Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Guest Post: Tips for Combining Machine + Hand Quilting with Aurifil


Today I'm excited to share my newest orange peel quilt/passion project, Bouquet, with you, along with my entire process of quilting it! People are always asking me to explain how I decide to quilt something, so here's a chance to read more in depth. Plus, I wrote up 5 tips for quilting by machine and hand together and some more inspiration. I hope you enjoy the post, over on the Aurifil blog!

Thank you to Aurifil for sponsoring the threads for this quilt (below, the new Anna Maria Horner 12 weight collection). I absolutely loved hand quilting with them and I've already started using some on another hand quilting project!

Linking up to Needle and Thread Thursday, TGIFF, Crazy Mom Quilts.

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Thursday, September 7, 2017

"Starlight" - A Mini Quilt

This little quilt was a long time coming. So long, in fact, that it's been almost a year since the recipient was promised one - not for lack of making, but for lack of the perfect idea! My dear longtime blogging/quilting friend Yvonne of Quilting Jetgirl, somehow, became the random winner of my 6th Blogiversary Giveaway last year (look for a post about my 7th in the next couple of weeks!), and I promised her a custom mini quilt.

"Look at the stars, look how they shine for you" - from the song "Yellow" by Coldplay.

After she shared her likes (rainbow, approximate sizing, heavy quilting), the quilt sat on my mind for months. It's one thing to make someone a mini quilt and another thing entirely to make one for someone so special. It finally hit me a couple of months ago (Yvonne was very gracious as I took my time): I would make a quilt using lyrics from one of our shared favorite bands, Coldplay.

Once I decided on the lyrics (which took awhile - Coldplay rocks! - but I wanted something uplifting), the rest was a no-brainer. I enjoyed fussy-cutting the centers of several wonky stars and piecing them together even smaller than I'm used to (I love see it done, but don't  really enjoy small piecing myself). I used this tutorial from Jane's Fabric and Quilts to make 3" finished stars. For their final placement, I was heavily inspired by Renee's Ombre Stars quilt.

It always takes time to figure out how to quilt the words (and which fonts to use). Just like with the "Today I Feel" quilt, I marked lines with a hera marker and just went for it. I could certainly trace the letters and quilt over them, but what's life without a little risk? :) Quilting words with free motion is definitely one of my favorite things to do these days.

Then, I used Aurifil 2600 (Dove Gray) to quilt the stars, emphasizing their movement down the diagonal of the quilt. I quilted around the words in the same thread, but in straight lines (again to emphasize the middle), and at the last second decided to add some hand quilting. This ended up being my favorite part of the quilt.

I used some of my 12 weight Aurifil threads to quilt big stitches, purposefully leaving the tail ends for some flair (5022 Mustard, 2155 Cinnamon, 1125 Medium Teal, and 4662 Spotted variegated green). Thanks to Aurifil for letting me try these out (and I used them in a project for next week, too).

Yvonne says she loves the mini, and that's what I hoped for! This quilt wanted to stay here, but it's best in its new home. :) Plus... maybe more song quilts, sometime? Which lyrics would (or have you) made into a quilt?

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Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Recalibrating: Some Annoucements

Wow, did I need a break! One of my goals the last couple years has been teaching (and allowing) myself to relax. For as long as I can remember (high school?) I've been go, go, go. Even in the summer or on vacation, I'm not used to slowing down. Ha! This year, though, I had an extremely relaxing, exciting, and family-and-friend-filled summer. I'm grateful.

The online break brought me so much happiness. I've been hand-quilting, embroidering, making small projects for people (and NOT sharing much about it online! Gasp!), and reading a ton. As I mentioned on Instagram recently, I didn't mean to take a blogging break, but I did, and it felt good. Even though I have a list of topics I want to write about, writer's block came knocking at my door.

During my break, I made several important decisions.
  • I'll be blogging 1-2 times a week for the rest of the year, and I may skip a week here and there.
  • Don't worry, The Wonky Press newsletter will continue as scheduled: on the 1st and 15th of every month. The newsletter is a special format and place to interact with you, the community, and I absolutely love writing it! So if you want to hear the latest, the newsletter is the absolute best bet. You can subscribe here if you'd like to see it appear in your inbox (the most recent issue from last week, Issue #47, is right here).
  • I've changed up my workshop offerings for 2018 and added one whole new class! More of what I love, with the focus being brick-by-brick improvisation (my planned improv method), and free motion quilting. I'm also still giving lectures at quilt guilds and shows; so much excitement about my upcoming schedule and programs in the works! 
  • I'm considering teaching online classes at some point while also trying to figure out the best way to go about such an enormous task. Not sure when this will happen, but it's more on my mind than ever.
  • It's time to move on: I'm selling some quilts and samples, with plans to donate some of the proceeds to organizations of importance to me. More soon.
  • I'm not currently accepting more blog sponsors or affiliates, but I'm still happy to share opinions about products or companies that I admire in The Wonky Press (not paid, just my thoughts).
  • Again, in focusing on what I love most about quilting: I won't be designing patterns any longer, unless there's a really specific opportunity. This is not to say I won't host a quilt-a-long or block-of-the-month in the future, though. 

