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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.

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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.

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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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Garden Club of Virginia

It has been a year since the Garden Club of Virginia asked if we would be willing to have our house and gardens on the annual Historic Garden Week tour which takes place each year at this time. I have been working ever since getting the house and gardens in tip top shape.

 

Hellebore and boxwood abound.

 

With the tour taking place after a spell of unusual weather, I worried that there might not be any color, that it would be after the redbud and dogwood bloom and before many of the perennials, peonies and other flowering trees and shrubs were out. But we have had a late and cool spring and with the redbuds just starting to bloom, the dogwoods are beginning to open their flowers, late daffodils are still out and my ever-favorite spring perennial, the hellebores, are still in full glory.

 

Redbud encircling the property will be in full bloom.

 

I thought those of you who cannot come on the house and garden tour might like a little preview of some of what is blooming. Also, you can get a sneak peak at some parts of our house in this video clip that was filmed a couple of weeks ago. The shop owners who are all a part of our annual Quilters’ Quest Shop Hop met at my house for some of the planning for this year’s event.

 

Come and see the cherry blossoms…

 

 

and the lilacs…

 

I will be at the shop tomorrow from 10-4 on April 24th to greet people from the tour and others who would like to take a drive and enjoy our beautiful spring.

 

and the daffodils…

 

 

and don’t forget the Virginia bluebells!

 

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Creating a tessellating design from a traditional block.

We get questions periodically from our blog or from Facebook. One came in recently from Catherine S. who said she was looking for an old tessellating pattern of mine called Wind Chimes. I looked for it in my encyclopedia of more than 4,000 pieced patterns, The Quilter’s Album of Patchwork Patterns. It wasn’t there so I realized I must have forgotten about it and failed to include it in the book. I then searched for the name on my computer and found it! I designed it in 1999.

 

 

I realized that this block was a good subject for a blog (thank you, Catherine), mainly because it illustrates how different a design can look and how you can create an interlocking or tessellating pattern from a traditional design.

First of all, the block itself is an adaptation of an old traditional block known as Windblown Square or Balkan Puzzle. I made two changes in that block to create Wind Chimes. I divided the center square into triangles and eliminated the lines shown.

 

 

Most people would color either of those two designs in a traditional way as shown below.

 

 

However, to create an interlocking or tessellating design you color it differently. Two opposite quarter sections are colored dark and the other two opposite quarter sections are colored light.

 

 

To get the interlocking effect, four blocks are pinwheeled with the darks coming together at the center; then these four block units repeat to form the design.

In the original quilt I did not color the center triangles light and dark but used a border print in those four triangles. It is easier than it seems to create a border print square by fussy-cutting four identical triangles from a border print fabric. Click here to see my lesson on how it’s done. 

 

 

Through the years, I have taken many traditional blocks and made subtle changes to give them an entirely different look when made into a quilt. Give it a try. You’ll be amazed at what you can create.

I will be teaching a class on Designing Tessellations at the Studio next week for all of you who are interested in this fascinating technique, there are still some openings. Hope to see you there!

 

 

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The Background Makes a Difference

With our new BOM, Kyoto Mystery, fresh in my mind and as I was working on a quilt design for a new fabric collection, I couldn’t help but think of the very first Block of the Month quilt that I created, Moon Glow, back in 2000. It has undoubtedly been the most popular quilt pattern and kit I have designed.

But I have a little story to tell you about Moon Glow. I’m telling you this because I was struggling with what to do for a background on the new quilt I am working on for the upcoming Denim collection.

Moon Glow has 12 different compass style blocks alternating with a log cabin style block. My friend, Carole, was helping me with the quilt so we could meet the deadline for RJR. I pieced the compass blocks by hand and Carole did the other blocks by machine.

