Sunday, April 27, 2014

Easy, Modern, and Curvalicious Baby Quilt

What's black and white and red all over? Yes of course, a  newspaper; a skunk with a papercut; and also ....
...This modern quilt that I just finished. I think it's a baby quilt, and it came about, superfast, because my quilting idol and friend Cheryl Lynch mailed me her brand-new 'Curvalicious' tool
The design is fascinating; To me, it has a neo-retro 50s feel, though perhaps I was also influenced by the radioactive color. (It doesn't actually glow in the dark - I ducked into the bathroom and turned off the lights to check.)

After determining that I didn't need lead gloves to handle it, I stared at it for a while longer and waited for it to talk....which it did! "Red and white!" it whispered. Yay, I love red-and-white quilts (how I wish I could have gone to this show), and always need more. So I traced the tool, twice with a washout marker; once onto red-with-white-polka dot fabric - I extended it to 5 circles long -  and once, only three circles long, onto striped red-and-white fabric. The pieces were then cut out with scissors.

I set the two long pieces at 90 degree angles, overlapping the corners, on a white background. Next, the circular openings were used to mark circles on black-and-white, red-and-white, and grey-and white geometric fabrics that I backed with lightweight fusible interfacing, to give them a bit more strength. Those were also cut out with scissors.
(Babies supposedly love high-contrast fabrics, which may or may not increase their IQs.)
Glue-stick everything down, raw-edge applique with a zig-zag stitch and invisible thread, then quilt in an easy sort-of hanging diamonds pattern. (The lines in one direction are straight, and the other have a gentle wave, for an op art effect.)

I could see using these same fabrics and the ruler to make a retro tablecloth and/or apron. Now you may be wondering, what OTHER kind of mood can you create with the Curvalicious design? The answer is quite a lot of them, including contemporary and elegant. Cheryl tested it on a quilt guild in Pennsylvania, and some used her jewel-tone dupioni kit to make stately table and grand piano toppers and wallhangings. Others used cottons for groovy 60ish explosions of rainbow colors. Find all the eye candy from her guild session here.

Cheryl is selling the ruler and an optional dupioni kit on her etsy site - details are here - and I swear I don't get any commission of any kind if you buy them. (Though I will enjoy watching Cheryl become very rich.) I can't wait to see what more people do with this  fascinating and whimsical shape!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

The Freemotion Quilted Denim Vase Face-Off (Say That 10 Times Fast)

Let's make two quilted denim vases from old jeans, with a kick! 

Step one: Cut uneven strips, 1-3" wide, from a bunch of denim jeans. Stitch them together, Then cross cut the strips, and lay out the checkered strips. Add wedges cut from denim between the strips. 

Add batting and a denim backing: 
Quilt as desired. I simply went up and down the wedges with somewhat wiggly lines. 

Finish the edges with a corded edging

Overlap the two long edges by about a quarter inch, and hand stitch in place with strong thread. 

Cut a circle of denim, using the vase bottom as your pattern. Cut it about a quarter inch larger than the base. Cut another layer of denim the same size, place the two circles together, do a corded edging, and hand stitch it into the bottom: 
Now, standing up, it looks like this: 
Are you done yet? If  you're into minimalism, yes. Or, embellish it into a face vase: 

Raid your bead box, button box, your children's toy boxes, your neighbor's kitchen drawers,  whatever, and come up with a bunch of things that have faces. I used the word face literally - like a human or animal face - and also less literally, as you will see.

Side 1, top down: A clock button , a polymer clay face (made in a commercial mold), a mardi gras necklace face bead, an improvisationally crocheted skull (start with the mouth and work your way up), a tiny commercial clay face button. 

Side two, top down: A ceramic sun face button, little plastic paper-wrapped doll head thingie (hard to describe), a happy-face metal button, a tiny dice, a glass head bead. 

Next side: Another polymer clay button, a shrink-plastic kitten face, a domino, a clown face cupcake decoration (with the bottom prong snipped off.) 

And finally, top down, a silver coin, another polymer clay face, a plastic ninja with swathed face, a vintage doll head, an  tiny metal alien charm.

So that was my first face vase. below my second one. It starts out like the first one, but with only denim wedges placed alongside each other. Once the wedges are in position - and while the vase is still flat - I did some improvisational free-motion quilting. It's not easy to think of a lot of different faces! A little more planning would have helped! Learn from my mistakes! Side 1: 

Side 2: 

Side 3. That's my late dog in the middle: 

Side 4. A simplified "Scream" is on bottom.
Novelty yarn creates the hairy top edge.
I lined this one with a Day-of-the-Dead colorful sugar skull fabric: 
Why face vases? I just like the rhyme!  

