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QQ 2015 Final Quilt Design

You’ve been following with me as I’ve created my quilt for this year’s Quilter’s Quest and here it finally is, my finished quilt top, Calliope. The journey has been a fun one from its design just this summer to the final appliqué stitches.

Quest Quilt 2015I have been enjoying doing some applique designs and have been influenced by the ox cart wheels that I saw in Costa Rica earlier this year and also by the beautiful applique of the tentmakers of Cairo.

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Ox Cart in Costa Rica
Cairo tentmakers
A tentmaker in Cairo

Planning for the Quest started long before I began this quilt. All of us at the 10 participating shops look forward to our shop hop and work hard to make it fun for you because it’s so much fun for us. We love seeing old friends, making new ones and revel in the festive atmosphere.

Each shop has designed and made a quilt just as I have, using our color-coordinated 10-inch squares.  When you visit a shop, you will receive a free pattern for that shop’s quilt. The colors this year are the bright and cheery tones of a sunrise and blend well together. If you make it to all ten shops you can collect all of the fabrics used in the quilts and will be eligible for some fantastic prizes. As always, we have exclusive fabrics designed just for the Quest featuring images special to our region.

quest chartWe have been working very hard gearing up for your visit, making special projects, assembling kits, and preparing demonstrations. We still have a few places on our two buses and would love to have you join us along with quilters from across the country.

mark-this-date-clip-art-398014Mark the Quest dates on your calendar, November 6 – 15, and make plans to visit us all during the Quest.

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Design Dilemmas

QQ1This past month I have been busy designing and sewing the quilt for our Quilters’ Quest shop hop this year. Each of the 10 shops is creating a quilt using the swatches that questers will collect along the way. There are 60 ten-inch squares in all and they are based on our color scheme of sunset colors.

quest chartMy first challenge was in working with all of those bright colors without any dark or neutral tones to calm them down. I decided I would add some neutrals and darks along the way, and would also work to shade the colors together.

I came up with a design fairly fast and have been sewing for several weeks now. I felt like I have already pieced this quilt three times. I keep changing my mind. I did add some darker pieces in one of the shading groups, but then I decided it was too dark.

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I first tried shading the sections with rectangles. I felt there was too much dark.

So I took them apart and removed some of the dark I had added and liked it better.

So I took them apart and removed some of the dark......the old section is on the left in this photo and the new one on the right.
The old section is on the left in this photo and the new one on the right.

The next challenge was in trying to decide what border print to use. I auditioned six different ones and in order to see how they looked, I had to sew them into the triangles.

My choices came down to two different borders.

Rajasthan border
Rajasthan border
Carnival border
Carnival border

I didn’t like the Rajasthan border, even though the colors were perfect. The value was too close to the other fabrics so the star points did not stand out. I finally opted for the dark of the Carnival border. It seemed to bring in some neutrals that calmed down the brightness of the other colors. I selected a neutral background that coordinates with the border.

I will keep working on it and have more photos in a couple of weeks as the quilt progresses. Stay tuned.

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Designing Fabric

swatchestMost of you know that I have been designing fabric for quilters for a lot of years. My first line was introduced in 1981 by a company that shall remain nameless. I did three lines for that company in two years and they decided that quilting had reached it’s peak in popularity and they were getting out while they were still on top. Hah! Little did they know.

RJR Fabrics heard that I would no longer be with that company and asked me to work for them. It has been a great partnership between us and I have been working with them since 1983. RJR is in the Los Angeles area while I am on the east coast. We mostly meet remotely but manage to get together a few times throughout the year.

Recently, I flew to Los Angeles and went to the RJR offices to meet with the new art director, individuals from the Japanese company who work with my screen print fabrics, and those from yet another company who I work with in producing my batik lines. It was a whirlwind day and a half but we got a lot accomplished.

RJR has moved to new offices in the past year so it was great seeing their new place and touring the facilities. When you walk through the door, you are struck by the openness of the offices and color everywhere. Quilts are hanging all around and it is just a colorful, happy environment.

Sorting batiks
Demi, the head of marketing at RJR, sorting batiks with me

While at RJR, I sorted fabrics from my three batik collections, mixing the groups. RJR plans to make pixie groupings of these (2 ½” strips of 40 fabrics per group) and I am designing quilts that can be made with each group. In fact, I am recoloring our popular Crayon Box quilt using these pixies. Here is a sneak peak of one of the colorways.

