Tuesday, November 25, 2014

influences: Kaffe Fasett

Before the internet and all the moving around I've done lately, I used to collect books on quilting and fabric and art. Many idyllic hours were spent, cup of tea in hand, browsing through colorful pages dreaming of projects to do.

One of those well-loved books was Kaffe Fassett's Glorious Needlepoint. I loved looking at needlepoint patterns, tried a few projects and ended up hating it. There is nothing so boring as color by numbers with a slow-moving needle and thread. You know exactly what the design is going to look like before you start, so why even start? But his designs certainly were beautiful to look at. I would go back to his book and just enjoy the visual dance of his colors and shapes. His designs are a bit busy for my taste, but his ability to blend colors is the big draw.

One day I was in a fabric store browsing the bolts and came upon Kaffe Fassett fabric!  I hadn't been following his career path much since that one book, so missed all the hoopla when he started designing fabric. I treated myself to a yard of pink with circles.

Some pillows made back in the machine appliqué days.

Here's an example of some of his current fabric.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

seasonal colors

I love the change of seasons. We are currently moving from a gorgeous Fall to a crisp, sunny Winter.  Sadly, I don't do much skiing anymore, but snow season is still exciting to me. My favorite holiday is coming up next week, a day devoted to gratitude and food. This year my daughter and son-in-law-to-be are about to make it incredibly special, by celebrating their wedding amidst a small gathering of family and friends. But I digress....

I was going to ramble on about seasonal colors and change. Once upon a time, we had a dining room, and in that dining room was a simple, pine sideboard, and above that simple, pine sideboard was an empty wall. We lived with that empty wall for a long time, then one day we got a framed poster of an Adirondack lake in the peak of Fall colors, to hang there. Winter came, and the poster didn't reflect the change of seasons. We got a framed poster of some Canadian geese in the snow next to a big, black, bare tree. The lake poster went in the closet. Spring came, and with it came a poster of a huge, pink water lily floating serenely on placid water. The geese joined the lake in the closet. Breaking waves on a beach graced the wall in the Summer. At each Equinox or Solstice, the appropriate poster got switched out from the closet. I miss that change of the art with the seasons.

I've been thinking of some quilting projects that repeat some aspect of design, while changing colors seasonally. I envision the photos of the quilts being set into a nice wall calendar or some such. I've also been thinking of fashion, wearing my basic black-grey-white wardrobe with a touch of red in the Winter, hot pink in the Spring, yellow in the Summer, and orange in the Fall. That means three more pair of eyeglasses. It strikes me that these thoughts are starting to get a bit silly, but hey, it's all just playing.

This is what my seasonal tiny quilts will NOT look like - way too static, iconic and boring. This is ancient history, although I do wish I had some more of that grey print.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

art? clothing? art?

The coffee shop in my neighborhood has a farmhouse theme. The baristas wear black aprons with appliqué designs on the front bib. They are bright print fabrics cut into farmhouse icons and sewn on using raw-edge appliqué, so they look worn in and homey after numerous washings. I enjoy their cheery variety. And, yes, they make me want to make aprons with tiny appliquéd designs of my own on the bibs.

I'm trying to restrain myself from going down that path. It's a slippery slope that I just don't want to start down. One apron decorated with a tiny appliqué design probably isn't going to hurt anything, but it crosses a line that I struggle with. Clothing is essentially to keep us warm and protected against the elements. An apron is worn simply to protect our regular clothes from kitchen mess. It does not need an appliqué design on the bib to do its job. 

Clothing is also our complicated way of expressing our status and culture. I'm pretty sure it wasn't long after we started tying furs around us that someone started decorating their furs with shells or bones. In many cultures, embroidery on a blouse or stripes on a sleeve, delineated one's station in life or where one lived. Decoration was an integral part of clothing's function, and still is, only now logos play the part of the embroidery. 

In the 20th century, there arose a group of artists who moved beyond clothing decoration into "art clothing", also called "wearable art". Quilters went crazy. A quilted vest was a great way to use up even more scraps, or buy more new fabric, and clothing took less time to make than a bed quilt. Let's make one for every day of the week!

