Quilt Alliance Challenge

After thinking I would use Sunbonnet Sue as my inspiration,

Fabric scraps


I did a total about-face and chose a scrap quilt instead.  I LOVE scrap quilts, and since I certainly HAVE a lot of scraps, it all works out :-)

Here’s the process for this year’s Quilt Alliance donation quilt.  I wanted to use tiny scraps and have one tiny star.  I used Electric Quilt (EQ7) to print a foundation pattern for a star that finishes about 3″ square.  The first one I made, using the brand of fabric we’ve all

depended on for solids, was just a little off.  Turns out the “beefy” thick texture of that fabric doesn’t lend itself well to tiny, tiny points (the center square here is 1/2″ x 1/2″).  So I re-generated the foundation pattern and, as often happens, decided on a little design change at the same time.  Then I made the star using Moda Bella black, which is a lighter weight cloth that folded more crisply in such a small space.

For the rest of the quilt I pulled out my zippy-colored Michael Miller cotton couture scraps and just sewed them together as I took them out of the box.  Eventually I had to cut a few more “scraps” to finish the top.  There were so very MANY seams that I was glad of the lighter weight of this cloth, almost like voile.  It took many days to do this, quite a bit longer than I had expected for a 16″ x 16″ quilt!  The smallest pieces finish about 1/4″ squares or triangles!

scrap quilt

Quilt Alliance Challenge 2014

So here it is!  I would love to count the pieces, but I don’t think I have the energy left to do it!  Besides, who wants to know a thing like that? ;-)

Stash smash: 8 inch squares

I’m slowly working my way through my stash, and currently my focus is on “unfinished projects”.  There seem to be a lot of them ;-)

8" squares

8″ Squares

I found this stack of 8″ squares that was made as the start of a quilt a while back.  I didn’t like the pattern once I got started on it, so here’s this stack with no purpose.  Not my favorite fabrics is part of the problem, I think.

Of course, SOMEBODY sure would like these fabrics, so I had options:

1.  Try to give them to friends.  But those friends probably would try to give me some of their stash in return!

2.  Put them in the donation pile.  Several problems with that idea; never mind!

3.  Make them into something.  Since I make a fair number of donation quilts for Ronald McDonald House, that seemed like the best bet.

So I paired lights with darks and cut each pair into 3 unequal strips.  I did the cuts at random intervals, but parallel to the sides to keep the blocks from getting too wonky.  Then I traded the center strips and sewed the strips back together to make a set of 2 blocks.

I stacked the sets again and cut them at irregular intervals, switched the middle strip again, and re-assembled them into irregular 9-patch blocks:

Now they are a donation quilt top for Ronald McDonald House, and this one will be suitable for an older child, since the fabrics aren’t juvenile novelty prints.  Success!  Another stack gone!  And another donation quilt done!

I’m taking part in “Aunt Marti’s” UFO challenge so to finish 12 UFOs in 2014.  It might help you get your UFOs done, too.  Click HERE for the link to the original post where she tells you how to do it.

nine patch quilt

Nine Patch Quilt

Hope you have a good week.  Maybe some of your leftovers would make good donation quilts, too!





Find Your Inner Designer – Part 1

Some of my readers have asked about how I design quilts, so I’ve decided to do a monthly series of posts to lead you to design your own original quilts. I know there are several courses and lectures out there on “principles” of modern quilt design, but this series is about a practical approach.  So here is Part 1: Start by tweaking a design you already like.

Start with a traditional-style pattern you want to make.  By traditional-style, I mean one with multiple similar blocks, probably arranged in a grid.  Here’s my example, which really is more of a modern design because the blocks are improvisationally cut, but it has the blocks in a grid

modern pieced quilt

I saw this quilt at the house where we have retreats

Now experiment, tweaking this pattern (or a similar one) 3 different ways:

1. Change the size of the blocks. A quilt made up of 20 blocks each 10″x 10″ will look quite different from a quilt of the same size made up of 80 blocks 5″ x 5″.

You can go up or down in size, but change the size of the blocks. If the math gives you trouble, either get help from a friend who LOVED algebra in high school, or use a computer program like Electric Quilt to re-draw the blocks in the size you want and give you instructions for cutting them. If you want to make the blocks very small, consider paper piecing: Just draw your paper base and you don’t need any math because the pieces you use to construct the block on the paper base aren’t cut exactly to size.

2. Change the size of just one (or a few) block(s):

modern quilt design

Substitute one large block for 4 of the small ones!

Either replace one block with 4 little blocks 1/4 the size of the usual, or replace 4 regular blocks with one big one. Either tweak makes the overall quilt design more interesting.

Pieced quilt

Substitute 4 little blocks for one large one–or for several large ones!

3. Add (or subtract) a little: Instead of making the usual grid of blocks, add a strip or a row of blocks to each row to make some of the grid offset. I like to put the insert at a different place in each row.

modern quilt design

Insets make the blocks move out of line in some places, adding interest

Another option is to remove the sashing and/or border(s) from a quilt, or to insert an extra border.

