Next, Please

After many years of making quilts I find myself in a strange position. Right now I have only two unquilted tops, and one of those I may change, so that leaves just one. As for UFOs, none come to mind though maybe one or two small ones lurk hidden in the bottom of a drawer.

So I have no excuse not to get cracking on new designs. The time has come to work up all those drawings and inspirational photos I’ve saved. I’m starting with a photo of a puzzle by Rex Ray that I saved many years ago. A recent BluPrint class on bias tape applique by Latifah Saafir jogged my memory of that photo, and I decided to develop a mash up of that puzzle and bias tape.

Rex Ray Rallenta puzzle

First, I pulled together a pile of fabric possibilities because, for me, fabric almost always comes first. I wanted to use black and white prints for the curved shapes, with black bias tape edges, and backgrounds in bold solids.

Then, I developed a rough sketch from the Rex Ray puzzle and some rough dimensions for the blocks.

Next came practicing the bias tape technique. I had already signed up for a discounted trial of BluPrint so I could watch Latifah Saafir’s class on bias tape applique. Her technique seemed sensible so I tried it out on a sample block.

Let me note here that I dislike BluPrint as I’m constantly bombarded with ads that encourage me to purchase stuff from them, there’s no interaction possible with the instructors (you could chat with the instructors and fellow students on Craftsy, see this link about this), and the bias tape applique class isn’t listed as one of the “own forever” classes. I have an email in to BluPrint about that.

Latifaah has you begin stitching the bias tape on the inside edge using a zipper foot and moving your needle position. The cupping of the outer edge is supposed to happen. That gets fixed with lots of steam and ironing.
I’ve added an inner shape and more bias tape. I don’t like the shapes or the line you can see on the bias tape where the edges don’t quite meet. And let’s not talk about the fabrics. But that’s why you do a practice piece.

It seems I’m capable of using this technique and I think it has possibilities for my design, so all I need is yards of black bias tape and some shapes. Then, the fun of matching up my fabrics will begin.

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Filed under Art quilts, Commentary, In Process, Inspiration, Project Ideas

From Above

Every artist deals with perspective – low horizon, high horizon, eye level, at an angle, etc. Despite my misgivings about our digital age, advances in technology have given us ways to see landscape differently.

Kevin Krautgartner’s work shows what happens when a drone is put to work by a photographer on a journey. Krautgartner positioned a drone 150 meters above his car and set it to take pictures.

He’s also done a series of glacier rivers from above, many of which would make beautiful fabric. I see Spoonflower has a special on a new cotton fabric, but I don’t think I can get permission from the photographer in time to take advantage of it.

Krautgartner has made a beautiful aerial film of the Faroe Islands https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=180&v=0PikhFKyQqU. Warning, it’s not for people afraid of heights.

Krautgartner, who was born and lives in Germany, has a degree in photography and graphic design, and has won several photography awards. He sells copies of his photographs on his website in several sizes, printed on a variety of materials including metal and acrylic glass.

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Filed under Inspiration

A Change of Perspective

Last week I subjected you to umpteen iterations of layouts for “Arches.” I know, I’m the only one who saw much difference among all the versions. This week I’d like to present my final layout and thank all of you who made such helpful comments. They guided me to the version I will quilt.

It turned out I simply needed to make the width the long side, which changes how the parts relate to each other. I also added a turquoise strip along the bottom with a few narrow strip insertions.

Monty Don’s program (one of those sweetly earnest British reality TV shows featuring “Britain’s favorite gardener”) on French gardens may have subconsciously influenced me. All the gardens had geometrically pruned hedges and espaliered trees. The tall, narrow pairs of mirror image curves remind me of that rigorously trimmed French greenery. Not my taste in gardens, but I like it in a quilt.

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Filed under Art quilts, In Process, Modern Quilting

If I Sew It

I know I’ll be ripping it out tomorrow. Some projects demand that I change my mind after the sewing is done. My current project, “Arches,” is like that. After an early burst of inspiration that came together in a few hours, work on it since has been a slog. Each time I make a change, something else is off, and my seam ripper rears its pointy head.

