Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Empty Bobbins and Project Boxes

This has been a year of finishing up projects that I've deemed worthy of my time. Boxes have been emptied, and tops have been created. I've only got a couple of my own quilts quilted, but I've finished 100+ quilts for other piecers /quilters this year.

A few years ago I participated in a 1/2 sq triangle swap and they have languished in a box, just waiting for the right project.
I found it and have got these 25 fused, machine appliqued blocks into a quilt with a fabulous scrappy sashing.  Using the black and white setting to check for balance.
I love how these blocks make the applique shine.  At first I thought it might overwhelm them, but once it was all together, I couldn't be happier.  Once it's quilted, I'll do a full post on this quilt and pattern.

Here is my view from my sewing table.  You can barely see the water in this photo, but it's really closer than it looks in this photo.  3 or 4 years ago, I made a cutting error on a cream fabric.  Blocks were cut on an AccuCutter to 2" and I needed 2 1/2" blocks.  Not to worry, they would be used up at a later date.
 That date came, and I decided to make an "ocean" quilt.  The crazy idea morphed into a need for 81 blocks that contain 49 2" squares.  And I didn't want repetition so I have pieced each square, one by one!
 I had to keep track of the strips so each pile is pinned with seven strips containing seven squares.  I only need 81 of these strip packs.

Keeping a post it note attached to the inside of the box kept me from recounting over and over.  Now these need to be stitched into blocks, and set with sashing that has yet to be picked out.


We bugged out for my guy's "bucket list"  vacation.  Manhattan is such an amazing city and no matter how long I spend there, it's never long enough.  My guy will never return, but he checked off Peter Lugers Steak House and Katz Deli  from his foodie list.

I, on the other hand, wanted to hit the ground running.  Taking the time to say hello to NYC's finest is always a good idea.

I passed him on my way to the garment district.  First stop on my list was VFW Quilts.




A tiny shop that packs a punch.  Victoria carries RJR solids and they are my favorite, so I stocked up on them.  Random colors were chosen just to pump up my solids bin. 


We jumped on a cruise ship for 7 days after we exhausted ourselves in Manhattan.  Stops included Boston and Halifax.  We had a lovely day in Boston, and spent our time walking the Freedom Trail.  Once home, I was motivated to pull out these old blocks I started using Victoria's V template.
Yikes, what was I drinking when I put this one together.  Remember, there is no shame in using a seam ripper.

The above block now looks like this block.  Oh how I am loving these orange and yellow combos.

A few more choices, a few more blocks and back into the bin they go!  This is a worthy finish, just not right now.
I hope you have some projects that are worthy of finishes.  These have kept me in my studio and busy at retreat days this year.  There are a few other finishes now hanging in my closet, in line to get quilted.  Fall is here, my Dad is moving and I've been helping him a bit, we are dealing with health issues with my guy and that trumps everything, so my priority studio time is customer quilts. 

Last week I took two days and attended a one day workshop with Maria Shell and then took in the QFA Museum's annual show in Everett WA.  Click here to see all the winners.  Have you taken any workshops this fall?  Do you have any planned?  I know Houston is coming up and many of you will be making the trek.  If you are going, travel safe and have fun!

Keep stitching,
Sharon

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Corduroy Obsession - No R & R

The title of this post could stand for No Rest & Relaxation, but it really means No Rulers or Rotary.  OK, that's a bit of a white lie, I did use a rotary cutter  4-5 times to clean up a curve or two in the center of an edge where I knew if I tried to trim it back with scissors it would look like a blind barber cut it.
So how did I get to here?

I started cutting up my collection of pants on Saturday, August 4th.  It was a great day to be outside, which I highly recommend.  The little nubs of fabric create quite a mess.  I got out my sharp shears, cut off the hem, then snipped up along the seam line about 1"-2", then gave it a good tug. This allows the fabric to tear right up the grain line. I made piles of each color and then thought "oh, I'll just start with a test block".

My cutting table quickly turned to this,


.....and the floor in front of the design wall turned to this.


