A Work in Progress

My current major quilting project is a commissioned bed-quilt. My client is reasonably local, so we have met several times. I have been to her house to get a feel for the ambiance and her color pallet and she visited me to look at my quilts and tell me what she liked. She wants something traditional and geometrical in purple, magenta, orange and turquoise, and was drawn to my Feathered Star quilts. We decided on a large 28″ Radiant Feathered Star for the center of the quilt with a 9″ compass in the middle.

I fussy-cut the Paula Nadelstern fabric for the star arms. As shown in the photo on the right, the triangles making the feathers are foundation paper pieced and are in a color gradation of oranges. Next, I made four 16″ diamond star blocks, strip-pieced with fussy-cut center diamonds from the same Paula Nadelstern fabric.

I’m now working on four compass blocks and have completed two of them. These are 14″ compasses with 32 points. For these, I am using Robin Long’s strip-piecing method and special ruler. Her technique is really slick and very accurate. It took me about eight hours to make this compass including hand-appliqueing the center circle. Check out Robin’s website. Once all the compasses are finished, I will work out how to put it all together and will be adding smaller Ohio Star blocks between these compass and diamond star blocks. The finished quilt will be in the 80-85″ square size range. In two or three months, I hope I’ll be posting a picture of it!

 

 

Quilt: Serenade for Anne and Denise

I’ve recently completed a quilt that I’ve been working on for a few months, just in time to take it to Italy to give as a gift for dear friends who moved there in April. I’m so excited about going to visit them and the quilt is a surprise. By the time this blog posts, I will be in Italy. This busy design includes very personalized fabric choices. Anne is an accomplished musician and Denise is an electrical engineer. There’s beer for Denise and prosecco for Anne. The grand pianos and piano keys are a major feature along with the flowers for these avid gardeners.

The large flowers are the new ones in Italy, (Anne and Denise and the flowers they will plant) and the small classical flowers are the Italian ones. Here’s a closer shot for more details. They love cats and have one which traveled with them from US to Italy. After completing the quilt, I realized that I omitted any reference to their sporting allegiances, so I added the Seattle Mariners compass, appliqued on and visible close to the center of this picture. The Seattle Seahawks label appears on the back of the quilt (see below).

In this picture it is a little easier to see the three different blocks in the quilt: Snowball, Jacob’s Ladder and Shoo-fly. The detailed shots below show the corner blocks in which I used technology fabric for Denise. Denise generously gave many hours of her time to completing all kinds of technical projects at our church, St. Barnabas Episcopal Church on Bainbridge Island. She made tremendous improvements to the lighting, so the fabric with light bulbs seemed most appropriate. The shots also nicely illustrate the grand pianos. One of my students brought some of this grand piano fabric to my Bargello Quilts with a Twist workshop and fussy-cut the pianos for her blocks. They looked great and I loved the fabric, so I found it on-line and ordered it for this quilt.

I long-arm machine quilted the quilt with the help of my good friend Wanda Rains, using her long-arm machine. Wanda helped me with the set-up on the machine and advancing the quilt after each pass of stitching. I quilted in a watery meander pattern. The back of the quilt is yellow and sunny; sunshine and water to nurture these new flowers in Italy.

 

Fussy Cut Wonders

Last week my blog featured a quilter, Ann Trujillo, whose beautiful quilts were show-cased in a special exhibit at our Kitsap Quilters’ Guild show. Two more quilts displayed at the show and illustrated here were also made by Ann, who thrives on complex, detailed projects. Millefiori-style quilts have become popular recently. Their amazing kaleidoscopic designs are made up of several English paper piecing shapes in which the fabric is often fussy cut to create spectacular results. When fabric is fussy cut, a particular motif or section of pattern is selected for the patchwork piece. Repeated identical pieces used in stars, hexagons, or other shapes generate wonderful patterns. Millefiori (Italian: [milleˈfjoːri]) is defined as a glasswork technique which produces distinctive decorative patterns on glassware. The term millefiori is a combination of the Italian words “mille” (thousand) and “fiori” (flowers).

This quilt, Dance of the Dragonflies, took Ann a year to hand-piece and was quilted by Marybeth O’Halloran. The quilt is stunning from a distance, (the overall photo doesn’t do it justice as it was located in a dark spot), but there is so much more when you get up close to look at the all the detailed work. The designs formed by the combinations of the fabrics, many with fussy-cut motifs, are awesome. The pattern came from the book, New Hexagons, by Katje Marek and Ann was inspired by another guild member, Andrea Rudman, who was piecing beautiful sections and started a small group of quilters who met to share this passion.

Remembering Donna, was made by Ann to honor one of our guild’s founding members, Donna Endresen, who passed away last year and is missed by us all. Donna loved reproduction fabrics and loved flowers. Take a look at the two fabrics and note that all the centers of the hexi flowers were fussy cut from the blue fabric and all the background fabrics in between the stars were cut from the beige material. It’s beautiful.

