Victoria Findlay Wolfe

The Needlechasers of Chevy Chase hosted Victoria Findlay Wolfe this past week. She drove to the DC area from NYC where she lives and talked to our guild on Wednesday and taught a 6 hour workshop on Thursday. She is amazing!

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She showed many bright and beautiful quilts which included pieced-together scraps.

Her lecture on Wednesday was about “15 Minutes of Play”. This is the title of her first book and also describes what she tries to find time for every day in her sewing studio.

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She told us about growing up on a farm with a beloved grandmother who sewed (polyester!) scraps together into quilts. Victoria ended up going to art school and eventually fell in love with quilting and used this technique of playing with sewing scraps together to incorporate them into her own quilts.

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She changed into several polyester jackets during her lecture.

Victoria encouraged our group to try anything and never to think you’ll never make a certain design because someday you might want to. Her example of this was her Cow Quilt

The quilt she thought she'd "never" make.

The quilt she thought she’d “never” make.

On Thursday we came with our sewing machine, rotary cutter/mat, and a bag of scraps and she showed us an easy method of making fabric by piecing the scraps together in a way that they could then be cut (again) into usable pieces. (Thereby making more scraps!)

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Thursday workshop

Victoria showed us many examples of mixing the “made” fabric with “unmade” fabric to get even a bigger variety of patterns in our quilts and then set us free to work on our own pieces.

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Some workshop participants cut their scraps into dresden shapes.

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Others cut into diamonds, wedges, hexagons, etc…

It was a very fun couple of days to spend time with this wonderful quilt artist and learn about her process of creating the type of quilts that she makes. It certainly has made me think more “out of the box” about cutting things up – including old tops or blocks that I never intend to finish because I no longer like them. Maybe by cutting them into other shapes and adding other fabrics that I do love, I will make these older pieces into something that I will treasure.  I can’t wait to give it a try!

On Wednesday afternoon a few of us took Victoria to the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) Museum in DC which currently has a special exhibit of antique quilts from Virginia and Maryland. The Needlechasers guild is booked to take a tour of this exhibit together this summer and I wanted to preview it. It was wonderful to see these old quilts.

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Don’t you love her orange shoes?

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DAR Exhibit – “Eye on Elegance”

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The details on these quilts were astounding.

To see such a variety of quilts, old and new over the course of a couple days this past week was quite a treat for me. You can see Victoria’s blog post about it here.

If you ever have a chance to meet Victoria Findlay Wolfe, hear her speak, see her quilts or take a workshop with her, make sure to do it! You won’t be sorry.  Thanks Victoria, for a great couple of days!

 

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One Hour Top by Fancy Tiger Crafts

Free pattern download

Free pattern download

I just finished sewing this One Hour Top by Fancy Tiger Crafts. I used a knit fabric that I bought in December from Girl Charlee as part of that months’ “KnitFix“. I received 6 two yard cuts of knit fabric and didn’t know what they looked like until they arrived at my doorstep. I’ve seen some amazing things made out of the different knits. I thought this easy top pattern would be a good choice to make a quick top.

Easy top

Easy top

The pattern is a free download and is only two pieces – the front and the back. The two pieces are identical except for the front neckline dipping down lower. I made some ridiculous mistakes making this top and the first one was that I cut out two fronts instead of a front and a back. I had to cut them separately to line up the stripes and I guess I was thinking I would cut 2 backs and then cut out the scoop of the front neck, but suddenly I realized I had cut 2 fronts and had to decide what to do. I could just make it up using 2 fronts and the back would dip down too. However, in the end I decided I would just sew an extra piece of fabric to the back neck area (with careful matching of the fabric design) and no one would be the wiser (except for those of you reading this!)

Back neck - fabric added

See the lower line of white stitching? That’s where I matched and added fabric.

Knit fabric which doesn’t fray and this very busy print enabled me to get away with this.

