by Emma Thomas-McGinnis, artist & quilter
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Project Quilting 2:5

March 27th, 2011 | Posted by Emma in All | Quilting - (3 Comments)

Flying Geese Challenge

So, very sadly, I missed Challenge 5 because we had to go out of town on Thursday and I just couldn’t get this project done in time. But I had started it on the Sunday of the challenge and tried really hard to get it done in time, so I decided I just had to finish it as soon as I finished Challenge 6. Besides, I promised this one to Brennan, so I couldn’t leave it unfinished forever.

The challenge was to use the traditional flying geese quilt block in some way AND to use a complementary color scheme.

So, instead of just using the block, I decided that “Flying Geese” would be the WHOLE story behind my project. I took those flying geese triangles and turned them into REAL little flying birds in a mobile!!

Each triangle was given a beak and stuffed lightly to be a stylized goose.

For the top of the mobile,  I made a quilted circle of flying geese using paper-piecing. (I think it’s the same pattern that Dashasel used in the winning piece, although I didn’t know that at the time I was making it!!)

So, I made that circle of flying geese, sandwiched it like a real quilt, with peltex stiff interfacing to make it stiff. Then I wrapped a wooden embroidery hoop with blue satin ribbon, to really reinforce the circle and ensure it stayed stiff. I hot glued the quilted circle to the hoop. Here you can see the hanging. It was a windy day this morning, so you can’t tell, but it really hangs straight!

This photo shows how much Brennan really loves it!! I think we’ll hang it down in the play room in the basement…but he wants in the living room so we can see it “ALL THE TIME”, isn’t that sweet?!

I’m sad that I didn’t get to enter the Project Quilting contest for this round, but at least I got this great project done because of it!! Project Quilting is so great!!

Project Quilting 2:6

March 26th, 2011 | Posted by Emma in All | Quilting - (1 Comments)

Large Scale Fabrics Challenge

Finally, I have a project to tell you about!!! I have had a rough March as far as getting things done, but I’ve had lots of things in the works. I’ll tell you about more of them later, first I have to show you this challenge project, I love it!

The challenge was to use a large scale fabric. Here’s mine. I loved that white mum in the center and the very elegant leaves.

So I came up with a plan to make a three-dimensional version of the mum. I had socked away this “Snow Mum” pattern from Amy Butler a while ago, so I had to go search it out. I also had this paper-piecing pattern for a circle of flying geese I made for another project. (I’ll show you that whole project later!)

I modified it to have more background and eliminated the geese to make this background.

Here you can also see that I quilted around the designs in the background fabric, since they were so subtle in contrast, but the real story behind the quilt, so I had to make them stand out more. I think it really worked. Even white leaves on cream are visible when quilted around!

Here’s the mum placed on the background! It’s made from two layers of wool blend felt fused together, then the individual petals cut out, sewn down the centers a little to give them curve and then sewn to a circle one by one. My sewing machine couldn’t stitch through all those layers of felt without skipping a lot of stitches, so I ended up stitching them all on by hand. The center has some stained brown wooden beads, because the fabric design had those brown seedy centers, too.

I loved it! It fit perfectly to make just those spinning orange star points pop, but still shows plenty of the background fabric! Then I thought it was getting a little too symmetrical and circular, so I added a little interest with a blue leaf branch. I made those out of felt with a real nice blue/green cotton coordinate fused on, then cut out and sewn to florist wire, so I could make them pose just perfectly!

The last finishing touch was part of the challenge, it required a stripe or plaid to be used somewhere in the piece. Perfect, I love stripe bindings and this pretty peach/orange subtle stripe coordinated perfectly and added a little more spin yet. I cut it on the bias, so the stripes slant like a candy cane AND it wrapped around the circle perfectly smooth without any tucks!!

I’m so proud!

And it looks really beautiful in my studio.

Public Vote Winner

March 5th, 2011 | Posted by Emma in All | Quilting - (0 Comments)

A big thank you…

to all my friends who voted for my quilt in the Project Quilting public vote!!! I was so pleased to be the winner!

My “Palettes” quilt also won third place in the Judges choice contest.

Here are the first and second place quilts.

Second Place: “After the Rain” by Pam Geisel of For Quilts Sake
Yellow Springs, Ohio

 

 

First Place: “Connectivity Quilt” by Marcia Wachuta – Marcia’s Crafty Sewing and Quilting
Boscobel, Wisconsin

Congratulations to the winners! Make sure to click on the photos above to find out the stories behind the quilts.

Hardware CHALLENGE!

