Urban Burp – The Most Extraordinary Fabric Store

What, you ask dear readers, is an urban burp?

Is it like a regular burp only more metropolitan? Is is a burp you only have in a big city?

NO! It is when you go to this amazing fabric store in San Francisco and you see a vintage fabric that startles you like a friendly ghost of the past. It might be a floral print that Granny had for her kitchen curtains, it might be a 70’s fabric from a skirt that you had, or it might be a fabric that you had in your bedroom growing up in the little house in the big woods. When you see it at the store you exclaim something along the lines of, “Holy cow; that’s the couch fabric from my weird Uncle Melvin’s cabin in the Ozarks.” That’s the burp – that zing of emotion you feel when you have that blast from the past.

See George Washington shake hands
See George Washington shake hands

My burp came on my first visit to the store two years ago, when I spied George Washington peeking out of a large print that I recognized from a maverick 1960’s quilt that I bought at an antique store. It is a strange Dresden Plate pattern made out of decorator fabrics attached with large stitches on to a bubble-gum-pink field. It is tied with several colors of acrylic yarn that has stiffened over the years.

Funky Dresden Plate Quilt, c. 1960's
Funky Dresden Plate Quilt, c. 1960's

You might be wondering how I recognized this image from such a small piece of fabric in an old quilt that I didn’t even make. All I can say is, That Is The Power Of The Burp!

You are going to have to go – it is truly an amazing experience!

Urban Burp owner, Electra Skilandat
Urban Burp owner, Electra Skilandat

Urban Burp is the creation of Electra Skilandat, who offers fabrics from Arts & Crafts movement to Mid Century Modern and beyond. She has been collecting vintage fabrics since she was a teenager, and is now willing to share them with us lucky buyers at her store in SF’s cool North Beach.

Electra can tell you about each fabric in the store and she knows more about fabric than anyone I have ever met – times ten! She has an encyclopedic knowledge of fabrics, designers, and fabric companies.

And she is very kind and helpful.

Wall of bolts from bygone eras
Wall of bolts from bygone eras

The walls are lined with bolts which have been saved for decades or even generations. This creates a strange feeling as you move through the store or hold a piece of fabric in your hands. You have thoughts like: This fabric is older than I am. This is possibly the last piece of this fabric on the whole entire earth. The creator of this fabric painted this image fifty years ago.

You'll find fabrics and colors to dream on...
You'll find fabrics and colors to dream on...

One of the most delicious thing about being in Urban Burp is the colors. They really don’t make fabric like this any more.

I can just feel you quilters out there getting excited and nervous at the same time. You are wondering what you could make out of these fabrics. You don’t want to wreck it. You don’t want to waste it.  I say, “Cow Poop.”

And I say, “Go forth and make a Maverick Quilt, silly.”

Buy it – Cut it – Use it!  Just Strap on Your Spurs, and Get Started.

So long as you love the fabric and make something to look at, you are honoring and preserving the fabric. You  honor the work the designers did all those years ago. And you are honoring Electra for keeping it safe for us until now. This is one of the pieces that I bought. It is about 20 inches square and cost me only $12.00. It is heavy fabric like upholstery fabric or bark cloth. I washed it and it didn’t bleed or run and I am featuring it in the center of a quilt.

Here is what I have added so far (below). Stay tuned for more.

Vintage Magnolia quit - first steps
Vintage Magnolia quit - first steps

Here is a photo gallery of other fabrics that I found (bought!) at Urban Burp.

Wonderful red and green plants
Wonderful red and green plants
Wonderful red and green plants - detail
Wonderful red and green plants - detail
Wonderful cotton fabric
Wonderful cotton fabric
Waxed Batik from Africa (modern)
Waxed Batik from Africa (modern)
Zodiac panel - 1960's
Zodiac panel - 1960's
Large-scale decorator fabric - incredible colors!
Large-scale decorator fabric - incredible colors!
Unbelievable Rayon fabric - got it in two colors!
Unbelievable Rayon fabric - got it in two colors!

Now – I don’t want you to think that red, orange and green are the only colors in the store – that’s just me these days!

I was delighted to be able to take my dear friend Ashley to this wonderful store – she was on her first trip to California (from North Carolina) and I drove her directly to Urban Burp, without passing go or collecting $200. (Well – we did drive down Lombard Street on the way. Really!)

A very happy customer!
A very happy customer!

I did let Ashley buy fabrics in any color she liked! We had a wonderful time.

