Archive for the ‘Quilt Guilds’ Category

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Every year at the Merrimack Valley Quilt Guild, we have a program that consists of 3 different members talking about their journey in quilting.  I was honored when asked to talk about my journey.

I have been quilting since the mid-90’s.  So, if I brought all my quilts for a trunk show, it would take a lot longer than the time allotted. I had to narrow down the scope of my talk.

I thought you, my readers, might like to hear/learn about how I got started in quilting. Over the next few weeks, I will show you some of my earlier quilts and how color affected the resulting quilt.

color-from-the-heartOne of the reasons I got into quilting was because of a woman I worked with. She was creating some interesting quilts.  She and I got to be great friends.  Shauna’s work can be found on her site The Crafty Monkey.

One project we worked on together was a book, “Color from the Heart” by Gai Perry  This book looks at color theory from the quilter’s perspective.  This is where I started my talk.

“Color From The Heart” by Gai Perry has chapters discussing the color wheel as well as the texture and scale of prints.  But what I liked best were the 7 exercises/patterns which bring you through different ways of thinking about color, pattern, and scale of the print and how those choices affect the resulting quilt.

Spontaneity – The first exercise works through how colors, textures, and patterns work together.  You put squares in a bag and blindly pick from the bag as you arrange your squares.

This exercise works best if you are working with another quilter.  Especially if that quilter has a different fabric taste than yours.

When I worked through this exercise with Shauna, we had very different tastes in fabrics.  I lean more toward traditional, Shauna toward modern.  Our quilts came out quite different even though we shared fabrics.

Color Enrichment –  This exercise uses 2 colors to create broken dish block.  Using two colors with varying prints, textures, tones and scale of prints, you create a small quilt with broken dish blocks.  I chose burgundy and green.  Shauna chose teal and brown.  How different they look.

Value Recognition – This exercise guides you through finding dark medium and light of nine different colors.  This is to demonstrate that even though a yellow fabric may be lighter than say a red or blue fabric, it may actually be considered a dark in the yellow family.

I wasn’t sure what to do with this quilt once done. But I kept adding to it. It ended up almost twin size. It became a gift to a nephew for his 2nd or 3rd birthday.  I called my niece to get a picture.  They still use the quilt, even after 15 years.  It was great to see it again.  I had forgotten all that I added to that quilt.value-recognition

Contrast – This exercise we skipped.  It was using primary colors, yellow, blue and red, to make Cake Stand blocks.  At the time, I thought it was ugly.  Looking at it now. I think I might give it a go.

Inspiration – This exercise required you to find something, anything, to use as inspiration for color choices to make a trip around the world quilt.  I chose my drapery fabric. Shauna chose an album cover. The only piece of inspiration fabric I had left was made into a shoulder wrap. The drapes themselves have faded.

Visualization – This exercise delves more into the art quilt arena.  You were to choose a moment, person, place etc. With that choice in mind, you are instructed to choose fabrics that remind you of that moment, person, or place.  I choose my trip to Jackson Hole. My husband and I took a snowmobile vacation to Yellowstone and Togwotee Pass. The close up is of the snow fabric. There are clocks for the time change, buffalo, cowboys, mountains, deer, and wood for the boardwalks in Jackson.  I took the upper corners off because I didn’t like the direction of the wood grain.  I have yet to fix this.  Now I have to find where I put them.

The Artist Eye – Based on a border fabric of your choosing, you create various nine patch blocks that are placed on point with one patch blocks.  I love the way this quilt looks.  But I have become an impatient quilter.  If I can’t chain piece a bunch of blocks all at once, I’m less likely to start, never mind completing, the quilt. For this quilt, you audition different fabrics to make many different nine patch blocks, which is a bit more tedious than the strip piecing method of making them.the-artists-eye

There are many books on color theory for quilters.  I found “Color From The Heart” a book for those who want to understand color choices within a quilt without all the technical color wheel theories.  While color theory is important, it is not the only way to choose fabrics and colors for a quilt.

If you find it difficult to choose fabrics, or even if you don’t, I challenge you to get this book and work through the exercises.  Work through it with a friend or two.  I found I got more out of it seeing Shauna’s choices and how they varied from mine.

