Thursday, January 28, 2010

A flock of blocks

(Submitted by Marje Rhine, American Quilter pattern editor)
I admit it – I am (or was) a scrap saver. Almost no scrap was too small to go into one of my many scrap boxes or bags.

But there were way too many, so as one of my New Year’s resolutions, I decided to pare down my scrap collection. Many went into the garbage – I  don't have the patience to sew all those 2” squares together. I set aside full width-of-fabric strips for a future strip-pieced quilt. Many scraps were cut up into specific sizes for a series of scrappy quilts for charity (maybe I will write more on this later).
The rest were too large to throw out, so I cut them into squares, triangles, and rectangles. I then sewed them together into roughly 8 1/2” x 8 1/2” squares. Some of the squares didn’t lay flat until I steamed them. I didn’t worry about losing points on triangles, or having seams match up. I just had fun sewing them together any which way. From each 8 1/2” square I accurately cut a 7 3/4” x 7 3/4” square.

 I did NOT center the cut square on any part of the pieced square, as I wanted scrappy and funky shapes. Each square was then cut into quarter-square triangles by cutting on both diagonals.

From a black fabric I cut 4 1/8” x 4 1/8” square then cut it on one diagonal to make 2 half square triangles. I stitched these to the sides of a scrappy triangle to make a Flying Geese unit.

There are many ways to sew these together. I already have a row of geese and a Flying Dutchman block. So when I want to do mindless sewing, I will sit down with my scraps and soon will have a flock of blocks to sew into a scrappy and fun quilt.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Circle of Fire - a blue-ribbon winner

Many American Quilter readers wrote to me about our November 2009 cover quilt, Circle of Fire, designed and made by Pat Wolfe of San Diego, California. Some were seeking the source of Pat's black batik background fabric (no longer available, sorry to say), and some just let me know they planned to make this dynamic design. But Pauline Charles of Annville, Pennsylvania, was the first to send me a photo of her quilt: She writes:

"Hi Chris. I have just completed a quilt that I call In the Beginning from the Circle of Fire pattern, on the cover of American Quilter. I entered it in the Pennsylvania Farm Show last weekend and it took a blue ribbon in the machine-quilted wallhanging category. I am very excited! When my magazine arrived, I knew I had to make that quilt. I started it after Thanksgiving and even used it to demonstrate machine piecing at our local quilt show. What fun it was!"

Pauline continues, "I was reading your Sept. 28, 2009 blog entry (written by AQ pattern editor Marje Rhine) describing the size of the hole to cut in the framing piece...after I did it. I followed the directions exactly but walked around the project for several days. I was afraid to cut, as I only had just enough fabric to do it once.
I love your magazine. This is the first, not the last, pattern I have used, too."

Pauline, you did a great job with this pattern! Congratulations on your blue ribbon, and may you win many more in the future. Thank you for sharing your quilt with American Quilter readers.

Monday, January 11, 2010

A new look in the new year

The new year is a great time for fresh starts, so the design/editorial team at American Quilter magazine is delighted to debut a "magazine makeover" with our March 2010 issue. This issue is at the printer now, and will be arriving in your mailbox (if you're an AQS member!) in about two weeks.
What's different? Starting with the cover, you'll notice a fresh, more modern layout and font style. A stunning full quilt or quilt detail photo is presented as a full-page image, rather than just one corner - easier for you to see the stitching and details. The short cover headlines (letting you know what's inside) are grouped in one highlighted area, handy for the 94% of readers who keep and refer to their back issues indefinitely.
There are lots of improvements inside, too. The articles and patterns feature a new "lighter-weight" font. Pattern layouts are simplified, most diagrams are a bit larger, and yardage charts have a softer, cleaner look. At the top of each page of editorial content, you'll see a heading that identifies the page, making it easy to locate articles that "jump" to another page.
But some things have not changed! That includes our emphasis on interesting quilter lifestyle articles, helpful techniques, and distinctive patterns and projects. If you like Carol Taylor's cover quilt, try her technique for creating sheer layered images, all detailed with how-to photos in this issue. Traditional piecers who want to improve their technique will find Jan Krentz's article on eight-point intersections extremely valuable. And of course there's quilt "eye candy," in this case the 20 top winners from the AQS Quilt Expo in Des Moines.
I'd love your feedback after you receive this issue. We listen!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Easy Fabric Dyeing

(Submitted by Kathie R. Kerler, American Quilter magazine contributing editor)
Hand-dyed fabrics are popular among quilters. Some use hand dyes because they like the mottled effect, while others want a gradated range of shades within a single color for a project. Many quilters think only of immersion dyeing and are not familiar with a product called Dye-Na-Flow by Jacquard. This product offers an easy way to dye or color fabric without using tubs or baggies, large quantities of water, or salt and soda ash. Other products may be similar to Dye-Na-Flow, but this is what I have the most experience with. It is available online or at many retail shops.
Dye-Na-Flow is a concentrated liquid color that can be used on any fabric, natural or synthetic. I have colored silk, organza, and most often cotton. After dyeing with Dye-Na-Flow, the hand of the fabric does not change. It remains soft and easy to stitch.
To use, simply mix a small amount of the Dye-Na-Flow concentrate with water in a cup. Tape your fabric down over a sheet of plastic and paint on the color with a sponge brush. It doesn’t take much concentrate to color a large piece of fabric. Add a little Dye-Na-Flow to a small amount of water, maybe ¼ to a ½ cup at a time, until you obtain the intensity desired. Because it doesn’t take much product, the smallest jar at 2.25 oz. lasts a long time. While the manufacturer does not make any claims, I have had some jars for more than ten years, and the product is still fine. The finished fabric is heat set for 2 – 3 minutes with an iron.
You can manipulate the fabric and Dye-Na-Flow for a variety of effects. If you spray the fabric before applying the colors, as I did, they will mix more. You can use salts to create bursts of color. Or you can do what I did on the sample shown here and scrunch up the fabric so that as it dries, the colors pool in the “valleys” and leave striations. This is not an exact science—experiment to get the look you like.