Thursday, October 29, 2015

Mountain Camping mini quilts III & IV

Night Camping mini quilt, measures 12" x 12"

Today I'm sharing the last two of my mountain camping quilt blocks turned mini quilts!  For those new here, I designed this quilt block because I couldn't find any dome tent blocks.  You can find the FREE pattern in my Craftsy store.

Night Camping mini quilt detail

I quilted this one with matching Aurifil threads, with lots of paisleys and swirls to give it a more ethereal feel.  I have been enjoying quilting paisleys so much lately!

Night Camping mini quilt: mountain quilting detail.

Night Camping mini quilt: back of the mountain quilting detail.

I'm so happy to be keeping this quilt!  It hangs next to my sewing room door, so I get to look at it frequently.

Night Camping mini quilt back.

The second one I finished is the Purple Tent mini, this one for my  daughter (3.5).  She asked for a purple tent, and when I asked about quilting she said, "sorta like your tent" referring to the yellow tent above.  So I put a paisley on the tent and then played around with FMQ matchstich quilting on the rest of the quilt.

Purple Tent mini quilt, measures about 12" x 13"

Honestly I wasn't thrilled with the paisley, I like to try something new with every one (no two are the same!), but the tiny clamshells were really tricky and turned out sloppy.  My favorite part is the sky!  Dense quilting really made the clouds puff out.  I also like the way the mountains look, but wonder if the right side of them need some quilting.

Purple Tent mini quilt: tent quilting detail.

Again, I used all Aurifil threads, using whatever color I had that was closest (I only have one shade of purple Aurifil thread!).

Purple Tent mini quilt back.

If you make a Mountain Camping quilt block, or mini quilt, I'd love to see it!  Post a link in the comments or use #mountaincampingquiltblock on IG.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

In Memory of Jessica: thread and fabric

Nearly 3 years ago my friend Jessica Kraf died at the age of 27 from Ewing's Sarcoma.  From the time she was diagnosed with stage IV to the time she died was less than 11 months.  During her treatment I made her a Prayer Quilt from fabrics sent to me by her friends and family.  After her death I was filled with pain and anger and made the Fuck Cancer quilt.  For a long time the only way I could think of her was how she looked when she died, the embodiment of the ravages of cancer:  intense pain, hairless, gaunt, scared and confused.  This quilt is my way of replacing those images with how she was during our 13 years of friendship: strong, passionate, vibrant, beautiful and full of life.

Many years ago she posted this lovely photo to her facbook account:

Photo credit: Morgan Estill

I was immediately struck with how similar the pose, lighting and feel were to Leonardo Da Vinci's La Scapigliata:


The photo stayed with me, and I decided I needed to turn it into a quilt.  I wasn't sure how though, and started looking into different methods of turning a photo into a quilt.  The mini Starry Night thread painting I made earlier this year was actually an experiment to play with the method before attempting this portrait.

Photo printed on fabric, ready to quilt!

I had this photo printed (with permission) on Kona cotton at, it currently measures just under 12" x 15".

Aurifil threads selected for this thread painting.

Aurifil has generously sponsored the threads for this quilt, I am honored at their trust in me.  I'm also excited about this because my sewing machine loves Aurifil threads, and I love the way they shine on my quilts!  Here is approximately where the colors will be used (the large spool is primarily for the bobbin): 

Aurifil threads selected for thread painting.

For the series of blog posts about this quilt I'd like to include something new:  How I'm Feeling.  I am filled with emotion every time I think of Jessica, of her friendship, and especially of the last 11 months of her life.  This quilt is my way of honoring those memories, and spending time with her again.  I miss her more than I'd like to try and express.

How I'm Feeling
I think of Jessica almost daily still, but I've been missing her a lot lately.  Probably because I received the fabric print a couple of weeks ago and it has been staring at me from my design wall.  There is a song that has been playing on one of my Pandora stations that I wish I could send to her, for some reason I think she would have liked it a lot: Stitches by Shawn Mendes.  She thought I'd like the song Fireflies by Owl City, but I thought it was just catchy and annoying.  I didn't tell her that.  But this a capella version has been playing on one of my Pandora stations, and I quite enjoy it and it reminds me of her.

Putting the threads with the photo made me feel so nervous, excited and anxious!  I've been planning this quilt for over a year, and it is all finally coming together!

"Do not give from the depths of your own well; give only from its overflow."

In Memory of Jessica thread painting series:
1. Thread and fabric (you are here)

Blogger's Quilt Festival: She Loves Me She Loves Me Not

Blogger's Quilt Festival - Fall 2015

This is my entry into the Art Quilt category:

"She Loves Me, She Loves Me Not" mini quilt, measures about 17" x 21"

Quilting detail.

