October 30, 2014

Wool applique and embroidery

This is my sister's Christmas gift for this year. She has two dogs but has fallen in love with cats. Hopefully, she will like this wall hanging. I had no idea what to do for the border. Then, looking through my stash I found this fabric which had all the colors of the applique. Plus, the yellow brightened the piece.

I had made the center block a little while ago, but revisited it by changing the color of the cat's facial features, adding borders and quilting it. I did quilt all around the wool applique to add depth. The simple echo quilting finished everything off.

As you can see by my simple embroidery, I am no Sue Spargo... I do like to add embroidery to applique in general, and on wool applique in particular. The many textures enrich the design. The wool I used for the leaves is my favorite because it is very thick (felted from some clothing). I back stitched around each leaf but, due to its thickness, the stitches look different: I love it! Wool applique is really fun, and I am quilting another wall hanging showcasing it. I am hoping to have it ready by tomorrow or Monday.

My design is actually an ode to my first cat, Jamie, who lived to be 18 years old. As I write this, my other cat, Sapphire, has just reached over the computer mouse and scratched me! (&#$@!!!). I ain't putting her on a quilt any time soon...

I hope your Fall day is as beautiful as mine.

October 20, 2014

Reinventing the wheel: innovative quilts

Martingale - Imagine Quilts (Print version + eBook bundle)
It is often the case that traditional things, ways, solutions serve as foundation for the new, the out-of-the-box, the fresh, and unexpected. I was just going through a book I received for review and was struck by how many amazing quilts we can create if only we would forget for a little while the 'right' way to sew a block, to cut a line, to assemble a project.

Imagine Quilts by Dana Bolyard not only features beautiful modern projects, but it also helps you  look for inspiration in your fabric stash, around your surroundings, break the rules, and make delightful quilts.

In her creative process, Dana uses "scale drawings, scribbled mathematical computations, colored pencils, graph paper... and lots of head scratching...". The result, in this book, is a collection of 11 patterns which are very easy to make. She does all the hard work, and we just have to follow the clear instructions and diagrams. Works for me!

(All photographs by Brent Kane for Martingale)

Martingale - Imagine Quilts (Print version + eBook bundle)Martingale - Imagine Quilts (Print version + eBook bundle)

Martingale - Imagine Quilts (Print version + eBook bundle)Martingale - Imagine Quilts (Print version + eBook bundle)

Dresden plates, rectangles with strategically placed lines, foundation piecing, and plain old squares arranged in new ways and modern designs ensure you won't look at things around you the same way.
Imagine Quilts is a great addition to my quilting library. Now, I must finish school work so I can find time to work on the "Zip It" quilt (not shown), which I REALLY love!

Enjoy your day!

October 17, 2014

Landscape quilt

Just finished this small (13" x 11") landscape quilt, inspired by a cloudy October day. This mixed media wall hanging features machine applique with monofilament, free motion quilting, free motion embroidery, Prismacolor markers, and Prismacolor colored pencils. The clouds were the last thing I did, even after the binding was applied.

The three leaves are hanging on to the tree just like the ones which remained through the entire last winter through wind, rain, and snow, on a tree right outside my front door. I was amazed at their resilience... so here they are.

I embroidered the foliage and grass, and added the colors with markers.The tree has a bit of a Halloween look, too, perfect for this time of year. My family liked it so much that I am keeping it for us.

Enjoy your day!

October 15, 2014

Quilt Along for a Cause

Fat Quarter Shop is introducing their 2015 Snapshots Quilt Along to benefit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Their Quilt Along has 12 traditionally pieced picturesque (novelty) blocks which capture moments of happiness in our lives. The quilt features the Daysail collection by Bonnie & Camille, and quilt kits and backing are available for purchase at their shop.

The Quilt Along starts January 15th, 2015. Block patterns will be released on the 15th of each month. All they ask from participants is that you donate to St. Jude every time you download the block patterns.

Fat Quarter Shop and Moda Fabrics will match up to $10,000 from their donations for a total of $20,000. To read more about this quilt along, please visit Fat Quarter Shop's blog at http://fatquartershop.blogspot.com/2014/09/meet-our-2015-quilt-along.html.

Sounds like a great idea, don't you think?

Happy Sewing!

October 5, 2014

Tiny, tiny freemotion embroidering

I am still trying to figure out what to do next on this table top. I wish I had chosen cream or beige instead of white, but that is history now.

Fall is here and the fabrics where already on my cutting table from another project... I did not want to work with applique, so I decided to embroider the leafy motif.

For each of the white blocks, I marked the swirl and the three leaves, and placed batting on the back. Then, using Aurifil 28wt and Aurifil 50wt for the swirl, I began to free motion embroider.

I wasn't in any hurry. With slow music setting the mood, my hands moved in an almost unnoticeable fashion. There was no one in the house, nothing to distract me.

