Curves Mini Quilt Challenge

At the beginning of last month Curated Quilts Magazine issued a mini quilt challenge with the theme of “curves” for an upcoming issue.  I have been sewing lots of curves and circles in the past few years, so this challenge is a really good fit.

The only thing that made it more perfect was the color palette.  I already had every color in the palette in solid fabrics and in multiple weights of Aurifil thread.

I have been sewing a lot of full circles lately using the Classic Curves Ruler by Sharon of Color Girl Quilts to do the cutting.  For this mini I used a similar technique to create partial circles.  I also incorporated 1/8″ pieced slivers into the design for added interest.  I like the way the piecing adds detail in the all solid fabric construction.

Each section is machine echo quilted with 28wt thread, except of the dark green that is quilted in 50wt thread. I left a few open areas to add hand quilted details.  The large stitch hand quilting is done with 12wt thread in straight stitches, plus stitches, and a row of french knots.

I love how the colorful thread and hand stitching transfers the pieced design to the back of the quilt.

The edges of the quilt are finished with facings so the curved design is not interrupted by a binding border.

Quilt Stats

Title:  Converging Curves

Size: 16″ x 16″

Techniques:  Machine Piecing

Quilting:  Echo quilting with a walking foot quilting on a Bernina 1008 and large stitch hand quilting

Fabric:  Cotton solids

Batting:  Hobbs Tuscany Wool

Thread: Quilted with Aurifil 12wt, 28wt, and 50wt in five colors matching each fabric

Binding:  Faced with the Kona solid to match the backing

QuiltCon Jury Results

Every year I enter at least seven juried shows, and QuiltCon is probably the one I fret over the most.  It is definitely the show that I have received the most rejections from!  Thankfully, the jury results come in very quickly for this show- just 17 days this year.  There were only 400 accepted quilts out of over 1750 entries.  With less than 23% of quilts accepted, it’s like going through the college admissions process each year!  I am ecstatic that this year three of my quilts will be in Nashville!  Below are all four of my entries with the description I submitted with each.  The first three were accepted, and the last was not, but more on that later.

Ebb and Flow (51″x64″) is my entry into the Two Color Challenge.

“This quilt stemmed from a desire to create a design that contained equal amounts of two colors while allowing each color to take turns holding a dominant position.   The choice of high contrast black and white fabrics enhance the overall effect of the composition.  The pieced strips in this quilt start at 1/8” wide and increase incrementally across the quilt.”

Complementary Convergence (66″x78″) is in the Use of Negative Space Category.

“Complementary Convergence is based on two separate diamond shaped motifs containing small pieced sections of complementary colors, one bright pink and green, the second turquoise and orange.  Each colorful section of fabric has matchstick quilting running through it that is done with a matching 12wt thread.  This extends the design across the quilt and activates the surrounding negative space.  The magic of the design happens when the quilting lines from the separate motifs converge at either side to create a new, dynamic, and entirely quilted plaid pattern.”

Synthesized Slivers (22″x19″) is in the small quilt category.  I have entered a small quilt almost every year, and this is the first time my entry in that area has been successful!

“Irregular, broken blocks merge together to create a cohesive whole in this improvisational quilt.  Breaks in each block are mended with the addition of a contrasting sliver of fabric.  These unexpected shots of color, metallic flashes, and shiny silk bring a sense of luxury to the utilitarian aesthetic of the dominant fabrics.”

“Resonance uses colorful quilting thread to create a sense of outward movement and reverberation from central points.  Thread that coordinates with each fabric creates a blending sensation as the quilting merges the appliquéd circles with each other and the background.  This quilt was my first 100 day project that ran from New Year’s Day 2018 to my birthday, which fell on the 100th day of the year.”

Resonance (79″x79″) was not accepted into the appliqué category, and I’m fine with that.  This quilt was completed in April, and was the result of my first 100 days project.  In the eight months since its completion, Resonance has been to Spring Quilt Market with the Aurifil booth, and it was in all three fall American Quilter’s Society Shows.  Between these four events, it has been seen by thousands of people already, and I hope some of them were inspired by it!

Ultimately, my main hope is that my quilts can inspire others as much as I am inspired every day by the work I see on Instagram, blogs, and in person at my guild meetings.  I am so excited for February to roll around so I can see and meet all of the amazing quilters at QuiltCon-whether or not they have quilts on display there!

Ebb and Flow

Each year The Modern Quilt Guild includes a style/technique challenge category in QuiltCon, and this year the challenge is a two color quilt.  I was excited to approach this project because I had been casually considering what it would take to make a dynamic quilt top that used the same amount of two fabrics.

