Posted on 6 Comments

Our New Grand Bundle – Rainbow’s End

Periodically for the last few years I have put together “Grand Bundles” of fabrics,  the colors of which are inspired by a beautiful photograph from nature. I am always on the lookout for a photo opportunity to use for these bundles. The best creator of colors for a palette is Mother Nature. I am always amazed when looking at a beautiful photo how different the colors are when you actually break down the photo. Nature forces us to add colors we never would’ve thought of adding. These make all the difference in the world.

A couple of weeks ago my daughter and her family were visiting and I put the children on a mission of looking for photo opportunities for the next grand bundle. One day my 10-year-old granddaughter came running into the house yelling,

“Grandma, Grandma, I have your photo.  Get your camera and hurry.” I went running after her and there, seeming to come right out from my own backyard, was a beautiful rainbow. I thought that was a perfect palette for the next bundle. We tend to think of rainbow colors as bold and brilliant and I was surprised to see the soft shades emerge as I extracted the colors.  I decided that batik prints would be perfect for this Grand Bundle.

Below the photo are the colors that were extracted using Photoshop (see this blog for how to get the colors in Photoshop) and here are the batiks that I chose to go with those colors.

 

 

There are 35 different fabrics in the Rainbow’s End Grand Bundle and we will be offering them to you as part of our web special program over the next five months. On the fourth week of each month we will offer seven of the Grand Bundle fabrics in “mini-bundles.” Collect them all and you will have a beautiful color palette to use for any of your favorite scrappy projects.

 

 

A color palette with this many fabrics makes a perfect scrap quilt such as the ones I showed you with previous Grand Bundles, Thousand Pyramids and Baby Blocks with the Irish Heather bundle and the simple squares with the Protea bundle. Here is a mock-up of what the Thousand Pyramids would look like with the Rainbow’s End bundle.

This color palette would be a perfect use for one of those patterns but I am also presenting a new one for you to experiment with.  Stay tuned for next month when this popular quilt design, done in Rainbow’s End colors, is revealed and start collecting your first mini-bundle now.

Posted on 3 Comments

Are You Ready for Row by Row 2019?

As we were getting ready to post this new blog entry, some of us received by email a blog entry from last year.  It seems to have been floating around in cyberspace since then.  We apologize for any confusion.  Please ignore it but pay attention to the new entry below.

Row by Row begins this week!

We have been super busy preparing for the Row by Row Shop Hop. For those of you not familiar with the program, it is a worldwide shop hop. Each participating shop designs a panel for a quilt or a stand-alone mini quilt and creates a pattern for their row. You can travel to any of the participating shops and receive the free pattern for that shop’s “row” and most shops have kits available. Make a quilt from the patterns you collect. If it contains at least eight official rows, take it to a participating shop. If you are the first person to bring a finished quilt to that shop, you will receive 25 fat quarters of fabric. If your quilt contains the row from that shop, you will receive an additional prize.

 

Luke is waiting patiently there in the lower right corner for the crumbs to fall.

 

The theme this year is “Taste the Experience” and the designs are created to fit that theme. This year for fun, the shops who are all part of the Quilters’ Quest shop hop in October decided to get together and plan a coordinated quilt for the Row by Row shop hop. We decided to make each of our rows like a vintage diner sign. Since I am known for growing hot peppers and for my hot pepper jam recipe, our row shows the jam and the peppers. When you pick up your free pattern you will also receive the recipe for my hot pepper jam.

In order to simplify sewing all those letters, we created a printed panel for the sign and for the “hot” label. This makes creating the row so much easier!

We are also participating in the Row by Row Junior and have a free pattern for “Jelly” the jellyfish for any child who comes into the shop. Kits are also available for purchase.

 

 

Go to the Row by Row website to read all the rules and to find participating shops by state and country.

 

 

Since I know that many of you cannot travel to the Studio, I didn’t want  those of you who live far away to feel left out. In keeping with the spirit of the event and theme, I designed a tessellating pattern for both a lap size and mini size quilt which I call “Forklift.” Since these are not officially part of Row by Row, we have patterns and kits available online and in the Studio.

 

 

Plus, in addition to the Forklift quilts, we also have our “Palette Pleaser” fabric license plates. So, no matter where you are we hope you’ll be able to take part in Row by Row not only at your local shops but with the Studio, too.

