Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Paper piecing class preps quilters for Arcadia Avenue BOM

Twisty Star, Intro to Paper Piecing.
In preparation for an upcoming Block of the Month (BOM) program, one of our local quilt shops asked me to teach my "Twisty Star" Intro to Paper Piecing class. Anna, the owner at Sew 'n So Quilt Shop, is rolling out the Arcadia Avenue BOM next month and this quilt uses paper piecing for the block construction. My Twisty Star class is geared toward quilters who are new to paper piecing or anyone who needs a refresher on the technique. So, for the quilters that spent last Saturday with me, you're all set to tackle Arcadia Avenue!

Because of the paper piecing demand, one more session of the Intro to Paper Piecing class is scheduled for this Saturday, October 1. Call today (706) 217-8111 if you want to join me!

In last Saturday's class, the classroom was full. The energy was high and everyone was excited to learn this technique.
I had a blast with these students!
Kay (left) and Nita at my Intro to Paper Piecing class.
They were quick to pick up the technique and made tremendous progress in class. Here are some of the blocks that were completed in class. I found it interesting that the majority of the students chose a darker background this time. Usually I see lighter backgrounds. A change in trends, perhaps? Or maybe the class sample provided a subliminal influence...
Students' finished Twisty Star paper pieced blocks.
Anyway, I don't know if it's the fall season coming on and everyone is getting back into the groove of quilting and sewing, or if these students wanted this project completed before embarking on the Arcadia BOM, but several of the students have already finished their Twisty Stars and sent me photos. Way to go! 

Here is Kay's Twisty Star. Great choice of fabric for the border, don't you think? The flowers and leaves make a lovely complement to the geometric angles of the star.
Kay's Twisty Star
Denise used a festive collection of reds and blacks. You might not see it in the photo, but these fabrics have metallic highlights that enhanced the prints. And Denise's project is already quilted!
Denise's Twisty Star
Jo-Anne chose a primary color scheme which shows off wonderfully on the dark background. The yellow star points make quite an impact. Great job!
Jo-Anne's Twisty Star
Back to the impetus of this class... Shown below is a sneak peak of the Arcadia Avenue BOM blocks at Sew 'n So Quilt Shop. The quilt design has a modern vibe and Anna's choice of blacks, whites and greys, paired with a rainbow of batiks is stunning.
Upcoming BOM program at Sew 'n So Quilt Shop features paper piecing.
I am looking forward to another group of eager quilters in this Saturday's Intro to Paper Piecing class. If you want to learn or get a refresher, call Anna at Sew 'n So Quilt Shop (706- 217-8111). Paper piecing offers several advantages over traditional piecing, it's fun (especially with a group like those in last week's class) and it's a good technique to have in your quilting repertoire.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Quilt show afterglow and
Reasons for taking on-site quilting classes

My quilt, "Guitar Strings Improv" hanging in the
AQS Chattanooga quilt show.
QuiltWeek afterglow...

Last week we were feeling the opposing forces of being exhausted from the physical aspects of walking the parking garages and the convention center, running to and from classes and lectures, and the excitement and joy from seeing the exquisite, innovative work of the quiltmakers and award winners, visiting with quilting friends, and discovering new products and techniques associated with quiltmaking. Yep, that's QuiltWeek and "QSA" [Quilt Show Afterglow]. Hopefully, the scale was tipped in favor of the excitement, and the learning for those that attended.

In addition to volunteering every day during the show, I made time to take a string piecing class with Lynn Harris and attend some lectures for my personal growth as a quiltmaker. Yes, you can take on-line classes, and buy books (of which I have many!), but taking a class in person offers so much more. Here are thoughts about taking on-site classes.

Thoughts about on-site classes

Real-time dialogs
With on-site classes, there is a live dialog between teacher and student—or teacher and multiple students—that doesn't happen elsewhere. You can post questions to on-line class platforms, but an immediate, real-time dialog and face-to-face discussion accompanied by the projects and quilt samples that are there in the classroom, is dynamic. As a class participant, you gain inspiration, insight and knowledge from all these impromptu conversations.
Lynn Harris discusses and show examples of string piecing.
Learning from fellow students
Some questions that come to light from a classroom of students or from a live audience cannot be anticipated. If you practice active listening in a class, you often learn from other students as well as from the instructor. In one of the lectures I attended, the instructor mentioned the Frixion pen. Four or five hands shot up with examples and experiences about this tool. [Read Jenny Lyons' research here and here].

