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The most perfect season. Beautiful warm days and cool dark nights. Time to play outside and time to be cozy inside. We are still adventuring in the mountains but also find myself being drawn to my knitting and evenings at my sewing machine.

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October’s Pressed Seam fabrics blew me away with their blue beauty. So many gorgeous shades of blue. Meanwhile, our mountains and valley trees are turning a golden yellow orange.

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When I wasn’t playing in the mountains, October found me quilting improv baby quilts. I find myself pulling from my stash of fabrics, now enhanced by my Pressed Seam fabrics. I look forward to showing more photos of the quilts as I finish them.

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So many beautiful colors in my stash and in the natural world around me. How lucky are we to be surrounded by nature and color.

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I’m stuck in concrete jungle land for work this week, and my spirit longs for open skies and quiet vistas. I miss blowing wind and crisp air.

 

 

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So I’ll leave you with the setting sun on the aspen leaves, shimmering with their changing colors. This season disappears so quickly, thank goodness for photographs and memories.

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Get to the mountains before the color is gone!

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September’s assignment for the Master Class was focused on edges. Hard and soft edges. Lost edges. I had never learned about edges before, but once I started looking, you can find them everywhere. This is perhaps the most magical of illusions in art. Basically, lost edges are shapes or places that you don’t see. They could merge softly into the background, or be of similar value so you don’t see the difference between them.

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I also had a separate project with our local quilt guild to make a fall colors quilt for an upcoming art show. So I decided to merge the two projects into one, finding this inspiration photo in our library of a close-up of aspen leaves in the fall.

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For my first sketch, I thought I could make the leaves towards the front the hard edges, and the leaves in the back the soft edges. I thought to use lighter value fabrics in the background to blur their edges together.

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I started with a fabric pull, without judgement, pulling out all the colors and fabrics I thought I might want to use. I had decided I wanted to focus my colors on a split complementary scheme, with blue and yellow-orange, orange, and red-orange.

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Using my phone to take pictures and turn the fabric to grayscale, I then sorted by value. The two rows of the lightest value fabrics on the right would be my background.

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I pinned up all the fabrics on my design board to test them out. I think they look pretty good!

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It was exciting to see it come together. Piece by piece I cut and pinned and cut and pinned.

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This is how to quilt looked when I turned it in for our blocked assignment. Elizabeth’s suggestions for modification included some shifting of the leaf arrangements, making sure the two stars of the show didn’t sit right on top of each other in a vertical line, and to adjust the background leaves so they weren’t too evenly spaced out. She also recommended changing the main leaves, their solid color doesn’t capture the beauty and interest of their natural variation.

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I wholeheartedly agreed, so back to the drawing board I went (or rather, the dyeing board!). I traced the approximate leaf shape onto white fabric, and after soaking in soda ash, spread it out on the table like I was going to paint it. I then sort of dapped/painted various shades of orange (red-orange, orange, and yellow-orange!) onto the leaf.

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I made two versions of each leaf for four leaves, as I wasn’t sure how my technique would work. For one set I made the shift between colors more gradual, and for the other set, I made the dabs more distinct. I also shifted the colors a bit in case one worked better than the other. Once I cut them out and hung them on the quilt, the gradual color change leaves stole the show.

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At this point, I was getting pretty excited. There was a bit of work taking all the leaves off, piecing the background, and then putting the leaves back on, and gluing it all down.

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To encourage the soft edges of the background, I decided on an all over quilting pattern that mimicked the leaf shape. I hoped it would help blur the edges and provide texture to the background.

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It came out beautifully and was a pleasure to quilt! Then I glued on the stars of the show, the two aspen leaves.

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Taking inspiration from the photo, I mimicked the leaf vein lines for the quilting on the large leaves. I used a lighter variegated yellow-orange thread. I was super pleased when I saw the final effect, it was more than I could have hoped for and wanted it to be. The leaves fairly sparkled with color and light. Yahoo!

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Here’s the finished quilt, binding using the art facing method. 21″x28″. All fabrics hand dyed by yours truly. Raw edge applique and free motion quilted. Glue basting instead of fusible webbing.

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It will be on display at the Mountain Rambler Brewery, as part of a Fall Colors collection through our local quilt guild, participating in the Chocolate Art Walk on October 28. I can’t wait to see all the other fall color quilts!

