Featured Crafter

12 Days of Ruby Star | Sarah’s Lapkin Tutorial

Fat Quarterly threw down the gauntlet for their 12 days of Ruby Star FQ Designer Challenge and I eagerly picked it up!

I’m Sarah and I blog over at Pings And Needles, and if you know me, you’ll know that I’m a big big Melody Miller fan.

So, the task was to make something easy and quick and possibly festive using Melody Miller‘s two latest lines, ruby star spring and ruby star shining.  I also added some linen and Melody’s first fabric line ruby star rising to the mix.

So, without further ado, I present to you:

… my “Load of Balls Lapkin” tutorial …

The red lightweight linen lapkin above measures 22″ x 17″ finished (there’s no hemming – yay!) Obviously you could just use a FQ of solid per lapkin (22″ x 18″)! but I lost an inch because this linen had a really thick selvedge on one end that I had to rip off to be able to fray …

I don’t think we love our napkins enough. I’m sorry, I can’t call them serviettes because (a) my mum said it was common – she was a terrible snob! and (b) these babies are too big to be anything-ette. They just sit on our laps or tucked into our chins taking everything we drop at em.  Not anymore …

These baubles are padded for extra lap stroky entertainment!

You will need:

fabricApplique: 2″, 3″ & 5″ circles – This is a great scrapbuster project because you could just as easily cut the smaller circles if your pieces are small. Lapkins: 1 FQ per lapkin of solid cotton or linen.

But, if you do use the 5″ circles you get to show off some of Melody’s lovely prints at their best – Don’t you just love the typewriter and clock from the new ruby star shining line?

batting/wadding offcuts - if you just want plain applique without the padding then just leave the batting out of the equation.  You will also need some solid in a grey or gold for the bauble tops.

thread – This was a great opportunity to use some of my old wooden spool cottons which I forage for like they’re truffles, in flea markets … I also used Gutermann topstitch thread, and Aurifil 12wt cotton (dreamy!) – Remember that you’ll need a topstitch needle!

applique fusible bonding – I used Heat’n'Bond lite … I find it stays in one piece better than others.

I really wanted to give my Go! Baby a bit of a workout with this project. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that I would never have thought this up if I hadn’t had something else doing the circle cutting for me. However, I know that there are enough of you out there who are perfectly capable (unlike me) of cutting things out with scissors, so I hope it appeals to both …

I used the machine to cut some old polyester wadding and my Heat n Bond into circles too … I can use the little strips that are left and I think you get a more lasting bond if you bond onto the circles and then onto your lapkin. But that’s just me.

If I were cutting out with scissors I’d probably just bond the fabric and then cut the circles…

I also like that you can still fussy cut with a machine!  It was one of the things I really worried about …

So, first of all you need to sew with your fancy topstitchy thread at least two and a half inches inside the edge all the way round … (see top picture)

Then you can start to fray your fabric!  This is such a great thing to do while watching a movie.  All you need is a pin and some patience!  Don’t get too carried away … stop at least 1″ before the stitching …

Then you are ready to start laying out your festive balls (you could turn these into hot air balloons or just leave them as circles if you want, this doesn’t have to be Christmassy …)

Now is the time to put your batting in under the 3″ and 5″ circles. I really wanted to use up my polyester wadding offcuts, (horrid stuff, you have to watch the iron heat when you applique or they it just turns into interfacing!)

I put a little bit of fusible onto the wadding and stuck that down onto the lapkin first … then I placed the circle on top and bonded the whole thing …

I also experimented by cutting concentric rough circles out of soft bamboo batting and building up more dimension.  This has a much more strokable curve to it.  But takes a little more time.

padded batting_800x457

You will need to cut some little bauble tops out of some pre-bonded fabric and iron them on too:

Then just stitch down, using any thread you like … I used a blanket stitch on my machine, but if this were a slow project I would have hand appliqued with perle cotton.

Next, setting my stitch length to 5.0,
I stitched up from the centre of the bauble top to just within the stitched top border for the hanging thread…

When you have appliqued all your baubles, take the time to pull all the ends through to the back, tie off and trim.

If you use a contrasting colour in your bobbin then you’ll have a double sided napkin!

I think these would be really nice as a quick embroidery project too, leaving out the fabric!

But in this case … using Melody’s fabrics just makes the experience all the lovelier ….

I hope you enjoy making them as much as I did … It’s always a joy to play with Melody’s fabrics … thank you FQ!

Thanks, Sarah!  We absolutely love your Load of Balls … errr, that didn’t sound right.  In any case, this is a great gift idea to whip up in no time!  (In fact, Sarah shared that it took her longer to type out the instructions than it did to make the items.)

You can learn more about Sarah and see her beautiful work on her blog, Pings & Needles.  Be sure to click over and say “hello”!

12 Days of Ruby Star | Kristy’s Round Pincushion

Hi Everyone!  My name’s Kristy Daum and I blog over at St. Louis Folk Victorian.  I’ll be showing you today how to make a Round Pincushion.  Don’t worry, if you don’t have a use for another pincushion, these also make great children’s toys or can even add a small pop of color throughout your home.

I was inspired by this pincushion over at Lily’s Quilts, and when I made one as part of my St. Louis Modern Quilt Guild’s pincushion swap, it was a big hit.

This ball is much like a soccer ball in that it is made from both hexagons (6-sides) and pentagons (5-sides).  When you mix both of these, they come together in a round shape.  If you are not familiar with paper piecing, I would encourage you to Google it as there are several techniques and you’ll find one that works best for you.  I’m not going to show you that process here; but rather what to do with the shapes themselves.

