Friday, May 20, 2022

Contraption - a dozen done


At this rate, 2022 is providing to be a productive year with the finish of my 12th and new favorite quilt “Contraption”  54”x 67”

It doesn’t have a label and hasn’t been on a proper photoshoot but the quitting, facing and sleeve are done and it made a debut appearance at my recent in person lecture trunk show “Motivation and Method”. The irony is not lost on me that the topic spurred motivating me to get a bunch of tops turned into completed quilts  

After adding some breathing room to the sides with pieced neutrals and pink to tie in the center, the claustrophobic sense that I’d been feeling dissipated and I could get on with matchstick in a matching gray Aurifil 2620 Forty3  

There’s plenty in the design to occupy the eye so adding texture was the goal and a chance to finally use this modern technique on something larger than a mini seemed about time.  

There were many- many renditions of the layout as you can see here on the design wall during construction  Parts were sideways and upside down from where they ended which isn’t all that unusual in my process.  Because there's no hard right or wrong in my opinion when it comes to a composition it tends to feel unresolved when so many great choices were left behind in and that can lead to a future quilt making it a win win. 

Started in a zoom workshop with Maria Shell, I thought the top was completed June 2021 and even made my top-nine liked posts for the year.  There was more to just letting it percolate and I'm so thankful that I allowed myself time to identify what was nagging me and resolve it with the border.  The unfinished top that is pinned to the door in the picture is from an in person workshop with her in 2018 still feels narrow and awkward so it's going to keep brewing until I come up with a solution. 

Here’s a look at a couple layouts that I considered: 

On the topic of delays, my 10 year Blogiversary came and went March 16th without fanfare so I'm going to document it here and now, whoop whoop for double digits.  If you're wondering about the other finishes I'll be sharing the ones not already blogged about in no particular oder. 

Thanks for stopping by - Happy Stitching, Karen 

Friday, April 22, 2022

Earth Day - Earth Views

Earth Views - The One

Introducing “The One”  68” x 73” featuring Earth Views from Robert Kaufman by designer Karen Nyberg, a retired astronaut, conservationist, textile artist and quilter.  I was fascinated  to learn more about her and the unique fabric line in this  Auribuzz  interview and Textile Talks QSOS video

There is only one earth. It is unique and beautiful.  It is to be cherished, admired and protected. It takes a commitment to preserve something so special and rare that we are fortunate to have.   This description reminds me of love and wedding vows making “The One” a fitting gift for a newly married couple to cuddle under. 

"The One" photoshoot Capitola CA

I knew immediately that I wanted to make a quilt with an open and airy vibe - letting the Earth Views blues float as if suspended in zero gravity.  The quilt and design needed to evoke hope and optimism. 

Earth Views and Kona Solid Layer Cakes

HSTs paired with Kona solids 

Having recently finished a quilt using Half Square Triangles they were still on my mind and their diagonal design element has a vast quality that was inline with my vision. 

Unlike my previous HST quilt, sashing was added to give the blocks more space (pun intended).  In my head and on paper it was a simple change but the logistics of cutting and sewing the strips was a bit more effort than I had anticipated.  

Making sure that the horizontal, vertical and diagonal lines were properly aligned was a lot to ask of this "perfectly imperfect" quilter but worth the extra attention to detail.    Did you notice the tiny HSTs in the sashing?  There are 22 of them to represent the year 2022.

Auditioning binding 

Once the top was pieced, I brought it with me to my LQS Hart's Fabric and got Kona Quicksilver as the border returning again after quilting was done to pick out Iron for the binding.  I’m lucky to have a well stocked wall of Robert Kauffman Kona solids conveniently available. 


Along with the four Earth Views fat quarters, I received  a spool of Aurifil 50 wt color 2715 from Karen Nyberg's coordinating Aurifil thread collection.   Robins Egg also comes in a Forty3 cone, my favorite to use for quilting on a longarm and also piecing on my domestic. 

Aurifil Robins Egg 
Forty/3 cone color 2620 Stainless Steel

The color value placement may seem random but it was very intentional.  With endless options, I distributed  them in a way that created secondary interest and encouraged the viewers eye to wander. 

Quilted free form with only a general concept in mind and taking inspiration from the movement in the prints resulted in lots of atmospheric swirls, crashing waves and cloud motifs. 

The sky was especially stunning during the photoshoot. 


Check out the details on the Robert Kaufman and Aurifil blog and see the other projects made with Earth Views   

Be kind to the earth and to one another.

Happy Stitching, Karen 

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

New Baby + New Year = New Quilt

There’s no better way to start a New Year than with a new quilt, made in celebration of the birth of a precious baby.  A gorgeous day at the beach called for a photoshoot. Sorry, not sorry if it’s snowing where you are - I’m sure that’s pretty too. 

For the January 2022 Aurifil Artisan showcase I am sharing my original design inspired by two gifted quilts that came before it.  But before I reveal those- let’s take a moment to admire how beautifully blended the variegated 50wt color 4670 quilted up. 

I also used a neutral 50wt for the piecing, color 2000 even though there are lights and darks in the fabric. 

Here’s the completed quilt for our niece and her husband’s  newborn son.  I’m so pleased with how it turned out and that it was actually gifted on time.  They have sent us adorable pictures of it being well loved. 

When it comes to deciding on what to make, I try to personalize at every opportunity.  I made the quilt shown below for their wedding present.  Pattern Chain+Link by Elizabeth Dackson 

The palette and design influence is pretty obvious I think.  

When their daughter was born a few years ago, I made her this Lone Star in a Sharon Winters workshop. I combined the elements of the two to make the newest one feel related (pun intended). 

The 50 wt thread lays so nicely with opens seems that I just had to include an underbelly shot. 

