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Friday, April 18, 2014

Resurrection Perspective

"The resurrection of Jesus is the cornerstone to a worldview that provides the perspective to all of life."   Josh McDowell

With Resurrection Sunday just around the corner, I'm focusing on my quilt, Arms of Love, which was inspired by the movie "The Passion of the Christ."  Each applique element is rich in meaning. 
For example, the wings shown below are symbolic of resurrection to new life. 
Normally, of course, wings would  not be purple and red.  White wings wouldn't have shown up against this light background.  Part of the joy of quilting is "artistic license" to change colors to suit your purposes.  Here, the purple feathers have red quills while the red feathers are edged with gold and have purple quills.    

Keep in mind that the value contrast of the fabrics is more critical to the design than the actual colors.

Happy Quilting and Happy Easter!

Friday, April 4, 2014

Yellow Stuff

In praise of flowers ---  yellow, of course!
Flowers in quilts . . .



And the real thing in nature . . .




Saturday, March 8, 2014

Focus on Thread

Fabric generally steals the show in quilts but I'd like to focus here on thread and the credit it deserves in our quilts.  Threads for quilting or embellishing can blend with the fabric or stand out as a design element.  
This dog is cut from one piece of neutral fabric and then quilted with a darker thread to create fur.  The edge of the green checked pillow is a single piece of  white fabric with darker thread creating the illusion of ruffles.
Nautical map lines on this compass quilt are done with a heavy contrasting thread.
Buttonhole stitch draws attention to the squares in this octagon quilt.
Satin stitched thread eliminates the need for fusing the veins in these large leaves.
Black thread creates the spider web as well as the outline of the sun's facial features.
 
The next time you open that drawer of thread, take a moment to focus on how thread "makes" your quilt.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Chocolate Brown

Yesterday I attended a "Chocolate 101" lecture/tasting by a local chocolatier and got to sample several varieties of my favorite treat.  I learned that some chocolates are of single origin (made from one type of cocoa bean from one location).  However, most chocolatiers create their own unique blends using several types of cocoa beans from different locations.  Chocolate blends are the signature of the maker.

Quilts, too, are the signature of the maker and are created with a variety of fabrics.  This giraffe is constructed of a wide variety of brown fabrics, creating interest and depth.


The floor in this quilt uses many brown fabrics to look like wood planks.


Brown fabrics can resemble milk chocolate or dark chocolate.  This deer is a hybrid of the two.


The body of this birdhouse is one fabric but the "doors" are darkened with fabric pens.  It's a lot easier than appliqueing those small pieces.

Brown is a blend of colors and often gets overshadowed by its showier cousins like red and green. But brown has an important role to play in nature, in quilts and certainly in chocolate.  Brown deserves some special attention.



Saturday, January 18, 2014

Use It Up!

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.”  This motto was a way of life especially during the Great Depression. Of necessity many of our ancestors were extremely frugal and had to make do with whatever fabrics were available when they needed another quilt.  Feedsacks were often recycled into quilts.  Some fabrics used in a quilt had a previous life as a house dress.  You can be sure every scrap of fabric was put to good use.  Often, this meant piecing tiny bits of fabric together to make one little square.  

The squares in this detail image of a vintage quilt are only 1 1/4" but look how many of them are made of two pieces. 

While I don't piece anything this small, I do like to "use it up" and piece together fabrics of similar color to make a larger strip.  This often works out well for borders on utilitarian quilts like the following.
Here's a close up of the border.

And another example of a "patched together border".
Some squares in my quilts are cut from my husband's old shirts.  You'd be amazed at how many 6" squares you can get from one long-sleeved shirt. Recycling and economy of resources aren't new ideas.  Our grandmothers paved the way for conservation and we can all benefit from their example.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Fun, Fast Little Quilts

The characters on this tiny wall quilt spell "thank you" ("Xie Xie" in Mandarin).  Click on this earlier post and scroll down for more details.  

Sometimes when I'm stuck on what to do next, I get a head start by repeating motifs or ideas. By rearranging some elements from Xie Xie and adding others I ended up with this fun, fast little quilt and perhaps an idea for another variation.  The characters here spell "orchid" in Mandarin. 
Reuse, recycle.

Happy New Year!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Accuracy

Celestial Splendor is a quilt with a lot of lines and shapes going on. All of them are appliqued (yes, even the straight lines) with my preferred method: fused raw edge applique.

