Thursday, January 29, 2015

Stretching Into Modern Quilting - 100 Modern Quilt Blocks - Tula Pink's City Sampler - Book Review

I began quilting a little over 20 years ago when modern quilting did not exist as a new part of the quilting world. The patterns I chose to make were ones that appealed to me and my husband. I am not a super traditional quilter, and I don't chose fussy embellishments because we have pets, and our quilts go into the washer and dryer.

When I discovered modern quilting a few years ago, I read blogs, looked at many books and magazines. I poured over google images and pinterest pages.
My style is still always evolving and changing, and I'm sure I will always create traditional and modern quilts. 

I recently came across an outstanding book, 100 Modern Quilt Blocks, by Tula Pink. For me this is a book is perfect tool, that is helping my eye transition to create modern quilt tops, and inspired my creativity in general. (My observation is that the more books and magazines I read about quilting, my creative thinking tends to grow and widen).

This book is divided into two parts; "100 blocks," and "The Quilts." 

The 100 blocks section are divided into patterns of 15 crosses, 20 rectangles, 20 triangles, 15 blocks made from stripes, 15 squares and 15 Haiku blocks. Tula encourages readers to use the pages of the book as their own. Each design is shown finished on the right side of the page. The left side shows how the pieces of the blocks would fit together using a piece of graph paper. It includes the numbers of different fabrics needed to make the block and how many pieces the reader will need to complete the block. Very easy to follow, clear and clever.

There is a place for the reader to name the block. The right side provides an area for the reader to add notes and footnotes on the page, which I personally love. I do that in all my quilting books. But I really appreciate, (actually I love it), that the author/designer left me room to do that and in the introduction encourages the reader to do that. 

Graph paper side for notes.

Love this illustration of how many different fabrics needed to make this block, and how many total pieces.

In part two of this book, Tula covers three methods for choosing colors that eventually translate to three quilts that are made using these blocks with different themes; a Trellis Quilt, a Gridlock quilt, (which is scrappy and uses all 100 blocks), and a Skyline quilt, which uses neutral colors. 

This section also discusses sewing tools, finishing techniques and quilting. There is great information for a beginner and intermediate quilter. I like when an author does this, because she or he is sharing their personal opinion of what works for them.

The photos of the blocks and quilts are the stars of the show. And what makes this book spot on, is that the text is perfectly spare and clear. Along with this, the layout and flow I found myself thinking creatively in a different way.

I have not yet had a chance to make a few blocks based on the directions. But I am looking forward to doing that in a future post in the next month or so. Look for a few blocks from these beautiful pages. It's hard to choose which ones to make!!

This book is smart and Tula inspires the reader to be creative, inventive and make these blocks the reader's own. For someone who has been doing much of the same type of quilting for 20 years, and is trying to stretch their aesthetic, that is a great book.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

1930's Quilt Layout

So another snowy day in the northeast - nothing new there. It's January!

What did surprise me was how long it took me to arrange this. About six hours, including cutting the triangular and corner pieces.

Happy Quilting!!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

1930's Quilt - Moving Along

Last year I made blocks of this pattern with 1930's reproduction fabrics for a king sized quilt. I used different fabrics, and for whatever reason when I laid them out, I was unhappy with the way it looked. I know it is supposed to be scrappy, but the values of the fabrics somehow didn't work for me.

So once I got over the disappointment, I decided to buy some Moda 1930's reproduction fabrics that I thought would work better. I pulled out some of the ones I like from the first batch, and waited a few months until the disappointment passed.

Last week I got a bad throat infection and was flattened until Sunday when I finally got some energy back. And then there was a bad ice storm in the Northeast. It was too dangerous to go outside for anything.

I pulled out the squares and the strips I cut for the new blocks and sewed and sewed....

These are the finished blocks I chose to keep. The other half are almost finished with the white border - 72 blocks in all.

Then I will will arrange them and sew them together. This will be a double-sized quilt now, instead of king-sized. 

Being snow bound on Sunday kept me glued to my sewing machine, and I was so motivated to finish the bulk of this.

Fortunately, I had Biscuit to keep me laughing and cheer me on.

He checked on my progress and then wanted to get into the sewing.

He is a really quilting cat.

Hopefully by Saturday, I will have all the blocks sewn together, and will have just the binding left.

