Friday, July 24, 2015

Finish: Foothills Mystery

I'm linking up with the Thank Goodness it's Finally Finished link party which is being hosted this week by Janet at Simply Pieced.

  I wish I could remember when I first came across Cheryl and her blog Meadow Mist Designs, but all I know is that I found her before she started her Foothills Mystery Quilt last year. If you are not familiar with a mystery quilt, it is essentially a quilt whose finish is kept secret and has been expertly broken down into smaller steps that once put together create the predetermined design. Cheryl created this mystery to share with her guild, but decided to let her blog followers in on the fun. Each month a different step was provided which meant to me that I only had a small amount of work to do on this project before I could set it aside. I guess it made me realize it is possible to take a project just a little at a time and not all projects have to be completed instantly. 
My fabric pull for the project, which you can read about in an earlier blog post here.
 You may have noticed the colorful graph paper design that is hanging out with this pile of fabric, and I have to tell you that if you ever do a mystery quilt this is not a part of it! I made the process way more difficult than it should be. In the first step of the quilt, Cheryl broke down the fabric requirements for each of three different fabric groups. This is where I went completely overboard, probably trying to solve the mystery prematurely. I got out the graph paper to lay out the ratio of the three different fabric groups. From the blob of three colors on the left hand side of the photo below, you can see that there is more grey (3 yards total) than the other colors and much less orange/wasabi (5/8 yard) than the other colors. I wanted to see what this ratio might look like if it were randomly arranged in a quilt top. The left hand blob in the picture below shows one yard is 12 squares of the graph paper. The other rectangles are the same amount color, as squares or half squares to equal the yardage outlined! What?! Long story short, my brain doesn't know how to enjoy a leisurely mystery quilt along and has to complicate everything it comes across!

My fit of crazy trying to solve the mystery, instead of just enjoying it like a summer read.
 Cheryl was so kind to work with and she offered me some hints at this point in the mystery that allowed the wheels in my head to slow down just a bit. Month by month the quilt parts began to take shape. We made half square triangles (HST), square within a square blocks, hour glass blocks, and diamonds. There were several parts to the puzzle, but we still didn't know how they would all go together. During the month of the HSTs, I had to find an easy way to mass produce them, there were over 100 of them. You can read about my HST quilt hack in an earlier post.

This pile of triangles was actually fun to make after I made some modifications to my machine!
 This quilt was my second long arm quilting experience on Louise, my TinLizzie machine. I played with free-motion, pebbles and a little swirly design, all were hand guided.
Louise making pebbles until the cows come home!
 I took the photos below before this quilt was given as a thank you to the officiant of my marriage to my fantastic husband, and her husband who prepared all of the food for our intimate ceremony. 
I may have to change my blog to quilting among the pines! Pine trees seem to be taking over the orange groves.

A closer look at the pebbles.
 I used two different threads on this quilt, one an Aurifil in grey, and the other a verigated Superior Threads King Tut. The design that was created on the back of the quilt was an unexpected surprise that delighted both the recipients of the quilt and myself.

The secondary design that becomes apparent on the back of the quilt.



The Foothills Mystery has been solved. Stop back among the pines groves to see my progress on Cheryl's latest mystery the Midnight Mystery quilt along. Have you ever participated in a mystery quilt along? What have been your experiences?

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Midnight Mystery Quilt

Cheryl at Meadow Mist Designs is hosting another mystery quilt along! Check out the Midnight Mystery Quilt button on my sidebar to link to her blog and find out more. It's not too late to join in. So far we've selected fabrics for four distinct fabric groups and we've been given instructions on how to cut into the lovelies. 

I chose the fabrics below for my Midnight Mystery Quilt. It's my first time using Cotton + Steel and I'm excited to see how nicely fabrics from different seasons play together. See those little dots dancing above selvage on the dark purple fabric, I'm super geeked about them. I think they will make a great little bit of the binding on this quilt. . .when it's finished. . .next year! 


