I was so lucky to take one of Denyse Schmidt’s modern quilting workshops here at PNCA (for the third time – hi Rachel!) this summer with PMQG friends Paula, Rachel and Amy. Each of her classes is different… the first one pushed us to experiment with random-draw improvisational piecing, the second one was about developing intentional pattern through happy accidents in improv, and this third one, Traditional Improvisation Quilting, invited us to explore making a traditional pattern our own through our creativity and choices in color, design, cutting, piecing, and arrangement.
photo by Paula
Denyse came to Modern Domestic Friday evening for a lovely book signing and trunk show of four of her quilts from Modern Quilts Traditional Inspiration, which a bunch of us made it over to. I got quick snapshots of each of her quilts with their pages.
Speaking of her book (more on this later, too)… it is beautiful. Denyse offers twenty historical quilt designs, each reinterpreted through her lens, and shares their stories.
It was very cool to see these four quilts in person!
Our class started on Saturday morning with a quick round of template-making and then learning to piece the beautiful windmill shapes of the Shoeman’s Puzzle block pattern in our chosen solid fabrics. This was my favorite quilt in her book so I was very happy to be working on it!
After we made our blocks, we experimented by ditching the templates and cutting the basic angular lines freehand. Once we had four blocks made, up they went on the design wall. It was very cool to see how two fabrics that seemed so similar (a lot of us were worried our picks were too close to provide much contrast) could work together so well in the design.
Denyse encouraged us to keep going with sketches and piecing to make the pattern our own. Some people went in totally new directions, which was very cool to watch. I tried some other improvisational piecing and angles, but ultimately I loved the simplicity of the Shoeman’s Puzzle and wanted my “new” design to to stay close to its charm. So I kept working with color – trading one of my greens with Rachel was a nice element – and line by cutting freehand, or mixing layers or tones within a block. This is what I had at the end of the first day.
For the second day, we continued working in our chosen block style, with guidance from Denyse, and kept adding to the design walls. We took over nearly all of the walls in the Stagecraft building room (where we usually meet, which was cool!) and everywhere you looked was filled with color. We concluded with a review of everyone’s designs, going around the room one by one.
photo by Paula
Amy worked with chocolate browns to create her series of blocks for a quilt she wants to finish for her Mt. Hood cabin… backing it with wool. Her description was so evocative and really brought the design to life.
photo by Paula
Paula mixed her soft, subtle cream solids with bold prints for a stunning balance and combination. During the review, Denyse added some tiny, impactful lines of navy blue and suddenly Paula’s work was sharpened to lovely effect.
photo by Rachel
Rachel created a vibrant kites shape she said she’s long been drawn to in her work, and continued to build her overall design with curves and angles. I loved how she mixed our two traded greens for a fluid effect.
My second-day blocks mixed in a few new elements, like Marimekko Appelsiini, Lizzy House’s Castle Peeps, and a darker green shot cotton. I also let go of the strict two-fabrics-per-block oppositional patterns and tried to keep my blocks less controlled. (Of course, I have some trial and error blocks made with piecing I didn’t love, or colors that didn’t end up playing as nicely together, that are going to be great for the back!)
photo by Rachel
Denyse is a wonderful teacher and her talent for encouraging and inspiring students, while sharing technique really gives her classes depth. The joy of sewing for a whole weekend, finding your own path, and seeing others’ work is a gift. Her book is just as charming – its fresh, beautiful take on the most venerable quilt patterns of the last two centuries is very inspiring!
We had such a great time in Seattle! It was so wonderful to meet so many awesome people from SMQG and VMQG and shop for fabric, sew charity quilt blocks, go out for fancy dinner and drinks, and swap international patchwork pouches. You can see tons more photos here (and please add your own!) but here are my 25 favorites from the ones I took:
I’m still catching my breath after a beautiful three-day marathon of buttons, fabric, ferries, Modern Crosses, tote bags, name tags, and hugs, but thank you to all who joined up with us and hope to see you all again next summer! For everyone in Portland, see you Thursday for our PMQG meeting – we have some fun things planned…
I’m so excited for the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show this year! I’m leaving for the show tomorrow, heading out with three friends from PMQG, while my family holds down the fort in Portland. Can’t believe it’s this weekend!! Twenty quilts, each by a different guild member, will be in our PMQG special exhibit. So awesome, I can’t wait to see them all in person…
I’m so happy and thankful that my Oceanside quilt will be part of our show. It feels like so long ago that I took this photo and got the idea (three years last month!) and then piecing it together with Cotton Couture solids was really challenging and fun – so different than any other quilt I’ve ever made. It’s traveled a long way… from the first little tiny baby idea stage at the beach, to its birth in Portland, and on to the other side of Oregon for our show in the high desert.
