Hi all! Today I thought i’d try to share with you a few of the great new fabric lines we have gotten in recently. Both stores are freshly restocked with beautiful fabrics- and with Quilt Market right around the corner … Continue reading
One of these days I will get around to posting in between the “Quilt of the Month” posts…but for now it’s been hard to find the time! ( I am making a quilt a month after all!!)
For those of you who are new here, I have been working steadily though a goal to make a quilt every month this year. I’m on #3 (March) but if you’d like to read about #1 (January) you can click HERE, or #2 (February) you can click HERE.
For March’s quilt I chose “Stash Stars” a great pattern by Terry Atkinson.
We were lucky enough to have Terry come teach at our store a few years ago, and I was so impressed with the clear way she is able to both teach and write patterns. If you have never made one of Terry’s quilts, you should! They are so easy to do and come out beautifully. I chose my favorite Andover Textured Solids for my stars, and just plain white Kona cotton as the background- it was such fun to stack all those colors together and play with combinations. The basic block construction was very simple, and the beauty of the stars is that the points are floating, so if you are a little bit off with your accuracy (which of course none of us EVER are), you can easily hide it!
You essentially make a whole bunch of flying geese with fat bottoms (fat bottomed geese?) and then arrange them around your center block.
Because I am a serial chain piecer, I made all my geese at once and then sewed as much as I could at once (maybe I was trying to avoid the quilt aerobics, you know cut, sew, press, pin, repeat- all while running circles around the sewing room).
Once you have all of your blocks done you have to figure out how to arrange them…
I wish I had taken more photos of the various layouts I played with, but I eventually decided on this one, (looks like I need a bigger design wall!)
By now you know that the quilting is my favorite part of this whole project, and after last months heartbreak of not seeing all the quilting I did because it got lost in the busy background- I was determined not to let the quilting get lost on this quilt! I conducted a quick Facebook poll on what color thread to use to quilt this with- I didn’t want to change colors in every block (I’m not THAT crazy), and I wasn’t crazy about the idea of using monofilament. The internet and I decided that using a light grey thread would be the way to go this time, although I debated using off white, yellow, or even a pale green- I don’t think there’s a right answer to the thread color question, but it’s what I decided on!
I used white thread for the white borders and filled them in with a random pattern of lines, bubbles and stars. I haven’t done a whole lot of marking on my quilts up to this point, but for the stars in the borders I cut out a card stock version of the big star and traced it with a water soluble pen. I use a 1/4″ thick acrylic quilters ruler for my line work- it’s one of my most used sewing room items!
This quilt is on display at our East Aurora location..stop by and see!
And as always- here’s a sneak peek of next month’s quilt!
What are you guys working on?
Two quilts down and ten to go! I am still excited to be doing my “Year of Quilts” project and am thankful to have a job where I stress about what quilt I will make next! Believe me, this job has many stressful aspects, but I am truly lucky that I love my job, and to be able to make things and write about it as part of my job…amazing!
So on to February’s Quilt of the Month. As some of you may already know, I chose “Science Fair” by Jaybird Quilts for this month. I really wanted to try and do something different that I had never done before. Believe it or not, I have not worked with any specialty rulers before and I certainly have not made anything with hexagons. This quilt utilizes a ruler also designed by Jaybird Quilts called the “Hex N More”.
This is a great ruler and Julie at Jaybird Quilts has a ton of awesome quilts designed using this ruler. I’ve got plans for making another one up my sleeve. To make this quilt you start by cutting strips and making pairs of those strips into stripsets.
You use one end of the ruler to cut those strips into little wedges, one strip set makes two opposing colors of the hexagon. For example, this blue and yellow set will make one hex with a blue outside and a yellow inside and one hex with a yellow outside and a blue inside.
Ta-Da! It’s so tempting to sew these pretty little wedges into complete hexagons (which I was this close to doing) but if you stop and read the directions (something I have to often remind myself to do) you learn that you only get to sew them into half hexagons, and the gratification of seeing them all done will have to be delayed a bit.
The next part of cutting involves flipping the Hex N More around and using the fatter end to cut the background half hexies. For some reason I did not photograph this process as I was having a battle with myself about the background color. Here is my original color choice for the background which I was totally committed to at the time:
Yikes! I promise it wasn’t quite so harsh in real life, but obviously the pink wasn’t working either. In the end I settled on this:I ended up using a text print from Allison Glass’s “Sun Print” collection for a few reasons. First, I love these prints and I loved how it lightened up my quilt. It reminds me of a summer day with all the hot citrusy colors. Another reason I made this choice is that I wanted to show that you can use a print like this as a background fabric and that it would read like a neutral. These patterns are nothing to be afraid of! They are much more versatile than you might think. To see more of Allison’s “Sun Print” line click HERE. We carry many of these prints at both locations of the Aurora Sewing Center.
