Pressed Leaves…Homeward

Making a pattern more than once? A rarity for me – but not this one! I’ve made so many of these table runners from my pattern “Pressed Leaves” I’ve lost count! It features a traditional leaf block in a not-so-traditional setting. It’s pretty quick and easy and looks great in every color combo of fabrics I’ve seen. And the perfect project to get you in the mood for Fall!20180804_0936351274309439.jpgThis time though, I had the pleasure of using a beautiful new fabric line by Natalie Barnes from Beyond the Reef Patterns for Windham Fabrics called Homeward. When I saw the beautiful mix of bold, saturated color and low volume prints, I knew my next “Pressed Leaves ” runner was on its way! The fabric line includes a great range based on a beautiful floral focal print…20180804_2043321664419046.jpgI chose to mix up several of the low volume white/gray/black prints in the line for my background. The leaf blocks practically made themselves I had so many great combinations of prints to pick from. From the looks of this photo, I need to clean my design wall!I added my go-to favorite quilting on this project – an echo quilted wavy line using the walking foot on my domestic machine. Choosing scrappy binding from all the bits leftover means you don’t have to pick just one! There are so many great choices in this line and it will look great on my dining room table.Thank you Natalie and Windham Fabrics for a beautiful line! Look for Homeward as well as my pattern “Pressed Leaves” at your favorite local quilt shop!Happy fall quilting,

Tonya

 

 

 

Hungarian Picnic

Summer, sunshine, picnics in the park – what could be better? Well, I would add happy memories to that list and for me, some of those are showcased in “Hungarian Picnic”, my latest project for Quiltmania’s Simply Vintage magazine. I’m happy to share that it’s featured in the Summer 2018 issue!

HungPicnic79-SV27_TanyaAlexander
Hungarian Picnic, image courtesy of Simply Vintage, Summer 2018

Now, I don’t usually think of my quilting style as “vintage” and this is my first time in this particular edition by Quiltmania, but I guess if I think of vintage like good old Webster does as “of old, recognized, and enduring interest, importance, or quality” I’ll go with it! I think the folks at Quiltmania were spot on yet again with the photography and styling of this project. It evokes warm memories for me – and of a very special time in my life when I lived in Hungary.

I don’t have the honor of actually being Hungarian, I’m more of a voluntary adopted daughter! I was there teaching English for a year after college but really spent most of my time soaking in all of the “gulyas leves” that I could, learning about a beautiful, rich European culture, and loving the spirited and generous people I was surrounded by.

HP_2
Hungarian Picnic, by Tonya Alexander/Quilted by Tracey Fisher

One of the simplest things that reminds me of that time of my life are the beautiful motifs found in Hungarian embroidery and pottery. My luggage was full of both when I made my way home and I always find the colors and forms inspiring. This project seemed like the perfect way to feature some of those.

Each region in Hungary is represented by it’s own unique style of embroidery. This design is inspired by and is reminiscent of iconic motifs notably from the area of Kalocsa. See the little red pepper in the border? That’s the tell-tale sign of Kalocsa embroidery and it’s symbolic of Hungary’s probably most famous export – paprika!HP_1

Project construction features quick and easy, scrappy nine-patch blocks set with a single “solid-ish” background fabric. I chose to do wool felt applique for a rustic but bright and colorful applique border – stitched by hand during the summer on my front porch, no less! You could, of course, substitute any favorite applique technique, switch out for cotton fabrics, fuse, needle-turn, take your pick!

HPcloseup

I am an absolute convert to free-form feather motif quilting featured on this project by Tracey Fisher. I think she was a little skeptical when I said I wanted feathers all over this since she knows traditional feathers aren’t my norm, but fortunately she obliged and added her amazing talent and free-form styling. Now I can’t imagine it any other way! I think the feathered quilting echoes the embroidery forms across the field of grid nine patch blocks in a particularly pleasing way for me.

So, if you already subscribe to the always beautiful and inspiring Quiltmania publications, you’re in luck, you hopefully already have your copy. Or, look for Simply Vintage at your favorite local quilt shop before they sell out –  they’d love to see your smiling face 🙂

SV27-Couv Rotimpress-GB.indd

Happy summer stash quilting,

Tonya

A visit with Pat Sloan on the AP&Q Podcast!

Got scraps? Great! Let’s talk about them, shall we? I just had the chance to visit with the lovely Pat Sloan on her American Patchwork & Quilting Podcast. We chat about our mutual love of scrap quilts, working with scrap fabric strings, and one of my favorite topics – low volume fabrics 🙂

Come and join us! You can check it out here on Pat’s site….or here on American Patchwork & Quilting!

American Patchwork Quilting Pocast episode 389 Tonya Alexander

Happy scrap quilting!

Tonya

Time for a little String Theory!

