Thursday, February 26, 2015

Post Quiltcon Impressions II - Trends, Ideas, Reactions...

First, can I say that I'm so sad it's over!  I really really looked forward to it for two years and now its done and I just want to see it all again!  (Luckily I and my friends took many photos so we can revisit it any time we want.) So happy, really that there's going to be another one next year...and the year after that...Quiltcon is a happening, happy place!

In going through the exhibits, several things stuck out to me, trend-wise.  The first is: GREEN!  I saw more green on the wall than I've ever seen before.  I know Emerald was the Pantone color last year, and I guess more than a few people jumped on the leafy bandwagon.  It's funny, I was in a class with Anna Maria Horner and she shared her green fears, which I share.  I love nature, love trees, grass, flowers, but green is not a color I gravitate towards when creating.  Still, I adored so many of the green creations I saw it reminded me that I shouldn't be so afraid of it, and to be open to all color palettes cause you never know what might happen....  I may just have to open my heart to this year's Pantone color - that brown-y purple I call maroon (cause I'm an Aggie) but others call Marsala.  

Another trend I noticed this year was heavy, heavy quilting.  It has of course been the trend at the Houston Quilt Festival for years, ever since the Long Arms came in vogue, but this year it was also quite pronounced in the modern quilts as well, I thought.  As I'm sure everyone else does, I ooooh and ahhh over those amazingly beautiful quilting patterns - there are so many interesting and intricate ones, all I can say is WOW!   It definitely can add a great deal of dimension, interest and a certain feeling to a piece. There were a couple, in fact, that literally blew me away!  I also saw two examples of the most effective use of variegated thread that I've ever seen; an entirely new dimension was added to the pieces because of the variegation.  (I've shied away from it in the past, but it's something to keep in the old back pocket for further exploration, I think...) 

One more comment on the heavy quilting trend - and no hatin' here - I love it all!  I'm simply expressing my thoughts and observations, remember.  But I still feel like I have to say that I don't feel that heavy, dense quilting is always necessary, either.  (I think the people who juried quilts into the show agreed, because there were some less quilted pieces in the show, too, mine being one of them for full-disclosure's sake.)  Sometimes a piece makes a statement just through its piecing or fabric choice and the quilting is more just to keep the thing together and maybe add a little bit of anchoring to the design.  I say this not because I don't like to quilt, but because I guess in my mind, we're creating art and there's room for all kinds of art, including heavy quilting and less dense quilting.  Just because we have the ability to do it doesn't mean it's always called for.  I say this, I guess, because I think a lot about how I'm going to quilt my own pieces and often I feel the designs don't call for heavy quilting...I'm basically giving myself permission not to follow this trend if I don't feel it's right for a particular piece, I guess. That said, I'm totally all for it when it's right - it's sooo beautiful!

Another quilting trend I noticed that I really loved was the use of two small parallel lines, either around a shape, or snaking through a quilt.  Mini-echo quilting - Loved it!  Also heavily quilting around a shape to make it stand out, then no quilting at all in the shape - not trapunto, but a trapunto-like effect - very cool.  

Another big, big trend I noticed was the use of backgrounds that were printed, tonal, and/or pieced.  I thought it was so effective, really added so much depth in so many cases. Yes, we still use solid backgrounds in modern quilting, but a little change-o never hurts, either.  I think people will be following this trend for a long long time...I also really like the explorations of value and transparency that many people did - very challenging, really, and quite beautiful, too.  

I love that anything goes in modern quilting, from pixelated representations of that Cumberbatch cutie to super large oversized "blocks" to tiny little crazy-making pieces to curves, and then back to simple, straight-line piecing.  And fabric - solids, prints, combinations of both - even BATIKS!   And colors - from bright rainbow to pastels to neon to earthy tones, which I didn't see a great deal of at the last Quiltcon, to combinations of both. It's all, just so very


Please jump in and add to the discussion with ideas and trends you noticed here.  I love to look, but I also love to learn and all positive ideas and thoughts help...

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

WIP Wednesday - Finally! Back to Creating

Haven't had much time to work since I got back from Quiltcon.  I had a little time Monday but my machine is in repair so I'm using my old Janome, which is actually a decent machine, but small.

Today I only had a couple of hours and this is what I did:

This is the quilt top for the baby quilt for Ari, my exchange student's brother.  I really love it - those Zen Chic fabrics are so awesome.  I know they aren't new, but I still LOVE them.  I didn't want to have just a full quilt of hexies so I added some blank space and I'm really glad I did - it works.  I also decided I wanted to put minky on the back and OMG!  I had no idea there was so much fun minky out there.  I found some yellow and grey chevron minky that is perfect, can't wait for it to come in the mail.  I'm also looking forward to quilting it - I've gotten so many ideas from Quiltcon.  (I'll be sharing more impressions about Quiltcon on my next post, btw.)

