"process"

Itty Bitty Curves Update 2 Years later

Tiny Piecing Improv Curves

When I posted some photos of these little curves the other day a non-quilting friend asked me if I was making another version of the quilt. Because she remembered me working on them last year. Nope, same quilt. More piecing.

I pulled this project back in to the rotation last week. After so many scrap projects of late it is nice to be working with a controlled colour scheme. Not that the piecing is any faster with these itty bitty curves! I guess this was the itch that needed to be scratched.

Many times I’ve been asked how big I plan to make this quilt. The answer is always “Until I run out of fabric.” Of course, since I am working with solids I could replace them. Frankly, I’ve done that once already. But even I have limits and will likely stop once this round of fabric is done. In actuality, the supply of yellow fabric is getting low so I guess that will be my limiting factor. As it currently stands, the pieces for the top make it about 40’’ x 60’’ .

Tiny Piecing Improv Curves Quilting

As the fabric supply dwindles I’ve decided to focus on making the little blocks instead of assembly. I have absolutely no idea how much bigger this can and will get. My little plastic baggies are filled with the size sorted blocks, like some sort of quilting drug deal. Every time I sew, press, square up, and add to the collection my potential finished quilt gets an inch or two bigger. By sewing all the blocks now I will ensure that my colours stay balanced across the entire finished quilt and not have a portion where there is no yellow, for example. So I will sew all the blocks first then sew them all together. Fingers crossed this leaves me with a functional sized quilt.

It’s been precisely 2 years since I started this project in a class with Chawne Kimber. At the time it was a fun experiment, a good way to play with one of my idols in the room guiding me. There is no rushing tiny piecing, especially when you want the finished result to be large enough to cover a lap and not just a wall. There is also an inherent boredom in tiny piecing, especially when making something larger. It is a A LOT of repetitive action. If it takes me a few years, it takes me a few years. I am thoroughly engaged in the process when I am doing it and have no problem letting my interest ebb and flow. I’m floating down a slow river and the ride is good.

Chawne Kimber tiny piecing

Pocket Squares - Improv Applique with Tag Fabrics

Pocket Square Improv Applique Quilt

Pocket Squares

40’’ x 50’’

So many of my quilts start with random ideas. Some times the ideas come to a full quilt, other times not so much. Happy to say that after a few years this quilt is now fully done.

It started with mini charm packs of my Tag Fabrics that I cut for giveaways. I had one left over. Enter the need for a hand work project. The mini charm pack made friends with a charm pack of Kona solids sitting on the cutting table. I snipped a corner off each minicharm and appliqued it to the charms. Each one has slight variations - improv in hand applique!

After finishing all those I decided that I would do another layer of applique, bringing Tag fabrics back in to it. Each fabric in this collection of mine is represented in the quilt twice - once small and once as the background.

Aurifil Straight Line Machine Quilting

NOTE: This is why I am no good at promoting fabric collections. I started this quilt 2 years ago when my first collection came out and I am only just finishing it.

It isn’t a fancy quilt. I’m not breaking any design barriers either. But it sure was fun to make! Another great example of the process being as important, if not more so, than the finished quilt.

Because it’s been a long time since I quilted anything myself I got back into the swing of things with some straight line quilting. Originally, I thought I might do a grid, but at first pass my lines are 1/2’’ apart. That would have been a tiny grid! With chronic pain plaguing me these last 9 months I didn’t want to push it too much. I was just happy to have got through basting the thing. The Aurifil thread in this purple ended up perfect.

If you’ve ever seen me talk or paid attention to my quilts you know how I love to throw contrast into the whole thing. In this case, I introduced a completely different colour with this teal and white binding. Which brings me to my first finish of 2019 and my first finish since May of last year.

Cheryl Arkison labels Tag  Fabric

Oh, and full naming credit goes to my friend Sharon at Color Girl Quilts. Every time I posted a picture of this quilt on Instagram she said it made her think of pocket squares.

