Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Traveling Hexies

My husband and I recently made a trip to Colorado for a memorial for our nephew who passed away unexpectedly. Danny always loved my quilts. When we visited his home before the memorial, I noticed one of my wall hangings on display in the dining room. He was a very special person and will be missed.

To get to the memorial, we were in a car for 17 hours. Of course, it took another 17 hours to get back home. That gave me plenty of time to do some handwork, and I decided to work on my hexies. This is what I got finished while we were gone. 
I got lots of hexies basted, and I got this section put together. (It would have been a "totally finished" section if I had brought all my maroon hexies with me, but I ran out.)

Because I am on the road all the time (it seems), I have had to find a good way to work on my hexies in the car (when I don't have to drive, LOL). I want to share my travel sewing setup with you.
I use a metal sheet (a 9” X 12” magnetic bulletin board) with REALLY strong magnets which I had to purchase separately. (I found the same brand magnetic board that I own on-line. I didn’t find a 9” X 12” board, but they do offer a 12” X 12” board in several colors and they INCLUDE the really strong magnets. You can check out that board here.) This is what mine looks like.
I use Altoid tins to hold the pieces I am basting. The tins work perfectly for the little pieces I'm currently working on—1/2” hexies. I also use another tin to hold my tiny scissors, a pin cushion, needles, thimble and my thread. I use a big felt ball to store the appliqué pins I use to hold the basting papers to my fabric. The strong magnets keep the tins from sliding around. The magnets also hold my scissors and needle when I put them down so they never get lost in the car.  

When I’m working on sewing hexies together (as you can see in the top picture), I use small plastic boxes I purchased (from an automotive department) to hold my pieces. They work well with the magnets on my metal sheet because they have metal closing clasps. (If you look closely, you can see the clasp "attached" to the magnets.) Those metal clasps stick to the magnets and hold those boxes in place. I also use the magnets to hold my pattern piece to the metal sheet and to hold an index card on the pattern to keep my place.
I keep the metal sheet inside a zippered notebook cover which protects my pattern, keeps my magnets all in place, and holds the piece on which I’m working.
I hope you can use some of these ideas to make sewing on the go a bit easier for you. It is amazing how much you can get done while you are out and about.    

I have been thinking about what name I want to give my hexie quilt. I think I’ll name it “Danny Boy” in honor of our nephew. I think he would like that.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Update on Extreme Embroidery Workshop

I recently taught a workshop on my "Extreme Embroidery" technique for Louisville Fiber and Textile Artists. I did a post on that here and here. Some of my "students" have done more work on their pieces and gave me permission to share those pieces with you. Marliese has completed two pieces (which you can see in the second post link above). She has since added to one of those pieces. Here is her piece
and here is part of her addition...
She has different layouts.
Which do you like best? Kathy made a piece that she mounted onto a canvas. Her piece sold at Pyro Gallery in Louisville. Kathy wrote a blog post about it here.
I'm REALLY proud of what has been done so far and hope to show you more from some of the other participants at a later date. If you'd like to learn Extreme Embroidery, I'd be happy to teach a workshop for your group or guild.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

GREAT English Paper Piecing Book

First, let me say I am NOT being paid for this book review. I am just one REALLY happy customer.  I LOVE books. I have an extensive collection of books on art quilts, artists, embroidery, piecing, painting, Zentangles, English Paper Piecing, doodling, drawing, creativity, and more. My latest book purchase in All Points Patchwork, English Paper Piecing Beyond the Hexagon for Quilts & Small Projects by Diane Gilleland. Wow, wow, wow, this is a fabulous book. If you are interested in EPP in any way, this book is for you. I feel like I am pretty experienced in EPP, and I LOVE this book. 
It includes the obligatory chapters on tools/materials and basic techniques, but what I really like are the chapters on Building Your Own EPP Patterns and chapters on each of the shapes--hexagons, diamonds and jewels, triangles and tumblers, octagons and pentagons, and curved shaped. There are also photos of "Project Inspirations"--illustrating ways to use EPP motifs. This is NOT a pattern book; it IS a GREAT resource. If you are not sure how to join any two shapes of pieces together, this book will tell you how. If you want to draft a shape, this book will tell you how. If you want to design your own blocks, this book will tell you how.  I have primarily worked with EPP hexagons and am now interested in branching out to other shapes. I think this book will be an invaluable resource for me (and maybe for you too). It is available in many places, but it is a steal on Amazon for $12.87 (as of the time of this posting). Check it out here.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Some Extreme Embroidery and a Mini-Retreat

