All Inclusive

Melanie in IA:

Thought-inspiring discussion of the meaning of our quilting. We don’t need to divide into camps — there is room for ALL of us! Please leave any comments for Sam on her blog. Thanks!

Originally posted on Hunter's Design Studio:

CoExist Stars 2

I recently attended a guild meeting, where the speaker began her talk by making a statement along the lines of “those ugly charity quilts some people make are not art.”

Yeesh. Talk about divide the room.

I’ve been quilting since the late 1980′s, and back then the argument was that if it wasn’t hand pieced, or at least hand-quilted, it wasn’t a quilt, because our grandmothers made them all by hand.

Then in the 1990′s it was art quilting vs. traditional quilting. And now, it seems, the rivalry is modern vs. everything else.

What’s with the US vs. THEM thing? As a Facebook friend remarked last week, she’s so OVER the conversation of whether or not a quilt can be called “modern.”

I can’t help but think that, in this mostly female endeavor, any such divisiveness is just corrosive. Our grandmothers laid the foundation of feminism (in the true sense…

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Drawing Blocks in EQ7

The EQ7 software has so many more capabilities than I use! I use it regularly to try designs for whole quilts, borders, or just color/value combinations. Long ago I drew a block. But with a default library of hundreds of blocks, I’ve rarely wished for more.

As I prep for a Medallion Improv class starting next week (!!!), I wanted a block not available already. I wanted a 16″ carpenter’s wheel that wasn’t based on a LeMoyne star. Instead I wanted it based on a basic variable star. To get that, and a couple of variations, I knew I would need to draw them myself.

It’s another one of those things that isn’t hard when you know how to do it! EQ7 has tutorials for all of their basic functions. Each one I’ve read is clear and easy to follow. So … I took a few minutes this morning to look at the tutorial on block drawing.

And here is my carpenter’s wheel! The construction is much simpler than one with a LeMoyne star center.

Coloring of patches could make a big difference in appearance with a block like this. I think medallion students could have fun making their own unique version.

What do you think? Have you drawn blocks in EQ7? Do you ever design your own blocks? If so, how?

Searching for Inspiration, part 2

Yesterday I showed you a quilt design I played with in EQ7, as I prepare for an upcoming class. This is the design:

60″ square with 16″ star-in-a-star center block. 6 borders.

While I was writing the post I thought of a variation in the final border. The change repeated an earlier element. Sometimes repetition strengthens a design and sometimes it is superfluous. I asked you which one you preferred. For me, it’s close, but I like the variation a little more.

In comments, a couple of readers suggested one more change, and that was to flip the order of the teal and turquoise in the final border.

Here again, one more small change… And I like it just a little bit better.
What do you think? I’d love to hear from you.

Searching for Inspiration

or motivation? Not sure…

I’ve been rather silent lately. Last week Jim and I went to Oklahoma to see our son. Son is in pilot training at Vance Air Force Base, and he recently finished another phase of training. There was a small ceremony to announce what training track the students were assigned to for their next phase. We were able to enjoy some time with him and celebrate his accomplishments.

Once we came back, I focused on preparing for a presentation on the Underground Railroad quilt code. (Blog post coming soon!) I delivered that Wednesday and had a great time. Of course, probably a hundred hours of prep went into a presentation that didn’t last even two hours.

Now I’ve turned my attention to prepping for a class on medallion improvisation. In the class I’ll teach many of the same strategies and design concepts I discussed with you in my Medallion Sew-Along.

My motivation, inspiration, and energy for real-world quilting (and other-worldly blogging) seem to have dissipated. In the meantime, I am having fun designing to get ready for my class. So far I have eight EQ7 illustrations to show how very simple units can work to make an exciting medallion quilt.

Here is a design I worked on this morning. Jim says it reminds him of Easter with its springtime colors.

60″ square with 16″ star-in-a-star center block. 6 borders.

