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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The Finish of Nick & Two Tips!

 

Peter came in one day to check on Nick and started laughing. I was sitting at my desk area and asked what was so funny. He replied that I had better watch out for his crotch area… Of course everything would be trimmed when I completed the fusing, but it was funny nonetheless. You can see that I was auditioning two sets of eyes and wondering how bright should his nose be.

I fiddled around for a week or so and here is his final face…

Nick is very large (about 40″x40″) and he hung over the edges of the office table that I use in the studio to work on. To do the final fusing and cut him out, I used the dining room table. Here he is cut out and ready to glue (!) on the background fabric.

Marking lines for machine quilting was no picnic! Every resourceful quilter knows to tape rulers together to get the lengths they need. (Tip #1) – I very much like the washable blue marker, but it was a mistake in this case. I was not able to immerse the quilt in water and I spritzed and spritzed with water to get the blue out. I did it so much that the red fabrics started to bleed!

I have mentioned this tool before, but it bears repeating! (Tip #2) – here I am quilting straight lines using my Sweet 16. I have practised holding a ruler with my left hand and moving the fabric with my right and inevitably the ruler shifts and I go off track. Jenny of QuiltSkipper recommended this Line Tamer Template by FourPawsQuilting, and it works so well.

Here is Nick on the wall of Island Quilters, next to his relative, Ebba.

I took Nick’s portrait before I sent him off to Island Quilters. I am looking forward to seeing him hang over our mantlepiece next December!

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MERRY CHRISTMAS!

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One More Batch of AQS Phoenix Quilts!

I meant to get to this sooner, but life gets in the way sometimes. There is one more group of quilts to share with you. It really was a good show and I found lots to study and admire. There is something for everyone to enjoy in these shows, that’s for sure!

This one comes first because of its colors. In a sea of brightly colored quilts, this beauty quietly waited for a closer inspection. This quilt is Trellis by Mary Owens. I think the design is lovely – and –

Trellis by Mary Owens

— be still my heart – it’s hand quilted! I want you to see this detail. I was standing in front of it and another woman came and stood with me. After a bit she asked me why the quilt looked so soft! Hand quilting and piecing will do that.

Detail Mary Owens Trellis

This elegant quilt is Celestial Orbs Sylvia Schaefer. The simplicity of the design and the circular quilting is amazing, and she sells this pattern if you’d like to make one.

Sylvia Schaefer Celestial Orbs

I wandered around the convention hall late on Friday afternoon when the crowds had gone home, and enjoyed the quilt show almost alone; and I saw some quilts I’d missed! This colorful quilt is called Yellow Sky and is by Shirley Gisi. She lives in Colorado – might you have guessed? The colors sing and the simple quilting echoes the design.

Yellow Sky by Shirley Gisi

Summer Storm by Peg Collins also has amazing use of color and simple quilting. I think the design is so fresh and pleasing.

Summer Storm by Peg Collins

And of course you know that I save the best for last. This is my favorite quilt; I love, love, love it! I saw it in some quilt magazine or other and thought it was wonderful. And lucky me, I got to admire it in person. It’s called Golden Temple of the Good Girls, by Susan Carlson.

Susan Carlson, Golden Temple of the Good Girls

Here’s a close up for you to admire the delicious fabric choices, lovely quilting and of course, the sweet girls.

Susan Carlson Golden Temple of the Good Girls close up

Upon reading her website and blog, I found that the quilt is a fabric collage! Susan has a lot of information on her work and this blog post talks about designing this quilt. Though you can get quite close up to the quilts in the AQS shows, I had no idea. No wonder the piece has such a richness to it.

Hope you enjoyed my show and tell. Any favorites???

 

Snapping & Snipping the Zinnias

I love zinnias! For me, they are the official flower of Summer. I bought two kinds to plant this year and planted them all over. I can never have too many zinnias! I always buy assorted colors because I enjoy the surprise of what comes up. I know a woman who buys the same three colors every Summer and I think “what’s the fun in that?”. When you have so many colors, cutting the flowers for arrangements is such a treat. But I’m not a Type A, for sure.

The zinnia plants are huge this year! Whether it’s the South Carolina weather or the fertilizer I apply once a week, many of them are over 5 feet tall.

