Monday, April 13, 2015

Thoughtful Comments

I wanted to acknowledge and share some very insightful comments left on my previous post about Quilt Con trends. I had asserted that, "Traditional quilt shows typically praise the merits of near-perfection, pristine points, meticulous detail, and the ability to accomplish the seemingly impossible through countless hours of painstaking effort coupled with years of experience over all other aspects; modern quilts are valued more for their ability to evoke a response through a dramatic original design." (Please note that Quilt Con photographs are for the sake of visual beauty, rather than to illustrate the points being made.)
Christa of Christa's Quilts referred to this emphasis on design when she wrote, "I loved the quilts of QuiltCon because you could really see the heart and soul that went into each of them. I enjoyed viewing so may original compositions and appreciate that there was such an emphasis on aesthetics and design."
Without further ado, I'm going to share some lessons I learned from  the awesome folks who drop by my blogging home. I have taken brief experts from the comments to highlight specific realizations I have come to based on their insight, but I encourage you to read the full versions at my original post.
1. Appreciate the work of others.
What I happen to notice is that if I could be only 5% as good as these quilters then my life would be complete.
2. As Angela Walters says, "Don't forget the purpose of your quilt."
What if your point is not to have perfect points, even quilting, or always tied and buried threads? Would you judge a Gee's Bend quilt the same as you would the picture perfect quilts at the International Quilt Festival? There is a difference between sloppiness, indifference, or a lackadasical attitude and innovation, creativity, and invention. Of course, all is in the eye of the beholder, and one person's trash is another's treasure. For me, if I see a quilt that evokes an emotion, then I'm not all that interested in picking all the technical details apart. If someone sings a moving song with heart and obvious emotion, it doesn't matter if they are Whitney Houston or Celine Dion - if it touches you, you enjoy it. I enjoy my creations, and hopefully other people do, too. In the end, my creations are meant to comfort, provide warmth, and be laid on by dogs. Keepin' it 100! I guess I'm in it for the fun and experience, not the glory or the recognition. Though, those would be nice, too. :) In conclusion, if the judges at QuiltCon were looking for perfection, they might not have had so many spectacularly designed quilts, and I'll take interesting over boring any day...
3. Improving your technique is never wasted.

I have spent the last many years learning from better quilters than I and understanding the aspects that make quilts able to withstand a child dragging it around for years; going through many washings and a lot of tears as they face life.
For myself, I "think" I am more of a modern quilter than traditional, in that I love loads of negative space and bright colours, but then, my quilt designs tend to be based on more traditional blocks, albeit altered in some way or other, so am I modern or not I wonder? I do however bury my threads and put proper bindings on!
4. Competition, whether modern or traditional, subjects your work to public scrutiny.
I think there is a huge difference between the quilts I would do for cuddling by family and friends and those I would offer up for judging by peers.
Like you, my attitude is generally one of appreciation whenever anyone shares their quilt with me, in person, at a guild meeting or on their blog. And I can find something to love about any quilt, new or old, whether it's the design, the use of color or beautiful craftsmanship. But, given the thousands of quilts that were submitted to QuiltCon, I do wonder why the jurors for this (inter)national exhibit weren't able to select quilts with both exceptional Modern design AND good technique for this showcase?
What application have I derived from this? Here goes:
  • Pretend the quilt's maker is standing right behind me when I make commentary about a quilt. After all, it's quite possible. You know the phrase, "If you can't say something nice..." (Judges are exempted from this rule, and optimally provide useful critique while still being nice.)
  • Remind myself that others' opinions or my quilt's failure to receive professional accolades does not depreciate the value of my quilt or its personal meaning.
  • My quilting can always improve, but i's my choice how much perfectionism I want to apply to my work.
  • If I'm going to enter a competition, I'd better bring it. I also need to realize that no matter how much awesomeness I bring to the table, my quilt isn't going to be for everyone. As they say, "Different strokes for different folks," and "You can't please them all."
That should be enough cliches for one day, so I'll close by saying thank you to everyone for your thought-provoking and varied perspectives.
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Sunday, April 12, 2015

