Saturday, July 14, 2018

On Retreat in Montana with Judy Niemeyer and Jennifer Eubank

It's been a few weeks since I've posted and I have lots to write about.  I'll start with the most recent event first and then go back and catch up. So for those of you who are aware of my schedule, it will be a bit out of order. No big deal!

Today is the last day of a six day retreat at the Quiltworx Retreat Center in Somers, Montana. I have had a great time - relaxing, productive, inspiring, and fun. I brought three projects to work on and then bought fabric to start a fourth. 

First, lets talk about the Retreat Center. There are sewing stations (with design walls) for 12, beds for 10, 6 bathrooms, a kitchen, and a laundry. It is right next door to the Quiltworx Offices and Warehouse. Judy and her staff took really good care of us - great instruction, wonderful food (and I didn't have to cook OR clean up after), a trunk show of Judy's gorgeous quilts, a demonstration on Quiltster, camaraderie with terrific fellow quilters, and a shopping trip to two local quilt shops.  All this set in the breathtaking scenery of the Flathead Valley in Montana. (BTW, weather was wonderful - 80s and dry with a slight breeze).

Next, the projects. We were all working on different projects. I took Vintage Rose, Cattails in the Meadow (see my series of posts on this quilt), Prismatic Star, and a new one - Bali Wedding Star.  

Several of us were working on Vintage Rose, so there was lots of demonstrations, comparisons, and helpful hints going on. I got all the paper piecing done and started the assembly. A few more hours and it will be ready for the quilter. This was my first Judy quilt, one of her technique of the month quilts. It features lots of interesting techniques like putting on veins (little accents on the petals), points (accent fabric at the top of the onion dome piece), registration points, curved piecing, and S and double S curve piecing. (ignore the black diamond, it is part of the design wall hardware). Here is a quarter of it assembled. I am really happy with my color choices and how its come together.

Cattails will get a post of its own. I worked on border pieces (lots and lots of border pieces). Then I worked on border pieces, then some more border pieces. I am WAY over border pieces!

The next project was Prismatic Star. Its a lone star pattern made with jelly roll strip sets - Judy's Gypsy set from Timeless Treasures. I got everything cut and three of the eight sets made. One of the great tips I got from Judy is how to line up and pin the star pieces so that the points come together perfectly.

The last project I worked on was the Bali Wedding Star. I mainly just wanted to get started on this so that I could feel comfortable with the technique of assembly line paper piecing the arcs. I'm using rusty orange strips on a deep purple background. I think it will be stunning.

OK, now it's confession time: I bought more patterns. In my defense, I was looking at four terrific projects and ended up buying two from Judy and two on sale at one of the quilt shops. Ok, so that's still four, but I did use some restraint - I almost bought six! This is one of the main reasons I decided to drive, so I could bring back my haul of goodies!

On field trip day, Jennifer Eubank brought us to two local quilt shops - Glacier Quilts and Quilt Gallery. Both shops are Quiltworx Certified shops, so they had all of Judy's patterns and tons of batiks for the projects. In addition to getting some patterns on sale, I bought batiks for Bali Wedding Star.  

I have a three day drive ahead of me and I'm excited to be going home (except for the cooking, cleaning, laundry, grocery shopping, hot and humid, going through mail part).  I do have other quilts waiting to be worked on, but I'm sure I'll just have to work on my Judy quilts again soon. 

Quilty friends, I can't say enough about the retreats sponsored by Quiltworx. They fill up fast, so run, don't walk to sign up for an upcoming retreat. You will not be sorry.

Curious about the Going-to-the-Sun road in Glacier National Park? Ask me about it when I get home. I'm going there tomorrow.


Friday, June 8, 2018

Hoop Sisters Embroidered Mystery Quilt

So I haven't really alluded to it in a while - but I also dabble (OK more than dabble) in machine embroidery. I've got several projects working, although only one is on my active rotation.

One of my favorite embroidery companies is Hoop Sisters. Every year they offer an embroider-block-of the month. These quilts are quite fantastic. I should write a post about these quilts later.

This post is about their Mystery Embroidery Quilt. It's a 6 week weekly download. You can sign up here between now and the end of June. Mea Bernina and Babylock is offering a sweet deal - if you bring in your Mystery Quilt Receipt, they will treat it like a Mea class and will give you 20% off your fabrics and threads for the quilt. Call the shop at 785-842-1595 for exact details (effective dates, excluded products, etc).

So I have completed one set of blocks - it was fun, and a bit of a challenge to assemble.  You'll get plenty of practice on inset seams (grin). You know I love EPP and Grandmother's Flower Garden, so you'll bet I love this quilt with its embroidered hexagons. I'm using a really cool pastel variegated thread for the background of the white block. You cant see it in this photo, but the variegated thread gives it a nice look. 

I can't wait to work on the other blocks. I wonder what they'll be! I'll just have to wait and see. It is a mystery after all.

