Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Almost There!

My ALYoF goal for March was to complete TEN exercises in preparation for the "Judge Certification Programme" that I've been working on since the end of January. (See my first post about the JCP HERE.)

I dove right in and finished the first five early on.

Two gray scales, one colour wheel, and two colour exercises = 5 finished exercises
After a pause to quilt a swoon quilt, and another to bind this baby quilt, composition exercises with shape were next. Working with a prescribed number and size of shapes, we were to make two different pieces.

"Circular" composition with colourful focal point.

"Symmetrical" composition, though when it is turned sideways it becomes "asymmetrical".
I suppose it could also be a "vertical" or "horizontal" composition, depending on how you look at it!
That's seven, so far. March continued racing along, and so did I!

About this time I was telling myself to keep calm and carry on, as I completed another customer quilt and the eighth exercise this month.

Analogous colour exercise (diagonal composition).

Right in the middle of all this, I decided to set up a photo studio in my sewing room and apply to a government art acquisition program. The application process required some serious "hoop jumping", which ate up a couple of days. I'm glad to have done it, but...YIKES!!!

Snatched some time to quilt Amy's beautiful circle quilt, take a lovely jaunt to the city (bye bye to five "work" days - hello friends and quilt shops!), and place orders so I won't run out of thread and batting.

A glance at the calendar told me I'd better get a move on. Next up was a colour exercise. I'm not in love with this one, but it meets the criteria - a landscape made using cool colours, at least seven values, and a distinct compositional style.

"Diagonal" composition in cool colours, based on my own photo of Mount Fuji.

And, that's NINE done. One more to go!

It's still March until midnight! 
My plan is to tackle two more line and colour exercises (they go hand in hand) this afternoon.
I will meet my goal if it's the last thing I do!

Unless I decide to quilt instead. (Ha! Watch the master procrastinator at work!!!)

I have another customer quilt loaded, basted, and stitched in the ditch, and the fun part is beckoning!

Preparing to baste - need to straighten lines across the quilt.
Because you know I'm all about that BASTE, 'bout that baste, no trouble...

(ha! A little play on Meghan Trainor's catchy tune - aka, ear worm. You're welcome.)

I'll be linking up with A Lovely Year of Finishes with an "almost there", but I don't feel like I missed the target. In fact, I'm feeling quite satisfied with my progress!

Check out my sidebar to see where the other parties are today - there's something fun for every day of the week! 

PLUS, on the first of each month it is Fresh Sewing Day at Lily's Quilts where lots of interesting folks show what they've been working on. She invites a "small blog" link up, too, where you might find more bloggy friends.

Have a lovely week!

Try, Learn, Grow!
P.S. I love hearing from you, so don't be shy. Tell me what you think!

Saturday, 28 March 2015

Pressing Matters!

Time to finish preparing for the bargello workshop I'll be teaching at the end of April!
First I made a "light to dark" key by pasting up a tiny bit of each fabric.

Project key

Then I cut strips for sets that would be sewn together in light to dark order. I decided to join pairs first, sewing from the "top", down.

Sewing strip sets

After that I joined pairs into foursomes, sewing in the opposite direction ("bottom", up). 

This keeps strip sets nice and straight.

Pairs become foursomes

Maximize useable fabric by keeping one end of the strip set lined up (as below).

To maximize useable fabric, keep one end even.

The other end will jog around because fabrics are never exactly the same width. That's okay.

The "joggy" end!

Instead of building sets the way I did, you could choose to join strips together in order, from left to right. Simply alternate the sewing direction (starting at top or bottom) each time a strip is added. Remember to keep one end all lined up, and let the other end "jog".

Why does "alternating" the sewing direction keep strip sets straight?

Feed dogs sometimes pull fabric unevenly. By alternating your sewing direction, you counteract the "pull" of the previous seam and prevent your strip set from curving into a giant smile!

However you accomplish it, your goal is to make strip sets that match the order of your project key.

