Tuesday, March 28, 2017

AHIQ #19

My first Chinese Coins went together so quickly I was sure this next one would, too. Not true. Of course, I don't have a deadline... and I unexpectedly went to a quilt retreat... and our guild show is this weekend and two of my entries weren't done. Why did I insist on entering my current WIPs rather than ones finished last year? Do you do that, too?

CCII is still on the design wall and I make a few triplet sets whenever I need to use up the last bit of thread on a bobbin. Here's what I made last week.

More sets for Chinese Coins II
What have I learned from #AHIQChineseCoins?

First, that I work better tackling one or two ideas than trying to copy a quilt. {I knew this already but it's always reinforced when I try to duplicate something - even my own work. As evidence I present my attempt to copy the petal quilting of a small Spiderweb onto a larger Spiderweb quilt.}

CCI took my niece's color sense, limited the values, and used a stripe effect. I learned why modern quilters prefer solids and white. When dark values are eliminated {or light values for that matter} the remaining fabrics must have some contrast. The print assumes greater importance because fabrics can so easily merge into one another.

Additionally it's hard to combine many neutrals in a soft quilt. Adding tan/brown to the greys and whites just muddied the background. I'm glad I took those out.

Chinese Coins I in soft blues, yellow, grey and white
I {may have} learned to check twice before hand cutting columns. One of these columns is upside down from my original plan. Probably no one notices but me, yet it slaps me in the face each time I look at the photo. It's hard/impossible to turn hand cut columns. {I wrote 'may have' because this is a frequent mistake. Someday I hope to cease making it and move to a new mistake. Ha.}

I learned that simple walking foot quilting can create an excellent texture.

This quilt reemphasized the need to check several values of binding. Originally a light grey seemed like it would be the best choice but the blue improved the quilt greatly when I tried it.

Walking foot quilting and blue binding finish a Chinese Coin quilt

I started CCII with the idea of making boxes similar to Timna Tarr's Summer Reading. It was a mistake to pre-plan that far.

Boxing Coins in red

Conversely, after looking over many of the links last month I realized I didn't want to pull random scraps from the bag. Many of yours were scrap-style but still had a planned value or color scheme that greatly enhanced the result.} So far I'm liking the semi-planned effect of blues and greens. Now that I have a large set, I'm ready to add a few more colors. No idea where it will end up.

Beginning Chinese Coins II by sewing triads of strips

These days I'm always reminded to slow down and finish what I start. I don't have the energy to keep too many quilts in-progress - neither the space in my sewing room nor in my head. Unfortunately that means limiting the classes I take. But I'm also taking time to review my sketchbooks more frequently.

One Final Chinese Coin Link

While the center of this Anna Williams quilt, LII: Strip Quilts, may not be a Coin it gives a strong nod to them.  Irregular blocks of strip sets are joined into three columns. The left column has five blocks while the other two have four blocks. Along the left seam the same fabric matches from the two columns. What a good way to disguise the seam. She incorporated a few short rows of triangles and perhaps some crazy piecing. Take a while to look at the construction.

Thank you

So many of you added excellent links last month. It's enlightening to see how differently we can each approach a simple design. We build confidence in our vision and voices when we attempt new versions.

This month I'm sure there will be even more starts and some finishes to link up. I look forward to reading what you've discovered. Thank you all for accepting this Invitation.

Next month Kaja's introducing another project on her blog. I admire her style and can't wait to see what she plans.

Enjoy the day, Ann

InLinkz removed because it was hacked.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Meanwhile There are Still Chinese Coins

The Coin trios {or triads or triplets?} using only fabric from the scrap bag are coming along better than expected. A nice change from Spiderweb quilting. They are arranged vertically so I can concentrate on that layout.

I sorted the scraps and decided to concentrate on greens and blues. Not exclusively, but for the most part. With seven partial rows it's looking kind of boring so I'm adding narrow bits of reds. {Those wider reds are not sewed right now. I'm comparing the effect of narrow versus wide.}

There was one long strip of fabric from the back of the Spiderweb quilt. After placing it on the design wall as ersatz sashing, I found I really like the look. Why? Perhaps because it's a quiet mix of blue, green, brown, and white. There's no more but I plan to scour my stash to see what else I haven't considered that might work.

I also have some longer strips at the left. Since I haven't decided how to use them, they'll remain long for a while.

I snapped a photo of the dome in the Chinese Pavilion at Disneyworld last year. The entire dome wouldn't fit in my view; I finally decided this was more "artistic." I was trying to clean out my digital photo albums which includes an amazing number of duplicates and out-of-focus shots of feet and sky. Does anyone else manage to take random/extra shots while picking up or putting down cameras?

Dome of the Chinese Pavilion, Disneyworld

Squirrel! This could be a Chinese Coins using highly patterned fabric as Coins. The vertical columns could narrow towards the top or even change width like these. {Wow. Such an original plan. Patting myself on the back.}

Then while browsing through Sarah Nishiura's website yesterday, this quilt struck a chord. Doesn't it also look like a partial view of a domed ceiling? And a Chinese Coin variation? Nothing new under the sun. I'm still going forward with mine since I thought of the plan before noticing Sarah's.

How did I find her? This quilt was included in one of Rod Kiracofe's recent exhibits. He shared that he'd literally pulled it off his neighbors' bed to put in the show! Don't you love the quiet coloration, so relaxing for a bedroom. And all the men's shirting - oxford cloth, broadcloth, twill, with bits of quilting cotton to add tiny sparks. Great use of fabric.

AHIQ linkup is this coming Tuesday. I was so impressed with the Chinese Coins linked last month and hope to see more interesting views this time.

Enjoy the day, Ann

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.  


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 art 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

InLinkz removed because it was hacked.