On behalf of my blogging sisters, I want to start with a huge thank you to all our readers–we hit 100,000 views in our anniversary month. Thank you, thank you and keep coming!
In my quilting life simplicity always trumps complication and that’s probably why I’ve got a taste for books and patterns for making modern quilts. Sure I love paradigm-shifting bravura quilts, but if I’m going to buy a how-to I’m going to choose something that promises easier satisfaction. For me, minimalism is welcome therapy: a lot of white space, clean lines, pared-down geometry, and a dose of quirkiness. That’s why Quilting Modern: Techniques and Projects for Improvisational Quilts by Jacquie Gering and Katie Pedersen from Interweave Press is such a pleasure—and a surprise: Jacquie has been quilting actively only since 2008 and she’s scary good!
Together (well, sort of, they managed to collaborate while living separately in Chicago and Seattle) they’ve woven an interesting assortment of techniques and block formats to deliver an instructional book of 21 quilts and home décor projects. Interweave’s party line is that the duo uses “improvisational technique to make contemporary graphic quilts,” and that is certainly true, but they’ve managed to make the improvisation doable for anyone who wants to tackle the projects.
Jacquie and Katie outline the processes they used to create the quilts and offer an interesting range of construction alternatives. The goal is not so much exact reproductions, but original quilts based on their designs. I like that approach because I’m one of those students who tends to tweak class projects to suit my own ideas—I’m a show-me-the-way-and-I’ll-find-my-destination quilter. Even if your taste runs to more directed projects, Quilting Modern offers the details you’ll need as well. There are projects appropriate for all skill levels in the book and a detailed primer on quilt making essentials for the novice.
What is more the duo delivers 7 core techniques to build a modern quilt-making vernacular. They’ve tweaked familiar blocks so they dance to a new beat, but I couldn’t help seeing similarities to Gee’s Bend “housetop” variations in some of the projects in a what’s-old-is-new approach, like the Blue Ice quilt (shown below in a detail image). That’s the ultimate reality about making quilts–traditional blocks are essentially always modern, it’s how we deploy them that determines whether the quilt’s design is timeless or representative of a particular period. Coincidentally, I just read an article in the most recent issue of Traditional Home magazine about an award-winning Southern chef named Sean Brook that described his restaurant’s fare as having “historic roots with a modern disposition.” I couldn’t help thinking that the words also describe Jacquie and Katie’s take on contemporary quilting making.
And so, if your quilt making taste runs to contemporary fare, or if you have a newbie you want to lasso into the craft, Quilting Modern is a great start (and gift).
Curious to know who won the Spoonflower giveaway? Before I spill the beans, I absolutely must applaud the many intrepid commenters who wanted to jump into designing fabric–Wow! The winner of the giveaway is JoJo!
Until next time, keep those sewing machines humming!
On my list of favorite things is a fantastic little shop in Pacific Grove, CA (nestled along the Monterey/Carmel Peninsula) called Tessuti Zoo. It’s a huge burst of color in a compact space overflowing with the phenomenal creations of owner Emily Owens. “Wild and whimsical” is the perfect descriptive for the abundance of unique gifts, clothing, jewelry, art quilts, furniture, dolls, toys, books, and home décor items that can be found. It’s full of hand-made treasures!
I’m especially drawn to the “soft fabric creatures and dolls.” Each is a one-of-a-kind creation sewn by Emily and fashioned from wonderfully bright, colorful fabrics, lots of polka dots, and a punch of black and white. They’re fabulous!
Check out the two babes in the center of the next photo. They have such personality and attitude! And their hats – what style!
I’m also crazy about the selection of children’s books. Emily has an eye for choosing those titles that are a bit unique and lots of fun. I made my selection and look how it was wrapped – Emily’s artistry has no bounds!
Because her inventory is one-of-a-kind and constantly changing, Emily’s website is informational only (check it out for contact information, hours, etc.). I hope you’ll have a chance to visit in person and enjoy her art. You won’t be disappointed!
(Note: This is–as promised–the post that got “displaced” by my March Madness.)
The only collection in my house that challenges (maybe even exceeds) my fabric stash is my library of books. Cabinets and shelves; table and desk tops; even the space under my bureau—any vacant real estate is fair game for storage. I typically read about three books a week.
