And a Million More…

Last weekend I hoped to be teaching a workshop using equilateral triangles, but months ago when as I was choosing dates, I did not notice that it was Easter weekend. (I needed 3 people and had 2!) It was another pattern/class I had offered before and was not enamored with. For the class sample I sewed these pieces together in an impressionistic way. It was fun to play with the colors and values but not practical for students with no fabric stashes. I ran out of steam sewing them but I will get back to them one day.

While searching around, I stumbled onto the pattern called Thousand Pyramids. What a wonderful way to sew together masses of triangles. If you Google them online, you will find so many fabric versions of this pattern, from vintage to modern. I think I’m in the middle with my black and white backgrounds. Each pattern pyramid includes a print with a small all over design as well as a colored fabric that reads as a solid for the background. This top is about done as the scratchy looking black and white fabric is all cut . Sometimes it’s nice to have a restriction.

Here’s another variation that I quite like. I chose a black fabric with lots of little multicolored hearts on it and am piecing it with two values of plain fabrics left over from a jelly roll that I bought for a lone star. I have a lot of strips still and can share them with anyone who might want tp piece it this way.

For the sessions this Summer, I am offering Grandmother’s Flower Garden and Tumbling Blocks again, so I don’t need to work on samples. Tumbling Blocks are made from 60 degree diamonds and my new favorite variation of that is this Seven Sisters pattern. The question I asked my Instagram buddies was, “What do you think of a hexagonal quilt?”. It’s about 60″ at the widest bit and it does look nice draped on the back of the couch. I will investigate how to fill in the edges and see what that will look like. So…what do you think?

The Summer class listing online is not “up” yet, but if you are local and interested, check it out here.

 

A Thousand Tiny Stitches…

… and the development of a quilt class!

Although I have been quiet here for a long while, I’ve been busy. I finally decided that I’d like to offer some quilting classes at the art center where I volunteer. Developing new classes of any sort takes a lot of time, energy and thought, but even more so when the samples are hand sewn. I finally got myself in gear and have offered several workshops at Greenville Center for Creative Arts  and much to my delight, most have had enough students to run! I wasn’t at all sure – at the moment, most of the classes are of the fine art variety and who knew if anyone would be interested in “sewing”. My assumption is that “my audience” does not have machines and are beginners, so the classes have been hand sewing ones. And I’ve been correct so far. These quilts can be called geometric, charm or one patch designs and are frankly easier to sew by hand. I do hope to lure some “seasoned” quilters.

When I think up a class idea, I start to madly sew. Proposals must be submitted long before the workshop is advertised and I’ve gotten skilled at making enough squares so that it looks like I have an entire quilt in the photographs that I submit!

Here are the offerings so far:

Hexagons!

If you follow me, you know I’m crazy about hexagons. There’s not much new to show you, but I did do some piecing with half hexagons to add to the design choices. They are so wonderfully dimensional and modern looking for those who think that hexies look like a pattern their grandmother made.

60 Degree Diamonds!

Some years ago, I offered a class using these diamonds and it did not run. They can be made into the vintage pattern called Baby Blocks or Tumbling Blocks, but although I admire those quilts, I didn’t enjoy piecing them for a quilt. I have used them for pillows and squares in a sampler type quilt.

Thank heavens for Pinterest; I found this version with Baby Blocks rotating around a plain (dark) star. It’s an interesting pattern because you see both the stars and the blocks. I tend to like things to coordinate or have a rule and for some reason these are random enough that I have just been piecing blocks and sewing them to the stars.

As I was stitching away one day, I remembered that the pattern called Seven Sisters uses 60 degree diamonds, and I started researching those patterns online. Bingo! I had found a pattern I love stitching! Here is one square so you can see why it’s called Seven Sisters. I do have a rule for each square. I choose a multi-colored batik fabric and that is the star in the middle. Then I choose some of my hand dyed fabrics to make the remaining six stars. Repetition is not my strong suit and using different colors in each star piece keeps me amused.

And here is the quilt top so far. Can you see the underlying pattern – ha! – it’s a hexagon! My design dilemma with this quilt will be how to end it. The initial plan was to piece seven sisters of seven sisters, but I don’t think I want the quilt to be a hexagon. Stay tuned on that…

… and for more stitching to come!

Hand Piecing Workshops!

Although I’ve been quiet on a daily dose, I’ve been working! It’s been a year full of deadlines for classes and workshops. All things that I wanted to do, but it’s kept me very, very busy.

I finally got myself in gear and offered two Summer workshops at Greenville Center for Creative Arts, where I volunteer. Much to my delight, I got enough students to run the class! I wasn’t at all sure – at present, most of the classes are of the fine art variety and who knew if anyone would be interested in making quilts.

The first workshop I offered was Hand Pieced Quilts – Grandmother’s Flower Garden. This will be no surprise to any of you who have been followers for a while – I love to sew hexies! I had a lot of samples and ideas and it was perhaps a bit much for the five women who hadn’t had much exposure to the world of quilting.

Olivia was a very enthusiastic sewer. She told us that she sewed a lot and enjoyed making dolls to sell. I am confident that she will get a throw made with the speed that she sews.

Sarah designed a very striking flower, didn’t she? It is fun to see how people put together fabrics.

The second workshop was Hand Pieced Quilts: 60 degree diamonds (or tumbling blocks or baby blocks). I have offered this before and wasn’t very enthusiastic about it. Though I like baby blocks, I’ve never enjoyed sewing them.

As I prepared for the class, I perused Pinterest and was reminded that a setting for 60 degree diamonds is called the Seven Sisters pattern. I noodled around with that and discovered that I really liked this version! (Perhaps because it makes a giant hexagon….)

Here is a starry, blocky setting for the diamonds. I like this variation as well.

Just about everything needed is included in my workshops. When working with new sewers, I don’t want them to have to run around and buy a lot of supplies. The quilt patterns I am offering are traditionally scrap quilts and goodness knows that I have a lot of fabrics! It’s been fun sharing my stash and seeing others incorporate the fabric in their own work.

I am very fond of holiday themed quilts so I was delighted to see that Shawn brought a Halloween selection to make baby blocks.

It’s been interesting to offer quilt classes to novices. In the past, I have taught in quilt stores and generally my students have had some sort of experience or exposure to quilting. Most of my students at the Art Center were very, very new! In the Grandmother’s Flower Garden class, I presented way too much material and I am learning to scale back what I initially present and see where the students want to go.

Next up; workshops that I hope to offer this Winter. ;-D

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!