As a charter member of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Scissors, I’ll go anywhere at the drop of a hat, especially if the destination is quilt-related. So, when my friend Erica Cronin asked if I wanted to go to Kailua-Kona on Hawaii for a quilting workshop with Esterita Austin, I didn’t hesitate a second. Yes!
We stayed at a sweet little B & B in Kona called The Luana Inn–this is just one of the many beautiful sunsets we enjoyed while staying there.
Does it get any better than this? Oh yes, it did. We were invited to spend two days fabric dyeing with Carlene Keller prior to Esterita’s class. I love dyeing my own fabrics, and looked forward to learning some new tricks.
An awesome woman to work with, Carlene graciously offered access to her entire collection of dyes for us to play with–she even shared her tried-and-true recipes. Carlene also has organizational skills I can only dream about with her dyes beautifully organized on metal shelves in her garage. I ended up dyeing at least twelve yards of cotton and one yard of silk organza. I could have stayed another week and done about thirty more.
Here Carlene is showing us how to apply three different dyes (one at a time according to her prescribed recipes) to soda-soaked fabric. We scrunched up the fabric–picture miniature rosettes–in a plastic shoebox before adding the dye.
Have you ever tried ice dyeing? It’s spontaneous (like me!); it’s very little work; and it yields fantastic results. Here Erica is tapping dye powder onto ice that is sitting on top of a yard of pleated fabric that was rolled into a ball. The protective screening keeps the fabric ball from unraveling.
Love my fabrics, and I am not afraid to cut into them!
Dyeing fabrics with Carlene turned out to be a perfect prelude to Esterita’s class. Her workshop focused on tips for taking great photos in anticipation of choosing one image to turn into a pattern. That was the hard part. How could I choose just one? Hawaii is so gorgeous that I took many photos in the hope of eventually turning some of them into quilts.
Photography has always been one of my favorite hobbies, and Esterita provided many useful tips and techniques for taking great shots. (She knows her stuff–she’s a retired high school photography teacher.) Every morning Erica and I walked with our cameras before breakfast, and Esterita took us on group field trips as well. If you go to Kona, make sure you visit The Place of Refuge, The Painted Church, and Black Sand Beach.
Here’s the photo I chose to play with. Not what you were expecting from Hawaii, right? I can’t help it, I love architectural images. I transferred this one into Photoshop Elements and played with it.
Can you guess? It’s a detailed shot of a coffee roasting warehouse just down the street from our workshop space.
I added the second ladder, then boosted the colors under Enhance/Adjust Color/Saturation. Easy and way cool, don’t you think?
I didn’t have time to finish my “quiltlet” because my husband arrived early on the final day of class to begin the romantic part of the trip.
But when I got home I started what I refer to as a “flash” quilt, a term I coined for projects that I work on fast and furiously until they are done. I should say almost done. Here is the nearly completed Kona Coffee High.
If Hawaii is not your fave quilting destination, Esterita also offers workshops in Tuscany at a private Italian villa where I’m told the food is delizioso! Perhaps we’ll meet there in 2014?
I love being part of the quilting universe, especially when I get to visit Spring Quilt Market. Last year, it was Kansas City, the capital of awesome barbecue, and home to great outdoor venues for dancing. Portland hosted this year, and provided plenty of reasons to revisit even without a quilting excuse.
One of the first people we “met” was the window washer, who perched outside our window on the first morning. Look at that smile!
For someone with quilter’s ADHD and SOD (Shiny Object Disorder), Quilt Market is a very dangerous place. So many temptations, including a “Sample Spree”—a two-hour “shop ‘til you drop” event where you can pick up fabric, threads, trims, and gifts at wholesale prices. My credit cards were melting by evening’s end and, when I got to the airport on Sunday, my suitcase was ten pounds overweight! Not to mention the extra weight I put on dining at some of Portland’s best restaurants: Jake’s Crawfish (yes, I did eat my entire bucket of crawfish), Henry’s Tavern, and Zeus Cafe. And how could I say no to the See’s chocolate box that waited in our hotel room? It will take me months to Jazzercise my way back to my pre-Market weight. All totally worth it!
