Sunday, January 31, 2016

Midnight Mystery Quilt Along for January

The Midnight Mystery Quilt Along revealed the final set of instructions for assembling our quilt tops!  The blocks assembled in December were pretty large, and made for a quick and fairly easy assembly process.  The quilt top and backing are both pieced, layered, pin basted and ready for quilting!  There are lots of possibilities for the quilting, especially with all that negative space!  I have a few preliminary ideas, but will let the quilt top speak to me and tell me how to proceed.  I just hope to have it quilted and bound in time for the March 10th Revealing Party...wish me luck!!
Midnight Mystery Quilt Along Pieced Top

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Rainbow Geode

As part of my New Year's Resolutions to be more intentional in my quilt designing process, I enrolled in Katie Pasquini Mosopust's online Color and Composition class.  Our first assignment involved us creating a color wheel from our stash!  I have several color wheel tools, but I've always wanted to create my own in fabric, so this assignment provided the perfect motivation!

I began pulling 2.5" squares from my charm bins, starting with the medium values first.  It became increasingly difficult once I moved onto finding corresponding light and dark values.  Sometimes this required that I swap out the medium values, in order to make it all work.  And on at least one occasion, I had to use the back side of the fabric in order to achieve the lightest value (although this was later swapped out thanks to a LQS visit where I filled this void in my stash--light periwinkle is now represented!!)
Color Wheel Progression to Include Light, Medium and Dark Values
Getting all 12 colors and the corresponding light, medium and dark values took the better part of the day and once I was done, my stash looked like a tornado came through!  But this was nothing to the next layer of challenge--incorporating a background of neutral browns!  For those of you that have been following my quilting adventures, you can appreciate that brown is practically banished from my studio and my quilts!  In the 150-200 quilts that I have made thus far, I have only incorporated small amounts of brown in 3-5 quilts max!!  And as a result, there were very few brown fabrics to be found in my stash.  So with much resistance and even more complaining, I begrudgingly checked out the brown section of the LQS, where I came to appreciate the range of rich brown fabrics that are available!  My appreciation grew deeper, when designing for a recent quilt challenge and after exhausting nearly every other neutral or color for my background, finally turned to my new collection of brown fabrics for an audition.  They were perfect and ultimately solved my Seasonal Fun Design dilemma!!  I've since been reminded of some wisdom imparted by several quilt instructors:  you need a little mud to help your colors sparkle and shine (I apologize for not remember the exact quote or source, but you get the point!)
Introducing Some Brown/Mud to Help My Fabrics Sparkle!
The next obstacle to overcome was how to layout my color wheel.  While I used a traditional circle when auditioning swatches, I wanted something more graphic and different for my finished piece.  I found a fabulous 6 pointed star in EQ7 that I had hoped to adapt to incorporate light, medium and dark values.  Unfortunately, I have only designed square grid quilts and blocks, and did not have the technical know how to adapt the original design to match my vision.  Luckily, Doug did!  I printed off the basic block from EQ7, added some extra pencil lines/stitching lines and Doug was able to draft up in Visio, which I then enlarged and converted into foundation templates!

The last obstacle was successfully paper piecing each unit using the 2.5" swatches with very sharp angles!  Typically when foundation piecing, I cut my fabrics considerably larger than needed to give me plenty of wiggle room, and I simply trim away as I go.  There was only 1/8" or so extra, which did not provide much margin for error, and as a result my seam ripper did make several cameo appearances as I had to figure out the perfect alignment needed for full coverage in each section!  But with practice and persistence, they were all foundation pieced and successfully assembled without any gaps!

A colorful rainbow swirly print was used for the backing, and an additional neutral brown was used for the final border and binding and some basic stitch in the ditch using Superior MonoPoly Clear and  a variegated brown Aurifil 50-weight to add some light FMQing in the border.  
Rainbow Geode, 11" Finished on Each Side
I really love how the colorful center star just sparkles amidst the brown background, especially the inner star created from all 12 light value fabrics!  I am titling this "Rainbow Geode" as it appears dull and brown from the exterior, but the center just glows and twinkles!

