Category Archives: Quilt Patterns

Techie’s Gadget Roll pattern available

I am pleased to announce that I have published a new pattern.  I designed this one to hold all those cables, memory cards, batteries, etc.  that are so necessary when you are travelling — or for that matter, when you are using your laptop, tablet, or smartphone at home.

Last year when we drove to Alaska I misplaced one of my cables somewhere in the car.  So we had to search all over in Canada to find a similar cable that would do the job.  Of course, when we got home and I unpacked, there was the original cable!

So this year I vowed to avoid that problem by making myself a special bag to hold everything I needed travelling in Europe with my digital camera and tablet.  By the time I gathered everything in one spot and started designing my “gadget roll”, I was amazed at how much stuff there was. Of course I went overboard by having duplicates and backups for most everything!

Now I use this gadget roll all the time at home, and I am going to design more of them for use for other applications.  Here are a couple of photos of the open and closed roll:

Open, loaded with all my gear:

Gadget roll open_1 blog version

And rolled up and tied for easy packing and storage:

Gadget roll closed_1 blog version

Now I just have to make a bunch of these for Christmas gifts this year — as soon as I find some “guy” fabric — and I won’t have to do any other shopping at all!

Pattern is available on Patternspot.com — see my pattern page for the link to my Patternspot “store”.  There isn’t a specific description and photo of this pattern on my pattern page yet — a few technical difficulties are stopping me- but the pattern is at my Patternspot store.

Here is the gadget roll in red.

red gadget roll 2 (2)

 

 

red gadget roll tied (2)

And while I was working on these I learned that Velcro has made a change to their product.  I don’t know how new this is, but it was new to me so  I am going to pass it on.  At my local store (JoAnn’s}  Velcro™ is sold both by the yard and in a package.  On the roll, it is the traditional product — one side of “hook” tape and one side of “loop” tape.  So when you buy a yard, you get a yard worth of fastening length.

Alongside the traditional product were pre-packaged products that look like this: Velcro package (2)

It says on the package that it is one yard of product.  And it is, but they have  redesigned the product so that it is both hook and loop together.  So one yard of product now only gives you 1/2 yard of actual fastening, because you use the same product for both sides.  The package says this in the fine print on the back — if you take the time to read it before you buy.  I don’t think the fastening is quite as good as it used to be, either.  It feels a lot easier to pull the two sides apart on the new product.

China Blue

I recently finished a quilt top from a kit that has been sitting around my studio for years.  It was a challenging design by Dereck Lockwood that I found intimidating.  I just couldn’t stand having it incomplete any longer, so now it is done and ready for quilting.  Here is the completed top:

China Blue 77 x 77 inches

China Blue 77 x 77 inches

I thought the piecing of all those diamonds was going to be the hard part, but I used Sally Collins’ technique of making templates for all the pieces.  I punched tiny holes in the templates (see my earlier post about making a circle template for a photo of the hole punch I used) to mark the start and stop points of the seams.  Marking all those little tiny diamonds was tedious but not difficult.  Careful attention to all the seam allowances resulted in the diamonds being all consistent in size, so the piecing part went pretty well.

The applique was more difficult, because the fabric had a tendency to ravel and the litle flowers all have lots of notches.  They just didn’t want to behave!  I used freezer paper  for the applique patterns and a little fray check where necessary.  The result is not perfect but acceptable.  I probably wouldn’t select this pattern today, but I am very fond of blue and white so I am pleased with it – except now it has to be quilted!  Another big job, but I will plan that another time — hopefully before my guild’s quilt show in September.