One of the best things about being at Quilt Market was making new friends, and reconnecting with quilters I had met in Kansas City. As a relatively new long-arm quilter, it was a thrill to chat with Angela Walters (author and long-arm quilter extraordinaire). Angela just launched a beautiful new fabric line called Legacy. I especially loved the quilting that Angela did on many of Tula Pink’s new quilts, especially the butterfly quilt.
Our former hometown girl, Bari J, who now lives in Arizona, was there to promote her new fabric line, Bijoux.
One of my new friends is Mo Bedell, creator of a very pretty beachy fabric line, Full Moon Lagoon. Check out that mobile made of fabrics she displayed in her booth–kind of like floating jellies.
Jason Dunn of Moda Fabrics is a fun-loving kind of guy! Love the dip-dyed tablecloths and the ombre effect of the garland.
Ooooooh! There’s a new line from Andover Fabric coming up . . . DOWNTON ABBEY, my favorite Masterpiece Theatre series. Loved chatting with David Weinstein, Andover’s president, about his trip to the U.K. to see the “real” Downton Abbey and the set for the series.
We’re still laughing about our run-in with Yvonne, ladies’ room attendant extraordinaire who had us howling about her experiences delivering room service in a Vegas hotel. What happens in Vegas should definitely stay in Vegas!
Do plan a trip to Portland soon, and promise me you’ll visit two places: The Real Mother Goose, with its amazing display of artisan crafts: jewelry, furniture, pottery, paintings, and art-to-wear. Finally, if you’re a bookworm like me, you need to make a pilgrimage to Powell’s Books. I can’t wait to find a long weekend when we can hop a flight back to Portland and get lost for hours in Powell’s, work up an appetite, and maybe go back to Henry’s Tavern to sample one of its 100 “mostly local” brews.
I know from years of teaching that students approach projects with different expectations. Some will work on the same quilt for several weeks or months and see it through to completion, while others bring in new projects every few weeks. Sometimes these projects get finished and sometimes not.
I have always considered myself a “product” person. I have a goal or deadline in mind and work to meet it within a certain time frame. This has always worked for me and has made me happy in my quiltmaking experience. Today, while sifting through a stack of quilts in search of a class sampler, I came across this one.
Finding this quilt felt almost like running into a long-lost friend who asks, “So, where have you been?” All the wonderful memories of one of my very first quilting experiences came flooding back. Five days spent with the one and only, hilariously funny, and inspirational Mary Ellen Hopkins changed my life forever. I often wonder where she is. I am so grateful for the spark she ignited in me and her encouragement to push forward into the world of teaching.
All those less than perfect points. Do they really matter in the big scheme of things?
How sweet are these quilting stitches – some of my very first!
There that quilt sat, folded among so many completed quilts, still waiting for the final quilting stitching and binding. I had truly forgotten about this cute little quilt. Why did I never finish it? Guess I just got busy and moved on to other projects.
How about you? Do you work to complete your projects or do you often set them aside waiting for just the right time to finish them, and possibly never finding that time? Do you then donate them or, like me, keep them folded among other projects?
I would love to hear your stories. In an attempt to do a bit of housecleaning to help clear my mind from the overload of a huge project (more on this later), I’m giving away some of my unfinished blocks to one interested reader. The ten 8″ finished, red-and-white pieced blocks were made . . . I’m guessing in the early 90s. Simply tell me your style (process or product) and why you might like to win these blocks by end of day June 14th, and I’ll announce the winner with my June 18th post.
Look forward to hearing your stories. Until next time, happy sewing everyone!
Do you ever feel intimidated by the many angle markings that appear on our cutting mats and rulers?
I truly do enjoy each step along the path to making a quilt–even cutting! I can’t say the same for dressmaking. I believe I would have paid big bucks for someone else to do all that cutting. I was always anxious to get on with sewing.
Along with lines marking inches and their fractions, many of the mats and rulers that we use for quick cutting are marked with angles, such as those for 30˚, 45˚ and 60˚. Sometimes I find myself turning a ruler round-and-round until I get it positioned correctly onto my fabric. I’m guessing I’m not alone in this.
My Craftsy Block of the Month for May is called Strippy Spools. I named it that because I chose to strip fabrics together in pairs, and some of the fabric combinations create a block that resembles a spool. This block uses a 45˚-angle cut. Sure, I could have purchased a ruler specifically designed for cutting right-angle triangles, but I am just stubborn enough to work with the rulers I already own. Besides, they include the necessary marking…right?
