2 Quilts, 1 Set of Instructions

It’s here! The latest issue of Modern Quilts Unlimited, containing a quilt designed and made by me!Modern Quilts Unlimited magazine
The editors did a great job of providing clear diagrams for my instructions, and of photographing the quilt.  It is made from Michael Miller batiks, supplied by the company for this project.  I love MM fabrics, and was happy to use batiks for a little change from the “oh-so-solid” solids that are currently popularModern Quilts Unlimited.And here’s a second quilt made with the same feature blocks, arranged differently. (The solids are Michael Miller Cotton Couture left over from another project.)  You can get the templates from the magazine and make your own blocks, arranging them to suit yourself.

Quilt Pattern

Alternate colorway and block arrangement from the same pattern

modern quilt

Look at this fun quilting done by Joyce Miller!

So go make it your own way!

 

One Quilt, Two Lessons

Check out these fabrics!

Fat quarter bundle

Alison Glass Handprint fabric and neutral linen

A friend gave me the FQ (fat quarter) bundle of lovely Alison Glass handprint fabric and I combined it with a neutral linen fabric I’d been saving for something special. I started with Karla Alexander’s instructions for a quilt, but (as my friends all know) I never really follow instructions so it diverged…improvised modern quilt blocks

The blocks were lots of fun to make.  I followed the instructions for a while, then started cutting the blocks up and inserting strips.  Then decided NOT to trim all the blocks to one size.  I adjusted the sizes of the linen sashing so that all the rows came out the same length, and made the rows of different heights to allow for the different block sizes.

And I slashed the sashing and inserted some strips in that, too.

When I had the top all made, I basted it with spray basting as usual.  BUT I didn’t have enough of the first can.  Then the SECOND can was a different brand and almost empty as well!

Determined to get the doggone thing basted, I resorted to some spray-on stuff that was supposed to bond the fabric to the batting when I ironed it.  This last stuff left SPOTS on the handprint fabric, which is light weight (almost like voile).  YIKES!

Lesson 1:  Be patient until you can get to the store for a can of basting spray.

Finally (after buying basting spray) it was basted and I started quilting.  Enter Lesson 2: this linen is a loose weave of large fibers and doesn’t play well with a tight weave of small fibers. YIKES AGAIN!  No matter how I changed the pressure on the quilting foot or otherwise fiddled with it, the quilting distorted the top and the backing.

improvised modern quilt

The finished quilt

Now it’s finished and I like it.  I appreciate the texture of the linen, but I’m not sure I’ll use it again.  I took this to my last modern guild meeting and people were positive about it, but one of the more experience sewists told me linen is usually stretchy, so at least it’s not just me!

improvisational quilting

Here’s the quilt back–that column was straight when I started!

Well, I try to learn something new every day, so I’m calling this a SUCCESS! ;-)

 

Leaders and Enders–Have You Heard?

One of the best things about the blogosphere is that I get tips all the time from other quilters.

I recently learned from Melissa at Happy Quilting how I can be piecing two projects at once!  What could be better?

I’ve always used scraps for starting and ending a series of chain piecing because that gives me all the pieces at once, still without having to cut off thread tails.

The scraps used to start and end sections of chain piecing end up looking like this--pretty ratty!

The scraps used to start and end sections of chain piecing end up looking like this–pretty ratty!

Here’s an explanation of chain piecing in case you aren’t familiar with it.

To piece a second top as “leaders and enders” instead of using scraps to chain piece, I figured it had to be a SIMPLE top or I’d end up confusing things for sure!  So when one of my quilt groups decided to exchange improvised blocks (sometimes called slabs if they’re all one color), it seemed like a perfect opportunity to make the slabs while working on something else.

Improvisational piecing

This is a pile of scraps..

I’m piecing slabs from scraps and they’re improvisational, so there ARE no mistakes, only opportunities for further improvisation!  Woo-hoo!

Improvised quilt block

And this is a block improvised from scraps and cut to size!

SO, while piecing the tops I wanted to consider for the Quilt Alliance challenge…

I also pieced several improvisational slabs for friends.

Improvised blocks

Blocks improvised from scraps

Win-win!  And most importantly, it was FUN :-)

Review: Kraft-Tex for Bags

I’ve had my eye on Kraft-Tex for some time. It’s a paper product made by C&T

Kraft-Tex review

Kraft-Tex, made by C&T but sold many places

and advertised to sew and wash like fabric but look like leather.  As I’ve probably said before, I’ll try almost anything once :-)  (And just for the record, I purchased the material used for this project and this review is entirely my own opinion.)

I decided to use Kraft-Tex as the bottom of a tote bag.  There was a helpful video on You Tube (of course!) showing how to use it and showing what it looked like both washed and unwashed.  Because I didn’t want to wash the drapery fabric I was using for the bag, I didn’t wash the Kraft-Tex.

