Friday, September 14, 2012

Patchwork Pie: a new slice!

Friends & Followers:
Patchwork Pie is moving to my website!
In fact, it's there right now:
You can still get all the old posts here on Blogger, but the new ones will be posted at SunnieQuilts so I can have more pictures.
For those who have been so kind as to sign on as Followers, you can get on the RSS feed at the new site.
I would be honored if you changed your bookmark or 'favorite" link so we can keep on talking about QUILTS!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Scrap Quilt gets washed & ready!

As you may have noticed in the last post, minimal quilting doesn't do much for the looks of a quilt, but it does hold the layers together.
I tried to get away with minimal quilting on this quilt, but I just couldn't let it be!
The pattern is Jewel Box or Buckeye Beauty
There is red quilting in the red parts, and green on the green, for the most part.
But there was just a bit too much of the background with no I ran long diagonal lines through those places. All the quilting is a serpentine stitch, with a nice curve.
To keep the colors matching, I skipped over the red and green pieces. That's where I was happy my machine has a lock-stitch button and another for thread cutting! That does leave a thread on the top to cut, and two little ones on the back at the end of the stitching line.
Here's my favorite thread snipper:
Double curve scissors
This pair is about 4" long, and sharp as can be! That curved blade gets right down at the fabric to cut the thread. It pays to be careful to avoid cutting the quilt! (you know how I know!)

Of course you want to see the back. And I'm telling you, this is a great back! It "matches" the top by theme (Christmas) and it doesn't show anything.
"Chilly" by Timeless Treasures
Those penguins have been celebrating finally getting out of my stash!
They are so much fun, this is practically a two-sided quilt. Which reminds me of an idea:
Instead of adding to the backing width by putting a strip down the center or a double width of fabric, add extra around one width and it will look like a border. That does make an easy two-sided quilt.
Well, if you planning ahead it does.
I'm sure I got this on sale, intending it for a back, so I had double length. Can you spot the seam?
Waldo was not able to attend this party
After the extra quilting, it was right to the washer and dryer for this old friend. I have had the top for a looooong time, and you have probably seen it at one of my scrap quilt lectures. It demonstrates two things:
1) It has all the same size prints, which makes it "too busy".... a good scrap quilt needs a variety of prints.
2) Holiday quilts can get away with excessive busy-ness!
3) A simple traditional pattern is a good scrappy choice.
OK, that was 3 things. You know I am both talkative and innumerate (can't do numbers).

What happened in the wash & dry???
I cannot count high enough to say how many fabrics are in this quilt.
It has a lovely crinkly texture, and no dye bleed from the un-washed dark green border! (thank-you, Color Catchers!)If you cannot see the texture in this picture, it's because that is very hard to capture in a photo. Quilting is hard to see on most quilt pics, which is why a lot of time OR a professional photographer is a good idea if you need an important picture made.
Fun "homework": Next time you look at a quilt magazine, see if you notice which pics show quilting, which do not...and which are actually un-quilted tops!

Friday, August 31, 2012

Wash that quilt...or not?

After all the work we put into a quilt, sometimes it's hard to think of it taking a trip through the washing machine...and maybe even the dryer!
Not all quilts need to be washed, but when I am planning to sell it, or I realize how much Shayla O'Puss "helped", I know it has to be cleaned. And when I sell a quilt that is meant to be used and loved (i.e. a utility quilt) that's especially important.
Cherry-cherry always washes her quilts, and she has a point: that's how they get the soft and crinkly texture most people love!
We're both working on finishing quilts to sell in the QuiltFest sale room, and this year they'll have a special additional tag that says the quilts have been pre-washed and give a few care suggestions.
It can be scary to wash a quilt, especially when you aren't positive about the condition of the fabrics: were they pre-washed? are they still  full of dye anyway? were they so cheap they are only held together by the excessive amount of sizing/starch?
Here is an example, my Homespun Christmas Quilt:
Disclaimer: only the side filler triangles are actually homespun!
This is the quilted but un-washed quilt. It is not heavily quilted, having just an X of stitching through each 6" block. The batt is an 80/20 cotton/poly.

