Friday, September 02, 2016

Alone in a Blue Corner
87" x 87"

For all of us out there who love the blues:
This is one of several quilts in my stash busters collection.  You can see the first posts about this quilt here, and later here.  I started this project when I was still struggling with grief.  My very good friend of many years had died and I felt a bit lost and disconnected from the world around me.  I guess we all handle grief differently, but my response was to consider quitting my quilting life and getting rid of all my fabric (by sewing it all up) into useful bed-sized quilts. I think I started with this one.  And, the blue was very suitable for my mood. 
And after piecing the top, I folded it up and it sat on a shelf for a long time, waiting it's turn to be quilted and finished up.  Well, it's time has finally come!
Here's the back:
As an aside, it is hard to photograph big quilts.  If you put them in a room, the lighting from windows and doors will light them unevenly.  If you photograph at night, you are dependent upon giant glaring photo lights, which also have to be arranged just so, and even then color casts have to be corrected.  The easiest, easiest lighting is outdoors, but also difficult to find a place to hang the big quilt, avoid shadows and wind or weather.  I got lucky on this day because it was overcast and I found a great spot:
The disadvantage is that it is incredibly difficult to separate the quilt from the back ground to crop perfectly to the edge of the quilt.  I didn't get that with this shot, but I'm okay with that.  The lighting was perfect, and there was no wind, and the chain link fence was so EASY!
As for the grief?  I like to think that grief is like a room that we visit.  It is important to go in, but not stay too long.  In the beginning it is hard to find a door or window to get out.  Now I can go there, feel the "feels" and then get out. Time does help.  And, all the sewing too.  I found a way back to my joy of sewing and quilting and reconnecting with the world of wonderful people around me. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The Flying Geese Quilt
48" x 64"
This one began with a community service project for the Austin Modern Quilt Guild.  We were asked to make flying geese blocks of any color and donate them.  So, I made some that looked like this: (and donated them)
I had fun making these because they just seem to FLY together (ha! ha!). And that's when I remembered that my old lap quilt made from my very first quilting class was falling apart. 
And, I thought I solved that problem when I made this quilt:
i Quilt
...but the i Quilt went on to bigger and better things, and it is still out on exhibit (Houston QuiltFestival), and I am still cuddling with the worn out thread bare quilt....but I digress. I thought I could whip up the flying geese pattern in no time at all.  I should stop myself right here because quilts don't "whip up" in no time at all.  There is a LOT of work to make a quilt, a lot of decision making, a lot of cutting, and sewing, basting, quilting, and binding.  Every single step takes a lot of time!  But, I like spending my time this way, so I set about to make myself a new lap quilt, for you know, napping between quilt making sessions.  :)
So, I selected a color palette and used fabrics from my stash to make some blocks for my quilt.
Yep!  I like this one.  And when the top was finished, I needed a back and was lacking (once again) enough fabric of just one kind to put on the back, so I pieced another back to make another two sided quilt:
I liked the big scale fabrics and the big scale design.  Fun and fast! (or rather, faster!).  Then I started quilting, 1/4" because it looks good, and what I didn't know at the time was,
that the dense quilting lines, and the small stitch size, and possibly the tension on my machine, made the quilt blocks get distorted.  This quilt was quilted on my Juki Virtuoso Pro with free motion quilting, no walking foot.  I thought it would make a nice practice piece for getting re-acquainted with my giant quilting machine (and it did), but I was honestly surprised at the distortion.  And, my fall back, washing the quilt, or getting it wet, and blocking it did not work.  The quilting lines were so dense and tight that they allowed for absolutely no reshaping or blocking into the correct shape.  It was disappointing that after piecing everything straight, the machine quilting had warped it.  So, I am glad that I have learned something from this experience on a quilt that was not intended to go to the show.  It will be loved and used until it is thread bare.  The colors make me happy!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Blue Plus
95" x 95"
Blue Plus
I was inspired to make this quilt after making this one back in 2012:
Gift (or here) was made by folding squares of fabric and dipping the folded edges in melted wax (batik), then discharging out the original color, and overdyeing with a new color.  After boiling out the wax, the big squares were sewn together.  I wanted to know how this simple motif would transfer to a quilt that was completely pieced from solids with no batik, no discharge, and no dyeing. (If you click the previous links you will see some other color palettes I designed with Photoshop with this idea.)
However, I didn't have a stash of any significance of solids, but I did have the 100 yard roll of white fabric (waiting to be dyed).  So this definitely counts as a stashbuster because I am using fabric that I already have! I tore off 12 panels (each about 19" wide to allow for shrinkage).  This would give me three 18" squares from each panel (the fabric was 59" wide) for a total of 36 blocks (aka, big enough for a king sized bed). I picked this size for the blocks because it would work with fat quarters too.  And then I decided on a quieter color palette, because honestly, the quilt, Gift, is just about as bright as you can get and can be a bit overwhelming in a small room!
Here they are being rinsed on our zip line.  Just love the perspective view!
After washing and drying and ironing, I cut the fabric into 18" blocks.  Then I trimmed off two strips (2.5" wide), one from the side (this will be the long strip), and one from the top (this will be the shorter strip). I set the strips aside and tossed the blocks up on the design wall:
And because there are 3 of each color, the design is easily balanced by this rather random arrangement.  Sorry for the bad lighting here, truly a snapshot if I ever saw one!
Next, I tossed up the strips by selecting strips that were different colors that the background.  I was looking for contrast, which was not easy in this pale landscape.
Once again, bad lighting, but you get the idea.  I also decided at this point to make the plus motif a big wonky by offsetting the piecing a bit.
Next up, the cutting and sewing of the blocks.  I cut each block horizontally about half way or slightly less or more, and then stitched the short contrasting strip to both of the cut sides.  Then I cut each block vertically, once again, about half way, and then stitched the long strip to both cut sides.  After all the blocks are sewn together to complete the quilt top, the blocks have a finished sized of about 16". 
One thing that I noticed after completing this quilt was that I liked the way the blocks looked before piecing.  This is because the scale looks different, the plus motif is wider compared to the block after piecing.  I like the wider better.
LEFT, unpieced layout: RIGHT, after piecing together all the blocks
Next time! Also for next time (if there is a next time),  I maximized the size of the quilt by keeping all the cuts very straight and perpendicular.  I seriously think it would have been worth it to make the blocks with more wonky angles and trade off for smaller blocks.  Plus, the quilting....quilting giant monoliths on a home machine is just very hard work.  It makes your shoulders and back bark like a rabid dog (truth, I've never seen a rabid they even bark?)
The machine quilting:  I did not want to do 1/4" quilting like I did on Gift.  This one "needed" it's own unique quilting lines!  I decided to make 1" quilting lines inside a giant ring of quilting lines and then quilt 1" lines again in the other orientation on the outside of the circular ring.  Don't ask me why, it's just what happened, but I LOVE the way it looks:
And if you are wondering about what I put on the back?  I purchased a solid blue fabric.  Sigh....seriously not up to my demanding standards!! Ha! And to answer my original question, this quilt has a lot going for it, but I really prefer the batiked squares more. That was a lot of work to answer a simple question.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

