Thursday, February 4, 2016

Outlined Plus - putting it all together

Sorry I'm a day late on the QAL. Our weather here yesterday was not conducive to photography. My blocks are assembled and I wanted to get a good picture!

When it comes to assembling the quilt, it's really helpful to have a design wall to arrange your blocks in a pleasing way. A design floor works great, but there seems to be something helpful about looking at your quilts on a vertical surface. If you google "quilt design wall" you'll find lots of options, including some portable ones. They're really wonderful and I don't think at this point I could quilt without mine!

You want to arrange your blocks so that the blocks that jump out at you are evenly balanced throughout the quilt. Often those are the blocks with the warmer, brighter colors like red, orange and yellow. Some people spend lots of time agonizing and rearranging blocks, sometimes for weeks and that works for many quilters. I usually try to distribute the colors as I put them up on the wall and may end up moving one or two. Then I sew them together - takes me a few minutes. 

Often the hardest part is sewing the blocks together in the order that you've come up with. I have to admit, I'm so bad at that. I know there are several tools out there for numbering your blocks and rows, and I'm sure they work great. My method is to put a pin facing up in the first block of each row, pile them in order and then try to sew them together in order. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. I usually don't realize a difference until the blocks are sew together - and I seldom change anything. Do any of you have a good method?

We have about 2 weeks to go until the end of the QAL. Remember you only have to have 9 blocks completed to be entered. You can enter by:
  • Posting a photo on Instagram. Use the #outlinedplus hashtag and tag me @clammon.
  • Send a photo to me:
  • Send me or leave a comment here with the link to your blog or flickr account with the photo.
I will respond or comment on IG to let you know that you are entered, so if you don't hear from me be sure to try again. The deadline is February 17th!

One of the prizes is this mini Outlined Plus quilt made by me!

Cheryl is also offering one of the adorable Cathedral Window pincushions from her Etsy shop (US only) and 2 sets of 2 digital patterns each.

I also have an 8 fat quarter bundle of Day Sail (US only) to give away for 5 prizes in all. You still have time to make 9 blocks! Here's a link to the digital pattern if you need it: Outlined Plus

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Chasing Squirrels and the QAL

Have you heard the term chasing squirrels? It refers to dogs that are easily distracted and lose focus on the task at hand. My husband uses the term all the time as he gets easily distracted by something new that comes along. I hear this often - no, I didn't get that done - saw a squirrel!

I had to laugh when I read this post on my friend Cindy's blog, Live a Colorful Life. It's an interview with Sue from Chasing Squirrels. She talks about the origin of the blog name and how she, like so many of us, starts a project and is so easily distracted when something seemingly more interesting comes along. I love how one of my friends on Instagram dubbed it "the new project high".

At a time of year when so many of us have resolved to finish up those WIPs, it seems like a good time to think about how to stay focused or maybe if it's even necessary to stay focused on finishing a project.

I'm a prime example. I had all sorts of intentions to work on a few projects before starting something new. Then I saw a squirrel!

I ran across this post with a tour of the studio where the fabulous Cotton and Steel designers work. {If you haven't seen it - go!} I admire them so much and love their aesthetic. Then I saw a quilt on the wall. The block design is Arkansas Traveler and has been on my to-do list for a while. And done in Cotton and Steel?! I was gone!

I dropped everything {including my Outlined Plus} and just had to make it. Do you ever have those moments when you just have to try something? Maybe there is a "new project high".

The good thing is I loved making it and loved how it was turning out, so I stuck with it.

I drafted the block to 8" finished, made an elongated 4-patch and paper pieced the background around the 4-patch. There are 12 points that come together and most of those intersections are far from perfect, but I love it anyway. I quilted it heavily to flatten out all the lumps and bumps.

So today I thought I'd share my feelings on staying on task - for some of you that may be working to finish your Outlined Plus.

First, I think you have to know yourself. I would love to be more like Thelma from Cupcakes and Daisies or Rita from Red Pepper Quilts, who seem to be able to work on one project at a time and actually complete it before starting the next. But that's just not me and no matter how hard I try it never will be. And that's okay!

I love what Sue says in her interview with Cindy. How important is it really to finish everything? There are so many things we "have to do" in life, why make finishing a quilting project one of them? You should really hop over and read what Sue says - I think she makes a really good point. No need to feel bad about UFOs!