I will be linking up with WIP Wednesday with Freshly Pieced Modern Quilts and WIP Link up with Ft. Worth Fabric Studio.

Happy Quilting!! If you are in a wintry part of the world - stay warm and dry.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Finished Quilt

I finally finished this single-sized bed quilt!! 

The pattern was easy to put together. I decided to hand quilt it using the bishop fan pattern. 

This close-up makes it easy to see a square and the detail of the hand quilting. It took about a year to quilt it by hand.

Many of these fabrics I bought years ago and have been in my stash for a long time, especially the fabric with the little hearts, which I used for the backing.
Because it is a directional fabric, I was a bit picky about where I would use it.

I dedicated this quilt to Emma our cat. I have dedicated a quilt to our other two cats, Josie and Biscuit as well. One of my early quilt teachers told me she did that and I thought is was a lovely thought. 

Sometimes the cats will lie on them. Sometimes we display them on this stand. If one of them has come home from a difficult visit with vet or isn't feeling well, I create a circular nest with the quilt around him or her while they are resting.

And of course we use these quilts for snuggling under on the couch while watching TV or reading too.

I will photograph all three outside when the weather gets better and post them, but that isn't going to happen too soon.

Linking up with
And with Forth Worth Fabric Studio.

Happy Quilting!!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Coming Down the Home Stretch with a WIP

It's taken a little over a year - but the quilting is done!! The binding is more than halfway finished.


I hand quilted this single-size bed quilt by hand using the bishop's fan pattern. I love to have one hand quilting project around for a few reasons;

1. Hand sewing, particularly quilting is very calming and zen for me. Although I do like the speediness of machine quilting.

2. I am in a small, hand sewing group, that meets every other Thursday night and once a month on Mondays.

3. Originally my vision was to have this quilt as part of a set for a summer or weekend home. I wanted all three quilts to be hand quilted with this bishop fan pattern on them. I've done one, and I will be beginning a king-size quilt when this one is finished. No, I am not kidding. That will keep me entertained for about a year or two :)

In the next post about this WIP, which will be completely finished, I will show the whole thing; front and back, as well as the first one. And I will show the basted king-sized quilt I will start to hand quilt next.

Happy Quilting and wishing everyone and their families a healthy and Happy New Year!!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

My Words for The New Year 2015

I hope everyone is a having an outstanding holiday season. We had a lot of fun and had friends over to celebrate both Hanukkah and Christmas. (We celebrate everything). A lot of food, and a lot of laughing.

I've been thinking about this past year and my direction for 2015. I remember last year at this time, I noticed a lot of bloggers had a word or phrase they chose to focus on; a theme for the new year to come. Not a resolution. A simple thought.

I chose a word and a phrase for 2015.

Imagination and Moving Forward.

Especially after our trip to Italy this year, my imagination popped and opened up, especially about quilting; color schemes, quilt patterns, FMQ patterns, and the relationships between all of them. I really became quite excited about it.

My schedule is always so busy, as a a writer, and PT Librarian. I don't spend enough time on quilting, and many of these elements that I want to focus on to enjoy the process more. I am rethinking my time management and coming up with new strategies to use, so I can develop and enjoy my creative imagination in the future.

Moving forward. This is tougher than one might think. For the last four years, I've had to deal with my health issues, and some very difficult family issues.
I think when someone has been through those situations, and it is behind them, they can the other end confused and with there head spinning. That is how I have been feeling, and tired too. By confused, I mean I don't quite know where I want to go next, or how I would get there. Time to re-prioritize and consider how I want to grow and challenge myself next is now a different landscape than it was during those four years, and before then. I give a lot to others and volunteer too, and I need to consider how I want to continue doing that effectively as well.

I'm not a big resolution person, so my word and phrase is not what this is about for me. This is about clearing out old cobwebs, reorganizing, regrouping and experiencing life with new purpose.

On that note, I am posting from inspirational photos from this past year to "be the wind beneath my wings." 

Wishing everyone a Healthy, Happy New Year!!

 Happy Quilting!!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

"The Little Spark" - Blog Hop - Give-a-Way

I am very excited to be part of a blog hop for a new book, The Little Spark; 30 Ways to Ignite Your Creativity, by Carrie Bloomston. I wrote a book review and posted it on my blog a few weeks ago.  The 30 short chapters offer the reader lots to think about and exercises to inspire and push through a creative block. The front matter discusses the many ways to use this book and get the most out of it. The backmatter is full of great resources.

