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Entries in Patchwork (9)

Thursday
Aug222013

Corinne's Thread: Denim Pinwheel Quilt

Did you know that the chocolate chip cookie was a serendipitous discovery? When Ruth Wakefield, owner of the Toll House Inn, ran out of baker’s chocolate, she tossed some semi-sweet chocolate chunks into the batter, hoping they would melt while cooking. Instead of chocolate cookies, what came out of the oven was a delicious surprise, and chocolate chip cookies were born! 

The design for my Denim Pinwheel Quilt was just such a happy accident. We had just gotten in Robert Kaufman’s Railroad Denim, and excited about every fabric in the collection, I sewed up a bunch of combinations for our Big Pinwheel Pillows. As I laid all the sample squares out on the table at our weekly Bee meeting, the reaction was the same all around: These were going to make beautiful pillows, but my gosh, they should also be a quilt! 

And we were right! The quiet complexity that comes from mixing various Railroad Denim stripes gives this quilt such a rich story.  The grid of nuanced color variations is reminiscent of a minimalist painting hanging in a museum, yet the humble denim cloth reminds me of my grandfather’s overalls, all lined up on the hooks beside the door of his farmhouse. The perfect mix of classic and modern.

To make a throw size quilt of your own, we’ve compiled everything you need into our Materials for Denim Pinwheel Quilt kit, including fabrics for the piecing, backing and binding.  Now, I won’t say that this quilt stacks up anywhere close to the chocolate chip cookie in terms of amazing discoveries, but it sure stacks up nice! - Corinne

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Thursday
Jun202013

Corinne's Thread: Big Pinwheel Pillows

Every sewing project has an “aha” moment. Somewhere in the process of pinning, pressing, and seaming there comes a revelation when a useless piece of fabric transforms into something else, something to wear, to use or to simply admire. 

I was struck with several of these moments while piecing these Pinwheel Pillows. From the unexpected way triangles are created from squares to the efficient use of fabrics (only two prints for all three pillow tops!), this project has “aha” written all over it. 

To help make all this magic happen I enlisted some new favorites from Robert Kaufman’s Railroad Denim collection. Because these patterns are woven not printed, the front and reverse sides create a subtle but effective contrast. What a treat to get four prints for the price of two! The pillow backs are finished with the Micro Stripe fabric from the same collection, a soft chambray that seems miraculously at home with just about everything. You can pick up all three of these fabrics, along with the thread and pillow forms you’ll need to finish this project, with our Materials for Big Pinwheel Pillows kit

With all their unexpected twists, these pillows really were a delight to make. I may just surprise myself and whip up three more this weekend! - Corinne

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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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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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