Tuesday, May 7, 2013
Friday, May 3, 2013
YEAH... 121 pineapple blocks are sewn and now on to the fun bit- arranging them! Special thanks to my QuiltCoach whose care package arrived just in time to include some lovely green and white striped fabric. Now I just need to get my handsome "assistant" out of the garden this weekend, off to Home Depot and then into my sewing room, so I can put these babies up on new design walls...
Tuesday, April 30, 2013
Anna Williams (1927-2012) was a self-taught quilter from Baton Rouge, Louisiana who can rightfully be called the mother of improvisational quilting. She sewed all of her quilts with no rulers or rotary cutters and made beauty out of the most seemingly discordant scraps of fabric. Her quilts are breathtaking and have influenced an enormous number of contemporary quilters of note including Nancy Crow. This publication is very small as it was produced for an exhibition of her work.
Thursday, April 18, 2013
Wanted to write something thoughtful about this week's events but words fail. Will cling to the belief that the good people on this earth outnumber the bad...
A relatively trivial subject that I can write about is the issue of a permanent design wall. Unfortunately, the perimeter of my sewing space is filled with storage cabinets. While I greatly admire Katie's solution, M. is quite adamant that my creative process not be on display in our living room and other shared parts of the house.
Am very excited to report that Glorious Color is selling grey and gridded design wall flannel! Some designers think it is easier to look at color against a neutral rather than white which can be a bit distracting. Hopefully this weekend, the fabric will be wrapped around this pink stuff:
The fabric-covered insulation boards will then be mounted to these three:
4x8' very sturdy wheeled department store fixtures that we found for $20 at a retailer that was being replaced by a Target. You could make something similar with partition walls from an office supply store. The new design walls will be portable and double-sided. They can roll where needed and I can still access my supplies... Can't wait! Do you use a design wall and if so how did you make it???
Saturday, April 13, 2013
Thanks to the lovely garment sewing guru Ann, I have a new television show to watch. The "Great British Sewing Bee" airs in the UK but can be found easily through a search online. It is a reality show that attempts to find the best sewer in Britain. The format is similar to Project Runway. While I used to love PR it has become increasingly less about design or even technical skill and more about airing various personality disorders in the most unpleasant way possible. In each episode of GBSB, the contestants who range in age from their 20's to 80's perform fairly complex challenges. In the last episode (#2), they have to construct a men's pair of pants, embellish a ready-to-wear skirt and sew a shirt out of very slippery silk while working against the clock. The judges are truly knowledgeable. One is a Savile Row tailor and the other a college level construction instructor. While not the most dramatic show in the world, watching it is fun and informative. Here is a link for the first episode...
Thursday, April 11, 2013
Thursday, April 4, 2013
Just finished watching the best online course with quilt author and fabric designer extraordinaire Sarah Fielke on Craftsy. Her class is called "Big Techniques from Small Scraps". Ten hours of HD instruction later, I've learned all kinds of interesting quilting techniques such as step-down piecing, applique, improvisational piecing specifically curves, big stitching and some fascinating ways to use specialty rulers. Sarah is a super teacher as she is very clear and precise but never dry. It was so great to be able to watch this at any time and in any attire. The price of the course varies depending on the site's specials but is an absolute bargain compared to flying to Australia or Houston to take a class with her in person. There are lively discussions after each lesson and students are encouraged to ask questions and post pictures of their work. You can also watch the course over and over again. I've been too busy to make the class assignments so am going to repeat the lessons this time sewing along. You can sign up here.
In a strange synchronicity, her new book which I pre-ordered months ago arrived today..
As I expected "Hand Quilted With Love" is filled with beautiful quilts all made in Sarah's distinctive style which can best be described as clean and fresh. There are a variety of skill-building projects and like her online course the instructions and technical information are outstanding. She includes directions to make all the projects in multiple sizes and encourages you to use what fabric you have. I've had medallion quilts on the brain for ages after seeing the quilts being made at Bloomin Workshop and more recently the tea towel challenge at 15 Minutes Play. The book's cover quilt "Made to Measure" has already spawned a sew-along organized by Lynne at LilyQuilts. You can see her beautiful top in progress. It is going to be a stunner.
Here is Sarah's original quilt...
And below another great medallion quilt that grew around a cherished piece of vintage fabric...
And for something different, LOVE the striped background on this one!
One of the many things I adore about Sarah Fielke is her dislike of labels. She considers herself both a modern and traditional quilter. The book is filled with lots of visual inspiration even if you never sew from other people's patterns. You can purchase her wonderful "Hand Quilted With Love" here and read more about the artist herself here.
Wednesday, March 27, 2013
After my last rather wordy post am going to keep it short today... A great site to look for inspiration and the best gifts ever is 1st Dibs a place that self-proclaims to advertise "the most beautiful things on earth" for sale. I have little interest in the fantasy real estate but often comb through looking for interesting objects and art. The timeless Bull's Eye beauty above was made in 1880 and is definitely ripe for reinterpretation. You can read more about this quilt and even purchase it here...
Saturday, March 23, 2013
Pamela Allen "Tooth Fairy"
This week I was thrilled to take a workshop with the renowned Pamela Allen. Pamela is a widely internationally exhibited and awarded textile artist who after 3 nominations was also elected Teacher Of The Year in 2012 by the International Association for Professional Quilters. She was a painter for years before switching to fabric to create her highly distinctive works.
The course I took is her introductory "Fantastic Fabric Faces". Here is the workshop description:
"Here’s a unique way to use those fabrics with large prints in small art quilts. Pamela will demonstrate a fabric collage technique that uses the shapes in large prints....such as those from sarong batiks, large linear prints or floral fantasy fabrics....as components of a portrait face. A curling vine becomes an eye, a circle becomes a chin. Emphasis in this class will be on the creative process with less fussing about sewing techniques and traditional quilting methods."
