Pattern Review: Sweetpea Pods

Note: As always, I received NO compensation of any type for this review.

One of the many things I enjoy about attending a quilt show is the opportunity to visit the vendors. Since my nearest “local” quilt shop is about an hour away, I often see things online long before I get to examine them in person. Occasionally I do buy online, but there’s no substitute for looking something over personally before buying.

Pattern review Sweetpea PodsAt the Vermont Quilt Festival, I came across this pattern that I had been considering online because it looked so darn cute.  I talked to the vendor about it to be sure it included instructions for doing that tricky thing with the zipper and learned that it did. She also had the extra zipper pulls that are useful for this design, so I bought the pattern and the zipper pulls.

And here we go:Pods3

This pattern has VERY clear instructions.  I read a fair number of patterns (and write my own), and this is one of the best-written patterns I have seen.

The little pods are easy to make, even with taking time to learn the zipper trick.  The zipper trick actually is easy, and instructions for that are very clear as well.  The pattern is set up so that you get two pods out of each set of instructions, so I cut them out with coordinated fabrics–outside fabric for one pouch was the lining for its mate!  What fun!Sweetpea Pods pattern review

This is so fast and fun that I made several of them.  The instructions say to zig-zag finish the inside seams, but I used my serger for that, so it was even faster!

This was a great break from a rather tedious project I’ve been working on.  I’m giving these to our daughter to use as teacher gifts, but I foresee another round of them for Christmas gifts coming right up!Sweetpea Pod pattern review

You can order the pattern at several places online, or go right to the source at the Lazy Girl Designs website.

Vermont Quilt Festival–Favorite Quilts, Part 2

Here are the rest of the quilts that really caught my eye at VQF.

First, a couple of my favorites among the many fine landscape quilts:VQF5VQF3These next ones probably would be classified as art quilts.  As you can see, my camera was askew on the first one, but it also had very irregular edges.  The transparency effects were impressive.VQF6This next one had a nice sense of humor and, as you can see from the ribbons, was well executed also.VQF20The rest of these are what I would call modern, and I especially appreciated their graphic impact.VQF15VQF17VQF14VQF7There were SO MANY more great quilts, so consider attending next year to see the show in person!

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Vermont Quilt Festival–Favorite Quilts Part 1

Here are a few of my favorite quilts from the Vermont Quilt Festival. Please note that a few of these really are not square. Others do have straight sides with 90 degree corners, but the picture is off because I had the camera in one hand and a glass of champagne in the other😀

First, this is one of the youth quilts, made by a 3-1/2 year old!  Entrants in this category made the quilt top themselves, but may have had help with quilting. Janome is a big sponsor of the VQF, and each youth entrant was given a sewing machine!  This tot had to get help to carry hers from the stage:)

youth entry VQF

As always at VQF, there was a wonderful exhibit of antique quilts.  This next one was my favorite:Antique quilt, VQFThe Instructors’ Showcase made me wish I’d taken some classes.  This first one is by Augusta Cole, whose scrappy designs I admire and have used from time to time.Vermont Quilt Festival 2016And this one by instructor Katie Pasquini Masopust was very unusual.  I would like to know more about her techniques.VQF instructors 2016There were a number of other special exhibits and I didn’t take pictures of all of them, though they would have been worth it!  This bargello quilt caught my husband’s eye:Bargello quilt at VQF 2016Here are a few more of the fairly traditional ones that I especially liked.  Note that one got a purple ribbon for a very high score on the judging criteria I showed last week.VQF11VQF18VQF16VQF12Finally, here is an absolutely spectacular applique quilt.  Everyone stood in front of it admiringly, so I had to wait my turn to take a picture:VQF4Next week I’ll show you the more modern quilts that caught my eye.

 

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Vermont Quilt Festival, Part I

I love the Vermont Quilt Festival (VQF) for several reasons: Vermont in June, great exhibits, and the opening reception with champagne and chocolate!!!  (I’m showing a few of the beautiful quilts today, and I’ll have more later.)