Do you have this book?  Have you done any of the exercises?  How has it affected your color choices since?

E-mail me some of your work from the exercises.  I would love to see them.


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This weekend was the Merrimack Valley Quilters Guild Annual Quilt Show.  (Boy, that’s a mouth full.)  I was pleasantly surprised.  The Mystery Blue quilt I entered to be judged won two ribbons.  One for 2nd Place for Machine Quilting,  the other for 3rd Place  in the Large Quilt Category.

My good friend Carol Sullivan also one a ribbon for 3rd Place for Hand Applique.  I had to laugh because she was some what critical of her applique job.  Tells you what she knows.  Way to go Carol!


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I love mystery quilts. I have made many of Debbie Caffrey Mystery Quilts.  I will be running Mystery Classes using Debbie Caffrey’s pattern at the Pine Tree Quilt Shop.  But this is not one of them.  If I showed you the quilt for the class, it wouldn’t be a mystery anymore.

This quilt I call “Mystery Blue.”   It will be on display this weekend at the MVQ quilt show in Plaistow NH.  And again next weekend at the Hanna Dustin Guild Show.  Click on the picture to see a slide show with closeups of the quilt.

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Raffle Quilt

Raffle Quilt

Back in April, I received the Raffle Quilt for the Dracut, MA guild,  Patchwork Pals.

It gave me the opportunity to try some new found designs.

I was not sure which designs I wanted to use in the center so I started with the borders.  The outermost border  is wider on the top and bottom than on the sides.  I needed to use a design that would not emphasize the difference in width.  I talked with my friend Katie, to bounce some idea off of her.  Sometimes it helps to have a sounding board.

Border treatments

Border treatments

I decided upon using a technique from a class I took with Deloa Jones.  She has a new border book out.  In that book, she has some designs that you use in mirror image.  I used one of her designs singly down the sides and as a mirror image on the top and bottom outer borders.

In the two smaller borders (1st and 3rd), I quilted a simple leaf vine.   In the 2nd border, I used another design from Deloa’s book.  She has a braided feather border.  I had seen it on a website selling digital design for computerized longarms.  I do not have a computerized system.  I was excited when I saw Deloa had included that design in the book. The braided feather has a simple yet elegant way of turning the corners with a swirl.

Corner of Main design

Corner of quilt center

Once I had completed the borders I started on the center.  All I knew I wanted to do was to outline and echo the appliques.   I also copied the smaller applique and repeated an outline of design in the  background.  Next I used a swirl leaf motif as a background fill.  I truly liked the way this quilt was coming out.

Now all that was left was the dark sections of the log cabin blocks.  I first tried to create a nice curving spine on which to quilt a feather.  I just could not create a spine that was pleasing.  It was either to deep or not even.  I ended up taking the quilt off the frame to lay it out so I could examine the quilt and work out a spine that would be pleasing.  Again, I turned to my friend Katie.  She has a couple of tools that would assist me in drawing a nice spine.

With tools in hand I laid the quilt out to start drawing.  With chalk, mind you.  Just plain ordinary white school chalk is a great way to mark a quilt.  It comes right off with the use of a red lint brush.

Anyway, I was looking at the quilt trying to decide upon how to make the spine, when it hit me.  Just use the edge of the logs as spines.  Now why couldn’t I have thought about that sooner.  I know what your thinking.  “Doesn’t she plan out her quilting before she puts the quilt on the frame?”  The answer is not always.  My brain doesn’t always work that way. I have found that some of the designs I have planed out just don’t work with the quilt.  Then I have to change mid-stream.  I really thought I wanted to do a nice swirling feather on this quilt.  But the quilt told me otherwise.

Feathered Logs

Feathered Logs

I ended up quilting in two nesting feathers along the logs of the blocks.  It was what the quilt called for.  For those of you who have done something similar, you understand.  No matter what you think might look good on a quilt, sometimes it tells you you’re wrong.   Always listen to the quilt,  it knows.   I know that sounds strange but sometimes it just happens that way.  So if you are stuck on a design, stand back and review everything you have done so far.  The quilt will let you know what it needs.  Just make sure you listen.  Sometimes it whispers.

The quilt will be viewed by the guild this Sunday.  I am positive everyone will like it.  I love the way is came out.

