Friday, August 30, 2013

Blueberries and watermelon to celebrate Labor Day

This red, white and blue twister quilt makes me smile. It has a patriotic flavor because of the color scheme, but upon closer inspection, you'll find a delightful sprinkling of blueberry and watermelon novelty fabrics among the plaids, solids and small prints. I'll be free-motion quilting this quilt for Kim, from my quilt guild.
This twister quilt has a 4-patch checkerboard strip on two sides. Nice touch!
It's been a while since I've seen the food novelties, and I think this is an absolute perfect application of them! And when 'real' blueberries and watermelon are no longer in season, Kim can still be enjoy them through her quilt. 

This quilt also reminded me that the Labor Day holiday is this weekend. Labor Day usually signifies the end of summer... but the blueberries and watermelon makes me want to enjoy one last picnic before bidding a fond farewell to the season. How about you?
Blueberries and watermelon are diced up in this end-of-summer spread.
If blueberries or watermelon are no longer in season, there are other fruit favorites at the local grocer or farmer's market. Choose from the dozens of salad, dessert and snack recipes (or the in-store deli and bakery works for me) and whip up something to celebrate the long weekend. 

It would be nice to enjoy one last summer hurrah before we welcome the fall colors and the shorter days and cooler temperatures settle in. 

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Quilting a Wedding Wishes signature quilt

Becky, one of my guild friends, asked me to quilt a top for her. Actually, it was a project she got "recruited" into doing because she is a quilter. (Many of you know how that happens.) Becky calls this quilt a Wedding Wishes signature quilt.
Wedding Wishes signature quilt.
The signature blocks were available at the bridal shower for friends and family to sign. I noticed that one of the blocks had a date. As time passes, the recipients and future generations will appreciate that the occasion—and the quilt—is documented in this manner. The signed blocks were then sent to Becky for assembly. She chose batik fabrics for the border and sashing in shades of lavender, purple and blue with splashes of magenta to contrast with the white-on-white signature blocks. This is the border fabric.
Birds in the border print were outline quilted.
When determining how to quilt a quilt, I consider what this new layer of design—the quilting—can bring to the composition... how the stitching can enhance what is already pieced, appliquéd—or in this instance, written—on the quilt's top.
Sketchbook with quilting designs.
With pencil in hand, I made several pages of sketches before selecting the quilting designs. First, I worked up continuous line vines interspersed with hearts (appropriate for this quilt's theme), swirls, curlicues and feathers. I simulated a block with writing and auditioned various designs on that.

I felt there needed to be a better connection between the written wishes on the blocks and the quilting. The quilting needed to bring the hand written messages into better focus. How could this be achieved?
More sketchbook pages. Left: the heart motif enlarged. Right: swirls added to the heart.
The heart motif was enlarged to surround the messages. This provided a focal point and also added more variety in scale.
The quilted heart focusses on the message.
The swirled finials embellished the lower part of each heart half and unified the larger motif with the surrounding quilting. A few select birds in the border print were outline quilted to bring them into the foreground.
A few of the birds were outline quilted.
Full view of Wedding Wishes quilt.
After the binding and label are attached, this quilt is headed to California. They must have lots of zombies out there...
"Fighting Zombies is better with two!"

Saturday, August 17, 2013

"Exponentially Embellished" accepted
into the Georgia Quilt Show

Oh boy! I got the letter that my quilt, "Pi E2 [Exponentially Embellished]" was juried into the Georgia Quilt Show. This is exciting news.
"Pi E2 [Exponentially Embellished]"
46.25" x 46.25"
This quilt started off as a sample to showcase Blank Quilting's Sisley fabric collection. The pattern is a modified version of "Easy as Pi" by the Franklin Quilt Company. You may remember this earlier post when it was in the quilting stage.

