Post image for 15 Minutes Play Workshop

Continuing with the long-overdue QuiltCon catch-up theme, my second QuiltCon Workshop was 15 Minutes Play with Victoria Findlay Wolfe. I’ve been a member of the 15MP blog for a while, and took this workshop just for fun, which it was. Victoria is just as charming in person as you’d expect from her online presence, and I learned a few new tricks for making scrappy quilty fun.

I’d brought along a Dresden Plate template, which got put to use as I sliced and diced my way through some of the charm squares from the QC big-spenders’ swag bag. Here are the “blades” reassembled on my design wall at home, with various blues from the “large scraps” drawer mixed in.

DF-full

They have not been sewn up yet. I suspect they are destined for the “orphans & extras” bin. I’m feeling “meh” about them, although they’re an improvement over the original “so not me” charm pack the pinks and oranges started from.

Victoria very smartly brought a stock of her new templates with her, and I snapped up a large diamond (and a 5″ hexagon that I’ve been playing with recently, more on that another time), and made this large star block:

Star-full

One of these days I’ll rip out that one too-dark piece and replace it with something else. I’m iffy on this one, too, other than thinking that if I toss enough of this kind of stuff into that “orphans & extras” bin I’ll have enough to put together a Kitchen-Sink style slip-cover for my couch.

Not kidding at all. It will be totally awesome. Not that I’ve started on it yet, or anything like that.

First, I have to resist the temptation to start in on two or three projects inspired by Victoria’s new book on Double Wedding Ring Quilts. I’m particularly fond of this one (look at all that lovely orange!).

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Although I have no business contemplating another 90″ square quilt if I’m ever going to get a scrappy slipcover made for the couch…

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Post image for “Crossing Over”: Improvising from a Score

This is the quilt I made last year as a tester for the “Rhythmic Grid” score from Sherri Lynn Wood’s fabulous new book, The Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters. “Crossing Over” 40″x43″

Crossing Over quilt

The Rhythmic Grid score begins with the instructions to select fabrics in two color sets, each with a background color and two contrasting colors. For the background, I pulled two solids from the stash (both Kona, might be “boysenberry” and “fushia”). This would be an experiment in how not-neutral a background can be and remain functional as a background.

No one familiar with this blog will be surprised that my other fabrics are not solids. Even boysenberry and fuschia aren’t enough to keep me awake through an all-solids quilt, so I gave each set one crazy Kaffe Fassett stripe-ishy thing and one bright Philip Jacobs floral exuberance in hot orange/pinks. This is what happens when I attempt to go “modern”: I set out in that general direction and then veer wildly off-course.

ColorSets

In the “score,” Sherri provides general guidelines for creating block-ish units from Color set A and assembling them into a row, then expanding that row in a “rhythmic grid”. Cutting and construction is all done with NO RULERS, which is fun and delightfully wonkifying.

I did not love the early rows. There were times, when this project was in the ugly duckling phase, that I came close to abandoning it.

ugly-duckling

In the Improv Handbook, Sherri Lynn includes a set of questions to ponder at the completion of a project, as part of the creative learning and exploratory process. She asked her test-quilters to respond to these questions when we submitted our photos to her. Here’s what was on my mind about this process as “Crossing Over” finished it’s transformation from ugly duckling to happy swan.

Surprises: What surprised you about the process or the outcome?

When about 30% of what became the completed top was on the design wall, a subtle “rhythm” did emerge in the process. The layout was created one row at a time, as I carefully avoiding planning ahead, and after the first few rows were done, the quilt started to speak up — that evolving subtle rhythm made where/how to build the next stage very clear. I didn’t have to spend time pondering or wondering. After some inertia in the earliest stages the design developed vigor of its own in a way I had not expected.

rhythm-developing

Discoveries: What did you learn from the process or the outcome?

