A call for entries to the local Modern quilt guilds went out earlier this summer. It seems an Ohio Amish Quilt Exhibition is coming to the SJ Quilt & Textile Museum in November and the idea for a juried Modern show, Amish: The Modern Muse, is planned.
Hmm, where to start? Perhaps a loose definition of the typical characteristics of an Amish quilt might help. Besides being made by someone who is Amish/Menonite, these quilts tend to have a strong geometric design in either muted (browns, greys, olive, rust) or single color, often black, with vivid color combinations.
Interestingly enough, Modern quilt makers have similar tendencies toward solid color, large negative space, graphic design, and larger scale blocks. There are many similarities between modern art and modern quilt making that I should explore.
In 2010, I’d been to an Amish quilt exhibition at the DeYoung where I purchased a book of these stunning quilts, Amish Abstractions. I started looking for a traditional block pattern to scale larger. I wasn’t interested in Center Diamond or Tumbling Block or Nine Patch. Another idea was to utilize several pair of wool pants. I’d wanted to make a quilt for the guest room that would be warm and it also seemed like a very practical, Amish thing to do.
The design had not really come into focus until I found a couple Amish quilts in the brick road style made out of wool suiting edged with blue or bright red. I decided to scale the bricks up from 2-1/2” x 5” to whatever the pant leg width was, which turned out to be 5” x 10” in most cases. I had just four pair of pants in slate blue, moss green, charcoal grey and earth brown; the colors somehow had meaning to me: sky, moss, rock, soil. As I built the 10” block design, I started playing with the direction and color combos. I realized that time was of the essence and although I’d like a bed quilt, this quilt would only be 5 x 5 blocks and settled on an off-center cross as my design.
As is my style, I spent more time designing than creating. From cutting the pants to sewing on the label took just two weeks. It may be interesting to note that I spend almost as much time un-quilting as I do quilting. I have a tendency to want the back to look just as nice as the front and although my quilting isn’t as perfect, I endeavor for a consistent stitch. I also started using painter’s tape for the straight lines as my usual indentation lines don’t hold in the wool. It is my belief that a quilt consists of two sides and either could be the front.Here is the bottom left corner as I finished the binding. Truly, photos do this quilt no justice.
Oftentimes, I admire those amazing sampler quilts filled with precise paper piecing techniques or applique work, but am not sure how I’d ever manage to make anything so elaborate. All that fussy piecing! Not that I don’t do that already. Heh. That changed when members of my Modern Quilt Guild started a small group working on Tula Pink’s City Sampler 100 Modern Quilt Blocks. These designs seemed fairly straightforward, so I jumped in this Spring. Even before I had the book, my friend texted me a couple blocks, so I could make them for the first meeting. During the year, I changed my color scheme and have restarted my Tula blocks. What fun!
Time to recharge with my creative colleagues for a Quilty Retreat!
Even thought I had plenty of projects with me, my friend E, was making these French seamed pillowcases and I couldn’t resist making my own set out of this yummy Michele Hill fabric I found last month. Her designs keep ‘the genius of William Morris’ alive.
These were supposed to be the same, however I was 2” shy to do both bands in one color, so I found a fun tutorial and added Prairie Points to the band. Now they are just adorable!
Still not motivated to work on ‘Orchid Wheels or Blocks or Chickens,’ I happened to hear from N, that the upcoming BAMQG challenge was to create something using a ‘what was I thinking’/ugly fabric. Hmm… looking in my new box of hand-me-down re-stash fabric, I found an Alexander Henry fabric called ‘fossil fish’ that seemed to fit the bill. Sorry, I cut it up before photos, but here is another colorway for reference:
Hmm… what to do? When in doubt, go with what you know: magic 8 HST! The consensus is that most of the fish looked strangely puffy, sleep-deprived or beat up, however the ‘bashful angelfish’ seemed salvageable. First, I dug out my ‘center focus’ measurements from previous Carpenter Wheels and cut him out for the center block. Then I chose a nice pink batik and sew together some easy triangles. Here’s my first layout:
It’s all right, but the purple border is too dark and I decide to just make a Wheel after all. Unfortunately, I only have a few strips of that fishy fabric left. What other fabric can I find in my scrap box? Hmm. Adding the hot pink squares and the gradated blue for the corners seemed to work well. However, the typical star center didn’t, so I turned those 8 squares around to come up with a little viewing porthole inside my Wheel instead. My Fishy is kinda sweet!
While in Michigan, I visited few participating Row-by-Row quilt shops.
The first is Attic Window Quilt Shop in Comstock Park. This was a lovely shop with quite a good selection of Civil War & 30s/40s fabric. And the modern row at the top lead me to my next stop…
Stitched Studio in Grand Rapids is new Modern Quilt Shop that opened early this summer. Such a wonderful bright and airy place with fresh mod fabric! It would not be hard not to spend all my time and money here. Plus, I loved that their RbR kit was offered in traditional and modern fabrics.
