Sunday, February 7, 2016

Passover's Coming: 25 Ideas for Matzoh Fabric

Eerily realistic matzoh fabric is what brought me into making quilted Judaica some 20 years ago. I was already Jewish, and I was a new quilter, but when I first saw matzoh fabric, I was inspired! So realistic! So fun! So irresistible!
In those days, Marcus Brothers made the fabric. Unfortunately, they discontinued it, but Lauree Feigenbaum of picked up the slack. She offers light and heavyweight versions here. Fay Nicoll of Sunshine Sewing in Florida also sells trompe l'oeil matzoh fabric.

It's never too early to start sewing for Passover (which starts on April 22 this year). Here are just a few of the things I've made from matzoh fabric over many years. I hope they will help you brainstorm ways to spice up your seder!

1. First, of course, simple matzoh covers galore. 
Just surround the matzoh with a Judaic print and hand-quilt the matzoh in rows to create a bumpy texture. 

2. Passover themed postcards: 
Ten plagues
Seder plate components
I blogged these and more in 2014, here.  My patterns page includes FREE downloadable labels in Hebrew and English for plagues and seder plate components. Basic "How to Make a Fiber Arts Postcard" (for Passover or Easter or beyond) directions are here

3. Buttony cover : 

It's machine-quilted with variegated thread: 
4. The traditional 'flying geese' design meshes beautifully with the Exodus story. I paper pieced the triangles:
Closer :

5. Next, a historically challenged Exodus-themed matzoh cover, with King Tut in the upper left and George Washington on the lower right....
...And rubber stamped feet leading from one to the other....
6. A broken dishes/broken matzoh theme dish. (Loops in the corner shape it into a dish.)
7. Heavily quilted matzoh star: 
8. Giant hardboiled eggs and tiny wine glasses, yum: 
9. A matzoh brick road snail's trail pillow: (The 'A-MAZE-ing Selvages & Jeans Pillow pattern on my patterns page works for this, or use any snail's trail pattern.)

10. Another "journey"-themed matzoh cover, with pyramids on top, famous Washington DC buildings on bottom, for a friend who lives in DC:

11. Spilled wine and plagues-themed matzoh cover: 
12. Moony matzoh cover: 

13. Experimental pouch...
It's an envelope with removeable pins. The pins can be taken off and worn.

14. Bags to hide the afikomen. This first one has a tulle bottom with sequins trapped between two layers. 
15. A simple envelope: 
16. Earrings:
Another earring:
17. Amulet necklace:
18. Brooch:
19. A playable tambourine (Plastic canvas inside holds it stiff): 
20. A teeny tote bag: 
21. A kippah (pattern is in my book.) 
22. Over the December 2015 winter holidays, I was invited to a party with relatives, including four different households, so I whipped up four ultra-fast, fun matzoh covers. Here's #1: 
The back has a Shabbat theme, so it's reversible...
23. This one uses a cute novelty Passover fabric, also avialable from 1800 Dreidel. 
24. A simple cover with stylish borders: 
25. During the height of Harry Potter madness, a golden matzohball snitch
It hangs in our kitchen! It's made from two baby kippah patterns from my book, with a  gold lamé insert.

What have you made or would you like to make from matzoh fabric? 

Sunday, January 31, 2016

It's a Wallhanging! It's a Dish! It's Color Therapy!

I made quite a few of these jewel box wallhangings last year. Composing and stitching the little squares is pure, joyous, non-toxic color therapy.
Each square takes on a personality of its own.
But I have to say I was getting bored of making them into wallhangings. How about doing something different? How about making them like Transformers, so that they CAN be wallhangings, but they can also be, say, DISHES! That, to me, is profoundly exciting. (My life is trés dull).  So on my most recent hostess gift, I stitched pairs of snaps on either side. 
Snap shut one pair, and you get an assymetrical dish: 
Snap both pairs shut, and you wind up with this partially symmetrical dish: 
Or, your giftee can leave it flat as a trivet/table runner, or hang it on the wall flat, or, come to think of it, hang it partially or fully snapped! 
Don't forget a hanging sleeve on the back, behind an non-snapped edge. 
Interested in making jewel box therapy? Here are three posts to how incredibly therapeutic these are to make:  (123

Sunday, January 24, 2016

The Tarot of Fabric Selection: Six Games for Ultra-Serendipity Quilts:

There are a lot of quilters out there who talk about serendipity, but really, they have elaborate plans.