Posted on 12 Comments

Stellaris BOM Part I – The Inspiration for the Design

From 1968 to 1972 my husband and I, along with our three children, lived in Nepal and India. It was in those places that I fell in love with geometric and mosaic designs.  The images were everywhere–on buildings, walls, textiles, gardens–and they became ingrained in my whole being. It was also in India in 1972 that I began my first quilt, a mosaic, allover design made of hexagons called Grandmother’s Flower Garden.

 

 

 

 

Three years later, after returning to the States and while visiting my friend, Suzi, I saw a mosaic box on her table and immediately became enamored with the hexagonal design. She let me borrow the box and after days of scrutiny, I started my third quilt, Suzi’s Box.

 

 

Over the years I have collected mosaic boxes and designs from many countries–Spain, India, Nepal and North Africa. So many of these designs have small narrow borders between the elements of the design.

 

 

 

I wanted to tackle one of these types of designs and decided to begin with a simple six-pointed star joined together with diamonds made up of a narrow decorative stripe. The stars were cut from leftover border print pieces.

 

 

The narrow stripe was taken from one of my border print fabrics. Each of the connecting diamonds was made up of four smaller triangle pieces.

 

 

Herein lies the problem. I loved the design and what was happening with the connecting diamonds so I calculated how much of the border print fabric I needed…and YIKES!!!! It was 17 yards!

So, I decided that since the use of that fabric was too extravagant, I would just have to design a fabric that would work and that was when my first “mini-stripe” fabric was born. That fabric is used in the quilt which inspired its creation, Arabic Tiles, yet another hexagon based design.

 

 

 

It was so much fun experimenting and designing quilts using the first mini-stripe fabrics that I included another, in several colors, in my Aruba collection.

 

 

This brings me to the point of this blog. As you can see, inspiration doesn’t just appear. It is built on experiences, images and just slowly develops. I had been trying to decide for weeks what type of design to use for this year’s BOM quilt and wanted to include the mini-stripe fabric. Then one day when dusting a shelf, I spotted these two plates and looked at them with new eyes. I knew immediately that they would be the inspiration for the new 2019 BOM.

 

 

 

I studied and studied how the designs were created and after a week of complete concentration and drawing was able to come up with and draft this design. Thank goodness our pattern writer, Elaine, was a genius in breaking the design down into simple piecing of nothing but straight seams and a few in-set seams.

 

 

The fun was then in selecting the fabrics and the six different colorways to create the quilt.

 

 

Links to the first video and printed lesson will appear in our April 6, 2019 newsletter. It is free to all newsletter subscribers.

Watch this video clip to learn about the BOM and stay tuned for the next blog and the behind the scenes look at creating the program.

Posted on 1 Comment

Irish Heather Grand Bundle

This week’s web special offers the last of the Irish Heather bundles. In August, I introduced the grand bundle with colors extracted from a photograph of the Irish hillside taken by Nancy Fallone. Once a month for five months we have offered nine of those fabrics as a web special. My blog of August 22nd also showed a Thousand Pyramids quilt made with all 45 of the fabrics.

 

 

 

 

I love scrappy quilts and as we wind up the Irish Heather grand bundle web specials, I want to share another of my favorite “scrappy” patterns made with a 60 degree diamond. There are more than 20 different names for this design including Baby Blocks, Tumbling Blocks and Diamond Cube. My pattern, ”Scrappy Blocks,” illustrates yet another name for this design.

Just as in Thousand Pyramids, this quilt is also made in block units. Within the unit try to get a balance of all the colors, the darks, lights and accents. Here is a sampling of possible blocks.

 

 

The pattern, Scrappy Blocks, has instructions for a crib-sized quilt, but to make the quilt larger just make more blocks until you have the width and length that you like. You would still use the same edge pieces that are used in the crib sized quilt, just more of them, depending on how many blocks you make for your quilt.

Borders Can Make a Difference

I love using border print fabrics to finish off a quilt. My border print fabrics all have both a narrow and a wide border as shown below. Sometimes there is just a solid color in the seam allowance areas and sometimes a pattern as seen in the second example.

