Monday, December 31, 2012

Last finish of the year

In the Garden
55" x 54"
Featuring "Chicopee" by Denyse Schmidt.

I really love DS quilting books, but (no haters, please) I have never felt her fabric lines were as strong.

But this line just got into my head.

I love the simple outline leaves in the acid green and tomato soup red, and the Voltage Dot (while a regurgitation of a vintage fabric) is a great blender. I guess it is the vibrancy of the colors as a whole that I respond to. (the orange, raspberry and lime really sparkle) A lesson, just because you don't seem to like something, don't rule it out!

In process on my design wall

The pattern is called "Hexagon Garden" from the Quilt Room and is such a fun pattern to make! (I ordered it as a pdf download) It is written as a 2 1/2" strip (jelly roll) pattern and goes together so easily. I added the inner border and made the outer border a bit wider. (Love those Kaffe dots on the edge!) The other tweak I had to make was to piece extra hexagons from my background fabric. The pattern called for a true "jelly roll" which would have 40 strips, this strip set had only 30 strips. But I had the fabric and like the offset look it achieved.

Adding borders

I FMQ-ed different designs in each hexagon, just for fun! It doesn't show up on the front, but it does on the back. I originally wanted to use black thread on the back, but I don't have the same size of black thread as I had of the beige I used on the front (50 wt.) so I couldn't get the tension right and kept seeing little black dots on the face. So I ended up using the same thread on both. (Affinity/Exquisite 50 wt Mercerized in a tan variegated).

One of my favorite motifs

So ends the 2012 quilting! I am looking forward to and planning new quilts for the coming year. Thank you for reading and for your comments. I wish all the best for you in 2013!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Wrapping up the 2012 FMQ Challenge

The Sewcalgal 2012 FMQ Challenge has been an amazing learning experience, produced by a remarkable blogger, sewcalgal!
She coordinated wonderful experts and awesome prizes all throughout the year. This experience has been like having a private lesson with FMQ experts each month! Sewcalgal introduced me to new FMQ heroes: Frances Moore, Donn Linn, Teri Lucas, Cindy Needham, Paula Reid, and Sarah Vedeler. She also provided new lessons from already favorites Diane Gaudinski, Ann Fahl, Leah Day, Angela Walters, Wendy Sheppard and Patsy Thompson.  There were also bonus tutorials offered by Susan Brubaker Knapp, Diane Loomis, Linda Moran as well as Teri Lucas. Each month there were also prizes awarded, I won in September, a DVD from Paula Reid, AWESOME!

 My 12 samples
Pledging to complete the challenge/lesson each month was a great motivator to improve my skills. I was challenged to step away from "my" style and try other methods and I am so grateful! My FMQ has gotten better, and I have gained confidence, as well as learning more ways to mark quilts, new stitch designs and receiving hints and tips for better quilting. 
I was also introduced to the other quilters participating in this challenge and have met great blog friends (who are amazing quilters! I am speaking to you, Quiltskipper!)

 Artsy perspective shot
To finish up the year, (and to be eligible for a Grand Prize!) we were challenged to show all our samples created, and it was suggested that we could create a sampler quilt with our 12 FMQ samples. I have seen several of these from other participants and they are wonderful.
Glamorous layout

Still, I know how I like to work, so instead of sewing them all together, I created 10" square samples for each month on plain muslin or solid light fabric and serged the edges. I wrote on each sample the month and expert to have an instant reference.


This way, I can pull out each sample when I need inspiration on what to FMQ on a quilt. I am also reminded of the expert and can look them up online for even more inspiration!  I have created similar samples of different battings, it makes a great tool I can use.

Many of the tutorials are still available, so if you want to improve your FMQ skills with amazing experts, check out sewcalgal! Be sure to check out the links of the participating quilters as well, great reference and eye candy.

December FMQ Challenge

The December FMQ expert is Patsy Thompson and she shared ideas and methods for designing FMQ borders, as well as showing how to stitch a gorgeous feather border. I followed instructions and sketched:

Then I prepared a sample quilt sandwich for stitching, marking a border area with my black Frixion pen and the center lines with my orange Frixion pen.

As I was watching her video, I made a momentous discovery: she stitched her feathers upside-down from how I had been trying to stitch mine! I turned my fabric around and gave it a try, and I was amazed at how much better my feather-petals looked!

I continued stitching as instructed, and I am so pleased at my feather border!

GREAT instruction and demonstration!

I even added some of the "hyper-quilting" to see how it would look.

An amazing lesson to wrap up the year!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Scraps at work #2-more fun with scraps

Another scrappy donation quilt! As I was sorting my 2.5" strips into color families, all the whites/beiges/tans looked so vintage together so I just put them up on my design wall.

I added a pale blue/grey mottle, also from the scraps and it was a nice variation on a rail fence.

But it seemed a bit, well, flat. And needed something flashy. So I went back to my color sorted strips and decided on a ROY G. BIV(ish) border. Love the look!

