Sunday, March 31, 2013

My Easter eggs have feathers

Break out the big Crayola box of 96, the Paas kit, and let's get coloring! It's time for the annual Easter egg coloring event at our house. 
Results from the 2013 Easter egg coloring event.
Having just come from an afternoon of sketching quilting patterns and free-motion quilting a lap quilt, I had my brain programmed with "feathers and fillers." Why not transport these designs over to the egg dying process? 
Free-motion fillers (front left and center), a version of Zentangles (front right)
and quilting motifs (center back).
Above are background fillers, free-motion patterns and an experiment with Zentangle motifs. Below is my "free-form feathered" egg. I must say, it's a lot easier with a pencil and sketch pad, or a sewing machine and a [flat] quilt sandwich.
Easter eggs with Crayon-colored fillers and feathers.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

ATCs: Birds

Near and far... bedazzled and bodacious... these fine feathered creatures come in all shapes, sizes and colors.

"Birds" was the theme of the March FiberAntics Artist Trading Card (ATC) swap. If we could imagine the songs these birds would sing, it would be a harmonic convergence of whistles, trills, twitters and tweets.

I hope you enjoy these feathered beauties depicted by this month's ATC artists.

"There's always a SHOW-OFF in every flock."
"Seagulls at Sugar House"
Monarchs of the Skies

"Birds (near and far)"

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

My Monet-inspired Guild Challenge

I've got Monet in a bag. No, it's not like, "Prince Albert in a can..." it's my quilt guild's—the Choo Choo QuiltersBrown Bag Challenge for this year. 
Fabrics for my Brown Bag Challenge and the Brown Bag Journal.
At this month's guild meeting, 11 participants turned in a "nucleus" for a round robin quilt project in a brown grocery bag. We'll be rotating the bags among participants and working on each other's projects for the next several months. An accompanying Brown Bag Challenge Journal will travel with each bag for contributors to write a few notes or thoughts. The big reveal will be in November when the bags are returned to the original owner and we'll see how fellow guild members were inspired by the bag's contents and what they created using the materials they found... or added to the mix.

Here's the note I put on the inside cover of my Journal:

A Tribute to Monet 
The inspiration for this project is the panels depicting paintings by Claude Monet [1840 – 1926]. Monet was part of a new art movement that emerged in the 1860s in Paris, France—Impressionism. This painting style is characterized by short, visible brush strokes that were quickly applied to capture the essence of a subject rather than specific contours and details.

Many younger artists of the period, including Monet, used a lighter and brighter color palette. They worked spontaneously—often en plein air [outdoors]—to capture the transient light and reflecting colors. Impressionist painters painted familiar, everyday scenes and abandoned the “conventional” art techniques of the time. The critics originally scorned their unfinished-looking and unkempt style, and intended the “Impressionist” label to be derogatory. The artists, however, took the criticism as a badge of honor and established independent exhibits that eventually brought them deserved recognition.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Batiks featured in Shop Hop quilt

I haven't met a batik I didn't like! How 'bout you?

As a fabric rep, I wonder if I secretly give batiks a little more petting. Because batiks are dyed rather than printed, the saturated colors ebb and flow across the organic pattern resists to penetrate the snappy, tightly woven cotton. Oh, and when set against a solid ground... they are exuberant!

Batiks are featured in a Tennessee Spring Shop Hop quilt.

The 2013 Spring Shop Hop (March 23 - 30) in middle Tennessee is featuring a collection of 12 batik-infused quilt blocks in the Shop Hop sampler quilt. You will find batiks among these featured fabrics. (They all play well together, wouldn't you say?)

Each of the 5 participating quilt shops have designed a setting layout to showcase the blocks in their own individual style, and the finishing kits are available. (I've had a sneak peak of 3 of the layouts and it would be difficult for me to choose!) The quilt block construction is based on a the ever-popular (and oh-so-accurate) Thangles quilting notion, so you can't go wrong with piecing these beauties. What's not to love???
One of the 5 different block settings for the batik sampler quilt.

The Shop Hop starts this Saturday, March 23! Buy a $5 Shop Hop passport at any of these fine quilt shops and collect all 12 block kits (fabric and patterns included) to create a beautiful batik quilt. Pick up some extra batiks [and cottons!] to add to your stash, some Thangles, and other quilty goodies... and tell them that rep reminded you to hop in! 

Oh, and there are some fabulous prizes to be won: a Janome sewing machine with extension table and 1/4-inch foot, gift certificates, fat quarter baskets and more.... Someone has to win them, it might as well be YOU! You gotta hop to win.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Quiltfest: the quilting up close

One of my favorite things to do at quilt shows is to admire and feast upon the magnificent machine (and hand) quilting the brings those 2D quilt tops to life. Here is a visual study of the fabulous quilting I saw at the 2013 A Mountain Quiltfest—machine, hand, and occasionally a mixed collaboration!


