Sunday, December 27, 2015

How'd She Do That?

Stardate 2015.361.1

Greetings, Everyone.
Now with the holidays nearly complete, I had a moment to put together a page on how I put those kaleidoscope blocks together.  Several of you inquired of my method - whether it was EPP or not, so I thought I'd put a page together to show you how I made the blocks.  Jump on over to the page called, "How'd She Do That?" and I show you how those blocks came to life.  As I make other blocks that grab a curiosity factor, I'll try to document those as well.  

Hope you're all having fun quilting, sewing, or planning to quilt or sew in the new year. Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Stardate 2015.350.1

No Machine, No Problem!

Taking my sewing machine in for service is no easy task.  Not because it’s difficult to get to the service shop, but more so because I’ll be without my machine and its services for longer than any quilter wants to be without their machine.  But, into the shop it had to go.   Luckily, I always keep some handwork to do.

I picked up an applique quilt I’ve been working on for some time.  I’ve managed to get five blocks done and then stalled out pretty significantly on it (It takes 12 blocks...).  Without my machine, I decided the universe was telling me to get started on another block. 

A couple of finished blocks, including an original flower design (the purple flower).

Applique is slow-going for me as I do the old-fashioned needle-turned applique, but I do love the results!  I find the hardest thing to do in the applique realm is to either turn really sharp points (points like an arrow head) or turning in very sharp points (points like a “V” shape) without the fabric fraying. So, those types of designs always frustrate me and I tend to steer clear of them.  But, for some reason, I dove right in on this one.  Perhaps I just needed a challenge, or perhaps I just didn’t want to “not quilt” for a few weeks while my machine was out for service.  Or, my third option might just be that the red in the quilt felt “holiday-ish” and so it just helped to bring the spirit of the season out. Plus, it's just a cheerful quilt pattern. Regardless of the reason, I’m now trying to get another block finished before I veer off onto another project.

Close up of one of the finished blocks.  I love the flowers in these blocks as they are very playful.

I spotted these blocks in a quilt store in Utah, while traveling there for work, several years ago.  Now, you have to understand that red is not a favorite color of mine; in fact it can wear me out while working with it a lot.  I think it’s just the shear intensity of the color sometimes.  But, when I saw the blocks, I was smitten by them, and, too, knowing what I know about me and the color red, I thought the quilt would be a good challenge for me – force me into that realm of being “uncomfortable” so that I would explore something different.   After all, I probably never would have tried making a quilt with red as the predominate color…

The pattern is from Piece O’Cake quilts and it’s called “Aunt Millie’s Garden”.   I started out buying the “block of the month” fabrics, but then quickly transitioned to my own because I thought the colors I was getting were too muted for the pattern.  So, off on my own I went.
Here's the pattern.
I've seen others complete the quilt - some on a black background, and its very striking.

Because I’m not great at needle-turned applique, I bought the video from Piece O’ Cake Quilts on needle-turned applique.  I’d had a class at a local quilt shop many moons ago, and thought a refresher couldn’t hurt, and I’d probably learn something – maybe a different technique – from the newer video.  The video was very helpful and gave me several new techniques to use one which includes using a wet toothpick to turn some of the sharp points. I’m learning to  tackle those pesky points and do a little better each time I navigate one. 

So, here is Block #6 in the works.

For Block #6, I'm using lines of fabric mainly from Joel Dewberry (mainly Notting Hill)
and a couple fabrics from Pat Bravo. Different, but I think it'll work... 

Having a lot of time between the first five blocks and this one, I realized I’ve chosen very different fabrics than the previous blocks for Block #6, but with the overall design of the quilt, I think it’ll work out okay. I’m plugging along on it but am a bit baffled on what color to make the stems and leaves.  It’ll come…inspiration usually does.  Sometimes it’s in the form of others’ observations…

I’d challenge you to think about what colors, or what patterns are outside your comfort zone, and try to take on that “unfamiliar” path.  You might just open up a new world of creativity for yourself.  I’m going to keep on this red quilt.  It may take me several years to complete (because I’m slow at applique), but I will get it finished.  Have fun with what you decide to tackle outside your comfort zone.  I hope you discover something fantastic!!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Stardate 2015.335.1

One Quilt Challenge Down; Another to Start…

I’m not a huge “quilt challenger” person, but when themes strike me, I like to see if my mind can come up with something. 

