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Studio Staff Projects, Part I

While Jinny catches up after teaching in Spain, we, the staff, are taking over her blog. This past weekend, we celebrated National Quilting Day, a day to “appreciate and to recognize quilt makers, along with all of their long labor, love and skill that goes into the making of each quilt.”

We also hope that you take the time to celebrate the camaraderie of quilters. For generations, quilters have come together to share more than stitching…but, oh, how we love our stitching. Here at the Studio, we share our projects, give praise, offer advice and learn from each other. Here, then, is a look at what we have under our needles.

Elaine purchased an incomplete quilt top on eBay a few years ago. She calls it “Scrapple” because so many of the pieces are SO tiny! Fabrics range from the 1890s to the 1930s. She completed the top using antique fabric from her stash. She didn’t like her first attempt at machine quilting so she removed all of it. It took her several hours! It was then re-basted and quilted using a home-made spiral stencil. Now, she says, “I love it!” That’s quite a lesson of sticking with something until you think it’s right.

 

Elaine scrapple

 

Close-up of Elaine's Scrapple
Close-up of Elaine’s Scrapple

 

Diane has been furiously stitching away on her La Passacaglia from Willyne Hammerstein’s Millefiori Quilts book. This amazing quilt contains only Jinny’s fabric. Diane and her quilt will appear on The Quilt Show later this year.

 

Diane Millefiore

 

Our newest staff member, Elizabeth, is almost all done with this one. The pattern is called Rock Candy by Jaybird Quilts. The fabric was from a scrap bag of Jinny’s batiks. It is hand pieced and quilted.

 

Elizabeth

 

Some of us like to have both machine and hand work projects going at the same time. Nancy made this this cute little table topper as a carry-around project. Does it look familiar? Check out Elizabeth’s project above. It’s hand pieced and made with Jinny’s Malam batiks and 60° diamond template. She’s about to machine quilt it while hand stitching the binding on a baby quilt.

 

Nancy Rock Candy

 

Nancy2

Many of you saw the staff tuffet class on our Facebook page. Lura just finished hers. Nice! She’s hand piecing these rose star blocks for a wall hanging for her sister using vintage Jinny borders. She also continues to make pie trivets/potholders which are great gifts. She’s discovered the perfect “crust” fabric is Jinny’s Palette #112.

 

Lura Tuffet

 

Lura-trivet_ph

We are sad to say that Marion will be leaving us this summer to return to the Netherlands. Before she goes she’d like to finish her toothbrush rug started in a Studio class last fall.

 

Marion, TBrug

 

Marion's Toothbrush Rug
Marion’s Toothbrush Rug

 

Kelley has three projects going. As a member of a pincushion club with a group of quilting friends from Virginia, Arizona, Texas, and California, she learns new skills on one small project each month. She is also taking part in the “Primitive Triangles Sew Along” with Lisa Bongean using Jinny’s Casablanca collection. The blocks finish at 4”. And then, of course, there’s her Farm Girl Vintage from Lori Holt which just needs the binding completed. Her quilt has 56 blocks that finish at 6”. She asks, “Can you tell I like small pieces?”

 

Kelley's Pincushion

 

Kelley Triangle Sew Along

 

Kelley's Farm Girl Vintage
Kelley’s Farm Girl Vintage

 

Well, when we started this it seemed like a nice little blog post but we soon became aware that we, as a group, have a lot of unfinished projects that we are currently trying to finish up. Can any of you identify with that? Check back next week for Studio Staff Projects, Part 2.

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Building Art One Piece at a Time

I just returned from a visit with my grandchildren and their parents. One of the things we did was to go to the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry to see their new exhibit “The Art of the Brick.”  We had to wait in line for more than an hour to get into the exhibit, but it was worth the wait.

 

Lego Six

 

Oh, what fun we did have!
Oh, what fun we did have!

 

 

This exhibit features the work of Nathan Sawaya, an Oregon artist who builds his amazing art with Legos! I have to say that I was just as in awe as the children were. We as quilters build our art with fabric and thread, one piece at a time and it was easy to see some of the parallels in the creation of the Lego art.

 

Polly hugging the Lego tree.
Polly joined the Lego people and hugged the tree.

 

 

Emmett and the glowing skulls made of Legos.
Emmett and the glowing skulls made of Legos.