The flower petals are Alison Glass Handcrafted and the flower center is Tula Pink Tortoise Shell in Coral.  Those tiny hexagons are less than a 1/4" per side--about 2-3 stitches!

Flower center detail.

The background fabric is Kona Ash and the binding is Kona Charcoal.

Quilting detail.

The backing is some shot-cotton that was given to me, so I'm afraid I don't know anything about it.

Quilt back.

This type of quilting is probably my favorite, at least on small pieces like this.  I get to experiment with new designs and different ways of combining them.  Sometimes the results are not at all what I expected, and that is fun too.

Quilt back, quilting detail.

For this quilt my newest interest was incorporating little orange peels in, I love the new texture they added!

Quilt back, quilting detail.

I used Quilter's Dream Orient (bamboo-silk-cotton blend) batting, and added a wool batting layer under the flower and falling petals for extra loft.

Flower and petals have two layers of batting.

Despite the dense quilting, the quilt remained soft and pliable.  I will definitely be using this batting again.

She Loves Me, She Loves Me Not mini quilt.

I quilted it using mostly Aurifil #2600 (dove) for the background, but also used some #2311 for the center of the flower, #2545 for the flower petals, and a little bit of variegated #3817 for the petal flight paths:

Quilting detail using variegated thread.

I used Aurifil #2600 in the bobbin too so there would be a nice contrast with the blue backing:

Quilt back, quilting detail.  This one wasn't picked off, it's escaping, it's flying away!

Quilt Stats:
Size: 17" x 21"
Designed and Quilted by me, Renee Hoffman
Category: Art Quilt

Blogger's Quilt Festival: ABQMQG Banner

Blogger's Quilt Festival - Fall 2015

This is my entry into the Home Machine Quilted category (quilted on my Janome 6300):

ABQMQG (Albuquerque Modern Quilt Guild) quilted banner.

When I got the quilt top (it was pieced and appliqued by other women in the guild), I immediately wanted to add a big sun since Albuquerque has abundant sunshine (310 days of sunshine every year!).  I couldn't make all those pebbles and occasional swirls without adding a snail somewhere, so hidden in there is a sun snail--which started a whole snail theme for the quilt and I ended up adding 9 more (see if you can find them all in the photos!).

Center of the sun quilting detail--inspired by my husband saying, "maybe you could do swirls to look like sun spots!" and Yvonne's sun quilting.

And then I was like, this quilt needs hot air balloons!  Albuquerque is home of the International Balloon Fiesta, the largest ballooning event on Earth with nearly 600 balloons.  My husband suggested the variegated thread, and I loved the idea so much I immediately made an order of 4 small spools of variegated Aurifil:

Quilted hot air balloon detail, Aurifil #4654

Quilted hot air balloon detail, Aurifil #4647

I freehand drew the balloons on the quilt using a water-erasable marker, and kept the same ratios of the basket and balloon for the three sizes.  It was fairly time consuming, but so worth it.

Quilted hot air balloon detail, piloted by a wee snail (on the basket), Aurifil #5817.

Quilted hot air balloon detail, Aurifil #4657.

I spent a total of 30 hours marking and quilting this banner!

Mountain quilting detail.  Note the tram lines and a snail in the grey pebbles.

The mountain quilting was quite involved (who am I kidding, the whole thing was really involved!)--I quilted every color and block orientation differently.  For example, all of the red HSTs that point to the right have feathers, and all the red HSTs pointing up have echo lines.  There are 3-4 different shades of red, and I tried to quilt each shade differently.  I spent a lot of time looking up inspiration for fillers and marking them on the quilt!  I even included a vine patch and a watermelon in one HST, since sandia mean watermelon in Spanish (and I quilted a wee snail on top of the watermelon, but forgot to get a photo of it).

Mountain quilting detail, the orange-ish peak has a Zia quilted in it--the New Mexico state flag symbol.

Another fun detail I wanted to add right away is the Sandia Peak Tramway (or as we call it, the Tram)--it is the longest tramway in North America and has the third longest span in the world.

Quilting detail of the Sandia Peak Tramway.

Something I voted for on the ABQMQG logo was more mountain peaks--specifically South Peak, which is just above where I live and I see it every time I drive home.  But it didn't make the cut, so I decided to add a quilted version (which I named Ghost Mountain):

Quilting detail of Ghost Mountain.  There is a snail in the letter Q and in the ghost pebbles.

