Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Variegated Threads - A Modern Spool Quilt

About 18 months ago, I was asked by the MQG if I'd agree to publish my Chess on the Steps pattern in Simply Moderne magazine (produced in France by Quiltmania).  I happily agreed! Quiltmania editors were impressed by the free pattern of the month quilts on display at QuiltCon 2015 and enquired about running a monthly feature on MQG quilts and modern quilting techniques written by MQG Communications Manager Riane Menardi.  Soon the terms changed and the folks at Simply Moderne requested new, fresh patterns in lieu of the previously published free patterns of the month. I was so pleased for the opportunity to be a pattern contributor for a piece on Improv Quilting (although, as you know, actually writing a pattern for improv is a daunting prospect and sort of counter-intuitive to the process).

Hmmm, what to do? I knew I wanted to incorporate my Improv Under the Influence technique because I think it is such a fun gateway for quilters venturing into improv from a traditional quilting background.My inspiration came in the form of Oakshott's new Colourshott range. This gorgeous, luminous fabric had served me so well with Chess on the Steps, but I wanted to use more fact all of them! Looking at a unit of improv strips sitting on my design wall from another project, it came to me that it would make a perfect thread spool. There are so many ways to make spool blocks and I've long admired vintage spool quilts. I've even made several fun spool quilts using selvages in the past.  This time, I decided to take advantage of the colour range and create variegated spools, each with four different but related colours; just like you'd see on real thread display racks.

Variegated Threads by Poppyprint

Ultimately, the pattern is part 'planned' improv (the thread units of each spool are built using my Improv Under the Influence technique) and part traditional piecing. Once trimmed, the thread units are pieced into the spool block, then joined together to form the wall hanging. One fun element of the pattern is that two rectangular spools sewn side by side form a square block, so the quilt could be laid out with alternating two horizontal/two vertical spools. That way, the light and dark grey backgrounds would zigzag, forming a secondary pattern.  I've also created a table runner sewing 7 spools side by side. I can't wait to use it on my dining table for Stitch Group days!

Variegated Threads by Poppyprint

I had a lot of fun quilting this piece using my collection of rainbow Aurifil 40 wt threads that I'd initially purchased to finish this quilt a couple of years ago. That custom box of Aurifil thread (purchased from my friend Carola) seemed an extraordinary extravagance at the time, but I have used all of the colours time and again, so I don't regret it for one second!  In the background areas, I used a medium grey and quilted a swirling loop to resemble pooling threads. In each variegated spool, I tried domestic ruler work for the first time (sewing the straight lines with a darning foot beside a thick ruler) so that I could go back and forth in both directions without having to turn the quilt to avoid the dreaded 'fabric drag' between the quilting lines. Each spool features a coordinating or matching thread colour. It was a great success on my Juki!

Variegated Threads by Poppyprint

Simply Moderne #5 features my Variegated Threads pattern and an article on Improv Quilting by Riane Menardi of the MQG.

I just love this little quilt.  It is a great introduction to improv work, which of course can evolve into a much freer, creative process where the maker begins with a toolbox of techniques and an inspired idea instead of a pattern. 

Want to make your very own? The Oakshott company has prepared full kits for the front and binding of the quilt, conveniently made with charm packs of their luscious new Colourshott range of shot cottons. If you are luck enough to attend the Birmingham Festival of Quilts next month in the UK, you can see my quilt in person at the Oakshott stand as well as purchase a kit - otherwise they are available online right here.  You'll also need a copy of Simply Moderne issue #5 for the pattern, available here.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Last Chance for Stitch at Sea II !

The booking window is about to close and we have one final double room available on our exciting Alaskan Stitch at Sea II adventure sailing from Vancouver, B.C. to Alaska, U.S.A. from September 11 - 18, 2016.   Would you like to join our group? Booking info at the bottom of this post.

We'll be making this quilt! Learn fast and accurate piecing, curved piecing without pins, bias applique by machine, fitting sashing/borders.  You bring your own sewing machine and have a table all to yourself - our dedicated sewing room stays set up all week for workshop and free sewing time!

My Cutting Garden workshop is sponsored by Sizzix, who've generously supplied two cutting machines and a multitude of dies that we'll need to cut our scraps fast and accurately! More time for swapping, sewing and fun!  All participants will also receive an incredible swag bag jam-packed with awesome quilting goodies (with more to add at each quilt shop we visit en route!).

Pulling away from Canada Place
Pulling out of our berth in Vancouver for Stitch at Sea, June 2015  

Hoonah, AK
Alaska old and new: our Celebrity Infinity anchored at Hoonah, AK

Hoonah, AK
Icy Strait Point, AK

Stitch at Sea Alaska 2015
Mendenhall Glacier, Juneau, AK

Hoonah, AK

Creek Street, Ketchikan
Ketchikan, AK

For anyone wondering, there are a few spouses joining us. There will be plenty of time to explore our ports of call with your significant other and the ship provides many activities to keep them occupied while the rest of us pursue our passion for quilting in our dedicated conference room (where, by the way, visitors are welcome).

