I have truly been blessed to attend numerous classes at the Woodland Ridge Retreat. If it were not for the continued employment of my husband the opportunities would never have occurred. Today’s story is about another one of my excursions.
Last summer I participated in the Judy Coates Perez, Paint and Print Palooza. I had a wonderful time learning how to dye, print and silk screen fabric.
Watching the applications go from start to finish was entertaining.
I even designed and cut out my own foam stamp.
I created a minimum of 12 new blocks of fabric. These are two of my favorites.
Rather than point out all of the quilt’s wonderful features I’m going to share them with you through photos. Enjoy!
Eight of my favorite blocks. Click on any photo to watch a slide show of the gallery.
Last but not least, here is the finished art quilt.
I am so pleased with the final version of my art piece. My finished art quilt measures 64 x 47”. Hidden inside this family of blocks are oodles of special features. Click on the photo to enlarge it and see the many details.
Cleaning the house can be a lot of work but it looks and feels so good when the task is complete. Every now and then I take a look at my blog to see what needs refreshing and what should be removed. Recently I updated a number of my documents and refreshed the appearance of my blog page. As a result of my efforts I think everything looks cleaner now and more organized.
Some of the items that were changed reside in the uppermost area of my page—often called the Menu. These items provide links to very important information that may not always be noticed. Here’s a list:
Many of the tasks (i.e. the gallery) took a great deal of time. The process of updating or adding my photos to the gallery created a lot of extra posts. You may have noticed a large number of them in your mailbox. I’m sorry if their volume was overwhelming. If I stay on top of this task the frequency of gallery posts should stay minimal. On the other hand the frequent posts not only took care of a housekeeping task but it also gave you another opportunity to see items that you may have missed.
I hope that you will have the opportunity to browse through some, if not all, of the Menu items. If you do I know you won’t be disappointed.
As always, thank you so much for sharing your time!
Ms. G., my longest running customer, was at it again! Just when I think she is finished making quilts for her family and friends she creates yet another one. Her quilts are always so imaginative, so creative.
The specimen she presented recently was made for a young man with many interests. As you will see from the photos he enjoys zombies, Minecraft, the Greenbay Packers, Milwaukee Brewers, among other things. She even added a tie and a hand-made block created by the young man.
Ms. G and I put a lot of thought into the thread colors and stitch patterns. Our plan was to choose colors that would blend well with the fabrics and stitch patterns that would accentuate her artistic design. I think we met both of our goals. The quilt measures 72″x 57″. Take a look.
Well, what do you think?
I’m very happy that you were able to stop by to see Ms. G’s latest masterpiece. Thank you Ms. G. for allowing me to work with another one of your projects.
There is a local fabric store that is celebrating their first anniversary in business. To honor this anniversary they have offered a challenge. The challenge is to create a quilt measuring no larger than 20” x 20”. The deadline to submit entries is March 31, 2018. All projects must include this fabric.
So How Come?
Sound familiar? Sure it does! It is almost identical to the challenge I am running on this blog.
So how did I let myself get involved in another Mystery Challenge? I have frequented this store many times to search out fabrics for my ongoing projects. Their inventory includes many unusual prints which makes them a great resource. I’ve often been able to find just the right item to fit my needs. I also receive their newsletters.
In one of their emails they shared information about their upcoming anniversary as well as the opportunity to participate in their Mystery Challenge. As incentive to encourage participation they are offering cash prizes. The thought of winning cash probably draws people in but there is a small catch…an entrance fee. It’s not incredibly expensive. Just makes the cost of a fat quarter a bit much if one doesn’t follow through with the challenge.
The chance of winning money, surprisingly, is not my reason to join. The fabric wasn’t the draw either because I’m not particularly fond of the print or the colors. Gaining exposure through the judging process is what drew my attention. After tossing the idea around in my head, over and over again, I finally decided to take a leap. So here I am creating another project.
improvisation challenges you to rethink your common practices
Those were only a few of the words Sherri uses to describe improv. She also describes improv in this way:
Commitment on the Edge of the Unknown (page 97)
Where Should I Start?
