Monday, September 30, 2013

Birds of a Feather Flock Together

Imagine waking up one morning and seeing this on your front lawn:

That's right! Plastic flamingos are now trendy. "Flocking" is a gag gift idea turned fundraiser. Many companies on the Internet (really; just Google search: flocking a lawn) offer flocking as a service. It's touted for milestone birthdays and events or just for fun. High school and church groups have transformed the idea into a fundraiser, where houses that have been flocked donate to have the pink birds removed from their lawn and then suggest the next victim. The fundraising idea comes complete with "flocking insurance" that can be purchased to ensure these feathered friends don't end up on your lawn. 

Enough about flocking...back to the birds. Because while pink plastic flamingos are all in good fun, the actual bird is a majestic, amazing creature. 

Who better to feature birds on fabric than Ro Gregg? An avid bird lover, Ro's latest collection, Birds of a Feather, features flamingos and other feathered friends. Why birds? No doubt you've seen birds showing up in home decor  and even apparel--quilting is the logical next stop! 

Ro says, "I've taken inspiration from our avian friends to create a collection for quilters to fill their 'nests.' Birds have a complex culture--they have such amazing building skills, in weaving their nests and creating a cozy space for their babies."

The collection's main pattern is a printed aviary of some of Ro's favorite feathered friends: owls, cranes, woodpeckers, ducks, hummingbirds, as well as some more common every-day birds (and don't forget the flamingos!). 

Other coordinates include two feather prints--one larger and more literal, and the other more geometric. (Wouldn't it make a great textured border or binding?)

Ro also chose a palette for the Birds of a Feather prints that would coordinate with the Marblehead Pleasing Pastels for variety that goes on and on. It just makes you feel tropical, doesn't it? 

Find a free pattern using the Birds of a Feather collection on our website. In addition to the center pieced blocks, the pattern features a flying geese (how appropriate!) border. 
"Tailwind" by Tresa McConachie
See the entire Birds of a Feather collection by Ro Gregg here

Friday, September 27, 2013

Two by two...

Happy Friday! 
If you're looking for an adorable, quick baby quilt idea, look no further! 

Noah's Ark is a hugely popular theme for little ones, and we think you'll love our latest version. (And we know you'll love the name: Rock the Boat!)

1 panel + a border or 2 + binding, and your quilt is done!

Panel measures 36" x 45"
Pair this sweet panel with the collection's coordinating prints:


Love a graphic striped main border

 Narrow borders and binding?!

See the entire collection here.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

What's in a color?

We thought we'd have some fun with color today. What is your favorite, and why?
This article from freshome Design & Architecture explores room colors and how they affect your mood. Sure, paint is great, but fabric is more fun, so we've pulled some of our favorites in each hue to coordinate with the article's explanations!

Yellow - increases metabolism, brightens rooms, gives you energy

Dining Room:
Red - encourages appetite

Living Room: 
Lavender - calms the nerves, allows relaxation

Green - tranquility and health

Girl's Bedroom:
Pink - calming, warm

Blue - most productive color

Do any of the rooms (or quilts) in your house match up with these recommendations?

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Fall colors in all their glory

As the leaves start to turn, we can't help but be excited about fall! Those rich, glorious colors...
Sue Harvey and Sandy Boobar of Pine Tree Country Quilts used the inviting prints from our Fall Tapestry collection to create a table setting that brings those delicious colors into your home. 
"Autumn Tapestry" by Pine Tree Country Quilts;
featured in The Quilter October/November 2013
Q. What drew you to the Fall Tapestry prints?
Pine Tree: The richness of the colors. They all have a golden feel to them, and we loved the idea of bringing fall colors into the home through a table runner and coordinating placemats.

Q. Favorite print in the collection? 
Pine Tree: It's a toss-up between the large leaves on black and the circles.

Q. How did you decide on the design for the runner and placemats?
Pine Tree: We knew this was a fabric line that could do all the work in a visually simple design. Turning sashed squares on point adds an extra element to the design--sort of dresses it up a bit and creates movement. The arrangement of the different fabrics [rather than a random, scrappy layout] adds an elegance to the runner, too.

