Friday, December 2, 2016

Understanding Value in Quilt Design - A Craft University class review

I was so excited to be asked to take and review a Craft University class. My choice. Any class. Um, is it my birthday?  It was difficult to choose just one, and I will definitely have to find time to take another one...or two... or three...

So which one, which one. 

I chose to take the Understanding Value in Quilt Design from Grace Errea of Amazing Quilts by Grace. I've always wanted to learn more about color/hue/value/contrast and everything else that has to do with making a good quilt, great. I don't know about you, but I've had a quilt or two that I was so excited about, only to have it be ho hum, or dare I say, even ugly. How disappointing is that?! All of that hard work and it's just not the stunning masterpiece you thought it would be. Sometimes, you can't even explain why. I think that's where this class will be helpful.

Getting close ups of those gorgeous quilts is a huge added bonus.

There are a couple of useful tools for you to choose from. You can either buy Grace's Value Matching Tool, or you can download her Periodic Table of Value in Color. While I didn't buy the Value Matching tool (I wanted to get going on this class), I did write it down on my Christmas wish list. Let's hope hubby reads it, because after taking the class I realize I need all the help I can get! I did download and print the Periodic Table of Value in Color and I found it extremely helpful. 

Lesson 1 goes into what Value is and how to organize your tone on tone fabrics. (Which, by the way, I don't have a lot of. Apparently I like prints. Who knew!) Each color, or hue, has a value. Grace introduces you to the difference, shows off some amazing quilts and goes into detail about value.  Then she does a crazy thing. She assigns homework. *GULP* Organizing. Your. Stash.  It's a blessing and a curse to know what is in your stash. I thought I was really good about getting rid of scraps. Turns out, I was wrong.

Actually, this was one of my favorite things to do in the class. I think I need to go though and touch and organize my fabrics more often. I have some really pretty pieces that I forgot I had. I tend to buy only what I need for a project, so those extras that I find and purchase get left in the bottom of the bucket. Awww, poor fabrics. 

Though I found I had a ginormous (for me) pile of greens, I stuck with her suggestion to value-ize my reds. It's not as easy as it sounds, for me anyway, but it is worth it!

I think I did pretty well.

In Session 2, Working With Value to Create a Focal Point, we got an assignment with a little added bonus. Did you know you can make your drawings into posters...for free!!!  I tried out the website Grace shares, and it is as easy as she says. I didn't use this size for my project, just printed it out as a test. Yay for poster sized goodness!

So big, I had to stand on a chair, see!

When you are looking at quilts, your eye is drawn to certain areas. Have you ever wondered why? I bet you have discussed it with your quilting buddies at shows or in the shops. How do you make your quilt come to life? How do you give it movement? It all has to do with value choices. 

 Here is my version of our homework assignment from Session 2. 

It's ok, but I could use some work in the value department. As I look at this picture I realize I forgot the little piece of highlight to really make it 3D. Whoops! C+ for effort?

When we get to my Periodic Table of Value in Color you will see how I am missing some values. In the case of the apple, I improvised by "skillfully" placing a piece between the white. That darker part on the apple, that's the backside of a fabric. Improvisation, baby. 

Session 3, Create a High Value Block and a Low Value Block, is harder then it seems. At least it was for me. If I learned anything from this class, I am not good with value. Ha! I think part of my issue was lighting. In MN it really is dark at 5 pm, which makes a difference in what you see. At least it did for me. The other issue is, it's a new skill for me.  One I definitely have not worked on before, but this class was a great starting point.

Here are my versions of our homework assignment. As you can see, I need a little work. :)

High Value

Low Value

The last session, Portable Periodic Table of Value in Color, was a wee bit eye opening. As in, I apparently don't like the lighter anything. I have to say, it's a surprise! I thought I drifted towards lighter things, but apparently I have a dark side. Who knew. Well, probably my hubby, which means it's pretty much guaranteed that I will be getting the Value Matching Tool for Christmas. Bwaahaahaahaa!

A stop at the LQS, Fabrics Plus, was needed to fill in those empties, especially those greens. Remember, I said I had a ginormous pile? I guess I don't like green greens, though, because it was mostly yellowy greens. 

I think this will be a good tool for me. There are still some spaces to fill, but I didn't want to force anything. Besides, this way, I'll have to go back to the quilt shop and play with more fabric. Bummer!

Who knew orange would be so hard?!

While it was a little different, and felt a little slow, I enjoyed the class. This is quite possibly because it is the first online quilting class I have taken. You see, I have always liked to talk in class, much to the dismay of my teachers. I was lonely. Plus my instructor Grace didn't laugh at my jokes.   I learned something (that is so important) about value and hue, and the lack of it in my stash, and I get to continue practicing what I learned (even more important). If you are hoping to have a good understanding of how value works in your quilting, I recommend this class. I am looking forward to going through it again, because it will definitely be worth the time to have Grace teach me again. Even if she doesn't laugh at me jokes.