The Kraft-Tex was very stiff right out of the package, so I wadded it up hoping to soften it a little before folding it to make the bag bottom.  I didn’t really need to do that; it folded and sewed very nicely.  It remained extremely stiff but was not at all difficult to stitch with my Bernina, even when it came to sewing through 4 layers as I boxed the bottom of the bag.

Kraft-Tex review

Tote bag made with Kraft-Tex for the bottom section

When I got it all put together it provided a nice substantial bottom for the bag, as I had hoped.  It did not even THINK about tearing like paper when I was working with it. However, I really think it LOOKS like a brown paper bag rather than “like leather” as advertised.  Maybe that’s just because I used it to make a bag.  As you can see from this detail, it did stitch very nicely.

Kraft-Tex bag

Detail of Kraft-Tex and Drapery Fabric Bag

However, the claim that Kraft-Tex “handles like fabric” was absolutely untrue!  It was so stiff that I decided to wash what remained along with the rest of the drapery fabric.  Both washed and dried well on gentle cycle, and the Kraft-Tex was slightly softer after washing. It didn’t handle any more like fabric, though–turning that stiff outer bag through the opening left in the lining for that purpose was “challenging”!

Here’s the second bag, made with washed Kraft-Tex.  Sure enough, it looks the same after washing.  I quilted the upper part of the bag, which gave it more substance than the previous one, so it went better with the stiff Kraft-Tex bottom.

Kraft-Tex review

Bag made after washing the Kraft-Tex and fabric

The pattern I used for this bag was free at Bijou Lovely and was very well written and illustrated.  I’ll probably make the bag again, but I’ll find another use for the Kraft-Tex!

 

4 Quilt Tops–Help Me Choose!

The theme of the Quilt Alliance challenge this year is “Animals We Love”.  It gave me a hard time–I tried for weeks to think of something–then all of a sudden I had more ideas than I knew what to do with!  So here are 4 tops I’ve made, and I need to decide which one to submit.  Please tell me which you think is best!  It may help if you’ll tell me why you like it as well (or why you hate it).  All are 16 inches square, which is a requirement of the challenge.

#1: Cat Circus was designed using EQ7 and made using templates.modern quilt block

#2: Barnyard Whirl was cut freehand.  The black fabric is printed with animal sounds.  (Why do we teach little children to make animal sounds, anyway?  Oops, a digression!)Modern quilt block

#3: We Love Clams will have a thread-sketched cartoon clam (presumably looking worried about all that love) as a focal point when I quilt it.Modern Clamshell Quilt

#4: Untitled (feel free to suggest a title) again with the animal-sounds black fabric.Modern QuiltAnd that’s it!  Yes, I made 4 quilt tops!  Please help me choose one.

 

March News x 3

First, here’s the stack of quilts my group made for Ronald McDonald House:Donation Quilts

Second, here are some other projects along the way:

Improvisational Quilt Blocks

Gwen Marston Style Improvisational Blocks (made by me)

Group-block-2

One of the blocks from our group block swap (24 inches square!)

Jerri's start on a BIG Bonnie Hunter quilt

Jerri’s start on a BIG Bonnie Hunter quilt

improvised blocks

Improvised “slabs” for our next group block swap!

Finally, the March finish (as in, I am DONE with this one!)

Storm at Sea

Paper Piecing Gone WAY Wrong!

I bought this paper-piecing pattern for Storm at Sea in 2006 and cut the pieces over a (long) period of time with the intention of making it of scraps from other quilts.  What I FAILED to do was to make a sample block before cutting the whole thing!!!

I wanted to paper piece this design so the points would be perfect.  Instead, carefully piecing along the lines on the paper produced what you see above.  The pattern and paper went into the trash, and the thousands of pieces I cut will be re-purposed!

I almost always make a test block, and now I expect it will be always-always instead of almost-always ;-)

The Modern Sampler Continues

These next two blocks were made from inspirations I found on Pinterest (yes, I love Pinterest!)  The first I simply copied because I loved the colors and their arrangement in the original artwork by Richard Paul Lohse.

Modern Quilt Block

Quilt block based on the work of artist Richard Paul Lohse

Here’s a drawing of how I constructed this block, with measurements, if you want to copy him, too.  There are 4 units, each 4″ finished (4-1/2 inches for each unit before joining) so that the entire block is 8″ finished.  I’ve marked the size to cut each piece on one of the 4 units, assuming you can take it from there :-)

modern quilt block

Layout for block based on art of Richard Paul Lohse

If you look up the artist Richard Paul Lohse, you’ll see that a lot of his designs would make terrific blocks or whole quilts.  Great sense of color!

The second block was made from a tutorial I found at a website called Piece By Number and you can find the free pattern on her site here.

modern paper pieced block

Circle of Geese block made from a pattern at PieceByNumber

This block was easier than it looks thanks to paper piecing.  I enjoyed making it, though I feel no need to make another right away!

I think these two blocks have a lot of ZIP for the relatively little amount of effort they required.  The Lohse block depends very much on choice of color, so be sure to lay out the fabrics and look at them a while before cutting.  Have fun!

My Own Modern Sampler: It may take a year!

