This is one of my favorite times of the year. The Virginia bluebells are in full bloom along the Potomac River in Great Falls National Park. Our native redbuds are announcing spring with their brilliant violet flowers, the onions, potatoes and early vegetables are planted in my garden and we are already enjoying the early spring greens and winter onions in salads.
That is not to say we don’t get surprises. Last week, I was teaching my Diamonds class at my shop. We had just begun the class when all of a sudden our shop phone rang, I received one of those alerts on my cell phone and I received an urgent text message from my son-in-law in Oregon (who works on mapping at the U. S. Geological Survey)…all of these simultaneous alerts (including alerts on phones of the students) were telling us that there was a tornado warning for Great Falls and we were to seek immediate shelter.
Now we were all on the second floor of our building and could see the suddenly ominous black sky. We all hastily retreated to the basement of our building which houses the utilities. Space was crowded and we got to know each other up close and personal. It was amazing how, not only calm, but jovial the students and staff were in this cramped and dusty place.
Within 15 minutes the danger was over and we resumed the class. The two Canadian ladies, two from West Virginia, and one from California who had traveled here for the class along with the locals were quite excited to let all their friends know about our little adventure. We did learn that several small tornados did touch down not too far from us.
Working with diamonds is one of my favorite classes to teach and they all made great progress. It is a wonderful opportunity to work on both design and color. Here are some photos of them hard at work and some of the results.
One of our most popular quilt kits is the Optical Illusions design by Erin Underwood. This quilt is created by sewing strips of colors and background together and then cutting them out with a wedge ruler. The leftovers from one set of wedges creates the second alternating wedges. So, it is super simple to sew.
When you step back from the quilt design, you not only see the checkerboard, but also swirling petals. The effect is achieved with only six colored fabrics.
I decided to do a new colorway of this quilt in the ever-popular teals, purples and blues. When I finished, I wondered what had gone wrong. I had my six colors. They shaded nicely together, but I was not getting the “petal effect.”
I studied the two designs and realized that the brightest and lightest colors needed to be at the center of the strips. I had done that with the original quilt but not with the new one. So, I went back to the drawing board and re-shaded the fabrics and created a second version of the design. This time I could see the petals.
You can see here the two sets of wedges. In each set the fabrics are arranged exactly the same. The second wedge in the set is simply turned upside down. It is amazing how different the quilt can look by just changing the order of the fabrics.
Look how different the design looks with a light background instead of a dark. Are the petals more visible on the light background or the dark? Some eyes see it one way and some the other. This is where the “optical” effect plays tricks.
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?
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?
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.
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.
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.
From the time I first began quilting I experimented with ways to “fussy cut” fabrics to give interest to the blocks I was making. Unbeknownst to me during that same time, an Englishwoman named Lucy Boston (1892-1990) was doing her own experimenting with fabrics and she created many spectacular quilts, probably the most famous being her Patchwork of the Crosses.
With the renewed interest in hand piecing and working with mirror-imaged fabrics, Lucy’s Patchwork of the Crosses block has become very popular. The block is made with with a single shape–the honeycomb (elongated hexagon). The blocks are then joined with squares.
Some people stitch the blocks in the traditional manner and some use the English paper piecing technique. No matter which technique you use, the most fun part is seeing how many different ways you can cut the fabric to create different effects.
I experimented with the Patchwork of the Crosses block using just two border print fabrics. Typically a mirror-imaged motif is centered in the middle of the template, such as you see here.
But what happens if you deliberately “skew” the template so that the mirror-imaged motif is not centered?
Mark a portion of the design onto the template and then flip it and find the mirror-imaged counterpart.
That technique was used in the corners of the two blocks shown above.
As we began playing around with Lucy Boston blocks and hexagons, or “hexies,” last year, we began to carry acrylic and paper templates for these projects making the process faster and easier. We also have some tips on our website for fussy cutting border prints for these projects. We’ve been having so much fun with these. Why don’t you give it a try?
I just couldn’t resist the Zipster pouches that are in our web special this week. In case you didn’t notice, they shade from top to bottom. And as you may have heard, I have this thing for shading. As soon as I saw them I just had to make some shaded bundles to go with them.
People have asked what the secret is for shading colors. It is not difficult. You can shade light to dark within a color and then link it to another color through very dark or black. You can shade through medium values into another color, or you can shade lighter and go through lights.
When I go on a tour with people I can’t help myself sometimes when we do a group photo. People are never asked to wear anything special, but for the photo I like to shade everyone together according to what they have on that day.
This is a photo that was taken in front of Amber Palace in India on a trip with Sew Many Places. It is a perfect example of my shading addiction. Notice the five women in the lower right. Within just those five, the colors go from light to dark and from bright orange to deep burgundy. The woman in the center is what I call the “transition” color because her shirt is a mixture of slightly orange and slightly pink…sort of watermelon.