The “One Hour” pattern gives instructions for folding over all of the raw edges to finish the top. It does not give directions for sewing on knit bands as I did at the neck and the sleeves. I really didn’t think that folding under the curved neckline and topstitching it down would look good. I was afraid of the stretching that might occur or losing the stretchiness of the fabric where I topstitched. I did not have any problem hemming the shirt this way however.

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I found a wonderful suggestion for how to make knit bands that can be found in the directions here of another easy top that is a free download called the Hemlock Tee by Grainline. Making the bands can be tricky because the knit tends to roll at the edges and you have to fold these bands in half and keep the two edges flat and together while you sew them onto the top. This tutorial suggests that you cut the bands wider than needed and then mark a guide to the left of your serger needles/blade to run the folded edge along. By doing this you are cutting off the edges that may be curling and sewing the flat area together.

I used a strip of washi tape as a guide here.

I used a strip of washi tape as a guide here. The left edge of the band is the fold and I am serving  two layers of fabric together on the right. 

This creates a nice even band. It helps to make it longer than you want too so that you can cut it to exact size afterwards as sometimes the fabric stretches as you start or finish the piece. If you are sewing this band on your garment in the “round”, you do have to unpick some stitches on either end in order to join the piece together.

Flat piece with unpicked stitches on both ends.

Flat piece with unpicked stitches on both ends.

Now joined to make the cuff that will be sewn onto the sleeve.

Now joined to make the cuff that will be sewn onto the sleeve.

I could have serged that “unpicked” area on this cuff, but I found that the fabric didn’t shift enough to bother with doing that and just sewed it on to the sleeve this way.

So what were the other ridiculous mistakes I made? Two things. 1) I paid attention to matching the stripes but I didn’t realize I should have been paying attention to centering the motifs on the fabric vertically too. At first glance you might not notice this, but if you really look, it is obvious that the design is not centered. 2) I obviously have a “front” and “back” problem because I sewed the seamline in the the neckband to the middle front of the top instead of the back!

Some of my followers wanted to see the other fabrics I received as part of the Girl Charlee KnitFix.  Here they are!

Girl Charlee KnitFix fabrics from December

Girl Charlee KnitFix fabrics from December

What in the world am I going to do with all of these? I like the One Hour Top but not enough to make it again. It is quick but so completely shapeless that I need to try something else.

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The Moneta dress by Colette and sewing with plaid

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Moneta Dress

I bought this red plaid knit fabric from the online shop Girl Charlee. I know that it looks like flannel and it kind of feels like flannel. However, it is a nice soft knit. I bought it in December along with their “KnitFix” which is a group of six 2 yard cuts of different knit fabrics. When you order a KnitFix, you don’t know exactly what the fabrics you get are going to look like but they promise they will all be high quality and “on trend”.

The collar has a little center piece that hangs down in the back.

The collar has a little center piece that hangs down in the back.

I seem to be enamored with “mysteries” lately as I also signed up for the Amitie Mystery Block of the Month in December. I haven’t cut into the other knits yet but will soon. There is a Facebook group for those who are sewing with these knits and there has been a lot of sharing of favorite patterns and tips for sewing with knits.

Unable to "cut on the fold".

Unable to “cut on the fold”.

Cutting out this plaid dress was quite a bit of trouble. There is no way you can fold this knit fabric in half and have it line up exactly right. In order to be absolutely sure that the 2 halves were identical, I had to cut it out without folding. I cut one side and then turned the pattern over to lay it on the other side.

Bodice

Bodice

For the bodice I actually marked some of the darker black parts of the plaid on the pattern in order to get it just right. This was very fussy but definitely worth it.

Pockets!

Pockets!

The Moneta pattern has pockets and the collar and sleeves are optional. The pattern says that it’s skill level is “beginner”. I would hate to see a true beginner try to make this dress. There are a number of tricky parts – but I will say that it has very good directions – including a link to a video that shows a lining technique for the sleeveless version. There are also good directions for inserting clear elastic into the waistline which is done to keep that area from stretching out over time.

