Fun, Fast, & Liberated Quiltmaking!

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I have loved every minute of the 12 month journey of Modern Quilts Unlimited magazine/Michael Miller fabric block  challenge; and have grown leaps and bounds with regards to my creativity as well as expanding my skill set; however, after finishing the intense piecing and quilting on my final quilt composition I needed to do something creative, fun, fast and immediately gratifying!  I had gotten Gwen Marston’s Liberated Quiltmaking II some time ago and had been watching her class on iQuilt, so I decided to do a liberated rail fence!  I dove into my pile of fabrics and scraps  and in two days had the main body of the quilt done.  It is such a fun and free process, designing and improvising as you go.  And it is liberating!  I haven’t finished adding the final border, but wanted to share what I have done so far:fullsizerender-18

One of my goals for the next year is to work on doing more minimal quilts (that sounds like an oxymoron doesn’t it!), so  earlier this week I got Gwen’s book Minimal Guiltmaking.  I have poured over this, and have been very inspired.  There were many of her students’ beautiful works in the book and I thought what fun to do a retreat with her.  Looking at her website, I found that this is her last year of teaching, and on a whim looked to see what her schedule was.  Unbelievably, her last retreat before retiring will be in 3 weeks at the MADELINE ISLAND SCHOOL OF THE ARTS (MISA) in Wisconsin and there was one spot left!  I think this is fate!  The topic is “Small Studies” and I am going!

Final Blocks of the Modern Quilts Unlimited Mag/Michael Miller Fabrics Block Challenge!

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With the last few blocks to do, the challenge was to  design blocks that would complement the patterns and colors of the other 9 blocks and create a harmonious and cohesive quilt.   The final quilt challenge will determine whether I succeeded in this task.  The quilts will be posted by Nov 15th and voting will go from Nov 16th -30th.

June’s block was Drunkard’s Path (below left).   This traditional block is simply a quarter of a  circle set within a square.  There are many, many ways that these can be set to make a block or quilt.  As you can see in my modern version (below right), Drunkard’s Bull’s Eye, there are numerous drunkard’s path subunits  in each quarter circle gradually enlarging from the center outward with alternating light and dark.  The light colored fabrics were graded from light to darker as you moved from the center outward  which gives it incredible depth and a luminous quality.  It just seems to jump out at you  while at the same time it recedes into the distance.  This was my favorite block of the 12, and  I can see a large one-block quilt in my future!

The final block of the challenge was Jacob’s ladder.

JacobsLadderBlock

This block when put together in a quilt, can create some beautiful secondary patterns.  Just search Pinterest for Jacob’s ladder quilts and you will see a beautiful mix of traditional and modern takes on this classic block.

 

I played around quite a bit with this one, and below are several drafts of potential blocks designed in EQ7.

But in the end, I decided to make it a little simpler than the original and give it the look of an actual ladder.  I reversed the colors on either side of the ladder and I love the contrast.   The turquoise,  purple, and orange also complement two of the other blocks…Sailing the Chevron Sea and ZigZag BowTie.  My version of Jacob’s ladder won the last block challenge.

Contemporary Jacob's ladder

I had one last block to create.  I wasn’t able to do the rail fence block during the month it was featured, so I had a chance to design a block to balance the colors and pattern of my Spiral Pinwheel block.  The “Rail Fence in a Rail Fence” does a great job of complementing the pinwheel block, and I was very happy with the result.  What do you think?

Rail Fence in a Rail Fence                          Spiral Pinwheel

TaDa!  Below are my twelve blocks!

 

Ironically, I thought the due date was Sept 10th, so I was frantically working to get it finished. For the last few months of the challenge I was already playing around with  the layout on my graphics program, and was doodling with the the quilting motifs for each block on my iPad.  That sped things up a lot.   The piece was on the frame and I was quilting it when I checked the site to see if anyone had already posted a finished quilt and low and behold, found that it was not due until Nov 15th!  I was so relieved!  I had to go to Maryland to help my daughter haul two horses to North Carolina, so I had plenty of time after my trip to finish it.   I’m super happy with it and can’t wait for the big reveal in November.    Here is a sneak peek of some of the quilting:

Stay tuned for voting Nov 16th to Nov 30th to vote in the final Quilt Challenge!

