UFO Makeover Challenge: Pat Pease and I traded stalled quilts. Coincidentally, both were constructed through all three layers (top, batting, fabric back). With complete freedom to do anything- anything at all•- the quilts are almost transformed (finished).
• We’ve heard from readers, fans and followers that these kinds of challenges are difficult because it’s hard to let go of one’s own quilt. Some people think Pat and I trust each other so it’s not a big deal, but we think it’s more about an understanding of the design process. Sometimes ideas work out- sometimes they don’t. Makes no difference to us whether we’re collaborating or working on something from start to finish-what’s the worst that can happen? The idea doesn’t work out. Or in our case, we’ll have to scramble for the deadlines we need to meet, but that’s another story.
Pat says that when she started cutting up the quilt, and moving pieces around, one piece fell to the floor. “Aha!” she thought when she saw the back. One thing led to another, and now there are fish and bubbles and who knows what else? See it at the Pacific International Quilt Festival in Santa Clara, California, October 14-17, to find out!
I (Wendy), remembered seeing a simple black & white line sketch of happy hearts. I wanted to reconnect this quilt with the feeling I had when I saw the sketch. I cut it up into 9 pieces (about 13″ square each), keeping 6 in a 3 across, 2 down layout. Now look- it’s in a 2 by 2 layout!
Blood clots have halted my progress, but the answer is yes, the other two blocks will get transformed too! Somehow the blocks will get put back together, possibly with a new fabric back and satin stitched outer edge, but these are decisions yet to be firmed up. See for yourself at the Pacific International Quilt Festival in Santa Clara, California, October 14-17, to find out!
By happy accident, Pat discovered she had a choice between using the front, or the back, or some combination. When we are stalled on a surface design, sometimes we keep spinning our wheels trying desperately to save the composition by doing variations of the same thing over and over. With Pat’s makeover, she shows how sometimes we need to be open to a totally new perspective. Remember in the movie Contact when the aliens send instructions for building something, but the pages can’t be put in order? Then one of the scientists realizes the pages go together in 3D shapes! It’s the same kind of thing when we are problem solving. Sometimes the answer is found in an unexpected way.
Pat’s original line sketch inspired me to find a way back to happy hearts. Sometimes the solution is found in back tracking and taking different turns at the forks in the road. Many of you know I hate to be boxed in, so I tend to have a Big Picture idea first, but not this time. I’ve hit some bumps in the road, but so far, no dead ends!
We hope to see you at PIQF in October! Celebrate my 65th birthday! See the Shape Shifting Challenge quilts, made by people from Canada and the USA!
Meanwhile, in my real life, I’ve been sidelined by blood clots. It’s in a superficial vein (good) but this vein does dive to deep vein system at the groin (bad) but I’m doing daily injections of anticoagulant drug and the clots aren’t creeping up (good) but the one clot is 5″ long and the other clot is big (bad) but it should get better over time (good) yet meanwhile I can walk to bathroom or to get food, otherwise, my leg must be elevated (and snugged in a compression sock to my upper thigh for some unknown period of time (difficult to accept).
Lynn from C&T dropped by my house on her way to Sisters and Quilters Affair and the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show aka Quilt Show Week to pick up dye stuff. She came bearing a bag of home grown lemons (lemon trees in Berkeley?). When you get lemons, make lemon juice (literally). I freeze lemon juice and zest because it’s hard to find a decent lemon at a reasonable price at our local grocery store.
Times UP! Back to the super leg elevation (not the mini elevation at my desk) and my friend the hot water bottle.
Not shown in the photos, another batch of blue jays made the rounds this morning with mom or dad. At the bird bath, the “babies” flapped their wings, begging to be fed. The dutiful parent gave them each sips of water, then flew away: “You’re on your own!” We have rabbits, Clark’s Nutcrackers (who decided to live year around sometime over winter), birds and squirrels of all sorts, and the nocturnal creatures we don’t usually see.
