Appraisals–Continuing Education

Appraising art quilts can be very challenging because the techniques and the materials used in them are constantly changing and evolving.  One of the ways that I keep current is to take classes from successful art quilters.  I was privileged to take a class from Norma Riehm on fabric layering techniques.  She provided us with kits in several different color ways which included everything but our sewing machines.  Each quilt was beautiful and despite having the same things in each kit, each of the quilts made during the class looked different.

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This was the first time I worked with Angelina fibers, roving, yarn, silk flowers, beads, and crystals–all together in one piece.    Norma discussed the sources for her materials and impressed me with her bargain hunting ability!  I am sure that I will be checking out garage sales for art supplies once the weather gets warmer.

We started with a typical quilt sandwich and then layered fibers and flowers onto it, finishing with a layer of tulle.  The next step was to quilt it.  In future works I might try using some wool batting because it has the ability showcase quilting well.  I loved adding crystals to the piece with the hot fix crystals and the aid of a pin.  Norma then taught us how to bead so that the beads would be shown off to the best advantage and so that they would be securely attached.

The biggest takeaway from the class for me was her attention both to the craftsmanship and to the artistry of each piece.

Thank you Norma!!

 

On my longarm today…5 reasons to go quilt shows

It’s fall here in the Upper Midwest, the trees are all turning magnificent colors and the weather is beginning to cool.  It is also quilt show season, before winter driving becomes an issue.  Here are my top five reasons to go to quilt shows:

  1. To see amazing quilts, such as this stunning Best of Show, AQS Des Moines 2016 (plus many additional ribbons) quilt by Bethanne Nemesh.  It is a whole cloth quilt with an Art Deco inspired peacock design as it’s central motif and beautiful feathers.  The quality of the machine quilting was excellent.  I particularly noticed that despite the heavy quilting the motifs stood out from the back fill.  In addition she used ‘advanced’ edging techniques such as covered beaded piping and tiny scalloped edging.20161005_110535
  2. To discover new gadgets, such as how my Gammill Dealer attaches a tablet to her longarm.20161005_113636
  3. To get inspiration and ideas for my own quilting projects–how to fill up negative space.  I liked how Judy Mercer Tescher used block design along with back fills to complete the stars in her quilt Stars and Sparks.  20161005_112750
  4. To take classes–I took a class with Judy Woodworth, an amazing quilter, about back fills.  I can hardly wait to try some ideas and practice in my studio.  I won the class demo with Judy’s stitching.  I love those little feather blooms.20161018_165018
  5. To meet old friends and new friends.  I always have fun going through a show with friends because they see things I don’t notice.  It’s also fun to meet new friends–sit at a table with someone or on a chair next to someone and ask about their quilts.

I hope you enjoy some quilt shows this fall!!

Art with Fabric Blog Hop–Landscape with Birds

I have always loved the artist, Paul Klee, so when Alida invited me to join the Art with Fabric Blog Hop, I jumped at the chance.  Alida asked us to choose ‘a’ work of art to inspire our textile creations.  I couldn’t choose just one!!

Instead, I chose two pieces by Paul Klee:

The first is titled, “Landscape with Yellow Birds,” and the second is “Fire in the Evening Sky.”(Museum of Modern Art, New York).  Of course, one can’t have two without three so I found a poem on Jill Berry Design‘s blog which really spoke to me about hope.

LANDSCAPE WITH YELLOW BIRDS
Shuntaro Tanikawa (1931-    )

there are birds
so there is sky
there is sky
so there are balloons
there are balloons
so children are running
children are running
so there is laughter
there is laughter
so there is sadness
so there is prayer
and ground for kneeling
there is ground
so water is flowing
and there’s today and tomorrow
there is a yellow bird
so with all colors forms and movements
there is the world

Paul Klee’s ‘Fire in the Evening Sky’  inspired me to construct my landscape with horizontal lines.  Our beautiful sunsets over the Mississippi river this summer gave me a color scheme.  My birds are drawn from the ‘Birds in Air” block:

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I inserted triangle birds into my landscape–red, for the cardinals which visit my yard, and a yellow bird to add color and hope.

 

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I chose a quilting design which also used horizontal lines and triangles.  In addition, I drew yellow and red birds with big stitch hand quilting.  Finally, I added some random big stitch quilting lines to add spark and interest.

