How to Quilt Concentric Circles
11 hours ago
|This vibrant Grandmother's Flower Garden quilt top was among the pieces packed into a box and overlooked by family members when settling an estate. When it was eventually discovered, one of the family gave the box to her cousin, my quilting friend, Claudia. And Claudia brought the box to our quilting group for us to see and enjoy! To have the opportunity to pore over old quilts and blocks like these is such a treat. Nearly everything in the box (all uncompleted projects) was hand-pieced, which is a study in itself. But examining the fabrics and wondering about the quilter's fabric choices provided endless and enjoyable discussion. We all agreed that this quiltmaker had a sylish color sense. Her quilt tops were bright and happy.|
I plan to do some research to find the names of the other blocks. Most look familiar, but I can't quite come up with the names. However, the block with the four fan units in the corners... that's a new one to me. I don't think I've seen it used in a quilt before. Very pretty, and it just shows how versatile pieced units like fans can be... they can stand alone in Fan blocks, become Wheels or Plates, or form a different block design like this one. I have a copy of Barbara Brackman's Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns that I haven't cracked open in awhile. I'll let you know what I learn, and will show more of these tops and blocks in upcoming posts. What a delightful box of treasures!
|This might look a little scary, but actually it's not a live thing. It's a knitted boa scarf. I haven't knit anything in many years, but at a quilt show this fall I saw a vendor selling the pretty ruffle yarn to make these. Everyone was wearing them, and they looked so soft and appealing that I thought, "I'm sure I could do that!" And it couldn't have been easier. Just 5 stitches across, straight knitting till the skein was gone or the scarf was as long as I wanted it. It's done on bamboo round needles. The yarn is interesting in that it is called "rail" yarn. That means I was knitting into the narrow band that carried the fullest part of the yarn, not into the yarn itself. So it formed lovely soft ruffles as I went.|
|And here are the flourishes. I went into a thrift shop and spotted these two pretty necklaces for just a few dollars. The one at the top has a handy magnifying lens on it. The other one has a handy clip on it. Seeing these two elements reminded me of some sewing tools I bought long ago to add to a chatelaine... but never did. What if I combined the necklaces and the sewing tools?|
|If you love how fabrics combine and play off each other, then a project like this one may appeal to you as much as it did me! It's called a "deconstructed Crazy Quilt" according to our book study of "Fabric Embellishing- The Basics and Beyond" by Ruth Chandler, et. al. The authors have videos and support materials on their own book study site also. This method is easier than a traditional Crazy Quilt (which also merited a chapter of the book, and will have its own blog post here later) in that shapes are cut from fabrics already backed with fusible web. Then they are juxtaposed on a foundation fabric or batting as your muse directs, and can be overlapped as needed. There is no need to make shapes fit the space or to trim to fit as in the traditional method.|
The thing I like best about this design approach is the opportunity to use a lot of decorator fabrics, sheers, and other glitzy fabrics. Because they're stabilized by the fusible product, they're very easy to handle. The biggest precaution is to use a pressing cloth because some of these fabrics can melt, curl or otherwise become distorted from the heat of the iron. And the heat is needed in order to activate the adhesive of the fusible. The pressing cloth solves those concerns. The piece shown above still needs to be stitched using various machine decorative stitches.
|Of course I couldn't stop with just one, and I had a bin full of bright fabrics with fusible web already adehered. So I decided to slice and dice them to make a couple of post cards. The one shown above is done in a complementary color scheme, using orange and blue- opposites on the color wheel. These postcards are great small projects to create as color studies of warm and cool colors, and to try out various color harmonies. And they're great for practicing free-motion machine skills.|
|I did this post card in an analagous color scheme- a range of colors next to each other on the color wheel. In this case, fuchsia, purples, to blues. The surface stitching is done in a variegated metallic and rayon thread. According to color theory, complementary color schemes are vibrant and energized due to the high contrast, while analagous ones are restful and serene. My little post cards seem to bear that out.|
As I worked on these pieces, it reminded me of the technique used in the class project in Carol Taylor's Arc-I-Texture class. The background was constructed in a similar way, but the pieces were fitted together more carefully, and all of the edges were couched. You can see it in this post.
|At our meeting of the book study group, Kay had this fun piece to share. It makes use of a tie-dye look satin and a vibrant flannel fabric. Don't you love how she couched the seams and then knotted the trims for even more surface interest. What a creative idea. And how about those feathers!! The envy of many birds. She stitched them right into the seams.|
|Have you visited Craftsy? It's an online community with the motto of "Learn it.. Make it". You'll find projects, online video classes, and special deals on supplies like jelly rolls and charm squares. It's not just quilting either... there are classes for knitting, crochet, clothing and costume making, and more. One of the latest offerings is a free Craftsy Block-of-the-Month class featuring instructor Amy Gibson. You just need to sign up on the Craftsy site and then enroll in the free class. The Asterisk block above, and the Wonky Pound Sign below are the two 12" blocks for January- the "slash" blocks.|
|The videos are comprehensive, and divided into easy-to-reference chapters. You can watch along while you make the block; or watch and then review as needed when you are ready to cut and sew. At the end of the series, participants will have 20 blocks with which to make a quilt. Amy is a delightful quilter and instructor, and there is a forum where students can post photos of the blocks they are making. That's always a plus because it's inspiring and fun to see what fabrics others are using, and how they may vary the blocks. There are class materials you can print out that have the block patterns, too. I'm trying to avoid over-using my printer though (it seems to have an unquenchable thirst for inks), so my goal is to make the blocks with the videos only.|
|Fabric requirements are based on using fat quarter bundles, or you can use assorted fabrics from your stash. I found this Free Spirit "California Dreaming" fat quarter bundle on eBay, and the vendor was super prompt, so I was ready to jump into this project quickly. But the bundle I purchased has only the 16 fabrics seen in the photo above, and in the two blocks I've completed. More will be needed. I'm combing the shelves to see if I have some compatible prints to use with these. I think the two pictured below, in the background along with one of the Free Spirit prints, will do, don't you? However, I did a major purge of my fabrics recently, so I believe shopping is still in order! I seem to have an unquenchable thirst for fabric.|