Sunday, January 19, 2020

Turn Your Maxi Quilts into Adorable Mini Quilts (and Maybe a Mug)

In our last installment, I put photos of quilts that are about 70" wide onto fat-quarters of organic cotton sateen, with the help of I downsized each image to about 6" across.  Here's the fat-quarter with images of my Los Angeles quilt. Before cutting it up, it fit 8 photos, plus four partial images along the top. 
I decided to make the reprints into individual wallhangings, and this time I not only added borders, but also quilted around each building with "invisible" monofilament thread. Here's a finished Chicago wallhanging, 10" wide including borders:
The original quilt had embroidered fireworks, which barely showed in the copies. So I did a wee bit of hand-sewing with metallic and rayon threads, beads and sequins. 
The next photo shows the LA quilt in progress. I used one of the image fragments from my Spoonflower fat-quarter to test tension and threads - it's on the upper left. Then I went into the l quilt and outlined all the structures. 
I can't tell you how adorable the little dimensional building felt. Even the back - where I used a scrap of thin white fabric, to keep batting from going into my machine - is tiny and adorable. After laboring for weeks to quilt the original quilt, it felt miraculous to finish this mini-version within an hour!
Next, I trimmed it, and placed it right sides together against a backing. (In hindsight, I should have just left the back as it is - but I wanted a pillowcase finish and a neat back). I cut the backing to approximate size.
...Cut a slit in the backing to turn...
Pinned the backing to the front.
Stitched all the way around and trimmed.
Turned everything through the hole.
Chopstick time!
When all the corners and seams were fully extruded, I pressed the back neatly.
Patched and added a loop: 
Did I mention how cute and petite it feels?  It's like acquiring a hamster after you've had a St. Bernard. The original Los Angeles quilt didn't have fireworks, but it did have a star. On my copy, I hand-embroidered around the star with metallic thread.
The finished quiltlet:
I'll keep these wallhangings for myself - the original quilts have new homes, and this way I won't miss them so much!

Also in my last installment, I talked about merchandise I ordered from Redbubble with quilt images. Here's one I didn't show last time - a mug with a slice of the Chicago quilt. The orange structure is Water Tower Place....
...Rotating, there's a Wendella boat on the river....
...further on, the green structure is Macy's/Marshall Fields. Below it, the Picasso statue, and the striped building is the Smurfit/Stone-Crain Communications building.
In this new world of quality custom printed stuff, it's possible to give away your quilts and keep them too!
PS If you're interested in learning my techniques for making city quilts, my booklet, "Log Cabin Skyscrapers and Modern Quilt Buildings" is available in my etsy shop, here.

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Strange Thrills: Put Your Quilts on Mugs, Notecards, Pillows, and/or Other Quilts!

Here are the two latest fat-quarters to enter my fabric stash. I'm certain that no one else on earth owns these fabrics. The first:

What the heck is it? A photograph of my recent Chicago quilt, downsized from its original 72 inches wide, to only 9 inches across. Six copies fit on a fat-quarter of fabric (FQs are 18" x 22"). 

They were printed onto a lovely organic cotton sateen by the custom printer Spoonflower's usual price is about $13.00 per FQ - I took advantage of a two-for-one sale to pay that price for the FQ above, plus the one below:  

This second piece features my latest Los Angeles quilt. Eight photos fit on a FQ with each image about 7.5" square. I could have made the images bigger or smaller. 

Painters make giclee prints. For the exact same reasons, quilters should consider printing their work on fabric, paper or other items. 

Plus, it's a strange but genuine thrill to see something you created in a completely different way - as, say, socks.  But before we get to the hardware, let's start with....

Printing onto Fabric

The DIY route is to print quilt photos from your home printer, onto 8.5" x 11" fabric sheets. I've done lots of home printing of photos on fabric, and it usually turns out okay, but it's not necessarily a bargain. 

It takes lots of ink; for permanence, you must either have a pigment ink printer, use pricey fabric sheets, and/or mess around with challenging chemicals like Bubble Jet Set. If you cut your own fabric sheets - using freezer paper or a sticky label backing, printing can be risky - as often as not, it creates a jam. And you must have a good-quality printer. If your printer doesn't do large-format printing, you're limited to a small size. 

