QuiltCon 2015 and Class with Weeks Ringle

QuiltCon 2015 was an amazing event, and we had an incredible time. I’m excited to be able to share it with you. 

I took an all day workshop about working with, and choosing eclectic fabrics with Weeks Ringle. No one wanted to sew. (Not kidding). We had the opportunity, but in the afternoon, everyone just wanted to continue auditioning fabrics with Weeks. Why? The class agreed we could all sew at home, but not spend all this time on fabric play and experimentation. I can’t speak for everyone, but I certainly learned I need to pay more attention to that part of the quilt process on a regular basis.

Weeks is an enthusiastic teacher who really wanted us finish the day with a solid understanding about why a group of fabric choices work together, or not. 

We discussed hues, values, saturation, the scale of prints and other factors that go into selecting fabrics that will make a quilt fun, yet elegant. To begin the process we decided on a constraint, not a focus fabric. (A constraint could be working with fabrics that have a similar sized print in them). Then we built a large stack of fabrics that we thought would work together with it, and edited out the fabrics that didn’t work. 

See the center of this photo above with the solids; Cream, Khaki, Teal, Brown and Black. They look drab at first glance. If you were to look at them on a bolt in a store, they probably wouldn’t be the ones you’d gravitate too. However, when used as the background to all the beautiful colors and patterns you see in the finished quilt in this photo, it works perfectly.

We looked at more quilts made by Weeks and Bill Kerr, her husband, and talked about how each one told a story. And of course, how the background fabric, pulls it all together and in this example,makes the braids the stars of the show.

A braided quilt has been on my “to make” list for years. This one is nothing short of spectacular. It is about to come out in issue 10 of their magazine, Modern Quilts Illustrated. 

These squares in the photo above, may seem busy, but the white space leaves places for the eye to rest. Notice how the squares are in the same value range?

This quilt (above) works so well because the end of each triangle’s edge lies next to another fabric that creates contrast. The inner triangles create contrast too employing this same technique. I am suddenly noticing in quilts and art this concept, which is something completely new to me.

With the above grouping (which in this case is on the carpet), the fabrics play well together, except the white one at the end. The prints don’t overshadow each other and the colors are mainly analogous,orange and yellow, and complimentary, blue orange. 

Below is a good example. The constraint was to use all blue fabrics. The orange and yellow would have worked nicely as the sashing, but….

this fabric choice looked even better. (Sorry about the blurriness in the back of the photo).

In the end, this was the better choice.
This workshop taught me so much. I am still playing around with swatches and now see fabric options in a different way.

Thanks to Weeks Ringle for a fabulous day.

Happy Quilting!! Generally I e-mail my responses and answers directly to those who leave a comment in the comment box. If it’s a question about what I learned at this workshop, I will also leave a reply so all readers will benefit. 

"The Little Spark," by Carrie Bloomston – A Book Review – A Great Holiday Gift

Sometimes a book comes into my hands, just when I need it most. November is my least favorite month of the year, (except for Thanksgiving). It seems like the sky is always gray. We all know the sun sets earlier. It feels like the rainiest month of the year. And, of course the temperature drops….a lot.

Along came Carrie Bloomston’s debut book, The Little Spark; 30 Ways to Ignite Your Creativity. The last 10 days of November have become brighter!!

While reading this book I discovered quite a few creative sparks. (Note all the stickies on the pages, with notes and ideas on them). I read through this book quickly, because I wanted to review it before the holidays. It makes an awesome gift. It’s exactly the kind of book I like to own, because I know I will revisit different chapters throughout my creative life. (I borrowed this copy from the library, and am glad there are many copies in our system).
But for me it will get another thorough reading. I didn’t get a really get an opportunity to do the exercises, mindfully. (There is one I did a few years ago). When I read through them, I could see they were thought provoking and are apt to provide a creative spark.

Two years ago, I did make a soul box, which Carrie suggests and describes how to do in Chapter 25.  

Yup, I collaged the whole shebang!!
I was using it to hold some charm squares I had been collecting from my fabric stash. But now I think I’m going to put a copy of this book in the box, along with my goals, dreams and special memories.
Creativity is a difficult subject to write about because it is esoteric, and means different things to different people. Carrie tackled this subject with grace and authenticity. I applaud the organization of the chapters and how the information is presented. The flow works quite well. All of the chapters are short, crisp and are accompanied by photos that support the text beautifully and creatively.  

