A View of My Quilt Life

Thursday, August 29, 2013

SQUEEEE!!!! It's in...

My entry for the AQS Modern Quilt Challenge has been juried in!!! 
 I got the official notification letter via email yesterday.  My quilt will be joining 112 others hanging at AQS QuiltWeek Des Moines, October 2-5, 2013.  Not only will they be judged, a number of them will be selected to travel as an exhibit for a year.  I'm excited that I even made the cut!!
Why, you might ask  - not because I'm that good but because this was my first concentrated effort to do a 'Modern' on purpose. 

I'm a quilter, I do a wide range of styles.  I don't usually define myself with a particular group or trend.  I do traditional, traditional with a twist, art, contemporary, modern, pieced, applique, mixed, etc.  I use batiks, novelty prints, hand dyes, classical prints, civil war reproductions (this one is very new to me as part of a challenge), solids, florals, etc.  I design on graph paper with colored pencils.  I don't follow patterns as they can make me twitchy.  I have to do it 'my way' or 'make it better/me'. 
Oh now wait, I'm not saying that my way is better, as on occasion as a result of my decisions, I have ended up:
1. trying to re-invent the wheel which we all know is stupid, or
2. short of an impossible to find, out of print, desperately needed to finish this design fabric, or
3. tearing my hair out, muttering unprintable words causing DH, dogs and cats to nervously tiptoe around the house.
It's just the way my mind works. And believe me, it's pretty scary in there! Like right now, the design wall is blank,
 the 'Summer Stripes' blocks are hanging out in piles (and messy ones at that) on the cutting table. 
 Because I am struggling to get a layout that I like, because I couldn't just follow the inspiration quilt & I *had* to make over 200 blocks to do it my way.
I need to get back to the design wall later today.  I got myself into this mess and I'll have to arrange myself out of the mess and on to a quilt I like.

And I'm rambling, because it's Juried In and I can't help myself, so I think I'll go touch some fabric and try to calm down.
Besides, I need to make a hanging sleeve...

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Progress at the Design Wall - slow and bumpy

"Summer Stripes" blocks are on the design wall and off the design wall and back on the design wall. Rinse and Repeat!
I started with a random light / dark layout
Can't handle randomness - big surprise there - NOT!

I tried a light / dark color rows layout
So not working for me.

I tried a color wash layout
Better - getting there - but needs work. And my design wall needs to be 4 times bigger to do the whole color wash properly.  I didn't want to stop and address that issue today so I removed half of the blocks, moved everything else over and continued.  I am having a hard time getting the Sunset blocks to blend in.  It took awhile for me to figure it out but this is the color I miss cut the blocks for & then tried to salvage them by cutting them down, which resulted in not enough dark blocks.  Since the Sunset color is just so far from the other colors in intensity, I may end up removing them entirely.
Looks like I need to resolve the design wall issue before I get this laid out to suit me.  There should be a large hunk of flannel somewhere around here...


Monday, August 26, 2013

"Summer Stripes" blocks ready to go

The "Summer Stripes" blocks are ready for layout on the design wall! 

The inspiration quilt used 36 - 8 1/2 inch (cut size) blocks on a straight setting, an 1 1/2 inch inner solid color border and a 6 inch straight stripe border. 
"Summer Stripes" will have 221 - 4 1/4 inch (cut size) blocks, with 40 side setting triangles and 4 corner setting triangle because I am setting the blocks on point. Haven't made any decisions on the triangles or borders yet. There are blocks of different values within each color, as well as an
 'In' block
 and an 'Out' block.
Time to start playing!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Friday, August 23rd

DUH  Moment Ahead!!

You know how you know something but yet forget about it nonetheless?  Yep – happened to me just this morning.  A few weeks back, while cleaning out the sewing area, I ran across an unopened package of rotary cutter blades.  It got me thinking about my cutters, trying to remember when I had last changed the blades.  Given the package hadn’t been opened it was a more than fair bet, I hadn’t EVER changed the blades.  Really??!!  That’s just crazy.  I mean I am forever changing the needles in my sewing machine, fishing lint out of its nooks and crannies, cleaning scissor blades, sharpening pencil points, etc.  And the rotary blades hadn’t been changed since I bought them. WOW.  So I changed them out, carefully discarding the old nasty blades. And promptly forgot about them.

