Saturday, September 8, 2018

Evolution of A Quilter

I decided to add this little biography as I had to come up with it to publish in our monthly QBTS newsletter.  I  added a couple of more pictures to it however!

Evolution of a Quilter

It stands to reason that I would choose this title as I majored in Anthropology/Zoology many decades ago at the University of Michigan, a major that for me was essentially about the evolution of man.  

With that in mind, I should say that I started sewing when I was about four  with the help of my Nana who was an avid garment maker.  From four to twelve, I sewed doll clothes for all my dolls from fabric scraps.  I started making clothes for myself then and by 14 had saved enough babysitting money to buy a brand  new White zig zag sewing machine.  I became more sophisticated in my garment making and took a tailoring class in high school.  I pretty much made most of my clothes for the next 25 years but at the back of my mind knew that someday I would quilt so saving fabric began.

I ended up with a career in computer information technology at Xerox for almost 30 years but continued to sew.  I took up free hand machine embroidery in the late 70s, taught by an Ecuadorian woman in Buffalo, NY.  After the birth of my first daughter, I took my first quilting class with a neighbor.  It was all hand quilting and I made a pillow!  I bought a Bernina at the same time and also an old-fashioned quilting frame and made my first top.  I never bothered looking at the measurements for the top and thought it would be a wall hanging.  However it ended up being a twin sized quilt. 

I quilted it using the stab technique that I had leaned in that quilting class and of course hated that.  It whetted my appetite so I next decided to do applique as I did like the hand work.  I flew frequently for work and one stewardess remarked that she remembered me as I was always sewing!  I got increasingly adept at applique culminating in a Baltimore Album quilt top (which didn't quilt until 3 years ago!!).

This was my first applique quilt.  Below is the Baltimore Album.

I decided that if I wanted to be called  quilter, I should learn how to machine piece and took a sampler quilt class at a local shop in the mid-80s.  I made that top and another one totally scrappy (the teacher told me I was a scrap quilter as I didn't know what that was, only that I got bored using the same fabrics).  I then subscribed to many quilt magazines and starting buying books!!  I  made  many machine pieced tops for the next several years, always hand quilting.  I was, however, anxious to do art quilts and loved the work of Nancy Crow, Michael James and Ruth McDowell.  

I still loved applique and had a chance to take a class with Ellie Sienkievicz in the late 80s but only if I signed up for two more classes at this small quilt conference.  So I took a hand dyeing class to fill in.  It was not a very good class and  used dyes improperly but I was hooked!!  I then took classes in Houston from Ann Johnston and ProChem (in the early 90s).  There were basically no books back then on dyeing only an occasional article in a magazine.  It got me started and then a couple of books were published by Ann and I was able to take additional classes from her as well as Elin Noble.  I did a lot of experimentation on my own, combining techniques used by a variety of dyers.  I was a frequent contributor and reader on the now defunct Dyerslist and taught dyeing locally in Rochester.  I also took up painting with acrylics on fabric.  It became a goal to try to duplicate the effects you can get with acrylics with my dyes. It was the perfect combination of art and science for me.  I had been dyeing for probably ten years when driving in my car one day about two years after the death of my mother, I suddenly realized that it ran in the family.  For some reason, it had never occurred to me that the mother used to smell up the house during my childhood doing acid dyeing of wools for her beautiful hooked rugs!!  I am still experimenting with dyeing and most recently have been doing “ice resist dyeing” and making complex designs not achievable with my regular techniques.

Life has been good to me and I have been able to take classes with all my quilting idols with my last major class being with Ruth McDowell where I learned to draft piecing patterns from my photographs.

These days I machine quilt almost all my quilts although  I like to have a hand quilting project for nighttime tv viewing and finished up a queen sized  wholecloth last winter. 

 I do some sort of machine work almost every day while binge watching Netflix, 

Monday, September 3, 2018

Threads of Resistance in Rochester

I haven't posted in a month as I have been very busy quilting all those tops I put together in the past couple of months.  Add in a visit from my two daughters and my granddaughter and the blog has taken a back seat!!

I am also still recovering from eye surgery but at least now I can see the computer again which was a problem for awhile.  It has been three months for one eye and two months for the other and I still am putting drops in them!!  At least I am finally seeing progress.