If you want to purchase raffle tickets, e-mail me or check out the guild website.  I’m sure they would love to sell you a ticket or two or more.


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Last May. Gyleen Fitzgerald came to speak at the Merrimack Valley Quilters Guild.  If you ever have the chance to see Gyleen in person, I would definitely recommend you do.  She has a unique way of looking at quilting. Her philosophy of going with the flow and make a beautiful quilt really inspired me.  Sometimes one gets bogged down in the preparation, causing us to lose the fun aspect of quilting.  Quilting should be fun!

Anyway, I was not signed up for her workshop, but after hearing her speak I wanted to attend.  That gave me one day to prepare for the workshop.  I needed at least 100 2″ strips cut by Saturday morning.  The guild meets on Thursday nights.   The workshop was for her pattern Anything Goes Star Tessellation.  You would think that after her lecture I wouldn’t stress out about the fabric I would choose for the workshop.  But nooo,  I had to find my inspiration fabric and choose fabrics which match my inspiration fabric.  I did follow the rule that the fabrics did not necessarily have to go with each other, but I wanted to match the inspiration fabric.

I feverishly pressed and cut all day Friday.  Luckily, I work from home.  Otherwise, I would not have been able to get this done.  By the way, I like to heavily starch all my fabrics before cutting.  I find I have better accuracy with cutting and sewing when the fabric is slightly stiff.  The fabric shifts less, therefore you are more accurate without trying too hard.  And yes, I go through a lot of starch.  So much so I started purchasing the concentrate so I can just mix up a batch as needed.  It’s much cheaper that way.

Anyway,  I got to the workshop with all my fabrics cut.  I had always wanted to make a star tessellation quilt but never wanted to spend the time planning out the tessellation.  With Gyleen’s pattern and instructions, you did not need to.  I had to see how she did this.

She was right, you don’t need to pre-plan a star tessellation in order to make it look good. I’m not going to tell you how it works you will just have to get her pattern.  But I will tell you it is so easy.  I couldn’t believe it.  You start with one block then build your first row. Once you complete your first row you move on to the next.  As you finish each row you sew them together.  Adding rows until the quilt it the size you want.  As usual, I never make anything small.  I put together 9 rows with 9 blocks each.  Which gave me an 81″ square quilt.

Some in the class used a background fabric, some used a specific color pallet.  We also set up a space for sharing strips.  I only took one of those.  I could see why she said anything goes.  I only got two rows made in the class.  But when I got home, I added more fabric to my selection.  It didn’t matter how well they matched each other.   I did keep to a specific color pallet, blues, burgundy, greens, browns, beige, dusty pink, golden yellows.  Well maybe not that specific, but I didn’t use purples or any bright colors and no blacks, greys or white.

Once I had all my rows together,  did I stop there?  Of course not.  I wanted to give the illusion of the stars tessellating into the border.  I used all of the lighter neutral fabrics and created half blocks for the first pieced border.  It doesn’t really look like a border. It just looks like part of the piecing.  But it really is a border.

The next border I attached is made up from the neutral scraps.  I pieced them together on the diagonal.  Then I put on three more borders, a burgundy, a taupe, and a green print with burgundy and taupe in it. (The last border is mitered.  The print has a strip effect that cried out to be mitered.)  Needless to say, it got big.  I think I ended up with 108″ square.

Center of Quilt

Center of Quilt

Now I was stuck.  How I was going to quilt it.   I asked my buddies from LANE ( Long Armers of New England). They gave me a few ideas.  I didn’t plan it but the quilt ended up with a light neutral in the center.

That became my starting off point.  I used a swirl in the center that came out into a star-flower design in the center 9 blocks.  I repeated a smaller version of the star-flower as a border around the larger one.  Followed by a fern feather, followed by more star flowers followed by another fern feather.  Then just a fern type meander in the corners of the main quilt area.Tesselation borders

In the pieced border that really doesn’t look like a border, I quilted half star flowers.  In the rest of the borders I quilted a ribbon, then swirls, a small wave, and lastly more ferns.

I love the way this quilt came out.  The colors just flow.  You can’t really see the quilting unless you get right on top of it.  Gyleen was right, “Anything Goes.”

Let me know what you think.  Do you like it?


CTesselation 2


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