Posts Tagged ‘sewing’

Framed Cabins Quilt Top

This month I’ve been working on assembling another quilt top for Do Good Stitches, the charity bee I’m a part of. I wrote up these instructions for my bee-mates, and I thought I’d share.

These blocks are a variation on a log cabin, and the blocks are constructed so that each “round” of the block extends to create a frame of sorts for the inner rounds of the block.

framed cabin block

The blocks are made in an improvisational manner and are squared up when complete.

The blocks are made up of a combination of low volume/neutral fabrics and saturated, colorful fabrics. I recommend using colors that pop! It makes the “frames” really stand out against the neutral background.


How to make the blocks:

To start, I grabbed my bag of strings, and sorted into 2 piles: my saturated, bright colors, and my low volume/neutrals. I think these look best when using strips that are about 2 inches wide or less.

Next, match up one saturated strip with one neutral strip that are approximately the same length, and stitch them together along the long edge. I did this for a bunch of strips at once by chain piecing them. One they’re stitched together, press the seams. These will be all of the “logs” that make up the cabin.

To begin constructing the block, take one saturated/bright square and on opposite sides, stitch a neutral scrap. It should look like this:

Step 1

Next, trim one long side to be straight. Grab one of the paired saturated fabric + neutral fabric strips, and sew the saturated side to the center piece. (Here’s a pic to help explain):

Step 2

Press the seams, and continue adding the pieced “logs” with the saturated strip matching up to the existing block, like so:

Step 3

Step 4

Step 5

As you can see, I just kept adding the pieced strips around the block until it was a size that I was happy with.

It’s a fairly simple block– just a log cabin made from the pieced strips, and arranging them as I described gives the “framed” look. I hope this brief tutorial was useful!

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Around the World Blog Hop

Dresden Quilt Top

My friend Amanda tagged me in the “Around the World” blog hop, and while I normally don’t jump on this sort of bandwagon, this blog hop has a bit of a different feel and I have loved reading the posts from my friends reflecting on their creative process. Plus I’ve been meaning to update my blog for FOREVER, but a lot has been going on behind the scenes here! I’m still sewing a ton (and I have SO MANY projects to share), but in the last couple of months I finished up my post-doc fellowship and took a tenure-track job, which involved moving to a new area and staring the new job. Things have been a bit crazy, to say the least! But carving out time for creativity has been so important to me, and documenting my work and my process goes along with this!

blue squares improv baby quilt

Like many of my friends, I also have made the switch to using instagram a little more frequently– namely because I don’t always have time to edit photos and write up a blog post, but I can snap a quick shot on my phone and share it right away. If you’re interested in seeing what I’m up to, I’m greenleafgoods on instagram; my profile is not public, but if you request to be friends I’ll be happy to add you!

Liz's quilt

1. What quilting/sewing thing am I working on?
Ha, this question is kind of funny because I always have at least 3 (…or 4 or 5) quilts in progress at any given time. Realistically, I am finishing up binding on two quilts, I’m cutting and piecing another top, and I’ve been pondering how to quilt my dresden quilt top. I finished this beast up a few weeks back, and I think I’m close to figuring out how to finish it off!

I finished my DS Dresden quilt top today! It's so large I can barely get a full photo of it.

I also just acquired this sweet vintage singer featherweight, so I’ve been spending a little time cleaning her up and testing her out. She is in great shape, and her stitches are pretty perfect! I think I’ll be doing a lot of piecing on the featherweight from now on.

Guess what arrived today!!!!!! I may be a bit excited :)

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?
Well, in a lot of ways it doesn’t! I am constantly (seriously, constantly!) drawing inspiration from the work of my peers, and I feel very at home in the “modern quilt” genre. And this can mean a lot of things, as debate about modern quilting has revealed. But after making many, many quilts I’ve realized that I heavily favor the improv process. I *can* paper piece when I need to, but I don’t really enjoy it! I also think a LOT about incorporating traditional elements into modern designs. Again, I know I’m in good company here!

