Glorious Hexagons: Preview of Blue Star Quilt

Here is a preview of how the blue star quilt will look. I lied out all of the large hexagons I had with blue stars and interspersed as many brown joining triangles as I had made so far.

Above you can see spaces where more brown stars will be intersperses. I envision this with very dense quilting on the brown stars, less dense quilting on the blue stars, and even less dense quilting in the remaining areas. There will likely be a brown border of at least four inches with dense quilting.

Glorious Hexagons: Am I Blue?

The blue in the title of this blog post refers to the mottled blue fabric in the Embracing Horses collection that I have used as the center of a few of my Large Hexagons such as this one.

And this one.

While I was at a recent quilt retreat in Lancaster I decided that it was my desire to create a quilt using nothing but Large Hexagons with blue central stars. In order to achieve that goal I attempted to purchase five yards of the mottled blue fabric. I had found some online and was very happy to obtain it. Unfortunately the database of the website was not correct, and the site had only one yard to send me.

In the meantime, however, I had cut up what little I had left of my mottled blue fabric and combined the pieces into eleven small hexagons.

After I discovered I would not be receiving a sufficient amount of mottled blue fabric to achieve my dream of a quilt with nothing but blue stars I thought that I was going to have to give up on the idea.  It was then that I came upon an untouched layer stack of blue mane fabric from the collection. The photo below shows the mane fabric above the mottled blue fabric.

I did not regard the mane fabric as a particularly good choice for creating hexagons, and it had consequently been neglected. It was the right color, and I really needed a solution to the problem of being unable to obtain more of the mottled fabric, so I decided to come up with a way to make it work. I decided that the way to get the most out of this fabric was to keep the pieces as large as possible and let the curves of the design do their work. The way to do that was to use a three inch diamond shape and to forgo the creation of a central hexagon altogether. I would go straight for a star shape instead using six diamonds to create that shape.

The resulting star made optimal use of the linear quality of the mane fabric. It was the linear quality of the fabric that had made it unsuited to the creation of hexagons from small pieces in my opinion. Yet that same quality made it uniquely suited to the creation of stars when used on a large scale.

There was one negative to the use of the star shape. This method of construction resulted in the need for inset seams. The following four photos illustrate the construction process.

I start by sewing three of the small hexagons to the central star using inset seams. The small hexagons are placed equally distant from each other leaving three blank spaces also equally distant from each other.

Once the first three small hexagons are in place the remaining three hexagons have triangles added to them creating diamond shapes to be sewn into the remaining three areas. These diamonds are added with inset seams.

In the photo above you can see that the first diamond shape is being added to the Large Hexagon.

Here is the completed large hexagon shown in the process photos above.

Following are some more of the Large Hexagons I have made with blue mane fabric in the center. Notice how the movement in each star is different depending on the cut of the fabric used.

I estimate that I have enough of the mane fabric to create at least six more central stars.


Lambertville Ladies Meet in Lancaster

It is almost exactly two years since the first (and only) Slow Stitching Movement Retreat in Lambertville with Mark Lipinski. Some of the women who had attended that wonderful retreat decided that they wanted to get together again. We’d stayed in touch in the virtual realm because shortly after returning from the 2015 retreat one of the ladies decided to start a private Facebook Group. it was titled Lambertville Ladies. And so, without realizing it, we had been a virtual guild for two years.

Another of the ladies organized our get together for this April in Lancaster. She did an incredible amount of work planning with the hotel, making wonderful additions to our goodie bags, recruiting vendors to add more goodies to our bags and to contribute door prizes. Timing wasn’t quite right for everyone this year, and we were working with a tight schedule by workshop standards, so it is understandable that many could not attend. More people wanted to come than could manage it, but we assembled a total of ten ladies to come out to Lancaster for a fantastic time.

I had planned as early as November of last year to attend Mid Atlantic Mod in Lancaster about a week the Lambertville Ladies retreat. I was reluctant to sign up for that reason, but I just could not allow this to happen without me. As a result, I ended up making someone on the Mid Atlantic Mod waiting list very happy.

I prepared for this event by creating some new layer stacks for my Embracing Horses Glorious Hexagons project, and cutting and basting quite a few packages of hexagons to take with me to sew. Above you see my Martelli Workstation loaded with papers and fabric during my prep stage. I needed to travel light because I was going by train to Lancaster, so I would have no sewing machine this time. I also did not want to drag papers and layer stacks along. I just wanted to travel with bags of basted pieces to sew together. Not having a machine would be fine because I knew I had plenty of work to keep my busy with my EPP packets. I had over prepared.

