Creating Diagonal Designs in the Classroom

Nineteen quilters spent six hours playing with fabric and creating another layer of community with each other. We had a large bright sewing space with plenty of room for all of us to set up our sewing stations. Our Super Saturday Sew-in produced original designs based on the three different blocks I brought as samples. Here are several pictures of our day Lila Rostenberg snapped as we worked and played.

Paula and friends enjoy the light, the space and each other.

Paula and friends enjoy the light, the space and each other.

Working on a design wall, Dierdre used bright batiks to enliven the traditional Broken Dishes pattern of many triangles. She did a good job of "keeping the eye moving".

Working on a design wall, Dierdre used bright batiks to enliven the traditional Broken Dishes pattern of many triangles. She did a good job of “keeping the eye moving”.

Suzanne used a modified version of the Split Nine Patch block to create a secondary pattern.

Suzanne used a modified version of the Split Nine Patch block to create a secondary pattern.

Lila took her inspiration from a project she viewed on Pinterest for this pattern of triangles featuring solids and prints.

Lila took her inspiration from a project she viewed on Pinterest for this pattern of triangles featuring solids and prints.

Two women brought sweet treats to share with the group. Lila baked these carrot cake cupcakes (my favorite) as a surprise for my birthday the following day. And the group surprised me with an overflowing bag of batik fat quarters for my birthday. It was  a great day all around!

Two women brought sweet treats to share with the group. Lila baked these carrot cake cupcakes (my favorite) as a surprise for my 71st birthday the following day. And the group surprised me with an overflowing bag of batik fat quarters for my birthday. It was a great day all around!

I’m encouraging everyone who was in class to send me a photo of their work-in-progress and I will post it here. Dierdre was the first to respond. She has sent a photo of her work-in-progress as seen on her design wall. She used the very simple Broken Dishes of arranging triangles. About her top Dierdre wrote, “I’m still deciding on borders and finishes, but the top is sewn. I loved this creative process–there was no planning involved, just playing with color and patterns.”

Broken Dishes, composed of a single size of half square triangles, can make a dynamic diagonal design!

Broken Dishes, composed of a single size of half square triangles, can make a dynamic diagonal design!

Amy used bright colors to enliven Shaded Nine Patch block as seen on her design wall.

Shadred Nine Patch block by Amy created diamonds of color.

Shadred Nine Patch block by Amy created diamonds of color.

Velina used two beautiful William Morris fabrics for her Split Nine Patch and chose to “fussy cut” gold flowers for the centers. With just eight blocks she designed this piece to fit a cut out spot in her dining room hutch.

Velina designed a small piece to use in her dining room.

Velina designed a small piece to use in her dining room.

Sharon had assistance from a family friend as she designs her Broken Dishes project.

Quilters have many challenges to finishing our projects. Sharon has an opinionated cat trying to add new design elements.

Quilters have many challenges to finishing our projects. Sharon has an opinionated cat trying to add new design elements.

Maria experimented with her blocks by choosing different center fabrics. Then she proceeded to explore a variety of arrangements available with the strong diagonal slash of the block. Here is one design possibility that recalls Flying Geese.

Maria turned her Split Nine Patch blocks into large, vibrant Flying Geese in this possible arrangement.

Maria turned her Split Nine Patch blocks into large, vibrant Flying Geese in this possible arrangement.

Jan just sent this photo of her quilt top using the Shaded Four Patch block (the one I called Three triangles and a Square until I learned this easier name). She explained that she chose to work on our Queen’s challenge starting with a fat quarter of chickens from Queen Kathy and that little cat block someone left on the give-away table at Guild. Her working title for this piece is “Queenie’s Farm” or “For the Guild Show, Don’t Run Around Like A Chicken with Its Head Chopped Off!” Jan took the basic idea of using diagonal blocks and added her own twist.

Jan added her own creative ideas in designing this wallhanging.

Jan added her own creative ideas in designing this wallhanging.

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Diagonal Designs Make Dynamic Quilts

The Split Nine Patch block with its strong diagonal of light and dark allows you to use the variety of settings usually associated with the log cabin block. I added a unusual border treatment here to give a three dimensional feel. 36" x 36"

The Split Nine Patch block with its strong diagonal of light and dark allows you to use the variety of settings usually associated with the log cabin block. I added a unusual border treatment here to give a three dimensional feel. 36″ x 36″


In conjunction with my program “Diagonal Designs Make Dynamic Quilts” at QUILT on August 25, I’m teaching a Super Saturday Sew-in class on the same subject on August 27 from 9-3:00. The cost is $10 and you can pick from three different options. I will have the instructions for all three blocks. We will make blocks and then play with arrangements allowing you to design you own quilt. Sign up with Amy at guild.

I've called this block Three Triangles and a Square because I cannot find another name. Can you? Quilt title is Poppies and Sunflowers and measures 46" x 45".

