Saturday, February 27, 2010

Mid-Atlantic Quilt Show

What a day...getting up at 5:00 AM ( a real shocker for me these days) and heading north to travel to the Mid-Atlantic Quilt Festival with a car full of women. We had an amazing day. The show was mind-boggling, with the number of quilt, special exhibits, and vendors from around the country! I took lots of quilt pictures and was truly humbled to see the exquisite, artful works on display. I have not finished cropping, editing, and trying to identify the quilts, but here is a special shout-out to Carolina Longarm Association member Rosemary Cushman for winning Best Machine Workmanship, Innovative category. I believe she used Tsukineko inks to color her quilted motifs, in this fun quilt.

And here is a group quilt made by members of Capital Quilters Guild, including two members of my Anything Art bee (Tama and Margaret) and also my CyberBee ( Mary, Tama, and Kathy).

I spent most of my time gazing at quilts, but visited a few vendors to make some donations...
I have so many toys to buy supplies for...the long-arm, the regular sewing machine, the embellisher, the mixed-media world... I concentrated on purchasing things I normally have to order by mail...or things from vendors of specialty items...

like sheep wool! Oh, boy, I wish I had purchased more of these hand-dyed wool curls.

These are used with the needle-felting (embellishing) machine, especially for projects in the books by Margo Duke. That cool skein of yarn is destined for adding colorful stems and flower details to my Cubist garden quilt for the Pamela Allen class. These are from Mangham Wool and Mohair Farm in Charlottesville, VA.

Also for embellishing, some hand-dyed silk ribbon from Quilter's Fancy, Cortland, OH in yummy rose and teal shades.

And since I found some teal curls and ribbons, how about a variety of teal Dupioni silk hand-dyed fat eighths from Country Keepsakes of Rome, PA?

I bought this Christmas ornament kit because I had never seen one like this. There is a pre-printed, pre-colored design on fabric that you embroider over batting, add a backing, and finish. The design is by Carol L. Steffensen, and I can't remember the vendor. The website for the pattern is Chickadee Hollow Designs.

Less fun, but useful for my longarm quilting, I stocked up on The Bottom Line thread and Super Bob pre-wound bobbins at Superior Threads.

Also at Superior, I purchased some HEAVY-duty water soluble stabilizer in two sizes, to avoid disasters like the fibers wrapping around my bobbin assembly a while back.

Any my last stop before we called it a day about twelve hours after I got up: some new feather stencils from The Stencil Company. Most of my longarm quilting is freehand quilting, but I occasionally need some stencils for quilts like the heritage Blazing Stars quilt I just finished for my sister-in-law. I got really tired of the stencil I used over and over on that quilt, and now I have another just like it to quilt. Maybe I will try one of these new designs.

And, I did not forget my blogging friends while time I will show what I bought for a Blogiversary Give-Away!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Update on Narrative Quilt

I got the okay from Teacher for yesterday's class project, although she suggested I lighten the turbine housing on top of the dam, and move the little boy figure farther back. Like so:

The part that I thought needed help, the water, she liked! So, a very easy fix.

So easy, I took a day off from this class and any customer/charity quilts today to work on a UFO. I took a class from Karen Eckmeier last fall on making Layered Waves. I decided to try to make the fabric I constructed in class into a sweatshirt jacket to wear to the Mid-Atlantic Quilt Festival tomorrow.

Alas, I should have started this sooner. It takes a good bit of yardage to cover a large sweatshirt, and I had not made as much as I remembered. On the bright side, I did actually locate the project AND the book. I still have to do some more piecing before I can attach it to the sweatshirt and quilt it. Maybe if I have energy during the weekend I can work on this some more.

Meantime, I have several requests to visit people's quits at the show, and hope to run into some other folks while we are there. I will be leaving home at 5:45 AM and getting home late. But I am so glad it did not snow! We got only a few flakes here, and I don't think the snow will be a problem between here and Hampton, VA.

Will report back after the show!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Wednesday Work-in-Progress: Narrative Quilt

This is the last week of my "About Style" online art quilt class with Pamela Allen. This week we have done a critique of a painting of our choice, and then it was on to the last assignment: a narrative quilt. I have a lot of ideas for quilts that tell a story. Since the grand-kids were just here last weekend, I got the urge to feature them in my composition.

Here is the beginning of the piece, with Lily holding her "Croc" shoe after it got stuck in the mud on the creek bank at our mountain place.

Here it is with more rocks, a bit of foliage, and some sheer green fabric over her foot to make it look like it is under water.

And here is where I left off today. It is tiring to compose a piece of art! Now I have added Avery to the scene, more laurel bushes, and more water coming over the spillover on the dam.

