It’s been exactly a year since my last blog post on January 4, 2020. As much as I would like to fast forward to the present, I decided to document some of my projects from the past year. In future posts, I’ll give more details on some of the quilts which are still in progress.
In January, I began a 100 day project, creating one letter per day.
Over the course of the year, I participated in three swaps and created mini quilts using these little freeform “junction” blocks.
It was an honor to receive the “Quilting Excellence” award at QuiltCon 2020 in Austin. (To read more about “For the Love of Squircles” see my last post.)
“A Squircle a Day” went on a road trip to the southwest in late February, and was my hand quilting companion until its completion in August.
Many masks were donated to our community and given to keep friends and family safe.
A couple of patchwork baby quilts gave me the opportunity to practice some free motion quilting.
I participated in the “littledrunkmonday” sew along hosted by Leslie Jenison @leslietuckerjenison and Michele Muska @michelemuska making little “curvelets” using Jen Carlton-Bailly‘s @bettycrockerass templates. This is all hand pieced and is a long term project. The final size and shape is yet to be determined.
Since early March, we have spent all of our time on the farm with occasional trips to town for groceries and supplies. We are so grateful to have such a beautiful space to call home.
Also among my blessings are the people who encouraged, motivated, inspired and comforted me through the events of the past year. I am eternally grateful for your support and friendship.
Wishing you all peace, health and happiness in the year ahead.
First of all, I’d like to welcome the new readers to the blog since my last post. This quilt was largely responsible for my long absence! I am just adding a label and preparing to ship to Austin, so it is time to tell its story.
The quilt began as a daily project in January of 2018. After piecing my first squircle quilt using print fabric in 2017, I decided to repeat the process with solid fabrics. This time I pieced the background of each block before using needle turn applique to attach the squircle shapes. All of the fabrics came from my scrap bin, and were pieced and stitched randomly, with no particular design in mind.
At the end of the year, I had my 365 blocks plus the 13 extra to again bring my array to 18 x 21. Unlike the previous quilt that was assembled as I went along, this time I had 378 blocks to arrange on the design wall. Looking back through my photos, it looks like I arranged and rearranged them for over a month!
I began piecing the blocks just before heading to Nashville for QuiltCon and finished piecing mid-April.
By the middle of May, it was basted with a fluffy Hobbs Tuscany wool batting and an extra wide peppered cotton backing. I loved the way it felt once it was basted and couldn’t wait to start hand quilting!
Fortunately, I had stocked up on WonderFil Eleganza perle cotton #8 while I was at QuiltCon.
My goal was to have it completed by the December 2 deadline for submissions to QuiltCon 2020 in Austin. Here is my hoop on the first day of quilting.
After quilting for a few days, I estimated that I would need to quilt an average of three hours a day to make that deadline. That seemed doable! I worked on it steadily throughout the summer and tried to make up for lost time when I was away from home on other adventures.
By September, it became obvious that I had miscalculated, and I began quilting all day every day. This is not something I would recommend, as it takes a toll on the body. I tried to consistently take breaks, do hand and shoulder exercises, change chairs and positions which all helped to keep me stitching. I also listened to a LOT of audiobooks. There were many days when I abdicated all but the most pressing of daily responsiblities. And here is my hoop on the final day of quilting.
Late November found me trimming and attaching the binding. Trying to get good photos on gray, rainy days was a stressful part of the submission process. A goal for this year is to improve my photography set up.
My diligence paid off and the quilt submission was in before Thanksgiving…a new record for me! Many thanks to Audrey Esarey @cottonandbourbon for suggesting the name of the quilt to me. (She is a rising star in the modern quilt community…I highly recommend you check out her amazing work.)
It was so exciting to get the news that it was accepted to QuiltCon and I am looking forward to traveling to Austin again. Maybe I’ll see you there!
The summer adventures brought new experiences, challenges, skills…and awards!
In July, my husband and I traveled to Sisters, Oregon for Quilter’s Affair and the annual outdoor quilt show. We enjoyed a week of relaxing, camping, hiking, exploring and volunteering.
Our horse trailer (with bikes this time instead of horses) was our home base at the city’s Creekside campground. It is conveniently located to restaurants and we confess to starting each morning with a walk to the Sisters Bakery for coffee and a treat. I may have eaten a scone every morning and tried all the flavors. The marionberry was hard to beat!
I attended two classes. The first was with Jen Carlton Bailley making blocks with curved piecing using her acrylic templates. This was a totally new skill for me and Jen had lots of helpful hints for achieving accuracy.
