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!

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Eclipse - A Terrific Quilt and A Terrific Group of Friends

I have been working on this wonderful quilt for the past year. It's not a secret, I promise. It's been one of my favorites - the quilt as well as the quilting group doing it with me. 

We started last January - 6 of us. Kim turned us onto Eclipse from Mainstreet Market Designs and now we call ourselves the Eclipsettes. We each chose our own colors - 24 of them for those of us following the pattern (some of us decided to use 12 colors instead). I went to Stitch On and got 24 small prints that skip oh so nicely around the color wheel.  I also chose to go with the black background - I think the colors really pop.

So we decided to do 3 spokes a month, the spokes being paper pieced in 2 sections. They went together fairly easy and most of my fellow Eclipsettes are finished by now. I am almost caught up. Just some outter borders to go. The worrisome part is whether my outter circle and borders will fit nicely onto the inner circle. We'll see soon.

 OK, so the quilt is great, but even better is the friendship we share. We talk, laugh, share quilting tips, eat, drink, laugh some more. I've gotten to know 6 beautiful women through this craft, just as many of our fore-mothers did.  Last summer we went on a retreat at Kelly Ashton's The Creative Place so that we would have uninterrupted time to work on Eclipse and other projects. We had a blast.  What happens at retreat stays at retreat.

In today's time of instant communication, media overload, and bad news all around, small, intimate groups of like-minded friends are my calm in a crazy storm. I can't over-estimate the value of these friends.

Although the year of Eclipse is drawing to a close, our group has decided to keep going. We were the Eclipsettes and now we are the Hueys (as in Getting to Know Hue).

If you find a group of friends like mine, cherish them as the treasures they are.


Sunday, February 19, 2017

Space Journey EPP Mystery Quilt - Hillbilly Quilt Shop

So what's better than an fussy cut EPP project combined with a mystery? Not much! Tonya Owens of Hillbilly Quilt Shop designed this project using Paula Nadelstern's Chromazone medallions.  

We were directed to choose 3 fabrics that complement the Paula Nadelstern medallion fabric. I choose a bright lemon-lime, a teal and a fuscia. Love, Love, Love those colors.  

At this point we have hexagons, diamonds, large and small triangles and no clue how they go together.  I prepared all my paper pieces to take on a cruise (that never happened). Oh they were beautiful - little baggies of color.

Piece by piece the sections took shape. Tonya gave them wonderful space-type names like Stars, Meteoroids, Super Novas, Space Stations, Tie Fighters, and Space Rovers. 

I now have it half completed and I am liking the look. I'm sort of toying with adding another section. Luckily I had a premonition that I might want it longer, so I bought some extra medallion focus fabric. 

Another great EPP project!

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

2017 - New BOMs! Oh Boy!

OK, so we all know I am a BOM addict. And here it is a new year, with a bunch of new BOMs starting. How could I resist?

So, here is the new 2017 BOM rundown:

Overbrook Quilt Connection is hosting a BOM in which you pay for your first month's block and if you get it done and bring it back next month, you get that month's fabric free. Free is good! 

I love the pattern as well as their fabric choices - and that doesn't happen very often. The unique layout of the blocks is really what drew me in. The fabrics are solid/tone on tone dark purple, magenta, gold, dark turquoise and dark grey with a white background. I haven't made the first block yet, but I'm definitely on schedule to have it finished in time to get my free second block.

Even though I haven't completely finished last two year's Hexagon Quilt Along with Katja Marek, I am getting ready to start the new one called Perpetually Hexie.  Katja's projects are all done with English Paper Piecing technique. I've ordered the paper pieces for the first two months. I'm not sure, but I am probably going to do this one in batiks, although grey batiks, true grey, are difficult to find. 