Dana, Rebecca, Andrea and Sindy stitch their commemorative hoop at sea! (from 2015)

Stitch at Sea Alaska 2015

Feel free to email me with any questions (address in the left sidebar just below my picture). For more info and to check out room options, please contact our fellow quilter and booking agent:

Lynn McNeill
Cruise & Vacation Specialist
250-656-5441 1-800-561-2350

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Quilt Canada - A Ribbon!

I've just returned home from the National Juried Show put on by the Canadian Quilters' Association. The show was held in Toronto very near to the airport at a convention centre. On the opening night, I was thrilled to discover that Orange Grove won 2nd place in the Modern Bed or Wall Quilt category!! I happily shared the prize with Krista Withers, who no doubt secured the win with her outstanding modern quilting on this quilt.

Photo: Brent Kane, Martingale 2014, all rights reserved

Photo: Brent Kane, Martingale 2014, all rights reserved

A huge thank you to Brother, who sponsored this generous award! Several representatives from the company were at the show, so I was able to thank them in person. I'm thrilled to have a beautiful CQA Rosette to hang proudly in my sewing room. It was my desire to support CQA in their expansion to include modern quilts in the national show and was so pleased that the jury also chose to hang Chess on the Steps and Ice Road.

I volunteered for 8 hours over two days as a white glove host and had several interesting conversations with show-goers about modern quilting. The vast majority of visitors are very supportive and enthusiastic about quilting moving forward in an inclusive direction, but there still others who look on with a puzzled expression and willingly admit "I just don't get it". I did meet lovely people and had a great time hanging out with Daryl and her gorgeous fabrics in the Fabric Spark booth. I happily signed copies of Make It, Take It there on Friday afternoon - it was fun to reignite my enthusiasm for all of the great projects in the book and even more fun that Orange Grove (a pattern in the book) is now a prize-winning quilt! 

For a full list of prize winners and photos of their quilts, check here. Have a look for Leanne and Terry and Cinzia's quilts!  It was also fantastic to see the work of other friends hung in the juried show, including Marianne, M-R and Janet. I also thought that the Toronto Modern Quilt Guild put on an excellent invitational display of members quilts and small challenge quilts.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

"Will I Remember Colour?" - a Quilt Show Challenge

It is time once again for my traditional guild's bi-annual show this weekend! I'm always very excited about our show for many reasons: we have a very active guild of talented quilters who go all-out to make beautiful quilts for the show, we encourage & celebrate all kinds of quilting styles, the venue is amazing with lots of space & natural light, there's a fabulous member's boutique (that I coordinate), a tea room and a big merchant mall!

This year I am pleased to say that I managed to complete a challenge quilt.  The theme was "Quilt Me a Story" and the idea was to create a small quilt no more than 60" in perimeter inspired by a favourite story or book.  Of all the books I've read recently, I was most affected by reading the Still Alice by Lisa Genova.  I resisted this book, thinking it would be horribly depressing, but I'm very glad that I read it, because while it is indeed incredibly sad, the story left me with a peace that is hard for me to explain.

While considering the quilt challenge, I thought about my creative life, my loves and how memory loss might affect me (my paternal Grandmother lived to a very old age, but suffered severe dementia in her last 10 years). What would happen to my work if I could not remember the names of colours? Would working with colour be the same, just without the words? Would colour still bring me joy? How would I put colours together?

"Will I Remember Colour?" A quilted response to the book Still Alice. 11 2/2" square. Piecing techniques à la Gwen Marston.
Will I Remember Colour?
 11 1/2" square

This quilt was made using the Small Studies techniques I learned from Gwen Marston last spring. I used Oakshott scraps that I had on hand and tried to work fairly quickly without giving much thought to colour theory or what I normally like together.

In addition to finishing up this challenge, I've been busy making items to sell in the boutique. I really enjoy doing this for every show. It is a great way to support the guild, enhance our show and also bring in a bit of cash for summer fun! (sorry, only iphone photos, no time for proper photography this week!).

Wool card wallets by Poppyprint. Used off its of expensive industrial wool to make these.
Industrial woolfelt off-cuts were turned into card wallets

Rope bowls by Poppyprint
I love making these rope bowls!

Tiny scraps of Liberty tana lawn on their way to becoming earrings!

And finally, here's my show ribbon. We started a fun tradition a few shows ago, inspired by the Parksville Quilter's Guild, to award home made ribbons to fellow guild members in fun categories. Each member of the show-organizing committee gets to choose their own category and award the ribbon to the quilt of their choice. Member's love it and it gives an opportunity for everyone to have a chance at a ribbon!  For this show, I chose "1/2 Square Triangles" (last show, I did Best Use of Solids and the show before that I did Travel Inspired Quilt). 

The ribbon I made to be awarded to a quilt with impressive 1/2 square triangles at my traditional guild show this weekend.

If you are local, I hope you'll visit us this Friday or Saturday at Capilano University. Come find me in the boutique!


