Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Finishing Touches: The Indie Herringbone Quilt

Herringbone Quilt
just realized as I was posting this that the quilt is technically upside down here...so close

Once upon a time, a very very long time ago, I made this quilt which you can read a bit more about here. It languished in a pile of finished projects, just waiting to be photographed so I could hold onto a piece of it before sending it off to its intended owner. Well life happened and as I was feeling low about other things, it was nice to see this in my studio reminding me of what I could accomplish, nudging me to tackle new projects and make something I was equally proud of that I could keep for our home.

The reverse which I think I might actually prefer the most...

It's high time I did just that though so, thanks to some lovely mild weather we had this past weekend, we loaded up the car with finished quilts and set off on an adventure to discover some quiet corners of our town that might provide an interesting background. There are two lakes where we live and along an obscure side street, we came upon a deserted inlet off one of the lakes that seemed to belong to no one. Overlooking the lake, this pine-y point of land seemed the perfect spot to take some photos. It's such an interesting thing to me to find hidden nooks like this in ones own backyard—ones with lakefront access, at that!

But I suppose I digress...here you can see some detailed shots of how the quilting itself ended up. I used some contrasting magenta thread to do some straight line quilting on the top and bottom sashing which gives it such a great texture. For the main herringbone part of the quilt, I simply followed the bars of fabric to quilt an improv zig-zag line through them from side to side every couple rows.

Herringbone Quilt, detail

I finished the binding and embroidered label by hand—finishing touches that really pull the whole thing together. For the label, I was trying to create a visualization of how I actually went about constructing the rows of herringbone. I used back stitch and satin for the design and split for the little lettering in colors that matched as close as I could get them. I really do love when a label can tell a bit of the story of how a handmade object came to be, even in the smallest sense.

Ok, one last gratuitous glamor shot. The direct afternoon light and reflections off the lake made trying to do this successfully kind of impossible, but I just had to share it because I got excited about the idea of pulling if off while we were there and, a few half-baked attempts with fixing it in photoshop later, it will at least suffice—

Herringbone Quilt The fabric used is from Pat Bravo's Indie line by Art Gallery Fabrics

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Get Your Stitch On

Summer Classes 2014

Looking to learn a new skill this summer or brush up and hone your embroidery skills? I've got a packed schedule of events and classes for June and July at J.P. Knit & Stitch and hope you'll join us!

Be Inspired: Meet Our Sewing Instructors
June 13th, 6:00–8:00pm
A free event that is open to the public! Meet this rich community of creative talent (I'll be there as well), chat about upcoming classes, and check out lots of inspirational work from teachers and fellow students alike in a relaxed setting (you're welcome to show off your own work too).

Beginning Embroidery Workshop
June 14th, 10:00am–1:00pm
Take your first step in learning embroidery with this class in which each student completes a sampler of beginning outline stitches.

Learn to Sew Crash Course
June 28th, 10:00am–1:00pm
Get comfortable with your machine and learn to sew as you complete an easy envelope pillow.

Intermediate Embroidery Workshop
June 28th, 2:00–5:00pm
Step up your embroidery skills by learning several fill stitches and get troubleshooting help on your own projects with this afternoon workshop.

Beginning Embroidery
July 12th, 10:00am–1:00pm
Take your first step in learning embroidery with this class in which each student completes a sampler of beginning outline stitches.

Embroider Your Life Workshop
July 12th, 1:30–4:30pm
Embroidery your wardrobe, accessories, and your life with this fun and inspiring one day workshop!

Embroidered Lettering Workshop
July 26th, 1:00–4:00pm
Whether you're a quilter interested in creating a label, a knitter looking to embellish, or a seamstress adding flair to a garment, this class provides an introduction to hand embroidered lettering and monogram styles.


I hope to be adding some more classes for July and August so stay tuned!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Trying Something New


Excuse the late afternoon light and the mess...clearly an indication of intense work!

I recently rearranged my entire studio in an effort to make the space a bit more fluid and useful. The added bonus is that I now have a design wall! Well, if you consider an old piece of batting hung with thumb tacks a design wall...

It's been somewhat of a revelation to have a place to lay out ongoing work in a way that it is clearly visible and yet not taking up more surface space. A place where I can consider as much or as little of any particular challenge at once. As you can see in the photo...I'm a bit of a piler and tend to have several different projects going at once so the immediate nature of it does help me focus and contend with different arrangements and possibilities for each item. I still see myself as planning a lot of quilts out with paper and pencil (especially before cutting into particularly precious stacks of fabric), but I felt it was high time to add this tool to my arsenal and em enjoying experimenting with it.

