Thursday, September 29, 2016

Star Light, Star Dark QAL: Winners and Parade of Quilts!

I've been leading a quilt-a-long or sew-a-long each summer for several years, and the Star Light, Star Dark QAL has been more successful than I ever could have imagined. So many of you experimented with color, alternate grids, contrast, and even free motion quilting! It's been positively THRILLING to see all of your versions come to life, via link ups, our Facebook group, and Instagram. Thank you so much for sharing your process with us and for joining me on this journey!

 Ablaze and Illuminate, my two versions of the quilt - both are in their forever homes now! It's so fun to finally see them side by side. I just love color... can't you tell?

Without further ado, here are the winners from the final link up, chosen by Random Number Generator. All winners have already been emailed. Congratulations!

Baby Quilt Top: Christina (#3)
2 PDF patterns (winner's choice) from Yvonne of Quilting Jet Girl + (1) PDF pattern from Myra of Busy Hands Quilts 

Finished Baby Quilt: Pat (#4)
$25 gift certificate to Sew Me a Song + (1) PDF pattern from Myra of Busy Hands Quilts 

Lap Quilt Top: Becca (#3)
Aurifil color card with 10 small spools - 50 weight thread collection (Minick and Simpson) + (1) PDF pattern from Myra of Busy Hands Quilts 

Finished Lap Quilt: Martina (#5)
$50 gift certificate to Fat Quarter Shop + (1) PDF pattern from Myra of Busy Hands Quilts 

Janelle (#4) 
Aurifil 12 large spool, 40 weight thread collection (Springtime Roses) + (1) PDF pattern from Myra of Busy Hands Quilts
Please join me in congratulating the winners and thanking our generous sponsors!


Quilt Parade

There were 25 finished tops and quilts overall, plus anyone else who is still working and/or didn't link up. That's a lot of modern star quilts! Congratulations on your accomplishments and thank you for the stunning eye candy!

Here are those that I have permission to share, and if they have blog posts, they are linked:

Aquila @aquilta on IG

Laura @llinkshwk on IG

Patty @The Crafting Saltbox (blog post)

KMTrott @Both Sides of the Pond (blog post)

Janelle (quilted by Jennifer Watson) (Google Doc blog post)

Danice @Homespun Hannah (blog post)

Lisa @Lisa In Port Hope (blog post)

 Kaylyn @kaylynowens on IG

Julie @quiltdivajulie on IG

Becca @Pretty Piney (blog post)

 Pat @peacockcreekdesigns on IG

Elizabeth @Elizabeth K Ray Quilts (blog post)

Ella @Throw A Wench In The Works (blog post) (she made TWO finished lap quilts!!)

 Sarah @Sarah Goer Quilts (blog post)

Yvonne @Quilting Jetgirl (blog post)

Debbie G. (a future Quilt of Valor)

Martina @Sunshine Quilting (blog post)

Christine (Flickr)


You can see all of the linked up quilts right here. Thank you so much for quilting along with me!! It's been so much fun.

I wonder - what are you looking for in a quilt-a-long? I'll take a break but I'd like to start something else up next spring or summer. I'm also coming up with some challenge ideas exclusively for the Facebook group. Thoughts?

Linking up to TGIFF, Crazy Mom Quilts, and Needle and Thread Thursday in celebration of all of your quilt finishes!

Quilt-A-Long Schedule

October 4: Winners announced << you are here!

Reminders: Final Star Light, Star Dark Linky Party!

Next week is a big week! On Monday night, October 3rd (EST), the final Quilt-A-Long linky party will close. On October 4, I will post the winners and a parade of finished tops and quilts! I hope readers will check out the linky party and see all the gorgeous talent on display already!

