Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Behavior Modification for Quilters

My husband and I have two sons, and we sometimes use incentives to encourage desirable behavior. Our younger son, for example, is supposed to wear hearing aids but doesn’t tolerate the sensation of having a little chunk of (very expensive!) plastic in his ears. So we started with getting him to hold a hearing aid in his hand for 10 seconds and rewarding him with a TV show or iPad time. We worked up from there ... holding for 20 seconds, for 30 seconds, touching a hearing aid to his ears, etc. The plan is working: Now he’ll tolerate a hearing aid—not turned on yet!—in his ear for several seconds. On my good days, I call this “positive reinforcement.” On my more cynical days, I call it “bribery.”

If that strategy works for a 5-year-old, surely it could work for that 5-year-old’s mama. My challenge? Not to eat any Halloween candy.

Perhaps other people could eat a piece a day or whatever and not fall off the deep end. I knew that for me, though, one Kit Kat would lead to two Kit Kats, if not half a bag of them. (And it really is about avoiding the Kit Kats—they’re the gateway candy to harder stuff, like Milky Ways, Almond Joys, and anything with dark chocolate.)

If I could endure an entire month coexisting with Halloween candy in my house, I would buy myself some just-because-I-like-it fabric. I’m happy to report I succeeded. I haven’t been an angel—I still ate my fair share of cake over my sister’s baby-shower weekend and had a Swedish fish here and there (Swedish fish are a staple in our pantry, not Halloween loot). But look what my self-control earned me ...

Eep—I know! I’m a big Basic Grey fan, and I’ve been very excited about the design house’s most recent line for Moda, Mon Ami.

I consider this one of the focal prints in the line. Isn’t it dreamy?

Ack! And these dots—they’re perfect for stashing!

Here are some other peeks of the line,
including Basic Grey’s signature Grunge in charcoal.

I rarely buy an entire line, but I didn’t stash enough of an earlier Basic Grey line—PB&J—before it went out of production and I didn’t want to make the same mistake with Mon Ami. I don’t have immediate plans for these 40 fats. They will have to “age” in my stash until I find the perfect project for them. : )

Are there new lines you’ve got your eyes on? Do tell!

Linking up to Let’s Bee Social, Sunday Stash, and Sew Cute Tuesday ...

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Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Quick, Make a Bag!

Do you recall my flying geese dilemma? I was considering pairing these fabrics with a light-colored Essex Linen for a quilt of crazy-big flying geese.

I decided that was a Bad Idea. The blues were beautiful but wouldn’t stand out against the Essex Linen. I could have returned all those fabrics to my stash, but the Amy Butlers (those second and fourth from the top) were purchased specifically for this quilt and had the potential to spend an eternity in my stash.

Don’t get me wrong: I adore those two fabrics, both from AB’s Cameo collection. But between their large-scale designs and super-gray undertones, they might not play well with other fabrics. So before I could issue them a one-way ticket to my stash drawers, I quickly cut them up for a bag.

See? They are gorgeous fabrics. They need to be used and loved, not merely visited by me when I check in with the rest of my fabric hoard.

The pattern is Alicia Paulson’s Jane Market Bag. It is the perfect bag pattern—like a simple grocery bag all grown-up with two exterior pockets. I’ve made this pattern at least 30 times (no joke). If I know you in real life, it’s only a matter of time before I make you one.

So this project got me thinking ... I really love Amy Butler’s designs (see this post for more gushing). Is there an epic AB quilt in my future? It would be fitting to make a best-of quilt with my favorite AB quilting cottons. Can I pull off the necessary fabric pull, though?

Some designers’ fabric is conducive to mixing and matching between collections. Bonnie and Camille—with their aqua, teal, true red, and navy—come to mind. And then there’s Cotton and Steel, with a palette that all four of its designers share. I don’t think Amy’s collections work together in the same way.

What do you think, is it possible? Do you have any advice on how I should approach this project? Better yet ... Have you made such a quilt yourself?

Linking up to Let’s Bee Social, Needle and Thread Thursday, TGIFF, and Finish It Up Friday ...

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Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Use All the Jelly Rolls!

Read the Tutorial: Ridiculously Easy Jelly Roll Quilt

I’ve succumbed to the allure of precuts on many occasions. Who can blame me? They’re a cost-effective way to get a cross-section of an entire line, and because they are precut, there is less work for me.

Jelly rolls are not as versatile as other precuts, though, so they tend to linger in my stash. I have four of them right now, and it’s time to put them into service as quilts. Two of the four feature Christmas fabrics, so I decided to use them up first by making quilts for Christmas giving. The holiday deadline was the kick in the pants I needed to get going!

