I admit it–I was in two fabric stores today: Michael Levine’s in Los Angeles (where they had 10% off all quilt fabric) and Sew Modern (always a treat to visit). I went to Los Angeles as part of my week-long This-Will-Matter-Spring-Break experience, which also means I’m trying to avoid cleaning out the garage, or other household chores, but I did love Lily van der Stoker’s take on housework, seen at the Hammer Museum at UCLA: I’d gone to see Charles Gaines’ work, as he’s all about the grid, but the pieces I really wanted to see were in an area of the gallery that was roped off because of maintenance (which made me a bit crazy). Above is a schematic of fallen leaves off a tree (you can see the branches in the background), but it’s something you just have to see–I can’t explain it. And then I topped that all off with four hours of LA traffic (Motto: You Aren’t in a Hurry, Are You?) and a fun night at my local quilt guild. And all around was pattern. The stack of fabrics I bought were prints. The art I saw in the gallery was based on the grid and time and three-dimensions and it was all this idea of marks on paper, on photographs. . . no blank space unless it was part of the idea of his work. But the filled–in little squares defined those blank spaces. Now look at this. This is predominantly what I saw at Quiltcon: solids. Yes, chopped up, sliced, diced and pickled, but all solids (kidding about the pickled part). Over and over. And straight lines. Over and over. Don’t get me wrong–I really enjoyed the show, only tiring of the square-in-a-square or rectangle-in-a-rectangle when I saw it too often (time to move on now, peoples). Where were the prints? There’s been a healthy discussion going on on Instagram (just click on the button on the right to be taken to my feed, where you’ll also find the names of the makers of the following quilts) about what happened to the prints? I was a total fan-girl for Alison Glass and her prints. And here is Heather Ross, she of print fabrics fame, agreeing to a selfie with me (yes, I’m a fangirl there, too). But I did find some prints, and I thought I’d show you them. Notice also how many straight lines there are. Yes, there seems to be a bias against curved seams, with a few notable exceptions (Leanne Chahley’s fine work comes to mind), but here’s a few quilts that had print fabrics: This was a small quilt–maybe 24″? Lee Heinrich also does excellent work with prints, making them modern by her treatment of them through repetition and color-shifting. When there were prints, they were more like this one, where the print “read” as a solid, disappearing. Caught in the QuiltCon wild: a quilt with prints AND curves. And another, with detail shown below. The prints aren’t try to disappear, they are there in all their patterned glory. Here’s another great use of prints, by the talented duo of Lora Douglas (piecing) and my friend Linda Hungerford (quilting). Again, click on Instagram and scroll through the photos, then click to see the captions, where I identify all these quilts and their makers (offending several in my family with my quilt-heavy feed–cue eyeroll). Final print-prominent quilt of QuiltCon for this grouping. Like I said, the majority of quilts were solids, pieced and quilted in straight lines. Glorious, but there is obviously a bias. Now take a look at what WE, the QuiltCon attendees were wearing: A mix of solids and prints. Charlie Harper on a backpack. Her scarf? Print. His body? Print. I wish I’d had the guts to ask Storybook Lass for a photo showing the front of this dress. And here was a quilt by Windham Fabrics, a manufacturer: And the lovely young woman who sat manning the Sit and Sew Booth, with a lot of fun PRINT fabrics (her creation after sitting there for four days). Malka Dubrawsky, who has wonderful bold prints (yes, I was shameless in asking for selfless), as well as Vanessa Christensen (below) of V and Co. with lots of fabulous prints in her line of fabrics (although she is showing a solids quilt example for our class). In talking with the saleslady at Sew Modern today, she saw some of the same thing (as she cut my yardage of. . . what else. . . prints), but here’s hoping that the Modern Quilt movement will start to branch out as the skill level grows of these quilters, finding ways to incorporate print into their modern version. Next show is in a year, in Pasadena. Stay tuned. I was totally impressed with all the things you readers have been doing, from cleaning out cupboards, to fixing computers to making blankets and quilts. Since today is March 17th, St. Patrick’s Day, I chose the 17th commenter for one prize, then did a double-algorhymic interpolation to pick the second winner. Just kidding, I picked the first person who wrote, because Vanessa Christensen was the giving away tons of cool stuff in her class, but I was number 1 and NEVER got picked. Ever. So I thought that our Number One should win something. Congratulations–I’ll send you an email to get your mailing addresses.
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:
A high-quality iPhone photo, uploaded, then recaptured as a screen shot. Love technology. Kidding, but it does come in handy.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I used an allover celestial print for the back–that was pretty daring for that time — all of 14 years ago.
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.
Another 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.
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.
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!
Pins and Needles, in New York City
I’ve been in New York City for a week, and while there I discovered a new quilting/fabric shop, on the upper East Side, a few blocks from the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It’s called Pins and Needles.
Ring the buzzer, and they’ll let you in. Head up the stairs to the second floor, and their door is on the left. It’s like going up to fabric heaven from the gritty bustle of the streets.
