Monday, June 5, 2017

2 Degrees Celsius

3 words (2 Degrees Celsius) and a story.

A very long time ago, our universe, and in it our planet became a reality. Echoes today whisper of tension, change, competition, famine, extinction, survival, cooperation, love, hate, war, peace. 

Fast forward a bit to January 2017 and this post. I encourage everyone who has the time, to listen to the embedded TED talk and to re-read the blog post for January's Resolution #beesewcial prompt. It's rather timely.

As the pieces of this quilt arrived in Denver from my friends,  and I began to assemble their blocks into a cohesive whole, this quilt became something more than I originally intended. You can certainly go to each #beesewcial quilters IG post and read about their blocks. Their stories are personal and profound. In their togetherness, however, the impact of each piece resonated.
 (rez-uh-neyt: verb 1. to produce a positive feeling, emotional response, or opinion). 

The addition of rather exceptional machine quilting (thanks to Christine Perrigo) and her nod to creative spaces, I took the time to meditate on the quilt as a whole, to construct a thoughtful binding and then to add hand stitches to the quilt that celebrates the process of coming together,  creative collaboration, and of love of our planet and our fellow (wo)man.

Title: 2 Degrees Celsius

70" x 66"
Bee Sewcial blocks by: Leanne Chahley, Karen Foster, Felicity Ronaghan, Marci Debetaz, Silvia Sutters, MR Charbonneau, Debbie Jeske, Anne Sullivan, Hillary Goodwin, and me.
Materials: Quilting cottons, t-shirt material, glass nano particle fabric and embroidery floss in an arctic color palette.
100% wool batting
Original quilting design by Christine Perrigo using Fil-Tec Glide, trilobal polyester thread. Additional hand stitching details using Sulky 12 wt cotton threads in complimentary colors.

Pieced, 2" SOG binding with embellished details.

Close-ups of additional details: details are purposely subtle and often hidden. This quilt, like our planet requires close inspection, and time to see everything worth seeing. 

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Bindings: Love 'em or Hate 'em

I seems to me that feelings around quilt bindings fall into broad 2 categories: people either love them or they hate them, and these deep feelings don't seem to be associated with whether bindings are attached by machine or by hand.
There have been some wonderful polls about how people attach bindings to their quilts. I fall squarely in the Team hand binding. If I'm attaching a binding to my quilt, I sew it to the quilt front by machine and finish it on the back, by hand using a blind hem stitch. I have evolved over time from a simple binding person to someone who gives as much thought to the binding as I do to the quilt design.  I LOVE this part of quilt making; let me tell you why.
I see the binding as the last bit of quilt design, a chance to sum up the totality of my work. It certainly isn't the last hand stitch that will grace my quilt, as the label and the hanging sleeve all require hand-stitching, but bindings allow for a bit of creativity that can have a big impact.
In my quilting career I have worked with both bias and straight of grain bindings, preferring a 2" straight of grain binding to all other. I ventured into traditional faced bindings and "skinny" faced bindings. I have embellished and quilted bindings (by machine and by hand), fussed over 2-sided matched bindings, and spent hours on intricately pieced bindings. The one thing all my bindings have in common is that I wait until I am completely done with my quilt before deciding on what kind of binding I will use. Sometimes the bindings are simple, other times they have taken all day to assemble.
I have been fortunate to received judges comments on the some of my quilt's bindings (always positive), validating, in some small way,  the amount of time I spend on them.
Below is a gallery of some of those bindings. Perhaps you'll find some inspiration in there for your next project.

Example: Color Blocked Binding cut 2" SOG (quilting by Christine Perrigo). In this quilt, this piece of turquoise was the only are of color that would touch the binding so it seemed more than appropriate to continue the color out into the binding. Because my bindings are cut at 2" they do not add to the overall measurements, keeping the proportion of the turquoise square the same.

Example: Inset binging cut 2" SOG, left photo used nano particle retroreflective fabric. These inset strips are less then 1/4" in width.
Inset seams bindings

Example: Pieced binding cut 2" SOG, pieced as I attached the binding for more precise placement)


Example: Quilted Binding (machine). After making the binding and folding it in half, it was heavily quilted using different colored threads. After quilting the binding is attached in the usual manner.

