Just a quick reminder that Quilting in the Garden at Alden Lane Nursery is happening this weekend, Sept. 27-28 from 9-4. If you are in the area or looking for an inspirational day-trip, I encourage you to join us. You won’t be disappointed. Click here for information and directions.
The quilt show will be wonderful, with over 250 works of art hanging “clothesline style” from the majestic, old oak trees. Quilts include those made by yours truly and my dear friend Diana McClun, Jean Wells and the Quilts of Sisters, Oregon and several others made by local quilters.
As lovely as the show is, I’ve always felt that it is the icing on the cake. The gardens, nursery, and gift shop are like none other. It is a dangerous shopping experience as I always find several treasures, perfectly timed for early holiday shopping.
Please, please join us and be sure to stop by to say hi. We will be located under one of the large oak trees. Also keep an eye open for one of our local celebs, she may be hiding among the garden art!
Ahh, apples and pumpkins and baking, oh my! Happy Fall everyone.
If you are joining us in making the Quilt-Along, you may find the following tips helpful when attaching the birdhouse opening (circles) and blackbirds to the corner birdhouses. The template patterns for both shapes are included in the Pattern Pages. If you are new to our site, it’s not too late to start as you will find all instructions included in the Pattern Pages.
I used a fusible web product (there are many available) to secure the shape to the background fabric. Then, I stitched around the edges of the shapes and added the details (eyes & wings) with hand embroidery stitches. Either embroidery floss (2 strands) or perle cotton will work well in this application. I opted for perle cotton as I like the heavier look it provides and it also forms a nice edging along the outline of the shapes.
Here’s What You’ll Need:
1/4 yard of fusible web
Perle cotton, No. 8 or embroidery floss (I used perle cotton)
Small embroidery scissors
Marking pencil to transfer stitching lines
1. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions that accompany the fusible web to trace, cut, and attach the circles and birds to the Birdhouse blocks.
2. Use a decorative embroidery stitch, such as a blanket stitch, as shown, to secure the edges of the shapes to the background fabric.
3. Lightly mark the stitching lines onto the right side of the birds. Then stitch along the lines with a decorative stitch such as the stem stitch, as shown here.
4. The beak, legs, and feather lines were stitched with long basting-type stitches.
That completes the Birdhouse blocks. Be sure to check back for final assembly instructions.
Just a reminder that Quilting in the Garden at Alden Lane Nursery in Livermore, CA is coming up in just a few short weeks. If you are in the area, sure hope to see you there!
This week it’s my turn to share my contribution to our Quilt-Along project, Blackbirds and Blossoms, Oh-La-La! If you have been following along with us, these pieces will complete the center of the quilt top. If you are newcomer to this fun group project, it’s certainly not too late to start. All of the instructions can be found in our Pattern Pages. Please join the fun!
I was given the task of designing a block for the corners of the quilt. The center floral designs seemed to call for the addition of birds. With this in mind, the idea of creating birdhouses to fit into the corners provided the perfect setting for a quartet of simple, whimsical birds. This is a super-easy-to-construct birdhouse block and it adds a nice corner element to the center floral medallion.
Here’s what you will need to make four Birdhouses:
House front: Four 6-1/2″ x 10-1/2″ pieces
House top: One 11-1/4″ square. Cut the square twice into quarters diagonally to yield four triangles.
Roof: Two 1-3/4″ x 42″ strips. Cut the strips to make four 1-3/4″ x 9-1/4″ pieces and four 1-3/4″ x 10-1/4″ pieces.
Background: Two 13″ squares. Cut each square twice into quarters diagonally to yield eight triangles.
1. Sew a Background triangle to each short side of the House Front pieces, aligning the bottom edges.
2. Use your cutting tools to remove the excess Background and straighten the top edge, as shown.
3. Sew a 1-3/4″ x 9-1/4″ piece of Roof fabric to one short side of the House Top triangle. Then use the 45-degree angle marking on the ruler to cut the excess fabric even with the bottom edge of the House Top.
4. Sew a 1-3/4″ x 10-1/4″ piece of Roof fabric to the adjoining short side of the House Top triangle. Then use the 45-degree angle marking on the ruler to cut the excess fabric, as shown. This completes the top half of the Birdhouse.
5. Join the top and bottom sections together, matching seams where the House Front and House Top pieces intersect.
6. Press the seam in the direction of the bottom half of the birdhouse.
Easy enough? Yes, of course! Please join me on Friday as I give instructions and hints for adding the Birdhouse opening as well as the birds.
