Saturday, December 31, 2011

Last Stitch projects of 2011

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I’ve been on a bit of a blogging hiatus between the inevitable Christmas crush and some exciting work stuff that must remain under wraps for now, but since we’re ticking the final hours of 2011 away, I thought I’d best get around to posting my projects from the Winter and Gifts issues of Stitch—I think they’re still on newsstands, so I’m not totally out of date!

I was thrilled to see my Wool Petals Pillow on the cover. If you’ve got a stash of wool, it’s one of those deceptively simple projects that looks more luxe than it really deserves to. Unfortunately the pillow is now stashed in the closet to keep little claws from “inspecting” it…

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Said claws thankfully don’t seem to be as interested in my other wool project for the Winter issue, the Silver Dollar Rug. The Other had a grey wool coat that was getting no use here in California, so I felted it and cut it into big circles as a larger-scale riff on penny rugs. We moved this summer into a house with wood floors, so we’re finally able to enjoy fun throw rugs.

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I’ve long thought trapunto was ripe for a modern interpretation, and this Chain-Link Trapunto Pillow was the eventual result. The slight brown tinge in the image isn’t a misprint: the silk I used was cross-woven with teal in one direction and brown in the other, which is especially striking for dimensional techniques like this. I love how the pillow turned out and I’m itching to make some similar pillows with other designs.

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It’s a little late to be showing a tree skirt—though I could certainly use with a head start for next Christmas! This Color-Wheel Tree Skirt is a fun way to use a large-scale holiday print.

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WI11_C1_bag_r5.pdfPatterns for the previous projects are all in the Winter 2011 issue of Stitch; these Snowflake Table Linens are in the Gifts 2011 issue. There’re placemats, napkins, and napkin rings included, all made with English paper piecing using snowflake prints and some snowflake embroidery. I always say the best thing about snowflakes is that they’re festive for the holidays but still seasonal if the decorations don’t get put away on Boxing Day. (Which, needless to say, never happens around here.)

I hope you all had a lovely holiday and wish you happy sewing in the new year!

Thursday, November 03, 2011

New pattern: Peacocks on Parade

Peacocks on Parade pattern covers

The past week has been a flurry of trips to the printer and putting finishing touches on the page layouts, and now I’m thrilled to announce my newest Feed Dog Designs pattern—Peacocks on Parade!

Peacocks on Parade version A

The pattern turns traditional Dresden Fans into flashy peacocks marching proudly around the quilt. If you’ve been following the Mother’s blog, you might have seen a preview of the version she made in different fabrics (thanks Mom!)…

Peacocks on Parade version B

We both agreed that it was great fun picking fabrics for the dots on the feathers—fussy-cutting flowers, starbursts, and other round motifs to highlight.

Peacocks on Parade detail

The pattern will be available to quilt shops and for online download shortly, but if you’re in Northern California, it’s debuting right now at Sew Many Quilts in Tracy, during the Jingle Bell Shop Hop—check out both sample quilts in person and get the pattern before it’s available anywhere else! The shop is also hosting a trunk show of quilts from my other patterns as well as from the current and previous issues of Stitch. And if you want to chat in person or have a pattern signed, I’ll be at the store on Saturday, November 5 from 12:00 to 3:00. I’d love to meet you, and you’ll love the shop!

Friday, September 30, 2011

Sewing for modern men (with free pattern)

The Fall issue of Stitch sought projects for men, so as a member of the male species, it seemed me duty to contribute a few—but what? Handcrafting gifts for men is a perennial challenge. You want people to ask the guy, “Hey, where’d you get that cool sweater?” instead of “[snigger snigger] Did your mom make you that lame sweater?” Earth tones and sports themes typify much of the sewing world’s attempts at “masculine,” but I tried to think what the boyfriends and husbands of the average Stitch reader would be interested in—guys who are more likely to shoot zombies in a video game than shoot deer on the first day of hunting season.

Gadget Messenger Bag

Gadget Messenger BagI’d been toying with the basic idea of my Gadget Messenger Bag for a while: a built-in USB hub gives a place to stow flash drives and receiver dongles, then its concealed cord plugs everything into a laptop at once. It makes the bag a little more “techy” to excite a gadget freak, and it’s a little something extra to differentiate the bag from an off-the-shelf version—if you’re going to the trouble of sewing something, I figure there should be something to take it beyond what you could just go out and buy. The USB appliqué motif on the flap is another bit of geekery.

