28 May 2013

Camp Stitchalot

Won't you join me on a quilting retreat this summer? I'll be teaching at Camp Stitchalot in Ann Arbor this August 9-11, hosted by Pink Castle Fabrics. There will also be three more amazing teachers: Jacquie Gering (Tallgrass Prairie Studio), Amanda Jean Nyberg (Crazy Mom Quilts), and Rossie Hutchinson (Fresh Modern Quilts).

I'll be teaching curved piecing techniques, starting with curved improv. This is the 20" block I made for the retreat sample quilt. The idea for the retreat is we'll have focused instruction time with each teacher, then mentored studio time to explore the new techniques individually and together.

Brenda and Rossie sent out four solids to each of the teachers, with instructions to stick to the palette so all our blocks would work together for the sample quilt. Not very good at following directions, I added four additional fabrics in equal measure, including two prints, naturally. Hopefully it won't get me in too much trouble.

I love quilts where improv and traditional precise piecing bump into each other, and that's what I was exploring in this block. I used the same approach in my recent Sunrise and Orb quilts.

I'll have more photos and discussion soon of the quilt beneath the block in this photo. It's another use of improv curved piecing, here in a (perhaps) more approachable rectangular setting.

I can't tell you how much I'm looking forward to Summer Camp Stitchalot. Brenda's (Just a Bit Frayed) spring retreat came off as a mad success. You can read full reports, including descriptions of the idyllic rural B&B venue, from Katy Ginger Monkey Jones here and here, and more from Rossie Hutchinson here.

Hope to see you at camp!

22 May 2013

Happy Harvey Milk Day

Today is Harvey Milk Day in California, honoring the birth date of one of my heroes in the struggle for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights. We've come so far in the last couple years -- it's hard to imagine the challenges Harvey faced when he won public office as an openly gay man.

Harvey Milk. Photo by permission of Daniel Nicoletta
Two years ago I started a portrait quilt of Harvey Milk, based on this famous photo by Daniel Nicoletta.  I finished in June 2011.

Nicoletta's photo was taken during his campaign for City Supervisor, and his campaign button is prominently displayed on his chest.

We've made so much progress, and there is still so much to do. Thank you for your support in the fight for full equality.

20 May 2013

Another Sunrise

It's actually the same Sunrise quilt from a few weeks ago, but I'm revisiting to enter the quilt into Amy Ellis's Blogger's Quilt Festival in the Baby Quilts category. The baby blanket is machine pieced and quilted, and measures 44" x 45".

I quilted horizontal lines in various shades of orange and yellow, with the lines across the center of the blanket more dense and more orange than the sides.

For the density of the the quilting, the blanket drapes beautifully and has a remarkably soft hand

If you have a moment, check out all the great festival quilts.


19 May 2013

Orb final, including quilting notes

I finished the binding on the Orb quilt the other day using the same hibiscus purple that appears in strips on the quilt top, only without the orange bits. The final dimensions are 51" x 51".

And I had some helpers for taking photos yesterday.

I'm still quite happy with the quilting on this one.

I emptied several spools of orange and yellow thread.

Several people have asked how I went about the quilting. The short answer is I marked each straight line using various colors of Frixion pens and quilted with a walking foot. Lots and lots of lines.

1. I started by marking (but not sewing) the locations of the circles. I used two small bowls as circle templates.
2. Then I marked a first set of tangent lines -- about three tangent lines for each circle, with each line touching two circles. I quilted the lines with a medium orange thread.
3. I repeated Step 2 several times using progressively lighter oranges, then yellows.
4. When I got to my lightest thread color, I focused on the circles one by one, marking and then quilting lines so there were no large gaps/angles between the tangent lines. Each 2-1/2" circle has about 25 tangent lines, and each 3-1/2" circle has about 30 lines.

The final step was to add a few lines at the edges and corners where the quilting lines were farther apart than in the center of the quilt.

I was nervous about using the Frixion pens, but I'm very happy with how it turned out. My favorite color was bright pink. It was visible on the light and dark colors, but not super ugly like the dark blue and black. After quilting I washed and blocked the quilt. Most of the pen marks washed away, and the few that remained disappeared completely when ironed. And there aren't any white ghost marks on the dark fabrics, as some have experienced. Perhaps ironing before an initial wash can set the ink medium, even as the pigment disappears? I have no idea, but I'm very happy with how this particular process worked.

I've entered the quilt in the Home Machine Quilted category of Amy Ellis's Bloggers Quilt Festival.


05 May 2013

Orb quilted

In spite of fighting a nasty cold most of this week I managed to quilt the Orb. This is the second quilt from the improv curved piecing I started several weeks ago. The first is the Sunrise quilt.

The quilting is all straight lines in shades of yellow and orange. The lines go every which way, but meet to form circles at tangent intersections.

I marked the lines with various shades of Pilot Frixion pens. The ink disappears when you iron -- I haven't had a chance to iron yet.

The light was so beautiful yesterday evening, I had to take some photos.

And the shadows do a pretty good job of hiding the Frixion marks.

I backed the quilt with a Ty Pennington print. I was surprised to see a few of the quilting circles framed the print in ways that seemed fussy and intentional.

I'll bind the quilt with the purple solid -- hopefully this week.