 

 

Once all the blocks were complete we laid them out to see how they all looked. We were very disappointed. There was just too much contrast between the compass blocks and the alternate blocks. The design seemed more disjointed than cohesive. All that work and the design just wasn’t looking right. We finally determined that it was the light background behind the compass blocks and that they would look better with a black background. It was too much work to take out the light and replace it so we decided we needed to make a new set of blocks with a black background. We donated the discarded blocks to a fundraising venture and started again. Here you can see an image of the light background versus a dark background. Do you agree with our decision?

 

 

So, as I was working on Denim Star, I had the same problem. There was just too much contrast between the background and the rest of the design. I’ll have images to share with you as soon as RJR releases the collection and the quilt pattern is ready sometime in late summer or early fall. It will be a free download.

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Busy Month – At Least We Are Not Bored

 

It has been a super busy month. We started selling kits for our new Block of the Month (BOM) mystery quilt, Kyoto Mystery, as soon as the March newsletter went out and have been busy getting the kits in the mail. Judging from the response, you are as excited about this as we are. Be sure you are signed up for our free monthly newsletter because the first clue and video lesson will appear in the April newsletter which will go out on April 7, around 5:30 PM EDT.  If you are not yet signed up, you can sign up on our website here.

 

 

Adding to the hustle and bustle going on is that we are in the throes of launching a new web site. In 1990 my son, who had started a fledgling web site development business, said I needed a website and proceeded to set one up for me. He eventually sold his business and we have been with that company ever since. Now they are handling much larger clients with more sophisticated software and can no longer continue supporting our site. So, for the last year we have been in the process of developing a new site. We are letting you know this so you won’t be shocked when one day you come to find us and will be greeted with a new look.

 

 

Many of you may be like me. I hate it when I go to a site that I visit often and find it all changed around. We are working hard, though, to get everything moved over to the new site. Have patience and you’ll find that all of the tips, lessons, products, etc. are still there. It may take you a few minutes to get acclimated to the new look.

And with all of this going on, we had some truly unusual weather. The big east coast windstorm hit our area and knocked out power to many homes and businesses. Our shop was without power for two days and at my house, it was four days before we got our power back. I couldn’t help but think of the poor people in Puerto Rico who are still without power and count my own blessings that it was only four days for us. So many people north of Virginia have been hit worse by the storm and another is on the way.

 

 

Have heart. Spring is on the way. I always know it is close when I am greeted with the beautiful blooming Hellebores in my yard.

 

 

 

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Learn Without Leaving Your Sewing Room

Often I hear comments from some of you that you wish you lived closer and could take advantage of some the classes that I teach. Many of you watch our class calendar and plan your trips to the Washington, DC area so that you can attend my classes. One of the most popular ones I teach is Quiltmaking by Hand. In that class, I cover all of the techniques you would need to know to tackle any hand piecing project. Those techniques include:

Supplies to have on hand
The basic running stitch
Making templates
Joining 4 points
Sewing curves
Joining 3 points
Joining 8 points
Setting in seams
Working with border prints

 

 

It occurred to me as I was proofing the DVD containing all of the video lessons for the 2017 Mystery Quilt, Moroccan Mystery, that everything I teach in my Quiltmaking by Hand class can be found in that DVD. The lessons in the DVD include all the techniques described above. You do not need to make the Moroccan Mystery quilt to learn the techniques. The DVD works as a stand-alone product for learning all the basics of hand piecing.

 

 

Speaking of a “mystery quilt,” our 2018 Mystery Quilt, Kyoto Mystery, will be launching April 7th. Subscribers to our newsletter will receive the first clue and video lesson on that day. The quilt is rectangular, 59” x 63”, and we are preparing kits in the four colorways shown here. Those kits will be available for purchase starting March 3rd. Keep an eye out for our March newsletter.

Watch this video teaser for more information on our new BOM mystery quilt.

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Looking Ahead to the New Year

The new year has started off with a flurry of activity. After a great week over the holidays with the grandkids out west (Polly loves her Ever Sewn Sparrow 20 sewing machine and has already put it to a lot of work and Emmett loves his drum set…given after I checked with the parents first) and a week recovering from the bug everyone has, I dug in and started preparing for all that lay ahead this year.

