Thursday, December 27, 2012

On-Line Quilting Communties

    It's Christmas Day. The kids are visiting their other sets of parents. Hubby is napping in his chair. My son's dog Daisy is here visiting while he is at his Dad's - she is asleep at my feet and the cats are up in the bedroom hiding from Daisy. It's soooo quiet.
    So my mind turns to my endless To-Do list. One of the items on my list is to renew my subscription to Ricky Tims and Alex Anderson's The Quilt Show. My membership expires on December 31st.  I also want to consider which, if any other, groups to join and what magazines I might want to get this year. I was sort of hoping for a subscription to Quilting Life for Christmas, but alas . . .
    Even though I belong to a quilt guild and I work in a sewing store, there is so much else out there to learn about and keep up on - new techniques, new designers, quilt shows, nifty new tools, and new ideas to add to my quilting life. That's where the magazines and on-line quilt groups come in. 
    I have really enjoyed the videos and classes offered by TQS (The Quilt Show).  I started the 2012 BOM with Sarah Vedeler.  I didn't get very far - but that's another story. I don't always read the daily blog, but I really look forward to the videos and have re-watched most of them.  I've never been one to participate in forums or chat rooms, but I like knowing they are there in case I want to ask a question. 
    Lately I've been checking out QNNtv.com - a Fons and Porter sponsored site. They also have videos that look interesting.
    As far as the magazines go, I am leaning toward Ricky and Alex's Quilt Life, the AQS magazine American Quilter, Fons and Porter's Love of Quilting, and Art Quilts.  I think there is a mag for Modern Quilting  - I need to check into it.
    Yesterday I signed up for Quilting Daily sponsored by Interweave Press. They send out a daily email about various quilting topics.
    So here is my final list of online communities, email newsletters, and quilting magazines:

  • The Quilt Show 
  • Quilters Club of America (including QNNtv)
  • Quilt Life Magazine
  • AQS American Quilter
  • Love of Quilting
  • Art Quilts
  • Quilting Daily
    If anyone has any other recommendations, I would love to hear about them.  Thanks!
Curious about magazines and online communities.
Denise

Monday, December 17, 2012

Poinsettias

BFF Bobbie and I went on a Quilt Shop bus trip last April and I found this beautiful Poinsettia wall hanging pattern by Edyta Sitar at Oklahoma Quiltworks.  Then the next day I gathered the batiks at Charlotte's Sew Natural in Newton (Mom's name is also Charlotte, so it was meant to be!). I started cutting out the applique pieces at Bobbies last month and finished quilting it last week.
My Mom called today to tell me that she received it and absolutely loved it! I do think it turned out pretty nice. This was only the forth quilt that I quilted myself - I'm getting better at it.

Edyta has some gorgeous applique wall hanging patterns. Check out her website!
On to the next project! So many quilts, so little time.
Curious at Christmastime,
Denise

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Fabric Post Card Exchange - Sew Much Fun!

    Today - my first fabric postcard:

    How this all started - Some of my quilting friends had shown me postcards they received from other quilters as part of a post card exchange. I was really envious - of all the wonderful cards they received as well as the fun and challenge of making postcards to send. So when the opportunity came up at our guild mini retreat in September I signed up. There were 3 possible groups based on themes - flowers, Kansas, and holidays. I joined the Kansas group. There are 6 of us in total and the guidelines are to send 2 postcards - 1 before Christmas and 1 in March to each of the other 5 people in the group. This seemed do-able to me.
    I received my first postcard from Carol just before Thanksgiving. Love it! 

   Receiving that first card from Carol spurred me on to start working on my first postcard. After watching a show featuring Karen Eckmeier on The Quilt Show, I decided to do a layered landscape and what says landscape more than the flint hills of Kansas! 
Since it is Fall now I wanted to do it in browns and tans and of course batiks would make the perfect landscape. After I cut and layered the fabric, I used a manila folder with a 4x6 inch window to do a preview of my landscape.