1. “If you think it’s ugly, you aren’t done yet.” At the completion of the second row I was tempted to abandon this project. It was clunky and ugly and gave no indication that it would get any better as it got larger. The queue of other projects wanting my attention is a very long one, which left me questioning whether continuing with this was a good use of my creative time. But with the addition of a third row, things started to gel, and I felt inspired to continue.

2. “When in doubt, rotate.”  This top was constructed vertically, with the purple section at top constructed first, then the colorshift to fuschia added to the bottom. At the point that the purple section was done, I rotated it 180-degrees, so what I’d originally thought was the top of the purple section became the bottom edge to which the fuschia was added. Then, when the entire top was done, something about it wasn’t quite right yet… although the piecing felt complete and it did not need more added. So I had the impulse to rotate the entire piece 90-degrees counterclock-wise to put the fuschia section on the right-hand side, and that’s when it felt “done.” In this new orientation the sashing looked to me like bridges over an infinite space, and that’s what inspired the quilting.

quilting-detail-04

Satisfactions: What aspects of the process or the outcome did I find most satisfying?

How much I love the finished piece! I expected this experiment to be fun and at least a little bit challenging, but I had no expectation that the result would be anything exceptional. I was in it for the process, and ended up falling deeply in love with the finished piece.

I’m also very happy with the quilting, and with the decision to use a faced edge treatment instead of added binding. Once the idea popped up to add Chinese-style clouds between the “bridges” it would not let go, and then metallic thread felt like the only option. The matching-color background quilting works better than I’d hoped as well.

cloud-detail-01

Dissatisfactions: What was I dissatisfied by? What would I do differently next time to be more satisfied?
Nothing! this was a fun process and I adore the finished quilt. Couldn’t be happier. The closer this came to completion, the more it evoked contemplation of spiritual transformation both within and beyond our physical experience.

quilting-detail-02

Score Adaptations: In what ways did I adapt the score to make it my own?

My color and fabric choices are very true to / representative of my style. Other than that, I chose to follow the “score” as closely as possible given it’s a loose, improvisational process. I’m very much a “do my own thing” quilter, and felt as a tester that I shouldn’t stray too many light-years away from what Sherri Lynn had provided as guidelines.

{Here I want to point out that while I was diligently following the score to the best of my ability, I was creating a quilt that looks VERY different from the other quilts made from this same score (a big reason Sherri Lynn’s book is so awesome). You can see the entire Rhythmic Grid gallery here.}

Next Steps: What aspects of the process or outcome do I want to explore in my next improvisational quilt?

I did not have time to try out the second variation that Sherry Lynn posted after we’d begun (making a whole bunch of blocks first, then arranging them to connect the lines). I think that would be interesting and fun.

If you missed the blog hop for the book, you’ll find the master list on Sherri Lynn’s website, here. If you have any interest at all in improvisational quilting, you DEEPLY WANT this book. Trust me!

Do I win a prize?

by Stephanie on May 31, 2015

in Art Quilts & Wallhangings,Quilt Shows

Bias Curves workshop with Sherri Lynn Wood

… for what has to be {drumroll, please} the most-delayed Quilt-Con followup post in the history of ever. Must have fallen into some kind of time-warp there for a while.

I was one of the lucky ones able to register for both of my top-two workshop wants: Bias Curves with Sherri Lyn Wood, and 15-Minutes Play with Victoria Findlay Wolfe.

The Bias Curves class was (for me) about playing around with something totally new. I’m not new to sewing curves, or working with bias edges, but Sherri Lynn’s method is a whole new approach.

Several of my favorite quilts from the show used this method (pics snapped from SLW’s fabulous new book):

Sherri Lynn’s glorious quilt:

Bias-Petals-1

and Latifah Saafir’s version:

BiasPetals-2

Here are the pieces I produced during the one-day workshop (I deliberately pulled an assortment of goofier fabrics to play with):

SLW-petals

There’s potential there, although it’s possible that this method works best with a higher ratio of solids to prints than I’m ever likely to put together. I do love the big leaf shapes and working on this scale was more of a stretch for me than expected. Whether or not these specific pieces will ever be retrieved from the holding bin to evolve into a finished object remains to be seen.