Wonky Pinwheel Quilt Top

The one way I differ from a number of other quilters is that I tend to not use patterns. I will often look at patterns to see construction and piecing techniques, but then I take that knowledge to figure out what works for me. For example, when working on my improvisational double wedding ring quilt, I focused on techniques for sewing improv curves. Once I had that mastered, I felt very confident that I could execute my design.

improv double wedding ring

3. How does my writing/creating process work?

This is really a cyclical process. I am often inspired when I see someone else’s work, though usually I identify an element of the work that stands out to me (for example, I love the colors they chose, or that’s an interesting block design, or I love how they laid out their quilt top) and then I think about what aspect of the design I would want to incorporate into my own work. Every once in a while I’ll see something that I just want to make my own version of, but usually I’ll latch onto an idea and then mull it over for a while. Part of this process is then searching out all examples of the particular method or design I’m interested in and looking at all the variations to see what resonates with me. This part of the process usually has a couple of criteria– I have to find something visually appealing AND I have to think through whether I’d find the process of creating the project enjoyable. Sometimes I find something I love, but I know that I wouldn’t find it that fun to make, so I think about what version would be fun for me to work on.

improv double wedding ring

For example, when I began my improv double wedding ring, I searched high and low for other improvisation DWR quilts. As you can imagine, there aren’t many! Next I identified my process– the improv curves I’d need to make my shapes. I also considered the layout, and how I’d nest the curves so that all the shapes would line up. During this phase I often draw rough sketches to see if my ideas are practical. Then I dive right in– I find the best way to learn is to try it out, so I start cutting and sewing and see where things go.

Farmhouse Quilt Top

Here’s another example: I was asked to make a quilt that showed a family home and incorporated elements that were unique to the family. I took a photo of their house, and then searched for all sorts of patterns that might approximate this shape. I found a good one, and started paper piecing it– but it wasn’t feeling right. I modified my approach to be improv, and I added things like the kids in the windows and the cat on the porch.

Farmhouse Quilt House and Barn

I knew I needed to add a mountain to the back left of the quilt, and a garden to the right, with some wildlife mixed in.

Farmhouse Quilt Garden

Farmhouse Quilt Mountains and Wildlife

This was the most fun to make, because it was so challenging but so freeing to just put things together and see what worked. For the garden, I was inspired by the purl bee mini quilt, and I did a smaller version in the quilt. I also used improv patchwork for the sky and grass and dirt, and pulling these sections together was so much fun.

Farmhouse Quilt Improv Sun and Sky

Overall, I try to start with a rough vision of what I want to make, and I look for examples to draw from to inform my choices during the design and implementation phases. But I’m also always open to seeing where things go– sometimes I work on something that just doesn’t “work” and I listen to the quilt top to tell me when things are feeling right and when they need to change. It’s an unpredictable process, but that’s what I love about it.

Now I’d like to encourage some of my friends to join in and share their process. I’d love to hear from my friends Kristie (of OCD: Obsessing Crafting Disorder), who constantly amazes me with her productiveness and eye for color and composition, and Kate (of The Story of Kat), who continues to make quilts I want to steal, and creates the most amazing original embroidery designs.

Thanks for reading my super-long post! I’m planning to share some more of my quilt finishes soon!

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dresden closeup

I love being part of the do good stitches quilting bee, it challenges me to design quilts that will be fun for my fellow bee members, and asks me to try new things when I’m sending in blocks for a quilt.

do good stitches bee blocks

I thought it was time to do a little round-up of recent work for the bee. These blocks I made for Rachel this month.

do good stitches bee block

Ara Jane asked us for courthouse steps blocks. These were so fun to make, and the sneak peek of the quilt she gave on instagram recently was gorgeous!

January bee blocks

Last month I asked for blocks I designed using a scrappy log cabin approach. This quilt has been so fun to put together, and I’m thinking I’ll do a little tutorial with my instruction for this quilt block soon.

DGS bee blocks

DGS bee blocks 2

I quilted my happy houses quilt, and am finishing up binding it by hand now. I love how it turned out, too– it’s a testament to the creativity and skill of the members of my circle!