Ann used the pattern, Garden of Fortgetfulness, to make this quilt and it was quilted by Gladys Schulz.

 

Rag Rug

Here’s a way to deplete your stash using up fabrics that have been sitting around for a while. This is my almost completed rag-rug made from 2” strips of batik fabrics.

I use Aunt Philly’s toothbrush needle which is more ergonomically friendly on the wrists than trying to make a fabric rug with a large crotchet hook. You can see the blue plastic needle in the picture. These were originally made from toothbrushes in the days when toothbrushes had holes in the handles. The head of the toothbrush was removed and filed into a point. About 20 years ago, toothbrush manufacturers started making fancy handles and dispensed with the hole, so Aunt Philly now makes these needles. Check out her website for more information. This is a fun fireside project that doesn’t require much effort and can be done in low lighting while watching TV. I made one last year and gave it to a friend as a gift. It turned out that her dog absolutely loves it and it became the hanging out and sleeping place of choice!

Lolly’s Fabric Store, Shipshewana, IN

In May, I had the good fortune to visit the Amish town of Shipshewana while staying with a friend prior to teaching at the Village Quilters of Lake Bluff/Lake Forest. This town is a quilter’s Mecca and boasts two enormous stores selling quilting supplies as well as many other selling gorgeous hand-quilted quilts. Here’s a pictorial tour of Lolly’s Fabric Store. This is a beautiful, well-lit store carrying around 13,000 bolts of fabric, quilting tools, book and patterns. Look at the wonderful quilt samples hanging on the walls too.

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As you can see, this store is well-worth visiting and you will find a wealth of enjoyable places in Shipshewana, the heart of Indiana Amish country.

 

 

The Sewing Basket, Prosser, WA

My third stop on the way to Walla Walla, was at The Sewing Basket Quilt Store in the small town of Prosser, just off Interstate 82 between Yakima and the Tri-cities. If you only have time for one store, this is it. Here’s a little tour around this amazing place which boasts carrying in excess of 11.000 bolts of fabric!

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From the outside, it looks like a small shop, but in that little house there are several rooms filled from floor to ceiling with fabric including one devoted to flannels. Next door is the Quilted Country Inn, where as many as a dozen quilters can stay for quilting retreats.

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After perusing the rabbit warren of small rooms stacked with fabric in the little house, you can go out of the back door and follow the path to another building with an enormous room full of more fabric! There’s a huge wall of batiks, shelves and shelves of Christmas fabric, theme fabrics, 30’s and 40’s fabrics, Civil War fabrics and more. The floor even has Flying Geese and Star patterns in the tiles.

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There are many fun theme fabrics. The bacon and eggs caught my eye, along with the chickens and cows. When you plan to visit this place, allow plenty of time!

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Owner, Marilyn Dulstra, knows exactly where everything is, so if you can describe a fabric you would like, she will direct you to the right location. They are about to expand even more! In the past, they have held classes in the Quilted Country Inn, but this has now become so booked up, that there aren’t times when the space is available. They are about to acquire another building where they can have a gallery to display quilts and a classroom. I’m hoping to go back there to teach.

 

 

The Quilter’s Cafe, Yakima, WA

Last weekend I drove to Walla Walla to teach at the Walla Walla Valley Quilters’ Guild. I had all day to get there, so made some stops along the way. Who knew, there are five quilting shops in Yakima! I went to two of them and here’s a virtual tour of the first that I visited, The Quilter’s Cafe, which is located at 910 Summitview Avenue, Suite 1A. Here’s the outside and an attempt at a selfie picture of me with the owner, Linda Sutton.

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The store sells a good variety of quilting fabric, notions, embroidery supplies, books and patterns. They are Bernina dealers and Linda’s husband, Mike, services and repairs machines. In the back area there is a long-arm quilting machine which is available for rental after clients have completed a couple of training sessions.

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The store is spacious and light. They run classes, have free sew-in days and host the local hand-embroiderers group. It is well worth stopping by if you are in the vicinity. Linda gave me a warm welcome and I enjoyed looking round.

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The magic of Color Catchers

I made this large Bargello block quilt for my nephew and there was almost a catastrophe.

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On my way to quilt it on my friend’s long-arm quilting machine, my water bottle tipped and spilled slightly onto the quilt. When I got to my destination, I discovered to my horror that the red dye from the small red squares had bled. This should not have happened – all the fabrics were pre-washed before I pieced the quilt and the dyes should have been stable.

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We dried the quilt top by ironing it and decided to go ahead and quilt it. After quilting and adding the binding, I washed the quilt. Color Catcher to the rescue!

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The Color Catcher is a white sheet that goes into the washing machine with the laundry load. It traps the loose dyes that are released during the washing cycle. As you can see, it worked its magic when I washed the quilt. The red that had bled onto the surrounding fabrics was released and gathered up by the sheet, which changed color from white to dark pink. Color catchers come in boxes of 24 and are available at grocery stores.