Creating the Lemoyne Star Pinwheel

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Lemoyne Star is the block for this month’s Modern Quilts Unlimited/Michael Miller block challenge. This was particularly challenging as I had an episode of sciatica this past month. Wow! I cannot imagine having that much pain and spasm long term! It really put the skids on my normal energizer bunny life style.  Anyway, I am much better now!  I came up with a design early on that I called “Faceted Lemoyne star”, but there were so many tiny pieces and I just didn’t think I was up to that.   I had plenty of time to lay around and daydream, so I redesigned the block on EQ7 and came up with “Lemoyne Star Pinwheel”. It is a really beautiful simple block. I love the 3D effect and the luminosity of the fabrics against the dark background.

Faceted Lemoyne StarLemoyne pinwheel unsigned copy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So next came construction. I thought I would try using Ruth B. McDowell’s technique. I recently got a couple of books by Ruth B. McDowell…her “Piecing Workshop” and her “Design Workshop” in order to expand my piecing skills to do more complicated blocks. It is paper piecing with a twist. Freezer paper is used as templates and you don’t sew through the paper. The finished product is not a mirror image of the pattern as with traditional paper piecing. After designing my block on EQ7, I decided to try her technique to put this block together.  With all the marking you do it actually turned out to be more accurate than regular paper piecing.

On the left is the 12″ block printed onto regular paper and taped together.  Then you trace the block onto the shiny side of freezer paper with a sharpie (below right).  The outside  perimeter is marked with a highlighter to  orient your sides to straight of grain.

Lemoyne pinwheel full size pattern copy

Paper template for auditioning fabric

freezer paper traced block copy

Traced design on shiny side of freezer pape

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then you turn the freezer paper over and with a pencil trace the pattern, outline each section with a colored pencil, label each piece and note the color of fabric, etc, and make markings to line up pieces and mark intersections (below).

close up of section with markings

Sections labeled and intersections marked

Next the freezer paper sections are cut out and ironed onto the back side of the corresponding fabric.  Using a rotary cutter and a ruler, cut out each piece adding 1/4″ all around (below left). For the pieces on the exterior edges, line the straight of grain up with the highlighted outside edge. This ensures that you do not have bias on the outside of edges of the block.  For the outside edges, I added at least 1/2″ seam allowance to ensure that when the blocks are squared up I have enough fabric (Sometimes, even I am not perfect!) to make the blocks a perfect 12.5″.

freezer paper on fabric with 1:4" seam added

1/4″ seam allowance added

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Add extra seam allowance outside edges

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can audition the fabrics by placing the pieces on the front side of the original paper template  (Below left).  Next, the subunits are joined matching the marks.  In this case D1 to D2. (Below right).  Sewing just to the edge of the freezer paper.  Then adding D3.

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Matching the marks on the seam lines.

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Auditioning the fabric

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Sewing adjacent to the freezer paper

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Adding D3 to the sewn D1/D2 piece

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Finished subunit. Reverse.

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Finished subunit

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finished subunit D1/D2/D3 is shown above with seams pressed open.

My background squares and triangles were added using Gylene Fitzgerald’s Y-seam “butterfly” method.  All the points matched very well, if I do say so myself!

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Added background square and perfectly matched points

 

 

 

 

 

 

Voila!  The finished block!

Lemoyne pinwheel unsigned copy

By the way, this block did win the block challenge!

Taking time to Smell the Roses!

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Spring is a very busy time here on the ranch;  getting ready for foals,  lots and lots of yard work, and riding.  It’s hard to find time in my studio ( aka The Sweat Shop) to design and work on quilts since at the end of the day, I’m usually exhausted.  With all there is to do I forget to take time to enjoy the beauty of my gardens and the wild flowers that are so abundant here at Wild Oaks Ranch.  I have to promise myself to take at least 10 minutes a day to just sit and enjoy my  garden.  I love when my Zephririne  Drouhin (Cerise pink bloom left upper corner below) is blooming… just one bloom will fill the whole rose garden with the most intense rose smell.  I will take time to smell the roses today!

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So Glad to be Home!

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I’m finally home from Florida and all of the horses arrived safe and sound.  I have been crazy busy with all the catching up yard work to do and cleaning and organizing the barn.  I finally spent a couple of afternoons and evenings working on this month’s block challenge.  The block this month was our choice of the classic “sailboat” or “airplane”.

I played around with the airplane block on EQ7, but really didn’t like anything I came up with.  I first came up with doing 4 sailboats on the diagonal sailing around the north star and did that block, but after completion, I wasn’t satisfied with it.  What do you think?

