Tag Archives: challenges

Nursery Rhyme Challenge

Every year at quilt show time, my local quilt guild has a clever challenge.  I remember two from the past: One was to draw a number, then to pull a magazine and the number is the page in the magazine. Could use words or colors or concepts for a theme.  Another was to draw a building block and include the letter and the item pictured on the block and to use the bit of red shiny fabric that was given with the instructions.  Both sounded like fun, but I was so busy getting my main quilt entries finished that I didn’t get to them.

This year I not only had an idea but also had time.  This year Melanie had printed out over a hundred Mother Goose Rhymes (She came to guild in a Mother Goose costume with a goose puppet to introduce the challenge.) I drew Old King Cole. My thoughts moved from “He called for his pipe . . .” to “This is not a pipe.”

King Cole Meets Magritte

King Cole Meets Magritte,  24 x 24

The quilt block in the background is one of 6-8 named “King’s Crown” in Barbara Brackman’s Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Blocks, the easiest one. The brown and black applique are made with felt (felt made from recycled plastic) and machine stitched to the quilt after the background was quilted. The words are hand embroidered with perl cotton. Instead of binding the quilt, I finished it envelope style.

My “artist’s” statement: Old King Cole replaced the crown on his head with his “Kng’s Crown” quilt block in his pocket (much lighter and easier to go incognito).  At the art museum he headed for the paintings where he gazed at Magritte’s work and pondered reality.

I was glad to learn that I didn’t have to keep it secret; I have barely managed to resist posting teasers.



Filed under quilting

City Squares Finished

A guild quilt show coming up does help UFOs become finished pieces! This one has been in ‘to be quilted’ limbo for quite a while. One reason was that I couldn’t decide how to quilt it. Usually I have a focus to emphasize or some lines that get me started, but there was nothing like that on this one. As the deadline drew near I went with my default, meandering.

I did consider an angled meander instead of curves. I always ponder whether to echo or contrast. I thought curves contrasting to the straight lines of the piecing and print would work. And it is the easier of the two, for me. Sorry, no quilt holder available; maybe a better photo at the show.

City Squares finished

~50 x 70

I haven’t actually measured the finished piece yet; 50 X 70 is the target size.

This quilt was also inspired by Sherri Lynn Wood’s Improv Handbook for Modern quilters; it is Score #1, Floating Squares. Sherri makes two suggestions for edges: cut them straight (as I did for Mint Swirl in the previous post) and follow the curves that form naturally. I tried the latter on this quilt. To deal with the curves I made bias binding. It worked pretty well.  I had most problem with the down curves.

city squares--unsmooth curve binding

This is the worst curve, and I’m hoping it doesn’t show much after being washed. Possibly a single layer binding would have helped (I always make double layer). But  a gentler curve would have helped more. Next time I won’t be so stingy about losing fabric as I create the edge.  I did feel that I had to do the binding the traditional way, machine stitching on to the front and hand sewing the back. I’d not factored that into my time allowance, so cancelled another outing in order to work on it.

The finished quilt doesn’t look much like the picture in my head.  I knew this when I had it laid out and was assembling it, but didn’t know what to do about it. It came to me while quilting. The background needed to have been closer to the background color of the print fabric; then the line between the print and the piecing wouldn’t have been so sharp and the two would have blended better. Also instead of the three areas of color I had planned with most of the red in the middle, maybe I should have used pieces to actually extend the partial city groupings in the print wherever they occurred. The quilt is okay this way, just not the look  I had aimed for.

So my three pieces for the show are finished, but I still have hanging sleeves and labels to go.  I’ll have no trouble meeting a new challenge. Annie’s Ruby Slipperz has a challenge to sew 30 minutes every day, 6 out of 7 for the month of May. (It is early May, you can join in. Information here and here.) At the end she will do a drawing from those comments on the appropriate posts of hers–once a week, I think. Commenting is more important than actually sewing every day for the drawing. This challenge might keep me sewing after these three are labeled and delivered.  Often after a push to deadlines, I take a break. This time I’ll try not to.

