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!

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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.

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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!

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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 🙂

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Happy summer stash 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!

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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

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!

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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!

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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!”

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

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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!

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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

Happy New Year!

The new year brings new beginnings, resolutions, clearing out the old and in with the new, or in my sewing room, that means a new scrap project! If you’re looking for a scrap buster to feature your favorite color (or the color with the biggest pile of scraps!), you’ll want to check out my current project for American Patchwork & Quilting in the February 2018 issue. This is “Plaid to Meet You”!

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Used with permission from American Patchwork & Quilting® magazine. ©2018 Meredith Corporation. All rights reserved.

 

I can’t take credit for the project name at all. The beautiful photo styling and editorial was done by the great folks at APQ. I was simply referring to this project as my version of Buffalo Plaid. I’m sure you know what buffalo plaid is even if you didn’t realize that’s what it was called – think red and black plaid on hunting shirts. That’s a buffalo plaid!

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traditional buffalo plaid print
My version takes a bit of a twist in the color category. Sorting through my scrap strings (which I keep sorted by width and color family, my smallest being 1 1/2″ wide), I came up with a big pile of grays left over from another project. (Can you guess which one?) What to do with them? Here were some of my auditioning fabric pulls I was considering before I landed on the final purple/gray combo.

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meh…
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too something…
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closer…
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now we’re talking!

Now, even thought the Kaffe Fassett purple/teal Spiral Shells fabric on the left didn’t make it in the final version, it definitely helped me pull together thoughts about the quilt. Sometimes it’s like that, you think something will be there and then further down the line, it gets edited out. In this case when it came time to pick the main purple and gray off-set square fabrics and border, the shell fabric came out.

My stash of scrap strings was pretty light on purples so I spent time scavenging the scrap table at my guild meetings and in friends’ sewing rooms to come up with enough to reach my scrappy vision. Long after the decisions were made, the sewing was complete, and the quilt shipped off to APQ, Pantone came out with their color of the year predictions – yep, you guessed it – ultra violet! Purely coincidence, I guarantee it.

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Here’s a shot of the big spiral quilting in progress using the walking foot on my domestic machine…and yes, the backing is a beautiful modern toile by Jennifer Sampou called Black & White Scenic Onyx for Kaufman Fabrics. I’ve been hording it for just the right project! You can also see the two main purple and gray fabrics I used for the squares alternating between the grid blocks, Kaffe’s Guinea Flower (purple) and Kaffe’s Ferns (gray) from Free Spirit.

This project would be so easy to adapt to your own favorite color-way. Basically gray + pick your color. Or change up the gray to a different neutral. How about taupe? black? white?

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APQ, February 2018 issue

So whether you are wanting to clear out some scraps for the new year or love your scraps all year long, I hope you’ll enjoy making your own version of “Plaid to Meet You”!

Happy Stash Quilting,

Tonya

Calliope, a scrappy plus quilt

Can you hear the calliope music playing in the background when you look at this quilt? I can! That’s what inspired the name, that and the bright cheery colors that make up my scrappy string version of a plus quilt.

I dove into the scrap bin and sorted a bunch of scrap strips of various lengths, all cut 1 1/2″ wide into color groups – pink, blue, green, yellow, orange, and white (low volume).  These I joined into strip sets to cut my blocks. Instead of the pluses being constructed of a single fabric each as they would be in a traditional setting, I used my strip set blocks. Scrap burner for sure!

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Now, for the plus design to come through you have to pay attention to block placement to let the colors work together to make the secondary design. I like to use good old fashioned graph paper for this step. Then it’s time to lay out the blocks. A design wall works great.

 

 

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these are the “bones” of the quilt, the flimsy top before it was layered and quilted, hung up in the window. Kind of like stained glass, don’t you think?

The beauty of a project like this to me is that the overall design is so much more than any of the individual scraps on their own – they are so much more effective together.

Insert an over-sized plus into the grid for variety and visual focus.