The man in the second row down with the turban is the transition between the gold and the coral shirts. The four of us in the lower left probably should have been reversed so that the lime green shirt was next to the greenish gold shirt. But how much rearranging could I expect my fellow travelers to put up with?
Fortunately, this shading addiction led to my creating the 150 shaded fabrics in my Palette Collection along with the Portable Palette.
I will be taking another trip with Sew Many Places this October to Nepal. There are still a few spaces left. It is a colorful country and I’m looking forward to going once again. It’s not too late for you to sign up and join me for this fabulous tour.
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.
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 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 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”.
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 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.
Sometimes around the Studio in an effort to straighten up, items are put in a “safe” place and temporarily forgotten. Such was the case with a large box of 10-inch square fabric packets prepared for last year’s Quilters’ Quest. You can imagine our dismay when we found them. We certainly could have used them at the time. But now, the question became what to do with them. The idea we came up with is a fun opportunity for you and the chance to win a great prize.
These packets feature six fabrics from my Carnival collection relating to our 2015 Quest theme, Sunset Over the Potomac. They were just part of the color palette the “questers” could collect as they traveled to all 10 Quest shops. Here is the entire palette.
If you purchase one of these packets or still have one from last year’s Quest, here’s what we’d like you to do. Design and make a quilt (or quilt top) using these fabrics. We must be able to recognize at least a piece of all six fabrics in your quilt. You may add whatever other fabrics you’d like. Take a picture of your project and post it on our Facebook page by June 18th.
Each member of the Studio staff, totally untrained in any kind of quilt judging, will vote on her favorite. The quilter who gets the most votes wins a $100 Studio gift certificate.
The 10-inch square fabric packets are available on our website here. Because supplies are limited and we want to give as many of you as possible a chance to participate, we can only allow one fabric pack per order. Domestic postage on only the fabric packet is less than $2.50. The $100 gift certificate can be applied to any Jinny Beyer products (fabric, books, notions), classes or shipping.
This idea was inspired by one of our favorite customers. You’ve often seen Margo on our Facebook page with the many wonderful quilts she makes. A couple of months ago, she came in with this quilt which started with those same 10-inch squares. So let the Marvelous Margo inspire you and get to designing.
We’ve just returned home after spending a week with our daughter, her husband and our two grandchildren who are now seven and four. The grandchildren love to work on art projects of various sorts and are quite imaginative. Usually when I visit, I have a sewing project that I am working on and they always ask if they can have some pieces to sew too. A couple of diamonds sewn together becomes a butterfly, a few squares become a blanket for a stuffed animal, etc.
I often take them a small gift of various art supplies, scraps of fabric, and other fun craft items. This time, I decided to take half yard pieces of some of my Safari fabrics that they could turn into whatever they liked. I thought they would enjoy the animals on these fabrics and the bright colors.
Well, they LOVED the fabrics but, right off the bat, my grandson said “Will you make me a skateboard shirt?” My granddaughter pounced on that idea and said “Will you make me a skateboard dress?”
My heart fell a little because my daughter doesn’t have a sewing machine, I had no patterns and I thought there wouldn’t be enough of any one fabric to make these garments. I told them I wasn’t sure the pieces would be big enough. They said that that was okay because I’m always sewing different fabrics together and they wanted “patchwork” clothes. They immediately picked out the fabrics that they wanted in their new clothes.
So I set aside the amounts of fabric I thought I would need, drew some sketches to show them, and measured. They told me exactly where they wanted each of the fabrics and, while I cut and sewed pieces together for their garments, they cut pieces and created a myriad of projects for their stuffed animals, dolls and their dog. My grandson even created a new garment for me, taking pieces of the fabric and taping them together to form a shirt.
I have to admit my thoughts journeyed back to seventh grade where all the girls in the sewing class made gathered skirts with a waistband all by hand. By that time in my life I had been making clothes for several years on my mother’s treadle sewing machine, and longed for the sewing machine for those long seams. While I love hand piecing my quilts, for garments a sewing machine definitely comes in handy.
At any rate, the children had a ball. I loved watching them with their creative little minds and I wondered when they would be old enough to have their own sewing machine. Hmmm…grandma has a gift in mind.
Often my blogs come about by a customer who asks an interesting question. Sometimes the ideas come from my staff as this one does today.
The bonus for this week’s “Weekly Web Special,” (available only to subscribers*) mentions how difficult it might be to pick your favorite fabric from fat quarter bundles we are offering. From this, one simple question captured our attention and had us all wondering. What is your favorite Jinny Beyer fabric?
Now, you would think think this would be easy to answer but many found it quite difficult. Here’s what several of them had to say.
