Quilt Alliance Contest

Here’s my entry for the 2016 Quilt Alliance contest, “Playing Favorites “. The design is inspired by Gwen Marston’s work, and the piece is titled “Gwen Visits the Farm”. The black fabric has animal sounds printed on it: “peep” etc.

improvisational quilt

“Gwen Visits the Farm”

The “Playing Favorites” theme of the 2016 Quilt Alliance contest is intended to capture a picture of quilting in 2016 by asking contestants to make quilts using their favorite techniques.  I love improvisational quilting, and Gwen Marston was doing it long before anyone thought of the “modern” quilt movement!

In addition to making the quilt in Gwen Marston’s improvisational style, I quilted it using decorative stitches.  I’ve used several of the decorative stitches on my machine for quilting for a long time now.  However, I recently took a Craftsy class in which Jackie Gehring suggested using even more of the decorative stitches.  I think the stitching reflects the state of the art of quilting in 2016, as well.machine quilting

I’ve been thinking for YEARS of doing a series of quilts in the styles of my favorite quilt designers, so this is the first in that series. Please stay tuned!

Layer Cake Quilt

I bought a terrific layer cake was bought a couple of years ago and it has been “waiting”, along with its solid coordinates, for inspiration to strike.

quilting storage

Future projects are stored in boxes…oops, sometimes for years! (Found a nice set of these at Costco.)

Then the other day I decided I wanted to insert strips of the coordinating colors into the squares. As you probably know, a layer cake is a stack of 10″ x 10″ squares. That means fat quarters (18″ x 22″) of solids will work well for insert strips.

I started by sorting the layer cake squares into stacks with the solids I wanted to use with them.

layer cake quilt

Layer Cake and Coordinates

Then I cut strips of various widths from the solids.The strips varied from 1″ x 18″ to 2″ x 18″, in 1/4″ increments. I cut a variety of widths from each solid color.

insert strips into quilt blocks

Strips ranging from 1″ to 2″ wide in 1/4″ increments

I had NO idea what I was going to do with these blocks once I got them modified; I just liked cutting them up and inserting strips–it takes very little to entertain some of us😉 Then I remembered John Cage’s “prepared piano”.   So I called these “prepared fabrics”.

I did the inserts in several ways, still working on this just for fun:

When I looked at my “prepared fabrics” together, it was apparent I wasn’t going to just sew them together along the edges (for several reasons)!Retreat18

So the next step was to go to EQ (Electric Quilt, a computer program for quilt design) and make some designs:

Quilt from layer cake

Option #1. I’ve always loved concentric blocks, and alternating them like this produces a nice design easily.

modern quilt design

Option #2. Concentric blocks off-center are even better!

layer cake quilt design

Option #3. Flying geese are always a lively design element, and I just bought a special ruler for trimming!

modern quilt design

Option #4: I haven’t done anything with gentle curves for a while. These look like flags to me.

What do you think?  Anybody have a strong preference for one of these designs?  Whatever I do, I think it will be fun to see how the inserted strips turn out in the final design:)

 

Quilt of 5496 Pieces!

A friend who loves TINY things recently finished this postage stamp quilt of 5496 one-inch squares!!!  She will donate it to be raffled as a fundraiser at the retirement home where she works.

postage stamp quilt

Postage stamp quilt–all 1″ squares!  Made by Jerri Szlizewski

Jerri says this is “the ultimate I-Spy quilt”.  She has found many, many, little novelty prints to put in the little blocks.  She even has Elvis, though I didn’t get him in this close-up.

postage stamp quilt

A close-up showing a few of the little designs in the quilt

Here are just a few of the projects from the design walls at a recent quilt retreat at a “secret” hideaway:

slabs, quilt slabs

One retreater came up with this design to use slabs we had swapped previously

One person made several dozen of the cute half-circle napkins that fold into a Christmas tree.  She made a lot of place mats, too, but I didn’t get a picture of those.

quilt retreat

Christmas Tree Napkins

Retreat16

Working on a quilt from Scrap Quilt Sensation, by Katharine Guerrier

Here are a few more works in progress from various people:Retreat15Retreat18Retreat-4And finally, here are some of the quilts we made for Ronald McDonald House:

Only as Good as Your Last Quilt?

