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)

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?

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.

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)

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Clamshell Wholecloth: A Finished Quilt

 *Enter my 7th Blogaversary giveaway here!*

Sometimes, you see something inspiring in nature or art, and think, "wow, that's cool, let me take a picture." And you go on with your life. Other times, though, you see something and think, "I could probably look at this for the rest of my life and love every second of that experience."

The latter was my reaction to the window below, which I stumbled upon in New York City early this summer. Almost immediately, I posted it to Instagram, where it quickly became clear that you all loved it, too. Inspired, I decided to make a wholecloth quilt inspired by this fabulous window, and I gifted it to my quilty friend Renee for her birthday. I figured I'd probably never make a "real" clamshell quilt because I'd rather quilt than piece, so this was a great opportunity! Plus, I REALLY JUST WANTED TO QUILT something half that awesome.

Like... whether this was an ad or just random window art (I didn't catch it at the time of the photo), isn't this this coolest thing ever?

After creating a quick cardboard template, tracing, and quilting the clamshell lines (see below), I chose a bunch of threads that would contrast enough with the teal (Free Spirit Spruce solid): Aurifil threads 5006 (light turquoise), 2520 (violet), 2710 (light robin's egg), 1148 (light jade), 3840 (French lilac, purple variegated), 2860 (light emerald), and 2810 (turquoise). I've only made one wholecloth quilt larger than this, and it was quite different, but the color-choosing process was similar. Wholecloth quilts need lots of texture, and to me, color and contrast are the cherries on top.

Since this quilt was a surprise, I couldn't share too much process this summer. Every clamshell has a unique filler design; sometimes I looked back at the window photo for inspiration, though I usually pulled from my arsenal of favorite quilting motifs. Also, I had to consider how they would look inside the curved clamshell structure. It's a bit more fiddly than simply filling up the background of a quilt.

This was the most fun part. :) Now I just want to make more wholecloth quilts.

Since Renee's blog is Quilts of a Feather, it seemed fitting to back this quilt with the feathers from Carrie Bloomston's Dreamer fabric collection. I love how the quilting shows up!


It looks cool from afar, too, in my messy sewing room. I'm glad it went to Renee because there are only a few people I could imagine gifting something this special to, and she is one of them.

I'm curious: what are your favorite free motion motifs? I enjoy collecting free motion quilting designs on this Pinterest board for future inspiration. Thanks in advance! :)

Linking up to Needle And Thread Thursday, TGIFF, Crazy Mom Quilts

Sunday, October 1, 2017

7th Blogaversary and 2nd Newsletter Birthday Giveaway!

 *The giveaway is closed, and the random winner is Leanne! She has been emailed. Thank you, everyone!*

I'm excited to celebrate 7 years of blogging this month, and 2 years of writing The Wonky Press newsletter! This past year was one of the best of my 20's so far. I made some quilts, moved into a new place with my husband (we are celebrating our own 5 year wedding anniversary this Saturday), and, besides the weight of the political atmosphere of the United States, felt generally good about life.

So, this year, I'm giving away a mini quilt that I've been holding on to for the last several months (and never blogged about - whoops!). I made "Five" in late 2016 to celebrate the Central Jersey Modern Quilt Guild's 5th birthday. We were supposed to interpret the number 5 as we saw fit, so I chose some favorite fabrics/colors, favorite design (5 raw edge appliqued and slightly puffy orange peels), and favorite quilting motifs. All my favorites!

I found out with this quilt that quilting REALLY small pebbles (see above) is NOT an easy feat, even on a small mini quilt! It took over 3 hours but admittedly it was meditative and enjoyable. I used Aurifil 1100 (Red Plum) and 3840 (variegated purple - French Lilac) on the pebbles - it's really hard to get a picture of how they really look in person, especially the variegated ones!

The back has a pretty Tula Pink fabric and yes, you can really see the quilting on it. I hope someone really enjoys this mini! If the winner would like, I will happily sew on a quilt sleeve before delivery.

If you'd like to enter the giveaway (from anywhere in the world!), follow the instructions below. Good luck and thank you for being a part of my quilting life!


Details: This giveaway is open to all humans, all over planet Earth. Bonus points (but not really) if you love quilting. Please leave 1 comment for each entry you choose to complete - you have a maximum of 3 chances. The giveaway will run until 7 pm EST on Monday, October 9, 2017, when I choose a winner by Random Number Generator. I will email the winner (so PLEASE make sure you leave your email if it isn't linked to your account). I really love peanut butter - haha, okay, congrats if you made it through all that.

  • Mandatory: follow Quilty Habit (blog) via Bloglovin, Feedly, email, Facebook, or Instagram, and leave a comment telling me how. This special giveaway is only for followers -  you can be a brand new follower too, of course!

  • Optional: subscribe to The Wonky Press Newsletter (free, 2x monthly, full of modern quilting and sewing links and inspiration!) and leave a comment telling me.

  • Optional: leave a blog post comment: if you could eat one dessert in the world for the rest of your life, what would it be? Feel free to include a recipe link!


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