Earlier this year (2015), the Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum had a 25th Anniversary Challenge.  The museum, in Golden, Colorado, had its 25th anniversary this year and challenged quilters to encompass 25 years of the things that have influenced them into one, 25” square quilt.  Fifty quilters answered the challenge – quilters from in-state and out-of-state, including me.

Here’s what I came up with.  I titled it, “Pressing Flowers in Newspaper” and it brings together influences from nature, the contemporary (or modern) quilting movement, Ruth B. McDowell (quilt artist extraordinaire), and Dale Chihuly (glass artist, extraordinaire).

The finished quilt.  25" square.

I designed the quilt from a photo I had taken of a sunflower earlier in the summer, and my brain got the idea from the way I’d photographed a Chihuly sculpture at one of his exhibits at the Denver Botanical Gardens.
Here's the Dale Chihuly sculpture that I drew inspiration from.


My sketches and notes for the design I ultimately used...

I used the piecing techniques of Ruth B. McDowell to piece the quilt together.  And yes, the circular center of the sunflower is sewn in – not appliqued (her techniques are awesome!).   Here’s the back of the quilt, so you can see all the seams. 

A shot of the back of the quilt before adding the backing.  

My quilt, along with the 49 others, was on display in the museum for half of the summer and the museum auctioned off the donated quilts and the funds went to benefit the museum.  In the end, my quilt was auctioned for $200!  I was surprised and overwhelmed!  I’m quite proud of the quilt and will remember if fondly as it goes to its new owner to enjoy.

Now, off to start on another challenge the museum has in store.  “Patchwork Pundits take on Politics” is the theme of their latest call for entries.  Check it out as it could be fun and interesting.
 Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum

While there to view the 25th Anniversary quilts, the museum had a quilt on display which was made around 1900 called, "Whig's Defeat" and it would have been made by women
The Whig's Defeat quilt. Circa 1900.
who supported the Democratic party at the time as quilting was a way for women of that day and age to express their political affiliation.   My brain stewed on the pattern, and I finally made the connection that I had a similar pattern in a book I’d bought years ago about quilts made by Talula Gilbert Bottoms.  The book, titled, "Family Ties: Old Quilt Patterns from New Cloth" by Nancilu Butler Burdick, includes the pattern, "Lifeboat", which is nearly identical to Whig's Defeat, and the narrative talks about the pattern being popular in the Piedmont area of North Carolina.  Don’t know why it was so exciting for me to make the connection, but it was. I think just making that connection to the past validated that we all carry on a long-standing tradition with our quilts which will continue to carry into the future for other generations to enjoy...

At first, I couldn’t think of an idea for the new challenge. Then, while in the middle of a jog one evening, my brain made a connection and an idea filtered in.  I’m currently trying to piece together an idea for a quilt; trying to put a few puzzle pieces together into a cohesive mass that will say something.  We’ll see how we progress.  Check out the challenge – it’s always fun to challenge the brain and the quilting ideas…

Linking up with Lee at Freshly Pieced...

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Stardate 2015.322

Sometimes, the Bigger, the Better.

Okay, so I’m a PBS nerd.  Yep, I have always liked watching the “how-to” shows on PBS, and I still watch Sewing with Nancy which airs on PBS.  With some of my graphic design background, I also very much love BOLD statements in the quilting world.  So, when I saw an episode of Sewing with Nancy where she showed you how to sew grand Dresdens, I was hooked.  I’d always loved the Dresden block, but had never seen any on such a large scale.  I bought the template and am finally getting a project going that I’ve had years in the making – in my mind. 

Enter in the grand Dresden that will become a Christmas Tree skirt this year.  Yeah!  I’ve only gone many multiple years without having a real Christmas Tree skirt, so, now’s the time to make it happen... 

I selected some holiday fabrics from my stash, and started sewing strips together to build the Dresden.  These fabrics are from various collections which caught my eye over the years, including Jason Yenter fabrics as well as Hoffman and others.  Plus, I had just recently ordered a Kate Spain holiday white/cream fabric, and it was the perfect accompaniment to the other holiday fabrics.
So, here we go.  The strips were all sewn together with ease, on hopes that the cutting would be a breeze. 

