Monday, October 20, 2014

Around the World Blog Hop

Melody Miller Quilt Top
Melody Miller quilt top I'm going to start hand quilting next with sashiko stitches

Belated though I may be, I wanted to respond to my friend's gracious invitation to participate in the "Around the World" blog hop. To echo her sentiments, it's not normally my kind of thing, but I thought the nature of the questions posed were interesting and worth thinking about and sharing. Since I am so late to the party, I'm going to forgo tagging anyone but am sending a thank you to Natalie from Green Leaf Goods for thinking of me!

Sewing Table Reality Check
Reality Check: the sewing table in my workroom...want to play How Many Projects Can you Spot?!

1. What quilting/sewing thing am I working on?

The short answer is that I have one last Quilts for Boston top to finish and two quilts to sandwich and baste, my DS Quilts picnic top and my Melody Miller top. I also have a laptop case I'm trying to design for myself and two baby gift projects I want to finish, an Amish Puzzle Ball and a matching game.

In trying to better answer this question though, I had a look around my sewing room and took full stock of what was going on. I currently have eight quilts in some state of progress and five other sewing projects including several items for my shop, and some home decor sewing. For a long time, I felt almost guilty for admitting to people that had so many WIPs, as if it were some kind of reflection on my ability to finish things (or not). A recent series of articles from Sew Mama Sew on Slow Sewing helped me to reframe the issue and I've gotten comfortable recognizing that I choose and enjoy working in this way. Like so many, I have a busy and chaotic work schedule so when I get home, I like to have a bevy of projects at the ready depending on how much time and focus I have. One night, it might make more sense to be downstairs with other family members working on hand stitching. Another night, I have to be working in my office and it's easier to take a break every now and then to run a few seams on the machine as a treat to myself. At other times, I'm on the go and need something portable. Either which way, my prep work has been completed and I can jump right in on whatever I'm in the mood for! 

Kim's french press
I love adding hand stitched and embroidered details to my sewing and quilting projects


2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I think I fall pretty well into the modern quilting movement in terms of my fabric choices, love of asymmetric designs that put a twist on traditional blocks, and embrace of whitespace. This speaks to my background in graphic design and I love conceiving of a quilt with those ideas in mind.

I differ most in my work techniques, having been taught by my Granny who is a very traditional quilter. I tend not to use patterns and though I love and use my machine for a lot of things (and do not want to knock those that use it solely at all!), I personally find a lot more meaning and peace of mind in hand quilting so try to incorporate that whenever I can. I am terrible at free-motion quilting so I avoid it as well as the QAYG method and heavy laundering because my work in textile conservation has helped me to realize that these are not stable, long-term methods.

I also try to limit my stash buying habits to make my work process more green-friendly, using up all the scraps  I can (I love frankenbatting and stuffing plush items with too-small-to use fabric scraps) and avoiding some of the commercialism of quilting where I can. My sewing is slow, each project taking long enough to flow in and out of periods of my life so as to reflect different stories in its making and never keeps up with fabric line releases, try though I might at times.


Little Folks Quilt Top
This is a quilt top I have in progress using Anna Maria Horner's Little Folks voile.
I've been hand piecing it for a while now and have no intention of hurrying up! My idea with this was that it was so enjoyable and meditative to stitch into the buttery voile, that I would hand piece and quilt the whole thing as it pleased me. The top is almost 2/3rds done and completely inspired by my love of this fabric.


3. How does my writing/creating process work?

Inspriation comes in various forms for me. Most often, the roots of a quilt design lie in the nature of the specific purpose, person, or season I am making it for. Occassionally they are formed by my vision of a fabric line that really speaks to me (Denyse Schmidt's Chicopea and Anna Maria Horner's Little Folks are examples). Frequently, I am inspired by the work of fellow quilters and love collecting and comparing stellar quilts in my Flickr favorites and on Pinterest. These examples really help me to condense what I aspects I love most and inform my own altered or mish-mashed designs.