The best place to start with a book is usually at the beginning. Like most books Sherri’s is divided into chapters, or scores, as she refers to them. I have read Sherri’s book from cover to cover many times. Many of the processes in her book The Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters: A Guide to Creating, Quilting, and Living Courageously are very familiar to me. The scores on curved piecing were the most intriguing though. Having already been exposed to the others I have decided to skip ahead and jump right into the fire. I’m going to begin with the “unknown.”
Score # 9
Using Sherri’s book as my inspiration I am going to follow her “Score # 9” to create my first “curved piece.” This will be a learning experience and a great opportunity to expand my horizons. So, let’s get started.
My first task was to harvest fabrics from my inventory to pair with the assigned fabric. I pulled some pinks, greens, oranges and blues. The focus fabric has hints of lime green incorporated in the pattern. Since lime green is one of my favorites I made sure that color was included.
I used my camera to take both color as well as mono photos of my fabrics to analyze them for their values. My hope was to achieve a well-rounded selection from the start.
Twisted Threads Colors Selection
Twisted Threads Mono Tones
Here’s how my color choices stacked up.
After choosing my fabrics it was time to get the construction process started.
Let’s Cut Fabric
I didn’t exactly follow Sherri’s instructions to a tee. She suggests using a scissors rather than a rotary cutter. I tried doing that but wasn’t fond of how my strips turned out. It is possible that if I had my scissors sharpened I may have been more successful. Not wanting to be bothered with that now I chose to use my rotary cutter. Keeping that sharp is much easier. I also used a ruler. Sherri believes in cutting her fabrics free-hand but once again I wasn’t pleased with that outcome either. Aren’t I a rebel!
I created many sets of wedge strips; here’s one of them.
Below is a larger selection.
Next I stitched groupings of wedge strips together.
Notice all the pins. Sherri uses loads of pins to temporarily hold her wedge strips together. This makes it easier to keep the strips aligned while stitching. Of course each pin is removed just before the needle reaches it. The more pins the better.
This is what a strip looked like after it was stitched but before it was pressed open.
I made multiple sets of wedge strips using different arrangements of fabric. The photo above shows some of them.
Composing A Design
After building my inventory of wedge strips it was time to start composing a design. I placed all of the strip sets on my design wall and played around with different arrangements. As I found groupings that I liked I took them to my sewing machine to stitch them together. Many times the attaching of the strips meant there were sections that needed removing. Those were trimmed using my rotary cutter. The removed strips were saved and added in new areas.
The whole process of pinning, stitching and trimming went on for hours. Each adjustment or addition changed my piece in dramatic ways.
Once I had a design that I was happy with I auditioned various fabrics to use for the background. I even enlisted the help of my hubby to narrow down the options. He had many great insights to share. I guess he’s been listening to me after all! 🙂 With a background chosen I was ready to proceed with the quilting.
I decided to fuse my design to the background fabric. Before doing so I turned under the raw edges 1/4” and pressed them in place. Next I hand stitched the outer edge to my background with a dark purple thread. Once my wedge design was securely fastened I used a variegated yellow thread to quilt it. On the background fabric I echoed around my center design with a matching, variegated purple thread.
After the quilting was complete I trimmed off the excess fabric; remember my piece couldn’t be larger than 20” x 20”. The raw edges were then protected by facings. A label and hanging sleeve were also added. This is how my piece looked when it was finished.
I’m sure you have probably noticed, from the labels on the photos above, that I have given this piece the name Twisted Threads. As I was creating my piece the process of cutting and turning the various groupings every direction brought to mind a vision of twisted threads. Twisted Threads then seemed like the natural choice for a name so that’s where the name came from.
Part of creating art is the evaluation process that comes at the end. On page 20 Sherri says:
Never judge a work as good or bad.
Instead she recommends that you
evaluate your work in a non-judgmental way.
She uses these questions to evaluate her pieces:
What surprised me?
What did I discover or learn?
What was satisfying about the process or outcome?
What was dissatisfying?
If dissatisfied, what can I do differently next time to be more satisfied?
Where do I want to go from here?