In the other class with Sarah Fielke we created improvisational letters. Both of these classes really made me think! I haven’t had time to continue these explorations, but I hope to soon.
We volunteered to hang and take down quilts for the one day outdoor show. It takes lots of people to pull off this event!
The day following the show, the ladders were out again and we helped hang and take down Carolyn Friedlander’s quilts over at the Five Pines Lodge. She was the featured quilter and gave a lecture and guided tours along the peaceful paths. It was special seeing her wonderful quilts all together in this setting.
Upon returning home from Sisters, I finished the preparations for my lecture and hand quilting class up at the Whatcom Museum in Bellingham, Washington. These events were in conjunction with the Modern Quilts: Designs of the New Century exhibition at the museum which I wrote about in my last post. The museum staff was absolutely gracious and so supportive.
I admit to being nervous as this was my first foray into speaking and teaching, but I really enjoyed meeting new quilting friends, talking about quilts and sharing my love of hand quilting.
Look at these dedicated hand stitchers!
In August, I found time to focus on my own hand quilting. I have some show deadlines that will require daily stitching progress.
And speaking of shows… in August, my quilt “At the Junction” placed first in the Modern category at the American Quilter’s Society (AQS) Quiltweek show in Grand Rapids. (If you want to learn this quilt’s story, I wrote a post about it here.)
This week I learned that “At the Junction” had also placed first in the Modern Category at the AQS Fall Paducah show. What an honor and thrill! This contest has a unique feature. It takes the first place quilts from each of the fifteen categories and lets the public choose the top seven awards, including the $20,000 Best of Show. There was only a 24 hour voting period.
You can imagine the excitement when the results were posted and I learned my quilt had placed “4th Overall” and won a major award. (There may have been some happy dancing here on Penny Lane.) Many thanks to all of you who voted and supported this quilt! I am very grateful and would like to thank all the sponsors who make the awards possible.
If you are curious, the complete awards results are listed here. AQS also put the award ceremony with Victoria Findlay Wolfe on their QUILTTV YouTube channel if you’d like to see all of the award winners in each category as they are announced. For those unable to attend, it is a wonderful way to participate virtually. I am so inspired by all the wonderful quilts and the amazing attention to detail by these talented makers.
“At the Junction” will travel on to the AQS Charleston Quiltweek , September 25-27, for one more show before returning home.
After all the excitement, I am ready to get back in the studio to explore new ideas and focus on some hand stitching!
The opening reception was a preview party for members on May 31. I arrived early and enjoyed this wonderful showcase of quilts made by the Bellingham Modern Quilt Guild members lining the hallway of the Lightcatcher Building.
The reception was very well attended and I enjoyed meeting members of the Bellingham guild as well as the staff from the Whatcom and LaConner museums. The highlight was having my sister-in-law and niece join me for the festivities.
The exhibition includes 63 quilts from the book, Modern Quilting: Designs of the New Century. The gallery is spacious and beautiful. Just look at the reflections on the shiny floor!
These are just a few of the beauties on display. I hope you will have the opportunity to visit and see them all!
The Bellingham Modern Quilt guild has a display called Modern Twist and their minis showing modern interpretations of the sawtooth star block.
Ask a Quilter! Guild members are demonstrating techniques and answering questions each Saturday afternoon from 2:30-4:30 in the gallery.
There are also docent-led tours scheduled each week.
On June 8th, I made the trek up to Bellingham again to hear a panel discussion entitled Material Men Speak. Geoff Hamada, Scott Hansen, David Owen Hastings and Matt Macomber presented a sampling of their quilts and it was so interesting to hear them talk about their work. The event was held in the Old City Hall which is also part of the Whatcom Museum.
There is still lots of time to see the exhibition and participate in upcoming events. Luke Haynes will be at the museum on July 13-14 for a lecture and a workshop. (Rats! I’ll have to miss this one because I’ll be off having quilty fun in Sisters, Oregon.) But, I’ll be back later in the month. On July 27, from 2:00-3:00 I’ll be giving a lecture, “Modern with a Hint of Vintage”, in the Old City Hall rotunda. The presentation will include a slideshow and I’ll bring lots of quilts, too. The following day, July 28, from 10:00-2:00 I’ll share my passion for hand quilting in a workshop. We will learn about batting, needles, thread and ergonomics as well as ways to use hand quilting to enhance your work. This is suitable for any level of experience and I would love to have you join us!
