Finishing Spree & My Top 4 Favorite Patterns of Summer 2021

Since I like to work on multiple projects at a time, I occasionally experience a bottleneck of quilts that are all at the same stage. Such has been the case this month, when I ended up sewing bindings on 8 different quilts in a little over a week. Wow! My arms are ready for a break, but it’s so much fun to see each quilt finally completed. And it has given me chance to reflect on my favorite patterns of the summer.

But before I go any further, I’d like to elaborate on what I look for when I buy a commercial pattern rather than designing a quilt myself (which I also like to do).

What I Look for When I Buy a Pattern:

(listed in no particular order, recognizing that no pattern ticks ALL of the boxes – which is just fine!)

–A design that I haven’t seen before, or an clever twist on an old favorite

–A technique I haven’t tried before or don’t use very often

–Multiple size options (this isn’t a deal breaker if it’s only one size – as long as I feel confident that I can change the size if I wish to do so)

–Well-written (and tested) instructions with clear diagrams, cutting charts, and (bonus points) coloring sheets

–An opportunity to use a favorite fabric or collection of fabrics I’ve been saving for “just the right project”

And the most important factor:

–A pattern that inspires me with lots of “what ifs” as in “what if I add this” or “what if I change that” – leading to lots of fun variations on the original design

Pet peeves:

–Poorly written, edited, or illustrated patterns

–Fabric requirements based on 44″ of usable fabric width (Not all quilting cotton is that wide right off the bolt, and the selvages may reduce the usable width even more – not to mention the shrinkage that may occur with prewashing.)

–Assembly that requires all seams to be pressed open. (This is a personal preference – I don’t mind pressing some seams open, but I appreciate “nesting” seams as much as possible.)

And here are my favorite patterns of summer 2021:

The Flabellum Quilt Pattern by Alex Hoffmann of HoffMama Company

Why I love it: it’s fast, fun & easy to make, a great pattern for showcasing gradations of color and/or value, with lots of size options.

My version:

Flabellum Quilt pattern by HoffMama Company, made by Beth Ann Williams

And next, the Nightingale Quilt by Lo & Behold Stitchery

Why I love it: Brittany provides clear instructions (always), multiple sizes, and creative options. Inspired by memories of summertime at my grandparents’ farm, I had great fun pulling together a wide selection of fat quarters for this quilt. I also played the “what if” game – adding sashing and crosses between the blocks and a border to “float” everything on the background fabric.

My version:

Nightingale Quilt, pattern by Lo & Behold Stitchery, made by Beth Ann Williams

Thirdly, the Rough Cut Diamonds Quilt by Bre T Designs

Why I love it: this is another great design that comes together pretty quickly, and lends itself to lots of interpretations (check out the hashtag on Instagram!) I added sashing and cornerstones between the blocks, and changed up the the color placement to create a secondary pattern and a new look.

My version:

Rough Cut Diamonds Quilt pattern by Bre T Designs, made by Beth Ann Williams

And finally, the Confetti Quilt from Tied with a Ribbon

Why I love it: this one snuck up on me. I originally purchased the pattern because it featured shapes I hadn’t worked with much before; I had no idea what a treat was in store for me! However, once I started making the blocks (which are SUPER FAST & EASY to make with Jemima’s method), I was fascinated by all of the different design possibilities. I’ve already made 4 different versions, and I feel like I’m still just scratching the surface.

My versions:

Confetti Quilt #1 (made with Tula Pink fabrics) – I carefully planned the fabric placement to create an ombre effect. This is the only version I made that is sized as written in the pattern.

Confetti Quilt #1 – based on the pattern from Tied with a Ribbon, made by Beth Ann Williams

Confetti Quilt #2 – (batik fabrics) – I reduced the size of the squares by an inch and resized the pattern to make an ombre table runner.

Confetti Quilt #2 – based on the pattern from Tied with a Ribbon, made by Beth Ann Williams

Confetti Quilt #3 – (batik fabrics) – I kept it scrappy (like the pattern), but rotated the blocks to create a fun new design.

Confetti Quilt #3 – based on the pattern from Tied with a Ribbon, made by Beth Ann Williams

Confetti Quilt #4 – (batik fabrics) – I was inspired by the iridescent shimmer of soap bubbles in the sunlight when I laid out my fabrics for this quilt to create another ombre effect. I also resized the pattern to make a baby quilt.