The blocks in progress are for a Valentine's quilt I've got in the works. I know, just in time for...June? I had the best of intentions and at least started thinking about it back in February—though I'm not a big fan of the holiday it occurred to me that having a lap quilt to display on the back of the couch according to season/holiday would be an excellent excuse for more fabric shopping and quilts. Also, I found 3 yards of Anna Maria Horner velveteen for a cold weather quilt backing on major clearance so clearly the universe was trying to tell me something, duh! I didn't want to do anything too literal but have embraced a whole lot more pink than usual and contrasted it with greys. Each block features a very loose theme of fabric featuring things I love (photography, sewing, hiking, cats, etc.) and either start with or extend out towards saturation of pink or grey. I'm not sure each one I've done is completely successful as it requires a whole breadth of fabrics I don't keep on hand, but am finding it an enjoyable challenge to find the right gradation of shades and how to work in low volume prints to my satisfaction. This is one of my favorite blocks so far:



note the scrap of little red scissors I hoarded for years and finally cut into—can anyone tell me the name/designer of it?

This summer brings with it a bit more free time for me to sew and I'm looking forward to sharing a few of the quilts I've finished these past few months here soon. Until then!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

How Do You Approach a Quilt?


DFD quilt, WIP
Wrestling to quilt my "Damn Fine Day" queen size quilt in my home studio

I've scraped together some bits of studio time over the past few weeks and have managed to make a lot of progress on my personal projects including getting three quilts near to finished! Two just need binding now and one is ready for hand quilting with my new q-snap frame.

As my list of WIP projects slowly but surely diminishes, I can't help myself but start to dream up more and sketch out quilt ideas that I've had on the back burner. I'm not the type to get through several quilts in a year due to my museum work, teaching, etsy, and grad school (yes, I'm crazy), but I do so like making plans and there is nothing more inspiring than a cleared worktable and fabric that has waited so patiently for its turn in the ring. Whether it's planning, starting, or finishing a quilt, it's an activity that allows me lots of creative freedom while also calming me down and focusing my overly-scheduled self.

Quilting PlansI should invest in some graph paper, but find reusing the back of
scrap paper around the house is so much easier to grab when an idea strikes!

We all have different ways of going about a quilting project and I find many of the different approaches help the quilter focus on whatever part of the process they most enjoy. For me, I can't get enough of playing with different patterns and colors as well as how to best combine my fabric choices with an appropriate piecing and quilting design. I wish I had a big ole design board but the low slanted ceilings in my attic studio won't stand for it (get it?! ok, sorry 'bout that one...). Instead I often reach for paper and colored pencils which allow me to still envision the overall look (but, alas, does limit the ability to improv-piece). I love the drawings all on their own and find it a relaxing activity I can accomplish while catching up on a favorite tv show without being stranded in another room away from my husband in the few hours we have together each day.

I usually start with a person/holiday/purpose that the quilt is destined for and start to play with fabrics that would be a good match. I've been getting more adventurous in my groupings, sometimes sticking to just one fabric designer/line, and sometimes combining lots of different ones for the desired effect. Recently, I've been toying with the low-volume trend and arranging designs of different scales or illustrated vs. pattern to achieve what I'm calling a "sketchbook look." My fabric choices are usually quite bright and bold, but I try to keep my walls and decor very neutral and sparse so textiles can stand out in nice way (as opposed to looking like clown vomit).

Quilting Plans Fabric I've started to set aside for Valentine and Halloween quilts:
Sometimes I let things sit out where I can see them for awhile to see if I like they way they work
together over time, also allowing for the combination of new/unexpected fabric releases

Not every sketch or fabric stack I dream up becomes a quilt, but those that do definitely evolve over time for me and therefore represent a range of memories, decisions, and build on my evolving skill set (every quilt I make seems to make me realize how much more I have to learn!). How about you? What influences the way you approach a quilting project? What is your favorite part of the process and how do you go about putting a quilt together that highlights that part?

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Get Your Craft On: Upcoming Class Schedule

 Stitched Valentines
Looking for a fun valentine activity for your kids?
Have them join us in learning how to use simple embroidery stitches to craft paper valentines this February 8th!

I've got a good bunch of classes scheduled that I'll be teaching in the coming weeks at J.P. Knit & Stitch in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts. If you (or your kids!) are in the Boston area and looking to learn or brush up on your embroidery or sewing skills, I hope you'll consider joining me!  All registration details can be found by clicking on the links below.


February
Saturday Kid's Sewing Club: Machine and Hand Sewing
February 1, February 8, February 22, and March 1 (No class on February 15)
2–4pm

Valentine Workshop: Kid's Card Crafting
February 8
10:30am–12:30pm


March
1 Day Workshop, Learn to Sew! Crash Course
March 1
10am–1pm

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