A finished strip set

Pressing techniques for straight strips:

Some people are happy sewing a bunch of strips together, and then somehow pressing all the seams at once. There is usually much pushing (of the iron), and pulling (of the fabric).

When I try it that way, strips stretch and waver, and sometimes the fabric doesn't open all the way and a fold is permanently rendered beside the seam.

So - I prefer to press as I go. It is not as quick, but my strip sets are straight, accurate, and crisp.

Here is my first pair of strips, sewn together.

A pair ready for pressing

Lay the pair on the ironing board in a nice, straight line and set the seam. To reduce the risk of stretching the fabric, I lift and place my iron as I move down the length. Never "push" it along the fabric.

In this case I wanted the seam allowance pressed toward fabric #2, so I placed that fabric UP so I could see it. The seam is positioned farthest from my belly.

Setting the seam

When the fabrics are opened (also away from my belly), the seam allowance automatically goes toward the top fabric (#2, in this case).

Pressing in progress

Straighten the strip along the ironing board as you work with it. The straighter you keep it while applying heat, the straighter it will be in the end. 

Open the strip set and hold it in position with one hand. Place the iron on it with the other. Repeat along the length, resisting the urge to push & wiggle the iron!

Crisply pressed, fully open at the seam, nice and straight - seam allowance pressed toward fabric #2.

In case you are wondering, I am a steamer! 

Technique is TWICE as important if you use steam because things can go wonky before you know it . . . BUT, if you practice good habits, steaming results in the crispest seams. Yumm!

Strip sets, sliced and diced!

Coming together quickly now.

Though it isn't quilted, this is now a FINISHED teaching sample! Whoop whoop!

Check out my sidebar to see where the parties are today. . . there's something for every day of the week!

Try, Learn, Grow!
P.S. I love hearing from you, so don't be shy. Tell me what you think!

Friday, 20 March 2015

Check, Check, CHECK!!!

Black quilts are incredibly challenging to photograph.
I spent an entire morning futzing around in an attempt to get a decent close up and one good overall shot of "Ghost Bees".

Close up of Ghost Bees

By the time I was finished, my sewing room was a wreck. Reflective surfaces & lamps were ripped from their usual places & pressed into service. Furniture was shoved out of the way. Fabric piles were disrupted. Even the garbage can was upended and used under a lamp!

Makeshift photo studio

I tried various locations and positions in relation to the windows, but eventually built a makeshift "white box" on the floor.

The point of all this?

The Alberta Foundation for the Arts has an Art Acquisition by Application program . . . with an April 1st deadline! I decided to see if the AFA would like to add my piece to its permanent collection. 

In addition to the photos, I needed to write an artist's resume (CV), register for the program, fill out an online profile, and then an online application.

It felt momentous when I finally hit the "Submit" button! 

Geese piece

On a roll, I decided to also submit my geese piece (ha, I'm a poet!) to Quilting Arts magazine. Another set of requirements (and nerves) conquered!

Back to my Judge Certification exercises?

Nope. Not yet.

Instead, I took stock of customer quilts, photographing them and drawing possible quilting ideas for the custom jobs. There are some exciting projects coming up!

While I was in "business mode", I ordered more thread and batting.

Glide thread

I also decided to pull fabric for a workshop I'll be teaching at the end of April. 
It briefly crossed my mind that it would be easier to go shopping than to dig through my stash. 


I must have been tired.

In actual fact, it was fun pulling stacks out of my cupboard and combing through for possibilities. Bonus - I ended up with a nice fabric pull AND a tidier cupboard!

Black and white photo confirming a good value range from light to dark.

Amy's Crazy Curves is Fresh off the Frame!

Remember cutting and piecing this quilt with Amy and Adrienne?

Amy's circle quilt

The front is all circles, and the back is all rectangles - a pretty cool juxtaposition! 

Amy's quilt could be used either side up!

It's a beauty!

Front view

Checking tasks off my list - check, Check, CHECK!!!

Linking up with:
Let's Bee Social @ Sew Fresh Quilts
Needle and Thread Thursday @ My Quilt Infatuation
Free Motion Mavericks @ Lizzie Lenard Vintage Sewing

Try, Learn, Grow!

