Monday, July 30, 2018

Building Blocks: Quilting Modern Quilts Blog Series

This is the 3rd of 6 quilts that I'm sharing as part of a series this summer, which explores ways to quilt modern, more minimalistic quilts (than what I usually make). To read a detailed introduction to the blog series, click here. Quilts featured so far: Electrify, Intersection. Read to the end for a giveaway!

This quilt has a long history of several years inside my graph paper sketchbook, just waiting for its chance to come to life. Here was my chance.


"Building Blocks" is a conglomeration of rectangles and squares, sewn together to showcase color and movement. This quilt doesn't have a grid -  a process I genuinely enjoy. Whenever I make a quilt like this (for example, Metropolis), cutting into it and piecing the design in (no applique) is always less tricky than it first seems. In fact, the quilt top came together in just a few quick hours! I really couldn't believe it!

Wish I had dated some of my sketchbook drawings... the historian in me just shook her head. This might be from as far back as 2012.

I specifically chose RJR Cotton Supreme Solids for this quilt, as they have quite possibly the most comprehensive, bright solid selections out there. I had used RJR solids for my "Burst" quilt last year as part of the "What Shade Are You?" blog hop, so I was already sold on their selection. This quilt is wonderful in cool colors; I'd love to make it with warm ones.





I was able to pick out very specific shades of fabric that matched with my vision: Argento for the background, Violet, Jacaranda, and Wisteria for purples, Silver Screen for binding, Kelly Green, Lucky Green, Sour Apple, Wimbledon, and Neon for greens, Robin's Egg and Iceberg for turquoise, and Electric Blue, Lake, Riviera, and Poolside for blues.


Quilting the middle went off without a hitch; it was especially enjoyable due to the constant changing of motifs (if it's boring, why do it?). So many opportunities for pretty filler designs. Every small square (1 in each of the 4 colors) received the echo treatment (see the lime green above).

 This quilt gave me the opportunity to use LOTS of different thread colors, including Aurifil 2600 (Dove Gray), 1320 (Medium Teal), 2735 (Medium Blue), 2870 (Green), 4225 (Eggplant), 5017 (Shining Green), and 1243 (Dusty Lavender).

I was especially excited about quilting my cascading motifs, like in the royal blue fabric above. I think they add a lot of movement, and there are so many options. Adding curves and circles where there are tons of angles always makes a quilt shine. Also, look how this rainbow-y cascade shows up on the back (this pretty purple fabric is called Jacaranda)! I love it so.


Unfortunately, the background of this quilt  (pebbles and wavy lines) has been the subject of a LOT of seam ripping. I am not one to sugarcoat the struggles of quilting something! :)  I wanted the outside/background of the quilt to be quilted densely and somewhat small so as to keep the attention on the colorful shapes. At different times throughout the process, my tension really went off, and I neglected to take out those sections until I was done. It could have been a bit of drag on this quilt (it's not particularly big) or perhaps my speed... sometimes it's hard to say what really set it off. I usually don't let a few spots of loose tension here or there bother me, even if the quilt is meant to be in a quilt show.


However, too late, I realized that it was much more serious. I spent a couple hours ripping out free motion quilting (which is THE WORST to seam rip, ask any quilter!), and quilted those sections again. I'll be honest - it somewhat ruined my relationship with this quilt. I still love the colors and the design, but every time I think about the quilting, I just get annoyed (it still needs more work, but it's done for now).


Overall, though, I try to take things with a positive spin. This quilt taught me about patience. It taught me how to quickly (as possible) rip a lot of pebbles out (which is not quick!). It also taught me that the second time around quilting may still not meet my perfection standards for whatever reason (which, honestly, are pretty low - it's not that I don't care but that's not where I typically focus my crafty energy) - and that's just quite alright. I'd like to give this quilt away or donate it someplace where they will hang it on a wall, or use it as a lap quilt, and never really look closely at the tension on the back.

It's just fabric and thread. I got to make one of my longtime planned designs. So, honestly, I'm happy. But I think in social media and quilt guild worlds, we don't always talk about the struggles. So here's my post about struggling.

Thank you to RJR Fabrics for sponsoring the fabric, The Warm Company for Warm and Natural batting, and Aurifil Thread for the threads. All opinions about materials are my own, honest ones.

Please note: some people have emailed me about releasing patterns of the quilts. While I'm flattered, sharing the measurements and methods are no longer in my plans, as I explained in the introduction post. If you derive a quilt from my design and share it publicly, I would greatly appreciate a link to my website and a caption noting that you were inspired by this design. This also goes for quilt shows. Thank you!


-----------------------------------------
Giveaway 

Today's giveaway is an assortment of large scraps of RJR Cotton Supreme Solids, from the blue and green sections of my quilt.



