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My Quest Quilt: The Voyage Continues

Last month, I shared with you the beginning design process for our Quilters’ Quest Shop Hop quilt for this year. I designed the quilt in black and white and decided upon two different shaded units made from 60° diamonds.

 

 

The next step in the design process was to sort through the 2 ½’ strips that were collected from each shop.

First, I separated them by color. In the sorting process I discovered a few fabrics among the strips that had too much contrast, which would make the shading difficult. In all, I took out nine strips and set them aside for the small quilt I plan to make with leftover pieces.

The next step was to arrange them in a somewhat shaded order.

 

 

I would need five different fabrics for each diamond. In total, there are nine diamonds in each shaded unit, but for continuity I repeated the same fabric for the rows that have more than one diamond. (See black and white image above.) In other words, one fabric for the first row, two the same for the second, three the same for the third, then two of the same for the fourth and one for the fifth.

Next, using my 60° Perfect Cut Diamond Ruler and the companion 2½” diamond template, I cut each of the shaded strips into 12 diamonds. I saved the leftover bits from the strips for later to use for cutting edge pieces.

Once all the diamonds were cut, I arranged them in shaded groups of five or more fabrics. I like to have more than five so I can use this same grouping for different completed units. It makes the shading process easier. In other words, for this particular grouping here I have eight different fabrics that not only shade from light to dark, but more importantly they also shade “through” colors. A group of all blues or all yellows or all teals is not as interesting as ones that contain more colors.  You need to look for “blender” colors that help you get from one color to another.

 

 

 

For this particular group of diamonds, I can get four distinctly different shaded units. Fabrics 1-5 form one group, 2-6 form another, 3-7 another and finally 4-8 form the last.  Notice how different the first and last groups are.

This is the way you should proceed with all your diamond groupings. That way you have some lighter than others, some darker, some brighter and so forth.

A quilt like this is a great hand piecing project. In mid-May, I arranged several diamond units, some shaded lengthwise and some shaded sideways, and put them in my luggage and headed off to Quilt Market in Portland. I spent a few days after Market with my daughter and her family and by the time I had two five-hour plane trips and several hours of downtime while the kids were in school and their parents working, I was able to hand piece more than 40 of the 65 diamond units I needed for the quilt. Here are just a few of them.

 

Next time I will tell you about making larger units from the smaller ones already completed.

 

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Quilting is Music to Our Ears

Row by Row starts next week on the 21st of June! It is always a great event at our shop. We see so many new faces of people coming into the shop to pick up our row pattern.

If you are not familiar with Row by Row, it is a worldwide event of which we have taken part for the past several years. Quilters can collect free row patterns while visiting participating quilt shops. They can then create themed quilts using the rows they collect. (According to the rules of Row by Row, the kits and patterns are only available to those who visit the Studio, not online.)

This year the theme is “Sew Musical.” Since we are in Virginia, we decided to choose a block that depicts a traditional folk dance called Virginia Reel. Thought to have roots to England, Scotland and Ireland, settlers brought the dance to the new world where it dates back to the 17th century. The block depicts the dancers as they link arms and twirl around.

The size for the “rows” has been changed this year. In addition to the original 9” x 36” row, the following sizes have also been added.

 

 

We decided to design a row and give a pattern that could be made in one of two different sizes—the traditional “row” as shown above and the new “Foxy Boxy” 18” x 18” size shown below.  Our kits for this year’s row are only $13.50 and there is enough fabric to make either of the two variations.

 

 

Take part in this fun event and visit us this summer. Click on this link for more information on the Row by Row experience.

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Travel the World With Us!

This summer seems to have flown by and as usual I have been busy with garden, family and quilting. Sadness for all of the extended family was the passing of my sister, Linda. She had fought a long battle with cancer and finally lost. But her amazing spirit through it all was an inspiration to everyone who knew her. I feel so fortunate that I was able to fly to the west coast in June and spend a quality week with her.  I returned in July for another week for the celebration of her life.

As usual in the summertime we start gearing up full tilt for the Shop Hop in November. This is our annual “Quilter’s Quest” which takes place for 10 days in November from the 9th to the 18th.

Each year we plan a color scheme and each shop selects a group of fabrics that fall within the range of those colors. As participants go to each shop they can purchase the swatches for $4.00 or if they spend $30 they can get them for free! This is our 2017 color palette.

