After seeing all of the temperature quilts appearing on Instagram, I couldn’t resist joining in on the fun. I love these daily projects that slowly accumulate over the course of a year. Both of my squircle quilts were made in this fashion.
Our weather is rather mild here in Sequim, so when I made my key, I chose to do 3 degree intervals except for our most frequent range where I used 2 degree intervals. Despite living in Western Washington, our weather is drier due to the rain shadow effect from the Olympic Mountains. A neighborhood weather station on Weather Underground gave me a very local source of data. Each morning, my husband recorded the data for me, making it a collaborative effort.
I used my quarter circle templates from Jen Carlton Bailly for the daily units. The convex shape represents the highs, the concave the lows and the smaller curve shows the amount of precipitation. I traced all of the shapes, cut them out with scissors and pieced them by hand. To provide movement to the design, the blocks are rotated based on their relationship to the previous day’s high temperature.
A calendar layout makes it easy to find specific dates. The blocks were assembled by machine each month allowing me to take them down and free up space on the design wall. On January 1st, I had all the blocks assembled.
And then it stalled. I couldn’t decided where to put the key, how to do the borders, etc. Finally this weekend I dedicated some time to do the work I’d been avoiding and I now have a finished top!
Postscript: I had a lot of scraps from the concave pieces that were just the right size to do a smaller version for 2022. I’m using the same rules as last year without the precipitation component. These units finish at one inch and are pretty cute if I do say so myself. Here’s a photo for size comparison.
The quilt I’m sharing today is very different from Tiny Bubbles, in style, technique and process. I’m thrilled to announce that it is also headed to QuiltCon in Phoenix next month.
Crevices began in a virtual workshop with Maria Shell @talesofastitcher which focused on freehand curve and circle techniques. The class was a sampler, but I was particularly intrigued by a technique Maria calls “braided curves”. I pieced a lot of these rectangular units using a controlled palette and began the task of creating a composition.
After about a month of manipulations on the design wall, I decided to edit out many of the units. As I worked, an image of light streaming into a canyon emerged in my mind.
Representational art is not my style and I struggled with how to create the abstract feeling of sunlight on geological structures without it becoming too literal. The palette also felt constrained, so I began adding in new shades as I pieced in additional curvy lines. This exercised my brain in such a good way!
Thread basting is my preference when hand quilting because I don’t like to snag my thread on pins.
The large, curved spaces invited me to add texture by hand quilting. It was so relaxing to stitch these wavy lines using a variety of perle cotton threads.
Originally, I had planned a faced edge, but in the end I decided to go with a pastel binding. I like the way it frames the piece, bringing the lighter shades from the center of the quilt out to the edges. (In real life, the binding is much straighter than the photo would suggest, I promise!)
And what did I do with all the pieces that were edited out of this composition? I created another quilt.
Placing the strips in a horizontal orientation, images of mountains, streams and valleys emerged. For this piece, I challenged myself to work quickly and intuitively, restricting myself to using the leftovers from Crevices. Meander is the result.
Improving my free motion quilting skills is an ongoing goal of mine. I explored some organic filler designs and used many motifs from Christina Cameli‘s book, Step-by-Step Texture Quilting. Lots of thread changes and adjusting the motifs to fit the shapes took all of my concentration. About half way through, it was beginning to feel flat and stiff from all the dense quilting. Adding in sections of hand stitches softened the texture.
And what did I do with the leftovers? I still had lots of odd bits that I was determined not to add to the scrap bins, so potholders to the rescue! I donated these to the Friends of the International Quilt Museum to sell in the gift shop as a fundraiser.
Whenever I take a technique workshop, I feel that it shakes things up in my studio. Since I rarely use strip piecing techniques, creating these large units initially felt very quick and satisfying. However, I found it challenging to shape them into compositions. Every quilt teaches me something new!
It’s been just over a year since my last post and there are a few projects I would like to document here. First up is Tiny Bubbles which began in August 2020 with a sew along hosted by Leslie Tucker Jenison and Michele Muska. We used Jen Carlton Bailly‘s smallest template to create tiny quarter circle units which Jen calls “curvelets”. Each unit finishes at one inch.
With no plan in mind, I liked the idea of hand piecing little blocks from my overflowing scrap bin. (Note to self: if you want to use up scraps, making little units is not a terribly efficient way to do so!) It was the first summer of the pandemic and I enjoyed tuning into the weekly Instagram Live chats with Leslie and Michelle. My process was to make a few units each day, watching them accumulate on the design wall.
At the end of the sew along, I began piecing the curvelets into 4 1/2 inch blocks, forming four circles made up of 16 units. I decided to assemble by machine because I’m not THAT crazy and I still wanted to see how large I could make the final piece before losing interest.
As you can see from this photo, there is some serious shrinkage going on here. The assembly required lots of pinning and careful piecing. Each day I continued to add more curvelets to the collection.
Life continued on in this way until June, 2021, when Jenn McMillan hosted the #100daysummersewalong to encourage any handwork project. I decided to participate and add one 4 1/2″ block a day consisting of four 2 1/2″ quarter circle units. During this time, I continued to assemble the smaller units into blocks.
One morning I came into the studio and the wind had blown over my portable design wall. My friend, Sarah Hibbert @quiltscornerstone thought it looked like they were trying to say something. I decided to put them back on the board and spelled out this “HELP” message. (It’s been a long two years of trying to entertain myself, what can I say?!)
At the end of the summer I decided it was time to reassess and come up with a plan. Looking back at my photos, it looks like I rearranged and added more blocks for about a month before I actually completed the top. Those poor little blocks were about worn out from all the action!
Basting time! I used a gray peppered cotton for the backing which is nice for allowing the quilting to show.
A straight line grid was quilted using the walking foot on my domestic machine. Then I hand quilted around the larger units using perle cotton thread.
Tiny Bubbles was accepted into QuiltCon 2022 in Phoenix and I am happy that people will be able to see it in person to appreciate the scale of the small units. This is the description that I sent with my entry:
Quilted during the pandemic, these tiny bubbles kept me occupied while isolated in my own small bubble. All of the quarter circles were traced from templates, cut with scissors and pieced by hand. The curved units were then assembled by machine.
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!
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…
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!