Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Beyond Reasonable, way, way beyond!

All quilts, no matter how special deserve to be loved………..

My helper, Sand Dune, the dachshund

First, Thank you to Bee Sewcialite Karen (capitolaquilter) for the title of this post, and ultimately the name of the First Bee Sewcial quilt, 2015. Conceived and developed in January then pieced, commented on, decidedly over-grammed and eventually quilted over the following 8 months.

I just loved the lighting in this photo.

This is the longest start-to-finish- quilt project for me, ever! 8 months in the making. The journey was one of self discovery, group cooperation, initial joy, punctuated by 2 episodes of hitting the pause button because I was overwhelmed by the task I set for myself and a niggling doubt- wondering if I didn't perhaps bite off more than I could chew…..

In the end I finished and then resorted to teasing everyone for the last couple weeks with sneak peeks of blocks made by the then 10 members of the Bee Sewcial group. Since January, we've readjusted the ranks a bit and expanded our horizons by miles and all the while it's been quite a ride.
Beyond Reasonable:
Front, faced binding is rather lovely don't you think?

Title: "Beyond Reasonable"
Size: 67 x 60"
Design idea and color palette chosen by me for the January installment of Bee Sewcial. Derived inspiration based on the the Dale Chihuly exhibit at the Denver Botanic Gardens. (Original post here).
Contributors/co-conspirators (a representative block from each contributor):
Leanne (she can quilt)

Felicity (Felicity Quilts)
 Hillary (entropy always wins)
Diane (random thoughts do or di/ylmommy x4)
 Marci (Marci Girl)
 Melissa (we shall sew)
 Kari (quilts for the making)
Debbie (A Quilters Table)
 Latifah (Latifah Saffir Studio)

Materials: Kona solids in a suggested color palette- designer to edit and use as they see fit. Backing in Kona Brick, paprika, turquoise, crimson and Chinese Red.
Backed, simply pieced, because nothing else about this was simple

Threads: assorted Aurifil 50 wt 100% cotton color matched and Superior Threads metallics in Turquoise (top), bobbin color matched to dominant solid.
Batting: Pellon 100% recycled cotton
Binding: faced, 1/2" double folded, color matched to backing
Faced binding/ detail fron back

Faced binding/ back detail

Quilting: FMQ with curated color matched thread. Each area was quilted differently. Bernina 180 (x2).
FMQ/ front detail

FMQ/ back detail (each individual block was quilted differently)
New and different: It bears repeating that I'm not one to be timid with my quilts. I've been known to cut into fully constructed tops and for this quilt I also took a giant leap of faith. The most reasonable thing to do was test the idea I had for my faced binding first on a smaller project. BUT by the time I finished and squared this quilt I was anxious to be done. I couldn't even start other projects because this loomed large on my to do list, so I just went for it. I didn't want a conventional binding. The quilt is really too busy and non-linear. So, I attached a 1.25" straight of grain binding (just over 1/2" when folded/ironed) to the quilt as if I were attaching a conventional binding.
attaching the faced binding (front)
 I then ironed it from the front. Flipped the quilt over and very carefully stitched through the quilt and the binding close to the attached row of stitches. I then repeated the ironing this time from the back folding at the seam line. Using many, many clover clips and tiny hand stitches, I stitched the binding to the quilt back. Since the fabric was an exact match to the backing the the binding exceptionally small, it's almost invisible. Just what I had hoped. It covers very little of the extensive free motion quilting and is significantly smaller than many of the faced binding tutorials available out there.
Faced binding, back detail

Other things of note: Bee Sewcial has grown. Although this bee is closed to the 10 current sewists, we have opened each months design inspirations to the entire quilting community via Instagram. Please participate by tagging your photos with the #inspitedbybeesewcial hashtag and we will comment on your makings. I hope that each of you are challenged each month as we are.

