I am modern quilter.
I am a Pisces (who doesn’t know how to swim).
I learned how to sew when I was six and took it up ‘seriously’ at twelve.
I passionately believe that beauty is the birthright of every human and that beauty should be all around us.
I have a BS in Mechanical Engineering.
I approach quilt design like an engineer.
I love to swing dance so much that I feel like I’m dancing at the feet of the gods when I dance.
I love Indian food. (Can you say Saag Lamb?)
I can watch Law & Order any day of the week.
I hated the color green until about five years ago; now I its my favorite color.
I find green more and more often in my quilts.
I love Blue Bell Cookies and Cream ice-cream and country music from the 90’s.
I love the mountains.
I learned how to fly before I learned how to drive.
I love to quilt.
I LOVE bias tape. Always have. I know it’s weird but, I do. I love everything about it. I love making it, looking at it, using it.
So, after making yards and yards of bias tape for bindings I thought “what else can I use bias tape for?” Then I thought why can’t I use it to ‘draw’ designs as the main elements of a quilt. When I started to research how Bias Tape Applique is used in quilting I found that traditionally it is used in two main ways. In Celtic Applique it is used for intricate, detailed, precise symmetrical designs. And it is also used for vines and stems in traditional applique. In my mind I thought why can’t we use it to make bold, striking, modern designs.
The very first quilt that I made using this technique was an early version of Convergence, the quilt featured in this blog post. Sometimes I just want to get the idea out of my head and to test an idea so, I just make the quilt to prove my concept. So the first version wasn’t constructed the best. So, when we it came to entering a quilt in the Modern Quilt Guild Exhibit I knew I wanted to remake it. I remade it in the exact fabric. But, it was never photographed properly before it was sent out. It came back from traveling a few weeks ago and I was finally able to get good photos.
The background fabric is Antiquity Old Script in Aqua by Michael Miller. The bias tape applique is Robert Kaufman Kona Coral and Robert Kaufman Aqua.
This is machine sewn bias tape applique. It is top stitched in thread colors that match the bias tape – so coral and aqua. I wanted the binding to be the same size as the bias tape applique so I bound this in my signature chunky 1″ binding.
And a quick detail shot. You can see a bit of the top-stitching here and my favorite part of the quilt – the two aqua stripes!
Text fabric has been all the rage for the last couple years and is now so popular that it is a staple in many of the new fabric lines. Have you ever thought of making your own?
Many of you have seen and used the IKEA Britten Nummer text fabric which is a large scale bold script. I REALLY wanted some last year and it wasn’t available when I wanted it. So, I thought why don’t I make my own text fabric! I thought it would be fun to have my own words in my own handwriting on fabric. And, the more and more I thought about it, I got SO excited about this prospect. The possibilities are almost endless with what you can do with this. I know there are amazing options like Spoonflower that you can use to get your text printed but, that involves a few more steps to get to the end result. I thought, why don’t I just use markers on fabric?
My first quilt from my own text fabric was simple. I sometimes have a tendency to over think things. So, instead of trying to come up with the perfect words I just pulled lines from a favorite book of mine, “Like Water for Chocolate” by Laura Esquivel and made the LWFC Quilt. As soon as I finished it I realized that I might be violating copyright laws especially if I wanted to post pictures of it. It wasn’t my intention and, as an artist I’m usually very sensitive to this. But, I was just so anxious to get the idea out that I got ahead of myself. So, I’ll just show a distance shot of the quilt.
Latifah with FRMQG President of Melissa Richie showing the LWFC text quilt. Photo by Norine A..
I’ll be honest that it’s not a great quilt but, it proved the viability of making my own text fabric by simply writing with markers directly onto the fabric. And, I learned a ton from this experience that has opened up so many possibilities. My second text quilt was my “That Night” Christmas Quilt that I shared with you yesterday. I’ve also played around with how it would look on print fabric as well as shown below.
Markers, Markers, Markers So, you want to make your own text fabric but, are overwhelmed with the marker options? You can use both standard permanent markers as well as fabric markers for this purpose. There are an increasing number of fabric marker options on the market and honestly there are a few that I am dying to have a reason to try. Tee Juice Markers, Marvy Uchida Graffiti Markers, Stained by Sharpie to name a few. In the meantime, I’ll review what I have tried.