 Until this morning, that is.  Yes, I had been wondering why I had been struggling to cut fabric but I thought my mats were just getting too old and grooved up. NOPE!!  It was the tired old dull blades.  So when I started cutting the  strips for the ‘as of yet unnamed quilt made from Siren Song collection’ (going to have to come up with a simpler working title), I darn near sliced my way to the far reaches of the sewing table with a tiny fraction of effort.  Which means I have to relearn cutter control and speed and fast.  As it was, I miss cut a few of the strips as the new sharp blade seemed to have a mind of its own and wandered off course, away from the ruler, dang it! Note to Self – Write down the date of blade changes!!

And then there’s Math.

I love math.  I sat down to recalculate the block size and layout for the ‘as of yet unnamed quilt made from Siren Song collection’.  Hang on – digression from Math for a minute – let’s get a working title.  ‘Summer Stripes’. That will work for now.

Okay back to Math.  The stripe fabric has a half yard repeat and I have 5/8 yard pieces (more is on the way).  Cutting 9 ½ inch blocks yielded 4 blocks per cut strip, which works well since you need 4 quarter square cut from the same side of the strip for the pattern to work.   I started my calculations thinking I could cut 6 ½ inch blocks and everything would be hunky-dory. NOPE.  The usable WOF is 42 inches, yielding 6 blocks per strip. Since 6 is not evenly divided by 4, the 6 ½ inch block wouldn’t work.  Of course, I didn’t realize this until I had cut into the Sunset color.  Like I said, more fabric is on the way and I ordered more than just the Twilight I didn’t have.  Sometimes it’s good to have a fabric obsession and it’s always good to triple check your math – just in case.

So now, most of the blocks are cut to 5x5 and are ready to be sub-cut in groups of 4 to be reassembled with the matching strip pieces.


Thursday, August 22, 2013

Road Trip Detours or How Long Does it Take to Drive 120 Miles

Since I drove up from Harbor Country, Michigan to Grand Rapids on Interstate 196, I decided that to take a different route home - Highway 131.

 I had to be back to my folk's place Thursday evening and it's only 120 miles taking the new route. My decision was based on a few things - I love exploring new routes, I had a bookmark/coupon from Dancing Dogs Quilt Shop, and I wanted to see the Gun Lake Casino. How much longer could that take?  The route up was 106 miles and took an hour and a half. So I figured the new route would be an hour and forty-five minutes plus shopping time, for a total of 2 and a half hours - putting me home around 3:30-ish - perfect!  Ah, optimism is a fun state of mind.
On the Road - I was able to finally drag myself out of the Quilt Show right around 1 pm - it was soooo hard to leave. I could have easily stayed until close on Saturday.  That would put me at my folks about 3:30 p.m. Traffic was minimal, road conditions clear and directions easy.  Off I went, heading south and made it about 20 minutes before I found the first distraction - a Western tack and saddle shop.

Off the Road - I saw Jackson's Western Store (Wayland, MI) billboard advertising boots, boots and more boots. The place was huge and well stock, including a great pair of RED cowboy boots that I almost drooled on. I'm always on the lookout for used saddles of many kinds.

On and Off the Road -  Back on the rode and just a few miles south, I stopped briefly at the Gun Lake Casino to check it out.
On the Road and Off Again - Just a bit further down the road, I pulled off the highway again to check out the Dancing Dogs Quilt Shop (Plainwell, MI). What a neat little quilt store!

The staff was friendly and they cut fat quarters.  A quilt hanging on the wall really caught my eye. They call it the Colored Pencil Stripe Quilt.  It made from the Michael Miller Siren Song Group, utilizing 8 inch finished blocks.  While the sample was cool looking, I didn't like the larger blocks so I decided to buy the kit anyway & just resize the blocks, recalculate the yardage and cuts, alter the layout, oh and I later found some yardage in two other colors (giving me a total of seven colors to work with) that I neglected to buy while I was there. I wonder why I can never just leave well enough alone...