The fusible appliqué of the stylized prints, bright blenders and postmodern triadic color scheme (red-orange, turquoise and buttery lemon yellow) begged for something more than a mere zigzag or cliché buttonhole edge stitch. Bring out the threads! 40 wt., 30 wt., variegated... in the full color gamut.
Time to play with all the threads! The variegated-er... the better.
Then it was time to play around with the gazillion decorative stitches (you know, the ones that come standard with your sewing machine from which you use only three) and mess with the stitch length and width. Who uses the default settings, anyway? Yaaawn. Here is my stitch test swatch.
Experimenting with stitch length and width.
So, "Pi" (the top) traveled around with me for a cycle to show off Sisley to shop owners on my Fabric Rep Trek. Here is a detail of the fusible raw-edge appliqué with the decorative stitching.
Decorative stitching on raw-edge appliqué.
I like the dot fabrics in this collection. (Mini-Pi's?)
Variegated threads, decorative stitching on Sisley fabric collection.
As if the decorative stitching wasn't enough... the solid chocolate brown background fabric craved some "show off" quilting... and I was in the mood for it. When you see the close-up shots, you'll understand why it's called "E2 [Exponentially Embellished]." (I don't know how to get the superior "2" figure using HTML. I found the code!)
All free-motion quilting done with my Janome 6500.
The chalk marker got lots of overtime on this quilt top. I used bits and parts of several quilting and painting stencils, as well as free-hand drawing, to chalk in the guidelines for the free-motion quilting.
Free-motion quilting using the piecing, stencils
and hand drawn chalk line for guides.
I rather like that lime-green (almost neon) thread in the middle ring. Juxtaposed with the deep rose pink thread (hmmm, another complimentary color scheme?), it gives it a little zing, don't ya think?

Pi Stats:
Unquilted top: 48" x 48"  Finished size: 46.25" x 46.25".
38.5 hours of free-motion quilting on a domestic sewing machine (Janome 6500). 7.5 bobbins of 60 wt. poly (Bottom Line by Superior Threads).
Threads include: 30 wt. cotton (Blendables by Sulky), 40 wt. cotton (YLI, and King Tut by Superior), 50 wt. cotton (Tutti and Konfetti by WonderFil, MasterPiece by Superior, and Aurifil), and 60 wt. poly (Bottom Line by Superior) in the bobbin and for the background stippling. The quilting was completed and the binding and label attached at the end of July.
Detail of "Pi E2 [Exponentially Embellished]"
In a recent conversation with the VP of Sales at Blank Quilting, Cliff G., he asked me if there was something I liked most about quiltmaking. I enjoy many aspects of the process: choosing the fabrics, designing with color, print and texture, and seeing the composition come to life. Lately, I'd have to say I really look forward to the quilting—and find myself creating areas in the quilt top specifically for the free-motion quilting to shine in its own glory. For me, the quilting is quite therapeutic and zen. This quilt is a testament to that.
Acceptance letter from the Georgia Quilt Show
The Georgia Quilt Show is September 19-21 at the Cobb Galleria Centre in Atlanta, GA. Good luck, Pi!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Practice your free-motion quilting
on "pre-marked" strip quilts

Hey there all you free-motion quilting newbies! You know how I suggest to you in my "Into to Free-motion Quilting" classes that an excellent way to get some free-motion practice under your belt is by quilting charity quilts?
Practice free-motion quilting on strip quilts. 
Well, here's a thought on getting in some free-motion practice as well as getting experience with making your motifs a consistent size—think "pre-cut strip quilts!"

My guild, the Choo Choo Quilters, had a guild program earlier this year on using pre-cut 2.5" strips to make fast and easy lap quilts. (The program presenter called them "lasagna quilts" and I kept wanting to call them "noodle quilts.") Anyway, we sewed the pre-cut strips end to end, similar to the 1600" quilt and got results similar to this example.

I got around to quilting one of theses strip quilts (shown in the first picture) and realized that the pieced strips automatically create guidelines that are 2" apart. This is a perfect space to practice continuous-line free-motion patterns—and you don't need to mark the quilt top! So, if you want some practice quilting loop-the-loops, waves, or another continuous line design, try it on a strippy quilt like these.
Examples of strip quilts made by members of the Choo Choo Quilters Guild
Chattanooga, Tennessee.
This quilter added a flying geese border to her strip quilt.
The Choo Choo Quilters Guild is having it's annual Cuddle Quilt workshop this Saturday, August 17. Guild members will get together and spend the day making lap-size quilts for a local day-care facility.
Strips are cut and ready for the strip Mystery Quilt.
Our clever Cuddle Quilt Workshop coordinator, Sherry, has devised a Mystery Quilt using the pre-cut 2.5" strips. I have my strips cut and ready to go. Anyone is welcome to join us for the day—it will be fun! The location and time is on the guild's blog.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

What's inside Brown Bag #4...

Every WIP (work in progress) I've received in the Choo Choo Quilters 2013 Brown Bag Challenge has been an intriguing surprise. It's interesting to see what fabrics, color schemes, and the kind of projects my fellow guild sisters like.

