28 Sep

Too Many Quilts (6)

I’ve gotten lots of questions about my sale quilts — mostly about which others will also be for sale. So, without further ado, here are the quilts I am price cutting:

hansel-u-gretel-web

Hansel und Gretel (link to it’s own blog post HERE).

 

juni-web-lg

Juni im Rhein Neckar Kreis (link to it’s own blog post HERE). SOLD

 

fliegenpilz-i-web

Fliegenpilz I. Named after the red and white mushrooms the polka dot fabric suggests, this is yet another quilt in my Impressions of Germany series. It’s machine pieced mostly of cottons, but with a few interesting bits thrown in for texture. The work is machine quilted with hand stitched details.  At 33.5″ x 51.5” it’s made to be a wall quilt, but I think it could be fine for a lap or small child as well. I’m offering this quilt for $200, mailing included, anywhere in the US.  SOLDfliegenpilz-i-detail

Fliegenpilz I detail.

 

bauer-9-patch

This last quilt is an early one — I made it in 1997 before I discovered “art quilting.” The center is a vintage flour sack. The surrounding 9-patch blocks are reproduction fabrics. The colors coordinate with my collection of Bauer pottery. I still have most of the collection, but no longer want to use a quilt in my accompanying decor. This one is hand quilted (as were many of my early quilts) and also priced at $200, mailing included. It’s 43.25″ x 52.”

That’s it. Everything else is either sentimental, useful, or just too horrible to be seen in public! Thanks. Paypal only. Email me at umzavi(at)hotmail.com if you are interested.

 

24 Apr

Just Checking in

So often it’s hard to blog because I’m just not sure what to blog about. For lack of any finished projects or deep thoughts, here’s a random sampling of what’s going on in my world right now.

There’s been a lot of work on our house projects, both by me and my mom and by hired pros, but nothing is quite finished yet.

Bathroom Vanity

Bathroom Vanity in progress: pro built, stained by me, I added hardware, waiting on a countertop and plumbing.

I took a block printing workshop with Valori Wells yesterday (through the Portland Modern Quilt Guild) which was lots of fun and jump started my thinking about fabric designs again.

Block Printing

I’m super happy with how these designs turned out — both from a printing standpoint, and a design standpoint.

I’m plugging away at several stitchy projects…

Project Chair

Hand stitching at the ready for quiet evenings.

… which have taken over and made more of a mess than anything else!

Project Table

Lots of work in progress on my studio table and sewing machine. Nothing worth showing yet though.

Work at The Pine Needle is excellent, and I’ve got some behind the scenes projects I’m working on with the team in preparation of summer shop hops and our Fall catalog.

The Pine Needle

This is where I work — surrounded by a wide variety of gorgeous fabrics. That yellow, teal, and maroon whirligig sample in the middle of the photo is one I made. I’m working on an asian-inspired version now.

I hope you all are knee deep in fulfilling projects too; every little bit counts, even if doesn’t seem very blog- or Instagram-worthy.

09 Feb

Improv Handbook: The Process

Last year I volunteered to be a test quilter for Sherri Lynn Wood’s upcoming book The Improv Handbook (it will debut at QuiltCon and be available through Amazon on March 17th). What appealed to me in Sherri’s proposal was that the book would not have specific how-to patterns, but would inspire makers to create their own designs based on inspirational “scores.” Examples in the book were to be in a range of styles and experience levels. Ultimately, my quilt did not make it into the book, but I thoroughly enjoyed making it — and only wish I had had more time to commit to the process because the more I worked on the score, the more options emerged. I could have easily made three quilts from the ideas that were spurred by the prompts in the Flying Geese score I was assigned.

So, here’s a glimpse of how I made my quilt “Nene” (named for the state bird of Hawai’i which happens to be a type of goose).
The begining
I chose fabrics based on a favorite painting in the room where I was likely to use the quilt.

Kunia Painting

 

 

Sewing a Flying Geese block
Then I made a bunch of flying Geese blocks (without measuring or using rulers).

 

Flying Geese block
What if I stretched out the proportions?

 

Improvisational Flying Geese
What if I “outlined” the geese? I really wish I had made a bunch more of these. As I ran out of time, I wanted to make a whole quilt with just this style block.

