26 Nov

Jardins Brancos

I had the pleasure of meeting artist Ana Ventura last week.

Ana Ventura at Bourgeois Pig

Yesterday was her opening at Bourgeois Pig — the same gallery in Heidelberg where I had my show last December. I’ll let the gallery and Ana herself share all the details, but I have to say Ana’s work is just as wonderful in person as it looks online. The collages are so whimsical and elegant in their simplicity. I was surprised that the larger, monochromatic pieces on linen canvas were not cut from one piece of paper. After a little consideration, I decided I liked them better that way. If they were cut from one piece of paper, then the creativity and design would most likely have taken place on a separate piece of paper used as a template. The way they are though, it is evident that the creative work happened right there on the canvas, with bits being added, removed, or adjusted until Ana was satisfied.

It was also nice to meet someone in person whom I knew only through occasionally reading her blog. Ana is just as sweet and friendly as I imagined she would be. We talked about blogging and her recent collaboration with jewelry designer and blogger Abigail Percy. The brooch they made together is beautifully made, and I can’t wait to see the earrings that are coming (Ana showed me their inspiration and I like them even better than the brooch). All hail the wonderful world of blogging!!

And, speaking of blogging, please note that the gallery now has a blog too. It’s still in it’s nascent stages, but they hope to share information about upcoming shows, their boutique items, and a bit of behind the scenes fun. An online shop is in the works, but for now, go ahead and email Kate and Marcus if you’re interested in anything they show on the blog. By the way, I bought an adorable nativity mobile illustrated by Ana — they still have more, plus cheerful bookmarks, some postcards, and of course, the artwork in the gallery.

26 Nov

Lone Mariner? Compass Star? Lone Compass? Mariner’s Star?

Lone Star stringy bits

I’m having a roller coaster-type relationship with this quilt. I loved the idea, but once I started cutting out stringy diamonds I thought it might be too busy and chaotic. Then I made more and arranged them (at friend Kathy’s suggestion) from dark to light, and, wow, I loved the quilt again!

Then came the realization that the diamonds were the wrong shape and would not sew together according to plan — hate. But my blog friends rallied together and came up with lots of solutions.

I was intrigued by Meg’s “Liberated Quilting” inspiration:

Gee's Bend via Gwen Marsten via commenter Meg

I even contemplated an El Lissitsky “Beat the Whites with a Red Wedge” -inspired composition (and patted myself on the back for not letting my art school education go completely to waste):

Beat the Blues with a Beige Wedge

In the end, it was Nadine‘s “Just add more fabric to make it fit” solution that was my favorite. I may even love my bastard child of a Lone Star and a Mariner’s Compass quilt more than the original idea.

Then yesterday I realized that I didn’t have enough challenge fabric for the  background. The irony was not lost on me that although I had guess-timated yardage and rounded up, thus figuring that I could give a half meter to Kathy so she could join the challenge, in the end I came up about a half meter short! Arghhhh. This only slowed me down a few hours. I decided that since the star was stringy and pieced, I could piece the background as well. But now, with the funky angles, I couldn’t force any wayward fabric back to a 45° or 90° shape. I could only do the best I could with freezer paper and a protractor. The background is all ripply. More frustration.

OK, deep breath. I ripped and pinned and adjusted so that the ripples that are left should be able to be quilted out. (No rulers will be allowed within 50 feet of the finished quilt.) I reminded myself that the ultimate purpose of this quilt is that it is to be used on our bed and proceeded to add a small border (more will come).

This aught to work just fine

Love.

24 Nov

Two Steps Forward

It’s been a while since I posted progress on the Sliced Quilt project I’ve been doing with the German online group, Texies. At first I suggested we take two months to do it, but everyone else said, “no, we need more time.” Guess who needed no less than three months just to get around to starting? Yup, I guess I have no concept about what I’ve got on my plate.

Anyways, my part started with simple patchwork and a bit of appliqué, and now I’m stitching the shadows and modeling as my evening hand-work project (the Lone Star is my daytime machine project).

Sliced Quilt WIP -- my part

A few days ago, Erika sent me her finished section. Wow, it’s completely different from mine. That’s the great part about this project. Now I’m very excited to see everyone else’s sections. I can’t wait to see all the variety!