The latest brown bag I received had some non-traditional quilting fabrics inside—flannel, wools, a felted fabric... along with a couple wonderful batiks. (I haven't met a batik I didn't like, how 'bout you?)
The contents of this Brown Bag included batiks, flannels and wools. 
Written in the Brown Bag Journal that accompanied the bag, the owner indicated she loves nature motifs, flowers and a color palette of earthy golds, greens, reds and fuchsias. Without divulging too much of the surprise, here is a cropped photo of the pieces the BB predecessors contributed to this bag.
Here are some pieces I found inside the Brown Bag.
I decided to add something appliquéd and something pieced. I had to do a little pattern drafting to get my contribution to the required size so it was compatible with the existing pieces. But that's all part of the Challenge—figuring out how to "make it work," as Tim Gunn would say.
I added a pieced block and an appliqué block to the mix.
I wonder how my Monet-inspired Challenge piece is coming along...  and what I will find in the next Brown Bag that comes my way.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

"Make it Your Own!" with Free-motion Quilting

Free-Motion Quilting: Sew what ya know!
Throughout this spring and summer, I've had several opportunities to teach my Intro to Free-Motion Quilting class for shops and guilds in Tennessee. Truth be told, this is probably my favorite class to teach! 

For insight into my students' motivation and passion for quiltmaking, I ask why they are interested in learning free-motion quilting. Their responses help me to insure the class not only provides instruction on the mechanics of this free-form technique (and answers to basic nuts-and-bolts questions) but also offers inspiration and direction to help them achieve their personal and creative goals. 
Free-motion quilting class.
The Quilters Path, Mt. Juliet, TN.
At a recent free-motion class at The Quilters Path, the response to my question was emphatic. These quilters had an overwhelming desire to "make the entire project themself!" 

"Does that sound selfish?" they asked. "Not at all!" I replied.  Make it your own! ... yes, Yes, YES!
Practicing motifs and free-motion designs on paper.
Ready Set Sew in Chattanooga, TN
The quilting adds another layer of design to your composition. 
First-time feathers at Chattanooga Sewing
Chattanooga, TN
Your choice of thread color, thread weight and fiber content can support or enhance your design, change the color palette, modify or solidify the focal point.
Getting into the Free-Motion Groove!
Sew Notions, Jasper, TN
Execute your complete vision for your quilt. Each quiltmaker's voice is unique and each quilt has its own story to tell. Put your voice to your vision and make it all your own! You can do it.
Free-motion quilting with the Smoky Mountain Quilters and friends
at Kat Lovers Pur-fect Quilting, Knoxville, TN.
Thank you! to all my students—past, present, and future—for allowing me to offer inspiration, direction, and instill confidence for your free-motion quilting endeavors. The door to the possibilities that Fee-Motion Quilting has to offer is open to you!

Here are photos from several Intro to Free-Motion Quilting classes. Contact me if you'd like to have me teach this class at your shop or guild.
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Saturday, August 3, 2013

Moon Garden, a joyful quilt

I'm calling this one Moon Garden.
Moon Garden, detail
This quilt was an absolute joy to make! It offered me so many opportunities to try different techniques, revisit machine appliqué, cross pollinate new fabric collections, and experiment with exuberant, variegated threads and free-motion quilting designs. You may recognize it from this post.
A variety of background fabrics set off the
graphic black/white appliqués.
The quilt is based on the pattern, Dresden Star, by Edyta Sitar. I opted to use the companion acrylic templates—which, by the way, are the perfect size and shape for Blank Quilting's pre-cut Fabrications strip sets! 

I used the black/white strip collection for the star points/petals and couldn't stop sewing the 3-D Dresden rings... two, three... five, eight! Concerned about the sharp points? With this technique, it's a no-brainer. Even beginners would be successful.
Several background fabrics set off the graphic black/white Dresden stars.
The backgrounds for the appliqué blocks are coordinates from the Dahlia collection by Frances Newcombe [Belly Buttons Boutique] for  Blank Quilting and one of the new colors (pear) from Fusion Illusion.
Free-motion quilting on the setting triangles (in Desiree).
The sashing and setting triangles are from Desiree, a large floral tone-on-tone fabric line. The butterfly border is a focal print—also from Dahlia—while the colorful appliquéd circles, as well as the binding, are Blank's popular Splash blenders.

