Thursday, 31 December 2020

2020 - a round up

Traditionally my round-up posts are a compilation of all my projects, big and small. Since I only wrote like 9 blog posts this year here is a summary, which is a bit more expansive than usual. 

2020... where to begin? Well, maybe when the world was still in order and we could travel and hug people. 

This year started with a visit at QuiltCon in Austin, Texas. 

I had two quilts in the show, one of it was Define Gravity and it was in the small quilts category. 

The second quilt was Fade to Grey which hung in the Modern Traditionalism category. I participated in the Pantone Quilt Challenge 2019 with this quilt. 

QuiltCon again was a fantastic event, it was my third time attending and I met old and new friends and had a great time. 

I took part in the mini quilt swap and swapped quilts with Audrey from Cotton & Bourbon


This is Audrey and me exchanging quilts, you can read more about Sugar Rush, the quilt I made, here

I've actually made two mini quilts for the swap and didn't really like the first one, but it grew on me and now I'm happy that I made it. It's an adventure into monochromatic log cabin blocks that will be further explored! 

This is B.O.W. and I wrote about it here

Well, and then, two weeks after QuiltCon, the Corona Virus hit and turned our world upside down. Including mine. 

I did finish my Triangle Sew Along mini quilt, which was organised by Nicholas Ball of Quilts From The Attic. I really like his book 'Inspiring Improv' and that is one technique from it. 


This is Pineapple Parfait and it was an experiment into the use of colour as well as exploring a new technique. 

I wasn't in the mood for sewing or blog post writing at all. I did finish one large quilt though, that was three years in the making. However, all I needed to do was sew the binding on. That seemed doable. Because for the first time I sent a quilt to a longarm-quilting-service, to Rachel Hauser to be exact. 

This is Playground and it was a colour and value experiment.

I made two zipper pouches from scraps, one is an oversized open wide zipper pouch I made for a dear colleague that left my office. 

Playing with scraps was something that kept me going. I made another boxy pouch following the pattern by Katie Pedersen

This one was made from left overs from the Pantone Quilt Challenge 2019 Fade to Grey, which you've seen at the beginning of this post. 

Another zipper pouch was made using the Quilt-As-You-Go method. 

During summer I took out all my other left overs and started piecing tiny fabric pieces together. It felt good to make something small into something big, to make something whole. 


This one here is actually made from left overs from my Emerald City Quilt. My intention was to make a pillow to match the quilt, the size of this panel is about 25" square. I quilted it in an X-from, and then mirrored the quilting  1/4 " apart - it got so distorted that it needed intense blocking and even after that it looks terrible.  I love the colours and all but this panel is kind of a representation of 2020.
I have more of those scraps and will make another panel that will then turn into a two-sided pillow. I'm sure the pillow will look good once it's finished but this piece left me a bit frustrated. 

I finished a bee quilt which I love very much. This is Trip Todd, a quilt for Triplets. 


And I made more of Biene's adventure blocks. 


We did not go on holidays at all this year (social distancing and all), but we went on some really great walks with Biene. Her face is getting so white! She will turn 10 in February, she's still very fit and goes running with me twice a week. 
There's only five blocks missing and then her all the quilt blocks will be complete. I'm planning on having the quilt finished in the new year!

And then there was Metamorphosis, the only quilt I submitted to QuiltCon together. 


This quilt started with large scale blocks, which I didn't like. So I cut them up and pieced them together, a very exciting new design emerged! Metamorphosis was the only QuiltCon submission this year, and was not accepted into QuiltCon together. My good DSLR lens broke during the year (can 2020 be any worse?) so I wasn't happy with the photos. Maybe that was the reason for the rejection or the many, many really good quilts that are entered into the Improv Category. Anyhow, I hope to get the lens fixed and try again next year! 

I have one last project to show you: Athos & Oscar. 


This two-sided quilt is very dear to my heart and was definitely a special project of 2020. 

Looking back on all my projects during 2020 actually doesn't make me feel too bad, I thought sewing wise this year was a whole disaster... turned out it wasn't. And the good thing is I have some very exciting projects for 2021 lined up. 

Thank you all for your support, I appreciate every single one of you! 

Linking this up to Cheryl's Best of 2020 Linky Party, hop over to Meadow Mist Designs and look at all the great quilts people made! 

B.O.W. - a mini quilt failure that actually was none

I seem to make a lot of blue and orange quilts lately... well, it is a beautiful colour combination! 

The is one is called B.O.W. - Blue. Orange. White. 

This quilt was actually the very first attempt for my mini quilt swap at QuiltCon 2020 organised by The Modern Quilt Guild. My swap partner was Audrey Esarey... and the pressure was on. 

I first didn't really like where this project was going but as the quilt was finished it grew on me and now I do really like it. I made Audrey another one though - see blog post here


Audrey's quilt is on the right. I used the same colours, and they do look good together! 

