Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Spiderweb Borders

Border quilting is much better than the webs. {Frankly anything is better than the webs.} The plastic overlay helped me choose quilting designs.

Using plastic overlay to practice quilting designs
The toile needs a lacy, open design that won't overpower its printed design. I found an idea in Luann Kessi's sketchbook. Links to the entire sketchbook are found on her blog which is also a wonderful inspiration for art quilts. After much practice on paper and plastic, I quilted it over these two borders and simply outlined the birds. I tried to keep the leaves even smaller than Luann's in deference to the small leaves on the toile.

Lacy quilting on the toile, idea from Luann Kessi
Mel Beach suggested the loops on the smaller triangle row. Amazingly easy and good looking. Thanks, Mel!

Loop quilting
I had to have some feathers: a favorite and I can usually do them well. I considered both light and dark outer triangles but decided on the inner triangles.

A view of the quilting on all three borders
Here's a view from the back of all the work. You can see how the birds were outlined.

Free motion quilting from the back

All that's left is some outline stitching on the outer triangles which will reprise the outline stitching on the stars. Oh, yes. And binding, washing, blocking...

Enjoy the day, Ann

"The whole art of government consists in the art of being honest." Thomas Jefferson

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Empty Spools at Last

Empty Spools began over thirty years ago and I've been hoping to attend almost that long. With young children, tight budget and half a continent of distance it was a pipe dream. Secretly I promised to attend when the children were grown. Not only have they been grown {for quite a while} but we now live in California part of the year. And I still didn't attend.

Gayle mentioned that Valerie Goodwin's class, The Complex Composition, still had openings. Valerie visited our guild two years ago and neither of us could believe her class wasn't full. It was a sign to sign up immediately. We packed machines and fabric and off we went.

Julia Morgan designed the first buildings in the California Arts and Crafts style using local wood and stone. Fireplaces are the centerpiece of almost every structure. We checked in at reception in the Phoebe Hearst Center (Julia was Phoebe's protege)

Phoebe Hearst Social Hall, Asilomar
and found our rooms at The Lodge.

The Lodge (photo by Asilomar Conference Center)
This building was constructed after important visitors from New York found the tent buildings too primitive for their tastes. My room was simply furnished: single bed, small bathroom with shower, desk and dresser but faced the ocean. I left the windows open nightly to enjoy the sounds of the waves.

Simply furnished single room at The Lodge
Empty Spools centered on Merrill Hall and our class was held in an anteroom. From there we could see the ocean through the trees.

View of the Pacific Ocean from our classroom
Late one afternoon, we took a walk along the shore for a closer look.

Monterey Peninsula shoreline
Caterpillars covered the grounds. We had to step carefully to avoid crushing them. I'm not sure their species but another site suggests they might be tiger moths.

One of the many caterpillars on the grounds
Valerie led us through individual samples and a group project before we started on our own maps. Since she had a tremendous amount of detailed information to impart, they were important precursors.

Technique sample from Valerie Goodwin's class
Here's my initial draft, overlaying topographic maps and photographs of San Francisco.

Initial draft combining topographic maps and photographs

Enjoy the day, Ann

"If silence seems to give approval, then remaining silent is cowardly." Eleanor Roosevelt

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Pi Day 2017

3.14. It's Pi Day! This painting hangs at the Cantor Arts Museum at Stanford University.

Ultramarine blue circle surrounded by an arc of red and light blue sits on an orange background
Maxon's Island by Frank Stella

I had three circle quilt finishes in the past year. One was the Polka Dot quilt from Freddy Dot Com class.

Polka Dot quilt from Freddy Dot Com class
The other was a Crafted Applique pillow using Lara Buccella's method for raw edge applique.

Crafted Applique pillow
Part of the magic of Kaleidoscopes is the optical illusion of circles.

Kaleidoscope quilt
My family always refers to the time before a child was born as "when you were just a twinkle in your father's eye." Here's the quilts that are still just a twinkle in my eye.

Quilty365 blocks are still stacked ready to create a top.

A month of Quilty365 blocks.
New York Beauty was set aside with plans to finish this top this year. We'll see how that goes.

New York Beauty blocks

Spiderweb is almost a circle plus it's almost done.

Spiderweb quilt top
Progress! The stars are finished and I moved to the inner border. There's already so much applique that I simply  meandered around while outlining the leaves and birds. Here's the front

Meander quilting on the applique border
and the back to date.