Curious about Embroidered quilts? Check out Hoop Sisters for the Mystery Quilt and Mea Bernina for the next Embroidered BOM - Sisterhood, which starts soon.

Friday, June 1, 2018

My Favorite Designers - Chapter 5 Karen K. Stone

Every designer brings something new and different to my toolbox.  I've been highlighting my favorites in no particular order of wonderfulness, but rather, as I encounter them. Last month Karen K. Stone visited the Kaw Valley Quilters Guild. Wow, what a program!

My introduction to Karen came many (10?) years ago when I took a class at Quilter's Haven in Olathe. The class was Karen's Cinco de Mayo - a fantastic, somewhat chaotic New York Beauty. This class fueled my search and collection of wild, colorful fabrics. These fabrics are part of my daily round now, but back then they were way outside of my comfort zone. 

Cinco de Mayo is made of a series of blocks using the New York Beauty block - all of them varied in terms of the number of points and bands.  This is not mine - I only have the first two rows done (yeah, I know I started it 10 years ago). But isn't it beautiful! I love the variation in the size and number of points.

My next close encounter with the force of nature that is Karen, was a class at the first Kansas City Regional Quilt Festival. I am an EPP fan and she was teaching EPP by machine. It was a challenging technique for me because I balk at a lot of prep work - and this technique took a lot of prep. It's a good tool to have in my kit, but I haven't used it yet.

This brings us to the present - well, last month, when Karen came to our guild. She is a dynamo of a speaker - I've love to get a little of her energy. The story of her quilts was mostly about color and value. It made me think about not being so matchy-matchy with my color schemes. 

For the workshop after the talk and trunk show, Karen choose "Wild Women Don't Get the Blues" as the pattern. I choose Tula Pink's Raccoons for my focus fabric. I thought those little guys would be so cute surrounded by the colorful star points. After I took this pic, I added a black and white striped flange between the raccoon and the star points. I really liked it but i was a lot of work. So now I'm looking for something similar but easier. Or maybe I'll just leave it as is. Hmmmm Dilemma!

Curious about Karen? Look for her workshops and programs. She is a bundle of positive, quilting energy.

Friday, May 25, 2018

This Quilter Goes Back to Weaving School

Many of us quilters are serial crafters - myself included. Counted cross stitch was my "gateway" craft. I started stitching when I was pregnant with my first son who just had his 31st birthday. 
After years of cross stitching (which I still do occasionally by the way), I thought I would try weaving. Back about 16 years ago I bought a used Baby Wolf floor loom (Schacht) and took beginning weaving classes at Yarn Barn here in Lawrence.

It's been a while since I've had anything on my loom, but I was intrigued by a class offered recently by Yarn Barn on making crimp cloth. The samples were really cool - a cloth with pleats. The pictures of Dianne's (the teacher) garments were fantastic. So I signed up for the class, chose my yarn, and then worried about all the skills I'd lost over the years.

Dianne Totten is a great weaver, artist, and instructor. Her garments are gorgeous. Every day she wore a new vest. I was so wowed that I didn't get pictures of most of them. I did get this one of a couple of her vests from her slide show.

The crimped fabric has a wonderful drape and the garments were very flattering on all kinds of body shapes. OK, so I hear you . . . what the heck is crimped fabric?

Crimped fabric is woven like most other fabrics, but the yarns in either the warp or the weft need to be a synthetic and then you put in an additional thread that will be used to scrunch the fabric up and pulled out later.  I did a weft crimp - you can see my pull threads in this pic - they are the yellow ones.  After pulling the yellow threads tight and tying them, the fabric sits in a steam bath for 30 minutes, and Voila! Pleated fabric!

So I tried several different patterns with the pull threads. 4 by 4 offset (in the pic above), 6 by 3, poofy rows, and large poofy circles. I tried using weft threads in various colors - turquoise, green, dark blue, pink and red. I have a binder full of samples and some ideas to make some crimped scarves.

It felt good to be weaving again. I did have to ask basic questions to refresh my memory. But after a while, I was doing OK. I still have a bit of an issue keeping my edges (selvages) from drawing in. I've signed up for a beginning weaving class this summer so I'll be making some placemats and kitchen towels by summer's end! And maybe my loom won't feel neglected any more.
Curious about weaving? Check out Yarn Barn of Kansas!

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

A New Quilt From Start to Finish - Chapter 5 Appliqueing the Cat Tails

Stitch n peel.jpgIn among the foundation piecing on Cat Tail Memories (yes, I've decided to name her), are some lovely applique cat tails and stems. What's the big deal about applique, you ask?

Well, Judy does applique in a WOW way. In each of her patterns that includes applique, she includes lazer cut sheets for each applique shape. Stitch-N-Peel sheets. These sheets are a cellulose material that softens when washed so you can leave it in. It can't be much easier than that! 

All you have to do is peel the paper off the sticky side of the applique sheet and stick it to the wrong side of your fabric. Then cut it out with a .25" seam allowance, add a little glue stick and turn the edges under. And Voila! Each group of cattails leaves gets 3 or 4 of the fuzzy cuties.

