All Inclusive

CoExist Stars 2

I recently attended a guild meeting, where the speaker began her talk by making a statement along the lines of “those ugly charity quilts some people make are not art.”

Yeesh. Talk about divide the room.

I’ve been quilting since the late 1980′s, and back then the argument was that if it wasn’t hand pieced, or at least hand-quilted, it wasn’t a quilt, because our grandmothers made them all by hand.

Then in the 1990′s it was art quilting vs. traditional quilting. And now, it seems, the rivalry is modern vs. everything else.

What’s with the US vs. THEM thing? As a Facebook friend remarked last week, she’s so OVER the conversation of whether or not a quilt can be called “modern.”

I can’t help but think that, in this mostly female endeavor, any such divisiveness is just corrosive. Our grandmothers laid the foundation of feminism (in the true sense of the word, as in the respect of women as equal members of society), and I can’t help but think they’d be ready to swat our hands with a wooden spoon for not cheering on our sisters, regardless of how different from us they may be. Incidentally, I think they would also be howling with mirth at the idea we should turn our backs on sewing machine technology out of some Luddite-driven sense of reverence for the good ol’ days.

It doesn’t matter how you make quilts, or even why. Yes, I know that there are people who imbue every thread of their composition with deep meaning, and trust me, with an MFA in Fiber under my belt, I would enjoy the intellectual wrangle of a good chew on the “making meaning” conversation with you. But I’m also equally happy to cheer you on when you decide to make a quilt with pink frog fabric for no reason other than pink frogs make your heart soar.

You get to make the thing that turns you on. You get to spend your free time making charity quilts. You get to spend ten years piecing hexies for an insanely large bed quilt. You get to make everything in purple because it’s your favorite color. You get to try new things. You get to do the same things you’ve always done and be damned with the new-fangled stuff. You get to use nothing but batiks. You get to use Kona Ash in everything. You get to sweat the details on a competition-level quilt. You get to chop your points off because accuracy isn’t all that important to you. You get to quilt it on a home machine. You get to quilt it by check. You get to make your version of beauty. You get to abandon things that are not your cup of tea.

The point is YOU GET TO DO IT YOUR WAY. And the meaning it makes is the meaning you give it. This isn’t brain surgery, although I would argue that the pursuit of it is just as important… a surgeon can heal the body, but a quilt can heal the soul. But enough of debating all this. No more making other people’s art “wrong” – okay?

Just go make something you think is lovely. We’ll all be better off for it!

BTW – Did you join my mailing list yet? Do it here. I’m dreaming up groovy exclusive stuff for you!

 

 

Fabric Crush: Introducing PAINT!

Welcome to my hop on the blog tour for PAINT, the latest fabric line from Carrie Bloomston of SUCH Designs!

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To read more about my friendship with Carrie (and one her beautiful “wise-woman” stories) go here.

PAINT continues the conversation begun in Carrie’s first line, Collage. The elements we know and love are there in new shades – the “torn” stripes, and the text prints (psst… Carrie handcrafts the text to be full of positive and inspiring words).

I’m thrilled to see all the solid-reading blenders in this line – they are so needed to bring together a pretty composition – but I’m utterly wowed by the border print! Carrie sent me some to play with, and so I featured it in the flap of a couple Chunky Wee Bags:

PAINT CWBags

 

I made the littlest bag especially for Carrie’s daughter, who is featured in the Lookbook that Windham Fabrics created for the fabric. It’s worth a peruse – it has a bunch of sweet projects in it, showing the versatility of the fabric. And don’t miss the inspiring prayer flags created by a community of Carrie’s readers on the last page!

Carrie and Windham have a charm pack of the fabric for you to win – just leave a comment below, and I’ll choose a winner on Tuesday morning. And look for the fabric at your LQS in July/August (tell them to order it at Spring Quilt Market!)

Don’t miss the rest of the blog tour!

April 9 April Rhodes
April 10 Sally Keller + Julie Goldin
April 11 Shea Henderson
April 12 Ramona Burke + Jenny Kelly
April 13 Sam Hunter A Vintage Fairytale (Staci Barrett)
April 14 Rachael Gander + Erica Sage
April 15 Karen LePage + Tia Curtis
April 16 Shelly Figueroa + Fabrications2b (Bonnie Bobman)

 

Making a Quick Buck

Well! It seems that my last post about quilting patterns touched a couple of nerves… it seems that any of us who have designed quilt patterns got a bit prickly about the comment that we do it to “make a quick buck.” (insert hysterical laughter).

Bags on Mannequin

So I thought I would give you a peek behind the green curtain on how my Chunky Wee Bag pattern got designed. I wrote this up for Generation Q Magazine last year for their Sept/Oct issue. While it’s definitely a humorous look at the monologue in my head, please don’t miss how many times I made and tested the bag before I let it out of the house. Seriously.

Here goes…

The 17th Time’s the Charm – OR – What it Took to Make the Chunky Wee Bag Pattern (said in my best Rocky and Bullwinkle voice-over)

It started out with a need (necessity being the mother of invention and all that): I had a date with my son and Disneyland. I needed a small bag that would go across my body, and carry just a wallet, glasses, phone and a snack. My usual handbag is part backpack, and had previously proven hard to manage in the cramped confines of a rollercoaster, so I thought I would just whip up something else. I’m a miss-fancy-pants-pattern-designer, right? Right. Read on for a peek into the mind of a (mad)woman on a mission to make the perfect bag.