I would also like to thank all of you who followed along and contributed to this rather breath taking quilt. I pushed all kinds of limits in its construction (crazy Y seam construction, careful trimming and use of all submitted "blocks"). I hope the excessive FMQ and the obsessive use of color matched threads was well worth the effort (IT TOOK FOREVER). I killed one of my beloved sewing machines in the process and spent a month looking and finally finding another to replace it on the internet. It was a journey and a valuable (and ultimately expensive) lesson learned.

Looking back, I wouldn't change a thing.

more FMQ details from the back

I know it's only September, but I'm already thinking about round 2!!

Friday, August 21, 2015

Create along with Bee Sewcial at #inspiredbyBeeSewcial

"About a year ago a unique sewing bee formed that asked each member to choose a monthly theme/inspirational source and color palate. 10 quilters would then go forth and make "blocks", blocks become a quilt, one for each month. In this process we bee members have gained new skills, explored different designs and close friendships have grown. Somewhere in this whole creative endeavor other talented people have observed our journey and have asked to participate.

Unable to keep a good thing to ourselves, we have created a companion community #inspiredbybeesewcial to sew right along with us. We have received requests to join but since the Bee is currently full, we wanted to find a way for you all to sew/create right alongside Bee Sewcial.   We will continue to post our monthly inspiration on IG with dual hashtags. We ask only that you use #inspiredbybeesewcial when you post your makings. This larger group #inspiredbybeeswecial is about being a respectful, supportive, creative, collaborative community and making ourselves better designers and sewists. If you would like to be part of this companion community, you may follow monthly "instructions" on our blogs and tag your pictures on IG with #inspiredbybeesewcial. You will find us commenting on all your creativity over in #inspiredbybeesewcial creative space.

So, are you ready? Hillary @entropyalwayswins is point for September. Look for her mission to us all in the last week of August. The other co-conspirators (and people you might want to follow just so you don't miss anything) are: Leanne @shecanquilt, Debbie @aquilterstable, Diane @ylmommyx4, Marci @marci_girl, Felicity @felicityquilts, Karen @capitolaquilter, Kari @quiltsforthemaking, Melissa @weshallsew and Stephanie @spontaneousthreads."

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Everything Old is new again

I'm participating in the Michael Miller Fabrics sponsored Modern Quilts Unlimited Magazine block challenge.
My July submission was to reinterpret a more traditional 12" flying goose block.
Here is my take:
Michael Miller Cotton Couture solids in Jet Black, Soft White and Acid

Please vote for  me (pretty, pretty  please????) here I'd appreciate it! THANKS!!!!

Monday, August 10, 2015

And the winner is…..

THANK YOU all for the thoughtful and supportive comments. I hope that you perhaps all look at your scrap bin with your rose colored glasses on in the future.

As promised the winner is …… Tamara King, @metamarama (IG).  Chosen by Mr. Random number generator.

What did she win? Well, Tamara, I will make you, either a mini quilt or a pillow, from my  scraps, but you choose the colors. I will also make sure to use a small piece of my 2015 nano particle fabric int eh design.

In addition I will include some fat quarters of blenders compliments of Fabricate Boulder, my sponsor.

What I need from you:
1. color preferences
2. solids, prints, both, don't care.

oh, and when it's ready to go, an address.

Congrats and I look forward to working with you.

Saturday, August 1, 2015


My third (leftover) scraps quilt for 2015.
I set a goal of 2 quilts in 2015 made entirely from trimmings and scraps, and got 2 good sized quilts made along with one smaller quilt. The details on the smallest, "Dark Shadows" have already been published.   The second larger quilts details come later this fall.

