Complementary Composition: A Michael Miller Challenge Quilt

Complementary Composition grew out of the 2017 Michael Miller/Modern Quilt Guild Challenge.  This is the third year I have participated in the challenge, and this is the first time that my challenge quilt has been selected for participation at QuiltCon.

Complementary Composition full

The fabric for the challenge is Our Yard, and it is super cute!  This actually proved to be a greater challenge to me, because I rarely make quilts that I can describe as cute or even pretty.  I love looking at quilts that are cute, pretty, darling, charming, etc., but I don’t tend to create work that I would use these terms to describe.  Now the question became- How do I incorporate these charming prints into my personal aesthetic?

Michael Miller Challenge Fabric 2017

When I am uncertain how to proceed with a design, I tend to turn to the elements and principles of design.  While the elements and principles of design never exist purely on their own, I find that sometimes narrowing my focus in the initial stages of a design helps to refine my overall vision for the project.  In this case, I initially focused on the element of color and the principle of scale.

There are so many bright colors in the challenge prints that it allows for interpretation in selecting a dominant color palette.  Blue and Orange has always been my favorite complementary color scheme (two colors opposite each other on the color wheel), and I thought that the vibrant combination would honor the energy evoked in the fabric prints.  To add visual dimension, I selected a lighter and darker version of solid color.  I was fortunate enough to make my initial fabric purchase for the quilt while in Paducah, KY at Hancock’s of Paducah.  They carry most of the Michael Miller solids, so I was able to make my color choices with the fabrics right in front of me.  When purchasing solids for a project, I try to photograph the ends of the bolts just in case I need to order more, which did happen during this project.

Michael Miller Solids

The official challenge only required that two of the prints in the line be incorporated into the finished quilt, but as a personal challenge, I wanted to use each one included in the bundle that was sent out.  In order to make this work with my aesthetic and the color scheme of the quilt, scale was going to be an extremely important aspect of the design.  The most graphic print in the bundle is the black, grey, and white print which is the most closely aligned to my aesthetic.  This would be the dominant print.  The black and white leaf print on the mustard and aqua backgrounds is closely associated with the striped print, and I liked that the spacing of the print give the eye a place to rest in the background and allows it to work with the solid fabrics surrounding it.  I knew that this print was a prime candidate for fussy cutting to highlight the leaf image.

Complementary Composition fussy cut detail

The busiest prints were going to be the most challenging to work in, so they were going to be used in the smallest pieces.  The 1/8″ slivers of these fabrics create energetic lines and break up large expanses of the solid fabrics.

Complementary Composition Piecing Detail

This quilt is constructed using a structured improv technique.  The pieces are measured and trimmed as they are sewn, but there is no predetermined design for the piece.  I started the process by constructing blocks loosely based on Log Cabin/Courthouse Steps style blocks.  Many of the blocks are built around a fussy cut square or a simply pieced block.  As the blocks were completed, I added them to the design wall.

Complementary Composition Design Wall

Once I decided the blocks were balancing within the design, I filled in the open areas with strips of fabric.

Complementary Composition Echo Quilting

For the quilting of the piece, I wanted to emphasize the linear qualities of the piecing by using a mix of vertical, horizontal, and diagonal straight line quilting as well as echo quilting.  The echo quilting highlights a visually contained shape while the vertical lines give a sense of strength that is balanced by the calming force of the horizontal lines.  Mixing in strong diagonal lines gives a greater energy and a sense of the unexpected to the overall design.

Complementary Composition Use of Challenge Fabric

The binding is a mix of solids with just a small section of striped fabric to draw the eye back toward the center of the quilt.

