Monday, August 21, 2017

Brentwood Quilt Show

Saturday, two days ago, I went to the Delta Quilters guild quilt show, 25th Harvest on the Delta, with my friend Renée from our quilt guild. The show was held in Brentwood, CA.

Renée and I drove about 35 minutes north of Livermore to get there. It was a bright sunny day and our scenic route passed through golden hillsides in a sparsely populated area.You can see by northernmost portion of  map below why the guild calls itself the Delta Quilters.

The show was a moderate size, just under 100 quilts and 20 vendors, and was held at the Brentwood Community Center.

Upon entering the building, there was a HUGE quilt hung above the admission tables. The piecing was amazing given the number of small green/blue squares that had gone into its assembly.

A fund-raising boutique of handmade items for sale was situated off to the left near the entrance. Prices were truly inexpensive and much of the workmanship was exquisite. I bought these five embroidered Christmas ornaments. I was drawn to the bright colors and intricate designs. 

Strolling through the member quilts on display, I typically pause either to admire a quilt in its entirety or to examine a particular technique or idea that sparks my interest. For this quilt I did both.

It was made by Wendy Herman from a Barbara H. Cline pattern Under the Sea, which I bought quite a while ago and have yet to make. I was glad to see it made up and noted the maker's comment that she was a bit sad to see it was so small. I had not really noted on the pattern envelope that the size is indeed only 49" x 48". She added the border to enlarge it. The border colors are spot on with the quilt's pieced main body but having a heads up I will try to make it larger by repeated parts of the pattern if I can. I was surprised to see that the quilt design is offset. I had never realized that the large charcoal star was not centered on the quilt. The asymetry is not obvious from the way it is draped over the bench in the pattern photo, but I admire it as a rather charming and interesting design element.

Diamond cross hatching reminds me of argyle socks and quilting pattern in the pale gray gives lovely movement.

On these next two quilts I took particular note of the quilting pattern. Fireworks quilting spraying outward enhanced the shape of the card trick pattern in this 32" x32" "Spinning Star Table Topper " table topper by Cathy Decker.

In this pickup truck wall panel, uneven grid work stitching gave linen like texture. I am not sure but I think this was titled Old Blue and made by Sally Brown.

This quilt sample was a for a kit titled Snowy Days sold by Material Girlfriends and made up primarily of Robert Kaufman Snow Pals fabric. Indeed the panel images are soft, precious, and inviting but what also caught my eye was the non-square hourglass blocks. I have several cloth books for toddlers that I would like to make into a quilt instead. The pages are usually not-square, rectangular by a small enough margin to be mildly annoying. These hourglass blocks are a perfect solution and I really like the secondary pattern they bring to the quilt. The white, light, and medium blue solid choices were an incredibly artistic choice. 

In terms of fabric purchases, I congratulate myself that I was satisfactorily constrained. I bought one yard each of an African print from the boutique and a vibrant floral print from a vendor, both at very discounted prices.

The blue fabric below has a bit of a story. It was packaged in a zip lock bag to be cleared out, marked with the reduced price of $16 for 8 yards and a note with the sales pitch that it would make a great backing. The blue color has such depth and I was drawn to something about it - yes, other than the price! I was fingering it and murmured, "This is different." A member of my guild standing near my side overheard me and quipped, "Yeah, it is butt ugly." As I continued to finger and fondle it I replied, "But you know how something can be so ugly, it is cute? I do not know if this is peach pits or avocados or a reverse image of a hard boiled egg half, but it kind of calls to me." The mottled blurred tones reminded me of something that I could not quite place my finger on. I read the selvage that attributed the work to designer George Mendoza but that did not ring any bells. 

Like that unforgettable, scruffy, begging mutt at the dog pound that you just have to take home, I picked up the fabric and walked over to pay for it. The vendor, who was closing out her shop reminded me, "You know the artist who did this is blind." Then the name George Mendoza that I'd read off the selvage spark a realization, and my memories flooded back. I had heard of him before and had bought some of his fabric at a quilt show held in Oklahoma City where my daughter lives. George Mendoza is an artist, an athlete, and a motivational speaker. George Mendoza was a 1980 Olympian in track and has suffered since his teen years from a form of juvenile macular degeneration. He has no central, detailed vision but paints the peripheral colors he sees and interprets. Here is the Mendoza flower fabric I bought in June of 2013 when I first I first learned about him. I have yet to use the yard I bought back then, but I do take it out periodically to look at and admire it.

