Wednesday, November 30, 2016

2017 Michael Miller Fabric Challenge: Lime Light, Star Bright

Over this past summer, I jumped at the chance to sign up for the 2017 Michael Miller Fabric Challenge for QuiltCon2017.  Michael Miller provided limited quantities of Luxe fabric challenge bundles that included one print and one solid (each measuring 18"x36").  Colors and combinations were randomly distributed, so you had to wait to see which fabrics you received before planning.  I was pretty excited to get both the midnight tumbling blocks print and matching midnight solid.  While we were welcome to use as many of the Luxe collection fabrics in our designs, we were limited to add only one coordinating solid (backing and binding could be any Michael Miller print or solid).  

I wanted to create a modern mandala design but wasn't 100% confident in my construction plan, so I opted to play it safe and do a mock up using fabrics from my stash.  After completing the "Hot Pink Prototype,"  I made a few notes to fine-tune the design/process and was now ready to dive into the challenge bundle.  For my coordinating solid selection, I decided to go bold and purchased two yards of Michael Miller's Cotton Couture in Lime.  

This project was at the top of my list for our guild's Fall In-Town Retreat.  I quietly began working on my modern mandala as my fellow guild members watched with curiosity.  As my mandala started to bloom and grow, they became more and more interested in its progress.  As I neared the finish line, I started to run very low on the challenge fabrics, and worried that I would not have enough to complete my mandala design.  I was very careful and thankfully managed to have just enough fabric (with just an inch or two remaining!!)  

Towards the end of Day 2, my mandala design was completely pieced and assembled, resulting in an exploding star.  The tumbling blocks print adds such sparkle to this starry design!!     
Modern Mandala Quilt Top
When it came time to transform my quilt top with quilted texture, I did lots of doodling--I mean auditioning!  I placed a sheet of acrylic plastic over various sections of the quilt and used my white board dry erase marker to explore various free motion quilted motifs.  I used a matching Aurifil 50 weight thread to stitch different combinations of loop de loops and straight lines into each ring of the mandala.
Design Doodles
As you can see in the detail shot below...I had a lot of fun with the quilting!!
Detail of Quilting
Starry Explosion
I love the repetitive nature of mandala designs:  very meditative.  I simply started towards the center and worked my way around each level of the mandala stitching the same motif eight times before moving out to the next level.  Most of the quilting was completed in just one day with just the corners and center star left to tackle the next day.

I opted to purchase more of the tumbling blocks print to use in the binding.  I found a modern zig zag print in white and navy blue for my quilt back.

"Star light, star bright,
The first star I see tonight;
I wish I may, I wish I might,
Have the wish I wish tonight."

And now I will have to wait a few weeks to see if my wish comes true:  for my modern mandala to get juried into QuiltCon East!
"Lime Light, Star Bright" finishes 31" x 31"

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Teaching and Thanksgiving

Last Tuesday, I had the pleasure of sharing my adventures in quilt challenges with the Silicon Valley Modern Quilt Guild.  For being a fairly new quilt guild, they are an active group!

It was nice to see some familiar faces in the audience.  I knew Joy from other quilt associations, and she graciously took lots of pictures during my presentation (and her husband John helped process them for my use--many thanks!!).  My friend Sarah brought her two kiddos, ages 4 and 6, who are budding quilt artists.  Her daughter was very excited when she recognized a rainbow print used on several of my quilts from one of her first quilts!!  She certainly has fantastic taste in fabric!  And since the meeting was only 10 minutes from home, I was able to entice Doug to come along.  And while he has seen much of the components of my lecture/trunk show in development, this is the first time he got to see the finished presentation.  He was an awesome roadie as he expertly helped navigate the high tech AV system, as well as help hold up some of my larger quilts.
Challenge Yourself! Trunk Show
It is hard to believe, but this concludes my 2016 teaching tour.  During this time of thanksgiving, I am so thankful to have the opportunity to share my passion for quilting with others.  I'd like to thank all those who have supported me on this journey:
  • My super supportive partner--Doug
  • My family, friends & fellow guild members who have encouraged me on this new adventure
  • My quilting mentors & teachers who have guided me along the way
  • Quilt guild volunteers and quilt shop owners who have welcomed me into their communities
I have a busy month ahead finishing up some quilt challenges, wrapping up my 2016 New Year's Resolutions and getting ready for 2017.  So stay tuned for more updates and adventures ahead!!

