Sunday, December 23, 2012

FMQ Update

The last post ended with a bit of a cliff hanger. I'm sure you have been asking yourselves, 'What Happened Bernadette?!?' Well, your long-awaited answer is here. Free motion quilting is a lot of fun. As I was going along I began to remember tips that I had read on other websites. Now I know understand what everyone was saying. (These pictures show the back. The quilting shows up much better there)

Here is a list of things that I learned. These are all things that I had heard before but they never made sense until I tried it.  

1) Start in the middle and work your way out. I kind of did this but I also left bits (in the middle - that space in between the 'crop circles') that I thought I would go back and do. This is going to be difficult because this middle area now has quilting on all its sides boxing it into a perfect bubble. I'm unsure how to proceed with this. 

2) Choose a small pattern so that you can motion freely with small movements. Initially, I decided that these big circular movements would be a great idea. It was not. I had to move the quilt around a lot and this resulted in a lot of tugging, repositioning and therefore lots of little jagged seams instead of smooth motions. The meandering bits in the corners were a whole lot easier to do and the stitching is smoother and more consistent.

3) Pin. Pin. Pin. Then pin some more. 

Will definitely be doing more of this next year. 

Happy Holidays! 

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Sandy Quilts

Thank you Michele from Quilt Bloggers for arranging a block drive to make quilts for those effected by Hurricane Sandy. I signed up to make four. And I did and sent them off. Then I thought, 'Come on Bernadette, you can do better than that'. So I made more, and more blocks. Then it became a quilt top. Funny how these things just happen.

I was inspired by (copied the design from) Helen. Thanks Helen!

I'm now going to attempt to quilt it the real way. I had such success with the straight line quilting, how hard can free motion be? I have this special foot that my mom gave me over the summer. I've been too intimidated to take it out of the box. But I just did and I put it on the machine!

 Baby steps. There were also two extra pieces in the package.

I'm not sure what they are for. Maybe they are just extras like those miscellaneous bits that come with Ikea furniture. Ok. Here goes.... oh but maybe I'll start in a minute. I really should update this blog first.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Back again so soon!

That's right. Two posts in two weeks! Today I went to the NYC Metro Mod Guild meeting. It is always so inspiring. I showed my summer challenge quilt (a little bit late); a baby quilt using Thomas Knauer fabrics. I was happy to give it to the Sandy Quilt drive. 

It had been brought to my attention that the quilt design resembles a hurricane, and perhaps the recipient might not see any humor in the irony. But the guild concurred that the resemblance wasn't strong enough to worry about. 

This was also my first foray into straight line quilting. It was surprisingly easier than I had imagined! I think I'll do a lot more of this. 

Update: Here is a link to a photo of me showing the finished product at NYC Metro Mod guild meeting. Thanks for the photo Jess!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Where have I been?

In New York mostly. But busy. When there is a spare moment I am faced with the decision. Quilt or blog. Quilting usually wins. Sorry about that dear followers. 

I'm sure you are asking yourself, 'Busy? Come on Bernadette, busy doing what?!' Well, first off, my sweet sister had foot surgery. She's fine, thanks for asking. But I have made several pillows for her recovery. Which is going really well (thanks to the pillows).

I especially like this one. I messed the proportions up a little and ran out of room for the 5th toe. Which prompted a discussion about Elaine Zayak. Apparently there are lots of things you can do without all the parts of your foot. This is excellent news for my sister who now only has one of her sesamoid bones.  

More soon... (really, I promise.)

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Steampowered Rocket!

I got a new iron! It is light years better than the old travel iron that I had been using. The new one is fantastic and it looks like a spaceship, don't you think?

I'm not sure where the old one came from. I remember taking it to college with me. It was old then. It still works. Kind of. My only complaint is that it drools when it has water in it. So you get big wet patches. But it still makes fabric flat. 

I feel that having kept the iron in working order for so long, I am in a position to advise others on how to keep their irons going for years. The secret (in my experience) is to use it sparingly. Ask yourself, do I really need to iron that t-shirt? Probably not. Should I worry about these fold marks in my jeans? no. Does the fabric need to be ironed. Maybe sometimes.  