I think my favorite quilt of all 20 has to be our collective Improv quilt from our Michael Miller challenge. Fifteen PMQG members each made one block, but one is an extra-extra collective effort. When most of our board (Heather, Nancy, Petra and I) met to organize all the blocks into three quilt tops (Improv, Linear, and Graphic), we realized that we had 47 blocks instead of the 48 we thought.
The other two tops (Linear and Graphic) felt right at 16 apiece. So the four of us improvisationally (and quickly!) pieced one last block to tie things together for Improv. Michelle gave such a great presentation on improvisational piecing in March, after the exercise she led at the all-day sew where we each built blocks in turns, and it was very inspiring – and fun to do!
See you in Sisters (we are hosting meet-ups in our exhibit space at noon and 4:00 on Saturday if you’re there)… or at our PMQG meeting next Thursday. Hopefully we will hang onto this sunshine and see everyone at Laurelhurst Park!
I’m very excited to review Elizabeth Hartman‘s gorgeous new book Modern Patchwork today, and we’re so looking forward to Elizabeth sharing some of her quilts in a special presentation at tomorrow night’s PMQG meeting!
Modern Patchwork includes a dozen new quilt designs to take you beyond the basics – territory beautifully covered in her first book, The Practical Guide to Patchwork. Along with full, detailed instructions for creating each quilt, she shares many extra tips and ideas in the back of the book (more on that in a minute).
I wanted to spotlight two of my favorite quilts from the collection. Looptastic is a stylish and striking design of concentric circles, created through a surprisingly simple, straightforward sew-and-turn applique method. I love the aqua and citrus colors Elizabeth used in this quilt – inviting and full of life.
But if you have another vision in mind, she offers a lovely alternative: two other totally different color and style options, each created as a mini one-block quilt. Each quilt in the book gets this wonderfully open-ended treatment!
I also love Xylophone, a lively, colorful, angular design that sweeps across a neutral background. It reminds me of her Chopped Vegetables pillow patterns, another instant favorite.
And of course she has some interesting alternate takes on this one to share as well!
After the quilt patterns, Elizabeth offers a thorough guide to constructing a quilt, from choosing fabrics and piecing to quilting and binding. Along the way she shares tips for making a design wall,
keeping your work organized,
and some of her signature patterns for free-motion machine quilting. (If you’re interested in free-motion, I highly recommend her class at Modern Domestic, or if you’re not local, checking out her posts on the topic over at her blog).
We are so thrilled that Elizabeth will present at tomorrow evening’s PMQG meeting (7 pm in room S1 in the Stagecraft Building, across the street from the main PNCA building). She’ll be giving away copies of the book*, fabric, and templates** to lucky winners, so make sure to put your name in the bucket. And check out her blog, Oh Fransson, for a July 1 announcement of a new Modern Patchwork quilt-along!
*Thank you to Stash for sending a review copy of the book, plus the ones to give away at our meeting!
**Speaking of templates, our own Jill Collins of PMQG offers templates from many of the Modern Patchwork quilts (including Looptastic, Honey, Fire Drill, Happy Hour and Owl Eyes) in her Tabslot Etsy shop!
I’m so happy to be part of Katie and Jacquie‘s blog party weekend of posts celebrating their stellar new book, Quilting Modern! Katie is president of the SMQG and Jacquie is past president of the KCMQG, a current member of the CMQG, and on the national board too. These two know their modern improvisational quilting, and they generously share so many beautiful ideas, packed into one gorgeous book!
I love improvisational patchwork (and was very lucky to take Denyse Schmidt’s classes at PNCA), and Katie and Jacquie’s thoughtful designs, techniques, tips, and details are wonderfully illuminating. They cover many facets of modern quilting, like improvisationally piecing curves, creating sharp, perfect triangle designs, and one of my favorites, the log cabin makeover – they offer seven core techniques in all, each with three projects to sew. The table of contents gives a nice peek at the diversity of approaches and techniques (and I love the names they chose for their quilts!).
I’m sure many of the other bloggers will cover the 16 beautiful quilt designs in the book – but for my review I wanted to spotlight the striking smaller projects Katie and Jacquie designed for the home. With two little ones and not much free sewing time lately, a beautiful pillow or table runner is more my realistic speed, and these projects are also very scrap- and stash-friendly… a nice bonus! When I first got my copy and read right through it, I was immediately drawn to the Winging It Pillow, which builds a simple, stunning design around a focus-fabric scrap. The mix of erratic-height vertical piecing, bright, strong colors, and ultra-streamlined background is so appealing. This one is at the top of my to-sew list (and I love Katie’s invisible zipper technique, which is also included in the book).
