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…

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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!

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Ombre Loco

Next up, Exit Stage Left!

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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.

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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

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.

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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!

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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!

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!”

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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 & QuiltingŸ 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…
purple2
too something…
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closer…
purple1
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 & QuiltingŸ 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 & QuiltingŸ 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 & QuiltingŸ 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 & QuiltingŸ 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 & QuiltingŸ magazine. ©2017 Meredith Corporation. All rights reserved.

Happy Stash quilting,

Tonya