ETA photo of the quilt hanging (to improve upon the sofa shot above)

NW2 city squares hanging

Quilt history in reverse order:

Finished top (way back in July)

Assembling the top

Early assembly and arranging and rearranging

Starting the arrangement

An abandoned plan

Skyline, the quilt that made the scraps

I still have a long, narrow piece of the Utopia fabric. And a couple ideas.



Filed under design, quilting, Uncategorized

Mint Swirl, Bound and Entered

Most everyone voted for a red binding earlier; I agreed. So red it is. Riley Blake confetti cotton red. Luckily I’d bought a couple reds and a darker teal when I was RB shopping.

Since today is the final day for submitting to the Modern Quilt Guild’s Riley Blake challenge (#mqgfabricchallenge), it is a good thing the weather, my quilt holder’s schedule, and my schedule cooperated for the photo. (The binding has been stitched for about a week.) I lost a little width and length because the sides were more irregular than I’d realized when measuring earlier. After trimming to the smallest on each side, I ended with a quilt 49 x 68. Close enough to the 50 x 70 goal.

Mint Swirl bound

49 x 68

Does it look like the quilt is defying gravity?  I was in such a hurry to catch the sunlight just right that I neglected to have the top on top, so yes, the photo is rotated.

Back story begins here 

Just in case you don’t read back to the beginning, I’ll repeat my design source.  I was following Sherri Lynn Wood’s Score #9, Get Your Curve On from her Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters.


Filed under quilting

Riley Blake Piece Almost Finished

About ten days ago I was arranging pieces (here); now it is quilted.

I was about to quickly sew one seam to make the back. Luckily I had the smarts to lay it out before stitching (I had cut the yardage in half, though).  Oops. I’d needed 3 yards, but purchased only 2, operating from memory, not measurements and math. Must have been memory of a smaller quilt. Since the quilt needed to be made of Riley Blake fabrics for the challenge, I got out the print pieces left over and found enough to add. (There went all hope of eking out enough of the background for binding.) So I ended up with this.

RB back

Someday I’ll hire a full time quilt holder and take straight photos, meanwhile the sofa will have to do.  The mood of the back is quite different from the front. The main fabric was purchased with more red planned for the front and sharper divisions between pieces.

All along I had oriented the top this way.

RB quilting started

When I finally got it quilted, I reversed it.

RB quilted

And I like it better this way. Not sure why. Maybe the two aqua rows were too top heavy the first way.

The quilting is fairly simple: lines following the long curve made with the walking foot; the red curves free motion quilted–some zigzags to flatten the lightest red wedges, an X in the triangle print, and nothing on the red with white dots. All the rest a moderate size meander.

I gave brief thought to doing fancier quilting, different in each wedge.  However, because I’d preferred the blended look to a graphic look, it seemed unifying the pieces was a better choice this time.

I still have plenty of time to bind it by April 30. (And the Threads of Resistance piece is quilted too, but that is another post.)

ETA: Linked with Freemotion by the River and AHIQ


Filed under design, quilting

More Progress on the Riley Blake Piece

I had barely stopped typing the previous post until I started arranging the curves.

Here is the first attempt.

RB first try

It looked hodge-podgey, especially the larger wedges. And I did give some thought to the placement of the darker red–sewing was too challenging. To sew more wedges or rearrange? Rearranging won, and after some tweaking, a second try–pretty close to the final version.

RB second try

More continuity here, but still some awkward spots where the larger wedges just end.  And finally the top, half sewn

RB top half finished

I solved the awkward ends by continuing the wedges with print instead of background, top left and bottom right in this view (which is the quilt on its side).

In the future I think I’d save large wedges for a larger quilt, and I’d make twice as many wedges as I’d think I wanted. It is easier to pull out extras and use them somewhere else than to shift from arranging back to sewing. Even though I’d not attached all of them, the chunks I’d sewn needed some pieces ripped off and other chunks were in need of pieces being added. No way to tell in advance.