I’ve called this block Three Triangles and a Square because I cannot find another name. Can you? Quilt title is Poppies and Sunflowers and measures 46″ x 45″.

Supply List for Diagonal Designs Make Dynamic Quilts

Choose one for the Super Saturday Sew-in on August 27
You can decide in class after looking at the samples—this supply list works for all the options.
Split Nine Patch: This nine patch block is loaded with design possibilities! The diagonal split in color or shading gives you lots of creative options. The basic color scheme is light, medium and a dark center. All the options available for putting together a log cabin quilt are here. Make it scrappy or sophisticated, you will enjoy creating with this block. Block size: 4 ½ x 4 1/2:”

Three Triangles and a Square: This diagonal block features a large triangle on one side and a square wedged between two smaller triangles on the other side. Again, all the options available for putting together a log cabin quilt are here. Block size: 5” x 5”.

Broken Dishes: This traditional block is composes entirely of triangles. Cut thirty or forty triangles and then start arranging them on your design wall. Cut more of the ones that you like or that you find useful in creating an interesting design. Tip: If you want a particular size block for your finished square of two triangles sewn together, add 7/8” instead of the usual ½” seam allowance as you cut the original squares to create those triangles to place on your design wall. Example: For a 6” finished block size, cut the squares 6 7/8” x 6 7/8”. Block size: your choice depending on the scale of the pattern in the fabrics you choose.

What to bring to class:

Fabric—As always, bring lots of options for yourself. Pack a tote bag or a suitcase if you do not know exactly what you want to use. The basic Split Nine Patch block calls for a light (or medium) for one side and a dark for the other side with a zinger for the center. You will not need much fabric to cut those zingers, but it has to have good contrast with the other two fabrics. If you choose to make it scrappy, you will have more of a challenge, but it adds personality to use a variety of fabrics. It will probably take more time to create this version.

Sewing machine in good working order

Extra needles–Good sharp needles make the sewing easier. I prefer Schmetz Microtex needles, 70/10 are a good size. Bring what you have.

Cotton thread Size 50 any color. I use a neutral gray or ivory for most of my piecing.

Rotary cutter, mat and long ruler

Scissors, pins, pin cushion, etc (Extra fine, glass head pins are terrific tools!)

Glasses if necessary

***Design Wall—any version of a flannel covered frame or flannel covered cardboard. We will use it to arrange and rearrange our blocks.

Optional: Pictures of any log cabin-type settings that you think might work for this project.

Important! Please take the time before our class to check your ¼” seam markings. Piecing with a too narrow or a too wide ¼” seam makes all your blocks measure too small or too large. Bonding with your machine is a central part of quilting. Your efforts will be rewarded when you can complete you own quilts from start to finish with a minimum of roadblocks!

Call or email me with questions or concerns: Paula Mariedaughter

Posted in Paula's Quilt, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Rachel Carson, aka Ms. Green

“Ms. Green, aka Rachel Carson, used information from the library to knife the lie that DDT does not kill people and wildlife”.

“Ms. Green, aka Rachel Carson, used information from the library to knife the lie that DDT does not kill people and wildlife”.


Clue2Our guild challenge comes from the game Clue. We each got an envelope with three items: the victim, the room and the weapon. My cards were Mr. Green, the Library and the Knife. Our quilt was to have each of the cards named in the title of our quilt. My victim fought back! I took several other liberties with the format…

I looked at my cards and considered what might inspire me to spend 100 hours making a quilt. I’ve been rereading Rachel Carson’s 1962 book Silent Spring. Carson is a personal heroine for me. She wrote this amazing book about the dangers of dominating nature and other books about the joys of connecting with nature. She did original research and definitely spent hours in multiple libraries. Her book has changed the world. And, she wrote it as she was dying from breast cancer!

My title became “Ms. Green, aka Rachel Carson, used information from the library to knife the lie that DDT does not kill people and wildlife”.

The lower diagonal of the quilt contains her book cover, and quotes I penned from the book or about the book. The pale background portrays a spring of subdued energy. The upper half has birds, nests, insects and lush growth that she envisioned returning.

The knife deletes the use of DDT. As a child growing up in Miami Springs. Florida, I remember the trucks driving through our neighborhood on the edge of the Everglades spraying DDT for mosquito control. I have wondered if my own breast cancer was linked to those early exposures. The powerful chemical was banned in the US in 1972 for any widespread agricultural use.

Pieced on my vintage Featherweight and quilted on my 1981 Bernina 930. Size 40” x 40”. Challenges help us “spread our wings” and have fun doing it!

US government publication from 1947 reads the small print at the bottom. I was born in 1945, did my mother see this? Did yours?

US government publication from 1947 reads the small print at the bottom. I was born in 1945, did my mother see this? Did yours?

