Murder is Her Hobby

We are back from a trip to Virginia to visit family. While we were there we managed to squeeze in a little sight seeing. 
I really wanted to go to the Renwick to see the  Murder Is Her Hobby: Frances Glessner Lee and The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death exhibit. Murder is her Hobby consists of small 1/12th scale dioramas of actual murder scenes made by Frances Glessner Lee, the first female police captain in the US. The scenes were built in the 1940s and 50s. to help train detectives and forensic scientists and are still used today. The exhibit is the first public display of the complete series of nineteen studies still known to exist.
Each diorama had a small flashlight that you could use to study the scene. 

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The attention to detail was quite impressive. I particularly appreciated the hand knit articles.

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How about this quilt on the upper bunk bed?

murder is her hobby bunk beds.jpg

This site has some great photos with some clues and suggestions for investigators. It's all so interesting, if you are in the DC area this month I suggest you go have a look!

Whole Nine Yards - pdf pattern available

Whole Nine Yards corner

Since my quilt, Whole Nine Yards, was in issue 16 of Fat Quarterly Magazine I've been getting many requests for the pattern. 

Today is your lucky day! The pdf pattern is now available for purchase in my shop here, and on craftsy.

Whole Nine Yards PDF pattern

This queen size quilt pattern is a stunning scrap buster project. It is an original variation of a quilt block called Twinkling Star. This variation has more scrap sections and is pieced as a whole quilt rather than individual star blocks. It is the perfect project for the quilter who has a lot of scraps and loves working with small pieces of fabric.

Whole Nine Yards close up

Random Triangles

I've been working on finishing projects this fall. Here's my latest finish. 

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This quilt was made from solid charm squares. Each square was cut in half on the diagonal and randomly sewn to another triangle. 

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After the half square triangle units were made I arranged them out into rows without looking at the orientation of the seam or color placement. The result is a quilt with unexpected secondary shapes and patterns like the diamond in the lower right of the photo below. 

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This shape created by yellow triangles adds interest.

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What about this shape made from this arrangement of dark fabrics below? If I had spent time arranging and moving the squares before sewing them together I likely would have ended up with a less visually interesting quilt.

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This is the second quilt I have made using this technique and I am thrilled with both of them. You can see the first of the two quilts here.

The backing is a combination of a vintage batik I got on a trip my family took to Indonesia in 1978 and a red and white gingham. 

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This combination makes me happy. 

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Finished size 43'' by 50''.

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Tools of the Trade

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I've been getting a lot of questions about the tools I use for hand quilting, so here are some details about the tools I used when quilting this log cabin quilt.

Grip it Dots  - I stick one of this on the tip of my index finger. They make pulling the needle through the fabric much easier. 

Gutterman Quilting Thread - my thread of choice for hand quilting. It is strong and has a finish that makes it easy to thread through the needle and pull through the fabric. I love the look of the stitches is creates. 

Roxanne Betweens - I use size 10 betweens by Roxanne. They are strong and have an easy to thread eye and the tip works well for stacking stitches on the needle. 

Roxanne marking pencil in white - this is the marking pencil I use for dark fabrics it rubs off easily. 

Verithin Silver colored pencil - this pencil works well on light fabrics and rubs off easily.

Gingher Stork Scissors - I love these little scissors for snipping threads. 

Thimble - I have had this thimble for more then 30 years. I've looked for another like it but without success. Here's one that is very similar. Make sure to find one that fits snug on your finger. 

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Hand Quilting - a new adventure with an old friend

Back in September my friend and quilting mentor, Gwen Marston, gave me a most precious gift. Gwen is well, but said she's having a little bit of arthritis and needs to back off hand quilting. She is using her trusty old Singer machine for quilting her quilts now and has passed her quilting frame to me. She purchased the frame in the 1970s, and said this about it, "The legs that hold the quilting boards were made by the husbands of the Mennonite quilters that taught me to hand quilt and all of my quilts have gone through that frame since day one. In my work that frame was indispensable!"  She said giving me her quilt frame is like The Changing of the Guard and so now it's my turn.

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In this frame, the whole quilt is stretched flat between the boards. First the backing, then the batting, and the quilt top is layered and pinned on top. 

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You quilt what you can reach from the edge and then roll the quilt on the end bar and reclamp it to stitch the next area.

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As you quilt, the frame takes up less space in the room. The parts that you have quilted are hidden from view until the whole quilt is finished. 

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I quilted this quilt with free drawn fans and purposely wanted them to look unique and not like they were drawn with a template. As I was progressing on the quilt I feared that my repeated markings had gotten too even and I worried it would look too controlled. On the last few passes I really tried to make them look like fans but not all the same. 

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Unrolling the quilt for a full view was quite exciting! The quilt looks strangely tiny in this photo. 

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This is the first in what I hope will be many quilts stitched sitting at this frame. I love the slower pace of hand quilting. It allows me time to think about all the joys in my life, to plan family activities, and even ponder upcoming quilts. I also have been listening to recorded books while stitching. 

Thank you, Gwen, for trusting me with this treasure.

Unconventional and Unexpected

Last week I started a quilt based on this one on page 35 of Roderick Kiracofe's Unconventional and Unexpected.

The original quilt is made with polyester double knit fabrics. I started with this selection of cotton fabrics from my stash and a few others added later and some thrift store shirts that were cut up.

Unconventional and Unexpected 1.jpg

The blocks alternate between plain and string pieced. I tried to keep the string pieced blocks looking "chunky" like the ones in the original quilt.

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I started off with a "random" placement of the blocks.

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I really wasn't thrilled with the layout I had so I went back to study the original. On closer study I noticed that the original quilt had like fabrics clumped together. My guess is that the quilt was made stitched together as the blocks were cut. When one fabric ran out another was started. I tried rearranging my blocks and was much happier with the result.

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I have it all sewn together now and while I'm waiting to get king size batting I'm thinking about how I will quilt it. 

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Old School Sewing Workshop

Last week six students attended a three day workshop in my local studio.

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It was great fun! All students sewed on featherweights, a couple brought their own, the rest used mine. We learned a lot about sewing small. 

I also did a little featherweight maintenance lesson. 

It was lovely to have talented quilters sewing away in the studio. I hope I can host another one soon. Let me know if you and some friends are interested.