I spent some time pondering the order to sew.  I located long, doable curves without Y-seams. Then started assembling the smaller pieces into units that made up the curves.  SLW suggests appliquéing the larger curves, but I prefer piecing. So far none of the curves has been too hard to piece. I had more trouble with the smaller, sharper curves.

I had planned to bind with the background fabric; however, I don’t think I’ll have enough large pieces–maybe not even enough small pieces to add up to 250 inches. I have a darker teal and a couple reds in the Riley Blake confetti cottons, the required solids. I can think about the choice while finishing the piecing and while quilting. You can make suggestions if you like. Whether I use suggestions or not, I always enjoy exploring options.

Linking with Needle and Thread Thursday and Finished or Not Friday (buttons in sidebar).


Filed under design, quilting

Riley Blake Challenge Fabric

Tonight at the Portland Modern Quilt Guild meeting, the Riley Blake challenge fabrics were handed out. Here are mine.


Each piece is a fat eighth; of course I am allowed to buy more from the Creative Rockstar collection. I can also combine the prints with Riley Blake confetti cotton solids. The only other rule is to make something quilted. And finished. I usually aim for a child sized quilt. I have until April 30th. That should be enough time to get an idea, shop for fabric,  and make a project.

The words on the bottom fabric are subtle. So far I’ve seen “eat,” “sleep,” and “creativity.” I’ll look more closely later. Maybe the words will give me a design idea. This “show” is online, with quilt photographs entered and judged. The projects never become a physical show.

Guild has another challenge going as well,  quilts that speak.  Every month someone will present a different technique for making letters.  In preparation, the presentation tonight was about quilts with words.  The first part was history of friendship and charity quilts with embroidered signatures, of alphabet quilts–embroidered, pieced and appliqued,  of signatures and mottoes.  The second part was about tips for legible messages and for design decisions from bold to subtle. The goal is that members finish a bunch of quilts with messages, from serious to funny, to be included in our corner of the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show in 2018. Although the Sisters show is not a juried show, our guild juries our entries.

My thinking cap is on for both those projects. And for the Threads of Resistance call for entries. That one has to be finished and photographed by May 1. It is a juried show that has several venues planned.

Getting three ideas in that amount of time is not so difficult; finishing the projects may be another story.

I guess getting fabric is moving forward, even if barely. So linking up. Button in sidebar.


Filed under quilting

2014 In Review

Whee! I just learned to make a collage–how fun! Thanks Susan. So, the year in review. I was most interested in showing the variety. I really do love it all. There are more art quilts than usual because of my taking the MasterClass with Elizabeth Barton. I finished only six of the assigned 11. Monthly projects consumed quite a bit of time. Five pieces are challenge pieces–you hear about them, you are interested, there is a deadline, you set other things aside–always fun. And it does push to the finish. Three are group projects: a round robin and two made from blocks made by others. One is from a tutorial. And only one is my own idea from start to finish, and even on it, the finish was done by a professional longarm quilter–queen size is too big for my DMS to handle. I don’t make a lot of goals, but one is to make more quilts that are my own idea from start to finish.

Made with PhotoCollage.net

For some reason two didn’t make it to the collage. They showed up on the “canvas”; the count said “17,” but only 15 showed. Here they are: one for the class and one assembled from blocks made by others.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

And here are the doll quilts (I forgot to choose a background, so got the default black). All but three started with blocks made by others. The collage program crops photos in odd ways–I haven’t figured out if I have any control over that yet.
Made with PhotoCollage.net

I have been so conscious of what did not get finished (about the same number of items as are shown here), that it is quite a surprise to see how much is finished. I don’t set goals in terms of specific quilts to start/finish, but more general ones. Like, now that I have begun FMQ, I had wanted to quilt all those tops in waiting. And the pile is still there because I got distracted by the class and challenges. And the blocks I started in quiltalongs need to become quilts. Do I want to make a goal not to be distracted?  Kinda sorta. But also kinda not, because I learn something from the challenges and quiltalongs, and they are fun. It helps that quilting is my hobby and not my career.