Happy Stitching!

**No affiliation to any of the links shared. The opinions, and jokes, are all mine.**

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

SWAT pillow

Friday we had our first snow in SW Minnesota, which was also the first blizzard of the winter. So what better way to usher in winter then with a pillow featuring a..... mosquito?

You have to admit he's kinda cute, for a mosquito. 

This pillow, SWAT!, was a kit from Fabrics Plus, and it features the Quilt Minnesota 2016 fabrics. Yes, I've had this kit since Aug. Yes, I waited until the first blizzard to make it. Yes, it makes total sense in my head. 

There was some extremely cute mosquito fabric, which sold out quickly in the LQS, I believe. I find that funny, since we spend months "swatting" the suckers. On the other hand I used cute and mosquito in the same sentence, twice, so....

I did a quick in the ditch quilting job around the pieced border and an echo around the mosquito, and left the rest. I stitched down the applique, but only because I have a dog, a couple of cats, a few kids and a husband. The chances of this not needing to be washed are pretty slim. 

I had this fun idea to photograph this pillow out in the snow. 

Hahaha, yeah, that didn't work. My 17 year old said driving after a blizzard feels like learning to drive all over again. Apparently, photographing after a blizzard, is the same. These are the two best shots, the others are even more laughable.

Happy Stitching!

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Linked - bigger and better

I have updated "Linked," the third pattern in the PBJ family and added 3 more sizes to the pattern. So it is indeed, bigger and better. 

The quilt on the back.

With introducing a change, I thought I would play with some color options. A beautiful fall day had me going with autumnal colors to start.

You can also choose to do just two colors.

Changing the background color can really change the look as well.

If you have purchased a "Linked" pattern before the size additions, you can go to the Pattern Add Ons page and download the information for fabric requirements and cutting needs to make a larger quilt.

Haven't had the chance to purchase "Linked"? You can go to my Etsy shop, or check out the Shops/Distributors page.

One more, because I always have to have an option in purple.

Happy Stitching!

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Winter Cheer

I'm excited to introduce "Winter Cheer," the eighth pattern in the Patterns By Jen family.

There are two options, Holly and Snowflake, with two sizes for each.

Four large blocks make up the center of the quilt with a bit of applique. Surround it with a quick piano key type border, and a last border with a bit more applique and you have a fabulous quilt to snuggle under during these cold winter months. 

The testers made some great test quilts as well.

Sherra made the classic red and green. Up on the wall or backed with a soft minky for a little one to snuggle under. This makes me think Christmas-y thoughts.

Joanne made the wallhanging sized Snowflake version. Her plan is to have her grandchildren make snowflakes, which she will then transfer to the quilt. Everybody say, "Awwwwww!!!"

Sharon made this awesome red version of the Snowflake. I can see myself snuggling under this one with a hot cup of cocoa. Think she will send it to me? ;)

This quilt is perfect for a fun binding. I used this pretty stripe on my snowflake quilt. Just a fun little touch to finish off a fun quilt. 

Let me introduce you to the newest store to carry PBJ patterns: My Timeless Day  I am excited to share my patterns with her, and a little birdy told me she likes to kit patterns.  Are you as excited as I am to see what she comes up with?

Winter Cheer to all.

Happy Stitching!


Sunday, November 6, 2016

Meet the testers

Don't look now, but it's a new blog post! It is hard to find things to write about when you are testing new patterns and can't really share anything.

Pinwheel Pizzazz

It is the month of November, which means a month of Thanksgiving for me. So lets talk about something I am forever grateful for. The testers of PBJ!

These ladies do a great job of double checking the instructions, math, illustrations, everything, in the hopes that we don't have any issues. Lets meet them.

Kelly - She has tested Spinning Bow Ties, Frayed Edges and Squared Off (coming soon). She is also the major talent behind the great cover photos of PBJ patterns. 
You can find her blog at Handmade Boy, on Facebook at Handmade Boy and on Instagram at handmade_boy.

Sandy - She has tested Spinning Bow Ties, Linked, Cartwheels on the Prairie, Star Light, Star Bright Sampler, Criss Crossing, Frayed Edges, Squared Off (coming soon), Quilt Crush (coming soon).

Spinning Bow Ties

Joanne - She has tested Cartwheels on the Prairie, Star Light, Star Bright Sampler, Winter Cheer (coming soon), Squared Off (coming soon), Quilt Crush (coming soon). 
You can find her blog at Quilts By Joanne and on Instagram at turtlequilterjo.