Example: Embellished/ quilted binding (hand). In both instances the hand work occurs after the binding is attached to the quilt. 

Example: 2-sided binding (also quilted). This quilt was a challenge in that the quilt was 2 sided, one side white the other black. It posed a problem for picking a color for the binding. The solution was a 2-sided quilted binding. The thread on the black fabric is metallic and standard cotton on the white side.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Threads of Resistance

If you haven't heard...... there's resistance going on. Marches and protests, and quilts. Threads of Resistance is looking for quilts and I answered the call. Still have to wait until June to find out if my quilt makes it in, but I felt it was important to make, either way.

Title: "Nothing would be what it is. Everything would be what it isn't." Lewis Carroll (Alice in Wonderland).

I don't often include an Artist's statement but in this case, it's important. Also, because I put out a call for help with naming the quilt and many of you on IG answered that call. So many of the suggestions were very clever and clearly the result of a talented group of insightful individuals. I loved so many of them I couldn't pick just one, but they all got me thinking and many of your suggestions helped me compose my artists statement.

"Designed in a simple style, this quilt's message is anything but childish and on closer inspection, everything is "knot" as it seems. As the slow drip of information continues to be discovered, Russian meddling into the bedrock democracy of the United States become more apparent. As the slow drip of information is collected and analyzed (often in secret), a dark cloud looms over us all, casting a long shadow. The initials "USA" are made from thousands of french knots reminiscent of the raised letters of a varsity/collegiate "letter", a symbol of achievement. But those letters are shadowed by another set of letters, both separate and intertwined. As more information becomes apparent the letters become more defined, like a political game of hangman, but with much higher stakes.

After reading the artists statement to my son (the quilting environmental engineer), he said it reminded him of the Mad Hatter from Alice in Wonderland. He sent me a quote that he thought summed it all up. Unfortunately, the entire quote was too long for the quilt title. Due to space limitations it was shortened slightly and seemed in the end, exceedingly apropos. Those of you that offered covert, punny and exceedingly clever suggestions might see your influence in the artists statement and I thank you from the bottom on my heart for that. For a simple quilt, there is a lot going on, and nearly all of you got something that I hoped would be "seen" with close inspection.

More details:
23" x 23" (letters USA= 5.5" tall)

100% quilting cottons front and back without attribution in case we differ in our views on Russian meddling.
100% cotton batting remnant
2" SOB color  matched binding.

Simple echo quilting surrounding the cloud with color matched thread (again, manufacturers names withheld). Ghost FBI/CIA in the cloud. Russia spelled out in a combination of ghost and french knot letters, hiding Russia and emphasizing USA.

Detail hand stitching rain with drops (french knots) in color matched embroidery floss. Red and blue variegated embroidered letters with thousands and thousands of french knots. Photos show full letter and detail of the french knots. It's hard to tell from the photos but the texture and dimension is remarkable. No lie- it took forever, way longer than I anticipated, but now that's complete, I love it.

If the quilt makes it into the show the opening reception is in my home town of Lowell, MA at the New England Quilt Museum. That's an opening reception I wouldn't want to miss. Fingers crossed.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Mad for Solids: VOTE!!

Today is my day......

Go vote for your favorite paint Brush Studios Mad for Solids bundle.
Here is a reminder:
"Colorado Spring"
Click here to vote:
on IG
on Inspired by Fabric blog: here

There are prizes to be won, but only if you VOTE!!!!!


Friday, March 24, 2017

Colorado Spring and March Madness (Quilter's Version)

It's that time of the year again and this is by far the best March Madness event out there (sorry NCAA).  Sponsored by Paint Brush Studios and featuring their Painter's Palette solids , this years 2017 Mad for Solids bracket features 16 quilters going head to head in what will be a fun event for everyone.

And there are prizes. Fabric prizes. Every day from Monday, March 27- Thursday, April 6th you can vote (via their blog link above or on IG) for your favorite 8-color fabric bundle. The winners of each day progress all the way to the championship pairing. All voters in the championship game will be entered to win 1/4 yard cuts of the winning bundle (that's 2 yards of fabric!!!!).

Here is my bundle called "Colorado Spring". I chose these 8 colors, (from a gorgeous collection of 168 options), as a reminder after a dry and mostly brown winter, these colors represent  little purple crocus and the tiny yellow green leaf buds all pictured against the vast blue Colorado sky.