4 blocks 2 starts and I felt it was a bit dark.  By bringing in the apple green twill in the above photo, I got the color punch this needed.  As much as I love red, I only wanted that to be a small color accent. On the 7th, Tues night, our guild had Movie Night, and the first film clip they showed was on Gee's Bend, the makers and their quilts.  How perfect.  This just added to my energy to keep working on this piece. 



This is the first strip of green that I added and loved how it played with the other colors.  As you can see, I'm not cutting exact strips, either width or length.


Really loving the green and I've got the start of a few more blocks.  I might be on day three of this project by now.  I became obsessed with it.  I made sure I had time to work on this every day.


I had to start flipping my camera over to black and white to see how my constrast/value was coming along.  Color can trick you into thinking you have contrast, but this method is foolproof.


Here I'm testing out the dusty pink around my 9 patch center.  I liked it and went for it.


I'm getting closer to having my 12 blocks finished.  My goal was blocks that finished approx. 18" square, and I was using my cutting mat for a guideline.  Mixing up block centers added interest as well.


Back and forth, color to B & W.  This really helped me with decisions, both during the block building process and the layout of the blocks.


Here I"m playing with the last few blocks.  I'm paying attention to what color the strips are going to be on the outside edges as compared to the blocks it will live beside or above.  I'm also trying to orientate the brighter colors so the strips are going in all directions.


Here I am continuing to mix up the block placement, look at the center construction of each block and make decisions on the next blocks.  I usually worked on 2-4 blocks at a time.  I loved how working with such a controlled set of fabrics allowed me to make quicker, better decisions.  I didn't agonize much at all.  I also didn't go to my stash, stare at it, pull out 27 fabrics, audition, ponder, fold, refold, and then put away 27 fabrics.  I felt I could be more productive and creative working with this limited pile of fabrics.

With all the cut offs from longer strips, I started piecing these small sections together.  They were stitched with no regard to the quilt top or how this start would finish out.


Another block in the making.  I now have a pile of small "starts" ready for another quilt, on another day.



Now it was time to put the rows together.  I stitched the top row and used that as my guide.  The second row was put together and added on.  At this point, I could see that the bottom of this section was narrower that the top. When I pieced the 3rd and 4th rows, I measured them up against the top row, and when I added the bottom section, I pinned it heavily and worked in the little extra I needed to straighten out the bottom of this top section.


My finished goal was a top that was pretty flat, straight and square.  I succeeded.  Is it perfect? Nope and I had no expectation of that.  But being off by an 1" or so, I'm super pleased.  Even thought I didn't measure, pin, or rotary cut, I got a very good final project.  By tearing the corduroys, the fabric grain was very good.  When trimming off each round of strips, I learned that I was cutting with the corners curving out, so some small adjustments were made and my blocks were getting better.


This top was finished on Tuesday, Aug 14th.  Yes, I work.  I quilt for others and finished 4 customer quilts in this time frame, and spent a full day with my family.  I got so engaged in this "new" process and I realized how wonderful it was to work with such a limited group of fabric.

Some notes on working with corduroy.

Rip the fabric, but do this outside if you can.
Keep your vacuum close.  I used it every day in my studio, sometimes twice in one day.
Clean your sewing machine, and clean it often.
Use wider seams.
Choose block construction ideas that do not have seams all coming together in corners.
Work seams open when possible.

Here is under the throat plate area, and I had already cleaned it once in this process.


Bobbin area after one session of sewing.


These little bits will go everywhere, and even after you vacuum, you will still find them in nooks and cranny's.

Those small starts I mentioned?  Here is what I already have to work with when I decide to pull out these fabrics again. I'd say that's a good start.

The top is finished, I've stay stitched all around the outside and have a flannel back made for it.
Have you worked in this manner before?  I know I get stuck in the "decision" mode so often.  Having too many choices can sometimes hinder our creativity.  There will be more quilts in my future that use limited choices.  I can always add in something new if I think the piece needs some new friends, but this was a very good lesson for me. I've stepped through a new door in my quilt making process with this piece, and I like it!
What new ideas have you tried this year?
Keep stitching,
Sharon

Friday, August 10, 2018

Sujata Inspired Customer Quilt

M.E. is the proud creator and owner of this quilt. I want to feature it in this blog post because it is a piece that may spark some inspiration in other quilters. When I quilted it, I kept picking out colors and prints and wanted to stop quilting and get to my string basket and start sewing! That is one small downside of being a longarm quilter. So many customer pieces inspire and yet, we continue to quilt for others. I admit, this past week I've been quilting small pieces and have been happy to get to my sewing machine for some personal sewing.
But on to M's quilt.