Squares Upon Squares – Playing with Paintstiks

Last month I got out my Paintstiks and rubbing plates and did some playing around.   If you don’t know about Paintstiks, you can Google them and get lots of info.  You can buy them in various sets or individually on Amazon; here is a link to one set: Jack Richeson Shiva Oil Paintstik, Iridescent Colors, Set of 12 .  The rubbing plates – and a book explaining how to use the Paintstiks – came from Cedar Canyon.  Here is a link to the book: Cedar Canyon Textiles Paintstiks On Fabric
and a link to the leaf rubbing plates I used: Artist’s Paintstiks Rubbing Plates 6/Pkg.-Leaves

Here is a photo showing my layout of the six rubbing plates I own – all are leaf designs – taped to my cutting table so they wouldn’t move around:

Rubbing plates taped down in a grid

Rubbing plates taped down in a grid

Then I laid black fabric down on top and taped it off, both to hold it in place and to keep from accidentally getting paint where I didn’t want it.  The photo below shows the results after I rubbed  stencil brushes on the Paintstiks and then transferred the paint to the black fabric, rubbing the brush in one direction diagonally across the plates:

Rubbed leaves colored with gold, bronze, and copper Paintstiks.

Rubbed leaves colored with gold, bronze, and copper Paintstiks.

I used three different color iridescent paintstiks to rub the plates – gold, copper, and bronze.  The stencil brushes keep you from getting globs of paint on your fabric.  And here is the completed fabric:

Completed Paintstik leaf blocks

Completed Paintstik leaf blocks

My photo isn’t great- the actual blocks look very good!  Nice and shiny and the different colors add complexity.

Then, of course, I had to think up something to do with my painted blocks.  So I made up a pattern, bought some coordinating fabrics, and here is the result:

Squares Upon Squares quilt, about 54 by 67 inches

Squares Upon Squares quilt, about 54 by 67 inches

I am pleased with this quilt and, since I wrote up the directions for it before making the quilt, I will probably make it available as a pattern sometime soon.   Here is a closeup that shows the Paintstik blocks better:

Squares Upon Squares closeup

Squares Upon Squares closeup

Paper for Foundation Piecing

Just a quick post to tell you about a “new” discovery. Most of you know how hard it is to use regular (20, 22, or 24 lb) copy paper for foundation piecing patterns.  The paper just won’t tear away cleanly after stitching and you end up using tweezers to get all the little paper bits off your quilt block.

I have been using 16 lb newsprint for the foundation piecing patterns in my Mariner’s Alphabet Pattern.  It is fairly hard to come by in 8 1/2 by 11 sheets; the only place I have found was through an online order at Office Depot. The newsprint is great at tearing off after stitching, but I have some trouble with it not feeding through my printer properly.  About 5 % of the time multiple pages will feed through at once.  So when I print out a bunch of patterns to sell through the local shops, I have to watch the printer very carefully and double check every pattern to ensure the set of patterns is complete.

Ginny Hillsberg at Uptown Fabrics in Port Townsend is using 16 lb copy paper for this purpose.  Last time I was in her shop, she handed me a stack of it and suggested I try it out.  It feeds through my printer nicely (so far) and the patterns print well.  I tested stitching through it and tearing off the paper; that worked well also.  It is slightly harder to tear than the newsprint, but tore cleanly with a  stitch length  of about 1.5 mm.  I like to use a fairly  short stitch length on foundation piecing  because the seams are less likely to start coming undone at the ends, so I haven’t tested the paper with a regular stitch length.

Once I use up the reams of newsprint I bought last year, I will definitely be switching over to the 16 lb copy paper.  If you can’t find it locally, here is a link to Amazon where it can be purchased:  X-9 Copy Paper, 92 Bright, 500 Sheets/Ream, 8 1/2″ x 11″, 16 lb..  It is also available online at OfficeMax, if you happen to shop there.  Not sure if they stock it in their stores or not.

Book review: First Steps to free-motion quilting by Christine Cameli

I have just read a new book on Free Motion Quilting.  This book, “First Steps to free-motion quilting” by Christine Cameli and published by Stashbooks, is intended to be just what the title says:  a beginning free motion instruction book.  As a bonus, it includes 24 simple projects that are designed to be quick to make so that you can spend a minimum of time making the project and most of your time practicing your free motion quilting.

The instruction section is short but complete.   The photos are good and the writing clear.  Extensive use is made of bulletized lists so that you can quickly see the important ideas without wading through lots of text.  In fact, as I read the instructions I found the author making all the same points I tell my students in my free motion classes.