"Embers" was born from several projects undertaken and finished in 2015  centered around the Marsala Pantone Color of the year 2015, and a Bee I'm involved with, Bee Sewcial (#beesewcial on Instagram). Let's face it, these are my colors. I have always liked them, they speak to me and it just seemed that I got permission this year to use them with abandon. So, I did. I can't tell you every single Kona solid that went into this quilt, but there were many. I used the scraps as they were cut, directly from my bin. I didn't recut, except to trim. I did focus the "lighter" fabrics in a slightly off-set "center" and let the darker fabrics surround them. I also used my 2015 nano particle fabric. In the right light, the combination of the saturated hues, from yellow to orange, red, burgundy and mahogany, glow. The addition of the retroreflective nano particle fabric just accentuate this. I didn't initially set out to make that happen, it just did.
Quilt front (no flash)
Even without the flash, the retroreflective fabric (read as white) "glows"

64 x 56"
Before quilting
retroreflective nano particle fabric is easily seen

Improv pieced original design made entirely from precut scraps
some of the "background" scraps I worked with

Fabrics:  Top:Kona solids in yellows, oranges,  deep pink, reds, deep reds, burgundy and mahogany (red/brown). Focal intense blues (cyan, aqua, lagoon), nanoparticle fabric.
               Back: additional larger scraps, pieced. Stash print fabric
Thread: Piecing: Aurifil #2021 50 wt, 100% cotton
             Quilting: Aurifil#2240, 2460 (top) #2460 (bobbin)
Quilting: relatively straight line, domestic Bernina 820 with a walking foot
pin basting

Busy piecing, simple quilting

Batting: Quilters dream 100% wool
Binding: 2" straight of grain, pieced to compliment the color change in the dark background
Labeling: Versatranz, stitched name, sewn label
Versatranz custom  heat press label

Quilt back at the photo shoot
Think on this: most of us have scraps. Some of us have lots of scraps. Some people only save scraps of a certain size. Sometimes sorting those little odd shaped ones are more trouble than their worth. But I just want to give a shout out to those scraps and your perception of their worth. There may be a pretty fantastic quilt hiding in that scrap pile. So next time you're considering what to do with the left overs, consider challenging yourself to make a quilt, ONLY using those scraps. You might be very pleased with the outcome.

Quilt top taken with flash on. Retroreflective  fabric is obvious

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Accentuating the Negative: Dark Shadows

"I myself an made entirely of flaws, stitched together with good intentions"- Augusten Burroughs

"Success is not final, Failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts"- Winston Churchill

A story of making the most of your flaws.

The piecing of linear scraps and black batting accentuate the seams. The seed stitching adds depth

Truth: I've been lucky on 2 separate occasions with 2 different quilts to have a "negative" judging comment of: Dark fabric shadowing under lighter fabric. Yes, you read correctly, lucky to have received a constructive critique. Lucky because I used that critique to challenge myself to take that perceived "flaw" and make it a design feature. I mean why not, I'm obviously very good at it. I've done it twice- OK likely more than twice, but these 2 quilts had a judge looking at them. So instead of wallowing in self doubt, why not grab the shadows and bring them into the spotlight?
Can you see me now? The seams become design feature instead of design flaw.

Coincidence: A Front Range Modern Quilt Guild challenge to take a traditional block and make it modern.

Lucky me: I have clever quilty friends. We talk, we share…. we encourage and support.

Personal Goals Revisited: for 2015 I have several, 2 of which entail making quilts entirely from scraps.

Cooking up a storm: There is great Truth in Personal Coincidence, Lucky me. Using already cut scrap fabric strips, and  keeping within the Guild challenge guideline (black (any shade)/white (ditto) and 1 other color), and having a great sounding board- off I went to do my own thing. I pieced, awkward angles
awkward angles and a few Y seams
as well as straight seams. I cobbled batting from scraps as well and mustered some courage to try my hand at hand quilting. I incorporated 2014 (metallic) and 2015 (nano particle fabric) idea trends and ended up with a little quilt with a lot to say.

I was pleased with my interpretation of flying geese. What I hadn't expected was the secondary pattern that also emerged of log cabins, and a new found love of dark shadows.

