July 17, 2019

Robins, Chickadees and Triangles

Red Red Robin and Chickadees in the Pines are my most recent finishes for the #bouldermqgufos challenge. Both quilts were pieced a couple of years ago but then nothing. No quilting. No finish. The UFO challenge this year has been really good motivation for me to actually finish several projects and I'm so happy to have both of these quilts totally done.



Both quilts are the result of wanting to try a new tool. Do you ever buy a quilting tool and then never use it? The right tools can be so important for accuracy and good results, but in general I don't tend to buy very many tools. I'd rather buy pretty fabric. : )  Every once in awhile though I give in and buy a new tool and most go unused. Especially rulers. So after owning an equilateral ruler for some time I thought I'd give it a try. My friend Elizabeth just posted today about rulers and the essential ones to own. Check out her post here.


I found it quite easy to use this ruler. There are sooo many design possibilities with equilateral triangles. I definitely foresee more triangle quilts in my future so can safely say this was a worthwhile purchase.

For Chickadees I wanted a modern, clean look to the triangles so I chose mostly solid greens and off whites in a variety of hues. Then I sprinkled in a few fussy cut chickadees from a very old bird print. 


This is my winter family room quilt. I considered throwing in a tiny touch of red for Christmas but decided on a more general winter theme instead. After the holidays are over I strip away the red touches from Christmas and use a simple, white and green palette for a few months. There are even a few chickadees here and there so this quilt fits in quite nicely.




Chickadees was quilted by Karen at The Quilted Moose using an all over tree motif with a few stars and moons in the mix. The motif adds a serene feeling of a quiet walk in the woods under the moonlight. Perfect for a cozy night of reading by the fire on a cold winter evening.

Shortly after piecing Chickadees I started another triangle quilt after buying a fun robin print called Birdland by Alexander Henry. It was an impulse buy. I love birds and the colors just spoke to me. I started with a few fussy cut triangles of the robins and arranged them on top of the pine top. I thought this would help me distribute the robins and also help with color placement. In retrospect I would never do this again because it just meant I had to move all the pieces off the base quilt top. It did help me decide that I wanted a more blurred color placement rather than the green/white contrast of the pine quilt.



I cut the fabric a few triangles at a time by pulling coral/orange/pinkish prints from my stash. Once the robin areas were filled, I cut greens and lighter values to blend out to the edges. By cutting a few at a time I was able to gradually build-out the layout.

Once all the triangles were arranged, I needed to puzzle out the quilt top piecing. Due to the three larger triangles I couldn't piece the whole top in single triangle rows like I did for the pine quilt. First I figured out how to chunk sections so they would come together in wider rows. You can see below how those sections came together. It's not hard. You just need to think it through before you start piecing. Grouping them on the design wall helped me see how they fit together.



Red Red Robin was quilted by Cara at Sew Colorado Quilting using the Trillium motif which is one of my favorite quilting motifs. It features leaves . . . what more can I say.


Red Red Robin is my springtime family room quilt. It's way to hot now to use a quilt inside but it certainly adds a cheery spot of color. I think during the off season I'll keep it in my bedroom where it fits right in with the bird decor.


Have you ever made a quilt with equilateral triangles?
Do you have a favorite specialty quilting ruler you would recommend?
I'd love to hear about them.

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June 30, 2019

Fleece Backing

Last month I shared the floral quilts I made and gifted to my three sisters-in-law. Instead of regular quilting cotton for the backing, I used a fleece for all three quilts. Today I'd like to share a few tips on using fleece.


I chose LUXE fleece from JoAnns which is their heaviest weight fleece and is supposed to be pill resistant. Since these are new quilts that haven't gone through much wear and tear or washing, I can't speak to the level of pill resistance. Hopefully they will wear well.

LUXE fleece feels heavier and more luxurious than the other types of fleece that JoAnns carries. I found this comparison of the various types of fleece on their website. It is more expensive than the other fleece but when purchased on sale and/or with a coupon it is still quite reasonable.

The main drawback is that the color choices are much more limited. There were several prints available but few solids. Fortunately I was able to find colors that worked well enough for all three quilts.