By most standards I was traveling light. Yet I needed to bring my breakfast with me because I was going to try to stay as compliant as possible to my Whole Foods Plant Based No Oil way of eating as prescribed by the Engine Two Rescue book. I also brought 8 ounce shelf stable boxes of almond milk because I wanted to hedge my bets even though I expected to be able to obtain soy milk at the retreat. I was also bringing with me every single Large Hexagon I had ever made so I could share them at Show and Tell. I ended up with quite a large suitcase because I had to be able to lay the large hexagons flat. It was partially empty, but that helped with the return trip because I acquired a few things in Lancaster.

After a couple weeks of preparation for the event I ended up with seven packets to construct large hexagons. I had also put together over 20 packets to construct small hexagons. Before leaving I assembled the following five small hexagons:

I will admit to being way behind on posting small hexagons here. It is my plan to remedy that soon. At that time these hexagons will be named and numbered. For now just enjoy their radially symmetrical beauty.

While I was in Lancaster I finished one large hexagon per day. Here they are. These will also be numbered at some time in the near future after I catch up with the fifteen or so I have not yet displayed. I am so behind.

After completing the third large hexagon I knew I would not have time to complete another, so I started putting together small hexagons and managed to complete two of them.

It was my plan to complete more small hexagons while waiting for the train back home. It was scheduled to leave at about 4:00 PM from Lancaster. That gave me over six hours to stitch, but since everyone else was already on their way home, or hopping from shop to shop, the prospect of sitting and stitching started to feel more depressing than fun. Instead of catching that late train I decided to head out to the train station and see if I could catch an earlier one. I managed to get one with a connection in Philadelphia so I got home four hours earlier than expected.

I really over prepared the creation of kits to take with me to Lancaster, but I’ll know better for the future. Now that I am home I have a collection of EPP kits that will keep me busy for a long time. I estimate about 50 hours of stitching pleasure for these packets:

Above are four Large Hexagon packets.
Each contains seven hexagons and twelve triangles.

Above are 17 small hexagon packets.
Each contains pieces to make a three inch hexagon.

They are ready for the road.

Above are a good number of my Large Hexagons arranged without joining triangles on the rug in our meeting room at the Amish View Inn. There will be one quilt made using this layout.

Photo Credit: Jodi Liebman Wolff

Here I am above during our Show and Tell eventing. I am explaining how I will be doing a queen sized quilt that will join the Large Hexagons with Chocolate triangles that will create Chocolate stars that will play against the central stars of the Large Hexagons. I am pointing to the point of a space that will contain one of those nine inch triangles. Each triangle will be composed of a three inch hexagon with three triangles attached. Someone asked why I didn’t just use a nine inch triangle. I explained that such a shape would be too large to comfortably paper piece, and that I was also looking to replicate the layout of the central stars. Having the hexagon will help to do that. Aside from that I also have a load of three inch hexagons I have not used because I did not create any three inch hexagons for my quilt.

I don’t think I can do justice to describing how much fun we had in Lancaster, but I will mention a few things. First the food. We had dinner at Plain and Fancy one night, and Millers another night. Both experiences were good. I chose to go slightly off my eating program for those dinners, but I was really proud of myself for sticking fairly well with my program for breakfast and lunch each day. We had an evening meal at an Asian place across from the train station in Lancaster. I had the best vegetable Pad Thai there, which was not compliant with my eating program, but was a reasonable compromise. Lunches at the Amish View Inn allowed me to remain compliant with the addition of a can of chickpeas that I spread out over both planned lunches. The breakfast buffet was the nicest I had ever seen, but I didn’t dare touch it. Actually, I did “touch” the cinnamon buns. Who am I kidding? I did more than touch, and they were terrific!

One of our participants prepared packets for us and taught us how to paper piecing by machine. I observed, and will give this a try at home.

Every member of the group had something great to share with the others during our Show and Tell night. I was thrilled that one of our ladies is working on Kim’s Glorious Garden. It was so wonderful to see it up close. I am so excited to get to work on that project soon.

One day a few of us took a trip to The Old Country Store. I was overcome with shelves and shelves of Kaffe fabric there. I took photos, but will save those for a later post. This post is already getting quite long. At the store I bought an add-a-quarter ruler for the paper piecing. I also bought a Laurel Burch coloring book, and two pairs of colorful socks.

Even before the retreat was over we started talking about making this a yearly event. Now that we have been home for a few days we already have tentative dates selected for the next two years.

We do love The Amish View Inn.

