knit stitch bias applique quilt

by Dorie on October 29, 2014

knit stitch quilt

Helloooo. I’ve got actual things to say about this project I just finished up. ACTUAL THINGS.

I tried something new here—bias applique. I don’t think I had any idea what it was until I saw Debbie’s beautiful quilts when I started going to guild a couple years ago. I mean, I guess I knew that bias applique was how you could make a flower stem, but I didn’t think about it as a method for design. Applique, and particularly bias applique, just hadn’t been been something I’d seen much in my sewing circles. And by sewing circles, I mean the instagram feeds I follow.

Since then, bias applique has lingered on my list of things to try one day. One day…

knit stitch quilt texture

… like now-ish 2014! I think it’s so completely awesome that the Modern Quilt Guild has a bias applique challenge category for QuiltCon! I’m going to go ahead and say that most modern quilters have not done bias applique. How many even had it on the radar? I don’t know, but more people do now. And more people will be trying to learn this new quilt technique, and watching each others’ efforts. That is super. It’s a challenge that is actually challenging!

bias applique quilt close up

This project! This project is all about quilting loving knitting, or people who love to quilt and also love to knit. Or about how if you give a knitter a long piece of tape and ask her to make a quilt, she might knit you a quilt instead. The knit stitch itself is such an interesting shape—it overlaps and it hooks under. It looks like nothing, but can make a fabric. Lynn and I had a conversation recently about the relationship of quilting and knitting. There is so much there. Both knitting and quilting are about construction, but they look at fabric, pattern, and shape differently. Looking at those places is bound to yield some interesting cross-inspiration. Lets do more of it!

This knit stitch, with its curves and interlocking lines, seemed like a good, simple-enough, yet interesting, place to learn bias applique. I need a more process-y post with the details, but the overall idea is, I did learn it. It may have been infuriating at times, but it was interesting at every step of the way.

quilt helper

The base color is Kona celestial. Each bias strip is applied right to the base. I “knit” the strips by weaving them in and out with my hands. I thought about getting giant knitting needles, or pvc pipes, and I tried arm knitting, but really all that wasn’t necessary.

quilt back texture

The blue part of the quilt, behind the loops, is free motion quilted using a ziggy stockinette-like stitch. That’s some knitspiration from Lynn – that along with not being a chicken in my quilting choices! I had thought about just wiggly straight line quilting over the whole thing because I was intimidated about maneuvering in all those spaces. Plus, how long would that take? So glad I told myself to buck up and quilt it right. I love the texture of the result.


fresh pack quilt pattern

by Dorie on May 29, 2014

fresh pack quilt

Thank you, thank you for the love on my Fresh Pack quilt. That quilt surprised me. For all my hesitation and process churning, it is a really good quilt. And, yay – I made a pattern for it! But first, let’s talk about about inspiration.

Fresh pack was a quilt born out of a relationship with a knitting project. I have long loved the Inspira Cowl (by graphica on ravelry). I have wanted one and wanted to make one and watch its colors fall from my fingers as I knit. I started an inspira a couple years ago – the fingering version. I get it out every couple months and work on it until the crazy neck and hand pain of working corrugated rib on small needles makes me cry and shove it in a corner. But who can stay away? I wanted to do the thing with the color and the variation and the baltic braid. I took the rows and the braids and I turned them into stripes and flying geese. And then I enjoyed the color. I found that a pack of good solids is much like noro yarn in fabric form.

I shared my quilt and my pattern idea with Marcy (graphica) because I was so inspired by her cowl, and she had some wonderfully creative ideas for how to interpret it:

People will have fun with this. I can imagine some quilters achieving a heathery effect w/ tiny floral prints, or an edgy urban effect w/ the occasional large prints peaking among weathered solids; or tonal Indian blanket effect…

The fresh pack quilt pattern is free like Inspira is free. With sooo many solids out there now (and solid collections?!), there are just endless color possibilities and I kinda want to see them all. Yes? OK! The pattern is available on Craftsy. It has been tested by a wonderful group of testers. (Seriously, this pattern is so much better having others’ points of view.) Thank you Stephanie, Maria, Ronit, Kate, Emily, and Amy!