   Next it was time for appliqueing and thread painting. I put some round squiggles on the nearest mountain, some vertical but messy lines for tall grass in the foreground and some wisps in the blue for clouds. 
   Then the card was ready to assemble. I used computer transfer fabric for the back of my postcard and included a clue that this was the Flint Hills. I then used steam-a-seam to fuse the back and front to super stiff interfacing.
 And finally a decorative stitch around the edge to finish it off. I am really pleased with my first postcard.
    I put them out for the mail yesterday and I can't wait to see new postcards from my quilting friends in my mailbox.
   Come see the Flint Hills - any time of year they are beautiful!
Denise

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Stretching Myself, Not Just My Fabric

Sometimes being able to stretch your fabric is a good thing. Sometimes when fabric stretches in the wrong place it's not so good. But when I stretch myself to learn and try new things it's always a good thing even when the outcome may not look so good.  
    I've been stretching myself in several ways lately and this stretching will continue on through the new year. 
1.  I've joined a postcard exchange with the guild. I've never made fabric postcards before and really wanted to try this. Today, my first postcard gets sent out to 5 other guild members and my BFF in Seattle.
2. I am designing a Kansas-Named Block sampler quilt (I have to come up with a sexier name for it) and hope to offer it to the guild for the BOM for next year.

3.  I've signed up for a year-long color and design class taught by Kathy Pflaum at Stitching Traditions in Topeka. This class is challenging me to stretch my thinking in so many ways - not just about color and design, but about being good enough and not letting perfectionism stall a great idea.
4.  I started working at Mea Bernina last May. I am loving it! I have learned so much about sewing machines and have started saving for a new machine. Staring in January I am teaching a BOM class focusing on learning new techniques and using various feet and accessories for the Bernina machines. I am so excited about it - both the learning and the teaching.
5. I've tried a new finishing technique called facing . . . .the jury is still out on this one, I like the look but the process was painful. Maybe I need to find a different way of doing it.
6.  I signed up (last January) for a monthly source called Superior University to learn about the different threads that Superior has to offer. So this challenge has stalled a bit - I have all the threads in a box and the instructions in a notebook but not a stitch sewn yet. But the intention and will is there. I will stretch myself in terms of the thread I try.
7. I am learning and practicing free motion quilting whenever I can. I used free motion on the first C & D class project, the postcards, and a poinsettia wall hanging I am just now binding to send to Mom for Christmas. I want to learn how to do more than just stippling. I think I've got that down.
8. Jerrye V. and I are doing a program for the guild in January 2013 about the studio spaces where women create. I am enjoying this, but am a little nervous - but again, stretching me out of my comfort zone!

    When I look at this list I feel proud of myself for trying new things.
WooHoo!
Denise

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Color and Design Class Project #2 - Update - Fabric Cut!

As I posted earlier about this project, I obsessed quite a bit on the color, the design, and my fabric choices. It feels so good to have decisions made and the first fabric cut. So I thought I would post an update.
    Reminder - I decided to use fabrics in the red-violet hue. After making 1 square, this is what my tub of fabric looks like.  I'm starting the quilt from the center out in case I want to make it a wall hanging instead of a quilt.

I'm using the Jewel Squares pattern by Kaffe Fassett.  There are 6 sizes of squares ranging from 1.5 to 9 inches (finished size). The squares are constructed using the foundation paper piecing method. I decided to use Ricky Tims' Stable Stuff Poly as my foundation material as it is meant to be left in the quilt and turns to a soft batting type material when wet. I've not used it before, so this is a chance to try a new product.
    Today I finished my first block - a 9 inch block that will live near the center of the wall hanging/quilt. I love how the dark and light, pure hue as well as tone, tint  and shade work well together.  The block went together quickly - even though I'm coughing and sniffling with a cold! I should be able to finish at least the wall hanging size before class on 15 December!
So much fun!
Denise

Monday, November 26, 2012

Big Stitch Quilting

One of the themes for this year is COMPLETION.  I have been working pretty diligently on finishing up quilts started many years ago.  This wall hanging, called simply "Fall", is one of the ones I decided to finish. 
    I think I started the quilt in a basic quilt making class - I don't even remember now where or when.  The pattern is from the book Backyard Treasures by Kansas Troubles.  Then quite a few years later (again I don't remember - there is a case here for better quilt documentation!) I took a class at Prairie Point from Linda Potter on what she called then Qwik Stitch Quilting. Since then Linda has changed the name and wrote a book about the technique. It is really cool - embellishing with big stitches, beads and quilting at the same time. So when I took the class I decided to use my Fall wall hanging as a practice piece for the big stitch quilting.  
    This year when I brought the wall hanging out to finish, it was about 2/3 done. I found some beautiful #12 purl cotton when I was in Seattle and it was just what I needed to finish this wall hanging.

