At my desk there is a piece of paper called Deadlines, Etc. Every month I update it to reflect the current month and the two upcoming months. It’s taped right where I can’t miss it. And where it’s easy to draw a big red line through completed items. This is the first time in a long time that there isn’t anything on the third month. And until yesterday, there wasn’t even anything on the second month. It feels weird. Getting off the hamster wheel of all those past deadlines is taking a bit of effort. In order to help me slow down and work at a more reasonable pace, I decided to start a new project. I’m not exactly sure what these triangles are going to turn into. But I do love the possibilities. Yesterday afternoon, I dove into my Parson Gray stash and started cutting. By the time the light was gone, I had a nice stack of EPP triangles.The morning’s activities included laying out the AMH EPP project to see just how many of these diamond stars I still need to make. (The answer…10. Plus 36 single diamonds.) Barring unforeseen circumstances, I might actually start piecing this project together before Christmas! Or not. Only time will tell.
And I forgot to post the Color Therapy block of the month for October!! So here it is. The colors for the month were Golden Saffron and Tango. No one does these two colors better than Kaffe. Warm and happy, this block wants to be the life of the party. I particularly like the way the piecing is arranged in the nine patch center. It creates the illusion of a lattice of brilliance over a beautiful red orange star.
With any luck, this week will be the calm, slow week I was expecting, but didn’t get, last week. Or not.
My last batch of sample sewing for Market included Amy Butler’s Glow in both voile and knit. Each substrate needed to be used for a large pillow. For the voile, I adapted Amy’s free Bloom quilt pattern (with her permission, of course) to make this pillow. Giant, large, medium and small yo yo’s grace the front. It’s a real eye popping piece in real life. Then, it was on to the knit. We settled on a false woven design for this large pillow. It’s the kind of pillow that makes you want to touch it–a visual and tactile experience. To make it work, I used Shape Flex for the back panels and gathered all the “blocks” onto a muslin base before putting it all together. And last, but certainly not least, are two bags in Anna Maria Horner’s two new collections. First up, Honor Roll. The pattern for this bag should be available this month or next on the Make It Coats website. Honor Roll should be shipping to shops this month.Folk Song will be in shops in the New Year. I’m so pleased to see this old favorite back in play. I put together a patchwork carryall bag for this collection. The free pattern for this one will also be available on the Make It Coats site, but not until February or thereabouts.It’s a big roomy, slouchy bag with only one strap. I boxed the corners on the outside by pulling up the corners and securing them with pearl cotton and a decorative button. This version is not quilted but you could go a little crazy with the quilting and add even more interest.And that’s it for the Market samples! After it’s all over, I have a tendency to forget the sheer quantity of items. It’s all a bit of blur to be honest. Writing these posts for you helps me see just how productive I have been.
Now, I need to get back to some fun sewing. There’s still a bit of pattern writing to be done for some of these projects; however, I’m forcing myself to focus on creating just for me, just because. And for a few minutes every day, I have been able to work on my EPP project–something I’ve been dying to do for a while now. Of course, there are stacks of fabric around here calling for my attention. Clamoring is more like it.
So, stay tuned and see what comes next.
Sewing samples for Market is a bit of theater, at least for me. Sometimes I have a script to follow. (i.e. specific patterns with specific prints.) Other times, the times I like best, are pure improvisation. In these instances there may be some direction (e.g. a large round poof) or none at all.For Tula Pink’s Bumble collection, I was given the direction of large round poof, preferably with hexies. I received this little bundle of fat quarters along with some yardage for the rest of the piece. Since the days were quickly speeding by, small hexies were out. Just not enough time for something so involved. Not when I had a lot of stuff still on my list and about two weeks to get it done.This is what I did with large machine pieced hexies. These are 5 1/2″ hexies cut using Darlene Zimmerman’s template for EZ Quilting. I quilted it very simply using a 1/4″ line on either side of each horizontal row of hexies. Just enough quilting to enhance the shapes but not too much to take up all the time remaining. Nice fat piping circles the poof.
