Friday, November 6, 2015

Then and Now

It's great to look back at quilts of days gone by.  I recently took some time to refold and reorganize my stack of quilts that reside in my spare room.  After looking at a few of them, I decided to snap a few pictures of this one and blog about it. 

This is a Blooming' 9 Patch and it came to fruition after my first visit to Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show.  I went with a non quilter and after we were on quilt overload, we headed out of town to find our car parked way down the road into Sisters.  I stopped to take a final glace at the town, and saw a Blooming 9 patch done up in blues.  I was drawn to it like a magnet.

After pondering how this was put together, another viewer pointed out the corner and showed me how it was pieced.  I was captivated by this organized chaos.  We continued to our car, and headed back to the I-5 via Salem.  That required a stop at Greenbaums.  The doors were being locked as the last few customers left and I was 1/2 way down the block when my gf mentioned she saw the book that this blue quilt was in.  I hurried back, knocked on the door and made my final purchase of the day.

I love this quilt, although I don't decorate with pink and am not really drawn to this color.  Now that it's been many years, I looked at this with different eyes last week.  I love how I made it go from light to dark and back to medium values, that was not planned. Here's where I would change it up, I used a gingham check after the center toile, and it lacks the movement of the rest of the fabrics.  That's truly the only change I would make after all these years. 

It was interesting to look at this in a new light.  We evolve and our tastes change, but to still love something after moving to a whole new genre of quilting and fabrics is surprising and it makes me smile!
Keep stitching,
#grassrootsquilting on Instagram

Monday, November 2, 2015

Just Face It!

It was time to put one of my own designs onto the longarm and I wanted to cross hatch the whole piece.  Not a problem except the blocks were 20" and I would have WAY to many stops and starts in the middle of open spaces.  After some discussion with my gal pal  about loading the quilt 'on point' and then doing the stitching straight across I decided to do a test run on a smaller piece.

I started by lining up the center of the quilt top from left to right to make sure the center row of stitching would go directly across the top, then I stitched the rows up towards the top point. After that, I rolled to the center and stitched the bottom half.

The one discovery was that I should have used a full piece of batting instead of putting the batting on  point like the quilt. When I rolled the piece, it was funky. Lesson #1 learned.

After turning the quilt, I had to line up the piece so I had an exact straight line again, left to right. Lesson #2 learned. This seemed easy in theory, however there was a bit of fussing involved.

Since this was a test piece, I figured I'd keep on testing and for the first time, I faced one of my pieces.  I have another piece waiting in the wings that a binding would not do it justice, so here is my first attempt at facing a quilted piece.
Lesson #3 was clipping and grading the seams in the corners to get a good turn. 

It pays to have a small test piece when you want to try out new techniques. After all this, my original piece did not get cross hatched, nor did it get faced. But this piece got finished, almost by default and I call that a win! One more finish from the sewing room. Yeah for me!

Keep on stitching,

Friday, October 30, 2015

Three Long Weeks

No, it's been longer than that since I last posted.  Three weeks is how long it took me to do this.

Yes, this book sat on my counter for three weeks before I finally unwrapped the cellophane cover.  I wanted to make sure I had the time to sit and soak up  all the info at the beginning of this book. It did not disappoint.

I know others have posted about this book, but seriously, I cannot imagine a quilter not loving this book.  When I think of two color quilts, immediately Red and White is what has always come to my mind.  I know there are other great two color quilts, but really, this book has quilts that will give you goose bumps.

Although it's been over 4 years since the show, opening up the book brought me right back to standing in a crowded foyer at the Armories, waiting for the doors to open. And when they did, the sight literally brought tears to my eyes. I had the same emotion when I opened up this book and flipped through the pages. I have only casually pursued the photos, but saw enough to know that this book will be a go to for years to come. When I came across the page with my favorite quilt, (I know, how could you pick just one out of 653) I told my guy, "That quilt was hanging up on the back wall, I can close my eyes and see it right now." And sure enough, when I searched out the photos of the room, there it was, hanging up on the back wall!

Maybe one day I'll recreate it, but until then, I have my memories and the book!

Keep stitching,

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The Process of...............

This is a shout out to local quilter's in the Bellingham, WA area.  There has been a last minute opening in my 6 month workshop called, The Process Of...............