I was told Plainwell has some awesome ice cream that I didn't stop & try but now have one more reason to head north :)  I did some research after the fact (insert head smack here) and discovered that the Plainwell Ice Cream Co. has been in business for 36 years, have over 30 flavors, was voted in the top 5 ice creams in all of Michigan and is located just blocks from Dancing Dogs Quilt Shop.  Now I really, really need to head back north.

 So back to fabric -
Here's the final selection I picked out of the collection (I added Twilight & Grass). I love how the colors actually run together from fabric to fabric.  I'm house sitting for friends this weekend and planning on getting started on this quilt. Just need to do some math...
On the Road - Back on the road, it was time to put some miles behind me. And then I realized, I really didn't have a schedule to keep (for once) and there was a sign for the Lemon Creek Winery (Berrien Springs, MI) and they didn't close until 6 p.m.
Off for an Adult Beverage Adventure  - I had always wanted to taste their wines & I wasn't disappointed! I focused on the sweet wines on this trip so I have a reason to stop back and taste the dry whites & reds.  They craft 28 different wines including 2 ice wines. Of the wines I tasted, I brought home the Cherry Wine and the Peach Spumante.

Okay, so how long does it take to drive 120 miles  - this time, about 5 hours! I think that may be a record for me.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Home from AQS Grand Rapids

Made it home from Michigan okay - still not totally unpacked or decompressed yet. I attended the show on Wednesday & part of Thursday, as I needed to be back home by Friday late afternoon to meet obligations for the whole weekend (sit still? NEVER!!). The drive home had a few detours along the way - but that's another post.
The show was amazing!!  Go to the AQS website to view the winning quilts and check out AQS on Facebook for multiple show related posts including the Zumba flash mob.
While there were many things to do & see at the show (and don't forget it was also Restaurant Week in Grand Rapids), my most favorite thing was seeing the Egyptian Tentmakers return again in person.  Watching Tarek & Hosam stitch is simply mesmerizing!  These two men are warm & gracious, quite comfortable at being stared at for hours on end, for several days running.  And the exhibit of the Tentmakers work (Khayamiya) was beautiful.  I am grateful to the AQS for bringing their work to America.  The true highlight of seeing the Tentamkers was my opportunity to sit and actually stitch on Hosam's piece as he watched.  He said my stitches were good but, of course I couldn't even come close to matching his speed!

AQS is the exclusive representative of the Tentmakers work here in the United States and has a beautiful selection of their work available for purchase on their website.  They also have 2 books and a DVD available.
QuiltWeek in Grand Rapids is a great show to attend. They offer a wide range of classes and lectures, as well as hundreds of vendors of every size, shape & products. The DeVos Convention Center is conveniently located a few blocks off Interstate 196, with parking right underground. The facility is large, well laid out, bright and has numerous restrooms (that were constantly attended to & spotless). The AQS hangs a variety of quilt exhibits, not just the competition quilts.  This year they had exhibits of  the Miniature Collection from the National Quilt Museum, Applique Artistry by Patricia Campbell, The Silk Road Tour Exhibit, and AQS Authors' Exhibit, to name just a few.  The entire show was very inspiring.  Next year, AQS QuiltWeek - Grand Rapids will be held August 20-23, 2014.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

On the Road to AQS Quilt Week Grand Rapids!

Yesterday was departure day for my trip to American Quilt Society's Quilt Week in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  A total of 227 miles to Grand Rapids, 121 miles down - 106 miles to go. And that will make it a very early morning tomorrow if I want to get there before the 9 am opening, which of course I do!