The photos below show you a few ways to use the lines on either your cutting mat or your ruler (or both) to determine and cut the angles you need. The examples demonstrate cutting a 45˚ angle. I hope you’ll give this a try. As the placement of ruler markings can vary from brand to brand, be patient in finding what works for you. There always seems to be a way to make it work.
If you’re interested in making the Strippy Spools block, be sure to check out my free lesson on Craftsy . You can access this lesson, as well as the previous lessons, at any time. They are yours to enjoy forever.
Thanks to all of you who took the time to post comments and express interest in my new line of rulers. Richard was so impressed with the response that he has offered to add another four rulers to our giveaway. The winner of the two rulers plus Grrip-it is Susan Dietrich. Four additional rulers will be sent to: Anna K, Sobana Sundar, Bev Aguilar and Jennifer Willard. Thank you all for participating and to Richard Quint for his generous donation.
This quilting thing? It’s utter madness. I’m not alone, though; I know you share this insanity. You finish a quilt, give it away, and in that pause between taking a deep, refreshing breath and re-committing to getting the house in order, you blow off your good intentions and turn on the sewing machine.
Yup, I did that within hours of the end of my recent holiday. I’d been eyeing another scrap-happy project, a Blue Underground Studios pattern called “Sticks and Bricks” published in the April 2012 issue of American Patchwork & Quilting, and I succumbed. Mind you, I do have a deadline for a magazine project-like thing plus a super-secret pattern in development. What the heck, go big or do housework. I’m opting for a BIG pile of quilts!
As I mentioned in my Tuesday post, I delivered a colorful scrappy quilt to my sister-in-law Laurence when we met up in Los Angeles recently for her daughter’s (my niece/god-daughter’s) bridal shower. Our hostess (and newest extended-family member as mother-of-the-groom) has the perfect setting for styled quilt photography so we staged an impromptu al fresco photo shoot.
Here’s a closer look at the quilt. One of my favorite long-armers, Elaine Beattie, machine quilted the top in a curvy water-drop motif.
Here’s a look at the quilt back with it’s faced binding and accent triangles in the corners.
Just to update, the latest issue of The Quilt Life (June 2013) has an excellent explanation of faced bindings done by Ricky Tims with how-to photos and a primer for doing the triangles as well. I touched on faced bindings in a recent post and promised to tell you then when the magazine was available on newsstands.
Giveaway Details Here
Oh yes, about that super, super-quick giveaway . . . leave me a comment TODAY and I will award a copy of Jelly Roll Quilts by Pam and Nicky Lintott at the end of the day and notify the winner Saturday morning. How’s that for insane fun?
Here’s your question: What do you do: drop everything to quilt or clean your house first, then quilt?
As you may have surmised from my recent post series, I’ve been on a quilt-finishing kick lately. Do you know what’s better than finishing quilts? Giving them away, of course! I’m recently returned from a transcontinental quilt-delivery spree having surprised my high-school friend in Florida with that Kaffe Fassett hexagon quilt and celebrating my sister-in-law’s recent birthday with a scrappy jelly-roll quilt. (I’ve got styled shots of her quilt ready for my Friday post–stay tuned!)
What’s the reward for this frenzy of creativity? Ah . . . a refreshing trip to The J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles where I had an encounter with my favorite still-life artist of a bygone age, Jan Van Huysum. As my “art” vernacular has grown over time, I find myself worshipping 17th-century Dutch artists. These are paintings I passed on for years as I delved into late 19th- and early 20th-century art when I was a tagalong to my mother’s museum visits. At that time, she was experimenting in Impressionist and Expressionist styles in her oil paintings–she segued to clay sculpture after that. My college years were devoted to Renaissance art following studies abroad in Europe and studying/living in proximity to the extensive collection of Old World masters at the National Gallery in Washington, D.C.
