Friday, January 30, 2015

Fun with paper piecing

Now, traditionally speaking, my family does the tried and true patchwork piecing method for our quilts: you take two pieces of fabric, you put them right sides together, sew the seam, and press it open.

I, however, am starting to feel a bit daring. I think the next quilt I start might be foundation paper pieced.

So why the paper piecing? Well, one of my favorite patterns is the mariner's compass.

As you can see, it has lots of long, skinny elegant points. The paper piecing method makes those points possible.

To learn about the paper piecing method, I found these tutorials very helpful. Maybe you will, too!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Quilts and copyright

Okay, so, I work at my day job as a librarian, and spend a lot of time with copyright concerns. I've enclosed some links below about what I've discovered about quilts and quilt patterns and copyright. I'm also going to take a moment and mention that I'm not a lawyer, and this post is not legal advise. Please consult a lawyer before making any legal decisions relating to any information below or found by following the links.

The basics of it is: you can't distribute the pattern or the illustrations in the pattern without violating copyright law. However, a product made using a pattern is considered a derivative of the copyright work, and may not be covered by that copyright. So, theoretically, it's okay to sell quilts made using a copyright pattern, just as long as you don't include the instructions or the images from the instructions, and don't take credit for the pattern being of your own creation.

However, some copyrighted works may have additional restrictions as to the original intended purpose of the pattern. (And this is where quilters who sell things can run into a bit of trouble...) Many patterns will include the statement of for personal and nonprofit use only. This intends that the pattern not be produced in mass market environment. So, no having a factory in China making zillions of quilts for you using that pattern and then reselling them. And no claiming that the pattern was yours and yours alone.

So, generally speaking, like with writing a paper, give credit for the pieces of someone's work that you use, and please don't ruin someone's chances to make a living from something that they've worked really hard on.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Making Joy-ful progress

So all of this cold weather seems to have me moving pretty quickly on my latest project: a variant on the "Joy" pattern by Whirligig Designs!

So what has started as a pile of fabric and a few blocks

has grown

and grown

and now just needs some backing fabric!!! 

And if anyone is interested, this beauty will be for sale in my Etsy shop at when it's finished!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Selecting shades

One of the reasons I love quilting, and I do, is that it lets me play with color. I've never been a steady hand with a pencil or paint-brush, but I can create a work of art with needle and thread and a few choice pieces of cotton.

This is one of my favorite patterns:

Delbert and Leona pattern
It's the Delbert and Leona pattern by Whirligig Designs. Now, I love this pattern for it's complexity and variations of size and shape along with the contrast of tone. It produces a great deal of visual interest.

But, I don't know about you, but I can be quite a klutz, and quilts with a lot of white in them tend to make be a bit nervous. Who wants to put a hundred hours of work into something to have it stained at the first little spill?

So, I played with color:

"Delbert and Leona" pattern by Whirligig Designs in Green and Gold, King Size"Delbert and Leona" pattern by Whirligig Designs completed in Blue and White, King Size

Clearly, the second one is much closer in color to the original pattern, but in both, the evidence of increasing the saturation of shades has brought out the ring pattern in the overall layout.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Quilting, the process

So what exactly goes into making a quilt? And for that matter, what makes a quilt different than a blanket?

Well, what makes a quilt a quilt is the two layers of fabric with some form of batting stitched between them, whereas a blanket can be just a single layer.

So, sounds pretty simple right? It's true, all you need to be able to do to make a basic quilt is sew in a straight line, and patience. Lots and lots of patience.

For me, a quilt starts with a pattern and fabric selection, then all of the fabric is washed, dried and ironed. This is a two-point protective measure for the finished quilt. Each fabric shrinks at a different rate after its first wash. By pre-washing the fabric, the risk for the completed quilt warping in the wash is diminished, and the risk for fabrics of different colors bleeding on each other is also gone.

Next, the pieces are cut, and the sewing begins. After each seam, the pieces are ironed open, ensuring a flat seam to prevent bunching. This step gets repeated until the top is assembled. The current record for greatest number of pieces in a quilt top I've finish was a postage stamp quilt (2" squares). There were 3,244 pieces, and it was only a twin size.

Once the top is assembled, it is layered with the backing fabric and the batting and pinned in place. I use exclusively 100% cotton fabrics and batting to ensure longevity and ease of care.

Now the actual quilting part of making a quilt begins. The elaborate stitch patterns found in quilts form little air pockets that trap warmth: this is why they are so delightfully cozy!

Finally, after all of the quilting is done, the quilt is trimmed to its final size, and bound by hand. I use a blanket stitch with about 10 stitches per inch, so they're very small and even.

All told, it takes about 100 hours of work to complete a queen size quilt start to finish!

Next post, fabric selection and choices! (Hopefully, with pictures!)

Friday, January 2, 2015

New Year, New Blog, New Projects!

Today marks day 2 of the 2015, and I'm happily checking off one more item on my New Years Resolution list: create a blog for Downeast Traditions!

So what is Downeast Traditions? Well, it's a small one (wo)man business I run out of my own home dedicated to producing heirloom quality quilts and quilted crafts.

Personally, I've been quilting for over 20 years, having learned from my mother, who learned from her grandmother (my great-grandmother), who learned from her mother, and so on and so forth. Near as I can tell, we've been at this well over 100 years. The style I grew up with was traditional New England patchwork.

I will try to be at this blogging thing at least a couple times a week, and will be back with more later about what the quilts are made out of!

Thanks for reading,