Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Belle: A Disney Mini Quilt

This is the fourth year I've made a Disney-themed mini quilt for my little sister. It's a special year because she's finally turned 21 - the last person in the whole family to do so!

 "I want adventure in the great wide somewhere..."

This year, I chose the original cartoon Beauty and the Beast for a couple of reasons (and specifically the scene in the opening song reprise of "Belle," when she emerges onto a scenic meadow in the midst of fall and dandelions). This year, the live action movie came out with Emma Watson, and we both enjoyed seeing it together. Plus, my sister is getting ready to graduate from college (next year!) and I thought this scene was particularly poignant.

The video of this scene is only a minute long and it's right here on YouTube! I was inspired by the scenery from :26 on. Here's a screenshot of the meadow from the movie (I changed the point of view for the quilt).

Belle sings:
I want adventure in the great wide somewhere, 
I want it more than I can tell.
And for once, it might be grand
To have someone understand
I want so much more than they've got planned...

I quilted the first line of that scene right above Belle with several stitchings of Aurifil 2024 (white), similar to the other quilts.

Originally, I considered recreating the famous ballroom scene, where Belle and the Beast dance together for the first time. This created two problems: 1. I'd have to recreate the Beast with fabric, and I wasn't up to that particular challenge and 2. All the quilts have been female-centric for a reason. The scene I chose seemed much more appropriate.

 Quilt in progress - creating the women themselves always takes a bit of planning!

I gladly took a bit of artistic license; for example, the Beast's castle sits in the distance to hint at the upcoming adventure, and I added a growing rose bush to the bottom left corner because... well, have you seen the movie?... roses are an important part of the later plot. This was really fun to free motion quilt in black and then applique. There are also a few trees featuring rose fabric. Sneaky.

Even though I love making these minis, I asked her if she still wanted me to continue the series after 3. Her response was to give me a list of at least 5 Disney movies. Good thing she has me! :)

 And here are the other three I've made and their accompanying blog posts: Frozen, The Little Mermaid, and Tangled. I can't wait to see this new one next to the others, and I'm already scheming for next year!

 Happy Thanksgiving to all my fellow American friends! It's my favorite holiday. :)


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Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Patriotically Resisting: A Mini Quilt and Auction

When I heard that the Quilt Alliance mini quilt contest and auction theme was "Voices," I was inspired to create yet another politics-related quilt (because I firmly believe that a quilt's place is in politics).

Artist Statement: "In the aftermath of the 2016 election, I felt frustrated by insinuations that those who don't trust or believe in President Trump are unpatriotic. In fact, my love for my country inspires me to resist against forces that threaten it. I decided to shout this to the world accompanied by a patriotic pussyhat, a symbol of the most empowering day of my life so far, the Women's March (1/21/17)."


For the flag, I used a fantastic Cotton + Steel print that showcases state names. I decided to hand quilt the stars for extra texture and emphasis. Finally, I quilted the words and densely quilted the background with a fabulous dark purple thread, Aurifil 1200 (blue violet). This quilt was really inspiring to make, and I'm so glad to share it with someone else now!

The quilt is currently on auction with the Quilt Alliance until November 20 (#38 at this link) - please consider supporting this wonderful nonprofit organization by bidding on a mini quilt. And if you bid on mine, I hope it encourages you to keep fighting for the America you believe in (and also of the power we the people have in this fight - which also showed its face in last week's elections! Yeah!!).


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Friday, November 3, 2017

Modernized Double Wedding Ring: A Finished Quilt

When I set out to make a quilt for my sister-in-law and her new wife, who have been together for 10 years, my goal was to commemorate the long-awaited wedding event itself. It was such a special day for the couple and family, and we were fortunate enough to be able to attend a few weeks ago!


This is my simplified version of the traditional double wedding ring quilt, using orange peels instead (my favorite motif, as you might already know!). I LOVE double wedding ring quilts, but I have no patience to piece one (and the idea for this quilt came about only a couple months before the wedding, so it would have been quite a time crunch). Plus, while I was looking them over, I realized that all the little pieces actually look like large orange peels. I placed the central orange peels like so to mimic the joining of two circles, or two hands, in marriage. Perfect!

Back when I chose these modern, calm fabrics (in colors the brides chose), I organized blues into 4 color groups. This was mostly instinctual but often directed by warm/cool tones. I wanted the quilt to move from gray in the middle all the way to dark blue on the top and bottom; this design would hopefully emphasize the double wedding ring motif. When I started piecing improvisational waves, I often added in a bit of the next darkest color. This technique ensures that the gradient will change smoothly (versus starkly).