 

Flying Geese blocks
I made lots of geese.

 

Improv Flying Geese blocks
I made so many that I had lots of leftovers.

 

"Nene" in progress
I started out thinking I might make an abstracted version of the landscape in the painting.

 

Improv Dutchman's Puzzle block
But I made some Dutchman’s Puzzle blocks and liked where that was going.

 

"Nene" quilt in progress
They looked pretty good alternating with solid color blocks. That might be too tame though.

 

"Nene" quilt
Ultimately my quilt became something between the two ideas. Clusters of more complicated blocks, surrounded by larger swaths of fabric, vaguely reminiscent of a landscape.

 

Untitled
“Nene” detail.

I have not seen The Improv Handbook yet, but based on my experience as a test quilter, I am very much looking forward to seeing the final product. I wish Sherri all the best and hope that her book is a smash hit at QuiltCon!

improvhandbook-button205

14 Nov

Houston Quilt Festival 2014 (part 2)

I took a lot of photos of quilts that were interesting to me in one way or another. They are not particularly good photos, so part of me feels like I am doing a disservice to the makers of those quilts. On the other hand, I know that those who can’t make it to a particular show often enjoy seeing even a part of it vicariously through those who did go. I know that I’m often that person. So, here’s a completely subjective, not at all cohesive or inclusive, handful of quilts that I enjoyed seeing at the Quilt Festival in Houston.

The big draw is IQF’s annual World of Beauty show. It’s the one with the big prizes and about a million categories. The big prize winners were impressive as always and can be seen on IQF’s website. Overall, I tended to like the second place winners best.

Growth by Maria Elkins
Growth by Maria Elkins. I just loved the ovoid shapes and the way the colors gradate from pastel to jewel and the background from dark grey to white. It’s a refreshing change from the currently popular rainbow method of organizing color. I don’t remember which category this was in.

 

GMOs Gone Wild by Betsy Brandt-Kreutz
GMOs Gone Wild by Betsy Brandt-Kreutz in the Art-Abstract, Small, category attracted me with it’s wild milifiori look. We decided that it was definitely a commitment to a look, and I have to respect that conviction. This may have been in the Embellished category. I like that too — embellished but without the usual glitz.

 

Eight Branchlets by Janet Steadman
Eight Branchlets by Janet Steadman. I think this was in the Art Quilt, small, category. I really liked the crafts(wo)manship on this. Also, it’s just plain lovely.

 

The Messenger by Marlene Shae
I found The Messenger by Marlene Shae in the Whimsical category to be utterly enchanting. I love the somewhat folkloric style of the illustration and the fabric choices. I’d love to see an entire book illustrated with quilts like this.

 

Shared Destiny by Patricia Kennedy-Zafred
Shared Destiny by Patricia Kennedy-Zafred was my favorite in the digital imagery category. There were a few variations on this multiple versions of a single image theme, but I think one was done the best. I appreciate that the ground fabric is patterned and I like the insertion of contrasting fabrics within each image as well as the addition of Flying Geese motifs.

Shared Destiny by Patricia Kennedy-Zafred (detail)
Shared Destiny, detail

 

Towers and Spires by Paula Tanner
Towers and Spires by Paula Tanner used miles of satin stitch in an interesting way. This also may have been in the Embellished category.

Towers and Spires by Paula Tanner (detail)
Towers and Spires, detail

 

Hudson Trader by Coleen Wise
Hudson Trader by Coleen Wise. You can’t go wrong with blue and white. I like how this one seems pretty traditional and basic at first glance, but then you notice the illusion of the spheres and the subtle changes in their size and it just becomes sublime. Well, to me at least.

 

Somewhat, but not too surprisingly, I absolutely loved the exhibit of 500 Traditional Quilts. There was no photography allowed, so I have nothing to share. There is wonderful, inspiring, and varied work in the collection though so I may have to buy the catalog (along with the catalog for the Walsh collection we saw at the Quilt Museum in La Grange).

 

Another special exhibit that is always a favorite of mine is Tactile Architecture.