I’ve created a handy template of all the pieces you’ll need to create a ball that measures a little under 4” in diameter.  I do encourage you to print this template off on cardstock.  You can of course pick up these shapes at several online shops as well.  You will need 20 hexagons and 12 pentagons to make one Round Pincushion.

Photo 1: Hexagons & Pentagons


Once you have cut out your shapes, find some fabric scraps that are about a ½” wider on all sides.  I have found that this will make your job a lot easier in the long run and don’t worry about cutting them to match the shape you are covering…squares work wonderfully.

Photo 2: Template & Fabric


Once you have selected all your fabrics, go ahead and start covering those paper shapes using whichever method of Paper Piecing you desire.  Remember, if you are new to Paper Piecing, just put that keyword into Google and you’ll soon have hundreds of tutorials/videos showing you how.

Photo 3: Hexagons Done


I really enjoyed fussy-cutting into Melody Miller’s fabrics.  Don’t you just love that clock face above?

Photo 4: Pentagons Done


I decided to go with plain natural linen for my pentagons to complement; but not distract from the fussy-cutting that I had done with the hexagons.  Before you start hand-sewing the shapes together, it’s a good idea to “set” the shapes gently with an iron.  This will help keep your folds crisp and makes sewing them together a little easier.

Photo 5: Always make a flower


The key to this shape is always remembering that you are trying to make a flower.  1 pentagon surrounded by 5 hexagons.  Now go ahead and start hand-sewing the flower together.  When you are done, it should look like the photo below.

Photo 6: First Flower


You’ll quickly notice that your ball is beginning to take shape, and looks somewhat bowl-like now.  Let’s add some more pentagons and hexagons; paying special attention that your pentagons are always surrounded by 5 hexagons…and yes, your “flowers” will share sides as seen in the photo below.

Photo 7: Taking Shape


When you have all but the last few shapes sewn, you can start removing some of your basting stitches, in order to take out the paper piecing templates.  Before you remove them, just make sure that all 5 or 6 sides (depending on the shape) have been stitched to other shapes.

Being careful not to stretch your ball out of shape, gently turn it right side out and stuff it full of your favorite stuffing.

Photo 8: Nearly Done


I choose to leave the paper inside my last 3 shapes, as it was easier for me to sew the ball closed; but it is entirely up to you.  If you decide to remove the last of the paper pieces, just make sure that the fabric doesn’t lose its shape.  As you can see, these last few seams can be a little tricky; but with practice it will become easier and you’ll learn how to hide your stitches.

Photo 9: Celebrate


The time has now come to clip that last thread and admire your Pincushion/Toy/Home Décor wha-cha-ma-call-it.  I hope you had fun!

Thanks to the team at Fat Quarterly for letting me be a part of this event.

Thanks for kicking us off with such a great tutorial, Kristy!  You can find Kristy at her blog, St. Louis Folk Victorian, where she shares her love of both quilting and old homes.

Be Our Guest: Aubrey’s Grinch Advent Calendar

There’s simply no denying it anymore — we have officially entered the holiday season.  You know what that means: days filled with Muppet Christmas carols, Starbucks Peppermint Mochas, and HOLIDAY SEWING!  Oh wait, is that just me?  Well, even if you’re not into the Muppets or whipped cream-topped hot beverages, I hope that many of you can agree with that last part.  Holiday projects are something many sewists look forward to all year, so to kick off the 2012 season, we’re excited to bring you a fun, free project courtesy of Fat Quarterly contributor Aubrey Schwartz.

Aubrey is an avid sewist, pattern designer, and mommy who blogs at Maubys.net, and her blog is a veritable treasure trove of information and project ideas. We also recommend that you check out Aubrey’s shop, where you can find some wonderfully original and creative sewing patterns (our favorites include the Presta Pouch, Rosie’s Circle Twirl Skirts, and the Teardrops Heart Quilt).

We hope you enjoy Aubrey’s Grinch mini quilt and advent calendar project!

When I was a little girl we had an advent calender with a plush mouse that you moved from pocket to pocket each day until you got to Christmas.  It was one of my absolute FAVORITE Christmas decorations!  At some point my mom disposed of it and I have missed it for nearly 20 years.

Finished Grinch Advent Calender - 5

When I saw Robert Kaufman’s, The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, fabric line the wheels in my head started to turn and I just knew that this year we were going to have a Grinch advent calender!  One that would bring back all those special memories of Christmas when I was a kid.

Finished Grinch Advent Calender - 3

Now that it is all finished, I cannot wait to watch my little guy enjoy it!  I am also super excited to share it with you.  Here is a step by step tutorial so you can make your very own!

Finished Grinch Advent Calender - 7

  • 6 Grinch fabric fat quarters of your choice: 1 for the bottom front , 2 for the back, 1 for the hanging sleeve & binding, 1 for the pockets, and 1 for extra scraps & appliqué.
  • 2 rectangles from the Grinch Book Panel or a 12″ x 19″ Fussy cut of your favorite Grinch print, for the front top.
  • Small scrap of the Holiday Grinch fabric print , 4″ x 5″ minimum, with at least one Grinch in the center.
  • 2, 4″ x 5″ pieces of lightweight fusible interfacing.
  • 4 strips of 2 1/4″ x 18 1/2″ fusible fleece.
  • 1 strip of 2 1/4″ x 2 1/2″ fusible fleece.
  • 21″ – 24″ wooden dowel with holes one each end (or other hanging device).
  • 3/4 yard of ribbon for hanging


1. Fuse the interfacing to the back of the Holiday Grinch Fabric print and an equal sized piece of scrap fabric.

2 - Grinch Advent Calender

3 - Grinch Advent Calender

2. Place pieces with right sides together keeping the main Grinch centered.

4 - Grinch Advent Calender

3. Sew around the center Grinch with a 1/4″ seam allowance, leaving a 1/2″ gap on one edge for turning.

5 - Grinch Advent Calender

4. Trim around the Grinch leaving at least 1/4″ between the stitching and the cut line. Clip round edges and tight corners.

