Category Archives: Modern Quilting

Deep(ly Flawed) Purple

In case you think quilt creation for me is all beer and skittles, I want to take you behind the curtain and share my latest humbling quilting experience. I haven’t done such a bad job in years. I’m embarrassed to reveal my ineptitude, but I want to make a clean breast of it. Maybe we can laugh about it, sometime.

In December I showed you “Deep Purple,” an improv created quilt top and asked your advice about how to finish it. The advice you sent was helpful, and I used it to complete the top.

Recently, I started to quilt this piece, and what began as an improv quilting design devolved into a royal mess. First, I decided to quilt edge to edge with purple thread, following some of the angled pieced lines. Then, when I saw all the intriguing shapes those lines created, I decided to quilt the shapes separately – in a different color thread.

The chartreuse thread I chose went well with the main non-purple color in my quilt, but I didn’t have as much of the thread as I thought. I placed an order for more, but it would take a week to arrive. So, I quilted only three rounds in each shape with chartreuse, and filled in the rest with my purple thread. Oh, I also decided to change the quilting direction to just parallel lines. The process of yanking the quilt through my sewing machine’s harp with each round was hard on my machine and my arms.

When I changed to parallel lines I decided to use my machine’s automatic tie-off feature so I wouldn’t have to hand knot and bury hundreds of thread ends. I’ve done this before and have gotten by with it. However, the purple thread I was using on the top and bottom stood out blindingly on the yellow-green backing fabric.

Because the shapes were so awkward, I had to start and stop my quilting lines however I could. I did switch to a lighter bobbin thread once I saw what was happening. The change helped a bit, but the thread barf balls still show up well. At this point I wasn’t open to ripping out and starting over.

Usually I steam press the daylights out of my tops to get them flat. However, “Deep Purple” has velveteen, which marks badly when steam pressed, so it was lightly pressed. Despite pinning, parts of the top were looser than others and the fabrics were different thicknesses, so the fabric scooched up along the bias lines I was quilting. The result was sheering and tiny pleats. I did redo some of the worst. Yes, I used a walking foot.

Right now this mess hangs over a banister, awaiting some sort of edge finish. Like me, it looks OK from a distance in dim lighting. Up close it’s another story.

I’m linking to Off The Wall Friday.

15 Comments

Filed under Completed Projects, In Process, Modern Quilting

Too Much Purple?

People see red, turn green with envy, are blue, etc., but what emotion is associated with purple? Passion? Overheated prose? Anger? Elegant decadence?

I ended up with a very purple quilt top for a prosaic reason, nothing to do with emotions. The scraps I had, gifted velveteen from a church janitor, and luscious grape fabric I had on hand determined my purple path. I stitched  already pieced scraps from past projects onto old phone book pages. My idea was to do paper piecing light, with far fewer seams sewn through the paper.

The scraps are left from a baby quilt and “Church Windows”

Next, I sewed Marcia Derse’s grape crush solid fabric down around the edges, along with contrasting color handles. It was easier said than done, as sharp angles caused me to misjudge how much fabric to allow.

I also added velveteen edges and tried mixing in different purple fabric. That did not go well.

I abandoned the velveteen edges and tried other corner treatments made of velveteen and silk.

I didn’t like the clunkiness where the corners meet. I also decided to eliminate a row of blocks and add a border. I was bound and determined to use the velveteen. It’s not your eyes; the photo is out of focus.

I’ll spare you all the fiddling I did, but I eventually settled on the following arrangement.

The corners are spread out and work on a border has begun.

I decided to drop the narrow inner border. The color is really a yellow green, which photographs more yellow than it is.

The present state of “Deep Purple.”

Right now it’s quite prickly looking. Maybe I’ll get it quilted this year or maybe I’ll decide to change it and save the quilting for 2019.

I’m linking to Off The Wall Friday.

18 Comments

Filed under In Process, Modern Quilting

Modern Curves

I hereby declare this is drunkards path week. First, I featured the paintings of Luiz Zerbini. Now, I want to show you two small quilts, let’s call them quiltlets, I’ve been working on. They use the modern drunkards path block.

What makes this block modern? As the photo below shows, the larger, traditional orange and yellow blocks have at least a half inch between the outer edge and the pie piece, while in the smaller modern blocks the distance between the pie  and the curved piece is just 1/4 inch. When the modern blocks are sewn together, the pies touch each other. At least that’s the theory.

Inspired by the work of Jenny Haynes, I created a flower pillow and a small quilt using the templates I had copied from the back of Angela Pingel’s “A Quilter’s Mixology.”

The 15.5 inch pillow cover is made up of 3.5 inch blocks and is quilted with my sewing machine’s serpentine stitch.

The 20.5 by 24.5 inch quiltlet reverses the light and dark colors from the pillow cover.

The stem is a strip of old curtain material I plucked from the theater costume shop’s garbage can.

I’m still working up a quilting design for “Flower Power” but have managed to start two new projects, so I’ve shoved all the boring (to me) finishing chores to the bottom of the heap. I have a month and a half until the close of 2018, plenty of time for all the facings/bindings/quilting/hanging sleeves needed.

I’m linking to Off The Wall Friday.

10 Comments

Filed under In Process, Modern Quilting

Stars From My Scrap Bins

My last procrastination to avoid my canal project was a scrappy stars quilt. The canal project is onto its next phase, so I can stop making excuses now. Meanwhile, I have yet another top to quilt. I don’t think I thought my diversion through to its logical end.

