Thursday, February 5, 2015

Olivia's Burgoyne Surrounded (long overdue)

Subtitle:  my Sarah Fielke obsession continues, unabated.

I have previously documented my quiltcrush on Sarah Fielke, but we can officially add another quilt to the evidence pile.

The quilt below was my primary project for the better part of 6 months last year.  It is possibly my favorite project ever, and was a present for my niece Olivia, for her bat mitzvah this past November.

I mean, come on, how cute is she?

The quilt is pretty faithfully based on the quilt gracing the cover of Sarah Fielke and Kathy Doughty's Material Obsession 2.   The book contains historically inspired quilts, reinterpreted by Kathy and Sarah.

image from Sarah's website

Do I look relieved to be done?  I was!

While planning this project, I found out that the main block is actually called a "Burgoyne Surrounded" block, which was a popular pattern with American quilters just after the Revolutionary War.

via the MSU archives (which are amazing!)

The block was traditionally worked with blue squares encircling a red center, symbolizing (blue) American troops surrounding (red) British general John Burgoyne, who surrendered to American forces on October 17,1777.

I did most of the piecing of the 12 blocks in March 2014 at our annual Boston Modern Quilt Guild retreat in Kennebunk, Maine.

The grey fabric was bought last minute, in a pre-retreat panic.  I couldn't find any quilting cotton that was the medium-dark tone I wanted, so I ended up going with a striped garment linen.

I love the way the linen's striping adds interest to the top, but piecing it was a bit tricky, due to the stretch.  Lots of little pieces.  Stretchy little pieces in lots of numbered piles.  With liquor on the side.

awful gymnasium lighting, but you get the idea.

Once the 12 blocks were sashed, the borders went on, and then I used freezer paper and a ton of Best Press to make the dots.  

I figured out dot placement, then positioned dots a handful at a time with spray baste, prior to appliqué.   There are about 60 dots but this still went rather quickly.  

I took it in for BMQG show-and-tell at this point:

Normally I only show-and-tell finished quilts, but I'd been working on this so long that I hadn't shown anything in months!   Didn't want folks to think I'd stopped quilting!

Sarah's pattern calls for tree shapes on the border, but I went another direction and did an appliquéd vine - a choice that added months of effort.  The vine was hand appliquéd, and due to the curvy-ness and the fact that I had to stitch down both sides, this was essentially the equivalent effort of binding the quilt 4 times.

I included shirt fabric from my Dad, Olivia's grandpa, in the leaves.  The  black and white striped fabric below was from one of his shirts.

The body of the quilt was free motioned with a freehand Baptist fan concept.  I did more of a leafy/vineyard pattern on the border.

For the binding and backing, I went with purple prints.   Olivia loves purple!  I wish I had a brighter image of the print on the back, but it's a Tina Givens floral I picked up at the awesome Marden's store in Sanford, Maine.

My niece LOVED the quilt, and had the exact reaction we all long for when we give one away.

I thought, midway through, that I may have been overly ambitious picking such a complicated project.   But I loved it so much when it was done that I'm convinced there are more Fielke projects in my future.   The woman is a genius!  

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Kelly's tree skirt

Behold my very first Christmas tree skirt.

This one is a gift, as we are Jewish and this is WAY too big for the menorah.

We help our friend Kelly put up her tree every year, and for the past few I've been wanting to upgrade her skirt. I got the idea to do a "mega Dresden" from Red Pepper Quilts, who did something similar on a large appliqué quilt.

My trusty Dresden ruler wasn't long enough for the 24" blades I wanted, so I used it and some blue masking tape to fashion a cutting guide on my mat.   The blades were made up of 12 2.5" strips of bright scrap fabric, ranging in length from about 2" to 14" wide.

The bottom edge of the tape guide was later used to cut additional fake blade end points, which I fit behind the 16 main Dresden blades junctions to add more interest.

For assembly, I first cut a circle of leftover zigzag upholstery fabric.  Then, I basted the circle to scrap batting.  

Once trimmed, I pre-bound this "half sandwich" circle in a bright acid green.  Then, I flipped the batting up and layered on the dresden, with the additional points spaced in between.

It's quilted in an all-over swirl.  

