Judy Heyward's Musings on Quilts and Nature

Combining My Love of Quilting and Nature

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Starting A New Project

I make a fair number of wallhangings that are centered around flowers or other things in nature and people always wonder how I take a small photo and turn it into a large wallhanging.  Well, my little piece of magic software is Excel.  And this is, more or less, how I do it:

This is a picture of a mushroom cluster that I took in 2008, thinking that someday I would make it into a quilt.
I then inserted the picture into my Excel program, changed some settings, dragged the image across the screen to the size I wanted and printed it out as separate sheets. (and, no, this is NOT the mushroom--just an example.  After it is printed out, I trim the appropriate edges and glue the entire piece together--ending up with quite a much larger image.  You can make it as large as you want really.  I guess it would depend on the resolution of the original photo.
This is my glued-together mushroom.  If you look closely, you can see some of the edges of paper.  You can also see where I drew in dark lines to use for my appliqué pattern.  
The next step is to trace the entire pattern/picture (meaning, in this case, the mushrooms) onto thin tracing paper.  I number each object within the drawing, label that side as TOP, turn it over and then trace the separate objects onto Wonder-Under.  Tedious?  You Betcha  . . .but ultimately worth the effort.
After I fuse the Wonder-Under patterns onto fabric, I cut them out.  Then I turn the tracing paper pattern to the TOP side, place it under a teflon ironing sheet and fuse together sections of the quilt appliqué, using the pattern underneath as a guide.
You know, I'm getting kind to tired just thinking about doing all of this.  But, for some reason, I REALLY enjoy doing it.  And here are the results so far.  Of course, it's far from finished--but it's also far from just beginning.  There are still things to add and other things to figure out--but a challenge can be a good thing, right?  This piece will be about 34" x 38" when I finish--unless I add some sort of border treatment--which is a fair amount larger than a 4" x 6" photo!

Thursday, May 11, 2017

A Nice Thing

The Western North Carolina Quilt Guild had its Quilt Show last weekend and it was a very nice show.  Lots of really nice quilts and equally nice quilters.  It was my first time to participate as a member and to see how all of the pieces fit together.  And fit, they did.  Our Show co-chairwomen were experienced and the venue, Bon Clarken, was great.  And there is no BUT.
BUT, something very nice happened to me AFTER the show.  This is one of the quilts that I entered into the show.  (It actually won a Merit award for "Best Message." ) This quilt means a lot to me because our world and our responsibility to preserve it mean a lot to me--and I hope to you.  A lovely man saw this quilt and wanted to own it because he, too, is very concerned that our time is running out.  He really GOT what I was trying to say.  He came to my home with some friends and visited, sharing his perceptions and commitment to doing what he can for our future.  And he left with this quilt.   And I was happy.  What better home could it find?

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

My Trip Top Cabarrus Quilters Guild

This week I had the pleasure of traveling to the Cabarrus Quilters Guild in Concord, NC to present a trunk show and to teach a class on fusible appliqué .  And what a great time I had.  The members of this Guild are so welcoming.  They meet in the parish hall of a local church, using the "seated around a table" format with encourages conversation, I think.  By the time the meeting began, all the tables were full and the members were in full visiting and sharing mode.  It was wonderful.   Another thing that was wonderful--from my perspective--was that they asked me lots of questions about my quilts and genuinely wanted to know what methods I used, how I choose my threads and fabrics and other insightful questions.  I always love it when that happens.  And, by the way, they had dessert!
The next day, at another church with a great classroom space, I taught the class on fusible appliqué.
 You can see here some of the students hard at work--and work, they really did!  The two ladies in this first photo are Ono and Charlotte who are the Program Chairs and they were great.  So kind and thoughtful, making sure that I had everything that I could possibly need.  Thank you, Ono and Charlotte!
So, I arrived home, tired but with. great memories--and look what I saw upon my arrival . . .The first peony bloom of the season.  How beautiful.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Dresden Plates

The other class I took at the Mid-Atlantic Quilt Show was with Susan Cleveland from Minnesota using an 18 degree Dresden plate template.  She has a different technique in which you essentially flip and sew individual Dresden segments onto a cotton circle that you have drawn and cut to the appropriate size.  The theory behind this is that your Dresden plates--when completed--will lay flat.  And this is what actually happened.
This top that I made isn't anything like her sample.    I precut my plate segments before I went to class--to save time  (and also, to cut at leisure in my own studio).  The problem was that not all 18 degree rulers are the same.  (I think my ruler was longer than hers and I started cutting at a different location on it than she did).  My plates ended up with a much smaller central hole and thus I couldn't interlock mine the way she had done in her quilt.
So, in a good way, that was a blessing because I had to come up with my own design.  I also added that black fabric behind the plates to make them stand out more against the black and white fabric background.
All in all, I really enjoyed this class and learned a few things along the way.  Susan is such a delightful person and everyone in the class responded to that.  You couldn't ask for a better day.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Storm At Sea