But I do like to finish things. I enjoy quilting more when I don't have too many ongoing projects.  Here are some ideas that work for me:

  • I know I can't do just one, but I try to limit the number of WIPs.
  • I keep an ongoing list of what I have started.
  • I put finished tops into a drawer, but anything I'm currently piecing is out in the open and there's only so much room.
  • If I start something and really don't like it - I give it up easily. There are many things I try that don't look anything like what they did in my head.

We all have to find what works for our own personalities and circumstances!

If you're working on the Outlined Plus - you do have a bit of an incentive. Remember there are some nice prizes up for grabs if you finish 9 blocks. The deadline is Feb 17th. It's just 3 weeks away -3 blocks per week and you've got it!

So where am I? After I caught the squirrel, I got back on track and finished my 30 blocks. They're ready to be sewn together and I'll be talking about that next week!

Do you have any strategies for staying on task? I'd love if you shared them in the comments!

In the meantime, happy quilting!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Social Media and the Outlined Plus QAL

How are coming along on your Outlined Plus blocks? On Monday, I had this on my design wall...

Some afternoon sewing yesterday and 18 became 24...

Don't you love that we have the tools to share our quilting adventures?

I'm guessing quilters have enjoyed sharing their work since the dawn of quilt making. Early quilters had Quilting Bees and I have to admit that I would not be the quilter that I am had it not been for my first quilt guild and all those members. I tried to do a google search on when quilt guilds first started and came up with nothing. My guess is that it was a pretty long time ago!

And now we have social media! Sometimes overwhelming with all the inspiration, but I feel it's a goldmine for sharing and ideas. Quilting is pretty much a solitary endeavor and social media can really bring us together!

Do you prefer Flickr? Blogs? Pinterest? Instagram? Facebook?

I'm still an avid blog reader, but I do love Instagram because it's simple, easy, quick and so visual.

The nice thing about Instagram is that I can see all of the progress on your Outlined Plus quilt on one page with the use of hashtags. I miss my sewing days with my friend Gina {@glshelley}, but the next best thing is sewing and sharing together on Instagram. Look at the gorgeous progress she's made on her quilt!

If you've been thinking about hopping on Instagram and haven't yet, and especially if you're joining in on the QAL, now's the time! Download the free app, set up an account, and be ready for some inspiration. There's a great tutorial here.

It's really pretty simple and here's my rundown on the basics of what you need to know...

Once you have the app and a profile, you're really going to just need the 5 buttons along the bottom of the screen:

Starting from the far right {the head icon}is your profile/home page. This is a screen shot of my home page. My IG name is at the top. You can click on my followers or following to find other IGers to follow.

The bubble with the heart icon shows the activity on all your posts - "likes", comments and new followers.

The center blue button is your place to post photos. You can take a picture using Instagram or use one of the photos already on your device.

The magnifying glass is your search page. You can search for people to follow or hashtags by typing your search into the box on top and choosing "people" or "tags".

The house icon is your feed. All the posts by the people you follow will be here in chronological order with the newest one first.

One of the things that I love about IG is no ads!

Two more important things to know:

Hashtags are written in your photo's caption or you can add them in a comment on your own posts. Adding a hashtag will put your photo into a pool with all other photos having the same hashtag. Click on the hashtag to see all of the photos. They are written like this #outlinedplusquilt {they do have to be spelled perfectly - one wrong letter or missed letter creates a whole new hashtag}

To tag a person you'll need to know their IG name. You'll tag them by adding the @ sign before their IG name. If you tag them in your caption or comment, your photo will pop up in that person's activity feed. To tag me in your photo, you would add @clammon to your caption or comment.

I know a lot of you are already using Instagram, but I hope this helps if you've been reluctant to try it. What a great place for us to see all the Outlined Plus quilts!

And if you follow me, you may have seen this photo yesterday...

It's a mini Outlined Plus block and will be part of one of the prizes for completing 9 blocks by Feb. 17th!

Monday, January 18, 2016

Plans for 2016...

I had big plans to write this post last week, but the flu had other plans for me.

Back on track and ready to share some of the things I'd like to make in 2016!

With most of my WIPs finished {I'll be quilting the last one on the longarm this week}, I'm so ready to start some new quilts!

I really like having a limited number of WIPs in place. Too many kind of make me feel crazy and my creativity goes into a slump. I thought this year I would work on having no more than 4 projects going on at one time. And that's how I started...

