Elizabeth, or as she is better known, Libs Elliot, is a sewing technologist who fuses her sewing skills with code from a computer program to create original quilt designs. Her quilts are not only to be laid over a bed, but can also make alluring wall hangings with never two pieces of her work looking the same. When Libs is not generating geometric designs or sewing projects and blogging, she often catches an infectious travel bug and enjoys exhibiting her work and spending time with her family in Toronto.
We caught up with Libs to find out more about her design process, motivation and fondness for antiques.
You enjoy using traditional techniques and mixing them with modern technology, have you always been fascinated by this, how did it begin?
I grew up in a Georgian-style house full of 19th century European antiques because my father is an antiques dealer. So I always had an appreciation for the beauty of old-world, handcrafted things and I’m fascinated by how these objects hold meaning and last through generations. But there’s another part of me that also loves today’s modern design and aesthetic, geometry and clean lines.
I studied textiles in the ’90s then worked in the advertising industry where I had the opportunity to work with many creative and technically skilled people. It was during that time, 13 years ago, that I met Joshua Davis. His work as a designer and technologist has influenced so many people and I feel very fortunate to call him a friend. When we collaborated on the first quilt in 2012, I instantly knew it was a path I wanted to continue exploring. Using technology to design these quilts has satisfied my love for both traditional and modern.
You have been designing quilts since 2009, how has your design process developed over the years?
Initially, I was designing with coloured pencils and graph paper but it felt very restrictive to me. It would take hours or days to draft one satisfying design. Then I started using ‘processing’ – which is an open source programming language – to randomly generate designs. These designs are saved out as PDFs, which means I can easily use Adobe Illustrator to move shapes around and manipulate the designs further until I have a quilt composition I’m happy with. I can still spend hours designing, but in the end, I’ll have numerous potential quilt designs rather than just one. I love that with ‘processing’, I never know exactly what I’m going to get until it renders on the computer screen. There’s excitement in the unknown! As high-tech as all of that sounds, I do still do my quilt math on note pads and mark-up my layouts with pencil on paper.
A lot of your work uses ultramodern geometrics which look amazing hung up on walls. What do you do with all of your creations and where do you show them off?
I kept the very first ‘processing’ quilt and it now hangs in our sitting room. I am working towards doing some exhibits in various galleries and museums. Everything else I make is for sell on my website. So far, about half the buyers choose to hang them whilst the other half use them as blankets and throws. I like not knowing what will happen to the quilts. Hopefully, they all fulfill their destiny as modern heirlooms; to have beautiful journeys that hold personal stories and are passed down through generations.
Do you prefer the designing part of making a quilt or sewing it?
Both give me satisfaction in very different ways. I enjoy designing because it’s an opportunity to try out so many variables and see how far you can push things. Then figuring out how to build each quilt – the planning and math involved – is a great workout for my brain. But then, I also enjoy the methodical process of ironing, cutting, piecing blocks and quilting until a whole quilt is complete.
What future projects do you have planned, do you think you will move away from geometrics?
Right now, I’m focusing my efforts on making commissioned quilts and gaining exposure in the design industry by speaking about what I do. I would love to do a large-scale installation at some point and perhaps try utilizing non-traditional materials. I have plenty of ideas yet to be explored. I don’t think I’ll move away from geometrics anytime soon because they can be manipulated in so many ways and they’re the most aesthetically pleasing to me.
Libs shows us how to make a quilt her way with her step-by-step sewing tutorial.
This quilt is made up of 100 blocks. Each finished block will be 8” squared (or 8.5” unfinished).
This pattern makes a 80” x 80” square quilt. If you would like to make the quilt larger, simply add a border.
Just the standard quilting supplies are required: Ruler, marking tool of choice (vanishing marker, pencil, chalk), rotary cutter, fabric scissors, cutting mat, straight pins, quilting pins, thread and batting.
After you’ve selected your fabrics, clip a small piece of each and label them with their names. Keep this colour key handy or displayed where you are working as it will be a huge help when you are cutting and piecing.
