Sunday, March 18, 2018

Teeny Quilts: Ancient Aliens Ate My Necktie Scraps

Everybody needs one! It's a 3" collage, mounted on wood, ready to hang. Each tells a different story. This first one is titled "Alien Reveals Key to Universe: Earth Mushroom!"  
It's an ideal gift for people who watch too much "Ancient Aliens" on the confusingly-named History Channel. The piece is mounted with double-sided carpet tape (but consider something stronger*) on a craft store wooden square that I'd painted black. On the reverse side, there's a wire loop for hanging, bent forward, and held on with plenty of glue and black felt. 
(Here's how the wire looked before gluing. I made little swirls to maximize the surface area:)

But wait, there's more! "Flight Over Mt. Fuji, with Daisies" includes a blue volcano, a mother-of-pearl moon, and a dove charm smack in the middle (hard to see). Not to mention the gravity-defying giraffes marching heavenward in the upper right hand corner (I blame ancient aliens.) 
And finally, "The Cat Demands an Allowance"
Can you see the cat charm in the middle? I wish these pieces had more contrast. Next time I'll try using neckties with a more consistent, darker value, so the embellishments pop more. (By the way, the artistic keys came from Kay Mackenzie, the queen of applique - thank you, Kay!)

This all started a couple of weeks ago, when I made some heart-shaped silk scrap valentine brooches by overlaying dupioni silk scraps on black felt, placing tulle on top, freemotion quilting over the whole thing, then cutting out shapes. (Detailed directions in the last post). 

This time, instead of dupioni, I chopped up old neckties. First, I fused larger pieces down to a piece of black felt. 
Then I cut smaller, triangular pieces and strewed them about. A temporary glue stick held them in place. Next I laid a gridwork of silver and white yarn and crochet cord (inspired by Fran Harkes' wonderful brooch tutorial here.)
I smoothed a piece of dark navy tulle on top - hard to detect, but you can see it along the right edge.  Pinned the cording intersections to hold them in place.
 I straight-line quilted everything in a grid, diagonally and vertically through all the rectangles created by the cords.
 Cut the piece edge into a large rectangle.
I sub-cut several 3" squares (to match the wood pieces that I had lying around the house). Blanket stitched around the edges.
And embellished like crazy. Meanwhile, outside, I painted the wooden shapes, front and back. 
I couldn't bear to throw away even a small scrap of my constructed fabric. So I made these two pins from some of the leftovers. 
They're a scant 2" across, cut to fit on a wooden oval (although I ended up not putting them on the wood backing. Instead, I sewed a safety pin to the back to make a brooch! 

 Too much fun! Again, my initial tutorial about how to do it is here.

(*One of my giftees informed me in the comments below that the carpet tape didn't hold. In that case, I'd recommend hot glue from a glue gun. Other suggestions welcomed!)

Sunday, March 11, 2018

The Shirt Off His Back, Into His Quilt

Is there someone in your life who doesn't want you to buy him or her anything new? I so admire anti-materialists, including both men in my immediate family. DH doesn't want me to buy him anything fresh that isn't meat, while for DS, vegan artisanal chocolate is usually the best (and only) bet. 
Sometimes I cave to their principles, and sometimes I outwit them by making them quilts, since both are way too polite to return them. Here's the small Valentine quilt I made my husband this year.
I'm thinking of calling it "Nothing New." It's a love letter, quadruple-upcycled: 
1. All the squares (cut 2") and half-square triangles are cut from jeans. I forgot to photograph the front before embellishment, but here's the back of the top, before layering and quilting: 
2. The buttons are all thrifted/upcycled. Wood! Plastic! Leather! = Manly!(?)

3. The denim with the angsty angel was formerly a couch cover.
4. The binding and back are cut from one of of DH's Hawaiian shirts. This particular shirt gave him many years of distinguished service (Hawaiian shirt = dress for success in his science world). Eventually, the collar disintegrated, forcing me to smuggle it out of the laundry and into my stash. The same shirt also provided backing.
In sum, there's nothing new in this quilt except, arguably, the thread. The love that went into it is also well-aged!