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Collaborative Quilts=Excitement

When invited into another quilter’s studio, I never turn that offer down! Roaming or following a quilter around her studio offers concrete information as well as subjective impressions. As creative people we borrow ideas and find inspiration in the work of others. Pat Pease and Wendy Hill invite all of us to explore new possibilities in their book Creative Quilt Challenges: Take the Challenge to Discover Your Style & Improve Your Design Skills. This book feels like an extended visit with two quilters alive with energy. These two quilters share their techniques as well as the excitement of collaboration.

Wendy Hill and Pat Pease invite the reader into their studios in Creative Quilt Challenges.

Wendy Hill and Pat Pease invite the reader into their studios in Creative Quilt Challenges.

Pat and Wendy open their book by explaining, “The idea to explore our shared affinity for friendship, fabric and design came naturally to us.” After devising seven challenge themes, each made a quilt relating to the theme. Those fourteen quilts became a special exhibit at the Pacific International Quilt Festival in 2013. Sometimes the quilt was passed back and forth as each added to the whole. We can now see those quilts in this book which explores the creative impulse and emphasizes the benefits of collaboration between friends.

I don’t see quilting as a competitive sport, so I am enthusiastic about how readily and easily women share ideas and inspirations with each other. Each quilt is a journey. We make our own series of decisions about what to include in our quilts and what to leave out (or cut apart). Pat and Wendy discuss their very different approaches to the creative process–one is more methodical, the other more intuitive. Perhaps you will find yourself in their musings about their creative process.

I am writing this blog post as part of the blog tour arranged by Pat and Wendy’s publisher C&T Publishing. Visit the other ten posts listed below to see what other quilters found valuable in Creative Challenges. Also, be sure to leave your comment here to be entered into a drawing to receive your own copy (international winners get a digital copy).

Creative Quilt Challenges is a new book that will become an old friend as you return to it often to explore new possibilities for your own projects.

Creative Quilt Challenges is a new book that will become an old friend as you grab often it to explore new possibilities.

Challenges and collaborative efforts are a central part of my own quilting life, so I am also choosing to include some examples from my own quilts. The authors explore options such as working with textured fabrics like silk and linen. I’ve been exploring both, although I do not use stabilizers. Yes, silk is slippery, and their idea of using a ½” seam allowance with non-cotton fabrics is a sound tactic to try. Here is my all-silk quilt made with recycled silk. The dark “peacock blue” fabric of a nubby silk is cut from a blouse. This project began in a guild retreat class on The (Modern) Disappearing Nine Patch taught by Adele Atha. I followed the instructions and kept rearranging, but felt I wanted to add more of the peacock blue fabric. Once that was done, it still felt like the quilt needed a zinger or two. That’s how the squares of copper and chartreuse silk came to live within the boundaries of Downward Mobility (32” x 32”).

Downward Mobility, 32" x 32", is my all-silk experiment completed in 2015. Most of the silk is recycled from thrift shop garments. I did the free motion quilting on my 1971 Bernina 830.

Downward Mobility, 32″ x 32″, is my all-silk experiment completed in 20015. Most of the silk is recycled from thrift shop garments. I did the free motion quilting on my 1971 Bernina 830.

Pat and Wendy encourage this idea of exploring and modifying as you go. I like the idea of starting a project not knowing where it will take me. I liken it to leaving a guided tour and exploring the countryside on your own. The risks are minimal and the rewards many as you explore all your options.

Choosing the binding for Downward Mobility offered me one last chance to catch the viewer’s eye. I found a bright, multi-colored cotton to repeat some of the rich colors in the quilt. In the past when I have chosen to use a silk binding it was because I just had to have the vibrant terra cotta color of that particular fabric. With that silk binding, I worked slowly and carefully, starting work on the binding only when I was fresh. I’ve discovered that working with tricky fabrics or new ideas goes better when I am not frazzled.

Pat and Wendy’s chapter on techniques intrigued me. I was glad to see the detailed instructions (with photos) on applying a two-color binding used when you want a different color binding on front and back. I first used this technique when I did not have enough of the fabric I wanted to use for the binding. To solve this problem, I paired it with a different fabric to be viewed on the back edge. It proved a useful way to “stretch” my limited supply of that favorite fabric for the front.

In many ways this book is an educational tool as well as an adventure in quilting. I learned about “shot” fabrics. These are fabrics woven with two color threads. One color is in the warp threads and another color is used in the weft (crosswise) threads. I have been attracted to these shimmering fabrics, but was unclear about their composition. Shot fabrics could be cotton, linen, rayon, silk or a blend. When white is one of the colors it is usually called chambray.

My own experience with collaborative quilts has only been positive. In 2014, Therese Ramsey had purchased a castoff block at a studio sale from well-known modern quilter Jacquie Gering. I reworked the block and added several slices to make an inner border. Therese created the next border of selvages and we were off on a fun journey. The result is our quilt, Red Robin (38” x 47”), seen below. This is just one of the quilts I now have through “joint custody”.

