Category Archives: Stacy’s Stuff

What’s Stace doin’ now? She’s got lots of projects, ranging from creative, modern quilts to functional fashion and gift ideas for all. What does a twenty-something like?

Ombre Pixel Quilt

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We now have the Simply Color line by V & Co for Moda Fabrics. The line includes several colors of ombre prints (where the color graduates from dark to light) which make really unique quilts.

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Jane, our Moda rep, gave us a great, modern idea on how to use the ombre fabrics. I knew I had to try it out. Here’s a quick tutorial on how to make a “pixel” quilt. It’s a really fast and easy project. I used just one color of ombre, but picking two or three ombres in coordinating colors would make a stunning quilt as well.

You will need a total of 3-1/3 yards of ombre fabric to make a 54” x 70” finished quilt.

First, cut your fabric into (24) 5” strips. Then, subcut the strips into (192) 5” x 5” squares.

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You will be sewing your squares together at random, so first you need to mix up your neat stack of squares. I did this by “shuffling the deck” and spreading all the squares out across my cutting table. Then, I dumped the pile into a bag and mixed them up even more.

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Sew the squares together at random into (96) two-patches. The beauty of the pixel quilt is its randomness. However, at this stage I was careful to mix up the tones of the fabrics so there was at least some contrast between the two squares I sewed together.
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Press your two-patches to one side. Then, sew your two-patches together to make (48) four-patch blocks. Press seams to one side.

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Arbitrarily arrange your blocks into eight rows of six blocks. You’ll want to double check your seams alternate so they “nest” when you sew your blocks together. You can either rotate your blocks to make them fit, or you may need to re-press some of your seams.

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Sew your blocks and rows together and ta-da! You’re all done. I love how modern and graphic the end-result is. Della gave me several ombre fabrics after her sewing-room purge and I’ve started making miniature pixel quilts to hang in my sewing room.

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Have any great ombre-fabric project ideas? Please share in a comment!

— Posted by Stacy

New Scrappy Ruler

photo

I’m in love…with a new tool! We picked up the Flip Flop Ruler at Fall Quilt Market and it’s perfect for beginners, quickly makes a quilt entirely out of scraps, and is ADDICTIVE. I’ve already incorporated making these blocks into my scrap-management system. Here’s the blocks I’ve made so far. What do you think? The ladies who created the ruler jokingly call this style the “stuff off mom’s sewing-room floor” quilt.  Keep your eyes peeled for an in-detail demo soon.

— Posted by Stacy

Gone Fishin’

It’s been a year. Can you believe it? I’ve been working at the quilt shop and learning this quilting stuff for a full year. It’s gone by too fast. I would have expected to consider myself beyond a beginner level after a year, but somehow I’d say I’m still pretty new to the actual nuts and bolts of sewing. I haven’t even gone beyond making squares. But, hey, let’s give me a break. With work, a dog, planning a wedding and buying a house this summer, I’ve been pretty busy. But I’m back in the game as I finally unpacked my sewing room last weekend. Granted, it’s still painted two-toned magenta shades courtesy of the six-year-old girl that occupied the room before me, but at least I’ve got all the required stations in place. Give me another three months (that’s about the speed I’m workin’ at these days) and I’ll get around to making it feel like my own space.


In the past year, I’ve worked on a few quilts: my first quilt from a layer cake (that now migrates between my couch and bed at home), two shop samples that are hung very, very high on the wall to hide the shameful sewing I did, and a few unfinished projects that bounce back and forth between active on my sewing machine and being “on deck.” I can thank my poor attention span for all the back-and-forth!

Here's all my "on deck" projects....will they ever get finished?!

Look familiar? Yup...those are some blocks from City Quilts "City Lot." After sewing my sashing with WAY, WAY TOO BIG seams, every block has been an angry battle to complete. I'm just aiming for "finished" sooner or later. It will be goofy. It will be donated. And that's just fine by me.

