And we decided to make a birthday quilt for our friend, mentor and teacher Margaret Linderman.
And we decided to make it a surprise!
And we wanted all of her peeps to be able to create a part of the quilt.
I thought of the French Roses quilt, created by Heather French. It is a versatile, layered, fabric flower that Margaret and her students have made many times for many people.
I drew up a layout with the blocks on point that would have 50 flowers – enough to include many friends!
Then I added in a center that could have an image of Margaret’s muse, Frida Kahlo, in a flaming corazon.
Margaret’s daughter Janis Stob and I sent out packets of background fabric, a black shadow for each flower (to add a visual punch) and inspiration appliques. It will surprise none of you that I have quite a collection of Alexander Henry fabrics from which to draw folklorico inspiration!
When the blocks came in we gathered at Wooden Gate Quilts, in Danville, and worked on a layout.
Janis sewed the blocks all together, making many extra where we needed more, leaving the hole in the middle for Frida.
I created a heart from dupioni silk and cut flames out of bright batiks. Margaret’s favorite image of Frida Kahlo was printed on to fabric to adorn the center.
To make an exciting edge to the heart I glued lots of small flower appliques to a layer of black batting which would add dimension, color and texture. I stitched them all on the longarm and cut them out with the black shadows visible.
The appliques surrounded the corazon and then I created a frame for the photo of Frida.
The outer “border” was composed of more corazons, most made by Janis Stob and Kathy August.
The quilt began to take shape!
Of course, even though we started MONTHS in advance, the quilt didn’t get on to the longarm until the DAY BEFORE THE PARTY. And we still had to add bling and bind it!
I had a marathon 6 hours on the longarm to get it all quilted!
That night we had a bling and binding party! You won’t believe how fast Pat DeForce got that binding on for us!
We added crystals, beads, do-dads, bobbles, milagros and anything else we got our hands on to make the quilt more “Margaret!”
The next day we threw her a surprise party!
Please hold for Part 2, wherein we give Margaret the quilt!
Look for our quilt at Pacific International Quilt Festival in Santa Clara, California, this weekend!
January is Make YOURSELF a Quilt Month – I have spoken and therefore it shall be…
What’s the deal, you ask?
The holidays are over – as I mentioned in the last post – and it’s time to move on. As creative people we are often compelled to make quilts for people as gifts – in fact, many of us make ALL of our quilts as gifts.
This can be both positive and negative.
The positives include: You feel good giving a special gift. People like getting hand-made things. You made it super special. You actually finished a project.
Here are some negatives: It’s an expensive way to give a gift. You worked outside your palette or comfort zone and didn’t enjoy it. It came out “ugly.” It took a long time. The person doesn’t always understand or appreciate what you put into to making the quilt. It gets put into a closet. You rarely see the quilt (if ever) again. It gets used as a dog bed. It ends up as a doormat. And so on.
I know we all feel like a quilt is the “perfect” gift, especially when someone has a baby. So make a baby quilt for yourself, your sibling, or your grandchild. Good plan. But, you don’t have to make a quilt for your aunt’s cousin’s hairdresser’s dog walker’s step-daughter. Draw the line, people. Just because an egg has been fertilized somewhere in the continuous United States DOESN’T MEAN YOU ACTUALLY HAVE TO MAKE IT A QUILT! Buy a onsie or a stuffed giraffe once in a while, for Pete’s sake!
I think and fret a lot if I am making a quilt for someone else, whether it is a commission or a gift. I worry about the theme, tone, fabrics, colors, size, pattern, quality of workmanship and everything else there is to perseverate over. And that, my friends, is just NO FUN!
When I’m making myself a quilt I take risks, I make mistakes, I work very fast and spontaneously, and I really enjoy it. Except when it tortures me and looks ugly. But even that’s OK with me!
The real reason that I want you to make a quilt for yourself is that you make such interesting choices when you create for yourself. You don’t have to worry if the recipient will like it, if it will “go” with their stuff, if it will be appreciated. Often you’re bolder, braver, and, I hope, happier when you’re working with a beloved palette, with fabric you love, on a quilt you’re excited to make. If you have to make adjustments you’ll feel less stressed. And you’ll most likely enjoy the process more and care less about the product!
