Friday, September 25, 2015

Unexpected Surprises

This quilt started off with the idea of experimenting with making
 improv blocks based on the varied shapes of windows. 

I only planned on making a few blocks, just to play around with the concept. So, I pulled some shot cottons including chambrays and crossweave fabrics, all in colors that I wasn't particularly attached to, as I didn't want to "waste" my more favored colored fabrics. 

I figured if I liked where the idea was going, I'd switch over to other more preferred colors. 

(Although I really do dig that one dark mustard yellow, but that's ok, I just went out and got more!)

But here's what happened... each block that I made led me to think of an idea for another block...

and then all of those blocks wanted to be remade in various sizes and color combinations.

        Before I knew it, I had enough blocks to make a quilt, all in colors that I really do not care for,
        (except that mustard yellow).
And despite purple and yellow being complimentary colors, 
         I personally do not generally care for them together, 
     (with the exception of pansies)!

                                    Funny thing is, as I looked at all of those blocks together, 
I knew right away that these were exactly the right colors to use all along. 

I love how they look together!

That's one of the things I adore about improv... 
being open to unexpected surprises, 
having my sometimes straight and narrow road, tipped on its side, expanded and forever changed... 

All from one simple exercise in creativity using colors I didn't think I liked together.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Playing with Blocks

The other day I was at a local flea market and found a set of these 16 small vintage wooded building blocks, some with solid colored sides in red, cream, blue and yellow, and some with half square triangle combinations, as shown above. I've wanted something like this for a long time and have been enjoying seeing what different pattern combos I can make. However, the kid in me was wanting more... more blocks to play with, more color combinations, more, more, more!

So, to satisfy that inner child, I devised a creative solution...

Wanting very much to keep the look of the vintage worn edges 
with the pops of surrounding color just like the actual blocks had, 
I first scanned the sides of the blocks. 
Then from those scans, and using Photoshop Elements,  (poor man's Photoshop)
I created the extra HST block combos that were missing. 
I then made a sheet containing a total of 10 different solid and HST "tiles", each repeating 8 times.

I printed out the tile sheet onto sticker paper, (found in home office supply shops) and then adhered the paper to a piece of cardboard, recycled from an old writing tablet, (cereal box cardboard would work great, too.) A few minutes of cutting with my rotary cutter, (I have one designated just for paper) and a clear acyclic quilter's ruler and I had my own set of vintage looking "block" tiles, and am delighted by how much they look and feel like real little wooded tiles!

 (can you believe it?) 
that inner child still was not satisfied 
and wanted more colors to play with.

So, I manipulated the colors on that original color sheet,
played around with it here and there...

and came up with 4 more sheets, for a total of 50 different tiles, each repeated 8 times, 
creating a grand total of 400, 1" x 1" tiles! 

(And if that inner child wants more tiles, I can just print out more sheets!)

So now, my inner child and I can have all the fun we want 
coming up with neat and nifty quilt block designs and interesting color combinations!

If you would like to try this idea, please do.
It's not hard and lot's of fun!
(And cool for kids to use as well!)

However, if you would prefer to not go through the trouble of creating your own tile sheets, 
(as that can be rather time consuming) 
I am offering an instant downloadable PDF version in my shop here
It contains all 5 color sheets, along with simple instructions and printing ideas, 
(like how to make actual 3-D blocks from these tiles and creating magnetic tiles.)

Have a great weekend, and don't forget to let your inner child play!

Friday, July 10, 2015

Something Quaint and Quirky

It was bound to happen.
I had to do it. 
Marry punch needle with quilting.

This little punch needle embroidered horse needed a home, 
so I stitched him a tiny crazy quilt, just 11" high 
and stuck him in the middle 
where he can happily spend the rest of his life.

The horse started off as a simple traced shape 
from one of those vintage cookie cutters I posted about here.