It’s another kind of wild life going on in the sewing room. I went to bed thinking “I’m on the right track” but I woke up knowing I had two quilts going on, one on top of the other. How to integrate them? It reminded me of another time around 1991, when I woke up realizing I’d made a serious math error, and the commissioned banners would be much too small. Back then, I stayed in bed until I had a solution. But yesterday, I got up and got help from a quilter friend. I’m back on a path again— now just a zillion decisions to make, with fabric bits flying around like crazy. Just like the baby bird, I’m on my own, but it’s nice knowing I have friends standing by.
I just checked the messages in moderation, and one spammer told me I could use their help to “drive the message house”. What a difference a word makes! (Who can forget the gamer who typed “all our bases are belong to us” or the stand up comedian from the Soviet Union/Russia who joked “I slept like firewood”, showing how fluent in English he really was.)
A relative asked me to make a pillow using her Elvis Tee Shirt. I did not expect Ballet Elvis. She loves the pillow!
I made a baby quilt for the new baby in the family, but it’s large enough for big brother and sister to lounge on with the baby. Great grandma is in heaven with a baby on her lap. (She also likes to hold Peaches, the small dog in the family.)
Cotton + Steel won the “best vendor booth” award at the International Quilt Association Spring Market in Salt Lake City in May. http://cottonandsteelblog.squarespace.com/blog/ I loved their shelf of assorted items in a rainbow of colors. I’m starting my own Color Shelf with items found around the house and a few picks from The Second Tern, our local thrift store that supports the Sunriver Nature Center. More stuff will be added (the folks at Cotton + Steel painted many of their items, but I hope to find things already in solid colors, at least to start with).
Oliso Goes Up! Oliso Goes Down! (Miata Fans will recognize this variation on a slogan. Oliso owners just need a tee shirt!) http://www.oliso.com/smartiron/ When I watched the Oliso videos online, I realized the different colors (blue, purple or yellow) represent different models. I chose the yellow because I liked the color, not because it was the top of the line- but– if I had known, I still would have chosen yellow.
A scrappy quilt in QuiltMania January/February 2016 led to my rediscovery of the Fence Rail pattern, also known as interlocked braid. This pattern first appeared in print in 1898 in the Ladies Art Company mail order catalog, according to Barbara Brackman’s book, Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns, but I first discovered it in the 1970’s. Don’t be daunted by the log cabin construction with partial seams- it’s better than Sudoku for keeping the brain alert! A quilting friend and I made 2 units each- it’s fun! Now maybe I will finally make a charm quilt, first dreamed of decades ago….only 46+ more units to go!
This pattern is a bridge between me and those women of the late 1800’s who created this pattern. I bet they exchanged fabrics with their quilting friends, using up scraps, just like I am doing. We quilters/fiber artists/makers of today stand on the shoulders of these women who came before us. Is it perhaps true that circumstances led these women to make only functional quilts while today we have the luxury of making quilts intended-to-be-seen on a wall? Isn’t it all lower case “art” when we create something out of our hearts, hands and minds? Let’s not quibble amongst ourselves about who is or isn’t an artist, who does or doesn’t follow the “rules”, who can or can’t call themselves this or that kind of quilter. Let’s just keep making!
I have to stop procrastinating and get going on the remaining challenges for our special exhibit at the Pacific International Quilt Festival in Santa Clara in October 2016 (www.quiltfest.com).If you go, come visit with Pat Pease and I about the quilts from our book, Creative Quilt Challenges (C&T Publishing, 2016) and all the new challenge quilts, including our group challenge Shape Shifting with a dozen or more quilters around the USA and Canada. Here is a sneak peek of our UFO Make Over Challenge, in which we traded stalled quilts to reimagine and finish. The next challenge, Big Flowers, is in the dream and initial planning stages.
Small routines remind us of the larger passing of time. Here is another 36 days of cat food, which always reminds me of 36 days of litter box scoops. Round and round we go!