Sailing by the north star

So back to the EQ7 drawing board!  Here are some ideas I came up with.

Thinking about the waves made me think of rough seas and then I thought about doing the waves as chevrons.  This is the block I decided to do for the Block challenge:

Sailing the Chevron Seas

I think this will go nicely with the other blocks for the ultimate quilt challenge.  Voting starts today!  Go to http://a.pgtb.me/MfCtTr/h5Cj1?w=36927840&e=123431568 .  Scroll down the page and click on the vote box of the block you like the most!

 

 

Square in a Square block challenge

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February’s block challenge for the Modern Quilts Unlimited/Michael Miller “Everything old is new” is the classic Square in a Square block.

Image 2-11-16 at 6.35 PM

This month the challenge for me was to find the time to think about quilting.  I’m pursuing my other passion for a few months….which is training and riding my dressage horses.  I’m in not so sunny and warm Florida with my daughter, Sarah, and our horses.  Off center square in a square

Anyway, I did bring my sewing machine, my Michael Miller cotton couture fabrics, and spent a couple of days playing with my graphics program.  I came up with the off center square in a square.

But I thought that I would try to do a 3D effect and continued to tinker with the design and finally decided on 3D pyramid in a square in a square.  I transferred the design to EQ7 and designed the paper pieced block.  I think I like it!  If you like it, you can vote for my block until Feb 14th by clicking on the link:  http://a.pgtb.me/MfCtTr/h5Cj1?w=36927840&e=119505436

3D pyramid square in a square signed

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Creative Journey, Continued

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Thanks to everyone who voted for my block, I won the latest Modern Quilts Unlimited/Michael Miller quilt block challenge with my ZigZag Bow Tie block.  More than winning the challenges, I have enjoyed how each month’s block  has “challenged” my creativity and skill set. I have taken advantage of this opportunity to push my envelope to do things out of my comfort zone, or to try new techniques. I’ve been quilting long enough now that if I think of a design, I have enough “tools in my tool box” to figure out how to execute the design. Part of this comes from knowing where to look to find out how to do things. I have taken advantage of the many on-line opportunities such as Craftsy, The Quilt Show, Quilty, or  youtube how-to videos. Many of my ideas have come from thinking about a technique that I have seen on one of these on-line venues. For instance, the first block challenge was for a flying geese block. I had been wanting to do some transparency blocks after watching Weeks Ringle’s Craftsy class. In order to achieve this, I needed to do foundation piecing.  I designed the block on EQ7, and printed out my foundation piece templates.  I learned how to do foundation piecing by taking several of the Craftsy classes. This was my first attempt at designing my own foundation pieced block and was thrilled with the result in Spinning Transparent Geese.

Spinning Transparent Geese my name

The second block was Snail’s Trail, and  I had the idea to do a 3 dimensional block after recently watching Karen Combs’ “Tumbling Blocks” Craftsy class. To design the block, I actually drew it on graph paper, then translated that to Apple’s graphic design program to make one parallelogram, and then that to EQ7 for the complete block and foundation piecing pattern. One of the things I learned from doing the prototype block, was that there is a difference in foundation papers. The Golden Threads foundation paper actually distorted in the process, and because of this my parallelograms were skewed and did not match exactly. Grrr!   So, I used Carol Doak’s paper for the next block and it worked great.  Wonky Snail’s Trail didn’t win, but it is one of my favorites and I got a lot of positive feed back on it.

Wonky Snail's trail 1100 jnf

December’s challenge, the Bow Tie block, was a simple pattern of two contrasting colors; I wanted to do something to utilize that contrast. Kathy Miller had been on The Quilt Show and demonstrated the Japanese technique called “Notan”. According to Wikipedia, “Nōtan is a Japanese design concept involving the play and placement of light and dark as they are placed next to the other in art and imagery”. I used a simple design that mirrored each other in the contrasting colors. You cannot see the “bow tie” as easily because your focus is drawn to the opposing shapes in the contrasting colors, but the base pieced block is still the bow tie. I used freezer paper to make the template for the “ZigZag”, and ironed the edges under using starch. I applied the ZigZag using machine applique with Superior’s clear MonoPoly polyester thread.   I’m happy to once again win the challenge with this block.

ZigZag Bow Tie 100 signed

So, get out there and challenge yourself!  Learn and explore new techniques and add more tools to your box!  Be Creative!

