Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Quilters Newsletter's Best Tradition with a Twist Quilts blog tour - Day 2

Welcome to Day 2 of Quilters Newsletter's Best Tradition with a Twist Quilts 2015 blog tour!

QN's Best Tradition with a Twist Quilts special issue is now available at quilt shops, bookstores, newsstands, and on line at Quilt and Sew Shop.  Inside you'll find a great article by Victoria Findlay Wolfe, 6 helpful designer tips, and patterns for 21 beautiful projects.  At the core, all of the quilts are traditional, but each has a twist that makes it unique, new, and surprisingly modern.

My quilt, Cornflower Crossing (p. 16), is a fast and fun project made using only one block.  That block is based on a simple nine-patch block -- so easy and one of the first blocks quilters learn to make -- what could be more traditional?

And my twist?  I've kept the block construction the same, still 9 patches, but I've changed the sizes of the patches to create an asymmetrical nine-patch block:

I also rotated the blocks to give the quilt interest and a sense of motion.  As is often the case, rotating the blocks created an unexpected secondary pattern -- if you step back and squint at the quilt, you can actually see cascading leaves:

Another twist:  I chose to use only 2 colors for this quilt.  There is a subtle linen texture in the French General "Le Bouquet Français" fabrics that I used, but they read as solids.  I chose these fabrics rather than prints because I was concerned that prints would fight the design rather than showcase it and because I wanted to keep the quilt from becoming too busy.

Blue and white not your thing?  I played around in EQ to give you a few more color options...

A buttery yellow would have been my second choice because I've always wanted to make a yellow and white quilt:

And here's the yellow and white inverted, hmm...:

Here's red and white, maybe for Christmas:

And here's a 3 color version, that I'm kind of liking.  It reminds me of plaid:

Choosing a quilting pattern for this quilt was tricky.  With such a graphic, geometric design, my mind went immediately to linear quilting patterns that would echo the lines of the quilt.  But instead of accentuating the design, the linear patterns seemed to muddy it.  I had an aha moment when I decided to go in a completely different direction and try a curvy, meandering quilting pattern.  Anne Bright's "Wild Mouse" pattern dances across the quilt without detracting from the clean, simple design.

There's one final, fun twist to my quilt.  Look closely at the photo and check out the backing fabric:

Here, let me help:

It's an oversized toile-inspired floral -- totally traditional and definitely unexpected on the back of a modern, graphic quilt.  But I love the juxtaposition of business in the front and party in the back (at least on a quilt!!) and I couldn't help myself.

And now, patient reader, if you'd like a chance to win a bundle of P&B Textiles' "True Blue!" fabric leave a comment on this post before 11:59 pm MDT tonight (1/28/2015) by clicking on the word "comments" below.  You'll be redirected to a "Post a Comment" window.  Once there, either scroll to the bottom of the window or click "Jump to Comment Form" and follow the directions to leave your comment.  I'll draw one name at random, so please make sure I have your email address.

Good luck and happy quilting!

***This contest is now closed.  Thank you for all of your comments and don't forget to visit the QN blog today (1/29) and tomorrow (1/30) for links to other designers' blogs and more chances to win!  Good luck!***

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

QN Best Tradition with a Twist Quilts 2015 Blog Tour Update

Welcome to Day 1 of Quilters Newsletter's Best Tradition with a Twist Quilts 2015 blog tour!

I know you may have been expecting me to help kick off the tour today; instead I'm actually going to be posting tomorrow, Wednesday, January 28th.  But the good news is that the blog tour is now underway and there are two chances to win today.

First check out Brenda Miller's blog:  "Among Brenda's Quilts and Bags" for a look at her beautiful Skip a Beat table runner.  With its foundation-pieced heart blocks, I think it would be perfect for Valentine's Day.

Then head over to Janet Jo Smith's blog "Threads of Thought" at  She's made a lovely two color quilt, Lady in Red, using her own gorgeous hand-dyed fabrics.

And finally, don't forget to check back here tomorrow for my post (I promise!) and a chance to win a P&B Textiles fabric bundle!

Good luck!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Looking for Summer

So I'm not starting the new year off with as big a bang as I'd hoped.  I've been sidelined for a week or so with an unidentified cold/flu/plague type illness, and with the rain and gray weather, I'm definitely looking for a lift.  I do have an idea for a summer quilt, but I been having trouble deciding on a summer color palette.

When I think of summer colors, I think of the beach, the garden, and sometimes, the 4th of July.  But each is a very different colorway -- blues/greens/beige for beach, green and every color under the sun for garden, and of course, red, white and blue for the 4th.  And trying to decide on a color palette is just the kind of thing that can stop me in my tracks and leave every surface of my workroom covered with fabric.

