Wednesday, November 12, 2014

For the Love of Teaching - Holiday Tree Class

At the beginning of this month, a group of fine ladies invited me to teach at their guild. It has been a few years since my teaching muscle has been exercised. I loved every minute of it. When my friend and leader of the Big Springs Quilt Guild, Holley, asked me to teach, my knee jerk reaction was "No!". It had been too long and there was too much else going on and all of those typical excuses rolled through my head. Then I remembered a picture of a quilt that I wanted to make and I asked if that would be a good project for the group. When the answer was yes, I was on the hook to teach.

The original pattern for this project comes from this Moda Bake Shop pattern. Our class version was reduced in size and also had the addition of a checkerboard background.

One of the most exciting parts of the class is that my mom was one of the students. She moved nearby not too long ago and this was the first time she had ever been in a class I was teaching. She is the one sitting down. Hi mom!

Our class time was scheduled from 11-3. Most of the cutting was done in advance so we were able to begin sewing right away. About half way through the class, we all needed a sewing break so everyone gathered around for a lesson.

We talked about seven different methods for making half square triangles. Yep, seven. I showed in process examples and we went over the math. It was a good break and going through the demo helped me decide that yes, half square triangle methods would make a great class all on its own.

Of course there was plenty of visiting and eating and just hanging out.

There was no formal registration for the class so I had all sorts of pre-class jitters. What if nobody shows up? What if I forget something? What if I make no sense at all? I had it in my head that it would be great if eight people showed up. Originally, I made ten copies of my materials. At the last minute, I went back and made an extra ten. And then they started coming...and coming...and coming. All I can really remember about the time before class is that we kept having to go get more tables and chairs and I started getting nervous about shorting out the electricity. The final count for the class...27 students. Of those, there were three or four who did not sew. Wow. I was really blown away. Overwhelmed. And oh so pleased to have the chance to spend the day with this group of quilters.

So far I have seen pictures of three finished quilt tops. It is pretty exciting to see that many finishes less than two weeks after class day. Thank you Big Springs Quilt Guild. It was a very good day.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Garden Fence Memory Quilt - Finished

Wow. I didn't mean to be gone quite this long from here. There have been lots of happenings lately. In addition to finishing this quilt, I taught a class for the first time in a long time and decided that a major redo of my sewing space was in order. More on that later. Today is a day for sharing a quilt finish. Don't you just love that feeling of finishing a big project? This is one of those kinds of projects.

All of the fabric on this quilt top, except for the white background, comes from clothing. There are shirts and pajama pants, bathrobes, and maybe even some underwear in the mix. Almost all of them are manly plaids, which is not something I would normally be drawn to for a quilt. It is interesting the lessons learned from each and every project in life. These plaids, that were worn by a special man, come together beautifully in color, scale, and texture. The quilt is also extra soft and warm since the fabric is not crisp and new. I love the result.

There were a few extra blocks which were incorporated on the back.

And a very special label was created.

The quilting was all done with Aurifil 50 weight thread in cream (#2000). Three rows with a walking foot on the sashing between each block anchor them. Then two free motion designs were alternated on the blocks. The flowerish design is in direct tribute to the man this quilt was designed to honor. He was an avid gardener.

The binding is scrappy, again all from clothing, and attached by machine.

The binding might be my favorite part of this quilt. All of that plaid and warm colors just says "wrap yourself up in me".

This quilt will be delivered to its owner tomorrow. I am certain, more than any other quilt I have ever made, that this quilt will be loved for years to come.

For other blog entries related to this quilt, see:
A Memory Quilt: Deciding on a Design
Garden Fence Quilt Beginnings
Garden Fence Memory Quilt - Steps of Progress

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Garden Fence Memory Quilt - Steps of Progress

This project is moving right along. All of the blocks for the top are made so another step checked off the list. So far, this project has undergone:

  The selection of a design


  The creation of a few sample blocks to confirm the design choice

This week, lots of cutting happened. One lesson learned with this project is that it takes a lot more time to cut quilt blocks from clothing than it does from fabric yardage. The odd shapes make squaring up take a little more time, especially since many of these clothing item are plaids and stripes, and it also takes time to look over each cut to make sure that there are no stains, flaws, or worn spots.

