Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Knepp uses Spoonflower to promo SpellBound Books

Marilyn Knepp's Spellbound tote made with Knepp's unique fabric
created at design-your-own-fabric site, Spoonflower. (Front panel shown)

Ann Arbor quilt artist Marilyn Knepp shared her latest project -- a totebag promoting her daughter's tech firm, SpellBound Books -- with fellow members of the Greater Ann Arbor Quilt Guild on Jan. 16, 2016. Knepp used features of the SpellBound logo to create an original fabric from the design-your-own-fabric website, Spoonflower. She also created a coordinating, striped fabric for the totebag.

Knepp said:
This was my first foray into Spoonflowering and now I can think of many reasons why I'll be making more -- even though I am not a fabric designer. In addition to admiring my bag, I hope your readers will look at the Spellbound website (address conveniently highlighted on the tote bag), and consider Spellbound's Indiegogo Campaign to fund a pilot project at Mott Hospital.

Reverse side of Marilyn Knepp's Spellbound totebag with Spellbound URL. Knepp created fabric panels
 using Spellbound publicity materials on the Spoonflower design-your-own-fabric website.

SpellBound's pilot project with C.S. Mott Children's Hospital in Ann Arbor allows contributors to donate SpellBound books to Mott and to support SpellBound's goal as reported on their website:
With the SpellBound mobile app, paper books become an interactive experience. Hold a smartphone to the pages of a book like a camera and watch characters leap from the pages in 3D, listen to the story as it is read aloud, and touch words on the paper page to hear definitions. We have reimagined reading using augmented reality technology, making a sixteenth century technology fun and engaging for twenty-first century kids.
Christina York and Marjarie Knepp, SpellBound Books
Knepp made the tote for her daughter to use on SpellBound business calls. She said:
It has been a really exciting year for them; they first pitched the idea of this app in late November 2014 and won the Detroit Global Startup competition. Since then, they've started the business, developed the app, signed up a few authors and have a pilot project with a publisher and the Mott project underway.  
When they call on authors, publishers, or potential customers or display at a job fair or trade convention, they carry a lot of books and devices. They needed a good-size, sturdy tote bag for the purpose. I had never made a bag of any type but I wanted to make the perfect bag for them -- one that would entice conversations as they travel, and possibly encourage people who see them to find out more about the company and its product. I knew that their logos would be the perfect designs. 
I modified an Amy Butler pattern for the bag. The pattern is called the "Reversible Everyday Shopper" and is included in her book Amy Butler's Style Stitches. I made a test bag before ordering because I wanted to be sure that I knew how much of each fabric I would need, and also to be able to correctly place the panel design on the yardage. 
The original bag was way too big and I did not think that the attachment of the handles was sturdy enough. I modified the pattern by taking 4" off the bottom of the front/back/sides.  I also decided that I would make longer handles and sew them on the full length of the bag to make certain that the stress would be distributed rather than just having them sewn into the top seam.
Stylish and strong -- what could be better! Thanks, Marilyn, for sharing your work with us.

UPDATE March 20, 2016: See Marilyn Knepp's own account of her Spoonflower experience on the Greater Ann Arbor Quilt Guild weblog at http://www.gaaqg.com/spoonflowering/.

Monday, January 18, 2016

GAAQG site goes live

Screenshot of GAAQG's new website designed by Hoyden Creative Group, live Jan15, 2016.

Unveiling the brand new Greater Ann Arbor Quilt Guild website by guild president Sonja Hagen was the highlight of Saturday's bi-monthly, quilt-day meeting. The new site, created by marketing firm Hoyden Creative Group based in Adrian, Michigan, went live Friday night, Jan. 15, 2016.

Hagen and the new webmaster Mary Beth Donovan, along with blogger Kathy Schmidt and several members of the website team have been working for months with Hoyden to create an up-to-date, interactive site.

"Our goal was to build something that would serve as a valuable resource to our members and the wider community," Hagen said.

They hit the bullseye; check it out!