This is the block created and rejected by Jacquie Gering. Therese Ramsey bought it at Jacquie's studio sale. I replace the plain muslin center with a small black square surrounded by a vibrant red.

This is the block created and rejected by Jacquie Gering. Therese Ramsey bought it at Jacquie’s studio sale. I replace the muslin center with a vibrant red.


Therese and I collaborated to create Red Robin in 2015. After we finished the top, Therese machine quilted it. I did the binding and the label naming us as co-creators.

Therese and I collaborated to create Red Robin in 2015. After we finished the top, Therese machine quilted it. I did the binding and the label naming us as co-creators.

Another version of a challenge comes for me when I discover unique tidbits at a thrift shop that seem to be calling to me. I may not know the creator, but I like her creations. My quilt Pumpkin Treat contains four different thrift shop items. Several years ago I found these small scale granny squares (on the right in the photo). I was drawn to these petite squares even though several were unraveling. My mother often crocheted similar squares from her leftover yarns uniting the yarn scraps with black edgings. I stowed those twelve squares away until I found the other elements. The repaired granny squares and the small orange felt bag were the starting points. At a thrift shop, I was impressed with the tidy handwork done by unknown hands on the orange bag.

My mother's Halloween costumes designed for her four kids were often creative, and sometimes spectacular. Fond memories of her are but one of the reasons I like working with fall colors and pumpkin themes. These thrift shop finds called to me and now seem to have always belonged together. Pumpkin Treat, 2014, 29" x 28"

My mother’s Halloween costumes designed for her four kids were often creative, and sometimes spectacular. Fond memories of her are but one of the reasons I like working with fall colors and pumpkin themes. These thrift shop finds called to me and now seem to have always belonged together. Pumpkin Treat, 2014, 29″ x 28″

Set together on a background cut from a shirt, I appreciated the energy I saw on the design wall. The electric blue inner border came from a beautiful dress made of a 75% silk and 25% linen blend—paid $.50 cents for this find. The Kaffe Fassett border fabric and the Phillip Jacobs floral I used for the appliqué contrasted with the plaid. I was so enamored of this project, I added tiny copper beads as accents on the appliqued leaves of Pumpkin Treat (29” x 28”)

Creative Quilt Challenges has encouraged me to expand my design skills—the more we experiment the more we build our confidence. My next challenge, inspired by this studio visit with Wendy and Pat, is to take their challenge to use zippers to add color, texture, or whimsy, or all of the above. If you, too, decide to do a zipper-laden quilt please let me see it. I’d enjoy hearing about your process. Go to www.ctpub.com to explore this delightful book.

Blog Tour Calendar
Monday, March 28: Lynn Merrill with C&T Publishing
Tuesday, March 29: Maria Shell That’s me!
Wednesday, March 30: Sandra Clemons
Thursday, March 31: Tierney Hogan
Friday, April 1:Gina at BOLT Fabric Boutique
Monday, April 4: Yvonne Fuchs
Tuesday, April 5: Kristin Shields
Wednesday, April 6: Paula Mariedaughter
Thursday, April 7: Teri Lucas
Friday, April 8: Wendy Hill, wendyhill.net/blog

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Charismatic Taupe

“The viewer’s eye will customarily go to the area of your quilt with the greatest contrast.”
from Irene Barry in QNM Dec/Jan 2009

This relatively simple pattern is enriched by the variety of shades and shadows of gray and brown, but they all turn to sterling when thrown together!

This relatively simple pattern is enriched by the variety of shades and shadows of gray and brown, but they all turn to sterling when thrown together!

All the new and interesting avenues for creating with fabric are what I love about quilting! Of course, I must add that sharing this passion with other quilters also enriches my life. Creating with taupe–those charismatic grays, browns, and charcoals and all the undertones found in the subtle rainbow–has become a passion in the last several months. First came Silver Taupe (seen below), then Eggplant Taupe (seen above), then Gold Leaf and finally Copper Rose Taupe. In the last three months I’ve “educated my eye” and reorganized my fabrics pulling some of the best taupes from my late 1800s reproductions.
Discovering Taupe
The word taupe comes from the French name for the European mole, Taupe d’Europe, admired for its sleek and multi-hued fur explained the Quilter’s Newsletter magazine article by Wendy Hill (http://www.wendyhill.net/blog/) in July/August 2007. I discovered her article last fall in my ongoing fascination with earlier issues of QNM.

Find her article–it will expand your understanding of taupe and all the possibilities of brown, tan and gray. She pointed out that taupe and its undertones “make it both warm and cool, resulting in a rich, complex color.” The pictures of her taupe stash, organized by color families helped me realize I already had lots of options in my own stash! I started with the simple X pattern she named “Isotaupe” provided with the article. My design became “Silver Taupe seen next:

Silver-taupe

In Silver Taupe, the drama is provided by the shifting of light center Xs on dark blocks contrasting with the dark center Xs on light blocks and then some fadeout blocks tossed into the mix. It all makes our eye work to discern a pattern. I added pieced setting triangles to give it a dimensional feel. The border is cut from a spectacular Daiwabo fabric I bought several years ago at Sager Creek Quilts (www.sagercreekquilts.com). I’d been waiting for just the right project to use it in–this was it! Because the 42″ width was not wide enough to cover the length of the border I was forced to come up with another option. My quilting friend Therese Ramsey had given me a rich gray with a delicate floral print when she learned of my new taupe fascination. I cut that special fabric into blocks, adding fabrics from my stash and used it all in making the corner blocks unique.