My Martelli Workstation: More Than a Cutting Table That Goes Up and Down

When I bought my Martelli Workstation at QuiltCon I wanted to take a picture of it to show my husband what I had just bought. When I composed the picture Christine started to move away. I guess she assumed I wanted the table all by itself. However, I asked her to remain in the picture because I wanted my husband to see the pretty lady who sold me the table. At that point I was still thinking of it as a table that had the added benefit of going up and down. I didn’t even realize that I had bought myself a complete cutting system. Christine was nice enough to pose for me. She had a nice big smile on her face. I’d be smiling too if I had just made a nearly $3.000.00 sale. That is expensive for a table, but these units are much more expensive on the website, and they don’t come standard with so many accessories on the website either. The event price was $2,500.00, plus it came with many accessories. In addition to that I was allowed to order things from the catalogue at 50% off at the time of purchase, so naturally I did add a few things to my purchase. Georgia got sales tax, ouch, so that brought the price up too.

Once I got home from QuiltCon I visited the Martelli web site and watched videos about the cutting system and the table. After that I had an idea of what I had gotten myself into. I knew I was in for a learning curve on the cutting system, but I resolved the get up to speed once my table was assembled. I didn’t need to wait too long for the table to arrive. Delivery was supposed to take place within four to six weeks, but my table was in the house within two weeks, and waiting to be assembled. It, and I, patiently waited a few more days for my husband to be ready to work with me to put it together.

Here are the boxes hanging out just inside our living room door.

The first thing my husband wanted to do was to look at the directions. I found him a video that describes how the table is assembled. In the video someone points to various parts of the table and describs what needs to be done to achieve assembly. It is a short video, but it gives you an idea of what needs to be done. There were a number of boxes to cart upstairs and open, so we decided that we should try to figure out what box had the directions inside. We ended up calling Martelli for that information, and they were able to tell us which box to open first.

We took our sweet time with assembly and cleaned up after ourselves as we went. We took three days because we are old and weak, but a young whipersnaper could probably put that table together in a couple hours if they stayed on task. I think I could put together another table with confidence having done it once already.

I wish I had taken photos of the steps, but I didn’t.

Here you can see my Martelli Workstation fully assembled and at its lowest position. I placed it next to one of my Ikea tables. The Ikea table is about a full inch lower than the Martelli table. I was hoping I would be able to get them at the same level, but the Martelli does not go that low. I don’t think it is a major issue for my purposes though. I’ve placed my sewing machine on the end of the Ikea table and will be using the Martelli to support the bulk of a quilt as I free motion quilt it. I’m planning to buy an acrylic table to extend the bed of the sewing machine and will then raise the Martelli to the same height. I’m going to have to be careful that I purchase an extension table that will not extend beyond the Ikea table though, which is 22 inches wide.

I’m looking at the Sew Steady tables. I am buying a queen sized Supreme Slider so I am going to need an extension table to accommodate it. In the mean time I broke down and ordered the small Supreme Slider for use on regular machine sewing bed.

I tried moving the sewing machine to the edge of the table and raising the Martelli to meet the height of the bed of the machine. This is okay, but I would really like the have the bed extended back farther behind the machine.

I did some quilting and was very happy with the way the Martelli table supported my work even at its lowest level.

Initially I thought that I was going to locate the table in front of the window with the air conditioner. The photo above shows the table raised up to a comfortable level for sewing on my Janome while standing.

I have a mat which prevents the sewing machine from sliding when the table is angled. You can achieve a more comfortable viewing angle by lowering the side with the sewing machine. The table is level in the photo above. You can also see the Supreme Slider in place on the machine bed. I have since trimmed it to get rid of the spillover on the left and top sides.

I have a lot more work to do to get this room whipped into shape as a studio, but I feel as if I am well on my way, probably more than halfway done.

QuiltCon 2017: Handwork

While walking the show floor at QuiltCon I decided to take photographs of the quilts that were displayed in the category of Handwork. This is a relatively small category. It is the one that I will be most likely to enter under if I create something using my Glorious Hexagons. Following are photographs of these quilts along with the information that accompanied them, which I also present as photographs of the labels.

Here is how the quilts are presented. Prize ribbons first, documentation second, full quilt third, then any detail photographs. Enjoy.

First Act Friday: Alternate Grid Log Cabin and Machine Quilting

Long ago, a little over forty years ago, I created my 5th quilt from my First Act In Fiber Arts. It was a version of a log cabin block. I am calling it an alternate grid variation because I did not make all of the blocks the same size, and I did not make all of the blocks square. Rather, I created a grid of larger squares, and smaller squares along with rectangles.