For most quilts, I tend to create a set of parameters for the design.  I find that working with some constraints helps me to achieve a more cohesive result.  For this project the parameters are:

  • Two Colors
  • Use equal amounts of each of the colors
  • Use the colors in a way that does not equally distribute the colors in each section of the quilt
  • Make the graphic quality of the design the star (let the quilting take a back seat on this design)

I went through lots of designs before I finally landed on this one.  I liked how the visual weight of each color shifts from one end of the quilt to the other.  The strips are cut in incremental widths with the narrowest strip finishing at just 1/8″ wide.

Many of my show quilts evolve organically, and take a fairly long time to construct, so it was a lot of fun to be able to cut and sew a quilt top in a day!

Ebb and Flow was quilted on my domestic sewing machine, but I did the basting on the longarm using a water soluble thread.  I also tried using a large scale stippling technique for the basting.

The quilting is simple lines, spaced about 1/4″ apart.  I was able to get this quilted while I was a quilting retreat with a group of friends, which was a great way to break up the monotony that comes with stitching hundreds of straight lines.

Once the quilting was finished, I soaked the quilt to remove the basting stitches and blocked the quilt on a frame.  

By the time it dried, it was perfectly flat and ready to be trimmed and finished.  I decided that a facing would work better with this design than a binding because I wanted to to allow the lines of the piecing to extend all the way across the quilt without the frame that a binding creates.

Quilt Stats

Title:  Ebb and Flow

Size: 51″ x 64″

Techniques:  Machine Piecing

Quilting:  Linear machine quilting using a walking foot on a Bernina 1008 domestic

Fabric:  Kona Cotton in black and white with a Moda wide back print

Batting:  Hobbs Tuscany Wool

Thread: Quilted with Aurifil 50wt in white and black

Binding:  Faced with black Kona Cotton

Back to the Bionic Bag

Most of my go-to sewing supplies and notions live in a Bionic Bag that I made several years ago.  It travels around the house from sewing machine to sofa or patio for hand stitching, and it goes with me to guild, sew-ins, and shops when I teach.  This bag is frequently admired, and following several recent requests, I will be teaching this pattern next January at Dabble and Stitch in Columbus, Ohio.

It was so much fun to choose new fabrics for the shop sample!  I love to mix and match fabrics from different designers and lines, and this project was no exception.  The main outer fabric is from Carrie Bloomston’s new Wonder line, and the other fabrics are a mix of designers including Alison Glass and Tula Pink.  I used a walking foot to do some linear quilting on the bag exterior.  I like the look and texture of the quilted bag, but you can also choose to use an iron on interfacing and skip the quilting step.

One of the things I love about the design of this bag is the way the front folds creates a tray when the bag is open.  In this section, I like to add magnetic snaps to hold the dumpling pouch and a small pin cushion.  I use the dumpling pouch for wonder clips, and the pin cushion is stuffed with scraps of wool batting and keeps pins and needles within easy reach.

Between the four zippered pockets and the pouches formed between them, you can fit almost every supply you need for a day or more of sewing.  Once you have made one of these bags, they go together very quickly and make great gifts for sewists and non-sewists  alike.  I have made several over the years, and you can check one out in this Bionic Bag post from a couple years ago.  The Bionic Gear Bag pattern is available for download on Craftsy.

If you would like to join me for the class, it will be held at Dabble and Stitch on Saturday, January 12, 2019 from 10am-4pm. During the day, you will construct most of your Bionic Bag, and you may or may not have time to to work on the optional dumpling pouch.  I hope to see you there!

Infused Plaid

If you follow me on Instagram, you will probably recognize “Infused Plaid” since it is one of my favorite quilts and has traveled quite a bit.  However, I recently realized that I had never blogged about this quilt.  Since this week is the Blogger’s Quilt Festival over at Amy’s Creative Side, I thought I would take the opportunity to have a more in-depth look at this quilt.

Much of quilting is done in a standard routine.  There may be slight variations depending on the specific project and the person making the project, but it usually looks something like this:

  1. Design/create a pattern, or set personal parameters if it will be an improv project
  2. Select fabrics
  3. Construct the quilt top
  4. Choose a quilting design
  5. Layer the quilt backing, batting, and top through basting or loading on a longarm
  6. Quilt the project
  7. Trim and finish the quilt edges.

