Deep Summer

In deep summer, everything moves a little slower because of the heat.  The sewing slows down because we’re at the beach, or watching Endeavor on the television, or just lazily talking after dinner on the patio.  The dusk deepens, and we realize we’ve talked the evening away as we flip on the overhead twinkle lights and talk some more, maybe eating an ice cream bar.  Or something else cold and slippery and refreshing like a tall lemonade.

Backside Hills on EPP3

So I sip some lemonade while fighting the urge to take the scissors and whack off this veritable mountain of seams on the backside of Circles Block #2, which I’m currently working on.  I’ve made this section twice, and have now realized we need a Design Change.  It will work fine, but in Deep Summer, it’s best not to be thinking too hard.

BAckside of Large Circles Block#3

I finished the block this morning (this is the backside–full reveal the first week of August), went to add the background corners and realized I’d drawn the whole shebang one inch too large all the way around.  I slumped into my chair–it’s really too hot to do anything else, right?  Then after slumping for a while, I got up and redrew parts of it to make it conform to what we have going on so far in Circles Block #1 and #2.  I’m NOT remaking that center section, though, having already sewn it twice.  It will all be correct when I finally post it, and tested.

Retreat Ladies 2014

We had our annual Good Heart Quilters Retreat at Lisa’s house, and were joined by her two sisters-in-law, who traveled down from the Mountain West to join us.  This is just the first batch of quilters in the moring–more came and by evening, when the fudgy brownies came out of the oven, there were many more.

Jean and her quilt July 2014Jean was a phenom, getting several quilt tops to the finished stage so she can quilt them on her machine.  Others quilters were just as industrious, but I was head-down-fingers-stitching on the Circles Block and forgot to take photos.

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I also finished my Four-in-Art quilt, but that reveal is not until August 1st, so check back then.  I really like this one and tried a new technique of printing on fabric.  I’ll share the quilt and all the “deconstruction” details next week.

And in Deep Summer maybe something we ought to do is read a poem or two, while sitting outside under the twinkle lights on the patio downing the last of the frozen peanut butter cookies — a poem like this one, by Susan Hutton, found *here.*

Falling Through

My neighbor, perched high on a ladder
one weekend afternoon,
trimmed the wrong branch and sent himself
slowly wheeling through the sky.
He curved through the air as smoothly
as if he’d been drawn with a compass,
a graceful inflection discordantly accompanied
by crepitating branches and breathy leaves,
and landed in a lush, bent sapling.
To call it beautiful misses the point.
To say he stood and walked away unharmed
is true. For fifteen years I’ve remembered that shape,
its pace, but it’s the moment when he understood
it would happen that I return to: that fear,
and whether he resisted it or surrendered.
How often it happens that we step, half-consideringly
into the impersonal forces at work,
unable to pull ourselves back.
The tread of the stair beneath our feet
the appalling speed of our own blood.
The fifty years of our working lives limit our thoughts
as the pyramids’ size was ultimately determined
by what they could build within the pharaoh’s life.
The arctic whale moves through the water
with a century-old, ivory spearhead buried in its flesh.
My son was born early, before his body had developed
the reflex to suck. He spent his first two weeks alive
covered in wires and tubes amid loud, beeping machines.
I did not know him yet, in the lasting way,
but I saw he had my grandfather’s face.
And oh I was afraid. And we moved through it.
SUSAN HUTTON
Michigan Quarterly Review
Spring 2014

 

summer_time_b+w

Pineapple Quilt Block (for Bee-mates)

Queen Bee

As my friend Susan of Patchworknplay says, I’m Queen Bee in August for the Always Bee Learning Bee.

