Wednesday, March 29, 2017

CYMK Interleave

My Intriguing Interleaves quilting workshop has received a number of teaching invitations which is exciting.  In preparation, I've shipped out four of my Interleave quilt samples to help promote workshop sign ups.  So it is time to whip up a brand new Intriguing Interleave quilt!!

For this quilt, I chose high contrast in CYMK colors:  Cyan, Yellow, Magenta and 3 different values of Black.  All the colors are a tone on tone grid/cross hatch patterned print, whereas the black and white prints are all small dots.
CYMK Fabrics and Pattern
I always have to remind quilters in my workshops that the hardest part of these quilts is usually waiting for the design to emerge.  With these high contrast colors/prints, the design really pops!!

As I was adding my black and white strip binding, I noticed that the orientation of the quilt really led my eyes to recognize different patterns and shapes. I prefer the horizontal or vertical orientation?
Which Orientation Do You Find More Intriguing?:  Horizontal (left) or Vertical (right)
Unable to decide, I placed it on a wonky angle and took a few more pics.  Years ago we tackled a volunteer painting project in the backyard using yellow and turquoise paint.  I love how the paint splotches on the concrete match perfectly to create a fun backdrop for my new CYMK Interleave quilt!!
"CYMK Interleave," 17"x17"
I hope you can join the fun!  Be sure to check out my teaching calendar for upcoming workshops and lectures near you!!

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Post Rain Pretties

We've been having record precipitation here in Northern California.  While it has dampened some of our morning/evening walks, I know that this rain is so desperately needed.  Today we got out for our morning walk and were treated to some spectacular sights, that made me even more appreciative for the recent rainfall...enjoy!
"If you want the rainbow, you have to put up with the rain."-Dolly Parton
"Let the rain kiss you.  Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops.  Let the rain sing you a lullaby."  -Langson Hughes
"I'm singing in the rain, just singing in the rain; What a wonderful feeling, I'm happy again."-Arthur Freed

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Sierra Gold Quilters Guild Visit

Last week I had the pleasure of visiting the Sierra Gold Quilters Guild to present my Challenge Yourself! lecture followed by a Walking Foot WOW! workshop.  What an absolutely lovely group of quilters!  I was extremely impressed by the energy of their guild meetings and activities.  They sure do pack a lot of quilting education, service and FUN into their meetings!!
New Walking Foot Wonders!
This energy and sense of FUN was especially evident in Walking Foot WOW! workshop as their members tackled the different designs that can be accomplished with a walking foot!  They sure did pack a lot of quilted texture into this compact workshop!!

Other trip highlights view along the drive

  • An absolutely beautiful scenic drive along northern California complete with some fun music tunes making for a very fun road trip.  
  • Some fabric retail therapy at Quilter's Hollow in Stockton, CA!  They carry a fabulous selection of fabrics, including Riley Blake solids that I need for an upcoming quilt challenge!  
  • Delicious foods both served by my fabulous host Pat, as well as out and about the Pine Grove area.  I had the most amazing hot crab melt at The Blue Moon Cafe  as well as some yummy pizza at the local pizza shop (which is high praise from this New York native!!)
  • And a lovely host family, Pat & Don, who showed me around Pine Grove and neighboring towns, while also providing some lively entertainment including this absolutely stunning vista out their backyard!!

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Project Quilting 8.6: Turn! Turn! Turn!

A Time to Sketch!
Project Quilting Season 8 is rapidly coming to a close.  This season's final challenge theme is "Time is Up."  How appropriate given this this week coincides wtih daylight savings, end of this season's series of challenges and I was away teaching for the first half of the week.  Luckily, our guild's quilting retreat is also this weekend meaning 3 days of uninterrupted quilting time!!!

As I was home packing and preparing for the retreat, I did a quick sketch and grabbed a variety of prints/solids, hoping to further tease out my design during the retreat weekend.

Once we arrived at the quilt retreat and I finished unloading everything, I got to work on my challenge entry.

First order of business was designing my background.  I laid out my fabric palette and started cutting out 3" strips.  I played around with the order as well as overlapped the strips to audition different widths.  Strips were trimmed down and quickly pieced together.  Then it was time to embellish with some fused applique!!  I used that fun metallic circles fabric to free-hand cut out clock parts:  gears and spiral doodads.  Solid black fabrics were used to create elements of my clock face:  minute marks, roman numerals and my clock hands (which I nearly forgot entirely!!).  It took some time to layout all the elements into a pleasing composition, and a bit of fussing until I was ready to commit by fusing it all into place.
Time To Choose Fabrics and Piece
To help hold all the fused elements into place, I doodled a dense all over fill combining some spirals/gears with a zig zag meander.
A Time to Quilt!
And here is my finished entry!  Online voting will begin Sunday, March 19th after 12 noon pst.  Be sure to vote for your favorites!  Hint-hint:  Mine is #83.
A Time to Finish:  Turn!  Turn!  Turn!, Finishes 20" x 18"
I had such a fun time participating in this season's Project Quilting challenges!  Six fun challenge themes yielding six fun & finished quilts!!  Many thanks to Kim & Trisha for all their behind the scenes work!  And special thanks to all the other Project Quilting Participants for all their camaraderie and creativity!!
Time for 6 New Quilts!!
And now it is turn for me to get back to enjoying my view of the Pacific Ocean!!
Time to Stroll Along the Beach!