Christine Barnes joins us again today to share her thoughts on the role of color and value in creating the illusion of depth and layering in quilts. Click here if you missed Part 1.
“Value does all of the work, and color gets all of the credit.”
The adage is a bit overstated, but it’s true: We think first of color when planning a quilt, but value is often what makes a quilt successful, or not. In my second guest post, I’d like to show how this basic concept works in my quilts, and encourage you to consider it when working on your own quilt designs.
A bit of background: I majored in design at UC Davis, and I took a color class, but honestly, all I remember was painting a gray scale and making a color wheel out of construction paper. A few years later, when Sunset Books asked me to write a chapter on color for a decorating book, I had a full-blown panic attack. I recovered enough to call my uncle, a Mendocino artist who taught color for years. With intensive instruction from him, I learned not only about color, but that a “good color sense” is more about practice than talent. Fast forward to 2014, sixteen books later (four quilt books and twelve books for Sunset), and I am happily immersed in all things color and quilts.
Teaching workshops has taught me even more about color, especially the importance of value, the lightness or darkness of color.
Value has two important roles in quilt design: First, it creates a sense of depth. In piecing/patchwork, light values generally recede and dark values advance. The exception is appliqué, where shapes are applied to the surface. What’s on top will probably advance visually, no matter what the value. There are other exceptions, especially in the realm of art quilts.
Second, in a pieced quilt, value establishes the design. You read a dark star on a light background as a star shape because of the contrast in values. If the star and background fabrics were the same value, you’d never see the star.
Enough theory! Here are some quilts in which value does some of the work.
This early quilt, “Puss in the Corner on the Courthouse Steps,” shows how value establishes the design of a block and creates different planes of color. Light- and dark-value pieces make the sixteen-patch blocks read. The blocks advance because the strips surrounding them (blue-violet and orange) are darker in value than the striped background squares. True, the design plays a big part in creating the layered look, but the use of value is just as important. This quilt was inspired by Terry Atkinson’s “Tile Tango.”
“Brushed Metal” is an example of luster, the illusion of light sweeping across the surface. (See my previous post for two other lustrous quilts.) The easiest way to achieve this effect is with ombrés, fabrics that gradate in color and/or value. Here I oriented Serenity ombré strips so the light-value ends are on opposite edges of the blocks. Rather than a wash of light in one direction, the effect is more like light and energy flowing in both directions. Together, the three groups of fabrics—ombrés, Kaffe Fassett stripes, and Marcia Derse prints—are darker than the light-value sashing, making the blocks appear suspended.
Another example of value creating depth is this four-block mock-up, “Colors of Kauai.” Bright Gelato ombrés and multicolored prints from the Kaffe Fassett Collective advance against the open pattern and preponderance of white in the background fabric. (I love and use ombrés so much that I carry them in my website Store. Talk about temptation!)
Shifting gears to a nonrepresentational quilt, “Earthscape,” I thought about value with every piece of fabric I considered. The upper areas are lighter in value, making them seem distant, while the lower areas read as foreground because they are darker. (The design lines of the fabrics also suggest foreground.) Elin Noble’s hand-painted fabrics are the real gems here—I call them “investment fabrics” because they are magical wherever you use them.
In “Transparent Squares” the illusion of see-through color is all about value. For each block I used lighter and darker values of roughly the same colors (a light blue-green and a darker blue-green, for example). And I attempted to gather light-value fabrics with the same degree of lightness, and dark-value fabrics with the same degree of darkness. I call the effect in this quilt “layered transparency.” Check out my quilt “Galaxy,” which is an example of parent/child transparency, in the Gallery on my site. Value plays a big part in parent/child transparency, too. (The term, which describes the effect perfectly, was coined by Judi Warren Blaydon.)
And finally, here’s my latest quilt, “Swizzle Sticks,” so named for the narrow strips I inserted in each block. Again, the sashing is lighter, but in this quilt I wanted to link the blocks using another graphic element. The small four-patches did the trick, anchoring and connecting the blocks. From a distance I also see single diagonal chains that slip beneath the blocks.
Thank you, thank you for allowing me to share my quilts and thoughts on color. Please check out my website, where you can browse the Gallery and Store (books, patterns, fabrics), sign up for “Christine’s Color Connection” (a newsletter on color), follow me on Facebook and Pinterest, and access my series of color lessons on the Classrooms page of “The Quilt Show.” If you see me in the future—at a workshop, guild meeting, or quilt show—please say hello. And for your next quilt, make value “do all of the work”—and you take all of the credit!
