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Creating a Quilt with Irish Heather Fabrics

Last month I wrote a blog post on getting color inspiration from a photograph. I gathered fabrics that matched those colors and created the Irish Heather grand bundle of 45 different fabrics. I showed a quilt I created from those fabrics and arranged triangles in the traditional Thousand Pyramids style. So you have the bundle of 45 fabrics, you have the design, but the question arises about how to get a good distribution of the colors and that is what I want to talk about this week.

 

 

Any time I do a quilt like this, I like to work in “units.” It is easier to get a good distribution of the colors from a smaller unit than it is to try and visualize the entire quilt. Check out the first Irish Heather blog on how these colors came about.

For this quilt I had two units (A and B). The black and white sketch shows that in A the dark triangles are pointing upward and are across the bottom of the triangle. In B, the lights are across the bottom and pointing upward. To create the quilt, these two units are alternated with Unit B turned 180 degrees.  Half units fill in the sides.

 

 

 

 

Please note that in the above illustrations, all the darks are very dark and all the lights are very light. There is a lot more interest if some of the darks are lighter and some of the lights are darker. Any light triangle only has to be lighter than all the dark ones surrounding it and likewise any dark triangle only has to be darker than all the light ones surrounding it.  Compare the difference between the illustrations above and the one below.

 

 

The next task was to create those units in fabric. Each unit has 25 fabrics—15 darks and 10 lights for Unit A and 15 lights and 10 darks for Unit B.  In each one I tried to get a good balance of all the colors in the bundle as well as a good balance between values from light to dark.

 

 

When I put several of the units together I wasn’t sure I was getting the colors the way I wanted them. Comparing what I had to the photo I realized I needed more of the pinks and blues and less of some of the other colors.

 

 

So I made two additional units (C and D). For these units I had more of the blues and pinks. And then in the final quilt I alternated all four units.

 

 

 

 

While I made this quilt digitally with only the fabrics from the Irish Heather grand bundle, if I were doing it in actual fabric I would add many more fabrics from my stash that fall within the same range of colors. My philosophy is the more fabrics the better. In fact, this particular design was a favorite one to use when making a charm quilt…a type of quilt popular from the late 1800’s to early 1900…but that is a whole other story to pursue in future blog posts.

Why not give this quilt a try? Here are the two templates that I used in creating the quilt shown here. In addition to the templates, you will also find yardage requirements for the borders and some basic instructions. I hope you have fun with it. Look for additional Irish Heather bundles in upcoming Weekly Web Specials.

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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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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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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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Happy Thanksgiving

I have been a bit lax in sending out blogs, but it has been an extremely busy time. We spent a lot of time getting ready for Quilters’ Quest, our annual shop hop. Over the summer and early fall, I designed, hand pieced and hand quilted our Third Rock quilt.

 

 

Next, I went to Quilt Market in Houston. It is always fun to see shop owners and old friends plus find new items to carry at the Studio.  Upon my return, I faced the 10 days of the shop hop. I love to be at the shop during Quest and am the “official greeter and passport stamper.” So I was there every day at least from 9 am to 7 pm and for the four days of our bus tour I was there from 7 am until 7 pm. While it was tiring it was even more exhilarating, meeting new people and seeing friends who have come in the past.

 

 

 

 

Our theme this year was “movies” and we chose “Around the World in 80 Days”. We had a popcorn machine (how can you see a movie without having popcorn?), hot air balloon lanterns, flags of the world and other products and decorations relating to the theme.

 

 

All in all it was a fun 10 days and we had a lot of participants from outside our local region. Why not think about participating in the Quest next year?

Many of you who have seen the Third Rock quilt have asked if there is a kit or pattern. Unfortunately, to make one just like my Quest quilt you have to have participated in the Quest since you needed to collect the swatches of 6” squares from each shop. However, I also designed the quilt in batik fabrics.

 

 

The kit comes in the two colorways shown here and has everything you need for the top and binding. While it looks very complex, it is actually quite easy to sew. The quilt is made with all straight line sewing, even though it has the illusion of curves. The kit also includes full size foundations printed on tissue paper.

Now that Quest is over, it is time for my favorite holiday of the year and I want to wish all of you a very Happy Thanksgiving!

The shop will be closed on Thursday, November 23 but will reopen at 10:00 am on Friday, November 24. Hope to see you soon!

