make something, Piecing Makeover, quilt, quilting, quilts

Please, Enter a Contest

I know I write and sing the praises of perfecting technique. I think it’s important and I’ve seen far too many quilters give up because of issues they couldn’t navigate. And it’s not that you have to be perfect with your piecing (except me, I admit I have a problem) but because it’s important to know how to trouble shoot and solve problems. I also think if you know how to do something correctly, then you gain the freedom to figure out other ways to achieve your desired end product, either correctly or not; AND that gives you a greater depth of knowledge if your wonky way works, or doesn’t.

That being said, I also think you should put your work, perfect or not,  in shows from time to time.

Seriously.

Judged, juried, judged and juried. I know it’s fairly intimidating to enter a quilt into a show. No one wants to have a quilt rejected from a show OR read negative feedback regarding their work. Heck, I submitted a quilt into Paducah and was nervous they wouldn’t accept it. I was also anxious to read judges comments about my quilt. BUT it’s important to get feedback away from your echo chamber and get new eyes on your work. If you want to improve your quilts, one of the best ways to do it is to get constructive criticism. Even if it’s tough to stomach.

It’s an honor to be juried into a show, and my quilt going to Paducah was no exception. I love my quilt, and AQS liked it enough to have it juried into the show. Big applause, right? My quilt didn’t get any ribbons though, so naturally I wondered what was wrong with it in the eyes of the judges.

When my quilt was returned last week I TORE into the box to see the comments. WHAT DID THE JUDGES SAY ABOUT MY QUILT?

IMG_3471

You can read the comments above but what it came down to was aesthetics. Some of the design elements of my quilt didn’t appeal to the judges and THAT IS OKAY.  I like my quilt as it is, and I appreciate the the judges offering their feedback.  While this quilt won’t EVER get changed, and I love it the way it is, the comments give me design options to consider in the future.

Will I ever make this quilt again? Probably not. Will I ever have dense border with some kind of intricate piecing? I’m not sure. But if I do, I have points to ponder from an aesthetic standpoint and if I know how to make the pieces fit together (see paragraph 1), then I (or you) have the ability to make your vision a reality. Possibly without a world of frustration, too.

Happy Piecing!

family, friends, quilt, quilt block, quilting, quilts

All Squared Up – January Blues edition

Like many quilts, this one has a story. It began in November of 1974. I was 3 months old. We lived in a new subdivision in a suburb of Atlanta, and had neighbors with 2 small children. The youngest was 6 months old at the time. We grew up together and were the best of friends.

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Then we moved to Charlotte.

As luck would have it, though, my grandparents still lived in Atlanta so when we’d come to visit, I’d always have a spend the night with my friend. She even came to visit a full week one summer – brought her bike and everything – it was the best week ever!

Fast forward to 1987 when moved back to Atlanta. My friend and I were still in contact, and getting together was far easier now that we were geographically convenient to one another. We would talk for hours on the phone since we were thirteen and there were no long distance fees to pay. There was always a reason to get together, be it an afternoon, evening, or a night. I think it helped that our parents were friends.

I have fond memories of my friend and her family celebrating holidays together. They’d celebrate Christmas with us, and we’d celebrate Rosh Hashanah with them. Thanksgivings at my house, and 4th of July’s on a boat. Birthdays, weddings (me as her maid of honor and her as my matron of honor) and yes, even funerals.

We lived together our freshman year of college, and were just a few doors from each other in apartments in our early twenties….a half mile from each other mid-twenties….see? She was always around, and has always been an important part of my life.

Until she moved across the country. I didn’t realize how sad it would make me until she wasn’t around. It’s been 5 years.

Her son turned 13 almost 2 years ago. He had a Bar Mitzvah in Israel. I was invited to go, but couldn’t swing the expense. I’ve been wanting to make a quilt for him, but hadn’t found (made) the time. I wanted something appropriate for a young man, and, I’ll be honest, nothing really inspired me. Plus the book was just out….I was going in too many directions.

So, when I saw this Libs Elliot fabric I fell in love and immediately knew what I wanted to make! This pattern, All Squared Up, was designed for Intown Quilters when the shop was featured in American Patchwork and Quilting Shop Sampler magazine in spring 2007. I’ve added the scrappy inner border since, but everything else is the same. Skulls seem appropriate for a boy, and I felt much better when my husband told me this was one of his favorite quilts that I’ve made – and he’s seen a lot of quilts.

 

I know how lucky I am to have had a friend for (almost) 44 years. It’s rare, and it’s extremely special.  Next step, off to get quilted, then send it to Seattle. I hope you like, H! Much, much love….