The swirly air current quilting is one of my favorite sky patterns, but all the sketches I made didn't come out right.  It wasn't until Yvonne from Quilting JetGirl showed me how she made the ones on her Out of the Woods quilt that it all clicked!  I drew the swirls on the quilt to keep them going kind of straight, and to keep the flow of them consistent "behind" the letters and sun rays.  This meant a lot of extra line breaks and threads to bury, but I really wanted the letters to be independent of the quilting designs and the wind quilting to feel continuous (yes it is often quite windy here!):

ABQMQG letters and air current quilting detail.

The last thing I quilted was the green area around the word 'Albuquerque'--I quilted a 1/4" echo around each letter to help define them and then did FMQ matchstick quilting to contrast the rest of the quilt:

Matchstick quilting detail.

I used a ton of Aurifil thread on this quilt!  I really wanted the logo to be the first thing people noticed, so I chose matching threads or subtle colors for the quilt.  The colors of Aurifil I used (from left to right in the photo below) are: front row-1148, 2887, 2130, 5009, 2310, 2021, 2600, 4241, 2692, back row-1147, 1103, 2420, 2360, 2311, 2024, 2605, 5004 (the cone), variegated threads- 4654, 5817, 4657, and 4647.

Aurifil threads used in the ABQMQG banner.

I was glad to have all the colors of Aurifil I needed for the quilt (I did order the variegated specifically for the balloons though), it made the quilting go a lot smoother since I didn't have to fiddle with the tension with every color change!

ABQMQG banner back.

I used Aurifil #2024 in the bobbin to contrast with the red back--I really wanted all of my quilting to show up somewhere!

The back of Ghost Mountain quilting detail.  There is a snail in the pebbles and in the Q at the top of the photo.

The back of the highest peak and tram quilting detail.  There is a snail in the pebbles.
More mountain quilting detail.  You can just barely see the balloon pilot snail at the top of the photo.
ABQMQG banner label and quilting detail.

I left the sun points unquilted, which was totally inspired by Krista Wither's quilting on Sew Katie Did's Opposing Triangles quilt

Back of the sun quilting detail.  There is a snail in the swirl right under the sun--I call it an air snail.
Back of the Albuquerque matchstick quilting detail.  Another air snail can be seen on the far left, and there are snails in each of the Q's.

Whew, that's a lot of photos!  I'll leave you with these before and after shots (you can see more of the progress photos here and here) that really illustrate the effect of my quilting:

ABQMQG banner pre-quilting.
ABQMQG banner after quilting (still pinned to my design wall for blocking).
Quilt Stats:
Pieced by Lois Warwick, applique by Sally Williams and Lauri Moody, quilted by me, Renee Hoffman
Size: 86"x42

Sun and sky quilting detail

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Dinosaurs Mini Quilt

Dinosaurs mini quilt: measures 12" x 30"

A few months ago I pattern tested these paper pieced dinosaur blocks by Stars and Sunshine (available in her Craftsy store).  My plan was to turn them into a mini quilt based off of this scene from the show Firefly.  Finally I have!

Dinosaurs mini quilt: speech bubbles, now with punctuation!

The speech bubbles say

"Ah! Curse your sudden but inevitable betrayal!"
"Hahaha!  Mine is an evil laugh!  Now die!"
"Oh no, god! Oh dear god in heaven!"

If it doesn't make sense, scroll back up, click on the link and watch the clip (it's only like 40 second long).  If it still doesn't make sense I suggest you go watch the entire Firefly series!  Less than one season, you can knock it out in an afternoon!

Dinosaur mini quilt: feathered ceratosaurus

I used the 12" Tyra t-rex pattern for the ceratosaurus (the dino in the tv clip), and 18" x 9" Steph stegosaurus pattern.

Dinosaur mini quilt: spirals on the stegosaurus.

I used Bella Solids in Charcoal (lighter and greener than Kona Charcoal, for the record) for the background and backing.  I don't have info about the various dino colors--I got most of those solids from someone on Instagram.  The binding is Kona Eggplant.

Dinosaurs mini quilt: back

I used Aurifil #5004 for all of the background, bobbin, and all of the quilting on the stegosaurus.  I used Aurifil #2600 for the quilting on the ceratosaurus and #2021 for the words and speech bubbles. 

Dinosaurs mini quilt: quilting detail.

You might be wondering, "With 3 days worth of pebble quilting is there a snail somewhere in there?"  Good question!  Yes, indeed there is one snail, which can be seen in two of the above photos.  However, there are lots of "false snails"--pebbles with spirals but no snail.  I also quilted some of the larger pebbles with stars to break up the monotony of quilting a million pebbles!