Quilted clothing has been around for a long time, keeping peasants and gentry alike warm in the winter, but generally this clothing used the same fabric as summer weather clothes, just with warm padding. The quilted clothing produced in the last few decades grew from the popular resurgence in general quilt-making, both pieced and appliquéd.  And it was really ugly. (this writer's humble opinion, having made a few vests in the 80's)

This is the slippery slope that FLTQ is not going down. Clothing is not going to be decorated with appliqué designs in this studio. I'm taking a stance to keep myself from even thinking about it. No aprons. No curly borders on skirts. No backs of jackets. No looking like a clown.

At the other end of the spectrum, FL, herself, may be heading down this path. 

At first glance, I love this, but wait... who would walk around wearing it? Seriously!

Monday, November 10, 2014


One of my favorite bloggers wrote this week on keeping up her blog and how she keeps it fresh and interesting. Admittedly, she has a much wider base of support for her topic of interest, cooking, than a blog of tiny quilts will ever get, but her writing really connected with me. She writes:
"Here's how I approach this site, and have for a long time. I think of it as my practice. It's something I'm committed to, and look forward to being committed to for years to come. Contributing something new each week helps me develop in areas that I find important creatively - cooking, writing, taking photographs - and the only way I'm able to grow is through experience, experimentation, and regular practice."

Having spent my 20s studying Washin-Ryu Karate and having a long term interest in Zen Buddhism, the word "practice" woke up a realization in me that everything I do with fabric, color, and design can be described with this word that is both noun and verb. To apply the same focus towards writing about fabric, color and design is to bring the breadth and depth of the activity into the realm of communication. To try to capture the creative process, the influences, and the engagement with tactile materials and visual experience in a blog post is an expansion of the existing practice of making quilts.  

Inspiration can come at us from any direction. Who knew that reading a cooking blog can inspire a quilt maker?

  1. 1
    the actual application or use of an idea, belief, or method as opposed to theories about such application or use.
    "the principles and practice of teaching"

  2. 2
    repeated exercise in or performance of an activity or skill so as to acquire or maintain proficiency in it.
    "it must have taken a lot of practice to become so fluent"

  1. 1
    perform (an activity) or exercise (a skill) repeatedly or regularly in order to improve or maintain one's proficiency.
    "I need to practice my French"
    synonyms:rehearse, run through, go over/through, work on/at; More

  2. 2
    carry out or perform (a particular activity, method, or custom) habitually or regularly.
    "we still practice some of these rituals today"
    synonyms:carry out, performobserve
    "we still practice these rituals today"

Monday, November 3, 2014


I love those little moments in life that happen by chance. Call them sparks or connections or serendipity, but they seem important to notice and celebrate. One of those little star alignments happened this past week. 

I made doing donuts because I wanted to use up some special fabric left over from a special big quilt, but I wasn't sure what I was going to do with her. I hadn't listed her on the Etsy store, because I just wasn't feeling like selling her. I curled up with her one cold night in our new chair and thought that maybe this one I might keep. But keeping her didn't feel quite right either.  So, she waited. Then I thought she would be the centerpiece in the show I was going to have, but that has been postponed. 

Then one of those convoluted stories that life is made of, started to weave itself around her. Someone I reached out to in the course of some volunteer work read this blog and my other blog, saw the picture of the pickles, knows the pickle-maker (who just had a baby) and wanted to buy the quilt for the pickle-maker's baby. And to complete the circle, my intention when beginning floatingleaftinyquilts was to use any profits I might earn to fund environmental organizations. So, the check goes towards my monthly donation to the very same organization the buyer and I belong to. And with my donation funded for awhile, I can buy more pickles.

I guess that was what all the waiting was about, the stars just had to get in their alignment.

Actually, this fabric has resonant karma. The story of the big quilt made several years ago with this beautiful hand-dyed fabric is another example of lives coming together at special intersections. My husband's sister and mother hosted an exchange student from Sweden in the 1980's. The lasting bond of that relationship created another, in which our daughter went to live with their family for a year after high school. The big quilt was a thank you gift I made for them in gratitude for their love and care for our daughter.

More reading on serendipity and gifting.