V is for Victory
49" x 61"
This lovely bright and fun quilt was a challenge from the Austin Modern Quilt Guild.  The challenge was to get a surprise "funky" fabric and make something cool from it.  To compete for a small motivational prize, the quilt has to be completed, which includes quilting, the binding, and the Austin MQG label on the back.  We were also supposed to keep our project a secret, presumably to make the voting fair.  So, our funky fabric arrived in a small brown paper sack, with a secret number, instructions and the little label.

Well, the cat is out of the bag for me.  I am not really motivated by winning a prize.  I like the challenge.  I like making quilts.  And I like that this quilt will be given to a child.  I also think that by sharing our progress along the way, we have an opportunity to inspire others.  Why keep that a secret? ...even for a few months?

So I started with this fabric:
small scale multicolored floral - the challenge fabric cut into 2" squares
It is not particulary funky or ugly, but it isn't anything I would ever buy.  I do like florals, but more so of the Marimekko variety:
tote I made from Marimekko fabric, YES, floral, large scale, very graphic....LOVE!
The challenge fabric has a lot of colors in it, but the main three were red, blue, and yellow.  That is not my normal palette, and as I struggled with what to do with this, I tried several things.
1.  I tried pairing it with reds, yellows, and blues.
2.  I thought if I cut it small enough, like the 2" squares above, I could blend it in with other things.

Ultimately, I decided that the 2" squares were making unnecessary work for myself.  I wanted to work bigger and make a bigger quilt than the required minimum.  So, I went with stripes.  I learned that putting pretty and bold fabrics next to the challenge fabric had the unexpected result of making the challenge fabric a neutral!  Who would of thought?  I think it works because the scale of the floral is so small.  It is the only fabric that I used multiple times in the quilt (about 6 times), you don't see IT when you look at the quilt.  You see mostly the bright bigger scale fabrics.
I also listened to my heart and tossed out the fabrics I paired with this that were causing me distress.  I had some lovely blues and purples that honestly just didn't work regardless of the "thinking" that thought they "should". Just let it go.  I am delighted with the results.  I learned a lot with this project.