There’s a cynical phrase, common in professional sports, that is used often in other arenas as well: You’re only as good as your last game. It’s a commentary on public opinion. Unfortunately, there’s a corollary in our everyday judgments of ourselves.

Michael Miller Challenge 2013

This little quilt, “Packet of Posy Seeds”, did NOT win anything.

One of the modern guilds I belong to had an interesting discussion last meeting about which quilts are selected for QuiltCon, and why.  We pretty much all agreed that the show is used to further the MQG’s own definition of modern quilting rather than to reveal the depth and breadth of the modern quilt movement.

modern quilt

This little quilt was published, along with an article I wrote

So, am I a good quilter because my quilt was juried into an AQS show? Or a poor quilter because SEVERAL quilts were rejected for a QuiltCon show? A good quilter because I’ve designed quilts that were published?  Or a bad quilter because every magazine doesn’t love every one of my proposals?  There’s a temptation to feel great when a quilt wins a prize and to feel a bit down when one is rejected.  But does that make sense?

modern quilt

Happy Squares, designed and made by me. I love it, but nobody wants to publish the pattern.

Of course there are some “competitive quilters”, but most of us quilt because we enjoy it. My quilts are made to please myself, not to please other people.  Even when I make a quilt for a challenge or show, I make it the way I want it, and I expect that is true for most people.  I doubt that quilting is a road to fame and fortune for most of us, and that’s fine.

Modern Quilts Unlimited magazine

Zippy Star quilt for Modern Quilts Unlimited. I won a contest with this design.

So, if QuiltCon didn’t accept my quilt, it is NOT a personal judgment about me, it is a programmatic judgment about where the MQG folks want the definition of modern quilting to go. And if some of my quilts are published or win prizes, that’s dandy, but I still made them to suit myself.

improvisationally pieced quilt

“In Fairyland” has been in 2 shows but won no prizes.

So much of life involves following other people’s rules, sometimes for good reason and sometimes not.  Although I’m a serious quilter, I want to do it by my own rules.  I’ll still submit to shows because I like to see my quilts displayed.  But really, the quilt is an end in itself.

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

I designed Spring Sun using blocks paper pieced from a totally different Judy Niemeyer pattern. It was juried into an AQS show.

My friend Melanie has written a couple of posts on why we quilt.  You might enjoy them:

Make Good Art

Saturation Point

Love Panto Quilting and KonMari Update

The two quilt tops I finished last month are back from the quilter already!  I’ve used the same quilter for a long time because she does wonderful work.  I choose panto designs rather than custom quilting, in part because of the great variety of designs of available and in part because it is so much more affordable.

panto quilting

Panto design of circles on a block from my modern sampler

Just look at these cute circles on the Modern Sampler Quilt:  Yes, that is an edge-to-edge panto design!  I have done those doggone circles on my domestic sewing machine, and they were a PAIN.  I am so thrilled to have someone do them for me at a reasonable cost!

modern sampler, panto quilting

Another block from my modern sampler showing all those circles in the panto design

Here are some close-ups of the quilting on the batik block-swap quilt.  I love the choice of thread color as well as the design.  It enhances the overall quilt!batik quilt, block swap

applique, applique blockNow I’ll just get these bound and ready to go!

Here’s one more reason I choose panto quilting.  I asked for a choppy quilting design to go with the chopped-up blocks in this quilt and got just what I wanted!

modern quilt

Panto quilt design on one of my improvised quilts

I do quilt my own quilts on my domestic sewing machine, both free-motion and with the walking foot.

free motion quilting

Here’s some free motion quilting I did years before I tried the stitch regulator

free motion quilting

Here’s some sort-of straight line quilting I did freehand

walking-foot quilting

I did this with the walking foot without marking

It’s not my favorite thing to do, but if I need a quilt done a certain way or in a hurry, I do it.  Alas, I have not found the stitch regulator as useful as I expected. (You can read my review here.)  I do enjoy all the things I can do with the walking foot!

walking foot quilting

Here are some variably-spaced lines I did with the walking foot

hand quilting

Here’s something I quilted by hand “back in the day”.  It’s been around a while.

