Saturday, October 15, 2011

Quilt Guild Block of the Month: Quatrefoil

This is October's Flying Geese Quilters Guild Block of the Month done in the fabrics I'm using for my brother and sister-in-laws quilt. The fabric featured in the center square (should we call it the Whoopi Goldberg square?) is from Lizzy House's 1001 Peeps collection. I've caught up on June and October. Now I just have to catch up on July, August, and September's blocks.

The quatrefoil block was also featured in Modern Blocks: 99 Quilt Blocks from Your Favorite Designerscompiled by Susanne Woods, which just arrived on my doorstep yesterday. So exciting!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Quilt Guild Block of the Month: Dutchman's Puzzle

This is the Flying Geese Quilters Guild Block of the Month for June done in the fabrics for my brother and sister-in-law's quilt. I used speed piecing method B from Quilter's Cache. It worked a lot better for me this time compared to back in May.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Blogger's Block of the Month: A Quilting Life

I am pathological. When I have too much on my plate, what do I do? Ask for seconds. So in addition to catching up on the last few blocks of the month from the Flying Geese Quilters Guild, I've decided to do the Blogger's Block of the Month. The first block is from Sherri at A Quilting Life.

The Blogger's Blocks of the Month are all supposed to be 8 inches when finished. But the blocks for the Flying Geese Quilters Guild are 12 inches finished. So my plan is to increase all of the Blogger's Blocks of the Month to 12 inches finished. That way I can put the blocks from both sets together into one big, beautiful, long overdue, sampler quilt for my brother and sister-in-law.

This month's block is pretty easy to scale up to 12 inches. You'll need:
  • 8 - 3 1/2'' squares background fabric (where Sherri used the Kaffe grey, I used bright green Flea Market Fancy or Katie Jump Rope by Denyse Schmidt for FreeSpirit.),
  • 4 - 3 1/2'' squares of medium/dark prints (where Sherri used four different Kaffe prints, I used one black and dark blue-green print from Lizzy House's 1001 Peeps collection),
  • 2 - 4'' squares background fabric (again where Sherri used the Kaffe grey I used bright green Flea Market Fancy or Katie Jump Rope by Denyse Schmidt for FreeSpirit.), and
  • 2 - 4'' squares of another medium/dark print (where Sherri used two of the same Kaffe prints I used the red and white print from Flea Market Fancy or Katie Jump Rope by Denyse Schmidt for FreeSpirit.).
This block sews together super fast. For the four half-square triangles I used the old make two at the same time trick: drawing a line from one corner to the other, sewing a quarter inch on either side of the line, and cutting on the line. I use a slightly larger square to start with so I had a little wiggle room to square up my pieced patch. Also, since I used the same print for my dark squares, I strip pieced the four-patches. I'm so excited to add this block to my brother and sister-in-law's sampler!

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Saturday, October 1, 2011

Quilt Guild Block of the Month: Dutchman's Puzzle

June's Flying Geese Quilters Guild Block of the Month was Dutchman's Puzzle. Click here for a PDF with the instructions. I went to Quilter's Cache and downloaded their paper pieced geese PDF from the comprehensive tutorial on piecing flying geese.
I actually had this done in June, I just forgot to post about it. "Prove it," I hear you cry.
Yup, I won the block drawing. I have 32 gorgeous Dutchman's Puzzle blocks. My plan is to set them on point and make a king-sized quilt.

I didn't get a chance to make this out of the fabric for my brother's and sister-in-law's quilt, so it's on my list of BOMs to make up.

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Friday, September 30, 2011

Quilt Guild Block of the Month

October's Flying Geese Quilters Guild Block of the Month is a quatrefoil block. Click here for a PDF with the instructions. Yes, the last one I finished was for June. I'll be catching up on June, July, August, and September's blocks using the fabrics I'm using for my brother and sister-in-laws quilt.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Woo Hoo!

At the Flying Geese Quilters Guild I have a bit of a reputation for my jubilance upon winning anything, even the smallest door prize. So you can imagine the racket when I learned that I had won third place in Generation Q Magazine's Quilts Made Modern Block Challenge.

Mind you, I had a 3 in 10 chance of placing. But I had a better chance winning a drawing at my guild last night and didn't win that, so hey. Probability aside, those other seven blocks are AWESOME, so my competition was steep. And the first and second place blocks are SUPER AWESOME, so I'm totally grateful the judges (including Weeks Ringle and Bill Kerr of Fun Quilts!) thought my block was worthy of third place.

I came across this challenge by following the blog tour for the Weeks and Bill's newest book Quilts Made Modern: 10 Projects, Keys for Success with Color & Design, From the FunQuilts Studio. I learned about the book and the blog tour because I follow Weeks's fantastic blog Craft Nectar.

A few thoughts on my design process here. I printed out the start of a block, cut it out, and then started folding it along the lines to choose what kind of symmetry I would follow. I settled on making the design symmetrical around the line that divides the circle in my final drawing. Then I doodled with my ruler and compass (clearly modern quilters dig curves as the top three blocks all included circles or parts thereof). Once I got the line drawing I liked, I scanned it into a JPEG and used Paint to fill in the colors. I thought about Weeks and Bill's approach to color in The Modern Quilt Workshop: Patterns, Techniques, and Designs from the FunQuilts Studio. I picked an analogous color scheme centering on a peachy orange and two hues on either side of it, then a light and medium value of each. It's reminiscent of the color scheme in the XOXO quilt in The Modern Quilt Workshop.