In amidst all of this, two members of our art quilt group brought this wonderful exhibit to Rochester!!  I knew it was a political statement but was awed by the quality of the pieces as well as the many messages about life here.  There were 600 quilts entered with 60 chosen.  It has not been without controversy and has been cancelled at a couple of venues -- too bad as it was probably the best display of art quilts I have ever seen.  The one to the left was my favorite.  It is a picture of a 5 year old Syrian refugee  by Sandra Bryce.  It was a fairly large piece and stunning.

This is a closeup showing the wonderful detail and quilting.

This was Capitol guns and the message is obvious.  Neither of our political parties will stand up to the National Rifle Association lobby who continually send the message that any kind of gun control is bad.  Most of my gun loving friends even agree that assault rifles should not be in the hands of random individuals so it is not clear what our Congress is thinking ($).

Really liked this one as well demonstrating the swamp that is in Washington DC.  It is called Draining the Swamp which was supposed to happen but turns out it is worse than ever!!  I missed out on the names associated with several of these pieces as the signs weren't right next to the pieces and it was hard to marry the names with the quilts.

Part of the genesis of this display  comes from the attempt to quiet Elizabeth Warren.  This was a depiction of her.  It is called Nevertheless, She Persisted by Dawn Allen.

This piece was incredible as each of these pieces is probably 1/2 inch and this was a very large piece.  It is by Kathy York.

This was a depiction of the Women's Rally in Greenville , SC by Denise Webster.  This was my husband's favorite piece.

I note this as my husband was dragged to this exhibition as he is not a big quilt fan!!  He was super impressed and the first words after entering were that "there are real artists here".  He loves art museums.

As a result of seeing the exhibit, he posted invitations to his friends in the area recommending they go see it.

I came away with the overall feeling of intense anger that prompted these magnificent quilts.  For my overseas readers, please believe that a great many of us are unhappy with all that is happening and hoping for change.  This is the only political rant you will see from me.

You can see all the quilts here - Threads of Resistance Website -- Pictures of all the Quilts.

Friday, August 3, 2018

August RAFA Meeting

Caren B led off the show and tell portion of the meeting with a piece from her class with Phillipa Naylor on wholecloth quilting.  Phillipa's definition of wholecloth includes applique as well as a lot of hand or machine stitching.  There is a lot of trapunto on this piece but you can't really see the depth in the photo.

Janet always makes gorgeous pieces and especially after her classes at Quilting by the Lake (where Caren took her class as well).  I don't remember the teacher but the class was on various types of curves.  This was her piece from class not quite finished yet.

She also showed a jacket that she worked on during the studio the second week.  No picture would do it justice.  It is using a Japanese technique that utilizes scraps.  Her jackets always look classy no matter what the materials or techniques.

 Marcia B had two gorgeous pieces that she had done.  The above one was done with fabrics she had created in a technique called silk fusion.

This zebra was created from a photograph she took in Botswana.  Inspires me to go back to my and Lisa's photos from Africa.

This and the following pictures were quilts also done as a result of the QBL curves class.  Regina is probably our most prolific quilter!!  Loved the use of color in this one!

This piece was constructed from the leftovers from the above quilt.

Joyce shared many of the pieces she has recently painted.  Since retirement, she has taken up painting fabric with a vengence!!  These next few pieces were all hers.
 This was one of my favorites.
These are all pretty good sized 

I really liked this piece as well!

Liz shared this piece which Is a manipulation of one of her photos.

Donna shared a number of her beautiful dyed scarves including this one which had some felting embellishment.  All were gorgeous! 

Another of my art quilt friends and her beautiful ice gyed tshirts and purses.
We ate lunch and then Julie Brandon taught  us how to make felted balls using both dry and wet felting techniques.  It was really fun!

I can proudly say that I have managed to cut the batting and backing for 18 quilt tops.  I have the backing cut for an addition 12 tops but have run out of batting but noticed there was a sale at Joanns so......Most proudly, I have managed to baste 8 quilts now!!  I am trying to do 3 a day but these are the smaller ones that I can baste by pinning the to my design wall.  The bigger ones will require my cutting table and much more time.  I may try spray basting  a couple as well -- not as easy as it sounds!!

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Two More and Then Reorganizing for Awhile

First twelve are done and I really like this bunch.  It was another one I wasn't sure about when doing the auditioning.