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And one more closeup of the beautiful quilting by Tracey while I was attaching the binding. She matched the thread color to each plus, adding great texture while helping define the identity of each plus. Perfect.

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You can find Calliope and other fun patterns in the current Sept/Oct 2017 issue of Modern Patchwork.

Happy stash string quilting,

Tonya

Look Both Ways (take 2)

***this is a re-post from last month, I just had it in the wrong place on WP, so putting up again to get it in the blog queue! ~ta

Wohoo! Time for a trip down the magazine aisle to hunt up some more copies of the new issue of Quilts and More magazine, Fall 2017. It was just released and it features my project “Look Both Ways”.  I’m super excited to share more about it with you. Do you have some low volume scrap strips laying around your sewing room? Perfect! Pull them out, this may be just the project.

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Look Both Ways by Tonya Alexander – Used with permission from American Patchwork & Quilting® magazine. ©2017 Meredith Corporation. All rights reserved.

When you first look at this quilt do you see the white arrows or the gray arrows? Did you notice there were both at first? Our eyes play funny tricks on us. At first, I naturally see the white I think because they follow the direction of the orange arrows but once I focus on the gray ones going the opposite direction, that’s all I can see!

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Used with permission from American Patchwork & Quilting® magazine. ©2017 Meredith Corporation. All rights reserved.

This project features 1 1/2″ wide scrap strips sewn into strip sets. To achieve the contrast between the white and gray arrows, it’s important to be selective when sorting your scraps. I tried to be pretty strict about white backgrounds on all the fabrics in the white arrows. With the gray scraps I was more willing to include a wider variety of tones, as long as they were gray (but don’t be afraid of little pops of color!) You can choose to mix your scraps up a bit more but your arrows may not be as prominent.

The orange row was my favorite scrap dive into the bins. I had fun picking them all out and many friends contributed their scraps as well so I had a great selection. I highly recommend scrap sharing with friends! Once I had enough orange strips, I arranged them all lightest to darkest and made multiple strip sets to achieve the light to dark affect across the quilt. Not a fan of orange or making it for a special baby with a differently themed nursery? (It’s a great size for that, by the way…) Pick your favorite. Any color will work well with the white and gray.

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I had fun with the quilting on this one, borrowing a friend’s long-arm machine and getting some great tips from my two favorite long-arm professionals, Nikki and Tracey. Squiggles in the gray arrows and a squared off meandering loop in the white and orange with matching thread.

and one more quilt-in-the-wild shot just for fun!

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So that’s all for now. I have some more projects coming out soon so I’ll be sure to share. That and a new website!!! It’s my big summer project…stay tuned (and wish me luck!), it’s quite a stretch for me 🙂 Until then…

Happy string quilting!

Tonya

A new take on classic strings…

Oh, how I love string quilts. Well, what I really love are all of the fabulous scraps strips that go into them. Little bits of odds and ends that come together to create something better than they would have ever been on their own. Here’s one of my latest, Rock Star!

Used with permission from American Patchwork & Quilting® magazine. ©2017 Meredith Corporation. All rights reserved.

 
I’m so happy to share that it is currently gracing the pages of the October 2017 issue of American Patchwork & Quilting. It’s a great scrap issue and I absolutely love the feature shot of my quilt. I wish that it was in my own house…

 

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Used with permission from American Patchwork & Quilting® magazine. ©2017 Meredith Corporation. All rights reserved.

Once again, I find myself trying to find my own quilt-voice in the convergence zone of modern and traditional design that I often find myself drawn into. I think the modern elements of this project are the alternate grid work, exaggerated scale of a traditional block design, and use of negative space. Mix that with a traditional concept of scrap string quilts and this is where I landed!

Here’s a close up of the beautiful quilting done once again by Tracey. I really enjoy seeing how her creativity and talent adds to my projects to make them complete.

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So if you don’t already have a copy of the October 2017 issue, get it while you can! Save up those scraps and make something you love.

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Used with permission from American Patchwork & Quilting® magazine. ©2017 Meredith Corporation. All rights reserved.

Happy Stash quilting,

Tonya