Thursday, November 28, 2013


"The things that take longer to make inevitably have more beauty."

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Quilting is in the air

Hand quilted Holly Leaf quilt for auction.
There's nothing like blustery, 30- and 40-degree temperatures to get you in the mood for quilts and quilting. I spent most of the day yesterday at the Open House and Charity Quilt Auction at Pins and Needles Quilt Shop demonstrating free-motion quilting. Here (left) is one of the top bid-drawers, a hand-quilted holly leaf bed quilt—very graphic with all solid fabrics and a contemporary red and yellow-green color palette.

I understand the bidding process is still going—due to late night news clips on Channels 3 and 12—so go to the Facebook page and email a bid before it's too late. Proceeds benefit the Salvation Army Angel Tree and Make a Wish. Also among the quilts in the auction was a vintage Dresden Plate quilt top.
Antique quilt top and hand-quilted bed quilt are items in the Charity Quilt Auction.
There were lots of door prizes and special holiday sales on fabric. Quilting classes for 2014 are scheduled and there was a discount for early registrations.
Patterns for the Honeybell tote bag (left top) and quilt are available.
The Kaleidoscope runner is an upcoming class. 
The shop was decked in holiday finery and hot and cold refreshments were served. 
The handmade tree ornaments caused such a buzz, that the shop is taking orders for them.
Holiday decorations made by the shop owner and staff.
My demonstration table was right next to the cookies. (Oh well, someone had to be in that space, right?!)
Hot and cold refreshments were served.
And, the piping hot wassail hit the spot!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Quilting at sunset

Free-motion quilting at sunset.
One of the beautiful aspects of quilting—the actual stitching through the three layers of the quilt sandwich—is the dimension it creates. The quilting transforms a two-dimensional quilt top into a three-dimensional bas relief fabric sculpture.

I recently completed the custom free-motion quilting on this quilt for Stacy at Pins and Needles Quilt Shop. This picture was taken as the sun was streaming through my studio windows about an hour prior to sundown—or before the sun disappeared behind one of Chattanooga's mountain ridges. The low angle lighting highlights the dimension and texture created by the quilting stitches.

I'll be at the Pins and Needles Open House and Charity Quilt Auction this Saturday, November 23, doing a demonstration of free-motion quilting. I hear there will be door prizes, a retreat give-away, refreshments, demonstrations and a 10% discount on all sales at the Open House. Stop in, say hello and make a bid on one (or three or five!) of the auction quilts. The proceeds will benefit the Salvation Army Angel Tree Program.

Oh, and Stacy will have this quilt on display, too. Be sure to ask her what part her husband played in the creation of this quilt. Here are a few close-ups.
Free-motion quilting: feathers and curly vines.
One of the blocks from this 6-month BOM (block of the month) project.
Inner and outer border (detail).
Center of the quilt.
Quilting stats: 
Three colors of Aurifil 50 wt. cotton (top threads); Bottom Line 60 wt. poly (bobbin); 5 bobbins. Quilt top: 66" x 66" (before quilting).

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Group collaboration—Part III

Brown Bag Journal
This post wraps up my thoughts and commentary on the recent Brown Bag Guild Challenge. (Here are links to Part I and Part II.)

Most of the time, quiltmaking is a solitary activity. Quilters work individually on their projects and show them to family members, to friends, at their guild meetings or to the recipient upon completion. There was a lot I learned and gained from working on a team project, or a Team Challenge such as this one, that I'll recap below.

But first, I must mention the other important component of the Brown Bag Challenge. A Quilt Journal—the conduit for communication and documentation—accompanied each bag through the journey. Most of the participants signed, dated and wrote entries in the journals as the bags progressed through each one's hands.
A Quilt Journal was included with each Brown Bag Challenge project.
As someone who enjoys knowing the creative thought process behind a piece of artwork, the content of the journal is valuable and important to me. So a heartfelt "Thank You" to those who took the time to write something. The journal preserves this documentation as well as the personal story of these quilts. Can you remember your initial vision for a project after 7 or more months have passed? I can't— not all the details and nuances, anyway.
Owners and participants pasted fabric swatches in the Journal.
In review, this Challenge was an extremely successful project. Each contributor:
  • garnered inspiration from the pieces they encountered in the bags,
  • capitalized on others' work
  • learned new techniques or revisited previous-learned techniques, 
  • stretched their design and problem-solving muscles, and
  • had their quiltmaking and block drafting skills sharpened. 
Each month brought new opportunities for collaboration—with new co-participants, totally different materials, and a brand new theme. (Kinda like a Project Runway team challenge... only with a lot less drama!) And most everyone said they enjoyed the Challenge and would be interested in doing future group projects like this.
My thoughts on the "team" concept:
As part of a team, you rely on your teammates and they rely on you. For this Team Challenge, everyone brought their talent, experience and point of view to each project. Even though an individual might not be able to contribute the same amount to each bag, collectively, the team did justice to every project. Everyone gets a turn at bat and makes the play according to what's on the field and what's on the scoreboard at that time. Sometimes you have to make a sacrifice to advance the runner... and that's OK. The guild built in extra time for when life throws a curve ball and schedules were hectic. And, the final outcome was grand!