Believe it or not, those stacks are enough to make 42 blocks. The picture doesn't do it justice. Trust me, there is a lot of fabric in those stacks! The Garden Fence blocks need two different fabrics, one in the center, and one for the borders. To mix and match, the center blocks were lined up on the table.

And then all the border pieces were placed on top to make a pair for each block. My goal was to mix them up as much as possible.

The weekend was all about getting these blocks sewn together. The Garden Fence block sews together fairly quickly, primarily because there are no points to match. I developed quite a rhythm by the end.

My goal for the next week is to turn these blocks into a quilt top. There is some rearranging to be done, sashing to be cut, and then it is just a matter of sewing them all together. There are a lot of good memories in these quilt blocks and I am having a great time stitching them into a special quilt.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Doodling to Improve Free Motion Quilting

I have a little bit of a doodling habit. I also have a habit of not being able to sit still. Doodling is a way to fidget least that is my story and I am sticking with it.

What I have learned is that all that doodling really helps build muscle memory for my free motion quilting. At work, all of my notes go into a bound book so it was easy to look back over the year to see how my doodling has evolved. 

Doodling helps me listen better, too. My mind becomes very focused when I draw. Doodles often start safely in the side margins of my paper.

One thing I have noticed this year is that my doodles became much more quilty after I took Angela Walters class on Craftsy, How to Quilt Negative Space. 

Sometimes doodles wander into the top margin of the page.

And every now and then, doodles take over EVERYWHERE!

They even inspire patterns and design. The sun that shows each ray as a different design might just become part of a bigger quilt design in the near future.

And Maureen Cracknell over at Maureen Cracknell Handmade certainly has put feathers on the brain. I love all of her drawing and quilting and can't wait to get my hands on her first fabric line later this fall.

I never have a plan for what is going to show up on paper. The wavy lines with the solid point on the bottom near the middle of the page was very random and then I decided it looked like a wild and wacky witch leg. You can see what happened after that idea popped into my head.

One day, I'm going to sit down with a blank canvas of a quilt and see what evolves. 

Doodling doesn't come naturally to everyone. I highly recommend it and here are some tips if you'd like to give it a try:
  • Let go of perfectionism.
    It isn't a tattoo. It isn't intended to be a masterpiece. It is just for fun.
  • Let it be fun.
    It is okay if it is ugly, or goofy, or unidentifiable. This reminds me of children's art work where I was advised not to say, "What is it?" but to say, "Tell me about it." Really, it doesn't have to be anything at all.
  • Let it be random.
    There is never a plan when I doodle. Sometimes I will just draw a wavy line on my page. Then I will draw dots on either side of the line. Then little triangles. Then I will look at it and might see a face or a feather or a cloud. It is totally cool to turn it into an ink blot test or cloud watching exercise.
  • Let it inspire you.
    You never know where a random doodle will lead you. It could be a quilt design, a machine quilting filler, a story you want to write, or it could simply be a mind settling exercise to ease you through some part of your day.
  • Don't be hindered by supplies.
    Something to write on. Something to write with. That is all. Pen on paper. Chalk on sidewalk. Stick in the dirt. All perfect mediums for your perfect doodles.

Do you doodle? I would love to hear your tips and see your designs. If you don't, give it a try and share those doodles. They may inspire someone else as much as they inspire you.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Hot Pink Holiday Quilt

It all started with some small scraps of Michael Miller holiday fabric. Mittens, trees, and snowflakes in fun, bright colors.

They had been sitting on my cutting table for a couple of weeks while I pondered what to do with them. They needed to become a quilt. It was just a matter of finding a few friends to complement them and a nice background fabric.

I had been wanting to play with sixty degree triangles for a while and this project was a perfect way to indulge. It was fun putting together the color palette. There were lots of auditions.

Decisions were made. A layout developed and then sewing began. There was just over a yard of hot pink so that determined the final size of the quilt top.

The finished quilt top is the perfect size for a sweet and sassy little girl. As much as I wanted to go quilting crazy with all that negative space, I settled for a simple triangle grid mimicking the piecing.