I should tell you, if you haven’t read this elsewhere already, this fabric is peached and has a very soft hand. Ideal for baby stuff, which is exactly what Tula had in mind. I particularly love the bee print. And those gradient hexies.For Heather Bailey’s Clementine collection, I had the script–namely, a pattern and the fabric. (Sorry the lighting isn’t great in this photo. I was in a rush to grab one before it went in the box for shipping.) I had a bit of trouble with the zipper. It happens sometimes. You just aren’t in a patient frame of mind and you have to put a zipper in a fitted section. Trouble, my friends. Nothing but trouble. After the third attempt to get this dang zipper in, I gave up and put it in by hand. After it was in, I realized I really liked it this way. The dress is a retro pattern and the hand stitches have that haute couture feel you expect from an old fashioned fancy dress.
Next up was Denyse Schmidt’s Franklin collection. My instructions…make a couple pillows in Denyse’s aesthetic. Fortunately, that was an easy task for me. Denyse’s style is uncomplicated, plenty of negative space and a good variety of prints. Cut, mix and stitch. Viola!Place mats and napkins were also requested using this tutorial by Laurel Krynock for imaginenats.com. Once a plate is centered on one of these mats, you’d have a nice edge of patchwork to look at.Working up these two little totes was a last minute rush, but worth it. It’s a nice way to show off the large floral of Joel Dewberry’s Flora collection. I’m glad I got these out the door in time.
Still to come…two pillows in Amy Butler fabrics and a couple of bags in Anna Maria Horner’s two collections. Phew! I think my final list of items completed for Market was right at or just over two dozen. No wonder I’m falling behind on other stuff!
The second batch of fabric to arrive at my door in need of sample sewing was Jane‘s new collection, Prairie Chic. She never disappoints. Time after time, she brings us designs to inspire and excite us. And of course, plenty of eye catching color.Dandy Dancer is a free quilt of Jane’s which will be available through Free Spirit. It is bright and full of movement, showing off the blue colorway. It’s all about fussy cutting and letting the fabric do the hard work. The back is pieced as well with large simple squares in two prints.I made four pillows to highlight some of the prints. My favorite is the one in the top left box. Lots of big stitch quilting added texture. And of course, I had to throw in some buttons. Just imagine one of these as a repeating quilt block. Wouldn’t they make for a dramatic quilt?Jane asked me to make a bag, a big one that would stand up on its own, preferably something of my own. That’s how the Traveling Companion Bag came about. I played with some ideas but this one really seemed to be the best canvas for her larger than life designs. Having such great designs to play with really does make my job easy. I’m a lucky girl. No doubt about it.Of course, Stinka had to give her two cents. She’s all in favor. Can’t you tell?
Next up, a few projects in Denyse Schmidt, Heather Bailey and Tula Pink collections. See you then!
Introducing the Traveling Companion Bag…I love this bag! And I’m excited to offer this pattern so you can make one, or more, for yourself. Let’s talk details first and then I’ll give you some thoughts about making your own.
- Finished size of large bag: 18″ x 6″ x 14″
- Finished size of small bag: 14″ x 5″ x 10″
- Zippered top (zipper installation method: “zipper sandwich”)
- Large has three exterior pockets and one interior pocket
- Small has two exterior pockets and one interior pocket
- Peltex on the sides and the bottom/Shape Flex and Thermolam on Front and Back panels/Decor Bond on lining
- Yardage requirements for both 45″ wide and 54″ wide+ fabrics
- Supply list
- Cutting checklist for fabrics and all interfacings
- Cutting layout diagrams
- Step by step instructions with diagrams
- Tips for a great looking bag
The bag is boxy and roomy. With the Peltex, Shape Flex, Thermolam and Decor Bond, it stands up on its own. (The bags in the photos are all empty. No stuffing required for staging.) Accessing the interior is easy with the zippered top. I’ve rated this bag for intermediate sewists or really brave beginners. All the seams are straight which is easy enough. But you do have to manhandle the pieces as you put the exterior of the bag together and also when you attach the lining. Patience is probably the most important skill.
