Saturday, March 1, 2014

Book Review: Modern One-Block Quilts by Natalia Bonner and Kathleen Whiting

Through the Vancouver Modern Quilt Guild and C&T Publishing, I was able to pick a book to review.  I chose the "Modern One-Block Quilts" by Natalia Banner and Kathleen Whiting as it sounded like a great book to see what can be done with the traditional idea of repeating the same block to make it modern.  This book does that and so much more.  It's a great book with amazing quilts that give a Modern spin on repeating the same block.

This book has 22 quilt projects each made from one repeating block.  Some of the blocks are very simple and some are very complex.

The book starts with a very short  “Sewing Basics” section.   There are quick how-tos on making snowballs, half square triangles, and flying geese.  The “no waste” flying geese instructions are great.  I’ve seen them several times, but never know where to find them when I need it.

Then there’s a short page on “Finishing the Quilt” with a paragraph or two on backing, batting and basting.    Binding gets two pages with instructions for making straight and bias binding.  A good resource if you need reminding or if you are a new quilter.

There is really no information on quilting or even suggestions of how to quilt each project.  But, in the full page pictures of the quilts you can see enough of the quilting on some of them for ideas on how you can finish your own.

Each quilt project starts with a full page picture of the quilt in a lovely setting, then ends with a full page picture of the entire quilt flat.

The instructions include 3 sizes for each quilt and the materials table and cutting table clearly give you requirements for each size.  There is also an assembly diagram clearly showing you the layout of the blocks for each size of quilt.

Most of the quilts in the book are made of solids and none of them have borders.  The look is really modern and the colours chosen for the pictured quilts are very hip and current.  Many of the quilts have a limited palette of 2 colours on a white or cream background.  This may sound boring, but the quilts look really
fantastic.

I paged through the book to see if there were any quilts that I would actually want to make as that’s my criteria of a good book.  There are 8 quilts that I really like in the book and another 3 that have interesting layouts that I’ll probably incorporate into future quilts.  So I can say this book is a winner.

The instructions are clear, well presented.  The fabric requirements and cutting directions are laid out in a table, then the sewing instructions are given step by step.  I decided to try out the “Squared Scraps” quilt to see what following the instructions are like.   The yardage listed is quite generous, so you can make a couple mistakes and still have enough fabric to complete the size of quilt you select.

One minor complaint, they don’t tell you how many strips to cut for each element.  For example, for the Squared Scraps quilt, you need 48 pieces of white that are 3 ½ by 9 ½.  I wish they would say, “cut 10 3 ½ in strips, width of fabric, then cut them into 9 ½ in sections, each strip yields 4 segments.” That way you’d know how much to cut at once.

The sewing instructions are great and they even suggest what you can sew together before cutting if you want to strip piece some of the elements.

I got the baby size pieced on a Saturday using some hand dyed batics.

I highly recommend this book.  It is great for modern quilters and for traditional quilters who want to try something a little more modern.  There are so many great quilts in it that are graphic, bold, modern and beautiful.  The pictures are amazing, the instructions are clear for each size, and there are quilts that will appeal to all types of quilters.

Beginner quilters can find several amazing quilts that will be within their skill level, and experienced quilters can be challenged by some of the quilts. 

Friday, January 31, 2014

Oranges and Lemons

I'm finally using some of the fabric I batiked and dyed!
I started dying several fabrics in the same colours to create a bunch of fabrics that go together.  I just made strips and put them together for this top.  I call this one Oranges and Lemons. 

I thought the background might have been a bad choice, so I made the back with white...
and I added in a steely blue.  Each rectangular block is improvised with strips, blocks or boxes.  This turned out different from the hard boiled eggs quilt as on that one I used only a fat quarter of the featured print.  This one has lots of all the batiks and just a little of the blue and gold.  I think this will be a quilt that both sides will be liked.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Workshop for the Sunshine Coast Quilter Guild Retreat 2013 - Part 2

More quilts from the workshop.

