Thursday, January 31, 2013

Sign Language

My birthday brought some extra special gifts:  handmade wooden signs with a quilting theme!  Some are to decorate my studio while others are to minimize interruptions while I am quilting away!  I love 'em and can't wait until I can spend more time in the studio and put these signs to the test!  

Thanks Doug!!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Mystery Challenge Completed---"Colorful and Creased Cosmos"

Challenge quilt kit
Today was the deadline for SCVQA's "Oh My Stars!" quilt challenge.  I picked up my bag-o-fabrics last June, and finally cutting/sewing New Year's Eve.

The rules included:
  • use 4-6" of each of the mystery challenge fabrics
  • include 5 stars, one of which had to be pieced (the others could be pieced, quilted, in the fabric, applique, etc)
  • must contain at least one embellishment
  • not to exceed 80" perimeter
  • and we could only add 5 fabrics of our own choosing
I was surprised to find one of the mystery fabrics in Joann's so I picked up an extra yard just in case, and recently found the grey/green polka dot fabric in Berkeley, CA and got some extra.

Pile of rejected fabrics
For this challenge, I looked through my magazines, books and patterns for any kind of stellar inspiration.  My research yielded so many exciting ideas, too numerous to fit within an 80" perimeter restriction!  

I also knew I wanted to feature some magical fabrics, drawing upon inspiration from Christine Barnes' retreat and workshop.  So I went to my fabric stash and pulled out a ginormous pile of fabrics that would create some pop to the mystery quilt fabrics.  Problem was that there were simply too many choices and I was limited to adding only 5 fabrics, which had to include background and binding.

Gradated blocks from ombre fabric
And then it dawned on me that an ombre fabric, featuring a graduated range of colors could easily solve my fabric selection dilemma.  I was able to cut it up every 3" and get noticeably different blocks of color to use with my fabric folded star.

Prep work for my layered star

I was so excited by this burst of color and how they played so nicely with the mystery fabrics that I included little snippets in each of the blocks that followed and later on in some piping along the binding...

Ombre folded star

I first created this layered folded star using a Moda bakeshop recipe for a Fancy Folded Star Potholder.  And I had several pieced/fabric folded stars in mind but wasn't sure how to tie them together into a cohesive design layout.  I fluctuated between sun and stars, star gazing, and constellations.  But then I found inspiration from an invitation modern star card design.  I was able to resize all my star designs to fit around the folded star and went to work creating colorful stars that were folded and could be manipulated for further interest.  

I will admit my rainbow star had a few small gaps at the very points...which resolved another design dilemma--embellishments!  I thought about adding buttons in the center of my asterisk stars, and then found these great pointed stars that matched the yellow green points perfect without losing the starry points!

"Colorful and Creased Cosmos"

Skippy's review of "Colorful and Creased Cosmos"
Unlike previous challenge quilts that I usually start the week before--this once I actually started one full month before the deadline.  But like all the other challenge quilt submissions--I was putting on the final stitches and finishing details the night before!  And I was completing my submission form just minutes before I had to take off for the meeting...eek! 

All in all I love this finished quilt.  While the top right folded star is my absolute favorite element, I love how the fabrics glow, the hidden asterisks that I quilted into the lower left corners, woven green and black center block, 3-D pinwheels and overall modern aesthetic!  I can't wait to see what the other challenge participates create using the mystery fabrics.  Voting will take place at our February and March meetings...and the complete collection will be on display at our April Quilt Show.  

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

New Year...New Quilting Resolutions!

Quilting furiously away in my studio, I bid 2012 farewell, and welcomed a new year with even more quilting (up through almost 3 AM!!!).  The new year is definitely off to a great start and I've got some ambitious quilting goals lined up for 2013:

Ready for some FMQ!
1.  Embracing Free Motion Quilting!:  Up until now, I've relied on my walking foot for all my quilting. And while it can accomplish some gentle curves, I am ready for more detailed and intricate quilt motifs.      Already, I've gathered some resources to help me be successful in this endeavor:  Leah Day's "Free Motion Quilting a Sampler" Craftsy class, visited her Day Style Designs website, read Listen to Your Quilt book, have 2 more quilts in my Amazon cue, and seriously considering Angela Walter's "How to Machine Quilt Negative Space" Craftsy class!  And I have a bunch of quilt sandwiches prepped for getting my FMQ practice on!  

