Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Quilty Year in Review

This weekend, after I finished the final stitch on my second outstanding commission piece, I got to sit down and review what I've accomplished quilt-wise in the last year.

Please tell me I'm not the only one who keeps track of projects on a spreadsheet...


No, really. I do.
Okay, just me.

Amazingly, I found I was able to complete 17 different quilts! That's the most I've ever finished in a year. Of course, I accomplished them all because Maddie quilted most of them for me, giving me more time to piece. (A selection follows.)

There are 8 other tops I completed that are waiting for their turn to be quilted, either by me or Maddie.

That's pretty exciting!

In fact, I found I have 18 finished tops that need quilting. Some I have started to quilt, but they currently languish in The Bin of Despair (otherwise known as the UFO bin). This collection feels like a lot of opportunity to me. 2016 is the year I bring them into the light!

More sad, though, are the 4 6 projects that have been quilted and just need a binding or a pillow back. That's pretty lazy, Flaun. Git 'er done!

Of course, there are several projects I would like to create this year, samples to make for the shop, and a few WIPs to whip together. (See what I did there?)

Detailed project list or not, do you have projects you want to finish up in 2016? What is waiting in the wings for you? Tell me all the fun you have planned!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Happy Holidays!

I was told by a very smart woman that crafters aren't really reading blogs this week; they're madly finishing projects. I should have started the quick gifts sooner.

Oh, well.

I'm finishing up my commissions - my Christmas gift to me with a big hand from Maddie on one.

Whatever you celebrate, I hope it's an excellent one!

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Quick Gifts: Falling Windows

With the Christmas holiday rushing madly toward us, Hanukkah just passed, or any other number of holiday gatherings nearly here, we're all scrambling for last-minute gifts. My next couple of posts will discuss very quick things you can make to gift to your family, friends, or hosts.

When I first saw this panel, I nearly lost my mind. It reminds me of all those church and public buildings built in the 70s with stained glass windows. I just love them!

Art Glass by Rose Ann Cook for P&B

I knew almost immediately that I wanted to use the panel to recreate the look of those windows lit from behind. It's a deceptively simple top that goes together lickety-split.

Falling Windows by Flaun Cline
   Falling Windows
finished size approximately 40" x 48"


1 panel Art Glass*
1 yd black solid

Yep, that's it!


From the panel, trim the selvages and extra bits on the side to only 1/4" past the design.

Then cut into three 7 1/2" strips (P).

From the black solid, cut:
  • two 4 " strips (A)
  • one 2 1/2" strip (B)
  • one 4 1/2" strip (C)
  • three 6 1/2" strips (D)
  1. Lay your panel strips (P) out on a table top or on your design wall, stepping them up a couple of inches from left to right. Feel free to mix them up and/or turn them top to bottom. 
  2. To the left and center panel strips (PL and PC, respectively), attach A to the right-hand side. Trim.
  3. To PL, also sew D to the left. Trim.
  4. To PR (panel right), attach D to the right side. Trim.
  5. To PL, now sew D to the top and B to the bottom. Trim.
  6. PC gets C top and bottom sewn to it. Trim.
  7. Sew B to the top and D to the bottom of PR.
  8. Sew all three sets together and your top is done!

Any questions? Please put them in the comments and I will reply ASAP.

To the studio!

*We do have this panel (and even a kit) in our shop, if you're interested.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

An Invaluable Tool You Didn't Know You Already Own

Have you ever found a pattern you like, gleefully pulled fabric, cut, sewn, trimmed, and otherwise constructed a quilt top only to be sad at the flat look at the end?

It's okay, we've all done it. I'm here to tell you a little secret: it's all about the value of the fabrics you chose.

Humans in general are drawn to fully saturated mid-tones from all varieties of color. They're colorful, bright, and pleasing to the eye.

a beautiful stack of batiks all in mid-tones
When we create a quilt with all those mid-tones, however, the result is flat and doesn't sparkle.

same stack as above in black and white to show value
Here's the good news: you (probably) already have the tool you need to fix this problem and you likely take it everywhere you go! It's the camera in your smart phone.