With the oversized template in hand, the organized mayhem began.  Cutting, cutting, and cutting away, soon I had enough fabric pies to play. 

Up on the board, organized they went; soon to be sewn together with such reverence.

Assembled in a circle, ready for more, I sandwiched the lot and began to explore.  How to quilt, how to quilt, my brain did ponder.  Doodling and thinking, until an idea came yonder.  Feathers, I said, to highlight the white; straight lines to emulate beams lighting up the night.  Off I went to free motion quilt frenzy, when to what to my wondering eyes did appear, but grand feathers and style that made me grin from ear-to-ear.

Almost finished; I may beat the Christmas rush, and under the tree it shall go.  For an improperly dressed tree, I shall no longer be known.  ** Grin**

Have fun as the holidays approach. Enjoy !

And, now, just some quick narrative on some of the specifics ~ 
I used double the batting here to make the feathers stand out a bit more and to give the skirt a bit more body.  I marked the vein on the feathers, and then I free motion the feathers by "eyeballing" the space.  I still have to quilt the straight lines in the colored pie pieces, and then add the binding and I'll be done.  All my free motion quilting is done on my Janome 6600 machine.  It's a workhorse!  

See you next time...

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Stardate 2015:314
Kaleidoscopes are Cool!

I love Paula Nadelstern’s kaleidoscopes, but since I’m not quite at that level, I resort to the smaller venue.  A simple pattern from BH&G American Patchwork & Quilting magazine gave me the inspiration I needed to create a simple quilt of kaleidoscopes by fussy cutting fabric.  This is really fun to do – as I’ve notice many other quilter’s blog posts showing similar compositions. 

Here’s my rendition.  What's really challenging is selecting the right center to go with the five points of the block.  Some I got dead-on, where you can hardly tell the center is a different piece of fabric.  Others, I wasn't so good at, but they still turned out nicely.

I pieced these by hand (I do a lot of that while watching hockey in the evenings – GO AVs!), and I just about have them ready to set together.  Now, my work will focus on trying to get the placing of all the various colors distributed nicely in the quilt.

Do you have favorites of quilt pieces you make?  I do, and I feel like it’s my nature to put those in the center of the quilt.  I read somewhere, a while ago, that we should put our favorite blocks on the edge of the quilt since quilts often times are folded and draped over chairs and such.  The theory being, when the quilt is folded, your favorite blocks are in full view where you can enjoy them.  Definitely an interesting theory.  We’ll see how it plays out as I determine the placement of the blocks. 

Monday, November 9, 2015


Stardate 2015.313
Greetings…and welcome to my blog.  Clearly, it’s in its infancy, so I’ll start with the basics.

I am a quilter (boy, it feels good to say that…).

I started many moons ago, and by my math, that means 30+ years I’ve been making some level of quilts.  I’d say I’m more of a traditional quilter, starting off with hand piecing and hand quilting traditional patterns.  My grandmother quilted and I started by putting together quilt tops with the blocks she had left behind (she passed away before I knew her).  I quickly caught the bug and over the years have searched for patterns that challenge me in learning quilting techniques.
I’m moving away from super-traditional quilts, leaning more towards modern and contemporary quilting, but still holding strong to some of those traditional patterns.  I’ve learned to use my Janome 6600 sewing machine for piecing and even free-motion quilting, because I knew my hands wouldn’t forever let me do all the handwork.  So, luckily technology has lent me some assistance, although, I still do some hand piecing and quilting; it’s just more for specific quilts.

So, if I had to categorize my style, I’d say it’s “transitional”, meaning, I still love some of the old patterns, but like to see them in a different, maybe more modern, light.

I’m hoping to show what I’m working on, all the while hoping to offer tips and tricks that I’ve learned over the years and to share different things happening in the world of quilting.  It’s a vast world, so I’ll not even profess to cover it all…but I’ll share what I find interesting and exciting.  I’ll also include links to some of my favorite sites and posts on those sites – after all, when you find a good tutorial, why reinvent the wheel?  

Thanks for joining me on my quilting journey.  Let’s see where we can go…