Saturday, August 30, 2014

The River Journey exhibit and "Dewdle" quilt blocks during QuiltWeek Chattanooga

Since January of this year, I've been involved with the Chattanooga Modern Quilt Guild (CMQG) committee that is working with the Tennessee Aquarium and IMAX Theatre on quilt exhibits for AQS QuiltWeek Chattanooga, September 10-13, 2014. About 15 quilts will hang throughout the River Journey exhibit at the Aquarium. Here is a snippet of one of them, made by my friend, Vista.
"Glimpses of Fish" by Vista A. Mahan
There has been so much interest in the TN River Collaborative project that I wrote about here and here… that I thought I'd share a few more detail shots.

Detail: "TN River Project: a Collaborative"
Detail: "TN River Project: a Collaborative"
Detail: "TN River Project: a Collaborative"
Many members from various Chattanooga area quilt guilds are working with local businesses and attractions on exhibits and activities that would appeal to visitors—quilters and non-quilters alike—during QuiltWeek Chattanooga. I blogged about some of them. Here is a partial list:

QuiltWeek activities in Chattanooga.
Zuri Quilters exhibit and presentation at the Bessie Smith Cultural Center
Gee's Bend play at the Chattanooga Theatre Center
Quilts by children at the Creative Discovery Museum
TN River Collaborative project and quilt exhibit at the Tennessee Aquarium
"Quilts of Chattanooga" trunk show at Chattanooga WorkSpace
"Needle and Thread" art exhibit at Association for the Visual Arts Gallery
Quilt exhibit at Hamilton Place Mall

Pick up one of these brochures for a road map of activities and exhibits you won't want to miss during QuiltWeek Chattanooga. After you've spent the day admiring the AQS juried show and special exhibits, and supporting the vendors by shopping the vendor mall at the Trade and Convention Center, spend your evening at one of the downtown quilting exhibits.

If you are an early riser, experience artist Hollie Berry's "Dewdle" quilt blocks before the show opens (see video here).
Dewdle quilt block at Coolidge Park, Chattanooga, TN.
Hollie creates quilt block-inspired doodles using the morning dew as her medium.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Gee's Bend performances during QuiltWeek Chattanooga

"Gee's Bend, A Story of the Alabama Quilters"
performance at the Chattanooga Theatre Center.
Another special quilting event during QuiltWeek Chattanooga is the performance of the play, "Gee's Bend, A Story of the Alabama Quilters," by Elyzabeth Gregory Wilder at the Chattanooga Theatre Center. Nine performances will be given from September 10 through 21, including weekend matinees.

The play was originally performed at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival. The story is about the women of a remote rural community in southern Alabama—their growing up and taking care of their families, their remarkable experiences during the Civil Rights era, and their time in the spotlight as their quilts were shown in art museums across the country.

My friend, Janet, and twice fellow guild member (we both belong to the Choo Choo Quilters and the Chattanooga Modern Quilt Guild), is curating an exhibit for the Theater Center in conjunction with the Gee's Bend performances. This exhibit will feature quilts inspired by the Gee's Bend style of quilts—bold, graphic compositions with a free-form, improvisational piecing style.

Janet brought a quilt she is working on to a recent guild meeting. Here is a detail of her quilt… that she is quilting by hand! Notice the piece of denim from an old pair of blue jeans in the patchwork.
Detail of a quilt in the style of the Gee's Bend quilters.
I am honored that Janet has chosen my piece from a past Choo Choo Quilters Guild Challenge to include in the Theater Center's quilt exhibit. The name of the Challenge was "A Novel Idea," and my inspiration reference was the book, "Steve Jobs," by Walter Isaacson. You can read about the Challenge in this post.
"They had grown up among movie stars,
but to them Jobs was a true celebrity."
A group of my friends have our tickets for the play and we can't wait. I hope you will consider seeing one of the performances as well as the quilt exhibit at the Center. At one of the matinee performances, the playwright, Elyzabeth Gregory Wilder, will be on hand for a Q&A session. What a treat!
Elyzabeth Gregory Wilder and a few of the Gee's Bend actresses.
If you would like to volunteer as an usher for a performance, your admission is complimentary. Leave me a comment and I can put you in touch with Janet.

Info about other Chattanooga area activities during QuiltWeek can be found here.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Angle Improv: "where the measurements are made up and the points don't count!"

Piles of strips and scraps: the cast of my Angle Improv class.
While living in Chicago, my college buddies and I enjoyed several live performances at The Second City. [A great date nite or make it a girls nite out.] Second City is where many Saturday Night Live (SNL) comedians—John and Jim Belushi, Gilda Radner, Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Mary Gross, to name just a few—got their start, as well as the precursor of the TV version, SCTV.

