This month we have an extra Monday, so today I want to share some tips on "Made fabric" improv blocks.

...
If you didn't hear about the Starry Bright Sky QAL, please visit the Starry Bright Sky QAL page!
Visit the QAL page to find all information about the quilt layout, all the future blocks and the rules to participate.
I recommend you to subscribe to the QAL announcements via email, so you don't miss out on future posts! You find the subscription form on the same QAL page (at the bottom).
...

In a previous post, last year, I mentioned that since my inspiration for this quilt is Van Gogh's "The Starry Night" painting, I want to be able to translate in my quilt the incredible texture and variation of all the different strokes and colors in the sky of the painting.

To emulate that, I will use my sashing texture blocks, but there is another way to include some "Van Gogh" within a block: IMPROV MADE FABRIC!!

Several of the QAL blocks call for a background piece (or few "big cuts")... so why not creating these pieces by using improv pieced sections, mixing and matching shapes and colors to create a dynamic effect?
Take scraps (or big pieces), join them at unusual angles, slice them, join them, slice, join, etc. :)
Stop when you reached a size that is "good" for now. It can be a complete 12.5''x12.5'' background piece, or it can be a small patch that you will use later as a regular small patch.



The point is: you can start preparing these pieces ahead of time, you don't have to wait until the patterns come out! The advantage is that you will be saving time later, and you will find it easier to create good contrast with the main "star" pieces if your "crazy background" is already assembled!
...

Few more tips that helped me be extra productive and make ahead many squares like the ones showed below that are ready for all my future textured four patches!!


  • Have a specific size goal
    I initially thought that just assembling what I have without a specific plan would be easier, but for me it is not!! Having a specific size goal helps creating some structure in the improv approach that otherwise is too free and overwhelming for me! So I picked a size and always make pieces to that size
  • Pick a size that makes sense: it should be big enough to be useful to you, but small enough to allow you to use tiny scraps you may have without having to add a million seams!
    I picked 6.5'' x 6.5'' because I have a small rotating cutting mat that is 7'' and a ruler that is 6.5'' x 6.5''. These two tools make it super easy to see how far I am to reach that final goal, and it's easy to use small scraps (stitch, press, chop, repeat). 6.5'' squares are also the exact size I need for my four patches, so no extra assembly needed there. However if I need a background that is 12.5'' I can stitch 4 squares and get to that size.
  • Sort your scraps by color, not size
    If you want to create single blocks that "read" one color (mine are dark blue), storing your scraps by color will make it super fast to just grab something from the pile and stitch them together. I store them in plastic food bags, and fabric scraps are just thrown randomly in there! Note: the picture below shows my bag after I created about 10 blocks already! The bag was overflowing, now it is just packed, but the scraps are going down!!!
  • Have a specific goal of blocks to make a week
    This is because I am a planner :) but in the past I had this idea of sewing my scraps until I run out of one color. Well... after 10 minutes I got bored and abandoned this idea. Now that I set myself a goal of making just 4 improv squares a week, I completed a ton of them! I can easily push and motivate myself, because 4 is a small enough number to reach. But actually for my monthly blocks I only need 2 each month, so if I make 4 each week I will still be way ahead of my needs. Plus if I reach my goal of 4, I feel super accomplished and happy, so setting myself a goal is a very important component of my success this time around!
  • Have rules on what fabric to use
    Improv "just sew together whatever you have" is just not my style... I like rules and structure. So I added structure but keeping it improv. My rules are simple: grab two random pieces from the bag and sew them together. Chop any excess but do not put the cut extra scrap back in the bag: I have to leave it out and I cannot use that fabric again in the block. I need to get a new piece from the bag. This will organically make sure that in a new block I will use that scrap that was cut in the previous block, creating a coherent look between the blocks because they have pieces of the same fabric! Plus it will guarantee a great variety in each block, so the superscrappyness will be maintained!
  • Use tiny stitch length and press seams open
    There is no risk of making a mistake and having to unpick a seam, because everything is improv, so using a small stitch length (1.4 or 1.2) shouldn't be a problem. This however would allow you to press each seam open, as you stitch them. I highly highly highly highly recommend to do this, because these blocks have sooooo many seams, and if you press them to one side, they will create layers that you will not enjoy quilting over!! If you press each seam open as you stitch them the finished square will be as flat as a single piece of fabric so it shouldn't give you much headaches later. If you are concerned about the "seam open" debate, just listed to the podcast "Pressing Seams Open Debate with Leah Day' :)
    I highly recommend the Clover Finger Presser for this, but just your finger could work too!
  • Take your time and enjoy the process
    If you have tons of tiny pieces like me, each block will take some time to assemble. But the fun part is that you should stop and look at each scrap you are using... they are there in the pile for one of two reasons:
    1) you used that fabric in a previous project... so you could think about the person that you gifted that project to, or the time in your life when you stitched that other project. It could be an emotional and special moment that you can really cherish!
    2) you got that scrap from someone else, so you can think about them, where they may have used that fabric, if they are a friend you can think about your relationship with them, etc.
    Take some time to really appreciate all the history that is behind every little bit of fabric!! 