It’s another beautiful day in the sewing room with Cooper the Cat.
I love my current iron, but it has burped up dirty water for the last time. To get around the problem, I fill up the tank only halfway, which works, but it means twice as many fill-ups for the same ironing time. I run the cleaning cycle every 2-4 weeks as advised in the instructions. But just before going to Spring Market, this iron belched up dirty water onto someone else’s white fabric. Enough!
At Spring Market, the Oliso Iron people offered a price I could not refuse. Actually, I did walk around for a few hours before deciding, then realized I didn’t want to refuse. I chose the yellow iron that for no good reason reminds me of my mother and ironing. I’m sure she used some heavy black appliance and not a butter yellow iron, but this color felt right.
When looking up reviews on products, I’m always amused by the great lengths people go to show the “un-boxing” of the product. So here is my own series of getting the iron- a smart iron no less- out of the box. (If it’s so smart, why can’t it get itself out of the box and do my ironing for me? It is the only iron with feet– that raise and lower the iron with a touch.)
Thank you, C&T, for supporting their authors! On Thursday, Pat and I presented our “schoolhouse”, a soft marketing pitch to shop and business owners. The next day we had our book signing in the C&T booth, where we got to give away 18 books and yakkety yak with attendees. Our marketing scheme to give away a bonus prize to people in our schoolhouse audience (over the next two days) didn’t work, but we had fun giving away our 30 beautiful scrap bags to people we met. Jeff Belvill, from Kai Scissors, got to choose a scrap bag for his quilting wife! Just one of many wonderful encounters with strangers, who aren’t strangers at all, because we share the love of textiles, quilting, fiber art, and so on.
All in all, it was a great “coming out party” for our book, Creative Quilt Challenges.
The aisles started at 200 and continued through 2800, with too many vendor booths to count in each aisle. On Friday, we crisscrossed the floor in a somewhat random pattern, making sure to thank companies who have supported me over the years and Pat & I with our recent book. On Saturday we went up and down every aisle before and after lunch. Which of us had the random or the linear approach? I’m sure you can figure it out, but both ways were fun.
The Cotton + Steel booth won first prize for “Best Booth”, but all the vendors showed their own style in some way. I’ve never seen hanks of sewing thread before, but for all of us who love fiber, the Aurifil booth made us smile and want to touch. One of our “thank you” stops was Quilters Dream Batting. We use their Request Loft/Natural most of the time, but they have so many to choose from, you’d never need to use another brand. They have a new “green” batting, which is made from recycled soda bottles. It’s polyester and naturally a green color because of the color of the bottles. How cool is that? This batting is thin, like their cotton version, and has a wonderfully soft hand.
For fans and subscribers of Uppercase Magazine (uppercasemagazine.com) and its leader Janie Vangool, the 2pm Uppercase Meet Up on Friday had to be a highlight of the day. Her first line of fabric with Windham Fabrics (www.windhamfabrics.net- search for Janie Vangool among the designers) will be in stores soon, but we all had a chance to win a big heavy box of fat quarters in every pattern and colorway. And we each got our chance to meet Janie and talk with her a bit. Across the aisle we met Marcia Derse (marciaderse.com and say der-see), a quilter and fabric designer for Windham Fabrics. We couldn’t stop ourselves from being thrilled to meet these women.
When going up and down aisles, we met a lot of people not on our vendor list. Stacie Bloomfield, from Springdale, Arkansas, caught our eye with her wonderful black & white sketches and fabric. She has a new line of fabric with Moda. Meanwhile, you can catch up with her artwork and products on Etsy (www.etsy.com/people/Gingiber).
We met so many nice people! The Zipper Lady from Fort Collins, Colorado took time to show me some zipper pulls I’ve not seen before, including one for a wet suit that is rubberized and spring loaded. She modeled her zipper apron and I showed off my zipper pull bracelet. Anneliese and Brenda from Eye Candy Quilts in Lincoln, Nebraska took time to chat with us about creating new patterns. This is what quilters do, right? We share our stories in all sorts of ways.