For Quilt-a-longers: 
  • You must enter your finished top OR finished quilt in THIS FINAL linky party to be eligible for prizes. I cannot fairly randomize the entries or accurately keep track of everyone's entries otherwise. You still have time to sew up your top or finish quilting!
  • If you want to be featured in the "Parade of Quilts" (tops and finished quilts) on Oct. 4, you must give me permission. You can comment here with a link or send me an email with a picture, even if you've already linked it up (this helps me stay organized since there are so many quilts). Thanks!!
As always, let me know if you have any questions!

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Sashiko Addiction: Orange Peel Pillow

Do you remember when you started quilting? The unbridled joy of finishing your first quilt? Stitching that last inch of binding and feeling like you'd conquered the world? Yup, that's how I feel all over again, because the sashiko embroidery bug has bitten me.

What is sashiko, you ask? It's a form of traditional Japanese hand-stitching that one traditionally practices on blue linen with white thread. This Purl Soho article gives a great overview and technique! I've never been much into handwork, but I've long craved a portable activity that doesn't include my machine. I cross-stitch once in a while, but it becomes a huge production (lots of floss colors, pattern, embroidery hoop, etc.), so I don't usually bring it anywhere.

 Various places I worked on this piece throughout the summer - Jersey Shore, Maine, and en route.

But sashiko is easy on my tiny hands (just a running stitch) and can have a gorgeous contrast. Also, you use a whole strand of thread (none of that pesky splitting apart), and the stitches are pre-marked, so there's no squinting for the next cross-stitch hole. I want my portable project to be as easy as possible, and there's something wonderful about a simple stitch.

The main lessons I learned from this first project are: 1. Keep stitches the same length as much as possible (if I so desire - and this was tough as a first timer) and 2. Never let them touch.

Originally, I chose the orange peel design because it's my favorite motif and my logo. It's quite easy to stitch the waves, and eventually the whole project comes to life. Susan Sato, who owns Easy Piecing (where I get all my supplies from - this not a sponsored post, just love her shop!), suggested that I stitch the outer border only when I'm done with the inside. It was like a long victory lap!

When I was done, the soft blue linen was just large enough for a small 12" pillow. I was super inspired by this photo from @cassandra.beaver of her recently finished pillow (I'm not even a huge fan of pink, but WOW, pink and navy!), so I decided to border the pillow with little precious scraps.

Then, in an effort to use up my precious Anna Maria Horner fabrics, I backed the pillow in echinacea (probably my second favorite print ever) and a small piece of Field Study that is now nonexistent in my stash.

This pillow is a happy, welcome sight in my sewing room whenever I walk in, and it's been used a couple of times, too. Plus, it reminds me to take a bit of time away from the computer and machine to work on my next bit of sashiko, which I picked up from Easy Piecing while at PNQE. More on that when I get a bit further! I think I've even decided to add a bit of a running stitch to my latest machine quilting project.

 So, have or will you try sashiko? I think I've convinced my friend Julie to give it a whirl!

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Pennsylvania National Quilt Extravaganza (PNQE) 2016 Recap

Last week, I attended PNQE, a Mancuso quilt show in Oaks, PA. It was about 1.5 hours from my house but it was well worth the trip for three reasons:

1. Modern quilt inspiration!
2. The Mr. attended his first quilt show!
3. My quilt won a ribbon!

More on all of these below.

1.  Mancuso shows traditionally exhibit traditional and art quilts - though their shows have a modern category this year! Well done, Mancuso. Modern quilting is a huge part of the quilting world now! That being said, I wish there had been more entries into the modern quilt category - but I found lots of modern quilting inspiration all over (especially in the gigantic international quilts exhibit).
Top left: "Purples in Africa" by Christine Vlietstra (UK); bottom left: "Sunrise, Sunset" by Heather Bitner (PA, USA); middle: "Ribbon Dance" by Rosemarie Palmer-Sungail (PA, USA), quilted by Cindy Cary; right: "Dream of All" by Harumi Iida (Japan)

Just to be clear: I have never met a quilt I didn't like (because I love quilts), and while I can appreciate traditional quilts, I'm more of a modern traditional/modern gal. So I was pleasantly surprised by the bold colors and modern elements in the exhibit.