Happy Houses Quilt Top

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Voile Quilt Top

This past Friday was one of the craziest I’ve ever experienced. Friday morning we woke up to the news that the suspects in the bombing had engaged in a shoot out with the police about a mile away from our house, and one suspect was on the loose in our neighborhood. Our town was in lockdown, and we were instructed to stay indoors and not to open the door except for a uniformed officer.

Pow Wow Quilt Top

So–if you’re trapped indoors all day with a bunch of nervous energy, what can you do? I decided that THIS was why I buy so much fabric! I had plenty to work on, and managed to finish 3 quilt tops in one day.

HST/LC Quilt Top

When we were finally allowed outdoors, we took Simon to the park to stretch our legs, and while we were there we heard a round of gunfire and rushed home. We learned that the suspect had been cornered and was quickly captured. What relief! People lined the streets of Watertown and cheered for the police as they slowly filed out of town. We are all so happy to have a bit of normalcy restored.

HST/LC Quilt Top on the Minuteman Trail

Pow Wow Quilt Top

The next day I attended the Boston Modern Quilt Guild meeting. I was so happy to be amongst friends, and we needed to brainstorm about what we can do as a guild to respond to the crazy events of the past week.

Boston Quilt Fabric

We’re cooking up an idea and will reveal the details soon, so stay tuned!

Boston Quilt Fabric

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a quilt with a view

I have been waiting a *long* time to share this quilt top, so warning– there are a lot of pictures in this post!

single girl 1

I started the Single Girl quilt (pattern by Denyse Schmidt) with the Single Girl Quilt Along, which started quite a bit ago– as I look back at the group, it looks as though it’s been 20(!) months. This is definitely the longest it’s taken me to finish a quilt top! I don’t think I really knew what I was getting myself into when I decided to make this as a queen sized quilt for our bed. Now that the quilt top is done, I’m soooo glad I did it, but I likely won’t make another, at least not this size!

single girl 2

After finishing the quilt top, I knew I wanted to take it somewhere special to take some photos, and the perfect opportunity presented itself shortly after our move to Boston. We headed out one evening to climb Mount Wachusett, and since finishing this quilt top felt a bit like climbing a mountain, I thought I’d schlep it up there with me.

single girl in the wind

The light was perfect, and the top of the mountain gave us the most amazing views. It was a bit windy, and I think I put my quilt holders to the test, especially as I kept directing them to “just ONE MORE spot” for photos. Thanks so much to my mom, Justin, and Liv for putting up with me!

quilt and tower

At the top of the mountain there are 360 degree views, and an industrial looking tower that was just gorgeous, and provided a nice platform for holding the quilt.

tower supports


There were also a bunch of grasshoppers hanging around, and we spotted a frog lounging in the pond on top of the mountain.


frog in the pond


Simon loves hiking and climbing, and he stayed a few steps ahead of us all on the way up and down.


As you can see, he’s a very fashionable dog, with cans of dog food on his collar. He loves his wet food!

Simon's dog food collar

I just couldn’t help myself, and took about a million pictures. There was something so ethereal about a night like this, with the light just right, hanging out on top of a mountain with family and a new favorite quilt.

single girl 1

single girl 6

Call me crazy, but I’m planning to hand quilt this beast over the winter. I’m almost done hand quilting my lap quilt, and I am loving how slow and deliberate it is to quilt by hand. Plus, I think I will back this one in voile, which I have found makes for VERY pleasant hand quilting. I managed to snag some from Pink Castle Fabric for a great price before it sold out, and I’m so glad I did– if you ever have a chance to hand quilt with voile, do it!!

single girl closeup

I’m sure I’ll be sharing some process pics as I work on this over the next few months. I’m so glad it’s finally ready to quilt!! It took more patience than any other project I’ve attempted, but it was well worth it, and I can’t wait to put this on our bed in the spring!

single girl on the rocks

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tee instructions from class

Last week was my birthday– I finally left my 20’s behind! The week was so much fun and it just flew by! On Tuesday, I took a class with Rae on how to make a t-shirt. I was really looking forward to this class, because you bring in your favorite t-shirt and learn how to make a pattern from it to make a new one.

