Category Archives: Commentary

This Year’s SAQA Auction

Recently I’ve received many emails and Instagram posts about the upcoming SAQA small quilts auction, scheduled for September 15 through October 8. Messages remind me of the number of lovely quilts and how helpful the funds raised are to SAQA. A fun aspect is the themed groups of quilts selected by SAQA members.

Benefit Auction starts Sept 15th!

The 2017 SAQA Benefit Auction will take place from September 15 through October 8. This is your chance to own beautiful and unique art quilts made by SAQA members around the world – 368 pieces are available for bidding! For details, visit saqa.com/auction.

Once again I didn’t make a quilt to contribute. As I’ve said before, I have a hard time producing anything meaningful at 12 by 12 inches. Some contributors manage to pack a lot into that space.

As I did last year, I categorized the themes used. This year landscapes were most common theme by a long shot, being featured in 37 quilts, followed by botanicals in 27 quilts. The ever popular birds came in with 20 (not so many crows this year,) followed closely by people in 18 quilts. Animals were featured in 14 quilts, and bugs were the main attraction in 5. The themes used in the rest of this year’s crop were either abstract or one-offs. Of course, others will most likely come up with different ways to sort the quilts.

You can peruse all this year’s entries here. My favorites based on one review of the contributions are:

I realize each of my choices tell a story in 12 by 12 inches, even the one by Linda Colsh. If you look closely at “Crossing Paths” you’ll see a figure laden with packages. If I figure out a way to pack a story into 144 square inches I’ll make an entry for a future auction.

 

 

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Filed under Art quilts, Commentary

A Few Small Repairs

Every blog reaches the point where it needs some new drapes and slipcovers as the old have gotten a bit shabby. I’ve begun that process here by deleting one feature – books about quilting that I like, and adding another – quilts I’ve made by type.

I own lots of books about quilting, even after giving away many of my books about traditional quilts and patterns. I make a point of looking at quilting books as they’re published, mostly by borrowing them from my library. However, I think that fewer books about quilting are being published, and that trend will continue. AQS will no longer publish new books, and I’ve noticed fewer titles on offer from other publishers. Some of the books that do get published, many focused on modern quilting and craft sewing, strike me as lean on content.

The availability of digital patterns and loads of free stuff on the internet, especially YouTube videos of techniques, make it so easy to do without books. Then, there are online classes from Craftsy, creativebug, and others. Of course, the classes impact the quantity of  in-person teaching available, as well.

The upshot is I realized I hadn’t added any books to that section of this blog in a few years and very few readers looked at it, so I felt it was time to retire it. You can still read reviews I’ve written by clicking on “books” under Topics. I plan to continue reviewing books of potential interest to me and my readers.

Now to the addition. When I began this blog I grouped photos of my quilts by years. Recently I thought about what types of quilts I’ve made over the years, and decided to sort my quilts by type. Turns out the majority are improvisational and graphic. Of course, my categories are a bit arbitrary as some quilts could fit more than one type. And another person would sort them differently.

I’ve kept the rest of the pages, including tutorials. I like to have tutorials I use a lot in one place. From my site’s stats it seems many people look at that page. Every so often I check to make sure the links still work, so I hope there’s not much link rot.

I’d love to hear your opinions as to what parts of this blog are helpful and/or interesting. Since I began it as a journal of my quilting experiences, I don’t cover topics I don’t care about, and it is indeed all about me and my opinions. I’ve made it public in hopes that others might learn from my experiences, especially from my goofs. One great, unanticipated, result of making my thoughts public is meeting my readers through their comments. Many thanks.

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Filed under Books, Commentary

Very Short Term Memory Loss

If you’ve ever seen the movie “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” you know how I’ve felt the past week. If you haven’t, let me explain. About a week ago I began to work on a long delayed paper templates project that I designed from a drawing. Here’s the genesis of the drawing.

I believe the final result succeeded in abstracting the object.

I enlarged my drawing and made freezer paper templates for the pieces. Each piece was carefully numbered and color coded, and the sewing order was worked out. The idea was the actual sewing would be a no brainer, just cut out and join the pieces in the already numbered sequence.

I selected a white, gray and black palette, with one color. Originally that color was to be green, but I didn’t like that and ended up using a very muted red.

On day one of sewing I used my master drawing for the big picture and cut out the freezer paper pieces. I ironed the freezer paper to my fabrics and cut out the pieces, leaving a quarter inch seam allowance. Then I saw I forgot to mirror image my freezer paper, and the freezer paper was on the inside, not the outside, of my fabric pieces when I put them together to sew.  I remade the freezer paper templates for my first section, reversing the image this time.