Placing in this challenge is awesome, but I think I'm almost more excited about discovering this new quilting resource: Generation Q Magazine. If you're into quilting in general or modern quilting in specific, you will love it.

Thank you Generation Q Magazine!

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Friday, August 5, 2011

Fab Printing

I know I'm coming to this late in the game, but holy cow I think my new color printer, some PFD fabric, and 8 1/2 by 11 inch freezer paper is going to change my life.

Friday, May 20, 2011

LQS Love: Bear's Quilt Shop in Garden Grove

I first entered Bear's Quilt Shop for a dyeing workshop put on by the Flying Geese Quilters Guild. The Guild doesn't usually hold workshops at Bear's so I was a little surprised. But then I saw the classroom. I can't imagine a classroom better designed for a dyeing class.

I dyed with Daren Pitts Redman in an almost brand new quilt shop with pristine white tables and floors, one sink, no washer, and no dryer. We all had dyed fabric at the end of the day, but the floor and tables had a little dye too. And we were all super anxious about getting dye anywhere. We also didn't properly rinse and dry our fabrics, so we didn't really get to see the final product until we were home . . . to be brutally honest, I air dried those pieces of fabric without rinsing them, folded them up, popped them into a ziploc bag, and they're still in that bag as I type . . . three years later. In fact, the reason I stopped by Bear's last week was to pick up some synthrapol to finally rinse those fabrics so I could use them to finish the project I started in the workshop I took at Bear's.

I also took a dyeing workshop at IQF Chicago, so that was in a hotel conference room . . . using the sinks in the ladies' room at the other end of the hall. Similarly, no one really got to see the fully rinse, fully dried results. And we were all having strokes out of fear that we'd ruin the carpet and get quilters banned from Chicago for life.
Now, if you cannot work in a space that isn't pretty, Bear's is not for you. Bear's whole space is practical. First, like a lot of LQSs in this area, they're in a office park/warehouse with low overhead. They've got the usual amenities like individual tables for each student and super comfy rolly chairs.

Second, unlike a lot of LQSs in office parks, they didn't cover the concrete floors. Not conventionally pretty, but totally functional. Whether mopping up dye drips or sweeping up thread clippings, this polished cement floor is easier to clean than any flooring I've ever seen in a quilt shop. That seems like it would only benefit the people who have to clean it, but I've taken some workshops in some otherwise posh shops, whose floors were totally gross. When I picked up my sewing machine's bag off the floor, a layer of dust bunnies had stuck to it. That's not going to happen at Bear's. Also, while I was in my dyeing class at Bear's I could focus on my project and not worry about whether I was dripping dye on the floor. Amazing what a little anxiety reduction can do for your creative process.

Third, Bear's invested in a stack of cutting mats so each student can use one at their station. This is handy because students don't have to bring mats, which tend to warp in hot cars, from home, nor do they have to wait in line for one shared cutting table. Bear's also has a counter-height cutting table for those so inclined.

Fourth, Bear's installed a serious pressing station. Instead of two irons on an ironing board for a whole class to share, Bear's has a counter covered with heat proof pressing mats with multiple irons. There are at least four outlets and each outlet is on its own fuse. This is important because I recall IQF Chicago blowing the fuses at every ironing station in the conference center.

Fifth, they have a full-sized washing machine and dryer in addition to two deep work sinks. None of this "go rinse and dry this at home . . . I'm sure it will turn out great!"
This is the place to go for dyeing and long-arm quilting. They've also got a lot of 108" fabric for quilt backs at INSANELY good prices. But this isn't a shop with hours and hours of browsing potential. Still, they fill their niche perfectly.

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Monday, May 16, 2011

LQS Love: Sewing Party in Laguna Hills

Sewing Party, my favorite LQS for hip modern fabrics, recently moved into a larger space including this gorgeous new classroom. [Click on the picture to see it a bit larger]

Edited 5/16/2011 to add:
Their new address is 23561 Ridge Route Rd., Suite F, Laguna Hills, CA 92653.

The classroom has individual tables for each student, ergonomic chairs, plenty of design wall space, and the neat little feature pictured above. It's a rail for a room divider, so if more than one group wants to work in this GIGANTIC space at a time, they each have a bit of privacy. I can't wait to see this classroom in action when I attend Malka Dubrawsky's Color Your Cloth workshop there on Sunday, May 21st.

The owner has an excellent eye for color and fresh designs. As before the move, the shop is filled with gorgeous fabrics including quilting cottons, home dec, voile, woven wool felt, and even some laminated cottons.

She also keeps it stocked with notions to make bags and accessories in addition to quilts.

They've also added a sweet little kiddo play area, appropriately colorful in the Kaffe Fasset section.