 

Measures 64.5″ x 80″

pieced with 50 weight Cotton + Steel by Sulky

family, featured, holiday, make something, quilting, quilts

Let’s Talk About Big Stitch Quilting

I was introduced to big stitch quilting in 1993. Maybe 1994? It’s been a while and I can’t quite remember the exact date.  25 years and all. Anyhow, I was working at a quilt shop during my summers home from school, and a woman that taught classes there used big stitch quilting for a lot of her quilts. It was new to me. I’d never seen it. I’d only seen teeny, weeny hand stitching – all very traditional (and lovely) – and I immediately fell in love! I thought it was the coolest way to quilt.

Ever.

I mean, tiny stitches are great but who needs 11 or 12 stitches an inch (and I most definitely couldn’t do that when I started!) when I can get away with 4 or 5, right? Besides it’s so much faster.

The first time I made a quilt with big stitch quilting was for a Christmas gift for my Dad. I used reproduction Smithsonian prints (very masculine and I still love those fabrics) and a 12 weight cream colored perle cotton. I probably (details are fuzzy here since it’s been a while) struggled to get the thread into the needle because I didn’t know to use a needle with a bigger eye. I have vague memories of fighting with a needle threader?? Nevertheless, I somehow managed to make it happen.

And I was so proud.

And I showed my quilt to said friend and she (very kindly) gave me a lesson.

IMG_1907

BIG STITCH QUILTING MEANS THE STITCHES ARE BIGGER. NOT ENORMOUS.

If in an ideal world of hand quilting you get 11 or so stitches in an inch of quilting, you should have less with big stitch quilting; meaning your stitches are bigg-er. 

Yeah.  So that sank in for a bit. My stitches were HUGE.  I ruined my Dad’s quilt. dang it!

So, while I was a little brokenhearted about that – you know, messing it all up (even though the quilt isn’t messed up it just has really. big. stitches), I took it as a lesson to learn about this new art I was exploring and went on my way. My Dad was (and still is) none the wiser, and loved his gift. He and Mom still have it over a railing in their house. I had to text mom for photos, in fact. 🙂

To be honest, I didn’t use big stitch quilting on another quilt for a while. I was afraid I’d mess it up. Again. That was DEFINITELY a mistake. Mess up. Learn. Move forward.

So, moving right along through the next decade or two, I would occasionally pick up big stitch quilting again, always careful to make my stitches bigger but not ridiculous.

The most recent (ahem, I say recent loosely) projects are baby quilts. One for my youngest son (he’s almost 8) and another for a friend that just had her first baby.

See how the stitches in the left photo are really big? They shouldn’t be quite so large. Remember, they need to be bigger than traditional hand quilting but not HUGE. You can see 25 years of progress in the right hand photo. Big stitch quilting should be closer to this. Bigg-er than traditional hand quilting stitches.

When you first start, your stitches won’t be small. Even big stitch quilting. That is okay. Keep practicing until you find your rhythm. You will get there. Promise!

Do:

•Use a 12 weight perle cotton. You can use a slightly thinner or thicker thread, but I have found it’s a good weight for big stitch quilting.
•Use a longer needle with a larger eye. I like to use a sashiko needle, but there are big stitch needles in a variety of sizes. Buy a few and experiment
•Remember that you want your thread to fill the hole in the needle (or close to it). If the opening is too large, your thread will fray and eventually break.
•Practice, practice, practice!

Don’t:
Get discouraged. My first big stitch quilt had ENORMOUS stitches. It’s okay.

Remember:

•Handmade isn’t always perfect.
•Handmade has mistakes.
•Handmade with love is better than anything you can buy. Imperfections and all.

featured, Piecing Makeover, quilt, quilt block, quilting, quilts, sewing

Mimi’s Modern Flower Garden

As usual, I started this with just a concept in my head. For the most part it worked. Until I got to the borders. Then it got tricky.

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And that’s saying something since the borders are just kinda borders, right?

Well, now they are.

If I actually sat down and drew out a plan (either on paper or my computer), I would have seen that extending the hexagons into the borders wasn’t going to work. At least not with this size hexie I was using. I mean, it would have been really cool, and it’s something I might use in the future.

You know, when I have the math all sorted.

After I had the center pieced, and had attached the inner border (which took much longer than expected because I had to variegate it), then I got to move on to the outer borders.

Originally my plan was to extend the hexagons from the center to the outside, but, like I said a few paragraphs ago, it didn’t work because I couldn’t make the corners fit.

bad corner web

See? I’d have to chop off too much of a hexie.