I first started to make monochromatic log cabin blocks and then arranged them. 

The orange blocks were always to be the focal point so they did get a special place in the overall design. 


I match stick quilted in a light blue 40wt Aurifil thread. Loved how that turned out. 


I made a faced binding, my go to choice lately. 


I used a bit of linen fabrics, they add such a beautiful texture. 


Here is B.O.W. with the original design source and the quilt that Audrey liked and wanted a mini quilt with the same colours.  

So, I first thought this was a failure - never judge the quilt before it's finished! 

Monday, 28 December 2020

Athos & Oscar - a two-sided quilt

Exactly one year ago today was the start of a very special quilt project. I initiated that my office would sew my boss and his wife, who both retired earlier this year from their architects practice, a quilt as a farewell gift. 

16 colleagues with and without sewing experience (only one with quilting experience) offered to help sew the blocks for the quilt or help ironing and cutting the fabrics. 

Given these facts I needed to come up with a block design that was easy to sew, even for inexperienced sewists and that also had a high design impact. 

I'm always on the look-out for graphic designs and found that ceramic tiles are a great source of inspiration for my quilts. And when these tiles decorate a building by famous architect Oscar Niemeyer (1907-2012), the perfect design for this particular quilt has been found.

The quilt blocks are inspired by ceramic tiles designed by Brazilian artist Athos Bulcão (1918 - 2008).

I did some extensive research into his work. Please visit some of the sources I found, I think he should be more know than he is. 

Foundation Athos Bulcão 

Pattern Observer, History of Surface Design: Athos Bulcão, an article by Julie Gibbons

The Brazilian Report, Meet Athos Bulcão, the artist of Brasilia

Athos Bulcão: Tiles from Brasilia 

I honestly could make at least a dozen quilts based on these tiles, they are so beautiful! 

And here is the design I went for: 

Tile Panel from Ministry of Foreign Affairs - Annex I - 8th floor, Brasilia, Athos Bulcão 1968

I made all the half circle blocks, since these are a bit more complicated to sew. All other five block designs were made by my colleagues. In total there were 80 blocks made, each block measuring 8.5"sq. The final size of the finished quilt was about 1,60 x 2,40m / 63 x 95". 

I had no idea how quickly these blocks would come together, but the first group of 6 colleagues finished all 80 blocks in one day. The second group was due just two days later, so after the first sewing session I rushed into my local quilt shop and bought more fabrics for another 80 blocks. Because I couldn't tell all the super enthusiastic helpers from the second group that they don't have to come because the first group finished all blocks already. 

That's when the quilt got a second front side.

I had a third and fourth sewing meeting with just three colleagues each putting the quilt top together. I finished off the quilt from then onward. 

Putting the quilt tops together was quite challenging. Because the quilt blocks were made with seven different sewing machines made by 10 different people. That meant every block had a slightly different size and every seam allowance was different. 


While assembling the blocks the main focus was that the white lines would match, which was not always the case. But I really like the little imperfections and that all these different makers are shown in the quilt. And that the quilt is not perfect but rather a labour of love. 


A two sided quilt has it's challenges on a whole different level. First of all both quilt tops need to be the same size. Due to the many makers of these blocks that was not the case. So I added a border around both tops that I could trim after quilting. You have to allow for shifting of the three layers during quilting and for leverage when squaring the quilt off. 
After squaring the quilt off the remaining border is more evident on the turquoise side as it stands out more, it's almost not visible on the blue side. 


Then you need to have a quilting thread colour that suits both sides of the quilt. My first intention was to go with dark blue, but that would not have looked good on the turquoise side. So I opted for a white thread colour, that suited both sides and in the end was the better choice even for the dark blue side. 


You also need to consider the quilting design. I first wanted to do something very geometric, suitable for the block design. But all blocks had a different size. You maybe can deal with that but you can never match the blocks on the reverse side, which were also all different in size. 


I opted for an improv wavy line quilt design and it went really well with the overall design. 

The last thing to be considered when doing a two-sided quilt is the colour if the binding. In my case that was quickly decided: white. It gives both sides such a nice frame. The only thing for me to decide was: which side is the back side of the binding, meaning which side would I hand stich? For me that was the second side, the turquoise one, since the blue side was always to be the original design idea. 

The quilt was finished in April, but due to the COVID-contact-restrictions it was only gifted in early October along with a book that five colleagues of mine designed based on the quilt block design. The book contained photos of all 70 people in my office and photos of the 'making of'. 

Here are both sides together. These blocks are actually very versatile and quilt designs seem endless. 

My boss and his wife were over the moon with this thoughtful gift and all the effort and organisation that went into making the quilt and the book. My intention was to give them a lasting reminder and a warm hug from everyone in the office. 

I named the quilt 'Athos & Oscar' given the two-sided nature of the quilt and honoring two great artists of the 20th century.