I found the process of creating my curved art piece challenging and interesting all at the same time. The steps taken to make the wedged strips was fun to follow. I enjoyed seeing how the different color combinations changed with the addition of new strips. Stitching the curved pieces together was the area that stretched me the most. Merging the concave edges with those that were convex is what tried my patience. This was a much slower process than I was used to but its results were far more rewarding.
If you had asked me right after I had finished my curved piece if I would be making another I probably would have said, “No!” Now that I have had some time to evaluate my experience and think about what I would do differently, my answer would be, “You Bet!”
As I stated earlier, merging the curved edges together into one was the most challenging. To help make the process easier in the future I would strive to create gentler curves. The curves with the more pronounced angles were the hardest to manage. If those were eliminated the experience would be much less stressful.
I also would resist the temptation to use up all of the trimmed-off segments. My piece, as it turned out, has so many different angles merging into one another. Each one of those sections is screaming for attention. If I had added breathing-room via the use of solid colors I believe my piece would have been much more relaxing to look at.
Moving forward I would like to improve my skills for the techniques that I have learned. I’d also like to explore the addition of bias strips as a means of adding negative space. My next attempt at creating a curved piece will most likely be on a larger scale. There will be no need to stay within the 20” x 20” dimensions.
There’s my evaluation. Time now to enter my project in the contest.
I am always so thankful for your visits and the wonderful comments you share. Your participation is very much appreciated!
I was once a subscriber to Missouri Star Quilt Company’s Block magazine. The magazines I received are still resting on the reclaimed cabinet in my office. Shown below are some of them.
I’ve spent many hours browsing the pages of each one of those books. On the back covers I wrote the names of the quilts I might oneway like to make.
One of the many quilts I fell in love with was the Teacup quilt, published in the Fall Vol 1 Issue 5 magazine. As you can see by the above photo it was one of the projects I listed on the back cover.
Let’s Make It!
Having fallen in love with the Teacup pattern I set-out to make one for myself. After browsing the Missouri Star Quilt Company’s website I chose a grouping of fabrics to purchase for my project. Buying the fabric, for me, is always the easy part. Finding the time to make it is what’s hard.
I had the fabrics for the quilt sitting in a tub for more than a year. Last summer, on one of my sewing retreats, I finally was able to get started. The quilt was a fun and easy quilt to assemble. Unfortunately the pattern has an error. It wasn’t until I had all of the blocks made that I discovered it.
A Pattern Error!
As I laid out the blocks to decide on their placement I realized I only had half of the blocks the quilt pattern called for. Being puzzled by this revelation I went back to the book to figure out where I went wrong. As I studied the pattern I realized that the quantity of fabric called for in the pattern was incorrect. The pattern listed only one package of 10 1/2″ squares (aka layer cake). In order to make the correct number of blocks I should have purchased two packages.
Letter to the Company
I contacted the company to point out the error. They thanked me for the information and credited my account for $5. I guess the $5.00 was supposed to make me feel better. $5.00 was not going to make it possible for my quilt to ever be the size I was anticipating.
No Longer Available!!!
Since I waited so long to actually start making the quilt the fabrics had since gone out of print and were no longer available. On top of that I had purchased enough fabric to make the quilt backing to the correct size. Obviously I can use the extra fabric on another project, but that’s not the point. Had I known that my quilt would be much smaller I obviously wouldn’t have purchased as much. Thus, their $5.00 compensation paled in comparison to my level of disappointment and the amount of money spent on this quilt.
MSQC’s Pattern Corrections
Missouri Star Quilt Company publishes a list of pattern corrections for its subscriber to refer to. As of today the error that I found is not listed on that Missouri Star Quilt Company’s pattern correction list. I’m disappointed that my revelation has not been shared on their website. If you decide to make the quilt yourself make sure to adjust the amount of fabric that you purchase. Otherwise you too will be disappointed.
Ok, enough about my disappointment! Let’s get back to my very pretty quilt.
In December of 2017 I was able to finally find time to finish my Teacup quilt. Using a straight-line geometric pattern, swirls, a paisley design and white thread I quilted my Teacup project on my longarm machine. Here’s how my sweet little quilt looks now.