Top left: "Colorful Trees and Streets" by Petra van den Daele (Germany); bottom left: "Life Cycle" by Jo Gallaway (UK); middle: "The Chisel Master" by Alison Laurence (NZ); right: "David" by Gilli Theokritoff (UK)

Here were some of my favorites, but it was really impossible to take pictures of them all (that's why quilt shows exist - so we can see everything in person!). I'm particularly fond of well-done quilting (and especially that done by domestic machine) so I tended to go in for up close shots.

The Philly Modern Quilt Guild had a huge exhibit (below), and that was the source of much oohing and aahing from us! I posted larger versions of some of these quilts last week on my Instagram account. It was an amazing show, and I wish we had the time to see it all.
Top left: "Rainbow Quilt" by Anna Levengood; bottom left: "Trees" by Jill Stafford (who I had the pleasure of meeting at the show!); middle: "Ribbon Quilt" by Sarah Bond; right: "Change from Baseline" by Deborah Woodworth

2. Though Mike and I have been together for ten years (say what, has it really been ten years?) and I've been quilting for six, he's never actually been to a quilt show. This is a real shame, since not only did I want to show off my quilt to him, but he's quite the artist himself (he draws amazingly).

He's also developed quite the expertise about quilts and free motion quilting, so we walked through, making comments on stitch length (something he's jokingly particular about since I'm not so much), color combinations, panels that were quilted vs. quilts that were completely pieced, and that sort of thing. He especially ogled over "The Chisel Master" quilt (in the second mosaic featuring the hand). The detail was absolutely stunning!

 "The Chisel Master" by Alison Laurence (NZ)

We also asked someone to take our picture in front of my quilt (the first pic in this post) because the quilt is about our marriage (you can read the story here). All in all, it was a successful day (and we had pizza, so, you know, all was even more excellent).

3. This was my second time entering a juried exhibit. Last time was QuiltCon 2015, when this quilt was automatically accepted in after it was part of the Modern Quilt exhibit at International Quilt Festival. I received some great constructive feedback from QuiltCon: color balance good, work on starts and stops with quilting + stitch length. This time around, my constructive feedback was only about squaring my quilt before binding (which I still haven't found a full proof way to do - anyone have advice on that?).

I found it interesting that the judges didn't make any comment on my stitch length and obvious stops/starts. It goes to show how much feedback can vary from show to show. That being said, I'm determined to enter my more recent works into shows because I've improved so much (still not striving for perfection though! Because it's a quilt. And I'm not perfect. And I'm not a show quilter. :)).

Otherwise, "Home" was praised for having a "mid-century modern" vibe, which is what I won the ribbon (and some prize money!) for. I originally entered it because it was my only quilt that was completely show-ready (the right label and hanging sleeve attached), and because it seemed to fit the theme of "Evolving." Overall, I'm thrilled with the experience and to see it hanging there with so many other gorgeous quilts was a joy.

Strange light in my sewing room this morning, but this is my current mini quilt wall! And yes, I've moved the blog logo quilt over because I need to figure out a better way to hang it on my door.

I'm not a show quilter (I'll say that again and again forever) but I will try to improve my craft. I know I've already improved by miles since I made this quilt in 2014.

In other news, I've just learned that "Soar" and "Deconstructed Churn Dash" (two more recent makes) will be heading to the Modern Quilt exhibit at the Ontario Museum of History and Art in California this winter! All the quilts are based on a modernized traditional block. Now that three of my quilts will have traveled to California (further west than I've been), maybe I should go someday soon? Also, lots of hand-sewing and Poldark are in my future (gotta get those quilt sleeves attached).

