Sunday, September 27, 2015

Quiltfest 2015

Yesterday DH and I drove over to Jacksonville for the annual quilt show--this one seems to be the biggest in Florida. The local quilt guild organizes a bus trip to the show every year, but DH likes to see the quilts & doesn't care to ride the bus, so we drive over on our own. I picked up a bolt of batting and some teal fabric, since my fabric collection doesn't have much of that color.

I took a few pictures at the show, but I don't want to post them here because I didn't take time to write down the quilters' names, and I don't want to post them unattributed. I guess what struck me about the show was how very precise and ordered the piecing/applique work was on some of the quilts. This is mainly noticeable when only a few fabrics are used and when sashing is used, since it tends to emphasize the grid in block-based quilts (I rarely use sashing because of this, and I like to either set quilts on point or offset the blocks or otherwise try to de-emphasize the grid--there is a part of me that rebels against too much regimentation). There were also art quilts at the show that didn't utilize any grid, but traditional, grid based quilts were pretty common. The idea of order vs. chaos interested me. I think it would be interesting to play with that and design a quilt that started out with a perfect, traditional pattern, and then morphed into something more chaotic. You could do it with applique or with a pieced quilt. Another idea for the file...I think I have too many quilts in my head.

While I was at the show, I took the plunge and ordered an HQ16 sit-down quilting machine--it's like a long-arm machine, but it is set stationary in a table rather than on a frame. I've been researching this type of machine for quite a while, and I think it will work out well. More on that at a later date, I don't know how long it will take to get it shipped and set up.

As far as what quilty projects I've been working on goes, for the past week, nothing. I was out in the field, looking at wetland restoration projects, and although I considered packing a sewing machine, in the end it just seemed like too much additional luggage--I already had a suitcase, 2 backpacks, a cooler & a crate of field gear. It was a long, hot week. We haven't cooled down noticeably this far south, even though autumn has begun.

This morning I worked on cutting fabric for a Tumbler quilt--this is a traditional pattern that Bonnie Hunter has been using as a leader/ender project. Bonnie didn't give specific measurements for the tumbler, but she is cutting hers from 2 1/2" squares using a wedge-shaped ruler. I wanted mine to be a bit bigger and to taper more, so I drafted one on graph paper that is 4" tall and 1" wide at one end and 3" at the other. To me these look like stretched half-hexagons. I like Bonnie's idea of "self-bordering" the quilt by using all dark value tumblers at the edges. I've cut quite a few but haven't sewn any together yet. I still have more 1/4-log cabin blocks to work on and I have also been cutting fabric for a "Tree Everlasting" quilt.

I would get a lot more done if I didn't work on three projects at once.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Improvisational Patchwork...???

I went to a Becky Goldsmith workshop last week. I know Becky is a Master of Applique--but I am not hugely into applique, and her improvisational patchwork workshop sounded more interesting, so that was the one I signed up for. The workshop got off to a bit of a rocky start--working improvisationally isn't easy for everyone, and quilting seems to attract a fair number of people with orderly minds who like having a set pattern to work from and exact measurements to cut, and asking them to just dump all that and start improvising left a few folks struggling a bit with where to start. Once people started cutting though, it started going more smoothly.

I decided to start a beach wallhanging, since I've always wanted to do one but somehow have never got around to it. I pulled all my beachiest fabrics, and a few random ones that weren't so beachy, and packed them up for a day of sewing. I got part of the beach and part of the sky pieced, but didn't even begin on the sea before it was time to go. Mine is the one in the middle. Becky had some interesting ideas about how to transition between the beach and the sea, we'll have to see how it works out when I get going on it again. I must admit that I wrapped it up in a tablecloth at the end of the day and haven't touched it since. I'm still deep in several other projects right now, so I'm not sure when I will get to it.

What intrigued me at the workshop was that one of the other quilters there started working on a 1/4-log cabin wallhanging, which is what I have been working on at home for the past couple of months. I had not consciously considered the 1/4-log cabin blocks that I've been working on as improvisational patchwork. How do you define improvisational patchwork? To me, the 1/4-log cabin blocks that I've been working on are a pattern, albeit a loose one (sew several scrap strips of fabric to two sides of a 2-inch square, trim to 7-1/2 inches square), so I didn't really consider them improvisational. I thought improvisational piecing involved less planning and less regularity, but I guess these blocks straddle the line between improvisational patchwork and regular piecing.