I’m into Squares

AQuilt_croppeddvanced quilters will have to refrain from laughing at my puny quilting efforts. Those who want to learn basic quilting, read on. Especially if you’re an experienced garment sewer like I am, eager to expand your horizons into new prints, colors and techniques. Here’s the story of my latest simple quilt.

I have been dutifully trying to use cottons from my acquired stash. It seems to me, though, that to finish projects one has to acquire yet more fabrics because you don’t have just the right patterns, stripes or solids in quantity. This time, I put out a plea to my local recycling Web site: Did anyone have fabric they were not using, so I could “finish up” projects or make lap quilts for charity? Why, yes they did. And they would be more than happy to have me pick it up from their porches or homes. In large bins. All of the fabrics you see in the pictured sample are the result. The bluish-looking solid is actually a spruce green. The red is a floral, the cream is a leafy lattice, and there’s a floral element to the dark green striped fabric. Despite the flora, and no holiday element whatsoever, my quilt looks like Christmas. Which makes it less useful, I’m afraid, as a lap quilt or to give away. I’m less enthused about it myself, in the early summertime, though the colors are lovely.

The real simplicity to this project is the squares. It’s impossible to miss if you’re a really creative quilter. My quilt has only squares! I use a “strip” quilting method, and over time I’ve perfected the quarter-inch (1/4″) seam allowance so that in the sample above, the corners match beautifully. Though I’ve read many techniques for creating triangles, especially ones that won’t distort on the bias, I’ve never tried to cut or sew triangles! There–it’s out now! I can’t be frightened of the technique, which is well explained, but I do fear combining colors and prints. After all, a triangle meets up with another triangle, and each should complement the other somehow. But soon, soon I hope to try a whole bunch of triangles. And maybe some off-set columns (strips). You see, I have a lot of fabric to practice with!


Gift Pillow

detail of knife edge pillowA guest room at my brother’s home has rust brown color sheets, so I decided on these colors for a simple pillow. I’m happy with the result, which is neither country cute nor too modern. I first had in mind a cover for a travel pillow that was resting on the bed. Silly me, I thought all travel pillows were the same size! So this square pillow is the result instead. It’s on its way in the mail, and I hope it will be enjoyed.

I used a “knife edge” technique that makes the corners tuck in instead of sticking out — with no stuffing to give them definition. The photo below shows the detail, and it’s easy to do. Wrong side out, select a short distance in from the corners. One-half inch might do, or one inch. Draw a dot or an “X” using chalk or a disappearing fabric marker. Then use a large dinner plate or some other round flat object to taper a line towards both edges. Those lines, along with a regular seam allowance, are the lines you’ll stitch along. Proceed with trimming and turning inside out as usual.

When this type of pillow is turned to the right side and filled, the corners have a nice shape — worthy of gift giving. Of course there are many other pillow creation techniques, but it’s the one I chose for this pillow. And with that, I say “Happy Holidays”!



soundstitches sewing blog gift pillow

Table Runner

RunnerNow that this gift has been given out and nicely received, I can post this table runner that I made for my second cousin Molly, at whose lovely house in the sunny desert we spent the holidays. I don’t tackle too many quilt projects — I favor garments — so it had to be something easy to finish and something classy and artistic (just like my recipient). I chose — and bought new — one (subtly) printed black and one printed white fabric. When I bought these I was sure I would do stripes, but I knew I had something good when I found a gray lightweight wool in my stash to provide contrast. The batting is a layer of sweatshirt material (reduce, reuse…!), the backing is the white print fabric, and the binding as you can see is the black print. To determine the width of strips, use your ultimate measurements and divide into the numbers of strips. (Very generally!) With such a small project, getting enough length in a strip is usually not a problem.

Molly’s home is black, white and cream. She’s an artist, and appreciates bold textures more than colors. This gift rolled up nicely in my baggage for a plane trip, and it looks lovely on her modern glass table. (This picture is taken on my wood table.)

When it comes to making gifts for an upcoming deadline such as a holiday, I try to keep it simple to avoid becoming overly-stressed. This was just such a gift — fun to make, easy to present, decorative and useful.

Feast of Color and Pattern

This post simply highlights a bedspread that my sewing student Shari has on her bed. She acquired it in South Africa while she and her family were living there. No need to embellish this fabric — the colors from various items of clothing speak for themselves. The simple shapes give the stage to all the fantastic patterns. The sun was coming in through a window as I took this picture and I can see why Shari loves the bedspread. It’s a perfect synergy — a creation worth more than the sum of its parts.

Stock Up at StashFest

Soundstitches sewing blog StashFest_bannerOn March 31st and April 1st, the Northwest Quilt Museum in La Conner, Washington hosts StashFest. The Northwest Quilt Museum is one of only 18 quilt museums, with StashFest as a primary fundraiser. If you live in the region, it’s worth the drive, because it’s not just a stash sale. There are the “StashFest Experiences,” with well-known speakers. I think of Lorraine Torrence garment pattern designer and teacher, but she’s also a quilting guru; she’s presenting on “quilt therapy.” Most of the other speakers described at StashFest.com are known for their quilting techniques, which makes sense for the location at the Northwest Quilt Museum!

Door prizes, a book sale and a flea market round out the weekend. It sounds like loads of fun and a great way to get out with a friend. There’s so much more information on their Web site — have a look so you can build the case for a day out! StashFest.com

Quilt for Auction

This lovely quilt was brought to our regular “show and tell” by North Seattle ASG member Jean Meier. The quilt, constructed of blocks to which raw edge circular shapes are attached, will be auctioned at the Spring for Seniors event benefitting the Ballard Northwest Senior Center. I just love the modern mix of colors, shapes and techniques that Jean incorporated.

The event is March 25, 2012 at 5:00 p.m., Leif Erickson Hall. More details on the Ballard NW Senior Center Web site.

You too can show off your garment and quilting projects — and learn from others — by attending a local American Sewing Guild meeting. We have very active neighborhood groups in the Puget Sound area. How about your area? To search for locations, click American Sewing Guild.

Postage-Stamp Quilting

SoundStitches blog
Heart Mountain, Wyoming

You’ve probably noticed a very low percentage of quilting-related posts on my blog. I’m a much more productive and effective garment sewer. But here’s a nice quilting tidbit from a book of letters from a homesteading woman in Wyoming that I read a while back:

I went to a quilting party yesterday… at Mrs. Werts’. She had two quilts she wanted quilted, so she furnished the dinner… and the ladies did the quilting. Both quilts were what is called postage stamp quilts, in which the blocks of cloth used are the size of an ordinary postage stamp. Fancy cutting that many pieces and then sewing them all together again!

Letters from Honeyhill: A Woman’s View of Homesteading 1914-1931

Fancy that! Well I wouldn’t fancy that, and I would call it a crazy quilt! (Another kind of scrap quilting.) But back then, people might have had a wide variety of postage-stamp sized scraps, all of which came in the form of expensive ready-made clothing, so what to do with all of it? This postage-stamp scrap quilt is all these things and more: it’s creative, it’s thrifty, it’s recycle/reuse/remake, and it’s green. It’s not Handmade Revolution but Handmade Survival. What would you call it? And do you think us modern types have lost that kind of creativity, or necessity?