 

 

Lego Seven

 

I took several photos with the children to put into perspective the size of some of the pieces.

 

Lego Three

 

Lego Nine

 

Lego Eight

 

If you ever get a chance to see an exhibit of Mr. Sawaya’s in person you should go. It is truly inspiring.

 

Lego Ten
Polly, Emmett and my son-in-law Rob
Opening your heart to art and loving what you do!
Opening your heart to art and loving what you do!

 

You can see examples of his art on his website: http://www.nathansawaya.com

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Borders – The Finishing Touch

My recent trip to Nepal this year and India last year was an eye-opening experience. I lived in that part of the world for nearly five years. At the time, I didn’t recognize the impact this region was having on me because I was not yet a quilter. Going back recently was like going home. I discovered how profoundly my time there has guided me throughout my quilting life.

Probably the most powerful influence was the borders you see everywhere, both simple and elaborate.

Simple can be seen as just a small edge to stop the pattern of a wall of bricks or a plain fabric in a different color to stop the eye around a shirt, sari, or pair of pants.

 

Bricks
Bricks with borders.

 

 

Nepali Dress
Nepali dress with simple but colorful borders.

 

 

Treadle Machine
Notice the band around the ankles of the pants as this woman treadles.

 

 

Nepali dresses and fabrics with borders.
Nepali dresses and fabrics with borders.

 

Elaborate borders abound as well whether it is one surrounding the window or doorway of a home or temple or borders around the outer edges of entire buildings.

 

Doors and Windows
Doors and windows, all with borders.

 

 

The Palace of the Winds in Jaipur, India.
The Palace of the Winds in Jaipur, India.

 

 

Red Fort
Red Fort in Agra

 

 

Red Fort Agra
Columns at Red Fort

 

 

Detail at Red Fort
Detail at Red Fort

 

Even the written language has a straight line across the top of the characters.

 

Written language
Written language even has borders.

 

No wonder when I began quilting I wanted to add borders to everything. There was just a need to stop the design and give it a proper frame……sometimes simple, sometimes elaborate. It is like framing a picture. It looks so much better when the frame sets it off.

So at least from me, you will get borders on my quilt designs, sometimes elaborate, sometimes simple, but whatever is needed to stop the design and showcase it.

 

Simple borders on Labyrinth.
Simple borders on Labyrinth.

 

 

A pieced border on Windows.
A pieced border on Windows.

 

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The Treasure Box

I visited my grandchildren a couple of months ago and Polly carefully showed me her Treasure Box containing all kinds of items that were going to go into the trash that she rescued for projects. There were empty tissue and paper towel rolls, an interesting button, empty spools, odd pieces of yarn, etc. She and her brother, Emmett, have amazingly creative minds and put together all kinds of creatures and art.

Dolls made from felted balls that I brought back from India.
Dolls made from felted balls that I brought back from India.

So in anticipation of Polly and Emmett’s visit this Thanksgiving, I started collecting items for a Treasure Box here. The box contained plastic tubes and pen holders, threads that accumulated at the shop from tearing fabric for fat quarters and kits, scissors, scotch tape, duct tape, lots of fabric scraps, felted wool balls, and so much more.

When they arrived and I told them about the box, they could hardly contain themselves and wanted to delve in right away. Of course, it had to be emptied where the activity was going on…….the kitchen table. So for a week we ate in the dining room and the kids had their on-going projects to work on in the hubbub of activity.

Projects

Recycled pen displays make great fairy houses.
Recycled pen displays make great fairy houses.

The first thing they went to was the fabric and they said they wanted to make Halloween costumes for next year. Emmett wants to be Darth Vader and Polly wants to be a peacock. I told them we would need larger pieces of fabric than what was in the box so we went to the shop. Emmett immediately found solid black fabric and Polly found a batik that she thought would make a perfect peacock skirt.

I decided it was time to introduce them to the sewing machine so that went on the kitchen table as well. They both caught on very quickly.

Creating 2
A natural born sewer
Love those batiks!
Love those batiks!

While I was showing Polly how to work the machine, unbeknownst to me, Emmett had cut a hole in the middle of the black fabric for his head, two holes for arms and found a decorative belt to go over his shoulder. He made a hat from a black file folder and my black microwave vegetable steamer and his dad helped him tape batting inside so it wouldn’t slide around his head.