After much debate amongst a group of my Christmas-tree-having guild friends, I cut a circle about 9" in diameter in the center for the tree trunk, and sliced open the Dresden along one side to create the skirt opening.   

The exposed raw edges were bound in zippy red dots.

Recently, Caro Sheridan presented at our guild meeting.   Caro is an exceptional photographer, who gave us a boatload of funny tips for staging our work for photos.   When I finished the skirt, I tried her "pose it with a couch" concept.  Um, maybe I'll keep trying.

PS - did you know tree skirts double as kick-ass ponchos?  Here, my daughter works the look, Noodlehead style, ie, eyes away from the photographer.  (I love you, Noodlehead, but why so coy?)

Friday, October 31, 2014

Around the World Blog Tour

My friend Alice recently asked me to jump onto the Around the World Blog tour.  Alice is my predecessor as the president of the Boston Modern Quilt Guild.  Her quilts are truly exceptional and her beautiful blog, Alidiza, seriously puts mine TO SHAME!  While I've made it a blog goal this year to have fewer words and more pictures, I can't say "no" to Alice.  So, without further delay.....
1. What am I working on? 
I just wrapped up a few big projects, including a tree skirt for my friend Kelly.

I also just finished this neutral, low-volume scrap quilt for my friend Ariel.

At this point, I'm moving on to several new projects simultaneously.  
Actually, kind of a shocking number of projects, now that I have a minute to list them out.
First up is this Hanukkah table runner, made from some laminated pinstriped cotton I've been hoarding for 2 years. I was basting in this shot, and will be FMQing this weekend.  The goal is to have this ready for our BMQG December meeting, which I'm hosting.  Imagine this with cookies all over it.

I'm also making Hanukkah bunting, using this tackily awesome fabric I got at Marden's during our last retreat in Kennebunk. It was like 12 cents a yard, since, you know, Hanukkah fabric in Maine?

On top of my holiday projects, I'm pulling and cutting for a quilt inspired by traditional African textiles I spotted on Pinterest.   I give most of my quilts away, but this "Field Study" print by Anna Maria Horner is my FAVORITE of hers, ever, and this one is staying with me.  I'm hoping to do some hand-quilting on this.  
Also in the "artful pile" phase is a mound of sunset-inspired fabrics that will ultimately be a quilt for my niece, Rachel.  I'm considering doing a watercolor-concept "Storm at Sea" paper piece top with these.   I probably have a week or 2 of thinking left on this, before I commit to a concept.

Finally, I have a long-term "Around the World" block quilt underway, although doesn't everyone?  I'm thinking of turning this into some kind of large-scale HST concept, but am still noodling on the idea.

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre? 
I'm not sure it does.   Does it?  I would say my color palette is somewhat unique - I use almost none of the bright/primary colors I tend to associate with modern quilting.  Also (don't kill me) I really don't tend to use solid fabric all that often.   My Kona stash is skimpy, to put it mildly.  

When I use a "solid" in my work it's often textural (linen) or some kind of subtle pattern, like a crosshatch.  I also use a better-than-average amount of non-quilting-cotton fabrics.   In the case of a quilt I just finished for my niece, I went with a pinstriped garment linen to avoid using a solid:

3. Why do I write/create what I do? 
Like many of my quilting friends, the time I spend sewing is the most peaceful time I have during the average week.   I am more present in the sewing process than in just about any other moment of my hectic life.  In other words, I do this because the process of creating quilts is relaxing to me.  I can't meditate for shit, but I can do this for hours and not worry about anything.

4. How does my writing/creating process work?

I'm not sure it works the same on every project, but generally I have a color inspiration or an image that gets stuck in my head, and that's the jumping off point for a sketch that turns into a quilt.   I enjoy improvisational piecing, but only do it with a color story in mind first.   This challenge quilt from last year is a great example - I bleached the challenge fabric to arrive at a color story I could live with, then went improv on the piecing.


Next up on the blog tour is my friend Jen, of A Quilting Jewel.  Jen is a paper piecing master and pattern designer, whose work has been featured in many print publications, including Fat Quarterly, American Quilter, and Modern Quilts Unlimited.  We've known each other since 2010, when we both became founding members of the BMQG.  Enjoy!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Ethan's baby quilt

My most "dude" baby quilt to date.

Backed in part of an Ikea duvet.