Saturday, March 25, 2023

Halo Quilt Value Study: Making a Messy Start

Happy Weekend, quilters!  I have an itty bitty amount of progress on my new Halo quilt to share with you today.  For those who missed my earlier post about this NewFO project, Halo is a Jen Kingwell pattern that can be found in her Jenny From One Block pattern booklet, available on Amazon here (this post contains affiliate links).

Unsewn Halo Blocks On My Design Wall

For the last couple of weeks, I've been working on cutting out shapes and rearranging them on my design wall without any sewing.  When I searched #haloquilt on Instagram, I found lots of different versions of this quilt, in all kinds of colorways.  What struck me immediately was that it's the muddled values in Jen Kingwell's original version that drew me in, the way that her "halo rings" appear to come forward in some places and recede in others, creating an illusion of depth.  Other quilters have made some very striking and modern versions of this quilt by increasing the value contrast, limiting the color palette, or restricting themselves to solids, but I was really intrigued by the way Jen broke the conventional "quilt police" rules about value and contrast in her quilt, creating something that feels fresh and modern but also somehow nostalgic and vintage.  I want to recreate that in my version of the quilt.

Jen Kingwell's 66 x 66 Halo Quilt

I printed a full page, grayscale photo of Jen's quilt and taped it up above my cutting table so I can refer to it as I'm chopping up my fabric pieces:

Grayscale Photo of Jen Kingwell's Halo Quilt

It's so much easier to see what's going on with value when you take color out of the equation!  

Saturday, March 18, 2023

Feathers Four Ways: Quilts for Janita, Paula, Mildred + Nanette

Happy Weekend, fellow quilt lovers!  I have been finishing a lot more quilts than blog posts over the past few months and it has created a backlog of unshared photos on my camera roll.  Today I'm sharing four different clients' quilts that I quilted with four different allover feather quilting designs, with a brief discussion of how the design, thread, and batting choices were selected for each quilt.  Here's a quick glimpse of the four quilts I'll be talking about today, made by my clients Janita, Paula, Mildred, and Nanette, and quilted by Yours Truly:

Clockwise from Top Left: Feathers and Pearls I, Angel Wings, Abundant Feathers, Fast Feathers

Janita's Flying Geese Sampler: Abundant Feathers

Janita chose the Abundant Feathers quilting design for her cheerful flying geese sampler quilt (I don't have the name of her quilt pattern but if anyone recognizes it, please let me know and I'll update the post accordingly).  I just love the playful energy of her color palette of red, pink and aqua against a crisp white background!

Janita's 70 x 87 Flying Geese Sampler with Abundant Feathers E2E

Abundant Feathers is a very versatile design that looks good on a lot of different quilts from modern to traditional or reproduction quilts.  There is extensive backtracking/overstitching in this design, which is why I recommended lightweight So Fine 50 wt matte polyester quilting thread in Pearl (this post contains affiliate links).  With a thin thread like So Fine, your eye isn't drawn to the double-stitched quilting lines, and on a quilt like this one that has high contrast between the background and pieced block fabrics, skinny So Fine thread will seem to "take on" the color of the fabric it's stitching across, appearing like a pale pink against the red fabric and pale blue against the aqua.  A thicker white or cream thread would not have blended into the darker fabrics that way.  We wanted to keep the focus on the variety of pieced blocks and fabrics in Janita's sampler quilt, with the feather quilting playing more of a supporting role.  One more thing to notice about Abundant Feathers is how evenly spaced the quilting is across the surface of the quilt with this design, compared to some of the other feather designs we'll be looking at in today's post.  That's something to think about when choosing between similar quilting designs, whether you prefer a balanced overall texture like Abundant Feathers or whether you want to see some variety between the more open feather parts of a design verses the denser details of pearls, echoes, etc.  

Friday, March 10, 2023

Another Fresh Start On My Horizon: A Halo Quilt for Marlies

 Good morning, quilters!  Despite waking up to a muddy, rainy day here in Charlotte, I am in a sunshine mood today.  I think I may have finally figured out how to get my blog posts to automatically email to all of you wonderful people who have signed up for my email subscription!  Woo hoo!  Any of you who are not signed up for email but would like to be, just scroll to the bottom of my web site to find the signup box.  In case anyone else out there has been having a similar problem, here are the boring technical details: The RSS feed generator I'd been using successfully with that free email subscription service for years (can't even remember the name of it now!) and then with MailChimp created an RSS feed with slightly different tag names than the ones my new SendinBlue service is looking for when it checks my blog for new content.  The tags that were incorrect were "Published" instead of "pubDate" and "Content" instead of "Description," and SendinBlue's tech support identified that problem for me and directed me to a different website that would generate a new RSS feed with the universal RSS tags that their robots look for when they check my site for a new blog post.  The reason those awful blank emails were going out with just a header, a post title, and a footer, with no photos and no text, is that the SendinBlue robots were finding a new blog post title but couldn't "see" any of the text or photos when it wasn't associated with the tag name "Description" that they were looking for.  Clear as mud, right?  Anyway, I've been going back and forth with tech support about this and pulling my hair out over it for three months now, so it will be a huge relief to me if it's finally fixed.  The test email that I sent to myself last night came through correctly, so fingers crossed that THIS blog post shows up in everyone's inbox complete with text and photos, too!

