So, I’m back from my guild’s sixth annual “Drop Everything and Just Quilt!” Retreat.
I am tired, but I’m feeling accomplished! I finished the top of my Farmer’s Wife!!! Go me! Why is it ever a good idea to make a quilt top with 111 six-inch blocks, set on point with cornerstones? Please tell me…
All of the blocks were completed before I left, and I had all the setting triangles, sashing, and cornerstones cut out before I set up shop at Haw River State Park. But even with all that preparation, it still took me from Wednesday night until Saturday morning to finish. And that was all I worked on…believe me. I did start a jelly roll quilt afterwards and managed to make all the half-square triangles for that.
Saturday after I had sewn myself silly with the Farmer’s Wife, several of us snuck off to Madison, NC to Stitch Party Quilt Shop. If you’re in the area, do yourself a favor and go there. Kathy (the owner) is a sweet heart and a real help. The shop is truly awesome! I came away with these…
To go with this yardage I purchased several weeks ago from Sewingly Yours in Lewisville, NC.
At my guild’s quilt show in August, I purchased a basket with red, white, and blue fat quarters. I got this to go with those…
This piece of fabric spoke to me, so I came away with three yards of it…
Now I have to decide on the borders for the Farmer’s Wife. The book has plain borders, but I think that really underwhelms the quilt. After all the work that is put in piecing those delightful blocks, I think the borders should be a little more intricate. Carol Doaks has a wonderful book, Carol Doak’s Creative Combinations, that gives wonderful border options that are paper pieced. It comes with a CD that allows you to resize the border blocks and print them out. This is a great addition to your quilting research library – by the way. The holidays are coming. You may want to put this on your gift list for yourself. I’m browsing through this resource to get ideas and finalize my border design. Stay tuned – I’ll keep you informed.
I’m unpacked and prepping for the applique class I’m teaching next week. This weekend I will be in Graham with Mom. It’s time for her follow-up appointment with the hematologist after her iron transfusions. She’s doing so much better and is back teaching her stained-glass classes. I’m hoping and praying for the best. She’s so close to normal again! And I am exceedingly thankful.
I am trying to break free from my stripes addiction, but the pull is strong! I need help buying non-stripes.
I like stripes.
I also realize some quilters don’t.
And I’ve never understood why.
I do have an affinity for fabric that tends to give a quilt “movement.” So, material with swirls and irregular motifs or paisleys play a prominent role in my quilts and my stash. These fabrics tend to make the viewer’s eyes move across the quilt and then up and down it instead of focusing in on only the center. They also go a long way to help disguise any quilting mistakes.
However, for me, striped fabric is one of the most versatile materials that has movement. There’s just so much a quilter can do with it. You have to be careful when you use it, but to me, that extra-step in fabric layout is more than worth it when the quilt top is completed. Some folks may fear that extra step, but if you think about it, quilters have been dealing with stripes on some level all the time. Made a Log Cabin quilt? That’s working with stripes. Made a Rail Fence quilt? Again, you’ve worked with stripes. Sewed two strips of fabric together and then sub-cut into squares to make a four-patch or nine-patch? Stripes.
Trust me. You’ve played with stripes before and you will again.
The first issue that must be dealt with is that striped fabric is that it is directional and directional fabrics are not always suited for all quilt blocks. A directional fabric is defined as fabric that has an obvious an up and down and/or left and right on the outside of the material due to the manufacturing process. It does require some extra planning and additional care when cutting the quilt out. Blocks that are strip pieced may not work because segments cut this way often have to be turned and flipped, so all the stripes may not run the same direction once the block is completed. You must think through the layout and cutting before grabbing that rotary cutter and ruler. In other words, that glass of wine you may have while your quilting? Leave that alone until after everything is cut out.
Another issue you have to think about is the scale of the stripe. In many ways, this is the same characteristic you must consider with any fabric – we know large-scale prints can lose much of their beauty and definition when confined to blocks comprised of small pieces. If the stripes are large, cutting them into two-and-a-half inch blocks may make their beauty dissipate; however, if the stripes are narrow, those two-and-a-half inch blocks can take on great movement and character.
Most stripes are printed to run parallel to the length-wise grain of the fabric (parallel with the selvedge). There is some that will run on the cross-wise grain, and occasionally the stripes will run diagonally on the 45-degree bias angle. The easiest way for me to begin to plan my quilt pieces is to take myself back to the very basics of quilting and use templates.
