May 5, 2010

Tasty precuts make great ingredients for A Baker’s Dozen!

A Baker's Dozen from the staff at That Patchwork Place

A Baker's Dozen from the staff at That Patchwork Place

Most of the staff at Martingale & Company (parent company of That Patchwork Place) are quiltmakers. In this collaborative pattern book they challenged themselves to use the yummy precut assortments available today… we’re talking jelly rolls, layer cakes, honey buns, turnovers, dessert rolls, fat quarters, and charm packs… to whip up a bakery case of delectable quilts.

Note: It isn’t required to use precuts. Each set of instructions also gives fabric requirements for pulling from your stash or from bolts at the quilt shop. But just in case you have been tempted by those luscious jelly rolls, layer cakes, etc., the book gives information on how to handle them, sort them, to wash or not to wash, and what to do about those confusing pinked edges.

Staff from all areas of Martingale contributed to the book, from web manager to the marketing department to customer service and relations, print and production, editorial, book design, illustration, accounting, author liaison, acquisitions and development, and the social networking coordinator, who quilted 11 of the quilts! I thought it would be fun to hear something about the process.

Mary Burns, Marketing Coordinator, tells the story of her quilt Flying Shuttles.

cracker

The Editorial Department put out a call to the staff for designs using precut fabrics or fat quarters. I don’t really consider myself a quilt designer. I think of myself as just your average quilter. Everyone here is so encouraging though—I work with such wonderful and creative people—so I decided to jump in!

I had a fat quarter pack of Kim Diehl’s “Country Haven” and I knew I wanted to do something old-fashioned and folksy to go with the décor of my 1901 farmhouse. I found a traditional pieced block called “Cracker” in my trusty Judy Hopkins book 501 Rotary-Cut Quilt Blocks. I set the blocks in circles and called it Colvin Mill Wheels, after a historic mill near my sister’s house in Virginia.

At the last minute, I sketched out an alternate layout of Cracker blocks in vertical rows—and that’s the one that was chosen. (Hooray for last minute inspiration!) At that point the quilt didn’t have any appliqué, but after I pieced it and sewed on the cream border, it just looked like it needed something. I sketched out a flowing vine, some leaves, and folksy flowers. Fortunately, they were thrilled—but I only had a couple weeks before the deadline for finished quilts— and I was scheduled to be at Spring Quilt Market the first week and on vacation at my sister’s in Virginia the second week. What was I thinking?!

As Marketing Coordinator, one aspect of my job is to get everything ready for our booth at Quilt Market. The month up to and including Market is extremely hectic. I stayed up late every night the week before we left, finishing the pieced borders and machine appliquéing all my vines and leaves, cutting out all my folksy flowers and flower centers and packing them all in my carry-on—didn’t want to risk losing it!

I use freezer paper applique on the wrong side of the fabric, with the shiny side up so that I can press the seam allowance to the sticky side, then cut a slit in the back and remove the paper. I machine-appliqued the vines and leaves and hand-appliqued the flowers and flower centers. I finished appliquéing the centers onto the flowers on the plane; it really made time fly!

When we got to the hotel, I laid the quilt out on my bed and figured out where I wanted the flowers to go. Despite my valiant efforts, by the time Market was over, I still wasn’t finished appliquéing the flowers—how naïve of me to think that I could work hard at Market and still have time and energy to finish the quilt! So off to my sister’s house the two of us went, my quilt and I, with a promise that I’d email a photo of the finished quilt before the deadline. It’s kind of fitting that I finished it in all the way across the country in Virginia, near the Mill that originally inspired me to use the Cracker block.

I changed the title of the quilt to “Flying Shuttles” because the way the Cracker block turns left and right reminds me of how a shuttle flies through a loom. When I showed it to my teenage sons at home, the Cracker blocks reminded them of the old Intellivision game, Astrosmash, and the space shuttles that you had to shoot to win. Either way, I just love how this quilt turned out–and apparently I’m not the only one, because the quilt has been chosen to be in That Patchwork Place Quilt Calendar 2011—I’m Miss November!

So there’s my saga, hope you find it amusing. The hardest part about designing a quilt pattern is that you have to write down everything you do, and have it make sense to someone who’s never done it before. Now I know! It’s not as easy as it sounds!

Cathy Reitan, Martingale’s author liaison, set a personal challenge for herself with her design.

Circles and Chains by Cathy Reitan

Circles and Chains by Cathy Reitan

I have always created with textiles, starting in high school with fashion sewing from patterns and then moving into copying store fashions. As I moved into my 30s and had a family, the focus changed to children’s designs and home dec sewing with a little bit of quilting. With the dawn of children having their driver’s licenses and freedom from being a slave to the car, I began to quilt. You know, the kind of quilting where you plan a project, shop for the items you need, and work on it for significant lengths of time, not just in stolen moments.

I usually use traditional civil war colors and patterns with a lot of hand work. When the opportunity to design a quilt for A Baker’s Dozen came along, I set myself a goal of using colors out of my normal color palette and geometrical shapes that where also not the norm for me. Circles and Chains was the result. I combined the traditional Irish chain block ( just could not completely give up the traditional) with the geometric fast-fused applique circles. I made couple of sample blocks and threw them away because the colors I picked were not strong enough to support the jelly roll I wanted to work with. Back to the quilt store for the brown and yellow solids and another trial block was made. The effect of the deeper color was much better with my jelly roll. I used several colors I love to hate, primarily orange paired with turquoise which is color that I am repeatedly drawn to but matches nothing in my house. Now I just need a child to give up a bedroom so I can decorate with a new color scheme!

Working at Martingale is a great place to inspire creativity and take the next leap of faith because there is always someone to encourage and praise your efforts. There is always someone to bounce and brainstorm ideas with. Of course with so many beautiful samples coming in from authors the list of projects I want to make is always longer than the hours left in my lifetime!

