Midnight at the Oasis Third Session

Hi Everyone:  Wow!  You guys have been doing awesome work.  There’s so much creativity and neat use of colors.  I hope you’re having as much fun and are as challenged as I am.  This quilt takes a lot of work!  Anyway, here goes for the third session.

Border 1: Orange Peel

I decided to use lighter fabrics for each background.  I chose 4 darker/medium fabrics in the same color family (whenever possible) for the orange peels.

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Cut (20) 4 ½” x 4 ½” squares

(80) F templates using various prints.  I found it easier to pin the four fabrics together and draw the template on the top one.  I could then cut all four at the same time.

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(I am using the same technique for applique for the whole project, so I won’t repeat those instructions again.)

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Once you add this border, add the tiny border strips.

Cut: (2) strips 1″ x 24 ½”

(2) strips 1″ x 25 ½”

 

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Next Session is on or about November 29 and will cover Border 2: Applique Vine

Homework: Finish Orange Peel borders

Midnight at the Oasis Second Quilt Along Session

Hi Everyone:

We’re back from our fabulous trip to Israel, and I’ve prepared the second session of our Midnight at the Oasis quilt along.  I hope you’ve all selected your fabrics, and are ready to get to work.  And this quilt is quite a bit of work, I must say.  Here we go!

Preparing templates for cutting:

The last page of the pattern are the templates that we’ll need to add 1/4″ seam allowance to before we use them to cut out the pieces.

 

I like to trace each shape onto template plastic with a Sharpie fine point permanent marker before I add the 1/4″ seam.  It is easier for me to add the seam allowance when I have it already on the plastic.

 

As I mentioned at the beginning of the sew along, I encouraged you to read the entire pattern ahead of time.  As I read about the center square, I decided not to cut the fabric of template E.  Instead of piecing E to the four pointed star, I would rather cut a 15 ½” x 15 ½” square, and applique the star on that.  This is my personal preference, if you want to piece, please do whatever technique you like best.  (Obviously, I will need a little more fabric if I’m going to cut a larger piece of the primary background than the pattern calls for.)

 

Once my templates are ready, I need to decide the fabrics that I’ll use in the Center Square.

-Primary Background – one 15 ½” x 15 ½” square

-64 of a variety of fabrics for template A                                        DSC_0572 v1

-Multi red for small borders – template B

-C & D, I’m not too concerned, as long as they look pleasing.

-8″ x 8″ square for circle appliques – secondary background

 

When I’m ready to applique the circles (and eventually the four point star), I don’t want to needle turn and I don’t want raw edge applique.  I have found a happy medium when I use a thin non-fuseable interfacing.  The finished piece has a little more depth than using raw edge applique with Steam-A-Seam.   Once you have your piece ready for applique, place it face down on the   interfacing,

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and stitch all the way around using a 1/4″ seam.

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On curved pieces, clip up to, but not past the seam, so when you turn it right side out, it will lay flat.     DSC_0575 v1                   Make a small slit in the interfacing, and turn right-side out.    DSC_0576 v1DSC_0577 v1                     Press so you can’t see the stabilizer.    DSC_0578 v1

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Begin assembly of center Section.

 

 

 

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Press lowest layer of A’s to left, next layer to right, then left again.  This will allow your triangles to nest together more easily.

 

When you are piecing triangles, one of the most difficult steps is ensuring the points meet precisely.  One way of doing this, is to insert a flat headed pin from the back of the second layer from the bottom at exactly the spot where the points of the triangles meet.       DSC_0583 v1DSC_0584 v1DSC_0585 v1 Insert the pin through the point of the triangle you are piecing it to.

DSC_0586 v1DSC_0587 v1DSC_0588 v1Pull the pieces together on the pin, and place a pin on either side of the seam to make sure it stays in place.   I also like to put a dot on the seam where I want to be sure my stitch intersects.   DSC_0590 v1DSC_0591 v1   I will use the same applique technique for the star points      DSC_0597 v1

 

After you have made the star points, you will be ready to applique the circles (B, C, & D) onto the 8″ x 8″ center square.    Find the center of your square by drawing diagonal lines from corner to corner.