Giveaway details: Runs from July 30 until August 7 at 12 am EST. Use the Rafflecopter below to enter  - this helps me when tallying votes. Once you comment on the blog, please be advised that it will not appear right away (I have to approve comments due to insane amounts of spam). You can still comment and not be entered in the giveaway if you so desire (just don't click anything in the Rafflecopter). If you won a previous giveaway from this blog series, you cannot win again.

If you have ANY trouble, please email me and I will post the comment for you! Blogger has been really difficult lately.

I will not be responding directly to all blog comments at this time due to volume and issues with Blogger (unfortunately). Sorry, U.S. entrants only, please. I will email the winner and if there is no response within 2 days or winner is not located in the U.S., I will randomly choose another winner. Good luck!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


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Saturday, July 14, 2018

Reorganizing Fabric and Scraps

Over 8 years of sewing, my fabric needs and preferences have changed many times (have you ever looked at a piece of fabric and thought: what was I thinking?!). I think it's important to reevaluate your hobby periodically and make the necessary changes (which is why I have frequent fabric destashes and give a lot away to my quilt guild and students). Your hobby is important and you have to make sure it fits your current space and needs.


Right now, I've come to terms with the fact that I'm making many more scrap quilts than those with yardage, so I'm paring down both my buying and fabric stash (for the record, I usually buy a half yard of something when I like it or need it). Plus, I really want to make quilts instead of holding onto fabric for years and years (this post by Jenny Kae Quilts says it all).

While going through my normal stash piles, I quickly noticed lots of small fabric pieces at fat quarter size or less; since they weren't stored with my scraps, I'd often forget about them. Also, the closet (shared with my husband's computer stuff) very clearly needed a complete makeover. I bought bins on sale at Target (score), which easily close and stack (my other, tiny ones, did not - see the size difference below). These are TWICE the size than the ones I was using! They fit my fat quarters of each color along with scraps. What a relief! Why did I wait so long?


Before, I was also using an assortment of Ziploc bags and shoe boxes to organize scraps. Not only did it look terrible but it was confusing (besides a general organization by color). I felt overwhelmed just stepping into the closet. I didn't give it the time and attention it needed... until now.


Now, I have more room to store scraps together. I combined colors together except for blue, purple, and green, which all needed their own bins (also, I have very few yellow scraps - believe it, Sarah! - so a small bin still holds those). I'm already feeling much more excited about diving into my scraps.


One part of my stash that will remain in tact through change is solids, since I use them possibly 75% more often and in abundance than I used to 4 or 5 years ago. While I don't keep track of them by company or name, I'm happy with the assortment I can pull from for any project. I seem to have accumulated a lot of purples and grays from over the years, and many of these are larger pieces. Solids have become absolutely essential to my quilt-making process (here, they are on the bottom of my storage unit).


Also, during this process, I went through my fabric stash 3 separate times and put together a huge pile to destash (see below). I'm also considering making up a few bundles for sale. I'll be posting these for sale on my separate Instagram account, quiltyhabit_destash, within the next month. Follow this IG account to get updates (sorry, US shipping only).


So, have you gone through your fabric lately? What's changed, if anything? Your taste, needs, space, etc.?

 

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Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Delaware/Maryland Class Openings

I'm thrilled to embark on a 5-day lecture and workshop tour next week. Are you in the Lewes/Rehoboth Beach, DE or Easton, MD area? There are a few spots left in my Orange Peel and Improv classes! If you're interested, email me for the guild contacts (I don't want to post their emails online). Thank you!

Scatter.jpg Soar.JPG
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Quilt designs and improvisation technique are originals by Jessica Skultety.  
 
  •  Workshop - Ocean Waves Quilt Guild, Lewes, DE
    • "Orange Peels and Improv" - Tuesday, July 10
    • 9am - 3pm
    • $48 for nonmembers
  • Workshop -  Bayside Quilters of Easton, MD
    • "Orange Peels and Improv" - Thursday, July 12
    • 9:30am - 4pm
 
Orange peels are beautiful and striking traditional blocks that can be manipulated in exciting ways. We'll pair them with "planned" improvisational piecing to make a scrap-friendly baby or wall quilt (44” x 55”) that you’ll be proud to show off! You’ll learn the “stitch and flip” method for making orange peels for machine applique. Then, you’ll use background fabric and my favorite improvisation technique, brick-by-brick, to stitch them into a modern quilt top uniquely your own.
 

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Monday, July 2, 2018

Intersection: Quilting Modern Quilts Blog Series

This is the 2nd of 6 quilts that I'm sharing as part of a series this summer, which explores ways to quilt modern, more minimalistic quilts (than what I usually make). To read a detailed introduction to the blog series, click here. Quilts featured so far: Electrify. Read to the end for a giveaway!

