My Design Wall is Full!

Here is what my design wall looks like today! There is a lot going on…

The right hand side has to do with my two upcoming workshops at Greenville Center for Creative Arts. The first, covering hexies and Grandmother’s Flower Garden is on Saturday. Six pointed stars is in July. Click here to get more info.

At the top right, you can see a quilt emerging, made up of (hand pieced) half hexagons. There are many ways to sew them together, but this is by far my favorite. It’s such a strong graphic design. The two plain colored areas in each block are my hand dyed fabrics and I have them strewn all over the floor as I pick them out.

The black stars in the middle are six pointed stars hand pieced in a Seven Sister sort of design. Below them is a pattern, first published in Godey’s Ladies Book in the mid 1800’s, called bricks. It is also a 60 degree diamond, but the “sides” of the brick shape are elongated.

The left hand side of the board is devoted to a deconstructed lone star. Using Moda precut fabrics, I have cut out stacks of 2.5″ x 5.5″ fabrics to sew on a Quiltsmart base. I hope to be giving a talk about how to make this amazing design at Island Quilters this Fall. Lots more coming about this project!

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Wonderful Quilters

Friday was such a fun day. Each Summer the North Carolina Quilt Symposium is held somewhere in the state. This year it was in Asheville so I made a date with a friend/quilter to attend for the day.

We went to a few quilt stores on our way north and after a yummy lunch, found our way to the UNC Asheville campus. This year they had an amazing group of teachers who each brought 3 or 4 quilts to hang with the participants’ quilts. When we paid our entrance fee, we were given a plastic glove so that we could look at the back of the quilts. To be able to see the quilts very close and check out the amazing quilting on the back was such a treat! Here are some of my favorites…

Susan Cleveland:

Though I took a class with her some years ago, it must have been before I started blogging. In any case, it was her Piping Hot Bindings workshop. She is an excellent (and fun!) instructor. If you have made bindings on quilts, you can understand that a teacher has to give very simple and clear directions for everyone to understand and be successful! This quilt, Flowered and Feathered Frenzy, is full of wonderful details showcasing her class content. There is a double binding around the wonky edges. There is both machine and hand quilting; the hand quilting she calls her “Morse Code” technique.

I was quite taken by these embroidered circles. And I love the color! I had just been complaining to my friend about all the dull grey quilts that everyone seems to like now. She pointed out that Susan’s quilt was grey. It is indeed, but the colors she used are brights – not the colors with grey added. It’s just wonderful.

Melinda Bula:

You may remember that I took a class with her to make her wonderful zinnia quilt. I can’t say enough about her stunning quilts and easy-going manner in the classroom. Looking at Waratah on the computer screen, I am struck by its beautiful graphic quality. In person you see her layers and layers of machine quilting and the lovely hand dyed fabrics that she often uses.

And her Monet in Pasadena. It was a hot day in Asheville and I wanted to swim among the lily pads.

Lea McComas:

I believe I saw this quilt in a magazine and I was delighted to be able to see it up close and personal. Bike Boys is amazing – Lea used 114 threads which added up to 8 miles of stitching.

This ad below was her inspiration! This is also a good shot to see her thread painting. Can you see how thick it is?

Barbara Olson:

I have seen Barbara Olson’s quilts many times at various quilt shows. Her work is constantly evolving and I was really struck by Life Unfolding. Do click on the picture to see the amazing detail, fabrics, colors and stitching!

And her Peacock Flower. (The Guild labeled this Stroke of Blue but on her website it is called Peacock Flower.) Talk about juicy color…

What is it about seeing art or fine craft in person? I feel refreshed and energized. I hope you do as well!

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Weave a Potholder!

About a year ago, I bought an inexpensive loom at a big box store. It was not called a potholder loom and when I opened the box I realized why – the loopers are nylon and would melt if gotten too hot! The loom is smaller than I remembered and I had forgotten how much the fabric “shrinks” after it is taken off the loom. It results in about a 5″x5″ square. Really too small for getting hot items out of the oven. The colors are very pretty and it certainly will work well as a mug rug.