The quilting and the piecing were all completed with Aurifil 50 weight cotton thread. I think it is time for me to start investing in more large spools of Aurifil. I seem to be going through the small ones at a quick pace.
It needed a little something more and my dear friend Holley suggested adding a single triangle in the hot pink negative space. I love the way it turned out. It adds just the right extra something to the quilt.

Most of the time, my quilt backs are created from my fabric stash but this quilt deserved something special so I bought a bigger piece of Michal Miller fabric for the back. The back is just as fun as the front. The binding is a black with white dots for thoughts of snow in this hot pink world.

This quilt finishes at 33 inches by 40 inches.

This quilt is for sale. Please visit my shop for more details.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

A Scrappy Holiday Tree Quilt

A few weeks ago, I attended a reception for a quilt display at our local library. It was from one of our local guilds, Big Springs Quilt Guild. It was a fabulous display. This is a small guild of thirty or so ladies, but they make a big statement with their quilts. While I was there, the leader of the group, who is also my good friend Holley, asked me if I would teach at one of their meetings. I have not taught a quilt class in almost three years. My first reaction was...No. I don't have any idea what I would teach. Then, as I was looking at all of their work, I thought...I could teach a project. It doesn't necessarily have to be a skill. So I said YES, because really, there is nothing I wouldn't do for Holley.
As is usually the case these days, it all started with a picture I saw on Pinterest. The original source for this project can be found here in the Moda Bake Shop. I changed up the finished size and the design of the background but the original is the inspiration that started it all. There was also a pile of Christmas scraps on my sewing table that kept staring at me. The background from the inspiration picture was a single piece of fabric, and that was my intention too. Until I realized that I didn't have a big enough piece of fabric to do that. I really love the checkerboard background and it happened completely by happy accident.
This project is perfect for practicing matching corners and making half square triangles. I will talk about different ways to make half square triangles as part of the class. So a skill lesson developed after all. Decided to go subtle with the star on top by quilting it rather than piecing or appliqueing it.
The trunk in the border was a late addition when one of my sons commented that the trunk was missing. I thought about adding another row to the quilt top, but I like how it just sits right in the border. The quilting is all done with a walking foot. Diagonals for the tree and a grid for the background.
I used a red on the back. I also did the binding all by machine. I'm usually a hand stitch kind of girl for binding. With a little more practice, binding by machine might grow on me. It is definitely much faster.

This sample will be delivered to Holley next week so she can share it with the girls at their October meeting. Class is planned for the first Saturday in November. I am really excited to be teaching again. I need to get the supply list completed so that it can be delivered next week as well.
While this project was made using Christmas fabric, it could easily be adapted to other color schemes for seasonal trees. It finishes at 24" x 30" and as a bonus, I'll be sharing with the class how to make it bigger (all the way up to a king size quilt) and smaller (using tiny one inch squares).

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Garden Fence Quilt Beginnings

Once the design decision was made, I couldn't wait to get started on this quilt. This is the first quilt I have made using clothing, so the first step was to figure out the best way to cut the clothing. Should I start with the sleeve, the back, the front? I decided that no one part was better than the other, though I would watch out for worn spots, like elbows, in cutting. It was a little hard making that first cut, but once I was in, I was all in.

I went for the front panel on the shirts and used scissors to cut right up to any seams so I would have maximum fabric that would iron nice and flat. Since this was still in the figuring out stage, I chose six pieces of clothing for making test blocks. It was quite therapeutic to think about the man who wore these clothes, even though I never met him. When did he wear this one? What stories could this shirt tell?
Here's how the cutting went. Nine of the pieces in the picture are cut to size and ready to become part of the quilt. There are some scraps and some pieces big enough to set aside for more blocks later. I'm filling a jar with buttons from the shirts and may make a nice stack of pockets just in case a future project develops with them.
Here are the first six blocks, ready to be sewn. Lots of plaids in these clothes. The thing to remember with this design is that it is an overall look. I have to remind myself of that when I get too matchy matchy with the individual blocks.

The solid fabric is a Moda Bella solid in Porcelain. It is not too white and not too cream and coordinates well with many of the clothing fabrics. I think this quilt is off to a great start. The blocks finish at ten inches and there will be a narrow sashing between them. Can't wait to watch this quilt grow. Time to cut some more blocks!