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Trim square to 6″ x 6″ and attach a pieced triangle to each side.   DSC_0599 v1  This is the time where you piece E between the points, or applique the star onto a 15 ½” x 15 ½” square. DSC_0600 v1DSC_0601 v1

 

Once you have you star on the center square, add the tiny borders.

Cut 2 strips 1″ x 15 ½” and stitch to top and bottom

Cut 2 strips 1″ x 16 ½” and stitch to each side.DSC_0608 v1

Whew!  That was a bit of work, wasn’t it?

Next session is on or about  November 14 and will be about Border 1: Orange Peel

Homework: Finish Center Square

 

Midnight at the Oasis First Quilt Along Session

Hi everyone, and welcome to my first ever quilt along.  I’ve tried to include as much information and hints as possible.  I hope we all enjoy making this quilt together.

Overview and General Observations:

I encourage you to read all the instructions before you begin this project.  You may find you have a better or different way of accomplishing the same thing.

One of the things I really like about Jen Kingwell’s patterns, she is a firm believer in using as many of the fabrics that you love in each quilt.  She has said before, if you are using 6 fabrics, they really need to match.  If you use 200, they really don’t need to.  She uses two or three fabrics to hold everything together. In Midnight at the Oasis, she has used the black and gray polka dot, the gray and white check and the bright green inner border.  The other consistent thing about the quilt is the outside border.  Each block uses the polka dot and another fabric in concentric squares.

Whenever I begin a project, the first decision I need to make is what colors/fabrics to use.

If I see something in a magazine, book or pattern that I really like, I try to decide what I really like about it (or don’t like).  Is it the colors, patterns, design, layout?  Once I figure out what is drawing me to that project, the rest is pretty easy.

When I look at Midnight at the Oasis, I immediately like the overall layout and design.  I like the value changes from section to section.  The center square is dark, first border light, second border dark, next border light, then dark again.  The outside border has the darker polka dot, but I don’t think it reads too dark.  More of a medium.

What I don’t like is the black and gray polka dot that appears so prominently.  I don’t like that you can’t see the applique vine and flowers, so I will change that for sure.  In Jen’s pattern, she has used a complimentary gray and white check for the secondary background.  I do like the check, so I’ll plan to use a check that works well with my new primary background.

The small borders that separate each border are consistent and super fun.  Don’t know what I’ll use yet, but I definitely want something that stands by itself.

Fabrics I've decided to use (for  now)

Fabrics I’ve decided to use (for now)

Fabric and Color Selection:

I decided to use a light red dot on white background for my primary fabric, and a fun red/white check for the secondary fabric.  I tried several fabrics for the small borders and finally decided on this red/multi fabric.

The pattern calls for 2 – 1/4 yds of the primary background fabric.

3/4 yd. secondary background

1 yard for the tiny borders and binding.

The pattern calls for 2 to 2 – 5/8 yds of the feature fabrics.  My fabric calculations turn out to be closer to 5 yards.  If you are using fabrics from your stash, use whatever you have on hand.  You won’t be concerned so much about how much you will need.

– If you choose to use fat sixteenths, plan to get a wide variety.  Each yard has 16 fat sixteenths.  So you should select 80 or so fabrics for your project.

– If you are planning to use fat eighths, each yard has 8, so you will need 45 or so.

I want a wide variety, so I have chosen 80 fat sixteenths.  I have lots of dots, stripes and small floral patterns.

 * Most of us are used to patterns that give us the number of strips we’ll need to make the blocks in the quilt.  In this case, we will need to make (52) Churn Dash, (44) Courthouse Steps, and a Checker Board border.  Since Jen is a hand piecer, she has you cut out each piece individually.  For example, cut (276) 1 ½” x 1 ½ “ squares of background fabric, and (276) 1 ½” X 1 ½” squares of a large variety of prints for the checkerboard border.  I am a machine piecer, and machine quilter.  I will piece 1 ½” strips, alternating a [background, print, background] and subcut into 1 ½” sections to sections I have cut from a [print, background, print] strip set.