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I used pearl cotton thread and a chenille needle to do my ‘big stitches’.  I also used a thimble–which, in my opinion, is necessary when doing any type of hand quilting.

Please visit the other bloggers up today:

Bea @ beaquilter (http://www.beaquilter.com/)

Heather @ heatherquilts (http://www.heatherquilts.blogspot.com/)

Quilts with Rounded Corners

I sometimes see quilts with rounded corners come across my appraisal table.  The gently curved bound corner is as tricky to sew as a mitered corner.  I tried curved corners on my ‘We Support You’ quilt which you can read about here.IMG_1278020415_1

The curve is easy to accomplish with the aid of a binding cut on the bias.  The bias tape should lay flat with no puckers and the corner shouldn’t pull the corner of the quilt toward the front or back.  I also would recommend curving your corners if you want to use the binding attachment on your sewing machine.

According to Barbara Brackman there are not many quilts made prior to the 20th century with bias binding, yet there are many examples of curved corners.  I wondered if the number of curved corners in the 20th century increased as a result of the use of bias binding, so I went to the Quilt Index to find out.  The Quilt Index has a huge database of many quilts from all time periods.  We can thank the many volunteers who have collected pictures and information through state documentation projects, museums, and collections.  In addition the many organizations who have funded this massive project.  It is a wonderful resource for both information and inspiration; and a great place to browse through on a lazy summer afternoon!

19th century quilts from online auctions with rounded corners.

I started my quest by doing a search on ’rounded corners’.  The results came back with close to 900 quilts!  Since I wanted to compare the trends between 10 year periods of time, I removed those quilts with no dates, no images, and duplicates from the search results.  I also deleted from the search the quilts with shaped edges, i.e. scalloped, jagged, zig-zags, notched; and the quilts which were not shaped like a rectangle or square, i.e. octagons and circles.  Removing those quilts from my search results brought the number of quilts with rounded corners down to approximately 500.  I was very surprised by the small proportion of quilts in the index which have rounded corners. I guess I’m in the minority who think that rounded corners are easier to sew!!!  20160812

Next, I compared the percentage of quilts with rounded corners across the decades to the total number of quilts from those decades.  I expected the percentage of quilts with rounded corners to increase in the 20th century because using bias binding became more common.  I know that I’ve seen more quilts from the 1930’s with rounded corners, but I think that is because I’ve seen more quilts from that period of time.

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In the chart above, notice how the number of quilts entered into the Quilt Index varies a great deal by decade.  You can see the peaks of the 1880/90, 1920/30, and the 1970/80 quilt revivals.  According to the chart above, the percentage of quilts with rounded corners entered into the Quilt Index has not changed over time.  We may think that rounded corners increase in the twentieth century simply because we see more quilts from that period of time.  I did find that there were more scalloped, zig zag, and jagged quilts from the 20th century.

20th century quilts from online auctions with rounded corners.

I’ve run across certain blogs that say that rounded corners in an antique quilt are an indication that the quilt is from the southern United States.  I did a ‘quick and dirty’ look through the Quilt Index and found that there did not appear to be a relationship between rounded corners and region where the quilt was made.  However, the search form does not allow a specific search for ‘location made’ and ’rounded corners’, so I searched through the entire index using ’rounded corners state’.  This method appeared to be working until I got to Michigan…a great number of quilts have ‘Michigan’ in their records because that is where the Quilt Index is housed–University of Michigan.  My curiosity was frustrated!  I would be interested to know if anyone has further insight and evidence into regional differences and rounded corners.

In the meantime, I’m thinking up future searches of the Quilt Index and many more hours looking at beautiful quilts.

Have fun on your quilting adventure!

Lovelli Signature

On the longarm today…A quilt finish…Allietare!

For the last many years Bonnie Hunter does a mystery quilt starting right after Thanksgiving and ending at Christmas. I’ve wanted to play along for several years, but this year I did it!  I kept up, mostly, until the last week when we welcomed out of town guests (my parents); my washing machine died; I discovered that my 1/4″ seam allowance wasn’t correct; and I needed fabric for the borders and backing.   Once the holidays were over, I took out the seams which were incorrect and found a black fabric with a hint of sparkle for the border.   Allietare!  means to rejoice and I’m thrilled to add this quilt to my collection.  Bonnie’s directions were very clear, even down to which direction to press seams, and I didn’t have any bulky seam intersections, which can be difficult for the longarm to go through.