Although Vermeer’s been my passion for a long time, Jan Van Huysum’s incredible still life paintings are grabbing my attention now. It’s funny, I probably walked by a stellar Van Huysum in the National Gallery’s West Wing about a dozen times before I truly stopped and looked. Wow! While Vermeer opened my eyes to glowing natural light and capturing quiet moments, Van Huysum stuns me with his ability to capture the most perfect details in the play of light and shadow. His water droplets sparkle, his flowers are so alive they practically scent the air, his fruit beg tasting, and myriad tiny insects buzz, crawl, and flit in the artful, colorful, natural abundance.
So, did my obsession with photographing floral arrangements start with Van Huysum or am I obsessed with his still life portraits because I’m a flower girl? Whatever! Like every other blossom-mad quilter, I’m just going to enjoy the journey without excessive self examination. (Although I will visit every Jan Van Huysum painting I can find in France this summer!)
It’s always wonderful to hear of quilts being recognized in a gallery setting, and even more so when the quilter in question is a long-time friend. Linda Smith and I first met over 25 years ago in Boone, NC, as charter members of the newly formed Mountain Laurel Quilt Guild. Before long, she and I found ourselves part of a small group of five within the guild, sharing common interests and quilting road trips. We called ourselves The Common Threads, and one of our goals was to exhibit our work on a regular basis.
Our first opportunity came in the summer of 1995, when we were invited to exhibit at the historic Jones House Community and Cultural Center in downtown Boone. The month-long show was quite a success, attracting the attention of (the sadly, now-defunct) Lady’s Circle Patchwork Quilts magazine, which proposed a feature article about us and our exhibit. I was honored to write the text for that article. Here’s what I had to say then about Linda:
Linda Smith is the risk-taker (of the group). She laughs when we call her that, saying that we really mean “I jump right in when I don’t have a clue!” Not so. Instead, she is virtually fearless when it comes to quiltmaking, eager to try each newly discovered technique, viewing each step as an adventure. Her work is experimental, fresh, and exciting.
Very little has changed since I wrote those words so long ago. If anything, Linda has become even more of an adventurer and innovator. As she continues to push her creative boundaries, she seeks also to explore new venues for showing her work.
Like many of us, Linda started out as a strictly traditional quilter. She made her first quilt in the mid-1970s from a kit, and went on to quilt a few tops that had been pieced by her great-grandmother. As a career counselor (Director of the Career Center at Appalachian State University in Boone), Dr. Smith spent her days helping college students explore post-graduate options. What could be more natural than exploring post-traditional possibilities for fabric and thread?
“I started ‘going off’ in the mid-90s,” Linda recalls. “I had been making tons of little nine patches that I planned to use for a Postage Stamp quilt. I realized that wasn’t going to happen, so I started to explore other ways to use those blocks.” The Skewed Nine Patch quilt (in the photo above) was one of those early experiments.
Nowadays, Linda describes her approach as “somewhere between what if and why not.” Her contribution to the Macon exhibit included a series she calls Meditation. Its 12 pieces grew from a “somewhat non-specific, between-class” exercise inspired by a class with quilt artist, Hollis Chatelain. All 12 pieces were made using the same elements: two or three rectangles, nine squares, and some lines. Each measures approximately 13″ x 16.”
“As I began making these little pieces, I decided that if I liked the design, I would take it as far as I could with different fabrics, in different combinations, to create different moods. All were made entirely from fabrics in my stash.” she says. The materials are a mix of commercial fabrics, batiks, Cherrywood hand dyes, and others that she dyed or painted herself. “It’s amazing when you stop to look at what you have. I know that some quilters don’t want to cut into those ‘special’ fabrics. I want to use them! Sometimes I barely had enough, so I had to be creative.”
Linda finished each piece with a clean faced edging (see Jennifer’s April 16 post) and a sleeve on all four sides to insert flat molding. Always on the lookout for the next innovation, she adds, “Next time, I might try affixing the pieces to artist’s canvas.”
In addition to the dozen 13″ x 16″ pieces, Linda continued to experiment, this time with size, ultimately expanding her series to include one larger piece (20″ x 24″) and a few small framed pieces.
These days, Linda splits her time between three locations: Boone, Macon, and Amelia Island, FL. (After the Macon exhibit closed, the remaining pieces of her Meditations series went on to the Amelia SanJon Gallery in Fernandina Beach, FL.) While she admits that working from three places can be a challenge, she manages to cope very nicely. Boone remains the center of primary operation, “but I carry my Pfaff everywhere.”
