Author Archives: mlwilkie

About mlwilkie

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

Community {Part II – Group Activity}

Part II of my community posts is about how you can foster your community with your own group activity, in this case a traveling quilt.  This past year, I had the amazing pleasure to work with Melanie, Valerie, Melissa, Jen, and Sarah in a traveling quilt group. I knew all these wonderful people before we formed this group and knew that we had similarities and an interest in modern quilting. I think its important to work with a group of people you know and and have common things like style, fabric choice and techniques.

Traveling Quilt Concept

How the traveling quilt group worked….well,  we each created a starter kit that described a theme and what we wanted to receive. This kit included:

  • A journal that described the theme, color palette, styles or techniques you wanted. Each person was to add their thoughts around what they created to the journal as it travelled.
  • A “starter” which could be a block or a row in the theme and colors that you chose, so that the person can have an example to work with.
  • Some additional fabric to work with, though folks could add their own as they created their work.
  • Some included a small gift but it was not mandatory.

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Each person (as there were six of us) had two months to add to the quilt. We knew life would get in the way so timings were flexible. Note though, communication was important and if you were late you needed to let folks know where you were up to and how late were you going to be.

Let me take you through a year in our traveling quilt experience (also check out #travelingstitches2018 for more progress shops by others in the group)

My Theme

So before we talk about my theme and project let me give you a little bit of an introduction to me, which I seldom share.

Many of you know I grew up in New Zealand, but I really have not shared my experiences of growing up. My parents were very young when I was born (Mum 18, Dad about to turn 21). They were just starting out, and their first house was in South Auckland, Papatoetoe. I loved growing up in Papatoetoe, and appreciated the education I got, the friends that I made and the opportunities extended to me (Schools: Papatoetoe South Primary, Kedgley Intermediate and Aorere College). What I didn’t realize, until I moved away from New Zealand, is what an amazing multi-cultural experience I was exposed too growing up here. To me this was just the community I belonged to and was welcomed into, it was Whānau. Exposure to the arts of each of the cultures – Maori, Samoan, Raratongan, Tongan, and Fijian has definitely influenced my design and quilting styles.

So what was my theme for my traveling project – was on Maori design. My goal choosing this theme was to share a little bit of my home with everyone and introduce them to a new language, culture and design aesthetic. Aspects that needed to be incorporated in their designs: geometry, black+white+splash of red, no improvisation.

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My starter blocks were of a triangular design 60″ long representing a Tukutuku panel from a wharenui (Meeting house) and a design inspired by a Moko (tattoo).

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After a year, you get back all your blocks. I was so impressed, everyone did an amazing job. I laid out all the blocks and worked on the final design for the top. This process was extremely emotional but helped me work through a lot of feelings around the Christchurch terrorist attack, that had occurred 3 days previously.
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Melissa

Melissa’s theme “Ode to the Rhombus”, was inspired by Josef Albers Ode to the Square and his interaction of color. She chose an amazing color palette mostly greens with some dark blues. It was such a fun project, I immediately had a plan and inspiredly our bathroom fan.

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With the blocks, I explored the impact on how colors interact with each other and enjoyed the discoveries along the way.

Melanie

Melanie’s concept was about interpretation. She provided everyone with the same instructions, but how you interpreted them was really up to you. At the time of reading the instructions, I was feeling like exploring maximalism within minimalism. Yes, my blocks are the ones where the white strips appear very wide (chunky). By using just black and white you could really see how interpretation played such a large role. At this point, Melanie, Melissa and I had contributed blocks.

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Jen

Jen’s project was one of the most challenging for me. She wanted us to investigate who we are and design blocks thinking about your soul and expression…..and using a yellow only palette!! As I thought about this over a course of a couple of weeks, two ideas emerged. One, that I wear my heart on my sleeve (I could never play poker). This idea was represented by having the seams visible (middle bottom block).

The second idea started with the fact I am a true introvert, most people just don’t realize it. The window block on the right, has the window frame (white) disappearing into the background….and that is so me in a group setting, especially with people I don’t know or a large group. More importantly, while making this block, I realized that I do like being in the background.

