Friday Favorites: Artist Kim Eichler-Messmer

I am inspired by so many things, I decided that every Friday, I will highlight a favorite person, thing, or idea. Maybe you will be inspired too! See all past Friday Favorites here.


Kim Eichler- Messmer

After I did my very first dye experiment last week, I immediately reached out to Kim Eichler-Messmer, the author of the book I was using, Modern Color. The projects and techniques in the pages of this book are not the tie-dyed, batik fabric you’ve probably seen before. Definitely not. This is a very current feel and approach to the subject of dyeing fabric. Kim is a very talented colorist and quiltmaker, and the projects she presents in the book show a modern side of dyeing. She breaks down the mystery of fabric dyeing and makes it understandable for all of us. I wanted to know more about her work and thought you’d like to as well. Happy Friday!


Fabric Dyeing

Another thing I played around with last week was fabric dyeing.
fabric dyeing
I have always wanted to try this. I did a very small bleaching experiment a few years ago, but nothing since. And I love the idea of dyeing my own fabric to get a certain color- plus, it’s your own fabric when you dye and create it’s color, right?READ MORE

Friday Favorites: Vintage Quilt Photos

I am inspired by so many things, I decided that every Friday, I will highlight a favorite person, thing, or idea. Maybe you will be inspired too! See all past Friday Favorites here.

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The Eye Has To Travel: Diana Vreeland

Diana Vreeland
While cutting a bazillion little squares out of fabric down in the studio the other day, I treated myself to a viewing of Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has To Travel on Netflix. Those that know me know I love a documentary about anything, but if its fashion, even better. Having worked for several years in the industry, and being obsessed with fashion for most of my life, I have always thought of Diana Vreeland as a true visionary, a tastemaker, and a highly opinionated fashionista.

sd evans Quilts

Season Evans

Friend and fellow Seattle Modern Quilt Guild member Season Evans has a beautiful new collection of quilts. I am so in love with these quilts and was thrilled to hear that she will have an opening reception showcasing these pieces at Drygoods Design on Saturday, October 12 at 6pm. She was sweet enough to answer my prying questions about her work, and thought we’d all enjoy what she has to say.
Season Evans

Migration, Flying Geese Variation

Blair- What immediately came to my mind when I saw your new collection of quilts were the words “soft” and “strong“. I love that they are quiet in their palette and design, yet graphically strong. How did you go about developing these new quilts? Are you a sketcher and a planner, or do you prefer to start sewing and playing with design all at the same time?
Season- I like your use of the words ‘soft’ and ‘strong.’ I’ve never quite articulated it that way. I’m attracted to juxtapositions and I tend to always have that in mind when I’m designing a quilt. I am definitely a planner. I like control – or, at least, starting out in control. I always draw out my quilts to scale on graph paper. Then, I cut and start constructing. Usually, at the constructing stage do I allow myself to ‘let go’ a bit. The “Red + White” quilt  (pictured below)started out a completely different quilt on paper. I cut out all of the triangles, pieced most of them together, and then started to put them on my design wall. Just putting a few of the triangles on the wall made me realize I was heading in the wrong direction. So, I started over with the new pieces. The design wall can be a frightening and liberating quilting tool. I was constantly questioning the new design (with the R+W quilt) versus the original plan but I made the right choice at the time. There’s always a chance I’ll go back to the original. Plus, I have the rest of the pieces cut out.

Season Evans
Red and White, diagonal triangle variation

Blair- I love the textiles you use for your quilts… the yukata cotton and linens in particular, they really give so much texture to the surface of your work. Do you have a large collection of fabrics? Or does the fabric- when you acquire it- help inspire the design?
Season- Texture has become increasingly important to how I think about quilts. I always want them to be soft enough to use; however, with my minimal use of color, I am always looking for more depth or interest, which the texture provides without adding too much more to the look of the quilt. Generally, I start out thinking about color. From there, I look for fabrics that fit my plan for the quilt and my personal taste. I don’t keep a stash of fabrics. I do have some extra fabrics and a lot of scraps but I don’t plan my quilts from them. For me, fabrics tend to come with a connotation. If I buy fabrics without having project in mind, the connotation becomes that moment. Then, as they sit in my stash, that connotation changes, then I change, and that may not match the idea I have for my next quilt.

Season Evans
Library Steps, courthouse steps variation

Blair- There is a lot of negative space in your quilts, which can be made really special with the quilting you choose. Do you quilt all your own quilts?
Season- I do quilt my own quilts. I enjoy that part of the process but I find it one of the most difficult choices to make in designing a quilt. Because of the amount of negative space that I use in my quilts, I find that an all over quilt design usually doesn’t fit my style. I try to use designs that highlight the graphics of the quilt as well as adding another layer of texture. The quilting a struggle for me because both the negative space and the design are both so important and I try to balance those in the quilting.

