Saturday, May 28, 2016

A Nine Patch Cross Quilt Tutorial ISH. A tutorialish.

Hey friends. I took a couple pictures while making my latest Summer Bouquet quilt because I have had a couple friends who have asked me about a good, somewhat easy quilt to start with, and I was thinking maybe this is the design that would be fun!

I usually say a log cabin quilt is a good start because you can just keep piecing until you get to the size that you need, but if you are wanting something involving a block design, a nine patch is pretty easy, too.

First, the basics of a nine patch. Basically just 9 squares all the same size, arranged in 3 rows of 3 squares each.

For this quilt, I cut squares to 4 1/2 inches each, 4 low volume background squares, and 5 squares in the patterned fabric you are wanting to showcase. You can see the layout above, but top row is background square, main print, background square, middle row is 3 of the patterned fabric squares, bottom row is background square , main print, background square.

(p.s. -- the nine patch block offer SOOOOO many variations, and if you're looking to make a fun block style quilt, it is so easy and fun and offers so much variation. not to mention, you can make them as big or as small as you like, just as long as each of the 9 squares are the same size, you are good to go. some examples of nine patch block options are here!)

The only real trick to a nine patch is getting the squares to line up as much as possible. And after making lots and lots of blocks, I have found 3 things to be especially important in making this happen.

1- using a quarter inch seam foot!!! seriously, I use this for all piecing and it is SOOO good. It maintains a consistent seam allowance, which is so important for accurate piecing!!

Just find out which foot fits your machine and you are good to go!

2- This is something I just learned a couple years ago-- when pressing rows, press each rows seams in alternating directions. For example, for rows 1 and 3 of your 9 patch, press the seams to the left, and for row 2, press seams to the right. This is a good tutorial on that.  Doing this allows you to sort of LOCK the seams into place, because they abut one another, when you sew the rows together. It's hard to describe until you do it and then you'll be like AAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!!! 

See, there? The seam allowances are going in opposite directions, allowing me to butt them against one another when I stitch them together, making them line up perfectly.

3- Finally, this is something I just discovered this past fall-- STARCH!!! Some people are ehhh about starch, but not this girl!! I love it. It really makes my patchwork lie flat, which is even more important when you are stitching a seam-allowance heavy block together, like one using HSTs for example. I spray a mist of starch and then I PRESS (not iron), I just press my iron down firmly to set the seams flat and lay the blocks open.

I'm telling you-- game changer!

So, that, in a nut shell is it! A quarter inch seam foot, pressing seams to side in alternating directions, and starch and press! 

All that said, though, there are still times when I don't get things to line up perfectly. Thankfully, there is grace and forgiveness in the quilting, and I need much of both grace and forgiveness, and not just in regards to quilting. 

So, that is how I make one block. My squares were each 4.5 inches, making the finished block 12 inches. I used strips in between each block, and above and can make the blocks line up directly against, or make strips in between, and adjusting the strip size allows you to make the quilt as big or small as you want!

I did 3 blocks per row, 4 rows, and did a wider border on the top, bottom, and outer sides, which created a quilt that measures 43.5 inches by 62 inches. 

I used pieces of the fabric I made the quilt top with to piece a back together. I added in solids to make it big enough. I really like the way the back turned out, probably just because I love these fabrics and I love seeing them all blown up :)

If you did 4.5 inch squares with 4 blocks per row, and 5 rows, you would roughly have a quilt measuring 48 x 60.

Maybe a super easy, fun way to start would be to make a huge block, with just one cross being the focal point. If each square measures 10.5 inches, it would result in a finished 30 square inch block that you could border with white, making a super cute, super easy baby quilt!! I bet that would be lovely!!! Great. Now I want to go make that. Ugh....quilter ADD probs. It's a legit thing.

Y'all-- I just shared a sort of, not really, kind of tutorial. ISH. A tutorialish. I think I am growing up!!!!

Linking up here:
Fort Worth Fabric Studio

And HERE!!!

happiness and hurting back

Hi there! It's Saturday morning, my husband is home (!!!!!), my coffee is hot, and I am well rested. I feel like the only thing missing is a showering of glitter from the sky!! haha. jk, because that's just another mess I'd have to clean up.....or walk over and bribe my kids with candy to clean up.