I know you will all want to go there, now. Here are two sources for more information about the store:

Check out Urban Burp’s Website. Be sure to look at the services offered. Electra offers her expertise in using fabrics and will work with your furniture for the perfect new look for a beloved piece.

You might also want to read this interesting review of the store at an exciting blog for fabric fans, True Up.

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Portable ironing board – make one today!

Portable Ironing Board Covers 
Portable Ironing Board Covers

A portable ironing board can be made from two empty fabric bolts, some batting, a piece of heat resistant material, and a little cotton fabric.

Laura Nownes is the Queen of Pressing, so I shared the instructions with her for her blog, See How We Sew.

You can ask your local fabric store for a couple of empty bolts and you’ll be able to make yourself a handy ironing surface for classes or to set next to your sewing machine for those stitch and flip projects.

I used the Insul-Bright heat-resistant mylar/poly batting on top of a scrap of Warm and Natural batting, but you can also sew an insert of ironing board cover material into the front and back of the cover, like one of my students did (below).

All of the directions and pictures can be found here at Laura’s blog, See How We Sew.

Ironing Board Cover with an insert of ironing board cover fabric
Ironing Board Cover with an insert of ironing board cover fabric

Quilting for You Magazine loves me!

Fabrications - Quilting for you cover, August/September 2011
Fabrications - Quilting for you cover, August/September 2011

Fabrications – Quilting for You magazine has put one of my quilts right on the cover of their magazine! And they did a five-page spread about it, too.

I am so proud.

Yep – that’s my Emerald Jalousie quilt hanging in that garden.

Inside they have the whole chapter from the book that shows how to make the Jalousie quilt.

This quilt is one of the first quilts I created for the Maverick Quilts book, and the Ginger version that is on the book’s cover was one of the last quilts I made leading up to the final deadline.

I had bought a large piece of this Amy Butler fabric and I absolutely loved the whole piece. I had been experimenting with cutting two fabrics into long vertical strips and sewing them together in such a way so the whole pattern peeked through. It worked with some success but wasted a lot of fabric.

For this quilt I realized that if I cut just a one-inch strip of fabric and sewed it into a cut in the fabric that the pattern would not be altered in size or scale. Armed with this knowledge, I set out to create a lattice glass window, called a jalousie, where I could see the whole fabric pattern through the grid.

Emerald Jalousie quilt, by Alethea Ballard; 2009
Emerald Jalousie quilt, by Alethea Ballard; 2009

I had also been exploring free-cutting curves in my quilts and borders. For this quilt I felt that the softness and movement of the curves would be the perfect alternative to the linear nature of the quilt’s center.

I have taught the Jalousie as a class and will be teaching it soon at In Between Stitches in Livermore, California. See the class description here, and you can sign up to take the class at the bottom of that page.

Here are some examples of my students work before quilting:

Lovely Irises peek through the jalousie in this quilt
Lovely Irises peek through the jalousie in this quilt
Beautiful example of a Jalousie quilt
Beautiful example of a Jalousie quilt

The directions for the curved piecing is in the book and the magazine article, but there is an error in the following graphic.

Diagram 6 - naughty and nice!
Diagram 6 - naughty and nice!

The graphic on the left shows the clips on the outside of the curves. That is wrong – naughty graphic!

To make the curves work, you really only want to clip the  inner curves. This allows for some easing of the fabric as you sew the pieces together. So the graphic to the right is correct – nice graphic.

Of course, you can always change the border to suit your own taste and working style. Read on…

I got a great email from my teacher’s pet, who said that she bought  my book in the morning and had this quilt finished by evening! She left out some of the vertical strips, and then she added the great squares in the border. I always encourage my students to make the quilts the way they want to doing the parts they like and leaving out the parts that aren’t fun to them. That is exactly what Chris did – that’s one of the things that makes her my pet!

by Chris Leach; 2011
by Chris Leach; 2011
detail of Jalousie by Chris Leach; 2011
detail of Jalousie by Chris Leach; 2011

I love that she used this fabric. I had bought some for a Jalousie quilt myself, and two of my closest friends have bought some for their projects, too! You can never have large enough flowered fabric, in my opinion.

You can get Fabrications, Quilting for You magazine anywhere in the UK and also certain locations her in the U.S. and abroad. If you live in England, you can get a copy of my book Maverick Quilts, using Large-Scale Fabrics, Novelty Prints & Panels with Panache through a special offer made by Roadhouse. Here is what they say: Roadhouse is offering this book at the special price of £19.99 (r.r.p. £23.00) including FREE postage & handling to mainland U.K. addresses (other destinations on request). To place an order contact Roadhouse on 01273 603717. The offer deadline is 15th November, 2011.

