Book Project: Rotating Spokes {a finish}

I have not given up on my book “Idea. Design. Create. Quilt.” It is just taking more time than expected. I did finish another one of my book projects last year. This table runner, I am calling “Rotating Spokes”.  I love how it looks on our outside table in these pictures.

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This was inspired by an Art Deco style wrought iron balcony rail, I saw in New Orleans. I immediately a design formed, and it is repeated but rotated for each of the circle designs. The fabric choices were also an easy decision. I used:

  • Black Essex Linen (Background Fabric)
  • Recycled Clothes (T-shirts, wool trousers and Corduroy)
  • AGF Denim
  • Kona Cotton (Silver & White)
  • Various yellow prints
  • Various grey prints

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It took me a little while to decide on the quilting. In the end I decided to quilt the circles with 1/2″ straight line quilting. Where the triangles meet at a 90 degree angle, I have lines following the angle and making a crosshatch. The background is quilted in 1″ horizontal lines.IMG_7896

I realized fairly quickly that I did not want the family to spill food on it. So, I moved away from using it as a table runner and it’s found a home above our bed. It is a perfect width across our King size bed.

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This was one of my favorite finishes of the year.

Details

Name : Rotating Spokes
Design:
 Original Design
Fabric: Variety of Prints, Neutral solids, Recycled Clothes and Essex Linen
Binding and Backing: Carolyn Friedlander, Carkai Print
Dimensions:
15.5 x 80 in.
Quilted: Straight line quilting using Aurifil #2021

Squircle {a finish}

Can you believe it is mid-April?? How are you all doing with your isolation / social-distancing/ physical distancing??

Working from home has been interesting, as my work hours seem to have increased and now can be any from 8am-11pm.  Add making sure school schedules are being met, getting 3 meals a day on the table, and baking once a week…all seems overwhelming at times but we are making it through each day.

I have decided to start attaching up on my blog posts of some of my finishes and projects I am working on. I have been awful here on my blog, however those that follow me on instagram (@ml_wilkie) will have seen these. So let’s get started, first up is Squircle.

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Within the first year of quilting I joined the New Bloggers Blog hop. It was so good to meet people with a common interest and starting out on their quilting journeys, and many of them are still friends today. After the Blog hop 12 of us did a block party/swap (Scrap-bee-licious), where each of us gave instructions on our particular month and people made the block and sent them back to the person of the month. I sent every one a couple of Angela Pingel’s book “A Quilters Mixology: Shaking up curved piecing“. I asked for 2 six inch drunkard path blocks in particular color ways (blue or teal or aqua print for the pie and the crust in a neutral back ground (cream, white or grey). It was the first time for many of us sewed curves.

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At the end of the round these were the blocks I received. I was then stuck what to do with them. Do I make a baby quilt, as I don’t have enough blocks for a lap sized quilt? Could I add more drunkard path block? I decided to put them away for a while.

That landed up being almost 5 years later. Finally, I was inspired after seeing an Art Deco poster, that I could use these blocks for a lap sized quilt and transition from a circle to a square.

I am really happy how the quilt top turned out, and decided that I would get it quilted by Cary Quilting Company with an all over design.

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To get a picture of the finished quilt, I called up a couple of friends and we took the quilt out for a photo shoot at the NC Museum of Arts. It was a perfect outing with coffee and lunch, then the perfect light for a picture in front of this amazing mural.

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The quilt now lives with my friend in Houston, TX and her beautiful girl. I might make a couple more of these as they make great gifts/charity quilts and it was a quick make.

Details

Name : Squircle
Design:
 Original Design (with use of Angela Pingel’s templates)
Fabric: Variety of Prints and Neutral solids
Dimensions: 56 x 70 in.
Quilted: Cary Quilting Company using a circular design

 

 

Me

My word for 2020 is “Me”. Be myself, focus on my health, focus on me, do the things I want.

I don’t talk about myself very much, usually I just keep to my projects and Quilty stuff, as its easier to hide. I love this community, and want to be more involved, continue building deeper friendships and to me this means sharing more of me. The good and the bad.

2019 was a challenging year for me for so many reasons but I also had some amazing adventures. Experiences in 2019 are definitely driving my goals for 2020.

Amazing Adventures
I was so lucky last year to start my year off on a retreat with Amy Butler and Valori Wells in Morocco. It was one of the greatest things I have every experienced. Great friendships were formed, and mind blowing experience in color and inspiration. Highly recommend!!

I took a break from work and family, and went to New York for a long weekend. We walked 60,000 steps in 3 days, took great photos, talked art, architecture and Quilty things, saw and experienced so many places, and had great food.

