Book Review: Improvising Tradition

Just in time for this month’s improvisation theme a new book! Improvising Tradition by Alexandra Ledgerwood gives quilters a guide to easily develop improvisation styled quilts by using familiar traditional quilting patterns. Patterns like log cabin, coins, one patch, and rail fence are given modern makeovers using improvisation techniques.

The book is divided into three sections focusing on three improvisation quilting techniques: strip setting, strata, and splice-and-insert. First, she gives a tutorial with a clear overview of each technique. 

Next, she clearly explains different design options then continues with step-by-step instructions in the subsection called “Here’s How”.  

Afterwards, she follows up in each chapter with a variety of projects using each technique.  There's a total of 18 great projects from full sized quilts to small coasters. (Great ideas for our mini-quilt of the month theme!) 

As a bonus there are tips on free-motion and hand quilting. I especially enjoyed the explanation on her approach to the decision-making process of selecting a quilting design for a quilt. 

New quilters will be able to dive in and get started on making beautiful modern improv quilts with ease. They will find the sewing tips in the beginning of the book very useful. Experienced traditional quilters will be able to use familiar skills to easily venture into modern improvisation.

I saw several projects I want to make, especially the adorable mini coasters using the improv strata technique.

This book is beautifully laid out and well organized with bold color photographs and clearly illustrated color instructions. It even has a helpful index, which is something you don’t see too often in many current quilts books.  It’s a wonderful guide for modern and traditional quilters alike.

Thank you Interweave/F+W for giving this book to our guild to review. Someone will be the lucky winner at our next meeting!  By Secretary Veronica 

Book Review: artfully embroidered: motifs and patterns for bags and more

Artfully Embroidered: Motifs and Patterns for Bags and More
By: Naoko Shimoda
(Interweave/F+W; $24.99; November 2014)
Hello there! Secretary Kelly here to bring you a review of an amazing new embroidery book. I'll be honest, my embroidery skills are weak. I still have a WIP from 1996 of jungle animals waiting to be finished. (One day!) But this book makes me want to stitch all the things with simple yet stunning designs inspired by nature. 

I like how this book is set up-- not only does it have gorgeous embroidery patterns, but it also includes a little pattern to make something with it. Bags, purses, and pouches are used throughout the book. Instructions are clear and well-illustrated for bag construction and for the embroidery stitches themselves. 

Who can't see themselves in an adorable linen skirt with embroidery embellishments around the hem? I don't know, everyone should have a skirt like this!

I could have photographed every page of this book, but I restrained myself. The photos are beautiful, the projects inspired and I hope who ever wins this book at our next PMQG meeting will make me one of these little coin purses! (wink, wink)

Thanks so much to F&W media for sending us a copy of this book to give away. I hope all you stitchers check it out, it is one for your craft library.

Review: Kaleidograph, a fun design tool

We have an interesting little package today that has design fun written all over it. The Kaleidograph is a simple sack of colorful cards with shapes cut out but when you stack and flip the cards then slide them into the holder fun things start to happen.

The kit comes with several solid cards and then a bunch of cut outs in different colors front and back.

Here's a few little designs I played with but the possibilities are endless! Quilt block inspiration here you come! 

This kit is a circle and there is a hexagon kit too, visit their website to play with a virtual toy at  - there is even a community to share the patterns you make. 
This would be great for kids too! 

Try one out at our next sew day and win one at the guild meeting tomorrow! 

Thanks to Kaleidograph Design and Red hen books and toys  for sending us the giveaways! 

DIY Holiday Magazine

Are you the kind of crafter that dabbles? You might sew and knit and make jewelry? Well then F&W Media has a magazine for you. The premier issue of DIY Holiday is out with 25 projects to satisfy all your crafting impulses. 

This magazine has super cute projects to make and give for sewing, quilting, jewelry making, knitting and crochet.

There is even a super cute retro quilt by our own Michelle Freedman! 

Win one of three copies at our holiday meeting on Thursday, December 11—just in time to make some holiday gifts for yourself or others! 

Good Luck! 
PMQG Secretary

Interview with Kevin Kosbab

Say you have a question about applique. It could be, “What the heck is applique and why would I want to do it?” Or it could be more like, “How can I broderie-perse a flower with very skinny petals without fraying?

You can find the answers to these questions and many more in The Quilter’s Applique Workshop: Timeless Techniques for Modern Designs (Interweave, 2014), by Kevin Kosbab. It’s an impressive handbook of techniques and projects that cover everything you need to know about sewing one piece of fabric onto another.

The book opens by handily refuting the most common anti-applique sentiments (too fussy, too hard, requires hand sewing, etc.). It also does a great job at explaining the pros and cons of raw-edge, prepared-edge, and needle-turn applique. And the patterns are very modern and cool, and even include some improvisational techniques. Most inspiring, perhaps, is Kevin's attitude about quilting. The overall message is, Do whatever brings you joy, and don't worry too much about what other people think. 

We recently had the chance to ask Kevin some questions about The Quilter’s Applique Workshop.

The Counterbalance Quilt uses prepared-edge techniques and is machine-sewn.
In the introduction to the book, you mention that you started quilting on your own, without the assistance of a quilt guild or the Internet. What inspired you to start quilting?