Voting for my bundle starts on Thursday, March 30, 2017. I'd love your vote!

Blog voting:
IG voting: @paintbrushstudio

Friday, March 17, 2017

Don't Tread on Me

Looking and seeing.

January's Mighty Lucky Quilting Clubs lesson from Amy Friend (during quiet time) was "Transforming Inspiration into Original Designs.  That month's challenge coincided with a resolution I made to both participate and teach ( December, 2017) while really stretching myself to incorporate one or more pre-set challenge into any given project.

The arrival of my fabric-dream-come-true, compliments of Paintbrush Studios, lead me to a startling intersection. That although I was intimately familiar with many details of my house (I did help in the remodel 10 years ago), there are things that I look at every day but don't actually "see". 

Case in point: my back door mat. Understated in teak, and exceedingly functional, I have tread on this mat several times a day for YEARS. It wasn't until after I had read Amy's lesson that I actually "saw" the doormat. 

And what I saw got me thinking....  we surround ourselves with things we like. We may know exactly why we like something, be it's style, or it's color or it's functionality. But sometimes we just like it, no other explanation needed.  Many of us avoid things that are unappealing but are not always successful for valid reasons- I mean even I have wedding crystal and a vase or 10 that I'm not crazy about. But not counting the ugly crystal,  most of us crave things that speak to us, that make a connection, recognized or unconscious. Seeing this door mat now, after discovering things about me as a quilter makes me smile. Although there are 2 rather obvious places that wood is absent, the construction centers around 3 columns. (I'm a HUGE fan of odd numbers, and if you count the non-columns, then 5 vertical features, another odd number). It's rectangular rather than square and looks good in either orientation (horizontal or vertical). It retains some symmetry but isn't equally symmetrical. The aesthetic lends itself either to uniform linear repetition OR irregular linear representation, (varying linear aspects -the quilt interpretation). That's just good design.

Meet: "Don't Tread on Me"
55.5" by 65.5" quilt made with 15 different Painters Palette solids and inspired by a humble door mat.

The linear aspect carries over but I varied the width of all the vertical lines cutting them randomly in different thicknesses. The contrast between the warm and cool tones mimic the open spaces in the door mat. The colors of course, as sheer fun.

Fabrics: All Paintbrush Studio Painters Palette solids in: Yarrow and Frolic (continuous horizontal aspect). Warms: Tangerine, Burnt Orange, Raspberry, Poppy Red, Bittersweet, Crimson, Tomato. Cools: Teal, Poseidon, Gulf Stream, Cyan, Pale Aqua, Aruba.

Backing fabrics: Frolic, Yarrow and Raspberry (solids) combine with Anna Maria Horner Good Folks and Tula Pink Parisville. Hanging sleeve stash fabric.

Threads: color coordinated but varying in weight (28-50 wt) and composition: 100% cotton, poly cotton and 100% poly.

Batting: 100% cotton
Pin basted 

Quilting: dense color coordinated vertical matchstick quilting with over a dozen different threads from caring manufacturers (Aurifil, Mettler, Marathon)

Binding: 2" SOG in Yarrow, hand sewn on back

Signed and labeled:

Lesson learned: Inspiration is everywhere even in the humblest of things.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Flight Plan

Baby quilt- "Flight Plan", 

is a version of the "Flight Plath" baby quilt made in early 2016 for Nathalie. 

The general improv curved pricing is the similar, the colors and the proportions of the 3 sections are different.  By changing up small but distinct aspects of the quilt, each becomes an original version of a cohesive design set. On one quilt I added boarders, on the other I left them off. Nathalie chose to  hang hers rotated 90 degrees.

The quilting on this piece is different, horizontal matchstick quilting with color matching threads except in one section where the thread color changes to match the yellow-green portion of the quilt.

The Details:

Flight Plan (Flight Path variation No. 2)
36" x 38"
Fabric: All Paintbrush Studio Painter's Palette Solids, top to bottom (using the quilt for reference). Pale Silver and Lemon Ice, Haze and Frolic, Abyss and Wasabi.

Backing fabric: all stash: Anna Maria Horner Good Folks, lime and white large scale print.