Studio. Hmmm… what size bag? Let’s start with 8” x 8” shall we? Love that square! Love that balance! Couple inches deep. Flap. No zippers! Definitely need pockets inside to keep stuff separate. (What does the Bagginses have in its pocketses?) A ring… to clip keys onto. Where’s the calculator? Graph paper! Sketch, draw, redraw, recalculate.

OK, I think I have it, wait… adjust that a smidge… strap should be narrower? Yes. Fabric! ORANGE! The robot fabric! (Bad Robot!) Aha! Needs something. Grey? Yes… but something else. (Garlic? Chocolate?) Ooh, the retro one with the boomerangs! Yeah, baby! Groovy, baby! (But with better teeth!)

Can I do it all with black thread? Yessss. New needle, walking foot… who put felt under my bobbin again? Drop of oil. Water in the iron? OK!

Cut, fuse, sew, pin, wrangle, sew. Ooops. Flap’s in backwards. Bah! Pout. Rip, rip, rip. Pin. Check. Really? Sigh. Re-pin. Re-check. Sew. Yes! Post picture on FB. Awww, lots of likes :-)

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Disneyland! Wheeee! Works perfectly. Yay for pulling it out of my hat yesterday! Except for the flap needs Velcro. Why, thank you, yes, I made it! The strap could be a smidge wider. But still… success!

Home. I wanna use my cute wee bag! Too small. Can’t get the sketchbook in there. Huh. The tissues. The little box of emergency medical stuff that all mothers MUST carry even when their kid lives in a different state now. (I checked the handbook, it’s in there. Trust me). Pens. Nail file. Lip balm. Emergency chocolate.

Duh. Make it bigger.

Studio. What about 9” x 10”? Draw, calculate, funky Halloween fabric, cut, sew. Hmm. Don’t like the proportion much. Cute but… meh. Yes, you can have it.

DSC_9971 = 2nd bag Halloween

What about deeper? Chunky deep. Like four inches deep? Oooh. Need a base board to hold that bottom out square. And how to get from a 4” side to a thinner strap?

How to get from a 4” side to a thinner strap??

Really. How to get from a 4” side to a thinner strap???

Toss and turn. Wee hours… EUREKA! That’s how to do it! Throw on clothes, grab tea, OMG MY HAIR. But no one’s gonna see me today. I hope. Baseball cap. Car keys. Studio!

Template plastic, more robot fabric, cut, sew. Hold breath. Turn inside-out. Iron. YES! (By George I Think She’s Got IT!) Topstitch that thing and get it into the bag. LOVE IT. (I know).

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Move stuff into the bag. Fits! HAPPY!

Inside the bag

Pattern? No… didn’t make a pattern for it yet. Yes, I should. Well, sure I’ll make you one while I write it. Have to test it anyway. And one for you. Oh, you want it bigger. That tall? To carry your iPad. Got it. Tall version coming up. Let’s try 8” x 10”.

Studio. Draw, calculate, cut, sew. Two sizes… officially a Pattern In Development. Flap’s funny on the tall one. Make it again. Try magnetic closures. Make it again. Ok, I’ll make you one. But I’m still working out this flap, OK?

Taller bag

Email blast to the Tester Peeps! Make a bag! Two sizes! Come on down!

Sorry for the hand sketches. Let me know if the writing makes sense. Yes? Argh, you’re right… I have no idea what I meant by that, obviously needed more chocolate. Yep, that sure is a better way of putting it. Thank you. That step should go first? Got it. Is the velcro in the right place? You think the flap’s fine? How are we doing? Ready to turn the bag? Yay! You made it! Pix for the blog!! THANK YOU!!

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Still not sure about that taller bag. Flap still looks funny.

Rinse and repeat with second group of Tester Peeps. Wow, these gals totally saved my patootie. AGAIN. Whew.

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Flap still looks funny. Harrumph. Back to the drawing board. Rules of design proportion? Rule of thirds? The Golden Rule? Shorten the flap? Yep, that helped. Still looks funny. The bag’s too tall. But it has to be 10” for the (#@*$) iPad. Too tall! Can’t shorten it. Waitaminute! I can make it wider!

Try 10” x 10”. Echino airplanes and scooters! Sweet fabric, but why didn’t they make it in ORANGE. Because not everyone luuurvvvess ORANGE, Sam. (Fools!) More for me! (Wicked laughter!) Cut, sew, flip, and BINGO – doesn’t look funny anymore. Love that square! Love that balance! Oh, you’d like one, but in linen. Sure. I need to test it again.

10 in square

It’s Karen’s birthday and I could make her one of these. Except for the small one is too big for her – she likes them wee (she’s a Scot!) Make it smaller. SMALLER? Are you NUTS? Hmmm… 6” x 6” could work. If I move that and squeeze this and keep it SQUARE, and how the hell am I supposed to get my hand through there and yes, it’s so cute! Perfect. THREE sizes for the pattern now. Oh, you’d like one? Sure. I’m still testing it. No, it has to stay SQUARE. Trust me.

