Luscious Linen

I received a package yesterday from the lovely Kathy at Pink Chalk Fabrics. I’d ordered some linen last week for a small embellishment project I’m working on. I wanted the linen for the border of this small quilt since it has such nice texture and the color was so perfect.

I was a dressmaker before I was a quilter, so I’ve worked with linen before, but it’s probably been about 20 years since then. And of course, I was sewing clothing with a pattern that was pinned to the linen and cut out, not trying to rotary cut straight strips for a border. This was interesting. The linen kept moving in unanticipated directions at inopportune moments, and generally being a bit odd to work with. My mom would say it’s a PITA; Dad would call it “squirrely.” Continue reading “Luscious Linen”

Paisley Pavane arrives home safely!

I had a nice surprise in the mail last night: a box from the Museum of the American Quilter’s Society with my quilt inside! Paisley Pavane has been on tour or at the Museum since late 2005, so it’s good to have it home again.

Paisley Pavane by Nadine Ruggles

(Click on the photo for a larger pic and detail shots.)

I made this quilt for the MAQS New Quilts from an Old Favorites Contest at MAQS; the block theme for the 2006 contest was Dresden Plate. The purpose of the contest is to showcase innovative interpretations of traditional blocks. I’d had two other quilts accepted to the contest in prior years and I really wanted to enter, but couldn’t come up with a design I was happy with until really late in the game.

I’d really sort of given up on entering, and then I was digging through my stacks of in progress work looking for something else entirely, and I came across the pieces for the medallions that were made using a 9° wedge ruler. The idea took shape and I managed to complete the quilt in time for the contest, and the quilt was awarded a Third Place ribbon. Continue reading “Paisley Pavane arrives home safely!”

If you need another reason to love antiques…

Consider the inspirational value of a piece with lovingly hand carved details. While I was at the new antiques shop, I spied this beautiful piece, and had to go back with my camera to capture the feathery flourishes and interesting designs.

Antique detail

I looked at this piece in the shop, and all I saw were the designs. In my mind I could see these designs on The Misery Quilt, translated into quilting. I’ve been getting closer and closer to the machine quilting on that project while I’ve been trying to figure out what I wanted to do with quilting, and now I know.

Antique detail

The more I look at these pictures now as I’m loading them up, the more I love this piece of furniture. It’s not likely that it will make it’s way home though, for a number of reasons. For one, it’s bigger than a bread box, so there’s no room in the house for it. Two, ITMan doesn’t like it (he said so when we looked at it together) because it has too much carving.

Antique detail

“Too much” was my initial reaction as well, even though I love the designs and they are inspiring my own quilt art. But the more I look at the pictures and think about it, the more I can appreciate it. This thing would completely dominate a room, and you’d just have to plan for that and let it have it’s way. To be honest, I’ve realized that I don’t even know what it was, really. Was it a sideboard, a dresser, or what? I obviously had eyes only for the details!

Antique detail

I can’t wait to start drawing quilting designs!

Retreating to the comfort zone

For the last two (or maybe more) weeks, I’ve been trying to design the outer borders for the bird quilt (a.k.a. “The Misery Quilt“). I really thought it needed some curves in the outer border(s), and maybe some more embroidery of some sort as well. I did test stitch-outs of a couple of embroidery options, and just didn’t have that “this is it” feeling about any of it. I played around with a diagram of the quilt, drawing curved appliquéd borders, viewing with mirrors, and just wasn’t terribly happy with any of it. I tried designing an appliquéd border without planning any embroidery to go with it, and still wasn’t happy with it.

Soft-Edge Piecing

Soft-Edge Piecing,
by Jinny Beyer

After a few really grouchy days (I get like that when I’m creatively stumped), I finally threw in the pencil, and headed to the bookshelf for inspiration. As I’d already been through all my books on borders and design, as well as all the books like the MAQS Founder’s Collection with all its prizewinning beauties, I pulled out Jinny Beyer’s Soft Edge Piecing for starters. I’m working with a border print and the soft edge piecing technique was in the original plan for the quilt way back when, maybe ten plans ago now. I really didn’t expect to have a flash of inspiration at that point, but desperation had set in.

