Monday, June 30, 2008

Wandaful Quilts!


Have you ever visited my friend Wanda at Exuberant Color? If you have, you’ve been treated to daily posts of color-drenched inspiration, like the photo above (Wanda's little quilt, photographed in my lilies). If you haven’t, today’s the day to visit and enter her anniversary giveaway. She’s offering six fabulous prizes and you get to choose your favorite!

Wanda has been quilting for 50 years! In that time, she’s owned her own quilt shop and managed others. She’s sold everything from sewing machines to her original fiber art. She’s transformed her cozy home into a studio with sewing spaces and fabric collections even professional quilters would envy. After thirty years of teaching beginners and advanced quilters, she can explain how to do almost anything related to quiltmaking.

Wanda has a penchant for batiks and machine embroidery, gardening, photography, and computers. She absolutely loves color and is “driven to create with it.” Fortunately for us, she’s driven to share all this through her blog, Exuberant Color. Thank you, Wanda, for your generous spirit and daily doses of inspiration!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

What Do You Get?

I know, this sounds like one of those juvenile jokes where you cross two disparate things, such as a cat with a parrot. What do you get when you cross jungle print fabrics with Gwen Marston’s Liberated Quiltmaking? You get a quilt something like this:

Click to Enlarge

When my boys were little and forced to accompany me to the quilt shop, I’d sometimes placate them by letting them pick out a fat quarter of fabric they liked. My nine year old son spotted a whole bundle of animal prints and begged me to make a quilt with them. How could I refuse, even though they were just about they last thing I ever envisioned myself using?

The beauty of making a “liberated” quilt is that you don’t have to start with a plan. I had no idea where this quilt was headed. I just began by cutting out various animals, framing each with a dark fabric named “Kitambaa” (Swahili for “cloth”). These vignettes became the quilt’s focal points.

I added familiar elements like flying geese, log cabin, shoo fly, stars, four patch, nine patch and hour glass blocks, all made with Gwen’s characteristic wonkiness.

The quilt evolved organically. When units were too long, I cut them down. When they were too short, I added to them. And while the layout may look random, units were arranged and rearranged, puzzle-like until they fit.

This quilt was successful on many levels. It used up just about every square inch of jungle fabric we bought. It taught an up-tight quilter how to loosen up and enjoy the process of working intuitively. And it pleased a young boy so much that he's slept under the quilt for 10 years, even taking it off to college with him!

Just in case you were wondering what you get when you cross a cat and a parrot, it's a carrot!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Get Liberated


In the 27 years since taking up my needle, one woman's influence has been a constant in my work. Gwen Marston impressed me early on with her knowledge of quilt history, her reverence for traditional quilts, her methods for designing custom applique, piecing and quilting patterns and her ability to throw out the rules and encourage us to create original quilts of our own.

As Gwen’s designs and freeform construction techniques become more mainstream, it is easy to forget the tremendous impact her work has had on quilt making the world over. Her “liberated” methods for sewing blocks and composing quilts revolutionized the way many of us quilters work. Read more about Gwen Marston HERE and HERE.

This “Black and Bright” quilt was made during one of several Beaver Island Quilt Retreats I attended over the years. It exemplifies Gwen’s “liberated” quilt construction techniques: bold color, irregularly cut fabric, intuitive block construction, miniature “compositions” in the sashing, all tied together with a unique quilting design. This quilt couldn’t be more different from my usual style. But it taught me a lot and has become one of my favorites!

Gwen’s book, Liberated Quiltmaking, which outlines her novel construction techniques, is currently out of print. Tonya Ricucci, from Lazy Gal Quilting, has approached the publisher about reissuing this pivotal book. If you or someone you know would like a copy of Gwen’s book, please visit Tonya HERE, read her post, and leave her a comment or e-mail. The deadline for expressing your interest is the end of June.