It is also helpful to label your blocks with a scrap of paper as you make them or as you complete each block type. It’s handy to orient the block as per the layout and put your labels in the same corner each time. (e.g. Pin label to top left corner.)
This quilt uses 7 of the Liberty Lifestyle prints from both the Bloomsbury and Stile collections. You will require the following amounts:
Dance A – 1 Metre
Wells B – 2.25 Metres
Mackintosh C – 1 1/4 Metres
Newbury B – 1/2 Metre
Lowke B – 1 Metre
Herbert C – 1/2 Metre
Cranston A – 1/2 Metre
Solid Cotton of your Choice – 2 Metre
(NOTE: I used Robert Kaufman Cotton Linen Chambray in Indigo Washed)
Backing Fabric: 6 Metres
Binding Fabric: ½ Metre
Wadding: 2.5 Metres
1. Cut 8 7/8” Squares (total of 89 squares). These will be used for Blocks 1, 2 and 3.
Dark solid – 19
Wells B – 21
Dance A – 12
Mackintosh C – 16
Newbury B – 5
Lowke B – 8
Herbert C – 5
Cranston A – 3
2. Cut 4 7/8” Squares (total of 24 squares). These will be used for Blocks 4 & 5.
Dark solid – 5
Wells B – 12
Dance A – 2
Mackintosh C – 2
Newbury B -1
Lowke B – 1
Herbert C – 1
3. Cut 4 ½” Squares (total of 24 squares). These will be used for Block 2 & 3.
Dark solid – 14
Wells B – 3
Mackintosh C – 2
Lowke B – 3
Cranston A – C
4. Cut 8 ½” Squares (total of 5 squares). These are the ‘whole square’ blocks that we’ll call ‘Block 6’ type.
Dark solid – 1 – G3
Mackintosh C – C2, D8, H1
Lowke B – I3
NOTE: All piecing is done with a ¼” seam allowance.
Now that you have all our squares cut out, you’re going to start making Half Square Triangles (called HSTs) and building our blocks. There are 6 basic block layouts in this pattern.
MAKING HALF-SQUARE TRIANGLES FOR BLOCKS 1, 2 AND 3:
For Blocks 1, 2 and 3 you are going to use all your 8 7/8” squares up by using a quick method for making two HSTs (half-square triangles) at once. This table tells you which colors to pair together and how many of those pairs to make. You may find it helpful to pair all your squares before moving to the first step, just so they are all sorted and ready for marking and pinning. If you do this, be sure to put square pairs right sides together.
Using your marking tool of choice, on the wrong side of your 8 7/8” square, draw a diagonal line from corner to corner. (This will be your cutting line.) You only need to do this on one side of your two squares. Then mark another line that is ¼” away on each side of the center line, like this:
Pin your squares right sides together and sew along the two lines you marked on either side of the centre line.
Cut along the centre line. Open your pieces up and press seams open. Trim points off seams. You will now have two HSTs.
Continue with this process until you completed everything from the table.
You have now made all your Block 1s and completed the first step in making your Block 2s and Block 3s.
Label the block numbers according to the table.
After you have labeled your blocks, set all the Block 1s aside as those blocks are now complete and you’re ready for the next step to complete Blocks 2 and 3.
*NOTE: You will have a few extra blocks left when using this HST-making method. Hooray! Set them aside and use them for another project or for the backing of this one.
COMPLETING BLOCKS 2 & 3:
You are going to use the 4 ½” squares you cut earlier to make the small, corner triangle on the Block 2s.
Using the HSTs that you made, pull the HSTs that are listed below in the ‘HST Combo / Block#’ column.
Draw a diagonal line on the wrong side of all your 4 ½” squares
This table shows you which HST combo goes with which 4 ½” square, and which colour the 4 ½” square should be sewn to for BLOCK 2:
Pin the 4 ½” square, onto the larger block, right-sides together, making sure they are lined up evenly and that the diagonal line is parallel to the center seam.
