Sunday, January 31, 2021

Quilt Your City on Pillows

Out of wall space? How about making some quilted pillows?

I might not have thought of this, if I hadn't been asked. A neighbor saw my pandemic porch quilt show (the subject of my last several blog posts), and commissioned me to make four 18" pillows, including two with scenes from our town, South Pasadena, which is part of Los Angeles. We negotiated a price and a backing color - grey - and I was off. It took about two weeks, and here they are. 

The first one in the lineup above represents the town's Gold Line MTA Train crossing. For research, I took my family on a masked Christmas Day photo safari. Action photography is not my forte; it was surprisingly challenging to catch a shot of a train in mid-intersection. But I got a few.

I also photographed our town's iconic "walking man" statue, next to the station. My daughter did a little leap for me, and she provides scale for just how tall this guy is.

The photos helped me set the scene. 
I imported a walking man photo into my CorelDraw program, and traced it, to make the statue outline. Just for fun, the client and I decided to add a small person with the same profile striding in the opposite direction.
There are two coffee shops next to the tracks, so I created a blue table with coffee and pie in the corner. The small shiny black circles on the railroad crossing pole are tiny, vintage black plastic buttons. 
On the back flap, there's a departing train. 
The second scene that the clients requested was our town's 19th century watering trough. Most of the time, it looks like this.
But on Thursday afternoons and evenings, it's surrounded by a lively farmer's market. So I circled my trough with goodies. Here's how the piece looked flat. 
The ostrich is our town's mascot - 100 years ago, South Pas. was home to an eccentric tourist-trap ostrich farm. Historians say it put  us on the map. 
(The ostriches were not purple, I just did that for fun. The farm no longer exists, which is sad for our town's economy, but happy for the ostriches, who were forced to schlep the tourists around in large wooden carriages.)
Here's the scene as a pillow. 
And I added some more food fabrics to the back. 
The two other pillows that my clients requested were a swimming pool pillow - here it is before assembly...
...and then after the pillow was inserted. 
The clients got the idea from the swimming pool quilt I blogged about a while back, with a tutorial about how I gave the pools depth with sturdy fusible interfacing and reverse applique, HERE

Finally, they wanted a pillow with my tessellating coffee cups design. Before stuffing, it looked like this.
....And after stuffing: 
Showing this pillow on Facebook led to a discussion in which my candid friends agreed that these look less like coffee mugs with handles (my intention), than some kind of bird or alien heads. Whatever you think it looks like, if you want to make your own version, the pattern is in my "Quilts for Coffee Lovers" PDF booklet on etsy, HERE

Have you made quilted pillows?

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Pandemic Porch Quilt Show, Days 46-50: Sunbonnet Sue, Carlson Fish, Hashtags and Sophisticated Squares

 Porch Quilt Show, Day 46  "Sunbonnet Sue Says, 'Me Too'".

I've always enjoyed looking at other peoples' Sunbonnet Sue quilts, yet I was never tempted to make my own - the motif, which dates back to the 1800s, is too sweet for my style. 

Then, the #MeToo movement came along, I was astounded to learn that virtually all my female friends and acquaintances had been molested - many experiencing far worse than I did.

But what about our mothers? And then....what about the women who stitched all the vintage quilts and embroideries in my  collection?

I created the Sue figures from vintage fabric. I appliqued them onto a set of pre-embroidered antimacassars (small linens designed to protect furniture from hair pomade!)
The background is a white pillowcase, and along the bottom of the pillowcase are strangely crocheted female figures, with distorted bodies. 

More photos and info about this quilt is in the blog post here

Day 47 "Hashtag Strips," or, "After the Bleed." In 2016, I made a series of hashtag quilts. In the quilt below, batik scraps form a light hashtag in the center; the borders are scraps of fabric with text on it. 

After construction, there was a dye-bleeding accident - from which I learned a lot. Everything I learned about fixing a dye bleed is here.  

Day 48. Three Carlson Fish
I made this quilt in 2011, using the sketches in Susan Carlson's book, "Free-style Quilts." Carlson is one of the quilt world's most influential artists - her animal collage quilts, books and classes launched an entire subgenre, collaging print fabrics in surprising and delightful ways to create the texture of animal fur, scales, skin, eyes, etc. At every major quilt show I've visited for the last couple of years, there've been a bunch of quilts crediting a Carlson class for the technique. Her most astonishing piece, a 20-foot crocodile, is not to be missed. Find it here

Day 49 "Dresden Fans"
Here's a small Dresden Plate quilt made so long ago that I don't remember much about it. It is entirely hand-quilted - where did I find time? - and the hexagon borders are "cheater" cloth, not pieced. Most wedges are reproduction 1930s fabric, but I blithely added some wildly different wedge colors - like the orange one below.

