Friday, April 17, 2015

Marsala 2015, Big and little

2015 Pantone Quilt Challenge: Marsala

I'm not one to pass up a challenge and in a color that I'm comfortable with.
So comfortable that while creating, I generated scraps for another….
3 Marsala projets, 1 Big, 1 little, one still a WIP
Here goes…..

The  {big} QUILT

"Chihuly Days and Nights"

Size: 66 x 52"
Fabrics: Top all Kona 100% cotton solid scraps in: Cinnamon, Cocoa, Crimson, Brick, Garnet, Burgundy, Mahogany, Paprika, Curry, Lagoon, Aqua, Pomegranate, Chinese Red, Glacier, Tangerine, Flame, Nightfall, Prussian, Cyan, Turquoise, Ocean, Surf, Caribbean, Mediterranean.
             Back: see top- pieced from scraps, playing with the day/night theme as well.
Batting: 100% warm and Natural
Thread: Top (Auriful 50 wt 100% cotton in 2460, Superior Metallics in Red #N62, Bronze #N59 and 
                     Copper #N56)
             Bobbin (Aurifil 50 wt 100% cotton in 2460)
Binding: 2" pieced straight of grain
Quilting: Bernina modified stitch No. 4 stretched and widened, walking foot.

Quilting adds texture
Derived Inspiration: The Chihuly exhibit at the Denver Botanic Gardens was a feast for the eyes and I visited it three times, both during the day and at night. The colors, shapes and patterns really made an impression on me.
front improv piecing details

back details
I purposely kept the quilting textural since the piecing is busy. I used "Marsala" as the negative space and the canvas to showcase the improv pieced quilt blocks. I drew again from a 2014 bias and added gradations of Superior Metallic threads in 3 colors to one side of the quilt. The binding is pieced, but subtle. Again, like the quilting a cohesive component but not what the eye stops on. I wanted the "blocks" to remind me of the exhibit during both daylight and evening hours and hope that I achieved that when all was said and done. 
Details, small improv triangles  at quilts edge and a detail of the wavy quilting

Which then brings me to the second of my Pantone Color of the year entries…….

The {little} Quilt/Pillow

"Storm Coming"
18 x 18" square
Fabrics: remnant scraps from "Chihuly" quilt above
Densely FMQ changing threads to match the Kona fabrics, Aurifil threads in multiple colors, Superior metallic thread in a blue/peacock. 
FMQ, metallic threads in blue/peacock at top

more FMQ, each section quilted differently.

2" straight of grain binding in a colorful stripe
Fusible batting
Couch sitting (it is a pillow after all)

And the FINAL Marsala Project, I promise, a work in progress from an amazing talented group of Bee Sewcial Quilters- I'll give you the basics, pretty much just the top, as there is way more to come on this quilt, so much so, I don't even have a name yet…..
Bee Sewcial- January quilt top
62" x 68"
This will be mine to keep, as January was my month. The inspiration, once again was the Chihuly exhibit at the Denver Botanic Gardens. The talented ladies of this group were asked to work within a color palette and with a set of photos for inspiration. Improv was the "flavor" of the month and everyone worked from solid fabric from their stash.
closer view

Miraculously enough, and even with all the crazy "Y" seams  and oddly shaped "blocks", I only had a minimal amount of trimmings.

 I used every bit and piece made for me by these talented ladies.

a block from Hillary scraps and a few extras

 Let me introduce the group: Leanne (shecanquilt), Debbie (aquilterstable), Hillary (entropyalwayswins), Kari (quiltsforthemaking/crafthappy), Melissa (weshallsew), Latifah (latifahsaffirstudio), Felicity (felicityquilts), Diane (randomthoughtsdoordi), Marci (marcigirldesigns) and Me!

Did I mention I like Marsala????

I am linking this blog post to Adrianne On the Windy Side and Play-Crafts  for the Pantone Color of the Year Quilt Challenge. Please visit and see all the wonderful and creative Marsala quilts, big and small! Pictures on Flickr and IG (#pantonequilt2015) as well.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Happy Birthday Bob!

My father in law turns 80 in a few days. He's a great guy and most deserving of his own quilt. Actually a quilt is not nearly enough of a thank you for all he has done for me, but it's what I do best and I want him to have one. I didn't make a giant quilt. This one is for him alone. He can use it while siting in "his chair" or even bring it to his favorite foot ball (CU) or field hockey (East HS) games. I want it to be a quilt that travels with Bob. His favorite colors are not necessarily my favorite colors but they did make a pleasing mix to work with and it's what he likes.