I find it hard to make convincing water, and hope that Pamela will offer some suggestions. The water looks white when it is pouring over the dam and swirling around the rocks, but kind of greenish-brown in other places. Then there are reflections from the sun lightening it here and there.
Like this:

Today is my Three-Year Blogiversary, and I am just over 600 blog posts. I will have to think of a Blogiversary prize to celebrate after I come back from the Mid-Atlantic Quilt Festival on Friday. I am going up to Hampton, Virginia, just for the day on Friday. Can't wait to see all the quilts, special exhibits, and oh, yes, the vendors!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Cute Quilt for a Little Boy

Here is a baby quilt for a little boy. My new customer, Melissa, made this top for her baby nephew. It is only her second quilt! I think this will be a lovely gift for the little fellow.
She was not sure of the pattern, but a closer look reveals that it has both large and small rail-fence blocks. Here is the large

and here is the block with the smaller, narrower strips.

This looks like a great quilt top for a beginner! Since the fabrics are fairly busy, we chose a neutral tan thread called "Baguette" by Signature. For the free-motion quilting design, I picked up on those spirals and the sort of sunburst motifs in one of the blue fabrics.

The backing is a cute perky polka-dot print.

A Charity Quilt for a Gentleman...or Not!

Yesterday I finished another Quilt on Wheels to be given to a rest home resident. Carolyn made this top from a kit I made using donated fabric. When I was at the Flower Cottage where the Capital Quilters Guild keeps its boxes of donated fabric, I found lots of homespun plaids and also theme fabric with outdoorsy themes like ducks and wildlife. I thought these would be nice for the male recipients, as a change from all the florals that quilters tend to select.

For this kit, I actually cut the 6.5" squares, 3.5" squares, and borders to be sewn into one-patch and four-patch blocks mixed together randomly.

Here is a close-up of some of the ducks.

But, I also included some "country" themed fabric that also featured some domestic scenes. Here is a great-looking star quilt...and could that be an outhouse by the fence? Usually they are pictured with a half-moon window!
Although they may not have had indoor plumbing, it looks like the lady of the house had a sewing machine!

Since I have ten more charity quilt tops waiting to be quilted, I will be choosing designs that I can do fairly quickly. I have done this leafy meander so many times that it is a favorite pattern of mine, especially for woodsy or manly quilts.
The curvy lines in the quilting design help soften all the squares and rectangles of the quilt design.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Charity Quilt and Big Weekend

First, here is a little blog is featured this week on We All Sew. Check out this interesting site that includes tutorials, videos, links to Free Stuff, charity projects, and lots more.

Speaking of charity projects, here is the latest Quilt on Wheels that I finished last Thursday. It was made by my friend Irene at our bee's Sew-In Day in January at Quilts Like Crazy in Wake Forest. She used the Yellow Brick Road pattern, one of my favorites.

True funny story...when I saw Irene working on this quilt, I thought it was a Christmas quilt. Reds and greens...and I thought the border fabric was a Christmas print. So, when I got ready to quilt it, I turned on my Christmas Music playlist on my iPOD to set the mood. Imagine my surprise when I saw all the flowers, gardens, ducks... LOL! Another senior moment.

When I do these charity quilts (at no charge) I try to use new quilting designs or patterns, or to make up something new. It keeps me from becoming bored, and might be something to file away for future use. On this quilt, I made a little flower with a cluster of circles that reminds me of a grape hyacinth...

and invented a new feather with a curly echo on the outside (seen here on the back side of quilt.)

I intended to do Carolyn's charity quilt first, but, another senior lapse in judgment, the piece of flannel that I put in her quilt kit for the backing was not large enough for the finished top! DUH! So, I cut a backing from a piece of wide donated fabric, but it needed ironing. Not feeling like ironing (I never feel like that, actually) I gave the backing a misting with a water sprayer, and laid it out to dry over the machine rollers with the fan blowing on it. Usually that removes the wrinkles. Not this time! Must get it ironed.

This weekend we had a house full of company including son Bryson, his two little kids, two of his Frisbee Golf buddies who live in Virginia, and son Dave and DIL Emily AND the new grand-dog, Roo.

Roo behaved admirably, was great with the kids, and generally endeared himself to all.

The weather finally warmed up, and it was especially beautiful on Sunday, when we were outside all day. Here is my husband Charlie taking the kids on a Gator ride around the yard.

And here is Emily's brand new ride, a Mini Cooper. I got to drive it around the neighborhood- very sweet! I could not imagine it being large enough to accommodate my very tall son, but it has lots of legroom, and plenty of room for Roo and his bed in the back!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Capital Quilters Guild Meeting

Last night was the monthly meeting of the Capital Quilters Guild in Raleigh. Several of my bee members and I drove downtown to Peace College, our temporary meeting place. It is not ideal for a large group. We have so many charity committees, special projects, library, etc. that need special tables, so we are pretty crowded in the auditorium setting. But we are grateful to have a place after losing the space we have rented for ten years from Wake County.

Anyway, it was very difficult to take good photographs in this auditorium, but I have tried to brighten them a bit in PhotoShop Elements.