Throwing aside the disappointments associated with my experience, I must say that this darling little project sits very high on my list of favorite quilts. I am so pleased to have it in my arsenal of finished quilts. 🙂
Thank You so much for visiting with me today. I look forward to our next encounter.
Note: At the beginning of this post I mentioned that I was once a subscriber to the Block magazine. My experience with one of their patterns and the company’s failure to correct the issue had nothing to do with cancelling my subscription. I made the decision to stop receiving the magazine because I felt I had more than enough ideas for possible quilts to make in the future; let alone finding the time to make them all. I’ve also found improv quilting to be my preferred avenue to follow. I’m not saying I would never make a pattern quilt again; it’s just not as likely as it once was.
The Stars and Stripes Table Quilt was assembled from 25 blocks, nine of which are stars. Surrounding the outer perimeter is a narrow red border. Protecting the back is a scrappy, pieced backing created from leftover fabrics. This smashing little specimen is the fifth of five quilts I received from my Mom. The first was Pam’s Nine Patch, the second one was the American Flag Picnic Throw, the third was the Harvest Melody Quilt and the fourth was the French Cottage Garden Quilt.
This was one of the easiest quilts to assemble. My Mom had most of the segments already stitched. My main job was to piece the blocks together to form the quilt top. Having so little to do made this one a breeze to work with. To jazz up the quilt I used leftover fabrics to piece together a scrappy quilt back.
To finish it off I quilted this project using a variety of stitch patterns. In the outside border I stitched a continuous, single row of swirls reaching all the way around the entire perimeter
Within the body of the quilt is a roaming series of geometric shapes.
These shapes help to accentuate and unify the quilt’s design.
I just love the overall appearance and outcome of this table quilt. From the energetic visual impact of the quilt itself to the uniquely created scrappy backing
this quilt shines with interest. As you can tell I just love this quilt.
Well, that’s the last of my Mom’s quilts. I’ve taken the time to show her each one of them. Her reaction was, not surprisingly, one of joy. Unfortunately she doesn’t remember starting all of them but that’s the way it goes. I only hope that I can be as alert and active as she is if I reach that age.
Here’s a collage of all five quilts.
American Flag Picnic Blanket
Harvest Melody Quilt Top
French Cottage Garden Quilt Top
Stars and Stripes Table Quilt
Thank you for sharing your time with me! I always look forward to our visits.
My Mom has been purging items from her home for a while now. Among those items were five unfinished Quilts. This quilt was one of the five. To get started with the project I familiarized myself with the pattern’s design, and instructions then worked to get my bearings on which steps were left to complete. From there it was just a matter of time before the bag of parts were assembled into a quilt top.
The quilt, as designed by the author, was supposed to have two borders. I made the decision to only use one. I quilted the body of the French Cottage Garden by echoing around the half-square triangles.
In the border I stitched a continuous line of improv triangles to carry through the quilt’s theme.
The backing of the quilt is a soft green fabric with a floral design.
This last photo makes it easier to identify my stitch patterns. With this quilt finished I have only one more to reveal. That quilt shall have it’s day very soon.
Thank you so much for sharing your time. I look forward to our next visit!
From a bag of scraps to a finished item this project has had quite a ride. The top, all by itself, is gorgeous. I just love the soft feel of the fabrics as my fingers lightly stroke their surface. The visual impact of the colors is equally as pleasing. Their varied hues entertain my eyes with an explosive pallet of color.
With three of my senses already engaged, how could this quilt get any better? The answer just has to be quilting! Being the creator of the quilt means I am in-tune with every fiber and every inch of its surface. This connection gives me an advantage when it comes to finishing it. From day one my mind was day dreaming about how I would quilt it. For Bits and Pieces it seemed only natural to compliment its design with straight-lines and geometric shapes.
Lets take a look at my Bits and Pieces to see how it turned out.
I think you will, agree after seeing the above photo, that this is a warm and earthy art piece.
There are so many of my favorite colors represented in the above photo. The bright orange and gold the calming blue and lively green. All of them work together to create a grouping that will continuously draw your eye from one area to another.
