A SCHNITZEL AND BOO MINI QUILT SWAP QUILT

DISCLAIMER – The author takes no responsibility for the emotional effect that giving away a quilt may induce, be it positive or negative!

Phew!  Glad that dirty bit of business is out of the way.  Don’t get me wrong, the whole experience of the mini quilt swap I’m currently knee-deep in has been amazingly awe-inspiring.  Enough inspirational creativity to make your eyes water has weighed down my Instagram feed for the last few weeks and it shows no sign of letting up just yet.  It’s just now, with the deadline looming, I have to part ways with this…

So, a few months ago I heard tell of a mini quilt swap that was due to take place, meticulously organised by Kristi of Schnitzel and Boo.  In fact, it was to be round two, with a hugely successful round one having taken place last year.  The whole thing sounded awesome and I wanted in, like a secret club, which, not coincidentally, the swap is like.  You see, you sign up, answering a questionnaire so that your partner, whoever they may be, can get to know you and your quilting loves a little better.  What’s your favourite colour?  Who are your favourite fabric designers?  What would you absolutely hate?  Things like that.  After the sign up closed it was a long and, for me, restless wait.  I was itching to get started, but couldn’t scratch the itch until I knew who my partner was.  Then, my excitement peaked when my phone notified me of an e-mail received.  It was from Kristi.  The intense task of partner assigning was complete and mission #schnitzelandboominiquiltswap was go-go-go!

In that e-mail was all the details I needed; my partner’s loves and loathes, their social media information, even things they liked to collect.  Armed with this knowledge, the task of planing patchwork could begin.  Despite my vast and weighty fabric stash, I was surprised to find that I didn’t actually have a lot of what my partner had quoted as her favourites.  There was one word that stood out to me though, and that was Echino.  My love for this fabric was well documented in this post last year.  What better time to finally cut into some of that Japanese goodness?

I wanted my mini to be graphically striking, and play on the improv piecing that I have been embracing lately.  I chose to fussy cut frames from a couple of colourways and coupled those with bright and bold prints and solids in my partner’s favourite colours.  I couldn’t have asked for a better match.  Her tastes were exactly like mine!  I set about creating four improv log cabin blocks, using the other fabrics to literally frame the frames.  As well as the colours mentioned in the e-mail, I used snippets of text print, including one of my favourites from Carolyn Friedlander’s Architextures collection.  I had some fun too with the ‘include the selvedge’ line from a Timeless Treasures print, ‘How to make a pillow case’.  Appropriate, seeing as that’s exactly what I intended to do in the binding.

Once the blocks were complete I wanted to surround them in negative space.  I used my go-to fabric, Essex Yarn Dyed in black, to add borders to two sides of three blocks and a solid black for the fourth, before joining the blocks into a square.  I knew I wanted to quilt the piece quite heavily so I left the squaring up until the quilting was done.

I’ve been inspired a lot by the matchstick quilting I’ve seen on Instagram recently so I used this mini as an excuse to try it out.  I didn’t want my lines to be straight or even evenly spaced.  Instead, I worked my way out from the center using various thread colours to stitch randomly spaced curving lines.  I absolutely love the feel it gives the quilt and it’ll be something I’ll try again soon.

And so there you have it, my first quilt made for somebody I’ve never met!  All that’s left for me to do is make a label for it, something I actually hate but, alas, them is the rules!  I loved making this quilt and can only hope that my partner feels the same way about it when she receives it as I do.  Somebody said that the hardest quilts to give away are the ones that resemble something you’d like to receive.  I can tell you that I’d die if this came through my letter box.  It sums me up perfectly a quilter in a 24″ square!

Along with the Schnitzel and Boo hashtag, participants have been tagged their posts throughout various social media sites with #makeaquiltmakeafriend.  The whole experience has opened my eyes to wealth of new talent that probably would have gone unnoticed to me.  I wholeheartedly recommend you go forth and stalk the hashtag to see all the amazing things that are being made for people who love quilts by people who love quilts.

I have to end with a huge thank you to Kristi and all the moderators who helped her with this mammoth task.  You guys did great!

