Friday, 18 April 2014

Jack's Chain Pillow

I had a bit of time to sew this week. But before I show you on what I have worked on, I want to say thank you for all your great comments on my Amalgam and Stretched Shoo Fly quilts. I really appreciate it. Also, I wanted to say a special thanks to Agnes and Cinzia who took the time to review my pattern for the Stretched Shoo Fly quilt. I didn't mentioned it in my previous post and I wanted to apologize. Thanks to both of you for your constructive comments.

I wanted to make a pillow using leftovers from my Stretched Shoo Fly quilt still playing on the Modern Traditionalism theme. First, I had thought about the Super-Size Castle block (tutorial on Sew Mama Sew by Amy from Badskirt). But, my print scraps weren't big enough. Than, I thought that a ring would look great. I had seen a couple of pillow using the Single Girl pattern by Denyse Schmidt (for example here). I continued looking around on Pinterest thant I found this, a post on the Jack's Chain quilt block. I thought this was perfect. I could use my prints for the nine patches. And I chose a print from the Botanics collection from Carolyn Friedlander for the triangles. For the background, I used Essex yarn-dyed linen in black like in my quilt.

I finished my pillow top yesterday and I wanted to share a bit about the process.
Jack's Chain Pillow Block

It's one of the hardest block I've pieced so far. It involves a lot of Y-seams. They are much smaller than the one on my Tumble Block quilt, so it makes it a bit harder. After a few, I started to get the hang of it.  I find remarquable people who make whole quilt with this block. So much work go into it. It is amazing.

I found a tutorial of this traditional block on Quilter's Cache. I also found this tutorial by Kathy at Carpe Lanam, which had some great tips on how to make the block. Quilter's Cache provide some templates. But, I made mine because I wanted a bigger block for a 18" pillow cover and I needed only one ring. So, I figured out how I would assembled the background around it. Here is a sketch.


The squares for the nine patch are cut at 1.75". The triangles need to be cut from a 4" strip. An 18" long strip is enough to cut all six triangles.

The corner pieces and the hexagon can be cut out from a 16" square piece of the background fabric. First, I cut out the hexagon in the center, then I cut the corners pieces.

You can find my templates for those pieces here. It also includes a template for the triangles, to cut out their tips. This helps to align them when piecing the block.

The rectangles at the top and bottom, and each sides are 2.5" x 4.25". As I was using yarn-dyed fabric with different colors for the warp and weft, I took care of the direction in which I was cutting them. This was to have the grain-line in the same direction for all background pieces.

I assembled the ring as explained in the Quilter's Cache tutorial. Then I assembled four pieces like this with the background pieces for each side of the block. I pieced them one by one to the ring and then stitched the corner seams to join the four sides.

Here is how it looks from the back to give you a better idea of the piecing.
Jack's Chain Pillow Block

I'm happy with the results. The only think I regret is that I took all prints from my Stretched Shoo Fly quilt. I should have left out the lighter prints in the nine patches to have more contrast between the lighter and darker squares. I think I'm going to quilt both the front and the back panel of the pillow. I'll share it with you once I'm done.

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Patterns in Stitch Spring 2014

It is starting to feel like spring here in Quebec. Almost all the snow melted this week.So, I thought it was time to share with you two of my patterns that appeared in Stitch Spring 2014 (Interweave Press/F&W Media).

I was waiting to get my projects back. But since Stitch Summer is already out, I decided I wouldn't wait no more. Here they is are as pictured in the magazine (photography by James Weber): a clothespin bag and a quilted pillow cover.

The clothespin bag was a project I originally proposed back in July 2011 for the Stitch Spring 2012 issue. There was a oil cloth theme planned but it was dropped of. For this spring issue, there was a Mixed Up Prints theme. I thought it was a great occasion to redo the bag in more recent prints. Last summer, there was a keen interest in the Briar Rose collection by Heather Ross for Windham fabrics. I thought it was perfect for a clothespin bag. I love the tear drop shape I came up with for the design of the bag and I find it great to feature different prints. I use a karabiner to hang the bag to the clothesline. Here it is pictured on my design wall before I sent it out to the editor.
Clothespin Bag

Here were my first prototypes.
Clothespin Bag

The one on the right was a bit too small (prints from the Verna collection by Kate Spain for Moda). The one on the left is the same size as in the magazine and I still use this one in my laundry room (prints from the Early Bird collection by Cosmo Cricket for Andover fabrics).
Clothespin Bag

Here is the one I sent out for the original project.
Clothespin Bag
It is in laminated cotton (except the binding and lining) and the prints were from the Nicey Jane collection by Heather Bailey. I had made one for my-self that I left outside for my clothesline. But, the polyurethane finish on the laminated cotton didn't withstand the sun well. It turned yellowish-ed pretty quickly. I should have stored it inside after each use, but I didn't. I actually cut a dozen of this one in laminated cottons. I had planned to finish and sell them when the magazine would go out. But after more than two years, I don't even have the courage to get them out of the box where they are stored.  Lesson learned, don't make a series of samples in advance.

