Tea Ceremony Table Runner Revisited

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This week Stitch magazine added a bunch of patterns to their downloadable catalog.  My Tea Ceremony Table Runner was one of them, so if you missed the original issue, you can now buy the pattern individually (and on sale, too!  Yippee!!).

Seeing that design again reminded me of how many iterations an idea goes through before becoming a finished pattern.  The inspiration for this table runner came from an idea I had when I started blogging (nearly three years ago).  I wanted a banner quilt for the website, using my favorite colors, and coffee, and hexagons.  Here’s the “rough draft” original idea that eventually worked into the Stitch table runner:

Coffee table runner

(Please ignore the wobbly seams and wonky edges, I was learning quite a bit about appliqueing EPP shapes to felt.  And rule number one is:  don’t sew white fabric to black felt, lol!)

And if you’re curious, the cookies in the picture are Almond Toffee Sandies, a fab recipe I discovered this week.  They’re not too sweet, and delicious with a cup of coffee (or tea!)

Now I’m off to my local sewing machine shop to pick up a “ruler foot” for my Janome.  More on that after I’ve experimented with it– but I’m super-excited about learning an entirely new set of free-motion quilting skills!

Happy Stitching!!

emily

 

 

Posted in Hexagons, Recipes | 3 Comments

Little Crosses

Little crosses

 

The little crosses for my first Japanese taupe project have been a welcome takealong project lately when I need a break from my current pattern design project, or the Hoffman Challenge quilt.  I can finish one of these little blocks in about half an hour, and it’s so fun to see how each one turns out.

So for today, I thought I’d share my progess and methodology on creating these crosses.  All the instruction in the book is a line drawing of the finished block.

Here’s my design wall with all the crosses I’ve made so far.  Only a couple more to go, yippee!

 

design wall

I’m tracing each shape on the reverse side of my fabric with a mechanical pencil and plastic template.  Then I add a quarter inch with my ruler as I’m cutting each shape.  (And I experimented with only adding an eighth of an inch on some of the blocks, which is why some look smaller.  I don’t recommend the eighth of an inch.  It’s way too fiddly to sew.)

I start with the middle square, wrong side facing me, and add the four little tumbler shapes around the square.  I stitch this without knotting and trimming the thread at the corners.

block arrangement1

Then I add the middle triangles and corner triangles, sewing a continuous stitching line with the tumbler/square unit on top.

block arrangement 2

I press all at the end, swirling the seams around the corners of the square, and pressing all the corner triangles toward the triangle.

pressing

 

So, what have you been stitching lately?  Read any good books?  Martingale just released a slew of exciting new books, so I’m planning to have some reviews for you soon.  And in case you’re looking for a fun project, my new frosted hexi patterns are still on sale in my Craftsy shop.

Linking up to the Fabric Frenzy Friday at Fort Worth Quilting Studio:

Fort Worth Fabric Studio Blog

 

Happy Stitching!

emily

 

Posted in Japanese Quilting | 5 Comments

Two New Frosted Hexagon Patterns

Last December, my Frosted Hexagon Coffee Cup Cuff appeared in Stitch magazine.  The technique for making frosted hexagons (also known as “quilt as you go” or “hickory nut” hexagons) is such an irresistably fun one that I designed several more new patterns to use them. One includes the original cuff design, just in case you missed that issue of Stitch :-)

For the first pattern, Wilmington Prints provided me with some fabulous flannel fabrics.  The line is called Playful Penguins by StellaJean, and you’ll be seeing it in your favorite quilt store next month.  I had so much fun fussy cutting these cute little guys!  If you’ve never worked with flannel before, this project works VERY well with it.

Playful Penguins fabric

Here they are all worked up in my new Frosted Hexagon Scarf and Cuff pattern:

hex scarf

(I know, we’re all ready for spring, and no one wants to be thinking about snuggly scarves right now.  Just think of it this way– you can make one now, and tuck it away with your winter things.  Then next winter, you’ll have a lovely surprise snuggled in with your sweaters, all ready to enjoy!)

hex cuff

Or, you can make the scarf in bright cheerful colors, like Hello Gorgeous by Melissa Ybarra for Windham Fabrics.  Perfect for these spring days when the weather can’t quite decide whether to be warm or chilly.

scarf2

And here’s my second Frosted Hexagon Pattern, a table topper and coaster set.  I LOVE the lacy effect of the hexagons and open spaces.  This set is made with V&Co’s awesome Simply Style Metro collection for Moda.

table topper coaster

As another color option, here are the coasters made with Cream and Sugar by Ampersand Studios for Windham Fabrics.  I love all the fussy-cutting possibilities with this pattern!

coaster2

As always, these patterns include lots of diagrams, and instructions for making the hexagons by hand or machine.  I provided templates for you to trace onto plastic, or you can go straight to the fun part of creating these hexies by using the terrific Just Hexagons Nested templates from Marti Michell.  I especially like how the acrylic templates aid in fussy-cutting, and aligning your stack of hexagons.

