April 17, 2014

The Need to Create

This seemed like a random post perfect for Cindy's Really Random Thursdays.

While looking at images on Pinterest today, I was struck by the overwhelming wealth of creativity in the world. There are amazing things being imagined and made by thousands and thousands of people.

The sheer volume of creativity is enough to both inspire and, at times, even discourage. And I will admit I do sometimes feel discouraged. But much more often I am inspired. Inspired not only by what I see, but by the simple, basic fact that so many many many others are compelled to create and share their creativity with the world. Visual art, music, writing . . . you name it.

Today I was simply struck by the deep need, the absolute need, that I and so many many others have to create. To dream. To envision. To make with our hands. To give voice through our music and writing. To express ourselves by being creative.

I live in a house filled with creativity . . . we use drills to carve pumpkins . . . we make snow art . . . who knows what we'll use this year to dye Easter eggs.





I am a designer . . . a decorator . . . an artist . . . a quilter . . . a collector of fabric.
Beautiful gorgeous prints and intense saturated colors.





My husband is a graphic designer . . . an art teacher . . . a mixed media artist . . . a junk collector
See what crazy creative things he makes here.






My daughter is a jewelry artist  . . . a photographer . . . a writer . . . a collector of all things beautiful.
See her stylish, beautiful jewelry here.




My son is going to be an engineer. He will use his creativity to design, build, imagine solutions.
He is also a musician . . . creating in his own way.



I have always felt the passion, the desire and the need to create through visual art.
I am a better, happier, more content person when I am creating.
I live it . . . breathe it . . . and yes, even dream it.

So today I say thank you to all you creative people out there dreaming, making, sharing your art with the rest of us. Together I believe we truly make the world a better, more beautiful place. These are my random thoughts on living the life I love.

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April 13, 2014

Sew Solid Sunday with Esch House Quilts

Linking up today with Debbie of Esch House Quilts who has a regular monthly series going called Sew Solid Sunday featuring projects made from all solids.

As I was cutting strips today for a small quilt, I realized one of the fabrics was the same stripe I had used for the binding on Fitting In and since I don't have any new solid projects at the moment I thought I'd share an older one.

Fitting In was one of the first all solid quilts I made and came about as part of the Tetris Quilt Along by Melissa of Happy Quilting. It was the first, and so far only, quilt-a-long I've done.



Working on this quilt, the biggest challenge for me was the fact that there wasn't a plan. I'm not an improv kind of quilter. This wonderful little quilt came together week after week as Melissa gave us a set of shapes to play the Tetris game. I made myself stick to the "rules" of the game by building from the bottom up and simply allowing the design to emerge each week. It wasn't easy.



At first I felt compelled to try and fill all the spaces like you're supposed in the real game but am so glad I didn't. The white squares represent places where the game pieces didn't fit together right and yet they became a vital part of the final quilt. The design needed those empty spaces to create more visual interest and play. You can see how it all came together week by week by looking under the Tetris Quilt Along tag on the sidebar if you're interested in the weekly progress.



I chose a controlled palette of colors rather than the normal primary Tetris colors. In the end I loved how the quilt took shape each week. In many ways it's probably one of the more modern designs I've made. There is a randomness to it that I find quite pleasing.

One of the things about working with all solids that I find intimidating is that the solid fabric just begs to show off wonderful quilting and that is the part I am least comfortable with. For this one I simply did straight lines in a grid to reinforce the grid structure of the quilt. Nothing fancy but I think it's ok. Just ok. More lines would have been better but I needed something quick to get it finished on time.

I have 2 all solid projects in the wings that need to be done by the end of the month for challenge groups I'm in so hopefully next month I'll have a new finish to share on Sew Solid Sunday.

There are so many beautiful all solid quilts being made that it can be quite enticing to jump in and play with pure color and form. No distraction from prints and patterns. Yet I find that after I've made something using all solids, I'm usually quite ready to busy things up with some prints.  : )

How about you? Do you like working with all solids? If you'd like to see some inspiration check out Sew Solid Sunday links and my Pinterest board specifically for quilts from solids.

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April 9, 2014

Binding on a WIP Wednesday

Binding . . .  one down . . . one in the works . . .  two in the wings . . .

The good thing is it means I'll have finished projects to show you soon. But it sometimes feels like it takes FOREVER to bind a quilt.  These three quilts have been languishing in a pile for longer than I care to admit. It was far easier to start another quilt than to actually finish these.



I stitch my binding to the back by hand and have normally done it while watching listening to TV. (You can't really watch TV and sew at the same.)  Lately I've realized it is easier and quicker if I sew the binding while the quilt is supported at my desk. So rather than doing it in front of the TV I decided I'd do it in my studio. Trouble is I just didn't want to take the time out of a busy day to sit and do nothing but bind. Thus these quilts have been patiently waiting for me. Until now.