The quilted motifs (below) became part of the composition of this quilt.

The appliquéd cats in the border of this quilt (below) had hand coloring and shading to bring out the details in their faces.


This quiltmaker combined heirloom hand stitched blocks made by her grandmother and combined them with a soft peachy batik alternate block.

Here are some of the hand quilted pieces. The first one is by Linda Roy. All the embroidered feathers are by hand!


This was one of the Challenge pieces. It combines hand and machine quilting. Check out the hand stippling in the arc beside the rouched roses.

In your next quilt, be sure to leave some blank canvas for some fabulous machine or hand quilting!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Quiltfest, and "Fabric Larry" still remembered

To celebrate National Quilting Day, my friend Sherry, from the Choo Choo Quilters guild, and I made a one-day road trip to A Mountain Quiltfest in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. This is the 19th year of the show, and the caliber of quilts, class instructors, special displays and the vendor mall has expanded and becomes better each year.
Detail of "Many Masions" by J. Graber.
Here are a few highlights from the show.
Best of Show: "Circle of Curiosity" by A. Armour
quilted by A. Armour and D. Parks
"Circle of Curiosity" won the Best of Show. The quilting plays a major role in supporting the composition's center of interest in this raw-edge appliquéd quilt, as well as the quilt's theme. 

More quilts and ribbon winners...

The 2013 Mountain Heritage Challenge was entitled, "The Blue and the Grey: Quilting America's Great Divide." These small wall quilts had powerful connotations and were quite thought-provoking. No doubt, this theme spoke to many quiltmakers and exhibit attendees.

The Challenge packet included these four fabrics. There were over 25 quilts in this special display.

Incidentally, this is the quilt festival at which, during its 10th anniversary year, my quilt, "The Chef's Dilemma" [fondly referred to as "Fabric Larry"] was honored with the Best of Show ribbon—the first time a non-bed-size quilt won this prestigious prize. Surprisingly, two show attendees and one staff associate recognized me, asked if I had entered something this year, and mentioned they remembered "the quilt she did of her husband cooking"—aka The Chef's Dilemma. It's still a humbling experience.

So here he is once again, the 2004 A Mountain Quiltfest Best of Show, Fabric Larry.
"The Chef's Dilemma"
2004 Best of Show, A Mountain Quiltfest

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Another Fabrications Strip Quilt

Fabrications strip quilt.
After whetting my quilting curiosity with Fabrications 2.5" strips and making Quasar 45, my mind has been whirling with ideas and possibilities for these fabulous pre-cut gems.

How easy can it get? A beautifully coordinated variety of colors and prints is already chosen... the cutting is done... all you have to do is open - the - package and off you go!

This time I chose the Inspiration colorway: white and teal. This Fabrications bundle is one of Blank Quilting's signature fabric collections that supports ovarian cancer awareness. The dragonfly print and the other coordinating blenders are cool and fresh and the white strips add a nice brightness.

The pattern I used as a starting point is one of the many FREE downloads on the Blank Quilting web site. My version does not have borders and I chose an assymetrical design for the two inserted "flippies" (the vertical black strips).

Here is a view of the full quilt. I like how the random black diagonals create contrast and movement.
Inspiration collection strip quilt.
Below are closeups of the inserted folded black strips—similar to flat piping. The pattern designer calls them "flippies." These folded strips are sandwiched between two adjacent wider strips during the piecing process. (Sure beats trying to sew a narrow 3/4-inch strip! And, much quicker.) These inserts accent the vertical style of the quilt and define a space for two different free motion quilting designs.
Folded strips are inserted during the piecing of the quilt top.
You can see the two different quilting designs below. The narrow black strips define the space and offer a logical separation between the motifs.
Detail of the free-motion quilting.
Yes, there is a thread color change in the center section. [I admit it. I am a color hound and a thread junkie.] The pebbles were quilted with two different colors of Sew Fine, a 50 wt. poly by Superior Thread.

The wind-like swirls on either side of the off-center section were quilted with Tutti, a variegated 50 wt. long staple cotton by Wonderfil (one of my favs!).
View of the free-motion quilting on the back.
The backing fabric is Madison—one of Blank Quilting's 108" wide backing fabrics.
Sketches of free-motion quilting designs.
I often sketch potential quilting designs before I drop the feed dogs. The design process for this quilt was no different.

Sketching allows you to relax while you figure out and fine tune an appropriate design. There are no stitches to pick out if you don't like it, and it serves as a test run before you put needle to the quilt sandwich. Don't bother using an eraser when auditioning your designs on paper... just flip over to a new page in your sketchbook and keep sketching.
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