Saturday, April 28, 2012

Under the Sea Challenge

I've been having lots of fun with my first "art quilt" challenge through CQFA (Contemporary Quilt and Fiber Artists).  At our last meeting--we each brought in fused squares of fabric that evoked a feeling of under the sea:  fish, seaweed, water, shells, etc.  We then swapped and shared fabrics and were challenged to create an art quilt with the theme "Under the Sea." 
Swapped under the sea fabrics
Sketch of fish playing poker
As soon as I got home, I sketched up some ideas featuring a spin off of the "dogs playing poker" paintings...don't ask where I even got this inspiration!?! 

Staged Fish Scene


 













But then I got stuck on how to fashion the background...so I waited, waited, and waited for an idea which arrived many thanks to Anna Faustino's "Simply Stunning Woven Quilts."  Her book outlined a process of weaving fused fabrics that resulted in a fun and psychadelic appearance that coincidentally looked like the bottom of my sketch above!!!  Here is my journey using her techniques:
Start with 2 identical log cabin blocks in 2 colorways
Iron on fusible web to the entire back of both blocks and mark vertical and horizontal center lines on both blocks with chalk or some removable marking tool.  Place some masking tape at the top of one block (blue block) to mark where to end your vertically oriented curvy cuts (using a rotary cutter).  This will help keep everything organized when you get to the weaving phase.  Then cut horizontal lines all the way thorugh your second block (see purple).  Place the blue block on top of a slightly larger piece of batting.

Now its time to start weaving your horizontal strips (purple) into your blue strips starting with the center most strip, matching up those chalk lines and seam lines!
Strip 1 added-using chalk lines as guides

Keep adding strips center down

half way woven

Once you get to the bottom, remove the masking tape and snip through the fabric...and return to the center and weave remaining strips.  I used lots of pins to hold the strips in place and to help match up seam lines.  Once all strips are woven in...iron  the entire piece to your batting...and then zig zag stitch along woven lines. 

Close up of zig zag stitching

Back of batting

Now that my background was complete...let the fun begin by adding some card sharks, shells, seaweed and a few decks of playing cards...

This was a very liberating experience where I just had fun.  I especially like the flowing red ribbon tentacles for the jelly fish poker table, textured seaweed and its not just fish hiding out among the seaweed--is that a spare Ace of Spades?

Thorughout the embellishment process, I had 2 songs running through my mind:
-  The Little Mermaid's Under the Sea
-  The Beatles' Octopus's garden 

Last but not least...I had a few fun titles in mind...
-  Fish and Chips (poker chips)
-  Card Sharks

But in the end...I went with...
GO FISH!!  :-)  Go figure!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Kool Kaleidoscope Progress


My strips ready to be sewn into strata
I was sooo excited about creating a Kool Kaleidoscope after watching Ricky Tim's demo on The Quilt Show.  I ran to my studio and pulled out fun colorful fabrics and got to work cutting up various widths to create the strata needed. 
But then I ran into a brief snafu with drafting up the templates.  My supposedly 3 identical 30 degree triangles weren't matching up.  Doug to the rescue with all his drafting tools with special triangles and rulers...and we had 3 identical triangles that I could create my templates with accuracy!

Yesterday I started cutting out the wedge pieces and loved watching the kaleidoscope grow and bloom on my design wall!

Wedge 1 only
Wedge 2 added
Wedge 3 and 4 added to the colorful mix
Wedge 5
All wedges cut and in place for sewing
I must admit that I kept sneaking into my studio all night just to admire this burst of color...right up before I went to bed.  Ricky warns us not to attempt chain piecing but to tackle each wedge one at a time...so I think I will set up  my sewing machine right next to the design wall so I can just reach over for the next piece.  I also have to decide what fabrics to use for my "butt" and "wedgie" sections (Note"  those are Ricky's technical terms for the pieces needed to square up the design) and borders. 

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Jewels that Sparkle Punch

I fell madly in love with Elizabeth Hartman's (Oh Fransson! blog author) Sparkle Punch Quilt and set out in January to cut up squares as part of her Quilt Along...but this is the only phase that I stayed on schedule...
All from my stash to a big pile of pink, purple, blue and teal 3.5" squares...
To my design wall...and design floor!
To a finished quilt--say hello "Jewels that Sparkle Punch"
Centerish star is the inspiration for fabric/color selections.
I finished this baby just hours before my quilt guild meeting show and tell.  It was a mad dash wrapping up the quilting and binding...but I made it and got quite a few positive comments from fellow guild members.

You can see the random straignt lines of quilting...accomplished many thanks to lots of blue painter's tape.  They truly are random...I just placed the tape down and went to the other side of the quilt edge and sewed alongside...and kept going until I was satisfied with the density of quilted lines. 









I originally hadn't planned on using the same backing pattern as in the Quilt Along.  But when I realized I only used 4 colors (blue, pink, purple and teal) it seemed appropriate to do the quartered backing with white stars (negative of the front).



And used one of the stars as my quilt label!