In order to speed things up, I'd love to master a machine method that really looks good. The one method I've tried is to stitch in the ditch from the front and catch the binding on the back. It's never even and there are always a few places that get missed alltogether. My perfectionism is showing isn't it?  So far my attempts have been less than satisfactory so I stick with hand stitching.

Recently though I heard of using glue rather than pins or clips to keep the binding in place. Supposedly more accurate since there aren't any pins causing distortion. Has anyone tried this with success? If so, any tips? Perhaps I'll give it a try with one of the quilts in the wings. For now I better get back stitching.

I'd love to know how you bind your quilts.
And yes, spring is back and the tulips are once again in full bloom . . . yippee!!!
Linking up with WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced.

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April 3, 2014

Spring . . . Maybe, Maybe Not

After living in Colorado for something close to 30 years I'm used to this . . . sort of.

Yesterday our front garden looked like this . . .



Today it looks like this . . .


Tomorrow it will look like the first photo again . . . I hope. Springtime in the Rockies. You just never know what to expect. Maybe that's why the northern Colorado shops join forces this time of year for a shop hop all in one location and call it Springtime in the Rockies. It's coming up April 11-12.

Since spring is so slow to arrive here, I get my fix of color playing with my fabrics. Last week I had a pile of these . . .



By the end of last week they became this lovely pile of blocks . . .



And this week they are on their way to becoming a finished top. Here's a sneak peak . . .



This is just one of four new patterns I hope to have finished and released in May. Fingers crossed.

Linking up with Cindy at Live a Colorful Life for a Really Random Thursday.
What random things are happening with you?

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March 26, 2014

WIP Wednesday

Color makes me happy. Especially coming after a long cold winter. I get a bit jealous of the springtime photos of blossoms and flowers I see online when we barely have a few tiny buds on the trees. No doubt we'll even have another snow before our Colorado spring is truly here. Thus this rainbow of colors is really brightening up a rather gray day here. Warm, but gray.

I but don't usually work with the entire color wheel in a single quilt, but my latest project just happens to really work well with the full spectrum of colors. 12 to be exact, taken right from the color wheel.



I also don't usually take the time to photograph cut fabrics before I dive in and start sewing. But somehow these bright cheery fabrics were just begging to be spread out into the color wheel.

I'll be pairing these brights up with some white and 2 light grays of Quilter's Linen. Stay tuned . . . I hope to have a bright new quilt soon.   : )

What colors are you planning to use in your next quilt?

Linking up with WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced.

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March 25, 2014

Quilting Happiness . . . What Makes You Happy?

Quilting Happiness . . . those two words just seem to go together don't they?

I recently read a most enjoyable new book, Quilting Happiness by Christina Lane and Diane Gilleland. I don't know either of these women, nor do I have any stake in writing about the book. I simply borrowed it from my local library. And I'm so glad I did. You can learn more about the book here.



It's more than a project book. While there are 20 wonderful projects included, it's the other aspects of the book that I found so interesting.  The authors delve into the reasons behind why we make quilts. In the introduction they ask the question, "which part of your latest project feels more valuable: the finished quilt itself, or the experience you had while making it?" They go on to add it's their hope the book . . . "will serve as a workbook of sorts to help you explore what makes you happiest in your quilting . . . "

Coincidentally, I had been giving some thought to this even before reading the book. I've been considering not only what defines my personal style but also what is it that draws me into the world of quilting in the first place. Why do I think about quilting all the time? Yes, I actually do think about quilting almost all the time. However, I'd never really thought about quilting from the happiness side of the equation. What is it about quilting that makes me happy? And for that matter, are there aspects that don't make me happy?

In the first chapter, the authors recommend "exploring your creative fingerprint and discovering how it shows up in your work." They define your creative fingerprint as a unique set of symbols, colors, textures, and ideas that sets your heart dancing. So here's my thoughts . . .

My creative fingerprint consists of:
  • Clear saturated bright colors . . . especially in the green/aqua and pink/orange/yellow families plus black and whites. A growing attachment to low volume as well.
  • Large scale prints by Kaffe Fassett and Amy Butler along with other tone on tone prints . . . especially stripes and dots.
  • A fondness for florals, and especially leaves, including both modern and traditional prints.

This is a glimpse of my creative fingerprint in terms of my stash.










Looking beyond my studio to what inspires me are things like:
  • the tiny details of texture and pattern found in both nature and the manmade environment.
  • the variety and subtlety of colors, especially those found in nature like trees and flowers.
  • the composition of elements when I pull back and look at the bigger picture of my surroundings, specifically in nature but also in the manmade world.
  • the design elements of line and repetition are of particular interest to me.

