NGAQB II – SO FAR

The second incarnation of the #NGAQB is well under way. You may remember my last NGAQB post, where I shared my center with you and explained my fabric choices and what I was hoping the other members of the bee would add to it. Well, from what I’ve seen posted in Instagram, I can tell you that my expectations have been more than met! I asked for improv and boy did I get it! If you haven’t been following along, now’s the time! I can tell that there are going to be some stunning quilts once the rounds are complete.

In the bee, I always receive quilts from Molli Sparkles, so it was both an honour and a slight worry that I was to be the first to add to his center block. Perhaps starting block is a better word, since there’s no obligation to keep the block centered. When we started we were told and encouraged to add to all sides or add to one. As you can probably guess, this really appealed to my improv-inclined brain!

Molly had used an amazing paper pieced pattern of a unicorn for his starting block. The minute I saw it I was totally blown away by his fabric choices and was so excited to dive into my own stash and see what I could find. In my mind, I wanted to create a kind of improvised forest in which the unicorn could gallop, unbridled and free. I used a lot of Kona solids in vibrant pinks and purples, along with some Anna Maria Horner, Lecien L’s Modern and Cotton and Steel. I hacked and slashed fabric before piecing it into long-ish strips, adding some freehand curved seams for interest. The piecing was very freeing and of the moment and I soon had enough to add to unicorn block. I decided to leave the top edge, in the hope that the next person to receive this would continue working upwards, taking inspiration from my long thin strips and adding to the magical forest feel!

The next block I received belonged to Quilt Dad. Like Molli, John had paper pieced his starting block, this time a trio of feathers. Once again, I was so inspired by the colour palette and excited to see that John had used one of my all time favourite prints, a wood grain by Joel Dewberry, albeit in a tiny role.  I wanted it to be the star! I had a little left in the stash and was determined to use it!

For John’s block, Molly had added a first round of epic beauty! I was a little scared to continue, lest I ruin it. I took inspiration from the Totem Pole Quilt I made for a past swap.  I pieced long, improv strips and attached these to the quilt log cabin style.  This was a real scrap-busting exercise as I had a lot of red pieces that were perfect for this, including some of the new Blueberry Park collection by Karen Lewis and some snippets that had been waiting for their moment to shine longer than is polite to mention!  Fun, simple sewing for both of these blocks, and I loved every second!

I’m so excited to see how these and all the other quilts in the bee evolve!

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A SECOND SCHNITZEL AND BOO MINI QUILT SWAP QUILT

These days, I seem to be finishing quilts quicker than I can blog about them, which is something I’m not use too!  When I began blogging, the computer would wait patiently whilst I frantically sewed on binding.  Now, there’s a seeming endless list of post waiting to be published!

Today is the turn of a quilt I completed last month as part of round three of the Schnitzel and Boo Mini Quilt Swap.  You may remember the quilt I made for round two of the swap last year, which was great fun and just a little bit difficult to part with. This time around I was pleased to discover my assigned partner, Nicole AKA kwilter100 on Instagram,  had similar tastes to my previous partner, so I was once again able to express my love of all things improv.  I was thinking bright colours, wonky piecing and a lot of quilting; all things my partner seemed to like!

I began by cutting random widths of fabric and strip piecing them.  These were then sliced into and sewn back together, creating a stepped effect.  Like most of the quilts I make, the fabric pulling was one of my favourite parts.  My partner requested large-scale floral prints coupled with aqua and pink.  I purchased some Anna Maria Horner ‘Pretty Potent’ floral as a starting point, and then raided the stash for coordinating prints.  There’s a little Tula in there, as well as some Carolyn Friedlander (surprise, surprise) and some Cotton and Steel.  Everything just works so well together!

I made a total of four improv blocks before cutting them down and filling in the negative space with some black yarn dyed linen by Robert Kauffman.  I then went to town with the quilting, both following and going against the seam lines, even crosshatching in some areas, with the lines around a quarter of an inch apart. For the backing, I chose a stash staple that I’ve been waiting for the perfect project to use.  The colours were just right.  Binding was another Carolyn print from her Botanics collection.  Love, love, LOVE!

Received and hung up, I pleased to say Nicole was happy with it, which is the whole point of a swap I guess!