6 - Grinch Advent Calender

5. Turn Grinch right side out.

7 - Grinch Advent Calender

6. Stuff through the turning gap, making your Grinch three dimensional.  Slip stitch opening closed.

8 - Grinch Advent Calender

7. Set aside the Grinch until you are done.

Caution** This tiny stuff Grinch is sooo cute that you must watch out for little hands!  They like to steal stuffed Grinches, so you may want to make a few extra.

9 - Grinch Advent Calender

8. If you are using a fussy cut piece for the top then jump ahead to step 10. Otherwise, cut out two of your favorite pictures from the book panel, they should measure around 11 1/4″ long.  Sew a strip of 2″ x 11 1/4″ scrap of fabric in between the two panel pictures.

10 - Grinch Advent Calender

11 - Grinch Advent Calender

9. Measure the width of your set.  It needs to be 19″ long.  If it is less than 19″ then add scrap pieces to each end to make it measure 19″.

12 - Grinch Advent Calender

13 - Grinch Advent Calender

14- Grinch Advent Calender

10. Cut down the bottom front fat quarter to measure 12″ x 19″.  Sew it to the bottom of the top panel you just created along the 19″ edge with a 1/4″ seam allowance.

15 - Grinch Advent Calender

11. Sew the two fat quarters for the back together, then quilt the whole piece in the design of your choice.  Baste around all four edges.  Trim off the excess batting and backing. Set quilted panel aside.

16- Grinch Advent Calender

12. Take the fat quarter that is for the pockets and cut it into 4 strips that measure 5″ x 19″ each.

17 - Grinch Advent Calender

13. Fold one of the pocket strips in half lengthwise, right sides together and press.

18 - Grinch Advent Calender

14. Center one of the 2 1/4″ x 18 1/2″ strips of fusible fleece to one side of the pocket strip between the shorter edges, while lining up the longer edge of the fleece with the folded edge.  Fuse in place.

19 - Grinch Advent Calender

15. Sew the long edge closed with a 1/4″ seam allowance.

20 - Grinch Advent Calender

16. Turn strip right side out and press.

21 - Grinch Advent Calender

17. Edge stitch along the folded edge of the strip.

18. To draw the date pockets, measure 1/4″ in from the shorter edge.  Using a fabric safe marking tool, draw a line perpendicular to the lengthwise edge.  Measure 3″ from the line just drawn and draw a line parallel to it.  Keep drawing parallel lines 3″ from the previous line until you get to the end of the strip.  The last line will be 1/4″ from the end of the strip.

19. Repeat steps 13 – 18 for each pocket strip.

22 - Grinch Advent Calender

20. Now for the dates.  Each pocket is one date.  Dates should count up from bottom right to the bottom left:
Top Row:  24  /  23 /  22  /  21  /  20  /  19
Next Row:  18  /  17  /  16  /  15  /  14  /  13
Next Row:  12  /  11  /  10  /  9  /  8  /  7
Bottom Row:  6  /  5  /  4  /  3  /  2  /  1

If you want to appliqué or screen print your dates, do that now.  If you want to embroider your dates, then mark the numbers now and embroider them after step 21.

23 - Grinch Advent Calender

24 - Grinch Advent Calender

21. Place the bottom of the bottom pocket strip 1″ up from the bottom of the quilted panel.  Lay the bottom of each following pocket strip 1/2″ up from the top of the previous pocket strip.  Sew ONLY the sides and bottoms of each pocket to the panel using a 1/4″ seam allowance.

25 - Grinch Advent Calender

If you have chosen to embroider your dates, do that now.

26 - Grinch Advent Calender

22. Now sew the pockets.  Starting at the bottom of each pocket strip, sew to the top of each pocket strip along the lines you drew in step 18.

27 - Grinch Advent Calender

28 - Grinch Advent Calender

29 - Grinch Advent Calender

23. Take some fat quarter scraps and cut out a 5″ square for the day 25 pocket.

30 - Grinch Advent Calender

24. Fold in half, right sides together.  Lay the 2 1/4″ x 2 1/2″ piece of fusible fleece along the fold line and in between the shorter sides of the pocket piece and fuse.

31 - Grinch Advent Calender

25. Sew along all 3 open edges, leaving a 1″ turning gap along the bottom.  Trim the corners to remove bulk.

32 - Grinch Advent Calender

26. Turn pocket right side out through the turning gap.  Edge stitch along the folded edge.

33 - Grinch Advent Calender

27. Create a small pleat by folding the pocket over itself about 1″ in from each edge.

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28. Edge stitch the pleat in place along the bottom seam.  If you are going to appliqué or screen print your numbers do it now.

35 - Grinch Advent Calender

29. Find a place on the top panel to put the pocket.  Make it kind of special since it is the, “YAY! It’s Christmas Day!” pocket.  Sew the pocket to the panel along the sides and bottom of the pocket with a 1/4″ seam allowance.

36 - Grinch Advent Calender

If you have chosen to embroider your numbers, do it now.

37 - Grinch Advent Calender

30. Now you can bind your mini quilt advent calendar!

If you need help with binding, there is a seven part series on my blog, click here and scroll down to Quilt Binding.

38 - Grinch Advent Calender

31. Create and attach a hanging sleeve to the top back of the calendar!

Finished Grinch Advent Calender - 2

And tada! You are all set!  I wish the camera could capture how sweet this calendar is, I just love it!

