Tuesday, May 15, 2018

My Thoughts on Sustainable Modern Quilting

Class sample silk pillow on couch next to one of my favorite lap quilts, both from Jacquie Gering classes

Later this year, I will be joining the Boulder Modern Quilt Guild as a guest judge in their show "An Exploration in Sustainable Modern Quilting". This show of sustainable modern quilts will hang from October 2018 through December 2018 in the Sustainability, Energy and Environment Community on the campus of the University of Colorado, Boulder.

As per the BMQG, "The vision for An Exploration in Sustainable Modern Quilting is to challenge quilters and our community to view and interpret what a modern quilt is and apply sustainable, environmentally friendly, materials and practices to create a functional quilt.The gallery show will allow quilters in the Colorado Front Range communities to have their work recognized for innovation and sustainable construction."

Part of the process leading up to the show is to reflect upon and think about sustainable quilting practices and one of my charges was to put together some of these thoughts and share some ideas for sustainable quilting. I initially was asked about this before Quiltcon and it dovetailed nicely with a discussion started by Scarlet Kumquat,  about the waste generated by quilters, here in the US and abroad in the textile factories that manufacture the fabrics we use to make our quilts.

Although I didn't specifically hear/ overhear/ or attend a discussions/lectures on sustainability practices,  there were several outstanding examples of quilts using up-cycled materials. The Pasadena Event Center had well placed paper and plastic recycling containers and refillable water stations for all those intrepid quilters and visitors that brought their own water bottles.  My own contribution to the sustainability movement , separate from my water bottle, was a small one, but given the number of people that took classes at Quiltcon, and who take quilting classes at other venues as well as online the cumulative positive effect of this small consideration could have a much greater impact.

Consider this: while prepping 6-12 x 18"  and 1-24 x 24" fabric sandwiches for a walking foot quilting class with Jacquie Gering,  I gave serious thought to the fabrics I was pulling from my stash. My class was all day and if I was going to spend the time leaning novel (to me) quilting techniques from the walking foot master, I wanted to make something usable from those class samples.  I suspect there are many of us, that once a class is done, relegate our class work/samples to a drawer or even to the dustbin. It was my goal to not only learn some cool quilting, but to actually make something useful in the process. The 12 x 18" samples became  reversible placemats (one set of 2 and one set of 4) and the larger sample, which I actually stitched out of remnant silk, became a gorgeous 20 x 20" throw pillow (to go with a soon to be completed quilt) for my daughter.  It didn't take a significant amount of additional time to prep and pull stash fabric to guarantee that my class samples became something more than just class samples. I had all the materials I needed; used batting trimmed and saved from projects just like this from larger quilt projects,  having to add only binding from stash fabric and a pillow form (that I already had) once I returned back to Colorado. Keeping with the sustainability theme the pillow back is made from remnant silk fabric I acquired from my once globe trotting mother in law, finished with a simple envelope back so that I didn't have to purchase a zipper. 
Front showing walking foot quilting

Added design to my walking foot class sample. Done in contrasting thread to see the stitching.

Pillow back made from remnant silk fabric

I'm just one quilter, and likely not the first to purposely pull fabrics for a class that were destined to be something more. But, I believe if we all give a little extra consideration to the process of learning, we could incorporate class samples and UFO's  into our sustainable quilting practices and make them part of the solution. 

So next time you find yourself pulling fabric for a class, think about the afterlife of your samples and give them a little love by reincarnating them into useful items to use or to gift. 
reversible class sample placements

each has a different walking foot quilting sample learned in class

Side note: for those fabric scraps and batting remnants that are just too small to use (some of you would likely disagree with this statement and I applaud the dissenters), here are some easy things to do that will keep them out of landfill. 
      1. Contact your municipal compost provider.  Many cities will compost 100% natural fibers  like cotton, linen, silk and wool.
      2. Consider donating larger cotton scraps to the Social Justice Sewing Academy . I keep a USPS prepaid box in my sewing room and place scraps from WIP's in the box. Once the box is full I mail it to them.
      3. There are lovely folks out there that make dog bedding for shelters and stuff them full of fabric scraps. It makes for a warm and comforting place to sleep for our furry friends and is another great use for fabric scraps. Search on line or check with your local shelters to locate the generous souls making these pet beds near you. 
      4. Don't forget to give your selvedges to those folks that want them. Find yourself a few IG friends that collect selvedges and once you have a significant amount package them up and send them to a new home. I once thought I wanted to sew selvedges, now, not so much. Just ask, you'll find takers.

