Hello dear readers! Gwen Marston is always a hit when we feature her at See How We Sew. Today we’ll take a look at more quilts from her latest AQS title, Minimal Quiltmaking, and revisit past posts about Gwen written by our blogging sister Darra. Gwen and Darra have been both friends and collaborators for years. In fact, Darra’s skilled editorial hand can be experienced in a number of Gwen’s quilting books. Keep scrolling to find the name of the lucky winner of Minimal Quiltmaking.
And the winner is, Kathy in Florida–Congratulations! Many thanks to Gwen Marston for her continuing support of See How We Sew. Perhaps she’ll return for a visit soon?!? I hope so!
Final thoughts from Jennifer: I’m taken by Gwen’s works of quilted art. Can’t you just see these painting-sized quilts adorning the walls of a modern art museum? What if we started a grassroots movement to persuade our fine arts venues to open their galleries to our textile arts? Just a thought . . . we’ve got our Studio Art Quilters and any number of other art quilt groups. Time to come out of the shadows and into the limelight with the rest of the artsy crowd!
We’ve got a special treat today at SHWS: Gwen Marston is in the house! Yup, she’s going to review her latest and greatest quilting title, Minimal Quiltmaking. Sure, it’s unorthodox having an author write her own book review, but why not? She’s Gwen Marston and she’s super fabulous! Scroll to the end of the post for giveaway details–here’s a hint: enter to win a copy of her new title.
Hello everyone! I’ve been invited to write a review of my new book Minimal Quiltmaking so let me say right upfront: it’s going to be very favorable!
It’s always a thrill when I get to see a just-off-the-press copy of my latest book for the first time. In the case of my most recent book, Minimal Quiltmaking (AQS Publishing, 2014), I couldn’t have been more pleased. Reviewers are calling it “beautiful” and I have to agree.
I’ve always been the “less is more” girl, preferring straightforward, uncluttered design so keeping it simple, aka minimal, is my natural default setting. This book includes both examples of my early minimal work and more recent pieces as well. It also includes the exciting work of twenty-two contemporary quilters (some are also quilt teachers) from across the country. I was so very pleased to be able to include their work in my book because it adds an indispensable flavor that makes it all the more tasty.
The book (95 pages, $24.95) has lots of full-page color pictures of the quilts and is packed with design and construction tips on how you can make your own original quilts without patterns using my “liberated”, intuitive, free-pieced methods. So, let me show you some of the quilts in my new book.
Discovering Lancaster Country Amish quilts in the early 80’s set me off on a virtual tangent of making quilts in that style as a way to understand the Amish sense of design and use of color. It also taught me the value of working with solid fabrics, which I’ve continued to do to this day.
ONE PATCH, made in 1990, was the first in a series of thirteen minimal quilts, all shown in the book, inspired by the Scottish architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh (1868-1928).
I have a chapter about Hard-Edge Quilts, inspired by a California art movement from the 1960’s called “hard-edge painting”. MINIMAL COMPOSITION is in that chapter.
I talk about the process of designing minimal quilts, how to apply the principles of minimal art to create your own distinctive work, and give suggestions on where to find inspiration for working in this style.
And to whet your appetite, here is a small sampling of the stunning quilts made by made by contributing quilt artists included in the book.
SPLIT CHERRY, by Marjorie Tucker, from Boston, Mass, and MINIMAL PURPLE, made by Kristin Shields, from Bend, Oregon, are both contemporary quilt artists and teachers who have their own style and definitely know what they are doing.
I hope you enjoy the book as much as I did writing it. Carry on! GM
Giveaway Details Here!
Leave a comment by Thursday afternoon, June 19, answering the question: What’s your quilting pleasure: less is more or more is more? I’ll announce the winner of an autographed copy of Minimal Quiltmaking by Gwen Marston in the Friday post. We’ll also take a look a more quilts from Gwen’s new title and revisit retired blogging sister Darra’s past posts on Gwen’s quilting style.
We’re more than a month into spring here in the Northern Hemisphere, and the evidence–both cultivated and wild–is emerging (and in some cases, exploding) around us in a shower of color and scent.
Today, to celebrate this “blooming” season, we’ve planned a special giveaway. Lark Crafts has generously donated two copies of its brand-new, 128-page book, Fabric Bloomsby Megan Hunt. The projects are adorable and doable–made from felt, cotton, jersey, and even faux leather!–and range from headbands and lapel pins to nosegays, wreathes, and fairy lights. Best of all, the patterns for all the flower parts are given full size. You don’t need to draw or enlarge a thing!
