Archive for My Creative Process

Crafting With Kids

As part of my grand reorganisation of my studio space, I have given a small space to my kids.   On the surface this seemed a bit foolish, after all my space is not large to begin with, and having kids underfoot while I am working is  something I am trying to avoid.

But I am finding it is working out great.  Having their own space within mine means that when they come into the room, instead of running around grabbing at things, and poking at the touch screen on the sewing machine, they go straight to ‘their’ space, sit down and start to draw.  (I do have a strict policy about no food, or wet crafts like painting.)   Instead of being underfoot while I try to work, they are able to be close to me,  but happily involved in their own ‘work’.

This was the hoped for outcome, but I am noticing an additional benefit.  I am inspired by the lack of inhibitions they show.   It is so easy for me to get hung up on the end product, is it going to turn out how I imagine, will it be good enough, am I wasting my time?  Watching them confidently put pencil to paper, without worrying about the finished product is a daily lesson to me.  I have a few of the drawings up on my board as a reminder to just jump in and go for it, like they do. 


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Quilt With Me, Scrappy Lattice Quilt

As it often happens, I was inspired by several separate sources today.  Heres what happened.

As I am finishing the organization of my studio I am finding that one of the hardest things is deciding how small a scrap of fabric is too small to save.  I do use up small pieces in my applique projects, but I am ending up with a giant bag of fabric scraps that are too small for my new organizer boxes, but feel too big to toss.

I am also finishing a quilt repair today.  This quilt was brought to me by a local man.  He inherited it from his grandmother and it needed a few tears patched.  (Luckily it’s a crazy quilt, so the patches blend right in.)   I admired the way the seemingly disparate fabrics all worked together, this level of scrap quilting is something I have been a bit nervous about trying.

Thirdly,  I was looking at the blog of  Elizabeth Hartman, an amazing modern quilt designer, and my eye was caught by the photo in the banner, not so much the quilt, but the lattice pattern of shadow across the surface.  It reminded me of the lattice I have in my own back yard, and so I went out a photographed it.

These three sources have inspired me to make a scrappy lattice quilt.  I would love for any other scrap hoarder to join me. 

This is going to be a long-term project.  Heres the plan.  Every time you cut fabric, or find some scraps squirreled away, cut some 2 1/2″ squares.  These are going to be the holes of the lattice.  Don’t worry about the colours too much.  You will notice that you seem favour certain colours and tones anyway, so it should sort itself out. 

I intend to sew blocks as I get enough squares to form one, to make a sort of journal quilt, showing the different moods I pass though as a quilter.  So I need to make sure I have enough fabric for the lattice itself (otherwise known as sashing).  I want a soft marbled tan, to give the look of aged painted lattice.  So I am hand dyeing my own organic cotton.  I figure I will need about 3.5  yards for a queen.  (All the seams will eat up a lot of fabric).  Of course if you plan on making some pillows, or a throw quilt you will need less.  I plan on adding a border,binding and backing in a different fabric. 

If you want a custom hand dye too, I would love to make it for you.  Use the coupon code LATTICEQUILT to get 40% off!  (the color I plan on using is the marbled tan in the first image).  Otherwise buy an appropriate amount of yardage, or use some neutrals you have on hand.

So let’s get cutting!  To make one 23″ block you will  need 49 scrap squares and 14″ of solid / hand dye cut into 2″ strips.  A 14″ block will need 16 scrap squares and 6″ of solid.

I am setting the goal of a block per month, and completing this quilt by the end of the year.  If you want to join me, let me know in the comments.  I am happy to help you calculate yardage.

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Tulip Field Quilt

As I am slogging away at reorganising my space (yes still at that), I have been unearthing a lot of unfinished quilts.  I tend to jump around between projects mostly when I get tired of piecing, bored, hit a problem, get a new idea, well pretty much for any reason at all. 

However I didn’t realise I had such a major problem.  I discovered 10 different projects that I have been working on in the last month!  Needless to say this was a bit disheartening, so I stopped and finished one.

