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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

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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!

Celtic spirals, circles and swirls a machine quilting workshop by Diane Loomis

 I am working on the class sample for my new machine quilting workshop “Celtic Spirals, Circles, and Swirls”.   This is one of the four mini-workshops I will be teaching at A Quilters’ Sampler™, in  Nashua, NH on May 10 and 11.

I’m am offering four different machine quilting workshops at A Quilters Sampler™.  Each of these mini-workshops is an introduction to a different set of free motion quilting techniques — for your home sewing machine, of course!

Trapunto by Machine

Class sample for Trapunto Machine quilting class by Diane Loomis

Celtic Spirals, Circles, and Swirls

(NEW Workshop!!)Celtic spirals, circles, and swirls machine quilting workshop

Elegant Quilted Backgrounds: Classic Designs for Your Quilt

Elegant quilted background patterns for your quilt

Fabulous Free Motion Fills

Fabulous Free Motion Fills class sample

You can register for more than one workshop – I’ll be teaching different techniques in each class, and you’ll have a more time to machine quilt!  I am not scheduling any more workshops this spring, so if you have asked about taking a class from me, I encourage you to sign up for one of my machine quilting workshops at A Quilters’ Sampler™.

The Eastcoast Quilters’ Alliance 3, LLC, the same folks who bring us The Quilters’ Gathering™ to New England every November, are sponsoring this quilting event.   A Quilters’ Sampler™ offers three-hour mini-classes, luncheon lectures, May Market for shopping, and a ticket to one of the local quilt guild shows or Museum exhibits.  Check it out – there is still time to register for classes!

A Quilters Sampler 2012 quilt classes and events

We drove down to Providence to attend the Awards Ceremony yesterday afternoon, and were able to take a ‘Sneak Peek’ at the show, special exhibits, and vendors.   What a great show – if you can get to Providence by Saturday April 14,  go to MQX East!

Five Bar Blues by Diane Loomis Winner MQX East Large Wall Traditional Quilts

Five Bar Blues won 3rd place in the Large Wall Quilts – Traditional category!

I was thrilled my quilt was honored – this category is full of stunning quilts by talented quilters.

The exhibit was hung so that the backs of all the award-winning quilts – and many others, as well, were open and visible as we walked through the exhibit.  Sometimes you couldn’t tell the back from the front – and because of the remarkable machine quilting, many of the backs of the quilts were at least as beautiful as the front of the quilt.  I have not attended a quilt show hung this way before and it was a treat to be able to easily see both sides the quilts.

The full list of MQX East 2012 award winners is available on the MQX website.  For a sneak peek at the show, MQX also has live webcams on the MQX show floor!

I couldn’t stop myself from quilting once I began free motion quilting the feather plumes from last month’s challenge.  The fabric is solid silver, silk/cotton sateen.  Using different colors of silk thread (all #100, both YLI and Superior depending on the color)  made it look like the fabric was hand dyed (although this photograph may not do justice to it).

February Free Motion Quilting Challenge Feather Plumes sampler

I liked the pale lavender thread on the silver sateen best and used it to stitch the feather plumes and the first few rows of echo quilting around them.  When I finished quilting the sampler, the fabric around the feathers looked lavender, instead of silver.  My second favorite color on the silver sateen was pale blue (different shades) but the contrast of the light green silk thread really added movement to the background.

 

Confession #1: Wow! I can’t believe I’m posting this again just under the wire.  The 2012 FMQ Challenge is really providing me with a deadline and motivation to keep up with at least monthly blog posts (even though they may be written late at night).

Confession #2: I took my first workshop with Diane Gaudynski in 2004, and I learned to quilt feathers from her then.  I have quilted feathers for many years … they are one of my favorite things to quilt!

As I read Diane’s excellent February tutorial, I looked for something new to learn from this lesson.  I noticed that Diane’s feathers all flow beautifully into smaller and more delicate feathers into a graceful end of the plume.  When I looked at  my feathers, I saw that I tend to end my feathers with a larger feather, or loop, at the end.

First feather plume sketch

So I decided my challenge for the month was to try to taper my feather plumes to be smaller at the end.

I began drawing feathers, early this month.  I discovered changing my habitual ways of drawing (and stitiching) feathers was more difficult than I expected!  This was my first drawing.

I wasn’t very happy with the result.  It didn’t flow and didn’t feel balanced.  I definitely had trouble making the ends of the feathers small and graceful.

Back to the drawing board!

Diane posted a blog entry on ‘Feather Plumes Linked‘ earlier this month.  I loved the idea and tried it with paper and pencil.  I like these linked feather plumes alot!

I tried to create a type of circular ‘focal point’.  You could use two or three plumes, instead of a continuous circular wreath.  Imagine a special shape, motif, or monogram inside the two rounded plumes….

Feather plumes focal point

 Yes, I quilted some feather plumes also.  But first I wanted to test different thread colors of silk thread for use on this wonderful silver silk sateen fabric that changes color in different light.  I used each of these threads to stitch some sample feathers.

Silk thread choices for free motion quilting

My favorite color was the pale lavender for these sample feathers.  I used lavender, light blue, light green, and some silver thread in this sample.  Although it takes a little longer to switch spools, I really like the movement and dimension that different thread colors add.

Practice free motion quilted feather plumes

Here is my final [for now] feathered plume for February.  I am pleased with it — but there is so much unquilted space!

Linked feather plumes for February 2012 FMQ Challenge

I had to add some more quilting to the empty space.  So the design evolves…. I’ll post a photo or two of the finished sampler soon!