Quilt Stats:

Title:  Complementary Composition

Size: 63″ x 69″

Techniques:  Machine Piecing, Structured Improvisational Piecing, Fussy Cutting

Quilting:  Linear Quilting using an A-1 Longarm equipped with digital channel locks that can be set to any angle

Fabric:  Michael Miller Our Yard Prints and Cotton Couture Solids

Batting:  Hobbs 80/20

Thread:  Pieced using Gutermann Mara 100, Quilted with 50wt Aurifil

Binding:  Bias binding in a mix of solids and striped print cut at 2″ wide, machine stitched to the front, hand finished on the back

Why I Pre-wash My Quilting Fabric

I confess . . .  I’m a pre-washer.  I know that a lot of quilters prefer their fabric right off the bolt, but I feel a lot more confident about the appearance and longevity of my quilts when I know as much about my fabrics as possible before I start cutting them up.

The Big Three Reasons I Pre-Wash:

  1. The fabric will shrink before it goes into a quilt with other fabrics that may shrink at different rates
  2. If the dyes used on the fabric are going to run, I would much rather know before I put them next to other fabrics.  If a fabric bleeds a lot in the original wash, I will often wash it one or two more times.  Occasionally, there is a fabric that never stops bleeding, and I am very careful about where I will incorporate that fabric.  It may be perfectly fine in an all mid-tone quilt, but it would never be appropriate to use in a quilt with a light background.
  3. Pre-washing removes any residual chemicals or finishes that were added to the fabric during the manufacturing process.  I rarely wash my quilts immediately following the construction process, so I want it as clean as possible to start.  It also can’t hurt to make as little skin contact as possible with the residues.

One of the big downfalls that I hear about pre-washing is the tendency to have fabric ravel out.  To prevent this I stitch around the edges of the fabric prior to throwing it into the wash.  The easiest way to do this would be a serger or overlock machine, but since I don’t have one, I use my domestic machine.

You could use a zig-zag stitch to accomplish this, but my machine (as well as most other zig-zag machines) have a special stitch for this.  This stitch is called the Vari-overlock stitch in my machine manual, and it is recommended for stretch fabrics, but it works great for edging other fabrics as well.  The foot for this has a slender piece of metal that is zig-zagged over while it holds the edge of the fabric flat and prevents the fabric from rolling.

Fabric Edging Process

The stitch itself is a series of short straight stitches followed by zig-zag stitch.  You can make the stitch have tighter spacing by reducing stitch length.  I use approximately a two stitch length for edging fabric for washing.  When I use this technique for finishing edges on clothing, pillows, etc. I shorten the stitch length.

Fabric Edging Finished

How do you feel about pre-washing fabric?

Cloud 9 New Block Blog Hop

I love designing new blocks and quilt designs, and I am so excited to work with the wonderful palette of solids provided by Cloud 9 Fabrics!

Designing this block took me back to my undergrad years as a painting major when I spent a great deal of time experimenting with pattern, particularly plaid.

berry-patch-plaid-block

The group of Organic Cirrus Solids in a Berry Harvest Color Palette included a dark and light version of two of the colors, so I was inspired to use these to create an illusion of dimension.

cloud-9-cirrus-solids

Standard machine piecing techniques are used to construct this block, so anyone who is comfortable with accurate cutting and stitching a consistent 1/4″ seam allowance can make this block.  The pattern for Berry Patch Plaid is available as a free download on Craftsy.

Multiple blocks would make an awesome complete quilt!

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More than 60 new blocks have been shared during this three day hop, so I hope you will take a look at some of the wonderful designs that have been created in this color scheme!

2016 New Quilt Bloggers

A big thank you to Cloud 9 Fabrics and our wonderful hosts, Yvonne of Quilting Jet Girl, Cheryl of Meadow Mist Designs, and Stephanie of Late Night Quilter!