 Since we are not given the number of strips for each block, I recommend cutting the strips for piecing before you cut out your applique pieces.  This way, you will know exactly how much you can use of each for your applique pieces.  I guestimate the following number of strips to cut from each print, but as I say, we may need more when we get there.

Cutting the Strips

Cutting the Strips

From each fat 16th, cut the following strips:

(2) 1 – 7/8″ x 9″ strips – these will be used for the churn dash corners

(2) 1 ½” x 9″ strips – these will be used for the checkerboard border along with your secondary border, and the centers of your churn dash blocks.

(5) 1″ x 9″ strips – you need (2) 1″ x 9″ strips for the churn dash blocks, and (3) 1″ x 9″ for each courthouse steps block along with 1″ strips of the primary background.

You will also need about 20 or so 1″ x 6″ strips to be used as the vines in the 2nd border.

 

The next Sew Along post will be on  October 31 and will be about preparing templates for cutting.

Your homework will be to make your fabric selections.

 

Midnight at the Oasis Quilt Along

We’ve been wanting to do a Quilt Along for awhile, and we love Jen Kingwell designs, so this was a perfect match.  This will be the first quilt along we’ve done, so please be patient with us.

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This will be a fairly relaxed QAL (quilt along).  I will be posting about every two weeks about my experience and suggestions in constructing the center block, borders and finishing work.  Like every other project I tackle, there will be a lot of improvisation and throwing the printed instructions out the window.  You’ll find that I love to make beautiful quilts and I’m willing to try just about anything to make it work.  When I run into a technique I’m not sure about, I give it a try.  If it doesn’t work for me, I find an easier way to accomplish the task.  I’ll be sharing those tips with you.

How it works.  We’ll publish a series of posts detailing each step in the process.  You can quilt along with us, ask questions, and share your techniques and advice with others.  You can follow along at our speed or go at your own pace as posts will remain on this blog even after the quilt along has been completed.

Schedule of Posts

  • October 17th — Ann’s Overview and General Observations on the pattern, including Fabric and Color Selection.
  • October 31 — Constructing the center section including templates, piecing triangles,  applique of circles, and more.
  • November 14 –Border one.
  • Ann is still working on the pattern, so there will be additional posts for the other borders, etc.

Purchasing the Pattern

We have plenty of patterns available in our store.  You can shop online by clicking here

I’ve started a Flickr group so that we can all share our progress, and if you use Instagram, you can use the tag #midnightheartsong.

So, are you anxious to join us in making this amazing quilt? We would love to have you join us!

 

Quiltcon and the Modern Quilt Movement (and the Quilt Police)

Let me preface all of this by saying that the following is just my opinion, and not the opinion of HeartSong Quilts or its brilliant owner/designer/glitterati, Ann Powers.

Just got back from Quiltcon in Austin, TX, and boy, was that illuminating.  We’ve been trying to get a handle on this “modern” quilt movement.  Everyone seems to have a different take on it.  We were hoping that hearing about it from the “horse’s mouth” would clear up our confusion.  Well—kind of.

There are clearly several camps in the modern quilt movement.  We heard from a couple of them.  Those who “birthed” this movement clearly have a view of what the movement is and should be, and made it clear what that is.  For those who organized the event, modern quilting is mostly an aesthetic and design thing.  If you don’t conform to those expectations, you are not making modern quilts.  Hello, quilt police!  They deigned to allow that those who have a “modern” sensibility could be considered “modern traditionalists,” but they were not modern quilters.  In fact, the judging of the show followed some pretty strict guidelines.  Modern quilts meant . . . well, what they defined “modern” as.  Now, that’s OK, I suppose.  If you want to join a group or club, you have to agree to be bound by their rules.  But, this should disillusion those who thought that being a modern quilter meant that there were no rules.

