Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Quilters: Do you have a word for 2016?

I was reading Upstate Lisa's blog post about how she considered and found her "word for 2016." She chose "Happiness." A fine word, and a great choice. While I don't really make New Year's resolutions, choosing an inspirational word to start off a new year is kind of a cool idea.

If you're a quilter, however, it's not just a matter of choosing a word, but quilting it!
"Defining Contours," a free-motion quilting class using micro fills and more.
Are you up for this? Quilting your New Year's inspirational word?

"Defining Contours," my latest free-motion quilting class, fits the bill. I'll be teaching it in Huntsville, Alabama at Huntsville Sew and Vac on Saturday, January 23Contact the shop or you can register on-line (eeeeasy).

When I was developing this free-motion quilting class, I didn't consciously consider the "word for the new year" concept but I think it's very apropos for January, and the start of the 2016 year. Here's a peek into the class...
The "Defining Contours" class sample features
Meadowlark and Peppered Cottons fabrics from StudioE Fabrics.
My class sample (above) features one of my favorite blender fabrics—a quilting-weight shot cotton that is fabulous for showing off your free-motion quilting—Peppered Cottons by Pepper Cory [for StudioE Fabrics]. Have you ever done free-motion quilting on a Peppered Cotton? Luscious. See this blog post and this post and you'll see why I chose this fabric.
100 wt. InvisaFil thread by WonderFil.
The thread we'll be using for this free-motion work is InvisaFil [by WonderFil Threads] and it's perfect for the micro fills that will define the contours and elevate your word... right... off... the... quilt.
Class kits have fabrics from the Blue Bird collection
by Jennifer Brinley for StudioE Fabrics.
Meadowlark, one of Jennifer Brinley's earlier fabric collections for StudioE Fabrics is shown in my sample above, but students taking the class will receive fabrics in their class kit from Jennifer's new collection, Blue Birdalong with a coordinating Peppered Cotton.

The associates at Huntsville Sew and Vac have kits prepared for the class and the store has any other supply you might need... so don't worry about hunting for the fabrics and specific supplies. Attendees just need to bring the basics and their favorite FMQ (free-motion quilting) tools. A supply list is available upon class registration. (And you'll want to get it sooner rather than later because there is a little pre-work for the class.)
"Defining Contours," a NEW free-motion quilting class.
Are you ready to quilt up your 2016 word with me? Join me in Huntsville, AL on January 23 and we'll get your New Year started on the right foot—with a free-motion foot!

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

December: 70-degree weather?

It's the end of December. 
Wreaths are on the front doors and candles in the windows.
The front yards are dressed with greenery and red holiday ribbons.

In the back yards, the quince is blooming and the forsythia has buds.
It's December. Is the quince confused?
The highs have been in the 70s and the lows in the high 60s. 
It feels like Spring
70-degree temperatures in Chattanooga for end of December, 2015.
What will 2016 bring?

Monday, December 21, 2015

Is it "Modern"?

Background fills and ruler work.
I like making quilts.

I make quilts for several reasons… because I am inspired… because I enjoy the process… because I like the tactile feel of the fabrics and threads... the 3D texture that is created from the stitching… the creative release… the sense of calm that comes over me when performing the rhythmic tasks involved… and the sense of accomplishment I get upon finishing.

Throughout my quiltmaking journey, I have marched (and danced!) to my own tune. I have made quilts in many different styles: traditional, reproduction, art, improvisational, and possibly in the new category of "modern" (which I must say seems to be a moving target as to what qualifies).

I joined my local modern quilt guild (MQG) chapter—the Chattanooga Modern Quilt Guild (CMQG)—in order to learn more about this new quilting genre. And, my quilting friends and I have had discussions on what is or is not considered "modern." What we've concluded? It keeps evolving.

So, this is my latest finish. Do you think it's "modern"?
Finished size: 28.5" x 28.75"
This quilt features:
  • a charm pack of black and white fabrics [by Blank Quilting],
  • a shot cotton background [Peppered Cottons by Pepper Cory for StudioE Fabrics], color: paprika,
  • I used the Creative Grids hatchet template by Rita Fishel to make the blocks—'cause this tool is too darn fun! 
  • and I also started experimenting with ruler work on my domestic machine, so the tonal background of the shot cotton was a good canvas on which the quilting would show and I could gauge my progress and success level.
Hatchet template ruler by Rita Fishel for Creative Grids.
Here is a detail of the quilting. It's all free-motion work—including the straight lines. I used a machine quilting ruler (not to be confused with a rotary cutter ruler) for the straight lines (a.k.a. ruler work). 
Detail of free-motion machine quilting. 
Quilt stats: This project was started in January of this year (2015) and finished in December. My logbook indicates 14 hours of quilting as of mid-February. Unfortunately I failed to continue to log progress as I did it in bits and pieces as time permitted.
Top thread: Aurifil 50 wt. cotton.
Bobbin: Bottom Line (Superior Threads) 60 wt. poly.
It's a hatchet job.