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Epic Rhyming Quilt: Just Attach Trash!

SAQA, the Studio Art Quilt Associates organization, recently hosted a "Rhyme or Reason" challenge, and entries closed at the end of February. Here's the piece I entered. 
If you like crossword puzzles, Scrabble, and other word games - and sewing tiny random things to quilts - you might want to consider making a variation of this kooky, obsessive project. It's a brain teaser for the maker as well as the giftee. 

I started by sewing 100 2" squares together. 
(I'm hooked on running up and down the value scale and all around the color wheel, brightest values in the center - but you do your thing. You can also make all the squares the same color!) 

Flip to the back. Press all the seams open, to create partitions. This is your new front. Add batting and backing, and finish the edges any way you want. (I did a pillowcase turn.)
Now fill the squares with tiny junk which rhymes, and which, for additional eye-exercise, has a color that sort-of matches its square. Every one of the 100+ objects on this quilt rhymes with at least one other object. Some rhyme with two or more. I've counted 70+ rhymes, which I track in a five-page document attached to the quilt.  

Here's what I'm talking about. (I'm not going to yell; I'm going to capitalize words that rhyme.) 

The blue CAR button below rhymes with the JAR button under it (I usually placed rhyming pairs far apart, but this rhyme occurred to me after the quilt was finished.) The CAR originally rhymed with a STAR elsewhere on the quilt, and the jar I initially thought of as a VASE which rhymed with a FACE and piece of LACE elsewhere.
The word FAST above, right, rhymes with a FORECAST, below.  The thread SPOOL rhymes with a JEWEL elsewhere; the cake-decoration baby above I'm calling a TYKE, to rhyme with a silver BIKE charm in the photo below; or, call him/her a DOLL, to rhyme with a soccer BALL.

The purple guitar PICK below rhymes with a CANDLESTICK tie tack elsewhere; the seaSHELL, left of the pick, rhymed with the toy wishing WELL, on the middle right of the same photo. In the left middle, there's a fluorescent green PEAR that I rhymed with a red BEAR and rocking CHAIR. The DICE will soon rhyme with MICE.
Above, in the upper right corner, is the needle THREADER, that I rhymed with the soccer ball HEADER below. Next to the pink ball, the SQUIRREL rhymes with a PEARL (fake).
The BELT, next to the clown, matches a piece of purple FELT.  Here are the MICE (glued to a shank button) that rhymed with the DICE.
In the middle of the next photo, the bright triangle, can you see the etched PAGODA, in what was my Mom's solo glass earring? 
I rhymed that sucker with a teeny can of SODA (top left in the photo below.) Next to the soda, the red BEER/CAP rhymes with a tiny DEER or SNAP. (Punched a hole in the top side of the cap with a hammer and nail.) The pot of GOLD with a rainbow, on the upper right corner of the photo below - goes with a denim bead that's ROLLED; it also represents LUCK to rhyme with a DUCK.
The pink creature immediately above gave me three rhymes: PIG (SPRIG); HOG (DOG) and BOAR (DINOSAUR). Above the pig, the mini-credit CARD rhymed with a can of LARD (below, middle).
South of the Crisco is the pink glass DOG that rhymed with HOG; I also used his MUZZLE to rhyme with a piece from a PUZZLE; and PUP to rhyme with a CUP. Above, lower right corner is a metal FEATHER that rhymes with the WEATHER badge in the photo below, plus green LEATHER. Above in the upper left corner is the Big DIPPER that I embroidered, to go with a ZIPPER;  the blue dog TAG in the rightmost column above rhymes with a handBAG and a STAG.

