Last Quilt of the Year!

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When I last wrote, I vowed to clean up the studio. I did start that. I made one last Artful Oven Mitt, and then I put away all those scraps and insulbright. And I started to clear off the Janome table. And I came to this quilt, that had been folded up on the back of the table for….maybe a couple of years! I know I had the idea to make it after Victoria Findlay Wolfe won Best in Show at Quiltcon with her double wedding ring quilt. I found a date of 2012 for that quilt, so maybe I started this one in 2013.

ANYWAY, it has sat there for a while. I knew it was there, but I thought I was stuck on how to quilt parts of it. When I unfolded it, I found that I had made that decision at some point in time, and all it needed was to continue on quilting that design to get it finished. This is what I was enjoying on the Juki when I first got it–finishing up old tops and half-finished quilts!

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This is one of my zig zag wedding ring quilts. I really do enjoy making these. They seem to hold up very well in the wash. You can see where I thought I was being artful and incorporated some decorator big print fabric in there. And I carefully organized the colors for the background squares and the small squares for the rings. I’m not sure any more what exactly I was thinking of…

ANYWAY, when I finished it and threw it on my bed to see if I had missed any spots, I was pleasantly surprised. I really like this quilt, and will keep it for myself for a nice springtime quilt.

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I think it shrank quite a bit when I washed it, because most of the background fabric was some loosely woven hand dyed fabric. That caused the small “ring” squares to poof up bit more than usual.

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I decided to not do an end-of-the-year review. Just too much work. I know that I have worked consistently, and am content with what I have produced. The Hallelujah! quilt took the majority of the time, but I also finished up the “what they said” series. And I did make a serious dent in the large bin of unfinished tops.

Happy New Year to one and all! Be sure to make time for quilting and creating in the new year.

Busy Busy

I have been busy busy busy. Finishing and quilting and embroidering and starting. Here’s what part of the studio really looks like.

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I actually finished all eighteen of the “what they said” series. I will do a slide show for you soon. But I have a question. Five of them had some of the hand-dyed threads on them, and the thread colors ran. I put Shout on them, and then I ran them through the washer with a “color catcher.” Some of the offending color came out, but not all of it. Do any of you have any other ideas? Have you tried applying color-safe bleach with a Q-tip to the dye stains?

Anyway, I am very happy to have completed them. My plan is to mount them on cradled wood panels. So that part is not done. I will order some this week, to make sure my idea will work, and then I will order the rest of them.

That left the Juki free. And so I got out two almost-finished quilts. I placed the lettering on one, and then, because I had used a “brick” design on some of the ‘what they said’ quilts, that was exactly what I had been wanting to do for the quilt nearest the Juki. The verse on there refers to a crossroads. I finished quilting that today. Only needs to have a binding on it. and a sleeve ūüė¶

By the way, I love the Juki more than ever. I love how very accurate  each stitch is. It is easy for me to exactly stitch over a line of stitching to get to the next area I need to work on.

You can see some of the panels for the Hallelujah Chorus quilt perched over there on the chair. I have almost finished the panels and the four large embroidered circles, and so this week I should be able to put the panels together into a quilt top. And then I will have to decide what the next step is. More embroidery, or machine quilting. Any which way, I am very excited to get to this next stage of the project.

I entered four quilts in Quilting in the Garden, and they were accepted. This is such a nice event, and of course, I LOVE the nursery where it is held. I am planning to take my mom to it this year, and thought it would be fun for her to see some of my quilts hanging.

And then, about that “thinkie” project. I spent a little time on it. I traced the photo on my 1/4 inch graph paper, and then went to the copy store and enlarged it 400%, which made it a 10 inch finished block. Then I spent some time drawing a pattern for it.

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And made one block.

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I don’t like it. I can see that the embroidery makes a tremendous difference in the appearance of the block, and choice of fabrics also is important. Anyway, I might try again, using some of my reproduction fabrics. I also drew a different design, and I am interested in trying that also…

I made the pattern because Kris had suggested that it might be a fun group project. I don’t think that’s gonna happen, but if any of you are interested in the pattern, you can email me (schnabel@volcano.net), and I will be glad to email¬†you a copy¬†of it.

So that’s about it for now. I started working on the rug of Noah again, and I occasionally knit or work on my Kantha blanket, just to get a little color in my life. I have more ideas for some fun color-work blocks, but they are still in the thinkie stage today ūüôā

Sometimes the Thinkie Part is the Best Part

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Once again I have noticed this quilt block that I saved on my desktop.

I am mesmerized by it. From a quilt made in the 1870’s. I think it would be so fun to make with my zig zag technique. To say nothing of the massive amount of embroidery on it! I don’t want to do that kind of embroidery, but it is definitely a big part of the design concept and the success of the overall design.

I want to go directly to the studio and start cutting out fabric. I even have a collection of fabric that I think would be fabulous for it.