As for the pillow, I proposed this design for the Taking Shape theme. They were looking for projects using basic shapes (rectangles, triangles, circles, ...) to create modern objects. When I sketched this, I played with basic half-circles and rectangles to illustrate in an abstract way two hands meeting to share something. I had called it Share Pillow (it looks like they dropped the name for the magazine).
Share Pillow

I made my shapes using needle-turn appliqué. The fabrics I used are Kona in Ash for the background, in Purple and Caribbean for the central circle. The prints are from the Mixmasters Monochromatix collection by Patrick Lose for Robert Kaufman and Oval Elements by Pat Bravo for Art Gallery. For the back, I did a panel split in two using the same fabrics as the central circle.The junction of the two fabrics is aligned with the halves of the center circle. I quilted both panels and made a zipper closure at the bottom.

Share Pillow

I hope you'll like my projects. Now, I'll go out  enjoy the sun and the starting spring. Hope you have time to do the same!

Monday, 7 April 2014

Stretched Shoo Fly Quilt

Yesterday, the Modern Quilt Guild sent out a newsletter to their members with a link to a Quilt of the Month pattern. For April, it is a pattern I wrote and I'm really happy to share it with other members of the guild. It seems like some of you were curious enough to come visit my blog. I now have new followers on Bloglovin and I want to welcome you. I hope you'll enjoy reading about my sewing projects which are most of time quilt related. For those of you who have been following my projects for a while, thanks for all your lovely comments.

The pattern that was distributed to MQG members was for my Stretched Shoo Fly quilt. Some of you might recognize it as I had shared a sketch and fabrics for it back in September (see previous posts here and here). About that time, the MQG was looking for patterns for their Quilt of the Month series. I offered to write a pattern for this quilt. That is why I didn't share more about it here even though I finished it back in November. I had shown the quilt to members of the Montreal MQG as this is the quilt I had done for our Modern Traditionalism challenge. But now, I'm happy to share some pictures with you. Here you can see it from the font.
Stretched Shoo Fly Quilt

All prints for the blocks were provided by Pam from Mad about Patchwork. Again, a big thanks to her. You can find the list of prints in this previous post. I used an Essex yarn-dyed linen blend in black for the background fabric. I just love its texture.

Here is the back of the quilt. It features a large shoo fly block.
Stretched Shoo Fly Quilt

I chose a solid fabric from my stash for the background fabric: Michael Miller Cotton Couture in Wedgewood. It is so soft! The print is Measurements from the Architextures collection by Carolyn Friedlander. I thought I'd share a bit more on the backing. I had 3 yards of the background fabric and 3/4 yard of the print. I figured out what was the largest Shoo Fly block I could do with what I had. My block finished at 36" x 36". Here is how I did the cutting and how I pieced them together. For the background fabric, I took a 63" x WOF piece that I sliced in two. Then I cut two 13 3/4" x 36 1/2" pieces. I cut what I needed for the block from what was left. That is two 13" x 13" squares to make the HSTs and one 12 1/2" x 12 1/2" square for the block's central square.

Stretched Shoo Fly Quilt

From the print, I cut  four 12 1/2" x 12 1/2" squares and two 13" x 13" squares to make the HSTs.
Stretched Shoo Fly Quilt

Here is how it was pieced (the dashed line is the final size of the quilt).
Stretched Shoo Fly Quilt
The pieced backing ended up a bit shorter than what I suggested in my pattern. But, it was ok for the quilting. And I think it was the best way to make the most of what I had.

For the quilting, here is what I sketched for the free-motion quilting pattern. I first started by quilting the lines with the circles that are running through the central columns of each block and trough the sashing between each block column.  I didn't mark anything. I just used the seams as a guide to center the lines and position the circles. Then I quilted the wavy lines around it.
Stretched Shoo Fly

I found a variegated thread by Sulky that blended perfectly with the Essex linen (Blendables in
Silver Slate, 4027). Here is a close-up of the quilting.
Stretched Shoo Fly

For the binding I used the print Texture Stripe in Malachite from the Florence collection by Denyse Schmidt. A great print for binding and I just love the colors.

I hope MQG members will enjoy my pattern and I'm looking forward seeing other variations of it. If you do a quilt based on it, I would love to see it in this Flickr group or on Instagram using #mqgstretchedshoofly.

