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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Ongoing Quilt Projects

I have been less than diligent about working with my wonderful Sweet 16 machine… I started Tommie Lee Turkey in November nad quickly abandoned the project due to Santa making and indecision about what to quilt where. And so the machine sat. The other day I was re-organizing a studio closet and came across my quilt-tops-to-be-quilted pile. I’m not sure if I ever wrote about finishing up the Orphan Blocks Mash-Up quilt. I decided that this was the quilt I needed to practise on and quickly got it layered and pinned.

Ready to quilt Orphans Block Mash-Up

Years ago I was teaching a friend to hand quilt. She was really frustrated with her stitches. I said it took lots of practise and the choice she had was to find some patterned fabric and practise quilting on that until she was happy with her work or to continue quilting her beginning sampler quilt. She chose to work on her project. I have been working on bits of fabric for practise but I finally decided the other day that I needed to take my own advice. I like the mash-up quilt, but I don’t feel precious about it, so it’s perfect for my needs; it has lots of areas for free motion and lots of places for ruler work (straight lines). I am quilting with white thread and so it’s virtually invisible on much of the top, so I don’t find myself constantly saying “that looks crappy, that’s okay…” I also know that when I wash the quilt, it will look even better as the stitches will sink into the quilt. So I am working a little each day and feeling better.

The Halloween Hexie quilt made the trip to AQS Phoenix and I’ve continued working on it at night. It’s so fun to put together.

Halloween Hexies

And I have to share this hilarious picture of Gizmo with you. A week or so ago we had the cats’ teeth cleaned and this vet shaved both ankles for the I.V. drip. With Gizmo’s long hair, we think he looks like a poodle ready for the Westminster Dog Show. We laugh every time we see him, poor guy!

Gizmo's shaved legs

 

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???

 

Japanese Quilts at AQS Phoenix!

The AQS Phoenix show had a special exhibit of Japanese-made quilts. I made a beeline to the back corner of the exhibit hall where they were hung. I can’t tell you how stunning they were and I hope you’ll click on my pictures to get a better look at them.

Flowering by Sachiko Yoshida has the feel of Japanese crest designs (kamon). One circular design is pieced and the next one is appliqued. All the fabrics are from kimono or other Japanese clothing.

Sachiko Yoshida Flowering

In this detail, you can see the careful fabric choices and lovely piecing and applique stitches.

Detail of Sachiko Yoshida

Dianthus – In Memory of My Mother made by Sachiko Yoshida, is a stunning color study! It was hung in a place that could be seen from across the exhibit area and called for a closer look. It’s the perfect example of a quilt that looks amazing from a distance but has delightful details when you are right in front of it.

Dianthus Sachiko Yoshida

In this close-up you can see the lovely kimono bits and hand stitching.

Detail Sachiko Yoshida Dianthus

When I lived in Tokyo, I attended as many quilt shows as I could. The quilts that are made in Japan and stay there, tend to be more like the quilts in this show. (I feel like the Japanese who compete in International quilt shows have a very different style from the women who don’t ship their quilts to shows outside the country.) Most are entirely made of kimono fabric. At a distance, this quilt looked as though “panels” were cut out of a special kimono, but on closer inspection, the “panels” turned out to be hand applique and piecing. This quilt by Junko Yazawa, is called Flower Book.

Junko Yazawa Flower Bppk

Here is a wonderful flower applique.

Junko Yazawa Flower Book detail

Japanese crest designs or kamon may have been the design inspiration of Wild Flowers by Yoshiko Sakurai.

Yoshiko Sakurai Wild Flowers

Each circle is a small masterpiece!

Detail Yoshiko Sakurai

I think that this quilt is my favorite. It was hung so that it could be seen from a distance and as I walked towards it, more and more soft details appeared. Japanese quilts can be so precise, but this one softly undulates. It is Rose Garden by Junko Yazawa.

Rose Garden by Junko Yazawa

Here you can see the movement of the background triangles. I wonder if she drew out the squares or “free hand” pieced each row…. There is minimal quilting so that each piece of fabric can be seen and admired.

Detail Rose Garden by Junko Yazawa

All of the quilts were hand pieced or appliqued and hand quilted. Japanese fabrics would be difficult to sew in a machine and it would flatten the texture and fine details in the weaving or surface design. One of the AQS people said it was going to several of their shows, so if there is one near you, I’d suggest you go!

 

 

Houston’s Ruby Show: Florals

Flowers… I’m always drawn to them, either in the garden or a convention center. Every year, the floral quilts seem to get better and better. Here are some of my favorites.