Circuit Scarf

Staying with the computer-geek theme, I designed a scarf loosely inspired by circuit boards. As with the USB flap appliqué on the bag, I limited the color pop to a single shade on a neutral background—I think most guys these days appreciate some color but don’t want to be too flashy. The couched yarn lines hint at classic pinstriping. I don’t know about other guys, but the Other and I would be fighting over the Circuit Scarf if we lived in a place where current temperatures were dipping below 75°F. Poor us, right?

Road Warrior Organizer (closed)

Road Warrior Organizer (open)I’m not much of a car guy, but I know lots of guys have near-symbiotic relationships with their cars, so I also wanted to come up with a good gift for car lovers. A look at the wad of papers in my glove compartment was all it took to inspire the Road Warrior Organizer as a place to corral registration and insurance papers along with the vehicle owner’s manual. And you can download the pattern free from the Stitch website! For the messenger bag and scarf patterns, you’ll have to check out the magazine.

On a somewhat related note, may I just say that finding hardware for these projects was the hardest part? Square rings for the bag strap were impossible to locate (I ended up using key rings from the hardware store). And I had to jury-rig a way to install the snap on the organizer since none of the fabric stores in the area carried the actual installation hardware for the type of snap they’d sold me. If you’re making any of the projects, I wish you better hardware luck!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Stitch, Fall 2011: Paper Shredder Quilt

Paper Shredder Quilt, with beasts

Stitch, Fall 2011The Fall issue of Stitch has been out for a while, but somehow I never got a chance to show any of my projects in it round these parts. No sooner had I spread my Paper Shredder Quilt out on the sofa than it was occupied by not one, but two of the local quadrupeds, eager to coat a new quilt with their abundant fur. I swear, they weren’t posed. Is it just me, or do they seem to be telling the photographer to back the eff off? Bloody ingrates.

Paper Shredder Quilt

I wanted the quilt to look like strips of paper falling from a paper shredder and gathering in a pile, and of course I love text-print fabric. I had a lot of fun making the quilt, and I think it’s one of my favorites of the projects I’ve designed for Stitch. It’s also about as close to improvisational piecing as I get—the blocks are cut apart pretty casually to insert the strips of typographic prints, but there’s still a bit of planning necessary to keep the strips lined up. There’s a method to the cultivated madness.

Quilting it was fun too, using straight lines at random angles to enhance the cut-paper effect. Some details of the quilting process are discussed on the Stitch blog, and of course the full pattern is available in the Fall issue of the magazine.

Paper Shredder Quilt, with sleeping beasts

Maybe the animals weren’t mad at me so much as concerned that I’d removed their stairs to get a cleaner shot—poor Princess Fluffinstuff is stranded on the sofa without her doggy steps. Here the steps have been returned to the relief of all creatures.

Monday, September 05, 2011

AccuQuilt giveaway winner!

The votes are in, and your favorite block was the one designed by

Belinda K.
of
Blue Ribbon Designs

BelindaK

The seasonally appropriate block combines appliqué using shapes from the 55041 Fall Medley and 55331 Stems and Leaves dies with a pieced nine-patch background (55021 Value Die), plus a couple details from the 55012 Circles die. Lots of possibilities for fabric choices and quilting/threadplay here…

I’ve e-mailed Belinda to claim her prize—an AccuQuilt Go Baby fabric cutter and her choice of three compatible dies. Congratulations Belinda! (Check out her blog to see some lovely pincushions she made using my tutorial.) Thanks again to those who entered other fantastic block designs, and to all of you who voted. And of course, thanks to AccuQuilt for sponsoring the giveaway!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

AccuQuilt giveaway update: Finalist round

All your votes in the block design contest are testing the limits of the polling system! In fact, we’ve hit the limit of the number of votes it’ll allow. But it’s only Wednesday, and voting is supposed to stay open until Sunday—so here’s the (revised) plan.
The 3 blocks that had the most votes when the original poll hit its limit will go into a finalist round. That means everybody can for their favorite of those 3, whether you’ve voted in the first round or not. Hopefully that will allow everybody to still get a vote in before September 4, when the voting was originally supposed to end.
The new poll is in the sidebar on the right (if you’re in a feed reader, click on over to see it). Votes will stay open until September 4 at 11:59pm PT, and this time the poll will accept as many votes as you feed it! The final winner of the AccuQuilt cutter and dies will be whoever is the favorite finalist. Update: Votes are in; see the new post for the winner!