Valerie

Strips in navy, white and pops of yellow was Valerie’s theme. I played with a log cabin them and deconstructed it in a few different ways to come up with these blocks.

Choosing the navy as the negative space, I thought was important to the overall balance of the blocks that had come before me (Valerie, Jen, Melanie, and Melissa).  Here is what all the blocks looked like when I passed it off to Sarah – the lucky last to add to Valerie’s quilt.

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Sarah

Lastly, I got to add to Sarah’s quilt. Her theme was outdoor open spaces in the west and she talked about how inspired she was by Utah, Arizona etc. As I had just spent a week at the National Parks in Utah, I did not have problems coming up with inspiration.

The cairns block on the left is appliquéd and inspired by Leon Polk Smith’s work. The mountain block (right), I really wanted to added layers to the foreground to represent the soil or the modified vegetation. I thought this tied in Sarah’s job as an archeologist.

Fostering community with Group projects

This was such a fun activity and I can highly recommend it, but choose your participants carefully. Other ideas for group projects:

  • Choose a theme, and color palette, and just have folks send blocks to you instead of making it a traveling quilt or round robin like activity.
  • Organize a group to explore concepts with each other fostering feedback etc.; Quilt Design a Day for example (more on this later)
  • Charity quilts – making charity quilts for a common cause always pull people together.
  • Sew-ins or quilting bees or retreats with friends or guild members (more to come on this as well)
  • Instagram events like quilt alongs, or daily practice activities (#100days)

Also, don’t forget fostering your community does not always have to be sewing related. Try setting up just social events with your quilting community:

  • A potluck lunch or dinner.
  • Picnic at a local park with family included.
  • Visit an exhibit together at a museum, quilt show or state fair.
  • Movie night, this maybe at a local outdoor event, or rent “How to make an American Quilt” (still with a quilt theme).
  • Met at a local bar, restaurant or cafe.
  • Try other art activities together like pottery or art+wine.

These are just some ideas I have tried. What have you all tried to do as a group to foster your quilty community?

Community Posts:
Community Introduction – Part I

Community {Part I}

Sorry for the leave of absence. No excuses here, just life getting busy. I come back with a conversation dear to my heart, that I want to explore more with you all. Community.

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Quilting has provided me with an amazing community which I did not have before. I am extremely lucky to have a great group of women around me who I call friends. They are there to listen, offer support and laugh or cry. These women are not just local to me but are also people I met virtually online.

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Isn’t it funny how some things have changed but others have not. Quilting not only has bought me my community but think of the quilting bees/circles of women who have come before us who also found community. You can easily find photos of women, in the past, sitting on front porches hand stitching and making quilts. It has been such an iconic past-time that a movie was made about it “How to make an American Quilt” (based on a book by Whitney Otto), then more recently, finding community via quilting has been the center of Frances O’Roark Dowell’s audio book (Quilt Fiction podcast) “Friendship Album 1933”.

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Looking back has made me ask questions about my experiences such as;

How did I become part of community and how did it start?
What have I contributed to the community? What can I do to give back?
What makes community strong and keep them going?

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I don’t have all the answers yet (and likely never will) but over the next few posts I would love to explore and share my own community experiences with you all. Also, I would love to hear from you all about your own experiences. Let’s explore similarities, how did you find your community, share things that worked for your group, things that didn’t work out (without it being at someone’s expense – always be nice) or are you still looking for your people?

Book Project: Group {a finish}

As part of my book, I want to show people how to work together as a group designing a quilt. So, I have a couple of projects that highlight a couple of ways of doing that. The first group project is all finished and counts as my last finish of 2018.

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I had some amazing people contributed. A big thank you to all those that volunteered.

Lynne @monkeyneedle
Paige @quiltedblooms
Tania @iamgingerq
Nicole @mamalovequilts
Sophie @lunalovequilts
Jenn @jennrodriguez1
Melissa @meliherboth
Louise @imfeelincrafty
Valerie @valbetweenquilts
Rebecca @creativeblockquilts
Abigail @cutandalter
Sharon @sharonhollanddesigns

Check out who made what on my instagram feed (@ml_wilkie).

