Monday, September 22, 2014

Sew Me A Song - sponsored give away

Today I have a texty bundle of 8 fat quarters to give away, sponsored by the lovely Becca at Sew Me A Song.

When I went to Quilt Market last spring, Becca made a point of connecting with me. She took me with her as she shopped and placed orders at the market, explaining many of the details of the fabric industry to me. Market is overwhelming, and it was very generous of Becca to make sure a newbie was able to understand how it all works. She is warm, funny, smart and nice - I only wish she lived closer.

Becca started Sew Me A Song when she moved to Maine. She carefully curates her fabric collection - it is a fantastic mix of unusual fabrics, including Japanese and other unusual and quirky fabric options. You will seldom see a whole fabric line in Becca's shop and you will often see fabrics that you have not seen before in other shops.

So to win this beautiful texty bundle - Becca told me she was dreaming of making a steam punk quilt with these as background - just leave me one comment. Have a look at Becca's shop - click here and let me know what you like or what you think about her unusual collection of fabrics. And if you follow me (new or old follower) somewhere - on the blog, instagram, flickr, etc. - you can leave a second comment if you just let me know where you do.

I will close the draw at dinner time on Thursday, September 25, draw the winner randomly from the comments, and post the winner either Thursday night or Saturday morning - depending on how Thursday night goes at my house.

Please make sure there is a trail back to you or I will draw again. If in doubt, add your email address to your comments.



Friday, September 19, 2014

if you were shopping... #7

Welcome to if you're shopping.... On Fridays I will share with you the news from my sponsors, in case you want to do a little shopping, or even window shopping, this weekend.

Sew Sisters is getting ready for their big sale on Kona solids. I can't wait!

At the Fat Quarter Shop, I am loving that bundle of fabrics from the Daysail line by Bonnie and Camille.

My favourite Massdrop deal this week is the Superior Thread Holder Sewing Notion. I highly recommend you watch the Superior Threads video too, as it will explain the way to use different kind of thread spools to avoid adding extra twist to them. Extra twist causes your thread tension to be off and threads to break.

Green Fairy Quilts, has Jelly Rolls at $29.95 with free shipping in the
U.S., or the codes JELLY3, JELLY6 or JELLY10 can be used with 3, 6 or 10
Jelly Rolls for even better deals as low as $26.95 each.

Oakshott Fabrics has  more beautiful colours in their Colourshotts line. You can also get layer cakes of the new colours (above) or the earlier ones too.

Fabric Spark has new Japanese fabrics, including this beautiful Echino print. 

Fluffy Sheep Quilting, has received Paint. I have been waiting for this fabric to start showing up in the shops. I was able to meet Carrie Bloomston at Quilt Market and she is lovely, as is her fabric.

Today at Sew me a Song, I am looking at the fantastic range of text based fabrics. You can see them all by going here.

Mad about Patchwork   is opening their bricks and mortar store in Stittsville, Ontario, Canada on Saturday September 20. They have  with scrap bags for the first 15 people to arrive. There will be 10% off all purchases, with a free gift for purchases over $50. The 10% discount on all in-stock items  (excludes Cotton + Steel pre-orders) has already started, for online purchases use the coupon CELEBRATE10 which is valid only until midnight September 20, 2014. Online orders over $50 (before tax + shipping) will also receive a free gift.

Enjoy your weekend!



Thursday, September 18, 2014

Decipher Your Quilt - Tessellations

Jess, from Elven Garden Quilts, and I are back today with another post in our Decipher Your Quilt series. The goal of DYQ is to make it easier for quilters to understand quilts and quilt blocks and how to make quilts and quilt blocks and resize them without reference to patterns or books.

The coaster

Today we are going to discuss Tessellations. A tessellation is a pattern created by using a repeating shape to fills the space without gaps. A regular tessellation using only one shape must be constructed of equilateral triangles, squares or hexagons. Although as a quilter, I immediately want to try to prove that wrong with other shapes, geometry, and wikipedia, says that only these three shapes will work.

Scrappy Trip

It is no surprise to any quilter that you can place squares beside squares and make a quilt - a two dimensional plane without spaces. In fact, in quilting, many design elements are sashed to become squares, placed inside of a square frame or applied on top of squares. Then the quilter needs only to join the squares into rows and the rows into a quilt top. Although you did not realize it, this process allows you to utilize the mathematical concept of tessellation.

Friends - a quilt

Quilters use triangles in many ways, but the ones we see very often are either HSTs - half square triangles - which allow us to put the triangles together to get the square that easily tessellates in pattern or equilateral triangles - which are the second shape that tessellates naturally.