Building community, making memories
Spending time with your friends in the class and working on the same project/technique offers a sense of community and camaraderie. It's a shared experience. We build memories when we take classes together.
Quilt Journalist, Meg Cox, discussed trends
and on-line quilt resources.
Additional detail and personal insights
With both classes and lectures, you hear the stories first hand. Instructors share personal philosophies and the "back story" about certain pieces in addition to the information about construction or fabric choices. Meg Cox shared small quilts from her personal collection. Paula Nadelstern's advice, "Don't be shy," was a good take-away from her lecture.

Discovering other options
Even when everyone in the classroom works on the same project or is learning the same technique, each one's interpretation or choice of color, fabric or thread is different. Walk around the room. See the other possibilities. Journey down other people's paths of discovery. You can't make every possible color or fabric combo for the project yourself (although you can certainly try).

Shared experiences
And there is something to be said about laughing... or crying... with a crowd. It's like being at the movie theater vs. watching the movie at home on your TV. It's a different kind of experience.

With all these advantages, I encourage everyone to sign up for and take on-site classes—at YLQS or at regional and national quilt shows. As a quilting instructor myself, I so much appreciate the students who attend my classes, ask questions and share their projects. I am also grateful for the shop owners who offer their spaces to let teachers share what excites them. After taking Lynn Harris's class, I also "bought the book." Do both, if you can.
"Every Last Piece" book by Lynn Harris
Before closing, a side note about volunteers and volunteering...
If you go to a quilt show and attend a class or lecture, please, PLEASE don't ask—or shame—the quilt show volunteers to break the rules, give you additional compensation, or be an accomplice to your stealing. If you paid admission to attend a lecture, you are given a handout (as authorized by the presenter and/or the show sponsor). One ticket = one handout. Often, the handout includes "notes" about what is presented in the lecture (not a script) so attendees don't have to write everything down as the presentation unfolds. This is a convenience for you, as an attendee.

A handout is additional work/content/information that is given to an attendee in exchange for payment of the class/lecture. So, please don't ask the volunteers—who are specifically directed to check name badges (with no cross-outs), confirm receipts of payment, and insure the corresponding session number appears on the attendees name badge—to Give. You. 2 or 3. Extra. Handouts. These are not theirs to give.

Volunteers are given explicit instructions about the job for which they volunteered. Please don't put them in a compromising position. You received your handout as part of the admission. Why do you need 2 or 3 more? The handouts are "notes" which would have less meaning for "another someone" who did not hear the talk. There is also a cost for preparing, printing and sometimes shipping them. And when the volunteer tries to explain to you the directions they were given, please don't retort with a sarcastic remark. They are doing their job and being good stewards of property that was entrusted to them. Thank you for your coorperation.
"You're never wrong to do the right thing." —from The Intern

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

QuiltWeek Chattanooga—game on!

Preparation and set up for QuiltWeek Chattanooga commenced on Monday. My guild friends and I volunteered to help hang the show quilts and special exhibit quilts while the vendors and AQS staff were busy setting up booths and displays.
Prepping for QuiltWeek Chattanooga, September 14-17.
I ran into Kay and Kathy from The Quilting Squares (Franklin, TN) unloading products and setting up their booth on Monday. 
Kay (left) and Kathy from The Quilting Squares Quilt Shop, Franklin, TN.
Melissa and Bill from Bernina Sew N Quilt Studio (Chattanooga, TN) had been bringing in and unloading boxes since Sunday.
Bernina Sew N Quilt Studio booth.
On Wednesday through Saturday, September 14 - 17, these aisles in the Chattanooga Convention Center will be buzzing with quilters and visitors—admiring the beautiful quilts, attending lectures and classes, shopping the vendor mall and learning about all the new products, quilting machines, sewing machines, tools and notions that are available for today's quilter and quilting enthusiast.
Setting up for QuiltWeek Chattanooga.
Come on down and join the excitement from Wednesday through Saturday, September 14 - 17. In addition to the show quilts, the special exhibits include the World Painters Challenge, selected antique quilts from the Patriotic and Presidential Collection of Sue Reich, works of Paula Nadelstern and two SAQA art quilt exhibits. QuiltWeek Chattanooga is on!

Sunday, September 11, 2016

E-textiles and soft circuits for quilts and quilters

LEDs incorporated into the quilted
Paris Rendezvous fabric panel.
Have you heard of E-textiles? Textiles or fabrics with electronics sewn into them?

A lot of research and development has been devoted to this topic in the science and medical fields and in the last few years it's moved into fashion and the performance arts. Now here is an example of electronics and soft circuits in a quilt! (I'm thinking about developing a class, so leave a comment if you're interested.)

