Wednesday, May 13, 2020

i Quilt finds its Forever Home

I had always hoped and dreamed that this might happen some day, and now it has!  The International Quilt Museum in Lincoln, NE has purchased my i Quilt to add to their permanent collection! This means so much to me, it is really hard to describe.  The feeling is good though, so very floating on air. It is such a tremendous honor to have my work included with so many of my esteemed colleagues and quilters who have come before me.

I have had a dream like this since I was a small child, drawing pictures of my toys (see this post).  In school, I was so very fond of my art classes.  And yet, I did not have a very direct path to art in my adult life. It would be easy now to say that some of my career choices were mistakes, but I think of them now as very important steps to get me to where I am today. And, somewhere along the experience of living a life, quilts became not just the thing to do in between events, but the expression of those events and took a more central role. And now my quilt will have an extended life through the special care and conservation at the IQM and through it's online presence in their on-line Collections database.  It is a tremendous honor to be included in quilting history in this way.

I have also donated a quilt to IQM.  It means so very much to me that they wanted this quilt. It is Hidden Messages and I love this quilt so much.  Perfect!
I have written a number of posts about the creation of this quilt (the beginning and the middle part), the reveal of the message behind the circles....if you are curious! :)

Wednesday, May 06, 2020

RJR Fabrics and New Solid Sample Cards!!!

I got in a new set of sample cards from RJR Fabrics!  I am so excited! It's like having a new box of crayons, or rather, a GIANT new box of crayons!

Here's one of the pages:

My only complaint is that they are are glued to the page.  And, for me, (and maybe everyone else too?), color is relative.  It looks different compared to what you put it next too.  Light is very important but so are the colors that surround it.  So, I am too perplexed by color to be able to order a color from a sample card like this.  Only one thing to do...

Rip them off the page!

This is so much fun! (full disclosure, I did it one by one, and put a sticky label on the back with the name and number of each color).  Anyway, I can move the little patches around and look at how the colors play with each other.  I love the combination above.  Reminds me of a salt marsh, which I must be thinking about after having read Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens.

Yes, now, I want to make a quilt with these colors, so I will be needing to order the fabric! And there won't be any surprises about the colors that arrive in the mail. And for someone as picky about color as I am, this is a huge and wonderful event!

The next one I played with I call, colors of kayaks! I can see a quilt here too! This is going to be so much fun! Did I say that already?

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

The Violet Protest
ten squares, 8" x 8"

As soon as I saw this project, I knew that I wanted to be a part of it.  It inspires me greatly! It is a call to make 8" blocks using equal parts of red and blue in ANY textile medium and then donate them to the project. The squares are going to be stacked in an installation in the shape of the letters "US" and then when the installation is over, the squares will be sent to each of the members of Congress.  So, if you don't want to make squares, you can still help out by donating some money to help pay for shipping.

They need a total of 26,750 squares!! And, the organizer is hoping to have contributions from each of the 50 states. As of today, I think there are volunteers for 49 of them!!

A mockup of what the proposed exhibit will look like
I decided to make little quilted squares.  I stitched the tiny tops and then used Mistyfuse on the backs.  Then I fused them to squares of felt.  This made for an easy finish after adding some machine quilting.  In case you are curious, it is super easy to quilt the little felt sandwich!

Here are my completed blocks.  Some are clear favorites of mine, others, less so.  But it was all good, and all were made while contemplating the healing the giant rift in our nation. I really like the values represented by this project: Civility and Respect, Citizenship, Compromise, Country over party and Corporate Influence, Courage, Candor, Compassion, and Creativity.

Thanks for stopping by.  Hope you will consider participating too! Every little bit helps!

Wednesday, April 01, 2020

Turn the Dial - Stealth Hanging Tube
detail of the back side of Turn the Dial with the matching hanging tube
To hang a quilt for an exhibit, or quilt show, or even on the wall at home, it needs to have a fabric sleeve or hanging tube sewn securely to the back.  For two-sided quilts, I like to make the hanging tube look like it is part of the design of the back side of the quilt.  For some quilts, this is super easy, especially if the top of the quilt is one piece of solid fabric all the way across.  For my yellow quilt, this was not the case.

note: This post is not meant to be a exact tutorial, but just a few tips to help you along the way if you ever desire to do something quite as crazy as this.  My experiences have taught me that just when I think that I have learned how to do this on an easier piece, I make a new mistake on the next one, and have to start over.  It has definitely been a learning curve for me.

My first idea was to get the paper template pattern out and use the top 8 or so inches of it to make a matching tube.  Sadly, this would not work because I inserted those random strips of color which changed the real sizes of my little arc pieces.  So, I needed a new template, one that matched the actual quilt.  Here's what I came up with:

I cut and ironed a long piece of freezer paper directly to the top of my quilt.

