Thursday, February 25, 2021


Conversations

Wow! I won an Honorable Mention for my quilt, Conversations, at Visuals #3 National Quilt Competition! I entered in the Mid-Century Modern Quilt category. I am a little in shock because the Mancuso Brothers quilt festivals are very competitive and I didn't think my quilts would do well there. It is so funny because I always love my quilts A LOT, but the judges do not always agree with me.  So, a very humble and special thank you to Sue Nickels and Marjan Kluepfel (the judges)! The online show is from Feb 24 to Feb 27.  

I also have three other quilts in this festival. The next one was also in the Mid-Century Modern Quilt Category.
Let Your Hair Down

And the next two were in the Full Size Innovative category:
Turn the Dial

Seeds

I have taken a few minutes to check out the other quilts and they are stunning! And they made the images really large, easy to see, and easy to scroll through with the arrow keys on my keyboard.  I am grateful for the close-ups, but mostly the big images look really good. A nice platform for viewing quilts if you can't be there in person!

I would also like to give a big thank you to the show's sponsors: the Hampton Convention and Visitors Bureau, BERNINA of America, A Different Touch, Cottonwood Quilt Shop, Cherrywood Hand Dyed Fabrics, Zappy Dots and The Grace Company. 

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Winds of Change: Caterpillar, Part 3
project


This little caterpillar does not have any humps or blobs at all.  It is mostly just stripes.  Modeled after a real life caterpillar, I am in love with the colors and simplicity.  As seen above, I have selected all the yellow solids I have and threw in some white as well.  I cut many, many strips, and then randomly selected them for each section. I stitched them together, and I know that I keep saying this... but I am in awe of how much fabric it takes to make such a small section! It was easier to keep it all parallel by sewing every group of 2 strips together first.  Then I joined strips of two's together to make a block of 4.  Then I checked those against a ruler and trimmed if necessary. And then repeated until the entire block was built up to the correct size. When working with so many tiny strips, it is easy for a small mistake to get multiplied and eventually make everything wonky.  And, I seriously love wonky, but it was not what I wanted for this project. 

Once I had a long strip of yellows, I cut it in half (as seen above), and inserted a 1/2" black stripe down the middle.  I added black and white wide strips above and below.  The actual panel looks more like this, though this is still just a detail section of the overall panel:
I am loving the bold use of color and wide stripes with the narrow ones!  Great contrast! One more caterpillar to go! 

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Rainbow Rings
24" x 24"

To celebrate the opening of QuiltCon Together, I decided to post about my Make a Mini Make a Friend quilt.
This is a quilt swap with the Modern Quilt Guild.  After you sign up, you are paired with someone else who is participating.  We get introduced to each other via email, and then make a mini quilt for each other that are eventually sent through snail mail.  This is my first time participating and it was fun!  I was also grateful that my normal break neck pace had slowed down enough to have an opening in my normally very full schedule. 
First, my swap partner did not have any requests at all.  This made it really hard for me.  I already struggle with decision making.  I was worried that I wasn't going to come up with any ideas at all. Luckily for me, she had an Instagram account, so I was able to look at her previous posts.  Brilliant!!  It didn't take long, and then I was well on my way.  The only thing I found hard was keeping this a secret!  She wasn't supposed to see it until it was mailed to her.  We were allowed to post shots of details that did not give it away, and that was good enough! 

Another thing I really liked about this project was an opportunity to explore an idea I had.  I had previously made a double wedding ring quilt, but since then I have had a number of other ideas, but hadn't yet had time to pursue them.  This one was perfect because it also incorporated the idea of transparency in the overlapping colors.  

Using my copic markers, I sketched my idea.  I loved the idea of starting with the markers, because I could overlap the colors and see the transparencies.
It also took me a while to find colors that would work and appear to be the in-between colors.  
Then I drew the pattern full scale and cut out the rest of the pieces.  For this to work, I needed to keep track of the placement of all the blocks because none of them were interchangeable.
I started piecing the smallest squares first to make the corners of the DWR. 
These were quick and easy! The curves were a bit stretchier, but doable.  It went together really quick, which was very satisfying! 
Basting:
I decided to hand quilt the colorful rings because I love the texture of hand quilting so much!
I finished it up with some black echo quilting and fine line quilting in the melons (the black and white striped inner section of the rings).  Then I sent it to my swap partner.  I was surprisingly anxious... waiting to hear if it arrived and if she liked it or not.  After a few days I saw her post on Instagram.  It warmed my heart to see that she liked it!  That's the best part of this project is how I felt.  The act of giving warms the heart!

