Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Hexified Panel Quilt Excitement!

It's been an exciting ride as the Hexified Panel Quilts, my twist on the original One Block Wonder (OBW) technique, has taken off over the last couple of years. It all started in early 2015 with Wanderlust: Paris in Spring, my first experiment in working with panels in a OBW. After making numerous quilts with this technique and sharing them on the Facebook One Block Wonder Forum group, many people are now using 6 fabric panels to make their hexies and framing a 7th uncut panel. Last year, I was invited to send two of my hexified panel quilts, Wanderlust: Paris in Spring and Poppy Explosion, to C&T Publishing to be photographed and published in One Block Wonders of the World, the newest One Block Wonder book by Maxine Rosenthal and Linda A. Bardes (2017, C&T Publishing).

The marketing coordinator at Timeless Treasures Fabrics saw my Poppy Explosion in the book, made with their Pandora line designed by Chong-a Hwang, after the book's release in October 2017. Joy emailed me and asked if I would be interested in making two hexified panel quilts for them as samples to be used on their blog and in social media to promote their fabrics. I immediately said YES! They sent links to several lines with panels for me to pick from and I chose two lines also designed by Chong-a Hwang. Her designs are so rich and beautiful, I couldn't resist! It was like an early Christmas present getting that box of fabric in the mail!

An Inside Look at Elizabeth Granberg's Hexified Panel Quilt

The first quilt, made with the Reverie line, was due to be finished and photographed by December 17, just before Christmas. To say it was a crazy-busy month is an understatement with the holidays, plus creating, piecing, quilting, binding, and photographing a quilt in just under a month's time! The final outdoor photos weren't taken until just after New Year's on a bright sunny day in freezing temperatures on the Baker University campus in Baldwin City, Kansas, but in plenty of time to be used in their promotions. We made it (special thanks to my sweet husband for all of his help!) and the blog post showcasing In The Garden went live on January 8, 2018. Be sure to check out their blog post to get the whole story of the making of this beautiful quilt!

Also be sure to check back next month as quilt #2 is already in the works to be released online in early February 2018!

More snippets from the sewing room soon...

Mastering machine pieced Y-seams Tutorial

Some time ago I started this post and never finished it. I've decided it's time to get it out of the drafts folder and live to help people who struggle with Y-seams. These tips can be used with any pattern that requires Y-seams, whether it's a machine pieced hexie quilt or a pattern with odd shaped units or setting triangles that require a Y-seam. Even though One Block Wonder quilts, made with pieced hexies, are designed to be sewn in rows of halves to avoid Y-seams, some quilters have mistakenly sewn their hexies together and, rather than unsew the halves, they proceed to sew them together with Y-seams. An entire quilt with Y-seams can be a daunting task, but it is fully doable!

I had just completed a project that took me a couple of months of looking at it and then 3 weeks of working many hours to complete. This vintage quilt had a Y-seam in every single block! It was a machine pieced hexie quilt was laid out in a variation of the Grandmother's Flower Garden pattern with large hexie flowers set with buds and leaves in setting diamonds between the larger flowers. I knew I would figure it out and be able to complete it, but that's not to say it was especially easy. It was a huge puzzle, partially made years ago by the owner's grandmother, and worked on by several people along the way who had stitched the entire seams, leaving no space to ease the connecting seams, or had attempted to attach hexies on two sides and made little pocket bubbles. All of this I had to fix and I learn so much through the process of unsewing and resewing to create the proper Y-seams across the quilt.

Understanding Y-seams is an important concept if you wish to machine piece a hexie quilt like this Grandmother's Flower Garden. The most important thing to remember is to always start and stop your seams 1/4" in from the edge of the fabric, being sure to add 2-3 back stitches to anchor the seams. By leaving the 1/4" unsewn on each end of the seam, you leave a flex point where that seam can then open and bend as you pivot to make the next seam around the corner.