Un-washed back
The backing fabric is something really stiff and cheap, beside being darker than this picture shows. So I had no idea what would happen when it gets washed.
I always wash with cold water and a minimal (if any) amount of detergent. For this one I also put in 2 sheets of dye catchers. After the wash, it went right into the dryer.
NOTE: this is NOT the way to clean a vintage quilt!!!
So how did it fare?
Very lazy quilting!

It does have a softer look! A judge would say "Needs more quilting" but it has enough to hold it together.
How about the back?
Very cheap backing fabric!

Also much nicer. The green did not run!
This would have a much nicer "crinkle" if it had more lines of quilting.
And guess what? I just may put some more in! Yes, you can add quilting when it looks like this, but you also have to be careful to ease the fabric where it has puffed up. And after it has a lot of texture, you shouldn't mess with it....unless you enjoy having lots of pleats stitched in!
If I do quilt more on this, the top will be fine, since I can control that. The back will probably get a few, as usual, it's another decision to make!

With Turn In Day only a week away, I have to switch gears and get my entry ready. It seems no matter how "finished" you think that quilt is, it always needs something right before the show: sleeve, label, last few embellishments...and probably some cat hair removal!
Shayla is a dedicated "helper", which means she likes to sleep on any quilt she can get at.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Countdown to Quilt Show!

This is the last week that does not have an official QuiltFest event scheduled before the show opens Thursday, September 20.
A week from Saturday is Turn-In Day, and I am heading up one of the locations where quilters will bring their entries.
"Smells fine and has no pet hair!" 
Basically that means I get to lug tables around and set up the room, but there will be plenty of helpers! And if anyone has questions, well, you know I am full of opinions!
Each quilt is removed from it's bag (let's hope everyone has a BIG bag this year!) and checked over: Does it look OK? Stains or pet hair? Is the hanging sleeve stitched on? Is it the correct size for the category it's in?
We can't do anything about stains except note them, so we are not blamed when the quilt is returned. If there's pet hair, we have a sticky lint roller!(also great for loose threads).  If the quilt has "an odor", judging it has sheets over & under it to protect the other quilts.
Sometimes a quilt is moved to a different category due to the size. Very rarely it gets moved because the maker confused how much applique or piecing was done, or we find out a Young Quiltmaker (age 18 & under) really wants to compete for a prize....or a relative has helped so much that the quilt needs to go in the Duet category (two makers)!
Mostly though, we try to go with the category the maker entered in.

Next comes Judging for 2--3 days.
A category on tables, ready for the judge.
Judging is a lot of work for teams of people...quilts going in and out of their bags, tables set up, scribes taking down what the judge says, awards being decided, and all has to kept in order so quilts are not misplaced.
It's a great way to have a sneak peek at the show, and to learn from the comments.
BUT, what happens at Judging, stays at Judging!

Then it's down to the Convention Center to hang the quilts.
Thank goodness the pipe & drape is done by professionals!
QuiltFest invested in a new hanging system a couple years ago that is worth every penny. The hanger is like a curtain rod and goes on hooks, with cords and pulleys. It used to take an entire day to hang the show. Now it's done by early afternoon. It seems pretty slick, but that is thanks to a lot of organization by many people all the way along.

The next day vendors come in to set up their "booths of temptation", and members of QuiltFest guilds bring in quilts to sell.
Quilts for sale: all sizes and types!
This is a great place to buy a quilt at a very good price. There are also some antique quilts for collectors, and quilt tops. Sometimes there are purses and bags. My guild is in charge of this booth on Thursday afternoon...stop by and let us show you some fantastic holiday gifts!