Confetti Quilt #4 – based on the Confetti Quilt pattern from Tied with a Ribbon, made by Beth Ann Williams.

And that’s it!

If you are interested in making a Confetti Quilt of your own, I’m offering a 3 week evening Zoom class that starts on Oct. 7, 2021. I’d love to have you join me!

Before I go – I want to give a shoutout to Terri of Threadtales Quiltworks, who always listens carefully to the feeling I’m going for with each quilt, understands & makes really useful suggestions, and quilts them so beautifully. I usually quilt most of my quilts myself (I quilted the last 3 Confetti quilts), but the larger quilts have become challenging for me to handle physically – so being able to hand them off to someone I trust and admire has been a lifeline. Thank you, Terri!

New Classes for Fall 2021

Registration is now open for my new fall classes!

Stop in or call the Wyoming, Michigan Lakeshore Sewing location at 616-531-5561 to register for these ZOOM classes. Note: Lakeshore Sewing will be closed Saturday – Monday of Labor Day weekend.

And don’t forget – locals can save 10% on class supplies at Lakeshore Sewing!

It’s all About the ThreadZOOM – Tues., 9/21; 6:00 – 8:00 PM EST Update 9/17 – this class has been postponed due to an unforeseen schedule conflict.

Sneak peek at some of the swatches from the upcoming zoom class Creative Machine Quilting with a Walking Foot with Beth Ann Williams

Easy & Effective Machine Quilting with a Walking FootZOOM – Sat., 9/25 & 10/2; 10 AM – 1:00 PM

Original Confetti quilt from pattern jacket (from Tied with a Ribbon – pattern purchase required) and ombre baby quilt layout by Beth Ann Williams

Confetti Quilt or Table RunnerZOOM – Thurs., 10/7, 14, & 21; 6:00 – 8:00 PM

Sneak peek at a few of the swatches from the upcoming zoom class Free Motion Quick Start 1 with Beth Ann Williams

Free-Motion Quickstart 1 Sat., 10/23; 10 AM – 2 PM

Sneak peek at a one of the samples for the upcoming zoom class Free Motion Quick Start 2 with Beth Ann Williams

Free-Motion Quickstart 2: Crescents, Swirls, Flowers & Leaves ZOOM – Sat., 11/6; 10 AM – 2 PM

Hope to see you soon!

NEW Free-Motion Quick-Start

I’m working on a bunch of new non-class-related info for the blog; but meanwhile, I do want to let those of you who may be interested that I’ve added another brand-new Zoom class. 🙂

Free-Motion Quilting Quick-Start – NEW

Sneak peak at a few of the swatches from the upcoming zoom class Free Motion Quick Start with Beth Ann Williams

Are you interested in free-motion quilting, but need a boost to get going? Join Beth Ann for a brand-new hands-on introductory class designed to do just that.
We’ll start with a few basic patterning styles that you can use right away, and then explore how you can build on them as your confidence grows. This Zoom class will feature video clips and up-close photography, along with live instruction and Q&A.
Sat., March 13, 2021; 10 AM – 2 PM
Confident Beginner $30
Download the supply list here.
Please call the Wyoming, MI Lakeshore Sewing store at 616-531-5561 to register for this online Zoom class.

More classes are in the works – you can see the current list here. 🙂

The New Zoom Class Schedule is Up!

The new January and February Zoom class schedule has finally been published!
I’m excited about the mix of classes I have coming up – some brand-new offerings you’ve asked for, plus a few repeats of popular classes.

You can see the full list (and download supply lists) on the Upcoming Zoom Classes page on my website, or at www.lakeshoresewing.com.

All my classes are being offered through Lakeshore Sewing in Wyoming, Michigan, so you’ll need to call the store at 616-531-5561 to register. 

Please note that the usual store hours are Monday-Friday, 9 AM – 5:30 PM and Saturday, 9 AM – 4 pm; but with the holidays, there are some changes. 
The store will be closed from Dec. 31, 2020 – Jan. 3, 2021; normal hours will resume on Monday, Jan. 4, 2020.