So what do you think about "Made Fabric" improv blocks? Did you try them before? Do you have any other tip that you want to share? Please leave them in the comments below!!


Until next time,
Happy Stitching!!

Remember: all the details about the series are collected in the QAL web page.



If you didn't hear about the QAL before, please visit the Starry Bright Sky QAL page!
Visit the QAL page to find all information about the quilt layout, all the future blocks and the rules to participate.
I recommend you to subscribe to the QAL announcements via email, so you don't miss out on future posts! You find the subscription form on the same QAL page (at the bottom).


So the side event will be a collection of TEXTURED blocks!
I will personally use these four-patch textured blocks as "sashing" for my main QAL blocks.
I will make a big 72'' x 84'' quilt, with 21 blocks for the QAL and many textured blocks.
You can see the layout I plan to use in this previous post.

If you don't want to make so many textured blocks, I would still encourage to try few of them!
You can use them as label, or to make matching pillows or table runners... the options are endless!!


***
So for today's post...
Let's start with a story!!

I mentioned before, that I NEVER tried any fabric manipulation before now! I am a total beginner, so I hope that any of you that feels intimidated by these fun blocks, will feel confident that if I was able to complete it, you can too!!

And it is also imporant to remember, that these are supposed to be outside your comfort zone (if you have never done any 3D sewing like me) and they may look weird and imperfect.
Like anything crafty that we do, these techniques require practise, so expecting it to be smooth and easy and perfect the first time around is unrealistic.
I am not saying it will be always challenging or imperfect... maybe you have never tried it before and you are super gifted and everything turns out amazing... but maybe not, and you have to accept the good and the bad, and you shouldn't compare yourself to others and tell yourself that you are not good or talented enough.

For example...

I was planning to make the "Twisted Pleats" as the first block for this side event.
Checking Teresa's picture this block looked fun, interesting but easy enough.
I followed the instructions (or so I thought) and the first time it didn't work, it didn't look right...
... ok, I used basting stitches, so I unpicked everything and started again...
... again there was something wrong, I unpicked again...
... and again...
... and again...
... and again...
... and then I wrote to Teresa for help... she tried to explain me what to do... I tried to follow what she was saying, and the block didn't look right...
... I wrote her again, she tried to explain it to me in a different way... I tried again, and you may guess: again it didn't work!!
I spent an entire evening folding, sewing, unpicking... then I started criticizing myself, telling myself that I was a failure, since I couldn't make the FIRST block I picked, am I so incompetent?

Then I stopped... and took a step back...

First of all, this is a new approach and every person understands things in a different way. Maybe the pictures are clear for some people, but they didn't work for me. There is nothing wrong with the pictures or with Teresa's words... but there is nothing wrong in me either :) we just process things in different ways... so NO, I am not a failure, I just failed at this specific block at this specific time.

Second, it's true that this was the first block I picked, but I chose them randomly, so maybe the others I picked would be more doable for me... so instead of giving up, I tried others, and I had no problems with several other blocks!! so NO, I am no incompetent, I just couldn't figure out that specific block.

Third, this is a journey and these are experiments... maybe once I make more blocks, I will come back to this first block and "things will click in my brain". It is hard sometimes to understand something until suddently you just understand it! It's like those optical illusions that you cannot see, you cannot see, you cannot see and then all of a sudden you see them and now you cannot unsee them!


So today I present you the first block of the textured four-patches, which is 
Faux Cathedral Window Variation

IMPORTANT: In the PDF pattern I do not explain the steps to make the block.
I provide the measurements of our specific finished block size, with some tips on color selection and assembly guidelines from a complete beginner's point of view!
The step-by-step instructions can be found on Teresa's blog. 
For today's block you find the step-by-step instructions at this link Faux cathedral window variation


***
Share the picture of the finished textured blocks in our FB group (https://www.facebook.com/groups/alidatweloqdesigns/)!
We would all love to see what we create, and it's fun to encourage and inspire each other!!
***

Until next week,
Happy Stitching!!


