• What’s New!

    I’ve been a busy girl; finishing up some UFOs and working on new classes, samples and patterns. Among other things, I’m working on a new ‘cat’ series. All you Garden Patch Cat fans need not panic – there are still quite a few more fruity and veggie cats to come (Hint: the next one will be ‘Purrsnip’), but it was time to start thinking of what will come next.

    About ten years ago, I designed a block of the month program quilt for Story Quilts named ‘Temple Guardians’, a series of elegant stylized Siamese cat blocks. The program did very well but from day one, I kept getting requests from quilters who were not interested in making the whole quilt but would I “please offer the blocks individually”. At that time, Story Quilts did not wish to do that as they felt it would undermine the shops choosing to run it as a Block of the Month. Now, finally, after activity on the full sized Block of the Month quilt has tapered off, Story Quilts has finally given me the go-ahead to rework the patterns into individual wall hangings.

    I am excited! This comes at a time when I was already becoming interested in the whole ‘Modern Quilt’ movement but I have no desire to jump into making a bed-sized modern quilt. This simplified design concept creates an excellent backdrop for these very Art Deco style cats. It is my plan to produce individual patterns from all the original Temple Guardian cats, each in a setting with that ‘modern’ twist and each bearing a name that exemplifies a trait that makes a cat – a CAT.

    This first in the series is ‘Dignity’ (what is a cat if not dignified) and it measures about 21″ x 35″ depending on quilting. The more intricate quilting you add, the more shrinkage you get in the finished quilt. Of the two samples pictured below, the cover sample belongs to Story Quilts and the second sample with the black and turquoise border blocks is mine. YES, I will be offering Posh Cats as a class for those who want help in assembling the quilt. The cats being simple and streamlined are a great subject for those wanting to learn hand applique – most of the pieces are fairly large and have very few tricky areas like points and valleys. The cats can also be fused of course, for those to whom hand applique is the ‘A’ word; or HA (more appropriately). I, for one, love to laugh – HA, HA, HA.

    #1 in my new cat series - Posh Cats. Each will be named after a ' catly' personality trait, this one is 'Dignity'. This is the pattern cover sample.
    #1 in my new cat series - Posh Cats. Each will be named after a ' catly' personality trait, this one is 'Dignity'. This is a second sample with a black and turquoise border and more intricate background quilting.

    On another topic, one more ‘new’ addition to the website is a list of the lectures I offer for guild or event programs. You will find it under the ‘classes’ tab in a link directly after another link with class descriptions of all the classes I offer. Many of the lectures are old favorites like The Principles of Landscape Quilt Design, Color Theory and The Art & Craft of Quilting, but there are some new additions including a brand new trunk show and talk about ethnic influences in my work that I call ‘Global Dances’. The talk and trunk show include my ‘ethnic themed’ work such as Molas, Sashiko, my Animal Totem series and other quilts with ethnic motifs or symbolism.



  • The Sublime Heritage of Martha Mood Volume II – Book Review

    I have been quilting first on a hobby level and then professionally since the early 1970′s and why I’d never heard of Martha Mood before is beyond me. Her work is phenomenal. This is the second volume in a two volume set; the first volume is more a biography about her and her career. While I should probably pick that one up as well at some point, I really wanted this book, the one  with the gallery, eye-candy of her spectacular work. The photographs in this large format book are numerous and beautifully reproduced, she was quite prolific so there is a lot to see. The copy I saw in a friend’s possession had a lovely printed hard cover featuring a close up of one of the mural style pieces she made; though there was no image on the listing I found for the book on Amazon, I was delighted to find my copy had the same cover when it arrived.

    I was introduced to this book (and some other lovely ones on embroidery) by a friend that I spent a lovely evening with last fall. I was in Tillamook Oregon where I had been teaching some hand embroidery and hand applique classes at the Latimer Quilt and Textile Center. I was staying at  a friend’s home for a few days and one evening another friend who had been in the embroidery class came by and brought some books she thought I might enjoy looking through. One look at the cover and I knew I had to have this.