The Foothills Mystery Quilt, Cheryl's previous quilt along was so well organized and broken into smaller manageable steps that were easy to complete before the next set of monthly instructions arrived in my inbox. I'm lucky that she is so well organized, because before I could make it out of Keep Me in Stitches with my precious bundle of fabrics, my ever enabling husband had spotted the lot that you see below. This means I will be making not one, but two of these Midnight Mysteries! Sean was drawn to texture and understated hues of the quilter's linen by Robert Kaufman. He loves places like Restoration Hardware and West Elm, and thought these fabrics could make a quilt fit to grace one of their catalogs. There is one fabric in the selection that is different, the one with the fuzzy looking top, is a peppered cotton that was masquerading as a quilter's linen. . .but I don't mind. I think they will make a great looking quilt.


As an added bonus, the Midnight Mystery Quilt concludes in April 2016, so that neutral quilt with a pop of orange will be ready just in time for our one year wedding anniversary. 

Be sure to stop by this Friday for the reveal of my finished Foothills Mystery Quilt. I'm linking up with Lorna at Sew Fresh Quilts for her Let's Bee Social party! I've got her button in the sidebar too. :)

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Sunday Stash: Carolyn Friedlander


I have a bit of an obsession with Carolyn Friedlander and her beautiful fabric collections for Robert Kaufman Fabrics. I purchased part of her Architextures line at my LQS, Heartfelt Quilting, way back right before I started Quilting Among the Groves. I've been hooked ever since, and have used some of her fabric in 90% of my projects since then. I am so obsessed that a couple of weeks ago, when I saw some Architextures languishing on the shelf at Heartfelt, I bought some. Well not really some, but the rest of what was left! The purple color on the left has already been used as the backing to the quilt that I wrote about in my blog post: A Quilty Coaster Ride


Part of my obsession with Carolyn is perhaps because she has a little paradise among the groves not far from mine. I met her last year at a special showing of her work at the central Florida landmark, Bok Tower Gardens. She hosted a local meet and greet where a handful of obsessed followers like myself met with her to have lunch, enjoy some slow sewing, and social time under the canopy of the oak trees surrounding the famous carillon tower.

I took some pictures of her work as it hung in the exhibits hall of the Garden's visitor center.
At the time her newest line of fabrics was Botanics. I have to add this beauty to my quilty bucket list.


She captures flat Florida landscape so well.
Did I mention that she also lives among the groves? Simple lines and bold colors make this depiction of the groves truly memorable.

Carolyn is an inspiration to me. Her designs are bold but simple. I love the way her quilts show that she has fun with fabric!




Are there any designers that you have an obsession with? What is it about them that sparks your imagination?

Speaking of 'spark,' I'm linking up with the sparkliest of them all, Molli Sparkles for his Sunday Stash!

Friday, July 17, 2015

LMQG Modern Elements Challenge

I joined the Lakeland Modern Quilt Guild in March of this year at the most opportune time!  Modern Elements Challenge Time! The guild partnered with Northcott Fabrics so that every participant had a fat quarter set of the same Modern Elements Fabric in the Cabana colorway. Click the link to see this collection that exudes energy. (BTW I am not affiliated with Northcott Fabrics in any way, I just enjoyed working with their fabrics in this challenge.)

 
Trying to keep my design hidden.
One of the purposes of this challenge was to help guild members embrace technology as a way to further connect with the quilting community. We were required to comment on the Lakeland Modern Quilt Guild (LMQG)blog, and on the LMQG page on the national site. Additionally, we had to document our creations by posting to other social media outlets about our progress. I opted to post with the #LMQGModernElementsChallenge on Instagram. You can follow me there here too!
Manipulating the patterns to make my own patterns.

Have you ever participated in a quilt challenge? This was my first and I was so excited to try new techniques. One of the fabrics featured a stripe motif that I manipulated by slicing and piecing back together in my own arrangement. Another fabric featured so many colors it was challenging to see how it would fit with my other fabrics. I surrounded small squares of this colorfully energetic fabric with wide swaths of coordinating grey fabric and placing them on an angle add interest.

The green fabric made me think of trees, so I thought I would try my hand at quilting some trees.
I had more fun with quilting where I experimented with how my long arm machine handles different threads. I free-handed trees using Superior Threads Bottom Line, a polyester thread, in green.  I added vertical and horizontal lines that crossed over each other in the grey that surrounds the small squares with a dark grey Aurifil cotton. I finished the bottom portion with a variegated Superior Thread King Tut by quilting a design that seems to combine the textures or scales and feathers. I want to further play with threads to see what works well and to see the different characteristics of the threads after they are in the quilt.

