What Shade Are You with Carissa Englert Malone
Hello, everybody! I can hardly believe it’s my turn to post for the RJR What Shade are You? Blog Hop 2017! My name is Carissa Englert and you can find me and all my quilty escapades over on Instagram @treadletothemetal. You could say I’m a bit of a craft addict because I love knitting, spinning, quilting, dyeing, weaving, hand-sewing, and the list of new hobbies I’d like to learn just keeps on growing. I live in Arlington, Virginia with my two energetic little boys and my very craft-tolerant husband. On any given day, you can find me trying to squeeze as much quilting and creative time into whatever minutes or hours I manage to eke out of my schedule.
I first learned to sew when was younger but never considered sewing a passion until much more recently. After my mother-in-law taught me how to knit over 12 years ago, I immediately became obsessed with learning one hobby after another and haven’t stopped since. I joke that knitting was my gateway drug! But, in truth, it felt so right to nurture the creative part of my brain again after spending many years of college, grad school, and work barely utilizing my creativity. After having my first baby in 2010, when I was too tired to knit or spin (or do anything really), I would surf Flickr late at night (back in the pre-Instagram days) after my son was finally asleep, and it was there that I first glimpsed a world of quilting that I had never known existed–modern quilts! I was hooked, watching endless online quilting tutorials and re-learning how to thread my sewing machine. Once I did, I was ready to try my hand at making quilts. Fast forward seven years and, while my boys keep me on my toes in my Mom-role for most of each day, I yearn to be quilting all.the.time. Funnily enough, in my daydreams, I’ve planned, designed, or made hundreds of quilts but, in reality, I have only finished a dozen or so quilts over the years. Anyone else have that problem?
Color has always been an important part of my life, well before I realized it. I’ve been a color collector, or shall we say “enthusiast,” ever since elementary school when I would stuff little scraps of brightly colored tissue paper from art class into my pockets to bring home with me! Nowadays, with every new fiber- or textile-art I learn, I am still collecting and manipulating colors, both in my hands and in my head, whether it’s pulling fabrics, designing a quilt, spinning fiber into yarn, or threading a needle. The tactile nature of working with fabrics is unlike anything else; quilting marries a love of color with a love of texture, not to mention a love of practical, warm-and-comfy end products. So when Rachael at RJR contacted me about designing a quilt with their Cotton Supreme Solids, I absolutely jumped at the chance! Knowing I would have a blog date during my favorite season (Fall, duh!), I wanted to put together a unique Autumn-inspired palette since rich, vibrant colors are my jam.
After mulling over the amazing color cards for awhile, I narrowed it down to a set of 19 colors: a large dose from the red/pink/purple color families (dark burgundy, magentas, and lilac), a very beautiful, saturated Bronze (which just screams “Fall leaves”), some blues to accent, and a handful of neutrals to round it all out. In fact, I thought long and hard about just using ALL of the neutral shades in the CSS collection for a quilt because they are that good but ultimately decided that I love colors too much to pass on the chance to work with them in this quilt.
Here is the final list of colors I selected:
Sweet Pea (420)
Fairy Princess (237)
Pinot Noir (219)
Apricot Ice (387)
Notting Hill (309)
Meissen Blue (271)
In the Buff (320)
Antique Rose (418)
Once I had the drapey-soft, gorgeous colors in my hands, I had the panicked realization: “I have no real plan for making a quilt from this!” I normally enjoy the improvisation process and don’t usually pre-plan or draw out my quilts; however this wasn’t just any ol’ project, so I was a bit nervous! I had roughly decided on using a rectangular, drunkard’s-path-type, curvy block for which I had mocked up a template earlier this year. But that was the only seedling of an idea I had before I needed to start working.
Well, I figured, what better way than to set about designing a quilt backwards–just start sewing and figure the rest out later!?! I began cutting 5”x7” pieces of fabric, combined colors, two at a time, and made what seemed like an infinite number of blocks.
I used the convex cardboard template to gave me the curve but varied the positioning of the curve within the block, aiming for sort of modified-improv curves. I knew going in that the curves would be a little wonky and non-matching as each block varies slightly from the next.
I was about two-thirds of the way done making blocks and didn’t really like any of the layouts I had tested out when I had a eureka moment about how the final design might look. So I ended up making 288 blocks that were each 4”x6” finished. I assembled those blocks into 12 larger 24” squares that I could play around with. Each block primarily features either a dark-, medium-, or light-toned fabric and I love how the bright wavy lines swirl and colors intermingle haphazardly. The dominant shape in each block reminds me of cables and some of the fabrics stand out so wildly that I thought the name “Cable Crazy” seemed fitting. I originally assumed the quilt would turn out much more improvisational but, in the end, it turned out exactly how it wanted to be!
I wanted to do a pieced back for my quilt so I chose several different Cotton + Steel prints that I thought related nicely to some of my solid colors. I found some Pencil Stripes prints from the “Cozy” and “Fruit Dots” collections, as well as some bronze-y “Sprinkles,” an indigo “Add it Up”, and, finally, my favorite floral print from Rifle Paper Co.’s latest “Menagerie” collection. For the binding, I chose the Pencil Stripes in Grey Metallic from the “Cozy” collection and cut it on the bias. I randomly decided to scale up the curve shape featured on front of the quilt with the pink and aqua Pencil Stripes fabrics on the back.
The quilt finished at 72” x 96”, a hefty twin-size (which was a bit unwieldy when I went to photograph it… So a very special shout-out to all my quilt holders!), and I used Quilter’s Dream Wool batting. I quilted it on my home machine and ultimately chose a simple approach to balance out what ends up being a lot of crazy color and curvy piecing. I sewed single, straight lines through all the angled “rows” in each big block and let them be rather organic, not worrying about lines matching up to the adjacent blocks. Between the wool batting and the minimal quilting, it’s has sort of a lofty, snuggly comforter feel to it!
Alright, I hope you’ve enjoyed this write up of my project and process. Kudos to you if you’ve read along this far! Feel free to reach out on Instagram if you have any questions or want more info on how to create something similar. It was a total pleasure to work with Rachael and RJR Fabrics on this project, I can’t thank them enough for the opportunity! I would encourage anyone who loves color (so, all of you!) to incorporate some Cotton Supreme Solids into your stash and quilt projects. Also be sure to visit and follow our profiles over on Instagram, @treadletothemetal and @rjrfabrics , for an amazingly generous giveaway of the fabric bundle I used in “Cable Crazy!” And of course, in the meantime, Happy Sewing!
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