Jenbenbry's Blog

Quilting in the Windy City

Chicago International Quilt Show 2010 April 17, 2010

Filed under: inspiration — jenbenbry @ 1:00 pm
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Wow!  I had the pleasure of attending the 2010 Chicago Quilt Show yesterday.  The quilt show runs through Sunday April 18th at the Rosemont Expo Center just outside of Chicago.  It was amazing, humongous, inspiring, crowded (even though I purposefully went Friday instead of Saturday or Sunday to avoid crowds), and humbling.  I’d say about a quarter of the expo space was devoted to the quilt show and about three quarters to vendors.  I’d prefer something closer to half and half.  There were  vendors for everything from sewing machines, long arm machines, buttons, ribbons, patterns, fabrics, tools, books, thread, hand creams, back massagers, sewing tables, and so much more.  I picked up some really cool vintage Czech glass buttons, some great fabric deals, the tools to try painting on fabrics, and the newest Kaffe Fassett book – which I had signed by the authors!   How cool 🙂

But the quilts, oh the quilts, they were incredible.  By the way – if you want to see more detail on any of these quilts, just click on the image and it will enlarge.

These first few quilts are antiques – all over 100 years old, and some closer to 200 years old.

This quilt, Petal Palette created by Jean Smith in Florida, was my favorite of the more modern quilts at the show.  I’ve included a shot of the detailed embroidery in one of the petals below.

Crocus by Maggie Weiss of Evanston, IL. I love the contrasting greens and purples in this modern design.  I need to look up more of her work, she’s just a hop, skip, and a jump away!

Grape Hyacinth and Tiny Dancer both by Margo Fiddes of Edmonton, Alberta. These are lovely, bright, and bold while impressionistically portraying the flowers.

Grid Growth by Margie Davidson of Edmonton, Alberta – (second image is closeup).  I really like the juxtaposition of the organic leaves in this quilt with the structured grids.  The embroidery work on the leaves is beautiful.

The next quilt was created by a group of twenty quilters in Canada.  They chose a painting by a Canadian artist, Anne Savage’s Saint Sauveur, and cut it up in to twenty pieces which they created independently.  Then they rejoined all of the pieces in to the quilt below – and it turned out so amazingly lovely!

Seven Steps to… By Laura Libigs Colby of Holiday Island, AK.  This quilt is more realistic than a lot of the modern quilts I liked at the show, but I love the colors used and how the leaves feel so three dimensional on the quilt.

Five Pebbles by Dianne Firth of Turner Canberra, Australia.  Ms. Firth describes her quilt as embodying the character and quality of water flowing around pebbles in a stream.  The embroidery work is just amazing.

Evening Dandies-Lions, that is!  By Leighton Taylor of Indianapolis, Indiana.  What a creative and artistic quilt!  I was pleasantly surprised by the lions’ faces in the dandelions!

Autumn Rainbow by Debbie Cimaglio of Gurnee, IL

Bridging the Gap by Robin Robboy of Decatur, GA

Focal Point by Sylvain Bergeron of Oswego, IL.  This quilt just blew me away.  It won third prize in computer aided machine embroidery.  The quilt uses five waves of color – four that start in the corners and one that starts in the middle.  You can see the different colors and how they interact in the close up images.


New Fabrics! March 31, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — jenbenbry @ 2:19 pm

I just got some new fabrics in from Hancock’s of Paducah. I’m pretty excited about them, one is a collection of fat quarters in batik blues and one is a group of springy fat quarters. I’m debating on what type of quilt to make with them. This gives me some great incentive to get the quilts for kids made!

I only got a half of a yard of this, because it was pretty pricey, but I love the colors and swirls. I'll have to save it for something special!


Quilts for Kids March 19, 2010

Filed under: Quilts in Progress — jenbenbry @ 12:26 am
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Quilts for Kids distributes quilts to kids in need — whether they be in hospitals or shelters — around the country. They supply the fabric and suggested pattern for a small-ish quilt (36-40″ x 45-46″), you supply the batting. They also encourage volunteers to contribute an additional quilt of their own to “double the number of children we are able to wrap quilts around.”

The quilt supplies for my two quilts for kids arrived while I was in Columbus! Here’s what came in the package – enough pre-cut fabric for two baby quilts and a label, with directions on making a simple quilt.