The photograph above shows the alternate grid design and also some of the machine quilting that has since been added.

I hand quilted this piece when I first made it. Then I used it, and used it, and used it some more. As time passed the quilting started to rot away. Forty years is a long time to use and wash a quilt repeatedly.

I found, upon my return from QuiltCon 2017. a desire to do some machine quilting. I had spent a lot of time testing out mid arm quilting machines on the show floor at QuiltCon, and I thought that it would make sense to see what I could do with my domestic machine before considering such a large purchase. I had only done a small amount of machine quilting up until this time, mostly using a walking foot. I had created some end table covers using a walking foot. I had also done a little experimentation with free motion quilting when I took a class to learn how to use my Janome Skyline S5.

Here are a few views of the full quilt:

Though the quilt was traditional in design, some things about this quilt were fairly modern for its time. First of all there is the alternate grid. Second there is the scale of the blocks (fairly large and made on only a few pieces), third there is the emphasis on solids, and forth there was the way the dark blue squares and rectangles were allowed to transverse the two sides of the log cabin blocks. I decided to make this very slightly modern quilt even more modern by machine quilting it. I would use it as a canvas to practice quilting with the walking foot and also using free motion quilting. While doing so I decided to leave the rotting hand quilting in place. There was no need to remove it. I would simply work around it.

I started with the walking foot by stitching in the ditch from one side of the quilt to the other in both both horizontally and vertically to mark where the blocks meet. Then I echoed the large dark blue squares and rectangles using the walking foot.

The photo above shows the contrast between the original hand stitching running through the center of a large dark blue square and the machine stitching. The machine stitching emphasizes a dark blue square using machine stitching 1/4 inch away from the seam lines. These stitching lines occur on both the inside edge and the outside edge of the square. Given that there are 35 blocks in the quilt this meant that it was necessary for me to wrestle the bulk of the quilt through the throat of the machine 70 times. I like using the walking foot. It gives a great deal of control and a wonderful result, but I am not a fan of wrestling the bulk of a full sized quilt through the throat. I can see using the walking foot for stabilization before doing free motion quilting, but doing a lot of work with the walking foot doesn’t seem to be a good idea to me unless it can be achieved by going the full length or width of the quilt.

I decided it was time to try some free motion quilting. I watched an Angela Walters video from Craftsy and jumped right in. I tried some pebbles with limited success.

Then I decided to play around with some freestyle overlapping curvy lines. They didn’t look very good, but I decided that I was not going to be critical. It was my plan to try a lot of different things and to get a feel for what it is like to try to control the bulk of a big quilt on a little machine. I’ve got quilting gloves and I am learning how to use them. I am finding that stitching vertically is easier for me than stitching horizontally. I am also having some difficulty with stopping the machine with the finger control in front of the needle that I customarily use, so I think I am going to switch to a foot pedal for free motion.

I’m enjoying the process, and I am ending up with an old favorite that is going to last a lot longer because it has been reinforced with machine quilting.

Now here is the big question. Do I share it at the Modern Quilt Guild after I have finished quilting it? I think maybe so.

QuiltCon 2017: Impressions of a First Time Attendee

I’ve wanted to attend QuiltCon ever since I watched some of the lectures from the first QuiltCon that took place in 2013. Craftsy offers some of the lectures for free on their site. This year I finally decided to make the investment in my quilting future by going to QuiltCon. I’m glad I did. One of the things that kept me from attending QuiltCon earlier was that I felt as if I wasn’t going to have anyone to hang out with. I felt as if I needed to build up a sense of community first. Since my first dreams of QuiltCon Attendance I have participated in three quilt retreats with my guild, plus taken two forays to “Quilters Take Manhattan”. As a result, I felt as if I knew a few people in the guild well enough to feel that I would have company with me at this event.

Eighteen members of the Central Jersey Modern Quilt Guild were in attendance this year at QuiltCon in Savannah Georgia. I did manage to spend a bit of time with some of those wonderful folks, especially over dinner, and I ran into others briefly during the course of the day.

The photograph of the quilt below, which won Best of Show, gives a bit of an idea of the size of this show, but the show is much larger than any one photograph could possibly depict.

Chigwell, Tasmania, Australia
Tasmanian Modern Quilt Guild

The following information is from the paperwork accompanying the piece:

It is made with a foundation paper piecing method entirely of solid fabrics. The inspiration for this quilt was a princess cut diamond. Techniques: Machine pieced, machine quilted without a frame – the quilt moved under the stationary needle (such as a domestic machine or mid-arm that is not on a frame), paper pieced.