Creating 3
Darth Vader

Among other sewing, Polly and I made holiday napkins for her mom and dad for Christmas along with her peacock skirt. Emmett made a quilt with squares, a hat and clothes for stuffed animals and dolls. What a wonderful feeling to share my love fabric and sewing with them!

Creating 4
Prepping the fabric for an upcoming weekly web special.

Of course, in the middle of all the activity, our washing machine died Wednesday night before Thanksgiving. We were able to get a new one Friday and the kids immediately latched on to the box it came in and spent the next several hours creating their “Time Machine”.

Five rolls of scotch tape and three rolls of duct tape later……

Where in time shall we go???
Where in time shall we go???

In the midst of all the projects, we also had cooking activities and fed and took care of the animals I borrow from a friend whenever the children come for a visit.

Cooking with Polly

Take care of animals

Hi!!!
Hi!!!

Needless to say I’m a bit worn out. But happily so!

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A Gift of Temari in Nepal

I am just back from an awesome trip to Nepal with Sew Many Places and, as this blog is published, I am heading off to Houston for Quilt Market (and still jet-lagged). Yes, it can at times be quite tiring but the best part of my job is the wonderful people I meet along the way. I don’t have time to write much today but I just wanted to tell you a quick story about one of the ladies on my Nepal trip. I promise that next week I’ll tell you more about Nepal and, also, Houston.

 

Temair ball

 

I met Barbara Suess several years ago. Barbara is an expert on Japanese Temari. Temari is an ancient Japanese folk craft which came from the desire to entertain children with an embroidered toy thread ball. I have had Barbara to the Studio to teach and have carried her books. The designs are beautiful!

 

Handful of Temaris

 

Well, Barbara was on the trip to Nepal and brought along a bag of Temari balls she and some of her students had made. Barbara was graciously giving these balls away. One day, we were at a cooperative where local woman worked on crafts for sale (more on this next week) and Barbara gave her one of the Temari balls. The woman put it in her hair and proudly wore it for the day.

 

Nepali Hair Accessory

 

Despite language and cultural differences, it was special to see these two women, who love to create things of beauty by hand, share this moment.

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Hello from Nepal!

I’m having a great time in Nepal on the tour with Sew Many Places. Several of the people on the tour have traveled with me previously and I’ve also made many new friends.

 

Boats

 

 

I arrived early to Nepal with two quilting friends to get in a little additional sightseeing, the highlight of which was time spent with the elephants. (My thanks to Sandi Goldman for many of these pictures.)

 

Jinny and Elephant

 

Elephants Bathing

 

Our tour group gathered in Kathmandu, Nepal’s capital city.

 

Nepal 5

 

Nepal 6

 

Nepal 7

The sadness for me is seeing the ever-present effect of last year’s earthquake with the total destruction of some structures and the shoring up of old historic landmarks.

 

Earthquake 2

 

Earthquake 1
Isn’t it amazing that this building is still standing?

But, of course, there are so many wonderful sights to see including the Nepali children who are always ready with a smile.

 

Nepali Children

 

And, since this is a quilters’ tour, there is always time for a lesson or two.

 

Class in session

 

I’m excited to announce my next trip with Sew Many Places. A year from now I will be traveling with them to Guatemala. I have never been to this country but have heard and read so many wonderful things about it.

Here is a link to information on the trip.

 

Color- 1
The colorful inspiration abounds in Guatemala

 

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Where Does She Come Up With These Great Ideas?

Jinny is off this week so the staff here at the Studio decided to take over her blog. The takeover was prompted by a discussion of this week’s web special. In the web special, we are offering a bundle of autumn colored fabrics inspired by a photograph of the spectacular colors of the maple tree at the Studio’s front door. How did we get from that photograph to the fabrics for this week’s special?

 

autumn bundle web special- for blog

 

Looking at the image, you will see in the lower left corner the colors taken from the photograph. Jinny explained in her blog in April 2014 how you can do this with any photograph using Photoshop software. From that, she chose eight fabrics ranging from warm golds, oranges and reds to a weathered dark brown. Compare the fabrics with the color palette from Photoshop. Don’t they look wonderful?

 

Autumn Bundle for blog

 

But where there are pretty shaded fabrics, there is always the question of where to use them.

