Monday, October 30, 2017

A Hearty Recommendation

I was watching the QuiltCon 2013 (first QuiltCon?) lectures on Craftsy again, and I was suddenly reminded of what a breakthrough this lecture series was for me. I had to share it here, because if you haven't seen it yet ... it's totally worth the time! And it's free. I'm not affiliated with Craftsy at all, so this is just my personal, honest opinion. It's one of my favorite "classes" on Craftsy.

All of the lectures are great, but here are the ones I watch over and over again:

David Butler on Homemade Lifestyle Photography

This lecture led to better quilt photos for me. Period. I honestly had no idea about light, shadows, temperature, composition, and staging before that. I used to take photos of my quilts at night (because that's when I usually finish them), with some yellow lightbulb light. No joke. They turned out awful, and I never knew why! After watching this lecture, I noticed an immediate improvement in my quilt photos.

Angela Walters on Modern Machine Quilting

Before this lecture ... I had actually never heard of Angela Walters. I was still fairly new to quilting when I first watched this, and Angela's lecture was my first real introduction to modern machine quilting, and I fell head over heels in love with machine quilting ... and of course, Angela herself! She gives really great tips about how to pick designs, how to highlight, how to combine, and I found myself laughing a lot because, of course, she's also hilarious! This is one of my favorite lectures, and the Q & A that followed is gold.

Mary Fons on Notes From a Quilt Mafia Daughter

Mary Fons is the daughter of Marianne Fons, of Fons & Porter, one of the biggest names in quilting. In this engaging, funny, and touching lecture, Mary explores her past and along the way, quilting history in America in general. I'm really not much of a history person, but Mary made it fun and interesting! One of my favorite things about Mary is that she's so genuine. I've since met her in person and she's just as nice and energetic as she seems on TV and in this lecture.

Jacquie Gering on Quilting Modern, Honoring Tradition

If Mary's lecture is on quilting history in America, then Jacquie's lecture feels like history of modern quilting. While that's not what it's actually about, you get a heavy dosage of that, and it's so interesting! Along the way, I was genuinely moved by Jacquie's amazing style, her genuineness, and her desire to make quilts do more than just cover the bed. Her quilts are beautiful and so creative, and she's really funny!


And that's not all! There's also Amy Butler on color story, Heather Jones on the process of turning inspiration into quilts, and even a panel that talks about fabric design.

I admit when I first saw this class on Craftsy, I thought to myself, They have lectures for quilts?? But yes, they do, and the lectures are excellent. I wish Craftsy could have taped more from the following years. I would have paid for it!

Friday, October 27, 2017

Starlight Symphony

Awhile ago I finished piecing Starlight Symphony, a beautiful batik paper pieced quilt from season 2 of Angela Walters's wonderful Midnight Quilt Show. And finally, I'm quilting it!

Since I've already seen how Angela quilted hers, and since I love her quilting choices, of course I borrowed heavily from her designs. There's no shame in copying a master!

I love the secondary design that happens between stars! Straight lines combined with free-motion are one of my favorites ways to add contrast.

In the negative space in the center, I had a few ideas in mind. I wanted the middle stars to look like they're sitting atop a bed of ... space bubbles or something. So I quilted a band of pebbles in the center, and gradually changed it into swirls as they reached the outer stars. I also echoed some of the star shapes in that space to add some extra interest.

Taking the quilt off the rollers is one of the most exciting parts of quilting. Since I can't see it all at once when I'm quilting it, the first moment I get the full "reveal", it's quite a feeling! I really love this quilt, as the batiks are gorgeous and the texture is lovely!


Linking up with: Busy Hands Quilts, My Quilt Infatuation, Confessions of a Fabric Addict, Crazy Mom Quilts, and Cooking Up Quilts.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Just the Essentials Bag

After making Print Shop Tote II, I was emboldened by my success and I wanted to make more bags. That's when I saw Craftsy's Waxed Canvas Crossbody Bag class by Mariah McPherson, so I signed up for it.