My mom bought me a sewing machine so I could make curtains, and that quickly led to other home-dec sewing—namely a quilt for my bed. I’d been interested in both graphic and interior design for a long time, so quilting turned out to be the perfect combination of the two.

What was your first project? What do you like or dislike about it now?

My first quilt was a “Day at the Beach” from Denyse Schmidt's first book, adapted to bed size. It’s hard to believe that even back in those days (less than 10 years ago) solids were difficult to find—one of the things I'm not so fond of now is that a good part of the quilt is poly-cotton blend!

What was the biggest mistake you made in the early days?

Probably trying to run hand-quilting thread through my machine. It took some time for proper pressing to sink in, too.

This may be a dumb question, but with words like “applique” and “broderie-perse” … Did the French invent this technique? What’s the history here? And do you think the accent marks scare away some people?

Stitching one piece of cloth onto another for decorative or practical purposes is an ancient technique, if not prehistoric, so the French can only be credited with the term that’s currently in favor (“applied work” often appears in older books). You may well be right that the foreign names make people think appliqué’s more exotic than it is. I think it may also suggest fussy, frilly, nineteenth-century styles to some people—which is a shame, since one of the best things about appliqué is its versatility.

Fruit Market Quilt, an homage to mid-century designer Jean Ray Laury
In the book, you mention that you’re inspired by mid-century graphic design. Can you tell us more about the objects, designers, or styles that inspire you? Has this changed over the years, or have you always been a mid-century kind of guy?

Patterns from mid-century fabrics, wallpapers, and dishes are natural sources for quilt designs, but I get ideas from mid-century posters, book and record covers, architecture, furniture, and all sort of other things. There’s a visual exuberance of color and shape that really appeals to me, from “high” designers like Alexander Girard, Verner Panton, and Lucienne Day all the way through to unsigned household goods. I’ve always had an interest in the design of the 1950s, ’60s, and ’70s, which only grows as I learn about new (to me) designers.

What’s you’re favorite part of the quiltmaking process, and why? What’s your least favorite part?

Designing is probably my favorite part, but not necessarily just the preliminary design processes—I often add and subtract fabrics as I go and keep adjusting the final project while I’m making it, and I really enjoy seeing the idea come to life. I love hand-sewing too, for its relaxing, meditative qualities. Basting before quilting is probably the worst—does anyone like doing that?—but it’s become much easier now that I’ve set up a semi-permanent basting table in my garage.

What do you do with your finished quilts—keep, give away, sell? What’s the most special gift quilt you’ve made?

I usually hold onto quilts to use as samples when I’m teaching, lecturing, or marketing patterns. Probably because my background is in publishing, it’s always made more sense to me to make a quilt once and sell multiple copies of patterns rather than try to sell the quilts themselves. One of my first appliqué quilts was a gift for my partner when we were living long distance, though now that we’re married its kind of back in my possession!

Reverse-appliqued Eccentric Concentrics Wall Quilt

I liked your sidebar encouraging us to ignore the “quilt police” and to use the techniques that seem best to us. You also mention that you choose to make quilts not for shows or posterity but in order to bring joy to your loved ones. Was this position hard to come by? Have the quilt police ever called you in for questioning?

That sidebar’s kind of my manifesto, albeit tongue in cheek. It’s really just an articulation of how I’ve felt about quilting since I started. I personally make quilts because I enjoy the process of making and designing them, but I know that many quilters are motivated by sharing their quilts as gifts or charity donations—and whatever the case, my feeling is that quilting should be something we do because we enjoy it. I know there are people who genuinely get their pleasure from doing things “the right way,” but everyone should be allowed to decide that “right way” for themselves.

I haven’t had to answer to the quilt police directly very often, but I’m sure they’re working up a file on me!

What’s next for you?

I’m developing a line of patterns that reinterpret classic mid-century modern design through piecing, appliqué, and quilting, which I’m very excited about. And right now I’m really intrigued by screen-printing, so I’m experimenting with hand-printed fabric for use in quilts. Of course, I’m also teaching classes related to the book, so I’ll continue spreading the appliqué love!

Thanks, Kevin! One lucky guild member will win a copy of The Quilter’s Applique Workshop at our meeting on June 19.

Book review: The Modern Quilting Bee Block Party

Here's PMQG Treasurer Lisa with a book review and giveaway! 

The Modern Quilting Bee Block Party (C&T, 2011) is subtitled as “The Journey of 12 Women, 1 blog and 12 Improvisational Projects.” The book details a modern, virtual quilting bee and goes into the group's process of supporting each other as they produce 12 quilts.

inside: patterns + process

Working from a pattern in this book, I made Kristen Lejnieks’ quilt from June, which was a great beginner modern quilt. Like the other months’ patterns, it’s relatively basic, but comes together in a striking finish. 

Lisa's "Wonky Roman Stripe"

The Modern Quilting Bee Block Party is a great book if you are looking for a better understanding of how bees work. Do note there are only 12 block patterns, so if you’re looking for a straightforward archive of patterns, this may not be the book for you. However, if you are looking for a book that tells a story about how the patterns were created and details the process of trying to recapture the community of the traditional bee using modern technology and a modern quilting aesthetic, then you’ll really enjoy it. 

