Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Hocus Pocus

It's a gorgeous summer day out there, but today I'm thinking about Halloween!

My Hocus Pocus table runner is featured in the September/October 2017 issue of McCall's Quilting available now online at the Quilt and Sew Shop and wherever magazines are sold.

Photo by McCall's Quilting

My starting point for designing this quilt was the Snail's Trail Blocks.  While making a variation of Snail's Trail blocks for another project, I realized that the swirly, twisting quality of the blocks could be kind of creepy—almost like arms reaching out—and I decided to try to use them in a Halloween project.  I tried them in the center of the quilt first with mixed results, but when I decided to use the Snail's Trail Blocks as a border, I loved the spooky result!  Using colorful Grunge fabrics by Moda for this quilt added texture and sparkle without detracting from the overall pattern.  

Hocus Pocus screams Halloween, but the pattern is surprisingly versatile.  On page 31 of the magazine, the McCall's team shares a lovely and scrappy Christmas version of the quilt, and here's a summery idea made with beachy blues:

It's a totally different feel, but just as fun!

If you'd like to make the Halloween version of Hocus Pocus, McCall's Quilting has exclusive kits available at the Quilt and Sew Shop.  In the kit, you'll find everything you need to make the quilt, including backing fabric.

Happy Quilting!

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Halloween Candy - Free Mini Charm Pack Pattern

Happy Holidays, fellow quilters!  It's only July, but today I'm celebrating Christmas and Halloween with my latest Moda Bake Shop tutorial.

Christmas Candy is a 14" mini quilt that I made with a mini charm pack of gorgeous "Petites Maisons de Noël" fabric by French General for Moda.

This little project is fast and easy, but my favorite part is the simple backstitched poinsettias and vines and French Knot berries that wind their way around the red and green patchwork center.

Christmas Candy is also a great portable project—once you've assembled the quilt top, it's the perfect size to take along with you for some summer stitching.

Not quite ready to think about Christmas?  Here's Halloween Candy, a pillow version of the project made with "Hocus Pocus" by Sandy Gervais.

This spooky pillow is embellished with spiderwebs and spiders.  You can find the embroidery pattern here.

I made Halloween Candy the same way as Christmas Candy (find the tutorial here), with just a few adjustments:
  • Before embroidering, I layered the pieced quilt top with both batting and a muslin lining panel.
  • Instead of machine quilting this project, I simply stitched an "x" across each of the junctions (through all layers) in the center patchwork.

  • And rather than binding the project, I used the following steps to turn it into a pillow:

Finishing the Pillow 
  1. Cut two 10" x 14½" panels from your backing fabric. 
  2. Fold one long (14½'') edge of a panel toward the wrong side ⅜'' twice and press.
  3. Stitch the hem close to the fold.
  4. Repeat with the second panel.
  5. Layer one panel on the embroidered and trimmed quilt sandwich, with right sides together and raw edges aligned.
  6. Layer the remaining panel on the opposite side of quilt sandwich, with right sides together and raw edges aligned.
  7. Stitch through all layers using a 1/4'' seam.
  8. Trim the corners to reduce bulk, turn the pillow sham right side out and insert a 14" x 14" pillow form.

Whether you choose Christmas or Halloween, mini quilt or pillow, if you'd like to make this fun mini charm pack project, you can find my free tutorial at the Moda Bake Shop.

Happy Stitching!

Monday, June 5, 2017

Flutter by, Butterfly

The landscape is finally in full bloom here in New Hampshire, and just the other day, I saw my first butterfly of the season.  To celebrate, I thought I'd share a sweet little project that I stitched up over the weekend.

This quick little project fits into a 5" x 7" frame and couldn't be easier!  I made the little butterfly by fusing two pieces of fabric together.  After cutting it out, I stitched it onto the background using a few long straight stitches that do double duty as the butterfly's body.  I did the rest of the stitching using two strands of embroidery floss—using a backstitch for the lettering and flower stems, lazy daisies for the flower petals and leaves, and French Knots for the flower centers.

You can find the pattern for Flutter by, Butterfly here.  Before beginning, make sure that the box of the printed pattern measures 5'' x 7''.  Using a water soluble marking pen, transfer the pattern to a 7'' x 9'' rectangle of background fabric and layer with a 7'' x 9'' piece of batting before stitching.  This step gives a bit of dimension to your stitching and prevents the floss ends from showing through.

After stitching your project, remove the contents of a 5'' x 7'' frame, wrap both layers of the project around the glass, pop it back into the frame and voilà!