 

Border print pictured is Miyako, 3208-004

 

Border print pictured is Bordering on Brillance, 1283-01

 

 

Typically, I add the narrow border, a “middle” border of a different fabric and then the wide border as I did in the two quilts shown above.

When making a smaller quilt, a border like the one shown above would be too wide and could overwhelm the interior design. Therefore it is necessary to try some other options. So in the next example, shown below, the Delhi border was used, but instead of using the narrow and wide stripe with a contrasting  fabric in between, I used the portion of the border shown below, which has the wide stripe, plus the seam allowance area and a portion of the edge of the narrower stripe.

 

Border print pictured is Delhi, 2448-03

 

 

 

I found this border still a little overwhelming for the small quilt, but that same border used on the larger quilt has better proportions.

 

 

I tried another variation of the Delhi border on the smaller quilt this time using the portion of the border shown here.

 

 

 

 

Here is yet another border on the Scrappy Blocks quilt.

 

Border print pictured is Casablanca, 2795-02

 

 

 

Compare all the quilts shown here and notice how the overall colors of the quilt look different depending on which color border is used.

If you have collected at least quarter yard sets of each of the Irish Heather bundles you would have plenty of fabrics to make the crib or double size quilts shown here. Three yards of border print is a safe amount for a double size quilt. Two and a quarter yards would be enough for the small one.

Posted on Leave a comment

Color Inspiration for Irish Heather

How many times have you seen a beautiful sunset or image in nature and wondered if you could capture those colors to use in a quilt?

Staffer Nancy Fallone took this photo on the final miles of a hiking trip in Ireland. We loved the colors so we decided to use it as inspiration for our next “Grand Bundle” that we will be offering in installments as a web special over the next few months. The photo captures the essence of the Irish hills when the heather is in full bloom.

There are a couple of ways you can pull the colors out of an image. The first is explained in this tip on our website.

This method is a little tedious and there is another that works well and is quite a bit faster. This method uses Photoshop. Here are the steps to take:

1.  Open the photo in Photoshop.

2.  Go to Image/Mode/Indexed color. A dialog box comes up asking you to select how many colors to show. I generally click anywhere from 100 to 250.  3.  Click OK

4.  Next go to Image/Mode/Color Table. A chart will come up with the 100 colors (or however many) you selected.

5.  Take a screen shot of the color table and save it.

I like to put the colors into shaded order and that takes some time. I make a box, select the color I want with the eyedropper tool and then fill the box with that color. You will find that many of the colors in the color table are very similar, so I eliminate some as I go.

Here is the photograph with the colors arranged in shaded order.

 

 

The next task, and the most fun, is to find fabrics in the Irish Heather colors.  This is how we created our new “Grand Bundle.” This Grand Bundle will be divided into five “mini” bundles. Once a month for the next five months we will be offering nine of these fabrics as a web special. Collect them all to build the entire Irish Heather Bundle Collection.

 

 

So, the next question is what to do with the fabrics once you have them. It should be no secret to anyone that I love using lots of different fabrics in my quilts and scrappy quilts are some of my favorites. I decided to use the fabrics from the Irish Heather Grand Bundle to create a Thousand Pyramids quilt.

 

 

For my blog at the end of August, I will explain how I arranged the triangles to get an even distribution of the fabrics throughout the quilt. I will also give you a template to download in the size I used for each triangle.

The first mini bundle will be offered as a web special on July 25th with subsequent bundles on sale the last Wednesday of each of the next four months.

Nature so often provides us with a beautiful palette of colors. I hope you enjoy these inspired by the beauty of the Irish countryside and don’t forget to watch for my Irish Heather blog next month.

Posted on Leave a comment

Not Too Soon to Plan Our Shop Hop Quilt Design

This is the time of year that I am working diligently on our quilt and pattern for our annual shop hop, Quilters’ Quest. The event is earlier this year (October 19-28), so I have to work even faster. As was the case last year, I want to share with you the planning and designing of the project.

The first step is to plan the color scheme. This year, since we selected the cruising theme “Anchors Aweigh,” we chose colors that are often reminiscent of warm tropical waters and sea glass found on the beach.

The next step was to decide on the size and amount of the fabric swatches each shop would have available for the customers to either purchase or receive for free, depending on the amount of their purchase. This year we selected six 2 ½” by the width of the fabric strips. Each shop selected six fabrics that would fit within the color palette shown here.