Auditioning the threads and the quilting designs:
After the top was pin basted, I auditioned threads—40 wt. and 50 wt. variegated cottons—for quilting the Dresden blocks.
Auditioning the threads.
A page from the sketchbook: working out potential motifs on paper is always a good place to start.
Sketchbook page of potential quilting motifs.
The free-motion quilting employed outlining, various fills, tendrils and a stylized zig-zag in the black sashing.
Variegated 40 wt. and 50wt. threads (left) and detail of the block quilting (right).
Sweeping and curling free-form feathers were quilted and randomly interspersed with patches of swirls and bubbles throughout the setting triangles and the borders. An antique gold, lighter weight 2-ply 50 wt. cotton thread (Master Piece (Botticelli) by Superior) was used for this quilting. 
Free-form feathers, swirls and bubbles quilted in
the setting triangles and the border.
Here is a full view of Moon Garden.
Full view: Moon Garden, 57.5" x 75"
Stats for Moon Garden:
Finished quilted size: 57.5" x 75". 22.5 hours for free-motion quilting, 10.5 bobbins. Threads (all cotton): WonderFil Tutti (50 wt.), Superior King Tut (40 wt.) and MasterPiece (50 wt.), YLI (40 wt.) and Superior Bottom Line (60 wt. polyester) for the bobbin. Hobbs Tuscany 100% cotton batting.

On the back:
My latest favorite 108"wide backing is the Sparkle line. (Yes, I am a fickle free-motion quilter when it comes to the wide backings—I like a lot of them.) This warm brown (java) color was a perfect complement to the ocher yellows and spicy red-oranges on the front. The subtle texture of the print—like cafe-au-lait infused with pure vanilla bean—provides interest, but still plays second violin to the quilting.
Sparkle java 108" wide backing. Back view with label.
Here are a few more pics of the quilting from the back (taken at various times of the day and night under different lighting conditions).
Free-motion quilting (back view).
Free-motion feathers, swirls and bubbles (back view).
Free-motion quilting (back view).
Finishing touches:
To finish, this quilt deserved a binding of equal calibre—a flat piped binding—using Splash (coral) with a solid black accent. Along with the label, I think it is a perfect ending [binding] to a joyful quilt. Wouldn't you agree?
The flat piped binding on Moon Garden.
Always put a label on your quilts.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

My Fabric Rep Trek: Pins and Needles Quilt Shop

For all you local Chattanooga quilters, you'll be thrilled to know there is a new quilt shop, called Pins and Needles Quilt Shop, opening this month "north of the river." In fact, it's right up/down the road on Hixson Pike from where the Choo Choo Quilters (my quilt guild) meets.
Pins and Needles Quilt Shop, 6245A Hixson Pike, Hixson, TN
Stacy Slockbower, the owner, has lots of ideas and plans to make the shop warm and inviting to new and long-time quilters alike. To accommodate quilters with day jobs, the shop will be open until 6:30 pm (Tuesday through Friday) and is also open 10-5 on Saturday. Stacy is planning "Girls Night Out" programs and projects as well as classes, sit-and-stitch opportunities and other events. Rumor has it that she is an accomplished cook, so program attendees might be in for some "non-fabric treats," too.

Pins and Needles Quilt Shop also wants to encourage youngsters to get interested in sewing and quilting. Girl Scout and Boy Scout groups are invited to host a meeting at the shop. Requirements for earning a Textile Merit Badge can be found through a link on the shop's web site.
The quilt shop's logo on the wall behind the cutting table.
Earlier this week, the new shop—with its fresh paint aroma—was still a work-in-progress with the goal of a "soft opening" this Friday, August 2. The official Grand Opening is planned for Saturday, August 17, with demonstrations, door prizes and an opportunity to win a Quilters Retreat Weekend at Spring Creek Retreat.

Here is friend, Jen, painting the quote on the classroom wall.
Jen paints "When life gives you scraps... make a QUILT" on the classroom wall.
Store fixtures begin to fill with fat quarters, patterns, books and acrylic rotary rulers...

A wall of notions, needles and cutting tools.

Ideas, quilts and quilting inspiration will grace the walls...
What a cute baby quilt this will be!
Giant wooden spools are awaiting bolts of fabric...
Fabrics continue to arrive...
Fabric, fabric, fabric...
And the full collection of Honeybell is on its way! The sophisticated black/brown/gray color scheme of this fabric collection is beautiful for fall. Be sure to download the FREE quilt pattern so you're ready for Honeybell's arrival.
The Honeybell collection by Blank Quilting.
There is easy parking at the Valley Brook Plaza where the shop is located, and there are no steps or curbs to the shop's entrance door—making it so easy to roll in your sewing machines for class. If you are traveling north on Hixson Pike, look for the large Appalachian Quilt Trail painted wooden quilt block on the side of the building. Pins and Needles Quilt Shop is one of the waypoints along this southern scenic trail. 
Look for the Appalachian Quilt Trail quilt block on the side of the building.
So, whether you're traveling the Appalachian trail from out of town, or you're a local Chattanooga quilter (or quilter-wanna-be), make your way over to Pins and Needles Quilt Shop where you'll be greeted with a friendly smile and a warm welcome.
Stacy, the owner of Pins and Needles Quilt Shop.
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