This came about after meeting with quilter's for 12 months during our What Not's Demo Days.  Some of the members wanted to continue to meet and learn or brush up on techniques.  These workshops will run the first Sat of the month for 6 months, and it's very affordable.  Only $15 per month with a 6 month commitment.

During the first month we will be discussing and learning the process of drafting out blocks, changing their size, drafting out your own quilt pattern and learning how to make templates from these drawings.  Before we wrap up the  2 hour class, the members will put out their wants, needs, and goals of the workshop.  Those ideas will be the building blocks of the future meetings.

I am a process teacher, I want you to learn how to make good blocks, so your quilt will be flat, straight, and square (or rectangle *vbg*).  The blocks you create in the workshop will all be your own choice, and at the end you will have some great pieces to put into your own original quilt or use as samples for future projects.  I've done this workshop before with a commercial pattern and the feedback from quilter's was wonderful.  One student emailed and told me she has never had her blocks go together so well as those from our workshop.  Yeah to that !!!

OK, if you are local, come on, join in the fun.  We will meet 1st Sat of the month, starting in October.  Class is 10:30 - 12:30 at Fabric Etc. in Bellingham , WA.   Click the link and give Carol a shout if you are interested in this great class.


Sunday, August 16, 2015

BOM Struggles aka Old Voices, New Impressions

I know that BOM' s (block of the month) quilts are very popular with many people.  I signed up for one early on in my quilting adventure and it's one of my favorite quilts to this day.  It was not without issues, though. Then I jumped into another one several years later because it was all 30's prints and I rode the crazy train about different shades of Kona Snow.  Ha, life struggles kicked in and made that a complete non issue in the roadmap of life and I did finish that top.  JT2 sits in a box, gathering dust.

 And yet, here I go again.  Old Voices, New Impressions. Not really a BOM, more of a sew along.  Make 4 blocks per month for the next 6 months, easy, right?  Except I chose to make this project using the fusible machine appliqued method. This seems to generate a bit of a mess for me and once again, I realized why I do not like BOM's.  I get everything out, and I just want to stay on task.  If I need to make 240 flying geese for the finished project, please tell me that in the first pattern. Make 12, then 18, then another  12, well, this doesn't work for me. I'm more of a  production mode kind of quilter 

Here is the status of my cutting table the last few weeks! Not fun when I have to square up a customer backing for quilting.

Plus making a scrappy project means working with scraps. I dig into my scrap basket on a regular basis and this is what my sewing room looks like at any given time. Cleaning and putting everything away to take it all back out in a few weeks and repeat this cycle just does not work for me.

The first blocks were fast, very little decision making required.  Select bright prints and colors and make the block. Then the hard part sets in, the last 6 or so blocks. This is when I put all the blocks up and arrange how I think they will go. 5 bird blocks so one for each corner and one for the center.    I started playing with the remaining backgrounds for balance. I can't have 2 striped shirting  prints side by side.  I'm sure you understand this!

Then I pinned up the patterns of the remaining blocks and the decisions became harder and narrower. 4 wreath type blocks can surround the center block. 2 baskets, one for each side. Trying to balance out colors and prints meant every piece of fabric had to be vetted. Did I use that in a neighboring block? Oh, that was the bird wing, I can't make it a flower center. I used that red for berries in that block, go back and pick another red. Do I make the stems brown or green? If I use green, do I pick one with yellow, or a muted green? And so it goes on and on............

Here are all the prepped blocks on the wall. I also had to balance out that brighter background with the one darker background block. I thought about replacing them, but I think they will add some interest when it's all together and quilted.

I started playing with some sashing ideas. I have a box full of these 1/2 sq tri's from a long ago swap.  Hmmm, something to ponder once all the blanket stitching has been done.  The bird in the corner is my one of my favorite blocks and it might end up back in the center.  It lived there for a while,  but I don't have to make those decisions for some time.

Here are a few close-up shots of the blocks. Again, not much has been stitched down, that will be my winter project. As usual, click pictures for larger shots. 

All the blocks have been put away. I store them on a pant hanger with a zip bag around them and that takes much less space than another box in my sewing room.

Ahhhhh, here is my basket of CW fabric with my basket of scraps. So organized and neat and tidy.

And I've reclaimed my cutting table. No more bits of fusible, light box has been tucked away, scraps and test fabrics and pieces that didn't make the cut are all cleaned up.