The Places I've Been - Improv Letters in Action

Improv Letters and Words Quilting

The quintessential graduation gift is Dr. Suess’ Oh, the Places You Will Go! For whether you are graduating from kindergarten or medical school. It’s a fun one, full of optimism and encouragement. And while I don’t want to disparage any of that, I do think it is also important to look backwards some times. Not to hold grudges, obsess over past mistakes, or fester (although I do a fair bit of that myself). No, looking back sometimes is important for celebrating progress and success. It is a good reminder that our hard work did get us somewhere.

In the wake of some high profile retirements from the quilting industry, plus a few more you might not have noticed, I’ve been doing just that. Well, actually, I started this particular process years ago, but the past month really got me being reflective.

Quilting was a lifechanger and is a lifesaver for me, no question. I would not be the person I am, the mother I am, the woman I am, without quilting. It teaches me to embrace my own creativity. It provides a mindfulness that no amount of meditation would ever give me. It is an outlet for anxious hands. And, at the end of the day, is a career that provides financial freedom and personal challenge.

A few years back I started teaching a class on making letters and words, improv style. For my class samples I started working on the names of places I was at or had been. As a teacher I like having samples that can be something else some day, that can be built upon with each class I teach. It simply provides a focus. Picking the community names was a fun thing I tried. And it kind of stuck.

Cheryl Arkison Quilt Teacher

In all fairness, I haven’t got that far. I will admit to overwhelm when I think of having to add Charlottetown, Kangaroo Valley, and Prince Rupert to the list. That’s a lot of letters! But when I sit down to make a word, in the end, it doesn’t take that long. It becomes a wonderful trip down memory lane. I often pull out the photos from the trip and pick colours based on the scenery or something memorable from the class.

My plan is to make a quilt with all the places I’ve been. I can’t predict where I will go in this industry - it is constantly changing, as are my personal challenges - but I sure can appreciate where I’ve been. Since becoming a professional, as a writer and teacher mostly, quilting brought me to some pretty amazing places to meet some even more amazing people. How lucky am I?? I’ve worked hard and will continue to do so (this is not a retirement announcement). As I have no travel gigs booked for this year I might get this done to this point. Then we will see all the other places I will go!

Epic Battle With the Scraps

Little Log Cabin Scrap Quilts

Victory is mine!

A month ago - after teaching multiple scrap and Values Plus workshops - I got it in my head to buckle down and hit the scraps. And I hit them hard. While I have my lovely little bins of colour sorted a blue IKEA bag kept getting filled with strips and random bits. I sorted out a bunch of little bits back in May, but otherwise the bag sat there taunting me.

Hey you! Hey! I’m talking to you. You know you won’t throw me out, you simply can’t do that. But did you know I grow when you aren’t looking. The rest of the fabric? It comes to me at night and fills me up. You will never take me down!

Oh yeah? Let the battle begin.

I spent an hour or so sorting that bag by colour. Easy enough. And usually sorting is enough for me. It gives me the calm I want and finding order makes me happy. But there were just so many scraps! So I went headlong into the fury and am happy to say I emerged victorious!

Values Plus Scrap Quilts

This morning I finished the last of the blocks for a queen size quilts based on my Values Plus class. As I sorted, sewed, and trimmed for those blocks little bits and little strings revealed themselves, like soldiers stalking me in the grass. Well, they’ve been tamed too. I have a pile of skinny strings ready to action on my side - in some little log cabins. And the little bits leftover from battle are contained in colour sorted bags, another project in mind.

All my Morning Makes and any other free time in the last month has been spent on this battlefield. I became solely focused on this. While I generally have no issue with scraps something just got in me that these needed to be dealt with. Like an itch I couldn’t scratch it became an obsession to empty, sort, and use everything in that blue bag. While not everything is used yet, it all is designated or tamed. I am winning!

Now I hope to spend some time actually finishing a quilt or two, that’s a whole other battle.

Modern Scrap Quilts