Sunday, January 21, 2018

Reengineering and repurposing a boring table runner using Quilt-As-You-Go [QAYG]

Re-engineering a table runner into a small quilt using Quilt-as-You-Go.
As a more experienced free-motion quilter, I like the potential that a full, wide-open, uninhibited quilt top "canvas" has to offer for quilting. So the QAYG [quilt as you go] piecing/quilting method is not a go-to technique for me. Yes, it has a place and advantages, but I don't gravitate toward this quilting method.

However, I recently ran into a situation—while creating order from chaos in my studio—where steps from the QAYG method was a good solution.

A boring table runner
I had a runner that was made with a pre-cut strip set. It was quilted in the ditch. It wasn't used... it was kinda boring. So with a 2018 goal of "use it up or give it up," I decided to reengineer and repurpose it as a kitty quilt for the cats at the Cat Clinic of Chattanooga. Here's the original runner (sorry—not a good photo).
Original runner 36" x 16".

The reengineering operation
To fit the cubbies at The Cat Clinic, the size of the runner needed to be converted from a long, skinny rectangle to something closer to 25" x 27".
Cut up and re-sewn quilt.
  • First, the binding was detached from most of the perimeter and 3 of the corners. (A productive use for the seam ripper!)
  • With the rotary cutter, a piece from one end was whacked off. 
  • From fabric scraps, two mini quilt sandwiches were constructed and added to the whacked-off piece.
  • Using the QAYG method for attaching pre-quilted squares together, the new piece was attached to the original section along one long side... making the new kitty quilt a more appropriate size. 
  • As with QAYG, a fabric strip was inserted into the seam so it could be flipped over the exposed edges and topstitched down.
Left: fabric strip sewn into the seam.
Right: the edge of the fabric strip was turned under and topstitched down.
Here is the back. The strip covers the raw edges where the two quilted sections were abutted and joined.
Back of new quilt.
The most difficult part was reattaching the loose binding because the attached part was already folded and connected to the quilt.
Re-attaching the binding.
In hindsight, I should have removed the entire binding from the quilt. It would have been easier to just attach the binding from scratch—even if I reused the original binding. A tip for next time...

New repurposed kitty quilt. A functional kitty quilt is better than an unused runner. Isn't that right, blog stalker?
Kitty quilt re-purposed from a boring table runner.
Another repurposing idea
Now that I've experimented with the QAYG joining method for pre-quilted pieces, I'm thinking this technique could also be used to combine (join) several small quilts or quilted pieces together to make a larger quilt. A repurposing idea to make a larger and more functional quilt from smaller pieces that perhaps are not used as often.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

See the faces at the Scenic City Clay Arts exhibit

Face jugs and quilts exhibit at Scenic City Clay Arts.
Face jug by Mark Issenberg.
Quilts by members of the Chattanooga Modern Quilt Guild.
Hey you!

Jug Head, here.

We got clay art and quilts in the gallery this month.

What? Not been yet? Well...

Get your face down to the "Face Jugs/Mugs and Quilts of Modern Day Appalachia" exhibit at the Scenic City Clay Arts, pronto!

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As the jug mentioned, several members of the Chattanooga Modern Quilt Guild and I have our quilts on display along with clay pieces by Mark Issenberg and Shelby West Pottery at the Scenic City Clay Arts gallery. It's a delightful exhibit.

Larry and I went to see the exhibit last week and it has a great juxtaposition of soft and hard mediums—the quilts with the clay pieces. All the pieces are very thoughtfully arranged and the exposed brick walls provide a nice backdrop for the quilts.

There are 9 quilts on display, including the CMQG banner quilt. Here are a few pictures we took at the exhibit, but it's always better to see the work in person. This is Camille's quilt, "The Illusionist" beside an earth tone ceramic pitcher.
"The Illusionist" by Camille Miller and ceramic pitcher.
My face quilt, "Listen," is flanked by two face jugs. There seems to be a conversation going on between the three of them. Who's listening and who's speaking??? I wonder.
My quilt, "Listen," between two face jugs.
Two beautiful ceramic serving platters complement the circles and curves in Kelly's "Crop Signs" quilt.
"Crop Signs" quilt by Kelly Spell with ceramic serving platters.
There are functional pots as well as ceramic wall art for sale (at very reasonable prices). A few of the quilts are also for sale.
Ceramic pieces on display at the Scenic City Clay Arts exhibit.

Face Jug by Mark Issenberg.
"Winter Trees" quilt by Sandi Suggs in the background.
If you work downtown in Chattanooga, are on a shopping jaunt at Warehouse Row, or having lunch or dinner downtown, stop in for a few minutes to see the exhibit, now through January 25, 2018. The clay studio and gallery are open late (to 8:30 pm) a few days during the week, so a visit after work is absolutely doable.

