Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Checking the list and mailing things once

The packages of scraps, selvedges, hexies and orphan blocks are ready to go to their new homes. In the process of finishing a quilt, I "found" a few more so there will be 8 packages on their way.

I need mailing addresses for the following people.

Please send them to me at: spontaneousthreads at gmail dot com

For some of you I only have your "blogger"  name, so please forgive my not calling you by your given name. I am also posting this list on IG. I sincerely hope you all get this message.

Sylvia Shaefer, Aunt TC, Pajtr, Kathy (kayakquilting), Betty (b78ayers), Kathryn (kupitis), Teje and Jodi (gmmeenan).

Thank you all for participating and happy making!!!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

I am so very thankful- a humble give away.

For many, many reasons, this time of the year often brings with it a time for reflection and thanks. I am truly grateful and forever thankful for my family, my friends (near and far), my health; but also for my freedom, and for the gift of life. I have had a safe childhood, warm home. I  live in a country where I chose a profession based on skill and aptitude instead of social standing and gender. My life has had it's twists and turns and it's ups and downs (who's hasn't), but everyday is a day of my own.  I very recently went back to college to teach, but also to learn.  I don't know what the future holds, but the now is pretty awesome.

In celebration of a year of many firsts, and because I am thankful to have been able to reach high and challenge myself, I have some gifts to give. They are humble gifts, but hopefully will spark a project or 2 for their recipients. As I embark on my final quilt of the year, made from very humble beginnings, (all scraps, but prints not solids), I'd like to share, to give back to the community of makers who each and every day offer kind words and encouragement to me and to others.

I have 7 large tyvek envelopes (14 x 10") stuffed with fabric. All scraps, all from my stash, collected over the last 3 years. The bags are loosely curated into the following:
A &B:2 bags- selvedges only
C:1 bag fabric in random shapes and one 6x9" bag stuffed full of selvedges
D:1 bag of already made hexies and many 2 1/2" squares for you to make more, plus one 6x9" bag stuffed full of selvedges
E:1 bag orphan blocks from various projects, lots of  varying sized triangle pieces of fabric and one 6x9" bag stuffed full of selvedges
F:1 bag jelly roll strips (various lengths) and one 6x9" bag stuffed full of selvedges
G:1 bag charm squares and smaller squares and one 6x9" bag stuffed full of selvedges

Most of the fabric scraps are small, but all are usable. They have served me well but now it's time for them to go and be other projects in other makers hands.

I want to give these 7 bags away to 7 people.

All you have to do is leave me a comment and specify in your comment which bag you would prefer (A, B, C, D, E, F, G). I will do my very best to match bags with preferences, knowing that it will likely be impossible for everyone to get their hearts desire. I will select 7 people at random and send you your preferred bag. Please leave one comment per person. If you have a project in mind for these scraps/selvedges, please feel free to share.

That's it. Simple and easy.
Recipients will be announced here and on Instagram on November 17th.

Thank YOU!!!

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Traditional to Modern a Front Range Guild Challenge

There seems to be much interest in looking at our Quilting roots but making them perhaps more relevant to the newer sewing/quilting esthetic that appeals to new and established quilters.

The Front Range Modern Quilt Guild took up the challenge earlier this year with just this thought in mind. Take an older block and make it modern. And just to make it interesting you could only, use black and white (solids/prints and shades within the black and white spectrum) and one other color. Simple right???!!!

I chose a very simple block. The tried and true Split rail. Three equal strip of fabric, often rotated 90" in a single, simple block.

block by phoebemoon
Based on your color choice and placement the secondary design comes into play.
So, 3 colors to work with, a simple block with 3 strips of fabric.
Now, toss them in the air and maybe vary the length and width of said strips and you get…..

Modern Spelunking ( the name derives from the fact that when all was said and done, the placement and the design reminds me a bit of the stalactites and stalagmites you see in caves)

53 x 48.5"

I wanted to challenge myself to see if I could work with transparency without strict measurements. I did sketch the design roughly on graph paper to get the proportions correct, but did not add any numerical measurements;  the actual construction of the quilt was done on the fly. I did end up with some spectacular failed attempts at getting those transparency sections to work, and I did make my life a little bit harder by having many of the sections at angles, and not the same angles to boot. But that made the whole process  a bit more interesting and very satisfying in the end.