Julie even explains just how to line up your half hexies to make them all behave when sewing them into strips.You can see that the background fabric has the tip of the point snipped off where you line it up with the colored piece, which makes for a perfect match when it’s all pressed. This quilt calls for you to press all of your seams open, which is not something that I normally do, but it helped reduce bulk when sewing in those areas where all of the little wedge points come together. I didn’t do any stitching in the ditch on this quilt so I’m really not worried about those areas becoming weaker because of the seams being open.
After your strips are all ready it’s time to sew them all together. I was excited to try out a new kind of pin we got into the store, Clover Fork Pins. These little guys are pretty handy for helping make sure all your points end up matching. I will often put a pin on either side of my seams to make sure they stay lined up, and these are two pins in one!I haven’t thrown out my standard glass head pins or anything, but these guys are pretty cool!
I did a little TV magic here and voila! Here’s the whole top assembled and spray basted! This was the first quilt I have ever spray basted and while I do not mind the pinning process, I have to admit, spray basting rocks! I used THIS video as guidance and sprayed with another new product we have at the store, Mettler Web Bond.As you can see in that picture above, I prepared myself well for quilting this quilt by marking my straight lines with a blue water erasable marker. As I’ve said before, one of my goals in this Quilt of the Month project is to learn new things and with this quilt, one of the BIG things I’ve learned is that if you want your quilting to stand out, then picking a more subtle background is key (remember how happy I was with my background fabric choice?)! I still love the fabric I chose, but it’s pattern combined with the low loft batting I used (Quilters Dream Blend) makes it very hard to see the custom quilting I did. As soon as I started quilting I knew it was not going to be as pronounced as I would have liked, but I considered it good free motion practice and finished it that way anyhow! Here’s a finished product picture taken with the contrast tweaked a little bit so that you can see the quilting.
This quilt is currently hanging at our Williamsville location and because of the way the light hits it, the quilting is almost invisible. But I know it’s there, and now you do too, so come see it and Ooh and Ahh over it for me –OK? All in all, this quilt was a BLAST to make and quilt and Julie’s pattern was wonderfully written and easy to follow. I highly recommend it and all of the Jaybird Quilts designs. So there you have it, February’s quilt of the month! Want a sneak peek of March? Here you go…
I can’t wait to show it to you!
So here we are at the very first post in “a Year of Quilts”! Click HERE to read about my lofty goal to make 12 quilts this year.
I’ve been inspired by this fun line of fabric by Mark Cesarik that we picked out a while back called “Summer Camp“. It was a line that I was intrigued by, perhaps because my husband is an avid outdoorsman and I have learned to enjoy and embrace the rustic style of fishing, hunting and camping motifs.
When a new collection of modern “basics” arrived last month that included some great prints by Joel Dewberry (the line is called True Colors), I knew I had to combine some of each of these collections into a “Modern Rustic Log Cabin” quilt.
The third part of the puzzle was a quilt of the cover of a great book we have at the shop Called “Modern Designs for Classic Quilts” by Kelly Biscopink and Andrea Johnson.
This bright log cabin quilt has been calling to me for quite some time and one snowy evening at the shop inspiration struck and I quickly pulled together a pile of “outdoorsy” fabrics and two of our fabulous new textured solids from Andover for the neutrals. If you haven’t seen our textured solid collection stop by the shop and check these out.
These textured solids are 100% cotton and are great to work with. They have an almost nubby texture and add some real dimension to your quilting. I anticipated that they might be tough to work with but I had no issues what so ever with raveling or stretch. I chose a cream and a white as the background fabrics for this quilt.
Confession alert! I did not photograph the piecing process of making this quilt as I had not yet decided to embark on the Year of Quilts project. The cutting process was quite straight forward, just lots and lots of 2.5″ strips and a few 4″ squares. The pattern designer doesn’t re-invent the wheel with the construction of the log cabin block, you start in the middle and work your way around! I hope you’ll forgive the lack of assembly photos but what is done is done!
Included with this Year of Quilts goal of mine is to QUILT all of my quilts. I am lucky enough to have a Baby Lock Tiara at home and am truly loving the quilting aspect of making a quilt. Often the process of piecing a quilt can be meditative and spending the quiet time piecing the quilt will often tell me what sort of quilting it needs to have.
