REALLY looking: a serendipitous discovery

river004Michael James could be described as the first extreme quilter.  This book, which was published in 1998, is in many quilters’ libraries.

It just so happened that when I bought it at a Guild retreat, I also bought a basket of goodies which I discovered included a magnifier.  Anxious to see how well it worked I held it over the book cover (not something I would usually do) and was gobsmacked to see that Michael James did not use only solids in his work.  In the older pieces especially there are some pretty tame calicoes that today would likely be relegated to baby quilts or quilt backs, as they’re just not that dynamic.  For example follow the fourth orange stripe from the bottom left and see what it’s joined to when the colour change happens!

CHALLENGE – what do you think?  Is it harder to use colours you don’t like or prints you don’t like?

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Still designing Modern Quilt Guild Banner Block …

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Decided to go with the repeated diamond shapes in the background fabric.

What do you think?

Not wanting to use up all the Kona Cottons I went with the palette I’ve chosen for the next workshop I’m taking, which is Mile-a-Minute, coming up soon, as the supply list says it’s okay to bring orphan blocks.  I’m curious to see how similar the method is to building slabs, which I’m still doing.

Making art every day

I subscribed to Lesley Riley’s 52 pick-up, which is a year of weekly creativity prompts to encourage more regular art and creativity.  Feeling accountable to a supportive group of other people is helping me to form better habits.

And every day I succeed in spending time creating, I get a star!

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In real life the stars look better than they do in the photo, which often happens with glitter and metallics.  They’re foiled, a technique I’ve had a lot of fun with for years.  You can get the foils and special glue from Jones Tones.

But, breaking news!  and not good, although definitely a first world problem, Dharma Trading, the go-to source for all things fibre arty, posted that the foil is being discontinued and they (Dharma) are looking for a replacement.  In the month since they posted, the more conventional colours have been snapped up but they still have purple, green and blue.

I fused the square fabric onto the Disco Dots to have a little more body to stand up to the writing and foiling and free motion quilted along the lines.

Improvised design wall for lastest baby slab quilt

Okay, okay, it’s my bad, I should have hung up my design wall as soon as I moved in to my new home BUT instead I procrastinated although I was convinced I had all the necessary hardware.

This morning since my design study group is meeting tomorrow I decided I really must do something about the design wall.  Out comes the industrial gray felt with the hanging tabs, out comes my box of hardware, out comes the rubbing alcohol to clean the wall.

The wall is cleaned, the felt is smoothed out all ready to hang.

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OBSTACLE!  what I thought was removable strips for the plastic hooks turns out to be a pack of Velcro removable strips to go directly on the back of a picture frame.  I need the kind with adhesive on both sides to stick to the back of the hooks.

Pause to kick myself (because I did a mega-shop yesterday and could certainly have bought the right product had I realized) and to wonder also why they package three of these Velcro doohickeys when the illustration on the back shows putting two on the back of the picture frame?  Why do I wonder, it’s so they can make everyone buy two packs in order to hang two pictures, and then have two left over.

Don’t let me rant about this way of packaging that forces you to buy more than you need or can use.  Our dustbin lid went missing recently.  New dustbin but will anyone sell you a lid?

Anyway back to the drawing board, er, I mean design wall, and back to a supply I can’t do without, i.e. masking tape!  It’s not pretty but for now it will do.

The two columns on the left are sewn together and the other three columns are still under design.  I’ll let it percolate for a bit and probably move things around.

The colour palette is analagous, which was the design exercise we had set for ourselves at our first meeting.  It was interesting to see what others made of this, because I was the only person to use a neutral in my design.

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It’s good to have feedback from supportive friends who ‘get it’ because originally the bottom corner looked like this (more or less, excuse the masking tape!)  I had focused on the fact that the structure of that block makes it a good corner block, but five fresh sets of eyes noted that the weight/volume is much too light.

After some reverse sewing I was ready to replace the offending block.  Set-in seam strikes fear into my heart, but I found a terrific YouTube tutorial by Kaye Wood which I watched several times and followed, and I’m quite pleased with the result:

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Here’s a close up of the set in corner.  Kaye’s method is very simple.

My only regret is that I got confused and the part which I planned to have on the outside corner isn’t.  However I think with a new to me technique and all the seams it’s better to quit while I’m ahead.  Am I being a wuss, what do you think?  You can tell me, I can take it!

All the tutorials online show how to do y-seams as part of a block like Bright Hopes, Tumbling Blocks or Grandmother’s Flower Garden.  No one has posted a tutorial on “sewing round corners when you need to fix a design flub.”  Hmm, an unmet need.

Baby Quilt for Bloggers Quilt Festival

Yes, it’s That Time Again!

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How awesome that Amy puts in the effort to bring this to the blogging/quilting community twice every year!

Here is my entry to the Baby Quilt category, where I see many, many wonderful creations already.  Although I have entered the festival before, this is my first time to have two entries.  My other quilt is an art quilt and you can see it here.photo(80)

Although I have made a couple of other baby slab quilts, this was my first attempt to go low volume and “air out” the block by alternating them with white on white blocks.

Slab blocks are such fun and a great way to use up scraps in a colour controlled way that results in a cohesive piece.  I’ve posted numerous times about slab blocks and Cheryl Arkison’s work which was what got me started on this tack.

Comments are welcome and please visit the other sites that are participating in the various categories.  You’ll be glad you did.

Goodbye to the Seam Ripper!

how often has this happened to you?

photo(85)Well, thanks to modern quilting, this no longer means reverse sewing.  This is a modern disappearing 9-patch!

Just slice it into quarters and voila!

You’ll get this ….

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then comes the fun part, where you get to play around and come up with all kinds of designs!

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And yes, I do realize that eight blocks do not a quilt top make but these are for a Modern Quilt Guild block of the month drawing next month.

All from the simple recipe of five white squares plus two different colour prints in each of two colours, for a total of nine five-inch squares.

Really the one time where you might choose to take a seam ripper to it would be if you places four white squares like a four-patch, because then you’d end up with a seven-inch square of white fabric with seams across it, and why would you want to do that?

This is a fast way to make Andrea Balosky‘s Odd Couple blocks.  I know I have her book Transitions: Unlocking the Creative Quilter Within, and I have read and re-read it many times, but right now it’s nowhere to be found, alas!

You can see my first disappearing 9-patch here, which also has a link to a handy YouTube tutorial on how to make it turn out the way you want it to!

I have to wonder whether someone sat down and cudgeled their brains to think up a new block, or whether it was a frustrated quilter who just. didn’t. have. the. energy. to. rip. one. more. seam.

What do you think?

Pink butterfly finito!

with batting, backing, free motion quilting, label (finally filled in at the baby’s house to be sure her name was correctly spelled)

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Lessons learned:

  • I like the airy lower volume look on this quilt and the diagonal lines created with the corners and how the slab blocks were turned to emphasize diagonals in the design.  Can see pursuing this idea further.
  • Glad I thought to bring a Pigma pen along so I could finish writing the label
  • Because of the deadline of the baby party I got this finished quickly, the same as the green one I completed on Labour Day.  Hopefully I can hold onto this energy and apply it to other projects, even though the next baby in our community is not due till December.

The perimeter measures 127 inches (36 by 27-1/2 inches)