Plus, look! Every block on the entire quilt is using different fabrics and colors. You know how I like that.

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But I am in the midst of quite a few projects right now. Some of them are very near completion, and I just have avoided the final bit of work needed to finish them.

And, I don’t even want to say it out loud, but the studio needs a massive cleaning out before I mess it up with yet another project.

All this sometimes makes me frustrated. But then I remind myself that part of the fun of a new project is the time spent thinking and refining a plan. Adding this and that, taking away something that doesn’t work as well.

So for now, I will keep this project in the thinkie stage, and remember to enjoy that ūüôā

ZIG ZAG!!!

You all know about my zig zag love, right? Actually, I find my love of the zig zag stitch somewhat puzzling. To me it is a little like garter stitch in knitting. Both stitches seemed somewhat utilitarian and common to me, nothing that a “real” artist would use. Now both stitches are one of my favorites. I like the idea of taking what is common and easily accessible and making something beautiful out of it. Plus, you know. Zig zag just makes a lot of things easier ūüôā

So one day last week I was looking through some quilting blogs, and someone somewhere mentioned this artist that “makes something out of nothing,” using paper and extensive zig zag stitching!

In re-reading this article, I noticed this quote by the artist, Donna Rhae Marder. I find it comforting that others feel the same way I do about some aspects of creating art.

Marder comments, however, that, “tediousness becomes the most challenging aspect of my work. ¬†Sometimes I spread the work of a piece over years so I can stand it. ¬†I also listen to a lot of music and many books on CD. ¬†I periodically think about getting someone else to do the repetitive part of my work and then I stumble over something while working that I can use to make the piece more interesting‚Ķ”

Donna’s work just lit up my mind. I wasn’t interested in working with paper. But fabric? This was a new way of using the zig zag than I have done previously. The next morning I headed into the studio to experiment.

It just so happens I have a “few” fabric scraps pre-cut into two inch squares. These would be just perfect, I decided. I wanted to work small.

Here’s what I came up with.

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It was very fun sewing the pieces together with the zig zag stitch. Its not quick. But in my mind, there are so many possibilities for this. I am looking forward to exploring this technique more in the future.

P.S. This mornings explorations:

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Join Me for a Quilt Show Marathon?

Gather some handwork, and get the popcorn ready! Its time for a Quilt Show marathon! This weekend you can watch every single show on The Quilt Show for free! I have had a busy week, and have gotten some major tasks accomplished. I decided to reward myself with a marathon of Quilt Shows tomorrow. I’ve even planned out my menu for the day so I can have extra popcorn and still stay within my normal calorie allotment!

In case you look at the long list of shows, and are overwhelmed by all the choices, I thought I’d share a few that I thought were extra special, and a few that I am planning to check out myself.

 

  • Show 106–Denise Labadie, on Ireland. This show is from their very first season, and I do remember being very impressed by Denise’s work. I am looking forward to checking it out again.
  • Show 408–Alex Anderson on Neutral Quilts. I have a large collection of neutrals, and I would like to make a neutral quilt. This might give me a jumping off point.
  • Shows 112, and 513–The incomparable Libby Lehman. If you can only watch one, watch 513, where she is awarded the Quilt Legend award.
  • Show 508–Paula Nadelstern at The American Folk Art Museum.
  • Shows 313 and 601–Jinny Beyer on Handpiecing, and also being awarded the Quilt Legend award.
  • Show 711–Rosalie Dace, and there are also segments with Jennifer Chiavarini (the author) and Michael Cummings, which I enjoyed very much.
  • Show 1102–Luke Haynes, an extraordinary quilt artist.
  • Show 1308–Caryl Bryer-Fallert-Gentry. Say no more, right?
  • Show 1301–Jean Wells–I love the direction her work has taken, and this show features that.
  • Show 1501–Jane Dunnewald. She is an excellent teacher.
  • And Show 1512–Debby Schnabel. Just in case you haven’t seen it yet ūüôā ¬†I also really love the segment on this show with Laurie Hill Gibb, who took a trip around the country in a camper, something I have wanted to do since I was a kid!

Once you are signed in to The Quilt Show, just go to the page with the Show List. From there it is easy to look through the choices of quilt artists, and click on the series, and then the specific show you want to watch.

And just because I haven’t shared any pictures for a while, I will show you an idea for using a smaller quilt as a bed quilt. Most of the quilts I make are not large enough to be considered bed quilts. But I enjoy using them on my bed. I found a bed-sized white quilt at Home Goods, well made and quite reasonably priced, and I use it on the bed, with the smaller quilt as a “topper.” I really like using my quilts this way.

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Have a super terrific, quilt-filled weekend!

 

A Do-Over

 

Remember this quilt that I started way back when? And then I got the top put together here? I mentioned in that post that I was considering adding perle cotton embroidery to the ovals. And sure enough, I did do that.

