Tag: Quilt Design

Introducing…Bubbles & Bonus Tips

Choose background fabrics that add sparkle to your quilts!

To take a look at background fabrics, first let me introduce you to (drum roll): The Bubbles Quilt Pattern!

Notice the varied background fabrics in this quilt. The baby whale is made using both beautiful sides of Kaffe Fassett’s Paint Pots fabrics!

You might think that once you’ve chosen a good focus fabric, your work at auditioning fabric is done. But really, you’ve just begun to have fun!

Secondly, it’s important to know that background fabrics for #usebothsides quilts are what make the quilts really sparkle! When you attend one of my classes, you learn that there is a certain “feel” you are trying to achieve in the relationship between your focus and background fabrics.

First pick focus fabrics. Then background fabrics.

It DOES truly begin with your focus fabric choice – you have to pick that first and foremost. (I’ll discuss focus fabric auditioning in another post. Tips for choosing focus fabric are included in each pattern.) Once your focus fabric has been chosen, you want to achieve a balance between your focus fabric and your backgrounds.  I encourage using a mix of fabric styles and to use this quilt as an opportunity try something new. I figure, it is a fun quilt– so use fun fabrics  which may not be appropriate in your more “serious” quilt work. I’m going to use two quilts as examples. Below are Phoebee and Bubbles:

Image of Bee Quilt
Phoebee Quilt Pattern

Phoebee really makes a statement.

Notice that the bee is made from very bold fabric. She’s not one bit shy. The background fabrics can be bolder for her because her focus fabric and her character allow it. Some of the background fabrics are darker in value than I would use with my other patterns, depending not just on the focus fabric, but also the subject matter and what I want you to feel when you look at the quilt.

Now looking at Bubbles.

I hope you see a sweet, endearing “fellow”…youthful, happy, maybe adventuresome… maybe up to something. This baby whale can be a boy or a girl and you can change his or her attitude just by choosing a different focus fabric! What I am hoping you have noticed by now is that the background fabrics also have a different feel. In fact, most of the accent strips I used  are reversed to keep them from overpowering this sweet whale friend.

Once you’ve chosen your focus fabric, lay the fabric out, loosely shaped for the pattern you’re making– but with a twist. Literally, twist the fabric so that half of the fabric shows the reverse side. Audition BOTH sides of the focus fabric with your background possibilities. Each #usebothsides pattern gives detailed instructions for how to audition fabrics.

My husband and “silent” business partner just happened to name the two above quilts.

Next, compare the focus and background fabrics of these two quilts:

In conclusion, don’t want to get too serious about your fabric auditioning, because these patterns are designed to be fun, fast, and easy quilts. Plus, they make great quick gifts.

For more fabric auditioning fun, book a class or program for you next group event! Click here for more information.

SHOP more than 45 patterns HERE.


JOY Quilted Wall Hanging Pattern

JOY is a quilted wall hanging pattern which uses both sides of one focus fabric on a wintery background.

Joy: cheer, glee, gladness, festivity, jubilance, exultation

This #usebothsides pattern was one of my first designs. See more than 40 patterns now in my Etsy Shop: CreativeBeeStudios.

See Christmas Quilts in July for a smaller quilted wall hanging pattern made with broderie perse and one focus fabric!

There are many, MANY Christmas fabrics which would make a great JOY quilted wall hanging.

You can choose modern circles, snowflakes, poinsettias, cookie cutters, etc. Each gives a different feel to this Christmas tree wall hanging. The trick is to find a focus fabric you love whose reverse side sparkles -but with a lesser value.

I happened to find one that gives a vintage flair to the quilt. These vintage glass ornaments sparkle on both sides of the Hoffman Digital Spectrum fabric called All Aglow Christmas.

Image of Fabric

Now take a look at this focus fabric!

Image of Tree Wall Hanging

Make this JOY with Hoffman’s Supernova Seasons panel!

This version features a lighter, snowy background. You’ll see cardinals on a lighted wire and little red trucks. Both accent strips are reversed to let the focus fabric shine.

Shuffle through your Christmas stash and make up some JOY to make the Christmas season bright!

Give a little JOY this Christmas season!

