I mentioned a few weeks ago that we had some exciting news to share with you soon. Well, today is the day! Laura and I have been co-authoring See How We Sew as a duo for a while now. We are excited to say that we have a new member joining us to keep the ideas, information, and inspiration on quilting and sewing flowing for our readers. Laura and I would like you to meet Darci Read.
Darci is a talented quilter and sewist that I met a few years back through the East Bay Modern Quilters. She is a lovely person with a unique style and eye for design. I love her work and am so excited to have her join our team. – Pati
Laura’s thoughts: Since Jennifer retired from the blog, Pati and I have wanted to add another contributor. Pati met Darci through the East Bay Modern Quilters and felt that Darci could be the perfect fit as someone who would provide a different perspective and share her knowledge and expertise on topics which interest her. After meeting Darci, I couldn’t agree more. I am thrilled to have her join our team. Please join Pati and me in welcoming Darci Read to SHWS.
Hello! Darci here. I’m a graphic designer by day and sewist every other minute. I started sewing (again) 6 years ago in New York City. I had moved there from Minnesota to finish my graduate school. When my sister had her first baby, I wanted to make her something handmade. Enter: Quilting! I hadn’t sewn since Home Ec class but decided to take a class at the City Quilter in Manhattan. The rest is history.
(Sidenote: I feel like I might hold a world record in stash building. Looking at my pile of fabric makes me wonder if I have my “started quilting” dates wrong. My other hobby is hunting estate sales and thrift stores. I love anything vintage, especially the fabrics.)
Fast forward 6 years, I now make most of my own clothing, sew lots of quilts for friends and family and express myself with quilts that I have just started showing. I rent time on a long-arm in Berkeley and love machine quilting. It’s my favorite part of the quilting process. I’m an active member of 3 quilt guilds in the Bay Area, but my home base is the East Bay Modern Quilters. We meet on the last Tuesday of the month-I’d love to say hello!
This year I’ve started to teach sewing also. I have a group of elementary students who come once a week and are working on their first quilt. Their ability to jump in and let go amazes me. I also am working on a class that will be held at Bay Quilts about beginning garment making. Be sure to check their site for more info.
Here’s something I’m working on now. I love mixing traditional elements to modern quilts, like taking these English Paper Pieced Hexies and appliqueing them to a larger solid background so I have lots of space to quilt. I’ll be sure to share the finished project.
I’m so honored to be part of the See How We Sew team! My passion is machine quilting and modern design, and I can’t wait to share that with you. I have my own blog at darcisews.com. Feel free to say hello there, too. I love comments.
Hello SHWS readers, Jennifer here! It’s been many months since I’ve been in touch. These days I’m trolling the crafting and quilting resources of the great Southwest from my new digs in Arizona. Believe me, it’s challenging to leave the abundance of the San Francisco Bay Area where artists and craftspeople are setting trends, but it’s invigorating to jump into the unknown and explore who I am when I don’t have my posse of creative types for input. (Lordy, I miss Laura’s know-how though!)
In my adventuring I’ve come across a wonderful pattern designer called Carrie Payne of Believe Magic. As I explain in a post at my blog Chasing Bright Shiny Objects, I discovered her work at Scottsdale Quilts in Arizona. I don’t typically fall for charming figurative designs, but something clicked with her illustrations that celebrate young womanhood. It’s a case of right place/right time and a sudden need to make something special—my eldest son was about to propose to his girlfriend! As a mother-in-law-in-the-making I realized I needed to welcome my prospective daughter-in-law in an appropriate quilter fashion . . .
And so, if you click over to my blog Chasing BSOZ, you’ll get the lowdown on my Carrie Payne adventure and the opportunity to enter a giveaway to win one of Carrie’s patterns. The deadline is Monday, November 14th. Leave me a comment and I will draw random winners. There’s a question to answer, but you’ll find that at the end of the post.
What’s Better Than One Bridal Project? Two, Of Course!
It’s a bit embarrassing to admit, but once I made one engagement gift, I couldn’t stop. Maybe it was the fabulous vintage ribbons available at Scottsdale Quilts, or perhaps I’m building up good will with my other son’s girlfriend. Her only sister is about to marry and she’s the maid of honor plus organizer of the bachelorette party. We decided she needed a bride quilt bedecked with charms from all the girls attending the party.
I didn’t fly as blindly this time with the little quilt. This bride-to-be was months into preparation and had an official color scheme and a wedding gown. Carrie’s pattern is very flexible and I was able to style that bride to match her plans. Don’t you just love Pinterest? I took her special color board to the quilt shop and craft store and found just the right embellishments.