The tiny quilt is made from assorted pieces of chambray shot cottons,
 all in various shades of grays, with tiny red zig-zag stitching.

This was a fun piece to make, a little quaint and a little quirky.
I might just do some more.

Hope you all have a lovely weekend!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Tobacco Road Quilt

"Tobacco Road" is the 3rd completed quilt in my "Lancaster County" series.

Just like the two before it, (see here and here) it takes its name from a local road, and it reflects my personal impressions of the shapes, colors and mood of this wonderful area.

Made from some cotton prints and assorted shot cottons, including some wonderful chambrays from Andover Fabrics, which are my currant favorite fabrics right now.

On all of the quilts in this series so far, I've included the exposed seams of some of the woven chambrays, as I think they are just too lovely to cover up.

I adore the subtle color changes, and the tiny flaws and imperfections, 
like that little area in the mid-upper right, along that blue selvedge shown in the photo below... 

I'm embracing these parts as they help reflect so tenderly the mood that I am trying to convey.

I bound the quilt with a pretty striped fabric.
It was an afterthought, once the quilt was completed, pulled from stash.
Much to my delight it reflects many of the colors used in the quilt's patchwork.

More details of my Tobacco Road quilt can be found here.


Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Cookie Cutter Inspired

In a recent post on my new Lancaster County inspired quilt series, (third one is being quilted now!) 
I talked briefly about inspiration, (a favorite topic of mine) and asked for commenters to let me know what inspired them, as I am always fascinated by the creative process and what sparks it. 

Today's post continues the inspiration theme in a fun way, I think!

I've been soaking up a lot of inspiration from folk art lately, specifically vintage hooked rugs, 
which have always intrigued me and are proving to be very inspiring 
with the punch needle embroidery that I've been exploring. 
Love the colors and those shapes... 

Yes, those wonderful shapes!
One of the things that I have noticed in these old hooked rugs is how so many of them feature very naive style shapes, including various animals and birds, flowers and leafs 
along with hearts, diamonds, clubs and spades. 

All of which remind me of...

Cookie cutter shapes!

So, that got me to thinking about how wonderful it would be to have an assortment of vintage cookie cutters to use as design inspiration. These shapes could be used for not only punch needle, but other types of embroidery as well, along with appliqué designs for some future folk art quilts.

And that realization led to some of my local vintage shops, 
(lucky me, I live minutes away from a 5 mile stretch of them!) 
for a fun scavenger hunt to find some awesome
cookie cutters...

The photo above and the photo below show about half of what I ultimately found.
Most cost between .50 cents to $2.00, with $1.00 dollar being the average.

And while I can't be guaranteed that they are all 100% vintage, I think the vast majority of them are.
(And does it really matter for the purpose I am using them for?)

(Photos are from my rather humble phone camera, 
thus quality isn't supreme, but the layout looks lovely, don't you think?)

 Look at all those fun shapes! 
Doesn't it just make your imagination take off flying in new directions?
(One is actually a jello mold, can you spot it?)

Below are two recent pieces begun with my new found cookie cutter inspiration...

On the left is "Chicken Pox" and on the right is "Owl and Moon". 
Below them is a ruler, so you can see how small the pieces actually are,
and above them are the cookie cutters I used to begin the design process.

Here's a close up of "Owl and Moon", so you can see all the tiny punched stitches. (I tend to punch a bit more densely then some of the tutorial examples I have seen, but I like the look, it works for me.)
I began with the shapes of the cookie cutters, then used my imagination to fill in the rest. I'm working with solid 8/2 cotton yarn and changed my colors frequently to achieve the look that I wanted.

Here's a close up of "Chicken Pox", (thought long and hard to come up with that clever name!)
Again, I used 8/2 cotton yarns, 
and simply echoed the lines of the shapes, over and over, 
frequently changing colors as I went along.

Both pieces are now available in my shop.
To see more of either piece simply click on the link below them

Hope this post inspires you all as well!