 

Quest 2017 Colors
This year the “Quest Cuts” are eight six inch squares. We all get together and trade our sets with each other so every shop ends up with a complete set of 80 swatches. Then comes the fun part. Each shop designs a quilt based on the Quest Cuts. As you go to the shops you will receive a free pattern for that shop’s quilt.  Many of the shops offer “finishing kits” so that you can make a quilt from the pattern you like the best!

We have decided to have a “movie” theme this year and each shop has selected a movie and will enhance their shop according to the movie they select. We chose the movie Around the World in 80 Days.

It is a great event and all 10 shops have put together a fun video that tells you all about it.

In the past I have shared with you the progress of the quilt as I work on it over the summer. I wanted the design of our quilt to reflect on the movie theme. The 1956 film is about a Victorian Englishman who bets he can circumnavigate the globe in 80 days. Here is a little sneak peak of the progress.

 

Sorting the Fabrics

 

You all know how much I love shading fabrics together, so that was my first task. I needed four groups with 12 values of colors in each one, going from light to dark.

 

Sorting the Pieces

 

While the pattern for the quilt will be foundation piecing, I worked with templates, because I needed to move pieces around as I created the design. The hardest part was drafting the pattern, from there the rest was easy. Here is just a small portion of some of the pieces arranged on a design wall. It took me more than a week to get the pieces the way I wanted them and then only about a week to hand piece.

The quilt is now in my quilting frame and I work on it as I watch the Washington Nationals’ baseball games. Here is a small portion of the quilting in progress. I will share the complete design when the quilt is finished.

 

Quest 2017 Quilting on Quilt

 

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Escape to an Island with a Bundle of Fabric!?!

Opening Photo Blog

 

In quilting today, we have thousands upon thousands of fabrics in an ever-changing palette available to us. When we enter a quilt shop, we find that beautiful array of color and fabric irresistible. As a result, it is rare that we meet a quilter who does not have a substantial stash. Have you noticed, though, for many of us, when we go to put fabrics together for a quilt we never seem to have quite what we need? There always seems to be something missing but we don’t know what.

It is no secret that I love color and I love shading fabrics but I realize that not everyone does. Putting together a quilt with many fabrics can seem overwhelming. Because we recognize this, we have always made available a large selection of shaded bundles. We would, though like to help you to understand how you can do this yourselves or maybe just watch the journey as we do it for you.

Grand Bundle Complete for Blog
The complete Island Escape bundle.

 

With that in mind, we have put together a collection of 40 shaded fabrics called the Island Escape bundle. (It was very hot and steamy while we were putting it together so I may truly have been looking for an Island Escape.)

 

A starting point for the Island Escape bundle, the Portable Palette.
A starting point for the Island Escape bundle, the Portable Palette.

 

To gather the colors I wanted for this Island Escape bundle, I first went to my “go to” color tool, my Portable Palette. I worked with various groups of colors, shading them together until I had a palette I liked.  I came up with a palette of 27 colors. Next I looked all around the shop trying to find fabrics of different textures and designs that would fit into the color range shown on the palette. Sometimes they were a little brighter, a little darker or had had a slightly different cast. As long as they blended in they would work! Ultimately, in the 40 piece bundle, I only used a small portion of the original Palette fabrics, but of course all of those could be added as well for even more variety in the bundle.

We will start presenting them to you, one mini-bundle of eight fabrics at a time, over the coming months in our Weekly Web Specials. Along the way, we will share tips and pattern ideas for how you can use them. Each mini-bundle shades from one color to the next so at the end you will have an entirely shaded collection of fabrics for fun, “scrappy” quilts.

 

Bundle No One for blog
Mini bundle #1

 

This month’s mini-bundle shades from pale seafoam through brilliant blue to deep violet and it will be on sale for the week’s special beginning July 26 and ending August 1.  The next bundle will be released later in August.

For more information on how to use my Portable Palette, visit the Tips and Lessons page on our website.

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Happy Summer

RJR Booth Spring Market 2017

 

It is always exciting to go to the spring and fall quilt markets. This year was no exception. There are always old friends to meet and I even ran into Maria, one of my Ukrainian friends, who promised to give my best to all my friends in Ukraine.

 

Maria and Jinny at Market

 

I held a schoolhouse segment where I introduced my new mini stripe fabric, and the Amber Waves and Miyako fabric collections which will be arriving soon. When they do I will share some new projects to make with these collections.