You can see the fabric through the paper.  So I took a pencil and traced the shapes underneath.  And, I started finding all the fabrics I used in this section of the quilt.  It is a crazy amount of different fabrics!

After tracing the shapes, I peeled the freezer paper up and then labeled the pieces and started cutting them apart.

Once I had the individual pieces cut, I ironed them to the front side of the corresponding fabrics.  Remember to cut a 1/4" seam allowance around each piece.

I think it gets a bit more complicated because the hanging tube is not sewn in a flat shape to the quilt back, it has a tuck in it so that it bellows out a bit.  This gives room for the rod to be inserted in the hanging tube and not distort the front of the quilt. The first tip is to try to match the bottom edge of your tube to the place where it will be sewn onto the quilt.  Here's a photo of all the pieces sewn together like a quilt top and placed on top of the actual quilt to check for placement and if it matches or not.

Also, when I pieced this section, I did not make it wide enough for the entire tube.  So, I cut another long white piece for the back of the tube and sewed along one of the long edges (right sides together) to make it wide enough.  Then finish the ends by turning under 1/4", twice and topstitching.  Then sew the remaining two long sides of the tube and turn it inside out.  Use a basting stitch to make a pleat for that extra ease on the front side of the tube.  Then it was ready to sew to my quilt.  After hand stitching in place, the basting stitches are removed.

As a little extra touch, I added my label to the inside of the tube before hand sewing the tube on the quilt.  This way, when you look at the back side of the quilt, the label is not visible and it adds to the illusion of "which side is the front?"

I love it!

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Diverging Distractions
back side of Turn the Dial
71" x 71"

For this side, I wanted to repeat a similar pattern, but instead of having just yellow, with a hint of black and white, I wanted to open up the color palette a little bit.
These cheerful and bright pops of color really compliment the pairing with the yellow. And, I really like how this side is contrasted with the front.  On the front, there is one obvious path.  On this side there are so many bright and beautiful paths.  It would be hard to choose just one way to go, but whatever choice, it will be a good one! It puts a lovely spin on the idea of distractions, which I believe has too many negative connotations in our world. I think we need both!
I love the opportunity to play with these lovely yellow-greens! It seems really interesting to me that these are at the center, but the quilt still reads as a yellow quilt.
Here are a few shots of the next couple of rings.  It was interesting to improvise the choice of bright colors to add and where to put them.

And, from the previous post, I did remember to put any pencil markings on the BACK of the fabric. Whew!  Here's a shot of sewing the arcs together.  One of the things I really like about sewing arcs, or curves, is that the bigger these circles get, the easier the curve is to sew.
After finishing the construction of all the pieces, I carefully layered the back, the batting, and the front and then pin basted.  I ran into some trouble while quilting, which you may have seen on this post about my new yellow Oliso iron. As a follow up, I can tell you that alternating quilting from the front side and then the back side really worked to complete the quilt and eliminate the tucks that were forming.
I love how the light shows the quilting lines.  The texture created with these concentric circles is wonderful!!
I was also marking the lines with 1/4" masking tape.  It was easy to apply while the work fit on my table.  As you can see the quilt is hanging off the edges.  So when it got too big, I moved to the floor.  It would have been fine to keep working on the table, and just move the quilt around, but it was not my process.  The floor worked better for me.  I used it as an excuse to bend and stretch! :)

I was also quite amazed that the front side and the back side lined up together so well!  This was especially noticeable when I trimmed the excess off the quilt from the front side, flipped it over, and found that the back was also centered!  Amazing! This is not typically my luck with two sided quilts.

After blocking, and trimming, I just needed to bind the quilt.  Fortunately, since both sides are yellow, it was not hard to pick a fabric!

The last task was to add a hanging tube.  I will post separately about the hanging tube, as it was quite the chore to make one that blended in with the quilt back.  If you look carefully, you can see it in the first photo of the entire quilt.  It is there! Really!

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Turn the Dial
71" x 71"

I have been working on a new quilt since the beginning of the year, and it's finally finished!

I loved working with the yellow color palette, it was fun and inspired me daily.  This side of the quilt is about applying effort over time to reach a goal. I love how this definition for an Archimedes' Spiral is such a perfect metaphor for life.
I started with a minimal number of pieces for the center.  This is the beginning of one of the biggest mistakes I made while working on this quilt.  I drafted a pattern, and then in an effort to stitch accurately, I decided to mark the seam allowances with pencil.  Great idea, but I should have marked them on the BACK of the fabric, not the front.  Still not that big of a problem, if I had caught it early. But, I did not.  I was not sure how to build this quilt, I just wanted it to be yellow.  So, I cut every single piece and pinned it to the design wall before I started stitching.
That's when I discovered the problem.  I did use an eraser, which helped, but ultimately, I had to scrub the top, in some places, with dilute detergent and toothbrush, and then wash it.  Let's hope I remember this the next time, and do it the right way!
Here's an early shot of building the arcs by stitching one piece at a time.  I also discovered that small errors, multiplied over many pieces, lead to an arc that is not quite the right shape.  It helped to compare what I had stitched to the actual paper pattern I drafted, and making minor corrections as I went along.
Here's a shot of stitching the arcs together.  This I know how to do.  No surprises! Thankful! So thankful!