Season Evans

Gravity, roman stripes variation

Blair- Where do you quilt, do you have a space that’s all yours? Or a shared space?
Season- I’ve always quilted in a shared space. I used to dream of having a space of my own (and I’ll admit sometimes I still do) but I like being around my family. We live in a older craftsman house with a lot of small rooms – we essentially have two small living rooms. We use the second living room as a space to share and create. My husband has his desk and computer and my kids have all of their crafts and games in there, too. It’s nice to have my daughters around when I’m working and they certainly have opinions about the quilts! I’ve begun to take up more and more of that room: a long folding table and one of the closets. My favorite part of the room is the picture rail. I hang my design wall there as well as finished quilt tops. It gives me a lot of room to take a step back and really see the quilt as a whole.

Season EvansGravity, back view

Blair- One of my many favorite aspects of your quilts are their backs. They are a surprise “punch” of pattern and color and I love that they work in contrast so well to the fronts. I know I often struggle with what the back of my quilts should be, sometimes I even feel like I’m designing a whole new quilt just for the back! What’s your design process for this aspect of your quilts?
Season- I, too, feel like I’m designing a new quilt on the back! The quilt backs are where I let myself lose a little bit of control. I always start with color, particularly the main color of the quilt top, and then build out from there. For the “Migration” quilt, I started with the vintage yukata cotton. The horizontal blue stripe was a good contrast to the vertical lines of the front. From that print I pulled the browns, etc. The back is also where I add a lot of textured fabrics. I generally just piece larger blocks of color together like Tetris or a puzzle until everything seems to fit.
Blair- Who and what are your inspirations?
Season- I grew up in Southeastern Pennsylvania, surrounded by Mennonite and Amish communities. My grandmother taught me to sew when I was about eight but I didn’t teach myself to quilt until I was in college. I went to college in rural Pennsylvania, where quilts could be bought out of barns and roadside stands. The juxtaposition of simple beauty and utilitarian craftsmanship of those traditional quilts and quilting style was very influential and continues to be. After college, I left quilting for writing, but returned to quilting when I had my oldest daughter. I was living in Philadelphia at the time and still thought I could only quilt with calicos. I discovered Denyse Schmidt about the same time that a Gees Bend exhibit came to the Philadelphia Museum of Art. That was when I realized I was in a bit of quilting bubble – so much more was happening with quilting, fabric, and their relationship to art and design. When I moved to Seattle, I discovered the Modern Quilt Guild. (My local chapter is a constant source of inspiration – I am fortunate to be able to sew with so many talented quilters.) I’m continually inspired modern quilters/quilt artists: Yoshiko Jinzenji, Maura Ambrose, Luke Haynes, Lindsay Stead, Meg Callahan, and Kathryn Clark are people who can do amazing things with fabric. Yet, when I’m thinking about a quilt design I can’t help but go back to my more traditional influences.
Season’s quilt collection is available on her site, SD Evans quilts.  If you can, be sure and see her quilts up close and personal at Drygoods Design on Saturday, October 12.
Thank you so much Season!

Part Two- A personal diy project- me and exercise

Thank you so much for the comments on part one of this post. I knew I wasn’t alone in my thinking. (You can read part one here).
So, after all the complaining in that first post, you may wonder, as Mariko does, if I indeed was out running all last week and couldn’t sit down and write this post until today. Right after I took my thumbs out of the thumbholes of my running jacket.
Well, I can tell you with absolute certainty that not only did not happen, probably never will.

So. Exercise. At my age, I just didn’t think I could avoid it anymore. I had to do something. For real this time. No more excuses.

But what was a wanting to accomplish? (Sorry, I’m a list maker.) My immediate thoughts were:
– improve bone density and ward off osteoperosis
– increase my metabolism (I LIKE DESSERT!)
– strengthen my heart.
– improve my balance and posture, work on my core strength (an area that I feel is very weak).

Also, knowing myself as I do, I needed to consider these points:
– exercise that requires a minimum time investment was going to be key, I am not going to invest a lot mentally (and financially) into this whole fitness thing. I know it has to be done, but I know what to expect of myself.
– the activity I choose can do any time of the year (Blair won’t exercise outside in the rain).