But no one came here to talk about RSS feeds and computer bots, did they?  

Another NewFO for Rebecca: Halo Quilt by Jen Kingwell

I know I just posted last week about starting a new challenge project (the upcoming Star Upon Stars QAL from Laundry Basket Quilts), but the fabric and templates haven't shown up in my mailbox yet and the quilt along doesn't kick off until the middle of next week.  Meanwhile, my restless heart fell under the spell of a more intermediate quilt that will go together faster for me, one that involves curved piecing that I enjoy and find satisfying.  This is all the fault of my client Megan, by the way, because she's going to be starting this quilt in a class at the Quilt Patch shop in Matthews at the end of March and she tempted me with photos of a quilt that is way too adorable to refuse.  I'm also blaming Teresa, the Quilt Temptress who is teaching this class and who has been sharing photos of the gorgeous Halo quilt she made as a sample!  Teresa's class is already full and has a wait list, but I have a feeling she'll be teaching it again in the future.  As for me, I have a constitutional inability to follow directions anyway, so I'll be diving in on this one totally unsupervised.

Halo Pattern, Templates, and Tilda Pie In the Sky Fabric Bundles

If you're local to the Charlotte area and you'd like to make a Halo quilt of your own, Quilt Patch Fabrics in Matthews has both the Jenny From One Block pattern booklet and the optional acrylic template set for sale in their shop.  I purchased my Halo pattern booklet and my Tilda Pie In the Sky fabrics from the fabulous Flash Sew and Quilt shop in Naples, Florida while I was there visiting my in-laws, and I'll be making my Halo quilt as a gift for my mother-in-law Marlies.  

Saturday, March 4, 2023

A Color Plan and Fabric Shopping for Stars Upon Stars + TODAY is the Last Day of the Carolina Lily Quilt Show!

Good morning, quilt lovers!  Just a quick post from me this morning before I dash off to the Union County Agricultural Center because our Carolina Lily Quilt Show opened yesterday and TODAY IS THE LAST DAY!  The show is open until 4 PM with 200+ quilts to see, a full vendor mall with all of the area's best quilt shops and sewing machine dealers gathered on one place for convenient shopping (with show specials), and a boutique of handmade gift items for sale.  Four of the six personal quilts I entered are sporting ribbons and several of my clients' quilts ribboned as well (more about that in my next post, I promise).  I hope to see you there!

And now, the real focus of today's post -- I made some decisions and did some online shopping a couple days ago, and THIS QUILT IS HAPPENING, YOU GUYS!!!  I'm so excited!

Star Upon Stars Quilt: Decisions Made, Fabrics Ordered!

I wrote about this antique 19th century quilt back in November of last year (you'll find that blog post here) and how I was considering it as a new challenge project for myself in 2023.  Well, Edyta Sitar recently announced that she is starting a QAL (Quilt-Along) for Star Upon Stars on March 15th with weekly blog posts and videos on her YouTube channel.  

Edyta is Doing a Star Upon Stars QAL in March!!!

The QAL will run for just three weeks, covering the three components of the quilt: the diamond pieced center stars, the smaller Lemoyne stars, and the sashing.  (No, I don't think anyone is going to finish the entire quilt during the three week QAL!). In her intro video for the QAL Edyta suggested that anyone who is worried that this quilt might be too difficult for them should just try making one sample block in the QAL and if they don't want to continue, that can become a pillow cover or a small wallhanging.  She also announced that she has a new template set available for this pattern, including one template for the exact size that each of the eight multi-diamond star segments is supposed to finish, which perked my ears right up -- in Jan Krentz's book Lone Star Quilts and Beyond, she recommends making a template for the desired finished size of those units out of template plastic.  The idea is to check each of those units after piecing them and correct any discrepancies before sewing them together.  You can find the template set and pattern for this quilt on Laundry Basket Quilts' web site here if you'd like to join me in this madness!

Original 67 x 74 Star Upon Stars Quilt (left) with My Fabric Picks (right)

One of the reasons I was vacillating about this quilt is that I was undecided about whether I'd attempt a faithful recreation of the original or reinterpret the quilt in a modern palette of solids, which would tone down the visual busyness and show off my piecing skills better (prints tend to camouflage seam lines).  I was also on the fence about the size of the quilt, because 67" x 74" is too small for a modern bed but this is way to elaborate to be a couch throw for the dog to curl up in (sorry, Samwise!).  

In the photo above, the original quilt made in 1846 is on the left, and you can see the contents of my shopping cart from Laundry Basket Quilts on the right.