Cherrywood Toss

This quilt was started about 2 years ago when I bought a scrap pack of Cherrywood hand dyed fabrics. The blocks are entirely from Cherrywood scrap packs plus that cute print with the words on it, which is a Robert Kaufman fabric.

improvisational quiltThe dark sashing is made from black plus little pieces of the darkest almost-black solids I could find. All are Cotton Couture from Michael Miller.

I quilted this on my home machine, using randomly-spaced, gently curving, lines from edge to edge. I used Superior Bottom Line in the bobbin, which I always do. Top thread is a medium grey light weight polyester, Mettler Metrosene.

This is going to the Smoky Mountain Quilters show in September. This year the show is scheduled in conjunction with Western Carolina University’s Mountain Heritage Day, which I think is a great idea. Of course I’ll have pictures from that show when it happens.

Linking to Aunt Marti’s UFO Challenge. I did get one finished this month!

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2014 Projects, Part 2

To continue a review of projects from 2014, the point of this exercise is to get together a gallery page for each year I’ve done this blog.

I made “Drunk in the Garden” both to use this beautiful floral fabric that reminded me of Texas and to practice cutting and piecing gentle curves.

Drunk in the Garden, the original quilt

Drunk in the Garden, the original quilt

Despite the beautiful fabric, the overall design never looked right to me, primarily because the gold fabrics varied too much in value.  I eventually cut this quilt up and made some place mats, which were much more successful.  You can see them here, if you like.

I designed a quilt for the Michael Miller challenge and, though it sank without a trace in the challenge, I liked it.  The design was improvised based on the little scan codes made up of triangles at my local garden center:

Michael Miller challenge quilt

Packet of Posy Seeds

Also in 2014, I designed a quilt and pillow for Modern Quilts Unlimited magazine.  Here is the picture from the magazine:

quilt photo

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

And here is the “practice” quilt I made first to work out the details:

modern quilt

Zippy Star I, which sold at the Asheville Quilt Show in September

As if one Michael Miller challenge weren’t enough, I made this quilt for another later in the year:MM-finish1

And finally, I finished this quilt, which I had been working on for years.  Literally.

Spring Sun, a design by me, using blocks paper pieced from a totally different Judy Niemeyer pattern!

Spring Sun, a design by me, using blocks paper pieced from a totally different Judy Niemeyer pattern

And that was it for 2014!  One thing that is obvious from reviewing some of these pictures is that I have improved my photography since 2014.  For which I’m thankful.

Coming up next: a report from the 2016 Vermont Quilt Festival!

 

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Projects from 2014

As part of my effort to develop galleries for this site, here is a review of my projects from the first half of 2014.

The design and tutorial for this zippered pouch came from Noodlehead.

zippered pouch

I made a series of these little zippered pouches, and they have been useful.

These next two bags were made from a book entitled Ruby Star Wrapping.  You can read my review of the book here, if you want.

I continued my interest in improvisational piecing in 2014, making this confetti block…

improv quilt block

Confetti Block, 2014

…and this entry for the Quilt Alliance annual contest:

modern art quilt

Whirlwind, my 2014 Quilt Alliance challenge quilt

I made this quilt for the Pantone Challenge.  It looks better in person than in this picture, and now is used to decorate one of the rooms at our local free clinic:

Applique quilt

Radiating Orchid, my mini-quilt for the Radiant Orchid Challenge

As always, I made a number of donation quilts for Ronald McDonald House.  I used them to try out a variety of techniques and other experiments:

I made this baby quilt because I loved the fabrics:

baby quilt

Baby Dots–Front

baby quilt

Baby Dots–back.  I may like it even more than the front!

And I participated in several swaps, including one involving these blocks.  Don’t even think about the 88 little pieces in the block on the left!!!

I’ve reached my (self-imposed) length limit for a post, so the rest of the 2014 review will be coming up next week!  Please come back 😉

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The Rest of the Story

Here are the other two quilts I made while doing the Gwen Marston class on iQuilt.

This first one is my version of one of her quilts, and again I made it 12″ x 12″.  I faced it, which I don’t usually do, so that was a learning experience.  I like the way it turned out.Gwen Marston iQuilt class

This second one was made of scraps from the other quilts in the series, which makes me happy.  Marston2

This started as a liberated Roman Stripe design, with a center of 4 larger blocks and a “border” of smaller blocks.  The size of the blocks worked out fine, but the pieces got more and more “liberated” so that I’m not sure it looks much like a Roman Stripe any more.  Which is fine, actually.