As I suspected all along, there are rules, and they are pretty strict about design elements and color.  No borders, no traditional blocks (unless they are distorted almost beyond recognition), lots of “negative space” (I got really tired of hearing that term—it appears to be the rallying cry of the movement), bright and “graphic” colors, minimalism, improvisational piecing, alternate grid structures, asymmetry, exaggerated scale, pixilization.

They specifically stated that being a modern quilter meant more than following the “modern” philosophy (no rules, etc).  In fact, one speaker who is very influential in the organization said that modern quilting is “more than a philosophy.”  There is a “specific quantifiable aesthetic.”

But wait. If you are well known, part of the “in” crowd, you can be modern without these characteristics.  We heard several well known and published quilters who made quilts with borders and modified log cabins and other blocks  which were recognizable.  It appears that who you know is a factor in whether you are considered a modern quilter or not.

The modern quilters claim that they are influenced by modernist and post-modernist movements in art, architecture and interior design.  I wonder how many of them actually are aware of and believe in the philosophy expressed in modern or post-modern art. Or, do they just like the look?  I think they like the minimalist appearance of these schools and of their quilts.  Giving them the benefit of the doubt on this issue, though, they deny they are creating art quilts.  But, a great percentage of the 228 quilts hanging in the show (600 plus entered, but did not pass muster in the jurying) were small wall hanging quilts. Modern quilters say they are not art quilters, that they believe in function as well as form, but  many of these quilts would only cover my left leg if I was watching TV.

I think there is a fair amount of arrogance and elitisim at work here.The stratified world of hip has reared its ugly head.   Now we not only have to fear the quilters who have “always done it that way,” and who tell us “you’re not doing it right,” but also those who tell us we just don’t get it, we’re not hip enough, not educated enough, don’t hang out with the right crowd.  I’m not sure which is worse, but I do know that it’s not good for quilting.  It is, however, a snapshot of our culture these days.  We’ve become class conscious and tend to put people in categories.  Just when we thought that quilting stripped away the barriers.  Don’t we just want to have fun?  Don’t we just want to do what we love, how we want to do it?  That’s me, folks.  Modern quilter?  Yes and no.  Modern traditionalist?  Why do I have to be labeled.  Aren’t I just a quilter?

Here’s the good news. You don’t have to be labeled.  I probably am not young and hip enough or creative enough  to actually create a modern quilt.  If you are, good for you.  But aren’t we really trying to tear down barriers?  Deep breath now and repeat with me—“I’m a quilter and I can make whatever I feel like making however I feel like making it, and I’m proud of it.”

 

 

 

Modern. What’s in a Word?

Modern.  What’s in a word?

Well, as a culture we’ve become less than precise in our use of words.  Now, we have the Modern Quilt movement, and we find that there are many definitions and understandings of “Modern.”  Ann and HeartSong have been “modern” since we  opened if you consider modern quilting as not the same old same old.  That’s why our slogan is “not your grandma’s quilt shop.”  We’ve always tried to carry what other shops didn’t want to take the risk on.  Sometimes we’ve been on the “bleeding” edge rather than the “leading” edge, but we have been pleased overall with the response from you, our loyal and wonderful customers.

Ann is an interior designer by trade, and has always had an understanding of color theory and use which she’s been able to share with our customers.  She truly understands the range of colors and design being used in the modern quilts designed by folks like Modern Quilt Studio.  Brian really enjoys the simplicity and cleanness of the design work in those quilts.  His quilting is usually geometric—no fru fru for him.

All this is a longwinded (what else from Brian) introduction to our Modern section in the store (and online).  We’re carrying modern magazines from Modern Quilt Studio, have selected books on the topic, have chosen patterns we think exemplify these quilts, and have grouped solids, semi-solids and other appropriate fabrics (think Marcia Derse) for your easy selection and use.