So. I actually have Betz to thank and I don’t think I’ve told her till now. She mentioned one day on twitter that she was doing the Jillian Michael’s “30 Day Shred” DVD at home, and I decided to order a copy for myself to try out (fits in perfectly with the minimum investment part). The workouts are designed as 20 minute (actually the full workout is more like 25-ish minutes with warm up and cool down) interval training- short burst of cardio movement combined with strength training intervals.
I started doing it the same day I got it. Right in our family room, with my 2 kids watching me. And occasionally commenting (I seriously wanted to knock them both out).
I nearly died. But Jillian told me I wouldn’t and I actually didn’t!
I came back and did it the next day, even though I had to take Advil for muscle aches first. (25 minutes Blair… 25 minutes….). And the next day. And the next day.
I have been doing this 6 days every week since June. 
I have rationalized, both in my head and out loud, that I can do most anything for 25 minutes (I mean, childbirth was HOURS!). I can work hard as hell and push myself as hard as I possibly can, and pour sweat from every pore, because I know it will be done in 25 minutes. I don’t feel that I really did the work if I’m not sweating profusely. I still don’t like to sweat, but it’s a little gauge I use in my head.

For the first time, things are happening to my body.
I am not writing this post as a spokesperson for Jillian Michaels. In fact, since that first DVD purchase, I have researched and bought several other interval training workout videos to keep it all from getting too routine. It’s more like I’m a spokesperson for interval training. (If you are wondering if interval training is for you, do a search on YouTube for “interval training” to try some workouts before committing to purchasing DVD’s.) Through short, intense spurts of interval training, I have managed to strengthen my core (which must have been the weakest on Earth) and strengthen my heart. I now stand straighter and don’t feel short of breath when I run upstairs. I sleep better. Without losing a pound, several weeks ago I went to Anthropologie and realized I’d lost an ENTIRE CLOTHING SIZE. I must have texted everybody I knew from that dressing room!

Coming from a non-athletic exerciser who does it simply because she has to:
Compartmentalize exercise. I will never be the sort of person who’s physical activity defines them. I do not live for it. Now I know that I can get up, put on workout clothes, put in my half hour of full on exercise, then be done with it and put it aside for the day. “Putting it in its proper place” in my brain works for me. I thrive on rituals, so that’s another reason why it works for me. It seems like some of you think this way too.
Don’t be afraid of physical activity. As I’ve already said, I do not feel the least bit “sporty”. (I don’t even really love being outdoors.) Sometimes, it’s simply enough to feel like I’m moving beyond my normal everyday activity.
Work to find that one activity that you can stick with. Everybody says this, but its really kinda true. I have attempted yoga several times in my life, thinking that it’s perfect for a non-mover like myself. But I never stuck with it. The time investment for an hour-long class versus the benefits I was feeling just didn’t add up for me. (Interestingly, I might actually get something more out of yoga today, at the fitness level I’m at now). After many false starts I realized that a minimum amount of time with big results were what I could do.
Fitness can benefit us non-athletes in unexpected ways. Today, I was mopping our tile bathroom floor. I walked out for a few minutes and, without remembering the floor was wet, went quickly back into the bathroom. My feet went flying out from under me and I fell on the wet tile. HARD. Now, a fall like that six months ago would have probably left me stunned, possibly hurt, and sitting down to recoup (because this exact fall has happened before- I never learn). But today, I got right back up, in fact I practically bounced up. I realized that it was a combination of my muscles supporting stronger bones that helped me avoid a potential injury. Although I may have a nasty bruise, I didn’t skip a beat. That is progress, people.
It may not noticeably relieve your stress. Silly me, but I expected some zen-like peace while I was putting my body through the rigors of exercise. Like my shoulders would magically unkink, my head would be clear to tackle the day, all that. But in reality, I am still thinking about the day ahead the entire time I’m exercising, at times I’ve even anxious to finish because I’ve got to do this.. and this… and this… Another reason getting all this done in 25 minutes is so wonderful. ANYTHING can wait 25 minutes. If I am having a stressful day, I don’t run for my handweights (don’t even think about it, really). I’m not there yet, but I’m sticking with it. I have a feeling the stress relief part will not really show itself to me until I have to go without exercising for a period of time. Until then…

So, in conclusion.
I will still not go for a run with you. I still don’t want physical exercise to cut into my time in the studio, and would probably choose making art all day over a hike in the woods (maybe…). But I’m giving myself and my body a fighting chance to be fit and strong. Having always been independent, self-sufficient, and mentally strong, I am now starting to feel that way physically as well.
I am writing all this not to boast in any way (and if you’ve read this far, thank you!) but to share a struggle that I think many of us go through. I don’t know that I have kicked my own personal struggle completely, but I have reset something in my brain, and have a new appreciation for what my own body can do.
Thank you all so much for sharing your thoughts on this whole subject!

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