Give It What It Needs

One of my objections to some of the quilting establishment is that every single thing about a quilt is supposed to be “perfect”—meaning made to the specifications of the current quilt maven, whoever (s)he may be.  I once signed up for a series of classes that lead through many quilting techniques to the ULTIMATE QUILTING ACHIEVEMENT: a quilt with many tiny pieces cut on the bias, all points perfectly matched!

I did make some quilts I liked in those classes! Design by Cindy Williams

Part way through the class I realized that, for me, learning to make everything more precise was not an enjoyable activity.  I quilt for my own satisfaction, and my version of fun involves developing designs rather than copying somebody else’s design as precisely as possible.  In fact, even when I buy a pattern, I rarely follow it exactly.  My “variations” on these patterns are a (friendly) joke among my quilting buddies: “Mary can’t just make the pattern, she has to change something.”

modern quilt design

I substituted one large block for 4 of the small ones.  

My goal is to give each task the time and energy it deserves, no more and no less.  For example, I think doing a quilt binding the traditional way, by hand, is a waste of time and energy in many cases.  A machine-applied binding is more durable, faster, and at least as attractive.  I even read one modern quilter’s opinion that a machine binding “adds an extra line of quilting on the back!”  So much for the quilt maven’s worry that the machine stitching from the front shows on the back!  I do occasionally apply a binding by hand, but there has to be a reason for it.

Lombard Street quilt pattern

I applied this binding by hand in the traditional way because I didn’t want machine stitching on the front to “fight” with the striped border

So what’s your opinion?  Which quilting techniques/designs/details are worth the trouble and which should be modified?  Leave me a comment!

Great Aunt Bess’s “Fizzle Drawer” and A Busy Week

I have a number of pieces of antique furniture, as much out of obligation as desire. These belonged to my grandparents, great-grandparents, and in one case to my great-great-grandmother. One of them contains Great Aunt Bess’s “Fizzle Drawer”.

Granny once commented on it, saying that whenever her sister, Bess, had a sewing project that “fizzled”, the project went into that drawer. I’m not sure what happened after that. This would have been in the early part of the 20th Century, but I don’t even know whether the “fizzle” items were clothing or something else.  By the time I inherited the furniture they were long gone!

I think some of my UFOs probably should go in the “fizzle drawer”, but I don’t know when to quit, so I keep working on them.  This next one was a class I did not especially enjoy, but I’ve converted it to 4 large blocks to be combined into a donation quilt.

This next one is not a fizzle, it’s a set of place mats I made for a quick holiday class to teach this fall.  I developed this pattern YEARS ago for McCall’s Quick Quilts and have made many versions of it since.  Place mats are a nice hostess gift to have on hand.

We went to the “apple barn” this weekend and got some apples–must be fall!  Here is the view from the apple barn, looking across some trees heavy with red apples to the mountains beyond.  It doesn’t get any better than that!

How was your week?

Indigo Dying with Debbie Maddy

I recently took a one-day class in Shibori dying with natural indigo, taught by Debbie Maddy. This was part of QuiltFest, put on in Jonesborough, TN, by Tennessee Quilts. It was a good time as usual, and I’ll post more about QuiltFest later.

Indigo Dye

Debbie Maddy–her Shibori dying class was excellent!

Debbie brought many beautiful examples of Shibori dying with her.

In addition to the class, she gave a lecture about her adventures with Shibori.  To hear her tell it, she became interested in Shibori and immediately signed herself and her husband up for a 10 day Shibori class in Japan!  I can’t even imagine!

She gave us an introduction to how indigo is used for dying in various places around the world, then showed us how to mix the dye vats and prepare the cloth.Indigo dye vat

As always, the most fun was seeing everyone’s fabrics drying on the line!Shibori dyed fabric

Here are a few more examples made by students.  I’m sorry to say I didn’t get their names.

When we got home, we had to neutralize the dye in a vinegar bath and then remove excess dye with pH neutral detergent in hot water.finishing indigo dyed pieces

And here are my finished pieces:indigo dye

More about Quiltfest in future!  Stay tuned 🙂

Classes Coming

I recently started teaching at A Stitch in Time in Franklin, NC. It’s as “local” as quilt shops get for me in this rural area, so I’m very happy to be able to teach there. It’s an excellent shop and I sort of have to work to avoid drooling on the fabric…well, you know what I mean 😉

So here is the quilt I will be teaching in July…

scrap quilt

Scrap quilt made with strips that finish 1″ wide

August…

“Red Pepper” is made from a quilt pattern entitled “Yellow Pepper”

And September…

modern quilt

Happy Squares, one of my original designs

Of course, while I was in the shop I got a little fabric!  This is a specially-printed piece from Hoffman California that has 8 coordinating fat quarters in a 2 yard cut!

There were other nice prints in the series, but I’m a fool for dots.  If you need some, too, you can order from A Stitch in Time (and no, I do not make any money from it; this site is non-commercial).