I tend to draw these ideas out on scrap paper so that I can calculate just how much fabric I'll need. As a grad student, I don't have a lot of extra cash for fabric so, though the improv approach is very appealing to me, I tend to plot things out in advance to make the most economic use of my stash. Alternatively, I might start by pulling certain fabrics whose colors or patterns work well together. This part of the process reminds me a lot of blending oil paints as an art student in college. It's really a gut call when it comes to color for me and is the part of my creative process that I love and prolong the most.



I hope you've enjoyed this insight into my work and hope that it's got you thinking about your own habits and style. I'll be back soon with some more progress and finished pieces soon!


Monday, October 13, 2014

Fall Finish: My Modern Maples Quilt

Modern Maples
Fabric from all my favorite designers in this including Anna Maria Horner (and one print from her daughter's first line), Denyse Schmidt, Heather Ross, and that one glorious Lizzy House fox print for good measure.

The first sketch I have for the layout of this quilt is from last August. I've always got several projects going at once, and this quilt was no exception to that rule. Though I did all the piecing in just a week or so during October 2013, I picked it up just here and there over the last year to finish it with some special hand-quilting. There was definitely a point or two where I questioned my sanity, but now that I can see all those little stitches lying next to each other, I'm thrilled with the decision and glad I stuck with it.

Modern Maples, Back

I kind of regret not being able to use the AMH flannel for the entire back. I had just a yard of it on hand so instead of splurging on more, I ended up combining it with some cheaper solid cream flannel. Though it's not topping my favorites chart, I can attest to the fact that backing a quilt for the colder months in flannel is an awesome way to go. I seem to always be cold but also cheap (we are holding out and not turning our heat on until November...) but with this quilt, I've been very toasty the past couple nights!
Modern Maples, Detail
Variegated Valdani pearle cotton and AMH voile pastry line binding details

All of the maple leaf blocks are quilted with a cream perle cotton which has given this quilt a surface texture that I am head over heels for. I've never been a big fan of variegated threads, but thought the white spaces in between would be an appropriate way to use them so as to echo the idea of changing colors. I had a really difficult time finding the colors I wanted from DMC perle cotton but found these fabulous tones from Valdani online in size 8 which worked really well for the hand quilting. Plus, I kind of just like seeing the lovely little paper lables noting they are from Romania

It's nice to look back on the progress of this quilt so I've gathered up all my instagram pics of it below from the past year...nothing quite like the satisfaction of seeing something come together that you made with your own two hands!!

Modern Maples, WIP Detail

From my original sketches and fabric selections to finished blocks and in-progress quilting


Monday, September 8, 2014

The DS Picnic Quilt

DS Picnic Quilt

Most of my summer sewing time has been devoted to repairing worn items of clothing in our closets, creating class and shop samples, and making gifts for friend's adorable babies and babies-to-be. I did manage to get in some time for my own projects though—one of which I finished a part of today!

DS Picnic Quilt, detail

I've been collecting bits of Denyse Schmidt's line of fabrics for JoAnn since they started appearing in stores back in 2011 and know I'm not alone in deciding these would make a perfect picnic quilt. I didn't get around to it right away but that has allowed me to shake up the color palette and bit by adding in a few yellows and oranges from later releases into the mix. Between all the primary colors, the reminder of old feedsack fabrics in Schmidt's designs, and the "small plates" quilt block, I think this is definitely one of the most traditional style quilts I've made so far. It's all very simple right angles, but  for all the wear this quilt will see, I'm just fine with that.

I finally tracked down a few yards of the fabric below for the back and am thinking of making a scrappy binding of all the other prints to echo the patchwork border. What do you think—scrappy binding or settle on one print and, if so, which one? Also, I have no clue as to how to quilt this...I'm not a free-motion quilter but would appreciate any suggestions you might have as I'm don't have anything in mind for it!