    It was quite a learning process. I did some straight lines (with both regular stitches and long and short stitches), curves and swirls, and french knots, and . In some of the sections I got sort of carried away and did probably too much quilting. The section with the acorns was one of these. I ended up taking the stitching out (very easy to do with the big stitch) and just doing a simple shadow effect on each of the acorns. I think this looks much better.  

    I really enjoyed the big stitch and will certainly use it again on something. Perhaps a mix of big stitch and regular machine quilting! But for now the wall hanging is finished and hanging on the wall of my studio.
Curious about new techniques!
Denise

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Color and Design Class #2 - Monochromatic Quilt

    So, I have let my obsessive nature get out of control - resulting in a week of worrying about what I am going to make for my second color and design class at Stitching Traditions
    I had started a quilt years ago called Bloomin' Nine Patch from Tradition with a Twist. I have it in a tub - a mix of calicoes (!!!), Asian fabrics, batiks, and florals in a red violet morphing into cream with some green thrown in. I liked it when I started it years ago, but now it just does not represent my taste. But could I use some of that fabric for my monochromatic quilt?
   That question sent me to the fabric store (in this case Sarah's - I'm an equal opportunity shopper!) to see what I could find to augment my older fabric. I came out with an assortment that was . . . OK . . .  but not great - in my opinion at least. I lined them up, snapped a pic, which helped me realize that I needed another fabric to ease the transition between the light and medium fabrics. I thought I wanted to do something that used a seamless flow from light to dark - I was thinking Bargello, Trip Around the World, or something like it.  I was afraid that such an ambitious quilt would not be done by next year, let alone next month. I was having all these doubts. What was going on?

    The whole reason I am taking this class is to stretch myself in terms of my color usage. Maybe my whole discomfort was because I was doing something new. I wanted to use the red-violet palette and sort of wanted to include all the facets - pure hue, tone, shade, and tint. But the fabrics I had just didn't look right to me. I couldn't make a decision. I even messaged my teacher Kathy to ask for a chat about my concerns. Then late last night it all came together.
   I went to bed dreaming about a monochromatic blue quilt I had seen on-line by Cassie using Kaffe Fassett's Jewel Sqaures pattern. I woke up sure that this is the quilt I should make. I can use all different aspects of red-violet and not worry about seamless color transitions.  I received my copy of Kaffe's book yesterday and so today I am off to the copy store to have the paper foundation patterns in the book enlarged. I don't have to have the whole quilt done by next month, perhaps just a quarter of it. Woo Hoo! I love when a plan finally comes together - at least in my mind.
Whew, another obsession catastrophe averted! Just in the nick of time too! Ill post pics of the quilt in progress.
Sometimes obsessively curious,
Denise

