be our guest

Be Our Guest: Melissa from Lilac Lane

Hello everyone! I’m thrilled to be here today on the Fat Quarterly blog! I’m Melissa from Lilac Lane. Here’s what you should know about me: I’m a do-it-yourselfer, whether that means painting the walls, designing some artwork, arranging flowers, even woodworking. I’ve been sewing since I was at least 7, some hand sewing even before that. As a child, I didn’t care much for sewing AT ALL, especially not garment sewing, but now that I have kids, it’s pretty natural for me to become so involved in it. I love that I can make outfits truly one of a kind for them.

I also love quilting, and made my first quilt at age 10. I made at least one quilt a year throughout high school and college, but never had a formal lesson. I somehow had the notion that a class would stifle my creativity. As a newlywed, I finally decided I would take a class, and it opened a whole new world of possibilities to me!

When I decided I wanted to be a fabric designer, more than two years ago, I thought I had better ease into the business a little bit. So I started with pattern designing, since that was more familiar territory for me. I feel like I got my “big break” with Moda Bake Shop and have several tutorials there. I now have my own pattern line published by QuiltWoman.com.  I have just signed with Andover Fabrics and am hoping that my first fabric line will be out in time for fall market, but it’s always hard to say in the fabric industry.

Spread your joy with the Joy bag. This is the perfect bag for every day or for a night on the town. Have fun learning to make pleats! Choose from two sizes and with or without a stripe. You can even mix it up and choose three or four colors. Then you’re ready to get started. It also makes a quick gift for a favorite friend.

Skill level: Advanced Beginner

Don’t you love all the efforts to go green these days? And yet, most reusable grocery bags look nothing like the original. I’m talking the traditional, tried and true, foldable paper bag. Recycle some fabrics from your stash to make a stylish statement while shopping with Bountiful. It also includes Lunch Bag and Gift Bag instructions.

Skill level: Beginner

I’m giving away a copy of each pattern. Just leave a comment below. Or visit QuiltWoman.com to buy the pattern as either a traditional paper copy or an instant downloadable copy.

Thanks so much for featuring me today. Come over and visit Lilac Lane where I have lots of tutorials and even more giveaways.

Love,

xoxo

Thanks, Melissa!  We’ll draw a winner for the two patterns next Wednesday, May 11th.

- The FQ Team

Be Our Guest: The Sometimes Crafter

Christina is a long arm quilter and pattern designer who loves everything crafty. As a stay-at-home-mom she fills her day trying to sew around a busy two-year-old’s demands. She shares her adventures on her blog The Sometimes Crafter – www.sometimescrafter.blogspot.com

Cross-Stitching on Linen

Thanks to the beautiful patterns by The Frosted Pumpkin my love of cross-stitch has been renewed. For a few years now I’ve seen some small pattern companies pop up in local shops with new cross-stitch designs, but found while cute, they weren’t really to my taste. Then along came Amanda and Ashley with their adorable patterns! I found myself digging through bins in the garage searching for all of my old supplies and getting to work on their Toast BFF’s pattern and was once again hooked. Then I began thinking about how to expand beyond stitching on Aida cloth (the cross-stitch fabric with holes all in a grid) yet still keep my stitches even and neat. Remembering a technique I saw in a Japanese craft book a few years ago, I decided to give it a try. That is what I would like to share with you today!

I realize there may be many of you that have not tried cross-stitching yet, but I assure you it is very easy. You will need just a few supplies: your pattern, Aida cloth, floss in your desired colors and a cross-stitch/tapestry needle. Cross-stitch/tapestry needles have a blunted end and can make for a better looking stitch. You may find if you are using a needle with a sharp end (like an embroidery needle) that your needle will split the strands of floss as you go up or down through your material where floss has already been stitched, where as the tapestry needle with help to slide next to the strands of floss instead. If you find yourself unhappy with how your stitches look, and you are using an embroidery needle, try switching to a tapestry needle.