This example I stitched with contrasting thread to show the importance of leaving that 1/4" unsewn in order to make those corners.
Start with two hexies and stitch a seam beginning and ending 1/4" in from the edge of the blocks. I backstitched 2-3 stitches on either end to anchor the seam. I then pressed that seam open. With those two blocks facing up, take your next hexie and lay it pointing towards the seam that it will set into. Flip it over, right sides together, onto the right hexie. Beginning 1/4" in from the edge, stitch to the seam line of the pair and, with needle down, pivot and turn the pieces so the next seam can be sewn. When pivoting and turning, you may have to fold the previous hexie in half in order for the next seam allowances to line up properly.
Continue in this fashion, adding additional hexies, one at a time, stitching the two sides to the already attached two that the Y-seam sets into. Pivot to continue stitching the second seam.
I found that not every seam needed to be pressed open. Once I was stitching, I decided as I went along which seams laid nicely to one side or the other, and which ones needed to be pressed open.
In this last photo you can see how the flower is progressing, from front and back, by adding hexies and building around the center.  
 In the quilt top, as the flowers grew and were ready to be attached with the white dividing hexies, I stitched together the connecting pieces and then stitched and pivoted along the edges, pivoting at each Y-seam, until the section was attached.

Straight stitch to within 1/4", pivot, fold as necessary and stitch next seam, repeat. 
By building in this way, you can make sections that can be connected to make your larger design. While Y-seams are not my favorite, once proficient at stitching them, it makes patterns that require them much easier to tackle. 

I hope this tutorial on Y-seams has been helpful! 

More snippets from the sewing room soon...

Monday, January 1, 2018

Setting Goals for 2018

🎉🎉🎉 Happy New Year!!! 🎉🎉🎉

It's hard to believe how quickly 2017 sped by and here we are on the first day of January, 2018. My friend Denise Stahl at the Curious Kansas Quilter posted her goals for 2018 and inspired me to consider what I want this coming year to look like. 

Without having set specific goals for 2017, a lot was accomplished! Numerous beautiful quilts were quilted for customers, many samples were added to my Hexified Panel Quilts trunk show, and two quilts appeared in the new book, One Block Wonders of the World.  

Here are a few thoughts that I will aspire to meet as goals for 2018...

Work towards more finishes in 2018. I have a growing number of UFOs that need to be pulled out and evaluated. The number is much larger than you might imagine as I not only have my own, but also some 40+ that I inherited from my sister-in-law Cindy when she passed away several years ago. Some will go in my new trunk show, "UFOs, Orphans, and More! Oh My!" Those may remain UFOs or the items in the trunk show may evolve as I finish some and replace them with others. Regardless, the number of UFOs has to be tackled in some way. Although it may be difficult with my current schedule of classes, trunk shows, and quilting commitments, my goal is 12 finishes this year. 
Make the pile of tops waiting to be quilted shorter! At last count, I believe I had close to 25 tops anywhere from small wall hangings to large 100x100" quilts waiting to be quilted. Since I work on a sit-down quilter, it takes me a lot longer to finish a quilt. From pinning the layers, stitching in the ditch to stabilize the quilt top, and then deciding what to quilt on it, it's not a load and go with a pantograph kind of project. So, I've decided some need to be finished with something simple--get the grandkids' quilt tops done and gifted! One was started while I was still in California caring for my folks and still isn't done 5 years after my return to Kansas! That particular one has to move to the top as he graduates from high school in May! Others will get semi-custom quilting and some extensive custom quilting. Each needs to be done!
Work towards getting 3 PIGS started and made. PIGS or projects in grocery sacks (or, in my case, large 2-gallon ziploc bags) are piled high in my sewing room. Some of these are going to be gorgeous quilts! Time to dive in!
Maybe taking the PIGS, one at a time, to the several retreats I go to each year will give me someplace to focus on something new.
Focus on sticking with one BOM--the upcoming Tribal Star Vector Quilt with David Gilleland. By choosing only one BOM, hopefully I can stay on top of it throughout the year. 

Create a second and start on a third trunk show program to present to guilds. As I continue to receive invitations to speak at regional quilt guilds, if I want to be invited back, I need to kick it up a notch and get more ideas worked into story-telling presentations with different themes.

Get better at updating my blog! How about a minimum of 1 post per month! If I can do that, maybe I can increase it more next year.

Beyond my quilting and professional goals, I need to...