If you have additional ideas, please leave them in the comments. I'll have a follow up post if I get some good ones. 

If you're making your quilts/other items from up-cycled clothing and other previously used materials, and share your creations on IG, please use the #secondchancemakes hashtag so we can all be inspired to consider other possibilities when we endeavor to begin our own creations.  

Monday, May 7, 2018

Pantone 2018- Ultraviolet

The 2018 Pantone Color of the year is Ultraviolet. The Pantone color of the year quilt challenge is hosted by Bryan House Quilts and No Hats Quilts.

I don't typically work with "purples" but I had the opportunity to to make a mini as part of the Mini Quilt Swap run through the Modern Quilt Guild for QuiltCon 2018.
My partner loves purples, so pairing it with some neutrals and some shocking turquoise and lime, off I went.
I added some hand stitching to the improv mini and even some fringe (that was fun).

I got all the way to California before I realized that I hadn't photographed the quilt. So, not the best photo, but it's the only one I have.
Mauvéine  (about 24" x 24")

Here is what we swapped. Shelly Gilliland was my partner. You can tell we both loved what our partners made. 

In case any of you are wondering about the quilts name: Mauvèine- The name comes from a young British chemist, William Perkin who was trying to synthesize quinine in the lab. Instead he ended up making the first aniline dye, known as Perkins Purple, aniline purple, or mauvèine. Prior to this discovery, the dye was extracted by harvesting and processing (in lead vats) millions of marine snails (Bolinus branderis). By synthesizing this "royal dye" he not only made the color available to the masses, but also saved the lives of millions of snails. 
photo from Wikipedia

Good luck to all the purple quilt makers out there. There are some gorgeous ones to look at and admire in the linky party!

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Winner "On your mark, create hop!"

The winner of the FQ bundle of Simone's great fabric is Jill Good (IG commenter). 
Thanks to everyone who participated and left fun comments! I loved reading them all.
Jill, DM me your address and I'll make sure you're bundle is on it's way to you.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

On your Mark Blog Hop

I've got to meet some really interesting people earlier this year and it's my pleasure to be able to talk about and create with a new fabric line by Simone Bradford call "On Your Mark", produced by Paintbrush Studio Fabrics. Simone is a talented quilter and seamstress and we got to meet in person at Quiltcon where she was sporting some really fun clothing and accessories made with her new fabric line.

Because I was admiring some of the clothing Simone and the designers at Indigo Junction made with her fabric, and because I'm making a bunch of clothes these days, I thought I'd go that route, making myself something fun for spring, with some design twists that could be replicated at home, should anyone desire to make a fun skirt for themselves.

I started with a self-drafted A-line skirt pattern and a few yards of On Your Mark in this color way.

The skirt is a classic silhouette, in a knee skimming length, perfect for spring in Colorado, when the weather can be sandals one day and boots the next.

Using the repetitive design in the background fabric as an element, I cut into the fabric adding small snippets of contrasting colors from Simone's line as focal points. I placed these fabrics on both the front and the back, because it's my personal opinion that your garment should look good coming and going. Because I wanted the placement to be specific, I didn't add the contrasting fabric until after the skirt was finished, but depending on how comfortable you are with this technique (which is prepped like the initial steps in a welted pocket, but curved), you certainly could try first and then use that modified fabric to construct your garment. As a design alternative, these shapes could be added as an appliqué feature, but my preference in garments is a more tailored look, hence the use of an inset element instead of an appliquéd one.

If you want to try my method then do this:
1. Using the fabric pattern as your guide, trace the cut line then cut along this line following the  design along the curve.

 2. Stop 1/2" from the ends and clip at a 45 degree angle to where you want your curve to end (again, I used the pattern on the fabric as my guide).

 3. Clip curves and corners and iron the fabric to the back.

 I use a little bit of glue to hold those tiny fabric snips in place, but you could also use starch.    

Ironing the concave curve is easier than ironing the convex curve. Take your time and overlap the clipped corners to get a nice shape.