FMQ-ed in gentle loops and bound with a taupe floral from the scrap bin. Another donation quilt ready to go!

Scrappy strips
49" x 60"

I hope all of you are enjoying a wonderful Holiday with those you love. Since I am using up my remaining vacation days, I am grabbing some quality sewing time!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Scraps at work #1

Remember back in November when I organized my scraps? I have put them to use! Here is quilt #1 that I put together:

 Scrappy Triangles
47" x 41"

The scrappy parts used a bunch of my red and orange scraps with a touch of the yellow. The solid areas are made of some osnaburg cotton I had in my meager stash. The binding is beige dots from my scraps as well. The batting was a scrap from another project as well. I love using up my scraps!

FMQ-ed with a loose meander.

I have an equilateral triangle that I wanted to get comfortable using, and scraps are great for learning new skills. The osnaburg is quite inexpensive and I love the texture contrast. I was amazed at the ease with which this came together. This quilt is destined for donation.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

a stolen/borrowed picture

In our ornament/decor swap last night, I got this cutie:

Made, and photographed, by Sarah. Isn't he the cutest? She also makes amazing cupcakes and candies. It is all her fault I fell off my low-carb wagon last night and ate 4 of her chocolate/caramel goodies! I hang my head in shame, but they were delicious! And yes, my husband got the 2 I brought home!

Roxanne picked the item I brought, this table runner:
A detail shot:
I hope she enjoys it!

I made a pouch for Janet, but do not have a picture. I made it using the QuiltCon colors and a recessed zipper. This was a great swap and I stepped outside my zone and learned how to sew a recessed zipper!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

busy as a one-legged man in a room full of long tailed cats

Mixing metaphors is a fun little thing I do, but the past few weeks have been crazy.

My husband is 4 1/2 weeks post hip-replacement and doing well. My new boss is settling quite nicely into her mad travel schedule, but is making a welcome difference at work. My new co-worker is into her second week and is also a welcome addition in the office! Amazing what a change in personnel can do for the morale of an office.

Anyway, the whirlwind of December is upon me, and I am just going with it. Tonight was our Christmas party in the Triad Modern Quilt Guild. We enjoyed a Secret Santa gift-exchange and a zipper pouch swap. We also ate delightful treats and enjoyed each others company.

me with my pouch goodies!

The delightful, amazing and talented Lee, had my name in our pouch swap. I adore my pouch!!!! Check out her blog, she is a great designer and shares fantastic tutorials!

In my limited spare time, I have been working on a new quilt, using a 2 1/2" strip roll of Chicopee by Denyse Schmidt. This collection wormed its way into my brain, the cool color combos really sparkle and it inspired me to really stretch myself. Thus, I am working on this:

Can't wait for my winter vacation to be able to finish!

Anyway, as the Christmas season arrives, I feel very blessed with my guild and quilty friends. They add such a delight to my life!

Monday, December 10, 2012

My "Monolith" class

I taught my "Monolith" quilt this past Saturday at Sewingly Yours. I had 3 amazing students who made three beautiful, very different quilt tops. We laughed, talked, and sewed. We put the blocks on the design wall to move around and set the layout for best color distribution. Then I had them take a picture and look at their picture to see if they liked the layout. (That is a good way to see if you like the color layout.)

Here are their tops on the wall:

Katie chose a modern color palette using 2 shades of berry/purple as her background color. These shades really complemented the variety of prints she also used. I think it is a fun, fresh, contemporary quilt top!
Theresa is up next. She chose a group of mottled prints, Stonehenge, I believe. And when they came together, they reminded me of the 4 elements: earth, wind, fire and water.The effect of the colored blocks floating on the background was really striking once she got it up on the design wall.

April was inspired by my original quilt and chose the "Curious Nature" collection for her quilt. She also went with a gray blender, and made extra blocks to make her quilt larger for her son. I really love the way the gray made this quilt so elegant!

Thanks, Ladies, for such a fun Saturday!

Friday, December 7, 2012

....I have done a bit of quilting!

So I went back into the office this week. I had worked from home last week as my sweet husband is recovering from surgery.

Fortunately, the atmosphere at work is improving. And the work load is increasing, but the work is fun and creatively challenging.

The problem? My husband is rehabbing from hip replacement so most home things fall to me. And that eats into my quality sewing time! (I know it is temporary, and he is so much better with his new hip! He is also a very good patient, he just can not carry things with his walker or walking stick.)

I did start, and finish this wall hanging last week. Not having a commute gave me an extra hour and half every day, I used it wisely!

Here is my Swirled Tree:

29 1/2" by 34"
I found the pattern during my studio cleaning binge.
I used scraps for the swirls, fused them on, zigzagged the edges.

Then the FMQ! I wanted it to look like a winter storm, with the wind swirling snow around. I layered wool batting over cotton. The wool gives a lovely loft, with cotton to add body which helps it hang nicely.
It quilted like a dream!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

sweatshop tour, continued

I know you are riveted and excited to see more of my own little haven! Truly I may not have gorgeous, coordinated furnishings, but it is my haven and I love it!

