A Tale of Many Dots

A couple of years ago I bought this fabric because I really liked it:

Since it was pre-printed fat quarters (FQs), I planned to use it in a pattern designed for FQs.  I added a couple of fabrics that I thought went well with it.  Until I saw it sewn together:

I didn’t like the quilt top once I got it made, so I took out every single seam and set the pieces aside to think about.

I took out the fabrics I had added, thinking perhaps they were the problem.  That helped a little.  However, I decided the dots needed some solid mixed with them.  I took them on a shopping trip with friends and we selected a nice red-orange to mix with them.  Then I re-made the quilt including some of the red-orange.

I still didn’t like it.  And call me lazy if you like, but I was not going to take those pieces apart again!  So, with a what-the-heck attitude, I cut the new top up into circles (big dots!) using my dinner and salad plates as templates.

I pinned various potential backgrounds on the design wall and tried them out.

I think some variation of this is going to be the final design.  Maybe not the greatest ever, but nobody died, so I’m moving on!

Teaching Quilt As You Go

I recently had the privilege of teaching Quilt-As-You-Go (QAYG) techniques to a nice bunch of quilters at Studio Stitch in Greensboro.  Here’s the summary:

Georgia Bonesteel’s QAYG method is the first one I learned, many years ago.  I brought along a queen-sized quilt I made using the method to show.  I demonstrated QAYG this way, and we all agreed to go on to something easier!

I made this Jewel Box quilt many years ago using Georgia Bonesteel’s QAYG method

Marti Michell’s method for quilting 1/3 of a large quilt at a time seems much easier and I demonstrated it.  You can find out more about it from her book Machine Quilting in Sections or from her demos on YouTube.

The class sample used another common QAYG method, constructing the blocks and quilting them at the same time.

The class was structured so that students could make the class sample if they wanted, or could bring any pattern they chose.  Three people brought other patterns and we worked out how to use those with the QAYG method.  Everyone made a lot of progress on a quilt during class!

Two quilters brought fairly complex patterns and got a good start on their blocks:

One quilter wanted to learn QAYG so she could do something with a group of blocks she inherited:

A couple of quilters brought scraps from dresses they had made for their children back when they were little:

And one quilter brought a jelly roll and coordinating fabric, enabling her to make rapid progress toward her own version of the class sample quilt:

If you want more information about the class sample shown above, the post about it is here.

Linda Hahn: New York Beauty Expert (from Florida)

Linda Hahn is best know for her simplified method of making the New York Beauty block, one of quilting’s more elaborate and spectacular-looking designs.  She describes her New York Beauty method as, “one pin, no puckers, no cussing, and they come out perfect.”  Gotta love that!

Linda’s First New York Beauty Book

Linda also has a number of lovely individual patterns, including some that have nothing to do with New York Beauty. (Her patterns are available through QuiltWoman.com)  I have enjoyed making and teaching her Bermuda Sunrise pattern, so I looked her up while at the North Carolina Quilt Symposium, and she graciously agreed to an interview.

Bermuda Sunrise, one of Linda’s earlier designs that I enjoyed making and teaching

Linda’s workshops now focus mostly on her New York Beauty techniques, since this is a challenging block that many quilters would like to make.  Currently her most popular workshop is called “Feeling Crabby”.

Linda has written multiple books published by AQS. Her latest, New York Beauty Electrified, is due out this month.

When I interviewed her, Linda took the unusual step of leaving the room for a few minutes so I could ask students in her workshop to give their honest opinions!  They were enthusiastic about her teaching and seemed to be enjoying “Feeling Crabby”.  They described Linda as an even-tempered instructor who “lets you do it your way but comes right away if you need help.”

Image from Linda’s iquilt class

Linda teaches all over the country as well as on cruises, but if you want her workshop and can’t find a convenient location, I noticed her New York Beauty instruction is also available through iquilt, the AQS online class site.

Now that I’ve seen more of her beautiful work and met her, I want to take a New York Beauty class with Linda.  I went to her site, and she really, really, does have classes in a variety of locations!  You can find her schedule on her website.  I have enjoyed her patterns (yes, I’ve made more than just the Bermuda Sunrise!) and look forward to trying those elaborate spiky blocks.