And, within a day or two my quilt from Julie arrived!
I love it so much!  First, I LOVE hummingbirds! They symbolize joy for me.  And I have used them in my work before. Perhaps you remember from this quilt? Also, I love the bright aqua/turquoise colors she selected for my hummer.  It is PERFECT for me!  I also love the background fabric and the backing fabric because both had hummingbirds on them! A nice repetition of pattern.  Last, I love the precision of the paper pieced pattern.  I am not a paper piecer.  This is not something I would normally have, but I am so grateful that Julie can do this (and she does it VERY WELL!!).  It is so beautiful.  The pattern is called Sugar Baby and is from Nicole at Lillyella Stitchery

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Winds of Change: Caterpillar part 2
project

The part where my humps turn into blobs...
The triangles are new for me.  I couldn't decide if I wanted them looking like arrows, OR rather scattered like above.  (yeah, you guessed which one I picked!)

Also, I had reservations about working with these equilateral triangles, because some of those sides are going to be kind of stretchy.  So I watched this tutorial first by Mathew Boudreaux (aka Mister Domestic). It was super helpful! I found the triangles easy to cut, easy to stitch, however, stitching the rows together was more difficult.
After I pieced enough of them together, I used a freezer paper template to cut out the shape I wanted from both the triangle section and the background piece, then pinned and stitched.
This first one is more hump than blob, but the shapes morphed as I continued to work.  You can see some of the variations below.  Then I stitched the blocks together, added some green, lime green, and more black stripes.  Here is the beginning of this panel!
I love this!  The colors actually appear more congruent in real life than this photo.  Color management and photography continues to be my nemesis!! But the shapes, the shapes are so good.  Can you guess which caterpillar this pattern comes from?

Two more panels after this one, stay tuned! Hope you are having some lovely creative time!

Wednesday, February 03, 2021

Winds of Change: Caterpillar
project

The first panel started with cutting up little blue squares, which are so incredibly appealing to me.

Then I paired them up and made some half square triangles.

Then, I repeated to make quarter square triangles.
I struggle a bit with accuracy, so I always make them a bit bigger and trim them to their little square shapes:
Next, I selected a random layout and stitched the blocks together.

I didn't get very far when suddenly I had an idea....and it involved curves....and I wasn't really sure how feasible it was because of all the seams I would be cutting through and stitching....so I had to try. I used freezer paper to draw the curve and then pressed it to the fabric, adding a 1/4" seam allowance when I cut.

It's a bit squirrelly to stitch, but definitely doable! 

I LOVE this little blue hump, so I made some more, and then some more, and then decided to add some stripes to go with them.

And then some more...
I eventually realized that this pattern was very very similar to a favorite caterpillar of mine, the swallowtail, but a different color palette....and a bit abstracted.  That's when I decide to make these long pieced giant blocks to resemble the patterns on caterpillars.  It was odd that I started by cutting blocks, and then serendipitously ended up with this, but the subconscious works in mysterious ways. I realized how much this quilt is about my life right now. Stayed tuned! There will be a total of 4 of these panels! All bright and graphic and wonderful!

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

On Point Challenge Quilt
48" x 68"
for Austin Modern Quilt Guild: a service project donated to charity
I have one adult kid living at home who is not really thriving during the pandemic.  So, I decided to offer up a project, and it would require just one hour a day.  It took us about 6 weeks to complete it.  The very private adult kid has consented to let me share it here.  I am delighted to share it with you!  I definitely am feeling the parental pride thing. And the adult kid also got some pride, both from the work, and the ability to stick to a project and complete it. The quilt is lovely, and will hopefully be loved by someone who needs it.

Learning to sew rows together.
Making our way through the rows on the design wall.
The quilt also had to stay hidden from any social media because it was a contest within our guild.  After everyone finished their quilts, we had a small outdoor quilt show one Saturday and the members voted on all the quilts.  You can see all the quilts here. It was really fun to be able to see quilts in person, and also be socially distanced.  Everyone wore masks too. We didn't stay long, but it felt so good to be around a group of other quilters and see a few old friends.  I look forward to a return of social gatherings. 
I also wanted to say "thank you" to the Austin Modern Quilt Guild for supplying the backing, the batting, and a label for our project!