Organize my time better so I can spend more time with my husband and best friend. We have a very special connection and came into our marriage at a time when neither of us ever expected to go there again. Making the effort to spend quality time without feeling pressured to work would be a blessing. 
Travel more! Although long trips can be grueling on our bodies, seeing more "bucket list" locations like Mount Rushmore and Niagra Falls, among others, is high on our list. Plus, his daughter is moving to Sweden this spring!!! Time to get my passport at long last!

I'm sure there are many more goals, but this already feels like a lot to accomplish in one fleeting year. Wish me luck and check back for updates on my progress! I'd love to hear your goals in the comments. Wishing you all a very Happy New Year and may 2018 be filled with blessings for all!

More snippets from the sewing room soon...

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Recapping a Very Busy 2017

Where did this past year go?!? I could swear we just decorated for Christmas a few weeks ago and now it's not only time again, it's upon us this weekend! To say 2017 was busy is an understatement. My life took several unexpected twists and turns--all for the better--that have made it quite an adventure a this point.

Early in the year my trunk show of Hexified Panel Quilts took off like crazy. By the end of November I had given my talk and showed my quilts to 16 guilds across Kansas and Missouri. More are schedule well into 2018 and a couple into 2019, and new invitations keep coming in. This is so exciting!

A room full of HandiQuilter Sweet Sixteens with 2 quilters per machine!

Yep, teacher credentials hanging around my neck!

My advanced class students with their free motion projects!
In June I was invited to teach beginning sit-down quilting at the Kansas City Regional Quilt Festival. Having never taught at a quilt show before, it was quite a production getting ready for 4 classes in 3 days! Yep, just say it... I'm crazy! It came off great, the classes were well attended and everyone was happy, having learned new techniques or tips during the classes.

And, at the end of the festival I got to take a class myself with Jamie Wallen! What an incredible treat this was, to learn how to draw and quilt mystique feathers and shapes!

The final day of the festival as I was wandering through and taking more photos of the quilts, ribbons were being hung on various quilts in the guild display section. I was excited when I came across the "And On That Farm" quilt pieced by my friend JoAnn Clouse and quilted by me. It had a big blue ribbon hanging on it for Viewer's Choice for Best Machine Quilting!

Working on assembling rows and sections at a Hexified Panel Quilt workshop

Janice showing her completed Peacock Hexified Panel Quilt

Kay brought her patriotic Hexified Panel Quilt for show & tell after my trunk show

Ellen brought her completed Hexified Panel Quilt top to share during another class 

Susan's Hexified Panel quilt was made from fabric designed by her friend Nancy
Throughout the year I have continued teaching my Hexified Panel Quilt workshops at several quilt shops in Baldwin City, Eudora, Overbrook, and Leavenworth, Kansas; for guilds in Oskaloosa and Emporia, Kansas; a workshop in Branson, Missouri, hosted by the Quilted Cow; plus three workshops in California during our fall trip at the home of my friend Marsha in Antioch, at the Quilt Corral in Willows, and for the Flying Needles Quilt Guild in Woodland. So many people are excited about this twist to the original One Block Wonder technique that I've given a twist by making the tops out of six panels for the hexies that are color-flowed around a seventh uncut panel. The quality and variety of the projects made by my students continues to amaze even me! The uniqueness of each project is stunning!

Contessa in Diamonds
Garden Rendezvous Reimagined
I entered two quilts in the 2017 MQX Quilt Festival in Springfield, Illinois, that was held in late September. At the encouragement of the director of the festival after she saw one of my quilts on Facebook, I entered two quilts. Garden Rendezvous Reimagined is an original design Hexified Panel Quilt made and quilted by me. Contessa in Diamonds, also an original design, is a variation of the One Block Wonder technique that was created by me and quilted by Julia "Quiltoff" Larina of North Kansas City. Both were juried in and, although neither won a ribbon, it was a fabulous experienced having my quilts accepted into a juried show to be judged up against some of my quilting idols, and getting to attend and be at the awards ceremony with those who did win. Quilts in the works now are being planned to be entered in juried shows in coming months. 