Below, on the upper left, is the orange CHAIR rhymes with BEAR, HAIR, and PEAR; a DINO (RHINO); an oval shisha mirror signifying YOU, which rhymes with....
...the number TWO (below, a Brownie patch), plus anything BLUE. Next to the number is the piece of FELT, which I rhymed with the BELT....the DOLPHIN, which I rhymed with a safety PIN (or PORPOISE which I rhymed with the alien CORPUS).
Below, a peace SIGN (FELINE, TWINE) or just PEACE  (FLEECE, on a lamb). Under it is the swatch of LEATHER (FEATHER, WEATHER).
Below, the sew-in SNAP that rhymed with the Kona beer CAP. There's also a broken HEART/FIBER ART (is that cheating?) There's the PUZZLE piece that rhymed with MUZZLE.
Below, there's a broom (which I made from pine needles and a chopstick); it rhymes with MUSHROOM and BLOOM. The FROG rhymes with the DOG and HOG, the pink BOOT rhymes with FRUIT, and the ALIEN rhymes with the SAFETY PIN and DOLPHIN. (Except when he's a CORPUS, to rhyme with PORPOISE).
And so forth. This was so freaking much fun, so obsessive - and so challenging. I'm a professional writer - but never of poetry - and I had no idea it would be so difficult to find rhyming nouns, especially if they have to be depicted in toys, beads, and other tchatchkes, in randomly pre-selected colors. 

In fact I literally started dreaming about this quilt, jubilantly discovering new rhymes. Tip: Keep a notepad nearby, even when asleep. As soon as you think of a rhyme, write it down, because it's amazing how fleeting they can be. (When you wake up, you may discover the rhyme doesn't exist.)

It didn't help that my sewing room is at the opposite end of the house from my computer, and I don't have a paper rhyming dictionary. So I didn't consult an online rhyming dictionary until late in the process. When I finally did start using (this one), it wasn't a huge help - the reason I couldn't think of rhymes is because there often aren't many - especially not rhymes that are memorialized in tiny objects. 

Take octopii. Please. Despite owning several adorable octopus buttons and charms that I would have loved to put on this quilt,  I never found a common noun to rhyme with OCTOPUS (autobus pronounced the French way?)

I have a lovely charm in the shape of a THIMBLE, but what does that rhyme with? Dimple? RIPPLE wine? And the plastic BABY drove me CRAZY. BABY/RABIES? I have a ton of bellydancer COINS, but what is there beyond LOINS?

Not to mention my ceramic button in the shape of a sewing MACHINE (Fabric that's CLEAN? Meat that's LEAN? Clown that's MEAN?). 

A friend gave me a cute little fabric applique of a rotary CUTTER that I really wanted to stitch to the quilt, but the only rhyme I could come up with was UDDER and none of my cow toys or buttons had discernible udders (Grrrr, why are toy manufacturers not making anatomically correct cows?) 

And does anything rhyme with ROTARY besides a miniature NOTARY? 

I have a pendant that is a  resin-encased aspen LEAF, but all I can rhyme with LEAF is good GRIEF!  My stray Monopoly piece - the IRON - will only sorta rhyme with the Life of BRIAN (Monty Python buttons haven't been invented.) And surprisingly few words rhyme with my hex NUT and wing NUT. SMUT? HUT? BUTT? Please, this is a G-rated quilt. 

In short, this project has given me new respect for poets and songwriters, although of course, unlike quilters, they can use abstractions to rhyme with LEAF, like GRIEF, and difficult-to-miniaturize NOTARIES in their POETRIES.

I think this thing would make great decor for a pediatrician's office, or a kids' room.  Frame it in Lucite, so a child doesn't break the glass to get to the toys. 

Want to make one yourself? If you're in a rush, you could just shop the novelty button section of the craft or fabric store. But if you have a little more time, diversify.  

