Sunday, February 26, 2017

February Intriguing Interleave Inductees

Yesterday I had the pleasure of welcoming six new Intriguing Interleaves Inductees at Scruffy Quilts quilt shop.  What a fun group of women...and check out those amazing Interleave designs!!

It can be a bit tricky to predict how each Interleave will turn out as everyone brings such different fabric palettes and there are different templates to use!  This time I remembered to take a picture of all their fabulous fabric choices that lead to such exciting Interleave designs...
Akiko's Beautiful Jewel Tones = Precious
Chaya's Bold Combination of Chevron Print and Solids
Mary's Lovely Collection of Hand Dyes and Cool Colored Prints
Sherry's Range of Interesting Textures:  Hearts, Flowers, Solids, Marble and Tiny Dots!
Susan Working Outside Her Comfort Zone = Exciting Color Palette!
Wanda's Light and Dark Values Really Move the Eye Around

I just loved watching everyone's Interleave quilt emerge inch by inch!!  I look forward to welcoming future Intriguing Interleave Inductees in future workshops and hope you can join the fun!

Friday, February 24, 2017

More Fun with Walking Foot WOW!

This past Sunday,  I had the pleasure of teaching my Walking Foot WOW! class with these 9 adventurous quilters up at Scruffy Quilts quilt shop!  They all came with blank canvases (aka quilt sandwiches) and were ready to stitch up some beautiful masterpieces using their walking foot.  This workshop is so much fun and provides loads of inspiration for quilters of all levels.  We had a few relatively new quilters who were initially nervous about quilting their own quilt tops...but left feeling confident to tackle quilting their new quilt tops.  There were several experienced quilters who were looking for new ideas, and left with a few new tricks to add to their quilter's toolbox.  And of course, I always get new inspiration from everyone's creative takes on each of the designs, especially the occasional mistake that yields even more exciting designs!!

And check out some of their creations...
Gorgeous Quilted Textures!!
More Lovely Quilted Textures!!
For me it is always a treat to see several familiar faces in the class.  This class was extra special in that my Australian friend Catherine was in town visiting and was able to take the class.  Last year I provided some quilting inspiration and tricks via facebook messenger and email.  These conversations helped me to recognize the potential of offering a quilting workshop that rely on using a walking foot and some of my other mark-free tricks and designs.  A few months later I developed my "Walking Foot WOW!" workshop which has been quite popular among quilt guilds!  And less than a year later, Catherine was able to participate in the very workshop that she helped to inspire!!

Following the class, I had to attend another engagement.  I returned home to see Catherine set up in my studio putting the final stitches on her spectacular 9-patch sampler.  We celebrated with a quick binding tutorial and by the end of the evening she had a quilted, bound and absolutely stunning wholecloth quilted sampler!  
Stitched and Bound Sampler by Catherine M.
A few days later, Catherine went on to start a second sampler and fill in 5 of the blocks using a variegated thread and completely different designs.  I will have to wait until she returns to Australia to complete the last 4 blocks of her second sampler but made her promise to send along pictures once done as it is off to a gorgeous start!

As I mentioned, I love seeing familiar faces, especially those who have taken other classes/workshops with me.  Christine M took my Intriguing Interleaves class in November.  She arrived early and proudly showed me her completed Interleave quilt started in my class...and even more exciting...a second quilt made after the class!!  They both look absolutely amazing and were an amazing start to an all around fun day!!
Christine M's Intriguing Interleave Quilts!
I will be back at Scruffy Quilts shop this Saturday 2/25 to teach Intriguing Interleaves.  There are still a few openings if you want to join the fun and see just how deceptively easy it is to create the illusion of curves and transparency.  As a bonus, we'll utilize the Quilt As You Go technique so you will have a nearly finished quilt!!

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Project Quilting 8.4: Bright & Breezy Butterflies

This week's Project Quilting Challenge theme was Brighter is Better:  a challenge after my own heart!!

As if a one week deadline isn't enough of a challenge, I sprinkled in a few more personal challenges this week:

Personal Challenge #1:  I had a friend from Australia arriving on Thursday, so I needed to complete the bulk of my entry before Thursday morning.  This is a significant departure from my usual mode of operation of just starting my entry on Thursday or Friday!!  So as soon as the new challenge theme was announced, I got to work brainstorming ideas and pulling fabrics.  I had lots and lots of ideas but ultimately wanted to celebrate my love of bright fabrics.  I began by pulling out some of my most colorful fabrics and prints, including rainbow prints and this fun butterfly print designed by Laurel Burch.  To help the vivid colors pop, I had to make a quick run to my local quilt store to pick up some solid black fabric.  While there, I found this fabulous print featuring small silver dots on a black background.      
Bright Butterflies
Personal Challenge #2:  I checked out the definition of bright, which also means "giving out or reflecting a lot of light; shining."  And so I thought to myself...why not incorporate some silver lamé fabric?!? What could possibly go wrong?!?  A little Shape Flex interfacing to the rescue to help tame this sometimes tricky fabric!

