Saturday, December 29, 2012

Stacked Coins Tutorial Part 1

I am teaching a 6-week series for new quilters at Sew Portland starting January 25. I thought it would be fun to post a tutorial here for the stacked coins quilt we'll be working on in class. Work along with us if you like! Here are the fabric requirements:
 Select a charm pack or equivalent fabric (you will need at least 30 charms). Add 1 yd of neutral background fabric; 1⅓ yards backing fabric; ¼ yard binding fabric (or a fat quarter) and 1 crib size batt.
 Cut charms in half. I chose to leave a few uncut, like the girl on a swing--so look through your charms before you cut! If any of your charms have directional prints, be mindful when you cut them—note the dogs on the red charm.
 Make two stacks of cut charms (coins) and start chain piecing pairs. Try not to get too fussy about which coins to pair up. Leaving 8 to 10 coins unpaired will give you design flexibility. Press paired coins open, pressing seams to one side. Lay out 3 columns with 20 coins in each column. Don’t forget to include any uncut charms in your columns—count each of those as 2 coins. Use your single coins as needed to create three columns that make you happy. Stitch columns, press. They should each be roughly 42” long.
 Check back for part two. This is a super simple quilt and lots of fun to make with different fabric and quilting choices. Any questions? 

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Monday, December 10, 2012

Book Review Monday

The family that reads together...
photo by Rana O'Connor
Eric Woolf at Fons and Porter emailed today to ask if I would write a review of their Log Cabin Quilt e-book. Shortly, the book was in my inbox ready for download. My first impression was wow, beautiful pictures and great colors! The cover showcases three patterns. One is sure to grab your eye. Titled Build Your Best Log Cabin, the book features antique log cabin quilts from Sara Miller’s collection alongside modern quilt patterns for each of three log cabin block variations: Traditional, Courthouse Steps, and Chevron. There’s loads of technical information as well—cutting charts for each block style to take the guesswork out of designing your own quilt, side bars with tips and tricks, and instructions for special binding finishes. I would have liked a side bar on Sara Miller who collected the antique eye candy quilts pictured. Download the book just to see the antiques, even if you have no plans to make your own log cabin quilt—you might be inspired! Here’s the link: Build your Best Log Cabin

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Over the Top

 Or perhaps over the backing? This is where I sometimes wonder about my own sanity. It's a back, right? Like won't really be seen. But as it hung on the design wall waiting for layering day I kept thinking, "Don't really like the leaves on the outside." (See Kahalu'u post below for comparison.) So tonight, knowing I will be layering Tuesday, I sat down with a seam ripper for my least favorite activity: frog stitch (rip-it, rip-it) I only had to take out and re-stitch 4 seams to get the effect I wanted. Worth it? Probably only to me, but it does make me happy. Now it is ready for quilting! Promise!
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Friday, December 7, 2012

Press for Art Quilts!

Follow the link to a story in the Daily Bulldog about Art Quilt Maine's exhibit at Devaney, Doak & Garrett Booksellers in Farmington! Time to celebrate! The show will travel to Saco in January, Waterville in March, then wind up at the Center for Maine Craft at the West Gardiner turnpike service plaza in June. Catch it if you can! Daily Bulldog Feature

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Thursday, December 6, 2012

And the back.......

The back of Kahalu'u Beach just flew together. I had leftover half square triangles pieced in long rows, so a strippy back seemed the way to go. Plus I wanted to showcase the Hawaiian pareo print I stumbled upon locally. Isn't this guy wild! Next up: Find a location big enough to spread everything out and layer, then get quilting! I bought some new variegated threads that I can't wait to use.