Adrienne Smitke from the illustration department describes the collaborative effort that went into her design.

Ladybugs!

Ladybugs!

This quilt was a team effort, and I think that’s part of why I like it so much. Not only are the colors and motifs cheerful and welcoming, when I see this quilt I think about all the different elements of its construction and how many different hands helped stitch it together.

While I really like sewing, I love shopping for fabric. I could spend hours browsing either online or in the fabric store through the ever changing rows of color and pattern. It is more often the fabric that helps inspire the kind of quilt or project I want to make rather than the other way around. I had been trying to come up with an excuse to work with Momo’s Wonderland fabric line since its release. While browsing for ideas, I took a closer look at the polka-dot print in this fabric line and discovered that some of the dots were actually ladybugs. Inspiration struck and I knew ladybugs would make a cute and easy appliqué design. To compliment the ladybugs, I pulled three simple flower shapes from the print used in the border.

As a technical illustrator I spend a lot of time working with Adobe Illustrator (a vector drawing program), so it was easy for me to draw the full size applique patterns on the computer. This allowed me to easily tweak and size them as I needed to fit the blocks. You don’t need to be a professional designer to use a computer to create your own patterns. Many computers already come with drawing software, or you can simply Google “vector drawing program” online to explore the many options available. It can take a little time to get used to the drawing tools in these programs, however you shouldn’t be discouraged. Like with any skill, practice makes perfect.

Once the quilt design was complete, that’s when the teamwork began. I knew I wouldn’t be able to finish two complete quilts (my other quilt in the book is “Rose Garden,” page 62) in the time available, but my co-workers came to the rescue. Despite that they were all working on additional quilts of their own for A Baker’s Dozen, they pitched in and each took on a part of the process.

While I cut and sewed the pieced blocks, Karen Soltys worked on the appliqué blocks. Karen has a wealth of great tips for how she made the machine appliqué simple and easy. First she traced all the large shapes on fusible web and then, before cutting any of them out, traced the smaller shapes inside the larger ones. She cut those smaller pieces out of the centers of the larger ones, and fused them onto their contrast fabrics. This not only saved on fusible web, but made the finished appliqué blocks much softer and more flexible.

After all the shapes were fused to their fabrics and then to the white background blocks, Karen machine-blanket-stitched around all of the shapes using chocolate brown machine-quilting thread to add definition to the designs. She recommends using open-toe presser foot so that you can easily see where you’re stitching. In addition, she used a 50-weight thread (“regular” sewing thread) in the bobbin, which required loosening the machine tension a bit so that the bottom thread wouldn’t pull up to the top as she stitched.

Karen handed off the appliquéd blocks to Cathy Reitan, who hand-embroidered the beautiful details for the flower stems, lady bug wings, and antennae before assembling the blocks and borders into a quilt top. Karen Burns, who did the stunning machine quilting on almost all of the quilts in the book, stitched all-over swirls in the appliqué blocks to help the motifs stand out, and then added flowers in the borders reminiscent of the flowers in the fabric pattern. Finally the quilt came back to Cathy, who sewed on the binding and hanging sleeve. It was really thrilling to see how all of the blocks and pieces were assembled into a stunning final product, and to know each of us had a hand in it. Now the quilt hangs behind my desk at work and each day I am greeted by its cheerful motifs and reminded of the teamwork that helped put this quilt together.

I really enjoyed hearing these stories, hope you did too. Martingale has supplied a copy of the book to give away, so leave a comment before 7:00 p.m. California time on Saturday, May 8, to enter the drawing to win this delicious collection of quilt patterns. (U.S. and Canada only)

Until next time,
Kay
By Kay Mackenzie

Comments

11 Responses to “A Baker’s Dozen of delectable quilts”

  1. Robin Gold on May 5th, 2010 1:20 pm

    Ooo, wonderful stories! and fabulous quilts! Please enter me in your drawing!!

  2. Jane on May 5th, 2010 1:49 pm

    A super book, lots of great patterns. I really love the Ladybugs. It would be lovely for my week old granddaughter.

  3. Erin in MI on May 5th, 2010 3:50 pm

    Love the stories – this book looks awesome! I’d love to win it. Thanks for doing the giveaway!

  4. Sandra Davidson on May 5th, 2010 4:14 pm

    What wonderful stories, and I loved the Ladybugs,it was just bright and fun. Looks like a book I would like in my library,thanks

  5. Jo Anna on May 5th, 2010 5:22 pm

    I love these quilts. It’s fun to hear the stories also.

    Jo Anna

  6. Cory on May 6th, 2010 6:13 am

    What a mouth-watering collection of patterns! I would love to make all of them. Take care and God bless. Cory

  7. Brenda on May 6th, 2010 11:08 am

    I enjoyed reading the background stories, Kay. It is so interesting to hear about other peoples quilting journeys.

  8. Caryn Sakaguchi on May 6th, 2010 3:31 pm

    Great photos and wonderful stories. I enjoyed yours about trying to get it finished in time. I’m glad you did and congratulations on being selected for the Calendar.

  9. Pam Pokragac on May 7th, 2010 5:25 am

    That looks like a wonderful book! Thank you for the opportunity to win a copy!
    I’m a new reader of your blog and was terrified of applique – but I just grabbed some supplies and jumped in :) I love it! I’m having so much fun and I think that your blog is great!

  10. Sandi M on May 7th, 2010 8:14 am

    That looks like another great book. Love the Flying Shuttles and enjoyed the stories too.

  11. joan on May 8th, 2010 4:02 am

    Enjoy your newsletter. Learn so much about applique reading it. Flying Shuttles is a beautiful quilt. Thank you.

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