Sunday, January 31, 2016

Behind the quilt - Pixie Sticks

I thought I would share a little backstory on some of my quilt projects. I always find it interesting to find out where others get their inspiration for their creations and more about their process. It can just as often be very similar to mine - or completely the opposite.

I'll start with one of the projects from my book, Stash Lab - first up, Pixie Sticks, which is the smallest project in the book, a table runner. I have one drawer in my sewing room that has leftovers or orphan blocks from other projects. It also had leftover strip sets from other projects that I just couldn't bear to toss. I just needed to find them a new home. Cut down and paired with a simple steel gray solid with a linen texture, I came up with this...


Pixie Sticks table runner

Quilted straight lines with the walking foot
This one was so fun and easy that I decided to make it a second time - something I almost never do!
Pixie Sticks #2
I started with some beautiful scrap strip sets gifted to me by my friend Tracey - I love her scraps :) These were actually from another project of hers using Sew Kind of Wonderful's Quick Curver Ruler. I decided to work around the curves because the fabrics were just too beautiful to go to waste. Double score - the backing fabric was from her too! Here's where it started...gifted curved strip sets on the left.
Cutting down the curved scraps


1" wide scrap strips needed for the project
These scraps were more coordinated than in the original. The first time, I used leftover strips sets from several different projects to make the "sticks". This time, I paired the sticks with some plain unbleached osnaburg fabric. Have you tried osnaburg? I love it. It gives a nice, simple contrast to bright scraps with a beautiful woven texture. Ask for it at your favorite LQS, they probably have it. It can be a little stretchy because of the looser weave, so starch away!

A little big stitch hand quilting added the perfect touch to this project. Simple, modern and scrappy!
Big stitch hand quilting done with #8 perle cotton thread

Happy scrap quilting,

Tonya



Saturday, January 2, 2016

New Year, New Opportunities!

"Time waits for no one, but fabric stash hangs around a little longer...."
                                                                  anonymous

Happy New Year! I love January for the simple reason that I find it is the absolute best month to dive into some fun scrap sewing with no deadlines, no agenda, just good cleaning fun! There is actually some method to my madness. It's a great time to dig into my scrap bins and re-sort, clean out, make new discoveries and just have some fun in my sewing room after the craziness of the holidays.

With storage and organization in mind, I'm sharing this post again - not so coincidentally, from January 2014! - in case you are looking for some fun new storage ideas for your sewing space. I jazzed up some old hat boxes with selvages for a simple storage solution. And also because it's very timely...

You can listen here
Save the date! I'll be a guest on American Patchwork & Quilting Radio hosted by Pat Sloan - LIVE on Monday, January 11th!

Live Show time is
4pm - 5pm Eastern
3pm - 4pm Central
2pm - 3pm Mountain
1pm - 2pm Pacific

I'm excited but a little daunted by the live part...can't there be some lag time for editing in case I blow it?! No such luck. If you miss the live airing, it will linger on in the archives for posterity....forever!

Pat's topic for January and February is BIG IDEA: Solving storage and workspace woes! Every journey begins with a single step. We'll be talking all things Stash Lab, scrap quilts and anything else she throws at me. You can also enjoy all of Pat's past shows at creativetalknetwork.com/ available to download any time. They are great listening, especially while the scraps are flying under your presser foot. Hope you can join us.

Happy stash quilting,
Tonya

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Season's greetings

Amid all of the hustle and bustle of the season, I just wanted to take a moment to send you my warmest wishes and many thanks for your support and encouragement throughout the year. As this year winds to a close, I look back on all that has happened, places I've been and folks I have met, projects I have finished, and new ones just begun. It's also bittersweet. I miss loved ones we have had to say goodbye to as well and cherish my memories of them even more.

I have so much to be thankful for this year: projects in print, Stash Lab having its publishing date, good friends, support and love of my family, and new things to come in 2016 to share with you. So my wish for you all is that you have peace, health and happiness in abundance - and if not those, then people around you that you love and care for to help you through.


Merry Christmas and Happy New Year,

Tonya

Friday, November 13, 2015

Star Shuffle giveaway winners!

