Monday, May 30, 2016

Memorial Day 2016

On this Memorial Day we honor those who've served to protect the USA and especially our fathers who served in World War II.

Ensign Richard Lewis Stewart (Elizabeth's dad) grew up in Memphis, Tenn., and attended the Naval Academy, class of 1941. His first assignment was to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, aboard the ship USS Downes.  It was in dry dock on the day of the attack.  Ensign Stewart earned a Purple Heart that day.
Sargent William Fox (Sue's dad) grew up in Berks County PA. After a year of college, he enlisted in the Army and served in the European theater, in Sicily and North Africa. One of Sue's childhood memories of Memorial Day is helping her dad put the markers and flags on the graves of veterans at two local cemeteries.
We wish to thank all those who have defended our country in the past as well as those who do so today to insure the many freedoms we enjoy and sometimes take for granted.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Inspired By The National Parks

You might remember from past posts where Sue talked about being involved in a quilt project honoring the 100th anniversary of the National Parks. This exhibit and book project was put together by Donna Marcinkowski DeSoto.  Some of the quilts debuted at the International Quilt Festival in Houston last November, and now that the book has been published, we can share photos of our quilts.  You can find the book on Amazon if you're interested in a copy.
The book is spectacular! It is not just a picture book of quilts, it includes a narrative about each of the 59 parks represented, written by a ranger who works at that park. They bring a familiarity and perspective to each of the parks that complements the quilts and artist statements.
Each park is interpreted with 3 quilts - a landscape which could be either vertical or horizontal, and a flora and fauna specific to that park. Sue's contribution was flora for Mesa Verde, the scarlet globe mallow.  Having visited Mesa Verde in 2006, this was her first choice of parks to create a quilt for.
Here it is on page 192!

There are 177 quilts in all, and even though many were seen prior to publication, it is absolutely wonderful to see them all together. 
This landscape quilt for Arches is one of Sue's favorites. Here are some other flora and fauna examples.
This is a book to be digested slowly and savored, both for the information about the parks and the quilts themselves. It is a visual and inspirational delight!

All of the quilts will be exhibited at the Quilters Unlimited annual show June 3-5 at the Dulles Expo Center in Chantilly, Virginia. They will also be exhibited at the Virginia Quilt Museum in Harrisonburg, VA, beginning July 26 thru September 10.  If you live in Virginia, we hope you will be able to see the exhibit at one of these venues.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

More Victoria Findlay Wolfe

Here are a few more photos Elizabeth took of Victoria's show and tell in her 15 Minutes of Play class.
This is an example of her stretched hex and tumbler class.
Another version.
Playing with these shapes for a pictorial quilt.

Find out more about Victoria's class offerings and where she will be teaching on her website.  If you're on the east coast, she will be teaching at QuiltCon East in Savannah next February.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Mobile Apps for the Quilter

While taking Victoria Findlay Wolfe’s 15 Minutes of Play class, Elizabeth had to figure out the amount of fabric needed as setting blocks for her four large pieced 9 patches.  They are going to be on-point in a quilt top, so she needs large amounts of fabric for her blocks. 
Victoria recommended three free apps for the cell phone which could magically do the math for us.  They are all three created by Mary Kay Podlecki and they certainly did the trick. 

Quilt Ref includes the setting triangle feature so you know exactly how large to cut the triangles when setting your quilt blocks on point.  It also includes a chart of common bed sizes for quilters. 
Quilt Fab will help you calculate the binding and border fabric requirements for up to 3 borders.  It will also help with the amount of fabric needed for sashing, backing and setting triangles for a quilt set on point, the number of blocks to cut, and amount of fabric necessary.  Quilt Fab uses both inches or centimeters. 
Block Fab will help you visualize how 50 common blocks will look in your quilt layout.   It will help you determine the amount of fabric needed for each piece in your quilt layout. 
Try out these free apps and let us know how they worked for you. 

Thursday, May 19, 2016

"Fearless Color"

Rayna Gillman's second class at VCQ Celebration which both Sue and Elizabeth took was called “Fearless Color”. Elizabeth posted this picture of the class on Facebook with the class title, but no one commented on the black & white photo!
We began with a package of six 5 inch squares and were told to pick 2 which were our least favorite colors and then one which we liked.  Elizabeth chose a brown and a green as her least favorites and a pale yellow as one she liked.  After cutting them into different shapes and gluing together a collage we were allowed to add an accent color. Elizabeth picked red.  Our choices were very limited in the packet to get us to stretch ourselves out of any normal comfort zones.

Rayna demonstrated how she uses her iPhone to look at the values of a composition by turning the phone to a black and white camera option.  This is a handy tool to use and could replace all those old color filters we have around our studios that block out reds and greens and helped with seeing value. Our phones are usually close by and not buried under piles of other supplies.  This was one of the take-aways from this class.  Another is that "there is no such thing as doesn't go" - as long as a fabric is repeated in the piece.
In the afternoon we all were given a square of multi-colored fabric with stars and asked to create something that was a pleasing composition to us even if we didn’t like the base fabric.  Here is what each person made both in color and black and white.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Tip For Miniature Quilt Blocks

Realizing that many people take classes where they want to remember everything and replicate a project just like the teacher’s project, Elizabeth has a different perspective on taking classes.  Her one goal is to take home one tip that stays with her and can be used in future projects.  The tip doesn’t even have to pertain to the project of the day as often teachers give small bits of advice or guidance on everything from choosing a color to a new trick for sewing something together.