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I thoroughly enjoyed just adding my simple random embroidery to those pieces.

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But after I had finished six of them, I still didn’t like the way it looked. I tried again, using only the running stitch, and connecting the ovals. Nope, I didn’t like that either.

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So I took all that embroidery out. And then I tried to figure out what I was going to do with this quilt. It was on the wall when I took out some little oval pieces to play with on a different quilt top. When I do my zig zag appliqué, I often cut the back out carefully and keep those pieces for a future project. So these were the leftover pieces from this particular quilt. And I thought, Hey…..

So I tried putting these ovals on top of the other ovals. And I liked it!

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Since the quilt sandwich had already been made and partially quilted, these motifs were zigzagged through all three layers of the quilt. I finished it with some “scribble circle” quilting.

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P.S. I realize that those pieces are not “ovals.” But I don’t know what to call them. My BF says it looks like a Fleur de Lis now. I think that name will stick!

Taking a Break and Returning to your Work

This is not the first time I have declared a moratorium on my quilting. In the past, it caused me some angst–would I ever return to my quilting? Would I lose my forward momentum? How would I ever get to all the ideas I had if I kept taking breaks? Now I think that it is an excellent idea. It really frees up a lot of time, and I usually get more done than I had even planned on. In this case, it was finishing my little oriental hooked rug, and I had the added bonus of having the time to clear out my bedroom and closet, as well as the unexpected (and time-consuming) project of choosing paint and carpet colors!

Here is a bit of the new bedroom colors, along with the quilt that is currently on my bed. Good grief, I did not even realize until I saw this picture that the color I was trying to get for the walls was the EXACT SAME COLOR as the inner border of this quilt!!

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I returned from my adventures at rug hooking camp refreshed and looking forward to resuming my quilting routine. I left a lot of quilt projects unfinished, and I had a lot of new ideas I wanted to try out. Being a little bit disciplined won out, and I started working one by one on the unfinished projects.

First up, I finished piecing together the dark blocks for the cross insert in this quilt. ¬†I decided to cut the cross with a wavy edge, and then decided that it would be easiest to raw edge appliqu√© (zig zag) this on top of the background piece. I liked the way it looked with the cross way off center. I will add words, but I’m not sure how I want to do that yet. I’ve already made the quilt sandwich and have all of the cross quilted.

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Here’s a close-up of the cross “fabric.” It is fun to do this, but also slow going, so by the time I have enough for a project, all the fun has gone out of it and I am ready to move on to the next project : )

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Then I remembered that I had this quilt in the closet, almost completed. I got it out, marked the places where I had missed the quilting, and got that done. It just needs binding to be completely completed. This is a quilt that I started in an Alex Anderson workshop on stars. I had this background fabric (that obviously I love,) and wanted to use it as my focus fabric. Its big enough to use on my bed. Hmmm…seems I do have a coral and aqua obsession going on here.

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I quilted the stars “in the ditch” and then filled in the background with huge feathers surrounded by spirals and bubbles.

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And this next project I can hardly believe myself that I got this done. I do not like working on large quilts. I do not like making big quilt sandwiches. But once in a while I make a quilt that just insists on being big. That is the case with that double wedding ring that I was working on before the moratorium. I really do like this quilt, and so I decided that I must make the sandwich. And I have to tell you, I LOVE my big ironing surface!!! It was big enough that I could use my “steam iron method” to make this sandwich in four quarters.

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I took this picture to show the ruler that I slip between the ironing surface and the quilt sandwich so that I can put the pins in. When I steam the quilt top like this I do not need to put very many pins in place. I usually take the sandwich directly to the machine and either machine baste it together or stitch in the ditch between the blocks.

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Oh, and in the measure twice, cut once department‚ĶDON’T do the math in your head. Write all the numbers down, and probably don’t do it when you are already tired. I was VERY SURE that I had made everything plenty big. I started making the sandwich, and the backing was only an¬†inch and a half larger than the top on two sides¬†of the quilt. That is cutting it a little too close, even for me.

It feels good to be home, good to be back working in my studio on my quilts, and very good to be back blogging about my adventures!

 

Where I Been, What I Been Doing

Wow, I knew it had been a while since I posted, but a whole month?? My lack of posting has not been an indicator of lack of work or creativity in my life!

I finished that “quilt kit” that I told you about. I’m not sure my zig zag technique saves any time over sewing all the pieces of a traditional double wedding ring together, but I still enjoy it very much. I followed my sketch exactly, so there was no time spent rearranging on the design wall.

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And then I finished the smaller quilt top that I had blogged about in my “Process” post.¬†¬†This was fun to do. I spent a lot of time figuring out which fabrics to use for the background. And the motifs were shapes suggested by my sketch for the previous quilt. They were free-hand cut and then zig-zagged in place. Making them one piece (instead of 12 squares) made that go a lot faster. I am considering doing some perle cotton embroidery on them.

