Wednesday, May 20, 2015

A heartfelt Quilt

A beautiful quilt for a BeeSewcial Bee Member. Blocks for the quilt top (Me, Diane, Kari,  Melissa,  Felicity, Leanne,  Hillary). Here are my 2 blocks. One landed on the front and the other on the back.

  I added a bit of retroflective fabric, hidden in the form of a teeny, tiny improv heart to the front, bottom right. Just in case they want to use it at night.
it's really little. (improv heart without flash)

improv heart with flash (glass nano particle fabric)

The entire back/second front was pieced and designed by Debbie, I got to contribute one of the heart blocks, but her genius makes it truly a quilt with 2 fronts.

The whole thing was quilted and bound by Leanne (shecanquilt) with beautiful dense straight line quilting (as Leanne does so very well) in pale, pale pink.

HeartBEEts for baby Evie and mom Marci, by the women of Bee Sewcial

A total group effort and a simply beautiful quilt for a brand new baby girl.

Marci we love you,  and welcome to the newest member to the group, congratulations!

Photo credits, Leanne, shecanquilt!

Friday, May 15, 2015

Aspirin anyone?

I seem to be easily distracted these days. I should be working on things I have ready and waiting. I keep finding other things to do. Case in point. My daughter's (and my son's) favorite teacher is leaving their high school at the end of this school year. My daughter asked if I could make her a quilt. (Of course she did). This teacher is very special and she will be missed. The class is AP Chemistry. And what kind of quilt do you make a chemistry teacher? Well, a chemistry quilt of course.

My daughter asked and got her favorite compound. The teacher likes it because it's fun to say, acetylsalicylic acid. Aspirin to most everyone else.

I thought about construction of this for a little bit, I actually slept on it. And the best solution seemed to me was to try bias tape. Thanks to the perseverance of some wonderful quilting friends, I did have my reservations but I also had resolve.  I muscled the 1/2" black Kona cotton bias tape to my will (no evil scientist at work here, just glue and pins and a really hot iron).
Once the molecular compound was in place I had to tackle the elements, you know some C (carbon) H (hydrogen) and some O (oxygen), and a number, the number 3.

So may I present,

 "Take some aspirin and call me in the morning"
Quilt front

60 x60" square
Fabrics: Kona cotton black (bias tape/letters C,H,O), Kona snow (background), Kona steel, 2 circles, glass nano particle fabric (the 3 and 1 circle). The back is pieced (from stash) chemistry fabrics (thank you Christine) and more Kona solids.
Quilt back. showcasing a small collection of Chemistry fabrics.

Thread: Piecing: Aurifil #2024 in 50 wt, 100% cotton.
Quilting, same as above with the addition of  Black for the bias tape and letters. Superior threads metallic in silver for the accent.
Batting: 100% recycled cotton batting from Pellon
Binding: pieced 2" straight of grain (Kona snow, WOW scraps, IKEA black and white scraps)
pieced binding is subtle

Quilting: FMQ irregular triangles around compound and pebbles (bubbles) for the rest. 3 circles outlines only.
The addition of metallics is subtle but effective.

Techniques: Bias tape appliqué, turned edge appliqué, glue basting, FMQ
New and different:
Labeling: Although I will have an additional post about the label specifics, let's just say for now, I have a new way to label, and I love it. The "spontaneous Threads" is on the quilt and it can't be removed. It's also "reflective".
Periodic table fabric compliments of Christine Perrigio

Just some random things: I used the glass nano particle fabric that I have used previously in this quilt as well. It was the easiest solution to the number 3 and it wouldn't give me any frayed edges. Since the quilt is aspirin, and since I made a fuss about the 3, I thought it needed 3 representational aspirins on the quilt. I've been known to put a small statement in my quilt tops in the lower right hand corners and this quilt is no different. I did make one aspirin out of the glass nano particle fabric as well.  I like that it's not "in your face" aspirin, unless of course, you are up on your chemistry.
The flash is on for this photo and the glass nano particle fabric really stands out in the "aspirin" circle
and the number 3. 
I also pulled my love of metallic threads into this quilt too. It was suggested to me, and a great suggestion it was, to outline the triangular quilting in metallic thread. Kind of like the cartoon "Kapow" and "Boom" you see in comic books. I used the metallic to outline the transition from the very angular to the very circular. I like how it looks. And because I'm one to carry a theme to distraction, I did it three times.
Subtle metallic outline (x3)
There is nothing about this I don't like, look, even the selvedge on the periodic table of the elements fabric is in theme. (If there has been 3 of them, it would have been epic).
Erlenmeyer Flasks, how cute is that!!!!
I'm linking up with Amy's Creative Side, I couldn't decide what category to be in, Original design, Machine quilting, Small quilt, modern (because there is some of all of these in this quilt) …… I finally decided on appliqué as it was a technique I hadn't tried and I ended up using 2 different kinds (bias tape and turn-edge).
Please stop by and see all the other fabulous quilts on display!

