Tag Archives: challenges

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

Riley Blake Challenge Finished

Finished quilt

45 x 45

The quilt is finished three days early. That may be a new record for me. Quilting decisions are discussed here. It took a while to decide on the binding; I am happy with the bright red I chose. It could be a baby quilt for a baby with modern taste or a wheel chair lap quilt.

And yes, the pillows are finished too.

pillowsThe cording is covered by a subdued orange–seemed more appropriate for home decor than the bright red.

I learned two things. Quilting took up 1/2 inch.  That was more than I expected on 14 inches. And 1/4 inch seam is a real pain when using the zipper foot for the cording.  Next pillow I make gets 1/2 inch final seam.

Six Riley Blake fat quartersThe Modern Quilt Guild sponsored the challenge. Portland Modern Quilt Guild, a local branch, distributed the six fabrics to members back in September. The rules were generous: use as many of the fabrics as desired; add any solid or any Riley Blake print.

PMQG plans to make charity quilts out of left overs–I don’t have many, but I will contribute the few I have.

I’m linking up with TGIFF, guest hosted this week, and Link a Finish Friday. I wonder how many other finishes are for this challenge–let’s check.


Filed under quilting, Uncategorized

Block in Context

In the past I have submitted many single blocks to go into charity projects. It isn’t every day that I get to see what happens to them, but today I did. In the past I showed blocks from one of those challenges (here and here). Today I got to see what Moira of The Quilted Snail did with them (here).

I hadn’t stopped to think that I was sending blocks for a whole top. Often various peoples’ blocks get combined into a sampler quilt. But the number was right, the fabrics coordinated by the challenge, and Moira had an eye for what they could be.

We’ll just pretend I planned it that way.


Filed under quilting

What says “modern”?

This year I am quilting along for two projects, and one finished block serves both.

Blue BOM

25 x 16

Rainbow scrap challenge (link here) involves using scraps from an assigned color for a block–either a quilt-along block or one’s own choice; January’s color is blue. I doubt I’ll ever keep up with three a week, but we’ll see. And Classic Meets Modern (link here) involves a modern take on a traditional block, this month (polar) bear paw. The latter BOM involves thinking about what makes a quilt or quilt block modern. Consider the blocks already shown at the above link–most of which follow the traditional arrangement for the Bear Paw block.

Here are the features I think of when I think modern quilt: enlarged pieces, modern fabric, color choices tending toward bright and clear, solid colors or modern prints–often large, but not always, lots of negative space, and asymmetry.  The first heading for this post was “The essence of modern”; however, a little reflection  showed me that no single one of the features was essential to calling a quilt “modern.” So I changed it. I suppose one might say at least one of the listed features was essential.  If you think of other features, please add them in a comment. Also I invite discussion if you think a listed feature does not belong.

As much as I love modern prints and solids, I can’t use that as a feature for my modern quilts.  I have too much old stash.  Back when I was working I purchased fabric (while I had money) as a retirement “fund” for when I had less income.  It never occurred to me that styles of prints would change so drastically. I can buy some new, but I also want to use the old. And enlarging pieces is something for a whole quilt rather than for a block. That left me with asymmetry and negative space. So I kept the bear paw portion of the block, omitted the center square, and rearranged the placement.

Sometimes I use a square to make a triangle piece, as at the bottom of the “paw.” (The “toes,” I made the regular way.) From the cut-away, I get bonus triangles, already paired up. This one is about the smallest I save and use (triangle legs are 1 1/2 inch unfinished–trimmed to 1 inch after sewn).

mini pinwheel

1 x 1 finished pinwheel size–4 1/2-inch bear’s paw for comparison

Some day I’ll find a use for the itty bitty blocks. Meanwhile, I’m linking up with other Friday finishers (Link a Finish Friday and TGIFF–links to right).


Filed under quilting

The Quilt I’ll Never Make

One of the challenges in Victoria Findlay Wolfe’s 15 Minutes of Play is to make the quilt you said you would never make. Well, I’m not promising. But for the record, here are the things I’ve said I’d never do–some that I went on to at least learn how to do.

