Friday, February 28, 2014

Improv patchwork for the kitties

Large, small, long and short, skinny strips, irregular hunks and everything in between… I've got fabric scraps! (What quilter doesn't?) And after hanging with the on-line Scrap Quilt Challenge Facebook group (sponsored by Fabrics N Quilts) over the last several months, and discussing crumb quilts, this is what I've decided to do with some of my scraps and fabric crumbs. These little quilts are for the recuperating kitties at the Cat Clinic located in Chattanooga's north shore area on Cherokee Blvd.
Improvisational patchwork.
Approximately 27" x 25" to fit the cages at Chattanooga's Cat Clinic.
Improvisational piecing is a perfect technique for using your scraps. Just take a piece of fabric and sew it to another one. Trim off any straggly bits so the pieces line up. Pick up another scrap and sew it on. Grow these bits into bigger chunks 'till you have the size you need.
Basically, it's no measuring, no stress, and just fun and easy sewing! And all those bits and pieces of fabric that you've saved? They are put to good use and have made room for new fabrics.
I did take color into consideration (loosely) if working with a theme print—like this underwater turtle fabric. I added strips and bits in colors that played off the colors in the focus fabric.
If the scraps had textural or geometric prints, they went together willy-nilly. Just make 'em fit, functional and useful—much like the maxim of today's Modern Quilting genre.
The 2.5" pre-cut strips come in handy for filling in the odd spaces. They also make binding a snap!

This improv patchwork is roughly 27" x 25" which fits nicely in the cages at the clinic. I'm planning flannel backings for these quilts as Dr. Toumayan, the Clinic's founder, says the cats like something warm to snuggle and rest on while they recover from a medical procedure.

So, if you are looking for a great scrap bender, make some kitty quilts for the Cat Clinic, or for the doggies and kitties at your local animal shelter! The fuzzy ones won't care if your seams don't match, if your quilting stitches are uneven, of if you knock the points off your triangles. (No quilt police over at the Cat Clinic!) The animals and staff will appreciate the love that comes with your quilts. After all, isn't that what quilting is all about??

Thursday, February 27, 2014

A glorious find

Look at these lovelies! Are they not gor-ge-ous?
Hand-dyed fat quarters by Karen Young
at Hyderhangout Quilt Fabric and More, Cleveland, TN
I snatched up these hand-dyed fat quarters at a quilt shop in Cleveland, TN, Hyderhangout Quilt Fabric and More for just $3 per fat quarter. There were also a couple of half-yard pieces. Get 'em while they're still there, 'cause something this unique and beautiful will not stay on the shelf for long.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Wanna make your patchwork glow?

I mentioned that I attended RaNae Merrill's lecture at the Smoky Mt. Quilters Guild in this earlier blogpost. This is one of the fabrics she has designed called Radiant. Can you see how it glows?
Radiant by RaNae Merrill for Blank Quilting.
Below is the beginning of my project from a new class that she is developing that uses it. The bias strip running up the center of this piece is Radiant in the hunter colorway. One end is light [bottom of picture] and graduates to a medium value and then to a dark hunter green [top of picture].
Using Radiant fabric for a bias stem.
Cutting this fabric panel crosswise or on the bias offers a glowing effect! The fabric does this all by itself—how cool is that?!?

Here is what a panel in the red colorway looks like. Lots of potential for spirals, bias stems, glowing borders and bindings, appliqué, patchwork or even as a background for silhouettes, landscapes, seascapes and scenes of all kinds!