I hope you make some of your own and have a lot of fun!  Come share some pictures with me if you do, I would love to see them!

Finished Grinch Advent Calender - 11

Finished Grinch Advent Calender - 6

Finished Grinch Advent Calender - 4

Finished Grinch Advent Calender - 9

Featured Crafter – Simply Robin

To tie in with the release of our ‘Solids’ Issue of Fat Quarterly, we chatted to fiber artist and photographer Robin Ferrier of Simply Robin. Robin uses solids in her quilts in a way that will stop you in your tracks and say ‘Wow!’

Welcome Robin :)

FQ: Tell us a little about yourself and your artistic background?

RF: My name is Robin Ferrier; I live on Maui with my husband, three children and an assortment of animals. I come from a family that sews; my mother was a seamstress, my grandmother made quilts, and my aunts each sew as well. I learned to use a sewing machine when I was young, but it was not until college that I made my first quilt. I was longing to be connected to the women of my family and I wrote my aunt and asked her how to make a quilt. She said cut up a bunch of squares out of various fabrics, cut those into triangles and then rearrange the triangles into a pleasing pattern. After that quilt I was hooked! My artistic background consists of majoring in fine arts in college until the realities of living the life of an artist were revealed to me. I course-corrected and became a nurse, which was a good decision at the time. Now, I cannot help but feel blessed to be able to pursue my artistic passions without the stress of having to earn a living with it.

FQ:How would you describe your work?

RF:Currently, my work consists of two different styles. In my ?elements? series, I use my own hand-dyed fabrics to create original non-representational patterned compositions. These quilts are often saturated with color, which I suspect is a result from living in Hawaii where the sun is bright all year long and intense colors are a part of my everyday. I am working to tone things down and am introducing more neutrals into my work. My other style involves working with brightly colored commercial fabrics and large fields of white. I?m making a series of couture baby quilts that depict simple scenes and playful imagery. It?s a light-hearted diversion from my usual work. In both series I throw away the ruler and prefer instead the beauty of a hand-cut line.

FQ: Where does your passion to create come from?

RF: I?ve always known I have a propensity to create. It?s something I consider part of my personality. My father was a DIY kind of guy and my mother made things when we had very little. It was that early exposure to making things by hand that made me want to do things like that for myself. I?d like to think I take it a step further by having an intense desire to bring something new to the world of quilts. I don?t think I?ve actually done that yet, but I?m working on it!

FQ: Can you describe your design process with an example, from the seed of an idea to a completed project?

RF: Typically I start with an image in mind or an idea I?d like to expand upon further. With my elements series, I?ve generally moved from simple shapes to those that are more complex. I often make a bunch of fabric first by either sewing pieces together into assorted blocks, or larger pieces together to make panels, which can be cut into. At this stage I focus primarily on making the fabric. The composition of the quilt usually reveals itself to me when I have a pile of fabric to work with and feel ready to move on. With the baby quilts, I usually have a scene in mind and go from there. I?ll make a bunch of houses or stars and assemble them after I have a pile to work with. I strive to introduce something new with each quilt and am constantly pushing myself to up my game.

FQ: You work with solids a lot. Is this a favourite subject matter for you? How do you select solid colour combinations? Can you share a word or two on dyeing fabric?

RF: Yes! I love working with solids! I started working with them after I became frustrated with commercial fabrics. At that time, because I knew so many of the prints, I found myself focusing more on the fabric rather than the overall design. Commercial prints often date a quilt and I wanted my work to be more timeless than that. Also, because of my sensitivity to color, I found that many of the commercial prints seem to have a narrow range of value. It was hard for me to find fabrics that were either extremely light or extremely dark, so I began dyeing my own fabric and have pretty much solved those problems. As for how I select my colors, sometimes I start with a limited palate, sometimes I don?t. I tend to prefer quilts in which the colors all relate to each other in one way or another; sometimes are in the same color family, sometimes they are in a gradation from one color to the next, and sometimes they are a gradation across the color wheel. Having a large variety of colors to choose from helps, and dyeing my own fabric affords me that freedom.

FQ: Do you have a favourite piece that you have made that holds a special spot in your heart?

RF: Of course they are all special, but I?d have to admit my ?Shibori Sun?s? quilt is still one of my favorites. At first glance, it?s a simple quilt made entirely of circles, but when you look closer you can see that those circles were dyed and over-dyed using the shibori clamp technique in which I sandwiched fabric between two mason jar tops and secured it all together with string. The metal lids that I used were not perfectly flat, so what resulted were inconsistencies in the shapes of the circle, and the string created lines projecting from the circles, much like rays from the sun. It was the first quilt I made entirely from my own hand-dyed fabric, the first one in which I incorporated different sized blocks into one quilt, and the first quilt of mine that was accepted into a local juried art show. After making and exhibiting it I really started to look at myself as an artist.

FQ: Your blog is so full of inspiration and we love how you describe your processes and share insights, tutorials, introduce us to artists who inspire you and so much more. What is the best part about blogging for you?

RF: I?ve been blogging for almost six years now? hard to believe? and over the years my blog has morphed from a running commentary on my family life, to that of a more focused art blog. I almost quit for good several years ago, but then realized it benefits me immensely. The blog keeps me focused. I have a personal goal of blogging each weekday; so everyday I know at least some of my time is spent thinking about art. The blog keeps me connected. I have made many friends through blogging and feel like I have a host of like-minded companions sharing this journey with me. The blog keeps me current. I try to not repeat myself and am constantly working to create fresh new work. Finally, the blog is a way to give back. I do know I?ve inspired people with my blog, and sometimes someone will take the time to tell me how I?ve touched them in a special way. I?ve had many kind and gentle people guide and inspire me over my years of making quilts and I feel blessed to be able to do this for other people.