Her quilting continues to become more collage-like. To this end, she takes not only quilting classes, but collage classes, recognizing that “the two overlap and inform each other.” She enjoys combining paper collage and quilted fabric.
The fiber pieces are completed first and then hand-stitched to a collaged or painted canvas. Leaves and trees are a primary recurring theme and although she is often pulled to the more abstract (as in her Meditation series), trees and leaves always seem to pull her back.
For the past few years, Linda has belonged to a small group in Boone comprised of visual artists of various media who expand and inspire her– who encourage her to think outside the box. This group, an offshoot of a 12-week Artist’s Way workshop series, forced her to think of herself as an artist. “It’s been a very powerful experience for me.” At the same time, she continues to “treasure and cherish” the traditional quilting community, particularly through her membership and participation in Macon’s largely traditional Heart of Georgia Quilt Guild. Evidence of this dual appreciation is evident in her Macon home, where old and new pieces exist serenely side by side.
As for sources of inspiration, Linda lists “lots of classes, lots of books (mostly quilt-related at first, but now expanded to include more art-related books as well), attendance at art shows and galleries, and Pinterest. I find so much inspiration there!”
Her advice to those quilters who want to try something new: “Don’t be afraid, don’t worry about what others will say about your art, forget the quilt police. A couple of years from now, my work may look totally different, which might be a good thing. I like to evolve.”
We’ll be watching, Linda!
Before I sign off, I’ve got good news for two SHWS readers–the winners of the double giveaway in our recent First Quilt, Latest Quilt post featuring Verna Mosquera. Ginabeth is the winner of the Prima Ballerina pattern and the packet of eight fat quarters from Verna’s Pirouette fabric line and Kathy Renz has won the packet of 5″ Pirouette charm squares. Ladies, please contact us via firstname.lastname@example.org with your snail mail addresses and we’ll get your winnings on the way. Thanks again to Verna for providing so generously for our giveaway.
Today I just felt like sewing. Nothing large, or complex. Just something that would let me play with fabric, and that I could start and finish in an hour or so.
A summer or two ago, we decided to plant “a few little lavendar plants” in a bed near our front door. Given the sunny location, and the Mediterranean-like micro-climate here east of San Francisco Bay, it wasn’t long before our little lavendar patch was assuming the proportions of a lavendar farm!
As last summer ended, I brought some of the harvest to dry indoors, enjoying the fragrance all winter long.
With a new crop well on its way, however, I’ve been getting kinda desperate. Hmmmmm. Dried lavendar. Fabric. Ribbons and trims. Small project. Sachets! Not only a worthy prospect to soothe my yen to sew, but a perfect, quick-and-easy Mother’s Day (or end-of-year-for-teacher) gift, too.
There are so many ways you can make them. For the basic sashet:
1. Cut two fabric squares to the size you’d like the finished sachet to be, plus about 1/2″ for seam allowance.
2. Place the squares right sides together, and stitch all around the perimeter with a 1/4″ seam, leaving a generous opening on one side for turning and filling.
3. Turn right side out and fill with lavendar (a funnel or folded sheet of paper helps here). Tuck the remaining seam allowance to the inside, and handstitch the opening closed with a blind- or whipstitch.
Ah, the variations! You can tie the basic sachet package-style with decorative ribbon. Add a charm, just for fun.
You can center and stitch a piece of vintage crochet work (or other vintage tidbit) to the front fabric before assembling the “pillow.” The size of the crochet piece will determine the finished size of the sachet. If you add a little extra to the cut squares, the fabric forms a lovely frame.
As an alternative, you can stitch lace, ribbon, or other favorite trims to the front fabric before assembly. (I added the button after the sachet was filled, turned, and stitched closed.)
If you’d like, add a ribbon loop for hanging. For this variation, I placed the fabrics wrong sides together and took a generous 1/4″ seam. (No turning necessary, but I still needed an opening to add the scent.) Once the sachet was filled, I folded and fused wide ribbon to all four sides, knotted a length of 1/8″-wide satin ribbon, and secured the ribbon with a button.
Of course, you can make your sachet a shape other than square (and use fabrics other than cotton). I used scraps of dupioni silk to make this rectangular sachet. Circles and hearts are other options.
