Thursday, July 21, 2016

2016 Mid-Year Review

2016 Mid Year Review

It's time for an update on my 2016 Quilty Resolutions!

  1. "Do not give from the depths of your own well; give only from its overflow."  
  • I think I've been doing better at this this year.
2.  NO new swaps.  
  • I am not good at this.  But this year I am being VERY selective in which swaps and groups I participate with and making sure the other people are full of integrity.  I think I've only swapped 4 mini quilts and given away one.

All the quilts from my Mythological Creature Series (so far)--all made for swaps or gift.

3. Get a Longarm machine!  
  • Honestly not sure about this one anymore...although I'm likely to change my mind while quilting my next large quilt, haha.  The idea was certainly on hold during my 2 month sewing slump.  I will say that doing at a business is no longer a goal, if I get a long arm it will be for me to use as I see fit for my hobby.  Business may still come later, I do want to keep that option open for the future.
4. No challenge quilts unless the challenge fulfills a quilt idea I already have and want to explore.
  • So far so good!  I have yet to find any challenges worth entering.
5. Submit quilts to at least 3 shows other than the State Fair (ie QuiltCon, MQX, APS, HMQS, etc).
  • So far this year I've had quilts shown at MQX New England and the Mid-Atlantic Quilt Festival, have had two quilts juried into an AQS show (Grand Rapids and Chattanooga!), and entered another quilt to MQX Midwest.  
6. Donate another quilt!  I love that this has been a tradition for me since 2012.
  • No update on this, yet.
7. Make the grey and teal bed quilt!  
  • Finally started on this!!  
Grey and Teal New York Beauty medallion center

8. Continue to cultivate genuine friendships with people within the quilty community, both in person (I'll be at QuiltCon West!) and online.
  • Feeling pretty good about this so far!
9. Write and release the paper piecing pattern for the Pythagorean Spiral quilt:
  • Ummm no update on this :-/  Totally intimidated with it.

Pythagorean Spiral Quilt

10.  Listen to and follow my inner Quilty Spirit more and stay away from the trends and hype that are not in line with my interests.
  • My Quilty Spirit and I have much better communication and understanding this year.  I mean, apparently it went on vacation without me, but other than that we're good.
So I'm doing pretty good on my list so far!  Did you have a quilty resolution for this year?  How is it going so far?

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Grey & Teal Medallion Beginnings

Oh hello!  I have finally come out of my two month long sewing slump and am returning to the world of Sewing, Blogging and Instagram (@quiltsNfeathers) finally!  Whew I think that is my longest period of not having any motivation to sew.  Thankfully I didn't have any pressing deadlines and was able to mostly just ride it out and focus on other parts of life.  

My first big project is finally starting on my Grey and Teal quilt!  

My grey and teal stash!

I think what really got me excited to work on this was finally deciding on the New York Beauty block as the center of the medallion.  Since this is a bed quilt to replace the first bed quilt I made (which we still have on our bed), I'm trying to include my husband in as many decisions as possible.  He liked the NY beauty block, and when I asked if the quilt was going to have too much grey and teal he said no.  Whew, I can keep him!

First half of the grey and teal New York Beauty block.

All the paper piecing is done!

One set of curves finished.  That solid is Cloud 9 Cirrus solids in Shadow.

Completed grey and teal New York Beauty block, measures about 22" square (but will be trimmed smaller).

I will be working on it on and off between other projects, which will give me time to ponder on what I want the next border to be!

Monday, May 16, 2016

Bat Falcon quilt

Bat Falcon Quilt: measures 42.5" x 31.75"

I'm so happy to finally be blogging about this finished quilt!  I started it back in October, and while I've shared a lot of progress pictures on my instagram (@quiltsNfeathers), I have been lazy about sharing it on my blog.  So here is the entire 40 hour process of making it!

Original photo, taken by me when I worked/volunteered at a local wildlife park.

I took a class taught by Rod Daniels (go check out is gorgeous work!)  through the NMQA on turning a photo into an applique quilt.  I had seen some of Rod's quilts in person at ABQMQG show and tell, and was excited to try a new method to turn a photo into a quilt.  The first thing to do was pick a photo.  I chose the photo of the bat falcon because I consider it one of the best photo I took while working and volunteering at a local wildlife park.  My leaving the wildlife park was really ugly and hurtful, and I wanted to reclaim this photo (though let there be no doubt that it is mine) and my happy memories. 