Toward the end of a Second City performance, the troupe did an improv session [a favorite of mine and my friends] where the actors would take disparate phrases (a place, a career profession, a situation, etc.), suggested by the audience, and build a skit around it. If you've ever seen "Whose Line is it Anyway," you know what this is.

Improv is an unscripted, think-on-your feet, kind of performance—with an unexpected, delightful, entertaining and hysterically comic outcome that the actors cannot plan nor the audience anticipate. This is exactly how my Angle Impov class was earlier this month.
"Oh, what fabrics to choose… what to choose… let's be bold!"
Six courageous, open-minded, looking-for-a-fabric-adventure quilters attended my class. They sewed, sliced and shuffled fabric strips—mostly on faith and in the technique I was teaching.
Slicing and sewing.
The "project" was unscripted (NO pattern). All the cutting and trimming measurements were "made up" and, as Drew Cary would say, "and the points don't count!" 
The classroom design wall. Blocks in-progress.
What fabulous outcomes we had! The diversity of pre-cut strips and fabric scraps—batiks, prints, solids, florals, geometrics—the students brought to class were energizing and colorful. Here is Candy, analyzing a potential block layout on the design wall.
Standing back from the design wall to see the composition emerge.
Batiks were mixed with black/white prints, solids accented a monochromatic collection of prints, sweet florals mixed with stripes and brights.
My "Angle Improv" class at Pins and Needles Quilt Shop.
Photo courtesy of Stacy Slockbower.
I'll have one of my Angle Improv quilts at the upcoming AQS QuiltWeek ChattanoogaSeptember 10-13. And, if you're interested in taking this class, or would like me to teach it at your guild, let me know! You'll be surprised how fun, easy and liberating this technique is.

Whoo-Hoo—nothing needs to match and the points don't count!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Celebration Slices Tree: appliqué the finishing touches

"Celebration Slices—Christmas"
by Tammy Silvers
Pattern available at your local quilt shop.
There are 128 days until Christmas.

Have you made your list? Are you checking it twice (and hopefully checking OFF completed projects)?

I mentioned this cute holiday tree door hanger in this blog post. Here it is, complete with the appliquéd star and ball ornaments. As instructed by the pattern, these bits were added after the quilting was completed—partly so they look like they are hanging "on" the tree and partly because the pattern designer used non-woven felt for the decorations. I used quilting cotton (a fat quarter of Crushed in daffodil by Blank Quilting Corporation did the trick).

Remember, I reduced the pattern for this project? Print it at 85% so it's a perfect size for a door. And, Blank Quilting Corp's new Color Story pre-cut strips (20 per package) is a perfect fabric solution: an assortment of pretty, festive greens for the tree… pre-cut and ready to go… and just the right amount of strips for this little project!

Here is a close-up of the free-motion quilting. Swirls in the background and cascading feather-like tree boughs on the tree.
Celebration Tree: detail of free-motion quilting.
The border is a meandering vine with feathers, curvy fronds and spiral motifs.
Celebration Tree (back): free-motion quilting on border.
And the faux-piped binding added that little extra finishing touch that ties in the blue background and the backing fabric [Fusion Illusion navy by Blank Quilting Corp.].
Faux piped binding.
This fun pattern also has instructions for 2 other special occasions--fall/Halloween and birthdays. How about a 20-strip Color Story package in orange and purple for the pumpkin? Color Stories red and ivory for the birthday cake? There's a Color Story for every season and occasion!
"Celebration Slices" offers a variety of designs for different occasions.
Compliment the pattern with a Color Story package of strips.
If you're coming to AQS QuiltWeek in Chattanooga, September 10-13, visit all the fabulous vendors at the vendor mall. Ask for the 20 and 40 strip packages of pre-cut Fabrications strips by Blank Quilting Corp. They will make all your quilting projects go quicker. Gotta keep checking off that list...
Celebration Tree
16.5" x 38"
Oh, and if you have any strips left over... use them for the binding! After all, they're already cut 2.5 inches wide… and ready to sew.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Draw momentum from your local quilting community

Finished cuddle quilt 34" x 58"
and strip pieced top (left).
You've heard the phrase, "It takes a village." I remind myself of this when I struggle to carve out time to contribute to my quilt guild's Cuddle Quilt community service project. I realize this project is a group effort, but I want to do my part, too.

Due to a deadline-driven committee meeting for the quilt exhibit at the Tennessee Aquarium for Chattanooga QuiltWeek, my friend, Vista, and I were regrettably unable to arrive in time to participate in our guild's annual Cuddle Quilt (CQ) workshop. This workshop is held one Saturday a year for guild members to get together and crank out charity quilts. It's a relaxing, social and productive day and we make phenomenal headway toward our cuddle quilt goal.