Jinny next went into the Quilter’s Design Board on our website. The Design Board allows you to download hundreds of free quilt blocks, get fabric recommendations, yardage requirements and more. After looking through it, she chose two blocks to play around with. Here is what she started with to get to the two quilts above.

 

Design Board Blocks- Blog

 

Choose the size you want your blocks to be and you can see the templates for each patch and how many you will need along with a handy template guide for how to put your block together.

 

Template Guide

 

You can print the templates directly onto template film. Check out this tutorial on our website.

All that’s left is to pull out your fabric and get started. You can make the scrappy Bear’s Foot or the shaded Pine Tree. You just need a half yard bundle and two yards each of a background and border print. We can’t wait to see what you come up with.

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Tessellations

People have been fascinated with interlocking designs throughout the ages.  I became interested in this type of design in the 1990’s and diligently studied the work of Dutch artist M.C. Escher to try and figure out how he created his amazing tessellations. One day the light bulb went off and it all fell into place. It is so simple!

 

day lilies closeup (2)
Closeup of Day Lilies

 

Close up of Rhapsody
Close up of Rhapsody

 

The first question is “What is a tessellation?” A tessellation is any shape that can be repeated over and over to fill a surface without gaps or overlaps.

Squares, triangles, hexagons, and diamonds are all tessellations because they can fill a surface without gaps.

 

Shapes

 

Illustration 1 Adjusted

 

 

Those are easy to see, but the more intriguing tessellations contain more complex, interlocking shapes. There are a few rules to follow and these rules must be adhered to or the shape will not “tessellate”.

So the number one rule is that you must begin with a base shape that tessellates. Number two is that you must give it back to the side of the shape that is equal in length. It makes a difference which side you give it back to or whether you flip or rotate the shape. Here are a few designs with this simple square and several of the patterns that can be created by merely putting the cut piece back in different ways.

Lets look at the simplest of the tessellations, the square. It is easy to see how it can repeat over and over to fill a surface without gaps. But what happens if I take a chunk out of that square? It is no longer a tessellation.

 

tessellations illustrations 2

 

tessellations illustrations 3

 

 

So here is the “aha” moment.  The secret to creating tessellations is this: if you take away a piece of a shape, give the piece back to another side of the shape. You will once again have tessellation because the piece you give back will fit into the hole of an adjacent piece where it was taken away.

 

Adjusted illustration

 

illustrations 4b (1)

 

There are a variety of ways to give a shape back and a few rules that must be followed. You can rotate the piece or not depending upon the shape used. I wrote an entire book on this called Designing Tessellations. Unfortunately it is out of print, but it is still available as an “e-book.”

 

Tabs from website
Tessellating Tabbies is available as a kit and pattern on our website.

 

I am currently working on an online class that will be offered through my website sometime in the future. It will cover all the rules, shapes that can be used, how to turn the shape into a usable pattern for quilting and much more!

I’ll keep you posted as to when it will be available but for now, why not come to the Studio and take a class in person. I will be teaching Designing Tessellations August 11 & 12.

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And the winner is……

Back in the beginning of May we announced a contest inspired by a box of packets of 10-inch squares from last year’s Quilters’ Quest. We challenged you to design and make a quilt (or quilt top) using these fabrics. Photos had to be submitted by June 18th.

 

10 inch squares

 

What fun we had looking at your entries! Each member of the Studio staff, totally untrained in any kind of quilt judging, voted on his or her favorite.  The quilter who got the most votes wins a $100 Studio gift certificate.

About a dozen people managed to finish their projects and submit them in the short amount of time given. There was a wide range styles and entries came from around the world.

And the winner is…Sarah Kirtland from Williamsburg, Virginia.

 

Sarah's design

 

Sarah’s quilt, Here Comes the Sun, is based on the classic kaleidoscope block. She knew she wanted to do something with triangles after seeing my new Thousand Pyramids quilt. She spent four days simply drawing, working on the design. Sarah was at the Studio at the beginning of the month taking a class and picked up a few fabrics to supplement the 10-inch squares. Then the fiendish sewing began and didn’t stop until shortly before the deadline. She didn’t believe she had a chance to win but thought it would be a good exercise. I’m reminded of a saying by Mark Twain: “…you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.’

There were many other fabulous quilts. Here are just a few.