Thread: Aurifil 28wt 100% cotton 2615, 5008, 5015 and Coats and Clark in Marine Blue.
Binding 2" SOG in Abyss
Batting:Hobbs 80/20 Cotton poly.
Quilting: Matchstick with color matched threads.

This current version of the Flight Path quilt is one of my #minimalseamquilt series. The quilt top was constructed with just 8 seams; 3 curved and 5 straight.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

The Wholehearted Block

I give you my heart, treat it kindly..........

The 3 seam #wholeheartedblock Tutorial, from my heart to your hands.

This heart can be made to whatever size you need requiring only 3 seams in its construction. It is suitable for use with solids and prints.

What you will need:
background fabric
fabric for your heart
sewing machine and 1/4" foot
thread for piecing and thread for quilting
iron and ironing board
sharp scissors
glue for basting
batting and backing, or whatever additional supplies you need to complete your heart project.

Choose your background fabric cutting it a inch or so bigger than your desired finished measurements.

Cut your background fabric (in half; in thirds) length-wise where you want to have your heart reside. (I chose a 9 x 8" of fabric for my project and cut it (almost) in half. I used scissors to accomplish this since the fabric piece was small. A rotary cutter and mat work well for larger pieces.

This next step can be accomplished one of several ways. You can be a bit spontaneous, like me, and put both pieces of background fabric right-sides together and cut a free-form heart with a sharp pair of scissors. You can also, using your favorite marking implement, draw a heart, or you can trace a heart if that's your comfort level. Cutting free-hand reminds me of grade school, when about this time of year, and before the commercial availability of Valentine greeting cards for school aged children, we folded colored construction paper in half and went to town with safety scissors. Harkening back to those times of creative freedom, I cut my heart halves freehand. It felt good. Go ahead try it.

Lay your cut background fabric side my side and admire your cutting skills. Adjust if necessary. (By cutting both halves of the fabric at the same time, you get mirror images of you heart halves.

Using your sharp scissors, cut little notches around the curved top halves of one of your 1/2 hearts. Keep those snips small and closely spaced together. Repeat on the other side.

Using a hot iron and working on the wrong-side of the fabric, fold and press along the clipped edge.

Here is where the magic happens. I strive to keep the pressed fold at around 1/4", but have allowed for some variability. These are improv pieced at heart, embracing that, I have allowed for each heart, to be unique, like us.

Repeat on other side.

Flip over and spritzing lightly (starch works great here, but any pressing agent, even water will suffice), press flat.

Gently lift the pressed heart cutouts and lay then on top of your heart fabric. Press again, making sure all the previously clipped and pressed seams are to the back.

Using your basting glue, gently lift a segment of the background (light colored in this picture) fabric and apply small dots of glue at the clipped edge. Keep the glue on the folded pressed sections. Lay back down on your heart fabric, press until dry. I find doing this in sections keeps all the fabrics flat. Repeat on other side.

Working carefully from the back clip heart fabric to edge of background fabric, both sides. Press again.

Depending on how dramatic your cut curves are, you may need to gently clip your hearts again. Use your previous clips as a guided clip if necessary, press again.

Now you have your 2 1/2's glue-basted and ready to be sewn.Don't worry about trimming center seams at this point. Trust me on this.

At your sewing machine, and using your 1/4" foot,  sew along the outsides of your hearts halves using the crease created by pressing as your seam guide. Sew slowly all the way around your heart halves, stopping and making adjustments at the curves as needed.  The smaller the hearts, the slower the going.

Take both sewn heart halves to the ironing board and gently press, then spritz and press flat. Even with great care, the block halves will need some trimming before the next step.  So off to the cutting board to trim the center seam allowance only. (We'll deal with squaring up later).

Sew center seam,  matching as closely as possible top and bottom sections of your heart.

Press sewn seam open, spritz if necessary. Admire your work.

Now that your heart is complete, you can decide it's fate. Oh, the irony......

If your quilting your heart, I suggest you do so before trimming the "block" as things will move a bit.

If you hand cut your hearts, no two will be alike, just like each of us.

Finish your block as desired. I bound mine, it is a mini quilt for a special Valentine.

Share the love; if you make a heart please post a photo on IG and tag me @spontaneousthreads and your project #wholeheartedblock

Fabric used in this project is a selection of solids from the Painter's Palette line by Paintbrush Studio, a division of Fabri-Quilt.