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Amalgam Quilt Finished

I finished my Amalgam quilt  last week (see previous post here, here and here). I was able to take some pictures of it when we went skating with the kids.
Amalgam Quilt

Amalgam Quilt

For the quilting, I was inspired by a template (see the Cathedral Window Style Quilting Pattern) I found on Pinterest. I was already considering doing some arcs on the edges of the smaller triangles. But when I saw this motif, I decided to go with it all over the quilt. I used my hera marker to mark edges of triangles of the same size as the smaller ones in the large triangles.

Amalgam Quilt

I spent a lot of time sketching out in which order I would do the quilting. Too much time as you can see ...
Amalgam Quilt
My son's erasable colored pencils were quite handy. I had threads to match the blue and red triangles. I wanted to find the best way to avoid stops and starts. But in the end all this sketching didn't serve much as I had to bury knots anyway due to errors I've made.

When I choose a free-motion quilting design for a quilt, I to try to aim at motifs that won't require moving the quilt a lot. It makes it so much easier on a domestic machines. But, it seems like I have a hard time sticking to this plan. In this case, it was a bit hard to make regular arcs due to the drag on the quilt. The quilting is the part I'm the most disappointed about in this quilt.
Amalgam Quilt
But after a wash, stepping back to have an overall look and waiting a few days before looking at it again, I'm still happy with the result.
Amalgam Quilt

As I mentioned in this post, the binding was made with the Raspberry Jam print from PB&J collection by Basic Grey for Moda. About the same day I sewed my binding to the quilt I stumbled on the beautiful work of Emily Barletta over Pinterest. I find the resemblance between the Raspberry Jam print this thread and paper artwork by her quite surprising. Don't you?

I finished my quilt in time to submit it to two quilt exhibitions: the CQQ Salon, a provincial exhibition here in Montreal, and the Vermont Quilt Festival. It always help to have a deadline to finish a project! I don't know yet if it will be accepted. But it doesn't matter if it isn't, we will still enjoy this quilt in our living room.

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Amalgam Quilt - Piecing

I finished piecing my latest quilt (see previous posts here and here). I thought I would share a couple of pictures of the progress I made in the past weeks.
Amalgam Quilt - Pieced Quilt Top

Did you noticed the change in the quilt name? Yes, I finally settled on a name for it. In and Out quilt became Amalgam quilt. I brainstormed ideas with my sister last week. Well, she actually proposed a lot of great names, I listened and picked one. She really understood the essence of my quilt. I'll use her words in French first: "Je trouve qu'il y a quelque chose d'humain dans ta courtepointe, comme deux univers qui se rencontrent et qui apprennent à s'apprivoiser, à se connaître, à se comprendre. Tout en demeurant uniques et en gardant leur propre individualité". Basically, she said that it was like two worlds meeting. They learn to tame, know and understand each other. Still, they remain unique and keep their own individuality. She said she couldn't find the right words to express it, but I think that really sums it up. And I find that Amalgam is a great word to describe it.

As I said in my last post, I first started by piecing the smaller triangles in groups of 4 to form a triangle of the same size as the larger ones. For those, I decided to press the seam allowances open. With the contrasting colors, I was afraid that the red fabrics would show up through the light blue fabrics. Since there was a lot of back and forth between the sewing machine and the iron, I decided to use my Clover Mini-Iron. I've made my-self a portable ironing board recently (similar to this one). I placed it on my sewing table and I just had to roll to my left on my chair to go press my seams. I bought this mini-iron a few years ago and I never got to really use it. I thought this was a good project for it. It went quite well to open up the seam allowances.
Amalgam Quilt - Piecing

Here you can see how I was aligning a triangle to assemble by matching its edges and triangle tips with the previous edges and dog ears.
Amalgam Quilt - Piecing
Amalgam Quilt - Piecing

Once the group of 4 was pieced, I trimmed the remaining dog ears.
Amalgam Quilt - Piecing

Then, I assembled the larger triangles together row by row. Some tutorials/patterns suggest to press the seam allowances to one side and to alternate between rows. This is to help the seams nest and have the points match up more easily when you sew the rows together. I decided to always press the seams allowances towards the triangles pointing down. This has the same effect when joining the rows, but I find it easier to keep track of it this way.
Amalgam Quilt - Piecing

Here, you can see the pinning for joining the rows together. Before I did so, I also trimmed the dog-ear triangle tips. Once the rows were sewn together,  I decided to press their seam allowances open.
Amalgam Quilt - Piecing

Here you can see how I was aligning the triangle points when joining the rows. I'm quite happy with how they turned out. Beside a few, most of them are quite precise.
Amalgam Quilt - Piecing

Once the top was finished piecing, I trimmed both side edges at 1/4" from the last  triangle points. This way, these points will end up on the edge of the quilt once the binding will be attached.
Amalgam Quilt - Piecing

