QuiltCon Obsession

Since 2014 I have entered at least one quilt to be considered for QuiltCon. The first one I made was a quilt for the Michael Miller Fabric Challenge. You can see it here. It wasn’t accepted and I tried to figure out why, so I studied the quilts which were accepted. Before this year, I had four accepted:

Random Perfection
How to Play Hopscotch
Mod Drunk
Couch to 5K

This year I have two accepted:

Off the Square
Splitting Cat Hairs

My quilts have never won an award. I’ve entered quilts in Mid-Atlantic Quilt Festival as well. The judge’s comments usually compliment the design and there’s almost always an execution suggestion. I was particularly surprised that the judges believed the hand quilting on Mod Drunk was distracting and the tension was too tight. Because of those comments, I have tried to be more conscious of “mistakes”. I fret over the binding and the quilting. But, I make mistakes and don’t notice them until it’s too late to fix them. Sometimes I’m impatient to finish a quilt and I’m not mindful of all the details. I enjoy the design process more than I enjoy the execution part. I’ll continue to make and share my work. I do enjoy receiving congratulations from you. I feel accepted and loved.

Who am I now.

I accidentally added a period at the end on the title of this post.  I meant to use a question mark.  It’s seems so finite and I don’t feel that way.  I’m referring to my quilting journey, but it could also refer to my life in general.  Let’s discuss quilting.

Last year I took (one) in-person workshop with Sherri Lynn Wood then multiple virtual workshops.  They were almost all improvisational quilting classes.  I’m now working on the 100 Day project and all these classes have impacted how I now work.  I can’t decide which approach to take.  Sherri Lynn’s approach emphasizes a “go with the flow” and the process appeals to me. I recently finished the quilting the top I made that weekend, called Doodles and Curves:

Doodles and Curves

Since I took a workshop with Irene Roderick, I felt more inclined to plan out the final design.  In her workshop we made units of pieced sections then assembled them in a composition.  The goal was to sew the units together after figuring out how we wanted the final piece to look.  The putting together to get that final look was frustrating. I also experimented with free motion quilting. I became annoyed with the tension on the stitching and had to take out large sections of quilting. In some places I used thread which was darker than the fabric color and I’m not sure I will take that path again. It’s distracting to me and highlights the mistakes. It does surprise me how exuberant the quilt is since I made during the height of the pandemic and felt very depressed. Here is the final quilt, titled A Thousand Yellow Rabbits Dancing with Balloons.

A Thousand Yellow Rabbits Dancing with Balloons

I also took a virtual class with Maria Shell.  Her approach is more controlled with precise components and much more symmetry in the final composition.  Her approach also pushed for more repetition in the components.  Her approach is more like following a recipe. Here, a quilt I made after taking her class, titled Pit Stop:

Pit Stop

A friend recently called my approach to quilt design as “meandering”.  That is a good description.  For the 100 Day Project, that’s what I’m doing.  I started making units like Irene, then I kept adding them as I felt like it, more akin to Sherri Lynn.  I’ve made a few “short row” units from Maria’s class.  It’s Wanda’s Meandering Approach. This is the top, almost finished:

I also took a class with Sheila Frampton-Cooper where I learned a new improvisational technique. She calls it applique plus piecing. She was very helpful with color choices and I’m very excited about where I can take my new skills. Here’s the top I created. It is titled Back of the Dragon. The idea came after I made a small sketch which looked like a mountain. Where I grew up, there is a mountain road called Back of the Dragon. It winds in and out with sharp curves. That is why this work looks very topographical.

I have lots of quilting to do to finish these new works. I hope to find my voice after learning from so many talented artists/makers/teachers this past year.

Charm Pack Appliqué Quilt and Tutorial

This summer I received a 100 piece Charm Pack of Free Spirit Fabrics’ Denyse Schmidt Modern Solids as a gift from the Central Virginia Modern Quilt Guild. I wanted to use them as a hand project. I wanted simple shapes. I began cutting small straight strips of the next color in the pack and pinned them to an uncut 5” charm. That meant green with green, then green with yellow and green with fuchsia. Sometimes I chose something with more contrast as the mood struck me.

I created a tutorial and a quilt pattern, Hand-Stitched Charm. You can download by clicking here. Also the tutorial can be found at the end of this post.

The photo above shows dark green strips appliquéd on a lighter green charm. Denyse has a list of the colors on her website. There are 75 different colors. She has a visual color reference of the color choices on her website as well.

I made 9 patch block as I went along. Sometimes if the strip was large I would cut out the strip from the backside and use it as a strip on the next charm. Without doing that I would not have had enough appliqued charms for the entire 81-block quilt top.

When 9 blocks were finished I would sew them together. To make 81 blocks for a 3 by 3 rows quilt, I knew I would need to use charms without any appliqué strips. It looks like I used 25 of those charms. I made the first row on the top left, then added the one on left below it. That made a row of three 9-patch blocks. Then I followed that with by the row in the middle then the top right row.

I used 80 weight Aurifil thread for the appliqué. I did not trim the charms. That made them harder to sew on the machine and many were not the same size. I trimmed them as close to 5” as possible.

Photos of the backside:

You can see where on the right I trimmed away a cream charm. I used that strip on another charm.

Tutorial

First, pick two charms. Note: these are not DS Modern Solids.

Cut one of the charms into strips.

Attach strips onto other charm with pins. Put aside the other strips to use on another charm.

To begin, mark the strips one-quarter inch from the edge. Chalk or a pencil works.

Thread your needle. About 12-14” long. And add your favorite knot at the end. I use John James Gold ‘n Glide appliqué size 11. You are now ready to needle turn the strips.

Since these are straight, you can turn the quarter inch in with your fingers to start.

Stitch the edges down about every one-eighth of an inch, catching the edge of the strip.

Continue until the end and knot at the end on that strip. Then start on the other side.

Again, here’s the free pattern of Hand-Stitched Charm.