31 March 2012

PMQG-Michael Miller Block Challenge

After a thoroughly informative and inspiring visit from Kathy Miller, co-founder of Michael Miller Fabrics, during our February Portland Modern Quilt Guild meeting each of the guild members was generously supplied with 8 fat eighths of their new line of Cotton Couture Solids. Now, one could treat this as a lovely gift, no strings attached, but the real gift in it is actually a design challenge. Any member who chooses (and there have already been a few, uploading photos to the PMQG flickr page) is invited to design a 15"x18" pieced block using the cotton couture fabrics with which we were supplied and Kathy Miller will select about 16 blocks to be included in a quilt that Michael Miller will feature in their booth at Spring Quilt Market in May 2012.

I should have prefaced this post by saying that I found out this week that I did not have a quilt chosen to be part of the MQG Showcase at Fall Market in Houston this year. And so it goes. However, this information was a bit disheartening (although not at all surprising!) and at the same time is forcing me to endeavor that much more to make an impact. But I don't know quite how to do that.

So, I've been sketching in the ol' sketchbook, and translated a few of the more promising designs into EQ7 so that I could play with the colors. The ones I keep going back to so far are these:
(a variation on my "dorm room cots" pattern that I've been drafting)

(a new design)

(a mock-up of an improv block)

I went ahead and pieced a block, which I think turned out well, but not sure that it's a "challenge winner" (especially after seeing the blocks showing up in the group pool).
so, being the person I am, I'll be making one or two or four more blocks, over-thinking all the way, and have NO IDEA what they're actually looking for, and likely miss the mark.

Is this what it's all about??

25 March 2012

impromptu improv

At our last PMQG meeting, Michelle of Design Camp PDX gave a fabulous talk and demonstration on improv piecing, inspired by a class she attended with Denyse Schmidt and projects she's pursued since then.

One of the visual examples she brought to the meeting were blocks constructed by members of the guild at a sew-in exercise a month or two prior.

Not having been at the sew-in when these guys were originally made, at the end of the meeting I volunteered to "inherit" the blocks in order to piece them together into a quilt top that will then be quilted by Nancy of Just Quilting, and donated to the guild's chosen March charity organization, Quilts of Valor.

They have now been up on my design wall for the better part of the week, and I still have not approached them. For various reasons, mind you, but I KNOW that when I take them down and set my scrap baskets by me it will be hours of madness! I think the good kind of madness, not angry or frustrated, but madness nonetheless. I've been needing some clean finishes first, I think. And thankfully, I currently have 3 small binding projects at home with me for the next few days, then I might be ready to dive into the scraps!

21 March 2012

WIP Wednesday - it's been a whirlwind!

I seem to have missed last week's check-in and link up over at Lee's blog, Freshly Pieced... which means this entry might be a bit on the long side of things. That's good, right?? So, after checking out my doings, head on over there and see what everyone else is up to on this WIP Wed!
WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

So, let's start with:
Bee Blocks
do. Good Stitches - Bliss Circle
fun pinks and oranges in Drunk Love log cabin blocks were Amanda's choice.

Design Camp [think outside the block] swap
Can't help but LOVE the fabrics that Yolanda is using for her quilt! Gorgeous, rich tans and taupes, even a linen and crossweave thrown in there for depth and texture.

Flannel throw quilt
I still have some fabric substitutions to work in, but might start snuggling under this thing right around May or June, just in time for temps in the 70s!

New block designs for PMQG/Michael Miller challenge AND MQG Quiltcon block challenges
The colors AND rules for these challenges are surprisingly similar, though I have been playing with a few different designs, thanks to EQ7!
one consideration...

do. Good Stitches November Bliss quilt.

One more quilt top off the pile of "unquilted"
Okay, so it's just a little wall hanging, and it still needs the binding on it, but it's been quilted and will be finished by tomorrow evening - that's a PROMISE!

Some Progress
Finished piecing the cream/blue/mustard/tan 60/30° quilt top (I'm REALLY going to have to come up with a better name for that! Any suggestions??)

Curved-piecing aqua/green
I decided to sash these blocks (obviously)... which I made using the same technique that I used in my Tangerine & Wine quilt. But now I think it also needs a border... so stay tuned! I have two possibilities just waiting for the next load of laundry to run!

"Black Beauty" Medallion quilt
another project from the UFO vault!

