Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas- Happy Holidays

                                                             ***Merry Christmas***
                                                             ***Happy Holidays***
                                                                ***Good Cheer***

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Holiday Sewing, Kitchen addition

Most of my friends love to cook. I love sewing for their kitchens. This year I made cloth napkins,  cocktail napkins, placemats, shopping totes and trivets. My favorite project, however, turned out to be bowl covers.

I used a great tutorial  and made a few changes.  Instead of using fabric on both sides of the bowl covers as suggested, I used PUL (poly urethane laminate).

That way if any food, or in my case bread dough, gets stuck to the inside of the bowl cover, it's easily wiped off. Plus, if you are a bread baker, you don't want your dough to dry out while it is rising, and the PUL provides a nice barrier against food drying out. Also, since you can't really iron PUL,  I skipped the ironing steps in the tutorial and hand turned the final hem closure which worked out just fine.

 These are all machine washable, line dry. A set of three seems to be just right to cover most kitchen needs. (The largest bowl cover featured uses a fat quarter of fabric. I had some fun, retro print fabrics and they were perfect for this project). Bon appetit!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Sewing for the men in your life

I'm lucky to have the opportunity to have several special young men in my life. I've sewn for them since they were little. But, they're getting older and heading out on their own. This year instead of flannel pajama bottoms, or a cozy fleece top,  how about a little something for a new apartment……

Front- love how the wood grain in my Eames chair matches the pillow fabric.

The Details:
"Worth a Buck"
18 x 18" (fits a 20" pillow form nicely)
Charcoal linen and Joel Dewberry wood grain fabric in 100% cotton.
Raw edge appliqué, stitched with Aurifil off white (#2021), 100% Mako cotton 50 wt thread.
Fusible batting on the front and back panels.
Zipper from Zippit in gray.
Deer Silhouette pattern from: Sew Home Grown

There is still time before Christmas to get a pillow done, it only takes a few hours, so get going!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Channeling my inner Jacquie- theme and variations, aka, part two

Theme (dramatic music playing in the background)
 Jacquie Gering at the FRMQG improv piecing class

Inspiration block from her quilt top

Variation 1.0

The back of my finished improv pieced quilt with a variation of Jacquie's block. Story here and here.

Variation of Jacquie's block, close-up, version 1.0
Variation 2.0
Quilt back, variation 2.0 block to the right.
Close-up of inspirational quilt block, variation 2.0
The printed fabrics were chosen based on the colors of the solids used in the front of the quilt (red, gray, blue).

Back of quilt photographed in sharp contrast to "show-off" the overall quilting.
Aurifil thread (2024) white, 100% Mako cotton was used in the bobbin for the entire back.

Close-up back of quilt

Details continued:
Backing: 100% cotton fabrics, various prints in a red/blue/gray color pallet to compliment quilt front.
Thread: Aurifil, 100% Mako cotton, 50 wt, white (#2024)- bobbin
Pieced: Stephanie Z. Ruyle; designs inspired by Jacquie Gering (quilt block variation) and her slice and dice technique, from Quilting Modern with Katie Pedersen

Folded quilt on my stair railing, front

Re-folded quilt, front

A HUGE Thank you to Jacquie Gering for coming to teach at our Guild and for having the generosity of talent and spirit to let me finish one of her quilt tops. I don't know what will happen to this quilt once it gets back to her. (It's going to be hard, sending it away, but…….) this one act of trust and kindness has had such a profound impact on me as a quilter and a person. I only hope that one day, I can, in some small way, repay this kindness. It is a gift to be treasured, to be honored and to be passed on.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

{Great} Lessons Learned, aka, part one.

It's an event that actually came together, as unlikely as it might have seemed at the time- something that I could never have predicted and all that I hoped for.

If you've read the prior 2 posts (here and here) you know this is coming- the Quilt that Jacquie Gering let me finish.

Here are the lessons that I learned:

Saying yes can be a very, very good thing.
Wishes do come true- every now and then.
Be open to the possibilities, you never know when one may literally fall in your lap.
Once the door of opportunity opens, throw yourself through it before it closes.
Be observant and be flexible.
Do your research and…..
Most importantly always do your best.

This is what I did:

I took that quilt top home with me.
Once at home, I put it out so that I would see it every day, often multiple times a day.
I took the top on a field trip to the fabric store while I contemplated which fabrics would be good candidates to finish the back and complete the quilt with the perfect binding.
While at the quilt store I grabbed another copy of Jacquie's book, and really looked at her quilts again.
I observed that many of her quilts have a binding made from a material that is NOT the dominant neutral of her quilts.
Also I noticed that the quilting in most of quilts she has finished gives the quilt an incredibly rich texture, but at the same time does not overwhelm the quilt. My first reaction is often that I wish I could touch her quilts, just to see how it feels.
(While at the improv class a few of us picked Jacquie's brain regarding the quilting she used on her "Urban garden" quilt. She gave us a few pointers on that and a few other of her favorites). I listened very carefully.