Hello September, that funny month which begins by still offering the hot days of summer fun and ends with fall: cooler air, changing colors, and shorter days … With the changing season, the Pressed Seam Club sent the most glorious fabric. This might be my favorite bundle yet!

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The deep and yummy blues remind me of all the fun we have had on the water this summer. We fell in love with stand up paddle boarding, and have been having a blast visiting our local lakes.

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The most exquisite paddle was on Mono Lake, with the tufa towers and glossy water and phalaropes spinning circles … So many beautiful colors and textures and sounds. Much like this fabric!

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There are a lot of wonderful textures in this bunch, from woven to canvas to double gauze, I look forward to playing with them all. Much like paddling has felt like playing, exploring the lakes and being silly.

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Fall is one of the most beautiful seasons where we live, and yet it is bittersweet too, as the days get shorter there is less time outside, but more time sewing inside!

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Maybe this set can become a paddling Mono Lake quilt …

Quilts at the Fair

Our county fair happened to open on my birthday this year. I had entered four quilts, and was excited to visit the fair, see the quilt show, and celebrate my birthday!

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When I entered the quilt show building, it was filled with so many beautiful quilts! And all my other quilt friends who had the same idea and came on opening night to see the quilts. I turned to the left and easily spotted three of my small quilts hanging together. A 1st and two 3rds, yahoo!

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My fourth quilt was my Big Pine creek mountain quilt. It took me a second to find it because it was hanging over the door as you walk in. And when I did find it, it was a great birthday present, Best of Show for Domestic Machine Quilting! Double yahoo.

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(Super challenging to get a good picture, both because of it being way high up and over the open door …) What a great birthday present!

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I’m always fascinated by how the judge selects their placings. Quilts that I thought would do better didn’t, and quilts that did well surprised me. It’s always exciting to get the quilts back after the show, because the fair staff very nicely write the judge’s comments on the back of the label. Want to hear what they said? (Apparently I have a lot of issues with tension …)

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Okay, so I was surprised by my Bristlecone Sunset, because I love this little quilt. But it does have issues with quilting tension, as you can see in the tree trunk. The judge’s comments were: Overall design placement well balanced. Concept intriguing. Raw edge applique handled well. Lower yellow stitching has tension issues. Bobbin thread shows thru front. In leaf areas, some background. Facing is appropriate for piece.

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After the Sun Sets also received a third place. The judge commented: Variety of vibrant colors adds interest. Trees appear out of scale. Applique well done. Attention to quilt lines create texture. Strive for more precise tension control. Facing is appropriate. 

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Big Pine Creek surprisingly received a second, for it also being a best of show. I kind of assumed that best of shows also need to be a first place? Guess not! Judge’s comments: Very pleasing overall conceptual design. Excellent piecing technique. Small purple delineation lines greatly utilized. Quilting lines add texture. Well done! Facing well done.

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And lastly, my sweet Cotswold quilt, was the first place winner! Judge’s comments: Pleasant and inviting scene. Perspective is well done. Variety of fabrics add interest, and are appropriate. Raw edge applique generally well done. Inner flashing (hard to read word) appreciated and well done. Machine quilting sufficient. Slight tension issue noted on back. Nicely framed and faced.

There you have it! I like the comments, but am also curious how the comments relate to the placings. Is the tension enough to make it a third place? How is design and technique and overall look weighted? Is emphasis put more on one than another? Does the judge just look at it and decide in that moment? Whatever the way, it is fun to support the fair, show our quilts, and receive the feedback!

August is a middle of the summer month, surprising you with unending heat, and pretending to be the end of summer. It’s when we start to long for fall, with cooler days and changing colors. For me, my August was full of summer fun riding bikes and starting a new job.

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And so with all these changes in the air, it was a pleasure to unwrap my August Pressed Seam Club fabric, excited to see what lovely colors were arriving to me this month.

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What lovely soft colors for the crazy heat of summer! We like to escape the valley floor where our temperatures often reach the triple digits, to the mountains where while still warm, are much more milder.

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I’ve enjoyed seeing my stash grow with the Pressed Seam club fabrics, and have been drawn to new colors and patterns I wouldn’t normally pick out myself.