Sorry to be changing things up in the middle; after much thought this seemed like the best way to solve the problem.
The finalists are…

Barbara D.

BarbaraD
Dies used:

Belinda K.

BelindaK
Dies used (12" × 12" block):

Sara P.

SaraP
Dies used:

Monday, August 29, 2011

Giveaway: Vote for your favorite block to choose a winner!

Update: The high volume of votes have created technical difficulties...the original poll is now closed, and the 3 leading blocks enter the finalist round. Vote for your favorite finalist in the blog sidebar, even if you voted in the first round!

The entries are in for the AccuQuilt block design contest—who wins the Go Baby cutter and dies depends on whose block is your favorite. Take a look at all the entries, then vote at the bottom of the post (votes are limited to one per person/IP address, so choose carefully!). Voting ends Sunday, September 4 at 11:59pm PT.

I’m thrilled that these blocks use AccuQuilt dies in clever ways I never would have thought of. The dies each designer used are listed so we can all benefit from their creativity. In general I’ve listed extra info the designers sent regarding block size, specific die shapes used, etc.—a couple designers also sent pictures of quilt layouts using their blocks, but in fairness to everybody I’m just posting the blocks themselves. But keep potential block settings in mind when picking your favorite!

Thanks and good luck to everyone who entered, and thanks for voting!

Anne V.

AnneV

Dies used (10" × 10" block):

Barbara D.

BarbaraD
Dies used:

Belinda K.

BelindaK
Dies used (12" × 12" block):

Darlene M.

DarleneM (767x800)
Dies used (starting from a basket block in the EQ7 Block Library):

Michelle F.

MichelleF (800x800)
Dies used:

Michelle S.

MichelleS
Dies used:
 

Sara P.

SaraP
Dies used:

VOTE!

Cast your vote for the winner below (if your browser doesn’t allow scripts, click the link to view the poll and cast your vote). Vote for a finalist in the sidebar!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Giveaway deadline tonight!

Just a reminder…if you haven’t entered the block design contest to win an AccuQuilt Go Baby and dies, you have until 12:00am PT to get your entry in! Check the original post for how to enter and my tute for tips on working with die shapes in EQ7.

Whether you enter or not, check back on Monday to see the blocks and vote for your favorite!

Monday, August 22, 2011

EQ7 Tutorial: Changing block size and merging shapes into a single EQ block

If you’ve started working in EQ7 on your block design competition entry, you may have noticed that the AccuQuilt blocks are drawn at the same overall size as the corresponding die—so if you want to use shapes from a 6" × 12" die, say, it looks like your block has to be that size: if you change the dimensions of your block canvas in EQ, the shapes change too, which means they’re no longer cuttable using the the dies. It gets even trickier when you want to work with shapes from multiple dies to make a block, especially when the shapes come from dies that are different sizes. medallion2

But it can be done! This 12" block is proof of that. It uses shapes from the Go Daisy die (6" × 6") and the Go Feathers die (5" × 10"), and the shapes are all kept at their original, die-cuttable sizes.

Here’s how I was able to retain the original sizes and work with shapes from multiple dies in a single block. This is the easiest way I’ve found, but leave a comment if you have any other tricks!

  1. After adding the AccuQuilt die blocks you want to work with to your Sketchbook, open one of them on the Block Worktable (this one is the full Daisy block). Make sure your Precision Bar is showing (turn it on or off in the View menu). Select all the shapes shown in the Applique tab with the Pick tool (hit Ctrl+A to select them all automatically), and note the dimensions shown in the Precision Bar:
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  2. Deselect the shapes by clicking elsewhere on the worktable. The Precision Bar will now show the size of the block itself:
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    Since the Daisy die measures (nominally) 6" × 6", that’s the size this block was drawn at. Change the numbers in the Block Width and Block Height fields to the size you want your actual block to be—for this example, a 12" × 12" block. The shapes will stretch to match the new proportions:
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    As a result, the block looks exactly the same at this point—only the ruler and Precision Bar show that it’s been scaled up to 12". But we want to use shapes we can actually cut with the die, so they have to be changed back to the size they were in the 6" block.
  3. Select all the shapes again.
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    The dimensions now shown in the Precision Bar aren’t significant. Replace them with those you noted in Step 1, and you’ll get this:
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    The shapes are now back to the size at which they were originally drawn—that is, the size the die will actually cut. Save this block to the Sketchbook. If you want to design a block using shapes from just this one die, you can go ahead with your design at this point. But if you want to add shapes from other dies…
  4. View the Sketchbook and edit the block with the shape you want to add. I only needed the teardrop shape from the Feathers die, so that’s the block I used. Again note the dimensions of the shape(s):
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    Then copy the shape to the clipboard, using the toolbar button or Ctrl+C.
  5. View the Sketchbook again and edit the block you saved in Step 3. Then paste the shape from the clipboard (toolbar or Ctrl+V). It will be selected when you paste it, showing that its dimensions have changed to suit the proportions of the new block:
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    But again, this isn’t the shape’s size on the actual die.
  6. Change the shape dimensions to those you recorded in Step 4:
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    Now the shape is scaled appropriately, and you can move, rotate, flip, and otherwise rearrange the shapes with confidence that the die cutter will still work—as long as you don’t resize the shapes, of course.

