Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Judges' Comments

42 Minis
 Below are the comments from the judges on my entries to the guild's quilt show earlier this month.
42 Minis:
Award 2nd
Visual Impact--very good.
Design--good; theme well carried through with a good variety of blocks.
Construction--good; corners of all blocks should be ninety degrees.
Quilting--good; variety of quilting designs create good visual interest and texture.
Finishing--very good; Red patch in center right side has a raw edge that should be secured.

Totally Hexed
Totally Hexed
Award 1st
Visual Impact--good; embellishments and other stitched details contribute greatly to make each block complete.
Design--very good; creative use of hexies.
Construction--good; piecing well done.
Quilting--good; circular quilting designs in border contrast well with straight line quilting in center.
Finishing--very good; outside quilt edges should be straight. Very good binding application.

Winter Ice
Winter Ice
Award 1st and Best Machine Quilting
Visual Impact--very good
Design--very good; border quilting design frames quilt beautifully
Quilting--excellent; great choice of fabric and thread colors to showcase quilting designs.

All in all, great comments. I'm happy for the feedback about the raw edge that wasn't secured. I sure didn't see it. If there is a way to keep the outside edges of the quilt straight, I'd like to know what it is. I have blocked the quilt. I have used a non stretch tape to stitch under the binding so the edges would be straight.

When I was quilting Winter Ice, my 790 Bernina, "Joie," had a hiccup and needed a spa treatment which lasted a couple weeks because she needed a part. I quilted the middle section of the quilt on "Bernie", my 1630! To have won an award was amazing. To win the Machine Quilting award, especially since the project was quilted on two different machines, was totally unbelievable!!! I guess my tension and stitching is more consistent than I give myself credit!

What would help me though, is to know what excellent in each of those categories is or looks like. If I don't know how can I strive to get there? Or, if I received a good comment, what does excellent look like?

Monday, April 24, 2017

President's Blocks in Their Quilts

Tea Cup block
At the end of each guild president's term, the members are invited to make a block. The information is sent as a Sh . . shhh. . .It's a Secret for the President!

I started making the "block" in 2008. The "directions" that year were to make a block that was tea related. I made this tea cup.

This is the quilt. There were 75 blocks so the quilt is huge! The maker didn't finish her quilt until this past year so that it could hang at the featured artist show which was held last October.

Tea quilt

Literal representation
In 2010, we were supposed to make a block that represented us. I took it literally! (I thread painted myself.)

This was her quilt.
The quilt with blocks representing the makers

Tree block
In 2015, we were to make something that we would see if we were out on a walk. Also, we were to add the color green to the block. I made a tree.

The quilt made with blocks inspired by an outdoor walk!
Blocks inspired by the outdoors

Sailboat block
In 2016, I made a sailboat. You could have stitched a floral block or one that had to do with water.

The blocks made into the quilt:
Blocks inspired by flora and fauna of the water and outdoors

The directions this year are to make a heart, a cat, or a chicken; to use scraps or batiks and to make it any size up to 10 1/2" finished.This year, I made a heart.  It will be fun to see what her quilt looks like.

If this looks familiar, I made this pattern for my Totally Hexed quilt that I shared information about in this post.

When the quilt is displayed, I've enjoyed finding my "block" and then seeing what others did. It is fun to see the settings and the quilting!

Had I really been thinking ahead, when the Presidents' quilts were displayed last October, I would have taken photos of all the quilts so you could have seen the variety and I could have photos of the blocks that I have made over the years. . .oh well. . .perhaps, there will be another time!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Month 3 of 8 QAYG (Quilt As You Go)

Completed center of the block

The center part of the design began with a template and design that we had used last month. Then we added some straight lines to fill the space. I like that the lines are different widths as that little bit of surprise adds to the quilting.
Back of the center of the block
It is difficult to see the design from the front so I'll share what the back of the project looks like!

Simple outer area corner design

The outer part of the design also used the same template. What was fun about this month was that we made the simple design more complex with just some additional stitching. I was surprised at how easy it was!
Corner design with added complexity

Can you see how much more interesting it was to stitch another serious of shapes? Those lines are chalk marks which will brush away.
The design of the center in the outer area
The center of the outer area also had some added complexity.

This month, I tried to quilt this assignment like it was a huge quilt. In other words, I worked on quilting in any direction rather than turning the project like is demonstrated in the video that accompanies the lesson.