Below is my quilt in progress. Pamela made us work very fast, improvisationally and let our subconscious dictate the imagery. Our friend Karen aptly described the process as very Jungian. My figure ended up being a woman holding a bouquet of flowers and snakes. Am not sure what it means...
We used a variety of fabrics and prints to create a head and shoulder image using the scissors as a drawing tool. We combed through our fabric scraps to look for prints that were reminiscent of facial features. When pleased with the arrangement of the fabrics we used school glue sticks to adhere the shapes to the background although in a home setting I would definitely use re-positional spray adhesive.
My quilt is not remotely finished. There is too much orange showing in the figure and she needs some clothing to break that up. I have to finish the bouquet, work on the hair and something needs to be happening to the left of her. When happy with the design, I'll sew down down all the shapes with embroidery floss using a simple ladder or zig zag stitch. Pamela uses three strands and chooses colors that complement or contrast with the fabrics. Her technique adds a really graphic texture to the work.
Once all the shapes are attached and the embroidery is finished, the quilt will be machine quilted and then embellished with to quote Pamela "anything and everything that may add decorative qualities or augment the theme that has developed". She is a big fan of the Dremel rotary tool and uses it to drill holes in the most unimaginable and unlikely objects to adorn her quilts. The effect is playful rather than tacky. Pamela dislikes echo type quilting or stippling. She recommends that you quilt images into the work that are related to the subject matter. In her own pieces, this complex quilting personalizes the quilts and offers hidden symbolism and depth. Below are a few finds from the dollar store that may find their way into my quilt...
It was a super day on many levels made more special by the fact that my husband decided to take his first ever quilt class with me! M. works in film and television so is a very visual person but is decidedly not a sewer. Since there was no machine and just scissors and glue he felt confident to give art quilting a try. Here is his piece and of course it too is nowhere finished. Apparently there is going to be an abstract collection of musical instruments next to the figure. I'm pretty impressed with his effort. While often maddening M is never boring and he is always open to trying new things. I am though a little worried that in the interest of shared activities, he will now expect me to learn to skate and play hockey...
Here is my experiment:
His fragment from Matisse's "Woman With A Veil"...
If you ever get the opportunity you must take a class with Pamela Allen. She is teaching mainly in Europe this year but her online classes are supposed to be amazing. We'll definitely be looking into taking at least one of them. She also produced a few years ago a DVD called "Think Like An Artist" which is a reasonable substitute for taking a workshop with her. Can't express how great a day we had. Have you ever met someone truly and infectiously happy? This woman glows with vitality and joy. She is so much fun and we can all only hope to grow up to be just a bit like her...
I leave you with my favorite Pamela Allen motto of the day:
"In all you do, be fearless!"
"Fish and Chips"
Friday, March 15, 2013
Just as I expected, my pineapple quilt is becoming a bit of an endurance test. It was suggested that I sew blocks together as I finish them but this is too dangerous a proposition. Am already looking at the completed ones and thinking that they would make a great crib quilt or table runner and placemats. After all, a white-based quilted item is always practical for babies and food :(( !!##$@!!!
Another issue is that for some strange mathematical reason (read miscalculation), I am making 122 blocks so am struggling a bit with the layout. To actually use on a bed- the rectangular shape is a better bet but to look at- the square one seems more appealing right now. What is keeping me going is that the finished blocks look pretty good and I do want to prove to myself that I can show some discipline and complete this quilt...
Wednesday, March 6, 2013
While leaning toward the modern, the more I quilt the more I'm drawn to antique and vintage quilts many of which are timeless in design. Am at the mind-numbing stage of sewing my Pineapple blocks and have been perusing images of FINISHED quilts to spur myself on. Since the pineapple is really only a variation, I've been looking at lots of inspiring Log Cabin Quilts. While we tend to associate this pattern with early settlers of the United States and Canada, it can apparently be found in all sorts of ancient cultures including those from the Middle East, Africa and Europe.
In North American quilts, the center square is traditionally red to evoke the hearth of the home. With the winter we've had, I can only imagine how central its warmth must have been and am in awe of these people who not only survived but flourished in what must have been freezing and drafty homes.
There are innumerable settings for the this block. Straight Furrow, Streak of Lightning, Sunshine & Shadow, Barn Raising and Pinwheels are just a few of the Log Cabin variations.
What is fascinating about the Log Cabin block is that it looks beautiful made in any kind of fabrics from silk to the most humble scraps. It is amazing how modern some of these quilts look. The following two images are both of antique quilts in the same setting. (Incidentally, all of these quilts are for sale on Ebay from this amazing vendor.)
Since I'm trying to devote most of my textile book shelf space with few exceptions to books about antique, art and modern exhibition or museum quilts, I'm really excited about the rise of e-books for patterns. What a space saver! If you are interested in making a Log Cabin quilt, Fons & Porter has a great e-book available on their website. It has patterns and setting instructions for all the variations mentioned in this post and some unique ones too. As well, it contains some gorgeous shots of antique and vintage quilts. The book can be downloaded for free here.
Wednesday, February 20, 2013
It was so interesting to read that so many of you look to old quilts for inspiration for your own work. I thought I'd share a few images to be found in "Through the Needle's Eye" which is a catalogue of the York Museum in England's quilt collection. It is my latest favorite book of vintage quilts most of which were sewn in the 1880 to 1900's. In its pages, you can really see where Kaffe Fassett among other designers in the UK developed some of their prints. As for the giveaway, according to the The Random Number Generator the winner is the crazily talented Sujata. If you have never visited her blog you must. Everything she makes is amazing! Sujata please email me with your coordinates. Thank you so much to everyone who left a comment. I admire all of you immensely...