Kathy - She has tested Frayed Edges, Winter Cheer (coming soon) and Squared Off (coming soon).
You can find her blog at Kathy's Kwilts and More and on Instagram at kathyskwiltsandmore.

Sherra - She has tested Winter Cheer (coming soon), Squared Off (coming soon), Quilt Crush (coming soon).
You can find her on Facebook at Munchkin Quilting and Baby Supplies and on Instagram at munchkinquilting.

Dedee - She has tested Frayed Edges and Squared Off (coming soon)

Hyde - She has tested Star Light, Star Bright Sampler and Frayed Edges

Sharon - Winter Cheer (coming soon)

Melissa - Squared Off (coming soon)

Kari - Criss Crossing (a McCall's Quick Quilts publication)

Kristi - Cartwheels on the Prairie 


I never think I am perfect, but when you make a pattern multiple times, you feel as if you have it all under control. However, I always miss something, or someone reads the instructions differently, and these ladies catch almost everything. They are amazing. Thank you so much ladies!!

Periodically I put out a tester call here on the blog, my facebook page Patterns By Jen and Instagram at patternsbyjen. If you are intrested keep an eye out for those calls.  The next tester call will probably  go out after Christmas, with patterns going out January 1st, 2017! 

Happy Stitching!

Winter Cheer

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Introducing A Dream and Stitch's first pattern: "Knots" of Color

I am excited to introduce Jen's new, and first, pattern "Knots" of Color. Find her pattern here at her blog, A Dream and a Stitch.

I was able to test the lap sized version. It was an easy pattern to follow and went together very quickly. Unfortunately, my version doesn't show the pattern too well, so make sure you head over to her blog. Note to self: choose fabrics that aren't so busy for the background.

I love when I get the points to stay pointy, even with the binding. It doesn't happen very often. So I enjoy it as long as possible. 

I quilted only in the blue to try and help the pattern pop a little bit more. 

A pretty little quilt finished just in time to snuggle under as the cold air moves in.

Happy Stitching!


Thursday, September 22, 2016

Lake Oahe Walleye - A Blogger's Quilt Festival Home Machine Quilting Entry

Amy at Amy's Creative Side is hosting the Blogger's Quilt Festival 2016. She allows up to two entries, and I am sharing my second entry with you today. There are eleven categories, so go check out all of the amazing and inspiring entries, and find out how to win prizes. (Don't forget to vote!)

My entry for the Home Machine Quilting category is my Lake Oahe Walleye. Designed and made for my father-in-law,

I laughed, cried and swore over this thing. It was one of those quilts you felt you should bring to church and have them pray over after you had finished, or at least burn some incense. You know, just in case.

It kept me hopping all the way to the end, even to attaching the binding. I cut off a corner and had to rip the binding out, cut off the piece that now had a hole in it, sew in a new piece and *then* finish attaching the binding. 

You can kind of see the ripples around the legs of the bridge.

The bridge is my artistic interpretation of the bridge in Mobridge, South Dakota that crosses the Missouri river. I decided it would be easier to stitch most of the bridge and only used fabric in the larger areas. 

I used my walking for most of the bridge. 

Plus, lots of zig zags.

The sky is just one piece of fabric and I searched for a long time for quilting designs that would make you think of wind and sky and clouds. 

I used a couple fabrics for the water, and wanted to make sure that I was quilting water, not waves, but the movement of water. I think the movement shows up a little better from afar. 

I also put in some weeds at the bottom, a couple little minnows that didn't come out particularly well, and knots in the wood. 

I used some landscaping fabric that had bricks, but I also chose to quilt in some pebbles along the bottom. 

The walleye was composed of a few different fabrics, some of them I used the wrong side of the fabric, and then quilted to help make him look fishy. 

I've been told you can tell it's a walleye because of it's eye. I'm not sure if it's true, but I'll take it. 

The borders were a challenge, simply because I don't do a lot of quilting, and I felt that the borders should each be done differently. 

Border 1 and 5 ended up being quilted with the same pattern, though. They are a small 1" border, and I didn't have a lot of ideas for it. 

Border 2.

Border 4. I did more marking on this quilt then I had or have ever done. In fact, I never mark quilts, but this one was important. :)

It turned out better then I could imagine, which doesn't usually happen, things are always better in my head, and should probably stay there. Lake Oahe Walleye, though, was totally worth the tears, blood, sweat, goosebumps and joy. :)

Colors are more true in this picture, you just can't see the quilting as well.

Thank you for stopping by! Don't forget to visit the other entries and spread the love. 

New to PBJ? You may like to check out my Picked By Jen section and/or find out a little bit more about me here and here. I have a couple of free patterns, here, one that would be a quick sew if you need something for fall. My first entry is here. Thank you so much for stopping by!

Happy Stitching!