Front, no flash
Front, with flash
The nano particle fabric reads bright white
Top: 100% quilting cotton; Kona snow, black, caribbean, breakers, and retroreflective nano particle fabric.
Back: IKEA 100% cotton bedding

Threads: Aurifil 100% cotton, 50 wt in 2021, 4241, 2810. Superior metallic in peacock blue

Binding: 2" SOG, kona snow

Quilting: straight line and FMQ triangles. Matchstick quilting focally

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Sewing the Arlberg

Basting complete, top
The grays make the pattern move
A gift to two wonderful people. A thank you for two years of service to the club.

Quilt Front
Quilt Back

70 x 70"
Quilted with a Modified #4 stitch; Bernina domestic machine
Threads: assorted off white to medium blues, various manufacturers
100% cotton warn and natural batting
2" SOG binding
100% quilting cottons top and back. Top, all Kona cotton in grays and blues

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Houston 2015

Kind of self explanatory, I have a quilt, "Embers" hanging in the Modern Quilt Guilds Special Exhibit at the International Quilt Festival this year. I also am fortunate enough to have been part of another quilt hanging in the same exhibit, one made by 22 talented ladies from the Denver Metro Modern Quilt Guild, called "Twisted Sisters Quilt" a Modern update of the Game of Twister. After Houston both quilts will be traveling to QuiltCon Pasadena, in February of 2016.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

I made a Tiny Quilt and it's going to California

My submission to the American Made Brands Tiny Quilt Challenge can now be shared.

One of my smaller projects this year - seems to me I've been doing small lately.

subtle echo quilting on the left

close-up of quilting

10" x 11" (small)

Made (as per entry requirements) from American Made Brand Solids. A tiny sample pack from QuiltCon 2016 (the colored bits) and off white for the negative space. I couldn't put any of my retroreflective nano particle fabric in it, although I dearly wanted too. Instead I used inset seams for the lollipop stems.

Quilted with Aurifil 50 wt 100% cotton on #2012 and Superior Metallic peacock blue. I used both straight line dense quilting and FMQ echo quilting to mimic the pieced design in the negative space.

The batting is 100% poly fusible to help with the basting.

The quilt was turned inside out before quilting for a  true, no-binding finish.

It seems like this wee little mini has been done forever, we haven't been able to share until now. It will be hanging along with 39 others in the Road to California Show in 2016. I know it's far off, but if you're there and remember me, I'd appreciate a photo.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Sleepless in Seattle

Oh, how I wish that were true. That I could be in Seattle to see this show and all the incredible art. IF you are in Seattle and find yourself sleepless, perhaps you could go, and when you are there, take pictures and share?

My contribution

The Details :
COLOR FORMS, curated by Jessica Vehorn (Guild Studio)
October 5 through November 27, 2015 with the opening reception October 8, 2015 5-7 pm, Seattle Pacific Art Center, 3307 3rd Ave W, Seattle, WA 98119 (Seattle Pacific University Campus)

The show includes pieces by:
Julie Alpert
Anna Boenish
Wynde Dyer
Colleen Elizabeth
Season Evans
Zak Foster
Hillary Goodwin
Ruby Hoppen
Chawne Kimber
Paul Komada
Matt Macomber
Jeffrey Maris
Ara Jane Olufson
Martha Peterson
Nicholas Sistler
Shelby Marie Skumanich
Blair Stocker
Kate Sweeney
Jessica Vehorn

Backstory, because that seems to be THE story of my life these days. This, me in the show is because of a Texting jag with Hillary of Entropy Always wins. He have history and now we have quilts. If not for her, then this would not be. So, for any of you wondering if kind words and encouragement, collaborative sharing and challenges don't matter, I'm here to tell you you are wrong.

Specifics: (the story, the journey and my sleepless night)
3 pieces, a start, a pause, a finish, a revisit and one that is definitely outside my comfort zone, but had to be. The story behind the Trilogy.

First let me say the general parameters of the show #colorformsshow is to create a nonrepresentational piece, that is greater than 5 x5" and less than 36 x 36". Easy peazy right? Maybe not so much when your comfort zone is usable quilts, in rather predictable shapes (think rectangle/square) and in let's say, large format.

I started with the 10 x 10" piece on the top right. It looked like this initially.

Even with the dense matchstick quilting you could see the shadowing. (I even send a picture to the person instrumental in this whole endeavor, she agreed with me). The curves are tight and the circles small and the way things worked out, I couldn't press to the dark side, plus the fabric would have been visibly lumpy. So despite the fun quilting with the 5 subtle thread color changes, I put it aside.

