Magic Triangles

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My whole family comes out for a photo session. My husband Srini and younger son Vedul patiently holding while my older son Anshul is behind the camera.

This is my first entry for the Blogger’s quilt festival hosted every year by Amy Ellis of http://www.amyscreativeside.com.

My dad turned 80 last year and what does a quilter give to someone who has been a huge part of her life? A quilt, of course. My dad is a true engineer who sees beauty in the laws of physics, and who sees engineering as a way of life. He has always challenged me to learn and understand the world around me. I grew up with questions like how does this toy work, or how can we fix this leaky hose, or let’s build a light for your bicycle. At work he designed test beds for aircraft engines, and at home he rebuilt and fixed an old antique car. My sister and I were his (often unwilling) assistants. We learned quickly to never mix up metric and British units, and to look at a nut/bolt and estimate what size wrench to use. It does come in handy – I can easily tell if my seam allowance is anything but a 1/4 inch 🙂

For his birthday, I felt compelled to try something new and to learn something new, which in turn changed the rest of my quilting journey. This is my very first quilt on my mid-arm machine (Block RockiT 15 from kathyquilts.com). The best thing about making a quilt for my dad is that I know he will love it no matter how good or bad it turns out. He loves it because I made it.

IMG_1036I started with a pattern I picked up at the quilt festival last year, called Mezzanine, by Ruth Ann Berry from quiltersclinic.com. I changed the sizes and layout to make it bigger. The “3D” triangles are called Penrose triangles, arguably the best known impossible figure. Impossible figures are optical illusions – 2D drawings that the brain interprets as 3D but on further study, you realize such a 3D object is physically impossible. The mathematician Roger Penrose as well as the artist M. C. Escher made these intriguing concept  popular.

I gathered a number of light, medium, dark fabric from my stash and auditioned them against a grey background. The best method to audition values is to take a picture and view it in black & white. I quilted some airplanes and clouds on the top and some interlocking gears near the bottom. I also quilted every motif I knew. The ruler work was not perfect – chipped off a corner of the rulers and broke a couple of needles (very scary!), the spirals are a bit flat but over all it is not bad for a first FMQ quilt. My dad and mom say they discover new hidden figures everyday.

Airplanes
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Fabric: Various light, medium, dark from my stash.
Background: Kona coal (and probably something else – I noticed the slightly different shades of grey only when taking the pictures)

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Linking Blogger’s quilt festival and all the usual linky parties.
Main Crush Monday
Linky Tuesday @ Freemotion by the river
Midweek Makers
Let’s Bee Social
Needle and Thread Thursday

Can I get a whoop whoop
TGIFF hosted this week by What a Hoot
Finished or not Friday
Friday Fotofun @ PoweredByQuilting

Upcycle – Throwback Thursday & September goals

IMG_2910I’m so happy to write a blog for Throwback Thursday.  Sandra Walker from mmm! quilts hosts one on the first Thursday of every month. I have so many quilts from my pre-blogging days, I should have enough material for years!

I found a pile of shirts that my husband, Srini, didn’t use any more. The collars and cuffs had worn out, so we could not donate it. The rest of the shirt looked perfectly fine. Most of them are dress shirts made of fine Egyptian cotton and I couldn’t bear to throw them away. Following this Bonnie Hunter’s Deboning a shirt video, I ripped out a whole lot of usable fabric from each shirt. As you can see, I had a huge pile of blue pinstripes, about 15 shades of white, a few grays and not much else. I had just bought a 60 degree ruler – so I cut up a few of them into large equilateral triangles. After playing with different layouts I came up with this simple design. I also used a red bandanna fabric from my stash to add interest. No, Srini does not own a red shirt of any kind.

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IMG_2966IMG_2967This is a special quilt for me, being made of Srini’s shirts but also special is the free-motion quilting. This is the very first quilt where I’ve tried FMQ beyond stippling. It took me 13 years of making quilts to work up the courage to try free motion quilting. My first advice to anyone out there too intimidated to start free motion is – just do it! After watching videos by Leah Day, Angela Walters and a few others, and doodling on every writing surface I could find, and quilting a few small practice sandwiches, I was ready to jump into the real thing. There were a few hiccups – thread breaking or bunching up, needle breaks, etc., but not much.

Here’s how I spray basted the quilt using a 1″x 4″ board. Layout the batting on a table. Roll the backing over the board. Unroll the backing a few inches at a time and spray baste. Turn the sandwich over and repeat with the quilt top. It worked very well but not really my favorite part of quilting. I’m happy to have my long-arm and frame.

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I quilted a different design on each “shirt”. The light blues (there were 3 shirts in slightly different shades of blue) have paisley feathers. The dark blue has point-to-point (using a walking foot) and some pebbles. The dark grey has point to point and wishbones. The light grey has some wavy lines. This whites – there were 4 identical shirts – have the craziest designs – some paisleys, some spheres joined together by wavy lines. Along the inside edge, I used a glow-in-the-dark thread that shows up slightly yellow in the picture – most of the spheres are glow-in-the-dark. It’s so much fun to see the designs in the middle of the night. I got this thread years ago and used in in some baby quilts. It is a lot nicer to use with FMQ that with walking foot quilting.

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This was quilted on a Brother PQ1500sl, a domestic sewing machine. It’s a huge quilt (about 64″ x 92″) but I quilted it in two halves and then attached the halves.

The batting is warm & natural 100% cotton. It makes a nice spring/fall quilt for Houston.

