Tuesday, October 21, 2014

2014 PIQF Part 3: Shopping!!

What quilt show is complete without a few purchases here and there?!?  With over 300 vendors, there were lots and lots of temptations.
Purchases for Fun New Projects:  Patterns, Stencils, Threads and Needles!

A little Fabric therapy--including some gorgeous Cherrywood Fabric!!
Wednesday night was Preview Night at PIQF, open only to workshop attendees. It was a real treat to have entire booths to yourself for stress-free shopping.  After checking out some quilts, I made sure to set aside some time to visit the Cherrywood booth who was offering a 10% discount Wednesday night only.  I also popped by Superior Threads to load up on some fun new threads and needles.  And of course over the next few days, I picked up some fabric, books, a few patterns and stencils to get a jump start on some fun new projects for 2015.

The most exciting purchase was a new carrier case for my travelling sewing machine.  For the past 4 years, I've been managing with a simple Harbor Freight tool bag that I picked up for a bargain price of $35.  But this past year, it has been showing some signs of wear and tear and I was afraid my machine wasn't as safe stowed inside.  So it was time to upgrade and I had been checking out the Tutto bags for some time now.  So I picked up a travelling bag for my machine as well as a matching bag to transport my projects, fabric, tools etc to my classes and workshops.  I had so much fun loading the Brother machine into its bright teal Tutto bag and discovering all the fun features and storage pockets.  I can't wait to arrive in style (and have everything well-organized) for my next workshop!

Home Sweet Home for my Brother Sewing Machine

Monday, October 20, 2014

2014 PIQF Part 2: Workshops, Lectures and Fashion Shows

While I love seeing all the quilts on display at PIQF, I also enjoy having the opportunity to attend workshops, lectures and events with world-renowned quilt artists and teachers.  In past years, I have taken workshops with Jennie Rayment, Esterita Austin, Frieda Anderson, Marjan Kluepfel and this year I lucked out big time and took 2 workshops with Gloria Loughman!!!  Her workshops filled up within days of registration going live, so I knew I was in for a real treat!!  I also set aside some time in my schedule to attend some evening lectures and the Fashion Show--both PIQF firsts for me.

Thursday Full-Day Workshop:  Light Up Your Landscape 
This workshop focused on Gloria's fused tiling technique for creating spectacular landscapes, as featured in her "Radiant Landscapes" book.  I was the first student to arrive as I was excited about the day ahead.  As I settled into my work space, I noticed a beautiful assortment of hand-dyed fabrics she brought from her Australian studio which were available for purchase.  As fellow students started to arrive, they started to peruse the folded fabrics, which once you started to open them up to the full width of fabric got even more spectacular!!  One student picked up and opened an absolutely gorgeous fabric that gradated from a rich orange, to magenta, purple and then a lovely rich teal--the colors of the sunset images I brought for inspiration.  My heart leaped for joy when the student started to fold it up and returned it to the table.  I quickly raced up to the table and picked it up to use with my project.  In fact, despite pulling a large assortment of fabrics from my own stash, I ended up only using two pieces:  a Kona solid for the quilt back, and another striped batik for the backdrop to the tiles I would fuse and cut from her hand dyed piece.  Another student next to me found another fabulous and colorful piece, which she too returned part way through class, which I then went up and retrieved to add to my collection for use on a future project--quite possibly another tiled landscape piece.
My tiled sunset backdrop created using Gloria's technique and gorgeous fabrics

Gloria quickly proved to be an amazing instructor and began class with admitting that this class is usually taught in a 2 to 5 day format.  She assured us we would still get all the information, while helping to set a realistic expectation that we would not be finishing the entire piece in class.  But she reassured us that we would have all the technique and information provided in her detailed handouts, to complete our pieces outside of class.  She got us started with some basic design principles and color theory and had lots of terrific class samples on hand.  She would do some brief lectures and then set us free to work on our individual designs, while moving around the classroom to individually connect with each of the students and answering questions/concerns.  It was a great opportunity to run our design visions and fabric selections past her and get her feedback/suggestions when we were stuck.  While I do not want to reveal the plans for the foreground of my intended design, I can share a picture of the tiled background that I designed, laid out, fused and started to quilt in class.  Before the end of class, I met with Gloria and got some invaluable design and fabric selection input from Gloria to complete the foreground element of my design, and I can't wait to start that element of my design!  And it was so interesting to see the other students' pieces--some using squares, larger rectangles, etc to create all different types of radiant skies.

