Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Jacquie Gering and Craftsy and news!

Marny here…We first met Jacquie Gering in person following a Schoolhouse talk at Quilt Market several years ago.  She came up out of the audience afterwards and warmly told us that "we get it".  We were speaking on modern design elements in our quilts.  

We have followed her blog, Tallgrass Prairie Studio, since before Modern Quilt Relish was off the ground.  Jacquie is independent, warm, encouraging, kind and creative and a founding member of the Modern Quilt Guild.  Very importantly, she is a wonderful public speaker and a great teacher who clearly loves sharing what she knows.

So when I read here that Jacquie had a new Craftsy class a week ago I was hooked.  It is called Creative Quilting with your Walking Foot.  In a word, awesome!  Learning new things is both a joy and overwhelming for me.  Jacquie keeps all the joy and takes care of the overwhelming.  She delivers her information in such an organized fashion, both visually and verbally reinforcing each step along the way, that you feel empowered to give it a try!  I will be quilting with my walking foot.  

The Craftsy platform is fantastic.  The class is beautifully filmed, seamlessly edited, and great fun to watch.  You have the ability to back up, speed up, ask questions, make comments, make written notes, mark parts of the videos you want to remember and go back to, get help from the instructor or fellow classmates, etc.   I am a convert.  It was just so dang enjoyable!  

Now, some Big News!!!  We are so excited to share that we are working on a book, to be published by Stash Books in October 2015.  Seems like a very long time from now, but deadlines loom and we will be busy, busy, busy.

Leaving you with a touch of color!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Nine Patch Quilt Creation

jill here....This past weekend was the reunion retreat in the Chicago.  It was the nine-patch connection to make all those blocks into a donation quilt(s).  Dorothy's Snappy Nine Patch pattern motivated us to create many blocks to supply our donations beyond next year.

The challenge was how these multicolored blocks could come together in a unified  presentation.  Keeping in mind the quilt is for an auction to an eclectic audience, polychromatic (many colors) can sometime be difficult to pull off when the tonal undertones are very different.  Some of the colors were clear and more saturated and others had a more "earthy" undertone.  We divided the clear more jewel colors from the brown, golds and reds.  This process enabled us to make an analogous statement:  always easier  to design and pleasing to the viewer.

The variation in values make the predictable setting interesting.  The alternating blocks of solid gave the eye a place to rest and enlarged the size.  It finished about 50 x 58...a nice sized throw, easy to snuggle under!

This is the second color option.  The reds and greens are complements with the gold   As you can see, the brown undertones unify. The contributors different fabrics makes it interesting.  It's set on point for a different variation. The inner alternate blocks in a lighter value. give a focus to the center and create another opportunity for quilting emphasis

We agreed that it's a lot of fun to sew one of these projects together.  Not only does it go much faster but it's an opportunity to laugh and converse with someone other than yourself.  A gift for both the giver and the recipient!  Good memories, thanks ladies.

'till next Tuesday.....

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Michael Miller Petal Pinwheels MQG Challenge

Marny here…we are excited to announce we have a throw size quilt project in the Spring 2014 Modern Patchwork issue.  We haven't gotten our hands on a copy yet, but they can be ordered or downloaded here.  Can't wait to see our copy and share it!  We loved the quilt.  It uses a set of 10" squares of Carolyn Friedlander's Botanics and additional background.  
Spring 2014 Modern Patchwork

Yeah!!  Presenting a little bundle of the Michael Miller challenge fabric.  Emily tied it with baker's string, too cute!  Jill and I are both planning on participating.  

The entire Petal Pinwheels collection can be see here on the Michael Miller site.

From left to right…

  • The gray is the only one not part of Petal Pinwheels.  It is part of the Atomic Tabbys line and is called "starjacks"  You can see that entire line here.
  • The next is "petal garland" on an aqua plaid of fine lines
  • Followed by "tile pile" in kind of a melon
  • The multicolored "pegs a plenty" is super useful.  Use it as a stripe?  Run it which way?
  • Then a darker solid, "cotton couture" in coral
  • And last but not least, "petal pinwheels" itself on a yellow plaid of substantial lines
Don't you just love how they name things?