Monday, November 21, 2016

Introducing the Latest Intriguing Interleave Inductees

Allow me to introduce the latest batch of Intriguing Interleaves Inductees!!
November 2016 Intriguing Interleave Inductees
This past Sunday, I had the pleasure of teaching "Intriguing Interleaves" at Scruffy Quilts Quilt Shop in San Mateo, CA.  As always, it is so nice to see a few familiar faces from past workshops and my quilt guild, as well as meet new quilting comrades.  We had a big range of quilting palettes including batiks, latte inspired prints, solids, hand dyed fabrics, bright prints and some really exciting combinations of colors and textures!!  
I just love watching on as everyone's Interleave transparency and curved designs emerge one strip at a time.  The pattern can be a bit tricky to recognize at first, especially when you are so near and dear to the project.  So every once in a while I would hold their quilts and step back a few feet so they could see their fabulous Interleaves take form.  They especially pop when photographed!!     

As you can see below, everyone made spectacular progress.  Everyone surpassed the halfway point on their designs.  Two even managed to finish the piecing entirely!  And because we use a quilt as you go technique, all that is left is to label and bind (and one of the speed demons got a jump start on adding their binding!!)  
In Progress Interleaves that are Well On their Way to Completion!!
I've already warned these new inductees that Interleave quilts can be addicting, and can't wait to see their finished quilts (and future quilts!!)

I am looking forward to adding new Interleave Inductees in 2018!!!  If you are intrigued by these quilts, I plan on scheduling another Intriguing Interleaves class in February (hint-hint).  I will be sure to post on my teaching calendar so you too can join the fun!!

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Mea Culpa

"Spinning Stars", 72" x 72"
I've been so excited to finish and reveal my "Spinning Stars" quilt entry for Modern Quilts Unlimited "Everything Old is New Again" quilt challenge.  This has been a labor of love for the past year and a half.  I proudly posted the individual block challenges on my blog, as well as the final reveal and request for votes via my blog and facebook pages.  This past week, "Spinng Stars" made its public debut as part of my "Challenge Yourself!" lecture/trunk show with two different quilt guilds.  And just yesterday, I brought it to my small quilt group for them to ooh and ahh over.
And today, I learned that my "Spinning Stars" quilt exceeds the size limit per the challenge rules!   Somehow I totally overlooked the challenge rule that "quilt sizes should not exceed 60" on any side" as mine finishes 72" x 72".  Well, my heart just sank and you can probably imagine the range of emotions I experienced upon this little discovery:  dumbfounded, sadness, guilt, disappointment, embarrassment and anger, mostly directed at myself for not taking the time to double and triple-check the challenge rules.  

As part of my "Challenge Yourself!" lecture, I reinforce the importance of reading the challenge rules, and here I am not heeding my own advice!  While I would like to say that at least I did not intentionally make my quilt larger, I am pretty embarrassed with myself for not double and triple- checking the rules designing the layout, piecing, quilting or binding my quilt!!    
Gotta walk the walk, not just talk the talk!

Within minutes of discovering my error, I emailed the MQU magazine editor informing her of my mistake and asking for direction as to how best to proceed.  As I await her response, I have done considerable reflection on my unfortunate situation.  It is certainly a painful lesson to learn, but on a positive note, I am trailing far behind in votes for my the odds of winning were certainly not in my favor.  

Another positive note is that I now have one more quilt challenge misadventure to share as part of my "Challenge Yourself!" lecture/trunk show with hopes that others may learn from my mistake and not have to experience such disappointment.  