The back:
I wanted a back that would go with the quilting lines that I intended to put on the front, and so I opted for giant half square triangles.  I think these are about 17" blocks.  And the fabrics are fun!  I used at least one Malka Dubrawsky (my batik teacher from long ago), a few from my only fabric line (Urban Landscapes) with Clothworks, and a bunch of new fabrics I got from STOF when I made a quilt for them, and a few other prints and batiks that I had in my stash.  A great combination! And functionally, this lovely charity quilt is now two sided!
Here are a few shots of the two sided quilted pillows I made a few months ago from the same STOF fabrics (the circles, and the stripes).  They go great with my green IKEA sofa and pink Owl IKEA pillow!

Monday, August 08, 2016

18" x 26"

This is a little quilt I made for a special art quilt exhibit honoring Yvonne Porcella:  “Quilting in the Garden” at Alden Lane Nursery in Livermore, CA, September 24-25, 2016, curated by Pokey Bolton.

I wanted to make a quilt that blends my voice with Yvonne’s to show respect for her inspiration and influence. Our kitten (aka, Mr. Innocent) is going fishing in room filled with references to Yvonne, including the number 5, which plays into the humor of the moment. I also wanted a special candle to show that even though she is not here, her light continues to shine bright!

I just recently learned that Yvonne started SAQA. I am in awe of the leadership and vision that Yvonne had for creating an organization that promotes quilts as art. I am a long time member of SAQA. And because of her vision and hard work, I am happy to have my art quilts hanging in almost 30 different venues in a total of 8 different exhibits. That never would have happened without her.

I also had the honor of having my work hang with Yvonne’s in a number of exhibits including the Dinner@Eight exhibits in Houston, Long Beach, and Chicago. I am so sad that I missed meeting her in person. She was truly a gift to our quilting community and she will be missed.

I thought it would also be interesting to show you one of my very early quilts, back when I used exclusively patchwork to build a quilt top and hand quilting to quilt it.

one of the many fun fabrics used for the center, and close up of the hand quilting
hand quilting in the border, this was the duck pond close to our house

And, I didn't buy enough of my favorite theme fabric (a bright yellow fabric with vehicles on it) to use on the back, so I decided to piece together something fun and that's when I decided it would be interesting to use Yvonne's colorblock style and checkerboard style on the back.

Here's a close up:
I fussy cut out all these vehicles from the fabric mentioned before, and fused them on.  I used invisible thread to zig-zag around the edges.  I like the composition a lot. And it is super soft from years of use. There are a few places where the quilting thread has broken, and the binding is starting to fail, but those are things that can still be repaired.  It is sentimental to see this quilt again because my son is all grown up.  How did that happen so fast?

Friday, August 05, 2016

Cover Girl!

I am so pleased to have my quilt, One Earth, chosen for the cover of Machine Quilting Unlimited for the months of July and August!!  It has been a long time since I have been in the quilting magazines, mostly my own fault because I almost never submit anything.  For those few publishers who find me and seek me out, I usually agree, but I wasn't expecting the cover!  Very cool!

There is also a fantastic article (if I do say so myself!) about my work, and a lot of photos.  I find it extremely gratifying to have my work in this beautiful quilting magazine, and they got all the colors right!  My quilts from this time period were a bit on the bright side, and it is hard to do them justice in print media or on computer screens, but these folks got it right!  Kudos!

Here are some shots of my work.  If you want to read the article, you will have to buy a copy!

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Orange and Pink
91" x 88"

This is one of my stash busters projects, in which I attempt to use up my stash in a bed quilt while exploring different designs ideas.  I wanted to learn to sew circles.  I think this pattern is called Drunkard's Path?  Regardless, it was a lot of hand cutting of pieces, and a lot of curves to sew.  Suffice to say, I'm good with the circle thing now. 
What I learned.  All my patterned oranges and pinks look kind of the same next to each other because their color values were so similar.  I needed to buy solids for the backgrounds which kind of went against the spirit of the project.  Oh well!  The larger circles are pink on an orange background and the smaller circles are orange on a pink background.  I thought the difference would be significant to notice it as the first thing about this quilt.  I was wrong.  In fact, it is hard to see that at all unless I mention it to the viewer.  Was it that way for you?  Did you notice?
So, this means that for two similar colors, in a quilt like this, the value plays a more important role, as does the other main factor, the size of the circles.  It is easy to see at a glance that one side has larger circles and the other has smaller circles.  Shape and size are important!

