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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    March 8, 2014

    Kits and Patterns of Published Projects

    The folks at Interweave have some of the projects I've done for them available on their website in the form of patterns or kits. I don't have any incentive in these sales but thought you might like to know since some people have asked if I would be selling patterns of these projects myself. Here are the projects and links.

    They have a kit available for the Modern Circle Table Runner that was featured in the Stitch Gifts 2014 issue. You can find it here.

    A pattern of the Chain of Circles Room Divider from the Modern Patchwork Spring 2013 issue is here.

    A pattern of the Happy Garden Light Shades form Stitch Magazine Spring 2013 issue is here.

    A correction to the directions for the Spring Circle Trivet in the Stitch Spring 2014 issue is here.

    I hope this helps those of you who have expressed interest in these projects and might not have a copy of the original magazine. Of course you can also probably still pick up the entire issue through the Interweave website as well. Have a nice weekend.   : )

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    March 7, 2014

    Springtime Circle Trivet

    It's snowing. Again.

    I really shouldn't complain because we haven't had that much snow here compared to other parts of the country. Although they say March is our snowiest month so I guess there's still plenty of time to catch up. On the other hand, temps are supposed to be close to 70 on Sunday. Colorado weather . . . what can I say. Wait a minute and it might change.

    So here's to wishing and waiting for spring. I have another spring project to share with you today. A small tabletop trivet made for Stitch Magazine's Spring 2014 issue on newsstands now.

    The design was based on what is sometimes referred to as a mock orange peel or cathedral window technique. Two circles of fabric plus the batting are sewn together and then turned right side out through a slit cut into the top fabric. Once the circles are sewn together and the edges folded back, the slit is enclosed. Fun and easy!

    The issue is packed with lots of fun, colorful projects. Some of the categories include Shapes, Mixing Prints and Chevrons, Dots and Stripes. These cute little Monster Lunch Bags in the Playful Patterns category are one of my personal favorites. Aren't they adorable? If only I still had little kids.

    My project was part of the Electric Pastel category. I used Michael Miller Flight Patterns Glee fabric by Tamara Kate as the feature print along with Kona solids in really bright pastel colors. Papaya, Candy Pink, Candy Green and Chartreuse. 

    I happen to like the idea of using my trivet as a special placemat for a vase of spring flowers.
    Now if only someone would go buy me some real flowers. hint hint . . .  : )

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    March 3, 2014

    Kite Tails

    How many of you are TIRED of winter and ready for spring? Me too!!!

    The warmer, brighter days are definitely stirring feelings of spring and summer so I thought it was about time I shared a summery fresh project with you. This quilt was part of the January/February issue of Generation Q magazine. Since it's now March and their new issue is coming out it's about time I catch up and share.

    This kid's quilt came about when I sent some designs to Generation Q for their block builder series way last spring. For this challenge they provide a square with a few lines . . . you design a quilt block based on the starter. If you haven't tried this, I definitely urge you to give it a go. They'd love it if you did. Plus it's a great prompt to get the creative juices flowing. Learn more about it here.

    Below you can see the starter block they provided on the top left and the block I designed next to it on the right. When I send in my block builder ideas I always include a layout of how it would look in a quilt. The folks at GenQ liked it so much they asked me to make it into a quilt for the magazine!

    We went with a different color scheme of scrappy black and white prints with bright color accents in shades of orange, pink, blue and green. I think it would look great in lots of different color schemes. Some of my early sketches included the all blue one above and also a scrappy one with loads of color. You could use just about anything. It's a basic string quilt with a twist. A perfect place for all those leftover strips.

    Kite Tails was made way last summer when the grass was green and there were leaves on the trees. It was a breezy day when we took the picutres so we tried hard to get her to fly but no such luck. Perhaps if my hubbie had gotten on the roof?

    Karen Dovala of The Quilted Moose did the quilting using a swirly cloud design that was just perfect. It added wonderful texture and movement plus a hint of color as the thread was a very light blue.

    As a bonus, I made a little kite complete with a tail from a leftover block. I think this would be so cute hanging on the wall in a nursery or kid's room. Alas, my kids are way way too big for this but someday I'll find just the right reason to make another one for someone special.

    I used a cloud print and solid scraps for the back.

    When I went to Quilt Market last fall, GenQ had my quilt hanging in their booth. A wonderful unexpected surprise! It added to the pleasure of getting to meet them in person. Thanks guys.

    For anyone who hasn't seen Generation Q magazine, please take a look. They are so nice to work with. I seriously suggest you give their Block Builder a try. It's fun and you never know what might come of your ideas. It could lead to being published.    : )

    Shortly after GenQ came out, so did the spring issue of Stitch which I also have a small project in. I'll share that little project later this week.

    These things happen so far in advance that they always seems so out of season at the time you're making them. Now they seem just right. Spring is on the way . . .  wahoo !!!

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