From photographs to quilt blocks

March 8, 2016

One of my clients requested certain buildings & geological features for his Alaskan quilt.

Like Linda V. Taylor, I said, “I can do that!” (Are you chuckling yet?)

He provided some photos & references as a start, but gave me leeway based on his familiarity with my work. I also spent many hours on the Internet perusing photos of the area, & examining our personal collection.that has accumulated over the years.

Since the quilt is still in progress, I will not show it in entirety. However, how I tackled turning photos into fabric may be of interest.

 

Ma Johnsons hotel plan

Designing the block

This building is rectangular in nature, so I plotted the block on graph paper. (The finished block is 10″x14″.) I added fusible to the back of the brown fabric & then cut narrow strips for framing,  to be machine appliqued in place. The porch roof was also appliqued in place. In retrospect, I should have either starched the fabrics, or better yet, used batiks, for there is a little fraying along the edges that I don’t like.

The railings (banisters) were embroidered in place using a wide satin stitch on my Janome 8900. The sign was completed separately, using alphabet embroidery, than appliqued into place.

McCarthy, Ma Johnsons

Ma Johnson’s Hotel, completed block

 

To reproduce a landscape feature, my process in a little different. It’s not so easy to square off a mountain on graph paper! This ice fall of the Root Glacier looks like a staircase, & is often referred to as The Staircase.

Staircase ice fall plam

Developing a plan for the ice fall block

It’s difficult to see here, but I enlarged one of the photos & then traced the predominant lines of the descending levels on vellum paper. Simplifying is hard for me; I want to add too many details.

McCarthjy, Icefall prep

Photos & fabrics

Going thru my white, light blue, grey, glittery fabrics was a bit of a chore. It proved easier to eliminate fabrics, than to choose! At last I had a selection that seemed to give the appearance of a staircase (sort of like a stepped waterfall in ice), & applied fusible to the backsides. Pieces were machine appliqued in place, some hardly more than a sliver.

Here is the finished block:

McCarthy, Icefall

The Staircase ice fall, finished block

 

Published!

March 6, 2016
Slices Quilters Newsletter-Finalist issue

My “Slices!”in the lower right corner)

Being selected as a Finalist is special & exciting, even when one is not a winner. This week a copy of Quilter’s Newsletter (April/May2016 issue) arrived in the mail, & there I am!

Slices, N. Rowland 2015

My “Slices!”in the lower right corner)

 

IMG_4485

Last May I ordered the Be Creative Quilt Challenge 2015 fabric bundle. It contained four & a half yards of  Lotta Jansdotter Windham Fabrics. & they did not necessarily “go together,” in my opinion, but I guess that’s what makes it a challenge.

Slices fabric

Be Creative Quilt Challenge fabric bundle

The rules were to use EIGHT of the fabrics, & I could add three more. Right away I saw the black stripe on the far left as a possible background .Below are my choices.

Slices (9)

Top row: my choice of eight provided fabrics;     Bottom row: three additional fabrics

For design inspiration, I turned to magazines & books with a modern flair.

Slices--maybe

Some resources for nspiration

My design plan began to take shape, literally.

I used the striped fabrics as background, then “fussy cut” round & oval motifs from the remaining fabrics to applique onto the background. The motifs were backed (“lined”) with used dryer sheets and/or light Pellon interfacing, sewn right sides together, split & turned right side out. This provided a finished edge for stitching down by machine with a blind hem stitch & smoke mono-filament thread.

Slices (12)

Fussy cutting & lining motifs

Slices (11)

Lined motifs ready to turn

 

 

 

 

 

 

Slices (13)

Arranging ovals & rounds for machine applique

My collection of ovals & round were arranged on the background. As my work progressed, I kept thinking they looked like slices, thence the title for my entry. Here’s a closeup of my finished Be Creative Challenge quilt, Slices.

Machine quilting note:  I loaded the quilt horizontally & quilted long horizontal lines following the waviness of the fabric design. The ovals & rounds feature outline stitching to emphasize their motifs.

