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 Spoonflower.com; 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 https://www.etsy.com/listing/721798858/log-cabin-skyscrapers-modern-quilt

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!)

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Last-Minute Quilted Christmas Gift Tutorial! And Chanukah Stuff Too!

Need last-minute gifts? The tutorial below may be educational for beginning quilter, and pure recreation for the experienced. It shows how to make gift'-themed potholders/trivets/ kitchen art from strips.

I made them from a roll of  Christmas strips bought on the "Sew Its for Sale" email list - formerly a Yahoo group, now on groups.io, here. This list is a dangerous cyber-yard sale - folks buy and sell their good-condition sewing supplies, for reasonable prices.

I'd been wanting a little Christmas fabric, enough to make presents for friends. When the strips arrived, I was delighted - it was a hefty roll of high-quality 1"-2" strips, in 10 different fabrics. 

You don't have to use holiday fabric for this project, of course - it would work well with food fabrics, florals, or, for a dramatic modern look, with solids.


1. Any kind of strips work, including 2.5" precuts. If you don't own precuts, cut strips from an assortment of fabrics. They can all be the same width, or varied. Cut to 26" to make two potholders (or 13" for one).

2. Press and lay out the strips. I alternated lights and darks, but you could also do a gradient, from lightest to darkest. When they're around 13" wide (before sewing), you have enough. 
3. Separate and sew the strips into pairs. Why? Because if you just keep adding strips to one side, they will start to curve, and then it's hard to straighten them!

4. Note that in the second position (from the left) in the photo below, I put a dramatic fabric - green sparkly leaves. I will also use that fabric as the vertical piece for one of the potholders. On the far right of the photo below, one pair is sewn.
 5. After sewing each pair, press shut....
 6. ...Then press open. Press the seam allowance to the dark side if your light fabric is thin - if it isn't thin, press all seam allowances in the same direction.
7. Keep joining pairs and pressing, until each strip has at least one partner. Then, pick up the central pair, and add pairs to its right, and to its left sides.
 8. You're done when the set is about 12" high. Cut the strip set into squares about 10 or 11" across. You'll have two rectangles like this:
 9. Within each, cut 3" off the left side.

 10. From the leftover strip set (not the pieces above), cut one or two strip sets 1.7" - 2"  across. These will serve as the vertical "ribbons" on one or both potholders.
 11. Flip a narrow strip around and sew it between the two parts of one (or both) squares.
 12. On back, press seam allowances of the narrow strip inward, to give it height over the rest of the 'package.'
13. On the other square, either repeat the procedure, or use one of the fabric strips. Here I cut an extra strip of the green leafy fabric. Again, press both seam allowances inward.
14. Cut a double-layer of batting, slightly bigger than both tops. 
15. Make the hanging loop: Cut another piece of the "ribbon" fabric to 1.75" x 4.5".  Press edges inward, to meet in the center.
16. Press in half, to enclose the cut edges. Stitch along the open edge. (Use matching color thread, unlike here.)
A whimsical alternative is a rick-rack loop - you'll see how that looks in the projects at the bottom of this post.

17. Make the backs. Use one fabric, or many. I used coffee fabrics with lots of red, to coordinate with the front and make these potholders suitable for all occasions. Each strip is about 4 1/2" high, wide enough so the back will be a little larger than the top.
18. Place a top, face down, on a slightly larger back. Place both of them on top of a double layer of cotton batting.
19. Insert the loop between the layers, above the vertical strip, or next to a corner (at least 1/2" away). The loop part is pointing inwards.  Place the two cut edges of the loop about 1/4" above the raw edges of the top.
 20. Sew around the top, 1/4" from the edges, leaving a 4" gap.
21. The photo below shows the sewing path in black. Backstitch at the start and end. You can also backstitch and go forward again over the base of the loop. End just past the last vertical strip seam, so there's an unsewn 3"- 4" gap. 
22. Trim all edges to a scant quarter-inch from the stitching line. I use a rotary cutter and ruler to do this trimming, carefully and slowly, to avoid accidentally cutting seams.
23. Trim diagonally across corners to about 1/8" beyond the stitching line.

24. Head for the ironing board. At the gap, press the front seam allowance neatly upwards.

25. Turn right side out. Use a chopstick to push out the corners. Press the fabric and batting at the gap inward. I like to use a strip of Steam-a-Seam II quarter-inch paper-backed fusible, inside the seam allowance.
If you do have Steam-a-Seam quarter inch strips handy, cut a piece to a little less than the width of the gap, and press it in position, on back of the top's seam allowance. Below is a view of the gap from the back.
You can just see the paper that backs the Steam-a-Seam, in the lowest part of the opening, above. Peel away the paper, then press the edges together with a hot iron.

26. If you didn't use fusible at the gap, hand-sew the gap shut.

27. Press the entire piece well, front and back.

28. Quilt it! I used white thread to quilt "in the ditch" around each light-colored strip. I also quilted 1/8" in from the edges, all the way around. I quilted in the ditch surrounding the vertical strips, but I did not quilt within either vertical strip.
Wasn't that fun? But if the present is due in 35 minutes, you can make this. Note the red rick-rack loop on top. 

But what if your precuts are squares? Here's kitchen art made from Judaic fabrics cut into mostly into 4" squares - except the dove in the central position, cut to about 5" high x 4" wide.

The gorgeous dove was designed by fabric and quilt designer Faye Nicoll. The navy version is widely available online (no financial affiliation).
The back has wicker stars.

The next two have squares representing several different Jewish holidays, including dreidels (for Chanukah), and matzoh (for Passover!)

Below, there are Hebrew letters, candlesticks, a scroll, an afikomen bag, and a menorah, as well as matzoh fabric stitched in rows to create a realistic texture.

Most of my Judaic fabric was purchased from 1-800-dreidel.com, https://www.1-800-dreidel.com/hanukkahfabrics.aspx.

Whatever you celebrate, I wish you and your family a happy, healthy, creative holiday season, and the best of luck with any last-minute gifts you may be making!