On day two I moved on to the second section. After cutting out two pieces of fabric I realized I forgot to remake the freezer paper pieces, so I stopped and redid the templates for section 2. Then, I ironed the now correctly mirror imaged pieces to my fabrics. Oops, I ironed them to the wrong (right) side of the fabric so I peeled off the pieces and began again, ironing the paper to the correct side (which is the wrong side) of the fabric.

Days three and four were a repeat of day two, only with the third and fourth sections. Apparently my brain was reset each night and failed to remember the mirror image reversal needed. At least I discovered my mistake sooner on days three and four and wasted less fabric. I did spend time each day holding two pieces of fabric up and thinking, which way do they go now?

I resewed section four three times as I changed my mind about the color, so I got lots of practice in ironing the templates to the correct side of the fabric.

In defense of paper piecing, you have less chance of repeating your errors if you’re sewing to one paper pattern than if you’re using individual templates. In further defense, I’m sure the templates technique works better if you have a properly functioning brain that doesn’t delete hard won knowledge overnight.

The final top has a few additions because the cut and dried path didn’t work so well for me. So much for advance planning.

 

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Filed under Commentary, In Process, Techniques

Remember Those Sewing Pattern Books?

Since old sewing patterns were always the leftovers at my guild’s sales, I was surprised to find that some people actually buy and sell them. I came across the Vintage Pattern Wiki that has 83,500+ patterns you can browse by garment type, decade, or designer. Their definition of vintage – 1992 and older – took me aback as my definition starts a few decades before 1992.

I haven’t actually used a paper pattern for sewing for a long while. No, I’m wrong. I used a paper pattern to make my silk vest. But, with that one exception, I can’t remember the last time I sat down at the fabric store and whiled away an hour or so looking through the Butterwick, McCalls, Simplicity, and Vogue pattern books.  So, it was quite the memory lane experience to look through this wiki.

I can’t believe the wiki has 92 pages of jumpsuit patterns. That’s right, jumpsuits – those impossible to use the bathroom without getting undressed “liberated” items of female clothing. I remember a nifty knee length number I made with a back zipper.

Stretch knit, held up with one tie. Figure flattering, I’m sure.

How could any seamstress go wrong with that bias cut large plaid?

For the devoted 1970s couple, his and her jumpsuits. Love his turtleneck.

Continuing with fashions that should never see the light of day again, here are my choices for best of the worst.

Nothing says the 1960s like a dashiki pattern.

If you want to make a fool of a man, sew up this intrepid explorer number.

 

That romper seems to be right off the “Three’s Company” set.

What was with those enormously oversized jackets?

This military inspired jacket looks great for smuggling small animals through customs.

I did find some I actually liked. In fact, it was hard to restrain myself from showing countless more. None are from the 1980s.

Deep pleated high waist trousers from 1937. Don’t know about the head gear, though.

 

A 1957 cocktail dress with deep shawl collar, back bow and burst of pleats.

Another 1950s full skirted dress. Check out the tiny waist and gored pleats.

A 1934 confection that would be wonderful in silk chiffon.

A wedding gown straight from 1963.

Pattern companies have been using celebrities to lend glamour to their work for decades.

An Edith Head suit complete with 3/4 length, fur trimmed jacket sleeves.

You could look like Claudette Colbert with this pattern. I see that a size 16 had a 34 inch bust in those days. The wedding gown pattern from 1963 shows a size 14 with a 34 inch bust. The fashion industry has been working for decades to convince us we’re a smaller size than we really are.

I should point out that the Vintage Pattern Wiki is designed to help sell old patterns, not to amuse the likes of me. If you want to buy old patterns, you can also find many on Etsy, which is where I came across this quintessential 1980s gem.

 

 

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3,500 Centuries of Glass In Six Hours

I can’t rave enough about the Corning Museum of Glass in Corning, New York. My husband and I toured it earlier this month, and expected to be there for about three hours. Instead we were immersed in glass, from its scientific and technical aspects to its artistry, and had to tear ourselves away late in the afternoon. The world renowned collection draws many visitors from abroad. A glass making demonstration we watched was simultaneously translated into Mandarin.

One display is indeed called 3,500 centuries of glass. If you’re a glass objects lover, then allow time for the research library and the Frederick Carder (manager of Steuben Glass for many years) gallery. For entertainment several live demonstrations are on offer, including breaking glass. Sorry, you can watch but not participate. You can also sign up to make glass yourself.

Corning itself seems a shadow of its former glory. It’s trying to get a hip downtown scene going in what’s called the Gaffer District, but how many pubs and massage/healing therapy places can a town support? Corning Glass, now called Corning Incorporated, is still headquartered there, though much of the manufacturing is done elsewhere. The modern headquarters building is behind one of the old entry gates.

