Book Review

Quilt As-You-Go Made Modern: Fresh Techniques for Busy Quilters by Jera Brandvig

From C&T Publishing:

Fun and done! Quilting is easier than ever with this popular method

• A modern approach to quilting that’s fresh, fun, and simpler than it sounds; it will change the way you quilt (for the better)
• Great for moms or anyone with a busy schedule – these 13 projects are easy to transport because they make it simple to pick up where you left off
• Go your own way: This method allows you to use a pattern or improvise, creating a wide variety of design options
• Save money! Learn how to finish your own quilts without the use of a longarm professional

Do you believe rules were meant to be broken? If so, this improvisational quilt-as-you-go technique is for you. Instead of dealing with precise paper patterns and cutting measurements, you’ll learn how to piece fabric onto small, manageable batting blocks. Let your creative juices flow as you quilt directly on the blocks (not the whole quilt!), whether in large abstract zigzags or small structured stitches. After the blocks have been joined, all you need to do is add backing fabric and binding, and – voila – it’s finished!

 

I’ve been interested in quilting as-you-go methods since I first saw “Lap Quilting” with Georgia Bonesteel on PBS back in the 1990s. Motivated partly because the weight of a full size quilt at the sewing machine has become extremely difficult for me to deal with – even though I am VERY comfortable with the technical aspects of machine quilting – and partly because I find the sheer convenience of it appealing, I have been on alert for different methods ever since. This book was the “AHA!” I’ve been hoping to find. Continue Reading…

Quick Tips for Making Color Theory Work for You

Do you ever struggle with something you are creating, just knowing that something is off or missing, but not sure what it is? Both from personal experience and from that as a long-time instructor, I find that quite often this has to do with color and value choices.

Color theory to the rescue! But sometimes color theory on its own isn’t enough help…

Color Theory Infographic from paper-leaf.com - a great overview!

Color Theory Infographic from paper-leaf.com – a great overview!

Continue Reading…

Link Love – Cloth Dolls & Figurative Art

Cloth dolls made by Beth Ann Williams. Pattern credits in article.

Although I make my living primarily by designing, teaching, and writing about contemporary quiltmaking, I’ve become a most enthusiastic dollmaker and mixed-media and surface design enthusiast, as well. I find working with the figure (human or non-human) to be very therapeutic, as well as lots of fun. Although my quilts are all original designs, at this point in time, most of my dolls are not. I am learning by making, adapting, and combining patterns by other artists. You’ll find designer credits next to each photo below.

Continue Reading…

Book Review

Bags, the Modern ClassicsBags – The Modern Classics: Clutches, Hobos, Satchels & More by Sue Kim

From C&T Publishing:

The bag makes the outfit!

• Make your own fashion statement with these sophisticated, runway-worthy bag designs
• Each of the 19 projects has multiple variations for more than 75 different stylish ways to carry it all
• Create perfectly polished bags in no time with easy construction techniques

Turn your favorite fabrics into a fashion statement! From chic wristlets to functional carryalls (and everything in between), each project includes a full-sized pattern, easy-to-follow instructions, and inspirational photos. All the sewing basics you need are here, and you will learn some more ambitious techniques such as stitching hook-and-loop tapes, making darts and pleats, and attaching magnetic snaps or zippers.

I have a fairly large collection of books and patterns for bags, purses and totes; but I’m always on the lookout for fresh approaches, new techniques or innovative styles and shapes. However, newest isn’t always best, and this book from 2011 is one of the books I most often recommend for beginners. Although these projects don’t feature a lot of bells and whistles (complicated hardware, multiple pockets, etc.), the clean, classic lines provide great jumping-off points for more advanced sewists to customize to their heart’s content. Continue Reading…

Mosaic Fabric

Fabric Mosaic postcard

I’ve always been fascinated with the interplay of color, value and visual texture of mosaics, especially those created by artists such as Sonia King. Back in 1997, a book called Machine Embroidery: Stitched Patterns by Valerie Campbell-Harding was published by Quilters’ Resource Inc. The cover photos fascinated me – mosaics in fabric!

There wasn’t a lot of info about this specific technique in the book – the emphasis is on giving TONS of inspiration and jumping-off points for further exploration – but there was enough to point me in the right direction. I’ve been playing with what I refer to as “Mosaic Fabric” off and on ever since. Continue Reading…

My Quilting Story

Legacy Journal Quilt

Back in March of this year, the Missouri Quilt Co. ran a contest: ”Quilting touches so many of our hearts on a much deeper level than just pretty fabrics pieced together. For some, quilting is an artistic outlet. It is a medium to allow your creative talents to really shine. For others, quilting can be a sort of therapy. I know that as I measure, cut, and stitch, I feel a great sense of release and relaxation. It is very satisfying to create my own little piece of order and beauty even though the rest of the world may be spinning out of control!
We want to hear your story. Why do you quilt? How has quilting made your life better? How has quilting changed you?”

This got me thinking… How could I sum up what quilting means to me in 500 words or less? Continue Reading…

Free-Motion Quilting – the fun stuff!

Free-motion quilting sample

Free-Motion quilting is one of my favorite – and occasionally dreaded – parts of quiltmaking. Favorite, because it allows me to play with color, line and texture; occasionally dreaded, because I sometimes (fortunately not nearly as often I used to) start to over-think everything and become stressed out.

But one of the good things about having 20+ years of experience with machine quilting is that I’ve survived all the most common mistakes (and some relatively uncommon ones, too!) and have learned lots of tricks and helpful techniques for both getting into a more productive headspace and then executing my ideas.
But let’s back up a minute… Continue Reading…

Snowing… and Sewing!

home in snow

What a crazy winter! Since I was in Africa in 1978-1979 and missed the record-breaking snow and cold of that winter, I have never experienced anything like this before. Wow! We are grateful that we haven’t had to deal with the power outages other areas have been affected by, and that the water main break at the end our street was fixed in a very timely manner. Truly, we have nothing to complain about. But… we’ve all had enough snow to last us a LOOOOOONG time and winter isn’t even over yet.

Fortunately, I have more than enough to do to keep myself happily occupied. (Actually, I have a sufficient backlog of potential projects to keep me occupied for the next century or two – but that’s another topic.) Continue Reading…

So You Want to Buy a New Sewing Machine…

Baby Lock Quilter's Choice

One of the questions I am asked most frequently is “What sewing machine (or brand of sewing machine) do you recommend?”

I always feel a little awkward about answering this; while my current Baby Lock machine is my favorite machine I’ve ever owned, I’ve also happily sewn or quilted on just about every other major brand out there.

Ultimately it comes down to this:

  • What kind or sewing or quilting do you want to do?
  • What kind of features are most important to you?
  • What dealers are in your area and what is their reputation for customer service and education?

That said, here is a list of features I suggest looking for when shopping for a new sewing machine: Continue Reading…