Sunday, July 16, 2017

Art Weave class: creating with large scale fabric designs

Are you inspired by large scale fabric prints? After my visit to Frond Design Studios (read my blog post here), I sure was! This Art Weave class is an answer for using these beautiful, large scale designs in a fun, easy project.
Art Weave: Fabric art with large scale prints from Frond Design.
I'll be teaching the Art Weave class at the Ringgold Quilt Expo, August 24-26, 2017.  Join me!

Class info:
     Friday, August 25, from 1 - 4 pm.,
     Ringgold Depot
     155 Depot Street
     Ringgold, GA

Contact the City of Ringgold for class registration.
Contact Kathy at It's Sew Time at (706) 937-3777 for quilt show details.

Let's make fabric art together with beautiful, large scale, artisan fabric designs!

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Getting ready for a "Group Baste" session

Cuddle quilt top pressed and ready for basting.
My quilt guild, the Choo Choo Quilters, does a "group baste" at our annual Cuddle Quilt workshop. This is so efficient and fast—ya gotta love it!

1. We boost the tables up on wooden blocks to a height more conducive to standing (without having to bend). 2. Two people—on opposite sides of the table—tape the backing down. 3. The batting is positioned. 4. We use a spray baste product (follow the instructions on the can). 5. Then two people lay the pieced quilt top over the sprayed batting. Smooth the top to adhere. DONE! Basted.

We crank these basted cuddle quilts (child size and lap size) out like an assembly line that Mr. Ford would be proud of.

So, with our Cuddle Quilt workshop coming next month, it behooves one to get as many quilt tops ready for this process as possible. Hey, who wouldn't want a speedy solution for this [booooring, but necessary] step in the quiltmaking process??? I have three tops ready for the Group Baste session.

I finally found time to assemble a batch of strippy blocks from last year's Cuddle Quilt workshop (or was it two years ago?).
Strip pieced quilt top. 32" x 40"
This next one is an improv "Make Do" quilt top using scraps and leftover patchwork. (I've been making improv chunks since the February guild program.)
Improv cuddle quilt. 41" x 30"
Panels are good for these quilts, too. (This one is a more recent finish, but you can see it required little cutting and sewing.)
Fabric panel with borders. 33" x 42"
So... I'm making progress... a few found minutes at a time... over the course of the year. 

Kudos to the other members of the Choo Choo Quilters... who have just as little spare time, but always come through making these quilts for our guild's community service project. A true team effort!

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Intrigued by large scale fabric prints? A class is brewing.

Do you like large scale fabric prints? Those bigger-than-life compositions... lush with bold, exuberant color? In whose shapes and subject matter you see the brushstrokes and marks made by the hands of the artisan?
Artisan cotton fabrics from Frond Design Studio.
While at Spring Quilt Market in St. Louis this past May, a quilting friend and I accepted an invitation from Stephanie Brandenburg to an Open House event at her DelveMIY storefront and showroom for Frond Design Studios' fabrics. Frond Design takes original, hand-painted art and re-creates it in fabric. Their mission is "to create hand designed art in fabric." 
Open house at Frond/DelveMIY near St. Louis, MO.
The "showroom" is much like a quilt shop—only with fabric from one company: Frond. And, oh what a fabulous space it is! 

Walk in... 
     and then catch your breath. 
Colorful quilts on the walls at the Frond Design showroom.
Anywhere the eye rested it found shelves, tables, and walls with bolts of fabric, fabric bundles, pattern inspiration... and glorious projects made with Frond fabrics. (Yes, I now carry Frond Design fabric lines as a fabric rep. Please ask for Frond at your local quilt shop.) 
Pillows made with Frond's blender lines rest atop of a quilt
made with large flowers from the Flower Power collection.
There were quilts and home furnishings...
Frond Design showroom: bots, kits and project ideas.
... garments and accessories. And Frond also supports the global community with its Do Good program, which you can read about here.
The mannequin displays a wrap and dress made with artisan cotton fabrics.
Bolts of fabrics line the shelves and fabric bundles are tied up with satin ribbons.
At the open house, there were a bunch of cool, quilty people hanging out, too. Fiber artist, teacher and lecturer, Catherine Redford was in attendance. Here is Catherine (below, right) chatting with my friend, Sue. Check out the color wall of blenders behind them!
Catherine Redford (right) and friend, Sue, at Frond Designs open house.
I also met Susan Stearns, the owner of Rain Baby Gear. She is a fabric representative for Frond Design in the northwest. It was a great evening.