I love his one.  It's the colours and the retro feel to the printed fabrics that she used and all the solids.  The squares with the dark grey strips were added later because the quilt was looking very pale.
There are two more block to get added to the top or bottom to make it a bit longer.  By blocks, I mean sets of 4 quarter blocks. There's actually a wide strip of pieced "sashing" that winds through the quilt.  Can you find it?  She actually got this all sewn together by the end of the workshop.

Jennifer used a dark grey as her background colour.  The blocks were looking a little dark until she added in the orange and yellow.  Look at how wonky the angles turned out.  She used pointy "squares" to start out the bulls eye and got lots of motion in her blocks.  You can see a wide strip of pieced "sashing" going up and down.  Jennifer has more on the go to add in and she may make another block or two also.  I can't believe I didn't get more pics of this quilt while it was being made.

I didn't get a shot of this one while it was on the design wall.  We didn't have enough room once people got 4 or more bulls eye blocks cut up.  This one had a bit of a tailored look and there's thin piping along the seams of some of the blocks.  I like how the grey and yellow fabrics go together so well.  Great choices!  I hope she'll send me a picture of the finished quilt top.  I want to know how she'll put it together.  Will there be pieced sashing?

Here's another one without a white background.  I love the solid blocks that are scattered through the quilt.  They will be a great place to feature some fancy quilting. This quilt got done in half the time as she had to miss the first day of the workshop.
Notice there's some mini bulls eye blocks as well as the big quarter size blocks.  The mini ones have a cool folded centre square that adds a bit of 3D texture to the quilt.  I think she's going to make some more blocks to get this up to queen size.I got a quick lesson on how to do the fold to make that on-point square.  I just hope I can remember that special move after you do the first two centre folds.

Dale used a light batik for the background colour and a nice daisy print for the centre of each bulls eye.  This one turned out looking very restful and sweet, not the the angular grey and orange one sharing the design wall with her. She added background sashing to two sides of each block then got this up and down layout where the blocks are not all lined up in rows but sort of bounce around the quilt.  Most quilts made with this technique end up very angular and angry and a bit jarring, but here's one that looks pretty calm.

Carol's quilt blocks start out looking really west coast.  I love all the black and white prints she used and that red is perfect.  This layout isn't what she'll probably end up with.  We were just placing blocks and pieced sashing strips anywhere to get an idea of what could work. 


This one is another one with batiks and features a bright centre block
More blocks are being created to increase the size.  Looks like there will be orange centers mixed among the yellow centers.  I really like the mix of wide and narrow strips of  the colourful batiks.  The judicious use of bright red and dark blue scattered around all the similar greens really make this top interesting.  Note all the inclusions in the coloured strips and in some of the white background.  I think when the orange centered squares get mixed in it will look warmer perhaps.

This one turned out unexpectedly wonky.  The white fabric is a bit stretchy so some of the strips went a little wobbly, giving it a true Gees Bend look.  The centers of the bulls eye are a black and white fabric and that inspired adding narrow black and grey sashing between the blocks.  Look at all the little bits of colour in some of the black.

I am so amazed how different each quilt turned out.  We all used the save technique, but personalities start showing through the blocks.  I wonder as an exercize, what would happen if we all used the same fabric.  How different would each person's blocks end up?

I'm hoping to get pictures from the quilters as they get the top together.  I don't even need to see it quilted.  I'd love to see the final version of the top.  If it gets quilted, that would be a bonus!  We really didn't talk much about how to quilt the tops other than me suggesting an all-over boxy stipple would work, or half inch apart 'L' shapes in each block would work too.  Maybe something curvy would soften the quilt a bit, or maybe that would just look too out of place.

I think I talked everyone out of putting a border around their quilt.  My thought is a pieced sashing keeps the wonky improv look going.  Also no border makes it seem as if this may be a detail of a much larger piece of art.  The doesn't end at the edges, but keeps on going on and on.  A border would say, "This is it, there isn't any more."  The binding is all you need to edge this type of quilt.  The purple one on page 1 is probably the one that is closest to having a border, but since the internal sashing is just a wide, it's not really a border at all.