Murdererskill Crossing by Janet Atkins was a surprise to me – it is entirely hand made! Generally speaking, the quilts in that category are very traditional in design with subdued color. Janet worked outside the box and everything about this quilt is wonderfully wonky. The color sings because blue and orange are opposites on the color wheel – it’s a pleasing combination but also punchy, because of the intensity of the values she chose. She won a prize for this beauty.

Murdererskill Crossing

Andrea Brokenshire created Yellow Mellow in Paradise. I quote from her description :”hand painted fused appliqué turned edge on a confetti-style background”. That’s a mouthful, but it makes for a stunning quilt. There is something almost etherial about the lemon yellows – you can see this quilt from quite far away. It sings like Fall colored leaves do on a dim and gloomy day.

Yellow Mellow in Paradise

I like Cleomes in my yard and so Spider Lilies appeals to me as well. Carol Morrissey is the maker of this quilt and it is fused and painted appliqué on a whole cloth background. The size of the flowers makes this quite stunning.

Spider Lilies

In Bloom, by Renee Caswell is machine appliquéd and stitched. This design has the feel of a botanical print of old, but has a more contemporary feel to it. As she says in her statement, it’s a flower that won’t fade.

In Bloom

This last quilt is the complete  opposite of the first one I wrote about and I did want to separate them for that reason. Magnolia, by Sylvia Gegaregian, really drew me in. I love the simplicity and stylization of the flower! Sylvia used a variety of techniques to create this piece, all by machine. Do click on the photo to examine the juicy center, which is nicely balanced by the magenta diamonds around the flower. This is one elegant quilt.

Magnolia

 

Tiny Wagon Wheel Quilt Progress

As one of my grandmothers would have said – these wagon wheel bits “are fiddle-y” to sew. English Paper Pieced hexagons are very easy to deal with, but these shapes, not so much. However, I am determined to get a wagon wheel “right”! First job was to sew a group of the spokes. Next up was choosing a background. I auditioned several color ideas. I really wanted a green, but I thought this dot was too bright. And the purple dot seemed to be a bit intense.

Purple & green

Another plan was to use a light background, but this dotty black was surprisingly distracting, and I never use plain white. I like the navy/tiny print on the right the most.

White ad blue backgrounds

In my last post, I forgot to mention that the middles of this English Paper Pieced quilt are hexagons, little ones. I have been choosing a different middle for each one. I debated using the same fabric, but I think that from a distance they might look like holes, rather than middles.

The fiddling continues and mistakes abound! As it happens, the top of the wheel pieces and the background pieces have a direction! I knew that but one night I wasn’t paying attention and sewed several groups of spokes the wrong way. I have been watching the season-enders of some TV shows and my excuse is that it can be hard to stitch and watch. (Scandal… OMG … and Agents of SHIELD and The Blacklist are really ramping up!!!) Now I have the side that I pin under the fabric marked in boldly in red, so it’s hard to miss. ;-D

Wagon wheel progress

I’m happily sewing.

How Not to Piece a Wagon Wheel Quilt!

Wagon wheel quilts are a favorite of mine, but I have not yet made a “successful” one. Many years ago I took a class with Mary Mashuta. She uses a lot of Japanese fabric in her quilts and since I lived in Tokyo, I have a nice collection of said fabrics. This is my favorite of hers. This striped fabric is wonderful and though I started this quilt right after taking her class, I have never been happy with it.

Japanese wagon wheel quilt

 

Another quilter who has done this pattern with entirely different fabrics is Becky Goldsmith of Piece O’ Cake designs. I am a big fan of her color sense and here is one of hers I like. And here is the one I started to mimic hers. I don’t like it either and did not piece too much before I put it away in a project bag… Can you see where both of my designs are headed in the wrong way?

White and pastel wagon wheel

Sometimes one can use too many fabrics, and as I was photographing these UFO’s before we moved, it was so obvious. Too busy! Way too busy! What I like about the wagon wheel patterns is the graphic nature and in order for that to shine, there has to be less use of fabrics. So the background probably should be one color in the Japanese stripe. I do think I can make the multi black and white background fabrics work, but each wheel should be the same color.

A few months ago, Becky Goldsmith started selling English Paper Piecing patterns for Wagon Wheel and I bought a pack of the smallest ones. I have been eyeing them as I need to do something new. I’m choosing fabrics soon and am determined to do a wagon wheel quilt that works!

