Sunday, December 31, 2017

A Year with the Choo Choo Quilters

Nancy presented a program on creating and using "scrap rolls"
at the November guild meeting.
2017 was a wonderful "Make Do" and "Make it Work" year for the Choo Choo Quilters.

From getting creative with fabric swatches and scrap rolls, re-creating with vintage textiles and orphaned quilt blocks, attending a workshop and lecture with nationally-known author and award-winning quilter, Mary Kerr, to learning how to calculate the math for making patchwork borders "fit" through participation in the Medallion Guild Challenge, the Choo Choo Quilters guild members pumped out exciting new quilt projects... in addition to the numerous cuddle quilts for the guild's community service project.

Not only did we "make do," we made—and learned—a lot! And, here are the highlights from another fun, creative and inspiring year at our guild. Sit back, scroll down, and take a look—there are lots of pictures!

A Year of upcycling, repurposing and "Making Do"
The 2017 year started with the kick-off of the theme of "Back to the Future." The concept for this year-long theme was to generate ideas for using, re-purposing or elevating UFOs (unfinished objects), rescued or vintage quilt bits, or whatever half-finished projects were languishing in closets and fabric stashes.
Ideas for using fabric bits and leftovers to make blocks.
Knock-knock jokes introduced the February program on "Making Do"—quilt block ideas for using scraps. Fabric swatches from fabric company outdated sample cards were donated and distributed among guild members. The scraps resurfaced in scrappy, improv quilt blocks that made their way into quilts during the annual Cuddle Quilt workshop.
Guild members collected fabric swatches to make blocks for Cuddle Quilts.
Early in the year, the Medallion Guild Challenge was presented. Instructions were given for a large, center, medallion block.
Ideas for making a medallion quilt with multiple pieced borders.
Throughout the first half of the year, Cristy presented designs and instructions for pieced borders that could be used to surround the center medallion. The Challenge reveal was at the November meeting.
Cristy presents border options.
Want to add dimension and embellishments to your quilts? Delores, Ginny and Martha presented ideas and a plethora of examples for enhancing the surface of quilts.
Delores (left) and Ginny discuss embellishment possibilities.
Delores is the Queen of embellishment.
Martha with her Noah's Ark quilt.
Other guild program topics included T-shirt quilts, tips for making quilts look modern, and using blocks of different sizes. Visit the Choo Choo Quilters Facebook page for other photos.

Let the good times roll
In October, Nancy presented the "scrap rolls" concept and her team provided several samples to stimulate our creative juices.
How long can you make a scrap roll???
A fast and easy strip quilt made with scrap rolls. 
Project ideas for scrap rolls.

Workshop and Lecture with Mary Kerr
In April, the Choo Choo Quilters teamed up with another local quilt guild and brought in Mary Kerr for "A Wonky Star" workshop and a lecture that featured quilts from Mary's book, "Twisted: Modern Quilts with a Vintage Twist." Several of the participants finished their quilt tops in the workshop!
Dawn (left), Mary Kerr and Kim with their Wonky Star tops.
Dawn and Kim used pieces from the same vintage quilt top.
Cristy's Wonky Star
Ginny made multiple sizes of her Wonky Star blocks.
Veronica's stack of vintage Churn Dash blocks turned into this top.
Garie's Wonky Star
Ginny (left) and Vista discuss possibilities.
There were several interesting antique and vintage quilt tops that people brought to the workshop. It was fun to see the popular block patterns and fabrics from days gone by.
The goblet block.
Lots of vintage prints! 
Little red "bow ties" or "butterflies" flit among the vintage shirting fabrics.
A nine-patch fabric bonanza!
Mary's lecture and trunk show was very motivating and inspiring. Seeing the quilts from the Twisted book and exhibit up close and in person was a treat that can't be experienced through photos.
Mary Kerr lecture and trunk show.
2017 annual Cuddle Quilt workshop
The all-day Saturday workshop for working on cuddle quilts was again very productive—especially the group basting session. We set a new record with 45 basted quilts! (Thank you, Sherry Reed, for contributing workshop photos.)
The basting crew (from left): Ginny, Veronica and Kaye.
Garie (left) and Cristy.
Martha (left) and Nancy.
Veronica free-motion quilted 5 quilts during the workshop.
Linda (left) and Theresa.