I also wish I’d realized that BEFORE I put on the top border.

top border web

It looked awful because I couldn’t halve the hexagons along the top – I had to have a hexagon at the corners – but I was not going to have ANY of that.

border test

I tried a few different things like having a grey variegated border, but I wasn’t a huge fan of that either.

So, after fussing for a few days.

Daaaayyysss, y’all, daaayyysss….

I decided to get a print that reads as a solid and call it a day.

My hope is that when I (or someone else) quilts it, the borders will have some fun thread work. Perhaps I’ll have the quilting follow the color pattern of the quilt, going from red to pink to purple to blue to green.

Maybe.

I should probably make a plan for that before I start.

book, quilt, quilting, quilts

Adventures in Hexagons Blog Book Tour

I’ve had my eye on Emily’s book for some time now and when I saw that her blog book tour was kicking off, I really wanted to be a part of it. Hexagons have been en vogue for some time now, and personally, I’m fascinated with all the great quilts that can be made from one shape. Hexagons are so versatile, incredibly fun, and really create dynamic, beautiful quilts.

Adventuresinhexagonscover

I’ve made one hexagon quilt (you can see it in the header image on my home page). I wish I could say I’ve made more, and will fess up to the fact that the only other EPP quilt I started to make (ahem) 8 years ago is still an unassembled mess of little hexagon shapes sitting in a box. I will get back to it, but I digress.

There are so many things that I like about this book. Emily includes instructions to machine piece AND English Paper Piece each quilt in her book so quilters have great versatility depending on comfort level, which method they prefer, etc. You can even mix methods if you are feeling wild! I like to machine piece, which explains the unfinished adventure in EPP from 8 years ago, but many of her tips and ideas work for BOTH methods, so you either way you win.

11177 Breclaw S'17

Confetti in Times Square (above) and Superstar (below) are my favorites! I love the elegant simplicity of Confetti in Times Square and in Superstar, I see something new every time I look at the quilt.

11177 Breclaw S'17

Right off the bat, I was learning things, like the difference between a rosette and a sprocket (page 4). I didn’t even know there were names for differently pieced hexagon shapes. And I like that there are quilt shapes called sprockets. I smile when I say sprocket.  Emily offers some great tips about measuring hexagons, kites, triangles, and other shapes, but my favorite tips show you how to string EPP pieces together, tie knots (much better method what I’ve done in the past), and how to cut shapes using strip piecing. It’s absolutely brilliant!

I also like how Emily discusses pressing the hexagon units. I use the same method, more or less based on the fabrics, and furling my pieces, but her rule of thumb is going to stick in my head for eternity. And that’s a good thing. It’ll stick in your head as well.

If you’ve been wanting to try your hand at making a hexagon quilt, this book is for you! If you comment on my blog you will have TWO chances to win. I will randomly pick 2 winners using random.org. One of you will get a copy of Emily’s book, and the other will get a copy of my book (continental US, only).

Be sure to check out all the blogs on the tour below. They each have some great giveaways!

July 24- C&T Publishing www.ctpub.com

July 25- Generation Q Magazine http://generationqmagazine.com/

July 27- Marti Michell https://www.frommarti.com/

July 28-Clothworks Fabrics www.clothworks.com

July 29- Cathi Godwin, https://quiltobsession.blog/

July 30- Paper Pieces , www.paperpieces.com

August  1- Mary Huey, http://maryhueyquilts.blogspot.com/

August 2- Linda Franz, www.inklingo.com

August 3- Patty Murphy, https://pattymurphyhandmade.com (you’re here)

August 4- Cheryl Sleboda, www.Muppin.com

August 5- Wendy Sheppard, https://ivoryspring.wordpress.com/

August 6- Emily Breclaw, www.thecaffeinatedquilter.com

*C&T will send a hard copy to winners in the continental US and will send an electronic version to winners overseas.

book, featured, Piecing Makeover, quilt, quilting, quilts, sewing, Uncategorized

Piecing Makeover Blog Book Tour + Giveaway

What a week it’s been! Wow! Thanks for all the love, y’all! The week was such a success and I couldn’t have done it without C&T Publishing, AnneMarie, Jodie, Teri at GenQ, Sandi, Mary, and Kristin. Really big thanks to each of you!

My biggest tip to share is to ask for help. I mean – How easy is that!? Seriously, though. When I first started to quilt I always asked my mom but not everyone has a mom that sews, or is near. However,  if you are fortunate enough, your local quilt shop has staff on hand to help you work through your problems. Yes, it means another trip out, and you might come home with more fabric but getting inspired while getting help is fun! And I promise they LOVE to help figure out your quilting problems! If the shop can’t help, they will find someone that can. Honest.

