Saturday, April 30, 2016

2016 CCQ Show - It's a Wrap!

Concluding my series on those quilts entered at the 2016 CCQ Quilt Show are these five quilts I either pieced and quilted myself or quilted professionally for others.  First in the line-up is Fall Diamonds and Arrowheads.
My client's words:  Inspired by an alternate class offered in July 2014 in Redmond, Oregon by Peggy Gilbrich, I used my class refund to purchase all the fabrics needed at a nearby quilt shop.  Peggy's class was my second choice when M'Liss Rae Hawley's class was cancelled.  I adore the glowing autumn colors.

Second in line is Autumn Kaleidoscope:
 Inspired by a pattern in one of M'Liss Rae Hawley's book and a class offered in July 2014 in Redmond, Oregon, I pre-cut strips of fabrics I had in my stash at home only to learn the day before that the class was cancelled.  I made it anyway!
Third, Blooming Sunset:
I attended both of Maggie Ball's CCQ workshops and finished the 'faux' bargello pattern with pleasing Fibonacci proportions.  I love the bright colors in the floral border and inside some of the blocks.  As soon as I saw the computerized hummingbird pattern, I simply had to have it.
Circle Sampler:
The quilting humor in this printed cartoon panel inspired me to make a just-for-fun wall hanging to play with printed stripes in Drunkard's Path blocks.  The colorful circles and larger semi-circles resulted in a complimentary outer border to the graphic inner borders.
(Note: my apologies for not zooming in on the cartoon humor for your enjoyment)!
I left my Chore Continuum for last. It has already been featured in my January 29th post entitled Vintage T-Towel Remake. I decided to give it a fancy moniker for the show! My comments for the placard: Women's domestic duties continue throughout the generations, but have perceptively changed over time. Remaining constant is a seemingly unending cycle of chores, as depicted through these vintage appliquéd and embroidered t-towel motifs. Emphasizing this day-in-day-out domestic cycle is a continuous quilted circle of feathers in the border.

It's wonderful to have these quilts hang in a show, but just as much a highlight for me was meeting Janet Fogg. I missed meeting Janet face-to-face when she spoke at our quilt guild last month. I made a special effort to tell her at the show how much I admire her incredible designs and quilts. When driving to Overland Park, Kansas to MQS three years in a row to learn longarm quilting, Janet's quilts were there and always had a high-ranking ribbon ... or two. And now I've met the woman behind the talent! Click on the hyperlink and you'll see what I mean. She's absolutely famous and tremendously gifted. A very brief bio: the background behind her quilting career began as a professional draftsperson, so when you look at what she's created you'll know it would take the mind of a mathematician and the patience of a saint to create what she does. In this season of her life she has decided not to enter her quilts in shows, but to refocus her energy toward creating kits and - from what I gathered at her guild presentation - spending more time with family. Janet personifies where we, as women, all arrive at redefining ourselves. What do I have energy to do? What should my energies go toward? To me, it's all about what matters most. Way to go Janet! 

Where have you arrived? I hope it's where you want to be :).

Friday, April 29, 2016

Come to the CCQ Spring 2016 Stash Bazaar!

Saturday, April 30; 9-2pm 
Salmon Creek Methodist Church
12217 NE HWY 99, Vancouver, WA
Get your free fat quarter at my booth (lobby table #1 - look for my business sign) when you mention this post. Come early for my quilt kits, vintage quilt blocks and tops, King Tut quilting thread, rulers, stencils, wideback yard goods, fat quarters, quilt patterns, and more priced to go. (The picture in this post was taken of my booth at the NW Quilting Portland Expo and is representative of what you'll see).  Free admission & parking.  Project Linus will offer lunch for sale: chili, corn bread and a cookie or soup, crackers and apple slices.
See you there!
Connie Potter
Pacific Patchworks

Friday, April 22, 2016

"Circles in Space and Time"

In March this very unusual quilt top came to me at a request for custom quilting.  I was told it would be an entry at the Clark County Quilt Show the following month.  
I love challenges like this!
From the onset I loved the colors. They are dusty and earthy.  My client's choice to use circles - in keeping with the show theme, Circle of Life - speaks of the constant change in seasons, the weather and the elements of nature.  She designed blocks around a panel, with the panel being off-set to one side, which to me, translates the random, asymmetrical quality of nature. Though a one-dimensional form, movement is suggested in the fabrics themselves and through pattern design. When quilted, art form takes a two - and if you're successful - a three-dimensional quality. At our first consult I asked myself: how could I contribute to the energy already there?  