DS Picnic Quilt, WIP
Initial sketch and backing fabric

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Finishing Touches: The Indie Herringbone Quilt

Herringbone Quilt
just realized as I was posting this that the quilt is technically upside down here...so close

Once upon a time, a very very long time ago, I made this quilt which you can read a bit more about here. It languished in a pile of finished projects, just waiting to be photographed so I could hold onto a piece of it before sending it off to its intended owner. Well life happened and as I was feeling low about other things, it was nice to see this in my studio reminding me of what I could accomplish, nudging me to tackle new projects and make something I was equally proud of that I could keep for our home.

The reverse which I think I might actually prefer the most...

It's high time I did just that though so, thanks to some lovely mild weather we had this past weekend, we loaded up the car with finished quilts and set off on an adventure to discover some quiet corners of our town that might provide an interesting background. There are two lakes where we live and along an obscure side street, we came upon a deserted inlet off one of the lakes that seemed to belong to no one. Overlooking the lake, this pine-y point of land seemed the perfect spot to take some photos. It's such an interesting thing to me to find hidden nooks like this in ones own backyard—ones with lakefront access, at that!

But I suppose I digress...here you can see some detailed shots of how the quilting itself ended up. I used some contrasting magenta thread to do some straight line quilting on the top and bottom sashing which gives it such a great texture. For the main herringbone part of the quilt, I simply followed the bars of fabric to quilt an improv zig-zag line through them from side to side every couple rows.

Herringbone Quilt, detail

I finished the binding and embroidered label by hand—finishing touches that really pull the whole thing together. For the label, I was trying to create a visualization of how I actually went about constructing the rows of herringbone. I used back stitch and satin for the design and split for the little lettering in colors that matched as close as I could get them. I really do love when a label can tell a bit of the story of how a handmade object came to be, even in the smallest sense.

Ok, one last gratuitous glamor shot. The direct afternoon light and reflections off the lake made trying to do this successfully kind of impossible, but I just had to share it because I got excited about the idea of pulling if off while we were there and, a few half-baked attempts with fixing it in photoshop later, it will at least suffice—

Herringbone Quilt The fabric used is from Pat Bravo's Indie line by Art Gallery Fabrics

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Get Your Stitch On

Summer Classes 2014

Looking to learn a new skill this summer or brush up and hone your embroidery skills? I've got a packed schedule of events and classes for June and July at J.P. Knit & Stitch and hope you'll join us!

Be Inspired: Meet Our Sewing Instructors
June 13th, 6:00–8:00pm
A free event that is open to the public! Meet this rich community of creative talent (I'll be there as well), chat about upcoming classes, and check out lots of inspirational work from teachers and fellow students alike in a relaxed setting (you're welcome to show off your own work too).

Beginning Embroidery Workshop
June 14th, 10:00am–1:00pm
Take your first step in learning embroidery with this class in which each student completes a sampler of beginning outline stitches.

Learn to Sew Crash Course
June 28th, 10:00am–1:00pm
Get comfortable with your machine and learn to sew as you complete an easy envelope pillow.

Intermediate Embroidery Workshop
June 28th, 2:00–5:00pm
Step up your embroidery skills by learning several fill stitches and get troubleshooting help on your own projects with this afternoon workshop.

Beginning Embroidery
July 12th, 10:00am–1:00pm
Take your first step in learning embroidery with this class in which each student completes a sampler of beginning outline stitches.

Embroider Your Life Workshop
July 12th, 1:30–4:30pm
Embroidery your wardrobe, accessories, and your life with this fun and inspiring one day workshop!

Embroidered Lettering Workshop
July 26th, 1:00–4:00pm
Whether you're a quilter interested in creating a label, a knitter looking to embellish, or a seamstress adding flair to a garment, this class provides an introduction to hand embroidered lettering and monogram styles.


I hope to be adding some more classes for July and August so stay tuned!
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