Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 Quilting in Review

2012 was a great year for quilting!  It was filled with amazing classes, "sewcials," fun projects and lots of beautiful fabrics!  Here are just a few highlights from 2012:

*  I was involved in 3 different quilt associations, and met so many amazing and truly talented quilters.  They provided me with inspiration and companionship.

*  Taking classes with some amazing quilting instructors:  Jennie Rayment for more textured and twiddling fun, Anelie Beldon for Dresden Plates, Christine Barnes for Color Camp and Magic Fabrics, Esterita Austin for pet portraits, tackling curves with Cara Gulati and Sonya Lee Barrington and meeting Alex Anderson!!  I made sure I purchased one of their books to get signed to add to my collection!

*  My quilting skills were stretched and put to the test as I completed 6 guild hosted challenges:  BAMQG Echo challenge to make something for myself out of the Echo line of fabrics, CQFA's Under the Sea challenge using sea inspired scraps provided by fellow members, BAM scrap pillow swap, SCQVA Crazy Elegance using 21+ different fabrics in one cohesive quilt, BAM Modern Block design and BAM's Wholecloth Quilt challenge (and my SCVQA "Oh My Stars" challenge is in progress but unlikely to be completed until the new year!).
    Top Left clockwise:  Echo bag, Crazy Elegance, Echo quilt caddy, Wholecloth, Scrap Pillow Swap, Echo Cathedral, Modern Block design, Echo bag reverse and Under the Sea. 

Collection of Magic Fabrics

*  I attended my first two quilting retreats ever and had an absolute blast learning new techniques, staying up late working on a variety of projects and meeting some wonderful quilters.

*  At the second retreat, I was introduced to Magic Fabrics, and ever since, have been on the prowl for new magical fabrics to add some sparkle and magic into my various projects.  There's even a drawer dedicated to housing this growing collection of Magic Fabrics!

*  I participated in McCall's Mystery Challenge Quilt--working on each step as they were published.  It is 80% quilted!

*  I was seduced into two 5" rainbow charm swaps.  I will admit it was fun working with fellow swappers to select fun fabrics within our color assignment, and waiting with anticipation for the full set of colorful charms.  Now I just gotta figure out what to do with them all, other than admire and caress them!   

Bennie has been befriended...alleluiah!!
And how did I do on my 2012 New Year's Resolutions?
#1.  Befriend Bennie:  Well, after completing 2 workshops focused on Bernina 8 series and several emergency visits to my LQS, I am happy to share our relationship is better than ever!  We've enjoyed countless hours of piecing and quilting (and very little muttering of 4-letter words on my end!).  We've come a long way and have lots more adventure and excitement ahead...

#2.  Master Machine Quilting:  Having Bennie has made such a difference in maneuvering large quilts during the quilting phase.  No more muttering nasty 4-letter words during the quilting phase, and since I don't have to fight the fabric as much, my back/shoulders don't ache, I am able to quilt for longer periods of time, and as a result able to do more dense quilting which give the quilts a wonderful look and feel!  

#3.  Document my projects:  Well, this is my 65th blog post documenting my quilting adventures.  The Quilt Label's class was invaluable, and I am proud to announce all the quilts that have left the house are complete with a personalized label including the quilt title, recipient, my information and the date!  I am even starting to include Quilt Care instructions on the back!

#4.  Add some glitz and pizzazz:  While I missed the mark on trying a new embellishment technique each month, I certainly added lots of glitz and pizzazz to my quilts this year.  I did try my hand at a few fabric embellishment techniques, and I've started adding magic fabrics that provide movement, glow and sparkle, along with some cool textured effects, spinning borders and even fabric weaving into my projects.  

#5.  Get Scrappy:  I completed several scrap projects using the remnants of previous quilts:  the Pink and Green Diamond Quilt, the Scrap Pillow Swap, BAM Improv blocks and Artist Trading Cards.  More intention and planning went into the management of my fabric scraps.  Whenever possible, I would cut fabric remnants into 2.5" strips, 5" or 2.5" squares.  Then last week, Doug and I tackled the overflowing scrap bucket and bin---he presssed each scrap while I chopped them up and organized them by color.  My fabric management efforts paid off while working on several Twister quilts and Mondo bags, which are my favorite scrap busting projects!  

