Spoonflower Panels

For a couple years I had received requests to teach my plaid matchstick technique, but I was hesitant because I was afraid the class would end up being more about piecing the quilt top than the quilting technique. Earlier this year it occurred to me that there was an easy solution to this issue- Spoonflower.  Spoonflower is a company that prints fabric, among other items, on demand.  I designed a mini quilt panel that fits on a fat quarter of fabric, and printed it in two different color ways for my classes.

The blue and green panel is intended to be quilted with Aurifil 2525 (Dusty Blue Violet), Aurifil 6737 (Shamrock Green), and white. I recommend using either 12wt or 28wt on top and 50wt in the same color in the bobbin. The blue and green matchstick panel can be purchased here.

The pink and orange panel in intended to be quilted with Aurifil 2530 (Blossom Pink), Aurifil 2145 (Yellow Orange), and white. I recommend using either 12wt or 28wt on top and 50wt in the same color in the bobbin. The pink and orange matchstick panel can be purchased here.

I also developed a panel to use for the intermediate free motion quilting class I occasionally teach at one of my local quilt shops.

I recommend quilting this panel with 50wt Aurifil 2810 (Turquoise). Any of these panels are great for mini quilts, table toppers, or pillows.  You can purchase the free motion panel here.

These panels worked out so well, I just had to try a repeating design.  Here is my first printed repeat design:

There are endless possibilities with this type of printing, and I can’t wait to explore them more in the coming year!

I am excited to be participating in this year’s 31 Day Blog Writing Challenge hosted by Cheryl Sleboda of Muppin.com, and I hope you will have the chance to check out some of the other awesome blogs that are participating this month.

Zoo Family Portrait Block of the Month

This year’s block of the month is my best pattern yet- at least I think it is! This is my third year designing a block of the month for Dabble and Stitch in Columbus, Ohio, and the animal theme is proving to be a hit!

The quilt is designed using photographs I have taken at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium over the course of four years.  If I was lucky, each zoo visit would yield one or two good animal photos, and I ultimately ended up with about two dozen potential animals to incorporate.  In selecting animals for the final design, I wanted to make sure different types of animals and different regions of the world were represented.  Compositionally, it also became important to have animals of different sizes to make the overall design interesting to look at.

Value is an important aspect to the success of the design.  Pictorial quilts can sometimes flatten the image they are depicting, so every color used in the quilt has a dark, medium, and light version. There is also a very dark blue and a very dark red to add even more depth to the animals.  I have never been a person tied to the literal color of things, so the palette I selected has bright, whimsical colors.  If bright colors aren’t your thing, you can use any color palette as long as you pay attention to the value of your fabric choices. If you like the fabrics I used, you can order the optional Painter’s Palette Solids Kit to go with the pattern.

All of these blocks are created using foundation paper piecing, and anyone with a general understanding of the technique will be able to construct the quilt.  If you have little or no FPP experience, that fine too! We made a YouTube video explaining foundation paper piecing and there are general instructions included in the pattern.  We started the block of the month in August, but you can jump in anytime!

Let’s do a quick walkthrough of the blocks.  We have been joking that this is more of a polygon of the month more than a block of the month since none of the blocks are square!

We kick things off with the Koala block.  This one of the most challenging photos to get since koalas sleep most of the day.  This koala was reaching for some eucalyptus, but in this design it appears to be reaching out to touch the flamingo.

The backs of the flamingo and tortoise are next.  I was so excited when the tortoises decided to come to the front of their enclosure for a photo. The flamingos, on the other hand, were always happy to show off their plumage!

Next is the flamingo head and the body of the bear.

In the fourth block, we construct the tortoise head and the body of the frog. Yes, the frog is actually blue!

It was an unseasonably warm winter day that I captured this lion in the perfect pose.

The penguins at the zoo love to pose for the guests and there are so many to choose from, I could probably do an all penguin quilt!

When I started this project, I would have thought monkey photos would be easy, but it was more challenging since most are in glass enclosures.  I finally found success with the Vervet Monkey.

The bear in this quilt is a brown bear who resides at the zoo with his brother.

The red pandas spend most of their time resting high above in the trees, but it is such a treat when they come down to play!

Giraffes are among my favorite animals, so I thoroughly enjoyed watching them for extended periods of time while waiting to capture the perfect pose.

The kangaroo enclosure at the zoo has an open walkway, so a kangaroo may cross your path.  This kangaroo had been an ambassador animal until this year, so it loves to show off for the humans!

The cockatoos at the zoo share an enclosure with the kangaroos, and it is so fun to see them up close.