I hope the new iron lasts as long as the old one. 

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Tale of Two Couches

There once were two sisters living in a sunny Brooklyn apartment. The sisters liked open spaces for yoga and dance parties so their small apartment was minimally furnished. But it did have a couch. Much like the sisters themselves the couch came to the apartment by chance.  The little black couch was  a sidewalk find too perfect to pass up (from a time when bedbugs weren't a major threat). As time went on the perfectly suited couch aged. The springs gradually gave and the cushions sank to the point where sitting down gave you a close-up view of your knees. It had to go.

The sisters looked all over New York for a new couch. Finally they found it. It was perfect. The perfect height, the perfect length, a nice color. It looked fantastic and at a really great price.

The sisters couldn't wait for it to be delivered. Then it was. And they sat on it. (for the first time). Then they realized that you should sit on a couch before you buy it. It was less comfortable than the broken one. Whoops.

By now you are asking yourself, what does this have to do with quilting?  And the answer is pillows. They make it slightly more tolerable to sit on. Slightly. But they look great.

UPDATE: Third time's a charm! We finally found a winner. This couch is so comfortable. The best part about the new couch? The upholstery is really ugly.  Why is this good news? Because when it is covered in a sheet it makes the pillows stand out. Do you see that there on the left side? That's right, more pillows to cover! Can you tell I'm excited?

Sunday, June 17, 2012

A Family Quilt

In February, Kim, a woman in the NYMod guild was interviewed for the QSOS project. She talked a lot about the other quilters in her family and how they collaborated on quilts. Inspired, I went home and called my mom. She was thrilled at the idea. So we started buying fabric. And more fabric and more fabric.
We chose this block. I saw it somewhere online. I'm sure it has a name. We made tons of these.
I mean tons!
We have decided to arrange the blocks so that the whole quilt looks like one big block. Of course this is going to result in one massive quilt. A massive quilt that is sitting in a bag at the moment. But hopefully it will get done this summer. Thanks mom, you rock.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Into The Deep

Behold! A quilt that takes you to infinity and beyond. This is The Vortex Quilt. Although I've been told that it also looks like parachuting jellyfish, an image that I quite like. I am very happy to have finally finished this! (thanks to Chris at the guild meeting for taking this picture)

It all started with this- a circular rotary cutter. It is so much fun! The point on the right marks the center and the mini rotary blade on the left side cuts a circle. You can adjust the size of the circle along the yellow arm. It's a fantastic contraption. I just kept making all sorts of circles and ended up with a pile of these purple and teal circles.

 I wasn't quite sure what to do with them. The original idea involved sewing them onto squares and then sewing the blocks together. But somehow that seemed like cheating, cheating the circles out of their glory. Sewing them to squares just doesn't do the circles any justice. So then they were going to be floating in space. Then I decided the space needed some sort of movement, a vortex.

I now know why quilt blocks are so popular. Quilting large curves is a huge pain. Luckily I had a little help from my pop. He is an architect with access to a large printer. He printed out the swirl design on two large pieces of paper and I cut the swirl strips using the paper as a pattern. It wasn't so bad. I was worried that at the end it wouldn't lie flat. But it did with the help of my trusty little iron.

I doubt I'm the first quilter to come up with this, but I'm giving myself credit for the discovery anyway, I've named it The Forward Press. You sew the curve like you think it should go. Then you open it up. Snip the seam allowance and iron. At this point, the curve will naturally do it's own thing and the curve may fall anywhere between an inch and a eighth of an inch away from the original seem. I then press this natural curve and re-sew along the pressed crease. The Forward Press. If you haven't figured it out by yourself, you read it here first. Unless you read it somewhere else.