When I’m pinning at home I’ll pin on the work table in my husband’s shop so get used to the view of equipment and tools in the background. How many of you pin on the dining room table, kitchen floor, or out in the garage? I love hearing how/where people pin! Some people HATE the pinning process, but I don’t mind it that much…it’s another meditative process. Who knew I was so Zen about quilting!
When this quilt was talking to me, it was begging me for wood grain quilting. It was my first attempt at quilting wood grain but I just went for it and as long as you don’t look too close, I think it turned out pretty darn good! Fast forward in time about 10 hours of quilting wood grain ( does anyone else feel like the quilting is never going to end, but as soon as you finish it is all SO worth it?) and it was time to hang the quilt at our East Aurora Location. Drumroll please…….!!!
What do you think? Do you like it as much as I do? If you are in the East Aurora area I hope you’ll come see it in person! So there “He” is, Quilt #1 in the Year of Quilts! It’s definitely a “He” don’t you think?
That will do it for January’s installment of the Year of Quilts and to keep you coming back, here is a sneak peek of February’s quilt!
What have you finished in January?
I won’t mention the fact that it’s been a few weeks (ah-hem….months) since I last blogged. I’m hoping you will all forgive me. You know how it goes…time gets away from you. In any case, and without further fanfare I’d like to present my grand plan for 2014. My PLAN (you all will hold me accountable right?) is to finish a quilt for the shop every month in 2014! I guess this is not an uncommon resolution for quilters, because as I told people of my resolution I got a few “Me too!” replies. I’d LOVE to get your ideas for the kind of quilts you’d like me to do. I told myself that I would push myself to learn something new with as many of the quilts as possible. Here’s a link to my Pinterest Board where I’m collecting inspiration.
I’ll let you in on a little secret- I’ve actually finished my first quilt for the year! I’m not going to show it to you quite yet but I hope you’ll come back and check it out in my next post. In the mean time I’ll leave you with this sneak peek! I bet some of you may have seen it up at our East Aurora location.
So…weigh in! What kind of quilts would you like to see done in this great Year of Quilts? Would you like to join me? Have you ever resolved to do something similar? I can’t wait to hear…
This weeks item is super fun and very handy. It’s a neat product we just got into the store, it’s called the “Sensational Sip & Snip”
This handy little gadget clamps right onto your sewing table and holds your coffee, bottle of water, tea, or perhaps a tumbler full of wine! (Although at Aurora Sewing Center we do not endorse drinking and sewing…;) ).
The basket is perfect for those threads and scraps that we usually end up tossing on the floor…The best part though is that it’s completely portable- it clamps onto your work surface with a simple screw mechanism, so you can pack it up and bring it to your classes at Aurora Sewing Center! No spilled drinks makes everyone happier!
You may know by now that Aurora Sewing Center is going to be hosting Jacquie Gering of Modern Quilt Guild fame at the store for both a Lecture/Trunk Show as well as a full day Hands-On event! A little bit about Jacquie from her bio on the MQG bio:
“Since discovering quilting five years ago, Jacquie has become a passionate quilt maker and designer. She is known for her “out of the box” designs and unique style. Her work has been featured in both national and international publications, and she is the co-author of Quilting Modern: Techniques and Projects for Improvisational Quilts. Jacquie is a passionate advocate for modern quilting and brings 30 years of teaching, staff development and leadership experience to the Modern Quilt Guild Board. As co-founder and former president of the Kansas City Modern Quilt Guild, she helped build a dynamic, vital guild and her experience in guild structures, membership and programming is an asset to developing the MQG at the national level. She is now a member of the Chicago MQG. Jacquie blogs and shares her quilting knowledge on her popular blog, Tallgrass Prairie Studio and lives in downtown Chicago with her husband and black lab, Bruno.”
Jacquie is also the co-author of a great book that we’ve been selling out of at the shop called “Quilting Modern”
When we met Jacquie at Quilt Market last May, we knew we wanted to have her come teach at the store. Modern Quilting is making such waves all across the country- and Jacquie is such a great ambassador for the movement! If you are unsure about what makes a quilt Modern, here is the definition from the MQG website:
“We define modern quilts as quilts that are functional, include bold colors, and are inspired by modern design. Minimalism, asymmetry expansive negative space, and alternate grid work are often a part of modern quilt compositions, as are improvisational piecing and solid fabrics.”