I quilted it using a pattern of wandering lines, all in one direction, and I like the result. After considering several threads, I used a thin medium grey polyester.  I think it blended well so that the quilting didn’t obscure the design.  Here’s my “trial” of several threads.Marston1

How do you choose your quilting thread for a project?

More Inspiration

I bought two of Gwen Marston’s books some time ago…

and have been channeling her in my designs for over a year (you can click on the pictures below to see their captions):

Recently I saw that the (relatively) new iQuilt platform had two video classes taught by Gwen Marston.  The class I chose was quite short–a little over 2 hours–and I decided to watch the class over a weekend and make several little quilts using her techniques.

I’d already made a refrigerator quilt in Gwen’s style for an upcoming guild challenge,

art quilt, gwen marston

Refrigerator quilt inspired by Gwen Marston. Bev Manus came up with the idea for refrigerator quilts.

so I decided to make the new quilts 12″ x 12″ as well.  This is a great size for trying new things because there isn’t too much commitment of time or materials.

The first quilt was composed of half square triangle blocks, so I was able to try out the (fairly expensive) Loc Bloc ruler I recently bought to make trimming these blocks to size easier.  The ruler worked great with just a little practice, and I got to practice my machine quilting on the finished quilt.

refrigerator quilt

Quilt Front

Gwen’s instruction was to pair the triangles up into squares just as you picked them up, with the caveat that the pairs should have contrast between the fabrics.  Then the squares were to be sewn together into rows just as they were picked up.  She did allow that it would be OK to lay the rows out and look at them before sewing them together, but advised against spending a lot of time fussing over the exact layout.

Refrigerator Quilt

Quilt Back

I was pleased with this result.  The class doesn’t really cover anything that isn’t in her books, but I was happier watching a little and sewing a little than I am to just sit down and read a book.  I made a couple of other quilts, too, and I’ll show them next week.

 

Refrigerator Quilt

A very artistic quilter in one of my guilds is making a series of “refrigerator quilts” as a challenge to herself. They are 12” x 12” and intended to be displayed on her refrigerator for one week, until she finishes the next one!
The guild took her idea as the challenge for May, so I’ve been making a little refrigerator quilt myself. I took my inspiration from Gwen Marston (again) and made a bunch of little freeform stars.

art quilt, gwen marston

Refrigerator quilt inspired by Gwen Marston. Bev Manus came up with the idea for refrigerator quilts.

The best part is that, because it is small, it was made almost entirely from scraps. I had enough scraps to make all the stars different yellows and all the backgrounds different blues.
The back is a piece of fabric I dyed in a class many years ago.

hand dyed fabric

Quilt back. This was dyed with Setacolor dyes

And I used it to practice my circular quilting.
Done!

Quilt Alliance Contest

Here’s my entry for the 2016 Quilt Alliance contest, “Playing Favorites “. The design is inspired by Gwen Marston’s work, and the piece is titled “Gwen Visits the Farm”. The black fabric has animal sounds printed on it: “peep” etc.

improvisational quilt

“Gwen Visits the Farm”

The “Playing Favorites” theme of the 2016 Quilt Alliance contest is intended to capture a picture of quilting in 2016 by asking contestants to make quilts using their favorite techniques.  I love improvisational quilting, and Gwen Marston was doing it long before anyone thought of the “modern” quilt movement!

In addition to making the quilt in Gwen Marston’s improvisational style, I quilted it using decorative stitches.  I’ve used several of the decorative stitches on my machine for quilting for a long time now.  However, I recently took a Craftsy class in which Jackie Gehring suggested using even more of the decorative stitches.  I think the stitching reflects the state of the art of quilting in 2016, as well.machine quilting

I’ve been thinking for YEARS of doing a series of quilts in the styles of my favorite quilt designers, so this is the first in that series. Please stay tuned!

Layer Cake Quilt

I bought a terrific layer cake was bought a couple of years ago and it has been “waiting”, along with its solid coordinates, for inspiration to strike.

quilting storage

Future projects are stored in boxes…oops, sometimes for years! (Found a nice set of these at Costco.)

Then the other day I decided I wanted to insert strips of the coordinating colors into the squares. As you probably know, a layer cake is a stack of 10″ x 10″ squares. That means fat quarters (18″ x 22″) of solids will work well for insert strips.