Sew along the marked line shown above.
Trim the excess fabric at ¼” from the line you just sewed.
Fold triangle down and press seams open and you should now have a block that looks like block 2. (See block layouts)
Repeat until you have your fifteen Block 2s completed. Ensure they are labeled accordingly and set your Block 2s aside.
Follow the same steps to complete your four Block 3s. However, you will be sewing 2 4 ½ squares on opposite sides of each large HST. This table shows you which HST combo goes with which 4 ½” square, and which colour the 4 ½” square should be sewn to for Block 3.
When finished your block will look like this:
COMPLETING BLOCK 4:
Using some of your 4 7/8” squares and large triangles from your 8 7/8” squares, you will make blocks that look like block 4 (See block layouts)
Cut the following 4 7/8” Squares diagonally so that you have small triangles to work with:
Cut the following 8 7/8” Squares diagonally so that you have large triangles to work with:
Next, you will build the following blocks as per the photo steps below:
Lay out your pieces as per the combinations in the above table e.g.:
Sew the first small triangle to the centre small triangle and press seams open.
Next, sew the second triangle to the centre triangle and press seams to the side.
Sew the last small triangle to the centre triangle and press seams to the side.
Lastly, sew your pieced triangle half to the large triangle half and press seams open to have a finished block like this:
COMPLETING BLOCK 5:
There are only 3 of this block. Whew! We’re almost done block-building. You will require the following pieces for this block that you can make from your remaining pieces:
Lay your pieces out as per below:
Piece triangles together to make each square of the block. Iron the seams open.
Now piece your squares together in pairs and press seams open again.
Piece your halves together and press seams open. Complete all Block 5s and label them accordingly.
QUILT TOP ASSEMBLY
When assembling your blocks, consider the numbers run across from left to right and the letters run vertically from top to bottom. So that A1 is the top left block, A2 is to the right of A1, etc.
For block orientation, refer to the quilt photo in this tutorial and diagrams.
Assemble your blocks into rows. I find it easiest to piece them together in pairs (pressing seams open as you go). E.g.:
First: A1 to A2, A3 to A4, A5 to A6, A7 to A8, A9 to A10
Then: A1/2 to A3/4, A5/6 to A7/8, A 5/6/7/8 to A9/10
Then: A1-4 to A5-10
Row A is complete!
Assemble all your rows, from A to J, as per the layout below. Then begin sewing rows together in pairs (pressing seams open as you go). E.g.:
Row A to B, Row C to D, E to F, G to H and I to J.
Then work in pairs again: A/B to C/D. E/F to G/H to I/J.
Finally, sew the two halves together and now whole top has been assembled!
Follow Libs @LibsElliot on Twitter.
Credit: Long arm quilter, Tella Visconti
This week we’re looking back at the origins of another two of our famous floral prints, which are now firmly rooted in the Classics collection, Floribunda and Edenham.
Floribunda, which is Latin for ‘many-flowering’, is a delicate miniature floral trailing print which is not as old as you would initially think. Designed in 1982 by Allan Thomas, Floribunda was first printed on a base cloth called the Jubilee which was a woollen and cotton mix. It later became a Classic Tana lawn fabric in 1997 where it has remained ever since.
Edenham has also been part of the Classic Tana Lawn family since 1997 and was designed for Liberty in 1994 from inspiration taken from designs in the archive. The floral print is made up of eight colours, printed with the same amount of screens, and has so far has been printed in forty-five different colourways.
Edenham is one of the most recognisable Classical Liberty fabrics with a myriad of products adorned by this multi-coloured floral. Compact mirrors, handkerchiefs, ties and watches to name just a few, choose yourself something liberty print from our Edenham edit.
Floribunda (left), Edenham (right).
Easter crafts with children’s accessories designer, Lisa Foreman
Children’s toys and accessories designer, Lisa Foreman, has put together an easy-to-follow guide to create your very own Liberty print rabbit, complete with pompom tail. Featured in issue 25 of inspirational sewing projects magazine, Mollie Makes, this design is the perfect past time for even novice sewers. Find out more about Lisa and follow her step-by-step tutorial below to fashion an adorable bunny friend in time for Easter.