Friday, November 16, 2012

Color and Design Class - Project 1

    I am going to my Color and Design class tomorrow at Stitching Traditions in Topeka. The first assignment was to do a quilt in neutrals.
    I expect this class will really challenge me as I tend to get stuck in perfectionism - I would never be able to finish a quilt a month if I took my normal view of things. So I have decided not to worry about construction, but to do something simple that embodies the technique we are supposed to learn and to use the completed quilt top as a practice canvas for free motion quilting. I think I did that pretty well on my first project!
    As I was sitting on the plane on my way to Seattle a couple of weeks ago, I spent the time as a captive previewing some options for this first quilt assignment. I tried blacks and whites in a geometric quilt, an abstract something or other, and I finally settled on Morning Java - the name even came to me! Although I don't drink coffee (so it couldn't by MY morning java), I have always found the aroma and the effect of cream first entering the steamy surface appealing. Our teacher Kathy Pflaum said we could use white, grey, and black or ecru, tan and brown to represent neutrals, and as I thought about a graduated series of cream, mocha, and deep rich brown batiks, I knew exactly what I would do. We could also use one accent color - I debated between a red mug and a turquoise mug - well as you see, the turquoise won out.
    I found the cream to dark brown batiks at Over The Rainbow during my visit with Bobbie in Seattle. Over The Rainbow is an internet store that is open to the public on the first Saturday of the month. I got some really good deals on these batiks there - 8.75 per yard!
    So I did a rough sketch on freezer paper, cut the shapes and fused them to a backing of cream muslin. I practiced stippling, cross hatching and other shapes that I don't even know the name of. To make sure viewers knew what it is supposed to represent, I quilted "Morning Java" into the background. I am rather happy with the result! We'll see what feedback I get tomorrow in class.
Always curious,
Denise

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Quilting With BFF in Seattle

Hi from Seattle!
I am here visiting my BFF Bobbie. We're going to shop, sew, rest and talk for 9 wonderful days. We try to get together several times a year and really enjoy each others' company. 
    Today we went to one of my favorite quilt shops - Island Quilter on Vashon Island in the Puget Sound. Last year when I was here I started collecting some bold Kaffe Fassett fabric for a quilt pattern called Star Struck by Maggie Ball for Dragonfly Quilts. They had a wonderful sample in the shop, but as usual, I wanted to change colors a bit. So I went with pinks, oranges, purples and teals. Today I completed purchasing the fabric for the quilt top.  I love the bright, bold colors. It's going to zing!

Curious about quilting in Seattle,
Denise

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

My Quilting Bucket List

I'm always commenting that I should do this or that, learn something, or go somewhere related to my quilting. People have bucket lists for life; why not a Quilting Bucket List? So today I made my QBL:

  • Make a self portrait quilt (real and caricature)
  • Do a pictorial quilt (my cat Marko in a bowl)
  • Go on a quilt cruise
  • Make a Kaffe Fassett fabric quilt
  • Go to the Houston Quilt Show
  • Go to Sisters Oregon outdoor quilt show
  • Make a black and white quilt
  • Hand quilt a quilt
  • Make a Paula Nadelstern Kaleidoscope quilt
  • Design and make a Kansas-named-block sampler quilt
  • Learn EQ-7
  • Make a crazy quilt
  • Travel around the country and make travel inspired quilts
  • Blog about my quilting experiences
I have tons of other quilts I want to make and workshops to take, but these are the special once (OK maybe twice) in a lifetime events.
Every day is a good day if I'm quilting!
Denise

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Kansas City Modern Quilt Guild

    I've been considering checking out the Kansas City Modern Quilt Guild for some time and finally decided to take the plunge. I was a bit skeptical because I wasn't sure that I needed another group to belong to.
    Now I'm enchanted! The program was great, the people were friendly, the snacks delish, the quilts incredible and I'm going to join at the next meeting.
    The program featured Jenny Doan from the Missouri Star Quilting Company. Missouri Star specializes in precuts (charm packs, jelly rolls, layer cakes, etc.) and they have great video tutorials with tips for using these precuts in new and unusual ways. One of my favorites is the Summer in the Park that Jenny is talking about in this pic. Check out the video tutorial for making this quilt.
    A whole new world has opened up. Check out Missouri Star Quilting Company and the KC Modern Quilt Guild!
Always Curious,
Denise

Monday, September 10, 2012

Kansas Quilt Blocks

So, I'm curious about quilt blocks that have Kansas in the name. I know it's a bit premature because I shouldn't start any new quilts for a while, but I really want to make a quilt with traditional Kansas blocks.
A quick search (thank you Google!) yielded the following blocks:
  • Rocky Road to Kansas
  • Kansas Star
  • Kansas Dugout
  • Kansas Troubles
  • Kansas Dust Storm
  • Kansas Fortune
  • Kansas Twister 
  • Kansas Sunflower
Faith in Chicago posted a great tutorial on making the Rocky Road block above on her site Fresh Lemons.
Sooooo, I think I now have 2 new quilts in the design incubator! It's the fun part!
Does anyone know of any other Kansas-named blocks?
Denise