When all was said and done………….. (Part one of the story of Jacquie's Quilt)

size: 40 x 44"
Quilt top- original design Jacquie Gering/ pieced by Jacquie Gering (various solid quilting cottons)
Batting: 100% cotton warm and natural
Thread: Aurifil, 100% Mako cotton, 50 wt, white (#2024), red (#2250) and gray(#2605)
Quilting: overall design, Bernina modified stitch
Binding: 100% cotton, cut straight of grain to emphasize the "stripes"
Backing……... to be continued in the next post- Part Two (Channeling my Inner Jacquie- theme and variations).
Quilting, from the front, with the contrasting white thread

Binding, and quilting. For the large solid gray and red areas of the quilt, I changed the top threads to match the fabric.
Otherwise, the quilting was done in white thread

Close up of quilting and binding, quilt front

The back of the quilt is coming next week (I promise).

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Quilt blocks big and {very} small- a small interlude

There is NO such thing as too much of a good thing.
More is better.
Better is best!

Always Bee Learning is a group I participate in over at Flickr. It's a virtual Bee in which we challenge each other not only to try new techniques, but to get better at tried and true techniques. Sometimes the blocks are hard, other times, elegantly simple, but they always keep us on the path towards learning, and not always about just sewing!

This month's block was chosen by Leanne at she can quilt. It's elegant, and has all those precise half square triangles. Our challenge was to make perfect half square triangles. Leanne posted a thoughtful tutorial on how to make perfect half square triangles. Our task was to see if we could.

What do you think?
Dashing through the snow…...
I have always admired precise HST, but never achieved the desired precision until Leanne's tutorial
Lesson well learned! But why stop at just the 2 blocks??? Why indeed?

Block variation: at 1:16 scale. (I didn't quite pull it off but I sure had fun trying).

Mini Quilt replica of the November Always Bee Learning Block using
 tiny left over scraps from making the bigger HST's.
And yes, that's snow in the background. Perfect for a winter quilt.

1:16 scale (the entire mini quilt is only 3" x 3")

The "mini" HST are each 1/2" square in size. Save for the one on the right in light blue, I nailed the little points. Couldn't have had a better teacher. Thank you Leanne.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Improv piecing with Shot Cottons- a finish.

Well, here it is, my improv pieced quilt from Jacquie Gering's class. (Chronicled here).
This quilt was difficult to photograph due to the rich subtleties of the shot cotton. I will say, it is the softest quilt I have ever made- and it has yet to be washed.

Gritty Details:
"Thoughtfully Random"
53.5" x 51.5"
Kaffe Fassett shot cottons by Westminster Fabrics. Yardage plus pieces from the Shot Cotton Fat Quarter bundle. All fabric (and thread) purchased from Treelotta. (and here)
100% cotton Warm and Natural batting
Aurifil 100% Mako cotton thread, 50 weight (#2460) for both piecing and quilting
Bernina modified stitch for the overall quilting
Original design (inspired by Jacquie Gering's improv piecing class, November 2013)

Quilt front
The fabric was so gorgeous to work with I used up all my scraps adding left over little bits in random places

Close-up, quilt front

Quilt front with tiny pops of color sneaking off the edge

Quilt front
I even used up tiny scraps in the binding

Quilt back
The block design at the quilt bottom is from the quilt Jacquie gave me to finish for her.
I added the additional stripes to emphasize the overall design and make the block really standout on the otherwise solid background.

Quilt back
Thank you Jacquie for being so inspiring!

Quilt in place. It was made for our living room.
It's just the right size to throw on your lap, grab a good book and get reading!
Although hard to tell, the dominant shot cotton color is very close in color to my couch
My next project is to piece the back for Jacquie's quilt, and then get quilting. I have settled on the fabrics (whew) with some help from Melissa Ritchie at We Shall Sew. I have a design in mind, compliments of the quilt maker, now I just have to get going! More soon!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Quilting with and for Jacquie Gering

The karma home run!
I was fortunate enough to take an improv piecing class (put together by the wonderful women of the Front Range Modern Quilt Guild) with the dynamic Jacquie Gering while she was in Colorado this November.  We worked on the improv quilting techniques she has written about in her book Quilting Modern (with Katie Pedersen). The inspiration was her "Urban Garden Quilt", (page 53). The actual Urban Garden quilt was present for inspiration. (You could touch it!). The class was all I thought it might be. FUN. INSPIRATIONAL. CONVIVIAL. MOTIVATING.

