Tuesday, February 21, 2012

It's all about Heart and color this month and DEB scoops us some Color talk

  Love color?  Yes!  Always know the perfect color or fabric to pick?  Uh, no.  Have sweat trickling down your neck, or sweaty palms selecting fabric for your next project?  Yep, there I am.
  I'm Debbie from Stitchin' Therapy and I do love color.  When I began quilting, I had absolutely no idea how to choose colors or fabrics for a quilt.  In my first class I was told to use a light, a dark, and a bright.   I never finished that quilt, I wonder why?  Today I  mainly do multi-print, multi-color quilts---scrap quilts and water color quilts--- because the colors make my spirit soar.
   Color is what I notice first about a fabric.  It will draw me in and influences how I react to a quilt made with it.   So before your eyes glaze over and you think "Here comes the color wheel talk, and all those words like complementary and analogous,"  relax!  I'm going to share a simple technique I learned from an artist turned quilter.   The class I took from her was not about technique or sewing. It was about selecting fabrics and colors.  I consider it my secret weapon to creating wonderful, colorful quilts.
 Here's a quilt in which I used  this technique for selecting  the fabrics.   I used 18 fabrics for this bargello quilt, but it all started with one fabric that  I loved.  I  followed the steps below to pick the other 17 fabrics.

Steps to selecting fabrics/colors
   It's a simple idea based on letting the fabric and designers do the work for you.   Find a focus fabric you love that has 2 or 3 colors in it.  The seventh fabric from the left was my focus fabric.....shades of purple to plum with blues and greens.  There's my palette!

 Now select  other fabrics that "play well and are friendly" with the focus fabric.
  •   Select a second fabric based on your favorite color in the focus fabric.  The color doesn't have to be an exact match.  My second choice is right next to it at position #6.
  •   Select a third fabric based on another color in the focus fabric.   My third choice ended up in position #10.  Notice anything?  My selections were a light, a bright, and a dark fabric scheme.
  •   Select a "friend fabric" for the second and third fabrics you chose.  Make it a shade lighter or darker for depth and variety.  
  •   And so on....Try to select fabrics that vary in scale (size of print), and value.  Tonal type prints are great "friend" fabrics.
  •   Finally, stand back about 6 to 8 feet from your selections.  Does anything jump out and not fit?  Replace it.  Look at the ninth fabric.....does it seem too dark?  Yes, probably, but the plum color was so striking with the other fabrics that I left it in to spice things up.  Rules can be broken!
  •   Is the collection of fabric all the same value and seem boring?   Note---Value refers to the lightness or darkness of the color you see.  The overall value of the fabric is as important as the color.  Using a palette of all medium value fabrics will appear flat and boring.  Adding a dark and a lighter value will greatly enhance your quilt.   If you are not sure of the value, take a photo, look at it on the computer.  Squint at it, or take off your glasses like me, and get it out of focus to see the value rather than the pattern and color.  Change it to a black and white photo, and you can easily judge the value.  It is so worth the effort to do this.  
 This is the same photo as the above palette converted to black and white.  I wanted to be sure the darkest values were scattered throughout my palette and not all in a clump.   Don't be afraid of using a dark fabric.  The dark values create depth and let the light and medium value fabrics shine.  

Selecting the dozen different batiks for this one was done in the same way.  
This smaller photo below of the first blocks made  gives you a closer look at the fabrics chosen.  Can you pick out the focus fabric that I used for the palette selection?  
Did you pick the fabric in the bottom left corner?  That was it....a beautiful collection of colors in it to chose from.  Using the focus fabric made it easy!

   Are you a traditional quilter?   In Summer of Love I used 20 different floral fabrics for the very traditional Jacob Ladder blocks. The bold yellow  is predominant, and required a careful selection of other fabrics to be successful.  I began with one floral featuring  lots of colors--including yellow.  Each of the remaining floral fabrics were selected because they picked up a color from the focus floral.  Some were on  dark backgrounds, and others were on  lighter backgrounds, and  2 had very blue tone backgrounds.  And in the end, all of them blended and worked well together.
   Show no fear when selecting fabrics for your next project.  Conquer your  fear about mixing colors and fabrics.  You have been empowered with the secret weapon for fabric selection.... Let the designer and fabric do the work for you.  And now,  you also have a great reason for building your stash.
  Thanks so much,  Madame Samm for letting me share my thoughts on color and how to make it work for us all.
Wishing you all a color filled day and happy stitching.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