If you can remember, I made quite a fuss about one of the store samples I made needing to be perfect, but in retrospect, the pressure of making a store sample does not compare to my current projects — quilts as gifts. I know that one of the joys of quiltmaking is planning a project with a very special person in mind. However, TALK ABOUT PRESSURE!

The first gift quilt I planned was for one of my nieces. She is turning three this Halloween. So, really, she doesn’t care what the quilt looks like, but I DO. It had to be perfect. After a few days of restlessly cruising our patterns, I decided to give up. It was useless. No matter what I chose, I would never feel it was perfect. So I just went home, chopped up a few fat quarters and sewed them together. It’s basic, but it’s done! One of our mottoes around here is “better done than perfect” and I think I learned my lesson. I am just finishing up that quilt for her birthday present this year. Look familiar? I used it for our Binding Blog photos.

It was a good thing I learned my lesson on stress-free gift giving, because there’s no way I could have said no when my very own dad asked me to make him a quilt. Being my dad (and a guy), I can’t say I expect him to be disappointed when my corners don’t match. Heck, he probably won’t even be able to tell (as long as he doesn’t show it to my mom, who is a quilter!)

Wonder where I get my love for animals from? My dad raised these chickens from when they were chicks. They loved him!

Even with the pressure off on the actual sewing, I still felt the fabric and pattern needed to be tops. My dad is retired and is lucky to live in a beautiful lakeside cabin in Northern Wisconsin. He spends his afternoons in his rusty old rowboat, fishing on the lake. My mom has the house fully decorated with all kinds of Northwoods details — bear figurines, “gone fishin’” signs, and even a wooden raccoon hanging off the side of the house. They’re cabin people. I knew my dad’s quilt would need to fit my mom’s decorating as well as my dad’s interests. BINGO! We have trout fabric.


I’m mid-project and am excited about how it’s turning out. I’m using one of our free patterns meant for a layer cake. It goes together pretty quick and really features the fish fabric. When I get around to finishing the top, I’ve got plans for some fish-quilting and cozy minky on the back. Northern Wisconsin gets wicked cold in the winter and I’m sure there’ll be nothing better than warming up by a fire under this quilt with my dad.

Phase 1. I cut all my fabric and matched my "centers" with my "borders." It's kind of hard to believe this small stack of fabric will eventually spread out to make a whole quilt top!

Phase 2. Half of my "borders" sewn to my "centers." My fiance was at a hockey game, so there was NOTHING to distract me from making serious progress on this project. Onwards!

Phase 3. PEOPLE! I am not a fast sewer, but I think I had Della's wind beneath my wings as I was sewing these blocks. I cut all my fabric and sewed ALL my blocks in the same night. It's kind of a record for me. I think I'll go ahead and give myself a little pat on my back. The hardest part, as always, was strategically arranging all my blocks while deterring my curious dog from laying right on top of everything.

Fin!

P.S. I was foolish to think this would be my last gift-quilt for a while. I recently got the news that BOTH of my older brothers’ wives are pregnant. And here’s the kicker — one of them is having TWINS. Looks like I’ve got three sets of baby quilts and baby gear to whip up before next summer. Any suggestions to get me started?

What are some perfect quilts you’ve made for your special people?

— Posted by Stacy

Baby Elephant Walk

Confession time. As much as I would like to believe otherwise, I’m not the greatest sewer. There. I said it. As a beginner quilter, you would think this shouldn’t come as a shock to me, but it does. You see, I’ve learned a lot about sewing over the last nine months of working at the quilt shop. I hear customer questions and our expert answers every day. So, I feel like I know a lot about quilting — but all in theory.

Every time I muster up the energy to sew, I realize how great the disconnect is between my quilting knowledge and my quilting ability. Really, the only solution is to sew, sew, sew some more, which can be difficult with how much time I spend at the shop. I’ve also learned that for someone with so little time to sew, small projects are key. I’m that girl that starts a million projects, but never finishes them. So my new policy is, if I’m gonna start something, I’ve gotta start small.