First up: my Ridiculously Easy Jelly Roll Quilt. Most of the fabrics are from a jelly roll of Basic Grey’s Evergreen, but I supplemented that lot with some Evergreen fat quarters and some strips from a jelly roll of Basic Grey’s 25th and Pine. My goal was to cull the lighter, airier fabrics and sew them with a few well-placed color-saturated selections. I omitted all the super-Christmassy fabrics, striving for a more wintry quilt that could be used throughout the cold months here in New England.

I love the results. The Scandinavian feel of the Evergreen line is going to be perfect for the recipients I have in mind.

You could figure out how to make your own Ridiculously Easy Jelly Roll Quilt, but why would you do that when I’ve already done it for you? Check out the tutorial here.

This is a happy accident. I miscut the background fabric and had to make
do with a neutral pattern in its place.

Christmas quilt #2 is in the works. It’s going to feel great to trim my jelly roll stash down by two!

Do you have a go-to pattern or two for your jelly rolls? If so, I would love to hear about it. And if you’re able to resist jelly rolls in general, can you teach me how to do that, too?

Linking up to Sew Cute Tuesday, Let’s Bee Social, Needle and Thread Thursday, TGIFF, and Finish It Up Friday ...

This is also my submission for Le Challenge. This month’s theme is method, and I thought this quilt finish and accompanying tutorial fit the bill well. : )

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Tutorial: Ridiculously Easy Jelly Roll Quilt

Read the Introduction: Use All the Jelly Rolls!

Fabric Requirements

29 patterned jelly roll strips (I used pieces from Basic Grey’s 25th and Pine line and Evergreen line)
1⅔ yards of solid fabric or 24 solid jelly roll strips for the background
½ yard of fabric for the binding
3½ yards of fabric for the backing
64” x 76” piece of batting (this provides approximately 3” of overhang on each side)
Thread to match

Finished size: approximately 58” x 70”

All seams are ¼”.

Updated 11/17/2015: Cutting instructions presume 42” of usable fabric after selvages are removed.


Cut each patterned jelly roll strip into 4 rectangles that are 10½” x 2½”, for a total of 116 rectangles.

If you’re using yardage for the background, cut (24) 2½” width-of-fabric (WOF) strips. Then subcut those 24 strips or your 24 solid jelly roll strips into rectangles. To maximize your fabric:

Cut 19 WOF strips into 8” x 2½” rectangles. Each strip yields 5 rectangles, for a total of 95.

Cut 2 WOF strips each into (6) 6” x 2½” rectangles and (1) 4” x 2½” rectangle. Cut 1 WOF strip into (2) 6” x 2½” rectangles and (7) 4” x 2½” rectangles. You will have a total of (14) 6” x 2½” rectangles and (9) 4” x 2½” rectangles.

Cut 1 WOF strip into (5) 4” x 2½” rectangles. Combined with the rectangles from the previous step, you will now have (14) 4” x 2½” rectangles.

Cut 1 WOF strip into (14) 2” x 2½” rectangles.

Sewing the Base Strips

Sew 87 of the 95 solid 8” x 2½” rectangles with the 116 patterned 10½” x 2½” rectangles to create 29 strips that look like the picture below. Press seams open.

Laying out and Completing the Strips

Determine the order in which you want to lay out these strips in your quilt, and sew the remaining rectangles as illustrated below. Press seams open.

A: 8” x 2½” solid rectangle on the top; none on the bottom

B: 6” x 2½” solid rectangle on the top; 2” x 2½” solid rectangle on the bottom

C: 4” x 2½” solid rectangle on the top; 4” x 2½” solid rectangle on the bottom

D: 2” x 2½” solid rectangle on the top; 6” x 2½” solid rectangle on the bottom

E: none on the top; 8” x 2½” solid rectangle on the bottom

Before you sew the completed columns together, cut ½” off the bottom of each A and ½” off the top of each E. (Trust me on this; it accounts for the fact that those columns have one fewer seam than the others.) Update 2/1/2016: You could wait to trim until after the columns are sewn together, but keep in mind this length discrepancy; it will affect how the columns line up.

Sew the columns together, pressing the seams as you prefer. (Since I planned on stitching in the ditch, I pressed all my seams to one side.)

Finishing the Quilt

To make the backing, cut your 3½ yards of backing fabric into two rectangles: 63” x WOF. Sew them along the long side. Quilt, bind, and enjoy your quilt!

Please note: This design was inspired by a free pattern by Joel Dewberry. I made an earlier version here using fat quarters and wrote the instructions above to accommodate the jelly roll strips I had on hand. Enjoy!

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