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Sunday, December 2, 2012

Kahalu'u Beach

I wish I had posted photos of this quilt in progress, but it wasn't until I started working with this beyond beautiful Hoffman leaf fabric that I thought of sharing it! Sorry! I was so thrilled to realize those leaves, bought on impulse at a guild sale in New York weren't going to linger in my stash for long! The quilt began as a collection of fabrics bought in Hawaii--the turtle print inspired the palette. Not what I had imagined, but Hawaii was surprising that way, so I went with it. Think of the center as coral reef colors and honu (turtles) of Kahalu'u. The waves breaking against the lava shoreline form inner borders framed by the lush forest leaf border. I cut fabrics--all the ones bought in Hawaii and whatever else my stash provided--into 4-inch squares. A marathon of chain stitching gave me piles of half-square triangles to arrange and rearrange, creating the pieced center. A daughter claimed it for her bed, thus requiring borders. Isn't that leaf fabric perfect! Now to piece the back.
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Friday, October 19, 2012

At the Art Show

Vase, Scarlet Macaw Ara Macao,
and Being Alive is the Magic
Last night's Artist Reception at the Yarmouth Art Show was great fun. So well attended that the aisles were nearly impassable, it was great fun to run into people I knew and strike up conversations with other artists. I forgot my camera, but my friend Anne turned up with hers.  The fiber art--there were only two fiber artists there--really stood out from the paintings and photography. I wish I had brought a camera and taken pictures of the striking hand made paper bird collages by Dot Starkweather, but you can follow the link!

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Sunday, October 14, 2012

Yarmouth Art Festival

Looking for something to do this week? Stop by St Bart's church on the road to Cousins Island and check out the 2012 Yarmouth Art Festival. I was pleased to have three pieces accepted for display. October 17 to 19, 10:00 to 7:00 and Oct 20 9:00 to 4:00. Artists reception Thursday, Oct. 18 5:30 to 8:00. Info is at Take a break and enjoy some fine art!
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Thursday, September 27, 2012

Round Robin

Have you ever done a round robin exchange? I have not, so this year I was challenged to join our guild's Round Robin Border Exchange. I made a center block--see photos--and will hand it off to another quilter to add a border. That quilter passes it on to someone else until there are 3 borders added, then it will come back to me. Meanwhile, I will work on 3 other quilts, adding a border to each. Confusing? You should see the schematic for passing quilts! But I am assured it all works and it is fun and challenging. I am concerned that my block may be too detailed--I've seen appliqued center blocks before but not like mine, and that it might be too thick. In order to secure all the tiny scraps on this block, I thread painted the whole thing to the muslin backing. On a positive note, it has been fun so far--I had a great time making this block, and it gave me a chance to try out Susan Carlson's collage technique. Plus I really like how it came out, so it will be fun to see it in May when it has border 1, border 2, and border 3 added on! Can't wait to see the block I will be adding a first border to--I'll be getting it Monday!

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Friday, August 17, 2012

Portland Public Library Exhibit

Postcards from Away at
Portland Public Library
Art Quilts Maine's traveling exhibit, "Postcards from Away" is on view at the Portland Public Library's childrens' area, and will be on display until the end of September. The exhibit is composed of 17 small art quilts, each depicting a place the artist has visited or would like to visit, real or imaginary. The exhibit will tour Maine until June 2013, with stops in Skowhegan, Saco, Waterville and Rockland. Keep an eye out for an opportunity to see this exhibit, which features techniques ranging from thread paint to printed and embellished photos. Art Quilts Maine meets every other month in Augusta to support members in their exploration of contemporary quilt art, and includes quilters from all corners of the state. Which one is mine? The Venetian mask in the corner, below. I was interviewed for CTN5 about this exhibit. Here's the link.

