Tuesday, August 30, 2016

"What Burr Said" - A Hamilton Mini Wholecloth Quilt

I set out to create a couple of mini quilts to practice wholecloth quilting (using just one fabric as the background for a quilt) for a challenge with Renee @quiltsnfeathers. What I didn't intend was to spend an entire week on two of them, creating intricate details and scheming about the moments they would end up in their forever homes.

 "I am the one thing in life I can control. I am inimitable, I am an original."

While this quilt isn't just one fabric, I practiced the same concept of wholecloth quilting: quilting that thing to life! One of my closest friends Jessica Levitt (@jtlevitt) had a birthday earlier this summer, and I wanted to make her something Hamilton related. If you've been living under a rock and haven't heard of Hamilton: An American Musical, I suggest you go give that soundtrack a listen, STAT. Lin-Manuel Miranda is an exuberant, inspiring genius.

Once I finally see it (one day but who knows when I'll be able to get tickets!), it will surely make my list of favorite musicals. Anyway, I got Jess into it, and we've both been obsessing over it for months! We have a pact that we'll meet in NYC if one of us wins the lottery.

This is a quote from the song "Wait for It," in which Aaron Burr (Alexander Hamilton's "nemesis," played originally by the brilliant Leslie Odom Jr.) discusses his ambition and his family's legacy (listen to/watch an amazing a capella version here. CHILLS, people!).

These lines are what make the character so intriguing to me, and I felt like they apply to Jess and myself as well. It's about letting go of the things you can't control (for lack of a better word) and doing your best with what you can. I love the power and spice of so many exciting words put together; really, the whole musical is like that!

I decided to use three background colors to play with different threads. I started with citron green fabric, Jess's favorite color - the teal and navy quickly fell into place afterwards. It was exciting to experiment with thread colors; if something didn't show up like I expected, I simply traced over it a couple of times. A few motifs are purposefully light, which makes you look a little closer. Some of the threads I used: Aurifil 2024 (white), 2600 (dove gray), 2870 (green), 2710 (light blue), and 2783 (dark blue). I have so many ideas whirling in my head right now for changing thread weights and colors in my large project to come.

 A blank canvas! So full of possibilities.

I practiced the writing in my sketchbook and used my Hera marker for minimal marking - otherwise, the lettering is freehand. It's not centered exactly (which, I realized, is all part of the message) and that wasn't an issue for me. I just went for it and had fun creating all kinds of contrast.

I used some motifs that are very "Jess L." (the wonky square spirals) and some that are very "me" (orange peels, of course!).

Lots of pebbles of all shapes and sizes. I'm learning a lot about emphasizing letters in relation to the rest of the quilt!

The back shows tons of quilting - especially those orange peels! I chose this fabric because it reminds me of Jess (I used it in the very first thing I made her way back in 2013). I gifted this quilt to her privately at our guild sewing day last weekend and she was thrilled. It makes me so happy to sew things like this for others.

Yay, texture! I have another small wholecloth quilt to share soon. Until then, do yourself a favor and listen to Hamilton. Come on, you know you want to.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Star Light, Star Dark QAL: Piecing the Top Together

Welcome to Post 8 of the Star Light, Star Dark QAL! Today we're putting the top together. And, just in case you're not at this point yet, that's perfectly okay, too - the QAL doesn't close until October 3 (the last day to link up your finished lap or baby quilt to win prizes). One more month, friends!


June 26 - October 4, 2016

All info here!

Share your fabric choices and progress!

 Instagram: #starlightstardarkqal

Facebook: Quilty Habit Facebook group

Sponsored by:

https://www.etsy.com/shop/sewmeasong/http://www.fatquartershop.com/   http://www.craftsy.com/user/546702/pattern-store
http://www.craftsy.com/user/1015609/pattern-store      http://www.aurifil.com/


Many of you have already gone ahead and pieced your tops together. It's very easy, and I pretty much gave it away in the instructions post!