Can you really use them as vases and put flowers in them? Yes, if you slip a glass vase or jar inside. It's easy to find a size and shape you need at a thrift shop. Or start by using a particular glass vase to guide the size decisions that you make, when you begin the project. 

For many more denim creations, including vessels, click on "Denim" in the word cloud, in the right hand column of this blog. 

Saturday, April 12, 2014

The Exploding Matzoh, and Other Tiny Quilts for Passover

Last week I showed off some springy/Easterish quilted postcards. This week: Passover. In all of these cards, the fun is in the trompe l'oeil matzoh fabric. (Sold here.)

Fiber postcards measure 4 1/2"x 6", just like a regular postcard.  These were made for a swap. I couldn't pick just one theme, so I did a variety.

First, a Passover seder plate (the plate is represented by a circle of shiny silver lame). It holds the six ritual items spelled out in Hebrew, plus unlabeled oval of quilted matzoh fabric in the middle.  Silver metallic thread holds everything down and keeps the edges together.
Clockwise from the top, we have charoset (an apple-raisin dish, represented by a bit of apple fabric), chazeret (a bitter vegetable, represented by a brownish-gold leaf), beitzah, (egg), maror (another bitter herb), karpas (greens/parsley), and zeroa (shankbone)  from a Day of the Dead fabric! 
Same idea, mostly the same fabrics, different plate: 

This card depicts an exploding matzoh (with the helpful word 'matzoh' in Hebrew).

Here we have an experimental symbolic matzoh cover magically parting (over the Red Sea?), to reveal the Hebrew word for Passover (pronounced 'Pesach', reading from right to left.)

And now, for something completely different, a card onto which I packed all ten plagues. The purple drops represent the wine we spill or drip from our cups as a sign of sorrow for the afflicted.
Reading right to left, top row first:  Blood; frogs, lice; wild animals; cattle disease, boils; hail, locusts; darkness, death of the first born.

Let us take a moment. Geez. Even on a cute little postcard, the plagues are pretty sobering. Which is, after all, the point. 

Next, plagues again, this time in stripes, with a lightning bolt on the left and a frog entering stage right. 

Finally, on Passover we read that "with a strong hand, God brought us out of Egypt." So here's the metaphorical  hand, cut from literal commercial fabric, pointing the way through a maze of matzoh madness. 

Want to make something with the names of plagues or seder plate contents? I've made up printable PDFs which you can download for free, from my pattern page. here. (or click on the link to 'My Patterns' on the upper right.) Print them onto fabric or paper, cut them out, and apply them to whatever you like!

I've also those labels on larger quilted objects, like this large matzoh cover. I call it "Spilled Wine and Plagues" matzoh cover.
Many more ideas for quilted matzoh fabric are on my Judaiquilt website, here. 

Whatever you celebrate, wishing you a happy, healthy, and sweet springtime holiday! 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Great Book for Embellishment Beginners

Happy April! My review of Cheryl Lynch's terrific new embellishment book appeared as a guest blog post at Kay Mackenzie's All About Applique Blog on April 1.

Despite that date, it's no joke - this is a terrific book for anyone interested in getting into embellishment.

Read my review at  The review features lots of eye candy from Cheryl's book.

The book is called "Sew Embellished! Artistic Little Quilts, Personalized with Easy Technique," published by Martingale in 2012. I recommend it highly!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Spring Mystery Quilted Fiber Arts Postcards (and Tutorial)

It's spring! (or rather, here in Southern California it's sweltering summer, while in the American Northeast my teenage correspondent informs me, the polar vortex lingers).

Whatever the atmospheric anomalies, the calendar marches on, and Passover & Easter are approaching fast!

You have just enough time make seasonal fabric postcards!

This will be our subject for the next two weeks. First, the idea below, which  has been  bouncing around in my head for a while. Can you guess what they're trying to say?

Here's #1

# 2:

#3. A clue: Think Dr. Seuss.


#5. Another clue: Think "rhymes with ham".

#6. Here's the hardest one.