If you have an iPhone, you can change the tone right in the app before even taking a picture.

screenshot in camera app
Simply touch the icon in the corner that looks like overlapping gels or a Venn diagram. I find choosing the "tonal" filter gives me the truest view of the values of my fabric choices.

If, however, you have a Google phone or have already taken your picture, you will need to go into your photos and edit the picture. (I can only demonstrate for the iPhone in the next few pictures, but the principle is the same for a Google phone.)

Open your picture and choose the edit button in the upper right of the screen.

Click the Venn diagram icon in the middle bottom of your screen.

Then, simply choose the "tonal" filter as shown.

Now that you can see from your own picture that all your values are the same, add a few high notes (lights) and deep notes (darks) to your stack and have another look.

original stack + lights and darks
Change it to black and white to be sure.

look at all those tones
Now that's going to sparkle!

To the studio!

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Quilt Calculations - Backing Yardage

As a quilt shop owner, customers ask me nearly daily what yardage they will need to finish a project. While there are apps that will calculate that sort of thing for you, I find they calculate more yardage than necessary.

Last week, we talked about binding calculations. This week, let's do backing!

The first step is the same as calculating binding: measure your quilt top. If your top and bottom (or left side, right side) measurements are different, choose the larger.

This calculation assumes you will want only one 45"-wide fabric for your backing and that you want to create the fewest seams possible, defaulting to one that hits center from left to right on your quilt back (the preferred back seam layout for a long-arm quilter*).

1. If your top is 40" wide or smaller, you can squeeze it onto a single width of fabric (WOF).

Simply add the overage you need to both the top and bottom of your finished top measurements.

For example:
My quilt top measures 40" x 60" (top width, TW, by top length, TL).

  • I recommend 4" wider all around for most at-home quilting projects that will be finished on a domestic machine, or 8" added to each dimension. If you are sending it out to be quilted by a professional, be sure to ask what overages they require; long-armers want anything from 4" to 8" on all sides, or a total of 8" to 16" extra.*
  • I am quilting it on my domestic machine, so I will use an overage (O) of 4". 

TL + 2O = quilt back length (QBL)
60 + 2(4) = 68"

To get the yardage measurement, divide the QBL by 36 (the number of inches in a yard).
68 / 36 = 1.89 yds --> round up to 2 yds.

2. Let's assume, next, that your top is wider than 40"

  • Add any overage you need for the quilting process to each side of your top. 
  • If your length measurement is now under 80", you can make your back with two pieces of equal length. (Remember, I only count on 40" of usable fabric from a WOF cut.)
For example:
My quilt top measures 63" x 71" (TW x TL).
I will be quilting this on my domestic, so I will use an overage (O) of 4".
Since my TL + 2O is less than 80" (actual sum is 79"), I know I can piece my back with a single seam across the middle back, so I will have two WOF pieces of equal yardage.

TW + 2O = inches of quilt back width (QBW)
63 + 2(4) = 71"

Since I need two WOF pieces of equal yardage, I multiply this sum by 2 to get my quilt back total measurement (QBTM).

2(71) = 142" linear WOF yardage
142 / 36 = 3.94 yds --> round up to 4 yards of backing fabric

3. "But, Flaun," you ask, "what if my length plus twice overage is greater than 80"???"

This is totally doable! Provided you are quilting it yourself on a domestic machine or your long-armer is not particular about the direction your seams travel along the quilt back* AND that your top width plus twice overage is under 80", you can turn the seam so it goes from top to bottom. 

For example:
My quilt top measures 71" x 90" (W x L).

2(L + 2O) = inches required for QBTM
2(90 + 2(4)) = 196"
196 / 36 = 5.44 yds --> round up to 5 1/2 yds of backing fabric

4. Lastly, we will assume both the top width plus twice overage and top length plus twice overage is greater than 80".

We will also assume for this exercise that you are sending this particular quilt out to a long-armer. (You could ABSOLUTELY quilt this at home on your domestic, but it is a lot of work. I know.) Long-arm professionals prefer to have quilt back seams run from the left to the right of your backing fabric with a seam width of 1/2", to better handle the stresses of being loaded onto the machine frame. This will necessitate 3 equal WOF cuts.