Day 50 "Sophisticated Squares, I and II"
This is from a series of quilts made during a prolonged game of solitaire - cut a stack of squares in all colors and values, then lay them out, running up and down and all around the color and value scale. Each quilt is 30" - 40" high, so I put out two at a time. On the far left, I went wild with triangles in the borders, while in the right-hand quilt, I used restrained preppy stripes in the borders.  It's so relaxing to play with color this way, and not worry about complicated piecing!

Working with solids, and gradually changing value, makes the colors glow.
Doodling in the squares was also a lot of fun! 
More to come! 

Sunday, December 6, 2020

Pandemic Porch Quilt Show, Days 40-45: Blue Jeans, Scraps, Swimming Pools, Presidents, Chairs

Day #40 Old Jeans

This quilt is titled, "Ce sont des vieux jeans," which means, "These are old jeans," a nod to Magritte's famous not-a-pipe painting.
The title, in cursive, is in the middle of the quilt.

I love working with denim - the blues and whites are so soothing - an oceanic calm interrupted only by the occasional explosion of a sewing machine needle, sending deadly metallic shards flying past my eyeballs, when I make the mistake of attacking a preexisting jeans seam without protection, because I was too lazy to stand up and search for my Jean-a-ma-jig. (They're small, cheap, and easy to lose. No financial affiliation.) 

The curved horizontal pieces are improvisationally rotary cut and stitched. Many more photos of this quilt, and a tutorial on cutting and sewing improv curves, are in my blog post about this quilt, HERE

Day #41 Election Day
For election day -  a stressful day indeed - I hung my husband's American flag, which he acquired in Boy Scouts, offered up with a prayer for sanity and common sense. 

Day #42 Scrap Heaven, or Gerrymandered. 
2013, 40" x 85".
This quilt is the result of a serendipity scrap game. The primary rule: Scraps should arrive on the quilt and be loved just the way they are, without being cut into new shapes. More photos and my tutorial for playing this game is here.

Day #43 Swimming Pools 
About a decade ago, a young German designer named Benedikt Gross, flying into LA, was fascinated by the glittering pools below. He partnered with MIT data scientist Joseph Lee, to map 43,000 local pools (and hot tubs); they analyzed the data and wound up with a 6,000 page report and a voyeuristic back alley Google rover tour of the pools.
An entertaining article about their work appeared in the Los Angeles Times in 2013, at the same exact moment that I had just finished a couple of small pool-themed wallhangings, and wanted to make something bigger. With Gross’ findings in mind, out came this quilt.
The raised effect of the “patio” area area was achieved with Décor Bond interfacing. More details, and a step-by-step tutorial for making your own swimming pool quilt, is on my blog, here.

Day #44. Presidents Speak
My Dad was a historian and community leader. In 2005, his 80th birthday was approaching. The Internet was still newish then – but despite Dad’s age, he had mastered it well enough for flourishing email correspondences. He and his friends discussed history, politics and religion - and traded corny and/or appalling jokes (most of which Dad forwarded to me, except the dirty ones!)
For his 80th , I thought about making him a "post office" quilt - sending his friends and family, pieces of fabric and asking for their return with signatures and decoration. But that didn't seem right or feasible for his crowd.
The solution struck me in a flash: Use the Force, i.e. the Internet! Collecting wise and wise-guy words from Dad's buddies could conceivably take minutes instead of months! It helped that I had complete access to his email list (because he hadn't figured out 'BCC' yet.)
So I did a mass e-mailing. I explained that I owned presidential fabric, featuring heads of most US presidents. I asked people to write a short birthday message; and, as an option, they could pick a U.S. president; and I would literally put their words into that president's mouth!
When the messages flooded in - within minutes, hours, and days, for the most part, I was blown away! See the messages closeup and read more about this quilt on my blog, here.

Day #45. Chair of Chairs
This chair-shaped quilt was partially inspired by chairs spotted on a European vacation; and some are pure fantasy. I am especially fond of the little fried egg chair. (Below, center). 
To the left of the egg chair, there's a chair inspired by a real one cut out of glacial ice in the French Alps. Above the egg, a hand-shaped chair. Below, the top right chair is, of course, inspired by sewing machines, and next to it there's a thunder and lightening chair. More details of this quilt are blogged here