I noted that the blue background fabric was titled "Pebbles" and, no, I do not know what I am going to do with it. That "butt ugly" fabric, admittedly perhaps not my most favorite fabric of all time, did turn out to be my favorite and most prized purchase of the day. Now to link up with Let's Bee Social #191.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Spider-Man Crib Sheets

After a recent visit to Oklahoma City where my two-year old Grandson lives I could not help but notice his attraction to Spider-Man. I bought some themed fabrics – three different prints – from the Fat Quarter Shop and set to work to make him some crib sheets. He is in a toddler bed now but the mattress size is the same. I'd made him dinosaur sheets and bug sheets and blogged about them in my 9/16/15 post. After pre-washing my fabric I cut it into 70" length. I folded it in quarters and cut 8" squares from each corner. Four corners of fabric get joined with French seams and then elastic is run around in a casing along the outer edges. The original online tutorial for the sheets is in the Stitched in Colors blog post for November 4, 2014.

Using French seams assures that there would be no raw edges to fray in the finished sheets. I also did one extra step, not in the original tutorial. I ran a stitch parallel along the free edge of the seam a couple inches inward from the outer sheet edge so the encased seam would not flip over and cause problems when I was threading elastic through the casing. Threading 80" of elastic through that casing is straight forward but a bit time consuming. It makes my wrist sore so the removal of any obstructions is well worth the effort. See my post for 9/9/15 about making mini crib sheets for some elastic tips.

Here are the two finished sheets, folded in half. One is in red and shows Spider-Man swinging from building to building with his web.

The other print is in blue with a backdrop of sky.

I also made a matching cover for the changing pad. One side is in the red fabric and the other is in the blue. In the following photo the flap of the cover that folds under is flipped up to show the alternate print.

Since the foam pad is 1" thick I added a short seam across the French seam to make box corners.

The two crib sheets and two-sided pad cover are shown in the next photo.

This is the fabric I had left over, some 8" squares and two less than ½ yard lengths the width of the fabric. I'd bought three yards each of these two fabrics. I actually have 1½ yards of a large graphic print I did not use. The tag is wrong in the photo. Perhaps the 1½ yard piece will become a pillowcase or perhaps a dress for Isaiah's almost 5 year old sister who also loves Spider-Man.

I think Isaiah will be excited to sleep on these sheets. His mom will be excited if he sleeps at all since he is always in motion. Note the blurred hands.


Linking these little projects up to Let's Bee Social #190.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Out of the Blue

"Out of the blue" is defined in Wikipedia as "an idiom that describes an event that occurs unexpectedly". I'd bought this kit of Kaffe Fasset fabrics to expose myself to combining them in a way that was out side my comfort zone. My post on its assembly and my reluctant, but dogged, forging ahead was posted on April 20th. I am just now getting to FMQing it three and a half months later. The quilting went very well much to my surprise with myself. I have titled the quilt "Out of the Blue" because unexpectedly, I really like how this quilt turned out. It was an experiment and my goal was to learn but not to necessarily like the results. Even my novice attempts at the FMQ worked out well for me. I did not do it alone, I did have lots of guidance along the way.

Initially I tried to pre-plan what I would do in each section of the quilt but fairly quickly abandoned that idea as it got too complicated for me to draw and remember. I did however know I wanted to preserve the medallion aspect of the quilt. I decide to wing it and make it up as I went.

My inspiration of how to quilt to quilt the myriad of triangles was drawn from Angela Walters' Midnight Quilt Show episode titled A Wallflower Quilt Giveaway + Tips for Continuous Curve Quilting. The four arcs within a right triangle (beige in the following photo) were easy enough for me to accomplish and I thought they were very effective in forming a central petal or leaf. I just needed to decide in which triangles to repeat that shape. I let the fabric dictate my choices.

Here is my version, replicated twice, in two khaki right triangles that were right next to each other. I liked how adjacent arcs formed an additional "petal" of sorts

Repeating that pattern four times in the very middle of the quilt resulted in a blossom pattern, not too fancy, but anchoring the center without calling too much attention to itself. I preferred the blue toned fabrics so was content to let the khaki and chintz green take a back seat with those simplistic arc shapes. Here I previewed and practiced my pattern with dry erase marker on plastic sheet protectors.

In her Midnight Quilt Show episode, Angela Walters also advised to shake up those arc shapes a bit. She suggested serpentines but I like spirals instead. So went with curlicues in some of the richer toned floral prints. In the deep purple/ burgundy print I did two spirals, kind of like vine tendrils, and still flanked by two peripheral arcs.

