I had so much fun sewing my PMQG challenge block using all the lovely solids Michael Miller sent us! I have always wanted to try string quilting and this felt like the perfect chance to work on something new. Love all the colors together! I wanted to share how I made my block, so if you’re interested, you can read on for a simple tutorial.
We were so lucky to have Kathy Miller speak at our February meeting, and she brought Cotton Couture cards for each of us with swatches of all 80+ colors in their new solids line. (Fabric Depot is now carrying every single Cotton Couture color, if you are local!)
So Heather, Nancy, Petra, Ale and I met up and chose 8 colors we loved from the collection for a PMQG challenge, and Michael Miller generously sent us a bolt of each one. We had an all-evening cutting party at Nancy’s studio, and ended up with this beautiful box full of fat eighths to share with everyone at the March meeting…
I stitched up a little pennant of the eight challenge colors – Fog, Meadow, Clementine, Luna, Charcoal, Kryptonite, Tangerine, and Aqua.
So, the challenge details are all on the blog, and I was so excited to work with these colors, but the specific block size requirements (15.5″ x 18.5″) threw me a bit at first. I usually piece square blocks, and rarely anywhere near 18 inches across. But doing a little math, I realized that if I pieced five 8″ square blocks and cut one into 2″ x 8″ strips to sew on both the horizontal sides (using a 1/4″ seam allowance throughout), it would magically translate into the correct finished size!
I started by cutting five eight-inch fabric squares for foundation piecing, using an extra piece of Luna (the pale blue solid in the range), and then cut two varied-width strips from each of the 8 colors the length of the fat eighths (22″). I cut each strip randomly between 1 and 3 inches wide, without thinking about it too much. I made and photographed this block very quickly during one naptime, so I didn’t take step-by-step photos of my piecing – for the basics of string quilting, I’ll send you to this excellent film in the fridge tutorial. The differences with mine are that I pieced on fabric instead of paper (so don’t adjust the stitch length at all, you won’t be tearing the back away), and instead of using a glue stick, I just pinned my first diagonal strip in place and stitched the second one on to it, removing the pin afterward, and continuing the same way to fill the square. You’ll press and trim the same way as on paper, but you’ll have a nice sturdy fabric foundation layer underneath. I loved how much calmness the double layer gave a larger block – Cotton Couture is silky and wonderful to sew with, so it is not heavy or bulky at all.
After I made five 8-inch blocks, I stitched four together to form a big, colorful diamond pattern. Then I sliced the 5th block into four 8″ tall, 2″ wide strips, thinking they would be perfect for adding to the sides to yield that magical 15.5″ x 18.5″ dimension!
…but I figured out that while they are exactly right size-wise, to continue the diamond pattern, you need two strips with the diagonal going one way, and two with it going the opposite way. Whoops! So I stitched up one more 8″ x 4″ opposite-diagonal section with the scraps (the one on the left – I had just enough time and fabric left, yay) and cut that one into two strips to use instead. And ended up with this!
If you don’t want to try string piecing, maybe imagining four 8-inch blocks of any style, with an extra one sliced and diced for the sides, will help you plan something fun to build out to 15.5″ x 18.5″. I think that it would be fabulous to use log cabin, improvisational patchwork, paper piecing, or any other block style you’re into this way…
If you are a PMQG member and haven’t gotten your challenge fabric yet, you can pick it up from Nancy at her Just Quilting studio, Monday through Friday. Just give her a call first (503.234.0403). And if you’re working on your challenge block, please share photos in the PMQG flickr pool, we’d love to see them! You can bring your challenge blocks to our April meeting (Thursday the 19th at 7 pm, PNCA) or email us at portlandmodernquiltguild at gmail.com so we can collect them and take photos. Kathy Miller will choose 16 of our blocks to create a special Cotton Couture quilt for the Michael Miller booth at Spring Quilt Market! We’ll make a PMQG-collective quilt with the others plus any improv blocks using your scraps you’d like to bring in May, and hope to show it in Sisters.
Modern Quilt Guild founder and Block Party author Alissa Haight Carlton has a beautiful new quilting book out, Modern Minimal. It officially comes out Friday, but I was very lucky to get a review copy from Stash Books to give away at tomorrow evening’s PMQG meeting!
Alissa’s 20 designs are wonderfully simple and driven by line, shape and color (nearly all solids – I spotted one Katie Jump Rope print, one Lizzy House print, and a dots pattern in the entire collection). The book includes quilts of all sizes, from throws (like Mustard, the cover quilt, an instant favorite) to everything from baby to king-sized bed quilts as well. The scale of the piecing and colorwork varies considerably, so whether you’re drawn to huge, bold lines or a more delicate or intricate design, you’re sure to find a pattern that appeals to you.
The book is very nicely styled, including colorful shots of each of the quilts within a room as well as full flat images. I loved this one, Oddballs – probably my favorite of the whole collection.
