Posts

IMG_8307crop
, , ,

A Scrappy Take On My Picnic Plaid Pattern

Color gradients. Remember when I said I wasn’t going to go there anymore?
Yeah, I went there. Again. I couldn’t help it, you guys! Gradients: So colorful. So orderly. So appealing to both the left and right sides of my brain. : )
So this is my latest addition to my always expanding collection of color-gradient quilts. : ) This is a scrappy version of my Picnic Plaid pattern (available here).
Here’s a shot of the original Picnic Plaid quilt. The original is strip-pieced in a narrower color palette, but I’ve had the urge to make it scrappier for some time now. So when Stephanie Palmer of Late Night Quilter asked me if I would want to contribute a pattern to her 2016 Quilter’s Planner, it was the perfect opportunity to create modified instructions for a scrappier version of that design. (Sadly, the 2016 Quilter’s Planner is now sold out! Sorry!)

 

Of course, Steph was nice enough to quilt this one for me, and worked her usual magic on it. I’ve always loved this loopy quilting pattern, and now I finally have a quilt that makes use of it!

This quilt has what might be my favorite print ever for a quilt back: Zen Chic’s “Notes” print in Charcoal on Fog. You can find it here at the Fat Quarter Shop and elsewhere. The binding is an older Zen Chic print called Barcelona. You can see a chunk of that print in the piecing above as well. I was really feeling the Zen Chic that day, I guess. : )

Regardless of which version of Picnic Plaid you prefer, it’s yet another great demonstration of how much print and color can change the look of any given design. Fun!
IMG_7525-1

WIP Wednesday: Cool Blues

I’ve been doing some designing and planning and fabric-buying this week! I’ve got some fun things up my sleeve, including new quilt-along in the works for Bernina’s We All Sew website. It’s been a while since I’ve had occasion to do some hard-core fabric selecting, and it feels pretty good. : )

 

Also, I don’t know if it’s the change of seasons or what, but lately I’m feeling a definite shift in my color preferences. Does that ever happen to you? After at least a couple of years of being obsessed with all things aqua and teal, a few months ago I decided I needed to push myself to embrace new color palettes. I was determined not to rely on aqua quite so much. Aqua was my color crutch. But just the act of making that goal seems to have flipped a switch in my brain, because suddenly I’m loving cooler blues and darker blues. Kona Hyacinth and Blue Jay are really getting my attention lately.

But it’s still all about blue, of course. I guess I haven’t had that much of a shift!

Okay, so what are you working on this week? Let’s see it!

LINK-UP RULES:

1. Link up any blog post or Instagram photo from the past week that features an unfinished work-in-progress (WIP).
2. To link an Instagram photo, click the “Add Your Link” button below, then click on the Instagram icon at the bottom of the screen that pops up. You should then be able to select any of your recent Instagram photos. Where it says “Link,” use the URL of your Instagram feed (for example, my URL is www.instagram.com/freshlypieced). Please hashtag your IG post #wipwednesday.
3. If you are linking to a blog post, please link back here to my blog somewhere in your post.

4. Comment on at least a few of the other WIP Wednesday links, either IG or blog—commenting on the two or three links directly before yours works well to make sure everyone gets comments!

 

IMG_0243-1
,

WIP Wednesday: Still Scraptastic

Good morning! Yes, I’m still plugging away at that scrap quilt that I started last week. This is going to be a scrappy version of my Picnic Plaid pattern (which was just about as un-scrappy as it could be in its previous incarnation on the pattern cover).

I had been planning to do this new version in a full rainbow of scraps, as you can see from this photo.
But then I took the photo at the top of the post. And I thought, oh no—that looks amazing! Which means I want to do it in this color palette instead! Of course, changing the palette would require redoing some of the blocks I already started. But I just feel like maybe I’ve returned to the rainbow well one too many times. So, is it worth the work to redo it? Do I have time? Tune in next week to find out. LOL.
Okay, so what are you working on this week? Let’s see it!

