Friday, April 14, 2017

Urban Flower Garden - a Quick Curve Ruler Quilt

Have you tried the Quick Curve Ruler by Sew Kind of Wonderful? It's pretty awesome. An easy curve that doesn't require pinning to sew (bonus!) and has lots of wonderful patterns available. I'm pretty floored by all the wonderful shapes and designs that can be created with this one template. This is my second quilt created with this ruler and one of their patterns.  The first was a baby quilt you can see here.

The pattern is called Urban Candy. I called this quilt Urban Flower Garden because I quilted graffiti style flowers into all the double loops and lattice cross hatching in the single loops.

It was a fun way to learn and practice new flower motifs. I totally enjoyed it. Here's a quick video I shot just after I took it off the frame.

I used my Michael Miller Clay as background cuz I love a good grey modern quilt. The other fabrics are just pulled from my stash - a couple of solids, a few batiks, and a pink grunge which beat out the options of black and grey for the binding.

The quilt is on the small side - 58x81.  So it will live on a couch back instead of a bed. But I'm pretty happy with the way it turned out. I've got another QCR pattern in my studio that is completely different. Can't wait to tackle that one!

P.S. As always - props to my rarely seen quilt holders. In this case, my oldest son.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Interchange Applique a la' Gillian Travis

      The lovely and interesting Gillian Travis recently visited our guild here in Germany for a trunk show and weekend of classes. I promise I don't mean 'interesting' as in 'slightly crazy' but as in actually interesting. Here is a lady who lives in England but travels everywhere and makes these amazing small journal quilts each month reflecting where she's been and what she saw. She brought dozens of them with her, most smaller than a piece of copy paper. And there were all so different. Visit her website's galleries page and check out the Journal quilts section.

And then be sure to pop onto the Voyage Quilts 2015 tab to see the Interchange Appliqué quilts that she taught us to do in the day long class I took.  Last October when I visited the European Quilt Championships in Maastricht, Netherlands I met Gillian and took a short free motion embroidery class from her. I also got to chat with her at her booth and see many of her interchange appliqué quilts in person.

The technique she teaches involves cutting a simple design from a square of batik fabric in such a way that you end up with a positive and a negative of the image. Both of these are then combined with two other fabric squares to create two blocks. She has done this with vases, turnips, pears, pomegranates, birds, and sweaters. Here are some of her many lovely interchange appliqué quilts:

But I decided to use elephants. I have a thing for them. Here is mine:

And I made two. Cuz why not?

Gillian did a fantastic job teaching us the technique. The hardest part for me was the color selection. I don't work with batiks very often but since this is essentially raw edge appliqué, batiks work really well because they are tightly woven and don't fray. I also don't have a lot of batiks. I brought what I had to the class but luckily all the students were generous and we swapped back and forth all over to make sure everyone got the pieces they needed.

There are actually no seams in the whole piece. The individual blocks are put together with fusible adhesive and then fused onto the batting. A zig zag stitch holds it all together, and a rat tail type binding with a length of matching yarn finishes off the edge.

The fun part is adding the details. It's been a while since I did any free motion stitching on my domestic machine but it came back pretty quickly.  Here's a closeup of  one block after I added some FMQ details.

We had our guild quilt retreat soon after the class, which was the prefect chance to get these completely finished. Someone took a couple of snaps of me while I was quilting.

One of these minis, the one with purple thread,  is now hanging on my studio wall with my other minis. The other I sent in a care package to a friend in California. I hope she likes it.

And I hope I cross paths with Gillian again.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Bountiful Temple Wedding quilt

After a long 5 month hiatus, I finally have Olga set up, running on 220V power, and quilting! (Cue trumpets and angel choirs.) I'm so excited to be able to get back in the quilting groove. I've also joined a quilt guild here in Germany, composed mostly of Americans connected with the military in some way. Many of them are teachers for the base schools. We had a lovely retreat last month and I finished two quilt tops. So I hope to be showing some newly finished quilts soon.

In the meantime, here is one more pre-move quilt that I haven't blogged about yet. This one was a favor to a dear friend from Utah whose oldest daughter got married this summer. She asked in May if I could possibly make a wedding quilt before I left. Oh, and could I quilt the Bountiful Temple on to the quilt?

Holy buckets!! Making the quilt at all was going to be a challenge in the time frame with my own trans-atlantic move coming up quickly, but I'd never attempted quilting an architectural structure before. Friend had found a black-line pattern for the temple online which I looked at and decided that I could give it a shot. Where are we without courage to try new things, right?