Fabrics for the Quilt


Kaffe Fassett Squares March 18, 2010

Filed under: Finished Quilts — jenbenbry @ 10:22 pm
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My next quilt project is for me!  Yay!  I received a book of Kaffe Fassett quilt designs for Christmas (Passionate Patchwork) and decided to make a small version of one of his quilts.  I love the way the squares form from the striped fabrics.  I scoured most of the Chicago quilt shops looking for striped fabrics in bright colors. I tried to vary it up in terms of size and colors.   I’m still having some trouble getting everything even, as you can see along the bottom edge of the quilt.  Any suggestions for getting things a bit more even?

Appropriately, I used Kaffe Fassett fabrics for the backing and binding. I like the contrast of the circles on the back and the squares on the front.


Wonky Blocks March 17, 2010

Filed under: Finished Quilts,Quilting Tips for Beginners — jenbenbry @ 11:50 pm
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Wow! I’ve discovered the coolest thing, wonky blocks! When you don’t feel like planning an entire quilt out and measuring everything to the millimeter, try a wonky quilt block. To make a wonky quilt block, follow the instructions on the great tutorial from Tallgrass Prairie Studios. I really enjoyed making a quilt this way, it allows a little more creativity and spontaneity in quilt making. I made this quilt for my mom’s birthday present. I’m really happy with how it turned out and it’s going to be a little hard to let it go out the door!

I used an abstract grey and back floral print on the back and a grey spotted binding

Ok, this is going to sound super basic, but I finally figured out how to machine quilt. On all of my previous quilts I’ve used simple stitch in the ditch quilting with my basic sewing foot. I read online that you can get different feet, a walking foot and an embroidery foot to help with different types of quilting. I haven’t had a chance to use the walking foot yet, it’s for straight stitching. On this quilt I tried out the embroidery foot for the first time, and WOW! It’s amazing! Two important tricks, I wasn’t sure how to attach the foot as it didn’t seem to fit in the lever mechanism, finally I figured out that there’s a screw on the left side of the sewing machine that holds the foot in place. One other important note, it’s a lot easier to use the embroidery foot when your feed dogs are not engaged (the metal with grooves under the needle that move the fabric forward). Some machines have a mechanism to raise and lower these, but mine came with a plastic piece that you snap over them. If you’re a beginning quilter, I’d highly recommend getting an embroidery foot, or borrow a friend’s and try it out.

An embroidery foot in action

Here’s Mom with the quilt, I think she likes it!


Flannel Baby Quilts March 15, 2010

Filed under: Finished Quilts,Quilting Tips for Beginners — jenbenbry @ 12:52 pm
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I created two baby quilts for newborns coming in to the family, both born in January 2010 (Olivia and Asher). I chose bright patterns with predominant hues in pink, blue, green, yellow, and violet with trim and a backing in a pretty striped flannel. I used a very simple square pattern, with the colors running diagonally across the quilt. During this quilting project I learned about the importance of correctly lining up the bias tape.

When you attach the bias binding, you sew once on the top of the quilt and once on the underside of the quilt. It took me a little time and playing around with fabric before I understood how it works, but basically you fold a 3-4 inch strip of fabric in half (with undersides together) and iron it along the long axis. Then you lay the fabric across the edge of the quilt, overlapping with the quilt front, with lined up edges. The edge of the bias tape along the edge of the quilt should be the open edge. Now, you sew a seam all the way down this edge. Next, you fold the bias fabric around to the back and sew another seam (theoretically in the same place as the first). And that’s the rub, if you sew the second seam too far in it shows up on your quilt top, but if you don’t sew it far enough in, the original seam shows on the back of the quilt. I’m working on finding that balance where neither seam shows, but I haven’t gotten there yet.

Here’s a picture of Olivia snuggling on top of her new blanket 🙂


Miniature Quilts – Star themed March 12, 2010

Filed under: Finished Quilts — jenbenbry @ 11:32 pm
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A close up of the center of the quilt, the whole thing measures only 24

Now that the baby quilts are finished and gifted to the respective babies, and the class quilt is finally done, I’m on to a new project. My mother in law, JoAnn, has a beautiful mini quilt hanging outside of her quilting room, and it inspired me to try one of my own. For my dad’s birthday I created a miniature star quilt using contrasting blues and yellows. I used Mary Graham’s pattern available here.

During this project, rather too late to use it, I discovered paper piecing. Paper piecing looks like a great way to deal with intricate patterns and small pieces. I’m not sure how it is in practice, but I’ll definitely be trying this method for my next mini quilt.

I used a balloon print for the back, my dad likes balloons!

Here's Daddy with his quilt!