Monday, November 09, 2015

Reflecting on Workshops

I gifted myself with a 2-day workshop with Patty Hawkins for my birthday yesterday and so, today, my design wall is a portable one.

Work-in-Progess on my portable design wall

The organic-looking shapes are "me," but the rest of it is completely outside my comfort zone in terms of colors, techniques, process and ... well, just about everything else. I came home feeling completely spent and absolutely loved it.

We started by sketching and abstracting a shape from a magazine page, then constructing a paper collage from construction paper (with a bit of newsprint) ... not using scissors. Can you find the torn paper collage (value study) of my leaf-inspired shape in the gallery of collages?

Gallery of Paper Collage

Letting go and just following the process where it led me was not easy for me, but well worth the journey.  While my project is far from done, I came home with a clear idea of where I wanted to go.

As I looked around the room and the great variety of projects, I saw that some others had followed a different path, using familiar-to-them shapes in their usual color palettes–they stayed in their comfort zone and used what they knew would work ... and ended up with very successful pieces that definitely looked like "them," but I wonder if they came home feeling creatively spent and what they felt they learned from their effort.

A couple others raced through the workshop, as if it was a competition and produced multiple pieces–which may or may not have embodied the process and techniques we were there to learn ... but I have no doubt that they went home feeling like the "winner" of the day. 

We all approach learning in our own way.  As adults, it is harder to let go of what you think you know and try something knew.  I actively had to work at it as I know some of my classmates did.  Over the course of the two-day workshop, I felt like I could almost see the lightbulbs coming on over the heads of those  that had, like me, suspended disbelief and worked out of their comfort zone, following the path presented to us. 

Thank you Patty, for teaching me a new way to look at design and nudging me along an uncomfortable, but rewarding path. 


If you have a chance to take a class with Patty, don't miss it. She's a great teacher (and encourager).

Monday, October 26, 2015

A New Community Service Project

Saturday, the Northern New Mexico Quilt Guild had a community service sewing day.  They need more large bed-size quilts and organized an interesting bed-sized scrap quilt for us to make.

On the floor in the center of the room were packets of 30 background fabric squares.  In four piles spread around the room were  strips of fabric in different widths.   To create a quilt "kit", we picked up a background packet and then chose 120 of the strips–30 from each size/pile. It looked something like this:

Background packets

Picking Strips Picking Strips

It was a fun way for everyone to build their own kit.

I bordered about half my blocks during the morning. After a lunch break, we gathered our chairs for the guild meeting.  I came home after the meeting and finished making the blocks. I had 30 blocks bordered, sliced and re-assembled by the end of the day.

Here's some blocks on my design wall, showing step 1 and 2.

Community Service - Step 1 Community Service Sewing - Step 2

The quilt pattern we used (with the designers permission) is Scrappy Love by Cintia Gonzalez (of My Poppet) from Fresh Quilts magazine.

I am looking forward to squaring up and putting together my blocks and seeing ALL the quilts that came from those 4 piles of strips on Saturday.  

Joining the lists for Design Wall Monday and  Oh Scrap!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

QOV Works in Progress

I feel stalled on my quilts for Quilts of Valor ... so maybe blogging about these works in progress will help me kick my butt into gear.

It starts with a PanelMy guild's QOV mini-group has started a challenge.  We each start with one of two panel designs ... and make a quilt (top) by January. This is mine.

I have an idea about where I want to go with this, but ... haven't yet actually done ANYTHING beyond thinking about it.

Since I haven't EVER made a quilt using a panel, this may turn out to be more of a challenge than I envisioned ... but, you know, I have a very hard time saying know to a challenge ...

The colors are actually more dull and muddy-together than they appear on my screen. One of my goals is to do something to help pull apart the image of the eagle from the top half of the U.S. by repeating all the colors in my quilt.

In the meantime, I have started using the bag of 1 1/2-inch QOV strings that were gifted to me.

Foundation pieced string blocksI simplified a block that caught my eye when reading blogs–I can't exactly remember where, does anyone recognize it? Anyway I drew a foundation pattern with pencil and paper and have been paper-piecing these blocks.

After making a couple test blocks from my hand-drawn pattern, using a leave-in stabilizer for the foundation, I decided I liked it well enough to create something more precise in EQ.

Then, I woke up a few weeks ago, on the morning when the QOV mini-group meets, thinking about using the method where the foundation is printed on (the non-shiny side) of freezer paper and you don't sew through the paper. I thought it would be an easy thing to print some foundations onto freezer paper and try it at the mini-group ... turns out the hardest part of the process is getting the freezer paper–cut off the roll–to become flat enough to go through the printer. This is easier said than done ... but I did it, though I was late for the mini-group.

These eight blocks represent the original 3 (with foundations) and 5 made using the freezer paper method. I will need 80 of these 7 1/2-inch blocks to make a quilt that is 60 by 75 inches.

And then, there's this ... still waiting for me to quilt and finish it.

New Photographic Challenge

The backing and batting are ready ... I think I just needed to think through the how and where.  There isn't enough space in my sewing room to open the work-table I would ordinarily use to baste a quilt and I am still thinking about the best way to do it in the space I have.  I may take it with me and see if I can use the tables at the quilt shop after the meeting today. I am looking forward to quilting it ... as usual, it's the basting that slows me down.

