My New Slow Project – Union Jacks

I know it probably seems weird that someone who sews for work also sews to relax. I’m lucky to have several social sewing opportunities each month, and I try hard not to take my work to them. Sewing with friends helps me re-connect to the joy of sewing, and to the heart-warming community aspect that has always surrounded quilting. I always come away refreshed and recharged.

Small projects work well for me when I need to go portable, and while I’ve had a recent run of making Sew Together Bags (and, egad, I might not be done with them, I still have a couple of people left to spoil), I needed something else to play with. The solution? Another Slow Project.

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Check out the tiny Big Bens in the print in the top block!

I decided to make Union Jack blocks for this one (in homage to my English heritage), and chose the tutorial from Molli Sparkles for the construction method. Molli’s pattern has the right ratio in the proportions of the flag, and the thick/thin aspects of the white stripes are correctly rendered. (Read here for more information about the flag’s design.) It’s also a pattern that doesn’t leave you with all bias around the edges – a problem that isn’t hard to solve, but great to avoid if other solutions are available!

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Like my last slow project, I think I’ll make this one for my bed, which means it could take a couple of years (which is great, because then I don’t have to think about what to take to sew day for a while!) The block is 7 1/2” x 15”, so I’m probably looking at about 100 blocks to make another big bed quilt. I also have a friend who made it very clear to me that if I junk up her living room with a Union Jack quilt, she’ll love me forever! Who can resist such an offer?! So perhaps I’ll aim for 150 blocks to start.

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I’ve made a working rule for the fabric choices: a print goes in the “blue” space, and a solid goes in the “red” space, with the “white” space remaining white. It’s been fun to comb through my stash for prints, and I’ve also had some donated to the cause by friends.

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I imagine that it will need some calm sashing when I set it, but I’ll worry about that when I get there.

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I’ve made 15 so far, and I’m really having fun with them. Looking forward to the next social sewing day!

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The Joy of a Slow Project

I’m capable of working quite quickly, fast enough that my friends invented a hashtag for it, #sewingatthespeedofsam. Yes, I get through a lot of projects – remember, I design and sew for a living! – but over the years, I’ve had several slow projects, lasting more than a year, and I find great delight in them. There’s something about NOT being on a deadline that is so relaxing.

My most recent “slow” finish was a huge bed quilt, just for me. I started collecting the fabric a couple of years ago, and then spent a retreat weekend cutting up the strips I needed. It took me the better part of a year to put it together, just sewing a bit at a time over retreats and social sewing days to finish the quilt top.

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The quilt is comprised of 36 big log cabin blocks. I had a loose rule for them, making rounds of 2 different sizes of strips for a little randomness, but a rule that made sure they would all hit the same size at the end. Most of the centers have to do with writing, and if not writing, they are personal to me in some way, representing my hobbies, heritage, passions, and travels. The quilt is a celebration of birthing my book, Quilt Talk, and I thought that getting that book finished and launched was something to commemorate with a significant project, not to mention something I will continue to be proud of for years to come.

The blocks are 17” across, and the postage stamp sashing is 1” wide (and yes, there’s a lot of sashing, about 45 yards of it!) so it came in at 110” square – big enough to hit three sides of floor and hide all the things stashed under my raised bed.

I sent the quilt to Nancy Stovall of Just Quilting here in Portland, and she searched for the right text driven design to quilt over it. Nancy is a wonder… not only does she bring her considerable talent to her work, but she spends time getting to know you as an artist before she begins her design process. She knew what I liked before I even talked about it with her (not too dense, and no feathers!). And the design was beyond perfect, full of letters and numbers in different fonts – so right for the quilt, and so very ME at heart:

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I finished the quilt right at the end of 2014, and have been sleeping under it since. It sleeps and drapes beautifully, and I utterly adore it.

Later this week I’ll show you blocks for my next slow project… do you have one on the go?