Supplies for EPP class...check!

2.  Try My Hand at English Paper Piecing:  I had signed up for an EPP class at my LQS in October, and even gathered all the materials on the supply list.  Unfortunately, my new job conflicted with the class and I had to cancel.  But to my luck--they are offering it again in just a few weeks, and I even got permission to leave work early!  I am looking forward to the portability that EPP affords, which will be perfect for travel, work breaks and while watching tv!

Say cheese!

3.  Enhance my photography skills:  Now that I've got a blog, a fancy new camera and post as SCVQA's historian, I'd like to take my photographs to the next level.  So here I am committed to reading my camera manual to learn all about the various functions to capture the best photograph, regardless of conditions/lighting, etc.  It would be helpful to capture more detailed pictures of my works in progress to share my techniques/process with fellow bloggers.  Last, I want to take my finished photographs with more creative backdrops.  Here I enrolled in Caro Sheridan's "Shoot It:  A Product Photography Primer" Craftsy class and already learned a ton of great ideas for future photo shoots of my finished quitls!    

Gathering Courage to Enter my Quilts

4.  Gather the courage to enter my work in a quilt show and/or competition:  Two years in a row, I've passed on opportunities to enter my quilts in local quilt shows.  My excuses for not entering range from "my quilts aren't good enough to be accepted," or "I won't be able to capture the quilt in a photograph to include with the application" to "oops, missed that deadline!"  No more excuses in 2013!  Seeing how our guild is hosting a quilt show in April, and I am working on the Quilt Show planning committee, it would be bad to pass on entering any of my quilts for display.  And then I really hope to enter something for PIQF, even if only part of the "New Quilts of Northern California" exhibit!  And who knows...maybe other quilt show opportunities/or competitions may pop up to consider.


My growing list of WIPs, Future Projects and UFOs...

5.  Tackle my growing pile of UFOs!:  As of this morning, my count is 19 WIPs/UFOs and another 20 projects on the horizon/dream list.  So this resolution is gonna take some serious time and commitment on my part.  While I've never been officially diagnosed, I am fairly confident I've got Quilter's ADD!  I no sooner start a new quilted project, and I am already moving on to some new project seen on a blog, magazine, book, quilt show, meeting or elsewhere in my daily life!  And you just can't beat that "quilter's high" that comes with starting a new project, selecting fabrics, getting everything organized, especially since this euphophia is simply completely devoid of any stress or fear about construction, accuracy or how to quilt the darn thing!  It is at that first sign of stress or challenge, such as a major design decision or how to quilt it, that I am most tempted to jump ship to a new project.
Top Row (L to R):  Dixie Portrait, Bow Tie Mania, Curves for Cowards, Kool Kaleidoscope, One Block Wonder Coi
Middle Row:  McCalls Mystery Quilt, Bella Roma, Dresden Fans, Black and White Slash, Baby Twister, Rainbow Vs
Bottom Row:  Pansy 9-Patch, One Block Wonder Butterfly, Black Opal, Crazy Quilt, Dinosaur Slash, Run for Color

So I am determined to slow down the number of new projects started, at least until I am able to complete some of the UFOs/WIPs lurking in my studio.  And trust me, they are everywhere and almost consuming the studio!  My white board is filled with projects at various stages of completion. My design wall and fabric racks are filled with blocks or unfinished quilt tops, and even layered quilts awaiting quilting/binding.  I have plastic boxes upon plastic boxes containing all the fabrics, patterns and materials for even more projects awaiting their turn for finishing!  This resolution may require some serious soul searching as to whether I even want to complete certain project or simply donate it to philanthropy or share it with a fellow quilter (and tempt them with a new fun quilt project) where it is my hope the fabric will see the light of day and turn into a finished quilt!  Here is where my work schedule may come in handy, as it will limit the number of quilt classes I am able to attend, and ultimately lessen the number of new projects I am able to start this year!  So I am optimistic that I can redirect some of this time and energy to revisiting the WIPs/UFOs that desperately need my time and attention.  

Cheers to the exciting quilting adventures awaiting in 2013!