You don’t have to sew any of your designs unless you want to; just draw them out on graph paper (or your computer program), and color them if you like. The drawing counts as a design! And don’t worry that modifying somebody else’s design isn’t “original”. You have to start somewhere, just like the designer of your pattern did!

Now, go try some of this! I like to make baby quilts to try out new designs or techniques—not too much commitment in time and materials, but I learn a lot. And watch for the next post in this series; I’m going to do a design post the first Sunday of each month for a while.

Pop-up Show

quilt show

Asheville Modern Quilt Guild Show

Here are some pictures from the Asheville Modern Quilt Guild’s Pop-up Quilt Show, held Sunday, March 16 at the Folk Art Center on the Blue Ridge Parkway.  We had good attendance and gained several new members!  As you can see, we had some members demonstrating quilt making, as well.  If you missed it, the Guild will have a show at the Handmade in America gallery in Asheville from mid-May through mid-August.  Meanwhile, here are some of our members and their quilts:

First, here’s Diana Kantor with her amazing table runner.  It has 3-D folded flowers and leaves in addition to that beautiful quilted design in the center!

quilted table runner

Diana Kantor

And here’s Erica Kilgo with her very fun Bricks and Bubbles quilt:

modern quilt

Erica Kilgo

Here’s Amy Anderson with three of her beautiful quilts:

modern quilts

Amy Anderson

Here is Connie Brown with some of her amazing art quilts:

art quilts

Connie Brown

Emily and Miriam Coffey weren’t able to be there, so I don’t have their pictures, but here is one of their beautiful quilts:

modern quilt

Emily and Miriam Coffey’s quilt

And of course we had our Opportunity Quilt on display so people could take an interest and maybe even buy tickets:

modern quilt

Asheville Modern Quilt Guild Opportunity Quilt

Hopefully you’ve found these quilts inspiring.  If you’re interested in joining our guild, here is a link to our Facebook page.

Next week I’m starting a series on designing your own quilts.

Pantone Challenge–Go Vote!!!

The online Pantone Challenge is accepting Reader’s Choice votes now.

Go HERE to vote for your favorite quilt in each of the 3 categories:

  • Quilts (full size)
  • Mini quilts
  • Just the Top (entries that aren’t quilted yet)

You have to scroll down quite a ways to get to the entries.  Pick one favorite in each category.  Vote by clicking the heart in the upper right hand corner.

Mine is #36 in the second category, Mini Quilts.  So many fun quilts to look at!

Applique quilt

Radiating Orchid mini-quilt for the Radiant Orchid Challenge, 15″ x 15″

Pantone Challenge

You’re getting this blog early because of the deadline for the Pantone Challenge.  I’ll be back to my regular schedule on Sunday, March 30.

The Quilt Alliance’s TWENTY challenge was so much fun last year that when I heard about the Pantone Radiant Orchid Challenge I decided to enter

Applique quilt

Radiating Orchid mini-quilt for the Radiant Orchid Challenge, 15″ x 15″

This challenge is via link-up with one of the two sponsoring blogs, On the Windy Side and Play Crafts.  You can go to either blog to see the other entries and get details.

Luckily I had a pretty orchid color FQ (fat quarter) in a collection of modern solids (came from my smart son-in-law at Christmas!).  And I took a piping class with Susan K Cleveland a few years ago where I learned to make little bitty piping.  I’d already gotten the Alison Glass green fabric to go with the modern solids, so I was ready to roll!

Using piping to help turn under the edge is one of my favorite ways to applique circles, and I wanted a little extra definition for the edges.  I had to make templates (yikes!) to cut the green and, naturally, the print turned out to be directional so I had to be careful how I cut it (double yikes!).

As always, I learned several things making this project.  Using templates wasn’t so bad; I made them from freezer paper & ironed them onto the fabric for cutting.  And Susan’s method for joining the ends of the piping worked perfectly so you can’t tell where it begins and ends as it circles the shapes.  So, it was fun and now it’s done!  ;-)  Have a good week!

3 Lessons from an Older Quilt

I recently got to borrow a quilt I made for our daughter when she left for college 12 years ago, and I learned several things from looking it over.

patchwork quilt

The Cheerful Child Quilt

First, it was much softer than when I made it.  This is notable because when I gave it to her, she wondered, “When will it be soft like Granny’s?”  Many of the quilts she grew up with were made by my grandmother (her great-grandmother).  Those quilts, made from the 1930s through the 1950s, were soft by the time our daughter slept under them in the 1990s.  She was happy to get the quilt but was disappointed with the stiffness of new fabric.  Having learned that lesson, I subsequently backed quilts for her with minky, which is very soft from Day 1.

patchwork quilt

“Punch bugs” were popular cars when our daughter was in high school

Second, some fabrics have held up better than others, and the price of the fabric does NOT seem to be as important as other factors.  Pastels have not held their brightness well over time, and “sparkles” on some of the fabrics have worn off.  On the other hand, the car and child prints in the photo at left were inexpensive novelty prints but have held up well.