Just for you, I tested a bunch of markers to see how well they work and how they hold up in the wash. I wanted the fabric to be able to be washed the same way that I wash quilts. So I washed test runs in a regular washing machine with the sensitive “free and clear” version of a popular detergent and fabric softener. I also dried them in the dryer and the results were great. Notice only minimal fading after both washing and drying.
Before and After Washing and Drying Test Fabric
Marcy Uchida Farbic Brush Marker
I knew that I would want a marker with a bold stroke. Marvy Uchida has a number of fabric markers but, the Brush Marker has a thick bold tip that is brush-like so I thought it would create a nice effect on the fabric. And, it did. I did have to use two markers at a time because the ink seemed to run out as I was writing. So, I would write a while with one and then switch to the other. It wrote easily on the fabric that I chose and was dark and colorfast. It comes in 24 colors. List Price: $3.19 (Note: Marvy Uchida also has a Bold Marker and a standard size Fabric Marker as well.)
Marvy Uchida DecoFabric Markers
If you want to write on dark fabric or want a very saturated effect the DecoFarbic markers also by Marvy Uchida are definitely the way to go. They are 3mm so more of a standard size for a marker. What makes these stand out is these are more like paint markers and they produce brighter, richer and more saturated colors than any of the other markers that I’ve tried. They come in 28 colors including glitter, metallic, opaque, fluorescent, pearl, and glow in the dark! The manufacturer does suggest that you’ll get best results if you heat set this one but, it is fully washable after that. List Price: $3.69 but, you can often find them for around $2.50.
Sharpies Yep, we all have Sharpies. And, many of us use them for quilt labels already so of course they can be used for making text fabric. I had many more Sharpies that I imagined when I gathered them all up. They come in so many sizes and colors and are great. You can’t go wrong with a Sharpie! List Price: Varies according to which one you get but, they range from $1.29 and up.
Daiso Brand Permanent Marker
I wanted to try a generic permanent marker and when I was walking through the Daiso store (This REALLY awesome Japanese chain $1.50 discount store that is starting to pop up around southern Cali) I saw these great big chunky markers and they were only $1.50 ea! Of course I had found my generic permanent markers to try. The package says they are 10mm which is about .4 in or almost a half inch! And, they have a “square” tip which is more rectangular and similar to but not quite a chisel. List Price: $1.50
My Technique Protecting Your Work Surface I use freezer paper for a lot of things so of course it was the first thing I reached for when I wanted to write on fabric. Most markers will soak through the fabric when you are using them and freezer paper is great to put under your fabric to protect your writing surface. The freezer paper for me had a dual purpose though. Placing shiny side down, I drew lines on the freezer paper with a heavy marker so that they could be used as my guide lines when I wrote. I was writing on white fabric so this was perfect. When I’m writing on darker or heavier fabric I use my trusty Hera Markers to ‘draw’ lines. I also used my Hera to “draw” the heart in the Heart Love fabric above.
With my LWFC Quilt I wanted to make a quilt with just one panel of fabric and no seams. Unfortunately, wide width fabric isn’t very available especially in solids. So I settled for white Muslin. You can usually find it up to 120″ in width. It isn’t as heavy or as nice as say a Kona or a Cotton Couture but, it worked. And once it was quilted in and washed up you could hardly tell it was just a Muslin.
Of course, if you don’t want one continuous piece of fabric for a quilt front you could use any cotton fabric. You can use solids or prints. A fun monotone print fabric or a stripe could be great. The possibilities are endless. I would suggest that you not use fabric with texture which would make smooth writing more difficult.
Not much to say here but, have fun and write! Don’t be afraid that your handwriting isn’t pretty or perfect. Personally I think that the more organic and authentic it looks, the better.
What I’ve Learned Having just completed three projects with this, I’m still exploring writing on fabric. I figured I’d pass on a few random things that I’ve learned so far.
Random item #1, if you want to make a whole quilt out of this then it looks a LOT better if you have justified “margins”, versus having big spaces at the end of your sentences like I did on the LWFC quilt. Since this is a lot more difficult to do while handwriting and it doesn’t look great to have hyphens then I made my text spill off the pages when I did this the second time. It creates a much more fluid look. As a matter of fact, I want to take the binding off the LWFC quilt and trim it down. Especially since I no longer like the binding. I guess I have to add it to the ever growing to do list.
