Wednesday, July 24, 2013

My Trip to Quilters Hall of Fame

Last weekend I travelled to Marion, IN to visit the Marie Webster House which is home to the Quilters Hall of Fame.  The highlight of the trip was the induction ceremony for Meredith Schroeder, AQS President, into the Quilters Hall of Fame, such a well-deserved honor. 
It was raining and thundering when I was there so didn't choose a good drenching in order to take photos outdoors.  The Star quilt exhibit by the American Quilt Study Group was fabulous, new interpretations of vintage quilts, plus some of the old ones on display too.  They were both hand and machine quilted, a pleasure to explore all their details.
The house has been beautifully restored, with its moldings, windows, gorgeous front door and leaded glass, and lovely ceramic framed fireplaces.  It is a perfect backdrop for the quilts on display, and the rain pattering on the windows, floors creaking a bit as I walked from room to room only added to the feeling of stepping back in time.
There were exhibits and classes for the event, including a special invitational exhibit of quilts that Meredith Schroeder assembled called MasterPieces.  I am very honored to have a quilt in this exhibit which will be seen in August at the AQS show in Grand Rapids, MI and later at the National Quilt Museum.  It is a spectacular exhibit with quilts from leaders in the quilting movement, so see it if you can.
The ceremony was happy, yet lots of teary eyes as we paid tribute to Meredith who has affected so many of is and our lives and careers in a very good way.  Her warmth and generosity and ethics, along with the skill to lead AQS have contributed so much to the quilt world.  We had towering fields of corn surrounding us, delicious IN food, and the joy of seeing old friends at such a momentous occasion. 
Now I am back home, re-inspired and grateful for the quilting experiences I have had.  Oliver missed me, is still running and chirping in happiness.  Time to start thinking of a new project.....
Next post I will answer some of your widespread questions on various subjects in your comments, all here in one place.
"Shadow Leaves"
Keep quilting! It gets better every day....

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Return to Provence

"Return to Provence" ~ Diane Gaudynski 2013
The entire quilt, above, is 14 3/4" square, quilted with YLI #100 silk thread on gold silk dupioni, Pellon Legacy wool batt.  The designs are based on my miniature quilt, A Visit to Provence.  Below is a detail so you can see scale:
Although the motifs are small, it was fun to quilt.  The backgrounds were time consuming as always, but in miniature even more so.  However, I like the finished result and will let you know when this available for bidding for the AAQI Celebrity Invitational Auction this fall.
Because I hadn't quilted much in over a year, just some samples, I didn't know if the ease and fluidity of it would be there, or would I struggle and make errors.  I think if you have machine quilted for a long enough time so that you don't have to think about it as you quilt, so that it is a natural process for you, it will be part of muscle memory and the slightest nudge to your brain will wake all that up and you will be back quilting as you were before. 
If you are a beginner and stop for long periods, you will probably have to do some re-learning and practice to get back to where you were.  It's something that is different for everyone, some seem so natural at it right away, and some struggle and practice but eventually master free motion.  Know yourself, what works for you. 
I highly recommend working on real quilts right away, not practicing forever.  I did that, never worried I'd ruin a quilt, planned each one to use techniques I could do and tried at least one new thing in each so I could build my skills and the variety of quilting techniques I could do on each top.
One invaluable tool for me has always been layering a prototype, and quilting on that first.  The same fabrics/batt/backing as in the real quilt in a big enough sample so I can really warm up and get the feel of the quilt, choose thread colors, practice a few motifs before I switch to the real quilt.
Below is my prototype that I knew was sorely needed for this new piece.  I began by doing a few freehand feathers that would be the size for the outer wreath, getting those familiar and smooth, with several shades of thread so I could see what looked best to me. 
The first quilting I did is right at the bottom, and I used chartreuse thread.  It looks fine, me it looks like the blue marker I used for parts of the marked areas didn't wash out completely and stained the thread.  No matter how I looked at it that's how it appeared in my eyes, and I wondered if others would think, whoa, she used gold thread and the marker didn't come out!
The other objection to the chartreuse thread was these feathers have backtracking, two lines of stitching right on top of one another, and the green was so much more noticeable in these areas when compared to the next bit of sample feathers I quilted in matching gold silk thread.
Because I wanted this quilt to be classic, I decided to use the gold thread.
Then I experimented with gold Sparkle thread, a blend of fine gold metallic and gold #100 silk.  I liked it but it was fraying.  I used a larger needle, a #80 Jersey ball point, and all was well.  I liked it with one row of echo, then Sparkle, then back to silk.  Of course I tried out many variations of this! 
Later I tried some colored pencils and shaded the quilting a bit, but decided in the end I liked it without better.  Again, more classic.  You can see a bit of the shading on the rabbit in the prototype.
All this left me forgetting to be tense about my quilting; in fact, I didn't even think about it.  I was focused on the color of thread, how the machine was working, everything else except my quilting.  Because of this I believe I was so relaxed that my quilting was as good as it has ever been.  Compared to some I did for the original quilt in '03 on that prototype, it is better quilting. 
That made me feel so optimistic and relaxed, I started on the real quilt, knowing I would use the prototype space to do a few clamshells, try out the other backgrounds and motifs before doing them on this miniature.
The backing of the quilt is cotton, a Moda fabric from the Wuthering Heights collection, in a dusty teal floral.  I used gold silk thread in the bobbin as well so the shadowing of the gold on teal makes for a very pretty quilt back, below.
While I was quilting I noticed the fan was blowing the silk thread out of the first vital guide, right before the tension discs.  I attached a small pin, below, and threaded that to keep it in line.  Worked perfectly, plus I was cool with the breeze gently fanning my face.
Soon I'll post some tips for quilting that I think are something to keep in mind.  The biggest tip?  Keep quilting....your work gets better every day!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Quilting Again

