Author Archives: mlwilkie

About mlwilkie

Software Developer, Mother, Wife with keen interest in art, design and crafts of all kinds.

5 Years! {+Give away)

I can not believe it has been 5 years since I started sewing/quilting and blogging. I did not start out to be a quilter.  Last time I sewed anything it was a pillow case in home economics when I was 13. However, I have always been someone who dabbled in all art medium and baking//cooking, where the blog started.  I was always had a diverse range of interests from Art to Science to Languages. Quilting really has been one of those “hobbies” that has integrated the love of art and math.

I am lucky to be inspired by my own family. My Dad and Aunt are amazing artists, and my mum a highly skilled seamstress with a career in science. My only regret with starting quilting so late is not being able to actually sew with my Mum, but I love that I was able to gift her with a quilt.

Just to show you how far I have come, my first quilt was an original design of the 4 season of an apple tree. I would do this so differently today – and PS its still not finished. Yes, those are buttons and glittery snowflakes all hand stitched onto the top.

FourSeasonsInOneDay_2

The first finished quilt, was for the MQG Madrona Road Challenge. It was loosely inspired from tiles and a Turkish bath (inside the blue square). I still love this image today.
Turkish_tiled_bath_inspiration

The quilt now hangs in my studio, to remind me of my journey.
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In 2014, I joined Quilt Design a Day on facebook….a game changer for me. It moved me away from a multi-subject blog to mostly quilting. The designing of quilts and bringing them into reality is my passion. (so thank you Anne @playcrafts :-))

QAD_TapaClothMotif

I am so appreciative of the opportunities that this group has led me too. This is my first design for QDAD and it also won a quilt design competition. I gained enough courage to submit an idea, shortly after, to Sew Mama Sew and do a mini blog series on design to reality. Sew Mama Sew directly directly influenced the wonderful opportunity I got to work with Love Patchwork and Quilting. Eager for the opportunity to have a magazine submission, I committed to delivering a quilt in 10 days (while working a full-time job and being a mom). I was so shocked, it paid off though, as my first submission was a quilt cover.
LQP_23_cover_cmyk_300dpi

While I look back, it makes me smile. Seeing some of my favorite quilts I have made. Two of which are Sunday Best and Altitudinal Ecosystem which represents my bi-polar quilting interest; Improvisation and Minimalism.

cropped-img_795311.jpgAltitudinalEcosystem_HighRes

A couple of the big challenges I gave myself this year were:

  •  To enjoy my blog and just post when I have content I want to share. Very different to posting to gain followers and following a fixed schedule.
  • Write a book. It is underway but I will say it is a much slower process than I expected. Life is always in the way (and definitely not in a bad way).
  • Be bold and submit for an exhibit, which I am still working towards. This idea though, led to me submitting to an art curator. They purchased 3 of my quilts yesterday (you can see my digital portfolio I submitted).
  • Lastly, setup my own business. I am hoping to have it all complete in a couple of weeks.

I have learned so much in this process, and still work on most of these every day:

  • Be you and don’t worry what others think. If you try to please others you are likely not going to enjoy things.
  • Be adaptable, things are always changing and new opportunities become available.
  • Don’t be afraid of rejection. A no is just a no.
  • Be bold, email manufacturers to discuss fabric and possibilities, submit to magazines, submit to quilt shows, etc. The worse that will happen is they so no.
  • Experiment, find you. Give yourself permission to just play and enjoy the process.
  • Enjoy your people. Support others and give back. We learn so much now-a-days via the internet and others in the community. Share experiences, techniques, support others, give feedback and if you don’t have anything nice to say – don’t say it.

Give Away

Thank you for all your support in me and my blog. In the spirit of giving back I am doing three things:

  • Posting fabric postcards to individuals (over on my IG account: ml_wilkie , tutorial coming later this week)
  • Giving one of my blog followers a $50 gift card to Hawthorne Threads. Leave a comment below telling me what one of your goals are for this year. Leave a second comment if you are a follower. I will randomly select a winner next Saturday.
  • The winner of the giveaway, will also designate a charity of their choice, where I will also donate $50 (Please make sure they accept online contributions).
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NY High Line {a finish}

My quilt New York High Line was released as a pattern this week, via the Modern Quilt Guild resource web page and newsletter. It is free to members.

NYHighline_Finish

This quilt was designed as part of quilt design a day. It was based on an image I had taken of a building from the New York High Line.  This image was our used also as our QuiltCon Showcase earlier this year.

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This is a great quilt if you want to play with accuracy, as matching the various lines is important to the overall composition.

I feel very rewarded now that the quilt is done, though the 1/2″ straight line quilting was a difficult task. A mix of  lots of procrastination, burying all those threads (which was due to thread matching, lead to a process taking 5 months.

NYHighline_CloseupOrange

I did extend the quilting lines through the orange stripe, edge to edge.

