Colorwash Bargello – Auditioning Borders

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

I am following the Cascade pattern from Colorwash Bargello Quilts.
The body of the quilt top is complete, and now it is time for the border. 

Cascade from Colorwash Bargello Quilts – ready for borders! (the blue painter’s tape numbers at the top of each vertical row can also come off now)

When I teach quilting classes or workshops, I usually caution class participants to wait, if possible, to make their final choice of border fabric until the interior of the quilt has been completed. This is because the sum can be much more than its parts! The way the colors, values, and visual textures of the fabrics interact with each other, as well as with the border fabric, can produce significantly different results from what you might anticipate.

Furthermore, like any scrap quilt (or multi-fabric quilt), a bargello quilt can often be made to read as a “blue” or “brown” or “green” quilt simply by adding a border of that color.

I find it helpful to lay the quilt top out on top of any fabric I am considering for a border so that I can see the border fabric on most or all of at least 2 sides of the quilt top.

To illustrate, I’ll share with you some of the border fabrics I “auditioned” for this project: Continue Reading…

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Colorwash Bargello – Sewing the Vertical Rows

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

I’m following the Cascade pattern from Colorwash Bargello Quilts.

We’re on the home stretch!

The vertical rows have all been numbered and are ready to sew. Just like before, I start with a small piece of “header” fabric in my machine, stitch across it, take a stitch or two on “air” and then (without raising the presser foot), slide my first set of strips under the presser foot.

I sew all of the strips into sets of 2, always first checking the numbers at the top of each strip to make sure the strips are in the correct order and orientation. 

Checking the numbers at the top of each strip before sewing them together

The horizontal seams should “nest” against each other. I watch from the side and “finger pin” as I go, but you can use regular pins if you prefer.

Continue Reading…

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Colorwash Bargello – Laying Out the Vertical Rows

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

Now that my loops are all cut from the strip-pieced tubes (see previous post), I’m ready to open the loops up and lay out  the bargello segments that form the vertical rows. This is exciting, as it will be the first chance to see what the finished quilt will look like.

I start by laying all the loops on my worktable in order. Remember – the colors are different in the photo only because the tubes have been rotated differently. All of the odd numbered loops have been cut from one tube, and all of the even numbered loops have been cut from another tube.

Laying the loops out in order first on the worktable – note the alternating direction of the seam allowances

Now it’s time to open up the loops!

I like to use an inexpensive foam core board for this. Being able to look at the design vertically helps immensely. As I open each loop, I pin it to the board and transfer the number to the top of the bargello strip.

Continue Reading…

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Colorwash Bargello – Cutting the Bargello Segments

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

Two sets of fabric, each sewn into a tube, seam allowances pressed in opposite directions.

Once you have your fabric sewn into tubes, it’s time to cut the bargello segments.

There is a cutting chart for each project in Colorwash Bargello Quilts. I’m following the chart for Cascade here and am cutting my segments 1 1/4″ – 2 3/4″ wide, but you can design your own pattern if you’d prefer. 

Either way, the most important thing to remember is to cut all of the odd numbered segments from one tube and all of the even numbered segments from the second tube.

I begin by sliver-trimming first, to give myself a clean edge to work from. 

I also number the loops (bargello segments) as soon as I cut them, so that I don’t get the order of the loops mixed up. (Don’t ask me how I know how easily this can happen….) Continue Reading…

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Colorwash Bargello – Sewing & Pressing the Strip Sets

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

Once you have your strips cut (each pattern in Colorwash Bargello Quilts tells you how many strips to cut – Cascade requires 2 strips of each fabric, each strip 2″ x 20-21″), it’s time to sew them together.

Note: the original Cascade pattern calls for 19 fabrics.  I am using 20 for this new quilt.

Use 2 different colors for your top thread and bobbin thread. You’ll see why later!

First of all, I highly suggest using a noticeably different color thread in the top of your machine than what you are using in the bobbin.  This makes no difference when you sew the strip sets, but it will make a LOT of difference later…

I also have a few tricks I’d like to share that might help you avoid uneven strip sets, seam allowances that curl, or puckers or pleats in the seams:

  • A consistent seam allowance is a MUST. Quilters generally stick with 1/4″ seams. For this kind of project, an exact 1/4″ isn’t as important as a consistent seam allowance that measures the same width at any point along the seam.

    Two styles of quarter-inch presser feet. I prefer the one with the blade, but either one can help keep seams consistent.

  • I also recommend a straight stitch throat plate, if you have one. 

    A zigzag throat plate (left) vs. a straight stitch throat plate (right)

Continue Reading…

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Making a Bargello Quilt – Fabric Selection & Arrangement

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

Strip set for a Colorwash Bargello quilt

I spend two entire chapters discussing selecting a palette of fabrics and using color, value, and visual texture to help arrange them to maximum effect in my book Colorwash Bargello Quilts.  I won’t try to repeat all of that here, but I’ll boil it down to essentials.