The rules of the challenge are here on the Modern Quilt Guild site.  We can make anything we want, as long as it is quilted.  We don't have to use all the fabrics we received.  And, we can add any Michael Miller fabric or solids.  The winner is announced July 8th.

The pretty little bundle has so much potential.  The pressure is on!  Hopefully some wonderful idea will take shape and blossom!  Get it?  Petals, blossom.  It is Spring!  Smiles all around.

Till Tuesday…  

Tuesday, April 1, 2014


 jill here....Spring finally arrived with a gust of warmer weather.  I'm certainly grateful that there is movement in the right direction.  The seasonal change caused me to switch out the kitchen soffit display, with the help of my ladder lifting husband.  Even he was agreeable.

I have a large collection of rabbits and bird houses but decided on the "less is more".  The quilt can hold it's own.  I made it over 10 years ago but alas, there is no label.  The pattern was designed by Marge Edie in  Bargello Quilts, ( Martingale in 1994).  It is one traditional style, evolving from needlepoint embroidery, that truly intrigues me.

Fireflies (as named by the designer) was somewhat of a technical challenge.  Once the strata were created, they were strip pieced to a gridded foundation.  Lots of little pieces, all rectilinear in shape, create the curvilinear shapes with they're staggered values.  Of course, the value gives it the depth and focus (wander where you've heard that before)! The lights next to the darks give it that luminescent quality.  I added a quilted layer with a few curves and faced the edge.  This baby is heavy.

Okay, one birdhouse adjacent to the quilt!

Our wren house has a new base and a vacancy sign out.
'Till next Tuesday...

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

more Dorothy's Snappy 9 Patches

Marny here…following your requests, here is a link for a printable 2 page pdf of Directions for Dorothy's Snappy 9 Patches written and illustrated by Mary Beth.  We want to thank Mary Beth and Dorothy again for permitting us to share the clever illustrations and the timesaving technique.  Jill discussed the steps in more detail accompanied by pictures in the previous post.

More 9 Patches for the donation quilt.

Now two reminders.  First, described last post but a visual reminder here.

Sounds like fun!  
Next, we want to share an exciting event our Des Moines Modern Quilt Guild has to offer.  Here is a link to the guild site post.  We are having a Trunk Show and Workshop with Amanda Jean Nyberg of Crazy Mom Quilts and author of Sunday Morning Quilts, April 11 & 12.  Check your calendars, check out the guild post and get yourself counted if you are interested.  

Till Tuesday…

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Dorothy's Snappy Nine Patches

jill here....Marny and I are members of Quilters By Design, a group that was started from a week(s) of quilt camp in Chicago nearly 10 years ago.  We now meet annually for a retreat in the spring (and other times for some, depending on time and location).  The personnel and retreat accommodations of the Loretto Center in Wheaton, Illinois have been kind to us.  We have offered, in gratitude, a donation quilt for their annual auction. Preparations for next year's auction are in the works; we are assigned the nine patch block.  

The quilt's unifying factor is a collection of print fabrics:"Mendi" designed by Funquilts for Free Spirit.  Our charge is to add complementary solids or near solids to make these blocks.  Mary Beth, our very creative illustrator has graciously shared her rendition of Dorothy's nine patch version.

Dorothy is truly a character who adds much levity to our group.  It seems that most of her sewing and creations are given as gifts.  Her comments are known as "Dorothyisms".  Mary Beth and Dorothy have given us permission to share this recipe.  It's fun and allows one to produce many blocks quickly!

Nine inch strips cut into squares.

A variety of  colors in shot cottons were paired with the prints

Right sides together, each pair was sewn on two sides.

The square was sliced into thirds and matched up.

Once sewn, the seams were pressed open.