One of the students from the "Extreme Embroidery" workshop I taught to a group of LAFTA (Louisville Fiber and Textile Artists) members a couple of weeks ago sent me pictures of the work she has completed. I thought I'd share those with you. A couple of people asked to actually SEE some of the pins as my pictures of the workshop didn't get detailed enough for those to be seen. 
All of the students drew up the design for a pin they wanted to work on. This is the pin Marliese started in class. She finished it before the week was up. Since that time, she has finished another one.
This, too, is an original design. I hope I get to see some of the other pins (and more of Marliese's) or little pieces of art the other students finish, and I hope to share some more with you. This week has been a stretch of intense work for me and a friend of mine. Daren joined me and we each worked on our own projects in my studio. She had some deadline work to get finished along with a quilt of her own she wanted to piece. I took a few pics.
This is Daren working on a piece for an upcoming exhibit. She hand dyes ALL the fabric she works with. In this pic she is "testing" out fabrics for a design she has in mind.
This is what it looked like when she finished it. (Notice she changed the orientation of the work.) She brought this piece down to finish the facing and sew on a sleeve. She gave me permission to show it to you.
I'm STILL working on my small flag quilt. (I don't work NEARLY as fast as Daren!) I finished appliquéing the stars onto it, tore all the stabilizer off the back, and started working on the quilting design.
Of course, we spent a little time hitting a couple of my favorite eating places while she was here. We went the Schnitzelbank and to the Chicken Place. She (and I) enjoyed the German food and the friend chicken. Real life sets back in tomorrow. I have to go back to cooking, cleaning, laundry, babysitting, etc. I wonder when I'll get back to the flag.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Virtual Retreat #1 and #3

I am participating in two "virtual retreats" this weekend. The PUPs guild in Tennessee is having their first "virtual retreat," and the Patoka Valley Quilters Guild is having their third. I run the retreat for the Patoka Valley Guild and shared the idea with my friend who runs the Facebook page for the guild in TN.  It has been fortunate for me the two virtual retreats overlap. It is like getting dual credit!

If you don't know, a "virtual retreat" is a time set aside to sew/quilt/stitch etc. No one has to pack anything up or schlep anything anywhere. Everyone works from their own homes but keeps in touch through the guild's page on Facebook. We all try to get all our cleaning, laundry, cooking, running, etc. done BEFORE the retreat starts, so we have uninterrupted sewing time.

Some people took the opportunity to set up new sewing rooms, clean old ones, go through boxes and bags to organize sewing purchases, hand stitch, machine piece, machine quilt, cut out new projects, and finish old ones. Some participants from my Tennessee guild even posted video tours of their studios and sewing spaces. It was really fun to see where people work.

The retreats have been a nice way to "visit" with each other, and it gave many of us that little nudge we needed to get busy on something we had been putting off (or didn't have time to work on previously). My Tennessee guild has many more people who are active on Facebook than my Indiana guild and had many more participants. Those of us from the IN guild, though, that ARE actually playing along are having fun. (The Indiana retreat doesn't end until midnight on Monday; the Tennessee retreat ends today at 6 p.m.)

There is a call for entry for a show called Threads of Resistance. I have been mulling it over in my mind and have decided to work on a flag project during these "virtual retreats." I had to make a smaller version than I really wanted to because of the size requirements for the show, but I really like the way it turned out. I went ahead and made a small and large version of the flag. I don't have all the stars on them yet; I'll be working on that later. Did you know you can Google how big to make the stars in proportion to the flag you are making? My friend, Kathy, informed me of that. I have done the math for the small flag. I have to figure it out for the large one yet.