Rooflines #8 by Colleen Kole
Rooflines #8 by Colleen Kole is to me a perfect combination of quiltiness and implied imagery. It’s also influenced by both the quilts of Gee’s Bend and Nancy Crow/Lisa Call, but too derivative.

 

Rooflines #2 by Colleen Kole
No surprise that her other entry, Rooflines #2, appealed to me too. This one is more derivative of the School of Nancy Crow/Lisa Call, but appropriate and well executed and therefore no less appealing to me.

 

Bedolina Threads by Maggie Vanderweit
And for something completely different, I loved the stitchiness of Bedolina Threads by Maggie Vanderweit.

 

I couldn’t enter Zeitgeist into the World of Beauty show because I paid for it to be long-arm quilted (entries by more than one person must be collaboration — no work for hire), so I submitted it to the Modern Quilt Showcase for another stab at it being seen in Houston. It was rejected, and so I was curious to see what quilts were ultimately chosen. As I suspected, my cat would not have fit in the exhibit because though it might appeal to a “modern” audience, it does not exemplify Modern quilting. I did enjoy seeing what does exemplify the movement though. Two of my favorites:

Entropy by Elisa Albury
Entropy by Elisa Albury

City Center by Angie Henderson
City Center by Angie Henderson

 

The pursuit of Happiness by Robin Felton
The Farm to Table special exhibit was also predominantly Modern in it’s aesthetic. I just loved The Pursuit of Happiness by Robin Felton for it’s bold simplicity and nod to both furrows and flag.

 

Finally, these cheerful mola-style dogs kept jumping out at me from the It’s Raining Cats and Dogs exhibit.

Los Perros de Panama by Kathleen Kennedy-Dennis
Los Perros de Panama by Kathleen Kennedy-Dennis

09 Dec

Inspired

Just because someone’s quilt style is different than your own, it doesn’t mean they can’t inspire you. I started following Tonya Ricucci’s blog years ago, and though her color palette is far brighter than mine and I think she considers herself a fairly traditional quilter whereas I call myself an art quilter, I have found her work to be totally inspiring.

First it was strings, which kept linking to Tonya’s friend Bonnie’s blog and then led me to make a String Lonestar quilt. Now Tonya’s making one and it looks like it will be awesome.

Now I’m hooked on making a medallion quilt inspired by this.

Somewhere in the middle, I had to get on Tonya’s letter bandwagon too. Which, is what this post is all about.

Pieced Letter Pillows

Inspired by her word quilts, I made pillows. My four letter words are house-related though. Four pillows with four words, each reflecting a place we’ve lived. HOME was a given.

Haus Pillow

Then HAUS for our time spent in Germany (I used some of my German Blaudruck fabric too).

Casa Pillow

CASA is for Arizona and our Southwest beginnings. A little Seminole piecing nods obliquely to the American Indian influence in the west as well.

Hale Pillow

And finally, HALE means house in Hawaiian (note the vintage palm tree fabric too).

I was inspired by Tonya and just ran with it, but for those who like a bit more instruction, she’s written a book!!! When we were at the quilt show in Houston, I had the opportunity to take a look at it. This is definitely one for any piecer’s library. I’m planning on buying it as a reference book for my quilting students who want to try something different, but are still looking for a little hand holding. Tonya explains in words, diagrams and examples how to make letters and words and encourages readers to go with the flow, enjoy the process and make their projects unique and personal. There are fun examples and three projects too. In essence,  Word Play Quilts is inspiring.

08 Jul

Acting Ugly

I’ve had the most confounding experience (stitch-wise) the last few days.

I am planning on teaching a beginning quilting class at my local park again in August. This time, instead of a sampler quilt, we’re going to make three smaller projects. I’m making class samples now.

Ugly + Aqua

While in Spokane, WA for my MIL’s wedding (congratulations lovebirds!), I bought some really ugly fabric that was on sale and screamed for me to take it home and make it sing. Aqua was all it needed. Then I tried grey and white in an uncharacteristic moment of fashionable-ness. I liked both, so I sewed up two table runner tops. No problem.

