Friday, November 23, 2012

What Happens to Your Stray Blocks?

We're planning programs for the upcoming year in our guild, and decided to repeat a fun one that we did several years back. We called it the "Orphan Block Project". I'm sure many of you have those stray blocks tucked away in your sewing room. Maybe you made one or two practice blocks before starting a quilt, or possibly you have a few extra blocks left from a completed one. What to do with those blocks? They're too pretty to toss, so we hang on to them and clean around them from time to time. Well for our project, we pooled our blocks at one meeting. Everyone who brought a block "shopped" first to choose someone else's orphans. Then we opened the shopping to the entire membership. We had so many offerings that quilters were able to choose three or four blocks or sets of blocks. The next challenge was to turn the blocks into a completed quilt in time for the "Birthday Party", complete with a cake and root beer floats. Members had several months to complete their projects, and there were some beautiful results. That's the quilt I made above. I used the design book "Beyond the Block" by Linda K. Johnson and Jane K. Wells to come up with this lively quilt. Can you guess which block was the "adopted" one? It's the big red/green star in the center. It was great fun coordinating the other fabrics, blocks, and pieced units to go with it.

This red and green hand-appliqued block became the basis for a beautifully hand-quilted wall hanging. Now isn't that better than having this intricate block languish in a plastic bag or beneath a pile of UFOs?

Somebody's Star blocks combined with somebody else's Bow Ties to make this sweet lap quilt.

The bird looks at home in his lively surroundings!

Just look at this stunner! The Color Wheel block provided plenty of inspiration.

Someone else parted with a whole set of Bear Paw blocks. The quiltmaker created quite a treasure!

I can hardly wait to see what everyone comes up with this time. I'm gathering my orphan blocks. I've got several of my own, plus these two left from the last adoption. I didn't do anything with them, so I may bring them back for round two. The block above is fused applique and just needs the edge stitching added. The one below is meticulously hand appliqued. Somehow, other people's blocks just gave us all that added spark of inspiration needed to move these block to completion. Several of the projects became donation quilts, for which there is always a need.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Catching up on Quilt Blocks...

Well, it's time to get caught up on the Craftsy Block-of-the-Month patterns. I had missed a few of the months since summer. This month the instructor on the site is covering block layout and assembly. So it's definitely time to get these blocks completed. There are about 3 blocks I don't plan to make, so will have to determine if I want to replace them with another pattern or plan a quilt with fewer blocks.

It's been a fun series and the block patterns have included an assortment of different piecing methods. Quick triangle pieced squares, foundation piecing (I haven't done that block yet), curved piecing, improvisational piecing... instructor Amy Gibson demonstrated a lot of sewing techniques.

I'm a fan of wheel blocks like this one and the Dresden Plate below, so I definitely wanted to include these in my quilt. The center circle is done using machine stitched lined applique which is turned right side out and then stitched in place. No raw edges to turn under, and a perfect circle.

A new tool I purchased and found very useful for this project is the Olfa turntable. The cutting mat top turns easily so you don't have to move your ruler or the fabric pieces to trim around a shape. I'd been considering one of these for some time, and am glad I got it now. It was just right for cutting the 20 fan blades for each of these wheel blocks.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

At the Quilt Show...

The dust has begun to settle after the Country Road Quilters show this weekend. One of the nearly 150 quilts exhibited was this lovely French Baskets quilt by Jill Allen. The quilt earned the Viewers' Choice award, along with second place in the applique category, plus an award for Best Hand Quilting. You can see a detail of the meticulous stitching below. While putting on a show is a lot of work for those involved, the result is worth it. Seeing a body of work that represents the talent within a guild exhibited all at once is so impressive. So enjoy a little glimpse of the show.

Quilts ranged from small to large. This Wheel of Mystery by Freda Jones earned the first place ribbon in the Miniature category. I love this traditonal curved pattern. Just imagine making it in such a diminutive size!

Kay Smith won a first place award for her imaginative Florida's State Butterfly-Zebra Longwing. It has lots of dimensional elements and features Seminole-style patchwork in the borders. It was Kay's entry in the "Florida in Fabric" exhibition at the Ruth Funk Center for Textile Arts.

Here's an exquisite small applique quilt that is heavily thread painted. It was made by Beth Shutty, and is titled Goldfinch and Cornflowers.

My Mustard Quilt by Sharon Medley earned a matching "mustard-color" third place ribbon! Simple brick-style piecing as well as the color placement make this quilt so pleasing to look at. 

The rich color, beautiful fabrics, and artistic arrangement of design elements just draws me in. This is Eddie Mock's "The Gingko". The pattern is by Sew Bee It, and features fabrics by Lonni Rossi.

A number of the quilts shown were part of the Guild's Star Challenge. Beth Shutty made a photo transfer from a NASA Hubble telescope photo of an STS star cluster named NGC 3603. She then surrounded the image with foundation-pieced stars, machine quilted the piece, and embellished with Swarovski crystals. Quite heavenly.

The Judges Choice Award went to Kay Smith who made this original Seminole Meets NY Beauty quilt. Kay made this in answer to a previous Guild challenge, and she embellished it creatively. I'm sorry I don't have the Best of Show quilt to show you.. a Baltimore Album Quilt made by skilled applique artist Itsuko Andrews. It was stunning, but the photo keeps disappearing everytime I try to upload it! Oh wait, here it is. Persistence paid off. This is Itsy's Best of Show quilt, which also won first place in the applique category. And these are just a few of the beautiful entries.

There were plenty of opportunities to shop. I picked up this composition book with cover donated by Guild president Jean Whitney.  Plate and Wheel blocks may be my favorite among quilt patterns, even above the time-honored Log Cabin. But I have a lot of favorites. There was some spirited bidding at the Silent Auction. This little quilt I made and donated (pattern info here) brought a princely sum for the treasury. We had lots of outstanding vendors, too. Now to rest a bit, then gear up for the next show in two years.