Pineapple Block August ABL

This bee likes to learn new things, so I thought I’d try a Pineapple Quilt Block, but use a paper foundation piecing technique to keep everything true and accurate during the process.  This is an 8″ block when finished (8 1/2″ when you finish your block for me), and I’m using solid fabrics coupled with small print fabrics with a WHITE background — no grey, no tan, no beiges, just white.  In this bee we also mail out fabrics, and some of my bee-mates have already received theirs; I mailed them out early because of traveling and family visits in the last half of July.  I’ll also be doing this for my turn in November of the Mid-Century Modern Bee, but for that bee we don’t mail fabrics, but simply provide descriptions and examples.  **If you feel you have too many of the same, feel free to substitute in any from your stash, as long as the print background is bright white, and the figures are small rainbow-colored designs.  Ditto for the substituting the solids. I tried to distribute them randomly, but you know how things go.**

I’ve written up some step-by-step directions (below) but I got the paper foundation from Generations Quilt Patterns, another website with a really good tutorial on Pineapple Blocks. (They have a discussion of setting the blocks on this page.)  Their ideas and explanations are top-notch, so if you find my step-by-step confusing, feel free to step over to that site and take a look.  If you want the pattern, head over *here* and download the 8″ size of the Pineapple Quilt Block.

Cutting Chart Pineapple(Chart modified from Generations Quilt Patterns.  Used with permission.)

Using the diagram above, which is modified from Generations Quilt Patterns *here* cut your pieces to size, keeping track of which is which (solids vs. light bright prints). I cut all my strips 1 -1/2″ wide as I didn’t ever want to have to mess with unpicking if it went on slightly skewed.  (NOTE: for the outer corners (#38-41), sometimes I just cut a 3″ piece of fabric by 6″ piece of fabric.  I know the corner will be on the bias that way, but that’s okay with me.)

5_ Pieces Lined Up

Here they are, all cut out and ready to go (I am doing multiple blocks, so don’t get confused by what you see above).

Step One

1_Center Square affixed

Using a glue stick, dab a small amount of glue on the small square and glue it to the back (unprinted side) of your paper foundation chart.

Step Two

2_Beginning of First Row

One by one, align, then sew on the first set of print strips, using a 1/4″ seam.

3_ Beginning of Stitching Line

When stitching on this, and all other rows, start your stitching a couple of stitches before the line, and finish a couple of stitches beyond the line, so as to secure the sewing.

4_Ending First Row

I sewed on the first two, pressed them to the side, then did the next two.  I learned to pin the fabrics so as not to have slippage.

Messy Ironing Paper

I printed out your parchment paper on my Laserjet, which can leave a residue on the ironing board, so I put down a piece of paper and pressed on that.  This is the messy paper at the end of my pressing session (sorry about all the transfer stuff).

Step Three

6_Cutting and Folding_1

Fold back your parchment paper in order to trim it up.  I sketched in the first fold, above, in pink.

6a_Cutting and Folding

Lay your ruler so that 1/4″ peeks out, then trim.  Again, I used Generations Quilt Patterns as a reference, if you need to read or see it differently.

7_First Row On

All four sides have been trimmed (those fold lines look so crisp in this paper!).

7a_Stitching First Row

Here’s what the stitching looks like from the printed side.  Notice I’m a couple of stitches over the line every time.  Generations recommends a full quarter-inch over, but it tore the parchment paper too much.  Two or three stitches will be fine.

Step Three

8_Second Row

Repeat this process, using the solids this time.  At this point you can do two at a time (opposite sides, like the yellow and green shown above).  Stitch those, press out, then add on the remaining two solid strips.  Stitch, then press open.

9_Cutting and Folding

You’ll turn the paper and fold back again, as shown this time by the green line, above.  Trim as in the previous step, all four corners.

10_Second Row Sewn

It’s looking pretty cute!  I like how now I start to see blunt ends on the corners.

Step Four

11_Third Row Beginning

Add on the next row of light bright print strips, again doing two (only) at a time.  Soon you can do all four, just not yet. Trust me on this.

12_Third Row Sewn and Pressed

Press open, then trim.

13_Third Row Trimmed

One nice thing about paper-foundation piecing is how nicely the points come out and how it is all perfectly aligned.

