Saturday, January 24, 2015

Sunrise Celebration - Project Quilting

"Sunset Celebration,"
20" x 31", made for Project Quilting,
Season 6, Challenge 2: Sunrise/Sunset,
Jan. 2015 in Yellow Springs, Ohio

Challenge recap for  "Sunrise/Sunset":

Your inspiration for this challenge is Sunrise/Sunset. Use what inspires you...the colors, the images, the things you do at this time of day.

When I saw that the challenge was Sunrise/Sunset, I knew immediately what fabric I wanted to use. When I purchased the hand-dyed browns and blacks for "Daybreak is Your Midnight", I also made an impulse purchase of some hand-dyed fat eights in a jewel-tone color wheel.

There were 11 different colors so if I made the strips 1" high and only used one color per column, my quilt would only be 11" high. I used a similar pattern that I used in "Daybreak" where I went 1 - 2 - 1 - 2 - 3 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 5 - 6, etc., although the middle column has more rotations of 1 and 2 and less of the blues to make it even out.

I decided that I wanted to do inset piecing on all the 6" stripes like I did on "Daybreak" but I also wanted them to be less subtle so in most cases I used inset pieces from two steps above or below that color.

Originally I was going to have all of the yellow at the bottom, but once I got the strips pieced, I felt that it wasn't working as well as it could, so it was time to improvise. I tried a few different arrangements and decided I liked the yellow on the top on the two outside pieces. Originally I wasn't going to use any sashing but I thought the colors would pop more if they had some black to play against.

I don't have a lot of black fabric in my stash (probably because I use it frequently) and I didn't have enough of the batik blue/black that I like to use, but I did have a black fabric that had little gold stars on it that was also an impulse buy. There was only 1/4 yard but that was just enough to use for the sashing and the binding. The stars made me think of confetti.

It is quilted stitch-in-the-ditch but since I liked the thick hand-quilting that I did on "Daybreak," I used some thin hand-spun maroon yarn and quilted three short stitched in all 90 of the inset pieces. I also couched some commercial chunky yarn along the sashing and around the inside of the binding.

In keeping with the colors and energy on the front, I chose this piece of fabric for the backing.

The colors, confetti stars, and chunky yarn all reminded me of the Sunset Celebration, held nightly in Key West, FL, which is how I got the name.

To read more about Project Quilting, go here.

To see other entries for this challenge, visit the Sunrise/Sunset challenge page.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Birches - Project Quilting

"Birches," 23" x 18", made for Project Quilting, Season 6, Challenge 1: Trees, Jan. 2015 in Yellow Springs, Ohio

Challenge recap for  "Trees":

Your inspiration for this challenge is trees. Your project does NOT need to include a tree (but certainly can).

When I saw that the challenge was “Trees,” I immediately thought of the dozen or so quilts that I’ve made featuring tree, including three that have been for Project Quilting challenges. My first instinct was to go with a pine tree, perhaps because my Christmas decorations haven’t been put away yet, but when I looked back on the three quilts that I’ve made, half of them have been of pine trees.

So instead I decided to do my usual brain storming while looking through my fabric stash to see if the fabrics would speak to me. That’s when I found this batik:

This fabric didn't just speak, it screamed "Birch Trees." So I continued to look for fabrics that I could use for the background. I chose a navy blue batik with small green dots and a deep green batik for the lower part.

I cut the birch fabric 2" wide, trying to avoid the parts that looked like tree trunks, then I folded the fabric the raw edges in on itself but I didn't try to keep it even or straight so they'd have more of an organic feel. One reason I did this was because I wanted to have two layers of fabric so the seams wouldn't show through when placed on top of the darker fabric. I also didn't want to have raw edges. I did put 1/4" fusible tape along these edges.

Next I made the quilt sandwich and quilted the edges of the trees. I knew I wanted to have heavy quilting on the background fabric to make the trees seem to pop off of the quilt, but I wasn't sure how I wanted to quilt it, so I decided to sleep on it.

The next day I had a quilting idea, which I thought was called "Matchstick Quilting" so I Googled it. It wasn't what I thought it was, but it did spark some ideas. Matchstick Quilting is usually done in straight lines 1/8" apart, and sometimes with different threads. It looks pretty cool on solid color fabric because it changes the color when looking from a distance.

Instead of just straight lines, I decided to echo the shape of the birch trees. I also decided I only wanted to do 1/4" apart instead of 1/8" because it would take half the amount of time and I didn't want to obscure the beauty of the batik fabrics. I did decided to use different colored threads, although I stayed in the same color family of the fabric. I used three shades of dark blue and one dark green.

I used a knife-edge binding technique so the lines of the trees wouldn't be interrupted.

Click on any of the photos to see larger images.

To read more about Project Quilting, go here.

To see other entries for this challenge, visit the Trees challenge page.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Five Rivers MetroParks Quilt Exhibit

“Four Patch Bridge at Sunset,” 45.5” x 17.5”, made by Pam Geisel, Nov. 2013

This is your last chance to see the Miami Valley Art Quilt Network's exhibit of quilts made to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Five Rivers MetroParks. The exhibit will be at Aullwood Audubon Center from Jan. 10 through March 8. The center is located at 1000 Aullwood Road in Dayton and is open Mon.-Sat. from 9am-5pm and on Sundays from 1-5pm. There will be an opening reception on Jan. 18 from 2-4 pm.

There is an admission fee for this location ($5 per adult and $3 for children 2-18), although it does also get you into the center and access to the trails.

