Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Piecing Blocks

I've been busy cutting out blocks for my 365 Challenge. These little six inch blocks take "forever" to cut out. Then, it could take more than two hours to piece ONE of them together! I'm STILL enjoying piecing them, though. I'm saving up some of the blocks to piece at a quilt retreat I have in June.

These are blocks I finished this week.

I also finished two "opportunity" blocks for a quilt retreat I have in October.

The Missouri Star Quilt Company has a tutorial for this block. It is called The Disappearing Hour Glass Block. It is VERY quick to make, and I think it will make a pretty quilt. It sure looks more complicated than it is to make. Give it a try.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

"New" Chinese Coins Quilt

I have been machine quilting my grandson's Chinese Coins quilt for the last week. I really enjoyed doing it and learned a lot in the process. This is the first quilt I have quilted on my Juki QVP sit-down, table-mount long arm machine. I previously had quilted a table runner and had tension troubles with that. The quilting on this quilt went much more smoothly. I'm actually anxious to get started on my next machine quilting project!

Some of my friends and I were trying to figure out how old this quilt top actually is. We decided it was finished more than ten years ago! It might even be closer to 15 years ago! That is why I put the "New" in quotes in the blog title. OLD UFO done--check!!!
The quilting shows up a little better in this photo. As you can see, I used a variegated thread. I even practiced using my straight ruler to make the straight lines in the small "coin" border. (Now, there was a BIG learning curve with that!) I used the sun as a quilting motif because I always used to sing "You Are My Sunshine" to Cade when he was little.

All in all, it turned out pretty good, and the most important thing is that this little guy REALLY liked it!

Here is Cade with his "old" quilt. It has been well loved and well used. (It used to be brown too. Notice the bottom of the quilt.)

I DO think it looks pretty good on MY couch, though. I may have to make another one. (Insert smiley face here!!!)


Wednesday, May 25, 2016

"Creative Strength Training"

I just received my copy of Jane Dunnewold's new book "Creative Strength Training."

Jane had contacted me last year about including some of my work in her book. OF COURSE, I said I'd be thrilled! Today I'm REALLY thrilled. The book is fabulous; it is very well done, has great pictures, and includes great content. My copy even includes this little note from Jane, "For Beth, Thanks for being generous with your work and your spirit. It wouldn't be the same without you." This is a wonderful book (if I do say so myself).

Pictures of my work are in Chapter 6 ("What Does Alignment Look Like to You?"). That is a detail shot of "Zen" on the left, and "Metamorphosis I" is on the right. Check it out...

In the Acknowledgments section of her book, Jane thanks "the Louisville, Kentucky, independent study group, who witnessed the dawning of these ideas as a cohesive whole, and validated the use of the new terms we coined during that workshop year." I was one of the members of this independent study group; and I grew, as an artist, more than I can say during the time I spent in that group. The book is like a written version of the things we did during that time. No matter where you are in your creative, artistic journey, this book can strengthen your resolve to improve through prompts, exercises, and personal stories. Jane calls it "encouraging artistic genius."

If you get a chance, PLEASE check out this book. It is a REALLY good one (and not just because there are pictures of my work in it). You can order the book directly from her website here or from Amazon here.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Juki QVP (Table Mount)

I finally had a chance to work on my Juki table-mounted long arm that I purchased at Paducah in April of 2015.

Previously, I had only quilted a table runner and was not happy with it. I just couldn't get the tension right. Then, a long-arm machine owner friend of mine came to visit me in December. She had NO fear of my machine and immediately unthreaded it. I nearly had heart failure! The manual that comes with the machine is really crappy, and I had only threaded the machine once or twice. Anyway...long story short...she got the tension issue fixed and marked threading instructions directly on machine. She MADE me thread the machine, wind a bobbin, and load the bobbin many times.

Here is what I found out. I was running the machine WAY too fast. The top of my work looked good, but the bottom thread didn't. When she slowed the machine down and had me stitch slower, I had a MUCH better looking stitch (both top and bottom). I also found my work to be more accurate with the slower stitching. Everything was looking good, and I felt much more confident.

Then, life happened and I didn't get back to stitching till now (May 2016). I practiced threading the machine, winding the bobbin, and stitching. I felt confident enough to start quilting again. It just so happens I had a Chinese Coins top basted and ready to quilt. (My daughter had put in a request for a replacement Chinese Coins quilt since my grandson has worn out the one he is currently using. She tells me it look "really bad.") I figured this is a perfect quilt for me to practice on. My grandson isn't going to critique my machine quilting expertise; he will love the quilt no matter what.