Make one and let me see!


somewhat herringbone quilt

by Dorie on May 6, 2014

somewhat herringbone quilt

At the end of this quilt, what I have to say is, Yes, that is the quilt I wanted to make! This quilt was gradual. I knew the feeling of the thing I wanted to get to, but I wasn’t sure at the beginning how I was going to get there. Wait, hold the phone – is that what improv is supposed to be? Mmm, I think so.

The very beginning of this quilt was a play with leftover whites. I thought I’d do a whole chevron quilt with all the different whites I had left from other projects. I was inspired by Natalie & co’s do good stitches quilt, and I used the this tutorial from six white horses as a jumping off point. It seemed like a good idea – I had different white and off-white quilting cottons, some white on white prints, some white linen – but it got boring quickly. I still think that would have been a good idea, but I would have needed more variety in the whites (and more patience).

Not really enjoying the white-on-white-on-white process, I decided to add some color. The mustard and aqua are pulled from the colors Meg picked for our first Kids Clothes Week web site season. I was deep into development and they were beautiful. And then gray, because I love gray.

I don’t know about you, but I have a hard time trying to make things look random. I over-think the randomness, and I didn’t want to do that in this project. So, my piecing process went like this: Cut up a bunch of strips of fabrics in varying widths and about the same length. Safety pin the strips in pairs. Put them all in a big sack. When ready to sew, pull a pair from the sack and sew it to the chevron row. I mostly stuck to this, but sometimes the next fabric was too wrong and I just couldn’t. My prerogative. (Points if you’re singing Bobby Brown now. More points if you have done a dance routine to this song.)

I finished assembling the quilt top at winter retreat with the Ann Arbor MQG, the perfect place to do such a thing. I was glad to be surrounded by quilters with good feedback! I knew I wanted the rows to have white space, but not too much white space, because the quilt is really about the texture of the herringbone. I messed around with the spacing and row order until I was happy with it.

And last, but in this case actually not least, the quilting. This might be the first time I was really excited about how the quilting was, for real, making the quilt even better. I quilted the quilt in zig-zag lines, loosely following the herringbone pattern. Like the strips, the space between quilting lines is varied.

Happy about it.


Maybe you get this feeling: when you have a new pack of markers, or crayons, or pencils, and they’re all just so perfect-pointy-beautiful and ordered that it’s hard to break into them and use them as tools. That’s how I felt about this fabric stack.

It was a bundle of 25 different peppered cottons, similar to oakshott or shot cottons, but in a quilting weight, and really noticeable soft. I bought them because I’d long admired others’ stacks, and when Brenda shared that the manufacturer, studioE, was having a quilt contest, I thought I had just the thing.

But then my idea didn’t work. It just didn’t. And all the fabric looked somehow purple. So, I put it all in color order and put it in a pile next to my sewing machine to just sit for some time. While I was giving the fabric the cold shoulder, I realized that what I really liked best about those gorgeous fabrics was the way they looked when ordered up next to each other. So why not keep the order instead or trying to force the color idea I had planned?

That’s what I did. And there is SO MUCH color. I mostly kept the order of my pile, but I injected a couple lines of flying geese in out-of-order colors, just to keep things interesting. It brightens up my corner.


eventual tulips quilt

by Dorie on March 3, 2014

eventual tulips quilt

A quilt without a reason can take a long time. I started the quilt “just because” back in 2009. I wanted to try working with a jelly roll, and I really liked the sweet little minny muu prints. On a lunch hour walk to Barnes and Noble (so picturesque, under the interstate), I found the tulips pattern in Pam and Nicky Lintott’s Jelly Roll Quilts and was smitten.

eventual tulips quilt

Since then I’ve worked on this quilt in bursts. I did some blocks, and put it aside. I cut all the pieces, and put it aside. I sewed all the remaining blocks, and put it aside. I cut the setting squares at my first A2MQG meeting, and put it aside, I sewed the strips together on the floor my new house, and put it aside, I pieced a back, and put it aside. And I finally decided to work on my free motion quilting and quilted the whole thing. Then promptly bound it.