I find hand tacking binding to be a relaxing activity.
I used vertical and horizontal lines to create a filler.
The finished mini!
The whole quilt reminded me of the highways of Florida. Quilted trees along the roadways, cars lined up, four lanes across, the bottom part an expression of my frustration when stuck in traffic.


The back shows larger bits of the challenge fabrics.
My design was a success. It won first place! Now I've got this swell new Sizzix fabric cutter to play with!
A fun new toy!
What has been your experience with quilt challenges? I'm linking up with Thank Goodness it's Finished Friday (TGIFF) at Quilt Matters.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Timber

"We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time."

Let my exploration of long arm and free-motion quilting begin! I have made my packing list, acquired some of the tools and stepped into the fresh new world that awaits. There are maps to find and knowledgeable travelers to consult  as I continue forward, but the baby steps I have made thus far feel so good. Below is the first souvenir from my trek. This interpretation of the Timber quilt was the first quilt along my path and taught me much. I'm going to save words, and let the pictures speak a bit. 
While I 'Quilt Among the Groves' I am not without pine trees. Fitting for Timber.


I have learned I enjoy bindings with a little burst of color here and there.

I have learned that we must not regret design choices, but embrace and learn from them.

I have learned that feathers are fun, but there has to be a million YouTube videos on how to make them more interesting and I will watch a few of them!

I have learned that hand tacking the binding is relaxing and perhaps cathartic.

I have learned that not only will practice improve my quilting skills, but also my quilt photography skills.

Some bold Modern Elements by Deborah Edwards for Northcott Fabrics await me for a fun challenge.
I don't remember if I have mentioned it here, but I recently joined The Lakeland Modern Quilt Guild. I am so happy to have met such great people here in this online forum, but thought I could add breadth to my knowledge with some face to face quilty interactions. I chose the perfect time to join! They are hosting a fun mini quilt challenge featuring the Northcott fabrics pictured above. We were given a pack of three fat quarters and are able to add some of the coordinating Toscana fabrics to round out the design. I have some ideas brewing and will write about those in a future post. 

Meanwhile, Louise (my long arm machine) and I begin the next leg of our tour. I've already begun quilting my Foothills Mystery Quilt. After all, Louise looked lonely without a quilt draped across her frame. 


Thanks for stopping among the groves! 
Jan-Michael

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Learning

At the beginning of my sophomore year of college I got to take on a unique role as an Orientation Student Leader (OSL). I was a member of a team that provided incoming freshmen with a personalized student perspective, guided tours, and Western Michigan University Bronco spirit. One of points that I learned while preparing for this role was that there are different stages of team building. We OSL's were taught Tuckman's stages of team development. The first stage is forming, where each team member gets to know the other members. Next is storming, the stage where trust has been built between the team members and there is a comfort level that allows for the expression of discontent and challenging others opinions. Next, there is norming, the group comes to understand and accept the common goal of the group and may leave behind some of their own ideas for the good of the team. Finally, the team is performing, the team is high functioning and getting the job done smoothly. 

Why am I telling you all of this? Louise (my new long arm machine) and I have formed a new team. Now we are storming! We are not getting along very well at all. We forget to put down the hopping foot, we are wasting thread while winding bobbins, and fighting with each other along the way. 
Louise looks content, but I just know she is going to try to pull some tricks on me.

Louise has been loaded up with my interpretation of the Timber Quilt by Jamie Naughton and Allison Glass. I won the pattern by participating in a contest on Instagram! You can read a bit more about my fabric choices and the excitement of the win here

A nasty waste of thread. I bet there is a way to salvage this.

While winding my third ever bobbin on Louise, I noticed that there just was not much thread on the bobbin. Moments later I found that the thread was being pulled and wound under the bobbin! I'm going to have to watch Louise a little more carefully.

I can tell that the border of this quilt will be 'ruffly,' that is my mistake while piecing the top. I may have eased the border pieces onto the quilt, and I think that is why this wavy texture is being created. Another point to ponder as I learn.