Friday, December 18, 2020

The Virtual Quilt Festival, aka, the Houston show
a review

One of my most basic reservations about virtual quilt shows is that they do not offer more than what I am already seeing on my Instagram feed. The VQF offered a large collection of exhibits, 5 contests, vendors, and classes, and possibly more. However, I was hesitant to enter my quilts this year, for a number of reasons. I had already entered a few quilts in the IQA World of Beauty exhibit.  However, that event was cancelled early this summer.  Is different good or bad or maybe some of both? 

Houston was the one show that I usually get to go to.  I live close, so it is easy for me to get away for this one.  I get to see my quilts there, and see people looking at my quilts.  I also get to see the other quilts.  It gives me both perspective and inspiration.  I don't usually take classes, so I have nothing to compare to the opportunity for virtual classes. But, mostly I get to hang out and spend time with my friends that live all over the place. This yearly retreat is the only time we see each other in person.  And for that, the virtual experience just didn't compare. 

My participation in the contests:

The price for entry was $20 per quilt.  There were only 5 quilting contests with no categories within each contest.  The IQA's judged show A World of Beauty had a lot more.  There was a total of about 250 quilts in the 5 contests, compared to about 350-400 for the IQA show. There was no information before the show regarding the number of quilts that would be accepted (which I imagine would be based on how many entries they received.) There was also no information about how prizes would be awarded, how many prizes were involved, or what the prize actually was. Perhaps more planning time would have (or could have) made a world of difference? 

I entered 3 quilts into the contests for this show.  I had two quilts accepted into the Quilting Now exhibit/contest which was a collection of modern quilts. There were 50 quilts accepted into this contest.

Two Halves


Conversations

And, I had one quilt accepted into the In My Mind exhibit/contest which was a collection of art quilts. There were about 90 quilts accepted into this contest.  It was a collection of all the art quilt categories normally seen at the IQA show, A World of Beauty, and included landscapes, abstracts, representational art, digital art, etc.   

The Heron, the Kayak, and the Grebes: Part I

After I bought my $10 ticket, and the show opened, I found out that each contest had only one winner.  And while those winners were definitely well deserved, it was impossible for me to appreciate their splendor from a photo on my computer compared to being in front of the full sized quilt. This will be a problem for any virtual quilt show. The prize awards were also much lower than what had been typically offered for the IQA show, but I anticipated that. 

There were also 23 exhibits of other quilts.  This is about half the number of exhibits that are usually at the Houston quilt show, but it was more than I could see at one time.  Some of the exhibits did not appeal to me, but many others did.  I had one quilt in one of these exhibits.  It was in SAQA's exhibit Ebb & Flow. 

Floating in a Sea of Symbols



The things I liked about the Virtual Quilt Show:

1.  It was something to look forward to that was a positive thing in the midst of so many bad things in the world and in the daily news. 

2.  I liked seeing the quilts.  I enjoyed seeing quilts that I might not have run across on social media. 

3. Even though I didn't win anything, I loved having an opportunity to compete.

4. I really appreciated that the visuals of the quilts included an overall view and a closeup view and the artist's name and statement (...though I honestly wished the photo resolution had been higher).

5. I also like that my ticket allows me to view the festival for 3 months. I would also be curious to know how many people use this feature?

The things I didn't like about the Virtual Quilt Show:

1.  There were an overwhelming number of technical glitches on the entire first day.  So much frustration! Photos would not load.  argh!!! It seems like the organizers would have anticipated this and planned for a much better performance than they did.

2. There was a general lack of information about what to expect from the contests.  I also did not like having to choose a viewer's choice award from only the winners of the contests. Instead of it being about MY choice, it was "which winner did you like the best?" award.... It didn't sit right with me.

3. The experience of shopping the vendors did not even come close to the real experience.  I don't know how to make this work or what I would of liked from the vendors on a virtual platform, but this completely missed the mark for me.  It should have had a much bigger 'footprint' than a simple list of company names with links to their websites. I would have liked something more interactive, and something with a LOT more visuals and eye candy. For the little that they received, I could not see an obvious benefit of any fees they would have paid to be there.  Another technical glitch was the search bar for vendors does not allow any misspellings which makes it harder to find what you are looking for. I didn't buy anything either (or I haven't yet). And that is problematic.  We need the vendors, and they need us. I will probably just continue to shop from my regular suppliers for my needs, but I also really miss that experience of shopping in person and seeing new things. 

