Tag Archives: textiles

Quilts From Central Asia

Last month Jim and I traveled across northern Nebraska and through Wyoming to Yellowstone National Park. We’ve posted several times about our 3,000 mile road trip in our joint blog, Our View From Iowa.

When we returned, we dropped south into Colorado before driving across southern Nebraska. For our route, the most convenient way to cross the Missouri River is on I-80 at Omaha. To get that far, we went through Lincoln, NE, home of the International Quilt Study Center & Museum.

A few days before, Jim asked me if I wanted to stop at the museum on the way by. Well, YEAH! I visited the museum with my sister a few years ago and was glad for the opportunity to go back.

The current exhibits included four small galleries, none of which drew my interest. Besides the small exhibits, a large gallery displayed dozens of quilts and other textiles from Central Asia.

It’s easy (for Americans!) to believe that quilting has its origins in the US, and is primarily an American craft. But people quilt all over the world and have since early textile history. The quilts in this exhibit show the beauty of a quilting tradition with which we’re less familiar.

The items on display played many functions. There were household objects, such as bedding and wall-hangings to decorate the interior of yurts. Some clothing for children had triangle motifs to bestow protection from danger. And horse “blankets” would dress up the plainest horse. Here are just a few of the many objects. Click on any picture to open BIG in a new tab.

Patchwork and embroidered wall hanging from southern Kyrgyzstan, mid-20th century. Note the combination of pineapple and other blocks in the outer borders. Also see how the HST are a little unpredictable.

We missed the label on this one. See the asymmetry with the extra border on left side. Also the placement of blocks is asymmetrical. Some of the blocks are unpieced ikat.

Patchwork hanging from Uzbekistan, mid-20th century. The tiniest flying geese I’ve ever seen. See how the corner blocks differ on all these miniature pieces of the bigger quilt.

Patchwork hanging from Uzbekistan, mid-20th century. So intricate! And note the background setting triangles for each of the blocks. Have you ever been so bold?

Wholecloth ikat quilt, Uzbekistan mid-20th century. I want this…

Embroidered quilt, Uzbekistan, late 19th-century. This reminds me of Indian coverlets from the 1700s.

I could have spent a lot more time looking at these beautiful pieces. But the road called and we headed home.

Tree of Life Times Two

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Cathie’s “Fantasy of the Squirrels” on the left. My “Garden Party” on the right. Click on the picture to open it larger in a new tab.

One of the things I love about quilting is how two quilters can interpret a pattern or an idea completely differently. The photo above shows two quilts made using the center panel designed by Julie Paschkis. My sister Cathie made the one on the left side of the picture. I made the one on the right. Frankly, I think they are both terrific.

If you click on the picture, you’ll see the details of both quilts better. With hers, I love the way the split-striped border creates movement with the light/dark bars’ contrasts. Those contrasts are offset by the soft brown on either side. The triangle points extend the center outward, giving it even more presence. The outside border is a leaf print of blues, greens, and black swirling through, continuing the “fantasy” of the center, and playing well with the green and black print that squares the center. She repeats both the reds and blacks from the center with the corner four-patches, adding to the unity of the design.

In mine the colors are more saturated, the value contrasts stronger. This is a typical difference of how she and I work.

I enjoyed seeing the finished quilts side by side.

 

 

Cotton — Printing Designs

Last time I showed you batik production. Today I thought you might be interested in printed cotton production. It is a largely automated process, rather than with such intensive manual labor like batiks.

There are two videos below. The first one is from Robert Kaufman and lasts less than 10 minutes. It gives an overview of the printing process. It includes recognition of design and the interaction of the U.S. offices with printing factories in Japan and Korea. There is no narration but there are a few captions and some pleasant music.

The second one is almost 19 minutes long, and includes narrated detail about the factory process. Fabric preparation (after weaving), printing, and finishing are included. If you have time, I think this one is more informative. If you have a half hour, you may enjoy both.

If you’d like to read my posts on quilting as a business, you can find them here:

Cotton — Where Does Your Fabric Come From?
Cotton — What Happens After Harvest?
Cotton — Weaving Fabric
Cotton — Batik Production
Cotton — Printing Designs

Quilting for Pay — The Longarm
Conversations with Artists
Price vs. Value of a Quilt, Part 1
Price vs. Value of a Quilt, Part 2
You Should Write Patterns
“It Feels Weird Asking for Pay”
Pay for Quilters (And other Crafters and Artists)
You Should Sell Those: A Play in Three Short Scenes, With Commentary

Cotton — Batik Production

Do you use batiks in your quilts? Their beautifully illuminated colors and organic designs work well for many quilt patterns. The firm, smooth texture makes applique easy with little fraying. Their potential for bleeding in the wash scares me a bit, though, and I don’t use them a lot.