I decided to use a simple Giant Star pattern, using Jeni Baker's awesome tutorial on her blog In Color Order. I've used this twice before for wedding quilts. This pattern works up fast and is a great way to highlight a couple's chosen wedding colors. This post shows the same quilt done for my nephew's wedding gift.

In this instance, I simply left out the center HSTs, leaving a large space to quilt the temple.

Using the black line pattern wasn't too hard, especially since tracing through white fabric is fairly easy. Stitching it was just a lot of ruler work with a small ruler. I used Monopoly thread for the temple itself and white thread for all other areas of white fabric.
A closer shot of how the center turned out. Oh, and if you are wondering what a temple is and why it would be quilted onto a wedding quilt, Mormons perform weddings and other sacred ordinances inside temples. The buildings themselves are amazing beautiful inside and out. More information can be found at

Since the pattern was smaller than the center space, I added several layers of frame.

The star points got a yummy double orange peel treatment.

And the white background blocks were swirled.

Finally, I added a bonus block to the backing, just above the label:

Then I sent it off for the wedding of these two adorable people with my best wishes -

P.S. If you are interested in my adventures living and traveling in Europe, be sure to follow me on Instagram, idaratherbequilting. So far I've been to a quilt show in the Netherlands, pottery shopping in Poland, and next week I'm flying to Israel.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Friendship - A Goodbye gift

Update on my adjustment to German life - I have my license and can now drive, which isn't too difficult other than the ridiculously narrow roads and some interesting ideas about right-of-way. Still, much easier to learn to drive here than it was in Turkey.

We have found a house to rent and will be moving in with temporary loaner furniture and our 25 suitcases next week. The hotel has been nice but we're all looking forward to have a bit more room to spread out.

Okay, so quilt number two that I saved to blog about later:

This quilt is called Friendship and was made from a jelly roll of Simple Marks by Malka Dubrawsky for Moda. I pieced the strips together in sets of four, trimmed them into squares and then created half square triangles with other strip set squares. As always, I threw in a few solids for visual rest. When I had pieced together all my HSTs, the top wasn't quite as big as I was hoping for so I added two borders of Simple Marks yardage to top and bottom.

I think this line has a funky, modern vibe and wanted the overall quilt design to be in tune with that. It was also important that the quilting be modern as well so I chose a freehand striped seed pod pattern for the body of the quilt and then just echoed the wavy lines of the borders.

For the backing I used a dark green batik and as always, added my Spoonflower-made label.

The quilt was for my friend Ruth. Have you ever had God put someone in your life for a specific purpose? Ruth and I, in many ways, are not alike. But it became clear fairly quickly that God had put Ruth in my life. It was like He was saying, "Here. You two are going to need each other. So reach out and hold on."

Ruth became an anchor for me during some pretty rough storms and a light in a dark time. She taught me about healing and energy and how to work through pain. She is one of the most intuitive people I have every known. And one of the most real. She has a lovely soul.

And she's willing to get a turban wrap with me at an Indian Food and Culture festival both our families attended. (Yes, I totally wore this the rest of the day, even to the grocery store.)

We knew that saying goodbye was going to be hard for both of us. So we kind of avoided it. Ruth was going to be at a family reunion when we actually left so we went to lunch a few days before her trip and chatted like we always do. We hugged when she dropped me off and tried not to tear up.
And I didn't give her the quilt.

Because I knew that if I had given it to her then and tried to explain what she had meant to me during the past three years, we would both be blubbering messes. So I had entrusted Maria, the friend I made  Purple Pretties for, with a mission.  After I had moved away and once Ruth was back in town, she was to deliver the quilt. I included a simple card that read, "You blessed my life in so many ways. Thank you."

Sometimes a few words have to stand in for all the words you can't find.

And often a quilt has to stand in for all the hugs you won't be there to give.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Purple Pretties (Hello from Germany!)

Bit of a news flash - I moved to Germany. And as a result, I haven't sewn a stitch for six weeks. SIX WEEKS!! And I'm really recognizing how true the saying, "Quilting is my therapy" is cuz without it, the stress of this move is just about to do me in!

But I did save a few finishes for this down time (....and I didn't have time to blog in the pre-move busyness) so I could get a quilting fix through blogging about it.

Meet Purple Pretties:
This beauty was a commissioned quilt for my good friend Maria Rodriguez Fuentes, maker of all amazing food, Mexican and otherwise.  A few months before our move, Maria asked if I would make her a quilt to remember us by. (Awww!)

Maria's favorite color is purple, something I don't have a lot of in my stash. But Northcott fabric had sent me a few yards of their Artisan Spirit Ambience Violet to test and I still had a quite a bit of it left. Perfect!