A huge honor that happened this year was to be selected as one of 28 quilters from across the US and around the world to have their quilts featured in One Block Wonders of the World, a new book by Maxine Rosenthal and Linda Bardes (2017, C&T Publishing). Two of my quilts--Wanderlust: Paris in Spring and Poppy Explosion--were selected, shipped to California where they were photographed, and in October my copies of the book that I had pre-ordered arrived. Not only were my quilts in the book in several places, but Poppy Explosion is one of three quilts featured on the back cover!

Before I had no sisters--now I have 4!!! The three in Kansas are Linda, Lora, and Liese, here with me and Les standing in front of the quilt he made before I knew him. It was the perfect backdrop for our wedding reception.
In the midst of all this quilty excitement, on July 1, 2017, I married Mr. Leslie Jerome--a man I met at a quilting retreat. Yes, he's a quilter! Three of his sisters are in one of the quilt guilds I attend and he joined them for a weekend retreat in August 2016 while visiting from Mississippi. That weekend I was teaching my Hexified Panel Quilt workshop and made he jumped in, turning his first Hexified Panel Quilt that he turned into a QOV for his brother.
Les (right) presenting his brother Lon with his Quilt of Valor
Being a retired ceramic tile installer, he had started quilting after retiring, first making a sampler quilt for his granddaughter. The One Block Wonder and Hexified Panel Quilt techniques have became a new creative outlet for him. By November, several months after the retreat/workshop weekend, he called and our conversations began. He visited in December, came back in February, and by April had moved to Kansas to be with me. Now we are designing and creating quilts together, and having a marvelous time sharing a very special life that neither of us ever expected to have at our ages.  Never say never! God/Universe may just have other plans for you.

More exciting things are in the works including making samples and becoming a featured quilt artist. Stay tuned for more adventures in 2018! I promise I'll do better in keeping up with the blog, even if it's just a quick note once a month.

More snippets from the sewing room soon...

Sunday, January 15, 2017

The Y-Seam Queen Resurrects a Vintage Grandmother's Flower Garden

A couple of months ago, a good friend approached me and asked if I might be willing to take on a project. I agreed to meet at her home to look at said project and, after some conversation and looking at the parts and pieces, I agreed to take it home and see what I could do with it. The project was a Grandmother's Flower Garden that had been started by her daughter-in-law's grandmother, but left unfinished. The plan was to finish it to whatever size I could with the parts and pieces contained in the bag.

Miscellaneous parts and pieces laid out on beds and chairs as my friend started looking at what might be done to complete this Grandmother's Flower Garden quilt top for her daughter-in-law.

What appeared before me was a rather large puzzle with various pieces that needed to be connected by machine stitching, with a Y-seam at every junction. There was a fairly good sized section with 6 flowers that was already assembled minus several of the setting diamonds, that provided a good starting place. There was also a whole bag full of other parts and pieces that needed to be incorporated in order to make a complete top. Several of the bud blossoms that made up the setting diamonds didn't yet have the surrounding white hexies attached to make them the proper size and shape to fit into the bigger quilt. Most of the remaining flower and setting diamonds were not sewn together or had random strips of white hexies stitched on that needed to be finished. The first step was to complete the "blocks" or sub-units that would need to be put together into the whole later.
Already assembled top section with setting diamonds added.
There was a fair amount of sewing, ripping, resewing, etc., as I learned from each step. Don't get me wrong, I had done Y-seam projects before, just not at this scale where EVERY SINGLE SEAM was a Y-seam! A few pieces had been stitched together in what looked like the right way, but left little pockets sticking up, rather than Y-seam junctions that laid flat. Those had to be taken apart and re-sewed. If I learned anything from this project, it's how to think differently about how pieces go together, not unlike sewing opposite curves together in a Drunkard's Path block.

Over a period of almost three weeks, I came and went from this project. Every day I would wander into the sewing room and look at the design wall where all of the parts and pieces were pinned up in what would become a final layout, and contemplate what step to take next. Thankfully, last night I finished the process and am now ready to hand it off to be quilted and bound for my friend.

Understanding Y-seams is an important concept if you wish to machine piece a hexie quilt like this Grandmother's Flower Garden. The most important thing to remember is to always start and stop your seams 1/4" in from the edge of the fabric, being sure to add 2-3 back stitches to anchor the seams. By starting 1/4" in, you leave a flex point where that seam can then open and bend as you pivot to make the next seam around the corner. This example I stitched with contrasting thread to show the importance of leaving that 1/4" unsewn in order to make those corners.

