Saturday, November 11, 2017

A Month, really?


OK, my sincere apologies for the very long delay. I have thought of writing a blog post for 2-3 weeks now, but never sat down long enough to do it. I got back from MQX 6 weeks ago, whipped out some client quilts and happily set off on my personal hiatus.

Yup, you read that right. I am on quilting vacay for a while. I have not quit taking the client quilts, but I am not quilting any but a baby quilt this month, and probably only one next month. The girl needs a little holiday shopping money!

I have been feeling the burnout for several months now. I watch my own projects get pushed to the back burner, and then when I do get to work on them I feel rushed and guilty. This is ME time to recharge my batteries, and hopefully get something into the works that I love for next year.

My first order of business was to get this quilt off the frame, finished, etc AND bound. I still have some detail work, and embroidery to finish, but for all intents and purposes, she is done. In April I will show a full shot of it :-)  We had a day without power thanks to a very windy night, and I sat for about 4 hours by a window hand-stitching the binding. After about 5 scalloped-piped bindings, I think I have finally gotten the knack of it. This one is very well done.
I also loaded a piece of peach silk that was marked in September. I first did this design on a piece of green Radiance in the summer with colored threads. I thought that it would look cool, but it takes so much patience and control to quilt with black thread on green fabric, that I really didn't think it stood a chance of becoming a show quilt. Maybe I will convert it to a fancy pillow - LOL. Rather than ditch the WC idea and design, I decided I'd go for round #2 and try a monochromatic approach. The silk is peachier than the photo shows. Also, it is wet in the picture.
This gave me an opportunity to tweak things about the design that were a PIA the first time, and modify other areas.  Much of it is the same.  I am just sick with love for this herringbone filler. It is tedious, but so worth the time.  I found that this color silk did not match any of the silk threads available. I opted to go to Wonderfil's Invisifil, a poly thread. This is such a fantastically fine thread - lesson to you, it is a royal pain to remove so make sure you like what you stitch!.
My plan is to get a binding on this before December 1, and enter the little beast in the Paducah show. It may be glued to the backside, but it will have a finished photo by then!

I have also been making a couple of fun magazine quilts on feathered wreaths and Cathedral Windows, but you will have to wait until next spring to see those.

My boxes of classroom handouts and fabrics are getting packed up to ship off to Road to California next month. OMG...what a lot of things to ship.  Teachers, if you teach for MQX, you know that we have a great deal there - they bring the batting for us.  The box of batting I am shipping is enormous (but it will save me from cutting batting in the wee hours should my flight not be on time!).

I am also getting the class things readied for my 6 classes at Mid-Atlantic in February, just a month after Road. Thankfully, this show is a wee bit closer to home. I have 2 new classes debuting there, the details for which I am still ironing out. I have 2 new class samples on Templates on my machine as I type! I love the templates classes, but what I learned from doing them in 2015 and 2016 is that one class does not fit all. For next year, I have split the material into Templates I and Creative Templates 2, to hopefully better serve the needs of more quilters.  This week, the classes open for MQX East (show in April 2018), and these will be 2 of my 6 classes offered there.

Phew...that really has been a lot of work, but let me show you something that has been a crazy bit of fun.  OK, maybe its just crazy.

A couple posts ago I showed a snippet of a design I came up with for a cathedral window, based on an ultra cool church in Barcelona. I gathered (by that I mean, I went through my stash then I bought 30 yards of new colors) batiks of all shades of the rainbow. I have not worked with batik in a long time. It is nice to sew, no raveling.

Being that batiks are notorious bleeders, I presoaked every fabric about 4 times until nothing bled.
 There was A LOT of excess dye, for every color.

Even the yellow.  

My first attempt was to free-piece sections of windows. It was just not coming out as I wanted. Seams were in odd places, sometimes bulky. It resembled the actual church windows, but not my vision of this glorious window.
On a moment of total crazy, I decided I'd try repiecing one of them using 1" squares -- about 800 of them. Here it is layed out on my cutting mat, which of course, I planned to use the next day for something. That was foolish.
 