Step Five

14_Fourth Row

Still doing only two at a time (opposites) add on the next row of solids.

15_Fourth Row Sewn Pressed Trimmed

All pressed and trimmed up.  The blunt end is becoming more pronounced.

Step Six

16_Fifth Row Pinned

Okay, now!  You can now pin on all four light bright print strips onto your pineapple, and lifting your needle/presser foot in between to pivot the paper and move to the new stitching place, then begin sewing again.  Clip through the traveling threads after you are finished sewing.

17_Fifth Row Sewn Pressed

It’s pressed.

18_Fifth RowTrimmed

And now, trimmed.  Keep going, keeping track of which row is solids and which row is light bright prints until you only have the corners left to do.

19_Penultimate Row Sewn

Step Seven

20_Outer Blocks placed

Some of you have 4 1/2″ triangles in your packet and some of you have 3″ x 6″ strips.  I show both in the following photos. To figure out the alignment, Generations Quilt Pattern uses a nifty trick of letting the point of the triangle guide you.

21_Outer Block Aligned

Line up the outer raw edges of the diagonally cut triangle, with the point centered in the square, as shown by the bright blue (above).  Stitch.

22_Outer Blocks Pinned

For the 3″ by 6″ strip, fold in half to find the center, then line that up with the center square, as shown.  Pin, then stitch.

22a_Outer Blocks SewnPressed

Corner blocks pressed.

Step Eight

23_Trimming

Okay, I know this ruler isn’t perfectly aligned (the phone rang right as I was going to snap the photo and startled me, and I didn’t find out until later how crooked it was). So, don’t do as I show, do as I did: make sure to only trim 1/4″ outside the solid line, all the way around.  DON’T TRIM ON THE SOLID LINE.

Ripping Off Paper

Once trimmed, turn it over and use Katie Pasquini-Masopust’s famous “Fatty Thigh” method for removing foundation papers (I learned this from her at Houston one year).  As she instructed us: lay it over your fatty thigh, and pop the papers off, starting on the outside, working in.  The parchment paper comes off so much easier for me than regular paper, so I hope you have an easy time of it.  Thank you, thank you!!  You are done!

Final Four

Here are four together.  I look forward to seeing all of yours!

–Final notes–

Boys in the Boat

I listened to The Boys in the Boat while working on this project, a fascinating story.  I’ll never look at this sport the same way again.

Parchment Paper

And the paper? Here’s a photograph of the information on the edge of my ream of paper.  I bought this paper several years ago, beginning with my Come A-Round quilt (below), a foundation-pieced quilt, and have used if for several other projects (including Scrappy Stars and I am currently using it for my selvage quilt).  It will probably last me until I die, and although not cheap (I think I paid 35 bucks for this ream) I feel like it was a great investment.  They do sell it on Kelly Paper online, but I’m not quite sure which one is which.  You could take in a scrap of what I sent and ask them to find the same thing, I suppose.

Come A-Round, full SM

Yep,  all those spiral dotty circles in the middle were arcs that were paper-foundation pieced.  The pattern is a Piece O’ Cake Design, titled Everyday Best.

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My blogging software places ads here so I can use this site for free.  I do not control the content of these ads.

Happy to Be Home

Croatia Trip 2014

Well, the laundry is done, but I’m still walking into walls, as the jet lag recovery seems fiercer this time, perhaps complicated by the arrival of my son and his family 24 hours after we arrived home, but who can say no to seeing the grandchildren?  The trip, above, was delightful, with the appropriate number of highs and lows.  If you want to see some of my photographs, there is a pretty extensive collection of them on my Instagram feed (button to the right), and once I start posting about the trip, many more will be on my travel blog.  One of the positive things is that I now know where Croatia is.  And Slovenia.  And know that Hungary has this massive lake in the middle of it that stretches for miles and miles, or at least it felt that way, as our train from Zagreb (Slovenia) to Budapest (Hungary) stopped at every single station along that lake. And I also know that I need to figure out how to make gulyas (goulash) the Hungarian way.  It was amazing.   I was able to read all your comments while I was gone, and hoped you enjoyed the continuing posts.  Thanks for the messages you left.

