Archives for February 2013

Inspiration from QuiltCon: Part 1

Hello, hello!  I’m back from a wonderful weekend at QuiltCon. I saw a ton of amazing quilts, listened to talks (some of which are now posted for free on Craftsy), learned how to block print on fabric, ate yummy barbecue, listened to live music, and got to catch up with one of my oldest and dearest friends, who drove down to Austin from Dallas for the weekend. In other words, my soul was fed.

I drew so much inspiration from the quilts in the show that I’m going to split my comments up into two posts to avoid photo overload.

The winner of “Best in Show” was this quilt by Victoria Findlay Wolfe, called “Double Edged LOVE.” I love the color combinations and the sense of a traditional quilt motif that has been fractured, giving a glimpse into something urban and a little wild.

Double Edged LOVE - Victoria Findlay Wolfe

This quilt by Mary Marcotte, called “Reflections in Gray,” used a similar idea. It had an amazing visual impact from a distance.

Reflections in Gray - Mary Marcotte

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Custom Coordinates Using Inkscape and Spoonflower, Part 3: Fabric!

Custom fabric from Spoonflower

My fabric arrived from Spoonflower!  It turned out just as I’d hoped.  And check it out: the colors are spot on!  It’s reassuring to know that the method I described in an earlier post is reliable, because the colors definitely looked different on the computer screen than they do on fabric.

Spoonflower and inspiring fabrics

One thing I didn’t quite consider is that the Timber and Leaf fabrics have a cream background rather than a white background.  Since the geometric prints are also pretty different aesthetically, I might end up using them for another purpose than mixing them in with this line.  I think they’d make a cute little quilted pouch.  For now, into the stash they go!

Longarm Disaster Strikes

Cheryl and I continued our longarm quilting adventures at Eddie’s Quilting Bee yesterday.  In positive news, we finished quilting her lovely, wine-country-themed quilt.

Cheryl quilting

We also figured out, after a ton of thread breaking and a helpful intervention by Eddie himself, that we had been loading the back bar the wrong way.  Luckily this didn’t affect her quilt at all, although we were both very annoyed for a while as we threaded and rethreaded the machine.

Then we moved on to my quilt, a blocky little lap quilt made from the Architextures line by Carolyn Friedlander.  I was inspired in my design by the Bricks Quilt from Tallgrass Prairie Studio, although my shapes are a little more Tetris-y.  Here it is in its current state.

Architextures quilt

Why is it not done?  Well, take a look.

Poor thread tension

This is the back of the quilt.  I’m not going to show you the full extent of the damage, except to say that unpicking it will probably be occupying several of my evenings this week.  The weird thing is that there is stitching on either side of it that looks perfectly fine, so whatever the problem was, it was also resolved without me noticing.  At one point I actually said to Cheryl, “You know, the stitch tension looks a little off.”  But from the top it was barely noticeable, and I was excited, so I just kept going.  Lesson learned!

I’m so thrilled with how the quilt is turning out otherwise, that thankfully this little stumbling block isn’t getting me down too much.  Hopefully in another few weeks I’ll have a finished quilt to show off!

Custom Coordinates Using Inkscape and Spoonflower, Part 2: Dots and Stripes

Last time I talked about creating a custom palette in Inkscape, using their printed color chart and some existing fabric you want to match.  Today I’m going to talk about creating the .svg file in Inkscape that you will upload to Spoonflower.  In particular, I’ll demonstrate how to make two really simple patterns: polka dots and stripes.  The nice thing about the method I’ll use is that it doesn’t use any fancy tools within Inkscape.  There is a great tutorial about creating repeats for more complicated shapes at the Very Simple Designs blog, although the method is also more complicated, using something called Cloned Tiles.

Setting up the document

We’ll do polka dots first.  The first thing to do is to set the size of the document to the size of the repeat.  When you upload the .svg file to Spoonflower, it’ll be converted to a .png file, and the resolution is set to 150 pixels = 1 inch.  (Technically since we are creating a vector image that can be rescaled arbitrarily, it doesn’t matter if we match this exactly, but this method will keep things simple.)   I’m going to set my repeat to be a 1×1 inch square, or 150×150 pixels.  You’ll see the effect of this sizing choice when we’re done, and you can come back and change this number if you want to adjust the spacings of the polka dots.

First click on File > Document Properties.

  • Under the Page tab, change the Units to px, the Width to 150, and the Height to 150. Uncheck “Show border shadow.”
  • Under the Grids tab, click on New, and then set Spacing X and Spacing Y both equal to 10.

Your workspace should now look like this.  If you can’t see your document, take a look at the rulers; the bottom left corner will be at 0 on both the horizontal and vertical axes. You may need to zoom in, which you can do by typing the “+” sign.

Inkscape grid

Creating the polka dots

The grids are there to help us size everything so that the repeats will line up perfectly.  We’ll put a dot in each corner and one in the center.  When we save the file, it’ll save only what’s inside the document window.  The “quarter dots” on the corners will then line up to make full sized dots when we repeat the file horizontally and vertically.

To make the first circle, click on the ellipse tool, and then click and drag from one grid intersection to another.  You’ll know you’re lining up perfectly when you see the words “Handle to grid intersection” on the screen.  You can move your circle if needed by clicking on the Select and Transform Objects tool (it looks like an arrow pointing up) and then clicking and dragging your circle.  Check to see that your circle dimensions are round numbers by looking at the width and height entries along the top of the workspace.  You can see that mine are both 40.  (These numbers show up only after you’ve clicked on the Select and Transform Objects tool.)  Also, note that you can change the Fill and Stroke colors by double clicking on those words down at the bottom left corner to bring up a dialog box.  You can also click and drag colors directly here from your palette.

One dot in Inkscape

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Custom Coordinates Using Inkscape and Spoonflower, Part 1: Creating a Custom Palette

I’ve been dying to try creating some custom fabric on Spoonflower since I first heard about it last fall.  Actually, stumbling on Spoonflower was one of the precipitating factors that led to me finally buying a sewing machine, after swearing up and down that I was not going to take on yet one more hobby.  The possibilities were just too cool.

So, a few months and WAY too much fabric stash-building later, I’m getting started creating my own fabrics.  I just designed and ordered some simple polka dot and striped fabric to match some fabric already in my stash, this beautiful set of prints by Sarah Watts from her line Timber and Leaf.  The ones on the ends are my favorites.  How sweet is that bear??

Timber and Leaf

One issue that you have to sort out right away if you’re going to print using Spoonflower is color matching, because colors as they appear on your monitor are never going to look exactly as they will on printed fabric.  To address this, Spoonflower has some handy color reference charts that you can print on the fabric of your choice.  The first thing I did was to take the fabrics in my stash and match up the colors against the chart to get a collection of HEX codes for colors I might want to use.

Color Comparison

I created my image files using Inkscape.  Inkscape is a vector image program, like Adobe Illustrator, but Inkscape is free and open source.  Step one was to create a custom “Timber and Leaf” palette in Inkscape. [Read more…]