Choo Choo Show and Tell
The guild was again treated to beautiful quilts made by members, visitors, and others this year. Sometimes the "others" are anonymous quilters whose quilts, tops or blocks were rescued by or gifted to guild members. We enjoy seeing them all.
Sherry's (right) disappearing nine-patch.
A lovely panel was incorporated into this quilt.
Members brought Show and Tell examples for the "Make Do" program.
Garie's (left) vintage quilt.
Ginny's (right) stash-buster quilt.
Betty's quilt made from men's shirts.
Delores showed a vintage scrappy 9-patch.
Antique applique quilt. The red flower fabric has disintegrated. 
Antique hexagon, Grandmother's Flower Garden quilt top. Look at the fussy piecing!
Three guests also delighted the guild this year with trunk shows and stories about their journeys in quilting. We enjoyed having Martha Steel, Jean Larson and Stacy Slockbower at our guild meetings.

Nothing outshines or surpasses a Choo Choo Quilter!
And, not to be upstaged by the August 21, 2017 celestial event—a total solar eclipse (the last time a total solar eclipse was seen in the contiguous US was in 1979)—Ginny, one of our "Star" Choo Choo quilters, commemorated the event by making a Solar Eclipse quilt!
Ginny's solar eclipse quilt.
Thanks for a fun-filled 2017. The Choo Choo Quilters are looking forward to 2018.

Happy New Year from the Choo Choo Quilters!

Friday, November 24, 2017

Medallion Challenge quilts take center stage

Monday, November 20, came much too quickly for some of the 2017 Choo Choo Challenge participants. Names will not be mentioned, but let it be noted that more than one quilter arrived a little breathless for the reveal, her entry still warm from the light on her sewing machine. Nonetheless, every entry was stunning! Chosen by secret ballot, here are the 2017 Choo Choo Challenge winners with their Medallion quilts.
2017 Choo Choo Challenge winners (from left): Garie McClelland—1st Place;
Cristy Clark—4th Place; Dawn Johnson—2nd Place; Sherry Baldwin—3rd Place.
Guidelines for the 2017 Challenge were straightforward: (1) begin with a 20" center or medallion, and (2) add at least 3 pieced borders. The resulting quilted pieces were anything but straightforward as each participant was led in a unique direction to produce her own inspired creation.

Explaining the process
We got an insight into each participant's processes as they explained the techniques and tools used to create the pieced borders and the "Make it Work" approaches they took to "fit" pieced borders into the design of their tops.