P.S. I love hearing from you so don't be shy. Tell me what you think!

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Keep Calm and Carry On

The same design I used in the monochromatic exercise has been repeated in black and white graphic prints for the achromatic exercise.

Achromatic exercise

I organized fabric snippets in the same manner as before. It is surprising how easily things can get mixed up if there isn't a key...and sometimes even when there is!

B & W fabric map

When I first started working, things looked pretty chaotic . . .


. . . but when it was finished and up on the wall, I found its graphic nature quite appealing!


I somehow added an extra "swirl" in the center of this one (or maybe I just missed it the first time?). Regardless, it reinforces the circular composition. I'm going to add it to the first piece, for sure!

For the analogous exercise I chose to work with a combination of blue, blue-green, and green.


A black and white photo of snippets laid out from lightest to darkest helped me check for a seven-step value run. The first two lights are practically the same value, as are the last two darks, but I count seven steps. Good to go!


Using one of my flower photos, I isolated a diagonal composition. The distribution of the light, medium and dark values was an important consideration when deciding how to use the fabrics.


I decided to use the light blue as the background, which eliminated its use for highlights. I didn't want the flowers to look like they have holes in them!


Even though these little exercises (8 1/2" x 11") look quite simple, I can assure you they take plenty of effort. Each one takes a full day, from concept to finish.

Did I mention the deadline for finishing the pre-work is May 18th? AND, I will be away a significant number of days between now and then??? 

There are eleven exercises left on my list, plus miscellaneous things like writing a bio, getting a head shot, making a portfolio and professional resume, and so on.

And, this is just the Judge Certification Program prep work. Never mind my other goals and deadlines!!!

There will be time for everything if I stick with my plan. 
I'm keeping calm and carrying on.

The client quilt I mentioned in my last post is now Fresh off the Frame!


I love the way a quilt changes when it's quilted! Here is a great "before and after" example.

Before quilting

After quilting

Gorgeous, right??!!

Gratuitous "Quilty Goodness" shot!

Linking up with:
Free Motion Mavericks @ Lizzie Lenard Vintage Sewing
Whoop Whoop Friday @ Confessions of a Fabric Addict 
Fabric Frenzy Friday @ Fort Worth Fabric Studio
Show off Saturday @ Sew Can She

Remember to click on the party links and visit around - so many fun posts to enjoy!

Try, Learn, Grow!

P.S. I love hearing from you, so don't be shy. Tell me what you think!

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Mmm, Yummy....Frog!

Exercises completed since my last post (which also explains the purpose for the exercises):

Line exercises x 4

These small explorations are rather fun to do. I think the trick is knowing when to stop adding lines!

Compositions with line.

Make a twelve-step colour wheel that includes tints and shades

Fabric choices for colour wheel.

Twelve-step colour wheel with tints and shades.

Make gray scales in both solids and prints

Twelve-step colour wheel and two gray scales.

Create two compositions using prescribed shapes (one with focal point) 

I'm too tired to go and take a picture of the other one right now, so this one will have to do.

Circular composition with focal point.

Monochromatic composition with focal point

This exercise called for seven values of a single colour.

7 values of one colour.

A little "fabric map" kept me from getting things mixed up.

Staying on track.

I based this exercise on a photo I'd taken a few years ago.

Monochromatic composition with focal point.

I think I like it better in this orientation. Maybe. It's hard to tell after a while!

A different orientation.

In addition, there's a pretty client quilt on my frame waiting for a finish, and I've been diligent about hitting the gym three times a week. Yay!

I'm a bit tuckered out tonight, but it feels great to be chewing through my huge, slimy frog. 
(Ha! That sounds soooo delightful!) 

Leonie Dawson planted the frog-eating reference in my brain. She advises goal setters to do one big, difficult task first thing in the morning. That task is rather like eating a frog. Not something you look forward to but, if you must, it's best to get it over with so you can enjoy the rest of your day. 