It's all about heart with Manda and Love Letters

Howdy!  Are you in the mood for love?  I know, it's a personal question, so I suppose I should introduce myself.  My name is Manda and I blog occasionally at Manda Made Quilts. I'm a nobody in the world of quilt bloggers. If the name stayathomelibrarian is familiar, you've more than likely seen me over at Flickr. There I help Katherine moderate the Bee a {modern} Swapper Bee, the most awesome and original of bees.  I did host the Word Play Bee, although we've just finished up, you could browse for some inspiration.

We aren't much of Valentines celebrators around my house, but when Madame Samm at !Sew We Quilt! put out a call for the color red and heart themed tutorials, I asked if readers might be interested in a quick lesson in the "L" word.  So, here I am.  Are you in the mood for love?

Handmade valentine by stayathomelibrarian

Pick a letter fabric, and a background fabric.  In my observation, using solids is the easiest.  If you use a print, try to use one that has a small design, and not too busy.  If the prints coordinate too closely, it may be hard to read the word.  In this case, I'm using red for the background, and white for the letters. 

I use a ruler from June Tailor called a Shape Cut to cut both of my fabrics.  Staci posted about this tool a few weeks ago.  I use it to cut 1 inch and 1.5 inch strips before I get started.  Occasionally you do need wider pieces (as in the V below), but this will get you started.

A word of caution when using this ruler.  Take your time when using it.  Pay attention to where you place your hand in order to hold the ruler. Imagine this pencil might be your finger.  Things could get a little- dicey (pause for audience laughter).

Piecing letters is easier than you might think.  Before we start, I want to put forth a tip that'll save you some grief. Set your stitch length short.  It needn't be this small, but after my first few words fell apart in the wash, I made it a habit to set it low when I sit to join my strips.

Now, get one of each of your strips and stitch them together.  Press the seams open.  Open?  Does it matter? Well, I really think it does, and I'll tell you why.  Pressing the seams open keeps it looking flat.  If you press your seams to the darker fabric, in this case the red, the bulk  of the pressed  seam would cause the background to appear raised.  In instances where the letter fabric is the darker fabric, the letter would appear raised. However you decide to press your letters, choose a way and stick to it.  But don't skip pressing.

Add the bottom piece to construct the letter "L".  If you want to make your letters wonky, trim at angles before adding the bottom piece.

For the O, cut a piece of the background fabric and build your "o" around it.  You can be really creative with this letter.  It doesn't need to be as boring as this one.  It may be hard to imagine, but this is one of those letters you can make your own by changing your trimming angles, and using different width of letter fabrics.

The V is my favorite letter.  Once you can make the V, you can make the W, and Y.  The W is two Vs placed together, and the Y is the V with a stick on it.  I like my Vs pointy bottomed, and it is my pleasure to show you how to achieve this look.

Put a piece of wide background fabric with one of your wider letter strips.  Also sew together thin pieces of each of the fabrics.  

Eyeball the strips to decide on the angle that you like best.  Cut your strip on this angle.

This is where your point comes in.  Resist the urge to attach these pieces at the bottom.  Offset it so that when you sew the pieces together, press it,  open it, and trim it,  that the letter will come to a point.  If not, you'll get a flat bottomed v. 

Add another piece of background fabric.  As wide as you can stand it, you can always trim it down later.

I tend to make the most of my fabric.  Meaning, I dig through the pieces I've trimmed in order to construct easier letters.  The E is one of these easiest with which to do this (also the lowercase l, and i).

Can you see it?  I joined these three pieces together, and then added an unused letter fabric in order to make this E.

This is where you get to play.  Arrange your letters.   You might want to save trimming your letters until you get to this point.  As it concerns anything, practice makes perfect, and I for one need a lot more practice, but through some trial and lots of errors, I've found my way to piece letters.  That's the best thing about liberated, improv, free, unruly- or whatever you call- style of piecing.  There is no right or wrong way.  There's no need for the size of your letters to be uniform.  When you're first piecing, you might want to try making larger letters before trying smaller letters.