Q. And the decision to use black as an accent?
Pine Tree: The black sashing and binding really helps the prints to pop. They almost jump out at you! And the rust cornerstones bring in a little extra color since the prints we chose to use in the runner are primarily green and gold.

Find the kit for Autumn Tapestry here.
See the entire Fall Tapestry collection here.
Find The Quilter magazine here.

Love the Fall Tapestry fabrics? See another quilt made with these prints here

Friday, September 20, 2013

Come rock with us!

One of the most inspiring parts of being in the fabric business is seeing how designers use our products. We love seeing what their creativity leads to, and "Rockin'," by Terry Albers, is no exception. Look at how she used Ro Gregg's Rock Around the Block prints combined with Marblehead Global Brights in this cool quilt!
"Rockin'" designed by Terry Albers and machine quilted by Sandy Schilawski;
featured in Quilt Trends fall 2013

Q. What attracted you to the Rock Around the Block fabric?
Terry: I think it was the rather wonky shapes that first appealed to me…along with Ro’s Marblehead Brights.
This fabric does all the "heavy lifting" to make Terry's quilt so neat!

Q. How did you come up with the design idea?
Terry: I designed this quilt from the outside in.  I started with Ro’s print as a wide border. I wanted blocks to repeat the feel of her design without taking away from it.  That is when I chose the layered bull’s eye block. I have always loved the raggy bull's-eye technique. The blocks are easy to make and quilt has double snuggle factor after it is washed and the edges of the circles fluff up.

Q. Tell us about the bull's-eye circles.
Terry: I started with a main print square, two different Marblehead circles and added the top circle with a centered motif. I was looking for an opposite of this for an alternate block, so I used a Marblehead square, print circle and then two Marblehead circles. Then I took it one step further; sewing sets of circles together, cutting them in fourths, mixing them up and sewing them back together. This worked best by anchoring the pieced circles to just one color for the squares. The trickiest part was organizing the cutting to write the pattern!

Q. What do you like best about this quilt?
Terry: Another easy question…I love Ro’s bright colors.  I like that it’s bright and busy but orderly; the sashing and Marblehead borders give your eyes a place to rest and contain the busy-ness of the blocks. 

Q. The cornerstones have such a neat look! Did you plan to use the print from the beginning, or did you try tonals for those squares first?
Terry:  Yes, I did audition the regular Marbleheads but they didn’t add anything to the quilt. I also tried fussy-cutting the cornerstones but, in the end, random cuts worked better.

Q. Can you talk about the machine quilting decisions?
Terry: I asked Sandy to quilt everything but the bull's eye circles.  Then I put on my free motion foot and quilted the circles, spiraling out from the center.  (I often plan to fine-tune the quilting to highlight certain areas or components of my quilts.)

Q. What do you envision this quilt being used for?
Terry: Wouldn’t it make a great tween or dorm quilt? This one is earmarked for my granddaughter who loves bright colors. I also think this quilt would be great fun made up in black and white prints with the Marblehead accents, especially reds, oranges & yellows with black.

Find Rock Around the Block here and Marblehead Global Brights here.
Learn more about Terry and her designs here
Find the kit for this quilt here.
Find Quilt Trends magazine here

Thursday, September 19, 2013

You can never have too many...

Fill in the blank:
You can never have too many ____________.

Chocolate desserts?
Baby quilt patterns?

While we'd love to send a box of chocolates or some new Jimmy Choos your way, we're in the fabric business, so we'll stick to what we know, so baby quilt pattern it is! 

We love showing off quilts made from our fabrics here on the blog, and this one has an added bonus--it's a free pattern, courtesy of Quilt Trends magazine. Designers Sue Harvey and Sandy Boobar of Pine Tree Country Quilts created this sweet baby or child's quilt using Mystic Forest
"Hopscotch" designed by Pine Tree Country Quilts

They chose the monkey print, as the main fabric, but you can use elephant or bear prints and change the palette as you like. 

Find the free pattern for the "Hopscotch" quilt here.
See the entire Mystic Forest collection here.
Find the kit for the "Hopscotch" quilt here.
See Quilt Trends magazine here.