I’ve had some beautiful solids and black/white text prints in a box waiting for me to have time for them, and I’ve been studying all my favorite inspirations trying to decide how to use this stash.

modern quilt fabrics

Quilt-in-Waiting

Then it came to me:  I don’t have to choose!  I’ve been wanting to make my own modern sampler quilt for some time, and this is it.  I’m going to make lots of different blocks, JUST BECAUSE I WANT TO MAKE THEM and then combine them into this quilt.

Here’s how it will go:  I’ll make a block whenever it strikes my fancy and will post about it here in case you want to make it, too.  Some will be original, some traditional or designed by other quilters.  I’ll make a quilt when I have enough blocks, but I’m giving myself a year. Blocks will range in size from 3″ to 12″ and they won’t all be square!

Here are the first couple:

modern quilt block

Two 9-patch blocks cut freehand; these finish 6 inches square

Obviously the 9-patch isn’t a new block, and there are “modern crosses” all over the web, like this one from Allison at CluckCluckSew, so my idea isn’t unusual.

Modern Quilt

Quilt by Allison at CluckCluckSew.com

The point is, I enjoyed doing it!  These blocks are just for fun.

I figure these are too easy to require instructions, but I blogged about how to insert those narrow yellow bands, so check it out here if you want to know how I did it.  And, since they are cut freehand and end up a little wonky, I started with 8 inch squares to get 6 inch finished-size blocks.

I hope you’ll follow along with my sampler even if you don’t make the blocks.  I’ve already made the next two (which are far fancier than these), and I’ll blog about them next week!

 

 

 

 

 

Perspective on Quiltcon

There are numerous blogs showing pictures of the winning quilts from QuiltCon, so if you want to see them go to Houzz or the MQG blog here and here. Lots of interesting quilts to see.  Here are some of my thoughts:

Quiltcon winner

Fill the Void by Cinzia Allocca

First, I was very happy to see that Fill the Void, by Cinzia Allocca, won a prize in the handwork category.  This was one of my favorite quilts at the Vermont Quilt Festival last year, and the hand quilting really is beautiful.

I was happy to see some of my friends’ quilts in the show.  Here is Jean with hers:

QuiltCon quilt show

Jean Larson with “Floating”, her QuiltCon show entry

And here is Amy’s entry in the Michael Miller spring challenge.

QuiltCon quilt show

The New New, by Amy Anderson

That really WAS a challenge for most of us who don’t often use pastels, but Amy met the challenge with a nice design, so I was glad to see it at the show.

There were several quilts that obviously drew from mid century modern art, though that was not referenced in the show notes.  Here are two designs that were especially striking.  They are Ethos by Natasa McFadyen and Amazonia by Nathalie Bearden.

To me, these look like mid-20th Century art, especially Mark Rothko.

There were several quilts that drew on common forms from mid-century graphic design. I thought this one was fun:

QultCon show

Bowls and Balls #2, by Rachel Kerley

Finally, I loved this quilt by Luke Haynes, which he frankly states is a re-working of the Andrew Wyeth painting “Christina’s World”.  It’s a great example of how good design is good design, regardless of the medium.  I particularly like that, although he has changed a number of details to make it his own, the reference is immediately recognizable to anyone who knows the original painting.

QuiltCon 2015

{The American Context #16} Christina’s World, by Luke Haynes

In view of a lot of this, I was interested to see in the newsletter from one of the modern guilds that they want to focus on “modern quilts, not art quilts”.  Obviously the definition of “modern quilt” isn’t yet settled despite much discussion.

 

 

 

QuiltCon Fashionistas!

I go to a fair number of quilt shows, and most of them are attended by women (and a few men) in casual but unspectacular fashions.  At QuiltCon, however, I saw so many women dressed in fancy outfits.  Here are just a few:

Fashion at QuiltCon

Miriam, from the Modern Quilt Guild of Asheville

Miriam and her sister, who collaborate on most of their projects, had a great quilt in the show.  (Her sister wasn’t this much of a fashion statement though–sorry Emily!)

Since QuiltCon was in Austin, lots of people brought out their boots.  I love the look of boots with dresses:

QuiltCon Fashionista

Linda, an independent member of the MQG (Modern Quilt Guild)

Many of the women had dresses in prints that looked like modern quilts, including this one:

Fashion at QuiltCon

Emily of the Ann Arbor MQG

And a number of women had dresses and skirts they had made themselves.  This woman had a dress to match her hair!

QuiltCon Fashionista

Julia of the Houston MQG

Check out how she even matched the pattern where she put in the zipper!  If you’ve ever sewn garments, you know that’s an accomplishment.  And the pockets were made from a cute safety pin print.

My friend and I loved this blouse, worn by Kelly of the Ventura MQG:

And finally, here is a different type of fashion statement–I’m riding a giant sewing machine! Why do you suppose my friend wouldn’t let me take a picture of HER riding it???Riding Sewing Machine at QuiltCon

Pictures of my favorite quilts next week!