Then comes the Preview Party (Wed. Sept. 19) and the show opens and it's a mad rush of happy quilters until it all has to be taken down. You can follow along here as I (over)do each activity...but if you can make it to the show, that's the best!
I hope to see you there...

Now back to quilting my sale items!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Utility Quilting can be pretty!

It's time again to get ready for QuiltFest...especially the Sale Room!
With seven guilds presenting this big show, there is no boutique of small items...but members of a hosting guild may sell quilts. So this time of year I am thinking of how to turn some of my samples and tops into sale items. 
And being the lazy person I am, my first choice is utility quilting! Let's get it done!
Utility quilting can be pretty, although basically it's purpose is to hold all the layers together .
Use either of these feet. I prefer the open toe.
You can see the thread coming right up at the seam line, but I'm not stitching "in-the-ditch"...I am stitching ON the ditch! Choose a nice programmed stitch on your machine that goes from side to side (like a feather stitch) and just use the seam as a guide. Sure, you can use a tiny zigzag stitch, about with a fancy thread?
This stitch seems has little V shape.
If you look back behind the foot, on the green patch, you can see what happens when you have a (ahem) mis-matched corner. Just stop at the end of the patch, then lift the needle & foot, and re-align it to go down the center of the next patch.
By the time you're done quilting, you'll hardly see it.
In fact, I think when you make a "mistake" you should wait until the next day and, if you can't find it immediately, forget about it!
NOTE: that is NOT the way to win an award.
Although this stitch seemed like a good idea at the time, it does have a straight line right down the center. That means it ended up being almost like stitch-in-the-ditch. Here is a place I went out of the ditch.
Is it hideous? Has it ruined your day?
If so, you may prefer to read someone else's blog.
Otherwise, stick with me and we'll continue to explore real life!

What else happens with this kind of quilting?
You'll often see the fabric piling up in front of the foot.
Try to resist the urge to pull it flat... it usually just eases itself by the time it is under the needle.
Remember, the joy of this quilting style is the feed dogs are UP and the machine is making even stitches. This is not Free Motion (which I will bend you ear...or eyes...about at other times!).
Now this is a pleat forming , and you don't want that sewn into the quilt. No problem!
Just stop, lift up the foot, and chances are the fold will disappear. If not, smooth it out a bit. As always, the needle down position is helpful for holding your exact place!

It does help if you don't try to break a land speed record while you're sewing. I always want to go faster...get it done, and be on to the next project! In my long experience of quilting, this is what I can tell you for sure:
The third time you think you can go a little faster is the time you mess it up.
So if you only speed up twice, you  have probably found the correct rate for your quilting!

Here's what the whole quilt looks like:

You're could use some quilting around the outside edge. That floating set leaves a good bit of space there. 
But it does have a binding.... and thanks to the Olympic Games, two other do as well!

Tomorrow is another Baste-A-Thon with Cherry-cherry.

Our secret weapon is the biggest can of 505 spray that you ever have seen!
And we know how to use it.

PERSONAL NOTE: "They" say you should never start a blog post with an apology for not writing. And that's true, it's boring to many people, especially those are reading for the first time.
But I do love my Follwers, and wanted to let you know a giant electric surge wiped out a number of items at my house...including my computer. It's taken awhile to get back up to normal (whatever that might be).

Monday, May 28, 2012

Quilting with a cat

Many quilters also have a cat in residence...or are owned by cat, since we know who really runs things!
So any project that takes more than an hour to quilt is going to be a major Cat Magnet, if you leave it in place at the sewing machine.
Working on "Brightest Jewel" ...pattern soon to be published.

Shayla loves to sleep on a quilt!
Totally snoozed out

Not moving even though she hates having her picture taken

So when you have to leave the quilt, my advice is to turn the back side up.
You won't lose your place on the quilt, and the cat fur will mostly be deposited where it's easier to remove.
I'm going to wash the quilt anyway!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

IQA quilt show in Cincinnati: part two

Here are a few more pictures from the International Quilting Association show in Cincinnati. These are details, not the full quilts. If anyone objects to an image of their quilt being shown, I will remove it.

