Sunday, June 11, 2017

Quilt Top Remix at the Chattanooga MQG meeting

The glue sticks, scissors, crayons, pastels, colored pencils and grid paper came out in full force yesterday as the members of the Chattanooga Modern Quilt Guild [ChattMQG] created design mock-ups for a Quilt Top Remix
Slicing and dicing color photocopies of a quilt top to create a new design.
Last year, I moderated the ChattMQG's annual brainstorming session to generate ideas for the 2017 meeting programs. One of the topics that came up several times was that members wanted more instruction or practice with designing modern quilts. What better way to learn, understand and put into practice design principles than to actually design a quilt? 

"One day, I want to be a real quilt!"
At one of the meetings of the guild steering committee, I suggested using an existing quilt top as a starting point for a quilt re-design exercise. My fellow committee members agreed this could be a fun and educational group exercise... and we'd use the resulting quilt to support our guild community service project—quilts for Habitat for Humanity Chattanooga.

This is the quilt top that I offered to sacrifice for the Quilt Top Remix design exercise. Fellow fabric reps and area quilt shops may recognize this fabric line—Mosaic Garden. It was a popular fabric collection from 3 or 4 years ago, and I believe it went into at least one reprint.

This quilt top was made as a sample to showcase the fabric line as well as a pattern—called Miller's Quilt—by the talented pattern designer, Julia LaBeuve, of JML Colors. Until now, this top was destined for quilt top limbo and would not likely be quilted and finished. So, this exercise was its opportunity for a new life—as a "real quilt."

Wanna try this exercise with your quilt guild or group? Here's what we did...
I put the top up on my design wall and took a photo. Photocopies were made from the photo and each guild member received two copies to cut/slice/fold/tear/color and somehow come up with a new design layout that would be re-pieced into a new quilt top at the next guild sew-in. Here is the meeting notice that went out to guild members.
Photocopies of the quilt top.
For reference, the original top: 40" x 60"    Blocks: 8" (finished)   Outside border: 4"
For our guild's community service project, we make quilts approximately 60" x 72"—a generous lap size.

Here are a few of the approaches members took with the design remix.
Coloring...
Coloring.
 collaborating...
Collaborating.
folding...
Folding.
 tracing...
Tracing.
 tearing...

Tearing.
and drawing.
Drawing guidelines.
Presenting the new designs
When the glueing and taping were complete, each member presented their design mock-up, with considerations for the background fabric and color and quilt top construction. Oh yes, designs can be fabulous, but the piecing and construction needs to be considered as well!
Martha (left) and Ann (right) present their mock-ups.
Denise (below) explained her clever approach that she calls the "magic number." It employs units that are multiples (or divisibles) of a base number.
Denise explains how she designs with her "magic number" approach.

The final mock-ups were just as innovative and diverse as the design approaches.
Zig-zags and fractures.
Improv cutting and piecing.
Pieced or appliqued?
Diagonal or straight sets.
Borderless or partial borders.
What color should the background be?
How did we decide? 
Well, everyone gave their "two cents worth!" (Actually, it was one cent). After the presentations, the design mock-ups were lined up and everyone placed a coin beside the design they thought was the best option for the new quilt top. Here is Vista's 8-penny Mosaic Garden re-design.
Vista's design received the most pennies (votes.)
As Pinocchio finally became a "real boy," so will this top find its way to becoming a "real quilt." Rather than preserve a quilt top "as is," it is far better to deconstruct, remix and reconstruct a top so it can be quilted, finished and enjoyed. Don't you think? I do! 

Guild members indicated they enjoyed the exercise and I think they were more fearless in their designs since personal emotions were not invested in the top that got deconstructed. (It's easier to cut up a top that you didn't make yourself.)

Thanks to the members of the Chatt MQG for contributing their time and talents to this Quilt Top Remix. We'll have another Habitat quilt coming to fruition in the future.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Prepping Projects for Spring Quilt Market

Free-motion quilting on Betula from Westrade Textiles.
If you follow me on Instagram [veronica.fiberantics], you may have seen progress of these pieces as I was preparing for Spring Quilt Market in St. Louis. So not to neglect my blog and its readers, I'll post photos of the projects I've been working on for the last month or two.

Westrade Textiles sent me a few lengths of their wide backings and asked if I would make a sample for their booth at Market. Westrade offers 110" wide quilt backings in a variety of designs and colors in cotton and brushed cottons.

This sample is from the Betula collection. I used a quilting stencil as a springboard for the free-motion quilting feathers and fillers. WonderFil Threads were used and it was free-motion quilted on a Janome 6500 domestic sewing machine.

