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Eads Quilt Along #2: Fabric Thoughts and Strategy.

Eads Quilt Along #2: Fabric Thoughts and Strategy.

First, I just have to say that this is really fun. So much of the time, I’m working on something in advance, and I can’t talk about it. But with this quilt along, I’m able to be a little more in step with you and share in the process.

Plus, it’s been incredibly fun watching you start your own projects and hearing your thoughts about fabric and moving forward. Some of you have more specific plans and some of you are taking things as they come. There is a lot on both sides resonating with me–which is inspiring–and I hope you’re enjoying that connection as well. You guys are awesome, and your work is shaping up in such wonderful ways!

Eads quilt blocks to start . Carolyn Friedlander

First up is a project flashback to my original Eads. This is the first block shot that I could find, so it’s more than 10 blocks, but I think it’s a good mood setter for this week. I’d like to point out the hot mess that is my sewing room. There are piles and piles of fabric on the floor, all of which are the options that I pondered for this version. While mess, stress and deadlines all loomed in the making of the original, it was still incredibly fun to make and figure out.

With my new project, things are different. There’s not really a deadline (other than this QAL…which might be one reason why I wanted to do it…ha!), and in terms of fabric, it’s a little bit of a blank slate there too.

Has anyone had issues getting started?

I did. In fact, while I find the beginning of any project to be exciting, the blankness of it can also feel overwhelming, especially once you start digging in and plotting out the specifics.

To start, the newest collection from UPPERCASE had me intrigued since I was lucky enough to come home with a bundle of it after Quilt Market. Top of mind is always a great place to start.

UPPERCASE volume 2 fabrics

I broke apart the bundle and started to play around with the colors and how they work together. Then I hit my own stash and started grabbing other things that were calling my name.

In the photo below, you can see how I first had the UPPERCASE bundle organized at the top, then below I started to mix pieces from that collection with the fabrics that I was pulling. At this point, I was also starting to figure out the relationships between the pieces.

Eads QAL fabric pull . Carolyn Friedlander

Some of the green pieces were really speaking to me. In fact, these larger-scale florals were hitting on an idea of scale play that I wanted to explore after making my first Eads.

Eads QAL fabric pull . Carolyn Friedlander

There’s not a ton of deliberateness that needs to happen at this stage. It’s mostly a step for seeing how different fabrics might work together.

Eads QAL fabric pull . Carolyn Friedlander

Eads QAL fabric pull . Carolyn Friedlander

If you saw my instagram post from the weekend, you know that what actually started to shape up looks nothing like this pile. So, here’s the plot twist.

At this point, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. In fact, that’s kind of what was starting to happen to me. While I easily could have started off with some of the greens, there was starting to be too many possibilities, and I was over thinking it waaay too much.

So, what did I do? Well, this is where I like to embrace coincidence and intuition. There was actually another pile calling my name, and it was the recent leftovers from making 2 shirts.

kalle dress shirts . Carolyn Friedlander

This is a lesson in how it’s ok to let the fabrics pick you. I’d made these 2 Kalle shirts–the top in a print from Architextures and the bottom in a Liberty of London print. The scraps from both were sitting around looking so cute and enticing together that I figured they’d make a cool block. Off I went.

Eads QAL 2 . Carolyn Friedlander

Sometimes it’s easier to start with something that’s already been started, or with something that isn’t so clean and pristine, because there’s much less pressure associated with it.

Eads QAL week 2 . Carolyn Friedlander

That’s what I did. And heads up, working from scraps is great, but it is definitely speedier working from the strips as outlined in the directions. I’m not complaining, but instead giving a heads up to any of you going this route. On the plus side, it does clean up the scrap pile!

After starting with these guys, I was able to get my creative juices flowing so that I could start thinking about the next fabrics to pull into the mix.

Eads QAL 2 . Carolyn Friedlander

Next up was some Arroyo, a new collection by Erin Dollar printed on Robert Kaufman’s Essex. (I love this collection!) I’ll note that I had just made a shower curtain out of this print…are you sensing a theme?

Eads QAL 2 . Carolyn Friedlander

And then I got brave enough to bust into some very treasured pieces that I picked up from Amitié while I was in Australia this past fall, along with a couple of pieces from carkai.

Eads QAL 2 . Carolyn Friedlander

So here’s where I’ll end this post with 10 blocks. I’m excited to be exploring some scale stuff–an area of initial intrigue–and I’m using some treasured fabrics in many of my favorite colors.

Eads QAL week 2 . Carolyn Friedlander

What’s also awesome about this, is that I’m now seeing a way to connect back to the greens and other fabrics in my initial pull. Playing the intuition card is usually a good one. Even though I decided to change course, I figured that I’d be able to work my way back. I just needed a creative warm up to overcome the overwhelm.

