Christa’s Soapbox – Defining My Style

We took a quick trip this weekend to Knott’s Berry Farm so the kids could ride some roller coasters and we could have a fun little getaway.

Knott's Berry Farm

Knott’s Berry Farm

During the drive, and most of the time Jason and I were in line, we spent a lot of time talking business. We discussed our plans for the future, goals for our store, and most of all, what styles of quilting and fabrics I want to pursue.

First Quilts

First Quilts

I’ve been trying to find style or my “voice” for quite a while now. I’ve been quilting for nearly 19 years and started off very traditional. The first quilt I ever made was a flannel 9 patch and the second quilt I made was a scrappy log cabin.

Over the years I have tried nearly every technique or style to see what I like.

I have tried hand applique (too much work), hand quilting (not fast enough), paper piecing in the early 90’s (too messy), paper piecing in the new millenium (much more fun with better tools), art quilts (too abstract), contemporary styles (better), machine applique (now we are onto something here), machine quilting (in love with it) and finally modern quilting (by George, I think we’ve go it!).

My current focus is definitely on modern quilting, yet even within that style I don’t love absolutely everything. I’m not into hexagons, pixelated quilts, or too much improvisation. I really lean toward the “modern traditionalism” side of modern quilting. It’s everything I love about quilting: simple, clean lines, bright clear colors, with lots of negative space to show off gorgeous machine quilting. This style is “safe” enough to satisfy my need for order, yet versatile enough to let my inner artist come out.

First Modern Quilt

First Modern Quilt – Charming Chevrons

Now, how does this translate into what we will carry in our store? I recently read an industry magazine article for quilt shop owners reminding us not to try to be all things to all people. Going after too many “styles,” a shop owner can end up pleasing no one. That’s great advice which I’m taking to heart!

After much talking and soul searching, Jason and I just may have come up with a plan. (By the way, the kids were very well behaved and quiet during the drive – thank goodness for portable electronics!)

We summed up who we are I am in 3 words: Fresh, Modern, Eclectic. It may take a while for this to be apparent in the store, but it’s already showing up in my latest quilts. I feel much happier now that I have a focus, and I love what I do!

Love Quilt

Love Quilt

Sew and Tell Friday – Quilts from Precuts

This week for Sew and Tell Friday, I want to share with you an adorable charm quilt that my mom made, plus a another show-and-tell from our Jolly Jelly Roll do-it-yourself quilt-along.

My mom is a very prolific sewer. She taught me how to sew, and in turn, I introduced her to quilting many years ago. She recently made this adorable quilt top from a Twirl charm pack I gave her. (When you have a mom that sews, fabric always makes a great gift!)

Twirl Charm QuiltMom used a Split 9-Patch pattern variation which just calls for 1 charm pack plus 3/4 yard of border fabric and 1/2  yard of sashing fabric. You basically sew together four nine-patches (using 36 charm squares), cut them into fours, and insert a 1 1/2″ strip of sashing in between each block and around the edges to frame it.  The borders are cut 5 inches wide (4 1/2″ finished), so I think you could use 4 more charms in the border corners and then use a leftover charm on the back for your label! Cute, huh??

Hmm… this may have to be a future tutorial…..

Speaking of quilt  tutorials, Mom is also following along making her Jolly Jelly Roll quilt top, but she hasn’t sent me any pictures, yet (hint, hint, Mom!)… However, a bunch of you have. Here’s a picture from Amy S. who’s using the Summersville jelly roll for her quilt blocks.

Summersville Jelly Roll Quilt BlocksDon’t those look yummy? I love her methodology for how she’s going to sew together the blocks. She’s going to throw the strip pairs into a bag and randomly grab 2 blocks at a time to sew together, as long as they are different fabrics. I love it – it’s going to be scrap-a-licious!

Here’s a link to the supply list if you want to grab a jelly roll and start one of these quilts yourself.  I just barely finished sewing my quilt top yesterday in time to blog about it, so I’ll give everyone plenty of time to finish up their tops before we start to quilt them.

Christa’s Quilt Along 1.2 – Jolly Jelly Roll Quilt Blocks

Welcome to week 2 of my Jolly Jelly Roll Quilt Tutorial. You can link back to week 1 here for the supply list. This week we will sew up all of our jelly roll strips into blocks.

Step 1 – First, find yourself a nice relaxing sewing spot.  Next, lay out all of your pretty strips (40 total) and cut each of them in half along the fold so that you have a total of 80 half strips, each measuring 2 1/2 inches wide by approximately 21 inches long. This will give you a better variety to work with. Smaller strips are also easier to handle and sew together.

Relaxing Sewing SpotLay out Your StripsI sewed my strips together with my  Singer Feather-weight last week while  on vacation at the beach. It doesn’t get any better than this!

Step 2 – Group your half-strips into pairs. You’ll be using the same fabric twice each time, so try to mix them up so they are all different. Or you can sew them together totally randomly. Lay your whole stack next to your sewing machine, with pairs rights sides together and sew them together along the length. Try to keep a consistent quarter-inch seam allowance while sewing.

Stack of StripsSewn Strip Pairs

Seams Pressed OpenStep 3 – Press your seams open. I find that the strips lie much flatter, and are much easier to stack and cut when the seams are pressed open. As we will find in a couple of weeks, they are also much easier to machine quilt though.

Make sure there is at least 20″ of useable fabric per strip set, not including selvedges.

You can click on any of the pictures shown to see a larger, detailed view.

Step 4 – Square up the end and cut each strip segment into 4 – 4 1/2″ blocks. There is little waste and with careful cutting, you can get a bonus 2 1/2″ piece at the end of each segment. Save those for now and I’ll figure out something fun to do with them later.Cut into 4 1/2" SegmentsStep 5 – Cut all of your strip sets into blocks exactly the same way. You should be able to cut a total of 160 blocks. You only need 145 blocks for the quilt (if I counted correctly!) Save the leftovers in case of mistakes. I will use some of them on the backside of my quilt.

Stacks of Finished BlocksNext week we will finish the quilt top. We will continue on with basting, easy machine quilting, and binding in subsequent weeks. I like to go at an easy pace so everyone can keep up! Feel free to work ahead if you like and email me pictures of your progress. I’ll feature as many of them as I can during my sew and tell on Fridays!

Also, please post any questions you have about this project and I’ll answer them in the comments section of my blog. Thanks for sewing-along!

Here is the complete Jolly Jelly Roll Quilt-Along Schedule:

Week 1 – Supply ListJolly Jelly Roll Quilt

Week 2 – Sewing the Blocks

Week 3 – Completing the Top

Week 4 – Backing and Basting

Week 5 – Machine Quilting

Week 6 – Machine Binding to Finish