100 Quilts · Quilts

Harvest Weekend

pumpkins

With pumpkins and tawny hues and brown grasses prevalent in the colors at this time of year and in the Northern Hemisphere, falling temperatures, it triggers the idea of harvest: cutting the wheat, gathering the last of the fall vegetables,  All Is Safely Gathered In, and that sort of thing. Well, what constitutes a harvest?

Amish Doll Quilt_detail

It all starts with seeds, a planting of an idea, a sowing of labor with the yield some time off in the future.  An idea, like beginning to learn how to make Amish quilts from a book, as I sat in the scorching heat of a Dallas Texas summer many years ago, sweat running down my back reading Roberta Horton’s Amish Adventure.

Amish Adventure_1

I had escaped to the back porch for three minutes peace from the marauding hordes of hot tired children in watching some movie on the VCR, steeping my mind in the stillness of these stunning quilts.

Horton Amish-Quilt-1

Strong graphic design and the muted, yet brilliant, colors enticed me, and I began small, with doll quilts, experimenting in the shapes, the colors.  At that time the best we could hope in terms of solid fabrics was a mix of cottons and polyester-cottons.  Purists would gasp now, but we had just barely graduated from using cardboard templates with taped edges to cutting out the lids of margarine tubs to use instead.

Amish Doll Quilt_2

Roberta Horton’s book, first published in 1983, rocked my tiny isolated world of quilting.

Amish Nine-patch

I moved from doll quilt-sized quilts to a larger wall quilt, still unfinished.  And then to a larger quilt, laid out in rows in the corner of my bedroom for weeks, while I refined the gradations of color.

Amish Sunshine and Shadow

I had drawn out Sunshine and Shadow on graph paper, trying to figure out the coloration, mimicking what I saw in fabric. This was early in my quilting career: all of my quilts on this post are numbers 10 and 11 quilts on my 100 Quilts list.  I also made a faceless doll to match what I’d heard were common in the Amish country.  And then, Amish Quilting was the first quilt class I ever taught, in a small shop in Arlington, Texas, now defunct, and yes, we made a doll quilt, and yes, we used Roberta Horton’s book.

Amish Sunshine and Shadow_back

Back to the Sunshine and Shadow, I figured out the borders, sandwiched with flannel (as she noted that Amish quilts were flatter than our fluffy renditions) and I began quilting it by hand, criss-cross, and then cut paper patterns for a twined-vine border design.

Amish Quilts Adventure Continues

The seed planted by Horton and her quilts and her book is now in a second harvest, if that’s possible.  Last summer, C & T Publishers put out a call for Amish quilts of all types to be considered for a new rendition of An Amish Adventure. I submitted my photographs and had one quilt accepted.  The book has now been released and is titled Amish Quilts–The Adventure Continues, and it as much a celebration of that first book in C & T’s publishing history as it is the style and cultural contribution of the Amish quilt–certainly a forerunner to today’s modern quilts.

Amish Quilts Book_2a

Here’s my doll quilt, made so many years ago.  I now consider it as an entry in the first round of strong bold graphic designs and solid fabrics.  In the book, mine is right next to Weeks Ringle and Bill Kerr, of the Modern Quilt Studio and Craft Nectar blog.  I certainly did do a happy dance in the kitchen as I opened up the package.

You can get the book from the C & T Publishing website and from Amazon.com.  My mother already has her copy, so I know it is shipping.  If you haven’t had a chance to make yourself an Amish quilt, perhaps now is the time, before too many more harvests stride past.

Amish Doll Quilt

I like to think about harvests, as to me it always indicates a leap of faith somewhere.  At some point I made a quilt, and now can “raise the song of harvest home.”

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As a reminder, occasionally my blogging software will include an ad at the bottom of my posts; however, I receive no monies from their ads.  Since I use this software for free, I consider it a fair trade.

100 Quilts · Finish-A-Long · Quilts

At the Bandstand, Under a Starry Night

BandstandStarryNight_front

 At the Bandstand, Under a Starry Night, front

I’ve written about this quilt on this blog before, where I referred to it as Hunter’s Star, a description of the block.  But now it is finished, binding and all, and has a new name: At the Bandstand, Under a Starry Night.