Update on KonMari in the Studio:

It took an entire week to go through all my fabric and then get it put away, but it was worth it.  I had a great “ahhh…” feeling when it was all done.  My studio is much neater and I know what I have.

One thing I learned is that almost any fabric brings me joy!  Probably why I’m a quilter.  So there wasn’t much fabric to get rid of.  I DID get rid of a bunch of scrap collections I was “saving”.  I cut my scrap fabric in strips of pre-determined width and store it by strip size so that I can find what I want easily.  However, I had several collections of tiny pieces too small to cut into strips.  I know some people just love those and do lots of things with them, but it’s not for me!  So out they went.

My next project is the donation quilt for the Quilt Alliance’s 2016 Contest, so the next step in KonMari will have to wait until that is done.  You should consider entering, too!  Entries are only 16 inches square, so it’s not a huge commitment.  Check it out here.

Quilt Alliance

 

 

 

 

 

KonMari in the Studio

Because I had seen so many reviews of it, I recently read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. It is very Japanese in character: there is a right way to do everything, and KonMarifollowing the rules brings good fortune. I’m a little surprised at how much it has caught on in the West. The author, Marie Kondo, calls her method for “tidying” KonMari, a combination of her names.

I was unexpectedly convinced by reading her book that I can, indeed, get rid of a lot of my “stuff” and be happier for it!  And I thought I’d start in my studio, since that won’t involve anybody but myself.

My studio is pretty neat, with almost everything stored away.  And when I see pictures of other people’s studios, I realize that my stash is minimal by many standards!

KonMari recommends dealing with things by category, and in a strict order. There are no categories for a quilt studio, so I made my own categories and ordered them like this:
1. Fabric
2. Tools, such as rulers and scissors
3. Notions, such as thread and ric-rac
4. Published materials, such as books and patterns
5. Sewing and serging machines
6. Everything else

The method requires gathering all items of a particular category in one place. ALL must come out of their drawers, boxes, etc. Ms. Kondo says to pile it all on the floor, but you know THAT’s not happening!

studio organization, stash

Some of the stash laid out on tables–and some bins on the floor, too

The next step is to handle each piece and decide whether it gives me joy. If it does, it stays. If not, it GOES!

studio organization, stash managemengt

The stash from another angle

This may, at first, seem like a waste. After all, I paid for that fabric, washed, ironed, and stored it. But after reading the book, I believe the true waste is being weighed down by things I’m hoarding because I “might need them” or “intend to use them” in the mythical “some day”.  And really, do I want to work for hours on a quilt made with fabric I don’t love?

I’ll let you know how this first step turns out:)  How are you managing your stash?

Finished Tops!

After much deliberation about layout, I got my Modern Sampler quilt put together last week and sent it off to be quilted.  Here’s the final top:

modern sampler

My Modern Sampler top is ready for quilting!

Then, for good measure, I put together the batik blocks from a swap I was in several years ago and sent that top off to be quilted, as well.

batik quilt blocks

Group batik blocks, put together and ready for quilting

Yes, the sashing DOES vary a bit, because the blocks do.  That’s the way it goes with a block swap.  I love the variety of the blocks and, of course, the batik fabrics.

I’m sending this to Aunt Marti’s UFO challenge, which helps keep me motivated.  What are you up to?

Good News, Bad News!

First, the bad news: I sliced a good-sized hunk out of my finger with the (nice, sharp) rotary cutter. When I couldn’t get the bleeding stopped after an hour, I went to Urgent Care. A nice Physician Assistant there got it all fixed up.rotary cutter accident

Quilting with 9 fingers is a challenge😉  Another learning experience…

In better news, I made Lora Douglas’s Roxie bag this week, and it is as cute as expected! This project is part of Quilted Adventure, an online retreat I’m taking part in throughout 2016.  As always, I learned several things from making this bag.  And unlike the learning experience mentioned above, this was fun:

Roxie Bag, Quilted Adventure

Roxie Bag, Designed by Lora Douglas

Lora’s instructions requested foam batting, a product I had never heard of!  Luckily, my “local” quilt shop had it. It did give the bag really nice structure without making it stiff, and I probably will use foam batting for future bags.  A nice find!