I highly recommend taking a Bias Curves class (or any class!) with Sherri Lynn if you get the chance. She’s such a friendly, cheerful, encouraging, instructor and the perfect guide to ease your way down that outside-the-comfort-zone path.

The only improvement I’d make to this class would be to extend it to 2 days. There just wasn’t enough time to get from making some petal shapes to putting them together into a layout, and I wish we’d been able to explore that in a group setting as well.

While at QuiltCon I also grabbed a copy of Sherri Lynn’s wonderful new book, The Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters, which includes Bias Curves as one of the improvisational “scores.” It’s a fabulous book, one of my favorites from recent years, and a great addition to any curious quilter’s bookshelf. I’d like to start with Score #1 (there are 10 in all) and work my way through the book one project at a time because they all look like fun.

You’ve probably seen blog hop posts for this book (I’m not an official part of that) elsewhere, but if not the master list of participants is here. Totally worth checking out!

I was a tester for one of these methods, and I’ll show you how that turned out in another post.

Home from QuiltCon

by Stephanie on February 25, 2015

in Everything Else,Quilt Shows

Post image for Home from QuiltCon

Suitcase weight going to QuiltCon: 36.5 pounds
Returning from QuiltCon: 48.5 pounds

So much good swag! I hit the big-spender category during registration and got the hefty QuiltCon tote bag full of goodies, adding to it a new pink cutting mat and lots of scissors (some to be gifted) from the Havel’s booth, and the two books I was determined not to come home without: Sherri Lynn Wood’s Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters and Victoria Findlay Wolfe’s Double Wedding Ring Quilts. I only bought a little bit of fabric (not shown), did nab some of Victoria’s templates, and was happy to add to my growing collection of 12-weight Precensia perle cottons.

After all-day travel Monday, and Tuesday mostly lost to jetlag, getting the car inspected, and catching up on laundry, I’m finally feeling home. It was worth the trip, but I’m very glad that QC 2016 will be in Pasadena (if I go).

The MQG deserves a standing ovation not just for organizing such a great show and all the lectures and workshops, but for creating the vibrant community for educating and inspiring modern quilters that makes QuiltCon possible. I’m in awe of the effort and planning that went into pulling off a great event, so much of it volunteered.

I didn’t take a lot of pictures. You’ve probably seen most of the quilts in other people’s post and feeds by now, but if you haven’t, check out @occasionalpiecequilt  on Instagram, she’s been posting a ton from the show. The Quilt Show blog also  just posted a link to the first of several slide shows, this one of the Modern Traditionalism category, which you can see here.

The quilts: it was a treat to see so many modern quilts, in many different styles, all in one place. I was at QuiltCon for all 4 days, with a pretty full schedule of workshops and lectures, so Thursday and Friday my show viewing was limited to quick random-path walk-throughs. Saturday and Sunday I focused on looking at one category of quilts at a time, to make sure I didn’t miss anything.

There were quilts in every category that I liked a lot. Overall, I was most inspired by the  Improvisation quilts. The  Minimalist Design and Use of Negative Space categories — the ones that encompass what I think of as “mainstream modern” design — didn’t do much for me (as expected) and I was surprised to feel kinda lukewarm about the Modern Traditionalism section as well. That’s purely my personal preference, not a judgement about the quilts; within each of those categories were a few that I adored. Mostly the quality throughout the show was very high, with the exception of a few that struck me as duds, but I wasn’t on the selection jury and apparently they saw something there that I missed.

All top contenders for my “people’s choice” vote were from the Improv section, and in the end I voted for this one: “Sunset Waves” by Laura Hartrich:

sunsetwaves-laurahartrich

I also loved this one, “Pickle Jars,” by Jamie Gonce:

picklejars-jamiegonce

And how cute is this bee charity quilt from the Do.Good.Stitches special exhibit? I might have to make a bird quilt, just for fun.