1. If you haven't done so already, sew your Small Stars together. The seams should match right up!

2. Sew Fabric 3 to the top or bottom of your Large Star. You decide! Press seam open.

3. Sew Fabric 7 to the top or bottom of your Small Star(s). Press seam open.

4. Sew the two sections of your block together (see below for a full block), and press the seam open. This is just ONE option for a layout! Feel free to experiment with the placement of your stars and background fabrics - see last week's post about Alternate Gridwork for more layout ideas. Repeat directions 1-4 for all of your large blocks.

Here's how I determined my layout (I hadn't cut my Fabrics 3 and 7 yet, but you get the idea). I kept switching fabrics and color placement until it felt balanced. Use a design wall, floor or table!

5. Sew rows together and press seams open. If you're making a lap size version, you'll have 3 rows; for a baby quilt, you'll have two. See picture below for a lap size example.

6. Pin the rows together and match the very middle seams (this should be easy to do if you have a lot of contrast between the two halves of your quilt!). Then, match as many seams as you can and pin before you sew. I enjoyed this article from my friend Chris Dodsley @madebychrissied about keeping your seams from folding as you sew.

7. Press your seams open. Ta-da! Your quilt top is done!

Now it's time to decide on a backing (or piece one) and get ready to quilt. The next post will be in two weeks, and I'll give you some quilting ideas. I've already seen one completely finished quilt (that honor goes to @ellathrowawench on Instagram - here's her quilt)! Woohoo!! Great job, Ella!

I hope you are all enjoying the QAL as much as I am. Don't forget to share your progress on Instagram or on our Facebook group! See you soon!

QAL Schedule


Sunday, August 28, 2016

Sunday Stash

Since my fabric-buying splurge at Marden's in July, I've been going through my fabric stash (both using and pulling to destash - more on that at the bottom of this post). It makes me so happy to actually use the fabrics I love. Wait until I show you the back of my Meadow quilt, which is now basted and ready to be quilted (probably not for a while though - I'm still scheming about quilting motifs).

Anyway, I'm often blessed with the generosity of quilty friends, and I'd like to thank them publicly. Within the last month, I came home with some lovely things. The large scrap of Anna Maria Horner voile (long out of print) is from my guild friend Janneke @jannekenl. She saw me working with the cotton version of that print at one of our sewing days (sewcials!), and brought in the voile version. She said she didn't need it and asked if I did - why yes, I actually do keep a nice pile of scrap voile for future projects! Thank you, Janneke. Also, the book is from our guild freebie table. I've been really into handwork lately and I'm eager to dive into this book from several years ago.

The fabric on the right is from my LQS, Pennington Quilt Works, where we have our guild meetings. I buy something almost every time I'm there. I've already cut into all of them except those adorable Cotton + Steel blueberries! The utensil print is also C + S, the purple batik is one of the new Me+You fabrics from Hoffman Fabrics, and the solid is from Free Spirit.

When I visited Liz @beadqueene last weekend, we agreed to trade fabrics (and wow, is her stash something to behold!). The purple birds from Waterfront Park by Violet Craft are one of my "unicorn" fabrics - I've used bits and pieces and only have a scrap left. She gave me a whole fat quarter (!!), a large scrap of that navy and pink chain that I was inevitably drawn to (no selvage), and a FQ of one of the Mod Corsage prints from Anna Maria Horner's new line. I really want to buy the whole line, but I'm going to try and wait until my birthday in December. I'llmake some room to house it in the meantime... I love those fabrics so much! It's my favorite fabric line she's come out with in a few years.

Liz was also binding her huge x-plus quilt, and she was happy to throw in some of her binding scraps (another Cotton + Steel print). Scrappy binding is one of my favorite things. I already sent a little package off to her with a couple of surprises. Thanks, Liz!