Personal Challenge #3:  And while we're at it, why not incorporate improvisationally pieced curves into my quilt's design?!?  I free-formed cut each set of wavy curves and then went to work piecing them together.  Magically they went together beautifully without the need for pinning and each seam laid flat without any tucks or pleats forming!!  I just kept alternating the black dotted print with either a lamé or rainbow wavy strip until it was long enough for a table runner.
Waves of Color & Light
Personal Challenge #4:  Add more bling by quilting with metallic thread!  Metallic threads can be a bit persnickety...but I had a few tricks up my sleeve:  1.  A new metallic needled, 2.  Superior Brand Metallic thread and 3.  My new Juki machine that required very little tension adjusting and yielded beautiful stitches without a single thread break.  Thanks to this miraculous feat, I completed the quilting in just one evening on the eve of my friend's arrival!!!
Metallic Threads:  Bling It On!!
I especially love how the metallic zig zag meander totally transformed the butterfly print (see the unquilted section along the top of the first image above)

I chose a skinny black & white stripe for my binding and another bright rainbow print for the quilt back.

While I am totally in love with this finished table runner...I am equally proud of the extra risks I took and how they each elevated the overall design!!  In fact, I have already picked up some more lamé fabrics and can't wait to incorporate more curves into future quilt designs!!  So warning:  there are definitely curves ahead in my future!!
"Bright & Breezy Butterflies" 36" x 18"
Online voting will begin on Sunday, February 19th (should go live by 12 noon PST).  Be sure to check out all the fabulous quilts and vote for your favorites (hint-hint:  Bright & Breezy Butterflies is entry #78)!

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Introducing My New Studio Partner

I'd like to introduce you to my new quilting partner, a Juki TL-2010Q.  This little but mighty machine was an early Christmas gift to myself.
My New Quilting Partner
I've come to the realization that 98% of my quilting involves straight stitching:  piecing, walking foot quilting and free-motion quilting.  And since I put a lot of mileage on my machine, I needed a real workhorse.  After considerable research and several test drives, I fell in love with the Juki TL-2010Q straight stitch machine.  Don't be fooled by its basic appearance.  This machine is fast (1600 stitches/minutes) and strong (as the Crafty Gemini demonstrated by sewing through 12 layers of denim without any signs of difficulty in her video review!!)  While it may not have as many bells and whistles available in some of the high end computerized machines, it has all of my essentials:  knee lift bar, needle up/down control, automatic thread trimmer (by button or using the heel of your foot on the foot pedal) and an extended table (which will come in handy for classes/retreats).  

Several different feet were included:  1/4" piecing foot with side guide, walking foot, 2 different free motion/darning feet, a standard pressing foot and a hemming foot.  I opted to purchase an open toe embroidery foot and a 1/4" piecing foot without a side guide.  I am impressed with the heavy duty construction of these feet.  The other accessory I purchased was an LED sewing machine lighting kit to enhance the lighting within the sewing area.  These kits are easily adjusted to your sewing machine's throat space, easy to install and project great light where it's needed most!

And of course, Doug put his handy skills to work as he converted a new IKEA table into a sewing table.  He cuts open a hole and builds a shelf for the sewing machine to set into the table, creating a smooth, flush surface that is perfect for quilting larger projects!  This project required the help of a few adorable assistants:  Susie Q and Panda.  Both kept watch to ensure total quality control on this project, while also making sure the contractor took a few breaks for belly rubs and pooch smooches.
Quality Control Inspectors:  Susie Q (top) and Panda (bottom)
Oh and to celebrate this new partnership, I broke in a new pair of Machingers gloves (compliments of Santa).  As you can see--the old pair was getting rather dirty and even had a small hole or two.  
Jazz Hands to Celebrate!
This new partnership is off to a strong start, as I've already completed 4 small quilts with the Juki:  Cre8 & Medit8, Luminous Lily, Citrus Twist and a new Walking Foot WOW! workshop sample to send out to quilt guilds/shops.  This mini wholecloth quilt provided me with the perfect opportunity opportunity to explore and adapt to using a new walking foot!
New Walking Foot WOW! Workshop Sample
Speaking of Walking Foot WOW!  I have a class coming up on February 19th at Scruffy Quilts quilt shop.  This is a fun class that is perfect for learning 16+ modern motifs that can be achieved using your walking foot!  There are still a few spaces open, so be sure to call and reserve your spot!

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Art After Dark: Magnets

One of my local libraries hosts a monthly, adult-only "Art After Dark" program.  Each month features a fun new crafty project:  fruit sushi, scratched mandala art, terrariums, painted wine glasses and Christmas gifts on a budget.

January's project was charms & magnets.  The library staff provided all the supplies to make these adorable charms.  Participants had the option of bringing their own images or use those provided by the staff.  I found some darling pictures of Panda (top), Susie Q (right), my mother's dog Parsley (left) and one of my quilts-Always Follow Your Heart.  In less than an hour I whipped up these four, fun and adorable magnets...
Art After Dark Magnets
Pet Projects
I had so much fun making these magnets that I ran out a day later and picked up my own supplies to continue the fun at home.