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Frustrated - Marking Quilts

I am almost done with my Holly Wreath lap quilt. I just need to quilt the outer border. I have done free motions quilting the the rest of the quilt and am fairly happy with the results given that its my first one - I do need practice.  But in trying to quilt the outer border I have run into trouble - marking so that I can see and follow the marks.
    I have 5 different marking pens or pencils and none of them are working. I can't see the lines very well on dark green and red/gold striped fabric. 
    A quick check on-line for advice about marking quilts yielded some explanations for my frustration - I should have marked the quilt top totally before I started quilting it and  starched the fabric. Some people have had success with different marking methods. The one that looks best to me almost seems to be the most involved - copy your quilting design on paper, stitch on the paper thereby perforating it, use pounce chalk to mark the quilt top and then quilt it. I may try this next time as I have no pounce materials at the moment.
Does anyone have any advice?
Curious about marking,
Denise

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Where Does Your Inspiration Come From?

    I am continually amazed by the widespread variety of people, places and things that inspire quilters to create beautiful quilts. Patterns, shop models, a beautiful piece of fabric, nature, experiences, travels, and special people are just a few of the inspirations for quilters. The quick availability of cameras make capturing the inspiration so easy.


    My inspiration mostly comes from patterns or models I have seen. Sometimes I see a fabric that I know someone would love - like this latest quilt I did for my daughter who loves chocolate. The pattern is simple - it's the fabrics that spoke to me.










My friend Bobbie embroidered the chocolate motifs in the cream blocks.
    A totally new (new to me) inspiration came my way the other day. My hubby and I were watching a TV show on Netflix - Damages - a gritty series about a morally challenged lawyer played by Glenn Close. The opening shots are shades of gray-green scenes of New York City. There is one shot in particular that I love. So I paused the show and took a pic with my phone of that scene. I think it would make a dynamite quilt. I'm not sure how I'll do it yet or how I'll get the fabrics - I may have to dye them myself!
Check back to see how I am tackling this design challenge!
Always curious!
Denise
   

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Ruth Powers - Fantastic Quilter / Artist in a Terrific Studio Space

    In preparation for the KVQG January program, Jerrye and I made a trip south of Topeka near Burlingame to visit the quilting studio of Ruth Powers, one of our guild members.

    My first thought was WOW . . . as well as my second thought and my third thought. Wow, Wow, Wow! Ruth is what I call an art quilter - pardon me Ruth if I have too narrowly or incorrectly characterized your work. Ruth pieces quilts that look so realistic that they could be photos - but they are better than photos with her subtle use of pattern and color in the fabrics she chooses. This quilt (above) is on her website - isn't it fantastic? She also creates and sells her patterns - check it out here. Ruth teaches classes at Stitching Traditions in Topeka - I'm definitely going to sign up. 

  Ruth's studio is both calm and vibrant. She uses antique pieces to store patterns, books, thread and other necessities in. The antiques give the room a wonderful softness.
     I love how she uses colorful threads in a typesetters tray as wall art. Right outside the window are bird feeders and while we were there an oriel treated us to a show.
    What a treat! Thanks so much Ruth. I can't wait to take one of your classes.
Always your curious quilter,
Denise

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

KVQG Program - It's All in the Sashing by Barb Eikmeier

    We had a wonderful program at KVQG yesterday. Barb Eikmeier gave a presentation on the many different ways one can use sashing to put blocks together. It's such a simple thing, but with all the variety Barb showed us the possibilities are endless. Very inspiring! I'll never look at sashing the same old way again.
    One of the main sashing and cornerstone block methods she talked about implemented a special cutting ruler from Marti Michell. Check it out here. Barb's quilts using this technique were stunning.
Later,
D
    
    

Saturday, August 18, 2012

3D Blocks Class

    I love taking classes. I always learn so much from the teacher as well as the other students. I get to see projects in colors that I wouldn't normally use and it inspires me to maybe try something different next time.
    Today I took a class at Stitching Traditions in Topeka. The teacher, Kathy Pflaum, was wonderful with all her tips and tricks for success. She will be teaching a year-long color and design class starting in October. I'm checking my calendar to see if I can swing it.
    These blocks are built up in layers  - there is no piecing and in fact, very little sewing. Each layer is folded into either a rectangle, square, triangle or other shape and attached by stitching around the outside of a base block.  A good hot iron and some sizing or pressing agent is useful to get nice crisp folds. I finished these 2 in class and hope to finish another one tonight.  This could get addicting!
    The book 3D Folded Blocks is by Geeseje Baron and Esther Vermeer - check out their website.   