If you'd like to get in on my fabric destash, I'll start posting items on Thursday morning EST (9/1) on the Instagram account @quiltyhabit_destash. Lots of scrap packs, fat quarters, some large solid cuts, Cotton+Steel, Anna Maria Horner - this isn't even all of it. Just stuff that I want a better home for! Fair prices, I promise. The rules will be posted soon! I'll only be shipping out to US addresses (sorry, international friends). I have a couple of "freebies" (you pay shipping only), too!

Linking up to Sunday Stash.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Starburst: A Mini Quilt

I'm excited to share a small, happy mini quilt with you today!

I knew that I'd be staying at my friend Liz's (@beadqueene) house when I traveled to Maryland for my workshop last weekend, and I wanted to make her a thank you present for hosting me.

She loves mini quilts and bright colors, so I started with the below beautiful plus fabric ("It's A Plus" from Koi by Rashida Coleman-Hale, which I've luckily hoarded, as it's long out of print).  I pulled colors from my fabric stash that matched (or closely complemented) the pluses.

I decided to separate the colors in a star design, and inevitably returned to the amazingness that is the Ribbon Star quilt block tutorial by Faith of Fresh Lemons Quilts. I added the extra HSTs coming off of it to a) showcase more fabrics and b) to mimic my Epic Anna Maria Horner medallion (that's probably my favorite part of that quilt!). I was a little hesitant to use the pluses as the background, but it quickly became clear that the small print would not overwhelm the quilt. In fact, in this case, I'm much happier that I used it instead of a solid!

I used the following Aurifil colors to blend with or slightly pop against the fabric: 1100 (magenta), 2135 (yellow), 2850 (green), 2710 (light blue), and 5004 (dark gray).

Liz saw the sneak peek of the back on Instagram (pictured below) and wanted to know which fabric it was! You guessed it: another Rashida print from her even older Washi fabric line. It just fit!


Upon finishing, I reflected about how awesome it is to make mini quilts. You can try out a big idea on a small scale. You can quilt them really densely without worrying about much wear and tear or washing. You can make something special for someone that takes much less time (and money) than a large quilt. It can be apart of their decor or table or sewing room for years to come! Thumbs up, mini quilts.

I hope this little quilt can find a happy place near X Marks the Spot! Thanks again, Liz, for a super fun weekend!

Linking up to Needle and Thread Thursday, Fabric Tuesday, TGIFF.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Workshop Recap: Waterfall Quilt Class with Baltimore MQG

I'm still recovering from a long weekend in Maryland, where I taught my Waterfall Quilt Workshop to the Baltimore Modern Quilt Guild! It was an all-day class and we tackled so many different techniques, including my favorite kind of improvisational piecing (which I call brick-by-brick), bias strip piecing (no applique here!), and intermediate free motion quilting motifs. These ladies were certainly up for the challenge!

 Picture from my hostess and friend Liz @beadqueene

I started off with discussing the original quilts themselves and showing various improvisation examples. Since Baltimore was a few hours drive away, I was able to bring more than enough quilts in my car! I also demoed improv for them using some beloved, fall-like Anna Maria Horner scraps. So, does this mean I've started another quilt? :)

And everyone was off, creating their improv blocks!


Most of the improv from the day in one picture, below! It was so interesting and exciting to see everyone's different fabrics and interpretations. There was lots of time to explore and work with my students one-on-one. As always, I feel like the number 1 topic is color and fabric placement. We all seek opinions on those subjects!

 Close up pics of some blocks:

Top row (left to right): Cindy, Judy; middle: Andee, Phyliss; bottom: Diane, Amy

 The BMQG requested that part of the 6 hour class be devoted to the free motion quilting techniques I used on Emergence and Pebble Cascade. So, we got to work after lunch! I am happy to customize classes to fit the needs and wishes of different groups.

Cindy worked on pebbles:

Liz practiced drawing for awhile before quilting. This one of the ways students can improve their quilting by MILES. I really believe that f you can draw it, you can quilt it!

Here's Amy trying every motif! Wow!

 It was an awesome day, and I'm thrilled to have the opportunity. Thank you, Baltimore MQG! I can't wait to see what you make!