Panda showing off a now empty scrap bucket!
I like my dogs like my fabric:  scrappy!
Pre-cut squares salvaged from my scrap bucket/bin and awaiting a scrappy project!  
While reflecting on this year...I've given lots of thought to what I hope to accomplish next year...stay tuned.  Until then, Happy New Year!!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

I'm dreaming of a quilty Christmas!

Oh Christmas Tree
This year, life was simply hectic throughout the holidays.  We usually put up the Christmas tree up a week or so later than usual...back in its prime location:  my studio!  I was counting down the days until my 4 day Christmas vacation for some much needed time off!  While I had an ambitious to do list...we slowed down to celebrate a relaxing and lovely Christmas day!
I sense a theme here...

Santa was especially generous this year, and I sensed a quilt-related theme in gifts:  fabric, quilt templates and a gift certificate to my favorite quilt shop!!

I treated myself to some long-overdue studio time to quilt using last year's Christmas gift...Bennie.  "Oh my Stars" SCVQA Challenge Quilt is due at the end of I spent some time planning out the design and researching various star patterns and techniques I wanted to highlight.  I decided to test one of the techniques using some fabrics from my stash unrelated to the quilt challenge.  After pulling several stacks of fabrics only to pull more and more, I finally made my selection and started to cut, iron and assemble this intricate Fancy Folded Star Potholder block using a Moda Bakeshop pattern/tutorial.

Finished block with borders
The initial set up took some time, as I kept running back to my computer screen for direction on the next step in the process...yet it came together easily enough as I watched in amazement as the block started to develop.  I was so impressed with the overall block that I decided to add some borders...which led to layering it, quilting it and even binding it---all in one night!  (technically I finished around 12:45 AM!!)

You will certainly see more of this block in the new year as I work on my Challenge quilt...hint hint!

Quilted and bound Christmas Star mini quilt

Christmas Stars 

Merry Christmas!  

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

My first quilt donation

Holiday Party Quilt Donations
Quilters are known for their generosity and making quilts for those in need.  And while I've been happy to help make charity blocks that are later assembled into a quilt by others in my guild, I've never made the sacrifice of an entire quilt for philanthropic purposes.  So far, each labor of love has stayed near and dear with friends and family members--where I figure I could see the finished quilt once more.
Texas Two Step Quilt

Santa Clara Valley Quilt Association held its annual holiday party last night and asked for finished quilts to be donated to Scribbles and Giggles.

Back in January/February, I made a second Texas Two Step, that has been tucked away in my studio awaiting any baby girl announcements.  Much to my disappointment, there were no baby girl announcements in all of 2012 (plenty of boy announcements---which I didn't think would appreciate a pink and red quilt!) I decided it was time for Texas Two Step Quilt #2 to bring some warmth and comfort to some young child in need.  So I whipped up a quick label yesterday and lovingly dropped it off at the start of our holiday party, among some other beautiful charity quilts that will be equally loved and appreciated!
Quilt Label for my First Donation Quilt...Enjoy and Happy Holidays!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Stroller Rink Quilts

Strip Set--100% from my stash!
I came home Thanksgiving eve, giddy about my 2 days off from work and determined to start a new quilt...but not just one quilt...two for friends having their first baby in January (both boys!)  I started looking through a few books for inspiration and a plan.  I selected Roller Rink out of  Elizabeth Hartman's new book "Modern Patchwork" and starting cutting up bright cheery strips all from my stash!  Unfortunately I didn't have enough of the charcoal linen fabric for both quilts (I wasn't even sure it was enough for one baby quilt...yet I lucked out...phew!).  I was able to substitute some solid kona grey for the second quilt.  By the end of the evening, I had pressed all the fabrics and had all the strips cut and ready to go for some serious chain piecing.

