Monday, October 5, 2015

Modern Quilt Guild meeting

Yesterday I drove to Northampton to attend a meeting with the local group of the Modern Quilt Guild. So glad I did! Their meeting space is the common house for the Rocky Hill Cohousing community just outside of Northampton, and it's spectacularly beautiful. Timna Tarr spoke about choosing quilting motifs that best finish a particular project, a topic that I've been particularly interested in recently. I shared a few of my Sol LeWitt projects that were inspired by my trip to MassMoCA several years ago, including my bed-sized replica of Wall Drawing #1112.

Wall Drawing 1112 (Sol LeWitt, MassMoCA 2003 installation)
"Log Cabin a la LeWitt" in situ (90 x 90")
This was a really fun project to work on. I cut the six basic colors of Kona into 3.5" strips, then rolled them onto empty paper tubes threaded onto an old broomstick. Starting from the middle (four squares), I determined which patch to use next by rolling dice: A six-sided die determined the color, a 12-sided die for the strip length in inches, and an 8-sided die for an extra eighth-inch measurement. The only limitation I put on the process was that a color was not allowed to touch itself in a previous row (from LeWitt's original rules for this piece). Once I had the 90" log cabin sewn, I quilted it using the lines in another of his wall drawings, concentric circles from the center and arcs from all four corner points. Again, I rolled a 6-sided die to determine which color of thread to use in each ring. LeWitt's work is perfectly "quiltable" -- about half of his wall murals are suitable as patchwork, and another set of his works are simply rules for groups of lines, perfect as quilting motifs. A complete quilt project like this one, then, superimposes the lines over the color patchwork.

I had initially made a smaller version of this same wall drawing as a sort of "test run" for the process. For the smaller one (1" strips, 27" finished), the quilting lines were from another of LeWitt's line pieces: 10" straight lines, overlapping in all directions.

Wall Drawing 86:  Ten thousand lines about 10 inches (25 cm) long, covering the wall evenly. (Sol Lewitt, MassMoCA 2003 installation)

I painted the tiny pig for the New Britain Youth Theater's fundraiser that year.

(I confess that I went through a really serious Sol LeWitt phase right after that first museum trip.)

I won't be able to make the NMQG November meeting way up in Shelburne, but once I see how the full-time spring schedule is going to treat me, I might try to go again...visiting Northampton once a month doesn't seem like a huge hardship. Thanks to the NMQG for their kind welcome!!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Donation Day

I just shared half a dozen quilt tops (maybe eight? I already forget), along with a huge box overflowing with yardage, with Quilts2Heal. Here's hoping they end up finished nicely and in the homes of people who need them.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Pillow extravaganza

I have been scavenging through my bins and shelves of half-finished projects and interesting bits, making pillows, ornaments, tableware, and little bits of loveliness. Recently I found a small embroidered Pi that was cut off-center in a hexagon, but with enough margin to become a circle.

I put some Dresden wedges together and appliqued the pi into the center, but at that point I couldn't decide if I wanted to make a pillow or a table mat (pumpkin pie season is nigh, after all!). The Facebook consensus was pillow, and my friend Liz suggested a braid-edged box-edged cushion...challenge accepted.

Simple radiating quilting inside the wedge seams.
I had the perfect coordinating shade of maroon cord for the corners so after I did a little quilting on the top I basted the cord along the edges of the circle.
Cord basted along the edges 
I fused some DecoBond to a nice coordinating stripe for the back and basted more cording along those edges. I was operating without a specific pattern or tutorial, so I'm not sure if this is the most elegant way to make a side panel, but I started by edging a 20" zipper with some of the same fabric that the wedges were cut from. I then added length with the rest of that same stripe. (Geometry review: Circumference = Pi x Diameter.)
Zipper for the side panel
Many pins were pressed into service when it was time to stitch the side panel to the top. Many, many pins.
Pinning the side panel on
There must surely be a more elegant way to stitch such a seam, but my wrangling did the trick in the end, and I was very encouraged by how the first seam looked.
Side attached to the top panel -- halfway there....
Stitching the bottom on was a little anticlimactic (if you try this at home, don't forget to unzip the zipper before finishing the second seam) and the finished cushion came out terrific!
Finished cushion, fig in the background

Back of cushion

Zipper for cover removal
Pi cushion

Pi cushion, approx. 17.5" x 3"

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Dimensional Pyramid

My art group decided to make something dimensional for the September meeting. I have literally hundreds of ideas of things that I want to assemble...for now, I made a simple project to try out some different construction techniques. (I learned, for example, that ladder stitch is far superior to whip stitch if you don't want to see thread in the finished seam.) I have some small triangles cut from DecoFuse to try some smaller polyhedra in the future, but sometimes quite a bit of time passes between idea and execution.

This pyramid is made from four 9" pieces of very stiff double-fuse interfacing (Fast2Fuse? I don't have a label anymore). I adhered the pieced triangles to the separate triangles, wrapped the edges around, completed the decorative quilting and embellishing, then hand-sewed the pieces together. Each face is quilted or embellished differently, and each point of the pyramid has matching fabrics on all three faces.
Paper-pieced hexagons appliqued onto Side One
Free-motion flower on Side Two
Spiral in metallic thread on Side Three
Isometric grid of beads on Side Four
View from above

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Neon Brights

Neon! What else is there to say? Just looking at it makes me want to find some jelly shoes (ouch) and big dangly earrings. I love this quilt so much, and I am so pleased that it will soon be on its way to brighten the nursery of a fresh new baby girl!

  • Pattern: Oklahoma, by Villa Rosa Designs
  • Finished size: 45 x 57"
  • Quilting: freehand free-motion posies in Superior Threads Rainbows, variegated Neons colorway, used on top and in the bobbin
  • Eye-popping Factor: 11

Neon delight!
Stitching detail of neon quilt
Back of the neon quilt. I couldn't believe I found a fabric with neon polka dots on soft brown

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Quilting lessons: Young protégé #3

A few months ago, a young friend asked me to help her make a quilt. I like to use the Cloud Nine pattern as a first quilt for a couple of reasons. First, it's very easy and fast to make. Second, the pieces are big enough to use some great large-scale prints. Third, it's forgiving. If a seam or two goes off by a few threads, it all comes out in the end. We went to Quilting by the Yard to pick out fabrics, and she was unerring in her preferences. She found every one of the prints in a single line, even though they weren't arranged together on the shelf. (I can't find a selvage strip, so I can't remember what the line was called. ...Edited to clarify: the line is "13 going on 30" by Maywood Studios, very chic and bold!) She chose a pretty sky blue as her background neutral.

We got all the fabrics pressed and cut in an afternoon. She had already done a few small sewing projects in her 4H club, so she was pretty familiar with basic machine operation. We had to figure out how to set her up with a nice 1/4" seam, and she got the hang of it right away. It took one or two short sessions to get the blocks assembled, then she sewed one entire row together. But then the project went into a box, as projects so often do, and waited...until finally last week we managed to get together at her house one evening and she got two more full rows done. This afternoon she came to my house and worked straight through 95+° heat to get the whole top finished!!

Next, she's on the hunt for some fabric to use on the back and we'll get together to baste the layers.

Diligently working in the summer heat
A finished top!!

Monday, June 22, 2015

Cephalopod Transfers

In honor of Cephalopod Week, I have been experimenting with some different transfer methods, featuring old scientific illustrations of various Cephalopoda. Lots more to do over the coming months.
The first attempt with gel medium came out well, and has a lot of potential to become an interesting finished piece.

The Citrasolv technique was more ghosted, but I already have some ideas for using it.