Evaluating the Whole Quilt

I love to look at the front of a quilt closely–the small stitches, the seams that match, the workmanship and artistry which go into the small things.  However, if a quilt is only looked at closely the visual impact of the quilt is not truly seen.s-l500 (2)

The pictures above are close-ups of a blue and white quilt.  The block above is called Fly Foot.  It looks fairly simple to construct–a half square triangle pinwheel and some bars.  Blue and white is one of the most popular color combinations in quilts.  From the closeup photos of this quilt it could be difficult to date–indigo solids have been produced for centuries.  Now look below at the whole quilt:

s-l500

Wow!  No longer is it just another blue and white quilt.  The movement and pattern of the blue lines give the quilt energy and make the eye move around the quilt.  So many blue and white quilts are tranquil and serene–not this one!!

Have a quilty day!!

On the Longarm–Rail Fence

The rail fence block design is one of the first blocks many quilters learn to sew.  It is easy to cut (all of the pieces are the same), easy to sew (no matching corners or tricky bias edges) and it looks great!  I love the way that the quilter has arranged the blocks to look like a basket weave.  I love to help quilters finish their quilts.  I chose an allover (edge to edged) design with leaves and swirls which echoed the fabric design and gave the impression of vines growing on the fence.

Have a quilty day!!

On the Longarm–Tips for Making Flannel Quilts

The quilting group at my church received a donation of a gigantic box filled with plaid flannel triangles–all shapes, colors and designs.  We were overwhelmed.  However we started to sew the triangles into squares, trimmed them to several different uniform sizes and then sewed them together.  For some of us it was a challenge to work without a pattern, but I believe the quilts we produced will provide warmth to those who need it in during the winter months.

Here are some tips for dealing with flannel:

  1.  Clean out your machine regularly–flannel produces a lot of lint which can clog up the bobbin area.  Every time you change your bobbin, make sure to take a brush to clean out the bobbin case  according to your machine’s owner’s manual.
  2. If possible, pre-wash flannel.  Doing so will help make it less stretch-y, it will reduce lint, and there will be less fraying (because the fibers have shrunk).
  3. Flannel frays badly.  You might want to use a slightly larger seam allowance or finish the fabric edges with a stay stitch.  Before sending the quilt to your long arm quilter, stay stitch around the outer edge.
  4. Choose a design which is easy to sew–squares and rectangles are easiest.  Bias edges on pieces like the triangles are more challenging because they stretch.  Trimming to a uniform size after sewing ensures that blocks can be sewn together accurately.
  5. Blocks with lots of seam intersections should be avoided.  Flannel is thicker than quilting cotton, so it is more difficult to avoid bulky seam intersections.  Consider pressing seams open.  Quilting through bulky seam intersections threw the timing of my long arm off and resulted in several days of frustration as I readjusted it.  I am now well versed in the art of adjusting my needle bar height.
  6. Because flannel frays and stretches, allow extra border width so that the quilt can be trimmed square after quilting.

Although flannel can be challenging to work with, don’t despair.  Nothing feels better than a flannel quilt and a cup of hot chocolate on a day when the high temperature is -40°.  It’s hard to imagine in July, but we  know that ‘winter is coming.’

Have a quilty day!!

Appraisals–Continuing Education

Appraising art quilts can be very challenging because the techniques and the materials used in them are constantly changing and evolving.  One of the ways that I keep current is to take classes from successful art quilters.  I was privileged to take a class from Norma Riehm on fabric layering techniques.  She provided us with kits in several different color ways which included everything but our sewing machines.  Each quilt was beautiful and despite having the same things in each kit, each of the quilts made during the class looked different.

img_2071

This was the first time I worked with Angelina fibers, roving, yarn, silk flowers, beads, and crystals–all together in one piece.    Norma discussed the sources for her materials and impressed me with her bargain hunting ability!  I am sure that I will be checking out garage sales for art supplies once the weather gets warmer.

We started with a typical quilt sandwich and then layered fibers and flowers onto it, finishing with a layer of tulle.  The next step was to quilt it.  In future works I might try using some wool batting because it has the ability showcase quilting well.  I loved adding crystals to the piece with the hot fix crystals and the aid of a pin.  Norma then taught us how to bead so that the beads would be shown off to the best advantage and so that they would be securely attached.

The biggest takeaway from the class for me was her attention both to the craftsmanship and to the artistry of each piece.

Thank you Norma!!

 

On the Longarm today…Continuing Education

I love going to classes because I am always inspired by teachers to stretch myself creatively or technically.  At the AQS Des Moines show I was thrilled to be able to take a class with Judy Woodworth on Backfills, the designs which we put around the main quilting motifs.  I was amazed to see her work also up in a special exhibit with the show.  It is rare to be able to see, in person, how a quilter has grown in their art over many years.  Judy is an innovator in so many different techniques–her works include piecing, applique, whole cloth, paint, crystals, embroidery to name just a few.  In fact, I was the lucky winner of the above small quilt which was made by Judy for a class sample.  Thank you Judy!!

img_2066

In the class we learned how to form various backfill designs and how to stitch them out.  (I won the class sample too, it was my lucky day!)   One thing I took away from the class was to not limit myself to the typical backfill–such as pebbles, McTavishing, or stippling. The sky is truly the limit.   Judy uses all kinds of designs as backfill–feathers, spiral roses, etc.  She also taught us to make a spiral feather flower (for lack of a more succinct name) which I am practicing so it may appear in a quilt soon!! (One of those is mine, can you tell which one?)

img_2065

 

Art with Fabric Blog Hop–Landscape with Birds

I have always loved the artist, Paul Klee, so when Alida invited me to join the Art with Fabric Blog Hop, I jumped at the chance.  Alida asked us to choose ‘a’ work of art to inspire our textile creations.  I couldn’t choose just one!!

Instead, I chose two pieces by Paul Klee:

The first is titled, “Landscape with Yellow Birds,” and the second is “Fire in the Evening Sky.”(Museum of Modern Art, New York).  Of course, one can’t have two without three so I found a poem on Jill Berry Design‘s blog which really spoke to me about hope.

LANDSCAPE WITH YELLOW BIRDS
Shuntaro Tanikawa (1931-    )

there are birds
so there is sky
there is sky
so there are balloons
there are balloons
so children are running
children are running
so there is laughter
there is laughter
so there is sadness
so there is prayer
and ground for kneeling
there is ground
so water is flowing
and there’s today and tomorrow
there is a yellow bird
so with all colors forms and movements
there is the world

Paul Klee’s ‘Fire in the Evening Sky’  inspired me to construct my landscape with horizontal lines.  Our beautiful sunsets over the Mississippi river this summer gave me a color scheme.  My birds are drawn from the ‘Birds in Air” block:

birds-in-air

I inserted triangle birds into my landscape–red, for the cardinals which visit my yard, and a yellow bird to add color and hope.

 

img_2033

I chose a quilting design which also used horizontal lines and triangles.  In addition, I drew yellow and red birds with big stitch hand quilting.  Finally, I added some random big stitch quilting lines to add spark and interest.

20160930_114357

I used pearl cotton thread and a chenille needle to do my ‘big stitches’.  I also used a thimble–which, in my opinion, is necessary when doing any type of hand quilting.

Please visit the other bloggers up today:

Bea @ beaquilter (http://www.beaquilter.com/)

Heather @ heatherquilts (http://www.heatherquilts.blogspot.com/)