Both of these patterns are available from my Craftsy store for a special new sale price this week.  Printed versions are coming soon to a quilt store near you!

Happy Stitching!!

 

Posted in Hexagons | 3 Comments

Japanese Quilting Study Group-Finding Taupes in Your Stash

JQSG

Welcome to month two of my blog series, Japanese Quilting Study Group.  This post is part of a series chronicling my journey through Yoko Saito’s book, “Japanese Taupe Color Theory.”  For this post, I’ll be sharing my adventures in finding taupe fabrics from my stash.

One of the nuances of this book that amazes me the most is how many different colors Yoko Saito uses to achieve her iconic taupe palettes.  Seriously, I’ve found nearly every color except true yellow in the book.  But her ability to blend and arrange fabrics means even colors like purple and orange find a balanced place within her soft color schemes.

Coming up with a taupe color palette from my very loud, bright stash was a real challenge.  I cheated a bit, and used some taupe “seed” fabrics purchased a couple of months ago at the Jefferson Quilt show.  I bought these fabrics from the great folks at Piece Keepers. I was immediately drawn to their display of Moda fabrics, and started pulling some soft greens.  Then I looked at the bolt, and discovered they were Quilt Gate fabrics, which is a Japanese company!

Japanese taupe seed fabrics

The linen fabrics on the right are French, and the line is Coleur Nature from Mas d’Ouvan.  I thought they looked like some of the soft homespuns in the taupe color theory book.

So, with these fabrics in hand, I started looking for fabrics from my stash to embellish the set.  The book has good tips for picking fabrics and balancing the range of shades, and I came up with some random unmarked fabric, a bit of Downton Abbey from Andover, and some classic scraps of the original Paris Flea Market from Three Sisters for Moda.

adding stash fabrics

 

I think these colors work, although the brown in the middle really started looking orange in the photographs.  Here’s my light to dark, grey to tea colored arrangement (with the green color wheel in the corner for reference):

taupe color wheel

So far, so good.  The book is divided into three sections.  In the first section, all the emphasis is on fabric selection and usage within simple blocks.  Later in the book, we’ll get to projects like tote bags, but section one is just blocks. So I chose the Greek Cross block, mostly because it looked like fun to piece.

Greek Cross pattern

 

The directions for piecing the block is simply a scale diagram of one of the crosses.  I couldn’t wait to try it out.  I’ll explain more of how I did it in a future post, and will include some fabric yardages for reference, but here’s how the first little cross turned out:first block

The pieces are tiny.  The whole block finishes at under 9 inches, which means each little cross block is less than 3 inches tall.  Cool!  Piecing it by hand took me less than fifteen minutes, but I couldn’t put it down and was almost late picking up my kids from school.  Oops.

Last night when trolling pinterest, I found this fantastic blog post by a lady who actually got to take a class from Yoko Saito.  How fun would that be?!?  Anyone know where I could get a thread cutter like hers?

Next month, I’ll be sharing some good online resources for authentic Japanese Taupe fabrics.

Linking up to:

Fort Worth Fabric Studio Blog

(and Fort Worth Fabric Studio also carries Quilt Gate Fabrics.  And a lot of gorgeous American fabrics that would also be a great start to a taupe stash.  I’m just sayin’!)

Happy Stitching!

emily

Posted in Japanese Quilting | 13 Comments

Counting Stars

There’s a popular song on the radio right now that my kids adore, called Counting Stars.  It’s fast becoming my theme song for this new quilt pattern as well.  Because there will be a LOT of stars in this one.  I’ve given up on counting the diamonds– those numbers scare me.  Here’s a sneak peak, a glimpse of what last week’s strips are becoming:

Counting Stars

 

I’ve been sewing lots of hexagons and diamonds by machine, for this quilt and several others, which has given me lots of time to experiment with different y-seam methods.  I’ve tried backstitching, turning the quilt, and using a “quilter’s short stitch” to start and end my seams.  So far, my Janome and I both prefer the short stitch method.  I nearly ruined my tension permanently by backstitching at the start and end of seams, the machine really hated that notion.  Turning the quilt becomes a pain when you’re sewing the last couple of big seams into a queen-sized hexagon quilt.

