Solstice Mini Quilt

I always get excited for Winter Solstice.  The last few weeks have been particularly dreary, and that coupled with the short amount of daylight everyday has made it feel like it is perpetually either dusk or night.  But solstice means we have made it to the shortest day of the year, and for the next six months we will have more daylight every day.  I felt like doing a little something to celebrate, so I designed this mini quilt.

Winter Solstice Quilt

Winter Solstice Quilt


I decided to feature evergreens since they are about the only sign of plant life this time of year in the midwestern US.  I also wanted to embrace modern shapes, and lately I have been thinking of doing something with a “Flying Geese” motif.  After some very rough sketches, I sat down to draft and eventually landed on this design.  The flying geese are paper pieced in wedges, with each triangle growing smaller as it reaches the top of the tree.  The Wedges are then joined with the background pieces to construct the overall pattern for the design.

Solstice Trees Line Drawing

Solstice Trees Line Drawing

Once the line drawing was done, I moved to color options.  I started with a standard landscape color scheme with green trees and blue sky, but quickly abandoned it.

Solstice Mini Quilt with "Standard" Color Scheme

Solstice Mini Quilt with “Standard” Color Scheme

Then I decided to try something monochromatic.

Solstice Mini Quilt in a Monochromatic Color Scheme

Solstice Mini Quilt in a Monochromatic Color Scheme

Then I went with something more high contrast and modern.

Solstice Mini Quilt in High contrast Modern Color Scheme

Solstice Mini Quilt in High contrast Modern Color Scheme

Finally, I realized that since I am thinking of this quilt as a celebration of Solstice, maybe I should embrace a dark background.

Solstice Mini Quilt with a Dark Background

Solstice Mini Quilt with a Dark Background

This is where I was wanting to go with project.  With a general color scheme decided, I went to raid the stash.  I had quite a few low volume prints and batiks in pale greys and blues, but the darker fabric proved more challenging.  In an effort to decrease her stash, my mom had given me pretty much free reign in her collection.  That is where I came across this fabulous piece of Hoffman woodblock print.  The photographs just don’t do this fabric justice- the color variation is delightfully subtle with a wide range of hues that played nicely with the low volume fabrics for the trees.

Solstice Quilt Fabric Selection

Solstice Quilt Fabric Selection

The block design for this quilt is about 18″ so I printed it out over several sheets of paper, taped them together, and cut out the pattern pieces.

Solstice Mini Quilt Paper Pattern Pieces

Solstice Mini Quilt Paper Pattern Pieces

I paper pieced the tree wedges and laid them out with the background pieces so I could keep all of the pieces in their appropriate orientations.

Solstice Mini Quilt with "Tree" wedges assembled

Solstice Mini Quilt with “Tree” wedges assembled

I assemble the quilt top by first joining each tree to the background piece to its right, and then sewing all of those pieces together.

Solstice Mini Quilt Top

Solstice Mini Quilt Top

I almost went with a single piece of fabric for the back of the quilt, but decided at the last minute to mix it up just a little bit.  I decided to echo the idea of the evergreen tree on the back of the quilt as well.  I cut unequally sized triangles from some of the low volume fabrics used on the front, and stitched them together to form a larger triangle.  Once this was inserted into the quilt back, it creates another version of an abstract evergreen tree.

Solstice Quilt Back View

Solstice Quilt Back View

The quilting design proved to be more of a challenge.  Since I wasn’t feeling particularly inspired, I printed off a few copies of my line drawings and started sketching some of my ideas.  At first I thought about doing straight horizontal lines.

Horizontal Quilting Design

Horizontal Quilting Design

Then I considered echoing the shapes of the trees.

Echo Quilting Design

Echo Quilting Design

Then I started thinking about doing some free motion designs.

Freemotion Quilting Designs

Free-motion Quilting Designs

Free-motion quilting is one of my great weaknesses, so I was a little hesitant.  I have only ever experimented using scraps of fabric and batting, so this was the first time for doing any of this type of work on something “real.”  Of all my possible quilting designs, I liked the swoops in the trees and the circles on lines in the background the best.  I took a chance on free-motion, and I think the swoops in the triangle of the trees and the wavy lines in the snow are coming close to being ok.  However, I wish I had practiced a lot more on quilting circles before attempting the background design.  I almost ripped it out to try again, but I decided to leave it.  I think I’ll keep this quilt as-is to serve as a “base line” piece.  In the coming year, one of my major goals is to improve my free-motion quilting, so hopefully I can come back to this quilt in a year and marvel at my improvement.  We all have to start somewhere!

