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?

 

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Projects 2013–Part I

For some time I’ve been meaning to add to my blog with a gallery of projects for each of the past several years.  I’ve been held up in part by the variable quality of my photography over the years, but I’ve decided to just start anyway.  Here are some projects from 2013.

I entered several national contests in 2013, the year I also started this blog.  Here is the quilt I made for the Quilt Alliance TWENTY challenge and chose as the header for my blog:

Rising star art quilt

Rising Star, made for the Quilt Alliance TWENTY contest in 2013

I made this quilt for the Michael Miller challenge in 2013:

Michael Miller Challenge 2013

Packet of Posey Seeds

And I made this little quilt for the Pantone Challenge:

Applique quilt

Radiating Orchid mini-quilt for the Radiant Orchid Challenge

I attended some wonderful classes with Laura Wasilowski in 2013, and made this little art quilt:

applique art quilt

Leaf, made in class with Laura Wasilowski

I did some “crafty” things in 2013, including chambray shirts decorated with orphan blocks and matching T shirts for a special baby and his special Dad:

Here are a set of placemats and two table runners from 2013:quilted placemats

leaf runner

table runner

Table runner made from a strip of leftovers

Also in 2013, I made an apron for a special friend and a caddy for carrying my iron to classes and retreats:

2013 was also a good year to make pillows for friends and to use up orphan blocks:

Well!  That’s it for special projects from 2013.  The actual quilts from 2013 are up next–more to come!

Connie Brown, A North Carolina Quilter

Connie Brown quilter

Connie Brown 

Connie Brown and I met at the Modern Quilt Guild of Asheville.  She has been juried into membership in the Southern Highland Craft Guild, a prestigious organization promoting fine Southern Appalachian crafts.  I thought you would enjoy meeting her.

Give us the quick tour of your quilting career.  How did you get started?

My husband, son, and I moved to Asheville in 1989.  I knew no one in the area, so I signed up for a quilting class at Asheville-Biltmore Technical College.  The instructor, Mary Field, was the best.  Along with quilting basics, she taught me many sewing skills and shared her knowledge and love of antique quilts and quilt history.  By the end of the class she had encouraged me to join the Asheville Quilt Guild and a weekly bee. The first few meetings I attended featured presentations by quilt historians.  I really enjoyed quilt history, so I started studying antique quilts.

When/how did you decide to “go pro” by studying quilt history and appraisal, judging shows, and joining the Southern Highland Craft Guild (SHCG)?

Connie Brown, hand quilting

Connie demonstrates quilting at a Southern Highland Craft Guild event

After a few years of making quilts and entering them in both local and national shows, I put a couple in a gallery exhibit.  To my surprise, one sold and visitors were interested in my other quilts.  I knew about the SHCG, with its shops, marketing, and educational opportunities.  After selling that quilt in the art gallery, I decided to apply for membership and was juried in during 2000.  I have my quilts in their shops and participate in several of their events, including Fiber Day and Heritage Day (where I share my beekeeping), as well as others.

When people started calling me about the value of antique quilts, or what value to place on a quilt they were entering in a show, I saw a need for a local certified quilt appraiser.  I put my years of studying quilt history and my knowledge of local quilt sales to use and focused on becoming a certified quilt appraiser.  In 2009, I was certified by the AQS (American Quilters Society) as an Appraiser of Quilted Textiles.

What is your favorite of the quilts you have made?

I love making circles and Drunkard’s Path units!  My 3 favorite quilts so far are:

Connie Brown quilter

Color Cascade

“Color Cascade aka Prints Charming”  includes more than 500 scraps.  The pattern for this quilt is in the September 2012 issue of American Quilter Magazine.  This is machine pieced and machine quilted.

Connie Brown quilt“V-Spot Target Attack” is also made entirely by machine.

Finally, “Tiffilippa” was inspired by a Tiffany lampshade.  I couldn’t throw away the trimmed off “waste”, so I used it as a border.

How much time do you spend quilting?  How do you have time to quilt, participate in guilds, keep bees, substitute teach, and still eat and sleep?

Every day I do something quilt related, whether it’s making quilts, studying, visiting an exhibit, or writing appraisals.  I always carry something to work on in my down time when I substitute teach.

How far do you travel with your quilt activities?  And what do you have coming up?

I’ll be at the Folk Art Center (on the Blue Ridge Parkway near Asheville) for National Quilting Day (March 19, 2016).  I’ll be hosting a quilt sharing day with an exhibition of 4 or 5 antique quilts, and people are invited to bring older quilts they have questions about.  I won’t be doing appraisals that day, but it’s a free event and a good opportunity for people who may have quilts they wonder about.  It can help them decide whether the quilt needs a formal appraisal.

This year I will be offering appraisals at the AQS shows in Paducah and Chattanooga as well as in Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina during the Cobblestone Quilt Show.  My fees for written appraisals are $75 per quilt, but during these events the charge is $50 per quilt. Each appraisal takes a minimum of 2 hours, including meeting with the client, travel, research and preparation, and typing the report.

To see more of Connie’s quilts, visit her webpage at southernhighlandguild.org/conniebrown

You may email Connie at mail2thebrowns@juno.com

When Good Improv Goes Bad

I really love improvisational quilting and, in fact, have been doing it for about 15 years–since before I knew improvisational quilting was a “thing”. Most of the time it works out great.

improvisational quilt

Nothing Is Wasted, my first improvisational quilt, 2001-2002

This is my first improvisational quilt, made with scraps from an Amish style quilt with yellow added.  I made it for the friend who helped me select fabrics for the original quilt.

It wasn’t easy to get good solids back then, and I ended up going to an Amish-owned store.  When I got there, I found that there WERE a lot of solids, and MANY of them were polyester blends.  Well, duh, if you don’t have an electric iron, that makes a lot of sense. Anyway, I got the solids eventually, but NOT at my local quilt shop!

Once in a while, though, the improvisation requires revision.  Maybe more than once!

Take this attempt at an improvised log cabin block, made in 2012 to use up the little maple leaves at the center.

improvised quilt

“Bad Ronald”, a failed attempt to improvise a donation quilt for Ronald McDonald House

I added too many fabrics, and even though they were in the same color families, the design did NOT gel!  That stripe, in particular, really blew it!

It took a while, but in 2015 I cut the piece up and started over, coming up with something I liked better:

donation quilt

Maple Leaf donation quilt–I guess we could call this one “Good Ronald”

And then there was this attempt at Sherri Lynn Wood’s Score #1:

improvised quilt

This came from following one of Sherri Lynn Wood’s “scores”

Which I eventually re-made into this donation quilt:

improvised quilt

The “New! Improved!” quilt

And, just to end on a positive note, let me repeat that mostly the improvisations DO work out well, like this one:

Improvised slab quilt

I cut up the yellow-orange slabs and inserted blue

Have a good week!