I can't wait to hang it in my studio, where it will serve as functional art and future reference for fabric selections/pairings!!

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Seasonal Fun

This week's Project Quilting Season 7 Challenge theme was...Seasons!  I selected leaves for my inspiration and pulled out my bin of fused fabrics.  There were several fused (and totally gorgeous) hand dyed scraps and leftovers from my workshops with Frieda Anderson and Laura Wasilowski.  They were sorted into the four seasons:  Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter.  I then cut out several strips approximately 1" wide and had fun laying them out to create an individual leaf to represent each season.
Spring Leaf has Sprung
 Once the fused fun commenced, it was fun watching each seasonal leaf emerge--along with a tornado of a mess from all the trimmings!
Four Festive Leaves Emerge From the Tornado of Fused Fun!
I auditioned several fabrics for my backgrounds, including solids/patterns in blue, gray and black, before doing the unthinkable...pulling out brown fabrics!  A recent class assignment required me to use neutral browns, which necessitated some fabric purchases, as I am not a fan of working with brown fabrics!  But once I laid them out...I was pleasantly surprised at how my fused leaves popped!  A bright, digitally printed fabric was used for the border and binding!
Doing the UnbeLEAFable--Using Brown Fabrics in My Quilt!!!
Quilted Textures Top Left to Bottom Right:  Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall

Solid Aurifil threads were used to stitch each leaf's spines and veins, while a brown variegated Aurifil thread was used to add subtle seasonal quilted texture into each background:  energetic spiky meander for the Spring, Sunny Spirals for the Summer, Swirling Spirals for the Fall and Snowflake Meander for Winter.   

An emerald green KONA solid was used for the backing, so my quilting could pop on the reverse side!

The UnbeLEAFable Whole Cloth Quilt Backing
"Seasonal ReLEAF" finished at 20"x41"
With less than 24 hours until the deadline, I am linking it up to to Persimmon Dreams Project Quilting Season 7 Page.  I encourage you to check out all the other seasonal entries made for this week's challenge, and you can vote online for your favorites starting Sunday, January 23rd through the 29th!!

Sunday, January 17, 2016

This Season's Hottest Sewing Accessories

This week, I added two new quilt-related projects and accessories to my repertoire!  

First up is sewing Infinity Scarves!  I've been admiring these scarves for some time, but always mystified by the various instructions I've seen posted online.  So I was excited to learn that two of our talented members would be leading a demonstration for our January Quilting 101.  L Wilkinson and S Frieson did a fantastic job of leading the demonstration and showing us just how easy it is to whip up these quick, easy, yet fashionable Infinity Scarves.          
Fashionable SCVQA Members Modelling Their New Infinity Scarves
I too joined the Infinity Fun, which continued as I whipped up several more at home using a fun range of fabrics and prints.  I definitely see many, many more Infinity Scarves in my future...and perhaps my family & friends future too (hint-hint!)
Infinity Scarf and Beyond!
Trio of Fabric Baskets

Next up was Quilt As You Go Fabric Baskets!  A friend tipped me off to a class being offered on making Quilt As You Go Fabric Baskets.  I eagerly reserved my spot and we met up the day before to prep and cut the fabrics needed for class (again--super eager that we each prepped to make three baskets!!).  The morning of the workshop, I woke up feeling a bit sick, but I powered through and ended up having a blast learning how to make these adorable quilted fabric baskets!!  During the 2.5 hour class, I was very close to finishing two baskets, and once home, completed my trio of adorable fabric baskets!  

These baskets are not only super quick and easy to make, but they are perfect for using scraps!!  Now that I've mastered the basket basics, I am ready to experiment with different sizes, quilting and more!!  

I've already had a special request for a Lego or Train themed fabric basket...but we won't mention any names!