So there you go. I spent a delightful few hours fondling fabric, stretching my creative muscles, making a glorious–but highly satisfying–mess, and in the end, came away with five finished little pieces. (And boy, does my sewing room smell good!)
That’s it for now. ‘Til next time, happy stitching!
Whenever we attend a quilt show, pick up the current issue of a quilting magazine, or peruse the latest book by a favorite instructor, it’s always with the anticipation of seeing “what’s new.” It’s the rare quilter, however, who springs fully evolved to the quilting scene. There’s one experience that we all share, no matter how novice or experienced: the first quilt. We thought it would be fun (and encouraging!) to ask an established quilter to share not only the most recent, but also his or her very first quilt. And so we launch a new, “occasional” feature–First Quilt, Latest Quilt–and our first featured quilter is the talented Bay Area quilter, pattern and fabric designer, and soon-to-be author, Verna Mosquera.
Since taking her first quilt class in 1996, Verna–in her own words–was hooked. “I knew it was trouble when I couldn’t wait to get home to take my new fabric purchases out of the bag. Still, to this day, I lay out my fabric along the dashboard of my car and enjoy them during the ride home.”
Here are Verna’s first and latest quilts, and what she has to say about them. (Be sure to read to the end for info on today’s DOUBLE giveaway and the announcement of a special June debut.)
Verna’s First Quilt
In 1996, I decided to take a quilting class as a New Year’s resolution to continue to be more creative. I never in a million years knew how that decision would change my life. I was so fortunate to have had the sweetest, most knowledgable teacher in Laura Nownes. The project was a sampler quilt, one I’m certain that many of your readers have made–if not one very much like it. I learned about choosing an inspiration fabric to set the color palette. Then, with each week, I approached a new block and/or technique. Those 12 weeks gave me an incredible foundation on which to build. I was able to learn the simple rules of quilting which have served me so well.
It has been such a long time since I looked at that first quilt. Today, as I pulled it out to take a photo, I truly realized how far I’d come from those imperfect stitches, cut-off points, and horrific applique!
While I am my worst critic, I still could see a foreshadowing in the quilt of what was to come: my ability to group fabrics and color combinations, my need to use many fabrics in one quilt, and my creativity within each block–almost as if each one told a little story.
My most vivid memory of working on that quilt was how I just couldn’t stop working on it. I would spend hours and hours quilting, and today that has not changed.
Fast Forward to Today
One of the things I love about being an artist is that inspiration comes from everywhere, and I never know when it will spark. Last January, I was vending at a Southern California show and realized that my “neighbor” was one of my favorite booths for vintage buttons, ribbons, and trim. Knowing it would be a danger zone for me, I resisted the urge to step next door until the final hours of the show. It wasn’t minutes into my visit before I shifted from vendor into artist mode. One bit of trim led me to a wonderful button, and on to a gorgeous piece of delicate lace. I had a wonderful time gathering my vintage treasures. As I collected the bits, I ran next door and asked my assistant for a cellophane bag to put my gathered goodies in. As the color palette grew, it reminded me of a painting I had seen years ago on a visit to Paris. The painting was Ballerina Dancers In Pink by Edgar Degas; the wonderful taupes, pinks, and ivories were just stunning together.
When I got home from the show, I pulled the image of the painting up on my computer. I was amazed to see the colors in my bag were spot on the colors in the Degas painting. Stunned that I could remember the beauty of the colors in the painting so clearly, I knew I had the starting point for my newest fabric collection, Pirouette. When I received the first of those fabrics from Free Spirit, it seemed only fitting to design a quilt to showcase them. The result was Prima Ballerina.
Thank you, Verna, for sharing your story with us, and for sharing the photo below, which demonstrates how those lovely Pirouette fabrics can grace a “real-life” ballerina as well.
Thanks to Verna also for providing us with goodies for two wonderfulgiveaways. Readers, leave us a comment by end of day Wednesday, May 8, telling us a tidbit about your first or most recent quilt, and you’ll be entered into a drawing to receive a Prima Ballerina pattern and a packet of 8 fat-quarters from Verna’s Pirouette fabric line OR a charm pack of 5″ squares from the Pirouette collection. Darra will announce the winners in her Friday, May 10 post.