Random item #2. When you’re writing on fabric, especially with non-fabric markers try to have fluid movements and not pause at the beginning and end of letters and words. Otherwise you will have concentrated dots of ink where you stop or pause. This is more pronounced with some markers than others.
Random item #3 is just because a fabric company sells a marker doesn’t mean that it’s a fabric marker. I wont say anything more about this aside from the fact that it’s a hard lesson to learn once the quilt is finished and QUILTED. So, I thought I’d pass it on to you. Don’t want any of you to feel as stupid as I did on that one.
There are so many options for what you can do with this. Please share if you do!
As this is a quilting and sewing blog, I try to keep things such as religion out of my blog and I have no intention of getting into my current beliefs here. But, I feel a bit of history is necessary here. I was raised Muslim and incidentally we are right in the middle of my favorite time of the Islamic calendar, Ramadan. It is known as the Muslim holy month of fast but, it is much more than that. A time for self improvement and realignment and if it’s done in earnest can be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life. And in just a few days Muslims around the world will celebrate the close of that month with one of the two major Muslim holidays of the year, Eid ul Fitr. This was our major gift giving/celebration time of the year growing up. It is a wonderful, giving, festive, celebratory time but, it doesn’t traditionally include decorations like Christmas.
As a Muslim I wasn’t raised celebrating Christmas. But, always the creative before all else I always thought it would be fun to be able to decorate for Christmas. I’ve always loved Christmas decorations!
I live with and help take care of my 92 year old grandfather and Christmas is also my guy’s favorite time of the year so of course I seized the opportunity to decorate for Christmas last year! This is not meant to be offensive to anyone as I recognize the religious significance and importance to those that it is meaningful to. But, for me it is not religious. It is a time to celebrate family and love and to share with them something that is significant to them. So, I picked colors that reflected my family. My guy is red-green colorblind so I knew that I had to decorate in more colors than that. And my grandfather is visually impaired so it needed to be bright with a lot of contrast. So, I picked a palette of navy, red, yellow, and green against white. It sounds very primary color-ish but, turned out to be festive and pretty. And my theme was Gumdrops.
So, I made a couple of simple stockings. Blue for my guy. Green for me as it’s my favorite color. And Red for Grandpa.
And, a Gumdrops tree skirt.
And, Gumdrops placemats with jingle bell napkin rings for our adjoining dining room. My grandfather likes a formal table.
I wanted a Christmas quilt so I made my second text quilt. (I’ll post tomorrow about making your own text fabric!) It features “Twas the Night Before Christmas” which is safely in the public domain unlike my first text quilt (more about that tomorrow).Note how the text “spills” off the sides of the quilt. The backing is my favorite ever Lotta Jansdotter print Woven from the Echo line in Navy to coordinate with the blue text on the front.
I’ve always loved snow globes so there was a snow globe. Thanks Target.
And a few ornaments including fabric covered Styrofoam balls, dollar store nutcracker and snowflake ornaments decorating the presents and a fun wreath also from Target.
Merry Christmas in July and an early Eid Mubarak to all my Muslim friends! Maybe next year I’ll post on time. Maybe.
In chatting with my students in preparation for my Glam Clam Quilt class that I’ll teach in a few weeks for the first time at Sew Modern in Los Angeles, I’ve come across a couple things that might be useful to you too. In the free Glam Clam Quilt pattern I don’t give a lot of information on how to layout your templates for cutting nor do I give yardage information. This is because, there are so many layouts for cutting the clamshells depending on the final design of your Glam Clam Quilt.
8″ Glam Clam Quilt Cutting Layout
This pattern is best cut out of yardage because you can stagger the templates to maximize the number of pieces per yard. Also, if you open the fabric to the full width of the fabric it allows for the greatest utilization of the fabric. The following illustration shows a good layout. It allows ten 12″ clams and three of the peripheral templates. If your fabric is a solid or multidirectional you can rotate the templates to fit into the available spaces.
