Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Bits and Pieces

As I was pulling photos for today, I realized I hadn't shown you my mini challenge from the Ninigret Quilters show. We were provided with a fat eighth of the brown print with polka dots. Since I had taken a class with Vanessa Christenson, I was eager to play with her ombre fabrics. I used Karen Kay Buckley's Perfect Circles to prepare the applique. After a few days of hand work, I went to town with some tiny machine quilting. I used up a full bobbin of 50 wt Aurifil on this 12" square! I added the yellow ric rac under the binding since that was the only color from the print that hadn't been used yet. 

Now on to the random projects...
I'm putting together an English Paper Piecing kit for a friend who had surgery last week. When She's ready for visitors, I'll give her the kit and a lesson.

When I was browsing for EPP stuff, I stumbled upon this hexagon starburst block on Stitchery Dickory Dock.  I couldn't resist giving it a try and I absolutely loved the first one (on left). I do not need another EPP project with two others waiting to be finished, but I can't help myself!

I printed and cut enough paper pieces for 22 blocks. They are all laid out on the piano bench until I dig out my tiny baggies. I'm not planning ahead with fabrics. I'll pull scraps for one block at a time and we'll see what happens!

Last weekend I taught a fabric box class for my co-workers and/or their families. It's a small office, but it's a very crafty group! We had a fun morning and everyone did a great job with their boxes.

This ticker tape birthday card was really fun to make! With crazy mom quilts celebrating her 9th Blogversary, Ticker Tape was fresh in my mind. I tacked down the pieces with glue stick and then stitched around in a square spiral.

Why do scrap projects make such a big mess?! Here you can see the stitches on the inside. I kind of like the wonky lines and texture of the perforations. Now I just need to write a message and sign the card.

I've been teaching private lessons to my friend's mom, Sandy. She is making her first quilt from her granddaughter's t-shirts. Yesterday, we laid out all the blocks and she learned how to piece the rows. It was a fun puzzle to put together, and I think we were successful in distributing the colors and sizes.

Last one. I quilted an outreach quilt from Ninigret that will be delivered on the 14th. Now I have 6 labels to make and attach before then. I'll print them on my ink jet printer, so it will be a quick job.

I need to stop playing with fabric for a few hours and get busy on some computer work. My procrastination became this blog post!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Improv with Jacquie

 I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to take Jacquie Gering's Scrappy Improvisation class last week. It was fun and informative and a really great day!  Many thanks to the Rhododendron Needlers guild and All About Quilts for hosting the class.

I had planned to meet my friend Maria there, and was pleasantly surprised that Janet Elia had signed up as well as two other members of the RIMQG. I really wasn't expecting to see so many familiar faces 90 minutes from home.
Here's my classroom setup. I can't go anywhere during allergy season without tissues. Sue brought the chocolate! 

My first four blocks were promising. Before packing for class, I selected the color palette from a photo on Design Seeds. I consulted my color tool to determine the fuchsia accent.  The gray is Kona Silver. I haven't used it up yet, so you will be seeing it again in celebration of my 25th Anniversary of quilting.

 I finished seven blocks in class and decided to not make more. I pieced them into the background yesterday while our piano was being tuned.

Jacquie has done some fun zig zag quilting across some of her quilts, so I started there with this one. I got bored pretty quickly, so I added a second zig zag. I wasn't sure if filling in with free motion was going to work. I stopped after each section to reassess. More straight lines to the left of the skinny fuchsia strip.

Here you can see the lime backing and teal binding.

 Hooray for texture!

 Improv with Jacquie
October 22 & 27, 2015
29" square

Monday, October 26, 2015

Scrappy Spools

 For something completely different than yesterday's post, I give you Scrappy Spools. I finished this one a couple of weeks ago, but haven't had a chance to post until now. This was a fun quilt to make!

It started out in January with these piles of scraps. Aren't they pretty?

While prepping for a guild workshop that required (48) 4.5" squares, I could have pulled from my stash of charms, but I was feeling inspired to use those scraps. Hooray for string piecing!

Christine Bagley taught the class in April and helped us embrace the Y-seam.

 Piecing is my happy place!

The top was done in June, but quilting had to wait while higher priorities were completed.

I wanted to use a thicker, visible thread for quilting, so I pulled out my collection of YLI Machine Quilting thread. 

I started stitching each thread color on a spool of that color, and it loops and swirls around from there.

Each color ends up near the ruler border, in a twisted, tangled mess. Just like real life! I left the ends dangling, which really confused my friend who was hanging it at the quilt show last week. She thought I had forgotten to trim the threads when I finished quilting. Nope, that was a design choice! There's a peak at the multi-color ruler binding below.

The week before the show, I had piles of quilts all over my house. Different quilts were going to different shows, almost at the same time. Crazy town.

Here it is hanging at the Ninigret Quilters show. 