Meanwhile, here is a quick overview:

All Sew Together – Convertible Fleece Blanket/Pillow
Trellis Quilt (Pattern by Cluck, Cluck, Sew)
Dual Compartment Padded Laptop or Tablet Pouch
Sneak peak at some of the swatches from the upcoming zoom class Easy and Effective Machine Quilting with a Walking Foot with Beth Ann Williams
Divided Basket (pattern by Noodlehead)
Flanged Bindings by Machine (quilt pattern by Lo & Behold Stitchery)
It’s All About the Thread – a NEW lecture/trunk show

See my Upcoming Zoom Classes page for full descriptions, dates, and supply lists.

Hope to see you soon!
Beth Ann

www.bethannwilliams.com

Finishing Spree! Fireworks, Curvy Quilting & “Disappearing” Binding

A quick note: my new fall online teaching schedule is up! In addition to repeating a couple of my most-requested classes, I’ve got some brand-new classes to share with you all.

I haven’t been posting much this summer, but I’ve certainly been sewing up a storm! I’m finding it good therapy. 🙂

Due to the pandemic, we weren’t able to enjoy our usual fireworks display downtown this year, but I was inspired by the July Java batiks box from Cotton Cuts to create some fireworks of my own (metaphorically speaking, of course). 😉

Goodies from the July Java Batiks box from Cotton Cuts.

I started by cutting out shapes with my Tri-Recs rulers, and created little four-patches for the corner of each block. (This was a design-as-I-go project – I didn’t have a pattern.)

I used the Tri-Recs rulers to cut out the star block, AKA my fireworks burst.

I turned my blocks on point, and added more four-patches to the setting triangles.

Building my design – I decided to extend the expanding “fireworks” by added four-patches to the areas where the setting triangles would be.

Continue Reading…

NEW Online Class

Some exciting news – I’m teaching my first online class next week! 🙂

I’m a little nervous, but also very excited about engaging “live” with fellow quilters again – I’ve missed everyone so much while keeping safe at home during this pandemic.

Here is the info from the Lakeshore Sewing website:

Creative Machine Quilting with a Walking Foot
Learn from the comfort of your own home! Join this beginner-friendly hands-on zoom class with author and designer Beth Ann Williams, featuring a mix of live instruction and Q&A, up-close photography, and video clips showing the techniques in action. Together we’ll make a set of swatches that you’ll be able to refer to for inspiration whenever you wonder “How can I quilt this?” Go beyond quilting in-the-ditch and discover fast, fun, and deceptively easy ways to complement piecing, enhance a focal area, and create a variety of textures, all while machine quilting with a walking foot.

Confident Beginner – Intermediate $35; Tues., 7/14 & 7/21/2020, 1:30 – 4 PM.

 

We’ll be quilting on sample swatches in class, but here is a selection of finished projects by Beth Ann Williams using some of the techniques we’ll cover in class.

Please call the Wyoming Lakeshore Sewing store at 616-531-5561 to register.

The class supply list is available here, in the store, or on the Lakeshore Sewing website. Continue Reading…

Making a Bargello Quilt – Cascade

Cascade, designed and quilted by Beth Ann Williams, pieced by Pam Crans for Colorwash Bargello Quilts. 29″ x 34.5″

This is the first in a series of sew/quilt-along posts about making a bargello quilt.

For a little more background information, you can check out my previous post, Colorwash Bargello.

For this series, I’ll be referring to the Cascade pattern from my book Colorwash Bargello Quilts.  If you don’t have the book or would rather design your own bargello quilt, you can still follow along and find a lot of (hopefully!) helpful information.

This has been one of my most popular bargello classes, as it can easily be completed in a day (or two days, if you are having lots of fun with your friends).

To help you start brainstorming a color palette for your own bargello quilt, I’d like to share some of the ways my students and friends have interpreted this pattern:

Cascade II, made by Eileen R. Clous from pattern in Colorwash Bargello Quilts. (gift from Eileen)

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Colorwash Bargello

What makes a quilt a bargello quilt?

And what does colorwash mean?

In the introduction to my second book, Colorwash Bargello Quilts, I credited 3 main influences:

  • Centuries-old bargello needlepoint, also known as Hungarian point, flame stitch, or Florentine work.

    Two examples of Bargello needlepoint patterns or Florentine work. (Left) typical curved Bargello motif, (Right) “flame stitch” motif. Image from Velvet-Glove (Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons.) Public domain, via Wikimedia

  • Modern strip-piecing methods pioneered in the 1970s by quilt artists such as Barbara Johannah
  • Colorwash/watercolor quilting designers in the early 1990s such as Deirdre Amsden, Pat Maixner Magaret, and Donna Slusser.