We were indoors so much, we didn’t mind the gray weather, but even walking around in 60ish degree weather, it just felt warmer than the chill of central Oregon at the same temperature. We went to bed while lightening lit up the sky, so we missed the power outage in downtown that left 85,000 people without electricity. One attendee got caught in the shower during the black out, and no, her hotel did not have emergency lighting in the bathroom! We just woke up to the wrong time on the hotel clock.
The drive to and from Salt Lake City is beautiful. Our airport in central Oregon is closed for a month, so we figured by the time we drove to Portland or Eugene (hours away), and hung out at an airport, and arrived in SLC, we’d be better off driving. It is a LONG drive (about 11 hours with bathroom stops and eating in the car). Montana may be called The Big Sky state, but Idaho and eastern Oregon can also claim a share of being Big Sky Country. The clouds on the way home kept us entertained, but I will only show one of the many photos taken out the window of the car.
I will say this: I’m terrible at taking a LOT of photographs. Sorry, I just get caught up and forget to capture the moments. So there are no photos of most of the people we met, the things we saw, the food we ate, the activities we enjoyed…
Let’s talk food first.
Vosen’s Bread Paradise: if you read about a German bakery with all sorts of goodies, I think you’d have to circle the block a few times like we did. This is a pretzel embedded with parmigiano reggiano cheese. Oh gosh- crusty on the outside, chewy on the inside, slightly salty, and cheesy. Delish. I bought Pat a “Berliner” described as “the mother of all donuts”, light, not greasy, filled with raspberry marmelade.
Settebello Pizzeria Napoletana and Capo Gelateria: Opened in 2005, this appears to be the real deal, with the Italian owner watching over his pizza & gelato kingdom. The pizzas, cooked in a wood fired brick oven, come out quickly, piping hot, and perfect. We had a simple crushed tomato, buffalo mozzarella, and basil pizza with a salad with a thin slice of parmigiano reggiano cheese & balsamic vinegar smear, thin slice of prociutto, dab of goat cheese, and lemon juice. I almost couldn’t eat another bite, but we had to walk across the old wooden floor, through the door in the wall, to the Gelateria: oh, yes we did! It was hard to choose and to order the small size, but we had some restraint. When we searched for a recycle bin for the plastic cups and spoons, the owner gestured for us to throw it in the trash. As his gestures got more vigorous, we did as we were told. He came over to thank us for coming to his restaurant and welcome us back. I wish I could go back this weekend!
And then there was Spring Market in Hall C! You can see why we needed our strength! More next time.
My coauthor Pat Pease and I are off to Spring Market on Wednesday and we’ll be following – not a yellow brick road- but a winding highway between Bend and Salt Lake City. We decided to make new tote bags to carry our books and other shameless self-promotion materials while strolling around Market & town.
I decided to try using kraft-tex, a Kraft Paper Fabric, made by my publisher, C&T Publishing (ctpub.com). I crumpled and boiled it to give it the texture of leather (or maybe pleather). Topstitching in red unified all the fabrics in the tote bag. The fun splash of green on the back of the thread textured strap came about –not because of vision and planning- but because I forgot to add the seam allowance before cutting. It was a Make It Work Moment (thank you Tim Gunn, Project Runway).
I stitched the kraft-text to flannel to give it extra support. I backed the red home dec weight fabric with canvas, also for extra support. Does it need extra support? Who knows? Just seemed like a good idea.
I like to do the little fold in the side seams to make a 3D triangle in the corners (see first photo). It took some work to turn the bag right side out (middle photo) and to steam and finger press the sides seams and triangles- the last photo shows what it looked like before the finessing.
My coauthor, Pat Pease, and I have some special tricks up our sleeve for Market. If you will be at Spring Market, catch up with us- we’d love to meet you! If you can’t be at Market, follow us on Instagram (wendyquilter and peasp) and share the fun!