Why not wait for the rush hour traffic to disperse and spend a little time with the pots and the quilts?


Friday, January 5, 2018

5 practices and processes for 2018

Last week, the blogosphere was full of "Best of 2017" photos. I reflected on mine in this post. I also gave thought to goals for 2018 for how to better spend my time—with a focus on processes and not just projects. So, Hello 2018! These are the things I want to practice ...

Use it up or Give it up
In 2018, I'd like to enjoy the piecing process more—with improv patchwork.
Improv patchwork with scraps and leftover fabrics.
This practice will enable me time with my sewing machine without having to have a specific project in mind. It will continue to put a dent in the stash (everyone's goal for the last few years) as well as "use up" my collections of scraps and odd bits. The likely candidates for this liberated-style patchwork will be my kitty/doggie quilts for local animal care and shelter facilities, and the charity program at my quilt guilds.

With a bit of clean-up, purging and re-purposing in my studio I have a bag of fabric that I'm gifting to my MIL's church group that makes quilts for those in need. As the clean-up continues, I hope to "give up" more.

More Me-made garments
Today's trends in the fabric industry are stirring up excitement for DIY and home garment sewing. I love this! Fabulous knits, rayons and other fabric substrates (check out Art Gallery and Cloud 9) and richly textured "garment-conducive" yarn-dyed wovens and the ever-so-popular Buffalo Plaids (see Diamond Textiles) are becoming more prevalent on the shelves of local quilt shops.
knit tops
Knit tops I've sewn for myself with cotton knit fabrics from Art Gallery.
Social media groups, blogs and Instagram are brimming with encouragement, ideas, and photos to reflect this—Me Made May, and the plethora of patterns from indie pattern designers—and sewing classes are popping up at quilt shops, sewing centers and Make-It spaces. It's out there for the taking. My 2018 is going to have more Me-made garments in it.

Buy local and support independents 
On my travels, I've found some unique sources for coffee, tea, and artisan crafts. My husband does a wonderful job of supporting our local independent small businesses—bakeries, farmers markets and restaurants. I'm choosing to support artists, indie crafters and small businesses. I like finding unique and functional items that we'll use frequently in our home.
Ground coffee from Cabin Coffee Co.; hand-made ceramic mug by a
Chattanooga potter; wood coffee scoop from Log House Craft Center, Berea, KY.
Visible mending and hand stitching
Hand stitching—kantha, boro, sashiko, big stitch, hand embroidery—have been a staple for the textile artists community... well, since forever. These techniques are also quite prevalent in the quilting, craft and sewing industries these days. Inspiration and a renewed interest in hand stitching still resonates with me from the workshop I took last year with Dorothy Caldwell. I'd like to take the practice of hand stitching a bit further by preserving and extending the use of items through visible mending—or we can call it "creative embellishment"—rather than disposing of clothing and buying new.
Kantha stitching. 
Time management
One of the things I missed in 2017 was participation in my quilt guild's Challenge. I had the best of intentions—even finished the quilt top—but didn't get it quilted. My guild had a fabulous turn-out for the Challenge. All the quilts were well done and their makers were inventive with their interpretation of the Challenge guidelines. I wish I had had a piece to contribute. Alas, time was not on my side last year. I even took many in-progress photos with the hope of a "here's my process" blog post.

My MIL says, "everyone gets the same 24 hours in the day... it's how we choose to use our 24." I think my time management will improve with organization, automation, prioritization and learning to steer clear of the rabbit holes.

Here's wishing you a fulfilling new year. Take time to enjoy your process.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

2017 year-end review

So long, 2017! It was a busy year with ups and downs and lots of miles in between. My pile of "finishes" is not as extensive as in previous years (or as I would like), but there are a few completed projects for which I am proud and several wonderful experiences in which I'm happy to have taken part. Here's a photo montage and a recap.
2017 accomplishments (from top left): Ikat Jacket, knit top, vintage and yarn-dyed mix jacket,
Art Weave class, free-motion embroidery, Blue Violets Art Weave sample,
Cargo Duffle, improv pieced mug rug, Cargo Duffle briefcase.

A jacket inspired by vintage textiles.
Garments and Artwear
My enthusiasm for garment sewing and creating artwear pieces has been renewed—due in large part to the fabric companies I represent that offer fabulous, high quality woven and knit fabrics that are great for sewing clothing as well as quiltmaking. When ya work with "the good stuff," you're more inspired, the projects come out so much better, they wash and wear well, and the "making process" is waaaay more enjoyable.

Oh... and you don't look like the run-of-the-mill chain store Jo (or Joe). We're all different and unique! Let's not dress like twinsies.