MCM Block July 2014

I pretty much did nothing for the first few days home, but then eased back into sewing with our Mid-Century Modern’s Bee block for this month.

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Susan, of PatchworknPlay liked this quilt, so asked us all to make a 12″ star with a black background to begin her collection.  Beginning with one that I liked from my Jolly Old St. Nicholas quilt (post *here* with lots of 12 blocks with templates), I subdivided and added, so it would be more snazzy, with more colors.  You can download a PDF file of the templates by clicking on this link: Snazzy Star.  Enjoy!  It’s my welcome home gift to you, making up into a 12″ block.

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I used my QuiltPro program to do this–it’s a simpler, older version of an electronic quilt program, but it works great for me.  So, cross two things of my list: a Bee Block for July, and Getting Back Into Sewing!

Circles EPP Button

I picked up lots of ideas for the Circles blocks–a richly decorated church in Slovenia had them painted everywhere–so right now I’m working on the EPP Circles block #3 (named “Ljubljana”) and will post that the first part of August.

4-in-art_3

I am also working on our Contrasts challenge for our Four-In-Art reveal August 1st, so keep your fingers crossed that I’ll make my deadline (I’m starting earlier this time, as my jet lagged brain is still fogged in).  In keeping with the laundry-list theme of this post, I’m also the Queen Bee for the Always Bee Learning Bee in August, and in this bee, fabric is mailed out along with the block, so that’s in the works as well. And I’ve just got to get to the beach this summer, don’t you think?

There's No Place Like Home

But as Dorothy found out, there’s no place like home. I’m glad to be back.

Independence Day

Fireworks

Happy Fourth of July!

WpreInaug-Capitol

I just returned from a long trip to Croatia, Slovenia and Budapest, and am still trying to figure out what time zone I’m in.   As soon as I do, you’ll be the first to know.

Jetlagfrom *here*

Circles Block #2, English Paper Piecing

EPP Circles #2 Block_finished

Circles Block #2

Here we go again, with the second block in our slow sewing, English Paper Piecing, series of circles.  This one is called Kansas Sunflower and Barbara Brackman’s book shows its origin around 1928.  I have created a PDF pattern (roughly drawn, as I am no graphic artist); click to download: EPP Circles #2

This one has a large center circle, which measures a bit under 5 1/2″  but I would cut it 6″ because I think having the extra bit of cloth is better.  To get a smooth template to gather it up over, iron two pieces of freezer paper together, then trace the circle.  It should give you enough stability.  Or do as I did: head to your iron, and using the tip, iron it in small bites around your paper circle, then sew it to the paper.

EPP2 Circles block #1

Here’s the sketch of the block.  On the lower right you’ll notice that I colored in one half-arc green and one half-arc blue.  If you want to split yours up like that, I included just one tracing of that as an option, but you could also just cut the other arcs in half and go at it that way.  I prefer the larger outer arc. As before, in Circles Block #1, there is an assumption that you know a bit about English Paper Piecing, where you take the pattern, lay it out, then fold the seam allowances back over the paper pattern, then baste.  Others have used freezer paper, or glue.  Do a Google search if you are curious about these other ways of securing the paper.

EPP2 Cutting out EPP pieces

I wanted to use a chevron for the “petal” piece, so I fussy cut them so the chevron stripes would meet along the sides.  I pin down my pieces (with the writing up), then just freehand rotary cut around them.

EPP2 Pieces Laid Out

Auditioning everything.