I had the "brilliant" idea to cut my Steam-a-Seam 2 into 8 1/2" X 11" sheets and run them through my printer to print the stars onto the fusible. It worked REALLY well. WAY better than having to trace the star 50 times for each flag! I used Word to make the stars and get the size I needed. (Using Word to create the stars was another great tidbit Kathy passed on to me.)
 
Now all I have to do is cut them all out, fuse them on, and sew around each one!
Here are the flags. I took a picture of them both together so you can see the size difference. (The big one is REALLY big--82" X 56". The small one is half that--41" X 28".) (I have a few stars on the small one to test to make sure they look okay.)
Now, I have to contemplate what I want to with the flags. I have some ideas, but I haven't made a decision yet. I'll let it percolate a bit longer before I have to decide. Whether I get the small flag finished in time for the exhibit or whether I get juried into the exhibit makes no difference to me at this point. I need a means of expression for the feelings I have about the current situation of our country.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Retreat Work

First, I taught a workshop on my "Extreme Embroidery" pins for my LAFTA (Louisville Area Fiber and Textile Artists) group. LAFTA offers free workshops taught BY its members FOR its members. I have attended several of these workshops and have learned A LOT from them. I was asked to conduct a workshop and readily agreed--I needed to do a little payback.  I had such a talented group of ladies in my workshop. They were quick learners and got a good start on some beautiful pins. I had fun; I sure hope they did.
I hope I get the chance to see some of their finished pins.
 
The day after this workshop, I went to an artist retreat in Kentucky. My friends there worked on a WIDE variety of projects--traditional quilts, art quilts, newspaper clipping, embroidery, knitting, photography, mixed media, and more. I took a few pictures. It isn't always easy to take pics at this retreat because some of the items are being made for entry into shows where pre-show photography isn't permitted.
 
I worked on a baby quilt,  
and I started work on two flag quilts--one large and one small. 
The top pictures show my progress on the tops. The bottom pic shows my progress on the remaining rows. I'm really happy with the work I got done during the retreat. Now if I can just keep that momentum up at home. It doesn't look good so far, though. I haven't done ANY sewing today--cooking, laundry, unpacking things from the retreat, and babysitting for the grandson took precedence. I DO have a virtual retreat and a mini-retreat with a friend of mine coming up. Maybe the work will continue then. We'll see. I did get one picture of a finished project. Pamela finished binding her quilt and finished her pillow shams. I think she likes purple!!!
One of the girls greeted us one morning with this display out on the grass. (She has quite a sense of humor.) Just in case you can't read it, it says, "Surrender Dorothy." (She reminded us that it is a quote from The Wizard of Oz.) It is made from yarns she has knitted.
I can't tell you how much I enjoyed this retreat. I got to spend some time with friends I don't see very often, AND I had uninterrupted time to work on some important projects. If you get a chance to go to a retreat, take it!

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Always Working

To say I'm ALWAYS working on my "forever" hexie project is an understatement. I was going through some photos on my iPad (trying to get things organized and old photos deleted), and ran across an assortment of hexie pics. Just to show you how much I work on it, here are SOME of the pics.
I've stitched hexies while on MANY vacations. This picture is from our Destin, FL, trip this year. (Hexies have gone with me to MANY places--Niagara Falls, Arkansas, Tennessee, Colorado, every doctor, dentist, and optometrist appointment I've been to in the last few years, to guild meetings, stitching group meetings, and general meetings, on trips to visit friends and relatives, etc., etc., etc.)
I've stitched hexies with my cat (Libby).
 