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A VEGETABLE PATCH QUILT WIP

Remember this post?  Well, I haven’t forgotten about that quilt, but it seems that I can’t stop finding inspiration in food.  Beloved Instagram followers may have seen some vegetable-inspired blocks sprouting up in my feed over the last few weeks.  The idea for these came from a food feature I read in a weekend newspaper.  Vague memory suggests it was something to do with leeks and their multitude of culinary uses.  Whilst the recipes were tempting, the idea of fashioning one in fabric was even more so.  The piece was accompanied by photographs of leeks in various states of undress; whole, chopped, strips, much like the fabric we use in our craft.  One particular image was a cross-section, rings and rings of greenish hue set against the dark wood of the chopping board.  Right there, that was my inspiration.

A few days later I pulled fabric, from stash and scraps, from the creamiest white all the way through the greens to dark emerald.  A colouful mixture of prints and solids.  Then, without any semblance of a plan, I cut…and sewed…and pressed…and repeated, round and round, encouraged with what I was creating,  It actually looked like a leek!  I squared it off and that was it, the first vegetable patch quilt block.

I didn’t see this becoming a huge quilt, just a mini, with some neutral sashing in between the blocks.  I went on a hunt for the most colourful, interesting vegetables.  Next came red cabbage, which turned the attic into something like a demolition site.  You know that feeling when you’re so in the zone?  Threads flying here, there and everywhere; the floor more fabric than wood; the dog a walking lint roller…I have never had more fun!  Improv piecing has well and truly taken hold in my creative conscious and it’s something I look forward to exploring a lot more.  Don’t get me wrong, the red cabbage block was one of the hardest things I’ve ever made, and I look at it now and I see room for improvement, but the process of taking that first scrap of fabric and having no idea what will be sewn to what is so freeing.

The tomato block is the one that I’m most proud of.  The whole thing probably would have been a lot easier to make with the help of paper piecing, but I was enamoured with improv.  I love the negative space, and how the tomato is only partially shown.  Not my original plan I’ll admit, but that’s where the piecing took me.

For the last block, I wanted something that wasn’t a cross-section, but rather a representation of the outside of the vegetable.  Carrots allowed my to include some vertical elements into the top, with splashes of green and brown to break up the orange.  This block was possible thanks to the kind contributions of some Instagram friends.  My orange scraps where lacking and they came to my rescue big time!

Once again,I used Robert Kaufman’s Essex Yarn Dyed for the sashing and border, this time in flax.  This range of fabrics is something I really considering buying bolts of.  They are so versatile and work perfectly  with this style of piecing.  The neutrality of the flax colour really sets the blocks off and gives some nice negative space for quilting.  I need to decide what colour thread to use and then I’ll get started.  I had so much fun making this top!  The quilt police probably would have had me sectioned if they could see some of the things that went on whilst making these, but rules were made to be broken right?

NO GIRLS ALLOWED QUILT BEE – MAY

And so the baton passes to Mr. May in the #NGAQB race.  Paul has been the one to watch from the very beginning of this bee.  His timing is meticulous and he always delivers ahead of time.  He seems to have at least half a dozen projects on the go too, so maybe he’s some kind of quilting wizard? Here’s a little about him in his own words.

“Paul Hallinger, born in New Jersey. I am the product of a very nuclear family – dad, mom, me, and my sister. I am the older brother. Just a rather mundane childhood of growing up watching Japanese cartoons and Dr. Who. Oh, and Monty Python. And I was one of those ‘studious’ types who would much rather take home a 100 book reading list for the summer. And if my aunt would lend me her books on UFOs, psychic phenomenon, and otherworldly things, I would fit them in alongside The Great Gatsby.

I took up some levels of sewing and crochet in my teens, mostly because I lived next to my grandmother and aunt, both of whom spent time doing these things. I took a sewing class at a local fabric store (yes, they existed back in the Stone Age) and made a really cool for the times patchwork denim vest. Someone in my family still has it!

I graduated from high school and went off to college. Well that was an interesting thing to do. I lived in a co-ed dorm, found more fun than I could possibly ever want to experience, and decided that if majoring in forestry meant I had to learn Latin, well, that was not going to happen. So after a fun-filled year at a small liberal arts college in northern New Jersey, I dropped out.