Jacquie and her quilt board demonstrating improv piecing

Background fabric added and Voila!

Jacquie with one of her demonstration quilt tops, keep this one in mind…….. ( saves space in her luggage by bringing just the tops)

Her other other sample quilt top on the left.

Oh, yes, I did ask for a picture.  (My class quilt hanging in the back ground- lots of work still to be done)
So, ……. remember this quilt top

well…… Jacquie asked, whether anyone would like to quilt it for her- she actually offered up both of her demo quilt tops to our guild to quilt. Really, she did! I raised my hand, (thinking maybe she was just kidding, and secretly hoping she was not) and right now, I have that quilt at my house and I'm going to finish it (piece the back, add the batting, quilt and bind it). Jacquie actually handed it to me, asked me again if I wanted to quilt it. (Yes, I do, I really, really do.) Melissa Ritchie, our guild president got the other quilt top. I get to choose the backing fabric and the thread as well. Needless to say, I'm a bit intimidated thrilled to be doing this.  Still pinching myself. Gotta stop and get some ideas going. Solid back? Fun print? Do I dare insert a small pieced improv block from the skills leaned at her class??? She said we could do what we wanted as long as it was our best. Pressure much????

Stay tuned for the big reveal. My finished quilt in the next post and then Jacquie's Quilt to follow.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

X- factor pillow swap, round 7

It's done, and on it's way to my partner. Round 7 of the X-factor pillow swap. This rounds theme was "low volume".  My take, cheeky at best.
"Turning Down the Volume" (literally)
20 x 20" pillow, with pieced letters in assorted low volume gray 100% cotton quilting cottons
Bernina wave quilted with Aurifil thread, 50 wt 100% mako cotton, off white

pillow front
pillow front, close up of piecing and quilting

pillow back with pop of orange in the inset zipper

Friday, November 1, 2013

The kindness of others

The on-line quilting world is remarkable. So much creativity and cooperation all in one close knit (for lack of a better sewing analogy) community. There are too-many-to-count blogs, Facebook pages,  swaps and bees, challenges and contests; and inspiration in such abundance it makes your head spin. But, as big as it is, it's also a small world. Friends helping friends, strangers showing kindness, people who only know each other "virtually" looking out for each other.

Unfortunately there is also unkindness, made large and public by easy accessibility on-line. I wish this was not the case but it is.

But, I'm here to tell you, for each short-sighted slight,  there are those remarkable people that make the stars twinkle in the heavens and the sun rise in the East. I'm not kidding. These are the people that you count yourselves luckily to know. (You are also doing a little dance on the side because they are just that nice).

So, since I can, and because I think I should- let me say a personal Thank You to all my friends and followers. For your kind comments and notes of encouragement. And for those of you that have become close friends, for sharing your lives with me and for looking out for me when I'm so busy looking forward I forget to look back. I'm a better person because of YOU!  Also, a personal and heartfelt Thank You to my fellow FRMQ Guild members for listening and encouraging me to push the quilting boundaries and to do my best,  for sharing your experiences, good and bad, and for celebrating accomplishments as a community of wonderful, talented and nurturing individuals.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

This post did not come out of the blue. Believe me or not, but it sprang from a bee, a challenge, a lunch and asking an incredibly talented on-line artist/quilter for help. I tell you it's a small, small world, and I'm so very glad to be part of it. Not to embarrass any one or to single out a few among the many, but, hopefully you know who you are.  Each new beginning needs a catalyst and the four of you were just that. There will be more coming about the bee and the challenge in the coming weeks. I ate the lunch so, that's pretty much done and gone. The help I asked for turned into something better than even I imagined and because they are all related in a cryptic kinda way, I'll give you a bit of a teaser and say no more for now.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

When you've got a good thing going….

It's fun when you discover something about your sewing machine that makes you love it more than you already did. Take my Bernina, there is a stitch, a standard "menu" stitch that if you alter both the length and the width, gives a quick and fun wavy line to use on a quilt. (A smililar stitch is on some Pfaff sewing machine models as well). I've now used it on 3 quilts and 1 pillow. It's fast, it's easy and is a nice change from straight lines and basic meandering.

The details:
"Open and Shut", 66" x 66"
Various quilting cottons including Kona solids in "chinese red", "charcoal" and "snow"
100% cotton warm and natural batting
100% cotton, Mako 50 wt Aurifil thread in: several light to medium grays for the piecing and the quilting (2600, 2620, 2625).
Original design with pieced circles and disordered sashing.
Piecing and quilting: by me.

Close-up front, wiggly line quilting in light grey thread

And I did something I'd done once before, but will do again, added my makers mark and date discretely to the quilt, close to the bound edge.
"signing" the quilt