SFO Bay Bridge_1

I’ve done a couple of “under the starry night” experiences this past week, and there’s also been some bandstanding, or music.  The photo above is of the San Francisco Bay Bridge, where they have an LED art installation, The Bay Lights, which makes patterns with fish swimming across the bridge, clouds, waves, shooting lines, sparkly doodads and all sorts of patterns.  We drove up to San Francisco to see this, as it’s only here for two years.

SFO City LIghts

And here’s The City’s lights, with the Ferry Building in the foreground.  I had first made this quilt for my youngest son’s college quilt.  He was enamored of music of all kinds, acquiring the nickname of Audioman, so I incorporated music-themed fabric into the Hunter’s Star design, a personal favorite.

BandstandStarryNight_back

 At the Bandstand, Under a Starry Night, back

However, he took one look at it and kind of squinched up his eyes, subtly shook his head and didn’t say much.  I figured it out, and made him a different one (#43 on the 100 Quilts List), which he liked much better.  This one sat around.

BandstandStarryNight_detail2

I pulled it out because I’d put it on my Finish-A-Long list, rummaged through my fabric stash, finding the borders already cut out.  I slipped in the yellow inner border for some variety (funny how your quilting tastes change), found a large piece of IKEA fabric and put a back on it so my quilter could get it quilted for me.

BandstandStarryNight_back detail

Back detail

As you all know, it had been a beyond-stressful week for me not only for my own puny reasons, but troubles within my larger circle of people I love.  And then the landline phone on the house telephone went out.  That’s it, I said.  So I sat down and put on the binding, and Friday morning found me traveling north with my husband to a scientific conference.  I happily stitched as he drove.

BandstandStarryNight_tree1

 quilt on a large cypress tree, outside our hotel room

So we found ourselves here in Monterey and it’s the jazz festival — a Big Deal, with Big Names — jazz in the lounge, on the stereo, musical instruments being seen everywhere.  And I thought of the best kind of music, being played with great affection and intensity under a starry night, perhaps even by a band on a bandstand on a summery night, and so the quilt found its name, and its finish.

BandstandStarryNight_tree

FinishALong Button

This is one of my project on the Finish-A-Long list, and quilt #47 on my 100 Quilts List.  Yes, I went backwards.  (Although now I only list them when they are completed, earlier I slipped in a couple of tops only.)

100 Quilts

Using the Other Side of Fabrics

First off, after I finally figured out how to use Mr. Random Number Generator, and making sure that comment included a trip, I’m happy to announce that the winner of the Itsy Bitsy Scissors is Mary, of Needled Mom.  Congrats!

I figured since I subjected you to a swath of vacation photos, I needed to get real and get some real quilts back up here on the blog.  I started yesterday on the newest Schnibbles for June, Dulcinea, beginning with the background fabric in a navy-blue print:

background dulcinea

A high-quality iPhone photo, uploaded, then recaptured as a screen shot.  Love technology.  Kidding, but it does come in handy.

mockupDulcinea

I filled in with mostly Comma prints, but a few others (I hate doing one line of fabric), but it just wasn’t going anywhere for me, until I turned the background fabric over to the “other side,” not the “wrong” side (shown in pink circle).  Why do I not say “the wrong side”?  It comes from the era of watercolor quilts, when we tried to blend blend blend our tones across multitudes of itty-bitty squares.  We learned to consider both sides of a piece of fabric as possibilities.

Watercolor Quilt

Here’s my version: Color Study: Night Infolds the Day.  My friend Leisa got us started on this adventure–I think it was her first quilt ever.  We cut about a zillion little squares, and since that cool gridded fusible web hadn’t been invented yet, we pieced them all.

Watercolor detail 2

So the technique was to smooth the colors across the colorful sections, and sometimes no matter how many little squares you browsed through, it just wasn’t possible.

Watercolor detail1

So you flipped the piece over and used the “other side,” like the middle partial square in the upper row, and the full right-hand square in the second row.

Watercolor Back

I used an allover celestial print for the back–that was pretty daring for that time — all of 14 years ago.