So now it’s a quilt. I like it. It’s very cheery, so much so that I almost want to tell it, “Enough already! I get it – spring is coming, winter is not forever and you are tulips. Your symbolism is somehow a little aggravating.” Sigh. (I know I’m not the only one having warm weather fantasies.)

I don’t have a definite place for it. It’s a double, and I was going to put it on the guest bed, but the guest bed is now a twin. If it doesn’t look ridiculous I’ll do it anyway.


sew together bag

by Dorie on January 30, 2014

Sometime before Christmas I was seeing a lot of the Sew Together bag in my Instagram feed. It looked awesome – lots of pockets for stuff and ample opportunity for playing with fabric, but you know, everything that made it awesome also made it look a leeetle complicated. I gave it a go anyway.

The first one I made was for my sister. As I worked through the steps, pattern intimidation turned to that happy puzzle doing feeling.

Not that the instructions were puzzling. They weren’t, They were clear and even said things like, “you will need to sort of smash the pockets flat.” That is the kind of honesty I appreciate in pattern writing! Thank you for letting me know when it’s not pretty.

It comes together well, is fun to make, and in the end, a master zipper zips all the little zippers. This one went to Anna, my secret santa partner! I used some of Alison Glass’ sunprints fabric, and I thought about using all sunprint for the rainbow, but decided it was a little more fun to mix it up.

And in other news, it’s Kids Clothes Week. My kid is big, but I keep thinking I’ll do some nephew pants. I’m still building away at the site, though!


snowseeking shellseeker

by Dorie on January 8, 2014

This sweater is the best kind of warm—toasty and snuggly without being too hot. Wool sweaters are my most essential tool for successfully working out of a drafty house during a Michigan winter, and I am really pleased to be adding this one to my toolkit. I have worn it for much of the polar inversion!

The pattern is Shellseeker, which is styled to be like your best slouchy, at-the-beach-in-the-evening pullover. It has a sweatshirt-style pouch pocket! Mmm…cozy. I think the pattern yarn is a cotton-wool blend, but mine is all wool (Stonehedge Shepherd’s Wool Worsted). Less beachy, but definitely what I need now. I’m really happy with both the pattern and the yarn.

It feels like it took forever to knit (I started in March), but that’s only because I put it down for most of the summer. It wasn’t difficult. The stripes kept it interesting and the stockinette made for good TV knitting.

Stay warm!


testing before binding

Ladies, get your hatchets ready!

Do you remember who Carrie Nation, excuse me, Carrie A. Nation was? I can refresh your memory. She was the woman who famously took her hatchet into bars to smash up all the bottles full of demon rum. You’ve probably seen her depicted in old political cartoons looking both crazy and curmudgeonly. She was a woman doing outlandish things for her cause.

Carrie Nation Hatchet Quilt

The general public may have thought that she was nuts, but she was able to create a whole symbol for herself and the temperance movement. Hello hatchet. Hello branding. If you were a temperance supporter, you could get your very own hatchet pin or little “Carry A Nation” hatchet. The Grandmother’s Choice blog (very cool idea) has a good post with more about Carrie Nation and instructions for the Carrie Nation quilt block.

PS – Carrie Nation has a quilt block named after her.

carrie nation quilt

And that’s what I used as the base for this quilt. I took the traditional Carrie Nation block and laid it out in a zig-zag and pushed it toward the side edge of the quilt. I think the original idea of the block was to depict all the little pieces of the bottles flying (or maybe I am making that up), but my layout is meant to pick up the slashing of the hatchet.

Ah, the infinite options of this block. Carrie Nation.