A New Class
I couldn't walk away from this event without being inspired by what these fabrics have to offer quilters and sewists. A bag of select Frond fabric pieces came home with me and I'll soon be offering a class for using these wonderful large scale artisan fabrics. Watch this blog for an announcement on the date and time.
New Art Weave class! Create fabric art with large scale fabric prints.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Making Do: A Cowboy quilt from fabric samples

Next month. the Choo Choo Quilters are having their annual Cuddle Quilt workshop—a day set aside for guild members to get together and work on the guild's community service project. This "cowboy quilt" is one of my contributions. The quilt top was made from pieces from my collection of fabric samples and inspired by the guild program about "Making Do."
A cowboy themed fabric is featured in the center block of this quilt.
I finished the quilting but it is in need of a binding.
Cowboy cuddle quilt quilted and ready for binding.
The quilting pattern is a free-motion, overall pattern of circular motifs. No marking. Only fun.
No mark, free-motion quilting.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Kantha embroidery: a painterly solution for floss thrums

Have you ever saved bits and pieces of ____ (thread, fabric, paper... you fill in the blank) for an unknown reason because, in your heart of hearts, you knew their purpose would be revealed at some point in time?
Working from the thread bowl.
The time arrived for my collection of leftover embroidery floss. You know, the bird's nest of odd lengths of floss—sometimes 2, 3, or 4 four strands—and those random bits that are too short or not enough of a single color to use in a new piece? The solution to my collection of arbitrary embroidery floss has been revealed to me: kantha embroidery!
Kantha embroidery stitching.
Through a wonderful and inspiring Shakerag workshop called Human Marks: Drawing, Stitching, Batik, Bookmaking, with fiber artist and icon, the magical Dorothy Caldwell, I was recently exposed to the beauty and painterly qualities of kantha embroidery. Kantha is a hand stitching, mending process from India. It is kin to sashiko and boro. Kantha is used for the purpose of mending textiles to prolong their life and use, but it is also an expressive and decorative way of making marks and telling stories with thread and a running stitch.

Workshop attendees had the privilege of seeing several pieces of Dorothy's collection of kantha embroideries that she purchased during her time in India. The hand and energy of the maker is evident in the stitches.
The kantha running stitch shows the mark of the maker.
Dorothy explained that the women were very literal when choosing the designs that were drawn and then stitched on the pieces. The maker of the kantha quilt below depicted scenes from her visit to New York City. The twin towers of the World Trade Center and the Empire State building can be seen in her quilt.
The images in the quilts recount a visit to New York City. 
Similar to the American wholecloth quilts, the kantha embroideries in Dorothy's collection are done on large pieces of cloth—sometimes a white/natural color and sometimes black. Two pieces of cloth are stitched together. There is no batting or middle layer.
Kantha quilt.
The images are often outlined with a chain stitch for a bolder line. Small running stitches fill the shapes as well as the background. Small knots could be seen on the back (we had to ask about knots!) where the thread starts and stops occurred. The knots were neatly trimmed but makers did not seem concerned with them showing.
Knots and neatly clipped tails show on the back.
Dorothy demonstrated the chain stitch.
Dorothy Caldwell (right) demonstrates the hand stitches.
Workshop attendees displayed their kantha works-in-progress.
A board of kantha embroidery class projects.
We started with two strands of white embroidery floss to create the outlines of the shapes.
Running stitches: two strands of white embroidery floss on black cloth.
After I got into the rhythm of the running stitch, I began to add color—using single strands of floss. (This is when the lightbulb came on for me.)
Introducing colored floss to the kantha stitching.
I pulled strands from the floss bird's nest that resides in my sewing basket... or used the needles from the pin cushion that were already threaded with floss from previous projects. Threads of similar value but different hues began to fill the black canvas. The subtle color changes and the small stitches are reminiscent of brushstrokes of impressionist paintings.
Pre-threaded needles are a source for new stitching.
Now, I feed from a bowl of floss thrums that were accumulating in my sewing basket... and mix colors as if mixing paints on an artist's palette... a small amount of this color, a dab of that. The wait for a perfect stitching opportunity has ended. Kantha is the answer!
Stitching painterly marks with kantha embroidery.
Thank you, Dorothy Caldwell, for your inspiration, guidance and for graciously sharing your vast experience and knowledge with our class. And to my fellow classmates, thank you for sharing your amazing life stories and for the camaraderie and mutual encouragement.

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.

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!
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