Sunday, March 24, 2024

Packing my quilts for Improv at the Folk School

 This is the pile of quilts I’m packing for the Improv Quilting class at the Folk School next week. 

Improv quilts, tops and samples for a trunk show at the John C. Campbell Folk School.

I have copious notes, improv patchwork samples, and lots of inspiration and ideas to share with the students. It’s a full class and I have a fabulous assistant once again. I hope the weather is mild and I can squeeze all the improv paraphernalia into my car.

Sunday, March 17, 2024

Winter of Care and Repair Challenge results, a Make Nine finish

The Winter of Care and Repair Challenge is coming to a close on March 19, the Spring Equinox. In recapping my mends and recycling efforts, I was very pleased with the number of accomplishments.

Winter of Care and Repair Challenge. December 21, 2023 - March 19, 2024.

Care and Repair Pledge

My Winter of Care and Repair pledge was focused on textiles. It included these categories:

  • mending and repairs, 
  • upcycling/repurposing, 
  • organizing my fabric stash, and 
  • finding ways to minimize scraps.

Mending and Repair

When you sign up to participate in a Challenge, and decide upon your pledge, there’s an on-going awareness of your goals. This definitely made me more involved. One of my successful categories from the pledge was Mending and Repair.

Replacing missing buttons on two shirts.

Finishes include:

  • abundant button replacementsshirt fronts, shirt cuffs, a jacket—on 5 different garments. (When you ask family members if they have anything that needs mending, the items come out of the woodwork!) One garment was mine and the rest were my husband’s. 
  • mending a collar on a jacket,
  • mending a burn hole in a dish towel
  • mending the patch pocket on a pair of pants, and
  • mending a seam in the armscye of a me-made Collins Top.

Mending the inside collar of a jacket.

Upcycling and Repurposing

This was another successful category. I've recycled orphan and worn out socks into 7 Loopy Loom woven hot pads.  

Upcycling old socks using the Loopy Loom.

Upon discovering several old knitting swatches, I decided to frog (un-knit) a few of them and repurposed the yarn in another knitting project. I've completed 3 knitted dish cloths and am working on a pair of placemats with the frogged yarn and leftovers.

Recycling the yarn from knitted gauge swatches.

Minimizing Fabric and Yarn Scraps

I continuously work through leftover yarns and fabric scraps in my stash. Completed projects during Winter Care and Repair include four quilt tops for kitty (charity) quilts—made with fabric scraps.

Scrappy kitty quilt top.

A pile of discontinued fabric samples was donated to the Friends Life Community, an organization at which my buddy, Jim Sherraden, volunteers as an art teacher.

Discontinued fabric scrap donation to Friends Life Community.

Yarn scraps are being knit into a pair of placemats. One placemat is complete and the other nearly finished.

Scrap yarn knitted placemat.

Organizing the stash

Even though I was unable to attack a big organization project, small dents were made in the yarn and fabric stashes through this online Challenge. I found and repurposed the knit gauge swatches and used up scraps for the charity quilts. 

On a positive note, I will say that various articles of clothing got mended much quicker and thus back into circulation because of the Challenge. The Challenge created more focus on the idea of valuing what we already own instead of discarding and buying new. I'm happy about that.

The second Make Nine finish for 2024

This online Challenge is fulfilling my Make Nine 2024 Online Challenge prompt. I continue the search for creative scrap projects for fabrics and yarn. And I've also set aside other items for mending and repairing.

Make Nine 2024 tracker.

Winter of Care and Repair was a worthwhile Challenge! Thank you to Jeanna Wigger at @thepeoplesmending for hosting this Challenge.

Sunday, March 10, 2024

Quarter Circle Improv quilt: a Make Nine finish

We’ve all got projects in various stages of “completeness.” Truth be told, I have too many to count. In fact, this project has been in the “just needs to be quilted” stage for years, but has finally moved to the “completed” list. And it’s fulfilling my Make Nine 2024 “UFO” prompt.

