Sunday, November 29, 2015

Intro to Free-motion Quilting—last class of the year

Detail of free-motion quilting: "The Juggler"
There is still time to get one more Free-motion Quilting class under your [quilting] belt this year. Meet me at Sew 'n So Quilt Shop on Saturday, December 5. I'll be teaching my Intro to Free-motion Quilting class—bring a lunch and we'll have a good time dropping the feed dogs.

As part of this class, I bring Show and Tell of several of my pieces to provide inspiration and ideas for thread choices, quilting motifs, and whatever the class wants to know about the quilts. I think I'll bring my latest Guild Challenge piece, "The Juggler" (detail shown left) which I blogged about here and here. "The Juggler" involved 26.5 hours of free-motion quilting time and emptied 7.5 bobbins of 60 wt. thread.

It's getting close to the bottom of the year when quilters are generally focused on the finishing touches on their hand-crafted gifts, attending guild holiday potlucks or planning menus for the family festivities. However, if you need a break from the holiday craziness, contact Anna at Sew 'n So Quilt Shop and tell you you want to give free-motion quilting a try.

Just think of all those "quilty projects" you can get a jump start on for next Christmas!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

"The Juggler": the Process, Part II

"The Juggler" quilt top before quilting.
This is Part II of the back story for my 2015 Guild Challenge entry, "The Juggler." Part I can be found at this post.

After settling on the layout of the blocks and triangles, the paper pieced "juggling balls" were reverse appliquéd to the background.

Layering, pin basting and quilting began at this point…

Quilting, rulerwork: Radiating lines were chalked onto the quilt top. I decided to get more experience with free-motion ruler work and this was a good opportunity. Once these lines were quilted (100 wt. InvisaFil soft poly), the spikes were outlined in the ditch (100 wt. InvisaFil) and the background fills commenced...

Rulerwork radiating lines surrounded by
free-motion pebble pattern.
In addition to a charcoal grey cotton thread (50 wt. 2 ply Aurifil), the colors of the quilting threads (40 wt. polyester, Isacord) echoed the colors of the fabrics of the appliquéd balls: turquoise, lime green, burnt orange, cream and a red violet. It was fun to quilt with the colored poly thread as it was much easier to see on the background. (Grey on black… what was I thinking???)
Radiating lines (ruler work) with a pebble filler.
More pebbles surround the outlined paper pieced spikes.
Here is a detail of how pieces from the panel (mummies and pumpkins) were collaged to form one of the juggler's balls. 75% of the panel had to be used on the quilt top.
Collaged circle with pebble filler.
Two more paper pieced star-balls using fussy cut areas from the panel.
Scavenging bits of similar colors from the fabric panel
for the paper pieced stars.
Another paper-pieced star. You can see bits of the Halloween images from the panel.
Free-motion quilting around the strip of triangles.
Hand appliqué and decorative hand stitching: Upon completion of the machine quilting, the binding was also attached by machine. The felted wool circles were then positioned, basted and hand appliquéd with my new favorite thread for hand stitching—a No. 8 perle cotton Eleganza by WonderFil Threads—using a buttonhole stitch. I enjoyed matching up solid and variegated threads to coordinate with the multi-colored wool circles.
Hand appliquéd wool circles were attached after machine quilting.
Perle cotton threads and embroidery floss for hand stitching.
Quilt Stats:
26.5 hours machine quilting; 7.5 bobbins
3 hours hand stitching and appliqué 14 wool circles.
Top threads: 40 wt. Isacord poly, 100 wt. InvisaFil soft poly (ruler work, outlines and background fillers), 50 wt. 2 ply cotton Aurifil (background fillers), No. 8 2-ply perle cotton and embroidery floss (hand stitching)
Bobbin: Bottom Line 60 wt. polyester.
Finished quilt size: 39.5" x 48.5"
"The Juggler" by Veronica Hofman-Ortega
39.5" x 48.5"
"The Juggler" was voted First Place, Viewers' Choice, at the 2015 Choo Choo Challenge.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Mixed media fun at Ephemera Paducah

My mixed media Christmas tree canvas
from class at Ephemera Paducah.
Don't you love it when a spontaneous invitation magically crosses your path—or pops into your InBox? I was fortunate to have this happen last week while traveling to Paducah, KY.

I contacted art friends Rose and Kristin to see if they were free for dinner while I was in town. For different reasons, they were both unavailable... but Kristin declined the dinner invite because she was hosting Mixed Media Night at her shop, Ephemera Paducah. She was teaching this Christmas Tree canvas à la Christy Tomlinson and said, "if you get a wild hair… stop by."

What an unexpected opportunity for me and a wonderful change of pace from quilting and fabric. Yes, I'm there!

