Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Design Wall Occupied

There's always something on my design wall but this latest project may be stuck up there for a while. 

First, I finished the next 3 projects I'll be teaching for the Simple What Nots Club:

To teach this collection I decided I didn't have to make the entire small quilt each month.  This was a big time saver.  I make one or two of the blocks and usually make a larger version as well.  I am able to give tips on the process but also give options for how to enlarge the block or make them differently from the pattern instructions.  There is more than one way to do most anything and I like to give students options so they can find the method that suits them best.  That's why there is chocolate AND vanilla.  For perspective, those little Monkey Wrench blocks are each 3" finished. 

Next, I got the latest Stars in a Time Warp done--this week it's Paisley and I had no trouble finding repro paisleys in my stash:

The design wall is covered up with all the parts from the Simple What Nots Club Collection 2 and a larger piece from Collection 1.  My plan is to join them all into one larger quilt.  It will take some effort and planning (that means math) but that's the part I love.  Here are the parts just thrown on the wall--there will be rearranging and lots of piecing to get it all together.  With the first collection, I finished most of the quilts but don't need many more of these little quilts so this is my plan to use these parts up:

At night I am hand quilting my Antique Rose Star quilt so I can enter it in our quilt show in October.  This one is getting Big Stitch, using Perle Cotton size 8.  Slow and steady will get it done. 

There are more projects ongoing but you get the idea.  Once the Simple What Nots club is done I'll have more time to work on a few special projects.

Let's quilt!


Tuesday, April 21, 2015

String Block Swap Challenge

I've been working on a quilt using string blocks I received in two swaps, one with our guild quilt show committee and one with 6 members of the Education Team that comes to Houston for Festival.  Here is the finished top:

45" square
I used the larger blocks in the center and some of the smaller blocks for a border, I have lots of small blocks left for another project.  I'll quilt it simply by machine, a good chance to practice free-motion quilting.  I'll also use it to practice stitching the applied binding in place by machine.  I usually hand-stitch the binding in place but there is a time when machine stitched binding makes sense, like baby quilts and donation quilts, so I want to work on that skill.

While working on this project I came up with several points to consider when working in a swap group.  Here are the positives:

1.  You will receive a wide variety of fabrics, many of which you don't have.
2.  People work with color differently so you may see color/fabrics in a new light.
3.  Each person puts their own mark on the quilt and it's a great memory project of people and a time in your quilting journey.

Here are the challenges:

1.  You may get fabrics you don't have for a reason, you won't love them all.
2.  Each person sews differently and has their own interpretation of the guidelines.
3.  Some of the blocks may not be useable depending on your design idea.

Tips for working in a swap group:

1.  Set clear guidelines and a deadline.  (Those who miss the deadline need a gentle push.)
2.  Keep it Simple--the more specific the design, the more variation you will get.
3.  If you are persnickety about your fabrics and design, you should sew your own quilts.
4.  Do not complain publicly about what you received, you won't be invited to join again.
5.  Use the blocks you can, and those you can't can be added to your "orphan blocks" stash to use for fun pieced backs or simple donation quilts--someone without a quilt will love those blocks.
6.  Use quality fabric and try your best to provide the fabrics requested.  Do your best work.
7.  Meet the deadline.  Follow the guidelines--ask if you don't understand something.

Paper Piecing Tips:

1.  Use lightweight paper, like telephone book pages.  Do not use vellum or heavy copy paper.
2. Use a small stitch, 1.5 or 16/inch--this makes taking the paper off a breeze.  Regular size stitches make taking the paper off an ordeal--and pulls out stitches at the beginning and end of each string.
3.  Be sure you trim seam allowances down to 1/4" if you sewed with a larger seam--before you add the next string. 

A group swap can be a fun experience but it's not for everyone.  Enjoy what you receive and make something useful with the blocks. 

Other projects I've been doing this week:

Stars in a Time Warp, Ombre

Four Patch Leader/Ender project

The four patch blocks are my latest Leader/Ender project and were sewn together as I worked on the String Block quilt.  I'm not sure if I'll put the tan/cream backgrounds in one quilt and the white backgrounds in a different quilt or use them in the same quilt--what do you think?  I have a large stash of four patches I've been making as leader/enders so it was time to figure out a use for them. 

We had a baby shower for my daughter-in-law and baby Stella will be well-supplied.  Here is a photo of the two happy grandmothers and our mama-to-be.  The next time we see her, Stella will be here:

Check out Judy L's blog to see what others are doing.

Let's quilt!


Monday, April 13, 2015

Inspiration and Other Things

My guild quilt show is October 9-11, 2015 and I'm co-chair.  We have a few new ideas to help pay for the show.  One is a Special Exhibit of Quilts Inspired by the Quilts of Gee's Bend. 

Each of the 24 entries has to be 24" square and is the maker's interpretation of the quilts of Gee's Bend, whatever that means to the maker.  My thoughts on the quilts of Gee's Bend are that they often have improvisational piecing and the maker used what she had.  For the first one, I found images of Gee's Bend quilts, found a design I liked, and used my fabrics to follow that "pattern".  Here is the quilt I came up with:
Inspiration #1

(EDITED: to show finished quilt.)
The other day I heard there were those who believed a Gee's Bend quilt HAD to have denim or corduroy and I need to put that to rest.  So I went back online, looked at more images, found another I liked, and challenged myself to use only the fabric I had in two shoeboxes:  one with pieces between 4-5" wide and the other with pieces between 5-6" wide.  Shoeboxes hold my scraps that are too small to go back in the closet.  This proved to be a good way to "use what I had".  Here is that quilt:

Inspiration #2

I'll show these two finished quilts at the guild meeting this week to show denim/corduroy is not required.  And these are to be quilts "inspired" by the quilts of Gee's Bend, not exact replicas unless that's what the maker wants to do.  All 24 of these will be available for purchase at the show.  I think we will have a terrific display of these quilts and hopefully, all 24 will find new homes.

I love Lemoyne stars, also called 8 pointed stars, and during my Open Studio demonstrations at Chicago, I showed how to string piece paper foundations for those stars, in addition to showing how to string piece squares.  My go-to paper for this kind of work is phone book pages.  This morning I discovered I had 7 of the 8 star points done for a 12" star, so I whipped up the 8th and put the block together:

I still have to remove the paper--that's a good job to do sitting on my front porch swing, as it's a rainy day today.  This was fun and I love digging into my deep string stash and finding some wonderful small scrap of fabric long gone.  There's a piece of African fabric in there, and a few of my all-time favorites, of which I have  no more. 

Now to get the Stars in a Time Warp stars cut and sewn from last week and be sure I'm ready for our monthly Simple What Nots club Friday night.  This is my busy week:  teach class Tuesday night, attend guild meeting Thursday night, conduct the Club Friday night, and attend the baby shower Saturday for my wonderful daughter-in-law and our new grandgirl, Stella.  Who has time for a job?!

Linking up with Judy L's blog for Design Wall Monday.

Let's quilt!


Monday, April 6, 2015

Stella's First Quilt

I finished Stella's first quilt, Little Letters, from Temecula Quilt Co blog.

Once she is born, I'll add the label with her date of birth--her first gift from her BB.

I've also been keeping up with Barbara Brackman's Stars in a Time Warp quilt along . I'm making 2 blocks each week for a large quilt:

Each Wednesday a new color or style of fabric is discussed and I look forward to learning about that fabric/style, then searching my stash for similar fabrics.  These are 6" blocks, someone on the Flickr group is making them 4"--wish I'd thought of that!

Check out Judy's blog to see what others have been working on.

Let's quilt!