My third stop is Smith-Owen Sewing & Quilting on Plainfield. This place was a great find in that they service machines, sell fabric and have a large workroom for classes. Chatting with the fellow behind the counter, I found out that they had run completely out of kits for their winter-themed RbR with the AQS show over the weekend. Luckily, there was fabric left.
This was quite fun and I’ll have to pay more attention next summer. Besides the RbR kits, I picked up some new fabric for my growing Stash! I’m eyeing several of those fabrics for family pillowcase gifts this Christmas. Best of all, I stumbled upon those two citron/blue fabrics from my June ‘One Block Wonder’ entry. Now I’ll have to decide what to make.
What fun! My quilt, Labor of Love, made it to the American Quilt Society show in GR!
Although it won no ribbons, the category was listed as Bed Quilts – Quilter’s Choice. I’m happy to note that it garnered plenty of accolades from many viewers for the hand-quilting and use of Prairie Points. And everyone loves hearts!
Time to start looking for a project to enter next year.
Funny story two-step:
In June, I made a simple little quilt block out of 4 squares of citron/blue print fabric and a striped yellow strip that I’d found during a de-stash event this Spring. It was very sweet, and I really didn’t want to swap it, but I let it go. I figured that if I ever stumbled upon more of those fabrics, I could make something more substantial than a potholder.
What’s funny is that I gave my block to someone, who turned it in to the organizer with several other blocks. When she redistributed the blocks, I ended up with mine back! Since I hadn’t really wanted to part with it, I decided not to (!) and searched my ReStash Box for another block start to make into a gifty. Lo and behold, I found this little beauty:
There were several leftover strips and another large swatch of a complementary batik print, so I thought to make a variation on this Skinny Pincushion I came across recently.
What a whirlwind week!
Once again, I wasn’t planning to take a workshop, yet after a little research on our July speaker, Ann Shaw (as well as her mentor, Ruth McDowell), I realized that the piecing techniques these women pioneered were exactly what I’ve been looking for in modern, art quilt making.
Since the workshop sold out quickly, I completely lucked out when a second day was added. Sadly, Ann’s pattern ‘Gallus Gallus’ was sold out and I wasn’t in love with any of the other chicken patterns. Instead, I decided to make the ‘Mountain Chicken,’ which is a frog! Plus, my sister is a frog fan, so this might be a gift for her.
As you can see by the picture below, I spent much of my time ‘interviewing’ fabric snippets that might work as part of the design. This is a wonderful way to utilize tricky fabric; each decision informs the next choice you make. I have the front half of the frog working, but I can change my mind at any point.
One thing I’ll keep, the title: Desert Chicken!
Speaking of which, before the workshop, Ann lead a little field trip to a local fabric shop. She pointed out various multicolor fabrics that seemed unlikely choices for our chicken, yet work wonderfully to add interest. By looking at the texture and size of print, not just color, these projects are bound to be as much fun to assemble as to view.
Afterward, the group ventured into a flower and garden center, where Ann gave insights into floral photography utilizing design techniques I learned in college and from my father. The afternoon has been a wonderfully artistic surprise.
With furious sewing and quilting over the past few months and weeks, I finished the 2014 Hoffman Challenge. True to form, I ran into some strange issues I didn’t experience previously.
Unlike the Magenta version, the Indigo fabric has colorful orange/pink filigree in the background, instead of subtle purple or blue. Thus, I spent much more time fussy-cutting:
Easily, I assembled the block as before. And then it occurred to me. Since ‘Magenta’ will ultimately grace another quilt (stay tuned for that journey!), when I finished the square, it was done. Now, except for simple hand quilting, I hadn’t actually planned out how to finish this! Fiddlesticks! So I spent a good deal of time thinking about the design & interviewing color border ideas. Of course, the border had to include colorful super-sized Prairie Points! Here’s my finished design:
Oh, and then there’s my crazy internal sleeve? Right. It worked fine for the Heart Quilt. However, I decided to incorporate the selvedge, so I had to maneuver the fabric and I had a strip to ‘almost’ match it. Finished the rest of the back with stripes loosely based on Fibonacci number sequence. Maybe next time, I’ll try the Golden Spiral! Here’s the back view:
I absolutely love my Indigo Mandala! It turned out even better than I’d imagined. Yay!
Hoffman Challenge, Part 1: Earlier this year, I stumbled on the annual Hoffman fabric challenge. My friend, E thought it might be grand to enter and I decided to give it a whirl myself.
When I saw the multi-color mandala wheels, I knew exactly what to make. (wait for it…) A Carpenter’s Wheel!
Right out of the gate, I fell in love with the Magenta version of the original Anastasia fabric, so I thought I’d try playing with that first. I’d had much luck using the magic 8 method to easily make HST on the orchid birdie blocks, but the way I was fussy-cutting this mandala fabric, that just wasn’t possible.
With everything cut, sewn & squared into blocks, I assembling my wheel.
As progress continued, I decided to use this Wheel & the fabrics in my ‘Tula Pink City Sampler, 100 modern blocks’ quilt! Look for more progress later this fall.