Thank you Lori, at Humble Quilts, for instigating this. Karen, sorry I didn't stick to the plan. I love these blocks, and I know it will be a great winter project for me. I've already picked the next quilt box to open up and get to work on. But this next one is a 2 color quilt, the blocks are made and I'm onto the setting strips. No decisions left, just the process of pinning, stitching, and pressing!

Keep on stitching,

Monday, August 3, 2015

Old Voices, New Impressions

I'm sure you've seen several posts with the title in the last week.  Karen and Nancy  have shown their blocks and I'm sure Lori, aka Humble Quilts will show hers off some time this month. Yup, I've jumped in and am going to do my best to stay up to date on this quilt along.  Now that Whatnot's is finished, I have a little extra time in my sewing room.  I like to take a break from the longarm several times during the day, and a little machine applique is the perfect task for me right now.

Four blocks per month, and we started in July.  OK, four blocks are looking good.  Please do not look at my blocks for reference.  I am doing fusible machine applique and I did not "flip for fusible".  ALL my blocks will be mirror image but there are no blocks that will make this look odd.

But since I had everything out, I thought I'd just keep marking the fusible web with more shapes from more blocks.  I've also tried to make mine a bit different than the pattern by not looking at the color pictures.  I'm striving for brightness from the appliqued  pieces against the creamy backgrounds.

Four became eight and now there are four more.  But don't get too excited about my progress.  These blocks are simply prepped.  Now comes the investment of time to get all the blanket stitching done around each shape.  I started with green, and got quite a bit done. 

This is the only block that is completely finished.  OK, I still need to stitch the stems with dark brown.  It's the closest one to finished. 

Here is the group of them together. I am LOVING this quilt. I have chosen 25 different shirting prints for backgrounds and tried to stay away from the whiter ones. Patterns were blown up 100% and I cut the backgrounds 12 1/2". They may get trimmed down and stitched edge to edge or there might be some sashing around the blocks. That decision will be made once all 25 blocks are together.

Old Voices, New Impressions by Jeana Kimball is the book that we are using.  I have several of her books, and they are great to have in your library.  c'mon, join along!  If you don't have this book, pick another appliqued project and have some fun!  My goal is to have 4 blocks completely stitched by the 15ht of each month. I think that's a reasonable goal.

Keep stitching,

Sunday, July 26, 2015

When Inspiration Hits

Sometimes we see something that clicks in our brain and we just HAVE to do something with the spark.  It might be a piece of fabric, an architectural design, a new way of looking at a ruler or template, or it might be........a rug.

This isn't my story, but I must share it with my fellow quilters as it's quite remarkable.  My phone rang one day in June and a lady on the other end says, "I have a quilt that needs to be finished".  She was referred to me from another customer, (thank you Nancy) and showed up at my studio with this quilt.  MLW started telling me she wasn't a quilter, but that she has been working on this project, on and off, for 10 years.  Apparently it was "lost" for a few years.  We wouldn't know anything about that, right? (*wink*) 

After much searching online and pondering design ideas for the navy blue negative space, we finalized a design that was both circular and linear.  She also wanted Stitch in the Ditch around all the patchwork.  Can you see me tremble?  This baby is 116" wide.....

And now click on the picture below.  See all that jute cording around the piecing?  She couched that on every block before she constructed the quilt, and in the process, this covered up the ditch.

The upside of that? It was much easier to do the ruler work around all the blocks.  The sashing running through the blocks was all diamonds, with a fabulous Kaffe stripe and MLW rotated every second block to achieve the same look as the rug that sits at the foot of her bed in her Mexican getaway.

There were a few issues along the border of the patchwork that needed a bit of cleaning up, and after 10 years, we found that that the back was not big enough .  So off to the store she goes, and returned with this fabulous cheddar piece that I inset down the middle and it is gorgeous. 

For someone who claims to "not be a quilter" the work was extraordinary. The ruler work was a delight, as her piecing was spot on, the pressing was suburb, and this makes a machine quilter's job so much more enjoyable. Since the navy rows were hand guided, they are not perfect. I loved stitching out this motif, I could see it as a fabulous border design on something. It was a perfect combo for this quilt.
When MLW picked up her quilt, I told her she should continue to quilt. The workmanship was so wonderful and she made this whole piece because of the inspiration she got for her rug. Can you imagine what else she might make? I hope to see something else from this talented crafter.

Keep stitching,