Thursday, February 28, 2019

QuiltCon 2019 :: The Classes

Not yet officially home from QuiltCon due to a side-trip to visit family in western Tennessee, I'm sneaking onto the blog to share just a bit about my time at QuiltCon. Know this: it is overwhelming, exciting, affirming, challenging, enlightening, fulfilling.... and so much more. This was my third QuiltCon and it was as great an experience as ever. If you have access to Instagram, I tagged all my related posts there with #aqtquiltcon2019, so you'll at least get a glimpse.

I took just two classes this year. First was an evening one: Planned and Unplanned: Find Your Improv Groove with Melanie Tuazon [melintheattic]. Maybe it was because I'd had an exhausting first day of QuiltCon, but I'm thinking evening classes are more energy than I want to exert in the future. But that said, it was a really good class. Melanie is an excellent teacher, and I really appreciated her planned/unplanned approach to improv. If you're an MQG member, look for her webinar on Planned and Unplanned to explore the concept in more detail. It's kind of how I work anyway, but it's a thoughtful way to approach inprov, and I hope to consider it more intentionally in my future work.

We were to choose a simple block to focus our sewing time on, and I selected an X with a bar top and bottom, similar to a Roman numeral ten. Beings it was only a three-hour class, that didn't leave much room for exploration, so I basically played with scale, and best of all, randomly met my online-friend Carolina! We shared a common introductory QuiltCon conversation, Debbie: "Hi! I think we follow each other on Instagram!" "Yes! We're friends!" replied Carolina. Yup. Only now we've met face to face, which was really wonderful!

I've been known to choose a class purely on who's teaching it, and that was totally the case for my second, all-day class, Improv Theme & Variation with Denyse Schmidt. I lucked out and got to sit and sew next to my Bee Sewcial mates Leanne and Marci, which added to the fun of the day.

Gotta say, meeting Denyse and listening to her talk about modern quilting and improv crossed one off my bucket list. It was surreal spending the day in class with her, and I said so when we were each asked why we took the class/what we wanted to get out of it. Just being and sewing was enough for me!

Again, we began with a traditional block whittled down to its simplest form. I chose the quarter log-cabin block, and worked with a stack of stash oranges and blues. No rulers allowed, by the way!

After making a bunch of blocks, we were to put them up on our design walls.

Leave it to Denyse to come along and mix things up a bit!

If anything, Denyse emphasized scaling up, and we all agreed it totally made a difference. Here's how far I got. I'll see when I get home how I feel about sewing it right up as is or adding to it.

In both classes, teachers left time for all of us to share what we'd done, get feedback, etc. which was really great. I was so glad to see Marci had snapped the shot below of Denyse listening to me explain what I had done in class!

So that's it for the QuiltCon sharing for now. Still plenty more to come as I 'unpack' all the experiences!

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Seattle MQG QuiltCon Charity Quilt: The Last Hurrah!

After the years of serving as Seattle MQG Giving Quilt Co-chair with Louise/@imfeelincrafty, it was pretty awesome to bring our tenure to a close with a quilt we are extremely proud of. Our QuiltCon Charity quilt, with the theme of 'small piecing', was first inspired by a vintage string-pieced star quilt from the collection of our guild president, Matt Macomber/

Once we had the string-pieced diamond shape settled, we needed a quilt design, and leave it to Louse to come up with an awesome one! Below is just a corner of the overall design!

We chose to use all seven colors in the challenge palette, cut 18 yards(!) of fabric into 1" x 6" strips, and while our guild-mates were busy piecing strip-pieced blocks, we ordered 5" x 8" custom diamond-shaped templates from MakeATX, owned by a woman we had a class with at last year's QuiltCon!
[ETA: fabrics consisted of Kona Snow, White, Bahama Blue, Honey Dew, Pansy, Amethyst, and Noble Purple.]

And then it was back to us, cutting all the diamonds - 309 of them - that were needed for our quilt. In addition to the 185 striped diamonds, we also needed 124 plain diamonds to complete the design.

Then the real fun began! Piecing sets of 12 diamonds into 18" hexagons took some time, while carefully following Louise's complex design block by block. We each pieced half of the top together, then Louise (bless her) connected the two halves.

Of course there was still much to be done! Louise chose a backing and pieced a guild label into it (label made by Dionne/@dinglebobbins!); Matt/@odditease did a mix of machine and hand-quilting. And then Kathleen/@quiltmunnster bound the quilt.

The quilt finished at 70" x 90", and yes, it'll be hanging at QuiltCon this year. This was the final quilt Louise and I planned for Seattle MQG.... our last hurrah. What a way to go!

