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

Sunday, November 29, 2020

Pandemic Porch Quilt Show, Days 36-39: Airplanes, Civil War, Play Castle, Flower Power

Day 36: Airplane Blanket This family favorite was made for my kids, in the late 90s, from a delightful print of animals flying airplanes.

The border features consecutive yellow triangles, called "flying geese," made into giant arrows with the help of a multi-colored stripe serving as each arrow's shaft.  

Day 37: A Very Civil War
Our country survived the Civil War, and I hung this war-era quilt on November 3, just before the election, as a reminder to vote!
I found these blocks in a rural antique shop in upstate NY in the early 90s - there was a big stack, priced at $5 per block. To save money, I only bought 8, which of course, I later regretted - I should have bought the entire stack! I sewed them into this 26" x 50" wall hanging and quilted it.
These are the most traditional of what quilters call "log cabin" blocks, each with a red square in the center, representing hearth and home. In today's pandemic, I feel a little bit too stuck in my hearth and home - but with full knowledge that home is safer than the alternative, and grateful to the essential workers who are putting their lives on the line by leaving home every day.
The prints are fascinating. Even though it's a small quilt, you can look at the different fabrics for a long time.

Day 38: Interactive Castle Quilt I made this one for my kids also in the late 90s.
The animals dressed as royalty were fairly large, so I stuffed them as dolls, and made a pockets for each, with the same figure appliqued to the top of the pocket.

There's a castle on the back, plus one more pocket (red, on bottom) for the jester. The gold-trimmed piece on the very bottom can be buttoned off when the rest of the quilt needs laundering!

Day 39: "Flower Power." My newest large finished quilt. Yes, it's flower shaped!
A little closer: 
A lot closer: 
All of the blocks are equilateral triangles, most containing an upright "v". I learned from quilter Barbara Cline that when "v" triangles are organized by value, they can create the illusion of floating, gift-wrapped cubes. You can see the cubes flashing in and out of view in the center of the quilt, and also in the side hexagons, if you sit back and squint! My methods (but not this pattern) are in my book Modern Paper Pieced Log Cabin Triangle Quilts, in my etsy shop, CathyPStudio.  
The show will continue soon!

Monday, November 23, 2020

Pandemic Porch Quilt Show Day 34 - 35: My Two Weirdest Quilts in Two Days

Day #34: Blooming Cactus
Choosing an eye-pleasing color palette did not come naturally to me, and here's the evidence. Let's breathe slowly as we approach this bed-size quilt, so as not to trigger sea-sickness. 
It's slightly less terrible when you get very close,  thanks to the blue oasis. 
Longtime quilters will recognize this pattern immediately, as a Blooming Nine Patch, from the bestselling 1996 quilt book 'Traditions with a Twist' by Blanche Young and Dalene Young Stone, still widely available (used) online - and sooooo worth it, just for this one pattern. 

Sure, I knew that the orange and brown were awful, but I believed I was on a mission to prove ugly fabrics could be beautiful. Specifically, I wanted to redeem this crackly orange and brown batik, which I cut from a designer hippie halter-top-and-bell-bottom set that my extremely stylish mother wore in the 60s or 70s  (probably purchased at Filene's Basement, in downtown Boston). 

In hindsight, this fabric is irredeemable. (Except: As a faux Halloween pumpkin.)

The fabric I most love on this quilt is near the center, and also on the back - an African wax print. It looks really great when not in eyeshot of brown and orange.

But despite the chaloshes (terrible) colors, I learned more from making this quilt - as a new quilter - than any other quilt. Specifically, I learned how much fun it is to make gradual color and value shifts that create movement across the quilt. I still find this activity utterly thrilling (especially because I now use better colors.) 

The print that follows the halter top, and that forms the appliqued flowers, was cut from a different garment, a batik Indonesian shirt. The outermost blue fabric (which is also in the center of the quilt) is an American cowboy sky-themed fabric. The international diversity of these fabrics makes me laugh! 

And no quilt is complete without buttons. (They're in the middle of the flowers.)
Whether you use ugly or beautiful fabric (and today I courageously recommend the latter), planning a Blooming Nine Patch takes you straight out of your left brain, and deposits you happily into the other side. I had such a ball working through the color shifts, that I felt like I could make nothing but Blooming Nine Patches for the rest of my quilting life and be perfectly happy! 

