Like last week’s guest blogger Christine Barnes, I too have a strong liking for ombre fabric. While I absolutely love Christine’s deft hand with color and value play as she builds her blocks, my typical take on ombre is to use it to make flower petals for dimensional applique.
Clever cuts of fabric can yield petals kissed by sunlight at the tips and darker shadows where the petals grow from the flower stems (or the reverse as shown above). Or, also beguiling, bi-color petals which can be folded and shaped to form realistic flower buds.
That’s been my recurring task for much of the summer: cutting and sewing petals and leaves. No, not 90 days of flower making 24/7–I’m not that insane–a few hours here and there over three months preparing to make a dimensional appliqué floral still life.
Some quilting projects are piecing extravaganzas: pedal to the metal, innumerable passes of a rotary cutter through fabric, and sweating over a steaming iron. That’s not my way with dimensional appliqué quilts. The grueling part is the preparation–composing the still life is almost anti-climactic. Gotta say I’m about to take on that challenge; after weeks of labor I’m ready to roll. (But not ready to share yet–stay tuned!)
Congratulations to Monica, the winner of the giveaway goodies from Christine Barnes.
Patricia Belyea, a self proclaimed Japanophile, imports vintage yukata cottons. Patricia is the owner of Okan Arts, a design studio and micro quilt shop, in her home in Seattle, Washington.
As I mentioned in my post earlier this week, Yukata – The Summer Kimono of Japan , I met Patrica while she was traveling in the San Francisco Bay Area for lectures and workshops. I was not only fascinated with her incredible collection of hand dyed fabrics, I was also inspired to see how she showcased these very special fabrics into the artisan quilts she creates.
Patricia took some time out of her busy travel schedule to answer a few questions that I thought would interest our readers and to share her beautiful work.
What was it that initially attracted you to these fabrics? I’ve always been a “treasure hunter” when it comes to fabrics. At first, my quilts were made from fabrics found in free boxes at quilting meetings. I’ve also looked for unusual and super-cheap fabrics by the tablecloth section at Goodwill stores. And I’ve bought some vintage fabric on eBay. Once I started to visit Japan regularly, I looked for quilting fabric there.
Once I discovered vintage hand-dyed yukata cottons, I was hooked. They are so easy to love—good quality cotton that’s a perfect weight for quilting, gorgeous hand-dyed colors, and wonderful patterns. I find the colors and designs inspire my artisan quilt compositions.
How has your involvement with yukata cottons changed your outlook on the Japanese and their culture? Before I ever bought a bolt of yukata cotton, I had been to Japan twice and hosted three Japanese home-stay students. So I already had a real interest in all things Japanese.
Getting involved with yukata cottons and quilting has changed the focus of my trips to Japan. Now I seek out textile-related experiences—visiting indigo masters, wandering around flea markets, looking for small shops with vintage fabrics, going to museums, and anything else that touches on my interest in Japanese handicrafts, especially textiles.
What do you see for the future of Okan Arts? My petite cottage business called Okan Arts is synonymous with me! I’m a one-woman enterprise who just keeps dreaming up more things to do.
Right now I’m working on a quilting book that combines yukata cottons and commercial solids in improvisational designs.
I just wrote an article for GenerationQ magazine entitled “A Quilter’s Guide to Visiting Japan.” (Look for it in the November/December issue.) I feel a calling to encourage others to visit Japan so I’m putting together a new Japan Travel section on my website as a resource for individual travelers.
As I’m out of town a lot this summer, I set up a pop-up shop with all my inventory in my local quilting store—The Quilting Loft in Seattle. Making my yukata cottons more accessible has been a good move as shoppers can only visit my home-based shop by appointment–I may do that again as I travel so much. – Patricia Belyea.
Aren’t her quilts amazing? Patricia also enjoys hand-quilting her quilts to add to the artisan feel. Being a big fan of Big Stitch hand quilting, I was immediately drawn to her thread work. She uses colorful pearl cotton to create interesting shapes and line work. I loved seeing her perspective on applying this technique to the large scale prints and large open spaces of the yukata designs.