Saturday, May 9, 2015

April makings

Busy as a bee again in April with a quilt for a birthday and some Bee blocks.
This fun and very spring Tulip block. I'm going to say it again, I'm not good with directions. But I thought I'd give it a try. I started cutting and cutting and the realized that perhaps the directions were for  the entire quilt, not for a quilt block. So I stopped and reassessed and my mistake hopefully will be someones pleasure as I made 4 blocks instead of 2.
Amsterdam Blocks

The Bee Sewcial blocks for Diane. I loved her color palette and her inspirational art. Her request is that each block have not just curves but round/oval things with a pop of black. I needed to come up with enough for the equivalent of 2 12"blocks and I did that with 3 blocks of different sizes. I forgot to take good outside photos before I sent them off in the mail (typical).
My 3 blocks. 

My local guild had a name tag swap. I got carried away and made 2. One for a guild mate and one for a lovely IG follower who entered into a small giveaway I had.
My guild mates name is Sheri
Sheri, right? All done with inset seams and lots and lots of glue

The back, name more obvious
This name tag is about 5 x 4"
The IG winner is Tamara
I had a blast with this one. The flash is on so you can see the retroreflective fabric

Added a grommet for hanging. The nano particle fabric is silver gray when not reflecting light
This name tag is about 4 x 4"

I really had fun messing with their names.
Tamara also got some nano particle fabric. That stuff is showing up in lots of little things I'm making.

I also had a first in April. I made a bed and carrying bag for a hedgehog. My niece is adopting one. Hopefully she'll send me photos of the goods in use.

Carrying bag on left, bed on right, both lined with fleece. Hedgehog fabric on both.

Lastly, I had planned on a pillow for the X-factor pillow swap, this rounds theme was drunkards path. I went with a modified drunkards path and then ended up keeping it. It will be a gift instead. I used my fun nano particle fabric (again).
Front, no flash (pay attention to the purple oval)

With flash. Ta dah!

I quilted the right side to mimic the piecing on the left.
I ended up calling it Blank Canvas.
It's 20 x 20"

The back, simple with a zip closure

And some utilitarian things for a talented crowd of teens- I modified slightly a pattern by sotakhandmade, eliminating the lining fabric.
patriotic red-white & blue fabrics from my stash, all cut

Shoe bags for the competitors. 

I'm still working on quilting my Bee Sewcial quilt. I took a break to get some other things done.

I have a few other quilts in the works. Don't forget to check back.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Quilting with nano particles

New things are just too good to let go. Take my mini obsession with metallic threads. Thanks to Superior threads and their helpful sales staff, I have a new found love for sparkle. I have used their threads in many quilts stitched in 2014 and continued the trend into 2015.

Ditto for inset seams. They do add a few more steps to a finished piece, but the extra effort was totally worth it. They showed up in projects late 2014 (both quilts and quilt blocks). Looks like I wasn't the only one intrigued by their striking impact- the judges at QuiltCon liked them too. If you want to give them a try, I have a tutorial here.

But it's 2015 now, and I was looking again for that something that I would use again and again in different ways, perhaps even mixing it with inset seams and metallics. And I found it. It's magic, truly.