I was going to save this quilt until the end, but it has the same roots as the last quilt. It is one of my favorites of the group, mostly because it came out exactly as I envisioned and all the cool quilting I challenged myself with. This is Intersection.


The four cross design comes straight from the roof of an old house in Quakertown, NJ (the same roof as Electrify - you can read more about that here). I was completely taken with this design, which is a gorgeous, traditional layout of crosses.

I liked the idea of using a short, somewhat squat version of the Greek cross because it seems more unexpected and unusual. When designing this quilt, I thought it would be interesting to let part of the design disappear off the quilt, and after playing around, it seemed even more appropriate to include 2 different groupings of crosses.

Cirrus Solids used: Amazon (teal), Clementine (orange), Limestone (white), and Shamrock (green backing - see picture further down this post).

Since negative, or blank, space suddenly became a huge part of this design, a bright, bold color fit the bill. Plus, one common question I get about modern quilts is, "don't they have white backgrounds?" Just sometimes. :) Anyway, since I love cool range colors (blue/purple mostly), teal was an attractive choice. And lo and behold, dark orange is complementary to teal (directly across from it on the color wheel). Add some white to let it breathe. Let the orange be the exception.

Cirrus Solids by Cloud9 Fabrics were the fabrics that I really wanted to use for this quilt. They have a beautiful crossweave, which makes it a little difficult to photograph but also makes it shimmer in person. It's hard to convey the exact colors here. I've been working with Cirrus Solids for a long time and I always appreciate the wide range of colors, softness, and solidity. Thank you to Cloud9 for providing the fabrics for me to try out this design.


The quilting itself tested me. When I look at the quilt, I see a circular motif surrounding the outline of the crosses. The key to making this kind of minimalist quilt have an impact is quilting the negative space in an unusual way (that's how I go about it, at least). Once the idea popped into my head, there was no getting it out.

The quilt is quite large (59" across by 67" down), so the large pebble paths were the most intimidating part.  I have loved creating paths like this for a long time, but these are by far the largest I've quilted. I marked them with white chalk (it wasn't an exact science) and then simply filled them in with pebbles of all sizes. I really love the point where they meet (below).

Contrast in size and shape of the quilting can often make the quilt. I used the same color and weight of thread (a beautiful, glow-y turquoise Aurifil 2810, 40 weight) for both the pebble paths and background, and changing scale in the negative space really makes the difference.


I wanted the orange crosses to relate to the large pebble swathes, so I quilted a different pebble configuration there, in Aurifil 2240. Just now, I'm realizing that I used the same free motion motif (swirls) in the white crosses here and the background of the other quilt (with Aurifil 2024). Sometimes I surprise myself. :) I really enjoy using the opposite of the piecing design to quilt (curvy vs. angular, for example).


The final test was the matched binding. This quilt really didn't want a frame; it seemed to float. I actually save the matched binding for one of the last steps of finishing the entire quilt series, but it was easier than expected. It matches up just enough for me (I'm not interested in perfectionism, even if this one does go to a quilt show. That's just what I like. The quilt feels more human to me. :) ).



This quilt was a test of my quilting skills but I truly enjoyed every step. Isn't that what it's all about?

Thank you to Cloud9 Fabrics for sponsoring the fabric, The Warm Company for Warm and Natural batting, and Aurifil Thread for the threads. All opinions about materials are my own, honest ones.


Please note: some people have emailed me about releasing patterns of the quilts. While I'm flattered, sharing the measurements and methods are no longer in my plans, as I explained in the introduction post. If you derive a quilt from my design and share it publicly, I would greatly appreciate a link to my website and a caption noting that you were inspired by this design. This also goes for quilt shows. Thank you!


-----------------------------------------
Giveaway 

And today's giveaway is a fat quarter bundle of summery Kona Solids by Robert Kaufman (which I used to make samples and practice quilting) and a 2 pack of white chalk pencils, so you can practice your own marking!


Giveaway details: Runs from July 2 until July 9 at 12 am EST. Use the Rafflecopter below to enter  - this helps me when tallying votes. Once you comment on the blog, please be advised that it will not appear right away (I have to approve comments due to insane amounts of spam). You can still comment and not be entered in the giveaway if you so desire (just don't use Rafflecopter below). If you won a previous giveaway from this blog series, you cannot win again.

 Also, I will not be responding directly to all blog comments at this time due to volume and issues with Blogger (unfortunately). Sorry, U.S. entrants only, please. I will email the winner and if there is no response within 2 days or winner is not located in the U.S., I will randomly choose another winner.


a Rafflecopter giveaway



 

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