The second project I've been working on this week is my "I don't have a name for it yet" quilt, which I've been working on for, like EVER.  It looks simple but it's been quite a challenge.  It does look just like the sketch, but I think I'm going to tweak it a some ideas today but I have to wait for a particular fabric to arrive in the mail first.

I actually have five extra blocks made so I'm going to make a table runner too.  Again, looking forward to quilting it - I got SO many ideas for quilting at the show.   

That's it for this week, but I have more more more ideas simmering in my brain and I want to get back to my tree, too.  

I think I'll make myself clean house tomorrow morning, though, before I dive wholeheartedly back into's amazing how quickly it gets dirty when we're all inside and home all day due to bad weather - UGH.  

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Post Quiltcon Impressions I - WOW. I mean WOW!

So I'm back at home post Quiltcon, having had to leave abruptly due to an unforeseen happenstance, (It's all good, though.) and I thought I would share my reactions, thoughts, and new discoveries.  

The exhibit was (as I knew it would be) thoroughly inspiring, joyful, and breathtaking.  There really is a buzz that comes from getting a glimpse into the imaginations of people who create.  It's actually exhausting to look at, I have to do it in doses because I literally feel like my head it going to explode from taking so much in.  After an hour or so i'm quilt-intoxicated and I feel like I cannot take any more in and properly appreciate it so I have to stop and let it process for a little while.  After some water and a friendly chit-chat with other brain-exhausted viewers, and maybe a little chocolate for an added boost,  I can go back to "ooing" and "ahhing" for another hour or so.   There is such a positive vibe that comes from an exhibit like this - you also soak up the joy and love that went into creating them.  It's a good, good thing is all I can say.

Of course we all have pieces that speak to us more than others, it's a matter of style, color, emotion, and artistic sensibility.  It's the same as in a museum - as you walk around you can hear people saying "What's so great about that one?" or "Why didn't that one win a prize?" or "Why DID that one win a prize?"  We're human, we can't help ourselves, we have opinions, and that's okay - I don't really think people are being mean-spirited, it's just that some things speak to them, and some don't.  

For me to have a piece hanging in the show was pretty humbling, because although I love the piece, I'm sure that others don't.  It's all good, because what I know for sure is that there's room in the world, especially the creative world, for all of it!   (I'll admit that I was sort of tempted to stand by my quilt anonymously and listen to people's reactions, but then I thought  "Nah - not necessary." ) I know there were probably some people who liked it and some who didn't and that's fine.  This is certain -  lot of positive energy went into making it. My biggest wish is that for even a moment when they look at it, some of that reflects back to the viewers, making them feel a little bubble of joy or gladness rise up inside.  That's my goal, anyway.

I certainly got that feeling myself - almost constantly as I walked from quilt to quilt.  I'm sure people thought I was nuts or a liar, because I loved and was amazed by it ALL!  Really, no faking.  I mean, I definitely gravitated more towards some than others, but overall I was blown away by pure unadulterated appreciation and beauty. That was the first time I visited the exhibit - I actually went through it three separate times, and would have again had I not had to leave unexpectedly.

The second time I went through the exhibit alone.  This time I was a little more scientific - I was looking closely at the pieces that really spoke to me, and then figuring out why I liked it so much, what specifically drew me to it, and what I could learn from it.  (I had to have about six chocolate/water breaks for that one - talk about exhausting!)  But I came away from it with a little better understanding of what makes me tick as an artist,  and in what directions I might go next, and of course, I'm sure many new ideas are cooking in my brain that I'm completely unaware of right now.  

The third time I went through the exhibit I was with my family - my husband, sister-in-law, and her daughter and husband.  It was a first quilt show for all of them, and I think it opened up a whole new world for them.   I don't think they had a clue what could be accomplished with bits of fabric, thread, a machine, and a lot of imagination.  We had a blast having a quilt-naming contest - we would each look at a piece and then come up with a name, decide whose was best and then look at the quilt's real name.  My niece Sara could quit her day job, we decided, and become a professional quilt-namer!   And the men did a pretty good job with them, too!  Sara says if I can't come up with a name for something I can text her a picture and she'll help me out anytime...