Recently I broke down and bought a big Harrisville Designs loom. My excuse was that my niece and family were planning a visit and she always likes me to have a craft project for them. Peter and I both wove one and he didn’t think he had ever made a potholder before.

My niece had planned a busy weekend of college visits for her youngest and I thought there would be little time for play. I had this basket on the kitchen table when they came home one day and they all said “what’s this stuff???” During the weekend three of them found the time for weaving.

This size loom makes a very useable square – about 8″. And this project is a two-fer; it’s both fun and useful! A friend commented that the loopers are expensive. Yes, they are, but they are knitted in the US and they are cotton and they come in gorgeous colors. I bought the brights colorway plus white and black; you can also buy bags of single colors or several mixes. Harrisville sells loopers in the small size so you can order lovely loopers for the loom you have.

One of the boys used the colors of SC State for his potholder. I told him that he could say that his great aunty made it, but he said, no, he would certainly tell his roommates that he had made it. Good man!

If you are a weaver, you can use the potholder loom to play with color & weave effects. The green, black and white potholder (in the Philadelphia Eagles colors!) is a 3 strand repeat, for instance. And to make this design process even more fun, Harrisville has a potholder designer! Check it out here, it’s lots of fun to fiddle with.

When was the last time you wove a potholder? When you were small, did you have a potholder loom? I do recall making them, but can’t remember where or when. If you like to make pretty and useful items, then I do suggest you buy yourself a loom – they are not just for kids. And if you have fun-loving relatives, then you must get one. I have already started a new one…

{N.B. I am not promoting Harrisville Designs for any reason other than they make a great loom! And they are the only ones who make a large size loom.}

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Patchwork Couch-Pillows

I have been eyeing these tiny  blue and white quilt pieces and feeling fairly sure that they weren’t going to become a quilt, but I’d pieced quite a lot and didn’t want to throw them out. One day genius struck and I took them downstairs to the new couch and these four squares fit perfectly on the (matching) (dull) pillows that came with the couch. Yippee!

Tiny Delectable Stars

This is something that I do frequently. Matching pillows on a couch are pretty dull… Here is a couch-pillow slipcover that I made for the Colorado brown loveseats using fun bits of fabrics in my stash.

Brown batiks

In the Colorado Summers, I covered the loveseats with denim slipcovers and made these two cases from my wonderful Asian fabric stash. I hand stitch one end of the cover, so it’s easy enough to rip out the stitches and change the brown covers to the blue ones. (I’m too lazy to sew zippers…)

Asian blue pillows

This Delectable Stars pattern was made using foundation piecing and this is what it looks like when all the paper is (carefully) ripped off. Quite the mess!

Paper piecing detrius

I love to sew triangles, but they are nasty when it comes to pressing. It involves some careful pressing and then a lot of mashing with a steamy iron.

So many triangles

And here it is quilted and in place on the couch! I quilted it way more than I needed to do for just a pillow, but I wanted to be sure to highlight the piecing pattern. And it was good practise for the big Delectable Stars quilt, should I ever finish that one.

Blue pillow

 

Weaving Inspiration: Plaids & Stripes

I have decided to join the many weavers who are weaving dish towels…. It’s about time I gave rag runners a rest and got into some fabric making!

Designing an interesting plaid or stripe fabric isn’t as easy as it might seem.I like to look around me for inspiration. When a fabric catches my eye, I check out the width of the stripes, whether a plaid is balanced or unbalanced, and unusual color combinations. I even have a stripe page on Pinterest. But my favorite place to look is men’s shirts! Men are so lucky! For some reason, their designers come up with luscious color stories. When I am in a store with both men’s and women’s clothing, I find myself on their side…

One of the many reasons I love living in the South are the colors of the clothing. Here is a selection of juicy (men’s) shirts. Whether or not they are the colors I want to use, these plaids give me inspiration.

Men's plaid shirts

In the end, I didn’t warp anything of great interest. For my humble dish towels I chose a simple unbalanced stripe, which can be woven in a stripe or in checks.

Dishtowel start

I haven’t woven anything so fine in forever and thought I should start out simply. It’s slow going, (I’m using 8/2 cotton) but the rhythm and the process of making cloth is wonderful.