One of the lessons gained through entering quilt competition is this: If it can be measured, it will be criticized. So I learned to check and double check for accuracy. The only way to achieve accuracy on a complex quilt like this is to use acrylic overlays for exact placement of the fabric shapes. When shapes repeat themselves in a pattern, if you’re off a little bit to start it will only get worse.


The following images aren't the greatest but they show the two acrylic overlays used for this quilt. First, the main design. This is one quadrant (32" square) of the entire quilt . Four of these pivoting on center equals the quilt. I cut my large overlay from a roll of Grafix 40" x 12' Dura-Lar purchased at Hobby Lobby. The design is marked with a Sharpie permanent pen.


Second, this overlay is a smaller section that is a more detailed part of the overall design.

In the next image that smaller section is being used to line up fabric shapes. I lay my background fabric on the ironing board. Holding the overlay on top with one hand, I place the first applique shape under the overlay. All shapes are backed with fusible (my favorite is Wonder Under) and pressed with a hot iron to fuse in place. Then it's back to lining up the overlay and adding the second shape and pressing. Repeat, repeat, repeat. All the appliqué shapes are fused one piece at a time.
I work in small sections and finish the raw edges with a small zigzag stitch (length and width set at "1" on my Bernina 170). I pin a thin piece of tracing paper behind the fabric to serve as a temporary stabilizer for doing the zigzag. The paper is later removed. Tiny bits can be picked out with a tweezers.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Repetition

One important design principle is the use of repetition, whether in shape, fabric, color or quilting. Canterbury Cathedral's central ceiling is the basis of this quilt design. Gothic architecture included a lot of ornamental work of interlaced lines. Repetition is evident in many of the lines and shapes in this design.

A common symbol is the quatrefoil which is a leaf-like design of four foils or lobes. It's used here at the intersection of these lines as well as in the center of the quilt (shown in the next image).

The quatrefoil is alternated with the trefoil symbol, a stylized three-lobed leaf.

By way of color repetition, all straight lines and most of the circular bands are royal blue. Along with the cloudy sky background fabric, the lines and bands anchor the fluctuating color changes of orange, green, pink, blue and yellow.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Celestial Splendor

Canterbury Cathedral in Canterbury, Kent, is one of the oldest and most famous Christian structures in England. It still functions as the cathedral of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the leader of the worldwide Anglican Communion. Canterbury was an important spiritual center ever since Augustine, but it became a major pilgrimage destination after the martyrdom of St. Thomas Becket in 1170.

The cathedral has a total of 21 bells in three towers. The oldest bell in the cathedral is Bell Harry, which hangs in a cage atop the central Bell Harry Tower. John Wastell (1460 - 1515) was an English gothic architect responsible for the crossing tower (Bell Harry Tower) of Canterbury Cathedral. This is the magnificent ceiling in that tower.


Celestial Splendor is based on this ceiling and makes its debut at International Quilt Festival in Houston October 31-November 3.


More posts on this quilt to come . . .

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Yellow Stuff

What a gorgeous, sunny summer day for the annual Concours d'Elegance in Geneva, IL. It's a vintage car lover's feast for the eyes. Here are a few yellow gems. Yellow comes in so many variations. Like the lemon yellow in this unusual front grill on a 1954 Kaiser-Darrin Roadster convertible.
Or this soft, buttery yellow.
How about a vibrant orange yellow?
Here's a golden yellow headlight.

Sometimes it's good to stop and consider all the possible variations of a single color.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Critters in Quilts

Consider adding critters to your next quilt. In 24/7, a very large quilt, some very small bugs add interest to the center of the compasses.


Adding a small living creature to your quilt can really make the whole thing come alive.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

One Small Step

Don't have the time or ambition right now for a large project? Maybe you just want to dabble in something small this summer. I always like to have a quilting project ready to pick up when I need a quilting fix.

Small projects are perfect for experimenting with a technique without committing to a full size quilt. Some years ago I attended a lecture/trunk show by Colleen Wise and purchased her book Casting Shadows. This 19" x 14" wall hanging was a quick way to try out her pieced shadow blocks and a twisted yarn border.


This next piece is just 11" x 9." I was able to practice some lettering with a lightbox.


Keep it small and simple this summer.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Happy Birthday, America

Wishing all my American friends a safe and Happy Fourth of July!

Here's to the RED
WHITE
and BLUE