Today, in exchange for my overnight way stop I have some lawn mowing & yard work to do. And then there's some quilt designing, a book to read, a glass of wine, some hand piecing I brought along and a dvd or two to keep me company.  The hand piecing project has been ongoing, or more accurately off and on-going for a few years. It's a project I started while my husband was hospitalized for hip surgery. That turned in to 6 surgeries in 26 months time. I would carry it along to hosopital, dr. appts., therapies sessions & occasional car rides.  Wil made the leather pouch that I carry it in, which protects the sharp pointy bits and fits into my backpack.

The fabric came from a five fabric fat quarter bundle of the blues & fairy frost white  - I added the purple for a bit of spark - from Emmatown Fabrics in Emma, Indiana. It's a neat little Amish general store that carries a bit of everything from clocks to thread.  They have a large selection of polyester fabrics for clothing and a nice selection of cottons for quilting.  I've since purchased more yardage of the fabrics as I wasn't orginally sure what it was going to be.  I decided - what the heck, let's make a full size quilt out of only 5 (then 6) fabrics, hand piece & hand quilt it and make it out of 2" cut squares so they finish out at an inch and a half.  It alternately goes fast and slow and sometimes grinds to a halt for a bit. I'm only carrying some of the project with me - there is a stack of 16 patches at home.

I also need to do some color matching for my next barn quilt - well, really a shed quilt. Once I match the current shed color to a paint sample I can build my palette. Here's the shed - just standing there waiting for some embellishment.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Barn-ette Quilt

It done! 156 little squares contained on a 24" square of wood - just needs several coats of clear protective finish & it will be ready to deliver & get hung in place.
I did have an 'AH HA' moment. Remember that in order for my design to fit the predetermined size (already cut & primed the wood square), I ended up with a 5/8's inch grid. The entire square surface had to be marked - how to do that as accurately as possible?  With a quilt ruler of course - DUH!!  Sometimes it takes a minute or two for the logical side of the brain to catch up with the creative side, especially with a lack of sleep & no where near enough tea factored into the equation.
I used Behr interior paint samples, starting with matching the Behr Barn Red to an interior Behr color, then finding a golden yellow & a forest green.  I used white to create the two lighter cream shades & the lighter green. I thought originally I was going to use 3 shades of green but I didn't like the lightest shade so I cut it from the palette. To achieve the middle red, I mixed the Poppy red with the barn red color - it's okay but could have been just a hint brighter.
 Several hours later...
Here's the finished barn-ette quilt on point.

Here it is square - Not sure which way I like it better.

Most barn quilts I've seen are usually done with larger pieces - less complicated/busy blocks. But they are also much, much larger & on the side of a big, big barn. Since this is going on a barn-ette and Irish Chain is one of Martha's favorite quilt patterns - I couldn't resist doing this design.

Detour to a LQS

I was out running a few errands & doing the shopping earlier this week & made a quick detour to a LQS - Pieceful Gathering Quilt Shop (Fox River Grove, IL).  Over the past weekend, they held there 7th Annual Quilt Show & Open House and I need to pick up my Challenge entry. While I didn't win , it was a fun challenge & a great show with 97 quilts were entered.  The shop specializes in reproduction fabrics - mainly 1800's, including civil war era prints and early 1900's, including cute 30's prints. They also have a longarm machine on site & two experienced quilters to finish your tops.
The Challenge started back in January & ran for 4 months.  We had to select a neutral from a choice of 3 preselected prints and follow specific rules for each border - size (which followed the Fibonacci sequence), fabric, blocks to include.  I am planning on doing it again next year! Here's my entry from this year - Fibonacci Framed.

And of course, I couldn't resist browsing their selection for fabric for another quilt to make for next year's show. I found a few solids I like, some are Sahara cloth. Maybe a miniature...

