Tuesday, October 30, 2012

One stitch at a time

Do you hand quilt? Most of my projects are machine quilted. Manageable sized ones I try to do myself, big ones go off to my trusty long arm quilter. But I like to have one hand quilting project going so I have it to work on when the impulse strikes. Those impulses used to be never, then gradually, maybe because I'm getting older, I'm finding it more enjoyable and I seem to have the patience I didn't previously have. It always seems like a big race to finish a project and move on the next one. But I have to say that the quilts I have quilted by hand are really high up on my list of favorites. Especially when it comes to cuddling up under one for a nap!

While I think of hand quilting as the "traditional" version of our craft, of course I can't leave well enough alone. Bigger, brighter, and bolder apparently extend past my choices in fabric and design. I have tried over the last couple of projects to get my stitches ever-so-small and close together. I have taken classes and tried special thimble techniques. To no avail. My stubborn inner quilt diva, naturally gravitates toward this bigger, chunkier style of stitching. This project seems o.k. with it. I think the stitches are bold enough to stand up to the fabric choices. I also really like using Perle 8 cotton thread instead of finer quilting thread. It adds a dimension and weightiness to the project that I like.
So I've given up the fight and decided to accept my natural rhythm of big, bold stitches and be o.k.with it. I won't be winning any hand quilting contests anytime soon but I'm sure there's a good nap in my future!

Happy Stitching,


Sunday, October 14, 2012

Out of the Box with Judy Irish

I recently had the opportunity to take a really great workshop from Judy Irish. She's an amazingly creative quiltmaker and a long-arm quilter extrordinaire. Namedrop alert...she quilts for Kaffe Fassett and Liza Prior Lucy for all of their books! Kaffe and Liza are the top of my fabric craziness pyramid and I LOVE their work. I have done several of their quilts and I have a serious fabric addiction when it comes to anything "Kaffe."

It was more like a triple workshop since Judy managed to teach three different workshops at the same time! Woven quilts/collage, her lonestar method and free motion quilting. She also did a trunk show and shared many of her beautiful quilts. We also got the chance to pump her for lots of good Kaffe insider-stories. His new autobiography "Dreaming in Colour" is on my Christmas list!

I chose to focus on the woven quilts, something I had never done before and it turned out to be great fun. Really a stretch for me since I would never venture to consider myself an art-quilter, by any means. Here was my end result with the collage and free motion quilting completed.

Here's the woven piece before starting the collage layer.

It was really a very fun and surpisingly do-able technique. My head is already swimming with ideas for others. Maybe more valuable than the techniques learned, was the encouragement to stretch and create and to have fun while doing it. Thank you Judy!

Happy stitching,


Sunday, October 7, 2012

Back in the Red & White saddle

I just spent a beautiful and productive day in my sewing room. It was so long in coming. August was a fun summer blur and then September came and went in a back-to-school frenzy. I haven't been able to squeeze in a solid two hours of sewing time and I needed it!

No better way to get back in the saddle than diving into my monster red & white project. Here is some of today's piecing progress:

This is a project called Just Takes 2 put together by Sentimental Stitches and Dear Jane in honor of the fabulous Infinite Variety: Three Centuries of Red & White Quilts exhibit held in New York City last year. Two color quilts are eternally popular and this project pulls blocks from all of the quilts in the Red & White exhibit into a HUGE sampler. It's basically a block-of-the-month project on steroids. I decided to stick to the red and use different shirting fabrics for my backgrounds.

Someone thought this was a good idea in January (Tracey!) and red is my favorite color so it seemed like a good idea at the time. Well, 75 blocks into it (I think I'm behind by about 20 at this point) and still three more months to go! I can't even begin to think how I'm going to quilt this sucker. I'm just trying to make it to the finish!

One of the great things about this project is that it has made me appreciate more than ever the skills of quilters past. RESPECT! I mean, no rotary cutters, no Omnigrid rulers, no Ibuprofen, etc., etc. There's everything in this project from hand piecing, to applique, to regular piecing, to a never-ending amount of paper piecing. Tons of blocks that I have never even heard of, let alone tried before. Good learning experience!

The real test will be if red is still my favorite color by the end of this project!

Happy stitching,