My balancing act goal: to finish as much as I can while being as flexible as possible.

Thank you for visiting, and come back to see what choices I make in 2015.

Linking up with Finish it up Friday .


Filed under quilting

Portland Bridges Now

A while back a challenge was issued to base a modern quilt on one of Portland’s bridges (I chose the Hawthorne Bridge) and to use 1/2 yard of Violet Craft’s Waterfront Park line for Michael Miller fabrics. I’ve been biding my time to show the quilt till the big reveal had passed. (Past posts: bridge photos here and fabric here.)

I chose to make a functional quilt and chose throw size, so I wanted the quilt to stand alone. I thought about modern criteria and went for minimalist, asymmetrical, and lots of negative space. Of course I wanted something to reference the bridge. I stripped it down to one essential feature, the red weights that raise and lower it, and I added Xs to suggest structure.

Presenting “Weighty Reflections”:

finished quilt

Weighty Reflections, approximately 40 x 60

In the interim, I made another quilt derived from the Hawthorne Bridge photos. It doesn’t look like the bridge at all, and it seems to me that viewers need not know the bridge to understand the quilt.

How important is a quilt’s history?  Here, of course, it is relevant because I am talking design process as well as finished product. And for the exhibition, Portland Bridges Now, it matters to link it to the Hawthorne Bridge. However, once that is over, do I need to mention the Hawthorne Bridge when showing the quilt? When do you think telling the inspiration is necessary? And when does it become redundant?

Linking up with Finish it up Friday , LAFF, and Off the Wall Friday


Filed under design, quilting

MQG Challenge Finished

Finished quilt

Here is the rearranged layout. (Starting sketch here and first actual layout here I do occasionally finish a project quickly). The blocks are actually set straight. I have made blocks to fade into the background before and float, but this is the first time that the “floating” part was almost square and looks like they were set on point. So I reoriented the flower square to the angle of apparent blocks instead of the real blocks, and it felt more unified.

One change demands another, so I started shifting the blocks till I got this arrangement.

I learned some limits to the walking foot.  I didn’t want to do all those starts and stops in the zig zag in the upper right and lower left triangles, so I tried using the walking foot forward and reverse. While it keeps layers smooth going forward, it allows them to bunch when going in reverse. I think the puckers will “disappear” when the quilt is washed and gets more crinkly, so I didn’t rip anything out nor change my plan. The zig zag worked up to about 6 inches; then the same stabilizing techniques that I had used no longer worked as it got longer. I guess I’ll have to perfect my FMQ straight lines in both directions.

Also this is the first time I tried sectioning off areas and then quilting between lines without adhesive; that too produced a few puckers even though I’d pressed the batting and pinned more carefully than usual. When I have had no puckers I have started in the middle and worked out to the edges. I don’t like to use adhesive, but I do like sectioned designs. Does anyone have other solutions?

The quilt measures 40 x 54 and is close to the maximum I can quilt on my Featherweight.

A note to my followers: I am heading out tomorrow for “Rockies by Rail” in Canada and not taking my computer. There will be photos, but not till I get home.


Filed under design, quilting

MQG Challenge Progress: Piecing That Odd Center

The blocks are finished–now I can get a better idea than when I had only a sketch and a few rectangles on the design wall. The block is a traditional block, Brackman #2583, Lacy Latticework.Layout--first trial

I’m not sure I like the flower placed as I’d originally planned. While I think about that, let me tell you about the challenge of that simple-looking block. (If in doubt about what to do next on a quilt, blog about it.) Because I’d used the technique for block borders, as in this round robin addition, I’d expected it to be a breeze, and it was, almost.

Here is a mini-tutorial on the block, with emphasis on piecing those overhanging pieces around a one-inch square (The construction is called partial seams (though only one seam is partial). I don’t know if the border has a name, does anyone?)