Palette: Tan/cream/2 tones of gray/ navy. I used Cotton&Steel fabrics and their complimentary solids and did some improv with a quarter log cabin "theme" more or less. I snuck in a bit of metallic and linen and quilted it all with a light tan cotton thread. Understated,  timelessly classy with a surprise here and there. Just like Bob.

"Four score"

60 x 60"
Fabrics (top): Cotton&Steel:
             (back): longyi in 100% cotton plaid. Remnants of Cotton&Steel from the top.
Thread: Aurifil #  50 weight 100% cotton (matched top and bobbin)
Batting" 100% cotton warm and natural
Binding: 2" straight of grain
the binding and the quilting

Quilting: Modified Bernina #4 stitch stretched 5 x  quilted on my 820 with a differential feed foot.

pinned basted and ready to go quilting

New: The backing plaid fabric comes from Myanmar. It's from a traditional longyi and was purchased by Bob on a recent trip. I thought it would be a nice reminder for him to have on his quilt. I washed and pressed the fabric prior to use just in case it was prone to shrinking. It's a loose weave and incredibly soft. The simple understated plaid is not unlike some of Bob's casual shirts and it was almost big enough to cover the entire back.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Marching ahead

The month of March was busy.
Got my groove on in some fun and fascinating Bees:
Bee Sewcial- Transparency was the theme this month for Melissa at weshallsew.
I found that I like transparency although when you layer yellow and blue Kona solids, do you get green or darker blue? Whatever, I did sketch both blocks (not my usual plan of attack and found that it was fun to fit within Melissa's guidelines for one 14" block and one 9" block.
I ripped this out 2 x before I got the look I wanted. Totally worth it.

I'm demonstrating my poor math skills. Getting real…..
I did fix my mathematical problem
 and finished with 2 blocks that I must say, made me want to get right back into this whole transparency theme.

Birthday Bandy Swap this month was for Lizzie (agalinsweden). I went with 2 suggestions from the birthday girl and made a round 20.5" table "runner" or topper in mustard and aqua (and cream). The design was a tester for the X-Factor swap which is Drunkards path for this round. I purchased some Drunkards path Loc Bloc's and thought I'd give them a try. They worked like a dream. I added a bit of improv and some dense FMQ and viola!


 I found the binding a bit challenging, and had a waited a bit longer might have found this tutorial from        S.O.T.A.K handmade most helpful. But my gift was in mail before this helpful tutorial. I made it work. I like what I made.  I went to town with the FMQ and I hope Lizzie likes it.
Close-up FMQ

More FMQ

I also included a few little surprises just for the birthday girl one with a nod to her love of photography, but I'll let her have that surprise privately.

Haven (do.good stitches). Blocks designed by Courtney (courtypie/ monpetitlyons). Pretty and quick and lovely for spring. My stash leans heavily away from florals, but I found some fabric that worked. The quilt will be scrappy so these should fit right in.

I also gave an small tutorial at my local guild on inset seams. If you missed it you can find it here.  The title is catchy if nothing else.
Taught some at Fabricate Boulder, received all my quilts from QuiltCon and started working with some fun new fabric. I got my Riley Blake MQG challenge fabric in the mail. I currently do not have a plan. I need to get one.

I finished 3 quilts (late February and March) and have been sharing bits on IG. Finished quilt photos and stories here soon.
One is for my father-in-laws 80th birthday in his colors (translated = not my colors; BUT I did love working with that palette).
One for the 2015 Pantone Color of the Year (Marsala) Challenge.
One is a test quilt using some fun new fabric, more metallic threads and color play.

In addition, I'll be popping in occasionally at the Denver Art Museum on Sunday Afternoon for the  SewFA Lounge @ the DAM Thread Studio 12:30 till 3:30 pm. If you are at the museum, please come and say Hi. I'll be on the 6th floor, Textiles Thread Studio.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

More scrappy goodness- a prelude and an ode to QuiltCon 2015

Although come and gone, I busted out the scraps again and again in the days leading up to QuiltCon 2015.

Made a few lanyards. I missed out on the swap, since I decided to attend late, but that didn't stop me from going to the solid scraps and some special scraps ( vintage Japanese Kimono silks) to make 2. And like I couldn't help myself I quilted both densely with metallic thread from Superior Threads. I can't say enough about how pleased I am to have given metallics another try.

