Atomic Sunflower

This started as an experiment with some leftover fabric, then sort of wandered off into an art quilt for the International Quilt Museum’s “Modern Meets Modern” challenge.

The fabrics are scraps of Michael Miller Cotton Couture left from another project. I saved them as a group because I particularly like the color combination. I started cutting the wedges freehand while working on a Cindy Grisdela-inspired project. When I decided to make them into a circle, I found a large platter in my kitchen and traced it because the rim was irregular. I then used reverse applique to set the circle in its background.

My friend Chela helped with input regarding the center design.

When I saw the Modern Meets Modern Challenge, I thought this piece would be a good fit, so I finished it up after Christmas, just in time to submit it. You can see the contest and the entries here.

Mine was not judged a winner, but here’s the good news: I agree the winners are better.

In looking at the entries, it’s clear that the better designs go all the way to the edge of the quilt, while mine is isolated in the middle. I’ve noticed this element of design several times over many years. In good modern designs, the design extends to the edge, often with the implication that it goes past the edge. But this time I got so wrapped up in what I was doing that I didn’t think “outside the circle”. 😀

As Nelson Mandela said, “I never lose. I either win or learn.” So, on to the next quilt!

2021 In My Studio

Good morning! I hope everyone enjoyed the holiday, whether religious or secular in nature. Here are most of the projects I’ve done this year:

Magic Kaleidoscope, 30″ x 30″

Practice for Charm Weave, 40″ x 40″

Mill Wheels, 51″ x 51″

Super Simple Squares, 52″ x 52″

Oriana, 47″ x 48″

Rumble In The Jungle, 54″ x 54″

Splendid Stars, 51″ x 53″

Sunrise, 75″ x 50″

HST Stars, 78″ x 53″

Fossil Fern Stars, 59″ x 44″

COVID swap block quilt, 55″ x 72″

Hayden and the bag he made

Fabric bowl, from the Modern Fabric Bowls book

Christmas napkins

And the Japanese Maple in the fall!

Magic Kaleidoscope

I decided to do another stack-n-whack type quilt and call it Magic Kaleidoscope. I made it up as I went along…er, used artistic improvisation in the design, I mean 😀

Here’s the fabric:

And here are the blocks set on point:

The little strips of color on the edges are being auditioned for an inner border.  The yellow won.

When I added a border of the original fabric, I did NOT like the result:

Before ripping off the borders, I took a picture and edited the outer border down smaller.

Still no-go. And BTW, I haven’t even told you all the different things I tried and then ripped out.

So finally I added a second black border and bound it in the same fabric used for the inset. Whew!

The original fabric served as a back.

Quilt Stats

Name: Magic Kaleidoscope

Made by: Me

Pattern: none

Size: 30″ x 30″

Quilted by: me

With A Little Help From My Friends

My blogging friend Mariss recently made a baby quilt and called it “Baby’s First Yoga Mat”, which I thought was a wonderful idea. Not long thereafter I learned that a young friend who is very athletic is expecting a baby, so it seemed I should call her baby’s quilt the same thing.

Her nursery theme is dinosaurs, so off I went to find dinosaur fabric. There wasn’t much to choose from. That surprised me since my grandsons love dinosaurs, but the lady at the quilt store explained that the interest seems to be shifting from dinosaurs to super heros at the moment, so that’s what’s available in children’s fabric. I did find some fabric I liked.

Then another blogging friend, Laura, came to visit and helped me select the solid to go with it.

And finally, my husband helped select the binding.

Here’s the quilt:

I free-motion quilted it in loops and hearts. I used a different stitch from my usual to attach the binding, and I think I like it:

Quilt Stats:

Name: Baby’s First Yoga Mat

Finished size: about 43″ x 43″

Designed and quilted by me, with a little help from my friends 🙂

 

Can This Quilt Be Saved?