Did you attend PNQE? If not, what is your favorite quilt show you've ever attended? I'd have to say QuiltCon 2015 because of the sheer number of modern quilts in 1 room. Inquiring minds would like to know!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Trellis - A Finished Quilt (BQF)

I've been participating in the Blogger's Quilt Festival for 6 years now. I can't believe that! There are less bloggers linking up than in the past, but it's always a great way to view tons of beautiful quilts all at once and never leave your computer or phone. Thank you to Amy for spearheading such an important event in the quilting blogosphere!

Today, I'm finally introducing my quilt, Trellis, which has quite a story and process behind her. She sits riiiight at the edge of the "Small Quilts" category, at 60" square. Similar to my other entry, Metropolis, this quilt was a long-term WIP that really challenged me to develop a myriad of sewing skills further. Apparently, I love a good challenge!

The concept behind Trellis began when I gleefully signed up for Anna Maria Horner's "Mod Corsage" workshop at QuiltCon 2015 in Austin, TX. Readers might already know how much I love her fabrics and admire her as an artist and teacher. Anyway, the premise of the class was making tons of different flowers. I learned a lot about fussy cutting, how her fabrics are strategically made, needle-turn applique, and piecing flowers. I wrote more about the class here if you're interested. I ended the day with a bunch of pieced flowers and possible leaves:

My overall concept: the "trellis" that you might see in a garden, holding up flowers that have woven themselves over and through it, is actually invisible. Since that was the image in my head from the beginning, I thought it would serve as a good name. I envisioned a large pieced flower (top left) as the starting point, with all kinds of flowers and leaves growing off of it.

Eventually, I decided to add two black bars on either side of the quilt to suggest a garden gate. Hopefully, the flowers would flow over it! It's abstract but I like the depth it provides. I eventually ran out of steam while machine appliqueing flowers and the quilt became much larger than I originally imagined, but I'm very happy with the final look!

The piecing process was drawn out and interesting, to say the least. My design wall and floor were very handy. Here are some progress shots of lots of low volume, random curves, and partial seams. Just some of the flowers are appliqued; the background is completely pieced. Somehow it all came together over a year and a half; it was frustrating at times and I had to put it away often. I honestly didn't know if it would get finished this year... but it did!

I made bias tape out of an old green AMH print, and it was perfect (see below)! I machine appliqued it all over the quilt, leading to different flowers and sections. That was probably the easiest part! I used my walking foot to quilt an all-over spiral from the top left (where the trellis started) with Aurifil 2024 (white). I felt like it was the only motif that could bring all of the elements of this busy, detailed quilt together, and the white blended perfectly.

 My favorite section of the quilt is the one below, where I appliqued two different colorways of the "Summer Totem" print from Loulouthi (my favorite fabric EVER in the history of the world). This part really conveys the "trellis" image. Plus, the Pride and Prejudice text print in the background (from Ardently Austen) is one of my favorite low volume/text prints!

She's bound in low volume scraps for two major reasons: 1. To avoid detracting from the colors and gate bars and 2. Because I had a ton of scraps!

The backing is a conglomeration of many AMH prints I have hoarded and loved. Since I'm keeping this quilt forever, I figured it was worth using up some large pieces (it was). I'm particularly fond of "Summer Totem" (the large flowery piece on the left - I've always wanted to back something in that print thanks to inspiration from Ashley @wasntquiltinaday, who was in class with me!) and the book-like stacks!

One last picture. I was going to hang it on my sewing room wall but it's way. too. big. I tend to "go big or go home!" Oh well - maybe next sewing room. After a lot of work in so many skill areas, I feel so thrilled and relieved to have completed this thing!

This is my second entry into this fall's Blogger's Quilt Festival. My first entry, Metropolis, is right here! Please enjoy the festival, which has many categories of quilts. Make sure you vote for Viewer's Choice as well!

Past Blogger's Quilt Festival entries:
Fall 2014 (nominated for Viewer's Choice)
Spring 2012 (First Place in Baby Quilt Category)



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