I made two jackets this year that I am pleased with the results. I get lots of compliments on them, too. Each one coincided with an industry trade show (Spring and Fall Quilt Markets) and feature the luscious yarn-dyed wovens from Diamond Textiles. No doubt it was a firm deadline that facilitated these projects into the "completed" column. "There's nothing like a deadline to get one motivated," as the saying goes. I also have a selection of knit tops—short and long sleeves—made with Art Gallery knits.
Ikat jacket with Primitive Stars fabric.

Vintage Inspiration and Collaboration with Anonymous
In the Spring of 2017, my quilt guilds brought author and award-winning quiltmaker, Mary Kerr, to Chattanooga for workshops and a lecture. Mary has written books about incorporating vintage textiles and antique quilt blocks into new quilts. The collar on the white jacket (shown above) and this Vintage Wonky Star quilt top (below) were the results of Mary's visit. It was fun to collaborate with the anonymous quilters who made and left behind the original quilt blocks.
Vintage Churn Dash quilt blocks made into A Wonky Star.
An unquilted quilt top made in a workshop with Mary Kerr.

Machine quilting and stitching
I expanded my free-motion quilting to include a new substrate—canvas. I used the Cargo Duffle pattern (with mods) from Noodlehead to construct two zippered bags. I rep two companies—Alexander Henry and Art Gallery Fabrics—that offer cotton canvas fabrics.
Variation of Cargo Duffle with canvas fabric from Alexander Henry Fabrics.
Stripe fabric from Diamond Textiles.
The variegated 50 wt. cotton thread [Tutti from WonderFil Specialty Threads] is still one of my favorites. The contrast striped fabric is one of the World Fabrics from Diamond Textiles.
Free-motion machine quilting on canvas with variegated thread.
Canvas: Alexander Henry fabrics, Thread: WonderFil Tutti 50 wt.
WonderFil's 12wt. cotton thread [Spaghetti] prompted experimentation with machine decorative stitches. The 4-patch blocks are made with the versatile yarn-dyed wovens from Diamond Textiles that were also used in my jackets.  
Decorative machine stitching with 12 wt. thread [WonderFil Threads]
on yarn-dyed textured wovens by Diamond Textiles.

Hand Stitching
Inspired by a studio intensive workshop with Dorothy Caldwell, my take-along travel projects now involve hand stitching.
Kantha stitched cover for Mark Making book from Dorothy Caldwell workshop.
Although the stitching on my patriotic girl is now complete, I haven't decided if this piece will become a pillow or a small quilt.
Hand embroidery with ArtPlay Stitcheries from ADORNit
The background of the embroidery is filled with kantha stitching.
The base fabric: yarn-dyed woven from Diamond Textiles.
Quilting for Charity
I was able to make a few kitty quilts for the kitties at The Cat Clinic. Making these and bringing them to the Clinic warms my heart. The quilts are always appreciated—by the staff and the cats.
Jesse inspects the kitty quilts donated to the kitties at the Cat Clinic. 
Both of my quilt guilds were generous with their time and resources in 2017. I don't think I completed any cuddle quilts all myself, but I donated a bag of fabric swatches to my quilt guild for a year of "Make Do" and improvisational patchwork. The swatches found their way into quilt blocks I pieced and several charity quilts our guild members worked on together. 
Cuddle quilts quilted at the Choo Choo Quilters annual workshop.
At our annual Cuddle Quilt workshop, I was able to free-motion quilt 5 cuddle quilts, so I was part of the team effort. I supported the other guild with a quilt top for a Re-mix Exercise. This quilt will be donated to Chattanooga's Habitat for Humanity organization. The finished quilt can be seen here.

Inspiration, Encouragement and Support
As makers and artists, we don't do our craft alone. We're influenced by the art and artists of both the past and present. And... if we're lucky enough, we can meet, learn from and work with today's talented artists and entrepreneurs that strive to bring their best work into the world... so we can make and do our best work. Here are just a few of them...
From top left, Row 1: Larry, my personal cheerleader and indefatigable supporter;
Leesa Chandler from The Textile Pantry; Rohni Sandu from Diamond Textiles.
Row 2: Me and Mary W. Kerr; representing all shop owners is Donna Sandidge (right); Patrick Lose and I.
Row 3: woodblock printing artist Hiroki Moriroue; fiber artist Dorothy Caldwell and I;
friends from my quilt guild at our Cuddle Quilt workshop.
I have also had the pleasure of being inspired by the students who attend my classes and my fellow classmates who have been in workshops alongside me. And, it's a pleasure to work with owners and associates of numerous quilt shops and independent sewing centers this past year. These shop owners are some of the hardest working, dedicated, small business people around. Please support them!
From the road.
Follow your passion and work at your craft. Wishing you much creativity and inspiration in 2018. It could be right over the next hill or around the next bend in the road.
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