Next up was this long rectangle measuring in at 27.5 x 11".  I opted for shot cotton background (gray/orange) which nicely camouflaged the inset color pieces. The shapes are the same size as in my first attempt, and I also quilted the heck out of this changing threads often. Because of the darker background I was able to use more saturated thread colors. I doubled up on 100% cotton batting and like the way it plays against the dense quilting.  All threads are Aurifil 100% cotton, 50 wt.
" Revelry"
Skinny 1/4" binding is almost invisible

I opted for rich solid Kona cotton for the shapes and 3 of the 4 circles. The 4th circle, bottom left is glass nano particle fabric. The color palette is similar to the first piece I started. And outside of the nano particle fabric I stuck with solid fabrics, something I've done a lot of this year.
construction details, lots of seam clipping to get those curves to work.

Meanwhile, the piece I started with was calling to me…. so I went back to see if it could be saved, all the while thinking about one request from the shows curator, she would love some non conventional shapes. I tackled the shadowing by adding turned edge appliqué to all edges of the original piece and then matchstick quilting those, changing thread colors just to make things fun.
"Resolution": 10 x 10"
Flash on for this photo on the front, rounded corners, faced binding.

Turn edge appliqué on tiny circles is NOT for the faint of heart. 

Dense quilting through nano particle fabric in yummy blue Aurifil thread. 
 After all the quilting I cut rounded corners and finished with a faced binding. I am so glad I went back to this piece.

But it seemed that I was not yet at the end of my journey. One night I woke up with my head spinning and a headache that lasted all through the night and well into the next day. Since I couldn't sleep, I visited all the pieces I had cut from the 2 finished quilts and all of a sudden an idea, born from a bit of pain and a definite lack of sleep emerged. I still had the script of a unconventional shape, perhaps even an unbound "quilt" running in my brain. So, instead of reaching for the comfort of my solids, I started pulling metallic prints and sparkly whites and just started cutting and sewing. This is what happened, 18 x 13" of repeated shapes and circles, same size, less orderly and tons of fun. I quilted all the pieces onto a single piece of backing fabric, using the doubled cotton batting for stability and quilted the heck out of it, changing thread colors just like in the previous two pieces. I used nano particle fabric again and when all was said and done cut away the backing fabric and excess batting. Needless to say, no binding was used here. I am uncomfortable without the binding, always going back to snip tiny threads that are trying to tumble free. But I do love that I didn't try to over think the process, I just let this one develop on it's own.

"Disquiet" front
I see all three pieces together and although not at all planned,  when they are arranged this way, make an almost square at 24 x 28".  Each piece has hanging sleeves allowing them to be separate as well as together, via a somewhat, if I do say so myself, ingenious (which I of course, forgot to photograph) system of buttons and ties.  So, together or apart, here is "Trilogy". The individual pieces, right to left are "Revelry", "Resolution" and "Disquiet". They will be for sale at the show. Yet another thing I have never done! 

If you live anywhere near the museum, go see the show. There are 19 talented artists who will have stories to tell, I'm certain all well worth your visit.

Thank you to the shows curator Jessica Vehorn (Guild Studio) for talking me through the "art" part of the show and for suggesting that quilts need not be square/rectangular, and that in this instance, being unbound was OK, and looking back I must say, in so many ways Jessica was correct.  Another mere  thank you is not enough  to co-conspirator/artist/quilter/doctor/mom Hillary for all her support and encouragement. I can say for certain that without those 2 ladies, these 3 quilted pieces would never have happened. I am eternally grateful.

Saturday, September 26, 2015


Bee Sewcial blocks- September: "Some things are better left unsaid".  The design parameters and a shout out to all quilters here.   If you want to see the design work of the other quilters sewing along please visit Instagram and look for the hashtag, #inspiredbybeesewcial.

"Embrace"- more expansive than a hug and open-ended to be all inclusive. Embrace Life, love, friends and sometimes even enemies….. embrace it all and never, ever let go!  "Ascend"- no baby steps here. If the stakes are high enough and you ARE determined; succeed or fail, you WILL take that leap of faith because out's really your only option. Oh, and that last step, let's just agree it's a doozy.

Embrace and Ascend
tiny bit of nano particle fabric right after that last step
Pieced partial spiral. It's harder to do than it looks, especially those "curves" at the tips.
This block is only 10" square

Haven do. good stitches- scrappy UFO/ Orphan blocks - the blocks finish at 12.5"

Some silly sewing for the Varsity girls Field Hockey Team at East High School. They got new uniforms this year. The bags are done in school colors (a great stash buster) can be used to keep uniforms from cleats, or vise versa. They are big enough to be used later on for shoe bags when they all head off to college in the fall.

a little chalk board fabric helped keep everyones uniforms organized

Read Between the Lines received a 1st place ribbon at the AQS show in Grand Rapids, MI.  Latifah was at the show and was kind to send this photo. I don't keep many of my quilts, but with 2 ribbons in its pedigree, this one is a keeper.