Things are going smoothly so far. I'm using a variegated thread for the top and a neutral thread in the bobbin. I started by anchoring the quilt by machine quilting "in the ditch" of each vertical row. This did a nice job of stabilizing the batting and backing and allowed me to remove several basting pins. Next, I quilted a loopy design in the "coins" part of the quilt. That went pretty smoothly, so I thought I was ready to tackle the solid part of the quilt (where the stitches would show). I loosely drew my quilting design and went to work. I'm very happy with it so far, and I'm learning a lot.

This is what I've learned so far...

  1. Slow down
  2. Breathe
  3. Take lots of breaks (to save your back and neck)
  4. Don't worry about perfection
  5. Stop and reposition your hands (and the quilt) often

Thursday, May 19, 2016

New 365 Challenge Blocks

I had been doing primarily dark blocks for the challenge, but I finally got to the point where I could make some of the 6" finished light blocks. I have really been enjoying these. They are taking some time to make, though. Some of the blocks are like making four 3" finished blocks. The last group of 3" finished blocks are on the left; the light blocks all finish to 6".

I'm liking how they are turning out. Several of my friends are doing this challenge too. It is fun (and not too late to join). Check it out here.

I'm getting ready for a trip to Branson with my dad and step-mom. (My dad is 82 and hard of hearing, and my step-mom has Alzheimer's.) We are meeting my son, his wife, and little June Beth. This should be interesting. I'm keeping positive thoughts. Wish me luck!


Saturday, May 14, 2016

Form Not Function

Form Not Function: Quilt Art at the Carnegie is a MUST SEE exhibit held at the Carnegie Center for Art and History in New Albany, Indiana. This year's show will be held May 13-July 9, 2016.

"Form, Not Function: Quilt Art at the Carnegie" explores the world of contemporary art quilts. This annual, juried exhibit draws works of art by artists across the United States and celebrates innovation and creative thought in the increasingly popular medium of art quilts. This year, 20 quilts were selected out of the 281 submitted for consideration from 128 individual artists. (One of the quilts was made by a friend of mine, Marti Plager from Louisville.) A quote from the Carnegie's Facebook page says this about the exhibit, "A quick consensus is this is one of the (if not) best "Form, Not Function" exhibitions we have hung on our gallery walls."

The Award of Excellence, presented by Louisville Area Fiber and Textile Artists (LAFTA) went to Liz Kuny for her piece "10,000."


For more information about the Carnegie, location, hours, and the Form Not Function exhibit, click here.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Retreat Time

I recently had the opportunity to spend three uninterrupted days working on some of my art pieces. A friend of mine lives in Nashville, Indiana, and knew of a space we could rent that would be a great workspace for us. We rented a room in the new Brown County History Center. We set up the room so that we each had a nice area in which to work. The space was really nice, the lighting was great, and I'm pleased with what I got done.

Daren had her workspace...

and I had mine.

It was SO nice to get some totally uninterrupted, concentrated time to work. I got some stitching done on my "extreme embroidery" project and got a new pattern drawn up for a piece I'm beginning.

Daren dyes beautiful fabrics; and after seeing the project I was drawing up (and hearing my vision for the piece) offered up some of her fabrics for me to use for it. (I WILL be sending any leftovers back to her...maybe. LOL!) Check out these gorgeous pieces. They make me anxious to get started on the new piece, but I have some things I need to get finished first (like machine quilting a Chinese Coins quilt for my grandson, finishing some samples for a class I may be teaching, etc, etc, etc.).

Daren cooked each night after we left the retreat--I felt SO pampered. She is such a good cook; these meals were GREAT!

Needless to say, I loved everything about the retreat and I'm ready to go back.


Monday, May 9, 2016

Peg Solitaire Board and a 365 Challenge Update

This is a picture of my Peg Solitaire Board from Alida (TweLoQ) Designs. She is running a QAL (Quilt Along) and publishes a free pattern each month. For more information, check it out here.
I have several grandchildren who (I'm hoping) will enjoy playing with these game boards. I made this one using fusible applique. Each circle is fused to the background with a hand-embroidered blanket stitch around it.

This is the latest picture of my 365 Challenge. (I do have some other blocks finished. I'll post those later.) Check out the 365 Challenge website here if you are interested. I am still really enjoying this challenge. I have missed piecing, and I there are definitely times when I need some "mindless" piecing time. It is a good stress reliever for me.

I just got back from a three-day retreat with a friend of mine. I'll be posting about it later. Be sure to check back.