Wednesday, November 30, 2011

All wrapped up: simple, stylish holiday quilts

~Stay tuned for Christmas around the World!~
This year we've featured a medley of holiday quilts, ranging from quick-pieced blocks to appliqued motifs.  Now, as we're getting ready to share Christmas quilts from around the world, here's a wrapup!

Row 1:  Shopping’s done! Gift’s wrapped! by Sandy Gervais at Pieces from my Heart; Argyle Christmas by Natalia Bonner at Piece N Quilt. Row 2: Royaltry by Kay M. Capps Cross at Cross Cuts Quilting; Christmas Tree by Paris Bottman at Bigfork Bay Cotton Co.   Row 3: Gift Quilt by Brandon Mably at Brandon Mably Designs; Christmas reindeer by June Jaeger at Log Cabin Quiltworks. Row 4: Peace by Norma Whaley and Joyce Weeks at Geoff’s Mom Patterns; Yonder Star by Ann Lauer at Grizzly Gulch Gallery.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Yonder Star

It's the 8th day of our "simple, stylish holiday quilts". Here's a fast and fun Nativity-themed wall hanging, done with fusible applique. In the midst of a busy holiday season, this brings a sense of peace and repose, as the Wise Men journey through the silent and wondrous night, following the Star of Bethlehem.  

Yonder Star,  29 x 27 by Ann Lauer at Grizzly Gulch Gallery (Montana)

From Helena, Montana, Ann Lauer has been designing and creating quilts for over 20 years. Her online store, Grizzly Gulch Gallery, sells patterns, books, bed quilts, art quilts, fabric art, wall hangings, and custom made gifts. While perusing all the goodies for sale at Grizzly Gulch, this art quilt really caught our attention.

Like many quilters, we're enchanted by quilts which feature building and houses. The glowing village in the distance here creates such a balanced, graceful focal point and perfectly symbolizes the light of Christmas. The Yonder Star pattern features full size templates that are drawn in reverse, so they easily lend themselves to fusible applique and raw edge applique techniques. This traditional yet contemporary look goes with all decor and would look great in any room in your home.

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Gift Quilt

It's Day 7 of our simple, stylish holiday quilts ! Here's a quilt which encompasses the spirit of the holiday season, which is giving to others. What could be better than a quilt sewn to look like a giant present, whether it is for friends, family, or even yourself?

The Gift, 27 x 33, by Brandon Mably at Brandon Mably Designs

Brandon Mably is the Studio Manager for the Kaffe Fasset Studio in London, and he shares Kaffe Fassett's interest in bold swirling fabric patterns with vibrant colorways.  The background of this quilt is done in easy patchwork squares, while the ribbon bow is machine appliqued. You can make this quilt in pretty contrasting holiday colors, as quilter Laura West Kong has shown on her blog, with a bright red bow and sparkling green accents.  "The Gift" pattern is available in a wonderful book, Kaffe Fassett's Country Garden Quilts, written by Kaffe Fassett, Brandon Mably, and others.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Christmas reindeer

Happy Saturday! It's Day 6 of our "simple, stylish" holiday quilts and we wanted to share our favorite reindeer (quilt).  He could be Dasher, Dancer, Prancer or Vixen. The image reminds us of the cover of the classic children's book, The Night Before Christmas,  which depicts Santa's reindeer silhouetted by the moon.

Christmas Reindeer, 23-1/2 x 33" by June Jaeger at Log Cabin Quiltworks (Oregon)

This reindeer is silhouetted by a shiny green Christmas ornament; the graceful red ribbon that adorns the deer is echoed by the red ribbon on the ornament. 

June Jaeger is a renowned designer, entrepreneur and teacher. We first featured her work in our series on Quilts of the Wild West.   Many of her patterns have animal silhouettes, which we love; the silhouettes portray the animals in their simplest forms.  At Log Cabin Quiltworks you can find June's artistic patterns for winter, wildlife and birds, including Gambel's quail. Last but not least, if you are a cat lover you will enjoy her cat quilts such as Here a kitty There a kitty.

Image credits: The image is shown with the generous permission of June Jaeger.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Shopping's done !

Well, not really.  It's Day 5 of our "simple, stylish holiday quilts" and that happens to be the name of Sandy Gervais' pattern.  Since today is Black Friday we thought "Shopping's Done" was appropriate!   We like the abstract geometric shapes of the gift boxes, which give this quilt a very modern look.