Thanksgiving morning, I woke up early and couldn't get to the studio fast enough to start sewing these quilts.  It was pedal to the metal, as I started assembling the strip sets, which went surprisingly fast!  In fact, I had all the strip sets sewn, cut and all the white framed blocks completed by the end of Thanksgiving Day.  Friday, I completed the second set of blocks and started to assemble the quilt tops.  Sunday, I found 2 large pieces of fabric in my stash that were just barely big enough for my backing and went to work layering and pinning in preparation for the quilting stage...which is where I took a bit of a break as my vacation was over...

Fun striped binding
Last Saturday, I came home absolutely exhausted from work.  I left the office thinking I would need a stiff drink once I got home... but instead found great stress relief by quilting both quilt tops in one night!  Although in fairness, it was mostly edge to edge quilting that followed the lines of the quilts, so once again it was pedal to the metal!

Once the binding was complete---I needed a quilt name so I could prep the labels.  I thought it would be fun to play off the original quilt title "Roller Rink" and since these were baby quilt sized...I changed it to "Stroller Rink."  I also wanted a fun location photograph the finished quilts.  We've been having some rainy, dreary days and I really wanted a bright cheery background.  I thought it might be fun to head to a local playground and the first pass by it was full of kids.  So we ran our errands and stopped by once more to find an empty park to drape the quilts along the playground for a fun photo shoot!
Double Stroller Rink Quilts

Baby Grant Quilt

Baby McElwain Quilt

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Glowing Tucked Up and Embellished Circle

Glowing Tucked Up and Embellished Circle
My quilting has taken a bit of a back seat this past month, as I am back to working full time and I am enrolled in an intensive online course for dog training...  But I was able to squeeze in some time this weekend to finished up my Tucked Up and Embellished Circle, started at PIQF with Jennie Rayment.  I had finished the center square during the class, and came home to add some spinning borders that radiate out from the center square, using some leftover ombre scraps.  And I finished the outer border with a fun spirograph fabric that I used for the center circle and was just a perfect match for the glowing colors.  But as usual, the quilting and finishing phase took some time and planning...but the end result was well worth it!  I can't wait to bring it to my upcoming Show and Tell as I am just so proud of it.  I am still trying to figure out where this new piece should be displayed, but until I will hang above our fireplace, directly across from my seat in the living room!
Yes--those are Legos displayed on the mantle!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

PIQF'd Out!

This past weekend was Pacific International Quilt Festival:  complete with over 800 quilts, 300 vendors, 60 workshops offered by national and international quilt teachers.  It was 3 days of quilter's bliss!

Dixie in fabric
This year, I signed up for two different one-day workshops:  Animal Portraits with Esterita Austin and Tucked Up and Embellished Circles with Jennie Rayment.  I arrived to the Animal Portrait class super early--so I got first pick among some half yards of gorgeous hand dyed fabrics.  I had hoped to use Skippy as my subject matter---but he tends to be pretty camera instead I went with Dixie.  As you can see I didn't get very far with capturing Dixie in fabric, but in fairness those are all individual pieces of fabric cut out and fused.  But I am really excited about the technique and can't wait to work on it more to tackle the rest of her face in fabric.
Jennie's Tucked Up Circle

Just the beginning...
Last year I took Jennie Rayment's Texture into Sudoku class, so I knew I was in for a treat with her Tucked Up and Embellished Circles class.  Many students opted to go with the class kit containing muslin fabrics.  And as usual, I took a more colorful route:  a gorgeous glowing ombre fabric ranging from a warm yellow to oranges and finally to a bright raspberry pinkish/purple.  I was able to cut the fabrics needed for class to capture on this changing fabric...and each step of the process kept getting more and more exciting.

Tucked up circle from class...more to come!

I can't wait to show the finished piece, especially since I added some fun borders.