Winter Solstice Quilt

Winter Solstice Quilt

Quilt Stats

Title:  Solstice Trees

Size:  17.5″x17.5″

Techniques:  Paper Piecing, Standard Piecing

Quilting:  Machine Free-Motion Quilting on a Bernina 1008

Fabrics:  Background-Hoffman woodblock print,  Trees and Ground- low volume prints and batiks

Batting: Warm and White cotton batting

Thread:  Pieced with Gutermann Mara 100 in grey, Quilted with cotton machine quilting thread in white and navy

Binding: Bias made from the background fabric- cut at 2″, machine stitched to the front, hand stitched on the back

What would I do differently?  Oh my goodness do I ever need to work on free-motion quilting!  Otherwise, I think this quilt would look great with the background also quilted in white, just like the trees.  I think it would look like snow falling amongst the trees.  I also may have left the background a single fabric- I wasn’t happy with the dark thread on the white tree shape.  However, I really liked how the white quilting showed on the back of the quilt.

Have a happy Solstice!

 

I am linking this post to Let’s Bee Social at Sew Fresh Quilts, Whoop Whoop Friday at Confessions of a Fabric Addict, Finish It Up Friday at Crazy Mom Quilts, Show off Saturday at Sew Can She, and A Very Merry Happy Holiday Linky Party at Quiltville’s Quips & Snips.  Please stop by to see all of the beautiful work everyone is producing!

Sew Fresh Quilts

Fabric!

Earlier this month, Sew Mama Sew hosted a giveaway week, and I am super excited that I won a fantastic bundle of fabric from Cynthia Brunz at Quilting is more fun than Housework.  The fabric arrived yesterday and it is beautiful!

April Showers Bundle


 

All of the fabrics in this bundle are from April Showers by Bonnie & Camille, which is put out by Moda.  I always think that it is difficult to do justice to fabric in a photograph, and these are even more fantastic in person.  The colors work wonderfully with the cheerful patterns of the design, and the texture is lovely.

April Showers Fabric

 

I am so excited to get to work with these prints!

A Whirl with Hexagons

Last summer, on an impulse, I decided I wanted to start quilting again.  I had gotten away from quilting when I went off to college, and a trip to a fabric store with a phenomenal selection of quilting cotton re-inspired me.  Having seen some lovely quilts with subtle tones, I decided I would give a low volume quilt a try.  This quilt is the result.

Cassandra I Beaver Low Volume Fail Full


Starting out, I knew that I wanted to do something improvisational, and I wanted to include hexagons.  The hexagons were the starting point for this project.  Each one was created by cutting a circle of fabric and folding the sides to the center to create the hexagon.  In the center of each hexagon I sewed a small fabric yo-yo.  Then each piece was embellished with hand embroidery and glass beads.

Cassandra I Beaver Low Volume Fail Detail D

As I worked on these hexagons, which I knew would become appliqués on the quilt, I began thinking of them as flower petals blowing in the wind on a spring day.  Now the big question:  How do I create a feeling of wind in a quilt?  I wanted to develop a sense of sweeping movement and an illusion of individual gusts rolling into one another.  After a great deal of sketching and brain storming, I landed on the idea of having individual segments of irregular shapes coming together to form a quilt.  I started with the section in the upper left section, and then moved to the piece spanning the bottom of the quilt.  At this point, I realized I was going to need to create a more defined plan to develop the rest of the quilt layout.  I took a snapshot of what I had completed so far, and printed out several copies on regular printer paper so I could easily draw on top of the image.  This composition was ultimately the one I liked the best.

C Beaver Low Volume Fail Process Sketch

I used a flannel sheet on a wall to do the layout for this quilt, and to transfer the shape of each piece to the design wall I safety pinned 1/4″ wide fabric twill tape to the fabric to create an outline of each major area.  Then I began piecing sections one at a time.  Each segment is improvisationally pieced, quilted, and bound with bias strips prior to being connected to the adjoining segments.  I used a walking foot on my domestic sewing machine to quilt each segment with lines reflecting the piecing of each area of the quilt.

Cassandra I Beaver Low Volume Fail Detail A

In keeping with the improvisational piecing, I chose to make the binding using a mix of fabrics cut into bias strips.  The bias is machine stitched to the front of the quilt and hand slip stitched to the back.  I used a very small hand slip stitch to connect the segments to one another.

Cassandra I Beaver Low Volume Fail Detail C

The hexagons were appliquéd onto the quilt following the assembly of the quilted panels.  I knew that it was important to me to further a sense of movement with the hexagon placement, so I arranged the pieces to bridge the eight main segments of the quilt.