Front entryway at RJR Fabrics
Front entryway at RJR Fabrics

 

Quilts at RJR
Summer Lily and Lone Star Salute in the halls at RJR
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A small portion of the warehouse
Working on kits in warehouse
Women making kits for other retailers (we make our own here in the Studio)
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The shipping department
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Folding fat quarters for bundles
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Packaging kits and bundles
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Try Your Hand at Color Shading

Customers walking into the Studio are greeted by hundreds of fabrics in an array of colors. In nearly every bit of wall space, we have quilts with dozens of fabrics.  Fat quarter bundles designed to shade from one color to another are in baskets and boxes. But what if you want to choose your own fabrics? It is easy to become overwhelmed when it comes to selecting colors and fabrics for a project. Many quilters don’t know where to start. It really isn’t that hard and can be a lot of fun once you get started.

On our website, we have three large fabric bundles, Emerald Isle, Indian Marketplace, and Shades of the Tropics, which are examples of my color theory. Each contains 39 fabrics divided into three color groups. While they look great on their own, they are more effective together. We recently decided to add another fat quarter collection, and I’ll use this to show you how easy color shading can be.

BundlesOur Moon Glow quilt has been popular for years and customers love the colors, so I decided to create a Moon Glow fat quarter bundle. I first chose a range of colors and made sure that I had several shades of those colors. There should be no gaps from one to the next, the more fabric the better.

Image 1Next, I added some deep darks, fabrics darker than the others to make my original colors pop.

IMG_5199-2I then added a couple of accent fabrics, both a little brighter than the other colors.

Image4It’s starting to look nice, isn’t it? Now I’m going to add neutrals. Neutrals cover a wide range but I think of them simply as grayed-down or muddied colors. Often quilters skip these because they say they don’t really like these colors. These neutrals, though, make the other fabrics shine. Can you see what a difference they make?

Image3Finally, I took my Portable Palette and went shopping through my stash just as you can do at home. (Of course, my stash happens to be the Studio!) Fill in anything that’s missing with a trip to your local quilt shop. Here’s how these colors work in Moon Glow and in our new fat quarter bundle.

Moonglow collageCheck out my video on our website for more details on color shading. I had so much fun putting together this fat quarter collection that I’m already planning another which will be available soon. Are you ready to give it a try?

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Cookies & Quilts: They’re More Alike Than You Think

I realized the other day that quilting is a lot like baking cookies. (I may have been a little hungry at the time.) To bake cookies, you have many ingredients that you gather together sometimes lining them all up before you even get started mixing.  Imagine the disaster if you used the exact same measurements of flour, butter, salt, baking soda, etc. What makes your cookies taste good is the amount of each of those ingredients you use.

When looking at a palette of colors such as the one shown here, you might think there is too much red, or maybe you don’t like so much purple. Keep in mind that you are seeing equal amounts of each of the colors.

night and day blog ill 1A quilt will look very different depending how much of each color is used. To illustrate this, I have used the Carnival fabric collection to update our popular quilts “Night and Day.” The blocks of the quilts are made with sets of fabric that are strip pieced. Once the strips are sewn, then identical triangles are cut.

Night and day ill 2When I first designed “Day” I wasn’t planning on making two quilts but I realized that the leftover triangles (B) could be used in another quilt. The only extra fabric needed would be the background. We changed our kits to include all the fabric needed to make two quilts, a “Night” and a “Day.”  I decided to use a light background for “Day” and a dark background for “Night.” “Day” has so much more orange showing and “Night” has more purple.

Night and Day Carnival1
Night (left) and Day (right)

The background can also affect how the colors look. This time I went one step further and swapped the backgrounds of Night and Day and created two new quilts called Dusk and Dawn.

Dusk and Dawn Carnival
Dusk (left) and Dawn (right)

Getting back to those cookies again, the ingredients you choose and the amounts you use is how you create a finished product which suits you. Whether you like your cookies chewy or cakelike or whether you like the colors orange or purple, it is all a matter of taste. But at the same time, don’t be afraid to tweak your recipe, experiment with different ingredients, combinations and amounts. You just might come up with something delicious.

