Thursday, June 26, 2008

Seminole Patchwork

I promise to add dimensions to the strips in the directions below.. but I wanted to at least post pictures for you to see... More soon, I promise!
I have this little side business... I make custom kitty quilts. It sounds funny, but they are now all over the US and the world. Last summer I made this one for my girl, Jasmine. I love graphic designs, and Seminole patchwork has always held a certain appeal. I sewed about 7 pieced bands, but used only 5 in her quilt. Here are some pictures of how three of them are put together.

This is a traditional Seminole band. The black and white strips are about 2" wide, the turquoise one is 1-1/2". After the strips are sewin together, they are cut crosswise into 1-1/2" pieces.
Then every other one is rotated, and the strips are set at a 45 degree angle to make the design shown below.
This next band is not a traditional Seminole design

Friday, June 13, 2008

Wonky Butterfly Tutorial

I wanted a butterfly for something I am making. I looked around for pieced butterflies and didn't find anything that was what I wanted. I wanted a butterfly that looked somewhat real.

I've worked out a tutorial for this butterfly, and you can buy it at my Etsy store.

Click here for my Butterfly Tutorial at The Patchery Menagerie @ Etsy.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Doll Quilt Swap

I've decided to participate in the Doll Quilt Swap.

I will be making a small quilt, no larger than a Gizzy Quilt, for my swap partner. Somebody will be making a quilt for me. This post is to elaborate some of the things I like, so it's easier for the maker of my quilt to know what I like. What's fun, is that it's all secret. Sort of like a Secret Santa.

I love bright colors. This is the wall of my bathroom, along with a bit of an oil painting I love. The walls are Cadmium Yellow, but most folks won't know what that means. When I say they are "school bus yellow, " however, EVERYBODY knows which yellow.
I keep homemade granola in this colorful crock. My cutting boards are behind it.
I inherited my grandmother's mahogany dining room table. I painted a canvas floor cloth to protect it. Again, more very bright colors. And I love black and white checkerboards.
Is it a wonder I have Fiestaware dishes?
And I loved my black and white cats, Jasmine and Gizzy. Both are gone now, andnow my companion is Millie, another tuxedo cat, shown here with her quilt on my pink desk.As you can see, I love color, and do not like browns, beiges, taupes, or muddy or dull colors. I love black and white. I love abstract designs. I love fun. I love wonky.

I have arthritis in my sewing hand, so hand sewing is something I rarely do. So no appliqué for me. No hand quilting, no beading, no embroidery. I simply can't hold a needle for very long. That doesn't mean I wouldn't appreciate any of those things. If you are my Doll Swap Partner, make me a quilt YOU would be proud to display!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

A Little Something Different

I decided I needed a little break from the big project I am working on. I'd bought this fabric a few weeks ago to make a shopping tote, so I finally got around to making it.
It's quite large, 16" wide x 17" tall x 6" deep, and has Timtex in the bottom for shape and a little rigidity. The straps are long enough so the handles can fit over my shoulder. But the best part is that I designed it so it would fold up into this little tiny package, about 6-1/2" x 7-1/2". Next I need to add a little velcro flap so it stays folded.I'll be traveling later this summer, and I always find I need another bag for the stuff I buy. This will fit neatly into my suitcase.

Sunday, June 8, 2008


My son loves his quilt. He showed it off to all his friends at college. After a couple of years, he moved to an off-campus apartment, and got himself a double bed. While the quilt was long enough, it certainly wasn't wide enough. It covered the top of the mattress, but fell over each side by only a couple of inches.

I was having a conversation with my sister and said, "I'm going to have to make him another quilt. The blue one isn't big enough."

"Don't you have some leftover pieces," she asked. Actually, I did.

"Well, why don't you just make it bigger?"

To make it bigger, first we had to take it apart. Much easier if a quilt is tied. So between terms, I asked my son to bring the quilt home. I set him down with the seam ripper. He cut out all the ties, and painstakingly removed the quilt from its backing. Here you can see him at work, with my pile of "leftover pieces" on the table nearby.
I sewed those leftover bits into a strip 16" wide, and added it to one side of the quilt. You can see it in the photo below. It is the slightly darker area on the right side.

The quilt's backing was a sheet, and I had to make that bigger, too. I found a really neat coordinating fabric, and added about 20" to the middle of the backing. Then we tied it every 4 - 6", I folded up the backing to the front, pinned it, and sewed it up, with our cat Gizzy supervising.

Gizzy always had to be in the middle of everything.
I think it might have been easier to make a new quilt "from scratch." I asked my son, and he said, "NO WAY! I didn't want a new quilt."

My son was thrilled with his "bigger" quilt, and took it back to college with him. That was five years ago. Gizzy has gone to the Rainbow Bridge, and my son still has his quilt on his (double) bed.

And he still shows it off to all his friends.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

My Scrap Quilt Process

I made my son this blue quilt to take with him when he went to college. I hadn't made quilts in a long time, and didn't have a stash of fabric from which to select fabrics. So I went to the fabric store and bought half yard pieces of sixteen different fabrics, all blues. This is the finished result.
After I made this quilt, I made a couple more, and eventually developed a system to making the quilts that would allow me a lot of flexibility in my choices, yet use the fabric very efficiently. It had the added benefit of allowing me to easily figure out how big my quilt was getting. I didn't take in-process pictures until I started work on my black quilt.

By that time, I had made several of these quilts and started collecting fabrics for my stash. I noticed I had quite a few fabrics with black backgrounds, and wondered if they would make a successful quilt. So for the next few months, whenever I saw something I thought was pretty neat looking, I bought a half yard. After a while I felt I had enough, so I got started.

I always prewash all my fabrics. I bring them directly to the laundry room, bypassing my sewing area completely. This way, anything I want to use is ready.

I cut all the fabrics into 2-1/2" and 4-1/2" strips using a rotary cutter. Then I cut the strips in half crosswise, and matched a wide strip with a thin one. After sewing those and pressing them, I cut the strips into "chunks" of three sizes: 2-1/2", 4-1/2" and 6-1/2", as you can see across the top of my cutting table below:
One note: I have found it much easier to tilt my cutting table at an angle. I use a large drafting table, and I have a large cutting mat. I have a series of plexiglas strips 24" long by each measurement I want to use. I cut everything before I start sewing.

The nice thing about working this way is that everything is a multiple of 2". The three "chunks" fit well together in various configurations. I just match up things I like and think look good. I make large blocks 24" wide, but that depends on the size of the finished quilt. Since the block is based on a 2" square, it's easy to figure out when they get to the right size. I just make blocks of various lengths. When I have a few, I will sew them into long rows 24" wide. At some point I will lay them on the bed to see if I need more length.
I only have two rules to assembling the chunks into blocks:
1. The same fabric cannot "touch" except diagonally; and
2: Avoid "blobs", areas of too many dark fabrics, or too much of the same color or intensity.

When I have enough, I sew the long rows together to form the finished quilt top. Once the chunks are cut, it's easy to make a quilt top in a weekend.
I don't quilt my quilts, and I don't use filling. I find a nice fabric to use for the backing, and seam it the right size, tie the quilt every 4" with crochet cotton and then fold over the backing to make a nice wide binding. Then I machine sew it to the quilt top. These quilts are lightweight, wash like a dream, and are wonderful in summer. They make excellent "beach" or "picnic" quilts.
Here is the finished "Blacque Quilt". I wanted the colors to look like they were dancing across the surface. There are 31 different fabrics in this quilt. It's about 72" x 96".