I started by sorting the layer cake squares into stacks with the solids I wanted to use with them.

layer cake quilt

Layer Cake and Coordinates

Then I cut strips of various widths from the solids.The strips varied from 1″ x 18″ to 2″ x 18″, in 1/4″ increments. I cut a variety of widths from each solid color.

insert strips into quilt blocks

Strips ranging from 1″ to 2″ wide in 1/4″ increments

I had NO idea what I was going to do with these blocks once I got them modified; I just liked cutting them up and inserting strips–it takes very little to entertain some of us 😉 Then I remembered John Cage’s “prepared piano”.   So I called these “prepared fabrics”.

I did the inserts in several ways, still working on this just for fun:

When I looked at my “prepared fabrics” together, it was apparent I wasn’t going to just sew them together along the edges (for several reasons)!Retreat18

So the next step was to go to EQ (Electric Quilt, a computer program for quilt design) and make some designs:

Quilt from layer cake

Option #1. I’ve always loved concentric blocks, and alternating them like this produces a nice design easily.

modern quilt design

Option #2. Concentric blocks off-center are even better!

layer cake quilt design

Option #3. Flying geese are always a lively design element, and I just bought a special ruler for trimming!

modern quilt design

Option #4: I haven’t done anything with gentle curves for a while. These look like flags to me.

What do you think?  Anybody have a strong preference for one of these designs?  Whatever I do, I think it will be fun to see how the inserted strips turn out in the final design 🙂

 

Only as Good as Your Last Quilt?

There’s a cynical phrase, common in professional sports, that is used often in other arenas as well: You’re only as good as your last game. It’s a commentary on public opinion. Unfortunately, there’s a corollary in our everyday judgments of ourselves.

Michael Miller Challenge 2013

This little quilt, “Packet of Posy Seeds”, did NOT win anything.

One of the modern guilds I belong to had an interesting discussion last meeting about which quilts are selected for QuiltCon, and why.  We pretty much all agreed that the show is used to further the MQG’s own definition of modern quilting rather than to reveal the depth and breadth of the modern quilt movement.

modern quilt

This little quilt was published, along with an article I wrote

So, am I a good quilter because my quilt was juried into an AQS show? Or a poor quilter because SEVERAL quilts were rejected for a QuiltCon show? A good quilter because I’ve designed quilts that were published?  Or a bad quilter because every magazine doesn’t love every one of my proposals?  There’s a temptation to feel great when a quilt wins a prize and to feel a bit down when one is rejected.  But does that make sense?

modern quilt

Happy Squares, designed and made by me. I love it, but nobody wants to publish the pattern.

Of course there are some “competitive quilters”, but most of us quilt because we enjoy it. My quilts are made to please myself, not to please other people.  Even when I make a quilt for a challenge or show, I make it the way I want it, and I expect that is true for most people.  I doubt that quilting is a road to fame and fortune for most of us, and that’s fine.

Modern Quilts Unlimited magazine

Zippy Star quilt for Modern Quilts Unlimited. I won a contest with this design.

So, if QuiltCon didn’t accept my quilt, it is NOT a personal judgment about me, it is a programmatic judgment about where the MQG folks want the definition of modern quilting to go. And if some of my quilts are published or win prizes, that’s dandy, but I still made them to suit myself.

improvisationally pieced quilt

“In Fairyland” has been in 2 shows but won no prizes.

So much of life involves following other people’s rules, sometimes for good reason and sometimes not.  Although I’m a serious quilter, I want to do it by my own rules.  I’ll still submit to shows because I like to see my quilts displayed.  But really, the quilt is an end in itself.

Spring Sun, a design by me, using blocks paper pieced from a totally different Judy Niemeyer pattern!

I designed Spring Sun using blocks paper pieced from a totally different Judy Niemeyer pattern. It was juried into an AQS show.

My friend Melanie has written a couple of posts on why we quilt.  You might enjoy them:

Make Good Art

Saturation Point

Finished Tops!

After much deliberation about layout, I got my Modern Sampler quilt put together last week and sent it off to be quilted.  Here’s the final top:

modern sampler

My Modern Sampler top is ready for quilting!

Then, for good measure, I put together the batik blocks from a swap I was in several years ago and sent that top off to be quilted, as well.

batik quilt blocks

Group batik blocks, put together and ready for quilting

Yes, the sashing DOES vary a bit, because the blocks do.  That’s the way it goes with a block swap.  I love the variety of the blocks and, of course, the batik fabrics.

I’m sending this to Aunt Marti’s UFO challenge, which helps keep me motivated.  What are you up to?