Eggplant Taupe
Eggplant Taupe (seen above) was the second quilt in this series. I used another pattern with simple piecing allowing me to focus on the community of fabrics I pulled together. I used a variety of sashing fabrics to keep the eye moving in a diagonal pattern in this very “blocky” quilt composed of squares and rectangles. I chose to include fabrics with pink or purple undertones and used a purple “Grunge” fabric from Moda for the small squares that punctuate the surface. I could not resist the impulse to make two of those squares a vibrant turquoise just for fun! Eggplant Taupe will be one of the featured quilts in my new program called “Diagonal Designs Make Dynamic Quilts” once I do the quilting. The pattern was “Cricket on the Radio” by Elizabeth Bren in the July/August 2012 QNM and had no border.

Gold Leaf Taupe
GoldLeaf

Gold accented fabrics are not recommended for taupe projects in some of the books and articles I’ve seen. When I started working with the next simple piecing pattern I came across, I was not liking what I saw on the design wall. My selections all seemed boring. I went through my stash and tripped on this dark floral with gold accents–it seemed perfect to me! The pattern had recently come to me from the free table at our guild. It was a pastel concoction called Cotton Candy Dots by Amilie Scott Designs. I used a rich black “Grunge” fabric, again a gift from Therese, for the pieced squares. The center of the squares feature light colored polished cottons from Loneta Blevins and a few cotton sateen fabrics from my stash. Both add a sheen to the center spots of those black squares.

Many of the same fabrics appear in all four of these quilts. Each is influenced by the surroundings and the proportions I’ve used. The gold leaf floral was used as the center of each of the rectangular blocks. All the border fabrics were drawn from my stash and add “personality” to the whole. Of course, my quilting and my binding choices will contribute other additions.

RoseTaupe

Copper Rose
Those of you who remember my 2008 show “Quilts in Full Bloom” at ACO will remember my fascination with orange and all its relatives especially copper and terra cotta tones. My quilt “Copper Rose” was designed to feature a vintage print by Ginny Beyer which you can easily see in the middle border. It appears in multiple spots throughput the quilt. I drew on fabrics which featured copper or rose tones in addition to the taupe. I knew that the light squares in the pattern would demand the viewer’s attention, so I carefully selected a fabric for that leading role. I found one with a delicate floral designed by Elly Sienkiewicz of Baltimore Album fame. I even included two pieces of a reproduction William Morris designed fabric from the late 1800s.

Use your imagination. Mixing in fabrics that have subdued tones from nature is my best advice. Avoid those with florescent dayglow colors. I use a door peephole tool from the hardware store as a value finder to keep me on track with the lights and darks. “Graceful Cascade” from Maywood Studio” was the free pattern I used after finding it at my local quilt shop, Lonesome Pine Quilts (lonesomepinequilts.com).

Exploring my own stash and finding new combinations for favorite fabrics has been central to this adventure for me. Sharing my excitement has strengthened my ties to my quilting community as it has sparked my own creativity. What better way to start the new year! Please leave me a comment–I’d like to know what you’re thinking.

Posted in Contemporary Design, Paula's Quilt, Taupe Type Quilts | 2 Comments

Compositions matter!

“Compositions matter. Artfully arranged, anything can become a thing of beauty.” interior designer Barbara Barry

JeanieSquilt
We quilters are composers! We compose moods, messages and fantasies using our palette of fabrics. Jeanie Schneider’s quilt dances with good cheer! Bright and balmy at the same time–how can this be? With the repetition of the simple square shape in two different sizes she keeps our eye searching for a pattern of movement. The blocks of related color prolong the mystery of why we are drawn in as our eyes search the line between calm and excited.

Visually exploring this quilt makes me smile many months after I first viewed it at our April 2015 quilt show. I’ve added this photo of her quilt as seen from a distance to show the blocks of color more easily. JeanieS-sml

Jeanie’s quilt was awarded the Judge’s Choice Ribbon at that show indicating that someone else was intrigued by the simple composition artfully arranged. Lights and darks shift and shine as a dance of color and shadow pull our eyes from one spot to another. As we study, we may see the diagonal pattern of the smaller squares moving from the upper right corner across toward the bottom left. But we may not see that and can still find ourselves enjoying the delicious experience of a pure color contrasting with a muddy dark color or a strong color vibrating with its equally strong neighbor.