For example, Chapter 20, “Create a Mission Statement,”  Chapter 21, “Fear,” Chapter 22, “Find Your Voice,” Chapter 23, “Repetition,” and Chapter 25, “Make a Soul Box,” are applicable to me right now, because I have been a bit stuck in my creative process, and procrastinating. But, this book also provides permission to do that when needed. For example, sometimes everyone just needs a day off or a break from their creative endeavors. In my case, it is almost the year anniversary of the passing of my mom, and the gloominess of November seems to make me sluggish.
However, the most awesome piece of wisdom hit me while reading the Chapter on fear. Carrie states that, “The creative act is the opposite of fear.” (pp. 90). I have been a bit immobilized lately, and if I would let myself push on all the sides of my creative boundaries, I know I would climb out of my fink funk. I’ve experienced this before, and I know Carrie hit the nail on the head with how she wrote this chapter. THANK YOU, CARRIE!!
Chapter 20, discusses how to make a personal mission statement. Just the term “mission statement” reminds me of business school and makes me quiver. However, Carrie cleverly coaxes the reader into considering this in a less intimidating way. 
First she has the reader think about their first inspiration, and who it might have come from; A relative, friend, teacher? Then she challenges the reader to describe in one word, “what your unique creative path looks like?” Then she challenges you to “describe how it feels.”
She kicks it up a notch, and asks for a “description in two words?”The next step is to try and make it into a sentence. That’s what I would call taking on a tough challenge in small manageable bites.
The book’s end notes are useful. There is a list of amazingly creative contributors and their web sites. In the “About The Author” section, Carrie shares her favorite books and movies, which have inspired her. Additionally, throughout the book she recommends other creative resources; a George Winston CD, quotes, etc.

The first time I sort of met Carrie Bloomston was through the media. She gave an incredible webinar – Awaken Your Your Inner Color Genius, which was sponsored by The Modern Quilt Guild.

I was so impressed with her passion for the subject, that I wrote down the names of the artists that influenced her, and checked out books about them from the library. Carrie received her degree from The Rhode Island School of Design and is an artist in many genres, including quilt and fabric design. Her blog and company is called Such Designs.

I participated in her classes through The Sewing Party; 
“Understanding Color From The Inside Out,” and “The Little Spark – Get to Know Your Creative Process and Rev-Up Your Creativity.”  

After participating in these webinars/classes, I had to read this book, and thus this blog post is born. This is a book to savor, and possibly read a chapter every few days or a week, at a time. There is so much inspiration on every page.

Happy Reading and Happy Quilting!!

Michael Miller Challenge

I told myself I would never do this, but after almost 21 years of quilting, I am. I have never entered a quilt challenge. I’m not worrying about winning, just finishing the quilt by the deadline is a good goal for me. Having one’s creativity judged is a tricky thing and it’s subjective just as writing book reviews of children’s books for School Library Journal is for me.

I have wanted to begin to design quilts tops and hopefully fabrics down the line. So this challenge put a bar in front of me to begin the process of designing quilts. (One thing at time – fabric design….maybe by the end of 2016)?

Back in the spring, I began sketching out blocks. I did some research and read a few books. In Italy I came across so many patterns in the architecture of buildings, on floors, walls, paths, streets, clothes, and of course the art.

So here I am….

Modern Quilt Guild Quilt Con 2015 has several categories of challenges. I chose the Michael Miller Spring Contour Pastels Challenge. I decided on this particular one because, I love pastels, and I have never made a quilt in all these years using only solids for the top.

Michael Miller sent contestants a bundle of fat eighths that looks like this;

 Love these colors!! 

I can’t show my patterns, but parts of one is okay. I am figuring out how the patten process works with quilt patterns, and then I’m happy to share.

I’m belaboring between two patterns. Deb from Pins and Needles in Mt. Kisco is helping me figure out the yardage. Right now I am making mock-ups in graph paper, coloring them in, and will decide between the two patterns.

Hopefully I will have figured that out by Tuesday.

Happy Quilting and have a great weekend!!

Modern Quilt Guild Webinars

Several weeks ago, I participated in a webinar offered by The Modern Quilt Guild.

“Design Fundamentals of Modern Quilting,” was given by Heather Grant, and a few other participants who are quilters. I learned quite a lot about the history of Modern Quilting; what it is, and what it isn’t, in a loosely defined way. The most important feature of a modern quilt, is that it is meant to be used. Taking that a step further, a baby or pet can use it, and if the quilt needs to be cleaned it can go in the washer and dryer. 