I won't belabour the metaphor in future posts, but this Judge Certification Programme prep work is definitely my gigantic, hairy "frog". A bit intimidating, definitely challenging, but mandatory if I want to reach my goal. Mmm, Yummy....Frog!

I hope you are having a happy and productive week!

Linking up with:
Show and Tell Tuesday @ i have to say
Linky Tuesday @ Freemotion by the River
Fabric Tuesday @ Quilt Story
Let's Bee Social @ Sew Fresh Quilts 
WIP Wednesday @ Freshly Pieced
Needle and Thread Thursday @ My Quilt Infatuation

Try, Learn, Grow!

P.S. I love hearing from you, so don't be shy. Tell me what you think!

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Chew, Chew, Swallow!

Whew! The more I have on my plate, the faster the world seems to spin! 

I recently assessed the work I need to complete for the CQA Judge Certification Programme. 

The list.

I then plotted my other commitments on the calendar, and counted available "working" days. That may have been a mistake.

Cue a wave of Mild Hysteria. 

Deep breath. Deep breath. DEEP breath. (SERENITY NOW!!!)

Worse, I realized that I've been procrastinating. I'm only thirty pages into an 80 page job! (Though I do have the required reading under my belt, so that's something.)

Required reading.

Why am I dragging my feet? 

Fear. There is a lot of fear to swallow while I eat this frog. Will my work be good enough? Will I make the cut and be accepted as an Apprentice? It's all about being judged, myself!
(yeah, I see the irony here. Ha!)

How to get back into eating the frog (doing the work)?

TAKE ONE LITTLE BITE AT A TIME. Pick an exercise, and carry on!

But first, to soothe myself, I quilted Tracy's gorgeous Swoon quilt.

Here is the "Before" shot:

Tracy's Swoon, before quilting.

Here it is, Fresh off the Frame:


The back is as delightful as the front!


And then I bound the baby quilt that will be delivered in a couple of weeks.

SEE??? Master Procrastinator!

Baby quilt, bound and ready.

The binding was ready, so this task didn't take very long . . . and, it did feel great to finish something.

Finally, using "success momentum", I dove into Making a Colour Wheel

My stash alone was not up to this task, so I dug in to my drapery and home decor samples. When I'd sorted them by colour over a year ago, I had no idea they'd come in so handy!!!

Home Dec fabric TREASURE!!!

I used my colour tool to help me select the PURE colour, the LIGHTEST* tint, and the DARKEST* shade to fill out a twelve-step colour wheel.

*lightest and darkest possible, based on available choices.

Red-Orange selection.

After I'd exhausted my own stash and ransacked my Treasure Box of home dec fabrics, I was short of violets. 

(Can you tell which fabric is a placeholder? I used it to mark where the violet range should be. Hint, it's a print!)


I needed to visit my Mom's stash!!! Without a doubt, her impressive stash would fill in the gaps. In fact, Mom had already given me a KONA roll to help with this exercise, so her stash has basically saved my bacon.

Auditioning choices at my Mom's.
I was also able to replace a couple of the home dec fabrics with quilting cottons. Their sheen made the value appear to change depending on viewing angle and lighting, which I found distracting.

Today I will finish my colour wheel and start working on the next exercise. Chomp, chomp, chew.

Exciting News!

My Inukshuk quilt has been accepted into the National Juried Show!!!

I'm so excited!!! It will be quite a thrill to see it hanging in the show. I can't wait!

For the record, I swallowed my fear when submitting my quilt to this show, too. Chew, Chew, Swallow!

My March goal for A Lovely Year of Finishes, even though I MISSED THE LINK UP, is to work through at least TEN Judge Certification exercises before the end of the month.

Linking up with:
Whoop Whoop Friday! @ Confessions of a Fabric Addict
Fabric Frenzy Friday @ Fort Worth Fabric Studio
Show off Saturday @ Sew Can She

Try, Learn, Grow!

P.S. I love hearing from you, so don't be shy! Tell me what you think!

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