I loved making this quilt so much that I’m making a second one!  If you would like to join us for this block of the month adventure, you can purchase the pattern and optional kit from Dabble and Stitch!

Quilt Stats

Title:  Zoo Family Portrait Quilt

Size: 58″ x 83.5″

Techniques:  Foundation Paper Piecing

Quilting:  Free Motion quilting on an A-1 longarm

Fabric:  Painter’s Palette Solids by Paintbrush Studios in 25 colors

Batting:  Hobbs Tuscany Wool and Hobbs 80/20 Cotton/Poly blend

Thread: Quilted with 50wt Aurifil in 19 colors

Binding:  Bias binding, machine stitched to the front, hand finished on the back

I am excited to be participating in this year’s 31 Day Blog Writing Challenge hosted by Cheryl Sleboda of Muppin.com, and I hope you will have the chance to check out some of the other awesome blogs that are participating this month.

Whole Circle Whole Cloth

I love a challenge, and this month Aurifil challenged it’s artisans to create a whole cloth mini quilt using a Paintbrush Studios Painter’s Palette Solid and a coordinating thread in our choice of weight.  I was sent Midnight blue fabric and a matching thread.  This first photo has the most accurate color so imagine that color when you see all of the indoor photos! 🤣

Whole cloth quilting isn’t something I do very often, so I decided to start the process with a little research.  Quilting tends to rely on pattern and repetition, so the books I pulled out had lots of art that embraces those principles.  I was also leaning toward 20th century art for inspiration, but I include some inspiration from earlier eras, just in case something caught my eye.

Ultimately I landed on these two Art Nouveau tile images to use for design inspiration.  I liked the circular quality of both designs, and thought that they would combine well.

I drafted the design on AutoCad, then printed it across two sheets of tabloid size paper and glued them together to form the entire image.  Then it was time to pull out my perk wheel to use an old scenic painting technique to create a stencil.  I placed the image on top of my wool pressing mat and ran the wheel along the lines.  For the tightest curves, I used a large safety pin to poke through the paper.

Once the holes were poked through, I flipped the paper over and used a fine tooth sandpaper to remove the bumps on the back of the template and make sure the holes were completely open.

Then came the moment of truth — would it work?  I taped the fabric to the table and the stencil over it, then pulled out my chalk pounce pad.  I ran it over the stencil in small circles to keep the dust down, then carefully removed the stencil.

It worked like a charm!  The lines were clear and easy to follow.

This project was the perfect time to give trapunto a try, so I started the quilting process by using batting and the top fabric with no backing.  Since I was using such a dark fabric, I selected a black batting by Hobbs.  Since the black batting doesn’t have a huge amount of loft, I used two layers for the trapunto.

Using a walking foot on my domestic machine, I quilted all of marked lines through the top fabric and two layers of batting.  At this point I was using a 50wt Aurifil so it would be easy to quilt over using the final 12wt thread, but I’m getting ahead of myself. Here is what it looked like from the front:

And most of the back (thanks Monty— I think he knows how hard it is to lint roll batting!):

The next step was to trim away the batting around the areas of trapunto.  I used scissors with a rounded tip for most of the trimming, and only pulled out scissors with a pointed tip for the tightest corners.

Trapunto has the best effect when the areas around it are densely quilted, so most of the quilt has dense free motion quilting.  For this part of the quilting I used 50wt thread on the longarm.  At this point in the process, there is backing fabric, one full layer of black batting, two layers of batting in the trapunto areas only (three layers total in those areas), and the quilt top.  The final quilting step was to use 12wt thread to outline each area and help that trapunto really pop!

After a lot of knotting and burying of thread tails, I trimmed the mini quilt so the edge of the quilt extended 1/4″ past the outer ring of trapunto.  The edges are finished with bias binding to hug the circular edge of the quilt.  If it was more practical, I would curve all my quilt edges.  I love binding a curve!

The image above shows the front of the quilt with the 12wt thread defining the areas around the trapunto.  Since I used 50wt thread in the bobbin, you can see the difference in the image below.  I think the heavier thread makes a huge difference in trapunto effect.  What do you think?