So it’s make yourself a quilt month and that means me, too.
I have to do some quilt work for other people this month, but at least twice a week I am going to work on a quilt just for me. I would like to share my process with all of you. Even if it ends up a big hot mess (as my friend Kris says.) I hope you’ll join me on my journey!
I have only a vague idea of what I am going to make. It’s going to have huge quilted applique flowers and leaves. It will have vibrant colors.
I am going to make it up as I go.
I want to take the feel of this tiny postcard with the quilted appliques and bow it up HUGE!
Inspiration for this project comes from my love of certain colors and imagery that I often find in Mexican art and tiles. I have been pinning on a Pintrest board I’ve titled Obsession – see it here.
This new fabric from Alexander Henry is a good starting point.
I’ve been quilting and painting on these fabrics…
And this is really where I get the most excited!!!
I started a flower today!
I cut shapes out of batik and cotton prints.
Ultimately the flower needed seven petals.
The next step was to turn the flower parts into appliques – quilted on to batting.
I chose black batting because I really want the appliques to have a very definite edges and a sharp, coloring book look.
Here the petals get layered on to the black batting on the long arm.
I quilted the inner parts of the petals using both a variegated orange Superior Rainbows thread and a solid lime green polyester in the needle and a darker pink variegated thread in the bobbin.
The quilting is really scribbly and I don’t like how it came out. I didn’t glue the pieces down and the edges got all puckery. The batting was all stretchy and it moved a lot under the needle. At this point I’m thinking I’ve wrecked it all.
I cut the parts of the petals out, leaving about a quarter of an inch of the batting showing.
I quilted the inner ring of petals separately because I thought it needed the punch of the black edges.
I’m going to need to quilt the center, but maybe it’s not totally terrible after all.
Well, I’m now gearing up for going to Sisters, Oregon, this July for the wonderful Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show and The Quilter’s Affair, where wonderful classes go on all week.
One of the ways the quilt show gives back to the community is through a fund-raiser called Wish Upon a Card. The project collects money for cancer patients in the area.
Being a teacher at The Quilter’s Affair gives me the benefit of having my postcard framed and put into a silent auction during the teaching week at the high school. Last year my postcards were a bit clunky and awkward, but they looked so much better with the wonderful framing job that is provided by HighDesert Frameworks.
Making a quilted piece that is only 3″ x 5″ is a MAJOR challenge for me. This means that the pieces need to be TEENY WEENY. And I mean MINUTE!!!
My new work is all about making quilted appliques, and, with this in mind, I set out to make a little vase of flowers.
The only fabric that I liked for the project and which had flowers small enough for the postcard was this wonderful skull fabric – made by my boyfriend Alex, of course. I am in love with these colors right now and I loved the gold glitter on the motifs. I cut out the flowers from the eyes, chins, cheeks, foreheads, and background.
I glued little cut-out flowers on to black batting and trimmed the edges to leave a shadow of the batting all around. I really like how this effect makes the flowers pop.
I created a wall and table on the 3″ x 5″ piece of fusible card and auditioned the placement of my bouquet.
Then I used some variegated threads and some fancy stitches and sewed around the table and the outer border. I wanted to give the piece some visual interest and texture before adding the bouquet.
The vase is made out of a fabric with cacti all over it. Some of the flowers, like the one in the above photo, were pieced from several parts of the skulls, including the eyelashes. I was working to get a balance of color and the different flowers in a variety of sizes.
I stitched the appliques in place with gold thread on my regular sewing machine.
Then I felt compelled to add the WORLD’S SMALLEST BEADS! Look at them! They’re smaller than a really tiny thing! Can you imagine the pain I went though?!? Me who doesn’t do hand work!?! Poking myself with the needle every other minute! And I can’t even begin to talk about the size of the eye of the needle or I’ll need medication (more medication, that is!)!
I’m pretty happy with the results (after all that torture).
I hope it raises loads of money, and I’m glad that I won’t have to make another one until next year!
Anyone can donate fabric postcards up to July 1 to be sold for the charity. Yes, that means you can be tortured, too!
Here’s what the website says:
Please consider donating one (or more!) fabric postcards for this worthy cause.
