17 months ago I started participating in The Modern Quilts Unlimited Magazine/Michael Miller Fabric “Old is New” block challenge. This has been such an amazing growth experience for me with regard to developing my creative side as well as my technical abilities. Each month we were presented with a traditional block and had to come up with a more modern “new” version, and in the end put them all together in a quilt. I played with many variations of setting the blocks using my graphics program trying to come up with a version that maximized negative space. When I thought of staggering them on point and looked at how the piecing would be, I realized I could create an optical illusion of depth by using three shades of green.
I had a blast quilting it…and quilt it, I did! For months I had been auditioning quilting designs on the blocks again using my graphics program, so for almost all of the blocks, I knew what I was going to do. I used three variations of circles and lines in the staggered sashing, and really like the Yin and Yang circle on the last sashing.
I used Superior threads monopoly in clear or So Fine, and Bottom Line in the bobbin. The batting was Hobbs 80/20 topped with Hobbs Tuscany collection cotton/wool blend. Size was 60 x 60″, the max size.
I’m concerned that for the final quilt competition, this might not be considered “modern enough” by the Modern Quilt Police. But in the end, I love it! This is what I would consider “modern traditionalism”. What do you think?
I named this quilt “Playing Well Together” (which is a bit of a political statement considering the current political climate) in that even though the blocks are all very diverse, the group works well together.
Voting starts today and goes through Nov 30th. Click on this link to go to the voting site. Scroll down the page past “rules” and check out all the really beautiful quilts. Click on the VOTE box next to your favorite (hopefully mine!). https://www.facebook.com/sharer/sharer.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Fa.pgtb.me%2FMfCtTr%2Fh5Cj1%3Fw%3D36927840%26e%3D140583845
Have a Happy Thanksgiving! And let’s all Play Well Together.
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:
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!
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.
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.
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.
So, get out there and challenge yourself! Learn and explore new techniques and add more tools to your box! Be Creative!
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.