LINK-UP RULES:

1. Link up any blog post or Instagram photo from the past week that features an unfinished work-in-progress (WIP).
2. To link an Instagram photo, click the “Add Your Link” button below, then click on the Instagram icon at the bottom of the screen that pops up. You should then be able to select any of your recent Instagram photos. Where it says “Link,” use the URL of your Instagram feed (for example, my URL is www.instagram.com/freshlypieced). Please hashtag your IG post #wipwednesday.
3. If you are linking to a blog post, please link back here to my blog somewhere in your post.

4. Comment on at least a few of the other WIP Wednesday links, either IG or blog—commenting on the two or three links directly before yours works well to make sure everyone gets comments!

 

IMG_6980-1
, ,

On Quilting “For Keeps”

I have a big pile of quilts that my family uses every day. Sometimes, those quilts are folded in a neat stack next to the couch, but more often they can be found in a crumpled heap, or my kids are dragging them around the house giving their stuffed animals rides on them, or one is crammed underneath the ottoman, or one’s in the washing machine because somebody spilled on it. And I love that: In my opinion, all of the above are what quilts should do. I adore having that pile available for whatever purpose anybody wants them to serve, whether it’s staying warm on a chilly evening or building a fort for the American Girl dolls.

 

Know when the most recent of those quilts was made? 2012.

Because somewhere along the way, I started taking quilts to trunk shows. And sending them off to fabric companies. And sometimes getting them professionally quilted by superstars whose work are true masterpieces, so you certainly don’t want to drag that around on the floor. And people said things like, “That quilt was in a book! Take good care of it—it’s special!”

Don’t get me wrong, I love my job. Love it. I’m not apologizing for attempting to make money on my quilting, or implying that turning my hobby into a job has taken the passion out of it for me. I still love what I do and feel incredibly lucky to have this dream job, even after spending the last year working a little (okay, a lot) more than I might have liked and feeling plenty burned out after Quilt Market this spring. And I still put my heart and soul into everything I make, even my “working quilts.”

But. There’s just no substitute for making a quilt that you know is going to get loved to death by your family. No substitute for making a quilt that’s going to get super soft and crinkly from a hundred trips through the washing machine. A quilt to sit on while you watch fireworks or have doll tea parties. Isn’t that what makes a quilt truly special, not the fact that it was in a book? Whenever I’m making a quilt, my girls always come to oooh and ahhh over it, and invariably they ask, “Do we get to KEEP this one?” And by that they mean, “Do we get to have this one in the pile in the family room, instead of squirreling it away in a corner of your studio, only to be taken out for trunk shows?”

 

Enter Amy Gibson’s new book, For Keeps: Meaningful Patchwork for Everyday Living.
You probably know Amy from her Craftsy classes or her blog Stitchery Dickory Dock. Her gorgeous new book has reminded me of the importance of taking time out from things that are designed and made strictly for my business, in order to keep making special quilts for the most special people in my life. It’s a tough balance to strike of course, because there are only so many hours in the day, but it’s important, after all!

And what better place to start than that scrap quilt I’ve been itching to make for months?

I was initially thinking of an Irish Chain quilt, but as these little pairs of squares have started coming together, I’m now leaning toward a postage stamp quilt—a postage stamp quilt of 1″ squares, you guys! Just the kind of beautifully torturous project that you want to keep forever and ever and let your family use and abuse. : )
My goal is to use at least a small portion of every single print in my scrap bins. Every one of them! I’m sure some will get culled eventually, but it’s the working goal for now, anyway. I’ve divided my scraps roughly into 8 color families and my goal is to do two colors a week over the next four weeks. The reds are already done, as you can see. : ) Then I’ll lay them out into a big ol’ scrappy rainbow and spend the next decade or so sewing them all together. Good times.