A copy of The Modern Quilting Bee Block Party will be given away at the April PMQG meeting.

Giveaway: Mini Hex N' More, 'N More

Lisa's "Mini Northern Lights" detail. Pattern by JayBird Quilts.

PMQG Treasurer Lisa here. At February’s SewDown I was introduced to Julie Hermand and her amazing rulers. I had so much fun with the class that I bought one of her Mini Hex N’ More rulers to play with. The ruler cuts three different shapes in four different sizes, and while the resulting patterns looks complex, the ruler is surprisingly simple and easy to use. 

first you cut ... 

As an example, I made a mini-quilt from Jaybird Quilts’ “Mini Northern Lights” pattern. I love how complex the piecing looks, yet the way the pieces sew together in Julie’s clever patterns is very simple and easy to master. 

...then you sew! Easy! 

I used a mix of different designers’ fabrics and some solids. Next time, using this kind of pattern I would likely use all solids, so the pattern really pops. 

Et voila! So cute! 

At the April guild meeting, one lucky person will win three patterns from JayBird Quilts, the “Mini Hex N’ More” ruler and the Jaybird charm pack of cotton solids from Kona in the Jaybird Quilts’ “Night Sky Palette.” 

All this could be yours ... 

 Be sure to check out the giveaways at this month’s meeting for your chance to win all this and more!

Book Review: Vintage Quilt Revival

Hello PMQG! This is secretary Kelly Cole and I am here to review an amazing new quilt book from some lovely ladies from blogland: Vintage Quilt Revival. Co-authors Lee Heinrich from Freshly Pieced, Faith Jones from Fresh Lemon Quilts and Katie Blakesley from SwimBikeQuilt are not just fabulous quilters but also really accessible ladies who love to share their passion for quilting.

Vintage Quilt Revival
Interweave/F+W Media; $27.99

I have been following the trio for a while, and when the buzz of Vintage Quilt Revival started I was so excited when the pictures started rolling out. It really is a treasure trove of interesting blocks, solid quilting how-to's, and so many setting and color options. I love how each of the 20 blocks in the book has instructions on how to construct the block and then a quilt made with the block interpreted through one of the designers. And it's really them! The paper pieced blocks, colors and the settings are just spot on for each of their styles. The book feels like such an extension of their blogs.

So when I asked for a copy to review and give away to a lucky PMQG member I was super happy to get a big "yes," and I dove into making a block from the book. I choose the Exploding Star Block; a paper pieced block that I could not take my eyes off of! The super awesome part of this book is that it comes with an easy-to-navigate CD for printing all the paper-pieced templates. Love that!

The block was super easy to make, and the points were so pointy thanks to the paper pieced method. I used my favorite DS Quilt fabrics, that's how much I love this book! Once I made the block I sewed it up into a new pillow for the couch. A little machine quilting and hand quilting, finished off with a hidden side zipper.

But I couldn't stop there! I got ambitious and made the New World Pouch too! This sweet mid-sized pouch uses a mini version of the Mayflower block and it is tiny, thanks to the paper pieced method again. I used little scraps from the pillow and some yummy Essex linen.

I just love the construction details on the pouch. I finally learned this brilliant move for tabs at the end of zippers, so pro!

So all in all can you tell I love this book? I am dying to get my own copy, but one lucky PMQG member will take this lovely book home at our next meeting on Tuesday, February 18! If you can't wait till then it's available for purchase right now!

Blue Bird Sews

Book Review: Pillow Pop

I had the chance to review the book Pillow Pop: 25 Quick-Sew Projects to Brighten Your Space, compiled by our very own Heather Bostic!  She shared a little about the book at last month's meeting, and at tonight's meeting you could win this copy!

picture from

Book Description :
This installment of the Design Collective series is stuffed full of pillows! Make a distinctive statement with eye-catching modern designs—choose from 25 different 18” to 20” square pillow projects to decorate your home. Pull out your favorite fabrics and have fun stitching up something new to adorn your bed or favorite chair. Popular blogger and modern sewist Heather Bostic brings you a sensational selection of pillow projects. Try different techniques like paper-piecing, quilting, embroidery, and appliqué. 20+ designers with fresh, modern style offer something for everyone at any skill level.

Besides pillows from Heather, this book also features some of our other guild members, how cool to see in print! I loved seeing the pillows from Jen Carlton Bailly, Mo Bedell, and Joan Callaway!

Pillow Pop shows different ways of using applique, piecing , paper piecing and embroidery to make beautiful pillows. In some cases I never would have thought of using a certain technique or pattern on a pillow, and I love all the ideas browsing through this book has given me!

Threadbias Quilt Design Tool review + giveaway!

