Friday, November 17, 2017

Collecting Fabric - for Scrap Quilt Lovers

Recently, I met some quilters who told me that making scrap quilts terrifies them. They said that they're often intimidated and don't quite know how to put their fabrics together or even what fabrics to use.

Hexagon Garden from Small & Scrappy - one of my favorite little scrap quilts.

If you read the Introduction in my book Small & Scrappy (of course you actually read all of your quilting books, don't you?), you might remember what I wrote: that in order to make good scrap quilts you need to begin collecting lots of different prints in various colors. It's absolutely necessary to  have a "good fabric wardrobe" with a nice variety of prints in basic colors. I think every quilter should have a good assortment of prints in shades of red, medium blue, brown, tan, green, gold, indigo or dark blue, pink, black, purple and, of course, a collection of light prints or "shirtings."

It can be overwhelming to know where to begin collecting and developing a nice collection of fabrics. I know it's fun to just keep buying the same colors over and over again. But, if you're intent on making scrap quilts, then you need to go outside your box and pick up some prints that may not be in your customary colors. I love blue and always tend to buy a lot of blues. But if I only buy blue every time I shop, my fabric collection will suffer and so will my quilts. Because it does tend to become overwhelming, focus on building up your fabric stash by buying one color at a time.  The good news - this will involve a lot of shopping.

Next time you visit a quilt shop or shop online for fabric, in addition to buying yardage of what you love, try focusing on buying some prints in different colors you may not have in your collection at home as well. Perhaps buy additional half yards, quarter yards or fat quarters of just ONE color on this trip. I always seem to be low on gold and green. Not my favorite colors or used often as the focus in my quilts but I still love to incorporate them into my scrap quilts and need to remember to buy more. Then, the next time you shop, focus on only buying say, reds, or browns. Over time, if you shop often, this will give you a nice variety. And, you may find that this is a way to overcome the overwhelming feeling we all get when we enter a quilt shop and may help to keep the confusion to a minimum. There's usually inspiration at every step and if you see a quilt you must make, then go for it and buy all of the fabric it takes. Just remember to also build up your basic fabric collection while you're there. Also, if you make small quilts, then don't buy all large, busy floral prints. Mix it up and buy a few geometrics, stripes or checks, tiny florals and dots too. Save the large florals for the borders perhaps. When you build up your fabric collection this way, the next time you feel like making a scrappy quilt, you're good to go.

Bottom line - don't be afraid to buy more fabric. Sure, you don't need it and it's probably true, we will never use all of it up in our lifetimes. But, as quilters, it goes without saying that we are also collectors of fabric. Fabric is what drives us as well as the entire quilting industry.  You should not apologize or feel ashamed if you have too much fabric. Buying fabric is an essential part of the creative process and it often gives us the inspiration we need to begin something new. Stop and think -  do you really need 10 yards of a print you love? Or, will a yard or two do? You may be better off buying additional yardage of some other lovely prints that will complement that one and build up your collection. Don't hoard - share or donate the fabric you know you won't use. It's actually quite freeing to get rid of some of it.

For those of you who are new to quilting, it's common to lack confidence in picking out fabrics for a quilt. There's nothing wrong with following the same colors a designer has used in his or her quilt. Until you have a style of your own you may need to experiment with the styles of other designers so you can find out what makes YOUR heart sing.  But go and build up a nice collection. We're thinking ahead as I'm making plans for the next "mystery quilt" starting in January 2018. Hope you'll join us. You'll need lots of scraps.

Hope you have a good weekend. I'll give you more tips about storing your fabric and making scrappy quilts after the Thanksgiving holiday.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Listen Up, Quilters

Quilters, here's some fun news for you - I'm excited to be a guest on the American Patchwork and Quilting Radio show/podcast hosted by Pat Sloan this coming Monday, November 13.

You can listen to the interview live at 4:00 pm Eastern time (3:00 pm Central, 2:00 pm Mountain, 1:00 pm Pacific time) as Pat "grills" me about all sorts of fun quilting-related stuff. Hope you're excited too! (I'm getting over yet another cold and hope I'm better by then or I'll be the one with the nasally, hoarse voice who says "Huh? Pat, would you please repeat that question??" That's my excuse in case I come off sounding a bit ditzy . . . .)

If some of you are unfamiliar with this concept, a podcast is a radio or talk show that you access on the internet. (So don't spend the weekend looking in the attic for your old transistor radio from the '60s . . . .) You can listen live on your computer by following this link. If you can't listen live, no worries, you'll still be able to access the recording of the show a little later in the day on the website. And, if you are really, REALLY busy, weeks later in Past Shows using the same link. They keep the interviews up on the website. While you're there, listen to all the previous interviews with your favorite quilting designers. Pat has been hosting the show for years with inspirational quilters every Monday. Click on the Listening Tips box to get more info. 

So, don't forget now - on Monday afternoon, make yourself a nice cup of coffee or tea, sit back, relax, and join Pat and me for a nice chat. Close your eyes and it'll be like we're in the same room, old friends, just talking quilts.  