I was thinking quick and easy when I volunteered to make our next quilt kit sample, called Baby Elephant Walk. The honor of assembling our samples is often given to Della, who can easily whip up a quilt top in a day or two. Not this time. As soon as I saw the pattern — Square Dance by Bits ‘n Pieces  — I knew this baby quilt was within my skill set. Consisting of four-patches and five-inch squares, my greatest challenge would be those dang ¼” seams. I think I’ve got ‘em down, but gosh it isn’t as reliable as those blocks that are conveniently squared-up. Did I mention the finished size is only 36″ x 45″? And that we’re using super-cute grey, aqua and yellow flannel with zoo animals?! I’ve got this!

Even a 2-3/4" square of this fabric is adorable!

First step? Cutting. Cutting is my least favorite. The pressure is definitely on as this sample has. to. be. perfect! And already I’m going slower than all you quilting experts — rather than stack up 4 layers of fat quarters to cut at the same time (as the pattern suggests), I’ve kept things neat with just piles of 2. Can’t be too careful. I also learned that it’s a good idea to visualize each step of the cutting process so you don’t end up adding a step unnecessarily. For example? Step 1 says to cut the fat quarters into 5” x 21” strips and 2-3/4” x 21” strips. So, I made sure all my fat quarters were exactly 21” before slicing them down to 5” & 2-3/4” strips. Step 2? Cut the 5” strip into 5” squares, with an inch or so of scrap left over. I could have just left my strips longer than 21” to begin with and ended up with more scrap at the end. I’m still learning how to be efficient.

Next step was to arrange my fabrics. In addition to picking out the right fabrics,
assembling them in a pleasing way is a skill that takes practice and confidence. Again, I had added pressure knowing this quilt was not just for me, but for the shop. If I pick a bad arrangement, well then the fate of the store is in jeopardy. Clearly the success of my one, super simple quilt kit is linked to the survival of the store. Or at least that’s how serious I’m taking my little project. So what did I do? I brought in an outside opinion. Not Della. Not Karen. My fiance. For those of you with your jaws on the floor, don’t be so surprised. Guys can have an eye for color and design, too. I’m sure many of your husbands have weighed in on the fate of your projects as well. (And for all you keeping up with my personal life, you read that right. I got engaged…to Karen’s son. Ever see that movie “Monster in Law?”)

Does this work???

After much deliberation and mock-up four patches, I think we figured out the best arrangement. Just like the pattern tells me, I’ve alternated light and dark fabrics, mixed up large-scale and small-scale prints and I’ve put my best fabrics in the middle spots. Now it’s time to sew!

Four patches look alright.

I did it! My seams are exactly 1/4"! Woo hoo!

Here I am showing Nani how must faster it is to chain piece everything. She thinks I am so smart!

— Posted by Stacy

Book Review: City Quilts by Cherri House

I may have only started quilting last fall, but in the past six months I’ve had the chance to worm my way around the world of quilting and figure out what interests me. I approached the world of quilting a little cautiously and heavily leaned in the quick-and-fun purse and accessory project direction. Working full-time in a quilt shop required me to learn the basics though, and as we all saw, I made my first quilt using a layer cake. It was fun and felt rewarding to snuggle up with my finished quilt for the first time, but I will admit I was not yet hooked.

In time, something about opening a box of a brand new fabric collection, flipping through the latest quilting book and seeing all the fabulous projects our customers bring in to share with us got me excited to not just sew, but to quilt! So, much like every typical quilter, I dove into a few projects at once. I was first enticed by the idea of liberated sewing — quilting with no pattern — and making an eye-spy baby quilt. I scoured through Karen’s stash for every novelty scrap I could find. And I was off. I sewed the most ridiculously small pieces of fabric together, almost challenging myself to see how little I could go. This process was tedious and slow-going, but I was having fun. I made nearly twenty blocks and decided I was satisfied with my effort. The end result? Well, it was pretty ugly. But that wasn’t the point. I was just playing around with simply putting fabric together in a completely non-uniform way. I haven’t quite decided how to put all the blocks together, but when I get back around to it, I’m sure I’ll have an interesting quilt to donate.

