Making a Celtic Quilt – Fine-Tuning the Design & Preparing the Background

This is the second of a series of posts that will take you step-by-step through the process of creating a Celtic Quilt.

One of the first things you need to do is finalize your design choice and fine-tune it, if necessary. If you are using an original design or using a design from a source other than my book, you need to be sure it will be easily adaptable for sewing.

Here are the elements common to historic Celtic knotwork and interlace – rules that I follow when developing my own original Celtic-style patterns as well as when adapting ancient designs.

  • All lines are continuous, having neither beginning nor end.
  • All lines cross each other in an alternating under-over-under pattern.
  • No more than two lines cross at any given point.

When it comes to creating or adapting Celtic-style design for appliqué, I add a few more considerations:

  • The lines creating the designs measure no more than 1/4″ wide.
  • The lines are spaced sufficiently far apart that when covered with 3/8″ wide bias-cut tubes, the design still looks clean.
  • Curves are gentle enough that they can be sewn without having the fabric bunch or buckle.
  • Points are not so sharp or skinny that the fabric becomes too bulky.

If you are using a design such as the True Lover’s Knot from my book Celtic Quilts: A New Look for Ancient Designs, all these considerations have already been met.

How do you get the pattern from the book or sketchbook to the background fabric? Continue Reading…

Making a Celtic Quilt – Selecting Fabrics

True Lovers' Knot from Celtic Quilts: A New Look for Ancient Designs by Beth Ann Williams

True Lovers’ Knot from Celtic Quilts: A New Look for Ancient Designs by Beth Ann Williams

This is the first of a series of posts that will take you step-by-step through the process of creating a Celtic Quilt.

We’ll be creating the True Lover’s Knot, one of the beginner-friendly patterns from my book, Celtic Quilts: A New Look for Ancient Designs (pp. 36-29).

Along the way, we’ll explore how to make a 16″  x 16″ machine appliquéd and quilted wall-hanging (start to finish), a quilted pillow, or a quilt block that can be incorporated into a larger quilt.

What will you need?

Understandably, I highly recommend my own book, since it contains complete instructions as well as patterns; but if you have a Celtic design from another source, you may still find my methods helpful.

Fabric

  • Good quality, colorfast, 100% cotton fabric will be the easiest to work with, particularly since adheres well with various fusibles and adhesives, and holds its shape when pressed.
  • For the knotwork design, I recommend choosing fabrics that have a some visual texture, rather than choosing solid color fabrics. Not only is a subtle print more interesting than a solid fabric, the print will tend to help hide any machine stitching that is supposed to be “invisible”.
  • Quilting-weight cottons are more forgiving when it comes to camouflaging your stitches. Batik cottons are less forgiving, since they are more tightly woven and the stitches don’t sink down into the fabric as easily. The tighter weave also makes it a little more challenging to go around tight curves without creating tiny pleats in the fabric, but I still use batiks if the colors are right.
  • For the background, I recommend something that contrasts significantly with the knotwork fabric. I usually select a either very light fabric or a very dark fabric for this.

Below are some close-ups of a some of the projects from my book. You can see that I don’t shy away from prints – although I do generally look for prints with low internal contrast. Continue Reading…

Celtic Quilts – True Lover’s Knot

True Lovers' Knot by Beth Ann Williams, (C) 2000

True Lovers’ Knot by Beth Ann Williams, (C) 2000

Starting in May, I’m planning a series of “Sew-Along” and “Quilt-Along” posts for creating the Celtic True Lover’s Knot design from my book, Celtic Quilts: A New Look for Ancient Designs.

This block can be finished as a 16″ x 16″ wall-hanging, made into a decorator pillow, or joined with additional blocks to make a larger quilt.

Continue Reading…

Journal Quilts with Celtic Knotwork

Woman In Motion, journal quilt, (C) Beth Ann Williams

Woman In Motion, journal quilt, (C) Beth Ann Williams

To me, Journal Quilting is a handy shorthand way to describe quilting as a vehicle for personal reflection and expression. Although I impose no size restrictions on myself, the pieces are generally on the smaller side, which better lends itself to a sense of immediacy.

I often incorporate 3 dimensional elements, hand beading, hand painting, or other mixed media elements in these works. Free motion quilting adds addition texture.

Last month, I shared some of the story behind my book, Celtic Quilts: A New Look for Ancient Designs. This month, I would like to share a few of my journal quilts that incorporate Celtic or Celtic-style knotwork in the design. Continue Reading…

Celtic Quilts – My Journey

My first book Celtic Quilts: A New Look for Ancient Designs was published in 2000 by Martingale & Co. Clicking on the book photo will take you the book page on Amazon.com.

The following has been excerpted from a lecture/trunk show that I have shared with quilt guilds, quilt show attendees, and various community groups around the country.

