Friday, December 18, 2015

QuiltCon and Why I Love the Quilting Community

As many of you have seen by now, acceptance and non-acceptance (I refuse to say rejection) letters went out to the 1,800+ QuiltCon entries this week. I submitted two quilts this year and I feel very humbled and lucky that both of them were accepted into the show given the roughly 20% acceptance rate. What I'm impressed about though is what I've been seeing on Instagram and online since these announcements. If you haven't already, go search the hashtag #quiltconreject and see all of the amazing quilts that were not selected to hang at QuiltCon this year. Impressive, right?
My Every Which Way quilt will be at QuiltCon 2016
What amazes me is the apparent quality of quilts that appears to have been accepted, but also those that were not. But what might be even more impressive is the response that both the accepted and non-accepted quilts are receiving. We all knew that this quilting community that we belong to is wonderful, but to see the KIND, SUPPORTIVE, ENCOURAGING words that we as quilters are leaving for each other is exactly the reason why I love being a part of this community. With this, I want to say THANK YOU to every one of you for being the type of person that we all strive to be and for encouraging all of us to continue with our journey.
My Milky Way quilt will also be at QuiltCon 2016.
This is the first year that I didn't have a quilt rejected at QuiltCon. In 2013 I submitted two and had one accepted. Last year I submitted five and had two accepted. Here's what I learned from that process that I want to share with you. When I took a look at all of the quilts that were accepted and in the show, I got why some of my quilts were not selected. Sometimes my quilts have more of a modern-traditionalism feel to them instead of a pure modern spin. You know what, I'm TOTALLY okay with that. When I look at the quilts that were accepted, I am so incredibly inspired by the talent, creativity and execution of the quilts in the show. You know what? I can say the same thing about all of the quilts that were not accepted either. With that I say to all of you - please keep doing what you do. You inspire me.
One of my 2015 QuiltCon "rejects" that I still LOVE!
What I think I love most of all is the positive attitude of so many quilters that were not accepted into QuiltCon. I'm constantly reading about how quilters are okay with the fact that their quilt wasn't accepted because they still LOVE their quilt. And the positive comments and likes reaffirm that so many of us also love and enjoy your quilts as well. I know I've made multiple comments about loving quilts that were not juried into a show on Instagram. Because, let's face it, most of us are not show quilters. Is that really what modern quilting is about anyway? Our quilts are meant to be used and loved. They're an expression of who we are and where we are at a point in time in our lives. We should never be ashamed or disappointed about that. Own it!
My Confetti quilt hung at QuiltCon 2015.
I don't envy the judges and the tough decisions that they have to make. As we move closer to QuiltCon and the judging of the quilts, let's remember that they're human. As humans we're programmed to have opinions and they are all different. Let's embrace those differences, because those differences are what make our quilts unique. One person's preferred color palette may not be my preferred palette. I love color and and am not naturally drawn to earth tones. That being said, there are some incredibly amazing quilts out there that use those colors. I think and see things in repetitive patterns a lot and work with paper piecing frequently. While I occasionally work in improv, that process is much more of a stretch for me. To others, that comes naturally. It's those differences, unique perspectives that will continue to advance the modern quilt movement.
My Mod Hex 2 quilt hung at QuiltCon 2015.
There's always a ton of debate about what the modern quilt movement is all about and what makes a modern quilt. To me, that definition must always be fluid. One of the things that I observed is that a style of quilt that might have been accepted last year might not have made the cut this year. Take the pixilated quilt of a celebrity. Last year we saw those quilts hanging at QuiltCon but I've seen some of those in the #quiltconreject thread. Last year they were considered something new and unique. And guess what? They inspired many quilters to make their own version. That's awesome. BUT, if every modern quilt show had the same type of quilts in it, would that continue to evolve the modern quilt movement and push the limit of what we create?
One of my #quiltconreject quilts from 2015.
Here's my challenge to you, go back and compare the first quilt you made and the last quilt you made. My guess is that your styles have changed. Now go back and look at some of the quilts in the Fresh Modern Quilt group on Flickr and see some of the first quilts there vs. what we see today at QuiltCon. See the evolution? With that said, if you're goal is to get a quilt into QuiltCon 2017, my recommendation would be to look around you, at the quilts you see, the patterns and the colors of not just quilts, but life and draw inspiration from that. Now take that inspiration and push the envelope to do something that neither you or anyone else has done before. That, the creativity, the pushing of limits and the uniqueness is what modern quilting is all about and is what will help you get into QuiltCon if that's your end goal. Just continue to make quilts that you love though and you'll end up a winner regardless of the outcome. 