Then, of course, there are my books about quilting, sewing, art, and creativity. I am an unrepentant bibliophile.
Of course, with all this reading, I’m constantly reaching for something to hold my place. I recently discovered–doh!–I could make my own bookmarks. The format fits perfectly with my on-going, “30-minutes-minimum-of-creative-activity-a-day” experiment, the elongated landscape gives me a new geometry to explore, and the technique I use to make them hides all the stitching on the back for a nice, clean finish.
These little treasures are so easy to make, require little in the way of materials, and–best of all–can be customized to reflect your personal tastes and interests. They also make wonderful gifts.
To make your custom bookmark, you’ll need fabric, double-sided fusible interfacing (I used Fast2Fuse, a nifty product from C&T Publishing), scraps of fusible web (such as Lite Steam-A-Seam 2), and a variety of threads. Potential embellishment includes ribbon and/or other flat trims, fabric stamps and ink, photo transfers, charms and/or decorative buttons and beads.
1. Cut a piece of double-sided fusible interfacing to the desired finished size of your bookmark.
2. Double the finished width of your bookmark, and add 1″. Add 1″ to the finished length. Cut a piece of fabric to these measurements. (For example, for a 2 1/2″ x 8″ finished bookmark, cut the fabric 6″ x 9″). This fabric will cover both the front and back of your bookmark.
3. Turn a 1/2″ hem to the wrong side on the top edge of the fabric; press. With the fabric wrong-side up, tuck the interfacing into the hemmed edge, approximately 1/2″ from the left raw edge of the fabric.
4. Use the tip of your iron to carefully press the hem to the interfacing, avoiding the exposed interfacing. Fold over the bottom fabric edge; press to fuse. Repeat for the left edge of the fabric.
5. Turn the unit over, place it on a non-stick pressing sheet, and follow the manufacturer’s directions to fuse the fabric to the interfacing. The fused area will be the front of the bookmark.
6. Use fabric scraps and/or other flat embellishments to decorate as desired.
7. Fold the unfused fabric flap to the exposed side of the interfacing, aligning the top and bottom edges. If you’d like, insert a tail (or tails) of ribbon or trim to create a “dangler.” If desired, add a charm, beads, or decorative button.
8. Turn under the remaining raw edge 1/2″ and fuse the fabric to the interfacing. Topstitch close to the edges all around the perimeter of the bookmark with matching or contrasting thread.
The creative options for this easy little project are virtually unlimited. Here are a few more examples to (hopefully) inspire you.
Finally, I couldn’t resist adding this last one, my most recent. My dear, dear British friend (and co-author) Chris Porter, knowing what I’ve been up to, sent me a special ribbon and button in honor of Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee, which our friends across the pond are celebrating this year.
Are you ready to jump in? Well, three generous companies are making it even easier for you to get started. In a super triple giveaway, June Tailor has donated a Non-Stick Pressing Sheet, C&T Publishing has contributed a craft pack of standard weight Fast2Fuse (enough for a couple of bookmarks), and The Warm Company has added a five-sheet pack of Lite Steam-A-Seam 2! Just leave a comment by midnight (PDT), May 2, sharing the name of one of your favorite books (novel or nonfiction, including quilting, sewing, or crafting titles) and you’ll be entered in a random drawing to win all three prizes! I’ll announce the winner in my May 4 post.
A few years ago, I taught a workshop at one of my local guilds. While there I was fortunate enough to have Christine Barnes as my hostess for the duration of my visit. I think we had met briefly in passing at other quilting venues, but I never had an opportunity to spend time with her. She is a delightful lady and an accomplished quiltmaker who is passionate about color and has written a best-selling book on the subject. I learned that not only do we share a love of quiltmaking, but also both pamper ourselves with cashmere socks! Don’t ask me how we managed to move from the subject of quilting to socks, but I remember that we both slipped out of class early in order to check out the specialty sock shop located across the street from the quilt shop. What a fun day we had.