As you can see, after I read it, it sparked a lot of ideas for me. And I already have bought a few copies as holiday gifts for those creative people in my family. You can purchase a copy through Amazon or click here.

After my review, I had a chance to sit down and interview Carrie by phone, about her background, and what ignites her amazing creativity. Before I begin, let me tell you a little bit about her. 

Carrie isn't just about art, quilting, painting and designing fabrics. For her, the journey is about being creative, and creating in whatever, medium you want. This is why she refers to herself as an Art Enabler. By the way, the book provides a great list of websites and webinars that offer online learning in a variety of mediums, i.e. Craftsy, Creativebug, (See p.18.)

Carrie grew up in Birmingham, Alabama in a very supportive community, neighborhood, and with a very supportive family. She went on to receive her Bachelor's degree from Rhode Island School of Design in 1994, and currently resides in Arizona.

I asked her about how she became interested in art and then sewing? And who were her influences?

Carrie began showing artistic interest and talent at age 2. Her mom was an interior designer. Her father designed clothes and manufactured them. And her Aunt was a caterer. The person she feels influenced her most was her Kindergarten Teacher. Today, her children are her biggest inspirations, because they don't censor themselves.

Some of the first things she loved to create were loom potholders, knitted items and needlepoint. From there she began paint splattering tee-shirts, and at age 13, Carrie's paintings were shown professionally in an art gallery.

I asked her about those discouraging and encouraging voices we all carry around with us. What she shared with me about attending  professional art school was interesting, and not the first time I've heard an iteration of her experience, which is something we can all take appreciate and absorb. 

For Carrie, art school was like attending a huge playground and very intense. The professors were extremely critical. They often tear a student's work down, which can be very destructive and damaging. Much of the criticism is not delivered in a constructive way. This was very different than her first mentor, Kiki Smith, who's voice came from a very encouraging place, and helped Carrie grow and thrive. 

We talked about why Carrie decided to write The Little Spark; 30 Ways to Ignite Your Creativity, which is her first book.

A little backstory before we go further. Several years ago, Carrie had an urge to sew and began to take classes at her local quilt shop. She was approached to write out her patterns, which was a bit foreign to her, because she designed her quilts somewhat improvisationally. 

She accomplished pattern designing, and then Windham Quilts approached her to design fabric lines. And here we are today, after her second fabric line was released, called "Paint," (See photo below.) She also has an amazing web site and company, SUCH Designs. Her third line of fabric is scheduled to come out in the late summer of 2015 with Windham fabrics.

The quilt she is most proud of, (sorry no photos), is Wonky Little Houses. Her quilts mostly have a lot of negative space that offer an opportunity to be painterly with FMQ, which is very cool concept. On the back of her favorite quilt, she wrote a secret message, which can been seen when the quilt is flipped over. It says, "May Happiness Always Find You." Yes, that made me teary-eyed in a good, "coming from the heart and soul way."

She had been blogging for five years when the sewing and quilting trade publishers approached her to write a book. However, Carrie's vision was to share her voice through a book as an artist, because her core skills are as an Abstract Painter and Colorist. 

Her focus in writing a book was to help readers get rid of doubt and the notion of perfectionism. She wanted to offer something broader backed by a loving, enabling and encouraging voice, which this book accomplishes beautifully. And she wants to help readers develop their own encouraging voice, which she does through her workshops.

I asked Carrie about how she came up with the name of SUCH Designs for her company. She wanted the name to have "thustness" and "suchness." When using the word SUCH in that way, it turns up the volume on the word Designs.
Her intention was to brightly celebrate the inner artist in herself and in all of us. It works. 

Carrie is giving away five copies of this book stellar book. All you need to do to enter, is click on this link.

There are a lot of talented quilters and artists participating in this blog hop. Check out their blogs for some incredible inspiration!!

Leave a comment in Carrie's comment box. Or you can enter through Instagram, where three lucky winners will be chosen too.

On a personal note, this is a book I will keep in my personal library. I have notes written in next to some of the exercises, on page 18, and on p.127,with the backmatter. I know I will add more thoughts as I revisit this book again and again throughout my creative life. 

A big Thank You to Carrie for writing this one-of-a-kind book.

Happy Reading and Happy Creating!!