I think the reason that quilters use equilateral triangles less often as the foundation for their quilts is not because they are less beautiful as a tessellation, but rather because of the nature of fabric. When you cut an equilateral (60 degree) triangle, the fabric is now cut on the bias on at least two sides and easily stretches out of shape, making it much harder to work with and less likely to be a lovely flat quilt top. I have just realized that I have never made a quilt or any item using equilateral triangles - I need to remedy that soon.

Hexie blog - Travellin' Pic Stitch Blog Hop

The last regular tessellation is formed by using hexagons. These are so often seen in nature, just think of the honeycomb. Quilters love hexagons, but this shape has two disadvantages. The edges are again cut on the bias and Y-seams are needed to sew them together. These disadvantages are overcome the easiest by using English Paper Piecing techniques.

English paper piecing

Of course, geometry  does not stop there. One can have may other kinds of tessellations, ones with two shapes, ones with different rules. They all have a pattern which is recognized and repeats in the same size to fill all the space without gaps. Of course, you can leave open spaces in your tessellating pattern if you want to as well.

When you want to decipher a quilt pattern which utilizes a tessellation, you will know that:
  • You will need identically sized shapes  - whether those are the squares, triangles or hexagons of a regular tessellation or the group of shapes in an irregular tessellation.
    Giant Plus
  • You can resize the tessellating shapes to whatever size you want, and as long as you make all the other parts the same size, you will continue to achieve your pattern, only larger or smaller. All of the squares, triangles, hexagons or combinations of shapes to make the irregular shaped tessellating patterns must be the same size or they cannot join to fill all the space.
  • You can use this knowledge that the shapes are the same size to help you figure out how big they are if you know the finished size of a quilt top. For example, a quilt top that is 60" square and has 6 squares across and 6 squares down must have squares that finish at 10" (60 divided by 6 = 10).
    Nordika Giant Plus
  • You can change the look of a tessellating pattern dramatically, depending on how the colours are placed. If you want to, you can use a "background" colour in a tessellation to create the impression of a background peeking out from behind the busy tessellating design.
  • Improv quilts seldom use the concept of tessellation - unless of course the improv blocks are ultimately trimmed to a square. 
I love the idea that many quilts utilize this mathematical concept (which quickly gets complicated to understand) to make many quilt patterns really easy to piece and to decipher. Once you understand tessellation, you will now see it everywhere, in almost every quilt, and tile floor.

Head over to Jess's blog, Elven Garden Quilts, to read her insights into tessellating patterns.



Wednesday, September 17, 2014

More about the progress, more of the time

Improv strips - in progress

Today I want to share some work in progress. I am also going to try harder to share more here about my process - the steps along the way to a finished quilt or project. I know I do that here, but lately, it feels like I have been sharing less progress, and it is time to change that. I learned so much about quilting reading how bloggers took their steps, solved mistakes, and tried new things, and I am still learning as I go, and I bet you are too.

That photo above you saw in yesterday's post - the progress so far on my challenge to design an guitar case/bag. I plan to make more of the "fabric" as I wait for some Annie's Soft and Stable to arrive that I ordered when it was available at Massdrop. I think that it will add the structure that I am hoping for in the bag.

Quilting in progress

There is a view of the quilting on my All the Colours quilt using Krista's wonderful Chess on the Steps pattern. I currently stuck trying to decide which fabrics to use to bind this quilt. I expect I will opt for a scrappy binding of solids but I am also debating a black and white print instead.

I really love this randomly spaced quilting lines look. It is very easy to do - nothing has to be well lined up- and if you think a set of lines is too far apart, you can just do another line in between them. I need to work now on wobbling the lines a bit more, as I have said before, the long arm likes to make straight lines if you don't oversteer her, adding just a bit of wobble, but not too much, is actually much harder, at least for me.

Pillow in progress - Canvas pattern

I need to quilt this pillow top, its back and those of the partner pillow. These pillows use my Canvas pattern.  I want to use them as a test for how quickly I can put these small projects up on the long arm and get them done. The size of that machine sometimes overwhelms and I need to get over that feeling that it will be too much trouble to set up the small projects. It is good practice to quilt these smaller projects and to do so more often. Also, I can use it to practice those wobbly lines I mentioned earlier and I also need to practice swirls and other curved designs as mine still tend to become to squared off.

All this quilting on the pillows will also be a bit of a test run for a quilt I need to quilt this weekend. I have a project that will be in a magazine if I can get it finished and out the door by mid week next week. I'm very excited but not impressed by the tight deadline, made worse by the complications of international shipping. Oh, and I am also very sad that I am told I cannot share it's progress with you. I don't like secret projects, but  I do think you will enjoy it when it is finally published and I am very flattered to have been included in this special publication.