I'm so happy to be today's stop on the Threadbias Quilt Design Tool blog tour! ThreadbiasLogo
I was invited to try out their fabulous Quilt Design Tool recently, which has been super fun. I have never used any kind of design software before - I always sketch my ideas on paper, then use graph paper to formalize things and get my numbers organized, then start cutting and sewing. The QDT was a very cool departure from my usual analog approach! You can create simple or intricate shapes, maneuver them around very easily, switch colors or fabrics with a single click, set a block, and transform your initial idea into an overall quilt design with tons of flexibility. The program even adds borders and gives fabric requirements, and you can export the design onto your desktop to look at as a whole and get a sense of how it will live as a quilt. At only $10 a month, it's a wonderful resource and I think it really transforms the design process into something special. charm pack and sketchbook.jpg
When I was at Quiltcon, I got a beautiful charm pack of Lizzy House's 26 new Pearl Bracelet colors from the Andover booth, and immediately knew I wanted to make a quilt for my almost-five-year-old daughter, Pearl. She loves rainbows and color, and I pictured a bright, happy design that would grow up with her. The charm squares were such a cool gift, and I wanted to use every bit of the precious 5" squares, rather than cut them up into secondary shapes, as pops of color on a twin-size quilt she could use on her bed. 12 inch block and quilt layout.jpg
So once I had a chance to work with the Quilt Design Tool, I thought I'd try some different ideas out and see what worked. My first thought was a basic 12" two-tier log cabin block (I love log cabin!) with a larger, asymmetrical center charm square (that I filled in with yellow Pearl Bracelet from their fabric archives). I used the workspace software to make a simple block layout, then tiled that into a 6 x 4 grid and rotated some of the 24 blocks to create movement throughout the design. rough draft 12 inch blocks.jpg
I stitched up three real blocks using these dimensions, mixed in a little off-white in the logs for color interest, then set them out in that rotation to see how I liked it. And it just didn't do a whole lot! I liked it but I didn't love it, and I felt like this cool chance to use a design tool, just for quilting, deserved more. So - back to the drawing board, and opening a new workspace. quiltdesigntool.jpg
I kept thinking of roundness, and somehow arranging an array of the small charm squares to create that feeling of a bracelet of color - a beautiful, simple circular design instead of a regular old grid. I could shape the 12" blocks into a tight, tall oval with some major maneuvering, but they were just too big to make a circle on a twin quilt.
So a couple of math problems later, I reduced my block size and widened my quilt a little bit, and came up with a 10" one-tier block that offered a lot more flexibility - and even could be coaxed into a symmetrical 16-block circle!
rainbow charm bracelet blocks.jpg
We narrowed the 26 colors of Pearl Bracelet down to 16, and arranged them in a joyful ROYGBIV circle on the dining room floor. Pearl loved this part!
rainbow charm squares.jpg
I chain-pieced, pressed, and squared up the blocks. I love how quilt blocks look in a neat stack.
10 inch blocks in a stack.jpg
Here's how the top mini-row of three will look in the bracelet. It's very similar to my first idea, but the fact that it's the top section of a circle instead of the heart of a grid just really gives it a lot more life, I think.
rainbow charm bracelet row.jpg
I used the Threadbias design tool to fill in the other parts of the quilt (inside and outside of the circle), and get the measurements for cutting and piecing each section into a whole. This was really handy and made the math and other arrangements very quick.
rainbow charm bracelet blocks layout.jpg
With such a generous circle design, a huge section of the center was a completely blank slate. I love improvisational piecing and writing messages in my quilts (like the "good night" quilt back I worked on for the PMQG Quiltcon charity quilt) so I pieced a subtle, large-scale "pearl" in white-on-white Pearl Bracelet, against Michael Miller Bright White Cotton Couture. For reference, this section measures 51" wide by 30" tall.
pearl's name for the quilt center.jpg
Pearl loves that her name is in the quilt. She is just learning to read and it made her super happy to see it there.
improvisationally pieced pearl.jpg
I had hoped to have the top all done for today, but here's where I'm at:
charm bracelet blocks layout.jpg
so I'll be sharing the finished Rainbow Charm Bracelet top at our April 18 PMQG meeting, and I'm super excited to hand it off to Nancy to quilt! Speaking of PMQG, Threadbias has generously offered a prize of a free month of the Quilt Design Tool (!) to a lucky winner... and instead of giving it away through comments here, we'll draw a name at the meeting! They're also offering a nice bonus to PMQG members, which you'll hear more about then too.
Don't miss the rest of the blog tour - there are some wonderful reviews and quilts up already, and Jen will be reviewing the QDT for Sew, Mama, Sew tomorrow!
- - - - - - - - - - -
Monday, March 25 – Freshly Pieced
Tuesday, March 26 – Don’t Call Me Betsy
Wednesday, March 27 – Generation Q Magazine
Thursday, March 28 – The Sometimes Crafter
Friday, March 29 – Diary of a Quilter
Monday, April 1 – Swim, Bike, Quilt
Tuesday, April 2 – Fresh Lemons Quilts
Wednesday, April 3 – West Coast Crafty
+ Portland Modern Quilt Guild (me!) Thursday, April 4 – Sew, Mama, Sew!
Friday, April 5 – Alison Glass
Saturday, April 6 – Pink Castle Fabrics
Sunday, April 7 – Ellison Lane Quilts
- - - - - - - - - - - - -
Thank you to Andover for the gift of the Pearl Bracelet charm pack and to Threadbias for the chance to review the Quilt Design Tool! (I bought my Bright White Cotton Couture and the additional white Pearl Bracelet at Fabric Depot here in Portland.) By the way, if you're interested in more detail on my cutting, chain-piecing, and row assembly methods, you can check out my book, Modern Log Cabin Quilting. Thanks, and happy Wednesday!
Box full of Modern Log Cabin Quiltings

The Liberty of London Book of Sewing Review

The Liberty Book of Home Sewing
From Chronicle books
Text by Lucinda Ganderton
Review by Ale of The Golden Willow
When the generous folks over at Chronicle Books offered to send over a few copies of the Liberty Book of Home sewing, I jumped at the chance to review it.