The piece was offered for $2,000 and sold. I think she should have asked for more, and I think she could have gotten it too. However, at the time she priced this piece she had no way of knowing it would be such a winner, and that makes a difference.

Notice that this woman lives in Tasmania. She was not planning to attend QuiltCon, but she did manage to book a flight and get to the event in time for the awards ceremony.

Here is a closer look at the front,

and a close up of the backing fabric. Nicely chosen.

The really big winners in the show are displayed so it is easy to see both sides of the quilt. You can walk clear around them.

I really enjoyed walking through the quilt show. There was plenty to see. Not having been terribly organized in my approach to viewing the show, however, I am not completely certain that I saw every quilt, even after four days of viewing.

I had bought an all access pass to the lectures. Lectures were held in an auditorium perhaps 100 feet away from the exhibit hall. Lectures occurred throughout the day starting at 9:00 AM and going until about 6:00 PM with breaks between lectures lasting from 45 minutes to as many as 75 minutes. This was good because it encouraged me to alternate between viewing the quilts and listening to lectures. Straight lecture viewing would have been very tiring regardless of how riveting the individual lectures might have been. The lectures were good by and large, but I did find myself nodding off occasionally.

Next time I don’t think I will get the all access lecture pass because I ending up missing the opportunity to have breakfast with guild members at 9:30 AM on the other side of the river because of that lecture pass. Since I’d paid for the 9:00 AM lectures I felt as if I should attend them. I could have skipped them, of course, and I did end up skipping some lectures throughout the later days, but I think I still got my money’s worth on the cost of the pass because the pass was less than cost of all the lectures added together.

The show floor (quilts and vendors) opened each day at 10:00 AM after the first lecture. After a quick trot though the exhibit the first day, I decided to do some deliberate viewing, and documentation, of two specific categories in the show. These are the two categories I would be most likely to enter with my English Paper Piecing Glorious Hexagons work.

The first category is Handwork. I found this to be a small category which was composed of a variety of approaches to handwork. It seemed that any form of hand embellishment would qualify a quilt for inclusion in this category. Many of the quilts were machine pieced and machine quilted with some hand work added on, often just some big stitching. I’m not sure that even one of the pieces in this category was entirely done by hand.

The second category is Modern Traditionalism. This was quite a large category. Due to the size of the category I think it would be in my best interest to submit under Handwork if I do something modern enough to submit next year.

I am planning to show these two categories from the show in future blog posts very soon. I want to document them for myself so it is easy for me to skim through them rather than referring to the photographs in my camera roll.

A quilt that particularly caught my eye was in the “Nine Patch Challenge” category. I had actually seen this in advance in a blog post. I was particularly drawn to this quilt because my area of expertise during my fine arts degree was weaving. From the accompanying paperwork:

Warp and Weft
Cheryl Brickley
Greer, SC USA
Greenville Modern Quilt Guild

Inspired by some shot cotton fabric where the different colors are used in the warp (machine direction) and weft (cross-machine direction) “Warp and Weft” creates a 9-patch block using woven strips of fabric having different colors in the warp and weft direction. The woven strips are on a background of Yarn Dyed Essex Linen which also uses different colors in the warp and weft of the fabric.

Techniques: Machine quilted without a frame – the quilt moved under the stationary needle (such as a domestic machine or mid-arm that is not on a frame). Category: American Patchwork & Quilting Challenge Quilt Challenge.

Another quilt that caught my eye was the first place winner in the category of Improvisational Piecing. I was subjectively drawn to this piece because of my dismay over what is happening in the current political landscape. From the MQG website for the show winners:

Pieced and quilted by Kim Soper
Huntington, NY, United States
Individual MQG Member
48 x 60 inches

“This quilt (passion project) developed out of a desire to create an entirely improv-pieced recognizable image without use of template, paper-piecing or appliqué. Using an iconic image of Lincoln that had been converted to WPAP (vecor-based geometric pop art) by Ihsan Ekaputra, it was constructed using 6-inch blocks. The backing fabric is a repeating pattern of the original image of Lincoln. The binding is a nod to the vector-style of art on which the quilt is based. The end result is a quilt that is both identifiable as the intended image, and distinctly my own.”