Q2 Finish-Along

It's time again for a UFO round-up of epic proportions. I'm linking up my massive selection of potential finishes with Adrianne at On the Windy Side.
2015 Finish-Along
To save hours of downward scrolling, a mosaic or two should do the trick. First, let's start with throwbacks from last quarter.
And for pure, unrealistic ambition, I'm adding a few newbies. These include adding to my animal parade, basting and quilting my mermaid round robin top, getting the rest of the blocks finished for the Moccasin BOM, wrapping up my Salt Water top from Quilt Bliss, putting together my pillow from Quilt Bliss the year before, figuring out a great layout for my strawberry blocks from the New Quilt Bloggers Bee, trying out the paper-pieced sea horse pattern I created, piecing together blocks for a charity fundraiser quilt, and binding my Floating Boxes quilt.
With 28 chances for success, I ought to be able to finish a minimum of one of these. Now, if I could just stop starting things. Yeah right!
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Friday, April 10, 2015

Freebie Friday - Succulents

Today I bring you some fun fabric finds, and pattern freebies. I've been eyeing Heather Givan's debut fabric collection for Windham since I saw her booth at market.
The Succulent Path quilt by Sarah at {No} Hats in the House really captured my attention. Fortunately, the free pattern is now available.
I truly adore the border prints included in the collection.
Another quilt that caught my eye was this paper-pieced wall-hanging by Amanda at Material Girl Quilts. You can pick up the free pattern off Craftsy. If you don't already have a Craftsy account, don't worry; it's free to sign up, and they have lots of free goodies on their user-friendly site.
While I'm one the subject of succulents, I wanted to mention the cactus pincushion tutorial I used for the Quilt Bliss swap, thanks to Ingrid at the Sewing Lab blog.

Thanks for joining me today. Is Succulents a line you'd add to your stash? Are you planning on trying out any of these projects?
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Thursday, April 9, 2015