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It’s nice to know my fabrics are patiently waiting for me while life gets crazy, with new job and summer fun. Knowing the weather will get cold and the days shorter and there’ll be more time for stitching and cups of tea.

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Until then, we’ll go to the mountains to play and rejuvenate our souls. I’ll take pictures and be inspired by mother nature. And some day there’ll be time for quilting again!

July’s assignment was landscapes. Woo hoo! My favorite. We were challenged with picking a scene that we see daily, in our neighborhood or town. I chose a photo I took on an evening dog ride.

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Summer temps reach the triple digits where I live, so we find it is bearable just after the sun sets, to get outside for a little bit. I love this image because it captures so many things that I care about, my family, my dog, where I live, and the mountains. I especially like the way the setting sun caught the tips of the mountains turning their colors orange and pink.

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This assignment focused on learning how to simplify a photograph to its main elements, and to not be afraid to add or move pieces to make the composition better, or to take pieces away. It also emphasized adding in to your artwork the piece that grabs you and makes your heart sing.

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After going through the process of making my first sketch, modifying it, enlarging it, choosing where values would go, I was ready to select fabrics. I made two decisions for this quilt, to use fusible webbing and to dive in and use my ice dyed fabrics!

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For the sky, I selected a piece of fabric I painted at a Road class many years ago. I’ve been going through a bit of a use-what-I-have kick, pushing myself to stop treasuring the fabrics and just use them! Many have been sitting in my drawers and cabinets for many years. The result – I’m loving the process of using them, and I can always dye more!

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Here’s my piece almost all blocked out, as I continued to make fabric and value decisions. I missed mid-July deadline for the blocked out submission, so at this point I was standing in for myself as critique.

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Quilting the piece was playful and fun. I followed the shapes of the clouds in the sky, the topography of the mountains, and tried to add some patterning in the foreground to represent the sage brush we have here in abundance. I finished it with a no binding facing. The quilt comes in at 11″ x 17″.

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I am super pleased with how it came out. I’m glad I jumped in and used my ice dyed fabric. And I am inspired to paint more skies.

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Do you think I captured my love of where I live and the glint of the setting sun on the mountains? I think the pink and orange of the fabric makes the mountain tips glow.

P.S. You might have noticed a flurry of blog posts and finished quilts recently! I am just finishing up a two week staycation that has been absolutely lovely. It is a great feeling to finish a lot of items on my to do list. I’m all caught up with my master class, and well on the way to completing gifts for friends and projects for myself. Thanks for reading!

For May, our assignment was to learn about depth. How to make a flat quilt scene look more realistic. The first assignment was to draw our chosen scene twice, once using the new depth tools we had learned, and second making it flat, ignoring all those tools. I chose to capture a moment when my mom and I walked the Cotswold Way in England last summer.

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We were challenged to use at least four tools to indicate depth. I chose to use foreground interest (making the foreground more detailed), overlapping shapes, road perspective (wider the closer it gets), and size relationships (shapes in the background are smaller).

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After the first sketch, I made a second to incorporate the suggested changes from Elizabeth. These included moving the post left, working on the road in how it meets the horizon and the way the edges curve, and adding more interest to the bottom right.

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For this class, I also wanted to challenge myself to use only print fabric from my stash. I made value decisions on my sketch, and sorted and selected fabric to match.

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I enlarged the sketch and started to cut out the fabric shapes, pulling together the scene. I chose to try the glue method again, skipping fusible webbing (I’ll go back to my fusible webbing on my next quilt. Jury is still out on which I prefer, they both have their positive and negative aspects!).

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From this round of critique, Elizabeth suggested I crop down the sky, double check I like the position of the post, switch up some of the tree trunk fabric as the patterning was distracting, add more fabric to the post to make it look more realistic, and adjust the small tree at the end of the road. Back to the drawing board and cutting mat!

Once I had it all where I wanted it to go, I glued it down, quilted, and bound it! I decided to go with a double border to give it a framed look.

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The Cotswold Way markers became very dear to us, as they let us know we were on the right track. There often wasn’t a good trail or road to follow as we crossed forest and fields!

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I really like the act of making a quilt of a treasured memory. I can just see my mom ahead of me walking down the trail past the large oak trees, before we stop in the next village for a cup of tea.