Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Quilt Shows - A Boost of Inspiration

Quilt shows are one of the most inspiring events a quilter can experience. Quilts, classes, special exhibits, vendors, seeing old friends and meeting new ones - it all comes together at a quilt show. For me recently it was the Kansas City Regional Quilt Festival that meets every two years at the Overland Park Convention Center in Overland Park Kansas.

This show is the result of the combined effort of the members of 18 guilds from the greater Kansas City area. It is organized and run by a board of volunteers from the 18 guilds - each guild having an area of responsibility. This year was the third show and they seem to get better and better every year. I'm already looking forward to 2021!

This year, I viewed (very closely in some cases) the approximately 450 quilts in the guild showcase area, 100 quilts in the judged area, 40 quilts in the special exhibits, and the 7 challenge quilts. I took 4 classes, attended 1 trunk show, entered 1 quilt in the judged portion of the show, had 1 quilt appraised, volunteered twice to be a "White Glove" ambassador, sold opportunity tickets for my guild's raffle quilt, volunteered to support the quilt appraiser, shopped the vendors, and enjoyed the company of 2 good friends at a nearby hotel. I had an awesome time! The only thing I wish I had done now was to attend the Ricky Tims Concert, as Ricky is one of my favorite people, as well as a favorite quilter.

I'll write about my classes in separate posts, suffice it to say, I learned a bunch and met some great and inspiring teachers.

There was inspiration at every turn. One of the most inspiring corners of the show was Cindy Parry's special exhibit.

Cindy's exhibit was called Tohoku Daishinsai which means Tohoku Disaster. Cindy, who was born in Japan, was especially touched by the 2011 Tsunami and decided to translate her anxiety, sorrow, love and worry for the people of Japan into a series of  15 wonderful wall hangings.   
Cindy used multiple techniques in her wall hangings (which always makes my socks go up and down) as well as incorporating images from Japanese newspapers and her personal photographs.

Cindy's work inspired me in several ways - first of all is her technique and workmanship, secondly is that she was inspired by an event and turned her feeling into quilts, thirdly is that she worked in a series - with each wall hanging being different, but around a common theme.                      
 Cindy says that her profound sadness and obsessive thoughts about the devastation have lessened somewhat since she has completed the quilts and traveled twice to the affected area (in addition to her annual trips to Japan). Other quilters have indicated to Cindy that they too have made meaningful quilts that helped them heal from their own private suffering.

A final thought (for now) from Cindy - "I think my best quilts are those that mean something to me. I think that most any subject when carefully considered, has many aspects and angles from which the story can be told. From those, a series can be born." Food for thought as I consider my quilting going forward. I see some series in my future.
Didn't see her exhibit at KC Regional Quilt Fest? No worries. Cindy's exhibit will be at the Starlight Quilters Guild on August 27th. Can't make that meeting? Check out the Japan Festival at Johnson County Community College on October 5th.

If you would like to bring Cindy to your guild or organization for a presentation on her quilts, please contact her at She spoke at our guild and I was riveted. 

Keeping it Curious about my sister quilters and what inspires them.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

50 Quilts from 50 States - Iowa

Even before I started quilting, I fell in love with the Bridges of Madison County Iowa. I read the book, I watched Meryl Streep and Clint Eastwood fall in love in the movie, I even had a CD with original songs by the book's author Robert James Waller

My first trip to Iowa included a visit to Winterset to see the bridges, as well as the birthplace museum of John Wayne. My second trip included a trip to the Iowa Quilt Museum to see an exhibit by MaryAnn Fons.

So, obviously, my inspiration for Iowa has to be the Bridges. Obviously there is lots to see and do in Iowa. Corn, there is corn, lots of corn. A sea of corn - it stretches as far as the eye can see. The Amana Colonies are interesting from a historical and cultural perspective, as is the Mississippi River Museum in Dubuque.

Guilds and Shops in Iowa
Iowa is the home to Fons and Porter, the iconic quilting gurus who have been publishing patterns, magazines and videos for over 20 years.

The Generations Quilt Patterns website has 40 guilds and 132 shops on their list. I've visited a few in Des Moines, the Amana Colonies, and Council Bluffs - where my favorite shop is. Whenever my son AJ and I go to the Omaha Zoo (stay tuned for my Nebraska Quilt), we always stop at Cut Up & Quilt in Council Bluffs. 

The Inspiration
The Bridges - Cedar, Cutler-Donahoe, Hogback, Holliwell, Imes, and Roseman are the remaining bridges in Madison County. But how to incorporate them? I took several pictures on my trip, but they really didn't sing to me.
I did find several fabric panels with covered bridges but a wall hanging with a panel also didn't sing to me. But I was getting closer. 