Following are a few close ups of the details of Lincoln:

There was another quilt that particularly touched my heart on a very subjective level. It was a quilt in honor of Hillary Clinton. It earned one of the Judges Choice awards. I also happened to vote for it for the People’s Choice award, though I was not displeased with the fact that Lincoln took that honor. I knew it was a subjective vote, and that the piece was unlikely to win. Going through my pictures from the event I can’t find one of the Hillary quilt, so I stole this image from the MQG website along with the accompanying information:

Still With Her
Pieced and quilted by Liz Harvatine
Burbank, CA, United States
Los Angeles Modern Quilt Guild
60 x 55 inches

“I made the basis for this quilt, a giant Hillary logo, the day before the presidential election. I felt so much hope and excitement and I channeled it into my sewing. The day after the election, all of that energy and feeling of promise was gone, yet it seemed so sad to leave this quilt unfinished. I decided to cut it apart and add to it; put it back together. I want to keep that feeling of hope. I want to build off of what could have been and create something even better in the future.”

You can see “Still With Her” and all of the other award winning quilts here.

I really had a wonderful time at QuiltCon. Going into this I was afraid that I would be pretty much on my own even though many of our guild members were also in attendance. I had scheduled a workshop for the same night as our guild chose to get together for dinner. I took Victoria Findlay Wolf’s 15 Minutes of Play on Thursday night so our guild dinner was not an option for me. I know that many of our guild members are quite active in the virtual realm, and I assumed that many of them would have dinners scheduled with virtual acquaintances for other nights, so I was planning to be independent throughout QuiltCon if necessary. Independence during the day is easy, but once the day is over you kind of want to have dinner with someone, and a bit of conversation.  Luckily I was able to have dinner with someone from the guild every night except the night I had the class. I also found out that many of the guild members were meeting on the other side of the river for breakfast at 9:30 AM before coming over to the convention center on the ferry. Some were even going over by ferry to join in for breakfast even though they were located at the Westin right next to the convention center requiring them to take the ferry back and forth before beginning their day at QuiltCon. Two years from now in Tennessee I will hope that people will want to meet for breakfast, and I will not schedule 9:00 AM lectures.

The photo above shows the view from the ferry. It was very easy to use the ferry and it was free. I selected a room at the Westin to avoid the need to use the ferry though I ended up using it in the evening to meet people for dinner. There were many times during the day when I was pleased that I could retire to my room between lectures rather than walk the show floor. However, having a room on the other side of the river would not have been the headache that I imagined it would be.

The weather was mostly pleasantly warm, and you could swim in the outdoor heated pool if you wanted to. One of our guild members messaged at 8:00 PM one night that she was swimming in the pool incase anyone wanted to join her. A few of us walked over to see if she was still there later, but she had already left. I had planned to use the pool on Sunday afternoon after the lectures were over, but the temperature had dipped, and I decided against it. If the temperature had remained steady I would be a richer woman today because I took one final expensive walk around the show floor where I made a major purchase.

Christine from Martelli stopped me as I passed her booth. She is pictured above. She asked, “Can I show you something that will change your life?” I thought, “Yeah sure”. At the time I didn’t realize that she was going to sell me a table. Although the cutting system was nifty, it was really the table that drew me in. She had me at, “It goes up and down.” I had been planning to purchase an Ikea table to serve as a cutting table in my sewing room. But I am very short waisted and tall, about 75% legs, so normal height counters don’t really serve me well. I can use an extra two or three inches of height on any counter, but you just can’t get that unless you get something custom built. So “up and down” was a very big deal to me. Christine also showed me how the table could be angled so your arm did not have to extend in an uncomfortable fashion to make a long cut across the fabric. Then she showed me how you could put your machine at the end of the table and angle it so the view of your work is more comfortable as you sew on your machine. I had to have the Martelli Advantage Work Station, and I had to have quite a few optional accessories which were available to me at 50% off at the same time as I purchased the table.

Martelli also has a mid arm machine with a table that raises and lowers for free motion quilting. I didn’t try it, but the idea appeals to me. I like the thought of being able to alternate between sitting and standing to quilt. I did check out quite a few seated mid arms with and without stitch regulators. I spent a great deal of time trying these machines for someone who does not machine quilt even on her domestic machine. Upon returning from QuiltCon I decided to do some machine quilting on my Janome 5S. I took a quilt that I had hand quilted 40 years ago whose stitches were rotting away from loving use. I am currently quilting it again using both my walking foot and my free motion foot on my domestic machine. More about that in a future post.

Next year QuiltCon will be in California, and very few of my fellow guild members are likely to attend, which would make attendance far less fun for me. I do have a plan, however. I’m thinking that I should do just three nights and two days. That will be short enough that I won’t feel lonely even if I don’t have anyone to hang with. I won’t schedule any workshops or lectures. I’ll just enjoy the show floor, document my favorites, and be on my way.