Spiderweb border quilting from the back
I would be further along but... a friend called. There were two last minute openings at Empty Spools for The Complex Composition with Valerie Goodwin. On two days' notice, we loaded the car with fabric, machines and ideas and off we went.

Valerie is an extremely talented architect, professor, and quilter from Florida. She layers maps, architectural perspective drawings and images to create cohesive compositions. Quilters came from across the country and overseas to participate in this challenging class. We all wish we had another week or two with Valerie.

Empty Spools is held at Asilomar which is now part of the California Park System but originally constructed by the YWCA in the 1910s. Julia Morgan, architect of Hearst Castle  designed many of these buildings in the California Arts and Crafts style.

Much more later. I just need to settle back in.

Enjoy the day, Ann

"What after all has maintained the human race on this old globe despite all the calamities of nature and all the tragic failings of mankind, if not faith in new possibilities and courage to advocate them." - Jane Addams

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Quilting Stars

I switched to a simple spiderweb design for the full webs although it may need some cross lines. This design is working better than the petals although the half-petals around the border are okay. I plan to keep them since that would be a major unsewing job.

Free motion spirals in stars. Webs and flowers in spiderwebs

On the other hand, the spirals in the stars are lovely. These smaller units are easier to handle on a domestic machine. {I don't know why I forgot how difficult it is to create smooth arcs longer than the space under the machine.}

Then I'll head to the border. Several ideas are floating around my brain and surely one will work well. This needs to be finished soon. It's supposed to hang in our guild show April 1 and 2. If you're in the Bay Area, please come. Lots of talent in this guild.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Quilting the Spiderwebs and Random Coins

The plan was to use the same design to quilt my spiderwebs as I'd used on Suhavi's toddler quilt. But this quilt is more than four times larger. Even though I marked the inflection points with washable marker rather than straight pins, my struggles with the weight and bulk certainly show in the wobbliness of the curves.

Spiderweb with petal quilting
Only a few webs are quilted and they are all near the center. It seemed better to start there since the rest of the quilt is softer and squishier. But I'm not "warmed up" enough and it shows.

I've set it aside for a few days while I decide whether to redo the worst areas or take it all out. Here's a possible spiderweb design that might work better.

Possible spiderweb design
In the meanwhile I started another Chinese Coins. Currently I'm using the scrap bag. That thing is packed to overflowing.

Sewing small Chinese Coin sets
Wanting to try the boxing effect, I framed sets of one to four coins with red.

Boxing Chinese Coins in red

There's too much red. Back to the drawing board.

I next sorted by colors and have been making trios of mostly blues and greens {after a short foray into pinks.} They are arranged vertically so I force myself to try a new direction.

Chinese Coin sets arranged vertically

Finally something is working although I'm not sure where it's going.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Chinese Coins in the Bank and KofB #14

A bit of bad timing. Kaleidoscope of Butterflies sneaked up while I was focused on Chinese Coins so not much to show. Still no butterflies in my area although the milkweed is growing well.

Last August, the Chicago Tribune noted the drastic decline of monarch butterflies in 2016. Their migration starts this month. Please add milkweed and nectar plants to your garden. Chris Clarke of KCET wrote an article about the benefits of gardening with native plants.

Cathy posted a fun and easy looking butterfly block on her blog. I think I'll have to try it. I want to make a butterfly quilt this year.  

#AHIQChineseCoins

Yep, the Coins have been deposited at my niece's house. Here's the finished Chinese Coins after a quick wash and dry.

Each column consists of alternating pairs of fabrics: blue, yellow, grey or white
Improvisational Chinese Coins quilt
Since Spiderweb is mainly free-motion quilting, I decided on a simpler walking-foot design for this time: parallel lines. I started them across the quilt about 1 to 1.5-inches apart.

Beginning parallel quilting lines about 1-1.5" apart

Then I returned and added a quilting line between every other set. This maintained the look of the parallel lines, increased the quilting density (which might help reduce the strain on those long seam lines, and added a bit of textural variety.

Spiderweb quilting has been a bugaboo but this was quick and easy. It only took two days to quilt. I need to quilt like this more often.

Filling in with an additional line between every other pair

The middle column contains only three fabrics: blue, yellow and a floral Marimekko. I was able to include the informational text on one of the coins because it was printed far enough away from the selvedge.

