Sunday, October 30, 2011

Half-Square Triangles with Blacks, Whites, Strawberries, Daisies and Baskets!

   Fabrics with berries have always been a favorite of mine, and I couldn't resist the black and white fabrics with the bright red strawberries. I held on to them for a while, not sure what to do with them, but enjoying them immensely just the same.
    One day, I saw a dynamic quilt in a magazine made out of half-square triangles, and thought I'd try it with this fabric. I pulled fabrics from my stash to go with the prints, and committed to a dark/light color scheme with black, white, red, green and yellow. Some browns were allowed in as part of the yellow family. No blues or purples thought! Here's the quilt...or part of it. The portion to the right represents about a quarter of the blocks that I have.
   To start, the fabric was cut into 4 1/2" squares, a diagonal line was drawn on the backs of the lighter squares, and two lines were stitched on each square: each 1/4" from the line that was drawn.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

A Classic Winnie the Pooh Baby Quilt When
Winnie the Pooh Fabric Was Hard to Find

   Sometimes a baby quilt is just the project to get your quilt imagination going! But when my daughter Shannon's dance teacher of 10 years (since Shannon was 3!) was ready to have her longingly awaited baby, my joy at making a baby quilt quickly turned to panic...when I realized there just wasn't any Winnie the Pooh fabric in the quilt shops! And the dance teacher was absolutely set on having a Pooh-themed room...Classic Pooh, no less!
   After scouring the internet, all I could find were a few fat quarters...and a yard or two for the back. I was almost going to buy them, when I went up and down the isles of a different JoAnn's than I usually visit. There, tucked in the juvenile prints, were one or two prints. I grabbed them! Happy to have anything with Pooh, I quickly chose some coordinating pastels. It seems the dance teacher was NOT making it easy on me at all, as she wanted to be surprised by the sex of her baby. Since one of the prints was green, I had no choice but to incorporate light blue, light pink, yellow, and a pastel rainbow stripe, as well as a small piece of gold fabric that I thought looked like the color of honey. It got a little complicated because I didn't want to use any floral fabrics...after all, what if the baby was a boy?

What to Do with Fabrics that Have a Little Bit of
Gold in Them

   A friend who is a quilt shop owner had several fabrics that no one would buy.While each was very pretty, there was no related fabric to help tie them together. Adding to the problem, one was turquoise, one was lime, one was purple and one was orange. There just wasn't an easy way to make a traditional quilt with a purpose or a theme.
  I wound up buying a half yard or so of each color, and thinking. What came to me was that they seemed kind of Moroccan...they had an overall exotic feeling to them. After working with the fabrics, particularly the turquoise and orange, and after getting acquainted with the gold metallic embellishment on the fabrics, I started referring to this as The Goldfish quilt. Probably a poor name, as even if you do see the fish shapes, they are starting to look to me more like kissing fish than goldfish!
   Starting with a bunch of 2 1/2" strips, I sewed 36" 9-patch squares, and bordered each 9-patch block in 1 1/2" border fabric. I was trying to create a quilt that gave the overall impression of a that would be at home in a street stall in Marrakech or in ancient Baghdad.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Berries, Bunnies and Bricks in a Cute Little Quilt!

   Some of my favorite fabrics to collect are prints with berries on them. Raspberries, blueberries, strawberries....they all shout "buy me" when I pass by! This little quilt is handpieced...something to do while waiting for my daughter at ballet class. The pieces were cut by the traditional old way.
   The concept always made me smile...there would be bunnies looking to get into the berries, but they would always be separated from the objects of their desire by bricks, straw, baskets and fences. This project started my appreciation for "architectural" prints....those that would be a good choice for buildings and cottages in a quilt. It also has some complimentary foliage in a dark green color, an alligator print that I prefer to think of as paving stones, and some flowers that probably are not an accurate portrayal of blueberry flowers, but, so what?