UglyBlocks
Lesson learned? Modern is fun!! Already a fan of funky, bright fabric, enjoying the uniqueness of contemporary quilt making was an obvious next step for me. This is around when I discovered my absolute favorite quilt book that threw me into a love affair with solids. The twelve projects in City Quilts by Cherri House are all perfect. Normally when I flip through a book of quilt projects, I fall in love with some and am lukewarm on others. Not the case for City Quilts.


Deciding which project to start with was a difficult decision for me, although I eventually landed on “City Lot” which is featured on the back cover. Cherri’s selection of colors is so harmonious that I knew I had to do my best to exactly replicate each tone and block placement. Ok, a bit obsessive-compulsive on my part, but I must have that exact quilt! It took a while, but I think I now have all the perfect colors. I am so eager to work with the bright colors of the blocks that I am little underwhelmed at having to first sew together 54 sashing strips of chocolate brown and white before I even get to touch a single scrap of bright fabric! Not to mention, once I get all those strips together I have to cut them into over 450 pieces! Clearly, this is the biggest and most tedious quilt I’ve committed to. At least it’s easy sewing and not something like 450 flying geese. Yay for strips!

Sashing

Am I done yet? Seriously, why is there so much sashing?

Cutting

Someone please tell me there's a faster way to do this accurately!

So, what’s the deal with City Quilts? The twelve quilts featured in this book are all inspired by urban themes such as a tall building at night with glowing lights, a city garden with a palette of green and blue hues or a city harbor with interlocking docks and deep blue water. Each quilt is made only with solid fabrics, which highlights the expert balance of color and artistic designs that focus on the whole rather than a single block or technique. The simple and geometric style of each pattern make them great for quilters of all skill-levels and give them a truly modern feel.

City Green
City Quilts is more than just a collection of modern patterns. This book is a valuable reference for nearly every aspect of the quilt making process. It covers fabric selection and the importance of color and value, changing the feel of a quilt through simple changes to design and construction, how machine quilting adds effect and emphasis to your quilt top, as well as endless advice on the basics of quilt making. For a beginner, this information is invaluable and crucial in becoming a successful quilter. For those more experienced, City Quilts provides a great refresher on concepts that will help you to create your own visually impactful patterns and designs.

In my opinion, City Quilts is required reading for any contemporary quilter. With much of the design rooted in traditional techniques, I also highly recommend it to any traditional sewer who is looking for a change, challenge or just a great gift for your friends or family. Being a native of Chicago, the patterns and textures of an urban landscape appeal to me greatly and I can’t wait to bring more of these designs into my home here in Boise.

Dog

Is this quilt for me, Mom?

Colors

Ok, so I couldn't wait. I had to play with these bright colors. I still have about 400 vertical sashing strips to cut, but hey, why not get all the horizontal strips sewn first, eh? Who else skips ahead to the fun part?

Have a book recommendation? Please leave a comment with your favorites so I can check ‘em out and share the love!

— Posted by Stacy

Holiday Cards

This next crafty project is as much fun to make as it is give away. And you get to use up your smallest pieces of scraps you have laying around. (Since my stash is still small, I hang on to the smallest strips of fabric. I have a hard time letting go. Maybe you do too…)

Holiday Cards

These holiday cards are a great way to send out your family’s seasons greetings, or to package up and give away as a bundle of blank cards to a friend. Here’s how you do it:

Print a holiday greeting onto a sheet of 8 ½” x 11” card stock paper. (Two per page.) Align the greetings so one is about half-way down the page, the other at the bottom, both centered in the right half of the page. If you want a personalized message on the inner part of the card, repeat this process and carefully reinsert your sheets into the printer, making sure the message will properly print on the opposite side of the page.