Squared up, right sides together, the opposite block was seamed
across the pieced ends.

Cut again into thirds, the middle strips were sewn to the
appropriate side of the blocks.

And in a snap, you have 2 blocks per combination! 

Dorothy, this is a good method to remember!  Many thanks!

On another note,  we received a message from our former co-worker Jan. She is now associated with the museums at Iowa State University and would like us to share information on a textiles event.  Sometimes we forget that we have a wonderful resource in our own back yard!  Looks like fun and fabric...what can be better!

'Till next Tuesday.....

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The value of fabric choices

Marny here…we strive to provide depth and focus in our quilts through the use of color and value.  It makes our quilts a bit more special and adds a taste of the unexpected…yes, we've discussed this before, but it really is the first step we go through when auditioning fabrics for our new pattern ideas.   The Spring Quilt Market is just around the corner, so join in our process for a bit.
Here is a grouping of eight fabrics.  There are seven folded and they are lying on the eighth.    It is good to see that a variety of textures and scales and patterns are represented.  See Step 1.

Steps we use for auditioning fabric for specific spots within a quilt.
  1. Recognize which fabrics work together well looking at color, scale, intensity, value and pattern.
  2. Sort by value, that is, sort from light to dark.  You may need to do this for all the fabrics overall and again within color families depending on your pattern.  Almost all quilts benefit from a range of values being represented.  I used the black and white effect in iPhoto to easily show the range of values among my fabrics.  (You can also step back and squint, use a viewfinder on a camera, or a "ruby beholder" if you have one.  I've heard the little "eye" you stick in a door to see who is knocking also works.  Using iPhoto was just my method.)
  3. Make sure any desired effects, like transparency, are possible with your chosen fabrics.
  4. Make sure the focus is understandable and/or the pieced shapes you want to be seen are noticeable. 
  5. All that being said, there should be some energy and excitement among the fabric, design and quilting or the end product will be too bland or boring. 

Proof there is also a wide range of values from light to dark here.  
Also part of Step 1.  

The fabrics are arranged from the lightest to the darkest. (Step 2)  The solid creamy yellow background is underneath.  Right from the get go it is easy to see the values of the background and the folded light green solid shot cotton are too similar to be used side by side effectively.  

The dotted fabric at the lower edge of the photo is darker in places than the solid light green, but unfolded it appears lighter on the design wall.  There are large areas of cream in its overall pattern.

If you are in a quilt store you can line up your bolts from dark to light on a table, cart or even the floor to get an idea if you are on the right path. 

These photos represent checking for effective transparency in the intersection.  A vertical band of dark valued teal and a light valued horizontal band of green intersect with one another.  The intersecting fabric does share color characteristics of both the other fabrics so intellectually it seems like a good intersection.  But the values of the dark teal and the intersection print are just a bit too close to one another for a transparent effect to work for the planned design.

The green horizontal has remained, but a medium dark valued vertical teal and a darker valued print with green have been substituted.  It is believable.  Not necessarily what we'd hoped for, but it works.

Then the medium dark textured tries its turn as the intersection and the darker print becomes the vertical.  Now the horizontals seem too close in value.  

This illustrates too much competition between prints,
 distracting from the intersection concept.

(Step 4)  This is a great Joel Dewberry fabric that we wanted to use in pretty big pieces.  As much as we like this fabric and how it looked cut up (awesome) it didn't give us the focus we needed in our design.  Its overall print did not stand up against the graphic lines and intersections that were planned for the rest of the quilt.  Hopefully it will find its own special home on a quilt in the near future.

So Step 5.  Kind of tricky to give any guidance on this one, bland and boring is in the eye of the beholder.  Go with your instincts, it is you quilt afterall!  Just keep the thought that sometimes your least favorite fabric is the one that gives life to the quilt, or the unplanned juxtaposition of two fabrics you were sure wouldn't work adds some energy, or a turned block lights the quilt up, or whatever.  Surprises are sometimes the best part of quilt making.

Till Tuesday…