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In other news, I am still working on getting your e-mail notices for updates on my blog to work in a timely fashion. Please bear with me as I try to figure it all out. I suspect some of you may have received more than one e-mail last time. Sorry, but I am phasing out one subscription service and adding another so that may happen from time to time until I know for sure what's going on. It's just me here, winging it, no tech people helping me out. 

Have a good weekend!

Pup-pup is busy getting Sheepie all nice and clean for Monday's show. I don't know how many times I've told her it's RADIO, not TV.  

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Quilt Show at the Garden

It's that time of year again - the Fine Art of Fiber quilt show at the Chicago Botanic Garden.  Mostly modern quilts but it's always fun to see the different types of quilts other quilters make.

A wall of embellished small quilts made from Sue Spargo panels.  

Today was a dreary, rainy, overcast day so I did not walk around the rest of the garden much. 

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Early in October, I started making a little pumpkin quilt runner. I haven't finished quilting it yet. Cute, no?

After I posted it on Facebook, some said they'd be interested in buying a pattern for it. So, I am working on getting that done and up on my website in a few days. Check my website sometime next week and with a little luck it will be available on the pattern page. 

Have a good weekend! Puppy really hopes it stops raining soon . . . . I keep telling her the rain is only going to ruin her new coiffure if she goes out there and gets wet. Not sure she believes me (or cares).

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Dear Jane: Getting There

Last week I finished the last block for the center part of my Dear Jane quilt (Hooray!) and started working on the triangles. Finding time to work on all the projects I want to work on is always a huge problem. I've been very busy this fall, travelling and teaching and still trying to play catch up at home with all of the things I neglected around here earlier this year while I was working on my next book. 

That dark blue M-3 block was a difficult one for me. I had to make it twice because the first time it came out awful. Live and learn. I am certainly doing that with this quilt. Learning so much . . . .

I am a teeny tiny bit closer to my dream goal.

So, now I'm starting the triangles. I know I could leave it as is and just sew the middle together and say - Okay, Done. Forget the rest, I made 169 blocks. That's enough. But I really love the look of the border triangles and don't think they'll be that hard now that I've sort of mastered foundation paper piecing. Wondering if I should do some of my sashing in between making the triangles. . . .  Any thoughts? The fear is that I will dread it if I leave it all for the end. Probably better to start doing that as soon as I pick a color for my teeny cornerstones. Yes, I decided I wanted to try to do cornerstones. Who knows how that will turn out. Or when, ha ha.

Always a relief when a block turns out perfectly square.

I spent one day redoing a few of my early blocks. I started my quilt in 2010 and my teeny tiny block skills left a little to be desired at that time.  I just wasn't happy with the "wonkiness" of some of them and I know they will always stick out like a sore thumb when I look at the quilt.  I also decided I hated some of the fabrics I used. Most of these were not difficult ones so it's not going to take me that long. I'm leaving in the really difficult blocks no matter what because I can tell you now there is no way I'm ever redoing any of them! 

It feels good to get back to working on my quilt. I'm not one of those people who can just pick it up for a few minutes here and there. After seven years of this, I do know how to persevere but I'm pretty slow and know that each block will take time so I don't work on them unless I know I can devote a quiet day or two. Time to work on it has to be planned in advance. As I mentioned, I am finished with my next book (which is supposed to be published next July) and my teaching and travelling is slowing down now so I should be able to sit down without too many interruptions and go at those triangles. At least until the holidays start to creep in.

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A few days ago I taught another fun workshop. Yes, orange peels again. My favorite, so I'm glad they asked for it. It's a great workshop for learning and/or practicing your applique. No sewing machines required. Just a lot of relaxed quiet time, laughing and hand sewing. Thank you, Kokomo, Indiana, quilters for a great time!

Look at those fine, sharp points. I taught them the starch and template method which works really well on these peels and makes it easy. Beginners are always amazed they can do this and applique soon becomes fun. 

I really love this quilt.

So much that I prepped some really little peels for a smaller version someday. 

Ah, hand sewing is good for the soul.

Barb brought a pretty quilt to the workshop that she made from one of my patterns in Small & Scrappy. I love seeing all of the different variations. 

Mine was made in pinks and browns. But you should always make the quilts in the colors you love.

Here's Barb's finished Welcome Home Mystery quilt. Beautiful in Blues . . . .

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NOTE: Some of you have signed up to get blog updates through e-mail. Well, I've had problems with Feedburner not updating my new blog posts so some of you are receiving them late or not getting them at all. Feedburner is really outdated and rarely works anymore so I have to stop using it. I'm trying to convert to another subscription service to allow you to receive an e-mail telling you when I update my posts. As I said, I've been really busy lately and spending hours doing that hasn't really made it to the top of my list. If worse comes to worst, you may have to sign up with your e-mail address again but I will tell you if that's necessary. If you think you've missed some posts, go to the Archives on the side of the Sentimental Quilter blog page and check. 

Enjoy the weekend!


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