Bits of Free Time for Fiber Therapy

I really shouldn’t complain, but my job for most of this year has been doing house projects and I’m pretty tired of it. I haven’t sewn or quilted on the machines for weeks and at night I have been too tired to do more than stare at the T.V. Before we went away, I thought I had a few days to myself, so I pulled out the half square triangles and started sewing blocks. The feeling of fabric running through my fingers and the hum of the machine made me so happy. As you can see, I got two blocks done and then the realtor called to schedule a showing and so I cleaned up. My sewing machines are being serviced now, so I won’t be able to work on this for a while.

Half square triangle quilt

In another bit of spare time, I pulled out a crochet UFO to complete. I took some crochet lessons a few years ago and made a cute hat. I do not have a photo of that hat, because I left it in a restaurant in Dubuque Iowa! This was the second crochet project that I did. It just seemed like a really fun thing to do and so 3D. This is how it begins…..looks like nothing, right?

Potato chip beginning

It’s called a potato chip or ruffle scarf and I have seen a lot of them in yarn stores and boutiques recently. To make it look ruffly, you crochet  2 stitches in one loop and one in the next and so on. It was amusing to watch that noodle-y foundation row of plain crochet plan become spiral and ruffly in shape as I worked. I plan to wear it with my wool Winter coat and thought it would be fun to add in a sparkly yarn for the last row. I also made it much longer than the pattern suggested as I wanted to be able to wrap it many times around my neck, like a boa!

Potato chip crochet scarf

While we were in our cabin in Hendersonville, I sewed on the Halloween Grandmother’s Flower Garden quilt squares. As I pulled them out of their bag, I realized that I had quite a stack. When I spread them out – – – lookee here – – – it’s starting to look like a quilt.

Lots of hexes

I sew a middle and then the “petals” row first. When that part is done, I audition the “leaves” or outer row. You can see above and below, how I try out several possibilities.

Auditioning

This morning I pulled out a purple tone on tone dot that I have. It’s what I have been envisioning for the background or connector fabric. I think it will be good and I so love purple that it will be fun to sew. This is going to be a very busy little quilt!

Background choice

Now I have to collect and pack projects that I can work on in a rental apartment. We will drive to Greenville in two cars….just how many boxes and suitcases and bikes and cats will fit? More importantly, how many sewing machines and fabric will ?

Merry Christmas Grandmother’s Flower Garden Quilt

Ta dah! Here is my latest Grandmother’s Flower Garden quilt top, the result of several years of hand sewing in hotel rooms, on vacations and at odd moments at home when I needed hand work. And to be clear, it’s hand pieced; I only do English paper piecing on tiny hexes. Each side of these hexes measures 1.5″.

Christmas Grandmother's Flower Garden

This was a lot of fun to piece.

A Santa square

I try to avoid buying Christmas fabric (and Halloween too!) but it calls to me in fabric stores!

Skating dog

What’s great about a Grandmother’s Flower Garden sort of design is that it combines lots of fabrics that would not look good right next to each other.

Blue snowman

I plan to piece the backing as well, with some of the bigger Christmas prints, which will reduce the stash a bit… I would have liked to get it quilted for Christmas this year, but because of its size, it’s low on the machine quilting list.

Skating cat

Happy Halloween Quilt!

I have a lot of Halloween fabric; a collection in the making for some years. They mostly do not “go” with each other and so I look at them every year and wonder what I might do. This Summer I thought “Grandmother’s Flower Garden!”. It is the perfect way to make fabrics play with each other. I use a background or connector fabric between the hexes and I can move the flowers around so that the colors don’t clash so much. {;-D}

This is how I begin these quilts, which are my take along when I travel project. First I cut a bunch of middles that I think will be fun. This is going to be a very busy quilt!!!

I use a hexagon that measures 1.25″ on a side and so I rotary cut strips of fabrics 3.25. I cut a bunch and tuck them in a baggie. I also take along a clipboard with sandpaper on it for tracing the hexes, scissors, needles, pins and thread. I also have readers with a light in them, though I must say that motels have much better lighting these days. It is very fun to sit in a hotel room and spead the middles and “flower” sections on the bed and audition what goes with what!

I sew a “leaf” row as well, but I always choose that after I have sewn the “petal” row. These Halloween fabrics are definitely telling me how they want to go together.

For those of you keeping track; I allowed myself to begin the new Halloween quilt, because the Christmas one is too ungainly to transport. Check it out!!! I am working on this one during football games.

Although I don’t know if I will have it quilted for this Christmas, the top will be done….yippee!!!