By the way, this method will work for any EQ blocks, not just those based on AccuQuilt dies—pull shapes from the Block Library blocks into your own designs, or vice versa.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Giveaway: AccuQuilt Block Design Contest

Update: See the entries and vote for your favorite!
AccuQuilt Go Baby die cutter
Want to win your own AccuQuilt Go Baby die cutter and your choice of 3 dies? Well, AccuQuilt and I want to send them to you! I’ve always found Lady Luck to be a bit of a b*tch, so to win this giveaway you have to get creative—I want to see what you’d do with your die cutter.
For a chance to win, design an original quilt block using AccuQuilt Go die shapes. But how, you might ask, are you supposed to design a block with die shapes if you don’t already have a die cutter? There are a couple ways. If you use EQ7, you can download block libraries featuring AccuQuilt shapes and drop them into a quilt design—I showed a couple blocks I made with EQ in this post. You can still enter if you don’t have EQ7, though: just download this PDF with a selection of die shapes (each page shows a different die), print it, cut the shapes out, and arrange them to design a block out of paper or fabric. These die shapes are best for appliqué, but you could design a pieced block using other Go dies if you like. You don’t have to sew anything—just show us what you could do if you won the cutter and dies.
The block background can be any size you like, though it has to be possible to cut the shapes out with AccuQuilt dies, so make sure not to resize any of the shapes.
E-mail a JPG or PNG of your block design to giveaway[at]feeddog[dot]net by midnight (Pacific Time) on August 26, including in your e-mail a list of the dies used (check the Notecards in EQ7 or the footer at the bottom of the PDF pages). I’ll post all the entries here and readers will be able to vote for their favorite. After a week of voting, whichever block has received the most votes will win a free Go Baby cutter and dies for its designer.
22 Free Patterns - Download NowOne entry per person please. Tell your friends so we can build a great gallery of block ideas! Designs remain the property of their designers, but by entering you give permission to display your block on this blog and feeddog.net.
If you’re working in EQ7, it’s easiest to make a “block” on the Quilt Worktable, but stay tuned here for some tips on getting the die shapes into the Block Worktable.
Good luck!

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Tutorial: Fussy-cutting stripes with AccuQuilt triangle dies

AccuQuilt pincushion

Triangles cut from striped fabric can be used for lots of cool piecing effects, like setting the stripes to make concentric shapes or to radiate from a central point, as in this version of my hexagon pincushion. With a little care, this is pretty easy to do using an AccuQuilt Go triangle die—I’m again using the trusty Equilateral Triangles die they sent me, but this method could be adapted to any die for half-square triangles, isosceles triangles, or what-hast-thou.

Definitely start by watching Ebony Love’s video series (part 1, part 2, and part 3) on marking AccuQuilt dies. She gives a very thorough explanation of how she marks her dies not only to make the blades easier to see but also to help with fabric placement. Per her recommendation, I used a silver Sharpie pen to mark up my die; other opaque, light-colored permanent markers could work too.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Tutorial: AccuQuilt Equilateral Triangle pincushion

AccuQuilt pincushion

When I first talked about the dies AccuQuilt sent me, I mentioned that dies like the Equilateral Triangles and Hexagons were designed to work together. If you sew six of the triangles together, they’re the same size as the corresponding hexagon—and that’s really all there is to this pincushion! But I’ll walk you through the details.