Note: Since batik fabrics are generally more tightly woven (and therefore have a little less stretch) than other quilting-weight cottons, I highly recommend that you stick with either ALL batik fabrics or NO batik fabrics for your first bargello quilt. The slight differential in stretch can make matching intersections more of a pain than a pleasure when assembling the quilt. However, if you have lots of strip-piecing experience, press very carefully, and are accustomed to mixing these fabrics, than feel free to go ahead – I do it myself! I just want to warn you that it has the potential to make life a little more challenging…

  • I generally use 18 or more different fabrics in a Colorwash Bargello quilt. Don’t worry – it’s a lot easier to pick out that many fabrics than it sounds! It helps if you don’t overthink it at the beginning of the process. I recommend starting with either a focus fabric, a mental picture, or a theme.
    • The easiest type of focus fabric to work from is a medium-to-large scale, asymmetrical, multicolored print containing a range of values from dark to light. But don’t fall into the trap of overmatching the exact colors in your focus fabric! Variations in color, value, and/or intensity only add to the richness of your palette.
    • Once you have your focus fabric, mental image, or theme in mind, start gathering fabrics that share the same or similar colors, making sure to also grab fabrics that are lighter, darker, brighter or duller. It’s best to have lots to choose from!
  • I narrow down my choices by grouping fabrics into “runs” – 2 or more fabrics arranged from light to dark and “blenders” – fabrics that have 2 or more colors and/or values that can be used as transitions between runs.

Grouping my fabric into “runs” and identifying potential “blenders”

Continue Reading…

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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)

Continue Reading…

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Sewing with Seat Belts

No reviews today – just one more day of seat belt fun before moving on to our next topic. 🙂

This time, I’m showing the Market Tote and Pouches from Cozy Nest Design in different colors. I’m using indigo, royal blue, and lavender blue.

Seat belt webbing from Cozy Nest Design – Check out the swatches on the website to see the full color range.

My second Market Tote. Pattern (3 sizes included) from Cozy Nest Design.

Continue Reading…

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Pattern Reviews

Front view of my Market Tote, pattern from Cozy Nest Design

My last post included my review, some helpful tips, and photos of the Market Tote Pattern from Cozy Nest Design.

Today I’d like to share 2 additional related patterns: the Pouch Trio and the Cosmetic Bag Duo.

Note: All pattern information is from Cozy Nest Design.

Seat Belt Series: Pouch Trio Sewing Pattern

$5.99 (PDF download)

This sewing pattern will take you step-by-step to create a trio of customized pouches made from seat belt webbing. If you have never worked with seat belts before, this is a great project to get you started. Seat belts are shimmery and luxurious, yet extremely durable and easy to clean and sew. The pouches are fully lined and close with a zipper. These pouches are so versatile; use them for make up, accessories, for travel or for every day. You can even dress them up by adding a clasp ring for a matching tassel or wrist strap!

Here are a couple of pouches I made to coordinate with my teal feathers, tropical teal, and minty aqua tote:

Zipped Pouches made from seat belt webbing. Pattern by Cozy Nest Design.

Once again, I found the pattern exceptionally well written. The only time I got into trouble was Continue Reading…

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Pattern Review

Sewing with Seat Belts – Market Tote from Cozy Nest Design

Notes: All pattern information is from Cozy Nest Design.

Seat Belt Series: Market Tote Sewing Pattern

$6.99 (PDF download)

The Market Tote sewing pattern will take you step-by-step to creating a customized bag made of seat belt webbing!  Seat belt webbing is shimmery and luxurious, yet extremely durable  and easy to clean and sew! The tote features 2 exterior slip pockets and a flap accent with metal ring. On the interior you will find a zipped pocket and zipped gusset closure. The handles are 23″ long with a 11″ drop. Instructions are included for 3 different size options.  

Skill level: Intermediate
Finished sizes:
small: 14 x 9 1/2 x 3 3/4″
medium: 15 1/2 x 11 x 3 3/4″
large: 17 x 13 x 3 3/4″

What’s in the pattern:
–  3 complete sets of instructions are included – one for each bag size (small, medium and large)

– imperial and metric measurements
– cutting labels and one pattern piece* for each bag size
– a thoroughly tested design given the thumbs up by my amazing test team
– quality computer-generated line drawings and concise, detailed instructions
* all other pieces are cut based on measurements.

Here are the colors I chose for my first Market Tote:

I chose these 3 colors arranged in blocks for my first tote. Market Tote pattern options include instructions for 1, 2, or 3 colors and solid, stripes or blocks versions.

Continue Reading…

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