And then I just explored new and fun experiences. I worked at various jobs, hung out at clubs with friends, got into CBGBs, became enamored with punk, double pierced my ears, got a tattoo, and colored my hair a lovely shade of blue after spending months looking like Rutger Hauer in Bladerunner. I would not trade those life experiences for anything. And Doc Martens ruled.

I eventually went back to college (I think I was 26 or so), working full-time and going to school full-time. I majored in sociology with a minor in psychology and I am that person in the room who doesn’t say much but is intrigued by everything going on around him. And then off to grad school in the wonderful land of California. I spent two years getting my masters, buggered off the phD (eternal studentdom was not for me) and took a job with the Federal government in 1991. Been there as a day job ever since. I have lived in Jersey, California, Missouri and am now back in Pennsylvania.

What, too impersonal? Not a big sharer, but here you go.

I have been with my one true love for 26-ish years now – our first date involved a trip to the dump. A true romantic that one. We both remember the movie we went to see and the fact that I didn’t go home. And never left much after that either!

I took up quilting in 1992 or so – I had gone to Europe on a wonderful two-week adventure and upon returning to the states blew out a couple of lumbar discs when I grabbed a suitcase out of the trunk of a car. Cross country flight and pain, not a good mix. So I was out of work for a few months and was going absolutely bonkers counting the ceiling tiles when a friend showed me how to cross stitch and then how to do quilt stitching by hand. I then asked her to show me how to make a quilt. I was using a lovely White sewing machine that I had bought at a ‘school over-ordered’ sale. I took it in for service and was amazed at the Bernina sewing machines, so I bought one! and then another. And then another. I have three. Two embroider (another favorite of mine). And then I bought a Juki (I like it for the more industrial needs!).

My quilting is like my musical taste – punk funk other junk, classical jazz industrial pretty much anything I listen to and like. So I quilt things I like – I don’t confine myself to any particular style. I do tend to be a little ‘matchy’ with my fabric choices and tend to stick to one or two choices in a quilt – I personally feel that the fabric designer did what they did and I should let their expression stand relatively sound. When I look at some stuff produced by other quilters I just start hearing “One of these things is not like the other, one of these things just doesn’t belong…”. My own personal aesthetic. I need some level of cohesion.”

I actually got these blocks done early on in the month because I was so excited to start them.  You see, there were no rules, only a size, eight and a half inches unfinished.  This month, we could really let loose, picking and choosing what we fancied.  Colour, style, fabric…it was all down to us.

I decided to piece some improv blocks as my love affair with that particular style of piecing seems to only get more steamy.  I chose bright, bold-coloured fabrics along side greys and pieced them into negative space with my new favourite, Robert Kauffman’s Essex Yarn Dyed Linen in black.  I found it a little challenging sticking to the constraints of an 8″ block as there was so many things I wanted to do, but I’m happy with the outcome.  Hopefully Paul will be too!

You can find out more about Paul and his fantastic work over on his blog and on Instagram, where he posts as evildemondevildog.  While you’re there, check out the rest of the bee beauties using the hashtag #NGAQB.

STASHING #16

I must apologise for the lack of activity around here of late, yet such stillness has been offset by feverish activity in the attic.  I’ve been working night and day to get the blocks finished for the Superhero quilt and yesterday I achieved just that!  I was so desperate to get my hands on new fabric that I went ahead and ordered the border and sashing fabrics a few days before completion, so I wouldn’t be hanging around waiting for them.

So, a small amount of stashing this week, but stashing none the less.

All from M Is For Make, the Kona black will frame the superhero blocks with a thin, quarter-inch border.  Nothing like a little black to make your colours pop!  For the sashing I wanted something with texture, and this Yarn dyed linen from Robert Kaufman is just the ticket.  When the borders and blocks combine I’m hoping for a comic book page feel.  Finally, the Kona snow is in preparation for my #NGAQB April blocks, which I hope to start soon.  As Usual, I’m linking up with Molli Sparkles for Sunday Stash.  I’ve shown you mine, now show me yours…