This quilt got done by the deadline. My interview for QSOS oral history project. I had to bring in my 'touchstone' quilt. And since I've given away  all the other quilts I've made, I had to hurry up and finish this one. This was the first one I've ever made that wasn't to give away to someone else (it feels a bit selfish- not a lot, just a little). Thanks to David who conducted a great interview and gave me the always motivating deadline.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Brooklyn Quilt Show

One of the other things that have been keeping me busy is the Brooklyn Quilt show. I was very proud that The Fat Quilt that I made was on display with some of these amazing quilts. Here are a few, they were all spectacular. The show was an impressive collection of talent, like the one on the left by my friend Melissa and the one at the very bottom (you may recognize a certain good-looking quilter and her gorgeous sister in the photo).


The good news is that I've been doing a lot of quilting. The bad news is that that leaves little time for blogging. The good news is that now I have a lot to write about. I know you've had to wait. It will be worth it trust me. However, now I have a decision to make. Should I update all my projects at once? Can you handle the onslaught of fantastic fabric art? Or should I break the fabulousness slowly and drip feed you project by project? Lets start small. I finished a name tag for the guild name tag swap. I drew my friend Jen. She is into healthy eating and seems to always be either quilting with or wearing purple. So I automatically thought, what is healthy and purple? No, not the hamburglar. I thought of an eggplant! I think the nametag came out really well. In the picture the eggplant looks blue but it is a rich purple, I promise. I had a lot of fun with this mini project. I'm looking forward to making nametag for Nichole.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

My blog is a UFO

Today I bought these cute shoes. One of the first things I thought when I walked out of the shop was- ohh another shoebox to put those blocks in until I get around to finishing that quilt!

Then I thought 'you know, I really should write a blog post today.' But then I thought, 'what I really should do is just work on that quilt.'

There will always be a blog post to write and a quilt to finish. But today I am going to make soup and enjoy the sunshine. At least I can cross new shoes off the list of things to do.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

You don't want to miss this!

Susan Sato, Myrah Brown Green and members of the Quilters Guild of Brooklyn have an exhibit at the Brooklyn Public Library at Grand Army Plaza.
The quilts are spectacular.

Go check it out!

Monday, February 20, 2012

First Quilts

This was my first quilt. Not the first one I made, but the first one I ever had. My Great Aunt Betty made this for me when I was a baby. The patches are scraps from polyester pant suits. As a kid I loved all the colors and the raised textures of the fabric. It is so warm!

Thirty-something years later this is still my favorite quilt. It was on my bed when I moved away to college, and has padded boxes in numerous subsequent moves. It has been on countless picnics and covered lots of ugly sofas. 
I have made quite a few 'first quilts' for my friends' children. Today I finally finished the binding on a quilt for Miles. His mom and I traveled in Asia together and I got a bit carried away with the Asian prints as you can see the effect is somewhat dizzying. whoops.

 I was thinking of all the young people I have made quilts for; Nathalea, Danae, Phineas, Marann, and Quincy Clementine. I don't have pictures of any of these but here is one that I made for Naomi Pearl.

I wonder, which of these quilts will inspire a quilter?

Saturday, February 18, 2012

And Then There Were Three...

This paper piecing is addicting. I'm not sure what I'm going to do with these or how many more I'm going to make but they are great for sewing as you chat in a cafe or sit on the couch watching movies.

And one more on the way...

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Fabric Reincarnation

Have you ever seen the movie "The Dress"? It's a dark Dutch film that follows a dress from its design through various hemlines and second hand shops to scraps. Everyone who comes into contact with the dress has incredibly bad luck. Not a feel-good pick-me-up movie. But what I liked best was seeing the various reincarnations of the fabric. (Spoiler Alert) It kept me watching as all the characters died off. Anyway, anyone who has ever been to a fabric store with me might be surprised to find out that I like to repurpose fabric.

Here is a photo of me wearing a skirt that my friend Lilo gave me. It was taken in 2005.  I am outside Lebanon, Kansas at the geographic center of the contiguous United States! Definitely an outing that called for a cute skirt. Lilo and I lived together in Miami, now she lives in Ibiza and I haven't seen her in years. But I have fantastic memories of going to the beach with her, running into the waves, and screaming and shouting in that way you can only do at the beach without looking completely insane.