Card Trick on Steroids wins the Modern Quilts Unlimited/Michael Miller Block Challenge

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Card Trick on steroids 800 sign

Traditional Card Trick Block

This was the 4th month of the Modern Quilts Unlimited magazine/Michael Miller fabric “What’s Old is New” block challenge.  The traditional block was “Card Trick”.  For some reason the ideas were just not coming, plus there was The International Quilt Festival to go to, and a dressage clinic to organize and ride in.   Finally, the week it was due, I worked on several possibilities on EQ7 and had 4 card trick “blocks” encircling the block.  My daughter, Sarah, suggested to tuck them all together.  I thought, “well that’s not going to be easy”.  So I printed out my original version, cut them out, taped them together, and then redesigned it on EQ7, and added the 2 tone effect for each “corner”.  I had to fiddle with the layout  to get the paper piecing groupings to work  out, but even with that I had four set-in seams (Thank you, Gyleen Fitzgerald for your technique for doing set-in seams!  If you don’t know it, you can watch it on THE Quilt Show).   I had to hand applique the final  middle square onto the top to finish it off. (I am redesigning it to eliminate the set-in seams and the hand appliqued middle square).   I was really pleased with how it turned out.  Next was naming it.  Jerry and Sarah didn’t like any of the names I came up with.  Thought about it for 2 days and on the day it  was due,  I showed it to Jerry again and said “What about 4 of a kind?”  And he said, “I don’t see 4 of a kind”.  He pointed out that two of the small corner blocks were reversed in color.  So instead of an orange on the very tip, I had a teal.  I couldn’t believe that I had looked at this block for days, and didn’t see it!  Neither did Sarah.  So, I tramped up the stairs, ripped that part out, and redid that section…just in time to submit it!  After all that, I finally decided on “Card Trick on Steroids” but wish now I had just named it “Texas Card Trick” since I’m a Texan and everything is bigger here!

My Creative Journey…Part 1

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When I was a little girl, I drew all the time…mostly horses.  I could look at a picture and duplicate it freehand.  But, I never thought that I was creative, because I couldn’t make an accurate drawing of something that I just pictured in my mind.  My drawings were not unique, original designs; therefore, I was not creative.  So, I didn’t pursue art (Right brain).  Instead, I went the science route (Left brain).

But, what I didn’t realize until now, is that I have always been creative; I just didn’t recognize it.  I will call it…creativity incognito.

Lately, I have been thinking a lot about creativity and what is involved with that process.  On my last morning at the International Quilt Festival, I was sitting in the coffee shop drinking my coffee (and had had enough coffee by that time that I could be conversant!) when a 30 something young woman sat across from me. She is from east Texas and comes to the show every year.  I asked what classes she was taking.  “Oh, no classes!  We just come to shop and look at the quilts”.  She said that she really liked the more modern quilts and I readily agreed that they had some amazing modern quilts at the show.  She enthusiastically told me about the book, “Modern Neutrals” by Amy Ellis and that she had already made 4 or 5 of the quilts in it. I told her that I have been working on some of my own modern designs and using EQ7 (quilt design program) and iDraw to design blocks and quilts.  I was really surprised when this tech-savvy girl said “I could never do that!”  I said “Quilting is a lot like cooking, start with a recipe and spice it up, change it up to suit your own taste.”  Her reply was, “I always follow the recipe”.

I have been thinking about that conversation all week.  I have a ton of cookbooks, and when making something new and really different, I start with a recipe that someone else has perfected…but even then, I may tweak it a bit.  This ease in the kitchen comes from years of cooking (don’t want to tell you how many), learning techniques, knowing what ingredients go together well and just doing, i.e. experience and experimenting.  I am now doing the same with my quilting:  I don’t follow the recipe.   Maybe I am creative!

In upcoming blog posts, I’ll explore more about the process of creativity and my creative journey.

Month 3 of Modern Quilts Unlimited magazine/Michael Miller fabric block challenge.

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Supernova

Supernova Ohio Star is my rendition of the traditional  Ohio Star block.  The block was designed in idraw and paper pieced using Michael Miller cotton couture fabrics:  amethyst, orange, apricot, lemon.  VOTE for my block by going to the following link: http://a.pgtb.me/MfCtTr/h5Cj1?w=36927840&e=104456844 .  Scroll down the page and click on the VOTE BOX.  Every vote counts!  Voting starts 10/11 and goes through 10/14.