STAGE I: Upcycle your junk. Look in the:
  • Household junk drawer
  • Sewing basket(s) Along with the safety PIN, needle THREADER, SPOOL of THREAD, and ZIPPER, I also attached a giant blue plastic yarn NEEDLE to my quilt, to sorta rhyme with a metal BEETLE.
  • Fabric stash I used SILK, LEATHER, LACE and FELT to create rhymes. 
  • Bathroom cabinet I used a sweet little BARRETTE from my daughter's childhood, to rhyme  with BRACELET. I could imagine using a Q-TIP, to rhyme with a computer CHIP.  A hair ELASTIC could rhyme with something PLASTIC. Although PILL rhymes with TWILL, I don't recommend gluing prescription medication to the quilt.
  • Rock collection MALACHITE/SATELLITE; HEMATITE/KITE; OBSIDIAN/Joan DIDION, never mind. (BTW, nothing rhymes with PEBBLE. Feel free to correct me.) (OK, maybe REBEL.)
  • Costume jewelry 
  • Button box
  • Carpentry or metalwork workshops Rusty SCREW goes with Barbie's SHOE; a bent NAIL, goes with a PAIL, a BOLT goes with a COLT. 
  • Recycling bin You can use cardboard - this quilt will never be washed. Cut out the chart of Nutrition FACTS, pair them with candle WAX? You could laminate cardboard, too. PROTEIN/SEWING MACHINE! Eureka! CARBOHYDRATES? Anyone?
  • Toy boxes  Pay special attention to Shrinky-Dinks, Creepy Crawlers, Polly Pockets, Littlest Pet Shop, etc. 
  • Scouting badges Ask permission before cutting them off a uniform. The ones I used were all flea market extras.
  • Old games Scrabble tiles, puzzle pieces, Monopoly pieces. The older they are, the cooler your quilt. It would be fun to come up with an all-vintage version. 
STAGE 2: Make Stuff
  • If you're good with polymer clay, you can make an awful lot of recognizable object. If you're good at drawing or painting with permanent markers, you can draw on shank buttons
  • I didn't - but could also have glued details cut from novelty fabrics onto cover buttons or shank buttons. 
And if those doesn't provide enough rhyming objects, move to Step 3, shopping, at:
  • Thrift shops An especially good place to find old games. 
  • The gumball machine Fascinating crap, including my collection of miniature plastic rifles and guns (why do they sell these to children?)
  • The music store  I found brightly colored guitar picks with ready-made holes; consider other musical supplies like clarinet REEDS (WEEDS? SEEDS? BEADS!) Our local music store also sells instrument charms. (GUITAR/STAR/CAR/crow BAR). 
  • The cake decorating store - the baby, squirrel, clown's head, and more on my quilt were cake or cupcake decorations. Cake decorations are some of the campiest, funniest stuff you'll ever find outside of a gumball machine.
  • The bead store - Not just the metal charm department - also check out the glass and ceramic novelty beads, like the trompe l'oeil brown glass coffee bead below, which I mounted on a square cut from a foil coffee bag. (I could not find anything to rhyme with coffee. The rhyming dictionary suggests Qaddafee, but that's in poor taste. Instead, I used a rhyme for coffee BEAN - a piece of window SCREEN.) 
  • Other hobby stores; the model train store (trees, people); the dollhouse store (home furnishings), and of course the hardware store (screen, nails, etc.)
  • The liquor store. Buy beer with colorful/interesting CAPs. I couldn't find a suitable rhyme for CORK, but you might. (Wait, I just thought of one! A pig - it's PORK! Why didn't I think of that sooner?)
  • The craft store, of course. Along with bead and button sections, they may have a miniatures section. And they also sell findings that you can use to attach weird things to your quilt. 
  • MELT A HOLE:  If it's plastic, go to a well-ventilated area and use a pointy crafting heat tool or a soldering iron to melt a hole in the back. For example, the clown above - I used my craft tool to melt a hole through the back of his ruff. 
  • GLUE IT TO A SHANK BUTTON. If it's not meltable, or it's too small to safely melt, glue it to a shank button. I like Liquid Fusion glue. If you use a fabric-covered shank button, the hold will be better than with plastic.  Here's the mini soda can on a green twill-covered shank button: 
GLUE IT DIRECTLY ON THE QUILT I didn't do this, but some people do. The only thing I don't like about this is that you can't switch objects around. Once it's glued, it's staying right there. 