Lisa’s enthusiasm for crafting began with lessons from her grandmother and aunt when she was eight. Since then she’s graduated from making a wardrobe of clothes for Strawberry Shortcake dolls to creating soft toys and homewares for her website, www.elske.co.uk. Particularly inspired by retro colours and Scandinavian design, she developed a range of animals and appliquéd pinafores after making a cat called Patch for her daughter.
Step by step instructions
Here’s an easy-make wabbit with lots of character. Stitch with some leftover fabric or maybe that special piece you’ve been dying to use for a while. Change his expression by tweaking his mouth, whiskers, or the angle of his ears.
1. Use one fabric for the body and a coordinating fabric for the arms, legs and ears. Fold the fabrics right sides (RS) together and then cut out your pieces using these templates. Do the same for your felt pieces.
2. Make a small pom-pom for the rabbit’s tail. A pom-pom maker is really handy but you could also use two ring-shaped pieces of cardboard. Leave the ends of the securing piece of cotton long as they’re used to attach the tail to the fabric. For a denser pom-pom, make a slightly larger one than is needed, then trim it to size.
3. Attach the pom-pom to one of the body pieces by using a needle to pull through each end of thread and secure tightly with a knot.
4. Sew the eyes and nose onto the other body piece using two strands of black embroidery thread. Use back stitch and the same embroidery thread to create the mouth and whiskers. This could be done freehand, or use a soluble embroidery pen to trace the design, and then embroider over the lines. A spray of water will eradicate any traces of the line.
5. Use two strands of white embroidery thread to sew a cross in the centre of each eye. This brings the face to life and gives your rabbit character. Machine sew or back stitch the felt pieces to the front body and ear pieces.
6. Place each set of ear, arm and leg pieces RS together. Pin or tack, then machine sew, leaving roughly 0.5cm seam allowance. Zig-zag stitch around each leg and arm to prevent fraying – remember to leave a gap for stuffing later on.
7. Turn each ear, arm and leg RS out (a chopstick, knitting needle or similar pointy tool is really helpful here) then press, turning the raw edges of the holes in neatly. Pressing makes it much easier to sew up the holes later on.
8. At the base of each ear, fold the outside edges into the centre and secure both sides together with a stitch (don’t worry, this will be removed later).
9. Arrange and pin the ears, arms and legs onto the front body piece, and tack into place. This stops the pieces from having a will of their own and moving when you sew the body pieces together.
10. Pin the body pieces, RS together, and machine sew leaving a 0.5cm seam allowance. Just like before when you were sewing the limbs together, make sure you leave a gap for both turning and stuffing. Then zig-zag stitch around the edge to prevent fraying, and trim any excess.
11. Turn RS out and cut away the tacking stitch on the ears.
12. Fill the arms, legs and body tightly with stuffing (your chopstick or knitting needle will come in handy again). Then fold the raw edges in and sew the holes up using blind stitch. Say hello to your finished rabbit!
Judith Dahmen works in the financial sector and crunches numbers for a living, but her real passion lies in sewing and crafting. Her eye for detail and precision, reflected excellently in her sewing work, helps her create stunning quilts, cushions and bags which she shares on her blog Needles and Lemons - the name of which was suggested by a friend after Judith’s fondness for lemon tarts. We caught up with Judith to pick up a few of her photography tips and her easy-to-follow, pretty pincushion tutorial.
Tell us a little about your background and when you started to sew?
From an early age I knitted; my mother taught me how to knit and you could always find me working on a jumper. I could not – and still can’t – simply sit in front of the television or go on a long train journey without having some needlework in my hands.
Then, as a teenager, I got into sewing and for a while made my own clothes. I fancied becoming a fashion designer, however this was difficult to realize as I lived in very rural surroundings. I gave up making my clothes eventually, partly because I had a job and it was too time consuming but mostly because it sort of stressed me out. Knitting has always been more relaxing.