Thank you, Patricia, for a sharing this unique niche in our wonderful world of quilting. It is always fun to see how personal passions can merge with one’s creative interests.
Yukata are informal, festive clothing that are worn to outdoor summer events.
As with kimono, the general rule is that younger people wear bright, vivid colors and bold patterns, while older people wear dark, matured colors and dull patterns.
A child may wear a multicolored print and a young woman may wear a floral, while an older woman would confine herself to a traditional dark blue with geometric patterns. Men, in general, wear solid dark colors.
The fabrics are cotton, beautifully hand stenciled and dyed, with the designs showing on both sides. Traditionally, yukata fabrics were primarily made of indigo-dyed cotton, but today, a wide variety of colors and designs are available. The fabric is a standard kimono width of 14 inches. The fabric has a slightly crisp, but soft touch, and ranges from black to dark navy to indigo for the classic tones. The colors and designs will immediately draw you in!
Since the late 1990s, yukata have experienced a revival. Not only with the fashionistas . . .
. . . but with those passionate about unique textiles–including yours truly. Which leads me into my story for this week!
Vintage Japanese Yukata Cotton
These remarkable fabrics are from Okan Arts of Seattle Washington. My newfound obsession happened while attending a lecture and workshop with Patricia Belyea, owner of Okan Arts. Her 550-bolt-strong collection is a kaleidoscope of vintage Japanese yukata.
The beautiful green roll in the center of the photo above was the one that hooked me. I loved the free flowing brushstrokes of dark indigo, lavender, and gray.
Patricia is making it her mission to share this collection with others. Lucky us!!!
On Friday, I will chat with Patricia about her passion. I will also share a sampling of blocks created in the workshop I attended with her, plus photos of the beautiful quilts she has created to showcase these very special fabrics. Be sure to stop by to meet Patricia!
_________________________________________________________Correction: A few quilts were forgotten or mislabeled in last week’s post on the Indie Modern Quilters Challenge. I wanted to be sure to share them with you. My apologies for the error.
See you Friday!
A special thank you to Darra, who spent many hours working out the fabric requirements for this project. Come back and visit us soon, Darra! We miss you already!
Finished Quilt Size: 53″ x 53″ (plus binding)
What You’ll Need (Fabric and Notions):
Along with basic sewing supplies, you’ll need the following fabrics and notions to make this quilt. Note: If you’d like to make just the center medallion as a smaller wallhanging, or the center block or one of the side panels as a pillow, you’ll need only the fabrics identified for those areas in the labeled photo below.
Fabric calculations are based on 40″ fabric width.
Fabric A: 5/8 yard for center square (cream)
Fabric B: 1/4 yard for framing strips (red-orange stripe)
Fabric C: 7/8 yard for inner setting triangles and Birdhouse blocks (turquoise)
Fabric D: 3/4 yard for side panels (taupe)
Fabric E: 1 yard for center wreath, panel strips, vines, stems, and leaves (green)
Fabric F: 1 1/8 yards for side panels (taupe/dots)
Fabric G: 5/8 yard for outer setting triangles (white)
Fabric H: 2/3 yard for birdhouses (yellow stripe)
Fabric I: 3/8 yard for birdhouse roofs (purple)
Fabric J: 1/8 yard (or scraps)for blackbird appliqués (black)
Fabric K: 2 yards total for flower circle, dot, leaf, and birdhouse door appliqués (assorted brights)
Binding: 1/2 yard
Batting: 60″ x 60″
Backing: 3 1/2 yards
Lightweight fusible web: 3 1/2 yards (18″ wide)
Assorted threads to match appliqués
Black and white embroidery floss
The following photos show you the fabrics we used to make our version of the Quilt-Along quilt. We used the first group, Fabrics A – J, for backgrounds, framing strips, vines and center wreath, setting triangles, and corner birdhouse blocks. These fabrics include a number of “linen-y” solids and subtle tone-on-tone prints, with a few stripes and a coordinating polka-dot for visual interest.