Zinnia season

First I snap pictures of them. I am planning on designing some quits a la Melinda Bula and I need references. I have a quilt top using her zinnia pattern ready to quilt, but I have some ideas of my own to try.

Red zinnia

One of the zinnias is your garden variety (;-D), but the second kind I planted are called peppermint stick –  a variety I discovered years ago. It’s an heirloom that doesn’t germinate as well as the others, but I love the shibori-like look of them. Each one has its own pattern. Some have the tiniest marks

Barely Peppermint

and some have bold stripes

Bold peppermint

and this year a half and half colored one has appeared! Each flower is perfectly divided in half as is the middle. It’s a curious one for sure.

Half and half zinnia

There are some whose seeds I am going to collect for next year because their colors are so amazing. This magenta color doesn’t seem to photograph well – the color is much more intense than this…

Magenta zinnia

After photographing the flowers, then I snip them to bring indoors to enjoy. I’m wondering how many more week of Summer-like, zinnia friendly weather we have…

 

My Summer Garden Quilt

This is the working title for the quilt I’m making for the guild challenge. I need to take it to the meeting the first week of March, so I decided I had better get back to it.

The seed packages themselves are like tiny quilts and working on them is fun, but I have been mulling over what to attach them to. The design idea in my head is that the packets are scattered on some kind of surface and I’ve been deciding where to plant them in the garden. I’d like to attach a pencil and perhaps a “real” piece of graph paper with a garden design drawn on it. This quilt is being transported to and from the meeting and the show by me, so I don’t have to worry about shipping it and having the paper crunch or the pencil fall off.

I’ve spent the morning auditioning fabric for the background. Here is one idea for a “tablecloth”. This is a piece of fabric from my stash.

Tablecloth idea

Here is a napkin that looks like a tablecloth because of the border design. I would un-hem it, of course, because it must be quilted.

Another tablecloth

And here is a real placemat, with the correct dimensions. (The quilt has to be larger than 12″.) It’s nice, but it was made in India and is printed on a sort of canvas. Because of the stiffness, this would be nasty to quilt!

Placemat idea

When I’m designing a quilt, the elements that I need to work out seem to run in the back of my head in a subliminal sort of way while I’m doing other things and often a great idea pops up at an unexpected time. Taking pictures and looking at them on the computer screen helps me see the design in a different way as well. And it’s always nice to have fresh eyes looking as well…

Any thoughts???

Quilt Guild Challenge Quilt

I have joined a local quilt guild and they announced the theme and rules for their annual challenge quilt a few months ago. I’ve had it on my mind but was diverted by house projects and then the month of December. The quilts are due at the March meeting, so I thought I should get moving on my idea. I have not been feeling well, but the idea of a new project perked me up.

The title of the challenge is Express Yourself and must contain words. It can be any shape measuring from  12″ – 30″on a side. I had several ideas, but as I was looking through the January seed catalogs, the idea of seed packets popped in my head. This is the first year in forever that we are planning a vegetable garden! Another design source for the idea may have come from The Hudson Valley Seed Library. Every year they sell lovely collectible seed packets designed by artists. There are a variety of interesting techniques I can incorporate into this idea, fusing, beading, hand drawing or rubber stamping to name a few. I pulled out some vegetable, fruit and floral fabrics that I thought might work. The unbleached fabric they are sitting on will be the packet base.

Seed packet fabric choices

The standard size of a seed packet is 3.5″ x 4.5″. I cut a piece of paper to see if that was a feasible size to make mine. I have a selection of alphabet stamps and wanted to make sure that the letters would be the right size for the envelope – and they are. Then I looked through my fusing fabrics – I have quite a selection because every teacher I’ve taken a class with likes a different brand! I picked out the one I like the best (with no markings, I’m not sure what I’m using) and ironed it on the sunflower fabric. Cutting out fused fabric is going to be fun, not to mention it’s a quiet, stress free project for me to do when I’m feeling poorly. My plan is to make several seed packets and then determine what they should be fused to….

Sunflower seeds

I continue to have problems with the quilt I’m trying to get done for the show. I don’t like to complain, but it’s been one thing after the other. The worst problem has been trying to get the tension correct for the free motion quilting. My Bernina store won’t do private lessons, so I’m on my own here. I finally googled machine-quilting-tension and read a bunch of blog posts on the topic. Many suggested putting the top tension at 0, and leaving the feed dogs up while using the slide-y thing. That has helped, though I don’t understand why this would make a difference!