Watercolor Label

The label.  I exhibited this is a local quilt show, and stitched on their label, too.  The best part of this story is that our friend Tracy adopted our six pizza boxes full of squares (we sorted them by value, from light to dark), added about a zillion white squares and made herself a wonderful quilt from our leftovers, another value of getting together in a quilt group.  This is #29 on my 100 Quilts List.

Carmel BluesAnother quilt where I used the “other” side sometimes, was on the quilt I made for my mother (mentioned in last week’s post).  We’d gone to a quilt show in Carmel, where I’d picked up a fat quarter pack of blues.  This is titled The Blues of Carmel, and is #19 on my 100 quilts list.  It’s named not only for the ocean at Carmel’s edge, and that pack of blues from the quilt show, but also because my mother has blue eyes.

Carmel Blues Back

The back of this is merely a whole cloth, allover design, which I used as a guide to hand-quilt.  Pretty much the only people who machine quilted their quilts at that time were J. C. Penny’s or Sears.  It was hand-quilt, or yarn-tie.  Quite a range of options, right?  Since this was made in my earlier days, it doesn’t have a label.  I need to remedy that.  This quilt was published in Joen Wolfrom’s book Color Play (page 64). Don’t know who Joen Wolfrom is?  Google her.  Her book, Patchwork Persuasion is ground-breaking.  And just typing “#19 of 100 Quilts” makes me realize how far I’ve come, and how far quilting has evolved, in the nearly two decades since I made this.  Of course, I’M not any older.

Dulcinea Label

This was on my melon for lunch, which reminds me I need to get back to sewing that Schnibbles quilt, another one in Sherri and Sinta’s Another Year of Schnibbles!

100 Quilts · Books

Scrappy Stars!

Scrappy Stars, full view

I can finally write this post, as I caught Dave before he picked up his latest Donna Leon book (see the picture at the end for my stack).  I used to have this perfect photography studio, but then we had to replace our garage doors and I can’t staple a white sheet onto it any more.  So, I have Dave hold up the quilt for me in the back yard.

Here’s the requisite languid beauty shot: Quilt Draped Over Something.

The back.  You know that fabric you have that you love love love and it’s been sitting sitting sitting on your shelf for too long?

This was mine, so I put it to good use on the back of this very red quilt.

My quilter, Cathy of CJ Designs, did a meander over the star points and a star on a rolling wavy line in the borders. I had wanted to quilt this myself and imagined some glorious feat like Angela Walters accomplishes–all detail and punch and wonderfulness.  But in the end, I traded “Done” for “Glory,” as the pragmatic side of me realized that summer was o-v-e-r and if this quilt was to be enjoyed, I needed help on the quilting.

The label:  Scrappy Stars • No one sees what is before his feet: we all gaze at the stars.  –  Cicero

This is my number 100 of 100 quilts.  Now I’m starting on my second batch of one-hundred quilts.

I’ve arranged this stack of Donna Leon books I’ve finished in order of publication, with Death at La Fenice the very first one she published.  Notice how we get the paperbacks from used books stores (via Amazon and Abe Books online).  ( That second one is titled Death in a Strange Country.) There’s a lot of her books out there. So far, Acqua Alta is my most favorite, but I do like her subplots and characters. I’ve made a note to buy little almond cakes while we’re there, as they only appear around the first part of November — a piece of trivia gleaned from one of the novels.  At any rate, I look forward to reading more of these as soon as I can.

100 Quilts · Books · Creating

My Head’s in a Book. . . or Two

I should be annotating the readings I assigned to my students with my brand new colored pencils, but instead my brain’s rebelled.  It is Saturday after all, and I need a break.

Remember the exhibit I was all gaga over at Long Beach?  Well, the twelve-by-twelve group has put out a book, Twelve By Twelve: The International Art Quilt Challenge, and it arrived in my mailbox this week.

There’s so much in here, and I’ve just barely started reading.  They have an overview of each theme, and have featured one quilt from that collection and the artist that created it.  We get to learn about her methods, ways of working, how she approached the idea and how it percolated in her mind.

