Making a Celtic Quilt – Cutting the Bias Strips

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 third of 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 strips of fabric and sewing them into tubes.

The first thing to decide is how wide you want your finished tubes of fabric to be.  I’ve seen many beautiful Celtic-style designs created with 1/4″ wide (finished) tubes, but I prefer to use 3/8″ wide (finished) tubes for a couple of reasons: (1) they are easier to handle, and (2) that little bit of extra width makes it easier to see the color and print of the fabric when you stand away from the design.

The next thing is to decide how wide you want to cut your fabric strips. Continue Reading…

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…

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…

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…

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…