Carrie’s pattern allows for styling, and so my son’s girlfriend and I played with different hair designs and decorative elements. We ended up with her hair down and a fascinator carefully snipped from a length of vintage lace. Those roses could have formed a bouquet, but all told, that was too much when elaborate lace layers alternated with white print tiers.
These are some of the finishing details. I told her I’d sew the charms on once the bachelorette party is over and there’s a blank label on the back for the guests to sign.
After four years of blogging with a quartet of talented women at See How We Sew, I am going to take a leap into solo blogging. Starting this coming Friday you’ll find me at Chasing Bright Shiny Objects, a blog about whatever strikes my fancy. Sure, there’ll be quilts and sewn crafts in the mix, but with my own blogging venue, I’ll be exploring a broader world of creativity and random other things.
Before I head out, I’d like to take a look back at some of my favorite posts and shared moments with Christie, Darra, Laura, and Pati. Just to reassure you, dear readers, SHWS remains in the capable hands of Laura and Pati.
Do check back on Friday for a preview of Chasing Bright Shiny Objects. I’d like to invite you to join me on my new adventures—the road map is a work-in-progress!
No question—Candace Kling. Writing a blog is a great excuse to marshal courage and contact the more iconic figures in our creative realms for interviews. I’ve long admired Candace and it was a treat to meet her and visit her outrageously wonderful studio: rough around the edges in its warehouse setting, but a true Aladdin’s cave filled with glorious examples of her art and collected vintage wares.
Favorite SHWS Project
Again, a clear favorite for me,Achoo!, a collaborative pattern we developed for the debut of Jennifer Sampou’s Shimmer line. It’s not easy to squeeze in shared sewing time when we have such crazy working and life schedules—remember Laura had her daughter’s wedding in that interval—but somehow we managed to design and sew the quilt, plus write the Achoo! pattern instructions. Yes, we were breathless by the end, mostly because we had to make an additional quilt for the Robert Kaufman Fabrics trunk show, but we very happy with the result. Truly, the team collaboration has been the most satisfying experience in this last year. (Laura is awe inspiring as she power sews!)
Favorite Team Event
It too was madness, but so much fun: Quilting in the Garden 2012. That’s where our original quartet, Christie, Darra, Laura, and I, were featured artists for the outdoor quilt exhibition in Livermore, California. What a fun weekend we had visiting with fellow quilters and visitors to Alden Lane Nursery. Laura returned this year with her long-time collaborator, Diana McClun, for a retrospective exhibit of a quarter century of shared quilt making. They have an astonishing number of them in their archives–we’re talking hundreds of quilts!
Favorite Personal Post(s)
Yikes, that’s a tough one because there are several that resonate with me still. As a writer who spends most of her professional time crafting sentences that have a neutral voice, taking those first steps to sharing my own voice has been both scary and thrilling. My first post, Designing Quilts One Grocery Bag at a Time, was a complete improvisation. I experienced something that tickled my fancy and I wrote about it. It was weird inspiration, but that spurred me to share the moment with photographs. My peanut gallery of males (i.e. my all-male household) thought I was demented as I tried to figure out how to photograph groceries on my kitchen table. Par for the course as it turns out with this blog–we have each grown our skills as we’ve navigated this endeavor. Next fave personal post: My Quilts Have Feet–it makes me teary eyed. I miss my little fellas, even as I adore the grown men they have become. I absolutely do miss them when I have large quilts to photograph though. They know the drill and, as I mentioned in this recent post, my new crew needs some pointers.
Ah, this one was a true pleasure: the African textiles and quilts series that culminated in a virtual quilt show of African quilts (Part I, Part II). This mega international project would have be impossible without Paula Benjaminson, art quilter, ambassadorial wife, and former U.S. foreign service officer. We most definitely spanned the globe with this extravaganza: Paula and I were in touch via email as she traveled from Africa to Europe and the U.S. The images from the collection of posts are still favorites for Pinterest pinners and for those who love African textiles.
Wow, four years and somewhere around 50+ individual posts, it’s been a blast here at SHWS. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts with me in the Comments section, it’s been a true pleasure getting to know such a talented and passionate array of crafting people. Keep the pedal to the medal with your sewing and do consider joining me on my new blogging journey.