What I love about this quilt.  It is so pretty.  I use minimal machine quilting and some hand quilting so it has a very soft texture.  I also really love the back.  I decided to make BIGGER circles on the back, and a calmer color palette in case I got tired of the POP of bright color in such a large size.  The back is pretty awesome!
I improvisationally pieced large sections of neutral fabrics, and then used giant freezer paper templates to cut the shapes to sew the Drunkard's Path blocks with the white background.  It was so fun to play with so many different patterned neutrals.  My favorites were the large white flower, the white bunnys on black, and the little tiny rows of creatures on a grey background.  Too fun!
The last thing I learned....if your batting is too thin, in this case, mine was, the bright pop from the front shows through to the back.  It makes a warm color cast that I was not particularly looking for.  And you may not notice this effect on these photos because there has been a bit of color correction in Photoshop, but I assure you, in person, it is a bit noticeable.  And, probably more significant because most of the back is white.  I will remember this lesson for the future (I hope!).  If you would like to see this quilt, it will be showing at the Austin Area Quilt Guild's Show, Palmer Auditorium, Sept 16-18, Austin, TX.  I entered it as a two sided quilt, but if it is not showing both sides, as a Quilt Angel (with the white gloves) to show you the back.  :)

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

100 Days, 100 Nights
40" x 40"

Here is my entry for Dinner@Eight's new exhibit this year, Patterns.  I am so happy that my quilt was juried into this exhibit!  Yay!  It will premier at the Houston International Quilt Festival, Nov 3-6.  
Serendipity.  I was making a different quilt (which is not finished yet), and when cutting and stacking all the blocks, I saw a really cool and unintended pattern emerge.  One that fascinated me enough that I wanted to do it instead.  I took a picture, and then made the top for the other quilt.  And though I wanted to continue working on it, this other idea got stuck in my head, so I set the big one aside and cut some more blocks.  Putting all the colors together was the fun part!  It is always so surprising to me that while attempting a random arrangement, patterns will emerge!  At first, I thought the only pattern was the shape of the blocks, and that the colors were random.  It reminded me of how every day is 24 hours, but each day looks different because of the choices we make and things that happen to us.  Even the nights are different, different sleep periods, different dreams, insomnia, noises in the night, etc.

And because this one is relatively small in size, I got to play with my new threads from Superior, Sew Sassy.  They are just the perfect weight and handling for the bigger sized hand quilting, some people call it seed stitches, others call it Sashiko stitching.  I just like the texture and find the process very relaxing.  I was also inspired by the thread.  I loved the colors and the way it feels. 
I also did not have enough of any one color for the back, so I pieced this from the leftovers:
It is fun to try out new ideas for the back, just some extra design practice! Here it is relaxing on my couch, I call it the "glamour shot"!  Ha!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

A Day at the Lake
12" x 12"

I Love this little quilt!  It has been donated to the SAQA auction this year, so if you like it, you could bid on it and get a chance to have it for your very own!  The auction runs from Sept 19 to Oct 8 and you can click here to learn more about how it works. The auction is a yearly fundraising event because promoting art is an expensive task. And though the members pay expensive membership dues and entry fees, it is not nearly enough to cover all the expenses, and thus the fundraising begins! SAQA represents a lot of artists and has a lot of traveling exhibits to many, many places.  If you haven't seen the SAQA website yet, check it out.  There are many beautiful art works to browse through, and perhaps one of the traveling exhibits will be coming close to you soon! They also offer many pieces of art for sale if you desire!

The inspiration for this one came from two places.  I have recently remodeled my studio and in the course of moving all my belongings back in to the studio, I discovered my stash of hand made batik pieces.  The second source was from an inspiration I had to make a giant piece for the exhibit Stories of Migration.  I never committed to making the piece though because of it's size and the ensuing shipping costs and difficulties.  And, I was not interested in making the idea smaller!  I wanted to represent fleeing refugees, in origami paper boats.  I thought the metaphor to the actual flimsy-ness of the boats refugees use for dangerous water crossings was right on point.  In fact, as I tried to fold boats out of fabric, they kept falling apart.
This quilt is a more uplifting and recreational take on the idea.  For the boats, I solved the falling apart dilemma with a few little tucks of Mistyfuse in some of the places.  For origami, that would have been equivalent to cheating with glue!  However, for my little quilt, it made it all work out, so I remain enamored with the miracle known as Mistyfuse which allows many of my dreams to come true!  The rest of the piece was just putting together elements from previous quilts I have made.  It could be considered working in a series, as I have done the little pocket buildings many times before.  I still like the colorful nature and texture of working with these little blocks, and then finally filling them with the little people.