Knit Moneta dress by Colette

Megan’s sleeveless version

My daughter made the sleeveless version last May. Isn’t she adorable?

The Moneta pattern has quite a bit of “negative ease”. This means that the garment measurements of the bust and waist are less than your own measurements. The bodice is meant to s-t-r-e-t-c-h and be very form fitting. I think this is more appealing to a younger sewist like my daughter than it is for me. I made a size larger than my measurements called for and it is still very close fitting. Because of the knit fabric, though, it is very comfortable. I am looking forward to sewing with my KnitFix fabrics next!

Notes to myself about making up this pattern –  Size XL. Added 1 inch to center of sleeve. Added 1 inch to length of bodice and graded bodice out to make waist about 1/2 inch larger on each side. Lined the bodice with the same fabric I made the collar out of. Lengthened the hemline by 1.5 inches which is about the size of the hem I turned under. Used ballpoint needles in both my sewing machine and serger. Used a double needle with regular thread in the needles and wooly nylon in the bobbin to hem the skirt and the sleeves. Also used my black latch bobbin case in order to loosen the tension on the bobbin when using the double needle. Used 3/8″ plastic elastic from JoAnns for the waistline but would have preferred 1/4″ if I could have gotten it. Sewed the waistline with a zig zag stitch on my sewing machine rather than using the serger. I would love to make this dress again but would rather not have to match a plaid or stripe!

 

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Disappearing Nine Patch

Disappearing nine patch blocks

Disappearing nine patch blocks

I’m starting on a small quilt that I hope will have a lot of texture and decided to make “disappearing nine patch” blocks. This is an easy way to sew a block that looks rather complicated but isn’t that difficult to sew.

Sew a nine patch block together

Sew a nine patch block together

I randomly chose to use 3 inch square blocks to make my nine patches. I cut up as many gray or black and gray fabrics that I had and of course I had to purchase some more in order to have a great variety. That silvery dotted fabric is one I bought in Hawaii on a trip.

Cut the block down the middle both vertically and horizontally.

Cut the block down the middle both vertically and horizontally.

Once cut, I rotated the upper left and lower right pieces to put the small square at the outside corners.

I rotated 2 of the pieces.

I rotated two of the pieces.

You have other options at this point. You could orient these smaller blocks in any way you desire and you would get different looks.

Sewn together.

Sewn together.

The nice thing about the way I did these is that there is no fussing with lining up the seams to “nest” together except at the very center of the block. This may not seem like a big deal, but think about it. Every time two seams meet, it is desirable to have them ironed in different directions and this can get pretty complicated with this many seams.

Can you imagine sewing the block above by cutting out all of those pieces individually and piecing them together? It would take forever and be so inaccurate. At least if I did it, it would be.

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15 blocks on my design wall.

My finished blocks are 7 1/2″ square unfinished or will be 7″ square finished. I have 15 done and 33 left to go. If I lay them out with 6 blocks across and 8 blocks down, the finished quilt will be 42 X 56″ which I’m told is a good size for a baby. This is not what the finished quilt will look like however. There is going to be a big twist to make it special for the exceptionally special baby it is being made for. More to come!

 

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Mystery Block of the Month – #1

I have signed up to receive fabric, pattern and instructions from Amitie Textiles in Australia every month for the next 12 months to make a Mystery Quilt designed by Jen Kingwell. Happy New Year to me! This BOM actually began a few months ago and that is why it is dated 2014 instead of 2015. Here is my first mailing:

Mailing #1

Mailing #1

I have no idea what the finished quilt will look like, because it’s a mystery! I don’t even know what size the quilt will be although I do think Amitie Textiles would tell me if I asked – I just didn’t think to ask when I signed up. What I do know is that I LOVE Jen Kingwell’s designs and crazy choice of fabrics.