It was created using a process outlined in Sujata Shah's book Cultural Fusion  If you don't have this book and you love color and an organic feel to your work, click the link, buy her book and savor the photos.  It's worth every penny, and she will even autograph it for you.


M likes lots of quilting on her work and if you click on the photos, you can see that she chose a variegated  multi colored thread.  All the line work was done freehand to play off the gentle curves and waves of her string piecing.  The polka dots and striped borders play off the colors in the piecing.  Curly feathers that were not "fussy" added a bit of whimsy to the line work.


The print fabric has a fantastic bird print with lots of great colors.  The birds are flying in all directions and the pinwheel setting gives motion to the piece.

Curves, strings, wavy quilt lines, a mixed bag of color and prints.

This quilt can be defined by this, taken from Wikipedia

"In philosophy, systems theory, science, and art, emergence occurs when "the whole is greater than the sum of the parts," meaning the whole has properties its parts do not have. These properties come about because of interactions among the parts."

I know, you want to run your hands over this to feel the texture.  I love that I get to visit this quilt when I visit my friend! She has kept this one for herself.


Keep stitching!
Sharon

Friday, August 3, 2018

Wild Flowers - String Applique

This piece has been under wraps for a very long time and I'm excited to finally share it with everyone. I started this piece in a Gwen Marston string workshop.  I didn't read the supply list so when she put up a sample to show what we were making, I was caught off guard.  I assumed we would be doing a free wheeling day of string sewing and cutting and piecing.  Since I brought my intended project, Gwen was gracious enough to help.  However, when I asked her to explain how she pieced her string flowers, she laughed and said "I didn't!"  Whoa, what ???  It's in her string book that I had with me.  I opened it up, went to the page and sure enough, she gave you the outline and suggested how it "could" be done.  I shared my ideas/methods,  moved forward and then Gwen taught me the value of a circle.  Thank you, Gwen.  You have pushed me far beyond my self imposed boundaries, and I am ever so grateful for that!

American Patchwork & Quilting October 2018 issue is hitting your mail box now, and the issue will be on the stands August 6th. I'm always thrilled to be part of this publication, and yet again, they have put together a stellar line up of projects for the fall.

WILD FLOWERS - pg 82 

Used with permission from American Patchwork & Quilting® magazine. ©2018 Meredith Corporation. All rights reserved.

Enlarge this one to see the quilting details.  I did ruler work behind the flowers, and then did a checker board around the border for some interest.  This was my first attempt at that border treatment, (I always practice on my own work first!)
Used with permission from American Patchwork & Quilting® magazine. ©2018 Meredith Corporation. All rights reserved.

 Here is the pattern tester, Vicki Hoth's, version.  I love how they quilted the background and the string piecing.  Super cute in the soft colors. 
Used with permission from American Patchwork & Quilting® magazine. ©2018 Meredith Corporation. All rights reserved.


This is a staged photo I took in my back yard a few years ago.  I loved using the old wooden fence, the vintage wagon wheels and whatever vegetation was growing.  I miss that fence!

Here is the cover so you can easily spot this issue on the news stands.

Used with permission from American Patchwork & Quilting® magazine. ©2018 Meredith Corporation. All rights reserved.

And here is my second version.  I used a string inset pieced border and went with bright pinks. 
I didn't want to make it "the same" so instead of appliqueing leaves, I used green perl cotton and did a big stitch outline of a leaf. 

My first version was needle turn appliqued and this one was done on the machine, using variegated threads.  The magazine wrote the pattern using Machine Applique methods.

I'd love to teach this to your group or guild.  My method of string pieced needle turn applique is super simple.  I will share techniques that transfer to any string shapes and I'd love to share it.  Book a trunk show and workshop that focuses on string piecing, have some fun and learn a new technique!

And as always, keep stitching!
Sharon