  • I'm taking a hiatus from applying for things, including magazine submissions and most quilt shows.
Some of you might be wondering where all this is coming from. I'm trying to focus more on the things that matter most to me and simplify. I've stretching myself too thin for too long. I'm excited to follow this path, teach, lecture, and MAKE a lot of things!

I hope you'll stick around, as I'm certainly not going away. I really value the blogging and quilting communities and the friendships I've forged here. Plus, I still love to write and share projects!

That being said, I have a couple of quilts and a compilation of links to share with you soon (one quilt coming up on Friday and one with a guest post next week), an announcement about my book, and five quilts to work on. Oh, and an audiobook to listen to!

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Thursday, August 10, 2017

Spin Cycle: A Finished Quilt

Sometimes, someone just really deserves a quilt. My friend Melissa certainly did this summer! She's one of my closest friends from college, and I'm so happy for her. She graduated with her PhD, became a college professor, and moved to a whole new apartment, all in a couple of months. And a new, modern apartment needs a quilt, don't you think? In fact, one of my very first quilts was made for her!

"Spin Cycle" is a homage to her graduate school's colors (Penn State). For some reason, I have more blue scraps than any other color, so I dove into that bucket first. After piecing together some panels using brick-by-brick improvisation, I made large half square triangles. 

Ironically, right before I started making this quilt, we had a guild meeting full of linen up for grabs. I scored several yards of a gorgeous navy, and after a nice prewash, it was absolutely perfect for this project. Sometimes, the universe just speaks, you know?

I played with several different layouts before laying the HSTs in a couple of rows, turned at unexpected points. Then, instead of densely quilting the triangles to death to life, the image of a spiral popped out. Quilting a spiral can be time-intensive, but after doing it many times at this point, it's almost second nature to me. I listened to a really great audiobook during this time (Lincoln in the Bardo), and, over a few days, the spiral emerged. That's what the quilt was named for, too!

Out of all my blue threads, Aurifil 2735 (Medium Blue) shone most against the linen, so that's what I chose. I'm really pleased with the crinkle from the dryer, which you can really see below!

For the back of the quilt, I pieced together several large cuts of fabric. Top: First of Infinity, which feels sleek like sateen; middle: the blue linen; bottom: Jumbo Plaid by Pepper Cory for Studio E Fabrics (I LOVE this fabric so much, I hesitated to use it - but what good is it sitting in my fabric stash?).


Finally, I bound the whole thing in one of the Me+You batiks by Hoffman Fabrics. I love the whimsy of this print! It was the perfect frame for the navy background.

Melissa loves the quilt; I totally surprised her! I had the opportunity to gift it to her in person last week (the best!!). I hope it brings her much joy in her new home. She even laughed and said she still uses the other quilt I made her (though I'm sure it's probably starting to fall apart; I didn't know much about quilting back then! I've come a lonnnng way).

Linking up to Crazy Mom Quilts, TGIFF, Needle and Thread Thursday.

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Monday, August 7, 2017

Quilt Ladder Transformation

Now that I've been quilting for 7 years, a certain number of quilts have amassed in my home. Some are class, lecture, and pattern samples, but the majority were simply experiments that brought me unimaginable joy. I might eventually pass on or sell some, but we all have certain quilts we'll hold onto forever (below are some of mine).

I've always coveted a quilt ladder - a tall structure that would allow me to exhibit several quilts at once in a decorative and pleasing way. Plus, it would free up some other quilt storage space. Since we moved into our new place, I've been hemming and hawing about storage, since we still have a few more boxes to bring in from my parent's house.

A couple weeks ago, my dear friend Jenelle (@jmontilone), who I'm lucky to see on a regular basis, texted to ask if I wanted a quilt ladder. Um, yes! This one was salvaged from a local site where a huge plant used to exist. It's even slightly wider at the bottom to accommodate larger quilts! Jenelle cut it down to my desired height (8 feet) and sold it to me for a fair price. We met for lunch and I stuffed the ladder into my car.

Over the next week, I cleaned it up. First, I sprayed it down, let it dry, and sanded it thoroughly to make sure it was easy to handle. No risk of snags, dirt, or splinters, please and thank you! All in all, I'm really pleased with the results. Then, after loading up on sunscreen, I gave it two coats of my mom's dark gray paint (she's known for painting, so she had some extra from another project). I could have easily left the ladder in its wooden state with splashes of white paint on it, but I wanted a more modern look for my home. Thanks, mom. :)

And now, it's in our living area, and I LOVE it (plus, it matches our steely blue-gray curtains and Alison-Glass-fabric-covered ottoman, which I hadn't even planned!). There are a lot of opportunities here. First, it freed up a little space elsewhere. I can used the ladder to display seasonal quilts and table runners. There's the opportunity to fold the quilts in special ways so as to highlight a favorite part (I tried that with the flowers above). Plus, if you walk into the room (if there was any doubt), you'll know that a proud quilter lives here. :) This was a recycling project gone right in my book!

Do you have a quilt ladder or stand? If not, where would you put one in your home?

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