But they do work well in some projects. When I use them, I mix them with solids, traditional florals and geometrics, and more contemporary prints. For me, batiks are just one more way to obtain the colors I want.

Below are two different videos. One is a short video by Hoffman showcasing the creation of batiks in Bali. The other is about Moda batiks and takes about 17 minutes. I do not know if it is officially a Moda video. It shows the process in Indonesia. Neither video includes narration, so if you don’t like the music, you can mute the sound.

Both videos show how incredibly labor intensive batiks are, with multiple hand applications of dyes and resists. If you have time, you may find both very interesting. I won’t make any claims about the safety of conditions for workers, but it did give me pause.

If you’d like to read my posts on quilting as a business, you can find them here:

Cotton — Where Does Your Fabric Come From?
Cotton — What Happens After Harvest?
Cotton — Weaving Fabric
Cotton — Batik Production
Cotton — Printing Designs

Quilting for Pay — The Longarm
Conversations with Artists
Price vs. Value of a Quilt, Part 1
Price vs. Value of a Quilt, Part 2
You Should Write Patterns
“It Feels Weird Asking for Pay”
Pay for Quilters (And other Crafters and Artists)
You Should Sell Those: A Play in Three Short Scenes, With Commentary

Cotton — Weaving Fabric

Earlier this month I began a series of posts on where our quilting fabric comes from. There are so many steps in the process, from growing the cotton, cleaning and spinning it, weaving it, and then making it beautiful. Agricultural workers, biologists, engineers, designers, textile laborers, and more, all contribute to creating the raw materials of our craft. When I consider all the moving parts, I give thanks to all those who help make my projects possible.

The first post looked primarily at planting and harvesting cotton. Next came cleaning and spinning the cotton into yarn. Now we’ll look at weaving.

After creating yarn (threads,) the yarn is woven into fabric. In the most basic weaving process, there are warp yarns, which run lengthwise away from the front of the loom. These are the yarns that are pre-strung. Weft yarns (or filling yarns) are interlaced at a right angle through them using a shuttle or other mechanism such as a rapier.

From the National Cotton Council of America:

Traditionally, cloth was woven by a wooden shuttle that moved horizontally back and forth across the loom, interlacing the filling yarn with the horizontally, lengthwise warp yarn. Modern mills use high-speed shuttleless weaving machines that perform at incredible rates and produce an endless variety of fabrics. Some carry the filling yarns across the loom at rates in excess of 2,000 meters per minute.

The rapier-type weaving machines have metal arms or rapiers that pick up the filling thread and carry it halfway across the loom where another rapier picks it up and pulls it the rest of the way. Other types employ small projectiles that pick up the filling thread and carry it all the way across the loom. Still other types employ compressed air to insert the filling yarn across the warp. In addition to speed and versatility, another advantage of these modern weaving machines is their relatively quiet operation.

Though the speed has changed, the mechanics of weaving are much as they’ve been for thousands of years. This video shows the high speed process.

When the weaving of fabric is done, the product of the loom is called “greige” goods. This is pronounced as “grey.”

The weight of quilting fabric (not including batiks) is approximately 4 ounces per yard. If you check Spoonflower, a service that allows you to custom print various weaves of fabric, their basic combed cotton is 3.2 oz per square yard and has a thread count of 78×76. The Kona cotton is 4.5 oz per square yard, with a thread count of 60×60.

The unprinted, unbleached greige fabric then goes through a design phase. It may be simply dyed, or it may be elaborately printed or batiked. I’ll cover those processes next.

If you’d like to read my posts on quilting as a business, you can find them here:

Cotton — Where Does Your Fabric Come From?
Cotton — What Happens After Harvest?
Cotton — Weaving Fabric
Cotton — Batik Production
Cotton — Printing Designs

Quilting for Pay — The Longarm
Conversations with Artists
Price vs. Value of a Quilt, Part 1
Price vs. Value of a Quilt, Part 2
You Should Write Patterns
“It Feels Weird Asking for Pay”
Pay for Quilters (And other Crafters and Artists)
You Should Sell Those: A Play in Three Short Scenes, With Commentary