Jeremiah was gone for a few weeks and the best way I know how to deal with his absence is to keep busy. My work schedule and the kids baseball games/practices certainly did their part in making that happen. But at night, when it was quiet and my kids were fading off to sleep (or fighting it and begging for cupcakes, if you're Declan), I grabbed my fabric and got to making.

Here is a look at some of the things I made.

A few of these have already sold, and some are still available in my etsy shop I clearly have a thing for plus/cross quilts. I also have a thing for log cabin style blocks and overall quilt designs. 

That lavender one and the one with navy and sky blue, though, those 2 might be my new favorite designs and I have been toying with making that design a customizable quilt. Customs make me nervous because I don't think what I see in my head and what the customer might see in their head will always mesh. Also, I don't want to make anything I don't really love, because I really want to maintain the kind of sacredness that is my creating/quilting time. Meaning, basically, that if I am making a quilt I don't like and it feels like "work", it will lessen my love for quilting. And aint nobody got time for that.

I am curious if anyone has dealt with this, and found a way to still offer custom work while maintaining their creative identity? Anyone, anyone? I'd love to hear about it. 

I just finished another quilt that maybe I will write a separate post for (as if you're all just begging for more!!). While I was sewing, I took a few pictures that sort of spot-lighted some of my favorite tools when it comes to patchwork and piecing! Here is a look at the finished quilt:

Y'all, this Nicey Jane fabric by Heather Bailey-- it is an all time FAVORITE!!! I literally cannot even!

I quilted it minimally, so just to frame each block. It gave it a good amount of texture without detracting from the overall least that was my hope.

I mean seriously!!! look at those florals.

That quilt is listed in my shop  but honestly, if this one doesn't sell, I won't cry. She is my favorite. 

Okay, I need to get my act together and go fold some laundry, and eventually head to joanns to get some more Kona white.....I am ALWAYS running out of white, and I just went a week ago and got  yards!! Maybe I need to start buying a bolt. haha! 

Happy weekend folks!!

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

maker slump, turned making spree, and Gee's Bend

I am not sure what started it exactly, or where it was I lost my desire to make things, but it happened. About a month ago. I am pretty sure it was a combination of my personality and our busyness/stress that spurred it on.

I am a little bit of a control freak. And unfortunately, not the kind that typically results in something wonderful. More like, if I don't feel like I have control and it's what I really want, I rapidly lose interest. For example, I will see patterns or designs and think "I need to make that, it looks so good." I will start cutting and piecing, and then I lose interest. If it doesn't totally pull me in, I'm out. So making just to make is completely unfulfilling for me. The projects that I start and finish within a few days-- that is where my heart is. The ones I put down and set aside half way through, not as much. --However, there have been occasions where I go back to the works in progress renewed, or sometimes I tackle it in a different way. Like my mother-in-law's quilt... I started quilting it with purple thread because I saw (and really liked) how other people were using colored thread to make their quilting pop. I did it and did not like it. At all. So I put that quilt down and it sat and sat and SAT.....until I finally decided to rip out all my quilting and start anew with white thread. Ahhhhh. Much better. When something feels like me and really interests me, I am all about it.
--all of that is the exact reason why I don't do custom orders. the second it starts feeling NOT like me or like something I would make, it becomes not fun and feels like work. bleh. If I am taking time away from my family and my job, I want it to only be for what really drives me.--

I have totally stepped off course. Whoops. My bad. Okay, so basically I had started to make a few quilts for my little etsy shop, but they weren't doing anything for me. And stuff going on personally had really drained me, so I fell right into a creative slump. Nothing.

And then I saw a picture of fresh spring flowers and the color palette made me the feel the need to MAKE SOMETHING. So I did. This quilt below. 

I didn't want to overthink it, so I just grabbed fabric and cut, and then pieced it all together. Ahhhhhhh. It was just what I needed to get me back in the saddle. 

I have been wanting to make a quilt where the color lavender was the focus for some time, but again, I didn't want to overthink it. (Is it just me, or has anyone else found that pinterest- while great inspiration-- can HURT creative drive? I see SOOOOO many amazing quilts and patterns and color schemes, that I feel overwhelmed and don't have any clue where to start.) 