WRAP IT IN TULLE AND SEW IT ON My friend Marion told me this worked for rocks. And speaking of rocks, you can also,

WIRE IT ON Below is a polished ROCK (rhymes with HAWK, CLOCK, CHALK, BLOCK) that I wrapped with wire. I made a small wrapped loop at the top to stitch to the fabric.  (Also call it a STONE, which I rhymed with a button BONE). 
BUTTON COVERS and FINDINGS - Remember, those bulky things you slid onto buttons, to jazz up a shirt?  I think they were big in the 80's. I bought an extravagent collection from a thrift shop 1990s - lots with holiday themes, like the St. Patrick's Day pot of gold and the mini-credit card you saw in the quilt above.
Browsing the web, I can't find many button covers except vintage ones on ebay and etsy. But if you google "snap-on button covers" you can find blank ones. Glue your object to the front, slide it onto a regular button, and snap it shut. 

TIE TACK FINDINGS  These findings are like stud earrings. Instead of sewing it to the quilt, poke a hole through the quilt, and hold it in position with the rear finding. 

Have fun with this idea! And/or send rhymes! I had so much fun with this quilt, I might do it again! What have you made that rhymes?

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

QuiltCon 2018: The Main Event!

In my last installment, I tackled the shopping and the charity quilts at Quiltcon 2018. Now it's time for the main event!

 I spent much of yesterday writing this report. I believe there were 500 quilts in the show. I took about 600 photos, and the prospect of paring them down for this blog post terrified me! So the following report comes with the following disclaimers:
  • I can't say that these quilts are my absolute favorites - they're the quilts I loved and happened to fulfill the impulse to snap a picture! I walked around the show in a total state of overwhelm, plus I was discussing things with friends, so many quilts I missed entirely. Truly, I loved them all, like my children, all for different reasons.
  • Photos of all the QuiltCon award winners are posted by the Modern Quilt Guild here, so I won't show them again unless absolutely necessary.
  • I saw a few political quilts at QuiltCon 2016; two years later, there are many more, including ones that look completely abstract, and I didn't realize they were making a statement until I got home and read the labels I photographed. If I can generalize: A lot of modern quilters are working through a lot of ideas about what's happening in the country, and how they can take positive action.
My apologies if your quilt isn't here and you wish it were; or if your quilt is here and you wish it weren't. In the latter case I will take it down immediately (email me at I welcome corrections, clarifications, or if you just want to add something.

With all that said, here are just a few of the many quilts that grabbed me and/or my camera....

When I walked into the exhibit hall, one of the first things I saw was this was this huge quilt.
And it turns out that it's a RAFFLE quilt! If I'd made it, I'd never let it out of my sight. It's a friggin' masterpiece, designed and pieced by Hillary Goodwin of Auburn, CA, quilted by Rachael Dorr. Hillary's statement says it's a "modern minimalist take on the classic log cabin and inset circle piecing. The piece is a testament to the power of design, piecing and quilting collaboration." The microquilting is superhuman.
Right near it was another gorgeous prizewinner - "Happy Dance" by Sandra Kaye of Jacksonville, Florida: (it won 'Best Machine Quilting'). I used it to direct people where my quilt was hanging....
 ....slightly to to the right, way back there! (closer view in this earlier blog post). I felt that the  proximity to the winners rubbed some of their glory off on me!
I will confess that I spent much of my time at the show ruthlessly propping friends in front of it and taking their pictures. 
They were forced to cooperate, Sunday was also my birthday.  I was so excited I was visibly vibrating.

Nearby, also in the small quilts category, was "What Apple?" by Krista Hennebury of North Vancouver, Canada, made from class demos she created when teaching improvisational piecing.
Neither Krista nor I, nor other people with similar quilts were spying on each other with our sewing machine circuitry or microwave ovens. There are are only so many ways you can chop up and rearrange squares! I don't have even a clue to how the judges picked from so many similar (yet distinctive) improv quilts!

