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!

**********************

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

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!

zigzag

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!)

Neck Rings

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!

We Are $ew Worth It: Keeping track while you work

ProjectThe first step in being able to assess what you might charge to make a quilt is keeping good track of what went into it, in both time and materials.

Anyone who has had the pleasure of working a job where hours are either billed to a client, or bucketed out on a timecard to different project codes will have already had some experience with daily tracking of time. But for the rest of us, it’s a new tool in the box for being able to calculate good pricing.

I manage it by keeping a Project Tally Sheet with each project I work on. It’s a simple grid of paper that gets started with each project, and filed when the project is finished. Not only does it allow me to keep track of things during the making of a specific quilt, the history in the files allows me to make an educated guess on what kind of time certain tasks take should I need to prepare an estimate for a prospective client. For instance, I know I can make a bias binding and machine sew it onto a quilt in about an hour. And I hand sew binding at about 120 inches per hour.

Project Tally Sheet

I have a couple of extra spaces on the sheet to keep track of the consumable goods that I use during a project as well. Machine needles (usually at least one per project), rotary blades, spray starch or spray baste, spools of thread, stabilizers and fusibles, batting and so on. Yes, all of this matters when you price out a quilt!

Here’s a free PDF of the worksheet I use: HDS Project Tally Worksheet - feel free to use it and modify to suit how you do your work!

This sheet isn’t where the complicated math happens – that’s on the Invoice Templates at the bottom of this page (and psst… the math really isn’t that hard over there either!) This sheet is for capturing the progress of the project as I go along, and I use it because I’m likely to forget that I spent an hour ironing things in front of the TV, or a couple of hours sewing on a binding over at a friend’s house over a cuppa. ALL of the time you devote to a project is countable – and then it’s up to you how you want to charge for it.

When do I fill it out? Always at the end of a work day. As I’ve talked about before in studio process posts, I take a few minutes at the end of a day to shut down the studio, turn off the machine, empty the iron and clean up my workspace. It takes but a minute to scribble in a few notes on the worksheet. The worksheet stays with the project (I use big zippy bags) until it turns into a finished quilt, so it will be there in the morning if I didn’t get a chance to fill it out the night before. I find as long as I write it down within a day or two of doing the work, the information is accurate enough. Any longer than that and I will forget important detail (if not my name!)

Next time you start a project, give it a try. Even if you aren’t selling your quilts, you’ll find out what it really takes to do the work you do. Then if someone surprises you with an offer to buy something you made, you’ll have some good data to use for the pricing.

How the bag got designed… and a giveaway!

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Remember this little guy? It was the bag that launched me into a frenzy of bag making that (finally) resulted in the Chunky Wee Bag pattern.

Chunky Wee Bag - COVER - 72dpiRGB

I mentioned to my pal Jake that I had made the bag some seventeen times during the design process, and being as she’s part of the collective brain behind Generation Q Magazine, she asked me to articulate that into something that could be published in the mag.

So I decided to write it like it sounds in my head when I’m designing. There’s a huge monologue churning most of the time upstairs, and it’s full of weird thoughts when I’m in the creative groove. So I tried to capture that, and added a bunch of pix to the raw materials I sent in. The ever fabulous Megan of Bitchy Stitcher fame did a bang-up job of laying it out for the mag, and it magically appeared in the latest issue!

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Isn’t it amazing how Jake and her team make that happen? Stuff goes in, pretty comes out. See, it’s magic!

At the end of the article, there’s a discount code for ordering patterns off my site, so you might want to pick one of these up. They are sold in the magazine section of your local bookstore, as well as many quilt shops. And there’s way more in there than just lil ole me – all sorts of fun stuff, patterns, interviews, etc.

And last but not least – I have a couple to give away! Please leave a comment below, and tell me something about what goes on in *your* head while you are designing. I’ll choose 2 winners on Sunday.

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Stay creative!

Getting there!

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Nope – those are not dead bodies!

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m writing a book. It will be out this time next year under the Stash Books imprint for C&T Publishing. I’d love to tell you more about it, but as the saying goes, if I told you I’d have to kill you! The content must remain a secret until Amazon lists it for pre-order sometime next summer. At that point, you probably won’t be able to shut me up. Consider yourself warned.

My half of the big work is beginning to wind down… the quilts are designed, constructed, quilted and bound. The patterns are tested. The first draft is in, and my editor will soon guide me through polishing everything up. Another team at C&T will photograph it and make it pretty. While I have done nothing but eat, breathe and sew projects for this for the last 6 months, I look at all the raw materials and think that maybe I’ve had the easier end of the project!

A dozen dear pals chipped in along the way to make more quilts for the gallery section of the book. As I worked my way through photographing them this week, I’m thrilled by the creativity expressed, and utterly humbled by the generosity of their offerings. I can’t wait to show them off, and they are so different from the way I approached the designs that they add another layer of inspiration to the book.

So I offer you the image above… all of the quilts (and some other nifty quilty thingies in those boxes!), rolled up and ready to go. Tomorrow I’m driving them to C&T and while I’m there I get to meet some of the people working behind the scenes to make me look good.

It’s gonna be a great day :-)

Thread, thread, thread!

(sung to the tune of this)

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After my last post about sewing machine needles, I had a few requests for one about threads.

I use a lot of different threads, but I would hardly call myself a font of knowledge, but I just happen to know someone who is: Mary Ellen Sakai, a wonderfully thread capable quilt artist, my co-worker, and (lucky me) a sweet friend. Mary Ellen delivers a fantastic thread lecture when she teaches quilting at the store, and I’ve learned a bunch from her. She has agreed to help me write something juicy for you.

We will be working on it over the weekend – but in the meantime… send us your questions! We will attempt to get them all answered as we write a post for next week.