Made some QuiltCon buttons which were well received. I gifted most and traded a few. Each was unique and most had a bit of sparkle compliments of some awesome Superior metallic threads. (I'm sensing a trend here).

I didn't make a tote or a duffle but I did sew some clothes, and not from scraps. I liked the top well enough that I made it in 3 different fabrics.  A pinstripe white and black (with a bit of sparkle), a Vera Wang lawn shirting in mustard and gray and getting a little fancy,  a navy blue and cream constructed from  3 different Cotton and Steel  fabrics pieced to showcase the back detailing. I visited the Cotton & Steel booth at QuiltCon


with Aexia Abegg (@alexiastitches on IG)
look at her pockets!!! This is her fabric.
The pattern- "A little something Xtra" (custom fit from the standard tissue paper pattern) by Dana Marie design co. Can be made in three lengths (top/tunic/dress). I like the tunic length with skinny jeans. I do plan to make the dress as well.

Met lots of talented friends from the world over

Deb Trail, Rachael McCormack and me at early morning coffee
(you can find Deb @deb_trail and Rachael @rachelwoodenspoon on IG)
Christine @ccpquilts, Kathryn @kupitis, me and Teresa @Treelotta in front of
 Kathryn's Michael Miller Challenge Quilt

Susan @susansantistevan, Christine, Teresa, me, Kathryn in front of my
Colorado 4x4 Quilt sent from the International Quilt festival MQG special exhibit - Houston to Austin
compliments of the Modern Quilt Guild

"Fade to Gray" at QuiltCon, 2015
I promise it will be coming back to Denver after  being gone for almost a year.

While at QuiltCon, besides meeting friends,  and marveling at all the creativity, I won a ribbon.
"Read between the lines"
3rd place ribbon for use of negative space.
Since many have been sharing judging comments about their quilts, I will as well:
"Good play of dimensions. Quilting is great and compliments design; great attention to detail, especially in binding; good use of negative space; dark fabrics shadowing under light".  I love that note was made of the binding since it took a bit of encouragement and more than a few tries to get that to work. Seemed like such a minor detail at the time and yet to took a major effort to pull it off. I did go back and look for the fabric shadowing and well…. I guess no matter what if you put bright pinky oranges and dark grays under lighter (almost white) fabrics you will see that now and again. I'd liked to say that there was something I could do to make that better, but even trimming the seam allowances doesn't always solve the problem. It's not blatant and if it's the one thing the judge chose to point out I can live with that.

Because all the quilts are amazing, and professional photos are just better,  you can see them all, here.

Lastly,  sometimes you have to escape quilts and find another medium to work in,

A visit to the Modern Art Museum.
Wonder what the MQG might say about this for their new logo?
Transparency paper on a light box.

Thank you to all the lovelies who made these memories with me! Friends new and old. It made the days more special, sharing them with all of you! I know we all left with ideas galore. I look forward to seeing what monkey business you all get yourselves into!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

How do you feel about a little stripping?

I'm being a tease, but I bet  that peaked your interest. Read on brave quilter because we are going to talk about inset seams. 
Inset seaming is a technique I’ve adapted and applied to quilting but it originates from a couture sewing technique used to place delicate thin strips of fragile lace/ other delicate fabrics into garments such as lingerie and special occasion wear.

Inset seaming in quilting allows you to place very thin strips of fabric into a larger piece of fabric (or pieced quilt top). Once you get comfortable with this technique you can inset fabric strips of 1/8th of an inch wide (sometimes even less as you get better).  
Read between the Lines- 3rd place use of Negative Space
 at QuiltCon 2015- Austin, TX
The inset seams are seem here as thin colorful straight lines in the quilt top. 

Tools of the trade
some of the supplies you will need

You will need the following to tackle inset seams:

Patience and a desire to try something new and maybe even a bit scary.
Sewing machine and basic sewing supplies
Coordinating thread (or contrasting thread for the basting - see Step 10 below)
Fabric (background) This is what you will set the seam into
Fabric (inset) This is the fabric you will inset. 
Inset straight seams: cut strips 1” x WOF
Inset curved seams : cut strips on the BIAS 1” wide
Rotary cutter/cutting mat
seam ripper (very important)
washable glue stick
Machine sewing feet
1/4” foot
zipper foot
standard straight stitch foot
Ruler (preferably 18” long)
*iron/ironing board/ spray bottle of water/starch

Before you begin
Iron all fabric being careful not to stretch bias strips

Step 1: On your ironing board, fold your background fabric over, right sides together, and iron a crisp seam. (If you are working on a finished quilt top and insetting seams after piecing, I suggest you plan your fold on a flat surface and pin, then take this to your ironing board to set the seam).


