Monday, May 30, 2022

Yakima Barn Quilts

Last fall, we saw a feature on our local news about new-ish barn quilts in Yakima, WA, about 2 1/2 hours from our home. We made plans for a quick road trip to see them, but the weather changed our plans. So fast forward to last week, when we finally got around to trying again.

Though we happened upon a news article that listed many of the barn quilt locations, we stopped in at the Harmon senior center in hopes that there might actually be a map. There was not, but we procurred a different list, and saw a couple of sample barn quilts on display. It was definitely worth the stop to see the samples, and be able to chat with one of the volunteers about the center.

So before long, we were off in search of actual barns with quilts and wouldn't you know, the first one we found, we could barely see....

photo by Joe Jeske

But at the house next door, there was a quilt airing on the porch, and gotta say, that made up for not seeing the barn quilt well!

But no worries, there were plenty left to find!

photo by Joe Jeske

We had a lovely few hours driving through the countryside taking photos. We even happened upon a local winery where we stopped to sit for a bit and enjoy the locale. Definitely a fun day!
photo by Joe Jeske

Thursday, May 26, 2022

2022 Aurifil Artisan

Well I've taken on a new title for the next year or so. Long a fan and nearly exclusive user of Aurifil thread, I'm happy to say I was selected as an Aurifil Artisan for 2022. Basically that means I will be joining a group of 39 other creators and sharing how we use Aurifil in our creative endeavors. There are quilters, pattern designers, fabric designers, bag-makers, long arm quilters, crafters, and tailors. I think that sounds inspiring to have such a varied maker group.

Part of becoming an Artisan is the initial Aurifil Artisan welcome package. Considering one of my main objectives in applying to become an Artisan was to be inspired to expand my knowledge and use of different weight threads, this package is definitely a good start at that!

Here's what my box contained:

  • 50wt cone #2024 [White]
  • Forty3 40wt cone #2360 [Chocolate]
  • 50wt large spools of #4225 [Eggplant], #2515 [Light Orchid], #2612 [Arctic Sky], #6010 [Toast]
  • 40wt large spools of #3920 [variegated Golden Glow], #1158 [Medium Grey], #2026 [Chalk]
  • 28wt large spools of #2395 [Pumpkin Spice], #5011 [Rope Beige]
  • 12wt large spools of #4129 [Turf Green], #2134 [Spun Gold]
  • spool monofilament
  • sample pack of 7 small spools, including floss, 12wt wool, and 80wt
  • color card
  • brochure about all the threads, what needles to use, suggested uses etc.

I hadn't realized previously that every Artisan gets a package with unique colors! Where everyone wouldn't have been thrilled to receive that spool of brown thread, I actually am! It's also a thread I've never used before [Forty3], so I'm anxious to check it out. I also received a couple of threads that might work with my future Very Peri project, a beautifully rich orance I love, and that 'Spun Gold' is one I'm anxious to find a use for. Let's just say it's an inspiring collection I look forward to working with.

Anyway, I'm anxious to see what's next as far as group challenges etc., and I'll be sharing what I use and learn along the way. Look for upcoming posts by the Artisans on Aurifil's Blog, Auribuzz, and watch for Artisan projects on Instagram @aurifilthread.

Monday, May 23, 2022

Catching Up with the Seattle MQG BOM

Before another month went by, I really wanted to catch up with our guild Block of the Month, The Year of Doubles.

What is the Year of Doubles?

"Over the next nine months we will give you directions for one 12” traditionally pieced block each month. After you’ve made the 1st block, the traditional block, you will have the option to create a 2nd block playing off the theme of the traditionally pieced block." [from guild website] Well, that was a very clever idea, but for some reason, I just really wanted to make it my own, and focus on the improv versions of the assigned blocks.

When January's assignment was to 'find inspiration and pull fabrics,' I inadvertently found mine in a block I actually made in an abstract piecing workshop early in the year. The palette is a unique orange, aqua, and berry, and the scraps were still gathered together, so it worked for me. And yes, though not officially a part of the BOM, I do plan on including this block in some way in my quilt.