DGS-birds

Here’s a happy quilter: my sister, Abigail Fuller, with her quilt made for the Michael Miller challenge:

Abby-quilt

We had a blast being roomies for the weekend, meeting up for lunch when we could, and talking quilts, quilts, quilts over a bottle of wine every evening in our hotel room. Loved seeing her quilt in the show!

Real life meetups with online friends is one of the best things about QuiltCon. I wish I’d had more time with Anne (Spring Leaf Studio) and Karen (Capitola Quilter), and hope we can chat more in Pasadena if we’re all there. Don’t know yet if I’m going to go, as it’s a big investment in both time and travel dollars from here. Final decision will depend on how many workshops and lectures look irresistible, and if I can get a spot in them.

Workshops with Sherri Lynn Wood and Victoria Findlay Wolfe were the big draw that got me to Austin. I’ll tell you about those in my next post.

Somewhere between hanging my QuiltCon badge around my neck on Thursday morning and checking out of my hotel 4 days later, I realized I’d decided to hand-quilt a stack of improv minis that have been waiting for a “how am I going to quilt these” decision since the middle of last year. I can’t pinpoint any one specific thing that led to that decision, but I’m quite sure that being at QuiltCon is what brought me the clarity that hand-quilting is the way to go with those works.

Were you there? Leave a comment and let me know what the best part of QuiltCon was for you…

 

Sew Together Bag Finish!

by Stephanie on January 30, 2015

in Accessories

Post image for Sew Together Bag Finish!

It’s official: my first “finish” of 2015!

I love this bag. It’s a very clever pattern, and I expect to make more versions of it some time. After I’ve had a chance to forget how unpleasant it was to bind the long zipper and stitch in the ditch with my zipper foot. Not in a hurry to experience that again, ugh. One side went okay, but the other was nuthin’ but bad attitude and trouble. Worth it, in the end, though.

STB-1-inside-zip

Although I love this bag, IMO it’s a failure on the part of the pattern writer if we have to refer to the sew-along tutorial on someone else’s blog in order to figure out how to make it.

I consider myself an advanced sewer, and I’ve got a lot of bag experience behind me prior to this one. Zippers don’t scare me, and I’m (usually) good at translating written instructions into a mental model of what’s going to happen in 3D as the project is assembled. When I say that the instructions for creating the zipper tab completely baffled me, you know they are impenetrable. More to the point, they are not diagrammed, and should be.

I think I figured out what the designer has in mind, but it strikes me as a poor approach to a zipper tab if I’m right, so I did it a different, easier way that has many fewer layers to sew through when attaching the tab to the bag side binding.. From what I can tell, the sew-along tute does it a different way, too. I had to add some extra length to the tabs to get a decent handle-loop at either end, so next time I’ll use a 20″ zipper instead of the 18″ the pattern calls for. I’ll also stitch the pockets a 1/4″ deeper, as there was plenty of fabric to do so.

STB-1-inside-open

Fusible fleece on the outside piece, and a thin fusible interfacing on the inside pieces. My tip for interfacings is to cut them to size, and cut all the matching fabric pieces at least 1/2″ larger than called for. That way you can pair up and fuse the interfacing without having to match up all edges exactly. And if things shift or shrink a little bit during fusing ( as often happens ), it’s no big deal. After the interfacing and fabric are fused, trim down to the required size.

STB-1-side

Overall, I’m delighted with the finished product, but as you can tell the process of putting it together made me a little cranky. For $12- the pattern should include a diagram or photo of every frickin’ step.

I purchased my copy at Craftsy, where several reviewers commented on how quickly and amiably the designer replied to their requests for assistance. IMO customers should not have to contact the designer with questions in order to follow a pattern! Sure, it’s great that she answered promptly and courteously, but the fact that the interaction happened at all is a demerit.