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I’ve made lots of bags decorated with machine quilting (actually, I only make bags to show off the fabric embellished with my free machine quilting!).  I started making machine quilted bags many years ago when I started teaching – they were a fun and practical way to show off my passion.

Here are some of my first bags.blue bag 5589

I love thGreen 6877e rounded shape and the shoulder strap ties.

 

 

 

 

I taught a workshop to make this bag, but the workshop was two days long – with *homework required* in between the two days.

I decided I needed a simpler bag.

Red-bag-6511

 

Later,  I needed a special occasion bag for myself, and made this bag out of silk sateen.

 

I designed the bag to be easy to quilt, and to show off the machine quilting, but it lacked a bit in the area of sturdy construction details.

 

 

 

 

I discovered Lisa Lam’s website and blog, and learned the finer points of bag construction from her books and patterns.

I made a bag based on one of her patterns to carry an iPad, and then I had lots of fun (and spent lots of time…..) making a ‘fancy’ bag that I love to carry.

bluebag-front-4302 bluebag-back-4303

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then I put all that I had learned together….   Stay tuned for the rest of the Machine Quilted Bag story!

 

Yes, I have been away from blogging for a while — no better time to restart than with happy news to share!

My silver quilt ‘Reflections of Tao’ is at MQX East in Manchester, New Hampshire.  The show is open from Thursday 4/10 to Saturday 4/12, and there are hundreds of amazing quilts on display and lots of fantastic vendors — be sure to visit if you can.

I attended the awards ceremony and was excited to find out that Reflections of Tao won first place in the category of small wholecloth quilts.

I was stunned and thrilled when Reflections of Tao also won Best Machine Quilting of the ‘Sit Down’ quilted quilts.   This little quilt is 24″ square  – I think the signage and ribbons are almost as big as the quilt!

Reflections of Tao at MQX East

You have to see this quilt in person to appreciate the subtleties and shading created by the many different colors of silk thread I used.   I also used trapunto to create more dimension in the major motifs.

The wholecloth quilts are hanging in the Armory at the Radisson – you’ll see the Expo Center when you first arrive, but the Armory is the smaller, cozy exhibit and vendor hall on the other side of the hotel area.  I hope to see you there!

The Awards ceremony was last night and my quilt Five Bar Blues won 2nd place in the Merit Machine Quilting category at the Houston International Quilt Festival!! I am honored and thrilled!

The show opens tonight and I am looking forward to seeing all the quilts and quilters visiting Houston. Please stop by to say hi if you are in Houston – I will be here through the end of the day Friday.

If you aren’t in Houston (or even if you are) pick up a copy of the newest issue of the International Quiltfestival Quit Scene Magazine.

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There is a great photo on page 25 of Five Bar Blues!

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I will post again as soon as I can. When I leave Houston I am traveling straight to Manchester, NH to A Quilters Gathering for Saturday and Sunday. I have two new quilts on display in the judged show at the Gathering. One is brand new, just finished Saturday night!

When I decided to sandwich a small a piece of solid silver silk blend sateen (Radiance by Robert Kaufman), I had no idea what I would discover.  This silver fabric has been in my stash for years because the color didn’t really ‘speak’ to me off the bolt.  Here is the “raw material” (next to ivory and gold for contrast)

Silver silk sateen fabric

When I started quilting and experimenting with different colors of thread, I was amazed!  I have taken too many photos and spent too much time experimenting with Photoshop to get the best [at least, the best that I can] color balanced photos to show you the amazing effect of different colored silk threads on this fabric.  The photo to the left is the feather plume that started it all.  The feather looks lavender (instead of silver)  because I used lavender thread to quilt and outline the feather.  Then I switched to shades of aqua / light green thread for the outline stitching, and the fabric takes on the greenish hue of the threads.

I used the silver silk fabric for the ‘Reflections of Tao’ wholecloth wall hanging to experiment more with different colors of silk thread quilted into this fabric. The center of the ‘Reflections of Tao’ wall hanging features the chinese character ‘tao’ (meaning ‘the way’, or ‘the path’) which is trapunto’d to make it stand out even more.

Center detail of Reflections of Tao

This detail photograph of the upper right feather and corner border shows the variety of colors of silk thread used in the machine quilting:Corner border detail of Reflections of Tao

This quilt is now on display at the New England Quilt Museum as a part of the Silver Threads Challenge exhibit.  The best way to see this quilt is in person, so be sure visit the Quilt Museum and look for ‘Reflections of Tao’ if you are in the Lowell, Massachusetts area in the next month.  The Silver Threads Challenge quilts will be on display until late November.