You could say it's a hatchet job.
But do you think it's modern?

Thursday, December 10, 2015

ATCs: Spoonerisms

"I would rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy."
by Diane Pineschi
Ever have those moments when your brain thinks faster than your mouth can speak? Or your tongue gets tangled around your eye tooth and you can't see what you're saying?

Well, that's sort of how spoonerisms—errors in speech (unintentionally or purposely) where initial consonants, vowels or parts of two words are switched—were born. The term is named after William Archibald Spooner, who was prone to this linguistic mix-up. Often, a spoonerism results in a play on words of a comical nature so they can bring an unexpected chuckle or smile.

"Spoonerisms" was the theme for the FiberAntics December ATC swap and is indeed a light-hearted way to wrap up the year. Here are the ATC artists' rendition of these humorous twists of the tongue. Enjoy… and it's OK to laugh out loud.
"He's a smart fella" (or a fart smella)
by Marilyn League

"A Blushing Crow" (A crushing blow)
by Cathy Dillon

"The thlot pickens…" (The plot thickens...)
by Bonnie Stevens
Next up are two versions of the same spoonerism.
"Sew me to my sheet." (Show me to my seat.)
by Karen Downer

"Let me sew you to your sheet." (Let me show you to your seat.)
by Veronica Hofman-Ortega

"Look Ma… it's a hen of tarts!!!" (a ten of hearts)
by Liz Armstrong

She called me all excited about her new "Mump Deals" (Dump Meals) cook book.
by Debbie Joyner

"Runny Babbit," a Billy Sook by Shel Silverstein
by Dawn Spagna

"Honey, you just went through a Lead Right (red light)"
by Sharon Griffith
So, as we wind down 2015, thanks to all the participating ATC artists for the giggles, grins and especially the art. Enjoy the holidays, and in the words of George Carlin, "Don't sweat the petty things and don't pet the sweaty things."

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

The sound of free-motion quilting
with antique sewing machines

Cynthia is free-motion quilting on
a featherweight sewing machine.
Whether inherited from a family member, a serendipitous yard sale find, or a sought out purchase, there are a lot of quilters and sewists using featherweights and vintage sewing machines for their quilting and sewing projects. You know, the non-computerized, only-does-a-straight-stitch, single-hole-throat-plate kind of machine.

Believe it or not, all the students in my last Intro to Free-motion Quilting on a domestic machine class brought an antique model Singer sewing machine to work with in class. Can you do free-motion quilting on these antique machines? Absolutley! 

If you think about it, free-motion quilting only requires a straight stitch... the needle goes down into the quilt sandwich and comes right back up. So, unless you are considering free-motion thread sketching, decorative stitch quilting using a zigzag stitch or other decorative stitches (like Karen Linduska) that require the needle to move left/right, the straight stitch is the stitch you want. These antique machines do a straight stitch beautifully.

I don't know if it was the acoustics in the classroom, the fact that these were all-metal machines (no light-weight plastic bodies like our current computerized models), or that I was just enamored with these vintage little gems, but the sound of these vintage machines singing "free-motion a cappella" was fabulous!
Jeanette uses a Singer 301A model for
free-motion quilting.
After drawing designs on the white board and on paper, students practiced free-motion quilting on their quilt sandwiches… loops… waves… curves… paisley shapes...
Intro to Free-motion Quilting class.
We also talked about and worked on free-motion feathers. This is a popular motif and almost always requested by the students in my free-motion classes. In Saturday's class, we had a bonus exchange of feather design ideas. Anna, the shop owner of Sew 'n So Quilt Shop, where the class was held, was interested in my approach to quilting feathers. (Anna offers long-arm quilting services at her shop.) After I drew the feather that I recommend for beginners, I asked her to step up to the white board. So she drew a couple of her go-to feather designs for the students. How fab is that??
Drawing quilting motifs on the white board.
One of the cool (and best!) things about quilting feathers—and any free-motion quilting design, for that matter—is that there are so many variations and no right or wrong way of doing them! (Remember, there are no quilt police, so you can do whatever you want.) Use the motifs and designs you like, the ones that fit your style of quilting, or those that complement the flavor of the quilt you're working on. And you can do this on an antique or vintage sewing machine if you like!

Have fun… because that's what it's all about. Right?
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