Our kitchen makeover is almost done. One of the few remaining projects is recovering our patchwork bench so that it fits the updated room a little better. The bench sits in our kitchen beside the door to the garage and functions as a mini mud room, with shoes thrown underneath and lunch bags and backpacks on top. During the day when it’s cleared off, it’s a good napping space for cats.
I’m sewing blocks using colors pulled from the kitchen, black from the appliances, dark brown from the newly painted cabinets, gray from the new concrete counters and red from the accents. I’m hoping for an “optical illusion” sort of finished pattern, but I’ll settle for less yellow/more modern. The fabrics are peppered cottons that are especially soft. I’m worried they may not hold up well against the cats. But you know — one of the blessings cats bring to our lives is the gift of learning not to get too attached to “stuff”, right?
Lately I’ve been seeing stars. Lots of stars! Star quilts, specifically.
This one is to keep, made from gorgeous Japanese fabrics sent to me from my friend Kaori, who lives in Chiba.
The star shape was a great compliment to the fabrics, and simple hand stitching really defined it. Oh, I love it!
I enjoyed making it so much that as soon as I was done, I started on one for my little sister in law. She asked for orange, brown and red. I threw in teal and black.
Rows of ombre stitches make a halo effect, so that the star almost twinkles.
And now I’m working on one that will go back to Japan, to Kaori’s daughter, Anna. Hers is getting the same “twinkle treatment”.
Which kind of brings me back to where I started. :) Mine will eventually go up on the quilt wall.
If you’d like to make your own, you can find the Drawn Together foundation paper piecing star pattern in the Little Quilts Book by Sarah Fielke and Amy Lobsiger. (It’s a great book, I plan to make a few more little quilts from it!)
It’s been too long since I posted, but I have been sewing, even if I haven’t been sharing it here. I’ve started on a little wall of quilts in my dining room, opposite my herringbone stenciled wall.
The Wine/Whiskey quilt was made using the My First Alphabet and My First Alphabet: Numbers and Punctuation foundation paper piecing patterns by From Blank Pages on Etsy. I accented it with leftovers from the American Made Brand License Plate Tour, so that it reminds me of how nice it felt to be asked to participate. (And aren’t those colors gorgeous? LOVE them!)
My husband doesn’t listen to country music, so even though he loves Blake Shelton from The Voice, he doesn’t hear the song in his head when he reads the quilt. He does know why I chose it for us, though. :)
Oh, those S’s are HARD! I’m only really pleased with one of them, but I let them ride. I’ve learned that over time, the imperfections in a quilt kind of become endearing to the creator. It’s weird, but mostly true. It’s what you’ll look for, part of how you know it’s yours. It’s good to learn to forgive yourself and move on.
The hashtag quilt was a very simple pattern I found in Fons & Porter’s Scrap Quilts magazine Spring 2014 issue. You can make the top from just a charm pack of solids and less than two yards of white fabric. I think this would make a great baby quilt, boy or girl.
I have a third little quilt made, but it won’t be hung up until I have a couple more done, just for proper placement. For now I’ll just enjoy these, and the process of making the ones to come!
Since I am not a pattern designer, I used a program I’m more familiar with for editing photos, Picmonkey.com, to help me create the West Virginia license plate for the American Made Brand Blog Tour. There are parts of this plate that you may want to personalize, so I’ve explained how I made the different elements in the plate so that you can change them as you like. To make it easier on you if you’d just like to print and get on it with, you’ll find the pieces used in this block here: AMB WV License Plate
Here’s a list of the American Made Brand colors I used, in case you feel inclined to use the same as pictured:
- Forest, Dark Green and Olive for the hexagon land background
- White, Light Aqua and Light Sky for the hexagon sky background
- Dark Yellow for West Virginia
- Light Red for the heart
- White for WV lettering
- And for the border, feel free to use any color or colors you like, or you may prefer to simply extend the hexagons and have no border at all. For truer WV colors, I might have made the border in solid Light Navy. For this plate, (clockwise from upper left) I used Aqua, Dark Turquoise, Dark Aqua, Purple, Dark Blue, Light Navy, Dark Purple, Periwinkle, Dark Fuchsia, Dark Tomato, Orange, Light Yellow and Light Denim.
The background begins with English Paper Piecing using 1″ hexagons. I ordered my template papers from Etsy. If you haven’t done English Paper Piecing before, there’s an excellent tutorial from Jessica at Life Under Quilts that can be found HERE. This is an easy and soothing sewing form that doesn’t require a sewing machine, making it great for travel or even sitting in front of the TV in the evenings.
Lay out your hexagons in rolling hills and blue skies to be sure you like the placement and size, keeping in mind that the finished plate size will be 6.5″ by 12.5″. After sewing them together, I cut my hexies down to 6″x11″ to make room for a bit of border, but you could choose to skip the border and trim to 6.5″ x 12.5″ at this point. Oh, and just a tip about English Paper Piecing — before I use my templates, I use a hole punch on each of them. Then I can easily pop out the templates from the finished piece with a large blunt needle.
Trace the backwards West Virginia outline onto some light, sewable Heat n’ Bond. (Kristin from Sew Mama Sew made a great tutorial for fusing fabric in this way.) Roughly cut the shape out leaving a border of extra paper all the way around and iron to the wrong side of your fabric using the instructions on the package. Once it’s applied to the fabric, trim neatly around the WV border and iron it in place on your background. Stitch carefully around the outline with a very short stitch length about an eighth of an inch inside the border, or using a zigzag stitch that overlaps the edge. Since this is for a “display quilt” that is unlikely to go through a washing machine frequently, if ever, I didn’t worry about the fabric fraying and didn’t overlap the edges.
