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?
Mini quilts are such a wonderful way to try something new! I have made several over the past few years, participating in guild challenges, swaps and magazine submissions.
When I discovered Curated Quilts, I was immediately drawn to one of their features . Each issue has a challenge to make a mini quilt with a specific palette that fits a certain theme. Their second issue’s theme was “Log Cabin” and this was the palette.
You can go here to see all of the wonderful minis that were submitted. I love the log cabin block, so that wasn’t too much of a stretch for me, but the colors were definitely a different combo. I decided to explore some of the improv ideas that began in workshops with Maria Shell @talesofastitcher last summer. Here is the mini that I submitted and I was very excited to have it included in the magazine. If you haven’t seen a copy of Curated Quilts, yet, check it out! It is definitely a quality, no advertisement publication.
The past two years I have participated in the MQG swap and I love the #makeaminimakeafriend concept. Check out the hashtag on Instagram to see many of the quilts that were created and swapped.
A fun feature of this opportunity is that you have the option of swapping in person at QuiltCon. Last year in Savannah, I received a wonderful mini from Sandra Kaye @sandieloves2quilt . That mini started her on a whole new “Happy Dance” adventure and she made a larger version which won a big prize at QuiltCon 2018 in Pasadena!
This year I made “Confetti” for my new friend, Jules @julesquilts, who said she liked pink! You can see the design is a continuation of the ideas I used in Summer Cabin.
It was so fun to meet her in person. She made a beautiful mini for me using her hand dyed fabrics and it is quilted with her elegant stitches.
How grateful I am for these two new quilting friends! I love all the little quilts that I have received from friends over the years. They decorate our home and are daily reminders of our friendships.
Today I am working on a mini for the Bainbridge Island MQG’s annual challenge. The theme this year is “Log Cabin” and it is a good opportunity to finish up an idea that has been languishing on the design wall since last summer. (And it’s another project where I can practice my free motion quilting skills.)
Thanks for reading. I hope you have a mini (or two) in your future. They are small, but they might lead to something big!
How exciting it was to receive this book in the mail! Each day I spend a little time enjoying the quilts and thinking about their makers.
Modern Quilts: Designs of a New Century is a beautiful, hardcover book that celebrates modern quilting in the context of the Modern Quilt Guild. It was curated by Riane Menardi, Alissa Haight Carlton and Heather Grant. The retrospective includes over 200 quilts, a brief history of the modern quilt movement and descriptions of characteristics found in modern quilts.
Two of my quilts were selected for the book: Coral Reef and Trestle Nestle. It’s a bit of a thrill to have them included and to see them in the company of so many quilts I admire.
Coral Reef appeared at QuiltCon 2015 in Austin, the first major quilt show that I entered or attended. What a surprise it was to win the Quilting Excellence Award that year! All those lovely hours of hand quilting make this one of my all time favorite finishes. You can read the rest of the story about Coral Reef in this post.
The large format of the book allows the quilts to take center stage.
Trestle Nestle was selected to go to Savannah last year for QuiltCon East 2017. Improvisational piecing and hand quilting, my favorite techniques, are used in this quilt.
The motif was inspired by a local railroad trestle on a wonderful walking and cycling trail near my home. Here it is on Christmas day, decked out in its festive finery.
It has been so interesting to read the backstories of many of the quilts included in the book. Below you’ll find links to all the sites in case you’ve missed some along the way.
When you purchase directly from the MQG, 100% of the profits and royalties of your purchase benefit the Modern Quilt Guild, a non-profit 501(c)3.
This weekend I’ll be at a retreat with my friends from the Bainbridge Island MQG and I’ll be taking my copy of the book so they can enjoy it, too. I’d love to hear your comments and I’ll reply just as soon as I get back home.
In 2017, I decided to try another daily project. (I once tried the 100 day project, but only made it to Day 10…!) Inspired by some wonderful circle quilts by Sophie @lunalovequilts, I thought I could commit to creating one squircle a day for 365 days. I’d always wanted to try needleturn applique, so this seemed like a simple shape to practice that skill.
It was through Sophie that I also found the #quilty365 page on Instagram, and a little more research lead me to this post by Audrey of Quilty Folk.
I decided to make it scrappy, and since I have over 25 years of scraps, I tried not to duplicate any fabrics. It was very entertaining to pair up interesting and unlikely fabric combinations for each block. (The background squares were cut at 4 inches, and the squircles were made from a 2.5 inch square.)
Each month I sewed the blocks into nine patch blocks. I didn’t want to have all of them to assemble at the end of the year! When the small design wall was full, we made a larger design wall. Now I was able to lay out the blocks the full width of the quilt and I began to assemble the nine patches into rows. (Even though I wasn’t doing much manipulating of the blocks for design purposes, I needed to have the blocks up so I could see which fabrics had been used.)
