Friday, November 17, 2017

Flux

Well ... I'm a happy quilter. I got to play with Katarina Roccella's Avant Garde collection again recently when I picked up a kit to make the fabulous Flux quilt! (It also means that my precious fat quarter bundle of Avant Garde can remain uncut. I hope it stays that way.)

Flux is a very simple quilt, with a single frame surrounding a center square. The graphic effect comes from the arrangement of the blocks and the way the frames thicken toward the center of the quilt.

I treated the quilting of this quilt much like Phases of the Moon, where the frames and sashings are all treated as background space, and the squares are highlighted individually. I really love the way it makes the black sashing strips look like they're made of a patterned fabric, and this way I don't have to change threads.

I treated the quilting of the squares as a medallion, with the center being a special design, and each ring around it having a different geometric design. They contrast nicely with all the curvy, swirly background, and really pop.

It's hard to pick a favorite, but I think I like the outer ring the best! It's a square spiral that is super easy to quilt and draws the eye in, every time.

I used a solid blue fabric for the back, which really shows off the quilting!

I'm very happy with it! Avant Garde is such a beautiful collection, that it's pretty much guaranteed I would love this quilt!

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Link parties joined: Busy Hands Quilts, Powered By Quilting, My Quilt Infatuation, Confessions of a Fabric Addict, Crazy Mom Quilts, Sew Can She, and Cooking Up Quilts.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Controlled Chaos

Originally, I planned to work on a scrappy single Irish Chain after hearing Melissa Corry speak at a quilt guild meeting. But as I was pulling out fabric, an even stronger urge seized me ... what I really wanted was to make the End of the Rainbow quilt on the cover of Melissa's book!

The cover quilt is easily my favorite quilt in the entire book. It is beautiful, interesting, and distinctively modern. I had the vague idea it must be improv somehow, but I didn't quite know what was involved. That is, until I read the instructions and realized that it's crazy piecing!

I've never done crazy piecing before, but I've watched a few videos. Since it's crazy piecing, there's really no wrong way to do it, but I knew that some ways will yield results that make me happier than others. I decided to go with a method that I call controlled chaos crazy piecing, taught by Elizabeth Hartman in Inspired Modern Quilts. (She didn't call it that, but it's my term for it.) Crazy piecing is a lot of work, and at the end of the day, I'm essentially creating my own unique fabric. But it is beyond beautiful! I can hardly believe I made these.

I'm so in love with these blocks that I don't want to cut them up! I have half a mind to frame them instead. But now that I know the technique, and how easy it is, it's no problem for me to make more, later! So I will cut these up and make End of the Rainbow, after all.

But I just got an idea. How good would crazy blocks look in a Mondrian style quilt? Now I must add that to my queue! If only there were more hours in the day ...

Friday, November 10, 2017

Lagom

I've been quilting for about a year and 9 months, and in that time I made a ton of lap quilts, and one queen-sized bed quilt for my guest bed. However, my own bed still doesn't have a quilt ... that is, until now!

The reason I waited so long is because it took me 6 months to find the perfect fabric for it, 6 months to find the perfect pattern, and 6 more months of procrastination because I loved the fabric so much I didn't want to cut into it. (And of course, actually making and quilting this took several more months.) The fabric used here is one of my favorite fabric lines ever. It's Lagom by Art Gallery Studio! The pattern I finally decided on is New Waves by Natalia Bonner.

New Waves is a simple log cabin quilt, but I love the color placement that makes the gray travel in bands across the quilt. I absolutely love piecing log cabins! I used to have trouble making the block come out a square (it looked slightly rounded) but then I realized the reason was because I used to cut a long strip, line it up with the cabin, and sew it and then trim the excess. Nowadays, I cut the strips to the right size and then sew it on, and it has made such a difference. (I have no idea why, though!)

For the quilting, I did a variety of linear designs, like ribbon candies, wishbones, feathers, ferns, and square chains. I'm never bored because there's always something different to work on! My favorite design, however, is the dot-to-dot design I did in the outer most band of each block. The way the block is laid out, it creates a fun secondary diamond design! I didn't intend for that when I planned the quilting, so it was a nice surprise.

And if I ever get tired of the front of the quilt, the back seems perfectly functional as a "wholecloth" quilt!

I finally have a quilt for my bed! I love it so much, and Lagom was really the perfect fabric for this project. This is the biggest quilt I've ever completed, at 96" x 96", and I'm really happy with it!

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Linking up with: Crazy Mom Quilts, My Quilt Infatuation, Powered by Quilting, Sew Can She, and Cooking Up Quilts.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Solo Quilter Seeking Guild

Although I've never been big on groups, I really wanted to join a local quilt guild. It is awesome blogging on the internet, but there's nothing like seeing quilts (and merchandise) and feeling the enthusiasm of quilters in person.

In my New Year's Resolutions, one of my goals was to attend a quilt guild meeting. I have a few local guilds, but none of them worked for me. One of them always met on Sunday mornings, so that interferes with church. Two of them met on Thursdays, which interferes with family commitments. One of them required driving to Chicago, and I have a phobia about that. All in all, things seemed bleak.

Then one of my local quilting friends mentioned her guild to me. I was hesitant because it was still a bit of a drive (albeit a super easy one) and it was very large. But then one day something happened that propelled me out of inertia. The guild had scheduled Karen McTavish as a teacher next year ... and I needed to be at a meeting to sign up!

I have admired Karen McTavish's work since I first saw her McTavishing technique. Seriously, how many people have their name attached to a quilting technique like that? The chance to take a few classes with her in person was not to be missed, so I apologized to my husband, left my 2-year-old son with him to look after, and took off on a dreary, rainy Chicagoland Tuesday morning to attend the guild meeting. (Was that dramatic enough?)

I did get into 2 classes with Karen next May, and I'm super excited about that. Furthermore, the guild had a guest speaker that day ... Melissa Corry! I didn't know her by name, but I definitely recognized the book she had there: Irish Chain Quilts: Contemporary Twists on a Classic Design. I made a Irish chain inspired quilt last year, and to this day it remains one of my favorite quilts, and I've wanted to make another one.

Melissa talked at a mile a minute, and I loved that. She was funny, charming, and I could feel the passion and enthusiasm vibing off her. Her Irish Chain quilts were so beautiful and lively, and I knew I was ready for my next scrappy Irish Chain. So afterwards, I went to my scrap bins (which are hid in opaque bins ... purposefully) and discovered:

Yowza! I have a lot of scraps! (What you're seeing is just a part of it. I couldn't capture the whole pile on camera in one shot.) I'll have enough to make several of those Irish Chain quilts and then outfit my children in patchwork. But ... I'm just going to make one. Time to start cutting! This will be so much fun.

Oh, and I bought the Irish Chain book from Melissa and she signed it. I love autographed copies!

It's going to take some courage to participate in the Show 'n Tell, that's for sure, because I'm not sure how the guild will respond to my more modern aesthetic. But for now, I've found my guild!

Friday, November 3, 2017

Take Shape

Well, I really hated this quilt when I first finished the quilt top. It was a beautiful fabric line (Take Shape by Art Gallery Studio) and a beautiful pattern (Jagged Edges from Rock Solid), but somehow, they don't work together!

I had my qualms while I was cutting and piecing it, but I ignored them. When I finished the quilt top, I realized something ... it was just not working! Unlike the last quilt top that I hated, I really do love the fabric this time. But with this pattern, it's just not a good marriage, and I realized that too late.

I was so unhappy with it that I almost put it in my quilting graveyard. But as I was getting ready to do that, I realized that I need to finish this quilt, because I had in my hand a great piece to practice on. After all, I get quilter's paralysis sometimes because I'm afraid of choosing the wrong design and messing up a beautiful top ... but I cannot possibly mess this top up any further!

And quilting did improve it. I knew I had to introduce as much contrast as possible to save this quilt, so I used a lot of dot-to-dot designs with feathers.

In the negative space, I quilted big, showy feathers, and surrounded it with my favorite fillers. At that point, I no longer cared what was appropriate for this quilt, I just wanted to have fun ... and I did!

Well, after quilting it, not only do I feel so much better, but I actually find that I rather like this quilt. The fabric is gorgeous, and though this really isn't the best pattern for it, it's a hard lesson learned. Contrasting quilting motifs I used help to pull them apart a bit, at least, and I just love touching all those feathers!

So ... it's not such a bad quilt, really. Maybe it just needs a little love.

***

Linking up with: Crazy Mom Quilts, My Quilt Infatuation, and Powered by Quilting.

Monday, October 30, 2017

A Hearty Recommendation

I was watching the QuiltCon 2013 (first QuiltCon?) lectures on Craftsy again, and I was suddenly reminded of what a breakthrough this lecture series was for me. I had to share it here, because if you haven't seen it yet ... it's totally worth the time! And it's free. I'm not affiliated with Craftsy at all, so this is just my personal, honest opinion. It's one of my favorite "classes" on Craftsy.

All of the lectures are great, but here are the ones I watch over and over again:

David Butler on Homemade Lifestyle Photography

This lecture led to better quilt photos for me. Period. I honestly had no idea about light, shadows, temperature, composition, and staging before that. I used to take photos of my quilts at night (because that's when I usually finish them), with some yellow lightbulb light. No joke. They turned out awful, and I never knew why! After watching this lecture, I noticed an immediate improvement in my quilt photos.

Angela Walters on Modern Machine Quilting

Before this lecture ... I had actually never heard of Angela Walters. I was still fairly new to quilting when I first watched this, and Angela's lecture was my first real introduction to modern machine quilting, and I fell head over heels in love with machine quilting ... and of course, Angela herself! She gives really great tips about how to pick designs, how to highlight, how to combine, and I found myself laughing a lot because, of course, she's also hilarious! This is one of my favorite lectures, and the Q & A that followed is gold.

Mary Fons on Notes From a Quilt Mafia Daughter

Mary Fons is the daughter of Marianne Fons, of Fons & Porter, one of the biggest names in quilting. In this engaging, funny, and touching lecture, Mary explores her past and along the way, quilting history in America in general. I'm really not much of a history person, but Mary made it fun and interesting! One of my favorite things about Mary is that she's so genuine. I've since met her in person and she's just as nice and energetic as she seems on TV and in this lecture.

Jacquie Gering on Quilting Modern, Honoring Tradition

If Mary's lecture is on quilting history in America, then Jacquie's lecture feels like history of modern quilting. While that's not what it's actually about, you get a heavy dosage of that, and it's so interesting! Along the way, I was genuinely moved by Jacquie's amazing style, her genuineness, and her desire to make quilts do more than just cover the bed. Her quilts are beautiful and so creative, and she's really funny!

***

And that's not all! There's also Amy Butler on color story, Heather Jones on the process of turning inspiration into quilts, and even a panel that talks about fabric design.

I admit when I first saw this class on Craftsy, I thought to myself, They have lectures for quilts?? But yes, they do, and the lectures are excellent. I wish Craftsy could have taped more from the following years. I would have paid for it!

Friday, October 27, 2017

Starlight Symphony

Awhile ago I finished piecing Starlight Symphony, a beautiful batik paper pieced quilt from season 2 of Angela Walters's wonderful Midnight Quilt Show. And finally, I'm quilting it!

Since I've already seen how Angela quilted hers, and since I love her quilting choices, of course I borrowed heavily from her designs. There's no shame in copying a master!

I love the secondary design that happens between stars! Straight lines combined with free-motion are one of my favorites ways to add contrast.

In the negative space in the center, I had a few ideas in mind. I wanted the middle stars to look like they're sitting atop a bed of ... space bubbles or something. So I quilted a band of pebbles in the center, and gradually changed it into swirls as they reached the outer stars. I also echoed some of the star shapes in that space to add some extra interest.

Taking the quilt off the rollers is one of the most exciting parts of quilting. Since I can't see it all at once when I'm quilting it, the first moment I get the full "reveal", it's quite a feeling! I really love this quilt, as the batiks are gorgeous and the texture is lovely!

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Linking up with: Busy Hands Quilts, My Quilt Infatuation, Confessions of a Fabric Addict, Crazy Mom Quilts, and Cooking Up Quilts.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Just the Essentials Bag

After making Print Shop Tote II, I was emboldened by my success and I wanted to make more bags. That's when I saw Craftsy's Waxed Canvas Crossbody Bag class by Mariah McPherson, so I signed up for it.

Although the instructor teaches using waxed canvas, I had a lot of trouble finding the colors I want in waxed canvas. Instead, I used regular old duck canvas, and I went with a purple. This is my first time using canvas, webbing, and my first time using bag hardware, and I really like the aesthetic!

I'm so glad I already have done a few bags, and worked my way up to this point, because this bag would otherwise have been quite challenging. An indispensable tool for making this bag was a seam jumper. It's not something I ever have to use when I'm quilting, but in making bags, when I encounter a particularly thick seam, my feed dogs just stop working and a seam jumper is the only way to get it through. In all the bag-making classes I've taken so far ... I've rarely seen an instructor mention this.

And it's finished! I really like this little bag, it's just so cute. The duck canvas gave the bag a very rugged, outdoorsy look, which is very different from how it would have looked had I used quilting cotton. I absolutely love the metal zipper detail, even if sewing it made me break out in a cold sweat. The inside lining and the pocket lining is where I put some pretty quilting cottons for a splash of color. I'm so glad there was a video tutorial to follow, because my eyes just glaze over when I try to follow paper patterns on bag-making.

This bag is perfect for carrying the essentials, and the color is beautiful. I hope as I make more bags I'd feel more confident, and eventually be able to tackle the Range Backpack by Anna Graham, which is my current pie-in-the-sky bag. Maybe someday! (And I better get over my fear of written patterns in the mean time.)

Friday, October 13, 2017

Introducing Dynamic Patterns!

I just added a Patterns page to my blog, because I finally wrote some patterns! But instead of the normal patterns, I decided to do something fun called dynamic patterns.

What are dynamic patterns? They are patterns generated on the fly based on a few preferences, just for you. That means you can customize the size, colors, and complexity (usually) and get something wholly unique! The idea came about a few months ago when I wrote a half-square triangle generator and I was having so much fun just trying different color combinations and generating patterns. I then decided to actually make a quilt, Haphazard, using that generator. But I thought, there should be a way for me to put this generator on my blog so other people can play with it too.

So here it is ... bright and shiny on the Patterns page, my collection of dynamic patterns. (Alright, I only have 2 at the moment, but I've already got some ideas for new ones to add in the future!)

Each pattern comes with some options, such as picking your colors and the size of your blocks. Then, a pattern will be generated for you, and you can keep generating until you find one you like, and then you can save it.

So, I hope you will go play with it! If you make something using them, I'd love to see it!

Friday, October 6, 2017

Haphazard

Haphazard is a quilt made of half-square triangles laid out randomly, and the fun part of this quilt is that the layout was completely computer generated! I wrote about this process here. After trying tons of parameters and cycling through many variations, I finally just picked one.

The fabric bundle I used is Creative Rockstar by Rad and Happy for Riley Blake Designs. (It was just begging to be made into a quilt with lots of half-square triangles!) I generated the cutting list with the program, so it was easy to just start cutting and piecing. I didn't end up following the pattern to the T, because that would be too much work, and the idea was that it was random. I followed it pretty closely, though, to achieve a similar effect.

I quilted some dot-to-dot designs in the printed fabrics, like starbursts and flowers and such. I love those! They're so fun, and require no marking. (I'm an anti-marker.) But then I thought ... I really needed a feather! So I started throwing in feathers occasionally ... and they are some of my favorite foreground blocks. What can I say ... feathers are always a blast to quilt. In the background space, since it's all white, it's definitely asking for echoes and some really dense fillers.

But a few blocks in, I realized the background was kind of boring. I wasn't particularly happy with it. All the designs look nicely executed, but the overall composition was lacking. So ... I added some straight lines to some of the background sections, and then I was really happy with it!

I used a solid for the back again, and in a quilt like this, the back actually shows quilting even better than the front! I also love the black/white striped binding.

Making this quilt was mostly about the concept (randomly generated) and letting go of control (a little), and to that end, it turned out well!

But wait ... there's more! I had so much fun generating patterns that I had to write a pattern generator for this quilt. you'll find it here. Pick your own colors and generate a random half-square triangle quilt pattern just for you!

***

Link parties joined: Crazy Mom Quilts, My Quilt Infatuation, Busy Hands Quilts, Confessions of a Fabric Addict, and Cooking Up Quilts.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Original Sewing & Quilting Expo 2017

The Original Sewing & Quilting Expo is happening in Schaumburg this weekend, and of course, I went! Schaumburg Convention Center is literally 15 minutes from my house, and though it's not a big show, it's still got plenty of vendors and lots of eye candy. Although I really think of this as more a sewing show and less a quilting show.

I took just a few photos of my favorite quilts on display today. Disclaimer: These photos are for personal enjoyment, not for reproduction.

Left: Essence by Susan Mann
Right: Sailing the Ocean Blue by Diana Minor

Left: Primordials #5 by Rahel Elran
Right: Tactile Architecture by Simona Peled

One fun feature of Sewing Expo is their Make-It Take-It projects, where for a small fee, I get to make something and take it home. I stopped at the Babylock station and made this bag with a serger. This is my first time ever using a serger. How cute is this bag!

I'm primarily a quilter so I really don't need a serger, but it was fun to use. And who knows, maybe one day I'd wake up with an insatiable urge for a serger. (That happened with my longarm.)

I was in the area when the BurdaStyle fashion show was starting, so I thought I'd sit and watch. What a treat! The models were beautiful, and the clothing was very cute and on trend. I'm pretty sure all of these are way, way out of my skill range, but it was a fun experience anyway. Here are some of my favorite pieces:

And then ... at the very end, BurdaStyle announced a collaboration with Spoonflower / Sprout coming up. I didn't get too many details but it sounded fabulous. I adore Spoonflower, and it sounds like we get to pick a fabric, pick a size, and it'd come shipped to us with the cutting lines printed on it. The worst part of garment sewing, to me, is dealing with the paper pattern. And that's not an issue! I saw this adorable top that had my name written all over it, and maybe I'd try it come November!

I stopped at both Babylock and Janome to look at their sewing machines. I really, really want a new sewing machine. I admit I'm very much fed up with my Pfaff, but shopping for a sewing machine is really scary. Not only is it a big hunk of change, but I don't know for sure that it'd solve my problems with my Pfaff, and I will have to learn the ins and outs of the new machine. Besides, my Pfaff still works, so I can't justify getting a new machine, either.

But what's a quilt show without some shopping? I found this gorgeous yellow / blue quilt kit, and I picked up a few more Akonye Kena bowls. I'm obsessed with them! Not only are they absolutely gorgeous, but they're fair-trade and made in South Africa. And they're amazing thread catchers because the thread never sticks to the bowl. I've got enough thread catchers now, but I'm sure I'll find some uses for them!

You know you visit too many quilt shows when the cashier of Missouri Star Quilt Company recognizes you. However, I think I'm done with quilt shows for the year. My next show will probably be ... QuiltCon!

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Poppy Infinity Scarf

I was on quite a long knitting hiatus. I blame it on the weather, though. Who can think of wool and cashmere when it's 85 degrees outside? (I'm sure my lack of knitting has nothing, absolutely nothing to do with the fact that my new longarm is taking up a lot of my attention.)

But something magical happens when fall starts to think about kicking in. Suddenly, my box(es) of yarn starts to look much more appealing, and then, I wanted to knit again! It helps that I fell in love with a gorgeous pattern called the McCallum Cowl. And so, my Poppy Infinity Scarf has become my first finished knit project of the year.

The yarn I used is Dream in Color Jilly, and it is a truly beautiful, luscious yarn. Jilly is a single-ply 100% merino yarn that is super soft and completely luxurious feeling. It is actually superwash ... but I wouldn't have known without reading the label! A lot of superwash yarn feels so dead, but Jilly is vibrant and amazing.

The pattern is easy enough to be relaxing, but interesting enough to be fun. When I first read it, I was very unsure about it because it seemed really complicated for a simple looking project. But once I started working it, it was quite easy to follow. I love that this cowl is bias knit, making it more interesting looking, and the best part about bias knit stockinette is that the edges just don't curl as much.

I'm primarily a quilter and will remain so for the foreseeable future, but I'm happy to bring back knitting into my life. After all, when I'm watching the kids, or on a 6-hour car trip to visit the in-laws, I can't quilt ... but I can knit! Knitting is a different experience as it's so much slower, and as much about the process as the results.

Friday, September 22, 2017

A Trio of Heart Builder Quilts

This week I have not one, not two, but ... three finished quilts to show! I was sent 3 quilt tops from Stash Builder Box's Heart Builders and I got to finish them. (I didn't have to piece these. Whew!)

The first quilt made me smile as soon as I opened it up. Monkeys! It was all fussy-cut, and just far too cute. I did an allover swirl hook design but quilted all the monkey blocks differently to make them stand out.

The second quilt was a red/white/blue quilt, so I did an allover swirl / paisley design.

And last but not least, the final quilt was made of chevrons, sashings, and cornerstones. I did some custom quilting for this, putting different fillers in each chevron and tying all the sashings together with a square chain.

My oldest child retired her crib a few months ago, and I knew just what to do with one of the railings ... doesn't it make a nice quilt rack? So officially ... here's the rack of quilts! (Included is Pixel Maze which I posted about last week.)

And now for the toughest part of charity quilting ... finding shipping boxes to fit them in!

***

Link parties joined: Crazy Mom Quilts, Busy Hands Quilts, Confessions of a Fabric Addict, and My Quilt Infatuation.

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