Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Vintage Rose by Judy Niemeyer - Part One

I'm not sure I even know where to start. The beginning maybe?

I've been watching the Judy Niemeyer and Quiltworx phenomena for a few years. The patterns are really stunning and look very complex. Last fall I saw the new teaching piece Vintage Rose and fell in love.
OK, I have to make this. 

Thus begins my search for a workshop. I consider myself an experienced paper piecer, but I have never made a Judy Niemeyer (JN) quilt before and it seemed a little daunting. I won't go through the list of workshops I looked at - suffice it to say I was looking at everything from Montana to Phoenix. I found the perfect workshop at Kinderhook Lodge in Barry Illinois. It was sponsored by JN Certified shop Peddler's Way in Washington Illinois. Perfect place (4 hours drive), perfect time (beginning of May), and did not break the bank.

Diane and Linda, the ladies at Peddler's Way Quilt Company were so nice and helpful in getting me started. I ordered my pattern - the instructions and foundation papers - from them. On their advice, I signed up for Quiltster, an online program that enables quilters to design color placement on JN quilts. Given that there are hundreds (or more) pieces and thousands of coloring possibilities, there is no way I could have chosen colors without using Quiltster.  I worked up four possibilities and finally decided on a turquoise, orange, and pink colorway.

Since the workshop was only four days and the project quite intense, we had some prep work to do. Here is where it really started getting challenging. I've done a lot of paper piecing, but Judy's process includes cutting and stacking pieces so that the quilter can assembly line sew or chain piece. This was new to me. 

Judy's foundation papers are printed on newsprint, and included in the pattern are cutting templates. The directions indicate what size to cut large chunks of fabric. I pinned the newsprint cutting template to the fabric chunk and then cut along the indicated cutting lines. Most of the time my color choice required a stack of eight fabrics. So now for each section I have lots of stacks of fabrics clipped to the newsprint template. 

Ok, so I have my fabrics, most of them precut; pattern read, reread and highlighted; sewing machine and supplies packed; I'm ready to go.

Kinderhook Lodge is just across the Mississippi River from Hannibal Missouri. Good luck that there are at least three quilt shops between here and there - I decided to stop at two - Missouri Star in Hamilton and Hickory Stick Quilt Shop in Hannibal. Let's just say I left some money at each one.

Kinderhook Lodge is a beautiful facility - great food, and a peaceful setting. I'm hoping our guild can arrange some retreats there. Our Vintage Rose cohort is already planning a reunion next year.

So, are you curious about foundation piecing the Judy Niemeyer way? Stay tuned for Part 2!

Monday, May 8, 2017

Tile Applique

I have long drooled over the gorgeous tile applique quilts in Carole Jones' book Tile Quilt Revival. So when a sample of a small tile quilt appeared on the wall at Sarah's Fabrics with a sign saying classes were forming, I jumped at the chance to take it. 

Three wows - getting to take a class from Carol, whose work I have admired for years, the class pattern - sort of stylized leaves, and the fabric in the class kit - Kaffe. I couldn't pass it up.

I did have a bit of angst though. I had taken classes and tried four or five variations of needle turn hand applique (needle turn, prepared pieces, back basted) and it never caught on. I did not like hand applique. One might even say it stronger - I loathed hand applique.
But I went into this with a positive attitude - after all it had 3 wows going for it. 

So, what makes this tile applique? The grout! The shapes are basted right next to each other so that when 1/8 inch allowance from each shape is turned under, it looks tile with grout in between.

Carol is a great teacher. The pattern was just complex enough so that I wouldn't lose interest, but not so difficult that I'd never finish. Of course the Kaffe fabrics were a wonderful mix of color and pattern. Her verbal and written directions were spot on - she had us use freezer paper to trace the pattern and cut out the shapes, baste them in place and in no time I found myself with needle in hand, turning under a 1/8 inch seam allowance.

Now just 2 short weeks later, I have one (of four) panels completed and have started on the second. And I am loving it! My grouts are almost consistent, points are pointy, and inner curves are curvy and I'm loving the look of it.

Curious about Tile Applique? Check out Carol's book. It's a old technique but with a fresh new look.

Monday, May 1, 2017

A Design Wall of My Dreams

For most of us, a design wall is a necessity, not a luxury. The size of your design wall, like the size of your fabric stash  . . .  now that's another matter.

For years I had been making do with a portable design wall that looks very much like the projector screens we used to use many years ago - a stand with a roll up screen made of a clingy batting-like material. It was great for my small space. They are made here in Kansas and are a great product. Check them out at Pals Products.

But that was then. Now I find that I have outgrown my portable design wall. I keep having to take projects down to put up new projects. Because of my wonderful rotation system, I like to work on multiple projects at the same time. I need more space. I'd love 3 or 4 design walls.