Quilt Stats

Title:  Whole Circle Whole Cloth

Size: 16″ diameter

Techniques:  Whole Cloth

Quilting:  Free Motion quilting on an A-1 longarm and walking foot quilting on a Bernina 1008

Fabric:  Painter’s Palette Solid by Paintbrush Studios in Midnight

Batting:  Black Hobbs Heirloom batting

Thread: Quilted with coordinating 12wt and 50wt Aurifil

Binding:  Bias binding, machine stitched to the front, hand finished on the back

Anna Maria Horner & Aurifil Showcase Project

If you have followed me long, you may have noticed that I love a good challenge, so when Aurifil offered their Artisans an opportunity to make a project using Anna Maria Horner’s fabric and Aurifil thread, I was excited to sign up!  It is hard to commit to a particular project without knowing what exact materials you will be given, but based on Anna Maria Horner’s  overall design aesthetic, I thought that a pillow would be a fun project.

Three fat quarters and a spool of Aurifil were provided for the challenge.  I had requested 12wt thread because I intended to incorporate some large stitch hand quilting into the cushion.  I didn’t even think about the design of the pillow until the fabrics arrived because I knew I wanted the fabric to be the key inspiration for this project.  As soon as I saw the large floral inspired print, I was sure that it needed to be the focus of the design.

I had just enough large floral motifs to use one for the center of the pillow and a half motif for each corner.  To start, I marked where the center circle would eventually be cut out and placed the  corner motifs based on that mark.  I then used 80wt Aurifil to hand appliqué the motifs.  Once this was complete, I cut out the center circle and machine pieced the center circle into place using 50wt Aurifil.  To finish the construction of the top, I placed the central motif and used needle turn appliqué to secure it.

With the piecing and appliqué complete, it was time to begin the quilting process.  I selected a wool batting so the pillow top would have a bit of poof to it and really show off the hand stitching.  The quilting on this project really embraced decorative stitching, and I used it as an opportunity to try out several different techniques since the back of the quilting would be enclosed in the pillow.

I started by machine quilting around the circle and each floral motif.  I had 12wt thread on top and 50wt thread in the bobbin, and I loosened the tension slightly so I could have enough give to the stitching to wrap each stitch by hand with a strand of 50wt thread.  This resulted in a stitch that looks like a whipped backstitch, but it took a lot less time!

The rest of the pillow top is quilted using a total of seven colors of 12wt Aurifil that I selected to accent the colors in the fabric.  The bronze color was sent for this project, the light green came in this year’s Aurifil Artisan box, and the remaining colors had been used in previous projects.

I used a standard running stitch and several embroidery stitches to quilt the pillow including the closed fly stitch, French Knots, seed stitches, and variations of cross stitches.

The back of the quilted panel shows off how much stitching went into this project.

A yo-yo in the center of the floral motif completed the pillow top.  I thought that it would be fun to finish the center of the motif with the background print the motif was cut from!

To make the pillow cover easy to remove for cleaning, I inserted a lapped zipper into the backing fabric.

The final touch that I wanted to add was a piped edging covered with the remaining striped challenge fabric.  I love how the bias cut fabric looked with all of the angle changes within the fabric design.  This would make amazing quilt binding!

I selected a feather filled pillow form, and combined with the wool batting it creates a delightful feel for a throw pillow.

Back to the Bionic Bag

Most of my go-to sewing supplies and notions live in a Bionic Bag that I made several years ago.  It travels around the house from sewing machine to sofa or patio for hand stitching, and it goes with me to guild, sew-ins, and shops when I teach.  This bag is frequently admired, and following several recent requests, I will be teaching this pattern next January at Dabble and Stitch in Columbus, Ohio.

It was so much fun to choose new fabrics for the shop sample!  I love to mix and match fabrics from different designers and lines, and this project was no exception.  The main outer fabric is from Carrie Bloomston’s new Wonder line, and the other fabrics are a mix of designers including Alison Glass and Tula Pink.  I used a walking foot to do some linear quilting on the bag exterior.  I like the look and texture of the quilted bag, but you can also choose to use an iron on interfacing and skip the quilting step.

One of the things I love about the design of this bag is the way the front folds creates a tray when the bag is open.  In this section, I like to add magnetic snaps to hold the dumpling pouch and a small pin cushion.  I use the dumpling pouch for wonder clips, and the pin cushion is stuffed with scraps of wool batting and keeps pins and needles within easy reach.

Between the four zippered pockets and the pouches formed between them, you can fit almost every supply you need for a day or more of sewing.  Once you have made one of these bags, they go together very quickly and make great gifts for sewists and non-sewists  alike.  I have made several over the years, and you can check one out in this Bionic Bag post from a couple years ago.  The Bionic Gear Bag pattern is available for download on Craftsy.

If you would like to join me for the class, it will be held at Dabble and Stitch on Saturday, January 12, 2019 from 10am-4pm. During the day, you will construct most of your Bionic Bag, and you may or may not have time to to work on the optional dumpling pouch.  I hope to see you there!