Monday, October 24, 2011

A Summer Quilt with Butterflies in Popsicle Colors

   The first time I saw this fabric, the solids were placed next to each other, and my first thought was "Popsicles!" I really wished there were a blue fabric, mix with some flip flop fabric for a beach quilt. I didn't have any luck finding the blue, but I did find the matching butterfly print, and I changed the idea to "Butterflies and Pinwheels.
   It was a bit difficult to cut the print without slicing the butterflies in two....and I was lucky enough to find a dark fabric to mix with the popsicle bright fabrics. While I like the overall affect, and the quilt is cute, I think the butterflies got lost, and it does sort of end abruptly at the border. I still love the colors, though! Bright pink, lime and orange continue to make me think of those cold, drippy treats on hot summer days!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Sometimes Even the Prettiest Fabrics Make a Disappointing Quilt

   Combinations of blues and greens in high quality fabrics are almost irresistible! So I couldn't walk past this Lakehouse fabric without getting a smidgen of several prints. Things were hectic, and I wanted to work with the fabric so much that I took a suggestion from a magazine and made a super large quilt block into a whole quilt. Here's how it came out:
   I suppose it is OK, and it looks great as a table topper with a bowl of hydrangeas, white dishes and some cobalt blue vases, but all in all, I think the fabric would have been given more justice if the pieces were smaller.
   If you do want to try your own, this is just 16 half-square triangles made up of 32 triangles: 4 dark blue, 8 floral, 8 stripe, and 12 white. Lay them out as shown, sew the triangles together, and join them to form the block. Border with complimentary fabric, and either miter the corners or use corner stones to make it simpler.

Friday, October 21, 2011

A Bright and Geometric Scrap Quilt with Mostly
2 1/2" Strips

   For the life of me, I don't understand why these blocks aren't called Square in a Square! But, they aren't...I'm not really sure if they have a name, but they are basically pattern for the first round of Courthouse Step blocks. The center squares were cut to 3 1/2" and the strips were sewn on opposite sides of that square, trimmed, then sewn in two rows across the top and bottom of the block. The block size is 7" finished.
   Of course, the quilt is perfect to create from your favorite fabric only need 22" x 2 1/2" of fabric, in pieces as small as 7 1/2" (2 of them) and 2 1/2"(2 of them), which is just a strip cut on the long side of a fat quarter! In fact, a fat quarter will supply the outer square fabric for 7 blocks.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Adding Weird Colors Like Olive and Mustard
to Your Quilts for Variety and Added Interest

   I'm a huge fan of Kaffe Fassett fabrics. First, I love the colors and the designs. I especially like that the colors appear what I call "flat" -- meaning that there isn't any shading in any individual color. This works for me in a quilt, because when you find a different fabric with that same color, your quilt begins to pick up all kinds of movement that more delicate fabrics don't seem to have. The colors and designs are bold enough to create new design elements unique to your quilt! I also love the quality and feel of the Kaffe Fassett fabrics...they are thick and luxurious, and a joy to touch and work with.
   I don't have many large pieces in my Kaffe I often have to come up with little challenges for myself. This quilt here has a number of challenges, as well as some odd colors I don't usually work with.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Some Ideas for the Novelty Fabric You Couldn't Resist!

   I'm guilty! I bought an adorable novelty print of happy pigs on a farm. One is just cuter than the next! But what to do with it? I thought and thought, and came up with the idea of doing Hole in the Barn Door blocks using greens on the outer edges and woody print fabrics on the inside borders. I decided to do blocks of different sizes....either 6 1/2", 9 1/2", 12 1/2" or 18 1/2" so they would all go together. If I needed additional fabric filler, I was going to use a complimentary apple print, and reds and greens (including a red check to match one of the piggie's bibs!). I may put some Flying Geese blocks in, too. Here are a couple of the blocks:
   There is a simple formula for figuring out how wide to make the strips on your blocks, as well as the half-square triangles for the corners....especially if you want regular sized blocks to put into a 6 1/2" or 12 1/2" format. In a nutshell, subtract 1/2" from the fussy cut piece. Then subtract that measurement from 6, 9, 12 or 18, whichever gives you a number between 4 and 8. Divide that number by 4, and add 1/2. This will be the size of the strips for the sides of the Hole in the Barn Door block. Go back and take the number again before you added the 1/2. Double it and add 7/8. This is the size of the squares you will need for the half-square triangle corners. Let me know if you would like more specific instructions: I'd be happy to post them.

