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)

 

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.

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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!

 

 

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!

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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!)

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!

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!

 

Blog tour + giveaway: The Bitchy Stitcher Wrote a BOOK!

If you’re anything like me, every time you read one of The Bitchy Stitcher/Megan Dougherty’s fab essays, you leave happy to have had your daily dose of “OMG I can’t believe she went there!” while being utterly pissed off about having to wait for the next installment!

Well, we must wait no more! Megan pulled together the best of her ramblings, with guest appearances by her fictional mom and other judgmental biddies from the local guild – you know them… same biddies, different quilted name tags. It’s a full-on feast of Bitchy Stitchery! My fave story? The one about figuring out binding…

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So why am I excited about this? First up, Megan is a dear pal. Really dear pal – as in the kind of pal that sends me a care package filled with ORANGE things! We met through other dear pals (the Gen Q ladies) and somehow managed to fall into pal-dom without having set eyes on each other. When we did, we almost needed to get a room.

IMG_2761She has been a source of constant calm and encouragement through some of the tougher spots I’ve gone through writing my own due-next-year-book… and even made a really rockin’ quilt for it. Which I still can’t show you a picture of yet. Dammit.

Anyhoo… Megan made this book all by herself – soup to nuts, every word, every drawing, the cover, the layout… all of it. She is a self-publishing goddess. And herein lies the true story: such feats take a bunch of courage… and Megan, like the rest of we-who-make-art faced that creative fear and stared it down, put on her big girl panties, and got it DONE. It’s not easy putting yourself out there in the sometimes mean anonymity of the interwebs. But she did it, and in my eyes, that inspiration deserves a super-heroine cape. Or knowing Megan… perhaps one with George Clooney on it.

So go buy Megan’s book. You might need two because you’re going to want to gift one to a friend, and it’s kinda rude to gift the one that’s covered in the tea you snorted out your nose while you were taking a teensy-weensy peek before you wrapped it.

Her book is blog-hopping for a few weeks from now through January with a break for the hols (yay for something fun in January!) – for the other stops see below.

And leave me a comment (how about you tell me what the most frustrating part of quilting was for you when you began?) if you’d like to win a copy. I’ll choose a winner on Friday!

Dec. 2 – Maddie Kertay  - Bad Ass Quilter’s Society

Dec. 3 – Sam Hunter – Hunter’s Design Studio

Dec. 4 – Carla Crim – Scientific Seamstress

Dec. 5 – Scarlett Burroughs – Craft Gossip

Dec. 6 – Jill Dorsey – Made With Moxie

Dec. 9 – Victoria Findlay Wolfe – Bumble Beans Inc

Dec. 10 – Lynn Harris - Little Red Hen

Dec. 11 – Teresa Coates – Crinkle Dreams

Dec. 12 – Joshua Helms - Molli Sparkles

Dec 13 – Liz Kettle – Stitch Journeys

Dec. 14 – Leah Day – The Free Motion Quilting Project

Dec 16 – Lisa Sipes – That Crazy Quilty Girl

Dec. 17 – Charlotte Newland – Displacement Activity

Dec. 18 – Teri Lucas - TerifiCreations

Dec. 19 – Cheryl Sleboda – Muppin.com

Dec. 20 – Kelly Biscopink – Stitchy Quilt Stuff

Jan. 6 – Generation Q

Jan. 8 – Rose Hughes – Rose Hughes – Quilt Artist

Jan. 9 – Janice Ryan – Better Off Thread

Jan. 10 – Flaun Cline – I Plead Quilty

Jan. 13 – Heather Jones – Olive and Ollie

Jan. 14 – Meg  – Without A Stitch On

Jan. 15 – Laura Lochore – Quokka Quilts

Jan. 16 – Elaine Wong Haselhuhn – Dashasel Sews

Jan. 17 – Kim Lapacek - Persimon Dreams

Shopping

Sam with Dots

Like many of you, I plan to stay away from the stores this weekend. I have no interest in being part of any insanity that might happen on Friday, and I refuse to shop on Thursday – I’m voting with my feet by not giving businesses my money that day… perhaps if we all do this some people, like J-Girl (my son’s lovely lady) might get to have a saner holiday. She’s scheduled for 11pm Thursday to 11am Friday – and I find this just SO wrong. Call me old fashioned, but I’m all for shutting down commerce on holidays (and even Sundays) because I just can’t believe that people spending good time with other people could possibly be a bad thing. We already move too fast and communicate too electronically – let’s have a few more real time hugs!

So to that note… I urge you to consider the handmade for some of your holiday shopping options – the folks at Fiber Nation made a lovely argument in support of this. Etsy and other venues abound with wonderfully unique things, and all these artisans deserve some recognition for the often underpaid toil that they do.

I also have a few things to offer – as always, there are patterns and Sassy Buttons, but I also have some new partnerships in play: the Quilt Dots people are carrying all the Sassy and Knit buttons as magnets, and they sell jewelry bases for turning the magnets into necklaces and such. That pic above is of me from quilt market, modeling one of the Dots from The Bitchy Stitcher’s collection… and don’t worry, they have other great Dots with more traditional designs if that’s what you’re looking for. We embrace and celebrate the differences around here!

Also Cafe Press will print any Sassy Button saying on any of their merch, from t-shirts to coffee mugs to tote bags – to quote them, 35 designs on 2680 products!

Lastly… as you may have read, I’m about to pack up and move to the Pacific NorthWest. As I’ve been going through my stuff, I have discovered a few quilts that are ready to find new homes and I’ll be posting those for sale later today or tomorrow. There will be some sweet deals as I’m motivated to NOT pack them! Watch this space!

FREE Pattern for Veterans Day

Today is a day for celebrating those who have served. If you’d like to make a quick and easy patriotic quilt for a veteran, an active service member, or one of their family, I have a pattern for you:

Striped and Spangled - COVER2 - 72dpiRGB

Leave me a comment (using an email that I can send back to) or send me an email at sewsamsew (at) gmail (dot) com by midnight in CA tomorrow (Nov 12) and I will send you a PDF copy.

And please thank them from me.

One BadAss Market, coming up!

Maddie-Pre-nap

If you don’t know this lovely lady, do let me introduce you: she’s Maddie Kertay of the BadAss Quilters Society.

Maddie is a force of quilting energy, and sweetly caters to many of us who consider ourselves on the fringes of that unfortunate sector of quilting that thinks it OWNS the Quilt Police. You know the one… it stares you down when you use a little salty language (Pardon your French? That didn’t sound like French to ME). At BadAss, Maddie has made a home for a more relaxed approach, full of bright images and positive reinforcement no matter how straight (or not) your seams are.

The Houston Quilt Market is nearly upon us, and of course, Maddie decided to put on a party. She has put together a networking event for everyone, where we get to eat fab snacks, play business card swap, and listen to people talk about stuff they think is important in our industry. The line up of speakers is sweet, and I’m thrilled to say she’s letting me have the microphone for a few minutes to talk about that thing I’m always talking about – art and craft have VALUE.

The official title of the gig is the BadAss Quilters Society Networking Gala – The Big Wing-Ding! Follow that link to read more about it. And yes, she’ll add me to the official published line-up as soon as I email her one of the photos that my pal Larry took of me last week! (Yes… I procrastinated getting head shots done… doesn’t everyone?!)

Not going to Market? Fret not! Maddie is going to videotape all of us (gulp!) and make it available for you. I hear there might even be some live streaming! So go follow her post to keep up with the latest, or catch her on Facebook here.

Oh… and about that head shot… what do you think? Me and the Ultimate Power Tool! Yeah!

Sam Hunter HS1