As I’ve done before, I pulled out my scrap strips bins to create lots of strip squares, which I then cut into two triangles. Many of the light colored squares were made from scrap bags I bought at the Sew Batik sewing expo booth. I just don’t use light fabrics enough to have a good stockpile of light strips.

I paired the triangles in mostly light/dark combinations, with a few all light ones, and had fun creating stars with them. I was inspired by a quilt posted on Pinterest. It was made by Stash Lab Quilts, and is brighter than mine.

I had made a rough drawing of my layout, but found that getting the light triangles to flow together really drove the composition. I guess I know who or what is really in charge. That’s right, color and value.

I’m linking up to Nina-Marie’s Off The Wall Friday.

8 Comments

Filed under In Process, Modern Quilting

The Last Bit Seems To Take Forever

It used to be that I took forever to quilt my tops. I’ve gotten better at that, but now I face the hurdle of finishing the edges. Case in point, my Big Red quilt.

It began as an offshoot of Rayna Gillman’s casual suggestion in her latest book to alternate background fabrics slightly for an accordion fold effect. That appealed to me, so I sorted numerous red fabric strips into lighter and darker piles and sewed them on a diagonal to lighter and darker pieces of gray fabric. I spiced up the red with bits of blue and metallic gray fabric.

Originally each vertical strip was the same width, but I found that too static and cut off different sized bits from the left and right sides.

I’m glad I used a leftover piece of wool batting as it makes the straight line quilting stand out so well. The heavier red line at the top of the red quilting sections was done with a jeans stitch. I had planned to couch cording there, but decided I could get straighter lines with a heavy stitch line.

Two decisions remain. Should I do more quilting in the long diamond shapes and what edge finish should I use? I have two gray fabrics as possible bindings. One is the metallic gray I used in the red sections. I could also face the edges.

Let me know your thoughts. I’ve had it up on the design wall too long to be objective about it.

26 Comments

Filed under In Process, Modern Quilting

Artistic Endeavors – Gee’s Bend’s Mary Lee Bendolph

The recent QuiltCon show had the fingerprints of Gee’s Bend quilters all over it. One of the more prominent of those quilters – Mary Lee Bendolph – is featured in a current (through May 27, 2018) exhibit at the Mount Holyoke College Art Museum. She was born in 1935, freely used whatever fabrics were at hand (jeans, suits, etc.) and is now involved in printmaking.

To quote from the exhibit website, “This exhibition, which is the first to examine works from five decades of Bendolph’s life, considers her quilts as objects with many meanings. At once functional necessities and aesthetic wonders, many of the quilts on view are also family documents and symbolic memorials.”

Here are a few of her quilts.

Husband Suit Clothes (Housetop Variation), 1990
mixed fabrics, including corduroy, cotton, denim, velveteen, and synthetic brocade
80 x 76 inches

Ghost Pockets, 2003
Mixed fabrics including denim, cotton, polyester, and synthetic wool
Overall: 72 in. x 85 in.

“In Ghost Pockets, Bendolph incorporates pieces of her husband’s jeans, complete with their faded patches, still-saturated seams, and the deep indigo “ghosts” of pockets that once held Rubin Sr.’s hands, his tools, and other personal items. She also uses strips of turquoise, pink, and creamy yellow cotton, taken from his pants and shirts.

Created more than a decade after Rubin Sr.’s death, this quilt represents Bendolph’s resistance to a Gee’s Bend tradition: that of burning the clothing of the deceased. Instead, Bendolph saved articles of Rubin Sr.’s clothing to make quilts. “That way,” she said, “you always be with me…you’re always covering me.” The back side of Ghost Pockets has a large strip of red flannel overlaying a multicolored, patterned piece, intentionally giving the illusion of a quilt on top of a quilt.”

Swarthmore College’s List Gallery is the exhibit’s next stop.

Just for comparison’s sake, you can check out the winners at the 2018 QuiltCon here.

 

10 Comments

Filed under Commentary, Exhibits, Modern Quilting

The Denim (And Other Old Stuff) Challenge

One of the good (and bad) aspects of art quilt groups is their love of challenges. It’s good to have a starting point for a piece, but I find it can distract me from more long term work. If I have a choice between analyzing and fixing what went wrong on an existing piece and plunging into a new piece, guess which I pick.

At first I wasn’t going to join a recent challenge to use denim and/or old shirts in a piece. I had already used my husband’s shirts (with his permission) to make Shirtsleeves, and I didn’t have any all cotton old jeans.

Then, my husband asked if I could use a pair of his old jeans and a shirt. It was kismet, so I began my challenge piece under the influence of Rayna Gillman’s latest book, Create Your Own Improv Quilts.

I saw that I didn’t have enough denim, but did have damask tablecloths and napkins I had dyed shades of blue.  More kismet. I decided on 6 inch squares as my background, and fused lightweight interfacing to the damask before I cut it. If you don’t stabilize it, the damask will stretch out of shape.

I loved how the denim look changed depending on which side I put up.

Next, I began to slash the squares diagonally and sew strips onto the larger piece. At this point I decided to finish each square with the smaller piece I had cut off. I liked how it made the center small diamonds see-through.

Rayna’s version fills the centers with color, but I thought more color might be too distracting for mine as the background was already different colors. I think my version looks quite different, which shows how versatile some loose guidelines can be for improv work.

The top is done, named (Damask and Denim,) and just needs quilting inspiration.

13 Comments

Filed under Art quilts, In Process, Inspiration, Modern Quilting