Following the instructions, a thoughtfully organized section shows about 65 different free motion designs, all very suitable for beginners.  This section is a wonderful resource for quilting ideas.

The remainder of the book – in fact more than half of it – is devoted to the 24 projects.  There is a wide variety – bags, bowls, placemats, tablerunners, clothing, and quilts.    The last part of the section discusses embroidery – or using the free motion designs on plain cloth or readymade clothing.  Many of the projects have a “modern quilt” feel.  They are young and fresh and are likely to appeal to younger quilters (Judging by her photo, the author  fits in this category!)

In short, I heartily recommend this book.  I will be telling my free motion students that this is the one book they should buy as a reference.  You can  purchase this book at Amazon through the following link: First steps to free-motion quilting

Free Quilt Patterns and Designer at Equilter.com

I recently received a newsletter from Equilter.com featuring their free quilt designer.  It has some nice features and is a great way to get a free pattern and shop for fabric at the same time.  You can go see it at the following link: http://www.equilter.com/pattern/category/0/equilter-free-pattern-designer

There is also a short video showing how to use it.  Be sure to watch the video, it is short and a good explanation of how the software works. This is not truly quilt design software like Electric Quilt (which is great but costs money), but it is essentially a library of quilt designs that allow you to access the design, see what fabrics were used for the original design, change the fabrics to others available at Equilter, see how much fabric is needed and how much the fabric will cost, download complete instructions, or email your version of the quilt with instructions to yourself or a friend.

There are over 400 patterns available with more being added frequently.  Most of these patterns are ones created by the fabric manufacturers to feature their new fabric lines.  The software that Equilter has developed allows you to take that pattern and see how it will look with other fabric choices.

This is a great added feature to the Equilter website, and a very efficient way to access all those free patterns made available by the manufacturers.

Based on the email newsletter I received, Equilter will be sending out newsletters  announcing new patterns as they are added.  If you aren’t already drowning in emails from quilting websites, you might want to get on their mailing list.

Drafting Japanese Kamon or Mon (Family Crest) patterns

I love many things about Japanese design.  One of the aspects of Japanese design that has always intrigued me are the many variations of Japanese family crests, and I have been intending to make a quilt using the designs for at least a couple of decades.  Now I am finally doing it.  This is a progress report of the pattern drafting process.

On a trip to Japan at least 30 years ago, I purchased a book entitled “”The Elements of Japanese Design – A Handbook of Family Crests, Heraldry & Symbolism” by John W. Dower.  My copy of the book was published in 1971, but I also see a 1990 edition for sale on Amazon now.  I have made a few failed attempts to use the designs in the past, but was stopped by the difficulty of the drafting process.  Here is how I have finally solved that problem – and now I wonder why I didn’t do this many years ago.  I think it was mostly because I lacked the confidence to enlarge the designs.  I am pleased with the results so I am going to describe the simple process I used.

The source of my problem was that the pictures in the book are so tiny.  Each kamon drawing is about 15/16 inch in diameter.  How to turn that into a 9 inch design for a quilt block?  The first photo below shows a page from the book with 25 different kamon, and the enlarged drawings that increased the size to about 3 1/2 inches.  I had to enlarge it twice using my copier, since my copier is limited to a maximum enlargement of 200 % at a time.

Using a copier to enlarge the drawing

Using a copier to enlarge the drawing

Next I put tracing paper over the top of the design and traced the shapes, as shown in the next photo.  I did the tracing at this step primarily to switch the design from white on black to black on white, so I wouldn’t waste so much ink.  This tracing was done with pencil (a good mechanical pencil is best).  No point in getting very precise at this stage, so I did the drawing freehand.   Be sure you have a good eraser on hand – I like the white ones because they don’t seem to leave a residue and they don’t get hard over time.  The three different kinds of curves in the upper right of the photo can be used to get smoother curved lines; I used them later on the final drawing.