 I've stitched more hexie parts than I can count. (Many of which I HAVE NOT taken a photos of.)
I've stitched hexies at NUMEROUS retreats.
I've tried to put what I have done on my design wall and photograph it. It has now gotten too large to do a very good job of that.
And I continue to work on it almost every single day.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Bloomington (IHQS) Quilt Show

Last weekend I went to the Bloomington (Indiana Heritage Quilt Show) at the Convention Center in Bloomington, Indiana. In my last post, I mentioned the class I took with Bill Kerr (which I really enjoyed). In this post, I want to share some of the quilts that caught my eye.  (For all the pictures below, I made a concerted effort to photograph the artist's name with the quilt. Be sure to zoom in to get some more information about each piece.) Being a hand quilter, I'm always on the lookout for great hand quilted quilts. The HAND quilting on this whole-cloth quilt was spectacular.
There was an exhibit called "Inspired by the National Parks" on display. They were created to celebrate the 2016 Centennial Anniversary of the National Park Service. You can find more information about this exhibit here. There were LOTS of quilts as you can see in this picture which shows a few of them.
These were some of my favorites. (If you zoom in, you can see the maker and the park the quilt represents.)
The dancing "bird" in the upper left photo was SO colorful and SO cheery I was drawn to it. When I looked closer, I laughed out loud. The disco ball was a great touch! The little owls (on the top right) had been stamped and hand embroidered (something else I LOVE). The cone flowers were really beautiful in person.
The rock arch in the top photo was VERY realistic. I loved the stalagmites and stalactites of Mammoth Cave in the bottom photo.
These two were just so peaceful to look at. The threadwork on the Virgin Islands National Park quilt (right) was such a nice addition to the quilt. It looked like an underwater scene.
 
Now, on to the rest of the show. The quilting of this quilt made it stand out from the crowd.
This artist had a good day. She won two awards with these quilts. 
There was some really nice piecing and applique.
There were colorful, artsy quilts.
The quilting on the top left photo above was REALLY good. It gave the quilt a texture that was very appealing. I liked the happy colors of the quilt on the top right. The way the circles were added gave the quilt a three-dimensional quality. The ladybug just made me happy. It was made up of all kinds of different flowers.
 
There were actual three-dimensional quilts. The artist used wire to create the petals of this quilt. She also did A LOT of beading to make the centers of the cone flower more realistic. (I think mailing this quilt to a quilt show would be a nightmare.)
There was something for everyone at this show. It is a relatively small show but a good one. If you are close enough to come to this show next year, please do. Take a class; enter a quilt. If we don't support these shows and classes IN PERSON, we WILL lose them. There used to be really good shows in Indianapolis and Louisville which no longer exist. I'd hate to lose this show too.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

A Class--It Has Been a Long Time

I haven't taken a class (in person) for a long time. I have purchased many online classes through Craftsy and iQuilt and REALLY like those, but this past weekend I took a class at the Indiana Heritage Quilt Show in Bloomington, Indiana. I took a design class taught by Bill Kerr. I really enjoyed it and feel like I learned a few things.
Bill spent some time speaking about his quilts and elements of design for each one. The thing, though, that I found most interesting (partly because I have done A LOT of design work from Lyric Kinard's "Art + Quilt: Design Principles and Creativity Exercises" book) was his emphasis on intention/intentionality. He spoke about the "intention" behind each of the quilts he had with him in class. In looking at each quilt, I couldn't "see" the intention behind it; but when he explained it, it made perfect sense.
The first part of the class was organized to have have us create little (what he called) maquettes or models/samples/studies in a very short period of time. He gave us "assignments" throughout the day. This is the result of our first "assignment" for the class. We were (in 20 minutes) to make a STATIC design on an 8" X 10" background using 5 rectangles. (Static means stationary or fixed.) Doing ANYTHING quickly is a challenge for me since I do practically everything slowly.
Next, we put them up on the design wall and the class was assigned to put these little studies in order from most static to least static. We had to justify the placement of each (using complete sentences, as requested by Bill). I felt pretty good about this one (especially since mine was placed in the second position--turquoise and purple.)
 