My client's perspective (in bolded italics throughout this post): "Circles in Space and Time" was inspired by the colors and shapes in this purchased printed panel and a class that I took in Sisters, Oregon called "Circle Dance". Although the idea of using a panel was my idea, using two sizes of Drunkard's Path blocks in nontraditional ways was the purpose and intent of the class.  Originally, I envisioned quilting this in six smaller sections on my home sewing machine before assembling it. But after patiently waiting for a couple years for me to finish, I relented and decided to sew it all together and have it professionally quilted by a longarm quilter whom I met last year in September at the Portland Expo Center Quilt Show.

After 'marinating' quilting design for some time, I decided to convey a nature cycle with sunny skies feeding blowing grasses. A watery koi pond evaporating to the skies, which in turn rained down to earth. The sun comes out and starts the process all over again. Follow with me as I show you what I've tried to bring to life with the needle. 

"Sunny Skies" begin at the upper right of the quilt. All quilting is mixed technique, some freehand and some digitized to get the best effect.

Next is the quilt back showing the 'wind' and things tossed about by it on the ground or in the air.  Also depicted are those things fed by the sun.  
The "Blowing Grasses":
Over a year ago, I doodled some ideas on paper for quilting a variety of designs that I thought I could do free motion before purchasing a mid-arm sit-down quilting machine. But the deadline for this year's quilt registrations came quickly and I was running out of time to do everything I wanted to do all by myself. Connie was the only longarm quilter I could find in Vancouver who was willing to do custom quilting. This is the third quilt she has done for me and her quilting ability is far better than mine. Her ideas for quilting motifs surpassed my expectations and brought extra life and imagination to my treasured patchwork project.
The quilt back, showing quilting detail on the "Blowing Grasses" section:
The "Koi Pond":
What, other than koi, would you find swimming or wriggling in a koi pond? What would you find growing in or near one?

To me the two dimensional circles represent the building blocks of life: atoms, molecules, blood cells, suns, moons, planets, etc. and even air bubbles in water.  Some of the stylized circles represent lily pads (plant life) and mimic those found in the panel.

The "Chance of Rain"section:

The pumpkin seed pattern gave a sense of raindrops to me.  I tried to quilt on each circle whatever would be found floating/flying in the sky; clouds, butterflies, swirling plant life, etc.

Connie found a variety of digital sashiko patterns to use representing flora and fauna. These are featured on the circle surfaces. Although we collaborated on the selection of quilting thread colors and background quilting designs, it took Connie's passion and vision to make my basic ideas become a reality.
"Hidden Critters"
The quilt back
I took this snapshot at the show before the final ribbon was given to my client in its category: Viewer's Choice. (The purple ribbon shown is a vendor award). As I've said before, it's not all about awards and ribbons. But when you get one, it's thrilling someone else could see what you tried so hard to convey.

It's just another one of those reasons why I quilt.

Monday, April 11, 2016

"In Celebration of Daughters - The Circle of Love and Life"

I belong to the CCQ - the Clark County Quilt Guild.  Last week was the 41st Anniversary of their annual quilt show, "Circle of Life".  There were 282 quilts in the show.  Five I quilted professionally for clients, and one I designed, pieced and quilted.
 A client quilt entry is being shown in this post, with the others to come in future posts.  
She used the most darling fabrics for all the stages of family life.  