The Southwestern Pillows are similarly striking. I especially love the Tumbleweed (the center asterisk-like design) – it’s such a fresh take on my favorite design style, mid-century modern. I’m picturing how fantastic a quilt made up of all Tumbleweed blocks could be… hmm, maybe when Pearl starts kindergarten…
My favorite of the three is the Sardinia Table Runner, a calm, serene, and gorgeous design with neatly curved “pods” (that Jacquie’s husband thought looked like sardines, so that’s where the name came from). This is another one I could see as a larger quilt. Angela Walters did a great deal of the quilting in the book, but Katie and Jacquie quilted these three projects. I loved the simplicity of these neatly alternating-angle diagonal lines over the curves and solids – a beautiful texture.
I will bring a copy of Quilting Modern for everyone to check out at our PMQG All-Day Sew tomorrow afternoon (at Fabric Depot from 9-9, though the book and I won’t be there til around 1:30), and I’m so thrilled that we’ll also be giving a copy away at the June 21 PMQG meeting. Thank you to Katie and Jacquie for including me in their book party, and to Interweave for sending two copies of the book for me to review and offer up at PMQG!
Be sure to visit the other bloggers reviewing (and giving away!) the book, too at the Quilting Modern blog celebration weekend:
A Stitch in Dye – Malka Dubrawsky
Fat Quarterly blog – Tacha Bruecher
Film in the Fridge – Ashley Newcomb
Generation Q – Jake Finch
Handmade by Alissa – Alissa Haight Carlton
Happy Zombie – Monica Solorio-Snow
iheartlinen – Rashida Coleman-Hale
Oh Fransson – Elizabeth Hartman
One Shabby Chick – Amber Carrillo
Pink Chalk Studio – Kathy Mack
Quilting is my Therapy – Angela Waters
Red Pepper Quilts – Rita Hodge
Sew Take a Hike – Penny Layman
West Coast Crafty – Susan Beal
Whip Up – Kathreen Ricketson
Wise Craft – Blair Stocker
This spring has kind of brought a bit of everything at once – rainy, then sunny, then rainy again… crazy busy, then blissed out on vacation, then back to the laptop… sewing, cooking, gardening, a long-awaited new fence, birthdays, and bagels! I have a lot of catching up to do, so I wanted to share some of my May favorites (so far).
The first Friday of the month, I took an amazing class from my friend Heather and learned how to make homemade bagels – such a great morning. I wasn’t sure I could duplicate her magic and skill at home, but sure enough, my first two dozen bagels (half sesame, half plain) following her recipe and tips turned out pretty perfect. I’m in love. Thank you, Heather!!
Then, my sweet Pearl turned four (!) so I just had to drop everything else and make her a birthday skirt. I fell in love with an apron at a vintage store in Silverton last month, and cut it up to make the cutest little skirt for her. She’s a big girl now who won’t wear anything except exactly what she wants to, so I kind of held my breath while she opened the new tote bag I sewed her to see what was inside…
but she loved it and put it right on for her birthday party and beyond. Happiness! I also got to make my favorite cupcakes (with purple frosting, by request) and a “triple berry cake” (aka blueberry boy bait + raspberries + marionberries). The girl loves her sweets, and you only turn four once.
I forgot to get a first-day shot of planting my garden this spring, but this is about three or four weeks in (I started later than usual, after an epically rainy March). Everything is loving it so far – from left to right, it’s spinach, mustard greens, dinosaur kale, white russian kale, and chard. I have beets and leeks in a smaller bed and I’m hoping to put in my tomatoes soon too, then summer squash a little later on. Tucked behind all the greens, which you can’t really see, I finally took my herbs out of all their random-sized containers and dug them into a real garden bed. I also rescued my little blueberry bushes and pomegranate from the relentless grass invasion all that rain brought, and we have about two dozen tiny Bartlett pears nestled in on our tree! I’m pretty excited… almost five years into living in our house, I feel like my yard is finally becoming what I hoped for, after a lot of baby steps forward (most recently, a birthday sandbox and a new fence!). We have flowers, native plants, and succulents planted on one side of the house, and herbs, berries, and the vegetable garden on the other.
We went away with the kids for a very needed long weekend to Mt. Hood on Wednesday and stayed at the sweetest cabin. Such a beautiful place, right on a creek, with a hammock and a hot tub and green everywhere you looked.