P.S. Pat’s tote bag is similar, but made a little smaller, with beautiful Japanese textiles and red leather handles. It’s a simple “grocery bag” type construction, that starts with a rectangle. The two cut ends of the rectangle are the “tops” of the bag, and the middle of the rectangle is the “bottom” of the bag. Confusing? Take a piece of paper and fold it in half- see how the rectangle becomes a bag?
Do some math ahead of time, or use trial & error and experimenting, to figure out your dimensions. Decide on the size of the bottom of the bag and do the 3D triangle construction (double the height of the tuck to know the resulting width of the bottom) or the usual “box” construction (the triangle gets cut off). Add your handles- fabric straps like mine or the fancier leather handles or your great idea for straps. The basics are the same, but you have a lot of opportunitiers to add your own special touches.
Vicki Welsh talks about how 1) even when fabrics get prewashed, 2) even when color catchers by the dozen go in the wash with the quilt, and 3) even when all precautions have been taken to protect your quilt, one or more fabrics can and do bleed in the wash. A few years ago, when this happened to her, she tried a fix using Dawn Ultra dish detergent and it worked. Since then she’s been researching and experimenting and sharing this tip with students, and now she has a “this has always worked for me but I can’t promise it will work for you” handout, called Save My Bleeding Quilt! Check it out on her website: colorsbyvicki.com
This has happened to me so many times over the years that it’s hard to explain to others that ‘oh yes, I prewashed the fabric and I didn’t do anything stupid’. A few days ago, I washed a baby quilt intended for my niece and her new baby. The red fabric bled into the white, making the whole block RED. Even though I rinsed out most of the red color, I could not in good faith give her a quilt that would quite probably turn all her wash load pink the next time she washed the quilt. It’s hard to see the pink in the photos- but trust me- it was deep pink leaking along the edges of the red fabric into the white.
With nothing to lose, I followed Vicki Welsh’s excellent directions and plunged the quilt into HOT water with lots of Dawn Ultra dish detergent. I kept the quilt submerged for hours and hours until the water cooled off, the deep pink was gone, and the red fabric stopped releasing color. The key ingredients in the Dawn Ultra that release grease from dirty dishes and oil covered birds also release color and keeps the color from reattaching to the fabric.
I rinsed the quilt in the tub with cool water and squeezed as much water out as my hands could manage. I rolled up the quilt in a towel, and then another towel, to soak up the water. After squaring up the quilt on more towels on my sewing tables, I let the quilt air dry. Success!!!
But now the quilt smelled of Dawn Ultra and I knew I had to wash the quilt in the washer one more time. After seeking advice (thank you Pat and Judith and Christine and Karla), I rinsed the quilt in the tub a few more times, squeezed out most of the water, then ran it through my LG front loading machine on “rinse and spin only”. Another success: no more bleeding!!!
For the front, I used 20 colors of Sketch Basics by Timeless Treasures to make 20- one-of-a-kind log cabin blocks. I constructed them oversized, then squared-up to 11 5/8″ by 11 5/8″. I pieced the back using a panel I bought in Medford, Oregon with fabric purchased locally*. It’s about 43″ by 54″, large enough for the baby and sister and brother to sit on.
* I bought the last of the alphabet fabric, which wasn’t quite enough. When I got home, I realized that the letters were directional. Sigh. After cutting 6 rectangles (yes, 6, because I had to piece the top and bottom to be wide enough), I noticed the vertical column of yellow, orange and lime green letters. Oy! As cut, this line zigged and zagged from top to bottom, which grated on my senses like fingernails on a chalkboard. Since the pieces were cut oversized, I was able to line up the columns.
I almost feel like I have to defend my obsession with lining up the columns, especially in this time of the prevailing attitude of “anything goes”. But I make decisions based on my inner compass and my own design sensibility and that means, no, not true-for me- that anything goes. We all have to make design choices that make us happy and if we really believe this, we won’t get all judgmental about how EVERYONE should do things in one certain way.