Saturday, July 26, 2014

Road Trip!

Had a great time last weekend in Columbus.  Four of us from Detroit Area Modern Quilt Guild (DAMQG) went to Columbus, where we had a small group class at Sew to Speak, a shop I've been dying to visit for awhile.  We made a wallet and did some shopping.  A friend from Cleveland joined us.  I loved that there was a bowl of entirely GREEN M & M's to munch while sewing our wallets.  Isn't it pretty?  And the bowl has BLUE edging---my two favorite colors in the world.

We went to four more shops, visiting Quilt Trends in Columbus, Quilt Beginnings and the Red Rooster in Dublin, Ohio, then another Quilt Beginnings in Columbus.  Found lots of great stuff and had a fabulous time!  Good food and good friends!

'Stash Enhancement' was practiced with great skill & ability!  The "401F" is looking good.

I can't wait to try out that Quick Curve Ruler I bought----I was sold on the idea when I saw a beautiful sample quilt in a shop.  I purchased a pattern there, but then had to also order the book from Amazon when I got home---if I had realized it existed, I would have gotten it right away & not bought the loose pattern.  But we'll see; maybe the book is great & has lots of options.

Meanwhile, work has continued on the Leah Day Building Blocks Quilt Along.  I quilted another set of blocks and then laid them out on the floor in the arrangement according to the pattern.  Looking great!  Pulling from my stash & using what I have is working out well.  I'm only thru maybe block set 6, so still catching up on.
I have a couple of other fun projects I worked on a bit this week, but that will wait for the next blog entry.  Til then, keep quilting!!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Striving for Improvement

I've been free motion quilting (FMQ) for a long time now, and would describe myself as an experienced machine quilter.  NOT perfect; experienced.  I've taken classes with some of the BEST, sometimes even more than once with a teacher!  Harriet Hargrave, Diane Gaudynski, Sue Nickels, Sally Terry, Patsy Thompson, and recently, Natalia Bonner.  Coming up at Quiltcon, I will have a class with Angela Walters.  And in the fall, spending a week with Sue Nickels at the 1st Annual Holly Girls Camp.  I guess I'm serious about improving my skills!

But a quilter I've admire for a long time is Leah Day.  I think my friend Cathy M first pointed me to Leah's website and her 365 patterns and The Free Motion Quilting Project.  Since then, I've used her website as a resource constantly and purchased a few of her books.  She's a beautiful young quilter, maybe in her 30's? and looks about 17.  The information and guidance she gives striving quilters is amazing, and much of it is free.  So when something is offered that I can buy, I feel compelled to support her efforts.  She is so generous--even the videos on her website can be watched--FREE!

Back in January 2014, a new project began, the Building Blocks Quiltalong.  This project is a year long effort with skill-building in both piecing and machine quilting, in a block by block quilt-as-you-go technique.  Each Monday, a new FREE video is posted.  First one of the month introduces us to some piecing and we make 3 or 4 of one block design.  The next few weeks, each Monday a new video is posted with quilting demo,and we then quilt each block in a different pattern.

Not certain about committing to the project, I joined the Facebook group for the project and just watched.  Until earlier this month, when I decided I really needed to do it.  The approximately 90 page pattern is $24, and you download and print.  It contains all the fabric requirements, piecing instructions, and traceable quilting patterns for the blocks.  When you have a block set done, you can post it on the Facebook group page.  Lastly, when all blocks are done, we will learn how to join them. I've never made a quilt this way, so it will be interesting!

First up--the fabric.  Leah recommends using solids and contrasting thread.  You are not allowed to hide the quilting!  The point is to learn.  I calculated that even using inexpensive Kona cottons, it would cost $65 to buy fabric.  I have a stash---I wanted to use what I had!  I don't buy large pieces, so that was challenging.  But I decided making the quilt should not require purchasing more fabric.  Went to my solids, and pulled fabrics I thought coordinated, so it will be a little 'scrappy' (not just 2 solids). Khaki-ish on the right, for the backgrounds, and on the left blues & greens for the main fabrics.

 As it is already July, I have to CATCH UP!  You piece, then quilt.  I did that for the first 2 block sets, then one night when I just wanted to piece, I made the next three sets.  There is a solid dark grey for the back, cut a bunch of those squares.  Went to batting remnants and cut the needed 10" squares for a bunch of those---great way to use up those odd batting pieces!

Not in order of the pattern,  here is some of my work so far.

One exercise, not pictured here, was on scale.  Each block had 4 areas and the same design was used, altering the scale.  I found that very, very challenging!  Working really small is very different for the muscles.  I've also done all the lines FMQ---no walking foot!  It's surprisingly easier than I would have thought and looks pretty good.  Marked lines are necessary, though.

Leah recommends using a lightbox or window and marking the designs on the blocks.  I am not fond of marking.  If it is a line, I mark it. Bigger circles are marked.  The rest I am winging.  She says marking is easier for beginngers; agreed--but am not a beginner.  The goal for all would be at least minimal marking.  I like all over designs on some quilts, and never mark those.

The first 5 sets are done, so I am up to May.  I can catch up to them pretty quickly I think.  The Facebook group is very nice, very supportive of our efforts.  I've noticed a lot of nit-picking, even in the quilting groups, on Facebook lately.  Ugh----so negative!  But that's a topic for another day.....

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Finishing things

In my goal of trying to finish things that are already in progress, this week I completed two projects and moved one down the road towards completion.

I finished hand-quilting (big stitch, perle cotton) the applique project I started in a class with Sarah Fielke in May.  Got the binding on it, and voila!  This is about 20 or 21" square.  Love how those shot cottons look with quilting, either hand or machine.  They are so beautiful!  This one is a 'Peppered Cotton' by Pepper Cory. I would love to have full bolts of all of them!

So much did I enjoy the big-stitch hand quilting, that I pulled out this project I started FIVE years ago, when laid up with a broken leg.  I originally intended to make it larger, but a friend said awhile back 'don't you just get tempted to make two more and call it done?'.  I decided she had a point!  Made two more (the applique pieces were all cut out, in a box), put it together, added borders and the circles used in the pattern and had a top ready for basting.  Pattern is "Rice Bowls" from Kaffe Fasset's book  Passionate Patchwork.  12 is a great number for a wall-hanging, didn't need to be any bigger!

I basted on the floor, (ugh---haven't done that in awhile---I've been spray basting for awhile now) using pins, but just to hold it.  Then I hand basted with big stitches.  All ready for handquilting!  Using Aurafil's 12 weight Mako thread in a beautiful turquoise.  The quilting will be nothing fancy.  I'm following the books recommendations of simple outlining.  Great to have handwork when watching tv in the evening with my DH.  Close up below of quilting-in-progress is a little wrinkly, putting it in and out of the frame causes that, but you get the idea!

Also quilted and put the binding on a cute little baby quilt I made for my good friend's brand new grand baby, a beautiful little girl named Lilly, who arrived July 1st.

I loved the pattern, called "Birthday Bunting", appropriately enough.   Thought she needed a simple modern quilt.  Love that background fabric; it's a Tula Pink, and this one is a light grey (also comes in beige).  The pink pennants are a number of different pinks and were paper-pieced.  The pennants have simple line quilting and to soften that, the background has swirls.  the binding is a soft grey but mixed in are several pink sections, which was fun. Just needs a label, and a little 'big brother' gift to accompany it and it will go off to the new parents!

Meanwhile, the flowers are blooming and looking lovely out near my pergola, so I thought I'd share some of summer's beauty with you!  Enjoy!!  (and yes, looking now, I see two LARGE weeds in my beautiful picture that need to be pulled, but hey.....I'm busy quilting!!!)