6 inch

A pattern? Of course it’s a pattern. It will be out soon… I just need to run one more test!

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References:

  • What does it have in its pocketses? – Gollum, in The Hobbit
  • Bad Robot – J.J. Abrams’ production company (and on the end of every episode of Lost)
  • Yeah, baby! Groovy, baby! (But with better teeth!) – Austin Powers
  • By George I Think She’s Got It! – My Fair Lady
  • Love it. I know – (“I love you.” “I know.”) Princess Leia and Han Solo, in The Empire Strikes Back
  • Fools! – Mr. T from the A-Team

Chunky Wee Bag - COVER - 72dpiRGB

The Quality of Patterns – A Discussion

A friend forwarded a post from Marianne of The Quilting Edge this weekend, in which she invites discussion on the topic of poorly written patterns. Give it a look, and check out the lively discourse in the comments!

As a pattern designer, I’d like to address a few of the points from this side of the aisle!

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First up: this is part of my internal “mission statement” when I design a pattern. I can’t speak for every other designer, but I do know that my closest designer pals are like me, all striving to do a conscientious job:

  • Mind the fabric. The fabric “generosity” in the materials list is a tricky tightrope to walk. I round up to the nearest 1/4 yard, or add an 1/8 yard if I’m on the 1/4 line. This only changes if the fabric is being used for cuts larger than an 1/8 (say an 8” cut) in which case I give you one extra large cut in case of an oops. C&T’s rule for my upcoming book was add 1/4 yard to my calculations. I do work hard at writing patterns that use up most of their parts… in several of my jelly-strip based ones you can use the strip scraps to make a binding (I happen to love the puzzle of using it all up!)
  • Be honest about my assumptions. At the beginning of every pattern, I tell you what the pattern assumes you already know: how to sew a 1/4” inch, how to rotary cut, how to layer/quilt/bind, etc. In my paper-pieced patterns, I give you links to several tutorials that I think will help you as my assumption on paper-piecing is that you will learn it from a book or video, not the pattern. And it just isn’t cost effective to put all that extra tutorial into the pattern – the paper cost goes up, and most of the time how you do it is not how I do it so it’s wasted.
  • The pattern should be the key to the kingdom on the cover. For me, this means I give you accurate steps to make the exact thing in the picture (exceptions noted above), and maybe a couple of other sizes. If it’s a special technique, then you get ALL the steps. I once bought a pattern that said the equivalent of figure out how big you want to make it, then figure our how many of these blocks fit into that, and have at it. I don’t consider that a pattern.
  • Be honest about the skills required. On the back cover of every pattern, I call out the skills needed. I don’t just say Beginner or Intermediate because I don’t think that’s enough information at all. I list the skills you will actually employ. As I write mostly for the Confident Beginner Peeps, I call out specifically if you need an accurate 1/4” seam, or just a mostly consistent one. If there are templates or paper-piecing involved, I say so. If you will be dealing with bias edges, I say so. I want you to know what you’re getting into, and I especially don’t want you unsuspectingly biting off more than you want to chew.
  • Draw as much as possible. Every one learns differently – some people need all the words, some people need the drawings. I attempt to add computer drawn illustration to as many of the steps as I can. It bulks up the paper, but I think my readers are worth it.
  • Make it MAKE-ABLE. I dream up a lot of things that, in the end, would be horrid to have to make or worse, explain. So I don’t turn those into patterns. Frankly, if my reader could make such a convoluted thing, she is probably figuring it out her own way, and isn’t buying a pattern to do it! Instead, I figure out how to break things down so you don’t sweat through them. I learned a little of this from a composer friend, whose superpower is writing music for each instrument that the musician could play easily (not writing it at the edges of the instrument’s range or sitting on its octave breaks). I fundamentally believe that quilting should be fun, so I try hard to write things that are fun, too.
  • Get it tested. I have a bunch of people on board to check my work. One friend is the master of sorting out my grammar. Another sorts out the flow of steps (“no, Sam, put this before that.”). Another catches the instances where the parts on her design wall don’t look a thing like my drawings. One hates to read the words, so she sees if the pattern can be navigated by the pictures. Another does the opposite, making sure my words actually describe what’s going on. Others spend their precious time and fabric stash actually making the pattern. It really does take a village – and most of them do it FOR FREE.
  • ‘Fess up when you blow it. While all of the above should catch everything, sometimes it doesn’t. When that happens, I fix the pattern, update the print masters and PDF files, and publish the oops on the Patterns/Errata page. And I’m eternally grateful to the person that told me about the problem.
  • Be open to feedback. Critique is necessary to making a better product, even if it stings. I do my best to listen openly to suggestions for improvement, with the understanding that I just won’t be able to please everyone.