Designing with software allows some experimentation that’s hard to do with real fabric. The only resources you need, besides EQ, is imagination and time. You can test colors, shapes, value differences at the touch of a button. The time involved is a tiny fraction of what it would take to make several versions with real fabric, deciding only afterwards which was your best version. (I do that, too, sometimes. But it is time and labor intensive!)

As I’ve played with these designs, I often use complex shapes or ideas first and then simplify them. I trashed one whole “quilt” this morning before making this. It was too busy and didn’t benefit from the complexity.

What do I like about the one above? The star-in-a-star center is easy but effective. Stars generally work well, in my opinion, because they draw attention to themselves and then point it back out to the borders, helping to unify the whole. The first border of teal flying geese against yellow continues the direction outward.

I was just playing when I made the next border, with its green and turquoise twisted ribbon. The centers of each side are hourglass blocks. The salmon-colored border with 4-patch corners comes next, repeating the salmon from the star center. Also, having the border unpieced except corners gives the eyes a rest, which is important in combination with the complex border that comes next.

The next border actually looks more complicated than it is. I’ve used this several times and am not tired of it yet. The teal, turquoise, fuchsia, and yellow edge is made from hourglass blocks. Pairing the teal and turquoise, basically different values of the same color, gives an illusion of depth. I also like how the fuchsia points, inward and outward, create a frame of their own, similar to how the two borders of salmon do.

I liked that illusion of dimensionality so much, I decided to draw the final border again, incorporating it there, too. Which do you like better? The one above, with a “flatter” final border, or the one below with multiples shades for depth?

Here is one case where making it a little more complex helps, I think.

On both versions, the dots of green continuing to the outside corners provide an accent and repeat the green in the ribbon border. In the same way, the yellow extends from the background of the center star clear to the edges.

Repetition of shape and color, some unexpected elements, and illusions of depth, help to make this design successful.

Thoughts? Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you.

Medallion Improv!

I’m excited to be offering a class beginning on April 24, at one of my favorite local quilt shops. Inspirations, in Hills, IA, will host in Nancy’s wonderful upstairs classroom.

Sparkle. 48″. Finished January 2014.

Join me for five fun weeks learning the tricks of medallion quilts. This design-as-you-go class will show you strategies and techniques to customize a medallion quilt. Whether you love modern style, traditional, or somewhere in between, your imagination and favorite fabrics will create a quilt unique to you!

You’ll learn how to create a center block to serve as your focal point and inspiration; choose and size borders to enhance the center block and each other; and lots of tricks for dealing with color, shape, value, balance, and unity.

This class is for the experienced quilter who isn’t afraid to design her own quilts or change patterns to suit her own vision.

Supplies:
fabrics from new or stash; yardage depends on your design
piecing thread
sewing machine
pins and other basic notions
rotary cutter and rulers
calculator, but don’t let math scare you!

You can find some examples of my medallion creations in my galleries.

Classes will meet from 9:30-11:30 am on Thursdays.
Apr 24, 2014
May 1, 2014
May 8, 2014
May 15, 2014
May 22, 2014

Cost for participants is $60.00 each, which includes all five classes.

For more information or to sign up, contact me at catbirdquilts@gmail.com

One More Idea

I’m still offline. While off, I’ve been sharing some ideas drawn up in EQ7. Please comment! Let me know what you think, what colors you’d use, what layout you might try, how you’d change it to suit you. I promise to respond when I’m back online.

This one is a strippy quilt in the Streak of Lightning format. It measures about 31.5″ x 40″, a good size for a baby quilt. The blocks are 6″, so when turned on point the strips are 8.5″ wide.

Another Idea

Here’s one I designed a couple years ago with a former friend in mind. There’s some mighty bad mojo attached to it. But I still like the design, so I haven’t given up on it completely. (On the other hand, I have given up completely on the former friend.)

As I said before, for the next few days I’ll be mostly offline. Please comment! Let me know what you think, what colors you’d use, how you’d change it to suit you. I promise to respond when I’m back online.

As designed this is 81″ square. The stars and puss-in-the-corner borders are 8″. I’m having trouble getting a color combination I like, but here’s a stab at it.