O.k....random number generator spit out #2 and #6...

so Bunny and Dena.... congrats! You are the winners of a copy of the Winter 2015 Quilts and More and mini-bundle of flannels from my stash! Please email me at tonyaalexanderdesigns@gmail.com with your mailing address for your goodies.


And thanks to all of you who played along and shared your recent recipients of your quilt gifts. It's great to see where you are all sharing your love and talent.

Happy stash quilting,

Tonya

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Star Shuffle and a Giveaway!

My quilting cup runneth over at the moment! So many good things to share with you and be thankful for and one of those this month is my quilt "Star Shuffle" that is currently featured on the cover of Quilts and More, Winter 2015. My ever-supportive and patient hubby was due for a quilt just for him. This was my attempt at a "guy quilt", if there is such a thing. No flowers, no fru-fru. Just some very manly grey/black/red combos in flannel, just in time for the fall/winter season.

Images used with permission from Quilts and More
 magazine and Meredith Corporation. Copyright 2015
 If you click on the images, they should expand and you can see the detail on the quilting.

Images used with permission from Quilts and More
 magazine and Meredith Corporation. Copyright 2015
Here's the flat shot of the whole quilt. I often like to vary the scale of a single block within the design. It just adds a little somethin' somethin' that I tend to like. The big star in the lower right is pieced in five segments and then appliqued on as a one piece. Very easy to do. Same shape, just bigger.
Images used with permission from Quilts and More
 magazine and Meredith Corporation. Copyright 2015

The fabric shopping for this one was fun. I love a fabric hunt! Once I decided the direction I wanted to go and had a handful of fabrics from my stash,  it was time to hit the shops to find some more to make the project complete. Many of them were Woolies Flannels by Maywood Studio, but not all. The background squares are all flannel, not something I usually work with but this quilt was going to be made to cuddle up on the couch in the winter with my honey so it was the go-to option. The applique stars are done with regular cotton fabrics.

Some of the flannels for the background squares.
Some of the cottons for the stars.

So a couple of things about working with flannels if you haven't before. First of all, I definitely recommend that you pre-wash your fabrics and dry on high heat. Flannels shrink like crazy at very different rates and you don't want that to happen after you have your project all sewn together. Also, flannel is super-linty (not sure that's really a word :) so prewashing helps cut down on the lint a bit. Even so, after you sew a flannel project together your machine is going to beg for a lint cleaning in the bobbin casing and a new needle!

I would also suggest using a generous 1/4" seam allowance. Some people even choose to use a 1/2". Whichever you choose, just be consistent throughout your project so all of your seams will match. And remember, if you use a wider seam allowance, your finished project will finish a bit smaller, too. I almost always press seams to one side and still did with the flannel, but some people find it preferable to press the seams open. Again, take your pick.

As for the applique, I used cotton fabric for the applique star shapes themselves. I chose to do needle-turn applique because I was toting these blocks around with me at the time and posted about that method previously here. You could also use fusible web and the directions in Quilts and More include directions for both methods. So do what you enjoy!

Many kudos go to Tracey who did a lovely job of quilting this one and made the stars really shine with the straight line echo quilting around each one. She carried those lines out into the borders as well and I think it fits the design perfectly! Thank you Tracey :)

So let's share some goodies, shall we? I have a couple of copies of the magazine to give away and I'll even throw in a mini-bundle of flannels from my stash to share with you for your project, how's that? If you'd like to win, just enter a comment below and share with us who the lucky recipient of your last quilt gift was. Easy enough? I'll draw two names next Friday, lucky November 13th! It will be lucky for a couple of people :)

And with that, happy quilting!

Tonya

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Quilt Market decompression in 3, 2, 1,....

Ohhhhh my! It's so good to be home. I just returned from my first trip to International Quilt Market (held the week before Quilt Festival) in Houston after 6 days of fun, fabric, and everything Stash Lab! Wow, what an experience.

My weekend started with a bang with a Schoolhouse presentation on Friday- Schoolhouse is for shop owners and retailers to see and hear about new products, fabric, books, etc. that are coming on the market for their shops. It was the fastest 20 minutes ever! Basically, my book in a nutshell, share the quilts and why shops should be interested in offering it to their customers. No small amount of stress for yours truly, but it went well, the feedback I got afterwards was very positive and it was a great start to a very busy 4 days.