A good example of asymmetry and improvisational piecing can be found in the quilt we featured in the Cross It quilt a few posts ago. Jacquie offered to send us a few of her quilts to display in the shop to help spread the word about her events, and we’ve been waiting with baited breath for the box to arrive….
Bonnie and I tore into the box, and we were not disappointed! Here are some shots of the beautiful things Jacquie sent…
Here’s a shot of the display we created at Williamsville
Jacquie will be giving a Lecture and Trunk Show (in Williamsville) entitled “Quilting Modern: Honoring Tradition” on Friday April 26th, from 10am- 1pm or 6pm- 9pm $29.99. In this lecture, Jacquie will share her journey to find her voice as a modern quilter. The lecture is illustrated with more than 30 quilts.
The hands on event is called “Log Cabin: Modern Makeover Through Improvisation” and is on Saturday April 27th, from 10am-5pm. The cost is $69 and includes lunch and a $20 voucher for supplies. We’re still working on finding the prefect location, but we will announce that soon. In the Hands On class you will learn how to take the traditional log cabin block and give it a modern twist through improvisation. Choose to make one of these three quilts or take the technique where you want to go and make your own version of a modern log cabin quilt. Ten variations of the log cabin block will be shared in class.
Doesn’t everyone need a little more stability in their lives? (Sorry for the terrible joke) but we’re going to talk Embroidery Stabilizer today! Aurora Sewing Center is currently offering an awesome coupon for some big savings on Stabilizers this month- I’ve attached it down below, but I thought it might be a good idea to talk a little bit about WHY we use stabilizers, and touch on the different kinds.
When you are new to embroidering, (or even if you aren’t) all of the different kinds of stabilizers can be really overwhelming…there’s cut away, tear away, wash away, heat away, wish away…( ok no wish away) but there sure are a ton of options! Stabilizer is often a neglected aspect of machine embroidery, the fin part is picking out your design and choosing all the beautiful thread colors, but selecting the correct kind of stabilizer is certainly one of the most important parts of the embroidery process. It’s kind of like building a house without the proper foundation. You can build the most beautiful house anyone has ever seen but if it doesn’t have firm ground to stand on…it’s not going to last very long.
Let’s talk about why we stabilize embroidery. Embroidery stabilizer serves 2 main functions, 1) to stabilize the item while you are embroidering, and 2) to continue to stabilize it if needed after you are done embroidering, and throughout the life of the item. When you are embroidering your project you need to be sure your item won’t shift or stretch or fall out of the hoop- and selecting the proper stabilizer can help reduce or eliminate those scary situations, and then after you’ve completed your project- you want to be sure that your design does not distort or pull with washing or wearing.
We are privileged to be a Floriani Stabilizer dealer and feel very strongly that they manufacture some of the best stabilizers on the market! Floriani also provides a TON of information on all of the different kinds of stabilizers they offer. They’ve put together a great “Stabilizer Workbook” that explains why/how you should use each and every kind of stabilizer they sell, you can find that HERE. It’s definitely something you should download and keep with you in your sewing room.
- The four basic types of stabilizers— cut-away, tear-away, heat-away, and wash-away— are defined by the method used to remove them from the fabric once the embroidery is complete.
- The stabilizer you choose will depend on your fabric, the nature of the embroidery design, and the end use. For example, natural fibers and thicker, softer fabrics are more likely to relax around the stitching and lie flatter after embroidery, so a tear-away stabilizer would be a good choice. And thin fabrics, knits, or synthetics would do better with a cut-away stabilizer. You also need to consider the stitch density of the design when choosing a weight of stabilizer, regardless of the type of stabilizer you select. The denser the stitch count, the sturdier the stabilizer needs to be.
- When embroidering on knits, use a permanent cut-away stabilizer (at left) to keep the fabric smooth during stitching and prevent stretching during wear.
- For fabrics like leather or velvet that could be permanently marked by hooping, use an adhesive-backed cut- or tear-away stabilizer
You can read up on your own, but your best bet when you have questions about stabilizing is to ask us! We are always here to answer your questions on the proper way to stabilize your projects, and we love to talk embroidery with you! Also, for those of you who have purchased your embroidery machines from Aurora Sewing Center you are entitled to FREE lifetime guide classes, one of which is “New to Embroidery” which is a great class that goes over all of the “lingo” of machine embroidery and what it all means.
So as promised here’s the coupon- if you can’t print it just mention it at checkout and we’ll make sure you can still save!