Next up is the 2017 Murder Mystery BOM by Whipstitch Modern Sewing.  I generally don't particularly like mystery quilts because they are a challenge to chose the colors since you don't know how its going to turn out. The interesting thing about this mystery BOM is that a chapter of the murder mystery story comes with the pattern.  The setting for the story is Cumberland Island, off the coast of the Georgia/Florida border. The main character is archaeobotanist Kitty Campbell. Should be interesting!  The first pattern (clue) arrived a few days ago, and I still am needing to locate (buy?) the main background fabric. She recommends, and I think I agree, that a bright green might just be the right color for the background.

The forth BOM on the list is Down the Rabbit Hole by Sarah Fielke. Our first block is expected at the end of January - so I'm not behind yet! I bought a champagne-colored linen-like fabric called "Quilters Linen" by Robert Kaufman. First time I've ever tried it, so I'll let you all know how I like it. I am thinking about using wild, wonderful Kaffe fabrics for the appliques.

Now, last (maybe until another one entices me) but not least is The Quilt Show's Halo Medallion, designed by the late, great Sue Garman.  My quilt is going to have a much different look - I chose a paisley on black for my focus fabric and will use blue, green, red and gold from the focus fabric for the accents. 

So that's 5 (1 in a shop and 4 on-line) new BOMs on top of the ones I'm still working on and the new ones I may start later . . .  Like I said, I'm a BOM addict!

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Houston Class #4 - Bent Star with Gyleen X Fitzgerald

I first became acquainted with Gyleen Fitzgerald through a sew along on Facebook.  She was guiding us through a mystery stash buster called Bricks, Cobblestones and Pebbles, which she subsequently published in book form. It is a really cool pattern and is a great way to use up some of your scraps.  
So when I saw her on the class program at Houston, I jumped at the chance to meet her in person. I wasn't disappointed. She is a dynamo!

Her class, Bent Star, was a class in which we learned some piecing techniques including how to handle set in seams. My first challenge was fabric choice - I loved her colors and wanted the same bold impact without being a copy cat. I was able to find darker and lighter tone on tone fabrics in 4 different colors - fuscia, teal, green, and brick.  I chose two shades of brown for the small kite shapes. I think it looks sort of 3-D because of the light/dark values of the same colors.
I started with a dark blue for the background, but the teal blocks just faded away. Since I really wanted the star to pop, I tried several light greys before finally settling on this very light grey.

Gyleen quilted hers with straight lines and angles. Not feeling quite up to so many absolutely STRAIGHT lines, I decided to do come gentle curves - all going horizontally across the quilt.  I'm pretty pleased with the results. It makes a very stunning wallhanging.
Check out Gyleen's stuff!

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Panamanian Mola

A Mola? What's that? OK, let's ask Wikipedia

A Mola is a fabric panel made and used by Kuna women of Panama to create their beautiful traditional outfits.  The panels are made by reverse appliqueing and then cutting away the top layer to reveal the colorful fabric underneath.

Authentic Mola includes hundreds of pieces and very tiny hand stitching.  Quilt shows occasionally have booths that sell products made from Mola pieces.  I bought a pair of Mola shoes at a show in Iowa that are absolutely adorable.

Cathy Miller, also known as the singing quilter, taught a workshop in Leavenworth this past fall, called Mock Mola. It was "mock" because we used machines and raw edge applique. It was "mola" because the process is similar to, and some of our designs were inspired by, traditional Mola.

We drew the design on thin quilting paper, attached it to the back of a quilt sandwich, sewed on the lines, and then cut away the top layer to show the fabric underneath. In order to make my simple mola more in line with traditional mola, I used different colors of batiks in different sections of the sandwich, so that when the top layer of black batik was cut away, surprise!! different colors of batiks showed through. It's important to use batik or other tightly woven fabric to limit fraying when cutting the top layer away.

OK, so when creating this design, I had so many ideas, that I will probably do several more of these. I'd also like to try making one with more, smaller motifs - more like the traditional ones. Cathy Miller was a great teacher, so if you have a chance to take a class from her, I highly recommend it. 

Like Mola? Try it, you'll enjoy it!