I can’t tell you how often I hear students say “I’m just not good at color.” I think it’s safe to say that many quiltmakers feel challenged in the area of color. I’ve touched on this subject before in previous posts but feel that it’s important enough to explore from another angle, so to speak. I always enjoy learning how different quilters deal with the same subject. I always learn something new and hope you will feel the same after reading this interview I had with Christine. Enjoy!
What is your background in color and design?
I’m often asked how I got into teaching and writing about color for quilters. Like almost every other quilter, I began sewing when I was very young. (One of my more “memorable” projects was a doll quilt filled with cotton balls, because when I asked my grandmother what was inside a quilt, she said, “cotton.”) Degrees in textile and costume design and magazine journalism led to a career writing books on color, decorating, remodeling, and soft furnishings for Sunset Books, as well as four quiltmaking books, and tech editing many more. My latest book, The Quilter’s Color Club(C&T), was released in spring 2011. I’ve been published in a number of quilt magazines, including American Quilter (Jan. 2012), American Patchwork & Quilting (Oct. 2011), McCall’s Quilting (Jan./Feb. 2012), Threads, and Fabrications, a British quilting magazine. I feel lucky to be able to do what I love for a living.
From my teaching experience, I feel that color is one of the most challenging aspects of quiltmaking for many quilters. Do you agree and if so why?
Yes, most quilters feel challenged, sometimes overwhelmed, by color, but that’s because they haven’t had any real exposure to basic color concepts. Without the opportunity to learn, it’s hard to grow in your use of color. The good news is that a sense of color can be learned through observation and experimentation. There ARE rules, and they really work! I like to say that it’s more about practice than talent.
What is your advice to students who would like to improve their color choices?
Consider getting together with a small group and starting a “color club.” Then begin to work with the basics—value, temperature, intensity, and the color wheel—and analyze and critique each other’s work. A small group gives motivated, like-minded quilters a place to study, experiment, share, and discover new ways to think about and work with color. You’ll see your work evolve, I guarantee.
Note: Christine’s book gives guidelines and helpful hints for starting a color club. The terms (value, temperature and intensity) may be new to some of you so I asked Christine to share her definitions along with some images.
Value is about the lightness or darkness of colors. She typically describes value as light, medium, or dark, but of course, there are endless variations.
Temperature is about how warm or cool colors appear. Yellows, reds, and oranges are considered warm; blues, greens and violets are thought to be cool (red-violet and yellow-green can be either, depending on other colors in the mix.)
Intensity has to do with the brightness or dullness of colors.
How do you approach a new project? Do you have a pattern in mind, a color scheme, or perhaps a collection of fabrics?
Sometimes it’s a desire to play with a certain color or colors—I have my current favorites—or a new fabric that I just have to have. Right now I’m working with a lot of solids, especially shot cottons. I’m always buying fabric without a project in mind, just because the color is wonderful. Then when I’m putting together a new quilt, I have what I need and love.
If there was one piece of advice you could offer our readers who are interested in improving their color choices, what would it be?
Keep working! Make mock-blocks, quick cut-and-paste color studies, to see how the colors and patterns interact. You just can’t predict how one fabric will play against another until they’re cut into pieces and placed side by side. Usually, if something isn’t working, it’s a value issue—the lightness or darkness of color. I tell my students that “value does all of the work, and color gets all of the credit.” Also consider “magic fabrics,” those that have a sense of light coming from underneath the surface or from the side. These fabrics are the secret ingredient in transparency, luminosity, and luster.
Do you ever get “stuck” on a project? If so, what do you do to work through it?
Oh yes, I get stuck. But I take concrete steps to make something work, auditioning fabric after fabric in mock-blocks or on my design wall. I pin up fabrics and look at them throughout the day. I work with the values in a block to make the design “read” and create the illusion of depth. If the fabrics are mostly warm, I balance them with cooler colors. To a muted scheme, I add a fabric with bits of intense color to liven it up. And if I’m still stuck, I try fabrics I think might not work, because they often do. (This is especially true when choosing a border fabric.) Working, really working, with color stretches you, and you’ll see the results in quilts that you love!
To read more about Christine, learn about her workshops, books, and patterns, visit her website, where you can sign up for her color newsletter, Christine’s Color Connection, and learn about her “Magic Fabrics, Special Effects” retreat at Lake Tahoe in June.