Next was printing out the photo and then tracing a basic outline of the colors and shadows (I printed extras in grayscale and edits to try and get the most accurate outlines).  The bottom right is the final version:

Then I took my traced outline to the copy store and enlarged it.  I had no idea what I was doing, so it turned out huge, haha.  Then that big version was traced onto a thin muslin, and I started placing appropriately colored fabrics on the quilt (glueing them down when I felt confident with my choices):

Bat Falcon Quilt: Pre-lunch progress in Rod's class.

Bat Falcon Quilt: Post-lunch progress in Rod's class.

I knew if I didn't finish it right away it would be a horrible WIP to come back to.  So the next day I dedicated all of my available time to finishing it!  In total I think I spent about 12 hours just creating the quilt top, and 99% of that on the bird's head!

Bat Falcon Quilt:  Pre-lunch progress, Day 2.

Bat Falcon Quilt: post-lunch progress, Day 2.

The background colors are Kona Silver and Kona Cornflower.  My biggest regret is how the blue on the right side dips down too sharply at the bird's shoulder.  But I wasn't about to re-glue anything!  So I accepted it as a design element, haha.  At the time I was also working on a lot of other projects and knew I didn't have the time to quilt and finish it, so I carefully rolled it up and put it in a safe place.  

Finally last month I basted it (using one layer of Quilter's Dream wool)!  Here is a look at the 22.5 hours of quilting (I took a photo after most of the 14 bobbins I used!):

Bat Falcon Quilt 1: Basted and ready to quilt!

Bat Falcon Quilt 2: started on the face and smaller pieces so they wouldn't shift!  Yeah I was pretty intimidated to quilt this guy, just look at the glare!

Bat Falcon Quilt 3: filling in around the head and chest.

Bat Falcon Quilt 4: worked on the back and wings (the black areas).

Bat Falcon Quilt 5: Decided it was time to work on the background before things got more distorted from quilting on just the bird.  I marked out a 1/2" grid on the silver and did an echo on the blue.

Bat Falcon Quilt 6: I have never quilted such a large area with such tiny orange peels!!  I spent 8 hours and 4 bobbins on JUST quilting those tiny orange peels.

Bat Falcon Quilt 7: four year old for scale.

Bat Falcon Quilt 8: I was definitely questioning my sanity on quilting so SO many tiny orange peels!  But I really love bokeh they create!

Bat Falcon Quilt 9: Finally done with the orange peels!!  My husband and I estimated using various methods that there are at least 6,000 orange peels (as in each little pumpkin seed shape)!

Bat Falcon Quilt 10: That lower left blue area gave me some trouble and I ended up ripping and redoing the center of it.  But look how smooth and nice it looks now!  Also the orange above the nostrils wasn't right (I was overzealous with that color, haha), so I removed most of it and replaced it with a dark grey.  Worth the effort.

Bat Falcon Quilt 11: back to working on the bird--mostly on the grey feathers here.
Bat Falcon Quilt 13:  (photo 12 was indistinguishable, though I know I added stuff!).  This is just before I called it Done.  You can see around the bird the quilt is really warped!  I soaked in in the washing machine all afternoon to remove the marking and dissolve the glues. and then spent an hour and a half blocking it and ironing the face flat (you can see a photo of that on IG!)

Here is the before and after quilting:

Bat Falcon Quilt: Original photo, before and after 22.5 hours of a quilting!

Obviously the finished quilt wouldn't be so amazing without all of that quilting to add depth, texture, blending and shading!  Here are all of the Aurifil threads I used--mostly 50wt because my machine prefers it for dense quilting/overlap, but some 40wt (green spools) because I didn't have those colors in 50wt.

Bat Falcon Quilt: Aurifil threads used!  I bought Dark Pewter (#2630) to use on this quilt and love it for a nice dark grey!  It's the third darkest from the left!

Check out this gorgeous "ghost" on the back!