Getting to spend time with my friends is always a highlight. Three events really stood out for my this year that really warmed my heart:

  • Spending time at QuiltCon and catching up with people IRL was very rewarding and exhausting all at once
  • Being involved in the Monster Drawing Rally at the North Carolina Museum of Arts, and having friends come out and support me.
  •  Having a girls weekend away, where we celebrated birthdays, did a mini quilt swap, sewed, talked, ate good food and drank a little wine.

Lastly, as a family we just got back from 2 weeks in Hawaii. It was so good just to spend time with each other, enjoy life away from the daily stresses and just reconnect. We loved the warm weather and all the great activities that nature had to offer.

These adventures helped with the balance, I so desperately try to accomplish every year. My biggest realization this year is that I needed to be even more flexible than I thought I was. Life is not something you control, things happen and you just have to adapt.

Health
I came to a realization that I was suffering from intermittent panic attacks. I never had them previous, just in the last 18 months or so I had 3-4 episodes where I thought I was going to die. It is so scary in the moment, getting pins and needles in your fingers, worried you are having a heart attack, mentally telling yourself you are fine it’s just panic but you’re not really in control. Finally, I talked this over with my primary care physician and we have a plan that involves improving my health, both physical and mental (by working on stress) and a plan for medication and relaxation exercises when I need it. So far, it has been going ok (no episodes in 6 months) but I need to refocus on the health starting this week, as its lapsed the last two months (mostly due to a change at work).

Work
I am a director at a large software company. It is an amazing company to work for and have done so for 21 years. I feel I have been successful in a, typically, male dominated environment. I want to share that success and have been working on supporting other women in my team to be successful and help them grow their careers. My job definitely influences the stress I feel. I think I have been balancing the stress better the last 12 month but I still have a lot to learn. I need to be there for my team, as many people depend on me to make decisions, handle escalations and lead them to success, but I also need to find personal balance.

Family
First off, I have to say I have the most supportive and loving husband anyone could ask for. He understands my need to hide away from people, even though he loves being around people. He knows I sometimes need down time which means tv or sewing in the evening or spending the whole weekend in my PJ’s. He also has chosen to be interested in my hobby and supports me by taking on child care when I am out teaching or on a retreat, he offers advise when asked.

But y’all, parenting is hard sometimes.

We are very lucky to also have a great 12 year old boy who is very caring. He loves animals and is so wanting a dog. He is a very logical and methodical thinker, and it’s so interesting watching him process things. He is a fun kid and still asks for cuddles before bed most nights.

School, though, has been very challenging this year. This is 7th grade for him. He has dyslexia and already works with an individual education plan and his teachers offer him a lot of support.  This year is the year of introducing independence, speaking up and asking for help for himself. He has been struggling with this and with organization which meant he does not keep up. The last two weeks of both semesters, there was a lot of catch-up work and rework needed. This meant working until 11pm sometimes and in the weekend and us supporting him.  To help him focus, he went without electronics for two weeks until he got caught up (we already have a 15 hour limit per week but that was dropped to 0 hours). We have had tears, seen stress a pre-teen can encounter with school (unfortunately), and also his drive in trying to be successful. We have a plan for next semester and hoping to see a huge improvement. By the way, we are continuing no electronics Monday through Thursday as he was a different kid and was more focused without devices.

Quilting
So quilting….this hobby brings me balance. It also has brought some of the best people into my life. Last year, other things though had to priority, so I had to make some tough decisions. I stopped submitting to magazines, I reduced my teaching and had a really slow start with projects as my energy was else where. When I quilted I really wanted it to be for enjoyment.

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Plan for 2020
Thinking about what would be best for “me” this year is a priority. So the plan is a looser than normal but here it is.

  • Working on my health with exercise, good eating practices and finding better ways to deal with stress are first on the list.
  • Spending more quality time with family – this means sticking to our device free Tuesdays and Thursdays, and a monthly activity around North Carolina.
  • I worry about where we are as a community (as a whole) and the state of the world, so I am creating opportunities to give back – I plan on giving away quilts where they are needed, continuing supporting women at work, supporting kids in giving them opportunities, and contributing to some key organizations that are doing good in this world.
  • I am going to focus on Quilty things I enjoy, and not overcommit this year as I work on life balance. I do still want to look for opportunities to share my art and take a couple of leaps but not stress or over think about them. I also have some key teaching opportunities I am looking forward to – QuiltCon (Austin) and Quilter’s Affair (Sisters, Oregon).

Thanks for sticking through my look back of 2019. I am excited about 2020. I would love to hear from you all about your chosen word for this year, your goals, or life challenges.

Artist Fundraiser Event @ NCMA

I have been working on transitioning more into being a textile artist lately which involved applying for an artist fellowship, putting a portfolio together, an artist statement, resume and thinking about pieces and project for a submission for a show.  I have to admit that I have had to think differently depending on event or application (below an example of one portfolio). It’s been a good process so far.