And yes, we’re talking science – SCRAP SCIENCE that is! One of my favorite subjects to be sure. The longer I quilt one thing has proven to be true – the scraps keep multiplying and they keep getting smaller! I have been on a solid year full of string quilts – strings for me being skinny 1 1/2″ cut strips of fabrics. The result is my latest project – the String Theory Lab Manual and I’m thrilled to share it with you!LMS_String Theory Covers

String Theory includes patterns for 6 different projects, all featuring these skinny strips of fabric. It’s amazing what you can do with all of these lovely little bits. We also talk a lot about low volume fabrics, storage ideas, and general construction tips and tricks. For me, it all started with this project, Rock Star…

Rock Star

This one also includes the optional project for the Big String Star that I teach in workshops and has been so much fun. On to the next project, Calliope!

Calliope
Calliope

Calliope is my version of a traditional plus quilt on scrappy string steroids! What makes this quilt work visually with all the different fabric scraps is the technique of color-blocking and I talk a lot more about that in the book. Next up, Domino, a curvy log cabin table runner. There are actually two version in String Theory but here’s version #1…

Domino1
Domino

And Ombré Loco, for serious scrap enthusiasts with a bucket of favorite color scraps over-flowing. The best thing about this project is how it can be adapted for ANY favorite color out there!

Ombre-Loco
Ombre Loco

Next up, Exit Stage Left!

Exit-Stage-Left
Exit Stage Left

And last but certainly not least, Simple Gifts, a quick and easy table topper that can be personalized for any favorite holiday colors.

simple-gifts
Simple Gifts

One more for good measure, is this Simple Gifts alternative, these cute little throw pillows. I couldn’t resist! How can you ever have too many throw pillows? Especially when they’re this cute!

Simple Gifts alternate project – pillows!

O.k., here are the details…look for String Theory at your favorite local quilt shop or ask them to get it! They can order wholesale directly from me or through the following awesome distributors: Checker, EESchenck, Brewer Sewing, and Petersen Arne.

Or, you can order directly from my new shop page ! You can also check out my other latest patterns available now too. More about those later. I think that’s as much scrap happiness as we can handle in one post for now!

Happy string quilting,

Tonya

Family Tree

Family trees come in all shapes, forms, and sizes and so does this “Family Tree”, my latest project for Quiltmania’s Simply Moderne magazine. I’m happy to share that it’s featured in the new Summer 2018 issue!

FamilyTree_SModerne
Family Tree, image courtesy of Simply Moderne Summer 2018

Now, I know typically family trees aren’t this bright or bold, but when I think of all of the colorful characters and fun family memories that make up my own family tree – this doesn’t seem so far off! Really, it’s about the vibrant colors of life that it represents.

20180619_095206

I dove deep into the scrap bucket for this one using an assortment of bright prints as well as solids for the leaves and nested them in a mix of black/white print fabrics. The stack of black/white fabrics on my stash shelf was the result of a fun shop-hop fabric hunt. I love a mission – especially when there’s fabric shopping involved! Mixing brights with black/white prints is a go-to combo that will always look great, no matter which colors you choose.

20180619_095515

For carefree summer quilting, I opted for fusible applique and finished with a machine blanket stitch in matching threads for the leaves. The bright pop of hot pink of the flange binding adds another layer of interest to this project and keeps the black print fabrics from feeling too heavy or serious. It’s a surprisingly simple technique and a fun one to try if you haven’t before.

The quilting was a bit of a lark on this one. I echo quilted around all of the leaves and then changed up the quilting motifs in each of the squares.  Black and white fabrics are very forgiving so give yourself permission to mix them up and try something new – remember, this is supposed to be fun!

20180619_095631

So, if you already subscribe to the always beautiful and inspiring Quiltmania publications, you’re in luck – check your mailbox and it should be there any day. Or, look for Simply Moderne at your favorite local quilt shop on shelves soon – they’d love to see you’re smiling face 🙂 FamilyTreeCouv-SM13-GB

Happy summer scrap quilting,

Tonya

Spring Market – Portland recap

Wohoo! I’m celebrating! I attended Spring Quilt Market in Portland last week (industry trade show) and had my own vendor booth for the first time and WOW! So much work, such a big learning curve, but so much FUN!

20180518_094419

First of all, no one does this kind of thing alone and I had all kinds of great help – from product production, graphic design, long-arm quilting, hauling, set-up, booth coverage, experienced neighboring vendors, tear-down, and even pizza and ice cream consumption. Most importantly amazingly encouraging friends and family – I had all kinds of help along the way and I’m so grateful.

I hardly had a chance to leave my own booth and walk the show floor. But I’ll share what I can! Picture heavy but here are some glimpses of my week…

the view down my aisle before the show floor opened…

20180519_102047

click on any of the images for a closer look…

 

 

and then there was a fun open-house shopping event at EE Schenck (an industry distributor) at their facility in Portland…and look what was on their shelves!