When I asked RaNae about designing this fabric, she said she had been developing her spiral quilts around that time. "Quilters know what to do with this fabric," she added. So, here are a few examples of how RaNae and others have used these fabrics from the Radiant collection in quilts.
The starburst makes a perfect fussy-cut center.
"Birds of Paradise" by Priscilla Roehm
from Magnificent Spiral Mandala Quilts
"Sails & Waves" by RaNae Merrill
quilted by Linda V. Taylor
from Simply Amazing Spiral Quilts
"Heat Wave"  by Ruth Shadar
from Magnificent Spiral Mandala Quilts
For my quilting friends in Chattanooga, the surrounding areas and those who visit me via the web: 

Wanna get a hold of a panel or two of this fabulous fabric and its companion pieces?? Here are some shops that currently have it: Hyderhangout [Cleveland, TN], Persephone's Creations [Soddy Daisy, TN] (new colorways coming in), The Sewing Shop [Dayton, TN], Kiwiquilts [Powder Springs, GA], Red Barn Custom Quilts [Sevierville, TN], Little Blessings [Crossville, TN], Thread Bear Fabrics [Cumming, GA] or look for Quick Qut Quilts in the vendor mall of major quilt shows.

Make your next appliqué, patchwork, or landscape quilt glow!!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Colors of the Sun: a revisit of paper piecing

While prepping for my Piece by Numbers [Intro to Paper Piecing] class this past Saturday, I was reminded of my first quilt that incorporated the paper piecing technique. This is "Colors of the Sun," which I brought to class to show my students.
Colors of the Sun
38" x 47",  September 2001
I bring samples of my work to the classes I teach to show students various possibilities and examples of what can be done with the technique being taught in the class. Colors of the Sun was made in response to the first Guild Challenge* I ever attempted... after being a member for only about 2 months... in the first quilt guild I ever joined. A lot of firsts.
Paper pieced kimono blocks. 8.5" x 10.5" unfinished.
Another example are these kimono blocks (I made 9 of them). The pattern came from a quilting magazine (maybe McCall's Quilting?) from 7 or 8 years ago. This is a lovely—and appropriate—pattern for showcasing a collection of asian prints. I particularly like that these blocks are rectangular, not square. Having nine of these blocks would lend themselves to a traditional 3 by 3 layout (which is probably what I was originally thinking), but it might be an interesting juxtaposition to put the formal kimono block in an asymmetrical layout and leave space for free-motion quilting—something to ponder.

Another application for the paper piecing technique is when using tiny bits of fabric or creating in a very small format. These little ornaments are finished at 2" x 2".
Mini paper pieced ornaments. 2" squares.
The "Twisty Star" is the project the students work on in my class.
Twisty Star, class project.
Twisty Star quilting.
Saturday's students were busy working—trimming with the Add-A-Quarter ruler and following their thumbnail layout that they had colored.
Left: trimming seam allowances.  Right: checking the thumbnail color layout.
Here is some of the students' work—pieces, tops and quilts—from current and previous classes.
Students completed one quadrant of the block in class.
Carolyn's Twisty Star.
Deb's Twisty Star.
Mary's Twisty Star.
Sue's Twisty Star.
Janet's Twisty Star.
Jackie's Twisty Star.
Oh, and Colors of the Sun? It got a Judge's Choice and a Best Machine Quilting ribbon in the guild Challenge. It's one of my husband's favorite quilts and is currently hanging in the kitchen—heralding in the colors of Spring.

*The Challenge was called "The Pick 6 Challenge" and your entry quilt had to incorporate 5 or 6 items from the following list: yellow, purple, hunter green, sun, nine-patch, log cabin. Colors of the Sun incorporated all six.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Happy Valentine's Day

From the "Tour de Paris" collection by Blank Quilting.
Hope you do something you love with someone you love today!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

8 to 10 by morning

It snowed through the night…
 8:40 am. February 13, 2014.
8 to 10 inches...
Larry and Yuki.
and the wind fashioned some really cool snow sculptures.
Snow sculptures.
The snow only makes you warm when you shovel it.
Except for the fuzzy dog… she loves it!
The cold and snow does not phase Yuki.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Snow Day

Chronicling the "wintery mix" that finally arrived… periodic breaks from working in the studio to refill the travel cup with hot tea and honey.
9:20 am

10:20 a.m.  The snow stopped for a bit.

