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Entries in Kona Cotton (5)

Thursday
May162013

Molly's Sketchbook: Simple Four Square Quilt

I’m not a painter, but I have always imagined that quilt making is a lot like oil painting. Both involve a detailed setup and complex series of steps, yet both tap into a deep well of freedom and creativity.  My sewing projects tend towards the quick, easy and practical, but every once in a while I like to slow down and explore big gestures using the refined techniques of quilting.

This Simple Four Square Quilt crystallizes everything I love about quilt making! It uses traditional block patterns in a decidedly unorthodox way, exploring color and proportionality much like a striking modern painting. I used Robert Kaufman’s Architextures prints, whose simple mechanical drawings I love for their clean freshness. I anchored the prints with a cool gray solid, and for fun, added a hot pop of neon orange dots.

With a project like this, it is important to do all of the steps, from the cutting to the piecing to the pressing, with care. Savor this deliberate process; it is well worth the extra time! The finished quilt is truly something special, an heirloom that is modern, elegant and simply beautiful! --Molly

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Wednesday
Oct242012

Molly's Sketchbook: Buttonhole Napkins

Since 2006 it’s been my Thanksgiving tradition to design a festive set of dinner napkins. (Browse the archive here!) The inspiration for this year’s napkins came from an unlikely place: 35,000 feet in the air!

You see, my husband travels a lot for his job, and that means we usually get upgraded when we fly together. He’s pretty used to it, but I’m still super excited each time it happens, marveling at the free packets of socks and the pre-takeoff champagne. Recently, on one such flight, our dinner arrived (complete with metal cutlery, actual glassware, and tiny salt and pepper shakers!), and I looked over to see that Rafael had somehow attached the cloth napkin to his shirt.

     “How is your napkin staying up like that?” I asked.

     “Oh, the napkins have buttonholes,” he said, nonchalantly. My mind was blown. How had I never heard of this before? I knew what I’d be doing when we got home!

These pretty Buttonhole Napkins are perfect for Thanksgiving because not only are they beautiful and seasonal, but no one will go home with gravy stains on their fancy duds! I used our very special new Liberty Half Yard Napkin Bundle in the "Cranberry" colorway which contains six gorgeously detailed prints in a rich palette of russets, purples, and browns. (The bundle also comes in a "Woodland" coloway in cooler, greener hues.) And for fun, I finished each napkin off with hot pink topstitching and buttonholes!

</p> <h2>Materials </span></span></p> <p><br /></p> <p><br /></p> <p>To make a set of twelve 16-inch square napkins:</p> <ul> <li>A Liberty Half Yard Napkin Bundle. I used

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Sunday
Nov062011

Mini Quilt of the Month, November: Striped Star

My great-great grandmother and her daughter, my great grandmother, were both from Herber Springs, Arkansas, and like many women of their time and place, they were accomplished quilt makers. One of my great-great grandmother's creations, a queen-size quilt with appliquéd sunflowers, hung in my childhood home. I remember spending hours studying its delicate stitches and beautiful colors! We also had a large unfinished quilt top made by my great grandmother. It was comprised of hundreds of tiny cotton feed sack diamonds, all hand sewn together to form a gigantic eight pointed star. Later in life, I learned that this pattern is usually called a "Lone Star". (If you're unfamiliar with the traditional Lone Star quilt pattern, here is a link to a nice example.)

I have always loved this pattern, but I've never sewn one because it usually involves slanted angles and scary "Y" seams. With our Mini Quilt of the Month Series almost finished, I thought now would be the perfect time to tackle this seemingly impossible shape. But since we’re not our great-great grandmothers, I decided to give the pattern a more approachable modern spin, eliminating the "Y" seams and the hundreds of tiny diamonds. Phew!

This Striped Star Mini Quilt is a simple take on a complicated classic. Strip-pieced stripes convey a sense of dimensionality and movement, and a pretty assortment of neutral dots and stripes add a clean, modern aesthetic. The pattern comes together unexpectedly in fascinating puzzle that will delight your quilting mind!

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Sunday
Oct022011

Mini Quilt of the Month, October: Amish Diamond

To the modern eye, early Amish quilts can look more like bold abstract paintings than bed-topping quilts! Dating back to the mid 1800's, Amish quilts used dark jewel-toned, solid wool fabrics and uncomplicated piecing. (Here's a link to a nice gallery of older Amish Quilts. )

One of the most classic Amish piecing patterns is a center diamond where the focal point is a square turned on its corner. This simple pattern is particularly appealing because of its clear, graphic quality and its large blocks of color that seem to vibrate and sing.  Working with just solid colored wool, the early Amish conjured some truly spectacular color schemes (like this one!).

In homage to these vibrant and wild combinations, we chose for our October Mini Quilt of the Month an eclectic mix of solids, from bright Kona Cotton in Coral to heathery Shot Cotton in Lilac .  And since we weren't bound by the same rules as the original Amish quilters, we also threw in a smattering of small dots and subtle prints to round out our beautiful, unruly fabric selections.

I had a real blast throwing my color preferences to the wind, purposefully putting together color combinations that I would normally avoid. The process was so creative and fun! Even the piecing itself is a bit more freewheeling than a normal quilt because you cut the pieces to size as you need them. Plus as an added bonus, once you get this pattern down you can make it any size, from a pin cushion to a queen-size bed! --Molly

PS- If you'd like to see all of the Mini Quilts in our series plese click here.

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Sunday
Sep112011

Mini Quilt of the Month, September: Bright Bits

September's Mini Quilt of the Month is our most playful and risky one yet! And not just because it looks so cool and edgy, but because it's sewn in such a breezy, off-the-cuff manner. As I sliced and pieced, I felt like I was painting with fabric because the process is so improvisational and free. With a rotary cutter for a paintbrush, you get to wield your tool with a wild abandon not usually associated with quilting.

Like our June Rainbow Mini Quilt, this piece takes its inspiration from the remarkable formalist painter, Ellsworth Kelly. This time we turned to an ink drawing from 1950 called Study for "La Combe II" (you can see the painting here.) We all loved its disjointed graphic quality and knew it would translate beautifully to a quilt. By first piecing thin strips of colored fabric at  random angles against a white background and then cutting it all up and piecing it back together in a different order, I think we achieved a similarly bold statement.

It takes a bit of courage to start slicing through the fabric at haphazard angles, but once you get going, it's hard to stop. It's amazing how quickly and easily a few strips of colored fabric can create something so beautiful. The bright, crisp mix of Kona and Shot Cottons makes the whole thing seem so alive, just like a great painting!

ps- You can see our whole Mini Quilt of the Month series by clicking here.

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