Next, you need to know about the basic stitch. Patterns are made up of little x’s to form the overall design. The most important part of cross-stitching is to stitch your x’s all in the same direction. When I’m stitching I like to start off by going from the bottom left corner to the top right, and then coming back over that stitch from the bottom right to top left. If I have a row of the same color, I stitch all of the first part of my x’s (bottom left to top right) first and then come back and complete them all. Why do I do it this way? Because this is how I was taught. You should of course do whatever you are most comfortable with. You can find all sorts of videos and tutorials around the web should you like more detailed explanations.

With a brief overview of the basics out of the way, let’s get to the fun part. I begin by placing my fabric I want the stitching to be on (linen in this case) inside my embroidery hoop. Next I cut a piece of Aida cloth to the right size and stitch it down to the fabric in the hoop with a single strand of floss. I make it something I can easily see, and use it as my center grid to help me begin stitching my pattern. Next I get to work stitching the design, one color at a time.

After the pattern is stitched, I remove the fabric from the hoop and trim away the majority of the excess Aida cloth. Then I begin to pull out the strands of Aida cloth, a few strands at a time. I find if I pull out the strands all in one direction first, it makes removing the strands in the opposite direction quick and easy. When that is complete I like to give the cloth a quick steam press on the back side to help the thread shrink up a little. If I find that some of my stitches are a little loose, I might use my needle on the backside to snug them up. I insert my needle under the bit of floss that is connected to the x, and gently lift if up. I find this technique of removing the Aida cloth is best done on a smaller design and I also try and keep my tension pretty tight as I am initially stitching the pattern.
I find cross-stitching to be very relaxing and loving thinking of new ways to incorporate it into my sewing. Thank you to the Fat Quarterly bunch for having me here in this space and happy stitching to all of you!
By |April 23rd, 2011|be our guest|11 Comments

Be Our Guest: Molly Flanders

When I was approached by Fat Quarterly to be a guest blogger I was stumped on what I would write that would be new to the quilting world. I am not a novice to quilting, though in this age of Twitter, Blogs, Facebook and now Pinterest….I am but a babe. So please, humor me as I blog about my love of quilting in 2011. Quilting on the WEB.

I spend much more time than I would like to admit perusing the quilting blogs; however, this is not a completely mindless task without any redeeming value. You see, I began quilting over 20 years ago, long before we owned a personal computer so any quilting information I was able to glean came from books, family, quilting guilds and an occasional quilting show on PBS.

In retrospect this was not such a bad way to learn to quilt, but having Flickr, blogs and groups to provide inspiration certainly has its advantages. Via the Internet, enthusiasts can view images of Modern Quilting and join Virtual Bees. The best part of being a quilter at this moment in time is the ability to instantly share and display projects thereby inspiring other quilters along their journey.

We all know the joy of attending a quilt show and nothing can replace taking in the design and detail in person, but a virtual quilt festival allows us to view a quilt in Australia while, at the same time, marveling at a quilt in Ohio. Anyone can be a participant, whether this is a first quilt or an award winning creation. Several quilt festivals can be found on the Internet such as The Blogger’s Quilt Festival sponsored by Amy of Amy’s Creative Side, http://amyscreativeside.com/

Social media has opened up possibilities in quilting that would have taken months if not years to take root in a by-gone era. My favorite discovery, bar none, is the fresh approach to hand quilting. No longer are we restricted to marking quilt tops and stacking stitches on micro – needles. Instead, we can enjoy the variety of color in perle cotton and making fun big stitches that add so much charm to any quilt. The increasing interest in hand quilting with perle cotton has taken off with images being shared world – wide through groups dedicated to just this form of stitching.

With internet access, not only can I assist a fellow quilter (or ask for assistance) in choosing the right needle, weight of thread or design ideas via a social network, but I can also post a tutorial on my blog to reinforce techniques taught in class. In turn, my students can access that information complete with pictures any time day or night.

Fabric selection and fabric lines are accessible to everyone with the advent of online shops. Their advertisements frequently dot the pages of blogs, but still my heart remains true to my favorite local fabric shop. Nothing can replace the warmth of my shop and the personal relationships I have developed there. Fabric was meant to be seen and touched, but if I can’t find that special out-of-print fabric, you can bet I will be scouring the net for that lucky score.