At our next meeting, everyone brought 10 sets of their chosen 2½” strips and we participated in a “swatch swap.” Each shop went away with 10 sets of fabrics, one set from each shop for a total of 60 different fabrics.

 

The lovely fabric swatches from all the shops.

 

Now is when the fun begins. Each shop must make a quilt using as many of the swatches as they can. They can also add other fabrics if they wish. One of the perks of the Quest is that you receive a free pattern for a shop’s quilt when visiting during the Quest. Participants can collect all the swatches and decide which of the Quest quilts they like the best. Most shops have “finishing kits” available to make their version of the quilt.

Since the cruise destination for our shop is Hawaii, I wanted to design a quilt that would fit in with that theme, and thought the beach at Waikiki with its high rise hotels seemingly emerging from the sea would be a perfect inspiration.

 

Photo courtesy of staffer Nancy Fallone.

 

Sixty-degree diamonds are one of my favorite shapes, and since they are very easy to cut from 2 ½” strips, a fragmented, shaded diamond design seemed a perfect choice for the Studio’s quilt. Value placement is so important in this type of design so I always do preliminary designing in black and white. I tried shading the diamonds in two ways, dark to light lengthwise and dark to light sideways. I played around with the configurations of these two block units until I arrived at a design I liked. It is actually a takeoff on one of my personal quilts from several years ago…I will share this with you when the finished quilt is revealed.

 

 

Stay tuned. Next week I will share with you how I sorted and shaded the fabrics.

Posted on 2 Comments

Visiting Sacred Threads – A Unique and Inspirational Quilt Exhibit

Neon Image One
With my friend Carole Nicholas holding “Neon” by Laurie Cessay

 

This morning I was given the wonderful opportunity to visit the Sacred Threads exhibit as finishing touches were added. If you are not familiar with Sacred Threads, I would guess that you’ve probably never seen anything quite like it.

 

“Pyrite Ammonites” by K. Lacy
“Pyrite Ammonites” by Kimberly Lacy

 

 

Pyrite Image Three

Back in 1999, fellow quilter, Vikki Pignatelli, gathered a small group of women to discuss their idea to present quilts with topics that you wouldn’t ordinarily see at quilt shows, giving quilters a venue to freely express themselves.  Their idea was to create “a dignified exhibit of artwork that would touch all those who viewed it on both spiritual and personal levels.”

 

Sandy Goldman and I discuss “Winter Solstice” by Seminar staffer Ricki Selva featuring many of my fabrics.
Sandy Goldman and I discuss “Winter Solstice” by Seminar staffer Ricki Selva featuring many of my fabrics.

Since 2011, we have been fortunate enough to have this exhibit here in Northern Virginia.  Four former members of the Studio and Seminar staffs are on the committee and they invited me to take a sneak peek.

 

Members of the committee fine-tuning the exhibit.
Members of the committee fine-tuning the exhibit.

 

 

Waiting for the final drapes and labels.
Waiting for the final drapes and labels.

This biennial exhibit is divided into the themes of Joy, Spirituality, Inspiration, Grief, Healing and Peace/Brotherhood and does not focus on any particular religion or faith.

As I first stepped in, my eye was caught by a quilt so obviously filled with joy.

 

Happy Image Seven
You can certainly feel the joy in “Bali Boys” by Linda Anderson.

Throughout the exhibit, the quilts told the stories and experiences of life but it was also fascinating, as a quilter, to see how these artists expressed themselves whether their work leaned towards the traditional or abstract.  The workmanship of so many of these pieces amazed and impressed me.

 

“Florida: Black Skimmer” by M. Wolfe
“Florida: Black Skimmer” by Martha Wolfe

 

 

Honor Image Nine
“In Honor of My Father” by Joan Bratton

There was even a special exhibit in honor of Yvonne Porcella who passed away last year.  I was able to look through these quilts before they were hung and they certainly brought a smile to my face as they reminded me so of Yvonne.