I searched through my stash and remembered I had hoarded a Brambleberry Ridge bundle. I pulled the lavenders from that as my starting point and incorporated a couple more. I went back and forth between adding ONLY gray and white, but then grabbed a piece of icy blue and loved it. And then it totally evolved as I was pulling but I really like the end result of the colors together. It feels wintery to me. 

I used a different pinky than my normal to back it, and it ended up being heavier and a little more difficult to quilt with. But the end result is a super warm and cozy quilt. It's available in my etsy shop if you want to check out some more pictures :) 

Now that these two are finished, I am plotting my next one. I have been reading a lot of about the Quilts of Gee's Bend and I am just completely pulled in. The history, the women, the very utilitarian nature of the quilts, and how unbelievably amazing they are. I am blown away. I love history and looking back and imagining life, and seeing what these women made with their hands, using pieces of sheets and's just all the good stuff. The impact that they had. Y'all need to read all about the women of Gee's Bend-- here is a good place to start. It's all so inspiring and amazing.

Monday, March 7, 2016

march on

hey friends! I am basically putting off work right now, so I guess you could call this avoidance blogging.

about work.....working from home is one of those weird things. I don't feel like a stay-at-home-mom but I also don't feel like a legit 'worker'. haha. But honestly, when people ask if I work, and I say 'yes, I am a marketing coordinator, I work from home,' I feel like the "from home" takes away any validity. Which is ironic because I think it would be MUCH MUCH MUCH easier if I actually worked in an office where my sole focus was work. Anyway, I never really feel like I am taken seriously about the whole 'yes, I work' thing-- even in my own mind, I'm kinda like 'yeah, from home, barefoot, sometimes with a baby on my lap, so not reallllllllyyyyy'. You know what? All that changed the moment we did our taxes. Because I am a contract employee, taxes are not taken out of my paycheck so we pay at the end. And holy moly, did I have no clue how much I actually worked until I saw it on paper. So people, I FOR REAL, TOTAL LEGIT, have a job that I worked 2236 hours last year, which boils down to about 43 hours a week. (p.s., I am not saying this to be holier than thou, like YEAH I HAVE A JOB- IN YO FACE!!! mostly just for my own benefit, and to also mourn the fact that we just had to pay out the rear in taxes. seriously, how important are roads and education REALLYYYY?) ((that was a total joke))

okay, so because of that job and the fact that I am raising 5 kids, my quilting time is relegated to the -when I can squeeze it in, or -when I can avoid housework or cooking part of my days. You'd be surprised (or not) how AMAZING I am at avoiding housework. I'm actually pretty proud of that.

So, here are some quilty things I've just finished up, and things I am still working on.

I have actually got a few more blocks done of this lavender and pale aqua ninja star quilt done, but I forgot to write down what size I was cutting the HSTs to, so I need to figure that out before I continue. I think this one will finish at crib/toddler size.

This one I was pretty proud of because it was the first time I had a picture of it in my head, I drew out it out, and played with measurement, and created it all by myself. It's not like it was difficult, it was just very gratifying to make an idea real. I named her the Watercolor Josi, and very appropriately, my cousin Josi took her home. --that almost sounds scandalous. leave it to me.--

And because Josi has been such a great supporter of me, I added this little rainbow basket to go along with her rainbow quilt. And then people liked it so I made a few more to add to the shop. That text print is so perfect, and unfortunately, I am all out of it. :(

So when Josi got her basket, she decided she needed another and went to purchase one from my shop. So naturally that led to me making her another rainbowy surprise. This bag. I will probably be adding a few of these linen totes to me shop soon, I just need to order more linen.

This is my mini quilt for the #rainbowminiswapR2 #rainbowminiteamred put on by @katebasti I really stepped out of my comfort zone on this because it is completely paper pieced-- a skill that is new to me. I did a little bit of outline quilting and then filled in the voids with pebble quilting-- another thing that is very very new to me. I hope my girl likes it. It was fun and challenging to make, but-- even if it is not even close to perfect- I had fun learning new things.

And lastly, this. I am trying to get her quilted today. There is something I love about simple patchwork- both classic and modern in the colors and white space. 

Okay, I better get to work before my inbox gets insane. Happy Monday, friends!

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

on starting

Hi friends. It's a slow work day (oh my gosh do I love slow work days) and my sewing table is a hot mess of various piles of quilts waiting to be put together, so rather than clean it off, I am here.