The pieces to cut for each 7 1/2-inch block (7 inches finished):

1 square 1 1/2-inch (preferably matching four of the triangles)

4 rectangles 1 1/2 x 4 1/2

8 triangles , 4 of each color, to make rectangles 2 1/2 x 4 1/2.  These I cut using the Rec Tool of the Tri-Recs ruler set, cutting from two 4 1/2 strips. It was good I’d reread the directions as one layers the two fabrics both with right side up.

First assemble the split rectangles, then attach them to the cut rectangles. Because I am geometrically challenged, I have either a finished block or a drawing of the block at my side while assembling these so that I get the color that forms the tilted square sewn to the correct side! The pin marks the upper right orientation for the block in the finished quilt–only needed if arranging prints precisely.

Now you are ready to wrap around the center square. Lay out the pieces. This block will be worked counter clockwise, so I have numbered the components accordingly.

components numbered

placement of squareFirst partially attach #1 to the 1 1/2-inch square, note the position of the piece in relation to the wide end of the matching fabric. Stitch from the edge where the pieces match to about 3/8 inch from the edge in the middle. The loose flap will be needed later. This is where the small piece makes the construction more tricky than when bordering a larger block. If you don’t leave enough flap, you won’t have room to make a 1/4-inch seam later. If you leave too much, you will end up with a gap in the final seam.

partial seam and loop

I felt the need to knot the sewing thread here, though usually I would consider stitching over it later enough to hold it.  Here the seam is short and there will be fiddling with it (and the first one I made ripped out while I was fiddling). I am not one who normally adds extra steps. 🙂 Have you knotted the old fashioned way by pulling up the back loop with the top thread, then pulling it through and tying an overhand knot? Imagine when that was the only way to knot before reverse stitching was possible. Cheers for reverse stitch, but here the accuracy of placement makes it worth doing it the old way. IMPORTANT: Press toward the rectangle, not the square.

adding 1 to 2

Now it is smooth sailing for two seams as you Adding 3

attach the #2 unit to the #1 unit, then the #3 to the #1-2. I continued to press toward the rectangle, though it is not so crucial here. Sewing unit#4 is what you saved the flap for.

Adding #4

Fold the excess of #1 out of the way so you can line up units #3 and #4 and make a 1/4-inch seam. If your pieces are not perfectly lining up, as mine do not, let the excess hang off the edge; keep the center seam even. It will make the next attachment easier. Start the seam from the center. Now all that is left is to complete that first seam sewing #1 to #4.

Seaming 1 to 4

The pin with the white head marks the end of that first partial seam. (The one with the red head is my way to remember which quadrant goes in the upper right of the block.) This is the spot where the size of the center square makes a bit of difficulty.

Needle placement

Place the needle on the previously made partial seam as far back as you can while keeping it all flat. I leave the pin at the edge of the partial seam till I get the machine needle placed, then remove it. As in this photo, so in life–you can’t always see the stitches. So far the most I’ve been able to sew over is the last three stitches of the initial partial seam. I usually knot a thread by hand if I can’t overlap at least five stitches.

Finished block

Press, and trim if you need to (as I will here) and your block is complete.

Chain piecing is possible if you are not keeping track of placement of various print rectangles as I was here. It works for all but the partial seam  attaching #1 to the small square and the completion of the partial seam as you stitch #1 to #4.

ETA measurements for a 10 1/2-inch (finished) block (which would make the center square at 1 1/2 inches finished a bit easier). ETA corrected math. I added several times and got the same answer–making the same mistake. 10 1/2 is correct.

Per block, cut

1 square 2 x 2

4 rectangles 2 x 6 1/2

8 triangles (largest possible from Tri Recs ruler) from two different 6 1/2-inch strips, both cut right side up.

If you don’t want to get the ruler, you can make a template. Angles are 30 degrees, 60 degrees, and 90 degrees.

3/3/15 Another traditional block in a non-traditional setting. My one and only tutorial. Linking to Tuesday Archives. Such fun to revisit old posts.


Filed under quilting, tutorial