Today you will see new posts from these bloggers:

Host: Stephanie @Late Night Quilter

Kathy @Kathys Kwilts and More
Paige @Quilted Blooms
Mary @Strip Quilts Pass it On
Allison @Woodberry Way
Seven @The Concerned Craft
Olusola @Alice Samuel’s Quilt Co.
Ann @Brown Paws Quilting
Jodie @Persimmon + Pear
Vicki @Orchid Owl Quilts
Kitty @Night Quilter
Francine @Mochawildchild
Shelley @The Carpenter’s Daughter who Quilts
Jayne @Twiggy and Opal
Geraldine @Living Water Quilter
Shannon @Shannon Fraser Designs
Lisa @Sunlight In Winter Quilts
Jessica @Quilty Habit
Cassandra @The (not so) Dramatic Life
Deanna @Stitches Quilting
Denise @Craft Traditions

Tuesday’s Bloggers were:

Host: Cheryl @Meadow Mist Designs

Miranda @I Have Purple Hair
Jennifer @The Inquiring Quilter
Sarah @123 Quilt
Leanne @Devoted Quilter
Jen @Patterns By Jen
Jennifer @RV Quilting
Amanda @Quiltologie
Sharon @Yellow Cat Quilt Designs
Jen @A Dream and A Stitch
Jen @Faith and Fabric
Carole @Carole Lyles Shaw
Stephanie @Quilt’n Party
Susan @Sevenoaks Street Quilts
Katrin @Now What Puppilalla
Amista @Hilltop Custom Designs
Nicole @Handwrought Quilts
Marla @Penny Lane Quilts
Silvia @A Stranger View
Sarah @Smiles Too Loudly
Carrie @the zen quilter
Mary @Quilting is in My Blood
Velda @GRANNYcanQUILT

Mondays designers were:

Host: Yvonne @Quilting Jetgirl

Abigail @Cut & Alter
Janice @Color, Creating, and Quilting!
Lorinda @Laurel, Poppy, and Pine
Melva @Melva Loves Scraps
Renee @Quilts of a Feather
Kathryn @Upitis Quilts
Kim @Leland Ave Studios
Amanda @this mom quilts
Holly @Lighthouse Lane Designs
Irene @Patchwork and Pastry
Jennifer @Dizzy Quilter
Karen @Tu-Na Quilts, Travels, and Eats
Anne @Said With Love
Suzy @Adventurous Applique and Quilting
Sharla @Thistle Thicket Studio
Kathleen @Smiles From Kate
Amanda @Gypsy Moon Quilt Co.
Sarah @Sarah Goer Quilts
Chelsea @Patch the Giraffe
Jinger @Trials of a Newbie Quilter
Anja @Anja Quilts
Daisy @Ants to Sugar

Moroccan Star: A Michael Miller Challenge Quilt

This summer, the Modern Quilt Guild (MQG) announced this year’s Michael Miller fabric challenge, and I couldn’t resist signing up.  Those metallic prints are so much fun!  I had an idea at that point, but once the fabrics arrived, I decided to change directions based on the exact prints that arrived.Moroccan Star finished quilt

Glittery metallics made me think of shining stars and opulence.  I typically prefer silver, but for this project I was really drawn to the gold printed fabrics.  To supplement the package of fabric sent by Michael Miller, I purchased some of the white and gold confetti dot also from the Glitz collection, and a Michael Miller black solid.MM Challenge

This design started with the fabric printed to imply interlocking circles.  I started experimenting by creating circles highlighting different sections of the print.  Once the circle sizes were determined, I drafted the motif that would create the final star design. I started the construction by hand appliquéing the circles to the white background pieces.  Those pieces were then added to the solid black background.  Moroccan Star process shot

 

Moroccan Star finished quilt top

For the quilting, I wanted to break up the background by using different quilting designs on either side of the appliquéd star motifs.  The quilting thread is a very dark grey which added a bit of extra dimension to the solid color surface.  I used the longarm for this quilt and the circle pattern was entirely free-motion using a dot to dot technique.  It is far from perfect, but it was the first time I had attempted this, so it could have been far worse!  I tend to like a hand drawn quality in free motion quilting, so I ultimately decided to leave it in and embrace the character of the piece.  Moroccan Star finished detail A

The lines around the stars and the tightly spaced vertical lines are also free-motion, but for the horizontal lines on the left side of the quilt I did lock the machine on the track before hand guiding the stitching.Moroccan Star finished detail B

This quilt was one of my entries in to QuiltCon, so now I (like many of you!) are waiting to hear which quilts we will see at the show in February.