Yes, quilting again!  A deadline approached and I entered the Forbidden Room with Oliver where he camped out nearby to help me with a quilt project.  Marking is never fun, but new markers and an old clamshell tool from did the trick beautifully.  Oliver knocked the markers off the table several times and watched me search and retrieve with that intensity only a cat can have.
Two weeks ago as summer finally arrived I realized that the small quilt I promised to make for this year's AAQI Celebrity Auction is due very very soon, yikes.  The auction will be online this November; I'll give you the details later when I make sure of dates, etc.  But trust me, from the list of names making quilts I know you will want to bid and bid early and often so you can claim one of the beautiful quilts.
Above, my 15" square miniature quilt, marked, layered, and pinned.  Ready for the machine!  The top is a beautifully luxurious gold silk dupioni with minimal slubs, very smooth and pretty, and I used YLI #100 silk thread for the quilting, which is tiny and exacting, and yes I needed a magnifier. 
I used Pellon Legacy wool batt, and a scrumptious perfect dusty teal Moda cotton from the Wuthering Heights 3 Sisters Collection.  I'll try and get a photo of the back of the quilt, as I like it equally well as the front.
I did make a small prototype, practiced my feathers, checked thread colors.  I'll write about that a bit later when I get more photos taken.  It helps so much, not only showing you in real life how the thread color looks, the one you were planning on but now can see isn't quite right after all.  My muscle memory woke up, and quilting was easy and beautiful, the best news I could have after not working on a real quilt for over a year.  This skill does not go away. 
Oliver got into more trouble, hiding from me and making me search the house for half an hour, wondering if somehow I had let him outdoors?  I sensed his eyes on me when I went into the kitchen, turned, and saw the white spot of his fur in our wine cupboard that for once had an empty shelf!  Perfect spot to fit his body, a 2009 Oliver, smooth and sweet with that hint of smoky naughtiness!
I quilted a few hours a day for a little longer than a week.  There are designs marked on this miniature quilt, the vines and animals, but I did all the feathers freehand as always.  It is based on my miniature quilt A Visit to ProvenceMy sketch of the feathers and vines in that quilt has been lost so I referred to my photo and came up with something similar, with the addition of my Rabbit, and signature sleeping cat instead of the urn from the original.
There was no room for an outer border so I filled the corners with delightfully tiny clamshells, 1/4" Diane-shiko, and some very tiny stippling for the odd spaces.
It is bound and finished, titled Return to Provence.  I love it.  I look at it and like to keep looking at it, for me the true test of a successful design.  I hate to ship it off for the auction and say goodbye, but I know it will go to a good home and give others pleasure.
Below are some details of the quilt, and I'll post the full photo soon when my camera battery recharges.  I used one line of echo quilting around the main designs with Sparkle Silk thread for a hint of gleam.
Clamshells in upper right corner, above.

My hands are sore, but better, and it was wonderful to be at the machine again.  I hope to make more small projects soon, in a leisurely way.  Thanks for all your comments on "retirement" - it's good not to have the travel and pressure of teaching, but I do miss seeing all those talented bright funny students.  I hope you are all doing well with your work, sneaking in some quilting time when you can. 
Meanwhile, keep quilting!  Your work gets better every day.....