Taking classes is always so much fun, as I love learning new tricks and techniques.  I just hope my family and friends will enjoy being the benefactors of these new skills!

Later this month, I am signed up for a class on zippered pouches, which should be loads of fun!!  I cannot wait!!

Monday, January 11, 2016

Double Pinwheel Block Modern Makeover: Whimsical Whirligig

Online voting is open for this month's Modern Quilts Unlimited "Everything Old is New Again Block and Quilt Challenge" with this month's theme being the Double Pinwheel.  Below is my modern makeover block:  "Whimsical Whirligig."
Whimsical Whirligig:  EQ7 and Foundation Pieced
I used the following Cotton Couture Broadcloth solids:  Limeade, Acid, Seafoam, Marine, Clay, Fog and Bright White.  In fact, I had to purchase more yardage to carry this color theme through the remaining six block challenges and the final quilt construction.

Here are all 6 of my blocks redesigned thus's exciting to see them as a collection!
All 6 of My Modern Makeovers
Hint Hint:  You can still vote online for your favorite block(s) by clicking here (facebook account is required to vote) through January 14th!

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Project Quilting Season 7 Challenge 1: Confetti

Project Quilting Season 7 kicked off this week with the first bi-weekly challenge theme:  Confetti!  We have 8 days to come up with a finished, quilted project incorporating that theme...and otherwise, the sky is the limit!

I envisioned ticker tape floating in the sky and set out to recreate this vision using slice and insert improvisational piecing.  Kona solids ranging from warm buttery yellows through eggplant purple were sorted into 7 piles to create a gradient.  3-4 blocks were pieced from each fabric pile (and on occasion pulling 1-2 fabrics from the previous pile as needed for variety).  I love getting a preview of the overall quilt by looking at the scrap bin!!
Range of warm solids set on a backdrop of a beautiful cobalt blue
Using 1" strips cut from each pile and 6.5" squares of my cobalt blue background, I went to work slicing random lines into the squares and inserting my 1" strips.  For the most part, I pieced several fabrics for each inserted strip--including more cobalt blue to create the ticker tape floating in the air illusion.  Once all the strips were pieced back into the background square, it was trimmed down to 5.5" and added to the design wall.
Ticker Tape Blocks Laid Out   **please excuse the poor lighting conditions and color distortion for the first set of blocks
I then built up the courage to use some of my hand dyed fabrics to create an upper and lower border.  A print featuring flowers in similar warm colors was used for the backing.  A variegated Superior King Tut thread was used to free motion stitch an all over Zig Zag motif that added even more energy to the quilt top.
Details of Hand Dyed Fabrics, Free Motion Quilting and Backing
When it came to naming, I turned to Doug for ideas and inspiration.  He indicated that the strips reminded him of a ribbon like pasta...fettuccine.  We combined Confetti with fettuccini for the quilt title:  "Confetticini!"   
"Confetticini" Finished at 20" x 36"
Voting will begin later today/tomorrow, so be sure to vote for your favorite Confetti quilts!!

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Exciting Update about "CREA-TV"

"CREA-TV" will be displayed at OSQE events this Spring!
After a nearly 2 month wait, I am so excited to share some awesome news:  My "CREA-TV" quilt was selected as one of 12 finalist quilts for the Be Creative! Quilt Challenge, sponsored by Quilter's Newsletter, Quiltmaker and McCalls Quilting magazine!!

You can view all the winning/finalists quilts on the Be Creative! Quilt Challenge website.  

All the quilts selected are spectacular, and I am honored to have "CREA-TV" travel to all the  Original Sewing and Quilt Expo events in 2016!