Quilt Stats

Title:  Moroccan Stars

Size:  41″ x 40.5″

Techniques:  Needle turn appliqué

Quilting:  Free motion and linear quilting done on an A-1 Longarm

Fabric:  Michael Miller Glitz collection and Michael Miller solid

Batting:  Hobbs 80/20 in black

Thread:  Hand appliquéd with Gutermann Mara 100 in white, Quilted with 50wt Aurifil in a a dark grey

Binding:  Michael Miller solid black fabric (to match background) cut in 2″ wide bias strips, machine stitched to the front, hand stitched to the back

Goal #23 is finished!

Goal #23 is finished!

 

MQG Riley Blake Challenge Quilt

Several months ago when the Modern Quilt Guild announced a challenge using these fabulous fabrics from Amanda Herring’s Cottage Garden line, I knew that I had to participate.  I am really excited to share this finished lap quilt today.In the Garden teal side

These prints are Gorgeous!

Riley Blake Challenge Fabric

The Rules are pretty straight forward for this challenge:

  • Make something fantastic that is quilted
  • Make something you have never done before
  • Challenge yourself to learn something new
  • Use only Riley Blake Cottage Garden fabrics and coordinating Riley Blake basics and solids

I was really excited to discover that this line of fabrics also had a pink color way.  With this information I knew that I wanted to do something reversible.  I have been fascinated by potholder quilts lately.  I love the idea of making mini quilts, another current obsession, come together to make a larger piece.  Potholder quilts almost always are constructed from square blocks, but on this project I thought it would be fun to try using hexagonal blocks.  Since each section is bound separately, the binding would highlight the hexagon construction from both sides of the quilt.In the Garden pink side

The front section focuses on the teal and grey fabrics in the collection and is made with six equilateral triangles per hexagon.  Some triangles are a mix of fabrics which were strip pieced together, others were a larger piece which was fussy cut with or without an added border.  In the Garden teal detail b

The back of the quilt highlights the pink fabrics in the collection, and on this side I decided to attempt a directional pattern to draw your eye across this side of the quilt.  For this I did strip piecing like I had used on the front of the quilt.  This time, instead of cutting the strip pieced sections only into triangles, I also created full, half, and third hexagon shapes.In the Garden pink detail a

For all of the hexagons, I pieced them to be larger than I ultimately wanted them to end up.  By doing this I was able to quilt each block and trim it to size before binding them.  The most challenging part was getting the centers to align properly, but with careful pinning and a lot of patience it worked out.In the Garden teal detail a

The quilting is an all over floral pattern which echoes one of the Cottage Garden prints.  This was the first time I dared to quilt a larger piece using free motion quilting.  It helped that I was quilting smaller pieces rather maneuvering a large quilt through a small machine.  The tricky part for me was maintaining size continuity in the quilting design throughout the quilt.

In the Garden pink view

 

In the Garden teal detail c

The blocks were each bound in pink and/or grey bias that I made using leftover sections of fabric.  The pink text fabric is the dominant binding so I selected a matching thread to join the hexagons.  For this process I used a triple zig zag on the sewing machine and laid the blocks flat beside one another to stitch their edges together.In the Garden photo shoot

Quilt Stats

Title:  In the Garden

Size:  50″x 61.5″ 

Techniques:  Machine piecing, potholder style quilt

Quilting:  Free motion, all over floral motif which reflects the print in one of the fabric designs

Fabrics:  Cottage Garden fabrics by Amanda Herring of The Quilted Fish for Riley Blake and Riley Blake solids

Batting:  Warm and White cotton batting

Thread:  Pieced using white Gutermann Mara 100, Quilted with white machine quilting thread, and assembled with pink Gutermann Mara thread

Binding:  Bias strips of leftover Cottage Garden fabrics, cut in 2″ widths, machine stitched to one side, hand stitched to the other

What was new?

  • Hexagonal blocks assembled into a potholder quilt
  • Using free motion quilting on a larger project
  • Using only one collection of one designer to create a reversible quilt
Goal #16 is finished!

Goal #16 is finished!