Friday, September 30, 2016

A Finish for My Foxes

Lately there have been more project starts than finishes here at From Bolt to Beauty. All that is about to change, though.

First up: a finish for my foxes. I started this little-girl-size throw, which I call Foxes and Flowers, over the summer and detailed the rationale behind the fabrics used here.

If you remember that second post, The Anatomy of a Fabric Pull, you’ll notice that as I laid the quilt out, I added more fabrics, especially some purple and cream selections. I also was deliberate with my fabric placement, lining up the higher-value 3½” squares so there appears to be little diagonal lines throughout the quilt.

Most of my quilts are larger throws. I could lay this smaller project out on my dining room table, saving it from a run-in with puppy paws. (To date, my golden retriever has yet to wreck a quilt project. Fingers crossed that that doesn’t change.) Now that I see the final product head-on, I would play around with the block layout; there are too many bold blocks—all those deep purples and bright oranges—toward the bottom of the quilt. Oh, well—I’m over it!

Some simple quilting finished this project off. I followed the seam lines of the 6½” blocks and then quilted some diagonal ones. This process wasn’t as smooth as it should have been. I tempted the tension gods by using different top and bottom threads and quilted under artificial light at night. It wasn’t until the next morning that I realized my tension wasn’t quite right. Unpicking and requilting ensued.

But now she’s done and ready to be gifted. That’s a cause to celebrate in my book.

This was an easy and fun sew and, because it calls for different-size squares, a good way to use up scraps. Check out the pattern details at Stitched in Color.

This is the scene around here now that Foxes and Flowers is wrapped up: I have two quilts (this one and this one) at the long-armer, one almost ready to hand off to another long-armer, and three quilt tops that I’m going to finish myself. That’s a lot of quilt tops, and four of the six are for me. Some selfish sewing? Yes please!

What about you? Have you been sewing for yourself recently? I usually gift almost all of my quilts. It’s about time I grow the number living here at my house.

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

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Wednesday, September 21, 2016

BQF: Obsession Quilt

Hello again! I’d like to present my submission to the Blogger’s Quilt Festival, ROYGBIV category: Obsession.

The final reveal of Obsession was a long time in the making. This project wasn’t difficult to make, but I was determined to use as many scraps as possible. The initial scrap pull was back in November 2014. A second look through my scrap bin, in February 2015, grew my pile of squares for the project. Finally, I resorted to cutting some strips off my yardage, but it was worth it. And this past January, I revealed ...

Obsession, in all of her rainbow-y glory!

This swirly pantograph was the perfect complement to the angles of the design.

This project ate through colored scraps as well as low-volumes.

I trimmed Obsession in a net print from Dear Stella,
which I have in more colorways than I’ll admit to!

Design: Obsession, from Quilt-opedia, by Laura Jane Taylor

Size: 80” by 80”

Quilting: by the talented Garden Gate Quilting

Scrap usage: 400  4½” and 5” squares—woo hoo!

To see my other submission, click here.

To revel in the talent and inspiration of the Blogger’s Quilt Festival and vote for your favorites, visit the event at Amy’s Creative Side.

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BQF: Double-Sided Diamond Quilt (and Tutorial)

Friends, it’s that time of year again, when bloggers the world over congregate at the Blogger’s Quilt Festival to share their quilty triumphs.

I’m submitting two quilts to this fall’s festival. The first, for Original Quilt Design, is my Double-Sided Diamond Quilt. You may remember this project from its posting on Moda Bake Shop. (It is now available as one of my Almost Free for Charity PDF patterns here.)

The beauty of the DSD Quilt is that it uses one layer cake to make a quilt top and back. I used Bonnie and Camille’s Little Ruby for mine.

I gifted this quilt back in June, but I have a layer cake of Kate Spain’s Canyon set aside to make another, one for me.

To read my original post about this quilt, click here.

To see my other submission, click here.

To revel in the talent and inspiration of the Blogger’s Quilt Festival and vote for your favorites, visit the event at Amy’s Creative Side.

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Sunday, September 18, 2016

Adopt These Blocks!

The Quilty Orphan Adoption is over. Libby in TN (#2) won the hexagons, and Chris Sullivan (#19) won the plus signs. Congratulations, I hope these blocks help you create something beautiful!

Dear readers, I’m posting today as part of the Fall 2016 Quilty Orphan Adoption. This event, happening over at Quilting Is More Fun Than Housework, connects unwanted quilt blocks with adoptive homes. Will you open your heart and sewing schedule to some of my orphans?