Last but not least, I hope this will not be the end all, be all for "Spinning Stars."  Given how much time and energy I've invested in this beauty, I had planned on entering it into national juried quilt shows and competitions where it will have the opportunity to be judged in person based on its design and techniques used.  And yes, I will be sure to double and triple check the quilt show entry rules before entering my quilt!!!   ;-)

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Everything Old is New Again Finale: Spinning Stars

It's hard to believe that the Modern Quilts Unlimited "Everything Old is New Again" challenge series is wrapping up this month.  Since August 2015, I, along with several other fearless quilters, have been participating in the monthly block challenges of adding our own modern twist to traditional quilt blocks using Michael Miller fabrics.  It's been a lot of fun following the monthly challenges and seeing everyone's unique adaptation of these classic blocks:  flying geese, snail's trail, bow tie, rail fence and more!

And now we come to the final challenge of combining all 12 of our blocks into a finished quilt.  Luckily we were given 4 months to complete this final phase of the challenge series!!  I did a few design mock ups in Electric Quilt 7 before arriving at this spinning design below.        
From Blocks to Mock Up
With a design in mind, the piecing went fairly quickly!  When I first began this challenge series, I purchased several prints along with matching solids from the Cotton Couture collection.  I incorporated a few swatches of the chevron print into two of the blocks as well as the spinning borders, but I never used any of the coordinating circle/bubble print into my blocks or quilt top.  It made for a lovely backing piece which was filled in with some remaining yardage of coordinating solids.
Quilt Back
And soon it was time to incorporate some beautiful, modern quilted texture.  I gathered a collection of matching Aurifil 50-weight threads and tackled one color each day, filling in the various designs with loop de loops, pebbles, c-curves and echoed lines.  I didn't have a master plan for the quilting but improvised as I went from block to block.  Some blocks immediately inspired a quilting design and so I would start there and skip those blocks that did not immediately speak to me.  I often find the free motion quilting process to be very meditative.  So as I would quilt one block, it would spark ideas and inspiration for the other more elusive blocks.  
Transforming My Blocks with Quilted Textures
All 12 Blocks Quilted
Day by day, my blocks were filling in with quilted texture and it was time to tackle the spinning borders, especially that massive marine background areas!!  Unfortunately I started to experience some glitches with frequent skipped stitches.  After doing my usual trouble shooting of changing needles, reloading the top thread and bobbins, I sent my machine off to the technician.  They called me back later that day and suggested that I switch from Topstitch to Microtex needles.  They worked a bit better, but still left me with a few skipped stitches here and there.  Finally I switched to a different color spool of Aurifil thread and had smooth sailing ahead!!  So two of the quadrants are stitched in a darker thread and the other two are in a slightly lighter thread...which I will deem a design opportunity as it adds interest to my quilt!!
Gotta Love All That Texture!!
Despite these technical glitches, I still managed to finish the quilting and binding a full week ahead of the 11/15 deadline!!  In fact, it made its public debut during my "Challenge Yourself" lecture/trunk show at the 11/8 Mt. Tam Quilt Guild meeting!!

I am so proud of this quilt and have greatly enjoyed the year and a half journey of creating it!!  I hope you will consider casting your vote for it to win the finished quilt grand prize package that includes:  a new BabyLock Lyric sewing machine, Michael Miller 1/2 yard fabric bundles for 12 months, Superior Threads certificate, Mountain Mist batting certificate, Modern Quilts Unlimited Gift Basket with a grand Total Prize valued over $4,000!!  Online voting will continue through November 30th and requires a Facebook account.

Please share with family & friends and remember that every vote counts!!  
"Spinning Stars," Finished Size 72" x 72"

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

More Slice of Improv Fun

This weekend was jam-packed with quilting goodness and teaching engagements!  On Sunday, I taught "Slice of Improv" at Scruffy Quilts quilt shop.  I was delighted to arrive and find some familiar faces from both recent classes and my local quilt guild had signed up!!  