Now, having said that, we also think that the modern quilting movement includes those quilters who are tired of the same old rules and the same old people enforcing them.  “The only rule is that there are no rules” says one prominent website.  Yes, they are modern quilters, too, and we cater to them.  To Ann, patterns are like the Pirate’s Code—more like guidelines.  If there’s an easier way to do it, she’ll figure it out, and teach anyone who’s willing to listen.  She even tried to make yo-yos on her machine (to say that she doesn’t like to hand make anything would be to grossly understate the point).  Even though she was unsuccessful, it was an attempt which is legend in our parts.  You should have seen the look on her face.

Finally, we think that modern quilters are people who just want to have fun (I was tempted to say “girls” instead of people, but copyright issues intruded.  And after all, I’m a quilter, too).  We yearn for the good old days when folks gathered together to talk, laugh, eat, cry, hug, and sew.  No huge projects, raffle quilts, challenges, etc.  Just gathering and quilting for fun.  We’re starting to do that, too, with quilting bee opportunities, a Modern Quilt Guild, and a neat Quilts of Valor program to honor the vets that populate our town (Hot Springs, South Dakota—the veterans town).  Watch for news from us about when those programs will start.

The “Quilt Rule Police” vs. the “Modern Quilter”

Thanks to all of you who responded to our informal survey pertaining to machine binding vs. hand binding.  Everyone agreed that if hand binding wasn’t in the rules, it should not have been used as a criterion to disqualify a quilt from consideration for the grand prize. Most of you had a story recounting a similar experience which was highly annoying.  Most of you also believed that it didn’t matter whether the binding was done by hand or by machine.

In reviewing your responses, it occurred to me that this type of issue is one of the reasons behind the “modern quilt” movement.

Smarter people than me have been studying this phenomenon of “modern quilting.” The Modern Quilt Guild website lays out the reasoning for its existence and many people have weighed in on its site with their own reasons for being “modern” quilters.  I even read a doctoral thesis posted online which explored the reasons for the modern quilting movement. (Click here to read the thesis)  Luckily, I’m not writing a thesis, so I can express my opinions and conclusions freely without the need for rigorous academic research standards (kind of like a “modern” researcher or blogger or  . . . wait, I am a blogger! Oh my, I didn’t realize I was getting into such deep matters of modern culture).

In my opinion, the vast majority of the people considering themselves modern quilters (or who would be considered “modern quilters” whether they call themselves that or not) because of their attitude rather than because of their design sensibilities.  “Modern” quilts might have a certain look, color scheme, simplicity, minimalism, or design criteria.  In fact, it appears that the term was adopted as a result of the book entitled “Modern Quilt Workshop” by Weeks Ringle and Bill Kerr.  Ironically, their books do contain quilts having very specific design elements and patterns.  Their “modern” quilts emphasize a certain design and color sensibility.  The modern quilting movement, while in some respect incorporating their sensibility, is much more based upon the “attitude” aspect of freedom from the “same old same old.”

Here’s how the Modern Quilt Guild website puts it:  “Modern quilters are a diverse group of woman and men, young and old, experienced and novice, yet each of us feels the need to differentiate ourselves as modern quilters by how we work, the fabrics we choose, and the aesthetic of our quilts. We create in a way that supports our individual creative needs and our lifestyle preferences.  Modern quilters resist the imposition of hard and fast rules for making a quilt.  We pick and choose traditional techniques and methods that work for us and at the same time feel free to redefine or reinvent what is possible and allowable in making quilts.”

To me, the “modern” quilts on the MQG website being used for Quiltcon promotions (themodernquiltguild.com) bear a striking resemblance to Gee’s Bend quilts.  Admittedly, I am no artist and have no training in this type of thing, but I know what I see and I can tell what it looks like, and it seems to me that this “minimalist” trend started by necessity with the gals making these “Gee’s Bend” quilts this way because it’s all they had to work with.  This design continues now with people trying to simplify things in an ever increasingly complex world that overloads us with information, ideas, media, designs, etc.  It exhausts us, and we are looking for a simpler, less exhausting alternative.