At this point I added my border. If you’d like to use a solid color border, try Light Navy, as blue and gold are West Virginia’s colors. If using multiple colors, you may want to attach them together as you would binding strips, at a 90 degree angle. I cut my pieces at 3″x3″, leaving lots of room to cut them down to my license size of 6.5″ x 12.5″. I was pretty paranoid that I’d mess something up at that step and was overly cautious. (Just keeping it real, this was the first time a fabric company ever asked me to be involved in anything like this!)
After adding your border, trim down to 6.5″ x 12.5″ and start thinking about how you’d like to decorate your plate. I added a heart from the templates available in Picmonkey to show my love for West Virginia. I sized the heart to about 1.5″ tall, but you may feel free to leave it off, or to add a smaller one over your hometown. For the letters, I traced them in the same way I did the outline of WV (reversed, remember!) using the font “Francois One” found under the “T” (for text) to the left in Picmonkey. I sized them to about 2.5″ tall. (I actually measured the letters on a WV plate to be sure that was right!) I kept things simple with just the “WV” abbreviation, since it’s to be part of a quilt of the 50 states, but you may want to use a word, name or year that has more meaning for you. For instance, if I were making this to keep, maybe in a wall hanging of license plates from states we’ve lived in, I might use “1996” to indicate the year we moved back to WV from my husband’s home state of NC. (For more crafty multiple state love, check here.)
At this point you can add a little more detail to the plate with the words “West Virginia” across the top and “Almost Heaven” across the bottom. Cut the words from your printed sheet, pin it in place,
then stitch right through the paper with a couple strands of embroidery floss. I used the font “La Belle Aurore” from Picmonkey, at a little under an inch tall. Feel free to change up the wording or font, or to leave them off all together as you like. “Wild and Wonderful” is another WV slogan I like. “Open for Business” is a slogan I never cared for, but there it is.
After I finished stitching, I steamed the paper with my iron to make it a bit softer, then very carefully tore it away from the stitching. It’s a pain, but it works. (Tissue paper, tracing paper or an air soluble pen might be better, but I didn’t have any on hand.)
Finish the lower lettering in the same way, and you’ll have a beautiful West Virginia license plate ready to add to your quilting project!
If you make one, I would LOVE to see it!
Welcome to the West Virginia stop of the American Made Brand 50 States Blog Tour! For this tour, a quilting blogger from each state was asked to make a license plate. Each of the finished plates will be sewn together to form one fantastic quilt. I was asked to create a license plate for my home state of West Virginia, and this is what I came up with:
I’ll post a tutorial tomorrow, although please keep in mind that I am NOT a pattern designer. (If you are also NOT a pattern designer but wouldn’t mind creating stuff from your own ideas from time to time, you may be interested in some of the tools and techniques I used.)
When I was first asked to create a license tag for West Virginia, I knew that I wanted to represent the land somehow, and the way West Virginians feel about our home state. (We love it here!) I also really wanted it to look like it could be used as a license plate, if an especially “quilty” one. I kept it simple with English paper pieced hexagons, easy applique and hand embroidery. Also, West Virginia has had kind of a rough time of it lately (did you hear about our water crisis?), so I added a little rainbow-ish border to represent better days ahead. When this plate is stitched into the quilt with the others, it’ll have a thin band of color all around it.
For your viewing pleasure, here are a few of my favorite things from around West Virginia. You may recognize Fiestaware and Blenko Glass, two West Virginia companies whose products I see in my own home and from coast to coast whenever I travel.
American Made Brand is giving away a set of eight fat quarters just to thank you for visiting this blog! To enter, just leave a comment by Sunday evening at midnight (Eastern), June 15. (If you comment before I get up Monday morning, I’ll probably leave you in the running, but I do get up awfully darn early and I don’t want you to miss out.) If you have no idea what to say, just tell me what state you’re from. Actually, this is open to anyone around the world, but if you’re not in the USA they’ll ship to me and I’ll ship to you, so please be patient with us and allow a little time if that’s the case. These are wonderful fabrics, so please enter and get a chance to try them for free!
I was also told that I could give away the leftover fabric once I created my license plate. As a quilter though, I’m used to making something out of the fabric first, then giving it away. So I made placemats (following this tutorial) and a friend of mine is going to deliver them on her regular route with Meals On Wheels.
Giving the fabric away as placemats to people receiving meals seemed like an especially appropriate way to share American Made Brand fabrics. I just picture all the Americans involved in the creation of this fabric, from the farmers to the weavers, dyers and even the truck drivers making sure it all gets where it’s going — surely they’d all be happy to know they helped put a smile on an elderly someone’s face, along with good food in their belly. And placemats are a great way to show off more of the colors in the American Made Brand spectrum, aren’t they?
So, be sure to comment below for a chance to win eight fat quarters of American Made Brand fabrics, and check back tomorrow if you’d like instructions to make a West Virginia plate of your own!
Update: Giveaway has now ended.
While the American Made Brand 50 states blog tour is about to start up, I’m working with my fabric leftovers to make some placemats. I’ll tell you more about it when I’ve got them all finished, but I can share that they’ll be a charity donation meant to bring smiles to some very deserving people, and I felt it was especially appropriate for the spirit of American Made Brand. (They said we could give away leftovers if we liked, and this is how I interpret “giving away.”)
It’s been a joy to work with these fabrics, and I’m especially liking the way they work up in patchwork. The somewhat crisp feel presses and stitches together wonderfully. I can’t wait to wash the finished placemats and see that quilty crinkle!