The Dogwood Quilt!!!

One of my favorite quilt makers is Melinda Bula. Last year Melinda was so generous and recorded a series of classes on how to make her quilts. Her dogwood design is a beauty and one of the simpler ones*. It was fun and a challenge for me because I did not buy a fabric pack from her. The most difficult part was finding so many different whites, but I’m pretty pleased with the result.

The next issue was the machine quilting. Melinda does it in a painterly sort of way, layering many threads on top of each other. I had endless problems trying to do this and finally made an appointment with my machine dealer for a private help session. It turned out that something was bent in the bobbin holder!!! $^%$*%$%^ Makes me wonder how long I have been struggling to quilt with faulty parts. Then she worked with me to improve my technique. One of the biggest takeaways was the thread. I like to use variegated thread and I like to use cotton, neither of which she uses unless her clients demand it. I am now using prewound bobbins {goodbye tension issues} and Glide polyester thread and I have had no problems since.

I am so pleased to display this quilt in the great room! Next on my very long tops-to-be-quilted-list is the zinnia that I made in her class many, many years ago.

Happy Spring Everyone!

*Oh – in case you’d like to try your hand at making one of her designs, go to the website listed above for her videos and find her patterns and fabrics on her Etsy store.

End of the Year Wrap-up

I don’t usually do this, a year end post, but for some reason I wanted to wrap up some of my latest projects. Unlike many people, I did not get loads and loads of things done this year. I spent a lot of time fretting and eating and drinking and read lots of books. But I’ve had a creative spurt this Fall.

This was one of my favorite projects – candy cane towels! I’d seen the pattern on Pinterest and then I discovered it was on Ravelry. I made an appointment with my local weaving store, Lofty Fiber, to have a refresher class on warping the loom. Dawne is a great teacher and it was so much fun to be with weavers and talk the talk. And I am very pleased with the results! The hand of the towels is very nice and absorbent. I may have to weave some more.

And look at all the beautiful fibers on the wall. It is so nice to have a B&M weaving store. Colors never look the same on a monitor and there is nothing like fondling fibers ! I have lots of ideas for next year.

Another weaving project that I completed was hand towels from Handwoven magazine. I started them in the Spring and it was a long warp. After washing, the fabric has a wonderful, sort of spongy texture. They will make good handtowels!

In November and December I had the great pleasure of teaching some workshops at Tryon Arts & Crafts Center in North Carolina. They are celebrating their 60th year of offering wonderful, traditional crafts classes to the area. I wish I’d found them sooner as they are a perfect fit for the type of classes that I like to offer. One workshop was how to piece hexagon or Grandmother’s Flower garden squares. The second was a lot of fun – making potholders on the wonderful Harrisville Design looms. I really enjoy making them – it’s all about color after all, and I was pleased that they did too.

When I asked if they would keep their potholders or give them away, they all replied that they were keeping them!

And I am about ready to sew binding on the dogwood quilt, that I started in May! It is a Melinda Bula pattern, and she kindly did extensive videos about how to make it.

I had all sorts of problems with the quilting – thread breaking, erratic tension, skips… In desperation, I went to Walker Quilt Company, a HandiQuilter dealer in North Carolina for some lessons. Although some of it was operator error, Andrea discovered that the bobbin was defective! I have been wondering ever since, how long it has been that way. Quilting has been wonderful ever since that visit.

So that’s that! I am sure we are all delighted to see an end to 2020.

Have a Happy New Year everyone!

A Little of This….A Little of That!

My concentration is still iffy but I have managed to get a few things done and a lot started!

One fun, little project I have been doing is making pillowcases. Knitters love making socks, weavers love making hand towels and quilters love making pillowcases. We have always used bolster pillows on our bed and when we were first married, I embroidered our initials on them. When I got over stitching our initials, I bought unusual cases. But it was the wonderful quiltmaker, Jane Sassaman who really inspired me. Scroll to the bottom of this blog to see the delightful cases she made for gifts! Isn’t it much better to make your own? The pattern I used is called The Burrito Method and here is the burrito part – looks impossible, doesn’t it ?

Interestingly enough, this has been a bit tricky for me. Although I have lots of fabric, I tend to buy fat quarters and the base of the case requires 3/4 yard. I’ve been digging in the fabrics I have bought as possible backgrounds. This floral set is in the spare room.

Here are the two for our bed – notice that I used a he fabric and a she fabric. I know I have lots of bigger fabric pieces in Christmas and Halloween bins and I’m looking forward to choosing those patterns.

This one is for the kids’ spare bedroom. You can see that I wasn’t paying attention to the direction of the fabric but I doubt a little visitor will notice…To find out about this interesting technique, follow this link.

Another project that I have been meaning to try for years is ice dyeing. The fabrics I have seen have such a random, and yes, watery feel to them. Turns out it’s quite simple! here’s a yard of cotton during the melt….