Weaving towels

 

An Exciting Friday Finish!!!

It has been excessively hot and humid here; we’ve had days and days of over 90 degree heat. The gardens are growing away and though it’s time to re-plant some veggies, they don’t need my attention. And of course the weeds are growing too, but oh well. So I’ve been indoors more, working on the Double Nine Patch quilt top. Sewing the squares together on the diagonal means that they get quite large and unwieldy and do not fit on the design board anymore.

Double nine patch sewing

This middle strip is 104″ long and if you are good at geometry, you get that!

Too big for design wall!

Those of you who follow my blog know that I don’t often finish projects, so this is A Red Letter Day. The Double Nine Patch top is nearly done! In looking through my blog posts, I found that I started it last July, so this isn’t a bad finish for me…

Triple Nines!

To complete the top, I need to decide how long the border strips will be, so that the quilt will tuck under our thick new mattress. The color inspiration was the scrap of fabric on the headboard. Though the windows have shutters and don’t need curtains, I plan to make some to break up all the wall space. {And re-paint the walls…}

Triple Nines color inspiration

I actually finished on Thursday and was all set to photograph the quilt on our bed – but – His Nibs was napping and I didn’t want to bother him. ;-D

Gizmo's nap

I’m doing a little happy dance now…

Fiddling with Color

I promised myself that when I started making the extra 5 wheels for the enlarged quilt design, that I wouldn’t be too fussy. As I said in the last post about this – my plan was to quickly pick colors and sew them. Ha! With the wheels done, I thought I should assemble everything on the design wall and give it a look. Ha again!

Double Nine Patch mock-up

The wheel in the bottom row, middle, bothers me. Even Peter noticed it when he eyed my progress the other day. It’s not that I need them to match or I would have used the same fabrics for each wheel. But that one sticks out! Why? I finally decided that it was the yellow that offended me and made the wheel way colder than the others. Truth be told, most of the wheels are not in my “color comfort zone”. I have been purposely trying to make them cool and not as ferociously bright as I usually make my quilts.

Wrong colors...

One of these oranges looks like it will help that wheel be friendlier with the others…

Better color...

The topic of being too fussy and re-doing projects is often kicked around by those of us who make things. I have learned over the years, that if it bothers me, it bothers me and it had better come out! The last thing Peter wants to hear before we get into bed is “Why didn’t I change that wheel? I do not like the colors!”.

Once I sew this wheel, I am going to stop being overly critical of the others and get the double nine patches done.

What are you ripping out today???

Back to the Double Nine Patch

At least I’m trying to work on it! The yard has been very demanding this year and the weeds have been dreadful. It hasn’t helped that we have bought a lot of perennials and shrubs to plant. And the vegetable gardens have been producing like mad. English peas, spinach and lettuce are done, but we’re enjoying snow peas and squashes and carrots. The baby tomatoes are still green; the big ones starting to flower. Strawberries are here for another week or so and peaches started awhile back. Life is good!

I can be very messy and scattered, but I am careful with quilting projects. I never throw away anything while I am working on a top. Nothing goes in the trash until the binding is sewn on the quilt. It’s a good practise and it’s made life easy to get back to making more wheels for the Double Nine Patch quilt. The original quilt had four wheels and now I need a total of nine, so I have been creating lots of colorways. This time around I’m not being so particular in the fabric choices! I’ve been rooting through the batik shelves and cutting wedges in colors/fabrics I like and pinning them up. And then I start moving them around to see who plays well together while referencing the four that are completed. This is the view from my desk area where it’s easy to see what goes with what.

More wheel colors

When I am happy with a color combination, I sew it together. (3 to go.) Slowly, but surely, I am making progress.

Making wheels

I went to the fabric store the other day and the fabric I used for the backgrounds of the original four is gone, so I chose a new one. That will mean some re-arranging of the original blocks, but it’s always fun to have to adapt. And really, the scrappier the better.

The First Runner/Mat Design

Did you notice that I am weaving again???