In the aqua larger scale floral print I put only one larger spiral with more revolutions and in keeping with the size of the flowers.

In the geometric pebble print on the corners I reverted to the simple four arc pattern like I did in the khaki. Although it seems to be an obvious choice, I avoided doing pebbles. I am horrible at them and my pebbles look like scribbles instead of a collection of mellow O's. I once spent 16+ hours removing pebbles from the corner stones of a quilt for my son. See my 5/14/2014 post. I am generally bad at any patterns that require a lot of back-tracking so I avoid them.

To remember what went where in the four corners of the quilt, I inserted paper in my practice overlays and posted them on the wall by my machine.

The quilt corners turned out like this.

Notice the parallel straight lines in the speckled fabric and in the plaid/grid fabric. In my choice of quilting motifs, I was also influenced by the Inbox Jaunt blog by Lori Kennedy. Lori Kennedy advised placing straight stitching lines next to curvy ones for contrast. Her post shows an example.

I added parallel straight lines to my repertoire. They were a bit time consuming since I put them ¼" apart or a tad closer and my shoulders got a bit sore from the intense repetitive motion. But the effect was worth it and I suspect with FMQ experience also comes relaxation of posture.

Even though I treated most of the triangles individually there was a sequence of triangles in a large scale floral print with big royal blues leaves and vibrant pink Peony-like flowers that formed a band within the central portion of quilt top. See photo near the beginning of this post. It had truly bothered me to cut up that gorgeous fabric so, in the FMQing of this top I wanted to treat the continuous region of those fabric triangles as a unit. I decided to have a quilted feather decorating that band rather than an all over filler. I like feathers that require no back-tracking, and so I refer to the book Hooked on Feathers by Sally Terry. You can see my first foray into feathers in my post for June 13, 2015 my post for June 13, 2015 where I used Sally Terry's feather method on a strip quilt. In the following photo I have her book open to a page to remind me of the feather sequence. The band where I am quilting feathers is under the hopper foot.

To create a curvy spine for my feathers I used a semi-circle ruler, flipping its orientation when negotiating bends and rounding corners.

How did I choose my thread color for the quilt stitching? At first I thought I wanted royal blue, since the quilt is shades of blue and my favorite fabric was the one with the bold pink peonies nestled among the two-tone leaves of royal blue and aqua. I considered matching the backing, which is a rich purple. By the way, I was also happy that I was able to match the seam on the backing so well. Can you find it?

I lay the royal blue and purple thread colors, on the front and also considered a pale celery color that would go well with the khaki. For my previous quilt, Storybook Charm (7/5/2017 post), I used a taupe thread on a white background. The taupe did show up strongly, and my stitching was highly visible, but I thought I would prefer light thread on a dark background this time around and let the prints sing for themselves.

I again was also influenced by Angela Walters' thread selection in the Wallflower Quilt from the Midnight Quilt Show episode I cited earlier. I like that she does do examples of quilting on prints and not on solids only. I considered both of these similar toned thread color options and chose the more green, less blue, option on the left because I thought it blended better with the interspersed khaki tone. My backup if I ran out of thread was to switch to the more blue thread for the outermost rounds of the quilt. In fact, I considered switching thread colors as I moved outward in the medallion-style top, but reasoned that would be a fair amount of trouble for very little gain. Did I really want to have all those partially filled bobbins left?

That reminds me of something else for which I was grateful. I have a sit down Handi Quilter and so I do not load the quilt and proceed from one edge to the opposite edge. I have the freedom to work around the quilt rather than back and forth allowing me to decide concentric band variations as I proceeded toward the outer edges.

On the outer edges I decided to repeat a feather motif as I had done in the peony band. As I was working my way along one edge, I was not pleased with the proportion of my feathers. They were not quite plump enough for my taste and I was not quite sure how to improve them. But I have convinced myself I am not going to get better at my FMQ by spending my time picking out stitches. My new policy, reinforced by many of the FMQ professionals, is to rip out only if absolutely necessary.

Instead I decided to mix it up a bit and do spirals on two of the other edges. I liked the spirals better but actually enjoy the presence of the feathers as well.

Feathers and spirals together break up the monotony of the stitching process as well as providing variety along the edge of resulting product. Purely by chance, I discovered they are quite similar and tend to complement each other.

All that is left to do is to trim the edges, make and stitch on the binding, attach a label, and add a hanging sleeve. Once finished, I will post the photo of the completed quilt in its entirety. For now I will link up with Let's Bee Social #190.