I?d also like to add here that I?ve set my blog up with WordPress and a special template that showcases my photography. I have a fondness for taking pictures and have invested in good equipment. Being a photographer helps me to develop my eye and it also offers a satisfying diversion from the non-representational work I do with fabric.

FQ: What?s next in the creative world of Simply Robin?

RF: I?m currently working on a ?slow cloth? in which I?m trying an assortment of surface design techniques as well as stitching. I?ve never quilted a whole quilt by hand, so this may just be my first. I also have a couple of couture baby quilts swimming around in my head and of course more ideas for simply solid quilts. This summer I want to play with over-dyeing as a means to create interesting cloth. Of course I have too little time to do all of this but perhaps that isn?t a bad thing after all!

Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with us today Robin.

You can catch up with Robin on her blog or visit her flickr photostream – truly inspiring.

By |February 26th, 2011|Featured Crafter|5 Comments

Featured Crafter – Camp Follower Bags

FQ: Tell us a little bit about your creative journey?

“I have always been an artistic person. I cherish creativity. My mom made clothing for us growing up, so the whir of the sewing machine was some of the background music to my childhood. 

I started quilting about 11 years ago after my third miscarriage. I really needed something I could control in my life and I found it in a 4 week beginners quilting class. I was a dreadful student and I never finished the class due to having to meddevac a patient back to the USA (I was an Army Nurse stationed in Heidelberg at the time).

About 2 years later my husband deployed to Iraq for the first time (he is in the Army too) and I was left with 2 tiny children, and long nights to worry about what was going on and what could happen with my life and my husband. Once again, I needed something I could control. 

 I turned back to quilting and have never looked back. There was a great quilting group at my church and I got involved with them. So quilting was the first deployment and the next deployment was making the bags. I make bags from military uniforms. The proceeds from my little business helps me afford my significant fabric addiction. The bags became so popular that I started a little website and have sewn for people for about 7 years now. I love it. Each bag I make is totally different and wonderful. My website is www.campfollowerbags.com

FQ: Which part of the quilt making process is your favourite and why?

“Well, honestly I like most of the parts. Each step plays into the next. I design a quilt as I go normally. I guess the least favorite part is pin basting quilts, but it is important because while I am pinning I am planning on how to quilt the quilt. Quilting is definitely my favorite step. I love sitting at my sewing machine deep in my zone planning my next quilt, and my menu for the next week and other bags to design….I do lots and lots in my mind while I am quilting.”

 FQ: Do you have a favourite fabric designer?

“I have several favorite designers. I love Amy Butler. Each and every collection is filled with grace and passion. Sometimes she sends me her design room scraps for me to use them in my Hero Quilts (Quilts I make for the children of service members killed in combat from their father’s uniforms) I love using her fabric for my Camp Follower Bags. 

Like so many contemporary quilters love Anna Griffin, Michelle Engle Bencsko Denyse Schmidt, Heather Ross, Anna Maria Horner, Heather Bailey and Kaffe Fassett’s shot cottons. I also love just about any fabric Lecien makes.”

FQ: Where do you draw your inspiration from when making bags and quilts?

“I am inspired by the uniform itself when making bags. I maintain the functionality of the pockets when designing bags, but each shape needs to be comfortable and practical as well. Sometimes a lady will suggest a shape or specific purpose for her bag and I will design around that thought.

My quilts are inspired by color and emotion and fabric combinations. Sometimes by an entire fabric collection, or maybe I just want to try out a new to me technique. There is not much rhyme or reason to what sort of quilts I am working on.”

FQ: Do you have a favourite quilt or other sewn item that you have made?

“I have a couple favorite quilts. I made one quilt right after moving to Australia out of Lecien tea dyes and antique reds that so reminds me of the landscape of where I used to live. Another favorite is a simple 9 patch I made with some of my favorite pieces of fabric from my horde.

My favorite bag is really ugly and plain. I made it with BDU cargo pockets of my husband’s pants and some olive drab water resistant canvas. I obtained the canvas in Alice Springs, Australia from a man who makes swags (an Aussie cross between a sleeping bags and a tent). I love it. It is currently my pool bag. I had to make myself some pretty bags so when I tell people I make bags they don’t look at me like I am a lunatic. I make these glorious bags – works of art really and I carry something that is as dull as it can be.”

FQ: Are there any new creative skills that you would like to try in the future?

“I am planning a liberated quilt along for my blog. That will be lots of fun. Mainly it is for my mom, so she can get a crash course in liberated piecing before I whisk her away up to Michigan to quilt with Gwen Marston. But everyone else is invited to quilt along with us.

I am also really into adding bits of hand quilting to my pieces even if it is just the final bold hand stitches that finish the binding of a quilt. Anytime I can add some text, bit of uniform or map print fabric to a piece I am as happy as a clam.”

By |December 17th, 2010|Featured Crafter|5 Comments

Happy Zombie – Featured Crafter

FQ: Tell us a little bit about your creative journey? When did it start? Where you inspired by any particular person? 

‘Coming from parents who immigrated to the United States – quilting was not a part of my culture or background.  There are no old quilted treasures to be found in the attic.  In fact… we didn’t even have an attic.  I had known about Amish quilts, and quilt blocks used to help enslaved people on a path to freedom (the Underground Railroad), and I’ve admired quilts – but never imagined making one.  I had been embroidering since Brownies (grade 3?) and sewing since middle school, and to this day love embroidering and red working. 