I thought it was a fabulous exhibit, and I'm sure that there are many more Quiltcon-worthy pieces out there that were either not chosen to be part of the show, or were not even entered.  (That's why I spend so much time reading blogs - people are sharing their beautiful creations every day - Awesome!)   Quiltcon, for me, serves as a reminder of why I create - recognition is great, and I share my creations all the time and I entered the contest, too,  but that's not my ultimate goal. There's just something inside me that wants to be expressed.  What really matters to me is the kind of joyful energy that goes into the creating in the moment, and what I really wish for is that the outcome reflects that. And I can say that whatever the reasons others have for sharing their wonderful creativity, I got that feeling in spades at this year's Quiltcon.  

For me, Quiltcon is a bunch of intense positivity (is that a word) coming together to create more joy in the world.  When something like that happens - we all win!  

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

WIP Wednesday - A Case of Quilting ADD

Yikes!  I'm getting ready to leave for Quiltcon today, my sister-in-law, her daughter and her husband are coming to visit and I'm working on three - yes I said three projects - currently.  

Which is so not like me. Usually I work on one project at a time, going from idea to piecing to quilting, because that's just how I do, but while I was working on the tree I got the idea for my second project, and then our exchange student's (Laila, from the Faroe Islands - v. cute girl btw) mother had a baby (yep, she's got a 17 year-old, a 13 year-old and a newborn, so she definitely deserves a quilt), so I started a baby quilt, and the next thing you know I've got three projects going; I'm doing laundry, trying to pack, clean the house, and get the guest house ready for visitors...

And the crazy thing is, all I really want to do is work on my projects!  I keep thinking "I won't be able to quilt for four days!  Is that even possible?"  I'm really looking forward to the show, but I'll be staying in Austin the entire time since I signed up to work morning shifts, so I will be away from my machine.  I almost feel like bringing it with me because I'm not sure I can stand to be away from it for so long.  However, I'm taking my over-worked machine in for maintenance while I'm gone - poor thing, I've been sewing the heck out of it for four years - it's seriously overdue for a rest, but still...I'm starting to think of it as an extension of my arms!  (I shudder to think of the withdrawal I'm going to have when I go to Europe for a month this summer....I think I'll need an intervention.)

Sooo. probably this little time away from my machine will be a good thing.  At least that's what I'm telling myself.   I am so looking forward to meeting all you people and to seeing the amazing creations, and of course, the vendors. It's going to be a fabric-feeling, people-meeting, quilt-ogling and shop-hopping quiltapalooza extravaganza!  

Anyway - here's a look at my design wall with parts of all three projects on it.  I am having so much fun working on all of them, it's hard to decide which one I want to do.  So if I have time today (which I probably won't but I will do it anyway) I'm going to work a little on each of them, just an hour or so apiece, so they won't feel neglected while I'm gone...

The light is kind of bad, but I'm kind of in a rush, so - I have a few more squares to finish on the circle quilt (of no name yet), I still have to sew the entire baby quilt together, which is in the middle.  (My friend Karen had a Layer Cake of Zen Chic Squares that she wasn't going to use! So the baby quilt is coming from that - I LOVE these fabrics - they are kind of funky, and the colors are perfect for a modern boy quilt, methinks.) And the tree, well lots more to do on that, but I am so loving it.  

So ta-ta for now, if you are going to be at Quiltcon, please come and say hello to me.  I'll be working at the registration desk every morning except Saturday.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Solid Solidarity What Can I Say? I'm Easy.

Just opened my bloglovin' this am to read about the solids lovefest started by Jenn from A Quarter Inch From the Edge.  I too, am solidly in the solids stand.  I admit to only just recently opening up to the word of prints, which, I'm learning, is also a fabulous planet to be on...

 but I think I dream in solids...

While I, like everyone else it seems, do have a deep love in my heart for the incredible psychadelic and deeply pleasing palette of Konas, I am an absolute, unapologetic fabric slut, because I love several other solids as well.  My first solid love is Cherrywood Fabrics.  I absolutely adore these sueded cottons for the rich colors, the soft feel, and their durability.  While they are more expensive, I can't help but feel that they are well worth it, and I'm obsessed their gradient bundles - I have spent a bundle myself on their gray to onyx bundle; it's my staple. I always seem to need different shades of grey, and they are just as sexy as the book - maybe more so, in my opinion.

Next there are the shot cottons from Oakshott Fabrics.  Oh the ecstasy that comes from the little glimpses of shimmery colors in these gorgeous, rich fabrics.  Of course they are also more expensive, but dammit, my quilts are WORTH it! (Or so I tell myself)

I'm all out of Konas at the moment as I've snipped them down to a few shreds so I'm sharing a bundle of Cherrywoods that I have left from a couple of different projects.

Now that I've realized how low I am on solids, I think I shall have to put them on my list to look for at Quiltcon...I'm counting the days - it is going to be so. much. fun!!!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

WIP My Latest Obsession

So all work has stopped on the tree.  Not because I don't love it - I do, but...