Day 35: Necktie Archeology, 80" x 99"

Poundwise, this is my heaviest quilt, and one of my longest. My porch ceiling isn't high enough - in the photo above, the bottom of the quilt is folded on the floor. It holds 68 appliqued neckties, most intact, plus a whole lot of vintage buttons, all dating from the 1950s to today. They were gathered over many years, from flea markets, thrift shops, friends and relatives.
On the right side of the quilt they’re chronologically arranged, from bottom to top. The oldest necktie, a sleazy narrow grey number which runs horizontally along the bottom, features a bathing-suit clad pinup girl hidden in the lining. I think it's from the late 50s - but one viewer told me that it could be a reproduction (Google it - there are lots of old pinup girl neckties, as well as reproductions, sold online.)
Above that come the 1960s ties, with ultra wide psychedelic paisleys;
Then upward to novelty neckties: Elvis, the Wizard of Oz, a giant trout, beer, photography, golf course, space shuttles, warplanes, Forbes Magazine, laptop computers, Tabasco Slurpees (?), and so much more. My favorite tie is the brown and gold “how to tie a tie” tie that I wove vertically through the middle.
In the lower left of the quilt - as a nod to the tie’s role as a phallic symbol - I placed the neckties related to love, sex, marriage, obstetrics and babies - including in the center, a blue-and gold necktie with the word "Viagra" repeated on it, again and again. (Presumably that tie has extra interfacing.)
Almost all the ties on this quilt are intact, and sewn in place with relatively large stitches. I did move most labels from the back to the front (on the narrow end), for documentation, but other than that, in theory, someone could cut the ties off, steam them, and wear it! See more photos in my blog post, here. This quilt is looking for the right home, ideally with a passionate necktie afficianado, who has at least one blank, strong, high wall, and it's on sale for only $4000 (negotiable, I'll throw in shipping!)

Monday, November 16, 2020

Pandemic Porch Quilt Show, Days 29 - 33: Flamingos and Hashtags and Adverbs, Oh My!

Day 29: Flamingo Carrom 

This was made in the early 2000's, when my kids, my fabric stash, and I were so young! Also, I was obsessed with Marilyn Doheney's wedge rulers. Despite the frenetic color, and, lordy, the gold lame in the center (what was I thinking?)....

...I still sort of love it. Flamingos and zebras and tigers, oh my! 

Day 30: Frankenquilt! 
The previous project left me a bunch of extra wedges, which I stuffed into my UFO cabinet. About 15 years later, I pulled them out and made the central circle and inner border of this quilt: 
The outer borders were more recent experiments in modern hashtag blocks.
I tried to come up with different ways to make hashtags.

This time, I had the sense not to put gold lame in the middle. Just a  nice soothing solid yellow. 
Read more about this quilt in my blog post here.

Day 31: New York State of Mind 
This was my first cityscape quilt, made in 2018, and it happened completely by accident. I was trying to make improv modern ladders. When I offset the tops, skyscrapers appeared! 
I used my trusty Doheney wedge ruler to make the top portion.  The circles and triangles over the wedges create something that looks like a group of diverse people. All happy accidents! The quilting was then inspired by NYC's iconic Chrysler Building. 
More photos in this blog post. The intentional city quilts that followed this quilt are blogged here.

Day 32: "The Road to Hell is Paved with Adverbs"
The quotation is from writer Stephen King, and it's so true! In researching this quilt, I plowed through (adverb) an exhausting yet non-comprehensive list of 3732 adverbs.  
I rubber stamped the adverbs I abuse most, onto pieces of fabric, before piecing and appliqueing everything together.  A closer look is in my earlier blog post, here

DAY #33: Seven Sisters Potential Wedding Canopy (Chuppah)

This quilt was made in the '90s, using the technique in the book "Magic Stack and Whack Quilts" by Bethany Reynolds, which was was all the rage - for good reason! Start with large scale print; stack layers, matching printed motifs precisely.

Then rotary cut diamonds - you wind up with multiple sets of 6 identical pieces. When you sew them together, they kaleidoscope, and non-quilting friends declare you a genius! You humbly say, "Aw, shucks," but you and your guild know the truth - even relative beginners can follow this book, have a blast with it, and come up with something spectacular.
The simple-looking bias tape border took MUCH longer (and more skill) than the center.

(There's a "Chai," the Hebrew word for "Life," quilted in gold thread in the corner, but it's hard to see.) I think this quilt would make an excellent, dignified wedding canopy, but no one has asked, so it's still a wedding virgin.

More porch show quilts coming soon!