Remember: all the details about the series are collected in the QAL web page.

It's time to share our blocks, and inspire each other in this fantastic quilting community!

If you didn't hear about the QAL before, please visit the Starry Bright Sky QAL page
Visit the QAL page to find all information about the quilt layout, all the future blocks and the rules to participate.
I recommend you to subscribe to the QAL announcements via email, so you don't miss out on future posts! You find the subscription form on the same QAL page (at the bottom).

This month technique is Applique Silhouette,
and we have two fun blocks to create!

Remember that the pattern for the blocks is shared for free via email.
For the full list of rules and explanation on how/where to share your projects, please refer to the post listing all the QAL rules and to the post with my self-interview.

And if you need an extra incentive, we are going to have FOUR winners for this month. 
So this what you are playing for:

Winner 1
Mad About Patchwork: $50 gift certificate!!

Winner 2
Fat Quarter Shop: $25 gift certificate!!


Winner 3
Two digital patterns by Teresa (mypatchwork.wordpress.com

Winner 4
Two colorful spools of Connecting Threads thread, sent by me, anywhere in the world!




I will draw the random winners between all the people entering a picture of one blocks from this month. Multiple blocks will give you multiple entries, as long as they are in separate picture in a separate link in the linky :).

I will announce the winners after I share the next month pattern.

So, let's link up our fun block, friends!



Next week we will work on our textured four-patch blocks!!

So are you excited about this QAL?
I surely am!! Grab my button and share the love (button on the side bar)!
The more people join in, the more fun it will be!!

Until next week,
Happy Stitching!!


Remember: all the details about the series are collected in the QAL web page.

Finally, after several months of preparation and preview, our 2018 QAL starts today!!

It's time now to get to this month block of the Starry Bright Sky QAL!

If you didn't hear about the QAL before, please visit the Starry Bright Sky QAL page
This is a wonderful Skill Builder, because every month I will be featuring a different technique and we will have step by step instructions to walk you through the entire process, from cut to finishing.

Visit the QAL page to find all the information about the event rules, the quilt layout, all the future techniques and more.
I recommend you to subscribe to the QAL announcements via email, so you don't miss out on future posts! You find the subscription form on the same QAL page.

Now let's get down to some details.

This month technique is Applique Silhouette
(simple Raw Edge applique),
and we have two fun blocks to create!

Remember that the pattern for the blocks is shared for free via email.
If you left your email address in the Google Form in the QAL page, you will get this month pattern by the end of today (or maybe you already got it)!
For the full list of rules and explanation on how/where to share your projects, please refer to the post listing all the QAL rules and to the post with my self-interview.

Next week I will feature the link party where you can link up your blocks.

So are you excited about this QAL?
I surely am!! Grab my button and share the love (button on the side bar)!
The more people join in, the more fun it will be!!

Until next week,
Happy Stitching!!


Remember: all the details about the series are collected in the QAL web page.

In early August, I announced the Starry Bright Sky QAL and many people subscribed to the mailing list and they seem to be excited about this event!!

Even if the QAL will start in 2018, I decided to start a series of posts (one every 2 weeks, on Sunday) to reveal bits and pieces of the events, so that I can get your feedback and we can get more excited about it!!

I will announce sponsors, featured techniques, color scheme options, layouts, and much much more! There are several special things that I've never seen in other QALs before so I hope you will find them intriguing, inspiring and a learning experience!!

I am working on different layouts, different colorways, sponsors and giveaways, etc. It is going to be extra fun!

If you are interested in learning more about this QAL and join the fun, leave your email address in the Google Form in the QAL page at this link.

In previous weeks I shared:
  1. the inspiration
  2. the sewing techniques that will be used
  3. the reveal of the 11 blocks layout
  4. the fun FREE side event
  5. ideas for color combinations
  6. let's talk fabric...
  7. prep and think!
  8. preview the blocks in fabric
  9. our sponsors

And now, for today's post...

Let me share the rules and a personal interview!