Monday, February 18, 2019

Seattle MQG Giving

It's been bittersweet closing the door on three years of co-chairing the Seattle MQG Giving Committee with my friend Louise/@imfeelincrafty. We worked really hard offering interesting designs and opportunities for our guild-mates to join us in making quilts we could share with good causes. And truth is, we have alot of fun together, and we both enjoyed brain-storming ideas for quilts, and orchestrating all the steps needed to bring them to completion. Sadly, I shared very few of them here, so grab a beverage, sit down with your feet up, and enjoy the quilt show!

[Note that I'll link to the guild blog post when available, where you can find more details and photos, and credits for everyone who had a hand in each quilt.]

Fade to Black

Using black and white fabrics donated by guild members, we used my Improv Quarter Log Cabin tutorial for the blocks. (72" x 72")

Blue Trimmed Cabin

A bonus baby-sized quilt made with extra Improv Quarter Log Cabin blocks. (36" x 48")


We were ready for some color after all that black and white, and made blocks for this quilt using my X Marks the Improv block tutorial. (72" x 72")

Little Blue Tents

Inspired by "Little Tents" made by Daisy/Ants to Sugar, guild members made their blocks totally from stash. (44" x 63")

Finding Home

Truly improvisational, unique blocks were made by each member using the logo colors of
Homeward Pet Adoption Center, with the finished quilt being donated for their annual auction. American Made Brand Cotton Solids were gifted to us by Clothworks, here in Seattle. (58" x 70")

Sunset Strips

Inspired by my first Bacon Quilt, this one had nice simple improv stripes. (60" x 72")

Doing the {Pink} Flamingo

One of my absolute favorites, this one used the Kona Color of the Year for 2017, Pink Flamingo. Circa15 fabric studio donated the peach-pink fabric to us, and each participant was given a 9" x 11" swatch to work with. Again, guild members could do whatever improv they wanted, combining their Pink Flamingo with gray and/or white solids or prints that read as solids. This was one where I got to puzzle the resultant blocks together, and I arranged them from light to dark. (72" x 72")

For this quilt we actually used a block with a pattern(!), Robbing Pete, a MQG block-of-the-month designed by Rebecca Burnett of the Toronto MQG. For some folks, they were trying curves for the first time! (48" x 48")

Play It Cool

Inspired by Anne/Play CraftsCrayola Sunset I provided a simple improv tutorial. All in solid cool blues, greens, and purples, working from stash was a total success. (48" x 60")

Frannie’s Flashy Fans 

This was our 2018 QuiltCon Charity Quilt entry. We actually held a little design contest, which was won by Cecelia Lehmann, then I wrote an improv Dresdan tutorial, and Louise came up with the awesome design. (68" x 87")


This quilt was created used the Berry Icy Ice Bar block from Jodie of Persimmon + Pear - call it structured improv. (48" x 60")
Of course we had to make a quilt (or two) featuing Kona's 2018 Color of the Year, Tigerlily, which we distributed to participants. Then they were asked to make a red-centered log cabin block with a spin, using Louise's tutorial. Just 16 of the blocks received back were used to make this first quilt. (66" x 66")


A second quilt was comprised of the remaining blocks. I kinda love them both! (48" x 66")

Bein' Green 

This was one of those I loved way more than I expected to! Cuts of green American Made Brand solids given to us by Clothworks were mixed with members’ stash solids. Using the green as the dominant color in our blocks, we made improv squares… and more squares, until we made 14 ½” blocks, following a rough guideline by Louise. (56" x 72")


Using several blocks that didn't quite 'fit' in the first quilt due to their use of brown, and an off-white linen, we created another.... a little less busy than Bein' Green, but equally interesting, I think. (42" x 51")

And lastly, there's this year's QuiltCon charity quilt which will be hanging at QuiltCon. I'll give you a sneak peek at the finished quilt, which I'll share more about soon in its own post!

Friday, February 15, 2019


It's been over six years since I hosted the *Picture-Perfect* Polaroid Block Swap. I had seen Karen/CapitolaQuilter's post on Polaroid blocks a few days before and was quite smitten with them. But realizing my stash (at that time!) didn't really have the fabric needed for a good variety of Polaroids, I did what any of you might have done, I'm sure. I started a swap! Just two months later, the swap came to a close after 114 swappers from all over the world swapped 3293(!) blocks, and in the end, I had 205 of them for my own use. So of course I made a quilt! Actually, I enlisted the help of the Always Bee Learning bee, sending them each nine Polaroids to puzzle into a block for me.