My friend Liz Granberg-Jerome of Gypsy Dreamer Quilts teaches classes on using panels for One Block Wonder quilts. She calls them Hexified Panels. OK, that's it, the perfect technique for this panel wallhanging!

The Quilt
I found a panel that had good color, looked like the bridges I saw in Madison County and I thought it would be a great candidate for a One Block Wonder. The panel was made from a painting by artist Larry Hersberger.  So I ordered 7 panels (6 to stack and 1 for the focus).

Due to the strong horizontal lines in the roof and tree line, I decided to cut the strips on the diagonal - after starching it 3 times to tame those bias edges. Since the panel is not very large, I cut the strips 2 3/4 inches so I can get the maximum number of hexies from the panel. Now comes the fun, but mindless part - sewing half hexies together and arranging them on the design wall.

Then comes some decision-making. To frame the panel or not? If I frame it, what color for the frame? To set the hexies in straight-edged or allow them to flow into the panel? This is where art and design meet craft and technique.

After trying several layouts, I settled on a small yellow border (to lighten up the dark sections of the panel) and then centered it within the hexies. I arranged the hexies so that they somewhat mimicked the color placement within the panel. A simple batik border finished it off. 

I have to admit, even though I starched the heck out of the strips, it was still somewhat wavy due to the bias edges. I forewarned Lori Kukuk, one of the fantastic long arm quilters with whom I love to work, that it might take some special TLC to help it lay flat. Poor or inaccurate piecing won't always quilt out, but Lori is pretty talented and if anyone can tame those wavy edges, she can. She did not disappoint. I especially love the simple waves in the sky and the continuous curves in the hexies.

Iowa Bridges is the third quilt in my 50/50 series. I've already started on Oklahoma and have plans for about 25 more. Stay tuned!

The pattern is available to order as a hard copy, or as a download from my Etsy Site. So check it out!

I'm Curious about your visit to Iowa. Leave a comment and let me know.

Friday, June 28, 2019

Gotta Get Up and Move - Keeping the Hurt out of Quilting

They say that Love should not hurt. I agree. But I gotta admit, my love, quilting, sometimes hurts me. Sometimes my back, but mostly my right shoulder. My hand, wrist, and thumb hurt when I hand stitch for too long. We just had Brian from Martelli Enterprises speak at our guild and show how ergonomic their table and cutters are. This got me thinking about various things I can do to keep my favorite activity - quilting - from hurting my aging (lets get real) body.

So first I thought I would explore exercises and movements. Later maybe I'll look more into my physical surroundings - tables, chairs, cutting tools - that might help protect aging body parts. 

Its all about movement - moving parts that tend not to get moved, and not over moving parts that get moved too much.  That being said I am not a doctor, physical therapist or personal trainer, I just find that moving helps me not hurt quite so much. If it really hurts, see a doctor (boring, legal, disclaimer here).

Moving and Stretching
I have my machine, pressing station and cutting station situated at different locations in my sewing studio. I force myself to get up to press and cut. Here are some other things I have found helpful:

  • Admire my twirly skirt (arms out straight to the side and turn to the right and left to loosen the lower back)
  • Pick up scraps (stand and gently touch toes)
  • Bend to re-read directions (side bends)
  • Mimic the dog being oh so cute (tilt and stretch my neck side to side)
  • Think about the chicken I should be cooking for dinner (do wing flaps and circles to loosen my shoulders)
  • Practice petting fabric (wriggle and stretch my fingers)
  • Draw Curved seams in the air (make circles with my hands to loose my wrists)
  • Square up my hands like I do my quilts (stretch hands and forearms by gently pulling back on fingers)
  •  Reach over my body to pick up my iced tea (stretch arms across body to loosen shoulder blade area)
  •  Practice inspecting a quilt at a quilt show (clasp hands together behind back and bend over)
  • Pick up the seam ripper dropped at one foot and scissors dropped at the other foot (windmill toe touches)
Preventing Over Movement

Since I do a lot of Quiltworx quilts, I often cut most of the quilt out at one time, sometimes cutting 8 or more layers of fabric. This puts a strain on my hand, wrist, elbow and shoulder. I think some call it repetitive movement injury. I've tried using my left hand, but that didn't work at all. Here are some strategies that have worked for me:
  • Take a break, don't cut all at once - cut, then sew, the cut some more
  • Use different rotary cutters that require a different grip
  • Put a fresh blade in so I don't have to apply too much pressure
If all else fails a good massage - like the one I had today, will always do some good. If my Lawrence peeps want a referral to a great massage therapist, let me know.

Keeping it Curious!