I might be keeping this quilt...as I absolutely love it.  And it is a perfect fit for our upcoming guild's quilt show theme:  Shower of Stars!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Winding Ways Winding Down


Ta da!
I began this winding ways quilt back in October--in a class at one of my LQS.  I figured it would help get me over my fear of curved piecing...but little did I know that the curved piecing would be the easiest phase of this adventure!  Once the blocks were assembled and sewn together---little glitches began to pop up:  by designing a fun and more intricate scrolling border--I ended up with a quilt top that was too big for my backing which then had to be reconfigured, then my sewing machine kept acting up quarter of the way into quilting...which is already stressful enough.
But misadventures aside...I love the end result!  The quilting was by far more intricate than previous projects and I am really happy with how it complements the enchanted circles effects...
Close up of winding quilting
Contact paper templates to carry on the circles
I had a few extra blocks that didn't make it into the quilt top--so I turned one into my quilt label...
Spare block = Quilt label
Pup Approved

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Challenge Accepted: Modern Quilt Guild Blocks

As part of QuiltCon, the Modern Quilt Guild is hosting a block challenge.  In a nutshell, participants design a modern quilt block that uses the colors from the QuiltCon logo, measuring 12.5 tall and the width is
flexible.  Elizabeth Hartman, one of my favorite bloggers, will be selecting her favorite 20 blocks to create a quilt that will be raffled off as a fundraiser!  The remaining blocks will be sewn together for philanthropy quilts.
The colors are so fun and fresh, so it was exciting to brainstorm block ideas using all the colors...and can't wait to start translating my paper mock up into fabric...sorry no sneak peeking yet!

But in the meantime, my local modern quilt guild is starting up a block challenge of their own that parallel's QuiltCon's block challenge.  We are challenged to create 12.5" blocks that use the BAMQG colors:  teal, tangerine and white that will be made into a banner to represent the guild at community events. 
BAMQG logo
I grabbed my membership cardand started pulling out fabric...much of it from my pile of scraps!  Then I set out to make wonky stars using the logo above as the center square...
BAMQG challenge blocks
As all the blocks submitted for the challenge will be worked either into a philanthropy quilt and/or banner, I decided to make a second block for myself!
BAMQG Wonky Block Close Up
I may duplicate this wonky star idea as one of my 3 eligible entries for the QuiltCon contest...using the Modern Quilt Guild logo for the center block.  But I really want to spend my time and energy on my original block idea, as its pretty awesome (at least on paper and in  my head!)  Wish me luck! 

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Pillow Swap

We wrapped up the BAMQG Pillow Swap today.  I took all the extra half square triangles created while forming snow ball blocks for the rick rack tic tac toe quilt along with some scraps from the borders and backing.
Original source of scraps-which I just gave away
Lots of half square triangles and strips from border/backing

And two months later got this bundle of fun made by a fellow BAMQG member...
Front of quilt--I love the star design!!
Back of pillow--I love the intricate details--buttons!
She did an amazing job...I love everything--the graphic design for the front and back of the quilt, fabric covered buttons, colorful binding, cute button holes, and the beautiful quilting design.  And now I have a colorful reminder of my rick rack tic tac toe quilt to add a nice pop my studio!   Thank you!!!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Finished It Friday: Echo Challenge

My local modern quilt guild hosted an Echo challenge--where we were given swatches of Echo fabrics to make something for ourselves! 
Fabric swatches provided for echo challenge
Originally I wanted to make a zipper bag to serve as a quilter's emergency kit but I was intimidated by putting in a zipper.  In an effort to avoid a zipper, I moved onto two easy projects at the retreat:
Echo sewing organizer/scrap catcher
Echo cathedral window tote
Both came out super cute but neither project highlighted or used all 4 fabric swatches and seemed to be cheating the challenge.  With the big reveal rapidly approaching, I revisited the quilter's emergency kit idea and the dreaded zipper bag!  I drafted up some block ideas to embellish my zipper tote using the fabrics:
Sketches for bag design

Translated into fabric

Bag interior assembly-sizing up the pockets

Finished exterior shots--I love it!!!!!

Emergency supplies stocked and organized
Currently my quilter's emergency kit contains:  an assortment of pins, scissors, hand/machine needles, pens/marking tools, lint roller, spare rotary blade, bobbins, thread, bandaids, first aid ointment, tissues, gum, post it nots, baggies, template tabs, hair bands, chapstick...and there's still room for additional emergency supplies.  Now I am prepared for any quilting emergency!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Bennie: Missing in Action

Lately, I've been working to wrap up some of my many WIPs.  To help combat insomnia the other night, I opted to count up all my WIPs/UFOs rather than the traditional sheep.  And just as I was making some progress--Bennie started acting up big time...requiring a visit to the sewing machine doctor for some upgrades and surgery!
Bennie's absence may have left a hole in my heart and studio...
which came in handy for a light box to...
make quilt labels!
My Brother machine came to the rescue as I made some great progress on some of my many works in progress...stay tuned!  And Bennie came home this afternoon having recovered nicely from all the upgrades.