 

Tribute to Yvonne Porcella by Susanne Miller Jones
Barb Hollinger & Jinny with a tribute to Yvonne Porcella by Susanne Miller Jones

 

 

Tribute to Yvonne Porcella by Lisa Ellis
Tribute to Yvonne Porcella by Lisa Ellis

The exhibit runs July 7th through July 23rd at the Floris United Methodist Church in Herndon, Virginia. Visit their website, www.sacredthreadsquilts.com, for hours and directions.  You’ll also find information about “Meet the Artist Weekend” including dinners and more, plus location and dates for the traveling Sacred Threads exhibit. I encourage all who live in the area or who will be visiting during the time of the show to see the spectacular, inspirational exhibit.

 

“A New Dawn” by R. Schwartz
“A New Dawn” by Roxanne Schwartz

 

 

“Fall Was Her Favorite Time of Year” by H. Wilmarth
“After the Rain” by Rosanne Flack Williamson

 

Posted on 5 Comments

The Birth of a Fabric

Usually a fabric is chosen to work with a specific pattern or design. In the case of this story, the reverse was true.

As you all know, I love to work with border print fabrics and other prints with mirror imaged motifs. When we select a border print to go around the outside of a quilt or to use inside the quilt, we often have a lot of leftovers. I’m always looking for ways to use these extra bits.

About a year ago I decided it would be fun to use up border print scraps in six pointed stars. I used our 2 ½” acrylic template. Six identical pieces were needed for each star. I sorted through scraps to come up with a color scheme and began making stars. It was such fun to see all the different ones and how the design changed depending on the placement of the mirror images. All the kaleidoscopic results kept tempting me to do more.

 

1. origina bp stars

Then the question came of how to sew the stars together. I thought of joining them with black diamonds.

 

2. stars on black

However the stars kept calling to me that they needed a narrow border around them. So I thought of cutting a narrow border from one of my border prints. This Corsica border seemed perfect with my colors.

 

3. corsica boder print bold

I only wanted to use this small bit that is outlined here.

 

5. diamond
In order to get the border next to each star, I had to break the diamond into four smaller pieces so the diamond could be completely surrounded by the border. Two are cut one direction and two are reversed.

I began sewing the stars together with the “border print” diamonds.

After I sewed several together, I realized that if the quilt was going to be a decent size I would need anywhere from 12 to 15 yards of the Corsica border to get enough of that small stripe for all the diamonds.

That is when I thought of designing a fabric that was only made up of the small border with black in between. It takes about a year from the idea to the fabric and finally this week the Mini-stripe fabric arrived. I did it in five colorways.

 

Mini Stripe Borders on Bolts

I remade the quilt with a larger (3”) diamond template and the new mini-stripe. I am thrilled with the outcome.

I’m calling the quilt Arabic Tiles, have created a pattern and also made an acrylic template set to make cutting the diamonds easier.

 

Arabic tiles glamour- lighter

 

arabic tiles quilt queen

You can use all your leftover bits and pieces of border print, or we have also made a kit in the colorway shown here.  There are two sizes……wall and double

Margot, one of our customers, has already started using her scraps to make stars. She said it is addictive and so much fun to see how different each one can be.

 

10. margo with her stars

For the Arabic Tile quilt, you only need two yards of the fabric for the diamonds joining the stars instead of 15! I’m dreaming up all kinds of other ways to use the fabric as well. Stay tuned for more projects and let us know if you find innovative ways to use it as well.

Posted on 3 Comments

Half Square Triangles

The half square triangle is certainly one of the most used shapes in patchwork. Have you ever thought about how many different arrangements you can make by simply putting a light half square triangle next to a dark one and then arranging them in as many ways as possible?

 

half square triangle illustration (1)

 

Here are just a few examples that are in my book, The Quilter’s Album of Patchwork Patterns.

 

Quilter's Album of Patchwork Patterns

 

Blocks from QA

With my interest in all things patchwork, imagine my delight when during my recent visit to the International Patchwork Festival in Sitges, Spain, I encountered 55 benches with decorative patchwork tile designs, all made with half square triangle tiles.

 

Promenade

 

promenade 2

I was walking with my son, Sean, along the promenade that runs along the beach when I saw the first bench. I remarked on how neat that was. Then sixty steps later there was another one and another after sixty more steps.  Before long I realized that each bench was different, with a different design.

We walked for about a mile and a half and altogether I counted 55 benches, all made with half square tiles. Each dark triangle was paired with a light one to create a square and then those squares were arranged in a variety of ways—48  squares (96 half square triangles) along the back of each of the benches.