So today I decided to try something different -- a color palette generator.  I used Play Crafts' "Palette Builder 2.1."  You can find it at and it's so much fun!  Simply load an image and the palette builder randomly generates a matching color palette.  And the best part for us quilters is that it also generates suggestions for Kona Cotton Solids that match the image.

Here's an example of how the Palette Builder works:

I loaded in this picture that I took in Maine (just a smidge crooked) and the Palette Builder randomly chose the seven colors along the bottom, which are, I think a pretty good representation of the picture.  I wouldn't have seen the greeny-gray at first glance, but I love it with the navy next to it!

And today I discovered that if you're not happy with the colors that the generator selects, you can move the selection circles around on the image to try to capture other colors.  For example, here's an old photo of my son pretending to meditate at the beach along with the palette that the builder turned out.

It's nice, but I noticed that the brim of my son's hat is red and I wondered how a little red would look thrown in the mix.  So I moved one of the selection circles to his hat to capture some red and ended up with this palette:

Here are a couple more examples:

And if you don't have any pictures that approximate the palette you are considering, you can also search for images on-line to upload.

Here's a picture of sunflowers that I took a couple of years ago:

I do like the palette that the builder generated, but I was curious how the sunflower colors would look with a bit of blue.  So I googled "sunflowers" and loaded an image with the colors that I was looking for.  Here's the result:

The gold color really pops with the blue, but I still think I might prefer the more restful palette above.

I'm not sure I found my summer color palette today, but using the Palette Builder 2.1 is definitely the kind of addictive play that gets your creative juices flowing.  Just make sure you eventually get to work!

Before I go... make sure to check back here next week.  Quilters Newsletter magazine is hosting a blog tour to promote their latest special issue, Best Tradition with a Twist Quilts 2015.  They'll have stops at 9 designers' blogs with a chance to win prizes at each.  I'll be one of the designers kicking off the tour on Tuesday, January 27th.  Until then, happy quilting!

Monday, January 5, 2015

Happy New Year and Free Pattern!

The holiday season is, at long last, over.  No more parties, no more presents, no more massive meals, and no more egg nog (sniff).  It was so much fun, but now it's time to get back to clean living and definitely time to get back to work!

And since I haven't set foot in my work room since before Christmas and the house is looking a little bare with all of the Christmas quilts packed away for next year, today I decided to kill two birds with one stone and start the year off with a warm-up project.

It's a mini snowflake quilt!  Strictly speaking, it's a single 6" block, but since it's layered and bound, in my mind it's a quilt and if you stand back and squint at it, it kind of resembles a snowflake.  Work with me here, I'm a little rusty.

Here's the quilt hanging by the door handle of our front door:

And here are a few EQ7 sketches of some coloring alternatives that I considered:

I'm always struck by how much you can change the look of a block just by moving color around.

If you'd like to make your own mini snowflake quilt, read on...

You'll need (and this is for my version):

White:  1 - 2 1/2" x 2 1/2"; 8 - 1 1/2" x 2 1/2"; and 4 - 1 1/2" x 1 1/2"
Dark Blue:  1 - 4" x 4" and 20 - 1 1/2" x 1 1/2" 
Light Blue:  1 - 4" x 4"

Here we go:

1.  On the back of 16 blue 1 1/2" x 1 1/2" squares, draw a diagonal line from corner to corner.

2.  Place a white 1 1/2" x 2 1/2" rectangle wrong side down on a flat surface.  Referring to quilt, lay dark blue 1 1/2" x 1 1/2" atop white rectangle with wrong side up (should be able to see drawn lines).  

3.  Stitch.  Press towards blue and trim away excess fabric.  Repeat steps on the other end of the white 1 1/2" x 2 1/2" rectangle.  

4.  Repeat to make 8 half chevron units.  Note:  4 of the chevron units should slant down to the right and 4 should slant down to the left -- I know this because I originally made 8 identical units -- I told you, I'm rusty.

5.  Next we'll make the dark blue and light blue half square triangles.  On the wrong side of the light blue 4" x 4" square, draw diagonal lines a scant 1/4" from each side of the true diagonal as shown:

6.  Lay light blue 4" x 4" square atop dark blue 4" x 4" square with right sides together.  Stitch on drawn lines.  Press seams and rotary cut unit as follows: 

7.  You should end up with 8 half square triangle units.  Press the units open towards the dark blue and trim to 1 1/2" x 1 1/2".

8.  Now lay out the assembled units and remaining patches as follows:

9. Stitch together 4 corner sections as follows, pressing away from the white when possible:

10.  Also stitch together half chevron units to make 4 full chevrons.  Press seams open.

11.  Lay out units and center patch as follows:

12.  Stitch together in rows, then stitch rows together.

13.  Press, layer with batting and backing fabric, quilt if desired, and bind.

And voilà!  A striking mini snowflake quilt or a ridiculously beautiful potholder!  Your choice.  Only kidding!  I strenuously object to the use of mini quilts as potholders.

Happy Quilting!