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And then, I liked some of the background fabrics I had auditioned for the previous quilt so much that I made them into a top of their own. I am going to cross-cut this quilt top and insert a cross for “The Signature of Jesus” series. I could not find a dark fabric that I liked for the cross, so I am in the process of “making” some fabric for the cross. Very fun to do, but time consuming.

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Oh, and somewhere in between all of that, I volunteered to work on a project for SAQA (Studio Art Quilt Associates.) This is for a “take and make” to encourage the public to make art of their own. I cut out LOTS of little pieces of fabric, and hemmed a bunch of blanks. And then I made some little samples. These are all made of bits and pieces of designer fabrics that we got at a place called FabMo in the bay area. The samples were very fun to make. No quilting involved.

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And THEN, I realized that it was only two weeks until my annual trek to rug hooking camp in Cambria! I enjoy this so very much (the trip AND rug hooking) but I do tend to put rug hooking on the back burner for months at a time. When I realized that it was so close, I put a moratorium on quilting and got to organizing my rug hooking materials. This is pretty much my entire rug hooking stash : ) (I have more, but it is all found material–suits and stuff from the thrift store. The rug I am planning on doing is going to be fairly colorful.)

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I realized that I didn’t have enough pale wool, so I had a little dying session. Very fun. But again, time consuming.

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And pretty much all the time that I would spend quilting or knitting I have spent working on this little “Persian” rug that I started in my workshop last fall. I don’t think I”ll finish it in time for camp, but I am very much enjoying working on it.

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And in between all of that, I have been gardening, and clearing out my bedroom in anticipation of J. the Contractor coming to work on my bedroom and closet while I am away.

Ahhh. So now we’re all caught up. I’ll be back in a week or so with a report on all the happenings at rug hooking camp!

 

On the Way to Organization

While emptying out my grandpa’s cupboard (where I keep the majority of my stash,) I came across a pile of squares and circles.

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“Grandpa’s cupboard”

The squares were left over from the recent baby quilt I made for a niece, and the circles were from an abandoned project (I think.) I also save the circles that I cut out of the background fabric when I zig zag circles on top.

(back of quilt top, showing the circles trimmed out.)

(back of quilt top, showing the circles trimmed out.)

Anyway, they were right near the leftovers of a cute print that I had used for the back of my niece’s baby quilt. Hmmm. I wonder if I could make something out of these? I have another niece who is pregnant, so need to be fair and make her a quilt too. And wouldn’t it be fun for these baby cousins to have similar (but different!) quilts.

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This project was so fun. I sewed the squares into four patches. I cut rectangles from the print to add to the four patches. There was just enough of the print to cut out two squares the size of the four patches. And two four patches that did not have the print added to them. Then I started zig zagging the circles on top. As I cut the back out of the circles (to minimize bulk,) I saved those circles to be used in other squares.

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After all the pieces had enough circles attached, I figured out how I could fit these squares and rectangles together evenly, and sewed them into strips, and then joined the strips into a small quilt top. I refused to put it on the design wall–just joined them together as they looked good on the sewing table. I love the way it looks. Its only 36″ square, so I plan to get some solids that match and cut 2 1/2″ strips to add borders all around. And of course, I still have a few circles to add to the borders. I will say that zig zagging pieces is a lot easier when you are just adding them to a block instead of a whole quilt top.

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Studio update: I have windows! And the huge organization/purge continues. I filled 6 grocery sacks with good fabric to give to my crafty sister and nieces! Don’t worry, I have plenty of fabric left for my own use…

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Playing with Squares and Zig Zag

Some of you might know my penchant for working with little squares (two inch squares, to be exact,)¬†and also my fascination with the zig zag stitch.¬†I just think its fun to position the squares on a background fabric and zig zag them down, instead of actually piecing a block. Yes, there are raw edges. But I think it works. I have one quilt that I have used as a bed quilt and have washed quite a bit, and the zig zag’d squares are as stable as any pieced quilt I have.

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So anyway, I started daydreaming about the little squares and the zig zag technique, and the next thing I knew, I was zig zagging little squares in a grid on some neutral background fabrics.

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Close-up of the zig zag edge:

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After I worked on them for a while (thoroughly enjoying the process) I put them up on the design wall, to see if they were “worthy.” At first, I thought, no, not quite what I was looking for. But they are growing on me. I’ll probably do a few more today to see how I like them. This will end up being a bigger quilt if I continue on with these.

Here is another quilt I did with the squares and the zig zag stitch:

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And a close-up of how I quilted the zig zag’d squares:

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I am working on a lot of projects right now. Some of them are gifts, so I will share those at a later date. And some of them are just in process. I’ll share more as I progress.