…and after being washed and pressed! I’m not sure what I may do with this but I am quite sure that it will be cut up for smaller projects.

And the start of hand towels, a project in the January/February 2020 issue of Handwoven Magazine. For you weavers, it’s a 5/2 mercerized cotton. I have always used this shiny thread for decorative weaving, but the designer, Andrea Williams, says they make dreamy towels. In 5 yards or so, I will let you know!

Oooo…. and there might be another little start… Melinda Bula is very kindly doing a quilt-a-long using her dogwood pattern and I just may be participating! You might remember that many years ago, I made her zinnia quilt.

What little projects are you up to?

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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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…

 

What To Do…What To Do….

Some upcoming fiber shows:

I love taking workshops and going to galleries and talking fiber to anyone who has an interest. Last year was all about relocating and I didn’t have the time or energy to go to workshops or conferences. This year all bets are off, and I thought some of you might be interested in some events on my list.

I began my fiber journey by taking weaving lessons with my mother when I was in college. We both took to it immediately. I was a Second Grade teacher and did not have the money or the time to get as involved in the craft as my mother did, but we both joined The Handweaver’s Guild of America and attended many of the biennial Convergence conferences across the US and Canada. Weaving was hugely popular in the 1970’s and 1980’s but not so much these days, so the group now embraces all manner of fiber crafts. The 2014 version is in Providence, Rhode Island, the home of the amazing Rhode Island School of Design and an area rich in textile history. I just downloaded the class and workshop list. {..sigh…} There is a lot going on! This is on the maybe list.

Long on my bucket list has been to attend something at Asilomar. Many moons ago they had a rug hooking week, but popularity for that craft has waned. The winters are now filled with quilting workshops, called Empty Spools Seminars. The locale, on a peninsula near Monterey CA, is supposed to be amazingly beautiful and of course any time you can immerse yourself in a craft you adore with like-minded souls for 5 days is heaven indeed! I wanted to attend a workshop with Melinda Bula and do a flower of my own (remember the wonderful zinnia top that’s waiting to be completed???) but this isn’t the year. They always have the most amazing teachers….

The big rug hooking event this year will be rug hooking week in Ohio at Sauder Village, August 13 – 16. I very much enjoyed it when I attended a few years ago. It’s always a treat to see a lot of hooked rugs on display, but this year an exhibit of woven coverlets will be included! On my to-do list when I started weaving was to make a coverlet…… not so much now, but I still love to look at them. This is another maybe…

The American Quilt Society has added two shows to their list this year, and since they are nearby, I am sure I need to go to them! One is in Charlotte NC, on July 30 – August 2. The other is in Chattanooga TN from September 10 – 13. I am hoping to throw Peter and his bikes in the car and have a little vacation there; it looks like a lovely spot. And maybe I should enter the quilt I’m working on in one of the shows???

There are all sorts of small, local events that I will be attending and will share with you. One of the many reasons we chose this area (of SC, NC and TN) was because there are many craft related events that seem to be well supported and attended.

This is just a sprinkling of fiber shows you may not have heard about. Where are you headed this year to feed your creative spirit???

The Machine Quilting Project List

Like many quilters, I have a stack of tops to quilt. I  stacked them up for some years until Peter gave me the amazing Bernina with the BSR. I pulled them all out yesterday and debated which ones I should quilt. Machine quilting is a “tidy” project for sure, so hopefully I will get a lot done this Spring when the house is listed.

First up is the star quilt top that I designed in Gail Garber’s class. I will do a lot of straight line outlining of the stars and geese and then I can try something fun in the background. It’s on the small size so it shouldn’t be too difficult for me.

Completed top

Then I think I will be ready for the sunflower from Melinda Bula’s class. And that will warm me up for…

My sunflower

… the zinnia. As I said in another post, fused quilt tops seem fragile to me. I am afraid if this gets folded wrong before it’s quilted, that pieces will crease or fall off. (There are lots and lots of teeny, tiny pieces) I spent too long getting them cut and placed and fused to let something happen to this top!

My zinnia!

And here is my red and white house quilt, completed some years ago. It’s probably the easiest of these tops to quilt, but it is much larger and therefore more difficult to manoeuvre in the machine.

Red & white houses

That is a big list and we’ll see how it goes. It really would be wonderful to get these quilts done and then find a new home to hang them in….  ;-D

More About the Zinnia Quilt

Here is Melinda‘s lovely pink zinnia to inspire me. And here is mine at the end of class, ready to be put on the background fabric.

Out of my suitcase comes the pattern, instructions and the roll containing the partially completed zinnia and already fused fabrics. I move the zinnia to the background fabric and fuse the middle of it – petals will still need to be moved to arrange the highlight fabrics. I clear a table and sit down with the directions and the rest of the pattern pieces and fabrics…..there’s lots more cutting to be done!

Looking between the pattern and the flower, trying to decide which petal is which is making my eyes cross. I decide to number the petals with stickers and mark the pattern with red marker so I can easily see what petal I am working on. Look at all these bitty pieces…..lots and lots of them. I decide to cut each color and carefully place it on the petal.

