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Thursday, June 7, 2018

Off the Rails! Quilt Expo Finish!

 
     I am very excited that my little mini quilt, which was my Maria Shell "Linear Blocks" workshop piece, placed second in the 2018 Quilt Expo Modern Mini Quilt Challenge.  The winning quilts can be found here - Quilt Expo.  I got the news just as we were leaving on a week long vacation in Virginia - so couldn't blog about this until now. In April, the Western New York Modern Quilters had Maria Shell in for a workshop. It was a fabulous day, and I had looked forward to it for months. I love Maria's work. It is so graphic, vibrant and alive! I was intrigued by the notion of cutting fabric without a ruler. What a liberating experience that was. I had loads of solids to work with.

One of two bins! 
 I decided to pick nine colors, trying to achieve a summery palette, and then was using those colors to create a version of fence rail blocks.  
Over the course of the day, I was able to make nine blocks, which I put together to create a little piece.  I like the curves, and the movement that results, but sewing and cutting both go a little bit slower!  Maria Shell was so very generous with her time, and her help to all of us, and I greatly appreciated her help with my piece!  

The pieces at the end of the workshop day.
 I was thrilled with how the piece looked after I put the blocks together and pressed the heck out of it.  I thought the colors achieved that summery feel, and loved the little striped pieces within each block.  I noticed, however, two problems.  First, on of the blocks was too curvy, and some of the lines went off in the middle. 
Second, two of the pieces were different colors from the rest.  The blue and bright green were different from the other blocks.  I was sewing next to a friend, and think I picked up some of her pieces by mistake!  I decided to fix this before I started quilting.  
The little problem areas!  
Not only am I charmed with Maria Shell's color and design, but her dense and precise quilting is also a delight to see in her quilts.  I had never quilted with more that one color at a time, but decided to give it a try.  I had thread to match or blend with most of my palette, and only needed to get the coral and light blue.  All these years of quilting, I have only purchased the large spools of thread, and finally came to understand how very handy the smaller spools are (and how they really have plenty of thread on them!)  
Matching the thread

Under the needle!  
I used a piece of bright yellow Kona as the backing.  I started out using just white in the bobbin (I don't have many bobbins at this time!) and found that the white showed through on the darker threads on top.  So I added a dark gray to the back for the darker top threads.  This was my first time switching out thread colors, and quilting so densely on my Tiara, and the back sometimes was a mess!   I was able to clean up most of these problems
 This method all led to many threads that needed to be buried on top and on the back - one of my least favorite parts of quilting!  
So many threads! 
      The work was worth it - I really like how the matchstick quilting looks and feels.  It is hard to see, but the black bits in the striped piece are also quilted; the bright green part is not.  I thought it popped a bit more left unquilted! 
      I then had to decide how to bind it.  I tried out both black and bright green for the binding, and I also  considered facing it, but liked how the black framed it, and made it complete.   The finished piece is 18.5 x 18.5 inches square.
     The portions that I fixed from the initial version are circled below.  I am glad I made the changes!  
     I was fortunate to win a beautiful silver pendant and earrings from Siesta Silver Jewelry - link to site here.  They are lovely!  I am about to pack this up and ship it to the Quilt Expo for consideration in a juried exhibition.  Crossing my fingers that it makes it in to the exhibit!

Take care,

Gretchen

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Odds and Ends

     I am still working on my many blocks for the 'On Ringo Lake' quilt, but wanted to get a project ready for the quilting machine.  I like having the ability to work on a pieced project on my regular sewing machine (a Bernina QE 153) and also something on my mid arm (Baby Lock Tiara II).   Since I finished quilting my little mini quilt (details next post),  I pulled out the block of the month sampler I had finished last year for a guild challenge to get ready to quilt.
     There are not many parts of quilting that I don't like, but I am not keen on piecing backs and usually buy wide backing fabric to avoid this.  However, sometimes I find some good deals on yardage and can buy enough to simply sew two pieces together to make backing large enough for my quilts.  I typically buy 5 yards if there is enough available.  
     If you have followed my blog, you will know that I rarely plan sizes, but just make quilts that end up whatever size they are.   This one was no exception, and my decision to use the old applique blocks in the corners made the quilt bigger than my normal lap quilt.  This will be wonderful for watching TV in the winter, but not so great for making a backing.  The fabric I purchased was not enough!   Horrors - I have to piece the backing!  
     I have a bin of "orphan blocks" and found that I had 11 solid color stars on black.  The raw blocks were about 12 inches square.   I am pretty sure these were a failed project from the mid 2000s.  I know I made a few throw pillows from these in 2008.  They have otherwise languished in the bin.   

    I decided to sew together 10 of the blocks to stick in the middle of the backing. 
     Of course, once I sewed them together, I liked the blocks and how they went together.  They didn't look nearly as awful as I imagined.
     Well, now they are part of this quilt.  But, they weren't wide enough, and I wanted some extra fabric on the sides to center them for the back.   So, I added a piece of the backing fabric to both sides.    I then added a larger pieced part of the backing to the top.  It turned out, this was also not quite wide enough, so I had to add a bit more to each side (to keep the stars centered).
  The piece I added to the bottom was wide enough.  So many seams in this backing piece!
And one more on the top that didn't make it into the photo!  
     The 90 inch wide Warm and Natural will work on this piece.  At least I don't have to also piece together the batting!  
     The back is finally finished, and big enough!
The finished backing.  
     Next step - putting it on my table and pinning it.
     I took a break mid day on Thursday and started fiddling around with solids and curves, just to try something out.    I became inspired, and just kept going.   I started with the one in the hot summer colors, and then ended up with 4!

Quite a contrast  - the freeform shapes and the "On Ringo Lake" blocks! 
     Today, after watching that wedding, I sewed around the forms with white.  Not quite sure where this is going, but someplace fun!   I feel compelled to complete this as a little wall hanging.  Stay tuned! 



  
Take care,
Gretchen