I purchased the hardware for the bag from Lora’s Etsy shop,  I had no idea a flex frame could be so sturdy.  Most bags I’ve seen were made with lengths of metal measuring tape as the closure.  That works just fine (if your husband isn’t very vigilant about his tools) but the closure isn’t very tight.  The flex frame that came with the kit holds that bag closed with certainty!  And unlike the measuring tape closure, this one can hold itself open when needed.

Lora Douglas

Roxie Bag with the top snapped open

Lora’s instructions also called for glue-basting the binding, which I had never done.  It actually worked great!  I’ll probably do that again.

If you’re interested in the year-long Quilted Adventure, all classes are online for the whole year, so you can sign up any time.  Just use the link above to go to Lora’s site and click the button in her margin.  If your main interest is the bag rather than the whole retreat, she’ll release the single pattern some time in 2017.

So the good learning experiences certainly outweighed the bad this week!

 

 

2013: The Quilts

Most of the first post about 2013 showed special projects.  Here are the quilts.

This quilt, made from a Batavian Batiks pattern, hangs in my husband's office

This quilt, made from a Batavian Batiks pattern, hangs in my husband’s office

quilt, donation quilt, bright quilt, blended border

And here is a donation quilt made from extra blocks. I used it to try out blended borders.

Here are two more donation quilts, made for Ronald McDonald House in 2013:

Happy Plaids is my own design, but there are MANY similar quilts out there

Happy Plaids is my own design, but there are MANY similar quilts out there

Twinkle, a pattern by Swirly Girl Designs, was made because I had some fabulous leftover fabric

Twinkle, a pattern by Swirly Girl Designs, was made because I had some fabulous leftover fabric

The first post about 2013 projects included a table runner made from leftovers after I finished this next quilt:

improvisational quilt

This quilt, pieced improvisationally from bright batiks and black, is one of my all-time favorites.  

This quilt was for a special baby; and yes, that’s me with my beautiful daughter:)

baby quilt

Quilt for a special baby!

I found a pattern for this little miniature while on a trip, and just couldn’t resist making it–all from scraps, of course.

miniature quilt

Miniature quilt–I’m sorry I don’t recall the name of the designer.

Here’s an improvisationally designed T shirt quilt I made for a friend:

Improvised T shirt quilt

Modern T Shirt Quilt, using my favorite method of designing as I go

And finally, the last Ronald McDonald quilt for 2013, made from blocks that were just too wild without solid sashing!

Ronald 1 2013That’s what I could find for 2013!  More years later.

My Modern Sampler: Using Linen in Quilts

After finishing the blocks for my modern sampler, I ordered several shades of Essex linen/cotton blend to consider for the background. I know I said I’d never use linen again after the last struggle, but I’ve learned several things since. So, if you’re thinking of using linen in your quilts for its nice texture, read my tips at the end of this post.

Here I’m trying various layouts on two different potential background fabrics.  I hung the ironed fabric and pinned the blocks to it, trying out various layouts and different colors of background fabric.

essex linen

Here is the Pewter background

modern sampler

Here is the Natural background, with a different attempt at layout

I decided I liked the natural background better than they gray.  Then I took it all down and made a rectangle on my design “wall”, outlining the approximate finished size with blue painter’s tape.

modern sampler

Here is the layout I decided to use, with some of the sashing in place

And here are my thoughts on using linen in quilts:
–The linen I used the first time was “real”, 100% linen. Remember that from your childhood, when summer clothes were supposed to be linen? Think wrinkles! And avoid 100% linen for your quilts
–The “linen” of the Essex brand actually is a linen/cotton blend, so it has a nice texture but is less wrinkle-prone and tighter woven than the linen I used previously.
–Pre-wash the linen blend, even if you don’t pre-wash anything else. Wash in warm water and dry on warm so it will get its shrinking done and be more dense and stable.
–Before you pre-wash, serge or zig-zag the raw edges together to prevent fraying! This worked great and “wasted” only about 1/4″ on each raw edge, much less than would have frayed. And there was no mess of threads in the washing machine.

How have you done with using fabrics other than quilting cotton in quilts?