Monday, January 4, 2016

A Lustrous and Twisted Tale of Two Sister Quilts

Last January, I took home this queen-sized quilt top as part of the UFO Exchange I organized for my quilt guild.  I was especially attracted to the two prints used for the squares, and decided to cut out those squares to be used into new quilt tops.  I will admit that I felt guilty at first for cutting up another quilter's top and undoing all her hard work, but hoped I would be able to give these fabrics a new life!!  Note that the butterfly fabric squares were used for an Improv quilt that is still in progress.
UFO Exchange Quilt Top and New Fabric Squares
However, the Kaffe Paper Fans print were the perfect center for Christine Barnes' "Lustrous Squares" quilt pattern, a pattern that I've admired since she first unveiled her experiments at her Magical Fabrics, Special Effects Quilting Retreat back in June 2012.  I went to work selecting an assortment of EE Schenck Gelato ombre prints to frame each center square and assembled the blocks using Christine's directions.  I found this beautiful black and white print to use for sashing, that really makes each block pop!  I then auditioned a few fabrics for a border and after none appealed to me, I took a break from the project and moved onto others.
Lustrous Squares Blocks, Auditioning Border Fabrics and Deciding That No Borders Were Needed!!
As I was trying to wrap up a few UFOs before the new year, I pulled out this top and realized that it didn't require any borders.  So I went to work layering it and basting it for quilting.  Using a light grey Aurifil thread, I went to work outlining each fan and then adding echo swirls in the surrounding ombre frames.  Figure 8s were used for the sashing and borders.  The quilt was finished and bound just days before the new year for a last minute UFO finish!
Textured swirls, fans and figure 8's
Finished "Lustrous Shells" using Christine Barnes' Lustrous Squares quilt pattern
I had hoped to make it two finishes before the new year, as all along, I was making a second Lustrous Squares quilt with some adaptations from Christine's pattern and its older quilt sister.  I had cut enough strips of ombre prints to make two baby sized quilts, and selected these black and white batiks for the center squares.  Some planning ahead was required to balance the black and white patterns, as well as surrounding ombre frames.  Once the blocks were complete, I trimmed them each smaller and slightly off kilter, adding yet another fun twist.  A rainbow confetti print was used for the sashing, and after trying a few different prints for borders, also went with the no border option!
Twisted Sister Quilt Assembly
A jagged meandering motif was used for the surrounding ombres, adding a fun edgy texture!  Figure 8's were used for the sashing, but using some variegated rainbow colors (which did give me some tension woes at times).  While I ran out of time to finish this companion piece in 2015, it was my first finish of 2016!
Edgy Texture For This Twisted Sister Quilt
Technicolor Twist, Adapted from Christine Barnes' Lustrous Squares Pattern
I can't wait to finish the Improv step sister for these quilts using the butterfly print saved from the original UFO.  In fact, that project may be next in my UFO queue!!

Friday, January 1, 2016

Top 5 Posts from 2015

Meadow Mist Designs is hosting a Best of 2015 Linky Party to celebrate our favorite blog posts.  While I am a bit late to joining the party, here are five of my favorite blog posts from 2015:

1.  The post with the most views was "Falling In Love with Interleave Quilts."  Here I reflected on leading a demonstration on Interleave quilts with 20+ members of my guild.  Not only was I honored by being asked to lead a demonstration, but I was astounded at how many members caught the Interleave bug!!
The First Wave of Interleave Quilts from my Interleave Demo

2.  This year I participated in "A Focus Through the Prism" series of challenges.  Several of my entries were in the top 5 for total number of views, but not my favorite "Pump Up the Volume."  It was so much fun channeling my 80's childhood memories with this quilt.
My Favorite "Focus Through the Prism" challenge entry..."Pump Up the Volume" inspired by the 80s!

3.  Each year I set 5 New Year's Resolutions to help me grow as a quilter.  I had fun celebrating my progress on all 5 resolutions, as well as other quilting adventures in my "Review of Quilting in 2015" post.
2015 Finishes

4.  In "My Lil Quilting Assistant" I celebrate and cherish the many quilting adventures shared with Skippy, my quilting assistant of 12+ years.  His service and many contributions to my quilting are invaluable and I tried to capture the joy he brought to my life in this touching post.  
Skippy Performing his Quilting Assistant Duties

5.  In "My Quest for the Perfect Hoffman Challenge Entry" post, I share my quest in designing a quilt shield using this year's Hoffman Challenge fabric.  I had so much fun researching medieval heraldry designs and using the various Pomegranate Gold fabric motifs throughout.
"We Are the Knights Who Love to Quilt" setting off on its year long quest to travel with the Hoffman Challenge Exhibit
Thanks to Cheryl for hosting this fun blogging event!

