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Finished at last….and finally ready for Quest!

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 2015

I 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.

Ox Cart in Costa Rica
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 chart

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

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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.

blog ox cart 2
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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Celebrate Creativity!

Studio tour2

The Great Falls Studio Tour is an annual event which showcases not only the work of our local artists but allows you to meet them where they do their work. Travel back roads and main streets to individual and group studios. This is a unique opportunity to meet more than 40 GFS member artists – quilters, painters, potters, sculptors, jewelers, photographers and more. At each stop you can expect demonstrations, exhibits and hands-on activities. You’ll also be able to chat with some of the regions’ top talents.

Studio Tour3
Jewelry design by Donna Barnako & pottery by Laura Nichols

This year’s tour takes place Friday, October 16, 12 – 5, Saturday, October 17, 10 – 5, and on Sunday, October 18, 12 – 5.

I’ll be at the Studio to explain the process of batik making and demonstrate techniques I have used in my recent work. There are also many of my quilt designs on display in the Studio.

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So how does the Studio Tour work?

The Great Falls Library at 930 Georgetown Pike is a good place to start. There will be artists there to help you map your route and samplings of work from participating artists. Take the tour at your own pace, picking and choosing what you most want to see.

Studio Tour4
Mixed media work by Ronni Jolles and a painting by Betty Ganley

And best of all – the event is FREE! More details and a driving map are available at www.GreatFallsStudios.com.

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Show & Tell

On the second Saturday of each month the Jinny Beyer club meets at the shop. We have show and tell, help with quilts people are working on, talk of new events and happenings at the shop and usually have an ongoing project throughout the year. The last few meetings I have been showing the progress and asking their opinion on our shop hop quilt. It is a learning experience for all.

I shared part of the design process in an earlier blog, “Design Dilemmas.”  The shading of the fabrics, what to use as a background, none of it ended up being what I had originally planned but I’m very happy with the changes I made.

photo for blogThe star is now complete. There is black in the center in the large hexagon and the quilt will be squared off with black as well. I plan to put applique in the center and the corners, using fabrics that will compliment the colors in the quilt.

IMG_5498I will be going on vacation with my husband for a week and plan to finish the applique during that time. Hopefully in a couple of weeks I will be able to share the completed top.

Don’t forget that the Quilters’ Quest shop hop is just around the corner.  You’ll find details at www.quiltersquest.org.

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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.

Blog photo1
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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Batik Designs…..Where Do They Come From?

BatiksMy third collection of batiks (Malam III) is now being shipped to shops and I am already working on the next collection which will be available in about a year.

People often ask where I get the designs for the batiks. I feel lucky in that I have a vast archive of patterns I have created since 1981 when I first began designing fabric. Many of those designs can be adapted to batik prints and you would have a hard time realizing that the batik version began with the same concept as the other.

Here is the chop making working from a design and building a frame for the copper strips.
Here is the chop maker working from a design and building a frame for the copper strips.

Creating batiks is a completely different process than screen printing which is mostly what is used today. Where some of the screen printed fabrics have repeats up to 24 inches, the batiks can only have a repeat of about 8 inches. There is a very good reason for this. The “cap” (pronounced “chop” and Americanized as “chop”) is an approximately 8 to 10 inch metal square with the design embedded into it with thin copper sheets.

One of the prints from the Alsace collection by Jinny Beyer for RJR fabrics. ca. late 1980's. I do a sketch of the design and send it to the chop designer to refine for making the design in copper.
One of the prints from the Alsace collection by Jinny Beyer for RJR fabrics. ca. late 1980’s. I do a sketch of the design and send it to the chop designer to refine for making the design in copper.
The design came back and I felt it was too crowded and that the lines would run together. I asked them to simplify it. In the second drawing, it was less lines, but I didn't like the gaps between motifs and asked the the close those gaps. The second revision worked.
The design came back and I felt it was too crowded and that the lines would run together. I asked them to simplify it. In the second drawing, it was less lines, but I didn’t like the gaps between motifs and asked the the close those gaps. The second revision worked.
The final chop in copper and one of the colorations of the batik ovals design.
The final chop in copper and one of the colorations of the batik ovals design.
Oval batik print in various colors from Malam II.
Batik ovals in various colors from the Malam II collection.

Depending upon the intricacies of the design, this can be quite heavy. In the printing process, the chop is dipped into hot wax and then stamped upon the fabric…..all done by hand. The wax preserves the color that is underneath.

Stamping the design onto the cloth after dipping the chop into the hot wax.
Stamping the design onto the cloth after dipping the chop into the hot wax.

If the design is too large, the chop would become too heavy making it difficult for the person doing the stamping.

When selecting designs to use as a batik pattern I look through designs I have previously done and select ones or parts of ones that would create a nice line design, have a small repeat and create an interesting affect. Here are some photos of the original designs and the batik counterparts.

The original design that paisley came from (Corsica collection). There was a faint paisley motif in the background.  And the line drawing used for the batik chop.
The original design that paisley came from (Corsica collection). There was a faint paisley motif in the background. Right is the line drawing used for the batik chop.
Some images of the paisley in batiks.
Some images of the paisley in batiks.

If you are interested in more information about the batik printing process visit my blog about my trip to Indonesia in 2013 to see my batiks being made.

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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
IMG_1056
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)
IMG_1071
The shipping department
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Folding fat quarters for bundles
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Packaging kits and bundles
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The Row by Row Experience 2015

The Row by Row Experience has begun!  If you are not familiar with the Row by Row Experience, it is similar to a shop hop, but a bit different– no fees, no cards to stamp, and you have all summer to participate. Simply visit any of the participating shops throughout the USA and Canada and receive a free pattern for a row in a quilt. Combine your rows in any way to create a unique quilt that represents the fun you had traveling throughout the summer. This year’s theme is…..water.  Each shop has created a row based on this theme.