4. The contrasting colored fabric of your choice is then added to the back, glue-basted to keep things from moving.

5.  Stitch in place via a very skinny seam on the front of the fabric. Using complimentary thread makes this step almost invisible.

6. The stitch line is hard to see because the thread color was chosen to purposely disguise it.

These insets are small, about 2.5 inches across and about 1/2" in width. 

I up-cycled a old button in black and white plaid for the back waistband

 and used an exposed metal zipper that stands out just the right amount.

Hiding, but equally as fun is a right sided (I'm right handed) pocket hidden in the side seam allowance. The pocket is lined in a contrasting fabric (see below for the fabric pattern numbers)  and stay stitched to the skirt front panel to keep it from moving without adding bulk to the design when in use.
You can see the right sided pocket in contrasting fabric from the side.
All the fabrics were pre-washed to prevent bleeding and for shrinkage control. 

You could easily choose any of Simone's prints for your creation, making it personal to suit your wardrobe and the colors you prefer. Each contrasting inset uses only snippets of fabric, so you don't add much to the overall cost by purchasing small amounts, or if your design dictates and you want to be economical, using the same fabric for all the insets.

If you want to try something similar, I used the following fabrics from the On Your Mark line in this project based on my self drafted pattern:
120-10771 (1.5 yards, skirt)
120-10782 (FQ, skirt pocket)
120-10762/10741/10742/10762 (charm square each, skirt insets)

In addition I used a 7" metal zipper and a up-cycled button, complimentary thread in black.
Depending on the pattern you choose, you should follow the recommendations and yardage on the  back side of your pattern envelope for the best possible outcome.

What I love most about this fabric is it's versatility.  You know you have a great line when you can make equally lovely quilted items and clothing!

Paintbrush Studios is generously donating a FQ bundle of some of Simone's On Your Mark line to each blogger to give away.  Leave me a comment here, or on my IG feed about this project and I will pick one lucky winner at the completion of the blog hop! Tell me what you would make with Simone's fabulous fabric -  "On Your Mark", get set GO! (leave a comment!!).

Here are the other makers. Go visit them and enter their giveaways to increase your chances of winning.

Tuesday, April 17: Simone @simone.g.b   https://www.simonebradford.com
Wednesday, April 18: Elizabeth @occasionalpiecequiltOPQuilt
Thursday, April 19: ME
Friday, April 20: Linda @quiltlady63
Saturday, April 21: Joan@alaskanquilter
Sunday, April 22: Carol @carolanngillen
Monday, April 23: Sarah @nohatsquilts
Tuesday, April 24: Afton @quiltingmodQuilting Mod
Wednesday, April 25: Alison @quiltstudio62
Thursday, April 26@pbstudiofabricsInspired by Fabric

Friday, March 16, 2018

March Madness with Paint Brush Studios 2018

You may also be a basketball fan, but if you're reading this you're also a quilter and a fan of fabric (I mean who isn't). Paintbrush studios is doing this fun event again with 16 paired fabric bundles from 16 unique quilters and designers.


Inspiration/story: This bundle reflects the door, window and building colors from a recent trip to Cartagena, Colombia. That city glows with a vibrant Caribbean vibe that is ever so slightly muted by the bright equatorial sun. 

 I used a photograph of one of the many doors from the old city and cut triangles of my fabric choices to make a mini banner to decorate the door, strung with Aurifil 30 weight cotton thread. For a better look at those yummy solids scroll down a bit. (The photo before cropping is at the bottom of this post-no I didn't bring a pretty banner on my trip.)

You can vote once a day in each of the 3 venues.

Pick your favorite color combination and cheer them all the way to the final "game". Voting through the last day puts you in the running for a FQ bundle of the winning fabric. 4 very lucky people will be selected and their winning FQ bundle will come directly from Paintbrush Studio. 
So go ahead and comment here, but remember only the comments on Paintbrush Studios blog, IG and FB accounts "count". 

***Voting runs Sunday, March 18th through Monday, April 1st***


You'll need this visual to VOTE, "beauty" shots will only found on the quilters feeds. 

"The before"
 I don't know, this cracks me up.......