I embroidered very very tiny leaves inside each leaf using variegated thread (Sulky). I liked the pattern it made.

After I had done all four blocks, I trimmed the batting on the back. Once the top is finished, I am hoping this added batting will give more depth to the swirls and leaves.

But... what next? I often create designs from blocks such as these, but the white is stumping me. Ideas, anyone?  I will keep this project on the design wall and hope the creative fairies will work at it while I am asleep!

For now, have a productive Monday!

September 22, 2014

Learning by doing

While I was visiting my family in Brazil this summer, I had a chance to teach my sister how to make her first quilt, from beginning to end. Amongst the patterns her husband her chosen, we picked the one on the left, which was all we would have time for.

Many years ago, while my sister still lived in Boston, she and I traveled to Lancaster County, PA, and got some wonderful fabrics with which she wanted me to make a bed quilt for her. That bed quilt never happened and I kept the fabrics all these years, while I made other quilts for her house. When she mentioned she wanted to make a wall hanging for her husband's office, I knew which fabrics we would use...

I had to first learn the technique from the book, which was pretty cool. Then, we assembled all the tools (she had them all as she had been planning on becoming a quilter since I gave her a quilting machine in 2006), read the pattern together, and she proceeded to cut the fabrics. One of her daughters stayed by the ironing table, as I was helping Miriam, my sister, through the steps.

Martingale - Triangle Tricks eBookSlowly but surely the quilt was coming together. I did not have a chance to teach her the quilting, so I quilted the top before I left Brazil. Can you tell what a wonderful job she did on the picture above? Look at the points! Perfection!

At right is the picture of the quilt from Triangle Tricks - One Easy Unit, Dozens of Gorgeous Quilts, by Sally Schneider. Sally teaches you to make 10 beautiful quilts based on blocks A and B, which look very intricate but are fairly easy to make. The quilt on the book was made with oriental prints but I really liked how the fabrics we chose worked out.

Learning by doing is the best way to learn, provided the learner is ready and motivated (which my sister was), the environment is adequate (she had all the tools we needed), the instruction materials are well designed (Martingale books always present clear instructions and diagrams), among other things.

If you haven't yet tried this triangle trick technique, you may want to give it a try. Martingale is selling only the eBook version of Triangle Tricks. When I got back home I immediately ordered it and started working on my own design using the block I saw my sister sew. Take a peek at the left - these are some of my blocks with my fall-themed fabrics. Loving it!

I like the fact that we don't have to sew triangles...

Anyway, I am happy I finally had a chance to work with my sister. Although she is very busy with a full-time job and her family, the knowledge she acquired will make it easier for her to work on other projects as she finds the time.

How about you, what have you been learning lately?

PS: Don't forget to check out Fat Quarter Shop's blog for the National Sew and Quilting Month blog tour for beautiful projects and great interviews. The tour has been happening all this month, so be sure to read about all the participating bloggers and visit their blogs.

September 8, 2014

Christmas Heads Up!

Martingale - Celebrate Christmas with That Patchwork Place (Print version + eBoo
I really enjoy hand making gifts for Christmas and am always looking for cool, different projects to surprise my family and friends. That is why I love this book I've just received for review: Celebrate Christmas with That Patchwork Place - 22 Festive Projects to Quilt and Sew.

The projects are beautiful and creative, using traditional colors in innovative, modern, and fun designs. Whether you have plenty of time to work on a quilt, or can only handle a pillow or tree ornaments, you will find just what you are looking for in this book. Purses, table runners (there is one for Hanukkah, too), tree skirts, mantel covers, wall hangings, an apron... a great collection of ideas by very inspired designers.

Here are four examples to get your fingers tingling to sew:

(All photographs by Brent Kane for Martingale)
How about this Tulle Tree Skirt? What a great way to use our favorite Christmas fabrics... and the tulle softens the look, adding at once body and lightness to the skirt. 

 Martingale - Celebrate Christmas with That Patchwork Place (Print version + eBoo 
The Christmas Cracker Table Runner is a fresh take on a traditional project. I love the bits and pieces scattered around, as if the whole family had opened many of them.

Martingale - Celebrate Christmas with That Patchwork Place (Print version + eBoo
Look at the Forest Friends Holiday Ornaments - whimsical and perfect for ornament exchanges, grandchildren, and co-workers. I will make a few sets of them.

Martingale - Celebrate Christmas with That Patchwork Place (Print version + eBoo
The O Tannenbaum Pillow's design is so charming! It speaks of winter and Christmas (notice the star) with delicate simplicity.

In my library a have quite a few books by That Patchwork Place. Celebrate Christmas with That Patchwork Place - 22 Festive Projects to Quilt and Sew is now my favorite Christmas book. Check out the book's page to see more photographs - I am sure you will agree with me.

I did not tell you but I am back at school, working on my master's in Educational Psychology. I will make these projects if I have to sew between midnight and six am!!!


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