 

While my particular “balance problem” might be unique to bloggers and pattern designers, I think in this day of Pinterest and beautiful photos online, we can all be tempted to get off track and make things for the wrong reasons. Or to believe that everything has to be absolutely perfect in order to be “good enough.” For Keeps hits the reset button on all of that. The projects range from classic quilts to playmats and pocket pillows that hold books—all written with Amy’s trademark sense of humor and illustrated with beautiful photography that reminds you that the simple things in life are often the best. : )

Amy has also created a For Keeps website with lots of fun extras, including a free quilt pattern, and you can even take the For Keeps pledge to sew for all the right reasons! As of this afternoon, 969 people have already taken Amy’s pledge! So I hope you’ll pick up For Keeps—and check back here for progress on my keeper scrap quilt!

 

IMG_6900-1
, , ,

WIP Wednesday: Scrap-Happy

Happy Wednesday! Here’s what’s happening in my studio this week:

Lately I’ve been itching to make a something extra-crazy-scrappy, so I’ve started sorting through my scraps. I’m running out of room in the scrap bins, so I need to use up as many of these as possible! I had considered an Irish Chain, but now I’m thinking about something that will give more real estate to the scraps. Maybe just a simple postage stamp quilt? Hmmm.

Still working on the kaleidoscopes. Oh, yes. Still. : )

And I got my hands on this book
recently, so I’m excited to try my hand at some upholstery! Upholstery: A whole new use for fabric. I can’t believe I’ve waited this long to try it! In fact, my dining room chairs are in desperate need of a little attention, so a full review of this fun book will be forthcoming.

So who’s bringing us today’s WIP Wednesday? Yes, it’s Canton Village Quilt Works!

Jackie of Canton Village is thrilled to announce that her first book is coming out in September! “Splash of Color” is all about combining rainbow colors with black and white for some really eye-catching quilts. Splash of Color is available for pre-order right now.

GIVEAWAY: To celebrate, Canton Village is offering a $25 gift certificate! Thank you, Jackie!

To enter the giveaway, do any or all of the following (each one gets you one chance to win):
1. Comment on this post
2. Post a photo on Instagram with the hashtag #wipwednesday
3. Link up your own WIP Wednesday blog post or Instagram photo below

COUPON CODE: And you don’t have to wait for that gift certificate—Canton Village is also offering my readers 10% off any purchase! Use code 10freshpieced at checkout.

Okay, what are you working on? Let’s see it!

LINK-UP RULES:

1. Link up any blog post or Instagram photo from the past week that features an unfinished work-in-progress (WIP).
2. To link an Instagram photo, click the “Add Your Link” button below, then click on the Instagram icon at the bottom of the screen that pops up. You should then be able to select any of your recent Instagram photos. Where it says “Link,” use the URL of your Instagram feed (for example, my URL is www.instagram.com/freshlypieced). Please hashtag your IG post #wipwednesday.
3. If you are linking to a blog post, please link back here to my blog somewhere in your post.

4. Comment on at least a few of the other WIP Wednesday links, either IG or blog—commenting on the two or three links directly before yours works well to make sure everyone gets comments!

IMG_6689sm-3
, ,

WIP Wednesday: Countdown to Summer

School ends for my kids in just over a week, so this week the countdown is on to get things done before they (and their various summer activities) dominate my days!

But first things first! My newest pattern, Moroccan Lanterns, is now available! I’ll have a full blog post with all the details about Moroccan Lanterns tomorrow, but for those of you who have been waiting for it, it is officially available for purchase today, and the PDF pattern is on sale through Sunday for just $4.99. So go grab it now from my pattern shop, and/or come back tomorrow for full details on this one!
As for WIPs, I’m still plugging away at my kaleidoscope baby quilt. I am determined to finish it ASAP! Also on my list before the kids get done with school: Organizing my pantry and finishing some trim painting. Not sewing-related, but fully necessary.
This week’s WIP Wednesday is brought to you by LimaSews! LimaSews offers fabric and custom long-arm quilting, so it’s truly a one-stop shop. Check out their Clearance/Remnant section for some super fab deals!
GIVEAWAY: This week, LimaSews is giving away a $30 gift certificate to one lucky reader! Yay!To enter the giveaway, do any or all of the following (each one gets you one chance to win):
1. Comment on this post
2. Post a photo on Instagram with the hashtag #wipwednesday
3. Link up your own WIP Wednesday blog post or Instagram photo below

COUPON CODE: LimaSews is also giving my readers 20% off purchases in the fabric shop, this week only! Use code FRESH2015 at checkout.