 

 

Jinny

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Fall Frenzy

Fall is always busy for us at the shop. This is when we kick it into gear making kits, designing patterns and making all sorts of preparations for our annual shop hop, Quilters’ Quest. This is always a fun event. Our theme this year is “movies” and we selected “Around the World in Eighty Days” as our movie, so, of course, I had to design a quilt for our shop with the world somehow involved. I showed you bits and pieces of it in progress, but now it is complete, including the quilting.

 

Quilt Quilt for Blog 2017

 

Quilting on Quest 2017 Quilt

This quilt is foundation pieced and went together quicker than you can imagine. We call it Third Rock. It was made with the Quest Cuts, 6-inch squares that each shop will have available throughout the Quest. These are free with a $30 or more purchase, or can be bought for $4.00.  Each of the shops has made a quilt using the squares. As you travel during the shop hop, collect the free pattern for each shop’s quilt…10 new quilt patterns in all!

I used more than half of the 80 squares in Third Rock and then used the rest for another easy-to-make quilt that would be perfect for a little girl.  We are still adding the borders but will share this quilt with you soon.

To update you on our Hurricane Harvey quilts, we sent off our first batch of quilts to benefit the victims, more than 25 in all, and we still have more coming in. It was fun working with and meeting people who participated.

Chris, from North Carolina, even dropped by on her way to New York and brought four finished quilts to add to our ever-growing pile.

 

Chris from Roth Carolina

We used fabrics from our scrap bin to make some of the quilts. Here are two with the identical fabrics except for the dark and light sashing strips. It was fun to see how different they looked with just that one change.

 

Different Sashing

On a different note, do you recognize this vegetable?

Mystery Veggie

I’m still getting this vegetable, sweet and hot peppers, lettuce, tomatoes and raspberries from my garden. The winter onions are just popping up and I should have fall cabbage soon.

So, what is this vegetable?

I peel it, slice it raw, add some fresh mandarin orange pieces and lime juice and it makes a fabulous, refreshing salad. A few pecans are also good tossed in if you like. I grew this last year for the first time and will now always have it as part of my garden.

Do you have a guess?  Why it’s jicama!

Happy Quilting!

Jinny

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Join Us on the Quilters’ Quest Bus

Jinny has turned the blog over to me today so let me introduce myself. My name is Nancy Fallone and I’m half of the marketing team here at the Studio. That job keeps me behind the curtain at the Studio or at the keyboard at home working on newsletters, web specials, classes, Facebook and such but what I want to talk about today is the most fun part of my job. That would be organizing and riding on the Quilters’ Quest buses.

 

Ladies on Bus

 

Quilters’ Quest is our annual shop hop which encourages quilters to explore 10 area quilt shops this year running from November 9th through the 18th. For details on how the Quest works, visit http://www.quiltersquest.org/.

 

Quest Quilts

 

For many, driving to each of those shops can seem a bit daunting so we offer the option of riding one of our Quest buses.  As in the past, we have two buses, one on the weekend and one during the week each covering all 10 shops, each in two days. Jinny is there to greet you bright and early each morning with a continental breakfast and the chance to shop before the Studio officially opens. We then bid the Studio farewell and the true fun starts.

 

The Material Girls always have lots to tempt us.
The Material Girls always have lots to tempt us.

 

While traveling from shop to shop, the former park ranger in me just can’t resist passing along not only information on the next shop but a bit of area history and attractions. To ensure an attentive audience, prizes are given out in our famous trivia contests. We provide beverages and snacks along with an optional bag lunch.

 

What quilter wouldn’t smile with so much beautiful fabric and all those amazing quilts.
What quilter wouldn’t smile with so much beautiful fabric and all those amazing quilts.

 

Every shop on the Quest has a unique feel with new and different items.  There are demos and special projects many using fabric designed exclusively for that year’s Quest.

 

Dick and Wendy from Traditions at the White Swan
Dick and Wendy from Traditions at the White Swan

 

My favorite part of the Quest, though, is spending time with the wonderful quilters from across the country (and sometimes from around the world) who join us. I don’t know how we get so lucky to have such a great group each year.

 

It is always wonderful to see how well everyone gets along.
It is always wonderful to see how well everyone gets along.

 

I recently asked one of the quilters who has been with us each year about why she keeps coming back all the way from upstate New York. Linda had seen the Quest advertised in the newsletter but didn’t want to drive it.  When the bus trip started, she bribed her daughter, Belynda, who didn’t quilt or sew, into going with her by paying her way.  By the second shop, Belynda was buying fabric with ideas for what her mom could make.  But guess who sews now.