The second group includes examples of the colorful prints that we used for the flower circles and other appliques. We recommend that you include some multicolored, large-scale prints as we did; you can fussy cut them for varying effects.
So let the fun begin! Jennifer will be starting us out with the center medallion as our first round of the Quilt-Along. Watch for Jennifer’s post at the end of May.
Right after I came on board See How We Sew last summer, conversations began to stir about designing a blog Quilt-Along. Darra, Laura, Jennifer, and I were excited to create something together to share with our readers. In reality, though, none of us were sure where to begin. A blank canvas is probably the hardest place to nurture inspiration, especially with a quartet of opinionated women. For us, a couple of little ideas sparked a true collaboration.
Before I reveal our wonderful Quilt-Along quilt, I thought it would be fun to share a bit of the creative process involved over the past few months and a behind-the-blog peek. So read on . . . and no scrolling ahead!!!!
In our first brainstorming session, we decided on a layout inspired by a quilt I made years ago, Baltimore Yo Yo’s.
At the time, Laura and Jennifer were totally in love with the fabric line, Collage by Carrie Bloomston, so our inspirational fabrics and color palette were easy decisions.
Jennifer was going through a “circle” phase then and so she suggested using circles as a recurring theme to give our quilt design continuity.
We began our project as a round-robin, building from the center and out. It was a given that our spherically motivated Jennifer should start us out with a center medallion. What an incredible job she did!
Next would be four rectangular panels to wrap around the center. Darra and I decided to work together on this. For variety, two panels were designed with simple vines of circular blossoms, while the latter two were designed with fuller clusters of blooms.
To finish our colorful, whimsical garden, Laura took over to add the setting triangles. As birds and birdhouses are a natural addition to a garden setting, Laura designed an adorable chirping bird and his birdhouse . . .
And then, she repeated it for every corner: there are no run-of-the-mill setting triangles for this project!
And this is how, dear readers, we came to create our whimsical Quilt-Along for See How We Sew. We hope you love it as much as we do. We also hope that you follow along over the next few months as we share our steps for creating . . .
Blackbirds & Blossoms – -Oh-La-La!
In Friday’s post, we will deliver the fabric requirements for the Quilt-Along. And then, each month, we will supply directions for each section and we will also share tips and tricks to bring your garden to life. Jennifer will begin our first round of the Quilt-Along at the end of May. Get your stash ready and mark you calendar.
Not interested in making the entire quilt? That’s okay! You might find inspiration for your own riff. We will be sharing ideas, projects and video tutorials along the way that focus on doable weekend projects using the individual blocks. So join us for all the fun! I can’t wait to get started! See you on Friday!
Announcing Our Lucky Winners!
The winners of the Modern Robe pattern from Laura’s post last week are:
Pat T and Katina Chapman
I’ve know for several months (or should I say years?) that this past month would mark a landmark birthday for my dear friend, Diana McClun (see a follow-up post here.) Wanting to give her something extra special, I spent time thinking about all the wonderful years we have shared writing, teaching, designing, traveling and just being good friends. During these moments of reflection I began jotting down all the words that make her special to me. And, in one of those quiet moments, I had a brainstorm. Diana loves hearts and has quite an extensive collection of all things heart-related. She’s also an avid collector of fabric and scarves with words printed on them.
I decided to take these two Diana-beloved themes and combine them into a gift: fabric designed just for her. I forwarded my word list to my daughter Molly and asked her to put them into a design program, varying the sizes and fonts for each word. Then, I urged her to add hearts of various sizes and drop them randomly between the words. The next step was turning the design into fabric. Of course, Spoonflower, the online site for DIY fabric, wallpaper, decals, and gift wrap was a natural fit. (Jennifer wrote about Spoonflower here.) Since neither Molly or I have ever done any fabric designing, I solicited the help of our friend Carol van Zandt to take a peek at the design and to make sure it was properly formatted for printing. Here are two variations Carol worked on before we made the decision on the final design. Carol added her magic touch and then off to Spoonflower with our design. A few weeks later, a lovely piece of fabric arrived on my doorstep. Can you see the phrase “Diana is” hidden among the words? If you have ever aspired to designing fabric, Spoonflower.com may be a fun place to try your hand. There are teams of helpers available as well as Tips and Video Tutorials.