This is the fabric that I used and the triangles were each about 3 3/4 inches high.  There were 48 altogether so I figured two quilts with the above set.

I have mentioned and showed before my auditioning process but thought I would re-show what I do.  Watching tv, I sit the bunches of triangles on my lap and  twist them around until I get a look that I like.  Sometimes I look for a color framing the middle and sometimes I try to get one of the colors to concentrate in the middle.  These three are the three different orientations of one set of triangles.

This has a nice ring of green in the middle.
This concentrates the blue but would probably disappear when sewn.

The first one is complete.  I used the back of the bright yellow fabric I used in the previous day's quilts.  It was much mellower. I decided to go with some white in the middle for variety.  I literally pieced small lengths of fabric to make that last border.  It was the remainder from the fabric used to make the hexagons.

This is the center of the second quilt before the borders were added.  Surprisingly, I got the whole thing finished today!

 This is the second one finished.  I did a smaller bunch of white in the middle and I think I like it better.  For some reason, the yellow in the above picture is too bright-- isn't that way in person   This picture portrays it better.  I will probably keep one of these as I do like them!

I have used all the triangles that I had cut up.  I still have a bag of hexagons that I really like so will probably save those for later.  I want to show off those hexies to their best advantage so have to think about it.

I will head to the basement and see how many quilt backs I can get from my boxes!  I have actually been sewing so much, I think I have actually emptied one bookcase if I do some combining!  

Saturday, July 28, 2018

The Three Bears -- Too Bright, Too White, Just Right!!

I wasn't crazy about this fabric but it resulted in decent hexagons.  There were only 36 as I cut them very large (5 inch triangles), so I decided to make 3 relatively small quilts of 12 blocks each.  I would try different settings.  This is the total of the blocks crowded on my design wall.

This was the first setting which used my college colors but which I wasn't crazy about in the end.  The yellow is super bright as is the blue.  I think using a dark binding will pull it together though.

This was the second attempt where I concentrated the yellow on the sides.  I will have to do a lot of quilting in that big white area.  This one was improvement I thought.

 .And I thought this one was just right.  The yellow was broken up and surrounds the outside.  Each of these quilts is about 43 x 45 which is a decent size.

These are the hexagons I am working on now.  Picture isn't too good as it was from my phone.  These will result in two moderate size quilts.  I am using the back of the bright yellow fabric above in these as it is a nice toned down version!!  I have been using the backs of fabrics quite a bit in this collection of quilts I have made this summer.  I looked at my Pinterest page of my quilts and counted 40 tops!  All but about 5 were done in the last couple of months!  Now to get down to basting....quilting.

I will be heading down to my basement stash to find some of the wider fabrics I  bought years ago (58 inch wide cottons) which are perfect for backs for a lot of these quilts.  

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Just Plain More - Finishing off the Flowered Hexagons

Back to finishing up the last of the large flower print.  I decided to make a full sized quilt out of the remainder of these hexagons.  This ended up 60 x 72. which is a nice size.  I will keep this one.  I should note that the star in the middle grew out of the fact that I was one short in the number of hexagons I needed to make this arrangement!

This is the fabric that I used which I posted before!!

I has cut out the triangles for next set of quilts some time ago and when I auditioned them, I thought i was not going to like the finished hexies.  I decided on 5 inch triangles so I only got 36 hexagons out of the  yardage.  I had put off assembling them until today as they looked like they would be pretty boring even thought the fabric should have worked -- lots of variety of color, no large areas of solids, etc.

I did the first 12 blocks and as always was very surprised by the results!!  At first I thought i would do this arrangement using 12 blocks.

I made six more blocks and decided I would make two quilts three blocks wide and six blocks long.  However, I finally decided that I would go with the 12 block arrangement and make three medium sized quilts rather than anymore large quilts.  Five long would be the ideal but then I would have six blocks left over!

Eyes are still doing well after surgery on second eye.  It is doing so well I almost forget to put my drops in as I am supposed to.  Another month and I will be able to get a new glass prescription.  My right eye is almost okay in current glasses but left eye is way off!  Still need a little more magnification in that right eye though.  As long as I can sew and read, I don't care much.  I read probably close to a book  a day and it would kill me to not be able to do that although I do have Audible now and  use that in the car!  Would be more expensive than the free books on Kindle though!!