However, my very favorite part is that each quilt is judged on its own merits. Every quilt is rated with published criteria and may (or may not) be awarded a ribbon, based on its score.  I love this idea because, as I’ve said elsewhere, the idea of “competitive quilting” doesn’t compute for me. With the VQF system, your primary competition is yourself. Then, if you just have to try to beat other people in a given category, they do have the usual “best machine quilting”, etc.

VQF

This quilt involved extensive work and I think it is very “artistic”. It got a 3rd place for workmanship, but it also got the Best Modern Quilt award.

Here is the way quilts are judged, taken from the VQF website:

Each judge evaluates all entries, scores the quilts using the point system below, and provides a brief written critique. The final score for each entry is the average of the three judges’ scores. Score sheets and critiques are returned to contestants with their quilts.

POINT SYSTEM (100 points total)

  • Visual Impact: 15 points maximum
  • Design: 40 points maximum
  •      20 points: use of pattern and design
  •      10 points: effectiveness of color in overall design
  •       5 points: suitability of materials
  •       5 points: border treatment
  • Workmanship: 45 points maximum
  •      20 points: precision of work, top and back
  •      20 points: quality of quilting and/or needlework
  •      5 points: binding and edges

RIBBON CATEGORIES

  • Exceptional Merit (purple): 98 -100 points
  • First (blue): 95-97 points
  • Second (red): 92-94points
  • Third (yellow): 88-91point
Modern quilt from Vermont Quilt Festival

Here is a modern sampler that I enjoyed. It got a 3rd place ribbon.

Although I didn’t win any of the “big” categories, I did get a (3rd place) ribbon at VQF this year.  As you can see, that amounts to a “B” grade, so I’m pretty happy.  The comments were useful, as well, so I know what to do the same and what to do differently next time.

Round quilt from VQF

This quilt, made from a pattern, got a 3rd place ribbon as well. The circle is on a black background, so the quilt is square.

I certainly wish other shows would adopt a similar system!  I’m sure it is expensive, since VQF has 3 judges for each quilt and they have to make comments and take time to score each one, not just look at it once and move on.  But for me, as a quilter, it makes the VQF show much more worth the effort of entering.  Here’s my quilt:

modern quilt

Happy Squares, designed and made by me.

Does anyone know of other shows with a similar system?  I’d like to consider them when planning next year’s entries!

2014 Projects, Part 2

To continue a review of projects from 2014, the point of this exercise is to get together a gallery page for each year I’ve done this blog.

I made “Drunk in the Garden” both to use this beautiful floral fabric that reminded me of Texas and to practice cutting and piecing gentle curves.

Drunk in the Garden, the original quilt

Drunk in the Garden, the original quilt

Despite the beautiful fabric, the overall design never looked right to me, primarily because the gold fabrics varied too much in value.  I eventually cut this quilt up and made some place mats, which were much more successful.  You can see them here, if you like.

I designed a quilt for the Michael Miller challenge and, though it sank without a trace in the challenge, I liked it.  The design was improvised based on the little scan codes made up of triangles at my local garden center:

Michael Miller challenge quilt

Packet of Posy Seeds

Also in 2014, I designed a quilt and pillow for Modern Quilts Unlimited magazine.  Here is the picture from the magazine:

quilt photo

Zippy Star Quilt and Pillow as shown in Modern Quilts Unlimited, Summer 2014

And here is the “practice” quilt I made first to work out the details:

modern quilt

Zippy Star I, which sold at the Asheville Quilt Show in September

As if one Michael Miller challenge weren’t enough, I made this quilt for another later in the year:MM-finish1

And finally, I finished this quilt, which I had been working on for years.  Literally.

Spring Sun, a design by me, using blocks paper pieced from a totally different Judy Niemeyer pattern!

