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Friday, June 22, 2018

Hey, Wassily! #1

     I have continued on my free cutting experimental quilt pieces, still inspired by the workshop by Maria Shell in April.  I started with just playing around with a odd shape, and deciding to see about going around it.  I pulled some summery solids inspired by nature:
Flowers my husband gave me for my birthday.

A recent sunset over Lake Erie.

    I started just putting pieces around a center shape that I just cut without any template.



After I finished that, I tried a different shape, with the same fabrics in different positions.   It is hard to get rid of the lumpiness in come of the inner layers!
I decided not to worry about how much fabric was being cut away, bur rather, tried to make interesting shapes.

Then I put the two pieces side by side and tried to decide what to do.
I made two more pieces, and then started setting them into a white border.    Easier said than done.  Fortunately, I had lots of white Kona.
  They were all such odd shapes, so trying to figure out how to put them into one piece was a challenge.
    Eventually I got to a place where the 4 shapes were all sewn together.  So many narrow little pieces to make it fit.
   This being my first try at this, the shapes, especially in the first block,  don't lay quite flat, and I tried to quilt them into submission.  It didn't really work, but I did discover a method for quilting that worked better than going round and round after this one block.   Notice how the quilting in the other blocks are within each separate piece.  

     I was moved to add that little piece of green on the one block, and quilted that with tiny bubbles, in contrast to the matchstick quilting on the rest of the piece.  I also experimented with changing direction of the quilting in larger white blocks, and ended up binding it in my go-to black and white stripe.  Unfortunately, some of the orange shows through the white, or else it bled.   Now I know to be more careful about pressing direction!   I did block it a bit, which got rid of some of the bumps, but the first block I did is still lumpy.  Good to know I got better by the 4th block!  
    I quilted using thread matching the fabric in both the top and in the bobbin.   I used a light gray Kona for the back.  
 
Here is a close up of some of the quilting.
    The final piece measures 20.5 square.  I put a picture on instagram (snugharborquilts - please follow me!) and asked for name suggestions.  I had been thinking of "hot fun in the summertime" and got a few more great ideas.  But,  @raspberrypie suggested "Kandinsky's Child", which caused me to google Kandinsky's work, some of which I had seen in my design class last semester.  Up popped his Color Study, Squares with Concentric Circles, 1913.  

Wassily Kandinsky, 1913, Color Study, Squares with Concentric Circles
     Love, love, love!!!!!!  Now I want to continue to play with this concept, and try out different color combos.    As an homage to Kandinsky, I am calling this piece Hey, Wassily!  #1, with the thought that I'll have a whole series of these done by the end of the year.  

    Before that happens, I am finishing up a piece for a guild challenge, which is due to be presented at the early July picnic.  The theme is "Mad for Plaid".  I am using some fabrics I purchased a few years ago in Scotland.  I'll share the finished piece soon!    I am also getting ready to pick pieces to submit to the Erie County Fair, and someday, I'll finish the "On Ringo Lake" quilt!  

   Enjoy the beginning of the summer! 

Take care,
Gretchen 


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