 

Mom, Linda, and daughter, Belynda, never miss a Quest bus trip.
Mom, Linda, and daughter, Belynda, never miss a Quest bus trip.

 

Linda writes “Last year when Belynda was expecting our wonderful gift of a granddaughter, we bought lots of fabric to make things for the baby. I said to her that I supposed that that would be our last Quest bus trip.  Her comment was ‘What are you talking about? My husband is perfectly capable of babysitting for 2 days!’”

Our weekend Quest bus is Friday and Saturday, November 10th & 11th (with just a few seats left) and our weekday bus is Wednesday and Thursday, November 15th & 16th.  Details can be found on our website. We would love to have you join us!

 

At the end of two days of serious shop hopping, everyone is still full of smiles.
At the end of two days of serious shop hopping, everyone is still full of smiles.

 

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Quilts for Comfort

The natural disasters which have occurred during the last month have been heart wrenching. Everyone wants to make some contribution to help and the funds pouring in to the relief organizations have been very generous. But somehow writing a check does not necessarily go to the heart of our soul. Physically doing something somehow makes us feel better, as though we are sending a tangible sign of our caring.

 

Jinny sewing for Harvey

 

Here at the Studio, quilts from all over have been sent to us and we will be mailing the first batch of quilts next week to Austin, Texas, to the Linus Connection.

 

One of the beautifully donated quilt tops we received.
One of the beautiful quilt tops we received.

 

Diane holding a donated quilt top.
Diane holding a donated quilt top.

 

 

We have received quilts from all over the U.S. Several of you have sent quilt tops and pre-cut squares of fabric. We have spent the last two Tuesdays at the shop making quilt tops, distributing backing and batting to people who are quilting the tops for us. We send a big “thank you” to Quilters Dream Batting in Virginia Beach for donating a large roll of batting to the cause.

 

Marge with her finished quilt and Carole working on her quilt.
Marge with her finished quilt and Carole working on another.

 

 

Diane sewing for Harvey.
Diane putting the finishing touches on a quilt top.

 

 

Pat working on her quilt.
Pat laying out her blocks.

 

This week I am off to visit my grandchildren. I decided this would be a perfect opportunity to let them help in the effort.

We received several packs of pre-cut squares to make into a quilt. These were all sorted into bags based on design. One bag contained brightly printed squares with cats and fish on them. I selected enough squares to do a small quilt and am taking them with me so the grandchildren and I can piece them. I’ll explain about the hurricane victims and how they can help in the effort to give some means of comfort to a small child whose family has lost everything.

 

Kids with Swatches

 

My daughter and son-in-law also have a 17-year-old foreign exchange student living with them. What do you think my chances are of enlisting the help of this young man? I’ll keep you posted on our progress via my blog or on Facebook.

Jinny

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Update on Quilts for Harvey Victims

We have had a lot of interest from people wanting to donate quilts or help make quilts for Hurricane Harvey victims. Our classroom space is fairly small, so if you are planning to come to help at our first Quilt-in on Tuesday, Sept. 12 from 10 to 4, we would like you to call the shop and specify what time you plan to come. Please let us know if you plan to here 10-1,  1-4 or all day (10-4). You can call us at 703-759-0250.

 

stack of quilts

At the shop we will work on quilts made from five-inch squares. If you have some pre-cut squares to add to the stack you are welcome to bring them. Please bring a sewing machine and basic sewing supplies.

We also have limited amount of batting and backing for quilt tops you want to donate. Bring those as well so we can find the best color and size for your quilts.

We have been in contact with the Linus Connection in Austin, Texas about sending the quilts to them, and this is the response we received.

Thank you so much for getting in touch!

Our organization is geared specifically toward children from preemie up to age 17, but we will not turn larger quilts away when there is so much need. Our usual focus is comfort quilts in all sizes, but  due to the extraordinary circumstances, we can take anything up to about twin size.

Quilts and blankets will be distributed through the Austin Disaster Relief Network. They are sharing with both evacuees in Austin shelters as well as taking supplies to affected communities throughout the Gulf area.

We’ve distributed over 200 quilts and blankets so far and have a new pile of lovely donated quilts and blankets growing for our next delivery.

Have a great week!

Jennifer Ofenstein

The Linus Connection is a Federal 501(c)(3) organization. All donations are tax deductible.

Thanks to all of you reading this for any help or donations.

Jinny