And even though I was exhausted after each class, I powered through and checked out the quilt show.  Day 1, I only managed to get through the vendors and maybe half the quilts.  Day 2, I helped cover our guild's table to sell tickets for wall hangings and a featherweight machine, named Pearl.  Day 3, I tackled the remainder of the show.  I behaved myself at the various vendors, only picking up a few fabrics to add to my stash.  I especially enjoyed seeing all the gorgeous quilts made by fellow guild members, several of which earned ribbons!  Next year, I will be sure to submit a quilt or two...  but until then, I am officially PIQF'd out!

Monday, October 8, 2012

BAMQG Whole Cloth Quilt Challenge

Colorful zig zag stitching radiating from the center
This past Saturday was BAMQG meeting day--and the deadline for completing the Aurofil Whole Cloth Quilt Challenge.  Up until Wednesday morning, I hadn't a single stitch, let alone selected fabrics, threads or designs...eeeeek!  But I woke up with a vision of a quilted color wheel combining only 6 threads to create zig zag rays of primary, secondary and tertiary colors.  Before I lost the vision, I drafted up a quick sketch to guide me, then went to the studio to make a sandwich of Kona charcoal grey solid for the front of the quilt and a bright color wheel printed fabric for the backing.  

painter's tape to mark arcs and stitching lines
To create the evenly spaced zig zags, I first created a freezer paper circle template, then used 1" painter's tape to mark 12 evenly spaced arcs.  On the circle template, I jotted down which thread color combination would fill each arc.  To create the same zig zag pattern in each of the arcs, I marked dots along the inside edges of tape that were then be connected using my walking foot.  For the first few arcs, I would measure out and mark the dots to match the first arc.  But then realized I could reuse the tape segments containing the original marks, which saved quite a bit of time and minimized the chance of accidentally marking the fabric with the permanent sharpie marker.  It was easy to eyeball the first few connecting lines, but as I worked my out from the center circle, the lines grew longer and more difficult to stitch straight lines.  So I used smaller lengths of painter's tape to create a straight edge to serve as a guide for my walking foot.  

pop of color in the center
Once each arc had its master zig zag stitched, I then stitched three to four parallel zig zags approximately ~1/4 apart to create the color saturation to pop.  In the primary and secondary arcs, I could use the same thread for all 5 rows of stitching.  But in the teriary arcs, I alternated primary and secondary colored thread to achieve a blended Red, Violet, Red, Violet to achieve Red-Violet. Even though this process required me to swtich out threads/bobbins, it actually went fairly quickly!  

I found a great rainbow ombre fabric that was already blended on the bias which really added a pop to the binding!  I kept going back and forth over the center space, and whether to leave the center as is or add something special.  I opted to add one more burst of color by appliqueing a small circle of backing fabric, while still maintaining a ring of unstitched negative space before the zig zag stitching began.

Finished project--unfortunately my photo just doesn't capture all the colorful stitching, but boy does that binding pop!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Quilting in the Garden with Some Quilting Super Stars

While I missed my chance to see the space shuttle Endeavor fly over Silicon Valley...I did meet a quilting super star...Alex Anderson!!  I registered for "An Evening with Alex Anderson" as part of Quilting in the Garden, hosted by Alden Lane Nursery.  I gave myself an extra hour to arrive early for a good spot.  But once I left GPS warned me there was a 43 minute delay!!!  I thought for sure it had to be a glitch and reprogrammed the address and yup...43 minute delay which actually turned out to be a full hour delay as I arrived several minutes late!  But all my aggravation melted away once I arrived, sampled some delicious cheesecake and Alex started sharing her quilting adventures.  She really is an amazing quilter and such a fun personality!

Alex Anderson's gorgeous quilts
Since she is local she brought several of her finished quilts to do a mini trunk show.  While all her quilts were gorgeous, I especially enjoyed watching her styles and techniques progress.  I was especially drawn to some of her most recent works...absolutely stunning!  She also brought a quilt comprised of 6" blocks made by many of the guest artists on The Quilt Show!