And now for the No Progress list:
Purple/Green Asian sampler
Seams Perfect Sampler
Batik Warm/Cool QAL
Lee & Glenn's quilt
red/brown/green I-Spy
girly hourglass
Judy Neimeyer double wedding ring
broken dishes
Trip Around the 9-Patch
Halloween Stack 'n Whack
leftover I-spys from Hopman quilt
tote bags
blue/green place mats

This week's tally:
New - 4 or 5 (depending on how one views the quilt block design projects)
Completed - 4 (2 are bee blocks)
In Progress - 15
Unquilted Tops - 14(?) (I'm never actually at my studio when I write this list... also, it's occurred to me that I don't include the quilts that I started HAND quilting but have set aside indefinitely. Oof)

18 March 2012

Winner of My First Giveaway Announced!

After a visit (and long perusal of the website) to Random.org we have an official winner! According to the Random Number Generator, out of a whopping 44 entries (thank you all!!) the winner is Lucky #13!

Quilter in the Gap: Mar 13, 2012 08:59 AM
My spring ritual is to redo the flowers, prepare the garden and to clean the house. I don't love all the stuff but when it is done it so worth it. Thanks for a great giveaway!

Congratulations Rhonda, and be looking for a texty jelly roll headed your way soon! And I want to thank everyone who left comments for me! I was so thrilled to hear everyone's plans. It looks like there will be a lot of gardening and window cleaning going on in the next couple of months for us northern-hemispherers!

Have a wonderful week and keep looking for more fun stuff going on in the weeks to come!
All the best,

17 March 2012

Revisiting the art of fabric selection

I wish I could say that the title of this post offers any instructive tips. Perhaps one of these days I'll play around with that concept, but today this refers only to a specific journey.

In this mad dash to tear through my UFOs, I've come across a project which is proving quite a challenge!

I think I have gotten accustomed to working from my own designs, relatively simple at that, and allowing my fabric selections to dictate the piecing of the quilt. A couple of years ago I came across one of the patterns in this book, "focus on florals" by Terry Martin. The quilt pattern entitled "Black Beauty" is a medallion quilt that incorporates a blended print technique for absolutely gorgeous, subtle transitions from one section to the next. But using those techniques and working from a rather precise pattern is something I have not tried in quite a while!

When I first abandoned this project I had only the center block together. So I have had to pick up from there.

And I had a very timely run-in the other day with a local fabric sales rep. with whom I have become acquainted over the years of being employed at quilt shops in the area. This man is the epitome of the old-school gentleman sales guy who knows his community, knows his customers and conducts business in the most positive way - no hard sells, pressure or baiting. Great guy! Oh, and has the gift of a good memory, which I am sure also influences his ability at his job. In a short chat he asked if I am still working with Kaffe fabrics, and it made me think... about this quilt I've recently unearthed. I am focusing on the Rowan family of fabrics, though in a couple of places have thrown in another manufacturer. I think that one of the things that held me up initially was needing to order more of the dusty pink Kaffe Fassett Roman Glass fabric, which I KNEW had to be used in the next round. So I guess I knew where to pick up initially...

And honestly the first border divider jumped out at me as a MUST
(I've honestly been looking for the right way to use this stunning print!)

But from that point on it's been hard work! I do love the fabric auditioning process, but c'mon, this is just ridiculous!!

I think I spent at least two hours choosing just the right 4 fabrics for a round of rail fence blocks

which didn't actually get pieced until the following day. And then there was another hour or two AT LEAST to figure out which fabrics to use NEXT... trying to get the right amount of blendy but still make those prints pop.

Still feeling like I'm on the right track, but only time will tell!

And this puppy WILL take time, I can tell that already!

14 March 2012

do. Good FINALLY finished!

The journey started over 4 months ago. A request went out last fall for a substitute quilter in the Bliss circle of do. Good Stitches. I volunteered. I posted a tutorial with my inspiration, and blocks filtered in over the following 2 months.

until I could see where I needed to fill in...

But, it being me... well, I procrastinated on quilting it.

And took my own... sweet... time.

But, once the quilting happened, the rest was in the bag! (Okay, I still have yet to deal with a label for it!)

I'll certainly be happy to send this little guy in his way to the proper recipient, through Wrap Them in Love.

A Flannel Quilt - in time for Spring!

Okay, so my seasonal appropriateness might be a little off, but I just had to get started on that lovely stack of flannels!

Just going for a simple brick pattern throw, so I started by cutting the bricks.