Shopping's done! Gift's wrapped! 48 x 70", by Sandy Gervais at Pieces From My Heart

Each block is created using a stack and slice technique--cutting more than one piece of a pattern at once by stacking up to four layers of fabric. (You copy the pattern onto freezer paper, iron it to a fat quarter of fabric, then place it on top of as many layers as you think you can slice with your rotary cutter.) This quick-cutting approach is also used for Sandy's iconic "Tree's up" quilt:

Tree's up! Light's on! 51 x 70", by Sandy Gervais at Pieces From My Heart

Sandy Gervais learned to sew at an early age. In 1992 she combined her love for art with her passion for sewing into a quilt pattern company, Pieces From My Heart. At her first international Quilt Market -– St. Louis in 1994 -– she was discovered by Moda Fabrics. Over fifteen years, and countless fabric lines later, she is still designing for Moda.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Argyle for Christmas

It's day 4 of our simple, stylish holiday quilts.  We've always loved quilt designs that mimic plaid and woven textiles. Today's holiday quilt re-creates a traditional argyle design in patchwork. Simple? Stylish? Yes and yes.

Argyle Christmas, 52 x 63", by Natalia Bonner at Piece N Quilt (Utah)

In weaving, the argyle pattern originated with the tartan of Clan Campbell, of Argyll in western Scotland, and from the patterned socks worn by Scottish Highlanders since at least the 17th century. Natalia Bonner has transformed the design from a pure geometric to a cheerful holiday quilt by adding appliqued evergreen branches and bright red berries.

Natalia Bonner is a professional machine quilter and pattern designer. You can find Natalia Bonner and Kathleen Whiting, co-owner, at the Piece N Quilt website and the Piece N Quilt blog.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A Christmas Tree

It's day three of our "simple, stylish holiday quilts" series.  This predominantly white quilt is a simple celebration of snow and holiday cheer. We like its uncomplicated design:  just a bear, and a tree.

Christmas tree, 21 x 27" by Paris Bottman at Bottman Design as seen at Bigfork Bay Cotton Company (Montana)

Paris Bottman is an artist who has been entertaining us with her whimsical characters for over 25 years.  Several of her works of art have been translated into quilt patterns by the talented group at Bigfork Bay Cotton Company.  As with many of Paris Bottman's designs, this polar bear captivates us with his human-like gaze.

Image credits:  The image is shown with the generous permission of Bigfork Bay Cotton Company. Bigfork Bay Cotton Company licenses the work of fine artists to create raw edge applique quilt patterns, and they produce fabric kits and thread kits for these designs. Bigfork Bay Cotton Company has its own quilt shop located in beautiful Bigfork, Montana.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A little peace for the holidays

Today's post is number two in our "simple and stylish holiday" series.  Recently we came across the most charming journal covers.  The dove of peace is one of the prettiest we've seen, and this journal cover fits a standard composition notebook.  We think that these would make fantastic gifts. 

Peace, 8" x 10", by Norma Whaley and Joyce Weeks at Geoff's Mom Pattern Company (Utah)

In her description of the pattern, Norma Whaley writes: "If you are someone who keeps a journal of your life's journey, you could make a cover that would look lovely on your night stand." For more examples check out Rejoice, Wisdom, Bird Nesting, Don't count sheep, and Flower Power Journal (shades of the '60's). You can see all of the designs - there are ten so far - on the Quilt Patterns page.

Geoff's Mom is Joyce Weeks, and Norma Whaley is her co-designer and friend. Norma formerly created patterns under the name "Remember When", and the two have now merged their business. Their quilt patterns can be found at Geoff's Mom Patterns and their blog is at Geoff's Mom blog.

Image credits:  The image is shown with the generous permission of Joyce Weeks.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Simple, stylish holiday quilts

In the midst of the holiday hubbub it can be difficult to keep things simple. This year we decided to share 8 different quilts that embody beauty in simplicity.  As Frank Lloyd Wright said: "Simplicity and repose are the qualities that measure the true value of any work of art." 

Royaltry, 39 x 47", in Black & White and Pieced All Over, by Kay M. Capps Cross at Cross Cuts Quilting

Is there anything more elegant than black and white, or more simple than this edgy pine tree?  This quilt would look beautiful in silk or in Kona cottons. One reviewer on Amazon sums it up: "I like the use of black and white, usually with one other accent color. There's something very appealing about the crisp contrast this provides."

Kay M. Capps Cross is an expert in black-and-white quilts, and we love her contemporary style. Her books and patterns are designed for stress-free foundation piecing... which is exactly what we need at this time of year.

Image credits:  The image is shown with the generous permission of Kay M. Capps Cross.   To browse and purchase individual patterns please visit her website, Cross Cuts Quilting. You also can find Kay at her Facebook page.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Easy pieced wreath: free pattern and tutorial

We've been dying to use our fabric stash to make a festive wreath.  We looked at many methods, including tying fabric strips to a wire frame, but we were put off by these words of wisdom:  "You will tie and tie for days and days".... and: "I got blisters on my fingers from the fabric when I tied it" (see where beauty meets function).  So we asked ourselves: why not stitch the strips together, then simply wrap them around the wreath?  After some trial and error we came up with this easy pattern that produces a beautiful, full wreath. The bow is built in, and the wreath itself can be re-used (the fabric strips can be removed for storage !)