Sliced Quilt WIP --Erika's part

She used a combination of piecing, appliqué, machine needle-felting, and a bit of melted organza. Every black is a little different. I love the “wood” fabric, which doesn’t look like wood at all, and yet it’s says “I’m the wooden part” without a doubt.

Out of sheer serendipity, our two pieces go next to each other. Here’s a taste of what the quilt will look like when all the parts are sewn together. My shadows on the bottom will eventually line up as nicely with hers as the tiles do.

Sliced Quilt WIP

20 Nov

Thanks and Classes

Wow, that was close. I wrote a long rant last night regarding unwelcome bulk emails of a proselytising nature. I decided the writing was cathartic enough and will spare you all the gory details.

What you probably DO want to hear about is that I recently received two wonderful packages from blogless readers Janny and Bonnie. Bonnie sent yummy plummy-colored fabric she dyed herself and Janny sent this postcard based on my Mod Log Cabin table runner pattern:

Mod Log Postcard

Thank you both! And thanks to the internet allowing us to share our talents with each other.

Speaking of sharing and Mod Log Cabins, if you are in the Heidelberg area and want to make a table runner in a class atmosphere (it’s amazing how much more we accomplish in a class than at home with distractions), I am teaching on post on Saturday, 19 January at 10:00.

I’m also teaching a Snowman Wall Hanging class (though it is long and skinny and would also make a good winter table runner). I am an idiot and haven’t taken a picture of the snowman, but he is a series of VERY wonky log cabins and is paper-pieced. Grab your wintery colored scraps and join us on Sunday, 16 December at 13:00!

Fabric Collage

Last weekend I taught my Fabric Collage class for members of the Heidelberg Hearts & Castles Quilt Guild. Fabric was flying! We had lots of fun and good camaraderie as always. It’s a great feeling as a teacher when a student comes in timid and walks out beaming with a bold artwork she has created herself. We had a lot of that. I do feel bad for the one student who’s work stumped the both of us. Her fabrics were wonderful and her inspiration appropriate, so I’m not sure why we had such a hard time coaxing the composition to completion. Definitely something for me to work on as a teacher. Unfortunately, I forgot my camera on day one and the batteries ran out early on day two, so I don’t have much to show. Believe me, it was a wonderfully varied and colorful collection!

12 Nov

Uh oh…

I feel like such an idiot.

I was so proud of myself for using up so many scraps. For taking Kathy’s advice and taking the time to sew strips in light medium and dark sets. For taking Johnnie’s advice and using a smaller stitch length so the strips wouldn’t fall apart on the edges when cut into diamonds. For pressing all my seams open and cutting the strip sets into diamonds without stretching them. For taking the time to mark the corners. For sewing the diamonds together so carefully. For pinning every diamond in each row so the points all matched. It was really looking good — and wasn’t nearly as scary as I had thought it would be (I have a fear of a poofy middle from fabric distortion). Until I finished two star points and noticed something didn’t look quite right.

Not 90°

Do you see it? That angle is NOT 90°. I traced a nice little template out of Quilter’s Newsletter Magazine’s issue with a special feature on Lone Star quilts because I didn’t trust myself, especially not with remembering which lines on my rotary ruler to align everything to when cutting the diamonds.

What I didn’t do was double check that QNM had it right. I read the instructions again. If I were to “speed cut” diamonds with my rotary cutter and ruler and solid fabrics, I’d cut a strip of the appropriate fabric the width from one side of the diamond to the parallel side. Then I would use the lines on my ruler to help me cross-cut the strip at a 45° angle and repeat as necessary to make the desired number of diamonds. Since my diamonds matched my template and my template matched the magazine, I put my ruler on the magazine. Guess what? The sides of the diamonds are parallel, but that skinny angle? Not 45°.

At first I thought, “OK, I’ll just use geometry and add up all the angles to figure out the angles needed for the background triangles and I’ll just have a Lone Star quilt with broader triangles on the sides.” That takes care of the outer ends, but what about the points that meet in the middle? I thought a little longer. Geometry tells me that circles are 360°. Eight diamonds who’s skinny points are 45° angles will sew together into a nice, flat circle because 8 x 45 = 360. Eight diamonds who’s skinny points are not 45° will NOT sew into a nice, flat circle. Crap.