I have my studio set up in my walk out basement and therefore only have really one wall available to mount a design wall. Half of that wall is taken up with IKEA bookshelves that hold my books, embroidery designs, some projects, Accuquilt GO dies, and my yardage fabrics. 

So, here is where the genius comes in (if I do say so myself). There is a soffit (right word?) encasing heating and air ducts right in front of the wall calling out for a design wall. I had seen sliding walls on Pinterest - OK, so why not put sliding design walls in this space? Sounds feasible, but beyond my skillset.

Enter Mike McKinney. I was referred to Mike by a quilting acquaintance. I explained what I wanted and he sounded positive. Yes, he could do that.  
So we (he did the hard work, I wrapped insulation board with flannel) mounted one design wall right on the wall. Since I do a lot of quilts with black background, this wall was covered with black flannel.

Next Mike built frames for two more design walls and mounted two tracks into the bottom of the soffit.

Now I have 3 design walls - a black one mounted to the wall, a grey one on the track closest to the wall, and a huge cream one on the outside. I can slide them around to have access to the book case,on and to look at the work on all the walls. 

I am keeping all three walls in use all the time. Currently I have Eclipse on the black wall, Kaffe Fassett on the grey wall and several small blocks on the white wall.

If you want Mike to build a sliding design wall for you, let me know. 

Monday, April 3, 2017

An Idea For My Magnum Opus - 50 Quilts from 50 States

I have imagined a project - epic in scope, my Magnum Opus, my masterpiece. I have even started collecting fabric and writing notes. 

50 Quilts from 50 States.

This project combines my love of quilting, color, techniques, travel and designing. Inspired by the landscape, culture, historical tradition, colors and people of each state. Each one featuring a different technique - well maybe not each one, cause that's 50 different techniques, but lots of different techniques.

One of my goals this year is to start getting these ideas to come to life - getting them out of my head and onto paper and fabric. So I thought my blog would be a great place to start. 

So my commitment is to get at least 3 state quilts designed, written and made this year. I'm not sure exactly where to start as I have notes and ideas for about 12 state quilts. 

I will probably start with Washington - I've already written about my visit and my favorite shop there. Unfortunately my favorite place is no longer there. Island Quilter on Vashon Island is now only an internet store. You can still order great fabrics from them and see them occasionally at shows and expos, but the ferry trip to Vashon to visit in person is sadly not the same. I am planning a cityscape of Seattle from the perspective of the ferry coming in from Bainbridge Island at sunset. Breathtaking!

I'm thinking I should also do New Hampshire. Saul and I traveled there in 2015 and I have in mind to do a bargello quilt with all the beautiful autumn colors. I just learned how to do bargello quilts this year and I think it would be a great technique to include.

The third state I think will be either Arizona or New Mexico. I've driven there several times to visit my Mom and experienced some beautiful scenery along the way. One area that is particularly striking is Antelope Canyon. I haven't seen it in person, but love, love, love the pictures. Can't you just envision small strips of rich batiks, embellished with yarns and other materials?

OK, I've got to get crackin'. Its April already!

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Learning and Laughing at Kimberbell Academy

I had a great opportunity last month to go with Mona and Liz from Mea Bernina to Logan Utah. Logan Utah? February? I know!
It was great!
Logan Utah is the home of Kimberbell Designs, a wonderful embroidery design company owned by Kim Christopherson. We were there to go through training so that Mea Bernina can offer very cool embroidery events. So now after the training we are officially a Kimberbell Certified Shop!

Our training was held in the gorgeous, spacious classroom at My Girlfriend's Quilt Shoppe owned by Kim's twin sister Kris. The shop has wonderful fabrics, including Kim's line of Kimberbell fabrics. I also bought some wool to use on Around the Garden (more about that in a later post).

We made a sampling of various types of projects from four of the main event collections: Pillow covers, goodie cinch bags, zipper bags, flower pins, and mug rugs. All absolutely adorable. What impressed me the most was how ingenious the digitizing team constructed the dimensional pieces - putting in zippers in the embroidery hoop, lining cinch bags in the hoop, using mylar and tule, and adding ribbon hanging loops.  Oh so much fun and so interesting! Our (Mea's) embroidery customers are going to love these projects! But until they are ready, we've got some other great Kimberbell classes. Check it out!

Logan Utah is in the Cache Valley, a beautiful vale surrounded by snow dusted hills. The trip there and back was also pretty cool. I had never been through north eastern Colorado or southern Wyoming before. The landscape was quite spectacular - barren and beautiful. The rock formations were awesome - perhaps they might inspire a future quilt!

Kimberbell rocks in so many ways - as a woman-owned and run business; as a source of sweet, cute embroidery designs (Kimberbell Kute); as a smart, customer-focused enterprise, and as great hosts in Logan.  Overall, a great trip!