 

2017 Quilts in Booth
Miyako and Arabic Tiles in the booth at RJR Fabrics

 

There were lots of great patterns that I brought home to make with some of my fabrics. Look for these in future web specials.

 

With Alex Anderson at market.
With Alex Anderson at Market.

 

 

With Edyta Sitar in the Laundry Basket Quilts booth.
With Edyta Sitar in the Laundry Basket Quilts booth.

 

Being gone this time of year is difficult. I came home to an abundance of strawberries in my garden. I plan to make one of my favorite pies for our Memorial Day family get together.

This is the time for fresh strawberries so give my recipe a try.

Fresh Strawberry Pie

Single layer 9-inch pie crust
6 cups freshly picked strawberries
1 cup sugar
3 Tbsp cornstarch
½ cup water
4 oz cream cheese at room temperature

Bake pie shell. Mash enough berries to measure 1 cup. Mix sugar and cornstarch in two-quart saucepan. Gradually stir in water and mashed strawberries. Bring to boil, stirring constantly and once it is boiling continue stirring and cook for one minute. Set aside to cool.

Carefully spread cream cheese in the bottom of the pie shell. Fill the shell with the remaining  berries and pour the cooled sauce over the berries to completely cover them. Let set in the refrigerator at least three hours.

When raspberries and fresh peaches are ready try this same recipe with either one of those fruits, or try a combo with peaches and raspberries. For the combo, I make the cooked sauce from peaches only and then put both fresh peaches and raspberries in the pie shell and garnish with raspberries…….delicious!

Happy Summer!

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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.

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Never a Dull Moment

This is one of my favorite times of the year. The Virginia bluebells are in full bloom along the Potomac River in Great Falls National Park. Our native redbuds are announcing spring with their brilliant violet flowers, the onions, potatoes and early vegetables are planted in my garden and we are already enjoying the early spring greens and winter onions in salads.

 

Virginia Bluebells
Virginia Bluebells

 

 

Redbuds
Redbuds

 

 

Early Veggies
Early Veggies

 

That is not to say we don’t get surprises. Last week, I was teaching my Diamonds class at my shop. We had just begun the class when all of a sudden our shop phone rang, I received one of those alerts on my cell phone and I received an urgent text message from my son-in-law in Oregon (who works on mapping at the U. S. Geological Survey)…all of these simultaneous alerts (including alerts on phones of the students) were telling us that there was a tornado warning for Great Falls and we were to seek immediate shelter.

 

Teaching One

 

Class Work Three

 

Class Work Two

Now we were all on the second floor of our building and could see the suddenly ominous black sky. We all hastily retreated to the basement of our building which houses the utilities. Space was crowded and we got to know each other up close and personal. It was amazing how, not only calm, but jovial the students and staff were in this cramped and dusty place.

 

Basement Hiding Four

 

Basement Hiding One

 

Basement Hiding Two
It was definitely cozy!

 

Basement Hiding Three

 

Student Karen made me laugh at the essentials she brought with her--her fabric and sewing supplies.
Student Karen made me laugh at the essentials she brought with her–her fabric and sewing supplies.

 

Within 15 minutes the danger was over and we resumed the class. The two Canadian ladies, two from West Virginia, and one from California who had traveled here for the class along with the locals were quite excited to let all their friends know about our little adventure. We did learn that several small tornados did touch down not too far from us.

 

Bonnie and Joan from Canada.
Bonnie and Joan from Canada.

 

 

Susan from California.
Susan from California.

 

 

Malloy from Maryland
Mally from Maryland

Working with diamonds is one of my favorite classes to teach and they all made great progress. It is a wonderful opportunity to work on both design and color. Here are some photos of them hard at work and some of the results.

 

Class Work One

 

Student Work One
Susan has come from California several times to take classes from Jinny and this is at least the second (or third) time she’s taken Diamonds. The quilt is the result of what she learn from Jinny before. Isn’t it beautiful?

 

 

 

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Optical Illusions

One of our most popular quilt kits is the Optical Illusions design by Erin Underwood. This quilt is created by sewing strips of colors and background together and then cutting them out with a wedge ruler. The leftovers from one set of wedges creates the second alternating wedges. So, it is super simple to sew.

When you step back from the quilt design, you not only see the checkerboard, but also swirling petals. The effect is achieved with only six colored fabrics.