So I joined in and it was so much fun hanging out with Kristin and her mixed media group of paper crafters and scrapbookers. These paper artists have a slightly different style and process than quilters and fabric people, but it was good to get out of my comfort zone and try creating with different tools and materials.
Starting with a blank canvas (literally) and tissue papers.
Instead of fabric… it was paper. Instead of thread and stitch… it was gel medium. Instead of a quilt sandwich… it was a canvas. It was glorious, stress-free and liberating! (Also a nice change of scenery to be on the other side of the teaching podium.)

Kristin's introduction to the class started with one of the fundamental rules of mixed media, "It's only paper!" With that, everyone smiled and was at ease. I think the axiom to this rule in the quilting world is, "It's only fabric." No problem, I can work with that.
Kristin (center) teaching the mixed media project to the scrapbookers.
We worked with paper, paint and stencilled layers to build up the canvas. One of the final steps to the project entailed the "Glitter Station." Need I say more??
Glitter station at Mixed Media Nite.
In the front area of the store, Knit Night was also happening that evening, so there was wall-to-wall creative energy flowing throughout. (Hi again to Maureen, Haley and Cathy from Paper Pieces!) Mixed media workshop students could take advantage of a 25% discount that day on supplies and most other Ephemera goodies… another reason to visit and take a class.

Kristin is a fabulous instructor and Ephemera's proprietor and you're sure to meet other like-minded makers and creatives when you stop in. The Ephemera web site has a calendar of on-going activities and special upcoming workshops with national instructors. Make time for a visit next time you're in or near Paducah.
Ephemera Paducah at night.
"Night, night, Epherma!" Until next time...

Sunday, November 22, 2015

My Guild Challenge entry: The Juggler
The Process, Part I

"The Juggler"
by Veronica Hofman-Ortega
My guild, the Choo Choo Quilters, had our Guild Challenge reveal last week. The Challenge was called "Beyond the Panel" and a fabric panel of our choosing  was the impetus for each piece. Although we were expecting 13-14 entries, 11 completed quilts comprised the final display.

My team was in charge of creating and organizing this year's Guild Challenge. (We break the guild membership into teams that alternate hosting meetings and presenting programs throughout the year.) I am happy to say that each member of my team—Dawn, Betty, Theresa and I—completed pieces for the Challenge. Our four pieces, and others that were part of the display, can be seen in this post on the guild's blog.

When you decide to submit an entry in a Guild Challenge, the majority of the time seems to be the percolation period for potential ideas or quilt layouts. My piece, "The Juggler" did not start off with this composition, but somehow "morphed" into this final layout. Here is Part I of the back story [my process] for my entry.

This was the panel I decided to use. It's a 24" panel with a Halloween theme. I was drawn to the bright, jewel toned color palette—something I could work with.
Original fabric panel from StudioE Fabrics.
Auditioning companion fabrics: For the Challenge requirements, 75% of the panel needed to appear on the front of the quilt. Additional fabrics could be added to compose a piece between 36" and 70" on each side.
Auditioning companion fabrics.
Without a firm layout in mind, I gathered several fabrics that could be used in the piece as needed. Of this group, however, two found their way into the final piece (see arrows below). I think you need to have an abundance of choices up front which can be whittled down during the process if necessary.
Possible fabrics. The arrows indicate those that were ultimately chosen.
Experimentation and Discovery: One of the reasons I like guild Challenges is because they give you an opportunity to try something new—a product, technique, construction method, etc.—in a controlled environment (your guild) with people who know your work and you are comfortable with (your fellow guild members). I had this roll of "Sew and Fold on a Roll" Tri-angles that I decided to give a try. They were very close in size to the horizontal center stripe of my panel (the row of creepy houses and scary trees).
"Sew and Fold" paper with test sample.
I didn't have the companion 36-degree ruler for this process (which would have been so much easier!), but was able to make a paper template to cut out the appropriate sized fabric pieces. I did a test using scrap fabrics first (above), then pre-cut the pieces from the panel (below).
Triangle pieces cut from the panel center.
Using the Design Wall: At this point, I was still experimenting with layout… with the initial design that I thought would incorporate paper piecing and improv piecing.
Composition begins on the design wall.
A design wall is imperative for this stage.

In the mean time, I found these felted wool dots and wool square charm packs at two quilt shops in my travels. With my Challenge in mind, the colors and circle shapes prompted the purchase.
Felted wool bits add another option to the composition.
 So, with these new bits now in the layout mix, the layout "morphed" into… the juggler.
The Juggler begins to take form.
The placement and arrangement of the triangles was probably the most difficult to decide. The design wall and a digital camera are excellent tools for this stage of the process. (Gee, it would have been grand to have a digital camera back in my paste-up days.)
Potential design layouts.
Stay tuned for the quilting and finishing stages in a future blog post. [Part II is at this post.]
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