My long-armer likes 6" of overage on all sides.*

For example:
My quilt top measures 120" x 112" (TW x TL).

3(W + 2O) = inches required for QBTM
3(120 + 2(6)) = 396"
396 / 36 = 11 yds

I know it seems like a lot of fabric, but think about how much you used on the front. I guarantee it's more than 11 yards. A great deal is lost to the seams of your top.

A personal plea from me to you: do not skimp on your backing! If you come up a little short, you will be sad. If use lesser quality fabric on the back than the front, it will not last as long. If you use lesser quality fabric on the back, it will be scratchy in the areas that are most likely to touch your skin.

As always, if you have any questions at all, please leave them in the comments or email me directly.

To the studio!

*Please check with your quilting professional - I cannot stress this enough.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Quilt Calculations - Binding Yardage

As a quilt shop owner, customers ask nearly daily what yardage they will need to finish a project. While there are apps that will calculate that sort of thing for you, I find they calculate more yardage than necessary.

Here are my go-to calculations binding.

The first step: measure your quilt top. If your top and bottom (or left side, right side) measurements are different, choose the larger.

Binding Yardage
  • Add your longest width (W) and length (L) measurements together. Multiply that number by 2 to get the perimeter of your quilt.
  • Add 10 to 12 inches to that measurement for the joining process at the end of your binding.
  • Take that sum and divide by 40. (I only count on 40" of usable fabric from a WOF cut. Yes, some can give you as much as 43 usable inches, but others don't, so I err on the side of caution.) The result is the number of strips you will need to go all the way around your quilt.
  • Round up to the nearest whole number and multiply by 2.5 (the standard strip width for binding - if you use a different measurement, say 2 1/4" or 2", multiply by that amount).
  • The final answer will tell you how many inches by WOF you need!
For example:

My quilt top measures 63" x 71" (W x L).

2(W + L) + 10 = linear inches required to circumnavigate my finished quilt
2(63 + 71) + 10 = 278"

278 / 40 = 6.95 strips needed for binding (round up to the next whole number)

7 * 2.5 =  17.5 inches x WOF for your binding

This post was sad without a pretty picture. Better, now!
Quilt shops tend to sell fabric in 1/8 or 1/3 of a yard increments. Below is a list of the width for each standard yardage cut you can purchase. (Know your LQS; some shops may have a 1/4 yd or 1/2 yd minimum.)
  • 1/8 yd = 4.5"
  • 1/4 yd = 9"
  • 1/3 yd = 12"
  • 3/8 yd = 13"
  • 1/2 yd = 18"
  • 5/8 yd = 22.5"
  • 2/3 yd = 24"
  • 3/4 yd = 27"
  • 7/8 yd = 31.5"
  • 1 yd = 36"
In the example above, I need a piece of fabric that is 17.5 " by WOF,
so I should purchase 1/2 yard.

If I've thoroughly confused you, please feel free to send me an email or leave a comment. I'll do my best to clarify.

Come back next week for my backing calculations. (Yes, there is more than one.)

To the studio!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

My Kickoff for The 31 Day Blog Writing Challenge

Hi, there, everybody!

I know I haven't been doing very well with blogging in ... well, let's just be honest ... two years. Luckily my friend Cheryl Sleboda of muppin.com has challenged me and a few of her closest friends to a 31 Day Blog Writing Challenge. This is just the kick in the pants I need to get back on the wagon.

My goal is to post twice a week and I've already brainstormed a lot of great things to share with you.

If you're new to my blog, welcome!

If you've been a follower and wondering if I fell of the face of the planet, I'm so glad you hung around. 

Either way, thanks so much for being here.

- Flaun

Pop on over to Cheryl's blog to see who else is participating in this fun challenge.