Bonnie’s inspiration photos for the quilt and its color scheme which I mostly followed, were from her trip to Italy.  I also took a trip to Italy (as a student), so I chose my memories of the marble in churches and cathedrals as my inspiration for the fabric in the quilt. Many of the fabrics have a bit of metallic shine or luster like the beautiful mosaics I saw.  I was so impressed and surprised by the spectacular cathedral in Sienna, Italy, that I still remember it today, many years later.  The unique multicolored stonework, inside and out, was a great inspiration for this quilt–it kept me sewing through frustration (at myself) and it inspired me to be accurate and thoughtful in my design choices..  The fabric in the quilt is almost entirely from my stash, and with the exception of the black border.  (Un)fortunately, my stash still is too large–I will just have to make more quilts!!

Although I love to custom quilt my own quilts (and clients’ quilts too!).  I decided that I wanted to try to do an edge to edge design, but arrange the designs so that it would look like a whole-cloth design.  I really liked the Twisted Plumage design by Naomi Hynes.  The quilting lets the piecing take a starring role when viewing the quilt top, but the quilting certainly becomes the main event on the back of the quilt.

I finished the outside edge of the quilt with a wavy edge and bound it with a bias binding.

Enjoy your quilting adventures!!

Lovelli Signature

On the longarm today….An Antique Quilt top.

Each quiltmaker trusts me to enhance their quilt with quilting.  I feel both blessed to have that trust and a bit nervous as well.  I feel the nerves especially when receiving a vintage or antique top to complete.  I collaborate with my client to make several decisions about an antique/vintage top:

  • Is the fabric sturdy enough to stand up to the machine needle and thread?  Are the seams put together well? Are there areas on the quilt top which need to be mended?
  • Would the quilt top’s value as a historical artifact decrease if quilted?  If so, can I do something to stabilize it so that it’s structure will last?
  • Which quilting design would both respect the time period in which the top was completed and give a nod to today?  Many times economic factors prevent people having vintage/antique quilts from being custom quilted, is there a less expensive alternative which would still respect the original time period?

The quilt maker, who gave me this beautiful redwork quilt to finish, found these beautiful blocks among her grandmother’s things, including the block labeled 1932.  It is such a wonderful block to include in this quilt because it documents when the blocks were made along with the family history regarding the blocks and the maker.

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Redwork embroidery became popular just as the fad for crazy quilts was waning during the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.  Women entrepreneurs contributed to the spread of its popularity, both as pattern designers and pattern markers.  Mothers frequently purchased ‘penny’ squares, squares of cotton with a stamped design, to practice embroidery skills or to give to their children for practice.  As the 20th century progressed, designs were distributed in collections, such as States, Presidents, State Birds and Flowers, Fairy Tales, Colonial, and, of course, Sunbonnet Sue.  People collected the blocks and then placed them in quilts.  You can see more red work examples here.  There are also blue work quilts, embroidered with blue thread, over many of the same designs.

I chose to do a ‘Baptist’ (or ‘Lutheran’ or ‘Methodist’) fan pattern and quilted right on top of the embroidery.  Fortunately, I could quilt through the embroidery because it laid flat and tight to the background.    The fan pattern was frequently used was a very popular design during the 1930’s and throughout history.  It is one of the easiest patterns for a hand quilter to do because it requires little, to no, marking.  One simply uses the elbow as a pivot point on a compass to form the fan shape:Fan drawingTo hand quilt a fan start in the position indicated by the light pink forearm in the image above, continue moving the forearm, with the elbow fixed in place, until the forearm is in the position of the dark pink forearm.  Tie off the thread, move your elbow (stretching helps) and then place the elbow and arm to do the next line of stitching.  Machine quilting a fan is a little bit trickier because it involves either multiple tie-offs or tracing previously stitched lines.  On a domestic machine you can mark one of the fan lines and then use a walking foot to quilt it.  For subsequent lines in the fan use the walking foot guide to keep lines spaced correctly.  On my longarm the fan design requires a little extra set up and a quilt top which is square so that it begins and ends at the same points from side to side of the quilt.

Here is a last look at the darling bunny on the quilt.  I wonder if he will share those carrots?

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Have a quilty day!!

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