Joining all the pretty appliqué project links at Esther's WOW (WIPS on Wednesday) and WIP Wednesday on Freshly Pieced.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Row Quit Progress

On the Design WallThe row quilt progresses

Here it is with it's third row complete–Twinkle blocks, which are this month's block pattern on

I thought I should come clean and show you how they live on my small design wall  ... not as rows, but as vertical strips.   The design wall is narrower than the rows, but even vertically, it still works to give me an idea to see how I like the blocks and colors adjacent to one another.

In addition to making the 7 Twinkle blocks this week, I also played with all these tiny leftover triangles.

Tiny Bonus Triangles

Believe it or not, when they are this small, I usually toss them, but I think those shiny irridescent shot cottons sucked me in and I couldn't resist playing and seeing what they might become. 

I posted more details on my process (both for the row and the leftovers) on the Block Lotto today:

 Week 3 - Twinkle.

Twinkle BlockYou can find more information about the 9-inch Twinkle block, with links to the block pattern and paper foundation piecing version here:

Twinkle, Twinkle, Monochromatic Stars in October.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

More Circles ... For a Good Cause

I used the sample blocks from the 6-minute circle demo I mentioned yesterday to make placemat's for one of my guild's community service projects. You might recognize them as two of last year's lotto blocks: Sunrise and Bead-on-a-String.

4 Placemats for Kitchen Angels

I had fun playing with quilting designs over the weekend and finishing them up–the bindings are sewn down by machine, so no Slow Sunday Stitching for me today.

I wanted to try Karen's Feather Galaxy fill pattern ... but I never quite found my rhythm.

Quilting for "Beaded Placemat"The dark gray thread showed up a lot more than I expected on the gray-on-black background, too.

I will likely try it on another project and probably change it up enough to make it work better for me. You can see what it's supposed to look like in this YouTube video.

Even if it isn't "right," I really do love the combination of spiral, feather shapes and pebbles.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

6-Minute Circles, Redux

If you have followed my blog for a while, then you know I have embraced Dale Fleming's 6-minute circle technique and it has become a beloved tool in my bag of quilting techniques and tricks.

2 Circle BlocksRecently, I was asked to demo it for my mini-group and then we decided to practice by making circle blocks for a small group quilt.  This morning I needed some playtime, so I made these three blocks.

We are using two southwest-inspired fabrics for all the circles and adding fabrics from our stash to frame them–purple for the one with the gold background and green for the red background.

For those unfamiliar with the technique, there are a few good videos online of Dale Fleming demonstrating her technique:

Simply Quilts
The Quilt Show (you must be a member to view this one)

Her book is also a great resource and goes far beyond the "6 minute circle" in showing you how you can use this technique–here's a link to the kindle version:

I mostly followed the steps as outlined, until seeing the circle tutorial Marie put together where she leaves the freezer paper on until after the seam is sewn. I found it SO much easier to see where I was going ...

Sewing the circle blockMarie has great step-by-step photos of the entire process in her tutorial, but here's a quick look at what sewing the seam looks like.

I had not before switched to a zipper foot (as recommended by the author) so I thought I'd try it today. I liked how easily I could follow the edge of the freezer paper circle, but it bugged me that I couldn't see the needle going into the fabric like I could when I used my open toed foot.

Now that I've been making these circles for a while, I have a little checklist of methods and reminders that work for me:

  • Take the time to create a double-layer of freezer paper.  It creates a sturdier edge in the center and will last through 5 or 6 blocks.
  • If you are putting a circle in the center of a block, make it easy to get it centered perfectly by cutting the freezer paper the same size as the background/frame.
  • The circle (or whatever shape) is always cut to be the FINISHED size
  •  If you are gluing fabric-to-freezer paper, go lightly. When you are gluing fabric-to-fabric, be generous, especially along the circle edge.
  • Press well after every step. 
  • Leave the circle fabric large if you want to be able to move the frame around and decide what goes in the circle. Otherwise, I start with a square that is 1 inch larger than the finished circle size.
It's a fun block, which is 90% preparation and 1 seam.  Ours are 9 inches (finished size) with a 7 inch circle.  I have a couple layer cakes that could become simple circle quilts for community service next year.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Row Sampler Progress - Week 2

The second row I added is made from the Many Triangles blocks we made in August. You can find the link to the block pattern for the blocks (which are 4 1/2 by 18-inches) in this post on

Fabrics Cut for Many Triangles Row Earlier this week in another Block Lotto post, I blogged about how I modified the pattern to create a row from 3 1/2 of the wide blocks and my thinking when I chose the fabrics used in this row.  You can find the details here:

Week 2 of 12 + 12 = 1

Below is a closeup to show you the black bean tamale sacks (printed with black ink) I used for this row and how they look in combination with my other fabrics.

  Detail photo - Row 2

And here's how the completed row looks next to the the row of tulip blocks. 

Two Rows Done

I am joining the party for WIP Wednesday on Freshly Pieced.
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