Current Series, Parts 2 and 3

In our “first exciting episode” about this series, I showed the fabrics and the first set of improvised blocks, which were based on triangles cut from a strip set…

For the second set of improvisational blocks, I set these rules:

  • Start with a strip set
  • Cut and recombine the strip set in random ways
  • Continue to do the final trim so that each block is 6.5″ wide; any length is OK

Here are the blocks:

I wasn’t crazy about these and decided to return to a more planned approach with the next set.  The rules for it were:

  • Start with a strip set
  • Recombine it into loose grids
  • Keep to 6.5″ in one dimension for each block.

I’m marginally more satisfied with these, but that 3rd block in this set makes me think that the next set will need some diagonal lines.  Stay tuned!  And thanks for visiting 🙂

My Year in Scraps

When we lived in Pennsylvania, I learned this quilt block from Barbara C. Lenox. As she made her quilts, she cut her scraps from each project into the sizes needed for this block.  She saved the scraps and assembled them into blocks, and then a quilt, at the end of the year.  She called this her “Sourdough” quilt.

Sourdough block, taught to me by Barbara C Lenox

I can’t find her online now except, of course, for those creepy websites that want to sell you information on any name you put in (e.g., “get Santa Claus address, phone, arrest record…”).

I’ve made numerous quilts using this design.  As with all diagonally split blocks, this one allows for many interesting arrangements of the blocks.

The block is a great way to learn about color and value, since the design shows itself through contrast in value, regardless of color.  And sometimes things that worked fine as a dark or light in one context totally fail in another.  

Patch 1 and Patch 2 in the picture above worked fine as a dark and a light when I put them together in a single block.  But when I put them together with the other blocks, the turquoise was too bright to play well with the other dark values.  It’s common for yellow, red, and orange to have trouble being dark values, but the turquoise was kind of a surprise!  I’ll be re-making that block.  Another learning experience 😀

I’m teaching my version of this at Studio Stitch on Saturday, January 26.

 

A Different Floor “Quilt”

We recently met friends for dinner at Balsam Mountain Inn, a large “railroad hotel” built in 1908 with a train station right in front. Before the days of air conditioning, it was a popular summer spot for vacationers from the cities; the Inn is at 3500 feet elevation.

Photo from Balsam Mountain Inn’s Facebook Page

The floor of the sun porch, where we ate, had an elaborate pattern made up of those one inch tiles that were common in the early 20th Century.  We were told the floor is not “original equipment” but it is in keeping with the period.

A friend took some pictures of the floor for me, since I immediately wanted to document the pattern for possible use in designing quilts.  These were taken with my cell phone in low light, so the quality is not great, but I thought you’d like to see the floor anyway.  You can look up Balsam Mountain Inn on Trip Advisor and see better pictures of the floor as well as the Inn.

This is the one that first caught my eye as a potential motif for a quilt.

And here is a design I made with EQ8 based on the floor.  I think it is way too fussy for me to ever make as a quilt.  It would make a better embroidery design.

Travel Inspires

As my friend Melanie recently pointed out, travel can inspire creativity. We just got back from a loooong drive across the country to New Mexico and back, and I took a few pictures of things that inspired me.First, we saw literally thousands of these wind generators across the flat, windy, high plains of West Texas and Oklahoma. The complex shape of the blades is quite an engineering feat by itself, even before the rest of the contraption is considered. It was great to see renewable energy in action, and these are attractive additions to the landscape in my opinion. (No, we never saw any dead birds near them, despite looking.  Research in Europe suggests this is mostly an urban myth.)

In New Mexico, I looked for the details that said “Southwest”.  These design elements are a kind of shorthand for “you are here” and I thought that idea would be useful in designing quilts (or anything else).  Here are a couple.

Stucco walls, turquoise trim, tile roof

Courtyard enclosed by a stucco wall with a wooden gate; tile accent along roof edge; flat roof

Now, I’m off to learn to organize my photos in Photoshop so I can find the rest of the pictures from the Southwest 😀

Triangles: What Do You Think?

It all started with this beautiful batik that was ON SALE…And I have quite a collection of batik scraps from other projects, so I decided to make a scrap quilt with colors that would go with the sale fabric. Initially, I made the blocks really scrappy:

Then I made a few that were more controlled and liked them better:


This is just up on the design wall, not sewn, and I’m thinking of taking out the really scrappy ones. They kind of jar my nerves.But, what do you think? It’s good to have opinions from quilty friends!

Update on the Shirt Quilt

Remember this?shirt quilt

This pile of blocks barely made a dent in the pile of shirts!

And here is some of the quilt up on the design wall:

The holes are because I unaccountably made too few double 4-patch blocks.  Luckily, that was one of the easier blocks in this quilt, so it the error won’t be difficult to fix!

