shop, fatquartershop.blogspot.com. The big blocks pop when separated by colorful sashing on Kimberly’s quilt.
  • Lisa Bongean of Primitive Gatherings, lisabongean.com. Lisa turns up the volume with black backgrounds and cream and tan print patchwork.
  • Lissa Alexander, modalissa.blogspot.com. Lissa shares her experience and tips about the process of making the featured version of Tone It Down.
  • Sherri McConnell of A Quilting Life, www.aquiltinglife.com A fan of primary colors and American Jane prints? Sherri’s version might be just what inspires you!

 

 


Quilt-Along: Do As We Say, Not As I Do

 

I decided to start making my blocks while I was on a quilting retreat and the feedback was interesting. When I had my fabrics spread out on the table, the response was mixed.

Some people liked the low contrast, others thought the pile looked too drab. It may not be a palette for everyone, but give it time, it may grow on you.

 

Because I’d limited my palette to the fabrics I had on hand, I cut fabrics for one block at a time…something I don’t usually do. I then placed them in position at my sewing table. To get some differentiation in pieces, I ended up using three prints per block. Here’s my first finished block.

Looking at just one block, I’m not yet sure about the palette I’ve picked, but already I’ve learned a couple of things.

 

I’m usually a chain piecer and I like to multitask. So, I confess I was sewing this block together at the same time I was sewing another project…making the most of not having to cut the thread too often.  The first thing I learned is you REALLY SHOULD put the block together in rows like the instructions call for. I started picking up random pairs, sure that I could keep it straight. It’s true confession time…here’s what I ended up with:

 

 

This was like a Jenga puzzle! It took me forever to figure out what went where once I snipped pieces off the chain. Why, oh, why didn’t I sew it together in rows as written? Who knows! I blame it on the fun retreat friends I was yakking away with and maybe the glass of grape juice I was enjoying while I sewed. Even when I thought I’d figured it out, I made a mistake that I didn’t discover until the block was finished. Do you see it? It’s the center of the strip on the right hand edge. The strip is turned the wrong way! The little brown square at the center should be on the outside, not the inside. YIKES!

Eventually, with the help of my reverse sewing device (aka seam ripper) I was able to save the block and my sanity by promising to make no more blocks without following the instructions. So, for my second block I followed the prescribed set of plans and was much happier.

Again I used mostly darks from my assortment, though this block had slightly more contrast than the first. I followed the assembly instructions as written to a T and it was FAR, FAR EASIER—lesson #1 was learned! But, another true confession, I once again turned one of the side units the wrong way. A little seam ripping of that piece and I was back in business. Not sure why I can’t see that in my head as I’m placing pieces, but I was consistent….consistently wrong on blocks 1 and 2. Perhaps three will be the charm for me. Whew!

 

So, for block three I dipped into my “lights” to pull in a slightly more contrasty look for the nine-patches and four-patches.

I pieced it to perfection….with the exception of that one side unit I turned the wrong way again! I think I wasn’t meant to piece this block so late in the evening at a retreat….hmmm. Easily fixed, but seriously, what’s my deal? I’m setting this project aside until morning.

 

 

Jennifer Keltner,

Executive Editor

 

P. S. If you decide to join in—don’t forget to share! We’re so excited to see what everyone’s making as they quilt along! We created a hashtag you can use on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. Simply hashtag any uploaded photos to your own social media sites with #APQquiltalong. That will make it easy for all of us to see what everyone is working on! I’ll be back to share my progress with you soon.

 

 

Now, check out these other Quilt Along participant’s blogs:

  •  Amy Ellis of Amy’s Creative Side, amyscreativeside.com. Amy’s planning to make a guy-worthy quilt, with a scrappy mix of blue, green, and gray fabrics.
  • Anne Sutton of Bunny Hill Designs, bunnyhillblog.com. A rich, vintage look in hues of beige, purple, and rusty brown is what Anne is seeking.
  • Camille Roskelley of Thimble Blossoms, camilleroskelley.typepad.com. A scrappy, cheerful assortment of Bonnie and Camille prints ups the contrast.
  • Carrie Nelson of Miss Rosie’s Quilt Co., lavieenrosie.typepad.com. Carrie adds a French twist, working in a scrappy three-color palette of French General fabrics.
  • Jane Davidson of Quilt Jane, quiltjane.blogspot.com. Jane’s version is all about text-ure—text prints mixed with solid-color wovens.
  • Kimberly Jolly of Fat Quarter Shop, fatquartershop.blogspot.com. The big blocks pop when separated by colorful sashing on Kimberly’s quilt.
  • Lisa Bongean of Primitive Gatherings, lisabongean.com. Lisa turns up the volume with black backgrounds and cream and tan print patchwork.
  • Lissa Alexander, modalissa.blogspot.com. Lissa shares her experience and tips about the process of making the featured version of Tone It Down.
  • Sherri McConnell of A Quilting Life, www.aquiltinglife.com A fan of primary colors and American Jane prints? Sherri’s version might be just what inspires you!

