by Emma Thomas-McGinnis, artist & quilter
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Modern Quilt Guild Challenge

February 21st, 2014 | Posted by Emma in All | Quilting - (1 Comments)
RileyChallengeweb

In addition to Project Quilting, I participated in the Modern Quilt Guild’s most recent fabric challenge. The challenge started last fall, when we were given a set of fat eighths of Riley Blake fabrics. The only requirements were that we could use any Riley Blake fabrics including any (but not all) of the ones we were given and any solids to make any kind of quilted project. I could only find a few other Riley Blake fabrics locally to fill out the palette, but here’s what I came up with.

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Strawberry Fields Forever!

January 28th, 2012 | Posted by Emma in All | Quilting - (2 Comments)
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Project Quilting 3:2 – be inspired by the title of a song

I had a piano book called “The Most Beautiful Songs Ever” open on my lap and thought that was a good place to choose a title from. There were lots of very cheesy, mucky titles about love and beauty and willow and stars…but then I asked Dave for a “visual” song title and this was his first idea. Brilliant!! I’m so glad I asked him. I wanted to make a totally recognizable “Strawberry Fields” quilt and I think I love it!  I listened to the song at least six times through while working on this.

It’s mostly improvisational. I just cut some rolling hills and arranged them right onto the batting and quilted them together. I didn’t even have the size nailed down when I started. Then I cut out a bunch of little strawberry parts while on the phone with my mom! I arranged them and stitched them on in a deliberatively sketchy way. I practiced that first on a separate piece, because I really loved my hills and didn’t want to wreck them. It almost could have been complete without the strawberries. But when I placed a strawberry on the fields, it made me smile and giggle out loud, so I knew it was right!

Then I had just a small chunk of that perfectly psychedelic binding fabric. So I chose to do a single layer, fused binding cut with a wavy rotary cutter, because I had to make it fit!  The finished quilt is 10.5″ x 18″ I made a challenge to myself that no side could be more than 20″ this time, because last time I started too big! Then I had to trim the sides a little because the binding fabric was too short! But I only used scraps and I’m proud of it!

Ok, so if you aren’t playing along with Project Quilting, I just have to tell you…on a Tuesday night, when usually I would be sitting around watching tv or cleaning the house I decided to start thinking about PQ and launched into this truly wonderful evening of quilting and being creative with time I otherwise wouldn’t have used for myself. It was a real treat, got my creative juices flowing and really energized my whole week!  The one week deadline may sound crazy, but it sure eliminates the UFO problem and I end up really enjoying the process from start to FINISH!

Whew! I almost missed this…

Here’s another chance to surf through lots of amazing quilts all in one easy set of links. Amy’s Creative Side is the hostess with the mostest. Go check out all beautiful quilts (and maybe find a few favorite new bloggers to follow.)

For any guests who have found me from the festival…WELCOME!! I hope you enjoy this one quilt and even have a little extra time to browse the rest of my blog. Please leave a comment or join me with facebook or google friend connect to let me know you’re here. Happy Quilting!!

My quilt is called “Buttonwillow.” It is an original-design, small, quilted wall-hanging I  made it as part of Project Quilting (at Kim’s Crafty Apple). The challenge was to make a quilt with the same name as a city. Buttonwillow, CA was the city name that I chose and the piece is a pretty literal interpretation of that…but in itself is also just a really nice piece. I love that it is still a nice quilt even if you know nothing about the challenge. I even sold it in my Etsy shop, so I kind of miss it, but am happy to know that it is being enjoyed by someone out there!

I especially like the three-dimensional details of this quilt and learned that audiences really do too. It won first place in the contest and got lots of great feedback from people who loved the buttons (who doesn’t love buttons?! the more the better!), the way the leaves come out of the border and even off the edge of the quilt and the frayed edges of the inner background. I also really like the hanging tabs, something I think I’d like to try on other mini quilts I make in the future. Previously I had only used them for curtains, you know!

Thanks for visiting! And thank you, Amy, for the fun, quilty festival! Click the button above to see the rest of the Bloggers’ Quilt Festival.

101 Patchwork Projects

May 2nd, 2011 | Posted by Emma in Quilting | Uncategorized - (1 Comments)

You may have already heard the news, but I don’t know what has taken me so long to blog about this….I’ve been published! I have a pattern in the great big Quilting Arts special issue “101 Patchwork Projects.” I even brought it to my guild meeting before posting it here. They gave me the warmest, most enthusiastic applause I have ever received at just a show and tell. I think they were proud of me!

Anyway, here’s the project that gave me the honor of sharing my craft with the quilting world.

And here it is in a magazine!

And here is where it says my name, in a magazine!

Oh, I know, maybe someday having something in a magazine will seem just as exciting as my everyday job, I hope anyway…but right now I’m basking in the newness and excitement of it.

I’ve made three of those “Tree of Life” wall-hangings since that first, just to make sure I could do it again. I had the magazine open and pretended to be someone else, just following the directions in a book! I had to really concentrate on reading each step before just rolling ahead and doing it, but it was fun that way!

Here’s one of the others. (I still have to photograph all of them.)

I’m sure I’ll be offering them on Etsy, so if you’re interested, stay tuned (or convo me on etsy and get the listing up!) BUT better yet, go get the magazine and make your own!! I do hope I get to see what some other quilters do with the pattern. So, if you’re going to make it, be sure to show me you finished quilt!

By the way, the project is super-fun! It’s made in a fun and easy method that really allows you to play with the design before stitching it all down.

Here’s the cover of the magazine and the link for you to purchase your own copy. It’s a really great book. I made a pretty big list of projects in it that I want to do someday soon. I’m sure there are a few more blog posts about it to come! Bracelets, slippers, a headband, vases, placemats, a few simple quilts, and lots more.

Thank you Interweave and Quilting Arts, for the opportunity to be a part of such a wonderful project. I am so honored!

– Emma

 

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 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!

Once a Quilter, Always a Quilter

July 20th, 2010 | Posted by Emma in All | Quilting - (2 Comments)

Before I was a quilter, I sewed. I embroidered, made stuffed toys, sewed clothes and pillows and just liked to try projects with fabric…but I obviously didn’t know any of the rules of quilting….

I just rediscovered an old project I made 10 years ago, while waiting for my first baby. It’s reallly cute, but I obviously didn’t know what I was doing. I made a quilted wall-hanging without a stitch of QUILTING!  I remember taking it down because it had gotten saggy. It’s also a set of pockets, so after years of holding toys and small books, the fact that there was no quilting holding it together made it look bunchy and wrong.

So yesterday, I fixed it.

Because “Once a Quilter, Always a Quilter”, I couldn’t just leave a quilt un-quilted!!

Click the images to see them bigger.  And I apologize, I don’t remember where I got this idea!! I think it was a book but I can’t be certain. If I figure it out, I’ll surely let you know, because I want to give proper credit. It was a great idea! And so fun to make. Look at all those rows of fancy stitches and reverse applique that I had fun with.

It’s still not a masterpiece of quilting. The sandwich, of course, didn’t lay quite flat anymore, so there are some bunches. But I’m now proud to call this a little quilt!

Kind of funny to have finished a 10-year-old UFO that I didn’t even know was a UFO! But it shows there’s always room for improvement.