As you can see, both the red and the orange made good accents.  The interesting thing to me about this quilt is that those little accent blocks save the day.  There is WAY too much variety in the quilt for it to be a good design without those diagonal orange and red lines created by the tiny blocks.  They pull the whole thing together by giving it structure.

I’ll update you when I get the holes plugged 😀

North Carolina Quilt Symposium–Rosalie Dace

I recently took a class at the annual North Carolina Quilt Symposium, which this year was held in Asheville, relatively close to where I live. The class was taught by Rosalie Dace, an art quilter who lives in South Africa.  The focus was on techniques for putting lines into quilts.  Since she is an art quilter, there were many techniques that wouldn’t be used in utility quilts, but it was fun to try them out anyway.

Here are a couple of Rosalie’s quilts that were on display at NCQS.

NC quilt symposium

Here and Now, by Rosalie Dace

Rosalie Dace

African Blues, by Rosalie Dace

You can see more on her website.

And here are the items I made in class with her.  The first is not intended to be a finished piece; it was just made to try out various techniques.

I doubt this next block will be part of a quilt any time soon, but it was fun to make.

Later on I’ll have pictures of quilts made by some of the other teachers.  When I saw them, I wished I had been able to take more than one class!

What to do? Please help!

Remember this fabric I was thrilled by?

I thought about how to use it for several weeks and finally decided on Turning Twenty Again. It’s an old pattern, but I’ve seen it made up in many different fabrics and it’s almost always spectacular and modern-looking.  The fabric I bought was 8 fat quarters, and Turning Twenty Again is a pattern developed for efficient use of fat quarters, so it seemed a good match.

I needed a little more fabric and found this dot in my stash–it had the same appearance of linen texture as the original fabric and I thought it went perfectly with the others.
The next question was what else to add. After auditioning several options, I decided on this cat fabric. The eyes are sort of of dots, too, and the color coordinated well. I made the blocks and put them on the design wall, and…Eek!  Is it too busy?  And when I see it overall, I do not like the tan fabric I added, even though it is similar to the beige-green that came with the fat quarter set!

I’ve had it on the design wall for a week trying to decide what to do. One option is to put the squares together with sashing and a border to kind of calm things down.  I auditioned a dark blue fabric and a turquoise fabric for that–both are Moda grunge, so they have the same linen-look texture.

Another option is to take the blocks apart in order to add these birds from the same collection, giving a greater variety of prints.  I think if I take it apart, I will remove the tan fabric I don’t like, so the birds could add variety AND get rid of the tan!
From there we go into the wild options. They are legion, and include the possibility of cutting the blocks randomly and inserting solid strips. Or I could replace some pieces with the birds and some with the turquoise grunge.

And of course there is the perennial option of putting it away for a month and then looking at it again to see what comes to mind.

Suggestions, anyone?

Another Fun Guild Program

This is part of my occasional series on guild programs, with the hope that it will help others who need to come up with program ideas.

Our modern guild has no money to hire speakers, so we are taking turns sharing our talents. One of our members recently volunteered to teach us block printing on fabric, and she furnished all the materials herself!

block printing quilt fabric

Suzanne brought a beautiful print she had made as an example

A few of us had done block printing in the past, but these blocks were much easier to carve. Apparently the block medium is now made of soft rubber rather than linoleum–a big improvement for the hands and wrists.

block printing

Some people carved abstract designs, using the whole block

Everyone got a square of rubber to carve. Some people carved a design on the square using the entire thing. Some carved an object and then cut out around the object so that it could be glued to a board backing for easier handling.

It was fun to see what everyone did.

 

Then we were given ink and encouraged to mix the colors, either to produce a variegated print or to produce a secondary color.

The prints were amazing and fun.

I didn’t get a picture of the block used for these fish, but they were very successful.

block printing fabricOur challenge for next month is to use the printed fabric in a project.  Can’t wait to see what everyone does!

Inspiration from Nature

One of my online friends, Chela, reminded me that nature is a great inspiration for quilts (as well as other art).  So here are some of my favorite nature pix.

I love plants and flowers of (almost) all kinds, so they are a frequent subject:

inspiration for quilts

Can you see the bee?

It’s a Jack-in-the-Pulpit right beside my back steps!

Kenilworth Ivy is a favorite, and I like the pattern against the rock wall

The forest floor on one of our hikes

Any nature picture is improved by adding a grandchild!

Like most folks, I take pictures when we travel, some for the colors, some for the general scenery.

The colors are monochromatic, indicating how this little guy survives in the Canadian Rockies (when he isn’t begging from tourists)

One of these days I’ll use this picture, made on the Blue Ridge Parkway, as inspiration for a landscape quilt

The colors in New Mexico are always fascinating, and the sky so big

The one thing I don’t do, and don’t intend to do, is print my photos on fabric and put them in quilts that way.  I use them for shapes, colors, arrangement of forms…but for the purpose of interpretation, not direct copies.

How do you use your photos in your quilts?