• Postcards should be 4” x 6”
• To be considered for Challenge prizes and silent auction, cards must be received by April 15
• We are happy to accept cards for sale up to July 1st
• Please include your name and address and mail to:
I created a series of pieces of the focus fabric, which is Las Senoritas, by Alexander Henry Fabrics (still my boyfriend, I might add!). I tried to focus the visual impact of each part by covering up images that I didn’t want. Mostly that meant covering up partial faces and sometimes extra arms, elbows, hands or hats.
Then I created the circles for the edges of the focus pieces. All the focus blocks are in 6″ (finished) increments to go with the 6″ finished blocks.
Each circle was machine appliqued to the blocks.
I began to audition the border fabric and started cutting boat-loads of flower appliques.
After sewing the pieces together, I worked to integrate all the visuals in the piece by breaking the barriers of the focus sections and the surrounding blocks.
This is where the fun begins because there are so many ways to do this. Often I found myself “creating” new flowers by strategically splicing pieces of the fabric.
In this section I wanted to break the plane by bringing the flower out into the next block.
This flower proved especially challenging, as it didn’t have any whole petals to work with. If I just removed the surrounding imagery, the flower would look chopped. I wanted a whole flower.
For the foundation, I made this cutout. By including the leaf, the applique will blend in better on the background.
Then I have to cut up a whole flower to get another petal to overlay.
Trim things up until it looks right.
I added appliques all over the place. All of the other appliques (except the really big cacti) came from other Alexander Henry fabrics I’ve collected over time (of course).
Here are some examples of the results.
When it came to quilting, I gave everything a once-over with a blue and green variegated rayon thread called Rainbows from Superior threads. In this pass I quilted the backgrounds and borders as well as the edges of all of the appliques. Then I chose colors to go with all of the different parts of the quilt. Each flower, circle and applique was then quilted a second time with a thread of a matching color. I ended up using green, orange, pink, red and brown.
It’s getting packed up for its debut at Sisters next week.
I am making some labels for a few of my new quilts. But, only because I have to.
The Quilt Police have had a warrant out on me for years for section 420.67b, non-completion of quilt labels (along with section 316.28a, undocumented quilt gift-giving (no photo of quilt taken before given away); section 421.12c non-inclusion of hanging sleeves; and a few other misdemeanors to be named later).
However, I am showing some of my new work in the Teacher’s Tent at the Sister’s Outdoor Quilt show next week, and they require compliance with the practice of adding a label. I get why a quilt should be labeled – I even agree that it’s a good thing.
One should label their quilts. (Should – another long 4-letter word.)
I don’t know if it is the rebel in me, the lazy in me, or the absolute aversion to hand sewing, but I NEVER make labels for my quilts. Except for now, when I am doing it for these five quilts (and a few other times).
So, could I just have made a nice simple label? A pretty square with the pertinent information? I COULD have.
But did I?
Of course not! I made a super-complex collage of at least 12 pieces.
Why so many bits, you might ask? Well, I made her a new skirt top with the pretty red points (the original has just one red point), and then I collaged the basilica, flowers, cacti, and leaves to make a balanced arrangement.
I am sure you’ve noticed by now that the piece is not a simple square either. Of course not! That would just be too easy!
I did give her a nice set of arm and shoulder tattoos while I was at it. And why not?
Then, I used a zig-zag stitch to attach the collage to a background piece. Not sure it’s the best look, but TOO LATE NOW!
Now we come to the yucky bit – all that hand sewing and turning under of edges, curves, inner corners, and other tools of torture to a hand-sew-a-phobe like me!
I trimmed the edge a bit and clipped the outer curves. Then I pinned with long, sharp pins (I chose long pins so that the thread could get caught in the pins with each and every stitch – seriously!)
Then I did sew it with little invisible stitches and green thread.
Not too bad for someone who avoids this kind of work like a plague of nose-picking pig farmers.
When I had to work on this (the most complex) section, I clipped into the corners.
So that’s about it – and it’s done.
(You’re probably wondering why there is that funny line on her chest. The reason is that I started with a piece that had her face, arm and body but had the left part of her chest cut off. Rather than starting with a whole lady, I just cut the chest off of another intact lady. What was I thinking? No Idea. Just sometimes one makes silly decisions.)
Here’s the finished look…
So only four more to go!