 

David S Design

 

David Schulz took inspiration from local Native Americans who had different names for different parts of the Potomac, calling the river above Great Falls, where the Studio is located, “Cohongarooton”, meaning “honking geese.” He included flying geese blocks along with a variation on a block design from my Quilter’s Album of Patchwork Patterns (Island Compass 380-11).  He also used the Golden Ratio throughout the piece. Even the number of flying geese is included in the Fibonacci sequence. The finished piece measures 29” x 18”.

 

Charlie's Design

 

This Phoenix quilt came from Charlie MacDonald and we enjoyed his description of the process, the trials and tribulations. He loved the palette from the Quilters Quest. It reminded him of sunset/sunrise “and somehow the colors got him thinking of a Phoenix rising in flame from the ashes.” He used his Apliquick tools for the appliqué. Charlie said he learned a lot from making this and already has ideas for Phoenix 2.0.

 

Tom's Design

 

Tom Dengler took an interesting approach. He writes: “I was inspired to find a way to challenge myself to use both sides of the fabric based on some ideas I had first seen used in watercolor quilts. The white gives the illusion of piercing the fabric by piecing the fabric backside. I learned that hand stitching the corner first gives a much neater appearance.” It is called Dos Rayos de Luz.

One thing that I particularly loved seeing was how many truly challenged themselves to try something new and, it seems, are very glad they did so. Here are more of the wonderful projects we received pictures of. We have no stories to go with them but I want to thank each and every one of you for participating and congratulations to all for your beautiful work.

 

Designed by Diane McGuire
Designed by Diana McGuire

 

 

Design by Barbara Bell Hanger
Design by Barbara Bell Hanger

 

 

Design by Michaela Burgnon
Design by Michaela Burgnon

 

 

Design by Bernerdett King
Design by Bernerdett King

 

 

Design by Margo Karczewski
Design by Margo Karczewski

 

 

Design by Jeanette Bayliss
Design by Jeanette Bayliss

 

 

Design by Susan Meinholtz
Design by Susan Meinholtz

 

 

Design by Dana Brewer
Design by Dana Brewer
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Patriotic Quilts

The new McCall’s magazine, The Best of McCall’s Quilting – 22 of Our Most Popular Patterns, features a quilt I designed for them several years ago, Lone Star Salute.

lone star
Lone Star Salute

Upon seeing it again and with the election in the forefront and the Fourth of July approaching, I began thinking about commemorative quilts. We have certainly seen many patriotic-themed quilts over the years and, I must admit, I have done my share to add to the pool of these types of quilts. Some of them are personal quilts and others are ones that I designed for patterns.

Dolly Madison Star
Dolly Madison Star

In 1976 when I had been quilting for only four years, a friend asked me if I was going to make a quilt commemorating the bicentennial. I hadn’t thought about it but decided that was a good idea. While I think the overall design and balance leaves a lot to be desired, I learned a tremendous amount during the process of making it. First of all, I wanted the blocks in the quilt to have been named for some event in our country’s history. I have blocks such as Dolly Madison’s Star, 54-40 or Fight, Mrs. Cleveland’s Choice. I even Patchwork Patternscreated my own block of the bicentennial logo.

All of those blocks were to be a 10-inch finished size.  Since I knew it would be impossible to find all the patterns in a 10-inch size, I had to figure out how to draft all of those designs. Intrigued by the drafting process, I began teaching pattern drafting to my students and that lead to my first book, Patchwork Patterns, published in 1979.

Drafting the 50 five-pointed stars to fit into a larger five-pointed star was a challenge but I eventually figured out how to do it. Another challenge was fitting exactly 200 triangles into the border that surrounds the central motif.

bicentennial quiltMy quilt Windows was another commemorative quilt with a red white and blue theme that I made following the terrorists attacks on September 11, 2001. I wanted at least one piece in the quilt for each of the victims of the attacks. In the end, the quilt has 4,777 pieces.Windows largeThe patriotic quilts I have designed which have patterns available include Lone Star Salute, shown above, September Sun, another that was designed shortly after the terrorists’ attack, and Fourth of July Star. Smaller projects include my new Wings wall quilt and our row for this year’s Row By Row shop hop, Eagle’s Pride.

September Sun
September Sun
Fourth of July Star
Fourth of July Star
wings quilt sm
Wings
row 2016 photo
Eagle’s Pride, 2016 Row by Row, available in shop only

Why don’t you give a try at creating a patriotic-themed quilt.