This is the disappearing nine patch quilt I started back in October. As happens with so many other projects, once the blocks were done, but not yet assembled, I had to take them down from the design wallto work on other things. Once I saw a minute to work on this quilt, I pulled out them blocks. They were a snap to put together (it helped that I took a photo of the layout on the wall before I took it down). In the original how-to, I set up several layouts of these blocks, but in the end I love this one because of the dimensional effect of the two smaller blocks appearing to be one block behind the other two blocks.READ MORE
Talking with Erin last week got me in the mood to some quilting, but I wasn’t sure where to start. Inspiration is always in my head, but too much and I’m frozen. So I decided to get back to basics. The disappearing nine patch block has been around for a while, but I wanted to document my process here. So many who claim to not have the skills to make a quilt could easily create this block, and its a very satisfying sew. I used a charm pack of Denyse Schmidt’s newest line, Florence, 1/2 yard or so of one of the prints in this range that reminded me of boxer shorts (actually, the whole range reminds me of boxer shorts!). I wanted dark centers in each of the nine patch blocks, so I used another Denyse Schmidt print (coincidence, but all her prints do work together well) in dark blue for each of the centers. Making the center of each block darker valued will create some continuity later on, but this is not a hard and fast rule. You could make every single square in your nine patch blocks a different fabric. Play with low and high volume prints. Experiment! That’s what this block is all about. Here’s how to do it.READ MORE
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.
Erin and I have known each other for a long time in blog world years, and she’s a creative inspiration to me and many others. She seems to have limitless amounts of energy and she’s fun to hang out with in person too! When she asked me to interview me for her first book, there wasn’t a moment of hesitation. QuiltEssential, A Visual Directory of Contemporary Patterns, Fabrics, and Color is a quilter’s first stop. Folks who know quilting from the “outside” may confused by the special language quilters have. And there is a special language, believe me. Erin covers lots of ground level techniques and terms in this book, giving the sewer the knowledge to know where and how to start. Beautiful photographs, inspiring images, and practical information sprinkled throughout the book. Everything you need to know to make your quilt your own is here.
And because I’m nosey, I asked Erin some questions about her book. And because she’s nice, she agreed. Grab your coffee and settle in!
You just never know where inspiration will come from…
So, the Sunshine Medallion quilt pattern. It's fun for me to revisit old patterns with fresh eyes, and I've been wanting to try this one in a completely different color palette for a while now. But the first palette of yellows, grays, and creams felt so right, I just wasn't sure what direction to go in with new colors. This dilemma was rolling around in my head at the same time I was going through a file cabinet in my studio. I came across an old image I'd torn from a Martha Stewart magazine. I haven't look in that folder in ages, but when I saw that tear sheet I knew I had my color palette.
Except for a plum and blue shot cotton, everything came from my stash. This time I made the crib size, which conveniently uses only 1 yard of each color.
For the back and binding, I used a printed fabric I'd bought secondhand several months ago. I fall hard for little ditsy flower patterns, and I especially love it on the back of such a modern-feeling quilt. Sort of a Holly-Hobby-meets-Jonathan-Adler-ish scenario.
I quilted this one in the same diagonal pattern as the original version, but machine-stitched this time, instead of hand-quilting.
I am in the process of updating the Sunshine Medallion Quilt downloadable pattern completely, with updated instructions, tips, links, and information. it should be back in the shop in the next couple of days. (For those who have purchased this digital pattern from me in the past and are interested in the updated version, please email me and I will send you a new copy when they are ready to go, I should have a record of your original purchase.)
Have a great weekend everyone! The kids have a 3 day weekend and I have a feeling we'll be in full Halloween costume-making mode.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
This was a fun project I’ve been working on, in those spare moments when my hands were idle but time was limited. A mini-quilt (17 1/2″ x 21), done in step-down piecing, a fun patchwork technique to learn. It is clearly explained in Sarah Fielke’s book Quilting From Little Things… As the name implies, there isn’t really any way to piece this pattern straight across or straight up and down, so you “step down” piece by leaving a seam half sewn until you fit the next piece in. Sarah explains it much better than that. A fun project if you enjoy any kind of puzzles (and I do). I hand quilted the X’s with various colors of perle cotton.
The larger squares came from a charm pack of Denyse Schmidt’s Chicopee line, I love the light and dark contrasts in this line. The smaller squares are from Carolyn Friedlander’s Architextures line.
As I was working on this, I have-jokingly referred to it as “the state of my desk”.
Actually that’s not really a joke at all.
Please notice my razor sharp binding corners…
Please pardon the lapse in regular postings while I get two kids ready for new schools (middle and high school, people!) in just a matter of days. We are back to school shopping, cleaning out closets, going to orientations, and trying to get the last bits out of our summer.
But in the midst of it all I did finish a quilt!
Don’t ask me why I had this idea…to make some sort of Halloween-inspired quilt…for years. But I have. I’m not even all that crazy about Halloween. I could actually take it or leave it. I know so many that live for Halloween. Maybe that’s why I wanted to do a quilt. Decorating for a holiday like Halloween is the best part of it for me. So I made a Day of the Dead quilt.
Anyway, all the Halloween fabric currently out in the market didn’t feel quite right, and I didn’t want to do just solids, so I’ve put it off for a long time. And then I came across Alexander Henry’s Midnight Pastoral. I suddenly dropped everything I was working on and began furiously searching the internet to find enough of the black/cream to make something, anything (local shops didn’t seem to have it). I go weak for a good toile, in most of its forms. But this. THIS!
I wanted the quilt to feel a little formal, with consistent structure to the blocks, and still feature the toile pattern as much as possible. And be fairly quick to go together too! This is just a very simple snowball block. The toile was cut into 6 1/2 ” squares, a size which featured most of the pastoral scenes wells. At first, I fussy cut (carefully cut out specific areas of the print) to keep the images in the center of the block, but later gave up on that to save fabric I later and just started to cut across the width, not thinking about where the print fell within each block. Because of that, there are blocks with lots more of the cream ground and I like the movement it gives throughout the quilt top.
But even within it’s structure, this quilt needed some lightness too; Day of the Dead/Dia de los Muertos is a celebration, after all. And that’s where the Kona solids in Halloween/Fall/Day of the Dead-inspired colors came in. I drew a simple graph to color in and used it to distribute the colors throughout the quilt. (Those Kona color cards are so handy.)