I think I’m going to have to start this project over again.

Without the pile of scraps.

Without the weekend in Schollbrunn.

11 Nov

Schollbrunn

What does it look like when four quilters pack one car for a weekend retreat?

Actually, not quite: we still had a few jackets and another bag to load.  We took this picture so we could re-load the trunk for the drive back. It was like Tetris. And the trunk lid DID close!

Nine of us in total went to the mountains for a weekend of quilting, quilting, and more quilting. Oh, and good eating too.

We stayed at Hotel Benz, owned by friends of one of the ladies in our group. They gave us the better part of their dining room to work in. There was a pool, and three meals a day, plus coffee and cake, of course. We had perfect weather too — sleet, a little snow, rain and lots of wind. Who’d be tempted to go out in that? We stayed snuggled and warm inside and were very productive. Oh, and we laughed a lot too!

In all, three quilt tops were nearly completed, three made great progress, two need only binding, four were basted, and several new projects were begun.

My weekend’s work was to get a start on my Guild challenge quilt. The challenge is to use a particular fabric (a subtle navy blue print) in our own interpretation of traditional. I figured this was a good opportunity to finally make a bed quilt for TS&WGH and I. I decided on a stringy, strippy Lone Star with the challenge fabric as the background. I took all my blue and beige-to-brown scraps (the basket in this post) and this is what I had when I stuck my weekend’s work on the wall when I got home. I need to make some more lighter diamonds and then I’ll start sewing these together. I think I could use another weekend in Schollbrunn.

07 Nov

More Dots

Now I’ve actually made a dent in the polka dotted jersey. :-)

Bug Dress

The leggings came from my MIL, but we had a too-big hand-me-down T-shirt that matches quite well, so I incorporated that into the dress for more mix & matchy-ness. The T-shirt had two sparkly dogs on it which became patches for a sweatshirt so I’m feeling very recycle-y too. Katja wore the pants with skirt to school today and three friends “ordered” matching skirts. I actually have enough fabric, so I’ll have to decide if I want to make more over-the-pants skirts (the parents have no idea that the girls have asked for these) or if I want to make a long sleeved shirt for Katja.

Bug Patch

I added this too — because I could:

Bug Dress with Fliegenpilz

It’s not Fresh Cut , Chocolate Lollipop, or Joel Dewberry, but I think the pieces turned out pretty darned cute anyways, and Katja commented on how “moveable” the clothes are (if you can’t do cartwheels in an outfit, it’s pretty much useless as far as she’s concerned).

06 Nov

Polka Dots and Bugs

I bought some really wonderfully soft plum colored stretch velour and coordinating turquoise pinwale corduroy with plummy paislies when I was at Kreativ Welt. I hope to make a cute outfit or two for Katja with them. Only problem (other than waiting a few days for the fabulous Antonia shirt pattern to use with the new fabric)? I still have a pile of deep pink/red jersey with white polka dots that was gifted to me before summer. I have been meaning to make something cute for Katja out of it as well and even have the pattern already (Xenia and pants from Neue Mode 55457).

The kids were both out of the house early today and we didn’t have any appointments this afternoon, so I spent most of the day in front of the sewing machine. I’m feeling really good about the piles now.

New pants for K

The skirt is separate, so she can wear the pants under the Xenia dress without extra bulk, but also have this cute look when she wants. The trim on the bottom of the pants? Farbenmix as well.

Ribbon trim on the pants

And here’s another use for the cute bug ribbon (oh, we have plans for the dress — just wait and see):

Skirt side detail

Hopefully, I can keep up this momentum and finish the dress as well as the items with the new fabric so that I don’t just replace a polka dotted pile with a plum velour pile. 😉

Oh, and this weekend is going to be a retreat with my hand sewing friends (except that I think we are all bringing our sewing machines). I am hoping to get a start (if not real progress) on my Guild Challenge quilt which will also be an actual, utilitarian, bed quilt for the grownups in our house! Woo hoo!