Someone sent me a photo of Colleen Cole’s “Pockets of Time,” and I just had to start free cutting curves into solid color fabrics. I think my piece is different from hers. Certainly my palette is different with the turquoises, cobalt, hot pink, putty, and brownish gray.


Early stages when I thought I was close to done.
Then I started fussing, and added a divider between the left third and the right two-thirds
I decided the overall shape was too dumpy, and went to a thin version. This may blow my aim to have a piece at least 36 inches wide, which is a minimum for many shows.
Trying a pink strip instead of blue. You get points for finding it.
Gave up on tall version and went back to dumpy, minus the dividing strip. Hate it.
I’ve gone back to a tall format and kept the left side strip. I think this may be where I’ll stop, except for some minor fiddling around the edges. Sometimes I just get tired of a piece and want to call it done.

I’m linking to Off The Wall Friday.

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Filed under Art quilts, In Process, Modern Quilting

Two Years of Mystery

Sometimes I conclude I should give up on a piece – it just isn’t coming together, an average first grader could do better, lots of effort only seems to make it worse, etc. I suspect you’ve been there.

“Blues” was my latest reason to throw in the rotary cutter. It began with lots of blue and blue/green fabrics, and included hand embroidered blocks. It ended in deep frustration and taught me there’s a reason why Paul Klee is considered an art master and I’m not.

My inspiration was Klee’s “It’s About Time.”

I mangled it to this.

Dated 10/17

Feeling utterly defeated, I hung it on a hanger, shoved it to one side of the fabric closet, and ignored it. I made other pieces since 2017, but this one kept bugging me. Damn it, I had put too much time in it to abandon ship. I cogitated and remembered another Klee painting. If he got me into this mess, surely he could get me out.

The possible solution I saw was to use transparent colored organza and narrow strips to give my poor “Blues” coherency. At first I played with tissue paper and overlays.

Then, I painted a lot of silk organza, cut it into strips, and backed it with Misty Fuse. I was so glad I had a 5 pack of Teflon sheets. Then I began playing.

I added thin bias strips, many of which I made myself (insert pat on back here.)

It didn’t seem like enough, so I added already fused spheres from an earlier project to echo all the circles in the original fabrics. By now I had certainly strayed from the original inspiration.

I added a few more spheres and will sew them down, along with the thin strips. Once that’s done I can quilt it after I cut off about 3 inches from the left side.

Oh no, more decisions. At least I have a title – “Let The Mystery Be.” Thanks to Iris DeMent for a great song. I’ve linked to Off The Wall Friday.

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Filed under Art quilts, In Process

Missing Gwen

Not many quilt artists span the quilting world from traditional to modern and minimalist in their work. Gwen Marston did. She took her cues from the traditional folk art quilts she studied, but breathed new life into the form.

Two weeks before her death I looked at her book, “A Common Thread,” that shows over 60 quilts Gwen made and selected for this volume. It contains few words, just photo after photo of quilts made from 1976 to 2015. Here are my favorites.

So playful with the exuberant center panel and curved borders, and then the sawtooth edge
Love the casual placement of the berry clusters and the idiosyncratic roundness of the wreaths.
Those pops of turquoise and the one orange dagger!
Utterly simple, in fabrics I don’t like, yet there’s such movement in the strings.
This quilt captures stillness, and the hand quilting is sophisticated in its simplicity.

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Filed under Books, Commentary, Inspiration

African Textiles Today

Chris Spring’s book “African Textiles Today” was a mind expanding read for me. First, the photos are gorgeous; second, there’s enough text to elucidate the photos without overwhelming you; and third, it includes a section on textiles as integral elements of African photography. As I came to understand, in Africa textiles communicate many messages, some literal. Below I’ve shown the textile first, then the author’s annotation about it. Since I photographed them from the book, the curve of the pages distorts the images.

Often a kanga (a piece of cloth) will have words printed on it. My favorite is this work from Tanzania that says “The mangos are ready.” Apparently this is an invitation from wife to husband to help himself.

It was a tough decision, but my favorite textile in the book is one created in Egypt as a tent hanging.

I don’t want to lose sight of how all the textiles are created, so here is one being made.

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Filed under Books