Another advantage to the fleece was the wider width. They are 59" wide which was just right for my quilts that finished at 42" x 54"  No piecing was necessary.

Because of the weight, I did not use any batting. I thought without batting they would feel lighter but in the end they feel about the same weight as a normal quilt . . . just softer. Lots softer.

The drawback to no batting was some shadowing of the seams. All of the quilts included some light fabrics and all the fleece was relatively dark in comparison. You can see the show-through in the following two photos. I felt like it was more noticeable in the first quilt that had larger blocks.


In the second example, the pieces were smaller and this made the show-through feel less noticeable overall. I think the small piecing and the quilting texture help to minimize the show-through.


If your quilt is full of prints, I wouldn't worry about the show-through of the seams as it will be hidden by the prints. Another option to avoid the show-through would be to use a lightweight lining fabric or batting to eliminate the problem.

Cara at Sew Colorado Quilting quilted them for me on her longarm. She was more than willing to give fleece a try which I really appreciated. Here are her tips for using fleece backing:

Do not cut off the selvage because it helps to stabilize the fleece which is stretchy. She said it was a little tricky at first to figure out how tight to roll the fleece without stretching it too much. Don't over stretch.

Choose a quilting motif that doesn't back track on itself. If the motif does back track, try to use thread that matches the backing. Cara used a lighter thread for all my quilts to blend into the quilt top. For the most part this worked beautifully because the thread tends to bury itself into the fleece pile.

In the photo below you can see how the thread color shows up as little spots of lighter color here and there on the back of one of the quilts where the design tracks over itself. This backing was also the darkest of the three and the design motif was different than the other two. I don't think it's terrible but definitely something to be aware of.


The best part about using fleece for the backing is the appearance. In the photo below you might think the thread is a darker blue but it's not. It's actually a light gray that blended well with the quilt top. The thread tends to get buried into the pile of the fleece giving the impression of being embossed. I love how it looks!


For some reason I found one of the quilts a little more of a challenge to bind than the others. I did all machine binding and the edges had a tendency to roll a little. Pressing well with a press cloth (because the fabric is polyester) seemed to help. I think it would have been hard to bind these by hand because of the pile. Not impossible but definitely harder to get down to the actual fabric base with the stitches.


All in all, I couldn't have been more pleased with the results. The quilts are really really soft and cuddly and I absolutely love how the quilting shows up on the back.

I have since done one more quilt with a fleece backing but haven't finished the binding yet. When it's done I'll share it here.

Have you ever used fleece or any other types of backing materials? I'd love to know about your experience.

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May 21, 2019

Quilts are Blooming

April showers bring May flowers . . . or so they say. It's May 21st and I woke up to snow this morning so anything goes here in Colorado. Snow aside, I have been spending a lot of time in 2019 working with my older floral stash. My April creating brought several blooming quilts to completion in May.

Irish Chain quilt by Springleaf Studios

These three were recently finished and gifted to my wonderful sisters-in-law while on a recent road trip to the Midwest. I don't have siblings but consider myself extra blessed that I gained 3 sisters when I married my husband. I love them all and it gave me such pleasure to make personalized quilts for each of them that reflected their individual style.

floral quilts by Springleaf Studios

First up was this simple Irish chain for Jan. She lives in Kansas also known as the sunflower state so my collection of sunflower prints fit perfectly. She loves sunflowers and all things Kansas.

Irish Chain quilt by Springleaf Studios

sunlfower Irish Chain quilt by Springleaf Studios

Next up was this half square triangle quilt in lovely lavenders and purples for Nancy in Kansas City. She's going through some tough times right now with her health so I hope these flowers will remind her of better times spent in her garden and of her Mom who often wore lavender and light blue.

floral HST quilt by Springleaf Studios

floral HST quilt by Springleaf Studios

Last was this multi-colored Irish chain for Candy. She loves hostas and the colors purple and magenta so the hosta print and the peonies and other purple flowers were a great fit. I even put in a couple of sunflowers as a nod to years spent living in Kansas before their move to Iowa.

floral Irish Chain quilt by Springleaf Studios

floral Irish Chain quilt by Springleaf Studios

It was so much fun to gift each of these wonderful women in my life with a quilt. I hope they will be loved and used and brighten their days with positive energy and warmth. It feels nice knowing that some of my pretty fabrics have been put to good use.