My guest tutorial for SewCalGal’s 2012 FMQ Challenge is online today!!  The tutorial is on one of my favorite techniques, machine trapunto.

I hope you will enjoy and learn from the tutorial as much as I have – I enjoyed writing it, and learned from the process as well!  I’m happy to answer any questions you have, either on SewCalGal’s FMQ Challenge blog, the 2012 FMQ Challenge Facebook group, or here.

I’m always trying to photograph trapunto from the side so you can see the depth and dimension this technique creates on quilts.  I’m not sure I caught the depth, but can you see the different colors of silk thread in the echo quilting?

I’m not sure you can tell, but one echo quilting line uses YLI’s ‘Silk Sparkle’ thread (next time I’ll use a lighter color for more contrast).  The Silk Sparkle is #100 silk thread twisted with metallic;  it is a very lightweight thread that blends beautifully with the rest of the silk quilting and adds a subtle sparkle to the top.

I was thrilled when SewCalGal asked me to be one of her FMQ Experts and offer a Bonus Tutorial for the FMQ Challenge this year!  I’m even more excited that it’s just about done and will be available next week.  Be sure to check out the 2012 FMQ Challenge page next week.

I have read and quilted most of the FMQ tutorials this year …  (although I haven’t managed to  post photos every month.   One of the things I really like is the variety of FMQ Experts and tutorials.  (I will admit) I have been reluctant to try out some of the tutorials that have not been in my ‘comfort zone’ of machine quilting.  But I have been really pleased every time I do!   So, here’s my take on the May FMQ tutorial by Leah Day.

Leah’s patterns are relatively large-scale background fill patterns and are different from my free motion ‘style’ which is smaller.    I tried the ‘railroad tracks’ version first while experimenting with different threads.  The quilt sandwich has light pink Kona cotton on top, with cotton batting and muslin on the back.  I used a bright pink silk thread for the first large ‘meander’ stitching, and then a variegated pink silk for the railroad tracks.  Here’s the first sample

and I used a light blue silk thread in the bobbin ( it was there already…)

Before stitching the second sample I wanted to come up a different way to use stipple quilting in Leah’s tutorial (I admit it: I don’t like traditional stipple quilting).  I finally remembered experimenting with these wiggly lines that look like  ‘linear’  stippling. I used a trilobal polyester thread on the quilt top with the same cotton thread  in the bobbin. This created a subtle texture on the front that I really like!

It has been too long since I have written!

I finished my silver silk wall hanging for the Lowell Quilt Festival in August.  I promised a photo of the finished quilt, so here it is…

I used many different colors of silk thread to make the silver silk sateen top look iridescent, especially in the densely quilted area outside the feather border.  I used trapunto in the center chinese character, ‘tao’ (meaning the path, or the way) and in the feather border.  I’ll post some more photos soon!

I love SewCalGal’s July FMQ challenge and the Tiles design Angela Walters shared with us.

The Tiles motif includes one of my favorite free motion techniques, stitching straight lines with a free motion quilting foot. And even better, you get to quilt up, down, left, and right!  Because the Tile lines are not too long,  they are a great opportunity to practice straight line free motion quilting.   I can imagine many more ways to use this structured yet flexible technique, to quilt both large and small spaces.

Test free motion quilting for SewCalGal's July FMQ Challenge by Diane LoomisI quilted a small sample to test the pattern first.  The top fabric is pink Kona cotton solid, layered with cotton batting, and muslin backing. The cotton batting is different from the wool batting I usually use, and results in a lower loft / flatter look and feel to the quilting.  I used slightly contrasting thread [still #100 silk) and this combination worked nicely for the Tile practice sandwiches.

I was excited to get started on a larger quilted sample.  I changed thread colors from the lavender to dark pink, and started quilting away.  At first I used the same design in each ‘Tile’ rectangle because I wasn’t happy with the way the different motifs in each tile looked in my test sample.  After filling a few tiles with feathers, I decided to try one – or two – more different fill patterns – but I repeated the fill in more than one tile (mostly…).