Like Mystic Forest?
Check out some other projects made with these adorable children's prints.

Our spring Quilt Market booth photos

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

10 Ways to Use Tonals

This post is light on images but heavy on links. And trust us, they are worth the clicks!

By now you're familiar with Ro Gregg's Marblehead fabrics, and the Marblehead Challenge. We've even shared several tutorials using these rich, textured tonal prints. 

We've got more good news if you're a tonal lover: a new collection called Leather

Whether you're a fan of Marblehead, Leather, or even our Focus II prints, the following 10 links offer up inspiration as to how you can use these fabrics. From free tutorials to plain old eye candy to books you can purchase, we're sharing links for some of our favorite ideas for using tonal prints. 

1. "Graduation" quilt by Amy Ellis, featured in her book Modern Basics

2. "Starflower" quilt tutorial, made using half-square triangles, by Jennifer Mathis of Ellison Lane

3. "Lil' Twister" quilt tutorial (tessellating pinwheels!) by Jackie Kunkel of Canton Village Quilt Works

4. "Pick Up Sticks" improvisational piecing pattern by Faith Jones of Fresh Lemons Quilts

5. "Modern Mirage" by Lee Heinrichs of Freshly Pieced (she's got another gorgeous HST rainbow quilt that you'll see in this link as well!)

6. "Tiki Temple" by Natalie of Beyond the Reef Designs (beautifully quilted by Angela Walters of Quilting Is My Therapy)

7. "Solid as a Block" quilt by Ann of A Girl in Paradise

8. "Broken Dishes" quilt by Rita of Red Pepper Quilts

9. "City Quilts" book by Cherri House. This post is an interview with Cherri by Emily Cier of Carolina Patchworks, and as a bonus you get to see several of her quilts from the book. Cherri has since put out a second book, "Urban Views," in the same vein. You can find both these books through C&T Publishing

10. Craftsy's post, "Painting with Patternless Fabric"offers seven different ideas for using solid/tonal fabrics.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Big block quilt designs

What's the best way to show off fabric you love? 
Choose a BIG quilt design. Save the 9" square blocks for another project; just go large. (Added bonus: bigger pattern + bigger pieces = faster assembly!)

If you're looking for a recommendation, we'd like to offer up the "Imperial Star" pattern by Tammy Silvers, available on our website. At 86-1/2" square, this beauty will shine on a bed, all radiating out from the center star. Tammy used one focal fabric and several tonal prints to create a stunning design. And, even though the focal fabric is a packed floral, the quilt is not super feminine--perfect for a sophisticated master bedroom!

Find the free pattern for "Imperial Star" here.

The fabrics?
They're from Imperial Garden, a new autumn-hued floral collection also packed with coordinating tonals. See larger swatches of these fabrics here, and ask for them at your local quilt shop. 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Do you Dresden?

Tammy Silvers used the monochromatic Roses are Red collection to create a Dresden beauty with a vintage feel. Gorgeous!  The pattern for this quilt is featured in the October-November issue of Quilt magazine.
"Roses are Red" by Tammy Silvers 

Q. Why did you decide to make a Dresden Plate design?  
Tammy: Even though the prints are obviously floral, reds and pinks remind me of little hard candies - so I decided to embrace that impression and combine it with a traditional dresden plate block. I think dresden plates are fun to work with, especially these with the pointed tips.  Once you get past cutting the templates (and using a great template ruler designed for them, such as Creative Grids' Dresden Plate ruler), it is smooth sailing.  And while it is a plate—a circle, you're actually stitching straight lines.  How cool is that?

Q. Can you talk about the on-point layout you used?
Tammy: The dark red narrow sashing frames each block and lets each one shine.  AND it has the added benefit of making the quilt easier to construct! Sashing and cornerstone blocks help quilts keep blocks straight.  Have you ever put a quilt together and when you get done, realize that it "tilts" to one side?  I certainly have - proof that every fraction of an inch off really does add up!