Every year this juried exhibit is debuted at the IQA show in Houston, Texas

detail: Austintatious (Barb Forrister)
What a year for 3-D flowers! If you missed the giant Passion Flowers, check yesterday's blog.

detail: Hill Country (Betty Busby)
I can't resist an armadillo on a quilt! There were actually several in the you think it had something to do with so many Texas quilts? This is a small corner of Betty Busby's quilt. There are plenty of flowers in the rest!

This exhibit is another annual one, featuring quilts made that are "clearly based on a documented 20th century or earlier American design or pattern".

detail: Gone to Texas (Ardie L. Skjod, quilted by Debbie Blair)
My list of favorite quilt types is getting long, but the "pink & brown" quilt has been a standard. Of course, to be successful they must have other colors mixed in, but the first impression should always be "pink & brown". This is a classic color combo for any pre-1900 quilt.

Just as a landscape is a natural for pictorial quilting, a cityscape or building inspires a quilter with lines and geometric shapes.

detail: Central Park  (Kathy York)
This is even more amazing than the 3-D flowers! Central Park in New York City is depicted in fabric and surrounded by buildings! Each one is about 2--3" tall. What could have been just a trick really is a beautiful piece of is another detail of the park's interior:
detail: Central Park (Kathy York)
Speaking of 3-D, how about this's the Artist Village!
Artist Village (York, Davilla, Perez, Jenison, Fingal, Hudson, McCauley, Forrister, Adams, Wasilowski, Anderson, Testa, Alford, Call, Allen and Hallmark)
The houses are 1--2' tall, and there are trees and other items, too. I do hope a magazine does an article on this whimsical collaboration so you can get a close up of all the details and clever ideas!
And then there's:
detail: Answering Nature's Call  (Kathy Augar Smith, quilted by Wilma Cogliantry)
Many people do appreciate the picturesque "little old shack out back" and this quilt is just beautifully done in it's attention to details and fabric selections.

Run out and buy a copy of the book (same title) so you can read about the quiltmakers working with a theme each month....they couldn't stop and went on for two years! Each quilt is a little jewel.
Just 4 of the 24 theme "mosaics" in the Twelve By Twelve exhibit
There were many more exhibits, such as the Hoffman Challenge; Text on Textiles; Greater Cincinnati Landmarks Quilt Project; O Canada, and two from SAQA (Studio Art Quilters Association).
A different exhibit, Eyes of the Quilter: Friendship, invited quilters to share photography and hiaku poems. I was happy to see the photography that inspired Jars of Clay by Judy Momenzadeh.

Oh, yes...there was a vendors mall, of course. A giant one. I found it interesting that the vendors were referred to as "exhibitors", but then we all know who is really paying for the space to hang the quilts! There was plenty to buy, but I didn't have my purse opened too often.

IQA and the Duke Energy Convention Center did a good job of providing on-site food and all the other amenities for a big show. It was not hard to find downtown parking within a block of the show. If you can't get to the Houston show, this is a fair alternative, and if you are within driving distance it's a Must See Show for the second week in April!

Friday, April 27, 2012

IQA quilt show in Cincinnati-- part one

The International Quilt Association Spring show was in Cincinnati April 13--15, so I decided to combine a family visit with a chance to see a big show. Formerly located in Chicago, the IQA moved the show last year to this visitor-friendly city on the Ohio River.
The quilt portion of the show featured 18 exhibits, including a selection of quilts from the Houston (Fall) show. Many of the exhibits have books based on the quilts, so photography was not allowed. Several were specially put together for this show.
All photos shown here are details of the quilts to protect the artists' rights....I will gladly remove any photo if the artist objects to its use here.