2016 New Year's Quilting Resolutions

Happy New Year!!!  I am excited to kick off another fabulous year of quilting adventures, starting with my 2016 Quilting New Year's Resolutions:

1.  Use It or Lose It!
I spent the past week organizing my studio and I've uncovered a lot of beautiful fabrics, precuts, scraps, tools, rulers, books, embellishments, etc that are just waiting to be used in future projects!  I have a particular weakness for precuts and simply cannot resist purchasing charm packs, layer cakes or jellyrolls for some of the beautiful fabric collections.  And I consider my stash of hand dyed fabrics (including my own creations) to be too sacred to cut up or use.  But now that I know how to dye more (thank you 2015!!), I am ready to pull them out and start actually incorporating them into my quilts.  So it's time to stop admiring or fondling these little gems and actually use them to create treasured quilts!!
Ready to Dive Into My Collection of Precuts, Scraps and Hand Dyed Fabrics!!
2.  Incorporate more intentional design into my quilts.
Up until now, I've relied on intuition when designing new quilts.  My mentor, Terry Waldron, gifted me a wonderful design book by Gerald Brommer.  It is my goal to dedicate time each month to studying the different design principles through these books, taking photographs, studying quilts and art and examining my own work.  I am also looking to participate in some design intensive courses, and perhaps join/form a critique group with other artists.      
Texts for My Independent Study on Design Principles
3.  Put Myself Out as a Quilt Artist
Thanks to the encouragement of my family, friends and mentors, I am ready to take my quilting to the next level and project my work and myself out into the Quilting community.  I am looking forward to participating in several Quilt Challenges this year including the Hoffman Challenge, Cherrywood Challenge 2016 and several others on the horizon.  I love how each challenge pushes me to try new techniques, designs and evolve as a quilt artist.  I am also hoping to enter some of my quilts into some new Quilting Competitions this year, including Houston and Road to California.  I will continue to promote my work via my blog, facebook and Pinterest, but I'd also love to explore opportunities for printed publication?  I would also love to empower others on their quilting adventures, and hope to do another Q101 demo and perhaps start teaching others.

4.  Beat the Looming Deadlines!
While I do manage to meet most deadlines, it is often at the 11th hour!!  Oftentimes, I don't even get started on a project until a week or few weeks before the deadline, and then its pedal to the metal as I try to crank it out.  While I've been pleased with the results, I wonder if this habit leads to optimal results, let alone add extra stress and anxiety as the deadline looms.  I'd love to develop more healthy creative habits when it comes to brainstorming new ideas and designing, so I am able to be more intentional in my designs, enjoy the journey and invest more time into the application process (photography, writing Artists summaries, etc).  Now that I have a bit of a lull in my schedule, I am hoping I can get a jump start on some of the upcoming challenges!

5.  Continue Tackling UFOs!
I suspect this will be an annual resolution for me (and many of my fellow quilters!)  There are several WIPs that I am exciting to continue in 2016, but have good intentions of finishing them this year!  In past years, I have parted ways with several older UFOs that lost their appeal, but have several older UFOs that hold a special spot in my heart!  At least two of these tops are done I have intentionally postponed quilting them until my free motion skills were up to par.  Other special UFOs have been been put into "time out" due to design and/or construction issues...but are ready for their second (third or fourth) chance at completion!  
My WIPs and UFOs that are hoping to be 2016 Finishes!!
Here's to another fantastic year of quilting!  May 2016 be filled with quilting bliss for all!!