Category Archives: Uncategorized

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.

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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.
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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 :-))

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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.
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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

 

 

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.

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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.

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    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.

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    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.

 

Improving my Instagram feed

I have been working bit by bit to improve my photo’s for my Instagram feed, to grow interest in my feed. I see such alluring images from others that I wanted to step up my game. I am by no means an expert, here are some of my experiments so far.

Staging photos, adding interest

The first thing was actually work on the staging of my photos. Everyone tells you how important staging is, and it is amazing how it drives a different interest in the photo. For example, I have two photos  of the same quilt that are similar, both taken and posted around the same time of day, same day of the week. Both, showing stages in my quilting process of one particular quilt.  The response of the photos were completely different.

The first uses no props. it just shows the quilt and the stage it is in. The topic of this photo was that it was time to start burying threads.

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The second, I added the Auriful thread options and the painters tape I was using for the straight line quilting, to the picture as the prop. The topic of this photo was I continue to do 1/2″ straight line quilting.
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The response was doubled in the second shot over the first shot.

Photo Quality

I have to admit, I had switched to using my iPhone full-time for taking pictures. This is mainly for convenience, I always have my phone. Also, my phone had higher pixels than my older digital SLR.

I was lucky enough, that my fabulous husband bought me a new Nikon digital SLR camera at Christmas. Oh, what a difference!!! The pictures are clearer, the colors more vibrant. I love it.

I am using these Campbell’s soup can’s as color palette inspiration. I wanted a quick shot and started off with my iPhone (5s). Note, these are photos before any editing. Not bad, but I wasn’t getting those vibrant colors as my eye was seeing. Also, I knew I will need higher resolution photo’s if I wanted to put these in my upcoming book.
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So, I switched to my SLR and was able to control the zoom, the color and crispness was improved. Note, I just point and click and use the camera’s defaults for this image, and again no editing yet.
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What has made using my SLR with Instagram so much easier, is my new SLR has a bluetooth feature and downloads from my camera to my phone. There is no need to move the photos from my camera to my laptop to my cloud and then to my phone.

Framing the Photo

I have loved my friend, Nicole @mamalovequilts, Instagram feed for the longest time. I have realized it has a lot to do with her staging and photo quality of her images. It also has to do with how she uses white negative space to frame her photos. I mentioned this to her the other day, and asked how she did this, whether it was with IG or another program. She uses an app PicTapGo ($1.99). I downloaded it yesterday and I love it already!!

I use it mostly for the framing of the picture, but have been playing around with their set of filters too. Let’s just focus on framing a picture, though. I find that framing the picture with more white negative space actually focuses my eye to the image more.

Here is the photo I posted yesterday, a closeup of a pineapple, which I love (border added around the screenshot so you can see the visual space in IG). This one has no negative space around the image.

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The second image is what I posted from PicTapGo with a IG Square Floating effect added. This adds negative space around all four sides of the image so its floating.
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Another image, of my new media stand. This is the image of what I posted in Instagram. IMG_8721

However, I like it much better with the floating negative space. To me it gives it a crisper and cleaner look.
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Today’s photo out on Instagram, is using a slightly different border effect. It is the IG Square Full, which adds borders to the long sides of the image but the short sides reach the full length of the space within Instagram.

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I am definitely no expert, as I mentioned. I still have steps to go to increase interest on my Instagram page. If you are with the MQG, here is a recent article by Christopher @the_tattooed_quilter on social media and photography. 

Some of the other Instagram feeds that I find inspiring (not all are quilting related):
Nicole @modernhandcraft
Hillary @entropyalwayswins
Kate @teaandkate
Giuseppe @Giucy_Giuce
Helen @helen_dardik
Nicole  @mamalovequilts
Christopher @the_tattooed_quilter

I’ll keep you posted how things go, I am looking into videos next. I would love to hear how or what has worked for you.

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Grey: Guest Posts {Nydia Kehnle + Nicole Daksiewicz}

This month’s color is Grey. We have two amazing guests this month. I am so excited for you to read their posts.

First up, is Nydia Kehnle. I met Nydia during Quiltcon 2015 and have always loved her work. Her improvisation quilt that included both machine quilting and hand quilting, won an award that year.  She is an amazing designer, and photographer. I have been so excited to see her quilt pattern/design collaboration with Alison Glass, her releases of embroidery designs and experimentation with improvisation. Recently, she has been teaching some of her techniques at Glamp Stitchalot and next year at Quiltcon. Check out her thoughts on photography and how it influences her use of Grey.

Blog: http://www.nydiakehnle.com/
Instagram: @nydiak
Shop: http://nydiakehnle.bigcartel.com/

Nicole, from Modern Handcraft, was one of the first people I met in this virtual crafting world. If you don’t know her, she has a great sense for modern design and craft beers/ciders. You might know her from her Hexie projects but she has recently been releasing some amazing new quilt patterns. Grey is one of her favorite neutrals. Find out how she uses grey in her projects and in naming her son ;-).

Blog: http://modernhandcraft.com/blog/IG: @modernhandcraft
Shop: https://shop.modernhandcraft.com/

 

Black + White: Guest Post {Christa Watson}

This month’s color for the Colour Blog Series is Black + White. Christa Watson (IG: christaquilts) is our guest this month.

Christa’s blog was one of the first blogs I started to follow, when I started on this quilting journey. I finally got to meet her at Quiltcon 2015, a highlight for me of the show. She has since showed her flare and brilliance with Domestic Machine Quilting with the following book releases : Machine Quilting with Style and The Ultimate Guide to Machine Quilting. Both of which I can highly recommend.

Today, on her blog she talks about her choices and makes using black and white. Her use of black and white is very graphical and she uses pops of color to add additional interest. It’s a great read.

I’ll be back later this week with my perspective of using black + white in quilts.