Peter took the loom apart more than usual for the move and so I needed his help to get her together again. While gathering her pieces, he decided that she needed to be oiled and cleaned. Wasn’t that nice of him? Doesn’t every girl like to be fussed over? While he was working on her over several days, I got cold feet about what I might weave on her first. What did I want to weave and would I remember how to do everything? I feel this way after every move. So of course I decided to start simply and making my usual rag runner/mats seemed safe. My first idea came from a quilt on a Modern Quilt website that I thought it was a bit dull for a quilt, but seemed like it might make an interesting rag runner/mat. I found some leftover muslin fabric from Santa making for the center section and I have lots of  bits of hand dyed cotton samples which I stripped into 2″ pieces to add at either end. It was a bit fussy to weave, but I am very pleased with the result.

Fussy striped woven runner/mats

I meant to measure the runners before washing them, but I was too excited! Shrinkage after washing is a fact of weaving and it annoys me when weavers sell pieces (which will eventually need to be washed) and don’t wash them! When it looks entirely different after washing, the customer thinks something is wrong or that it was poorly constructed…

These mats are much “messier” than I usually weave with rags. Adding colored strips on either selvedge is a bit tricky and then the spliced overlap of the natural and colored fabrics really shows. After working on it for awhile, I decided not to fret. I like the nubbly texture and the selvedges are pretty darn even given what I was weaving. I don’t usually do anything special where the center of the runner/mat will be. That area usually has candles, or a bowl of fruit or things like salt and pepper or pickles or jam!

I was planning to use this runner on the kitchen table, but decided I would prefer it in the diningroom. I put the runners across the table, so we can use them as placemats, hence the term runner/mat. I bought these multi colored plates many years ago at Tang’s Department store in Singapore. I have always loved them and I think they look very special on this runner/mat.

It feels good to have finally woven something!

{Should you need tips on Macomber looms:  http://macomberloomsandme.blogspot.com }

 

 

 

 

Dresden Star Designing

I am anxious to make something with the Dresden Star pattern, by Edyta Sitar of Laundry Basket Quilts. It is an interesting pattern with an unusual construction technique. In Edyta’s class, we bought a kit, which included fabrics, the pattern and templates. At first look, I was fairly sure I didn’t like the fabrics but I figured I could work with them…

Dresden Star pieces

During lunch, I went to her booth and bought a few of her (lovely) batiks to add in. Even adding more fabrics didn’t do it…these ain’t my colors.

Dresden Star layout idea

I understand why teachers supply kits. With a kit, they know that you have everything you need to make the pattern with little fuss and bother. Many years ago, I was in a class where we needed a lot of fabrics for a very scrappy quilt pattern. A local woman showed up with a suitcase of fabric! She proudly laid the fabric pieces out on a table for the teacher to see and admire. The teacher was appalled as the woman had bought the whole Fall and Winter collections of Hoffman fabrics. It was 100 plus fat quarters! The upshot of this was that the woman spent the whole class fiddling with her stash and never got to sewing. She couldn’t make up her mind or perhaps couldn’t bear to cut into the fabric. I am certainly guilty of fretting over fabric choices so I have come to terms with kits. When I got home and looked at the class project, I knew that the colors were not going to work for me. So I finished up the Dresden Star that I started in class to practise more of the technique and think where I wanted to go next, color-wise.

In class, Edyta recommended a large, medium and a small print as well as a stripe and a dot. I really didn’t like the large prints, so I looked for  teeny, tiny and medium prints. And I think one of the many reasons I like her quilts is that she mixes batiks in as well. I cannot understand why quilters can’t just see batiks as fabrics! I thought it would be fun to use a batik flower fabric for the middle and dark purples for the stars.

Debbie's dresden star fabrics

Here is the final cutting. Much as I love those batiks, I decided that the flower-y middle was too busy!

Debbie's dresden star cutting

After sewing the star, I had a lot of trouble deciding on a background for it. I won’t show you all the fabrics I pulled out and auditioned! I wanted a background to blur or tone down the colors, because I think that’s what I like about Edyta’s quilt. This water-y batik seemed to do what I wanted. But I don’t love it…it doesn’t sing to me. I’m not sure what I will try next.

Debbie's Dresden Star