Assembling the bag requires stop/start sewing. Careful marking of 1/2″ seam allowances at the corners and precise backstitching, along with careful clipping, are the keys to crisp corners. Depending on fabric choices, seams may need some grading at the corners. All the straight lines on this bag make it a great canvas for your unique expression. Add ribbons or other trim. Fussy cut design elements. Use a different print for each piece to achieve a patchwork look. Or make actual patchwork pieces to size for the pattern’s pieces. Quilt the front and back pieces before adding the pockets. There’s a lot of room for creativity here!
I suggest spot cleaning this bag. If you absolutely have to wash it, hand wash it carefully and air dry before ironing it. If you’ll be taking this bag everywhere, and there’s a high probability you’ll want to, think about spraying the finished bag with Scotchguard or other stain repellent.
Now that Quilt Market is wrapping up, I can share the projects I worked on for Free Spirit. I’ll post in the same order as I sewed them. The first batch of fabric to arrive on my doorstep was Jenean’s Star Landing. It’s everything you expect from Jenean and a little bit extra!I have two favorite prints in this collection. One of them is a hexagonal cheater print called Hexie Medallion. I designed a very simple quilt for this print–one that uses minimal piecing, raw edge applique and simple quilting. I added additional gray big stitch quilting before I sent this off but Stinka wasn’t around to help with photography at that point.My other favorite print is Flower Sketch. Oh, the possibilities!!!Here’s what happened to a portion of this print:I used pearl cotton and embroidery thread to create a lovely medallion for this pillow. If you look at the image of the plain fabric, you will see a nearly complete floral motif in the lower left quadrant. That’s the motif I used for this embroidery. You can see that I chose to combine some of the sections into larger areas for this piece, mostly in the interest of time. And I have to admit, it was hard to stop. I just wanted to keep at it. Just imagine this in a larger size. The “Wow” factor would be off the charts.Of course, there has to be a darling dress and this time it’s McCalls 6959. The pattern is really easy and goes together in a flash. I think the binding took more time to make than the dress itself.Another pieced and quilted pillow shows off the smaller prints, as well as additional colors. And of course, how can we not have a bag? This is the same pattern I made for Jane’s Gregory’s Garden collection last Spring.That little star like embellishment is fussy cut from the Hexie Medallion print. I used Phoomph to give it some dimension. You could easily, and quickly, make a garland of these from all the different hexies in the repeat.
And that’s the end of the Star Landing samples. As usual, Jenean and I were thinking on the same wave lengths when we talked about what to make. I just love working with her! It’s always a good feeling when it all “clicks” and things happen effortlessly.
I have more Flower Sketch to play with, so I’ll be back with some other ideas for that wonderful print. In the meantime, go see what Jenean has been up to.
It’s Schoolhouse today at Quilt Market. I’m a little sad to be missing all the excitement. On the other hand, it’s been nice not to have the rush of sewing, followed by the rush of traveling and all that entails (both money and energy drains). It feels right to be sitting here enjoying some sunny afternoons with Stinka, writing patterns and thinking about what needs doing before the end of the year.
Speaking of patterns, I’m almost done with the next one for the shop. I love this one! I just need to simplify one step, get some photos for the pattern cover and then I’ll list it. The bag is incredibly practical and there are two size options. Here’s what the smaller one looks like.I’ll give you all the details when I put it up in the shop. Of course, I’ll have plenty of other photos to show you as well. I’m calling this one Traveling Companion because its boxy shape is suited to the type of packing a trip requires–whether that trip is a day trip or a weekend getaway.
A large version of the bag is debuting at Quilt Market in Jane Sassaman’s new Prairie Chic collection. More on all of that gorgeous fabric in a few days. So many pretty things to share. I can’t wait.
Have a Happy Friday!
Having tools isn’t always enough. Sometimes you need some suggestions, ideas or even a friendly shove in order to get the creativity flowing. When beginning any new project, especially brand new projects with tools you haven’t used much, there can be a moment of frozen hesitation. Some of us are lucky enough to whiz by those without a backwards glance. But for most, it takes some thought.
When using a drawing program to create a pattern, you are faced with numerous decisions and an unthinkable amount of choices. I find the best way to avoid getting overwhelmed in a thing is to break it down into manageable parts. No need to conceptualize your grand masterpiece, although if that’s your personality, go for it. Just start. One click after the next. The beauty of a digital design is the ease with which you can change things. It actually encourages you to go a little crazy.