Problem quilting

I thought I was buzzing along with the background quilting the other day, but then I decided that the variegated thread I was using “showed” too much. The “star” of the show, should be the stars, not my (poor) quilting. In the front of the picture is the variegated thread and in back you can see what I did with white, which looks like shadows rather than being so prominent. So I ripped out the offending thread. I cannot tell you how much I have ripped out. Now I think my machine doesn’t like the white thread. {:-0} I was tying in ends yesterday and noticed a lot of skipped and gobby areas on the back…. So I pulled out that section and am heading to the quilt store when I post this to look for some other brands of white thread. At this rate, this quilt may not be done for this years’ show!

Melinda Bula’s Zinnia

A lot of designers are in high dudgeon over Pinterest and what they perceive as a greater opportunity to rip off their patterns. I have found Pinterest to be a great source of inspiration and information, though it can be an amazing time waster! It was on someone’s board that I discovered Melinda Bula and I can’t understand how I have missed her quilts. Her flower designs are exquisite, with layers of shading and highlights that make them sing. I like her realism and longed to take a class with her – – –

– and my wish has been granted! I have just returned from the Fall Quilt Festival in Houston and two days of classes with her. Zinnias are a favorite flower of mine. They come in so many wonderful colors and when I grow them, they are the foundation of my summer flower arrangements. When I received the Houston show brochure, I hurriedly scanned the classes and saw that the zinnia class was being offered, once, and I got in. Here is a bouquet of three! Can you see why I was delighted to take this class?

A kit and fabrics are provided and though I normally dislike fabric packs, this was a good thing. I would have wasted time fretting over value choices. Melinda hand dyes the fabrics and because of her knowledge of the pattern, puts together some interesting combinations. First I needed to get fabric samples on the value chart as a reference.

After using Steam-a-Seam 2 to fuse the fabrics, the next task was to pin the pattern pieces on the fabrics. You can see there are about 10 values and many, many petals.

There was lots and lots and lots of cutting. I had two pairs of scissors and switched using them so I only got a hot spot and not a blister. There was a lot of cutting.

After lunch and a much-needed break, it was time to create the flower. Using one of the Steam a Seam papers to cover the pattern guide, I placed the petals according to the flower map. The petals are coded in several ways, which makes this step easier than you might think. It’s sort of like color by number but seriously more fun!

As I mentioned, we all had different fabric kits. This is my table mate with her middle done and her zinnia on her background fabric. She worked in her room during lunch so she got lots completed.

Melinda is a tireless teacher and was incredibly supportive and generous with information. She also told lots of funny stories while we diligently cut or placed.

It was a long but wonderful day. Thanks Melinda, I can’t wait to finish my zinnia!

More from IQA: Florals

This is a loose grouping of some more quilts. They were in several different categories at the show but they all have some sort of flowers in them, created in many different ways.

I took a Baltimore Album quilt class in the early 1990’s and I tend to whiz by those quilts at any show; sort of a been-there-done-that response. I did stop short at this one. Not only are the squares original and exquisite, but there is a dimension to it. Here is : “Mi Amor” by Margarete Heinisch of CA.

And here is one of the squares. Can you see that the lady’s skirt isn’t flat?

And I am generally not a fan of roses, but when they are done well, it’s impressive! Do notice, in this wonderfully made square, that the quiltmaker doesn’t take it too seriously – do you see the circle of bugs in the center? Very fun!

Here is a quilt by IL quiltmaker, Anne Lullie. It’s called “Flaming Mandelas”. This is a fused quilt. She designs and makes very stylish quilts, full of color.

Right next to it was a very bright and beautiful piece. This is “Spring Nouveau” by Heidi Lund of WA.

My floral category is a stretch for this quilt, but…. This is “Chromatic Transitions” by Rachel Wetzler of IL. The theme of this is certainly color. There is so much of it and she handled it so well. I also like the movement.

And I’m ending with a quilt with an unusual design. I really like this – I can’t say what it makes me think of, but it really stood out to me on the long walls of quilts. It’s called “B.S. I Love You” and it was designed and made by Jane Stone of KS.

And this ends the quilt show part of the IQA report!  ;-D