Many thanks to Christine for sharing her expertise in color. Thanks also to our good friends at C&T Publishing who have donated a copy of Christine’s book for one lucky reader…and Christine has autographed it. Just let us know by end of day Friday, April 27 why you would like to receive a copy. I will announce the winner in my next post on Tuesday, May 1.
I don’t know if I need another complication to add to my crazy crafting life, but I’ve got to spread the news about a fabulous newish resource because I know we’ve got readers who, if they haven’t dabbled yet, will certainly leap into this creative adventure . . . especially when they take a gander at the contest the website is co-sponsoring.
Do you know you can have your own designs printed on fabric? Now I’m not talking about dyeing techniques or any other DIY processes. I’m talking about commissioning your own printed yardage. Isn’t that fabulous?
The company that’s getting a lot of attention in the crafting/quilting/sewing communities for print-your-own fabric is Spoonflower, the brainchild of a crafty mom and her high-tech husband who partnered with some other clever people to start a web-based custom-fabric printing service.
All you need to do is download your design to their website and place your order. They’ve got lots of fabric types to choose from and, this is very cool, you can even sell your print via the Spoonflower Marketplace. Yes, there are bunches of things you need to know before you jump in, but that’s all available on their website.
While I’m not an expert, I do know a couple of Spoonflower cognoscenti:
Spoonflower actually crossed my orbit a couple of years ago, but their business concept didn’t really click with me until one of our subscribers, Sandra Bruce, an art quilter who also happens to be a fantastic illustrator, shared two very pretty prints she’d just commissioned at Spoonflower. Sandra’s creative life has taken some interesting twists and turns, which she shares via her websites. You can clearly see her dazzling signature style in her prints.
Then, in an interesting See How We Sew coincidence, that print we used for our group challenge—Fly Away from Amy Schimler—debuted on Spoonflower. Amy is a fabric designer for Robert Kaufman Fabrics, but Fly Away started as a bird print that she auditioned on Spoonflower before the line was expanded for production at Kaufman. Amy writes about her creative pursuits in a blog called Red Fish Circle.
Right now Robert Kaufman Fabrics and Spoonflower are running a fabric-designing contest. The deadline is imminent, but the challenge is fantastic and the prize . . . an incredible opportunity to become a fabric designer! Robert Kaufman’s blog has a link to an inspiration page on Pinterest–take a look if you’d like to take on the contest. Now that one is pretty intense, so if your tastes run to smaller-scale competitions, visit the Spoonflower contest page for their weekly creative challenges. And yes, there’s more: how about a chance at a Spoonflower giveaway here at See How We Sew?
In closing, I thought I’d add another clicking opportunity to this link-bedazzled post—here’s a Spoonflower Marketplace fabric line that is sublime for those with stellar tastes–makes me want to jump on a spaceship! In the immortal words of Star Trek’s Spock–live long and prosper fabric fans (& enter the giveaway)!
The Easter eggs have been found and the tax returns are filed (?), so it’s time for the April block of the month. Darra has created a masterpiece using fabrics from the Leila Rose collection by Alex Anderson for P&B Textiles. It’s a charming line in soft, fresh colors featuring floral prints, stripes, paisleys and a punch of color in the polka dots. Here’s a look at a sampling of the yummy fabrics in the collection:
Here’s Darra’s April block made exclusively with Leila Rose fabrics:
And here are my two blocks for April:
Isn’t it interesting how different our blocks look based on where we choose to place our fabrics (especially the accent colors)? They don’t even look like the same pattern – fascinating! Click here to download the instruction sheet for the April block. And if you’re new to the project, the instruction sheets for the January-March blocks and the setting diagram can be found in our Pattern Library. It’s not too late to join the party!
Lastly, thanks to everyone who shared their “favorites” in our fabric selection challenge. Congratulations to Susan! Your entry was selected via random drawing as the giveaway winner from our April 3rd group post.
When I was living in the North Carolina mountains, and my quilting friends and I were in need of a little “uptown infusion,” we hopped in the car for the scenic, 90-mile journey to Asheville. Although small by some reckoning (population approximately 85,000), this historic and architecturally rich little city, nestled in the lovely French Broad River valley, is also amazingly artist friendly, abounding in galleries, studios, and other inspiring destinations.