Ha! Many, many years ago there was a column in a women’s magazine called, “Can This Marriage Be Saved?” I have no memory of reading the content, but somehow the overly-dramatic title has stuck with me. (I just asked Ms. Google, and I’m not the only one who remembers this: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/can-this-marriage-be-saved_b_58404189e4b0b93e10f8dfdf)

Anyway, in moving I have come across some experimental pieces that I’ve kept. I learned something from each of them, but sometimes what I learned was that a particular piece was not especially attractive!

Well, this didn’t work

The above piece was an experiment after reading a book by Freddy Moran. It’s well made but not especially attractive. For me, the colors don’t “gel” and the prairie points are entirely too regular in their arrangement.

This unquilted piece, approximately 42″ square, is the THIRD attempt to make something with these dotted fabrics! The other versions were no better, but I’ve saved some of the fabric by cutting out circles and using them as applique.

Rescued Dots

I think the “rescue” was pretty successful, and I’ll probably do something similar with the rest of this fabric. So I guess that’s 4 iterations of a design with those dots before finding something successful! 

And then there’s the Stuffed Olive Block. Never mind why I designed it in the first place. I made it into a pillow, but really, we have more than enough pillows. I think it just has to go!

I’m a firm believer that no experience is wasted, so we’ll call it good even if some of these just go out with the trash.

Of course that’s nowhere near all the experimental pieces I came across, but that’s all for now 😀

P.S.: I enjoy seeing “barn quilt” blocks as we travel, but this one struck me as unlikely:

 

 

Woo! The Book I’ve Been Waiting For!

I’m a fan of Cindy Grisdela’s work and have gone through the exercises in her previous book, so I was thrilled when C&T sent me Cindy’s new book for review. Adventures in Improv Quilts covers the basics of design and color, but includes some more complex quilts than her previous book. Some of them remind me of Maria Shell, whose book I also love.

Photo courtesy of C&T

Cindy’s colors are bright and interesting. She often combines colors I wouldn’t have thought to use together, which causes me to look twice at the design. That’s a plus!

Photo courtesy of C&T

The book includes plenty of detail on technique. I was especially amused (and gratified) to learn that part of Cindy’s design process is to outline the size for the quilt with blue tape on her design wall. I’ve done that for years and find it a very effective way to think about filling the space as I design. Validation is always nice!

Photo courtesy of C&T

The book includes a chapter on color choices, which will be welcomed by numerous quilters who worry endlessly about the “right” colors. I choose my palettes intuitively, with better results some times than others, so maybe I should pay more attention? I love the color examples in the book, starting with basic palettes and progressing to the addition of other colors or values to give the project variety.

Photo courtesy of C&T

Cindy then goes on to cover the basic principles of design. These won’t be news to most quilters, but her examples shine. I think I will go back to the “bits” left from working through her previous book and see if I can enhance them by using some of her examples from this book.

Photo courtesy of C&T

My favorite advice in the book: “Don’t fear wasting fabric”! That’s a liberating thought!

My second favorite is one of her tips for free-motion quilting, but I think it could apply to most any part of the process: “If you feel like you’ve made a mistake, keep going. Either ignore it or do it again so it becomes a design element.” I love that! I love this book!

The book is available here, but this is not an affiliate link. C&T sends me books for review, and I tell you about my very favorites among them.

 

Sunrise

Here’s the last finish of August, made of HST (half square triangle) blocks left over from another project.

And here it is held out the window for me to photograph! I thought it would be fun to have my husband stand on the landing half way up the stairs and hold the quilt out the window. And it was fun!

Quilt Stats

Name: Sunrise

Design by: me

Finished size: 50″ x 75″

Quilted by: Julia Madison

And just in case you asked, the quilt isn’t upside down in either picture. It’s ambidirectional–is that even a word?

Eight Years

I’ve now been blogging weekly for 8 years. One of the best things about it is “meeting” people from all over the world and reading about what they are doing. Some of them have been at it even longer than I have, though many of the bloggers I’ve “met” have since quit writing.

Here are my current favorite quilts from each of the years I’ve been blogging.