Slices (18)

Finished quilt detail

And here’s the back:Slices back

 

 

 

 

 

Happy New Year 2016

January 1, 2016

Beginning with a look backward before tackling what is ahead…

Probably the most outstanding event of my quilting year was getting my Gammill longarm (Klondike) relocated to where my husband & I are living. His declining health has necessitated living alternately with our two sons,& much of my sewing stuff was left behind. In June a grandson & his wife helped me move Klondike from our former home, a happy day for me!

Another highlight was winning an award at a national quilt show, but the irony was that because of DH’s health, I could not attend to receive it! (See May 30 entry.)

Watching my daughter’s growing interest & skills in quilting has been gratifying,  lovingly shown in the beautiful Storm at Sea quilt she made & quilted for my 80th birthday.

Nancy's 80th crop(2)

Yes, I’ve passed the 80 year mark. but I’m not too old to quilt! Life count at this time is approximately 825 quilts and I’m heading for a thousand!

The completed top

June 1, 2015

Using what was left of the off-white Grunge, I added side borders & then the ombre black/grey dots to reach twin size.

Triple Play Plus

Triple Play Plus

Close up view

Close up view

How DO they get those beautiful magazine shots?

This one will be a challenge to longarm quilt, with all those big spaces to fill, but fun as well.

Designing a modern quilt

May 30, 2015

The fabrics have been set aside for ages, & the time has come to devote my efforts to designing the quilt. I want a so-called modern look, a few large blocks surrounded by lots of ‘white space’ which will showcase my longarm quilting.

Although I have a vague idea in mind, I start with resources chosen to get my creative juices flowing.

Resources for designing

Resources for designing

Here are the fabrics I’m choosing from.

IMG_7552The dotted fabric is a favorite around which I’m designing the quilt. As it turns out, the piece is only 10″ by 56″. I had to do some computation to figure maximum width of framing borders for my blocks.

Below strips are laid out prior to assembly. In the upper right corner you can see my sketch/plan for three large rectangles & one small rectangle.

IMG_7553

Instead of adding the narrow strips like borders, I used the technique of applying the narrow strips on top of & inside the prior border, making a flap which was folded over to meet the seam edge & ironed flat.

I first used this method in a class with Jan Krentz.

IMG_7554

And here are the finished blocks.

IMG_7555

Next step is figuring how to place them on the light turquoise background fabric.

Oh, no! There’s not enough of the background fabric! I want the finished quilt to be at least twin size. My stash at my present location is very small, & ordering by mail is iffy at best (mail plane twice a week). With another careful look thru my fabrics on hand, I found an ombre grey/black that may work. The dilemma is how to incorporate it & keep the modern look I’m seeking.

 

Prize winner!

May 30, 2015

IMG_7551

“Nightfall”   Original design modeled after wall decor of Hyatt Regency Hotel, Wichita KS, using white/black ombre fabric from Joy’s Fabrics & blue/purple ombre remnant. Crystals simulate stars.

This is my entry in the 2015 Fabric Challenge of Machine Quilters Showcase. It is such a joy to be a winner! I was not able to attend the Awards Ceremony because of my husband’s illness, but a friend took a photo for me. It’s the first year I’ve missed the show since 2008.

Backing of northern lights fabric is shown below..

IMG_7556

More Noah’s Ark baby quilts

April 21, 2015

After a considerable lapse of time, the fabric remaining on the Noah’s Ark bolts seemed to be calling for my attention. In little more than a week, I made eight more pieced baby quilts, with backings & bindings. This depleted the four bolts of fabric except for a few small odd shaped strips & pieces.

Here I’m trying for a more “modern” treatment, using horizontal solid strips, but offsetting the big blocks to add movement. (I tend to be symmetrical & conservative, which my husband interprets as “blah,” so I do try to step “out of the box.”

