Make Waves Quilt Top and Vacation Dreams

make waves quilt top 1.jpg

My obsession with this quilt is strong. From a random suggestion in a phone call to a live online quilting class to this. If I had a long arm or a clean floor this one would already be in the quilting phase.

It started with the planning for The Thursday Club with Marisa Anne Cummings. I’ve known Marisa for years and we were chatting about the class I would teach with her. She said something about the water and I quickly sketched a block. When I went to test the design it worked exactly as I sketched. Well, after we filmed the class - which you can still catch - I became obsessed with making more an more blocks. For me, this is normal.

Make Waves Thursday Club by Marisa
Make Waves Quilt Thursday Club by Marisa

It made a dent in both my scraps and stash as I searched for all the colours of all the prints. I didn’t want too much repetition so it was a deep dive in to the fabric closet.

On a related note, I am thinking of a new class on using prints in your quilts. Thoughts?

It took me a bit to come to the final layout. You can read more about that design wall play. Some days I only moved two blocks. It had to be just right. And now it is. It makes me think of sunsets at the beach. Or sunrises. Take your pick. But it has me all dreamy for sand and the crash of the waves and a Tequila Sunrise. So basically, it is a vacation in a quilt.

Alas, it is heavy competition season for my girls and we are at the pool, not the beach. And I make them help me take quilt photos after practice.

Thursday Club Make Waves Quilt

And you can still catch the class if you want to make your own sunset or just like the block. It comes together quickly and by the end of one block you will be the master of improv curves! Catch it here.

CMYK - First Mighty Lucky Row Done

Mighty Lucky Quilting Club First Row

Paper piecing 12 blocks isn't so bad if you do them half a block at a time. 

That's what I kept telling myself, and it worked. Carolyn Friedlander's patterns are easy and graphic. Each one of these blocks is made in sections so I did a section at a time. Low stress. And sure enough, they add up. Sometimes it was Morning Make, sometimes I snuck in a bit of sewing in the sweet spot between when the kids go to bed and I crash. Seam by seam it gets done.

These are the first rows of the 2018 Mighty Lucky Quilting Club. Month one was about making a colour story. Mine was inspired by the CMYK issue of Uppercase Mag. It's been different for me to work in such saturated colours and just them. I quite like it. The key, I think, has been to vary the fabrics in print and texture. That's how you get distinctions, almost like value, when working monochromatically on blocks. Sometimes the distinctions are subtle, sometimes strong. Overall it works well.

Cheryl Arkison CMYK Mighty Lucky Quilting Club

And yes, my sandals match. True fact: I nearly entirely match the quilt. I have these sandals in turquoise, yellow, and red (not pink). But now that we are mentioning it...

On to the next round  - little improv crosses.

Check it out for more info on Mighty Lucky and to sign up for the entire Year of Colour.

Screen Printing Lesson and Coincidences at Maze and Vale

Kawasaki's Theorem on Fabric

On my Australia trip I got the opportunity to learn silk screening printing from the wonderful Leslie Keating at Maze and Vale. We were in Melbourne for 48 free hours in between the two retreats. Jules McMahon arranged for us to go meet Leslie one morning. I'd interviewed Leslie for a Modern Patchwork/Quilting Arts article before, but this would be a treat. We were in for far more than we expected!

At Maze and Vale

Leslie invited us into her shared warehouse studio space. A number of different artists working on their painting, printing, sewing, and making in a sunny, crisp warehouse. Divided by plywood walls and mixed with creativity. The Maze and Vale space is long and narrow, perfect for a printing table. Perfect for Leslie's gorgeous drop cloths (which Jules and I really, really want), a cabinet with her base cloth, and shelves of inks. Not to mention the true value of her unique screens stacked under the window.

We, admittedly, thought we were going to have a cup of tea, a short tour, and a little chat. But no! Leslie gave us that and so much more. She gave us lessons, stencil papers, a blank screen, and access to her beautifully custom mixed inks. Before our tea was cold we were cutting stencils with an exacto knife.

Prepping a stencil

To be put on the spot for this was momentarily disconcerting. Thank goodness for my nearly full sketchbook that I always carry with me! I flipped through the pages and came across these sketches. In an older issue of Uppercase Magazine there was mention of a paper folding technique called Kawasaki's Theorem. While me drawing it out has nothing to do with paper folding I loved the lines of the illustration. It screamed quilt block to me. And, on this day, I used it as my inspiration for a stencil.

Now, the last time I used an exacto knife I nearly sliced my thumb off and my brother had to practice his eventual doctoring on me. So, I was a little nervous. But with some good chit chat I calmly got through and got to the exciting part of the process - printing.

Silk screening demo at Maze at Maze and Vale
Procrasticraft printing

There is something wonderfully meditative and quite exciting about screen printing. You think you know what it is going to look like, how it will finish, but there is still some uncertainty at the beginning. I could see this being addictive for me. At least in the summer at home because I'm not sure I could appropriate the dining room table for this in the winter months!

My prints dried, we heat set them, and last week I put together a small quilt top with my fabric. We used Essex Linen as out base cloth. With a bit more of the blue colour and a paper piecing pattern drafted to take advantage of the prints themselves I made 4 blocks. The blocks themselves are the Kawasaki's Theorem on repeat. All very meta. I think I will continue that with the quilting.

Fresh prints drying

Leslie was a wonderful host and teacher. If I lived in Melbourne I would hope we could hang out a lot more. If she lived back in her native Canada it is likely we would too. Then again, we may have in the past! It turns out that not only is she Canadian, she is from the same Prairie suburb as I am. We know mutual people and even now, her sister and my sister in law are friends! We discovered all this while chatting and printing. It was a crazy coincidence and I can't believe I had to go halfway around the world to discover the connections. My little quilt and my prints mean that much more now.

This day of printing was an excellent creative retreat for Jules and I. Working hard for others and doing all we could to nurture their creativity was decidedly fantastic. But getting a chance to play and nurture our own was such a welcome and needed break. Thank you to Leslie for providing the space, inspiration, and guidance to do so.

Scraps Go Round - An Improv Log Cabin Style Quilt

Scraps All Around

Those early mornings sessions are totally paying off. Number one, for my mental health. Number two, for quilt productivity. A few years after starting these blocks are finished and the quilt top done!

(I've also finished the blocks for another top already and have been working on some snippets now.)

Depending on if you are a glass half full or half empty person, you will love or hate this - I probably still have enough strips left for another quilt like this! If you make quilts you will always have scraps. Good thing there are a million fun ways to use them!

Scrappy blocks up close

These blocks were made by simply cutting a pentagon, hexagon, or even a heptagon. Then I added scrap strips, log cabin style, all around. And kept going. I did not use a foundation. Some might argue that the blocks are more unstable with it. And they would be right. But I took my time, was careful not to stretch as I sewed, and squared them up at the end. 25 blocks later and I have a 80'' by 80'' quilt top.

An interesting observation for me as I finished this is that there really isn't much of mine that plays in the medium range of value. A lot of lights, a few darks, and some mediums. This is in contrast to the majority of us quilters who live in the medium range. And to most manufacturers who provide us with those medium value fabrics. If you made this quilt with your scraps it would be a completely different look!

The harder part was trying to get a picture of the top with my 8 and 4 year olds at the park! It seems I underestimated my wingspan. And underestimated the height of the man I freakishly asked to help me hold the quilt while The Evil Genius snapped mostly blurry photos. But hey, they are happy and willing to indulge this part of the quilting so I am happy with the outcome no matter what.

Peeking behind the quilt.