And though they look gorgeous lined up like this, once I started playing with them on my design wall, I found that there was just WAY TOO MUCH going on. And for me to say that is something! I decided to edit out the blues, but then I was left with a pink quilt with accents of grey - and I am NOT a pink sort of gal. So then I took out the pink, and was left with, well, not much. And I feel like I've pretty much exhausted my flannel buying options in town (I refuse to go into the well-known large chain fabric store unless I'm looking for notions or something that my local quilt and sewing stores just don't carry). So I spent a bit more time arranging and rearranging the different combinations until I came up with something that made me happy:

As you can see there are still a few holes in there. I did manage to find something online that MIGHT work, so we'll have to wait until those 2 half-yards arrive to go further, but I think I'm onto something. Plus, I now have the start of another simple flannel quilt in the cooler tones to play with! Goody, this will be ready just in time for the season when I wish I had A/C in my house!

12 March 2012

My First Giveaway! Happy Spring!

Part of the reorganizing and cleaning frenzy is the purge (or at least it should be, though I often have to remind myself of that separately!). When I went through my sewing studio the other week, I didn't actually purge anything (okay, maybe a paper template or sketch here and there), but I found quite a few lovely things that have been hanging around for a while, things for which I may never find a proper use, so perhaps they should go to someone who can appreciate and use them.

And it may sound trite, but it does seem that "spring cleaning" is one of my usual rituals. Those who know me in person can attest to the fact that I am not the neatest of people. I surround myself with stuff, and am one of those who will fill up any horizontal surface available (and sadly, sometimes this includes the floor!). Therefore, it is crucial that I hit an overload point and dedicate some serious energy to straightening things up after the winter months of clutter!

So, it being March and with St. Patrick's Day around the corner, plus all of the fun photos I've been seeing of folks participating in the Sew Out Loud project and other text-based sewing projects, I thought I would start with this "Authentic" jelly roll from Sweetwater.

Just leave a comment below - and I would love it if you would share one of your spring rituals as well. The giveaway will be open until the end of the day Saturday March 17th (midnight Pacific Daylight Time). I'll announce the winner on Monday March 19th. I look forward to hearing what y'all have to say!!

Happy spring from Portland, Oregon!

(And please remember, if you are a no-reply blogger, check back here on Monday for the announcement)

11 March 2012

A Month of Drunk Love?

I think that most of us in the current Modern quilting world hear the phrase "drunk love" and rather than picturing a torrid bar scene or even a romantic dinner at a fancy white table cloth restaurant will automatically conjure images of bright, improv-style wonky log cabin blocks, inspired by modern quilting icon Denyse Schmidt.

And sure enough, that is what I'm talking about. This month not one, but TWO of the bees in which I'm participating have selected the DS drunk love block. No complaints here!

For Design Camp [think outside the block] Swap, Yolanda sent us a beautiful selection of tan and taupe neutrals with a snippet of a red and cream fabric to use. She did invite us to add bits from our own stashes, if they blended, and I couldn't resist taking her up on that. I hope she's not off-put by the bits of Rouenneries by French General.

(Oh, and that little bit of Lush woodgrain I found hiding in my scraps!)

This really is such a classy, beautiful palette, don't you think?? And she included some gorgeous fabrics, including a linen and a crossweave - I do love that crossweave!

And then for our circle of do. Good Stitches Amanda requested the same block design, but a completely different palette, and therefore look. Pinks and oranges. A color combination my stash is not currently lacking! And I loved the opportunity to pull almost entirely from the scrap baskets!!

So, though I don't see any more of these blocks in my immediate future, it's always fun to play in an intuitive way and see such effective results so quickly.

09 March 2012

FTLOS2 - complete!

The turnaround for this swap seems to have worked out perfectly in my world! I am just hitting the overlap between international and domestic shipping... keeping the pool of possible recipients open until the very last minute!

I had completed the main project a couple of weeks ago, which felt great, but had been waffling about what to include as the smaller item. I made these coasters, which was fun and I hope will be enjoyed, but wanted to make a little something that would be just for my swap partner, not necessarily her whole family. I decided to try my first pin cushion! I found this tutorial on Sew Craftalicious' blog, which seemed right up my alley! Relatively easy design and construction, but super cute! I went ahead and made one little amendment, using HSTs in the 4-patch blocks on both sides, which allowed me to throw in a couple more colors.

Thankfully, I happened to have a nearly full bag of polyfil hanging around from a short lived idea to try making little stuffed animals - yeah, that never came to much.

AND I don't have many buttons, but knew I'd enjoy using these guys when I found the right project for them! I am hoping that they make my partner smile, too!

So, this little pin cushion will be joined by the coasters and wall hanging, which I'm not sure if I've shown in its entirety since I quilted and bound it, so here are a few full shots and details with quilting.

(and I couldn't resist throwing in some shot cotton! Love how this stuff quilts up!!)