So, I hope I've hooked you enough to want to make some more letters.  There are plenty of resources which you may use. Word Play Quilts: Easy Techniques from the UnRuly Quilter by Tonya Ricucci is a great place to start.

Many thanks to Madame Samm for having me today.  Please drop by my blog sometime for a visit. 
Manda Made Quilts

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

It's all about Heart and with Pauline you can certainly expect that and more...look..!

....and Mme Samm's theme for February is 'Heart and Hand'.

Thank you Mme Samm for inviting me once again to share a sewing project.
I'm Pauline and you can visit my blog at Quiltnqueen to see what else I am up to.
Yesterday was Valentines day but that doesn't mean we have to stop sewing hearts.

I have made a lot of these pot holders...
You can use Christmas, Valentine or any fabric to go with your kitchen decor. 

Today's project is a heart shaped pot holder...with hand pockets...
Pot holder, tea towel, embroidered mug rug/ pot holder

The embroidery is a free design from Bird Brain Designs.  

The instructions are for the pot holder with the hand pockets.
You can download the small heart template here and the large heart template here.

Materials needed:
  • 4 - 10" squares of fabric...
    • 2 squares are the same fabric for the hand pockets
    •  the other 2 can be the same or coordinating fabrics
  • 3 - 10" squares of batting
  • 1 - 10" square of insul-bright
  • Bias binding
  • Walking foot
Using the larger heart:
  • cut 2  fabric hearts
  • cut 2 batting hearts
  • cut 1 insul-bright heart
Large Heart cuts

Using the small heart:
  • cut 2 fabric hearts that are from the same fabric for the hand pockets
  • cut 1 batting heart
Small heart cuts

Cut the batting heart in half....Do not cut the fabric hearts...
Trim 1/8" off the straight edge of both of the batting half hearts...

Trim 1/8"

Sandwich the batting between the wrong sides of each small heart.  

Half heart batting on small heart

Fold small heart in half

Stitch 1/4" on straight edge...

Stitch 1/4" on straight edge

Place the half hearts on top of the large heart you are using as your top fabric...

Position small heart halves on lg lining

Matching edges as shown in the diagram above.  There is a 1/4' space at the top where the hearts do not meet and the bottom is about a 1-1/4" space.  Place on top of a large heart of batting and stitch a 1/8" to a scant 1/4" around the outer edge sandwiching all 3 layers.

Stitch the back of the pot holder, a batting heart and the insul-bright heart together. Make sure the batting is placed on the wrong side of the heart fabric and then the insul-bright.

Stitch top 3 layers and bottom 3 layers together

Stitching the top 3 layers together and then the bottom 3 layers together makes it easier to keep the edges even.   Your final step is to stitch the 2 pieces together.  I find it easier to stitch the 2 -3 part sections first and then sew the 6 layers together.  It is easier to keep the edges even.  I always use a walking foot and because of the thickness I lengthen my stitch length a bit.

Once you have all the layers stitched together you will stitch a straight line down the center of the heart...because of the thickness I use a longer stitch length...3.0 on my Janome.

Stitch 2 hearts together and stitch down the center

You are now ready for the binding.  This project requires bias binding.   I make my own binding using 2-1/2" strips of coordinating fabrics cut on a 45 degree bias.  It is constructed the same way as you do a regular quilt binding.  I use a generous 1/4" of 3/8" seam allowance.

Start stitching binding

I start my stitching close to the bottom of the heart...because you want the straightest part of the heart when you go to join the ends.  Remember to leave about an 8" binding tail before you start to stitch your binding down.

This is the tricky part as you do not have a lot of space to work with.  Remember to pin a pleat to give you more room to stitch the closing.  You can check out my tutorial on binding I did a year ago right here on Sew We Quilt.  It was my first every tutorial....and this one is #3....not quite so stressed about this one as the binding one.

Finish stitching binding

Now you have a completed pot holder and it is time to make another...(o:.

Finished pot holder

I hope you enjoyed the tutorial and if you have any questions please email me.
I've enjoyed sharing my time with all of you...
Please come and visit me and enter my giveaway.
Leave a comment on this posting and over on my blog to win....
I will pick the winner February 18 from comments posted here.

Hugs and Happy Stitching!!
Hope everyone had a wonderful Valentines Day yesterday!!