Quilt day speaker, Frieda Anderson
Fiber artist Frieda Anderson  presented a lecture on the topic of "Free motion quilting" and gave some tips that I am going to try:
1. Use an open-toed, hopping foot instead of the closed toe, to make handling threads easier.
2. Use a clover self-threading needle to handle threads left on top of quilt after stitching
3. Use Neutrogena Hand Cream instead of gloves to grip work.
4. Use mechanical pencil with ceramic lead to mark your quilt top with quilting motifs.
5. Use sizing, not starch to stiffen your fabric.
6. Use 505 Temporary Adhesive basting spray to position quilt sandwich.
7. Use a sharp-shank needle for all quilting. Choose the right size based on your thread type. 
8. Replace your needle after eight hours of sewing, or when you replace your bobbin.
9. Use The Bottom Line lint-free cotton for bobbin thread, no matter what top thread is used for quilting.
10. Install a single-needle throat plate when quilting -- but don't forget you have it in!

Show and tell 
One of the members during show-and-tell shared a handmade tote she had created using her own original designed fabric from Spoonflower. She used logo materials from her daughter's business to create the fabric. In the rush, at the end of the meeting I missed talking to her, but maybe if she sees this note, she will share a photo with us.

UPDATE Jan. 19,2016: Thanks to Marilyn Knepp who sent photos and comments about her totebag, featured here on Appleton Dance.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Easy house block from Missouri Star

Mini-house, pattern by Missouri Star Quilt Co. Runner created by L. Theil 2016.

I love the look of a house block, but most I've seen seem complex and more suited for paper piecing than traditional piecing, so I was intrigued by this simple little house block demonstrated by Jenny Doan on the Missouri Star Quilt Company channel on YouTube. Doan uses raw-edge applique for the door and windows and cuts the roof pieces using a half-hexigon template. The only tricky part of the piecing is matching the roof half hexigon to the roof-background half-hexigon. If your seams are not accurate, the roofs -- which are made in a long row separate from the houses -- may not fit their houses nicely. Using a quarter-inch seaming foot can help with this difficulty.
Learning to match those hexi angles neatly comes with experience.

Quarter-inch seam foot with guide edge for Janome sewing machines

Doan offers videos on how to make this simple house block in two different sizes: a large option using ten-inch precuts for the "Won't You Be My Neighbor House Quilt" and a tiny option using five-inch precuts for "Mini House Table Runner".

I thought the simplicity of the block lent itself to lots of creative options in terms of fabric choices, embellishment, and use in quilts, runners, hangings, totes, clothing, toys, etc.

For my version of Doan's mini-house runner, I used selections from "Sturbridge" layer cake by Kathy Schmitz for Moda, and "Kansas Winter" charm pack by Kansas Troubles for Moda. These precuts offer a lot of fabric options, but working from five-inch squares cut from a fabric stash would be just as much fun.

For a runner of two rows of six houses per row, you will need the following materials:

  • 12 five-inch squares of varied fabrics for houses
  • 6 five-inch squares of coordinating or contrasting fabric for roofs -- cut 12 roofs using five-inch, half-hexigon template. You may purchase a five-inch, half hexigon template, or use the pattern for template provided here. (Please see note at bottom of post.)
If background is to be all one color, you will need cut from that color:
  • 7 five-inch squares of background fabric, cut each square in half to make 14 2.5 x 5-inch spacers between houses
  • 6 five-inch squares of background fabric -- cut 12 roofs using five-inch, half-hexigon template. Cut two half-hexi roofs in half to make an end piece for each end of the two rows of roofs
  • one-eighth yard of background fabric 4.5 x 42 (or width of fabric yardage) for center of runner.
For doors and windows, you will need all one color or various colors as desired. For all one color doors and windows you will need:
  • 1/8 yard of fabric, fat quarter, or scraps as desired
  • 1/2 yard of 12-inch wide  Steam-a-Seam 2 double stick fusible web (or other widths to equal this amount of webbing).
To prepare your fabric, fuse Steam-a-Seam 2 to back of fabric that will be used for doors and windows. (To fuse, remove printed paper from web and place fusible side down on back of fabric. Iron. The unprinted paper backing will remain on the web.) Cut the following pieces from your fusible-backed fabric:
  • 24 1-1/4 inch squares for windows
  • 12 1-1/4 x 2.5 inch rectangles for doors
5/8 yard of backing fabric
5/8 yard of lightweight batting
3 yards of binding


Use 1/4-inch seam allowances throughout.