First, here is a sneak peek at the raffle quilt for the North Carolina Quilt Symposium 2011. We will be hosting the Symposium quilt show and conference at Peace College again. The raffle quilt is already finished! Actually, it was made by quilt book author and judge Jane Hall and friends from her bee, in conjunction with the North Carolina Museum of History. Jane drafted the blocks from quilts owned by the museum. The quilt was donated to the museum in 2003, but they have given it back to us to raffle for Symposium. It is so pretty!

Although the blocks are from antique quilts, the fabrics are bright batiks.

This star block will be the Symposium logo.

There was another raffle quilt on display...the not-quite-finished one for the guild's Heritage Day next October. This time the Grandmother's Flower Garden top was donated, but the guild is adding a border and hand-quilting it. The border was designed by our own Karen Comstock, who is a pattern designer.

Our guest speaker was quilt book author and pattern designer Sally Schneider from Albuquerque, New Mexico. She spoke to us about Built-In Borders. Instead of adding a long border strip, Sally pieces blocks that form a border design.

Sally generously displayed her quilts on tables at the back of the stage so we could take a closer look. My favorite was this Christmas quilt in traditional red, green, and white. That ribbon border looks great.

This one that she calls Super Bowl Stars does not have prairie points...those are pieced blocks for the border.

I did not get the borders in this picture, but my friend Mary loved the colors and fabrics in this quilt.

Finally we had the Charity Quilt parade. We make Quilts on Wheels for rest home residents, Quilts for Kids for neo-natal intensive care nurseries, and SafeChild quilts for a child abuse prevention program. The ones turned in each month are paraded by for us to see. I think all our recent snow days produced a lot of quilting in Raleigh!

I brought home nine more quilt tops to quilt. They will probably not all get done by the next meeting! I still have two quilt tops from my bee's sew-in to finish first.
All our children and grandchildren are coming here to visit this weekend, and it looks like the weather is finally going to be sunny and a little warmer. I am so happy that my family will be here!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Different Ways to Applique

I have found a fabulous blog for those who love traditional applique- I mean the turned under edge, hand-stitched kind.

Check out One Piece at a Time, written by Erin Russek.

Erin has beautifully photographed tutorials of her template drawn, running stitched, brush-starched, perfect applique techniques.

Oh, yeah---and she can piece pretty well. She has been offering a step-by-step tutorial for piecing a feathered star. That is a rather intimidating traditional quilt pattern, but I think we could all make a perfect one following these instructions.

For me, I have usually avoided the A-word, unless we're talking raw-edged. I will fuse, machine-stitch, or raw-edge embroider by hand using ladder stitch a la Pamela Allen.

I have been dutifully stitching down the projects for my current online class with her. Having the Olympics on TV is a perfect opportunity for handwork. I use a very large doll-making needle, three strands of embroidery floss, and a ladder stitch to attach these free form, scissor-cut shapes to the background fabric and batting. Here is a bit of the Lesson 2 project under way:

You can use matching or contrasting color thread, depending if you want to emphasize the line or not. Usually I try to blend with the background pieces.

Here is a sneak peek at a detail of my secret Lesson 1 project. I made trees from a black twill fabric that was discharge-dyed with bleach, and used black hand-stitching to add some character to the trees. Machine quilting added some more slender trees and branches, some bark features, and some background foliage.

Here is an entire quilt where you can see the additional line added by the contrasting hand stitching. The striped look around the flowers is black crochet thread that was used to attach both both the outer white and the inner black portions of the petals. The same for the centers of the leaves, which remind me of coleus.

BTW, this quilt was a lesson in value using only gray, black and white fabrics. For a bit of rebellion and surprise, look what I did on the back:

You can see that I added a lot of hidden picture shapes while machine-quilting. Do you see a cat, bird, fish, and pine tree? Lots of fun!

And here is the weirdest quilt I have made in a Pamela Allen class: The Green Man. It took a long time to stitch down all his leafy parts by hand. Come to think of it, he was a fore-runner of the Cubist experiments from the current class, wasn't he? Look at those eyes!

And yes, leaving the fabric edge raw does sometimes give a frayed edge, but often that is desired in an art quilt. Bark, leaves, hair, all lend themselves to this technique.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Cubist Explorations

Picasso...what images do you think of? Crazy heads with eyes in different planes going in all directions? People who are goofy-looking rectangles?
I admit, that's what I think of...and women with breasts pointing in directions Mother Nature never intended...
But we have been exploring Cubism in this week's lesson, with Pamela Allen's guidance. There is a huge variety of artwork out there exploring the concept of time and movement...
We started making basic shapes, making positive/negative images, fracturing them...
and developing them into a composition using all our previous lessons of the elements of art.

I started with the ubiquitous daisy shape common to quilters, okay, a little wonky daisy...
that has exploded into a wild garden!

I also tried a generic coffee mug
put in some contrasting backgrounds, an outline suggesting a cup...
and worked that fabric sketch into a piece I like very much, which reminds me of a collage. Wanna cuppa?

This has been so much fun. I would never in my dreams have thought I could do something like this! And I have enough handwork to stitch down to last me a very long time!