Scrappy Spools
51" X 62"
January - October 2015
Class with Christine Bagley

Sunday, October 25, 2015


I was very lucky to have the opportunity to take a class with Jacqui Gering last week. (Much more on that later!) Although this quilt is not the class project, spending the day with the president of the Modern Quilt Guild inspired me to expand my modern repertoire. I've been struggling with the concept of minimalism. More is more in my quilt world! So, I enlisted the help of my nephew, an industrial designer by day and very cool guy.

On Thursday night, I texted Eric for design ideas. Later that night, he sent me nine designs! A few looked too much like quilts that are already out there. This was my favorite of the bunch. I was so excited, I pieced and quilted it on Friday.

I knew it would be a challenge to get those vertical lines to match up. My first attempt had to be unstitched! As the quilt grew, my technique improved.

I took a break mid-day to take mom grocery shopping, but the top was finished soon after.

The quilting plan was in my head from the start, so I was eager to get to it. The sections with white backgrounds were quilted with 1/2" parallel lines with white thread. The gray section was stitched at 1/4" intervals with gray thread.

I do love the texture of parallel lines, but wish they were more accurately spaced. (I blame my off-center needle. My Bernina needs a trip to the spa.)

I didn't think a binding would work for this piece, so I used a facing instead.

I used Susan Brubaker Knapp's instructions for the facing. It worked perfectly and was quite simple.

I'm thrilled with this piece! I might be calling Eric again soon!

October 22-24, 2015
Designed by Eric Mott
24" X 38"

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Engineer's Wife Sampler

After 19 months and hundreds of hours of work, the Engineer's Wife Sampler quilt is complete. I started calling it that way back at the beginning because my husband is not a farmer! You can see I went my own way from the start with this quilt, but I loved working from Laurie Hird's book.

This post is a little long, so feel free to just look at the pictures!

 January 26, 2014: I blogged that I might make a few blocks from this book for a table runner. Then my friend Sharon mentioned that she had started piecing this quilt. Knowing that there was someone nearby to commiserate with was somehow comforting. And challenging!

February 17, 2014: Day 1. As I pieced these blocks from my modern scrap bin, I made quite a mess! I pieced the blocks in numerical order, and wrote the date I completed each block in the book.

February 21, 2014: In four days, I had pieced 24 blocks and cut out the next 24.

March 8, 2014: Made 12 blocks on retreat.
Summer 2014: lots of blocks pieced when I needed a break from the wedding ring.

January 28, 2015: 20 more blocks. And I learned the term Maverick blocks.

February 2, 2015: 111 blocks complete! (Yes, I kept the stack in numerical order.)

March 2015: My original layout plan was to use alternate gray and white hourglass blocks. I made 8 of them and decided I really didn't want to make 100 more.

(crummy iphone photo)

 June 26, 2015: Layout plan B. The gradation in the background was inspired by a class with Vanessa Christenson. I had seen other samplers set like this (half on point, half straight) without the gradation. It's interesting to see how the colors pop differently on the various shades of gray.

July 18, 2015: Top complete.

September 4, 2015: Hand basting using Sharon Schamber's technique.

September 5-23, 2015: Hand and machine quilting. I started at the top, center. I would hand quilt a few blocks, then machine quilt them. After a few rows, I discovered that the best method for me was to machine quilt in the ditch around each block, then fill in the block with machine quilting (all in white thread, different design for each block). Then I hand quilted 1/4" around the blocks. Then I went back to the machine to quilt the background.

Hand quilting was done in a hoop on the dining room table with variegated #5 perle cotton and a no. 3 embroidery needle. I really enjoyed this process, but soon discovered that 100% cotton batting is not ideal for needling through, especially with thick thread and a big needle. (Apparently, wool batting is quite nice for hand quilting.)

 I used a different color thread to hand quilt each background color. One stitch at a time.

 Machine quilting was done on my trusty Bernina 153 on the kitchen table. The background was quilted with thread that matched the fabric color. Fortunately, I found a chart online that matched Aurifil colors with Kona colors. This photo commemorates the completion of quilting.

September 24, 2015: The binding matches the background colors - white on top, black on the bottom, sides pieced to match. (will add photo when I get the quilt back)

Since I only used 100 blocks on the front, the remaining 11 went on the back. Ten are pieced into a strip through the middle. (That area was fun to hand quilt through. Not!)

September 25, 2015: The last block became the label. Since it is so large, I "quilted" some lines and a heart so it wouldn't flap around. The stitches only go through to the batting and don't show on the front.

I am really proud of this quilt. You can see it (with Sharon's and Donna's) at the Ninigret Quilters show this weekend in Westerly, RI. It has also been accepted for exhibition at A Quilters Gathering in Manchester, NH, in early November.

Engineer's Wife
85" X 85"
Pieced & Quilted by Tina Craig
Started February 17, 2014
Completed September 25, 2015
Block Patterns: Farmer's Wife Sampler by Laurie Aaron Hird
Layout: original

Kona solids: white, silver, medium gray, coal, black
Aurifil 50 wt thread: 2024, 2600, 2605, 5004, 2692
DMC #5 pearl cotton: 4200, 4124, 4077, 4050, 4025