Let’s Talk About It!

San Ramon Valley Museum quilt show in action!
San Ramon Valley Museum quilt show in action!

Tonight I have made the biggest pile of quilts in history! I am preparing for my talk at the San Ramon Valley Museum tomorrow morning. My friend Ashley is here, and we have pulled quilts out of every drawer, closet, box and bin in the house. We are talking about each one and enjoying a walk down quilt memory lane. We piled them all up and sorted them into a ‘bring to the talk’ pile and a ‘put away – this quilt is cheezy, old, or nerdy’ pile.

Now the challenge is to try to reduce the ‘bring to the talk pile’ so that at some point it will be small enough to fit into a semi-truck and trailer.

Join me Saturday at the museum to hear about the work I have done and the transitions my work has gone through over the past 20 years. And then you can see the amazing quilt show, Quirkology of Quilts – Warmth to Whimsy.

The talk will be from 10:30 – 11:30 at the museum. Address and directions are here.

Design Seeds – a new way to look at color combinations

Square Dinkum, detail
Square Dinkum, detail

Ahh, color!  How do I love thee – let me count the ways..

Orange, green, and white – my favorite colors.

And red and green.

And yellow and white and magenta, and, and, and…

Not surprisingly, I have a lot of favorite colors, and (surprisingly) my favorites actually change over time.

Do you find that, too?

For a while it was pink and white (80s).  Then it was blue and yellow(90s).  Next came RED (zeroes), and so on.

I have joined some blogging rings recently and have been delighted to find some really exciting quilting work out there. (More about that later.) I am reading lots of blogs seeing the cool things others are doing.

One thing that the bloggers are all excited about right now is Design Seeds and their website, which is bringing quilters lots of inspiration. I have to say that I spent a looong time looking at the different palettes last night.

Here is an example of a palette you will find at Design Seeds.

CarrotHues - Image from Design Seeds
CarrotHues - Image from Design Seeds

The whole site is just full of these beautiful images along with the color swatches that are in the photo, and it is like eating dessert to look through all of them and devour the beauty.

I learned two important things from my exploration.

The first revelation is that what I love about color is not the actual color not a single, individual color or even favorite pairs of colors – but the relationship that one color has with another and the conversation that takes place between multiple colors. For instance, I love green and I love orange, but the way each particular green and orange relate is different. Some combinations are exciting and intriguing, while others might not give me the same emotional charge. That is a new thought for me – I always thought I just loved color. Now I see that it is a combination of a visceral response to color and the mental play that occurs when looking at how the colors interact that is the attraction to “color”.

In my work I almost always find a medium to large-scale print and use it to direct the rest of my fabric choices. Only then do I begin to design a quilt for the fabrics. I choose how much of the focus fabric I want to see and in what shapes. Then the idea for a quilt begins to germinate.

For Square Dinkum, which is one of the projects in my book, Maverick Quilts, I found the poppy fabric. The deep orange and bright green on the white field sent me into raptures, and I snapped it up. What a joy it was to collect the half-a-million fabrics to go with the fabric. I really wanted to see the poppies in long strips along the sides and standing up correctly along the top and bottom. Creating each square-in-a-square was like opening a present!

Like using a palette like these from Design Seeds, you can use the colors in a beloved fabric to choose the companions it.

Square Dinkum, by Alethea Ballard; 2009
Square Dinkum, by Alethea Ballard; 2009

Design Seeds had several combinations that reminded me of this quilt; take a look.

HarvestHues from Creative Seeds
HarvestHues from Creative Seeds

 Isn’t it fun to see these?

Here is a wonderful palette that has some similar colors, but has a whole different feel.

ColorStalks - image from Design Seeds
ColorStalks - image from Design Seeds

Delicious!

The other thing that I realized in going through all of the palettes was that (for those who know my work – don’t be shocked) I really like grey. I like how grey works with other colors. Especially green.  Look:

Yum!

And this one…

ColorPatina from Design Seeds
ColorPatina from Design Seeds

Lovely!

Stay tuned for more thoughts on colors – soon!

To find Design Seeds, jump over here.

Fashion Weak – a Special Report from Mavis Quinn

Fashion is IN!
Fashion is IN!

MEMO

To: Mavis Quinn

From:  Editor – Where Cuckoo Women Create Magazine .com.org.biz

Message:  Cover Fashion Week for the magazine. Show the latest trends and the IN fashions. No budget for a fashion model, so take photos of yourself. No shenanigans this time!

