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Archive for October, 2015

Where does time fly. Daylight savings this weekend – time to fall back! Fall back to September that is. I’ve had September’s Swatch finished for many weeks now, and just realized I hadn’t posted pictures yet!
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I was excited for September’s technique of using couching. It is a technique I’ve long admired the look of and I enjoyed getting to try my hand at stitching it.
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For the embellishment, I choose a simple straight line diagnol stitching, alternating between chop and bugle beads.
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I like the thick appearance of the couching, with a bumpy texture coming up off the fabric. Of course this swatch was polka dots … Again! That’s okay, I think I am starting to accept polka dots. Three swatches left to this year, October – December, and then I’ll be sewing them together for a finished quilt top. I already have an idea of what my hand stitching project will be for next year! It’s never too early to be planning and dreaming, right?

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I’ve really enjoyed working in a series and plan to continue to make lupine quilts. Many quilt artists suggest you work in a series to develop skill and explore a concept, and my limited experience so far proves this can be true!

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By working on four different quilts, one right after the other, I learned and discovered that how I chose color was really important. In the first quilt or two, I randomly assigned petal shapes to shades of purple, without thinking about the particular color. I discovered that random didn’t look good. So in subsequent quilts, I very intentionally laid out my spectrum of purples, and referencing the original sketch, very purposefully paired petal shapes with a specific chosen purple fabric. I tried to vary the selection, moving from dark shades toward the bottom of the piece, to lighter colors at the top.

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Then within each cluster of petals, I tried to make sure darks and lights were interspersed. I also tried to mix up the colors, slowly fading from dark to light by not having a sharp transition between by gradually introducing darks and light as I went along. I also would reselect a color if as I was laying it out I didn’t like my original choice.

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It always amazes me how a decision to make a small change midway through a project can have such big impacts on its success. It feels annoying in the moment to rip out a seam or recut a piece, but is so worth it every time!

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I also had a couple of happy accidents! The first was when choosing a backing fabric, I decided I wanted to use up a bright pink-maroon piece I had hand dyed but never used because I wasn’t very fond of the color. I lay out the backing fabric on our kitchen table, and then lay the four quilts on top of it, to act as a rough guide to cut around instead of doing any measuring. After I cut I stepped back, and the look was so brilliant because of the small peeping of the bright red from behind. Instantly, I knew I had to use that fabric as the binding instead of the backing. Of course, now it was annoying that I had lots of small pieces to cut together instead of whole yardage … If I hadn’t cut out the backing like that, I wouldn’t have discovered the perfect color to complement the quilt fronts and make the piece sing.

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The other serendipitous discovery was the quilting pattern I chose to do on top of the background sky sections. The petals and stem were just outlined with similar colored thread, but for the background, I chose a swirling spiral pattern that I’ve done on a few quilts and enjoy using.

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What I love is how the swirling quilting smooths and blurs together the straight line patchwork of the background blue fabric. The edges of the fabric pieces blur together, almost looking like a watercolor wash. So cool! I love the process of making decisions not knowing where they will lead, and ending up with stellar results. Also, the swirls kind of remind me of Van Gogh’s starry night painting. Maybe I was somehow subconsciously channeling his version of portraying the sky …

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To continue to work in a series, I want to explore lupines more, trying different techniques. Some ideas I have could be to use batik, ice dyeing, stenciling, or paper piecing … Do you have any ideas of quilting techniques for me to to try in addition to raw edge applique?

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In a previous post I shared that I find motivation to finish a project through friends. The other great motivation to finish a project is a deadline. Deadlines though come with their own positive and negative points.
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The biggest pro? Deadlines make me get stuff done. There are always a million other things I could choose to spend my time doing: hiking, meeting with friends, spending time with my husband, walking the dog, reading a book, visiting family, hosting guests, never mind self care and house care and work … Every minute spent sewing is carved out of a day filled with one million other things.
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Procrastination is so easy. I had known about this deadline for a couple of months, and while I had an idea in my head of what I wanted to do… That wasn’t getting it done. I posted last week about the kick in the butt Heather gave me, and once I was off I was off!
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From that point, I knew I had two weeks till the deadline, and there were going to be a lot of distractions in addition to work with friends visiting and weekend fun. So I made myself work on the project every possible evening I could. I told myself, just 15 minutes. After a full day it is astonishing how hard it is to dredge up the energy to do just that. But once started, the 15 minutes would turn into 30 or 60 …
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There was a double edge to this however. Working in the evening helped me meet my deadline, but it wasn’t always my best work. My color choice or decisions made with a brain almost on empty weren’t my best. I can see these parts in the finished product, but I won’t tell you about them because maybe you won’t notice them. I learned I do my best work first thing in the day, with a fresh mind and sunlight streaming in the room. Instead of being a bad thing, I like that I’ve learned this about me. Maybe I need to save big decisions for the weekend, and evening work needs to be more rote.
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The last big push was over a Saturday and Sunday weekend. The quilts were due to my quilt group Sunday afternoon. From the moment I woke I stitched and quilted and cut and fused. My focus on the project was so intense I lost track of everything else. I didn’t help cook food or meet up with any friends. My house was my sun-filled cave and I sewed. I had to make decisions in the moment, quickly moving from one step to another without pause. I found this to be helpful and annoying. I like time to muse and ponder, thinking about a color choice or layout or design. But having to make the decision in the moment forced me to go with my instincts and thought process. I think my preference would be a little bit of both, making decisions in the moment but allowing time for musing, to let ideas come.
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I also had to let go of mistakes and just keep moving. There wasn’t time to take out stitches, choose a different color, or start over. After a step was complete I just kept moving. But because I was working in a series, I could adjust my decision on the next quilt. I ended up with a favorite one and one that was essentially my test one.
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Whew! What a process I feel so lucky to have experienced.