First up was making more magnets of family pets:
Top--Parsley for my mother
2nd Row-Morgan (Susie Q and Panda's morning walking buddy)
3rd-Helix for my brother
4th-Panda & Susie Q for me
Bottom-Lego Minifigure for the AFOL (Adult Fan of Legos) in my life...Doug.

With all the furkiddos done, it was time to commemorate some of my own fiber art.  Here are several images of my favorite quilts turned into magnets.
Mini Quilt Magnets
I also used a few images of my hand dyed fabrics which look like little jewels.  In fact, this set of magnets gave me the idea of purchasing some pin backs to turn them into jewelry.
Hand Dyed Beauties
I've given away several of these personalized magnets as thank you gifts to family, friends and colleagues who have supported my journey as a fiber artist.  It's been fun watching on as the magnets are chosen--as sometimes the person is immediately attracted to a particular image and in some cases, multiple images!  Soon it will be time to make some more to have on hand for future teaching engagements and get togethers!  

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Project Quilting 8.3: Citrus Twist

Lately I've been experiencing a lack of motivation or creative energy and I've noticed a direct correlation to current events.  So, I was looking forward to a new Project Quilting challenge theme to help me find my quilting mojo...

I was really excited by the announcement of this week's theme:  Tune into Texture.  The challenge encouraged us to open our eyes to textures all around us.  I had fun photographing different textures in my home, especially the kitchen...but none of them were compelling enough to create a quilt.  By Wednesday I was still in search of inspiration and shared the challenge theme with my mother who is manages the Produce department.  So she suggested fruits and vegetables.  Luckily I had a lemon tree in the backyard that served as my muse.
When Life Hands You Lemons...Take Lots of Photographs!
Later that day a member of my small quilt group brought tangerines to share...and so my muse now had a friend.  I reached out to another neighbor who had a yellow grapefruit tree and asked her for a few before learning that she also had an orange tree.  I was energized by my growing citrus collection, but it needed something more, and so I stopped by the grocery store and picked up a pink grapefruit and a lime--which added new colors and different sizes to the mix!
Slices of Color and Texture
Thursday morning was spent photographing my fruit models and studying them from every angle.  I had so much fun discovering the surface of each fruit but for me, my photoshoot got much more exciting once I started cutting into the fruits.  I just loved the interplay of lines, shapes, color and texture!!  Each slice was beautiful on its own or when placed near other slices.  As I was taking this picture, I suddenly remembered a fabric that has been in my stash for 10+ years!!
Art Imitating Life
As I was editing my pictures, I would sketch a few designs into my journal.  Some doodles would make for wonderful background quilting designs (top of the page).  Others could make for a very graphic applique designs.  As you can see from my page of doodles, I was especially inspired by the texture of the vesicles/juice sacs.  I was able to recreate this image by modifying a figure eight meander to fill in each endocarp/wedge shapes.          
Photograph It, Draw It, Thread Paint It!
While I did not have a quilt layout in mind, I couldn't delay any further and got started by stitching up a few wedge units.  I placed a layer of batting behind my solid white fabric square and used some contact paper to outline my quarter circle wedge.  From there, I free-formed the three wedge shapes and proceeded to fill them with my figure eight meander.  Once my block was completely stitched, I turned it over and trimmed away the excess batting.  Pleased with my first block, I went on to use different Aurifil 50 weight threads to stitch up two blocks (~7" square) in each color:  yellow for lemons, green for limes, orange for oranges and salmon for red grapefruits.  
Design Wall Play
As I was stitching up my blocks, I would ponder possible layout designs and take breaks to visit my different Pinterest boards for inspiration.  Above are a few of the designs that briefly intrigued me.  I then remembered spinning borders and had a few scrap strips nearby that I used first as placeholders.  The pink floral strips were soon swapped out for a citrus colored striped print that I cut out 3" strips.  I liked the stripe but a friend pointed out that they seemed to overpower my quilted blocks, and I totally agreed.  The citrus print was placed into the center and with a few partial seams, the quilt top assembly was super fast!  
A New Twist
I really liked how the curved portion of my blocks were rotated out towards the four corners of my quilt top.  Using a handy dandy large plate from the kitchen, I decided to trim my quilted top to match those curves.
Warning:  Curves Ahead!
My binding strips were cut on the bias making it easy to round out along those curved edges and adding a pop of color into my binding!!

As always, I had a lot of fun with the quilting, using white Aurifil 50 weight thread.  Twisting loop de loops were stitched into the spinnng strips.  Dense zig zag meander was used to add some zest into the background areas and helped the trapuntoed citrus wedges to really pop!  Finally, a spinning log cabin spiral is stitched into the center, representing the dizzying flurry of news reports this past week.
Details of Quilting
A fun floral print in matching colors made for a fun quilt back.
Front and Back
So when life hands you lemons...or "Orange," it can be very tempting to reach for vodka!  I opted to make a quilt instead...
"Citrus Twist" finishes 22" x 22"
Online voting will start on Sunday February 5th around 11 AM.  Be sure to check out all the amazing Texture inspired entries and vote for your favorites!  Hint-hint:  Citrus Twist is #72.