Monday, December 14, 2015

Coming Soon - Kaleidoscope BOM

A while ago I started doodling out different types of kaleidoscope blocks in search of the perfect block. I was originally inspired by my Sunrise Delight quilt, where I took the traditional kaleidoscope block and mixed it up a little. After a bunch of doodling, I couldn't narrow the blocks down and decided to keep going until I had enough to make one a month. Yet I kept doodling to have enough awesome sketches to make two a month. Thus the idea for the Kaleidoscope Block of the Month was born.

With this BOM, I'll post two blocks a month to Craftsy for just $2.50 the first week of the month from January to December in 2016. The blocks will finish at 12.5" unfinished, and if you make all 24 blocks, you'll have a quilt that will measure 72" x 48". Of course you could always take one of the blocks and make an entire quilt out of it. While the blocks will be paper pieced, they're all fairly simple with no seams to match up outside of the point of the kaleidoscope.

Here's a preview of the first two blocks for January:

Here's a look at the fabrics I'm using... I chose four colors, orange, teal, lime and purple and selected a light and dark fabric for both. The backing will be one of my favorite Carolyn Friedlander fabrics.

If you want to sew along, here's what I recommend for fabrics:
Background: 5 yards
Kaleidoscope Fabric: Approximately 8 yards of various prints. For this quilt I will be using eight one yard cuts. You could also use a fat quarter bundle for a more random look. If you go that route, I recommend at least 32 fat quarters that contrast with your background fabric.

I can't wait to see what everyone makes with these fun blocks. 

Monday, December 7, 2015

Every Which Way

I love a good challenge to push me beyond my comfort zone as a way to try new things. Sometimes I'm less than enthusiastic about a challenge, but I forge ahead anyway as a way to try something new and maybe experiment with something I otherwise wouldn't have. That way, if it doesn't come out the way I want, I can just blame the challenge. 

I loved attending the inaugural QuiltCon in Austin a few years back and I was super bummed that I had class the weekend of QuiltCon this year. That's why when I knew I could attend QuiltCon Pasadena in 2016, I booked immediately. I've been lucky enough to have quilts hanging in both shows to date, but with school, I haven't exactly had as much time to quilt these past few years. That meant I had a lack of quilts to submit to QuiltCon. That in and of itself was enough motivation to enter the Michael Miller QuiltCon challenge this year. 

I will admit, at first the metallic dot fabrics did absolutely nothing for me. I've never really been one to use fabric with dots or metallics, so combining them wasn't exactly motivating for me. At the same time, I had been toying with the idea of framing up flying geese blocks and combining them in some way. 

Originally I thought about stacking the geese at the bottom of the quilt and arranging them in various heights. Because I made as many geese as I could with the fat eighths provided, I had a ton of geese that allowed me to play with different layouts. One night as I was getting ready for bed, about two nights after I finished all of the geese, which are paper pieced of course, I thought about doing a design where the geese were in the center of the quilt and they radiated out from the center. After playing around a little, this design is what I came up with. 

I love Cotton Couture solids, so it was a pleasure working with them with this quilt. I pulled a mint solid from my stash that I have been obsessed over to use as the background. Since I was going out of my comfort zone, I figured I'd pull a different color palette for me. I pulled some solids including mango, periwinkle, watermelon and apricot to go with the mint. Normally I wouldn't pair these colors together, but hey, this is a challenge after all. 

And of course, because I can't do anything easy, I decided to matchstick quilt this bad boy ONE WEEK before the deadline to submit this to QuiltCon. Smart, huh? Fortunately my guide locks came in for my longarm and I was able to matchstick quilt this using a light green thread, which matched the mint fabric better than the mint thread I had (go figure). I quilted it in one day during a marathon seven hour quilting session while watching some football. Let's just say my back was killing me after I was done, but many it was so worth it. 

I bound it with the same mint solid fabric because I wanted the flying geese to be the focal point. I didn't want the binding to be distracting. 

One of the things I love about this quilt and the quilting on it is how the matchstick quilting toned down the harshness of the black fabric and really helped blend it all together. I'm really happy with how this quilt came out and while I'm excited to do more matchstick quilting in the future with my new channel locks, I'm not about to do a marathon quilting session again any time soon. 