Teacher Feature - Katie Pasquini Masopust

I had the pleasure of attending a composition class taught by Katie Pasquini Masopust, put on by one of my local traditional quilt guilds, NMQA. Katie opened the class by asking the students whether we considered ourselves right (creative) or left brained (logical), and whether we were traditional or art quilters. Ummm...I'm still waiting for some more options. She requested that we work in silence while listening to classical music. 
For someone who takes classes as much for a social outlet, as an educational experience, this was a bit torturous for me. Call me dramatic, but my typical creative environment involves much more, "Mom, look at this six-eyed alien!" than Mozart. Quiet really creeps me out since it usually means a roll of toilet paper is being tossed into the toilet or crayons are being applied to a medium other than paper. If I'm listening to orchestral music, and not getting a massage, I feel cheated. Apparently others do not feel the same way, because as I was commenting on how the satiny fabrics in Katie's quilts make the quilting stand out during a casual showing of her work, I got a serious shushing. How about you? Does classical music and silence put you in your right brain, or your unconscious brain? Tirade aside, Katie is incredibly talented and I'd like to show you a peek at some of her painting-inspired work from her aforementioned trunk show.
While Katie identifies herself as an art quilter, rather than a modern quilter, I consider the techniques she teaches very applicable to the modern aesthetic. I thought I'd share some of the concepts she presented, and some of the activities you could try in the comfort of your own home. For the first exercise, Katie had us select a magazine photo and a prepared set of fabrics prepared with paper-backed fusible that fit one of the color schemes shown in the section of her handout below. If you are following along at home, you may want to print a color wheel to assist with color selection.
I picked a photograph of a bridge and a bag of fabrics with a split complementary color scheme.
Next, we determined the compositional layout of the photo using a handout she provided (below). I determined that my photograph had a "Vanishing" composition.
Katie had us draw a border on our paper (a rectangular frame just inside the edges of the paper). She showed us a trick for scaling our paper to the proportions of our photo. Align the photo with the bottom and left-hand edges of the paper. Line up a ruler from corner to corner of the photo, and draw a line until you reach the edge of the paper. Draw a line straight across the page from this point. The smaller rectangular section will be outside the drawing parameters.
Then, we created a rough line drawing of our photograph that emphasized the compositional layout. Here's mine, which I retraced with permanent marker.
Next, we retraced our drawing to make a duplicate copy. Using the second copy, we cut our sketch on the lines so it resembled a jigsaw puzzle. Each piece was picked up individually, flipped to the reverse side, traced onto the fusible paper backing of whatever fabric we wanted to use. We cut out the fabric shapes, peeled off the paper backing, and fused the pieces onto copy paper. I'd like to interject some advice at this point. Using Heat & Bond on paper resulted in an unreliable hold, and a confetti-like scattering of pieces post-class. I would advise using Steam-a-Seam, and replacing the paper foundation with an inexpensive cotton fabric such as muslin. Also, instead of tracing multiple copies, I would make photocopies to save time.
Here's what my classmates created for the first exercise.
The samples have been organized by color scheme.
Alternative color schemes Katie mentioned were two warm colors plus one cool color, and two cool colors plus one warm color. She noted that cool colors receed, and warm colors appear to come forward. 
For the next activity, we picked another magazine photograph. Here's what I chose.
Katie asked us to create four frames on a piece of copy paper. In the first, we were to represent the photograph with circles. In the second frame, we used rectangles. The third represented the photo with triangles. In the final frame, a combination of circles, rectangles, and triangles was used.
After that, we picked our favorite, and redrew it on a full sheet of copy paper.
The next step was creating an improved version on a separate sheet. To accomplish this, Katie suggested to "engage the edge" which meant to have things that appear to extend past the edge of the piece, to add contrast, and to fill the negative space (SACRILEGE!). I took the later with a grain of salt, meaning I disregarded it entirely, because I love my negative space. Besides, were else is my crazy town quilting going to party down?
Finally, we were to create a simplified version to be used as a pattern for another fused sample.
My previous picture was as far as I got in class. Some would argue this was due to my frequent snack breaks and lack of silent focus. "Chest la vie," I would say. (Probably, just to break the uncomfortable silence.) Lucky for you, there were some well-behaved students who got more of their class work finished. How about some examples from those gals?
For students that finished both of these activities, Katie instructed them to make a new version of the second project that was based on an enlarged portion of the picture.
I think Katie's activities are very good ways to generate design ideas, and apply artistic principles to my quilts. I also love the samples I created, and could certainly see them as quilts.
So, what do you think? Are you going to try out these activities? Do you have a favorite from the student samples? Do you pick classes where you can visit with your friends, or do you value concentrated focus?
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Today's Tip - Other Uses for Your Cutting Mat

Welcome to another session of Today's Tip. If you're ever in need of a quick and easy way to measure your children, just place your cutting mat on the floor, line up their little feet with the 0" mark, and you've got it!
Thanks for having a little fun with me today!
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Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Mini Quilt Mania! Guest Post

Today I'm over at the Fort Worth Fabric Studio blog sharing my mini as part of the Mini Quilt Mania! Blog Hop.
Arrow Bird by Afton Warrick @ Quilting Mod
Stop on over to pick up the free paper-piecing pattern for my 18" x 18" mini featuring April Rhodes' Wanderer, Maureen Cracknell's  Wild & Free, and coordinating Kona solids.
Arrow Bird by Afton Warrick @ Quilting Mod
I'll be sharing a few tips on paper piecing and free-motion quilting too.
Arrow Bird by Afton Warrick @ Quilting Mod
Also, don't forget to check out the other amazing minis on the Mini Quilt Mania! Blog Hop.
April 1st : Lindsey - FWFS
April 2: Melissa - My Fabric Relish
April 6: Nettie - FWFS Pattern Tester
April 8: Afton  - Quilting Mod
April 13: Amanda - The Cozy Pumpkin
April 14: Trina - Will Cook For Shoes
April 21: Heather - Quilts Actually
April 22: Wendy - Sugarlane Quilts
April 27: Paula - The Sassy Quilter
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