 

 

First off, I’m putting the final touches on our 2018 Block of the Month program. Everyone loved the mystery quilt theme last year so we decided to do another this year. Several of you asked for the quilt to be a little larger so it could be used as a lap quilt or throw so we have made it both rectangular and larger. The size of the quilt is 58” x 63”.

 

 

Once again there are video lessons to go along with each clue and the pattern and lessons are free to subscribers of our newsletter. If you do not receive our free monthly newsletters, be sure to sign up on our homepage. The first clue will appear in the April newsletter.

I have designed this year’s quilt in four colorways and we will have kits available. Information on ordering the kits will be in our February newsletter.

On another note, we have already had our first meeting for the 2018 Quilters’ Quest, our annual shop hop. The most important thing for now is to mark the dates on your calendar. Because Quilt Market and Festival in Houston are a week later this year we didn’t want to push our dates any closer to Thanksgiving. Therefore, the 2018 Quest is scheduled for October 19th through 28th. The weather should be warmer, the fall colors beautiful for your drive, and we will not yet have set our clocks back so it will be lighter! All good and we look forward to another successful year.

 

 

This past Quest we had many people attend from out of the area. In fact, we had people from 32 of our states and four foreign countries. We hope to see even more of you this year. Each of the shops will be having at least one bus. So, leave the driving to us and sign up for one of the two-day bus tours. More information on the days of the buses will be available soon.

In this cold winter, at least here in the states, bundle up and have fun quilting!

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‘Tis the Season…For Quilting!

It is hard to believe that fall is past! Winter Solstice is upon us. This fall was such a whirlwind of activity beginning with visit to Oregon to see our grandchildren (and of course their parents), the Studio’s anniversary sale, then all of the preparations for our annual shop hop with Quilt Market sandwiched in. We also flew to California to spend Thanksgiving with one of our sons and his wife and are preparing to fly to Oregon for the Christmas holidays. It should be lots of fun.

A few weeks ago my 9 year old granddaughter informed me that she wants a sewing machine for Christmas along with lots of fabric…so how could I resist? She and her younger brother, Emmett,  did such a great job a year ago when they came to visit and I introduced them to the sewing machine. She took to it so quickly that I think she is ready. I got her a good beginner machine, the EverSewn Sparrow 20. I’ll keep you informed on how it goes.

 

 

 

 

 

Amidst all of this I have been busy preparing for our 2018 Mystery Quilt. We had such a great response to this year’s quilt that we decided on the “mystery” concept again. I have designed the quilt in four colorways and there are a variety of techniques covered. As I did last year, we will film video lessons to go along with each clue. We have listened to your feedback and will once again have a smaller quilt. This time it will be a little larger, rectangular in shape and will be suitable for a throw, lap quilt or wall hanging. We are still finalizing the lessons and patterns and plan to have the first clue in either March or April.

On another note, I have a great gift or decorating idea. As the new year approaches, many of you will be in full-on mode planning weddings and either baby or bridal showers. During the 29 years of my annual Hilton Head Seminar, one of the decisions that always had to be made was what to do about the centerpieces at the banquet tables. Depending on how large the event, centerpieces can be quite costly.

 

 

This year at Quilt Market we found the Vase and Vessels Pattern by Amy Barickman for Indygo Junction. I came home from market with the pattern in hand and made a couple of vases using border print fabrics. The technique is similar to English Paper Piecing except the fabric is fused over the Fabriflair stabilizer instead of basted over papers. As I was working, the idea suddenly hit me that this would be a perfect project for a centerpiece for an event. Use the event colors and select fabrics to match those colors. Depending on the size of your vase, put a pint or quart Mason jar inside the vase and then select flowers in similar colors, as I did in the picture above. At the end of the event, one lucky person at the table could be the recipient of the centerpiece!

I want to take this opportunity to wish all of you a very happy holiday season! If you are going to be in the Washington D.C. area over the holidays, we would love to see you. We will be closed both Christmas and New Year’s Day.

Jinny