Row by row image- blog copyThe Studio’s row is based on the nearby Great Falls National Park. At Great Falls, the Potomac River builds up speed and force as it falls over a series of steep, jagged rocks and flows through the narrow Mather Gorge creating its spectacular falls. The row represents that series of rocks and rushing white water. It may look complex but it is actually very easy to piece with simple paper piecing techniques.

great falls 2Create a quilt using at least eight different rows from eight different participating shops and be the first to bring it into one of those participating shops to win a stack of 25 fat quarters. If you are the first to bring a quilt into the Studio, those 25 fat quarters will be your choice from our entire stock of fat quarters. And if you use the Studio’s row in your quilt, you will win a bonus prize—Golden Gage Calipers!

Row by Row with calipers2

Why calipers? There is an interesting reason why we chose them.  After our sample row was entirely put together, I made a discovery. Unknowingly and without trying, my design conforms to the Golden Ratio. The Golden Ratio, which occurs in nature, ancient and historic design, is said to be the perfect proportion. It is the ratio of 1 to 1.618 or .618 to one. When I put the calipers on our row, I saw that each triangle increases in size according to the Golden Ratio.

To learn more about the Golden Proportion, check out this blog post.

Claire M. from Florida made sure she got her Great Falls row kit.
Claire M. from Florida made sure she got her Great Falls row kit.

Besides the free row pattern, we have some special products.  Row kits with all the fabric needed to complete our row and fabric bundles in the gorgeous fabrics of our row will be available. Not only do we have fabric license plates with our slogan, “Perfect Piecer,” but we also have collectable pins. Watch for more products based on our Great Falls row.

Row by Row runs through Tuesday, September 8th. Stop in when you are in the Washington, D.C. area or take a road trip with friends to discover new quilt shops and old favorites and have fun collecting your rows.

Diane from Utah along with Harolyn and Doreen from Virginia showing off their Row by Row purchases. (Yes, her name really starts with an H.)
Diane from Utah along with Harolyn and Doreen from Virginia showing
off their Row by Row purchases. (Yes, her name really starts with an H.)

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How Stained Glass Star Was Created

SGS Composite copyMy Stained Glass Star quilt has served as the logo for the Studio for many years and continues to be one of our best-selling kits. It did not start out, though, to be an actual quilt. It came about in a rather interesting way.

In 1990, my son, Darren, had a business setting up websites.  He said that I needed a website and asked for two things: a credit card and a logo.  Well, it was (somewhat) easy to hand over a credit card but I didn’t have a logo. He told me that I did so many “neat shaded things” that I should do something like that to use as a logo on the website. So Stained Glass Star was created.

Our shop sample pieced by Diane Kirkhart and quilted by Su Gardner.
Our shop sample pieced by Diane Kirkhart and quilted by Su Gardner.

It was all digital at the time using scanned images of the fabrics.  Once the website was launched, hundreds of people were requesting a kit of the design. Of course, one did not exist so then I had to create one…quickly.  The kit has been going strong ever since the website went live way back when.

Recently, in honor of the 25th anniversary of my Palette collection, I have been updating the Studio’s Palette quilts. The first is my Stained Glass Star.  What do you think?

SGS Quilting copy
The intricate quilting as seen on the front and back of the quilt.

 

 

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Tips for Success with Mirror-Image Fabrics

Mirror image blogMy border prints and many of my paisleys can create wonderful effects when fussy-cutting their mirror-imaged designs.  We’ve gotten a few questions lately from quilters who have had trouble matching those mirror-images whether in patches for blocks or in borders. In today’s blog, I’d like to give you a little advice to make the process easier. If border print fabrics are new to you, click here for a video of how my border print fabrics are designed.

First, press your fabric before you begin to cut. Remove any creases and distortion.

It is always best to use templates when working with mirrored fabrics. Mark a line directly on the template to indicate where the mirror motif should be. Use care when cutting.  That seems a bit obvious, but taking the time to make accurate cuts pays off in the end.  Make sure that the mirror line is centered on the mirror-imaged motif you have chosen. You can also use the straight line on the border print itself as a guide. We have wonderful resources on our website for various effects you can achieve with border prints and much more.

Carnival uses fussy cut patches to create a unique design.
Carnival uses fussy cut patches to create a unique design.

Now, let’s do one more thing before sewing.  Despite your best efforts, the design may not be exactly the same on the cut edges. Don’t worry! Take the first two pieces to be sewn and, with right sides together, line up the fabric design. The cut edges may not be even with each other, but it will work out as all the pieces will slightly off by the same amount. To line up the designs, find an edge or point on the fabric design near the seam line and put a pin through this spot first on the top fabric, then through the exact same point on the bottom. Repeat as often as you like. Working with bias cut edges will give you any stretch you need to match these points but use care to not distort the fabric.

Sophia quilt
Intricate medallions are created in the Sophia quilt using a border print.

For many machine sewers, especially when sewing long seams, basting the seam first is a way to insure accuracy.  Increase your stitch length and take large stitches the length of the seam. You can then take a peek to make sure each of the motifs mirror perfectly. Then you can go ahead and sew with your normal stitch length.

block 6 col
A block from the 2013 BOM, Solstice
block 6
Same block as above but with a light background and the Ashford border.

I’ve added a new page to the “Tips and Lessons” section of my website on the process of fussy cutting patches using my Carnival quilt as an example.  Once you start playing with mirror-image border prints and paisleys, you’ll be amazed at the fantastic designs you can create.  I hope you give it a try.