While I was still new to quilting, Alex's Simply Quilts show on HGTV was my only quilting community.  She and her featured guest quilters provided so much inspiration, introduction to new techniques and tools and motivation to keep quilting.  So her presentation was a real treat!

Judy Mathieson quilt featured on the cover of her book

We also got a preview of the featured artist, Judy Mathieson and her gorgeous compass star quilts.  Of course after the presentations, I rushed over to meet both quilters, armed with a sharpie marker and copies of their books for signing.

We returned to Alden Lane Nursery the next day for the quilt show.  The nursery provided a beautiful backdrop for the 250+ quilts displayed in their centuries old oak trees, along the exteriors of buildings, inside their greenhouse and even over an antique wagon!  There was just so much eye candy to absorb...all you had to do was look up.
Quilts blowing in the gentle fall breeze--we will definitely visit again next year!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

One Block Wonder

OBW Fabrics awaiting a class...

I’ve been in awe of Maxine Rosenthal’s One Block Wonder quilts, book and technique!  So much so that I purchased all 3 of her books, a set of mirrors to preview potential OBW fabrics, and 4+ yards each of two different printed fabrics that would make awesome OBW quilts.  I understood the basic construction of the quilt, but nervous about how to layer the fabric to ensure perfectly stacked layers that could be then cut into identical 60-degree triangles to achieve the kaleidoscope effect.  So I waited for a LQS to offer a class and waited, waited and waited.  Finally a not so local quilt shop (40 minute drive) posted a 2 part OBW class on their website and I immediately signed up.  To no surprise, I already had everything on the class supply list so all I had to do is wait for the big day to arrive and have all the OBW mysteries unveiled…

For this first class, we prepared our fabrics to be cut into sets of 6 identical 3.75" equilateral triangles ready to be sewn into hexagons creating a kaleidoscopic effect.  Each class attendee brought very different fabrics, so it will be fun to see how this same technique will yield totally different quilts!  Interestingly enough--even people starting with the same fabric will end up with totally different quilts depending on how they cut the fabrics, assemble the hexagons and lay it all out!  Our homework assignment was to finish cutting up all the triangles and assemble them into half hexagons (that way we don't have to sew any Y-seams!).  Its so much fun manipulating the angle of the triangles to create 3 very different kaleidoscope images...and watching them bloom in front of you!  Instant reward!
Sample homework hexagons using Butterfly Carnival fabric (top left image)
The instructors did warn us that OBW quilts are addicting!  Both have each made 40+ quilts and purchased enough fabric for another 40+ OBW quilts.  I even overheard a fellow quilt shopper inquire about what class was in progress and then muttering something about addictions/disease when she heard it was a OBW class!  Well, I think I am developing an addiction as I may have cut up a second OBW fabric and started to assemble hexagons...
Overachiever:  Second OBW featuring Koi Carp & Waterlilies by Free Spirit/Westminister Fabrics
So now I've got 108 sets of Butterfly hexagons to sew together and 105 sets of Koi Fish!  Fortunately I have 10+ days, including a BAMQG Sew Day, until the next class where we lay out all our hexagons and start assembling our quilt top!  I can't wait!

And I may have to visit a LQS or two in search of additional OBW candidate fabrics...

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Block Party

Whenever I attend sew days or small quilting groups, I opt to bring small portable projects that can be accomplished regardless of my allotted sewing space.  On occasion I will bring rows/columns for assembly--but most of the time, I like to work at the block level.  Easy to transport to and from safely with minimal wrinkling, simple and flexible for taking breaks for socializing!

Here are some blocks sewn at recent sew days/events as a little preview of upcoming projects/posts:

BAMQG New Charity Blocks-Patchwork Wheel by Don't Call Me Betsy
Single Patchwork Wheel
6 Patchwork Wheels-love the secondary pattern that forms!
SCVQA Quilting 101 Paper Piecing Demo
Front of Strippy Heart
Paper Pieced Foundation

Karla Alexander Run for Color Blocks (started at her April workshop!)
More than halfway done with all the colorful and curvy blocks!