Quarter circle improv quilt.
23.5” x 23.5”

This quilt was a result of a class with art quilter, Carol Taylor, at a Zonta Quilts for a Change exhibit. The year was either 2005 or 2006. (Yep, a UFO from about 18 or 19 years ago!) The top resurfaced while planning for my upcoming Intro to Improvisational Quilts workshop at the JC Campbell Folk School at the end of the month. The quilt top and the workshop provided a synergy to get it finished.

Quilting and finishing an improv quilt

I pondered how to quilt this quilt for a while. My favorite quilting method is free-motion, but I needed to make sure the quilting highlighted the improv patchwork. The solution was a mix of free-motion and ruler work. 

Free-motion quilting and ruler work.

Reflecting on a conversation with improv quilter, Maria Shell—who says she likes to quilt each patchwork unit separately and changes thread colors to match the fabric—I decided to pull threads with colors that blended with each of the fabrics in my quilt and give her method a go. 

Beginning with the center, I began with free-motion quilted pebbles (my FMQ choice). Moving to the outer rings, zigzags and echo quilting in each fabric of the quarter circles reinforced and highlighted the improv curves. With all the fabric colors, there were many changes in the top thread. The bobbin thread remained the same throughout.

Free-motion pebbles, zig-zags and echo quilting highlights the curve piecing.

The black/white inner border was stitched in the ditch on both sides. Each quarter circle patch on the outside border was quilted individually with a different pattern—some with the ruler, some were free-motion. The thread color was matched to the background fabric. The texture of the quilting shows without a distraction of a contrasting thread.

Here is view of the quilting from the back.

Back view: Free-motion quilting.

Rather than a binding, a facing was used to finish the edges.

Quilt stats

  • top thread: 50 wt. 2-ply cotton in a matching color to the fabric.
  • bobbin: 80 wt. poly DecoBob in a pre-wound bobbin.
  • quilting: 8.5 hrs. free-motion and ruler work; approximately 2 bobbins.

A Make Nine finish

My improv quarter circle quilt has been documented on my 2024 Make Nine Challenge tracking sheet! And, I have an improvisationally pieced quilt sample for the workshop.

UFO prompt for Make Nine 2024.

Thursday, March 7, 2024

18 days into the 100 Day Project

With over two weeks into my 2024 100 Day Project, 100 Days of Paint, Paper, Stitch, I've learned a few things already.

Watercolor painting: value exercise

By working through various exercises from the Watercolor for Relaxation workshop with Willa Wanders, these are my initial discoveries about watercolor painting.

  • I've learned that the brush size and the water::pigment ratio is important to get a smooth flat wash. I'm getting better at painting smooth flat washes.

  • I like the subtle color shifts when adding a mixed neutral to a color. It adds sophistication to the composition.

  • Although I thought a tear-out, perfect bound block of watercolor paper would be good choice for this project—so I could easily tear out an individual page for stitching—I would prefer a spiral bound sketchbook for painting. It's much easier to rotate the sketchbook page that I’m working on when the book is spiral bound. Spiral sketchbooks with perforated sheets are available so if I need to tear out a page to stitch, I can still do that.

Choosing thread colors for stitching.

Stitching on paper

My end goal of this 100 Day Project is to take watercolor compositions and add stitching to them. My discoveries with this are:

  • Choosing thread colors to match paint colors is more challenging. I am finding a lighter value of thread matches the paint colors better than a darker one. 

  • At this point in my process, I prefer the thread to add a subtle texture to the painted shapes rather than calling attention to stitching by using a contrasting thread.

Watercolor painting and hand stitching.

In addition to stitch, I’m combining slow drawing with the watercolors. More compositions are planned using multiple mediums.

Watercolor with slow drawing.

Old supplies with a new purpose

I'm using “tools from the past” for a new purpose! This has renewed my excitement for using these tools again. This flat wash exercise uses a quilting stencil.

Color mixing exercise using a quilting stencil.

A plastic drafting template that I used with rapidograph pens on paste-ups "back in the day" was used for this color mixing exercise. 

Using a drafting template for watercolor exercise.

I am enjoying the slowness of watercolor painting. More complex designs and the compositions that require color mixing take longer to complete. This contributes to relaxation and mindfulness of the process in this 100 Day Project.

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