3:17 p.m.  Sometime in the afternoon the snow turned to frozen raindrops.

5:49 p.m.  Freezing rain turned back to snow.

6:23 p.m. Time for a grilled cheese sandwich and a bowl of chowder to knock off the chill.

A few croutons?
Aaah, better.
Do you dunk?

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

An evening with RaNae Merrill

Ever since my quilting friends, Laura and Anne, invited me to teach a Free-Motion Quilting workshop for the Smoky Mt. Quilters last year, we touch base periodically. Recently, they told me that RaNae Merrill was going to speak and teach for their guild. Sheesh… how could I not take advantage of this opportunity??? Gee whiz, I sell this woman's fabric designs!!!
Radiant by RaNae Merrill for Blank Quilting.
Seven colorways.
Her fabrics are really cool! [See her Radiant collection for Blank Quilting.] You might remember my Radiant Triangles quilt post... Yes. This is her. So, I go.

Her presentation for the guild chronicled her journey into the quilting industry. How doodling spirals got her thinking about quilt possibilities… how photography and travel lead to designing fabrics… and how her first meeting with the design department at Blank Quilting lead to the purchase of the designs that became the Radiant collection. Everything wasn't easy—there were a few rejections with her first book proposal—but she kept at it and now has two published books, Simply Amazing Spiral Quilts and Magnificent Spiral Mandala Quilts, and teaches around the country.
The underlying theme of her presentation, however, was that of encouragement to anyone who has ever considered or dreamt about doing something. If a possibility presents itself… take that chance. If a door opens a crack... push it open and see where it leads.

Guild members were treated to a wonderful Show and Tell of the many spiral and mandala quilts from RaNae's collection. She also instructed us on how to draw a basic spiral—a preliminary exercise for on of the workshops she taught that week. If you like paper piecing, the spiral quilts and RaNae's books are for you!
Learning to draw a spiral.
I was able to attend one of her workshops—on a new technique she is developing. I'll give you a peak of this project in a bit. For now, I'm going to watch some spirals being done on the ice by the Olympic ice dancers...

Friday, February 7, 2014

BOM quilts for every season

My friend, Kathy, the owner of Spring Creek Quilts and Fabrics, is a Block of the Month (BOM) queen. Whenever I get to visit her, she's got several of them going—in various stages.
Sampler quilt with machine quilted designs in variegated thread.
You saw the brightly colored sampler she made with Yvette in this blog post. She designed that quilt, by the way, and did the machine quilting on her long arm. Isn't the variegated thread simply spectacular on the solid black alternate blocks?

Kathy has a few new BOM programs starting in 2014, so if you like tackling a larger project by doing smaller, more manageable units on a monthly basis, give her a call. "Fairy Tales" has a sweet, fanciful, pink and green color palette and the finished quilt will fit a single or twin bed.
Fairy Tales BOM
This primitive style BOM quilt features blocks that have a small vignette surrounded by patchwork.
A primitive style BOM.
"Starlit Garden" is an appliqué BOM with a classic layout. The nine center blocks have a radial symmetry. The primary and secondary colors of the flowers, leaves and vines have a twinkling effect on the black ground.
Starlit Garden BOM.
Previous year's block-sets hang on design walls throughout the shop.
Look at all the details in these blocks! You can tell Kathy really loves appliqué and is so adept at choosing the most appropriate fabrics. She chose Fusion Illusion for the background of these blocks. Doesn't it look like a "wintery mix" swirling around the gingerbread house?
This Christmas holiday BOM has a nice mix of patchwork and appliqué blocks.
Here is a stunning water gardenscape. Lots of beautiful batiks in this quilt.
Again, look at all the detail in the blocks! Some of the flower petals are even 3-dimensional.
This is probably my favorite.
I like the bears ice skating on the pond.
Oops! Watch that slippery ice, little bear!
Oops! The little bear took a spill on the ice rink.

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