June 9, 2017

New photo setup

I borrowed a photography backdrop stand a few months ago for some quilt photographs, and decided I should have one of my own.  The setup consists of two vertical supports with a cross bar, and is adjustable in height and (somewhat) in width.

(I could have removed one of the top support sections for the above photo, but I didn't think of it at the time.  You'll see below why it is set to the maximum width.)

When I placed the order, it was worthwhile to add enough to my cart to qualify for free shipping.  The daily special was for a 10x10 muslin backdrop, so I added this to my order, along with a set of hanging clips.  (I'll use the hanging clips for quilts without a sleeve, unless I use the muslin.)

To use the muslin backdrop, I guess it would be best to use two stands.  But I simply pinned the quilt to the muslin, using basting-type safety pins from the back and pinning so that the pins do not show from the front.

The muslin makes for a cleaner background in the photos:

I think this setup will be especially helpful for entering contests, where sometimes the rules require that the entire front of the quilt be visible, with no clips or hands showing.

I also like that I can take photos without having to enlist multiple helpers, although it is still useful to have someone help thread the quilt or muslin onto the bar, and to keep things from toppling if a breeze stirs up.  (This is not a setup to use in the wind!)

Here's another new photo using the equipment, although these are quilts I have shared before (here and here).

UPDATE: Here's a photo showing the hanging clips in use:

May 26, 2017

Dreamweaver quilt

This quilt began with a design roll of Parson Gray Shaman fabric, which was a gift.  The strips in the roll were sorted by warm and cool colors, so I sought out a pattern to take advantage of this grouping.  The color groups can be seen in the swirls at the top of the roll in this photo:

The "Dreamweaver" pattern by Gudrun Erla, from her book Strip Your Stash, seemed like a good choice.  I chose a couple of Art Gallery Smooth Denims for the background and feature fabrics; I also supplemented the design roll with strips from my scrap bin, substituting for some of the duplicated fabrics in the roll.

The original quilt in the book uses a more controlled color scheme; the interlocking squares are less evident in my quilt, but I still like the overall look.

The denims have a subtle directionality due to the nature of the weave.  Normally I would try to keep all the pieces oriented the same, but that was not possible here.  The blocks are based on strip piecing, and the blocks are placed with various rotations.  I did keep the orientation consistent within each block, which results in some interesting contrasts at the intersections of the blocks.

I kept the quilting relatively simple, with orange peels/dogwoods/continuous curves in the background, and a simple echo in the strips.

I tried a new spot for photographing this quilt -- our backyard storage shed.  It's not an ideal spot; the lighting reflected from the foliage results in uneven color shifts.  However, I was able to hang and photograph it without helpers.  (I used old sewing machine needles to hang the quilt.)

The back uses one of the fabrics from the Shaman line.  I chose this fabric because of how well it coordinates with the gray denim used for background and binding, and also because I found a good sale price.

Here is a view showing front and back together.

I'm linking up with crazy mom quilts for Finish It Up Friday.

May 19, 2017

A baby-size New Star Rising

A few years ago I designed a transparency quilt based on sawtooth stars, and made a couple of versions in a lap size.  (You can see those versions here and here.)  Having received several requests for a pattern, I am finally writing it up, and decided to create a baby-size version of the quilt as well.

This quilt is 32" x 40", and except for the backing is all Art Gallery Smooth Denims.  The backing is Cotton+Steel's Les Fleurs Rosa in Peach.

For batting, I used Quilters Dream Pink 80/20 for the first time.  It is a lighter loft than I usually use, but it was the perfect size and the perfect price (free swag from Quiltcon).  With the solid fabrics, the quilting still shows up well.

I quilted rays in the background, as in the previous two quilts, but used slightly different fills this time.

I filled the large star with peacock plumes.

This is an easy quilt to make; the key is in the fabric selection.

If you are interested in pattern testing for me, please let me know.  (I can offer the PDF pattern and some publicity here on the blog and on Instagram in return.)

I'm linking up with crazy mom quilts for Finish It Up Friday.

April 27, 2017

AQS QuiltWeek Paducah

Tina and I just returned from a quick trip to Paducah, Kentucky, for the American Quilter's Society QuiltWeek show.  What a thrill to have a quilt accepted into the show, and even more so to receive a first-place ribbon!

This was my first time to visit the show, as well as the first time to enter, so naturally my entry was in the "Large Quilts -- 1st Entry in an AQS Paducah Quilt Contest" category.

You can read more about my Imperial Star quilt in this blog post.

We left home at 5 am on Wednesday for the four-hour drive to Paducah.  I would have liked to have gone up on Tuesday in time for the awards ceremony, but there were several reasons why that would not work for us.  Instead, I watched the awards from home via online streaming (in spite of some technical issues).  I missed hearing the full list of honorable mentions, so when Victoria Findlay Wolfe announced I had won first place, it was quite a surprise.