Thursday Evening Lecture:  Share the Journey
Thursday afternoon, Gloria presented her lecture and trunk show entitled "Share the Journey."  During this hour, she took us on a virtual tour of her Australian studio and outback backdrop that fuels her with loads of design inspiration.  She also shared stories of her adventures travelling the world as a quilt instructor.  Throughout her presentation, she included visuals of her work space, dye process, travels and journey as a quilter.  Last but not least, she treated us to a mini trunk show featuring several of her quilts.  It was the perfect ending to a perfect day.

Friday Full-Day Workshop:  Playing on the Surface
A preview of my quilt design and color scheme
Friday was another round with Gloria, and she promised the group of students that took her Wednesday workshop that Thursday would be all new techniques and information--and she delivered on that promise.  This workshop got us started on creating a more abstract quilt using techniques from her "Quilted Symphony" book.  While she did provide another brief review of design and color theory concepts, she had an all new collection of class samples to drive those points home.  Throughout the day, she presented so many design ideas and techniques, that my head was just spinning with ideas.  Being Day 3 for me I was running a bit low on energy, so it was a lot of information and inspiration to take in.  Rather than race through to create a ho-hum quilt in class, I decided to spend the in-class time to develop my design and do some preparations, but would do the bulk of construction once I returned to the comfort of my studio.  So unfortunately, I do not have as much to show for my workshop progress, but I have the perfect quilt on paper and in my head!!  This time around, I did use a larger selection of the fabrics I brought from my stash using the complementary color scheme of red-violet and lime green fabrics, supplemented of course with 2 more pieces of Gloria's gorgeous hand dyed fabrics!!  I can't wait to start implementing some of her design techniques in bold magenta colors with lime green accents, into my seven abstract and flowing quilt segments!!

Friday Evening Lecture:  My Desert Experience with Caroline Sharkey
Caroline Sharkey was a fellow Australian quilter/instructor who had popped into our workshops to say hello.  So when I had a gap in my schedule that coincided with her lecture entitled "My Desert Experience," I signed up with minutes to spare.  Again, I was transported to exotic Australian desert landscapes that inspired many of her quilt designs and learned of her technique where she cuts up her fabric into tiny bits that are then laid out and heavily quilted to create her quilt designs.  Again, she incorporated many photos of her quilts as well as brought a large selection of her quilts that were were invited to come up to admire up close.

Friday Evening:  Artistic Expressions in Wearable Art Fashion Show
One of my fellow guild members and friends, Tiffany, volunteered to be a model in the Fashion Show, so I purchased a ticket to cheer her on as she worked the runway.  While I am not ready to cross over to quilted fashion design, I am so glad I attended, as the garments were quite stunning and it was so interesting to hear the artists share their inspiration, motivation and intentions for their piece.  While each piece that came out was truly a work of art, Tiffany proved to be the star of the evening as she was totally in her element as she rocked the runway!!
Tiffany Rocking the Runway in this Mermaid Ensemble



Sunday, October 19, 2014

2014 PIQF Part 1: My Quilts

I've been counting down the days until Pacific International Quilt Festival (PIQF) opened at the Santa Clara Convention Center...and 5 busy, quilt-filled days later, it is over and I must wait until October 2015 for the next PIQF show.  Luckily I have many fond memories of this year's PIQF show to findly remember.

Believe it or not, it was less than 5 years ago that I first moved to the San Jose area and one of Doug's colleagues recommended he take me after learning I was a quilter.  I had attended a few local quilt shows back in New York but I was totally unprepared for the caliber of quilts I would discover that first year at the 2010 PIQF.  Seeing all those awe-inspiring quilts just made me cringe over my own quilts and I was totally at a loss as to how these quilts were even constructed.  My confidence as a quilter was totally shattered but fortunately, not for long.  Soon thereafter, I joined SCVQA, signed up for workshops with visiting artists as well as take classes at local quilt shops.  As I added more tools and techniques to my quilting repertoire, I would return each year to PIQF and started to recognize some of the techniques used in the amazing quilts on display and as well as some of the well-known quilters, and started to gain confidence about my own quilting and the ability to recreate some of the designs/techniques on display.

 Fluttering & Voluptuous Vortex and I
Fast forward 5 years and I am proud to share that I had 2 quilts accepted into the 2015 PIQF show!!  "Panda-monium" was accepted both into the PIQF "The Whole Nine Yards" Quilt Competition, as well as New Quilts of Northern California special exhibit.  And my "Fluttering & Voluptuous Vortex" was also accepted into the PIQF Quilt Competition!  It was pretty cool seeing them on display among the 800+ other quilts hanging throughout the Convention Center!!  Doug came by on Saturday to see them and take pictures of me with my quilts on display!!