Cassandra Beaver Low Volume Fail Detail E

 

Ultimately, I did veer away from my initial goal of a low volume quilt, but in the process I have achieved a pastel success.  Because of this, I have titled this quilt “Low Volume Fail, Pastel Win!”

Cassandra I Beaver Low Volume Fail Detail B

 

My only big remaining question is which direction the quilt should go.  I originally designed this piece to hang horizontally, but once it was finished, I began thinking that a vertical orientation may be more appealing.  What do you think?  How would you hang this piece?

Cassandra Beaver Low Volume Fail Orientation

 

Quilt Stats

Title:  Low Volume Fail, Pastel Win

Size: 66″w x 47″h

Techniques:  Machine Improvisational Piecing, Hand Appliqué, Hand Embroidery, Glass Bead Details

Quilting:  Machine quilted using a walking foot on a Bernina 1008

Fabrics: 100% cotton prints and batiks

Batting:  Warm and Natural cotton batting

Thread:  Cotton machine quilting thread

Binding:  Bias, cut in 2″ strips from fabrics used in the quilt.  Machine stitched to the front, and hand stitched to the back

 

This post is linked to “Let’s Bee Social” at Sew Fresh QuiltsNeedle and Thread Thursday at My Quilt Infatuation, Whoop Whoop Fridays at Confessions of a Fabric AddictFinish It Up Friday at Crazy Mom Quilts, and Fresh Sewing Day at Lily’s Quilts.  Please stop by to see all of the wonderful work shared there!

Sew Fresh Quilts

 

My Return to the World of the Quilter!

 

I am so excited to be here and to finally get this blog up and running.  I have been wanting to do this for awhile, and I have enjoyed following the blogs a lot of you have been writing.  I am not new to the world of quilting, but I have taken a bit of a sabbatical for about 15 years.  During that time I have developed skills in other areas of art, design, textiles, and sewing.  I hope that I have become a much stronger textile artist because of these experiences.  I think that it is only fair to tell you a little about myself before I dive right in, so here we go!

( I have shamelessly taken the remainder of this post from the “about” section of this site, so expect a case of déjà vu if you choose to read both!)

cassandra_beaver


I love to create.  For me this takes many forms with this blog mostly focussing on my life as a fiber artist.  My mother taught me to sew starting around the age of three or four (the details are a bit fuzzy!)  I learned to quilt first, then I started sewing clothes, and quilted clothes.  After that I entered a career where I spent a lot of time sewing clothing as well as other things.  I have recently returned to the quilt world, and I am excited to share my adventures with you.

Why the not so dramatic life?  Almost my entire professional life has been spent in the theatre.  And no, I’m not an actress.  I am trained as a scenic and costume designer, and have also spent many years working in various technical roles behind the scenes.  These experiences inform my overall design aesthetic as well as helping me to develop skills which allow me to execute (almost) anything I can dream up.

Vital Stats:

Name: Cassandra Ireland Beaver

Education: MFA in Theatre Design (Specifically Scenic and Costume Design)

BFA in Painting (the Fine Art kind) and Drama: Theatre Design and Technology

States in which I have Lived:  Ohio, Missouri, Utah, Kentucky, Connecticut, Indiana

Places I have Visited: 29 US States, Germany, France, Belgium (well, the bus tour I was on had a rest stop there so that counts, right?), South Korea

Q&A Time

What is your Quilting Style?  I identify myself as a contemporary quilter because I’m going to make whatever I am inspired to create, and I have no intention of plunking myself inside a box.  My quilts each have a particular style, but I do not.

Okay then, what style do your Quilts tend to have?  Most of the pieces I create would be classified as either Modern or Art quilts, although occasionally something more traditional may appear.

What is your Greatest Quilting Strength?  A rather neurotic tendency to insist on seams lining up perfectly and points being sharp

What is your Greatest Quilting Weakness?  Free motion quilting (remember the neurotic thing?)  I shall conquer this!  Or else you will discover me huddled in a corner muttering something about inconsistent stitch lengths.

Do you have any experience teaching what you discuss here?  I was a college professor teaching scenic and costume design for a few years, and I managed a university (theatre) costume shop for a couple of years before that.  I have taught a lot of people how to sew, but not as many how to quilt.  I hope to return to teaching soon in a more quilt-based capacity!

How can I contact you?  You can email me at:   cassandra(at)thenotsodramaticlife(dot)com

What about that theatre stuff you mentioned?  If you are so inclined, please check out some of my theatre designs at www.cassandraireland.com

What is the best piece of advice you can give to a fellow quilter?  Be fearless with your work!  Try a new technique!  Create an original design!  You are in control of the fabric!

Thank you so much for visiting!  Your comments are important to me, and I will make every effort to respond!