I have a lot to learn as I go on this journey of long arm quilting, but I am jumping in. I am having a difficult time with this quilt because I am very proud of the piecing and the fabric choices and would like the quilting to be special. I feel as if I am making a mess of it all, but continue to remind myself that this is my first ever long arm quilt, that I have to start somewhere, and it's OK to make a mess in order to learn and grow.

Straight lines are as difficult if not more so than curved lines. I understand there is a way to use rulers while long arming, and will have to find out more as I go along.

I'm making up the design as I go along, which may be a hindrance to my end results, but I'm thinking of this as play and learning. 

Playing with feathers in the diagonal stripes of the Timber Quilt.

The lovely Carole Gold from Fresh Off the Frame was kind enough to offer some pointers, tips and suggestions. She pointed me to Suzanne Earley's Feather Boot Camp, which is a great online series about creating free hand feathers. I've begun drawing and practicing and can see how practice can lead to muscle memory, which helps build skill. Louise and I are working towards norming, and I can feel that performing lies in our future together. 

A bounty of quilting goodies from Mary Abreu's Quilt Con Scavenger Hunt!
On a completely different subject this amazing box of happy mail arrived today! The magnificent Mary Abreu at Confessions of a  Craft Addict hosted a spectacular Quilt Con scavenger hunt through Instagram and her blog. I played along, scouring the Quilt Con hashtags on IG to find all of the clues that Mary had put together. It was a fun way to experience the exposition vicariously. Not only did I have fun, but I won a mother load of goodies in the process. It's hard to see in the picture above all of the items in the goodie box that Mary put together for me, but there is Aurifil thread, charm packs of Andover fabrics, fat quarters and yardage, quilt patterns, buttons, bags notions and more. I feel like I won the lottery! Thank you Mary for adding to my stash. What a nice stash builder to share with Molli Sparkles and his Sunday Stash event, I'm linking up now.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

One Year!

Whoa! I know that I am not always good at remembering important dates, but I really slipped on my blogs anniversary. More than a year has gone by since I started sharing my quilting adventures here among the groves. I feel like I have learned a ton during this time, and I'm looking forward to the fun that lies ahead.   

Here are pictures of some of the projects I've been working on but haven't been sharing. I'm still trying to find a good balance between creation and documentation. 
Sheark with my Summer Sampler Series Quilt. 
The Summer Sampler quilt hangs beautifully over an orange tree branch.
I finally finished the Summer Sampler Series Quilt that I wrote about originally here as I listed some of my quilting aspirations. *Woot woot* I  accomplished the first goal on my list! I completed the hand quilting right before the calendar rolled to 2015. I love how bright and cheerful it is. There are plenty of pictures of the individual blocks in this earlier post

Barni models the Target Practice Blocks I made for the WERQ Bee.
I've been WERQing in a bee with men Who Enjoy Rigorous Quilting, the Target Practice blocks were the last of the lot. I will be getting my rings 'n' things quilt top together soon hopefully.

I made a quilt top for Sheark for Christmas. He loves the color grey, snow and he thought this Alexander Henry pin up fabric was fetch. I played with some Polaroid blocks and some flying geese and came up with this lay out. I'll work on quilting this one soon with a little help from Louise. 

My spectacular design wall floor and planning the layout of the Polaroid quilt.
I have a variety of these Alexander Henry Pin-up guys. I might work on a series of quilts like this.
I joined some Instagram crafters for the Schnitzel and Boo Mini Swap. I have never participated in a swap until this, and didn't know what to expect. I had so much fun meeting a new friend, and creating a quilt just for her. I played with some embroidery for the quilt tag. Part of me thinks "Oh, lawd, that looks like hell." and part of me thinks "What fun folksy quilt tag!"


I put backing fabrics up for a vote on my IG account and most liked this crossword puzzle, I guess that leaves more of the hot pin-ups for other projects. 
Here is the mini I sent to my swap partner. It was inspired by a quilt from her Pinterest. I had a hard time sending this one away!

I'm linking up with Lorna at Sew Fresh Quilts for her Let's Bee Social party!

Thanks for stopping among the groves with me!
Jan-Michael