With that said, here are the rest of my blocks so far:

February - Snail's Trail

March - Bear Paw

April - Friendship Star

May - Basket

AND I enjoyed the Sawtooth Stars we are making for a giving quilt so much, that I made another for my BOM. So it's becoming quite the conglomeration. 

The blocks range from 8.5" to 20", and I'm thinking I may make more of these or future blocks - ie. not necessarily just one of each, yet maybe. I'll take it as I go, but at least I'm going, and excited about what I have so far. Now I'm definitely looking forward to June's assignment!

Friday, May 20, 2022

Rich Red I

If you caught my recent post about supplementing my solid stash, you may remember a suggestion from my friend, Dionne - to buy a lot of one color and use it in each future project - for as long as that felt like a good idea, of course. And that came to me as I was trying to decide what to do with the yellow scraps I had left from a project late last year.

I'd been glancing through A Common Thread: A Collection of Quilts by Gwen Marston, and when I happened upon her series of Red Square quilts, I knew I was on to something. I promptly began piecing blocks in the spirit of Red Square IV, which Gwen made in 2008. And in doing so, I'm considering this quilt the first in a series of sorts, where I use Kona Rich Red.

I made single blocks, as well as strings of them, first just placing them randomly on the design wall; then filling in or adding on with scraps and fabrics from stash as I built the quilt top.

For a quilt back, I pieced one leftover block with a variety of small pieces from stash. That blue plaid on the right doesn't obviously coordinate with the front of the quilt, but it certainly did with that floral, which decidedly did. Gwen was whispering in my mind, "Just have fun and try things," and that made everything fit.

For quilting, I used Aurifil 50wt #1103 [burgandy] to stitch an 'X' through the center of each red square. with a frame in the larger squares. Then with variegated 50wt #4658 [Limoni Di Monterosso - side note, I have actually been to Monterosso! Good memories!] I quilted squared coils around each red square, with quilting lines no more than 1/2" to 3/4" apart. There was a variety of other patterns used to fill in as needed - all with my walking foot, and totally improvisational.

It was a little tricky squaring this one up, and I confess I had to pull out my laser levels among other tricks of the trade, before I was satisfied. Bound in Kona Grellow, the quilt finished at 43" x 53". Quilted relatively loosely, this one turned out very cozy, which is never a bad thing, now is it?

So we'll see how using Rich Red in subsequent quilts works out! If you've ever done a color-based series, please do share with us in the comments.

Thursday, May 19, 2022

Seeds and Seedpods

This month, it was Leanne/@shecanquilt's turn to select the prompt for Bee Sewcial, and she chose "Seeds and Seedpods." She asked for our modern takes on the theme - a shape we see in seeds or seedpods - with the freedom to play with scale, and create in fantasy seed colors. What fun, right? She also provided a pin board with some seed inspiration.

For my first block,  I made a close up view of a poppy seed pod, which if trimmed, would measure up to 13" x 15". Leanne asked for us to leave our blocks untrimmed, so you can see that in the second photo.

Background colors were to be reflective of sky or ground colors, and though I didn't originally plan to use several shades of blue as background in my first block, I think it added interest.

My second block was an improv take on a thistle seed pod, about 11" x 13" untrimmed. Making those spikes was very fun; getting them to 'fit' a little bit more tricky.

The 'untrimmed' photo below shows the light green background off a little better.

So those were both enjoyable to vision and create. Meanwhile, the last of my beemates' blocks for my Horizons prompt will be coming in shortly, and I'm looking forward to seeing how I can pull them all together. You can glimpse some of them in the #beesewcial hashtag on Instagram.

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Quilted Bookmarks

When I shared the quilted bookmarks I'd made for our Little Free Library, I didn't really expect the response! Especially in the LFL Facebook group, there were lots of requests for a tutorial. 

The idea started when my hubby and I got a personalized stamp for the books that pass through our Little Free Library, and we thought it might also be fun to offer bookmarks to our visitors along with the books. Soooo with a few scraps and a bit of kraft-tex, we came up with a prototype we thought might work.