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Join Me on These Exciting Trips

Costa Rica 1If you are looking for a get-a-way during the doldrums of winter, I have the perfect spot! Two years ago my husband and I celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary. We decided it would be great to have a family gathering in a beautiful tropical place and we chose Costa Rica. I made two scouting trips to Costa Rica to find the perfect place and I did! We rented a house in a private 125 acre resort and had a wonderful time. I will be returning to this same resort in February for another tour with Jim West of Craftours/Sew Many Places.

We will cruise to a nature preserve to snorkel with coral, a ship wreck, and lots of tropical sea life; then we’ll raft through the jungle. Shopping is always a must and we will visit a local community known for their well-made crafts. This trip would make the perfect Christmas present. There are still a few places remaining.

The view of the beach from the hotel balcony.
The view from the hotel balcony and the view of the beach from an overlook

WindowsI’m pleased that Jim West has asked me to be the guest quilter on a tour to Tuscany in April. Quilters are well acquainted with the beautiful floor tiles in the centuries old cathedrals and how they can inspire quilts such as my “Windows” quilt. We will visit ancient cathedrals and galleries housing the work of world-renowned artists in Florence and Siena, historic towns and quaint piazzas. Tuscany is also known for the rolling hills of the extraordinary countryside, its fabulous cuisine and its wonderful wines. I can’t wait to try them all! I’m looking forward to visiting these fabulous places and hoping some of you will join me. Maybe you’ll be inspired to make a quilt based on the designs we will see.

You can find more about these two trips on our website by clicking here.

Tuscany2

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My Visit to India

 

Wow! I’ve just arrived back from another whirlwind tour of India with Sew Many Places. Jim West certainly knows how to put together an exciting and educational adventure.

 

Diwali, Festival of Lights in Jaipur. A bicycle rickshaw ride through the old town was a perfect way to see all the lights.

 

We rode on bicycle rickshaws through Old Delhi and Jaipur, motor scooters, buses, camel carts and elephants. The dates of the trip were planned around the Festival of Diwali (known as the festival of lights) and the Pushkar camel fair.

 

Jim and our guide Govind in front of the Taj Mahal. Look at the pattern in the walkway.

 

I began quilting while living in India years ago and every time I go back I am inspired anew by the color and design that surrounds this incredible country.

 

Couldn’t help but do some color shading with the group as we were standing in front of Amber Palace in Jaipur.

 

Words cannot describe what all we did and saw, so I thought this blog should be more photos than words.

 

Delhi, India. Each section in the Qutab Minar, built in 1193 seems to follow the proportions of the Golden Ratio.

 

Meanwhile, I have three more exciting trips next year……..to Costa Rica, Tuscany and Bali. I would love to have you join me on another adventure.

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2014 Quest Quilt- Lotus

Cairo tentmakersLast February I was asked to give a lecture at the AQS show in Phoenix. The quilt show was amazing and it was my first opportunity to see the Tentmakers of Cairo. The two men from Egypt were demonstrating the appliqué technique that they use for decorating tents.  I loved both the boldness and intricacies of their designs and thought that maybe it was time that I got back to appliqué. Inspired by what I saw, I have recently been working on quilt designs that contain both piecing and appliqué.

About a month ago, I shared with you a photo of a quilt on my blog that I was designing and making for our annual shop hop, Quilters’ Quest. At that point, I had the star made and was working on the appliqué which would be in the background squares and triangles.  With all the flight time on my recent trip to Japan, I was able to finish the background and I recently added the borders.

Lotus

If you are in the Washington D.C. area Nov. 7-16 this year or are in the mood for a road trip, you might enjoy taking part in the Quest. We are working very hard gearing up for it, making special projects, assembling kits, and preparing demonstrations.

Each shop has designed and made a quilt using our color-coordinated 2 ½” strips.  When you visit a shop, you will receive a free pattern for that shop’s quilt. The colors are jewel tones and blend well together. Our Quest quilt, Lotus, shown here, is made up of the strips that each shop will be distributing. There are ten shops and if you make it to all ten shops you will be eligible for some fantastic prizes.

We still have a few places on our two buses and would love to have you join us.