We arrived at the convention center right at 9:00 and paid $10 to park in a private lot.  After purchasing a ticket for Tina and picking up my contestant ribbon, we found my quilt, took a few photos, then browsed through all the amazing quilts on display.  It was really humbling to think that my quilt was placed higher than other nearby quilts.

There were a lot of really impressive quilts, and a lot of people there to view them.  This group is admiring "Captivated By Nature" by Olga Gonzalez-Angulo, which won the Best Stationary Machine Workmanship award; everyone was trying to figure out her techniques in creating the tiny dots which form the image on this quilt.

The Best of Show winner is Janet Stone's "Ewe Are My Sunshine." I did not get a good shot of the front, but here is a view of the back:

While I was busy ogling quilts, Tina met Setsuko Matsushima, who won a Judges' Recognition award for "Over the Waves":

 Tina was able to share a few words in Japanese with Setsuko, which she seemed thrilled to hear.

This was one of my favorite quilts from the show, for the design, colors, and execution.

The crowds were not so bad in the upstairs display hall, where we saw Melissa Sobotka's stunning "Silk Road Sampler," winner of the Best Wall Quilt award.

Such amazing realism. 


I like the fringe on the bottom too.

We also saw my friend and guild-mate Elaine Poplin's quilts, "Linus,"

and "A Rhinoceros in the Garden" (on the right; the quilt on the left is "Tickled Pink" by Beth Schilig.)


For lunch, we initially waited in this line...

...but soon decided their offerings appeared too challenging to eat while seated on a curb.  (There were lots of picnic tables, but no vacancies.)  Instead, we got unexciting sandwiches from another booth.

After lunch we took a shuttle to the dome pavilion to see Victoria Findlay Wolfe's special exhibit, including this gigantic quilt:

We checked out plenty of vendors, but one vendor I was hoping to see was at the Finkel building.  We caught a bus from the convention center to downtown; the transportation there and back took longer than we expected, and I'm not sure the trip was worthwhile.  We did find some great desserts at the bakery.  On the bus ride back, we learned we had been just a block away from other transportation options which might have worked better for us.

I did some more browsing while Tina rested and charged her phone, and then it was time for my interview(!).  Bonnie Browning, the Executive Show Director, met me at my quilt and we recorded a short video.

I learned from Bonnie that the judges liked my choice of background fabric.  Apparently they are used to seeing lighter, plainer backgrounds, and Bonnie was interested in how I made my choice.  I told her maybe I just didn't know any better.

After the interview, we made our way to the car and headed towards home.  We were home by 9:30.  It was a long and tiring day, but well worth the trip.

Here are some more quilt photos from the show, beginning with "Equilateral Sampler" by Rebecca Bryan (left) and "Le Chat de Mondrian" by Connie Griner (right):

"Twilight in the West" by  Shirley Gisi:

"Summer Solstice" by Leah Gravells, which placed third in Small Wall Quilts - Pictorial (this photo does not do the quilt justice, but I wanted to share the detail below):

 "Receiving Grace" by Elizabeth Heagy:

"Bubble Wrap" by Stephanie Ruyle, with incredible quilting by Christine Perrigo; this quilt won a Judges' Recognition award.

April 7, 2017

Back to the Moon

A few years ago, I started thinking about a photograph I took at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center as the basis for a quilt.

My original thought was to produce a pixel quilt from the photo, but as I played with pixellating the image in a photo editor, it became clear that this was not a good candidate for that type of quilt.  I put the idea aside for a while.

Then when Luke Haynes published a tutorial for one of his applique designs, a light bulb came on and I realized that would be a better approach for using my photo.

I used Photoshop to manipulate the image into a posterized pattern, and had it printed on large-format paper at an office supply shop.

The background is a traditional Storm at Sea design; I drafted my own blocks onto freezer paper and used a "paperless" paper piecing method.

We fought with wind and sun to get photos; this one is almost a reject, but the angle of the lighting does show the quilting well:

To quilt the curved flying geese, I marked the curve first on freezer paper (any large piece of paper would do):

Then I cut the paper along the curve, and positioned the two halves so as to mark the upper and lower boundaries for the flying geese:

I used Gale Garber's method to mark the geese within the curves, and Kathleen Riggins' method of quilting the geese.

The background is quilted with several organic type fills; the quilting on the rocket is inspired by details in the photo.

For the reflective part of the rocket, I used a few metallic fabrics:

The larger applique pieces were basted in place with washable glue; smaller details are either fused in place or created via reverse applique.

I used a couple of NASA licensed fabrics for the back.  The label, printed at Spoonflower, includes the original photo.

I tried to use a few sky- or space-related fabrics for the background; this is one of my favorite blocks:

The binding is a Lizzy House Constellations print which seems particularly appropriate:

The name of the quilt (and the photo), "Back to the Moon," comes from a Kate Campbell song.

I'm linking up with crazy mom quilts for Finish It Up Friday.