Using a quilting stencil as a guide for free-motion quilting.
A second sample was with a brushed cotton from the Betula line. It was wonderfully lush to quilt with a brushed cotton... the stitches sink into the fabric... revealing a lovely, soft quilted texture. I practiced my rulerwork on this sample as well.
Westrade Textiles 110" wide quilt backings.
A contrasting color thread defines the rectangles.
Betula brushed cotton wide backing with free-motion quilting.
Another free-motion quilting sample went into the ADORNit booth for display. This piece incorporates one of their ArtPlay Stitchery embroidery patterns. These are cute, happy stitching designs that temporarily adhere to any background fabric—a yarn-dyed woven from Diamond Textiles was used here—and then wash away with water after the hand or machine embroidery is complete. I used this stitchery for free-motion quilting. 
ArtPlay Stitchery pattern with free-motion quilting.
I made two knit tops using Art Gallery Fabrics [AGF] knit fabrics. These cotton pullovers are becoming a staple in my wardrobe—in short and long sleeves! The first top was color blocked and had a fabric accent on one sleeve.
Color blocked T-shirt made with Art Gallery cotton knits.
 This second top used one of the AGF florals.
Cotton knit top.
I'm glad I brought a jacket to wear over my short sleeve tops. As expected, the conference center had the air conditioning set to "cool." Details about the process for making this vintage-inspired jacket using Diamond Textiles yarn-dyed wovens and vintage orphan quilt pieces can be found at these two posts: Part 1 and Part 2.
Yarn-dyed wovens and vintage textiles combined.
To carry a notebook and my business cards, and to stash any handouts, marketing brochures, etc. that I picked up at Market, I made this totebag/briefcase. It combines Art Gallery's canvas and quilting cottons from Patrick Lose's Poppies in Bloom fabric line. This is yet another variation of the Cargo Duffle that I've made from this Noodlehead pattern. Here is the post about the first version I made using Alexander Henry's canvas fabric.
Canvas briefcase/totebag. Variation of the Cargo Duffle by Noodleheadd.
These projects are made from fabrics of the fabric companies I currently represent. If you are interested in any of these fabrics, please ask your local quilt shop to carry them. Support YLQS [your local quilt shop], keep your needles threaded and may your fabric stash be plentiful!

Sunday, April 30, 2017

A vintage and yarn-dyed fabric mix jacket—part 2

Vintage improv jacket.
On this last day of April, I'm listing this jacket in the "Finished in 2017" column. Yay! Here is Part 2 of the process for making this vintage and yarn-dyed fabric jacket. Read about the inspiration and fabric prep in Part 1.

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As a quilter, I often incorporate quilting in my garments. Jackets especially lend themselves to this process. I learned this "quilted garment" concept from a fabulous folk artist, instructor and friend, Rachel Clark. Check out Rachel's work and patterns on her website, "Clothing for the Body and Soul," and social media sites for inspiration. She makes amazing pieces!

Three Layers
This jacket is "quilted." It has three layers with stitching to keep the layers together. It has (1) a pieced front, (2) a piece of flannel in the middle, and (3) a silk lining fabric—all sandwiched together. It is machine quilted with straight lines using a walking foot. Stitch length = 2.8mm - 3mm.

Choosing Threads
For the style of this jacket, I thought a cotton thread with a matte finish was appropriate. I wanted a little color and contrast to the creamy yarn-dyed woven and a color palette that would complement the colors in the patchwork.

I chose a WonderFil 50 wt. variegated cotton (Tutti #TU14) with a soft color palette of grey, lavender, yellow and moss green. (This is one of my all-time favorite variegated thread color combos and one of the things that drew me to the WonderFil line of threads.) The bobbin was also a 50wt. cotton (WonderFil Konfetti #KT306) in a soft blush color that blended nicely with the color of the jacket's silk lining.
Auditioning threads for quilting.
Quilting and Assembly
Because of the woven windowpane pattern in the fabric, it was easy to keep the quilting lines straight and parallel (no marking!). I've been told that the fabric looks like a pinstripe from a distance.
Straight line quilting with the walking foot.
The jacket pieces—left and right fronts, back, sleeves—were quilted before jacket assembly. When I brought this piece to a recent quilt guild meeting, one of my guild friends asked if I cut out the pattern pieces larger to accommodate the shrinkage from quilting. This is a good idea! 

When I plan to quilt a garment, cutting the pieces slightly oversize, quilting them, and then trimming the quilted pieces to the pattern piece is my process. This project started off with another direction in mind, so were not cut oversize. However, the parallel lines of quilting did not cause the pieces to shrink excessively, so it was fine. The flannel (middle layer) and the silk lining (back layer) were cut larger than the front pieces. The larger layers can be seen in the photo below.
Quilted jacket fronts.
Here is the jacket back with straight line quilting. The parallel lines were randomly spaced (again, no marking!). A large zigzag design was quilted on the patchwork insert.
Quilted jacket back with patchwork insert.
The collar was interfaced, faced and turned, but not quilted. The outside edges were top stitched.
Patchwork collar with vintage fabrics.
Here is a view of the quilting from the jacket's inside. The silk lining fabric makes is easy to slip the jacket on and off.
Quilted jacket lining.
Neck and front facings were cut from the yarn-dyed woven. They were tacked down by hand to the lining.
Improv patchwork collar with vintage and modern fabrics.
This jacket is going to Spring Quilt Market with me this year. I'll be meeting with the President of Diamond Textiles and hope to find Mary Kerr on the show floor to show them both how I was inspired by them, their product and techniques.
Vintage Improv Jacket. 
A 2017 finish! Hope you enjoyed reading about the process.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

A vintage and yarn-dyed fabric mix jacket—part 1

Jacket collar detail: a vintage and modern fabric mix.
Another vintage fabric revival!