If you are thinking of attending a QuiltCon, stop thinking. Just do it.





Glorious Hexagons: Table Runner

I decided that it was time to start putting together some of my Glorious Hexagons to create the first finished piece in my series from the fabric of The Embracing Horses collection.

As I was assembling large hexagons I noticed that there were some blocks that got passed over time and time again. I thought it might be a good idea to try putting these together to make a table runner which I will use on the chest of drawers in the master bedroom.

I worked on this project throughout the day of the January 21st Women’s March on Washington D.C. I felt unable to attend the march myself so I had made a donation to allow a college student to obtain a ride to the march for free. To that extent I felt as if I was represented, yet I wanted to feel even more connected to the event. So I worked on my needlework while the women marched and watched the event on YouTube. Every time I look at this finished piece I will be reminded of how it had its inception during the Women’s March.

I started by laying out some of my “reject” blocks. Actually there was nothing wrong with any of the blocks. They just had not been chosen to play with others up until now.

I sewed the blocks together and then considered how I was going to flesh out the edges. My first thought was to appliqué the entire piece to a solid background of brown. There was no point in making border pieces because the width of the runner was so narrow that very little fabric would be saved by cutting border pieces, and much work would be created. Unfortunately, I felt that appliqué would have been difficult because I had used glue to baste my pieces and wasn’t sure how I was going to handle maintaining the crisp edges for appliqué as I removed the paper pieces. I got the idea of finishing off the edges with more piece work, but using thread basting for those paper pieces.

Having made that decision I was able to add brown half hexagons to begin fleshing out the edges. These pieces were glue basted because I only needed to have one piece of thread basting between the glued work and the finished edge in order to achieve my goal of removing papers with crisp edges intact.

Next came the thread basted pieces which would make up the finished edge. I needed an edge wide enough width to accommodate binding without the risk of it touching the edges of blocks. The path I chose turned out to be rather labor intensive as you can well imagine from viewing the photo above. Part of what I needed to do was to baste diamonds in both clockwise and counter clockwise directions in order to tame the tails. I also needed to be aware of how tails were positioned on the other pieces. In the photo above you can see that I had not yet learned those lessons, but I figured it out quickly after having to hide tails in the section above.

This is how the border looks after the basting threads have been removed, and tails have been hidden.

The piecing actually provides a bit of interest on the border.

One thing I noticed while doing this first piece with Glorious Hexagons is that you simply CAN NOT screw it up. When the pieces are placed next to each other they look good almost miraculously even if they are pieces that had been previously passed over time and time again. Then when they are sewn together they look even better. I had noticed that with my large hexagons, but it was even more obvious with these random blocks.

I’m nearly done with the borders. I’ll report back soon with the finished top.

I feel as if I have learned a lot help me decide how I will handle borders moving forward with future Glorious Hexagons projects.

My Year In Review

2016 Was a busy year.

I started out working feverishly on the Farmers Wife Quilt. I was pumping out about two blocks a week. I was printing the blocks onto card stock, cutting my own paper pieces, thread basting, and doing the entire quilt with the English Paper Piecing technique. I used a two color theme of violet and green Kona solids. The Farmer’s Wife project is pictured in part below. It was not long, however, before I found a new obsession.

A month into the new year I discovered a group on Facebook for the Glorious Hexagons project. I tentatively dipped my feet in the water with a couple of blocks using a piece of fabric I had hanging around from the Embracing Horses Collection by Laurel Burch. Before long I was all in. Little did I know that the Embracing Horses collection would become as much of an obsession as the Glorious Hexagons project. I have spent a lot of money searching for this out-of-print collection online.

The previous year, 2015, I had gained a lot of positive feedback by being a part of a group that posted their weekly English Paper Piecing progress on the website of the author of a book about EPP. Her weekly sharing was called the “Monday Morning Star Count”. I had found it highly motivating to participate in the star count. However, for personal reasons the star count was discontinued by its creator, and I needed to find a new way to interact positively with others in the quilt world. For awhile the Farmer’s Wife Facebook group served that purpose.

My new found obsession with Glorious Hexagons provided me with a new means of interacting with others and of gaining positive feedback. It is a smaller group and more welcoming to individual blog posts. I started to create content for my blog that I thought would be of interest to the group and posted links to my posts. They were well received. I found myself posting each and every individual hexagon I created to the Glorious Hexagons Facebook group, and I found myself commenting on many hexagons that others had created. It was, and still is, a very rewarding place to hang out.

