Monday, May 20, 2013

Modern Quilts

Looking around in the online space and in current quilting publications, the term "modern" quilts is in vogue.  A decade ago they might have been called "contemporary". I have to laugh at the hubris of calling the current style either modern or contemporary. Doesn't that just mean it's current now? Isn't that what fashion is? Can't we think of a better word for the current trend?
In any case, the current characteristics of a "modern" quilt are use of solid-colored fabrics, emphasis on negative space, restrained use of prints, use of asymmetry, and the aspect of minimalism.

After searching for examples, I tried my hand at a "modern" interpretation of a very tiny quilt. Well, actually, I admit it is a mug rug. Pretty useless excuse for making a tiny quilt. One step up from a tea cozy, really. But my daughter just got a promotion and an office with a window. Maybe she needs something cute to put her tea cup on?

"View out the window" 2013, 8.5" x 4.5" hand appliquéd and hand quilted.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Waste not, want not

My mother, a product of the Great Depression, always said "Make do with what you have." Piecing small bits of fabric is one of the iconic crafts exemplified by her expression. Quilts were originally made from leftover fabric.

Unlike the old days, most of us now purchase new fabric for making quilts. Indeed, many of us purchase LOTS of new fabric for making future, someday quilts. A term for fabric collecting is "stash building". I had a bit of a small fabric stash when we moved aboard our sailboat, Red Ranger. While I would like to buy some new fabric and build up my stash, I need to use up what I brought aboard first.

Here is, then, the newest "stash consuming" quilt.

"Navel Gazing", 2013, 26.5" x 26.5", hand appliquéd, machine quilted, from a Jane Sassaman print and a pack of hand-dyed oranges (source unremembered) 

For sale, inquire for details -

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

First tiny quilt

Tiny Quilt beginnings. This was the first tiny quilt I made, probably circa 1980. It was for my little sister's dollies. Scraps and piecing were all I knew in those days. Who didn't have scrap fabric back then? Mom taught me to sew my own clothes in elementary school. We had a big pine chest full of leftover fabric that could barely close. One didn't purchase new fabric for a quilt. I thought the definition of a quilt was small pieces of scrap fabric sewn together. The 80's are over, thank goodness.

Sunday, May 5, 2013


One of the first shapes I tried in appliqué was the handprint. It's a cool shape because it's so recognizable and unique. My son's handprint and my daughter's handprint are so different.

Handprints are also a joy to work up in appliqué. They are small and flowing, with smooth curves and inside corners. I made a ton of these for family, of family. One of these designs that keep on giving and growing. Hands are pretty important after all.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Big Quilts (old ones) (just for historical reference) (ancient history)

Big Quilts

Tiny beginnings

I've churned out some 70-odd quilts in my day, starting with the traditional patchwork patterns worked in scrap fabrics and moving on to designing my own appliqué quilts using hand-dyed fabrics.

Along the way, I've made a few tiny quilts for fun or to hang on a wall, but was more focused on bed-size quilts because they seemed somehow more useful. Screw useful. Bed-size quilts become a burden. No one wants them anymore really, because they require too much commitment. They become that heirloom piece that Mom made that doesn't really reflect current tastes in ever-changing bedroom decor but we have to keep anyway and drag out of the closet for visits. You know what I mean.

Oh, and now I live on a sailboat. Making a bed-size quilt isn't exactly easy to do anymore. No room to spread out. No where to store yards of fabric. No funds to buy yards of hand-dyed fabric.

Tiny quilts are very appealing. They don't require lots of fabric, thus solving the storage and funding issues. They don't involve much commitment. No one has to love them or treat them with undue  reverence. They don't take six months to make. Tiny quilts are simply a way to play with fabric. A tiny experiment in color or composition that can quickly evolve to a new color way or composition permutation. Kinda like a sketch.

So here goes a new blog. A place for contemplation and practice, both to write and to focus on expanding my tiny quilts. Not making them bigger, mind you, making more of them. Making them more interesting and full of stories.