By the way, I'm always on the lookout for great frames and I actually found this beauty at Kohl's.  The frame cost only $5 on sale, it comes in several great colors and best of all, it's deep enough to accommodate the extra layers of fabric and batting without having to tape the back.  I bought two and I'll probably go back for more!

Before I go, I just wanted to let you know that I'm hard at work on a big project that I hope to be able to share with you soon.  In order to be able to focus on the project, I've decided to take a month off from blogging.  In the meantime, I wish you all happy quilting and I'll see you back here in July!


Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Going Green

New Hampshire is beautiful in the winter, and I love the monochromatic palette of white snow, brown-black trees and blue-gray skies.  But I don't think there is anything prettier or more welcome than the return of green in spring.

And, as is always the case with color, "green" can mean a lot of things...

Ahh. green.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Easter Mini

Lately, I can't seem to get enough of all things miniature!  So with Easter right around the corner, I thought it was high time that I made an Easter mini.

I designed this simple little 6" project around the Easter egg buttons.  Aren't they darling?!

They're Just Another Button Company buttons, specifically the "small blue," "small pink," and "small lavender egg(s)."  I've had these buttons for a while now, waiting for the perfect opportunity to use them, and I'm thrilled with how they look tucked into a wool appliqué basket.

I thought about framing my project, but decided instead to layer it with batting and backing fabric, and to bind it with a wide binding that does double duty as an outer border.  I'm so happy I did, because I just love the look of the wide binding!  This is my first time using single fold binding as a wide binding and it turns out that it was super easy!  For the half-inch wide binding, I cut my fabric strip 2¼" wide.

To display my little project, I decided to attach a length of the gingham ribbon to the back of the mini so I can hang it wherever I like—preferably directly in front of me!  

Here's a link to the pattern for the Easter basket. And if you don't happen to have gorgeous Easter egg buttons in your stash yet, don't despair!  I think this project would also be cute with little wool eggs, maybe even embellished with a bit of embroidery.  Hmm... now my wheels are turning again!

Happy Easter and Happy Stitching!

Monday, April 3, 2017

Tiny Houses

Last week my daughter was home on break from college and feeling crafty, so I taught her to paper piece.  It's my latest attempt to turn her into a quilter and I think it's working!

We made tiny houses, and I mean TINY, and my daughter handled the bits and pieces like a pro.

Here's my house pre-embellishment:

The colors for my little house were inspired by this beautiful house in Providence:


I just love this house.  Definitely going to have a yellow house someday!

Here's my daughter's house:

This color palette is so her.  She loves Halloween and all things spooky.  I never would have thought of making the sky black and the grass burgundy, but I just love it!

After we paper pieced our tiny houses, we embellished them with a bit of simple stitching and popped them into 3" frames.

Here's my finished house with window boxes, flowers, and a few seagulls—in my mind this house is on the coast, hence the seagulls.

And here's my daughter's finished house, complete with a scary tree, moon, stars and a ghost peeking out of an upstairs window.

Even the Gothic frame that she chose screams of my daughter's personality—very Haunted Mansion!

Here are the two finished houses together:

I find it amazing that, in the hands of two quilters, one little pattern can result in two very different, but equally charming quilts!  I'm also struck by what a difference a little embellishment can make.  The original houses were sweet, but the little stitched details took them to an entirely different level—food for thought!

If you'd like to try your hand at some very tiny paper piecing, here's a link to the pattern that I drafted.  

You may have noticed that the above pieces don't really look like they'll fit together into a square block.  Here's how to make it work:
  1. After you piece all of the units, stitch together units E and D (these are the two sections of the first floor of the house) 
  2. Stitch unit C to the top of the E/D unit
  3. Join a 3/4" x 1 3/4" strip of background fabric to either side of the C/E/D unit
  4. Stitch unit B to the top of the above unit.
  5. Join a 1 1/4" x 2 3/8" strip of background fabric to either side of the above unit.
  6. Stitch unit A to the top of the above unit.
  7. Finally, join a 1 1/4" x 4 1/8" grass fabric strip to the bottom of the above unit.

Your pieced tiny house block should measure 4 1/8" (unfinished).  The excess background fabric around the house will give you enough leeway to wrap the block around the piece of glass that comes with a 3" frame before you reinsert it into the frame.

But before you frame your tiny house, don't forget to embellish it with some tiny stitching! 

Happy tiny quilting!!