Friday, May 20, 2016

All the Acronyms

So, recently I took an advanced FMQ class with the VMQG and made a QAYG baby playmat with the results.

I like to take Free Motion Quilting classes every couple of years just to work up my mojo and build confidence while trying new designs. There are so many great books, classes and teachers out there to learn from.  This class was taught by fellow Vancouver Modern Quilt Guild member Stacey Murton (hushrules on IG). She recently learned from some of the best modern quilters at QuiltCon and brought back some of her new found knowledge to share.

FMQ practice by Poppyprint

Ideas for free motion designs are endless, but it is always a good idea to start at the beginning and get into the flow with some simple swirly, loopy, meandering lines. While I regularly revert to my safe swirly stipple for a quick finish, one day I'd like to take more time with a special quilt and custom FMQ elements of it with individual motifs. It is wonderful that authors Christa Watson and Christina Cameli are supporting those of us working on domestic machines!

FMQ practice by Poppyprint

FMQ practice by Poppyprint

FMQ practice by Poppyprint

Some of these designs came from Stacey's class handouts (overlapping whorls, swirls + hooks, water and pebbles seen above), while the ones you see below came from Christina Camelli's book First Steps to Free Motion Quilting (puzzle pieces, interlocking circles & lines, tendrils and mussel shell thingies seen below).  I didn't mark anything on these practice sandwiches, I just started quilting. I think that with something like the puzzle pieces and interlocking circles & lines on a real quilting job, I would use a hera marker and ruler to lay out a grid of lines to follow in order to keep things fairly uniform and parallel.

FMQ practice by Poppyprint

FMQ practice by Poppyprint

FMQ practice by Poppyprint

I like medium sized motifs, like the swirls and mussel shell and paisley flower shapes. I find it more difficult to work smaller, as with tiny pebbles. Stacey suggested drawing pebbles like figure 8's but when I tried that it was tough to stay circular - mine ended up looking like tear drops. More practice required!  I thought the tendril/vine one would be super hard since backtracking with a darning foot is rather daunting for me, but turns out it wasn't too bad after all. 

Having the new Juki TL-2010Q has been a major help for me.  The machine purrs along beautifully and I do not have any difficulty with tension or thread breakage. The fairly low extension table is a bonus as well. I keep my speed in the middle range of the machine's tortoise to hare scale and actually move my quilt fairly slowly. I learned to do this from Christina's Craftsy class  "Free Motion Quilting Essentials" which is on sale for $24.60 Cdn* until Saturday.  I must say, slowing everything down helps to keep my shoulders more relaxed and I have more control over motif shapes and stitch length (no more 1/4" long stitches on curves!).

I didn't do all of this work in the class - these are fairly big FQ sized sandwiches. I completed two of the four while on retreat the week after class. After trimming them up, I joined them together using Marianne's tutorial here.  I've sent this off with some VMQG members to display and possibly be our raffle prize at Vancouver's Mini Maker Faire, June 11-12.

*I'm a Craftsy affiliate, which means if you click on the link and end up purchasing a class, I will receive a small commission. I promise to think of you when I buy my next latte.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Happy Birthday, Queen Victoria!

It is a long weekend here in Canada thanks to Queen Victoria having a birthday. The Monarchists among us like to refer to this weekend as May Two-Four (hehe). In other words, the number of beer bottles there are in a full case. It's a well-known camping/bush party/bonfire kinda weekend. Ahem. I have a feeling Vicky was more of a sherry kinda gal.

BUT, you can party in your jammies while enjoying some great sales this weekend!!  First up is Sew Sisters, offering 20% off on continuous yardage cuts with flat rate shipping in Canada and to the U.S. ON MONDAY ONLY.

There's a 15% off sale happening Saturday till Monday at Fabric Please! with code QUEENSBDAY

And a little bird told me that a perennial favourite, Drygoods Design will celebrate their 5 year online anniversary with a great (online only) sale TOMORROW, Friday May 20th!!

If you're looking to pick up some Cotton & Steel at 33% off, Mad About Patchwork has some Lucky Strike for you in their amazing sale section!

Picnic: Picnic Blanket in Teal

Have fun shopping!

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Latifah Saafir is coming to Vancouver!

The Vancouver Modern Quilt Guild is super excited about our upcoming visit by Latifah Saafir, one of the founder of the Modern Quilt Guild and an incredible designer. Latifah will give a lecture on the past, present and future of modern quilting on Friday, May 27th at 7:00 p.m. at the MEC head office (Great Northern Way near Clarke). There are still tickets available for the lecture at $15.

In addition to the lecture, non-members are invited to fill the few spaces we've still got left in the Rocket 88 (Sunday) and Molehills (Monday) classes! Please see this post for full details and Paypal links. 

Rocket 8 by Latifah Saafir


I'm excited for the GlamClam class on Saturday (sorry, sold out!). I need to get cutting!! Hope to see you at the lecture if you're local and can make it.