Monday, March 28, 2011

Another Hour in the Garden

I'm invited to a number of weddings this spring, and when I heard that one of the bride's bedrooms is decorated in "blue and beige", I knew I was going to make her an "Hours in the Garden" quilt. This one is done entirely with batiks, and is not quite as large as the first one, because I wanted to use the wholecloth quilt backing I purchased on my Wisconsin trip in October 2009, and that's "only" 108 inches wide. (the first Hours in the Garden quilt was a whopping 117" square)

I will be writing this pattern up for sure over the next couple of months, as I can squeeze the time in to do so. I took copious notes during construction of this quilt. The quilt is also going to be entered in the Garden State Quilters' guild show in May, which is a couple of weeks before the wedding.

Here are a couple of in-process photos:
Working on the border

Center section completed

Another view, in the very warm light of dawn

And our youngest cat, Luna, who must get involved in any quilting activity.

Friday, March 11, 2011

More Hours In The Garden

About two-and-a-half years ago I had my first commissioned quilt. By the end, I had named the pattern "Hours in the Garden" since it used the Hourglass block and a Garden Patch variation block as a base.

Here is the original quilt, staged on a bed (it's too big to hang anywhere  in my house to get a decent photo:

Now, I'm starting another one and this one will be heading off to another owner when it's finished as well. I am also taking very detailed notes as I construct this, as I plan to release this quilt as a pattern this year. I have chosen my fabrics for the new quilt today. This time I'm using all batiks:

I like to keep a swatch record of my fabric selections. I've also numbered/lettered all the different fabrics in the quilt (I usually don't do this when I'm just making a quilt on my own). This quilt uses 10 different fabrics, with 6 of them being mid-to-dark range blues. It's easy to get them mixed up. The last quilt took me 40 hours of construction time. I'm hoping I can do at least as well with this one. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Iron Craft 10 - Fat Quarter Challenge

What's a quilter to do with one fat quarter? Well, I desperately needed some padding on the chair I use in the office at work, as the solid plastic is very hard on my elbows (I'm a leaner when I'm sitting at the computer and I'm at the computer all day long at work).

So I whipped up these arm rests using stash fabric and leftover upholstery batting from a failed attempt at reupholstering a sofa.

It's basically a "pillowcase" that's been stuffed with batting and sewed shut. What you can't see in the photos is the 2-inch wide "industrial" Velcro underneath, holding it all together. There are 6 layers of batting stuffed in there, and it's barely soft enough. I probably should have used cushion foam to stuff it, but that's harder to work with (and a lot messier!).

Sunday, March 6, 2011

White Gloving at Mancuso Quilt Fest of NJ VII

I have never been a :"white glove" volunteer at a quilt show before, but I had a good time doing it, and I'll probably volunteer again in the future, because you get to touch the quilts!  The Garden State Quilters had a booth at the Mancuso show this weekend, and I volunteered for a white glove shift.

I got there a couple of hours early so I could see the show and do a little shopping. I now know where to get in-person fabrics - there was one vendor there with their entire fabric store, but their cutting line was 30 people long (I am not kidding) and I didn't have time to peruse their "on the bolt" selection, but a lot of it looked very yummy, let me tell you.

I did not take pictures of every quilt, or even every quilt that I really liked. Some of the highlights were seeing the 2010 US Hoffman Challenge exhibit (I would have loved if they included the UK winners as well.), and the blue ribbon winners from some other Mancuso competitions.

There was a black and white (and orange) quilt that was just beautiful, which was basically a double-sided quilt. When I was doing my "rour" of the space, I couldn't locate a white gloves person to show me the back of the quilt, so when I got my gloves on, the first thing I did was look at the back of that quilt. I thought I took photos, but I guess I didn't. All I can say is that it pays to read the story cards for the quilts because otherwise, you'll miss details like that. I did spend some time surprising other visitors who were examining that quilt by showing them the back.

The colors in this quilt are not "my style" but it's very well executed and very pleasing to look at. The quilting is also really REALLY well done.

I had been walking past it for a couple of hours before I really took a close look at the story card and realized the entire quilt was hand-quilted.  That cross-hatching is maybe 1/4-inch square. Her stitches are so even and tiny that you think it's machine-quilted when you take a passing look at it. Click the photo above to see a close up of this work. Amazing!

One of the show attendees had me pull the quilt back so she could show some of her friends (or students?) the label for this quilt. She wanted to show them that quilt labels can be quite decorative and become an integral part of the quilt design, and encouraged them to move beyond a simple muslin square.

This quilt was one of my favorites, mostly because of the subject. I was even more impressed when I read on the story card that the quilter hand-dyed the fabric used for the calico patterning. What you can't see too well in either of my (mediocre) snapshots is the fabulous red feathers quilted in the dark portions of the quilt.

This quilt had a lot of Savorski crystal bling on it - especially in the center of the flowers. Most of the quilting was done with metallic threads. A woman had me show her the back of this quilt, and under the appliqued flower blossoms on the front were quilted completely different flowers on the back (these were covered by the applique on the front). The flowers on the back were highlighted with some metallic fabric paint to make them show up a little more. The woman then spent the next 10 or so minutes deconstructing the quilt for her friend (and me), which I found very informative. This quilt also featured pieced prairie points, some awesome applique and some very meticulous and exacting machine quilting.

I had a great time looking at all the eye candy and being allowed to fondle the quilts. It was a bit humbling, seeing all these magnificent pieces of fiber art on display, but I'm not discouraged. I am inspired. It makes me not want to work on the project I have to do this month, since I've already done one of these quilts before, but I have a niece getting married in May...