Spring Sun, a design by me, using blocks paper pieced from a totally different Judy Niemeyer pattern

And that was it for 2014!  One thing that is obvious from reviewing some of these pictures is that I have improved my photography since 2014.  For which I’m thankful.

Coming up next: a report from the 2016 Vermont Quilt Festival!

 

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Projects from 2014

As part of my effort to develop galleries for this site, here is a review of my projects from the first half of 2014.

The design and tutorial for this zippered pouch came from Noodlehead.

zippered pouch

I made a series of these little zippered pouches, and they have been useful.

These next two bags were made from a book entitled Ruby Star Wrapping.  You can read my review of the book here, if you want.

I continued my interest in improvisational piecing in 2014, making this confetti block…

improv quilt block

Confetti Block, 2014

…and this entry for the Quilt Alliance annual contest:

modern art quilt

Whirlwind, my 2014 Quilt Alliance challenge quilt

I made this quilt for the Pantone Challenge.  It looks better in person than in this picture, and now is used to decorate one of the rooms at our local free clinic:

Applique quilt

Radiating Orchid, my mini-quilt for the Radiant Orchid Challenge

As always, I made a number of donation quilts for Ronald McDonald House.  I used them to try out a variety of techniques and other experiments:

I made this baby quilt because I loved the fabrics:

baby quilt

Baby Dots–Front

baby quilt

Baby Dots–back.  I may like it even more than the front!

And I participated in several swaps, including one involving these blocks.  Don’t even think about the 88 little pieces in the block on the left!!!

I’ve reached my (self-imposed) length limit for a post, so the rest of the 2014 review will be coming up next week!  Please come back😉

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Thread Review

Note: I received no compensation for this review, either in products or payment.

I have used Superior So Fine thread for piecing and a lot of my quilting for a long time now. It comes in a wide range of colors and runs smoothly, without leaving excess lint in my machine.  I use it for hand sewing as well, on the rare occasions when I do that.soFine1

I buy a lot of thread, so I subscribe to the Superior Threads newsletter in order to get bargains when they come along.  They recently ran a special to encourage folks to try out new threads: You could get spools of several threads for half price if you let them choose the colors.

I’m all about trying new things, so I bought several.  I sewed a little sample of each and stapled it in my Superior Threads catalog so I can refer to it when I order in future.

The first thread I tried was Fantastico, a 40-weight trilobal polyester.

trilobal polyester thread

Fantastico thread sample–I didn’t balance the tension, as you can see. I just wanted to see the thread.

I’ve been interested in trilobal thread since my friend Melanie over at Catbird Quilts showed a nice piece she’d quilted with trilobal thread–it was shiny!  (The thread she used was Glide, and she uses a long-arm rather than a home machine for quilting.)

Next up was another 40-weight trilobal polyester, this one variegated:

Superior thread review

Sample swatch done with Superior Rainbows thread

I still didn’t balance the tension, but you can see the sheen more with the variegated thread.  I like this one, too!

Superior Razzle Dazzle is a thread developed by Ricky Tims and intended for couching or bobbin work.  I bought this years ago for a machine quilting class I took and I never got to use it.  So, since I was trying out threads anyway, I wound it on the bobbin, put Superior Bottom Line (a thin polyester) thread in the needle, and gave it a try:

thread review

Superior Razzle Dazzle sample

I think bigger stitches would be better, but I like this! Razzle Dazzle indeed!  I’ve never used bobbin work for quilting, but I think I can feel it coming soon.

Superior Magnifico is another decorative trilobal polyester thread, again 40 weight.  I don’t know how many colors it comes in, but there are EIGHT pages of color charts in my catalog!

Superior Threads review

Sample using Superior Magnifico

Finally, my FAVORITE, a metallic thread.  I’ve tried several metallic thread and usually had trouble with them, even in my Bernina.

metallic thread for quilting

Superior Metallic thread

Ad you can see, this one gave me no trouble.  And I did take time to balance the tension:)

All these threads ran smoothly with no problems. The recommended needle (#90) was printed on the end of each spool, which was very handy.  I’m happy to have tried these and expect I’ll use them soon in my home-machine quilting.