In my client's words: 

Using the double wedding ring pattern symbolized the circle of life with all the interwoven love and support the generations of our family past (grey rings) and present (red rings) give today's family. They have passed on their love, values, beliefs, traditions and love. 
The outer fussy cut appliqued rings represent today's women. 
The rings (beginning at the top and moving clockwise) represent the cycle of a daughters life: romance, love, engagement, marriage, honeymoon, homemaking, having children, and raising the next generation of daughters through preschool, teens, college, work and their own romance, marriage...and the circle of love, circle of life continues.

I was inspired by the old gospel lyrics "will the circle be unbroken" and by the six generations of oldest daughters in my family.

Will the circle be unbroken
Bye and bye Lord, bye and bye
There's a better home awaiting
In the sky Lord, in the sky

(The Survivors, 1982)

Monday, April 4, 2016

What can be done with just four quilt blocks?

Good question. Here's one answer.

Before I talk design, I wonder why these four, 9" vintage floral blocks sat for as many decades as they did before they became a quilt. What were they intended to be? Were they just for practice or leftovers from a larger project? Would the original creator be happy with my design? Ah, well. I hope so. Above all, I made them up into this little sampler specifically to further my computer quilting knowledge, certainly not to win an award for innovative piecing. 

I have to apologize that I forgot to take pictures of the individual blocks before piecing the top. Sometimes my brain advances into quilting design and I forget to snap photos of the complete process. You can see from the picture above - where I'm already quilting! - that the appliquéd blocks have been arranged into a simple nine-patch configuration with 5, 9" muslin blocks and framed with a dual border of vintage fabrics. What quilting techniques speak to me from this quilt is a medallion in the center instead of quilting each of the nine blocks separately. It's almost like quilting a whole cloth, though this wasn't my intention. I wanted an illusion of the flowers 'linked' in a circle somehow, and a medallion seemed right. 

I begin by marking the center of my quilt with a blue water-soluble pen (as I've shown in past posts and can be seen in the pictures).  I use this center marking on the quilt top to position my medallion pattern chosen, below.

With my computer tools, I've trimmed inside anything I don't want to quilt over or into. The picture of my computer screen shows how I've outlined each floral appliqué. When I quilt, my machine will only sew the medallion where I tell it to, as is seen in my next two photos.
What comes next is selecting and quilting the medallion center motif.  My computer screen shows the pattern chosen and placed in the center of the screen and how it would quilt... demonstrated below on the actual quilt...
...and as completed.
With the center still needing something ... I don't know what yet ... I ponder for a while as I switch gears to consider the background behind the medallion. Certainly, the background needs quilting. So, I decide upon crosshatching. And THIS is a traditional technique I've only done freehand, never digitized. So far this project has rung true to trying new digitized techniques, where I've already incorporated appliquéd motifs within the quilting (such as I did today with the flowers) and now a digitized background fill. I choose a crosshatching pattern, drop it into my project on my screen, trim inside the medallion, and quilt:
I stand back from my quilt as quilted so far, and readdress the medallion center. Something is still missing. There isn't enough definition. Do you see it? It's flat and lacks depth.
Here I've begun to work so quickly I've forgotten to take pictures of every step of my progress, again.  If you'll look at the previous picture compared to the one below, I've already quilted two circles outside the quilted flowers next to the pearls. And now, I'm micro-stippling the spaces outside each quilted flower, freehand...
...and the finished effect. 
Now to spritz the blue marks out.  I don't want to dunk this one in water to remove them (as I've mentioned in earlier posts) because pink and red vintage fabrics have a knack of bleeding. The quilt is a bit damp but a photo is necessary here before the final ones:
The 'dry' quilt:

What can be done with just four quilt blocks? I hope I've answered that question with this single technique. There are many others, like runners, napkins and shoulder bags.  To me, these blocks evolved the way they needed to. The main reason is that two of the blocks were set on point, while the other two were not. 

As I've always said, fabric speaks to me. It's something I try to follow. And maybe, just this once, I also received a nod from the departed soul who appliquéd them so many decades ago. 

This is another reason why I quilt.