Step 2: Take this fabric to your sewing machine. With your straight stitch selected, choose the longest stitch length. 
choose a long stitch length

Keeping the pressed folded over seam directly to your right, and using your 1/4” foot, sew the length of your pressed fabric.
fold immediately to the right 

*If you are insetting your seam into an already pieced top, use your standard straight stitch foot to sew the seam. You are likely to encounter some of your pieced seams and having slightly more fabric to work with helps greatly. Trust me, I know this.

Step 3: Take the fabric to your cutting surface and using a rotary cutter and a ruler barely cut of the folded edge of your pressed seam. If you have never cut  into a pieced quilt top, this part is scary. I suggest you practice first with something not quite so precious, even though I did not follow my own advice when first attempting inset seaming, I did learn (the hard way) that  it’s critical to use your standard foot in an already pieced top and equally important to conserve fabric so be very stingy cutting the folded edge open. 
be stingy cutting off the fold

I'm serious about the skimpy trimming

Step 4: Press your seam open. On already pieced tops, using a bit of spritzed water or starch will make your task easier.
seam ironed open

Step 5: Take your fabric back to your cutting board and place it seam side up. 

Step 6: Use your washable glue stick, or preferred method of glue basting to run a line of glue on the pressed open pieces of the seam allowance. Try and keep glue out of the center basted seam. 

For straight inset seams: Using your 1” straight of grain inset fabric, place right side down onto the glue trying to evenly distribute the fabric strip across the pressed seam.
For curved inset seams: Using your bias cut 1” fabric strip, place right side down onto the glue gently following the curve and trying to evenly distribute the fabric strip across the pressed seam.
fabric inset strip right side down on glued seam allowance

Step 7: iron fabric strip in place to set glue.

Step 8:  Back at your machine and working as gently as possible, lift one side of the pressed open seam/glued inset strip away from the background fabric.  Unless you have been neurotic with your gluing some of it will be stuck. Once lifted away, you should be looking at one side of the basting stitch from step 2.  Place your fabrics onto your machine with the basting stitch to your left and the glued inset/background fabric cut edge to your right. Set your machine to your standard stitch length (I can't tell you how many time I have forgotten to do this), making any needle adjustments for your zipper foot and stitch as close as possible to the basted seam.
Reset your stitch length, reset your stitch length, reset your stitch length

 (The distance you now stitch  from the basted seam dictates the width of your inset seam. Some machines allow side needle adjustment so that you can be consistent every time with your seams and get very small inset pieces.)
you can just see the basting stitch to the immediate left of the zipper foot (The glues is  a bit of a give away)

Step 9: repeat step 8 from the other side.

Step 10: Using your seam ripper and working from the top( right side) of the background fabric, rip out the basted stitch seam. Yes, there is glue in the seam. Yes, I know you don't like seam ripping. Yes, it's a lot of sewing for one little seam. I will however give you a little hint:  you might consider using a contrasting thread for the basting if you have trouble with ripping seams of closely matched thread/fabric. It does require threading and  then retreading your machine before step 8, but for some it makes this step a bit easier. And you only have to replace the top thread if you don't want to baste top and bobbin in a contrasting color. Even little bits help sometimes. 

Step 11: Take your fabric back to your ironing board. Mist the set in seam. Using a hot iron and a leap of faith,  gently pull the seam and glue apart and iron open. 
There will be bits of glue and tread stuck in the basted seam. Gently pick out the tread and after you are all done,  once your quilt is all pieced and quilted, wash your quilt and the glue will go away,
 until then pretend it's not there.. 

Step 12: At this point (after ironing and admiring you can trim the excess inset fabric from the back if you prefer. As you can see from the picture above the fabric shows through. So for some color combinations it is a good idea. Just be very careful when trimming.
trimming from behind, be careful not to cut top 

Step 13: Repeat as necessary, then  pat yourself on the back for a job well done.

With an inset seaming skill base  securely under your belt, there are several variations that can be done with very little adjustment.
  1. inset cording 
  2. inset flanges
  3. inset curved bias seams
  4. inset binding (peek below)
Because the inset seams are so striking I continued the visual impact through into the binding. I thank Christine (ccpquilt) for the show of support and great insight on working the binding with such tiny seams. 

Have fun with your new found skills!!!
Hopefully as I have projects that demonstrate the above variations I will blog about them here!