Monday, October 17, 2011

A Broken Dishes Quilt In Bright Colors

  Sometimes you have 4 or 5 fabrics that you like together, but they don't really have a theme or common motif. This quilt started with about 5 bright fabrics...a lime green marble, a cobalt blue geometric squiggle,  yellow wavy stripes, a hot pink and wine informal plaid, and a turquoise blue with dots. I wanted something very easy and a little random, so I chose a Broken Dishes pattern.

   Each Broken Dish block is 6" finished, an it is composed of 4 half-square triangles. 2 half-square triangles are made from a light and a dark 4" square, with a diagonal line drawn across the light 4" square. A seam is sewn 1/4" on each side of the drawn line, and then a cut is made through the line. When pressed open, you have 2 half-square triangles that can be trimmed to 3 1/2". When you repeat the process, you have 4 identical 3 1/2" half-square triangles that can be sewn into the 6" block.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

A Simple 4-Patch Scrap Quilt Using Asian Fabrics

   Sometimes you love the way some fabrics look....and just don't know what to do with them! I've often purchased 1/4 yards and fat quarters of very pretty Asian fabrics...and just never put them together. I enjoy the metallic golds, the swans and birds, and the flowers, as well as the ivy, leaves and branches. At one point, I had quite a lot of Asian fabric in bits and pieces, and no idea where to go from there! Here's how this quilt from Asian fabrics came together:

   One day, I decided I wouldn't allow myself to buy any more Asian fabric unless I used at least some of what I had! And because I didn't have any better ideas, and because some of the pieces were scaps under 5" wide, I chose to do a 4-patch pattern based on 4 1/2" squares. To make use of the smaller pieces, I told myself it was OK to use some 4 1/2" mini 4-patch blocks to fill in for some of the larger 41/2" pieces. That way, I would be able to use 2 1/2" strips as well.

A Sophisticated Baby Quilt for a Boy, a Girl, Maybe Even a Dog!

   Sometimes prospective parents just don't seem to be the type to love the usual juvenile prints quilters adore putting in their baby quilts. Maybe they have a fear of clowns and circus animals, maybe their sibling's baby already has Winnie the Pooh or Care Bears all over their nursery...or maybe they just want to be different.
   Here's a simple baby quilt I made to use some sample fabric at a quilt shop I used to spend a lot of time in. It uses fabrics with a bit of gold in them. The pink is deeper, the blue a bit darker, and they are both set off with a cream fabric and a gold fabric. The exact fabric is called Pink Scapes and Turquoise Scapes, and is still available online in the blenders section at The blue and pink squares alternate in the centers of each 8" finished block, and the cream and gold fabrics switch places in those blocks to create checkerboard 4-patch squares throughout the quilt.
   Let me know what you think of this cute little quilt, and I can post a pattern if you like. Obviously, my dog Ranger is a big fan of this crib quilt!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

What to Do with That Novelty Fabric You Couldn't Resist!

     You know you're guilty! You bought a half a yard of a fall novelty fabric, and it sits there and sits there because you have no idea what to do with it! All I can say is, let it speak to you and tell you what to make with it!
     In the small quilt above, a fall novelty print forms the basis of a sweet wallhanging. It was cut to 18 1/2" by 12 1/2". Those measurements were chosen because of the wide availability of free 6 1/2" block patterns.

What Makes Stack and Whack Quilts So Much Fun!

     If you love surprises, Stack and Whack quilts are a hoot! For those of you who aren't familiar with them, the premise is take lots and lots of fabric (sometimes hideous!) and stack identical pieces exactly on top of each other. You then cut squares or triangles and sew them together to form pinwheel designs. What makes them fun is that you often don't know what the block will look like when you finish. Surprise!