For most of the pincushions I’ve made so far, I used two different fabrics (longtime readers may recognize scraps from my Hilltop Drive quilt for Stitch), but you could also make it scrappy with a different fabric for each triangle. In my next post I’ll show you how I matched the stripes up using just one fabric for the pink pincushion.

Each of these dies has three sizes of the shapes; this tute uses the biggest ones, but the process would be the same to make a smaller pincushion with the smaller shapes.

What you need

 

How to make it

Seam allowances are ¼". Sew all pieces with right sides together unless otherwise specified.

  1. Using the dies, cut out 6 large triangles and 1 large hexagon. I cut 3 triangles from each of my fabrics. Arrange the triangles to form a hexagon, alternating fabrics. Try to align the fabric’s grain with the dies’ blades so at least one edge of each piece will be on the straight of grain.
    AccuQuilt pincushion
  2. To avoid Y-seams, sew the triangles together to make 2 half-hexagons, 3 triangles each. (Use a short stitch length if you’re filling with small particles like walnut shells.) Chain-piecing makes this super easy: sew the first 2 triangles from the left half-hexagon, then the first 2 triangles of the right half-hexagon, then add the third triangle to the left section, then the third to the right. Press the seam allowances in opposite directions for each half-hexagon.
    AccuQuilt pincushion
    AccuQuilt pincushion
  3. Put the half-hexagons right sides together, matching up the outer edges and the seams. Pin if desired (I just rely on my machine’s dual feed for small projects like this), and sew the half-hexagons together on the longest edge. Press the seam allowance to one side. You should have a pieced hexagon equal in size to the die-cut hexagon, and thanks to the blunt corners of the triangles, no dog ears to chop off. I forgot to take a picture of this for the blue and green pincushion, so here it is in pink:
    AccuQuilt pincushion
  4. Put the pieced and die-cut hexagons right sides together. To help turn the open edge in after filling the cushion, start sewing perpendicular to the edge, sewing in ¼" and then pivoting 90 degrees to sew the actual seam. This photo shows the stitching at the start of my seam on the left, and the presser foot is positioned to sew out to the edge the same way after sewing all the way around the hexagons:
    AccuQuilt pincushion
    Leave a gap as shown for filling, and sew the hexagons together using the triangle seams as guides for where to pivot at corners—when your needle meets the stitching, leave it down in the fabric (shown below), lift the presser foot, pivot to sew the next side, put the foot back down, and keep going until you get back the triangle you started on (finish the end as shown above).
    AccuQuilt pincushion
  5. Clip the corners (and pretend my seams are perfect).
    AccuQuilt pincushion
  6. Turn the cushion right side out through the gap, using a chopstick or other blunt tool to gently push out the corners, then give it a quick press. Looks much tidier this way, no?
    AccuQuilt pincushion
  7. Spoon walnut shells into the cushion through the opening. You may want to set the cushion in a small box or bowl to catch any shells that go astray. Walnut shells are supposed to act like emery to sharpen pins, and I also like that they give the pincushions a little more heft than polyfill. A 7-pound bag of ground shells cost me about $10 at the pet store and is way, way, way more than I needed for all four of these cushions; I’m going to share the remains with anybody at my quilt guild who wants to make pincushions for our quilt show shop. Anyway, stuff the pincushion as full as you’re comfortable with, but make sure there’s a little give so you can cinch through the center without bursting seams and showering your sewing space in nut shells. Then ladder-stitch the opening closed.
    AccuQuilt pincushion
  8. If your button isn’t particularly dazzling, cut a flower or two from felt or fabric and center it right side up on the top of the pincushion. Using strong thread, sew the button centered on top, sewing all the way through the pincushion to cinch it in the middle. The stitches on the back may want to pull the weave of the fabric open if your cushion is heavily filled; if you prefer, sew through another small button on the back to support the stitches.
    AccuQuilt pincushion

All done! You can probably whip up a cushion faster than it took to read the instructions.

AccuQuilt pincushion

These pincushions would be great foundations for embellishing further—you could insert rickrack in the side seam or put more elaborate fabric flowers on top, or even just use a fancier button than I had in my stash. Leave a comment if you have other ideas!

If you’ve got a charity event coming up, feel free to make bunches of ’em to sell—the combination of scrap-friendliness and quick die cutting means they can be cranked out efficiently.

As mentioned above, stay tuned for details on how I marked up my die to fussy-cut striped fabric…and to learn how you could win your own Go Baby cutter and dies from AccuQuilt!