Roly Poly Circus

 My dad also sews – so I’ve learned a lot from him over the years.  Then one day in my early 30′s, my friend Lisa had introduced me to the Eleanor Burns method of strip piecing.  Deer caught in headlights.  I didn’t even know what “piecing” was, let alone this really sharp pizza cutter she was showing me.  And then it began.  One log cabin block at a time.  And the flood gates opened. 

Shortly after, another friend, Nancy… she showed me how to hand quilt.  Not only that, in 1990 Nancy took me to my first quilt shop in San Rafael, California… and my lust for quilting and fine fabrics began when I walk through the door of that quilt shop.  

I also discovered the social aspects associated with quilting – which I loved just as much as the quilts themselves.  Nancy’s husband and my husband were stationed aboard the same Coast Guard cutter, and would often deploy for 3 month patrols in the Bering Sea – and that meant lots of get-togethers with Nancy and the other spouses’ – and lots of quilting. 
 I associate quilting with friendships and good times.  Even when times are bad.  I think any quilter remembers what he or she was doing on and after 911 – and that would probably be quilting.   In good times and bad – joining little pieces of cloth, especially in the company of friends… is a gift to the hands and the heart.  I’m such a fan of quilt retreats and sewing bees.  Sewing.  Laughing.  Talking.  Sharing.  Inspiring.  Snacking.  Making.  And that is my food that feeds my soul.’

FQ: Which part of the quilt making process is your favourite and why?
I love planning a quilt.  My colored pencils, crayons and graph-paper are never far.  I even keep a graph-tablet in the glove-box of my car.  I never know when the inspiration will strike me.   One night we were watching Project Runway, and I yelled “PAUSE IT!!!!!” to my husband.  I saw something that sparked my designing firecracker.  My heart rate goes up, my breathing irregular… I sketch my inspiration.  The results of that inspiration in the current issue (Winter 2010) of Quilts & More. 

When I sew something, I feel like I’m grabbing a piece of the world or history – and bringing it into my home.  Sometimes… sewing feels like magic.  Especially around Halloween. 

H'ween '09

I love walking into a quilt shop and picking out fabrics.  Love that.  I imagine people who love to make stuff in That Room with the box-that-gets-hot feel the same way when they go to grocery store.   Sometimes the fabrics dictate what they’ll become.  Sometimes I pick fabrics specifically for a project.  I’m also obsessed with charms and jelly rolls.  Lumps of pretty clay waiting to be sculpted.  I heart a challenge.  I thrive on challenge.  
I also love piecing “out of a bag” – when it’s time to set some blocks or units – I give no thought or planning to placement of the colors/fabrics.  Kind of ‘let the chips fall where they may’ approach.  I love the excitement of not knowing what’s going to happen… letting the quilt universe to do it’s thing.  I love the feeling of liberation it gives me to let go and let it happen.  To borrow from Bravo TV’s catch phrase… it’s a “Watch What Happens Next” moment.  Good times. 
Two Happy quilt pattern - freebie from meebie

I’m very drawn to 30′s quilts, and what I enjoy making most.  Almost all of my quilts (about 200 that I think I’ve made over the years) have a solid white (Kona Snow) background and in least every quit I throw in a solid color.  I love solids as they help rest the eye and give the printed fabric and extra spoonful of pop – like how I used in my charm quilt that’s in Summer ’07 Quilts & More.  Solids are like the printed fabric’s jewelry.

FQ: Do you have a favourite fabric designer?
Right now I’m crushing on Melody Miller and her new Ruby Star Rising with Kokka – I’m so smitten with it (and her too!).  I love the fresh moderns… but 30′s repo fabric will always be my first love

Course I love my Holiday Happy fabric line with Lecien, too! Right now my favorite quilt is my Glow Happy quilt that I designed to go with my fabric.  I liked that it was easy, but looks like it’s a challenge. I’m all about the easy.
Holiday Happy - Lecien booth

 For me the 30′s repos take me to the time and place of America that I’m not connected to… and it connects me to it.  Like I’m secretly building my own attic treasures.   And as well – building my own Winchester Mystery House… but with yardage instead of rooms.’ 
Christmas dec studio makeover
FQ: Are there any new creative skills that you would like to try in the future? 
I would love to learn how to cook – or rather love to love it.  When I’m grocery shopping I pretend the food is fabric and I’m making a big edible quilt with it.  And then I snap out of it and by a pizza.

Featured Crafter – Follow the White Bunny

Today, we are catching up with the supremely talented Nicole from Follow the White Bunny.

FQ: Tell us a bit about your creative journey. I wasn?t exceptionally crafty when I was a kid. I think the most creative thing I did was making dresses out of paper hankies for my stuffed animals. And I used to drive my mom crazy with all the paper cutting I did. No idea what I exactly made, but my rooms was always covered in snippets of paper.

I have always enjoyed drawing though and writing stories and making my own ?newspapers? and such. It was not until after I had moved abroad a couple of years ago and became a stay at home mum that I became interested in crafts. It actually started with an Ikea fabric that I wanted to use to make curtains.
A friend taught me the basics on how to use the sewing machine and together we made the curtains.

At the same time I got involved in Flickr and saw all the lovely crafty things there. One of those things was an embroidery by Georgia McDonald. I bought some embroidery supplies, books and just started. Not long after there was an Embroidery Design contest on Flickr and I made an (odd) entry for that of a Little Red Riding Hood figure with an evil Tree called ?Tre-evil?. I didn?t win but people seem to like my design.

Around the same time I, rather hesitantly, released my first (free) pattern on Flickr and started my Etsy
shop with (only one pattern) not much later.

