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Many Studies in Color

I’ve had a lot of free-motion quilting practice this past month! In January, I attended a Gloria Loughman class at Road to California on Confident Colour. Which means I’ve had four lovely small sized quilts waiting to be quilted! The skies were especially fun to quilt, with swirls, squiggles, and even algae (I turned one sky landscape into an underwater landscape!).

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Having many small pieces to quilt also let me play with different quilting designs on the hills. It is an interesting opportunity to have the same design to quilt over and over again. After seeing the different results and textures, some I liked and some I thought could be better.

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My first finish was in May, with a triad color scheme between purple, orange and green. I finished it just in time to be shown in our Calico Quilt Guild biannual show, and then I gifted it to Lesley for her birthday (she is rather fond of purple!).

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For our upcoming library show, I pulled out the remaining designs last month, and got to stitching! My second finish was the split complementary, which included a range of greens from yellow-green to blue-green and a red-violet for accent. I thought this one looked like it could have been underwater, so I filled the sky with algae.

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The next one up to be stitched was the monochromatic, with a range of blues. This sky was my most dramatic, the dark colors making it look moody and stormy.

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For this quilt, I tried a narrow and wide border, a technique that Gloria Loughman outlines in her book Radiant Landscape. Before stitching, when I put the three layers together of quilt top, batting, and backing, I made the batting and backing three inches larger than the quilt top. After quilting the quilt top, I sewed on a narrow then wide border. I really like the overall effect this border has, but it does make some funny stitching lines on the back. But who sees the back anyway?!

img_1967I also felt like I was channeling Vincent Van Goh’s Starry Night when quilting the sky. I really love swirls! If you have a second, take a closer look at the direction of my swirls. I always entered them from a counter-clockwise direction. While stitching, I kept trying to figure out how to do a clockwise swirl, but never managed to!

The Underwater Sea and Stormy Night quilts will be for sale at our Mammoth Lakes Library art quilt show which opens today! Save the date for a reception on Friday, December 16. I’ll be sharing more details when I know more.

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From my Study in Color set, I have one last quilt top to finish, a complementary color scheme, from blue-green to red-orange. The orange hill in the middle of the blue hills continues to bother me. Perhaps this is why I subconsciously left this quilt to last to finish. I’m contemplating attempting to replace with a blue hill. I think that might be good …

 

And then, I ask myself, where to go from here? These designs were templates provided by the class, and while I learned a lot about color, quilting designs, and borders, I want to make one that is more uniquely me. I am inspired by a local artist, Ann Piersall, and her dramatic mountain-scapes. Perhaps I need to pull out my pencil and paper, and try to capture one of our local-scapes in a way that is uniquely me.

Poppy Quilt Series

It’s no secret that I love poppies. And I shared with you how I painted poppies on fabric. Now I get to share with you quilting and finishing those poppies!

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Our Out of the Box quilt group has been invited to have another quilt show at the Mammoth Lakes Library, opening in December. I’ll be posting more details as they develop, like dates and if we’ll have another reception. Until then, you can read more about our show last year! As the days got shorter and the weather cooler, I knew I needed to buckle down and get some quilting done for this year’s show!

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So I decided to quilt at least 10 minutes every day, and to keep track of my time in a little book. And I’m here to share this motivation worked wonders! On some days after work, I’d set my timer and just do the ten minutes, and that was great. On other days, I’d be excited or more energetic and quilt for 20 to 30 minutes. And some days I didn’t quilt at all, but I mostly sat down at my machine every evening.

I found that no matter how tired I was in the evening, by setting the timer for ten minutes, it would always be over way before I was ready to be done. And doing just a little bit each day kept me excited for sitting down the next day, wanting to continue and stitch more. Before I knew it, I had my first (small) square pieced and ready to be finished!

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On the first quilt, I chose squiggly lines radiating out from the center to match the circular pattern of the poppies. For the second quilt, I chose to try a winding curve pattern. And for the third quilt, I fell back on my tried and true love of swirls.

I love quilting swirls so much. I love their look and texture and the act of quilting them is so meditative. For the third quilt, I kept the pattern of swirls but alternated between two different variegated thread colors. I really like how it turned out!

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Bit by bit, ten or so minutes a day, all three were ready to bind and stitch and finish! Each has elements that I love, and choices or things I would have done differently. That is what is great about working in a series, is I learn as I go and can discover what I like and what I think looks good.

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Last thing left is to put my label on each and decide what to price them for. A portion of the proceeds benefits the library; I love that my stitching is a form of volunteering and giving back!

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Do you have a favorite? I think the littlest might be mine, though there are elements of each I absolutely adore.

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I’m tempted to keep this series going, painting and stitching more. It’s a journey where I’m not sure where it will end up, and it’s exciting to think about the unknown and what’s ahead.

Our Out of the Box quilt group gathered last Saturday to paint on fabric! We were inspired by a tutorial shared by Quilting Arts, for a simple project using a design and water color technique. You can check it out here.

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Basically, we started with fabric and drew with dark sharpie the outlines of your main design. I chose a poppy wildflower design from a coloring book.

