Quilters Lead Pieceful Lives.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Scrap Lap

A simple lap quilt, made from scraps, at the request of my mother-in-law, Pauline. Click here for more pictures.

But wait! This quilt contains a 3-part mystery...hidden in plain sight.
First: What is the nature of the mystery?
Second: What does it mean?
Third: Why does it have that meaning.

Anyone should be able to figure out the first two parts of the mystery; only family members will be able to answer the third question (hint, hint!).

Please submit your entries to my email address (wsrhodes@gmail.com) - not as a comment on this post - by midnight December 31st.

I will pick two winners (one for questions 1 and 2, one for #3) at random from the thousands of correct entries. Each winner will receive a morsbag! I will also post the answers.

This four-patch pattern will also be used in my next beginners classes this spring (without the mystery component!). If you are interested in attending, drop me a line.

Da-da-da-da-da-dee-da!!!!! The answer to the mystery:

As indicated in the quilt's name, this is a scrap quilt. That means that all of the pieces were taken from fabric used in other quilts. The color palette was red and blue and purple. The various fabrics are used randomly throughout the 4-patch blocks. However, in the 3 highlighted rows there are some odd-looking smaller orange pieces. See them? Why are they there? Those orange pieces are the separators for the red and blue pieces that make up the mystery message. You will notice (if you look closely) that the red and blue fabrics adjoining those orange fabrics are used nowhere else in the quilt (except, as a subliminal reinforcement, in the inner and outer borders).

Notice the relative sizes of those red and blue pieces. If we "translate" them to words they would be:
square (orange separator) rectangle (separator) rectangle (separator) square
rectangle (separator) rectangle
rectangle (separator) square (separator) square (separator) square

By now, you may have deduced that this is Morse Code (part 1 of the mystery).

In more common terminology then, the message is:
dot (space) dash (space) dash (space) dot
dash (space) dash
dash (space) dot (space) dot (space) dot

Decoded, this becomes: P M B. So the quilt contains my mother-in-law's initials. (part 2 of the mystery).

But in the third part of the mystery I asked why it has this meaning?

Here is the answer: At Thanksgiving in 1995 Pauline happened to mention that she had no middle name. Her parents never gave her one when she was born. And she had always felt bad about that, as if she was missing something. So, unbeknownst to her, her 9 grandchildren (at that time) decided to rectify this gross omission. They got together and discussed some possibilities, and reached a consensus.

And on January 29, 1996, her 64th birthday, they happily presented her with their gift - a middle name. On that day she was finally christened: Pauline Margaret Baron.

And now you know the rest of the story!

Winners: um....no one got the answer. Only Pauline guessed that it was Morse Code, but could not decipher it. So the morsbags will go back in the prize closet until next time.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Look What's Outside My Windows! #2

The second time I have used this pattern (see April entry). This one is for a friend of my sister-in-law, and has a different set of whimsical animals.

Here's the front....

...and the back.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Baby Elephant Walk

Our friends Mardelle and Jim just had a new grandson, Cameron. His parents, Lauren and Mike, requested an elephant themed quilt. We found these great elephant fabrics, but couldn't decide which to use. Solution? A 2-sided quilt!

Side 1:
Side 2:
Cameron joins sister Grace, who is still enjoying her Rain Forest quilt.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

It's A Blue World, Max

Aunt Max loves blue (and so do I), so she asked me to make a quilt for her bed. The pattern has some similarities to Storm at Sea, since there are only straight cuts, but the angles make them appear to be circles. I designed this one so that the circles seem to overlap.

The quilt is 79x86 (double bed size). Each square is 6.5" (6" finished). It is actually paper-pieced, but I used 3 templates to cut the pieces to save wasted fabric. So each square is made of 2 halves (on a slight diagonal). Each half has 6 pieces made up of a combination of the 3 template shapes.

This quilt is special not only because it is for Aunt Max, but it also happens to be my 100th quilt!

And, here is another contest: What is the origin of the name of this quilt? If you know it (that means you may NOT look on the internet), please comment here or email me. I will pick randomly from all correct entries sent by midnight (Central) August 27th. Of course, the winner gets a morsbag!!!