Bat Falcon Quilt: the grey thread is Aurifil #5004 (the 4th darkest grey in the thread photo), backing fabric is Kona Espresso, binding is Kona Chestnut, 

Just look at this gorgeous grey thread!  I love how the direction of the stitches translates the image so well on the back.  The Aurifil does a lovely job of catching the light and giving life to the "ghost" on the back!

Bat Falcon Quilt: back quilting detail. 

Okay, let's look at the front up close!

Bat Falcon Quilt: detail of the shadow side and background.

Bat Falcon Quilt: detail of the light side of the face.

Bat Falcon Quilt: detail of the sun-lit wing feathers.

Bat Falcon Quilt: eye detail

All that's left is the hanging sleeve and displaying it in my living room between shows!

Quilts Stats
Finished size: 42.5" x 31.75"
Hours spent working on it: 40 hours

Monday, May 9, 2016

Starry Night Over the Rhone (thread painting) [Art with Fabric Blog Hop]

Starry Night Over the Rhone thread painting mini quilt, measures 10" x 8"

I was recently invited to participate in the Art with Fabric Blog Hop and only agreed because this project had been on my mind since last year when I made the Starry Night thread painting!  

Here are two versions of the original Starry Night Over the Rhone painting by Vincent Van Gogh:

I used both pictures for color inspiration and placement.  Here is the process I went through to create my thread painting:

I printed out a version of the painting on fabric that had been pre-treated with Bubble Jet Set (google "how to print on fabric" for numerous tutorials), and then basted it with one layer of poly batting (though any thin batting works, it's just what I had in the right size) and a layer of home dec fabric for stability:

Starry Night Over the Rhone: printed on fabric and basted.  Ready to start quilting! 

Next I went through my Aurifil thread stash (I really like using the Aurifil 50wt because you can layer and blend it nicely without breaks) and picked out the colors I thought would work best:

Starry Night Over the Rhone: thread pull.

Then I started quilting!  I try to anchor the quilt down and then fill in larger areas with whatever color I'm working with at the time.  I took a photo after each bobbin of thread to show the progression:

Starry Night Over the Rhone: 1 bobbin of quilting.  Worked with very dark grey and navy.

It was around this time I realized that I needed more blue and antique-greenish thread colors and put in a quick order!  When they arrived I continued, starting in the puffy areas in the above area.  I put down a base layer (like in the sky, water and reflections) and then add more dense quilting and layers of colors as the quilt progressed.

Starry Night Over the Rhone: 3 bobbins of quilting (I forgot to take a photo after the second bobbin!).  Worked on the horizon/shore line and getting the some quilting down everywhere to avoid super puffy-ness issues that would occur later.

I like to start with the shadows/darker colors and work my way up to the highlights/lighter colors and details.  Then if something in the shadows isn't quite right I can fix it or blend it with later layers to make it look correct.  Also then I can make sure the bright and/or lighter details won't be overwhelmed by the darker areas.

Starry Night Over the Rhone: 4 bobbins of quilting.  Filled in a lot on the ground, water, reflections and sky.

Working on those little people (Van Gogh referred to them as lovers! but I call them the Van Gogh people) was really gratifying!  Though you will notice that the man's hat changes a little on the final quilt.

Starry Night Over the Rhone: 5 bobbins of quilting.  More sky and water.

The last bobbin worth of quilting was used on filing in the last of the sky and details: stars, ship masts and lines, bridge, and other things I've already forgotten!

Starry Night Over the Rhone: 6 bobbins worth of quilting.

I spent over 8 hours just on quilting this!  I think the quilt back really shows just how dense the quilting is (the backing fabric is very blue):

Starry Night Over the Rhone: quilt back, all Aurifil #5004

Here are all of the thread colors I ended up using:

Starry Night Over the Rhone: Aurifil threads actually used!

 Let's see some of my favorites parts of the quilt!

Starry Night Over the Rhone: the lovers. 

Starry Night Over the Rhone: the boat and reflections.

Starry Night Over the Rhone: the big dipper

Making this little quilt made me really miss the Starry Night thread painting I made last year!  They are similar, yet completely different styles.  The good news is this Starry Night Over the Rhone is all mine to keep!

Now, definitely go check out the other Art with Fabric blog hop stops today!

Monday, May 9th, 2016