Once I received the blocks I decided that I did not want them all straight and very grid like, and wanted to add some wonkiness. This was accomplished with the sashing between blocks. The other thing I decided I wanted to do was add a color key of the palette used in the quilt. This was accomplished with the flying geese addition on the bottom right.

I had decided early on that most of my quilts for my book, I will be paying for someone else to quilt. It is not my favorite part and if I waited for me to quilt them all, we would never be finished. Luckily, in the quilting community there are lots of people who love this part of quilting. Krishma (from @krishmaquilts) is one such person and does amazing work. I have watched Krishma on social media grow over the last few years and her quilting skills are impressive. I asked her to quilt this one for me. She did an amazing job.

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Lastly, the binding I added was to ground and frame the quilt. Navy blue was an obvious choice, however, this particular C+S print was perfect. I loved the grid look but the small  surprises were in the colors that matched the quilt…white and pink/coral. A perfect finish.

Details

Name : ??? still needs a name – open to suggestions. 
Design:
 Design as a group
Fabric: Defined color palette use of solids and prints; whatever was in stash
Binding: C+S
Dimensions: 
Quilted: By Krishma from Krishma Quilts

The quilt is done but I don’t have a name for it. If you have any ideas, please leave a comment?

 

 

 

Mt. SohCahToa {a finish}

When designing a new quilt design, I am usually inspired by things around me and what I have seen. This time was no different. This past year (April 2018), we had the most amazing road trip in Utah and a smidge in Arizona. We visited 7 national parks and a couple of other parks in 7 days (Arches, Canyonlands, Natural Bridges, Monument Valley, Glen Canyon Dam, Horse Shoe Bend, Antelope Canyon, Zion and Bryce Canyon @ml.wilkie_adventures).

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More images of our trip you can check out my other Instagram account (@ml.wilkie_adventures)

It was such an inspiring trip. One of the images that made me think of a quilt design was one of the La Sal Mountain range seen from Arches National Park. The continuous looking peaks lead me to a design using lines of angled triangles. The color’s represent the snow-capped peaks and rock base. These colors are also inspired by the color of the mountains from a distance.

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I submitted the design to the MQG for a Quilt of the Month and it was released in December (lucky last of the year).  Knowing that I had to make a pattern from this, meant I actually needed to consider repeatability and provide measurements that when making  I wouldn’t normally worry about.

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After some trail and error, I paper pieced the triangles as accuracy of those triangles were important to the overall design. In a hilarious conversation with friends on working out the length of those rows, I broke out my math skills. As these are isosceles triangles, I divided a single triangle down the middle and worked out 1/2 Base using the right-angled triangles using some geometry (Soh-Cah-Toa). This gave me enough to calculate the length of those rows for you all but more importantly a few laughs with friends. When it came to naming the quilt, this conversation lead to the name.

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For quilting, I used a light blue grey Aurifil thread for some 1/2″ straight line quilting. I used the horizontal lines of the triangles as a guide. As a surprise, adding more interest, some echoed triangles were stitched randomly into the quilting lines. You’ll find these not only within the triangles but also echoed in some of the negative space.

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Lastly, I wanted to highlight that last horizontal lines (the base of the snow line). I did this using two different colors in the binding and color blocked it to match the fabric color palette in the design.

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Details

Name : Mt. Soh-Cah-Toa
Design:
Design by myself
Fabric: Paintbrush Studio’s Painters Palette Solids.
Binding: Paintbrush Studio’s Painters Palette Solids
Dimensions:  60″ x 60″
Quilted: Straight Line 1/2″ with inset echoed triangles

If you are an MQG member, you can get this free pattern from the resources web page here.

Correlation {a finish}

I am not very good at following through on activities that require something every day, whether its following a diet and tracking, or doing a 30 day or 100 day challenge. However, I was given an opportunity to participate in a 100 day showcase, and decided to take it. I had this idea that had been percolating for a while.

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The idea and initial limits were:

  • Use a variety colored angled blocks together in one quilt
  • Use of two colors and white per block
  • Angles for each color were cut without planning (improvisation).
  • Use my Denyse Schmidt Free Spirit solids box that I had been saving in a draw for years.

