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Entries in Machine Quilting (17)

Thursday
Dec012011

Mini Quilt of the Month, December: Golden Wreath

December marks the end of our year long Mini Quilt of the Month series. It’s been such a fun and informative project for all of us here at The Purl Bee. We’ve learned how to machine appliqué a garden of vegetables, stitch together a bevy of yoyos, and even draft a quilt from an inspiring photograph.  It’s a little sad to see it end but I know we will be referencing many of these skills and techniques for a long time to come.

Since this is the final mini quilt we wanted to combine our favorite aspects of all of the previous project into one last effort. To that end we think December’s Golden Wreath Mini Quilt has it all: an unusual technique, a fun exploration of color, and a small approachable size! As an added plus, it’s a playful reinterpretation of Joelle’s Color Wheel Quilt from her now classic book, Last Minute Patchwork and Quilted Gifts.

We used the golden “Sunbeam” spectrum bundle for this project because, in this blustery cold season, it reminded us of the warm colors of the hearth. However, you could make it in any color spectrum you like, from calming blues to Christmas reds! It’s straightforward and fun to sew even though it involves curved seams, which really aren’t as daunting as you might think.

Thanks and happy sewing!-- Molly

ps- If you’d like to take a look at all the other quilts in this series please click here.

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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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Sunday
Aug282011

Mini Quilt of the Month, August: Piecing a Photograph

When we first caught site of this delightful photo from Jake Messenger in our flickr contacts, all we could talk about was how we could each live in one these adorable huts on the beach of Southwold, England and create our Purl Bee stories from there!  Once we came down to earth our next thougt was that the graphic nature of the image would lend itself perfectly to a quilt.  We felt that the image was modern enough to withstand a bit of abstraction, but romantic enough to hold its own as something soft and sewn.  And let's not forget the fact that all the straight lines made it a perfect candidate for strip piecing, a technique we've been planning to cover in our mini-quilt of the month series.  Did we mention the wonderful color palette as well? We love it!

Admittedly we struggled a bit at first, settling upon a basic method for piecing from a photograph was challenging, there are so many ways to go about it.  But eventually we settled on the method that you find here, and in doing so we also realized that our technique can be easily applied to almost any photograph.

We hope you will enjoy the journey as much as we have!  You can find all of our Mini Quilts right here.

 P.S. Please be sure to visit Jake Messenger's website right here, his flickr page here and his etsy site right here, you won't be disappointed! Thank you Jake for allowing us to use your beautiful photograph!

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