So, here’s the deal. Leave a comment below by noon (PDT) Thursday, May 1, telling us what you consider to be the first sure sign that spring has arrived, and you’ll be eligible to win a copy of Fabric Blooms. The two winners will be announced in this Friday’s post.
Finally, an announcement of sorts. After three wonderful years of visiting with you here each month, it’s time for me to join my former SHWS blogging sister, Christie Batterman, as a See How We Sew Blogger Emeritus. Today marks my final post as an active member of the SHWS team.
While it’s difficult to say goodbye, the change is happily motivated. My husband Brooks and I are slowly beginning the lifestyle-changing transition from the bustling Bay Area to a small, off-the-beaten-track, incredibly beautiful, artist-friendly village by the sea on the Northern California coast. As a writer, I know I’ll want to write about the experience, so you can be sure that “I’ll keep you posted”–no pun intended!
I’ve loved the time I’ve spent working, playing, learning, and creating with Laura, Jennifer, Pati, and Christie, and look forward to returning for a guest post now and then. Also, like you, I’ll be eagerly following the latest here at See How We Sew. I know there are some fabulous things in store!
So that’s it for now. ‘Til we meet again (soon, I hope), happy stitching!
A few weeks ago, I visited the home of Sandy Klop, owner of American Jane Patterns and Fabric. Sandy was hosting an Open House in her Northern California home, selling some of her wonderful fabrics, patterns, and quilts. I have know Sandy for many years, so I was really excited to see what she was up to!
When I arrived, I was immediately taken with the creative array of color and whimsy that filled Sandy’s home. This was going to be fun!
Sandy and her husband, Stan, welcomed me at the door. I think I may have been standing there with my mouth wide open–I was so busy taking in the entire American Jane experience before me. Sandy’s home is a reflection of her cheerful personality–a quilter’s playhouse. There is a signature look to Sandy’s work that is immediately recognizable. Her home was staged to reflect this look in bright, happy colors that played together in a world of incredible quilts.
Quilts and fabric were everywhere. American Jane patterns were tucked in cute little baskets. A cozy upholstered chair wore her first line of fabric for Moda–still one of my favorites, by the way!
All those sunny fabrics were creatively displayed and calling my name.
Bolts of fabric lined up like a box of Crayolas. Uh-oh, this could be trouble . . .
Is it even possible to be grumpy when surrounded by all this Pezzy Print happiness?
For a snack, an offering of Layer Cakes in the kitchen – Yum!
Books written by Sandy were stacked in the corner to peruse and enjoy.
Charming little wooden folk welcomed me as I passed.
Hmmm . . . which chair was my favorite?
Even the floor was cheery and bright!
And, did I mention the quilts?
. . . the beautiful, colorful, whimsical quilts?
Sandy has a true talent for displaying her beautiful creations in a creative and unique style. It was a delight to spend time in this American Jane world. Thank you, Sandy!
So how does one go about finding a signature look or style? It is a question I posed to Sandy and, in my next post, Sandy will share her thoughts on quilting and what life is like as our American Jane friend. Be sure to visit Friday for the interview and more of her amazing quilts.
If you missed Sandy’s Open House, you are in luck! There is another one coming soon!
American Jane Open House
Fabric, Kits, Patterns, and Books Featuring the Newest Line of Ducks in a Row!
And of Course – Quilts!!!
May 23 ,24 ,and 25
Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 9:00 am to 4:pm
64 Sandy Lane, Walnut Creek, CA
Tell Your Friends!
Also, stop by my blog at Pati Fried to see what I am up to this week. I am looking forward to visiting my home state of Iowa and catching up with quilting friends. See you Friday!
The very first chapter of Making Fabric Jewelry is filled with vital information that every crafter will find useful. Marthe Le Van gives a fabulous overview of the tools and skills that are used for a jewelry designer’s projects. She begins with the basics, or what she calls the first pleasure, the fabric. If you don’t know your tulle from your duck, this book is the place to start. The first 36 pages cover fabric, stitches, and a jewelry primer on findings, wires, and beads. I am sure I will refer to this information often. I am delighted with the variety of projects in this book and the inspirational photos of similar pieces made by other designers. All the full-color photos are large and include the artist’s name and materials used. I can hardly turn the page without new ideas popping into my head. The techniques for assembling the jewelry are well written and easy to follow. Ms. Le Van even includes tips that range from selecting colors to threading needles. (I was surprised to see five ways to thread a needle.) My shopping list is made and I can’t wait to start the next project.