I also need more exposure as an artist and not just as a quilter. So, I decided to apply to participate in the North Carolina Museum of Art’s largest fundraiser event – Monster Drawing Rally. The museum is not big like the MET or SFMOMA but it is prominent in North Carolina. I was so thrilled that my portfolio was well received and I was given one of the seventy-five spots to participate.

The fundraiser was a 3 hour event where there were 3 shifts of artists. Twenty-five in each. Each artist had 50 minutes to produce one or more pieces (up to 4), no bigger than 11 x 17 inches. All pieces were sold for $50 and were “raffled” off.

I did prepare for the event and narrowed things down to 3 designs, worked on measurements up front and made sure I packed all the fabric, small iron and sewing machine. And yes, I was going to produce a stitched piece (not quilted) in 50 mins.

I was asked to be on in the last hour (8-9pm) which allowed me time to get food and walk around and see other folks. The Meltdown food truck made the best sandwiches and we had a great view of NCMA’s Ann and Jim Goodnight Park while we waited.

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Luckily, Nancy from @nancy_purvis, a friend and  a veteran (she also participated last year) was at the event too. She helped calm my nerves a little before the event and we were at the same table. She was on the hour before me stitching with paper.

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I was so nervous when my time came up. I set-up and got a good layout with the design on the left top, then below the cutting station, sewing machine in the middle and iron on the right. The pressure was amazing, I mean I have to produce something right there with people watching and asking questions.  Immediate lessons learned….Bring marketing (business cards etc) so people can walk away with your details and have a way to reach you later, precut what you can and change out the blade of your rotary cutter.

I worked on a blue and white minimalist piece. I made sure I did not rush, as I wanted a good quality piece. I thought it turned out well. The only thing I did not like was once I stitched it to paper it dragged the fabric slightly. Next time, I would use interfacing before stitching to the backing paper.

Once the piece was finished, it was place in a bag with two dots (red and green…meaning green was still available and this was removed once sold, leaving just the red). It was then walked to the “auction area” and folks opted in and pulled raffle tickets…highest number won. Below were all the folks that were bidding on my piece. Friends (as I was still in the artist area) reported back like 8-10 people were bidding!!!

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I was so thankful it sold straight away!! I was able to get a quick picture with me and the final pieces before leaving. fullsizeoutput_ff5

Below was the picture that is cataloged in the NCMA’s event. They sent out an image to every artist of all their pieces that were sold. I thought that was really nice. I think they will even connect you with the buyer once they get all the details collected. fullsizeoutput_fe8

I would definitely participate again next year as it was so much fun. It was great to see other artists. I hope my nerves are better the second time around as I would like to enjoy the other artists and the event more.

Outskirts of Denver {a finish}

I always love looking out the window when flying. There are so many interesting patterns you can see from above. I was on a trip flying into Denver when I saw this intersection of roads and was fascinated by the simplicity and space.

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The next day, I immediately started putting a design into fabric. I love the blue hue in the black of Kona Pepper and then the mix of white would be perfect to represent the simplicity, minimalism of the arial. This mini quilt top came together quickly, one afternoon of Sewtopia.

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Unfortunately due to other deadlines, the top went on the WiP pile though I had ideas for quilting already. Finally, when I picked it back up in July, I realized I wanted to make some changes. To keep the simplicity, I decided to move the curved line on the left and leave it negative space. Also, I had missed one of the lines coming off the vertical line, and wanted to have it in the design. Adding it as stitched ghost-like line seemed the perfect solution to the miss.

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For the quilting, I loved the idea of using various directional and spacing straight lines to represent neighborhoods or property boundary lines. In the end the texture of the quilting is amazing.

Lastly, I decided to face bind the quilt and not add a standard binding. One due to the size of the quilt but also to keep the minimal and simple look of the quilt. I really enjoyed the process of this one and how it turned out. I am hoping to enter it at QuiltCon later this year.

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Details

Name : Outskirts of Denver
Design:
 Original Design
Fabric: Kona Cotton (Pepper, White)
Binding: Carolyn Friedlander (Faced)
Backing: Neutral Scraps
Dimensions: 19 x 22.5 in.
Quilted: With 50wt Aurifil , using domestic machine walking foot, straight lines various directions and spacing

Spliced {a finish}

You never know when inspiration will strike. The family and I were on vacation at Lake Powell (AZ) and the carpet of the hotel caught my eye. I immediately had an idea for making this into a quilt. I just was not sure how.

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I subscribed to three magazines, Selvedge (textile based magazine), Quiltfolk (quilting community and connection) and Uppercase Magazine (arts and crafts). I love Selvedge  as it has amazing color palettes, and this issue (in photo) inspired the palette of peach, bronze, blue and greys.