February 28th, 2011 | Posted by Emma in All | Quilting - (0 Comments)

I just finished another Project Quilting weekend…and it was a toughy! I’ve had trouble with this one from the very beginning. I started thoughts on about three different projects and when I had a great idea…it still didn’t go very smoothly! BUT, the results were really worth it!! So, oh well, better luck next time!

Here’s the finished quilt.
The voting is up here.

and the story…

Why does spray paint come in such basic colors? That’s the thought I had in the hardware store looking at the rows of red, yellow, blue, and white. Moving a little further down the aisle, yes, there are the paint chips that offer a wider rainbow of colors…but still, I started thinking about my stash of fabric and the wide range of possibilities there in comparison to that aisle of spray paint!! How lucky are quilters?!

This quilt is 45″ x 33″. It is all pieced. There is a clear vinyl pocket on the bottom, holding real paint swatches from the hardware store (who can resist grabbing those as you walk by?!) The 1″ inner blue border is the exact blue of painter’s tape (the third item from the challenge).

Here are some other photos. The inspiration:

Here are some of the working stages. I started with the center, an abstracted version of the spray paint cans on the shelves of the hardware store. I sketched it unto a big piece of brown paper and then started to piece it. It was basically free-style piecing…making stripes and then laying them down on the sketch and trimming to the right size.

Then I wanted to incorporate the paint swatches from the hardware store and I wanted to include the actual swatches, they were just so beautiful. At the hardware store they are stored in clear slots so they make a beautiful visual impact, so I did the same thing with a vinyl pocket!

The painter’s tape border was pretty fun! I needed some tape for quilt-sandwiching anyway, so I picked some up at the hardware store and held it up at the fabric store until I found the perfect blue. The size is 1″, because that was the most common size tape to buy at the hardware store!

Lastly the outer border was to be a wide array of quilting fabric. I started just trimming the size I wanted out of all my scraps and laying them out in a nice sequence. Before you know it I had a rainbow going and started to get obsessive about making it a continuous rainbow around the quilt!! This ended up taking the most time and I was really feeling crazy while working on it. But now I know that it really made the quilt spectacular!

You could say that I was really crazy when I went to my computer and drafted the corner pieces for paper-piecing so that they would turn around so nicely! But I think that was worth it for the wow factor too!

I don’t know why I can’t just think of quick and easy projects! Next challenge, my extra challenge to myself will be to come up with something so clever and brilliant because of it’s simplicity and ease of construction, not necessarily the coolest idea.

’til then, I’m proud of what I accomplished last week!

Go see the other entries and vote for your favorite too.
Kim's Crafty Apple

Project Quilting 2:3

February 13th, 2011 | Posted by Emma in All | Quilting - (0 Comments)

The challenge: “Be My Valentine” using a color scheme other than red or pink as the dominant colors and not using the word “Valentine” on the piece…

My interpretation is a vintage valentine crazy quilt. I love crazy quilts and the Victorian romantic images of cupids, couples and roses just called me to make something really pretty! My color scheme is mostly neutrals, taupe, cream, brown, tan, with a little rose and pink and some light green and lavender. Of course, for a crazy quilt it had to be somewhat colorful!

I printed the images on white cotton fabric early in the week. Then I made crazy quilt blocks with my little stash of fancy fabrics (which is quickly dwindling now) adding in some pretty floral cottons to fill it out and get the color scheme right. I did the hand embroidery every evening this week and a little on Saturday afternoon, watching TV. I really love sitting down to do handwork, it’s so relaxing!

Part of the point of Project Quilting is to push your creative limits, so I learned a new skill for this project: PIPING! A fancy pillow really needed a fancy edge, so I just got out a book about edgings and finishes and there it was. I didn’t have the right cord, but a few strands of cotton yarn twisted together worked pretty well. I like the soft rounded corner the piping created too.

Here are some details…

Here’s the piping edge.

And I have had this square of upholstery fabric set aside for something wonderful, I was excited to get it out of the drawer and find that it was perfect for the back!

Yeah, another project COMPLETED in a week! Project Quilting is an amazing motivation!

Project Quilting Winner!

February 5th, 2011 | Posted by Emma in All | Quilting - (0 Comments)

My Buttonwillow quilt won first place “Judges Choice” in Project Quilting this week!! Yippee!

Here’s the link to the announcement.

“And in First place taking home $10 to FabricsNQuilts AND $15 to FabricFascination with an average score of 9.4375 is:

Buttonwillow, CA

Quilties!

Here’s what the Judges had to say about ‘Buttonwillow’:

Judge 1: This is a very clever use of the name of your town. Great play on the word, love it.

I love the button border and am glad you opted for the extra color. Your 3D leaves are great.