I accumulated more than my fair share of traditional floral fabrics years ago when I did a lot of impressionist style quilts. Below is one of the early impressionist quilts I made for friends. On our trip we got to visit with them in their Iowa home and I took this photo. Not great lighting but I'm happy to know they still enjoy the quilt many years later as a reminder of their time spent living in Colorado.

impressionist mountain quilt

So far I've completed 4 lap quilts and have fabric cut for 2 more and yet I've barely made a dent in my floral stash. There's even more than what this photo shows . . . Yikes!  I'll be following up with another post soon about the backing and quilting details for these three quilts so stay tuned.


Generally speaking these types of fabrics aren't my style anymore and yet on our recent trip I found myself buying these pretty green florals. I'm not a big fan of butterflies but the ferns and white flowers spoke to me.


I guess there'll be at least one more floral quilt to make. I'm thinking another Irish Chain as I love the simplicity of the design while still allowing room for a mix of prints. I have some fern and ivy prints I may mix in with these new fabrics.

Perhaps there will be more floral quilts in my future but after this one I think I'll be ready to move on. I have plenty of bright Kaffe florals waiting in the wings begging to be used, plus some new modern ideas brewing. Keep an eye on my Instagram account to see what I'm up to @springleafstudios.

I also have a new IG account specifically about color if you're interested. Right now I'm doing the 100 day challenge posting on the color green. It will evolve into other colors as I go along. @springleafcolor

Linking up with Kelly and this week's NTT party.
Also linking up with Cheryl's Favorite Finish Monthly.
Hope you're creating something beautiful in your world.

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April 26, 2019

Cherry Blossoms; Finally Finished

Way back in 2014 I started a quilt. Here it is 2019 and I can finally say it's finished.

Interweave quilt pattern with Amy Butler

Cherry Blossoms was one of 4 quilts I made during early explorations and development of a pattern called Interweave. While this was the first quilt I made of the design, it ended up being the last one to get finished. It was quilted at the same time as the others but I just never got around to binding it. Then I simply forgot. Can you relate? A project gets tucked away and you forget about it.

Credit goes to the BoulderMQG UFO challenge for motivating me to finally finish Cherry Blossoms. The guild challenge for 2019 was to list 6 projects and specify what we wanted to accomplish. We were encouraged to have a variety of goals from simple to more involved. This was certainly an easier one and far overdue. But then I guess all UFOs are overdue aren't they? Of course I have far more than 6 UFOs. Way more! But at least I'm making the effort and things are getting done. Done is good!

Interweave quilt pattern with Amy Butler

The colors are spot on for 2019 with Pantone's Color of the Year, Living Coral and Kona's Color of the Year, Splash. I've loved this color scheme for a long time. Most of the fabrics are from older Amy Butler fabric lines like Love, Cameo, and Soul Blossoms. I've been a fan of her fabrics for years and will certainly miss her lines now that she has moved away from fabric design. : (

The colors feel very summery and make me think of swimming pools and flower gardens in the tropics which probably isn't reflected in the quilt name. I chose the name Cherry Blossoms because my favorite fabric in the quilt is of the cherry trees in bloom. I hope to get a good photo in the wild once summer arrives and things are little more colorful outside.

When I design a pattern, choosing which fabrics to feature as the main cover quilt can be one of the hardest decisions in the whole process. Since the pattern is designed to showcase large scale prints, I chose a range of Kaffe Fassett blues for the cover quilt.

Interweave quilt pattern with Kaffe Fassett

Another variation of the pattern features a single Amy Butler fabric for the main horizontal sections.

Interweave quilt pattern with Amy Butler

The last version (and my personal favorite) is this smaller black and white with warm floral accent strips.

Interweave quilt pattern with Kaffe Fassett

One of the best parts of pattern design is exploring all the different versions and looks that can come from the same design. I know some people make something once and then they're done. I find it really fun to make something again and again to explore new looks. What about you? Do you make the same design more than once or is once enough?