 

 


Quilt-Along: Gone to the Dark Side?

Ready for more of the American Patchwork & Quilting Quilt-Along? (Click here if you missed last week’s post—there’s still time to join in the fun. We’re working on a quilt pattern you can find in the February 2014 issue of American Patchwork & Quilting magazine on-sale now at quilt shops, newsstands, and digitally at allpeoplequilt.com/getdigital.)

 

To pick up where I left off last week, I chose a palette of taupes for my version of Tone It Down and then mixed in some brushed cottons to add variety to the mix. Once I’d pulled all the potential fabrics from my stash, I spread them out on a cutting mat to get a feel for the range of colors and to see if anything popped out too much. Remember, my self-imposed rule was to keep contrast to a minimum and use only what I had.

 

I sorted into “lights” and “darks” which was no small task given the drab tone of my entire selection. Here’s what I felt could work as my “darks.”

 

And here is my selection of “lights.”

 

Now it didn’t take long for me to notice that there are way more darks than lights, which speaks to a continuing problem in my stash saga. When fabric shopping (or as I like to call it, researching) I’m almost always attracted to rich, saturated colors in fabrics—the darker and richer the better—leaving me with a paltry number of lights in the mix. Note to self: buy more lights when stash building to round out the assortment of fabrics on hand. (Whew, I feel like I’ll be on a mission now to help myself build a better stash! Don’t you love it when a project designed to use your stash leads you to begin replacement therapy right away? Tough work, but someone’s got to do it. I’m in!)

 

Okay, back to the project at hand. Here are the few fabrics I kicked out of the mix.

What got them tossed out? Looking at the photo from dark to light, here are my reasons:

 

  • Too dark and thus too much contrast.
  • Too minty and bold, stood out like a sore thumb.
  • This one looked like it should work, but in the end was too light to be a dark, and too dark to be a light. Stuck in the middle, this one stood out too much in the pile.
  • Way too light and bright.

 

Once I put it all together, here’s my final fabric palette.

 

I’m ready to piece a block together and my plan is this: Two fabrics per block, contrast kept to a minimum without getting too mushy. My challenge? I’m not sure I can do it using only these fabrics. But, I’m excited at the prospect of trying. That’s the fun of the quilt-along…trying something new and seeing whether or not it works. If it does, great! If it doesn’t….well, there could be some great patchwork pillows for my son and husband in this mix. Stay tuned…

 

 

Jennifer Keltner,

Executive Editor

 

P. S. If you decide to join in—don’t forget to share! We’re so excited to see what everyone’s making as they quilt along! We created a hashtag you can use on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. Simply hashtag any uploaded photos to your own social media sites with #APQquiltalong. That will make it easy for all of us to see what everyone is working on! I’ll be back to share my progress with you soon.

 

 

Now, check out these other Quilt Along participant’s blogs:

  •  Amy Ellis of Amy’s Creative Side, amyscreativeside.com. Amy’s planning to make a guy-worthy quilt, with a scrappy mix of blue, green, and gray fabrics.
  • Anne Sutton of Bunny Hill Designs, bunnyhillblog.com. A rich, vintage look in hues of beige, purple, and rusty brown is what Anne is seeking.
  • Camille Roskelley of Thimble Blossoms, camilleroskelley.typepad.com. A scrappy, cheerful assortment of Bonnie and Camille prints ups the contrast.
  • Carrie Nelson of Miss Rosie’s Quilt Co., lavieenrosie.typepad.com. Carrie adds a French twist, working in a scrappy three-color palette of French General fabrics.
  • Jane Davidson of Quilt Jane, quiltjane.blogspot.com. Jane’s version is all about text-ure—text prints mixed with solid-color wovens.
  • Kimberly Jolly of Fat Quarter Shop, fatquartershop.blogspot.com. The big blocks pop when separated by colorful sashing on Kimberly’s quilt.
  • Lisa Bongean of Primitive Gatherings, lisabongean.com. Lisa turns up the volume with black backgrounds and cream and tan print patchwork.
  • Lissa Alexander, modalissa.blogspot.com. Lissa shares her experience and tips about the process of making the featured version of Tone It Down.
  • Sherri McConnell of A Quilting Life, www.aquiltinglife.com A fan of primary colors and American Jane prints? Sherri’s version might be just what inspires you!

 

 


Quilt Along With Us!

What I love most about taking a quilting class is that in addition to what I learn from the instructor, I also always take away something I learn from other participants in the class. There are so many great ideas for ways to make quilting more fun, more precise, more enjoyable, more distinctive…more amazing. The downside is I don’t always have time to take all the classes I want. That’s why I’m thrilled about this first-ever quilt along with American Patchwork & Quilting magazine. It will be like taking a class with nine top instructors, AND I can quilt along in my pajamas from the comfort of my own sewing room.