Although the instructor teaches using waxed canvas, I had a lot of trouble finding the colors I want in waxed canvas. Instead, I used regular old duck canvas, and I went with a purple. This is my first time using canvas, webbing, and my first time using bag hardware, and I really like the aesthetic!

I'm so glad I already have done a few bags, and worked my way up to this point, because this bag would otherwise have been quite challenging. An indispensable tool for making this bag was a seam jumper. It's not something I ever have to use when I'm quilting, but in making bags, when I encounter a particularly thick seam, my feed dogs just stop working and a seam jumper is the only way to get it through. In all the bag-making classes I've taken so far ... I've rarely seen an instructor mention this.

And it's finished! I really like this little bag, it's just so cute. The duck canvas gave the bag a very rugged, outdoorsy look, which is very different from how it would have looked had I used quilting cotton. I absolutely love the metal zipper detail, even if sewing it made me break out in a cold sweat. The inside lining and the pocket lining is where I put some pretty quilting cottons for a splash of color. I'm so glad there was a video tutorial to follow, because my eyes just glaze over when I try to follow paper patterns on bag-making.

This bag is perfect for carrying the essentials, and the color is beautiful. I hope as I make more bags I'd feel more confident, and eventually be able to tackle the Range Backpack by Anna Graham, which is my current pie-in-the-sky bag. Maybe someday! (And I better get over my fear of written patterns in the mean time.)

Friday, October 13, 2017

Introducing Dynamic Patterns!

I just added a Patterns page to my blog, because I finally wrote some patterns! But instead of the normal patterns, I decided to do something fun called dynamic patterns.

What are dynamic patterns? They are patterns generated on the fly based on a few preferences, just for you. That means you can customize the size, colors, and complexity (usually) and get something wholly unique! The idea came about a few months ago when I wrote a half-square triangle generator and I was having so much fun just trying different color combinations and generating patterns. I then decided to actually make a quilt, Haphazard, using that generator. But I thought, there should be a way for me to put this generator on my blog so other people can play with it too.

So here it is ... bright and shiny on the Patterns page, my collection of dynamic patterns. (Alright, I only have 2 at the moment, but I've already got some ideas for new ones to add in the future!)

Each pattern comes with some options, such as picking your colors and the size of your blocks. Then, a pattern will be generated for you, and you can keep generating until you find one you like, and then you can save it.

So, I hope you will go play with it! If you make something using them, I'd love to see it!

Friday, October 6, 2017


Haphazard is a quilt made of half-square triangles laid out randomly, and the fun part of this quilt is that the layout was completely computer generated! I wrote about this process here. After trying tons of parameters and cycling through many variations, I finally just picked one.

The fabric bundle I used is Creative Rockstar by Rad and Happy for Riley Blake Designs. (It was just begging to be made into a quilt with lots of half-square triangles!) I generated the cutting list with the program, so it was easy to just start cutting and piecing. I didn't end up following the pattern to the T, because that would be too much work, and the idea was that it was random. I followed it pretty closely, though, to achieve a similar effect.

I quilted some dot-to-dot designs in the printed fabrics, like starbursts and flowers and such. I love those! They're so fun, and require no marking. (I'm an anti-marker.) But then I thought ... I really needed a feather! So I started throwing in feathers occasionally ... and they are some of my favorite foreground blocks. What can I say ... feathers are always a blast to quilt. In the background space, since it's all white, it's definitely asking for echoes and some really dense fillers.

But a few blocks in, I realized the background was kind of boring. I wasn't particularly happy with it. All the designs look nicely executed, but the overall composition was lacking. So ... I added some straight lines to some of the background sections, and then I was really happy with it!

I used a solid for the back again, and in a quilt like this, the back actually shows quilting even better than the front! I also love the black/white striped binding.

Making this quilt was mostly about the concept (randomly generated) and letting go of control (a little), and to that end, it turned out well!

But wait ... there's more! I had so much fun generating patterns that I had to write a pattern generator for this quilt. you'll find it here. Pick your own colors and generate a random half-square triangle quilt pattern just for you!


Link parties joined: Crazy Mom Quilts, My Quilt Infatuation, Busy Hands Quilts, Confessions of a Fabric Addict, and Cooking Up Quilts.

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