9 Patch Circles

I love using colorful thread.  There is a good chance that you have gathered that if you have seen much of my work.  I also have a tendency to use it the most in matchstick quilting.  In the last few weeks I had been contemplating how I could infuse a quilt with colorful thread in an abstract way without using straight lines.  Ultimately the idea of circles took over.

9 Patch Circle front

This mini quilt is mostly a sketch to explore a quilting technique, so I kept the construction process as simple as possible.  Prior to quilting the circles were all held in place with Wonder Under fusible web and the small size (15″ square) made it really easy to throw on the longarm to quilt.

9 Patch Circles process

The quilting thread matches the fabrics and then infuses color into the adjoining fabric.  The color of the outermost section of the concentric circle flows out into the background through the quilting.  I stuck with 50wt thread for this because I wanted to make a lot of lines over a small area, and didn’t want too much thread build up.  I decided to emphasize the grid configuration of the circles and juxtapose the dominant curves of the circles with some straight lines.  Some simple, white matchstick quilting between the rows and columns of dots accomplishes this goal.  The quilting on this took about an hour, but most of that was thread changes :)

9 Patch Circle detail

The quilt is finished with a simple facing that matches the backing fabric.  I love using a solid backing on a quilt with lots of thread colors to show off all of that work.

9 Patch Circles back

Quilt Stats:

Title:  9 Patch Circles

Size: 15″ x 15″

Techniques:  Fused Applique

Quilting:  Free motion quilting using an A-1 Longarm

Fabric:  Assorted solids on a Kona Snow background with Kona Snow backing

Batting:  Hobbs 80/20

Thread:  Quilted with a variety of 50wt Aurifil

Binding:  Facings to match the quilt background and backing

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

Road Trip Case

This year for the Central Ohio Modern Quilt Guild we did an end of the year gift swap with a mix of  handcrafted and purchased items.  We drew names at the November Meeting, and the person I chose had been eying the Road Trip Case by Noodlehead.  My partner likes Autumnal colors and Alison Glass designs, so I selected a palette  of her batiks and prints.

Road Trip Case Exterior

There are several different pockets and pieces of trim, so it was fun to choose where each fabric would go.  The pattern suggests batting for the quilted case exterior, but I switched it out for Soft and Stable foam, and I’m really pleased with the result.  I incorporated a few lines of walking foot quilting on the exterior using 28wt Aurifil.

Road Trip Case Interior

There are two options for the fabric pockets in the bag; two long or four short.  I wasn’t sure which to go with, but I ended up choosing the shorter pockets since it will most likely be used for sewing notions.  The pocket flaps with hook and loop tape (velcro) closures seemed useful to help contain smallish notions.  I often don’t care for hook and loop tape closers since the hook side can pick up so much fuzz.  I briefly considered replacing the tape with magnetic snaps.  Ultimately, I decided that the velcro allowed more leeway in where the pocket flap could close depending on how full the pocket was.  Hopefully it will work for my partner!

Road Trip Case Pocket detail

The case itself went together fairly easily, and I’m sure if I were to make more it would go quite quickly.  Like most bags, I felt like it took as long to cut out and interface the pieces, as it did to do the actual construction.  The vinyl pocket has the potential to be finicky, but I was pleased how well my machine handled this fabric especially since I don’t have a teflon foot.  I didn’t even end up needing to lay tissue paper over the vinyl while sewing.

The Road Trip Case looks like a great bag for small sewing projects, and would be a fabulous art kit for kids.  This would definitely make a fabulous holiday gift!

Aurifil Cookies

What could be more perfect than Aurifil cookies for a Modern Quilt Guild meeting?!

Aurifil Cookies

When I heard about a 3-D printing cookie cutter workshop at a local library, I knew that I had to attend.  I have had a long standing fascination with 3-D printing, and this was the perfect opportunity to get a close-up experience.  It was hard to choose what cookie cutter design to make, but I thought that an Aurifil spool would be perfect since I could use it for lots of cookies to take to meeting, and it isn’t a shape that is readily available commercially.

Aurifil Cookie Cutter Printing

We used the Cookie Caster web site to design our cutters, and then it was sent to the 3-D printer and less than an hour later, it was a cookie cutter.

Aurifil Cookie Cutter

All that’s left to do is make and decorate your favorite rolled cookie recipe!

Overlay: A Riley Blake Challenge Quilt

Overlay is the quilt I created using the Rockstar line from Riley Blake fabrics for the Modern Quilt Guild challenge last Spring.

Overlay front view

I focused on the red and white prints because I liked the idea of using such a classic color combination (such as the popular red & white quilt exhibition!) in contemporary prints.  The design of the quilt also embraced the juxtaposition of classic and contemporary.  The first step for this project was to make a traditional quilt top using a Flock of Geese block.

Assembled Blocks for Overlay

Once the top was complete, I started deciding which areas would be obstructed by the circular overlays.  To assist with this process, I made circles from printer and craft paper so I could experiment with scale.

Overlay Placement 1

Overlay Placement 2

Once the right scale was achieved, I used the paper pieces as templates to cut the fabric pieces.

Overlay Placement 3

After determining the final layout, I cut corresponding circles from quilt top that had a radius 1/2″ smaller.  Then I machine pieced in the circles- thats right- there is NO APPLIQUÉ in this quilt!

For me, the quilting is where my vision really comes to life.  I wanted the texture to tell the story of the quilt even in the sections where the overall pattern is obscured by the circles.  For example- if you were to paint a mural on a brick wall, the color changes with the design, but the underlying texture remains the same.  In this quilt, the Flock of Geese design is carried through the entire quilt top using the quilting.

Overlay front detail

Where the white portions of the Flock of Geese block would fall, vertical matchstick quilting is used. In the red areas, organic mixed motif quilting is used.  The thread color matches each fabric used on the front of the quilt.

Overlay Back

The back of the quilt is a mix of red, white, and aqua Riley Blake fabrics.  A facing finishes the edges of the quilt so there is no visual border trying to contain the circles that appear to float off the edge.

Overlay Back Detail

On the back of the quilt, you can really see some of the thread color changes that blend in on the front of the quilt.

I was able to enter this quilt into the county fair, and it received a first place and a best of division award!

Overlay County Fair

Quilt Stats:

Title:  Overlay

Size: 47″ x 63″

Techniques:  Machine Piecing

Quilting:  Matchstick and Mixed Motif Free-motion Quilting using an A-1 Longarm

Fabric:  Riley Blake Rockstar Prints and solids on the front, assorted Riley Blake fabrics on the back

Batting:  Hobbs 80/20

Thread:  Pieced using Gutermann Mara 100, Quilted with 50wt Aurifil in three colors to match the fabrics used

Binding:  Facing in coordinating Riley Blake prints

This quilt was entered into QuiltCon 2018