Well, I actually finished the label for Barbed Wire Betsy (see this post), and I kept this one more simple!!!
Alexander Henry Fabrics has sent another visual valentine to us fabric lovers.
It is a Must Have Fabric! I have spoken and it shall be so!
With last year’s Ghastlies series, we reveled in wonderful fabric that featured images from the strangest dinner party ever, and this year we can join this oddball group in A Ghastlies Family Reunion.
It comes in several colors, including mauve, grey and green. (I suspect it comes in a white background, too, but I haven’t seen it yet.)
Clad in costumes from the Roaring 20’s, these upper-class socialites seem to be frozen in tableaux whose meanings we can only guess at.
Last year’s fabric featured a beribboned girl holding a hammer. My friends and I refer to the dress-wearing tomboy as “little Alethea.” She really reminded me of myself, the dress, the tool, and the perpetual pout!
There is a new (old) member of staff, the butler Cobblestone.
We also have some new family members.
One wonders what is going on between these two ladies. There must be more than meets the eye. Could it have something to do with the expecting mother and her wayward husband?
So now the question remains… what to make with this fabric?
I can see some great bags, placemats, and pillows on the horizon.
Think of the fun fabrics and images you could put inside the frames. Alexander Henry has some fun companion fabrics that will read solid for the frame fabric.
One of my friends from Wooden Gate Quilts is already making a 9-Patch Pizzazz from Judy Sisnero’s fabulous book. (Which I wish I had written!)
I can’t wait to see how it develops!
Large-scale prints like this are also great for quilts from my book Maverick Quilts. Try it in Superstars, California Housetop, in the off blocks in Bella Boxes, or as the central panel in Lovely Landscape. Any of these would be great!
Or, how about the Show Off pattern in the book?
As always, sorry for the photo quality! (The publisher sent me a CD with all of the nice photos from the book, but I can’t figure out how to open them, silly me!)
For my Ghastlies quilt, I chose the Show Off pattern.
This quilt is made from the fabric which came out last year, and I used both the green and grey background versions for the block centers. The frames are made in black, grey, green, pink and then I threw in some purple just for fun.
Unlike the Show Off Quilt in the book, I included sashing between each horizontal set and added a wide band a single fabric. On the band I created a funny portrait gallery with images from the fabric.
I made frames for each portrait by fussy cutting fabric and fusing it wown. You should have heard me cackling as I finished each one!
Love the hair!
Do you see the cat’s ears on the top of Father’s portrait and the four cat feet on the bottom? I will stitch everything down with the quilting.
Please send me photos of what you make from this MUST HAVE FABRIC! I always love to see your work!
The blog has been quiet but the sewing machine loud! I have been working on quilts like a madwoman and have lots of new work to show y’all.
I have just made a new version of the Goddess quilt in the super-hip Alexander Henry Rivoli Girl fabric. These modern, slightly-coy girls just called out to me to be featured in a quilt. Boy, do I love fabric with people on it.
I know you can get some of this fabric at the delightful Wooden Gate Quilts store in Danville, California right now. I have also spied this fabric in other colors at Fabric.com, and I just Might have to get me some in anther colorway – just MIGHT! Rivoli Girl fabric from Fabric.com.
I love making these curved blocks. I use half of a quarter yard (a fat eighth) and free-cut the curves. Each pairing of fabric makes two curvy blocks and then I have some fun long strips to play with and put into the blocks.
I audition all the curve strips on the wall and play with possible sashing ideas.
I am teaching this quilt as a class in Danville at Wooden Gate Quilts. You can contact them for information about the class. Wooden Gate Quilts If you are nervous about trying this on your own, sign up; I would love to teach you how to make these fun curves.
For the Rivoli Goddesses, I made the blocks 17″ and used a 2″ sashing with posts. I used the left over fabrics for a fun scrappy outer border. Yes, please!
For those of you who are making the Goddess quilt out of the book, and for those of you who are making the curvy border for the Jalousie quilt in Maverick Quilts, the following images might help you get into the rhythm of the cutting and pinning. This is meant simply to give further information if you’re working out of the book; it is not the whole set of instructions.
First – you must make sure that you stack your two pieces of fabric so the right sides both face up – do not make them pretty sides in!!!
Then use your rotary cutter to create a gentle curve down the middle of the block.