MEMO

To: Marvin Quixote

From:  Mavis

Message:  Editor wants me to cover Fashion Weak. I always suspected that fashion was weak. Directed to cover what’s IN. Unclear what that means. Must do research. Will pick up anniversary gift for your parents while I am out. You’ll have to go to the Ecosystems of the Scottish Bogs lecture without me.  Shucks. Take good notes and we can discuss it over a Soy Chai Latte later.

Hello Dreary Readers, this is Mavis Quinn reporting from chic Walnut Creek’s Broadway Plaza Shopping Centre. Commonly referred to as Rodeo Drive North, Broadway Plaza sports high-end stores like Tiffany’s, Neiman Marcus, Macys, the Hallmark store and Bob’s Calendars and Games Emporium. And three Starbucks!  Wow!

Where Cuckoo Women Create Magazine is always at the front of fashion trends and this time we are covering fashions that are IN and fashions that are weak.

Helene is IN!
hÉLÈnË is IN!

My first stop was a meeting with Nordstrom’s fashion director hÉLÈnË. (One name only – three accents)

She has some shopaholic debt that she is working off so she couldn’t afford a shirt, but she was wearing the IN item of the year: FUR (fake). She agreed to take me on a tour of her super duper store. (Could she have shaved her armpits? Really I mean, the pit hair was dark and blended into the vest, but please!?)

We toddled around the Point of Ew department and I learned that stripes are IN.

Stripes are IN
Stripes are IN

With the waist band around my neck and the shoulders a full foot taller than me, I think that, while IN, this look might be considered WEAK! It doesn’t matter that I am only 5 feet tall – that’s just not right.

hÉLÈnË took me to the Point of Zoo department next and informed me that FUR (fake) was the IN item this fall. Having never visited this department, I was very curious to see the IN fashions for animals.

Fur Scarf for a Horse is IN!
Fur Scarf for a Horse is IN!

Who knew?

Feather Boa for a deer is IN!
Feather Boa for a deer is IN!

Who knew?

Feathers for Frogs - IN!
Feathers for Frogs - IN!

Amazing!

And then we went to the Point of Pew department and, unfortunately, things got dicey!

hÉLÈnË took me to a particularly fragrant section of the store and showed me the latest IN fashions for humans.  Unfortunately, this intrepid reporter seems to be allergic to FUR (fake) and things began to turn for the worst. It started with a little watery eyes.

Black Fur is IN!
Black Fur is IN!

This Vinyl and FUR (fake) coat was hot – I mean I was pretty sweaty in this shot – and with the watery eyes came a dry mouth and an itchy nose.
.

Boots are IN!
Boots are IN!

This FUR (fake) vest was not as hot as the jacket, but this photo was taken right before the first big sneeze.  hÉLÈnË moved away a little and made a sour face.

She set me up with this next IN item, a stringy fur vesty thing, and she had me pose in front of a mirror real good for a super-fashionable photo.

Stringy Green Fur is IN!
Stringy Green Fur is IN!

As you can see a monster sneeze is about to happen and then the anaphylaxis began to set in. hÉLÈnË ran away in search of a towel for herself, and the last thing I remember was the fleeing site of her black armpit hair before I passed out on the cold store floor.

Fortunately, an innocent bystander ripped the FUR (fake) off of me in time and I was able to regain consciousness.

At that point I decided that perhaps I was just fashion weak and I snuck off before hÉLÈnË returned with a paramedic and the store’s security detail.

There was just a little shopping I had to do before I headed out…

Gift for Marvin's parents. IN!
Gift for Marvin's parents. IN!

Perfect for Myrtle and Myles Quixote’s 47th anniversary.

MEMO

To: Mavis Quinn

From:  Editor – Where Cuckoo Women Create Magazine .com.org.biz

Message:  I said fashion WEEK!

MEMO

To: Editor – Where Cuckoo Women Create Magazine .com.org.biz

From: Mavis Quinn

Message:  Oh, never mind.

Cool blog post… street art utopia

Cut on the dotted line - image from streetartutopia
Cut on the dotted line - image from streetartutopia

Well, dear readers, sometimes I find something that I really like that I want to share with you.  I keep finding cool imagery of street art, and it really intrigues me. Here is a link to a collection of 106 interesting photos.  http://www.streetartutopia.com/?p=2014

I love the feeling of spontaneity and whimsy in many of these images.

I hope you like them, too

.

The flood - image from streetartutopia
The flood - image from streetartutopia
lego cornerstone -  image from streetartutopia
lego cornerstone - image from streetartutopia
washing line - image from streetartutopia
washing line - image from streetartutopia