So let’s break this down to manageable parts. First, decide on the style. Do you want an orderly piece with easy to figure patchwork pieces? Or do you want a piece with that Art School flair, full of negative space and oddly combined shapes? You don’t have to decide this immediately. You can wait until you have shapes on the page and see what they’re telling you. But if you do decide, you have narrowed your focus and can devote your attention to the other decisions.
Second, choose some colors. You’ll be surprised by the way color choices will affect your attention. If you’re feeling a bit “mehhhh…” about the design, change up the colors and see if that improves your opinion. Sometimes, that’s all it takes. Other times, it will be the impetus to move you in a new direction. Just remember, it only takes a click of a mouse to make a change. You don’t have to open a tube or clean the brush.
Of course, choosing colors can be a quandary in and of itself. If you get stuck, remember color palette generators. They’re a great tool for inspiration and for seeing things you don’t see at a glance. Check out the websites of paint brands. They inevitably have swatch groups they’ve chosen for coordination. Or pick up a Color Index if you want something a bit more design related but only want to spend about $20 instead of $500.
Just because we’re playing with solid colors in our pattern doesn’t mean you have to use solids in your final project. Look for prints that “read” strongly in the color family you’re using. Those prints will make good choices for your piece. You will need to audition others as some prints will “read” more strongly when set with different colors.
If you’ve decided to make the less traditional pattern you may be facing a small crisis despite color choices. It can be puzzling to figure out what “works” and what doesn’t. Because I’m intuitive designer, I go with what looks right to me. I don’t keep a list of rules in my head, although I’ve learned a few of them in art class in Jr. High and High School. I just start playing. Here’s how my inner dialogue might go during this stage of the process:
“Hmmm…I don’t like that rectangle. What if it moves over here?”
“Oh…no. That’s worse. Yuck!”
“Okay. What about making it smaller and putting it over here? And then taking that triangle and flipping it over on its back?”
“Yeah, that’s it. But all this blank space….B.O.R.I.N.G! Maybe a little square?”
“Or maybe a big square? Maybe both. Just move this one over a little and then put that one over there….”
“Ha! I think that might be it!”
Yes, that’s really the kind of things that go on in my head during the process. Along with a few other random thoughts like “Where’s my coffee?” and “Is Stinka still in the house?” As you can see, I’m really just playing and seeing what works. I encourage you to try doing things this way. It will make the process more enjoyable.
If the thought of that type of designing makes you break out in hives, don’t worry. Just keep two basic art composition rules– the Rule of Thirds and the Rule of Odds–in mind as you work. Without going into a lot of detail, the Rule of Thirds breaks up the composition into sections–three across and three down, just like a Tic Tac Toe game. You want to avoid lines which cut your design into quarters. The Rule of Odds is about the number of objects framing the subject. Odd wins. Humans tend to find odd numbers for comforting, reassuring, etc. Hence, more interesting. Google “rule of odds” and “rule of thirds” for more exhaustive information.
There truly is no substitute for play. That’s the big secret, really. If you approach all those choices as part of the fun, you’re halfway there. Get serious about playing and there’s no telling what you might do.
Thank you for all your comments, suggestions and compliments. Blogs are taking a backseat to quick and snappy social media outlets like Twitter, Instagram and of course, Facebook. It’s easy to see why. Blogs take more time, more energy and a lot more thought to maintain. But it’s precisely those things that make a blog, and blogging, valuable to me. It’s much more satisfying to have a lengthy conversation which is what blogging really is–as opposed to a quick shout out and a wave, which is what you get from Twitter, Instagram, et al.
Those avenues can have value. I’m not opposed to them. I’ve just realized that this is where I’m happiest. Blogging is more meaningful for me and so it is especially gratifying to know that it’s also meaningful for you. That you’re finding things here that inspire you and make you wonder and think. Thank you for being part of the conversation!
A few of you mentioned a desire to see garments. Some of you would like more How To’s and skill building posts. And of course, continuing posts of Stinka seem to be a priority for most. Fortunately, all of those things are on my radar for the coming year. It’s going to be another fun filled, colorful year for the blog, I assure you.