The pattern is Craftsman by Amy Smart. Now I think Craftsman tools from Sears when I read that but she meant windows in craftsman style houses. Either way, its a really great pattern to show off larger scale prints that you don't want to cut up too tiny and it works up fast.

I added a couple of prints from Typography from Cloud9 Fabric, a lovely Gelato ombre, and a random batik that I've had in my stash forever. They all played nicely together and both Maria and I were very pleased with how it turned out.

I had lots of fun with Olga finding different patterns to quilt in each large block. After washing, we had all kinds of yummy texture.

I had purchased some wide quilt backing fabric for the back in a nice lavender. Did the binding by machine but hand stitched on my label.

Did you notice these aren't my normal brown desert photos? We took the quilt with us on a picnic up to Mount Charleston where it was green and beautiful. Well, green compared to the desert around Vegas anyway.

Purple Pretties was my next-to-last quilt made in Las Vegas. The final quilt was a gift for a dear friend's daughter who is getting married in 2 days!! I shipped it off to her without taking many pics but they have promised to send me some. So stay tuned for a blog post about that quilt. And send some prayers my way that Olga and Helga make it across the ocean with no damage.

Till then,
Auf Wiedersehen!

Friday, May 6, 2016

Northcott fabric Chip Challenge - Spiral Dresdens

Back at Quiltcon 2016 in February, I met some lovely people from Northcott who were sponsoring a challenge - take 5 charms of solid dark purple, combine with a limited array of background solids in whites and greys, and make a 30 inch square modern quilt. We took an armful of chip packs back to our local Las Vegas MQG and got as many people involved as we could.

May 1st was the deadline to submit your entry online. Here is mine:

A bit about my process. The spiral dresden block is a free paper piecing pattern from Orchid Owl quilts, aka my bestie Vicki Rueble. She calls it Swirly Twirly Dresden. You can get it here.  (It's super easy and fun to make.)

I did a test block to see how much of the block I could do with five charm squares. It turned out cute and colorful.
In this case, I was using a few shades of green charm squares. I figured out that I could make almost two full dresdens with five charms. I used my permitted background colors to make two more, overlapping them to cover the missing purple strips. (Can you tell where they are? or are not, in this case?) 

Then I went a little off the rails.  I decided that not only would I double batt my quilt with cotton and wool, but I would also put a layer of cotton batting inside the dresdens. Three layers of batting made those dresdens really puffy, and rather thick. My Innova didn't have any trouble sewing through all those layers but it did struggle to get them squished between the machine head and the dead bar. 

But we managed. I also used some silk thread from Superior Threads. I've used silk before on Helga and loved it. But on Olga I snapped a needle.  Which is terrifying on a longarm. No horrible thud like you hit something metal. Just a broken needle.  After some deep breaths I put in a new needle and tried again.  Good for a bit and then snapped another one. Lots of trouble shooting later, I came to the conclusion that I had no idea. I think it might have been a bad cone since when it snapped the thread would be tight all the way back to the cone. But despite that frustration and an unsolved mystery, I got through the quilting and finished in time to take to show and tell at my local MQG, where there were so many fun variations, and to submit it for the challenge. 

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Robot Pals

Ready for simple practice quilt number 3?  I promise I have something a little more complicated and visually stimulating in the works. Coming soon.

But in the meantime, here's the third of my novice Innovian practice quilts.
I've had these fabrics stashed for a long long time, thinking that one day I would make a cute baby boy quilt from them. And then I did.

I tried a new quilting design from the talented Tracey Russell. It looks like an alien hand with a swirl popped into the middle of it.  I was amazed how quickly this all over design covered the quilt. So fun! And the little bit of shine on the Magnifico Thread really makes it pop, even with a matching color.

The center section was a checkerboard print and I had planned on doing some some of square quilting design. But then another Tracey Russell video (Whirls N Swirls on FB) caught my fancy and I decided to try it out. The great thing about quilting on fabric with printed lines is that you don't have to mark anything to get evenly spaced designs. It's amazing how the quilting design can so drastically alter the look of fabric. You almost can't tell this is a checkerboard anymore.

The back is pieced, which is fun. My Bottom Line bobbin thread was a yellow, which disappears into the yellow multi but really shows up nicely on that red brick.

Quilt facts: finished at 41" by 35". Yellow fabric is Moda Silly Safari, Red brick is RJR Salina Yoon Trains. No info on the Robots or the blue checkerboard.  'Robot Pals' will be gifted to my oldest nephew and his wife, who are expecting a baby boy this summer.