Judge 2: I really like how you chose to go tall and narrow, and focus on a macro view instead of the entire tree. The tan fabric gives a great sense of place. Keeping the leaves rough-edged gives a natural feel and they are cohesive with the fringed edges of the linen, which is a great texture. I love the layering of the leaves and how they go 3-d at the bottom. The randomness of the button colors, sizes, and placement gives nice pop to the piece.

Judge 3: Great project. The dimension of the willow leaves is wonderful and I love the way they float over the edges of your quilt. The brown linen with the fringed edge gives another dimension. The buttons make a great frame. I’m glad you mixed the colors.

Judge 4: What a beautiful little wall hanging. “Buttonwillow” certainly lends itself to a literal approach to the challenge, and I love the fact that it bridges nature and craftiness! Your technique for creating the willow branches and leaves was spot-on – you achieved a very realistic and yet stylized design. The buttons around the outside add a lot of character to this piece, and I believe your decision to introduce a wider variety of color was the right one. My favorite part of this piece was your choice of the brown linen and the decision to fray the edges. It’s not an “in your face” detail but, once noticed, it adds that special little touch. Great work!”


I love what the judges said! I really like what Judge 4 said, that it “bridges nature and craftiness” because that’s something that describes me a lot. I love nature and often choose to celebrate it in my quilts!

Kim didn’t include one of the judges criticisms in her summation, so I will. Judge 3 said “My one criticism is that the edges seem to wave a little.  Maybe it could be blocked?” and that is really true. It was straight until I sewed on all those buttons!! I think I will “block” it and see if I can fix that. That means I will wet it down and lay it out flat to dry, stretching it straight if I need to. I read someplace that one blogger blocks all her quilts! I don’t know if I’ll start doing that, but when I need to, at least there’s a fix that won’t involve cutting it up and starting over!  Here’s one of the tutorials I read about quilt blocking. And here’s what Leah Day has to say about blocking your quilt.

Now I get to go pick out some new fabric with my gift certificates for winning! Yeah!!

Buttonwillow PQ2:2

January 30th, 2011 | Posted by Emma in All | Quilting - (0 Comments)

The title of this quilt is “Buttonwillow, CA” because the challenge was to choose the name of location as the inspiration for a quilt. I just scanned Google maps for a few minutes and found Buttonwillow, CA. The challenge was not to know anything about the place itself, just the name….

Anyway, here’s my piece and the description I submitted for Project Quilting Round 2:2

“Buttonwillow, CA; what a great name! My husband thought it might be cheating that the name sounded so much like a quilt, but I thought it was too good to pass up! And maybe not everyone has a favorite tree, but I definitely do and it’s a Weeping Willow! I love the way the leaves drape so elegantly. This quilt is tall and slender at 12″ x 18″ plus 2” tabs. The backing fabric is a tan cotton print with sketchy architectural details that reminded me of things we saw while visiting southern California (Santa Barbara, San Louis Obispo and more), so I thought it was fitting for this piece to give it a little California flair. It is also a good backdrop for the nice light brown linen and the variety of buttons. I started with all tan buttons, but opted for a wider variety and I really like the sparkle of color in the border. It keeps your eye moving around the piece.

Also be sure to notice the 3-dimensional willow leaves along the bottom and edges of the branch. It adds to the layering effect of a real willow branch and bridges the border and center for a united piece.

Made in Urbandale, IA by Emma Thomas-McGinnis”

Other notes about the process…

I made the 3-dimensional leaves with 2 layers of green fused together. First I made them, cut them out and then tried to quilt the lines in the little buggers, but they kept sucking into the sewing machine. So then I made the fused sandwich again and did the quilting lines before cutting them out. That worked much better!  I was also sort of hesitant to layer the leaves so much, each leaf was so pretty on its own. But then I wanted it to look more realistic and give it more depth, so I covered up some of the best leaves and wow, it was much better for it!

I usually like things pretty scrappy, with lots of different fabrics involved…but do you notice, there are only two fabrics in those leaves! I started with about 6 greens, but it really just messed it up. I like the extra little bright green ones for sparkle, but the solid green was really perfect. I didn’t want the viewer to start looking at all the fabrics, I really just wanted the elegant leaves to be just leaves. That’s also why I didn’t add a whole bunch of leaf viens. I wanted to keep the simple shapes. In photos of willow branches you don’t really see the veins, the leaves are shiny and simple.

That’s all, hope you like it, I really loved making this little quilt!

Project Quilting Winner!

July 19th, 2010 | Posted by Emma in All | Quilting - (1 Comments)

I just have to brag a little…I won the Project Quilting challenge this week!

First, I won the public vote, with 31 out of 115 votes, yeah! Thank you to all my friends and fellow quilters who voted for my entry!