4. The social experience was sorely lacking.  There was one way to connect with others at the show on this platform, but it was flooded with technical complaints. *(see edit at the bottom) And, there was a surprising lack of social media connected to the event. It was mostly quiet.  Not even participants were chatting about it.  That is not good.

5. The original presentation of the quilts was via slide show (during the rare moments that the photos would load) that could be paused.  This is a small thing but it aggravated my repetitive use injuries to only be able to control the slide show with my mouse.  The arrow keys on my keyboard (to advance to the next photo) did not work.  This was later changed to a PDF format and that got better.  But with the PDF, you are limited by the resolution of the photo.  All of the quilts had minimal resolution, with the exception of the 5 prize winners.  A decision was made here about how to best present the quilts on-line, and I am not sure it was the right one...**(see edit at the bottom)

6. I missed the presence of the International Quilt Association.  As I mentioned earlier, they did not have their annual judged show.  Their judged show was the centerpiece of the International Quilt Festival, and they weren't there. The 5 contests were qualitatively not a comparable substitution. They did not have the IQA fundraising auction quilts.  They did not have the IQA raffle quilt.  And, now I have just found out that the IQA is ending. I feel incredibly sad at this loss and a bit naive that it would last forever.  It will be interesting to see if the Houston IQF (when it meets in person) will be able to fill some very large expectations.

Other Suggestions for a better virtual show.

1.  Include the sizes of the quilts on the signage.  It is virtual, we can't tell how big the quilts are.

2.  Wouldn't it be cool to have a way to add comments to quilts you liked? In terms of connecting with the artists, I think this would be awesome.  (On a personal note, I did look up a few new artists on social media to leave comments, but not everyone was on Instagram, so I missed a few). The signage also did not include ways to contact the artists, like a website, or a social media account name.  And they specifically had an entire section devoted to the artists, but it was just a list of artists and the quilts that were there, no contact information at all. That would have been really nice and presumably not that hard to add. And cross promoting artists benefits everyone.

3.  On-line reviews: This seems to be an almost automatic feature of almost anything that I buy on-line, the next day email follow-up, "please review the product you purchased" request. Virtual quilt shows should be responsive to the feedback of their participants. I have not yet received any requests for reviews. We are the customers, and IQF should want to know what our experience was and how to make it better; both because it is better for us as customers, and also because it makes good business sense.  

I understand many of the constraints that were a part of this event.  I feel like I may have been harsh in my criticisms, but I also know that a quite number of people were much harsher than I was. 

The virtual show was better than nothing, which is not very high praise.  It was all we have right now because of the pandemic, but I expected more. One thing is for certain, trying to put together a virtual quilt show is difficult. It requires an ability to change and be flexible in an ever changing and unpredictably complicated world, and this year was unprecedented in that regard. I applaud this first attempt,but I expected better from a show with such a solid reputation. The question remains: how responsive will they be to the needs of their customers (both the viewers and the vendors) and the problems they faced with this first virtual quilt show?

My hopes are that this event was at least successful enough to keep this organization in business;  because their in-person events are top notch and I look forward to their return. I also look forward to seeing how the Modern Quilt Guild runs their virtual exhibit of QuiltCon2021.  

EDITS: 

*1. There was a more efficient way of communicating socially offered by the VQF platform.  It is unfortunate that I missed it.  You could add friends from a list of attendees so that you could have your own social hangout.  Perhaps I was in too much of a rush to see the quilts to notice this feature.  Darn it! As an aside, I also noticed on the main Virtual Cafe social page, that a number of participants were really appreciative of this venue and really enjoying their experience.

**2. I did find a way of presenting quilts at a quilt show that I just absolutely loved and had forgotten about it.  It was at the Schweinfurth's Quilts=Art=Quilts virtual exhibit.  They had a virtual gallery where you could 'walk' through the rooms to explore the quilts.  It showed quilts hanging next to each other, and you could zoom in on the quilts.  Of course, they had a much smaller number of quilts to display, but it was an awesome viewing experience from my perspective. I wish I had the software that they used.  I think it would be fun to put some of my solo exhibits into a show like this. :) Regardless, this was the optimal experience for viewing quilts virtually when we can't meet in real life. 