"Shine a Light," was also made by Hillary Goodwin, who made the raffle quilt. Moon over the Mountain is a traditional quilt pattern that I've always loved, and Hillary made unusual color choices; her statement explained that she made it in resolution to take positive action after the divisive election.
Next, "The Blue Room" by Juli Smith of Valley Village, California. "A photograph I took in Thailand of looking up at a window really caught my modern quilter's eye, but I wanted to simplify and abstract it. This is where I landed!"
Juli had another moving pieced quilt in the show: B4U. I saw a mom lovingly pointing out all the fours to her young child, but Juli's intention was adult. She wrote, "B4U Hate was hiding, but LOVE will prevail. In memory of Heather Heyer, and all those who have lost their lives while fighting against hate and intolerance." 
Next, "Ode to Thiebaud," by Lori Mapes of Liberty Lake, Washington State. "I am drawn to Wayne Thiebaud's colorful repeating images of everyday pastries" She developed the paper piecing pattern. 
Here's "Bending Petal" by Karen Lee of Happy Valley, Oregon. "I started this piece in Stefanie Ruyle's class ....the thin orange branches which go out from the stem are 1/16th inch thick inset seams." 
"Opposites" is a wall quilt by Katherine Jones of Tasmania, Australia: 
She writes, "exploring the idea of small and large piecing, warm and cool colours,  I made over 700 one inch by two inch geese , then joined these to form partial very large geese....I created shadow geese flying in the opposite direction...." This was part of the American Patchwork and Quilting Flying Geese Quilt Challenge.  

And speaking of oranges and rusts, the vivid color in this quilt was like getting my back scratched. It's "Pencil Us In," by Debra Jalbert of Clermont, Florida. "This quilt was made for my friend Lori who is getting married in March... It is leftover pieces from a class that I sliced apart and reconfigured." 
"Kapow" by Marilyn Lone of Woodinvill, Washington started as a Japanese-style papercut, which she then translated into fabric.
After reviewing my pictures, I noticed that I really was drawn to the circular designs. Sarah Hibbert, from the UK, made this gorgeous piece titled "Macaroons," quilted by Christine Perrigo of Denver. I met Sarah in the line to pick up our quilts after the show, and she is as delightful as this quilt. My photo doesn't do it justice. 
Detail. (The black is very dark black, except in my pictures.)
Below, "Overlay" by Cassandra Beaver of Urbana, Ohio. It's a traditional flock of geese pattern interrupted by floating circles.
"Clambake" by Heather Black of Spokane, Washington, is pieced. "...This design came out of nowhere and fell into place," she wrote. 
The lively "Infinite IV" (with an accent over the 'e') is in the Improvisation category. It was made by Sophie Zaugg of Le Sentier, Switzerland, who writes, "This quilt is the last of a series of four quilts, each circle representing a day of the year." Hand appliqued and machine pieced. 
There were some wonderful ombre effects - some hand dyed, some commercial cottons. "Shining Through," by Di Jobbins of New South Wales, Australia, was one. "Inspired by the traditional Cathedral Windows pattern, I appliqued, by machine and hand, over 500 dimensional diamonds in varying shades of grey-on-grey. My goal was to create the effect of light softly kissing a decorative metallic surface, with my favorite jewel colours glowing through scattered portholes." 
"Clinging to the Edge," in the Improvisation category, was made by Irene Roderick of Austen, Texas. It's one in a series of whimsical and cheerful quilts, "meant to remind me how to play again. " 
The next quilt, "Sacred Heart," was made by one of my new quilt world idols, Christina Cameli (her Wild Quilting class on Craftsy class improved both my quilting and my self esteem, no affiliation): 
She writes, "The center of this quilt features a block improvised by my grandmother on a day we were sewing together. After her death I was moved to make this quilt. It is a visual story about how one woman influenced the world around her, and how her influence continues after her." 