Here’s yet another generous giveaway from our lovely guest blogger. Simply post a comment by end of day August 25th for a chance to win one of Christine’s color wheels and four fat quarters of Marcia Derse fabric.
Congratulations to Deborah M. the winner of all the goodies from Christine’s first post.
Hello readers. We are pleased to welcome our guest blogger this week, Christine Barnes. Christine is a passionate quilter who is an expert in the area of color. You may remember reading about her in one of our earlier posts. Click here to take another look at some of the work she shared with us in the past. This week she gives us an update of the exciting adventures in her life as well as some new quilts. Please welcome Christine.
It’s a pleasure and an honor to be a guest blogger for See How We Sew! Many thanks to Laura for the invitation. I’ll be doing two posts this week, about the group I’m a part of, Artistic Alchemy, and about my life as an author, designer, and teacher of color for quilters.
Today, it’s all about AA. No, not that AA, but rather a team of three designers—myself, Sandra Bruce, and Heidi Emmett. More than a year ago we began work on our first Artistic Alchemy retreat at Zephyr Point, South Lake Tahoe, which takes place September 2–5, 2014. It’s been a great experience, with lots of laughter and learning, and we’re eager to welcome our students in a few weeks. You can read all about it on our blog. It’s not too late to sign up for the retreat. If you’ve never been to Zephyr, you’re missing one of the most magical spots on the lake, a real favorite with quilters. We’re already planning another retreat for September 2015.
Artistic Alchemy is a diverse group: I specialize in color, Sandra creates dynamic gridded quilts, and Heidi combines fiber and fabric techniques in her imaginative quilts and wearable art.
I’ll have more to say about my color career in my next post, but here are two quilts I’ll be teaching in my workshop, “Luminosity and Luster: Playing with Color and Light.” An understanding of three simple color concepts makes it possible to achieve both luminosity and luster. However, the easiest way to suggest luster, the illusion of light striking the surface and bouncing off, is with ombrés, fabrics that gradate in color, value, or both.
The blocks in my “Lustrous Squares” quilt use the full width of colorful Gelato ombrés to imply a sweep of light, from the upper right to the lower left. I had so much fun pairing the ombrés with wonderful prints from Kaffe Fassett—they’re a natural together.
For “Urban Ombrés,” which appeared in the Winter 2014 issue of Modern Patchwork, I used a Gelato gray ombré in combination with richly colored Gradations ombrés and Marcia Derse prints. (All fabrics except the black-and-white will be available as kits at the retreat.) Again, orienting the gray ombré strips with the lighter ends in the upper right of each block and the darker ends in the lower left suggests the diagonal flow of light. Check out my website for more quilts with ombrés, and my books, patterns, and fabrics. My work has also appeared in American Patchwork & Quilting, American Quilter, and McCall’s Quilting You can also access my series of color lessons on The Quilt Show; see the home page of my website for details.
Sandra Bruce brings a successful career as an illustrator and letterer to her creative quilting life. Artist Chuck Close was the inspiration for her Material Matrix method, which uses 2-inch finished squares to create graphic quilt designs. Here’s her latest piece, a portrait of her son, Matteo. It just won a blue ribbon and Best of Division at our county fair.
I was with Sandra when she showed her self-portrait, below, at NCQC last year. There was a collective gasp from the audience, and one woman shouted, “It’s her!” Since then she’s been a teacher in high demand. Sandra also has a thriving long-arm quilting business, has designed fabric using Spoonflower, and creates polymer clay jewelry and buttons. See more of her work on her website.
You may recall Jennifer’s previous post that mentions Sandra Bruce and Spoonflower.
An article on Sandra appeared in the April 2014 issue of Quilting Arts. She’s teaching her Material Matrix method at the retreat, based on a photo chosen by each student.
Heidi Emmett owned a full-service fabric store for 15 years, had a successful decorating business, and has taught sewing and other needle arts extensively. She admits that she wants to “do it all,” and she has so many skills and so much creativity that I can’t keep up! She’s teaching “Art to Wear, Art on the Wall” at the retreat, where students will learn an array of original techniques that can be applied to quilts and wearables. Heidi’s motto is “It has to be fun!” so you know her students will have a great time. Below are two versions of her “Skinny Vest” and a closeup.
Many thanks to SHWS for allowing me to introduce you to Artistic Alchemy and my colleagues. You might also like to follow our AA blog, where we take turns writing about the things that inspire us, sharing our creative processes, and showing our latest work. After all, the definition of the word alchemy is “the power or process of transforming individual elements into something special.” Isn’t that what we do when we make a quilt, embellish a garment, or fashion anything from fiber and fabric? Come join in our creative adventure!