Tools needed for tracing the pattern.

Tools needed for tracing the pattern.

The traced design is shown below.

The traced design, 3 1/2 inch size

The traced design, 3 1/2 inch size

Once the tracing was complete, I put it back into the copier and enlarged it another 200%.  A few of the lines were faint and had to be darkened. The design was now 7 1/2 inches across.  The final enlargement was at 120%, to get a 9 inch diameter design.  Since I only have 8 1/2 inch wide paper, I had to copy the design in two pieces and tape them together as shown in the photo.

The full sized free hand design

The full sized free hand design

Now I am ready to produce a finished design.  I placed vellum on top of the copied design.  Vellum is a higher quality drafting paper.  It is still transparent but can stand up to more drawing and erasing than tracing paper.  I actually taped the copied design to the back of a sheet of 11 x 17 inch vellum, using blue painter’s tape.  The reason I did this is because it is much easier to draw a smooth curved line if you can rest part of your palm on the table while you draw the curve.  This requires moving the paper frequently to get the curve oriented right relative to your hand, so taping the vellum and drawing  to the drawing board doesn’t work very well.  The photo below shows the vellum with the design underneath.

the finished pencil drawing

vellum taped on top of the full sized free hand drawing

Using a mechanical pencil and a curved template where necessary, I traced the design carefully.  At this stage I  modified the design slightly to get large enough pieces for applique, to get the spacing between pieces consistent, and to simplify the design where I could.  Not much was required for this particular design – some of the others I have done needed more modification.  So the photo below shows the completed pencil drawing.

the finished pencil drawing

the finished pencil drawing

Although I could proceed using only a pencil drawing, I wanted a sharper (and permanent) design that would show through the vellum (since the fusible web I am using requires me to draw the pattern pieces in reverse).  So I used a .05 black Sakura pigma pen to draw the lines again.  The resulting ink drawing is shown below.  I numbered the pattern and also labeled the reverse side so I wouldn’t get confused.

the inked drawing

the inked drawing

Each pattern piece should be labeled with the pattern and the fabric to be used.  For this design, the pieces are labeled “B12” because this is the 12th bamboo pattern I have drawn.  I chose which pieces would be made from one fabric, and then labeled them 2a, 2b, etc where the number is the fabric number and each piece using that fabric is separately identified with a letter.  As shown below for this pattern, I wrote these labels on the original pattern copy before the final drafting and used that as a reference as I traced the applique pieces.

the drawing with pieces labelled

the drawing with pieces labelled

Then I placed the design right side down on my light table (which is a piece of plexiglass held up by some wood 2×4 scraps).  I slide an Ott light underneath, which has to be moved around a bit to light up the part of the design I am working on.  Then I placed some Steam A Seam 2 on top, making sure the adhesive was fastened to the paper side that I am tracing on.  I drew all the pieces that will be made from the same fabric together and transferred the pattern, fabric, and piece numbers to each piece.  The pieces for this block pattern are shown below.

pattern pieces transferred to the fusible web

pattern pieces transferred to the fusible web

I cut the fusible web in sections to keep all the pieces using one fabric together.

The unmarked paper is then peeled off and the tacky side placed on the wrong side of the chosen fabric.  The Steam A Seam and the fabric are cut on the outside lines of each pattern piece, using very sharp fine scissors.

The overall block pattern is replaced back on the light table with the right side up this time.  The background fabric for the block is placed on top and centered.  The paper is peeled off a each applique piece just before it is put into position on the background.  Once all the pieces are in place, the block is carried to the ironing board and fused in place following the manufacturer’s directions. The photos below show a couple of my fused blocks.

Fused bamboo kamon block

Fused bamboo kamon block

second fused bamboo kamon block

second fused bamboo kamon block

Still lots to be done, but I like the look of these blocks.  I have fused the six light background blocks. The remaining blocks for this quilt will have a dark background.  The fabric is backordered so I am hoping it will arrive shortly and I can complete the remaining blocks.  In the meantime I can stitch down the edges of the applique on the first six.