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When revisiting the carpet inspiration, I thought they looked like broken Half-Square Triangles (HST). Experimentation with a column of HSTs and cutting them into threes of different widths was where I started. I shuffled the thirds, varying the placement and added filler strips to give this broken look.

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I was really pleased how it turned out and liked how the bits of color in the filler blocks could lend itself to a shift/transition between colors, especially thinking from light to dark.  I decided to take advantage of the transition affect in the mini quilt,  adding movement in the quilt.

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This finished mini was perfect for a gift/swap for a friend, and its so good to know that it has a good home.

Details

Name : Spliced
Design:
 Original Design,
Fabric: Painters Palette Solids, Paint Brush Studio’s
Binding: Painters Palette Solids, Paint Brush Studio’s
Backing: Gleaned, Carolyn Friedlander
Dimensions: 22 x 18 in.
Quilted: With 50wt Aurifil , using domestic machine walking foot, straight lines on the 45 degree diagonal with opposing overlapping lines in the center (1/2″ apart).

Spark to Design {#spark2design}

I am fascinated by what people miss seeing and experiencing on a daily basis. We all too often get stuck in a routine and distracted by our electronic, social media-based world. What details are we missing by not taking the time to really see and experience those things around us. I believe that with practice and intention, we can be inspired by patterns and design elements in objects we see or events we experience, every day. By seeing with intent, you could see the layered geometric designs of the concrete overpass structs, or the lines the bottom of a bamboo steamer or the unique pattern the moonlight casts through a window.

You can understand then, why my favorite part of making quilts is the design process of the quilt and then actually making that design into a quilt top. My typical process is finding elements in the world around me, photographing that image (the spark) and then creating a quilt design from that image. I love finding the geometry in things I see and looking at those individual elements and creating a design purely from one or two of the elements… breaking things down to the minimal components.

When I design and explore the elemental components, there are typically several editing and modification steps between the spark to final design. If I design on my computer instead of paper there are typically more iterations.

Let’s walk through a couple of spark to design processes that have been done using computer software. Note: I use Quilt Canvas which is a subscription based web tool.

Bridge

My friends and I were out for a drive at dusk in Nashville in February. I was in the passenger front side and as we went back to our apartment, we went under a bridge. I loved the arches and contrasting colors from the evening lights and the evening sky. As we drove this was the spark I captured through the car’s open window.

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Fascinated by the arches and how they look stacked this was the first design which I really liked where this was going but the left bottom arch just kind of hung in nowhere.

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To continue the eye fully to the edge I extended the second arch through to the edge which I really liked but it still had the issue of the lower arch hanging in no mans land.

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So what would happen if I joined the lines for the second and first arch in that bottom left corner. I loved the connecting lines and how they gave a little more flow and connectivity to the design.

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Yes, I liked this but I think we needed to have less negative space in that corner, so I dragged those connecting lines down to fill the bottom left corner.

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Now that the design was what I was looking for what if I played with the colors. I loved the color palette which was inspired by the palette of the photo. I think the additions of the orange and the red-brown adds interest and has a great 60s vibe.

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This was the final design. Yet to be made but is on my to do list (which is rather long).

Carriage

This year I went to Marrakesh, Morocco with Amy Butler and Valori Wells. It was one of the most amazing and inspiring trips. The color and tile work everywhere was mind blowing. In one of our shopping adventures, Valori and I explored an alley behind some of the craftsman shops. At the back there was this old carriage. The geometry of the rectangles and curves captured my eye, those shapes just fascinated me.

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First design was looking at the elements in the carriage, the rectangles of the stair like top, the curve of the undercarriage, then the rectangles of the body. I also had one that included the semi circle within the undercarriage curve but before I even saved the design I removed it as it just created additional noise.

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After the first design I questioned whether the curve was needed in the design, so I removed it. I really think that this was more due to the color I chose within that grey scale.

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Deciding that the curve needed to be part of the design I added it back but played with other areas trying to get a better balance between the greys to make the curve more part of the design.

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Finally, deciding that it was really the coloring was throwing the design off. I went to a pure two color design – red and white. I also made a couple of other simplifications:

  • Removed the use of borders vs. filled rectangles on the top stair portion. I kept all the rectangles as solid shapes.
  • Removed the second rectangle on the left side and representing this now by the lines and negative space
  • I also moved the design over to the right, extending those rectangles and lines on the left column.

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Again, wanting to make sure the curve was a good fit I removed it but decided to add it back, as I really like that curve. It was the core element that pulled me in originally.

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So, lastly after adding the curve, I shortened the line that was on the left that represents the edge of the missing rectangle. I liked the balance of this line and it stopping just over 1/2 way gave it interest, a hint that there is something in that space. It no longer creates a firm outline.

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Let me know if you have any questions. Happy to answer anything around design/quilt design.