Lay out your houses with their roofs in two rows facing away from each other.

To construct a house row: Place one 2.5 x 5-inch background piece between each house in one row, beginning and ending the row with a background piece. 

Stitch one background piece to each house then stitch each house and background pair to the next pair, and continue to form a complete row. Press as you stitch the seams, pressing seams toward the background piece.

To construct a roof row: Place one background half-hexi upside-down between each roof piece. Stitch a roof piece to a background half hexi, then stitch the next roof piece, alternating roofs and background to the end of the row. Press seams toward roof pieces.

Cut one roof background half-hexi in half.

Sew one of these pieces to each end of the roof row. Note: if you want your ends to be as wide as the background between houses, cut two end pieces and trim off angle only, instead of cutting in half. This will give you a piece of background between roofs that is as wide as the end background between houses.

One roof row and one house row completed and ready to be stitched together.

Place roof row face down on right side of house row with right-sides together, pin or hand baste in place. Sometimes you have to repin and massage the roofs in place on top of the houses. Stitch the roof row to the house row; use a quilt (or doublefeed) foot on your machine.

House row with roof row attached.

Cut fusible-web backed fabric into door and windows.

Remove paper backing from back of each door and window as you prepare to place it on a house. (To remove paper, scratch lightly with a pin, or rub a corner with a thumbnail to release the paper from the webbing.) Place doors and windows on each house in a position you like. Iron into place. Note: Make sure bottom of door is at least 1/4-inch from bottom of house. (Photo shows paper backing removed from door and window pieces.)

With right sides together, sew the 4.5-inch-wide center strip to the roof/house strip, matching the tops of the roofs to the edge of the center strip.

Row of houses with their doors and windows fused in place, and median strip attached to roof edge of house row.

Repeat process to create the second row of houses and roofs. 

Sew the second roof/house strip to the other side of the median strip, matching the tops of the roofs to the edge of the median strip. Iron on windows and doors.

Enhance, if you wish, with paint, embroidery, beads, 3-D fabric embellishment or any choice of decoration.

Spray the lightweight batting lightly with spray-on adhesive such as Sullivan's Quilt Basting Spray. Place backing, right side up, on batting. Turn over and spray the other side of the batting with adhesive. Place house panel, right side up, on top of the batting. Pin, or hand baste to hold quilt sandwich in place. 

Free motion quilt, as desired.


Completed mini-house table runner.

Directions for making a single house block

Kit for single house block:
  • One five-inch square for house
  • One five-inch square of background fabric, cut in half to make two 2.5 x 5-inch rectangles of background on either side of house
  • One five-inch square of background fabric, cut in half using 5-inch half-hexigon template to make two background pieces for either side of the roof. 
  • One five-inch coordinating fabric for roof. Use half-hexi template to cut one roof. If you wish to also use this roof fabric for door and windows, cut one 2.5-inch square from leftover half of 5-inch square used for roof, and prepare the leftover 2.5-inch square by ironing Steam-a-Seam 2 double stick fusible web to the fabric before cutting the windows and door. If you choose a different fabric for doors and windows, prepare that fabric with fusible web before cutting.

To stitch block (using 1/4-inch seams):
  • Sew two background rectangles, one on each side of the house square.
  • Sew two background half-hexigons, one on each side of the roof half-hexigon.
  • Iron door and windows onto house square in positions you choose.
  • With right-sides-together, sew roof strip to house strip.
  • Trim angles from roof background, even with house background.

Sash, border, and/or seam as desired. Embellish as desired. Make quilt sandwich and quilt if desired. Use in totes, clothing, toys, quilts, runners, hangings or any use you choose.

NOTE: Hexigon templates:
Kati of "From the Blue Chair" weblog offers this page of hexigons to print. For your half-hexi template, choose the five-inch hexigon and cut it in half to use as a pattern for your half-hexigon template. Cut your template out of cardboard, template plastic, sandpaper, or whatever material you wish to use. Please see