This is the Paris Rendezvous fabric panel that was featured in this post. The "special embellishment" that I planned for this quilt is the incorporation of LEDs (light-emitting diodes). Can you see the white lights on the Eiffel Tower?

I had some peripheral exposure to e-textiles over the past few years and picked up a book on the topic, but had to make myself sit down and do hands-on experimenting with the technology to get my head wrapped around it. A shout out and thank you to my friend, the talented felting and weaving artist and instructor Geri Forkner, for the introductory tutorial this summer. I couldn't have gotten a better jump start into this amazing technology without her guidance and assistance. (Thank you again, Geri!)

Sparing you the tech babble about Ohm's Law, microcontrollers and circuits, I'll just offer a few off/on pictures of the LEDs on the Paris Rendezvous quilt. The lights are better seen in twilight or darkness, but hopefully the side-by-side photos will help.
Paris Rendezvous with LEDs off (left) and on (right).
There are three circuits on this piece—one for the tower lights and two others for the roses on each side. They all connect to a battery.
Paris Rendezvous with yellow and red LEDs in the roses: lights off (left) and on (right).
Can you find the two LEDs in the flowers below?
Paris Rendezvous with red LEDs in the roses: lights off (left) and on (right).
I am surprised that some of the terminology from a semester of basic electronics in undergrad school came back to me. (The printing and graphic arts program was under the College of Engineering at NIU, so I and my fellow printing majors were required to take the Intro Electronics class.) Dr. Hamm would be so pleased.

So what do you think? Electronics in quilts? Anyone interested in a class? Leave me a Comment with your thoughts and ideas. Thanks!

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Must Stitch, Paper Pieces, two must-sees for quilters traveling to Paducah

If you are a quilter, stitcher or maker, there are two stops you should make on your next trip to Paducah—Quilt City, USA—Kentucky. The first one is Must Stitch Emporium located on cobblestoned historic Market Square.
Must Stitch Emporium on Market Square in historic Paducah, KY.
Must Stitch Emporium is nestled among the shops, galleries and the theatre center on tree-lined Market Square in historic Lower Town Paducah, and just three blocks from the National Quilt Museum. The shop occupies two adjacent shotgun style spaces with exposed brick walls that provide an inviting backdrop for the colorful quilts, fabrics, threads and displays. Shop owners, Chris and Josh, are stocking the shelves with a selection of modern, classic and traditional fabric prints in today's on-trend color palettes. As can be seen in the pieced and appliqué samples throughout the shop, there are plenty of options to fulfill your quilting and stitching desires whether you lean toward modern or traditional, classic or whimsical—or if you do it all!

Another focus at Must Stitch is counted cross stitch and hand stitching. An impressive array of hand-dyed flosses and threads from Gentle Art, Classic Colorworks, DMC and Weeks Dye Works is available in the shop. So, if you're "in" to any kind of hand stitching, big stitch, embroidery, thread embellishment or canvas work, you'll have plenty of eye candy to choose from and to inspire you to get out your hand stitching needles.
From left: Josh, Chris and Denise at Must Stitch Emporium, Paducah, KY.
The shop has been only open for a short time this summer so the expansion plans [combining the two spaces which previously housed two different businesses] are still in progress. A bricked-up archway will be opened to allow indoor traffic flow between the two spaces and make way for a large classroom space and dedicated cross stitch area for supplies, notions and patterns. It is exciting to hear about what Chris and Josh have in store for Must Stitch. So on your next visit to Paducah, Must Stitch is a must-see!

Another gotta-stop-at place for quilters visiting Paducah is a favorite of mine, Paper Pieces—aka The Hexie House. I recently stopped in on Jess and JoAnne, the owners, to get the latest hexie news and peruse the EPP [English paper piecing] products and tools.
Paper Pieces (aka The Hexie House), Paducah, KY.
I had a few of my Glorious Hexagons blocks, so Jess and I did a mutual Show and Tell. She also mentioned that the entire crew at Paper Pieces is working on a new quilt-along that they hope to announce in a few months. Wait until you see what they've got cooking (piecing)! It's gonna be an interesting juxtaposition of history-meets-modern-meets-English Paper Piecing. If you enjoy EPP or the slow stitching movement or are intrigued by quilt history, you won't want to miss Paper Pieces' next program offering!