Have a great week!

 

Fun with Rickrack

Or ricrac, or rick rack, whatever. I found a lot of spellings when I was trying to decide!

This fun way to piece curves was part of a class I taught this past weekend, and it was so cute in the blocks the students made that I just had to do a tutorial.

We were piecing quarter circles as part of my quilt YOW, which you’ve already seen:

So here is a partially assembled block with one curved seam left to go:curved piecing tutorial

Select rickrack and lay it along the edge of the convex piece.  Probably would work with the concave piece, too, but I haven’t tried that:rickrack curved piecingSew the rickrack down with the usual 1/4 inch seam

Now turn the raw edge and attached rickrack to the back along the 1/4 inch seam and press.  Here’s the front:tutorial use rickrack in quilts

And here’s the back:curved piecing tutorial

Lay the convex piece on top of the concave piece and line up the edges.

Flip over and try to line up the raw edges all along the seam on the back.applique curved blocks

Applique the convex piece to the concave piece by stitching in the ditch.  I used silver metallic thread just for fun, but matching thread works well, of course.  And here’s the finished block.applicurve

Sort of modern-retro.  Go try it!

Classes Coming Up

I’ll be teaching two classes at Studio Stitch in Greensboro, NC, this coming quarter.

First is a “Secret Message Pillow”. Go by the shop to see the sample and sign up!  That class will be the morning of Saturday, January 27, which means the pillow will be finished in time for Valentine’s Day.

scrap quilt

Scrap quilt made with strips that finish 1″ wide

Second, I’m teaching a scrap management class that will show several ways to use even small scraps to make beautiful quilts. I call it scrap management because that’s what most of us need: management of the scraps. One option is shown above.  That class will be March 24 and we will have all day to play with our scraps.

All you need to bring is the basket (dump truck load?) of scraps that have been accumulating in your studio.  Sign up at the shop and come have fun!

Done, and Done!

Recently I taught Seminole Patchwork at Studio Stitch in Greensboro. The strips were successfully made…seminole patchwork

and one place mat per student assembled, basted, quilted, and ready for binding!seminole patchwork placemat

I particularly liked this one made with Mode Grunge fabric.

AND the Gypsy Wife top is finished.  I am truly done with that project. Off to the quilter it goes.Gypsy wife quilt top

Hope you had a successful September, too!

A Little Quilt Show

Quiltfest, in Jonesborough, Tennessee, is accompanied by a little quilt show of things done by the teachers and the shop owners.  Naturally, I took a few pictures 🙂  Here are some of my favorites:

Quiltfest

Clam Shell, a Judy Niemeyer pattern made by Louise Amos

Scrap quilt

 Detail shot.  This quit was at least queen size, and the little HST squares finish less than an inch!

Cinco de Mayo, made by Renny Jaeger; pattern by Karen K Stone

Quiltfest

Quilt by Shannon Shirley. The blocks are TINY and the baskets have tiny chain-stitched handles. See detail view below

Detail of quilt by Shannon Shirley

Lobster Stew, by Nancy Mahoney

Quiltfest is 3 days of classes and other programs held in Jonesborough, TN every July.  So, who’s coming to Quiltfest with me next year?

A Little Quilt

Finished the smallest size (41″ x 35″) Lombard Street pattern and I’m about to send it to Studio Stitch, where I’ll be teaching the class. The triangles are all dots, though not polka dots!Lombard Street quilt pattern
I quilted this on my home machine, just following the zigzags in the background, and it worked just fine.Lombard Street quilt pattern
And the backing is a fun fabric I found on the sale rack at Studio Stitch last time I taught there! Win!triangle quilt

I’m teaching this as an introduction to modern paper piecing, of which it’s a great example.  Paper piecing makes it easy to get all those nice sharp points, and the arrangement of blocks makes people wonder, “How did she DO that???”  It’s always fun to keep people guessing 🙂

Teaching Paper Piecing and Seminole Patchwork

This next quarter I will be teaching two classes at Studio Stitch in Greensboro (NC). The last class there was a lot of fun, so I’m really looking forward to these.

The first class, on Friday, August 11, will be a modern paper piecing project using the Lombard Street Pattern from Sassafras designs.  Here is my version, which you’ve seen before.  The pattern comes in 3 sizes, so I’m going to make a smaller one as well, just for fun.

Quilt pattern review

“Amish on Lombard Street”, my quilt made from a Sassafras Lane pattern

The second class will be Friday, September 15.  We’ll be making place mats using linen (if desired) and decorative strips of Seminole patchwork.  Here’s the class sample, though I’m making another set using a variety of patchwork patterns.

Seminole Patchwork

Seminole Patchwork Place Mat using a linen blend for the main fabric

If you’re in the Greensboro area, please come join us. You can find Studio Stitch online (click the name) or come by the shop at 3215 B Battleground Ave, Greensboro, NC.