Canvas baby quilts, in progress

These two baby quilts, also made with my Canvas pattern, are sitting somewhere from July with their new bindings on. I just need to stitch them down by hand, a perfect project for when I am sitting and visiting or watching a movie. I need to get them out (well actually first I need to figure out where I put them away to) so they are handy for those times and then they will be finished before I know it.

Finally, I have one more project to do this week. I need to make a mini quilt inspired by the theme It's time for colour. I have too many ideas and so I hope to settle on one or two by Friday and make it as a Friday night project. I'll tell you more about that quilt on the weekend, it is for a special exhibit of the Canadian Quilter's Association and I was thrilled to be asked to be a part of it. So for now I have no photo but this project has been in progress for a long while, just in my head only.

As usual, when I set out to show what I am working on, the list seems too long, so first the two deadline projects, and we shall see about the rest.


I am going to link up with Lee at Freshly Pieced and the Needle and Thread Network and I am going to try to do that more often this fall.



Tuesday, September 16, 2014

FQS National Sewing and Quilting Month Blog Tour

It's my turn in the Fat Quarter Shop's National Sewing and Quilting Month blog tour. Bloggers were asked to challenge themselves to make something they had not made before and to answer some questions. You can see my progress on the challenge as I write the answers to the questions.

This baby lap steel needs a case.

1. How did you start sewing/quilting?

I started sewing when I was about 5 years old. I loved it right from the start, but not surprisingly had a lot to learn. I still can close my eyes and remember the images from the day I ran the iron over my forearm! And the scar is finally gone but was visible until relatively recently. I continued to sew from that point, a nasty burn was not going to stop me.

I put off quilting for years and years because I knew I would love it. Quilting is not very portable, so it was really only when my kids were older that I felt I was ready to be as tied to my sewing machine as I am when I quilt.

Fabrics for improv strips

2. When was the first time you knew you were a quilter /sewer?

I guess I have always been a sewer, I knew that when that burn did not stop me from more sewing. I made my first quilt during a rainy March school break about 5 years ago now, and I knew from the minute I picked out that first fabric that I was a quilter. I love the colours and the patterns and especially the quilting.

Fabrics cut into strips

3. Do you have any sewing/quilting horror stories?

I think I have made every mistake except - knock on wood - having a serious mishap with a rotary cutter or sewing through my finger. You have already had the iron story. I have made every possible mistake with cutting and construction of quilts that can possibly be made, I am sure. It is disheartening to have made several of those mistakes more than once, some over and over. But, the truth is that I mostly don't mind the mistakes as I learn something from them too.

Strips sewn together before being cut up

4. What advice would you give someone just starting out?

I think that the key to sewing and quilting is to have fun first and always. It is usually cheaper to buy clothing, toys and blankets than make them. I make them myself for the fun of it, for the challenge, for the opportunity to be creative and I highly recommend that approach. Also, take a class, read a book, read a blog, watch a bunch of videos, or do all of the above. There is no reason to feel you must reinvent all the clever things that others have sorted out in terms of techniques for sewing and quilting.

Improv strips - in progress

So about this challenge to make something new. It was suggested that clothing makers try a quilt, quilters try clothing or a bag. Well, first I spent a long time trying to figure out what to try, as I have really made a lot of different kinds of things over the years.

Finally, I decided that I would design and make the bag my husband asked for his new baby lap steel guitar. I have made bags, but not designed such a complicated bag before.

Improv strips - in progress

Well, my guy has no favourite colour, he wants all the colours. And since I like them all too, it was hard to blame him. So then I decided to make a bunch of improv strips out of strips to make the bag. I learned it can take a while to do that.

Improv strips - in progress

 I also realized that better interfacing that what I had on hand would be ideal for this bag. It needs to provide reasonable protection to that beautiful guitar in the picture above, not just look nice. So I'm not done. I have a plan, and I can keep working on the fabric. I have some better interfacing on order, but it is not here yet.

So, I also learned that sometimes patience is the key to working on a new challenge. The patience to just say: hold the phone, stop the press - wait. Wait for the time to do it right, for the materials to arrive. I will share more of this process with you soon, but for today, I have the start of my project and some lessons learned - a new challenge might well take longer than you plan, and that's ok too.

If you, like me, dearly want to make a pixelated heart quilt, the Fat Quarter Shop has a free Color My Heart pattern available as part of the blog hop - click here to get it.  You can also copy that cute button and use it as you like - because sewing does rock! And go here to get the full list of participating bloggers so you can read their posts too.

I have a lot of sewing to do this week, stay tuned!