Quilting has always been a social activity whether women were gathered around a frame piecing, quilting and sharing life stories or in a guild teaching and learning from more seasoned quilters. Most importantly quilting is a family affair as mothers, daughters and grandmothers pass on the blocks handed down through the generations.

Today we share, inspire, motivate and teach each other in a much more global way. It is an exciting time to be a quilter and a wonderful time to be learning to quilt. The ideas are abundant and help is easy to access. So grab your PC and your quilting hoop, as two very different worlds collide, one steeped in tradition and tempered by time and one full of the innovation and vision of the modern age. Each working together to link the world of quilters; and you are the beneficiary.

Bio: Mary Dugan of Molly Flanders resides in Columbus, Ohio with her husband, three daughters (Molly, Maggie and Mary) and one mutt named Flanders. She began sewing as a young girl with her grandmother, mother and sister, but became serious about learning to quilt as a young woman. Mary has a degree in education with an emphasis in art. She began quilting after “retiring” from her position as an elementary teacher – choosing to be a stay-at-home mom. Now Mary enjoys teaching quilting and creative classes at Sew To Speak in Columbus, Ohio.

WEBSITE…. www.mollyflanders.blogspot.com

By |April 19th, 2011|be our guest|8 Comments

Be Our Guest: Molly Deschenes

After having lived in places such as Budapest and Berlin, Molly Deschenes returned to the US to settle down in small-town New England with the love of her life and her sewing machine. She chronicles her sewing adventures, and provides a window into the handmade life she shares with her husband and two small children, at applecyder.wordpress.com.

Molly has written a wonderful tutorial to share with FQ readers for her Colorful Strip Pieced Quilt.

Download Molly’s tutorial here:

(NOTE: thanks to Fat Quarterly reader Julie Frick for the following tip regarding Molly’s tutorial: “A bit of advice I’d give to newbies regarding this pattern is that when Molly says to “detach” a square she does NOT mean to cut it with a rotary cutter. You’d lose fabric that way and your seams would not match up. Use your seam ripper and gently pick out those stitches!” Thanks, Julie!)

I was honored to be invited to guest blog at Fat Quarterly and thought it might be fun to present a pattern for a quilt top that I have been wanting to share for a while now. I love quilts of all shapes, sizes and designs but the ones that continue to have the most appeal to me are quilts that are made with basic squares. I don’t know exactly what it is about the square that I find so endearing. I really do find great beauty in it’s simplicity.

This quilt top pattern employs a strip piecing method that allows you to create a visually interesting design in a fairly short amount of time. I’m not going to provide an explanation of strip piecing here, but if you glance at the first two pages of this pattern, you should come to understand the method fairly quickly. Color selection plays a fairly important role in the design of this quilt. My advice is to make sure that you are not using any two colors that are too similar. If you plan to use white as your background color like I did, be wary of lighter colors like yellow. They may get “lost” in all of that white. This quilt could also look fantastic using prints in place of the varied solid colors. Again, you just want to ensure that you have a wide range of color and that you aren’t using prints that are similar to your solid background fabric choice. If you are a very careful planner and are familiar with even just a basic software program like Excel, you could test out your color choices on the computer screen before cutting into fabric. I find this step to be very helpful for a quilt like this one.

The finished dimensions of this quilt top are 48 x 63 inches. Of course, if you would like to create a larger or smaller quilt, you would just adjust the width of your strips. For example, the same quilt made with 4 inch finished squares would use strips that are 4 1/2 inches wide. This would result in a finished top that is 64 x 84 inches in size and that would be more suitable for a twin bed. The sample I made to test this pattern has 1/2 inch finished squares and was gifted to my daughter on her birthday as a doll quilt. The patchwork part of the quilt top, without the white sashing, measures 8×10 1/2 inches. (I don’t recommend that beginners attempt something this small in scale. All of the seam allowances can be frustrating!) Math is a beautiful thing. Just play around with the dimensions until you decide on a size that best suits your needs. Alternatively, you can simply follow the pattern verbatim and create a nice lap-sized quilt.