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Then from there the choices get to be a bit more varied. You can wet the fabric or paint on it dry, or lightly dampen with a squirt bottle… So many different effects depending on what you hope to end up with. Then start to paint!

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I think the overall idea with the tutorial was to let the colors bleed to mimic a water color effect and the black sharpie pattern would provide the definition. Experimenting with the paint and bleeding effects was most of the fun!

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Keep adding more color!

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And then I thought, maybe too much color? I found it really challenging to control how dark the paint would be once dry. My first couple of tests were practically white once it dried even though while wet they looked beautiful. So then I started to use thicker paint and the colors seemed to dry brighter.

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My second guess for the disappearing color was maybe when I lifted the fabric off the table to move it to the sun to dry, the paint shifted and ran. I tested this theory by moving the painting on a board to dry in the sun and it seemed to fade less. I can’t say whether it was diluting the paint less with water or not disturbing it before it dried … but I seemed to start to get more consistent colors.

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My favorite of the days experiments was this one. I like the layout of the flowers and the final colors.

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The second awesome piece about the day was seeing each other’s designs. Each was so varied in pattern, color choice, and creativity. Each reflected the individuality of the maker.

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Cathy with a piece inspired by art nouveau.

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Laura with her sun and sky and mountains.

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Nela with her free form flower bouquet and Margaret with her pears and fruit.

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Marilyn with her autumn collection of pumpkins and leaves.

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And an elusive sighting of … me! (Thanks Cathy for sharing pictures!) I can’t wait to stitch and turn them into mini wall hangings.
 

My designs for my puzzle pieces began as sketches as part of an online quilting class I took called Inspired to Design with Elizabeth Barton. One of the main lessons I learned in the class is to make your pattern sketches without judgement, and make a lot of them! In various exercises, Elizabeth would encourage us to draw at least a dozen, if not more, sketches that we would then choose from a final design.

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On the left, you can see a black and white print out of one of my designs from the class. That particular lesson was playing with positive and negative space, cutting out shapes from paper and re-arranging them to make patterns. I liked the pattern I made but felt it needed a bit more transforming to be a part of this group quilt. So taking Elizabeth’s technique to heart, I drew MANY more sketches from the original inspiration. In this process of making many sketches I started to be drawn to squiggly lines and floating circles.

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Putting my block together, I started with the floating circles. One of the fabrics we had in our fabric pull to use for our puzzle pieces was this fantastic green and blue circle design! I cut out individual circles and arranged them in a random cascading pattern.

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Next were my squiggly lines. I chose two of the bright blue fabrics in our fabric set, and randomly cut wavy squiggly curvy lines. Between each set of stacked circles I layered around two to three squiggly lines.

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The design was quite lovely at this point, but I hadn’t yet used any of our maroon or red fabrics in the design. I thought a little bit of a color pop would be important to tie the block in with the other blocks, so I cut a few circles out of the bright fabric and layered them behind the cascading circles.

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For my second color piece, I deviated wildly from my original paper cut-out sketch (seen far left). I think this is a great example of how continually making sketch after sketch without judgement lets you discover new ideas you didn’t realize you had. As I sketched, I was drawn to the idea of interlocking circles that create depth and motion.

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This block was a bit more difficult to pull off. Well, I made it easy one way because I was free-hand cutting the circles, and didn’t mind a bit of wonkiness. Rather, the difficulty was because I ran out of fusible webbing, and it being a Sunday I had no quilt shop open to purchase more. This was my day to complete it though, so I forged ahead, knowing I could glue down the design instead of fuse. However, this made all the pieces very loose and wobbly as I tried to place them, and made it take twice as long to glue each little piece!

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It had been ages since I free-motion quilted, and I felt a bit rusty at first to start. However, those pesky deadlines were looming again, so I forged ahead to complete it. The stitching and design isn’t as fine or detailed as I imagined in my head, but I got it done. We have a saying at work right now, “do and be done.” I have been swamped with projects and deadlines, and often times find myself only able to complete something as well as I can in that moment, instead of having the time to finesse, re-do and make perfect. I think it is good to have time to make something as good as you can, but I think it can also be good to complete something in the time you have available and move on, for it is better to be completed than not done at all. So in that spirit, I completed my puzzle pieces, and they are good enough, and will join our Puzzlement quilt for everyone to enjoy.

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Click here to see my post on our group process of making Puzzlement and you can see the quilt in person at our bi-annual guild show, May 28-29 at the Methodist Church in Bishop from 10am – 5pm on Saturday and 10am – 4pm on Sunday.

At this year’s Road to California quilt show, Margaret and I saw a quilt that perked our interest, and we brought back inspiration to our Out of the Box quilt group. The loose idea was making a quilt with independent blocks that would be connected in a temporary way, so the blocks could move, shift, and rotate direction and location.

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We had our first meet-up to discuss the project and how it might come together. We made a few decisions like: we would all make two blocks, they would all be mostly abstract with circles and rectangles, and that we would all be restricted to using the same fabrics. We all brought various fabrics that we could contribute to the project, and we spent the hour pairing and selecting and coming up with a color scheme.