I decided to quilt this in concentric circles, because it is so perfect for this design (and the one on the back).  Here's a view of the beginning, and a few of the threads that will need to be tucked in.
 I love the way it looks while working on it.
Here's a shot while it is under the needle.  I have just made it around a complete circle here.  I use the quarter inch masking tape to help mark my stitching path.
A problem with quilting in concentric circles is that the quilt can become quite distorted by the time you finish.  The center can hump up like a bell.  The edges can be fluted instead of flat.  It is all about keeping perfect and balanced tension.  And, though I have gotten better, this quilt will still need to be blocked.  This requires getting it wet and pinning it on a flat surface until it dries. I used to block my quilts on the living room floor; it was carpeted with a closed loop carpet.  That floor is now concrete, and it is in cat territory.  My design walls are mobile, so that could have been an option, but after a number of years, they have warped, and do not lie flat anymore.  They are not meant for walking around on either.

Thankfully I have discovered a new foam floor (thanks to a tip from a friend).  I got mine from Home Depot, and it comes in lots of colors. (Yes, I got yellow!) The foam floor is perfect, and I can put it away when not in use! And, it can be built in a number of different sizes, depending on how many squares you buy.
Here's a close up of all the pins I used:

And, just for fun, I thought it would be interesting to show an animation of a few of the steps of the quilt 'growing' on the design wall.  I wish I had taken a few more pictures, but sometimes I get so engaged in my work, I forget to take a photo!

I have now learned how to make a gif file!!  Enjoy!

Monday, March 02, 2020

Plenty to Go Around
80" x 80"
Marking Concentric Circles for Quilting

I decided early in the planning stages that I wanted to quilt this with concentric circles.  And, though I love the loose and organic and uneven concentric circles, that is not what I wanted for this quilt.  As part of WHO this quilt is, the lines need to be exact, or look exact.  It's part of the story.   

I wanted to avoid drawing on the quilt all together, I thought that 1/4" masking tape would be perfect.  It is easy to apply, and easy to pull up if you don't like how it is applied.  It stays stuck pretty well, but does not leave a residue on the fabric.  It is so narrow, that it bends easily around gentle curves.  It does not do that for tight curves, like the first couple of small circles in the center of the quilt.  So, I started with this:

I drew circles with a compass and pencil on the freezer paper, and then cut out the circles with scissors. Next, I ironed the freezer paper circles and hand stitched around the edge.  These are super easy to peel up too! However, once the circle size gets too big, it becomes too stiff and cumbersome, especially if using a hoop.  And, you will know that size when you get to it!! Ha!

For the bigger (and getting increasingly bigger) circles, I decided to measure from the center, using the concept of the circle's mighty radius! Cha ching! I measured, and marked with pins, marking several lines at a time.  It looks like this:

Then I started applying the masking tape, gently curving it as I went around the circle.  I started with the innermost circle, using the pins as suggestions of where the tape should land once it gets there.  It is really good as a suggestion, but more important is the shape of the line as it curves around. Even if not perfect, it needs to resemble the shape of a circle.  Sometimes it will get off the line just a bit, but that inaccuracy can be averaged out with the next rounds of circles. 

After applying the tape, I remove the pins. And then I apply the next round of tape.

Here's an overall view of the pins.  I use a lot of pins, spaced closely.  I suspect that with more experience, I could rely on less pins that are placed further apart.

This pinning and marking takes time, but for me, it makes a significant difference.  If you just follow the previous quilting line with a similar spacing, you can easily get through the entire quilt.  However, if there is a small error in spacing, that error will be compounded and multiplied as you work outwards.  A skilled and experienced quilter will see those errors and gently correct them with each line.  There is also the option of removing lines of quilting to get back to the section where the error starts.  That is frustrating and can be a significant delay to progress.  I am hoping that by marking the circles, I can avoid that.

One further note: when quilting by machine, instead of by hand, it is entirely possible to avoid marking the circles at all because you can use the machine's foot as a guide while you sew.  Disclaimer: I struggle getting those circles even too!

Here's an overall view of my progress so far.  The circles are getting bigger and starting to "outgrow" my rotary cutting rulers.  I have moved up to yardsticks now! And I am pleased that as the circles get larger, they still look like circles! I foresee a point in my near future where my table will be too small and this work will move to the floor.  Perhaps I can get some quilt yoga in as I stretch, bend, and squat to mark these lovely circles!