What I learned is that the angle in which I see when I'm going to be stitching on one direction is not the same as when I stitch in a different direction. This changing viewpoint sure makes it difficult for the stitching lines to meet when I'm completing a design.

I also noticed that the layers stretch a bit as I quilt which also makes it challenging to use reference lines to keep the design in the parameters that I originally marked! At this point, I'm not sure how to fix the viewpoint; but, at least I have identified one cause of my designs stitching a little off. It's hard to fix a problem if you haven't identified why it happened. Since I have one cause, I should be able to figure out a fix!
The design made a little more complex

Finally, I stitched this design in one hour increments with stretching breaks every 15 minutes.

Finished back of block so far
What surprised me was how the quilting made the block scrunch. I would have thought it would have been a uniform amount; but it wasn't. This stretching probably is part of the culprit to why I've a hard time getting the points to line up.

I also learned that I could have pulled some on the pin that holds the template in place. This pulling could have moved it from a 90 degree angle which would have also affected the point alignment. Hmmm . . .more thought is required! Seeing this example sure makes previous quilt projects with wonky section make more sense!

I will be adding more quilting to this block; but, the directions are that this will come after we finish the quilting for month 4!

My body is still in recovery mode. I can raise and lower my arms; but, they fatigue quickly.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Happy Easter

Easter sunrise
Wishing you and yours a terrific family day. This was the sunrise I viewed this morning. Bailey and I enjoyed an early morning walk. We saw a few flowers that were still standing after our rainy and windy week.
Bunny plate breakfast

We've been making memories with the grands.

We made a bunny plate which the grands were interested in cooking because bacon was involved! J thinks that bunnies should have more "ears!"

The eyes are blueberries and the whiskers are chives. The egg is sunny side up.

Bunny Salads
Bunny salads continue to be a favorite request and we have them once a week!

Bird nests
We even made some bird nests. J supervised and picked out the jelly beans for each nest. These are cornflakes, coconut, rolled oats mixed with peanut butter and karo syrup and topped with jelly beans. They are a no bake cookie which is perfect for little hands to make. These were a little crumbly; but tasty! Next time, I would try adding a little maple syrup to see if that helped the mixture hold its shape better.

Yesterday oldest daughter, A, and I went for brunch at a cool local spot called Milk Glass Market. I ordered the vegetarian sandwich that you see on their home page and A ordered the bread pudding. We split each and both were delicious. After brunch, we shopped our way through Alberta Street, which was fun too. Then, we picked up the grands who had watched The Portland Thorns, women's soccer, play. They LOVED being able to go with their dad. The best part of the day for me was spending time with, as she puts it, "your favorite daughter!"

Ready to tie the ends!
My favorite youngest daughter, N, is off trekking in Nepal today. She sent me a photo--what a beautiful place!

Today, I've made a potato salad and deviled eggs to accompany the ham and roasted asparagus that we will be eating for dinner.

On the quilting front, I've been quilting in the ditch and outlining the appliqués on the chicken. This time, I'm burying the thread tails so it is a longer process. Progress is slow; but, progress is happening!!!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Challenge Block

Each year, our quilt guild holds a block challenge contest. The rules of the block this year were to make a block that would finish to nine inches that had at least a nest or a birdhouse on it that was pieced or needle turned appliqué. We all purchased a nine and a half inch square of the background fabric for a dollar! Birdhouses in Springtime was the theme.

Drawing of the block
The finished blocks become property of the guild and the committee chair(s) makes a quilt out of the blocks that becomes an opportunity quilt for another year. The proceeds from ticket sales of the opportunity quilt support a charity that the guild members determine. This year our recipient is the Silver Star Search and Rescue. You can see the quilt here.

I've participated in the contest six of the last seven years. I'm always impressed to see the creativity of the members when the blocks are displayed at the guild's quilt show. Attendees have the opportunity to vote for their favorite block and the top block wins a cash award and the block is made into a pin for the following year. Second and third place also win a cash award. I've been pleased that my block plays well with the others!

This year, I noticed that I was able to design a block without as much trepidation as in past years. Drawing is difficult for me. I often don't achieve the depth perception on paper like I see in my head! Inspiration for this block came from three places in our yard.

We have a clematis that the birds build a nest in each spring. The clematis is outside the front door so once the eggs hatch, the mama is protective of the space. Sometimes, we can't use the front door because the mama dive bombs anyone around the nest! The clematis inspired the nest in my block.