What kind of fabric would you use for a JOY tree? When do you start your Christmas decorating or festivities?

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Eight Ways to Decorate with Quilts

You know you’re a quilt enthusiast when your home decorating is based on the quilts you’ve made…or plan to make.

Write your blog post…write your blog post…write your–wait, I should get my fall quilts out for the front porch–no, write your blog post…well, I need to run downstairs to look up a password anyway, so I might as well just grab that one panel quilt for the swing…THEN I’ll write my blog post…hmmm, that old Thimbleberries baskets quilt would look nice here…I don’t use it in the house anyway and I’ll wash it at end of the season…oh, maybe the pumpkins one could go here…I really need to work on that blog post…its crazy how many quilts I have all over my house…hey, maybe I’m not alone…

So today’s blog post is about decorating with quilts! Do you? Decorate with quilts? And I’m not talking about hanging one quilt on the wall… do you immerse your house with your quilts? Maybe it is just me. It does seem kinda eccentric. Well, for better or worse, here it is–this is how my mind works when it comes to quilts and decorating:

A few years ago, I had a vision, if you will, of an Italian landscape quilt and so…I repainted my kitchen (complete with break-away brick) in preparation for the quilt I was making. (Yeah, kinda backwards, I know.) Click here to see Bella Vista. Turns out Bella Vista inspired a whole line of quilts, wool applique, and punch needle for an Tuscan-themed book proposal. Two of those projects hang from tables right now:

Bella Tablescape features an arched window on either end of the table runner with a landscape scenery.

Image of Table Runner

Bella Tablescape

Bella Piastrella (beautiful tile) is a pieced tile pattern with fused applique. Click here to see the whole quilt in this post about using flange.

Image of quilt.

Bella Piastrella means “beautiful tile” in Italian.

Now a Bonnie Hunter mystery quilt hangs in my kitchen (I adapted the colors and borders).

In my dining room hangs Italian Proverb, which was a row-by-row pattern I designed for promoting said book proposal. I felt quite accomplished cutting the letters for the proverb with my Scan N Cut.

Image of quilt.

Italian Proverb Row by Row

In our coastal-themed living room there are currently five quilts. Tropical Fun toured the AQS circuit a few years back in an Accuquilt display.

Image of Quilt

Tropical Fun made the AQS Accuquilt tour a few years ago.

Click here to see the others in my post, Summer Quilting.

Now for that one quilt I had on my mind, the one for my porch swing. A panel. Simple but great for a swing quilt because it wasn’t too involved or expensive (in case it blows away).Image of quilt on swing. Then there are the old greats from Thimbleberries club.Image of basket quilt.Image of quilt and bird cage

So, please tell me below that I’m not that weird and that you decorate with quilts, too! Or you can say whatever you want, but please comment!

In upcoming posts, I’ll show the rest of my Italian designs and introduce some NEW patterns using both sides of one focus fabric (it’s not just for winged-girls anymore!).

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Designing Quilts by Chance

In this quilt, I used the front AND reverse side of its focal fabric.

How do you design a quilt? Do you use graph paper and draw out the design with exact proportions? Do you use color pencils or do you label the drawn areas with the colors of fabric or values you’ll use? Do you use a quilt design software or a tablet quilt design app?

Yeah…not me.  A quilt often comes to life in my head… very vaguely, kind of like a mystery unfolding.  I ponder the idea until I start to pull fabrics from my stash and start cutting, drawing, and stitching. At least, that’s how Phoebee came to life.

Image of Quilt with Bee.

Phoebee was designed using both sides of a focal fabric.

Phoebee began with a vague idea to use pieced scraps from my stash for the background and use a bee as the main design. That’s about all I knew.  I thought I wanted to use multiple fabrics for the bee as well. I knew the shape I wanted to draw out for my bee, but I wanted to get my background set first for size.

I did use graph paper in my process, but it was after I stitched my pieces together and decided I liked the look. That’s when I wrote down the dimensions and drew the shapes out, labeling which fabrics I used. I used a pencil because my drawings and placement of fabric changed several times in the process.

Once I was happy with the background, I made all my notes and could hardly wait to grab fabrics to design the bee.