Sherry (3rd Place winner) used a printed round medallion she got in Montana as her starting point. For the outside border, Sherry used a specialty ruler to create the patchwork blocks.
Sherry Baldwin won 3rd Place with her 2017 Medallion Challenge quilt.
The center was from a printed panel. The circular motif was echoed in the quilting.
The light fabric on the back shows off Sherry's machine quilting.
The quilt back shows the quilting designs.
Ginny had to dig deep to find inspiration for her Challenge quilt. She channeled Mary Ellen Hopkins and pulled it off with this lovely quilt made with green, turquoise and a variety of light neutral batiks.
Ginny Minninger with her 2017 Challenge quilt
titled, "When Life takes a U-Turn, You Turn."
Ginny chose to add a dimensional, free-hanging strip of flying geese to balance the geese in her borders. A specialty ruler was used to make no-waste flying geese units. Her quilt was machine quilted with both free-motion and straight line designs.
Detail of Ginny's quilt.
Dawn (2nd Place winner) used a block from a previous guild Challenge—the 2013 Brown Bag Challenge—for the medallion in her quilt.
Dawn Johnson won 2nd Place with her 2017 Challenge quilt.
She machine quilted her piece with free-motion and straight line designs.
Detail for each of the pieced borders.
In the spirit of a year of "Making Do," Dawn added other fabrics when she ran out of one to complete her patchwork borders. Leftover blocks and scraps make up the backing.
Pieced back of fabric scraps and leftover blocks.
With no pre-planned layout, Martha indicated her quilt designed itself with the addition of each border. To make the quilt rectangular (rather than square), she added the second border on the top and bottom only.
Martha Griffin with her Medallion Challenge quilt.
The the triangles in the second border are echoed with a smaller version in the third border. Martha machine quilted her quilt said she learned a lot from making it.
A zigzag inner border and a third border with small triangles.
Theresa decided on a blue and orange color palette for her Challenge quilt and added green for an accent color. She said she used a specialty ruler to create the blocks in the outside border.
Theresa Kitchell and her 2017 Challenge quilt.
Theresa embraced several "make do" opportunities during her quiltmaking process—using scraps from one border to use in another, using the trimmings from blocks, and adding strips and bits of background fabric to make borders fit. Her quilt is machine quilted and she is considering filling in more of the background areas with additional quilting.
Detail of the borders on Theresa's quilt.
The theme and name of Garie's (1st Place winner) quilt was "All About Reindeer." With insufficient amounts of certain fabrics, Garie also found ways of "making do" with the design of the pieced borders.
Garie McClelland won 1st Place with her "All About Reindeer" quilt.
Garie hand quilted her quilt. She also gets extra points for having all the reindeer in the black fabric facing the same direction!
Fused appliqué reindeer was outlined with a buttonhole stitch.
The red, white, green and black color scheme was well suited for the theme of this quilt.
Pieced borders in Garie's reindeer quilt.
A star block was pieced into the backing.
A pieced backing.
Cristy (4th Place winner) took an asymmetrical approach with some of the borders on her Challenge quilt. A bundle of shot cotton yarn-dyed fabrics was the impetus for her quilt, which she also used throughout the year to illustrate possibilities for piecing borders.
Cristy Clark won 4th Place with her 2017 Challenge quilt.
Cristy had a "make do or make it work" moment (and a $36 express shipping charge) when she ran out of the decorative thread just 2 motifs shy of finishing the quilting.
Detail of the free-motion quilting with variegated thread.
 A strip of leftover pieces from her fat quarter bundle found its way into the quilt backing.
Pieced backing.
Vista chose a fabric variety of small prints with a color palette that coordinated with her medallion of vintage hankies. 
Vista with her hankie Medallion Challenge quilt.
Gaining confidence from our workshop with Mary Kerr, Vista was able to "cut into" the vintage textiles for the center of her quilt. Using perle cotton, she did some hand seed stitching (quilting) in the open areas of the hankies. The free-motion quilting was a nice counterpoint to the vintage hankies and complemented the patchwork design.
Detail of vintage hankie center.
Another group of blocks from the 2013 Brown Bag Challenge resurfaced to comprise Kim's Medallion quilt. It was fun to see these blocks again—especially in a finished quilt!
Kim Huston and her 2017 Medallion Challenge quilt.
Two of the pieced borders surrounded the center block and the outer border completed the pieced trio. The blue triangles add a brightness and sparkle to the warm brown and gold color scheme. Extra layers of batting produced a trapunto effect in the center block.
Detail of pieced borders and one of the quilt blocks.
Kim's quilt was machine quilted by a long-arm quilter. The dense quilting can be seen on the back of the quilt.
Back of the quilt shows the dense quilting.
The guild is grateful to Cristy Clark for coordinating the 2017 Challenge. Congratulations to all the winners and participants! It was another stunning Guild Challenge reveal.