As part of a Michael Miller fabric challenge, Cheryl Brickey of Greer, South Carolina made this piece she calls "Pop Rocks." It began "as a minimalist Dresden Plate design which morphed into its final version, which was made using templates and curved piecing."
In the Modern Traditionalism category, Krista Hennebury (who made the third quilt from the top of this post), also made "Pop Stars," quilted by Carol Chernov of Twin Creek Quilts. Krista's been experimenting with improvisation, and "the 8-pointed star has long been on my make list. Combining improv units with background triangles cut from Nancy Zieman templates allowed me to piece this quilt without Y-seams." (Given that the sewing world lost Nancy Zieman so recently, it was nice to see her name at the show.)
Here are some colors I might never have chosen, but Annmarie Cowley from Hillsboro, Oregon clearly is more courageous, plus she took cues from fabric manufacturers. It's called "'Waynesboro Cherry Wreath' Gone Modern." "Using skills familiar to me, as well as a circle template, I recreated an embroidered, hand-appliqued family heirloom into this modern version. I chose the Pantone Color of the Year, 'Greenery', for the leaves, and the Kona Color of the Year, 'Flamingo,' for the background." 
"12 Shades of ?" is the name of the next quilt, in the Applique category, made by Pat Forster of Mount Pleasant, Australia. "Twelve shades of autumn, persimmon, marigold?" she writes. "I'll choose marigold because the shades and motifs remind me of marigolds in my father's garden. The motif was inspired by the 7 Dragon fractal at Paper-pieced hexagons, appliqued to blocks based on the Drunkards path block." My friend and I thought it looked like petri dishes. 
Flattened circles are featured in "Train Track Pennies" by Laura Hartrich of Oak Park, Illinois. It was "constructed with my grandma's clothes and inspired by pennies we used to flatten on the train tracks behind her house and featuring shorthand symbols that list the attributes I admired in my grandma, this is a memory quilt that has several layers of meaning." 
The next piece, in the Improvisation category, is the gorgeous "Configuration: Kasuri with Five Lines," by Julie Haddrick of Adelaide, Australia. "Interest in Japanese kasuri fabrics inspired this piece, and the linear curves and figure ground relationships in the quilt interacts with a vast selection of fabrics." Another inspiration for her is the work of Nancy Crow.
The second time I walked through the Modern Traditionalism category, I looked up in the sky and saw this: 
It's "Wedding Rings and Crossroads" by Kathy York, a fantastic fiber artist. The keen-eyed white glove volunteer saw me taking the picture... 
...and pulled back the corner! Wow!
Also up in the sky was the gigantic "Six Pairs of Pants," by renowned artist and teacher Sheri Lynn Wood of Oakland, CA. 
It was one of several not-conventionally-beautiful quilts which, Sherri explained, were "scavenged from the Public Disposal and Recycle Area at Recology San Francisco, from June-September 2016. During my four-month residency, I explored the concept of 'making do' as a receptive creative strategy for life after systems collapse. In this series of quilts I allowed the shapes of the garments to be expressed, resulting in works of unusual geometric abstraction that are simultaneously suggestive of the human body." Find Sherri's workshop on this topic and many more, here. (I want to take them all.) 

In the minimalist design category, I found a provocative quilt by another well-known quilter and author, Jacquie Gering of Kansas City, Missouri, one of the founders of the modern quilt movement. 
"'Veer' expresses my concern over the direction my country is going in," she writes, " also confirms my commitment to political and community action, and to be part of the solution." 

"Hiss" by Sarah Sharp of Carmel, Indiana had a one-sentence description: "If you're going to throw a snake on the bed, might as well make it a nice one." 
"Fireflies," by Sarah sharp of Carmel, Indiana, pieced by Rachael Dorr (the same longarmer who did the raffle quilt at the top of this post)  is paper pieced. 
Maybe because my profession is writing, I was moved to take pictures of many of the quilts with words on them. These are just a few. First, a machine-pieced quilt by Lysa Flower of Maple Ridge, Canada is devastatingly described in a short phrase: "One big note to self." 
"Strong Tradition" is by Alison Chambers and Emily Robbins of San Antonio Texas. They write,"We wanted to honor the women who taught us to quilt, to fight, and those who have used quilting to fight against injustices. We designed letters that could be pieced, thereby keeping with the custom of traditional pieced quilts. We sewed this quilt side by side, in homage to the tradition of women gathering to quilt together...."
"Good Luck," by Jessica Wohl of Tennessee, is made from shirts, sheets, clothes and tulle. 
Inspired by an essay by TaNehisi Coats, it's a reflection on how some Americans are prevented from achieving the American dream, with a white picket fence. 