I haven't joined a linky party in a long long time so thought I'd join in the fun again. I'm linking up with Cheryl's Favorite Finish Link Up because I finally have a finish. WaHoo! Go check out what some other quilters finished this month.

If you're interested in the Interweave pattern you can learn more about it here.

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April 15, 2019

What Was I Thinking?

What was I thinking? Seriously.

I don't usually prewash my fabric. I know there are many of you out there that do and I tip my hat to you for being that motivated. It's not a task for the feint of heart. Unless you diligently prewash every single thing you bring home each and every time you buy fabric. Otherwise it can be a big confusing mess.


Having heard stories of bleeding solids and ruined quilts, I decided to prewash the solids I plan to use for my BoulderMQG color study quilt. A project I have yet to start but I do still plan on making it so bear with me. The color study will return . . .


That led to deciding to prewash ALL my solids. I have several modern quilt ideas that will use all solids so why not be prepared?

Well . . . it took FOREVER. And technically I'm still not done as I haven't done the grays yet. I used color catchers in every load and there was very very very little bleeding. Seriously. That bit of aqua was the worst it ever got after loads of washing in all colors. Was it really worth all this effort?


The bigger problem I encountered was fading along the fold lines. My fabric is stored on open shelving but it never gets any direct sunlight so I was quite disappointed to see just how many cuts had faded along the fold. Nothing to be done about that but it does make me less likely to stash solids until I know how to avoid the fading. For now I'm storing them in tubs behind closed doors.

I have four tubs of freshly washed solids now. If only I had the motivation for those modern all solid quilts right now. Hopefully later this year . . .



At this point, I'm wondering why I got myself into this mess. And where does it end? What if I find other solids stashed away for a particular project like I did last week? Now I need to wash those because I've washed all the others. And what about projects that might mix solids with unwashed prints. Oy!!!

I'm not telling you this to start up a debate on prewashing. To each their own when it comes to that decision.

But I am curious about something. If you are a prewasher what is your process?

  • Do you wash everything first before adding it to your stash? 
  • Do you worry about mixing prewashed fabric with unwashed fabrics? 
  • Do you worry about using precuts (unwashed) with prewashed fabrics?
  • Do you have problems with fabrics fading along fold lines?

It feels like I've opened a HUGE can of worms and I am regretting my decisions. Where does it end?

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February 22, 2019

Into the Woods - Cascade Quilt Pattern

Green is one of my all time favorite colors. And leaves are one of my favorite design elements. I use leafy themes in my home. I take tons of leaf photographs. I use leafy fabric in my quilts. Today I'd like to share one of my leafy quilts with you.


Into the Woods was finished last year. I used the Cascade quilt pattern which is the most popular of my patterns. You can find it in my Etsy shop or the new Blueprint shop site (formerly Craftsy)

I wanted a woodsy feeling of light filtering through trees so I arranged the values with most of the lighter prints in the center.


Looking at the prints in black and white really helped with this.


Once the leafy prints were positioned, I added browns and greens to elude to the tree trunks. Again placing most of the darker values to the outside edges. An allover leafy quilting pattern finished it off.


Leftover bonus half square triangles from the front were pieced together into a long strip for the back. The green on the back isn't quite as bright/yellow as this photo shows.


I couldn't be happier with the final result. Into the Woods lives on the back of my couch in our family room and works beautifully with the other leafy decor in the room.

I'd like to leave you with a few recent photos of the original Cascade quilt featured in the pattern. The colors have always reminded me of Monet so what better place to take a few photos than the Monet Garden at Denver's Hudson Gardens.



And lastly, this photo taken a few years ago in the Colorado mountains which really shows off the true colors of the quilt.


One of these days I'd love to get a good photo of Cascade with a waterfall given the quilt name. A lovely tropical waterfall would be perfect but they're a little hard to come by here in Colorado.  : )

Happy quilting to you . . .

It's been ages since I've joined any linky parties so I'm linking up with Wendy and the Peacock Party and Kelly's Needle and Thread Thursday.

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