OHHHH look we have GIVEAWAYS too..
to make more HEARTS

This FAT quarter bundle 
and pattern from our very own Amanda Murphy...
( take a peak at her newest patterns too)
Caramel and Cocoa and her
Swiss Chocolate and Ambrosia lines....

SEW let us know --have you made any pot holders lately?

winner announced tomorrow...

You won this lovely collection from Amanda Murphy.
email sent, please send me your mailing details
sew this pck among some extras will be sent out

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

It's all about HEART with Linda and her kissing towel ...when Red is Green! We have 2 guest today and giveaways too!

(A Valentine quilt I made in 2006)
                            Happy Valentine's Day!
Hi! I'm Linda from Buzzing and Bumbling. As I kissed my husband goodbye this morning and wiped the lipstick off his cheek, I thought of Valentine's Day and all the kissing that would be going on today.That took me back to a time when, as a young bride, my husband's late Aunt Rubye told me about a little "lipstick towel" that she had used. She lived through  a time when people used cloth handkerchiefs when they blew their noses and used Sear's catalogs for .... well, for ordering things, of course! (That is when the new one came and the old one was relegated to the outhouse!)

In a time of increasing awareness of "going green", we can take a lesson from our ancestors who were experts at it!

During World War II, people were very aware of wastefulness and saving resources. Many items were rationed and others were scarce. People grew as much of their own food as they could, they curtailed use of automobiles (often putting their cars up on blocks so the tires wouldn't rot) and saved in as many ways as they could.

The lipstick towel sat on the makeup table and was used to blot lipstick. It could be used for an entire week before washing and being put out again. So....that little red towel was very "green" in today's terminology. I suggest this as a way to "Go Green with RED!"

Or orange, or pink, or purple, or whatever color lipstick you wear! Your lipstick towel can match your lipstick color, so just about any color can be "green" now! Use your scraps to decorate along the bottom if you don't want to embroider it. You can make it any size. Even small enough to fit in your purse for quick touch-ups.
I will be giving away the little lipstick towels you see above on Buzzing and Bumbling today. I even have a simple tutorial for those of you who might need one. This is a super simple project - even easier than pillowcases. 
If you're not into history and you don't care about saving the environment, you can continue to blot your lips on pieces of tissue.
But, I think the older generation had a great solution and if you think about it, which is the more elegant blotter?
                               p.s ...
post signature
I will be choosing 1 winner from Linda's comments for 1 set of these pillowcases 
and another winner + Adornit fabric from Barbs.....
Let's spread the love lol

Congrats to MARSHA, she too has
been contacted for a kit set of pillowcases
To everyone else who joined in...
psst there are more giveaways this week...

It's all about HEART and these ladies have plenty of it ...here is BARB from Quilted Works...and some giveaways!

We love having pillowcases to match our quilts! Here is a fun and easy tutorial that teaches you how to easily make a pretty pillowcase with an encased seam and french seams for the finished edges.
Select 3 coordinating fabrics.
  • 3/4 yard Main fabric
  • 1/8 yard narrow Trim fabric
  • 1/3 yard Hem fabric
Cut Main Fabric 25" x 40 ½"
Cut Trim Fabric 2 ½” x 40 ½”
Iron Trim piece in half with right sides out and raw edges together.
Cut Hem Fabric 12” x 40 ½”
Lay the Hem fabric with right side up, lay Trim fabric piece on top of Hem fabric.
Lay right side of Main fabric DOWN on top of Trim fabric.
Roll bottom of main fabric up until the bottom of the Hem fabric can be seen.
Fold the Hem fabric OVER the top of all layers. Pin everything in place.
Sew them all together with 1/4” seam.
Pull the pillowcase out from inside of the Hem fabric.
Press the fabrics flat.
Trim fabrics to make sure all edges are lined up and that they measure 40 ½” wide.
With right sides out, pin the seam to make sure the trim piece will be lined up.
Sew a seam slightly less than 1/4" seam along the sides and bottom.
Turn the pillow case wrong sides out.
Sew a 1/4" seam along the sides and bottom, making sure to back stitch at the beginning and end.
Now you have just created a very nice “French Seam.” The seam on the outside of your pillowcase looks just like a normal, finished seam, but its raw edges (underneath) have been encased in fabric for a finished look and to help protect them from fraying.
Turn pillow case right side out and ENJOY!
Look how darling it looks with a matching quilt!