Please join us again on Friday for Christine’s post on the role of color and value in creating the illusion of depth and layering in quilts.
Oh, and before I forget, these three lovely ladies are offering a wonderful giveaway for one lucky reader. Simply post a comment by end of day August 21st for a chance to win a polymer-clay art button from Sandra, a vest pattern from Heidi, and four fat quarters of ombrés from Christine. Wow, thanks ladies!
Congratulations to Tabitha Keener, the winner of one of Lori Lott’s new patterns.
I love hearing success stories of people who find a passion and turn it into a business. I have known Lori Lott for years, but recently had the opportunity of collaborating with her while working on my book, QQQ3. She is a talented stylist and assisted our photographer with room settings. This positive working relationship lead us (Diana McClun and myself) to seek her help again with our book signing party. Lori is extremely organized and brought our vision into fruition. I couldn’t resist asking Lori to consider being the “day of” person for our recent wedding. Fortunately for all of us, she agreed and everything ran smoothly with her behind-the-scenes guidance.
Lori is a also an avid quilter and teaches classes at local quilt shops. Her line of patterns attracted Clothworks Fabrics to her work. Please let me take this opportunity to introduce you to Lori and share some of her work with you.
Lori started sewing at age 9 while in 4-H. This gave her a foundation for sewing. During this time she was encouraged to model her garments. Walking in front of judges was nerve racking for a 10-year ld girl, says Lori, but it gave her the confidence to keep sewing and hone her skills in clothing construction. She later earned a degree in Fashion Design at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM). She initially worked in the fashion industry and later moved in to Visual Merchandising.
Lori came to quilting through a friend in 2000. Creating her own designs is what inspired her to continue learning about quilting. Although she says it wasn’t an overnight process, she felt she was truly hooked after working with her local community of quilters and being exposed to their amazing work.
Lori was recently approached by Clothworks and her Heartstrings pattern will be featured in one of their new “All My Heart” fabric line by Iron Orchid designs. Click here to view the fabric collection.
When I asked Lori what style of quilt she enjoys making, she told me thather favorite quilts to make are those with traditional piecing using contemporary fabrics. She loves machine piecing and the symmetry that goes into each block that then translates into a finished quilt top. Lori feels that piecing is like solving a puzzle using fabric. “In the end it all has to fit together like a beautiful mosaic. There is gratification in the end result. There is also a Zen quality about piecing. It causes me to focus with my two favorite things: fabric and my sewing machine.”
Lori’s pattern company is called Uptown Girl Quilts and her patterns are sold on her website. Here are just a few of her designs. Click here to view her full line of patterns. She says she gets her inspiration from many different avenues. Color and shape are the two biggest factors for her. Color dictates emotion for her while she is designing a new quilt. shape and form are the next elements that drive her designs. Here are just a few.
Lori says: “I routinely walk my dachshund Lola every morning after we have coffee and toast. It is the highlight of my day (and Lola’s too!). I love clothes and fashion and wish I was a Design apprentice for a haute couture house in Paris like Yves St. Laurent or Givenchy. If I wasn’t a quilt designer I would be an architect, a professional golfer, or fragrance designer. The three love’s of my life are Robert, Andrew and Brian, my family.”
Lori is offering one of her new patterns to a lucky reader. Simply tell us what you would do if not making quilts – astronaut, doctor, scientist? Submit comments by end of day August 14th. The winner will be announced on August 19th.
As always, thanks for stopping in. Hope you are all enjoying a restful summer. Until next time . . .
As I write this I am away on a much-needed sewing and quilting retreat in beautiful Tahoe Donner. After several weeks of constant wedding prep, I must say that it is taking some time to ease into a relaxed lifestyle.
If there were just one piece of wedding prep advice I could share with you, I think it would be: get organized. Never did I dream that my years of working trade shows would serve me well during this time of wedding preparations. Anyone out there looking for a good wedding planner? I think I’ve got this down now . . . just kidding! I’ve got another one coming up next May–it should be a piece of cake.
Fortunately, two weeks before the wedding I asked my daughter the important question of how she planned to get all the “stuff” to the venue; since the wedding was being held in Grass Valley which is two hours away. Is a trailer rental in the game plan, or what?