  It took me a grand total of 2 hours to finish this quilt, photograph it and list it for sale .

I started this quilt after my dad sent me a link to pictures of Dutch tulip fields, the amazing surreal stripes of colour across the landscape begged to put into a quilt, I immediately ran out to my dye station and dyed the fabrics.  As soon as they were ready to use I dived right in.  I quit when the quilting wasn’t going right.  If you look closely you can see it has a quilted motif of tulips.  When I sat down to finish it up I loosened up the shape of the buds, and it just clicked.

So now I only have 9 current works in progress, but I know most of them are only needing a few hours work, and that makes it seem so much more doable.

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Adventures In Dyeing

I have decided to enter the Project Modern Challenge 2.  And I am finding it more challenging than expected (no pun intended). 

The challenge is to make a quilt composed of only one colour, in all it’s varying shades and tones.  The different layouts I come up with seem to have a lack, that I know I could easily fix, with the addition of a neutral or contrasting fabric.  But finding a solution that is within the colour family is far more difficult.  So I decided to dye a piece of fabric the palest shade of teal blue (the colour I have chosen), to use as negative space in the quilt.  Easier said than done!

I am a relatively new fabric dyer of about six months, but I lean heavily on my background as a wood finisher, where I would routinely custom match the colours of existing woodwork something that you had to do by eye, as the underlying colour of the wood always varied.  Meaning that I mix by eye, and don’t write much down.   So I couldn’t remember how much I needed to water down blue dye to get a super pale shade.  I decided, quite arbitrarily, to go with one cup of full strength dye in 14 cups of water.  It looked okay when the fabric when in, and I swirled it around for a minute and put it in a bag to set.  I went to check on my kids in the back yard for a minute and came back to empty the dye tub, and it already looked darker!  Now the main ingredient in the dye was turquoise, which is supposed to take 24 hours to reach full strength.  So immediately into the rinse water it went.  I think that may be a record for shortest dye setting time. 

After washing and drying it is a relatively light shade, but not the pastel I was looking for.  It looks to homogenous with the prints I have chosen.  Fortunately in my panic I had forgotten to dump the dye, so I poured most of it out, added a lot more water, and dyed a new piece. 

End result: I now have a the correct shade, and matching backing several shades darker, and I still have no idea of what proportions I need to make a nice pastel.  I just know it is a lot more than 1:14

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‘Woven Basket’ Bag

I have finished my first stash reduction quilt.  Well its a bag, but it is made entirely from stash fabrics and supplies.  I was able to use up scraps of batting that were too small for quilts, and create a pattern as I went. 

I have been thinking about a tropical getaway, so I wanted this bag to look like a woven tote you might pick up at an island market.  Just the thing to make for spring.  I am still working on the pattern, but will post when I have it done.

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New Year, New Designs

At this time of year I like to spend a bit of time thinking about my product line, and how to improve it. What needs tweaking, or adding to, what should be dropped, and best of all, what new designs should I go with?

I made this little quilt on a whim last year, and it sold so fast I didn’t even get any good pictures of it.  I am revisiting the design and thinking about creating a couple of different variations on the concept.

I am also open to suggestions.  If you have an idea for a quilt, please tell me about it.

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Quilting it Myself

I have been considering how to streamline my process, to make my business more profitable.  It has been suggested to me several times that I outsource my quilting to a long arm quilter, and just make the quilt tops myself.  Many quilters do this.  (although are you really a quilter if you do not quilt?)

A truly wonderful quilter Robbi Joy Eklow says  “For some people quilting is a means to hold the quilt together.  For me the opposite is true; The quilt is there to keep the quilting thread from flying off into space.”

I am not quite at that point, however  to me the actual quilting, whether it is of one of my whole cloth applique quilts, or a patchwork top, is at least half of the artistic expression.  This might seem odd to someone who is primarily interested in patchwork and creating quilt tops, but for me quilting is not an afterthought to just hold a quilt together, it is a fully realised part of the design process.  And it is something I simply cannot hand off to another person.

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