I am not sure where it happened, exactly, that blogging lost it's luster for me. Typically, I would say that life "got busy" but all that really means is that in the busy-ness, I chose something else over writing. Because life with 5 kids is always pretty busy, but we make the time for the things that feel good to do.

So today it feels good to write. I know I typically talk about family stuff and just life, but today I am switching gears. If you have read anything I have written, you probably know I like to quilt. For nine thousand reasons, but seeing the end result of fabrics I have pieced together to create something useful is the at the top of the list.

I have had a few friends express interest in quilting lately, and while I am not a great teacher (I lack the patience-- just ask my daughters), I feel like I can handle tips and thoughts. Something I have been asked frequently is about starting. How do I start, what is my first step?

I had to really think about that because I don't know that I really have a method or a system. I think, for me, every step of the quilting process is organic. {I know this term is so overused, but I really cannot think of any other way to describe it}. I generally start with one of 2 things- a color palette or fabric bundle that I want to turn into something, or a pattern idea that I want to make. I could go on for days about where I get inspiration for both, but the short answer is it usually just hits. For example, this quilt above. I wanted to make a simple patchwork. I have been working on a mini quilt for a swap I am participating in and since I don't usually do super well with following a pattern, this one was leaving me mentally exhausted- mostly because I decided to alter the pattern which meant math and angles, all the things that are not very fun for me. (You can see the mini in the picture below). 

I needed something I knew I could do, and do well,  without making me wrinkly and stressed. Also, I will never tire of simple patchwork quilts. I feel like they are vintagey in their classic appeal, but the patterns of the fabric and the color schemes gives you freedom to turn them into more. 

So I started grabbing fabrics. When I make a quilt around a design/pattern first, choosing fabric comes second. I started with just whites and grays and blues, and 2 squares of that dusty rose you see in the top row and in the middle. As I was cutting I realized I wanted to play off that a little more and added in a brighter pink and a soft pink (the pearl bracelet fabric). I threw in the lavender just because. 

I like to lay out my blocks to make sure that no like blocks are touching each other and try and balance color and pattern, but sometimes I just grab and sew. -- my husband is working on a design wall for me and I know this will be super helpful so I am not laying things on the floor and constantly bending down to grab them or hollering at the kids not to walk across my squares ;)--

I don't usually choose a backing or a binding until I am all done. I wanted to back this with minky but the ones I had on hand weren't big enough and I didn't want to cut this down. My husband has been urging me to make throw sized quilts instead of just baby quilts, and this one was measuring 48 by about 60. (59 3/4 inches, to be exact). So I ended up piecing the back in a stripe pattern, and I love it. It's funny how it happens that my plan B tends to make me happier than I think plan A would have. 

I am sure it would be so much more helpful if I was to say that I develop a plan and draw it out and have each fabric chosen and ready to go before I ever sit down. That isn't how my brain works, though. I think I need to see things as they are starting to take shape and then develop from there. 

I just finished a quilt-as-you-go style of quilt last week, and that method also really lends itself to grabbing and piecing as you go. For me, it feels a lot more open and creative for me when I allow myself to have freedom as i move throughout the process of making a quilt.

For the quilt pictured above and below, I decided to do just make each block as I chose. For this one, I knew I wanted pinks and blues with little touches of yellow. I did sort of adjust as I went to incorporate different shades of blue....I originally only wanted aqua but then used the brighter, darker mushroom print and thought I should incorporate some teal-ish blue, as well, to tie it together. 

That is the beauty of creating, and it took me a long time to grasp this one simple concept-- there aren't any rules, and you can't really be WRONG about how you create. When I started quilting, I think I got hung up on how you are supposed to do it. And for me, it put me off. It's not super fun to start a creative venture when you are worried about breaking rules before you ever even start. My Aunt Polly told me on more than one occasion that whatever I did wasn't going to be wrong because it was my creation. ....and, gosh forbid, if you don't like something or make a mistake in piecing, that is why God created the seam ripper ;) 

So, there you have it friends. Or should I say, Jeremiah. Actually, I don't even know if my husband even reads my blog anymore. haha. That's pretty pitiful.  

Happy Wednesday, friends!  

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