For Infused Plaid, I decided to mix up the process by starting with designing the pattern of the quilting stitches first.  Then, based on where each color of quilting stitches intersected with the same color, I placed a rectangle or square of matching fabric that would be pieced into the quilt top.

Drafting of the Infused Plaid design

Following the design process, most of the construction of the quilt is done in a standard manner.  The quilt top construction is fairly straightforward and goes together quickly, but the design doesn’t come together until the colorful quilting stitches are added.

This quilt was basted on the longarm machine and then quilted with a walking foot on my domestic Bernina.  For this project, I basted with regular thread, but I since started basting with water soluble thread.  It is amazing to not have to pull out basting stitches!

When I do matchstick quilting, I quilt all one direction first, then quilt any stitching lines that go in the opposite direction.  The dominant, colorful quilting is done first by marking the lines using a 60″ ruler and a roll of masking tape.  In the negative space of the quilt, I place parallel lines of masking tape approximately four inches apart across the quilt to indicate where the first set of quilting stitches will go.  I stitch on either side of the masking tape and remove it as soon as I possibly can.  Next I place a line of stitching about halfway between the previous lines, then halfway between those lines.  The process continues until the lines are approximately 1/8″ apart.  Finally, I mark and stitch the colorful lines running in the opposite direction to complete the plaid design.

Infused Plaid is mostly about the use of quilting thread.  The brightly colored threads are stitched using 28wt thread on the top of the quilt and 50wt on the bottom.  The heavier thread creates a stronger design on the top of the quilt, while the thinner thread in the bobbin helps keep the quilt softer and allows more thread to be loaded onto the bobbin.  The rows of white matchstick stitching is done with 50wt thread on both the top and bottom of the quilt.

As I quilt, I try to make the lines as perfect as possible, but when minor (inevitable) variations occur, I never take them out to redo that portion of the line.  I prefer to leave these moments as a reminder that this is still a hand crafted item.  If the final quilt would become too perfect, it would look like it was constructed by an automated machine rather than a human being.  The “flaws” are what gives this type of quilt some character!

Dense quilting, particularly if it is done on a domestic machine, can result in a quilt that doesn’t want to lay flat.  To deal with this issue, I block my matchstick quilted quilts.  The planning for this process starts very early on when I make my quilt top, because I like to make my top at least a couple inches larger than I hope the quilt will finish.  Since I work with so much negative space, I can to this without worrying too much about how trimming the edges will effect the overall aesthetic.

As soon as a quilt like this is finished, I soak it to prepare for blocking (and remove water soluble basting thread if it was used).  Then I “stretch” the quilt on a simple wooden frame that I staple the edges of the quilt to.  The biggest concern at this point is to make sure the lines of colorful stitching remain as straight as possible.  While the quilt is wet, it is easy to inadvertently distort the lines of stitching.  The stapling process is done on the floor, but once it is complete, I can stand the frame up to allow for better air circulation.  Sometimes I even take the quilt outside for awhile to dry.  It usually only takes a couple hours to dry, but I try to leave the quilt on the frame overnight to make sure that it is completely dry.  I hadn’t taken any photos of Infused Plaid while it was on the frame, so the quilt you see on the frame below is Pivoted Plaid, a close cousin to Infused Plaid.  (What can I say?- I really like plaid!)

To continue the visual lines of the plaid design all the way to the edge of the quilt, I used facings to finish the edge of the quilt rather than a visible binding.

Infused Plaid has been shown in quite a few venues.  It started by being a project in Modern Patchwork magazine.  Then it went to QuiltCon in Savannah where it received a first place in the Negative Space category.  Next it went to the American Quilter’s Society Spring Paducah show where it won a first place in the Modern Quilt category.

It went to several more shows and was included in the book Modern Quilts: Designs of the New Century.

Infused Plaid in Modern Quilts: Designs of the New Century

Recently, Infused Plaid joined its new home as part of the permanent collection of the National Quilt Museum in Paducah, Kentucky.  The museum collection focuses on quilts made since the 1980’s, and I am thrilled that this is the first modern quilt to join their amazing collection!

Infused Plaid at The National Quilt Museum

Quilt Stats

Title:  Infused Plaid

Size: 61″ x 61″

Techniques:  Traditional machine piecing

Quilting:  Matchstick quilting using a walking foot on a Bernina 1008 domestic

Fabric:  Kona Cottons

Batting:  Hobbs 80/20 Cotton Poly Blend

Thread: Quilted with 28wt and 50wt Aurifil

Binding:  Faced with fabric matching the quilt backing