Monday, March 27, 2017

Block Contest Entry - A Nest!

Clark County Quilters makes a quilt to raffle off each year.  The process starts a couple of years before it's raffled off and I'm really fond of how it's done.  So I'm going to tell you all about it, then show you the block I made for this year's contest.
Bird Nest block by Joanne Adams Roth

The whole thing starts with a block contest, where participants are usually given some material and instructions on the theme.  Most of the time, the cost for the material is $1, but last year it was 39 cents!  The blocks are revealed at our annual quilt show in April, and the visitors to our show get to vote on their favorite.  The person with the most votes wins and gets a cash award and their block gets made into a guild pin.  After the quilt show, the organizer sews the blocks into a top and gets it quilted.  This quilt then becomes our raffle quilt for the following year.  Tickets are sold over the course of our fiscal year and the proceeds of the raffle go to a local non-profit that we choose each year.  The winner of the raffle of course gets the quilt.   This means that we have 3 raffle quilts going at all times.  The current one was a block contest 2014/2015.  The next one is being made and will become out raffle quilt in July 2017.  And this block will go into the quilt that will be raffled starting in July 2018.

This year, we were given a really cool off white background with a hint of sparkle in it and were told to make a spring themed bird house block, 9" square.  We could also make bird nests and add embellishments, as long as they were soft.

Guess what I decided to do?  A nest, of course.  We weren't supposed to have any raw edges, so I sandwiched the nest materials between two layers of tulle and sewed it all together pretty tightly.  I'm hopeful that it will be accepted.

I added 3 eggs, a bird, and lots of embroidery embellishment.

Here was my sketch for the block.  As you can see, I change things up quite a bit between concept and finished product.

I hope you like it!

Monday, March 20, 2017

Removing stray threads from a quilt

I'm sharing with you a trick that I learned back in my hand quilting days.  It seems like no matter what you do to trim threads before you get a quilt basted, there are stray dark threads that show through on the front of the quilt.  This is a particular problem when the top is white or light colored, and a dark colored thread gets trapped between the top and the batting.  Here's a gray thread from the seam that showed up.

I use the tiniest crochet hook, size 13, 0.85mm.    It is so tiny you can hardly tell that it is a crochet hook.  I've shown you a picture of the tip next to a safety pin that is 1" long.

It fits easily between the threads of the top fabric, and if you scoot it carefully to the thread, you can scoop it up and pull it out.  Here are some pictures showing you how it works.

Insert the crochet hook close to the thread and work it just underneath the thread.

Pull out a little hook of the thread, then pull this little hook of thread until you get a tail, or the whole piece.  You may have to go in a second time to get the last little bit.  If the thread is attached to a seam, go in close to the seam.

I can't remember where I found this crochet hook.  I think it was at a specialty store, not a big box place.  I have used it like crazy to get those pesky little threads out of the quilts.

I hope you can find one and use it on your quilts too.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Powerline #4 - Cityscape

I decided to continue my idea of slashing and inserting lines into backgrounds to go with my Powerline series.

This piece started out as a class sample from a Nancy Crow class.  I didn't think that I would ever quilt it, but after making a couple of Powerline quilts, I changed my mind.  We can do that, can't we?  Here is the original piece.

I took a picture and printed it out in gray scale, then slashed with the paper version.  I decided to insert a pop of color since the piece was all in black and white.  Here were a couple of my ideas.

I liked the red one the best.  It felt to me like this was a tall metal power pole close up looking at the city far away (maybe across a river?)

I slashed and added burgundy linen/cotton fabric, which really adds some texture, although it's hard to see in the picture.  

I quilted it with both black and white thread in 1/2" straight line rows to represent power lines.  It is finished with red/white/black print binding.

Powerline #4 - Cityscape by Joanne Adams Roth

Now, I like it and I hope you do too!

Friday, March 10, 2017

Planning a quilt show

Clark County Quilters is my local guild and I'm proud to be an active member!  So many good things happen when you're around so many talented people.  So many friendships.  And so much work!

I like to volunteer, give back, and be active in helping the guild achieve it's goals.  Our biggest fund raiser for our coffers is our annual quilt show.  This year, I'm helping with the layout, hanging, judging, and collecting funds.  My hats off to the people who are actually in charge - they have to work at it all year.  I only step in about a month ahead of time.

Since my background is in engineering and I still have all the drafting tools, I absolutely love to work on the layout of the show.  It's like a big mathematical jig saw puzzle.  One other member also has the same kind of brain I do, and together we are dynamic duo.  So much fun for us.

We got the list of quilts this week from the chairperson and started working on the layout.  We've rented a larger, new space, so we're kind of starting from scratch again this year.  We will be trying to fit over 300 quilts into the space, along with special exhibits, vendors and concessions areas, as well as a featured artist display, a classroom, and a demo area.  Wow!  I know it'll be great when we finish and the show will be fantastic.  Our biggest and best yet!

Monday, March 6, 2017

Strip pieced quilt from Nancy Crow's class - Powerline #3

I pulled out the rest of my strip pieced fabrics from the Nancy Crow class in October.  In an earlier blog, I showed the picture of the quilt top that I pieced in the class, then later ripped apart.  I used two of the strip sets to make Powerline quilts, which I also blogged about.  This quilt top is from some of the remaining strip sets.

I modified the center piece to reduce the size of the vertical elements and I like this much better.  They were originally 12" high and are now 5".   I added 2" black strips to help contain the many seams from the strips and to give some places for the eye to rest.  After I sewed this together, I auditioned a few more strips, but decided to end it where it was.

To help me continue with the design process, I printed a few black and white pictures.  I considered  cutting it apart and adding more black to make it less rigid and vertical, even though it was designed to be a vertical strip quilt.

Here were some of my ideas (the white would actually be black):

In the end, I went with the idea on the left. It gave me a feeling of the powerlines towering above the  houses and vegetation below.   And it was the opposite of my previous powerline quilts, where the strips were pieced and the background was solid.  This one is solids against the strip pieced background.  Not as minimal as the others, but fun, nonetheless.

To insert the black lines, I first marked the location of the cuts with pins, using match marks from my photographs, then with a long ruler and a white chalk pencil.

After the lines were marked, I positioned the smaller black strips against the background, abutting each against the chalk lines.  A design wall is so helpful to get this done.  I sewed these onto the top before cutting it apart because all of the seams and bias edges would create a nightmare if I didn't at least keep one edge in check.  

Black inserts pinned in place

After sewing the seams, I cut the top along the chalk lines, matched up the other side, and sewed it in place.  I pressed the top fairly well at this point.  Then, I followed this process for the larger black insert.   I knew that if I made this final cut and sewed the edges together that the vertical strips would not line up.  So, I trimmed a section from the background.  The insert piece was 5" cut size.  So the amount cut out from the background was 1" less, or 4".  

Here is the completed top.

Completed Top
I decided to quilt this with two colors of thread and include circles to mimic the printed fabric.  Here is the completed quilt.

Powerline #3 by Joanne Adams Roth
I hope you like it!