Hello and welcome to the third installment of The Wild Sweet Pea's quilt pattern review series, where I'm sharing with you the free Effort + Ease pattern by Sewn Handmade. This is a throw quilt pattern with a pretty quick finish, using paper piecing and strip piecing techniques. The pattern is meant to showcase a gradient-- you can see a few examples of this quilt on instagram with #effortandeasequilt, or scroll down to see my take on this pattern. Read on to the bottom of this article for some extra tips on how to wrap up your last-minute quarterly taxes; and to hear about upcoming events + releases.
About once a month these days, I pattern test for a fellow quilter, or simply make a quilt following another quilter's pattern. For me, this is a creative reset. I don't know if it's like this for all textile designers, but the process of designing a quilt and constructing it, when it's your original idea, can be as exhausting as it is rewarding. Don't get me wrong-- I adore the whole design process, from the initial sketch to sewing on the binding at the very end to making pattern corrections, really, all of it. (Well, except for basting. There's no way that's ever any fun). There's a lot of pressure that goes into making original quilts, and that pressure can sometimes suck the fun right out of it. So in between designing quilts of my own, I like to take it easy for a few weeks and follow someone else's pattern.
Not only is this a creative reset for me, but it's an opportunity to support other makers through pattern testing or buying their pattern, and giving them publicity when I share the finished product. Because at the end of the day, my contributions to the quilting and fiber-textile arts worlds are small; and my purpose is more than anything, to continue fostering this COMMUNITY and to fight for textile arts' place in our culture. Quilting has always been a way to seek and grow a thriving community of supportive, gifted women.
Making other designer's patterns is one way that I like to contribute to the culture. And I believe that still applies to modern quilting and the internet age, in a nuanced way. While we may not be sewing all together like our ancestors did, we've still got to support each other. We are not islands. I believe that we can promote other people's work alongside our own to lift each other up, so long as I'm using other designer's patterns and writing my own, I'm going to try my darndest to make it about community and not my own bottom line.
To read about Amy's pattern in her own words, click here or on the image below.
That being said, I'm not comfortable with making a profit from someone else's pattern, even if they say it's okay. So I donate half of the proceeds of all quilts made from another designer's pattern. Each quilt's proceeds are donated to a non-profit organization tied to the environment or women's rights; depending on the inspiration behind my version of the quilt. In 2018, I have been able to donate to Planned Parenthood and Mohave Desert Land Trust.
With the Effort + Ease Quilt, I plan on donating half of the proceeds to Badlands Natural History Association. The BNHA assists the national park with education and interpretive programs. As a certified interpretive guide, this is important to me... especially with a current federal administration that is hellbent on destroying our parks and natural resources, the non-profits fighting for their protection can use all the help they can get.
These are a few of the inspiration photos that I had saved for this quilt! I really wanted to reflect the beige, brown and pink layers.
Oh, and before I forget to tell you... You can receive this pattern for FREE simply by signing up for Sewn Handmade's newsletter. Go do that right now!
Oh, and by the way, if you sign up for my newsletter, you'll also receive a free modern beginner friendly quilt pattern in .pdf format! If you would prefer a fancy high-quality printed copy, click the link below to purchase directly from the print company I use for only $3.60.
Okay, back to the pattern review...
This pattern is a combination of lively, easy, crisp strip piecing (the "ease") mixed with a few rows of paper pieced diamonds (the effort).
My color palette and fabric choices were heavily influenced by the canyon landscape of Badlands National Park. I've been curating a fabric selection to do something that reminds me of the gorgeous terrain for awhile, and once I saw Amy's effort + ease quilt, I knew I had found the perfect pattern to reflect my inspiration.
I already shared a lot about this on instagram (see images below), but I wanted this quilt to be an amalgamation of fabrics from different sources, with different textures and histories. Kind of like the way sediment builds over time, forming distinct layers each with a distinct geologic history, different than the one above or below it.
I've been feeling a pull to conduct business in a more sustainable manner, as much as possible. The textile industry is a huge waste producer, to the point that it makes me sick to my stomach to think about. Yes, I still buy new fabric, but I've been making an effort to do this selectively. Turns out, this has helped my budget, too. I've found that a great way to find new fabric at a bargain price is to shop the hashtag #thegreatfabricdestash on instagram. It takes advantage of the stereotype (and truth) that a lot of quilters (myself included sometimes) hoard fabric, buy fabric they don't need, outgrow a style of fabric and won't use it, etc. That's how I was able to find several yards of fabric from Robert Kaufman x Cotton & Flax's Arroyo collection, one pattern of which I used in this quilt and in some zipper pouches.
Don't get me wrong. Quilts made entirely of brand new fabric from one collection are outstanding. They are crisp, easier to piece, and on trend. However, blending all types of fabric from a curated, signature color palette (have you noticed mine?) is one way to reduce your quilting carbon footprint.
Fortunately, there are many thrift stores near me, and quilt shops with excellent remnant bins. There's also a wealth of online shops focused on textile salvage and upcycling fabric with natural dye, you just have to look.
For the first time, I incorporated into a quilt fabric that I dyed myself, from kitchen scraps. I chose to use the avocado dyed cotton-linen blend. The foundation fabric was unbleached, so it still had some speckles in it, that remained after the avocado dye process. It's one of my favorite fabrics, ever.