So, what are you working on? Let’s see it!

LINK-UP RULES:

1. Link up any blog post or Instagram photo from the past week that features an unfinished work-in-progress (WIP).
2. To link an Instagram photo, click the “Add Your Link” button below, then click on the Instagram icon at the bottom of the screen that pops up. You should then be able to select any of your recent Instagram photos. Where it says “Link,” use the URL of your Instagram feed (for example, my URL is www.instagram.com/freshlypieced). Please hashtag your IG post #wipwednesday.
3. If you are linking to a blog post, please link back here to my blog somewhere in your post.

4. Comment on at least a few of the other WIP Wednesday links, either IG or blog—commenting on the two or three links directly before yours works well to make sure everyone gets comments!

 

IMG_6322-2
,

WIP Wednesday: Now With More Purple

Welcome to another WIP Wednesday! It’s been a super busy week around here as I try to get these new pattern quilts done.
I’ve been paper-piecing like a crazy woman.
And I’m sooooo happy with the results!

 

And here’s the start of my other new pattern quilt. Apparently I like purple lately. Where did that come from? : )

 

This week’s WIP Wednesday is brought to you by Pink Castle Fabrics.

Pink Castle has Morning Walk by Leah Duncan for Art Gallery in now, as well as Sara Lawson’s Fantasia. And check out this limited edition box of Bonnie and Camille basics! Drool.

And what are you working on? Let’s see it!

LINK-UP RULES:

1. Link up any blog post or Instagram photo from the past week that features an unfinished work-in-progress (WIP).
2. To link an Instagram photo, click the Instagram icon at the bottom of the link-up screen, and use the URL of your IG feed as the link (for example, my URL is www.instagram.com/freshlypieced). Please hashtag #wipwednesday.
3. If you are linking to a blog post, please link back here to my blog somewhere in your post.
4. Comment on at least a few of the other WIP Wednesday links, either IG or blog—commenting on the two or three links directly before yours works well to make sure everyone gets comments!

 

ScreenShot2015-01-06at11.42.28PM-1
, ,

WIP Wednesday: Aaaand We’re Back

Happy 2015, you guys! I hope your holidays were happy and included lots of sewing time. : ) I had a busy couple of weeks, and am happy to be back to our normal schedule now. Or whatever passes for normal around here.

I spent my holiday break working on a baby quilt. I’m using Elizabeth Hartman’s Preppy the Whale pattern. The baby’s mom is a veterinarian, so an animal-related quilt seemed like a good idea. (Not that she treats whales or anything. But I think she’ll like it anyway.)

These whales are just so darn happy.

I was planning to quilt it with a free-motion stipple, but then I realized—scallop quilting! Because WHALES. This is the same quilting method as my Chandelier quilt—the scallop decorative stitch on my Bernina 750 (stitch #719), along with my even-feed foot. It is soooo easy.

This week’s WIP Wednesday is brought to you by Intrepid Thread. Intrepid Thread has Doe by Carolyn FriedlanderPetal and Plume by Bari J., and some awesome canvas called Geo Pop in stock now! Go check it all out!

GIVEAWAY: Julie from Intrepid Thread has a fabulous one for you guys this week!  She decided to use the most recent photo posted on my blog as inspiration to create a bundle—no matter what that photo happened to be. As it turned out, it was my white Christmas tree from this post. : ) So you won’t be surprised to hear that I am seriously in looooove with the bundle shown above! And one of you is getting it, completely free!