The inspiration from a recent workshop with author and quiltmaker Mary Kerr that my guild hosted, continues to infuse my creative path. The workshop was called "A Wonky Star, Improv with a Vintage Twist," and it offered techniques and ideas for using, reviving and upcycling vintage textiles into modern quilts.

For this project—a jacket—I paired vintage fabric bits and orphaned 4-patch units with a lovely textured yarn-dyed cotton from Diamond Textiles. This creamy textured cotton fabric is PRF-715 from the Diamond Textiles Primitive collection. I think the yarn-dyed and the vintage make a perfect couple. Don't you?

I've documented the process with photos which will be posted over two blog posts. Let's begin.

The Jacket Pattern
I have a go-to pattern for my jackets. It's Simplicity 4826 (an older pattern that you probably can't get anymore but I mention because people ask). I've got this pattern fitted to my body and I've created several neckline variations, sleeves and jacket fronts for it over the years that I keep in the pattern envelope as well. I also write notes with dates (when I remember) on the pattern pieces, so I know which front or sleeve I used for which jacket. Putting dates beside this information is very helpful—especially when it's been awhile since the pattern was last used.
Jacket pattern: Simplicity 4826
Fabric Prep
The vintage textiles were soaked (washed) by hand in a sink with Vintage Textile Soak. They were air-dried and then pressed.
Soaking vintage textiles.
I tried to keep the patchwork intact as much as possible to preserve the original quilter's handiwork. However, depending on the fabric combination (if it fit the project's color palette) or if the pieces had narrow or frayed seam allowances, the patchwork was dissected and re-stitched.
Examining the pre-washed vintage pieces
It was interesting to see the hand and machine stitching on the vintage patchwork. This quilter used a "backstitch" to secure the threads.
Backstitch by hand to secure the thread.
Working with yarn-dyed wovens
The yarn-dyed fabric, silk lining and flannel (center layer) were also pre-washed and machine dried. I always pre-wash and pre-shrink yardage if I'm making a garment. It's just good policy.

With yarn-dyed wovens, there is no "wrong side" to the fabric. So, you can use either side for the public-facing side of your project/garment. Although the woven pattern on this fabric is geometric, there was a slight difference in the look and tone of the textured windowpane pattern from one side to the other. I marked the side I preferred as the "front side" with a piece of painters tape... to make it easy to remember.
Marking the "right side" of the fabric with a piece of tape.
Improv Piecing with Vintage Textiles
The initial plan was to use the vintage fabrics to create a back yoke for the jacket. Strips of the yarn-dyed woven were improvisationally pieced with the vintage 4-patches.
Possible improv patchwork yoke.
I was not satisfied with how the patchwork looked as a yoke, so it was turned into a lapel/collar. I made a second similar piece to complete the pair—one left and one right lapel.
Improv pieced collar with vintage textiles.
For me, improv piecing is fun. I decided to take the leftover collar trimmings and other vintage bits to make something for the jacket back.
Improv patchwork insert for the jacket back.
The vintage fabrics were auditioned (left) and then a patchwork strip was inserted into the jacket back (right). In the next blog post, I'll talk about the quilting, threads and finishing. Stay tuned.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Annual Easter egg dying—what's your favorite?

Clear off the kitchen table... get out the big box of 96 Crayons... fill the mugs with water and vinegar. Let the egg dying commence!
Prep for the annual Easter egg dying session.
As busy, complicated and chaotic as life is these days, we always schedule time to color Easter eggs. For us, this is a much-needed break from technology and the other go-go-go work-related activities. We get to spend quiet time together, unplugged, just doing something as simple as putting color on hard boiled eggs. Coloring eggs for Easter has become a great tradition at our house.

This year, Larry said he found a new technique for egg dying. Supplies required: a leaf, nylon stockings or panty hose, and a twist tie. For the fabric dyers out there, this is a shibori resist dying technique.
Larry prepares the clover resist for dying.
Larry used a clover as the resist and the process worked quite well. The veins in the leaves and the stem were quite pronounced.
Two eggs using the leaf resist method.
I worked with my crayons and drew free-motion quilting designs on the eggs. I found a metallic lime green in the crayon box that got good results. Rubber band resists is also an easy technique that works well. And if you can get the brown eggs, they offer a warmer undertone and beautiful darker nuances to the otherwise bright colored dyes. 
Free-motion quilting designs and rubber band resists.
It's fun and relaxing to be creative and crafty by using one's hands on such a simple activity. At the end of the night, we alway wish we had boiled more eggs.
Colored Easter eggs: which is your favorite?
So, which is my favorite egg this year? The resists yield great results. The FMQ designs are a nice surprise to the recipients of the eggs. I'm drawn to the colors that are achieved from the brown eggs. But the forever classic "baseball egg" is the favorite because this is the one Larry always makes. And, he's MY favorite.
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