Clip the inner part of the curves a scant quarter inch and about 1/4″ apart.
Again I want to remind you that the image in the book for the curves cutting is wrong!
Clip the concave part of the curve only – the image on the left of this image is very naughty – it’s wrong. Just cross it out so you remember that the image on the right is the correct one! Thanks!
Put the pairs pretty sides in and mark opposite sides of the seams to create markers for the pin placement.
Mark the apex of each curve and its opposite side. Then you will pin only where you marked.
The rest is just sewing, pressing and trimming. Easy-ish!
I really hope you try this technique out! I really love it.
Here is a close up of Goddess flowers, which is in the book.
Wanna see why this is a must-have fabric? I made a wonderful quilt using the roaming elephant print from Tina Givens’ Pernilla’s Journey.
As I showed you before, I pulled out half a million strips from my strips bin and went about making blocks. (See Must Have Fabric # 2, click on link to the right)
I used a pattern from my book called the California Housetop. (So you can make one of these quilts, too!) In the quilt below I was using my boyfriend Alex’s Camaro fabric. Of course.
This quilt pattern was directly inspired by a quilt I saw in The Quilts of Gee’s Bend, from Tinwood Books; 2002. It was made circa 1935 by Rachel Carey George. It uses flour sacking as the white background and has stripes of reds, plaids, and gray.
The housetop block is a common motif in the quilter’s of Gee’s Bend’s work. It is a modified log cabin block that builds out on two sides from a corner square.
In Rachel’s quilt there are fifteen housetop blocks and one anomalous stripey block. I think it is interesting to note that the quiltmaker used the red only as stripes and not as any of the centers.
This quilt called out to me and said, use that large-scale fabric. Use those bright and bold colors. Go nuts.
And I did!
So, for this quilt, I made twelve housetop blocks and sewed them together with large sections of the elephants.
I cut the large-scale fabric to let the elephants galumph horizontally across the face. Each subsequent row is taller than the one above so that the image is reveled more in each row. I used the green balloons as the columns in between the blocks.
With the twelve blocks in place, the quilt was a little tall and thin for me, so I set about making funky square-in-a-square blocks for side borders. I pieced the light fabrics in between and then added the marching elephants up and down the sides.
The Tula Pink Prince Charming fabric was a great color match with the Pernilla fabric, and I was able to use the frog in the center of one of the blocks. I made sure to add in fabrics of colors that didn’t match to create some zingers, like the pink and yellow floral above.
One of the tricks to making one of these quilts is to use a transition color at the outer edge of each block, one that works well as a bridge between the colored stripes and the large-scale sashing. It should be the color of the background in the sashes. In this case, each housetop block has a green and white fabric on the outer edge.
I quilted it using a zebra-stripe Superior Rainbows thread that went through shades of gray to charcoal. I really loved giving all the little people funny curls on their hats.
I think it is time I shared some of my recent work with you all, dear readers.
The Lovely Landscape quilt in Maverick Quilts uses a focus fabric or panel-style fabric in the center. A row of circles attached to squares surrounds the central motif and then a border is added. The construction is simple and the results are wonderful. You can make a landscape quilt using the directions from my book.
Recently I was commissioned to make a quilt for a friend’s brother’s wedding. What a delight it was when the friend loved the Harajuku Ladies from Alexander Henry as much as I did! I collected all of the fabric and was off in a flash.
Each fabric in the circles and squares was at least one individual color from the center fabric. I auditioned the placement of the circles, moving them many times until it felt just right.
To create the circles, I did the stitch and flip method using fusible lightweight pellon, and I stitched around each of the circles with a variegated orangy thread.
Here is a brief tutorial that goes with the directions in the book.
Then you press it flat attaching the bumpy, fusible side to the back side of the circle.
After all of the circles were sewn and their locations were just right, I added borders and then began the process of adding appliques of the flowers from the panel fabric. I used up a lot of yardage to get all the flowers, but it was WORTH IT! I made sure to place the appliques across the surfaces to blur the edges and create unity in the piece.
I did some painting in a few places to add to the painterly quality of the work.
See how I painted the pink square (above) to mirror the black dashes in the panel?
I must say that I was more than delighted to see the finished quilt!
I especially love the bottom right corner with the pagoda.
