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!

Saturday, June 27, 2015

The Twisted Sister Quilt- Celebration of the Denver Metro Modern Quilt Guild

Nothing better than creating with friends. Taking an idea and making together.

Case in point: The Denver Metro Modern Quilt Guild's Twisted Sisters Quilt, a group derived inspiration quilt from the talented ladies in Colorado. The quilt is a modern take, of improvisational design with intent. The inspiration, an iconic game, Twister. We had 24 unique circles in a modern take  on the red, green, blue and yellow twister game. The circles could be anything, as long as they: finished about 15.5",  were created within the makers assigned colors, used solids for the circles and low volumes for the background. Outside of those few guidelines, anything goes. It was uplifting to see how excited everyone was and how outstanding and unique the circles are.
DMMQG meeting showing all the pits and pieces before the top and back are pieced.
At Susan Santisteven's house

Guild Members met the deadline for blocks being done. We laid them all out and admired our work. One guild member  couldn't make it at the last moment so we found her block (posted to the #dmmqgtwistedsistersquilt group on Instagram and added her block (on iPad in photo).
We added a twist to our Twister take off, by being lucky enough to have a guild member who excels at many things and Wendy made us a mini quilt, the twister spinner, with everyone's name and color circle represented. Like a mini quilt label of makers, but also the spinner for the Twister game. So we really did Twister with 2 quilts!

We then laid the circles out in the traditional twister grid of 4 x 6
blocks laid out, light to dark before trimming and piecing
but then added a twist, an additional improv quilted negative space of circles, all in low volume.
negative space back lit. You can "see" the low volume circles best this way
 If you look closely, the circles, are color graduations, from lightest (at the top) to darkest. The negative space on the right has several phases of circle, from a metallic quilted "ghost" circle at the top, to a more concrete circle at the bottom. All phases of circle in between.
quilt top pieced
back pieced- label of makers to be added (shown floating on quilt back)

The quilting is simple, curved, occasionally overlapping in a pale pearl glide thread. Wendy Bermingham, of Wendybzquilting kindly leant her long arm and her expertise to the quilting. Paired with Christine Perrigo of Contemporary Custom Quilting (who created the custom ghost circle and orchestrated the quilting around it), the two long arm experts made this quilt even more outstanding.
Wendy making sure everything is as it should be before quilting commences

"Ghost" circle in Metallic thread in progress. Design by Christine Perrigo

Almost done
 My total participation in the quilting consisted of asking too many questions and taking photos.

Quilt from below, while the quilting is happening. The shadowing secondary to the long-arm's  lights creates great visual overlapping of the top and the backing.
 I hadn't realized all the behind the scenes work that has to take place to get a quilt quilted on a long arm, including dismantling the quilt after the quilting had commenced, to add a backing layer of muslin so that the beautifully paper-pieced Denver Metro Modern Quilt Guild Logo and lettering,
(pieced by Chelsea Camalick and Wendy Birmingham),  wouldn't shadow through onto the front. (I did help with making that decision and taking lots of photos!).
This is the BACK!!!! The paper pieced DMMQG logo by Chelsea and the Lettering by Wendy. I suggested  using the Modern Quilt Guild lettering for the M, the Q, and the G letters on the quilt.  It looks awesome!!!!

Title: "Denver Metro Modern Quilt Guild's Twisted Sisters Quilt"
90 x 80 inches
Inspired by the game of Twister
Circle Makers: Sheri Nichhols, Katie Rapp, Heather Feurgeson, Michelle Davis, Chelsea Camalick, Wendy Roth, Teri Ladtkow, Susan Santistevan, Charlayne Dunn, Shelby Skumanich, Andrea Berryhill, Teresa Barbagallo, Lauren Lang, Wendy Bermingham, Dena Mehling, Christine Perrigo, Anne Deister, Amy Wade, Carla Keahey, Marsha Loewenberg, Judy Sanclaria and me!

Quilt top piecing: Amy Wade, Wendy Bermingham, Christine Perrigo

Negative space makers: Wendy Bermingham, Christine Perrigo, me

Quilters: Wendy Bermingham, Christine Perrigo: long arm quilted with custom additions (ghost circle in metallic Superior Thread in silver) and adjustments, both to quilt top and Spinner board which has custom quilting as well. (Thank you Christine).

Quilting in progress. The top was basted and floated.
The back can be seen peeking over the quilt at the top.
Binding:  bias, Kona snow: Wendy Bermingham

Batting: yummy wool- the loft really makes the quilting a real stand out (not that it wasn't already, it's just more).

Mini Twister Board:  Designed and Pieced: all Wendy Bermingham. (I tried to help but kept making more work for Wendy so I stopped). Custom quilting design: Christine Perrigo.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Well Done, thank you Your Honor

I was intrigued by an IG post from a fellow Quilter and Physician, Kathryn Dundas. It was picked up and posted by Kayy,  It was written by Allan Fredsham,  a criminal court judge in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.  PLEASE go read this. It's long, but it's written with keen insight, and loads of love and admiration for his wife Gloria. Now if we all could get our spouses to see our quilting life this way, the world would indeed be perfect!!!
Mae's quilt, Totally made entirely  from scraps,
circa 2009

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Labeling in the 21st century

I am a firm believer in quilt labeling. I am because I can't tell you how many times in my rush to get things done and out the door/into the mail, I have neglected to do this.