I love the details of plant life like these hosta leaves . . .


I love the abundance, variety and subtlety of color found in flowers.


I love to look for the compositions all around me . . . especially in nature . . . 


I love the qualities of line and repetition in this cracked ground and in the architecture . . . 




These things however just dent the surface. They are just a few of the things I find inspiring visually and they certainly influence my fabric choices but in and of themselves still don't explain why I love quilting. What exactly it is about quilting that I find so compelling. What is it about quilting that actually makes me happy?
  • First and foremost is the design process. I have a graphic design degree so that influence is part of who I am and how I see things. Designing makes me happy.
  • Playing with color and texture in the form of printed fabrics. I love playing with the colors and patterns in fabrics to see how I can combine them into something visually exciting.         An abundance of visual activity makes me happy.
  • Within this abundance of visual activity though I need structure.  I need a plan in most areas of my life. Spontaneity does not come easy to me . . . just ask my husband.  Improv quilts are wonderful but they are not my style. At least for now.                                            Playing with composition and structure as it relates to the quilt design makes me happy.
  • I love simple ideas and simple techniques. Most likely you won't catch me working on an intricate quilt that might take forever to complete. I'm impatient and have too many ideas so I'm always thinking about the next design before the current one is done. (There might also be a bit of a completion complex in there but that's an entirely different discussion altogether.)          Simple ideas and easy construction make me happy.
  • Did I mention designing makes me happy? That's why I include design options in my patterns.    I really really love to design.





But to be honest, there are also parts of quilting that don't make me so happy. There are things I don't really love so much. In the past I have let myself feel guilty about not loving or at least wanting to do it all. More recently I have come to terms with admitting this and being ok with it.
  • I don't really like to do the actual quilting. I appreciate and love the beautiful texture quilting brings to a finished quilt, but I struggle with getting the results I want on my machine. I also don't like the time involved. I'd rather be designing my next quilt.
  • Sometimes I don't even like the actual sewing of the blocks. Gasp! Yes, it's true. I think this comes into play when the blocks are all identical and there are really no more design decisions to be made, it's simply production mode sewing. The design part is over and I've mentally checked out and moved on to the next quilt. It's much more fun when I still have design decisions to make along the way. 
Obviously for me the trick is balancing the design process with the sewing so I actually get quilts made, not just designed. I'm still working on finding this balance.

Getting back to the question from the book, "which part of your latest project feels more valuable: the finished quilt itself, or the experience you had while making it?"  For me it's both but mostly it's the process. It's in the designing and playing and choosing of fabrics and color that I have the most fun. This is the time when I am in a place of higher creative energy. I find satisfaction in the feel and look of a finished quilt in my hands, on my bed or hanging on the wall, but I'm always ready to start designing again. For me the real fun is in the process.

How about you? What gets your creative juices flowing? What about quilting makes you happy?

Adding this post to Really Random Thursdays at Live A Colorful Life.

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    March 19, 2014

    WIP Wednesday

    Time for more house blocks.

    I belong to two bees and over the past year have made house blocks three separate times. Seems quilting up a neighborhood of houses is popular. They certainly do make for a very fun quilt. Perhaps some day I'll dream up my own neighborhood now that I finally don't mind making them.

    You might remember they weren't my favorite block to make. For my first house block I did a completely improv method with no planning and was not thrilled with the results. For my second house block I used a paper piecing method and was much happier. This time, I used a method from the book Collaborative Quilting by Freddy Moran and Gwen Marston. If you aren't familiar with Freddy and Gwen's books I highly recommend them. I have both books and can tell you they are full of colorful, happy, scrappy quilts.




    Now don't get me wrong, house blocks are not hard to make. It's just taken me three tries to get the hang of it. Third time's a charm right? Freddy and Gwen's method is basically improv but somehow it just came together easier than the first time.

    These houses are for Wendy as part of our Boulder Modern Quilt Guild Bee. She gave us all a pile of scraps and the basic info from the book with an anything goes directive. When I opened up my fabric pile I saw lots of blue and aquas. The prints and colors had a very beachy feel so I threw in a little island floral print for a couple of them to add some punch.




    With the little scraps left, I managed to squeeze out a third block too. For this last one, I just had to add some water. In retrospect a bit of beach between the house and water might have been good. With the flooding we had around here earlier late last year it just might be interpreted wrong. Maybe I'll still go back and try some sand. What do you think?



    Here they are all together. Hope Wendy likes them. It will be fun to see everyone's houses in a couple of weeks when we have our next sew day with the Boulder Modern Quilt Guild. If you are anywhere near Boulder, CO we'd love to have you visit us. Check out the link above for more info.



    Linking up with WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced. Hop over and see what's going on in blogland.

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