Most of the time when we read the cutting directions, they will ask us to cut out strips and then sub-cut these into squares or rectangles. With a little practice, we can usually cut those out without templates and have all the stripes running the same way (at least with the squares – I would still recommend templates for the rectangles). If your pattern has setting triangles, often the directions will tell you to cut out a square and then cut the square on the diagonal once or twice. This is where your stripes can get really wonky. They can run horizontal across two ends of your quilt and vertical across the other two ends. If this is the look you’re going for, you’re good to go. But if it’s not, try this – cut out templates the unfinished size of your setting triangle and use this as the pattern to cut out all of them. This takes longer, but it assures you that all your stripes will run in the same direction.
My favorite kind of striped fabric are the border prints. Border prints are fabric with wider stripes that can be used to frame your quilt. It gives the borders more pizazz and looks like you’ve spent tons of time planning that part of your quilt, when it really all it consists of is carefully cutting the stripes apart on the length-wise grain of fabric. It’s really great if you can miter these stripes in the corners so that everything matches up. If not, use cornerstones and go with that. One quilt and pattern designer that takes using border fabrics to a whole new level is Jinny Byer. Go to her website and be prepared to be awed. Border fabric is also great to use with kaleidoscope quilts or for creating columns between vertical rows or sashing for horizontal rows.
Yes, I have used stripes for borders!
I like narrow-striped fabric, too, and not just for pieces of my quilt block. I love to cut the narrow-striped fabric on the bias and use it for binding. This makes the stripes run diagonally along the bias and add that last bit of movement to the very end of the quilt. It’s just another “zip” in the “do-dah” of the quilt.
Give stripes a whirl. You may love them or hate them. You may want to reserve them only for borders or binding.
Or you may find yourself like I do myself: the pull for the stripes is strong…
Love and Stitches,
Sherri and Sam
PS… There will be no blog next week as I will be at the High Point Quilt Guild’s “Drop Everything and Just Quilt!” Annual Retreat with 33 of my closest quilting buddies…Sam’s minding the quilt studio while I’m gone. I know I’m leaving it in good paws.
I had planned a blog on stripes. I like stripes and how they can add movement to blocks and are really handy-dandy to use when planning borders.
And then Vegas happened.
My generation has been somewhat defined by heart-stopping, soul-sucking, emotionally wrenching events. I am a child of the 1960’s and can clearly remember (even as a toddler) seeing the newscasts of the Kennedy assassination. I remember the turmoil of the Summer of Love and the murders of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King., Jr. I remember my parents waking me up in the wee hours of the morning when I was in first grade or so and to watch a grainy black and white TV report of Neil Armstrong walking on the moon.
I can remember where I was when Ronald Regan was shot by John Hinkley, Jr (the Student Center at Elon University). I was in my second trimester of my first pregnancy when the Challenger tragedy occurred.
And I was making copies of a vocabulary test in the teachers’ office when Columbine happened. I was teaching science when 9/11 began.
My generation has seen some serious stuff. And the worst mass shooting in the history of the United States definitely made working with stripes seem a whole lot less important in the scope of everything else that was very important.
In times like this I struggle to try to understand why things like this happen. And I struggle equally hard to try to explain it to others. So I’m going to reflect here with what I told my students after Columbine and the Terror Attacks on the Twin Towers.
There is evil in this world. We could theorize for days on why people are evil and want to hurt others, but that does no one any good and only exhausts you. The fact is that ever since sin entered this world, there has been evil.
It’s up to each of us to counter-act this evil by kindness. Kindness has crossed more borders than any armies and has settled more arguments than any court in any land. Be kind.
If you see an opportunity to do good and make a difference – no matter how small – do it. It has been put in front of you for a reason. You may never know that reason, but that’s okay. You’re only responsible for taking advantage of that opportunity.
I see things differently now than I did even 10 years ago. I worry about the society that my children are now a part of and the one my granddarlings will grow up in. Whether it’s the results of a never-ending 24-hour news cycle full of talking heads or if in fact the world is just more evil now (or some kind of weird combination of the two), it does certainly seem that there are more people hell-bent on destroying as much and as many as they can. And politicians are not helping. Instead of seeking to calm and unify folks, every jot and tittle are politicized to death. The bodies had not been taken away from the Vegas concert area before cries of gun control (pro and con) were heard and both parties were having finger-pointing contests.
Just. Please. Stop. This type of catastrophe should not be made a talking point of late night television or even Meet the Press type shows. There is a real, hurting, human element here. Quit shoving it out of the way to make your point.
Be kind. Do good. Make a quilt for someone that needs a little extra love. Hug your kids, your grandkids, your significant other, your parents…quit defining this generation as one that spreads derisiveness and hate.
Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.