Since neither of us would be available the day of the wedding to assist with set-up, it was important to communicate the design vision clearly for the set-up crew. For the prior two days I had Molly set-up each space (welcome table, head table, cake table, etc) exactly as she wanted it. I took photos and made a list of all the items included at each space. Each space was assigned a letter (A, B, C, etc). Finally, all the items were boxed and assigned the appropriate letter. It was a lot of work, but as a result, everything ran smoothly.
We have not yet received all of the photos from the photographer, but I wanted to share a few of them with you today: 1) The sweet flower girl getting ready for her runway walk. The robe was made by yours truly. 2) Princess Brooklyn could not have been more precious. 3) A special father-daughter moment. Here’s one of my favorites:
Thanks for letting me share this special time in my life. My best to all of you.
Ahh, Pinterest: Is it a blessing or a curse? Events seemed so much easier thirty years ago when I was planning my wedding. When I looked for ideas and inspiration I simply purchased the current bride/wedding magazines to see what was in vogue. Today, with the popularity of Pinterest, the online pinboard, there are virtually thousands of photos arranged into categories. One can easily get lost for hours browsing through all the images.
My daughter is a very hands-on kinda gal and wants this event to reflect her creative esthetic. Her attention to every detail is admirable, but from my point of view, can be a bit daunting. I trust everything will be lovely and her hard work will yield a wonderful day filled with all the love and good wishes from her family and friends.
There are so many books and websites providing advice, but thought I would share a few lessons I’ve learned over the past several months. I hope they might be of some help for any of you who might soon be walking down this path.
Start early. It’s never too soon to get started on those projects. Seems like the to-do list gets longer rather than shorter as the date approaches.
Get organized and make check lists. It’s too easy to let some of the important details fall through the cracks.
Don’t assume. Communication is important, right at the starting gate. Things have changed as far as who covers the expenses. Both the bride and groom need to talk with their respective parents and be clear on what the budget and/or contributions will be. This can avoid lots of confusion . . . trust me on this one.
Lots of love and support. I had to constantly remind my self that this is not about me. I have had my day in the sun. I have learned to smile and keep many opinions to myself.
Stay focused and have fun. With many projects brewing all at once it can easily become overwhelming. A little down time, lively music or favorite movie playing can lighten the day.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. In our case, we invited the mother of the groom to help with some of the projects. Fortunately she lives nearby. Not only was she a huge help but brought us closer together and made her feel like part of the event.
On a personal note, this little bottle has been a miracle worker. My nails have not looked this good since I was taking pre-natal vitamins, some 28 years ago ; ). And finally, SPANX! Need I say more?
That’s it for today. I’ll be back next month, hopefully sharing some lovely photos. As always, thanks for being here.
With less than five weeks to go until the big day, we are wrapping things up here with some small projects. As much work as it’s been, I’m excited by the attention to detail that my daughter has put into this special day. Everything is so thoughtful.
When considering the design for the ring bearer’s pillow, Molly was inspired by the bow tie I made to be worn by the young man who will have the very important duty of carrying and presenting the wedding bands to the best man. A bit of research reveals that in medieval times, the wedding ring was presented to the bride on the tip of a sword to represent the seriousness of the rite, and also to present a warning against infidelity. Yikes, no swords at this wedding! Instead, take a peek at the pillow. It is made to match the bow tie, with the addition of a batting layer to give it some poof.
Accompanying the ring bearer down the aisle will be an adorable flower girl. Her dress is almost finished . . . just a few more details and I can share it with you! In the meantime, here’s a sneak peek.
This little basket will be filled with rose petals and, we hope she’ll scattered them down the aisle. I say hopefully because in the last wedding I attended, the little girl got so excited she forgot to drop the petals. When she reached the altar, she simply turned the basket over and dumped the petals into one big pile. We all laughed . . . these are the sweetest little memories!
Here’s the last project I want to share with you today. It was inspired by a lovely little pouch I recently received from a friend. It is called the “Annie Pouch” by K Cotton Studio.
Molly loved the size and design of this adorable little bag and felt it would make a nice gift for her bridesmaids. I believe she plans to tuck a small gift inside each one of them. Her idea was to have initials and flowers embroidered on the front of each bag. Robyn Whitlock, a local machine embroiderer, helped to create the look Molly had envisioned for the design.
The rest was easy. Simply construct the bag following the pattern. They are so cute, and so personal. I’m sure the girls will love them.
Keiko Clark of K Cotton Studio is generously donating one of her Annie’s Pouch patterns along with one magnetic clasp. To be entered to win, please leave a comment by end of day June 8th telling us one funny or interesting event that happened at either your wedding or one you attended.