But the short stitch method works rather well.  My only gripe with it was having to press and hold the button on my machine to go from a length of 2.2 to 1.0 on every seam. I tried looking through my Janome manual to program the stitches, but was unsuccessful.  Then my hubby suggested looking online for a tutorial.  Sure enough, the Janome website has an awesome little tutorial for programming that stitch.  If you have a Janome, you can find the tutorial here.  Loving it!!

I’m also loving the lovely spring weather we’re starting to enjoy.  Speaking of, I promised my kiddos a trip to the park this afternoon. . . .

Happy Stitching (or running amok on a playground! :-) )

emily

Posted in projects | 5 Comments

Strips Galore

Our week has been a little off-kilter.  Perhaps it’s the weather.  The kids had no school on Monday due to icy roads, and today we’re off to the park because it’s 70 degrees and beautiful outside.  Gotta love Texas temperature changes.  Staying in on Monday, though, meant more sewing time.  I’m one seam away from a completed quilt top on the fireball quilt, yippee!  And I’ve started on a new project.

The pattern has been rattling around my head for several years, just waiting for the ideal fabric.  Moda has some awesome Christmas lines coming out this summer, so the quilt jumped to the top of my priority list. Before I start stitching Christmas colors, though, I wanted to make a rough draft, a chance to work through all the blocks and measurements and pressing possibilities before cutting into brand-new fabric.  Here’s a sneak peak of how far I’ve gotten:

lots of strips

 

I “shopped my stash” for fabrics, and really had fun coming up with a color scheme that worked from the limited choices. I think it will be a good alternate color scheme to show alongside the Christmasy fabrics for the cover quilt. The purples and sage-y teals are a calming break from the wild fireball colors of last week.  I’m excited to see how this one plays out.

Next week is Spring Break for my kiddos, so I don’t know how much progress I’ll make in the studio.  I am, however, wrapping up two new patterns that will hopefully be available in the next couple of weeks.

 

Linking up with Fort Worth Fabric Studio.  I love the coral/turquoise fabric bundle they’re featuring this week!

Fort Worth Fabric Studio Blog

Happy Stitching!

emily

Posted in projects | 7 Comments

Work in Progress Wednesday- Fireball Quilt

Fireball Quilt?  Did I miss a post somewhere?  Where did THIS quilt come from?  Yeah, I’m a little baffled by the whole thing too.  Suffice it to say, this quilt didn’t exist a week ago, not even in my head.  Certainly not on my to-do list.

Then a bunch of random things happened.  One quilt I had been working on went terribly awry (more on that later).  I got burnt out on deadline quilts. I realized I needed a gift, quickly, for a special member of my extended family.  JoAnn’s was having a sale on fabric.  And I suddenly remembered the awesome kaleidescope templates I bought last year at Quilt Festival.

All those converged into these blocks:

fireball

One quilt for a young man who loves orange, red and black.  Several relaxing days of sewing for me, using a template and book system so elegant, so clever, that all of my blocks are came together fabulously, and frustration-free.  (I love From Marti Michell templates.  Have I mentioned that before?!?)

So that’s my work-in-progress for the week.  Bonus is, I get to link up to Lee’s WIP Wednesday, for the first time ever (and you should click over and enjoy all the fun quilty inspiration).  Happiness.  I love it when all things converge serendipitously.  Even if it means quilting in orange and black, which is WAY outta my color comfort zone.

Happy Stitching!

emily

Posted in projects | 17 Comments

Nine-Patch Star

Ever since I first looked through Quilter’s Academy Volume 4 (see my original post about it here), I’ve been interested in the Nine Patch Star.

9 patch star

 

 

 

 

 

Last night I pulled out some fabric and made the diamonds for one.  The book’s directions were excellent, and I was pleased with how well it went together.  My diamonds are a bit smaller than they should be though, so now I need to go back and figure out if I’m sewing too big a seam allowance, or not pressing correctly.  If I can get that straight, these mesmerizing stars will be going into a new pattern.

For as much as I’ve been quilting the past week, one photo seems a little paltry for a blog post.  But in the next couple weeks, I’ll be sharing a couple of new patterns, a book review with a baby quilt sample, and a new kaleidescope project I’m starting, so bear with me!  What’s on your list for this weekend?

Happy Stitching!

emily

 

Posted in Hexagons, projects | 6 Comments

Book Review: Hexagons Made Easy

Disclaimer:  Martingale Publications kindly provided me with a copy of Hexagons Made Easy.  All opinions expressed in this review are my own.