Rae showing us how its done

This is the first wearable item I’ve made, and I won’t lie– it was a little scary at times! Especially when I was putting in the neckband. But everything worked out fine, and now I have a new shirt that fits perfectly!

side view of my first tee

new tee + favorite bag

The next day I headed out to the park with my mom to take some photos (thanks Mom!), and awkwardly modeled my new shirt (plus, you can catch a peek of a quilt and some new pillows I plan to blog about soon).

modeling my new tee with some of my new pillow covers

We also made time to stop at my favorite thrift shop, and I found this jadeite casserole dish to add to my jadeite collection!

jadeite casserole dish

And we stopped by Pot + Box, the studio/shop where my t-shirt class was held. They have the most beautiful displays and plants for sale, and my mom and I both ended up splurging on some new jewelry.

succlents in the toolbox


pot and box

low maintenance cacti

jewely at pot and box

air ferns
In all, it was a VERY fun week 🙂 I hope all birthday weeks turn out this well!

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Working on my single girl!
Working on my Single Girl!

Things have been busy around here– lots of sewing going on, mostly on the weekends (I have some new quilts to share soon!). Plus, I am aiming to finish my dissertation in the next few months, so LOTS of working/writing happening behind the scenes! That’s why I have been in love with the idea of sharing a few snapshots here and there of what’s happening around here– sometimes I get caught up in the idea of writing a full post about a finished project that it’s hard to find the time to blog, but I always have so many little things going on that I’d love to share. Also– ever since I discovered how to use my instagram app on my phone, I’ve been better at documenting the little things!

I have been…

Baking blueberry cake (you can find the recipe here)

Organizing my office:

Documenting some graffiti around town while I walk Simon:

Graffiti on the morning walk

As well as some very cool sidewalk art:

Sluggo's valentines day

Hitting up the gym– time to get back in shape after my convalescence!

@ the gym

Working on some new projects:

And hanging out with this guy:

What have you all been up to?

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Sewing needle

At the moment my blog feels like a long lost friend! I’ve been working behind the scenes on quite a few handmade gifts that I’ll be blogging about once they’ve been gifted! As I’ve been working on gifts and thinking about what to give everyone for the holidays, I keep coming back to the idea of making a donation or giving to a good cause as a gift. This is something J and I have done in the past, and one of our favorite ways to do so was through Kiva, an organization that makes micro loans to individuals trying to support themselves by building their small businesses. I love this idea, and I think that linking individuals making small donations directly with people seeking out loans to build small businesses is genius!

I also love the idea of making small donations to people in the U.S. who are in need. So I was really excited when my friend Annelise asked if I’d be interested in making a donation (funded by Lands End) and blogging about it! Annelise introduced me to the website Donor’s Choose, an online charitable giving website that makes it easy for anyone to dontate funds to students in need. Thousands of teachers use DonorsChoose to request funding for projects, and I was able to find a sewing program to support with my donation! I was drawn to the request of a teacher in Washington who is teaching middle schoolers about sewing basics; she wants students to be able to repair their own clothing and to have basic sewing skills.

Mrs. Beier, the teacher requesting the funds, writes:
“Remember the days when everyone took home economics? Everyone learned to sew–or at least learned to sew on a button? Well, our kids don’t get that opportunity unless their mom or dad happens to know how (and if they are not working 2+ jobs). I take home many torn garments, or one with missing buttons, just so my students can use them–especially with our families becoming more and more impoverished. With No Child Left Behind, we concentrate on core subjects only and are not teaching our kids the basic skills needed for living. And, in that we are a “green” school, students are being taught and encouraged to think and act “green.” With these materials (and my own personal machine) I intend to start an afterschool program where kids will learn beginning sewing–yes, “the button” and how to sew up that seam they ripped out–but also, how to make book covers, backpacks, totes and other items that middle school students love. They’ll be using math, reading, and speaking along the way.”

You can read more about the classroom here. And, if you’d like a chance to win a $25 gift certificate to make your own gift donation, head over to Quarterlife Lifestyle to enter! Even if you don’t win the “free” money to donate, I definitely endorse supporting education (particularly crafty education!), and I think this could make such a great holiday gift. It would be very cool to find and donate to a project on behalf of a friend or family member based on their interests (for example, if you have an uncle who is a retired math teacher, search the site for math programs looking for funding! Or in my case, the gift of sewing supplies for classrooms that need them is awesome). There are a lot of good things about the holiday season– the decorations, the food, the gift making and buying… but there’s really nothing quite so good as the gift giving!