Then I won the Judges Vote too!!

“First Place Winner is QUILTIES with her Firework’s quilt and an average score of 8.83!

Here’s what the judges had to say:

Judge 1: I love the choice of the batik fabric for the background and the thread and paint work turned out beautifully. The skyline is a wonderful addition as well. I would love to see this in person. The design is well balanced also.

Judge 2: Nice use of mixed techniques to make a simple, but very effective project. The beads and sequins and star charms add an extra sparkle.

Judge 3: I just plain liked this one best. I think it shows that she has an artist’s “eye” to pick a great fabric, as well as great choice of techniques and embellishments to maximize the fireworks effect. The silhouette at the bottom “weights” the bottom edge – I like it.

Judge 4: I love Fireworks and I love this piece.  Your son is so lucky to have this in his room.  The silhouette is unbelievable.  This piece is my favorite of the week AND I feel this week’s entries are the best yet!  Keep up the great work.”

For all the other entries, go to the Flickr Project Quilting Group.

Project Quilting 1:4

July 11th, 2010 | Posted by Emma in All | Quilting - (3 Comments)

I just completed another Project Quilting entry that I’m quite proud of. The theme is “Stars over America” and that was really the only guideline. The only other rule was that you could use red, white and blue, but you had to use at least one other color (and that you didn’t have to use red, white and blue).

My interpretation the fireworks that were blazing over America everywhere on July 4th (or 5th in Urbandale due to rain!) My boys had the best time with the fireworks this year and I am giving this to my three year old, Brennan, who saw fireworks for this first time this year. The background is a deep blueish, rainbow batik that looked just like the night sky to me, and has big flowerbursts that look like fireworks. Then I used metallic silver and pink paintsticks to do some of the fireworks and threadplay to do the rest. I used shiny rayon threads, that really sparkle and added a little more sparkle with beads and sequins. The silhouette on the bottom symbolizes with America with its trees and houses.

Close-ups to show the paintstik portions, I did with hand-cut freezer paper stencils and quilted fireworks of just thread. I added sequins and beads to a few of the starbursts, and a couple of silver star charms to go with the theme.

That’s the happy boy who gets this “beeeeauooootiful” quilt!

If you’d like to see any of the other beautiful entries, go to the flickr pool.

And pretty soon you will be able to vote at Kim’s Crafty Apple, but I don’t think it’s up yet tonight.

Project Quilting 1:3

June 18th, 2010 | Posted by Emma in All | Quilting - (1 Comments)

Ok, ok, it seems like the only thing I’m finding to write about is the Project Quilting Challenges, but at least I have that!

Here’s what happened last weekend…

The Challenge: 1. The front, back, borders, binding and embellishments should all be made from materials that have had a previous life as something else.
2. You may use new thread and batting.
3. Your project should include at least 3 different materials used as embellishments.

My source of “previous life” materials was a bag of old clothing slated to go to Goodwill. One of which was a green flowered suit jacket that I could hardly part with! It was so cute, but never fit me right. (Teresa, it was Ruthie’s, recognize it?!) Anyway, I decided that making a quilt out of it, instead of giving it away would let me keep it around! (I know, selfish, huh?!) Here’s the stash:

I decided to work small because the pink and yellow fabrics looked like good dolly quilt material, so I cut 2.5″ squares and arranged them in a trip around the world. Then I fussy cut some of those fabulous pink flowers from the jacket and roughly machine appliquéd them on. I counted the appliqué as the first embellishment.

Next, I found an assortment of pearly white buttons…they are pretty easy to find on clothing! And the third embellishment was the silk leaves. They made the center appliques look like a nice wreath. That’s it!

The fabrics gave me some special challenges that made me appreciate quilter’s cotton. They were all stretchy twill, which was thick AND stretchy. It didn’t press well because it would just bounce back, but I was able to press the seams open and even pin the seam allowances flat a few times. I used a quick straight stitch to add on the appliqués, because the fabric didn’t fray much and I wanted it to look pretty casual and handmade, even a little rough due to its recycled nature. I had to use pants legs to get a long binding piece, so it became pink. And I did it single layered, because it would have been too bulky folded in the traditional way. But I like the raw edges on that too, keeping with the appliqués.

Please click on this last photo to really see it. It was a horrible rainy day when I finished it so the photo is dark, but I am really pleased with the finished quilt.

Sorry, voting is closed. I waited too long to post this story to get any votes from my friends…but that’s ok, I’m just happy to quilting, I don’t need to win anything!
You can still go to Kim’sCraftyApple to see the other entries, though. There are some beautiful ones, as usual!

Happy Quilting!!