NYHighLine_wild

Details

Name: NY High Line
Design:
Design by myself
Fabric: Kona Cotton
Backing: Variety Carolyn Friedlander prints
Binding: Kona Snow
Dimensions:  72 x 72″
Quilted: With straight line quilting 1/2″ apart

 

 

Improvisation: Lines and Shapes

I have been developing a class that is based on playing with a quilt composition consisting of lines and various shapes using improvisation techniques. I based this class on my Sunday Best quilt. It’s such a great exploration with fabric scraps.

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This weekend, I did a test teach with a group of friends using paper instead of fabric.  It was so much fun and my friends walked away with an art canvas. There’s nothing like playing with paper and mod podge (glue)!!

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Here are Valerie’s (left) and Melissa’s (right) art pieces from their improvisation explorations.

I loved their results and can’t wait to see how people do with fabric in class. I am currently teaching this class locally at Sewingly Yours and Cary Quilting Company. You can register for the classes here:

If anyone is interested in having me come teach this class for them in 2018, please send me an email (ml_wilkie (at) hotmail (dot) com) and I can provide you more detail. Check out my class list for 2018 here. I am currently building my schedule and have availability May, June, September, November and December 2018.

 

 

Maker’s tote II {a finish}

MakersToteLarge_Front
I finally have my own maker’s tote (a noodlehead pattern) and its the large version of it. You may remember a couple of months ago I shared some tips on making a maker’s tote. At that stage I had finished a small maker’s tote (which I gifted) and I was 3/4 through making this one.
MakersToteLarge_Back

I have finally added the binding and the handles, which was all that was really left to finish. I added a bright pink binding to pull out the pink in the insects and natural Essex yarn-dyed linen handles that match the zipper covers (in the inside part of the bag).

The only additional  problem area I had while finishing this one up, was actually catching all the layers when I sewed in my gussets. I missed lining in some areas.  Next time, I think I may glue the lining to the edges of the top as well.  Luckily, I discovered this in time,  before stitching on the binding, so I could unpick and re-stitch areas while sewing on the binding.

MakersToteLarge_Inside

The bag is a success. I have already used my bag for a quick overnight business trip. I used it actually for my change of clothes and toiletries and it worked great!! I love my new bag, highly recommend it to anyone who wants to make one.

 

Safari Moon Fractal Quilt {a finish}

Last month, I was digging around my WiP pile and found a finished 60 x 60″ quilt top. This is one of my early quilts from 2014, and one of a few made from a pattern. The pattern is Fractal from the book Quilt Lab.

Safari_Fractal_QuiltTop_Complete

I made a decision last year, that if I did not have a quilting plan for myself to execute on, it was ok to send quilts off to my LQS for long-arming. That is what I did with this one. I dropped it off to Cary Quilting Company, decided on an edge to edge Baptist fan design and ~$90 later (includes batting) I have a finished quilt.

SafariMoonFractalBack

It was perfect timing too, as a friend’s daughter just turned one, and she is now a proud owner of her own quilt.

SafariMoonFractalQuilt

I did find it interesting reflecting on where I started to where I am now, but relieved to say that this is off my WiP pile.

Details

Name: Safari Moon Fractal
Design:
Fractal from Quilt Lab (Alexandra Winston)
Fabric: Safari Moon, Frances Newcombe, Art Gallery Fabrics + Variety of solids
Backing: Tula Pink Free Fall wide back
Binding: Utopia, Frances Newcombe, Art Gallery Fabrics
Dimensions:  60 x 60″
Quilted: Baptist Fan @ Cary Quilting Company

 

 

 

 

Straight line quilting

I have to say I am a huge fan of my domestic machine walking foot and straight-line quilting. Its my preferred quilting technique, when choosing a quilt design for my quilts, which are mostly minimalistic in design. I do find it so versatile.

Neighbourhood_Finished_Front_Closeup

I hear so often from folks how easy it is or how quick it is to do straight-line quilting. The comment of easy or quick sometimes irks me, as it lessens the effort and design thought that can be required for quilting straight lines. So, I am going to respectfully disagree that its easy and quick. Here’s my view-point on straight-line quilting, keep in mind everything below are my experiences and I only use a domestic machine for quilting:

  • For long lines – it is not easy keeping that line straight. There is a skill involved in creating those straight lines even when using a guide. I tend to use 1/2 inch quilted lines or smaller, as I can use by foot as a guide. NegativeCrosswalks_Closeup_label
  • You are constantly checking and re-checking lines to make sure they are straight. This means every few lines taking the quilt out of the machine, measuring, remarking your guidelines. I use painter’s tape and a ruler every 4-5 inches or so, make sure I don’t go too far before correcting if some skewness appears. Most quilters will have a tendency to go right or left as they quilt their lines.  Funny enough, I have an issue of bowing where the center gets warp but my ends are in line.
  • What if your lines to not go edge to edge? I don’t always plan to submit my quilts to a show but just in case, I always try to bury my threads. This is different that most FMQ designs that can be used more continuous motion. I have been known to spend 8-15 hours in just burying threads, after starting lines from the inside and making my way out, ensuring my quilting does not cause any puckering on the front or back of the quilt.
  • Lastly, I want the quilt design to add interest to the quilt and complement the quilt. The quilting for me is not usually the main focus but I do put a lot of thought into this aspect of the overall design. Choosing straight-line quilting, for me, is not just an after thought. Here are some examples where I hope you can see that.
    Fractions
    Fractions: 1 inch quilting of straight-lines. All thread was matched. Design was to make the inner square (on point) as one shape, as the corners of the lines converge where the triangles all meet. The outer quilting lines are color matched with the originating quilting lines, and the lines extend to through the border incorporating the border into the overall design.