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

A New Quilt From Start to Finish - Chapter 8 Assembly

It's done! SQUEEEEEEE. Well, the top is done. So I'll call it done for now.
I started this baby at Quiltworx University in Bakersfield in 2018. Now as I'm packing for Quiltworx 2019 at Tanque Verde Ranch in Tuscon Arizona, I am so pleased that I can take this top with me and show it off.  
If you look at previous posts, you can see my progress from the planning stages, to the first cut, to the paper piecing sections, and the borders, and now to the last stitch (well not the very last stitch - it still has to be quilted and bound of course).
Assembly was not a quick, easy thing. There were LOTS of points to match to get this thing together. Also - it seems flat, but only my long arm quilter will know for sure. 
The beauty of Judy's patterns (one of the beauties that is) is that once its done, you look at it and wonder "How did that go together?" She is a genius that way - Sections, Baby, Sections!
So, here are some tips for putting together large, complex sections into one larger, complex quilt:
1. Don't wait til the whole quilt is together to pull papers, trim threads and press. Give your self a break and do it by sections. Ask me how I learned that one (grin)! 

2. Use glue, pins, and sew basting to get those important points to match.  I finally used sew basting to match it up - I increased my stitch length and just sewed just the areas that really needed to match. Even then, I needed to do some unsewing and re-basting. But once they did match, I sewed the whole seam again with a regular stitch length.

3. Be careful of bias edges. Judy does a lot in the design and fabric layout and cutting instructions to help you tame those bias edges. But there are still some stretch that you need to be careful of. I used a lot (a whole 16oz bottle!) of Best Press to keep my edges from stretching. I think it really helped me match my seams.

4.  This is a big (queen size) quilt, so when I was sewing the last few seams, it began to get a bit unwieldy. So I added a small portable table behind my machine to hold some of the weight so it didn't pull as I was going for that accurate quarter inch seam.

I am so happy with California Cat Tails. I am bringing it to Quiltworx University, and hopefully there I can send it home with a longarm quilter who can really make it shine. 

The next post will be the finale for this series - California Cat Tails quilted and hanging - maybe in a show. 

P.S. I did take this to Tanque Verde. It did not go home with a quilter, but I came home with a contact to send it to.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

A New Quilt From Start to Finish - Chapter 7 Curved Seams

I am getting close to being done with California Cat Tails. Check out previous posts in this series - A New Quilt From Start to Finish. In this post, I'll show you how Judy has us sew sections together - especially sections with curved seams.

After doing the paper piecing, you have to trim the pieces on the final cutting line. Sometimes they have a curved edge - a straight ruler really doesn't work too well on a curved edge! So I turn the ruler over so the sticky bits are up (not against the fabric) and I turn the ruler as I cut. It takes a bit of practice but really works great, Judy does it freehand, but I find the pressure of the ruler on the paper and fabric gives me a more accurate cut.

There are a couple of tips that lead to successful curved piecing:

1. Transition Reference Points (TRPs). These are points used to match the sections - much like those notches we cut in our middle school sewing class. On some of the pieces, you sew through the paper and fabric using a basting stitch - when you have one template for each fabric. For the pieces for which you have only one template for a stack of fabrics, you have to mark them first and then sew. I have found the best marking tool is the Sewline Trio. It has a fine erasable chalk lead in 3 colors - grey, pink and white. 

2. Smile over Frown - when you put the pieces right sides together flip them so that you are looking at the"smile". It is much more likely to sew without puckers if the smile covers the frown. 

3. Match and Glue - match the ends (which have been trimmed with "smart corners") and the TRPs. Use a dab of fabric glue pen on these points and then ease the in betweens glueing as you go but making sure not to stretch the fabric, which is usually on the bias.

4.  Double S Curves - sometimes, you have to sew the curves in 2 parts so that in each part the smile is on top. Usually there is a TRP where the curve changes. So you sew from the end to the TRP, then flip the pieces over and sew from the TRP to the other end. Magic, Presto, its done! 

So now I have the 4 quarters put together. I think they are pretty good looking if I do say so myself. Thanks to Quiltster I could audition the fabric before I even started cutting!

Curious about how it will look all assembled and quilted? Stay tuned.

Friday, January 11, 2019

50 Quilts From 50 States - Missouri

My Journey To Missouri

I'm continuing my journey to and through all 50 States - but I'm not going that far - just a bit more than 30 miles to Missouri.
There is quite a rivalry between Kansas and Missouri. Some believe it goes back to pre Civil War time (1850s) of open violence between pro-slavery Missouri and free state Kansas. Now its known as the Border Wars and is all about sports and Universities. KU - Mizzou. I have to admit - I pay ZERO attention to sports. Sorry loyal KU Basketball friends.

