Wednesday, November 27, 2013

New quilt

detail of my newest quilt, Coded Connections
This year I have been playing with the ideas of Gee's Bend quilters and the concept of modern art influenced design. I began piecing, putting together pieces of fabric, two years ago in earnest with the little scraps of fabric from my big yo yo project that took 40 years to complete. I saved lots of little diamond pieces and eventually pieced many of them into little strips of squares, by hand at first, then with the featherweight Singer machine. It led to the Fairhaven Cliffs Summer Quilt 2011. That was all intuitive and challenged my color theory and subjective choices of patterns and prints looking for combinations that pleased my eye. In between there was the Rose Star English paper piecing madness that possessed me for about a year... before the rose star was done I moved to a more freestyle designing my own block I called the Williamsburg fence design. That was built using a set of dark green solid fabric with natural muslin. Working on that small quilt is when I began to realize I wanted to do repeating patterns building blocks that would add up to a full bed sized quilt. I got carried away with the Rose Star quilt and finished that then came back to the green and white design for this new quilt.

Yo yo coverlet, 40 years of little circles full of memories 

Patchwork pieced with scraps of Yo Yo quilt became the Fairhaven Cliffs Summer Quilt 

Rose Star quilt English paper pieced all by hand. 

Green and muslin strips become my play time project inspired by Williamsburg's white fences and boxwood hedges 
On the felt wall are various blocks made from the green and white fabrics exploring how cutting and reassembling the strips made new patterns
My first finished machine quilted throw photographed by Elle from DC Modern Quilt Guild at NGA sculpture garden 
The resulting play with that set of green and off-white strips developed into the latest finish titled Coded Connections. I used the same green and off-white muslin and developed a fun playful pattern without repeats but echoing the Williamsburg Fence quilt by interval and color. During the months I struggled with this idea of a modern abstract design I kept thinking I needed a third color like red or orange or magenta and I experimented over and over with them and kept rejecting the high contrast that came from those colors until one day this bamboo green solid got hoisted to the design wall and it all of a sudden felt like the shift in tone I needed to complete the color design.  
Coded Connections finished 80 x 83 

 I used a Dark Parrot Green perle cotton #8 thread to quilt it all by hand in straight lines and a solid muslin back where that green would show nicely. The binding is made of the three fabric colors pieced together to reflect the inner design intervals. The batting is simple cotton. I hope to go back to my fence pattern and make a full bed sized quilt one day.
Label close up for Coded Connections quilt
Every time I go back to Colonial Williamsburg I find new inspirations in the formal functional gardens and numerous designs all over the city.
garden fences and greens are really great retreats from the busy streets in old Williamsburg.

boxwood hedges in a garden 

picket fence gate and hedge 

This year the leaves were orange, red and yellow for our visit which is a whole new color theme for a quilted Colonial theme. 

Laundry hanging by an encampment lot at the edge of Colonial Williamsburg was a new site this year. 
 What comes next? currently I am working with used men's casual wear shirts and making progress piecing and patchworking my way to a pair of unique quilts for cold winter nights by the fire. They are being filled with rich wool batting and I hope to finish them both in the next couple weeks.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

wonky star quilts

Wonky Stars and Stripes quilt 
The past month I have been finishing two small quilts. Today I completed them both and they are ready to reveal. Wonky stars are a modern version of a traditional 8 pointed star block redesigned to be a little more relaxed than traditional stars. In a wonky star the points of the stars are at random angles willy nilly as it suits the quilter. I enjoyed making these blocks once I understood how.  I made more than I needed for a DC Modern Quilt Guild block raffle. Our theme was navy blue and white with a bold color. I tried different mixes of prints and solids and decided I liked both but not mixed up as much as I like them grouped together. So then I began making blocks for my own small quilt roughly 4 x 5 feet. I couldn't wait two months for the raffle. I made a total of 40 stars for these two quilts and had five more that I entered into the guild's raffle.
finished wonky stars and stripes quilt 

back showing the stripes 

Wonky Stars and Stripes label 
As I worked on the strong solid colors I experimented with some softer prints and found a new color way with a big yardage of pink plaid fabric my friend and former neighbor Kiley Bednar gifted last summer. It's a salmon pink plaid with little lines of pale blue, lavender, green and white, very soft and more feminine than the high contrast solid navy blue and white quilt. For the pink star quilt I saved up some wool batting to use and decided to hand quilt using a star and diamond pattern.

Hand embroidered label detailing wool and cotton content

Wonky Pink Stars quilt 5 x 4 feet

the back shows two stripes and the hand quilting pattern of stars and diamonds. 

Thanks to former guild president, Katie Blakesley who selected this block and the raffle color theme. She gave us a guide to colors and a link to a tutorial that made it all very easy and fun. Her new book is coming out next month and we are all looking forward to getting copies of our own. She presented her new book about revisiting traditional quilts in a modern way and she spent two years working and writing and quilting with two co-authors. Her presentation in late October to the guild about writing her book on quilting was very interesting and clearly not as easy as one would like to day dream it should be. 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Autumn is the Orange season

I am sitting here at my desk on a cold and sunny afternoon. The windows are all aglow with oranges, yellows and reds, hints of brown slowly overtaking the boldest display of colors nature has to show. The experience is so brief but always delivers a joyous burst before the long months of cold when grays are the main color theme. I have been taking photos of the leaves here and there when I go for walks and I have a few to share. I was lucky to go south last week to Williamsburg and Jamestown Va for a visit with my out of town family and friends. We sat by the fire in our rooms and told and listened to stories each of the elders had for us. It's getting harder to go out and make new experiences for some of the gang and just being together and sharing is still an exciting event with so much distance in between our family and these friends. Keith and I love going to colonial Williamsburg and the loop drive at Jamestown the original English colony famous for Captain John Smith and his little friend Pocahontas who married John Rolfe some years later and became the first officially sanctioned bi-racial marriage in the new world. The history in that area is fascinating to me and there are a some really good books that detail the stories for those interested in the colorful details. The designs in Colonial era were heavily influenced by Chinese art and ceramics. I designed a quilt based on one very popular fence detail my father the Architect told me was Chinese years ago. He and his father used it on their home's front porch.  Naturally, I took along a few inside projects, to fill some of my time in the big apartments we were staying in while in Williamsburg. I got one really big quilt top basted together ready to hand quilt and a second smaller one is nearly finished. My next blog post will be about finished quilts.

Brookland's streets full of color before we went south to Virginia

This year numerous deer were seen on the Jamestown Island Loop drive.

James River is tidal and surrounds Jamestown Island

Marsh grasses grow all over Jamestown island 

Sister Jenny, Mildred, Phyllis, Elizabeth and Frank at Jamestown glass blower

Keith with his long lens taking photos on Jamestown Island

Colonial Williamsburg was nearing peak color in their maple trees 

Yellow berries on a holly tree in colonial Williamsburg. Rare 
Colonial garden center

Lesson in how to make a garden row to plant seeds for winter crops. 

Scarlet oaks one of my favorites 

red house paint colonial style

The new Carlton Coffee House next to the Colonial Capitol was added a couple years ago 

All the formal gardens are open for free in Williamsburg 

Coffee house and costumed folks

bicyclists and girls on a bench lined the Duke's street 

tented encampment on a side yard was doing laundry

One of my favorite gardens has a stream running through with little foot bridges

a new tree to me this pink leaf wonder was only at Ford's Colony where we took long walks on wooded trails. 

more pink orange leaves over head

miles of trails at Ford's Colony made it a perfect vacation place to walk.

The pink tree at the edge of the woods posed for a close up.