Truth is, I'd had a roll of kraft-tex (a kraft paper fabric) in my stash that I had never tried, so when I was thinking of how to make the bookmarks, it seemed worth a try. For one, I could definitely stitch on it; and secondly, our personalized stamp would work nicely on it too. Here's how I made ours:

With a rotary cutter - the one reserved for cutting paper - I cut 2" strips along the edge coming off the roll. Then each strip was cut into 2" x 6" pieces - three cut from each strip. You'll need two pieces for each bookmark. If desired, decorate the 'back' of the bookmark as desired. If using a stamp, like we did, it's a good idea, though not absolutely necessary, to stamp a bunch and leave them for several hours to dry. I didn't on my first batch, and though the stamped back did not smear, it did leave some ink on my sewing machine, which easily washed off.

Note how, due to being rolled, the bookmark-sized pieces curve just a bit. That actually is an advantage, especially when it comes to the sewing. Otherwise the corners could get caught by the footplate and impede progress. Anyway, take strips of fabric - I used quilter's cotton - and cover the surface of the bookmark. Lay one strip down (the center piece in the photo below), then stitch another strip on either edge, right-sides together. Finger-press them both away from the initial piece.

Continue adding strips until the entire kraft-tex surface is covered. Obviously, you don't have to be too finicky about how long the fabric strips are, as they'll be trimmed later. If desired, add quilting lines during this step. Trial and error taught me to use a very short stitch length.

So once the front is done, flip the bookmark over, and trim the excess fabric off using a rotary cutter and ruler. 

Next, I used a glue stick and glued the finished front to the finished back.

And then stitch through both layers very close to the edge (about 1/8") using a short stitch.

Lastly, we used a leather hole punch to create a hole near the top and used 7" lengths of cording to create simple tassels.

The quilted bookmarks are now in our little neighborhood library, already being enjoyed by our visitors!

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

On Supplementing My Solid Stash

When I shared about enhancing my solid stash recently, I received lots of good advice. Good enough that I thought you all might be interested. (All commenters listed gave permission for me to share.)

  • Choose a color (or colors, depending on what you can afford) and buy a half yard of every one the store stocks. Usually the colors you need to make a quilt sing are not the ones that were fun to buy. [pieladyquilts]
  • Don’t overlook the drab, muddy, dirty colors that’ll make the clear colors pop and sing and dance!! Think olive, rust, burnt, heathered, maroon, grayed, drab colors. I love them. [monicathequilter]
  • When I retired I was gifted a similar generous card. I was just starting to use solids so went crazy. But everything I bought was medium to dark in value. My stash suffers still from this. Your stash (like most of ours probably) appears to have fewer low value fabrics. I might recommend making a good chunk of your purchase in that group. They may not make your heart sing, but they certainly make the quilts sing. [tinwoman48]
  • I’d just buy what I love but make sure I have a good range of values. [kathycookquilts]
  • If I’m buying without a project in mind, I usually stick with the colors that make my heart sing or new shades/palettes I’ve been meaning to try. Then I fill in my lesser used colors as I overbuy for specific projects. [hellomynameisquilt]
  • This probably isn’t what you’re asking, but here’s what I do: Each Christmas I receive a very nice gift card to my LQS from a family member. I use mine throughout the year to buy backing fabric as I get quilt fronts finished. It’s nice to have gift card money to help cover these costly purchases. [bluebellridgehandworks]
  • I'd select a number of very unusual unique pieces for the accents that make a quilt stand out. [karenholseth]
  • [A] few years ago I joined Fat Quarter Shop fat quarters solids. I use these just about as fast as they come. Fat quarters are great for small pieces needed. I am still in club. I have been buying fabric by bolt ! Black, white, white on whites, cream, cream on cream. Then anything that needs a solid back that’s bought by bolt. I love ❤️ making scrappy solid quilts. [debsews19]
  • I think I would note what colors I have and buy colors you don’t have - even if you rarely use them. You might reach for it in the future if you have it but might not buy it if you don’t. [lisarcast]
  • I guess I typically go with 1 yard if I like it a lot but don't have an idea for what I'll use it for and 4-5 yards if I think it would make a good backing. [quiltingjetgirl]
  • Buy a lot of one color and use it in each subsequent project - a little or a lot. [dinglebobbins]