I drew the egg oversized and oriented it vertically.  I drew in a few "cracked" lines on the egg.  I even added a vein for my leaves. I was attempting a whimsical feel to the block! I wanted the design to be simple and I was absolutely shocked that my results were close to what was in my head!

Fabrics for the block
We have two long narrow windows on either side of our wood stove. Outside one of these windows, is a maple tree that has some great shaped branches and outside the other window is a deciduous azalea bush that has the most beautiful orange/gold flowers that appear before the leaves each spring. The view outside the windows was the inspiration for the rest of the block.

I was thinking about the beautiful blue that is a robin's egg and I arranged my fabrics around the egg! In the photo, I used the "wrong" side of the blue fabric that doesn't show the sea shell design for the egg.

Block in process
I chose darker fabrics because I wanted the emphasis on the egg. I appliquéd the parts of the leaves together and then I appliquéd the whole leaf to the background.

Nice leaf . . .just too blah for the block
Sometimes, a leaf fabric I thought was going to work, didn't! But other than cutting a few holes in my fabrics to get the colors I wanted, the process went quickly.

Finished block 9 1/2" square
In the end, it was a fun block to construct. The leaves look like the wind is lifting them. I decided that the egg fabric looked enough like it could be cracking so I didn't embroider the cracked lines.

My applique stitches have improved!

At the quilt show, I took several photos of the submitted blocks.
The creativity of the members' who made these blocks is amazing. 
I had a difficult time voting for my favorite!
Some repeats in this photo; but, I wanted to "capture" them all!

I thought the nest and bird in #22 was so lifelike, #24 cactus was fun;
#18 the garden scene above it was amazing with the intricate embroidery stitches!
The winning blocks (1st, 2nd and 3rd places) will be revealed at the guild meeting tomorrow night.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Quilt Show and Guild Goals Update

My quilt guild, Clark County Quilters, held their annual quilt show April 6-8. There were about 320 quilts to view! For the show, I had four entries and I had planned for two! The entries were:
42 Minis; Totally Hexed, Winter Ice and Whale of a Tail/Tale

Imagine my happy surprise when I saw a red ribbon on 42 Minis for the category mixed techniques large quilt.
2nd place for mixed techniques large quilt

A few rows over, I saw a blue ribbon on Totally Hexed for the category large appliqué.

1st place for large applique quilt

Then, the biggest shock of all!!! I had two ribbons on Winter Ice! The blue one was first place for large pieced and the green ribbon was best of show for machine quilting! I didn't realize how much the border quilting really does show. Seeing this quilt hang, gave me new appreciation for the quilting!
1st place large pieced quilt and Best of Show machine quilting

View of the quilting on the border

Close up of the quilting in the blocks

I also participated in the challenge so I can cross off #4 on my Ten for 2017 plan! The top three places of the challenge will be revealed at the general guild meeting on April 13.

I am humbled for my work to be honored. I encountered many quilting issues with each of these projects. In the past, I would have focused on the errors and pointed them out to all. Now, my goal is to focus on what I learned from those experiences and to improve on the next project.  I seriously considered not entering any quilts in the guild show. If I did  decide to enter, I seriously considered not having any of the entries judged. This experience is an example of no matter what I personally think of my work, it is important for me to share it AND have it judged!

I did plan to share the judges comments in this post. Unfortunately, the comments weren't included with my quilts when I picked them up last night. If sharing the comments would be of interest to you, please leave me a comment. If I receive 15 comments and I receive the comment sheets, I'll write a separate post.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

2nd Quarter Finish A Long Goals 2017

First the good news. . .I completed four of the 11 projects that I listed for the first quarter number of Finish A Long 2017. I finished Winter Ice, Hawaii, One Bag and Two Bag

As per usual, I thought that I would achieve a lot more finishes. Rather than being hard on myself for being such a turtle, I'm celebrating what I have accomplished. My finishes represent four Christmas gifts which is terrific!

It is time to get serious about what I think I can accomplish in the second quarter of the year!
1. "Chickens"
The first project of focus for 2nd quarter!
1. Finish the chickens! I KNOW!!!! This has been an ongoing project for a decade. I did manage to get it into a top last quarter. Surely, I can get it basted and quilted before the next quarter ends!!!

2.-4. Are three projects in JoJo's passport--Oregon, Canada and England. Visit her at Through My Hands to learn more. I did finish the Hawaii project last quarter!