I came home on Sunday exhausted, but energized!  I may even finish of a couple of projects in the next couple weeks!

Thanks, Sunshine Coast Quilters for a wonderful retreat!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Workshop for the Sunshine Coast Quilter Guild Retreat 2013 - Part 1

Last weekend I headed up to Gibsons to give a two day workshop on the Gees Bend style quilt.  A year ago I drove up with all my quilts and quilt tops and did a trunk show about my journey from traditional to modern quilting.  There was enough interest so I got invited to do a workshop up there for their retreat.

It was so much fun.  I had 13 women in my workshop and below is a photo journal of what we accomplished over the 3 days of the 2 day workshop.  I don't know where that 3rd day came from!

I'm terrible with names, so I'll try to match up the names of the participants with their quilts.  Forgive me, ladies, if I get it wrong or if I really should have remembered your name and didn't. 

First, here's me working the room.

This one was all purple and green batiks to make the blocks.

And then with some really wide sashing, became a really Gees Bend looking quilt!  Those random pieces scattered in the sashing really give this one such a non-traditional look.  Sort of like naive outsider art.
 Just one more side to sash and it's done!

Here's the process that we used with the guild president Jeanette's blocks. Make a square bulls eye.
 Cut it into quarters and mix up the quarter blocks.
 Make more and scatter the quarters around. 

Notice the little "inclusions" in some of the strips.  The rule was if you have to sew two strips together to make it long enough, you had to cut in in the centre and add a contrasting fabric in the block, not at the end.  Of course, one extra bit is never enough, so you can see some strips have several inclusions.  Even some of the white background strips have inclusions.

Here's Kim's rust and green blocks.  She used the left-overs from another quilt that featured the leaf print that's in the centre of the blocks.  The little squares are 1/4 inch checkers she had pieced for the other quilt.  They made excellent inclusions scattered throughout the quilt.  Kim stayed up all night working on this "exploded block" layout.  She pretty much used up every scrap of black that she had.  She's actually hiding an area of white where there isn't enough black.
 This technique is harder to do with a coloured background for the blocks, but Kim was able to really make her's effective with the colours of the blocks, the black sashing and the layout.  I think she's almost exhausted her second wind in this shot.

Holly's blocks used a variegated green fabric.  The light end became the background and the dark end became one of the coloured strips.  I loved the coral fabric for the background, but I'm not sure what Holly has decided to use.  This is just the blocks laying on the yardage she brought.  I think she's making another block or two before she decides.

Part two coming up next.

Monday, October 14, 2013

See Me and My Trunk Show in Person!

Tooting my own horn

The Vancouver Modern Quilt Guild was contacted by TAGOR, Textile Arts Guild of Richmond, to see if anyone could give a talk about this "Modern Quilting" movement that's been going around.  I eagerly agreed and here's the updated announcement:

If anyone is in the lower mainland (for you non-BC residents, that means if you're in the Vancouver area.) feel free to come.  Well I guess not free, but do come.

While, I'm on a tangent, you know how Washington state talks about the Pacific Northwest? Does that make this part of Canada the Pacific Southwest?  Does it feel a bit like the US doesn't know anything exists above their border?  Any-how, lower mainland is pretty much all the communities along the mouth of the Fraser River up to Abbotsford, I guess.  That would be Vancouver, North Van, West Van, Burnaby, Port Moody, Coquitlam, PoCo, New Westminster, Maple Ridge, Mission, Richmond, Delta, Surrey, Langley, Abbotsford and White Rock. When I looked it up, I see Chilliwack isn't included and that's my hometown!  and if you go much further, you're beyond Hope.  Oops, Google says it includes Chilliwack and Hope too and actually contains 59% of BCs population!  You are all welcome to come.