The quilting itself was really fun to do; I used my walking foot to create randomized waves all over. This was the right choice for this quilt (in my mind) because a) it emphasizes the design of the waves (always one of my goals - add to the design instead of take away) and b) it maximizes comfort.

Barbara Persing gave a wonderful lecture at our guild meeting a few years ago, and one of my takeaways was the importance of considering the quilt's use. This one was intended for the couch (and that's where it is, yay!), so dense quilting wasn't necessarily going to be as comfortable. Win-win!

I used a handful of Aurifil threads to make the waves in each section, progressing from light to dark (4060 variegated gray, 2735 medium blue, 2783 medium delft blue, and 1320 medium teal). My most recent exciting thread discovery is that variegated gray thread, which really makes an impact. I just used it for part of another quilt, too!

The backing is this lovely print, "Lilla," from Lotta Jansdotter's "Hemma" line, which I picked up from my LQS, Pennington Quilt Works. I enjoy ordering fabric online, but nothing beats being able to choose in person when I can.

And finally, a picture of the happy couple. We were glad to be a part of the special weekend in Florida! Originally, I planned to pack the quilt with me and gift it to them in person, but it was easier (and cheaper - it's a large lap size) to ship it right before we left. I'm so glad I was able to surprise them with a quilt!

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

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Sunday, October 29, 2017

A much-needed quilt exhibition: Beyond the Bed Covers

Along the same vein as my post from earlier in the year, "Why Make Political Quilts," quilter and artist Laura Petrovich-Cheney has curated an exhibition at the A.I.R. Gallery in Brooklyn, NY to examine how quilts can (and are) used in unique ways (hence "Beyond the Bed Covers").

From the website:
 "Beyond the Bed Covers examines how quilts and quilting have evolved beyond their cozy functionality, to be an expressive art form constructed of a variety of materials practiced by all gender forms. Included in this exhibition are artists whose quilts push the boundaries of materiality, personal expression and political statements."

I was absolutely thrilled and honored to play a small part with my quilt, "Hear Our Voice." I made this quilt in a week and proudly displayed it as a banner at the Women's March on Washington on January 21, 2017 (and wrote all about the experience of making and marching right here). Laura held a VIP showing of the exhibition this past weekend, so I was able to visit and see all of the quilts together. Go if you can!

The most exciting part was seeing Faith Ringgold's work in person (yes, THE LEGEND). Her story quilts were a wonder to behold. I especially connected with her weight loss quilt and written story.

 My name on a wall with so many talented artists, and after Faith Ringgold, no less... pinch me! 

I always love seeing Laura's work in person as well; she creates quilts out of reclaimed wood. Below is one from the show, which is open until November 12.

And I got a picture with the lady of the hour! She's a talented and caring woman I'm proud to be friends with. 

Behind us are pictures of the AIDS quilt in Washington, D.C. While making my quilt, I wasn't considering the implications of adding a quilt to the vast history of political quilts, so it was quite humbling to see my quilt next to these photos (related: if you'd like to read more about the AIDS quilt, I wrote about my day volunteering with the project right here).

Finally, my lovely photographer and theater friend Julie came with me to see the exhibition. We had to get a photo together. :) I'm still deciding what I'd like to do with this special quilt/protest banner, but I'm really glad to be showing it in public once more.

Outtakes: NYC Inspiration

While I live within two hours from New York City, I don't get to go there too often (though this year was much more than normal). Julie and I saw a hysterical off-Broadway show (Puffs - for all you hardcore Harry Potter fans!) and walked the Brooklyn Bridge. Inspiration was everywhere!

  The gray building with the square squiggles caught my eye immediately. Free motion quilting much?

 Gorgeous (almost) sunset over New York Harbor and the Statue of Liberty. The colors!

 Dizzying and angular Brooklyn Bridge architecture - so many modern quilt designs.

 Changing colors on the wall of PABT (Port Authority Bus Terminal)

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Monday, October 23, 2017

Marrying modern + traditional quilting

Every single fall, I get the itch to make a bunch of maple leaf blocks. I've turned them into quilts a couple of times. Should I take on (yes) ANOTHER (yes) maple leaf project? (YES!). But I'm not interested in any old maple leaf quilt block - the one that makes my heart beat fastest is the so-called "Modern Maple" which is simply a few half-square triangles and squares. It's simple and beautiful (and Nicole at Modern Handcraft has a great tutorial, plus I used measurements from Sew Lux Fabric for smaller leaves).