This wreath has fabric all the way around, so it can be admired from both sides of a glass door.

It also looks great on the front door:

This wreath is a great stash-buster.  It can be as scrappy or as coordinated as you wish !

You will need:
-One 12-inch floral styrofoam wreath such as from Michael's ($4 with coupon).  One manufacturer is FloraCraft.  Other brands and styles will work but may require more or less fabric depending on the thickness of the ring.
-Dark green fabric for backbone strips (approx. 1 fat quarter - FQ)
-Hot pink fabric for bow (we used a 10" x 21" piece from 1 FQ)
-Assorted fabrics for cross-strips: approx. 1-3/4 to 2 yards (7-8 FQ)
-Rotary cutter and 24" cutting mat; 6" x 24" quilting ruler
-T-pins to attach the strips to the wreath

Step 1. Backbone strips: Cut the dark green fat quarter into 1.5" wide strips (you will need 9-10 strips that are ~21" long):

Step 2. Cross-strips:  Cut the assorted fabrics into 1.5" wide strips, then cross-cut so the strips are 3.5" long*.  To save time, you can cut a stack of 3-4 fabrics as long as your rotary blade is sharp (*use caution*!)  We first cut the 1.5" wide strips without separating them, then simply rotated the cutting mat and made a second set of cuts every 3.5 inches:

Here are the strips from the six fabrics we used.  We selected dark, medium and light value fabrics to give the wreath some interest. We used two FQ of the dark green, turquoise and purple, and one FQ of the others. We included some spotty white fabrics that looked like snow:

Step 3. Stitch the cross strips to the backbones: Place one dark green backbone strip in the sewing machine and take a few stitches down the middle of the strip to hold it in place (see second photo below).  Start adding cross strips as follows: fold one cross-strip in half lengthwise to make a 3/4" wide strip and pinch it in the middle.  Then layer another cross-strip on top and fold it in half lengthwise. We found it easiest to fold and stack the strips flat on the table, then pinch them together as shown below. (Note:  you can click on any of the pictures to expand them and see the detail).

Center the stacked cross strips on the backbone and take a few stitches down the middle.  Continue folding and adding cross-strips to the backbone strip, one right after another, as shown in the photos below.  You should not need to raise and lower the presser foot as long as you take only a few stitches before you add the next set of strips:

You can use chain piecing if you wish by starting on the next backbone without lifting the needle.  Each backbone will hold about 26 stacked cross strips.  It will take a little time to sew the strips - but not days !  It goes fairly quickly, and soon you will have a tantalizing collection of fluffy strips, at which point you will start to imagine all sorts of decor possibilities in addition to the wreath. Garlands, conical trees, jars filled with fabric, and wall hangings come to mind.

Step 4Make the bow: Before you finish stitching all the strips, attach the bow "strings" and bow to one of the backbone strips, about 6" from the end. First, cut the hot pink fabric into one 8" x 21" strip and one 2" x 21" strip.  Fold the 8" wide strip in fourths, lengthwise, making an accordion fold as shown below (first fold the strip in half lengthwise with right sides together; then fold back the raw edges.) This will become the "strings" for the bow:

Then fold the 2" wide strip to make a flat bow.  We've provided a free bow template in a pdf file (download here).  The bow looks like this:

Attach the bow "strings" and bow to one of the backbone strips, about 6" from the end.  First, center the bow strings on the backbone, then layer the flat bow on top of the strings and stitch down the middle, stitching through all layers. 

When you are done stitching the bow, continue stitching cross pieces onto the backbone.

Step 5.  Assemble the wreath: Start with the strip that has the bow.  Center the bow on the front of the wreath form and pin it in place temporarily with a t-pin:

Then start wrapping the strip around the wreath, pushing the bow and cross-strips to the left as you wrap the strip to the right: 

When have finished wrapping this strip, secure the end with a t-pin (you can tuck the t-pin underneath a cross strip so that it does not show).  Also wrap and pin the left end of the strip behind the bow  (once both ends are secured, you can remove the pin from the bow.) Keep pinning and wrapping strips around the wreath, one after another, until the entire form is covered.  Hint: If you wrap slowly, an inch or two at a time, it will be easy to push aside the cross strips so they do not get caught underneath the strip you are wrapping.  When you have gone all the way around the wreath, cut off any extra strips.  We used about 9.5 strips for our finished wreath.  Fluff the wreath with your fingers, straightening out any crumpled strips. 