July 2012 FMQ Challenge - Tile motif - machine quilted by Diane Loomis

I finally finished binding my feather plume sample from the February FMQ Challenge tutorial by Diane Gaudynski.  (I highly recommend you read through Diane’s tutorial at least once – it is packed with excellent instruction and advice on free motion quilting.) I call the sampler ‘Rogue Feathers’ –  my friend Jenny named the little feathers at the bottom ‘rogue feathers’, surrounding the circle.  I quilted the feathers there because I couldn’t bear echo quilting any more!  I am pleased with my little silver sampler.Rogue Feathers a free motion quilted sampler on silver silk by Diane Loomis

Free motion quilting detail of Rogue Feathers by Diane LoomisOne of the reasons I love this fabric is the way it subtly changes to the shade of the silk thread used for free motion quilting.  I’m having trouble showing this in photographs,  so here’s another view that shows the color changes in a different light.

(I haven’t stopped participating in SewCalGal‘s 2012 FMQ Challenge -just running late with my posts.  Look for a new blog entry before the end of the month with my July challenge entry! In case you haven’t followed SewCalGal’s blog recently, she generously featured my quilt Five Bar Blues earlier this month in a post about the Road to California quilt show.  )

2012 is the 25th anniversary of the New England Quilt Museum and in honor of this silver anniversary the Museum has issued a ‘Silver Threads Quilt Challenge’.  The challenge is to create a quilt inspired by the word ‘silver’, and I had a project in mind using this beautiful silver fabric before I discovered the challenge.

Here is a sneak peek at the wall hanging … not surprisingly, it has feathers…

sneak peek at silver feathers on the Silver Anniversay Quilt Challenge for the NEQM by Diane Loomis

I just finished machine quilting my silver-inspired quilt, so it is ready to be blocked, bound, and finished.   The bright blue is from the water soluble blue marker that I use to mark my quilts (the blue markings are already gone since the quilt’s first immersion today in clean, cool water.)  The quilts will be on display at a special exhibit at the 2012 Lowell Quilt Festival from August 9-11.

From another perspective you can see my signature as well as my favorite circle-spirals.

silver circles on the Silver Anniversay Quilt Challenge for the NEQM by Diane Loomis

Want to see the finished quilt?  Mark your calendar to visit the Lowell Quilt Festival, Thursday August 9 – Saturday August 11.  Visit the Lowell Quilt Festival website for more information about activities, lectures, and exhibits.

IQA notified the finalists selected for the 2012 “Quilts: A World of Beauty” judged show in Houston yesterday and Five Bar Blues is going to the Houston International Quilt Festival this year!  Although it’s always tough to pack and ship any quilt (it feels like I am giving my quilt away to the shipping company) — I’m always very excited to have the opportunity to show my quilts, especially outside of the New England area.

Square in Square I award winning miniature quilt by Diane Loomis

This is the second year the Houston Quilt Festival judged show will include one of my quilts in the exhibit.   Last year, my miniature quilt Square In Square I was a finalist in the IQA Houston show and won 3rd place in the miniature category!

Square in Square I has traveled to the 2012 spring and summer IQA venues as part of the IQA special exhibit “Quilts: A World of Beauty 2011“.  Next week is the last stop for this exhibit at the  International Quilt Festival in Long Beach, from July 27-29, 2012.  If you are going to the Long Beach show, check out this special exhibit and look for Square in Square I  (it is only 14″ square!).

More Five Bar Blues News…..
Did you see Five Bar Blues on the cover of the 2012 Paducah Show Catalog??

AQS Paducah 2012 Show Catalog with Five Bar Blues by Diane Loomis on the cover

Since the AQS Paducah show was in April, I’m afraid this news is “better late than never”…

(In my defense….) I did not know in advance that the America Quilter’s Society planned to use a photograph of Five Bar Blues on the cover of the 2012 Paducah Show Catalog,  and  didn’t find out until a few weeks after the show was over.  When a dedicated fan and friend emailed to congratulate me after she saw that Five Bar Blues was ‘all over’ the Paducah catalog…. I had no idea what she was referring to!  I finally saw a copy of the catalog and understood her excitement.

2012 American Quilters Society Paducah Show Catalog page header with Five Bar Blues by Diane Loomis

Feathered Wreath from border of Five Bar Blues award winning quilt by Diane Loomis

In addition to the cover, images of Five Bar Blues are on every page in the catalog.   Yes – the AQS icon sits nicely centered inside one of the feathered wreaths from the border of Five Bar Blues.

The 2012 AQS Paducah catalog is available for sale from AQS here and (also, of course) has photographs of all the stunning quilts entered in the 2012 AQS Paducah quilt show.  Check it out!