The next assignment was to use the same 8" X 10" background and the same 5 rectangles we used in the static sample to make a dynamic design sample. (Dynamic means energetic, capable of action and/or change.) Again, we were asked to place the samples in order from most dynamic to least dynamic. The discussion revolved around our reasons for placing each piece in its designated position. Using the exact same pieces as the static maquette, I felt like I did a pretty good job of creating movement. We talked about the difference between "dynamic" and chaos here.
Next, we were asked to create a design we found personally pleasing using an 8" X 10" background and three squares of ANY color. The discussion here was about why we found the arrangement pleasing. What did we like about the design? It really took a lot of thought to articulate the reason behind the design. Again, each of these exercises (static, dynamic, and squares) was made in approximately 20 minutes and not meant to be topics for discussion not "actual" quilts. However, many of these could be made into interesting quilts.
The last thing of the day was to make a design depicting a feeling, a place, or a concept of some kind. I do believe he mentioned we should make the piece 18" X 18" or 18" X 24", but (as you see) not everyone followed those directions (which wasn't required). We were given approximately 45 minutes to complete this piece. We had to "explain" what we were trying to accomplish with the piece, and Bill spoke about each one. The discussion was VERY interesting. 
Doing these small "studies" was really good for me; I didn't have time to overthink the process. I can see me doing more of these, because I got some good ideas from really thinking about them and what I liked or didn't like about each one. Working quickly helped me find some ideas I might otherwise not have come upon.
 
If you haven't taken a class (in person) for awhile, I would encourage you to do so. You meet some nice people and you will learn SOMETHING if you go in with an open mind. If you have a chance to take a class with Bill Kerr, I would encourage that too. He is a very positive person and has a gentle manner when critiquing the work. He set the tone from the very beginning that the class would be a "safe place" to share. You can check out his website here.
 
I did take some pictures at the show and will share those later.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Jackpot!

One of my friends is moving to a new home and is cleaning out her fabric stash. I am the lucky recipient of two HUGE boxes of discharged, hand-dyed, stenciled, painted, monoprinted, (and I'm not sure what else) fabric. The boxes contained fabrics of all kind--silk, velvet, corduroy, cotton, denim, organza, gauze, etc. There are subtle, beautiful fabrics and fabrics that practically shout at you. My head is spinning with new ideas (which is what I had hoped they would do). As I told the giver, "It is like Christmas up in here!!!"
Now, where am I going to put these new fabrics???

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Using Half-Square Triangles

I have wanted to make a half-square triangle quilt for quite some time. I finally am working on one using a layer cake and 10" background squares I cut from a gray I had on hand. I did some research (and played a bit on my own) to find several different layouts I really liked. If you would like to make a half-square triangle quilt, this post (and the previous post) is for you. In the previous post, I explained how to make eight quick half-square triangles from 10" squares (layer cake). The first thing you will need to do after making the half-squares is to square the blocks to your chosen size. This is how you do that. (I squared mine up to 4 1/2"; yours may need to be squared to 4 1/4" or 4" depending on whether you took a scant or generous 1/4" seam allowance.)
I made my half-square triangles using the method in my previous post. Next, I played with them on my design wall. As you will be able to see, the half-square triangles are not sewn together yet. (I can't decide which layout I like the best! You will have to leave me comments and let me know which layout you like. It might help me decide which one to make.) First I tried these...
Layout A and B
Next, came these...
 
Layout C and D
And these...
Layout E and F
And these...
Layout G and H
And these...
Layout I and J
 
After moving all those half-square triangle around on my design wall, I was getting pretty tired (but was still inspired). I still wanted to try some other layouts. This time, I did some block layouts. Think about how these would look either side by side or sashed. I liked these too.
Blocks 1, 2, 3
Blocks 4, 5, 6
Then, I thought why couldn't I make a table runner, so I tried one. I liked it too!
Which layout do you like best?
 
I hope I have given you some ideas about the WIDE variety of ways you can put your half-square triangles together. Use one of these designs or play with your half-square triangles to come up with a design all your own.