One of the stated casualties of modern quilting is the “rulebook” of quilt making.  Modern quilters revel in saying that the only rules are that there are no rules.   In fact, no matter whether it is traditional or modern, a quilt is fabric sewed together in pieces, then three layers (top, batting, back) are connected by stitching or tying on top (the so-called “quilting) and the edges are bound with other fabric that is sewn in such a way to keep it from fraying and to keep it all together.  You can put paper in the quilt, but that certainly reduces its utility, and maybe lets it be considered “art.”  You can use different types of “nontraditional” fabrics which makes it cool and unusual.  You can use just two large pieces of fabric, one on the front and one on the back, and it’s a quilt—so long as there’s some “quilting” done to hold it all together.

Now, one of the problems with quilting these days is that new and sometimes experienced quilters find that the old rules and the people guarding the rules tend to take the fun out of quilting.  Incidents like the machine binding snafu we described in our newsletter make people say that they don’t want stupid nonsensical rules (especially those known only to insiders) to interfere with their fun in quilting.  The wholesale discarding of rules, though, gives rise to anarchy.  Some anarchy might be a good thing, but in fact, we all need some rules and guidelines within which to operate.  It’s comforting.  It’s why we tell our kids they can’t cross the street when they’re 5 years old, or they must do their homework before they watch TV.  They need to learn safety and responsibility (eat your spinach before desert).

Not exact analogies to quilting, I admit, but there are certain rules we must learn in quilting, nonetheless.  Like, how to operate your sewing machine (because it breaks otherwise), a quarter inch seam is necessary because the top falls apart if you don’t have it (which I found out the hard way when my wife grew weary with my constant complaining as I was learning how to quilt and I questioned the need for an exact quarter inch seam and she said “then, go ahead and make it with whatever seam you want.  I don’t care.  See what happens.”  Yes, I’m a bit of an anarchist myself).  You get the point.

So, it’s not “the only rule is that there are no rules.”  It’s actually “we’re tired of stupid nonsensical rules that suck the fun out of quilting.  We just want to get together and have fun and make beautiful things and try new stuff and see how it comes out and if it doesn’t come out, we’ll unsew it and try something different, and don’t tell us ‘you’re not doing it right!’ because we don’t care that you don’t think we’re doing it right—we like what we’re doing and we’re having fun and it looks good to us.”  And this describes a good number of quilters we know both young and old(ish, if you count us).

Oh, and if we’re entering a competition, we’ll follow the rules, but make sure they’re set out clearly—like binding must be finished by hand.  Don’t assume that we know all these unwritten “that’s how it’s always been done” rules.

Are you a “modern quilter?”  Or, like me, do you hate being pigeonholed into some category because someone has “discovered” some new trend or attitude which you knew about all along?  Last year at the International Quilt Market, I attended a workshop run by a fabric manufacturer gal from New York who gushed about having “discovered” through her use of community eating establishments by single women in Manhattan that women are crying out for relationship these days, and that quilting guilds and quilt shops satisfy that need!  Well, really . . .   We out here in real American didn’t need someone to tell us about that “discovery” because we knew it all along.  Likewise, we don’t need to be told we’re “modern” quilters because we keep trying cool ideas.  We’ve always done what is fun in our craft/art and loved sharing it with other people who love it, too.

Having said all that, Ann and I plan to attend Quiltcon, the Modern Quilt Guild’s first convention in Austin, Texas in February.  Since we are clearly a shop that doesn’t deal in the “same old same old” and since Ann’s never met a pattern or been taught a technique that she doesn’t question or throw out the window, I guess it’s right up our alley.  We’ll keep you posted.  Meanwhile, keep doing things differently.  Maybe we’ll even set up a Modern Quilt Guild here in the Black Hills. What do you think?