If you don’t have a quilt shop near you, go online to see if you can find the answer to your problem, or send a message to a quilter via a blog or read a book – perhaps, mine?  A little time to noodle on the issue might work for you, too. Don’t be afraid to explore possibilities. And if you are worried about messing up your favorite piece of fabric, experiment with some muslin, or old scraps until you’ve solved your problem.

Most importantly, remember it’s okay to make mistakes. It’s how we learn. I have quilts riddled with errors and almost every quilt I make throws me for a loop at some point or another – I really should plan more! But I’ve learned a lot. Some of my (ahem) older friends have been a valuable source of knowledge, too.

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C&T is giving away one copy at each stop along the way and today is your last chance to win a copy of Piecing Makeover  for yourself (printed copy in the U.S. and e-book outside the States). Leave a comment on the blog and we will announce the winners tomorrow.

Here’s the list again so you can check to see if you have won on another page. Winners will be chosen at random using random.org number generator.

9/13  AnneMarie Chany http://www.genxquilters.com/
9/15 Teri Lucas/Gen Q Magazine  http://generationqmagazine.com/
9/16 Sandi Hazlewood http://www.craftyplanner.com/
9/18 Kristin Esser https://kristinesser.com/
Happy piecing, everyone!

*edited on 9/20 – Congratulations to Sally for winning a copy of Piecing Makeover!

quilt, quilting, quilts, Uncategorized

Evolution of a Quilt

It started out rather simply. I had a plan, sketched it out, dug through my stash then bought more fabric. Execute. Right? Well, it went that way until it was time to make said quilt.

It was a cool diamond and hexie quilt with an interwoven lattice. I decided to make the diamonds large, so I could piece the top faster. Unfortunately, I made them too large, and by the time I finished I had 20 diamonds that were 20″ from point to point on the long side, meaning my quilt would have covered the living room floor. No bueno.

So began the task of moving around my pieces and figuring out how in the world I could turn what I’d made into a really fantastic quilt. I was frustrated and thought I’d spent a lot of time and money on a quilt that wasn’t going to happen. And, among other things, I knew I didn’t need more random quilt blocks on my studio floor. After several failed iterations on my design wall, I put the diamonds next to each other.

I paused.

I looked at it.

I liked it.

I waited.

I looked more.

I still liked it.

And so began the evolution of this quilt. img_8580

I’m tackling the borders today because, as one might guess, I changed my mind on them and this quilt will go into another evolution.

 

quilt, quilting, quilts, sewing, Uncategorized

Quilts for …..

Last week we woke up to an unspeakable tragedy, and as usual, quilters jumped right in to help. I was compelled to make few block to send to the Orlando Modern Quilt Guild, along with some binding, and then a friend asked me why I was doing it. Why am I sending blocks?

pulse web

You know, when you are asked a question like that, it kinda makes you think. Why was I doing it? What would compel a person to send blocks and supplies for quilts to people I don’t even know? The answer is simple: LOVE.

Steven Colbert coined it perfectly when he said “Love is a Verb and to Love is to Do”. And that’s what quilters do. This is how we band together for the greater good. In a time of tragedy, any tragedy, not just Orlando, this is how we can show strangers that we care. Think about it. To receive a quilt, a handmade gift always associated with love and kindness and warmth is truly a gift for people during a trying time. When one might be angry, or full of despair, or any other range of emotions, getting literally get wrapped in warmth and love is a great way to help people find comfort. Even if they are strangers.

So that’s why we do it. We can. We can do something good to help others.

Even if it’s only a quilt.

Uncategorized

Kaffe Mini Swap

A friend of mine put together a Kaffe Fassett Mini Swap in July. I’m a huge lover of Kaffe fabrics so, of course, I had to participate! As usual, I waited until the last minute. I swear I do better work when I’m under pressure. Others may call me a procrastinator but I think my creativity soars and things just come together.

I sent this yesterday to parts far North of here. I hope the person that gets it is happy.

I have to admit, I was kind of sad not to keep this for myself.

mini swap

quilt, quilting, quilts

Vintage Quilt Goes Kaffe

I am slowly making progress on the vintage quilt that I am recreating in Kaffe Fassett fabrics. You can see it here. I’m pretty excited about how it is coming together, too.

The quilt is basically 9-Patch blocks, Half-Square Triangles and squares. Once the hst’s are pieced the blocks go together quickly. woot!

9patchweb

progress web

The blocks are set on point and finish at something like 14”. Lucky for me I’m making the quilt a square. I have 2 more blocks pieced but not on my design wall yet. 9 more to go. yay!