Didja guess? My brain got stuck, for some unknown reason, on the phrase "Green Eggs and Ham," the famously least-kosher, Dr. Seuss book title. I don't know why I started perseverating on it - perhaps I am suffering from post traumatic government shutdown syndrome - but there it was, my brain kept coming up with rhymes for ham, and thinking of them in fabric. So I had to make these things.

Without further ado,


#1 is 'Green Eggs and Lamb.'

#2 is 'Green Eggs and Clam' (OK, it's probably a scallop, but let's pretend it's a ham. Neither kosher, come to think of it.)

#3 Green Eggs and Tam (the red arrow is pointing to the hat)

#4 Green Eggs and Clams ('Clams' are old-fashioned slang for dollars. Like, Humphrey Bogart movie old-fashioned. Does anyone still call dollars clams?)

#5, The golf player, is Green Eggs and Wham. Or Bam? Or Slam!

And finally, #6, it's Green Eggs and JAM!!!!


I came up with a whole bunch of other ideas that I haven't yet executed:

Scam (Must find Bernie Madoff fabric.)

Sam (Uncle! With patriotic fabric!)

Ram (Lamb fabric works. Draw on horns).

Yam (Like Madoff, yam yardage is elusive.)

Potsdam (a historic city in Germany which surely deserves more attention to its last syllable.)

Spam (I could print out a photo of a Spam can, but worried about trademark infringement)

Pam (ditto)

Pram (my Local Teen came up with this.Veddy British).

Fam (ily. Also my LT's. )

Shazam (ditto)

I have been careful not to consult a rhyming dictionary, so as not to exceed my pure limits.

I was thinking about turning this idea into one (totally non-holiday ) little wallhanging, but when Passover started racing toward us, and I dug out my Passover fiber art postcards to write a post about them (which I will show you next week - in preparation, you should start ordering trompe l'oeil matzoh fabric now!) , it came to me that the egg theme would make terrific greeting cards for Easter and spring in general.

How easy is it to make a Green-Eggs-and-Something-That-Rhymes-with-Ham fiber art postcard? Very easy! Here's a quick tutorial for making a bunch.

1. Cut a couple of pieces of stiff interfacing to postcard size, 4" x 6"  (It can be cardboard, Peltex 72F, Inner Fuse, Fast-2-Fuse, in other words,stiff interfacing of any kind, ideally with fusible on both sides, but okay without.)

You'll also need a couple of inches of paper-backed fusible web, less if there is fusible built into the interfacing, more if there isn't.

2. Pick a background fabric for the featured side. I picked a white fabric with subtle neon green dots (insofar as anything neon green can be subtle.) Adhere the background fabric to one side of the interfacing (use fusible web if your interfacing doesn't have built-in fusible).

3. Put fusible interfacing on the back of  a couple of square inches of a couple different shades of green fabrics. Freehand cut eggs from the green fabrics. (You might want to practice cutting eggs from scrap paper before you do it on your fusible-backed fabric.)

4. Go through your novelty fabrics (or those at your LQS*) and locate fabric with funny little things that rhyme with ham. Consult a rhyming dictionary to get beyond my list above. Cut out squares or rectangles of these fabrics and adhere fusible web to the back.

5. Adhere fusible web to the back of a scrap of fabric that contrasts strongly with the background (I picked black) and cut out little "plus" signs.

6. Arrange the items on the featured side -  the eggs, the plus signs, the nouns - and press in place with an iron.

7. Stitch everything down. I mostly used invisible/clear nylon thread and a zig-zag stitch. (On the "Tam" card I used a dark rayon green for the eggs - you might prefer that look.)

8. Trim all stray threads, especially from the back.

9. Adhere a light colored fabric to the back of the postcards with fusible.

10. Do a corded edging around the sides for a neat zig-zag finish. My corded edging tutorial is at the bottom of this post. I used a white embroidery thread around mine.

 11. On the back (the message side), write in small letters the solution to your riddle, eg "Green Eggs + Spam," or whatever. Then write your message, take it to the post office to see how much postage they want you to pay (each post office is different!), put a stamp on it and mail it to your loved ones to celebrate spring!

12. Is Spam kosher? What exactly is in Spam? I bet it involves ham. I don't want to interfere the purity of my natural brain capacity by checking the Internets. Don't send a green eggs and ham, Spam, or clam to anyone for Passover. Other than that, you're probably okay.

Your green eggs and ham rhymes are always welcomed.

* LQS = Local Quilt Shop. Support your independent shop or soon there won't be any!