I grew up in Germany close to the borders of Belgium and Luxembourg and one summer I came to the UK for a holiday. and saw a quilt in a craft shop in St. Ives in Cornwall, and I absolutely fell in love with it. I couldn’t afford to buy it but decided there and then that I would one day make a quilt. Sadly it took me until 2010 to realise this plan. In April of that year, I went to the quilt exhibition at the V&A museum and took that opportunity to make my first quilt. Little did I know that this was going to turn into an obsession. I love everything about quilts; the buying and feeling of the fabric, the planning, the cutting, the sewing, and the quilting itself, I haven’t looked back since.
Being a member of the London Modern Quilt Guild, is this where you get a lot of your inspiration?
I get my inspiration from all over the place, and mostly from everyday life. This can be a tile pattern in the front yard of a house or in the tube station, a brick pattern on a wall to a modern painting, and of course some of the work from my fellow members of the London Modern Quilt Guilt. The Internet is also a great source of inspiration.
Photography is a great love of yours and you taught at last year’s Fat Quarterly sewing retreat, teaching everyone tips and tricks on how to take the best photograph. How did you find the experience and can you share anything with us today?
I love teaching and it was a particular pleasure to have had so many eager listeners at the retreat. Photography is very important to me and I am a stickler for a well composed and well shot image. The best tip I can give people who want to photograph their craft is to always do it during daylight hours, preferably outside but not in bright sun light. A light grey sky is a photographer’s friend! Oh and use a normal camera (SLR or point-and-shoot) and not a camera phone, as their lenses are not as good.
Do you have any favourite techniques when sewing projects, and what are your plans for future projects?
I don’t have any favourite techniques as such, but perhaps my favourite way of quilting is straight-line quilting and circular quilting.
I have many projects in the pipeline this year, and quite a few that involve Liberty’s fabric in fact! Issue 6, 7 and 8 of the new magazine ‘Love Patchwork and Quilting’ will have detailed tutorials on small to medium size projects with Liberty fabric. I have had a quilt in the magazine already and am planning a few more for this year.
Other than that I teach quilting in two fabric shops across London (Village Haberdashery in West Hampstead, and Tikki in Kew) and would like to increase this as I absolutely love it.
Liberty Print Pin Cushion Sewing Project
What you need:
Assorted patterned Liberty fabric strips 5-6” long/1” inch wide
4 solid fabric strips (5-6” long/1” wide)
Fabric square 5-6” for the backing of the pin cushion
Your preferred filling (toy filling or rice)
Cut out 4 paper squares of 3×3 ”
Place your solid fabric strip across the diagonal of the first fabric square. I use a little glue to keep it in place.
Place your first patterned fabric, right side down, on top of the solid strip and sew with a ¼” seam allowance along the aligned edge right through the paper. It is very important that you reduce the stitch length to 1.5 for this as it creates a perforation on the paper, which helps to tear it off later.
Then iron open. You could finger press instead of ironing but ironing does produce the more accurate result.
Repeat the process with the second strip and keep doing so until you have the entire paper square covered.
Flip the square over and trim the excess fabric along the paper edges.
Repeat for the other 3 squares and arrange them so that the solid strips form a square within the square and sew the pieces together with the paper still attached. Once sewn together peel the paper off.
To finish the pincushion put the fabric square for the backing right sides together with the front and sew all around with a ¼ “ seam allowance (with normal stitch length) leaving a small opening in the middle of one side. Clip the corners, turn around, poke out the corners with a pointy non-sharp object such as a chopstick and fill the cushion with your preferred filling. I use rice mixed with lavender because I like my pincushion to be heavy and above all fragrant! The last step is to close the opening with a few hand stitches.
The method can be used for any size block you wish to make and would look great as a 9” block repeated for a quilt.
Follow Judith @needlesandlemon on Twitter.
Share your Liberty print projects with us on Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest by using #SewLiberty.