This photo was taken just slightly east of the previous one. The black and white floral fabric is another of my favorites. I like how the author used only two colors to create this striking, organically flowing design. My love for the fabric can be evidenced by its repetitious placement throughout my piece.
Many of the blocks within Bits and Pieces morphed drastically from their original versions. The two blocks on the right are great examples. Unfortunately since I failed to document their journey I can’t prove it to you. You will just have to believe me.
The area captured in this photo can be found north of the previous snapshots. In the bottom left corner is my reformulated log cabin block. I spoke about the block in more than one of my previous posts. Finding a design that the block and I could agree with was a lengthy process. I’m so glad I didn’t give up on it. This final version is spectacular.
The other blocks in this photo went through their own versions of reincarnation. They too are far more interesting now than their original versions.
I love all of the blocks in Bits and Pieces…but if I had to choose a favorite or two, I would nominate these two for that honor. I just adore the bright orange alongside the cooling mist of the blue in the adjacent block. The blue adds pizzazz with it’s bursting white images. Strutting through it’s center is a section of my original strip-pieced fabric.
The orange block, with it’s unevenly pieced borders, sports an interestingly pieced center section. Smack-dab in the center of the block is another section of my strip-pieced fabric.
The back of a quilt is not typically something that would draw our focus. From a longarm quilters perspective it’s often the best place to observe our work. With this quilt the solid color allows the abstract stitching to take center stage; there are no patterned fabrics to distract from the design. I’m quite pleased with the reflection I see in my stitching. From this photo can you see that my quilting was just as earthy as the fabrics I aimed to accentuate.
I had so much fun photographing this quilt. The fabrics are just so rich and inviting. I know I went way overboard with the quantity of photos that I took. Because I kept my shutter rolling it was so hard narrowing down the number of photos to share. I know that I have only scratched the surface of the possible angles I could have taken. Thankfully, I’m so very proud to have Bits and Pieces hanging in my entryway where I can see it everyday. Anytime I want to get a closeup all I have to do is pause and allow my eyes to take in the beauty of my Bits and Pieces.
A Slow Rendition
Well, there you have it; the finale of my story about Bits and Pieces. It has taken quite a while to get us to this point. Well-thought-out art develops slowly and so too should the telling of its story. There is no need to hurry along. Hasty renditions loose sight of the many important details and as a result the reader looses touch with the impact the author desires to portray.
I have been so enriched by the journey Bits and Pieces and I have taken. My exposure to the world of improv art has been enriched through this adventure. Having successfully created another art piece, the experience has fanned the flames that fuel my desire to continue on this path. I hope one day to share my enthusiasm for this piece with the owner of Handloom Batiks. She is ultimately the spark that is responsible for the birth of Bits and Pieces. Without her fabrics my piece would not be as rich in texture and interest.
Woohoo! What a Ride!:)
Your Participation Means A Lot
I hope you have enjoyed following along! I love sharing my time with you and receiving your comments. Thank You for being a faithful follower!
For those that just joined in or those that would like to relive my quilt’s journey I have provided links below to the posts that have woven this story. Please enjoy!
Harvest Melody is another one of the unfinished quilts I inherited from my Mom. When I received the quilt the majority of the pattern pieces had already been cut out and some of the components had been stitched together.
Picking-up where my Mom had left off I finished assembling the remaining pieces to create the quilt top. The pattern was designed to include more than one border. Rather than attaching all of them I decided to only add one. I used left over fabrics to piece it together.
To quilt Harvest Melody I echoed around the leaves. A pattern of continuous square swirls was stitched in the border. For a binding I used a purple fabric. On the back is a fabric with multiple colored squares. Lucky for me I had this fabric in my stash which is always a bonus. Take a look!
Before starting the process of completing this quilt I wasn’t particularly fond of it. The colors in the quilt as well as the pattern are not something I would be drawn to. I am, after all, an improv quilter at heart. However, I must say that my opinion of the quilt morphed dramatically after it was quilted. The designs created by the stitching added a layer of drama that greatly enhanced the quilt’s design. While still not one of my favorites, I am happy with it’s outcome and am honored to have it for my own.