Still Curious in Kansas!
D

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Road Trip to Wichita

My son AJ and I are on the road today. He wanted a little vacation and there is a Star Wars exhibit in Wichita, so we headed down south. I got to stop at 2 quilt shops yesterday - Charlotte's Sew Natural in Newton and Material Girls in Wichita.  Both shops had a great selection of fabrics and wonderfully nice staff, especially Charlotte in Newton. 
 Material Girls has a strikingly beautiful and colorful quilt that will be featured along with the shop in the upcoming issue of Quilt Sampler magazine. They are taking orders now for the kit. It has mostly Kaffe Fassett fabrics. I am considering getting the pattern if its sold separately. It drew me in as soon as I walked in the shop. 


  I tried to resist impulsive buying and generally I did pretty well. I ended up adding a couple of books by Kim Schaefer and a couple of patterns to my library.  
     Since I am still collecting 30s reproductions and Black and Whites, I got a few FQ of each. 
   The largest purchase was 6 yards of Ingrid by Wrenly fabrics to use as a backing for Bird's Eye View

I may get to stop into one more shop today, and then it's home.

Curious on the road,
Denise

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Making Minkee Monsters at Mea Bernina


    Well, the weekend is almost over - our garage sale was a great success and I am beat! More about it all later - I still have stash!
    Last Friday while at work at Mea Bernina I got to make Minkee Monsters. They are adorable little monsters made from super soft minkee fabric. We have the coolest program that enables you to embroider the cute monster features and then even lets you sew it up around the edge. How cool is that! 
    Working on an Bernina Artista 640, I made a monster in about 2 hours - that included some stops and starts. I am sorta getting into this embroidery business. That could be dangerous!
   I'm putting my tired self to bed!
Good night,
D

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Camaraderie of Quilters

Our small quilting group met this morning as we usually do twice a month in between larger guild meetings. There are 8 of us in the group and recently about 5 of us show up at any one time - especially during the summer when people are traveling.
    We bring cutting or handwork to do and everyone brings their new books, magazines or patterns to show. We are all trying to pare down on magazines so we bring a stack of those to share and trade - each of us ripping out the pages that appeal to us. Spontaneous comments like "Oh look at this one!" can be heard as we thumb through the magazines. Today I brought scraps to cut into usable squares (1 1/2, 2, 2 1/2, 3 1/2, and 5 - see Joan Ford's Scrap Therapy system) to work on.
    We learn from each other, share patterns and fabric, support each other, laugh and commiserate together. We are already tossing around ideas for the boutique for next year's quilt show. I think it would be great to go together on a quilting retreat. Hmmmm . . . I may just have to start planning this. 
    I belong to the guild. But I really FEEL like I belong because of the wonderful women in my small group. Thank you Ladies!
To quilting friends!
D

Saturday, August 4, 2012

There's No Place Like Home!

     Home again! Usually when I get home from a trip I want to jump right into my studio - usually to start something new. This time I am being disciplined! We are having a yard sale next weekend to get ready to put the house on the market and move to a smaller place. So I am going through closets and cupboards to identify stuff I no longer need, love or that won't fit into an as yet unknown smaller house. This includes my yarn as well as my fabric stash that lives in a back closet. I'll be lucky to have this much room in the new place.
Project and Fabric Stash 
    I'm about half way though the yarn and hope to finish that today. My kids are helping me by pushing me a bit. It is exhausting for me to make all these decisions.
    Tonight - finish putting the binding on Amy's chocolate quilt so I can photograph it and show you tomorrow.
Til then,
D