The applique shapes in this pattern are quite simple. Some of her other patterns  - Paradise in Blooms, Pepperdish, Cactus Rose, Diamond Wedding Ring, and Flowers for my Wedding Ring (I'm sure there are more) - have extremely intricate applique that would be so easy with Judy's Stitch-N-Peel method.    

Curious? If you want to try Stitch-N-Peel in other applique patterns, you can order it from Judy's website.

P.S. If you missed Chapters 1-4 of my Cat Tail Memories posts, you can read them here.
Chapter 1 - Design
Chapter 2 - Color and Fabric
Chapter 3 - Preparing Papers and Fabric
Chapter 4 - Foundation Paper Piecing

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Noriko Endo's Confetti Quilts

I met Noriko Endo at an ASQ quilt week class in Phoenix AZ in 2014. The result of that class was a small wall hanging I called Autumn Path. I blogged about that quilt early last year. I sold Autumn Path and I have been missing my baby. So I decided to make another one. Oh, and I'm also talking about the technique at Sassy Sewists at Mea tomorrow - so gotta have a sample!

For several months I have been saving photos on Pinterest to my board called confetti quilt. The best photos (IMHO) for this technique are impressionistic looking landscapes - scenes that don't have a lot of sharp, crisp edges. After our trip through Colorado, Idaho and Montana last fall, I had been thinking about doing an aspen quilt. So while looking for aspens, I found this picture of this birch which I thought was beautiful. It had all the right aspects - good lines, multiple colors, some details to thread paint. Perfect!

I dug through my stash and found some batting that would do. To tell the truth, I hadn't labeled this piece, so I have not idea what brand it is. Then I found some batiks that would work for the basic background - light blue for the top third, and dark green for the bottom 2 thirds. As you can see, I didn't even press the fabrics. There is going to be so many layers on top of this that a few wrinkles don't matter.

A few days ago, at my guild small group meeting, I whacked some batiks strips into little pieces - confetti, and saved them - first in a muffin tin, and then I found a perfect storage bin at JoAnn. I felt like I had a palette of paints ready to use to make a masterpiece!

I imagine layering the fabric like a painter would layer paints - starting with the farthest bake layer and then moving forward. I sprinkled my "paint" down on the background using the picture as my guide.  Then I added the tree trunks that stand "in front" of some of the leaves. Next came the first layer of tulle. 

I found the tulle at Hobby Lobby. They had probably over 20 colors. I was tempted to try a dark red or green, but settled on my standby black. It doesn't add color, but tones down colors that are too bright. So now I have a layer of tulle over all the little pieces of confetti. I pinned it together and brought it carefully to the machine. Even though I was careful, I still spilled bits of fabric all over my studio. 

Using the Bernina Stitch Regulator, I stitched down the tulle/confetti/background/batting/backing sandwich to keep most of the confetti in place. Now I added the top layer of confetti - the leaves that are in front of the tree trunks.  

Now comes the fun part - the thread painting. I used Isacord thread in several colors and stitched bubbles, leaves, and squiggles over the leaves. I added the highlights on the tree trunks with a light grey. 

I have a few more highlights and shadows to add and then I get to figure out how to finish it - binding? facing? staple to an art canvas?

Check out Noriko's book and try your hand at painting a confetti quilt. It's fun, uses scraps, and lets you practice your free motion quilting. Just a note of caution - put something over it or keep the cat out of the studio while you are working on it - also don't leave the windows open. Ask me how I know!

Friday, April 20, 2018

Seeing Quilts Everywhere

Inspiration - It's everywhere! Nature, architecture, other textiles, and of course other quilts.

My Pinterest board "Photos that Inspire Quilts" is jam packed with pins of ideas or subjects that I think would make great quilts. Pics of flowers, animals, landscapes, or abstract lovelies. 


 Everytime I travel, I see carpets, tiles, paintings, vistas from an airplane window that would make great quilts. Vacations are great opportunities to explore and experience landscapes and colors that would make great quilts. Our trip 4 years ago to the Galapagos Islands provided lots of ideas. Lava flows, birds, tortoises, sand, water - they were all gorgeous and all worthy of a cool quilt. 

 Of course other quilters are a huge source of inspiration. Before Pinterest, I used to comb through quilting magazines, tearing out pages of gorgeous quilts. I had files of pages - traditional, modern, colors I liked, applique quilts.  Now, I don't need paper pages anymore to get and organize inspiration. Don't you just luuuuuvvvv Pinterest? 

I have boards related to modern quilts, HST quilts, jelly roll quilts, applique quilts, landscape quilts, circle quilts, spiral quilts, crazy quilts, and a general category for "quilts I like". There are so many - I will NEVER want for inspiration. Not only do I have stash beyond life expectancy, I have ideas beyond life expectancy. I'll have to live to be 200! 

There are so many quilts out there waiting to be born. Big sigh . . . 
Where do you find your quilting inspiration?