#1 - my Outlined Plus quilt

#2 - 60 degree Stars using Paperie 

#3 - Broken Dishes using Vintage Picnic and Bonnie and Camille stash

#4 Flower Girl using this floral as color inspiration and stash fabrics

Then this idea came to me - Arkansas Traveler using Cotton + Steel

And now I had #5

Then I needed some evening handwork and started this using my Bonnie and Camille 2 1/2" squares

And then there were 6!

So it looks like my four isn't working! It was time to readjust and I've decided to work on piecing two of the quilts, work on a small project {mini, pillow, pouch} and have one handwork project going.

Sound manageable???

That being said, I haven't limited how many quilts are on my list! A girl has to dream! In fact Terrazzo is coming to the top of the list!

How many projects do you have going at once??

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Outlined Plus QAL

Welcome to the second post for the Outlined Plus Quilt Along!

Have you started sewing yet? I'm up to 15 blocks! Halfway there!

I have a few simple piecing tips to share today, though the pattern is definitely not a difficult one. I don't know about you, but I always find the easiest way to piece a block when I get to about the second to last!

Here are some things I found helpful so far...

If you've cut your directional fabrics like I described in my last post, you definitely want to try to keep them in the correct position as you sew them. I like to lay out my pieces for a block on my sewing table (or one of those block holders would be great for this). Then I come up with a mantra for the order in which I'm going to pick them up. Mine is ~ Top, Bottom, Left, Right. If I stay consistent, I always know which piece goes where.

Let's talk about pressing. Do you press your seams to one side or open? I do both. I like to press open, because it creates a nice flat block especially when there are lots of bulky seams. I like to press to one side when I need to accurately match seams.

In this block I've pressed many of the seams open. But there's a seam where the top and bottom pieces match the center rectangle. I really want that seam to match perfectly so the "plus" doesn't have any visual bumps in it. So in Step 2, I've pressed my seams toward the D pieces. And in Step 4, I've pressed the seams toward the H pieces. I find more accuracy when the seams are opposing. They seem to nest and lock together.

As far as pinning goes, I don't pin excessively. But pinning is helpful at those seams that you want to match up. I don't sew over my pins, so my method of pinning is to place my pin just past the seam I'm trying to match. That way the intersection is sewn before I take the pin out. And speaking of pins - you really want nice thin, fine pins for piecing that are super sharp. A dull or thick pin will just shift your intersection and may do more harm than good. My favorite are Little House, but there are other brands that are great. Just be sure they're a good quality brand and say fine pins on the package.

{FYI - Little House pins are on sale at Fat Quarter Shop this month!}

I'm pretty pleased with how my seams have matched up!

Have you found any helpful tips for making the block? If so, share them in the comments so we can all benefit. And don't forget to share your progress on Instagram #outlinedplusquilt

Thanks again for quilting along!

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Outlined Plus QAL - Let's get cutting...

Have you selected your fabrics yet?If so, be sure to post them on Instagram #outlinedplusquilt

The next thing to do is start cutting. It's nice to get most of the cutting done, so that you can sit and sew whenever you get a few minutes.

I have most of my fabric cut. I usually cut a few blocks short of what I need. That way as I finish up the blocks and put them up on my design wall, I may find that I need more or less of a certain color  or value than I originally thought. I'm making the 30 block quilt and I have 26 of them cut. I'll cut the last 4 once the 26 are done. Make sense?

This block has a couple of seams that you probably want to "disappear". If you're working with a busy fabric or a solid, that will happen automatically. If you have some stripes or a directional fabric, Cheryl tells you in the pattern that you may need to alter the cutting.

There are probably a couple ways you could do that, but today I'd like to share what I came up with.

For your Plus section:

If you have a stripe, be sure to have the stripes going vertically for this diagram. When the block is pieced "B" will be sewn to the top and bottom of "H". If you cut this way, not only will your direction be consistent, but any stripes will match up because they're being cut right where they will be sewn back together. The "C" pieces move to the sides and the direction will be correct.

Here's how mine looked once it was cut and placed in position:

After doing all that fussy cutting, you want to be sure to keep the pieces organized and oriented. All my plusses are piled on a foam board covered in flannel. These are great block holders and you can find the tutorial for making them from Lori Holt at Bee in My Bonnet. I really need to make some more - they are so handy!

For the background, here's a diagram for an alternate cutting method, if you have directional fabrics or want to match stripes:

By cutting your "F" pieces as pictured {with the waste in the middle} your stripes will all line up when pieced back together. Be sure to have your stripes going vertically for this diagram.