Vista and I arrived at the workshop just in time to help pack up the supplies and clean up the kitchen. However, I was able to pick up a stack of precut pieces that our workshop coordinator had prepared (thank you, Sherry!). So, with an impending guild meeting tomorrow evening, I felt the momentum and inspiration from my local guild community to put pedal to the metal and whip up a quilt top and finish quilting an in-progress lap quilt.

This little strippy quilt top was made last year. It has accompanied me to several Free-motion quilting demonstrations, so it has a variety of stitch patterns on it.
Free-motion quilting: loops.
swirls and bubbles...
Free-motion quilting: swirls and bubbles.
 feather and paisley shapes...
Free-motion quilting: paisley.
 ribbon candy...
Free-motion quilting: ribbon candy.
… and spirals.

Along with practicing free-motion quilting designs, charity quilts are also great palettes to experiment with thread/fabric color schemes. Here is a turquoise 50 wt. cotton thread on a tomato red border. Zingy… wouldn't you say?
Free-motion quilting with a contrasting thread color.
The binding was attached by machine.
Strip quilt 34" x 58"
With all the exhibit quilts, competition quilts and class samples lately, it was a welcome change to do some free-motion quilting... just for the pure enjoyment of it! I'll turn in my strippy cuddle quilt at tomorrow's guild meeting.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Special exhibits around town during AQS QuiltWeek

Chattanooga area quilters are working diligently preparing for AQS QuiltWeek Chattanooga, coming September 10-13, 2014. We love quilts and quilting of all kinds (and we know fellow quilters do, too) so we want to make you, our visitors, feel welcome!
The work of the Zuri Quilters from middle Tennessee showcases
a bold use of color and improvisational patchwork. 
My friend, Karen, one of the FiberAntics Artist Trading Card (ATC) artists and a fellow guild member, is coordinating with the Bessie Smith Cultural Center to bring the work of the Zuri Quilters for an exhibit, opening September 5.

Zuri Quilters Artist Talk
Bessie Smith Cultural Center
September 11, 6 pm.
"Zuri" means "beautiful" in Swahili, and these quilters produce stunning work in bright, saturated colors and bold designs, mixing contemporary fabrics with African-inspired prints. The Zuri Quilters guild celebrated a 5 year anniversary in February, 2014.

Don't miss a special Artist Talk from the Zuri Quilting Guild on Thursday evening, September 11, at 6 pm at the Cultural Center. Show your AQS Show attendee badge or wristband for free admission to this presentation!

We're looking forward to seeing everyone at QuiltWeek Chattanooga. Hope this makes you feel welcome! 

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Tennessee River Collaborative Project

I mentioned the special quilt exhibit, the "Tennessee River Project: a Collaborative," by members of the Chattanooga Modern Quilt Guild (CMQG) that will be on display at the Tennessee Aquarium during Chattanooga QuiltWeek in an earlier post. Thought you might like to see a few more peeks at some of the marvelous work of Chattanooga's quilters.
Detail: "Tennessee River Project: a Collaborative"
Detail: "Tennessee River Project: a Collaborative"
Detail: "Tennessee River Project: a Collaborative"
All of the quilted pieces are joined at points where the river flows from one map section into the next.
Detail of how the quilted sections meet.
I hope you will visit this quit exhibit at the Tennessee Aquarium during AQS Chattanooga QuiltWeek, September 10-13, 2014, as well as others around town.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Improv piecing with pre-cut strips and scraps

"Angle Improv" class with Fabrications 2.5" pre-cut strips
(Strip collection by Blank Quilting Corp.)
Open. Select. Sew!

This is the procedure for working with those packages of pre-cut 2.5" strips. Easy-peasy!

Wanna try it?
I'm teaching a class next week, Tuesday, August 12, on improvisational piecing that uses a package of Fabrications pre-cut strips and scraps from your stash. It can't get any simpler than that!

Every time I use this improvisation piecing technique, I am amazed at the creative possibilities—color, composition, movement. The piecing is easy, the cutting is liberating and the design possibilities are limitless!

Come and join me for a dose of this strippy creativity! Call Pins and Needles Quilt Shop at [423] 668-8734 to register. There are only a couple spaces left.