I’m piggybacking the One Monthly Goal onto this post. My OMG for September is to quilt and finish this cute pixel star baby quilt I made a couple of months ago.IMG_1025

Linking:
Throwback Thursday at mmm! quilts
OMG at Elmstreet quilts
Can I get a whoop whoop
TGIFF
Finish it up @ Crazy Mom Quilts
Finished or not Friday
Friday Fotofun @ PoweredByQuilting
Main Crush Monday
Midweek Makers
Let’s Bee Social
Free motion by the river
Needle and Thread Thursday

Serendipity – a quilt for Sid

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August has been a very busy month at work and otherwise with not much time for quilting or blogging. I managed to finish quilting and binding this to meet my One Monthly Goal for August.

I made this quilt for Sid, who graduated from high school this summer and started a vocational training program. Sid’s mom, Rekha, has been one of my best friends since we were both 10 years old. Sid’s  favorite color is black. I collected a bunch of black, white and grey fabric from my stash and a few yards of Kona black and set out to find a quick and easy pattern.

I picked a pattern from Thomas Knauer’s book called Modern Quilt Perspectives. I bought this book after seeing a wonderful, moving and thought-provoking exhibition of his work at the 2017 International Quilt festival in Houston. He calls this pattern Split Personality, referring to the different styles  on the two halves of the quilt – the traditional patchwork on one side and the modern minimalist negative space on the other. The point of this design is to show that opposing ideas can thrive side-by-side in harmony.

I had to modify the pattern a little to fit the size I wanted to make. The pattern was easy but certainly not quick – it took tremendous effort to keep track of the pieces and the blocks.

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I quilted free motion swirls and some feathers and whatever I felt like in the black, negative space. I kept the quilting quite sparse to keep the quilt soft and cozy. On the patchwork area, I quilted in the ditch around every block and loose wavy lines in the white background area.

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The back of the quilt is as special as the front. I used a solid grey (Kona coal) and leftover scraps from the front. One of Sid’s favorite people is my husband, Srini. The off-white background here is from one of Srini’s shirts. One long sleeve shirt minus the frayed collar and cuffs yields an unbelievable amount of fabric.

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Pattern: Split Personality by Thomas Knauer
Fabric: Assorted black &white and grey, Kona White, Kona Black
Batting: Hobb’s heirloom 80/20
Thread for quilting: Isacord charcoal, Isacord white.

Linking to all my favorite linky parties.

OMG at Elmstreet quilts
Can I get a whoop whoop
TGIFF
Finished or not Friday
Main Crush Monday
Midweek Makers
Let’s Bee Social
Free motion by the river
Needle and Thread Thursday

Citrus Plus

IMG_0943_editedWhen Sandra of mmmquilts announced a quilt-along for her Plus+ Playtime quilt, I knew I had to quilt along. It is such a fun, clever pattern of a string of pluses on one shadow plus, and looked simple enough to squeeze in between my other work-in-progress projects. Besides, Sandra is a lovely person – the best of quilt blog-land, and she has been such a great cheerleader throughout this QAL. And, she is dangling some carrots for a finish this week!img_0618.jpg

This is a small enough quilt that I could find several possibilities in my stash. I settled on a very simple combo – Kona oasis and Kona coal for the background – I had got a yard each two last year without any specific plan. They have this deep, saturated color and very attractive. I had a chunk of Blueberry Park fabric leftover after my Stalactites quilt (renamed, finished blog post to follow soon) and the Spiral Nova. The bright reds, oranges and yellows pops out over the calm and sedate oasis and coal backgrounds. I name this Citrus Plus – checkout the picture above with our orange tree in the background.

IMG_0934This quilt went so fast. I cut and pieced most of it in two or three sessions. Sandra had some neat ideas for quilting. My initial plan was to just do a simple meander in the background and some straight quilting in the pluses. I used a high loft polyester batting I had from long ago. I loaded it on my frame and the quilt seemed to have a mind of its own. By this point, I’d decided that the quilt will go on the blank wall above the fire place in our bedroom (Yes, we have a fire place in the bedroom in Texas and no, we’ve never used it :-).

Since this was going to be a wall quilt and not meant to cuddle under, I decided to do some heavy quilting – at least heavy by my standards.

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I quilted with a ruler outlining each of the pluses and about one inch inside. The background is conveniently separated by the chains of pluses. For the top area, I just went with some tight swirls and pebbles.

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For the second area I tried a chain of swirls from left to right and filled the rest of the area with more swirls and echoes. I love how this turned out.

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For the third area I tried a large feather but that didn’t go very well and ended up looking like the slush leftover from hurricane Harvey :-). Lesson learned: stick with a plan, don’t just wing it while the machine is running.

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I had run out of steam by the time I reached the bottom. I just went with a few wavy lines. Wavy lines,  I’ve found, are the best texture you can get for very little effort and skill. Given that the background and shadow plus are about the same value with not much contrast, I thought it needed a bright binding to define the boundaries. IMG_0946 (1)

Citrus Plus
54″X 54″
Fabric: Kona cotton Coal, Kona cotton Oasis, Blueberry Park by Karen Lewis (warm colors)
Batting: high loft polyester
Thread: Aurifil 2021 for piecing, Isacord Smoke and Isacord White for quilting

Linking up to Sandra’s linky party for Plus+Playtime Finishes.

Needle and Thread Thursday


Finished or Not Friday at Busy Hands Quilts