Monday, September 5, 2016

End of summer respite in Paducah

What better place is there for a quilter to spend a few days at the end of the summer than in Quilt City, USAPaducah, Kentucky??? My friend, Cathy, lives in Paducah and I decided to get away for a break to meet up with her, take advantage of a less-crowded time of year to visit the quilt museum, and enjoy the sites of downtown Paducah and the Ohio River riverfront. 
The National Quilt Museum, Paducah, KY.
This year, the National Quilt Museum is celebrating 25 years! In addition to the rotating exhibit of quilts from the museum's private collection showing in the main gallery, there are two special exhibits currently running. The quilts from the museum's permanent collection—winners from previous AQS shows—are a sight to be seen as you can get practically nose-to-nose with them to see all the details. This time, a piece by Michael James was on display and I learned that Michael James got his MFA at my Alma Mater, Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) where I got my MS. (The world gets smaller all the time.)

The two special exhibits are "Art Quilts of the Midwest" which runs through October 11, and "Here and There: Works by the Manhattan Quilt Guild" which is on display through November 15. Both of the special exhibits were of particular interest to me as they included art quilts and work by quilters pushing the quiltmaking and patchwork boundaries in creative and exciting ways.

The special exhibits included work by quilters you may be familiar with such as Susan Shie, Paula Nadelstern, Beth Markel and Victoria Findlay Wolfe, but the other exhibits introduced me to the work of artists such as Ludmila Aristova (and her dimensional cityscape that incorporates prairie points, pleats and pin tucks), Shin-Hee Chin (who does amazing threadwork pieces), Barbara Schneider (who uses stiffened fabric pieces to create sculptural fabric art) and Diane Núñez (who incorporates metal rods and other non-fabric elements from her training as a jeweler). Quilts from the "Art Quilts of the Midwest" exhibit are also in book form, written by Linzee Kull McCray. (If you can't see the show, get the book!)

Italian Grill on Broadway, Paducah, KY.
On a previous trip, Cathy recommended the Italian Grill on Broadway. I had eaten at the Grill on a previous trip, but that was quite a while back so a return visit was in order. We arrived 10 minutes before the restaurant opened so got a table before the crowds moved in. By the time we finished our Margherita artisan pizza, the place was hopping!
Cathy suggested we "walk off" dinner by heading down to the riverfront. Passing the shops, art galleries, boutiques and eateries down to the river, we noticed several street-level renovations in progress in a few of the buildings. No doubt, other small businesses will soon be part of this eclectic historic downtown. 
View of the Ohio River nearing sunset,  Paducah.
The riverfront accommodates car and pedestrian traffic. There are plenty of benches beside the sidewalk for sitting, conversation and enjoying the view. While we were there, a few cars pulled up and parked along the water's edge—presumably for a bit of recreational fishing before sunset. The gentle breeze along the water made for a bug-free evening but there was a hint of Fall in the 75-degree evening temperature.

It was a lovely visit with lots of inspiration. I'll write about two other stops during my visit in my next post.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Paris Rendezvous—quilting a fabric panel

Have you ever quilted a fabric panel? There are NO seam allowances to deal with, so the playing field—or rather the quilt top—is wide open for any kind of free-motion quilting, ruler work, thread painting or embellishment. I purchased this Eiffel Tower/Paris fabric panel by Timeless Treasures from Huntsville Sew and Vac with special embellishing in mind. To begin, it needs to be quilted.
Pin basting the Paris fabric panel. 
The chosen backing fabric is a tonal 108" wide backing. It looks woven, but it is a print. The beige color coordinated with the color palette of the Paris scene in the panel.

The tower was outline quilted first. See how the quilting shows on the neutral colored backing? That's what a light colored backing fabric with a subtle print will do—the quilting will show.
Eiffel Tower outline quilted (back view).
A few of the pink roses and leaves were also outline quilted. This provided definition to the flowers and gave the scene a sense of a foreground and background. The word "Paris" was outline quilted as well. The background fillers consisted of a concentric swirl motif with occasional pebble quilting to fill in the smaller spaces.
Free-motion quilting on "Paris Rendezvous."
Back view of free-motion quilting.
Here is the Paris panel sunlit by the morning sun. A forest green blender for the binding frames the composition.
Sunlit free-motion quilting on "Paris Rendezvous."
Many of my readers and ask about the threads I use in my free-motion quilting, so here are the thread and quilting stats.

Quilt stats:
Top thread: 50 wt. cotton; color: Tutti 36 (WonderFil Threads)
Bobbin: Bottom Line 60 wt. polyester; color 650 champagne (Superior Thread)
10 hours of free-motion quilting; 3 bobbins

The next stage is the embellishment that will highlight the Tower and surrounding roses. Stay tuned.
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