The pattern designer only suggests the tempo and pattern placement. The quilter adds her own spark and vision to any basic pattern. This was my favorite quilt from that show of over two hundred quilts. Jeanie chose the fabrics and placed each side-by-side as she sewed her own vision into her quilt. You can see from the picture that she is well satisfied with her work.

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Still Life, Still Alive at Seventy

"Still Life, Still Alive at Seventy" is the result of my class with Jane Sassaman on my seventieth birthday August 28th! 30" x 32"

“Still Life, Still Alive at Seventy” is the result of my class with Jane Sassaman on my seventieth birthday August 28th! 30″ x 32″

” How you make others feel about themselves says a lot about you.” anonymous author, but quoted by Amanda Herring in the winter issue of Women Create Magazine

Celebrations take many shapes and forms. I celebrated my 70th birthday with quilting friends including our queen, Kathy Garringer (our guild president now in her second term), on August 28 at the Jane Sassaman class creating a small wallhanging. Jane is an internationally know quilter who provided the program for the guild on August 27. Jane has been designing fabric for fifteen years and quilting for decades. In fact, her quilt “Willow” was included in the Hundred Best Quilts of the Twentieth Century. Her fabrics and her quilts portray an exuberant Mother Nature with bold colors and stylized designs. But none of this information lets you know how accessible as an instructor she is. In the program on Thursday night and in the class on Friday, Jane was encouraging and not pompous, despite her accomplishments in the quilting world. Each of the more than twenty students in our class received help with our project and individual attention. When Jane saw the black and gold lame gingham check that I was using to decorate the rim on my pot, she grinned and said she had some of this same fabric in her stash.

"Willow" by Jane Sassaman was selected as one of the Hundred Best Quilts of the Twentieth Century. It measures 75" x 75" and was finished in  1996. This graceful and exuberant quilt showcases Jane's infatuation with the beauty of the natural world.

“Willow” by Jane Sassaman was selected as one of the Hundred Best Quilts of the Twentieth Century. It measures 75″ x 75″ and was finished in 1996. This graceful and exuberant quilt showcases Jane’s infatuation with the beauty of the natural world.

We quilters were lined up by the door with all our quilting totes and paraphernalia at 8:30 to be ready for the 9:00 class. Once we unpacked our supplies and settled, Kathy surprised me with this patchwork silk jacket! She said she found it at a yard sale and it looked like something I would wear and enjoy–she was right. I took off my beige linen jacket and wore her silk gift the rest of the day. Knowing and being known is a great gift we can give each other. I certainly appreciated that element of Kathy’s gift as much as I appreciated the lovely jacket.

Our Queen, Kathy,  surprised me with a patchwork silk jacket that she said "looked like me" when she first saw it. I was pleased and wore it the rest of the day.

Our Queen, Kathy, surprised me with a patchwork silk jacket that she said “looked like me” when she first saw it. I was pleased and wore it the rest of the day.

Fusible applique has not been a technique that has drawn me in the past. But Nora Krein, our program chair in 2114 was excited to bring Jane Sassaman to our guild in 2015. Then when I saw the date I decided to take the class and celebrate my birthday with quilters. Because I know that I get more from a class if I do extensive preparation before the class, I explored the teacher’s ideas and techniques and studied the supply list carefully. Then I packed lots of fabric possibilities. I bought a half yard of Phillip Jacobs fabric featuring large, bright caladium leaves that I hoped to use as the focal point.

Jane had indicated that she would have lots of her own fabric for sale at the class. She was showing various options that she had brought. When she held up the bold black and brown print she referred to as one of her vintage designs I “knew” it would look good with the caladium fabric. Others were selecting their choices before I got to the table, but no one was interested in the stylized ferns in those dark colors–except me! The process of “playing” with my fabrics began with the pot. I decided on a black pot to provide a strong contrast to my background. But I would trim that pot the the gold lame gingham! The night before Lila Rostenberg had given me a birthday surprise of several strips of dupioni silk in luscious colors and I hoped to use the spring green silk fabric in this project somehow.

Comprehending how to apply the fusible webbing was a challenge. Adele Atha gave me enough to complete my project and we exchanged hints on how hot the iron needed to be to actually fuse the webbing to the fabric pieces. Then when it came time to trace (and record) our final arrangement of leaves, flowers and pot. Suzanne Kittrel provided me with a section from an extra wide roll of tracing paper. I liked this paper which worked well and will buy some soon. Using the full size tracing of my design made putting the project back together at home go easily.

One thing I learned from this class was I prefer to work with fabric–not fused fabric. Jane explained to us that she started as a paper artist, so she prefers working with fused fabric that she can cut out shapes as if they were paper and then use a satin stitch to applique each in place. I did try this suggested technique, but at home I pulled off all the fusible backing and turned under a small seam allowance and hand appliqued everything in place. Instead of a large single background, I pieced the background to include the inner border using that green dupioni silk. The background fabric became one of the surprises you encounter when you view my still life up close. I quilted around the birds, large feathers and tree branches. The binding was cut from carefully selected sections of a fabric with wild sunset colors from pinks and purples to orange and terra cotta. The pinks and magenta colors picked up some of the makrings in the caladium leaves. The quilting added emphasis to some areas. I used mostly machine quilting with some hand quilting in the leaf veins.