Here are a few examples of quilts I've made with this technique...
Read about my "3 Sisters" quilt here.
Read about my "3 Sisters" quilt in this blog post.
Detail of quilting: "3 Sisters"
 This one is called "Crimson Inspired." Read details here.
"Crimson Inspired" 
And here is a little peek of a recent project that combines improv piecing with Dresden Plate appliqués. It's just too much fun!
Improvisational piecing with appliqué.
Like the free-motion quilting on these quilts? 
I'm teaching Intro to Free-motion Quilting on your home sewing machine on Saturday, August 16 at Pins and Needles Quilt Shop. This is an absolute beginner class. No previous free-motion experience required. This class fills quickly, so go ahead and sign up for this one while you're at it.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Modern quilt Collaborative
at AQS QuiltWeek Chattanooga

In conjunction with AQS QuiltWeek Chattanooga [September 10-13, 2014], area quilters are gearing up for the show and also working on additional quilt exhibits around town. I have been heavily involved with a committee that is coordinating quilt exhibits at the Tennessee Aquarium and IMAX Theatre.
Detail of my section of the Tennessee River Project Collaborative
from the Chattanooga Modern Quilt Guild (CMQG).
One of the projects that the committee initiated for the Aquarium exhibit was a group collaborative project with members of the Chattanooga Modern Quilt Guild (CMQG). This has been really exiting to watch unfold!

Twenty-three guild members (including me) responded to the Call to Action: "Tennessee River Project: a Collaborative." To begin, each participant received a map with a section of the Tennessee River.
A map of a specific section of the TN River was given to each participant.
Although color, fabrics, technique(s) and composition were the choice of the quiltmaker, the requirements specified that the entry and exit points of the river on each participant's map was to be maintained and the finished piece was an exact size (100% reproduction) of the map.

At the July CMQG meeting, the individual maps were revealed. Here is a portion of the project with the quiltmakers.
CMQG members display their portions of the TN River Collaborative project.
Photo by Martha Steele.
I am gathering information about other exhibits that will be on display at various Chattanooga locations—the Creative Discovery Museum, the Chattanooga Theatre Center (along with a production of "Gee's Bend"), to name a few—during QuiltWeek Chattanooga. I'll include this information in future posts along with additional snippets from the TN River Collaborative project.

Be sure to schedule time during AQS QuiltWeek Chattanooga to take in all the quilts! They are truly Art-in-Fabric.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Capture an occasion with an album quilt

Signature block, album block, autograph block, memory block… whatever you call it, a quilt block with a personal note is a great way to commemorate a special occasion. It's an autograph book… in fabric!
Signature block.
Recently, a group of new quilters [they call themselves the "Squirrels"] wanted to surprise the owner of their local quilt shop, Pins and Needles, with signature quilt blocks to commemorate the shop's first anniversary. Since they were all beginners, they enlisted my help.
My signature block included a date, city and state.
I suggested that the Squirrels use this great block pattern that my friend, Janice Pope [Anything But Boring patterns], wrote. It was perfect for the "Secret Squirrel Signature Block Mission."

So, what makes a good pattern for a signature block?
  • look for a quilt block that has ample space for a personal message or for participants to sign their names. (The center square of this block finished at 3.75"). 
  • it's best if the signature area is surrounded (on all sides) by patchwork. This prevents people from writing in what become the seam allowances—especially if non-quilters are participating in the project.
  • a simple, graphic pattern (in this case, a star) is visually pleasing, will unify the layout and is manageable for quilters of every skill level.
  • a pattern that requires 2 (or at most 3) different fabrics or values (including the signature fabric) is a good choice. Variety will happen innately when the blocks are collected.
  • consider an appropriate block size relative to the number of participants. For example, fifty 12-inch blocks could make a queen size top (without any sashing or borders). Choose a block size that will produce the size quilt you want in the end. This block finished at 9".
  • you can choose a color scheme, or let everyone's personality come through in their fabric choices.
  • Keep it simple. The signatures are the star of this show!
This block pattern worked especially well because the star points floated. The blocks were constructed oversized and then trimmed to 9.5" (unfinished). All the beginners in this quilt group were successful!
Variety will be achieved from the fabrics chosen by each participant.
The shop kitties were represented in a block.
And the blocks were packaged and delivered in an inconspicuous box from a favorite local restaurant. The shop owner thought the group brought in a box of Marco's cheesy bread to share… and she even tried to warm it up in the toaster oven! (We stopped her.)
Blocks were packaged in a box from a favorite local restaurant.
Stacy, the shop owner, was surprised and touched. (The pouty face was her trying not to cry.)
Stacy (right) opens the box of quilt blocks.
Her daughter, Gabby, is on the left.
 Here she is reading the messages on the blocks.
Gabby (left) and Stacy (right) reading the signature blocks.
Want to make an album quilt? Here are a few tips:
  • Iron a piece of freezer paper on the back side of the block in the signature area. This will stabilize the fabric for writing.
  • Use a waterproof fabric marker (like a Micron .05) to write a message or sign your name. These pens are designed to work on fabric and come in many colors.
  • Include your first and last name and a date. Years down the road, you might not remember who "Jane" was. A date will help authenticate when the quilt was made.
Stabilize the signature area by ironing a piece of freezer paper on the back.
As for keeping a Signature Block Project a secret? You're on your own for that.
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