TEAM = together, everyone achieves more.
    If you belong to a guild, I hope it offers a Challenge opportunity and you get involved. If you don't belong to one, find one in your area, get some friends together and make up your own challenge, or sign up to participate in a Challenge on-line or through one of the quilting publications.

    My next Challenge? ...working with the free-form blocks that were returned in my Brown Bag. Are they not fabulous?!?
    Contributions to my Monet-inspired Brown Bag Challenge.
    To see all the Brown Bag team efforts, visit the Choo Choo Quilters Challenge recap.

    Tuesday, November 5, 2013

    Group collaboration—Part II

    This is a continuation of the Choo Choo Quilters Brown Bag Challenge (read Part I hereand the contents from the fourth bag that I received. The theme and block design was well established but the fabrics were quite diverse—felted wool, batiks, flannels and cottons. The previous contributors established a bordered block design with a flower in the center of the block. 
    Flower blocks contributed by previous participants.
    A nice design element in some blocks was where parts of the focal image (a leaf, petal, stem) extended into the border—providing a sense of depth. My task for this bag was to find or design a pieced or appliquéd flower quilt block. The inspiration came from this display at a quilt show I attended during that time.
    Inspiration at a regional quilt show.
    My contribution included one appliqué block and one pieced block. I followed suit and one of my flowers had elements extending into the frame.
    My two flower blocks: appliqué (left) and pieced (right).
    Here are all the blocks Kim received at the final reveal.
    The final group of nature-inspired blocks.
    A revisit of techniques learned in a workshop with Nancy Crow was the impetus for my contribution to the fifth bag. With a request for a Gee's Bend style quilt, I abandoned the rotary ruler and did all free-hand rotary cutting—whoop, whoop!
    Contents from the last bag.
    Newly created strip sets were added to the bag, and I also re-configured blocks from previous contributors. This was very liberating and allowed (per the Challenge guidelines)! In reading the accompanying Brown Bag Journals, I was not the only participant to invoke this option.

    As the last contributor, you can get a better perspective of the project—you have more pieces to work with and can insure everything is unified and cohesive. The last contributor can fill in any holes and add final touches (like making a label), or crank out a few extra blocks to complete the top. If needed, she/he can reign in the renegade bits... unless they support the composition. I think this is the last person's responsibility... "turn off the lights and lock the door if you're the last one out," you might say.
    Final strip sets and blocks. 
    The other component of the Challenge was the Quilt Journal, which I will discuss in Part III of my ramblings. Stay tuned...

    To see what came out of all the Brown Bags, visit the Choo Choo Quilters Challenge recap.

    Sunday, November 3, 2013

    Group collaboration--Part I

    My quilt guild, the Choo Choo Quilters, had the big reveal of our 2013 Guild Challenge in October. It was a glorious exhibition! I blogged about the details of the Brown Bag Challenge here and showed what was included in my Monet-inspired Brown Bag.

    Now that the Challenge is "out of the bag" so to speak, I'd like to share some observations and the take-aways from this Challenge because it was different from others in which I have participated.
    My Brown Bag fabrics and Journal.
    For this Challenge, participants worked on each other's projects, rather than everyone working on their own. It was a group project in which there was collaboration by the participants, but only through written and non-verbal communication. An interesting aspect of working this way is following others in their work path.

    This is the first bag to which I contributed. It was pristine, had a specific game plan—a string quilt—and I was the first contributor. The string pieces (scraps) and foundation squares were pre-cut and ready to go. The sewing was totally enjoyable! I think I cranked out 15 to 20 six-inch blocks in an evening.
    String pieced blocks.
    Final string pieced quilt top.
    The second bag had a more open theme with instructions to "add, subtract, multiply or divide." It had a few blocks already completed and a pattern idea. I added a second block design (an abstract "multiply" sign) that incorporated the solid yardage and an inset strip technique. I also pieced a batch of 4-patch blocks using the 5" charm pack prints.
    Contents from the second Brown Bag.
    More medium-sized blocks and 4-patches were added by subsequent contributors. I'm curious to see what Janet will do with the large "X" blocks. She might slice-and-insert something. I can envision a wide strip from a floral print—for a little texture contrast. What do you think?
    Final blocks.
    This third bag was probably the most promising to see come together and one of the more successful, in my mind, considering with what it started. Betty, the bag's owner, was gifted with a stack of vintage circa 1950s blocks (with 1/2" to 5/8" difference in size among them).
    Contents from the third Brown Bag.
    I was the third contributor, so I could see a direction that was developing from the previous collaborators. Here is the start of this patchwork project.
    Pieces contributed by the first two participants.
    I purchased some background fabrics—to add color, variety, and more mid-tones— and began the auditioning process. The vintage blocks were set on point with setting triangles. I floated these Shoe Fly blocks to compensate for their different sizes. 

    My favorite take-away idea gleaned from this bag—to cut up the blocks into smaller bits—was inspired from the pieces previously contributed. I absolutely love this idea—especially after seeing the final outcome.
    Auditioning on the design wall.
    Look at where the chopped block bits ended up: the inside border, pieced into the outside border, and even in the corner blocks. This quilt top is so modern that it's difficult to imagine it started in the 1950s. A most successful time-span quilt top!
    Final time-span quilt top. 
    I will post the remaining bags in my next post. Until then, you can view all the results of the Choo Choo Quilters Brown Bag Challenge here.
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