Along with lots of easy 18-month-old-friendly hikes, splashing in the Columbia River, skipping stones in the creek, and getting an ice cream cone in Hood River, we headed up to Timberline Lodge for a grilled cheese (Pearl and Everett) and a glass of wine (me and Andrew) and spent half an hour gazing out the window at this view. The photo above is just a regular old iPhone snapshot, no editing or anything.
This second one is a Hipstamatic from the same spot. (I find it totally impossible to stop taking photos of Mt. Hood.) Bonus – I just learned from Merritt that those amazing cloud formations we were admiring, gracefully skirting the summit, are called lenticular!
I bought this dreamy little succulent dish garden with two teeny cairns and a few seashells mixed in at the Saturday Market in Hood River. So beautiful! I wish the vendor (Rose) had a card so I could credit her, but she said she was just getting started and this was her first event ever…
Midway through our idyllic getaway was a really awesome May PMQG meeting I drove back for. I am so excited that Nancy finished quilting my Oceanside quilt and I got to share it at show and tell! She did a really cool all-over quilting pattern of waves with three whales here and there – a small, medium, and big one. I love whales so much and this was just perfect.
If anyone is interested in the process, I’m hoping to write up a longer post about how I made Oceanside… and it will be at Sisters so I’m very excited about that!
Hopefully I’ll have a side-by-side photo of the quilt with the Oceanside sign that inspired it to share soon too…
It’s been a whirlwind month, but I wanted to post about a few things I got to do that I’m excited about…
I won a wonderful surprise gift certificate from collage (thank you!!) and picked out some amazing art supplies for the kids’ Easter baskets,
finally got the chance to bring my Oceanside quilt to life (it was inspired by a photo I took at the beach in 2009… and now it’s pieced, backed, and at Nancy’s for longarm quilting!),
It’s this Sunday, April 29, at 4:00. Shawn (author of the stellar Criminal Crafts) and I would love to see you there for making ransom notes and comics magnets, plus drinks, snacks, and mysterious surprises! Barbara of MBTB has kindly ordered copies of Modern Log Cabin Quilting and Button It Up, too, so if you ever wanted to get one of my books signed (while learning how to make invisible ink, courtesy of Shawn), here’s your chance!
If you go:
Criminal Crafts + World of Geekcraft Book Party
Sunday, April 29 at 4pm
Murder By The Book, 3210 SE Hawthorne Blvd. in Portland
Drinks, snacks, craft projects and book signing
I’m very excited to be reviewing Mend It Better, a wonderful new craft book by Kristin M. Roach (also author of the lovely blog/project/zine Craft Leftovers) today! Mend It Better offers a wide variety of useful techniques, from darning and patchwork to weaving and crochet, for reworking and salvaging garments and beyond.
As Diane noted in her recent review, Mend It Better is arranged like a textbook, with her suggested techniques neatly organized by chapter. There are tons of photos and tips for undertaking a new mending project, which is also a nice touch.
I am very happy to have contributed one* of the 22 mending projects to the book, and along with my contributor copy, Storey Publishing sent me an extra book to give away at our Portland Modern Quilt Guild meeting this week. I asked Kristin a few questions about mending, especially patchwork projects, and here are her thoughts…
Do you have any favorite decorative stitches for covering a seam or line in a mended patchwork project?
I know it’s so bland, but I really love the whip stitch or overcast stitch. Just going to town and completely covering it, kind of sloppy, in a bright color!
What’s your favorite mending or embellishment use for binding tape?
I love using it as straps, or sometimes a little accent in a seam, like small piping. So cute!
Have you ever mended a larger quilt or patchwork project? Any general tips for that?
I’ve done some light mending on a quilt I made – one of my first sewing projects – just some basic patchwork. I’m really excited to be embarking on a huge mending adventure this year: restoring a quilt my husband’s grandma made. She passed away a long time ago and it’s in tatters. He doesn’t remember her, so it’s his only connection to her. It’s going to be one of those “for the love of it” projects because mending it will probably take more time than completely making a new one!
Here are a few tips for mending quilts:
1. DO NOT wash it before you mend it. It will just make the damage worse.
2. Unlike darning where you want to stretch the fabric taut, if you stretch the quilt in a hoop before making the basic structural repair, it will actually cause the fabric to ripple when you take it off, or stretch the tear even further. You’ll want to mend it while it’s flat, then repair any quilting stitches in the hoop only after the structure is sound.
3. If you can, work on a large smooth surface with the quilt completely flat. The kitchen floor works great!
4. Sometimes you won’t be able to match the pattern exactly when patching, if that’s the case, think accent vs “sloppy”. One of my teachers used to always say “do it or don’t do it”. So if you can’t match, make it look intentional. Bold contrasting colors can be really fun!