Some of the benches appeared to be newer than others. Each bench had decorative tiles on the sides that corresponded to the designs on the backs of the benches. The older benches had spaces for 10 squares (20 triangles) and the newer ones had spaces for 6 squares (12 triangles).

So far I have not been able to find any two benches exactly the same. Some had duplicate designs on the back of the bench, but maybe the colors were reversed or the design was upside down on one of them. Also I found benches with the same design on the back, but one was an older style with places for 10 squares on sides of the bench and the other was the newer style with a spot for only 6 squares. A few were the same design but with different colored tiles.

 

bench images 1

 

bench images 2

I only made the discovery of these benches on our last day in Sitges. I wish I had had time to study them more carefully. I photographed most all of them and show 30 of them here.

I would like to know the history about these benches, who came up with the idea, how old they are, etc. If anyone knows, please let me know.

Meanwhile, how many other arrangements can you come up with using the same configuration of 10 square tiles across and three down?

Posted on 5 Comments

Studio Staff Projects, Part II

As we left you last week, we still had projects from about half the staff to share with you. One of our favorite things in the Studio is when customers stop in to share their work with us or send us photos through email and Facebook. Here then, with Jinny just back from Spain and probably still jetlagged, we are turning the tables and sharing our projects with you.

Linda quilted up a storm and now has lots of binding to do with more handwork involved on this lovely soft-edge piecing. (Jinny has a great video tutorial on this technique on our website.) But her more important job these days is completing an Elizabeth Hartman pattern called “Fancy Forest” for a special request “Boho” baby quilt for her new granddaughter who is due next month.

 

Linda Soft Edge Piecing

 

Just need to add the binding and then all done!
Just need to add the binding and then all done!

 

 

Linda's Forest Friends

You may not be surprised to learn this but, yes, even our accountant is a quilter. Julia is piecing blocks for an on-line mystery quilt. The name of the mystery is Meadow Mystery by Cheryl Brickey. She chose fabrics from her stash and the completed quilt will go to a military patient at Fort Belvoir Hospital.

 

Julia

 

Dana sent her photos and her story. We decided to let her tell it: “When I married Alen, I knew in my mind that for our 10-year anniversary I wanted to make him a double wedding ring quilt in our wedding colors- red and purple. I have had the Judy Neimeyer pattern for ages along with the fabrics, many of which are Jinny’s. So, we celebrated our 10-year anniversary last October and do you know what he got…a picture of the pattern and an IOU. I felt guilty and decided I better start working on it. I was a bit intimidated as I had never paper pieced before and it just didn’t sink in with me but I decided to give it a try. This pattern is written so well, I am now hooked and am quite enjoying the process. Now every time Alen comes into my work room and sees me working on something that is not red or purple, he’s like “hey what about my quilt?” I told him let’s shoot for 20 years!!!”

 

Dana Project One

 

In addition to the quilt, Dana saw a high-end designer jacket with cats that was well out of her price range. She purchased upholstery material, broke out an embroidery machine that she’s had forever and added her own personal touch to the back to make this chic jacket.

 

Dana Project Two

 

Rebecca proudly boasts of making progress on her UFO pile. She says she “finally” quilted this one and is sewing the binding on. It is pieced with batiks using a pattern by Carrie Nelson, from the Another Bite of Schnibbles book.

 

Rebecca

 

Judy is trying to finish the quilt from a Kaffe Fassett workshop back in October. She had all the squares up on the design board and kept rearranging them, finally deciding how to put it together. The border also changed three times until she decided the big flowers worked best. She’s also working on a BOM from an online blog using Kaffe stash fabrics.

 

Judy Project One

 

Judy's BOM using Kaffe Fasset fabrics.
Judy’s BOM using Kaffe Fassett fabrics.

 

And, finally, Cathy recently finished this top framing it perfectly with a Milan border print. Along with that, she put the finishing touches on this Midi Bag which was a Weekly Web Special last fall.

 

Cathy Milan Border

 

Cathy's Midi bag will surely come in handy!
Cathy’s Midi Bag will surely come in handy!

 

Thanks for letting us share our projects with you and don’t forget that we always love to see yours.