 

The Rest of the Story

Here are the other two quilts I made while doing the Gwen Marston class on iQuilt.

This first one is my version of one of her quilts, and again I made it 12″ x 12″.  I faced it, which I don’t usually do, so that was a learning experience.  I like the way it turned out.Gwen Marston iQuilt class

This second one was made of scraps from the other quilts in the series, which makes me happy.  Marston2

This started as a liberated Roman Stripe design, with a center of 4 larger blocks and a “border” of smaller blocks.  The size of the blocks worked out fine, but the pieces got more and more “liberated” so that I’m not sure it looks much like a Roman Stripe any more.  Which is fine, actually.

I quilted it using a pattern of wandering lines, all in one direction, and I like the result. After considering several threads, I used a thin medium grey polyester.  I think it blended well so that the quilting didn’t obscure the design.  Here’s my “trial” of several threads.Marston1

How do you choose your quilting thread for a project?

More Inspiration

I bought two of Gwen Marston’s books some time ago…

and have been channeling her in my designs for over a year (you can click on the pictures below to see their captions):

Recently I saw that the (relatively) new iQuilt platform had two video classes taught by Gwen Marston.  The class I chose was quite short–a little over 2 hours–and I decided to watch the class over a weekend and make several little quilts using her techniques.

I’d already made a refrigerator quilt in Gwen’s style for an upcoming guild challenge,

art quilt, gwen marston

Refrigerator quilt inspired by Gwen Marston. Bev Manus came up with the idea for refrigerator quilts.

so I decided to make the new quilts 12″ x 12″ as well.  This is a great size for trying new things because there isn’t too much commitment of time or materials.

The first quilt was composed of half square triangle blocks, so I was able to try out the (fairly expensive) Loc Bloc ruler I recently bought to make trimming these blocks to size easier.  The ruler worked great with just a little practice, and I got to practice my machine quilting on the finished quilt.

refrigerator quilt

Quilt Front

Gwen’s instruction was to pair the triangles up into squares just as you picked them up, with the caveat that the pairs should have contrast between the fabrics.  Then the squares were to be sewn together into rows just as they were picked up.  She did allow that it would be OK to lay the rows out and look at them before sewing them together, but advised against spending a lot of time fussing over the exact layout.

Refrigerator Quilt

Quilt Back

I was pleased with this result.  The class doesn’t really cover anything that isn’t in her books, but I was happier watching a little and sewing a little than I am to just sit down and read a book.  I made a couple of other quilts, too, and I’ll show them next week.

 

Fixing an Oops

I’m quilting a lap size quilt on my home machine. I’m not fond of the process, but custom quilting isn’t in my budget, so here I go. About half way through the process, I discovered a loose seam where, despite paper piecing, one seam allowance had been TOO small and the seam had opened up.  There wasn’t enough fabric to allow me to just overlap and top stitch the seam.  The edges barely met and, while one was a folded edge, the other was a raw edge.

fixing a quilt mistake

The opening was about an inch long

Luckily, I have a tool from garment sewing I used to fix it.

using stitch witchery to fix a quilting mistake

Stitch Witchery is a heat-activated glue in a strip

I used the Stitch Witchery to bond both sides of the seam to the batting.  This also stabilized the edges so they won’t fray.  Then I zig-zagged across the place.  Thank goodness it was a black-to-black seam so there’s no problem of one side of the zigzag showing on a colored block.

Fixed with minimal fuss

Fixed with minimal fuss

I’m not glad it happened, but I’m satisfied with the fix.  I will NOT be pointing it out to anyone looking at the finished quilt:-)

Now I’m back to the quilting.  The piece is about half done.  I’ll show it to you when I finish.