Fast forward, and even after I mailed off 50 in a giveaway, believe it or not, I still had a handful left. I started in on another quilt, using Yvonne/@quilting JETgirl's On a Slope pattern, which just happened to be the winner in a Cirrus Solids Block Challenge. Apparently I didn't get too far, as I just came across the blocks which I'd begun in 2015. Oops! Purely for sentimental reasons, these needed to be made into something... anything. So basically I just pieced the framed blocks into rows, changing the original design intent, of course, but sometimes time changes things.

After adding  borders (shocker!), I went to my stash to choose a backing, and found something I remembered purchasing years ago for just such a purpose - a length of Objects by Robert Kaufman. Perfect, no?!

Quilting was a bit of a quandary and even harder to photograph. There were basically three components.... the gray Xs in the side framing, done in gray thread, then a black angled diamond around each Polaroid....

And on the sides, both gray and black echoed triangles to mimic the HRTs on the sides of each Polaroid.

And though I contemplated a matched binding, I instead went with a continuous binding of Michael Miller Mirror Ball Dots. Nice they could escape the ole stash and be used!

Soooo.... here's to sentimentality for the win. I think that's the end of the Polaroids for me. But to this day, those little snapshots evoke such fond memories! 

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Triptych Jewels

I'm going to let my bee-mate Karen/@capitolaquilter describe her February prompt for this month's Bee Sewcial improv bee. "When choosing my prompt, I kept coming back to the concept of stages: Past-Present-Future, Birth-Life-Death, Before-During-After. I’m curious to see your interpretation of this idea with three segments that differ – they do not need to be equal portions and can transition subtly or abruptly with changes in design elements like scale, shape, value and color for example."

Karen's chosen palette was jewel-tones, as indicated in the prompt. I chose to focus on emerald, amethyst, and sapphire, with a hint of topaz to reflect my triptych of water in three forms (l-r): solid (ice), liquid (an ocean wave), and gas (steam). It was Karen's request to leave the block untrimmed, and mine measures approximately 12" x 24".

Well this was a curious prompt to execute. I was in a quandary on how to distribute the colors for interest yet cohesiveness, and also how to 'join' the three distinct panels. At first I thought I'd put a strong horizontal 'divider' between each. But in the end I went with one thin 'thread' between blocks one and two, and another between all three blocks - or block two and three, depending on how you look at it. Either way, I learned a new word and was challenged to represent it. Oh, and except for the inset curve in the middle segment, I created this block ruler-free.

Monday, February 11, 2019


After participating in the One Week Improv Challenge hosted by Amy's Creative Side, of course I needed to come up with an idea for combining the blocks into a whole. I decided on a table runner, so started in piecing the blocks together in a generally rectangular shape, filling in with the two Essex Yarn Dyeds I had used in my blocks, with a bit of cotton solids added in at whim. And just to set the record straight, the dark color in my piecing may look like black in some photos, but it's really Kona Raisin, a deep dark purple that adds some richness when seen in person.

Deciding on how to quilt the runner took me a bit, but once I settled on Echoing In, called that in Jacquie Gering's WALK book, I didn't look back. I used my #heramarker to create some random shapes within which I did echo quilting with my #walkingfoot, resulting in unique spirals in each section. I've used that technique before with good success, and I felt the same this time - easy and fun to do, while giving the piece some added visual impact. I used Aurifil 50wt #2600 [light gray] which nestled right in to the many grays, and were subtlety visible on the colored solids.

I was actually kind of surprised how much the echos enhanced the improv piecing, not disrupting them as it seems they might.

Were you wondering about the back? ;-) I did indeed include the 'scrap block' from Day 2 of the Improv Challenge!

I used other scraps and pieces from my challenge fabrics to bring the back up to size.

One more little tidbit I want to share, if you haven't noticed already. Anything unusual about this piece - you know, other than the improv? Were you thinking something was 'off?' Well it most certainly is! My runner is not 'square'.... ie. its four corners are not all 90-degree angles. When I was piecing the blocks together, I needed to add a long strip to one section to square it up, but it just didn't 'fit.' So after mulling over my options, I decided for once, to let the piece speak for itself and let it be.

A little crazy maybe. Probably. But once I trimmed it up, it seemed the perfect way to finish off the week's improv challenge - with a little more improv. And now that the runner has found its home on our dining table, I couldn't be more sure.

Amy's One Week Improv Challenge is still available on her website, and you can start your own week any time!