Sunday, August 28, 2011

Mennonite Quilt Center, marking, and stars

Yesterday Mr. IQ and I took a quick trip to California's Central Valley so he could attend an NFL fantasy football draft. Meawhile, I visited the Mennonite Quilt Center in Reedley, California. I had not been before and was not sure what to expect. There was no agenda, I had nothing in mind except the time on my hands ought to be spent well. Imagine my delight when I walked in and was greeted by Mary, the manager, and she graciously permitted me to take photos and then invited me to see a quilt show by their featured artist, Pat Robertson. "We have go upstairs", she said, "let me know when you're ready."

About thirty minutes later I said I was ready but nothing could have prepared me for what I saw. Three ladies and I exited the comfortable air-conditioned shop and made the arduous climb up the staircase. When we entered the room we were awestruck and were literally speechless. Then I said, "wow". That was all that came out. There were no words, just the taking in of the sheer volume of space which showcased the quilts coupled with the delectable quilts we saw. Gorgeous. Striking. Spectacular.

There is something of a little miracle in that moment when you're taking in all of the colors, shapes, the minute stitches, the negative space, all the beauty of another artist's work. I began to look at each one. Which one pulls you in first? Do you remember? Is it the one you're closest to or do you move across the room to take in the quilt so spectacular it pushes its way to first in line? These were all lovely. She used applique, paper piecing, machine piecing and perhaps some hand piecing as well. Some of the quilts were machine quilted, others all by hand and still others used both methods. There was one which resembles a persian rug, a study in reds, a spiky one, dresden plate with a petal askew called He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not, gorgeous appliqued flowers and vines amid pieced patchwork and actual woven baskets, and more. Our friendly guide announced that Pat does all of the steps in making the quilts herself, she works outside the home in addition to teaching at the center and creating all of this beauty. Wow, I am still captivated.

The Quilt Center features an artist every year following the quilt auction, when they have no auction quilts to display. Each April the Mennonite Quilt Center holds a quilt auction at Fresno Pacific University in Fresno, California. This year it was held April 1 and 2. The quilts sold are still listed here for your viewing. The auction is a benefit for the Mennonite Central Committee. More information is available at this site.

If you can get to Reedley, California make the trip if only to see the Mennonite Quilt Center. I was pleased to meet the many volunteers who work there and a few kind ladies, including Debbie, who began quilting in January and said she didn't remember to bring her phone to take photos. Of course I offered to provide a link to the photo slideshow as I usually take quite a few pictures when I bring the camera along. Reedley even has a 'quilt walk'. Traditional blocks are featured in mosaic tiles in front of several downtown businesses, including the Mennonite Quilt Center. I stopped to photograph a few of them, but in the 111 degree fahrenheit heat I decided to pack up the camera after the two block stroll, leaving about half of them for my next visit.

See the 86 photo quilt show here.

Fabulous Free Finds: This week I am seeing stars inspired by this post

*Star of the West is this week's Civil War Quilts commemorative block by Barbara Brackman
*A scrappy beauty, Star Formation, featured on the cover of the October issue of American Patchwork and Quilting. A smaller pattern in an alternate colorway is available here.
*Minick and Simpson's American Banner Rose pattern featuring eight pointed stars
*These star blocks will make a beautiful star sampler
*Kelly and Carol featured stars in their Simple Things Quilt Along...and they posted the quilts.
*This short, ingenious video features a new-to-me way to make a New York Beauty block and a paper piecer's dream realized in these lovely New York Beauty Patterns
*If you are in the Christmas spirit sew a lovely Stars All Around tree skirt by Darlene Zimmerman - alternately, Hannukah Lights is gorgeous
*A cute Little Wren from Fons and Porter features a feathered star.

Bow Tie blocks from civil war reproduction scraps

This week I worked on a few bow ties (26 so far and counting) and some English paper piecing (the triangle hexagons). A recent finish is this Three Bean Salad quilt (that's what the folks at Cotton Pickin Designs called it - it's their design!).
Three Bean Salad quilt

Hopefully you've had better luck than I when it comes to finding the PBS documentary Why Quilts Matter: History, Art & Politics will be available to you locally. I may have to simply buy the DVDs in order to ensure I can see all nine episodes as I have not yet been able to find the air date and time, or even whether it will air on my carrier, despite numerous attempts.

Regarding the last post, if you want more information on marking with Pilot FriXion(R) pens Tonya did an experiment and blogged about it.


Sunday, August 21, 2011

Now You See It, Now You Don't?

Many quilters are looking for the best way to mark quilts. Clearly the key is the marks stay when you want them to (for example signatures and quilt labels) and it disappears when it's supposed to, generally when marking quilting lines. There has been buzz in quilt blogs and chat groups about Pilot FriXion(R) pens, and whether they 'really' disappear. It seems they disappear when pressed (heat over 140 degrees) and sometimes re-appear when temperatures drop (put your work in the freezer and the marks come back). Though I read in one case where the quilt had been washed before being in the freezer and the marks did not reappear. Have you tried this pen yet? What is your opinon? Would you use a FriXion pen on an heirloom quilt? A utility quilt?

Recently I marked a piece of muslin with Crayola(R) washable pens and another with Crayola washable crayon. These are my 'disappearing' markers of choice.


I have used Crayola washable crayons with great success for several years, so I fully expected both the markers and the crayons would come out after one wash.