Selvedge text included in quilt
Detail of Marimekko informational text

A bright blue binding added more color. I think it needed the pop.

Chinese Coins binding and quilting details
Now this quilt graces its new home in Pflugerville. Don't know where that is? Many songs are written about beautiful cities around the world but Pflugerville is a small, farming community north of Austin. Here's video of one by the Austin Lounge Lizards.

Here are stats about Pflugerville's Chinese Coins.

Quilt Details
Size: 57" x 75"
Design: Improvisational Chinese Coins
Batting: Mountain Mist Cream Rose 100%cotton
Thread: Gutermann cotton, light blue
Quilting: Parallel lines with walking foot on domestic machine


Other sights in the area include Cele's BBQ restaurant (pronounced Seal.) It's been used as a location of several movies including Second Hand Lions {which I've seen} and Texas Chainsaw Massacre {which I have no plans to see.} Great barbeque beef, ribs and sausage but you have to bring your own sides. Really.

Cele Community Center and BBQ restaurant
Another day we drove over to The Oasis on Lake Travis where you can see some of the most gorgeous sunsets in the world. I haven't eaten there in years - before it burned. Still gorgeous views although we were there at midday rather than sunset.

View of Lake Travis from The Oasis

There's more artwork than I remember, including this piece.

Spaceship Oasis art installation at The Oasis
Artwork abounds throughout the region. This mural decorates the wall of Google Fiber Austin.

Mural at Google Fiber Austin

There's still time to link up with AHIQ, too. Share your progress with Chinese Coins or another improvisational or utility quilting here.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

AHIQChineseCoins and AHIQ #18

Can you believe it's been a month since we started #AHIQInvitational?

Originally I called this a challenge but there are enough challenges of every sort in the world right now. So, let's call it something friendlier and more inclusive: an open invitation. For the first quarter of 2017 we hope you'll explore at least one variation of the Chinese Coin design. If this is your first visit, refer to the inaugural post here.

I've been working on a Chinese Coin quilt that will be a housewarming present to my niece. As usual, it's a learning opportunity. There are many variations but I felt she would prefer something quiet and restrained. Her colors are light blue, yellow, grey, and white. {Not my typical style. Not my personal choice of colors. A good challenge on many levels.}

In keeping with a quieter quilt, I used a striped effect. Each column was originally composed of a single pair of blue, yellow, grey or white fabrics pulled from my stash. When those ran out, I took strips from the scrap bag. For the final column (far left) I snapped this photo to help decide between the two lights. The top light is too beige so I used the cream with yellow poppies on bottom.

Columns of Chinese Coins ready to arrange

Once the columns were done I had to work out the order and decide whether or not to add sashing. Here are some of the fabrics I tested. The only one that seemed to add anything to the conversation was a dark grey hand-dyed remnant from Jonathan Shannon. Since that has only enough for one or two sashings, this quilt won't have any.
Some possible sashing choices for Chinese Coins

Moving the blue columns further apart while keeping the soft columns on the outside looks better. Although this top was ready to layer and baste, I realized I'd never shown some of the strip sets that were discarded. 
I thought this top was done

All I did was  position a few strip sets on top for a quick comparison. One is the yellow and brown plaid with floral while the other two were still lurking in the scrap bag.

Chinese Coins quilt top with darker sections laid on it

They are too dark and dull but made me realize I like the way these block sets break up the long columns. Once they were taken off, the quilt looked awkward. Trying to use good art principles, I positioned variations a quarter or third of the way in rather than at the midpoint. But a good plan for a single column makes a problem when several a sewn together. The middle has a "bare" look and the darker blue column on the left and this middle column change colors at the same point.

I also noticed I sewed the right-hand blue column upside down.  {If I'd sewed that correctly it would have added more coin change variation.} Those seams were cut freehand so there's no turning it now.

After an hour playing with various strips {some of which were too short to use} I finally replaced one section of three. It's easier than it sounds. I unsewed the original trio, sewed a new set, pressed both, overlaid the original on the slightly larger new, and cut the new to fit that shape. No worrying about individual strips; it's the final size of the group that matters.

Replacing a section of one column

And here's the result. A very minor change: two whites substituted for two yellows in the middle. But it adds a bit of change in the middle of the columns.

Chinese Coins quilt top, final arrangement

That middle column still contains only three fabrics: blue, yellow and a Marimekko print. I've only reordered it a bit.