EPP2 Arcs Basted and Stitched

After basting the seam allowances down to every pattern piece, I stitched the petals together in two groups of six.  Then I sewed the arcs in between those, as shown below:

EPP2 Setting in Outer Arc

EPP2 Stitched and Center Circle Pinned

I stitched those two flower halves together, then the last two arcs, then laid on the center.  I don’t know why I chose this orangey-red; it just spoke to me.  I had already basted the seam allowances down so I just arranged it on the petals and pinned it down.  I appliquéd it onto the petals, and that’s when I discovered that maybe a 6″ diameter circle might make you happier as it’s a scant 1/4″ overlap in some places.  Then the fun part: taking out some of the papers.  I released the center circle basting threads and the petal basting threads and took out those papers, but left the papers in the deep blue outer arcs.

EPP Circles #2 Block_finished

I’m putting the photo in again, because now you have a decision to make: do you want those four seams in the outer pieces to line up with a point?  Or to be offset (like mine)?  I went back and forth and decided I didn’t want it so busy–I liked the slightly off-kilter look of not having points dead center at Noon, Three, Six and Nine O’Clock.

EPP2 Sewing Diagram

I don’t think there is any easy way to get those four outside pieces on.  This is how I do it: I stitch the seams between parts #1 and #2 to get two pieces hooked together, then pin it about four places around that the #1 arc of the outside circle.  I begin at the lower center  (XX) and stitch around that 1/4-arc, stopping one inch short of the next seam allowance.  Part #2 is just flapping in the breeze.

Then I go back to where I started stitching (XX), and stitch the other side (#2), using a few pins where needed (not too many, or it’s ouch-ouch-ouch).  I then seam together pieces #3 and #4, and repeat the process.  As I draw near to the #2 piece, I thread a different thread, do the seam between #2 and #3, then tie it off.  I go back to the thread I was stitching with before and then finish it off.  Repeat for 1/4-arc #4.

I just reread this, and if you are confused, I don’t blame you.  It’s just hard to navigate those pieces when they are backed with paper, and I get tired of fighting with them.  I suppose you could just seam all four outside corners together, then pin and appliqué it down like you did the center circle.  I don’t think there is a wrong way or a right way to do this.  Have fun and let me know what works for you.

EPP Circles Block 1 and 2

 

Are you worried about the fact that my circles aren’t matchy-matchy?  Sometimes I was worried about that too, but then in the previous post I noticed that there was such a variety of circles and colors in a couple of those quilts, and calmed right down.  Keep going.  Keep stitching.  Have fun.  Next circle block comes up around the first of August, right after our Four-in-Art Reveal of Contrasts.

I’ve started a tab, above, with all the blocks and their posts, for easier reference.  By the way, there is no big deadline for any of this; I think I’d have a heart attack if I had one more deadline.  I just wanted a project to put in a little box and carry with me on car travels, on vacations, and while I collapse in the heat at night on the sofa to watch a good movie. (And given that it will take me several months, I may be curling up under a quilt in the cold, still hand-sewing.) Just know that it’s here if you want to make some circles, or a pillow, or need a hand project that is an alternative to 5,000 hexagon papers or umpteen finished hexies.  If you do decide to make one, or several, send me a photo and I’ll put it up here on the blog.  Have fun sloooow sewing!

Circles EPP Button

Some Interesting Circle Quilts

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While looking through this blog, I found some examples of interesting circle quilts.  This one, made by Kathleen H. McCrady and titled  Sawtooth X, is patterned after an old one from 1875, using reproduction fabrics in brighter colorways.

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This is kind of “circle-y,” but has added oak leaf appliqués in the corners.

American Folk Art Museum Circle Quilt(from *here*)

Known as the Georgetown Circle Quilt, its maker is unknown, but it was made in the era between 1900-1920.

Georgetown circles variation(from *here*)

Here’s a modern variation of that Georgetown Circles quilt.

airship_propeller_std

I found this one on my computer, with a date of 2005.  It’s from Freddy Moran and I believe she calls it Airship Propeller. But I could be wrong about that title.  Jenn Kingwell did a similar design, but turned her blocks on point:

Steampunk1(from *here*)

Circle Block from Smithsonian

Lastly, when I lived in Washington DC, the Smithsonian Institution’s American History Museum had this sort of secret quilt tour, but if you knew about it, you’d call them up and a docent would take you in the back and open lots of archival drawers, showing you positively ancient quilts (some 250+ years old).  It was amazing.  In one drawer was this quilt with circles.  This one looks challenging to piece, but I think easier if is English Paper Pieced.  I’ll save this one for later in the series, once we’ve gotten our skill set up and going.