My “Show Off” quilt could be considered modern, aesthetically, but “Honoring The Seasons” (second and third photos below), definitely is not.

Our cat sleeps on it. And I often use it when napping on the couch. It has been washed many times.

Although this quilt took me a long time to make, and it is large. The cats sleep and lounge on our bed a lot. This one has gone into the washer and dryer several times.

Heather offered many great resources; books, DVD’s, etc.. I have checked out several of them, and they are inspirational and have added to my perspective about “many things quilting.” I am not going to recap everything in the webinar in this post. I will devote a post on that topic in the next few weeks.

Today I want to let readers be aware of the great webinars offered by The Modern Quilt Guild, by becoming a member.  

Two weeks ago, I participated in another great webinar through MQG; “Awaken your Inner Color Genius.” Carrie Bloomston of SUCH Design was the speaker, and she offered new ways of looking at color from a painter’s perspective. Carrie earned her degree in painting and art. She also quilts and designs playful and colorful fabrics. Her new line is called Paint. http://suchitysuch.blogspot.com/
As a member of my local guild, Hudson Valley Modern Quilt Guild, http://www.hvmodernquiltguild.com, I can participate in these webinars, as well as utilize other opportunities they offer, such as a discount to attend Quilt Con 2015.

If you don’t have a local guild that you can join, you can become a Member of The Modern Quilt Guild for a nominal fee. That is what I did before my local guild became an official guild member of the Mothership. It was well worth it. Check out the tabs on their web site and you will see all the benefits a membership has to offer.

Also, if you want to start a guild and then apply, the web site tells you how to do that.

Happy Quilting!!

Re-Purposing Scrap Fabric; A Block for a Modern Quilt Guild Memory

I am really happy I joined the Modern Quilt Guild of Hudson Valley at the beginning of this summer. The members are terrific, fun, kind and are challenging me. I am loving Modern Quilting,and learning so much. The contemporary fabrics and quilt designs are challenging my thought process, and giving me so many new ideas for things I want to make. 

I made a postage stamp block for one of the members today, using my scraps. The only request was that we had to use one strip of 2 1/2 X 16 inch fabric, and it had to be red.  Here’s the color palette I chose;


Then I realized I needed six strips. It’s a good thing I noticed that before doing the next step, which was to sew the long sides together, right sides together, creating a tube. So I added some green.

After I sewed the tube, I cut it into 6, 2 1/2″ units, and open them carefully with a seam ripper. Then I sewed all six strips together to make the postage stamp block.

And, the block came out looking good. There is a tutorial on uTube, and I will post that in case anyone wants to try it. On Saturday, it will be in the mail on it’s way to become a beautiful quilt.

On Monday I will post Part 2 of Building Your Fabric Stash Without Breaking Your Budget.  And I think we have a special fabric give-a-way planned with Cuts of Cotton in honor of Veteran’s Day.  Have a great weekend!!

Works in Progress

Happy Monday!!

I’ve been hard at work at my sewing machine. I’m only prepared to share 2 out of the 3 active projects I’ve been working on. The first is a block I made for one of the members of the Modern Quilt Guild of The Hudson Valley. I have never done improvisational quilting until this block. I am loving it – and mixing my fabrics up with some modern fabrics. 

And the king size quilt from Maple Island Quilts, called the Show Off. Only 90 more blocks to go to finish the blocks!!

In the beginning of the summer, I became more aware of modern quilts. The more I kept reading and looking at modern quilts, the more my interest grew. Two elements of modern quilts that drew me in are the negative space, and the many options in the composition. So I decided to broaden my horizons and join The Hudson Valley Modern Quilt Guild. (I’m not abandoning traditional quilts and am still a member of The Northern Star Quilt Guild). 

I met a really nice group of women who just want to quilt, create and have fun. They are so welcoming, and inclusive, and I always appreciate that attitude.

These blocks are created for a member. Each month someone brings in a challenge with a pattern for a block, in this case we could make a log cabin or wonky log cabin. We could add fabric from our own stash. In this case the challenge was to stay with the values of these red, yellow, white and browns.  I think these blocks are so cool. I am inspired to make a wonky block, which I’ve never done before.

These are some other ones for another quilt.

These are two more. The above one is for a postage stamp quilt. Something else I’ve never done before, and am excited about trying it.

What I didn’t show here, because the photos didn’t come out clearly, were some of our quilted name tags. Because there are a lot of newbies, someone came up with the idea for everyone to make quilted name tags. I have a lot of new quilting challenges in the weeks ahead.