What’s not to love about hand quilting?! It’s tactile, portable and you only need a few basic tools and supplies to get started.
I began hand quilting in the mid-90s because I had a quilt to finish. My sewing machine wasn’t adequate for piecing, let alone quilting, and I liked handwork. Besides, most of my mentors hand quilted. I loved the fact that I could visit while quilting at weekly gatherings with friends. And slowly, but surely, quilts would get finished.
The texture of hand quilting has always appealed to me. There is something about the process of manipulating that quilt sandwich as you pull your thread through it, that makes it so soft and drapey.
Sometimes, just adding a bit of hand quilting seems to make the quilt more personal.
A mini for a challenge is another good place to try some hand stitching without committing to a larger project.
The MQG has a travelling exhibition of quilts from the book. I am very excited that it is coming to the Whatcom Museum in Bellingham, Washington, June 1 – August 25, 2019. One of my quilts, Trestle Nestle, is included in the exhibit.
The Whatcom Museum has many events planned to coincide with the exhibition this summer, so if you are in the area, check out all their offerings. If you are interested in seeing more of my quilts or learning about hand quilting, I will be involved in two of the events:
When I first began quilting, many of my projects were baby gifts for family and friends. They remain one of my favorite items to make. I think the attraction lies in the fact that they are small and will get lots of use, so there is no pressure to be too fancy or difficult. For me, fun color combinations, simple piecing and quilting make them relaxing and satisfying projects. Here are two that I recently finished.
The first one is for my niece’s son. Dad is in the Navy, so I decided to go with a red, white and blue theme. I used my favorite design, a simple charm square quilt with a wonky star.
The charm squares came from a variety of different fabric lines and I supplemented with a few fabrics from stash.
Since this quilt had quite a few white fabrics in it, I used a Hobbs bleached, 100 per cent cotton batting.
It is quilted with straight lines half an inch from the seam lines using 40 wt Aurifil cotton thread. The star block was the perfect spot to add a bit of hand quilting with some 8 wt Wonderfil perle cotton.
For the label, I just folded a charm square in half diagonally and stitched it in with the binding. It is such a simple way to create a nice, durable label that will stand up to lots of washing.
Before gifting, I like to wash the quilt in a fragrance-free detergent so it is ready to use. This also allows me to make sure that there are no problems such as color bleeding and it removes the sizing since the charm squares are not prewashed before piecing.
The second quilt combines freeform plus blocks and charm squares. The plus blocks were made using the same method that I used in my “At the Junction” quilt, but this time I squared the blocks up to five inches to match the charm blocks.
It is quilted with a wavy grid using an aqua 40 wt Aurifil cotton thread and has Hobbs Heirloom 80/20 blend inside which gives a nice soft loft and drape.
I used visible stitches with perle cotton to do the hand side of the binding. Next time I am definitely going to attach the binding by machine to the back of the quilt so the hand stitches will show on the front. (Unless I forget, of course!)
After viewing many of Katie’s wonderful quilts using this block, we each came up with a plan and began creating strip sets.
After the strips were pieced, we cut blocks from each set.
Back home, I created a few more blocks and decided on a layout for my quilt.
After deciding to hand quilt, I gathered my perle cotton threads and began the lovely, SLOW process of adding texture to the quilt.
I tend to hand quilt in spurts, here and there when I have time. It is the perfect portable project. This quilt has traveled on long road trips and made an appearance at several events. Every stitch helps move the project along.
When the quilting was eventually finished, I decided to use yarn dyed linen for the binding. I tried something new (for me) and did some visible stitching to attach the binding on the back. It was fun to change thread colors as I went around the quilt using 8 wt perle cotton.
All it needed was a name and a label and just like that (lol), a finished quilt almost two years in the making.
Love this view with the sun shining through the layers. I think it looks downright psychedelic!
Now that this one is finished, I am free to start playing with those leftover triangles…
Our quilting community is so generous and supportive. I came home from QuiltCon 2019 in Nashville inspired and energized (well, after I recovered)! Two long-standing projects had been inching towards a finish, and both were completed this week. Hooray! I’ll share one quilt in this post and the other in a separate post soon.
The first quilt’s humble beginnings began more than four years ago as a way to get my multicolored print scraps under control. Amanda Jean who blogged at Crazy Mom Quilts wrote a post about her Scrap Vortex quilt in 2013 that inspired me. She also hosted a quilt along in 2015, so if you are interested there are lots of photos and instructions available. Occasionally, I would piece a slab or two, but the piecing was never high on my UFO priority list.