And now, my answers to some of the comments on the Quilting Edge:

The shop that sold the pattern is responsible for the quality of the pattern. NO – the buck stops with the author. AND such gatekeeping just isn’t possible for most shop owners. Like you, they buy a pattern based on the appeal of the cover, and sometimes have it made into a sample if they think they can sell fabric or a class for it, but they cannot read the fine print of everything they carry. I would imagine if you let them know a pattern is a mess, they probably won’t buy more of them (or others from the same designer). It’s certainly how we did it in the last store I worked in. But like Target can’t be responsible for the content every crappy DVD it sells, neither can your LQS read and test every single thing. If you want to buy a pattern in a store, you can always ask to open it and give it a once over before paying (every store I’ve been in has been cool with this). I don’t think the LQS should foot a return because they have no way of ensuring the buyer didn’t pirate a copy before returning it – I know this screws over a scrupulous buyer, but unfortunately, there are more folks who wouldn’t think twice about copying and returning a pattern, thinking copyright law is merely a suggestion.

The pattern designer is trying to make a quick buck. If only! There are precious few quick bucks in the pattern business. If the designer does half the steps I listed above, they still worked on that pattern for DAYS. And bought a bunch of fabric too. Let me break this down for you… on a $10 pattern in your local quilt store – $5 goes to the store, $5 to me if I sold it directly to the store. My expenses to make the pattern (paper, printing, bags, assembly) come out of my cut. If one of my distributors sold it to the store, the store still gets $5, the distributor gets $1.50, and I get $3.50. And I still need to cover my expenses in that $3.50. So I get maybe $2.50 of that $10. Yes, I get most of the $$ on a download (minus hosting fees and banking charges) but still. Trust me when I say the buck is not quick.

The free patterns aren’t written well. Part of this is you get what you pay for – truly. Part of it is that a lot of the free patterns are paired with lines of fabric, and they often get written at the 11th hour before the fabric debuts at Quilt Market (and the designers get offered little or no payment). I have been approached by more than one fabric company to produce a fully tested pattern with a 2 week deadline before market for no payment (“we’ll show people your pattern!”) other than an offer of the fabric to make the quilt (not the batting). I certainly don’t do my best work in those circumstances, so I imagine other designers don’t either. It would also help if people stop expecting to always get it for free. If you expect a free download, then you should also expect that the designer or fabric company probably didn’t PAY a team of editors and testers to make sure it’s right. Yes – everyone should make the best product possible regardless (I certainly strive to – my reputation matters to me) – but as I said you often get what you pay for when FREE is involved.

The patterns aren’t well written – part 2. One comment was from a person who released a pattern that she said she had tested, but she also admitted that she doesn’t read other people’s patterns. I would hope that people who take pattern designing seriously take the time to learn their craft and research their competition. That said, you’re still likely to come across something that looks as cute as heck, but is perhaps written by someone who doesn’t have a depth of experience to construct things more easily, or even use commonly understood vocabulary (FWIF, I voraciously read other patterns to see how they are written and illustrated so that I can constantly improve my game – I do it to invest in my business). I wish some of our newest pattern designers would take some time to hone their craft, and learn from their fore-mothers (I’m a HUGE proponent of learning the rules before you go about breaking them). But I also accept that there’s nothing new about the new kids on the block wanting to blaze the trails a new way, and sometimes we get new and exciting techniques from it – yay for innovation! The other side of the coin is that we sometimes get caught when that new fangled stuff doesn’t work out so well. With the ease and speed of pushing content out to the internet, we are going to get a lot of amateur work out there, jumbled in with the good (just look at YouTube). I think you just have to accept that you will occasionally get rick-rolled.

The patterns aren’t written well – part 3. Just like in other industries, there is good and bad, and unfortunately, it’s up to us to determine which is which. One comment said we need a pattern review site – and yes, that would be wonderful. But would you pay to belong to it? Someone has to foot the bill to provide that service to you, and they should be able to profit from their labor, no? Also… would you take the time to write when things are good? I have sold a bunch of patterns in places that allow a review, and no one has written to say if they’re good. I’ve had more emails about my errors than I have had thanking me for making a pattern that was easy to follow. So unless you are willing to review the good, the data will be radically skewed. Another comment said that they felt no responsibility to write to a pattern author – but may I stick my neck out and say I’d rather hear WHY you think my pattern is lacking (in technical terms) than just sit here an wonder why the sales are slack?

In conclusion, the pattern making business is just like any other area of commerce. While, like you, I would love to never buy a bad pattern again, the reality is that there will always be good, and there will always be bad. It doesn’t excuse bad writing in any way, and it is the unfortunate burden of we buyers to sort through that. Hopefully the laws of business will take effect such that the cream rises and the people who write poorly cease to thrive and quit doing it. But I would also offer this… yes, it’s a bummer to pay good money for a pattern that doesn’t live up to your expectations. But I know you’ve also paid for disappointing movies or meals. It happens occasionally. NO ONE CAN PLEASE EVERYONE ALL THE TIME. If it happens to you, please take the time to write the designer to let them know what disappointed you, so that they can improve. The good ones will take this critique and up their game. As for the designers that choose to ignore it, you need not shop them again. And if you DO like it, please, please, please drop us a quick note. It might be the note that stops us from throwing in the towel on the design business. It might just inspire us to make more good things for YOU!

And yes… please comment away – I love a good discussion!

 

 

A new Sassy Button – Heroes!

I’ve recently had a lot of requests for deals on buttons to give out at volunteer sew-a-thons for the various Quilts of Valor and Quilts of Honor type organizations – the people that make sure that active service-people, veterans, and their families are blankets with good quilt love. This world is a better place for such volunteer quilting!

While I appreciate being asked to contribute to these organizations (and am thrilled that they like the Sassy Buttons!) I’ve hit a point where I can’t cover the freebies any more – this girl has to make a living! So rather than greet these requests with a big fat no-thank-you, I decided to design a button just for the volunteers.

heroes

I’ve made arrangements with my wonderful USA-based button folks to be able to drop ship these to you at the best bargain they and I can manage: You order them from me here in increments of 50, and I arrange for them to come to you for the best price we can pull out of the hat, with shipping included.

Please pass along to anyone you know who sews for the heroes – cheers!

 

 

Stunt sewists needed!

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Hi peeps!

Got a spare hour to sew a block or two for me? I’m working on a new pattern of paper pieced blocks, and I need a hand getting them all sewn for various deadlines that are coming up on me too dang fast, as always.

What I will send you: pre-printed paper pieced patterns, instructions, plenty of fabric to make the block, and a postage paid envelope to get it back to me. You get to keep any leftover fabrics. When the pattern publishes, you get a free copy of it. And my heartfelt gratitude!

Interested? I hope so!

Here’s how to apply…. send your answers to the following questions to me via email at sewsamsew ( a t ) gmail (d o t ) com. Just cut and paste this into the email and answer away.

Your name:

Your email addy:

Your mailing addy:

Your phone number (just in case we need to gab):

How many quilts have you made?:

Your blog (if you have one):

If you don’t, please attach an image or two of your work:

How do you assess your quilting skills? What do you do well, what do you hate doing, etc?:

What’s your comfort level with paper piecing? (note that this particular project is paper-pieced, but if you want me to keep you listed for others that aren’t, let me know):

How are you with deadlines?

Anything else about you that you’d like me to know?

THANK YOU! 

Dalek Quilt Tutorial – Who’s the Bad Guy?

Bad Guy

So who’s your favorite Doctor? I have to admit that I have a soft spot for Tom Baker’s incarnation… he was the jelly-baby eating Doctor Who of my childhood in England. He was a big enough deal that I actually knitted a Tom Baker scarf for my son’s dad when we were courting!

Tom Baker

When the series got its reboot, I was tickled to see that the Daleks were still part of the story, despite their limitations as villains (stairs anyone?) The frantic, metallic “Exterminate!” was probably one of the first geek quotes I learned, soon to be followed with a whole host of inappropriate Monty Python!

Anyway… I started playing around with the idea that there could be a Dalek quilt. After I ran several drawings by my closest geeky pals (thank you Steve and Alyssa!) this is what came out: Who’s the Bad Guy?

The quilt is 50” x 80” and is perfectly sized for snuggling. And what follows here is a step by step tutorial with photos and extra tips from start to finish. As with my other pattern based tutorials, you’ll still need to buy the pattern to get the cutting info. But I trust you’re cool with that because I trust that you support artists getting paid for their talent. Go here for your buying options, or support your local quilt store by asking them to get it in for you (it’s carried by several distributors).

So let’s get started! Give the pattern and this tutorial a quick once over before you start so that you have an idea of what’s coming. Pay good attention to the drawing at the bottom of page 1 as it names all the parts/steps. Make sure you are well stocked in your favorite snacks, beverages and videos too.

First of all – make sure you have version 2 of the pattern. Look on the back cover at the bottom left for the version number. If you have v1, then I have a couple of changes for you – they are small, and don’t need more fabric than you already bought. The changes are listed here on the Errata page. BTW… it’s always a good idea to check a pattern designer’s Errata page before you start any new pattern, just in case. We can fix the things we have in-house or in our downloads, but once a pattern has left the studio for a store, the only way we have to get in touch with you is through that page!

The pattern calls out Radiance, the silk/cotton blend by Robert Kaufman for all the Dalek’s shiny metal parts. Radiance works best when paired with a lightweight stabilizer –  I used Pellon Fusible Sheerweight 906F all the way through. If all that isn’t your cup of tea, then substitute cotton and skip the stabilizer.

If you’re buying Kona cottons instead of shiny stuff, I recommend 1069 Champagne for the Gold, 159 Spice for the Copper, 139 Lagoon for the Peacock, and 1005 Aqua for the lightest blue.

NOTE: if your fabric is wider than 42”, you might need less strips in a few places, so feel free to cut out the pieces as you go to save fabric.

Just for reference, I made this top (no quilting) in three sessions totaling about 15 hours, which is why you can see different weather and light day out of the window behind my cutting table! During that time I was also photographing and writing out the tutorial steps, and watching a little too much Netflix here and there, so your mileage may vary. I had all my materials on hand before I started. Including chocolate :-)

SKIRT

Cut all of the parts listed under SKIRT in step 1.

If you are using Radiance or something equally silky and shiny, you’ll need the stabilizer. At this step, I cut enough fabric and stabilizer for two pieces together. The skirt is made in three pairs, so this works out well. Cut both the fabric and the stabilizer an inch bigger than you need so that you get a cleanly cut piece at the end.

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NOTE: Most stabilizers are 20” wide, so save those extra bits from the side – you can use them for smaller pieces later in the pattern. Save the leftovers of the fabric for the same reason too.

Make sure to put the sticky side of the stabilizer to the back of the Radiance. When ironing, follow the instructions that came with the stabilizer, and avoid touching your iron to anything sticky!

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Once you have the Skirt Body sections cut, it’s time to cut the diagonals on the bottom. I recommend cutting these one at a time, and putting them onto a design surface as you go so that you cut the wedges in the right direction – half go to the left and the other half to the right.

I align the piece up on the mat, and cut using the mat grid to find the dimension on the side of the wedge.

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Now to make the accents for the bottom of the skirt. Use black Skirt Trim fabric for this step. Cut the wedges in the same way you cut the skirt.

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And finally, cut the background pieces, and wedge them like the copper Skirt pieces. Put them all in the right order on your design surface, and then sew them together.

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When sewing together anything with diagonals, don’t forget to align the seams so that you have dog-ears at either end of your 1/4” so that your sides come out straight. 

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Press well, away from the skirt so that you don’t fight the stabilizer.

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Don’t sew these together yet! We’re going to get the Dots onto each piece first, and stitch them down before it becomes unwieldy.

DOTS (or Hemispheres!)

Using the templates, draw the Rings onto fusible web (I still have a bolt of Steam-a-Seam 2 in the studio so that’s what I used). If you want to do hand appliqué and pass on the fusing, you’re on your sweet own with that! Just remember to add seam allowance to all the pieces for any kind of turned appliqué.

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I have tried to cut the circles and rings using quarter-circle type rulers with the fabric folded in 4, and they just don’t cut well for this (mind you, I’ve had great success with the rulers in other applications) – there are 4 layers of fabric PLUS 4 layers of fusible to get through, and I found that I got some jagged edges that made me grumpy. So I highly recommend doing them single layer. You can also then save some materials by nesting the 4” rings inside the 6” rings.

If drafting out the circles from the templates seems tedious, I recommend drawing the circles with an old-school compass (I’ve had that set in the picture since I was a teenager – yikes!) One of my tester-peeps also tried the cutter that is both rotary blade and compass together, and said she had some decent success with it, but that you have to press down firmly.

While you’re drafting the Rings for the Dots, go ahead and draft the circles too.

Fuse the Rings onto the back of the Black fabric, and fuse the Dots onto the back of the Gold Radiance. Watch that you don’t get a sticky iron! (I forgot to take a picture here, but just imagine a huge swath of fused fabric with circles drawn all over the paper!)

Make a pot of your fave tea, load up some guilty pleasure watching on your TV and cut out all the fused Rings and Dots. Chocolate might help too. Save your larger fused scraps as they might be helpful for the Whisk, Plunger and Eye Stalk later.

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Using a non-stick pressing sheet, peel the Dots and center them over the Rings – yes there should be some overlap. Fuse this pair together. If you don’t have a pressing sheet, do the following step with just the Rings, and then add the Dots second.

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Place pins down the side of the Skirt sections to mark the centers for the Rings or Dots+Rings. Center the Rings at the marks, and make sure they are centered down the Skirt strip too. When you’re happy, fuse them in place. Add the Dots if you haven’t already done so – center them on the rings and fuse them down. (Egad! I forgot to take a picture of this too! Was so excited to get fusing! Just use the drawing in the pattern.)

Take each strip, and do a small, close zigzag stitch around the outer edge of the Ring, and the outer edge of the Dot. Match the threads to keep them from showing too much – I used a gold rayon from Robison Anton and black cotton 50wt from Aurifil (I do all my piecing in Aurifil too).

I chose not to do a dense satin stitch here because I didn’t want that to show as part of the design. Besides, if you don’t have really tight skills when navigating a curve with satin stitch it can easily look like a hot mess, so another reason to relax a bit with a less visible stitch. Remember – quilting is supposed to be fun!

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FYI – you could skip this step, and stitch these down as part of the quilting. However, if you plan to sew around the circles with a zigzag while quilting, it means you’ll have to turn the entire quilt 360 degrees for each of the 24 circles, TWICE. So keep that in mind when you make your choice about when to sew these down!

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NOW you can sew the Skirt strips together! Finally!

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Next: Make the Belt. Look through your stabilizer scraps to find some pieces that will do for this, and fuse them to a strip of Gold Radiance (remember to start with a piece that’s a touch bigger so that you get a clean fuse and cut). Cut the black fabric for the belt and put it together.

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Again, press away from the stabilized fabric. Sew this Belt to the top of the Skirt.

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SHOULDERS

Stabilize and cut the Copper shoulder section.

Cut the corner wedges off, using your mat for reference, just like cutting the angles on the skirt.

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Cut the Background corner wedges according to the drawing in the pattern. Pay attention to moving in a 1/4” from each corner – this sets you up to have dog ears when you align them to the shoulders. Sew them on, and press away from the shoulders. DON’T sew it to the skirt just yet!

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Back to the fusible… make the black and gold circles for the Whisk and Plunger. Check your scraps to see if you have anything that will work before cutting out new fabric and fusible. Draft them and cut them out (probably no need for a movie this time, but sure, let’s have chocolate!)

Place pins to mark the centers for both the Whisk and Plunger circles. Center the circles vertically too, and fuse them down. 

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You know what’s coming next, yes? Zigzag those circles down. Or leave them to do with the quilting.

Sew the Shoulder to the top of the Belt + Skirt section.

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SHOULDER + SKIRT SIDE BACKGROUND

Cut the three background pieces. Join them end to end on the shortest dimension… you can either do this with a straight seam as the pattern instructs, or you can do it with a diagonal one which I will show here. Either works fine, but the diagonal is often less visible once the piece is in place.

Layer two strips, right sides together, at right angles to each other. Draw a line at 45 degree across the corner. Stitch on the line and trim away the excess triangles leaving a 1/4” seam. You can trim then stitch or stitch then trim. If you tend to stretch bias seams, stitch first and trim second! Add the third strip to this the same way. (That is actually blue pen in the picture, not blue thread!)

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Press these seams open so they lay flatter, which also helps with lowering their visibility.

Cut the long strip into the 2 side strips and sew them to the sides of the Shoulder + Skirt section. You have now completed the bottom two thirds of the quilt top! YAY!

WORD BAND

Trace the letters onto fusible web. Don’t forget that you need three Es and two Ts. Yes, they are supposed to be backwards so that they come out the right way.

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Fuse the web to the Peacock Blue Radiance. Cut them out – you might need some sharp pointy scissors to get into the center of the R and A. Probably a TV episode’s worth of watching, and definitely more chocolate. And maybe something stronger than tea.

Cut the black background for the letters. Peel and arrange the letters onto the background, making sure to leave at least 1/2” all around (you need a 1/4” for the seam allowance and the rest for breathing space). They fit quite snugly so move them close while you are laying them out.

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Double check that seam allowance one more time and fuse them down.

Yep – zigzag them too (or skip until you quilt).

NECK RING

Cut out the Neck Ring parts. Check your scraps before cutting new fabric.

Following the drawings on Page 5, snowball the background corners onto the black Neck Ring sections. Snowballs are an easy way to make triangles without having to cut things with persnickety measurements.

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Once the corners are on, sew together the right and left sides for the Neck Ring. Press away from the stabilized sections. Then sew the Gold center between these sections. In this case, press towards the center. (Oops… forgot this picture too. So I snipped it out of another one!)

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Sew the Neck Rings to the Word Band (like the pattern says), or wait and sew them together at the final step (which is what I did this time).

DOME

Last section!

Cut out the Dome parts listed in the pattern – don’t forget to check your scraps first. On this step I really recommend labeling the parts you cut out.

The Dome is made in two halves that are mirror image to each other, so keep that in mind as you build your way through this section.

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If you have pre-read the instructions, you’re probably already reaching for the chocolate, but fret not! I designed it this way because I wanted it to be all straight line sewing. No curves to set in or oddly angled y-seams, because frankly, I’m not keen on them either! So just breathe and take it a step at a time and it will come together beautifully.

First, assemble the Dome Lights – these are symmetrical so no need to keep them separate.

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Next, add the sides to the Dome Lights – and these are asymmetrical so make sure to follow the drawings. The longer side of piece G goes next to the light. They should be mirror image to each other when you’re done.

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Trim the copper Dome halves – again, pay attention to the asymmetry! I find the best way to do this is to use two rulers, and measure each of the two dimensions on one ruler. You can do it from the mat, but then you might need to mark lines across the Radiance, and I’m not sure how easy it will be to get them off.

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Add J and K to each Dome half, making sure to align the pieces for the overhang shown in the pattern.

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Following the drawings at the bottom of page 7, mark or place pins at the junctions of J and K and the Dome.

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Right sides together, pin the Light section to the Dome (the biggest side piece goes towards the center), centering it between the marks.

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Stitch across this but DON’T trim out the seam allowance until after the next step. Press.

Mark each Dome section with the measurements at the top of page 8. Make sure that the Light is well within the frame – if it’s not, unpick and reposition the last seam. Once you’ve checked that, trim the sections back. And then trim off the excess seam allowance.

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Sew the two Dome sections together.

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We have one more little fuse-a-palooza to do, so you can assemble the top section of the quilt now, or after the next step.

Back on page 6 are instructions for cutting out the fused circles and rings that will become the Eye Stalk. If you haven’t already done those, now’s the time!

Center the Eye Stalk rings in the middle of the dome, over the center seam and fuse down. Zigzag the edges (or not).

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Finish assembling the top section, and then sew it to the bottom.

Annnndddd… the TOP IS DONE!

QUILTING

Obviously, how you quilt it is up to you, but if you want some suggestions, here goes! I’ve taken a few pix of the quilting I did and I’ll explain my choices. First of all, I’m a relatively simple quilter – I don’t do much of the intense and dense quilting we are currently seeing a lot of. I use Warm and Natural batting – I like how it feels when it’s washed, and it can be quilted up to 9” apart. I don’t choose to quilt that far apart, but it’s good to know that if I need to leave some space for design reasons, the batting isn’t going to fall apart on me.

I do a lot of straight line quilting, and often echo the lines that are already there. I chose most of the line work on the Dome, Lights and Shoulders so that it would work with the idea that the Dalek is rounded.