 To assemble these into the 16" circle below, it only tool me about 8-9 hours. Talk about a crazy amount of time! I am fairly anal about my seams all pressing the right way (Good Lord, not open!), and about these 1/2" patches having good matches.  I just failed to recognize that 3/4 of every 1" square was going to be on the backside in the seams!  BUT...it is just the look I wanted -- one that glows more and is luminescent. The first attempt just did not satisfy this.
 I have this next section started. It has nearly 3 times the area though.
 I am trying a different approach for these.  I am partially strip-piecing them.
 These have small sections of 3 or 4 pieced units. I don't have enough prepped to know if this will be a seam nightmare, but seams can be pressed the other direction too. The prospect of spending 4000 hours to piece the 10000 squares in these windows will undoubtedly make me move on to another quilt!
Lastly, some of you probably know already, as this is old news, but my Twisted Sister quilt won a 2nd place at IQF Houston 2 weeks ago. I wish I could have gone to see it there, but part of me really needs the rest too.
Later, quilters!

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Batiks for a new project

In August, I was in Barcelona for a day.  Yup, you read that right -- just for one day.  I was on a cruise and we stopped here. I did my homework, and I knew the best sights to see for a 10 hour visit.  Familia Sagrada cathedral was on that list.

For those of you unfamiliar, this is a masterful modern creation of Antonin Gaudi. It is so far outside of the realm of anything I have seen in a church, that it's hard to describe without just allowing the pictures to do the talking.
First off, as the photo suggests, this cathedral is still under construction. It is not 3-400 years old as many churches in Europe are. It was started last century sometime.  Barcelona is still trying to finish its construction to the specifications that Gaudi designed it for. When modern art has been poo-pood by some cities in Europe, Barcelona has embraced it. Gaudi's influence is pervasive to their culture. You cannot help but breathe deep and just soak it in, everywhere.

These are the spires of the church - if you buy an entrance ticket as we did, you can climb them, and see the details of the church from the outside, and it is nothing short of spectacular. On the top of each spire are these very modern clusters of tile-covered sculptures, some resembling fruit, others leaving their makeup to the imagination.

The front door has this amazing sculpture around it. But that is nothing compared to the door itself...
The door has this sculpture all over it - likely out of copper or bronze. The ivy was incredible, but I just love the beetles!
The real treat is when you go inside. When many cathedrals are dark and somber, Familia Sagrada is anything but.  It is bright, well lit and airy.
The stone is a soft taupe, not the darker color I am so accustomed to seeing.
 There is just a modern simplicity to it, everywhere inside.  But the windows are what blows you away.  The glass has no discernible cut pattern like most leaded glass windows do.  They are randomly cut, bright and glorious.
 Maybe this shows it better.

I just love the windows.  I make no claims to being religious.  I don't go to church, nor will I ever.  I did not have an epiphany when I went into this church; I just love the sense of peace it emanates.  The color is beyond glorious.  It is modern and yet it evokes a calming aura into the spirit of the least religious of people. 
 Just look how bright it is inside.

Anyways...what does this have to do with quilting?...I am sure you are wondering.  Is I said a while back, we were in Barcelona 2 days before the deadly August Attacks. we walked on the very street where they happened, shopping for trinkets.  Barcelona was a turning point for me. Having never wanting to go back to Spain for the past 30 years, after being mugged at 18, I now really want to go back. That is how delightful and moving Barcelona was.

