Thursday, October 1, 2015

Sleepless in Seattle

Oh, how I wish that were true. That I could be in Seattle to see this show and all the incredible art. IF you are in Seattle and find yourself sleepless, perhaps you could go, and when you are there, take pictures and share?

My contribution

The Details :
COLOR FORMS, curated by Jessica Vehorn (Guild Studio)
October 5 through November 27, 2015 with the opening reception October 8, 2015 5-7 pm, Seattle Pacific Art Center, 3307 3rd Ave W, Seattle, WA 98119 (Seattle Pacific University Campus)

The show includes pieces by:
Julie Alpert
Anna Boenish
Wynde Dyer
Colleen Elizabeth
Season Evans
Zak Foster
Hillary Goodwin
Ruby Hoppen
Chawne Kimber
Paul Komada
Matt Macomber
Jeffrey Maris
Ara Jane Olufson
Martha Peterson
Nicholas Sistler
Shelby Marie Skumanich
Blair Stocker
Kate Sweeney
Jessica Vehorn

Backstory, because that seems to be THE story of my life these days. This, me in the show is because of a Texting jag with Hillary of Entropy Always wins. He have history and now we have quilts. If not for her, then this would not be. So, for any of you wondering if kind words and encouragement, collaborative sharing and challenges don't matter, I'm here to tell you you are wrong.

Specifics: (the story, the journey and my sleepless night)
3 pieces, a start, a pause, a finish, a revisit and one that is definitely outside my comfort zone, but had to be. The story behind the Trilogy.

First let me say the general parameters of the show #colorformsshow is to create a nonrepresentational piece, that is greater than 5 x5" and less than 36 x 36". Easy peazy right? Maybe not so much when your comfort zone is usable quilts, in rather predictable shapes (think rectangle/square) and in let's say, large format.

I started with the 10 x 10" piece on the top right. It looked like this initially.

Even with the dense matchstick quilting you could see the shadowing. (I even send a picture to the person instrumental in this whole endeavor, she agreed with me). The curves are tight and the circles small and the way things worked out, I couldn't press to the dark side, plus the fabric would have been visibly lumpy. So despite the fun quilting with the 5 subtle thread color changes, I put it aside.

Next up was this long rectangle measuring in at 27.5 x 11".  I opted for shot cotton background (gray/orange) which nicely camouflaged the inset color pieces. The shapes are the same size as in my first attempt, and I also quilted the heck out of this changing threads often. Because of the darker background I was able to use more saturated thread colors. I doubled up on 100% cotton batting and like the way it plays against the dense quilting.  All threads are Aurifil 100% cotton, 50 wt.
" Revelry"
Skinny 1/4" binding is almost invisible

I opted for rich solid Kona cotton for the shapes and 3 of the 4 circles. The 4th circle, bottom left is glass nano particle fabric. The color palette is similar to the first piece I started. And outside of the nano particle fabric I stuck with solid fabrics, something I've done a lot of this year.
construction details, lots of seam clipping to get those curves to work.

Meanwhile, the piece I started with was calling to me…. so I went back to see if it could be saved, all the while thinking about one request from the shows curator, she would love some non conventional shapes. I tackled the shadowing by adding turned edge appliqué to all edges of the original piece and then matchstick quilting those, changing thread colors just to make things fun.
"Resolution": 10 x 10"
Flash on for this photo on the front, rounded corners, faced binding.

Turn edge appliqué on tiny circles is NOT for the faint of heart. 

Dense quilting through nano particle fabric in yummy blue Aurifil thread. 
 After all the quilting I cut rounded corners and finished with a faced binding. I am so glad I went back to this piece.

But it seemed that I was not yet at the end of my journey. One night I woke up with my head spinning and a headache that lasted all through the night and well into the next day. Since I couldn't sleep, I visited all the pieces I had cut from the 2 finished quilts and all of a sudden an idea, born from a bit of pain and a definite lack of sleep emerged. I still had the script of a unconventional shape, perhaps even an unbound "quilt" running in my brain. So, instead of reaching for the comfort of my solids, I started pulling metallic prints and sparkly whites and just started cutting and sewing. This is what happened, 18 x 13" of repeated shapes and circles, same size, less orderly and tons of fun. I quilted all the pieces onto a single piece of backing fabric, using the doubled cotton batting for stability and quilted the heck out of it, changing thread colors just like in the previous two pieces. I used nano particle fabric again and when all was said and done cut away the backing fabric and excess batting. Needless to say, no binding was used here. I am uncomfortable without the binding, always going back to snip tiny threads that are trying to tumble free. But I do love that I didn't try to over think the process, I just let this one develop on it's own.

"Disquiet" front
I see all three pieces together and although not at all planned,  when they are arranged this way, make an almost square at 24 x 28".  Each piece has hanging sleeves allowing them to be separate as well as together, via a somewhat, if I do say so myself, ingenious (which I of course, forgot to photograph) system of buttons and ties.  So, together or apart, here is "Trilogy". The individual pieces, right to left are "Revelry", "Resolution" and "Disquiet". They will be for sale at the show. Yet another thing I have never done! 

If you live anywhere near the museum, go see the show. There are 19 talented artists who will have stories to tell, I'm certain all well worth your visit.

Thank you to the shows curator Jessica Vehorn (Guild Studio) for talking me through the "art" part of the show and for suggesting that quilts need not be square/rectangular, and that in this instance, being unbound was OK, and looking back I must say, in so many ways Jessica was correct.  Another mere  thank you is not enough  to co-conspirator/artist/quilter/doctor/mom Hillary for all her support and encouragement. I can say for certain that without those 2 ladies, these 3 quilted pieces would never have happened. I am eternally grateful.