Good Luck everyone

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

I am Mighty Lucky

December is my month- come learn all about "Pulling from the Past" right here. Members just sign in, or you can join for the month!

I will be giving away the 2 mini quilts featured in the projects section. You have to be a Mighty Lucky Quilting Club member to win. Stay tuned for details. It's not too late to join in on the fun.

When you are sewing along and creating, please make sure to tag your makes #mightylucky and please tag me too @spontaneousthreads

Have fun!

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Improv Blog Hop Winner

Brenda your comment was chosen by Mr. Random for the Improv Blog Hop Giveaway!!!

"I really enjoyed your post on this lovely quilt. I have never considered using wool and it is a fantastic choice, especially for the car. So thank you for enlightening my quilting fabric choices. I have to have something to drink in the car and always have a gallon of fresh water available. Have a great day! "

You are the lucky winner of  a curated FQ bundle of Amy Friend's Improv fabric.  I've sent you an email with further details. Congratulations!!

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

{I am} Along for the Ride

I was honored when Amy Friend (During Quiet Time) asked me if I would create something with her new Improv fabric line by Benartex.   I wanted to do something unexpected, knowing that I was also under a bit of a deadline. After receiving my Improv fabric my original idea flew out the window. The  fabric patterns I chose are modern prints but also read as solids from a distance. That alone solidified the idea that became my project. I did need one other ingredient.

I high tailed it over to Denver Fabrics and after much deliberation, purchased a lovely Italian 100% merino wool; a gray and cream herringbone. Not going to lie, it was expensive, but incredibly soft, light weight and will be very warm. I chose this particular wool because it was the perfect compliment to my selection of colors from Amy's gorgeous Improv fabric line.  My Improv palette is decidedly feminine with raspberry, lime and shades of gray with the dominant print reading as white/off-white. The contrast of a lovely, soft wool with the fresh, feminine prints was exactly what I wanted.

I chose as my project, a car quilt- the perfect hybrid of both quilt and blanket.  (My husband smiled at this- the irony of making a hybrid car quilt specifically for my hybrid car was not lost on him).  This quilt is modern and fun while also being soft and warm. To make the perfect modern car quilt you need 2 things:  a fun pieced modern quilt top design made with Improv cotton fabric (one side)  and soft and warm merino wool on the reverse.

The pieced cotton top is simple and bold, showcasing 9 of the fabrics from the Improv line: (from left to right) Patches (White/light gray), Twisted Screen (Citron), Beans Crosshatch (Citron), Molehills (Citron), Triangle Toss (Deep Rose), Patches (Rose), Triangle toss (dark Gray), Twisted Screen (Gray), Beans Crosshatch (Gray)

Simple, straight line hand quilting was accomplished with 6 different colors and 2 different types of thread keeping the inherent softness and drape of this quilt. Most of the thread is 12 wt Sulky 100% cotton quilting thread in off white, 3 different light to medium grays and one pale celery green.  The 6th thread is Coats and Clark  retroreflective Signal Thread (large cone in photo below). This last thread is a strategic addition to this quilt. The inherent reflective qualities of this tread combined with the fabrics make this quilt not only warm but also safe.

Any light (say incoming headlights) bouncing off the quilt will immediately make the quilt visible in the dark. Depending on the circumstances, this quilt could save your life. (That's the best endorsement for making a car quilt, in my opinion).

Before going into the nitty-gritty remember this is a week long blog-hop. Here is the line-up.

Wednesday: Sharon @Color Girl Quilts
Thursday: Charise @Charise Creates
Friday: Nicole @Wild Boho
Saturday: AnneMarie @Gen X Quilters

The hybrid Car Quilt details:

"Along for the Ride"
Soft and wrinkly after washing.
The top and bottom fringe are a nod to its "blanket" roots.
60" x 60"
Top: Original design, pieced top using 100% cotton "Improv" Fabric by Amy Friend for Benartex.
Back: 100% Italian wool, pre-washed (see notes below) and fringed.
Because the wool has loft, nearly all of the stitching is invisible on the back. 

Hand quilted, from the back (using the herringbone's linear registration lines as guide lines for the hand-quilting), using cotton and reflective threads.
The retroreflective Signal thread reads "white"  ( photo taken with flash on).
The thread is light gray in daylight.

Machine washable, line dry.