For the most part, I completed a squircle a day. There were a couple of times that I got behind, like when I left my hand sewing kit in a hotel in Nebraska on our road trip to Paducah! But whenever I got off track, I tried to catch up as soon as possible.
My goal was to have the top assembled by midnight on New Year’s Eve and I am proud of myself for finishing with a few hours to spare! To make my layout (18 blocks x 21 blocks) work, I needed to make 13 extra squircles. That makes a total of 378 squircles x 2 background fabrics = 756 different scraps used. (Ooops, subtract 2 because a couple of duplicates sneaked in when I wasn’t looking!)
2018 brings an opportunity to do something new with squircles, so stay tuned to see version 2.0, using solids and pieced background blocks. So far, so good at completing a squircle a day in this new year.
Writing this post feels a bit like a plunge into icy water, but I’m going to break the ice and get back to blogging.
Laughably, my word of the year was “focus”, but my focus only lasted until February! So here goes with a review of my goals for 2017 and a plan for new beginnings in 2018.
Review of my 2017 goals
develop free motion quilting skills
learn to use the HQ Sweet Sixteen midarm
practice photography skills
attend lectures at QuiltCon East
It was a terrific year for learning.
January: A friend and I went to Road to California to take a couple of classes on free motion quilting from David Taylor. I practiced every day for almost two months. It was just beginning to be fun when I fell out of the habit. This will be a priority in 2018.
February: The lectures at Quiltcon East in Savannah were informative and I appreciate all those who share their experience and inspiration.
March: A trip to LaConner, Washington to view Gwen Marston’s wonderful exhibition was definitely inspirational!
July: Maria Shell (talesofastitcher) has a wonderful blog that I have followed for years. When I discovered that she would be teaching at Quilter’s Affair in Sisters, Oregon, I jumped at the chance to take some workshops. Her improv work is so unique and she is a gifted instructor. I finished a small piece that began in her workshop and I am contemplating how to use the new techniques in my own work.
September: At the AQS Fall Paducah show in Kentucky, I was privileged to attend a lecture by Maria Shell and learned more about her journey as an artist.
These were all wonderful experiences, but they may have contributed to my difficulty focusing. The creative part of my brain has been just dancing with possibilities!
exhibit at QuiltCon East
enter new venues
participate in SDA events
Two quilts exhibited at QuiltCon East in Savannah, “Trestle Nestle” and “jubilant”. It is an honor to have quilts selected and humbling to see them with all the creative work on display.
My quilt, “Hourglass Bedazzled” was a semi-finalist in the first Fall Paduchah show. We had always wanted to visit Kentucky, so my husband and I decided to take a long road trip. Our combined love of horses and quilts led us to so many interesting sights along the way. A highlight for me was visiting the International Quilt Study Center and Museum in Lincoln, Nebraska. There I had the privilege of attending a “Behind the Scenes” tour, and met the members of the Lincoln MQG and the regional SAQA group.
The Bainbridge MQG had a “Red, White and Blue” challenge to coincide with Bainbridge Island Fourth of July festivities.
Our local Surface Design Association group had two main exhibitions this year. These innovative artists are such an inspiration and they use fiber in so many unique ways.
The Port Gamble Fiber Festival and the North Olympic Fiber Arts Festival gave me an opportunity to exhibit and to sell my work. Each year I am inspired by the variety of textiles on display and by the innovative work of our local fiber artists.
limit vending to 2-3 major events per year
explore selling online
This year I was a vendor at two major events, but also at three smaller venues. I did not explore online sales, but I did begin selling at the Lamb Farm Kitchen Shoppe in Sequim.
dye new fabric
improvise a major piece
hand quilt a major piece
limit items to sell, providing time for personal art
keep a better record of finished projects
participate in my first mini swap, the 2016 MQG Modern Mini swap at QuiltCon East
Okay, here’s where all those classes, traveling and vending took their toll. I did not dye any fabric, or finish a major quilt. But by midnight tonight I will hopefully have finished the top for my “squircle a day, 365” project, which has really been fun. (I’ll share more about that in my next post.) I participated in the mini swap at QuiltCon, where I received a wonderful mini from Sandra Kaye @sandieloves2quilt.
post to Instagram and Facebook at least 2x per week
post to blog at least 2x per month
create some tutorials to share
I averaged posting to IG just over two times a week, but realized that posting to Facebook that often didn’t feel comfortable. This is only my fifth blog post. Yikes! And tutorials never materialized…
continue to create giving quilts
In February, I donated a couple of blocks to Quilts for Quebec, and I have two quilts finished and ready to donate in the new year.
schedule time to develop healthy habits
balance business and personal creating time
As discussed above…the struggle is real!
So here’s to the New Year and my goals for 2018. Many are the same, but I have cut back expectations in some areas to facilitate more production in the creating department!