To win the bundle, do any or all of the following (each gets you one chance to win):
1. Comment on this post
2. Post a photo on Instagram with the hashtag #wipwednesday
3. Link up your own WIP Wednesday blog post or Instagram photo below


LINK-UP RULES:

1. Link up any blog post or Instagram photo from the past week that features an unfinished work-in-progress (WIP).
2. To link an Instagram photo, click the Instagram icon at the bottom of the link-up screen, and use the URL of your IG feed as the link (for example, my URL is www.instagram.com/freshlypieced). Please hashtag #wipwednesday.
3. If you are linking to a blog post, please link back here to my blog somewhere in your post.
4. Comment on at least a few of the other WIP Wednesday links, either IG or blog—commenting on the two or three links directly before yours works well to make sure everyone gets comments!
Have a great week!

 

IMG_5340-2
,

Choosing a Neutral, Part 2: My Kona Cheat Sheet

Yesterday we talked about questions you can ask yourself in order to identify a great neutral for your next quilt. So now that you’ve narrowed down the options as far as value and warm/cool, how do you choose from the eleventy thousand solid shades now on the market?

It’s daunting, isn’t it? I love love love the variety of solids we have now—there are now probably twice as many choices now as when I started quilting seven years ago. But sometimes that dazzling variety can also get overwhelming. Grays are particularly challenging, since grays can have any color cast in the spectrum, and different grays don’t always go together. So let’s break it down, shall we?

My go-to solids brand is Kona Cotton by Robert Kaufman, and I know that’s what many of you go for as well. It also happens to be the line with the most colors by far—303 shades, as of a few months ago! So to make the selections a little easier for you, I’ve put together a Kona Cotton Neutrals Cheat Sheet. You can download a FREE PDF of the Cheat Sheet by clicking here. Print it out and keep it with your color card, or just open the PDF on your phone or your tablet while you’re shopping.

 

My Kona Neutrals Cheat Sheet does the legwork on Kona Neutrals for you. For each color category—Grays, Browns, and Whites—I’ve determined whether particular shades qualify as “Warmer” or “Cooler.” From there, I’ve also selected a few shades in each color group that I believe to be your “Most Neutral Choices.” While the “Most Neutral Choices” shades are also categorized as either warmer or cooler, these are the ones I think fall closest to the middle of that spectrum.

A few things to note: First, my Warmer and Cooler designations are all relative. For example, brown skews warm most of the time. So even the “cooler” browns on my Cheat Sheet are still a bit on the warm side—but relative to all the other browns on the Kona color card, these are the coolest.

Second: Remember how I said in the last post that color is subjective? That goes double for this post! : ) My warm and cool designations are just the opinions of little old me. I think I’ve got a pretty good eye for these things, but still, you should take my categorizing with a grain of salt. Lighting and other nearby colors can change how a particular shade looks. So please use my Cheat Sheet simply as a starting point—there’s no substitute for seeing and comparing the colors in person, if possible!

Finally, let’s talk briefly about the “Color Neutrals” category. Under this category, I’ve listed some of the Kona colors that I think work really well as neutrals, along with the general color family of each. This is by no means a complete list—it’s just some of my past and present favorites. There are so many others you could try. Really, any color that isn’t bright or saturated could work as a “color neutral”—explore the possibilities!

My favorite quilt in which I used a color neutral is this one, made from the Sherbet Pips line by Aneela Hoey:

The prints I used here are very heavy on the warm colors, all red and pink. So Kona Ice Frappe for the background was a great choice, because it cooled off the temperature of the quilt significantly.

In fact, here’s a handy tip for using color neutrals that comes straight from my experience with my Sherbet Pips quilt: If you’re using one fabric line (as I was in this quilt), consider pulling your background color straight from that line’s color palette. In this case, I simply left out all the Sherbet Pips prints in blue, then chose a soft blue background that matched the blue prints I didn’t use. No muss, no fuss!

I hope this “Choosing a Neutral” series has been helpful to you, and that the Kona Neutrals Cheat Sheet comes in handy as well! Now go find the perfect neutral for that gorgeous pile of fabric you pulled the other day. Happy sewing!