QUILTS: A WORLD OF BEAUTY selections from the 2011 show in Houston, Texas
detail: What You and the Animals Gave Me (Megumi Mizuno)
It's always fun to see some "old friends" and this is a detail from my favorite at the Paducah AQS show last year. It also demonstrates one of the problems encountered: much of the lighting was done with spotlights on poles, so whether taking pictures or just going in for a close look, there were shadows galore.
detail: Life in the City  (Sheila Frampton-Cooper)
Cherry-Cherry and I have been thinking and talking a lot about art quilts lately, so it was educational to get a chance to examine work like this.

detail: Sororan Spring (Margit Kagerer)
This is a very good example of using photos on fabric along with piecing in a quilt. Although the bird image is a square sewn in, it blends beautifully with the shapes for the trees.

detail: Honey Lover's Song (Yoshiko Kobatashi)
Lovely applique in this one! But I also loved using the bird and leaves designs as trapunto in the open spaces.

dtatil: Passion Flower (MaryAnn Vaca-Lambert)
This three-flower quilt was literally a show stopper! There was no way to avoid joining the crowd to admire these huge 3-D flowers. I don't know the botanical name for the spikey parts, but they were indeed made with chenille stems!

detail: Supernova (Heather Jones, quilted by Angela Walters)
"Modern Quilting" is getting established as a recognizable style, and it was pure fun to see what this group did with an old yet appropriate traditional block! Yes, this is just one huge Ohio Star, but check out the fabulous quilting in all those big spaces!

I think this might have been an actual competition in the was very hard to tell, and the white glove ladies had no idea. There were ribbons on the quilts in various places, but they were hard to read and some seemed to be from other shows.
detail: Alpha Quilt (Becky Gardner)
I cannot resist a good alphabet quilt, and this one also featured trapunto work.

detail: Red (Sandra Lauterbach)
This one was like layers of many different width strips, raw edges and flowing lines of texture.

detail: Last Light (Marianne R. Williams)
Here is a very intriguing edge finish, one the artist uses often, as we recently saw her work in St. Augustine, Florida, at the Fiber Artists Network show, beside several pieces in Cincinnati. It's just threads...lots of threads.

detail: Salad with Pears (Gail Segreto)
I had to look at this one a couple of times. It's just wonderful.The techniques don't have to be extremely difficult to be great....but good color choices and fine design will take a simple piece right to the top.

detail: Saturday Market Delectables
  (Tina McCann)
The whole quilt shows a delightful collection of felted purses, each one featuring a different vegetable! A lot of work...and a lot of fun in this.

That's enough for today. In the next post I'll share a few more details, especially some more amazing three-dimensional creations!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Quilt Shop visit: A Scarlet Thread

Finally, I was able to visit A Scarlet Thread in McDonough, Georgia!
Every time I drive through Atlanta I see the billboard about this wonderful shop...and never has it been a time when I could stop. Last year at QuiltFest shop owners Ken & Karen Taylor had a lovely booth that inspired me even more to visit...yet two more trips passed by with no luck!
So, finally on the way to the IQA show in Cincinnati I was able to stop...with sidekick Cherry-Cherry!
A Scarlet Thread is only 2 miles from I-75 exit 221 near Atlanta
Loaded with fabric of all kinds and decorated with great imagination, it's easy to see why this large shop will be featured in the Spring/Summer 2012 issue of Quilt Sampler magazine! 
Can't miss this display!
Right inside the front door we saw that quilts were definitely under construction here! We had a very friendly greeting from Gail to be sure we knew where to find all the various fabrics, machines, and patterns.
Instant selection for 5-Yard Quilts
I bet plenty of people don't get any farther that the beautiful display of coordinated packets for the popular 5-Yard Quilts! What instant gratification. Yet we moved on, as our time was limited...especially for such an expanse of fabric!
These are from Cleo's Designs....gorgeous!
Cherry-cherry can't miss a giant flower, and these beauties were hung back-to-back with two more designs. Because I forgot to write down the pattern names, I went to the shop's website and discovered a huge inventory! The flower patterns are by Cleo's Designs.
Bolts, and fat quarters and samples everywhere!
A Scarlet Thread has fabric for ever sewist & quilter, including Minkee, extra-wide backing, and reproduction fabrics. I was delighted to find a whole wall of polka dots!
Cue the accordion!
Faithful readers know that at this point I became absorbed in looking at fabric and not thinking about my camera anymore! So I missed getting pics of the adorable huge flower-shaped floor pillow and the to-die-for white lighting fixture that resembles a snowflake or Sputnik (sharp eyed shopper C.C. says it is from IKEA!).
There's also a very generous sized class space with a kitchen counter...who wouldn't want to hole up here for a day?
But we only had an hour, and a quickly spent one at that! After a keep-it-moving tour of the entire place, we came back around to the display by the door.
Pick a pattern, pick a pack...make a quilt!
Our last bit of time was spent examining the batik section and making a few purchases...the IQA show we were headed to would require some of our resources!

