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 and 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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Echo Star Quilt Progress

quilt progress
Oh…this quilt…. I love it so much. What began as a painting, then became a pillow, and now this large version. It has been so incredibly nice to just hunker down and work feverishly sewing this up during the drear and drip of winter. Somehow it feels so cheerful to me. Edited to add: This quilt is now completed, and available as a PDF pattern!
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Friday Favorites: Quilt Artist Luke Haynes

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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Luke Haynes
Today I bring you the quilted world of Luke Haynes. I learned about Luke through his exhibition at Island Quilter last year that I couldn’t attend (boo!). A self-proclaimed “architect turned quilter”, he creates quilts often using used clothing (my favorite fabric for quilts). His pieces can be powerful, tongue in cheek, thought provoking, and stand alone statements.
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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.

 

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Free Motion Stitching in the Studio

Crazy Star Quilt

Crazy Quilt

 As I suspected, finishing unfinished projects seems to be good for the blahs. I put my nose down toward the sewing machine last week and finished the crazy star quilt I’d started a while ago. I held my breath as I used the walking foot on my Bernina for the first time to quilt straight lines across the star, then continued to hold my breath while I free motioned the entire quilt around the star with loop-d-loops. (Are these out of style? Oh please say they aren’t!). Everything worked just like it was supposed to (I love my sewing machine!) and I finished hand-stitching the binding while Peter and I watched Alaska State Troopers on Saturday night (don’t you want to party with us?).

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Crazy Star

star
Back in July, shortly after I came home from my weekend in Portland, I started working on the “Crazy Star” pattern from Denyse’s book, to use in our family room (we only have three quilts in there, apparently that’s not enough cause we’re always negotiating for usage). I spent an afternoon piecing the strips for the stars, which are foundation pieced onto a piece of quilter’s muslin. Well, actually it took less than an afternoon. This pattern is free and fast, once I decided which fabrics to use. That takes me a while. I knew I wanted to use strong blues and greens, but I cut into some beloved old ones to go in here. In an effort to use and not hoard fabric, I’m showing no mercy these days. (If I have it and love it, why not use it?)
My biggest dilemma at this point is what the base fabric color will be. A solid, for sure.
This one’s going to be mine, I think. I love it so much.
 

My Weekend at PNCA Part 2

More about the workshop I started telling you about yesterday…
Denyse wanted us to start thinking about and planning our own blocks during the second half of the class. I let my thoughts stew for the evening on Saturday, there was pizza and ice cream to be consumed with the Franz family. And laughing… lots of laughing.
So, the next day, it was time to start thinking and planning. I realized what I loved most about those first improvisational blocks were the tiny pieces of fabrics I kept pulling from the original brown bags. Teeny tiny pieces. I’d never done much piecing with fabric this size. It opened my eyes to the different effects of cutting down a large patterned fabric, or using a tiny piece of fabric in a bright color, bordered by a larger, calming block. I began sketching an idea using those little tiny pieces sewn together, thinking of them like little jewels, and surrounding them with lots of white, and fabrics I would “pretend were white”- I’ll explain.
I showed my idea to Denyse and the fabric that I brought. She quickly began to separate some of my tiny prints into the “white” or neutral pile, suggesting I treat them as solids. I took a picture of my stack-
 

And the prints I had to work with, a collection of yarndyes, thrifted men’s shirtings, yarndye plaid, etc-

I started playing around before lunch and made one block. I was only marginally happy with it, but making it made me realize what it was lacking and what I needed to do. I wanted to be as improvisational as those first blocks, and I felt like I was making too many rigid decisions and editing too much.

So I did my own version of paper bag piecing so I would take the picking and choosing out of the process. I would just grab and sew with whatever I got (I made sure to put in all the fabrics I thought were suitable, so I wasn’t picking crazy stuff). Also, Denyse made the suggestion that on those next pieces to concentrate only on the inner “jewel boxes” themselves first, and not the outer white spaces that made up the rest of the block. That was a brilliant idea that I hadn’t considered, and made it much easier. After lunch I made 3 more jewel boxes (I could have made more, but a small group of us went to lunch with Denyse and that was a total treat I couldn’t pass up!).

I am going to continue to play with these. Denyse talked through a couple of variations with me on where to go with this, and I am really inspired. I’ll be sure and post what I come up with.
(this is such a bad picture of me, but I don’t care!)
This girl is cool, and funny, and smart, and just plain nice. I was pretty star struck at first, but to be honest, she’s so approachable and willing to help, you just stop thinking about that.

Denyse has been teaching variations of this course since 2003 and she really knows how to talk through process (as a few of us were discussing on twitter). Not only that, but I really had fun getting to know Denyse herself. There were many of us from out of town, and we tended to hang together during the day and had such fun getting to know each other. It was a treat to be in a room with others all sewing and creating at the same time. Sewing as I do can be a solitary activity (not that I don’t love a stretch of time alone to create) and it was a nice change of pace to create and get inspired within a group. No blogs, no websites, just creative talking, sewing and support. I highly suggest switching gears and being a student when the opportunity arises. I want to try and do this from time to time.
Now to wait for Denyse’s new book to come out! Spring ’12!
 

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