 

Original Colorway

 

I decided to do a new colorway of this quilt in the ever-popular teals, purples and blues. When I finished, I wondered what had gone wrong. I had my six colors. They shaded nicely together, but I was not getting the “petal effect.”

 

Teal Quilt One
First attempt

 

I studied the two designs and realized that the brightest and lightest colors needed to be at the center of the strips. I had done that with the original quilt but not with the new one. So, I went back to the drawing board and re-shaded the fabrics and created a second version of the design. This time I could see the petals.

 

Teal Quilt Two
The final peacock version with a dark background.

 

You can see here the two sets of wedges. In each set the fabrics are arranged exactly the same. The second wedge in the set is simply turned upside down. It is amazing how different the quilt can look by just changing the order of the fabrics.

 

 

Wedge Sets

Look how different the design looks with a light background instead of a dark. Are the petals more visible on the light background or the dark? Some eyes see it one way and some the other. This is where the “optical” effect plays tricks.

 

Optical Illusions Peacock

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Where Does She Come Up With These Great Ideas?

Jinny is off this week so the staff here at the Studio decided to take over her blog. The takeover was prompted by a discussion of this week’s web special. In the web special, we are offering a bundle of autumn colored fabrics inspired by a photograph of the spectacular colors of the maple tree at the Studio’s front door. How did we get from that photograph to the fabrics for this week’s special?

 

autumn bundle web special- for blog

 

Looking at the image, you will see in the lower left corner the colors taken from the photograph. Jinny explained in her blog in April 2014 how you can do this with any photograph using Photoshop software. From that, she chose eight fabrics ranging from warm golds, oranges and reds to a weathered dark brown. Compare the fabrics with the color palette from Photoshop. Don’t they look wonderful?

 

Autumn Bundle for blog

 

But where there are pretty shaded fabrics, there is always the question of where to use them.

Jinny next went into the Quilter’s Design Board on our website. The Design Board allows you to download hundreds of free quilt blocks, get fabric recommendations, yardage requirements and more. After looking through it, she chose two blocks to play around with. Here is what she started with to get to the two quilts above.

 

Design Board Blocks- Blog

 

Choose the size you want your blocks to be and you can see the templates for each patch and how many you will need along with a handy template guide for how to put your block together.

 

Template Guide

 

You can print the templates directly onto template film. Check out this tutorial on our website.

All that’s left is to pull out your fabric and get started. You can make the scrappy Bear’s Foot or the shaded Pine Tree. You just need a half yard bundle and two yards each of a background and border print. We can’t wait to see what you come up with.

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Lucy Boston Patchwork of the Crosses Block

From the time I first began quilting I experimented with ways to “fussy cut” fabrics to give interest to the blocks I was making. Unbeknownst to me during that same time, an Englishwoman named Lucy Boston (1892-1990) was doing her own experimenting with fabrics and she created many spectacular quilts, probably the most famous being her Patchwork of the Crosses.

 

lucy boston intro block (1)

 

With the renewed interest in hand piecing and working with mirror-imaged fabrics, Lucy’s Patchwork of the Crosses block has become very popular. The block is made with with a single shape–the honeycomb (elongated hexagon). The blocks are then joined with squares.

 

lucy bostgon ill 1 (1)

 

Some people stitch the blocks in the traditional manner and some use the English paper piecing technique. No matter which technique you use, the most fun part is seeing how many different ways you can cut the fabric to create different effects.

 

LB for Blog Illustration 3

 

I experimented with the Patchwork of the Crosses block using just two border print fabrics. Typically a mirror-imaged motif is centered in the middle of the template, such as you see here.

 

LB for Blog Illustration 2

 

But what happens if you deliberately “skew” the template so that the mirror-imaged motif is not centered?

 

LB for Blog Illustration 4

 

Mark a portion of the design onto the template and then flip it and find the mirror-imaged counterpart.

That technique was used in the corners of the two blocks shown above.

As we began playing around with Lucy Boston blocks and hexagons, or “hexies,” last year, we began to carry acrylic and paper templates for these projects making the process faster and easier. We also have some tips on our website for fussy cutting border prints for these projects. We’ve been having so much fun with these. Why don’t you give it a try?

 

Here are some more Patchwork of the Crosses blocks done by our staffer Diane.
Here are some more Patchwork of the Crosses blocks done by our staffer Diane.