Rising star art quilt

Rising Star, made for the Quilt Alliance TWENTY contest in 2013

quilt photo

My Zippy Star Quilt and Pillow as shown in Modern Quilts Unlimited, Summer 2014

modern quilt

Happy Squares, designed and made by me, 2015

improvisational quilt

Cherrywood Toss, 2016.

scrap quilt

Scrap quilt made with strips that finish 1″ wide, 2017

Equilateral Triangles, 2018

My “Little Green Man” quilt, June 2019

“Clamshells? Really?” 2020

I’m going to delete many of the older posts since I doubt they are serving any purpose at this time. I have had a book made for each year, as suggested by my friend Linda, so I can always look back at them if I want.

A Preschool Project

Our younger grandson is energetic and curious about everything, and one day he walked over to the sewing machine and said, “I want to see what this does!” He selected some scraps and sewed them together with a little help and a lot of watching to keep his fingers out from under the needle! Luckily, my machine has a speed control so I was able to slow it way down to lessen the risk.

The next time he came to visit, we got out the scraps. He chose everything he liked and we glued the scraps to a piece of paper (8.5″ x 11″, which we used to call “typing paper”!). I didn’t help with selection or placement, only encouraged him to cover the paper completely.

We then went to the sewing machine, where I operated the foot pedal and he guided the fabric-covered paper. He learned how to guide the piece under the foot, and we turned the speed up a little! (Note: If you do this, don’t let the child see where the speed control is!) We used a zigzag stitch to cover the edges more easily, and tried a few other stitches, too.

It took several visits for him to finish the piece with all the edges tacked down. He enjoyed the sewing and was very good at clipping stray threads. I then let him choose a tote bag to which we attached his art quilt 🙂

No, he isn’t old enough to have lost that tooth yet. It was a playground accident!

He was very proud of his creation, though he’s still at that age where kids do the fake smile when they see a camera. The lovey got to ride home in the bag along with a couple of other toys he had brought along.

If you have children who try this, please send me pictures of their creations so I can share.  And have fun!

 

Tessellations again!

In a moment of madness, I agreed to do a program on tessellations for my MQG in Greensboro.  I’ll be posting the same information here so we can all share it and so that these blogs can serve as “handouts” for my presentation.  To start, here’s a blog written by my friend Jean Larson, who has designed and made several award-winning tessellation quilts.  To view some of Jean’s quilts, click HERE.  –MJP

Tessellating designs make me happy.  Tweaking those designs is even more fun.   I want to share the joy of starting with a very, very simple design and watching it blossom.  

Start with a simple gridded block and create a light/dark design.  Here, I’ve started with a 3 x 3 grid.  Then re-color the same block with the lights and darks reversed

.The grid lines are only for design purposes, and each block can be constructed with a single square block with 2 corner triangles attached using any method you prefer.

Here are some design possibilities…Quilt_1A simple “cat head” quilt using only 2 colors.

Different looks can be achieved with variations in the color placement.

Blocks can be inverted and turned for even more quilt designs.

Just imagine all the possibilities with color in these!!!!!

It’s even more complex when you design with a 6×6 grid.  Here are the positive and negative versions of another block.

These blocks can be constructed using half-square triangles integrated with larger fabric pieces.  If these blocks were to finish at 6 inches by 6 inches.  The center column on each block would be a single 3.5 inch wide by 6.5 in long piece of fabric.  The side strips would include some half-square triangles.

A couple of the quilts that can be made:

Looks like spools, some gray, some white, all standing up.  Same quilt with alternate blocks turned a quarter turn yields a different  clearly recognizable tessellation.  Reminds me of tessellating doggie rawhide chews 😉

Now back to the spool quilt from above.  The “thread” areas have been colored in.  No blocks have been turned.

Jean spool 5This shows the power of color and value (lightness and darkness).   The colored part, being next to the gray and being closer in value to the gray, unites those parts of the block, and gives the illusion that we have all gray spools on a white background, some standing up, some lying down.

I hope these examples can be the seeds to sprout some design experimentation with tessellating shapes.

  1. Start with 2 square grids
  2. Create a positive design, and its negative design
  3. Alternate them in a quilt layout
  4. PLAY!
  5. And play more with color!

Happy Quilting (and Designing)!!   –Jean Larson