Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Wedding Quilt

I wasn’t at the AQS Paducah show this year and there’s a very good reason. My only daughter, unaware that the 2011 show was one week later than usual because of Easter, scheduled her wedding for May 1st in South Carolina. As much as I love meeting all the contest winners and catching up with friends new and old every year in Paducah, I could not shirk my long awaited mother-of-the-bride duties and pleasures that week.

From all reports, it appears the AQS staff, teachers, vendors, AQ contributing editors, and attendees pulled together under dire circumstances and did a remarkable job of coping with the unexpected flood warnings and weather conditions. Special thanks go to my contributing editors Iris Frank, Kathie Kerler, and Marjie Russell; amidst all the chaotic conditions, they managed to interview the major prize winners and wrote the text you’ll read in the Paducah show section of the July 2011 issue of American Quilter.

But back to the wedding! Of course there is a wedding quilt in the works. After showing my daughter (Leslie) and her fiancé (Jonathan) a dozen or so books from which to choose a quilt pattern, they found three designs they liked. All were from the same book, City Quilts: 12 Dramatic Projects Inspired by Urban Views by Cherri House (C&T Publishing). The couple currently lives in Denver, and Jonathan originally hails from New York City, so the contemporary quilts in this book were right up their alley.

Of their favorites, the design most suitable for a signature quilt was City Lights, featuring brick-shaped blocks set in vertical rows. I redrew the design in Electric Quilt (EQ7), working with the couple to come up with a color plan that felt right for both the wedding theme and their home décor. My rendering, which is slightly modified from Cherri House’s original, is shown above with permission from C&T (it is a copyrighted pattern).

Before the wedding, I cut out brick-shaped blocks and taped the edges with masking tape so guests wouldn’t write within the seam allowance. Many of the wedding guests had never seen or even heard of signing fabric blocks for a quilt, but our wonderful wedding planner made sure there was a table and chairs both at the outside reception and later indoors at the wedding dinner for this purpose. I asked my quilter friend, Pat Thompson, to handle this task, and she did it beautifully.

It will probably be the couple’s first anniversary before they receive my completed gift, but like all wedding quilts, I hope that this one serves as a permanent reminder of a special day filled with love, respect, commitment, and the importance of friends and family.

City Quilts: 12 Dramatic Projects Inspired by Urban Views by Cherri House is available for purchase at www.americanquilter.com/books_supplies/item_detail.php?id=8191 and AQS members receive a discount.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Fabulous freeform filler strips

Quilter, author, and pattern designer Gail Garber has come up with another winning concept for interpreting traditional quilt patterns in a more contemporary style. She calls her technique Freeform Fillers—they’re basically curved rows filled with a variety of foundation-pieced designs such as Flying Geese and Picket Fence. These colorful pieced fillers can be used to create an entire quilt, or they can simply add a dramatic border or center to your next project. As you can see from these photos, Gail's fillers have a graceful swooping and dipping bird-like quality, not surprising when you learn Gail is also director of Hawks Aloft, a New Mexico non-profit organization that works to protect indigenous wild birds.

Gail outlines her technique and shows you how to design your own fillers in the July 2011 issue of American Quilter magazine, which will be mailed to AQS members the first week of June. If you’re not yet an AQS member or if you joined after May 3, 2011, you can purchase this issue on newsstand in mid-June or order a copy now through our member services department at 800-626-5420. (This issue is supersized to 114 pages and features all the winning quilts from both the Lancaster and Paducah AQS shows. It's always a quick sellout.)

And if you want to explore Gail’s technique even more, check out her book Flying Colors – Design Quilts with Freeform Shapes & Flying Geese (C&T Publishing), available for purchase at http://www.americanquilter.com/books_supplies/item_detail.php?id=8319.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Breaking the border-cutting "rules"

American Quilter magazine pattern editor Marje Rhine shares her views on cutting fabric borders:

"Quilters are usually taught to cut quilt borders parallel to the selvage. There are a couple of good reasons for this. First, there is less stretch in the fabric parallel to the selvage so less likelihood of wavy borders. Second, the borders would not need to be pieced with adequate yardage.

But we all know there are no quilt police and there are good reasons to occasionally break the quilting 'rules.' I often cut my borders across the width of the fabric (WOF) from selvage to selvage. The borders usually need to be pieced but less fabric is required. And if the fabric is one of those large-scale prints so popular today, the borders may look better cut across the fabric width.

For example, here is a large-scale print I want to use as the outside border for my quilt.

For the next figure, I have superimposed cutting lines on the fabric to show the difference in the appearance of the borders after the fabric is cut. Although there is quite a bit of the blue I want in the print, some border strips cut parallel to the selvage will have almost no blue. Also, the same motifs repeat often in a lengthwise border strip. The border strips cut selvage to selvage have more variety in color and motifs.

See the difference in these quilt mock-ups below. The quilt with the borders cut across the WOF is more balanced and interesting to look at.

Don't be afraid to break the rules if, in the end, you like the quilt better."

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Springtime in Colorado

Having lived in wonderful Colorado for nearly 20 years now, I often joke that the unpredictable weather is perfect for people with short attention spans. It’s not unusual to have 40 or 50 degree temperature variations between morning and night on the same day, and the weather can go from heavenly to devilish in a matter of hours.

Well, this week has been remarkable even for Colorado! It was 81 degrees in Castle Rock two days ago, and since then we’ve had over six inches of snow. And it’s still snowing! The hummingbirds are usually busy finding nesting places in the nearby scrub oak but when they see the snow piled up on my feeder (photo above), they’ll probably head back to the Gulf of Mexico for an extended winter stay.

The good part about this kind of weather—and with the advantage of working from a home office—I’m spending lots of extra time indoors, exploring new ideas for future issues of American Quilter magazine. One of the things that makes AQ unique is the variety of voices in which the articles in each issue are told. Quilting does not have a narrow spectrum, and one of my goals as editor is to encompass fresh new stories, techniques, patterns, lifestyle ideas, and author voices to make each issue special and unique. Maybe that “short attention span” thing comes into play here, but you won’t find a humdrum formula in AQ from one issue to the next.

The supersized July 2011 issue, with photos of 77 winning quilts from both the Lancaster and Paducah AQS shows, goes to press today. AQS members can expect to see that issue arrive in their mailboxes (though delivery is highly dependent on your local post office!) beginning the first week of June. But please be patient, and perhaps read my posting from March 25, which offers a little detail about magazine delivery. If you just joined AQS and did so AFTER May 4, your subscription will begin with the September issue. However, you can still order a copy of the July issue through our member services department (800-626-5420 or memserv@aqsquilt.com) or purchase it on newsstand after June 14th.

What is springtime like where you live?