All this proves that our slow sewing, of making English paper  pieced circle blocks is an idea that has come around again.

Cleaning the Design Wall

Since I am away from the computer for a while, I’m running a few favorite, previously published posts.  
This one originally ran on July 22, 2010, but is modified for today’s post.
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Here’s the before:

The during:

The after:

Okay, that’s not a very exciting thing to do, right?  We want all our sewing tools to keep on working, day after day, no complaints, no breakdowns, no upkeep or maintenance required.  But it’s such a little thing to take a few minutes and cheap-o lint roller remover and stroke down the board.  And really, is the Before picture really so objectionable? Yet, what surprised me is how many of the threads that came off on those sticky papers were seemingly invisible to me.

But since I did it yesterday, just walking into the room is different.  My pin wall is thread-free (for the time being) and it makes the room look cleaner.  It made me think of the premise behind Malcolm Gladwell’s book The Tipping Point: that an epidemic can start with one small thing and roll on out from that.   It’s like how picking up the towels in the bathroom and rehanging them triggers a cleaning of the sink.  Or washing the curtains makes you repaint the bedroom.  I’m talking about those kinds of mini-epidemics, that are just one person wide and one person deep. Those changes I make myself.

My sewing room (aka The Study) had been a mess since we arrived home from our trip to Canada and I just didn’t seem to have the mental energy to put the things away.  But I cleaned the threads off the wall and now I’m putting away those little naggy things that linger after travel is done.

So maybe, taking time off to take care of things has unintended consequences?  That this can, in some ways, apply to our own creativity level?  That taking time off to clean out a few cobwebs, have a walk on the beach, or take a minute to sing along to a popular song in between shuttling the family to various places is like cleaning the threads off the design wall?

boyinwaderpool

Perhaps a little mental maintenance on our own selves is why summertime is such a tonic, even if we don’t know what ails us.

Process vs. Product

Since I am away from the computer for a while, I’m running a few favorite, previously published posts.  
This one originally ran on July 16, 2010, but is modified for today’s post.
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Is it possible to lust after another person’s finished quilt?  Yes, quite possibly.  Definitely. For sure.  The quilt shown above uses the Castle Peeps line, and was put together by  Elizabeth Hartman, of Oh! Fransson.  I purchased the blue colorway of this line this summer and before I close out my sewing blitz and focus on The Job, I’m dying to throw together one more quilt.  This design has inspired me.

There’s been a lot of talk on the blogosphere about the issue of production in quilting, and I’m here to add my .02.  Jennifer, of “That Girl. . . That Quilt,” has written a whole series of her thoughts about “quilting without obligations.” They seem to be a reaction to the feeling that quilting is all about production, rather than about the process.  This is an age-old discussion and is found in other corners of the creative universe.

When I was an undergrad, working in the black and white photo lab, this idea–process vs. product–was discussed constantly.  To give you a flavor of what our conversations sounded like, as we blew dust specks off of our negatives and worked at creating “art,” have a listen to the little clip below. Yes, it’s dense, but give it a go.

I think his point that when we focus on product, we may miss other connections that may arise from the creative process is valid, but there are times when product is not the Big Evil.  Sometimes I just want to get something done, speaking of quilts and quilting.  Sometimes I just want to quickly make up a quilt in a fabric line because I want to see that on my bed.  I’m not interested in being drawn into the process of the quilt–I just want to lay down under it.  Or hang it up on the wall.  Or because the process has already happened in my mind, in thinking about it at the back of my brain when I couldn’t get to the sewing machine for one reason or another.