Embellish: it seemed for a while that embellishment was added because it could be. I didn’t see improvement. Then it began to seem more strategically added. I learned how to add beads. I haven’t used the skill yet, but it isn’t because I can’t.

Applique: As a young quilter I’d tried and seams got bumpy and ugly. I finally attended a workshop, and now I can manage the smooth curves and deep points. If I ever want to, I now can.

Dyeing fabric. There are so many steps to a quilt already, I’m not interested in adding another.

Landscape: I’ve pretty much stayed away from representational designs, choosing instead blocks traditional or modern.

Designs that require paint or pen to finish. Granted, they can end up looking quite realistic and beautiful. But it isn’t a direction that calls me.

Let me say that “I’ll never do it” doesn’t translate into “I don’t like it.”  I can appreciate beauty in what others choose to invest their time in without choosing to spend my time that way.

So this record of “quilts I ‘won’t’ make” waits in case I decide to do the challenge.


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Two Guilds = Two Challenges

Challenges come in various shapes and sizes.  Some start with fabric combinations. One such is the Modern Quilt Guild’s Riley Blake challenge; it starts with six fat quarters of Riley Blake Basics.

Six Riley Blake fat quartersMy first thought was that the fabrics needed space between them (though I’ve since seen some great examples where they were used adjacently). My second thought was that the aqua chevron pieces needed to be large to showcase the print (though I’ve seen some cut small that look great). The rules are pretty open: add any solid; add any Riley Blake print; may omit any of the six fabrics; object must be quilted.

I decided on an  infant-size quilt (for the baby with modern taste) and got out the graph paper. I started with a large square for the aqua and added squares around it. Might be the first time I’ve liked a first draft of a design–oh I did enlarge the aqua square to make the other measurements come out better. I finished the top at a recent guild retreat.

RB quilt topI had cut the pieces at home before the retreat, so sewing it went fairly quickly; I was finished in a couple of hours. Now to think on quilting options.

It went together so quickly that I feared running out of projects at the 3-day retreat. So that night instead of counting sheep, I planned a pair of pillows with the left over fabric.

RB pillow topsI have been playing with slash-and-insert lately, and this fabric seemed fitting for such a project. Interestingly, these pillows took as long to assemble as the above quilt top. Even though it has happened before, I remain amazed at how much time improv takes. It takes longer than the more regular squares and rectangles that I can chain piece. Every slash is a new design decision. Every slash is as much a possibility of ruining what is there as enhancing it. I came very close to abandoning the two pillow idea and making just one because I liked the top at that point. But I went ahead with my plan and don’t dislike the pair. Also incubating quilting ideas.

Then there are challenges where chance makes some decisions. Such a challenge was offered by my other guild.  We drew a number which became a page number. We closed our eyes and drew a magazine (not a quilting magazine) from a big pile. The challenge is to use our page (the number drawn) as inspiration for a quilt: colors, designs, or words.  My magazine was a journal for horse breeders and racers. I have until spring, and the quilt is small.  I will have an idea by then.

ETA link to Sunday Stash.


Filed under design, quilting

Hawthorne Bridge Study

I spent a lovely afternoon at Tom McCall Waterfront Park along the Willamette River. Part of the time I was walking, some reading, and the rest I spent photographing the Hawthorne Bridge.

before parkBut first, this photo from the park plaque shows the expressway that was removed to create the park. It is good to know that sometimes nature and aesthetics triumph. The park is part of a greenway along the river.

The Hawthorne Bridge is near one end of the park, and my interest was spurred by a project to make a quilt based on one of Portland’s bridges. The project involves using a half yard of Violet Craft’s fabric line whose design was inspired by Waterfront Park–some pieces are shown on the project blog entry. The project originators want quilts to be somewhat equally distributed among the 7 or so bridges, so we each signed up for a bridge, and I selected the Hawthorne Bridge–partly because at the time the list was in my hands, Hawthorne Bridge had only two others signed up and partly because it is one I really like.