I hope to make a return trip this wonderful shop, possibly with more friends. Karen says an advanced notice for a group of 5 or more will allow them to plan some special treats!
A Scarlet Thread is open every day except Sunday.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

But is it Art? Part II

I love blues of all kinds, and purples, too. So for my next art quilt experiment, I started with a dragonflies batik square.  I think of this as collaborative work, since the batik artist's signature is on the square. Even if that person made hundreds of similar pieces, this is the one I have, and my little work would not have come about without that unknown artist's help!
Let's see what I learned from the previous attempt:
Dragoonflies on purple and blue
Lesson One: pull more fabrics to work with! Yes, 17 or so is a good amount.
An interesting part of this step is discovering what colors are actually in the batik square. I was so sure that the blue was a dark true blue, but wouldn't you know, it turned out to be a deep turquoise! I had to replace a few of the original fabrics I auditioned, though most played well together anyway.
And that's an important lesson: colors are more about relationships with one another than about names or theories.You just have to see them together to find out if they'll be friendly or not!

Once again I cut strips to work with. If the fabric was a fat quarter, I just cut up the whole thing because I am really trying to use up fabric. And, yes, that is almost impossible to accomplish!
If the piece was yardage, I snipped the selvedge at some eye-ball length in the 8" to 12" range and torn off a hunk. Then I cut strips 1.5", 2" 2.5", some 3" until it was used up. Any odd size/shape left went into a new container I have for odd batik strips. More on using those in another post!

The fabric auditions continue!
It's a good thing I held on to that purple hand-dyed fabric from a class 20 years looks perfect here! That's why we never can really get rid of fabric...well, one of many reasons!
It's such a nice match with the square's upper corner, I knew I'd better put a value-contrast frame right away. So there's another lesson learned from the Bird House experiment in the previous post.
(I forgot to mention I call it Bird House because it has a triangle in each upper corner...but it does not look like a bird house).

I tried a few more things here like inserting wavy strips. I was having fun sewing.
I did not remember to take more photos.
So this is where I finally decided to stop:
Dragonflies 19" x 26"
I like it, but again I don't love it.
It's pretty and decorative, but is it art?
I thought about it for quite awhile, and came to this conclusion: not art.
Not "real" art. Of course, there is a place for purely decorative art, which also has skill and design involved.
What's missing for me is heart...or a story. Somebody else could make the exact same thing, and if they had a feeling for it or a story behind it, then they could call it art and be truthful.
For me, this has no real meaning other than a fun exercise.
So I guess "art"  has to be the call of the maker...we can never actually know as viewers!
Unless, of course, the work creates a story or meaning in you! can be a two-way creation! 
And at another time, this same question could take a whole new interesting direction. That's why we never really want a one-and-only answer!

I have two more batik pictures that I want to combine in a piece. I have wanted to work with them for a long time.
If it turns out well, it will be art to me, because it has a story and meaning to express (whether or not anyone else ever knows). I hope at least it will be pretty or decorative!