What Did I Learn in 2018?

My friend Melanie recently listed some (quilty) things she learned or re-learned in 2018, and it seemed like a good idea! So here goes…

And while I’m at it, I’ll re-introduce a few of the quilts I finished in 2018.

The center piece is a fabric”jewel” made in the same guild workshop as the block

1. Despite my history of using high-loft batting, I learned that it is much easier to neatly trim, square up, and bind a quilt made with LOW loft batting!

Mini-Quilt for Jill made from an orphan block

2. Deb Tucker’s “Tucker Trimmer” is the bomb for making half square triangles!  A friend introduced me to this tool.  I have used at least 3 other methods for trimming HSTs, and this is by far the best.  Much better than the (considerably more expensive) Bloc Loc tool, more accurate than my slotted square-up ruler, faster and easier than just using a regular ruler.

art quilt

Small quilt for a challenge with my local MQG

3. After many years of quilting, I have LOTS of small pieces of fabric but not many big pieces. I went to pull blue fabric for a quilt from my blue drawer.  I thought I had plenty since the drawer is full, but most pieces were less than half a yard!  So…

donation quilt

Donation quilt: The concentric squares are pieced; the other pieces are a print from Michael Miller

4. When I buy fabric for stash now, I often buy 3 yards at a time because that’s likely what will be needed for a single fabric in a planned quilt.

Gypsy Wife quilt

Finished Gypsy Wife; it was made from a couple of FQ bundles but the background required yardage

5. I want to do everything, but I’m going to have to choose and prioritize or nothing gets done.  Maybe a little of everything???

slabs, scrap blocks, scrap quilt

Donation quilt from single-color scrap blocks

6. Some projects just need to go in the fizzle drawer!

One for the fizzle drawer, but I have taken it apart and will re-purpose the fabrics in 2019

And a few opinions I haven’t changed my mind about:

  1. Almost all quilts need some purple in them somewhere!

    Block made in a workshop with Rosalie Dace

  2. Superior So Fine is a great thread for piecing, resulting in very little lint in my machine.

    I will be teaching this triangle quilt in March at Studio Stitch in Greensboro

  3. Almost any day is a good day if I learn something new

As always, these opinions are my own and I have received no compensation for sharing my favorite tools.  Your opinions and results may vary 😉

 

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?

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?

Finally, A Finish

This quilt was started as a practice piece for a quilt I want to make using this “one block wonder” technique. Finally it is finished and bound!

one block wonder

Floral Fantasy, a “one block wonder” quilt

Here is the fabric from which these one block wonders were cut.  As you can see, it was pretty lively to begin with.

Sassaman fabric

Flower Fiesta by Jane Sassaman

The border for the above quilt is from a different Jane Sassaman fabric.

Here’s the quilt for which this was practice.  It is back in a box waiting its turn.Sassaman fabricsNext week I’ll show some more of what pushed its way in front of that quilt.

Meanwhile, if you want to try a one block wonder, here’s a link to the book.  And the fabric or both quilts is designed by Jane Sassaman, whose website is here.

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!

Guild Program, Guild Challenge

Since somebody has to be in charge of guild programs, and this year I’m “it” for my modern guild, I’ve been publishing some ideas for guild programs and challenges. Hopefully, if you are in charge of programs and challenges for your guild, you can use some of these.

quilt, tessellation

The familiar “cat” tessellation

Nobody volunteered to do the program this month, so I read up on tessellations, starting with this post my friend Jean did for my blog a couple of years ago.  I found a couple of great books on tessellations, one by Jinny Byer (yes, that Jinny Byer!).  They are:

Designing Tessellations: The Secrets of Interlocking Patterns, by Jinny Byer

Introduction to Tessellations, by Dale Seymour and Jill Britton

And if you decide to develop a program on tessellations for your guild, feel free to e-mail me.  You can have my “class outline” and list of exercises if you want.

wonky house block

Wonky house drawn with Electric Quilt 7

The challenge for next month is to make a 12-1/2 inch (so it will finish 12 inches) wonky house block. I made up a couple of blocks to illustrate the idea and drew a couple of additional ones for people to take home for inspiration.

Another wonky house drawing for inspiration

I cut the pieces for this house freehand, with scissors, to make it really wonky

This one was made with fused fabric, using techniques I learned several years ago from Laura Wasilowski

We’ll vote on whether to have a “dirty Santa” swap or a drawing where one person gets all the blocks to make a quilt.  Seems like most of our members are really into the swap thing, so I’m betting that’s what happens!