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Free Pattern – Washable Veggie Bags

I have another freebie for you over at Janome’s site! This time, a fast way to make cloth bags to take to the farmers market or grocery store.

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One yard of fabric quickly turns into SIX bags of different sizes. And you just know you have a yard of something in your stash that you might no longer need to keep :-)

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I’ve been carrying bags like this, along with my re-usable shopping bags, for a couple of years. I always get compliments about how cute they are, and how cool it is to use one less plastic bag. And if they get wet or dirty, you can pop them into the laundry with your towels.

The link to the project is here – enjoy!

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Free Motion Inspiration from Christina Cameli

Yesterday I wrote about playing with Sara Lawson’s new fabric, Fantasia, and promised you a look at the quilting I did. It’s based on designs from Christina Cameli’s latest book, Step-by-Step Free-Motion Quilting.

I should preface this with the fact that I don’t consider myself sophisticated at machine quilting at all. It’s my least favorite part of the process, and while I still quilt most of my own quilts*, I’m very practical in my designs. I tend to echo straight lines around things, or run lines and grids across the surface, and I can do a mean stipple to fill space when I need to.

Sara’s fabrics have a sweet, cheery feel about them, and I felt that banging a bunch of straight lines across the quilt would be a disservice to the nature theme of her designs. So I turned to Christina’s book for some inspiration.

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It would be easy to look at this book and think that all the designs are intended for a long-arm audience, but that’s far from the case – they are designed to be handled on a domestic machine (this is one of Christina’s superpowers). The designs have an organic, hand-drawn feel about them that I find to be a lovely respite from some the intense, dense, and almost mechanical quilting that has been recently popular. I don’t buy many quilting books, but I’m so glad to have this one in my library – it’s that good. And no, I wasn’t asked to review it!

The book has several edge-to-edge designs that have elements that interlock with each other… the element of one line takes up the space left between two elements of the line next to it:

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I took this concept, and looked for something in Sara’s fabric that might lend itself to such a pattern, ending up with this petaled design:

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Which I interpreted like this in quilting:

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And interlocked like this across the quilt (this is the back, for a better look):

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It was really easy to do down the length of the quilt, and flowed well on the bed of the machine. The rhythm of the design wasn’t hard to find, and the quilting got done quite quickly. I will definitely be using these types of designs again!

The book is lovely, Christina – Brava!!

* When I don’t do my own quilting, I happily hire Nancy Stovall of Just Quilting, and Jolene Knight of Good Knight Quilts here in Portland, OR.

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Sara Lawson’s Fantasia

My friend Sara Lawson of Sew Sweetness put a call out a couple of weeks ago for people to sew with her new fabric line, Fantasia, by Art Gallery Fabrics, so I raised my hand to help out.

I worked with some Art Gallery fabrics while writing Quilt Talk, and they’re not kidding when they say “feel the difference.” The hand of the fabric is smooth and silky, and it makes minimal shreds while you work with it. Lovely stuff!

Fantasia is a light-hearted and whimsical line, with a healthy dose of PINK running through it, so as you can imagine, this was out of my comfort zone! The prints are well integrated both thematically and in terms of variety of pattern texture. There are several good blenders, with a couple that could become great “low volume” staples too. There are two colorways: the PINK/GRAY based Ambrosial, and the TEAL/ORANGE based Crepuscular (what a fun word that is – worth looking up!)

The feature/focus prints are based on Unicorns…

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with supporting designs of flowers, mushrooms, and unicorn-shoes!

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Sara sent fat quarters of both colorways, so I decided to mix them in a fast and easy precut pattern that’s been on the design wall… I’ll be releasing it in May with a few others, so no full pix until then! I used Christina Cameli’s latest book for quilting inspiration – more about that tomorrow!

The fabric should be shipping this month, so ask for it at your local quilt store.

Thank you, Sara, for the chance to play with Fantasia!

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Dimensional Indeed!

