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Quilters’ Quest 2019 is Right Around the Corner!

This is a very busy time for us at the Studio. We are in the middle of our retail shop anniversary sale which is followed soon after by our annual shop hop, Quilters’ Quest, from October 11th through the 20th.

The theme for this year’s shop hop is books. Each shop has chosen a favorite book and will use that particular book to decorate the shop. We’ll have special related items available for the people who take part in the Quest.

Our Quest colors are traditional ones reminiscent of a long-established library that fit the “book” theme. Each shop has put together a pack of six 10” squares using those colors. All of the shop owners got together and traded fabric squares and then created a quilt using those fabrics. Many shops have finishing kits to help you in making their quilt. You will collect a free pattern for each shop’s quilt as you travel the Quest, then have fun deciding on which quilt you would like to make!

 

 

I wanted our quilt to fit the book theme. I tried a variety of designs that all seemed too complex, then one of my staffers suggested a design like my quilt Inner City which she thought looked like books. I took the idea, elongated the pieces and created my new version calling it Open Book.

 

Inner City

 

 

 

Don’t panic! While the design looks involved with lots of angles, it is actually very easy to sew with all straight line sewing.

All the shop owners agreed that our fabrics would be in the mid-range with no super lights and no very darks. That way each shop could add what they wanted to fit their design. The first thing I did was to sort the fabrics into groups – very dark, dark, medium, and light. I added a few fabrics in the very dark and light ranges. The lightest fabrics would be the pages of the books, the others the book covers.

 

 

Then the fun started. I found C See’s 18” portable design mat invaluable as I laid out the pieces one section at a time. Then I could roll it up and the pieces would stay in place until I was ready to sew. The pattern writer, Elaine Kelly, did a masterful job in breaking the design down into easy assembly instructions.

 

 

Once the inside was complete I had to decide on a border for the quilt. Such a bold design needed a strong border. I opted to set the center off by adding a border of two stripes from my mini-stripe fabric, followed by the wide stripe of the Casablanca border print.

The finished top is 52” x 56”. I am now in the middle of hand quilting it and I hope to have all the quilting complete by the time Quest starts.

 

I continue to quilt on Open Book each evening.

 

It was such fun creating Open Book but I had lot of leftover pieces that were already cut and waiting to be sewn. I also had the narrow stripe from the Casablanca border and leftover mini stripe. So, I decided to make a “bonus” quilt from the extra pieces. The result of that is Stacks. One complete set of swatches collected from each shop and our finishing kit will make both quilts.

 

 

The Quest is fast approaching. I hope you will be able to join us.

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Backgrounds Make a Difference

Last month we introduced Group 2 of the Rainbow Grand Bundle. Using my quilt pattern Night and Day as an illustration, I wrote a post about the proportions of colors, how they can change the appearance of a quilt design and how different a design looks with either a very light or a very dark background.

 

Night and Day with a light background.

 

This month, going a step further, I illustrate the same fabrics in the same strip configurations but with a medium color as the background. The second border had to be changed to one of the dark fabrics because there was not enough contrast between it and the background fabric used in the remaining borders.

As promised, the revised pattern using 28 fabrics rather than the original 14 is now ready for you to download for free.

 

Last month’s versions of Night and Day.

 

Which version of the designs shown this month and last is best? We all have different opinions so it is up to you to pick your favorite!

Jinny

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Proportions of Color

With the second mini-bundle of our Rainbow’s End Grand Bundle coming out this week as part of our web special, it seemed a good time to talk about how the proportions of colors used can dramatically affect the overall image of the quilt.

When you look at a palette of colors you might say to yourself that you do not like it because there’s too much of this color and not enough of that. But keep in mind that you’re seeing equal amounts of each color. And how your quilt appears will depend on the amount of each color that you use. So I decided to illustrate this with one of my designs, a long time favorite, Night and Day.

 

 

I created Night and Day several years ago and it is a perfect design to experiment with. The original design was based two different of sets of strips with seven fabrics in each set. The colors shaded within each set from light to dark. I wanted to use more fabrics for the Rainbow’s End version so I created four different strip sets shading from light to dark instead of two as in the original. This new version has 28 of the 35 fabrics in the complete Rainbow’s End Grand Bundle.

 

 

The idea of a Day and a Night quilt came about after cutting identical triangles from each strip set. The leftover triangles didn’t get used. The triangles cut from one side of the strip set had larger pieces of the lighter fabrics than those cut from the other side which had more of the darker fabrics. So from just these four strip sets, I created one quilt with the lighter triangles and a second one with the leftover darker ones.

 

 

I deliberately put a light background on Day  and a dark one on Night, as shown above, but look how different the quilts look where I swap borders and background.

 

 

To make these quilts, you will need either the 1/2 yard or full yard bundle. Next time I will show you more background possibilities and I will also have the new revised Night and Day pattern ready for you to download.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.