I also did some demo time in the Martingale booth, chatting with shop owners and talking all things quilty. Also, very fun. Much of the rest of the time was spent just getting to walk around and meet and talk to some of the quilting world's most creative and awesome people. I'm such a fan! I tried to not be too much of a crazy quilt groupie - but it was hard! I can honestly say every person I met was friendly beyond belief and a thrill to meet and chat with. I would do it all again just for the chance to meet these wonderfully creative people.

Clockwise from top left: Tula Pink and Tracey, Jo Packham (Where Women Create), Lisa and Bethany from APQ, the Master himself - Kaffe!, Valerie Wells, Katja Marek, Sandy Klop (American Jane), Jackie Kunkel, Laurie Simpson and Polly Minick  (Minick & Simpson), and Kathy Doughty.
Another highlight was the Moda 40th Anniversary dinner on Saturday night. I was a lucky guest of Two Thimbles Quilt Shop (thank you Lee!). I am sorry to report my phone battery was completely dead by that time of night so I have not a single picture of the event, but believe me, it was a treat. More about this in a future post I think. Met some wonderful people there.

I tried to post a bit on Instagram @tonyaalexanderquilts while I was there but it was a challenge. Or, I should say, I was technically challenged! Wi-Fi was not my friend but that's o.k. Inspiration is everywhere you look and it's impossible not to be completely overwhelmed. Here are just a few peeks at things that I loved...


So, a few things I learned while at my first market...
1. Drink water.
2. Inspiration is everywhere and creativity is endless.
3. You can never pay too much for comfortable shoes.
4. Quilters are awesome people (I already knew this but it was happily confirmed!)
5. Drink more water!

In a nutshell, QuiltMarket 2015 was an awesome experience, Texas was lovely (even with the humidity, heat, and passing hurricane :) My special thanks to the crew at my publisher Martingale, Lee at Two Thimbles, my awesome travel partner-in-crime Tracey and to my friends and family who sent me packing with more love and support than my luggage could hold. I really, really hope I get the chance to go again. I would do it in a heartbeat.

Happy quilting,

Tonya

Saturday, October 17, 2015

A Perfect Setting

We interrupt the Stash Lab frenzy for a moment to bring you...A Perfect Setting...

“Used with permission from American Patchwork & Quilting® magazine. ©2015 Meredith Corporation. All rights reserved.”
 While I've been caught up in the excitement of Stash Lab finally hitting the store shelves this past week, another beautiful project got it's moment in the sun. This is my project "A Perfect Setting" and it's featured in the current Dec. 2015 issue of American Patchwork & Quilting. I'm also super excited to share that it will be hanging in the APQ booth next week at Houston International Quilt Market! The beautiful long-arm quilting on this one was done by Tracey Fisher. Cannot wait to see it again - it's been awhile since I shipped it off into the quilting universe.
“Used with permission from American Patchwork & Quilting® magazine. ©2015 Meredith Corporation. All rights reserved.”
APQ, December 2015 issue
One of the things I love about quilting and the creative process is how a single geometric shape can lead you to new places. This quilt is made completely with 60-degree equilateral triangles - traditionally known as a "Thousand Pyramids" quilt. Of course, before it looked like the finished project, it looked more like this on my design wall...
Definitely one of those projects that a design wall or surface is a must to help you keep organized in your piecing. This could have absolutely been a great addition to be included in Stash Lab, but this one wasn't under the presser foot until long into the book process. But it certainly follows the Stash Lab equations! Here's a sample of my collection of background fabrics that I used in this quilt...
Selection of background neutrals - a fun focus for a shop hop trip!
Most were collected on a single shop hop trip through Washington and Oregon a couple of summers ago. This is one of my go-to fabric shopping tips: pick a focus and let the hunt begin! I focused specifically on low-volume, light background neutrals. White, cream, beige backgrounds were all fair game. I mix them all the time. The brights in the floating diamonds were all scraps from my stash. A great example of old and new coming together to create something special. Hope you are inspired to dive into your own stash and see what you come up with!

Happy stash quilting,

Tonya