Pam Lincoln at Mama Spark’s World recently filled my inbox with goodness! Check out the pix of her rendition of my Relatively Dimensional pattern!

IMG_3494She used a custom Gallifreyan Spoonflower fabric for the background, and then sent it to Kathy Koch at Thread Bear Quilting for the long-arm artistry.

IMG_3496 IMG_3497I’m utterly entranced with the interplay of the circles, and more than a little geeked out by the “DW” motif in the door panels. Swoon!

Brava, ladies! And thank you SO much for sharing the pix with me!

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A Slight Obsession with Sew Together Bags

Have you made a Sew Together Bag yet? Did you know there’s a pattern for a MINI version??

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It’s shorter, and has only two interior pockets.

Elizabeth at OPQuilt.com designed the adapted mini, but she did something utterly cool to protect the original pattern. Rather than offer up the cutting instructions, which could thereby cheat Michelle at SewDemented out of some pattern sales, she created a worksheet that doesn’t work unless you have the numbers from the original pattern. What a delightful way to honor and protect the original pattern!

Anyway – I’ve been on a bit of a tear, making them for friends. I’ve made eleven so far. I even made one for a zipper pouch exchange at my guild’s retreat this weekend. And I have the parts cut out for 4 more to sew while I’m there….

Yep. A little bit obsessed :-)

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Happy and Merry!

Tis the season! So of course, for my guild’s holiday celebration, I pulled my favorite Christmas accessory out of the waaaay back of the closet.

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I showed it to a couple of friends before I wore it out of the house. The reactions were mixed… it seems that this gorgeous thing that was THE BOMB when I made it in 1995 is now, quite possibly, the quilter’s version of the ugly sweater.

No matter! I sweated over it, so I’m wearing it! Seriously, it has more hours in it than many of the quilts I’ve made (the smaller the pieces, the longer it takes). Where on earth did I get the idea? From Judy Murrah, author of Jacket Jazz (and now the head of education for Quilts Inc.) I took a class from her in 1995 – fabulous teacher – and well… went a little overboard with concept.

Many of the techniques are in her book. The twisted texture…

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… the 9 degree wedge elements (one half of the strips is the sleeve, the opposing half is the front).

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I designed the presents for the second front. Notice how I integrated the pocket. Damn proud of that, considering what I didn’t (and still don’t) know about garment construction.

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I shrunk the poinsettia from a wall hanging pattern (my apologies to the designer… I no longer have the pattern to credit you!) and APPLIQUED it. Yep, I actually did the A-Word for this (albeit by machine, but still). I only wish I had known about glue basting back then!

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I finished it off with a run of paper-pieced trees. They needed a bit of a switch up, so I swapped a tree from the back with a Santa from the cuff. Santa does get around, you know.

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So there it is. Shoulder pads and all. I like to think that, due to the wonders of time, it has perhaps transcended from tacky kitsch to retro cool, just the way that ugly sweaters have, no? And when you think about some of the holiday excesses (swants, anyone?) then perhaps not quite so over the top!

I wish you Happy and Merry from my studio to yours – I hope you get to spend time with good people and good food, and that every stitch you made on a gift is well appreciated by the lucky person that received it!

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Where is Sam? Quilt Market edition! With a slightly Fractured Fairy Tale, and CAH!

Read on for some quilt updates!!

I’m off to Quilt Market tomorrow! Here’s where to find me: (or follow on IG @huntersds and #quiltmarket)

TODAY: In the kitchen, making shortbread; finishing laundry; last minute errands; cramming it all into suitcases; hopefully not forgetting anything.

Haven't even started on the clothes yet!

Haven’t even started on the clothes yet!

Thursday: O-Dark-Hundred, PDX to IAH, landing early afternoon. With, methinks, the new X-Men movie on the iPad because, well, Hugh Jackman.

Thursday afternoon: Delivering a bunch of the pile above to the booths they belong in! (Aurifil, Brewer, Checker, EE Schenck, Hoffman Fabrics, Janome, Warm Co.)