 World-renowned, British based Liberty of London, has  “Since 1875, Liberty has been synonymous with luxury and great design. Arthur Liberty’s intuitive vision and pioneering spirit led him to travel the world looking for individual pieces to inspire and excite his discerning clientele. Liberty is not just a name above the door, it’s Arthur Liberty’s legacy, which stands for integrity, value, quality and above all beautifully designed product. This vision and spirit continues today within the iconic Tudor building”

While they are famous for the diverse array of print, clothing and design offerings, they are, perhaps, most famous for their fabrics. Originally screen & block printed by hand, onto single yard lengths, they have since converted to more modern screen- printing methods. However, the base cloth, the famed Tana Lawn, remains the same as it was it 1920’s, when the blend was named for a Sudanese strain of particularly luxurious cotton.
This book offers a delightful insight into the rich history of over 100 years of Liberty’s influence upon, not only the textile industry, but also the world of high fashion and design. The projects range from beginner, to intermediate sewer. They are all simple enough, but shine through the selection of fabrics. Admittedly, they would be boring in a Kona cotton or even comical in a novelty print. But, as most sewing enthusiasts know, the right print can elevate even the most simple of projects to a most treasured items.

Indeed, if you’ve had the chance to handle some liberty, you know that they are fabrics to be treasured and highlighted. I think my favorite project from this book would be the hexagon quilt. I can’t think of many things more wonderful than a hand pieced liberty of London hexagon quilt. Although, either of the aprons or the slouchy bag would have a very welcome place in my home! Great projects, clearly written instructions and a serious helping of eye candy inspiration, the Liberty Book of home Sewing would make a lovely addition to any sewing library. Thanks to Chronicle, we’ll be have a copy to give away at the December meeting, as part of our membership drive. Maybe this little jewel will come home with you!

Sewing Solutions

I'm very excited to review my dear friend Nicole Vasbinder's brand-new book, Sewing Solutions! Her publisher, Interweave, generously sent us a copy to give away to a lucky member at our PMQG holiday party this Thursday.

Sewing Solutions

Nicole is a fabulous seamstress herself - she owned a handbag and accessory business called Queen Puff Puff for many years,

Nicole, the author of Sewing Solutions!

and now owns and teaches at Stitch Craft in Petaluma, California.

Nicole's shop, Stitch Craft!

Nicole shares a wealth of insightful tips and details about the art and science of sewing in this super-handy book. From understanding your sewing machine and serger to making perfect buttonholes, and everything in between, Nicole has you covered.

Sewing Solutions

Her special sections on types of fabric and notions are especially helpful. I snapped photos of pages that I thought modern quilters would especially appreciate, but there are tons of other sections that demystify every element of garment sewing, patterns and alterations, and design. She explains sewing techniques clearly, adds tips and suggestions throughout, and shares great resources for shops, books, and magazines to explore.

Sewing Solutions

Sewing Solutions

Sewing Solutions

You can win a copy of this fabulous book at our holiday party this Thursday! And if you want to pick up an extra copy, I spotted it at the downtown Powell's this afternoon (aisle 510 in the Orange Room!).

Sewing Solutions

Good luck, and see you Thursday!

Book Review :: Transparency Quilts

The clever folks at the Modern Quilt Studio, Weeks Ringle and Bill Kerr, have combined a color tutorial and ten modern quilt projects into their book "Transparency Quilts". Published in 2011 by C&T Publishing, this book is a unique lesson in applying color theory to fabrics, patterns and quilts.

Let me just say at the outset that this is a great addition to any quilter's library. First off, there's the whole idea of applying color theory to fabric, which is a twist on applying color theory to, say, paint. The focus of this book is to use color theory to produce patterns in fabric that mimic transparent surfaces, and begins with a case study for creating color palettes. The authors explore the role of balancing color hue and saturation in composing a successful transparency effect. The transparencies explored in their quilt projects are modeled on various concepts, including plaids, geometric patterns, circles, and vertical strips. It's clear that Ringle and Kerr have spent time and energy developing these concepts, and yet their explanations and examples are clear and concise.

Then there are the goodies! The book includes 10 quilt projects, each one rated for skill level and/or time. The directions are clearly separated into logical steps like cutting, block-making, and quilt assembly. The layout is clear and uncluttered, and it seemed to me that each project is very do-able. !Bonus! Each quilt project is sized three ways: Wall/Baby, Napping (mmm. . . ), and Full/Queen. Every project is laid out with easy to follow graphic illustrations, notes and tips for layout and construction, and homey photos of each completed quilt. !Bonus Two! Color variations are illustrated for each project, so you can compare the effects of using different color combinations. The authors have even shown the quilting pattern and thread color they used for each of their finished pieces. 

The more I looked at this book, the more I wanted to make at least a couple of these quilts. Ringle and Kerr have really done their homework and put together a really great lesson on composition and color for the modern quilter. Someone at our December meeting will win a copy of this book and take home a great reference and project compendium--will you be the lucky one?