But back to the glass. Here’s my highly curated selection of photos based on personal taste and how photogenic the pieces were. Glass reflects light so many of my photos show mostly the spotlights, not the object, despite having the flash turned off.

The above two images are from a special exhibit on Tiffany studio’s mosaic glass. Artisans worked up samples for commissioned works before doing the whole panel. The panels are gorgeous but not photogenic – at least not with my phone camera.

I didn’t note the artist for the above work, but it reminds me of time lapse videos that show seeds sprouting and swaying to catch the light.

The above won my “over the top ostentatious display of wealth” award.

A display case full of blue aurene glass, one of several thousand works designed by Frederick Carder, Steuben Glass Works manager from 1903-1932. The gallery is separate from the main museum, but is worth the short walk to reach it. My first response to this case was holy crap! Then I went on to the other cases and lost the power of speech.

If you visit, and I hope you do, I recommend you arrive right at 9 a.m. when the museum opens. The crowds build towards the afternoon. And they really love to shop.

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“With These Hands” Exhibit

On the way to my Sue Benner workshop my travel companion and I stopped at the Ross Art Museum in Delaware, Ohio, to take in the With These Hands art quilt exhibit. Actually, I made the stop a condition of doing the driving, as I have a piece in the exhibit. I hadn’t realized the quality of the company my quilt was keeping until I got there.

The exhibit was organized in conjunction with the Quilt Surface Design Symposium (QSDS), which is held each June in Columbus, Ohio. The works shown are a good cross section of art quilt approaches and techniques, though a bit light on the Nancy Crow style solids, which are plentiful at this year’s Quilt National exhibit. The Ross Museum exhibit is up until June 30, so if you’re driving I-71 through central Ohio or near Columbus, consider stopping by. I can find no online photos of the whole exhibit.

One approach I saw on several quilts was segmentation, either with separate strips or with panels sewn together after much of the work was done. Here are some examples.

Frauke Palmer made ten narrow panels connected only at the top.

Wen Redmond tied 21 panels together after creating variations of the same photo.

In “shell river” Lee Thomson created four panels separately, then hand sewed them together and added the button river.

Other quilts emphasized surface design.

Dominie Nash used crocheted pieces to print from in “Grandfather’s Garden.” Various shibori dyeing techniques are featured in Sharon Weltner’s “The Gateway to Night Time Vision.”

Some stood out for their color.

Trance by Kathleen Kastles grabs your eye from the entrance to the exhibit. Those blues and the narrow shape make it dramatic.Lots of little pieces of fabric make up the “rocks” in Beth Porter Johnson’s “Rhythms Within III.” Four Story Walk-up by Linda Strowbridge also uses small bit piecing.

Theresa Rearden used wonky half square triangles set in curves in “Off The Grid.” The detail of the ribbon overlay and the quilting shows below. There are also lots of french knots.Sandra Ciolino’s quilting in “Voluta #6 Solista” is exquisitely controlled.Finally, here’s my The Language of Pink Elephants, punching well above its weight.

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Filed under Commentary, Quilt Shows

Graphic Inspiration

I find it helpful to look at inspiration books that range farther afield than quilting. My latest non quilting book read is Graphic: 500 Designs That Matter, published by Phaidon. It’s a small but thick book divided into the images themselves and a timeline of all the images with more information about each.

The earliest image is from 1377, though most designs are drawn from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The most recent image is dated 2011-12. You’ll want to fasten your seat belt for this ride. The book sets a land speed record for ground covered. Just plunge in as there’s no readily apparent organization scheme, other than the editors’ perception of similarities between facing images.

About a quarter of the designs do nothing for me; about half intrigue me; and the rest give me ideas for quilt designs. I want to feature a few that I can see using in a quilt.

The curved diagonal lines and arrows combined with transparent overlays give movement and depth, and would make a great modern quilt.

I love the paper doll quality of the men’s suits – just cut out an appropriately scaled fabric. Detail is used sparingly in the men’s faces and hands. Definitely a design for raw edge applique.

This magazine cover could work well for narrow strip piecing (no curves) in subtly different shades. I like the NYC contained within the staggered BIG.

While a bit hard on the eyes, this logo for the Olympics in Mexico is a great quilting design inspiration. The break the X and I provide is a welcome relief.

I think the different ways these letters are drawn would work up well in bias tape of varying widths. You’d have to make up the rest of the alphabet, but that could be fun.

While not so immediately applicable to quilting, this design appeals to me for its Escher-like changeover from male to female legs.

I couldn’t resist this ad that features RCA spelled out in Morse code. Shades of my “Connect the Dots” quilt, below.

I’m sure everyone who looks at this book will choose different favorites, but that’s part of its appeal, along with the reasonable price of $25.

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Filed under Books, Commentary