Postcards from Away 2012-2013
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Saturday, August 4, 2012

Onward to Iowa

Mom and Auntie Jean Play Gin
in process Rana O'Connor 2010
Mom and Auntie Jean sure know how to get around! The quilt is currently in Grand Rapids, Michigan where it will be on display August 22 - 25. Shortly after sending the quilt off, I received notification that it was also accepted at the American Quilters's Society Show October 3-6 in Des Moines, Iowa! Back to back shows. Luckily they are both under the auspices of AQS so I was able to arrange for the quilt to travel from one show to the other without coming back to Maine in between. The quilt hangs on Mom's wall in between shows--I should bring something else to fill the space since Mom won't get it back until mid-October. Very happy to have the quilt out in the world, and at two national shows, no less.
Mom and Auntie Jean Play Gin
in process Rana O'Connor 2010
On a personal note, the agency where I have worked for over 20 years is closing at the end of the year. It's been so long since I have given any thought to job hunting or another line of work, I feel quite at sea about it. Of course friends say, "turn your quilting into a job!" but I have many reservations about whether it would be the right move for me. Those of you that have made the leap from hobbyist to professional--any thoughts, ideas, words of wisdom?

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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Mom and Auntie Jean go to Michigan

I've been out of town, on vacation in Hawaii. I know, pretty amazing! Tons of pictures--hopefully a quilt or two in there. Arrived home to one very good bit of mail--Mom and Auntie Jean has been accepted by the American Quilter's Society for exhibit in the Gran Rapids, Michigan show and contest! The Press Release they included reads in part, "Quilts were entered in this international contest from 40 US states and 6 other countries." 357 quilts were selected, so this is pretty terrific. The show runs August 22 through 25. Can't wait to share the good news with Mom!
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Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Not Til Friday!

I jumped the gun on the voting for applique quilts. Quilting Gallery posts photos for the week's contest every FRIDAY. Voting is open until midnight on Sunday. So give it a few days and check back. If you followed the link early, I hope you took the time to vote for your 6 favorites in the wall hanging contest. Kick off the weekend with a little quilt browsing and enjoy the show!
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Friday, April 27, 2012

Contest at Quilt Gallery

Just submitted a quilt to the Weekly Theme Contest at Quilting Gallery. It's a super fun way to post quilt photos, as long as you have something that fits the week's theme! Last time I entered I won two patterns from an English quilt store. How about that! So head on over and VOTE for your favorite quilt. Mine is Scarlet Macao, Ara Macao.

Scarlet Macaw, Ara Macao Rana O'Connor 2012
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Monday, April 23, 2012

Prizes Prizes Everywhere

I had quite a day at the Calico Quilter's Quilt Show on Saturday! I volunteered from 10:00 to 2:00 and had fun selling raffle tickets and at the admissions table. The spacious entry hall at Rowe School is beautifully designed. The show, hung in the gymnasium, was a great success. Over 100 quilts on display, from precise miniatures to breathtaking antiques. We had a raffle alley, where you could take a chance on a variety of bags and pillows, and a viewer's choice ballot, pick your favorite three quilts. I treated myself to a tool for setting crystals on fabric from one of the vendors--no more tweezers and glue for me! Later that evening my phone rang--my quilt, "Mom and Aunti Jean Play Gin" won viewer's choice! That was exciting, especially as Mom was sitting right there to hear the news with me--she jumped up out of her chair and if you knew Mom, you'd know that's something! To top it off, my phone rang again a bit later--I had won both a bag and a pillow at the raffle alley. Prizes everywhere! Really inspired me to take that next step on my art quilt challenge, "Postcards from Away." Wonder if I'll find room for some crystals on it? Here's Mom and Aunti Jean, again. They sure are having fun touring the quilt world.

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Thursday, March 29, 2012

In Living Color

I made two Color Poem quited wallhangings, now it's your turn! Linda and I will be teaching a class on using a favorite object or photograph to select the colors for a wallhanging. You will learn about color and value, and create an original work of art. Classes are at Sew Portland: Thursday evening April 26, Saturday April 28 and wrapping up Tuesday evening May 8. Contact the store at 797-6700  for details and to sign up!
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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Color Poem 2

I had offered to post a photo of Color Poem 2, the second wallhanging made with the same collection of fabrics, based on my grandmother's china dish. I'm posting two shots--the color is better in one, but the other really shows the quilting, so I thought I'd post it as well. This quilt uses half square triangles as the basic unit, instead of squares. While the half square triangles provide a wider variety of options for playing with values than squares, squares probably provide a better background for applique. Decisions decisions! Or why not make both--I did!
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Sunday, March 18, 2012

Your Opinion Please

I was looking at Color Poem 1 and thinking how to finish it, when I remembered Linda M's comment about using these as a background for applique. I cut out some simple tulip appliques and placed them on the top. What do you think? Better with or without? Sometimes it is easy to lose perspective when working on a piece. Later I will show you the completed (pieced, quilted and bound!) Color Poem 2.