This  past week, I went to Quiltfest in Hampton, Virginia.  I usually go every year but for the past two years, I've had the extra fun of going with my niece and taking classes together.  She is a fairly new quilter and it's been really great watching her grow in her craft--which she manages to do in spite of a VERY busy work schedule and a child with lots of activities (oh, for the energy of twenty years past!).
Anyway, I am the one who has chosen the classes for us and, I'll have to say, last year I was a miserable failure at it.  The first class was so bad and I felt terrible that THIS was going to be my niece's first experience of having an "in-person" teacher.  The second class had a great teacher--it just wasn't something I really wanted to make.  (I took all the strips I had cut for that class and made lots of clothesline bowls--so it wasn't really wasted).
We signed up earlier this year and, thus, had a better selection of classes.  For me, Storm At Sea has always been one of those "impossible to achieve" quilts.  I've tried to do it 3 times and failed three times.  I really don't like paper piecing and tried to use regular piecing techniques and just never could get those points.  So, when I saw this class offered, I decided to bite the bullet and give it ONE MORE TRY.  I was delightfully surprised.  And I think you can see from my photo that I was also successful--at last.
The teacher was David Sirota (quiltmavendave@gmail.com) from New Hampshire.  This was really his first "big" teaching event and he did a great job.  His method is called "No More Tears" and there is no paper to pull out when you're finished.  This technique won't work on ALL paper piecing patterns, but it will on most blocks that build from the center out like this one.  He really puts on quite a show with his patter but there is a LOT of good information thrown in.  He did call my niece and me "the quiet ones" because we worked on our blocks--and watched all the others in the room respond to him.  It was very interesting.
The first day, we took a class with Susan Cleveland from Minnesota using the Dresden plate template and I think I'm actually going to finish that quilt also (no clothesline bowls this year!).  More later.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Making Progress

When the weather is nasty and it's too cold--or overcast--to enjoy working outside, it's the perfect time to be in your studio and get some work done.  (Of course, it might also be good to actually organize and put away extraneous things that are also surrounding you as you work, but that's not nearly as much fun).
At any rate, I've made a little more progress on my next art quilt.  I've been playing around with the next step (the black border with the yellow flowers).  This is about the seventh thing that I've tried so far and is my favorite.  We'll see.  There will be more flowers on the side (and there'll be 4 sides) but, for now, I'm just thinking about it.  I made the decision that I was not going to try to finish this quilt for any particular quilt show deadline.  It will be finished when it's finished.  And I'm having more fun with that attitude.

In the meantime, I've been working on a new sample for an appliqué class I'm teaching in May.  The picture on the left is the finished appliqué before I quilted the piece and the other picture is of the finished work.  I don't think that the quilting stitching shows up particularly well but, in person, I do think that it adds life to the appliqué.  The object of this class is to show how to draw out the patterns onto WonderUnder, how to position the fusible pieces onto the background fabrics and how to stitch them down using a blanket or satin stitch.  Even the triangles are fused rather than pieced.  I had a lot of fun coming up with this small quilt and, hopefully, the students will enjoy making it, too.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

It's A Beginning

It's always nice to get over the hump of actually starting a quilt project.  I've had two or three ideas in the last month or so but somehow I just couldn't get motivated to the point where I could choose fabrics and begin to create the image in fabric.
However, thanks to a friend talking about the quilt she was going to make, an idea began to shove itself into my consciousness.  And this is where I am in my thought process.  I really like to make quilts that radiate from the center outwards.  Of course, it CAN be a problem when you have to make either an oval or a circle that's larger than anything you can trace onto paper.  This circle is about 25 inches and I really don'thave a pot lid that large to trace!
The answer to my problem was to put a thumbtack into my cutting mat, tie a string around it and then a pencil to the other end and GENTLY pull the pencil around in a circle, transferring it to a large piece of paper.  It worked!  Of course, I had to be very careful as I was pulling because that thumbtack just didn't want to stay in position.
So, this has been my first step.  These designs are fused on and later I will sew them down permanently.  I'm now beginning to move outward.
And my next section is going to look something like this.  Of course, it can still change.  Who knows what it will say to me if I really listen.  But, the main thing is--I'm having fun.  And that's the most important part.