Let me first say, that this quilt was conceived in my head, but I quickly realized, it was not a quilt I could just go and piece. I did (gasp) draw a picture on a piece of note book paper. I then (while in the car but not at the wheel) transferred this design to graph paper (free hand). I toyed with colored pencils, but abandoned that because I kept changing my mind on the colors. I even decided on a size before starting. I did some basic counting and calculating and I did follow (for the most part) my own directions. I cut some pieces the wrong size, and forgot to cut other pieces all together- (not surprised at all). I encountered errors on the way (ha), made some design revisions to make the piecing more practical and ripped out several areas more than once when I just couldn't get the parts to align. I persevered. I mixed mediums, toyed with transparency and pulled out some skills I had become familiar and comfortable with over the last year. In the end I made a quilt. Once again inspiration comes from something utilitarian….. derived once more.

We have all seen the high visibility reflective strips on vests and work clothing. Makes the wearer more visible at night when light hits the silver strips. Safety first right? But, leave it to some top designers to be weaving these hair thin reflective yarns into their clothing lines making a beautiful custom suit illuminate when light hits it. I've also heard it's becoming a bit of a fashion trend with the often photographed. Once a flash hits the fabric the result is startling, showcasing the clothing but obscuring the wearer.  But I was wondering, what makes this fabric so special? How does the fabric work? Is it even fabric? Well, I never thought I'd get some hands on experience with nano particles, but that's just what this fabric is. Teeny tiny glass beads embedded in fabric. Space age technology meets old fashion craft. I wonder what a quilter who is open to trying new things could do with some of that very precious material?  Shall I tell you? But first, the story of the fabric because it is the best part of the whole process.

I did my research, called manufacturers, spoke to people who really didn't understand what I was looking for until I decided to just tell my story ("Hi, I'm a quilter and I'd like to use some of your material in a quilt"), to a lovely man who listened and then sold me some. Luckily he was open to me not buying the entire run of fabric (I think somewhere in the arena of 1000 yards). I just wanted a little, you know to try it, see how it worked. He sent me a small sample. I touched it (lovingly), showed it to my friends and family, used a flash light on it, ironed it even. I was smitten. So I called him back and talked myself into 2 yards. I talked him into 2 yards too, but  at the price I was paying 2 yards was a HUGE commitment.  It is the MOST expensive fabric I have ever purchased, I have big plans for this precious material, but first I needed to make one quilt and see how it went. I opted for minimal use, maximum impact, because one thing you need to know about this fabric before you start sewing with it, is that its one big drawback is sewing needle marks. Once you sew and make a needle hole, the hole is there forever, like leather, and paper, just way more expensive.

Derived inspiration No. 4
Front, no flash
there is a tiny inset piece in the lower right corner that is almost invisible without a flash.

Back, no flash

49 x 53 inches
original design (designed/pieced/quilted)
Front,  with flash
The fabric becomes reflective (actually retroreflective- throwing the light right back at the viewer).
The fabric "changes" properties from dull gray to bright white!

       top: retroreflective glass nanosphere fabric (seriously never thought I'd get to use that descriptor anywhere never mind in quilting). Without a flash the material is a dull almost pewter gray. With the flash, well it's magic.
before quilting/ front. Yes, I got really excited when I turned on the flash.

       Kona 100% cotton solids in snow and shadow.

       back: IKEA gray check duet cover, deconstructed, 100% cotton. Inset remnants of Kona cotton       quilting solids and reflective material left over from piecing the top.
Back, flash on.

Threads: Metallics- Superior threads: silver; Marathon Metallic 3015 (white)
               Cotton-  Aurifil 50 wt, 100% cotton in: 2021, 2630, 1158, 2606, 4020, 1153, 2810, 2600
                             Mettler, 40 wt  in 594

Batting: Hobbs heirloom 100% cotton

Quilting: dense straight line quilting with random areas of FMQ in the colorful insets with color matched threads all on a Bernina domestic machine (1630 as my 180 was in for service).

New things: reflective nano particulate material, pattern sketching, earnest attempt at direction following.
I used every little bit of that precious fabric. For reference the inset length is 1/4" the width, 1/8 ".
pieced inset seams. 

pieced inset seams with flash
There is not batting behind this s you can see the piecing details.

Tried and true things: inset seams,  inset binding, metallic threads, keen sense of adventure, more than occasional disregard of "directions".
Inset seams all the way into the binding.
Aurifil thread on the white, superior metallic thread in the gray.
A little sparkle makes this special.

Stay tuned for more projects using nano particulate reflective fabrics and reflective yarn (oh yeah, I talked my way into some of that too).