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Bloom: Part II
71" x 71" (the other side of Seeds)

Here is the full view!! So pretty!
And a close up:

Where we left off after the previous post:

Since I knew my design was going to be a bit asymmetrical, I knew that I needed some organization of the design pieces, especially as it got bigger.  So, I pinned the right side of the front side of the quilt (Seeds) to the design wall (wrong side out), and placed the pieces of Bloom on top of it, where they would actually be centered.  The center of Bloom was designed to be right on top of the blue seed from Seeds.
I can't tell you how many times I thought about making this a one sided quilt, with the 'seeds' as the background for this big bloom.  It is definitely compelling! Anyway, by designing it on the go like this, I was able to plan better as I got closer to the edges of the quilt. Here are some photos near completion, where you can see the grid quilting from the front side (Seeds).
This one is the entire back after it has been trimmed and is ready for binding. 
After the I completed the quilting from the front, and bound the quilt, it was time to start the hand quilting from the back. I opted for a double line of heavy 12 wt. thread, Sew Sassy.  It was perfect and Superior Threads had enough colors to mimic the gradient of my fabrics!  I also wanted the quilting to look the same on the front as it did on the back.  This is really NOT easy.  The only way minimize the space between stitches and have the stitches look similar on the front and the back is with 'stab and jab'. The needle needs to go in at a 90 degree angle (not obvious from this picture, sorry!) This is a very slow process, on an already longer than expected project.  Just when I thought I had gotten close to the finish line, it moved further back! Ultimately it looked good, and was just what I wanted.

  
And, lastly, it just worked out this way, but I was ready, if necessary to take those blue arcs right up and into the hanging tube.  I got lucky this time!  Just a simple and plain white hanging tube was all it needed. Yeah for the little things!

Wednesday, December 09, 2020

Bloom: Part I
71" x 71" (the other side of Seed)

I had an idea for this side and it took a few tries of sketching it to get what I wanted.  It is the first time that I have tried a design like this.  I believe it is very similar to the Dahlia quilt design, block? 
This is the color palette.

After sketching it on drawing paper, I drew it full scale using old school tools.  I got some white craft paper and my giant compass, (which is really more like a pencil and a long string).  I also used a protractor, which turned out not to be as accurate as I needed on this scale.  The paper arcs were cut individually and then folded in half multiple times to get the right sizes.  I used a freehand to draw the curves, and then cut out plastic templates to use for marking and cutting fabric.  And, since each arc gets bigger, I needed a new template for each arc.  Only one went wonky and had to be redone, so I consider it a pretty huge success that these methods worked as well as they did!
Each section needed a template with three pieces (with the exception of the tiny innermost lime green part).  To make right side and left side pieces, I used the template pieces right side up, and then right side down.  I marked the stitching lines on the back of the fabric pieces, and then cut seam allowances.  Everything was cut with my scissors....wah....
I also discovered that the innermost ring of lime green pieces was too tight of a curve to do on the sewing machine.  Fortunately, I had just accrued an amazing amount of practice sewing small curves from the work on the other side! 
After I had about 8 blocks completed, I sewed them together in an arc, and then checked the accuracy and fit by comparing to the original paper template and making adjustments as needed.  That worked amazingly well! 
There were a lot of seams to keep track of.  Some of them were pressed open (the straight ones), and some of them were pressed to one side (the curved ones).  I always think it looks interesting to see the back!

It was hard work to piece everything accurately, but so incredibly satisfying to see an entire ring come together. Here is some progress on the second ring.

At some point, the arcs are sewn together to form a quarter circle.  The last seams were the straight lines connecting the four quadrants. 
I prefer to sew curves without a lot of pins.  I was not very successful with this design, and spent a lot of time making minor adjustments on each and every curve.  It was frustrating!! Which led me down the rabbit hole of using lots of pins, I mean really, a LOT of pins.  It does take longer to pin it, but every seam was perfect, so it was worth it in the long run.
And there was the added satisfaction of the interesting shapes these curves made when the pieces were pinned...
So there is also the option of glue basting seams like this and skipping the pins altogether.  My biggest problems was that I cut all the pieces by hand, which meant that not all the seam allowances were very accurate or precise.  I normally sew curves by matching the edges of the fabric together.  This did not work.  And, while the accuracy of one piece is not that significant, it becomes more so when multiplied by lots of little pieces.  For glue basting to work well here, I would need some plexiglass type templates that you can use a rotary cutter on (and the templates would need to include the seam allowances).  I didn't have those, nor patience to learn how to make them.  It was possible to do this project with just low cost freezer paper and pins...just possibly less fun.