QQ staff image

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The design process behind my fabric

People often ask me where I get my inspiration for fabric design. I am inspired by nature, architecture, antique fabric and wallpaper, and so much more. But a lot of my design inspiration comes from other art. There are design archive companies which cater to fabric and wallpaper designers. They have thousands of pieces of art that they, themselves, have collected to show to designers.

At the Starbucks in Kyoto
At the Starbucks in Kyoto

I have just recently returned from a whirlwind trip to Japan where I met with the artists who work with me on my fabric collections. I also went to the printing facility that prints my fabrics. I try to go periodically to personally touch base with the people who work with me and to also look through their design archives.

On my most recent trip, I looked at more than 10,000 pieces of art in two days. I was getting bleary eyed! When looking at each, it is important to look beyond what is actually there. I look for interesting textures, motifs, backgrounds. Sometimes, something with really high contrast or bold electric colors catches my eye even though I would never use it as is. I look for parts of the design that I can manipulate to turn into something else.

Jinny with art2For instance, Chelsea, my most recent fabric collection, was inspired by designs that I selected on a previous trip to Japan. Let me show you an example of how this design worked for me.

Original floral design
Background design only

The first thing that caught my eye was the beautiful flowers on this more than 60-year-old piece of art. The second was the design in the background. Notice that there is too much separation between the flowers and the background making it a bit difficult to use in quilting. I also didn’t like the white dots on parts of the design.

Studying the design, I decided to make two fabrics from the one piece of art with  one being a separate fabric of just the background.  For the other, I eliminated the white dots and brought the value of the colors closer together.

I do most of this work in Photoshop and then send what I have done to the design studio. They make any corrections that I cannot do on my computer and send it back to me. Once I have the designs complete, I do the colors on my computer and send it back to Japan so they can prepare the art for printing.  Here are photos of three of the final fabrics in the collection

fabrics and backgroundsMost exciting for me is to finally have the designs the way I like them. I then work with the digital images to create a quilt using that collection. I will talk more about designing fabric in upcoming blogs.

Chelsea both colorways
Chelsea quilt in blue and pink granite

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Fabric…It’s Not Just for Quilts

Jinny is quite busy with a top secret project this week (you’ll have to wait to hear what it is) so the staff is giving her a break and taking over the blog. Since there is no way we can impart quilting advice better than Jinny, we thought we’d show you something a little different—some alternate uses of Jinny’s fabulous fabric.

To be sure, nearly everyone who steps through the door of the Studio is here to buy something for their latest quilting project. Occasionally, a purchase is made for home decorating like curtains, napkins, tablecloths, and such. Large triangles from border prints make wonderful pillows. Why, we even have a border print running around the wall like a chair rail in our bathroom. One of the most fun “other” uses of Jinny’s fabric has to be when we see them in garments. Now we know you are thinking of those jackets we’ve all made which basically look like we’re wearing our quilts. While they are cute, what we’re talking about are garments which, at first glance, you would never think used quilting fabric.

Western shirtsLouanne G. from Taylor, Texas wrote to us a while back telling us how her husband loves Jinny’s border prints so Louanne uses them to make his Western shirts. Aussie quilter Esther A. used an Ambrosia fabric to make one of her fun Hawaiian-style shirts.

LorelaiSince fellow staffers spend many hours surrounded by fabric, they can come up with lots of unique ideas. Kristi has been making dresses for her granddaughter Lorelai since she was a baby. The dresses are precious but can’t outshine such a beautiful model.

Linda

When Linda’s grandson Andy was a baby, she made him this cute little jacket with Monochrome fabrics. Proving that her sewing skills were not just for the young, she made her very dapper dad (who’s in his 90’s), a shirt using the Pacific Rim line.

Dana
Fabrics used are from Corsica, Rajasthan, and Renaissance Garden collections

Some of the most amazing clothing, though, comes from our youngest staffer, Dana. Dana has a background in fashion design. A graduate from the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, she originally learned to sew by quilting with her grandmother. She does make quilts but her real passion is clothing.  She has found a unique way to mix and match some of Jinny’s different collections to showcase her unique style. She says, “Cotton can be a really fun fabric to work with.  Although it is not ideal for pieces that need to breathe like pants, it works great for skirts and children’s clothing. It is easy to sew and the range of color and print possibilities is endless.”

So next time you stop by the Studio or your local quilt shop, we hope you’ll look at the fabric in a different light.