I met so many great shop owners, industry professionals, quilt lovers all. There’s probably no better way to summarize my week than with this display from RJR Fabrics. This is what it’s all about…

20180522_220249

Happy stash quilting,

Tonya

Trying something new – silk!

One of the things I love about quilting is the variety and creativity in the medium. While I love my scrap quilts, it’s also fun to try new things, stretch and grow, too. I had the opportunity recently to take a silk fabric painting class with Janet Lehwalder and it was so fun! So different than anything I had tried or imagined either – and sometimes that’s the best part of taking a class!20180428_114537

So, if pressed to describe painting on silk fabric, I’d say it’s kind of like watercolor painting crossed with Easter egg dying. The process is so easy Janet even teaches elementary school students the technique – so I knew there was hope for me!

Janet’s knowledge and experience is so deep. She’s such a great example of someone finding the art form that speaks to them and making it a lifelong passion. Not only was it a class on a new technique and medium but also a great exercise in color mixing and using the true primaries – yellow, magenta, and cyan – to make all the colors we used.20180428_160508 (1)

There’re a lot of steps and I wouldn’t begin to attempt a tutorial here – more like an exploratory look 🙂 so here are some pics of the process…

 

 

Here’re some of my classmates’ works in progress and one of Janet’s completed projects with beautiful bead embellishments.

 

 

I tried a traced design with a resist medium and then adding the paint and then one free-hand all-over design on a silk fat quarter. Supposedly, you can even cut it up and quilt with it when you are done, but I can tell you I love it too much already to ever cut into this baby!

 

 

So, check out Janet’s work, take her classes if you have the opportunity and try something new! You will enjoy the process, add a new skill to your arsenal,  and leave with a beautiful piece of hand-painted silk.20180506_140047

Happy stash quilting,

Tonya

Class Full

“Class Full.” Those are delightful words for a teacher offering a class – a bummer if you were trying to get into the class too late! Do you take classes at your local quilt shop, at conferences, or with your guild? Classes can be so much more than learning a specific technique or quilt pattern. As a teacher and as a student myself, here’s what I love about them:

  • shared passion, excitement for our craft and truly the art of quilting
  • support and encouragement from other quilters
  • idea overload – in a good way!
  • a different perspective
  • learning a new project, the actual content of the class itself…

I wanted to share some student projects from some recent Big String Star classes I’ve taught. It’s a class based on this larger project, Rock Star – scaled down to wall-hanging size.

img_0259
Rock Star by Tonya Alexander

So much fun…

Aren’t those student projects beautiful?! Creativity has no bounds and I love that and am so inspired by them. The one thing I would add to my list of favorite things about classes is this:

  • There is nothing more satisfying for a teacher than to see their students’ unique and creative projects come to life!

So take a class, meet new friends, learn a technique, and most of all, HAVE FUN!

Happy stash quilting,

Tonya

New for Spring!

Oh my, oh my, oh my! I feel like my hair’s on fire! I’m getting ready for Spring Quilt Market which will be in May in Portland, Oregon. (Quilt Market is the industry trade show for designers, publishers, fabric companies, etc. to introduce their products to shop owners and retailers.) So exciting, but no small amount of work, I will admit!

Blog button

I’ve been to market once before but this is the first time I’m going as a vendor and will have my own display booth. While I’d like to say I’m busy sewing, that is only one small part of the process of bringing a product to market. There’s a whole lot of computer time put in before then! One of the exciting mile posts for me is seeing the products coming together and the cover reveal! So I want to share with you my pet project for Spring…..String Theory!

Lab Manual Series Cover v2 (002)

So this is the draft cover, there are still some tweaks being made but it’s still pretty freaking exciting to me! I’ll share more sneak peeks of the projects inside soon but honestly, I just couldn’t wait any longer to share with you 🙂

Happy stash quilting,

Tonya

Spring forward – with Spring Strings!

The arrival of Spring is fast approaching and this weekend we get to spring ahead and reset our clocks to take advantage of more beautiful spring sunshine! Sounds like a great time for a scrappy spring table top project – like my recent “Spring Strings!”

20180309_163151

 

The pattern for “Spring Strings” is featured in the current Spring 2018 issue of Primitive Quilts and Projects magazine.

IMG_20180204_101906_680

My friend, Creative Director of PQ and fellow-Martingale author, Jeni Gaston likes to remind me that primitive is not a color – it’s a style and feeling that can work with many different color palettes – which is encouraging for me because I love bright, saturated colors. For this project I pulled together some of my favorite wool fabrics in blue, green, and magenta. I layered them on a scrappy background of low-volume scrap strips – or strings – and the combination was so fun!

20180309_163237

A quick and easy blanket stitch around the wool applique shapes is a hallmark of primitive style and it made this project relaxing and fun to do. So, pull out your bucket of scrap strips, pick out some fun wool in your favorite spring colors, and enjoy making your own version of Spring Strings!

Happy stash quilting,

Tonya