As you might have guessed - I'm a Pre-Washer. And no, I don't want to open that kettle of Fat Quarters - I say 'To each, their own'!
Working on the barn quilt design Thursday afternoon & Friday but I can't post a picture quite yet as it's not yet finalized & I want to surprise Martha.  I will say it looks like it will be based on a 5/8" grid - that will be interesting!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Back to the sewing area

And what a sight it was.  It's funny who when you are so engrossed in several projects with tight deadlines, you seem to overlook the devastation you are wrecking while creating. Okay so maybe it's just a me thing.  There it was piles of stuff everywhere - all over the cutting table, piled on the chair, stacked on the totes, falling off the wall ledge, overrunning the sewing table and even still in the traveling tote.  I had come downstairs with my graph paper to work on the barn quilt design, looked around and gave up any idea on drawing until the room was back under control!
While I don't have a dedicated studio room, the small downstairs family room is strictly my territory which means it was all my mess - no blaming the husband.  While cleaning, I decided to rearrange my cutting table & raised it up on bed blocks.  It may end up to high for cutting but I gained a bit more storage space underneath.  Two hours later - the space is back in order & ready for a new project.
Lately, I noticed my fabric stash has been getting hashed together as I pick through finding fabrics. That usually means its time to pull all the totes out of the garage and reorganize the whole stash.  While that sounds like a daunting task - and it does take the better part of the day - I found it's a great way to keep my stash current.  While reorganizing I make sure there is a box standing by - ready for fabrics that don't fit into upcoming projects or that are no longer my style or taste - for donating!  It keeps the stash organized, passes fabric along to others that can use it & frees up some space for a few new fabrics that are just waiting for me to buy them.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Still in between but something's coming

Still in the 'in between' state.
After slamming to finish two large quilts, a wall hanging, a Scot Pirate tailcoat, 6 head wraps and 4 shirts in the last two months, a few days away from the sewing room might be a good thing for my hands. The brain however is not taking a break. I have a few things lurking in the background that need some design time put in on them.
I don't follow a lot of blogs (yet) so I was catching up on some older posts on my dear friend Martha's hand weaving  blog (tandrhandweaving.blogspot.com) and ran across the post from Oct. 29, 2012 showing her brand new barnette that I need to design and paint a barn quilt for.  I have the wood cut & primed and it's been waiting for me.  I also prepped a second one for the shed for my folks place in Michigan, but that's not pressing.  Martha is an incredibly talented weaver, seamstress, cook, homesteader, knitter and yes, she quilts & paints too!  Trying to pick a quilt pattern for her has been a bit of a challenge but I think I finally have it narrowed down.  Mart has always been partial to the Irish Chain pattern but I wanted something a bit more detailed. And then I found 'Entwined', a variation Irish Chain pattern from the book "40 Fabulous Quick Cut Quilts" by Evelyn Sloppy. I plan on tweaking this a bit to fit the 24" square for the barnette and then add my own twist on it.  Just need to plot out the design on graph paper, pick some colors, plan my attack & get busy. 

Hopefully, I can get this to translate to the wood & not lose detail.  Wonder how I'm going to incorporate my twist into it.  Bet Martha's wondering the same thing!

Saturday, August 3, 2013

In between projects...

Well, here I am - in between projects and so I decided it was a fine time to start a blog. We'll see.

It has been a rather hectic 2 week stretch. The deadline for the AQS Modern Quilt Challenge was yesterday, August 2nd, I think by 5 p.m. Central Time.  I made it with about 4 hours to spare.

Nothing like seeing the challenge notice, hemming and hawing about it, finding perfect fabric at the IQF at Rosemont in late June, thinking about it, doodling around with the colored pencils and graph paper, thinking some more about it, finalizing the design, and then realizing I had 2 weeks to piece and quilt it. Oh and it turned out that my final design required more background fabric than I had and of course, it's hand dyed fabric and  just to prove I can be stubborn, I refused to resize the quilt smaller to make it work. AAACCKKK!!!

But with some luck (Thanks to Cherrywood Fabrics for some excellent customer service and fast shipping) and a very understanding husband, Quietude was completed and entered.  I'm please with it but of course there are a few things I would do differently - usually are - but overall it's okay.  The new background fabric is a few shades darker but the placement worked with the design. This is technically my first attempt at a 'Modern Quilt'.  For my next attempt I will be buying at least three yards of the neutral fabric...maybe four yards.