Monday, March 13, 2017

Mark Your Calendars: April 1st and 2nd SCVQA Quilt Show!!

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Mark your calendars for April 1st and 2nd for the Santa Clara Valley Quilt Association biennial quilt show:  The Heart and Art of Quilts!  Join our membership in our mutual love of all things related to quilting for a quilt-filled weekend featuring:

  • 300+ quilts:  modern, art, traditional, big and small!!  
  • Vendors selling quilt-related items:  fabric, notions, machines and more!!
  • The San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles will be doing several bed turning's featuring historical quilts from their collection
  • Opportunity Baskets that will be packed with all kind of fun treasures.
  • Quilt Appraisals with Nancy Bavor
  • And two very special featured artists:
    • Award winning Susan Bianchi (who specializes in digital creations as well as gorgeous button mosaics!!)
    • And me!!  I will be showcasing my love affair with quilt challenges and will have several of my challenge entries on display.  I also hope to actively work on a new quilt challenge throughout the quilt show weekend so be sure to stop by and check on my progress!
Tickets will be sold at the door for $12 (eligible for reentry over the weekend).  Or you can purchase $10 Pre-show tickets through a member of SCVQA (me!!) and/or purchase them from any one of these local affiliate/vendor shops:   Not Just Quiltz in Niles, Fremont, Nimble Thimble in Gilroy, and Golden State Quilting in Campbell.   

I'll be at the Santa Clara Convention Center (Hall D) both Saturday and I hope you will stop by and say hello to me and my quilts!

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Meadow Mystery Quilt Along: Finished Quilt Top

Back in July 2016, the first set of instructions for the Meadow Mystery Quilt Along were revealed.  Nine month's later, we received the last set of instructions on assembling all the blocks into a quilt top.  Below is my finished quilt top.
Meadow Mystery Quilt Top, 60" x 60"
It has been a lot of fun watching everyone's quilts progress as each month's instructions have been revealed--especially now that they are all starting to come together.  There is still time to participate and make your own if you want to enter to win!?!

Many thanks to Cheryl for hosting another fabulous quilt along!  Cheryl does a fantastic job of writing her patterns, creating a fun sense of community among participants and lining up prizes.  Everyone who finishes their quilt tops and submits a picture via email by April 1st to Cheryl will be entered to win some pretty sweet prizes!!  Last year, I won one of the grand prizes:  gorgeous custom quilting by Jan over at Quilting Among the Groves!!

Monday, March 6, 2017

Slice of Improv Finishes

Improvisational piecing is a lot of fun, but I recognize that it can be a little intimidating for some quilters.  So in my Slice of Improv workshops, I set out to demonstrate just how freeing, forgiving and FUN the slice and insert improvisational piecing technique can be!!  We start out with the basic technique and then introduce simple variations that lead to exciting design opportunities!  Each block is an original work of art.

Check out these latest works of art started in one of my Slice of Improv sessions:
First up is Josephine's pink and purple quilt top.  She used a lovely assortment of pink and purple scraps with different values & textures which causes her quilt top to simply sparkle!!  And I love how she set her blocks into columns separated by a thin strip of pink.  It is just lovely!! 
Josephine's Pink & Purple Pizazz
Elaine surprised me by bringing her quilted/bound quilt to our guild's meeting show and tell!!  She backed it with a super plush fleece and quilted rows of quilted spirals.  She will be entering this fun quilt into our quilt guild's upcoming quilt show on April 1st and 2nd (mark your calendars!!)  where I hope it will be part of the children's scavenger hunt given her super fun use of the animal print border!!  Speaking of the border print--it helped inspire Elaine's title for this fun quilt: Space Jungle!!

Elaine's Space Jungle

Donna Embraced Improvisational Piecing and Quilting!!
Donna also surprised me by bringing her finished improv quilt to a recent quilt guild meeting!  Donna inherited a bundle of teal 1" strips that keep resurfacing as part of our guild's UFO exchange.  I inherited them in the first UFO exchange and made 3-4 quilts but still had leftovers and brought them to the next year's UFO exchange where lucky Donna found them and used them to create this fabulous improv piece!!  Not only did Donna master improvisational piecing but she also incorporated improvisational quilting to add so many fun textures into her background!!   I just love it!!

Aren't these quilts absolutely fabulous?!?   Guess what--they are fun to make too and make great use of your scraps and schnibbles!  Great news is that I have a few more full-day workshops coming up in my teaching schedule!!
I hope you can join me and experience just how freeing, forgiving and FUN improvisational piecing is!!