Gypsy Wife by Jen Kingwell

Gypsy Wife by Jen Kingwell

Green Tea and Sweet Beans by Jen Kingwell

Green Tea and Sweet Beans by Jen Kingwell

These are the two designs that I think I have seen countless renditions of. Aren’t they beautiful? I love the combination of piecing and appliqué. This mystery quilt I am embarking on was described as being hand and machine pieced and appliquéd. I have done a lot of sewing of all kinds, but hand piecing is probably what I have done the very least of and that’s what this first mailing entailed.

Templates made and traced onto fabric.

Templates made and traced onto fabric.

Luckily I watch my friend, Anne, sew this way frequently and so I did have some idea what I needed to do. I used template plastic to make my templates and traced these onto my fabrics with a pencil. I knew that a piece of sandpaper would make this process easier as it holds the fabric in place as you do the tracing. (Anne has a fancy sandpaper board for this purpose – but I just used a single piece of sandpaper that my husband had).

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I sewed the middle circle first

The outer ring was next

The outer ring was next

What a pain! Curved piecing is not easy to do. Of course I know this about machine piecing but I thought hand piecing would be easier.  It’s not.

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But I muddled through and came up with these:

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And then I finally got them joined together to make this:

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I’m actually pretty happy with myself. It isn’t perfect, but it’s not bad. I had to do a lot of easing to get the outer circle to fit onto the inner circle. I figure this means that I cut the templates too big, or didn’t compensate for the transfer onto the fabric or both. I will definitely take that into consideration if there is more hand piecing coming my way.

I’m anxiously awaiting the next mailing!

 

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I Would Like to Hire you to Come Speak to my Quilt Guild.

I am a program co-chair for the Needlechasers of Chevy Chase, a traditional quilt guild in Maryland. We had a successful quilt show recently and now we know we have the funds to hire lecturers for another few years. Oh Boy!

Angela Walters Nov. 2014

Angela Walters Nov. 2014

Did you notice that I said co-chair? Fortunately I do not have to do this alone. It takes two of us to seek out interesting lecturers who we think our eclectic group would like to listen to and who can teach us something we don’t already know. Some of us have been at this quilting thing for quite some time and think we know a lot! Others in our group have just begun quilting and that makes for a wonderful mix, except maybe for this hiring-a-speaker job.

I am just a home crafter who loves to sew. I am not an accomplished artist. I subscribe to very few quilt magazines – they just mess up my house because once I have them, I don’t like to throw them away. I’m sure that each one has something in it that I will want to make someday. (This also applies to knitting and beading magazines). I prefer to peruse quilts, patterns and fabric online. What I’m getting at here, is that I don’t really know who the local quilt experts and artists  are. That is what attracted me to joining a guild – I get to see and hear from people who are creating wonderful “fabricy” things and they sometimes tell me how they made them. Such inspiration!

Marilyn Wall May 2014

Marilyn Wall May 2014

I have some advice for those of you who are seeking these lecture jobs. There are a few things that would obviously help me to hire you. My first suggestion is that you must have a website! How can I find you, if you don’t? The first thing that I do when someone says to me, “I heard the best speaker a few years ago and her name was Jane Doe”, is to google Jane Doe. In this case I would google Jane Doe Quilter in order to narrow down the field. If this search does not produce a website for me to find out who Jane Doe is and how to contact her, I can go no further. Well, I suppose I could, but I am unlikely to because there are just too many other speakers I can find this way.

If you give lectures to groups like mine, please have a page on your website that lists a description of the lectures (and workshops) you give. I like to see as much information there as you can give. What is your fee? You may think that listing this will deter people, but I think the opposite is true. What other expenses do you expect to be reimbursed for if you travel to speak to my group?

Sue Brenner May 2013

Sue Benner May 2013

Where do you live? Sometimes I can not find out from a website or blog whether the quilter even lives in the same country I do. This may sound crazy, but check your website and see if this is there. It doesn’t matter how famous you are, I don’t just know where you live. I don’t want your exact address, but at least your city and state so I can figure out what it would cost to get you to our guild’s meeting.