    Sunday Best: Variety techniques of straight line quilting was used to provide interest in the various shapes. In the orange peel like block 1/2 inch straight line and crosshatch was used. This was to pull the focus to the various layers and centers of the 4 curved blocks.

    Abstract Trio _1

     


    Abstract Triangle I: A variety of 1 inch and 1/4 inch lines were used to highlight the triangular aspects to the design. The 1/4 inch quilting, in particular, was denser on the negative space here as it is used to pull aspects of the other two designs into this design – The straight lines on the left in the first image above, and the edge of the pink triangle in the second image.Spoonflower Sampler Quilt
    Spoonflower Sampler: 1 inch straight line angled quilting. The goal for this angled quilting was all the lines point and meet at the centered square of the middle block of the bottom row. Pulling the eye from the center and giving it some movement.

    AltitudinalEcosystem_HighRes_Brand

     


    Altitudinal Ecosystem: Used a variety of straight lines depending on the substrate I was quilting. The 1/2 inch straight lines were used for the mountain to represent strength and rigidity. The lake (dark blue) has a variety of line widths and directions representing the movement and fluidity of the water. The air was still using my walking foot though using ultra wavy lines to represent how air waves move.ItTakesAVillage_Front
    Takes a Village: Used 1/2 inch straight line quilting lines to draw path ways around the village. The center circled lines represents the town square, meeting place and each of the triangles individual quilted with 3 varying straight lined designs represent the roofs of houses in the village.

    PhasedCirclesComplete
    Phased circles: Uses all straight lines either as matchstick, crosshatch or 1 inch quilting designs. This quilt took 80  hours to quilt . Thread color matches the background fabrics.  The 1 inch lines were used on the border to incorporate the differences between volume of the border and the centers. The center squares densely quilted, as I wanted a flatter look so that the circles are popping out more, and have the low-volume prints stand out. This denser quilting pulls you in closer to look at the details.

    Neighbourhood_Finished_Front_Closeup

    Neighbourhood: Is a quilt that represents the house and fences in the neighbourhood. The angled quilting in this quilt was designed to add movement to the quilt. Your eye will travel each of the shapes that are formed with the quilting. To add to that movement variegated thread is used.

I know that straight line quilting is not as complicated as various free-motion quilting designs, especially compared to designs by folks like Angela Waters or Kathleen Riggins (who I have used in the past for other quilts). However, I think straight-line quilting does require skill and can be time-consuming (depending on your design). It should get the respect it deserves, and what it does bring to the design.

 

June project tracking

This is a little late, but I have finally got over my sewing mojo funk. Happy dance happening here!! I have come to realize that January through May are difficult months for me in terms of producing final products. I tend to get stuck on one project.  Great news, I rock the last 7 months though, and usually achieve my goal of 1 quilt a month by the end of the year (12 quilts).

The progress has been great so far this month!! I am super excited about moving forward. I finished a contract project a week early  (pictured, folded above), which was my second finished quilt of the year. I have another old WiP at the long-armer this month, it just needed a back. Lastly, the project that should have been finished in February will be done tonight – more on that one in another post.

Project Dates Current Status
 NY High Line  May June  TOP, BACK, BASTE, QUILT, BIND
 Project 1 (Secret)  June  TOP, BACK, BASTE, QUILT, BIND COMPLETED!!
Medallion July TOP (Underway), BACK, BASTE, QUILT, BIND
 Project 2 (Secret)  July  TOP, BACK, BASTE, QUILT, BIND
 Project 3 (Secret)  August TOP, BACK, BASTE, QUILT, BIND
Graveyard  August TOP, BACK, BASTE, QUILT, BIND
 Trellis  September  TOP, BACK, BASTE, QUILT, BIND
 Manicured Garden  September TOP (Underway), BACK, BASTE, QUILT, BIND
 Triangle Quilt September Pattern Release
 Square Dance September  Pattern Release
Abstract Triangles II & III October Pattern Release
Phased Circles & Lunar Lines  October Pattern Release

What I have learned about myself, is I am much more productive with a fuller plate and deadlines that are not my own. Don’t get me wrong but I will still procrastinate until the last-minute.  So, how do you all get over quilters block?