I read a lot of blogs, like the rest of you, and many of them are designed as advertising.  The quilt artists/makers have been involved in the process of their art and designed fabric/patterns/quilts that they need to sell in order to make their living.  Many blogs are tied to online quilt shops.  These are valuable places for me to go and get my ideas, be exposed to new fabrics, enjoy the fruits, if you will, of other people’s labors all before I take up my rotary cutter to slice into some fabric.  I enjoy these blogs, love reading them, admire the work.  But I do not ever confuse what they are doing–earning a living–with what I am doing.  Some other blogs have “taken the process pledge,” and try to put out on their blogs how they arrived at the journey’s end.  This is a valuable resource for us as quilters when it truly involves process, and not just a “how-to” tutorial (although I like those too).

It seems to me that there is enough room in this quilting universe that we can quilt what we want to, blog when we want to, go off on vacation when we want to, work (when we have to) that we don’t need to compete.  Commercial blogs? Non-commercial blogs?  They are resources for us all to glean from.

ProductProcess_PreK+KImages, and interesting reading,  from *here*

Product?  Process?  We need them both.

Contrasts: Four-in-Art August 2014 Challenge

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from *here*

The theme for our August 1st Challenge Reveal is “Contrast.”  Anne suggests the contrasts inherent in cities: noisy/quiet, man-made/natural, fast/slow, wealthy neighborhood/poor neighborhood.  I have started thinking about this, but first, my interest is in the visual contrasts: dark/light, colorful/greyed, smooth/rough, thin/thick.

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from *here*

The following images are snapshots from the New York Times Travel/Design Magazine: “T.”

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2014 Yearly Theme: Urban • August 1st Challenge: Contrast

Quilts and Stitching in Art

Okay, I had a fun time in Washington, DC this spring once I realized I could play I Spy and look for quilts.  I think this is a good game that I should keep playing, and if you have a picture of a quilt in art — whether it be in a painting or a photograph in a museum — send it over and when I get a slew, I’ll do a post.

Bishop_ Sewing2

Okay, this isn’t technically quilting, but it’s stitching.  This is a detail of Mending, by Isabel Bishop and hangs in the National Portrait Gallery.  She writes “I have noticed regular denizens of [Union] Square [in New York City] who, sitting on the benches or on the fountain, easting, sewing or rearranging their worldly good in paper bundles, seem to be leading the most private of lives, entirely oblivious to the public character of the place.  The not-beautiful forms of the fountain seem. . . to make a throne for the old man sewing his trousers; he is billowing old overcoat [becomes] a robe.”

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Elias Howe Pillow

This is a needlepoint stitchery in the gallery of the Washington National Cathedral that honors the 100 Most Famous Americans, all who have a red needlepoint pillow on a chair. Of course I was drawn to this one, honoring Elias Howe, inventor of the modern-day sewing machine.  We ALL owe him a debt.

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Sondra Freckelton’s Harvest is one of her still lives that capture “the quiet beauty of domestic, often feminized objects — quilts, garden implements, house wares, and fresh produce gathered from her own garden in the . . . Catskill Mountains.”  I don’t know about you, but I was interested that a Smithsonian label-writer plopped in that phrase of “domestic, often feminized objects” when discussing Freckelton’s watercolor.  Don’t tell our male quilters this.

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And I knew she wasn’t herself a quilter, for who of us would plop down vegetables on top of this gorgeous appliqué quilt?

Pieced Quilt_Fletcher_1

Mary Fletcher was born in 1940 and died in 1922, but her fine hand-pieced hexie silk quilt now resides in the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery.  We are all jealous!

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I decided she had an amazing scrap bag to have so many beautiful silks to work with.

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And lastly, Honore Sharrer’s Tribute to the American Working People, who employed the polyptych format of medieval paintings to pay homage to the working people of America.

Sharrer_Tribute quilt

And here’s the quilt–in the upper left panel: a lovely scalloped Dresden Plate.