floral quilt

A New Floral Quilt

 

 
floral quilt

During our April spring break trip to Florida, I read 15 Minutes of Play by Victoria Findlay Wolfe. This quilt book intrigued me because it isn’t so much about the process and precise technique of making a quilt, or recipes for specific projects. Really it’s more about the concept of quiltmaking and relating it back to the idea of play to spark creativity. Not about practicing a skill, but composing as you sew, raiding your scraps, and creatively letting go- the perfect book to read on vacation, right?

Last week I finally started toying around with the idea of “playing for 15 minutes” in the studio, just to see where it would take me. You see, I had found myself smack dab in the middle of a creative rut. Hence my blog absence.

Nothing was happening.

Not a thing.

The idea is quite simple. Create “made fabric” by essentially crazy-piecing together scraps of fabric until the quilt block is the desired size, then squaring it up in block size. Now to state the obvious, this is not a new concept. Crazy piecing has been done as long as quiltmaking has been around, there are many books and classes out there that cover this idea from different angles (Denyse’s improvisational piecing workshop I took a few years ago is a great example). But the spontaneous angle, the 15 minutes of play idea that got me thinking. Not feeling very inspired creatively at that point, I thought this concept might get me going. In the midst of our busy schedule, I figured I could find 15 minutes somewhere.

floral quilt

So I snuck in some playing… in the afternoon, evening after dinner, or morning before school drop off, I made a quick block. Not much thinking… just grabbed, sewed, trimmed (if needed)…grabbed, sewed, trim… I keep my scraps in clear plastic bins divided by color (a chore nicely maintained by my son for a small fee), so I did one scrappy block per bin/color, plus some whatever goes blocks.

 

For some reason, the more I got into this, I found myself loving the pinks and yellows most, so I made more of those. I kept playing, then I decided it needed some negative space, and worked a star into the design. If I didn’t like it, I could change it. This was all play, right?

Once I was ready to quilt, I spontaneously started doodling with the thread inside the star, in colors that coordinated with the scrappy blocks. This is really the only part of this process when I had to feel brave and just go for it, I knew this to totally screw up what I’d already done.

More to come, I’m feeling like the creativity is flowing again!

 

 

jewel-boxes-quilt

jewel boxes

jewel-boxes-quilt

jewel-boxes-quilt

 

The Jewel Boxes Quilt is done! I began this quilt, or I should say, I began the scrappy improvisation blocks for this quilt, during the first workshop I took with Denyse Schmidt. You can see my blocks from that weekend more in the second part of the write-up. In the class, we randomly grabbed and pieced small strips together using her paper bag piecing method. This is just what it sounds like, grabbing little bits of fabric from brown paper bags, with absolutely no thought as to what gets paired with what, or what color combinations result. (This is exactly why so many of the blocks you see from her classes have that beautifully random, “use what you have” homespun look.)

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Friday Favorites: Echo Star Patchwork Quilt


I am inspired by so many things, I decided that every Friday, I will highlight a favorite person, thing, or idea. Maybe you will be inspired too! See all past Friday Favorites here.

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Updated to add: The Echo Star quilt is now available as a PDF pattern here!

Sometimes making a quilt from my head is all about exploration of what looks right together, or what type of patterning might seem harmonious, really just playing with the possibilities, hoping I will like the outcome. (That was definitely the case with Sunshine Medallion.) But there are times when my mind’s eye has a crystal clear vision from the very beginning of what I want the end result to be. That was the case with this quilt, Echo Star.

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Jelly Roll

How to Sew A Jelly Roll Race Quilt

Jelly Roll

The jelly roll race quilt. Maybe you’ve heard of it? If you haven’t, you’re in for a treat, because it is, quite possibly, one of the fastest quilt tops you will ever make! I made mine in an hour once I cut my own strips. I was looking for a project to practice free motion quilting doodle flowers on (I’m still doodling flowers on everything), and this seemed perfect for that. I thought I’d share how I made mine in case you’d like to make one.

A “jelly roll” of fabric is literally a roll of 2 1/2″ x 44″ pre-cut strips of fabric, and a roll usually has 30-40 strips. These are usually created and sold to feature prints in a particular line (one or more strip of each print included) or groups of, say, coordinating solids. A lap or baby-sized quilt can be made from 1 jelly roll. Because I love to reuse and upcycle to create a more unique look, I used a combination of both new and repurposed fabrics. If you want to make your own jelly roll strips, just cut 2 1/2 inch wide strips across the width of any fabric. If you are reusing fabrics that aren’t 44 inches wide, still cut 2 1/2 inch wide strips, you’ll just need more of them.

I added in a few jelly roll strips from Denyse Schmidt’s Chicopee line which I bought at her workshop last summer. I also cut strips of Carolyn Friedlander’s Architextures line (love this line!) and the rest are repurposed fabrics– the bright blue were a pair of J Crew corduroy pants, the gray was a pinpoint oxford shirt, the pink check was a blouse, and the rest were from my stash, all from the thrift store.

Jelly Roll Race Quilt Instructions

1. Unwrap the jelly roll (or create a stack of self-cut strips yourself. You’ll need about 40-45 strips, each measuring 2 1/2″ wide by approximately 42″ long). Sew them together, end-to-end, at a 45 degree angle, like the photo below, just as you would sew strips together for binding. Sew a diagonal stitch line from the top left edge of the top strip to the right lower corner where both of the strips meet. You will cut away all but 1/4 inch seam allowance later. (Note: There is really no need to pre-plan or worry too much about which strips will go where, just let them fall where they fall, or give them one shuffle before you start, and you won’t be disappointed.)

Jelly Roll

 

 

After you complete this step of sewing all the jelly rolls together, end to end, you will have a 1600″ long strip if you have 40 strips. Trim off the tails, trim the seam allowances away, but no need to iron till the end. Cut off the first 18″ or so of the long strip. This ensures that your joined seams are staggered across the quilt, and not all on the edges.

2. Fold the entire long strip in half, lengthwise, and sew it all together. Snip open where the end makes a fold, creating an 800″ long strip.

Jelly Roll

3. Repeat step 2, and watch your strip get shorter, yet wider, each time. Your quilt top is forming!

4. Continue repeating step 2 over and over until you have your completed quilt top in the width and length you want. (This is where the “race” comes in, a little healthy competition between quilt groups to see who finishes these steps first.)

Jelly Roll
5. Iron, baste into a sandwich, quilt, and bind (here’s a video I did to show you how), and your quilt is done!

Jelly Roll

I spent the afternoon doodle stitching/quilting away. A bit rumpled in a few places where I was having some tension problems, but overall I am quite happy with how it turned out. Next time- contrasting thread flowers, for sure.

Jelly Roll

Jelly Roll Race Quilt

Welcome!