A Challenge

At some point about midway through retreat last weekend, everyone decided on something to challenge themselves.  Either a sewing skill they had never tried, or one they were uncomfortable with, learning a new craft or technique, or just stepping outside the box.  It’s always good to push yourself a little, right?

Stephanie chose curved piecing using her new Quick Curve Ruler (see those awesome Urban 9 Patch blocks?).  She also brought along an amazing medallion quilt for show-and-tell, and her tiny duffle bag made from Lucy’s Crab Shack scraps was the envy of everyone of us!

Amanda challenged herself to learn how to put in a zipper (taught by Terri).  She quilted her Oatmeal quilt (the entire thing) using the cursive e design, and shared her 36 patch quilt that she was making blocks for at last year’s retreat, and she made the cutest little fabric buckets (we each took one home!):
Cindy flew to Minnesota from California for retreat, along with her favorite Singer Featherweight (ahem.  it’s my favorite, too).  She has the most impressive selvage camera strap–seriously, what a great use of SCRAPS!  And her llama quilt blocks are truly awesome!  Cindy’s husband (a Minnesota native) joined her on Sunday and they were spending the rest of the week driving around Minnesota visiting family.  Cindy challenged herself to try free-motion quilting–and she liked it!

Mary’s challenge was trying crochet, she was teaching herself from a book she won on Cindy’s blog last week–studying and learning with all that activity going on around her!  She brought along an intricate piecing project that she hadn’t touched since February, that’s it in top left photo–she nearly completed the top and my photo does not do it justice!
Terri is back in school, studying graphic art and design.  She doesn’t have a lot of time to sew these days, so she took full advantage of her three days of sewing time.  She made two patchwork rugs, a scrappy pincushion, a tablecloth, table runner, a giant pincushion, a wrist rest and I’m guessing several other items I forgot about already!  I don’t recall what she challenged herself too, but no worries, there was no moss growing on her sewing machine.  😉
Rene flew in from the Pacific Northwest to join us, and brought along three beautiful show-and-tell quilts, including the peace sign quilt same made for her first grandson, who is just a few weeks old.  She worked on a shot cotton quilt, with fussy cut cowboy (and cowgirl!) fabric, and even challenged herself to go 3-D with a pincushion project after some coaxing from the rest of us.
Michelle, Rene’s little sister, joined us again this year from Georgia, and she still claims to be a new quilter, but this girl has made some serious strides!  She even shared a quilt this year (a challenge for her), the mini quilt in aquas and browns that she made for her sister’s birthday, that blew us all away–it’s beautiful!  And the fabric she bought at Grubers last year made a return trip to Minnesota and were turned into some very pretty window blocks.
I worked on my Love in a Mist Bee quilt top (it may actually be a quilt one day), cut oodles of 5″ hexagons for my niece’s quilt (thank you, Go! Cutter), paper-pieced blocks for a table runner from my scraps… and my challenge was to re-learn Adobe Illustrator, or at least enough to make diagrams for the newest quilt pattern.  I was grateful to have Terri in the room to help when I got stuck.  Diagrams drawn and complete!

  • Do you challenge yourself to try new things?
  • What sewing technique would you like to try (if nothing was holding you back)?

Quilts and Inspiration

This is a special post for National Quilting Day 2012 (March 17)

I’m one of those artists that sees inspiration every where I look… are you like that with your quilting inspiration? I’ve blogged about this before, here, and here, how I find inspiration in architecture, nature, color… But these days, I’m seeing more of an “in your face” type of inspiration. Quilting is hot right now, not only is it sort of “cool” to be a quilter (thanks to the internet and modern quilting movement!), you see quilt inspired items in home dec, stationary, sculpture, office furniture and accessories, buildings — dare we call this the decade of the modern quilt? Whether something is constructed or designed with its inspiration coming from quilts, or the design inspires our quilts… doesn’t seem to matter. Pattern and design is everywhere:

Malka photographed this wall outside the Convention Center at Fall Quilt Market (apparently constructed to hide something functional like lighting/wiring):
You can see a modern quilt in buildings themselves…
New interior finishes such as wallpaper and flooring are showing evidence of modern quilting and the new trends for geometrics (wouldn’t you love to have one of these floors in your home?!):
Even in fashion, whether or not we might actually wear it… Rodarte’s 2010 Fashion Week collection was inspired by the aesthetic of the 1930s American plains:

This child’s dress from Baby Gap (summer 2010):

We even saw evidence of the connection with fashion and modern quilting in recent designer collections for Target. I know chevrons aren’t unique to quilting, but when I saw the Missoni for Target collection last fall, all I could see were patchwork designs!

And a personal fave from the fashion category: this patchwork inspired dress which was available in 2010 through the free trade site JohnLewis.com:

Maybe it’s always been there, inspiration for quilt patterns in the geometry of our surroundings, that is… but I can’t help but see a connection between the use of bold geometric graphics and pattern in design in general and the explosion of modern quilting and the geometric trends we are seeing in our craft.

So how abut you, found any sewing or quilting inspiration in unique places lately?

A Diamond in the Rough

Have you ever stumbled across something–a place, an object—something you weren’t expecting to find, that just wowed you–a hidden gem of sorts?  My sweetie and I found one of these gems a few days after we were wed.