As I move from petal to petal, I am placing the tiny pieces, moving them about and trimming them when I think they look odd. It’s not easy to do as most of the petals have so many highlights. Huh.

After some fiddling around, I realize that all the tiny pieces need to be on each petal and then I can arrange and cut them to fit. So (below) you can see it – all the little pieces are on the corresponding petal and it looks like the camera didn’t focus. What comes next is fiddling, making each piece look like it belongs on the petal. Melinda suggested in class that we be freer about cutting and placing the highlight fabrics…. I get that idea, but it’s not my pattern or my colors. For this first attempt, I am pretty much following her pattern.

I bring it upstairs to the kitchen table to watch/listen to the Sunday games. And then I realize that the light in the kitchen is better. However, I need to keep the cats from helping. Their little hairs get on everything….

And here it is, ready to quilt! It’s amazing how the highlight pieces make such a difference! Fusing makes me nervous – the top seems so fragile.When I get it quilted, then I can store it and feel like it is safe. I am pretty pleased with my zinnia!

And now, back to the livingroom quilt……

Melinda’s Renegade Thread Play Class

Melinda Bula does a lot of quilting – a lot. Here is the back of the three zinnias quilt! Gorgeous, isn’t it?

I am working on being a better machine quilter and so I decided that I should take her Renegade Thread Play class at the Houston show. It was an all day class, but I’ll tell you now that it should have been a two-day class, or we should have fused something to quilt before class. In the morning, Melinda talked about her quilt making journey and how she approaches quilting the final piece. She showed us how to get started with our names and had prepared fused sampler pieces for us to work on.

She likes shiny rayon and bigger stitches so that the stitching shows. One thing she likes to quilt is vine-like shapes and then she goes over them again. And in the flowers and leaves, she outlines and then outlines some more and it’s a great effect. Here’s what I got done before lunch. Loop de loops are a pattern that I am comfortable with, so it went well, and the veins in the leaves weren’t too hard for me.

After lunch we came back and got started on the project. Melinda gave us a sunflower pattern to fuse and cut and iron. Here is her sample.

And here is the back!

Though the sunflower is not as detailed as the zinnia, there was plenty of work to be done and I finished fusing at 4:15. Class was over at 5 and I was tired. I decided that it was not the time to start the quilting, which is often frustrating for me, not to mention using a strange machine can be difficult as well. (No one had time to quilt!) Here is my sunflower, made using some fabrics that I got in a Carol Fallert class eons ago, when she did her own dyeing.

We did not have a fabric kit for the sunflower, so here are some of the other colors that people chose. This was the woman at my table.

And the lady behind me. Of course I adored these colors!

And these juicy red-purples were across the room! Melinda said that the sunflower done in reds looks very much like a poinsettia and I think I may try that.

In the packet of information she gave us, a pattern for pansies was included. I love the quilt – the yellow-green background that Melinda chose along with all the bright color combinations really sings!I guess that was something she’s done in the past. I love pansies and their small size would have made them ideal for class, not to mention all the amazing color combinations they come it. I think I may give some pansies a try.

Houston Quilts – Natural Beauties

All of us who had the pleasure of attending the Fall Quilt Festival are busy posting pictures of our favorite quilts. It’s interesting to see what each of us chose. Today I’m going to share some floral and nature themed quilts. First, here is Prairie Grass by Freida Anderson. I spent some time looking at it and then returned another day to photograph it. This triptych is so calm and serene. I really liked its elegant simplicity.

Staying with the triptych theme, you may recognize this pattern! This version of Melinda Bula’s pattern is Zinnias Three by Jean Smith. It’s a great to see some other color schemes. I’d like to make two more but I just don’t have the time at the moment…

And now an incredibly bright and beautiful quilt. This is Tulips by Charlotte Hickman. I really admire this original design, from tulips in her garden. (Lucky lady – the deer eat mine!) She has used her own hand dyed and hand painted fabrics and they are amazing. From where I was standing, I thought it was machine appliqued, but she did needle turn appliqué. So quilts don’t have to be fused or pieced to look “contemporary”.

This exquisite piece is by a Japanese artist, Toshie Kato. It’s called My Secret Garden. It makes me think of a crewel pattern that I saw in the Victoria & Albert museum a few years ago . The colors are yummy!

Here is another Japanese quilt, in the group category. I was again struck by the delicate and juicy color scheme, and the pale, pale yellow background that the flowers are on. It’s called Dear Friends and was created by Michiko Yanagihara and 8 friends. This is just a detail so you can see the lovely work they did! The quilt has a sheen to it and I thought the fabrics might be silks, but they are cottons.

One last quilt for today, and this one was not in the show. It’s another of Melinda Bula‘s flowers that I spent two days in her classroom admiring. The day lilies are so realistic and I love the hot petals against the cool leaves.