Third, and most gratifying, my work has kept the quilt intact.  There are no ripped seams, loose binding, or quilting that has come undone.  I pieced this quilt on my old faithful Bernina and quilted free-motion stars on the same machine.  (That’s when I learned that sending a quilt to a longarm quilter is worth every penny–my shoulders ached for days!)  I backed it with a sheet, which was my practice for years despite all the dire threats that sheets are inappropriate for quilt backing, and that worked out fine.

My quilting style has changed a lot since I made this quilt, and I certainly am much more technically adept now.  It was great to see that an earlier quilt has survived our daughter’s college and young adulthood intact, even if it isn’t as bright as it once was.

Stick your neck out with me!

New-Sue-2OK, folks, you may recall that I made a donation quilt for the Quilt Alliance last year BEFORE I realized that most of the other quilters were WAY better known than I am!  It turned out pretty well, because the ladies who won first place were local and not all that famous (at least until they won)!  And my quilt did sell in the auction, so it’s all good.

IT’S THAT TIME AGAIN!  The Quilt Alliance has just announced the 2014 contest, and I hope you’ll consider making a quilt for them.  You can see the contest announcement and a link to the rules on the Quilt Alliance website. (You can see last year’s donation quilts here–mine is #29 if you’re interested.)  The theme this year is “Inspired by” and your entry must be inspired by one of the quilts in the Alliance’s Quilt Index or their Quilters’ S.O.S.- Save Our Stories (Q.S.O.S.) project.

I already have my project in mind and here’s a hint:  it’s based on Sunbonnet Sue.  I searched the QSOS project files for Asheville, since that’s the nearest town of any size, and one of the first quilts I saw was a Sunbonnet Sue–you can see it if you click the link but I think it would be a copyright violation for me to reproduce it here.  I was immediately drawn to it because I have a Sunbonnet Sue quilt made by my Grandmother (Mary Lee Ownbey Kimsey, who lived in Asheville) and it hangs in my studio much of the time.

I also made Eleanor Burns’ Sunbonnet Sue and Overall Sam a few years ago; that is the quilt at the top of this post.  The contest quilt is going to be “inspired by” Sunbonnet Sue, but you’d have to know Sue to “get it”.  You’ll see later!

Sunbonnet Sue

Sunbonnet Sue by my Grandmother

Meanwhile, come on:  STICK OUT YOUR NECK WITH ME!  Even if you’ve never entered a contest, I’m pretty sure you regularly make donation quilts.  Design a donation quilt and send it in to the Quilt Alliance Contest. Here are the TOP 3 REASONS to make a quilt for this contest:

1.  DO SOMETHING NEW!  TAKE A RISK!  If I can do it, you can do it.

2.  You’ll have to spend time browsing the Quilt Index or the Q.S.O.S.–either could be hours of fun!

3.  It’s just a LITTLE quilt–16 x 16 this year!  Just do it!  Here’s the link again: Quilt Alliance

My friend is famous!

One of my quilting buddies dared to submit her quilt to the AQS Paducah show and IT WAS ACCEPTED!  I think that’s pretty special (even if she isn’t really famous yet).  Here’s the quilt:

applique storybook quilt

Jerri’s quilt, which she calls “Tell Me A Story”

And here is a picture of Jerri Szlizewski, who made the quilt:

head shot of Jerri

Jerri Szlizewski

.The pattern is “Once Upon a Time” by Cheryl Almgren Taylor, who graciously gave Jerri permission to enter the quilt in AQS shows.  Here’s a close-up of the work on the quilt:

Jerri's quilt close-up

Close-up of Jerri’s quilt

Jerri is very patient when it comes to her quilting and does beautiful applique as well as lovely pieced quilts that some of us would consider tedious ;-)  I’m so happy for her to have a quilt in this prestigious show!  The quilt will be shown at AQS in Lancaster, PA as well, so if you live near either Lancaster or Paducah you’ll have a chance to see it in person.

A Few Internet Ideas

A good while back I listed what I thought were some helpful hints for quilters, but there were too many to fit into a post of the length I like.  So, here are a few more, these related to the internet:

Colors:  If you want some new ideas about colors and palates, subscribe to Design Seeds (Design-Seeds.com) to get free palates delivered to your mailbox every day.  It’s a great inspiration!  Here’s an example of the type of thing they send every day:

street hues

Keep track of internet ideas:  I use Pinterest (www.pinterest.com) to keep track of things I find on the internet, from quilts I want to see again to inspiration and color trends. If you like, you can go to my page (http://www.pinterest.com/mjp28723) and get an idea of how it works by browsing my boards.  Here’s a picture of the front page of one of my boards:

Quilt Ideas

Quilt Ideas / by Mary Puckett

56 Pins

Search colors:  Use Pinterest to keep up with color trends.  By putting “Pantone colors 2014″ in the search box, you will get an array of palates predicted to be popular in the next season. The Pantone company provides color standards for the advertising industry but also is at the forefront of color predictions.  You can also Google “Pantone color of the year” and similar phrases to get interesting results.  Here’s a pin of the pantone color of the year 2014, just from putting the words in the Pinterest search box:

PANTONE Color of the Year 2014 - Radiant Orchid decor

PANTONE Color of the Year 2014 – Radiant Orchid decor

So, go have fun on the internet!