Archive for May, 2009

DSCF1409My favorite color (after having passed through my purple stage as a teen) has always been red.  But, in particular I love the pinky reds that the Japanese fabric companies produce.  Since that particular red is hard to come by in American manufactured fabrics,  I’ve learned to stockpile them when I can get them….sometimes, admitedly, in very large pieces called “bolts”.   (To the right you’ll see a selection of these reds made by Yuwa from my stash.  The one on top is a particular favorite that I’ve used in several quilts.  Alas, this is the final piece.)  This habit of collecting large pieces can make for some challenges in both storage and use.  

I’ve often though about what you should call your “stash” when it is encrouching on being equivalent to a store’s inventory; it just seems like it should have a different name.  But, in the years I’ve been mulling this over..I’ve never come up with one.  So, to make this whole blog thing a little more exciting, I’ve decided to cut up 1/2 yard pieces of four of my pinky red Yuwa fabrics and offer them as a little incentive to encourage visitors to leave a comment. 

So, the rules are…get creative and post a comment with your idea of what a fabric collection (larger than a “stash” but smaller than a store) should be called.  At the end of the month I’ll select a lucky winner who will have the great beginnings of their own pinky red Yuwa collection!  To get you motiviated, here is a photo of the assortment in the offing. 


Best of luck!

— Penny


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Well, Ronda has gone and done it again!  She’s the deserving winner of a 1st place ribbon from the Machine Quilters Showcase in the innovative custom category for her Gypsy Rosalie quilt.  You can take a look at my April 28th posting for a photo of her quilt — or better yet, drop by her blog for more detailed photos and information at http://rondabeyer.wordpress.com.  Not only did she win for this amazing quilt (that she designed, stitched, appliqued, and quilted), she also won a 2nd place ribbon in the traditional custom category for a quilt she collaborated on with Gail Stepanek.  Congratulations to them both!

Quilt Market — that magical place where quilt stores go to see and buy what fabrics, patterns, and other delights will be coming out for us consumers — has just begun.  Oh, if only I could be there rubbing elbows with our shop owners.  There are undoubtedly many exciting new designs coming out that we’ll need to start saving our pennies for. 

One fabric line you’ve heard me talk about is the new Moda fabric line that Kaari Meng (of www.frenchgeneral.com fame) will be releasing.  Well, she has some photos of the line on her blog (http://frenchgeneral.blogspot.com).  If you have a minute…take a look…you will not be disappointed. 


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Just this morning I received an email from the Kansas City Star folks that Barbara Brackman is putting out two new patterns influenced by the Arts and Crafts Movement. 


I’m copying the photograph of “Strawberry Thief” which is inspired by the fabric designed by William Morris himself.  Urban legand (or at least the tour guide) says that Morris was waiting outside for his 3-hole privy to become available when he saw a bird swoop down and steal a strawberry.  “Ignoring his discomfort”, Morris is said to have dashed into his house, Kelmscott Manor( www.kelmscottmanor.org.uk), and sketched this design which has remained popular for more than 100 years.  Who knows if it’s true…but it makes for an interesting story.

This pattern is available from the Kansas City Star retail website (www.pickledishstore.com), or better yet…see if your local quilt store can’t get it for you.  If we don’t support the local stores, we’re likely to see them disappear.

For your amusement, I’m also posting two photographs I took on my last trip to the UK.  The first is Kelmscott Manor from the front entrance, and the second is the privy (or outhouse for us yanks)…where the alleged theivery was perpetuated.

Kelmscott Manor

Kelmscott Manor




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It’s probably not kosher that I do this, but I am going to copy a couple of photographs of patterns that I just found on the web.  I’m certain that there are all types of “rules” against doing this, but since I’m also going to forward information on where you can purchase these patterns I hope that it will be alright.

Flower Basket Medallion by Kim McLean

Flower Basket Medallion by Kim McLean

The first pattern is from  designer Kim McLean who I first learned about when an article about her appeared in Quilters’ Newletter some time ago.  “Flower Basket Medallion” incorporates design elements (the doll border) that I’ve seen in some antique Australian quilts. 

 If you are interested in finding out more about Kim McLean’s pattern, please go to Kaffe’s webstore “Glorious Color”  (www.gloriouscolor.com).  I’ve purchased patterns of Kim’s previously and I have to say they are dynamic (and on very big paper).  And, though I haven’t yet actually stitched any of her patterns yet, I hope to in my retirement.  (Do you think any of us will ever get to retire??)