Penny Layman holds two things very close to her heart: sewing projects and adventure journeys. In fact, she loves both of these activities so much, that she decided to start a blog about them, called Sew Take a Hike. Penny has been a blogger since 2007 and has tried her hand at everything from papercrafting, knitting and quilt-alongs, to kayaking and camping.
We caught up with the energetic crafter to find out what inspires her to do more and make more with her free time.
Tell us about yourself and what makes you tick?
I live in Colorado with my husband, and moving here from Kansas was one of the best decisions we’ve ever made. Getting outdoors plays a big part in keeping me sane – there’s just nothing like it. The smell of rain or pine trees can easily bring me to tears! If I go through a spell of being cooped up indoors, it zaps me with energy. Besides getting outdoors, I love to sew. My home is full of handmade projects that I use on a daily basis. There’s nothing better!
Sewing has a huge presence in the blogging community, do you have any favourite bloggers whose work really inspires you?
Absolutely! There are so many! I love Kerry’s (from VeryKerryBerry) for her use of fabric and preciseness, and Ayumi from Pink Penguin’s design sense. Anna from Noodle Head’s minimalistic approach always catches my eye. Lori from Bee in my Bonnet’s work is fabulous, and I love Faith from Fresh Lemon Quilts’ geometric paper piecing designs and her use of solids. Then of course there’s Sonja from Artisania, whose artwork, photos and paper piecing designs are out of this world. Really, I could go on and on, there is so much inspiration out there!
Have you worked on a project which has sentimental meaning to it?
I have to say, the quilt I designed after Lauri Wisbrun, a surface and textile designer ( I love her!), sent me some of her Brr! fabric. I made the quilt for my Mum for Mother’s day two years ago. Two weeks later, she was sadly diagnosed with leukaemia and she took this quilt to the hospital with her every time she had to go. When she passed away last year, I gave the blanket to my Aunt, who was my Mum’s best friend and was by her side daily.
How would you describe your style of work?
I consider myself a vintage modern quilter. I love charming old styles, but like to add a bit of modern whimsy when I sew. I also like to incorporate the quirky and the odd, things that may be considered edgy. I tend to stay away from creating things that have been “overdone”, unless it’s something that I can use often. I love to incorporate vintage and something recycled into what I sew – whether in my design, or an actual vintage element. Most of the things I create have a purpose or use. I very rarely create something just for the ‘cute’ factor. Good or bad, I often feel as if I march to the beat of a different drum!
What future projects and collaborations do you have planned for the future?
It’s so hard to say what the future holds! I have a chapter in Lucky Spool’s upcoming book, ‘Essential Guide to Modern Quilt Making’ that will be out this spring/summer. Then this coming winter, keep your eyes peeled for a paper piecing book I wrote with Interweave. I’m also contributing to a book that will be out later this year, but I’m not at liberty to say much about it yet!
In addition, I have a couple of quilting projects planned for this summer, based on two of my blocks out the ‘Essential Guide to Modern Quilt Making’ book. One is a geometric design called “canola” and the other is a block of a fedora hat. Both are going to be stunning! Lastly, Kerry Green and I are partners in Sew-Ichigo and I’m sure we will be coming out with some new designs and patterns there as well.
Does your love for the outdoors influence your projects?
It does, but maybe not in the way you might think. Firstly, I don’t feel the urge to create designs solely based on things I see when I’m enjoying the outdoors, but certain colour combos or patterns may catch my eye when I’m out and about, and I will usually take a photo or write it down for future use. As far as creating a mountain or other outdoor scene as a design, not so much. Although, I do have a project I’m slowly designing blocks for that will eventually be an outdoor quilt. Secondly, I have an innate need to get outdoors on a regular basis which fills a tank inside me that helps to keep me creative. If I don’t engage in an outdoor activity for a while and that tank gets low or empty, it stifles my creativity and motivation. So yes, my love of the outdoors definitely influences my creativity and what I sew.
Follow Penny @sewtakeahike on Twitter.