Here she is, all decked out in her Frida Kahlo inspired vest. With a passion for color and design, quilt artist Margaret Linderman finds inspiration in the works of painter, Frida Kahlo. From quilts, to wearable arts and collage works, it’s evident that this talented woman just oozes creativity. It’s who she is and what she does.
If you missed my last post about Margaret’s recent surprise birthday party and beautiful Frida Kahlo quilt, simply click here to read about this special day. As promised, here are just a few of the many projects Margaret has made over the years. Enjoy!
Margaret joined the hexagons with marigold as she tells me that this color is the custom used on graves for All Souls Day.
Couldn’t resist sharing with you some of the beautiful silver bracelets Margaret is known for wearing.
Here’s the cover of one of Margaret’s favorite books on Frida . . . obviously chock full of inspiration.
Thanks for stopping in today and wishing you all a week filled with inspiration. Until next time…
Classy, kind, generous, talented, and gracious are just a few of the many adjectives one could use to describe one of our beloved local quilters, Margaret Linderman. Although Margaret has been the subject of a past post, her recent surprise birthday party inspired me to share with you the magic of that special day and Frida Kahlo, the woman whose paintings inspire much of Margaret’s beautiful work.
If you are not familiar with Frida Kahlo, you can visit this website which contains a wealth of biographical information along with images of her work.
Margaret has many interests, among them being quiltmaking and wearable arts. Her work has been featured at both local quilt quild shows as well as the Pacific International Quilt Festival. In a recent interview, here’s what Margaret has to say about her interest in Frida Kahlo.
1.When did you first become interested in the work of Frida Kahlo?
In grade school (I was a student at the lab school at SDState) we studied murals. The school had a wonderful one in a hallway, so I became familiar with Diego Rivera, Mexico’s preeminent muralist. After moving to the San Francisco Bay Area in late 70s, I was invited to view a documentary about Frida Kahlo at the Pacific Film Archive in Berkeley. I only knew that she was the wife of Diego Rivera. My eyes were opened and I was curious to find out more about her. I particularly loved her costumes, her passion for animals and native plants that were evident in many of her paintings. I had always loved folkloric colors, costumes, and fabrics. At that time I was primarily interested in Art-to-Wear and small fiber constructions. When Alexander Henry issued their first Frida Kahlo fabric, I knew a Frida vest and jacket were about to emerge using techniques I had just learned at Empty Spools Seminars, a fabric collage class taught by Rosemary Eichorn.
2. What is it about Frida’s work that inspires you?
I saw the fabulous exhibit at SFMoMa of Frida’s work. I also saw the photographic exhibit in San Jose. Frida’s use of bold colors, dark subjects, and native flora and fauna inspired me to incorporate them into my work.
3. How do you use her designs, colors, etc. in your own work?
After taking Alethea Ballard’s wonderful dream chair class, I knew I wanted to create a piece that was inspired by one of Frida’s paintings. The Frida and Diego Dream chair was that piece. I have continued to use images that were reminiscent of her work–but perhaps a little brighter. I am also a huge fan of the Day of the Dead or All Souls Day customs. Those images play well with Frida themes.
4.What types of projects have you made that reflect this inspiration?
Several quilts, vests, coats, and wall pieces dance with folkloric themes that are already completed.
I have a couple in the design process that incorporate floral tributes, skulls, and images of Frida.
In addition, I was lucky enough to have been gifted a lovely book about Frida Kahlo with commentary by Judy Chicago: turning pages brings me information and images. And now I have my very own Frida quilt made for me by my friends and organized by my daughter, Janis and friends.
Be sure to check back on Friday as we share a gallery of Margaret’s work.
Hello dear readers! Hope the holiday season is treating you well. We’re enjoying the closing days of 2014, and looking forward to all sorts of crafting and sewing adventures in 2015. You’ll remember that last year we shared our Top 10 Posts for 2013 and we’re establishing a New Year’s tradition by looking at our results for 2014 and sharing them with you.
Like last year, you favor learning about techniques, notable textile artists, and products:
Once again, let me introduce this week’s guest, Jessica J.E. Smith of The Quilt and Needle. If you missed the Tuesday post, be sure to go back and read it. “Jess” is back today to answer a question she hears often in her business as a quilt pattern designer. Welcome back, Jess!. – Pati
Labels can mean everything to a designer. Modern, traditional, art, whimsical – what is your design style?
My style? Uh . . .well . . . um . . . so the thing is . . . . Hey look, a butterfly!