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Project Quilting 8.5: Pocket Square Dance

Pocket Square Prototype
I was channeling Tim Gunn with this week's Project Quilting challenge theme:  Well-Dressed Man.  Interestingly enough, Project Quilting founder/organizer extraordinaire, Kim Lapecek, was inspired by the Project Runway challenges and set out to create a series of fun and intense challenges for quilters!

I drew inspiration by Tim Gunn encouraging the Project Runway designers to "use the accessories wall thoughtfully" as they get ready for the runway.  And while I suspected others might incorporate the tie and/or bow tie into their entries, I chose to celebrate the pocket square and its many folded variations!

In addition to my usual Pinterest research, I also did some reconnaissance at a local thrift store.  I first checked to see if they had any pocket squares available for purchase...alas none!  So I wandered over to the men's suits where I researched the different colors, prints and took measurements of the breast pockets!  Once I returned home I raided my stash for suit-like fabrics (stripes, plaids and solids) in navy, grey/charcoal, tan, taupe and even brown!!  I cut out 9" squares and laid out a 4x4 grid with matching pocket flap.  Please note that I am not a seamstress, so I was left to "make it work" and set out to create mock pockets.
Men's Wear Background Squares
With my background squares laid out, it was time to accessorize!!  Since I couldn't find any pocket squares at the thrift store, I opted to create my own using fabrics from my stash.  After a few different fabric pulls, I opted to go with a bright and cheery set of springtime green and bright teals prints.  I attempted to do a rolled hems for a finished edge, but failed miserably.  So, I simply avoided any pocket square folds that had the pocket square edges exposed:  problem solved!  Each square is 10" x 10" and in some cases the designs involved 2 pocket squares.
Accessorizing Fun!
Once my pocket squares were folded and glue basted, it was time to assemble my squares.  I created mock pockets by cutting a small slit into each background square to slide in my folded pocket square.  Elmer's glue to the rescue to help with basting my blocks before stitching on the pocket flap.  All the fabric squares involved multiple folds, sometimes with two fabric squares which oftentimes created quite a bit of bulk.  Luckily my Juki machine had no issue sewing through these thick layers but to help reduce bulk, excess pocket square fabric was trimmed away before top stitching my pocket.
Mock Pocket Assembly
Once all the mock pockets were complete, the quilt top assembly was very quick and easy.  I then pondered how best to quilt the quilt top.  I stalled by completing all the stitching in the ditch with a medium value grey thread.  But given the heaviness of the pocket squares, I knew that more quilting would be required.  And so I doodled some different designs and really liked this simple diamond shape stitched at the block intersections.  I used Superior Threads Fantastico in Lime (#5113) to add a little pop of color to these free-motion quilted diamonds.
Well Dressed Man Wears Diamonds
Once again I did not heed my own advice of working small with these one week challenges!  Each of my blocks is life-sized, and I opted to make 16 of them!
Pocket Square Dance, Finishes 34" x 34"
I love participating in these quilting challenges as I always learn something new!  I had so much fun learning all about pocket squares and the many ways to fold and style them!!

Here are the two main sources of Pocket Square Tutorials that I used, while taking a few creative liberties here and there!:
And here are some close up shots of my pocket squares...
Top Left Clockwise:  Mel's Original (based on an early sketch), The Mountain Path, Winged Puff Fold, and Scallop
Top Left Clockwise:  Layer Cake, The Mount Fiji, Tee Pee and Overcoat
Top Left Clockwise:  Monarch, Four Stairs, Double Pocket Square and American Beauty
Top Left Clockwise:  The One Point, 3 Stairs Fold, Double Winged puff and Ice Cream
Online voting will begin Sunday afternoon (PST) and go through Friday.  Be sure to check out all the creative interpretations of "Well-Dressed Man" challenge theme and vote for your favorites!!  Hint hint:  Mine is #71.

And as Heidi Klum would say:  "Auf Wiedersehen!!":  Good Bye and Until We See Each Other Again for the final challenge of Project Quilting Season 8!!!

Thursday, March 2, 2017

February Art After Dark: DIY Lip Balm

Two of my gal pals joined me for DIY Lip Balm, offered through Santa Clara Library's Art After Dark program.
Ladies Night Out Fun!!!
Turns out, lip balm is surprisingly easy to make and only requires a few simple ingredients:  coconut oil, cocoa butter wafers, beeswax and some optional peppermint essential oils.
Basic Ingredients and Recipe
Everyone took turns at the double boiler station where we combined and melted our ingredients together into a lip-smacking concoction.  Our group was one of the first to go and thanks to our awesome teamwork, we were efficient in our task and no fingers were burned in the process!
DIY Lip Balm Fun

While we waited for our lip balm to cool, we had fun using washi tape to decorate our little tin covers.  There were so many different designs and colors available!  Just like my quilts, I opted for bright colors and bold prints!!
Getting Crafty While Our Concoctions Cool
Many thanks to Lily and Catherine for a super fun night out!!  And special thanks to the Santa Clara Library staff for hosting this fun and free evening program!!
Secret Lip Balm Ingredient:  Friends Who Are Crafty & a Lil Crazy!!