Having completed this project, here's what we love about this method:

-The wreath looks very professional.
-It uses about the same amount of fabric as other methods.  There is little or no wastage.
-It takes only a few hours, not days. No blisters !  
-It is perfect not only for scraps and remnants, but also for pre-cuts such as honey buns - and, with minor modifications, jelly roll strips.
-After the holidays the fabric strips can be unpinned and stored in a box until next year.  The wreath form can then be used to make another Easy Pieced Wreath.
-It was so much fun, and so easy, that we want to make another one ! We're thinking white, with a pink or red bow, for Valentine's Day. 

~Enjoy your wreath and have a very happy holiday season ! ~

*Note:  Through trial and error we discovered that 3.5" is the right length for cross strips for a 12" wreath.  Strips that are 3" long are too short.  Strips that are 5" long look too long on a 12" wreath, but would be great for a 14" wreath.  Also:  our 12" over-the-door wreath hanger was a little too short for this size wreath.  We used a loop of wire to attach the wreath to the hanger.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Free pattern day: Christmas part 1

In 2010 we published 12 days of Christmas Trees, which revealed just how many variations of trees are possible.  Here are some fantastic free patterns and tutorials for Christmas Tree quilts!  After all, quilted trees are "green" (reusable) and they take up far less space than a real tree ! (Note: This post was updated on June 11, 2015.)

Yuletide Christmas wall hanging, free pattern by Hilary Gooding for Makower UK 

Alchemy Tree quilt, free pattern at Hoffman Fabrics

Christmas Tree wall hanging, ~36 x 36",  tutorial by Julie Cefalu at The Crafty Quilter

Circle Tree Quilt wall hanging, free pattern by Gayle Schliemann at We All Sew

Happy Trees mini quilt tutorial by Jacey at Jaceycraft

Christmas Tree Farm mini quilt, 12 x 18”, tutorial by Debbie Grifka at Esch House Quilts

O Tannenbaum mini quilt, 20 x 23", free pattern by Brenda Groelz for McCalls Quilting

Little Forest Quilt, approx 27 x 14" by Lovely Design, tutorial at the Purl Bee

My Christmas Tree, 16 x 18”, free pattern by Sharon Pederson for Aurifil (click, then scroll down the page; you can use a die cut machine or cut the shapes by hand)

Santa's Special Delivery Quilt, free pattern at The Learning Channel

Winter Games - Ski Slopes, 59 x 62”, free pattern by The Buggy Barn for Henry Glass Fabrics

Oh Colorful Trees quilt, 60 x 60", free pattern by Jina Barney for Riley Blake Designs as seen at Fab Shop Hop

Christmas Trees Quilt, free pattern by Laurie Matthews as seen at Ann Kelle

Figgy Pudding Quilt, 66 x 82",  free pattern by Basic Grey for Moda 

Oh Christmas Tree quilt, 46 x 57",  tutorial by Alliekatmom for Moda Bakeshop

Hip Holidays quilt, 57 x 70", free pattern by Barbara Jones at Quilt Soup

Christmas Tree Applique Quilt, tutorial by Jessica at Projects by Jess

Christmas Ornaments Seasonal Sampler quilt, 38 x 38", free pattern by Ellen Maxwell for Free Spirit Fabric

Have a Haut-E Holiday, free pattern by Grace Wilson for Maywood Studio

Prairie Point Christmas quilt, 38 x 43", tutorial by Cara Wilson for Moda Bakeshop

Christmas Tree blocks

Row 1 above: Christmas Tree pillow by Kati at From The Blue Chair; Sweet Sue Tops the Tree by Jennifer Ofenstein at Sew Hooked. Row 2: O Christmas Tree by Jennifer Bosworth at Shabby Fabrics. Row 3: Christmas Tree, a Keepsake Frame block project, by Carol Doak; Foundation Pieced Tree by Marion Boddy-Evans at Mad Cat Art Studio.

Sweet Trimmings Quilt-as-you-go by Gudrun Gisladottir at Gudrun's World

O Christmas Tree by Kimberly Crapsey at Quilt Pox

Jovial Christmas Tree wall hanging by Karin Hellaby for Moda Bakeshop

Christmas Advent Tree, free pattern by Kimara at Wee Folk Art

Winter Pines wall hanging, free pattern by Joy Hoffman and Darlene Zimmerman for Simplicity

Not-so-spring deer, free paper piecing pattern by Julianna Gąsiorowska at Sewing Under Rainbows

Image credits:  All images are copyrighted by their owners. Please respect their generosity in sharing their free patterns, and the restrictions they have placed on the use of these designs. Complete information can be found at the designers' websites provided in the links. If any links are broken, we'd love to know; email us at quiltinspiration {at} gmail {dot} com.
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