The experiment:

On two pieces of muslin, I wrote the names of the colors with a regular black Sharpie(R) fine point permanent pen (the one that says 'Not for letter writing or cloth'). This would test whether the Sharpie bled and how well it held up in the wash. Secondly, I labeled the top with IDenti(R)-pen ('Crayons' and 'Pens') to compare it with the Sharpie. Next to the name of the pen or crayon I crosshatched marks and then drew a line out to the right. They were washed in a frontloading washer in cold water, gentle cycle with mild detergent. I did not put them in the dryer and no prewash/spot treatment was used.

NOTE: On the box of Crayola washable pens it states: For Best Results: Crayola Washable Markers wash from skin and most washable children's clothing. Wash promptly in hot wash cycle. Do not use prewash or chlorine bleach. Repeat laundering may be required.


As noted above, I used cold water and the company suggests hot for best results. Additionally, in the hopes of recreating a true quilting scenario where marks may remain for several weeks before washing, I waited three days before laundering thereby not following the suggested guideline 'wash promptly' for best results. Finally, I washed only once and it states repeat laundering may be required.


As you can see in the photo below, the pens washed out quite well. Even held up against the light there is no trace of color in any of the eight areas where washable marker was crosshatched the line area. Alternately, in the washable crayon areas all held traces of crayon. This was quite surprising as I have used the washable crayons reliably (without testing first though of course that is recommended) and they have come out without fail from four quilts washed as in the experiment (front loading washer, cold, mild detergent, gentle cycle).

Recently I finished the Three Bean Salad quilt and used purple Crayola washable crayon* to mark the quilting lines. It washed out! *Please test first and use at your own risk!

Conclusion: I will continue to use Crayola washable crayons and markers for marking. They are readily available, price is good -- around here they cost less than $2 per box during back to school and ohh the variety of colors with 8 marking pens and 24 crayons! On lighter fabrics I will use the washable pen or painters tape for straight line quilting.

What is your tool of choice for permanent or temporary marking?


Sunday, August 14, 2011

Arroyo Grande Centennial Quilt Show

Yesterday I had the pleasure of viewing quilts by artists of the Central Coast Quilt Guild exhibited in honor of the City of Arroyo Grande's 100th birthday. Here is a link to a few pictures. Apologies for the photo quality and awkward angles. The conditions were less than ideal for photography; it was quite crowded with people and the rows were impressively narrow, to get some shots I nearly backed into a wall of quilts in the neighboring row. I am happy to show you what I was able to capture though, because it's all about the quilts! Hopefully you'll be inspired to attend a local show or sew up something new.

This week the Civil War block is Indiana Puzzle. Curved piecing ~ I have not done curved seams for a few years, so I am pleased there is a little friendly reminder here. Hopefully you have done well with it. Mine is yet to be tackled, and I am looking forward to it. If you have finished all of the blocks you are 63% done (and congratulations)! I am about half way there at 33%, happily flitting between projects. Hmm, I think I will sew one block up, cut one out and leave it for the next time I go into the loft. Kind of like a little temptation to sew the next one up quickly before I get to another project. I will let you know how well that works!

Have you been bitten by the Cheddar and Bow Ties bug yet? Not this kind. That kind. MMMmmm. Yes, I did jump in a few weeks ago. They go together quickly, and the inspiration quilt is lovely. Don't you think?


Sunday, August 7, 2011

Summer Fun

Lately I have been working on a few projects, finishing the Three Bean Salad quilt, attending swim meets, working a lot (I work at a college and Fall is just around the corner - instructors return from Summer break next week and students will return the following week.) and making class samples for the Autumn Leaves and Quick Trip patterns. Since mid-June I have also reflected on my progress toward my 2011 quilting goals.

This year it has been a priority to get outside the box and not be the same quilter I was in 2010. I just want to grow as a quilter, that's all...nothing wrong with the 2010 me, but I thought, 'let me spread my wings a little more'. So, I have sought out new techniques and patterns. So with that in mind I have free motion quilted on an actual quilt (not just a bit of muslin!), sketched several original quilt patterns, English paper pieced a pattern I had not done before, improvisationally pieced (so unlike anything I would typically choose -- and that's the point) and learned a new technique for making flying geese in order to keep that commitment. I have not yet done everything I set out to do, but that's the whole idea behind taking stock of my accomplishments and tweaking goals as needed. Did you make quilting goals for 2011? How are you doing?

My favorite freebies of late are:

First, the Market Tote -- to carry your late Summer harvest. If that's not enough to keep you busy, there are two Layer Cake Quilts: the Double Slice Layer Cake Quilt, the quilt top uses only a layer cake (without borders), and the 1 + 2 Easy Quilt pattern which uses the layer cake plus two yards for the quilt top. My favorite freebie accessory to date (yes, ever) is this Sewing Caddy. I use it all the time and I cannot believe I ever sewed without it. It was especially helpful in class, when space is limited. I did not make the pin cushion as I wanted the pocket to be free of encumbrance and available for my rotary cutter. If I were to tweak it, I might consider adding a button hole about half way down one slim pocket to allow my seam ripper to have a 'holster' and be more accessible. As it is I dig for it...but don't mind much.

I have been thinking about the Civil War quilt, saving patterns each week and dreaming of completing them on time...but not keeping up lately. I will get caught up eventually. Also I have been anticipating starting a new irish chain scrappy quilt, so I am collecting blues. How is that for a conundrum....I have such limited time and dreams to sew so many quilts. Such is the puzzle of an inspired quilter, right?!

Keep on stitchin,