Think about making one of your own? I'm certain that many of us have the necessary materials already in our sewing rooms.

A (not really a tutorial) Tutorial:

1. A finished quilt top made with soft and beautiful Improv fabric. This fabric is versatile and a perfect choice for many patterns including one of your own making. If you keep your car quilt to 60" x 60", fitting the backing fabric will be easy, especially since most garment wools are 60" wide.  For my top, I used the 3 gray FQ's for the left side and 1 1/2 yards of the white/off-white fabric for the remainder of the top. Sewing the FQ along their short side made a pieced section the same length as the single piece of Patches (white/light-gray). I then drew 3 elongated oval templates and traced them on the quilt top as shown in the overall photo. Using the technique discussed here in an earlier blog post, I added the 3 greens in descending color intensity (using a FQ of each color). Finally, I used the same smallest oval template to add the 2 raspberry highlights. This quilt has only 14 seams on the top, and can easily be pieced in a day.
2. Backing of your choosing, keeping in mind  natural fibers like wool shrink when washed. The backing doesn't have to be merino wool, it could be cashmere, or fleece. A woven wool makes lovely fringe, but a boiled wool would also work. Selecting a natural fiber for the back that is durable and warm is the whole idea behind this hybrid car quilt, as the backing fabric takes the place of the batting and  cotton backing of a traditional quilt.
3. Sewing machine, thread, scissors, misc. sewing supplies.
4. Wash and dry your backing especially if your using a natural fiber like wool. You can block your wool, after washing to square, paying special attention to the parallel finished edges.
5. Trim square the 2 cut edges on each end of your backing fabric.
6. Stitch 1" from each cut edge and then gently unpick the weave to create fringe. If you don't want fringe you can skip this step, but I think the fringe really makes this the hybrid quilt/blanket that you'd want for your car.
7. Lay the back out on a flat surface, wrong side up and lay the top over the back, right side up.
8. Pin baste.
9. As carefully as possible fold under the raw edges of the top so that it covers the back, leaving just a little of the finished edges and all of the fringe, pin with straight (garment) pins.
10. Stitch top to back along outer edges, removing straight pins as you go.
11. Hand quilt or tie your top to the back to retain softness and drape with thread of your choosing. There are some wonderful specialty threads out there including wool, glow in the dark, solar reactive and retroreflective. Think of all the fun you can have just figuring out what thread to use.
12. IF you decide to quilt your car quilt by machine,  lengthen your stitch and use a walking foot. Skip steps 9 and 10 above and start by quilting top to back leaving at least 1" of all the outer edges un-quilted. Tuck in the raw edges of the top after trimming to size and then complete step 10. If you have chosen a simple linear quilting design like me, the edge stitching, anchoring the side edges of the top and the back, will compliment the overall design eliminating the need to go back and finish any further machine quilting.

I can't think of a better was to finish this post than with a generous give away by Benartex celebrating this new and lovely Improv fabric line by Amy Friend.

  • One winner will receive a curated fat quarter bundle of a selection of some on the prints in the Improv fabric line.  Each blogger is giving away a FQ bundle, so please make sure to visit each and follow their rules for eligibility.
  • To be entered to win, you need to leave a comment here on my blog. Tell me the one thing in your car you couldn't do without. 
  • The giveaway is open till July 14th at midnight. Winner chosen at random on July 15th and announced here and on IG (@spontaneousthreads)
  • If you comment make sure I can contact you if you win. Failure to do so will result in another person being chosen as a winner. If you are a no-reply blogger please your email address and IG handle in your comment.
  • Anyone can comment, but only US residents can win. 

**** I purchased 6" more wool than the finished size for my final project. Because car quilts get dirty and need to be washed , I pre-washed and air dried the wool fabric to guarantee that I wouldn't have to commit to a future of dry-cleaning. It's risky doing this with dry clean only fabric, but I've done it in the past with success-  this time, I lost about 4" overall due to shrinkage. If you want to consider something other than wool for the back, keep in mind that it's hand will affect the drape and warmth of the overall design. There are no wrong choices!

If using a woven wool, after the wool fabric dried, it was squared up and I carefully stitched a tight straight line 1" from each cut edge and picked out the cross woven gray fabric to create cream fringe.