Here is the answer: It is based on a line in the 1968 animated Beatles movie "Yellow Submarine". If you're too young to remember or have never seen it, it is a really fun movie. And the winner: My son Andrew!!! He knew the source. Second place goes to my daughter Emily (she knew it had something to do with the Beatles). They are the only two who came even remotely close. And no, this was not rigged!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Sweetie Pie II

I did the original Sweetie Pie in July, 2010. My friend Mari loved it so much she asked me to make another one for new niece Skyler!

This is the sixth baby quilt, and ninth overall for Mari and husband Dennis.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Reflections (aka Visualize Whirled Peas)

Talk about pushing the envelope! This quilt goes in so many new directions (pun intended!).

First: the design. This particular pattern, and the 3D scrolls technique, come from "3-D Explosion...Simply FABULOUS Art Quilt Illusions" by Cara Gulati. In this book, Cara explains how to start with a simple "S" shape and add perspective lines to make a scroll. Adding and/or repeating scrolls builds the design. Appropriate use of colors and patterns (especially the stripes) enhances the 3D effect. Sharp-eyed readers will notice that the primary striped fabric is the same one I used in my previous quilt (the attic windows). All of the rest came from my stash!

Next: There is no piecing involved! That's right! Until I got to the quilting phase, I never went near my sewing machine. Cara builds her designs using a combination of freezer paper, glue stick, and machine applique using invisible thread. Since I really don't like to do applique, I took a slightly different approach.

Background: In March I visited the Visions Art Museum in San Diego. There I purchased the book "free expression...the art and confessions of a contemporary quilter" by Robbi Joy Elkow. For Robbi, it's all about the designs, the colors, and the quilting. She definitely does not like to sew hundreds of pieces together. Once she has the design, she cuts the distinct pieces to make templates (exactly like Cara does), but then she use fusible webbing to fuse the pieces together. No stitching! No applique! Then, heavy quilting. Her reasoning is that these pieces are meant to be hung, so there is no need to worry about the raw edges.

As I contemplated making one of Cara's quilts, I realized that I could use the fusing (and other techniques) from Robbi's book! So I was able to take the best of both approaches to create this quilt.

Now, most of you probably know that I consider quilting to be the least important design element of my quilts. It is almost entirely functional (to hold the quilt sandwich together), and I almost always use thread colors to match the fabrics so that the quilting is basically invisible. These 3D patterns are perfect for that mentality! Once again, here I followed Robbi's advice and quilted each piece in a way that mimicked the shape of that piece. So the quilting is both semi-invisible and highlights / reinforces the scrolls at the same time! And it is critical that the quilting go to the edges of the pieces (a faux applique!) so that they are tacked down thoroughly. Though I do a lot of free-motion quilting, as I was doing this piece, I felt for the first time that I was actually "painting" with the thread!

The final oddity: At the Visions Art Museum I saw a number of art quilts that were mounted on wooden stretcher bars (just as a painting on canvas would be). How perfect for this piece and any of Cara's 3D designs. These works are like canvases and the designs are meant to pop off the background. I am always a bit dismayed when my quilts do not hang straight and flat on the wall. The stretchers also solve this problem. And, since the piece is stretched around the bars, there is no need for a border nor a binding!

To see more pictures which go through the entire process of making this quilt, click here

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Look What's Outside My Windows!

For Lydia! Cute snails and mushrooms outside your "windows"!

This is the fifth baby quilt (nieces and nephews), and eighth quilt overall for my friend Mari.

Unusual in this one is that the border threads are variegated on the top (to blend with the striped border), and pink on the back (to blend there).

Monday, April 25, 2011

Wondrous Waves

Got a commission to make a queen-size bed quilt. The charge was to make something colorful that was reminiscent of flowers and nature. Originally we were going to do something like "Shana's Choice". But when we got to Quilter's Heaven we saw a different pattern, "Eureka" by Maple Island Quilts. Though the pattern is for a lap quilt, we decided this was the one! So I scaled it up, we picked wonderful fabrics, and here is the result:

Since it was so big, I pieced and quilted it in quarters. The quilting was done in the ditch (just along the long edges) with clear monofilament thread. Thus it is practically invisible. Then the quarters were joined.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Sari Safari

Last December we traveled to India. It was a fantastic experience! We saw many amazing things, ate lots of delicious food, and met many wonderful people. We also had the opportunity to ride an elephant and a camel.