Since the fabric arrived just days before Diana’s birthday, I decided to give her a yard and then I divided the remaining yardage among three other friends. We are all working on a project for her that will incorporate the fabric. I have invited Diana to join us during the final design stages so we can all enjoy a sewing play date. We are excited and anxious to see how this group project develops–you can be sure I will keep you posted! Now, back to making bridesmaids robes! Be sure to check back on Friday for an update of projects taking place at “Wedding Central” in our family home–things are hopping! Take care everyone and happy creating.
I would like to introduce you to Kim Andersson of I. ADORE. PATTERN! Kim and I belong to the East Bay Modern Quilt Guild. She is talented, fun, and she bubbles over with creativity. We have asked Kim to be a guest writer for us this week, so be sure to visit again on Friday to learn even more about her.
Thank you Pati, for such a lovely welcome! I’m so excited to be a guest on “See How We Sew” and share with you my sewing journey. Six years ago my family and I moved to San Francisco from Sydney, Australia, and I was in awe of all the fabulous fabric and pattern books available here at very enticing prices! Blessed with a new baby that slept (my first didn’t), I bought a sewing machine and started to sew again! It was through wonderful quilting fabrics that my passion for sewing was sparked.
I was sewing mostly clothes and toys for my two boys. On a trip to NYC I came across the store, Purl Soho. In the window was an amazing quilt in fabulous prints. That gorgeous quilt turned out to be Single Girl by Denyse Schmidt in her fabric collection Katie Jumps Rope.
So started my love of quilting.
Soon I was reading books and searching online for various piecing and quilting techniques, taking classes at my local quilt shops, and discovering everything from hand quilting to improv piecing. I learned something new every time I turned on my sewing machine.
This search led me to join the East Bay Modern Quilt Guild 4 years ago, I really enjoy the learning and camaraderie of being a part of this group. I’ve gone from making baby-sized quilts to King-sized quilts with the wonderful support of my guild! It truly is amazing when you find friends that are as obsessed as you are :). Together we’ve created an annual quilt show, Stitch Modern, for the past 3 years. It’s been a wonderful show with some great events! If you live locally, pencil it in your diary for next year, it just get’s better and better.
At the start of a new project I love image searching and researching for my quilt designs. This has led to a Pinterest addiction. My Quilt board is filled with gorgeous colors and shapes! The list of quilt designs that I’d like to sew is out of control!
I love working with a variety of fabrics, both pattern and solids in my quilts. I’ve used Quilting Cotton, Voile, Cotton Lawn, Linen, Denim…the list goes on.
Looking at all the gorgeous fabrics in my stash, I find I have fabrics of many different styles. I see that I can be drawn to fabrics that have a more defined graphic style or a lovely loose painterly style. The element that unites them all is their wonderful palettes. A fabulous color palette gets me every time.
Yes, my fabric stash is under control…well…sort of….
This love of fabric has also led me in a new career direction. I’ve been a graphic designer for many, many years and all this play with fabric has rekindled my passion for pattern.
Last year I competed in a fabric design competition on “The Printed Bolt” called REpeated. Run by two fabulous quilt girls, these challenges were close to heart as we were making fabric designs for quilt fabrics! They had some very talented judges and the response from readers was fabulous!
Here are the links for my REpeated challenge designs and the stories behind them:
Challenge One: Folkloric Stitches
Challenge Two: Up In the Air
Challenge Three: Spring Dot
Challenge Four: Grandparents Garden
Final Challenge: Tidal Lace
So last October, with my collections in hand, I traveled to Houston Quilt Market (an amazing experience!). I met with some lovely and supportive fabric companies and quilty people and I’m pleased to say that my very first fabric collection will be released later this year! I’ll be sharing more with you soon and in the meantime you can see some of my design work at www.iadorepattern.com.