My travels usually include an East-West road trip along I-70. My In-Laws used to live in Kentucky and I've driven east many times for a holiday visit. A quick detour off I-70 leads you to Hermann - and the wine producing area. Missouri also has the beautiful Ozark area, with Springfield and Branson. Its a wonderful vacation spot.

I'm not as in to quilting history of Missouri as I am in to the history of Kansas.  My guess is that it as a neighbor state, it is quite similar. But what Missouri has that Kansas doesn't is Quilt Town USA - Hamilton Missouri, home of the Missouri Star Quilting Company.

Guilds and Shops in Missouri
The Generations Quilt Patterns website says there are 55 Guilds and 126 shops in Missouri. Good thing my goal isn't to visit every shop - I've only been to about 5 or 6. One of my favorites is Jackman's in St Louis. Every time I drive across Missouri to the East, I try to stop at Jackman's. They have a really nice selection and super helpful staff.

I've also been to shops in Hannibal, Springfield, Cameron, Liberty, Columbia, and I'm sure I'm forgetting some.

Missouri is also home to some big names in the quilting biz - Angela Walters, Tula Pink, Carl Hentsch, Jacquie Gering, and of course Jenny Doan - again, I'm sure I'm forgetting someone.

However, the biggest draw for quilters in Missouri is Missouri Star Quilting Company in Hamilton. Its probably the most famous quilt shop in the country. It's also known as Quilt Town USA.

Jenny Doan and her family have invested in the small town of Hamilton, the birthplace of JC Penny, and have revitalized the small town by renovating old commercial space and installing quilt shops in them. Currently there are 12 shops - the main shop, forals, 30s, batiks, kids, reproductions, holiday, modern, solids, themed fabrics, machine shop, as well as meeting and retreat areas, and a "men's" waiting area. It's a great story and you can read more about MSQC and the Doan family here.

The Inspiration
Missouri Star is by far the best known quilt shop in Missouri, maybe in the entire country, and is therefore my inspiration for this project. MSQC's logo is the Missouri Star block.
So what better block to use in my Missouri Quilt?

The Missouri Star Block can be found in several quilt pattern books including Barbara Brackman's Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns. Nancy Cabot of the Chicago Tribune named this block in 1933.

The Quilt
OK, so a Missouri Star block - but 1 big one? Three in a table runner? A bunch in a full size quilt? I want to do something different than just a block  - so in comes a cool technique. Selvages. I've been collecting Pins on Pinterest of all kinds of quilts made with selvages. They are so interesting looking. 

I've been collecting selvages for a couple of years now, so I have quite a collection - good thing because I'm using 3 colors - orange, teal, and purple. 

When I cut the selvages off fabric, I try to cut about an inch of fabric with the selvage, this gives me the interesting selvage and a snippet of the fabric for color.  I found it best to sew the selvages down onto a foundation - a muslin or paper, or for this project I used Ricky Tims' Stable Stuff

The pattern is available to order as a hard copy, or as a download from my Etsy Site. So check it out!


Tuesday, January 1, 2019

2019 Quilting Goals

Gosh, can a whole year have passed by so quickly? Zoom, Zoom!

Any new goals obviously (for me) require a revisiting of last years goals to see how I did. I wouldn't want to have to put the same goals on my list because I made no progress!

I had 5 goals and I am pleased that I made pretty good progress on all of them.
1. Use my rotation system - check!
2. Blog every other week - check! Sometimes every week, sometimes once a month. But I'm OK with that.
3. Prepare a trunk show - check! In fact, I've presented it at one guild and have 2 more scheduled.
4. Publish Kansas Goes Modern - Check! It's available on my Etsy Shop.
5. Design and make 2 quilts for my 50 Quilts from 50 States Project - Check! Kansas done and Missouri almost done.

OK not too bad - I wish I had done this well on my other resolutions and goals.

Ok, now for 2019 goals. Some of my previous goals I am dropping because they are habits by now and don't need to be on a goal list. Others are repeating because they really work for me. A few are minor things that may pay off big in term of reducing my quilting frustration level. A few are longer term goals that I want to start on now. So here goes . . .

1.  Prepare 2 more trunk shows.
2.  Prepare 3 workshops.
3.  Get 5 more gigs lined up for 2019.
4.  Trim my threads immediately after sewing. (I really shouldn't need this as a goal, but what can I say, I've gotten lazy about trimming threads).
5.  Design the BOM for KVQG 2019-2020.
6. Explore Artist In Residence programs.
7.  Design and publish 3 more 50/50 quilts.
8.  Get 3 old UFOs done.
9.  Start ball rolling and make contacts to be a teacher at the 2021 Kansas City Regional Quilt Festival.
10.  Start ball rolling and make contacts to be a teacher on a quilt cruise by 2022.

I'm curious about your quilting goals. Share in the comments. I'd love to know what you are doing this year.