Posts Tagged ‘improvisational patchwork’

SEW KATIE DID:Split Personality Quilt Block

I’m still quilting my Christmas quilt made with blocks that I call ‘Split Personality.”  Both the vertical and horizontal quilting lines were finished over the weekend and I’ll move onto the diagonal lines once the week’s open studios and workshop are done.

I try to give my body a break from quilting every hour or so and since staring at my design wall is a favorite activity I’ve dedicated my move around time to these solid fabric versions.  Last season I was rather smitten with all the heart designs I’d been seeing and decided I’d really like to play with an improvisational variation of this shape.

The block’s effect is similar to what the crazy piecing technique in Quilting Modern produces, but this new technique is rather quick and without fuss.

SEW KATIE DID/Split Personality Hearts

These Split Personality blocks have evolved into the “what” with their heart shaped design element, but they have yet to find the “how” of their final composition.  I’ve been inspired by so many traditional quilts layouts where I could place this block, but am really trying to stay improvisational with this one.

SEW KATIE DID/Split Personality Hearts

I have plans at the end of the week to play with some I made that I’m not as happy about and see where an elongated heart shape might land me.  Pays to not always throw away the ‘not so goods’ eh?  Maybe in the end I’ll have some great trivets for Christmas presents at the least:)

Happy midweek Peeps!


I’ve got new Open Studio dates up and a few spaces in my design wall/improv workshop left.  Thanks to everyone’s feedback and response to my newsletter.  I’ll be working on an evening Open Studio and a Sunday monthly in the new year.  Hope to see you soon;)

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Travel is done for the season.  I say it all the time, “Quilters are the kindest people” and everyone involved made this season particularly memorable.

I’m looking forward to some project time, both in the studio and around the house. A website for the studio is in the making and now comes the exciting bit of writing copy.  Open studios and workshops will be much easier to plan and execute with a system for sign ups.  For now I’ve just been doing it the old fashion way via phone or email.

It’s all about the baby steps right?

SEW KATIE DID:Improv Patchwork Workshop:Halloween Pillows

But I finished up some new Halloween flair a few weeks ago as samples for a design wall heavy improvisational workshop I’ve been thinking about. I wanted to cover some basics that students are always asking me about.  So I thought I’d just put it out there.

This workshop is really a reincarnation of the classes I taught when I started teaching, exception being that at the time we were in the smallest room ever with little to no design wall.  Now I have a fully padded room of design walls and the tools and machines students need, so why not a class?

SEW KATIE DID:Halloween Patchwork Pillows:detail

In my opinion the design wall is the greatest design tool EVER when it comes to improvisational work, so this improv workshop will focus on building out a design there, breaking it down into sections and using various improvisational patchwork techniques to piece it all together.  Angle and strip piecing, “floating” patchwork, composition, creating definition and value are a few of the techniques and design concepts we’ll cover.

SEW KATIE DID:Improv Patchwork Workshop:Hammer Girl

Over the years I found that working within a mapped out space helps us visual/kinetic learners.  So thinking small, like a pillow, wall hanging or even one block at a time is to our creative advantage.

SEW KATIE DID:Halloween Patchwork Pillows:detail

Hammer girl thinks so.  She was my starting point.

SEW KATIE DID:Improv Patchwork Workshop detail

and then bits were added for detail.

SEW KATIE DID:Improv Patchwork Workshop:Hammer Girl Pillow

As I was working on the design wall another pillow started to take shape.  That’s often how it works.

SEW KATIE DID:Improv Patchwork Workshop:Wicked Witch Pillow Detail

I believe all the fabrics are Alexander Henry with the exception of the Essex linen I’m so drawn to currently.

SEW KATIE DID:Improvisational Patchwork Workshop:HalloweenThey’ve nailed it with the facial expressions.

SEW KATIE DID:Improv Patchwork Workshop:Halloween Pillows

Perhaps some Christmas pillows are in your future?

I have room for three students per workshop.  Bernina sewing machines and all tools are provided, just bring your creativity, materials and an open mind;)

So here’s the dates/email me at sewkatiedid@gmail.com to secure your spot:

Happy Week Peeps;)

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SEW KATIE DID:Boxed-In Quilt Full

I swear no quilt in history has been put up and taken down from the design wall more.

I kept recycling the left over blocks that I call Psychedelic Baby Block into new design/layout ideas and now have an ample supply of samples for teaching the workshop.

SEW KATIE DID:Boxed-In Block neutral

I was in high gear to finish it for submission to the MQG’s Texas Museum Exhibit, but I realized that with the minimal quilting it would start to sag if hung for long.  Like how I’ve already envisioned it as accepted for exhibit?

The softness is amazing.  I don’t think I’ve even made a softer quilt.

SEW KATIE DID:Boxed-In Center

Not only did I mix in leftover blocks, but my neutral scrap bin got dug into.  Though no dent was made in that bin, texture was added through a mix of linens, flannels, and Osnaburg fabrics.  Shockingly even with the shot cotton it quilted up lovely.