Quilt Stats:
Size: 50" x 50"
Fabrics: Michael Miller Glitz and Cotton Couture
Thread: Pieced with Aurifil 50wt 2024 and quilted with Super Threads So Fine! 50wt Barely Green (9 bobbin's worth!)
Batting: Quilter's Dream Orient

Monday, November 23, 2015

Zippered Pouch Swap

We decided to conduct a zippered pouch swap within the Boston Modern Quilt Guild, which we conducted at our November meeting. I love making zippered pouches and thought this would be a fun, easy swap that didn't require a ton of time for our members. While I've made a ton of zippered pouches, I never made a boxed pouch. I decided this was the perfect opportunity to make one.

I used the Boxy Bag pattern by Kelby Sews. This really came together quick and easily. The most difficult part was when I went ahead and trimmed my plastic zipper and then unzipped the pouch to iron it. Well, I forgot to tack the end of the now-trimmed zipper and the zipper came right off the teeth and into my hand. It took me a good 15 minutes to get it back on. Once I did, it was smooth sailing from there. You can bet I won't be doing that one again.

This fabric is an Art Gallery fabric that I got in a fat quarter bundle a year or two ago with the coordinating yellow print. The zipper is from Zip It. I used three layers of 101 Pellon interfacing for this. Two pieces on the outer fabric and one on the liner. The pouch is stiff enough to stand on its own but flexible enough to allow the new owner to manipulate it as she wishes. 

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Milky Way Quilt

Several months ago the folks over at Michael Miller reached out to me and asked me to help participate in a 100 Quilt Block project in conjunction with Janome. The block needed to be six inches square and use the provided Cotton Couture solids from Michael Miller. I'm a huge fan of Cotton Couture, as I find the hand feel of those solids the best in the industry (along with Art Gallery's solids). So of course, I set to work designing a fun paper pieced block.

I had fun making this block and decided to make a larger quilt out of it. I took the remaining solids that were in the bundle Michael Miller provided and enlarged the block to 12" square and made the following quilt with it. (Excuse the less than stellar photos, with it getting dark so early these days, it's hard to get a good photo right now.)

This was the first time I used a cream-colored binding to blend in with the vanilla background I used to offset the four quilt blocks. I'm slightly worried that it will get dirty easier, but I'm willing to take that chance.

Here's a closeup of the quilting. I used an Auriful 50 weight thread in Chalk (#2026) to quilt this on my domestic machine. I did most of the quilting on an diagonal parallel to one of the star points, but changing direction about three quarters of the way through to add some dimension and twist to the quilting.

To download the pattern for free and see the rest of the blocks, visit the Janome site.

This quilt measures 30" square, so I'm entering it into the small quilt category in the Blogger's Quilt Festival

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

A Few Zippered Pouches

I've been itching to sew lately, but with my travel schedule the way it has been, that hasn't been easy. In order to finally have a finish behind my belt, I decided to make a few wide open pouches (the medium size). I feel like I'm past the wedding stage of my live and have moved onto the baby stage where instead of going to weddings every month, I'm going to baby showers instead. So having a few of these on hand for gifts will be good, especially since I won't have the time to make quilts for all of them even though I'd like to.

I love making these pouches because it's a great way to dig into my stash and use up some of those novelty prints or fabrics I'm not quite sure what to do with anymore. Sometimes they just make the perfect pouch or bag.

Now to dig into a quilt or two! 

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

A little Rusty

Last week I finally put a quilt on my Handi Quilter frame to start quilting. I've got a massive backlog of quilt tops that need quilting. Now that I've graduated (yay!), I can finally spend some free time quilting some of these quilts.
To start and get back into the swing of things, I loaded this mini quilt based on my Dazzling Diamonds pattern on the frame to practice with.

A while back, I snapped this photo above. One of the things I love about paper piecing is that I can sketch out a few quilting ideas on the back of the quilt before I take the paper off.

Unfortunately, I discovered that my quilting skills are a bit rusty. I started doing that back and forth in the white, but I hated how it was turing out. I just couldn't get it to look right, so I ripped it out, twice. I then turned to my trusted loop quilting and liked that. I'm done with the white and started to move onto the blue, but I'm having tension issues. I'll rewind a bobbin sometime this week and will give it another go since I think the bobbin I'm using wasn't wound tight enough. I've got more unpicking to do to take the blue out, but fortunately it's all loose on the bottom, so it should go quick before I dive back in. 

