Friday, March 20, 2015

"Hothouse Flowers" - Free Pattern

Happy Spring!

And I say that with a grain of salt.  It's been sunny here, but windy and cold.  There's a chance of snow in the forecast, again, and I don't even want to talk about how deep the snow is in my yard.

But in honor of the "official" start of spring, here's my Hothouse Flowers quilt.  It's a Web Extra for Quilters Newsletter's April/May 2015 issue and you can find the free pattern for this distinctly unwintry project on QN's website.

Hothouse Flowers is a scrappy 30" x 30" quilt featuring oversized hand appliquéd flowers.  I originally made it as a wall quilt, but this month, in defiance of the weather outside, I've been using it on my kitchen table.  I'm kind of a rebel.

I love the gorgeous colors of the batik flowers and their fussy cut centers, but I have to admit, the best part of making this quilt was naming it.  As usual, I asked my family for name suggestions and this time they were particularly inspired.  The following names were the top contenders:

Flower Power (seen it)

Floral Fantasy

Petal Power

Petal to the Metal (clever, but a smidge masculine)

Lazy Daisy (been done)

Bellicose Rose

Mum's the Word

Crocus Pocus (seriously, the flowers look nothing like crocuses!)

Gerber Fervor

Pistil Sizzle (in case you're having trouble remembering your plant anatomy, the pistil is the female reproductive organ of a flower)

Flamin' Stamen (you guessed it, the stamen is the male reproductive organ of a flower -- obviously my family was getting a little out of control)

And finally, and perhaps the most outrageous:

Pollination Quilt-Nation

Clearly I was on my own; so "Hothouse Flowers" it was.  Maybe it's a bit sedate compared to some of the above, and it's certainly not as memorable, but at least it's appropriate and doesn't conjure up memories of high school biology... shudder.

Feel free to choose one of my family's suggested names for your version of Hothouse Flowers.  I mean, how could you go wrong with "Pollination Quilt-Nation?"

Happy Quilting!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Think Spring - Free Pattern

My vacation from blogging seems to have lasted just a bit longer than the week or two that I intended and I blame this winter.  Endless cold days and being buried under four feet of snow forced me into a kind of blogging hibernation.  But yesterday the sun came out, the temperature reached 40° and I realized that it was time to emerge from my cave, whereupon I heard birds singing, drove through mud on our dirt road, and grilled chicken on the barbecue for dinner.  Reinvigorated and hopeful, I decided to celebrate these unmistakable signs of impending spring with this quick little project:

I chose to insert this sweet quilt into a 5" x 7" frame, but if you prefer you could make it into a small wall hanging or turn it into a pillow.  Using the following directions, the unfinished quilt top dimensions will be 7½" x 9½".

You'll Need:

Green print:  10" x 10" - cut (2) - 2" x 4½" and (2) - 2" x 9½"

Cream print:  10" x 10" - cut (1) 3" x 6½" and use remaining fabric for foundation piecing of crocus blocks.  I found that if I cut 2" x 2" squares and cut each diagonally into two triangles, that the triangles were big enough to use for the cream sections of the crocus block (ie. A2, A3, A6, A7, A9 and A10).

Scraps of purple prints, yellow prints, and additional green prints if so desired (the 10" x 10" square of green print gives you enough to use that green in the crocus blocks as well).

Batting:  9" x 11"

Also needed:
Washout marking pen, spray basting adhesive (really helpful), purple embroidery floss - I used DMC's #3740, black, white and yellow embroidery floss - if you'd like to include the bee, and a 5" x 7" frame

(if you choose to turn this project into a wall hanging or pillow, you'll need additional fabric for the backing, binding, etc.)

To make the crocus blocks:

The 1½" x 1½" crocus blocks are paper pieced and I borrowed the block pattern from EQ7.
You'll want to print out or copy four foundation patterns (find the template here) and make sure that they measure 1½" x 1½" from solid line to solid line -- 2" x 2" from outer dotted line to outer dotted line.  1½" square seems small, but it wasn't unmanageable.

If you are new to paper piecing, here's a link to a Fons & Porter tutorial to help you out.

To assemble the quilt top:

After making the four crocus blocks, stitch them together horizontally and press the seams open.  Then stitch the cream print 3" x 6½" to the top of the row of crocuses (or is it croci??) and press towards the cream 3" x 6½".  Stitch a green print 2" x 4½" to either side of the center unit, pressing towards the green.  Finally, stitch a green print 2" x 9½" to the top and bottom of the center unit, pressing towards the green.  Remove the paper from behind the crocus blocks and press the finished quilt top well.

To finish the quilt top:

Referring to my framed quilt and using a washout marking pen, trace the "Think Spring," bee, and bee trail onto the quilt top.  I used a lightbox left over from my scrapbooking days for this step.  Then lightly spray basting adhesive to the 9" x 11" piece of batting and smooth the quilt top over it, right side up.  I like to embroider with the batting in place because it gives the stitching dimension and prevents the floss ends, etc. from showing through your fabric.
For the proper scale, when you print the above embroidery pattern (find the template here), the rectangle should measure 2½" x 6".  Use two strands of embroidery floss and a running stitch for the embroidery.  The dots above the two i's are french knots and I only used one strand of black floss for the bee's trail.  Trim the edges of your quilt and don't forget to wash out the marking pen.  And here's a close-up of the bee to help you out:

To insert the quilt into the frame:

Remove the contents of the frame - back, any padding, glass, etc.  Center the glass behind your quilt top and wrap the edges of the quilt around it.  You can tape the edges to the glass if you like or simply reinsert the glass and quilt into the frame -- the extra width helps to hold it in place.  Then put the back of the frame in place, taping if necessary.  And that's it!

I put my little quilt on the kitchen windowsill where it not only reminds me to hope for spring, but it also blocks out the view of the acres of snow in the backyard!

Only 10 days until spring!!