Betty, who posed the question, fondly remembered many past collections but stated Outback, several years old, was her favorite. She decided her single favorite, though, was a border print in teal and purple from the original Border Basics collection.My son, Sean, who manages our fabric inventory (which makes him well acquainted with each and every fabric) was in agreement with Outback being a favorite collection and this fabric, with its aboriginal designs, as his favorite.
Diane immediately popped up with an answer—Palette #119, chocolate leaf. It is a wonderful, rich brown and makes a great alternative to black as a background fabric as you can see in her Solstice quilt. Diane then tried to add another dozen favorites and wasn’t happy that we tried to limit her to just one.
Palette fabrics are pretty popular with the staff. Rebecca also chose a Palette fabric–#126—not only for the beautiful teal color but also for the design. She’s also fond of the 10 other colorways floral outline comes in.That design seems to be a favorite. Lura said, “I keep going back to this beautiful red, Palette #30. It is so vibrant!”
Another fan of the floral outline is Nancy, choosing #58. “Solid white is just too boring for me. This fabric has much more depth and is my current favorite background fabric.”Linda wanted in on the fun even though she was in California at the time. Although she has a stockpile of older fabrics she loves, she says, “Black eyelash (#48) is probably my all-time favorite because it just works with everything!”The blue/green/purple of Bedfordshire received votes from both Judy and Julia. Neither could imagine I was asking them to pick just one or two. Judy loves the “elegant feel” of these fabrics.
For Julia, “the Bedfordshire collection really spoke to me when I was challenged in my guild to create a chevron quilt. I used all the fabrics, with the light blue being the predominant fabric. The border prints were fussy cut. I guess you could call the light blue my favorite.”Dana is a quilter with a degree in fashion design so she often uses quilting fabric for clothing. While she loves Rajasthan Spray— “the colors are spectacular and each of these works well as a backing, a middle border or as a blender with a novelty fabric”—she has always loved the floral print from Rajasthan. “It works great for garments. I have used the yellow in a dress and the blue in a skirt.”
Sharon is a big fan of black and white quilts. She made this signature quilt for her son’s wedding and added the Monochrome border print. She loves this fabric because it always gives her quilts a nice finishing touch.I am often asked what my favorites are and my usual response is my latest collection. That would be Safari with my favorite from there being the teal elephants. They make me smile. If I had to pick an old favorite or two, I’d probably have to say cream thunder and black eyelash because they are so useful. Cream thunder is long gone but, now that I think about it, I might just have to bring that back again.
If you would like to subscribe to our Weekly Web Special emails and be eligible for the Subscriber Bonus, please go to www.jinnybeyer.com and follow the instructions under “Newsletter Signup.”
Do you have an old favorite that you would like Jinny to bring back? Send your comments to email@example.com.
There has been a lot of talk and hype about the “2016 Pantone Colors of the Year”. Have you ever wondered why when you go to the mall in a new “season” that all the colors seem the same, that accessories coordinate and seem similar, etc? Well, there truly is a system in place to get people to use and buy certain colors each year.
When I first began designing fabrics in 1981, I was handed a board with some colors on it and I was told that those were the “in” colors for the coming year and I should design my fabrics using those colors.
My answer was that by the time the fabric was printed they would be on to a new set of colors. Even if the fabric came out in time, by the time a quilt was made with the fabrics, those colors would be out of style. I put the colors aside and just did my own thing and still do.
But let’s get back to the “2016 Pantone Colors of the Year” that have many people ready to upchuck. Here they are.
First and foremost, I want everyone to know that when I recolored my Carnival border print for my new border basic group almost a year ago, I was totally unaware of what the colors of this new year would be…but here it is.
It kind of looks like I was following the “Color God” rules, doesn’t it? Even more so when I created this quilt, High Tea, for the collection to show how effective the use of a border print can be in a simple design with a border print setting block.
But never mind. There is a more important point to make. I have taught my color class hundreds of times and in that class I always tell the students that it is my belief that you can put any colors together. It is not the colors you select but what you put with them that makes them look good. It is for this very reason that back in 1990 I developed my Palette Fabric Collection. It contains 150 colors that span the spectrum and they were designed in subtle prints to coordinate with other prints, borders, multi-color prints, etc.
My basic color theory is that whatever colors you select, you have to add whatever colors you need to get those to shade together. It’s like looking at a rainbow where you never know where one color ends and the next one begins–a smooth gradual shading. You can shade through darks, through lights or through medium tones.
So looking at the Pantone colors again, what happens if I add other colors to get those to shade together? The two colors in my Palette that come closest to the Pantone colors are #40 and #133.
There are many ways two colors can be shaded together. Here are three variations. There are many others.
So next time you see two colors that you just don’t like together, think again. Bring in other colors that will allow the shading to occur and you might surprise yourself!