I have nothing against labels, but I really have a hard time fitting myself into one category. I have been fortunate enough to dabble in designing quilts that fall into each of these categories. And if you ask me to choose, I’ll split myself apart trying to decide. I love all my . . . wait for it . . . babies.
The design process varies for every artist, but one step for any responsible quilt designer is to test your design. Over the years I have developed a great relationship with a large handful of testers, and I have learned which of these “labels” each of my testers fancies for themselves.
My mom, for example, is a traditional pattern piecer. She is also quite keen to speak her mind when she is not impressed with a design. I can trust that designs that appeal to Mom will also appeal to other traditionalists out there; and those that don’t, won’t.
Those that don’t appeal to Mom, however, are held in high esteem by my quirky editor, Lizzie Haskel of Frolicking Threads. Her modern-minded family also likes to chime in on my designs. I always have a good guess on which patterns my modern followers will go gaga over.
I’ve noticed an interesting trend with my testers, however. Some of my patterns are favored by all. These patterns have been standouts for me when I attend Market, garnering attention from both sides of the traditional vs. modern debate. Internally, we (at The Quilt and Needle) have started to label these appealing designs Crossover patterns. Ugh. I know. Another label. But since this new label actually combines two existing labels into one, I think it’s a win win.
So what makes a pattern a Crossover pattern?
Sometimes I take a traditional (read old) block and mix it up, twist it up, cut it up, pull it apart . . . you get the idea. I mess with a traditional block to liven it up a bit, and come up with a pattern that traditionalists enjoy because they love the block. And modernists love them too because they like the freshness of the design.
Sometimes a great Crossover pattern is appealing because of its simplicity. This allows the quilt-maker to choose their favorite style of fabrics, which will ultimately dictate the label their quilt top will fall under.
Let’s be real. Many of the same characteristics that are used to define modern quilts are prevalent in traditional designs. When I have asked modern quilters over the years what makes their quilts modern, they have said:
Lots of negative space
It occurred to me though, that these elements have always existed in quilting. Yes, there is absolutely a modern quilting style and a list of characteristics that define it. Modern quilting has birthed amazing quilts and given inspiration to such a large number of young quilt enthusiasts that quilting is no longer known only as a grandmotherly craft. Much like new knitting trends and yarn bombing have morphed from an old craft, modern quilting has absolutely enhanced our fabulous trade. But some of my conversations early on made me wonder – Were some of the folks in the modern movement unknowingly, closet-traditional-quilters? Or if perhaps, they were somewhere in the middle!
Here are two examples of quilts that use traditional characteristics with a modern influence.
There is room for all styles in quilting, modern, traditional, or whatever floats your boat. As for me, well, the view from the middle of the road’s notbad. Not bad at all. – Jessica J. E. Smith
Thanks Jess! What a great way to get the best of all the quilt styles! I especially loved Windsong! I’ll see you at International Quilt Market Houston next week, when you talk about Crossover Quilts in the Schoolhouse series!
I am excited to introduce you to a friend of mine, Jessica J. E. Smith, also known as Jess,
who I met several years ago at International Quilt Market Houston. Jess approached me to share her two cents about a question I’d asked at a lecture we’d both attended at the show. After that, we spent the day walking the show floor, shared a meal at a Greek restaurant afterwards, and have built a great friendship ever since. She is bubbly, creative, and so much fun to share quilt-love with!
Jess owns The Quilt and Needle, an online an online quilting store and interactive community , She specializes in designing one-of-a-kind quilting patterns and hosting unique Mystery Quilt Weekend experiences to help quilters overcome their personal boundaries. I participated in one of these mystery weekends and, let me tell you, they are fun! Imagine receiving a pretty fabric bundle in the mail, getting online instructions every few hours throughout the weekend, and watching a beautiful design emerge as you sew–oh, did I mention that you are sharing this weekend in a forum with participants from across the globe? It’s totally fun! Welcome Jess–we are so glad you are here!
Mystery Quilts and Why They are Worth Making
I design quilts. I piece, I quilt, I show, I gift, I sell, and sometimes I even get to cuddle with my work. No surprise, I love what I do. But the best part of my job is designing and writing mystery quilt patterns. Why? To begin with, I adore surprises. Not just receiving surprises, but presenting others with puzzles and tricking (yes, misleading, fooling, generally hoodwinking) them so that they are truly surprised at the end of the process. That’s just plain good times. When I design a mystery, it’s like I am throwing a killer surprise party for every quilter who works on that project (only, way less clean-up is required).