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Thursday, March 8, 2012

Random Mention

I opened my e-newsletter from Maine Fiberarts today and got a nice surprise! A detail photo from my quilt, "Being Alive is the Magic" was featured in the header. I know the photos are random, but it was still great fun to see it! If you have not had the opportunity to check out Maine Fiberarts, you must take a minute to do so:

Should you find yourself in Topsham, be sure to stop by their building at 13 Main Street. They always have a fiber art exhibit on display, and you can pick up a copy of the Maine Fiberarts Tour Map while you are there.

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Monday, March 5, 2012

Mug Hugs

My friend Alessa requested a 'mug cozy' to keep her tea cup warm. While I was at it, I decided to make a mug mat (coaster) and a mug hugger as well (modeled here on a drinking glass). It was fun to pull together from pieces of this and that I had on hand, in fabrics I hoped she'd like. I thought the mug hugger was especially appropriate as they are off to Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge this week--in addition to the Leopard, a Zebra and two Giraffes peek out of the windows on this fun 'Kidani House' fabric. 

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Friday, March 2, 2012

Forever in Bloom

Three of my pieces will be on exhibit through March 25 at the Pearson Legacy Gallery in Deer Isle. Here's what the gallery owner has to say about the exhibit: This exhibition provides a dazzling display of what we all need right now - flowers. Forty artists from all over Maine (and beyond) are showing painted flowers, quilted flowers, flowers in metal, ceramic flowers, flowers in glass, flowers in photographs, and in many more media. The flowers may be easily recognizable or be an abstract interpretation. They may be local or exotic. But, the one common denominator is that none of these many blossoms will ever fade away - they will be "forever in bloom."
Gallery hours are Thursday through Sunday, 11:00 to 4:00. Let me know if you get there! (Photo is of 'Rags to Riches', a "scrapture" piece--made with layers of fabric scraps and cuttings)
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Thursday, February 16, 2012

Small Projects

While I have not embarked on a new project this year, I have completed a few small items. As a member of two guild chapters. I signed up for this year's challenge in both chapters. While one challenge is completed (I can show you in April,) the other is yet to be begun. Meanwhile, we took a class on fabric twiddling a la Jennie Rayment in Art Quilts Maine, and I turned my results into a pillow to donate for sale at the Calico Quilter's show. I've also just about finished Macaw, begun for a class sample.  
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Sunday, January 15, 2012

CTN 5!

The Art Quilts Maine Guild traveling exhibit, "Storybook Quilts" is on display at the Portland Public Library until February 24. Recently I was interviewed about the quilts by Community Television Network. You can view the short piece at this link: CTN5. Mine is the first interview, so it's just a few minutes in. From Portland the quilts will travel to Rockland and Skowhegan, so you may have other opportunities to view them, but if you have the chance, the Library's children's section is a wonderful venue.

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Saturday, January 7, 2012

New Class

 Linda and I are working on a new class series! It's called 'Picture This!', using applique to transform photos and images into fabric art. So much fun to see your photograph come to life in fabric! I started working on the sample this weekend--tracing the image, getting it enlarged, creating a pattern, then fusing fabrics to create the various elements. Tomorrow I hope to work on the background, then thread paint, layer, and quilt. Six sessions, which will hopefully allow time to complete the pieces, or at least get very very close! Here is my original photo, taken at the Animal Kingdom, and the two parrots, ready for a background.

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