Value has been an object lesson for this quilt. Although they don't cover the entire spectrum, the quieter colors still need a range of values. Another discovery is that prints react differently with lower contrast colors. The grey and white column on the right and the yellow floral and plaids {that I excluded} are cases in point. As yardage these prints appear quite different but when sewed, they blended together more. Some were almost mushy. Value is more important than color.

Now I look forward to reading about your projects. Please include your current work, whether or not it's a Chinese Coins project. Everyone is welcome: beginners to experienced quilters. Over the past year we have noticed a wide diversity of construction techniques and specific areas of interest. It's not just a "photo op." Share what you've learned and join our exploration of improvisational and utility quilting.


Enjoy the day, Ann

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Outlining the Stars

 I bordered the stars with straight stitching. Each star has its own stitching. Lots of threads to tie off.

Stars bordered with walking foot stitching
Here's the view from the back.

View of stitching from the back

Next step will be to fill in the spiderwebs and stars. I may use the same method for the spiderwebs as Suhavi's Stars but I'm thinking about different FMQ designs for the stars themselves.

I'm plugging away on the Sampler quilt. Someone suggested I fold and baste the edges to keep them from fraying and the batting from becoming dirty. 

Edges folded and basted to keep them tidy and clean
Given that this quilt is twenty-nine years old and still unfinished, that's the best advice I've ever been given!

Tuesday is our next AHIQ linkup. I have #AHIQChineseCoins to share. Do you?
  


See you then.

Enjoy the day, Ann

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Polka Dot Quilt for a Great Debater

Sidetracked again... by another finish! Finishing quilts is a great way to clear out my sewing room and reduce my stash. It takes as much material as the front. At this rate there won't be many UFOs around here AND I'll have room for a few new purchases. {Nothing humble about this outright bragging.}

In case you hadn't noticed, boys are different than girls. :-) High drama always surrounded my daughter and her friends while the boys took most things in stride... until I made a fatal error.

As my offspring graduated high school and college I always made quilts for them and their best friends. So when my youngest finished college I made quilts for his two roommates as a matter of course. {Three quilts. Count 'em.} You'd have thought that was a sweet, considerate gesture. Wrong.

I knew the guys watched the games at his apartment but didn't realize part of the attraction was his quilt collection. Turns out they loved wrapping in those old quilts. Everyone had a favorite.

The arrival of two new quilts occasioned loud discussions of "who was most worthy." Each vociferously propounded his own opinion of who should have received a quilt based on
  1. closeness of their friendship, 
  2. length of time they'd known my son, 
  3. number of classes they'd taken together, 
  4. climate of their new homes, and probably even
  5. phases of the moon. 
What a ruckus. ROTFLOL. What else could I do? Here's the fourth quilt for the Great Debaters. {Two more to go.} It's my Polka Dot quilt from the Freddy Dot Com class. {Not quite FDC because I used a different template.}

Piano keys border in reds surround polka dot quilt.
Polka Dot quilt
Look. The piano keys border is a single column of Chinese Coins! It reminds me I need to get busy with that project.

The back mimics the front in a simpler fashion using up some more leftovers.

Back of Polka Dot quilt
One of Freddy Moran's quilts had large cobblestone circles. {I took a picture but seem to have deleted it. Not only can I not show it, I had to remember what I thought the quilting looked like.} Anyway the recent applique ideas reminded me because they all doubled stitched each design without trying to stitch in the same place. I practiced that technique on this quilt and must say it's very easy. It only took a day to quilt. Plus a lot of thread. Multiple loops take more thread than you think.

Detail of loose circles on Polka Dot quilt

Freddy encouraged us to include lots of dotty fabric which makes a festive look.

I bound it with a black and white stripe printed on the diagonal. Yes! Cut straight of grain but looks like bias binding.

Binding and quilting detail of Polka Dot quilt

It arrived at Great Debater #4's home last week and he loves it. Don't we all want a recipient who truly values our quilts? Lucky me.

Quilt Details
Size: 70" x 82"
Pattern: Polka Dot or Freddy Dot Com
Batting: Mountain Mist Cream Rose 100% cotton
Thread: Gutermann red cotton 
Quilting: Loose free-motion circles

Other posts about this project:
  1. Fabric pull 
  2. Drafting differences of Racetrack and Drunkards Path
  3. Beginning
  4. Borders
  5. Finished top
Enjoy the day, Ann