     

    The book cover shows a fine example of Martha's unique style
    The book cover shows a fine example of Martha’s unique style

     

    Martha was an applique artist who made marvelous fabric tapestries. Most of the work presented in the book is from the 1960′s, the designs are very lyrical express a free spirit. On a certain level, I find her work reminiscent of the art of Charley Harper, she certainly was a contemporary of his even if she worked in a different medium.

    Martha used a wide variety of types of fabrics in her work, many appear to be decorator fabrics and she used a lot of hand stitching/embroidery to add exquisite detail to her work. Her work reminds me of some of my own early work when I felt no hesitance at incorporating whatever fabric caught my fancy with no regard as to fiber content; I also loved to enhance my applique with hand embroidery and perhaps this book will give me the courage to explore this again.

    The pieces she made were largely appliqué, some rendered skillfully by hand with turned edges, some rendered in a primitive raw edge technique. There is no reference to whether she used fusible webs in the raw edged work but given most of the pieces shown are dated from early to late 1960′s, I know the choices of fusible webs were very limited back then (if available at all). The raw edged work does not appear to be fused though; there is a ‘look’ to fused appliqué that I find particularly unpleasant and even the softer webs do not allow the fabric to form true to its nature.

     

    a close look at Martha's raw edge applique, this amount of hand embroidery would have been very difficult on fused fabric
    a close look at Martha’s raw edge applique, this amount of hand embroidery would have been very difficult on fused fabric

     

    Due to the large format of the book and the resulting large photos, it is possible to really appreciate the workmanship and the texture of the materials shown in the pieces selected for this book, I think it is a ‘must have’ for any quilter who is interested in pictorial style quilting and appliqué. I found a used copy on Amazon for a very reasonable price, interestingly, my copy is a bit of a collector’s item in my opinion as a stamp on the front faceplate page indicates it was withdrawn from the Smithsonian Institution Library on May 12, 1983, that in itself makes it an interesting addition to my personal library.

     



  • My New Year’s Resolution

    Well, it’s January 6th and I’m about to embark on my New Year’s resolution. I have several – one is to clean and reorganize my sewing room and office, another is to try and get caught up with several years worth of neglected yard work on my two acres of property (sometimes it feels like Milne’s Hundred Acre Wood) and another resolution is to try and post more on my website (and update the gallery and calendar).

    This morning I’ve decided to ‘review’ some new embroidery needles I’m trying. A shop I teach for – Pioneer Quilts – recently started carrying a new line of hand sewing needles. They are Tulip Hiroshima Needles made in Japan. Apparently, the company started by making beading needles and have expanded into other types of needles, applique, quilting, embroidery, Sashiko… The needles I’m trying out is an assortment of embroidery needles ranging from size #3 – #6. So far, I’m impressed. I’m working with 6-strand cotton DMC floss (all 6 strands) and have found the needles thread more easily than than a comparable sized needle I was using previously. The needles are also quite sharp and have made stitching through the multiple layers of fabric in my project a bit easier. While the needle takes a little more force to penetrate initially (I’m assuming the taper at the tip is more obtuse), I’ve found that once you reach the ‘break point’ the needle glides through with ease and does not get stuck when you reach the threaded eye and requiring a LOT of force to pull it through like the other needles I had been using.

    The only downside is the cost. A package of Clover embroidery needles in assorted sizes will set you back around $3 – $5 depending on the type of needle and where you buy them, and come 16 to a package. The Tulip needles come at a hefty price – around $8.50 for just 8 needles. They are worth the cost however if they continue to work this well in other projects.

    These are the assorted Tulip needles sizes #3, #4, #5 & #6, notice they come in a little corked tube.
    These are the assorted Tulip needles sizes #3, #4, #5 & #6, notice they come in a little corked tube.
    This is the embroidery project I'm working on. It was meant to just be an example of layered and slashed fabric and the 'flaps' were supposed to curl and fray but the new non-agitating washers won't rough up the fabric so I trimmed them back and decided to embellish the resulting (rather boring) piece with hand embroidery
    This is the embroidery project I’m working on. It was meant to just be an example of layered and slashed fabric and the ‘flaps’ were supposed to curl and fray but the new non-agitating washers won’t rough up the fabric so I trimmed them back and decided to embellish the resulting (rather boring) piece with hand embroidery