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I did free motion outlining around the Dots (in the black ring), Whisk, Plunger, Eye Stalk and the letters. I thought about doing a spiral inside the Dots, but my free motion control isn’t as perfect as it would need to be to pull that off! Not to mention that if I needed to unpick something, the holes would still show because of the fusing. This is one of those places where the batting will save the day.

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On the Skirt, I echoed the vertical seam lines on either side with straight lines to keep the linear feel.

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The background is quilted in lines that radiate from a point in the center. I did this by pinning the layered quilt to my design wall, and marking it out with a yardstick ruler pivoting around the center point.

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And to finish, I did a simple black binding on the bias, machined to the front and hand finished on the back, which is my favorite way to finish a quilt.

Don’t forget to label yours!

If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments so that everyone can read the answers!

If you make one, please tag me @huntersds in Instagram, and use the #whosthebadguy hashtag.

Cheers!

New Patterns!

I have a few new patterns to share – you might have already seen them in your local quilt store as the distributors already have them!

First up – Who’s the Bad Guy? Yes, a Doctor Who themed quilt! I had a blast working this one out, and had help from some dear WHO fans. I have a treat for you… next week I have a full photo tutorial coming to lead you through making one.

Whos the Bad Guy - Cover 72dpi RGB

Next: Charmed Logs. This is a great pattern for jelly strips and charm squares. Remember those lovely monchromatic Bali Pops that were out last year? That’s what I used for the cover. I’m thinking about tackling it with some cheery modern fabric next.

Charmed Logs - Cover 72dpi RGB

Are you a dog lover? Would you make your dog a blankie? Here’s a pattern for that! The lovely Isabel modeled for the cover of this one. There is also a free downloadable bonus for a cheeky worded border included.

Woof - Cover 72dpi RGB

Last up: Fast Fourteen. It takes fourteen fat quarters and goes together FAST. The pattern has instructions to make easy blocks that look like tricky improv piecing. But there’s nothing hard about it at all – all easy straight seams.

Fast 14 - Cover 72dpi RGB

I made the cover quilt for Hoffman Fabrics last year from their latest batik lines, but I just popped together a modern one this weekend with some lovely ORANGE fabrics – check it out!

Fast 14 Orange

Everything is available in my shops here!

If you make one of my quilts and post it to Instagram, be sure to tag me at @huntersds, or pop it onto the Hunter’s Design Studio Facebook wall – I would LOVE to see what you make!

A new Art Geek App!

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Early in my college art education, an art history professor assigned us a museum trip. We were charged with visiting one of three specific paintings, and to spend 15 minutes with the work while writing down everything we could about it: composition, color, subject matter, and anything else that popped into our heads. She said that the 15 minute part was imperative, and to time ourselves.

Thus, I dutifully sat for 15 minutes in front of a painting at the Getty. It took less than a minute to note all the big stuff, but by the end of the session I had actually noticed the subtle shading of the sky, the patterning of leaves, the delicate blush on cheek – all things I never notice on a quick pass. It was such a richer experience. For so many of us, a trip to see art is a high speed smorgasbord, where we see the broad strokes and big ideas, but we miss the details because we’re speeding to the next one. So I have a new rule (since that assignment) when I’m in a museum… I might take a fast pass around a room, but I will choose one work and spend TIME with it.

So with that in mind, you’ll understand why I want to share a new iPad app with you… it’s called Art Scrambles, and it’s an app that brings you beautiful works of fine art as puzzles.

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Above is Jan Van Eyck‘s Arnolfini Portrait as a puzzle. You get to choose the shape and size of the pieces you want to play with (I use bigger shapes when I want to relax, and the smallest when I want to be challenged). The app is infused with subtle orchestral sounds, a sweetly clean interface, and best of all, ART. There are well known works that you would expect to find, like the Mona Lisa, but there are also a lot of works that you might not have seen, and discovering them through the use of the puzzle format is such a delight.

For instance, on Arnolfini and his wife (above), it took playing the puzzle for me to notice the fruit on the window sill (below). And I have actually seen this painting in person! (psst… it’s 24” x 36” – so much smaller than you’d expect!)

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I have studied Pieter Breugel the Elder in passing as all art history students do, but to work one of his paintings as a puzzle is to really understand just how much he was interested in hierarchy.

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There are also artists represented in the app that I wasn’t aware of. One is Utagawa Hiroshige, and all of his works seem to be perfectly tuned for puzzle solving. I think I would have missed the subtle transitions of color if I hadn’t been searching for the right place to play the pieces! Look at the way the background fades from red to cream to green in Plums, below.

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Anyway – if you have an iPad, go grab this app – it’s free and blissfully free of ads. It has add-on packs of more puzzles too – some a sampler of works from an era like the Renaissance, others just one artist. There are three packs just for Vermeer! Heaven!

 

DIY Plaid Scarf

I recently finished this project for the lovely folks at Janome and they published it today!

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It’s an easy-to-make plaid scarf. One side is a commercial plaid flannel, the other side is made using any of the pretty stitches your machine can do. You can put one together in a few hours. Janome made the suggestion on their site that you could even make a green one for St. Patrick’s Day!

(And being English born, this girl’s St. Pat’s accessories will be ORANGE!)

Get the instructions here. And stay warm!