The Book : a December PMQG give-away!

Weeks Ringle with a variety of transparency quilts

Sew What You Love Book Review

I had the opportunity to spend a little time with the book Sew What You Love by Tanya Whelan. I love the variety of patterns the book has to offer, there are sections on Handbags, Sewing for Little Ones, the Home, and Clothing. The projects range from simple totes for the beginning sewer to working with knits and pleated skirts. I decided to make my Dad a tie. It's a deceptively simple project so the detailed instructions were so helpful. I love how it turned out and am thinking some of the new Constellations fabric by Lizzy House will be a good choice for a Christmas tie. 

Great features about the book are the wire binding, I just love it when a book will stay open all on it's own, the really detailed illustrations, and well written instructions. I was so excited I gave my Dad the tie before I took the photo sorry. 

I can show you the fabrics I used.The main fabric is Shadow Leaf by Pepper Cory and for the lining I chose the floral print Bryant Park. 
This book will be one of the giveaways at our PMQG meeting this month see you this Thursday the 15th! 


Scrap Republic Book Review

You know I love a good scrap project and when I got the opportunity to review Scrap Republic by Emily Cier I couldn't say no. 

Do you have a million scraps? Yes me too. 
Two things I love about the book are all the beautiful color photos and wonderful illustrations. The book has 8 really good quilts along with a "Solace for the Scrapless" inspiration for each so it's a book for anyone. 

I decided to make a mini version of the Pivot Quilt. 

While I was in Sister's for the Outdoor Quilt Show I was able to finish the top and it had a nice little photo shoot. Thank you to Paula for imparting more of her photo knowledge on me!

Here is the full Pivot Quilt.

I love the color transition but I didn't think it would be as effective small scale and I have a lot of orange, pink, and red scraps so I stuck with those. Rachel has graciously offered to quilt it for me I'll be sure to share when it's done. 

I honestly love all the quilts in the book and there is a good range of quilts for different skill levels.The illustrations are well done and are really concise and easy to understand. There is a great section with tips and techniques at the beginning of the book to get you started. If you are a newer quilter you might need to read over some quilt instructions a few times, I had to at one point, but I wouldn't let that stop you from buying the book! My house mates in Sisters were passing it around and were unanimously impressed. Emily also has a new book Pixel Play coming out in August that you can pre-order right now. 

For all of you Portland Modern Quilt Guild members we will be giving the book away at our meeting this Thursday I hope to see you there. Meeting details will be on the blog tomorrow. 


modern patchwork

I'm very excited to review Elizabeth Hartman's gorgeous new book Modern Patchwork today, and we're so looking forward to Elizabeth sharing some of her quilts in a special presentation at tomorrow night's PMQG meeting!

Modern Patchwork

Modern Patchwork includes a dozen new quilt designs to take you beyond the basics - territory beautifully covered in her first book, The Practical Guide to Patchwork. Along with full, detailed instructions for creating each quilt, she shares many extra tips and ideas in the back of the book (more on that in a minute).

Looptastic from Modern Patchwork

I wanted to spotlight two of my favorite quilts from the collection. Looptastic is a stylish and striking design of concentric circles, created through a surprisingly simple, straightforward sew-and-turn applique method. I love the aqua and citrus colors Elizabeth used in this quilt - inviting and full of life.

Looptastic variations from Modern Patchwork

But if you have another vision in mind, she offers a lovely alternative: two other totally different color and style options, each created as a mini one-block quilt. Each quilt in the book gets this wonderfully open-ended treatment!

Xylophone from Modern Patchwork

I also love Xylophone, a lively, colorful, angular design that sweeps across a neutral background. It reminds me of her Chopped Vegetables pillow patterns, another instant favorite.

Xylophone variations from Modern Patchwork

And of course she has some interesting alternate takes on this one to share as well!

making a design wall from Modern Patchwork

After the quilt patterns, Elizabeth offers a thorough guide to constructing a quilt, from choosing fabrics and piecing to quilting and binding. Along the way she shares tips for making a design wall,

keeping things organized from Modern Patchwork

keeping your work organized,

free-motion quilting from Modern Patchwork

and some of her signature patterns for free-motion machine quilting. (If you're interested in free-motion, I highly recommend her class at Modern Domestic, or if you're not local, checking out her posts on the topic over at her blog).

Modern Patchwork

We are so thrilled that Elizabeth will present at tomorrow evening's PMQG meeting (7 pm in room S1 in the Stagecraft Building, across the street from the main PNCA building). She'll be giving away copies of the book*, fabric, and templates** to lucky winners, so make sure to put your name in the bucket. And check out her blog, Oh Fransson, for a July 1 announcement of a new Modern Patchwork quilt-along!

*Thank you to Stash for sending a review copy of the book, plus the ones to give away at our meeting!

**Speaking of templates, our own Jill Collins of PMQG offers templates from many of the Modern Patchwork quilts (including Looptastic, Honey, Fire Drill, Happy Hour and Owl Eyes) in her Tabslot Etsy shop!

quilting modern

I'm so happy to be part of Katie and Jacquie's blog party weekend of posts celebrating their stellar new book, Quilting Modern! Katie is president of the SMQG and Jacquie is past president of the KCMQG, a current member of the CMQG, and on the national board too. These two know their modern improvisational quilting, and they generously share so many beautiful ideas, packed into one gorgeous book!