I knew when we left there I wanted to incorporate this passion into a quilt, somehow.  In the 2 months since the trip, I have diddled with designs, and then I sat down in earnest yesterday and really started drawing. It will have a lot of applique, and it will incorporate plenty of color.  I also hope to use silks -- something I just cannot seem to avoid.
do not copy...do not share

Right now, I am fidgeting with the plan a little. The last thing I want is for it to come out looking like a giant bulls-eye -- not something I find remotely attractive in a quilt. I have pulled my scrap box of batiks and begun to soak them.  Some years ago when I had bleeding issues, I swore off batiks, but I know in  my heart that they have to be the windows.  I may soak them for the next 2 weeks, but I will get the excess dye out!

Two weeks ago I soaked some silk.  These next photos show how much dye comes out of some fabrics.
 These were soaked in very hot water, and left for 2-3 hours.


 Even after 3 soaks, there was still pink coming out of this fabric!

Well, the first round of batiks are in the sink upstairs now.  The water drained was the color of prune juice!  This will be a long process!

Thursday, October 12, 2017

I've hit the jackpot!

and by jackpot, I meant to say that I have now chipped my way through a bunch of client quilts, and now am taking some time to work on one of my own projects! I have been quilting on this quilt since about March, but now is the time to seriously wrap this up!

Let me show some of the things I have done the last couple of weeks.

This quilt is very different for me, but Jean is a long time client of mine from CA, and despite it being outside my box (OK, it's outside the box, down the road, and over the cliff from my normal wheelhouse!), I wanted to do my best to give "Katrina" what she deserved!  This is an original design that the maker will be teaching soon. 
Here's a closeup... It was really kind of fun once I bot into the quilt. I double batted it with wool, and quilted it with Madiera Monolon clear nylon thread.  The border has a taupe thread.  The clear thread enabled me to go beside the embroidery and not have it show.  Out on the ivory background, it just looks like ivory thread. I call this a win-win!  On a separate note, keep my client Jean in your good thoughts. She is from Napa, and must be very nervous with the fires in that area of CA.  I just cannot imagine.
The next three are by a MA client. This is a beautiful baby quilt. It is so simple, yet so sweet.  The quilting just brings it alive. Each heart block is quilted continuously with one start and stop.  This includes the ditch stitching on the block, the applique and the feathering!
All of Denise's quilts had blank white backings, to show off the quilting!

She was on a heart-roll.  There was a wall-hanging too.  I double batted it with wool, and quilted with a 40wt Glide thread.  Most is ivory, but there is also a gold used on the colored squares.  She requested a simple custom.
 I finished her last quilt today - an easy edge-to-edge.  The piecing is textbook flat, perfect borders.  Her work is enjoyable to quilt because there are no issues.  This has such lovely colors on the vintage reproduction fabrics.


I am at a point where I am working on some of my own tasks.  I do have a few openings, maybe a dozen, for edge-to-edge quilting between now and about December 10.  They will be quilted before the holidays.  Just email msolomo1@maine.rr.com if you want to secure one of these spots.

Have a great week!

Monday, October 02, 2017

MQX Recap

I spent 5 days in Springfield, IL teaching 7 classes...6 hand's on and one lecture last week.  While it is always tiring to be on the constant go, it is also always a great experience to be able to connect with other quilters. I love seeing the light bulbs go off.

Here are a few shots of some of the classes I taught.

A is for Applique is a 7 hr (all day) class in which I talk for a couple hours about techniques for quilt design as well as the nuances of quilting an applique quilt. The students plan a design for a simple top, and then get 4 hours to execute it. The pieces are all a bit different, as is their work. This is one of my favorites, and will be taught again in April 2018 at MQX East.
Narrow Border...Big Design teaches border designs for widths from 1/2" up to 3-4". It starts easier, and builds to more complex multi-step borders. They all did great!
I have no photos from my Dense & Dainty Freehand fills class, but it and it's lecture companion class went well.

The next 2 photos are from Beautiful Backgrounds...Grid-Based Fills. I had 3 mostly full classes of this! THREE.  It has been immensely popular the past 2 years.  My quilters did super at these fills.

 Shots from the backside always show gorgeous texture!