Ugly + Grey

But when it came time to quilt the first runner, the thread broke. This surprised me because I was using a “golden retriever” thread (a term coined by Superior Thread Bar Tender Cindy for threads that are very easy to use) and quilting in straight lines. I adjusted all my tension options to no avail. Then I changed to a fresher topstitch needle. Nope. I changed spools of thread, and it broke too (so it wasn’t a bad spool). I changed to a smaller, sharper microtex needle. Nope. Then I put in a brand spanking new topstitch (easy on the thread) needle and still the thread broke. I switched to a different type of thread and it broke too. All the while, I was noticing that the needle seemed to be struggling to get through the ugly fabric. I admitted defeat and picked out all my stitching attempts. I figured that the ugly fabric must have been on sale for more than just it’s aesthetic value and re-sandwiched my table runner top with a different backing (since I had so much ugly fabric, and I thought it was so bad it was cool, I used it front and back). I tried stitching the table runner  in cross-wise straight lines, but even with the new backing, the thread broke. Then, I only stitched on the non-ugly fabric parts — and it worked! I got brave and did a little stitching on the borders (ugly fabric) where I could take it out and it would still look OK. It worked and I didn’t have t remove any stitches! One table runner done.

Mod Log Cabin Table Runner

After sleeping on my fabric problem, I had the brilliant idea to put a new back on table runner two and stitch it from the back, hopefully avoiding, in a way, the problematic ugly fabric. I had hoped to stitch in the ditch of my wonky log cabins, extending the lines out into the border, but that wouldn’t work from the back where there’s no lines to follow. Serpentine stitch is quite popular right now, and would look good with the simple piecing, but I really wanted to do something different. Since I was working from the back and couldn’t follow what was going on on the front, I figured I could take that all the way and do something completely in contrast to the piecing. I decided that since the piecing is tweaked traditional, the quilting should be too — simple feathers in a loose arrangement. I had no problems sewing the feathers, but since I’m not a great machine quilter, and my arcs were pretty large, I just wasn’t happy with them. So, I picked them out.

Feather Quilting

Again, I admitted defeat, and opted for the serpentine stitch. I wanted to make sure it was oriented relatively straight on the table runner though. I crossed my fingers and hoped that I could stitch one line from the front and then align the rest off that from the back. Guess what? No problem! So I sewed the next line on the front. No problem. So I completed table runner number two without further incident.

Final Quilting

In the end, I have no idea what was making my thread break. Perhaps it was that two layers of ugly fabric was too much. I considered that it was the batting, but Runner 1 used scraps from a batting I had used successfully on another quilt, and Runner 2 used a completely different batting (which I don’t like, but not for stitchability issues). Perhaps it was some magical combination of the fabric and the angle at which I was stitching it (straight was bad, serpentine or free-motion met the fabric in an acceptable way). Perhaps it was the alignment of the planets and by day two things were back to normal. I don’t know. I do know that I won’t be using the ugly fabric for my other two class samples which are next on my to-do list.

12 Oct

Some Projects

Some people call it Crafter’s ADD, some just call it having a project for whatever frame of mind you might find yourself in. I like the latter.

Right now, I’m thinking deep thoughts about an art quilt/textile series and as a perfect foil, I’m finally making time to work on a quilt for a friend’s two girls. It’s been so much fun to go through my stash and find the perfect fabrics (and allow myself to buy some that I wouldn’t normally purchase). I’ve also been wanting to make a Denise Schmidt style quilt like all the popular girls and this is the perfect project for it.

I also like to have a take-along project. English-pieced hexagons have long been addictive and pentagons and diamonds are no different. These are from a German book called Liesel’s Funfecke, a book which the whole group of ladies I used to sew with every other Friday bought. I’m not sure if anyone else has a Funfecke project underway. Mine goes to taekwondo class several times a week and is growing nicely.

In the background is the pattern for a blouse I made my daughter. I’ve had the fabric at least six months but it wasn’t until I wanted to use it for the girl quilt too that I actually got around to cutting out the pattern pieces. Maybe my girl will model the blouse tomorrow.

I was remiss in my last post — I didn’t include a picture of the pin cushions. I have my excuses, but they’re lame, so please accept a picture a post late. These are what you can find over at Pink Chalk Fabrics in the Downloadable section (click the button in my sidebar to take you straight there):

sweet-shop-cover