Now you tell me, what’s your favorite Floriani Stabilizer? (mine is no-show mesh)
Welcome back! Yesterday I shared with you part 1 of my “Cross It” Quilt…hopefully you haven’t forgotten already, you can check out part 1 of this post here….but the pattern looks like this:
So as I mentioned, I could see this finished quilt in my mind, so I had a pretty good Idea of how I wanted to quilt it. I knew I wanted to extend the “sticks” into the borders, and add a few horizontal “ghost sticks” to balance all the vertical lines.
Using my Frixion heat erasable pen I marked all the extended lines by continuing out the pieced sticks, and then started pinning! I decided that I would not draw on my horizontal lines until after I quilted the vertical lines so that I could really place them where I wanted them.
I tried to pin only in the “negative” space between my “sticks” so that I would not have to take out too many pins as I quilted my straight lines. After pinning for what felt like forever, it was time to quilt! For those of you who think you need a large machine to quilt a large scale quilt, you don’t! I used my BERNINA 430 to make this entire quilt. It would certainly be easier to quilt on a bigger machine (my dream machine is the Baby Lock Tiara) but it can certainly be done!
Quilting the straight lines was actually harder for me than the free motion portion, and once that was out of the way- the fun began! I knew that I wanted to do something curvy to counterbalance the angular nature of the piecing, but I needed a little inspiration. Some of you may be familiar with Angela Walters and her awesome book “Free Motion Quilting”
Her book is FULL of inspirational ideas, and when I saw a design called “sea foam” I knew I wanted to do a play on it.
I took the swirls and bubbles and swapped them out for bubbles and swirls! As I quilted I realized how much I loved how it was coming out! I just took one section at s time, and slowly but surely it got done! Of course when I thought I was all done, I laid it out on the floor and I had forgotten a chunk…so back to the machine I went!
When I was FINALLY done quilting and It was time for binding I knew I wanted to have a scrappy style binding, so I took a pile of my leftover fabric from the quilt top cut it up and sewed it all back together into a rainbow of binding. Here’s where I heard Barb K.’s voice in my head. If you know Barb K. you know that she is the queen of “tips and tricks”. Somewhere along the line Barb had told me about a neat way to manage all that binding.
You’ll have to accept that you may look a little silly, but if you wrap your binding around an empty toilet paper tube and then string it around your neck like a necklace, you will have a much easier time managing the binding process.
and finally…here’s what you’ve been holding your breath to see, the finished product!
Working in a Sewing Store is a wonderful thing…sometimes it’s a tough thing though, we get to see so much beautiful fabric and so many great patterns- but being surrounded by so much inspiration can be overwhelming! I’ve got so many project ideas rolling around in my brain and no time to actually DO anything!
WAAAAY back in May when I was in Kansas City for Quilt Market I fell totally in love with a fabric line called “Simply Color” by Vanessa Christenson, she won the prize for my favorite booth at market for sure!
Once we got it in to store I realized that it could be a challenging line to work with because of it’s linear nature. I started looking for the perfect project….and 6 months passed…until one day a pattern called “Cross It” by Zen Chic arrived in the shop.
You know those perfect times when you can see a finished project in your minds eye? (I know for me they don’t happen often) This was one of those projects! I could see the entire quilt done, it was calling out to me to be made! The quilt pattern calls for a jelly roll, but I just got 1/8 yard cuts of 18 fabrics which left me plenty to use for my binding. Everyone who sees this quilt 1st asks if it’s appliqued, but it’s a pieced quilt. It’s done in an “improvisational” style, meaning the directions are less of a step by step guide and more of a general guideline.
You start with a large square of your background fabric and a pile of 1.5″ strips and cut! I started with a long diagonal cut though by background, sewed a strip in, and just kept on going! The trick is not over thinking the process…it’s very easy to start trying to be too careful with your color placement, but I think it turns out better a little free-form!
After you’ve cut and sewn and cut and sewn your center square is looking very Un-square, as you can see on the bottom edge here…but you just square it up and sew on your borders! These were some HUGE borders, I think they measured 18″ each…It was a “woah” moment for sure when sewing them on. In all the pictures I took while making this quilt, I neglected to take a picture while putting the borders on, I think I was too busy wrestling with all that fabric!
I did get a (fuzzy) picture before I started marking and pinning, so let’s pretend I did a better job of taking pictures of all the steps (I’m still getting the hang of this blogging thing:) ). I’m going to stop at this point until tomorrow, when I’ll show you the finished quilt and show you what I did for the quilting…you won’t want to miss part 2! Please come back and read it…:)
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