Tuesday, April 30, 2013

score...



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.




It is very rare and often commands enormous prices. Nifty told me that there was a movement to get the book republished and expanded but so far with no luck. As you can imagine, I was thrilled to find a copy crazily underpriced. It is a privilege to own and I pore over it every day since it found its way to me. It is definitely on the list of things I would grab in a fire... You can find lots of breathtaking shots of Anna William's work online and read more about her here. A simple Google search turns up tons of gorgeous quilts inspired by her and made by modern quilters such as this onethis one, and this beauty by Nifty herself.  I would love to have met A.W. and seen her artistry in action...




Thursday, April 18, 2013

design wall...


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

new TV show...


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

enough already...



Well I am a little bitter today. This is what was happening earlier in the week in the garden:




And today this. The bird makes it look prettier than the reality...



Thursday, April 4, 2013

non-stop sarah fielke...



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...


"Made to Measure"

And below another great medallion quilt that grew around a cherished piece of vintage fabric...


"Lady Marmalade"

And for something different, LOVE the striped background on this one!



"All That and the Hatter"

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.