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Today I’m excited to share a trendy book with you, Hexagons Made Easy by Jen Eskridge.  If you’re a regular at the Caffeinated Quilter, you probably love hexagons as much as I do.  I’ve been piecing hexagons all sorts of ways, English paper piecing, hand and machine stitching with From Marti Michell templates, Inklingo, and using folded hexagon techniques.  But this book provides an unusual technique called facing, and it’s great for big, simple hexagon quilts.

I really enjoyed the lovely photography and modern designs in this book.  Even if you’re a fan of more traditional designs, you’ll find inspirations in the hexagon quilting ideas.

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To test out the instructions, I made the Peekaboo table runner with a charm pack of Over the Rainbow batiks from Moda.  Instead of drafting my own template (which she describes in detail so you can make hexagons in any size you like), I used the 2″ acrylic template in the From Marti Michell template set G.  This little table runner went together very quickly.  I love that it’s reversible.  The instructions were well-written and easy to follow.  I can see making more of these when I need a quick gift idea, or new holiday decor.

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Some descriptions of this book label it as an alternative to English paper piecing, so I decided to try out the technique with 1″ hexagons.  I had some leftover Inklingo hexagons, and began sewing them together with the facing technique.  I found the 1″ hexagons to be too small for this method.  The start and stop points were too close to the corners for accuracy, and they were difficult to turn right-side out.  So for tiny hexagons, I think I would stick to traditional methods.

bitty

 

 

 

 

 

 

However, for larger hexagons and hexagons used as appliqued accents, this method is fantastic.  This book also provides a neat section with 18 block ideas that incorporate hexagons into square blocks.  That just opens an entire new world of hexi possibilities. . .

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(This photograph and the cover photo courtesy of Martingale)

Happy Stitching!

emily

Posted in Book Reviews, Hexagons, projects | 3 Comments

New Blog Series: Japanese Quilting Study Group

Month 1-Exploring Japanese Taupe Color Theory

Disclaimer:  Stitch Publications kindly provided me with a copy of Yoko Saito’s Japanese Taupe Color Theory.  All opinions expressed in these posts are my own.

Yoko Saito

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of my favorite memories of Quilt Market was the opportunity to view examples of Yoko Saito’s amazing work in the Stitch Publications booth.  If you’ve been following my blog for any amount of time, you know I’m mesmerized by the complexity and ingenuity of Japanese quilting.  Yoko Saito’s work epitomizes everything I admire about Japanese quilting, and goes a step further by incorporating patchwork into a variety of bags and usable items.

TCSB_Cover for Book_1

 

 

 

 

 

 

Japanese Taupe Color Theory provides exquisite insight into Yoko Saito’s creative world.  The projects and simple photography invite you to admire each piece.  She shows intricate photographs of how two fabrics, cut carefully in different ways, create blocks that look entirely unlike one another.  Every project has a listing of how many fabrics are used, and it’s a fun challenge to see if you can correctly identify each of them in the finished project photograph.

This book is drastically unlike most American quilting books.  She shows you how to use fabrics and explore possibilities, and assumes you know basic quilting skills. In a future post, I’ll explore the projects further, and provide a more in-depth review of the project construction aspect of the book.

Just as it is hard to absorb all of the beautiful information within this book in one sitting, it is hard to review it all in one blog post.  So today marks the beginning of a new blog series I’m calling the “Japanese Quilting Study Group.”  The idea for this series originated with several e-mails I exchanged with Priscilla Knoble, owner of Stitch Publications and editor of the English translation of this book.  We were discussing differences between American and Japanese quilting, and she noted that Japanese quilters tend to study thoroughly under one master teacher, often spending years progressing to more advanced skills.  So I decided to spend a year or so with this book, sharing with you my experiences as I learn.

JQSG

 

 

 

Over the next couple of months, I’ll cover topics like finding fabrics suitable for taupe projects within your own stash, and good places to buy authentic Japanese fabric online.  Then we’ll work through Ms. Saito’s explanations of choosing a palette for a given project, and actually constructing the project.  Later in the year, I’ll share with you thoughts on some of Ms. Saito’s other amazing books available in English. I plan to add one of these posts to the blog each month in 2014, and will have a complete list of all topics in the series posted on the “Japanese Quilting Study Group” tab above.

In the book’s introduction, Ms. Saito sums up the book elegantly:

Taupe is not just grey, or “tea-colored.” The world of taupe that I created encompasses not only a variety of colors, but the subtle manipulation of them. . . .Sometimes, the hidden possibility can only be pulled out of each piece of fabric by seeing it next to others.”

Won’t you journey along with me through this world of intriguing quilty possibility? Grab a blog button from the sidebar, and let’s explore Japanese Quilting!

Happy Stitching!

emily

Posted in Book Reviews, Japanese Quilting | 5 Comments