2. Mt. Hood project fabrics
2. This is the Oregon project. I see Mt. Hood out my window on a clear day and love the view. Using her pattern, my project will include a lake in the view which is fine! There will be several firsts achieved when I finish this project. I've been working on this project and have had fun; but, I didn't finish it last quarter. I will finish it this quarter! 

Nope, I haven't posted about it. . .well, I've shared some photos; but, haven't shared the whole project yet! For now, I'll just tell you the reveal is coming!

3. Canada hot pad fabrics

3. Canada hot pad project. I'll get to play with hexagons on this project and it is small. It contains some tiny details!

4. Tea room fabrics

4. London tea room project. There is a lot of appliqué in this project and the opportunity to embroider those words with my machine instead of appliquéing them!
Turn a section of this photo into a quilt

5. Work on the group quilt project.  I have the photo; but, I haven't received the instructions for what fabrics I can use and I'm not even sure how many people are working on this project. . .I'm thinking there are 6-8! At any rate, we are given a part of this photograph to recreate in fabric and then we put our parts together and have the whole photo at the end. So. . .being accurate in the size will be extremely important! I haven't done this before so I'll be expanding my box which is goal number 2!!!!!

6. Figure out what to do with these parts!

6. Figure out what to do with those hexagons made using different techniques and get them into a finished wallhanging!

7. Finish this top--perhaps a little
"Jean Wells" technique for added interest?

7. Finish that project that I appliquéd some leftover pieces to a sparkly background. I think I want to go a little "Jean Wells" to create an interesting background on part of that sparkly black!

8. Finish this BOM Mystery from last year

8. Finish this BOM mystery quilt I worked on last month with an online group. I have the last clue to piece.

9. Mend one shirt and shorten the hem in
two pairs of pants

9. Shorten the hem on two pairs of jeans and shorten the sleeves on a white t-shirt. I have had these jeans and the shirt two and a half years. Can you tell that I dislike mending and alterations? 

I'm at the point though where I could use the jeans. The shirt, I loved.  I wore it twice and left it in the bathroom drying on the towel bar where our sweet Bailey as a baby promptly proceeded to "decorate" it her way with a few teeth marks. Perhaps, owning up to it here will get me to actually do the alterations!!

10. Make 45 folded stars

10. Make 45 folded stars for the fall retreat

11. Make two pillow cases

11. Stitch two pillow cases that coordinate with the chicken wall hanging.

So, there you have it. . .last quarter, I listed 11 projects and finished four. This quarter, I'm listing 11 projects. I plan to have more success in the finishing department than last quarter. Don't get me wrong, I'm still allowing myself to start a new project too!

Basted Chicken

Embroidery added to the branch
The handwork I did to finish the chicken appliqué and embroidery on the Mt. Hood/Oregon project took a toll on my body. Last week, I pushed myself too far. Instead of stopping when I felt the numbness in my left arm, I stitched for another 15 minutes. The following morning, I couldn't raise my arm to brush my teeth or my hair!

Fortunately, I had a chiropractic appointment already on my schedule. I went and although the adjustments helped, I still couldn't move without pain. . .this included breathing! The chiropractor suggested a massage. I was fortunate again because someone had canceled and the massage therapist that I see regularly had an opening.

Again, the massage helped; but, I still was sore.  Although I was able to scratch my head, it was painful to do it. I took it easy for three days. I missed stitching; but, I also didn't feel like stitching either! Every day, I felt a little better so that by the fourth day, I prepared and stitched the back for the chicken.

Two pillow cases ready to stitch
On the fifth day, I cut a couple pillow cases to use the extra back fabric and feather fabric that I purchased so long ago! I am determined that the remaining pieces don't go back into the stash!

On the sixth day, I layered and basted the chicken. (Did you think that I was sharing a recipe because of the Basted Chicken title?? ) The top was lumpy. I'm thinking that when I added the leaves/vines that traveled across the blocks, I stretched the blocks as I stitched. It is going to be tough to "quilt out" that fullness. I'm going to give it a try!

Chicken ready for quilting
Basted chicken looks so much better to me than the chicken as a top. After having the project hang out in the studio for the past decade, it is exciting to have it to the quilting phase!

I'm still on the mend; but, I am moving so much better. I did help with setting up the equipment for our guild's quilt show yesterday. I paced myself. When the equipment was in place and the quilts were starting to be hung, I went home. I'm glad I stopped when I did. Tomorrow, I get to see the quilts. . . all 300 plus of them . . .Saturday, body willing, I'll help with the take down of the show. More to come!