NO GIRLS ALLOWED QUILT BEE – APRIL

It’s always the way!  You let yourself get comfortable, throw around a little swagger and cockiness, and before you know it April’s been and gone and your bee blocks aren’t done!  Time really did catch up with me last month.  What with work and all the little side projects I had going on it was inevitable that some plates wouldn’t get spun.  Fortunately, the situation has been rectified and I’m back on track, having posted out April and May bee blocks yesterday.  Phew for a little breathing space!

When the #NGAQB started to take shape many moons ago, I was excited about all the new male quilters I’d get to meet and interact with.  It was like being invited to an exclusive club, where Facebook was our smoking room and we talked fabric rather than finance.  I had that new-boy-in-the-class feeling as I wasn’t familiar with any of the group, except one, Mr. April and the Quilt Dad himself, John Adams.

When I began quilting, Quilt Dad was a shining beacon.  He held my hand and guided me through the construction of my first quilt, for which I used his awesome wonky log cabin tutorial.  That quilt was the first I saw through to the end and would never have been as good if it weren’t for John’s informative and easy-to-understand instructions.

I’m sure that John needs no introduction to many of you quilty folk out there but as per tradition, he took a few moments to share some of himself with the group.

I am a father of three, originally from Brooklyn NYC but now living in the Raleigh-Durham area of North Carolina. I live with my 9 year-old twin girls, my 8 year-old son, and a crazy German Short-haired Pointer named Bristol. Though I often wish it could be, quilting and pattern-writing is not my full-time job; by day, I lead branding and brand marketing efforts for a global software company. I am a completely self-taught quilter (thanks, blogs and internet!) and have been sewing for about 7 years now. I earned my undergraduate and master’s degrees at the University of North Carolina and, when I’m not sewing, enjoy cheering for the UNC Tar Heels.

I was originally inspired by the blossoming worlds both of craft blogging and modern fabrics back in 2004. I was living in Charlotte NC at the time and began mixing and matching fabrics and buying fat quarters in my local quilt shop even before I knew how to sew a stitch. I was really drawn to the creative process of mixing and matching colors and prints. That was when Amy Butler’s Lotus line had just come out, and the options for bright modern fabrics was growing like crazy. Before long, I decided I was going to make a quilt and read free tutorials online until I felt comfortable with the basics.

I started my blog, QuiltDad.com, in 2008 on a whim, mainly to be eligible to join a swap at the time but ultimately to share my love of patchwork with others.  Since then, I’ve remained very active in online quilting communities through swaps, virtual quilting bees, and guilds. Today, I try to apply my own quilting aesthetic to designing original quilt patterns for both fabric designers and companies and frequently contribute to creative blogs, books, and other collaborative endeavors. I’ve contributed to several collaborative quilt books, have two book titles of my own (Pretty in Patchwork: Holidays and the soon to be released Beyond Neutral: Quilts Inspired by Nature’s Elements) and was a co-founder of the popular e-magazine and book series for modern quilters, Fat Quarterly.

Having said all that, the NGAQB is one of the most unique, exciting projects I’ve been a part of and I can’t wait to see the beautiful things that emerge from it.”

As he mentioned, John can be found blogging at Quilt dad and on Instagram as j_q_adams.

John requested feather blocks for his month, based on a pattern by Anna Maria Horner.  Print and colour were pretty much left up to us.  Aside from no novelty fabrics, we had a free reign.  I was guided by John’s love of pattern and chose floral and geometric prints in bright, saturated colours by Joel Dewberry, Amy Butler, Tula Pink and, of course, Anna herself.  I strayed from the instructions a little as I didn’t want all my feathers to be the same.  So, rather than sew long strips as per the instruction, I made smaller strip sets in different fabrics.  I really liked making one side of the feather in one piece to offset the balance.  I went for a warm grey for the feather quills and the background was Kona Snow, as per John’s request.

I went through an emotional roller coaster when I made these.  One minute I loved them, the next I wanted to fling them from the roof. !  Now that they’re done I can confidently say that I love them.  I think I’ve been bitten by the feather bed bug!  For anyone else attempted these my advice would be gentle, gentle!  The bias is prone to stretching so go carefully with your iron.  You may also want to over shoot the background, as I have done.  That way you’ll have some leeway to square up and ensure all your blocks are the same size.

I love this bee a little more with every new block I make.  The group is made up of such inspiring, dynamic men and I can’t wait to get some of their handiwork fall through my letterbox come October.  Remember to follow along using the hashtag #NGAQB and I’ll be back soon with Mr. May.