I already shared this information last year for my 2017 QAL, so if you participated, the rules are the same :)

If you are new here, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE READ the entire post...
My QALs do not follow the usual practice of other people's free events... 
The rules are simple, but please read them! :)


RULES: yes, I know, these are the least fun part of the QAL, but we need rules, so please read them carefully! If you have questions you can always comment on a post and if you leave your contact I will get back to you with an answer!! :)

  1. I will share one pattern a month for 11 months, each pattern will contain multiple blocks with the same sewing technique;
  2. Each pattern will be shared for free to people that follow along: this means that if you don't make ONE block from the pattern of the current month, you won't receive the next month pattern for free.
  3. All patterns will be available for sale in my shop for a small fee (less than a Tall Chestnut Praline Latte :) ).
  4. Late comers are welcome, but they will have to purchase any patterns they have missed. Late comers will have to email me to get their first pattern (the current month one) for free. 
  5. Please do not distribute my patterns without written consent.
  6. Each block/pattern will feature a different technique (foundation paper piecing, english paper piecing, applique, ...) and the patterns come with step by step tutorials on how to make the each block.

Each week I will share tips and ideas on how to sash the entire quilt, links and inspirations on other people that use the technique to make beautiful quilts, and much more. These posts will be shared here on this blog and will remain free forever.

So, the main rule for the QAL is that you need to share a picture of one of the blocks before the next month pattern is released. The picture should be shared by 11:59 pm EST the day before the next month patterns goes live (for the specific dates, please refer to the QAL schedule shared in previous posts).
Note that you won't have to complete any sashing or anything else except one version of one of the blocks: the blocks are fairly easy so it's not that hard to follow along, I promise!

But where can you share your wonderful and inspiring blocks?

A picture of the completed block can be shared in any of the following places:
  • (preferred) I host a link party here! I have a blog post dedicated to the link party with instructions on how link either blog posts, FB pictures or Instagram pictures!
  • send me a picture directly via email (my email is in all my patterns)
  • post a picture in the AlidaTweloqDesigns FB group
  • post a picture in the FlickR group

** VERY IMPORTANT **
If you only post your block on our FB group or on Flickr, you NEED to send me an email notification about the submission, because I need your email address to send you the next month pattern. While I can get that information automatically from the link party, I cannot have that from FB or Flickr. It is YOUR responsibility to reach out to me, as I cannot hunt down your email address.

** EXTREMELY IMPORTANT **
I am only human! :)
At any point during the QAL, if you feel that you should have got the pattern but I didn't send it to you, just send me an email and remind me where you shared your block. I will do my best to keep track of who is sharing what, but I am only human, so please be patient!

** EXTREMELY SUPER IMPORTANT **
At this link you can find a self-interview post where I explain why I set up these rules the way I set them up. Before complaining about the way the QAL is hosted, please read the interview, so you can understand my motivations!


Remember to join the mailing list in the Google Form if you don't want to miss out on future posts!

Until next time,
Happy Stitching!!


Remember: all the details about the series are collected in the QAL web page.


And we have FIVE winners for the final giveaway!
I already contacted all the winners, and some already received their prize.
If you didn't win, please keep participating, I have many more prizes for 2018 QAL!!

The Random drawing picked...

Winner 1: Lori (#192)
BIG spools from Aurifil, sent by Aurifil, anywhere in the world! 

Winner 2: Nancy (#413)
Mad About Patchwork: $40 gift certificate!!


Winner 3 and 4: Patty (#266) and Irene (#14)

One bundle of one yard of grey fabric (Northcott or Island Batik) plus 3 FQ of Northcott fabric, sent by me, anywhere in the world!




Winner 5: Nicole (#38)
A bundle of useful things for your sewing activities, sent by me, anywhere in the world!
Various patterns

Until next time,
Happy Stitching!!


Remember: all the details about the series are collected in the QAL web page.

In early August, I announced the Starry Bright Sky QAL and many people subscribed to the mailing list and they seem to be excited about this event!!

Even if the QAL will start in 2018, I decided to start a series of posts (one every 2 weeks, on Sunday) to reveal bits and pieces of the events, so that I can get your feedback and we can get more excited about it!!

I will announce sponsors, featured techniques, color scheme options, layouts, and much much more! There are several special things that I've never seen in other QALs before so I hope you will find them intriguing, inspiring and a learning experience!!

I am working on different layouts, different colorways, sponsors and giveaways, etc. It is going to be extra fun!

If you are interested in learning more about this QAL and join the fun, leave your email address in the Google Form in the QAL page at this link.

In previous weeks I shared:
  1. the inspiration
  2. the sewing techniques that will be used
  3. the reveal of the 11 blocks layout
  4. the fun FREE side event
  5. ideas for color combinations
  6. let's talk fabric...
  7. prep and think!
  8. preview the blocks in fabric

And now, for today's post...

Let's share some love with our amazing sponsors!