In January, I won an edge to edge quilting during an Instagram giveaway from Lilo Whitener-Fey with Trace Creek Quilting. Her company specializes in t-shirt and memory quilts, as well as longarm services. We decided to have her quilt a top and we would donate it to a charity.
I looked around for a top to finish and my scrap vortex came to mind. Lots of little scraps were used and I love to remember how each piece has been used in past projects. Of course, the quilt somehow didn’t diminish the scraps in the tub, but that seems to be the way with scrap quilts. The good news is I can make another one (or two or six)!
Lilo provided the batting and quilted the top with a pattern called Geometric Path. Her turnaround time was very quick, she communicated efficiently and I appreciate her generous donation of time, batting and even return shipping. Check out Trace Creek Quilting for pricing and details and follow her on Instagram and Facebook to learn more about their quilts and services. All I had to do was trim it up and attach a binding and label.
Since this quilt is so cheerful and has lots of prints, we decided to donate our joint project to Quilts for Cure. Their mission is to provide “quilts full of hope, love and smiles to kids fighting cancer”. I met organizer, HollyAnne Knight at a previous QuiltCon and have participated in her annual “Operation Smiley” project which is happening now. Maybe you would like to contribute, too? There are lots of ways you can help this organization. Donate a quilt, donate quilting or donate money to help pay for materials and shipping. My hope is to donate at least one quilt each year to their cause.
The quilt has been washed in a fragrance and dye-free detergent per instructions and will be mailed tomorrow. I sincerely hope it brings a bit of cheer to a child facing the challenges of cancer.
It’s February which means it’s almost time for QuiltCon, the Modern Quilt Guild’s annual show and convention. I thought I’d share the backstory of, “At the Junction”, which will be on display in Nashville.
Back in May, I took a Free-Form Blocks workshop from Sujata Shah at Quilted Strait. We explored Sujata’s method of cutting several layers of fabric to construct a variety of unique blocks. I was looking for some faster improv techniques, as well as to spending time with Sujata and her gorgeous, colorful quilts. Her book, Cultural Fusion Quilts: a Melting Pot of Piecing Traditions, is a wonderful resource if you want to learn more.
The first day I used a wide variety of solids to make some of the sample blocks. The second day I decided to limit the palette, thinking I would make a baby quilt out of the blocks I had created in class. (Apologies for the poor indoor lighting, but this is how my design wall looked at the end of the second day.)
However, the block that captured my attention was this one, so when I came home, I separated these out and they became the starting point of a new quilt.
(Not to worry…all those other blocks found their way into pillow covers, placemats and table runners and they gave me lots of free motion quilting practice, too!)
I decided to go with the primary colors and kept making blocks (they were rather addictive and I needed some improv therapy time). Before I knew it, the design wall was full. This was the end of September and I began to think it might be possible to make the QuiltCon entry deadline of November 30.
At this junction (see what I did there?) I needed to make a decision whether to square these blocks up before assembling or to do my usual freehand cutting and puzzling the units together. It had grown larger than any of my other improv pieces and I knew it would be a challenge, but my cheerleaders over on IG encouraged me to not take the easy road!
I pieced it in sections, adding a “safe zone” around the edges so that I wouldn’t lose any of the blocks when I trimmed up the finished top.
Of course, that became harder as the sections got bigger. The final few seams required crawling on the floor, all my cutting mats and some painter’s tape to hold the pieces in place. (In the bottom left corner is a laser square that was a valuable addition to my tool chest!)
By the middle of November, I had the top pieced, basted and ready to quilt. This was the largest quilt I have machine quilted and I had doubts about tackling it on my domestic machine. Originally I planned to quilt it about half an inch apart, but before I knew it, I started quilting much closer than that!
It was a lot of wrestling and wrangling, and some long hours at the machine. It took almost seventy hours to quilt and I used ten different colors of Aurifil 50 wt. The thread colors graduate and overlap from lighter to darker shades.
The dense quilting made blocking essential and the laser square was a big help during this step, too. Soon the binding was attached and all I needed was a sunny day for photos! Well, that didn’t happen, but I did get my entry submitted.
That looming deadline sure helped this quilt get finished! It was challenging and I spent way more time on the floor than was good for this old body, but it helped my skills evolve. I love this quilt and it really felt good to finish a large quilt…it’s been awhile.
I’m looking forward to attending QuiltCon, meeting up with friends and being inspired by all the modern quilts on display. Maybe I’ll see you there?