I was excited to review Patchwork Please! because I saw so many pretty projects during the Zakka Along 2.0 last fall. I am a novice at sewing, and while the projects I saw floating around the Internet last fall were pretty and caught my eye, I was not sure that they were things I could make. I am a visual learner, so I also have been skeptical about sewing books, but let me tell you–Ayumi’s book is full of tips, and the tutorials are simple and very easy to follow. The book contains 140 pages, and the first 30 pages are dedicated to tips, tools, and techniques which cover the basics used for all the projects. There are beautiful photos of the 19 projects, each made with the cutest and prettiest fabrics. You’ll want to do every one! Each tutorial is rated for difficulty and broken down, step by step, with figures to help visual learners like me. I decided to jump all in and tackle the triangle patchwork box pouch, one of the more difficult projects (rated three stars), because I have always wanted to try making a bag with a zipper. The tutorial was very easy to follow and I completed the project quickly and without having to use my seam ripper, which is a plus for me! If a novice like me can make this zipper pouch, then I think anyone could easily do this project. I love all the projects; the photos are beautiful, the tutorials easy, and the projects come together quickly. I can see myself doing all of them and giving them as homemade gifts. Another plus: you can use scraps for many of the projects. Ayumi’s easy-to-follow tutorials and beautiful fabric choices are inspiring to me and have made me a believer in sewing books! Now to see what I will add next to my sewing-book collection!
Cathy had two reasons for writing this book: one is that our busy lives often don’t allow us time to sew a bed-sized quilt and therefore try new techniques and blocks. The second is to show that doll quilts are the perfect avenue to use up the many scraps that we accumulate. For both reasons, I wanted to learn more about this book.
The first section of the book gives us the basics: the materials, the tools, putting it all together, and the finishing touches. The sections on materials and tools are a bit brief for beginners, but are perfect for anyone with a little experience. The section on putting it all together gives information on patchwork piecing, English paper piecing, foundation piecing, free-form + improvisational piecing, applique, embroidery, and quilting. Each technique is used somewhere on the quilts in this book. The section on the finishing touches includes information on binding, labels, washing, and display.
From here, Cathy and 19 top designers give detailed instruction for the 24 doll quilts. Each one include materials, measurements, illustrations and, if necessary, patterns.
As I read through the book, I found that I wanted to start on many of the quilts right on the spot! Too bad I am away from home, my stash, and my sewing machine or I would do just that.
Do you ever wonder what you can do with that mind-boggling array of decorative stitches available on your sewing machine? If you’re like me, you may have tried a few–satin or blanket stitch for machine applique, perhaps–but that’s about it. On the other hand, my friend, Chris Porter, is never at a loss for creative ideas for putting those beautiful stitches to work. Time for some inspiration!
For Christmas, Chris surprised me with this lovely machine-appliqued, couched, and embroidered pouch.
Here’s a view of the back. Notice the use of variegated threads and couched silk ribbon trims.
The versatile size (8 1/2″ x 8 1/2″) makes it perfect for any number of uses; I found it ideal for corralling all those wires and chargers necessary for my digital camera, iPhone, and iPad. Now I always know where to find them here at home, and have a compact, convenient way to carry them when I travel.
Chris has also been working those stitches to make journal covers as gifts for her friends, using a process similar to the one I described in my December 20 post. For this cover, she began with a beautiful mauve batik, to which she added a variety of decorative machine stitches in coordinating variegated thread.
Notice the stitched detail down the cover’s spine.
Rather than working with a single fabric, Chris pieced the next cover before adding the embellishments–a combination of machine-embroidery and couched ribbons.
I love the detail she added to the inside flap.
Chris has been using similar techniques to create other small gift items, such as needle books and eyeglass cases; the latter double nicely for stowing your rotary cutter. What a great way to familiarize yourself and experiment with your machine’s enhancements on a small scale before launching into a larger project! Here, Chris adapted one of her machine’s embroidery stitches to quilt Alphabet Soup, the cover quilt for our book, Cuddle Me Quick.