Victoria Findlay Wolfe is no exception, she is an excellent teacher who combines show-and-tell style group instruction with personalized attention to each student as they sew.    These scrap blocks in Victoria’s quilt are only one-inch square. 
The tip that spoke to Elizabeth during her recent class was one for miniature piecing.
How does she manage such tiny pieces?  With big seam allowances!  It was an a-ha moment where many in the class said “Why hadn’t I ever thought of that?"  Her scraps are small without being tiny and her seam allowances are half-inch and trimmed after sewing.  When enough pieced fabric is made to place a one-inch acrylic template over it and cut around, then the block is done.  Try it, you will be amazed.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Victoria Findlay Wolfe

At the VCQ Celebration weekend, Elizabeth took a class from Victoria Findlay Wolfe called ”15 Minutes 
of Play”.  Victoria also has a book by the same title.

Motivation to take the class came from the realization that for the past few years this method of creating scrap yardage had been embraced by her mother, Barbara, who was determined to use up her fabric stash without buying more.  Hoping to pass on her knowledge from the class this summer in New Hampshire, Elizabeth was planning to gain a few new tips and techniques for this method.  Since Barbara had died a short few days before the class, Elizabeth decided to use Barbara’s scraps to create a project. 

She ended up making some 9 patch blocks from squares Barbara had already put together and now has four large 9 patches which she can use to make a bed sized quilt.  No photos of those blocks yet but hopefully she can work on adding to them this summer to make a completed quilt.  Sue will have to be 
the enforcer - I mean encourager!  Victoria was generous with her ideas for setting the blocks into a plan for this quilt.

Victoria often uses a template to cut large blocks after making her pieced yardage.  Another tool she uses is the folded mirror so she can visualize what a completed design would look like and decide if she wants to make changes before stitching instead of after.  Also creative and interesting is her use of adding a unifying fabric to all of the scrappy template cut pieces such as the addition here of the white points.  

Victoria is an excellent teacher who uses her scrap method to create quilts that are extremely varied in appearance and block design yet united by the use of created yardage from scraps.  An added bonus is 
that Victoria’s scrap quilt blocks come together fast creating an entire quilt top quickly.  If you are ever near a venue where Victoria is teaching, you should seriously consider taking a class from this expert. Here are a few more pictures from class.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Strips and Squares with Rayna Gillman

One of the workshops Sue took at Celebration was on improvisational piecing with Rayna Gillman.  We learned her methods for creating strips and squares to create building blocks for a quilt based on her book, Create Your Own Free Form Quilts.
Strips of varying widths are cut free form (without a ruler) and stitched together. Then sometimes cut crosswise and inserted between other strips.  Or built out as a square in a square.  Solids and prints are needed.  Curvy and uneven are more interesting than straight.  Following your instincts is more important than planning. Repetition is important to unify the whole.
Above are examples of units made by Rayna - strips and squares - that can be the foundation of a quilt.
Below are some of Sue's building blocks.
 Here, everyone is hard at work playing with their fabrics.
Once you've got enough pieces, you can start working with them on your design wall to find a pleasing arrangement, and figure out what else you need to fill in.
Here are Sue's pieces stitched together.
Below are some of the other class participants with their creations.
 Sue says it was a fun, low-stress class and process and looks forward to more improvisational piecing.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Celebration Class Show & Tell

Traditionally, at the end of the retreat weekend we have a show and tell from each of the workshops.  Here are some shots from each one.  Keep in mind that the applique and hand stitching students have less to show for their time than those in machine classes!
Lucille Amos of NC taught Judy Niemeyer paper piecing.  Above is Mini Stars Table Runner.  Below is Indian Summer. The completed top is Lucille's sample.

June Colburn taught a collage class, above, and another called Print and Paint, below.
Augusta Cole's mysteries are always popular.  Below is her Choose Your Own Theme mystery.
 These 2 students were industrious and completed their tops!
Mystery 2 was Ready! Set! Start Your Machines!
Susan Emory of Swirly Girl Designs taught Equal Rights, below.
And Over Under Table Runner (over your table or under your tree).
 And since Susan was behind a quilt in most of the photos, here she is at the podium.
Rayna Gillman's first day class was Strips and Squares - improvisational piecing.
Her second class was called Fearless Color.
Diane Kirkhart taught Beginning and Advanced Applique using the Appliquick Tools.
 The beginning class worked on mini Sunbonnet Sues and Overall Sams for a pouch to hold the tools.
The advanced class made roses for an applique wall hanging.
Cheryl See's classes worked with hexagons and English Paper Piecing to make Jewel Box, above, and start on a Hexie Daisy wall hanging below.
Victoria Findlay Wolfe was the final teacher.  Her first class was 15 Minutes of Play, and the second was Double Wedding Ring, both based on her books.
Above is one of her samples for 15 Minutes of Play (crazy pieced center) - somehow, we didn't snap a show & tell photo for this class.  Below is the Double Wedding Ring class.
Lots of fun, and lots of productive quilters!