I am standing at the window overlooking the street, and photographing toward the back. It’s not a big shop, but it has such a variety of modern fabrics and ideas and even a little classroom area, that I felt it had a lot to offer.
The classroom and looking out the window. There are basically three fabric stores that cater to quilters and home sewists in New York City: City Quilters (midtown), Purl Soho (Soho, or lower third of Manhattan) and now this gem of a shop.
I was immediately welcomed by two very friendly women: the owner Rachel Low (on the left) and Lauren Rucci; Rachel gave me permission to take photos. She also maintains a Facebook page for the shop, if you’re interested, as well as a blog.
Though compact, it felt spacious. They have a wide variety of modern fabrics, well-edited, and I could see lots I wanted to take home. But since I had practically sat on my suitcase that morning to get it closed, I was constrained by space.
While most of us diehard quilters approach fabric with a fair amount of gluttony (unless you are sitting on your suitcase to get it closed), in the shop Lauren has taken more of an arts and crafts approach, as opposed to quilting, even using the term “patchwork,” as their clientele is more geared toward sewing. Smart move, as you can learn to do the quilting after a good knowledge of fashion sewing has been established. One of the most successful things a shop can do is to know who their customer is.
I loved their wall displays. Rachel has worked in the fashion industry, including a two-year stint at Prada, so the shop incorporates these themes into their decor.
I loved their wall with fashion pictures, fabric swatches–so many ideas! I have noticed the trend towards sewing; many quilters are trending towards making dresses and clothes not only for themselves, but also for their children. I just happened to do it the reverse, majoring first in Clothing and Textiles, then discovering quilting later. I say, no matter how you come to it, sewing something for yourself or for your home is extremely rewarding, and this shop brings all of those ideas together.
Crafting table. They hold several classes for children’s crafts.
I loved the window overlooking the stree, with a comfortable banquette with cute pillows.
And what did make it into my suitcase? Three cuts of fabrics, some Itty-Bitty Scissors, all done up in a very cute bag. These scissors are about 1 1/2″ inches long, have a point cover; Rachel says her customers have been successfully taking them on airplanes to do their stitching. I bought an extra, and would love to share it with you.
Leave me a comment below and I’ll choose a winner on Tuesday morning. In your comment, tell me where you’ve traveled recently and have needed a pair of teensy scissors, as well as which color you’d prefer: turquoise or pink. And if you are not a winner, I’m sure that Rachel of Pins and Needles would be happy to ship you your own. Contact her at her Etsy Shop, or by email (email@example.com).
My daughter and her children came last weekend, and then we had a big family party on Saturday. But early that morning, before we even had to wash off the patio chairs, Barbara (my daughter) and I snuck out to a garage sale. I’d heard about it the night before, at Quilt Night, and wanted to see it for myself.
Box after box after box after box of fabric. Most had been purchased from a now-defunct dime store, and most were in pieces less than 1/2 yard. Some was substandard fabric–cheap gauzy stuff with garish prints. But a lot of it was worth looking through.
They’d dragged out their ping-pong tables, some sheets of plywood and set out a few stacks of fabrics to entice us. I found a stack of ginghams. More for my stash. There were a few interesting vintage pillowcases/sheets. I got a few of those. Actually I turned one of the pillowcases into a bag in case I needed to pick up more.
Can you believe all this? Turns out the owner of this house didn’t collect it all. He’s a realtor and to get the listing for a house he was pitching, they made him agree to clean out the old woman’s collection of fabric and books. He called in a used book salesman and they took a slew. Then he dumped the rest of the books — 3 dumpsters full — which about broke my heart, because I’m a book lover.
There were even some hand-pieced pineapple blocks, but I didn’t pick them up because I want to make my own pineapple quilt, and the combination of fabrics ranged from sheet batiste to a heavy twill. And strange color combinations, as you can see. By this time, as I was lugging my pillowcase of ginghams and sheets, the jokes started among the quilters that were there. Can you see our daughters having to do this when we all kick off? Poor Barbara, her friend Shawnie said. Poor you, Barbara said. Your mom’s a quilter, too.
I had tried to look through some of the boxes, because it was all just HERE waiting for us quilters to collect it. But I’m used to the high-quality cottons from my local quilt shops and I remembered my husband home with all of Barbara’s kids and at some point, it all became just too much. So I paid for my fabrics and threw the lumpy pillowcase into the back of the car.
I walked back and found what few books there were, and selected some to go. Three of a four-book series on 1000 patchwork blocks. It reminds me of my Encyclopedia of Quilt Pattern by Barbara Bachman, but a lot more home grown. I’ve had fun looking through them.
So, I left most of the fabric there. Be real. Given the paltry amount in my pillowcase, I left all of it there, comparatively speaking. Lately I’ve been trying to shop my stash and to rediscover some of my earlier plans, so I was okay to leave all those possibilities there on the realtor’s driveway. So noble. Such restraint.
Can’t say I didn’t think about it for the rest of the day, though.