Noah's Ark #7, horizontal strips

Noah’s Ark #7, horizontal strips

There are some small lines of black/white checks in the featured fabrics, so for this one I just cut a huge “panel” & added grey checkered fabric wide borders.

Noah's Ark #8, Panel with grey checks

Noah’s Ark #8, Panel with grey checks

Purple Rain–another “modern” treatment. With the Clover bias tape maker, I made purple bias tape, applied narrow strips of fusible (Soft-Fuse) to the back, ironed the tape onto the white strips, sewed the tape in place with a double needle, & Presto! Purple Rain! I had fun with this one.

Noah's Ark #9, Purple Rain

Noah’s Ark #9, Purple Rain

Here the focus fabric blocks are alternated with Monkey Wrench blocks featuring solids. I did not feel it was necessary to add a border. This is another of my favorites.

Noah's Ark #10, Monkey Wrench

Noah’s Ark #10, Monkey Wrench

Noah's Ark #11, panel with green border

Noah’s Ark #11, panel with green border

Noah's Ark #12, border strips boxed in green

Noah’s Ark #12, border strips boxed in green

Noah's Ark #13, border strips boxed in pink

Noah’s Ark #13, border strips boxed in pink

By this time, not only was the focal fabric pretty well used up, so were the solids I’d been using. So what’s left went into 2 1/2 inch strips & squares to make LOTS of four patches for border strips inside & outside.

Noah's Ark #14, border strips with four patch strips

Noah’s Ark #14, border strips with four patch strips

At a later time I will do the longarm quilting, add the binding to these eight tops, & then turn them over to my local quilting guild for community distribution.

Noah’s Ark Quilts, continued

April 21, 2015

This one is modeled after a pattern I saw, don’t remember where.

Noah's Ark #5 Zig Zag Chain

Noah’s Ark #5 Zig Zag Chain

Number 6 is a take-off on The Big E-Z pattern, just four big blocks, some four patches, & some border print. I didn’t notice until it was hanging for display at our Guild meeting that one of the four patches is turned the wrong way. Do you see it?

Noah's Ark #6

Noah’s Ark #6, The Big E-Z

Noah’s Ark quilts

April 19, 2015

Every year I make a number of quilts for charity. My Guild calls them “service quilts,” as they are a service to the community. Last year the chairman gave me four bolts of Noah’s Ark fabric (Debbie Mumm for South Sea Imports), & said, “Make baby quilts.”

Noah's Ark fabrics

Noah’s Ark fabrics

What fun! Coordinated fabrics–yards & yards!

The first is a row quilt, composed of strips of the border print alternating with four-patches set on point.

Noah's Arl #1

Noah’s Ark #1

I made a bunch of half square triangles & incorporated them in quilts #2,3,4.

Noah's Ark #2

Noah’s Ark #2

Noah's Ark #3

Noah’s Ark #3

Noah's Ark #4

Noah’s Ark #4

Three days, three months or three years?

April 19, 2015

“Ohhh…..how long did it take you to make that?”

This often-asked question is very difficult to answer. I am not an 8:00 to 5:00 automaton. I am pretty much free to sew whenever & however I choose–before 7:00 am, or late at night, or not at all, because I’m not in the mood, or family circumstances interfere.

The idea for a quilt may germinate years before the finished product takes shape; a purchased pattern may lie unused for “ages.”

If I’m designing a quilt, that alone takes an unknown amount of time. Once I have a design–or a pattern–I like to cut as much as I can before starting to sew, sort of like putting a kit together. (Oops–I left out the time it takes to shop for & choose fabrics.)

Generally I like to finish what I start, so there are not UFO’s (unfinished objects) to deal with. But there are exceptions: pieced tops that may wait for years due to running out of a main fabric, finding a technique too difficult, family situations, or just losing interest.

On the other hand, in the past week I pieced eight baby quilts & prepared backings & bindings for them. (More about that in a later post.)

So when you ask me how long it takes, you’ll get a round-about answer that’s not very specific.