So the idea of paying Spoonflower to do the printing isn't all that extravagant. But what really inspired me was the gorgeous work of master art quilter Judi Hutchins Bastion. Judi sends her lovely, detailed nature photography to Spoonflower to print - like this photo of a leaf. 

She then embellishes the printed images with stitchery, to make exquisite works of art, like this. 
Thanks, Judi, for giving me permission to show your work. If Spoonflower is good enough for Judi's subtle imagery, I thought, it's good enough for reproduction of my not-so-subtle quilts! I uploaded photos of the two quilts, and Spoonflower's easy tools let me adjust the size and number of images on each FQ. 

When I received the fabric, the holidays were coming - a perfect incentive to start using it immediately. I cut one panel from the LA fabric, added borders and cornerstones, and ended up with this neat  wallhanging.  

I didn't work up the courage to quilt the panel, but that's going to be my next experiment.

For another friend, I made a pillow with Los Angeles on one side.... 
And Chicago on the other...
I added dark navy borders to LA, to make it the same size as the slightly larger Chicago image on the reverse side. 

Onward to Notecards

But wait, there's more! I started thinking it might be fun to make notecards from my city quilts. I could use some myself, and gift blank ones to people who had lived in those cities.

I posted a question about quilters' favorite notecard-printing sites on a quilting forum. Several people suggested  I wound up buying ten cards with my Chicago quilt, plus blank envelopes, for $18.51, including $5.99 shipping and a bit of tax. I was very happy with the results: 

You do have to fold them yourself, but for $1.80 each, they're a bargain! 

A few weeks later I received an email from Shutterfly announcing a 50% off everything sale, plus free shipping on greeting cards. I ordered 15 cards for $23. That brought the card price down to about $1.50 per card. And they came out beautifully! (Plus Shutterfly folded them for me.)

But I don't always want to be the middlewoman  - I wanted people to be able to order stuff with my quilts, without me having to stockpile or ship it.

Beyond Notecards

For that, quilters suggested several sites, including RedBubble.  Upload a design and anyone can order them on a wild array of objects - posters, shower curtains, leggings, clocks, and so much more. Most hilarious of all  - you can print your quilt onto a duvet cover or comforter! Yes, that means you can turn a photo of your quilt into another sorta-quilt, for no extra labor! (Not counting hours you spent earning the $86.87 that the duvet costs, or $105.31 for the comforter!)  

No pressure, but if you would like to see a long list of hypothetical merchandise with my quilts on it, go here. Full disclosure: I get a 20% commission. I'm not completely sure, because, so far, zero people have ordered any! RedBubble offers tools for self promotion, which obviously I have not yet tested!  [Update: I've sold a set of coasters!]

Better yet, upload one of your images - it's free to play, you don't have to finalize it - and I guarantee you will experience a weird  thrill when you see your art as a "laptop skin." 

RedBubble's merchandise includes notecards. They're $2.48 each - more than I paid with sales at Vistaprint or Shutterfly - but still reasonable for someone looking to buy a special greeting card without you having to package and ship it.

My New Mugs

Although I didn't order cards from RedBubble, I did order four mugs from them as holiday gifts. 

I was delighted with the color and the quality. I learned that if you use a squarish or vertical image, and want the whole quilt on the mug, there's going to be a whole lot of white space on the other side. Here's the front of the LA quilt mug - everything beyond its sides, where the photo ends, is white. 
My New York quilt has even longer proportions than my LA quilt. 
If I'd put that photo on the cup, it would use up an even narrower space. So I decided to use only a horizontal slice. With Redbubble's tools, I upsized the image, lopping off tops and bottoms of buildings like Godzilla rampaging through Manhattan. Here's the results...
...rotating..... the back.
I kinda love it! This wouldn't work with every quilt, but if you have something that's already abstract, you might enjoy an even more abstract slice on a mug. 

So those are my adventures in quilted tchotkes. The most important advice I can give is to use the sharpest, highest-resolution photo you can. I bring all my large quilts to a local art photography firm - they charge me $30 for a high-res full shot. If you happen to live in the LA area, the company is Artworks Fine Art Publishing.  

If you order any of these things from these sites - or sites like it - please let me know how they turn out! I hate to add to your email load, but if you sign up for their mailing lists, you'll know when there's a sale. 

Disclaimer: I have no financial affiliation with any of these sites - if you click on my links, I don't benefit in any way - unless you order products with my quilts on them from RedBubble, of course. 