I typically kick off this workshop gauging everyone's impression of improvisational piecing.  Common responses indicate some initial sense of fear and trepidation.  My goal is to introduce them to the Slice and Insert technique and replace any Fear with some other F-words:  Freeing, Forgiving and FUN!!!

This technique is a great way to use up fabric scraps and "schnibbles."  Everyone arrived with a fun assortment of scraps:  batiks, prints, novelty, solids and even some luscious hand dyes.  We warmed up with a few basic slice and insert blocks before diving into simple variations that lead to exciting design opportunities.  It was such fun to see everyone experiment with the different techniques and variations to create some really exciting block designs.  Their once orderly/contained fabric scraps soon exploded over and across their tables and beautiful blocks started to emerge!!  They embraced design challenges including intersections, curves, wedges along with stack/slice/shuffle and insert blocks while throwing a few challenges my way (challenge accepted!!)

Judging by the pictures below...I believe these quilters have embraced improvisational piecing and found it to be freeing, forgiving and FUN!!  I cannot wait to see how each of their blocks and projects progress (hint-hint:  pictures please!)
Clockwise starting with top left:  Susan, Kay, Jacquelyn (blocks) and Elaine.
I will be heading back to Scruffy Quilts on Sunday, November 20th to teach Intriguing Interleaves.  This is a super fun class where we'll create the illusion of curves and transparency all with straight line sewing.  Best of all is these quilts use quilt as you go technique, so all that will be left to do is to label and bind your quilt!!  There have been quite a few sign ups, but there are still a few openings if you'd like to join the fun (hint-hint).

Monday, November 14, 2016

Walking Foot WOW! with Bay Area Modern Quilters

Happy Quilting Reveals
Look at all those smiling, happy faces from this Saturday's Walking Foot WOW! workshop with Bay Area Modern Quilt Group.  What a fabulous group of quilters who were all eager to learn new quilting designs that can be stitched using a walking foot.  And check out all that glorious and modern quilted texture that is just as beautiful to admire as well as to touch!!  

Fun was had by all throughout the day as these quilters reached for their trusted rolls of blue painter's tape (along with a few other design tools) and stitched out beautiful stars, spider webs, starbursts and spirals!!  There were rays, chevrons, matchsticks and grids galore!!  
Happy Quilters in Progress
This is such a fun class to teach as no two samplers, let alone blocks look alike!!  During the practice time, each student chooses their favorite designs to fill in one or more blocks on their 9-patch sampler quilt.  I love watching everyone's sampler transform as each block is stitched in with different quilted textures and designs!!
9-Patches Transformed through Quilted Texture!
I was seriously impressed with how many blocks these quilters managed to stitch in just 1 day!!  Several students moved onto their second sandwich, and several more were very close to finishing their first sampler! 

And then I just love watching students take the basic designs and add their own fun twists to create even more exciting designs and textures!!  Students explored using different decorative stitches and combinations of stitches, stitching bowties instead of a full sunburst and so much more!!  
Design Variations
At the end of the day, we did a little show and tell with each participant sharing their favorite design and/or highlighting their unique variations.  There were definitely some all-around favorite designs but oh the possibilities!!

I received a fun email the very next morning from Susan, who returned home after class and finished stitching the last of her blocks, sharing that she "couldn't go to sleep last night until the project was complete."  She included a picture of her finished stitched sampler (on the right) which was both absolutely gorgeous and now beautifully bound!!  I especially love how Susan incorporated so many different textures into her center block surrounding her heart.  
Susan's Evening Progress Resulting in a Stunning Finished Sampler!!
These stitched samplers are absolutely gorgeous wholecloth quilts and would make a lovely, yet functional artwork for any quilt studio.  Several students mentioned the possibility of turning their samplers into quilted pillows, totebags and more!  I cannot wait to see more pictures from this group of both their finished samplers and how they apply these designs to their quilt tops (hint hint!!)

I hope you can join me for a future Walking Foot WOW!  workshop.  I have several more Walking Foot WOW! workshops already scheduled for 2017 and more on the horizon!  Be sure to check out my teaching calendar and/or follow me via facebook.  