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Spin Art

About a year and a half ago I designed this fun paper pieced quilt that some of you might have seen hanging in the Michael Miller booth at QuiltCon and Quilt Market earlier this year. I was obsessed with the color coral when I made this quilt and just had to incorporate the two shades of coral and soft blue into a quilt. I might have to make another quilt using coral and mint sometime soon, my new favorite color to pair with coral. 

This quilt is made using Michael Miller Cotton Couture solids, my favorite solids to work with. I just find their hand-feel to be so soft and a pleasure to work with. This quilt uses the colors Clementine, Peach, Vanilla and Powder Blue. The clementine color has to be one of my favorites still that Michael Miller puts out. That's saying a lot given that my least favorite color of all time is orange (followed closely by brown). 

I quilted it on my HandiQuilter longer using SoFine #50 thread. It's been so long since I quilted it, but I'm pretty sure I used #402, a soft white. 

The free pattern for this quilt will be posted to the Michael Miller website soon. And of course, it's paper pieced for easy assembly! 

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Retreat 2015

Last weekend I attended the annual Boston MQG retreat up in Kennebunkport, ME. This was my fourth time attending retreat and I can honestly say I always have an amazing time with the wonderful ladies of our guild. I think we have a pretty awesome guild with a wide range of skills and aesthetics, which is always so inspiring.

My first order of business was finishing up my Prism Dust quilt top. I arrived with 33 out of the 36 blocks made. I finished the three blocks and got to work on piecing the top together. Because these blocks were paper pieced, I kept the paper on, but it becomes very heavy as you're piecing along. The benefit of keeping the paper on while piecing everything together is that you have less distortion because of all the bias and accuracy is improved.

Piecing the top took a lot more time than I thought it would. All together, I've definitely spent over 100 hours piecing this top, which I began last summer. Given my schedule, I've spent a few hours here and there on this quilt when I had the time.

My other finish for the weekend was this zippered pouch for our zipit challenge. ZipIt kindly provided a 14" navy zipper for us all to make a zippered pouch. I've wanted to use these cotton and steel arrows for the bottom of a bag for some time. I thought this was the perfect opportunity. I freehanded a flying goose pattern on some paper to paper piece for the top part and offset it. I was really happy with the result and blown away that I actually won the challenge. I can honestly say I wasn't expecting to win because there were so many awesome pouches. We have some seriously talented quilters in our guild, so I was honored to win.

I did work on a few other projects here and there that I didn't finish. One was a leaders and enders project with equilateral triangles. One was a quilt that I can't speak of. Not because it's secret, but because the pattern was such a PITA and poorly written that I had to put it aside I was so frustrated. I think I'm going to figure out how to paper piece the pattern instead. I don't have pictures of those yet, but stay tuned!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Prism Dust - January BOM

The Boston Moder Quilt Guild is launching a Block of the Month this year. I volunteered to do the January block. Well, after a bad stomach bug that set me back over a week, 90"+ of snow and all that comes with life, I have posted the January block only a few days late.

You can download this block for free on Craftsy:

This is a pretty easy paper pieced block, with only four pieces to each section. The hardest part is matching the seams when piecing them together, which us quilters are used to for most other blocks out there.

I actually started making a quilt with this block a number of months ago and decided to post this pattern after enjoying the process of how this quilt is coming together. It's going to be a rainbow, with red in the upper right corner, radiating down to purple in the bottom left corner. The corners will be black and will radiate to a very light gray in the center.

Here's a preview of how it's coming along. I'm up to the green now, and it's getting to be too big for my design wall. I'm hoping I'll finish this quilt top sometime this year. 

Friday, January 9, 2015

New Patterns Available

Happy New Year to everyone!!! For those interested, I've made two patterns available in my Craftsy shop.

The first is my Dream Diamond quilt that first appeared in American Quilter earlier last year. You can find the pattern for this quilt here.

The second is a free pattern for the quilt block I used to make this baby quilt. Yup, this one is free! The pattern for this one can be found here.

Both of them are paper pieced patterns. If you're new to paper piecing and want a free tutorial, check out the pattern and tutorial section of my blog for a free how-to and some of my favorite resources.