Next, "She Was Warned" by Liz Havartine of  Burbank, CA, was inspired by Elizabeth Warren "and all the other women who stand up and fight." 
Here's Chawne Kimber's "Get Woke." I was introduced to Chawne's brilliant work at QuiltCon 2016. Chawne is a quilt teacher as well as a college math professor in Easton, PA. "This quilt is a reaction to and encouragement of the current social wakening in the US," she wrote. The hand stitching is inspired by Alabama Channin, "yet transforms the idea with more layers and to bring depth to the work." 

"Feminist quilt." in the Applique category by Darci Read of  West St. Paul, MN, came from a 1995 Hillary Clinton quotation. Darci made the quilt to carry at the January 2017 women's march.  "Quilts and sewing have been a comfort to me, so I had to make a quilt for the march because I REALLY felt terrible. (Plus I don't know how to knit, so a pussy hat was out). As I walked, I gained strength. I felt the strength of the women and men and children and families that were marching with....Stay Loud!"
In a similar vein, there's "Ms. Conceived" by Miriam Coffey of Lake Junaluska, North Carolina. In the Negative Space category (very ironically), this quilt  - which can't be read from a distance - says, "The Feminist Word." 
Miriam writes, "Feminism - too often is regarded as the other 'F' word. In current society, the meaning has been misconstrued and contorted to be a dirty word or even used as an insult. This quilt celebrates the fight and continual need to stand up for what is right...[and]what it means to be a Feminist - a proud human fighting for equality, opportunity, and autonomy for all." It's machine appliqued. 

"White America" by Jessical Wohl of Sewanee, TN,"calls into question the whiteness of our country and its relationship to who speaks and who listens, or who needs to speak and who needs to listen...Using reverse applique, the text cuts into the layer of white, like a skin revealing a blanket of red, a wound or bodily cut, addressing the physical trauma our country is enduring. The 'blue' section of the flag is comprised exclusively of men's business shirts, incorporating notions of labor, collared workers (white and blue) classism and capitalism."
In the Youth category, here's the witty "Twitter Tantrums" by Carina Cabriales of Antioch, CA, one of several Social Justice Sewing Academy projects. 
"The Here There and Elsewhere Bee" by Andrea Tsang Jackson, of Halifax, Canada, is a graph - a compilation of data from the immigration histories of 1197 visitors to the Canadian Museum of Immigration. (Read more about it here.) Whoops, it's also a prizewinner.
"Stand Together" by Sara Guidry of Shawnee, Kansas, is a small quilt that asks you to "put yourself in the position of a World War I soldier lined up to fight....Each red poppy represents a million WWI soldiers killed. Inspired by the World War I Museum in Kansas, and art by Paul Sunderland called "Bridge over a Field of Poppies."

And finally, the Modern Quilt world did not come out of nowhere. The path was forged by many daring artists, particularly African-American quilters (Gee's Bend, of course), and many pioneering  art quilters. The quilt world lost one of those people in 2016: Yvonne Porcella, founder of the Studio Art Quilters Association, whose colorful quilts conveyed so much joy. One of the exhibits in the main hall was "SAQA Presents: Modern Inspirations - Art Quilts from the 1970s through Today." Among the many fantastic quilts, it was very moving to see a Porcella original, "Razzle Dazzle,"which she made in 1981. Her books are still widely available, and she left behind an extraordinary body of work, which you can browse on her website, here
Here's Yvonne. 
And there we have it - fewer than 8% of the quilts in the show. There is so much more I'm not describing here - like the awesome retrospective of quilts by Carolyn Friedlander (a video of the exhibit is here, and more on Friedlander's website here.) You're just going to have to come to the next QuiltCon yourself!

My thanks to the Modern Quilt Guild, to the Los Angeles Chapter and all the members who worked so hard to set up and run such a complicated, wonderful, rich convention, and also to locate it in the town next to me. I am beyond grateful.

Related links in my blog:
Also, many more political quilts at