Inside Card
After printing, cut the sheet in half so you have two 8 ½” x 5 ½” pieces. Score the pieces with a pin on the outside so they fold in half.  Use scraps to create a tree, heart, star — whatever you can imagine.  Get creative! Glue them down with a glue stick to hold in place. Stitching is optional for a sewer’s touch, or you can use fusible.

To give these as a gift, pick up envelopes at an office supply store and bundle it all together with a ribbon!

Workspace

I really spread out for this project.

Sketch

Before I even started, I put my thinking cap on and sketched some Christmas ideas.

— Posted by Stacy

Purse Pockets

I’ve been making a ton of purse pockets for gifts this month and they’re a quick and easy way to give a cute little something to nearly anybody you know. All it takes is one or two layer cake squares and there’s a million ways to customize them and make ‘em all a little different. If you’re like me, sometimes you don’t want a big bulky wallet – you just need the bare essentials–debit card, drivers license, insurance card, and of course my coffee punch card. (Who can survive without their morning espresso?) The purse pocket looks just like a pocket, fits the essentials and I can quickly throw it in my purse or pocket. If it’s brightly colored, it’s even easier to find! If I’m really traveling light, these little wallets can even squeeze a few other items in there like chapstick or your car key.

You’ll need:
– Two 5” x 10” pieces of fabric in different colors/patterns (In my opinion, they look better if you choose a larger-scale print for the outer fabric and a complimenting fabric for the inner. Small- scale on the outside is less dynamic.)
– One 5” x 10” piece of fusible web (the heavier the fusible, the stiffer it will be.)

Here’s how you do it:
– Iron on the fusible web to the wrong side of one of your pieces.
– Place your two pieces together, right sides together, and pin in a few places.
– Sew with a ¼” seam allowance all the way around, leaving a 2” hole. Beginner’s tip: make sure you sew all the way around the corners. It’s impossible to slip stitch a corner at the end. It’s best if you make your hole in the middle of the long edge.
– Turn inside out and press. Slip stitch your hole.
– Top stitch across one end of your pocket (the part that isn’t going to be the flap) about ⅛” from the edge.
– Fold your pocket in thirds. You can play around with size here — You can decide how long you want the pocket, how far down you want the flap to go, etc. I made mine come almost all the way down to the crease so it looks very similar to a wallet. Once you’ve figured out your proportions, press your creases.
– It may be easier to attach a closure of your choosing before you do the final top stitching. It can also be added on at the end.
– Top stitch around the edge of the rest of the pocket. This is what holds the pocket in place. Annnd you’re finished!

Outside Pocket

I used the heavy-weight fabric from the Oz line.

Inside Pocket

It fits all my "cards"

Variations:
– Use batting to make the pocket a little fatter and squishier. You could even quilt it-but then you’ll need to bind the edges.
– Instead of making the flap of the pocket square, round it out or make it a triangle for something different. A rounded flap really makes it look like a pocket.
– There are a million ways to make the closure. My first “mock up” pocket I made a button hole and used a button. It’s a little slower to get it open, but looks cute. You can sew on some velcro and still sew a button on the top flap for decoration. I prefer a snap. Fastest way to fling it open and whip out the cash! Just be careful not to use magnetic snaps — they will destroy your credit cards.
– Use home dec or mid-weight fabric to make the exterior a little tougher.
– Make the body of the pocket a little bigger and attach a strap. Now you’ve got a wristlet!

MockUp Pocket

Here's my mock up with a button hole.

GIVEAWAY!! We will be giving away a total of SIX fat quarters to one lucky individual. Each pair of fat quarters are perfect complimentary colors and patterns so you can make three pockets of your own. How can you win? Make a comment to this blog entry with your first name and email address and you will be entered to win. Our winner will be chosen on December 13th so don’t delay. Invite your friends to enter, too. Maybe they’ll win and make you a purse pocket for you out of the prize fabrics!

Giveaway

Three different colorways to please all your friends!

— Posted by Stacy