SEW KATIE DID:Boxed-In Block Center

It was difficult to not throw in a print or two.  It is one of the reasons I feel in love with quilting.

SEW KATIE DID:Boxed-In Block Detail

Here’s a little peek of the dot I added too.

SEW KATIE DID:Boxed-In Quilt

Eleven year old boys are worthless at quilt holding for long, but good for showing scale.

SEW KATIE DID:Boxed-In Back full

I did it again and used a fabric from stash for the back.  Twice I ran out of thread when quilting and of course both times I was smack dab in the middle of that red strip where it would show the most.  I left it.

SEW KATIE DID:Boxed-In Back detail

It’s a favorite Alexander Henry.

SEW KATIE DID:Boxed-In Binding 2

The binding I actually cut for my On Target Quilt before I changed my mind to something darker.  I held onto it thinking it would work here.

SEW KATIE DID:Boxed-In Block

It’s all perfect, just perfect;)


For Mother’s Day Jefe installed my flooring, cooked every meal and did the dishes while I went shopping.

I’m so thrilled with what I picked.  That goes for guy and floor.

Happy Week Peeps!

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SEW KATIE DID:MOD Pinwheel side

I’m continuing my documentation of projects that haven’t yet made it to my Quilts Page for one reason or another.

Mod Pinwheel is another quilt pattern Jacquie and I created for Quilting Modern that didn’t make the cut, but is available as a free e-book.


The adjective Mod is a little off for this quilt in my opinion, but we named it years ago.  When I look at it now it speaks to the traditional side of quilting that I love, with a taste of something a little different.

SEW KATIE DID:MOD Pinwheel Quilt Detail

It’s these ‘eyes’ that are the twist, removing it one step from a traditional straight set layout.


Hanging this quilt up gave me a new appreciation for it.

As always, I have a love/hate relationship going on with this quilt.  A little more thought with the value and color placement might have elevated the design, but truly I think this is a pattern that speaks to going scrappy, something we stayed away from in the book, but where my heart really is in quilting.


I see myself playing with this foundation pieced block again with a bin of scraps to see if my vision is true.  What a great baby quilt it would make.

SEW KATIE DID:MOD Pinwheel Binding

Teal dot for the binding and a delicious red dot flannel for the back.

SEW KATIE DID:MOD Pinwheel Detail

If I had to pull one component that I love most in this quilt it would be the quilting by Angela Walters combined with the flannel backing.  Oh wait, that’s two.


I pulled out some sample blocks to dream up something new with, but ‘been there done that’ set in and cutting seemed necessary.

You can make your own Mod Pinwheel with the instructions posted here.


I went ahead and ordered the flooring on the right for the studio.  We’ll hopefully install it and paint in the next few weeks.  Three Berninas have arrived for student use and tool kits are collected.

Things are coming together;)

Have a great week peeps!

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SEW KATIE DID:Psychedelic Baby Block:Don't Box Me In Quilt

To make a quilt a quilt you eventually have to baste it through your choice method.  I’m a pin baster.  I also have OBD (Over Basting Disorder).

SEW KATIE DID:Quilt Sandwich

 If I’ve already over thought my quilting design then I try to land my pins in areas that won’t interfere too much with it.

SEW KATIE DID:Psychedelic Baby Full

In my life basting a quilt is a good excuse to clean my floor, have a beer, and soak in a few episodes of whatever TV series I’m currently chain-smoking.  I’m having a marathon with Scandal today.

Here’s a list of my tools for basting a quilt.  A nice container to store them all together in makes for easy transport to my basting spot.

SEW KATIE DID:Quilt Basting Tool Kit

::Basting Tools::

  • Basting Pins-  I’ve run into a load of poor quality basting pins in classes.  If you’re going to bother pin basting buy good quality, your quilt top will thank you.  Heavier thread count material can also make sharp pins even more important.  I prefer the smaller curves ones.  They are about 1.5″ long.
  • Kwik Klip   This little tool helps close pins.  I don’t know what my problem was that it took me so long to purchase one of these.  If you are going to pin baste this tool is also an essential in your toolbox.  Trust me;)
  • Painter’s Tape  Use this to systematically tape your quilt back right side down to the floor.  I work by alternating sides as I tape.  Beginning from the midpoint of the sides.  Don’t stretch, but it should be flat.
  • Shears  For getting rid of excess batting.  I fold the batting back onto itself and cut away at the fold to an inch or so smaller than my quilt back.  This gives me a visual to run my quilting off the quilt top and secure it into the backing.
  • Snips To rid quilt of stray threads.
  • Lint Roller  Don’t forget about the back.  If the quilt has been handled a lot the back will have longer stray threads.  It generally isn’t even a problem, but if I have a light color on the front and a dark thread gets quilted behind it it will show through.  I find this annoying after putting so much work into perfection.


This is by no means a concise tutorial on all aspects of making a quilt sandwich or basting, but I’ll fill in the blanks at some later dates.