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Autumn Path - A Confetti Project

Every time I sit down to write about a quilt or project, I think its my favorite! Yes, they are all my favorites - like your kids, you really can't choose. They are each special for different reasons.

Autumn Path is special for several reasons. First, it is my first confetti quilt. Second I learned this technique from Japanese quilter Noriko Endo. Third is that it is the first quilt that I actually sold! My baby is going out into the world!

OK, let's start at the beginning - I was visiting my Mom in Glendale, Arizona in 2014. At that time there happened to be an AQS show in Phoenix. Ohhhh two birds, one stone. 

In our materials list, Noriko asked that we bring a picture that we wanted to recreate in fabric. I found a photo on the internet of a path through a wood in beautiful autumn colors. 

First she had us lay down large blocks of color for the background. Then we sliced up fabric into matchstick size pieces. I used mostly batiks so that no matter what side was up it was the right side. 
After laying down the confetti pieces for the leaves and the path, I covered it all with a layer of black tule. We could have used any color, but I think black worked well. Some free motion quilting on the tule ensured that all the little confetti pieces were trapped under the tule. 

Next came more confetti to give depth and perspective. Finally, before a second layer of tule, Noriko went around the class and added little bits of turquoise, pink, and purple confetti. She said it was the secret ingredient to make our landscapes "pop". A final layer of tule and then some thread painting to highlight some areas and lowlight other areas. I finished it off with deep red piping and black binding.

Autumn Path was hanging at my mini-show at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship Founders Hall, and really grabbed the interest of the membership there. It's new home is with E. Jay Hilty. I'm glad he will be enjoying it.

If you ever get the chance to take a workshop with Noriko, run, do not walk, to sign up. She is a great teacher and a beautiful artist. Her book is a good reference, but nothing beats the real thing!

Curious About Confetti?

Friday, March 3, 2017

One Block Wonder - One crazy fabric equals one GEORGEOUS quilt

OK I almost don't even know where to start about One Block Wonder (OBW) quilts. I love them! I probably buy more OBW fabric than any other type of fabric.

My love affair with OBW quilts actually started with a Stack-n-Whack class at Overbrook Quilt Connection. What's the difference between OBW and SnW? The OBW was designed by Maxine Rosenthal. The SnW technique was designed by Bethany Reynolds. They are close cousins - the quilts, not the designers (grin). Both are kaleidoscope quilts. Both start with layers of fabric cut in exactly the same place. OBW usually have 6 layers and SnW usually have 8. OBW are cut in equilateral triangles; SnW are cut in wedges or 90 degree triangles. OBW are usually put together without a background, SnW utilizes a background fabric. You can get books that feature both techniques.

The SnW class I took at Overbrook Quilt Connection a million years ago was wonderful, although I am sorry that I don't remember who taught it. Here is what I do remember: my friend Bobbie and I used the same focus fabric with different backgrounds - I used yellow, she used green. The teacher warned us not to get our fabric mixed up, but one look at my area and you could tell by the mess that it was mine. Bobbie's fabric was nicely trimmed and stacked and mine was all over the place. There was no way we were going to mix up our stacks of fabric!

My next one was a OBW. My son James wanted a black and green quilt, so I decided to make him a OBW (see the first pic in the post). After looking for just the right fabric for a month or so, I finally found a cool tropical flower print in Colby Kansas.  I bought 6 or so yards - enough for the 6 repeats of the pattern plus some extra for borders.  After cutting the triangles and putting together the half hexies, I set aside all the blocks with the bright red, yellow, orange and yellow flowers. So James' quilt was mostly black and green and I had plenty of leftovers for a bright tablerunner.

One of the things I love about SnW and OBW is that you can use fabrics that you wouldn't normally put in a quilt - or at least fabric that I wouldn't normally use. You could even use "ugly" fabric! Check out some of the fabrics before I stacked and cut, and then the resulting hexagons. Pretty amazing, yes? 

Western Belt Buckle fabric

Kaffe Fassett Floral fabric

The other thing I love about OBW is that the technique is fairly simple. You just layer the fabric, cut strips and then triangles, and then sew 2 sets of 3 triangles together to make 2 half hexies. The hardest part is laying the hexies out in a way that "flows".

The third aspect of OBW that thrills me is that you have a million options when it comes to the layout - you can add tumbling blocks, solid strips, make the layout asymmetrical, or any number of other creative options. 

I am going to be teaching One Block Wonder quilts at Mea Bernina sometime in the future. I've taught 2 classes already and people want more. So check out the website for upcoming classes and come play with OBW quilts with me! 

Just writing about OBW makes me want to go down to my studio and play with my pretty OBW fabrics!