Q. What is your preferred appliqué method and why?
Tammy: While this quilt LOOKS very traditional, and it certainly can be made traditionally, I tend to favor methods that speed things up.  I fused the blocks on with narrow strips of fusible (set in a large "block" format, leaving the tips free); the edge stitching was a blanket stitch, which is definitely a favorite of mine, and done just around the center.  The blocks would be charming with blanket stitch around each blade.  I certainly hope that if someone does do blanket stitch around each block, they will share pictures with us.  I would love to see that!

Q. What attracted you to the Roses are Red fabric line?
Tammy: This is a terrific line, in that it has a great range of tints and shades of the red family AND it is a nice variety of print scale and type.  There are some nice geometric style prints, and the florals run from small tone on tone to large-scale prints.

Q. What are the advantages and challenges of working with fabrics that are all one color?
Tammy: A monochromatic quilt can be quite dynamic - or it can be very boring.  The challenge is achieving variety through contrast.  It's an excellent opportunity to work on contrast - you will definitely understand when you're through that between your light (white, for example) and your dark (black, for example), the tints and shades of grey in between draw their contrast and place in the color scale from their partner - the other fabric you pair it with.  If you're pulling together reds from your stash, or from a quilt shop's shelves (even better, right?), you do have to make sure they play nicely together.  When working with fabrics from a single collection (like these luscious Roses are Red prints), that issue has already been resolved for you. They are designed to play together!

Q. With a red and white quilt we have to ask: did you worry about color bleeding?
Tammy: Pre-wash!  Did I?  Ha - I'm too impatient for that!  So I'll have to treat this quilt with kid gloves.  But I should have.  And even after pre-washing, with a high contrast quilt such as this, I would still test my fabrics to make sure all excess dyes have been removed. Pre-washing is always a good idea.

See the entire Roses are Red fabric collection here.
Find the kit for this project here.
Learn more about Tammy here.
Find Quilt magazine here

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Take our Paisley quiz!

How much do you know about paisley? 
Take our little quiz (interspersed with some of our favorite new prints!) and see how you do, and then check out our latest collection, Royal Paisley, and a gorgeous free quilt pattern using these regal fabrics. 
(Find answers to the quiz questions at the bottom of this post.)

1. Paisley is:
a) The last name of a country singer
b) A textile-focused town in southwest Scotland
c) A design motif of Indian or Persian origin
d) All of the above

2. The paisley shape is also called:
a) Persian pickles
b) American amoebas
c) Welsh pears
d) British kidneys

3. The design is thought to resemble:
a) A palm tree
b) A mango
c) A twisted teardrop
d) A stylized floral spray

4. The western name for this design came from:
a)  The French word "pays," which means "country"
b) Named after an 18th century French aristrocrat who favored gowns featuring the motif
c) The Scottish town of Paisley where paisley designs were produced starting in the 19th century
d) The English word "pay" because the woven motif was so expensive to produce

5. What is thought to have enhanced the paisley motif's popularity in the late 1960s?
a) The Beatles' pilgrimmage to India, which generated interest in Indian culture and spirituality
b) Breakthroughs in men's fashion, specifically ties
c) An interest in southeast Asia brought about U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War
d) Paisley print gowns for women and ties for men worn at the Academy Awards

5. What country sported paisley trousers during the opening ceremony of the 2010 Winter Olympics?
a) India
b) Azerbaijan
c) Scotland
d) Pakistan

Here's a look at the entire collection:

This beautiful star quilt, measuring 70" square, uses three different blocks to create an intricate overall design. How many stars do you see? 
Download the free pattern for "Royal Court," designed by Tammy Silvers, here.

Find the entire Royal Paisley collection here.

Quiz answers: 1. d; 2. a and c; 3. a, b, c, and d; 4. c; 5. a; 6. b

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Summer's over but Garden Paradise is just getting started!

Labor Day has passed; kids are back in school; fall is in the air; summer blooms are fading. 

It's the perfect time for Garden Paradise, a collection that will blossom all year long! 
We've mixed two multicolor florals with a small and large tonal print in multiple bright colors to create this beautiful line. 

Find a free pattern for the Garden Paradise quilt, designed by The Quilting Hen, here.
The block design features floral centers in a spinning pinwheel--perfect for highlighting the blooms!

A few of our favorite prints up close: