Monday, February 26, 2018

QuiltCon 2018

I got back from QuiltCon last night, and I was greeted by 2 sick kids and a husband who is exhausted taking care of them. I wasn't feeling too hot myself so all I wanted to do was to lie down and go to sleep. I used to love flying when I was younger, but then I grew up. How I wish teleportation was available!

QuiltCon was as wonderful as I imagined, but it was much more exhausting than I was expecting. I was warned against scheduling too heavily, but I didn't listen. When registration day opened, I saw that everything I wanted was open so I went wild. I ended up doing 7 classes in 3 days, and it was ... well, let's just say I've learned my lesson!

Normally when I go to a show, I take pictures of my favorite quilts and post them. But for QuiltCon, it's hard to choose because there are so many favorite quilts! In fact, I daresay I love about 95% of the quilts in the show. Instead, I'll talk about my classes and show off all the goodies I got!

Quilt Photography Basics with Kitty Wilkin & Michelle Bartholomew

I think my photos have improved a lot since the day I started blogging. That being said, I still struggle with them. I learned a lot in this class. The class had a practical session where we actually took photographs, and I think I took some of the best product photos I've ever shot in my life here:

I learned some low-cost tricks for high impact photography, and while they're not all applicable to me, I do hope that my photos will continue to improve.

Radiating Designs Skill Builder with Pamela Wiley

This class was a longarm class, so it consisted of some lecture time and lots of practice time. I learned some interesting ways to look at shaping and perspective, and developed a new appreciation for straight line designs on quilts. While I don't think quilting at the density of Pamela is my style (plus I don't have a computerized machine) I can definitely take some inspiration from this class for my own quilting. Here is my quilting sample:

Shape by Shape 2 with Angela Walters

This is the first of my three classes with Angela. As soon as I walked in the room I gushed to Angela how much I adore her. She was very sweet, and this class was every bit as entertaining as I expected. This was a drawing class so we doodled a lot of designs on paper. Most of the designs that she taught is in her book and I've already read the book, but there's nothing like being in the room with her, enjoying her humor, her energy, and actually seeing the quilted samples live. Talk about wow factors! It's easy to see why she's a superstar. Plus, being able to ask her questions is invaluable.

Your Own Two Feet: FMQ + Straight Lines with Christina Cameli

I signed up for this class before Christina's Craftsy class on the same subject came out. It covered a lot of the same materials, but I was still happy to learn from Christina. Although it was a sit-down machine class, a lot of the designs I can see being quilted on a longarm as well. One in particular I'm already planning to use on a future quilt, and I think it's brilliant.

To be honest, I haven't quilted on a domestic machine for a long, long time. But I thought it'd be okay. It's like riding a bike, right? Well, it wasn't! I had forgotten just how challenging it was to manage even a little bit of bulk and drag, and how challenging it is to get consistent stitch length and achieve good tension on a sit-down. But even though my quilting is ugly (and I won't be showing it here) it was still a great class!

Small Changes, Big Variety with Angela Walters

The second of my classes with Angela is another drawing class, and this time we went over the designs she had in her Craftsy class of the same name. However, I have no regrets about purchasing this class. There's something about seeing it live that makes it click in new ways, and I for one finally figured out one of her fancier ribbon candy designs after seeing her draw it live. Plus ... I seriously get inspiration just being in the same room as her!

Tackling Curves With the Happy As A Clam Project with Latifah Saafir

If I felt pretty good about myself after a quilting class, I just needed to try to sew a curve to feel completely humbled again. Not long ago I sort of figured out the Drunkard's Path (and I needed to do a lot of trimming down!) but clamshells are a different thing altogether. At least I brought fabric I didn't much like, because my curves were terrible. When I was at the trimming station, I looked to my left ... and to my right ... and my neighbors' curves were fine. Things lined up at the right spot. Mine was very, very off and as it turns out, I didn't need to learn how to piece a curve ... I needed to learn how to press them!

I will say this though, that this was way too short of a class to cover all the materials. I think it needed to be at least twice as long! I did leave the class intrigued about clamshells and admiring the beautiful patterns Latifah designed, but I still don't feel very confident about curves.

Swirling Beyond Feathers with Angela Walters

At last, we've come to the class I've looked forward to the most at QuiltCon. How fitting that it is the last class to close the show for me! This was an actual stand-up longarm class where we watch Angela draw, and then try to quilt it on the machine. I got used to the HQ Amara after awhile, but I still think that my APQS Lenni is a fabulously smooth machine. I was actually decently happy with my class sample, so here it is:

I learned a lot in this class, including how to do scrolls, do proper swirl chains, and of course, paisley feathers. I think I can manage them now, maybe!


There's no question that one of the major attractions of a show like QuiltCon for me is the vendor hall. Sure, QuiltCon isn't a huge show and it was fairly fast to walk the vendor booths, but this is an instance where almost all of the booths appeal to me. There are a lot of vendors here that don't go to any of the more traditional shows I normally go to, so meeting them and seeing their products in person is a great attraction. My favorite booths were probably ME + YOU for Indah Batik and beyond the reef.

And of course, I shopped. A lot. I actually considered buying more, but I'm glad I didn't, because when I packed up my suitcase on Saturday night, I found that I had to do some creative maneuvering just to be able to fit the stuff I did buy. It was really, really full!

I know that I could have bought a lot of this stuff online. However, seeing the products live make me feel giddy. I kind of feel like I'm drunk on convention fumes, and that I would buy things that I normally might think about more. Since this is my first QuiltCon, I decided not to hold back, but carrying that stuff home at the end of a day? I wish I had booked a hotel closer to the convention center.

Of course, QuiltCon isn't complete without some meet-ups and selfies!

From top left, going clockwise: Cheryl Brickey, Natalie Barnes, Angela Walters, Sherry Shish, and Christina Cameli.

I plan to go to QuiltCon Nashville next year, but I'll definitely take it easier. Well, that's what I say now. Who knows what I might do when the class list comes out!

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Off to QuiltCon!

Oh, how I've waited. A whole year, in fact.

Last year, after missing out on the Savannah show, I was determined to attend the next show in Pasadena. I was checking QuiltCon's website for information about the 2018 show on a weekly basis, and when the long-awaited class list was first announced, I dove into it like a kid in a candy store. I made schedules, debated options, and on registration day, I was ready!

There were some snafus at registration but I managed to get into every class I wanted. I'll be taking classes with Angela Walters, Christina Cameli, Pamela Wiley, Kitty Wilkin, and Latifah Saafir. These are people I've only ever seen on a screen before, so that's wildly exciting that I'll be in the same room with them, learning from them!

So, my bags are packed, my workshop supplies are prepared, and my credit cards are ready.

... I do hope I haven't built it up too much in my head. After all, it was a whole year of anticipation!

Friday, February 16, 2018

L'Arc en Ciel

A special quilt deserves a special name, so it's no coincidence that I named this really special quilt after my favorite Japanese band. L'Arc en Ciel means The Rainbow in French, and it is a fitting name for this rainbow-themed scrappy Irish chain quilt from Melissa Corry's Irish Chain Quilts.

This quilt was made from leftover fabric. Well, almost. I didn't really have much in the way of low-volume scraps for the background and dug into my fat quarter stash for that, but the colored fabrics are all made from leftover strips pieced into crazy blocks. It was a lot of work, because I was making my own fabric essentially, but it was totally worth it when I saw the results at the end.

This quilt was slow to piece, but easy and enjoyable. I enjoyed all the different rainbow fabrics, and I particularly love the way the low-volume background looked. To make this quilt, I think I pretty much exhausted my almost-white prints, which means I need to replenish that.

When it comes to quilting, I had several ideas in mind. It ranges all the way from improv, to a more structured design. Ultimately, I chose structure because the piecing has enough improv in it. I quilted a secondary design in the background with diamonds lying beneath each chain cross. It's an easy, minimal marking design that also puts straight lines next to curvy fillers, which is my favorite way to employ contrast.

I had to resist the urge to quilt this as densely as I secretly wanted to. I usually like to quilt fillers at a super dense scale, but I just felt this quilt was busy enough that it didn't also warrant super dense quilting. So ... I used closer to a 3/8" scale, which was honestly a bit painful, but on the bright side, it means the quilt is slightly cuddlier.

This quilt has a sparkle to it because some of the fabrics I used has a metallic sheen. I adore it, and it's just perfect for brightening up those Chicago winter days! (Although, I don't think Chicago winters are all that dreary.) I toted this quilt all over the house, trying to find a good "stage" shot. I really think photography is the hardest part of being a quilt blogger!


Linking up with: Crazy Mom Quilts, My Quilt Infatuation, Busy Hands Quilts, Confessions of a Fabric Addict, Cooking Up Quilts, Sew Can She, and Powered by Quilting.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Candy Dish ~ Ready to Quilt

I don't post that many blog posts of works-in-progress, mostly because I don't remember to take in-progress photos. But I'm so excited about this quilt that I just have to post some work in progress shots!

A year ago I didn't think I would ever want to make a hexagon quilt. It just looked too complicated for me. But recently, I've been really wanting to make one ... or I probably just wanted an excuse to break out my Hex 'n More ruler again. It's just so fun to use that I actually look forward to the cutting process!

The fabric collection I'm using is True Colors by Anna Maria Horner, which has so many great prints. The pattern I'm using is Candy Dish by Julie Herman which is a pillow pattern, but I expanded it to a lap quilt so I can use pretty much all 20 fabrics in my bundle.

There's really not that much piecing other than attaching the triangles to the hexagons. This quilt is mostly about assembly, but it wasn't as hard as I expected. I once thought a quilt like this would be too hard to make, but apparently my piecing confidence has gone up, and now it no longer seems so daunting.

And I have a finished quilt ... top! I don't know when it'd get quilted, there are so many others in line, but I look forward to finishing it one day. In the mean time, maybe my brain will start brewing up some ideas about quilting it ... subconsciously. One can hope!

Friday, February 2, 2018

Inside Looking Out

Every few regular quilts, I like to slip in a paper-pieced quilt. I really enjoy paper piecing even though it can be slow and tedious. I love that I don't have to cut precisely, and it's a magical feeling when the blocks come out perfect, as paper pieced blocks tend to.

The pattern I'm using is Ventana by Alison Glass. For the fabric, I'm also using an Alison Glass collection called Seventy-Six. I think I probably own every single Alison Glass collection in some form ... but I'm addicted. When it comes to colorful, richly rainbow fabrics, she's the creme de la creme.

I particularly like this quilt for the secondary patterns that form in the negative space between the blocks. Not only is it an interesting shape, but it's fun to quilt! Instead of quilting the same filler throughout though, I sort of treated it as an off-center medallion with a center motif, and then each ring is a different design radiating out. When it comes to quilting background spaces, I usually think more is more!

In the beautiful print fabrics, I kept it simple with some dot-to-dot designs. That way, it both contrasts with the denser background and doesn't obscure the fabric. The fun thing about dot-to-dot designs is that I can make up whatever, and as long as there's some symmetry there, it will look good.

I knew what I wanted to do with the quilting before I even started piecing, and I love it when that happens. It doesn't happen often, but when it does, that quilt usually gets made and quilted pretty quickly. I like the end result very much, and I expect I'll want to do another paper-piecing project before too long.


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

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