The process of creating blocks was very interesting and a few additional design decisions were made along the way:

  • By day 20, I already felt overwhelmed by the angles and color and thought it needed more balance. So, single white blocks were incorporated into the design to provide much needed negative space. I think this is a great example of how to use negative space and how it can interact and be part of the overall design.
  • I added two additional block modifications. I included 3 blocks with one color and white, more as accent pieces. I also included 3 blocks with just two colors and no white.
  • I alternated the direction of the blocks to create some great negative space designs.
  • I also started positioning them on a diagonal gradient like a scatter plot / correlation (hence the name and relates to my day job).

I loved how it turned out. I love the color, the balance and the fact there’s always something to find in the blocks. Check out #100daysofcoloredangles for progress shots.

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For the quilting, I knew I was going to use straight line quilting. I also though about the quilt as a single block, so the quilting was done at angles like one of the original single block designs. I taped out the angles I was going to use, and leveraged the 1″ think tape as border lines for the 1/2″ quilting lines. In each area the lines follow various angles. IMG_5156

The binding was matched to one of the accent pieces, which I am super pleased with how that turned out.

I have multiple ideas now for additional quilts of this nature and will probably make one or two more. It was fun and very happy to add the easier negative space blocks to the quilt. It made the 100 days much easier to complete.

Details

Name : Correlation
Design:
Design by myself
Fabric: Kona White; Denyse Schmidt, Modern Solids, Free Spirit
Binding: Kona Aruba
Dimensions:  55 x 60″
Quilted: Straight Line 1/2′ quilting with Aurifil 2021.

 

Manicured Gardens {A finish}

Manicured Gardens is my first finished project for my book. I am so happy how it turned out. Each of the blocks are made using needle-turned appliqué.  As my book will be on design, I am going to make you wait for my book for more details on inspiration, fabric selection, and other design choices. I am hoping will be done this coming year (such a tease I know). I have made my book the focus for 2019, and in doing so limited my other commitments. I really want to have it done so I can share it with you all.

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I asked Suzan from Singing Stitches if she could custom quilt it, as I had seen her amazing work on a couple of other quilts (made by a friend of mine). We had a great conversation on what I was looking for and she did an amazing job.

I did decide to enter it into our local state fair recently where it placed first in Dual quilts and also received one of the top four prizes. I was so excited it placed well. This quilt is so hard to capture in photos, it’s so much more in person.

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The photos are courtesy of my husband and son, as I cannot stand crowds. So the boys went to the State Fair for me and took a few pics. Aren’t they amazing!!

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Anyway, I get asked about a pattern for this quilt….The pattern will be available for this quilt as an exclusive add-on/supplement for the first 100 or so copies of the book. I then plan to sell the pattern as an individual release in a couple of months following the book release.

Details

Name : Manicured Gardens
Design:
Design by myself
Fabric: Alison Glass Fabrics with white on white/cream fabrics
Binding: Alison Glass
Dimensions:  50 x 50″
Quilted: Suzan deSerres, Custom quilted

 

Snowfall {A finish}

I am excited to say that Snowfall, was released last month in Love Patchwork and Quilting. I love how this quilt turned out.

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The idea behind the design and quilt was discovered when looking at a wall divider in our local art museum (NCMA). The wall divider had this slight gradation of negative space. That idea and shapes lead to this diamond based quilt.

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I wanted to keep the design simplistic so you can focus on the change in shape size and the decrease in Negative space. This led also to the dark grey and white colors and use of solids.  The slant direction adds interest due to the two variant shapes that can be seen in the negative space.

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As this is a repetitive block design, it is perfect for chain piecing. You will need to find a way to speed up to get through this 12 x 12 block configuration (144 blocks).

The current quilting was done by Cathy Kirk @thequiltingcowgirl, a 3 in. grid in keeping with the minimalistic style. I do plan to add in some hand quilting to highlight some of the star patterns in the negative space.

Finally, the back adds a little bit of spice/interest. It is a pieced back made from left over great/yellow prints.

Details

Name : Snowfall
Design:
Design by myself
Fabric: Kona Cotton (White, Steel)
Binding: Kona Cotton and Carolyn Friedlander print
Dimensions:  60 x 60″
Quilted: Cathy Kirk, @thequiltingcowgirl  Straight Lines ~ 3 inches apart