Eads QAL week 2 . Carolyn Friedlander

Here are my tips for the week:

+ Overcome the overwhelm by just getting started! Grab the first 2 fabrics within eyesight, and I’ll bet they’ll help you over the hump. Also, trust your instincts.

+ When printing out your templates, select the “collate” option in the printer dialog so that A and B blocks alternate. This way you’re working evenly through your stack.

+ I noticed some folks wondering about fabric storage and organization for this project online this week. Create a box/tray/other designated vessel to house your blocks and fabrics for this project. (This route is a little more tidy than my floor method…see first pic.) Here’s a pic of a box that I’ve designated for my fabrics for this project. As for the blocks, they’re stored away nicely on my design wall.

Eads QAL fabrics

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Eads Quilt Along #1: Getting Started.

Eads Quilt Along #1: Getting Started.

You ready?

Let’s start with your sewing setup…or actually, let’s start by taking a look at mine.

Carolyn Friedlander Sewing Machine Set Up

Here’s my current sewing set-up. I’ve got my sewing machine set up on a big desk. It’s huge, which is awesome, because I can also fit my serger and coverstitch machine on it without any problems. Since we’re talking about paper piecing today, I’ll save the specifics on my serger/coverstitch setup for later, but the above pic gives you a nice overview. You’ll also notice that I have a small folding table to the left of my machine. This is awesome and so handy. It gives you cutting and pressing space while sewing, as well as quilt-resting space for when you’re quilting. (FYI it’s also where I throw my smaller, non-straight-stitch machine when I need to sew buttonholes.)

As for (paper piecing) tools, here we go.

Paper Piecing Supplies . Carolyn Friedlander

From left to right and up:

+ Flatter. Yep, I use this, especially since I designed the labels for the newest scent. (See next pic for closer look)

+ Mini iron by Clover. This is a new addition as of the most recent Quilt Market. I’m obsessed with this iron and mad at myself that I didn’t get one sooner. I bought it to use during the show, but it’s quickly become my go-to while working.

+ Small ironing board. This last Quilt Market seemed to up my supply ante as this and the mini iron were purchased to use at the show, and I cannot imagine sewing without either of them! This mini ironing board came from Ikea. It’s $5 and I covered it in some Blake. Small and portable. It can’t be beat.

+ Cutting mat. You’ll need one. This 18″x24″ fits perfectly on my folding table and lives there 99% of the time. Rotating cutting mats are handy, but for the Eads block, I’ll not be using one. Usually if I’m using a rotating mat, I’ll use it on top of this one anyway.

+ My Maine bookmark. A friend gave me this, and I love using it to fold back the paper. Anything else will work…an index card, the pattern itself, etc.

+ Xacto knife. I have many of these and use them to slice up my paper templates. You could use scissors too, but I like the speed and efficiency of an Xacto.

+ Paper scissors. Either these or an Xacto will be needed to slice up your templates.

+ Rotary cutter. Pick your fave. This one by Kai is lightweight and lovely. (Full disclosure, I have many rotary cutters in many sizes. This is my preference for paper piecing.)

+ Clover Roll & Press. I’ve not always been a fan of seam rollers until meeting this one. I love it. It’s lightweight and very effective. It also feels good in my hand.

+ Small scissors. No matter the project, you’ll always need a pair of small scissors for thread clipping and stuff like that. This one lives by my machine.

+ Pins and pincushion. Yep. Standard stuff. (FYI Cute Dumpling Pincushion pattern by Alchemy Tea.)

+ Thread. I use Aurifil 50wt cotton when I’m piecing. As for color, match to your lightest fabric.

+ Ruler. This neon, Omnigrid 4″x14″ ruler is one of my favorites. This particular size is perfect for the Eads project. With any ruler make sure the markings are clear and legible to you. Just to note, add-a-quarter rulers are well liked for paper piecing. Feel free to look into them if you’re interested. They are great, but my personal preference is a regular ruler, as it’s a multi-trick pony.

+ Fabric. You’ll need that! See back of pattern for amounts.

+ Paper templates (not pictured, but needed). There are MANY different papers for paper piecing out there. If you’re up for trying them out to see what works best for you–go for it. My preference is recycled office paper. It’s very available, it’s a little more responsible and I prefer its weight/thickness.

Paper Piecing Supplies . Carolyn Friedlander

Handy enough, this Clover mini iron comes with a mini spray bottle. The sprayer is surprisingly effective! I fill mine up with flatter and keep it nearby.

Carolyn Friedlander Sewing Machine Set Up

To take a closer look at my sewing set-up, I’d like to point out a couple of other things. First, an extension table–no matter the project–will make your (sewing) life much easier. Since my table doesn’t have a cut-out for my machine, the extension table expands the flat area of my sewing surface.