(On an unrelated noted, this is my 300th blog post!)

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Project Quilting Season 6 Begins

 Collage of my Project Quilting Challenge quilts.

For the last four years I've participated in "Project Quilting," a non-competitive on-line quilting contest. I've made 26 quilts for Project Quilting challenges and have sold almost 75% of them! "Early Morning Nine Patch" won "Best of Show" at the Annual Juried Landscape Competition, "The View" at the Rosewood Arts Centre Gallery in 2012. To say that Project Quilting has been successful for me would be an understatement.

It's time for Project Quilting's sixth season. Aside for creating fabulous (an occasionally award-winning) quilts, there is an opportunity to win fabulous prizes. Prizes are chosen at random from all of the participants for that challenge. At the end of the season there will be grand prizes awarded to all participants, with one entry per challenge quilt, so the more challenges you enter, the better your chances for winning.

The schedule for 2015 is:
Challenge 1: January 4
Challenge 2: January 18
Challenge 3: February 1
Challenge 4: February 15
Challenge 5: March 1
Challenge 6: March 15

Each challenge is posted at noon CDT and due exactly one week later at noon CDT.

The challenge will be posted on the "Persimon Dreams" Project Quilting blog and you can also find links about past seasons there.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Custom Quilts made in 2014

It's my annual look back on the custom quilts I made during the year that were made as gifts, so I didn't want to show them too soon and accidentally ruin the surprise.

Click on the photos to see larger views.

"True Lover's Knot" queen-sized bed quilt, 82" x 92" with matching pillow cases, made for a wedding gift.


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Front of two-sided t-shirt quilt with 41 shirts, 1 leotard, 2 patches, 2 canvas bags, and two pieces of special fabric.

Back of t-shirt quilt, 57" x 77"

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 "December Cardinal" fabric mosaic, 11" x 14" framed

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Mr. Sports T-shirt quilt, 48" x 80"

Monday, December 8, 2014

World Travelers: Revisiting My First On-line Custom Order

"World Travelers," 50" x 30", Made by Pam Geisel, 2007

I recently had the opportunity to revisit a quilt that I made back in 2007, before I started blogging. I was contacted by a man who wanted me to make a quilt of the world for his parents with the countries they visited in red and also include the flags of those countries.

This quilt is special to me because it was the first custom quilt that I made for a stranger (although I don't think they knew this until now).

The background is made up of eight 10" light blue squares (of three different fabrics) that are pieced with the land masses and countries in red were appliqued raw edge with a satin stitch (a tight zigzag).

The flags are mostly pieced and the intricate parts were drawn with Sharpie markers. The flags were hand appliqued to the navy blue border.
The original quilt had the countries of Mexico, France, Morocco, Greece, and three Caribbean Islands and I heard that the quilt was a big hit with my customer's parents. At that time he asked if countries and flags could be added in the future, after his parents visited more places. Of course I said yes.

Flash forward seven years. The owner contacted me and wanted me to add Egypt, Italy, the Netherlands, and the state of Alaska. She shipped the quilt to me and I realized I had a small dilemma. Adding the flags wouldn't be a problem because they were hand appliqued to the quilt after it was quilted. But the countries were originally attached with a zigzag stitch BEFORE the quilt was sandwiched and quilted. When I added the countries, the sewing lines would be visible on the back side.

Plan A was to fuse two layers of fabric together so it would be thicker, zigzag the satin stitch around the edges and then attach it to the quilt with a straight stitch, kind of like sewing on a patch. The sewing lines would show on the back but wouldn't be very obvious. This worked great for Egypt and pretty well for Alaska although the two peninsulas gave me a little trouble. But the other countries were too small for the feed dogs to grab. Italy, which is only 1/2" wide and 1-1/4" long, disappeared down the hole where the needle goes.

So Plan B was used for Italy, the Italian islands, and the Netherlands. For those I fused the fabric to the quilt and zigzagged all the way through the quilt. I've tried doing zigzag quilting on finished quilts and have often run into thread breakage and tension issues, which is another reason why this wasn't my first choice, but this time the sewing machine cooperated.

Plan C would have been to do raw edge applique and a straight stitch, more like the art quilts I've been doing lately, like the Yellow Springs American series, but I wanted the new countries to match the old ones.

It was fun to revisit a quilt from my past and to travel vicariously with it's owners.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Life is Like a Box of Chocolates: A Sampler Quilt

"Life is Like a Box of Chocolates," 53" x 53", Made by Pam Geisel, 2014

A modern interpretation of a sampler quilt, this art quilt, "Life is Like a Box of Chocolates," began life as a sampler quilt. It was quilted with a tight, angular free-motion quilting and then it was cut apart into 81 5”x5” squares.

I then pieced the large Nine-Patch background using two alternating navy blue pieces of fabric that I over-dyed to make them even darker. The strips that make the # shape used to be the original pieced border that I cut in half length-wise. I basted and quilted this part.

Next I arranged the 81 squares into nine Nine-Patch blocks forming a Nine-Patch made up of nine Nine-Patch blocks (kind of like a Suduko puzzle). The edges were left raw with some of the batting exposed and they were machine applique/quilted to the background.

I find the more I look at this quilt, the more my brain tries to reassemble the sampler blocks. Some of the original quilt blocks were Bear’s Paw, Jacob’s Ladder, Log Cabin, and Path Through the Woods. Can you see them?

I named this quilt because it's a play on a chocolate "Sampler" box and it kind of looks like little quilted candies arranged inside a box.