Some of my favorites from the exhibit are featured, as well as an overview of how they all got together.  The Leader of the Pack found a website where six quilters had embarked on a similar project.  So she then asked twelve quilt artists that she knew to try this themed approach to working.  I’ve been chatting with Rachel and we think we’d like to try, and although we know we are certifiably nuts to add one more thing to our lives, the idea of trying new techniques and ideas in a small space (a quiltlet, if you will) is appealing.

We all have Too Much To Do, for sure, but I keep thinking of that old refrain I have heard more than once–something about the worst thing to live with is regret.  I’ve settled some of my ghosts–doubtful I’ll ever write a novel, or climb Mt. Everest (really doubtful on that one), or go bungee-jumping.  But to pass up on a chance to push the creative edge may be a regret I don’t want hanging around.  I think Rachel and I are still wondering if we want to jump off that Quiltlet Cliff, but if you want to walk to the edge and jump with us, leave me a comment and we’ll start to put together our own group.  You have to agree to a deadline, but it will be well-labeled.

The Gentle Art of Quiltmaking is the second book that came this week (banner week for books, I know!) by Jane Brocket.  Betty, a reader, and I were talking (“emailing”) about a quilt titled the Swimming Pool quilt, shown here on the cover, a lush compilation of Kaffe Fassett fabrics.  The whole book is filled with quilts like this, in moody atmospheric settings.  I mentioned to Betty that sometimes these illustrations drove me nuts as I wanted Full! Color! Pictures! of the quilts so I could really study them.

But the quilts are so beautiful I put up with this inconvenience.  She’s quite descriptive in her ideas, methods and even fabric lines used.

At the end of the book, she includes this visual index of the quilts, but. . . I still wanted them larger, esp. since it’s a hardback book. It’s published by C&T, which publishes most of my favorite quilt books.

And lastly, I have my 100th quilt back from the quilter, and am sewing the binding, sleeve and label on.

More photos when I can get my husband to finish his Donna Leon book–we’re feasting on them currently, our heads always with Detective Guido Brunetti, solving crime in Venice.  My husband is on #12 in the series; I just finished #8 (I’m trying to catch up).  This fall we’re headed to Northern Italy, with a stop in Venice, but in reading these books, I feel like I’m already there.

100 Quilts · Quilts · Tutorial

Village Houses: Joybells Ring in Heaven’s Street

When I was at our sewing group, Lisa brought out her “house” quilt, the earliest group quilt that we’d attempted together.  You saw hers.  Here’s mine:

We had the common fabrics to use of the fairy print (on navy) and the pink striped (shown in some of the houses).

And here we are: Tracy, Lisa, Susan (who has moved away) and me, all holding up our quilt squares.  I love how they are all laid around the sofa everywhere.  And I love seeing that houses quilt in the background (#14 on my 100 quilts list, made 10 years earlier in 1988).

Detail.  I wanted it to have bits and pieces of a neighborhood so I included those things in each deep border above and below the houses.  I guess at the time it had significance, as I notice some World Wide Web fabric there (the earth globe above).  The internet was just getting popular then — seems like a millenium ago.

This one’s my house.  I guess my fairy was tired and lay down on the front walkway.

Label.

I entered into Road to California in 2000; here’s what I wrote on the entry form:

As I was designing all the houses, I tried to include a wide variety of styles, to illustrate the diversity of a street in Heaven, a celestial neighborhood that would be knit together in love and faith. In the upper and lower borders, I placed activities that the people in the houses might do: getting together with friends, outdoor activities, celebrating holidays, and of course, quilting.  The name of this quilt comes from an old saying that explains that when a child is given a home, “Joy-bells ring in Heaven’s street.”

You know those things you buy at quilt shows, like the panel above.  Whenever are you going to use them, if not for backs?

Okay, here’s a few of the houses.  The links underneath each illustration are templates for each house.  They are PDF download files, but I’d ask you to remember that since I was a novice at this software at that time, they aren’t perfect.  Some have a lot of pieces, others are more streamlined.  A mix is best, if you’re making a village.

1930s Prairie House ESE

BackPorchHouseESE

HouseintheVillageESE

RiversideAveHouseESE

SmallSchoolhouseESE

StLouisHouseESE