The quilt above, Basket Weave, measures 90″ x 95″ and inspired me to imagine a smaller-scale take on Alissa’s pattern. I didn’t have time to work on anything before the meeting (unlike Nancy’s gorgeous throw and pillow from Sweetwater Simple Home – !) but I hope to try my hand at this one soon and will report back.
Alissa’s book is neatly organized into several chapters: White Negative Space (chapter opener above), Colorful Negative Space, Improvisational Piecing, Monochromatic Quilts, and Baby Quilts. I particularly loved the simplicity of Boxes, one of the baby quilts in the book. As the mama of both a boy and a girl, I really love those kinds of striking gorgeous designs that work for any baby, and will be treasured well into childhood and beyond.
So, if you want to win a copy of the book, I’ll be giving one away at our PMQG meeting tomorrow night – 7pm at PNCA in downtown Portland. We have a lot of fun stuff planned like a special presentation and a fabric giveaway (check out this post for all the details), and we would love to see you there!
Speaking of Portland stuff coming up, this Saturday (March 17, St. Patrick’s Day) is also National Quilting Day. I got to write a little post about it for CrafterNews, and I’m so excited that the PMQG is organizing a little celebration here in town! We’re meeting at Bolt at 3:00 for fabric shopping, and then Modern Domestic is offering a sew-in from 4-7 ($10, register here or just show up). Hope to see you a couple times this week!
I had such a great time at Sew Expo this weekend! Here are my finds – more on these in a minute.
It was a bit of a whirlwind trip. Nancy and I drove up Friday night with a Burgerville stop, and got to hang out with Michelle, Brittany, Kaci, Rachel and Cherri for a glass of wine and some fabric-shop-hop show and tell. Saturday morning, I did my book event at the Pendleton Woolen Mills booth, which was great – thank you to everyone who came to say hi!
Then, Nancy, Brittany, Michelle and I walked the show for another five hours of awesome treasure hunting – the four of us brought some good things home. Here are my finds, roughly in the order I snapped them up. I started with this fabulous plaid waterproof laminate tote at the Pendleton booth, which held everything else I got all afternoon.
And I could NOT resist these Sublime Stitching sew-in labels, also from Pendleton (if you’re in Portland, they have them at the WMS in Southeast). Genius.
I bought a yard each of the new ice blue and fresh green Pearl Bracelet from Island Quilter,
assorted yards and half-yards of Lotta Jansdotter Echo prints from Heartway International,
a beautiful 8.5″ x 11″ card of 42 vintage pearl buttons, “carded between 1945 and 1955 in Pennsylvania,” from Betty Henry,
two yards of this darling Tammis Keefe holiday reindeer reissue from Michael Miller for a tree skirt (can’t remember the vendor but will look for the receipt and try to update!),
and a pezzy mono-color jelly roll from Sandy of American Jane herself. She was so nice and so happy about the reissue, and I was so excited to get some of this fabric!!
Then, I got some very special trims and ribbons from Nifty Thrifty Dry Goods. I fell in love with the scissors ribbon, and needed the bluebirds too (I already have them in pink), plus the tiny red-and-white trim and the measuring twill tape. Then I saw a $9 package of 3 large shank-style milk glass buttons – very nice, but not my button style – with this darling scanned “baby pearls” label.
Since my daughter is a Pearl and I love pearl buttons so much, I asked the owner if she had any other buttons or trim packaged with this same vintage image that I could buy instead. She cut the label free of the three buttons, handed it to me and charged me 50¢ for it. So sweet of her! I will definitely be shopping with NTDG again soon.
I also got to meet Angie from The Quilting Loft, who is lovely! I fell for a gorgeous sample of this Indygo Junction dress in her booth sewn in a Lotta print, so I got the pattern, plus some adorable dot laminate, a yard of Valori Wells’ birch trees, and a yard of the Melody Miller typewriters.
I got this celebration print from Pacific Fabrics (plus two things not pictured – some large, unphotogenic placemat blanks that I’m going to try out with patchwork this week, and a beautiful vintage-button embroidery pattern they’d sold out of but are shipping me this week, no extra charge).
Two and half hours and another Burgerville stop later, we were back in Portland in time for the big game I’d DVRed to watch with my nephew who was in town this weekend (hi Julian!). Now I’m trying to decide what projects get what fabrics, in between finishing my Craft Hope tote bags and Think Outside the Block bee blocks, and dreaming of a PMQG –> Seattle ferry-powered shop hop weekend with friends…
If you are also sewing littlest warriors tote bags for Craft Hope (or making hats) and want to ship them together, or share photos, that would be great! Thanks to everyone who has contacted me or commented here or at PMQG. I will try to mail out Friday so they arrive in time, and would love to add yours (I’ll gladly cover shipping). Please email me over at portlandmodernquiltguild at gmail.com if you want to team up!