- – - – - –
I think quilters, sewists, lovers of vintage, upcyclers, and wardrobe-refashioners will all love this book. This pieced-vintage-fabric skirt hem idea Kristin included is my favorite project… so adorable!
I’ll be giving away a copy of Mend It Better at our PMQG meeting at 7 pm this Thursday, April 19 at PNCA. We’ll be meeting in room S1 upstairs in the Stagecraft Building right across the street from the main PNCA building (where we’ve met the last two months as well). Hope to see you there!
*Here’s my little project! Thanks so much again, Kristin!
I had so much fun sewing my PMQG challenge block using all the lovely solids Michael Miller sent us! I have always wanted to try string quilting and this felt like the perfect chance to work on something new. Love all the colors together! I wanted to share how I made my block, so if you’re interested, you can read on for a simple tutorial.
We were so lucky to have Kathy Miller speak at our February meeting, and she brought Cotton Couture cards for each of us with swatches of all 80+ colors in their new solids line. (Fabric Depot is now carrying every single Cotton Couture color, if you are local!)
So Heather, Nancy, Petra, Ale and I met up and chose 8 colors we loved from the collection for a PMQG challenge, and Michael Miller generously sent us a bolt of each one. We had an all-evening cutting party at Nancy’s studio, and ended up with this beautiful box full of fat eighths to share with everyone at the March meeting…
I stitched up a little pennant of the eight challenge colors – Fog, Meadow, Clementine, Luna, Charcoal, Kryptonite, Tangerine, and Aqua.
So, the challenge details are all on the blog, and I was so excited to work with these colors, but the specific block size requirements (15.5″ x 18.5″) threw me a bit at first. I usually piece square blocks, and rarely anywhere near 18 inches across. But doing a little math, I realized that if I pieced five 8″ square blocks and cut one into 2″ x 8″ strips to sew on both the horizontal sides (using a 1/4″ seam allowance throughout), it would magically translate into the correct finished size!
I started by cutting five eight-inch fabric squares for foundation piecing, using an extra piece of Luna (the pale blue solid in the range), and then cut two varied-width strips from each of the 8 colors the length of the fat eighths (22″). I cut each strip randomly between 1 and 3 inches wide, without thinking about it too much. I made and photographed this block very quickly during one naptime, so I didn’t take step-by-step photos of my piecing – for the basics of string quilting, I’ll send you to this excellent film in the fridge tutorial. The differences with mine are that I pieced on fabric instead of paper (so don’t adjust the stitch length at all, you won’t be tearing the back away), and instead of using a glue stick, I just pinned my first diagonal strip in place and stitched the second one on to it, removing the pin afterward, and continuing the same way to fill the square. You’ll press and trim the same way as on paper, but you’ll have a nice sturdy fabric foundation layer underneath. I loved how much calmness the double layer gave a larger block – Cotton Couture is silky and wonderful to sew with, so it is not heavy or bulky at all.
After I made five 8-inch blocks, I stitched four together to form a big, colorful diamond pattern. Then I sliced the 5th block into four 8″ tall, 2″ wide strips, thinking they would be perfect for adding to the sides to yield that magical 15.5″ x 18.5″ dimension!
…but I figured out that while they are exactly right size-wise, to continue the diamond pattern, you need two strips with the diagonal going one way, and two with it going the opposite way. Whoops! So I stitched up one more 8″ x 4″ opposite-diagonal section with the scraps (the one on the left – I had just enough time and fabric left, yay) and cut that one into two strips to use instead. And ended up with this!
If you don’t want to try string piecing, maybe imagining four 8-inch blocks of any style, with an extra one sliced and diced for the sides, will help you plan something fun to build out to 15.5″ x 18.5″. I think that it would be fabulous to use log cabin, improvisational patchwork, paper piecing, or any other block style you’re into this way…
If you are a PMQG member and haven’t gotten your challenge fabric yet, you can pick it up from Nancy at her Just Quilting studio, Monday through Friday. Just give her a call first (503.234.0403). And if you’re working on your challenge block, please share photos in the PMQG flickr pool, we’d love to see them! You can bring your challenge blocks to our April meeting (Thursday the 19th at 7 pm, PNCA) or email us at portlandmodernquiltguild at gmail.com so we can collect them and take photos. Kathy Miller will choose 16 of our blocks to create a special Cotton Couture quilt for the Michael Miller booth at Spring Quilt Market! We’ll make a PMQG-collective quilt with the others plus any improv blocks using your scraps you’d like to bring in May, and hope to show it in Sisters.