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Election Day Festivities

I Voted...early!!
This past Tuesday was Election Day.   Since I was able to vote early, I elected to celebrate Election Day by visiting the Mt. Tam Quilt Guild to present my "Challenge Yourself!" lecture/trunk show.

I was warned about traffic conditions en route, so I left early to beat the traffic and make time for a few detour destinations!!  My first pit stop was New Pieces quilt shop in Berkeley, CA.  There I observed a large tour bus parked outside and braced myself for the possibility of competing with a quilt shop hop tour.  Well, my instincts were correct and the bus was transporting a large group of quilters from Australia who were trekking all over the United States visiting the Houston Quilt Festival, quilt shops and museums along the way.  Fortunately, I arrived just as the last few Aussies were heading off to lunch and so I had the store mostly to myself!  New Pieces carries a fabulous selection of fabrics including an impressive array of ombres.  In fact, I was excited to discover a few new ombres that I just had to add to my growing ombre stash.
Good Ombres!!
I also found some other fun finds...including some brown prints!!
So many wonderful hard to I chose them all!!
My next stop was my first visit to the Dharma Trading Company store which was in the same city as the quilt guild meeting.  I just love the amazing selection that Dharma offers via their website and catalog, and their equally exceptional customer service.  Typically if I place my order by 11 AM, it is processed that afternoon and sent out for delivery...and arrives at my door the very next day!!  Mostly I have ordered fabrics, dyes and supplies...but they carry a large selection of prepared for dye clothing and accessories.  So I took this opportunity to try on some of their apparel and pick up my order of Pimatex PFD and some new dye colors:  grape, eggplant and fire red!  
Rocking the PFD White in Honor of Suffragettes
Afterwards, I did a bit more shopping and ate dinner before arriving early to the meeting venue, which is a small church perched at the top of a large hill.  I arrived just as the sun was setting and greatly enjoyed the panoramic views.  At one point I looked out at the parking lot and even saw a deer walking past!
Red, White, Blue and Beautiful!!
Just as the sun finished setting, it was time for the Mt. Tam quilt guild meeting to commence.  Before the meeting was a flurry of activity and excitement, as members shopped at their boutique and library, picked up outreach quilt kits, dropped off blocks and signed up for workshops.  They begin their meetings with the presenter, so I was up first.  The timing of my "Challenge Yourself!" lecture was perfect as they have an Architecture inspired quilt challenge due in December.  Several members thanked me for providing motivation and inspiration for them to finish their entries before their next meeting, which just made my night!!  Equally awesome was the number of members that signed up for my Walking Foot WOW! workshop following my presentation (class spots filled and a wait list started!!)  

Many thanks to the entire Mt. Tam quilt guild for welcoming me into their community.  I had a lot of fun and look forward to returning in late January!!

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Quilt in Houston

Guess who has a quilt on display at Houston International Quilt Festival?!?  Me!!  Turns out my "Butterfly Boxed Sets" is there as part of the 2016 Hoffman Challenge quilts exhibit.  
"Butterfly Boxed Sets" at Houston International Quilt Festival
It was juried into the Hoffman travelling exhibit and will travel with the other Trunk A quilts in the upcoming year to visit quilt shows/meetings in  Colorado, Pennsylvania, Texas, Massachusetts, Washington, California and finally to the AQS quilt shows in Grand Rapids, Paducah and DesMoines!!  I am excited to live vicariously through its travel adventures!  If you see it on display, please take a picture and send me an email!!

Many thanks to my friend Sue, who captured the picture above on display in Houston.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Meadow Mystery Quilt Along 2016: Flying Geese and Square in a Square Units

November Units Complete!
November's instructions for the Meadow Mystery Quilt Along came out just this morning and I've already finished this month's piecing!!  We pieced 16 flying geese units and 16 Square in a Square units...easy peasy!!  Now I just have to wait an entire month until December's instructions are revealed!!