Saturday, September 26, 2015


Bee Sewcial blocks- September: "Some things are better left unsaid".  The design parameters and a shout out to all quilters here.   If you want to see the design work of the other quilters sewing along please visit Instagram and look for the hashtag, #inspiredbybeesewcial.

"Embrace"- more expansive than a hug and open-ended to be all inclusive. Embrace Life, love, friends and sometimes even enemies….. embrace it all and never, ever let go!  "Ascend"- no baby steps here. If the stakes are high enough and you ARE determined; succeed or fail, you WILL take that leap of faith because out's really your only option. Oh, and that last step, let's just agree it's a doozy.

Embrace and Ascend
tiny bit of nano particle fabric right after that last step
Pieced partial spiral. It's harder to do than it looks, especially those "curves" at the tips.
This block is only 10" square

Haven do. good stitches- scrappy UFO/ Orphan blocks - the blocks finish at 12.5"

Some silly sewing for the Varsity girls Field Hockey Team at East High School. They got new uniforms this year. The bags are done in school colors (a great stash buster) can be used to keep uniforms from cleats, or vise versa. They are big enough to be used later on for shoe bags when they all head off to college in the fall.

a little chalk board fabric helped keep everyones uniforms organized

Read Between the Lines received a 1st place ribbon at the AQS show in Grand Rapids, MI.  Latifah was at the show and was kind to send this photo. I don't keep many of my quilts, but with 2 ribbons in its pedigree, this one is a keeper.

Seattle Pacific Art Center Submissions- more to come on October 3rd, but for now a sneak peek won't hurt.

TulaYAH swap- with all the projects that need finishing I had to get this done and off my to-do list. It don't mail until November 1st, but it feels good to be done. PLUS, Tula Pink was in Denver at Fancy Tiger Crafts in September and so it began.
"Mug Rug" front
Dense matchstick quilting really makes Tula fabric yummy
A little improve on the right to use up those precious scraps

Yes, dear partner, Tula herself signed your Mug Rug

Fun backing fabric too

Thought you might like your "extra" to be make with her new "Eden" line

Needle book inside
Oh, yes, there are a few other surprises…... think Vintage Tula and a YAH mug, I didn't forget. And because I couldn't have done this with out you, a signed piece of vintage Hushabye for a most generous Kathryn.

I'm pretty sure there are a few other sewing projects mixed in there, like the ones for a class I'm teaching at Fabricate Boulder, but a girl has got to have a few secrets, no?

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Keeping it real, part the last

It started here
and this chapter now ends right here. I do want to say, for all you quilters out there,  you (yes, YOU),  have quilts hidden in your scraps. Beautiful quilts waiting to me made, and shared and loved. I wish I could continue to challenge each of you to make at least one quilt from your scraps on hand. I guarantee you will be happy that you did. This  finish is my second larger quilt from scraps.


Title: "Divisible by None"
Original design, improv pieced with mostly precut scraps.
Size: 76" x 60"
Materials: scraps only (top) all 100% quilting cottons in black, grays, whites, and yellow many by Kona, RJR,  and others (cut me some slack here with the specific names, they are scraps after all but if you are sleuthy, you can read back through all the quilts I made in 2013/2014 and cobble a workable list). I also believe the yellows to be part of trimmings from Bee Sewcial blocks from Hillary.

Back: Black and white prints from stash. All 100% cotton.

Batting: black, 100% poly from Quilters Dream. The black was chosen purposely to highlight the seaming of all the scraps, especially in the light fabrics.
black batting top left, seaming is highlighted.
 A technique I played with to excess here. The original idea for the black batting, compliments of Christine Perrigo. The only thing I didn't like about this batting is that it does pill while quilting, and all this black batting bits on the light top drove me crazy. They came off easily with a lint roller, but it was messy. I guess if it was on a long arm it wouldn't have been noticeable.  But when your quilting away on a domestic machine, the quilt sandwich gets manhandled.

Threads: Marathon 100% cotton, 40 weight in black and light silver gray. Aurifil 50 weight, 100% cotton in dark gray.

Quilting: Dark areas (center) straight line quilting at angles; (peripheral): FMQ boxes. Light areas: FMQ pebbles.

Binding: 100% scraps in various white, off-white, light, medium and dark grays. Cut 2" SOG at what ever length was left over from previous quilt bindings. I had just enough so it was meant to be.

Labeling: Versitranz "Spontaneous Threads".

Lessons Learned: You CAN make a quilt from scraps (not just mini quilts, but a bigger quilt too); especially if you set those parameters (only use scraps/ or adding stash if your scrap collection needs augmentation) and stick to it. Many have taken the "sewing my stash" and "sewing my scraps" challenge for 2015. I know I have, and I meant it to include something significant.

You can also make a back from your stash/ additional scraps. That is my typical modus operandi. But I used my scraps to make the top, so I needed to move on to plan B. Keep in mind, that the back doesn't have to match the front….. You could treat it as 2 fronts if your scrap collection is voluminous enough…… and  since I didn't have any scraps left to cobble a back for this quilt, I opted to use large stash pieces that went together quickly.
I know I have said this before. You can push yourself to create from what you have. You can recut scraps to fit a pattern, or dive in and up the ante by using them as is. You can use all scraps, or curate a color palette that appeals to you or the intended recipient.  And in the end the whole will be greater than the sum of its parts.  Scraps in a bin really aren't doing anything except taking up space even IF they are beloved scraps.  But they can give birth to a quilt. Being reborn into something bigger and whole is definitely better and perhaps equally beloved.

This quilt will be a gift to my father who has a birthday and a holiday celebration worthy of gifts and close enough to cover both.

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!!