Goals for 2018
Free motion quilting – Focus on regular practice
exhibit at QuiltCon Pasadena
enter new venues
participate in SDA events
limit vending to 1-2 major events per year
continue retail at Lamb Farm Kitchen Shoppe
start a new “squircle a day, 365” project, using solids and improv piecing this time around
improvise a major piece
hand quilt a major piece
limit items to sell, providing time for personal art
keep a record of finished projects
participate in my second mini swap, at QuiltCon West, Pasadena
submit mini challenges to Curated Quilts
post to Instagram at least 2x per week
post to Facebook at least 2x per month
post to blog at least once a month
schedule time to develop healthy habits
balance business and personal creating time
use my Quilter’s Planner more effectively this year to help organize and track my habits
You know how it is when you neglect something for so long that it is embarrassing to get started again? Since my last post featured snow, this one will be a quick recap on some spring activities and hopefully get me motivated to continue blogging on a more regular schedule!
The end of February brought a trip to Savannah and a wonderful time connecting with friends at QuiltCon East.
If you missed out on the fabulous quilts on display, Kristin Shields has provided a series of posts highlighting many of the amazing quilts. Check out her excellent recaps by category and enjoy her beautiful quilts, as well.
Besides viewing quilts, I was inspired by the many lectures I attended. It was a privilege to hear long time friend, Anna Boenish @quiltingqueerly share her creative journey and personal insights into leading an intentional life.
It was my first trip to Savannah and I enjoyed the architecture and riverside attractions in this historic city.
In April, quilting friend, Stan Green, had a solo exhibit at the Sequim Museum and Arts Center. It was a wonderful opportunity to see a retrospective of his beautiful work.
Spring colors get my creativity flowing and I enjoy watching the plants awake from winter.
If you follow @pennylanequilts over on Instagram, you can find photos of my quilting projects during the spring. Now that I have “broken the ice”over here in blog land, I’ll share details on some of those projects soon. Thanks for being patient with me. It is so hard to sit down at the computer when there are stitches to be sewn!
Our winters are mild, so snow days are a novelty. This week I took advantage of a sunny morning and a lovely, snowy backdrop to take a few quilt photos.
One of my goals for 2017 is to improve my photography skills. Of course, this means learning how to use editing software. I’m trying to check out some of those helpful tutorials in the process.
The photo pictured above was edited for Instagram using a mobile app.
This quilt was the last one I completed in 2016. It is my most complex quilt to date that uses improvisational piecing, and I hand dyed all of the fabrics. I don’t think I ever properly documented it, but a few photos appeared on Instagram during the months that it was in process.
On another note, QuiltCon is right around the corner! Our newspaper, the Sequim Gazette, was kind enough to write an article about the local quilters who will have quilts in Savannah. They even sent a photographer out to capture me in my own environment. Those of you who are curious and have bugged encouraged me to include photos of myself on this site, can check it out.
It is snowing again today, so I’m off to curl up with a cup of tea and some hand quilting. I’m on the home stretch quilting the mini for my partner in the MQG swap.
My goals for 2017 include learning how to free motion quilt, specifically on our Handi Quilter Sweet Sixteen machine.
A few years ago, a friend and I decided to purchase a used sit down midarm. Neither of us had much experience with free motion quilting, but we figured we would just jump in and learn on the new machine. For a few months we practiced, watched videos and quilted a few projects and quilts.
However, life “happened”, and our priorities shifted. My friend moved away for a year and I focused my energies on my walking foot, straight line quilting. The poor machine sat neglected and unused for about a year and a half. After awhile, I felt a bit intimidated about getting started again. Would I remember how to use the machine? Could I effectively adjust the tension? Was I willing and interested enough to begin practicing again?
Then we came across a notice from Road to California announcing that David Taylor would be teaching a couple of classes using HQ Sweet Sixteens. One class focused on finding your own tempo and rhythm for free motion quilting, and the other emphasized using a variety of threads , adjusting tension and choosing needle sizes. Just what we were looking for to ease us back into the process.
David’s classes were entertaining and informative. A series of exercises helped us practice techniques, and the Handi Quilter reps were there to assist with the machines. That quick trip to Ontario gave us helpful hints, experience and confidence to come home and get started again.
My goal is to spend at least a few minutes each day practicing and to start building muscle memory. It is one of the daily quilting tasks that I keep track of in The 2017 Quilter’s Planner to hold myself accountable. As an added bonus, each week the planner features a fmq motif to practice and Stephanie Palmer @latenightquilter is creating short videos to introduce the designs. I was super excited to see that she demonstrates using a HQ Sweet Sixteen!
Each day brings a new opportunity for practice, my confidence is growing and I am actually starting to have some fun in the process!
Stay tuned for progress reports. Now it’s time to go practice!