I’d like to share with you some of the things in my life that led to my becoming a quiltmaker, and ultimately to the writing of my Celtic book. I’m also going to try to answer some of the questions I’m asked most often. So please be patient with me – we are going to tiptoe down what might seem to be a couple of rabbit trails; but I promise that they do, in fact, bring us back to where we want to be.

It is my hope that even if you don’t have any interest whatsoever in Celtic designs (how could that be??) Or if you never even look at any of my books, we can find some common ground – it always amazes me how quilters can be so different from each other, and yet again still so much alike.

We make quilts because we love to.  We need to.  It’s not just about keeping warm – it’s about creativity, self-expression, comfort, healing (sometimes even grieving) and expressing love.

My own journey has encompassed all of these things.

As you will see, my quilts are not intended to be the ultimate in Celtic design.  Instead, they are meant to reflect both my own heritage and my fascination with color and line.  My book is meant to be a good starting point for anyone who is interested in making their own Celtic inspired quilts – especially those with limited time on their hands who would still like to achieve an heirloom look.

The quilts, table runner, pillows and wall hangings shown in this post are all from my Celtic Quilts book. Complete patterns for all but the final quilt shown are included in the book.

Continue Reading…

Infinity Scarves – Sewn with a Serger or a Sewing Machine

Finished!

Infinity Scarf – looped 3 times

Infinity scarves are one of my favorite sewn gifts to give or to receive – easy to make and easy to wear! The continuous loop means no worrying about the scarf sliding out of position or the scarf ends being blown right off your body in a passing breeze.

There are many Infinity Scarf tutorials online and the majority get the job done just fine, but most of them end with a very wide opening that straddles the intersection where the ends of the scarf are joined. This can be a bit of a pain to hand stitch. I think this method, which I learned from Nancy Zieman, is a little easier and leaves a smaller, easier-to-sew invisibly, opening.

Since I’m working here with Telio Reflection knit fabric, I’m going to use the serger, but it could also be sewn on a regular sewing machine. As we go along, I’ll include photos showing how the stitching would look on a sewing machine. Continue Reading…

Folded Fabric Ornaments to Sew – Tutorial, Part 2

Folded Fabric Ornaments made by Connor and Beth Ann Williams

Folded Fabric Ornaments made by Connor and Beth Ann Williams

More Christmas in July! In my last post, I gave a step-by-step overview of the process of making the triangular ornament shown in the photo.

I first stumbled across these lovely and unusual fabric ornaments on a post by Katrina, a sewist in New Zealand, at  katrinastutorials.blogspot.com. The links below will take you to my saved pins on pinterest – you can click through to get to the original posts.

Fabric Ornament – starting with a circle  and Fabric Ornament – starting with a triangle

After a google search, I also found this youtube video by Crouton Crackerjacks.

I’ve since found these oraments in a few other places, but I think the links above are the best.

You can see my step-by-step photos of the process of making the triangular ornament here.

Now let’s look at the process for the 4-Petal Circle-to-Square ornament step by step:

Continue Reading…

Folded Fabric Ornaments to Sew – Tutorial, Part 1

Folded Fabric Ornaments made by Connor and Beth Ann Williams

Folded Fabric Ornaments made by Connor and Beth Ann Williams

Christmas in July! It’s not just an excuse for a sale – it’s when many of us start (if we haven’t already) sewing holiday gifts for our friends and family members.

I first stumbled across these lovely and unusual fabric ornaments on a post by Katrina, a sewist in New Zealand, at  katrinastutorials.blogspot.com. The links below will take you to my saved pins on pinterest – you can click through to get to the original posts.

Fabric Ornament – starting with a circle  and Fabric Ornament – starting with a triangle

After a google search, I also found this youtube video by Crouton Crackerjacks.

I’ve since found these oraments in a few other places, but I think the links above are the best.

Let’s look at the process for the triangular ornament step by step:

Continue Reading…

Fun with Fabric Paints

Section of a silk scarf from Dharma Trading Co., painted with Jacquard Dye-na-Flow fabric paints.

Section of a silk scarf from Dharma Trading Co., painted with Jacquard Dye-na-Flow fabric paints by Beth Ann Williams.

Getting started:

It’s important to think about how you expect to use your fabric.  If you intend to create “art cloth” to mat and frame like a painting, or to serve as the main focal point of a quilt or wall hanging, your needs may be quite different than they would be if you intend to create yardage to be used in more supporting or background roles.

In some cases, you may wish to use your paints toward the end of the construction process, rather than at the beginning. Fabric can be painted, stamped, or otherwise embellished after it has been appliquéd onto, or sewn into, a quilt, quilt top, wall hanging, garment, accessory or other fabric project.

My preferred fabric paints are unique in that they do not require the addition of textile medium, and they generally cause little to no change in the hand of the fabric. Continue Reading…

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…