I got a new idea the other day, and I can't stop working on it.  I mean,  I am really having a difficult time doing anything else - I just want to get this piece perfect...And it's proving to be quilt a challenge.  But apparently I love a challenge... 

Here is the sketch:  

Looks simple enough, huh?  But wait, not so simple to make as to draw...note my question: How to construct?  

I got some fabric and started experimenting, putting the pieces together in different ways and I'm finally getting a technique down...but it really requires serious precision.  And I'm not known by myself for that...Still - I'm having so much fun with it!  

Here's what I have so far.  I have the block construction down, but I'm experimenting with the black sashing - I really want the yellow to cross.  I thought about constructing all the squares and then slicing through it for the yellow, but seriously, there's just too much potential for messing up.  So I haven't quite gotten that part down, but it's coming.  

Here are some squares on my design wall.  I'm making a bunch, and then I'm only going to use the perfect(est) ones...I'm still finding it a challenge to get the blue and red half circles perfectly matched as well.  

I've realized that the reason I'm so excited about this is precisely because it is a challenge, but also, I really like it, too.  Again, I think it's pretty versatile - one could really use lots of different colors and fabrics.  

And so far, very zen despite the challenges and difficulties with construction.  It might have to do with the weather...we are having seventy plus, sunny days in February right now - hard to beat!  I just hope the trees don't go thinking spring has sprung and start to bud out - it hasn't really.  I'm just enjoying the moment while it lasts. 

Already checked out some other WIPS, but will do more later.  Linking up with Let's BEE Social and maybe Freshly Pieced too.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Twisted Ribbon Rainbow Tutorial Part 3: The Finish

Here are the final instructions for the Twisted Ribbon Rainbow.  

At this point, you should have a square top.  All you have to do is add the white half-frame and the two outer rows for the side and bottom.  

Step 1:

Starch and iron the quilt top.  Since you've been sewing squares, it should be pretty square once you get it sewn together.  Measure along the side and cut one of the 2 1/2 inch strips to the same length and sew to side.

Step 2:

Measure along the bottom of the quilt, cut the second 2 1/2 inch strip to match and sew to the bottom.  You now have your half-frame and need to add the final rows. 

Step 3:

The following directions are for the two SIDE strips, going vertically along the edge of the quilt.  You will sew them vertically, meaning one under the other.  

Row 20 (Vertically) Remember, the boldface means it is a square.


Row 21 (Vertically) 


Step 4:

These directions are for the final two rows, running horizontally along the bottom.

Row 20 (Horizontally):


Row 21 (Horizontally)


Hooray!  You've now completed your quilt top.  You can sandwich and quilt as desired.  

I thought a lot about quilting.  There's a lot going on in this piece, so I just wanted the quilting to enhance the movement of the "twists" on the ribbons.  On the vertical twists, I made vertical lines, on the horizontal twists, I did slanted lines and I just quilted about a quarter inch around the squares.  I did stitch in the ditch on the white because I wanted the "ribbon" parts to stand out, but I did not do any other quiting on the white, except for the white half-frame, which I did in a triangular echo pattern.   Hopefully you can see the quilting on the picture below.  

Please share your finished quilts, especially if you used different materials and/or quilting.  And please let me know if you found any of my directions confusing - I really tried to be as clear as possible but there's always room for improvement.  

Thanks for following along.  Namaste to all of you.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Working Wednesday

Today I got to sew with two of my quilting buddies - and I actually got something done despite all our talking!  Here's what I'm working on this week:

Two new bags (Yes, I cannot stop with the bags!):

The pink one on the left is using those cute girl fabrics I got from my stash club.  I admit I never would have bought them myself, but I'm so glad I got them.  The one on the right is a little more funky, but I like it so much, I think I'm gong to make one for myself...can't make too many bags, can't have too many bags, in my opinion.

The second thing I have going this week is my tree.  I am in love with these aboriginal fabrics, especially the ones with the colored dots.  I mean, I want to dive in and swim in them!  I'm loving the look of this tree, but it's painstaking work, so I'm going slowly.  Still, I've been working on it since last week and I've gotten most of the trunk done.

I may have to do a couple more of this type of tree - I can see so many iterations of it - the possibilities are pretty endless.  It's funny that I've been wanting to do a tree for so long but haven't been able to think of how I wanted to do it - I mean for years I've wanted to do a tree but I just couldn't come up with an idea, and now I have several different ones (besides this one) all of a sudden!  I'm going to be making a forest of tree quilts, I think.  Which is good.  I like forests. 

Can't wait to check everyone else's WIPS - see y'all on the internet!