In the past I hand stitched a cloth label to the quilt back. It typically had the recipients name, quilt title, date and my name on it. It could easily be removed if someone wanted it gone. I tried to get a bit tricky and sew a few through stitches into the label (stitching all the way through to the front) and although it might slow someone down the label could still be easily removed.

I then took to stitching my name and date onto the edge of the quilt, in the same color as the "negative space". I used a preprogrammed alphabet on my machine. Again (and only because I had to once), this too can be removed. Trickier, takes longer, but it can be done. I will continue to do this regardless of it's drawbacks. 2 labels are better than one right??

So, I got thinking. What if I could in some way, add my "Spontaneous Threads" title too. What if I could do it in addition to these other labeling techniques. How would I do that? Some have had labels printed (Spoonflower is a good example) and then they are pieced into the backs before quilting. That's one way, and a good one at that. It's permanent.  But sometimes I can't decide on where to label, or heaven help me, I forget all together….. then the back is pieced and now what?

I turned to my friends at Versatranz for some help. They make commercial heat press labels for teams, schools etc, etc. I spoke to a very helpful young lady who guided me through the ins and outs of designing custom labeling and we came up with something that works perfectly for me. I knew going in that I wanted something reflective. They had something that would fit the bill. Although it's not as striking as the fabric I've been using, (I'm guessing its a nano particle density thing), it's pretty cool none the less.

I got a single run (about 70 labels total), knowing that I may be spending money for something that wouldn't work. The person who helped me told me, several times, this was not an iron on process. I nodded my head, we were on the phone after all, she wouldn't know I also had my fingers crossed that perhaps it wouldn't matter. You see,  I do have an iron and a sense of adventure (even with quilting) and she really didn't have to know that I was going to ignore their only use a heat press directions and give it a try regardless. It's my money and I'll try if I want too.

So, once the labels arrived,  I heated up my Rowenta, got out my test fabric and gave it a whirl. I decided I should start my (mis) adventure by attempting to follow the directions for the type of label/fabric I was using. It was an excellent place to start.  It worked like a charm. I can apply it to a piece of fabric or a pieced quilt back. I can make it go exactly where I want it.  I can quilt right through it like it wasn't even there. It's washable and lightly reflective. It's ME!!!!

If YOU decide to go this route a few things you NEED to consider:
Cut out the labels individually. Don't try and iron directly from the label sheet. If you order any you'll see what I mean.
Use your iron's hottest setting and some muscle. Remember you are the heat press, be the heat press.
I counted out the time in my head, One-one-thousand, two-one-thousand etc. This seemed to work just fine.
Don't move your iron back and forth, just place and press.
Which then states the obvious, if you can't press in place on your fabric at the highest setting of your iron for 10-12 seconds without completely ruining your fabric then this is not the type of label for you (the disclaimer).
Each label cost me about $1.50, I can't remember if that includes shipping but I think it does. (This amount is based on my design and the material I chose). A small price to pay to have your quilt labeled and done!

Monday, June 8, 2015

Mother, May I?

May as always, is busy, between several birthdays, anniversaries, graduations and end of the school year stuff there is rarely much time to do other things. But other things got done….

Quilty things:

Haven do.good stitches Modern blocks- we did our version of the Moda Modern Building blocks, and since I didn't have that specific pattern several free 12.5" blocks were suggested for our use. We could only use solids. I can't wait to see this quilt come together.
Golden Gate Block by Patchwork square

Capital T block by Janet Wickell
 Mother's Day: I made my mother/quilter and other friends these fun wrap bracelets. It's a free pattern that I modified to use vintage button closures instead of the hook and eye suggested. These are great scrap projects.

I also made a few curvey clutches by Pink Door Fabric. Also a free pattern. These also got gifted as graduation presents, although I forgot to take pictures of those.

The Curvy Clutch

Bee Sewcial: May was all about Marci and she had us listening and improv piecing with intention. Houses, Hills and Happy colors.

rotate 90 degrees to your right (clock wise)

I have also been working on a Denver Metro Modern Quilt Guild project, and trying to finish up a few quilts of my own.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

A heartfelt Quilt

A beautiful quilt for a BeeSewcial Bee Member. Blocks for the quilt top (Me, Diane, Kari,  Melissa,  Felicity, Leanne,  Hillary). Here are my 2 blocks. One landed on the front and the other on the back.

  I added a bit of retroflective fabric, hidden in the form of a teeny, tiny improv heart to the front, bottom right. Just in case they want to use it at night.
it's really little. (improv heart without flash)

improv heart with flash (glass nano particle fabric)

The entire back/second front was pieced and designed by Debbie, I got to contribute one of the heart blocks, but her genius makes it truly a quilt with 2 fronts.

The whole thing was quilted and bound by Leanne (shecanquilt) with beautiful dense straight line quilting (as Leanne does so very well) in pale, pale pink.

HeartBEEts for baby Evie and mom Marci, by the women of Bee Sewcial

A total group effort and a simply beautiful quilt for a brand new baby girl.

Marci we love you,  and welcome to the newest member to the group, congratulations!

Photo credits, Leanne, shecanquilt!