I really like it, as a quilt. I used an old white sheet as the back, so it all very light and soft and snuggly. In the photos taken by the field, the color are washed out by the beautiful golden sunlight. The colors are correct in the other ones.

This is my second quilt in a modern exploration of temperance movement quilts. You can read about the first one, “T” is for Tipsy here.


an applique methods test

by Dorie on August 20, 2013

applique methods sampler

Hey everyone, I think applique is sneaking up on me. It’s moving from the “stuff I don’t do” category into the “stuff I might do” category. I blame you all.

Last week, I went to the AQS show in Grand Rapids, and I was really surprised that two of my favorite quilts (both by Timna Tarr) were both applique, and specifically, applique circles. I was at the show with Debbie (and Brenda and Ginia), who does really fantastic applique herself, so maybe that has something to do with it? Or maybe it was just being at a show with other quilters who can sum up your oooh-ing and ahh-ing into, “sounds like you might want to do some applique!”

So why not? I decided to do an applique sampler block so that I could do a side-by-side comparison of methods I have tried before. You know, I has hoping that I secretly found one of these methods to be great fun, and that I was also secretly very good at it. I made a petal shape, and executed it using needle turn applique, machine raw-edge applique, turned applique, and machine reverse applique.

one on

raw edge

Raw Edge Applique
So, I really should have fused my petal shape to my foundation fabric before zig-zagging over the edge. I think it would have come out better and the zig-zig wouldn’t have puckered the fabric the way it did.
Pros: quick
Cons: fabric is distorted from wrestling, how would it wash?

turned applique

Turned Applique
I don’t know if this method has a proper name, but Jenna does it for her applique quilts, so I thought I’d give it a go. I clipped my curves pretty well, but I still didn’t get a smooth edge. Maybe this would be better if I attached it using a blind hem stitch?
Pros: quick, potential for many/any shapes
Cons: bulk in seam allowance, very 3D, my topstitching is a mess

reverse applique

3 in

Machine Reverse Applique
I did what Rossie outlines here, but maybe it would have been cleaner if I used the 6 minute circle?
Pros: clean and fairly quick. cleaner if you do it the 6 min way without topstitching, at least if you’re me.
Cons: Reverse applique just doesn’t work in some situations, particularly layered, overlapping situations

needle turned

Needle Turn Applique
Many years ago, I did a doll quilt for Eva using needle turn applique and it hurt my neck and gave me headaches. I hear you’re supposed to drink wine before starting your project in order to combat this. My one petal went fine. It only took 10 minutes. It would have been better if I could have found my freezer paper for the template.
Pros: I like the look of not seeing topstitching, can be done on the go (handwork)
Cons: slower (but not that slow), getting a smooth edge is tricky.

So which one is best? I’m not sure. I think I’ll give the raw edge a try with fuseable web, and I’ll try the turned applique with the blind hem stitch. I’m not sure how to make my topstitching better. I asked my husband and daughter which they liked best, and they both really didn’t like the needle turned petal, but did like the raw edge. Before I did this little exercise, I thought needle turn would win and raw edge would lose. That didn’t happen. So confusing! I’m not ready to start any quilts yet, but a have a couple more methods to try.


knit doll shawl

by Dorie on August 17, 2013

doll sized simmer dim shawl

This shawl is for my friend’s doll, Fern. “Fern” was really Fern’s owner’s name a long time ago. She belonged to a great grandmother. If I try to tell Fern’s whole story, I am going to blow it because I forget the details, and the details are what make stories good. I’ll say Fern is about love in different family situations—I think that’s the gist.

shawl border

Fern wears the same outfit she has worn for generations. It may be a little worse for wear. My friend wanted something new for her, but I have to admit that I like her old outfit. What spruces up an old outfit? Why, a fabulous shawl, of course! I knit a shrunken version of Gudrun Johnston’s Simmer Dim shawl. It’s almost the same except I only did half the inner triangle rows and I didn’t zag the zig-zag lace at the edge. A little something for a doll who hangs around.