I hope that Fat Quarterly readers have fun with this quilt pattern. I am always very grateful for the many free patterns and tutorials that generous bloggers offer, so I am especially appreciative of this opportunity to share my design with a wider audience. Please be in touch with me via my blog, apple cyder , if you have any questions about the pattern. Thanks again for hosting me at Fat Quarterly.

By |April 9th, 2011|be our guest|16 Comments

Be Our Guest: Aunty Cookie

Today’s guest blogger is Australian fabric designer, Aunty Cookie. Shannon is going to be talking to us about her design process.

The way I tackle designing fabric is exactly the same I tackle any work I do. Fast, slap dash and often rushed between kids sleeps. Some ideas come pretty quick and its just a matter of me sitting at the computer and whipping it out – other ideas may fester for months before I actual get a chance to sit down and let it out. But honestly, most of the time I take the idea straight to the computer rather than sketching, doodling, whatever designers are meant to do to develop a pattern to the point they are satisfied it is ready.

My ‘Cheater’ fabric was a festering idea. I knew I wanted to make a cheater panel, I knew I wanted to include elements of multiple crafts – embroidery, crochet, knitting, patchwork. And maybe chuck in bit of typography to spice it up & connect it to my other fabrics. I use flickr as my main site of sourcing visuals these days. By typing on a few keywords I can fill my inspiration boards with tonnes of pictures – and it was this that that really pushed this cheater print to completion. Looking back it seems fitting that this design for crafters is inspired by the crafters themselves, by the awesome stuff they whip up.

I always design in black and white. Its only once its finished that I play around with print colours. But obviously I’m a one colour print girl. All my fabrics are hand printed by local screen printers – each screen they make costs money, hence the sticking to one screen. And to just justifying my tightass’edness for printing one colour, I shall say that I don’t see that printing this way is a disadvantage at all- I mean Id be lying to say I wouldn’t like to work in full colour – but one colour prints match in nicely with other ranges, mine or others. People can add it into their stashes and blend it with other ranges. With one colour there is no pressure to buy a whole range of fabrics just to make it co-ordinate, because really – what matches in my eyes in terms of colour & print ain’t always what matches in yours, right?

Cheater print can be purchased from www.auntycookie.etsy.com

Inspiration images can seen http://www.flickr.com/photos/auntycookie/favorites/

By |March 22nd, 2011|be our guest|1 Comment

Be our Guest – Rachel of do. Good Stitches

Rachel has joined us today to tell us a little about herself and to chat about her inspiring quilting bee, ‘do. Good Stitches’. Welcome Rachel

Hello, I’m Rachel & I LOVE to sew, embroider and crochet with lots and lots of color. You’ll find I’m always stitching something lively from home decor to quilts, and a bit of kid stuff too. But it hasn’t always been this way – I learned to sew summer of 2009 and didn’t start sewing with a passion until last year.

Sewing is to me a privilege (oh, the fabrics!), a rejuvenating hobby and a way to benefit children in poverty. At my blog, Stitched in Color, I’m currently hosting Blogger’s Pillow Party, a social event and contest with quite honorable judges.
I’m mother of two little ones that keep me busy, but not too busy for nighttime creating. I have two web stores (here and here) and we homeschool too. Phew! It sounds more exhausting than it is.

Actually, life is wonderful – sweet, beautiful and changing everyday. A big “thanks!” to all the inspiring bloggers who share this friendly space with me!

If there’s anything more fun than sewing, it’s sewing with friends. And that’s why we’re here – on blogs, on Flickr, in Swaps, in bees. All the joy of creating x community = big love. So, naturally, by the time I had stitched the binding on my first quilt, spring of 2010, the quilting bees were tempting me something awful. But something stopped me.

Fact is, I don’t need many quilts for our house. There’s just this bed, that bed and the other. I refuse to own stacks of quilts, however wonderful, that aren’t being loved and used.
And, then there was this other dream – to do some good with my love for fabric and thread. To help others. Make quilts for people who actually need them. Children that don’t have quilting mamas, or aunts, or grandmothers. A quilting bee for charity would be perfect!

But, I couldn’t find one. So, I made one. It’s called do. Good Stitches. 9 talented ladies joined me in our first sewing circle called “Love” which makes quilts to be distributed to needy children through Wrap Them in Love. This Red & Aqua Sampler Quilt was our first completed quilt. It was my pleasure to plan, piece and finish it. In the process I learned that differing shades of aqua only enhanced the quilt, that finding bee blocks in the mail for weeks is completely enchanting, and that there are a LOT of people who want to get involved doing some good!

Now, 4 months after that first finished quilt, I am so amazed with how do. Good Stitches has grown. I am thankful for each one who has joined in to give of time and fabric to do this work. It’s been such fun to get to know each other and to be stretched in new experiences of pattern and color. We have grown to a total of six sewing circles. With each circle making one quilt per month for a variety of charities, that’s a lot of people we will be blessing in 2011!

Here are a few of the quilts that have been completed so far:

Quilted by Ara Jane for the Love Circle(image source)

Quilted by Jennifer for the Love Circle
(image source)


Quilted by Jeni for the Hope Circle
(image source)
Please visit our Flickr group to learn how our bee works. You can fill out the New Members Form if you’d like to join the waiting list. We’re looking for modern quilters who enjoy being active on Flickr. There are two levels of participation, so even if you’re somewhat new to quilting, we welcome you to get involved!

Thanks so much for being our guest today Rachel!

Would you like to ‘Be Our Guest..’ ? Do you have a community project to share, a tutorial perhaps or something fun to tell us about that has a handmade focus? Drop us a line at submissions@fatquarterly.com

By |March 17th, 2011|be our guest|0 Comments

Be Our Guest: Freshly Pieced

Today we are lucky enough to have the Lee from Freshly Pieced! Lee is a mother of two and a graphic designer from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She blogs at http://freshlypieced.blogspot.com

“Hi there, I’m Lee from Freshly Pieced. I’m so excited to be guest blogging for Fat Quarterly today?thank you, Kate, for asking me to be a part of this. I’ve got a fun project today for all of you who are trying to beat the winter blahs (I know I am). So how about a pillow with a cheerful, wonky sun? It whips up quickly and easily with a wedge ruler – no paper-piecing or curved piecing required!

Sunshine Pillow: Trying to beat the winter blahs? How about a pillow with a cheerful, wonky little sun? It whips up quickly and easily with a wedge ruler?no paper-piecing required!

You will need:
- a 30-degree wedge ruler, such as the Fat Cats ruler by Darlene Zimmerman
- bright-colored scraps for sun rays and center
- approx. 1/2 yard of light blue solid for background
- approx. 1/8 yard of orange print for border
- 1/2 yard for pillow back
- 18″ pillow form

1. From your bright scraps,
cut 12 strips
, about 2″ x 6″. No need to be exact?wonkiness is good here! These will be the rays of your sun, so cut them a little wider on top, narrower on the bottom. From your solid blue background fabric, cut 14 strips, 3″ x 6″.

2. Sew the strips together into one long piece, alternating between the light blue solid and the bright scrappy strips. Start and end with a light blue strip. Be sure to alternate the direction of the rays as you sew, so the narrow end is on top, then on the bottom, then on the top, and so on (see photo above). But don’t worry about the order of your rays, or whether the finished piece is straight, none of that will matter in the next step!




3. Using your wedge ruler, cut 12 wedges from your pieced strips. To cut your first wedge, center the ruler over one of the rays, with the narrow end of the ruler over the narrow end of the ray, as shown. Again, no need to be exact. To cut the next strip, turn the ruler 180 degrees and center it over the next scrappy ray. When all of your wedges are cut, trim six of the wedges to 4.5″ long, and the other six wedges to 5″ long.




4. From your light blue solid, cut a strip 5″ by about 36″. From that strip, cut 6 more wedge pieces.
These wedges will start at the 4″ mark on the ruler and extend to the 9″ mark (see photo).




5. Sew these wedge pieces onto the 4.5″ ray pieces, end to end, to create a complete wedge that is 9″ long.





6. Cut another strip from your light blue solid, this time 4.5″ by about 36″. From that strip, cut another 6 wedge pieces, just as you did in step 4 – except that this time, the wedges will start at the 4.5″ mark on the ruler, extending to the 9″ mark. Sew these wedge pieces onto the 5″ ray pieces, end to end, just as you did in step 5. You will now have a total of 12 wedges that are 9″ long.

7. Sew your wedges together into a circle measuring a little more than 20″ across. I sewed the wedges together in groups of three, creating quarter-circles, then sewed the quarters together. Press your seams out.




8. Trim your pieced circle to a 14.5″ square. To do this, fold the circle in half and press, then fold in half again and press. Use these press marks as center points as you square up. You will cut off quite a bit of excess at the sides, but very little at the corners of the square.

9. Cut a 4″ circle from your remaining scraps, and applique it on for the sun’s center. There are many ways you could applique your center – I used the method described in this tutorial (http://sewmamasew.com/blog2/?p=6713) by Elizabeth Hartman on Sew Mama Sew.

10. Cut four 2.5″ strips at least 18″ long from your orange border print. Sew a strip onto each side of your sun block.

9. You now have a completed pillow top. I hand-quilted mine using white Perle cotton. I used this tutorial from Cluck Cluck Sew (http://www.cluckclucksew.com/2009/10/tutorial-scrap-buster-fall-pillow.html) to make a simple envelope closure for the back of the pillow.

That’s it – enjoy it until the real sun comes out again!”

By |February 24th, 2011|be our guest|6 Comments

Be Our Guest: Freshly Pieced

Were you inspired by our Amazing Orange mosaic earlier this week? Well, today we are lucky enough to have Lee from Freshly Pieced join us as a guest blogger, and she’s bringing a fun & bright project idea for you all (featuring orange, of course).

Have you visited Lee’s site yet? She is an amazing quilter, a mother of two, and a graphic designer from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She blogs at http://freshlypieced.blogspot.com

Please join us in welcoming Lee to the Fat Quarterly blog today.

Hi there, I’m Lee from Freshly Pieced. I’m so excited to be guest blogging for Fat Quarterly today. I’ve got a fun project for all of you who are trying to beat the winter blahs (I know I am). So how about a pillow with a cheerful, wonky sun? It whips up quickly and easily with a wedge ruler?no paper-piecing or curved piecing required!

Sunshine Pillow: Trying to beat the winter blahs? How about a pillow with a cheerful, wonky little sun? It whips up quickly and easily with a wedge ruler?no paper-piecing required!

You will need:
- a 30-degree wedge ruler, such as the Fat Cats ruler by Darlene Zimmerman
- bright-colored scraps for sun rays and center
- approx. 1/2 yard of light blue solid for background
- approx. 1/8 yard of orange print for border
- 1/2 yard for pillow back
- 18″ pillow form

1. From your bright scraps, cut 12 strips, about 2″ x 6″. No need to be exact?wonkiness is good here! These will be the rays of your sun, so cut them a little wider on top, narrower on the bottom. From your solid blue background fabric, cut 14 strips, 3″ x 6″.

2. Sew the strips together into one long piece, alternating between the light blue solid and the bright scrappy strips. Start and end with a light blue strip. Be sure to alternate the direction of the rays as you sew, so the narrow end is on top, then on the bottom, then on the top, and so on (see photo above). But don’t worry about the order of your rays, or whether the finished piece is straight?none of that will matter in the next step!

3. Using your wedge ruler, cut 12 wedges from your pieced strips. To cut your first wedge, center the ruler over one of the rays, with the narrow end of the ruler over the narrow end of the ray, as shown. Again, no need to be exact. To cut the next strip, turn the ruler 180 degrees and center it over the next scrappy ray. When all of your wedges are cut, trim six of the wedges to 4.5″ long, and the other six wedges to 5″ long.


4. From your light blue solid, cut a strip 5″ by about 36″. From that strip, cut 6 more wedge pieces. These wedges will start at the 4″ mark on the ruler and extend to the 9″ mark (see photo).

5. Sew these wedge pieces onto the 4.5″ ray pieces, end to end, to create a complete wedge that is 9″ long.

6. Cut another strip from your light blue solid, this time 4.5″ by about 36″. From that strip, cut another 6 wedge pieces, just as you did in step 4? except that this time, the wedges will start at the 4.5″ mark on the ruler, extending to the 9″ mark. Sew these wedge pieces onto the 5″ ray pieces, end to end, just as you did in step 5. You will now have a total of 12 wedges that are 9″ long.

5. Sew your wedges together into a circle measuring a little more than 20″ across. I sewed the wedges together in groups of three, creating quarter-circles, then sewed the quarters together. Press your seams out.

6. Trim your pieced circle to a 14.5″ square. To do this, fold the circle in half and press, then fold in half again and press. Use these press marks as center points as you square up. You will cut off quite a bit of excess at the sides, but very little at the corners of the square.

7. Cut a 4″ circle from your remaining scraps, and applique it on for the sun’s center. There are many ways you could applique your center?I used the method described in this tutorial (http://sewmamasew.com/blog2/?p=6713) by Elizabeth Hartman on Sew Mama Sew.

8. Cut four 2.5″ strips at least 18″ long from your orange border print. Sew a strip onto each side of your sun block.

9. You now have a completed pillow top. I hand-quilted mine using white Perle cotton. I used this tutorial from Cluck Cluck Sew (http://www.cluckclucksew.com/2009/10/tutorial-scrap-buster-fall-pillow.html) to make a simple envelope closure for the back of the pillow.

That’s it?enjoy it until the real sun comes out again!

By |February 24th, 2011|be our guest|16 Comments

Be Our Guest: Peppermint Pinwheels

Over the coming weeks we will be hearing from crafters in our ‘Be Our Guest’ series. We hope you find their stories and crafts as inspiring as we do!

If you are interested in appearing on the Fat Quarterly site or in an issue of Fat Quarterly, drop us a note at submissions@fatquarterly.com

First up is Stacey who creates some of the most striking quilts around. Stacey’s quilts have a traditional focus but the finished product is far from traditional. You can read all about Stacey’s quilting adventures at her blog, ‘On The Design Wall’

Fearless Quilting
by Stacey Sharman

I am afraid of many things – cockroaches, things that might be living under my bed, a world without bubbly beverages – but somehow, I have never been afraid of quilting.  I would never even know such a thing existed, except that I hear and read about it often when people talk about quilting.  They’re afraid of choosing fabrics, taking on a new technique or pattern, the level of commitment it takes, and most of all, I think they’re afraid of putting vast amounts of love and time into making something that will be judged and found lacking.

To those people, the quilters that are afraid, I say, “Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be a fearless quilter?”  I think, quilters often like to have rules to follow, so I’ve come up with a few do’s and don’ts to help you become a quilter who’s not afraid to break the rules.

The DO’s

1. You can’t go wrong with colors and fabrics you love.  Value really is one of the most important aspects of having an interesting quilt, so pair the fabrics you adore with fabrics of a different value (light, medium, dark) and don’t be afraid to throw in a touch of something wild.

2. Steam and starch are your friends.  If my piecing must be exact, I douse my fabric in spray starch.  This makes the fabric hold its shape better which helps me to cut more exact shapes and sew them together with better accuracy.  And, if I’m doing improvisational piecing, there’s nothing like a good steam to make my fabrics obey and lay flat.

3. Finish what you start in a timely manner.  If you don’t like it much now, you’ll really hate it in a year and you’ll never finish it.  And it’s quite possible that while you’ve outgrown your project, someone else you know would love to have it.  As the sign says in one of my favorite quilt shops, “A finished quilt is better than a perfect one.”

4. Be brave!  If you hate it, don’t be afraid to do something about it.  Cut it up, twist it around, sew it back together.  Is it better yet?  No?  Cut it in half and piece something through the middle of it.  Still hate it?  Put it in the scrap bag and use it in a different project.

5. If matching points matters to you, baste your seams and check your points before actually sewing the seam.  That way, if you got it wrong, it’s a lot easier to rip apart those big stitches and redo it.  If they don’t match after a couple of tries, perhaps it’s not meant to be!

6. Do it again. Practice really does make perfect.  And let’s face it, we’re dealing with fabric here and we know where to get more of it!

7.Do ask for advice and critique, but, if the sensitive artist in you is fragile, only ask trusted sources.  Also, don’t ask “does my butt look fat in this?” kinds of questions.  Don’t point out the things that bother you.  Wait and see if they even notice, because chances are, they won?t!

The DON’Ts
1. Don’t think about it too hard.  I find that my first choice is often the best choice.  If you look at something for too long, you begin to lose perspective.  If you really are having a hard time making up your mind, it’s time to walk away and do something else for the afternoon.

2. Don’t be afraid to go “off the grid.”  Sometimes it’s fun to cut without rulers.  Improvisational quilting is an excellent way to play with color and pattern, and rulers are not required.

3.Don’t be intimidated by anyone or anything!  You can do it!  Maybe it wouldn?t be the way someone else would do it or with the colors or fabrics someone else would use, but that is what makes your quilt special.  It’s all you!

I also just want to throw in a few tips that I wish someone had told me when I first started sewing. 

 *To begin sewing a seam, sew over a little scrap of fabric and then up onto the seam you want to sew together (without cutting the thread in between).  This will keep the edge of your fabric from getting eaten by your sewing machine or creating a bird?s nest made of thread on the back of your fabric.  Some quilters call this little scrap of fabric a “piggy,” while other’s call it a “chicken.”

*It really is worth it to buy the best sewing machine you can possibly afford.  I went through at least 6 or 7 sewing machines before getting my Bernina 130 (the love of my life!).  My enjoyment in the process of sewing went from a 3 to a 10 the day my new machine came home with me and it’s been wonderful ever since.

* No one sews in a perfectly straight line.  Just do your best, try to keep you seam allowances the same width.  It also helps to iron the seams flat, before you press them open or to the side.

 Bio: Stacey Sharman has been quilting fearlessly since the mid-1990′s when she made her first hand-pieced pinwheel block in a college textiles class.  She opened her quilt company, Peppermint Pinwheels in September, 2009 and has used that as an excuse to sew obsessively ever since.  You can find out more about her and her quilts in the following places:

Website: www.peppermintpinwheels.com

Blog: www.onthedesignwall.blogspot.com

Flickr: www.flickr.com/peppermintpinwheels

By |February 10th, 2011|be our guest|16 Comments

Be Our Guest: Noodlehead Sews

Hi everyone, it’s me, Anna, from noodlehead.  I was very honored that Kate asked me to guest blog today.  If you can’t tell, I’m already in the valentines day mode, so here’s what I’m sharing:

It’s a fun little valentine that should be pretty appropriate for a wide variety of ages.  I think this would be an awesome project to start with for a child who’s just learning to sew.  What could be more fun than making your own valentines, right?!
Materials:
  • vellum
  • white cardstock
  • sewing machine, white thread, old sewing machine needle (used only for sewing on paper)
  • m&m’s
  • color printer
Print the two downloadable sheets available here and here, they’ll print off 6 to a page.  For the side with ‘love mail’ printed, I chose to use vellum paper.  You certainly wouldn’t have to use vellum (available in packs in the scrapbooking isle at Hobby Lobby or Michaels – don’t forget your coupon), instead just use regular 20# printer paper – you just won’t be able to get that cool translucent look like the vellum does.  A little tip about printing on vellum: you’ll want to give your sheets plenty of time to dry before cutting and sewing them up.  For the to/from side, I simply printed that on white cardstock.
Cut apart the valentines (there are 6 printed to a page).  Have your child address the valentine’s to/from parts.  It’s easier to do this now rather than try to write on them after you sew them together with the candies inside. 
Place one front piece and one back piece together. 
Sew around edges using a longer stitch length, mine was set to 3.0, but it could be different on your particular machine.  It’ll just take you less time with a long stitch. 
When you get to the last side to sew, stop with your needle in the down position and wiggle your finger into the opening of the two papers and insert your m&ms!  (You for sure will want to wash your hands before doing this step or just use latex gloves.) 
Once you’ve tucked in about 20 candies, scoot them back away from the opening, squeeze the two papers together with your fingers and finish by sewing the last side shut!  No need to backstitch, just clip your threads and you’re set. 
By |February 3rd, 2011|be our guest|12 Comments