Fluttering & Voluptuous Vortex was on display with several other SCVQA members' wall quilts--and just a few yards away from the SCVQA booth where we were selling tickets to our opportunity quilts and a featherweight machine.  So it was pretty cool to see it hanging and watching attendees check it out while staffing our booth.

Me and Panda-monium

Fellow guild members mentioned that white glove volunteers were often called over to my Panda-monium quilt for attendees to see the reverse side of my quilt where the quilting and more colorful buttons reveal another layer of interest to this quilt.  I just got back the judges' comments and they commented that it was "a charming piece," "border quilting enhances the quilt," and it reminded them "of what Andy Warhol would have made if he made a quilt (and had a dog)."  All in all, very positive reviews and gave me renewed confidence with my design and quilting skills.

So, I have an entire year to start planning, designing and constructing next year's PIQF entries!  Wish me luck!!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Quilting with Alex Part 2

This past weekend, we invited Alex* for her first quilt show and mini quilt shop hop.  She enthusiastically accepted and arrived with her little sewing kit complete with some show and tell to kick start our day.  She created this fun and colorful, fused quilt on her own.  She was so proud to show it off and had a huge smile ear to ear when pulling it out.  She is eager to create some more fused projects as holiday gifts for friends and family!

Our quilt association will be having our bi-annual quilt show in March and will have a youth entry category.  I asked Alex if she might be interested in working on a quilt together to enter into our March show and she was super excited to work towards that goal.

Once show and tell was done, we were off to Alden Lane Nursery for Quilting in the Garden (a beautiful backdrop for a fabulous quilt show) for some quilty inspiration for her quilt entry.  When we first arrived, I asked her to point out quilts that caught her attention and try to decide what it was about those quilts that attracted her attention:  design, colorway, fabrics, pattern, etc.  She was very interested in each of the quilts and was in charge of the quilt show program to help determine who created each of the quilts.

Alex laying out her ice cream cone design
One of the local quilt guilds hosted a family friendly fusible project.  Quilt show attendees were invited to select a design and received a packet of fused shapes that would create the selected pattern.  Alex was quickly drawn to the ice cream cone design and went to work selecting a sparkly pink background and knew exactly what to do to remove the paper backing and how to layer and press the shapes to create her fused block.
Alex and her finished fused block


At our first quilt lesson, I had her select a pen name for blog posts, and I was impressed when she chose the name Alex, since Alex Anderson has been one of my quilting icons, especially as I was first learning how to quilt.  So before leaving the house, I pulled out one of Alex Anderson's books and let Alex know that her name sake would be at the quilt show and she might have the opportunity to meet her.  We made sure to stop by Alex Anderson's booth and had Alex select a book to be signed by Alex Anderson.  Alex Anderson was so fabulous and even posed with our Alex and her newly signed book.  Alex Anderson even commented how great it was to have enthusiastic young people pursue quilting!!
Alex meet and greet with Alex Anderson and her newly signed quilt book
Alex's Fabric Stash Additions
And what quilt show day isn't complete without purchasing some fun new fabrics?  So we took Alex on her first mini quilt shop hop to visit Wooden Gate Quilts and The Cotton Patch, where she was able to select 4 fabrics at each shop to add to her stash and be used in a future quilt.  She had a blast selecting bolts of fabric and selected some fun patterns, including a few ombres!!  She later admitted that the fabric shopping was the favorite part of the day!  Ahhhh...a true quilter at heart!!  

Alex and her completed quilt top!!

And at the second shop, she spotted a fun border fabric featuring ice cream cones--perfect for framing her new fused block from the quilt show!  So once we completed our quilt shop hop, we asked her if she might like to come over to work on her mini ice cream cone quilt to which she eagerly accepted.  So we went to work learning how to satin stitch the fused shapes--and she quickly learned how to load the thread onto the sewing machine and thread the needle.  She did a great job stitching the cone and the layers of ice cream and I helped by finishing the one scoop and cherry on top.  From there, we laid out the borders and she went to work stitching on each of the borders and learned how to carefully press them for a flat finish!

Now that we have a finished quilt top, we will have to learn how to layer a quilt sandwich, quilt and finish a quilt!  Sew, stay tuned for more quilting fun with Alex!!