Tag Archives: challenges

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.


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.

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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

MQG Challenge Started

The challenge fabricsThe challenge is national, sponsored by the Modern Quilt Guild. These six fabric fat eights from the Pinwheel line of Michael Miller were handed out at the May meeting of the Portland Modern Quilt Guild with a due date at the end of June. I was disappointed that I didn’t make the due date since I really liked the fabrics. Imagine my surprise when I started seeing postings of progress after the due date! Then someone blogged about a date change. Now projects are due at  the end of July, and I might get it done in time.

It is another challenge with loose rules: Use any of these prints, add any solids, add only Michael Miller prints. The finished item has to be quilted.

In looking at the fabrics, the only thing I knew for sure was that I wanted to focus on one large flower from the upper left print. Since ideas were slow in appearing, I got out Barbara Brackman’s Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns and started browsing. When I found Lacy Lattice Work, not only did I think it would work with the fabric, I thought it had a modern look.

Block sketchBrackman has categorized and researched names for 4,000+ patchwork blocks that have been printed from the 1800s to the 1970s; it is a great source for ideas. The book is out of print, but the information is available electronically as Blockbase from EQ. This block is attributed to the Farm Journal, which published quilt patterns from 1877 to the “present” (Encyclopedia published 1995). Since Brackman doens’t indicate the dates of patterns we don’t know anything other than the possible range. Seems the really popular ones were published more than once and had more than one name, so this one may have been ahead of its time. That latter is all speculation on my part.

First layout sketch

Instead of simply enlarging a block so that a single block will make a quilt, I sometimes arrange blocks into the pattern of the block, so I sketched that out.

Since I didn’t want a square quilt I started to play with adding length and subtracting width till I came up with the second layout.

Second sketch

This one pleased me more. Not only did it give me the rectangular shape I wanted, it got some pleasing asymmetry and increased the negative space.

The next decision was which fabrics to use. I’d already decided on the large flower for the center. I could have used the orange or dark gray in small pieces, but the only small piece in the block was the center, and I wanted it to be the background color. That left three fabrics for four positions. That meant I couldn’t just place fabric and chain piece the lot of blocks. I didn’t even want to make the blocks and then tinker with their arrangement. Instead I cut the rectangles, placed them to appear random (my “random” is almost always very much arranged), sat back and looked at it a while, moved some a bit, and decided it was good.

Trial layout

So now to get out my Tri-Recs ruler and make the split rectangles out of dark and light teal, the dark closest to the patterned fabric. After I get the blocks sewn up, I’ll decide whether the background will be the lighter teal or a mixture, whether it will be all negative space or whether I’ll make a pattern block or two out of four shades of teal and place them here and there.

I have till July 25, but I’m heading out July 17, so as usual, my deadline is close.

Finished here.

Linking up to NewFO

Linking up to Design Wall Monday at Patchwork Times and WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced; and I just found Esther’s WOW:WIP.


Filed under design, quilting

Bridge Time

Another one of those “plenty of time” projects rears up to say, “No longer.” Back in July the Portlan- Bridges-Now challenge was announced, and soon after, the required fabric became available. Here is the fabric I selected from Violet Craft’s Waterfront Park line. I had sunset thoughts in mind when I made the selections. One idea abandoned.


My Selections

The challenge requires me to use half a yard from the line, recent instructions indicate of one of the fabrics. There is no size restriction for the quilt, but it will have to be large enough to handle a half yard of one of these. (I had interpreted it as allowing us to select from the whole line when I was shopping and doing initial planning.) And the quilt needs to be inspired by one of Portland’s bridges and be modern.

My first step was to observe and photograph my bridge of choice, the Hawthorne Bridge. (photos here); the second was to start sketching. When I put it away, I thought I had a sketch and a plan.

Working sketch #1

I had decided that the red weights and the arches were the distinguishing features of the bridge. I had no intention of attempting photographic realism. The red domino dot would go in the upper X for the weight and the red and salmon bubble print in the lower X for the reflection. The arch would be made with the aqua and black line print and the reflection with the aqua bubbles.

When I got the sketch out, I didn’t like its top anymore. (It was only the two Xs.)  I added the supports and the pulleys at the top and was only a little bit happier with it. The main problem was that I was slipping more toward realism than abstraction.

So I’m allowing myself a couple days to redesign, then I’ll get to cutting and stitching.

Did I mention that it is due April 1? I guess that clarifies my goal for March. Not always this easy. Set goals and check out other goal setting and accomplishing at Dezertsuz‘s blog.

Linking up with WIP Wednesday and later in the week Off the Wall Friday (button in sidebar)


Filed under design, quilting