As a result of this welcoming atmosphere, the Asheville area is home to a large community of working artists, many of whom choose fiber as their medium. Among them are the members of PTA (Professional Textile Artists), an invitational fiber-arts group that meets monthly for critique, support, inspiration, and camaraderie. You’ll probably recognize some of the names: Mary Berry, Georgia Bonesteel, Connie Brown, Linda Cantrell, Gen Grundy, Lynne Harrill, Dort Lee, Janice Maddox, Cathy Nieman, Judy Simmons, Mary Stori, Barbara Swinea, Leigh Anne Tierney, and Kate Weston.
The group first came together about 20 years ago, and has evolved naturally in membership and purpose. The monthly meetings follow no particular agenda, although Show and Tell is a staple, and ideas and opinions flow freely. When asked to describe the group in three words, member Barbara Swinea–without hesitation–volunteered “talkative, adventurous, and prolific.”
Prolific, indeed. Besides producing their individual work, the members of PTA have adopted the “sort-of-annual” group challenge as a vehicle to spur motivation and inspire creativity. Past challenges have included Piping, Fiber-glass, and Sunrise/Sunset (which took third place in the Group Challenge category at the 2011 AQS Show in Knoxville.)
Their most recent challenge, titled Inspired By, made a highly successful debut at the 2012 Mid-Atlantic Quilt Festival in Hampton, VA. For this challenge, each quilt artist created a wall quilt inspired by the work of a two-dimensional, non-quilt artist. The finished piece could be either vertical or horizontal in orientation and measure approximately 24″ x 30″.
So, inspired by the work of Paul Klee…
…Janice Maddox created Tis the Gift.
Inspired by the work of Pablo Picasso…
…Linda Cantrell created Discordant.
Inspired by the work of Sewell Sillman……Lynne Harrill created Contours.
Inspired by the work of Wassilly Kandinsky……Cathy Nieman created Sunnyside Up.
Inspired by the work of Martin Johnson Heade…
…Judy Simmons created Hummingbird Magic.
Inspired by the work of Bansky…
…Mary Stori created Wash Day.
Fabulous, aren’t they? You can see more of this fantastic exhibit by visiting Windy Hill Happenings, Judy Simmons’s delightful blog; in the future, keep your eyes open for future exhibits by this talented group. Oh…and if you find yourself in the Asheville area, be sure to stop by the Folk Art Center, located at milepost 382 on the Blue Ridge Parkway. The Folk Art Center features the work of the Southern Highland Craft Guild, a juried collective of 900+ artisans from the Appalachian Mountain regions of nine Southeastern states that includes some members of the PTA.
That’s it for now. My thanks to Mark File, at Romantic Asheville, for permission to use the photo of The Folk Art Center, and to Mary Stori for the Inspired By images. Thanks also to The Biltmore Company for use of the Biltmore image; the annual Festival of Flowers opens there this weekend.
For those of you who received our earlier draft, apologies! We hit that “publish” button a bit prematurely. This one is the real thing, and we’ve got lots to share. First up: this month, See How We Sew marks its first anniversary (!), and we’ve got a month-long celebration planned to recognize this exciting milestone. In addition to our regular posts, we’ll have all kinds of news, updates, and of course–special giveaways.
Over the past year, many of you have told us that you enjoy our different styles and “voices,” so to kick off the month, we thought it would be fun to issue ourselves a group fabric challenge to see just how different we really are. We each began with a fat quarter of the same fabric. Our assignment: Choose six fabrics to go with it. For our focus fabric, we selected a large-scaled, daisy-bedecked Robert Kaufman print from the Fly Away collection by Amy Schimler.