Chris works on a Husqvarna Viking 960Q, but many of today’s machines offer similar stitching options. Why not take yours out for a spin?
Before leaving Chris, I have an exciting piece of news to report. In addition to the two books we have co-authored, Chris has written a number of best-selling books on her own. Her latest, Sensational Circle Quilts, will be published as an eBook (with video) and is scheduled for an April release. The publisher is Vivebooks, a British ePublisher–be sure to watch for it!
That leaves me with one final bit of “business” for today, and that’s to announce the winner of Gwen Marston’s new book, Minimal Quiltmaking, from my Tuesday post. And that winner is vickievan! Congratulations, Vickie, and thanks to Gwen for providing the giveaway prize.
At one time or another, I suspect we’ve all had the experience of meeting someone new and feeling that immediate “click” of connection–the perfect description of my first encounter (in 1989!) with legendary and beloved Michigan quilter, Gwen Marston.
I wrote about Gwen, her then most-recent work, and her wonderful book, 37 Sketches, in a post back in January 2012. It’s a tribute to Gwen’s enduring popularity that this post remains one of our all-time, most-often viewed here at See How We Sew. Now, two years later, I decided it was time to check back with Gwen to find out what’s new. The answer? Lots!
First up: Gwen Marston, Contemporary Quilts, a solo exhibit at the Dennos Museum Center in Traverse City, MI. This exhibit runs through April 27 and includes work that Gwen has created in the past eight years, in which she continues to simplify, to melt the elements down to their most basic forms, allowing the color to speak in a stronger voice. Some of the pieces are the Small Studies from the aforementioned 37 Sketches (2011).
Still others reflect Gwen’s ongoing explorations, in which she pushes even further, working in a decidedly minimal style. This fresh, exciting, stripped-down approach takes center stage in–more news!!!–Gwen’s brand-new book, Minimal Quiltmaking, scheduled for publication by the American Quilter’s Society on March 1!
Wouldn’t you like to be first among your friends to own Minimal Quiltmaking? Well, it happens that we’ll have a copy to give away to one of our readers as soon as the book hits the shelves. Just leave a comment by noon (PST) Thursday, February 20, telling us whether you consider yourself a “minimalist” or “maximalist” quilter (for example, in style, size or variety of your fabric stash, reliance on notions, degree of advance planning) and I’ll announce a winner in my Friday, February 21 post.
Finally, here’s a special treat! The Dennos Museum Center has placed Gwen’s entire presentation from the exhibit’s January 18 opening reception on YouTube. Watch and enjoy!
That’s it for now. ‘Til next time, happy stitching!
Hope your year has gotten off to a great start. Just can believe it’s February already. So much has happened this past month! It began with the quilting retreat I mentioned in my last post. My plan was to make the silk wedding quilt for my daughter’s best friend. As you can see, I got a great jump start on it. Fortunately these young ladies like simple patterns. Phew! I’m so lucky she didn’t request a Baltimore Album! Here’s a quick peek at my progress so far. I plan to finish it soon and then off to the quilter. It will be so elegant; I can’t wait.
I was on a roll with this quilt until several of the other gals at the retreat started working on this wonderful iron caddy. How could I resist setting my project aside and making one for myself (especially since I am always the pathetic one leaving class with my hot iron wrapped in a towel. Ugh!)?
Here’s the wonderful Caddy Pad pattern by Sisters’ Common Thread. I can see why this pattern has been their very best seller. It is easy to make and allows you to pack up your hot iron and go . . . no waiting for it to cool, no wrestling with dangling cords, or in my case, towels!
I contacted the talented design team from Wisconsin, letting them know how much everyone enjoyed their pattern, and they have graciously offered one free pattern to one of our readers. The pattern comes with the silver, heat-resistant fabric–enough to make one pad. Be sure to check out their website, as there are many options to choose from. For example, there are three different sizes of the Caddy Pad, as well as a larger one that they say has been great as a baby shower gift. It’s called a Diaper Dock, and is large enough to open flat and use as a changing pad.
If you would like to put your name in the hat to win a pattern of your choice, simply let me know by end of day Thursday, February 6th which pattern you would most like to have and why, and I will announce the winner with my next post the following day.
Another reason to stop by on Friday: I plan to give you a sneak peek at what all of us at SHWS have been working on for you. You’ll love it!