Quilting Modern book cover.jpg

I love improvisational patchwork (and was very lucky to take Denyse Schmidt's classes at PNCA), and Katie and Jacquie's thoughtful designs, techniques, tips, and details are wonderfully illuminating. They cover many facets of modern quilting, like improvisationally piecing curves, creating sharp, perfect triangle designs, and one of my favorites, the log cabin makeover - they offer seven core techniques in all, each with three projects to sew. The table of contents gives a nice peek at the diversity of approaches and techniques (and I love the names they chose for their quilts!).

Quilting Modern table of contents

I'm sure many of the other bloggers will cover the 16 beautiful quilt designs in the book - but for my review I wanted to spotlight the striking smaller projects Katie and Jacquie designed for the home. With two little ones and not much free sewing time lately, a beautiful pillow or table runner is more my realistic speed, and these projects are also very scrap- and stash-friendly... a nice bonus! When I first got my copy and read right through it, I was immediately drawn to the Winging It Pillow, which builds a simple, stunning design around a focus-fabric scrap. The mix of erratic-height vertical piecing, bright, strong colors, and ultra-streamlined background is so appealing. This one is at the top of my to-sew list (and I love Katie's invisible zipper technique, which is also included in the book).

Winging It Pillow.png

The Southwestern Pillows are similarly striking. I especially love the Tumbleweed (the center asterisk-like design) - it's such a fresh take on my favorite design style, mid-century modern. I'm picturing how fantastic a quilt made up of all Tumbleweed blocks could be... hmm, maybe when Pearl starts kindergarten...

Southwestern Pillows.png

My favorite of the three is the Sardinia Table Runner, a calm, serene, and gorgeous design with neatly curved "pods" (that Jacquie's husband thought looked like sardines, so that's where the name came from). This is another one I could see as a larger quilt. Angela Walters did a great deal of the quilting in the book, but Katie and Jacquie quilted these three projects.  I loved the simplicity of these neatly alternating-angle diagonal lines over the curves and solids - a beautiful texture.

Sardinia Table Runner.png

I will bring a copy of Quilting Modern for everyone to check out at our PMQG All-Day Sew tomorrow afternoon (at Fabric Depot from 9-9, though the book and I won't be there til around 1:30), and I'm so thrilled that we'll also be giving a copy away at the June 21 PMQG meeting. Thank you to Katie and Jacquie for including me in their book party, and to Interweave for sending two copies of the book for me to review and offer up at PMQG!

PMQG banner

Be sure to visit the other bloggers reviewing (and giving away!) the book, too at the Quilting Modern blog celebration weekend:

A Stitch in Dye – Malka Dubrawsky

Fat Quarterly blog - Tacha Bruecher

Film in the Fridge – Ashley Newcomb

Generation Q – Jake Finch

Handmade by Alissa – Alissa Haight Carlton

Happy Zombie – Monica Solorio-Snow

iheartlinen – Rashida Coleman-Hale

Oh Fransson – Elizabeth Hartman

One Shabby Chick – Amber Carrillo

Pink Chalk Studio – Kathy Mack

Quilting is my Therapy – Angela Waters

Red Pepper Quilts – Rita Hodge

Sew Mama Sew

Sew Take a Hike – Penny Layman

West Coast Crafty – Susan Beal

Whip Up – Kathreen Ricketson

Wise Craft  - Blair Stocker

Mend It Better review + giveaway!

I'm very excited to be reviewing Mend It Better, a wonderful new craft book by Kristin M. Roach (also author of the lovely blog/project/zine Craft Leftovers) today! Mend It Better offers a wide variety of useful techniques, from darning and patchwork to weaving and crochet, for reworking and salvaging garments and beyond.

Mend It Better

As Diane noted in her recent review, Mend It Better is arranged like a textbook, with her suggested techniques neatly organized by chapter. There are tons of photos and tips for undertaking a new mending project, which is also a nice touch.

Stitch Smarts

I am very happy to have contributed one* of the 22 mending projects to the book, and along with my contributor copy, Storey Publishing sent me an extra book to give away at our PMQG meeting this week. I asked Kristin a few questions about mending, especially patchwork projects, and here are her thoughts...

Do you have any favorite decorative stitches for covering a seam or line in a mended patchwork project?

I know it's so bland, but I really love the whip stitch or overcast stitch. Just going to town and completely covering it, kind of sloppy, in a bright color!

What's your favorite mending or embellishment use for binding tape?

I love using it as straps, or sometimes a little accent in a seam, like small piping. So cute!


Have you ever mended a larger quilt or patchwork project? Any general tips for that?

I've done some light mending on a quilt I made - one of my first sewing projects - just some basic patchwork. I'm really excited to be embarking on a huge mending adventure this year: restoring a quilt my husband's grandma made. She passed away a long time ago and it's in tatters. He doesn't remember her, so it's his only connection to her. It's going to be one of those "for the love of it" projects because mending it will probably take more time than completely making a new one!