FQ: When designing embroidery patterns, where do you draw your inspiration from
? I draw inspiration from lots of things. Books and tales I read, art and illustrations and colours I have
seen, lyrics, history and every day things, it all potentially influences my patterns. I have a preference
for the less obvious, for bittersweet tales, vintage stuff and slightly odd things.

FQ: Which of your designs is your favourite and why?
I must admit that I have a soft spot for Pindsvin, ?the brave Danish Hedgehog?. To me it?s like this image of a cute hedgehog in his teacup is a snippet of a huge adventure untold. He is probably one of my favourite characters.

Another favourite is my most recent pattern the ?Forty Winks Fox?. It?s the only embroidery I have done that is on display in my living room. I guess it?s more ?grown up? than many of my other patterns.

I also have much fun working on the ?Castle Peeps? embroideries that I?m doing as part of my collaboration with Lizzy House. It?s very inspiring to do something a little different from my normal work. I?m using different shapes and brighter colours now.

FQ: Do you have any tips for the beginner embroiderer. Start on simple patterns, learn the most basic stitches and try to build on that. When I just started, I found many answers to even the most basic questions and lots of support on Flickr. There are several groups dedicated to Embroidery with many very helpful members!

Recently there have been many ?how to?s? for the beginner embroiderer on various blogs too. I also did one for another blog and will be re-issuing it on my blog in the next month or so. Also, www.needlenthread.com has awesome embroidery video tutorials. Embroidery supplies aren?t expensive and you don?t need much to start: a hoop, fabric, some floss and the right needle and you are ready to go. But the most important thing is to enjoy the learning process and the craft itself!

FQ: Are there any new creative skills that you would like to try in the future? I like to challenge myself a little and take on different stuff from what I usually do. This summer I?m planning to learn myself how to cross-stitch and I?m pretty sure that will influence my patterns in one way or another. I also need to improve my quilting skills dramatically.

I?m getting better at putting quilt tops together but the actual quilting always fazes me. I would love to do so many other things as well, painting or print making for example, but there are only 24 hours in a day and I like to sleep a bit too.

FQ: Where do you see yourself in five years? I have no fixed plans for the future. If you would have told me 5 years ago that I would be making embroidery patterns today I would have not taken you seriously. I?m constantly trying to improve my embroidery skills and pattern making and drawing. I also like to write about crafty things so it would be great if I could do more with that. I also enjoy collaborating with others and explore the crafty world beyond embroidery so who knows what will happen?

You can also see Nicole here:

Twitter: Followbunny
By |October 28th, 2010|Featured Crafter|5 Comments

Featured Crafter – Ryan Walsh

Today, we are chatting with Ryan from ‘I’m Just A Guy Who Quilts.’ Ryan is a prolific quilter and incredibly generous with his time and knowledge.

Ryan’s Katie Jump Rope Pillow is a real favourite of mine, which he made as part of a swap (lucky partner!) – you can find a tutorial for it here.

FQ: Tell us a little bit about your creative journey? When did it start? Where you inspired by any particular person? Quilting runs in my family.  I spent hours at my grandmother?s home when I was a young boy because my parents both worked full time.  She always had a project going and I would find myself fascinated by what she made.  I would try and figure out how she pieced the blocks and ask all sorts of questions.  She?s still my ?go to? source for information if I?m at a loss for how to proceed on a project.

My artistic talents definitely come from her side of the family.  Several of my aunts and cousins also quilt.  I?m the only male quilter in the family.

I made my first quilt in 2005, right before my first son was due to be born.  My wife and I were having trouble finding curtains we liked for the nursery and we decided to pick out fabric so she could make something.  We found fabric we liked right away and set a weekend to make the curtains at her parents.  That Friday before, my wife got ill from something she ate and was down for the rest of the weekend.  I ended up taking over the project and had a lot of fun using the sewing machine with my mother in laws help.  I was hooked!  I started a baby quilt for our new arrival that next week.  My in laws bought us a sewing machine for Christmas that year and I?ve been quilting ever since!
FQ: Which part of the quilt making process is your favourite and why? Gosh!  That?s a really hard question to answer, going to the quilt shop and buying fabric? LOL  I think everyone likes that part, really.  Honestly, If I had to pick, I would say my favorite part of the whole process would be the design.  You know, that part where the quilt is just an idea in your head.   

I design a lot of my quilts on the computer, but they all start as an idea sketched out on paper.   The whole process of translating a block or quilt from your head to something tangible on paper really excites me.  I love working through all the challenges of design as well because what?s in your head (or on the computer) for that matter can?t always be clearly put together.  I have a few quilts I?ve only made in my head at this point because I can?t begin to figure out how to put them together in fabric.

FQ: Do you have a favourite fabric designer? If I said I have one absolute all time favorite designer I?d be lying through my teeth. There?s way too many I adore to choose from.  Have you seen my fabric stash?  It?s seriously out of control, but don?t tell my wife I admitted that to you, OK?  Ha ha ?  I can say that the one designer?s fabrics I?ve been using a lot lately is Monaluna.  Her mingle line is absolutely wonderful.  The bright colors and geometric designs are super cool.  I can?t get enough of that line right now.

FQ: Where do you draw your inspiration from when making quilts? My inspiration comes from all around me.  I carry my camera and notebook everywhere I go.  If something I see inspires me, I?ll stop to jot ideas down.  It could be something as simple as the way a brick wall on the side of a building has colorful graffiti or a color combination I see in a department store window.  I seriously had my sister take a picture of a bathing suit in old navy a few weeks ago because of the neat pattern and color selection the designer used.  The camera on my phone is filled with images of sidewalks, signs, bridges, etc.