The last 3 classes all have a companion book which I sell on my website (see the blog sidebar). These books contain 4 to 5 times the content that I can possibly introduce in a 4-hr class.  I brought LOTS of my books to MQX, and sold out by the middle of the 3rd day! I really underestimated how popular they'd be. So if you did not get one there, or want to order one...they are on my website.  

Unbeknownst to me, a client of mine entered a quilt which I had quilted earlier this year.  And...> it won 1st place!  It's got a lovely selection of fabrics and embroideries. The added plus was getting to meet Tracy at the awards as the winning quilt was announced! 
 I had 19 quilts on display at MQX in a retrospective exhibit. Except for Bouquet Royale which looks wretchedly wrinkled, they all looked great. This had to be shipped last minute, and looks like an elephant pressed the box.




If by some fluke you are interested in purchasing one, please contact me directly. I am at the point where I am ready to entertain selling some.  They will be also on display at the MQX East next April.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

MQX Bound

Maine is enjoying what is inevitably our last real dose of summer this weekend. It is in the 80's, and I couldn't be happier. While most of my fellow teachers that are heading to MQX this coming week are probably busy double and triple checking their packings, I got to do that over a week ago.  Last Saturday I drove an entire van (back seat down) of stuff to Janet-Lee, MQX owner who lives in NH. She drives a trailer to Springfield, IL and I am fortunate enough to have a spot in the trailer for all my things.  Mind you, there are 17 quilts in here that are part of a 19-quilt retrospective exhibit too.  This teacher really does not pack as heavy as the van suggests! Never the less, when I pack to go to Road to CA in January, it will be eye-opening for sure as this trip is via air and class supplies must be shipped!
A week ago, I wrapped up a client quilt. It's a cute Fig Tree sampler. Though this is a custom, it did have a desired budget.  I opted to use a greater part of this budget on the outer borders and sashings, where details will show more.
 Timing required that the house and pieced blocks would get an edge to edge.  I chose these relatively tight nested swirls.
 Here's a look at the border, quilted with an ivory Glide thread.
The backing is an ivory cotton, so all the quilting shows!
With one week before I was traveling, I chose to load my quilt and plug away on it.  I started this in March or so, but the summer was so busy that I never got back to working on it. I can happily see the end in sight, despite there still being quite a few areas I need to get back to.  Sometimes decided when something is really DONE is hard.  Kindly do NOT copy these images to pinterest or anywhere else.

The center of the quilt got dense backfill around the scrolly design.  I know some of the scrolls are not perfectly symmetrical.  I don't really care, either. The finish line is in sight, and done always trumps perfect.
I think this next picture is sideways, but whatever. Quilting on asymmetrical logs is challenging. They are not good for a cross-hatch, which was my first thought. I quilted this floral/feather pattern in a turquoise thread, then matchstick filled behind it in a turquoise silk thread.  I know you are thinking..."turquoise thread on orange & pink fabrics??". Yup.  It helps the design to show more AND it ties in with the other pops of turquoise on the quilt. It's a gutsy and perhaps less-common thread choice, but I hope it will be right!
With every quilt I make, I am always looking for THAT project which will not produce those "AW crap, wish I'd done this differently" moments. As much as I quilt, they still occur! Here, I put a deep turquoise piping between the aqua and red 1" borders. It looks good, but NOW I am asking myself why the piping is not between the ivory silk and the aqua? DOH! Anyhow, I have tried to use quilting to help frame the quilt with these borders. My hunch is when I take it off the frame tomorrow, I will like how it looks. That's my theory at this point, and I'm sticking with it!

I am getting to details, which is a good feeling.  Yesterday, the dozen or so fussy cut butterflies got their antennae, bringing them to life.
 

 Have a good week...One last reminder - I get SO many emails with questions. I hate to appear to be ignoring you, but if you ask something in a comment AND have your blogger settings to "no reply", there is just no way I can get you an answer.  Please take a moment and confirm that you have an email address entered in your settings.