I've started collecting quilts I made for others back for the talk, and of course will show lots of unfinished quilts, as that's pretty much my thing.  You know, make the quilt top, then put it away.  I was thinking of trying to get a couple more finished for the show, but, why?  I don't want to pressure myself when there's so much else happening and of course so many more quilt tops to start on too!

Do come as I'll be talking about some of the traits of modern quilts and how they are really variations of what we all do as traditional quilters.  If you are a traditional quilter, you may see a quilt of mine that you'd like to try for yourself.  The fun of alot of modern quilts is you don't need a pattern.  Just sketch out a sort of layout or plan, and then go for it.

There's going to be a lot of this if I don't get some "holders":
Check out the Vancouver Modern Quilt Guild on Flickr for pictures of our members quilts

And there's a great group to help and encourage you - the Vancouver Modern Quilt Guild and the Fraser Valley Modern Quilt Guild.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Update on Kshreya's Quilt

Here's Kshreya on her quilt.  What a cutie she is!  At this point she has her dad's hair, but hopefully it will grow in.

I quilted it with one off-centred spiral each line about an inch apart.  I was thinking of doing two spirals that overlapped, but it felt the right amount of softness after just one, so I stopped. 



Kamya's quilt:

Here's the quilt I made for her sister, Kamya, about 5 years ago when she was this size.  It's very traditional and I used 30s reproduction fabrics and a white-on-white background.  I think what keeps it from being entirely traditional, is although I used sashing and borders, they are all the same background colour, which makes the pinwheels float on the quilt rather than being boxed in.

Pinwheel quilt front
And here's the back.
Don't tell Kamya, but I was using up fabric that I didn't really like that much for the back.  Now, I probably would have used solids for a punch of colour.  I do like the off-set stripes and that the pin-wheels aren't in the centre.  And I notice they are spinning in the opposite direction and I got 5 rather than 4 across.  I wonder if these were planned or accidental.  The quilt has an all over stipple with curves about the size of a quarter.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Common Threads Indigo Quilt Project

Sheila and Elsie from the VMQG invited me to join their church group in creating quilted banners for their church's Parish Hall.  More about the project here: http://common-threads-125.tumblr.com/about/
A couple months ago I got in on two days of indigo dying that was fascinating.  I did some stitching on fabric, then pulling it tight to gather the fabric then putting it in the indigo pot.  I also did some clamping and some shibori where you wrap the cloth around a wide pipe, scrunch it down so it's all wrinkled, then put the pipe in the indigo pot.  You get a nice watery look.

Then after weeks of dying, I returned to collect my banner panel template.  That's the paper on the left.  You can see the red swoosh drawn in and the rules were dark on the bottom, light on the top.  I collected some light fabric and lots of dark and mediums.  There were lots of linens, some of them quite thin or very thick.  They were very hard to work with and I'm a bit worried that a seem or two might come apart over the years.  The hardest was a piece of velvet that would not stay still when you tried to sew a quarter inch seem.  Those 6 pieces are very puffed up and 3 dimensional, so I'll leave them un-quilted.
 I wanted to do something with my big wedge ruler, like the big wheel quilt I did earlier, but more inprovised and explosive looking.  I got the OK to make the red part pixelated, not smooth, and got the OK to make the centre of the circle red, so here's what I did.  It's sort of an explosion, or the sun, or creation.  This panel is one that's on the east wall of the hall, so maybe it's sunrise.

It was not easy getting it to lay flat.  I actually had to sew in some darts on the edges to reduce the ruffles.  There's still one that's bugging me, but I think I can fold it and quilt along the fold to hold it down.
The back has some wedges that are off-cuts that hung over the edges of the template when I squared it up.  The white wedge is for the label.

Hopefully I'll have it quilted by the end of the week.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Kshreya's Quilt

I'm working on a quilt for my co-worker's new baby.  I made one for her sister, so now I need one for her.  She was born in the spring, so this isn't that late.