I hope that you enjoyed reading a bit about me and my journey to quilts. Next post, I’ll show you some other sewing that I like to do, with a mix of clothes, toys and gifts…and maybe a bit more about quilts.
Let the stitchy fun begin!
If you want to see more I have sewing and quilting images over on Instagram. Another addiction?
Hello readers! Today’s a shimmery day because we’ve got a peek for you into Jennifer Sampou’s latest line from Robert Kaufman Fabrics. Not only that, we’ve made a rather fabulous quilt with selected prints from Shimmer, and we are AGLOW with excitement! Keep on scrolling for all the exciting details . . .
We count ourselves lucky that we can host today’s stop on the Shimmer blog hop—Jennifer Sampou is one of our locals and it’s a true pleasure to strut our “collective” creativity with such a pretty line of prints. She’s outdone herself with these pearlescent fabrics that gleam so wonderfully when light shines on them. Jennifer’s keyed in on a trend that’s making its way through interiors and fashion. We’ve certainly experienced our share of chintzy, glittery, metallic, and sparkly textiles at quilt/fabric shops, but these are altogether different fare: think of candlelight, not a slick sheen.
The color array and print variety are wonderful too. We’ve got a link to the Shimmer LookBook so you can take a gander at the collection. Don’t neglect to stop at Jennifer’s blog while you’re at it and subscribe so you can qualify for the fabric giveaway (a fabric bundle!) she’s hosting right this very minute. Do not delay! We’re the tail-end of the blog hop, but there’s plenty more wonderful inspiration on the way–backtracking is a good idea too!
Shimmer Blog Hop Schedule
April 2- Janice Ryan- Better off ThreadApril 4- Julie Herman- JayBird QuiltsApril 5- Natalie Barnes- Beyond the ReefApril 6- Stash Books- C&T PublishingApril 7- Amanda Jean Nyberg- Crazy Mom QuiltsApril 8- Lee Heinrich- Freshly PiecedApril 9- Cheryl Arkinson- Naptime QuilterApril 10-Christina Cameli- A Few ScrapsApril 11-Elizabeth Hartman- Oh FranssonApril 12-Faith Jones-Fresh Lemon QuiltsApril 13-Gemma Jackson- Pretty BobbinsApril 14- Katie Blakesley- Swim Bike QuiltApril 15-Amy Smart-Diary of a QuilterApril 17-Holly DeGroot- Bijou LovelyApril 18-Jennifer Sampou-Wrap Up
The SHWS Giveaway
As for our promotional events here, we have a giveaway as well. Jennifer has given us a Shimmer charm pack for one lucky reader. (Many thanks Jennifer!) You know the drill. Leave a comment by Sunday, April 20 answering the following question: Would you rather shimmer, sparkle, or shine? We’ll announce the winner on Friday, April 25. Our Big Announcement! Now here’s our main event to celebrate the launch of Jennifer Sampou’s latest and greatest . . . we’ve designed our very first See How We Sew quilt pattern and are showcasing Shimmer in the sample quilt. As quilt designers, it’s a real pleasure to work with a unified collection of prints and color palette. We had such a blast collaborating on this quilt that we’ve sparked an ambition to make more! And we are, in fact, launching a See How We Sew pattern line.
Then, with a partial sketch; quilting tools; a Shimmer fabric delivery from Jennifer; and precious time carved from busy schedules, we set to work. We send our thanks to Cyndy Rymer who came along for the ride and sewed miles of strips on demand.
Long-arm quilter Kathy August added mod flair to Achoo! by deploying a grid design across the surface. Her choice of thread was genius: Kathy turned to Fil-Tec’s Glide™ for a soft metallic-look thread that blended in beautifully with the gleaming Shimmer prints.
Thanks for checking out the Jennifer Sampou Shimmer Blog Hop! Don’t forget to enter the giveaways!