Do you notice that there are often underlying connections to the “things” that catch our eyes? By “things” I mean anything that makes an impression on us—images, people, events, the whole gamut. As a kid those relationships always surprised me, and now, I embrace and enjoy them. Thus, today, revelation is my theme, and here’s the spin:
Lately, I’ve been mesmerized by fabrics with very simple pattern designs that are almost Japanese-like. (I featured Yoko Saito a few months ago—her prints are a good example of this style.) The first tantalizer showed up in the last year or so in a line of quasi-architectural fabrics. There was a crosshatched white-on-white print that I invested in heavily and deployed in virtually every recent quilt I’ve made that called for whites. The other fabrics in the line were just as wonderful, but the white was/is my go-to.
Then, there was a baby quilt featured in a That Patchwork Place/Martingale & Company catalog that caught my eye. It featured a forest of spindly white trees set in fresh-green prints and solids—a unique, modern, and supremely cool take on baby bedding.
In the post-holiday lull, I found more minimalist fabric at my local quilt shop. This time, it was multi-tonal stripes + subtle prints that lured me. I’m a total sucker for neutral striped prints with tight, hand-drawn lines, and that’s exactly the print I found. Better yet, this one also had a subtle touch of color. Oh yeah, the next print had renderings of bare trees in a quiet, neutral palette. So delicious!
Last clue: I repeatedly picked up the quilt patterns of one particular new designer displayed at my local quilt shops. Hmm, there was something about her style that kept ringing my bell.
What a hoot when I realized that all these discoveries had one designer in common: Carolyn Friedlander, a young, hip, and energizing new light in our quilting universe. Carolyn visits us today and shares a bit about her quilting life AND she’s sponsoring a giveaway! (Details at the end of the post.)
A Fresh & New Perspective
Wow Carolyn, you just started quilting in 2009, and here you are, five years later, a triple threat: you’ve created prize-winning quilts; designed and sold fabric lines with the Robert Kaufman company; and you’re expanding into patterns and notions like quilt stamps. What was it about making quilts that struck such a chord with you?
I’ve always loved making things and being creative. I grew up on a farm around creative folks including plenty of women who made things (Mom made my clothes growing up) and a family business. I never imagined starting my own business, but I always knew I wanted to live a creative and productive life. I was enticed by quilting after finishing college, because I saw my mom doing free motion quilting, and I finally had some free time on my hands without having school to worry about. To me the quilting looked like drawing with a sewing machine, which was awesome. I could instantly see how quilting could merge my love of making, creative stuff, and my design background. I was hooked instantly.
Do you come from quilters and crafters or are you the cuckoo in the family nest?
Oh yeah, so the people in my family are creative in all types of ways. Like I mentioned, my mom has sewn her whole life, and many of the women on both sides of my family have roots in various forms of making. My dad is a rancher and citrus grower, which I think requires plenty of creativity, and my brother and sister are both very artistic as well.
With your first fabric line, Architextures, you used your “sweet spot,” your architectural training, as a starting point and the renderings are so spot-on. Where do you think inspiration will take you next?
I can only hope to continue to be inspired by the things around me and to be able to convey who I am through my work so that others can do the same.
What’s important to you as a quilter/designer?
My goal as a designer is to stay engaged and connected to the quilting itself. I love being connected to the making as well as being challenged by it. I also like creating work that is personal and still very usable for others. It is always a compliment to see others using my work as tools for expressing themselves.
Will you be attending quilting events across the country this year?
I am scheduling more and more travel this year and even into 2015. Recent and upcoming highlights include more travels to new shops in Florida, Salt Lake City earlier this month, and I’m really excited about teaching at the SewDown in Nashville this spring. It is shaping up to be a fun and very full year!
What’s coming up for you? Where would you like to see your quilting business in two to five years?
Carolyn is sharing a copy of her new quilt pattern “Focal” and a mini charm pack of her “Botanics” line with one of our readers! There’s nothing like the chance to win FABRIC to stir a bit of excitement at SHWS–we love our fabric!
To enter the giveaway, leave me a comment answering this question: What’s better: crisp new fabric or chocolate? That’s a toughie depending on day of week/state of mind . . . leave a comment by Thursday, January 30 and I will announce the winner in my Friday post on the 31st.
Thank you Carolyn! Keep on dazzling us with your beautiful fabrics and patterns!