For the larger blocks within the quilt, I first had to lay the piece to be inserted/attached next to the block, then flip it over, right sides together, in the same position (photos below with brown & white hexies). Notice how the points go into the Y-seam V's when right-side up, but points meet V's when flipped over to be right sides together. This is where it gets tricky. The first seam in the example below would actually be sewing the two white hexies together from the outside edge into the white/brown V at the top, stopping at the seam line with needle down, lifting the presser foot, and pivoting the pieces in such a way as to then sew the white hexie in a continuous seam line down that zig-zag line. With each pivot, you will need to readjust the previous seam, often folding the hexie before in half to allow the new seams to line up for stitching. By leaving 1/4" open at either end of the seams that join individual hexies, they can flex/ease open as you pivot and stitch. It's slow going, stitching 2", stop to pivot and line up the new seam, stitch 2", stop to pivot and line up the new seam, etc. etc.

Here's another view of the stitch 2", pivot and turn to line up the new seam, stitch 2", pivot...

The original maker had not left 1/4" open at either end of any seam. All seams had been stitched all the way to the edges of the hexies and joins were forced to flex into the Y-seam when pressed, often unsuccessfully. I spent a significant amount of time clipping seams open 1/4" before I could pivot and stitch as I added new sections to the flowers and setting diamonds. There was one flower in the original partially made section that had some real troubling seams. Not only were they sewn from edge to edge, there appears to have been a problem with tension on the machine as the hexies seemed to be gathered rather than stitched together. An entire evening was dedicated to this one block where I removed the center of the flower between the red ring and light blue outside ring, pressed each piece well with Best Press to help it regain and hold its original shape, and then reinserted the flower into the surrounding ring. As you can see in these before & after pictures, the difference is dramatic! It was also a lesson in patience as I worked the center back into an existing ring praying it would all fit properly when stitched.
This flower had more problems than just the ill-fitting Y-seams. The machine tension must have been off as it actually was gathered along the seams that attached the red ring to the light blue ring.

 After reinserting the flower center into the blue ring, the flower laid completely flat and fit nicely into the rest of the quilt top. Whew! What a relief!

Finally all of the parts and pieces were ready to assemble into a completed top. I worked on one section at a time, adding the flowers on the right side first, as they had a U-shaped seam to fit around a section that had an extra flower and diamond already sewn into it.
I didn't keep track as well as I should have on where to sop and ended up stitching too far, creating a 3D pocket along the edge of the flower with the gray and white stripes. Break time. I stopped to take out that row of stitching back to the proper junction, and then proceeded to add other sections.
Oops! I stitched too far and made a pocket! Unsewing time...
The next row of flowers, each connected by three white hexies, were laid out and then sewn along that long zig-zag seam from the bottom up and then across the three pieces that connected them to the upper section flower. I was finally getting close to being done!
The final row of flowers and diamonds was added and by late last night, the Grandmother's Flower Garden top was completed! Final measurements show it should finish about 83" x 94", a great size to use on a bed. I did use extra white hexies to make small half-diamonds to fill in the spaces on both sides to make it square.
I also did an enormous amount of trimming of threads along the way. As I pressed sections, resewed blocks, and generally went over the entire quilt top as I worked on it, I found threads of many colors. Some had 1/2" tails left and may had tails up to 6" long hanging across the back! Knowing how much it bothers me when threads peak through white fabric when sandwiched and quilted, I did my best to trim as I went and ended up with this pile of multi-colored threads that were all clipped from the back of this quilt top, all left by the original maker. There were significant amounts of black, green, blue, pink, red, yellow, white, and more. Most seams were not sewn with matching threads on top and bobbin.
I'm happy to say that this quilt is now ready to go the longarmer who will quilt it for my friend, after which another friend will be binding it for her. Due to some health issues and multiple surgeries, my friend's quilting time is very limited. It's taking a team to get this special project done so she can give a finished quilt back to her daughter-in-law who will cherish this creation started by her grandmother and completed with loving care by her mother-in-law's friends.

More snippets from the sewing room soon,