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Los Angeles II: A Modern City Quilt

I'm on a roll with city quilts! I've made two New York quilts,  a Chicago quilt, and now, a second Los Angeles quilt. (Photos of  earlier quilts and an instructional booklet are here.) Below is the second Los Angeles quilt: 
It's a wedding present (a scant year-and-a-half late!) for my dear friend Elizabeth and her groom Rick, who whisked her away to the East Coast, leaving her family and friends happy for them, but sorry for ourselves. 

In my first LA quilt, I recreated significant buildings that would be fun to translate into fabric. For this quilt, I consulted  Elizabeth's mom to make sure I included Elizabeth's most meaningful sites. 

My favorite building on the quilt - maybe in the world - is LA's   Eastern Building, an Art Deco masterpiece. If you've watched the TV show "Lucifer," you've seen it. (In the show, supernaturally gorgeous actors cavort at its supernaturally gorgeous rooftop pool). 

Although most of my buildings are fantasy colors, the Eastern Building really is blue-green. Find pictures of the real thing here

My other favorite building on the quilt is the LA airport's Theme Building. It looks like the Jetson's house.
It was built in medieval times, back in 1962. The sci-fi style is called "googie" architecture - completely unrelated to Google. Here's my slightly wobbly interpretation, using bias. 

To the right of the Eastern Building, there's Capitol Records, upon which I planted a green parrot - our area is infested with these screaming birds, which are charming or a nuisance, depending who you ask. (I vote: Both.)

The trendy Hotel Indigo has a major presence on the 110 Freeway; its structure screams "bargello"! In the quilt world, bargello is an easy strip piecing-and-offsetting technique, so I had to include it, 
Below it, Wedbush is a bank which has also an impressive presence on the 110 downtown. There area all kinds of interesting curves, which, alas, were lost in translation....

Below that, I set the remorselessly pink Paul Smith boutique in Melrose, against whose walls millenials flock to take selfies. On the quilt, it serves as the backdrop for Disney Hall, which I interpreted in blues. In the lower left area of the photo below, I set a piece of novelty fabric depicting an orchestra - in the real world, this part of the building often has a banner advertising shows at the hall, including for the awesome, resident LA Philharmonic. 
The angular Broad Museum is made from a new pink diamond print. The Broad is white in real life, but the windows aren't pink. 

Under it is the fanciful Mayan Theater, covered with elaborate tiles. I found some print fabrics that had a similar look. 

The lower left corner includes the Japanese bridge at Descanso Gardens; LA City Hall (which I turned blue); and above it, the  way-out-of-the-box Peterson Automotive Museum, which really is those colors, and shaped like a car

Pasadena's Wrigley Mansion/Tournament House holds the center - I made it green, possibly because of its vast green lawn. 

I parked a white scooter and plenty of roses in front because Elizabeth is a volunteer for the Tournament of Roses parade; she comes home for New Year's, dons a classic white suit, and rides around town on Pasadena's most prestigious vehicle! 

Above, the Angel's Flight cable car, which I recreated in citrus colors; The Greek Theater, in purple, with a cello-playing frog onstage...

...the Alhambra arch: 

...Pasadena's former Red Cross headquarters (aka Cravens Estate), topped by South Pasadena's historic watering trough....

And more! I will miss this quilt - but am consoled because a friend who is an amazing art quilter showed me that I could upload photos to the custom printer; they print them onto a lovely organic cotton sateen. I bought a fat quarter. When this FQ started out, it had 8 (full) copies of my quilt, each about 9" across. But Spoonflower lets you adjust the size - obviously, if I'd gone for bigger copies, there would be fewer on my fat quarter. 
 As a "thank you" gift for Elizabeth's mom, I cut out one of the panels, and added borders and cornerstones. With batting and backing, voila, you've made a wallhanging in a fraction of the time it took to make the original!
For another friend who's a Los Angeles expatriate, I made this pillow. 
For her, I put my Chicago quilt on the back; 
If you're interested in making your own city quilt, my methods are in my inexpensive student booklet, "Log Cabin Skyscrapers & Modern Quilt Buildings Student Guide," at

And if you'd like to own a picture of this quilt on a poster, travel mug, or clock, you can buy them here! (Attention quilters: Redbubble -and sites like it - are a way to give away your quilts and keep them too!)