And here’s a close up of the prints - there are nine in all and my stash served me well. A cohesive scrappy modern traditional design is my preference lately. 

For hand stitching the binding, I used color 2784 with my new favorite cut width of 3” instead of 2.25” so that it gives a substantial edge. 

The quilt measures right on target  48” square. Big enough for baby to lay on now and small enough for him to drag around when he’s grown and toddling about. 
Backed in flannel with bamboo silk batting, a cozy combination. 

Be sure to check out the other featured makers to see what projects they have shared and follow along on instagram #aurifilartisan @capitolaquilter 

Happy Stitching, Karen 

Monday, January 24, 2022

Aurifil Artisan - Night Fancy fabric


A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to receive the  newest line by designer Victoria Findlay Wolfe “Night Fancy “  from FreeSpirit fabrics and a lovely spool of 50wt thread from her collection.  I love being an Aurifil Artisan and am always up for a challenge. 
I knew immediately that the 4 Fat Quarter would make a great Improv Abstraction Log Cabin. Pairing Drift which reads dark but is also packed with lots of color with the black and white Wander for the high contrast portion and the blue tonal print Big Sliver with the solid for the low contrast was the perfect recipe. 

I shared in my (very long!) 2021 recap post yesterday the sixteen quilts finished for the year and you can see that I haven’t gotten this design series out of my system. Trimming the blocks made a pile of confetti and not much waste. 
Another reason I chose this for the project was because I wanted to expand my 16” block pattern to see how big it would grow to if I kept building until I ran out of fabric. Any guess? 

The mini ended up 26” - did you estimate high or low?  

During the photoshoot I attempted to make it appear bigger in some (near the ocean) and smaller in others (next to the mural). I think either way, it’s quite visually impactful 
Matchstick quilting on a long arm with Aurifil Forty-3 in color 2620 was a breeze even though I’m very inexperienced with that technique. I chose an organic wave motif to mimic the block design.  

For the label I matchstick quilted using the variegated color 3840 which has a subtle range to it.  Be sure to check out the full line of fabric and thread collection as well as the projects made by other artisans.  

 I’m going to include a couple more favorite shots in closing- happy stitching, Karen

Sunday, January 23, 2022

Sixteen 2021 Finished quilts

 January means reflecting back on  accomplishments. Sixteen completed quilts in 2021 is pretty productive for me  

Some were start to finish,  some were wrapping up long term projects, sizes range from mini to massive, most were gifts (retirement, babies & weddings), a swap and challenges. I kept six. 

“Either Or” 28”x38” was my response to the MQG fabric challenge using the fat-eights provided and additional thanks to a couple of guild mates  

The woven “fringe “ selvage edge was too tempting to leave out  

I’m enjoying the exploration of mixing thread color and weight as an Aurifil Artisan as evidenced in many of my finishes 

My temperature quilt is the largest and most blogged about I titled it : “Predictable” 91”x98”  

Started January 2019 with the top finished December 2019 representing temperatures throughout that year. 

Finally Completed October 24, 2021 in time for the QuiltCon entry deadline with high hopes for sharing it at the special exhibit but unfortunately it was not juried in.  

A much smaller version 50”x71” was gifted to our sons MIL to celebrate her retirement.  Unlike the temperature quilt, the blocks could be placed in any order on the design wall and didn’t take 365 days!  It’s interesting to see how scale plays in the overall look of the two quilts when compared  

I used a festive dotted binding and vintage backing. 

A collaboration with my DIL started during winter break of 2020 while we excitedly awaited baby’s arrival was an early 2021 success. The logistics of getting together for sew dates that last trimester was a bit challenging but we managed to pull it off and have great  memories and a keepsake to show for it  

Followed shortly after with baby quilts for three of her friends. 
She would find out the desired theme and palette and I would decide the details and designs, sending sneaks along the way so they felt collaborative too. 

In recent years I have gotten out of the habit of backing in flannel but was quickly reminded why it is such a cozy feature. 

Making wedding quilts for my nieces has always been a pleasure to gift and having just completed an Organized Chaos pattern  by Sujata Shah I jumped at the excuse to try the larger block size in a Tuscan palette inspired by the couples love of travel.  It was a marathon make that took a lot of hours and back to back long sewing sessions  I managed a backyard photoshoot before mailing it off 

The other wedding quilt made in 2021 was a long time coming and my son and DIL were so patient waiting almost 3 years.

Hand stitching their initials with a heart and including 28 half-rectangles to represent the day of the month they were married added a personal touch. Photos from their honeymoon were used for inspiration to capture an aloha vibe.  70”x74” a couples cuddle size with room for babe and pup.

I also completed  four minis: 

Made for an auction donation.  

A workshop project.

The MQG Together swap sent to my partner 
Stitching with high contrast thread became less intimidating the more times I did it. 

My MQG “tree” challenge entry. 

“Connections” deserves a separate blog post to properly credit the BeeSewcial contributors but until then  , details can be found on instagram. For this recap I’ll just let you take it all in

Attending Sewtopia has been on my bucket list and also warrants more than a quick mention. My sister and I had a great time. I am proud of my fabric challenge quilt but even more proud that she walked away with the winning ribbon for her entry! 

Last but not least, a One Block Wonder project that I talked my sister into doing years ago and she abandoned after cutting the parts. You can see the front in the mosaic picture and here’s the back that I like just as well  

Aside from the 2 workshop quilts, they are original designs. I did the quilting myself on my domestic or my friends long arm with the exception of my fabulous beesewcial by my sis.  I’m pretty sure I even labeled them all - a first. 

Hopefully I counted and credited correctly. The year has been a big messy blur, a huge struggle but fortunately also included precious moments and treasured events. 

Thanks for hanging in there to the end!