Carolyn Friedlander Sewing Machine Set Up

Let’s take a look at the floor for a sec, and not just because it’s freshly vacuumed, although that is a miracle to be captured! I’ve got 2 waste baskets to the right (both from Ikea). One is for fabric scraps and the other is for paper scraps. Since I do a lot of paper piecing, I like having a separate bin just for paper so that I can recycle it later.

Also of note down here is my new(ish) pedal for operating the thread cutter–hands free! I love my machine, but unlike some other straight stitch machines, the thread cutter function is only operable by the button on the front. After talking to some machine folks, we discovered a 3rd party foot pedal that works with this machine. It couldn’t be easier, you just plug it in (you must have the outlet on your machine–look for a hole with a scissor icon next to it) and start cutting. It’s life changing. I know that sounds dramatic, especially if your machine doesn’t have a thread cutter at all, but it is. One of my most prized functions is the automatic thread cutter, and the ability to operate it hands-free–yes! For information on this pedal, contact the folks at Pink Castle Fabrics. They helped me out, and they can help you out too.

I imagine that someone will ask me about a knee lift, I know that those are handy too, but the screw on mine broke, so until I get my act together and locate a replacement, it’s not part of my routine.

Carolyn Friedlander Sewing Machine Set Up

I’m a pin hoarder and like having different pins for different fabrics, projects, etc. It makes life easier to store different types in different pincushions. The above are from my Crew pattern.

I also love having these nesting boxes (pattern by Aneela Hoey) by my machine. They hold bigger scissors, my seam gauge, washi tape, wonder clips, marking tools, etc. There are so many handy things that you’ll want access to while you are sewing, and these nesting boxes are a pretty and functional way to house them.

Carolyn Friedlander Sewing Machine Set Up

To back up a bit, you’ll also notice a piece of foam core against the wall behind my machine. I have many of these panels floating around, and while originally purchased for something else, now I use them as design walls. This one is freshly blank, because I’m ready to fill it up with some Eads QAL action. Yeah!

Blake knit design wall . Carolyn Friedlander

Just to give you an idea, here’s one from when I was working on blake release projects. I love having multiples, because I am always working on multiple things happening at once–like I’m sure you are too. You can either purchase foam core panels like these, OR a cheaper option would be to hit up your local hardware store and grab some rigid insulation panels. They come in 4’x8′ sheets, and you can easily cut them down with an Xacto and/or cover them in batting.

Let’s talk about project planning.

Eads quilt project planning . Carolyn Friedlander

Here’s the extent of my project planning for the first Eads that I made. After getting the design nailed down, I took colored pencils and markers to a layout and started exploring options. You can see that I didn’t spell everything out, I’d say that these explorations were more about getting a sense of the feel in terms of color and tone. After doing that, I made a block, just to see how that went. It was after this point that I pulled the rest of my fabrics.

Eads quilt fabric . Carolyn Friedlander

And yes, this is actually how I often to work and definitely how I worked things out for this project. While cutting out my strips (as outlined in the instructions), I laid them on the floor. You can start to build relationships between the different colors and prints this way, and it’ll also give you a good and visual sense of how your pickings are shaping up.

Of course, you may have a different way of working, so never feel bad about working in a direction that feels most comfortable to you!

OK, so I’ll stop here for now. But I’ll leave you with some tips:

+ Assess your sewing space. It’s good to be comfortable and have access to the things you need for a project.

+ Use the coloring sheet that is included with the pattern to start mapping out ideas and directions for your project.

+ Have FUN pulling fabrics. Assessing what you like and don’t like as you go helps better shape the project to your tastes and interests.

+ Ready to paper piece? Learn how from one of my videos on Creative Bug.

And one more thing. Let’s do a giveaway! I’ve got 4 fat quarters of my fabrics from a few different collections. Just leave a comment on this post sharing something special/helpful/non-helpful about your sewing space or favorite supply. I know you guys will have some worthwhile tips. I’ll pick a winner randomly on Monday, June 19 10am EST. Giveaway now closed–thanks to everyone for participating!

Carolyn Friedlander Fat Quarters

If you need a copy of the pattern, you can check quilt shops for the paper version or here for a digital version.

Share what’s happening on Instagram using #eadsQAL . I’m eager to see your progress!

Eads quilt along . Carolyn Friedlander

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My favorite t-shirt patterns.

With Blake coming out, I knew I had a good excuse to find the perfect t-shirt pattern. It turns out, there are many.

To be completely honest, I was never much of a t-shirt wearer before I started making my own t-shirts. Looking back, it makes total sense. Store-bought t-shirts just never really fit me right. You’d think there would be more leniency with t-shirts given the fact that the stretch is forgiving, but that’s never been the case for me. There’s something about a t-shirt that makes me want a better balance between fit, fabric and cut–even more so than what I desire from woven tops. I’m not sure why. Having said that, I don’t think that sewing your own t-shirt should be scary. In many ways they’re easier to take in and make adjustments to. Plus, there are TONS of good patterns and resources out there, and this list just touches on some of them. Maybe one or some will work for you?