I saw a great quilt with the three diagonal stripes on each block and had to make my own version.  This one is very low-volume, and at first I thought it was too pale, but it's been growing on me.
 I swapped out some blocks that were just too low volume and chose these. It's about 32 inches by 42 inches.
 I waited a month or so for inspiration to strike for the back.  In the end I went back to making banners which I've done on three quilts now.  I put together strips to get a 7 inch wide strip and cut the triangles from that.  I ran out of the Kona Snow, so mixed in some slightly darker fabric to get this scrappy look.
Three cheers for 505 basting spray!!  I'll be quilting it in the next few days in two overlapping spirals.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Striped Hexies

I always have wanted to make a striped hexie quilt and I finally found the perfect striped fabric.  It has colourful stripes of varying widths on a white background.  I bought 2 yards then calculated the size of triangle that maximized the number of hexies I'd get out of each yard.  I realized I wouldn't have quite enough, so I pieced together some stripes to add to each strip so that I could get a few more rows of triangles.  Most triangles have at least a colour and a white strip added.  Some are mostly added strips with only an inch or two of the original fabric.


I had problems deciding how to edge the quilt.  I didn't want to cut off the side hexies to straighten out the quilt, and I didn't want a pointy edge either, cause how do you pull that up to your neck?  I finally decided to edge it all with a light grey, so now the hexies are laying on top of a grey field.  I think it actually looks really good.

I'm thinking about the back now.  Maybe a giant hexie coming up from a bottom corner that takes up about a third of the back?  Maybe I'll make the stripes out of solids.

I got to show this off at the guild anniversary meeting in the park.  We had our meeting outside and brought a picnic  to eat during the meeting.  There were 4 bands that showed up while we were there that set up under trees and jammed all evening long.  I didn't know that was a thing here in Vancouver.  I guess they just get together and jam in the park.  A friend of mine wandered by looking for her ukelele group, so that was even another group somewhere jamming in the park.


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Bits and Pieces that I'm working on

After all the dying activity abated, I've got back to working on several projects.

Dog Mat


I made a little quilt for the bottom of a doggy kennel for a friend from the band who plays sax.


 I thought the text strips would be like training a puppy with newspaper on the floor.  I did some quilting from Angela Walters book. (A signed copy, thank you very much)

I used the Mod Mosaic technique for one side, and the pick-up sticks technique for the other side.

Scrap Slabs

I made three slabs for the Calgary flood relief that Cheryl Arkinson is organizing.  She is here giving workshops and I was able to catch her trunkshow where she showed off her quilts from the Sunday Morning Quilts book.  I bought the book there and she signed it too.  The book is all about using your scraps.

She also debuted her new book, A Month of Sundays.  That book contains quilts, clothes, recipes and essays and it looks really good too.

I made a couple of fabric boxes to tame my scrap heap from her book, "Sunday Morning Quilts."  (A signed copy, too!)

 Here's one of my new cupboards with mainly solids - and the two fabric boxes for scraps - a blue one and a grey one.

Lake Winnipeg Beach Baby Quilts


I am making three suns to go on three baby quilts using a New York Beauty style block for the sun.  I drew out one that's really big, then tried using Illustrator to do one on the computer.  Something happened to my version of Illustrator, so I finally did it using FireWorks - a stripped down image editor that's really for web graphics and images.  I didn't like the 4 points per quadrant, so I made a 5 points per quadrant one that looks sunnier.
 The big one is the one we are going with, so now I gotta make 2 more.  The Kaffe Fassett fabric works great for these suns. There's also a clam and a bird for the front, then a bunch of fossils for the back. All times 3!

Single Girl Block

I also tried out a Single Girl block using my own home made templates.  I made an arc template and am improv piecing the arc, then cutting it to size using the template.  I'm too lazy to make a bunch that I can paper piece onto, which would probably work out easier.  Maybe I'll draw one up and photocopy it a bunch of times.