Friday: Schoolhouse! 3:45pm in Room 362D! Showing some of the quilts from Quilt Talk and teaching retailers how to market the book. And I have great giveaway swag. And Sew Sassy Buttons. And SHORTBREAD. You want to be there!

Saturday: Book signing! 4pm at Booth 2336 with C&T Publishing – I’ll be signing free copies of Quilt Talk! With more Sew Sassy Buttons!

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The rest of the time: I’ll be on a scooter, protecting my goofy heart, with fingers crossed to stay the heck out of the hospital this time. For those of you who worry about me when I travel, please know that the Queens of BadAssery, Maddie and Flaun, are my guardian angels this trip, and are not afraid to kick my patootie and send me to my room if I get over-tired.

BUTTONS! I have new Sassy buttons to share – track me down and ask to dig through the swag bag. Really, just ask – I love to share them. If you are a Quilt Industry Professional, I have a special button for you, because you are now officially Quilt Famous!*

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*The Fractured Fairy Tale behind Quilt Famous goes like this: Once upon a time, the daughters of a certain Quilt Humor Writer came to their mother with questions, as children are wont to do. Being as whip smart and sassy as their mama, the young ladies demanded to know, now that said mama had written a whole book, just EXACTLY how famous she was. It was determined that, by tabloid standards, their mother wasn’t very famous at all. But it was pointed out that, in the small realm of Quiltdom, their mother actually has cred, and oodles of fans who adore her, both qualifying attributes for the achievement of fame. Thus the term Quilt Famous was coined, and all of Quiltdom may live on, happily ever after, secure in their quilt fame, too.

In other news… the qiveaway for Quilt Talk and a bunch of other goodies is still open for comments until Monday, after I return.

AND lastly… I’ll be playing Cards Against Humanity (CAH) with my fellow quilters on Saturday night. I have blank cards that need some diabolical quilt related stuff written on them. Ideas? Leave them in the comments, or email them to me at sewsamsew (AT) gmail (DOT) com if you want to preserve your “butter wouldn’t melt in my mouth” rep. Your secrets are safe with me! I will send Sassy Buttons to the author of a randomly chosen phrase or question offered!!

Catch you later!

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Final QUILT TALK Blog Hop Day 13 – ORANGE – with me!

You made it! Lucky 13 ends here with me, and of course, with the ORANGE bucket!

ORANGE Bucket

Here’s a link to the ORANGE pattern, and here’s a link to the instructions on how to construct all the color buckets (you only need to download this once).

It was pointed out to me that the ORANGE bucket seems to have a bit more work in the fabrics – to which I can only say “guilty as charged!” ORANGE is definitely my favorite color, and I had strips left over from making another project, so it was perfect.

Thank you for hopping along, and I hope you’re inspired to make a project talk with some words! If you didn’t yet purchase your copy of Quilt Talk, you can get a signed copy here. You can also hit up your local quilt shop or indie bookstore – remember, the price difference between the local store and Amazon is only about the cost of a frothy coffee or a half yard of fabric – so please give your local stores some love or they won’t be there when you need them!

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And finally – I have goodies for you! In addition to an autographed book, I have a package of my favorite newsprint paper-piecing paper, a hunk of Timtex and fusible fleece to get you started on a bucket, printouts of all the color words on the newsprint, and some Sassy Buttons. And if there’s room in the envelope, maybe other things!

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In your comments, please talk quilty to me! Tell me which words you’d use on your wordy quilt. Random.org will help me choose a winner on Monday Oct 27, after I get back from Houston Quilt Market (where I plan to take a lot of pix, so follow @huntersds on Instagram, or here on Facebook.

ALSO – when I get back from Quilt Market, look for a photo tutorial on how to make the buckets!

A LAST REMINDER: Hop back to these great people to grab any missing color patterns!

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