Here are some of my faves.

My first two faves cover two very important bases–a fitted t-shirt and a roomy t-shirt. They are Rio by Seamwork and the Basic Tee by Seamly.

Seamwork Rio . Carolyn Friedlander

This is a Rio in Robert Kaufman speckle cotton jersey. The only alteration made to this pattern was to straighten the hem, rather than do the high/low thing. I wear this speckle version so often that it was the first thing I sewed up with blake.

Rio Tee . Blake Knit . Carolyn Friedlander

Rio Tee . Blake Knit . Carolyn Friedlander

You can see another version of Rio in the Blake Lookbook on the lovely Vanessa.

Rio Tee in Blake Knit

The Basic Tee by Seamly is another favorite. Whereas the Rio is a more fitted tee, the Basic Tee by Seamly is more relaxed and has a pocket.

Seamly Basic Tee in Speckle Jersey

This version is also in Robert Kaufman’s speckle cotton jersey, and I wear it all the time. It’s kind of become my unofficial airport uniform. You’d think that I’d change it up, but I just love this one so much.

Seamly Basic Tee in Speckle JerseyI haven’t made one of these in blake yet, but it’s on the agenda. I made sure to cut some pieces out when I was prepping for Quilt Market. It will be happening…

Next up, we can talk about Jane by Seamwork. This is a pattern I was eager to try, and I’ll admit, I wasn’t thrilled with the fit right off the bat, but after some modifications to the neckline (I lowered it quite a bit) and length (I shortened it quite a bit), I’m very in love with this shirt. (By the way, I was wearing this guy on day 1 of Quilt Market.)

Seamwork Jane in Blake Knit . Carolyn Friedlander

Seamwork Jane in Blake Knit . Carolyn Friedlander

I think this type of shirt would be perfect for some fun appliqué or other personalization and detailing. Seamwork did a good job of showing some of those possibilities off.

Seamwork Jane in Blake Knit . Carolyn Friedlander

We can’t talk about t-shirts without talking about Grainline’s Linden, which I know, is a sweatshirt…but in the right weight, it is also the perfect t-shirt.

This one (seen in the Blake Lookbook) is View B of the pattern which features short sleeves, shorter bodice length and no sleeve or bodice bindings. It’s really great.

Linden shirt in Blake knit

Linden shirt in Blake knit

A long-sleeved version is pretty great too.

Linden sweatshirt in Blake knit

I love a jersey-weight Linden because it’s perfect for layering. I have several others that I wear often, so it’ll be good to get this one in the rotation.

Linden sweatshirt in Blake knit

Also in the Grainline family is Lark. I don’t have one (yet) in blake, but I’m sure it’ll happen at some point. Lark is fabulous basic t-shirt with tons of handy adaptations available for you with different sleeve lengths, neck lines, cardigan variations, etc.

Oh, and the Hemlock tee by Grainline too! It’s actually a free pattern if you sign up for their newsletter. It’s single-sized–so heads up on that. You’ll maybe need to make some fit adjustments. I made one, but need to take some pics. (In the meantime you can see mine here and here posted by JanieLou.) I LOVE this top and have already been wearing it a lot. As for the fit, I did have to tinker around a bit as the one size that it comes in isn’t my size, but if you have some experience, it’s not too tricky. And knit is forgiving.

Next up is the Wanderlust Tee by Fancy Tiger Crafts. (You can actually watch how to make this on CreativeBug here. Even though I’ve sewn knits many times before, I learned a lot watching this video and others by Fancy Tiger.)

Wanderlust Tee in Blake Knit

This t-shirt is comfy, and I like the style. It features a slightly dropped sleeve (which is a little easier to install if you are fearful of sewing in sleeves) and a curved hem. The version is drafted to be kind of cropped, so I’ve lengthened all versions that I’ve made. This version in blake is maybe the 3rd that I’ve made so far…clearly, I’m a fan of this pattern.

Wanderlust Tee in Blake Knit

What’s nice about any t-shirt is that you can switch up the collar and/or pocket with another fabric for a nice little change of pace. Here’s another Wanderlust Tee doing just that.

Wanderlust Tee in Blake Knit

Wanderlust Tee in Blake Knit

Hopefully this list isn’t too overwhelming for you. I know that there is a lot out there, which is why I thought it would be useful to report in on some of my findings. Plus, the sheer amount represented here is a testament to how speedy knits can be to sew up. With knit stuff, it’s not uncommon for me to cut out and sew up multiples at once.

Do you have any favorite t-shirt patterns? Please feel free to leave a comment and share!

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