Phebe Quilt by Di Ford

The second pattern is by Di Ford, also of Australia, and  called “The Phebe Quilt”.  It is inspired by the Phoebe Warner quilt which was made in 1803 by Sarah Warner for her cousin, and is in the collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

I have been a fan of Di Ford’s quilt patterns for some time…and again, I have a few stockpiled away for a rainy day.  Some years ago, I used to be able to purchase her patterns through a quilt shop called “Primarily Patchwork” (that were heavily advertised in the Australian Patching and Quilting Magazines) — but it seems that “Primarily Patchwork” closed.  So, it’s great to see that Di is still designing and her patterns can now be purchased from the Australian quilt store, Threadbear Patchwork and Quilting (www.threadbear.com.au).
Let me know if you are inspired to make either of these quilts; I’m putting my order in for both patterns as soon as I can. 

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I probably could have done better on the opening title; sounds a bit taudry.  But, it’s exciting news that Barbara Brackman is doing another line of William Morris designs for Moda Fabric.  A quick look at the Moda website (www.unitednotions.com/un_main.nsf/mf_new) shows that the new line should be available around July (maybe August???).  Here’s three of the fabrics that will be available in this collection.



They are just so beautiful…and Barbara has been true to William Morris’ color sensibilities.   Those of you who know me know that I can go on and on about Topsy (William Morris) and how he influenced textiles and design.  But, it goes without saying that these fabrics have really stood up over the years.  They are classics and will not “age” in your stash as some of the more tendy designs do. 

And, speaking of William Morris, there is a fantastic new book out by Michelle Hill from Australia called William Morris in Applique (publisher: C&T www.ctpub.com)  There have been a few quilt books written using William Morris designs, but I feel this is the very best of the lot.61sycrhz4nl_ss500_

The photographs are beautiful and the projects, although challenging, are very well written.  The pattern sheets at the back of the book are also a bonus.  My only quandry is which one I should make first.  Barbara Brackman’s fabric couldn’t have come at a better time.

 For more information, check out Michelle Hill’s webpage (www.michelehill.com.au).


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For those of you who are interested in the upcoming hand applique class I will teach at Prairie Queens Quilt Shop in San Jose this coming October, I thought you’d like to see it before it goes off to be quilted.  The design is from the new Kansas City Star book by Blackbird Designs, A Cold Wind Blows, and is called “Frost on the Ferns”(http://pickledish.kcstar.com/?q=taxonomy/term/12


The inspiration for my fabric selections came from a piece of raspberry french toile that my friend and machine quilter extraordinaire, Ronda Beyer, gave me.   I used it for the vase, the stars, and some of the leaves.  I happened to have the butter and raspberry dot background fabric in my stash (score!)…and with a short trip to my local quilt shop for a few additional raspberry fabrics and I was ready to start stitching.

Creme Framboise (“Frost on the Ferns” renamed) is packed up and is being sent off to Ronda to do her magic.  I cannot wait to see how she quilts it.  She never ceases to amaze me (and the quilting world as well) with her talent.

I’ve been getting questions lately from some of my students about how I approach color selection for my quilts.  I wish there was an easy answer.  Most of the time I’m inspired by a particular piece of fabric that I see as primary to the quilt…or it could even be a fabric that never quite makes it into the quilt but has great color combinations.  Other times I want the quilt to have a particular time period feel so I select fabrics that represent that period.   There is no set rule where my whims take me.

I feel strongly that most quilt patterns can be done in just about any fabric style; you just need to think a little outside the box.  This quilt would have been equally as interesting if it was done in all batiks on a black backround, sweet 30s prints on a polk-dot, or even reproductions on muslin.  But, I have always found that I need to *love* the colors of the quilt in order to put in the time into making it.  That’s why I am also an advocate of purchasing fabric that you *love* when you see it.   And, yes, I purchase big pieces; I hate running short.  So, rather than finding a quilt pattern first and then going shopping…I wait for the pattern to come around that fits the fabric I already have.  I then purchase whatever  supporting fabrics I need to complete the project.  It just works better for me.

But suppose you don’t have a stash half the amount of fabric of a normal quilt shop like some of do…well, then you should always begin with something you absolutely love and build from there.  Assemble some bolts of fabrics and then stand back…at least 10 feet…look at your fabrics from a distance.  Do the fabrics all appears the same in scale or color?  Do they harmonize even though they aren’t exactly the same shade of red?  I often use this “stand back” technique when selecting fabrics off the shelf.  I seems to be easier for me to see what works, what’s missing, and what seems like a total foreigner.  An employee of that late, great, quilt shop “In the Beginning” once told me that not all the fabrics can be leaders in a quilt.  Some have to be supportive and a little quiet.

If you have any words of wisdom about how you approach fabric selections, please leave a comment and let us know what inspires you. 


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