First, I have three huge hexagons (16” flat side to flat side, 19” corner to corner) from Jaybird Quilts’ Park Bench pattern, featuring Carolyn Friedlander’s Botanics collection. There is a tiny cut in one of the exterior triangles of the mustardy hexagon; I’ll send along an extra snippet of that fabric in case you want to mend it.

I also have two 12½” squares available. These are from Meadow Mist Designs’ Outlined Plus pattern, and they feature fabric from Basic Grey’s Mon Ami line.

I’ll happily ship these lots to anyone in the United States free of charge. (If you’re outside the U.S. and want them, you’ll need to pay shipping.) You’re welcome to do whatever you wish with these blocks.

If you’re interested, leave a comment, citing whether you want the hexagons, pluses, or both. You have until 8:00 p.m. on Tuesday, September 20, to comment (I’m on the East Coast of the U.S.). I’ll let the random number generator pick the lucky recipient(s).

I look forward to passing these blocks on to a quilter or two who can give them a good home!

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Tuesday, September 13, 2016

A Few Lovely Blogs

I recently got an email that made my day. After having been nominated for the Lovely Blog Award, Jayne at Twiggy and Opal passed the torch on to me.

Jayne doesn’t know this, but she is one of my quilty crushes. I consider her an artist before a quilter. She likes to experiment and push boundaries, and man, is she prolific. She’ll take an idea and run with it, like the “faux trapunto” technique she’s been perfecting. She unveiled her first project using the technique at the end of July and, within five weeks, had played with it in two additional projects (here and here).

So thank you, Jayne. I appreciate the nomination!

Before I go any further, here are the official Lovely Blog Award rules:
  • Thank the person who nominated you and give a link to his/her blog.
  • List the rules.
  • Display the award image on your post.
  • List seven facts about yourself.
  • Nominate (up to) 15 bloggers for this award and let them know you have nominated them.
OK, the first three rules are taken care of. On to the seven facts about me ...

1. I’m afraid of spiders, but killing them grosses me out. Do you know what got me over that? Living by myself, which I did in my early twenties. When you live alone, you have to learn to cohabitate with the spiders or wield a shoe over them.

Because every post should have pretty pictures, here are some from the archives.
This is Bring On the Dancing Horses in Daysail.

2. There’s something scarier than spiders, though: mayonnaise. For real. I can’t bear to eat it. (Who’s with me on that?!) 

3. Neil Diamond wrote the soundtrack to my childhood. Our gold retriever is named after his “Cracklin’ Rosie.”

Obsession Quilt

4. I used to be a choral singer. Now I only sing in the car or when I’m extra annoyed with my children’s behavior. “Stop. It. Now!” is easy to yell, but it’s just as effectively sung, faux operatic style. When things get really tough, I resort to liturgical Latin. Hearing me sing in Latin stops my kids in their tracks!

Lizzy House Mini Quilt

5. OK, now for some sewing-related facts … I’m a self-taught sewist. My mom has sewed forever, and some of my earliest memories are of her sewing bags for my ballet school or making me clothes for my Barbie dolls. It wasn’t until I was in my late twenties and had to decorate my first house that I caught the sewing bug.

6. There are some sewing tasks that I flat-out refuse to do (hand-binding? ugh!). Others are notoriously dreaded by quilters, but I love them. Half-square triangles to trim? Yes, please! An opportunity to bury threads? Sign me up!

Cosmo Bag

7. Also, I’m crazy about blogging. This hobby combines many of my past professional pursuits (working as a web marketer, writer, and editor) into one geeky crafty pasttime. It’s a huge time suck (to my husband’s chagrin), but I’m committed to it and the friends I’ve made in this space.

Fabric-y cards

Anyway, now it’s my turn to nominate some lovely blogs. I’d like to introduce you to three ladies whom I follow ...

Campbell Soup Diary

I’ve gotten serious about following Allison, an American transplant in Germany, just recently. Her different techniques (wonky half-rectangle triangles, reverse applique) have made me a regular reader. Check out some of my favorite projects of hers: Jeweled Improv Mini, Mini Drunkard’s Path, and Foliage Runner.

Granny Maud’s Girl

Carla is a quilter with a sense of humor! Like Allison, Carla speaks to my more traditional side. Some highlights from her gallery of finishes include her Puppy Mini Mini (which she sent off to Yvonne) and her Whirligig Quilt (so much Bonnie and Camille loveliness in one quilt!).

Sew Some Sunshine

Of the lot, Judy is the sole U.S. resident. (And girl, one day I’ll meet you in real life!) She reminds me a lot of myself in her fabric decisions, in her style. It’s fun to watch her grow as a quilter. Get a glimpse of Judy’s work with these projects: Interlock, Small Projects, and Mini Off the Rail.