For example, Susan Carlson, one of my quilt idols, wrote two fantastic books called Freestyle Quilts and Serendipity Quilts. But her projects start with a beautiful, intricate sketch (she has a degree in illustration). Here's a part of one of her drawings:
I made several complex fish from her patterns, and anyone who knows Carlson's work would immediately recognize my guys as her offspring:
There were many serendipitous moments - choosing fabrics was a gas - but I was definitely following a  plan.
Similarly, Sarah Nephew, another longtime inspiration, has a couple of quilt books with "serendipity" in the title. Her gorgeous quilts require a ton of careful planning and cutting before you get from the serene to the dipity. (No Y seams, though, which is great!)
You can see and buy Sara Nephew's terrific books here. I totally love this book and am going to make something from it. 
I, by contrast, practice a radical form of serendipity quilting that is closely associated with, and in fact, virtually identical to, extreme laziness.

Here's how it works: A pile of unrelated fabrics accretes like stalagmites in a conspicuous area of my sewing room, for whatever reason (I auditioned them for different projects; my overstuffed cabinets exploded; I bought them seven weeks ago and am too lazy to put them away; I am a hoarder in denial; etc.)

After a while, I start to see connections. The universe appears to be sending a complex message - like Tarot cards, runes, or tea leaves - important dispatches that I must not ignore.

For example on a recent Hawaiian vacation, (blog entry), I bought a half-dozen new, mostly unrelated fabrics, including dupioni silks, cotton batiks, and a half-yard of this elegant, high-quality gold-flecked Asian print;
And, from a different store, two yards of this flimsy, low-quality, wacky fabric poking fun at Tokyo's pop culture:
Once home, I procrastinated putting them away, because I so enjoyed looking at them. Eventually, it came to me that these two totally go together. If you've visited Japan, you know that the juxtapositions of ancient and edgy - in the streets, the clothes, the packaging, the hearts and minds - are enthralling.

So I went for it!
 I patched up the turning hole in the back and added a hanging loop.
The back took almost as much time than the front. If I were into ultra-radical serendipity, I would hang it backwards. A friend of mind admired it (the front), and I was thrilled to give it to her!

Want to experience authentic serendipity for yourself? Here are five highly-disciplined exercises to force you to be lazy (or crazy) enough to make a very serendipitous quilt:
  1. The Random Number Method: Use a family member or online random number generator (like this one) to generate three numbers between 1 and 25. Go to your fabric stash, pick a pile, count down from the top, and pull out three fabrics that correspond to those numbers. Make it work. (If your stash is small, you can do this at the fabric store. See #4).
  2. The Project Runway Method. Set the timer for 10 minutes, race to your fabric stash and randomly pull five fabrics. Splay them on the kitchen table and leave them there until a concept comes to you. When your spouse asks why you can't clear the table, explain that you are channeling messages from the universe.
  3. The Pet Method: Similar to #2, but lay six fabrics on the floor, and then use ONLY the two that your dog, cat, rodent, etc. first lie upon. Same thing works with small children. (The pet can also help with decorative stitch selection...(although there is a danger it will gnaw on the spool pin.)
  4. The Method for People Who are Mediocre at Darts: Acquire darts. Print out a color wheel from the Internet. Thumb tack it to a bathroom door. Knock on the door to make sure no one is inside. Stand far back and yell loudly to make sure none of your family members or pets are approaching. Throw 3 darts toward the wheel. (If the darts land on the door or the floor, those count as colors, too.)
  5. The Blindfold Shopping Method. Put a blindfold in your purse. On your next visit to a quilt shop, approach a sales clerk, blindfold yourself, and ask politely if she can steer you to the fat quarters section. There, use your hands to feel out 3 fabrics. No peeking! Warning: The salespeople will whisper that you are kinky/bonkers.
  6. The Relationship Buster. This next approach works best if your spouse or #1 best friend is NOT a quilter or visual artist. Set the timer for 20 minutes. Ask him or her to pick 3 fabrics. Refrain from making suggestions or faces. Find a way to make it work. You may be stunned by how beautifully it all goes together; or, just plain stunned. Vengeance will be yours! Give it to them when you're done!
Whatever you make, keep it small, just in case it's a disaster. My bet is that you, or someone you care about, or your pet, will love it! (Send me a picture, I will strive to love it too!)
Ginny was very particular about stitch selection.