12″ Glam Clam Quilt templates laid out on 1 yard fabric
8″ Glam Clam Quilt Cutting Layout
Here are the 8″ Glam Clam’s also laid out on a 1 yard piece of fabric opened to the full width of the fabric.
8″ Glam Clam Quilt templates laid out on 1 yard fabric
Scrappy Glam Clam Quilt?
Of course, this pattern is great for scraps. You will need at least a 13″ x 13″ square to cut one 12″ clam and a 9″ x 9″ square to cut a 8″ clam. If you have larger scraps, you can also stagger the templates like we did on the full yard cut of fabric.
If you want to purchase small cuts of fabric to make a scrappy Glam Clam quilt, you will need to purchase between 1/3 yd and 1/2 yd for the 12″ (if your quilt shop gives “generous” cuts then 1/3 yd would be sufficient). And a 1/4 yd would be sufficient for the 8″ clams.
Stack ‘Em High
Another question I’ve had is how many can you cut out at a time. If you have sharp scissors, you can cut up to four or five layers at a time. I cut up to eight. If you try this be sure to use a lot of pins and be very careful to make sure your scissors are perpendicular to the fabric so that all layers are cut the same size and shape.
Coming Soon. . .
Also, I’ve figured out how to piece these without pins now. Yes, WITHOUT PINS! The tabs make it possible and it is so much quicker. Hopefully, I’ll get to show you how soon. But, I’ll have to find time to shoot a video to do that. . . If anyone knows the number to the time fairy please let me know!
Finally! It took a little longer than I wanted it to but, I just posted the patterns for the Machine Pieced Clamshell Quilt that many of you have been waiting for. It is called the Glam Clam Quilt and it’s available in both an 8″ or 12″ clamshell version. You can find them both on Craftsy and they are both free!
And, here’s the 12″. Note: the 12″ is available to print out on both letter and legal paper. Letter paper is easier to come by. But, the templates on the legal paper don’t have to be taped together as much.
Traditionally, most clamshell quilts are sewn by hand. I have the highest admiration for those of you who love handwork but, I’m a pedal to the metal machine piecing kinda girl. So, when I wanted to make a clamshell quilt I knew I had to find a way to machine piece it. I’ve made three clamshell quilts so far and have two in the making and I must say, I’m sorta in love. I’ve got a reputation for loving circles and curves and so I guess it makes sense that I love clamshells too. Anyway, I looked and looked for large chunky clamshell templates and instructions on how to piece them by machine and couldn’t find any. So, of course I dove in to make my own. The main template Template D, is in itself is pretty standard. But, the most important templates are Templates A, B, & C. They are the templates that help you to build the top row on which all other rows are built. It makes the process SO much easier! If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll remember Template B as the thong pattern piece.You’ll know what I mean when you see it.
The larger the curve the easier to sew, right? Clamshells are no different. 8″ is small enough to have a variety of fabrics but, stay easy to piece. And the 12″ template just makes a fun bold quilt. So, you’ll have those two to pick from.
A couple tips before you get started:
Be VERY accurate in your cutting. I’m speaking from experience here. I cut out EVERYTHING to make Neon & Neutral and it didn’t fit together! I wanted to cry. OK. I might have. Then, I just took a deep breath and re-cut out everything. So take your time. And, I found that it’s easier to be accurate with scissors.
This is a pattern where 1/4″ seam allowance IS important! Thankfully, you can use your 1/4″ foot to piece this. While I say it’s important, it doesn’t have to be perfect – mine weren’t. Just try to be as close as possible.
Pin, pin, pin. I am a self professed lazy anti-pinner. Don’t tell anyone but, Neon and Neutral was made without pins and Neon and Neutral II was made with pins and I must say II is much more square.I added tabs to the templates to make pinning and piecing easier.
A lot of the steps in the pattern are about keeping the pieces in order and putting them together logically. It makes for a longer pattern but, it makes for a less painful quilt in the process.
Enjoy and please share your clamshell quilts with me!
Because of the pinning and sewing curves, this isn’t the quickest quilt to put together but, it is SO worth it. And, the 12″ goes together quicker and easier than the 8″. It is bold and fun. But, the 8″ is so great and lends to the ability to have a greater variety of fabric and to add more texture and interest in the quilt.