Seattle Pacific Art Center Submissions- more to come on October 3rd, but for now a sneak peek won't hurt.

TulaYAH swap- with all the projects that need finishing I had to get this done and off my to-do list. It don't mail until November 1st, but it feels good to be done. PLUS, Tula Pink was in Denver at Fancy Tiger Crafts in September and so it began.
"Mug Rug" front
Dense matchstick quilting really makes Tula fabric yummy
A little improve on the right to use up those precious scraps

Yes, dear partner, Tula herself signed your Mug Rug

Fun backing fabric too

Thought you might like your "extra" to be make with her new "Eden" line

Needle book inside
Oh, yes, there are a few other surprises…... think Vintage Tula and a YAH mug, I didn't forget. And because I couldn't have done this with out you, a signed piece of vintage Hushabye for a most generous Kathryn.

I'm pretty sure there are a few other sewing projects mixed in there, like the ones for a class I'm teaching at Fabricate Boulder, but a girl has got to have a few secrets, no?

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Keeping it real, part the last

It started here
and this chapter now ends right here. I do want to say, for all you quilters out there,  you (yes, YOU),  have quilts hidden in your scraps. Beautiful quilts waiting to me made, and shared and loved. I wish I could continue to challenge each of you to make at least one quilt from your scraps on hand. I guarantee you will be happy that you did. This  finish is my second larger quilt from scraps.


Title: "Divisible by None"
Original design, improv pieced with mostly precut scraps.
Size: 76" x 60"
Materials: scraps only (top) all 100% quilting cottons in black, grays, whites, and yellow many by Kona, RJR,  and others (cut me some slack here with the specific names, they are scraps after all but if you are sleuthy, you can read back through all the quilts I made in 2013/2014 and cobble a workable list). I also believe the yellows to be part of trimmings from Bee Sewcial blocks from Hillary.

Back: Black and white prints from stash. All 100% cotton.

Batting: black, 100% poly from Quilters Dream. The black was chosen purposely to highlight the seaming of all the scraps, especially in the light fabrics.
black batting top left, seaming is highlighted.
 A technique I played with to excess here. The original idea for the black batting, compliments of Christine Perrigo. The only thing I didn't like about this batting is that it does pill while quilting, and all this black batting bits on the light top drove me crazy. They came off easily with a lint roller, but it was messy. I guess if it was on a long arm it wouldn't have been noticeable.  But when your quilting away on a domestic machine, the quilt sandwich gets manhandled.

Threads: Marathon 100% cotton, 40 weight in black and light silver gray. Aurifil 50 weight, 100% cotton in dark gray.

Quilting: Dark areas (center) straight line quilting at angles; (peripheral): FMQ boxes. Light areas: FMQ pebbles.

Binding: 100% scraps in various white, off-white, light, medium and dark grays. Cut 2" SOG at what ever length was left over from previous quilt bindings. I had just enough so it was meant to be.

Labeling: Versitranz "Spontaneous Threads".

Lessons Learned: You CAN make a quilt from scraps (not just mini quilts, but a bigger quilt too); especially if you set those parameters (only use scraps/ or adding stash if your scrap collection needs augmentation) and stick to it. Many have taken the "sewing my stash" and "sewing my scraps" challenge for 2015. I know I have, and I meant it to include something significant.

You can also make a back from your stash/ additional scraps. That is my typical modus operandi. But I used my scraps to make the top, so I needed to move on to plan B. Keep in mind, that the back doesn't have to match the front….. You could treat it as 2 fronts if your scrap collection is voluminous enough…… and  since I didn't have any scraps left to cobble a back for this quilt, I opted to use large stash pieces that went together quickly.
I know I have said this before. You can push yourself to create from what you have. You can recut scraps to fit a pattern, or dive in and up the ante by using them as is. You can use all scraps, or curate a color palette that appeals to you or the intended recipient.  And in the end the whole will be greater than the sum of its parts.  Scraps in a bin really aren't doing anything except taking up space even IF they are beloved scraps.  But they can give birth to a quilt. Being reborn into something bigger and whole is definitely better and perhaps equally beloved.

This quilt will be a gift to my father who has a birthday and a holiday celebration worthy of gifts and close enough to cover both.