My working title for this wallhanging was simply “Caladium”. After considering my options as I did the quilting, I decided to name it “Still Life, Still Alive at Seventy” a reference to my having had advanced breast cancer at age 43. Most of my quilts have a very personal connection giving me a chance to “speak my mind”. The final step was to add my round label with as much information as possible so no one will wonder who or why some anonymous woman made this quilt.

As a quilting teacher myself I often wonder about the results of projects started in class. Do they ever get finished? How were they modified? What did each quilter do with the ideas we talked about in class? With this in mind I emailed a photo of my completed wallhanging to Jane and received this generous response:

“Wonderful! Thanks for the photo of your finished piece. Being 62, however, makes 70 seem pretty young to me! Interesting background fabric. I like the offset composition and the binding picks up the inner colors nicely. It makes my day!”

Now you can see why I started this blog post with the quote I used!

Posted in Black Accents, Contemporary Design, Paula's Quilt | 2 Comments

Thinking About “Negative Space”

“Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery” anonymous

"Negative Nines" was inspired by a quilt Leeanna Walker brought to the July 2105 Modern Quilt Guild meeting featuring vintage butterfly blocks and lots of negative space.

“Negative Nines” was inspired by a quilt Leeanna Walker brought to the July 2105 Modern Quilt Guild meeting featuring vintage butterfly blocks and lots of negative space.

I hope Leeanna Walker is flattered when she sees this small quilt top (24″ x 38″) because her Butterfly quilt inspired my pulling together my wallhanging named “Negative Nines”. Leeanna sent me this picture of her quilt as she is working on the binding. I first saw this quilt when she brought it to the July meeting of the Modern Quilt Guild last week. She had grouped the twenty-one vintage appliqued butterfly blocks worked on plain muslin in the bottom left corner. The upper right corner section was composed of bright teal plain blocks except for one more butterfly block in the extreme upper right corner. All that negative space created a sense of drama and balance making it visually intriguing. At least I was intrigued!

Leeanna Walker set her vintage butterfly blocks in this asymmetrical way which features large amounts of "negative space" . Her quilt inspired me to try this technique.

Leeanna Walker set her vintage butterfly blocks in this asymmetrical way which features large amounts of “negative space” . Her quilt inspired me to try this technique.

At home forty-eight hours later I was searching through my vintage blocks looking for candidates to try this technique. I found eleven pieced nine patch blocks (from Linda Hancock) that seemed to be a possibility since they featured a variety of solid color fabrics. After arranging and rearranging them on my portable design wall I felt like I had a satisfactory grouping and began looking for fabrics to work with the nine patch blocks. I came across the bright blue scrap of dupioni silk and knew I wanted to include a strip of that saturated color. The batik blue triangles added a texture I valued. But the star of the piece is the Daiwabo taupe used in the upper right area making the negative space shine. Every other piece of fabric I auditioned for that space seemed drab.

I’m including two pictures of this wallhanging because in the smaller version (below) you can see the power of the negative space more clearly. Once I quilt it there will be new textures to appreciate.

negative-nines-2

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Wide Sashing with Lots of Energy!

Dianne's 2013 quilt from the Rebel quilt blog--this was her response to the challenge to use a vintage drapery fabric featuring cowboys.

Dianne’s 2013 quilt from the Rebel quilt blog–this was her response to the challenge to use a vintage drapery fabric featuring cowboys.

In October of 2013 Dianne, one of my fellow bloggers on the Rebel quilt blog, posted this quilt which wowed me! I was amazed by the effect of the wide sashing with split elements. She created this as part of a quilt challenge to use a vintage drapery fabric featuring cowboys, horses and desert scenery. It is always a challenge to use a single piece of fabric printed with an overall “theme” and to make it come alive in a dynamic quilt top. But I was awed by what Dianne had created. I stored the memory of this quit and its unusual setting away in my visual catalog for possible future use.