P.S. There's the top of that Modern Cathedral Window I was blabbing about last week - I'm planning to quilt it today! Ahh! I'm so excited. Also, I'll be back Thursday night/Friday with a mini quilt to share.

P.S.S. I'm updating my teaching page right now! I just added all the pictures and testimony from BMQG members, and I'm going to be posting several more classes very soon. I'm very excited for all that is coming up.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Star Light, Star Dark QAL: What Is Alternate Gridwork?

Welcome to Post 7 of the Star Light, Star Dark Quilt-A-Long! Today, we're taking a closer look at one mysterious element of modern quilting: alternate gridwork. Let's delve in!


June 26 - October 4, 2016

All info here!

Share your fabric choices and progress!

 Instagram: #starlightstardarkqal

Facebook: Quilty Habit Facebook group

Sponsored by:

https://www.etsy.com/shop/sewmeasong/http://www.fatquartershop.com/   http://www.craftsy.com/user/546702/pattern-store
http://www.craftsy.com/user/1015609/pattern-store      http://www.aurifil.com/


First, a preface: everyone has a different definition of what a modern quilt is, and I think that's fantastic. Alternate gridwork is currently part of the Modern Quilt Guild's definition of modern quilting, and I think rightfully so (this doesn't mean a quilt that is modern *has* to have alternate gridwork, though!). I've said it before, and I'll say it again (my humble opinion): alternate gridwork is one of the easiest and clearest ways to modernize a traditional quilt design.

Alternate gridwork (or alternative gridwork - same thing) is a nontraditional quilt layout. Traditionally, quilts are pieced with blocks, in rows and columns. Here's an example of a traditional block layout, like a 3x3 piece of graph paper:

Here's one example of a quilt without a grid (alternate gridwork). Can you tell how I pieced it? No. It has a structure but no clear layout.

 Rainbow Wave (original design; for my niece) 

It's true that the Star Light, Star Dark quilt is laid out in a traditional grid. Can you see it? 2 large blocks across, 3 down. It makes for a nice lap-sized quilt. However...

This quilt allows for many different layout options! You can sew the large piece to the Large Star either on the top and the bottom. You can make 1 or 2 Small Stars. You can place the smaller fabric (below: stars) either on top or below it. That's why I'm describing the SLSD quilt with alternate gridwork in mind; you can alternate the way the blocks look.

One example: the stars have the potential to be offset (like my quilt). Some of the stars float a little higher than others due to the placement of the long strips of fabric. Below, the light blue Small Star is higher than the two dark blue Small Stars.

Here's a look at the differences between my two quilt tops. I purposefully switched the placement of the Small Stars and the long fabric strips (below or above the Large Star)!


Here are two more examples from the QAL, used with permission. I hope they inspire you to play with your layout and consider all options before piecing your top together! The options are truly endless.

Elizabeth (@elizabethkray) is considering this unique layout: switching the placement of the small stars and panels. How unexpected and luminous this quilt will be! I can't wait to see what she chooses.

Yvonne (@quiltingjetgirl) placed the small star panels on top or below the large stars, rather than to the side. How beautiful! It looks like the small ones are shooting stars, zooming from one end of the quilt to the other.

  • To read more of the technical aspects of alternate gridwork, visit the Modern Quilt Guild's post (complete with interactive graphics). This article is by Heather Grant, who also lectures on the topic. I truly appreciate the educational value of the post!

Alright, that's it for this week! Next week I'll provide instructions for putting the top together, and then we'll have even more time set aside before the quilting suggestions post. If you're ahead of the game, feel free to put together your top (some of you have already) and start quilting! Remember, we'd love to see what you're working on - post a picture to the Progress Linky Party and check out all those who have already!

Quilt-A-Long Schedule
August 22: What Is Alternate Gridwork? <<<you are here!
August 29: Piecing the Top Together
September 12: Quilting Suggestions
September 19 - October 3: Final Linky Party - Link up your Finished Quilt - Prizes Up for Grabs!
October 4: Winners announced


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