For example, who would’ve thought that when you started out by sewing together these various squares with borders:
You’d get this quilt at the end? (These pictures were taken at one of our March Mystery retreats in Tomball, TX. The quilt pattern is Unexpected Twist.)
The fun of it all gives me a serious case of the warm and fuzzies.
If I am being totally honest though, the grand surprise of a good mystery pattern isn’t really the best part. Certainly, I started designing mystery quilts as a fun way to surprise my quilty peeps, but my true addiction to mystery pattern writing came when I realized that mystery patterns were an often unutilized tool to help quilters overcome their self-imposed limitations.
You know that quilt pattern you’d love to try, but you keep telling yourself:
“I am not good enough to make that!”
“I love that quilt! But I could never do that.”
“That’s just too much for me, I’ll stick with squares!”
“I’d never have time to do something like that!”
Anybody? Yeah, pretty much all of us, right? We come up with any number of excuses to NOT try that design that we are sure will defeat us. Put simply, we often fail at a pattern because we never allowed ourselves to try. For me, once upon a time, that unclimbable mountain of a pattern was a Feathered Star. But hey, look at me now Mom! I created a mystery pattern to help all of those quilters afflicted with the same irrational Featheredstaraphobia I once suffered from.
This pattern is Bella Cosa. There are no Y seams or similarly intermediate-level piecing involved, which is why this made a fabulous mystery pattern.
A good mystery quilt should lead the quilter through the process one simple step at a time, so the quilter doesn’t feel overwhelmed. If you don’t know the end product, you aren’t able to keep yourself from trying a fabulous design because of self-doubt.
Over the years I’ve often experienced the power of my mystery patterns helping other quilters achieve their own “unachievable”. In one of my first teaching gigs as a mystery quilt teacher, I met “Square Girl”. It was a six hour class. They came in with their fabrics cut, ready to sew, and completed a small top in a day. The mystery I was teaching was my pattern Phire’s Radiance, which is my take on a Lone Star. I walked past this girl while she was sewing and she was murmuring “I like squares… I like squares… I like squares…” as she pieced together this quilt full of strips, and diamonds, and triangles… maybe four squares in the entire thing. I was still pretty new at teaching and I remember telling my husband when I got home that I blew it… I would never see this girl again! I have to give her props though; she persevered and completed her small table topper in class.
This was her third quilt ever! Pretty amazing I think. Anyway, my next mystery program rolled around a few weeks later, and you wouldn’t believe who showed up to that class. Yep. Square Girl. And she was smiling. And she was motivated. She’d made a Lone Star and now she was ready to conquer the quilting world! She has signed up for every one of my mystery programs since then. She’s hooked. She’s a fabric addict. Now Square Girl is selling commissioned quilts to support her habit. She was recently commissioned to make the King size version of Phire’s Radiance (again, no ‘y’ seams or similarly intermediate techniques were harmed used in the making of these quilts).
Whoa. Just whoa.
So that’s why I do what I do. And that’s why it’s worth giving mystery quilts a try. You never know what you don’t know until you try something that you don’t know you are trying.
Thank you Jess! What a great topic! And BTW readers, Jess’s feathered star, Bella Cosa, was created using a line of fabrics that I designed a few years back! What a sweet quilt!
Want more? Jess will be visiting again on Friday to chat about her Crossover Quilts. She will present Schoolhouse sessions on both Mystery Quilts and Crossover Quilts at Interenational Quilt Market at the end of the month.
Urban and Amish Giveaway Winner Here!
And we have a winner! Congratulations to Houston Quilt Lady.
Welcome to Day 5 of the Tidal Lace Blog Hop showcasingKim Andersson’s first collection with Windham Fabrics. We are so happy to be a stop on Kim’s tour!
I’ve known Kim for a few years–remember she was one of our guest bloggers, earlier this year–and I’ve had the pleasure of seeing Kim bring her beautiful drawings to life in Tidal Lace. The fabric line has a special place in my heart as it reminds me of my favorite beach getaway, the town of Bolinas, just north of San Francisco. And would you believe that Kim also visited Bolinas while working on Tidal Lace! (It is so special that locals have been known to remove the highway sign telling you how to get there!)
We designed A Day at the Shore for the Tidal Lace fabric line to capture a feeling of a day at the beach. Remember that moment when you unfold and flick your beach towel so it catches the wind and then floats down to a patch of sun-warmed sand? Grab your ice cold drink, sunscreen, and summer-time read . . . it’s beach time!