I also recognize the influence of traditional quilt patterns such as Trip Around the World and Star of Bethlehem or Lone Star when the makers have used gradations of color and/or value in their fabric layout.

In my bargello-style quilts, I emphasize blending the colors and visual textures of the fabrics to create smooth gradations and transitions or “washes” of color across the face of the quilt, punctuated at intervals with areas of higher contrast.

Close-up of Aurora pattern from Colorwash Bargello Quilts showing gradations from light to dark and back again, as well as areas of  higher contrast.

Continue Reading…

Making a Celtic Quilt – Adding Additional Texture with Machine Quilting

The True Lovers’ Knot from Celtic Quilts: A New Look for Ancient Designs – appliquéd and ready for more quilting!

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

The lines that form my Celtic and Celtic-style knotwork designs are formed by cutting bias strips of fabric and sewing them into tubes, which are then fused onto background fabric. For this project, I added the borders, layered the quilt top with batting and backing, and machine appliquéd and quilted the design in one step.

Now I’m ready to add a little more texture!

Since the design itself has already been appliquéd and quilted in one step, I’m going to start this stage by stitching in the ditch between my borders. This will  further stabilize the quilt and help keep my borders straight. I usually recommend a walking foot for this step, but my layers are flat and stable enough that I am going to continue on with my standard presser foot.

Stitching in the ditch in the seam between the borders.

I could stop here, but I’m having too much fun. 🙂 Continue Reading…

Making a Celtic Quilt – Top Tips for (Invisible) Machine Appliqué

Working my way around the design, including  sewing down the folded edges formed when the points were created.

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

The lines that form my Celtic and Celtic-style knotwork designs are formed by cutting bias strips of fabric and sewing them into tubes, which are then fuse-basted onto background fabric. You can choose to appliqué the design (sew everything down), add borders, layer the quilt top with batting and backing, and then quilt by either hand or machine. Or you can choose (as I usually do) to add the border(s), layer the quilt top with batting and backing, and then machine appliqué and quilt in one step.

Here are some of my top tips for successfully appliquéing a Celtic-style design:

In 20+ years of teaching, this is the monofilament thread that seems to work the best in the greatest number of machines.

Choose the right thread.

I recommend a .004 polyester or nylon monofilament thread for your top thread. In teaching various appliqué classes for more than 20 years, I have found the single brand that seems to work best in the greatest number of machines is MonoPoly by Superior Threads.  That said, I have also had students use Wonder Thread, YLI, and even Sulky successfully – it all depends on what works best in each particular machine.

I never use monofilament in the bobbin. Instead, I prefer a high quality 50 or 60 weight, 2 ply cotton, or a high quality 60 weight poly such as Bottom Line by Superior Threads.  Using a relatively finer thread in the bobbin instead of an all-purpose 50 weight, 3 ply cotton thread makes it easier to avoid little dots of bobbin thread being visible on the right side of your work.

Note 1: monofilament can be a little tricky to work with, as it has an unfortunate tendency uncoil, get wrapped around the spool pin, and then break before you realize what has happened. Fortunately, you can minimize breakage by

(1) using a thread net over the spool,

(2) switching to a vertical spool pin instead of a horizontal one, and/or

(3) stitching slowly and steadily – avoiding abrupt stops or speed fluctuations that might cause the spool to spin.

Note 2: If you’d rather avoid monofilament, you could opt to use Bottom Line, or a 50-60 weight, 2 ply cotton thread in both the top AND the bobbin – just match the color of the thread as best you can to your appliqué fabric(s). Silk thread is also WONDERFUL, but can be pricy.

Choose the right tension settings.

Many machines now have automatic tension control, which generally does a very good job adjusting to whatever kind of thread you may be using. However, when it comes to monofilament thread, even high-end machines may need some minor adjusting. On my own machine, I find it helpful to lower the upper thread tension to between 1 and 2 when I’m using monofilament thread as the top thread in my machine (auto-tension for my machine is set at 4).

For more on thread tension and when and how to adjust it, see this machine quilting post: Machine Quilting FAQ & Top Tips.

Choose the right needle.

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