Eventually I started to join my hexagons, I found myself posting each and every combination of seven hexagons to the Facebook group. I call these combinations my large hexagons. It is a method of construction that some of the other group members are also using.

My addiction to the Facebook group has served me well in terms of positive reinforcement. It’s been great, but one thing that has suffered just a little bit as a result is my posting here to my own blog. There’s more effort involved in writing blog posts, and there is less feedback. Now I know why people like Instagram. It is quick and easy. Yet, blogging is a more permanent record of my achievements, and for that reason I must continue to publish. I have tried to keep up with it, but it is not easy. One of my goals for 2017 is to blog more often.

My mother died in March. I managed to visit with her shortly before she passed, and I took this picture during our last visit.

During the election cycle I changed my profile image on Facebook to the image above. This image is based on one of my favorite large hexagons, and I thought it was a good way to show my support of Hillary Clinton.

Post election my blog posting fell off dramatically. I haven’t been here very often. One of the reasons that my posting came to a fairly abrupt halt was my sense of despair at the results of the United States presidential election. I’ve never felt this kind of despair about a political outcome. I can’t make sense of it. I had loved Bernie, but after he lost the primary I campaigned for Hillary.

I thought for sure she would win, and I can’t imagine a world in which Donald Trump is the leader of the free world. I imagine that some of my readers might be Trump supporters, and I respect your right to have made the decision to vote for him. I can respect it without understanding it. Here, in the world of quilting, we can agree to disagree and move on with our needlework. It’s what keeps me sane these days.

What does the future hold for me this year?

I’m hoping to quilt two quilt tops that are completely pieced. I have my Diamond Quilt top finished and also my Batik Flower Garden quilt top finished. I’m planning to send out the Diamond quilt top to be professionally quilted, and I am planning to hand quilt the Batik Flower Garden.

I am attending QuiltCon for the first time ever this year. That will be in February. Amazingly, 17 members of the Central Jersey Modern Quilt Guild will be in attendance. Two other members of the Lambertville Ladies with be at QuiltCon, and at least one other member of the Glorious Hexagons group will be there as well.

I’ve signed up for Mid Atlantic Mod in April, and I have just committed to attending a gathering of Slow Stitching Movement people who attended the first ever Slow Stitching Movement Workshop with me in 2014. It will be great to see some of these women again. We are planning to meet in April.

As for Glorious Hexagons? Here are the stats for 2016. 328 hexagons pieced. 217 of them joined into large hexagons to form 31 large hexagons. 110 hexagons remaining to be worked with and much more fabric to cut into.  My plans for Glorious Hexagons for 2017 include piecing a queen sized bed quilt joining 21 large hexagons with brown triangular pieces as shown below. Notice the cool brown stars that emerge.

I plan to keep making more large hexagons and to join them into another queen sized quilt but without the triangular joining pieces as shown below.

I’ll think about how to make use of the remaining hexagons after I’m done with the two quilts. perhaps I will simply join them side by side without any joining triangles as shown below.

I hope your 2016 was good, and I hope your 2017 is even better.


Glorious Hexagons: Progress at CJMQG Retreat

Last weekend I attended a quilting retreat that was put on by the Central Jersey Modern Quilt Guild. It was a wonderful experience, and this was my third year in attendance at this event.

It turned out that I was the only person in attendance who did not happen to bring along a sewing machine, but I was pleased to see that one other attendee brought her Glorious Hexagons work with her, and that she spent some time working on it. She is using Kaffe Fassett fabrics exclusively, so the feeling of her work is very different from mine. I loved seeing the beautiful blocks she had created and the way they worked together as she was assembling them. She had put together the entire quilt design on a design wall before coming to the retreat and was working on assembling portions of the design. I definitely must obtain some Kaffe Fassett prints and must do another quilt using his wonderful bright colors.

It has been a long time since I have shown the overall progress of my work. The last time I did I only had 15 large hexagons to show. Now I have 26 of them. I took the opportunity to place them randomly on the floor at this retreat. Here they are.

I also took the opportunity to lay out the single hexagons I have made so far that have not yet found a home in a large hexagon. Here are those hexagons.

Having taken these photographs I came to to the realization that I especially enjoy seeing the green and blue stars in the centers of my large hexagons. That inspired me to spend my remaining time at the treat putting together a few green and blue hexagons to serve as centers for large hexagons.

Below are the hexagons assembled during the retreat. Some of them are duplicates owing to the fact that they are Kim blocks cut from six layer stacks.

The above blocks will be introduced individually in a future blog post.