Amy Rollins, one of my quiting cohorts, presented me with a vintage feedsack at our July, 2015 guild meeting. When I looked at it I saw that it had numerous WWII visual references like Churchill and FDR huddled together, place names of famous battles like Pearl Harbor, and other motifs from the 1940′s. I was intrigued. When I was born in 1945 my father was serving in the US Army. He was stationed in the Philipines–another one of the places named on this unusual feedsack.
wwII-whole

The first thing I checked at home the next day was to note the width from selvage to selvage. Since it was 36″ wide I had another clue that this was, in fact, an old textile kept in very good condition. In my own girlhood, fabric was usually sold from 36″ wide bolts. Someone had carefully hem stitched the two cut edges. The fabric was the loosely woven (often 200 threads per inch) common to historical feedsacks. Upon closer inspection at home I noticed this printed along the edge, “Kent’s-Cloth of the United Nations-233″ which sent me to the computer for Internet research.
WWII-detail

I learned that this fabric is older than I am! It was printed in 1942 in Buffalo, NY (near where my Dad was born and raised) by the Perry Kent Mills. It is printed in red, yellow and blue with 38 war or battle symbols, slogans from the time, and caricatures of the three leaders of the Axis powers Tojo (Japan), Mussolini (Italy), and Hitler (Germany). It is a powerful example of an everyday propaganda piece from tha time in US history. I do have a hard time imagining how it was used, since it has no signs of wear or use.

This all brings me to my challenge: How was I going to use this fabric in a way that respected the integrity of the repeat design and would not be boring? I wanted to preserve this unusual artifact. It probably had a better chance of continued survival if I did make a quilt featuring its WWII motifs.

WWII-top

I went to the Rebel website and looked again at Dianne’s quilt–this would be my inspiration. I studied her color use–my background was lighter which made it even more challenging. The wide sashing gives this quilt its visual interest. Up close you can inspect the variety of designs and references in the feedsack. But it is the large cornerstones and the sashing that give this quilt personality. The wide, but split, sashing and the variety of fabric choices in those split segments are the elements that demand attention here. When I showed the top at the local Modern Quilt Guild, Natalie McCrory pointed out that those split sashings looked like propellor wings when viewed from a distance. I agreed and realized how appropriate since aircraft powered by propellors were central to the war efforts around the world.

Choosing which fabric from my stash to use for the sashing, cornerstones and the borders was both fun and challenging–I looked for variety of color and texture as Dianne had done in her original. The only fabric I purchased for this project was the dark blue woven plaid–I found it in a thrift store shirt and knew it would be right for this project when I spotted it. I expanded on the red, yellow and blue of the original feedsack to include shades of blue and a deep red mixed with golds. Some of the fabrics are even batiks. Choosing the light fabrics was a special problem since my background was so light. The lights in the split sashings needed to provide contrast (medium-lights) and some interest, but not dominate since there was already a lot going on visually.

When I discovered the wide border fabric I was excited by how it seemed to repeat some of the “feel” visually of the feedsack, that is repeating and uniting the blocks with the border. Then I decided to split that border and insert the dark blue plaid to pull it together. This was the very technique (of splitting a wide border by an insert) I had blogged about in my previous post “Challege Collaboration”–what fun! My next challenge is to baste it and quilt it. Thanks again Amy!

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Round Robin Consultation

I never know who or what I might find at a local quilt or fabric shop or thrift shop. I see each as a place for a “treasure hunt”. Several weeks ago I ran into a Janet Brown who is a quilter from our guild. We were both shopping at a local quilt shop. We visited some and then she asked if I would look at the Round Robin challenge she was working on. Janet said she was looking for some inspiration for the border she needed to add to the ongoing project. That Round Robin project had begun with a center panel portraying a Japanese woman in traditional dress.

Round Robin quilts are a combination of several quilters inspired choices. Where would you go next with this work-in-progress?

Round Robin quilts are a combination of several quilters inspired choices. Where would you go next with this work-in-progress?

Several simple borders had been added–each pulling colors from the original panel and adding texture to the composition. The quilter before her had added a very wide border using fabric with a black background and a small flower print. I considered the options and suggested she divide the wide border with a bright green batik I had just discovered and was buying for myself.

That green batik has the quality I call “inner light” meaning it moves from darker spots to brief glimpses of sparkling light–similar to what you see in the woods when light peeks through the trees. And it contained a range of green colors allowing it to pick up some of the green in the small flower print. Janet seemed pleased with the idea as we explored the possibilities and considered the width of the insert.

I also suggested that the green insert would look good carried out into the edges thus providing a contrast to the previous square borders. We both enjoyed the interaction with each other. I was pleased that Janet asked for my input that day at the quilt shop–it was fun for me to consider the possibilities and then to search out fabric that might accomplish the contrast she wanted.

Janet took my advice and then added a brilliant idea of her own! She took it one step further by adding the Japanese characters! She paper-pieced these Japanese characters meaning “Japan”. Janet had to decide where to insert this additition in to the green border. She carefully placed those characters off center even as the original panel had the solid black line off center. Asymmetrical design is a common theme in Japanese art. Those bright graphics have now become a focal point–it will be a hard act to follow.

It seems to me that Round Robins are all about exploring possibilities and sharing our ideas. Even though I was not a member of the Round Robin group, I had fun adding my ideas. Additionally I have seen how our shared ideas can spark more creativity–perhaps I will find a way to incorporate Janet’s idea into one of my next projects.

Posted in Black Accents, Pieced Border | 1 Comment