Friday, October 21, 2011

Blue Chips

This quilt, which I call "Blue Chips",  made its debut in blogland when my friend, Teresa, featured it on her blog, Fabric Therapy in May of 2011.   I am a great procrastinator when it comes to finishing quilts. Today I sewed the last stitch on the binding.  ( I still have a pile of both quilts and flimsys that need to be ushered to the next step, so this finish barely makes a dent. Nevertheless, it is progress!)

This is one of those quilts that truly evolved. I started with the idea of making pillow of "shirt-stripe boxes",  a pattern by Kaffe Fassett , in his book, Passionate Patchwork.  This is a pattern I really like.  I produced a bunch of the 3.5 inch squares, but quickly came to the conclusion that I didn't want to go on.  Matching the lines, which makes this pattern so effective, runs against my liberated tendencies.  It became more work than I wanted to do.  Consequently, these squares were set aside.

Sometime later, I decided to do something to use a bunch of blue and white fabric that had been sitting in my stash for at least 9 years.  Again, the above Kaffe pattern was what I had in mind.  Having looked through several of Kaffe's books, I realized he has effectively used the same block layout to make quite different quilts. Large squares were partnered with smaller squares, etc.  So I gamely cut squares of different sizes from my blue and white stash. The result was mush.  It was very hard to look at all the busy-ness that resulted.  In poking around my scraps, I found the shirt-box squares I had made.   Ah-ha. They helped some, but something more was needed. 

In my mind, blue and white evokes Delft tiles.  Yes, that was what I wanted.  Now I needed to separate the blocks with "grout".  But, I didn't want nice neat lines of sashing.  Shortly before all of this, I had been poking through Quilt Mania, #78.  It featured a quilt by Pamela Goecke Dinndorf (Aardvark Quilts), which was a mosaic of simple tiles with wedges of grout.  Another ah-ha moment.  I could be as liberated as I liked!  I pretended that I had bought rejects and broken chips at the tile store, as that is all I'd be able to afford, anyway. 

I tied this quilt with white perle cotton #8.  I am a hand quilter.  There are a lot of irregular seams, which would make hand quilting difficult. Furthermore, any quilting (other than in the ditch)  would be lost in the busy-ness that is already there.  And, I didn't want to delay the completion any longer.  

Monday, October 17, 2011

Small Studies with Gwen Marston

The week before last I went to Gwen Marston's Beaver Island Quilt Retreat (week 5).   Each year Gwen generously shares her skills over a five week period,  each week working with about 30 quilters, many of whom return yearly for their "Gwen fix".  This year the topic was small studies.  It focused on  practicing techniques for make various elements and subsequently using those elements to design small quilts, or sketches as Gwen called them.  Gwen recently published a lovely book, 37 Sketches,  showing her small quilts and the thought process behind their creation.

During the retreat, we played with color and sewed skinny curves, spikes, free pieced log cabins, overlapping curved strata, inserts of tiny specks of color, checkerboards etc.  We learned not to be afraid of using little pieces of fabric and to let ourselves experiment with abstract designs. We explored colors we don't often use in quilt making.  We were challenged to think out of the box.

I had a wonderful time exploring and trying new things. I made the following small quilts:

Color Study:  Blue and Green
Color Study:  Brown

 Trees and the shore - made with spikes

I made one more piece, but it isn't quite finished, so I'll save it for another day