If you want to learn more about my dye process, read last week's post: Integrating Natural Living into a Creative Business: Part Two, Natural Dyes
To purchase naturally dyed fabrics and coordinate bundles to incorporate into your own gradient quilt, visit my online shop.
I really felt emotionally connected to this process of curating a selection that goes together, yet altogether, is probably more well-traveled than I am. Although, that isn't saying much, because I've never left the Pacific Northwest... but you get the point.
This quilt comes together super easily. The directions are straightforward, clear, and the design of the pattern makes all of the directions easy to follow. 10/10 would make again. Honestly, I'm surprised this is Amy's first official quilt pattern, because it was easier to follow than some patterns by well-known quilters.
The Effort + Ease quilt pattern is true to its name. The strip piecing comes together so easily, especially if you've arranged everything on a design wall like the pattern recommends. Even the paper piecing is pretty easy. I found that the process goes very quickly if you batch task. Park your iron next to your sewing machine, chain piece, and iron as you go... then trim all of the blocks in one session.
Below is a guide to trimming the diamond blocks after you've pieced them together. This was the only step I found to be missing from the pattern. This is pretty impressive, for a free pattern. Many free patterns out there are exactly the quality you'd expect for free, if you catch my drift. I've urged Amy of Sewn Handmade several times to charge for this pattern, so you better go grab this pattern while it's still free!
Piecing the entire top together only took an hour or so after all of the blocks were completed and placed in order on my design wall. Talk about a quick finish!
The batting is a Pellon Cotton/Polyester 80/20 blend. I used Dritz spray basting to hold the quilt together, and I used a beige jersey knit thrifted flat sheet as the backing. The goodwill near me actually frequently has overstock from Target, so the sheet was brand new, still in its original packaging. I had never quilted with jersey before, and I'm thrilled at the result. It is so soft and cuddly.
Since this quilt has been all about texture, I chose a method of topstitching that would add even more texture. I used mettler thread to channel stitch every 3/4 of an inch. After washing, this quilt has become so crinkly and cozy, which is exactly what I was going for!
To bind the quilt, I used 2.25" french fold binding that I had made from a thrifted peachy-pink linen. I machine stitched the binding on, for added durability.
This pattern is great if you want a fun weekend project, to make an easy and gorgeous housewarming gift, or to celebrate the arrival of a brand new human. After washing, this quilt is a good lap size or toddler bed size.
This quilt is now available for purchase here. Remember, half of the proceeds go to Badlands Natural History Association.
Thinking of picking up quilting?
Craftsy, the online crafty resource with AMAZING, fun, in-depth classes, is running a 7-day free trial special. Beyond the basics of quilting and embroidery that were taught to me at a young age, Craftsy has been my number one source of new creative knowledge. My favorite class is Suzy Quilt's Sew Mojo video course.
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Just a reminder:
If you're self-employed, quarterly taxes are due this friday, June 15. When I first started working for myself on this small business of mine, having to track expenses and pay taxes was COMPLETELY overwhelming, to say the least. Last fall, I waited until the last minute to file my quarterly income taxes, and I was scrambling to find some help because I had NO idea what I was doing, and all the local accountants and bookkeepers were 100% booked and totally out of my price range, even if I could manage to get an appointment. That's when I discovered Intuit Quickbooks Self-Employed. It saved me in a tight crunch, absolutely. And even now that I don't procrastinate on my taxes, I still rely on this program. It's affordable, user friendly, intuitive, and did I mention, EASY TO USE. There's nothing complicated about it. The service walks me through how to track mileage, track expenses and income, categorize them, and a whole lot more.
Click here for 50% off your membership, making the service only $5 a month. That's like two coffees. You can't afford NOT to take me up on this offer! Y'all, I would happily pay a way higher rate (although I'm so glad I don't have to!). If you're scrambling to sort through all your receipts by Friday, sign up for Intuit Quickbooks self-employed and you'll be done in an hour. Easy-peasy, lemon squeezy or whatever.
In a few weeks, I will be releasing my first pattern in a magazine! Make sure to subscribe to Make Modern so you get this rad modern quilt pattern straight to your inbox the day it comes out. It's my favorite magazine to scroll through on my tablet when I'm in need of some quilty inspiration. If you subscribe using the link on the banner below (or anywhere on my site) I'll receive a small kickback, just like if you were to buy the pattern directly from me!
Other upcoming happenings:
JULY 15 Trunk Show at Industrie Redux in downtown Olympia. I will be selling zipper pouches, embroidered wall hangings, upcycled embroidered clothing, and quilts. I will even have a basket of freebies to give out (quantities limited).
AUGUST 10 My turn on the "What Shade are You" blog hop by RJR fabrics, accompanied by a new pattern release.
AUGUST + SEPTEMBER Artist Showcase at The Market Street Bakery in downtown Chehalis.
This post contains affiliate links. This means that if you buy something I link to, I'll earn a small commission, at no extra cost to you. This merely helps me keep the lights on, so to speak, and of COURSE I only recommend products and services that I truly adore.
PS there won't be a blog post next week because I will be on a much-needed vacation!