     Here's one that I did a while ago.. The starter fabric was a huge print with watermelons and cantaloupes  on it. My big mistake was not understanding how much contrast you need in a Stack and Whack block. While I love my Watermelon quilt, the yellows and oranges in the melon fabric tend to blend a little too much with the background yellow fabric. It would probably have been better to use dark green for the background and the yellow for the sashing. Oh, well, live and learn! And, enjoy it anyway! Although I still may use some dark green thread to outline each pinwheel to add some contrast!
     What do you think? Please comment...and definitely link to photos of Stack and Whack quilts you have made!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Some Kaffe Snowballs, and some Thimbleberries Snowballs, too!

   Sometimes you just feel like using your favorite fabrics, and then you want to see what the pattern will look like in other fabrics. For these little quilts, I started the one on the right with Kaffe Fassett fabrics.

   For the next one, I used Thimbleberries fabrics, although it is really hard to find light-colored prints in the fabric shops around here! Finally, I did one in some of the bright floral fabrics I had collected overthe years: blue pansies, orange hibiscus, purple sweet peas, blue AND purple tulips, yellow daffodils, red and pink cosmos...this quilt features a garden full of flowers!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Sorting Fabrics Into Light and Dark Values

   The three fabrics shown here may or may not have a lot in common...all have yellow or orange, as well as some bits of red and light green or turquoise. But one has stripes, one has a single design repeating in diagonal rows, and the third is truly random.
   They can all be classified as more contemporary fabrics as opposed to vintage prints, and none of them seem like they'd go very well with each other in a single block.
   For this project, it may be a little confusing to determine which ones are light and which are dark.
   What do you think? Please comment below. I'll post the completed block you can see how this block came together!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Using Fabrics in a Quilt That Go Together Great...and Some, Not So Much!

  The fabrics above go together very well colorwise, although they may be almost a little too similar. The styles are a little different, but in a scrap quilt like this one, that is just fine! These were all sorted as Dark fabrics, and none wound up in the same block. There is something about the design of each of the patterns in these fabrics that sets them apart from each other in my mind: the one o the right has very casual veining in the leaves, as well as casual detailing in the flowers. The center fabric is almost opulent; very traditional and old school with those very beautiful cabbage roses in full bloom, while the fabric on the left has a more modern detail to it with the pointed lotus flowers. Subjective, I know, but isn't that what quilting is all about?  (Can you tell how much I love Kaffe Fasset fabrics?)                                           
   These fabrics don't really go together colorwise at all...although the designs are identical. None of these fabrics wound up in the same blocks either, but 2 were sorted as Light fabrics, and one (the rust colored one on the left) was sorted as a Dark fabric. And while very few people in their right mind would put these colors together in the same quilt...a scrap quilt is the perfect opportunity to throw them all into the will be amazed at how they work together. Even before being sewn into the quilt, you can see the blue flowers of the light green fabric work with the blue fabric, and the baskets of the light green fabric work perfectly well with the baskets of the rust colored fabric.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Putting Together My "Kaffe Birds in the Air Taking Formation" Quilt

  Here are the original 42 10" squares. They are roughly lined up in 2 rows of 21....left to right from dark to light. This way, the darkest dark fabrics are combined with the darkest light fabrics. Eventually, all the fabrics are placed in groups of 6: 3 darks and 3 lights.
   You may notice that some of the fabrics have both dark and light elements in them, so it may be confusing to determine where they belong. How do you decide? The answer is simple: where do YOU feel they belong? One of the joys of doing a quilt like this is that it WILL work....and if you like the fabrics you put in the quilt, it will bring you much pleasure!

My "Kaffe Birds in the air Taking Formation" Quilt

   This is where I am at now in my quilting. I volunteered to create a pattern for 10" squares for my quilt guild. When I thought about it, I wanted to find a pattern where the would be no waste. I came upon the idea of using a Birds in the Air pattern. Since I have no layer cakes in the house, I took a rotary cutter to my Kaffe Fassett stash, and cut 42 10" squares. My stash never even felt a dent!
   Here I show how I laid out the 42 completed blocks in 5 different orientations. My carefully sorting the fabrics  from dark to light, and then grouping them, the strong diagonal lines in each block lent themselves to a variety of layouts.
   Which is your favorite? I'll tell you which I chose in my next block, along with how to make each block.