Thursday, January 20, 2022

A new Tunic

Every now and then I get the urge to return to my roots and make myself a garment. These days, due to some hard earned weight loss (Go me!) all of my clothes are baggy on me. I'm trying to put off buying new clothes, but thought a fun make or two might be in order. 

I'm really happy with how this tunic turned out! I used McCalls pattern #7284 and by adding french seams to the side seams it is nicely finished on the inside which is always a plus for me. The fabric is Modcloth by Free Spirit Fabric with Grunge that I happened to have on hand as the placket.... a nice match.

Now I have the itch to make more garments! Hubby gifted me a beautiful African wax print for Christmas that I think will become a full skirt soon. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Exploring Collaboration: part 4

Today is the fourth installment of Exploring Collaboration, a series of blog posts offered up twice a month by Karen Bolan and me. We've really enjoyed sharing our thoughts with you and look forward to future conversations about collaboration with many fellow quilters.

For this week's exploration of collaboration, I have a specific idea that you might try with a group of friends.  Hopefully the world will soon begin to open up again and we will be more able to join with fellow quilters on retreats, for quilting days, workshops and other in person activities. Here's a collaborative activity you and your group might like to try! A friend and I came up with this idea a couple of years ago (pre-pandemic). It will work best with a group of 4-8, if you have more just split into two groups!

To begin this activity, each participant arrives with an already completed 24" block. For my example, we each start with an improv log cabin. They can be wonky (or not), symmetrical (or not), prints, solids, you name it. The important thing (for ease) is that all of the beginning blocks are 24" square. Each person also needs to bring a 2 1/2" strip of their "signature fabric" cut into 4 6" rectangles.  

Participants should be seated in a circle of sorts so that projects can easily be passed from one to the next. First up, everyone passes their block to the person next to them (clockwise passing works well!) Now take the block you have received and cut it into 16 equal 6" squares. If you have a 6"x24" ruler this will be easy to do!

Now gather up the squares you have cut and pass them to the next person in line.

Mix up the squares you have received. Randomly choose four of the squares, add one of your signature rectangles to the mix and sew them into a strip (you can insert your rectangle anywhere you want. In this example, the orange strip between blocks 3 & 4 is the signature strip).

Now pass your strip and the remaining squares to the next person. Repeat the strip sewing activity until each block is in four strips. Can you find the four different signature strips in the photo below?

The next person gets to rearrange the strips into a pleasing arrangement of their choice and sew them all together.

Return the completed, reconstructed block to it's original owner to be quilted and bound. 

It would be fun to try this activity with other kinds of blocks too! If you try it, I hope you'll share your process and results with me on Instagram @ellynz.

Monday, January 10, 2022

Building Community through Collaboration


Have you received your copy of Curated Quilts in the mail yet? Mine came this weekend and I've been pouring over it, reading every word. I always enjoy it, but especially this time, as it is all about Collaboration! So many wonderful articles and beautiful group quilts.

Oh, and look at that, on page 49.....

Karen Bolan and I collaborated on an article! I'm delighted to be included in this beautiful magazine and happy to spread the joy I find in collaboration with others. 

You can order a copy of the magazine here.

Wednesday, January 5, 2022

Exploring Collaboration: Myths

If you've been following along, Karen Bolan and I have been exploring different aspects of collaboration together, then reflecting on our conversations on our blogs. You can find the first two entries in our series here on my blog and on Karen's blog as well.

 This week Karen and I are exploring some of the myths that might keep you from jumping on the collaboration bandwagon. If you're like me, you might make up stories in your head about things that "might happen" if you collaborate with other quilters. And, I'm not going to lie, some of them might! But there are ways to avoid them and ways to deal with them when they do. Here are just a couple of collaboration myths that I've faced.

#1 Others in the group might not follow through.
Possible. However, in my experience, it doesn't happen as often as you might think! Most people who sign up for a collaborative experience really want to be there. If you've carefully selected your collaborative partners and established clear rules for the group as I discussed in my earlier post, chances are everyone will do their best to participate fully. 

What do you do if members are not reliable? Here are some things to consider...
- if you are in charge of the group, you can talk to the person and work out a solution. Often life just happens and the collaborator might be overwhelmed or embarrassed that they can't do their part. Communication is key! Can a deadline be extended? Can someone else fill in for the person until they are able to rejoin? Does the person really need to back away permanently? All are valid.

- show lots of grace! I've found that this is an important factor in all aspects of life, but especially when I'm collaborating with others. Forgive and move on.

#2 I won't end up with enough blocks to complete my quilt.
This is closely related to myth #1. First of all, you will ALWAYS have enough to make a quilt. It may not be the king sized bed quilt you envisioned, but it will indeed be a quilt! Some things to think about...