We only had a few short days for a mini-honeymoon (we are hoping to make a big trip later this year!) so we drove north, to Red Wing, MN.  The day after we arrived, it was cold and damp (we actually saw snowflakes–in MAY!).  We decided to visit Tower View, an estate built in the early 1900s that now serves as an Artist Residency Program, an alternative high school, an art center, and local meeting space rental. 

The original buildings are amazing… and the sculptures in the garden are wonderful.  The horse above was my favorite; we didn’t walk the entire sculpture garden, as it was just too cold.   Loved this bench, The Courting Bench by Marcia McEachron:

But the true gem?  They have a permanent art collection, which we would not have even seen, if one of the resident artists hadn’t seen us wandering the halls gawking at the photography exhibit that was hanging, and asked “would you like to see our permanent collection, I can go unlock it for you?”  Umm… “yes, please!”  I had no idea…

There were prints by Pablo Picasso, Alexander Calder, Marc Chagall, Willem de Kooning….

Andy Warhol

Man Ray….

and Henri Matisse… just to name a few.

And these are just the pieces I could get a half-way presentable photograph of.  Mostly prints and etching, some sculpture, Calder mobiles… very important works from the 20th century art world.  I have a Master’s Degree in Art History and Museum Studies, so naturally, I was thrilled with this discovery.  My sweetie doesn’t share the same knowledge of these artists, but he was equally blown away that these were just there for the viewing in the basement of this art center in semi-rural Minnesota.  Let this be a lesson to all who scoff at the Midwest and make fun of Minnesota and Iowa (and places like our’s)…you should never judge a book by its cover, or a place by it’s geographic location.   

I leave you with two of my favorite finds of the day, Marc Chagall’s Psalm I

and his beautiful Green Bird

I felt very inspired to go home and create after this discovery…

An Inspired Idea

I recently attended a Tour of Homes in my neighborhood, all were at least 100 years old. I ‘ve always been interested in architecture; ancient, historic, contemporary…you name it. I love architecural details; cornices, gargoyles, spires, shape, color… My surroundings fascinate me in even the smallest ways almost all of the time. I enjoy walking neighborhoods, because I notice details I never see even if I’ve driven by it dozens of times. I spent most of my childhood living in an 1880s home, with a porch like the one below, a stained-glass window in the open stairwell, an etched glass window on one of the exterior doors…and even though I believed the upstairs to be haunted for the first 5-6 years of my life there (I outgrew that belief) I loved the character of that home.
What I noticed in particular on the Tour of Homes were the lovely stained glass windows, both as part of the original architecture of the home…And as salvaged items used as decoration in the homes…They are all sort of quilt-like, aren’t they?
Simple lines…with beautiful colors and patterns…
And, I was totally amazed by these daffodil windows. Incredibly unique.
They sort of look like an applique quilt, don’t they?

I’m thinking I need to make a quilt inspired by the beauty of these windows. Keep your eyes open, for you never when inspiration might strike…

Spring 2009 Virtual Quilt Festival

Amy is hosting a virtual Quilt Show this week. Here is my entry…sure to win Best of Show. (Just kidding, I’m really not that cocky! But since it’s a virtual world…a girl can dream, right?!) I chose this quilt as my entry into Amy’s “Festival” because it was my first true “art quilt” and I truly love how it turned out. The batiks blend together beautifully, I used alot of thread painting and quilting techniques I had not tried before and the overall product is, in my humble opinion, stunning. Here is it’s story:

My sweetie is a major fan of Django Reinhardt, a gypsy jazz musician from Belgium, who died in 1953. In addition to idolizing Django, he plays the guitar (a Martin that he refers to as “The Grail”) and the mandolin. I made him this art quilt for Christmas 2005. The name of the quilt is “Gypsy Django”.
The guitar in the quilt is created from the jazz guitar that Sweetie owned at the time, prior to purchasing The Grail and selling all other “inferior” guitars in his possession. The two mandolins are also his, the inlay one was his grandfather’s, and the “triangular” one he made himself.
This is the mandolin his grandfather owned and played, it’s beautiful, with a mother-of-pearl inlaid butterfly, and m-of-p inlay around the edges and on the neck. It’s a true work of art and is proudly displayed on the mantel.
We aren’t sure how old the mandolin is, or where it came from, but he has this photo of his grandfather (on the left) playing this very mandolin in the very early 20th Century:
The mandolin he made himself hangs on the bedroom wall when not in use.
I used a batik on the back and binding as well. This was my first foray into “creative” quilt labels. Now, go see Amy and enjoy the rest of the “show”! Oh! One more thing…go check out this birthday giveaway:

Monday Mile Marker #6 (#7, and #8!)

So I got a tad behind on my mile posting! A mere three weeks, that’s all. However, I have been recording, I have been racking up miles, I have been working out…just not posting. Apparently.
So, my Monday Mile Marker #6 for the week of September 29-October 5: 11 miles.
#7, for the week of October 6-12: 29 miles…yes, TWENTY-NINE!!!! This was the week of the Quilt Expo…
and Monday Mile Marker #8, for week October 13-19: 18.5 miles.
Perhaps the extra miles are coming easier because I’m enjoying the blessed, beautiful weather of my favorite-albeit-far-too-short season…
Feeling stronger. Feeling healthier. Feeling energized. Feeling Motivated. Feeling Inspired.

Visit Wendy’s blog for more info on the Crafty, Creative & Fit challenge…