 

Join these designers, below, and follow their progress as they Quilt Along on Tone It Down.

Between November 19 and February 5, they’ll each be sharing their version—along with the tips, tools, and tricks they used in making their quilts. You may wish to join in the fun by making Tone It Down just like the original quilt, or you may find a colorway you prefer from one of the other designers. The choice is yours. The quilt pattern can be found in the February 2014 issue of American Patchwork & Quilting magazine, available beginning December 3rd.

 

 

If you’re a subscriber, your copy should arrive soon. If you’re not a subscriber, look for the issue at quilt shops or on newsstands, or download the digital edition at allpeoplequilt.com/getdigital. The rules are simple—there are none! Make your quilt the way you like it in the size and color palette you love!

 

 

First up, let’s talk about low-volume. That’s what the original quilt started out as an exercise in for designer Lissa Alexander. An antique quilt inspired her design. “I don’t ordinarily piece with a variety of small to medium light-tone background prints,” Lissa says. “That’s just not what I have in my stash. For this quilt, working with those prints became the challenge. I tried to keep the contrast to a minimum. I do know I turned the volume up when I started mixing in reds, oranges, and dark blues. Much like a favorite song on the radio, I just couldn’t help myself. I had to turn it up a bit!”

 

Much like asking a group of listeners what constitutes low volume when referring to a television’s sound, asking quilters for a definition of low-volume quilts can elicit varied responses. But here are a few similarities most low-volume quilts share:

  • They generally are pieced from a scrappy mix of prints that all have light or white backgrounds. These low-contrast fabrics can appear almost solid from a distance, but up close you can see the texture and diversity of the fabrics.
  • The finished quilt often has a delicate appearance with a soft cottage or even faded look.
  • Once pieced, the quilt pattern takes a backseat to the myriad incorporated fabric patterns.

 

 

GETTING STARTED

When I began selecting fabrics for my version, I wanted to stay true to Lissa’s idea of challenging myself with a fabric palette I might not otherwise work with. What did I choose? Taupes.

 Ordinarily, I’m a high-contrast quilter who uses a scrappy assortment of colors in my quilts. But for this project, I was inspired by the beautiful palette used by many Japanese quiltmakers. So I pulled some Japanese Daiwabo fabrics out of my stash and then added some other taupes (from Maywood and EESchenck) I had stashed away long ago. What I love about these fabrics is that it’s not only about color, it’s about texture. Look at the great textures in these prints.

 

 

Then, because I’m not really a purist at heart, I threw in some brushed cottons that I felt would round out the palette.

 

This was a bundle of Whimsicals fabric by designer Terri Degenkolb. Again, it’s an older line I had in my stash, but I thought some of the colors would work and I like the idea of using a variety of textures too.

 

As an experiment, I thought I’d try to work with only the stash fabrics and not add anything else. Since most of what I had in this palette was fat eighths or fat quarters—it adds to the challenge (thrill?!?) when it comes to cutting out the required number of pieces for each block. But, I love a challenge…. Next week, I’ll share how I added and removed fabrics from the mix.

 

Jennifer Keltner,

Executive Editor

 

P. S. If you decide to join in—don’t forget to share! We’re so excited to see what everyone’s making as they quilt along! We created a hashtag you can use on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. Simply hashtag any uploaded photos to your own social media sites with #APQquiltalong. That will make it easy for all of us to see what everyone is working on! I’ll be back to share my progress with you soon.

 

 

Now, check out these other Quilt Along participant’s blogs:

  •  Amy Ellis of Amy’s Creative Side, amyscreativeside.com. Amy’s planning to make a guy-worthy quilt, with a scrappy mix of blue, green, and gray fabrics.
  • Anne Sutton of Bunny Hill Designs, bunnyhillblog.com. A rich, vintage look in hues of beige, purple, and rusty brown is what Anne is seeking.
  • Camille Roskelley of Thimble Blossoms, camilleroskelley.typepad.com. A scrappy, cheerful assortment of Bonnie and Camille prints ups the contrast.
  • Carrie Nelson of Miss Rosie’s Quilt Co., lavieenrosie.typepad.com. Carrie adds a French twist, working in a scrappy three-color palette of French General fabrics.
  • Jane Davidson of Quilt Jane, quiltjane.blogspot.com. Jane’s version is all about text-ure—text prints mixed with solid-color wovens.
  • Kimberly Jolly of Fat Quarter Shop, fatquartershop.blogspot.com. The big blocks pop when separated by colorful sashing on Kimberly’s quilt.
  • Lisa Bongean of Primitive Gatherings, lisabongean.com. Lisa turns up the volume with black backgrounds and cream and tan print patchwork.
  • Lissa Alexander, modalissa.blogspot.com. Lissa shares her experience and tips about the process of making the featured version of Tone It Down.
  • Sherri McConnell of A Quilting Life, www.aquiltinglife.com A fan of primary colors and American Jane prints? Sherri’s version might be just what inspires you!