Last week, I was also able to piece the back panel. I've used fabrics from the PB&J collection by Basic Grey for Moda. I had 2 yards of the main print. I sliced it at 16" inch from the bottom edge and inserted 10" of another print. Then, I sliced the assembled piece lengthwise at 18" from the right edge. I inserted some leftover strips used to cut the smaller triangles on the front as well as a 10" strip of another print (2 x WOF). These measures are approximate, but you get the idea.
Amalgam - Pieced Quilt Back

Even my binding is ready! Now, I need to get the quilting done. I hope you enjoy reading my process.
Amalgam - Binding

Sunday, 26 January 2014

In And Out Quilt: Cutting

I'm finally back to this project. I'm still not sure how to name this quilt. A friend suggested I Want to Break Free as the song by Queen. Or maybe Connect. Since I'm not sure yet, it will remain In and Out quilt for now.
In And Out Quilt Sketch

I've finally cut into my fabrics for the quilt top and I wanted to share some details with you. Here is the list of what I needed to achieve my design.
  • Cut from the blue fabrics:
    • 23 large triangles
    • 6 large half-triangles for the borders
    • 16 small triangles
  • Cut from the red fabrics:
    • 41 large triangles
    • 10 large half-triangles for the borders
    • 16 small triangles
All triangles are equilateral triangles, cut at a 60-degree angle. The large ones will have a finished size of 9 1/4". So, they need to be cut from 10" strips. You need to add 3/4" to the finished size to find the height of the strips. The small triangles will be half the height of the large ones, that is 4 5/8". So, they need to be cut from 5 3/8" strips.

I will be piecing the smaller triangles in groups of 4 to form a triangle of the same size as the larger ones. This way, I'll be able to piece all my triangles in rows and then piece the rows together to form the quilt top. At first, I thought I would paper-piece the smaller triangles for accuracy. Then I thought about the contrasting colors and I was afraid that the red seam allowances would show up through the light blue fabrics. So, I decided to rely on my precision instead of paper piecing. This way I could press my seam allowances open for the small triangles. I made a test with some fabric scraps and it turned out good enough. I'm just sharing my thoughts here because I would have cut my triangles from larger strips for paper piecing.
In And Out Quilt: Cutting

Back to the actual cutting, I was able to cut 6 large triangles and 2 half-triangles from one strip of 10" x WOF (width of fabric). My fabrics were 42" wide.

I started cutting about an inch from the selvage. I won't go into the details of cutting equilateral triangles. There is already a lot of great resources online on the subject. You can find a few herehere and here.
In And Out Quilt: Cutting

So, I needed 7 strips to cut all of my large red triangles and 4 strips for the blue ones. If you go back to my original post, you'll see that I had 4 red fabrics and 3 blue fabrics. I decided to add one to each color, respectively Kona cottons in Cayenne and Dusty Blue. I might say that it was to add variety. But, the real reason is that I realized I wouldn't have enough fabric when I started cutting. I only had ordered half a yard of each color. Fortunately, I was able to find some coordinating colors at a local fabric store. For the small triangles, half of a strip (WOF/2) from each color was long enough to cut everything I needed.

After cutting all my strips, I sprayed them with starch, waited for them to dry and ironed them. This was to minimize stretching when piecing on the bias. I was then ready to cut my triangles. Here they are all stacked up after I was done with the cutting.
In And Out Quilt: Cutting

Then I decided on my final layout by placing them on my design wall. I was trying to be as random as possible, but still avoiding triangles of the same color next to each other.
In And Out Quilt: Cutting

When I was satisfied, I stacked them up again but this time row by row to have them ready to sew. In the next post, I'll show you my progress on piecing. By then, I may have finished piecing the quilt top!
In And Out Quilt: Cutting

Still blogging about Christmas Gifts ...

A month has passed since Christmas and I'm still blogging about the gifts I've made. It's about time I finish. So, these are the last few gifts I've sewn this year for Christmas.

First, I've made a business card wallet for my sister. She asked for one when she saw mine. Again, I've used some Essex yarn dyed linen blend in black combined with Jay McCarroll's print from his Center City collection. Just like what I had done for her knitting notion organizer.
Business Card Wallet

Business Card Wallet

I also made my grand-mother a key lanyard like the one I had made here. These lanyards are fun and quick to sew and my grand-mother likes carrying her keys around with one. So, I thought she would love to receive one made by me.
Key Lanyard

The last one was a gift my older son found in his Christmas stoking. I made him a little bag to bring his morning snacks to school. Since school began in September, he has been using some brown paper bags. I thought it was about time I made him a re-usable bag. The interior is a nylon fabric, so it will be easy to clean.
Snap Snack Bag

Snap Snack Bag

Now that I'm done sewing and blogging about my Christmas gifts, I'm back to this quilt. I can't wait to share more about the process with you.