Here are a few tips for mending quilts:
1. DO NOT wash it before you mend it. It will just make the damage worse.
2. Unlike darning where you want to stretch the fabric taut, if you stretch the quilt in a hoop before making the basic structural repair, it will actually cause the fabric to ripple when you take it off, or stretch the tear even further. You'll want to mend it while it's flat, then repair any quilting stitches in the hoop only after the structure is sound.
3. If you can, work on a large smooth surface with the quilt completely flat. The kitchen floor works great!
4. Sometimes you won't be able to match the pattern exactly when patching, if that's the case, think accent vs "sloppy". One of my teachers used to always say "do it or don't do it". So if you can't match, make it look intentional. Bold contrasting colors can be really fun!


- - - - - -

I think quilters, sewists, lovers of vintage, upcyclers, and wardrobe-refashioners will all love this book. This pieced-vintage-fabric skirt hem idea Kristin included is my favorite project... so adorable!

Patchwork hem idea

I'll be giving away a copy of Mend It Better at our PMQG meeting at 7 pm this Thursday, April 19 at PNCA. We'll be meeting in room S1 upstairs in the Stagecraft Building right across the street from the main PNCA building (where we've met the last two months as well). Hope to see you there!

*Here's my little project! Thanks so much again, Kristin!

Button Patch Pocket

Modern Minimal

Modern Quilt Guild founder and Block Party author Alissa Haight Carlton has a beautiful new quilting book out, Modern Minimal. It officially comes out Friday, but I was very lucky to get a review copy from Stash Books to give away at tonight’s PMQG meeting!
Alissa’s 20 designs are wonderfully simple and driven by line, shape and color (nearly all solids – I spotted one Katie Jump Rope print, one Lizzy House print, and a dots pattern in the entire collection). The book includes quilts of all sizes, from throws (like Mustard, the cover quilt, an instant favorite) to everything from baby to king-sized bed quilts as well. The scale of the piecing and colorwork varies considerably, so whether you’re drawn to huge, bold lines or a more delicate or intricate design, you’re sure to find a pattern that appeals to you.
The book is very nicely styled, including colorful shots of each of the quilts within a room as well as full flat images. I loved this one, Oddballs – probably my favorite of the whole collection.
Basket Weave
The quilt above, Basket Weave, measures 90″ x 95″ and inspired me to imagine a smaller-scale take on Alissa’s pattern. I didn’t have time to work on anything before the meeting (unlike Nancy’s gorgeous throw and pillow from Sweetwater Simple Home – !) but I hope to try my hand at this one soon and will report back.
White Negative Space
Alissa’s book is neatly organized into several chapters: White Negative Space (chapter opener above), Colorful Negative Space, Improvisational Piecing, Monochromatic Quilts, and Baby Quilts. I particularly loved the simplicity of Boxes, one of the baby quilts in the book. As the mama of both a boy and a girl, I really love those kinds of striking gorgeous designs that work for any baby, and will be treasured well into childhood and beyond.
So, if you want to win a copy of the book, I’ll be giving one away at our PMQG meeting tonight – 7pm at PNCA in downtown Portland. We have a lot of fun stuff planned like a special presentation and a fabric giveaway (check out this post for all the details), and we would love to see you there!
Modern Domestic!
Speaking of Portland stuff coming up, this Saturday (March 17, St. Patrick’s Day) is also National Quilting Day. I got to write a little post about it for CrafterNews, and I’m so excited that the PMQG is organizing a little celebration here in town! We’re meeting at Bolt at 3:00 for fabric shopping, and then Modern Domestic is offering a sew-in from 4-7 ($10, register here or just show up). Hope to see you a couple times this week!
You can find Modern Minimal at the Stash website, Powell’s, or your favorite local or online shop. Congratulations, Alissa!!


Sweetwater's Simple Home

Thanks to Susan, I had the chance to sit down and sew with Sweetwater's new Simple Home book published by Stash Books. Authors Lisa Burnett, Karla Eisenach & Susan Kendrick have collected 35 projects to add a handmade touch to every room in a home.

I thought that the "Guest Throw" quilt looked simple and charming (not to mention fast and easy!). I had a jelly roll on hand that I wanted to use, so I picked out 16 strips and got started. This is a very fast and fun project with very clear instructions. My only caution to you, dear reader, is to be as accurate as possible when sewing the strip sets. Be sure to measure your strip sets when you get to Step 5; you may have to adjust the final length. I used the remaining strips from the jelly roll to piece the backing and as a scrappy binding. Quilted up and finished, I think it looks great!



I had leftover fabrics from the strip set and was still having a lot of fun, so I used them up on a couple of pillows. There's a pillow project on page 117 that I took as my inspiration, but I love the look of a quilted pillow-cover (and we are a quilting guild) so I made this one:
 which, darling as it is, I'm going to give it away at the next PMQG meeting (mark your calendar for Thursday, 3/15, 7pm).

If you like simple projects with a modern approach, a few (or a lot) of projects in this book will appeal to you. In the quilted category, there are table runners, wallhangings, throw quilts as well as larger quilts. A number of projects could also be quilted--like the pillows, totes, floor cushion, jar labels, chair and notepad covers . . .

All of these projects are "beginner-friendly", which is nice for beginners but also nice for those among us who are looking for a fast project (need a quick gift?). Looking through the book, it was impossible for me to pick a single favorite, and there's a few that are now on my project list. Enjoy!