Quilt front

Title: Dark Shadows, Derived Inspiration, No. 5
30 x 22"
Improv with intent, original design.
Fabric: Top: Kona scraps in white, snow, black, coal, medium gray, shadow, curry, saffron, nano particle fabric.
             Back: Black and white dots by Allison Glass
Thread: Aurifil #2021, 50 wt.;  Superior Threads Metallic in silver, Marathon metallic in white and black; embroidery floss in white and gray.
Quilting: straight line, near matchstick, focal FMQ
both cotton (Aurifil) and metallic (Superior and Marathon) threads were used

Guild challenge: Traditional to Modern: flying geese, log cabin
Batting: Quilters Dream black, 100% polyester scraps.
Labeling: Versaprint reflective heat press

New to me: hand embroidery, seed stitch both on quilt and on a portion of the binding.

even the binding got some hand stitching.

Black batting to accentuate the seaming. A small quilt. (Most of my quilts are much bigger).

I ran out of "white" scraps. I guess gray will do!

Saturday, July 11, 2015

On being Uncomfortable

One of several overriding themes this year for the Denver Metro Modern Quilt Guild was to try things outside your quilting "box" to stretch your skills, to be "uncomfortable". We told the guild members, any thing they made throughout this process that they weren't thrilled with, or that they didn't like enough to try again, we would take and incorporate into charity quilts for the the Guild.

So far this year, 2 quilts have been made from donated blocks. Much of the donated fabric comes from Pink Door Fabrics.
Three of us took donated blocks and pieced the tops. It took us one day to get 2 tops plus backs pieced and ready for quilting.
Selecting the blocks to use

The quilt top coming together.
Lots of "Y" seams
We made a few additional blocks to make the top cohesive.

Quilt top done!
Second Quilt top pieced.
Yes, some people have seen a secondary (unintentional) image here.

 Susan Santestevan did the quilting. The quilts are gorgeous.

auditioning the binding in Susan's studio
So, beauty from scraps. It can be done. These 2 quilts will go to the local police department and will be put in patrol cars responding to domestic violence calls where there are children known to be present.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Binding 2.0 , Please Hold Math Against Me

Normally I don't fuss much with math while I'm quilting. It gets me into trouble more times than not. I'm not afraid of math, I just like to use it when I need it, not any more or any less.

But there is one time when, to me math makes a whole lot of sense.

Tight, neat, just right, binding.

One of my friends (Thank you Hillary for asking the important questions)  recently asked the "how wide do you cut  your binding" on Instagram and I was surprised at the variety of answers.

So here is my take on Math and Binding.
Simple binding in progress, clover clips in place, ready to go

99.9% of the time, I cut my binding strips at 2", straight of grain. Some times I cut them on the bias, but I still cut them 2" wide.

Sometime I get "fancy" and piece/ embellish my binding,
hand stitched binding

binding with inset seam (retroreflective fabric)

Binding with double inset seam

Embellished binding

pieced/matched binding

inset seaming and binding

pieced binding, tiny inset fabric pieces can be used with ease. It's a great way to use scraps.
BUT, I still cut them 2" wide.

Let me tell you why: AKA the "math".

If you cut fabric strips 2" wide x WOF, fold in half, length wise, wrong sides together, raw edges matching and press, you'll have a folded binding strip 1" in width.
Then sew your binding strip to quilt top, matching raw edges, using a 1/4" seam.
When you bring the binding to the back, you've doubled the binding over the sewn 1/4" seam (on the top) leaving you about 1/2" of binding to fold over the raw edge of the quilt (which is about 1/8" thick) and cover your machine stitching on the back, which is (ha) 1/4" from the raw edge.
Neat, small hand stitching (with blind hem stitch, makes the application tot he back nearly invisible).

If you've done this, you end up with a beautiful 1/4" binding on the front, and just over a 1/4" binding strip on the back.  The binding is snug to the quilt  ( I guess judges LOVE this).  And your binding on the front and the back are essentially the same width give or take a millimeter or 2.
Quilt front at top, quilt back middle, quilt top, bottom.
The binding is Kona snow. The binding width, same, front and back.

Since I often piece my backs, I like to treat the composition of the back as an alternate front. I like my binding to be the same on the front and the back.

 I'm not saying this is the ONLY way to do binding. Or even the right way to do binding, it's just my way…... binding, tight, neat and just right.

To read more about the quilts featured here, click on the My Quilts tab at the top of my blog!