As I did in Japan and Thailand, I was fortunate to be able to purchase some locally made fabrics. Some were at a store in Jaipur, the rest came from the "Ganesh Handicraft" store in Udaipur (thanks, Mona!). What an amazing place! The walls were covered with quilts of every size, color and pattern. Here are some of them:

So I took these as my inspiration to make a quilt that captured the essence of India as well as our personal experience there. Thus the camels and elephants!

The fabrics I purchased were cotton and a very coarse, open-weave raw silk (I really only wanted cotton, but Ganesh only carried the silk). The silk has a beautiful sheen to it, but it was very difficult to work with. Had I known that up front, I might not have made the paper-pieced animals.

I ditch quilted it using gold metallic thread. This is the same type of thread that is in the red medallion fabric, and it also reinforces the sheen of the silk.

Click to see other views.

And, to see our India photo album click here. It is best if you do "slide show", "full screen", "one page at a time". Then you can read the captions better.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Through A Glass Darkly

This is a very unusual quilt for a number of reasons:

First, the idea. It came from a picture of a rug (below) that I noticed in a magazine while we were in Healdsburg, California for my mom’s and sister’s birthday party in 2005. I liked the playful, condensed block of colors against the larger, dark background.

Next, the design. Obviously, the quilt could not be anywhere near as large as an actual area rug. I figured that about 40” x 60” would work. So there had to be enough repeats in the center medallion to produce the intended affect, but overall it had to be small enough to allow for a large background and border and still fit into the desired size. Additionally, the colored rectangular mini-blocks had to be designed so that each had a slight tilt. Then, there are the smaller square blocks in the alternating rows, and a thin sashing strip that separates them (the vertical sashing is incorporated into the mini-blocks). The fabric for the main background is actually black with some dark blue highlights (hard to see, but they really are there). This was done to add some interest and avoid a dull, flat looking expanse without directly moving the focus from the center. The goal was to make the medallion “pop” both visually - through the colors-on-black, and physically - because it is actually floating above the background’s surface!

Then, the execution. This is the most unusual aspect of this piece. It is actually a quilt on a quilt! First, the medallion: The mini-blocks were pieced and cut as regular rectangles. Then I used a template at an angle to create the tilt. And, in a very rare approach (for me at least), I pressed the seams open. This was done to avoid extra bulk in the mini-blocks and also to minimize the visibility of the seam lines. The blocks were then assembled into rows and joined to the sashing and the square-block rows. The medallion was then made into a sandwich with batting and a piece of muslin. The top, bottom, and side sashings were intentionally left large so that they could be folded to the back and whipstitched in place. Then the entire piece was set aside.

I did not want any seams to mar the expanse of the background, so it was cut from one single piece of fabric. The borders, batting, and back were added as if this were a regular quilt top. I then stiple quilted in wavy black lines to mimic and reinforce the back-and-forth motion of the mini-blocks. The binding and sleeve finished off this part of the project.

The medallion set was then centered and ditch quilted on top of the larger quilt.

Finally, the name. Once again, I am at a loss for what to call this piece. So I am calling on everyone to be creative and come up with an appropriate (and unusual?) name. Submit as many entries as you want (along with an explanation if necessary). The winner will get a morsbag in the color of their choice.

And what’s not unusual about this quilt? It will hang in Pauline’s apartment of course!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Bill's Choice

A few month's ago I made a wall-hanging for my friend Shana. Her friend Bill saw it and liked it so much that he asked for a similar piece in shades of blue. Thus was born "Bill's Choice"!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Seussical the Quiltical

My daughter Emily's friends Melanie and Ken were expecting their first child in late September. She suggested we make a quilt for them. Melanie is a BIG Dr. Seuss fan, so we looked for some Dr. Seuss fabric and found what you see below (there were more fabs to choose from but we narrowed it down to these 8). Then we had to come up with a pattern. We decided that a 9-patch would be good, but couldn't find a way to use all the fabrics.

Em then suggested that we do something on the back instead of the usual "one piece of fabric".
We eventually came up with this:

So the quilt really has two "front" sides and no "back"!
Em did most of the cutting and stitching. I did the quilting and the binding.
Melanie did her part and baby Avery was born on September 30th.

Emily gave the quilt to Mel and Ken and Avery when she visited NOLA last week. It was a big hit!
Check out more pix!