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Source: theplaidscottie.com via Natalie on Pinterest

The days have just been flying by, and sadly work has been taking up more of my time than I’d like. I have a couple of finished quilts I’m planning to share soon, but this weekend I’m heading off to the Sewing Summit! My finished quilts will have to wait until I return 🙂 In the meantime, though, I thought I’d share a little food and sewing inspiration with you all! I love spending a few minutes over on pinterest, it often helps me dream up new projects and meals I hope to make in the future! (Now if only it could help me dream up more time for the projects!).

Source: flickr.com via Natalie on Pinterest

Source: sugarcooking.blogspot.com via Ambiturner on Pinterest

Source: flickr.com via Natalie on Pinterest

I’ll be back soon with an update about the Sewing Summit and new quilts to share!

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fabric stack

Things have been a little busy around my house lately– my sisters were visiting from out of town (I was so sad to see them leave this morning!), and while they were here I wrangled Liv (my younger sis) to fold the rest of my fabric for me! She’s just started sewing, and is already able to identify lines of fabric and designers! I promised her a little fabric in return for her help 🙂

As we were organizing my stash, and I was taking note of the many, many projects building up, I thought it was time for a really realistic check-in with my projects. I don’t usually put this all out there, because I tend to be working on so many things at once it feels overwhelming to actually write them all down! But, work is picking up a bit and I really need to prioritize my projects.

fabric color inspiration

Before I spill the beans about everything I’ve got going on, I snapped a few pics of fabric I pulled for a new quilt. I started with the 4 fabrics (in the pic above) from Heather Ross’s far far away 2 line. I didn’t actually use these in the quilt– but I loved the color combo so much I wanted it to guide my fabric choices. I’d been wanting to do something with orange in it, and this really helped shape the palate.

So, then I broke each color out individually and found fabrics that stayed pretty true to that tone:





Then, (and here’s a true work in progress shot!) I cut them all up. And I’ve been sewing them together, and should have a new quilt to show you soon!

In progress

I also finished the binding on my flea market fancy quilt– I have the big reveal of the whole quilt (which I realize I haven’t yet shown!) later this week.

almost finished

So, here’s the damage–

Things I need to finish soon:
1. Do. Good Stitches Bee Blocks
2. For the love of solids swap items (this is half done, and I have a plan for the rest!)
3. Habitat challenge blocks for the Ann Arbor Modern Quilt Guild (due at our next meeting… next week!)

Things I have in progress, but that don’t have an immediate “due date”:
4. Felted scarves (a custom order– one blue, one green)
5. Felted scarves for the fall craft show
6. Ocean inspired quilt (commissioned for a wedding– needs to be done by the end of September. All the fabric’s cut, just needs to be sewn)
7. Binding on 2 baby quilts for my etsy shop (yep, just the bindings are left. Almost finished!)
8. Throw quilt using the fabrics pictured above! (all blocks are made, just need to be squared and sewn together)
9. Wall hanging for my mom (blocks are made, and need to be squared)
10. Hope valley filmstrip quilt (all the pieces are cut– just need to sew them together!)
11. curtains for my living room (fabric is ready to be cut, and I keep imagining how good it will look when they’re done!)
12. Scrappy quilt (I pulled out all the scraps I want to use for this one and totally know (in my head) what it will look like– just need to get sewing!)

Argh, it sounds like a lot, but I always manage to get things done! I think it helps to be realistic about the WIP list– last night I sketched out 3 new quilt designs I’d love to try, but clearly I need to focus some attention on my current projects first! My ideas always seem to outpace my ability to sew them– Does anyone else have this problem?

Also– one last thing– Lee (from Freshly Pieced, who hosts the WIP Wednesday each week) has entered a design in the connecting threads fabric design contest, and she needs votes for her design! You can find her design (“Flourish,” by Lee Heinrich) here. Check it out if you have a chance!

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