I used my 15" square ruler to organize my pieces. Again, you want to keep them in order if you've done some fussy cutting.

I'm up to 9 blocks pieced together! Like all quilts once you get the rhythm the blocks go together pretty quickly. I made one block in about 20 minutes today {I know, I'm weird, I time myself}

Looking forward to seeing your progress!

Monday, January 4, 2016

Outlined Plus, Let's Get Started!

I'm so happy that many of you are joining me in making the Outlined Plus quilt. Quilting together, while in person or online, is always fun, motivating and inspiring. I love seeing many versions of one pattern. Everyone has their unique interpretation ~ I'm looking forward to seeing yours!

Let's start today with an overview of how it's going to work and a bit about selecting your fabrics.

  • Every Wednesday starting the 6th, I'll be here sharing my progress and some tips on making the quilt. 
  • I'd love you to share your progress on Instagram. If you're not on Instagram, you're missing out. There is tons of inspiration there, in a simple, easy format. I'll be talking a bit more about Instagram in one of my weekly posts. One of the great things about Instagram is that through hashtags, we'll all be able to see each others photos on one simple page. We'll use the hashtag #outlinedplusquilt. If you want some direction on getting started now, here's a great tutorial.
  • The Quilt Along will end on Wednesday, February 17th. You'll need to have 9 blocks completed to eligible for a chance at one of 5 prizes. Yes, I said prizes! Cheryl is offering a pincushion from her etsy shop (US only) and 2 of her digital patterns to two different winners. I'm offering an 8 fat quarter bundle of Day Sail by Bonnie and Camille for Moda (US only) and a handmade item {made by me} as a bit of a souvenir of the QAL.
  • You don't need to have a blog or be on social media to win! 
You can be entered to win a prize by completing at least 9 blocks by 2/17 and letting me know in one of three ways:
  1. Post your final photo on Instagram. Use the hashtag #outlinedplusquilt, tag me @clammon, and note that it's your entry in the comment. (This would be my preferred method for you to enter)
  2. Comment on any Outlined Plus blog post here before the 17th with a link to your blog or flickr and your photo.
  3. Email a photo to me at

I will respond to your entry, so you know you're in.

I'll remind you of all this again :-)

So let's talk today about choosing your fabric. My favorite thing! You already have your pattern, right?

Option One - Choose a collection. Designer collections are great because everything is already coordinated for you. Just cut and go! This pattern is so versatile - I can't imagine a collection that wouldn't be gorgeous!

Option Two - Use a collection plus. This is one of my go-to methods of pulling fabrics. I love collections, but I always like to add my own touch to them. Just find different prints that are of similar colors to those in your collection. Often using earlier lines from the same designer is an easy way to start. I'm using the new collection from Maureen Cracknell called Fleet and Flourish. The top row is the collection and the bottom row has the pieces that I added.

Option Three - Choose a color scheme and select fabric within that scheme. You can get ideas for color schemes from multicolored fabrics, photos, magazines or even some websites like Design Seeds. I like to collect color palettes and keep a Pinterest board for ideas. I got an email last week that had a mint, coral, black and white scheme. I pulled this group from my stash. I really like it and may have to use it for something!

Whatever colors you choose for this quilt, you probably want to be sure that what you use in the "outline" portion of the plus is in high contrast to the plus and the background. You don't want to do all that piecing and end up with the outline not standing out. Remember contrast means how light or dark one color is next to another. The outline portion is a great place to use a really dark fabric or a really light fabric, but it's always relative to your other pieces. Solid or almost solid would work well.

You can see that my white really stands out in contrast to my other fabrics in this block:

That being said, it might be interesting to make 2-3 blocks with lower contrast. A block or 2 that is a bit different from the rest draws the eye into the quilt. Viewers will naturally want to examine the composition a little longer to "figure" it out consciously or unconsciously. I love adding a "wild child"  block or two to a quilt! Maybe in a sea of blue and green blocks, you might add one red one!

Here's a great example from my fabric pull of a block with lower contrast...

That's it for today! I'll be back on Wednesday to talk about cutting. If you have a fabric that's directional or stripey I have some directions on how to cut that so everything lines up.

If you have any questions throughout the QAL, please leave them in the comments. I'll answer them there so everyone can see. {You know you can always email me}

I'll be labeling all the QAL posts, so you can click on the label in the lower right.