So obviously, I couldn't follow all that great advice right now; but I did do some of it, and will remember the rest for future purchases. For now, I selected:

  • a half yard of all the reds in the shop, including 2 yards of Rich Red, which I plan to use in several upcoming projects, restocking as necessary
  • a half yard each of a lot of blues - being sure to choose some very lights, very darks, and grayed blues, and one yard each of a couple of favorites I'd run out of
  • several very light and very dark yellows, greens, and purples
  • 2 yards each of three commonly-used neutrals - a light gray, a darker gray, and natural
  • one yard cuts of a few favorites I like to always have on hand, like Kona Pickle and Wasabi
  • and finally (not shown) a handful of blenders, a restock of 1/4" black and white stripe, and a Diamond Textiles' Nikko woven in a new-to-me color
So... 32 yards were added to my stash, 28 of them solid, in 44 colors. And over the weekend, I totally revamped my storage area. It's hard to see in its entirety, since that 'post' hides a whole column of cubbies, but 'before' I had a cubbie for each color of prints, and then combined solids in just a few cubicles. Now, each cube contains a color - with both prints and solids combined - prints on bottom, solids on top. This worked fine for most colors, though blue prints fill a cubby all their own (behind the column). Interesting!

Besides the 'color' groupings, you can see there are some special categories - all Carolyn Friedlander prints and text prints (a past favorite!) on the left; three groups of non-quilting-cotton substrates and Christmas fabrics on the right; and for the first time, a cube with a few unfinished projects. That may all look and sound very confusing, but to me it makes perfect sense, and I'm looking forward to working from my newly sorted stash in the months ahead. 

Monday, May 9, 2022

Yo Yo Rainbow Stitchalong

Yeah, there's another stitchalong with one of  Rebecca Ringquist's Dropcloth Samplers, starting today! We'll be stitching the new Yo Yo Rainbow sampler, and once again, Rebecca has curated a thread sampler as well. There are nine variegated spools of #8 perle cotton threads from Wonderfil Specialty Threads.

For my own future reference, I'm going to list the threads included in the collection:

EZM1003-Fuchsia  ~  EZM1081-Rain Forest  ~  EZM1058-Lemon Meringue
EZM1027-Seaside Cabana  ~  EZM1043-Sugar Rush  ~  EZM1090-Cranberry
EZM1022-Azure Eyes  ~  EZM1096-Scorched  ~  EZM1038-Nocturnal

Don't they have great names? They are all new colors to me, and since - believe it or now - I'm running low or have already used up several of my variegated threads, I went ahead and ordered the new collection too. 

I always back my samplers with a layer of Essex cotton-linen blend, so that's all set, and I'm definitely ready to start stitching!

Friday, May 6, 2022

The Baby Hannah Quilt

When I wanted to make a baby quilt for a friend recently, Erica/@kitchentablequilting had just released her Hannah Quilt pattern, and I was pretty sure I could make good use of my original Cotton + Steel stash for just such a little quilt. 

I went for a scrappy version, with the amount of each fabric totally dictated by what I had on hand. So there's a little more of one color than another, but I think it works. The block backgrounds are also scrappy; and two, in fact, are in ivory solid, since I ran out of workable C+S prints that would work. 

For quilting, I started out with a simple grid, then went back and quilted diagonals in one direction, skipping every other row. I thought that added a little interest without quilting it too densely.

The baby size of the Hannah quilt ended up at 36" x 48", and I did wash it up before sending it off. I tried several times to get good photos of it, but the weather, light, or whatever wasn't being too cooperative. Even so, small and sweet, it was a fun little detour from the larger projects in the works.