Some lecturers have a calendar on their websites and keep a running list of where they will be traveling to speak or teach. This is not essential but is nice as I can look to see if I might coordinate your coming at a time when you will be nearby anyway.

Angela Walters Nov. 2014

Angela Walters Nov. 2014

Is there contact information on your website? Is there an email address or a “contact me” link? Obviously I need some way to invite you to speak to my group. Sometimes we contact a lot of people all at once and it is those who send us a prompt reply back that end up getting the job.

We hope to be contacting you soon. Make it as easy on us as possible. Please!

In case you want to contact me, leave a reply or use the “Contact me” link at the top of this page. I live in the Washington DC area and I’m looking for quilt guild lecturers. Do you have a recommendation?

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Angela Walters is amazing!

Angela showing one of her quilts.

Angela showing one of her quilts.

I had the extreme good fortune this past week of hosting Angela Walters in my home while she was in the DC area giving lectures and a workshop to the two quilt guilds that I belong to. She is a long arm quilter who’s work is so exquisite that many of the modern fabric and pattern designers (Tula Pink, Jacquie Gering, Cherri House to name a few) ask her to quilt the quilts they are going to display at market to sell their designs. See her quilting portfolio here.

Angela quilted this quilt that is on the cover of Tula Pink's book (and all of the quilts inside).

Angela quilted this quilt that is on the cover of Tula Pink’s book (and all of the quilts inside).

My traditional guild, The Needlechasers of Chevy Chase, brought Angela to the DC area to give a lecture and a workshop. DC Modern Quilt Guild got to take advantage of her being in town and scheduled a lecture as well. When I asked Angela which type of guild she normally speaks to, she said that she enjoys to speak to both traditional and modern guilds and considers herself “bilingual”. She also has a theory that the two groups are getting closer together and that as the younger modern quilters gain more sewing experience, there will be less and less difference between them. I found this to be very interesting and hope that I am not misspeaking what she said about this.

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This quilt highlights Angela’s fabric line “Drift”.

I think that the take away message that Angela gives when she teaches is to not let free motion quilting intimidate you. Have fun with it! She learned to quilt on a long arm machine without any preconceptions of what the quilting should look like. She had hand quilted before she got her first long arm machine. She didn’t know at the time that it was possible to quilt on a conventional sewing machine. (Lucky her!)

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There is no doubt that she loves to quilt and she wants everyone else to love it too! Her website is www.quiltingismytherapy.com. There are links there to her blog, to video tutorials, to free quilt patterns, to her shop and to where she’ll be teaching next. If you are not lucky enough to catch her in person, she currently has four Craftsy classes on free motion quilting which surely must be the next best thing – or even better because you can pause it and play it over and over while you’re practicing.

"Impracticality" Pieced and quilted by Angela Walters. Featured on the June/July 2013 issue of Quilter's newsletter. Click on photo to be taken to free pattern.

“Impracticality” Pieced and quilted by Angela Walters. Featured on the June/July 2013 issue of Quilter’s newsletter. Click on photo for free pattern.

Angela has written several books and has YouTube video tutorials. She has recently announced another book which will be available in April 2015 that she wrote with her 9 year old daughter about quilting with kids.

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I am so excited about free motion quilting now and hope to practice on some smaller projects like tote bags or pouches. The smaller size will help me feel more comfortable when I go to quilt something larger – I think! I hope!

I have always defaulted to using my walking foot but I am encouraged to try something new. As I’m working I’m going to hear Angela telling me that echoing is my friend and that there are no mistakes that can’t be made to look better with more quilting. I’ve also found that using a coordinating thread color can make even a multitude of flaws look pretty darn good.

Angela and myself.

Angela and myself.

Thank you, Angela, for being such an inspiration and for sharing your love of free motion quilting with us!


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