The roof line and north-facing window mean the light is not the best. My husband and I painted the room bright white last winter to maximize the light. It was a taupey-gold color, which is grat for the rest of the house, but it meant this room had weird shadows and colors had a strange cast.

Under the right eave is the desk. This desk was built by my husband's grandfather and it has moved with us everywhere we have lived.

Here is a close up of the beauties at my desk.

The lovely art quilt was a gift from my friend Laura. She dyed the fabric and FMQ-ed it. It was a total surprise and I love it! The pillow was from our TMQG swap, made for me by my friend Colleen. I adore it! There is a small Ganesha that my dear friend/colleague Keshore brought to me from his home in India, next to that is a small picture of me in my Daddy's arms one Easter when I was a little girl. I am so inspired and comforted to be surrounded by the items of beauty!

In the other eave is my sewing/quilting station. I have my Sapphire on an Arrow Gidget II table, with an additional table behind and on the left side to hold mt quilts as I FMQ. This allows my machine to be recessed, with the needle approximately the same height as my table(s). This makes a huge difference in comfort while quilting!
I also set up my Feather weight on the left table to piece. I have a floor light from IKEA on the right of the machine, I like the brightness, but the light is a bit yellow. On the left side I have an Ott light I bought a few years ago at Lowes. It was a good deal and I wish I had bought 2! But alas, they did not restock them after the sold them.

On the wall behind you can see 2 gorgeous mini-quilts I received in swaps. The Swoon block was from my friend Sarah and she used my favorite blue/orange combination. The other mini was from the DS swap I was in this past summer. Gabriella did a beautiful job embroidering the quilting lady in the center block! The rolling drawer cabinet I lucked into at Big Lots a few years ago (Cheap #3). So handy, and it rolls anywhere I need it.

Beside the machine tables is another set of bookcases (I have 4 medium bookshelves from Target, $19 each, Cheap #4). The top has my antique spool holder (also made by my husband's grandfather) which hold my collection of wooden spools. I have my antique wooden yarn spools along with my button jars on that as well.

These shelves hold my dying supplies, scrapbook stuff, books and patterns. I found several pattern I had forgotten about, so they are on my list to use in the near future!

This picture looks sad. But it also looks like room to add more books! And I love quilting/craft/art books! The binders on the bottom shelf hold patterns and inspiration from magazines and the net. I love storing them this way, the only problem is that since I can't instantly see them, I forget they are there! Another good reason to take time for sorting/organizing.

 To finish up, I will leave you with this shot of my little pre-cuts basket. And you can see my battings in the corner.
I hope you have enjoyed this little tour!

Seriously, every person who enjoys creating, needs a room of their own to dedicate to their creative activities. I am glad I cleaned it up, but it is so liberating to be able to leave a project out while in process. I have run the gamut from sewing on the kitchen table, to taking the tiny bedroom, to this space. And my art/quilting is worth it!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Sweatshop tour, part 1

I spent part of the long weekend doing some long-awaited cleaning/sorting/organizing in my sweatshop. No, no "before" pictures! I do admire the gorgeous "done" studios I have seen, but I have opted for practical and thrifty for the time being.

Here is the view from the door:
 My sweatshop/studio is the "bonus" room over our garage. Great square footage, and while I love the roof-line ceiling, it makes arranging a bit of a challenge. Cheap #1: My Dad took our old kitchen table and added longer legs (and a shelf) to make my cutting table. Amazing how the extra height really makes a difference to my back.

On the right side of the door, is my design wall. Cheap #2: It is made of white flannel, which I pieced and tacked to the wall.
 The left side of the door: this corner features some neat artwork, a Scherenschnitte (cut paper) of a quilter, which was a gift from a friend; a cross stitch piece of a quilt that I purchased at a charity auction; and my autographed Heather Ross print.

Close up of the cute print:

Under the artwork is a short shelf: I keep my templates in a file holder on the top. I have my fat-quarters on this shelf, solids together, prints & batiks together, all arranged in ROY G. BIV color order. Besides being a very fun and therapeutic activity, this also shows me that I am drawn to the red and orange color families, with very few greens.
 Around the corner on a taller shelf are my yardage cuts on the second shelf, with projects bundled together on the top shelf.
This is it for my stash. I have seen much larger stashes (hoards!) but I have really tried to keep the buying to a minimum. I like having projects sorted and bundled together, makes it easy to move to the next one and gives me a new project to look forward to. Stay tuned for the next part (if you dare...)

Sunday, November 25, 2012

November FMQ challenge

Can you believe it is November already? And the end of November at that!
This month's FMQ tutorial was by Sarah Vedeler. I was not familiar with Sarah, but WOW! Her quilts are amazing!

The challenge was based on spirals (which I love).

I struggled trying to follow the lines, I guess my spirals want to be more free-spirited!
I used cotton batting, and Mettler 60 wt. cotton thread in my Top Stitch sz 90 needle.

A great tutorial, and an excellent introduction to another quilting Superstar!