Have you made New York Beauty blocks yet?

Travel Inspires

As my friend Melanie recently pointed out, travel can inspire creativity. We just got back from a loooong drive across the country to New Mexico and back, and I took a few pictures of things that inspired me.First, we saw literally thousands of these wind generators across the flat, windy, high plains of West Texas and Oklahoma. The complex shape of the blades is quite an engineering feat by itself, even before the rest of the contraption is considered. It was great to see renewable energy in action, and these are attractive additions to the landscape in my opinion. (No, we never saw any dead birds near them, despite looking.  Research in Europe suggests this is mostly an urban myth.)

In New Mexico, I looked for the details that said “Southwest”.  These design elements are a kind of shorthand for “you are here” and I thought that idea would be useful in designing quilts (or anything else).  Here are a couple.

Stucco walls, turquoise trim, tile roof

Courtyard enclosed by a stucco wall with a wooden gate; tile accent along roof edge; flat roof

Now, I’m off to learn to organize my photos in Photoshop so I can find the rest of the pictures from the Southwest 😀

Two More Quilts Find Homes

One of the best things about quilting is being able to give quilts to people who will appreciate them. Our friends Jim and Michele recently moved and, when we went to see them and the new house, I took two big piles of quilts so that each of them could choose a quilt to use in their new home.

We loved the modern house they chose in a wooded setting.  I think Abby the dog loves it, too

Michele chose a quilt to cuddle under while watching TV or reading, and to my surprise it was a traditional sampler quilt made from a block swap with friends.  The choice certainly reinforced my idea of letting friends choose their own quilts rather than choosing for them.

Who knew that a photo in bright sun would show up the quilting so well?

Jim chose one to hang in his music studio.  Michele recently sent a picture of the quilt hanging there.  As you can see, it goes well with his other bright decor. This is a variation on a design I did for Modern Quilts Unlimited several years ago.

What have you been up to?

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?

A Few Pictures…

…from a recent very productive quilt retreat!

This string quilt by Rena was a very successful design, I thought:string quilt

Here’s the back of the string quilt, and she also made this cute Halloween quilt top:

Mary made a string quilt, too, this one all in purple:string quilt

And Jerri finished a large Bonnie Hunter quilt with a zillion pieces:Bonnie Hunter quilt

I worked on half rectangle triangles, which turned out to be a lot more work than half square triangles:Half rectangle triangles

And a good time was had by all!

What have you been up to?

Blue Ridge

My modern guild is having a challenge to produce quilts for display when the traditional guild has its next show in the fall.  The guidelines are: no more than 36″ on any side, and using some Riley Blake solids whose colors were extracted from a landscape photo chosen by the guild.  The quilts aren’t due for several months yet, but I had a brainstorm and produced mine already.  Here we go:

art quilt

The quilt is faced rather than bound

And here is a detail.  In case you haven’t caught on, this is the one that was stained by basting spray.  However, that came out just fine with dry cleaning.art quilt

Name: Blue Ridge

March 2018

Finished size: 30″ x 17″

Fabrics: Riley Blake solids

Quilted by: me

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!

A Few Favorites

I’ve been thinking about what inspires my quilt designs, and the first thing that came to mind was the beautiful or fun or amazing quilts I see at shows, guild meetings, retreats, wherever.  Here are a few of my favorite quilts for inspiration.

I love the variety of bright colors and the tiny pieces in this one:

Retreat-17

Quilt made by Jerri from TINY pieces of Liberty of London fabric

And this is a favorite because of the bright colors and eccentric design:

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

This unusual design appeals to me:

Rena was given a circle cutter at the last retreat, and she went wild!

Pamela Wiley’s excellent workmanship and eye-popping designs make her quilts among my favorites:

art quilt, Pamela Wiley quilt

Outside In by Pamela Wiley

I like the use of color in this next one, as well as the movement generated by the curved piecing and curved quilting:

AQS Paducah

In the Marsh #2, by Carol Bryer Fallert-Gentry

And this one reminds me of Maine, where we lived for a while:

art quilt

Coves and Islands by Carol Anne Grotian

What inspires your designs?