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At our second meeting, we brought sketches, patterns, and some roughly assembled blocks, to discuss the direction designs were going and to get inspiration from each other. There was such a range of patterns! The creativity in the room was contagious. A couple additional decisions that emerged were incorporating triangles (in addition to circles and rectangles) and having multiple layers making the designs more interesting and complex.

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At our third meeting, we brought our full size blocks together to share and compare. At this point, each of us had only pinned, fused or glued, with the thought that if something needed changing it could … But it didn’t! All the blocks looked absolutely vibrant together. Each was unique, but all worked together as a whole. We all went home to quilt and bind our blocks to finish them up.

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At our fourth meeting, we came together with our finished blocks, and finalized how they were going to be hung and tested how they moved and worked together on the finished quilt. We had smiles on our faces and there was lots of joy in the room as we rearranged and hung blocks. After each adjustment, we stood back to admire the design. The quilt really worked! I’ll share more about the blocks I made, and how we secured the blocks together and how they move. Our quilt, “Puzzlement,” will be shown at our guild show this coming Memorial Day weekend! You can catch the show at the Methodist Church in Bishop on Fowler Street on Saturday May 28 – Sunday May 29.

Baby Quilt for Hunter

I love making a quilt for each new baby coming into the world. I enjoy thinking about their parents and their personalities, and from there picking a set of fabrics and colors for their new baby. For Hunter, I knew he would be born into a family that loves the outdoors and is connected to the earth. Thinking about a quilt for him, I was drawn to this collection of fabrics from Hawthorn Threads, with its motifs of butterflies, pine cones, feathers and leaves and flowers. IMG_5226

I knew I wanted to pair the fabrics with solids, and decided I like yellow as the compliment. For pattern, I was recently drawn to the North Wind block.

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As I was sewing the quilt in March, our weather was turning from winter to spring. We’d have windy days with the wind blowing from the north, bringing us the warmer weather of spring.

IMG_5282And it felt like spring inside too! Choosing yellow was such a pleasure to work and sew with. As sunlight streamed in my windows on a weekend morning and I sat stitching with a cup of tea, I felt like I was calling spring to arrive.

DSC03092I chose to make the entire quilt one large north wind block. I quilted it with a walking foot, simple diagonal lines matching the points of the yellow triangles to emphasize the direction of movement in the quilt.

DSC03101I used all the remaining fabrics from the collection in the back. I imagine that Hunter will get lots of play time on this quilt, inside and outside!

DSC03103As I stitched, I hoped that Hunter would revel in growing up in the great outdoors, with the north wind bringing him fun adventures.

Over the Easter weekend, we were lucky to have my folks visiting. My mom and I love getting crafty, and soon we were scheming about dyeing eggs. We wanted to dye colorful eggs for a hunt when we had friends over. I had been wanting to try the Ukranian egg dyeing technique called Pysanky. Mom was wanting to try natural dyeing. So naturally, we decided to try them all!

I live in a small town where we are lucky to have one small market and a gas station that sells some food items. Hoping to not have to drive into “the city” 15 miles away where the chain grocery stores are, we walked into town with our finger’s crossed. And we were in luck! We were able to purchase eggs, cabbage, vinegar and onion skins from the grocery, and we found food dye coloring at the gas station!

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There commenced a crazy and fun afternoon of multi-tasking and creativity. We referenced websites and blogs for various tutorials, had multiple pots boiling on the stove, and lots of jars and plants all over the place. Please excuse the photos as I only just managed to snap a few with my phone as we went from step to step, and some are a tad blurry.

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The cashier at the grocery store inspired us with a video tutorial to try using leaves and flowers to make a design on the naturally dyed eggs. Collecting various leaves and flowers from the yard outside, we wrapped them arranged on the egg with cheesecloth (most tutorials called for pantyhose).

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Then you put the egg in the dye bath! We tried onion skins (dark red/brown), tumeric (yellow) and red cabbage (blue).

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The onion skins and tumeric were done after boiling for 20 minutes. The red cabbage had to sit overnight before it held its color. It felt like Christmas morning to unwrap each and see the beautiful design revealed!

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Then, we were on to the Pysanky method. This website is fantastic for their instructions. We didn’t have the traditional tools, and instead used wax and tjanting from my batik supplies. First, you lightly draw with pencil guiding lines on the egg, and then wax and dye much like the batik process.IMG_5344

Here’s my egg after two colors and layers have been added. It is quite a challenge to control the wax and make a smooth straight line.

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And here is my egg with all layers complete and the wax still on the egg. There are five colors, counting the white as the first layer.

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Then, to get the wax off, you hold it up to a candle, and ever so slowly, bit by bit, melt and wipe, melt and wipe, until all the wax is removed. Its actually quite pleasant and goes by quickly.

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And here’s the finished product! My mom’s is on the left with swirling squares, and mine is on the right, like peacock feathers.

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The icing on the cake after all this fun of coloring eggs, was having my friend’s two-year-old over for an Easter egg hunt. We told her the Easter bunny had also visited my house and we needed help finding all the eggs. And she helped, first by finding all the eggs, and then hiding them for us to hide!

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