Maybe the quilting goddess is smiling on this quilt (finally!), because I did see something in the Soft Edge Piecing book that had me grabbing for my fabrics to try it out. Here’s the result (click for a larger view):

Birds quilt border

I really, really like it! I had that “this is it” feeling immediately. The border print looks prefect between the light and dark borders, and I already know exactly how I’ll quilt parts of it, too. (Oh, and you see that tiny little satin stitching? I used the same technique on another part of the borders for this quilt and I used my Pfaff machine. I tried it on the Bernina this time, Continue reading “Retreating to the comfort zone”

Quilt Retreat: Quilt, Eat, Sleep, Repeat!

High on the (very) short list of things to love about living here: spending the weekend quilting (and eating and sleeping) in an 850-year-old monastery. The Kloster Schoental, to be exact. The condensed version: good food, good company, good quilting, happy weekend.

The uncut version: Kloster Schoental is about one hour from my house, the last 20 minutes or so through little towns and scenic curvy roads. The Black Forest Quilt Guild has held it’s spring Quilt Retreat there every year for the last three, I think, and it’s just wonderful. The monastery has been modernized of course, but not to the point of losing it’s essence. We had a giant well lit room for quilting, and single or double rooms for sleeping. They feed us five times a day (yes, FIVE!): breakfast, coffee and tea break with pretzels and savory pastries, lunch, coffee or tea break with sweet cakes, and dinner, and drinks are available anytime. There’s plenty of room for everyone to spread out everywhere, for relaxing, quilting, talking, quilt basting, Irish dancing (really!), whatever. Continue reading “Quilt Retreat: Quilt, Eat, Sleep, Repeat!”

Creativity Derailed

Make no mistake, the almost-perfect fabric is indeed here, there’s just not enough of it.

Okay, here’s what happens all too regularly lately when I start quilting (it used to be that I never started quilting, because I never stopped quilting, but lately, life gets in the way most of the time :(): Last night as I went to sleep, I finally had an idea forming about what to do with the in-between parts on this Feathered Star quilt that I’m working on, the one with the borders that prompted the appliqué experiments. By “in-between parts” I mean the parts in between the star in the middle and the appliqué borders. So this afternoon, I sit down to draw out what I want to do on paper, and proceed to play with fabric, and begin to be happy that it looks like what I imagined it would be.

I’m playing along happily and enjoying the process (except for the fusible web part anyway), until I start looking at the whole thing together, the Feathered Star in the middle, the setting blocks around it, and the appliquéd borders, and I decided that the green is too, um…green and boring and there’s too much of it all together there, and I’d rather use something lighter between the center and the border.

Too green

A search ensues, and I find nothing in my stash that will work, it’s Sunday, and even if the Gussy Goose was open today they probably wouldn’t have what I needed anyway. Make no mistake, the almost-perfect fabric is indeed here, there’s just not enough of it. I say “almost” perfect, because if it was really perfect, it might not have flowers on it. This could be the story of my quilting life, and it happens so often that when it doesn’t happen, it’s a Quilting Warm Fuzzy Feeling occasion. If I had enough of this lighter green, I’d use it in the curvy parts on the setting squares around the star, and in the space between the star and the borders as you see it here. It just adds more sparkle to the whole thing. Sadly, it’s not to be, at least not today.

Much better green

This is one of the problems that can come up when you design as you go along, I suppose. This search for the perfect fabric is sometimes comical, really. I decide I need something else, and start digging through my carefully-sorted-by-color stacks of fabric, and sometimes, like today, I find the perfect (or almost perfect) thing, but there’s not enough yardage to make it work. Further digging yields nothing, and I continue to paw through stacks, and even look at other projects in progress thinking to sabotage them in favor of the current one. Usually I know better from the start, since I have an amazing memory for fabrics and patterns and I have a really good idea what’s in my fabric stash, and I know in the beginning that there’s probably nothing there.

There are those occasions when a fabric shortage and the resulting desperate search produces serendipitous creative solutions to the problem and the quilt is better for it in the end, but that just doesn’t happen all the time. It’s not happening today, for sure. I’ve looked and looked, even tried to sabotage, and it’s just not going to work. So, my creativity has been derailed completely, and I think I have to find something else to do at this point, like cook dinner or something equally boring. This project is officially on hold until the two quilt shops nearby are open again on Tuesday. sigh Hear me Birgit?? I’ll be coming your way on Tuesday!