I'm sure Lilo got this skirt second hand, she got everything second hand. I loved this skirt. The colors are great and it was so comfortable. But its soft faded look became washed out and my style has moved on a bit. But all is not lost. Now the skirt is a quilt!

I'm not one for quilt patterns, I always am certain that I can figure out the blocks by myself. And everything went well until I had to trim the blocks down and I lost all the points. I need to practice making my own patterns. This picture shows the resulting zig zag lattice still has a nice effect from this distance. I don't know how many people wore this skirt besides Lilo and I and I don't know who might use the quilt after me. But it's interesting to imagine.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Orange and Green Invasion

 It all started at Jessica's house. I picked out this lovely assortment of colors to take to her stitch 'n bitch. As per usual I paid no attention to color value, light or dark and just picked the colors that caught my eye. I generally gravitate towards bright colors. I am conscious that this tendency often results in quilts looking infantile or clown-y. So I tell myself to try and be careful -but who wants to be careful when it comes to selecting fabric anyway? Not me, I throw caution to the wind.

I was excited to start something new- because why finish an old project you have when you can start a new one? I was inspired and started making these fractured zig zag blocks. But something went wrong, the colors just didn't work very well. There isn't enough light and dark contrast between the oranges and greens to make this pattern work well. So I set the blocks aside until I figure out what to do with them. Maybe if I add some yellow or blue? How about brown? Any thoughts?

So logically, I started another new project.

I loved the look of Jessica's rose star. And she made it look so easy. I have never tried EPP. But so far so good. I have all the pieces basted on pieces of construction paper that I cut myself. I also outlined the hexagon with a sharpie before I cut so there is the potential for my pieces to be a bit inconsistent. I will let you know once I start sewing it together.

But did you notice anything? Again with the green and orange! 
It is possible that my orange and green phase started long ago. I've been thinking a lot about this color combination and I realized that this winter, I have been pairing my green jacket with   this fantastic hat that I got in Kyrgystan (purchased in 2008- and modeled with a green shirt in the picture seen here). There is no escaping, orange and green are taking over!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

15 minutes?

Thank you E for introducing me to 15 minutes of play. I have to admit that while I love the idea I'm having a few problems. I have come to the conclusion that you ladies are either speedy quilters or have an incredible amount of self discipline because I just simply can't stop at 15 minutes! How in the world do you do it?
Is there such a thing as quilter time? You know, like dog years. If 1 dog year is 7 (?) human years, does 15 minutes of play in quilter time equal 2 hours of regular time?
Either way, I have put together these lovely purple blocks and an idea for a floral quilt. (Really Bernadette? Floral? Is this you typing? You are not a floral kind of gal! What is happening? Where is the real Bernadette? Maybe she is lost in a quilter time warp.)

Sunday, January 1, 2012

A Phat Quilt

My friend studies lipids. One day he showed me a model of how the fat molecules naturally assemble to form these layers, which then happily attach themselves to the cells on your belly and the underside of your upper arm. I was struck by the bold geometric pattern and immediately thought that they would make a great quilt. Here it is, "The Fat Quilt". 

When you think about it, there are many ways that lipids are like quilts.
1) They accumulate gradually, small pieces at a time, and before you know it you have enough to share!
2) They can keep you warm in the winter.
3) They both are a lifestyle.
4) Both are difficult to get rid of. 

I love this quilt.

This was my first attempt at long arm quilting. The woman at the quilt store was supremely annoyed that not only had I pieced the back (oh the horror!) but I had also failed to square the sides off exactly. She sighed exasperatingly and shook her head every time she looked at it. She also told me at least a dozen times that I needed to take her basic quilting techniques class.  No, thank you.

Once I got it all set up and pinned on, the long arm was a lot of fun. I may have gotten a bit carried away and the result is reminiscent of 'Harry and the Purple Crayon'. But I think it goes well with the circular theme of the quilt. Don't you?