These are the amazing companies and people that will be providing you HUNDREDS of dollars in prizes during the monthly giveaways that will accompany the QAL!

Show them some love!























Remember to join the mailing list in the Google Form if you don't want to miss out on future posts!

Until next time,
Happy Stitching!!


Remember: all the details about the series are collected in the QAL web page.


In early August, I announced the Starry Bright Sky QAL and many people subscribed to the mailing list and they seem to be excited about this event!!

Even if the QAL will start in 2018, I decided to start a series of posts (one every 2 weeks, on Sunday) to reveal bits and pieces of the events, so that I can get your feedback and we can get more excited about it!!

I will announce sponsors, featured techniques, color scheme options, layouts, and much much more! There are several special things that I've never seen in other QALs before so I hope you will find them intriguing, inspiring and a learning experience!!

I am working on different layouts, different colorways, sponsors and giveaways, etc. It is going to be extra fun!

If you are interested in learning more about this QAL and join the fun, leave your email address in the Google Form in the QAL page at this link.

In previous weeks I shared:
  1. the inspiration
  2. the sewing techniques that will be used
  3. the reveal of the 11 blocks layout
  4. the fun FREE side event
  5. ideas for color combinations
  6. let's talk fabric...
  7. prep and think!

And now, for today's post...

Let's preview the blocks I made with fabric from our sponsors!

In this post, we can see some examples on how I used fabric from 



You can order Cherrywood Fabrics directly from their website.

And did you know that Northcott  has a "Product finder" option in the right bar of their website, so that you can see which local Quilt shop in your area has the product that you fall in love with? And if none of them has the fabric you are looking for, the "Online retailer" option links to shop that you can use to order the fabric and get it on your door step!

If you are curious to know exactly which colors and lines I used in each of my block, download this little coloring/fabric guide. You can use it also to keep track of the fabric YOU choose for your own quilt!!



So do you plan to make your quilt all with one line or brand of fabric? Or do you plan to mix and match? Are you going to use up your stash or buy something new? 
Share it in the comments below so that we can all inspire each other!!


Remember to join the mailing list in the Google Form if you don't want to miss out on future posts!

Until next time,
Happy Stitching!!


Remember: all the details about the series are collected in the QAL web page.


Just a few reminders today!! We have been seeing so many beautiful blocks!! I am very happy to see that you are all enjoying this event!!

If you didn't hear about the QAL before, please visit the Growing up QAL page
Visit the QAL page to find all information about the quilt layout, all the future blocks and the rules to participate.
I recommend you to subscribe to the QAL announcements via email, so you don't miss out on future posts! You find the subscription Google form on the same QAL page (at the end of the page).

Now let's get down to some details.

This month technique is New York Style piecing
(Foundation Paper Piecing+Curved Piecing)

Remember that the pattern for the block is shared for free via email to the people that shared a picture of last month finished block in the linky party.
If you did that, you should already have the pattern!

If you didn't (and you think you should have) just send me an email at tweloq(at)gmail(dot)com and I will get the pattern out to you.

For the full list of rules and explanation on how/where to share your projects, please refer to the post listing all the QAL rules!

And if you need an extra incentive, we are going to have 
FIVE WINNERS FOR THE FINAL GIVEAWAY FOR THE ENTIRE QAL EVENT
The prizes for this month are listed in a previous post! 
I will draw the random winners ON DECEMBER 11th, 7 am EST. 
ALL the entries since the beginning of the QAL will count in this drawing, not just the ones in the last month!! You have several ways to get extra entries for this final month: 
  • AS USUAL... each picture/entry depicting the completed block(s) for this month will count as an entry 
  • ONE PICTURE, showing ALL the blocks you created this year will count as an extra entry. They don't need to be stitched together or have sashing... just be in the same picture will count! Note: if you have troubles uploading that entry in the linky, just email me the picture at tweloq(at)gmail(dot)com and I will link it for you 
  • Any block of the QAL that you didn't share before will count as an extra entry. So if you were late completing the second block of a past month, just upload it now
****
FOR THIS WEEK INSPIRATION...
There are so many artists that use this month technique to make amazing masterpieces! 
Here I feature just few to give you some different ideas on things you can do with this month skill.
****

So, let's link up our fun block, friends!
(I am including the linky in every post so it's easy for everyone to find!)



Thank you all for joining the 2017 QAL! 
I hope you enjoyed it and you will join 2018 QAL!
Until next week,
Happy Stitching!!


Remember: all the details about the series are collected in the QAL web page.