FQ: Do you have a favourite quilt or other sewn item that you have made?
The first quilt I ever created is my favorite.  I made the most mistakes on it and also learned a lot about quilting during its construction.  I didn?t have a plan when I started it.  Just cut all the fabric up and pieced it back together.  The block design came to me as I went along.  It warms my heart every time I see my son cuddle up in it on the couch.

FQ: Are there any new creative skills that you would like to try in the future? The one technique that?s always scared me in quilting has been paper piecing.  I?ve forced myself to try it for several quilting bees this year.  Instead of chickening out and returning the fabric with a little surrender note I stuck with it and finished the blocks.  All I have to say after completing a few blocks is that it still scares me.  I always chalk it up to the fact that I?m left handed.  I always try and reverse the entire process for some reason.  It?s something I?d like to work on more.

I also want to learn how to design fabric in photoshop.

By |September 30th, 2010|Featured Crafter|7 Comments

Community – The Quilt Project

Around this time last year and thanks to Kirsty from Kootoyoo, The Quilt Project was born.

The Quilt Project is an online community friendship quilt made up of 66 squares. The participants had to create an original design, in any medium, as long as it was in red.

Once the squares were finished they were sent back to Melbourne, photographed and assembled into a quilt, which was then displayed for one night only.

Photo courtesy of Michelle

Kirsty tells us what inspired her to organise The Quilt Project.

I have co-ordinated 3 community based friendship quilts and loved so much the sense of belonging & the unity & the thought of many hands working together to make one “something”.

I’ve been stewing on The Quilt Project for a good long time now. Every time I’ve looked at my Great Grandmother’s Redwork quilt I’ve thought about it more & more. I feel a connection with those women. Women who made time to stitch these intricate designs in only red just to share a piece of themselves with someone else. It gives me goosebumps.

I’m the only person who really gets to enjoy my piece of redwork history & so I thought I’d like to have a go at organising a contemporary redwork piece that once complete will be published online so that everyone can enjoy it.‘

Photo courtesy of Kirsty.

The best way to view the quilt is here. If I were you, I would grab a cuppa before you get started…there are a lot of inspiring blocks to see.

Lara’s contribution.

We would love to here about any inspiring community events. If you know of any, please drop us a note at fatquarterly@googlemail.com

Featured Crafter – msmcporkchopquilts

Today, we are sitting down with the very talented Amanda from msmcporkchopquilts.

FQ: Tell us a little bit about your creative journey? When did it start? Where you inspired by any particular person? I’ve always been interested in making things myself…I come from a long line of talented people, my grandmother was a painter, my grandfather was an architect, my mom is a chef/ceramicist, my uncle takes beautiful photographs…it’s only natural to be curious about creating things from a young age when the people around you are building fantastic things. 
I went to college for art history & art studio with a focus in printmaking & painting but slowly burned out. It just wasn’t for me and a semester before I could have graduated, I dropped out so I could focus on my small business, modernacorn. It was a lot of fun during the day, but I wanted to sew something *more*. 
I bought Amy Butler’s Frenchy Bag pattern, some echino fabric and a few days later…I had a bag. I was stunned! I made a bag! And a bag that people COMPLIMENTED me on! It was sort of the boost of confidence I needed to tackle more and more complex sewing projects.
I started going to a local shop, Scottie Dog Quilts and sewing with the ladies there on an almost daily basis. They were so inspiring, sewing, laughing…just being great. With their help I learned how to quilt..before that I was completely self taught, so imagine all the short cuts I learned along the way!

FQ:Which part of the quilt making process is your favourite and why?

Can I cheat and say two parts?! The design process and the actual quilting. I love love love designing things and have sketch books filled with ideas. Half of the time I’d rather draw it on paper than actually cut it and sew it.
And quilting…quilting is just fantastic. Nothing pleases me more than quilting nonstop. I love straight line quilting, I love free motion, I love drawing with thread..it’s very relaxing for me. I usually know how I’ll quilt something before I even sew it. It’s bad.

FQ: Do you have a favourite fabric designer?

This is so hard! I have a massive collection of Kaffe Fassett and his designer friends but I rarely sew with it…I place it on my shelves and admire from afar. I really love Heather Ross because I adore fussy cutting…plus I think it’s neat that she was in Vermont and then lived in California…I can relate to that. I also am *really* in love with Riley Blake, Laurie Wisbrun, Lizzy House. It would be fair to say that I just love fabric! ;)

 FQ: Where do you draw your inspiration from when making quilts?
The things around me for sure. My husband and the adventures we go on…we take a lot of car trips all over the state, he’s always getting me to look at things differently.. I love looking out the window…Northern California is a plethora of inspiration….mountains, ag fields, tons of wildlife, the lakes…everything is really neat to me.

I also love love love traditional quilt blocks and I’m always playing with them, I think there is a reason why they’ve stayed around so long…the design sense in them is brilliant. I love art history as well and enjoy playing with historical palettes of color and themes. And I work at the cutest quilt shop ever, Honey Run Quilters in Chico, CA…seeing all the new bolts come in & my talented coworkers projects is awesome!

FQ: Do you have a favourite quilt or other sewn item that you have made?

I love everything I sew…otherwise I wouldn’t take the time to sew it…hahaha. But I like my hex bag, the pillowcases on my bed, my 5&Dime quilt because the quilting is intense, I made a wedding quilt for my husband that I’m pretty keen on, I loved sewing my oregon star, I enjoyed the design challenge of my Circa50 quilt…I tend to really like everything! I’m currently working on a lone star that’s really got me hooked!!!

FQ: Are there any new creative skills that you would like to try in the future?
Garments! I’m very inspired by Karyn at the Workrooms dresses, she always adds an unexpected detail that woos me over!