NOTE: I don’t clean up ANYthing while I’m in creating mode — I just let it flow and fabric is everywhere!

So here I was, sitting on my floor (because my design wall was {and still is, truth be told} full of a bed-size quilt in progress), trying out fabrics, figuring out how to combine them to make an interesting bee, when one fabric just kept jumping out at me. I finally gave in and decided to use it alone for my bee. That fabric looked really good against the pieced background.

But something was missing. I liked the bee. I liked the background. There needed to be another element – something of surprise or interest and something to “ground” the bee somehow. I moved the extra fabrics aside and accidentally turned the “bee (focal)  fabric” upside down — now THAT was interesting! To use the reverse side of the focal fabric for the flowers the bee was pollinating was exactly what this quilt needed to make sense, be unique, and complete the “story”.

Image of Full Quilt with Bee

Phoebee means bright, pure in Greek.

Phoebee means BRIGHT,  PURE in Greek and she is both! I happened to use a color-dense Hoffman Spectrum Digital floral print for the bee, the flowers and the binding, but any floral, big or small would work which makes this a great stash-busting quilt.

I like the idea that Phoebee is vibrant and the flowers are softer in value as the bee is getting its life from the flowers.

I’m excited to finish writing this pattern and I have hazy plans in my head brewing  of additional designs using pieced backgrounds and one floral focal fabric.

Image of Prairie Point Hanging Method

Prairie Point Quilt Hanging Method

Notice the Prairie Point Hanging Method (click here for details)

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For more information about free-hand stylized quilting, visit my The Quilting Bee page.

Discover How a Flange Can Enhance Your Quilt

Adding a flange to your quilt can add interest, color, and contrast.

A flange is a small strip of fabric, folded in half and attached by basting to the edge of a border, section, or even the final edge of a quilt.

While a flange doesn’t add to the size of your quilt, it can provide a pop of color or a “stopper” if needed. It can be helpful when planning the design of a quilt to add a flange if you don’t want to add a border or if you want to accent a section of the quilt.

It can also be useful to add a flange to an existing pattern. I did so here

Image of Quilt with Flange

This small flange helps the eye connect from the binding to the interior blocks of the quilt. Allietare pattern by Bonnie Hunter.

on my Allietare (pattern by Bonnie Hunter), because I thought it needed just a touch of the aqua between my inner and outer borders to “connect” the interior of the quilt with the binding (also in the aqua fabric). Because a flange doesn’t change the dimensions of the quilt at all, I didn’t need to worry about re-figuring pattern directions for borders.

Most flanges I’ve used were solid or read as solid fabrics, but as you can see, this one is a batik which adds interest as well as color.

Making a flange is super easy:

*Cut two strips of fabric slightly longer than the length of your quilt or area you want to emphasize and cut two strips slightly longer than the width of the working area. The width of your flange strips can be anywhere from 3/4 inch to 2 inches, depending on how much fabric you want showing.  (If you prefer to measure and cut the lengths precisely, you can. There is just no need to do so because the flange will not alter the size of your borders or blocks. Let’s assume the borders are already measured, pinned, and attached carefully to avoid wavy borders and excess fabric. See this post for more information of unruly borders.)

*Fold the strips lengthwise, wrong sides together and press.

*Align the edges of the flange with the edges of your quilt, border, or section. Pinning isn’t necessary, but may help keep the edges aligned. I usually just go unpinned for flange.

*Use a basting stitch and less than a 1/4 seam margin to attach the flange to the left and right sides. Trim excess from edges. In the same way, baste and trim the top and bottom flange onto your quilt.

*Continue with your quilt as you normally would. It’s that easy!

This quilt is an example of using a flange to “stop” the quilt prior to the binding. Without a flange, there wouldn’t be a defined edge. I didn’t want a completely dark binding to be in stark contrast  with the borders, so the flange was just the right amount of stopper needed.

Image of Quilt with Flange

This quilt has a dark flange between the outer border and the binding. Bella Piastrella by Karla Kiefner

When my friend Nancy and I design a quilt or church banner together we often consider the use of flanges – they’re just fun to do!

What technique  do you enjoy using in your quilts?

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