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Saturday, May 7, 2011

Quilt Guild Blocks of the Month

May's Flying Geese Quilters Guild Block of the Month is a sawtooth star. Click here for a PDF with the instructions. As the instructions suggested I went to Quilter's Cache for the comprehensive tutorial on piecing flying geese.

I followed Quilter's Cache instructions for Speed Piecing Method B. Not my best work. Pretty challenging to get the geese blocks the correct size and to not cut off any points. As you can see, some of these outside points are going to be a challenge to not cut off.
And the crazy stuff I did to get this to come out even . . . well, I'm glad this one wasn't for the block exchange at guild because I would be embarrassed by the jacked up seam allowances on the back of this one. But in the end the inside points are good and the overall block size is correct. Also, the nice thing about following Quilter's Cache instructions for Speed Piecing Method B is that my directional background fabric (i.e., the mushroom print) stayed heads up without much effort on my part.
Last month I mistakenly attributed the gnome print to Heather Bailey for FreeSpirit. Actually the gnome print and this mushroom print are both by Heather Ross for FreeSpirit. The rest of the fabrics in this block and last month's block for my brother and sister-in-law is from Flea Market Fancy and Katie Jump Rope by Denyse Schmidt for FreeSpirit.

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Friday, April 22, 2011

Dynamic Dualism

This week the LACMA acquired a Peruvian textile (more specifically a Mantle or Hanging from Peru, Inka (1450–1532) or early colonial period (16th century)). The piece represents the cosmological principle of dynamic dualism in which "the universe was organized of contrasting but complementary opposites, and balance was attained by the interchange between the two."

At first glance it looks like your basic red and white one-patch quilt. Or a simple woven checkerboard. But it was created using a weaving method called discontinuous warp and weft which Kaye Spilker, Curator, Costume and Textiles, describes well.
Woven in a meticulous technique in which neither warps nor wefts extend across the entire cloth, the textile was created with “scaffold” threads (which were later removed) that formed a temporary grid upon which to weave each miniscule square, less than an inch in size, separately. The fabric was assembled by the process of interlocking the warps and wefts of each adjacent square—forming a single cloth from the sum of many parts. In the history of world textiles, the multifaceted technique of discontinuous warp and weft was practiced only in the Andes.
The post also includes a diagram of the weaving method.

The post relates the Inka textile to Agnes Martin's work. Its orthogonal design reminded me of Gerhard Richter's "1024 Farben" (1974) that I glanced in the New York Times this morning. But its color scheme reminded me of the red and white quilts exhibit everyone raved about.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Quilt Guild Blocks of the Month

I've resolved to participate in the Flying Geese Quilters Guild Block of the Month this round. The theme is "Sew many Geese to Piece!" They have pictures and instructions on the website.

This is my block to bring to guild. We're supposed to use beige as our background fabric. I hope this is sufficiently beige.

My plan is to make a second set of blocks for a sampler quilt I promised my brother and sister-in-law ages ago. Well, by the date of the release of that Heather Bailey for FreeSpirit gnome print I'd say it was about six years ago.

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Thursday, February 10, 2011

Art as a Function of Availablity of Raw Materials

Quilting more emblematically so than any other artistic medium is influenced by the availablity of raw materials. See, e.g., the Gee's Bend quilters' use of scraps of corduroy leftover from making pillows for Sears - those "gold", "avocado leaf", "tangerine," and "cherry red" colors in quilts by different quilters starting in 1973 are the same because they all had one source for scraps. (For more information see Lauren Whitley's piece "'Avocado Leaf' Corduroy, Remnants of the Seventies" in Gee's Bend: The Architecture of the Quilt by William Arnett, et al). So what is going to change about quilts today because of the increase in the price of raw cotton? One can read the news that quilting cotton fabric is going to go above $10 a yard and cry, "The sky is falling." But the real question is does it change what you make?

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Inherent Vice

One of the art blogs I frequent is Unframed, "a blog of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art intended to create a conversation about the art and artists of LACMA, Los Angeles, and Southern California." Usually there's not much quilt-y on Unframed, but yesterday they had a neat post about saving a red and green applique quilt, 'Oak Leaf and Reel' made between 1845 and 50 in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Along with the quilty goodness, I learned a new term, "inherent vice." No, that's not a description of my undying love of cupcakes. Here's how they used it:
The iron component of the black dye, used to create fine lines in a few of the red appliqu├ęs, has weakened the cotton fabric. The red sections have literally perforated and split—or, even worse, fallen out. This damage is no one’s fault. Conservators have a fancy word for it: inherent vice.
From Webster's we get the following definition:
A weakness in the chemical or physical composition of a document or other object that causes it to deteriorate from within over time, for example, acid in the lignin contained in papers made from untreated wood pulp, or the chemical instability of cellulose nitrate film. If conservation measures fail, preservation of the item may require reformatting.
It's also the title of a 2009 novel by Thomas Pynchon, which is sitting on our bookshelf, unread.
Exciting new terminology aside, in the close ups of the quilt you can make out the amazingly perfect way the deterioration of the fabric makes a sort of cutwork. Contemplate creating a quilt that decays in such a way that it becomes more beautiful and intricate over time.