The project designers want us to look under/over/and beyond the bridge. So I stood under the entry road on the east side of the river for the first shot and kept walking for more views down under.
From under the entry to the bridgeIf I were doing something realistic, I’d work on capturing that skyline with the bridge blended into it.
Under the bridgeSometime, I foresee a quilt made from this view under the bridge itself–it fits my current minimalist instincts. However, I’m debating whether there needs to be something more recognizable for the present project. Also the fabric line lends itself to something less stark.

lift mechanismDistinctive features of this bridge are the four arches on the eastern approach, this center moveable portion, and one more arch to link to the western side. There are other bridges with multiple arches, and the Steel Bridge has what looks to me a similar lift, so it is the combination that is distinctive and the red color of the weights. It is good I have time to think on this one. I don’t immediately see how I can combine that view of the bridge with the fabrics or with modern design. And they have asked for a modern quilt.

detail of tower bottombridge tower top

I love these details. There is a lot of room to apply what I learned in Rosalie Dace’s class at Sisters about lines in design. I may just have to do a series.

No rush, though. Due date is sometime in the spring of 2014.


Filed under design, photography, quilting

Almost Missed a Deadline

I had meant to enter something in the Threadbias current challenge to use their Design Tool to create a quilt from Allison Harris’ Wallflower line for Windham fabrics. I had started back when the challenge was announced. Last night, Friday, they sent a blog reminder of the ending tomorrow, Sunday. It had slipped my mind with getting ready for Sisters.  Luckily I had some free time (yes I am almost all packed two days early) so I produced this:

Entry design

In the Fullness of Time

I don’t always select fabric from a designer’s line, but this one is sure tempting–I like the related variety and how they work together. The extra inner border to the right is there because I did my math wrong and had an extra inch. I was too far along to redo–just like real life quilting.

After entering, I browsed other entries and admired several. There is one that blows me away, and I would love to make it, all except for the spot where the points meet–Wallflower Reflection Quilt. I’d have to do some skill building first. Entries are visible from the “Wallflowers Quilt Design Contest” forum.

Some people have finished tangible quilts–check out the links to the right.


Filed under design, quilting

Architecture Top Completed

The top is finished, and I get to go shopping before I can quilt it because I don’t have either gold or green thread. May also need orange and brown.  I’m leaning toward matching colors in the quilting.

I told about the challenge and photo choice here.

The other side of the street

The other side of the street

I realized when I came home from the fabric store that my color choice had been affected by other directions on the street:

Looking other direction

Looking the other direction

I started by sketching out the idea that had formed while I was waiting for the bus, then refined it.  Remember my goal had been something minimalist–a direction I have been trying to work toward.

Five sketches Moving clockwise. Sketch 1 was the original idea, much better in the head than on paper. Way too busy. In sketch 2 I tried removing the trees, but the bottom was empty. Instead of inserting a tree, I thought to jokingly insert the trash can that I’d hardly seen originally, but was so prominent in the photo (the camera sees everything; the eye selects). Didn’t like that. In sketch 3 I tried returning the trees and removing some of the buildings. By sketches 5 and 6 I had only the order of color of the buildings in the variously arranged irregular oval shapes. That would probably require applique and I don’t yet have the skills needed for that. So I let it rest a while and came up with sketch 6 and the one I used.

Final sketchI include all the sketches because I don’t think the connection with the photo would show at all without the sequence. And here is the top.

quilt topWhen making “made fabric” for the top partial circle I thought I’d really like the prints that had green and browns. I don’t so much now; I really prefer the ones where the value remains closer among the pieces.

Quilt top upside down   I put it on the design wall upside down and temporarily liked it better, but then noticed it looked empty in the upper left.  I don’t think it looks empty in the lower right when it is  “right side up.”  If anyone with design knowledge could explain  that apparent difference, I’d like to know. (Or maybe it is just me who sees it that way.) I find it amusing that after straightening out the street to remove depth I reintroduced depth in the colors and size of the circles–one step away from historical modern I guess.

Started at the end of May, close enough to June to count for me. There are other starts as well, so I’m linking up with NewFOs; click to see others’ starts.



Filed under design, quilting