It seems that the happy couple was delighted with their gift and it now hangs in their home in Chicago.
I have created another version of the landscape quilt, which I welcome you to go see at the Museum of the San Ramon Valley show beginning August 25, 2011. More information to follow, but here is the poster.
Here is the post you all have been waiting for. It seems difficult to believe that there really are more fabulous fabric designers out there in the world, but, believe me, THERE ARE!
As I noted in Part 1, the fabric designers bring JOY to us humble quilters. We delight in the elation that each new fabric creates in our teeny tiny hearts. We live for that feeling we have when we see a new color or pattern that makes us excited, hopeful and fulfilled all at the same time. The next step, of course, is to then OWN a piece of each of these coveted fabrics! But that’s a blog for a later day.
The King and Queen of Fabricland!
I cannot write about the Royal fabric designers without mentioning the creative team from Alexander Henry Fabrics. Strangely enough, I did not take any pictures of the Alexander Henry booth nor of the designers! I was so busy trying to be cool when I talked to the King and Queen of fabric, Phillip and Nicole de Leon, the brother-sister part of the creative team, that I didn’t even snap one photo.
I was able to show Phillip the pages from Maverick Quilts that featured his fabric! True to my super-uncool self I only talk-spit on him a little when I gushed admiration, and I barely avoided fainting dead away when Nicole showed me her darling cats on chairs fabric! But, other than that, things went well. They let me ferret about and look at all the fabric samples and didn’t even call security once.
I will tell you, however, that the booth was all decked out in an Indigo theme and everything was a rich feast of Asian blue and linen colors. Delicious. And while I claim that fabric designers are the nicest people in the world, the truth is that the Alexander Henry team is absolutely the most stylish team. Each of the people in the booth are dressed L.A. Chic, impeccably tailored in their gorgeous clothes, and so fashion forward. My friend Ashley and I had seen a tall, slender man dressed just so in a restaurant in the morning. Great belt, vest, shoes – not over the top – just too cool for the quilted vest, elastic waist quilting scene. Of course, he turned up working in the Alexander Henry booth later in the day – I rest my case!
The Princess of Fabricland has to be Tula Pink. The Converse All-Star-high-top-wearing maven of the creative fabrics! She greets you like a friend even if you’re a troll, and she is kind and friendly and willing to pose with anyone (see Ashley and me above and Elliot below).
Even the traveling Ken doll known as Elliot got his own photos shoot with her! I would love to know the story about Elliot, but suffice to say Tula was a sport about posing with him. (She ignored Mavis Quinn’s request to take a photo if Elliot nestled in between Tula’s “girls”, but I think that just shows that Tula is a sensible girl and Mavis is a weirdo. But I digress.)
Her new fabrics from the Prince Charming line are fabulous and the colors are sublime! There is just something about Tula that makes you want to be near her and you hope that some of her amazing creativity will rub off on you.
Well folks, this brings me to the end of the story. “But wait,” you say, like a little child on granny’s lap. ” Is that all? Can’t you tell me another story?” Oh, yes, little ones. There is just one more member of the royal court of Fabricland, the great High Empress, Amy Butler!
The Empress of all Fabricland!
She is the fairest in the land, and I know if there were a small pea under her pile of mattresses (made from her lovely fabrics) she would toss and turn and not sleep a wink!
I met Amy at fall market in Houston and she was so nice to me and kind and pretty and TALL that I was just floored. I showed her how her fabric was on the cover of my fist book Dream Chair Quilts and she was so happy for me and she said the nicest things! She even bent down when we had our photo taken together so I wouldn’t look so much like the short little troll that I am!
This year Amy was there with her new fabrics which come in several weights like laminates, organics, and decorator weights, and voile. (Whatever that is. As it is NOT for quilting and therefore is non-fabric for most of us, I have no idea.) There she was, just standing there beaming like the Most Wonderful Royal Highness that she is. We got to talk and take pictures and everything!
The Court Jester!
Someday, when I get my own fabric line, I plan to be grumpy and recalcitrant, and I will not be nice to anyone. KIDDING!
But, I do know that I will never be Fabricland Royalty. And that is fine with me. It’s too much of a burden anyway and I imagine one’s head gets tired of wearing those big, heavy crowns!