It's no secret that modern quilting is popular right now. The magazines and companies say it's a trend, but this kind of quilting is likely here to stay. Art forms evolve constantly, and there's something for all of us to enjoy; no matter what your style, it's still quilting, right?

In my modern quilting lectures, I'm the first to admit that I'm not a minimalist (like, my pile of "minimalist" work is embarrassingly small - it's just not what I enjoy). If the piecing is minimal, I really cherish the process of detailed, often dense, quilting - because that's how I usually see the quilt come alive.

I also revel in the opportunity to twist traditional quilt blocks up. I think think the first time I designed a quilt on my own was Scatter, where I took apart the orange peel block and mixed it up with (what I now call) brick-by-brick improv. It's my favorite class to teach. :D

To me, my latest fall quilt is modern because of the fabrics (deep but bright saturated colors, solids and tone-on-tone fabrics), background movement (fade from light to dark), slightly improvisational setting of the blocks, varying size/scale, and some negative space. All while using a well-known block that likely goes back many, many years. I can't wait to quilt it up! More soon!

How do you merge modern with traditional in your work? Is it the fabric, design, or something else?

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Friday, October 20, 2017

Apartment-warming gifts

If you're a quilter, you have a superpower: the ability making unique personalized gifts with your own hands. When my sister went back to school this summer, I sent her a care package to start the year off on the right foot.

"UKEN do it" - get it? Tee-hee.

My sister LOVES puns and playing her ukulele. She's regaled me with stories of playing all over Barcelona (even once with her professor!). She's even played over the phone for me. So, to make a small happy mini quilt, I looked up some ukulele puns. This one seemed to fit best!

 I used all Aurifil threads to quilt the words, using some of my favorite techniques and little marking. My favorite thread in this quilt is the purple variegated thread I used for her ukulele (#3840) since she's also a huge purple lover. :)

I also stitched up some reversible handmade coasters for my sister and her roommate (they each got two matching ones). My sister loves Rifle Paper Co's style (can't say I blame her), so I used their fabrics plus a nice neutral Carolyn Friedlander for the binding. The Big Stitch Coaster tutorial (also by Carolyn Friedlander) was helpful BUT even though I used bias binding, I had a lot of trouble stitching it down by machine. Eventually, I figured out that I could baste it and then hand sew around each one with big stitches. That seemed to do the trick with minimal issues (plus, it was cute and gave me an opportunity for some handwork).

Hopefully these little gifts have brightened up their apartment!

Linking up to NTT, Crazy Mom Quilts, TGIFF.

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Sunday, October 8, 2017

Anniversary mini mini quilt: Sword Art Online

It's become a tradition around here to gift my husband a mini mini (very very small) quilt for holidays. He's got quite a collection now! You get to a point in a relationship where, sure, it's fun to gift gifts, but it's not always easy to find something meaningful. Enter quilting.

This past weekend was our 5 year wedding anniversary (I wrote about the wedding here!), so I wanted to make a really special little quilt (here's the image/screenshot it's based on). It's funny how your interests can merge and change when you're in a long-term relationship; Mike and I have been together for 11 years, so we've had a lot of time. For example, I've gotten him interested in musicals (YAY!), and this year he convinced me to start watching anime (Japanese animation style) shows with him.

His favorite show (and one of mine, too) is Sword Art Online. The premise of this show is hard to wrap your head around at first, but the characters and story quickly enveloped me. Trapped in a video game, the characters are trying to get back to the real world. The main love story follows Kirito and Asuna, who hope to meet up again (and be together) once they've found a way out of the game. The words "no matter what" are a paraphrase of Kirito's speech. Without giving too much away, it's a really sweet story.

Asuna's hair was the really exciting challenge I wanted to tackle in this piece. It's a beautiful, bright, orange-y shade (here's a good photo); after tracing the outline with a black chalk pencil, I quilted with a dark orange thread (Aurifil 2350). Then, I filled in her hair with two brighter, lighter oranges (Aurifil 2240 and 1133). I wasn't going for perfection with this thread painting. If I had quilted over it a couple more times, it would look even more full, but I wanted it to match the same messy style as Kirito's hair. Plus, in this scene, the characters are fading.

This is what the back looks like. I don't always cut all the little threads (and I certainly don't bury them on something this small). I used a fabric specifically bought for Mike (cats and dogs), and in my rush to start quilting Asuna's hair, I didn't realize it was upside down! :)

I really love making these little minis. Needless to say, this latest one is his favorite. Here are (some of the) others from the past with their blog posts. :)

 Final Fantasy X (video game)

 Hamilton (musical)

 Big Hero 6 (movie)

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