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Our art quilt group Out of the Box drove up into the mountains for our art quilt show reception, held at the Mammoth Lakes Library. It has been a stormy couple of days, and the sky was filled with dramatic clouds and rain threatened.

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A delightful pumpkin welcomed us as we arrived, with a table full of delicious nibbles to eat.

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And lots of people! It was so wonderful to see all the folks who came out to the show. Many friends but also many people we didn’t know. It was so enjoyable to talk with people as they admired the pieces and answering their questions on technique.

DSC02695Here we all are! Back row: Penny Kehus, Pamela Christner, Margaret Phelps, and Jan Dunaway. From row: Nela Dunaway, me and Marilyn Oltmans. The library staff were very gracious, we all wore name tags so folks would know we were the artists, and as pieces sold the director would find us to tell the news.

DSC02682And several of our pieces sold! My excitement isn’t because of the money, but rather, the indication that someone values the artwork. And double special, two of my pieces sold to dear friends, and it is so wonderful to think of my lupines in their homes.

DSC02683Here are a few highlights! Monarchs by Nela Dunaway.

DSC02679Quilts by Margaret Phelps

DSC02678Wildflowers by Nela.

DSC02677Hoot by Penny Kehus.

DSC02684Two pieces by Pamela Christner.

DSC02686Middle quilt is by  Margaret DePalma and top and bottom quilts are by Marilyn Oltmans.

DSC02685Floating Aspen Leaves by Jan Dunaway. I love how the leaves really look like they are floating!

The show runs till November 30, and there are a lot more beautiful pieces to marvel at, and they are even more colorful in real life. I invite you to stop by!

 

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I’m excited to share with you the most recent project of our Out of the Box quilt group! We’ve been invited to support the Mammoth Lakes Library with a quilt show!

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Last Wednesday we met to share our quilts that we are all putting in the show. Each piece is stunning and unique and so full of creativity. I can’t wait to see all the color in one room.

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I feel so honored to have my work shown with these other great artists I call friends and quilt with. Thinking about my quilting career, this is an exciting moment, our first show!

Okay, okay. What about my pieces? I have been furiously working on the pieces I was going to contribute to the show, and finished just in time on Sunday to deliver to Jan, who has organized this whole endeavor (thank you Jan!). She has organized with the library, handled the paperwork, made the method to hang the quilts, and will bring them all to hang this week.

Knowing the show was going to support the library, I thought about my favorite books growing up. So many! One though, that stands out is my memory, is Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney.

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The story follows a young girl throughout her life until she is an old woman. She travels the world, lives by the sea, and decides she wants to make the world a better place by planting lupines everywhere!

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Lupines are my most favorite wildflower. And so I decided I wanted to do a series of quilts with lupines. More posts on that process coming!

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The exhibit will run through the end of November, and there is an opening reception this Friday. I welcome everyone to come out and visit the show! It will be colorful. And unique. And fun!

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Every quilt project begins with a little motivation to start. Motivation can come from many places, where do you find yours? This time, mine came from talking with a friend. I had an idea in my head on what I wanted to quilt, but somehow the interest in going from idea to reality wasn’t materializing. Then I had lunch with a friend, and pulled out the sketches I had for the quilt. We then started talking about colors and technique as I was pulling out fabric. Before I knew it, I was enthusiastic about the project and didn’t want to stop.
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I want to do a series of lupines, playing with scale and color. I also recently discovered the quilt book, 15 minutes of Play, and how to make “made fabric!” I started getting an idea of what I wanted the background of the lupine quilts to be, imagining multiple shades of blue …
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I divided my scraps up into shades of blue, and started making small squares of fabric. It was so lovely to cut, stitch, sew in such a meditative fashion. Time flew by without me hardly noticing.
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Very quickly I had many squares of light, medium, and dark blue and a pink blue!
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I arranged all the squares into four layouts, and stitched those together, to be the background for the four lupine quilts.
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Next: on to the flowers! I decided to do raw edge applique, and began by tracing the shapes of the stems and petals onto fusible webbing, and selecting colors for the petals.
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Cutting, ironing, placing, fusing … The meditative aspect of this quilt continues! In the end, I had a lovely small quilt top ready to quilt and a pile of scraps! One done, three more to go.
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