As you’ll see, some of us were better at sticking to the “rules” than others, but that’s what makes us who we are! Here goes:
Jennifer’s Selections: My first thought when I saw the theme fabric was to pull in black-and-white prints and then select a few bright-toned ones that called to the main colors in the theme fabric: ultramarine blue, green, and pink. I took a drive to Wooden Gate Quilts, one of my fave local fabric haunts in Danville, CA, and pulled likely candidates with my friend, Kim Butterworth. Once we whittled down the choices, we surveyed the shop’s color mavens, including Margaret Linderman (a living, breathing work-of-art whom we all emulate because she’s so fabulous!), Robin Olvera, and Cyndy Rymer. Violá! I like the result, especially that whimsical Amy Butler print on the bottom of the pile.
Jennifer’s fabrics, from the top: Michael Miller – from the Secret Gardencollection by Sandi Henderson; Robert Kaufman – from the Pimatex Basics collection; Free Spirit – from the Early Birdscollection by Jane Sassaman; Moda – from the Twirl collection by Me & My Sister Designs; and Rowan Fabric – from the Lark collection by Amy Butler.
Christie’s Selections: I loved both the pattern and the colors in our theme fabric, so I went into my stash to search for companion pieces. It wasn’t difficult! I have an obscene collection of green and pink fabrics, and polka dots are a mild obsession, so it’s pretty easy to see what path I took. I know there are lots of dots, but I couldn’t help myself. (I did make an effort to vary the scale of the prints). Two of my selections are Kaffe Fassett designs (he’s one of my idols).
Christie’s fabrics, clockwise from the top: Westminster Fibers - Big Bloomsby Kaffe Fassett; Free Spirit - from the McKenzie collection by Dena Designs; P&B Textiles- from the Pop Parade collection by Metro; RowanFabric – from the Soul Blossomscollection by Amy Butler; Art Gallery Fabrics – from the Girly Girlcollection; Rowan Fabric - Spot by Kaffe Fassett.
Laura’s Selections: This was an easy challenge as I generally start with a focus or inspiration fabric when working on a new project. With the exception of one print that I pulled from my stash, I found my companion fabrics at three California quilt shops: Back Porch Fabrics (Pacific Grove), The Cotton Patch (Lafayette), and Thimble Creek (Concord). My only difficulty was limiting my selection to six prints. I love scrap quilts, so for me, the more the better. I look for a variety of prints from tone-on-tone to multicolored in varying scales (small to large) and textures (dots, geometrics, checks, etc.), as well as value (light to dark). If I were making a quilt or block, this selection would most likely be a starting point; I would add more during the process.
Laura’s fabrics, from left to right: Westminster Fibers – Aboriginal Dotsby Kaffe Fassett; Rowan – from theSoul Blossoms collection by Amy Butler; Robert Kaufman – from the Fiestacollection by Jennifer Sampou; Westminster Fibers – Spots by Kaffe Fassett; Troy Corporation - from the Line 5collection by Marcia Derse; and unknown – this is from my stash and the selvage is missing.
Darra’s Selections: This was a tough assignment for me. It’s not unusual for me to use 100 or more fabrics in a quilt, so narrowing my choices to six was a real challenge. (It wasn’t until I got home that I realized that I had overshot my target by one.) Also, I rarely ever start with a focus fabric. Know what? I discovered that basically the same ingredients apply; that is, a good mix of colors, values, and types of prints. I was especially attracted by the playful interaction of the hot pinks and yellow greens with the sophisticated gray background in our challenge fabric, so that determined my direction. I had a great time fondling the bolts at In Between Stitches in Livermore, CA, one of my favorite area quilt shops.
Darra’s fabrics, from left to right: Michael Miller – from the Backyard Baby collection by Patty Sloniger; Moda – from the Reunion collection by Sweetwater; Moda – from the Little Apples collection by Aneela Hoey; Marcus Fabrics – from the Bundle of Jungle collection by Laura Berringer; Marcus Fabrics – from the Bundle of Jungle collection by Laura Berringer; Moda – from the Reunion collection by Sweetwater; Moda – from the Marble Swirls (Moda Basics) collection.
That’s our part for today. Now, since this is a celebration, we’d like you to be part of it too. Tell us which of the four palettes is your favorite. Leave a comment by end of day Sunday, April 8, and you’ll be entered in a drawing for the adorable (and appropriate!) Queen of the Party pattern from The Quilted Fish, along with a packet of four coordinating fat quarters. The winner will be announced in Christie’s April 10 (Block of the Month) post.