I also am a true believer that there is no need to reinvent the wheel, so I’ve pinned a Whole Cloth and a Quilt It Pinboard with a load of great tutorials on quilt finishing such as basting, quilting and binding that wonderful people have put together for wonderful you;)

Any tools you can’t live without?

Happy Week Peeps;)  I’m off to quilt and fold a mountain of laundry.

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SEW KATIE DID/Design Wall Tutorial

Hopefully in the next month I’ll be updating my design walls for the studio so that I can expose the electrical sockets and make them floor to ceiling.

SEW KATIE DID/Quilt Design Wall Tutorial

I’ll make sure to document the process to be included in the tutorial.

 I use two types of design walls.  The grey one above is insulation board wrapped in flannel (tutorial here).

SEW KATIE DID/Layered Design Wall

 I’m sure none of you have more than one project you work on at a time, but if you do the other is a layered system (tutorial here) that allows you to roll things up and keep them in place so that you can work on what’s underneath or take it for travel.  This system is also perfect for those of you in small spaces since it can be rolled up and stashed somewhere like under a bed.

SEW KATIE DID:Psychedelic Baby Block

SEW KATIE DID:Psychedelic Baby Blocks Square

Design walls aren’t an essential tool in everyone’s creative process, but I do talk with my students about it being number one for mine.  I like to step back and see how things are getting along.  I encourage students to take photos of their project’s progression and even when they think they’ve got it perfect to take everything down and rearrange it.  This is how new ideas might develop.  In Quilting Modern we talked about not being ‘married’ to what’s on on your design wall, and in a workshop Jacquie and I taught together one of our students joked, “You’re just sleeping together.”  That quote has stuck.


I’ve developed some tricks along the way when it comes to using the design wall and the one I utilize the most is not sewing things together, but rather use bits of scraps pinned up to audition color or placement.

SEW KATIE DID:Triangles Add

I now have a bowl of various 90 degree triangles for this task.  Like so.


I have the same with strips.  This system does add to the amount of scraps, but I’m good with that.  I can’t tell you the number of times something has been all sewn together for me to realize I should have changed out something dead center of the quilt.

Happy Monday Peeps.

Hope you and your design wall are finding some time to sleep together:)


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March has simply flown by. I was able to teach and lecture in some beautiful spots, meet some wonderful people and sew with my local peeps.

SEW KATIE DID Stellar Block/Medallioned Magic Number Workshop

I also launched my Medallioned Magic Numbers Workshop Series.  It was fun to feed off of everyone’s excitement over our first technique and blocks we played with, what I call Improv Stellar Stars.  Some stuck with the Stellar block motif and others diverged. Some embraced favorite color ways or went scrappy like me.

Unlike other Medallion style quilts we’re not going to be growing our’s out from the center and systematically sewing them from there.

Since Magic Number Blocks (see tutorial here) automatically fit together for flexibility in design and construction we will be creating the parts and moving them around to see what other shapes and designs we can create.  Once we are happy with our design layout we’ll construct our top. It will be a surprise to see what ends up in the center I guess.

We’ll be creating borders in our next session as well as adding another class to accommodate the wait list.

But what I’m here to show you today is my Night Owl Quilt.

SEW KATIE DID:Night Owl Quilt Full Front

At one of my lectures this week I got a bunch of questions from an attendee about my Night Owl Quilt.  Typically I can send someone the link from my “Quilts” page where I post all of my finishes when they want photos.

 Night Owl Quilt was MIA from that page.

SEW KATIE DID:Night Owl Quilt

So as I ran out the door for Roan’s field trip I thought to grab it and my camera for photos on the morning ferry commute and make use of my minions.

The design is a pattern called Supernova that is published in our book Quilting Modern.

SEW KATIE DID/Supernova Quilt/Quilting Modern Pattern

I think quilters are drawn to reproducing this quilt pattern due to its simplicity of technique and construction.  I come across its remake online more than any other quilt in the book.

SEW KATIE DID:Night Owl Detail Front

The softness quality is exactly balanced for me on this quilt.  Soft colors, soft Essex, wool batting, Osnaburgh on the back, and just enough density of an organic quilting pattern all add up to perfect.

The only thing I wish I would have added are the spin-offs into the background.  There’s always something;)

SEW KATIE DID:Night Owl Quilt Center

I really love how the design allows you to play with just about any fabrics you’re in love with, including novelty if that’s your thing.  I’ve always been drawn to this Alexander Henry owl print and used it as my starting point, layered fabrics from stash as I built out.

SEW KATIE DID:Night Owl Quilt Back

Quilting swirls=Starry Night.

SEW KATIE DID:Night Owl Quilt Binding

I love these colors.  For some reason I’m smitten with the binding pick on this one. Something about the small scale tone on tone and the color of this fabric attracts me to hoarding it.  You can try to find it, but I’m pretty sure I bought it all so you couldn’t;)

There it is, Night Owl Quilt has landed on my Quilt page!

If anyone has suggestions of a graphic designer that does logos I’m in the market.  Please only  someone that has a real business, with a questionnaire to get us on the same page with design and fresh looking portfolio;)

Happy Monday Peeps!

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