The quilt-blog landscape is constantly changing. Now that I’ve been doing it for a while and have made connections with other blog writers, it’s easy to get comfortable and stop seeking out new and interesting blogs. Whom would you nominate for a Lovely Blog Award? Let us know in the comments. : )

Linking up to Let’s Bee Social ...

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Thursday, September 1, 2016

The Anatomy of a Fabric Pull

When I started quilting, the process of selecting fabric for a project intimidated me. Going into a quilt shop and picking everything I needed was agonizing and time consuming and usually required multiple trips to more than one quilt shop ... sometimes in more than one state.

As a new quilter choosing fabrics, I went with my gut. The more quilts I make, though, the more I realize the process isn’t as simple as “I used these fabrics because they’re pretty together.”

I thought it would be interesting to look at the criteria I use when pulling fabric for a new project and then see how my selections play out in a finished quilt top. If you find yourself following the same—or different!—criteria, I’d love to hear about it in the comments. Also, if you like this kind of content, let me know. It’s fun to write posts like this and even more fun if there are readers who like to read them.

When I’m planning the fabric for a quilt top, four key factors pop in my mind:

Palette: This is the colors I choose to use in a quilt. Quilters can find color inspiration everywhere. I like to start with an interesting fabric and work from there.

Scale: This is the size of the design elements of a fabric. For some quilts, I might choose all small-scale designs or all large-scale designs. Or I might purposefully pick a combination. Each approach produces a different effect.

Volume: This refers to the intensity of color in the fabrics. Like scale, I might focus on one end of the spectrum or the other—that is, a bunch of high-volume fabrics or low-volume ones—or I might use a combination.

Overall feel: This is the result I’m ultimately trying to achieve. I may want to create a bold, modern, masculine quilt. Or I may be going for something soft and ethereal. Whatever the intended effect, it influences the palette, scale, and volume decisions I need to make.

The Beginning of My Foxy Quilt

After paper piecing Grape Fizz, I had a bunch of 2” purple squares left over. I paired them with an older print—Hothouse Flowers, by Mo Bedell—and thought I had the start of something interesting.

I decided to sew a Penny Patch Quilt. I’ve been meaning to make this pattern, by Rachel Hauser, for a few years. It’s a great design because it calls for squares in three sizes: 2”, 3½”, and 6½”. With these sizes in mind, I could cull through my yardage and my scrap bin to come up with the right combination of fabrics.

Fleshing out the Fabric Pull

The Hothouse Flowers print was a great starting point. It’s feminine and whimsical, and has a bunch of different colors in it. I fleshed out the palette for a little-girl quilt from that fabric. To the floral yardage and purple scraps, I added some teals, a novelty fox print (Wonderful Woodlands by Arrolynn Weiderhold for Wilmington Prints), and some oranges.

As I was assembling my fabric pull, I was looking for patterns that varied in scale and volume. That contrast creates interest for me. That’s why I chose solids and patterned fabrics, low volumes (like the foxes) and high volumes (like the orange Zen Chic dots), different kinds of geometrics (some predictable and uniform, like the Lizzy House pearls, and some less so, like the dashed concentric circles).

I started cutting and laying out the blocks. I knew the zingers in the mix were the deepest purple scraps and those orange Zen Chic dots, so I only used them for 2” and 3½” squares. They were so eye-catching that they could have overwhelmed the quilt in 6½” chunks.

Scrapping the Rejects

I wanted the final quilt to be feminine and youthful with a softness to it, and not all of my fabrics made the cut. Ultimately, the second teal from the top in the picture above wasn’t working. I thought the contrast between the pale teal and rigid design could overshadow the real stars: the Hothouse Flowers print and fox fabric.

The pieces on the right, below, were also edited out ...

The blue crosshatch has a vintage feel to it, which I wasn’t going for in this project, and against all the purples, the color just seemed boring.

The blue and brown dot, with its sharp contrast and strong geometry, would have upstaged some of the other fabrics and undermined that sense of softness I was going for.

I thought the pale-pink Lizzy House jewels could work with the other low volumes, but it was too pink to play with the purples.

The Final Reveal?

I am still quilting this throw, so a full reveal will come in the next week or so. But here’s a sneak peek of it when I was basting. I’m really pleased with the balance of colors and patterns that I was able to achieve. And did I mention this fabric was all from my stash? Woo hoo!

What does your fabric-selection process look like? What factors do you consider?

Linking up to Let’s Bee Social and Needle and Thread Thursday ...

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