- try to go into collaboration with an open mind. Expect the unexpected! You may end up short a few blocks, blocks may be different than you had originally pictured. Colors may vary, sizes, techniques... it's ok. Whatever you receive reflects the group you are working with.
- if you want the quilt to be bigger, add more blocks of your own, add sashing or borders to the blocks you receive or even lots of negative space. It's your quilt in the end! 
This bee quilt was intended to be for my queen sized bed, but some blocks did not arrive! I added tons of negative space. When folded right, it makes a beautiful bed runner across the foot of my bed.  When a few blocks arrived late, after I had already pieced the quilt, I made some matching throw pillows and was able to use them all.

I wanted my Japanese x and + quilt to be bigger. Making one giant block added interest to my quilt and went faster than creating four extra blocks
- you can always make a smaller quilt! Small wall quilts can be very impactful.

These are just a couple of collaboration myths you might encounter. Karen is addressing different myths on her blog today. Check back in two weeks when we'll have more thoughts about collaboration!

Friday, December 31, 2021

2021 year in review

 Whew! What a year! While it would be easy to focus on all of the crazy negative things going on in the world right now (no, I'm not going to list them. you already know!) I'm choosing to focus on the positive. And there sure was a lot of it in my world this year. Here are the highlights.... so I never forget how blessed I was in 2021.

Urban Emergence

In February, my group quilt, Urban Emergence was part of Quiltcon Together, the virtual MQG show that replaced in person Quiltcon this year. It was my very first quilt accepted into Quiltcon. Imagine my surprise when I won first place in my category! As if this wasn't enough, it was chosen for publication in the Quiltcon magazine! What an honor!

Later that month, Sarah Goer and I formed a pARTnership, inspired by Danielle Krysa's In 
tandem Art project. Sarah and I have continued to meet on Zoom every two weeks all year long, encouraging each other in our artistic journeys. One of the greatest things to come out of our friendship is the start of our new improv bee, Quilts Unscripted. This group is incredibly talented and inspiring! 

Again in 2021, I was able to participate in the Virtual Quilt Guild where I met so many amazing quilters. One relationship that came out of that group is my collaboration with Karen Bolan. Karen and I have also been meeting often on Zoom and have shared a collaborative quilt project (Welcoming Lamp), a series of blog posts (Exploring Collaboration) and coming soon..... a published article on Collaboration in Curated Quilts magazine! This was completed in 2021 and will be arriving in mailboxes early 2022.
Welcoming Lamp

One other thing I am so proud of this year is the completion of my Through Ellyn's Eyes project. When I set out on a six month personal journey to create a cohesive body of work and explore my creative voice it seemed daunting at best. The more I worked through it, the more joyful it became. I am so lucky to have had the time and the resources to complete this project and look forward to sharing it with guilds in the coming year.
Through Ellyn's Eyes quilts

So, 2021 proved to be a productive, fun year for me. Most of these things were not even on my radar a year ago, so who knows what 2022 will bring? Regardless, I look forward to sharing it with you. Happy New Year everyone!

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Quilts Unscripted Blocks

 The Quilts Unscripted Bee continues to challenge and amaze me month by month. You can see posts about my past blocks here. I thought I'd share the rest for 2021 today.

In November, Loide asked us to make a variety of Christmas blocks. She put very few restrictions on us which was fun, but at the same time challenging!

For my first block I made a Christmas tree! Very structured yet improv as I just winged it, no pattern.

It's a smaller version of the tree mini I did for the MQG earlier this year!

Next up, snowflakes. I debated putting them all together in one block, but decided to leave them apart so she can use them as she desires.

A Christmas Present seemed like a good choice for my third block... the most improvy (is that even a word?) of the three.
As Loide is a local quilty friend, we were able to meet for lunch when I delivered her blocks, so it was a big win!

Elizabeth was up for December.  She asked us each to make a sash, using 2 contrasting solids, at least one of which was bright and saturated. I journeyed to my local quilt store, which has a whole wall of Bella Solids, and was overwhelmed and confused!!! Lyssa, who works at the shop and knows me well, walked up and pulled Limeade and Turquoise off the wall and said "this speaks Ellyn to me" well duh! I was trying to be unique and creative when all I really needed to be was myself. 

My finished sash is 6" wide and 47" long. And that E in the middle? A total accident! It can stand for Ellyn or Elizabeth or whatever she wants to think. It's already arrived safely in Arkansas. Now I impatiently await the January prompt.

You can follow our group shenanigans at #quiltsunscripted

Sunday, December 26, 2021

itty bitty improv

Well, despite all my fussing, I did finish 20 quilts for my Through Ellyn's Eyes project before the end of the year! As I had speculated, it's TINY! Finishing at just 7"x9", thus the name itty bitty improv, it would make a good mug rug. 

I played with some spiky triangles, one of the very first techniques I learned when Debbie (A Quilter's Table) came to teach our guild years ago. It's one I return to often and was fun to revisit in just two colors, Kona Corn Yellow and Glacier. Quilted very quickly on my domestic machine with some accent hand quilting big stitched in at the end. 

I will admit to feeling a bit of a letdown with this project wrapping up. I look forward to compiling my conclusions (I will share some here later. If you'd like to hear a detailed report and see all of the quilts in person, let your guilds program chair know I'd love to come visit!).