IMG_5340-3
,

Choosing a Neutral For Your Quilt: Part 1

One question I’ve heard from blog readers and other quilters over and over is, “How do you choose a neutral?” Since my quilts almost always have a neutral solid background, I’ve been meaning to write a blog post (or two) on this subject for ages, and I finally got my act together and did it. Here’s the thing though: I wish I could give you an easy answer to this question, but sadly, I can’t. It’s not an exact science, by any means. Color is subjective, it’s affected by other colors around it, and it’s always and forever a matter of personal opinion. : ) It’s not an “If X, then choose Y” situation, is what I’m saying.

Still, there are some questions you can ask yourself to help select a neutral for your next quilt. Read on!

1. Dark or light? I think the first thing to consider is whether you want a neutral that is dark, light, or somewhere in between. To determine this, ask yourself whether you want a high-contrast look, or something that blends a bit more? Do you want this quilt to be bold and graphic, with a “kapow” quality to it, or do you want it to have a softer, more subtle effect?

Once you’ve answered those questions, take a look at the other colors or prints you’re using in the quilt. If you’re using a lot of light, bright prints, and you’re going for a high-contrast look, maybe a dark gray will set off your prints most effectively. Conversely, if the other colors in your quilt are bold and higher-value, a white might be the way to go.

For example, take this Cartwheels quilt that I made last year:

You’ll notice that the prints I used have a fair amount of white in them. And while a few of the prints are on the darker side, overall they tend toward the lighter end of the spectrum. I usually love for my quilts to be high-contrast and very graphic, so I decided a darker neutral was the way to go, to really contrast with those lighter prints.

But what if I had gone with something lighter? Could that have been a good choice as well? Thanks to the magic of Photoshop, we can see what this quilt would have looked like with a lighter gray background:

Hmm. It doesn’t have the impact of the original, does it? It’s not horrible or anything—in fact, the softer look might be perfect for a baby quilt (and is very similar to the color scheme of my original Cartwheels quilt, which was, in fact, made for a baby). But there’s no denying that this doesn’t have the same punch as the original, and I love me some punchy quilts. That punch comes from the contrast.

(By the way, if you’re having trouble seeing the value in fabric you’ve selected, try taking a picture and turning it grayscale to help make the values more apparent. I find the easiest and quickest way to take and view a grayscale photo is to use my phone and turn the photo black-and-white with Instagram’s Willow filter!)

2. Warm or cool? Now that you’ve narrowed down the light-or-dark question, the next factor to look at is whether you want a neutral that is warm or cool. Take a look at the rest of your color palette for the quilt: Is it primarily warm, primarily cool, or a relatively even mix of both? And do you want the neutral to counteract and balance out the warmth or coolness in your color palette, or should the neutral emphasize it and bring that aspect of the design out even further?

Let’s go back to that Cartwheels quilt from the first example:

I used primarily cool-colored prints in this quilt. Even the yellows are a bit on the cool side for yellow—they have a slight greenish cast. I wanted to emphasize that coolness with a cool neutral, so I chose Kona Graphite.

But let’s Photoshop it up again, this time with a warmer neutral (the color shown is probably in the vicinity of Kona Smoke):

Wow! The background color is not all that different, but the overall effect is startling, isn’t it? It’s amazing how a simple warm/cool shift can bring about such dramatic changes.

Again, there’s really no right or wrong answer here. It’s all just personal preference and what kind of look you’re going for. I happen to vastly prefer the original—the warmer neutral muddies the whole thing for me. But that might be exactly what you like about it, and that’s perfectly fine. And with some print/color combinations, balancing the coolness or the warmth might be just what the doctor ordered.

Regardless of your color preferences, it’s just good to make an informed decision, isn’t it? And that’s the goal of this post, to help you be more informed about your neutral selections. : )

So now that you have a framework for choosing a neutral, exactly which neutrals will fit the bill? Tomorrow I’ll be posting the second half of my Choosing a Neutral series, with my handy-dandy Kona Cotton Neutrals Cheat Sheet! The Cheat Sheet will help you identify which Kona solid neutrals are cooler, which are warmer, and which are more middle-of-the-road. See you then!