Sunday, June 26, 2011

Hot Summer Colors

Whew! A busy week here in the studio. There were lots of great rainy and gray days to take advantage of. But this weekend has been mostly sunny and Greg is out sprucing up the yard for the holiday celebrations. Every time I look outside there seems to be more flowers than before, like these mossroses, which are a yearly tradition.

My favorite hot color combination of red and yellow seemed to be the theme for the week. First, my wonderful helper, Susan, came over to dig through my major stash of vintage Sassaman fabrics because she had a project in mind.

A few days later she called to say she was coming over with a "very colorful surprise". Holy cow!!! This is a Vogue pattern by well known designer, Koos van der Akker. I first became aware of his wonderful couture clothing from the Dragon Threads book, Koos: Couture & Collage by Linda Teufel. He loves to mix fabric prints in unexpected combinations and his clothing designs are always opulent and exciting.

All of these fabrics are from Jane's Floral Fantasy, a line I did for FreeSpirit around 2004. You may have some of it in your stash, too. Susan has arranged them in a masterful
composition. I really like how the blue is carried throughout and adds a lively contrast to the red and gold. Notice, too, that the lily print is repeated for continuity.

This is a three piece ensemble... harem skirt, cowl blouse and cummerbund belt. The skirt is actually reversible and continues on up inside and given a little twist to create the full ballooned edge. Clever!

The blouse has a cool cowl neckline and gathered shoulders. It is lined with very sheer, almost see-through, fabric to help it hold it's shape.

The belt is really interesting, as it is made of strips of fabric sewn in diagonal rows and then into a tube. Then the tube is folded like a paper fan and stitched at both ends. I wish I'd thought of that!

But, oh, such a perfect outfit for a garden party. I can just imagine Doris Day wearing this with red hi-heels. Perhaps we should name our mannequin Doris, as she has the most fun in the studio.

It seems that red and yellow was the theme in Melissa Peda's San Diego studio this week, too.
Here is a fabulous baby blanket made with my current FreeSpirit line, Garden Divas. I appreciate that someone else shares my colorful infatuation! This checker board quilt of 6 inch squares is very basic quilt construction, but the results are extraordinary. The checks are made from the Daisy Check fabric and the Zinnia fabric, both from the Exotic colorway. I find the simple repeat very satisfying and love the electricity created by the blue border. And that little bit of red iris blends the body and border together beautifully. As always, Melissa, thanks for sharing your vision with us!! Lucky baby!

It is uncanny how often Melissa and I are on the same fabric tangent! This is one of my projects this week using some of the exact same Garden Diva fabrics. I have to admit to really liking the Zinnia fabric with the red background, even if I did design it. Sometimes a mother has favorites. So here it is in an ocean waves quilt.

I started with a 10"(finished) zinnia medallion and then made blocks with 10" half square triangles. The blocks are made using three fabrics... Willow Wands (pastel), Lively Silhouette (blush) and Picnic Checks from the Prairie Gothic line. They are arranged to create the illusion of transparency by alternating pink and red blocks. The border repeats the Zinnia fabric again. I think the overall look is kind of old fashioned farm house... comforting, fresh and summery.

The back, however, is another story. But it is still keeping with this weeks color theme. I always like to do interesting backs so I get two quilts in one. I try to coordinate colors and attitude. I just could not resist
this fabric combination. Again, it is from my stash of treasured fabrics and it turned into a lively piece. It reminds me of circus posters, summer days, pedal-pushers, red PF Fliers and bikes with handle fringe.
In fact, like the 4th of July! Have a great holiday!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Garden Divas in the Rain

Last week I got to visit one of my favorite cities, Portland, Oregon, for a few days of class with the talented Columbia Stitchery Guild. I love everything about Portland... the weather, the shopping, Powell's Bookstore, the gardens, the architecture, the galleries and museums. This glorious tree is at the amazing Japanese Gardens.

Portland is, also, the hub of the modern crafting movement and host to many creative events for crafty entrepreneurs. One day after class I was treated to a visit to the Portland Craft Museum. There was a intriguing show about weaving and as we wandered upstairs we notice a great activity in their classroom space. About two dozen people were sewing, either by hand or machine. A group was sitting around a table and all free-style embroidering on a single large table cloth. Others were stitching up quilts. They were all participating in a Craft Party to create quilts to send to Japanese disaster victims. The event was sponsored by Etsy. I felt honored to be a small part of this crafty momentum.

Upon my return, my friend Linda Teufel, editor of Dragon Threads and fellow Bernina Artisan, came for a visit. It's such a novelty to see your teaching fellows and not be "working", too. When I picked Linda up from the airport, she was easy to spot because she was dressed in Garden Divas!

She made two of these wonderful shirts... one for herself and one for me, too! The pattern is from Indygo Junction and called Mismatch Medley. It is a perfect way to feature several favorite fabrics at once.

I really like the way she has sprinkled the pink and turquoise throughout with a base of black to hold it all together. The edges are serged, which adds some extra detail and texture.

Even the sleeves are different fabrics. This looks great with a pair of slim black trousers or capris and summer sandals. It looks right at home among the flowers in the garden, too!

She let me choose the fabric combination for my shirt and I decided to stick with a conservative blue, black and green pallet. The results are far from average, though. It even looks wonderful with jeans!

Thanks, Linda! As always, it is delightful to see the fabric put to such good use!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Too Hot Outside-Cool Projects Inside

It has been way too hot for the first week of June! It is so hot that Gardner Greg is overwhelmed by noon, but tries his best to make slow progress. So much to do! I, however, head straight for the studio where it is nice and cool and enjoy the garden through the window.

I can see the first peony blossoms and the day lilies glowing through the dappled sunlight. I see the iris are very happy and the strawberries are claiming more space, as always. Ahhhh... the best of both world!

Since we have begun with a pink peony this week, let's continue with the color pink. Here is an extremely pink beach bag designed and made by my friend, Melissa Peda, proprietor of 100billionstars,
an Etsy shop. Melissa has a great instinct for using "personality" prints and shares her talent with several fellow FreeSpirit designers. Since I design the fabric to be beautiful straight off the bolt, I am always happy to see it in "full flower". Melissa has successfully combined several fabrics from the Garden Diva line (Dragonfly Moon and Willow Wands, above) in this cheerful project.

She even had fun with the lining of the bag. I like to have bright linings in my purses because it is so much easier to find things... but this lining will make you smile, too. It is just so much FUN! The main body of the lining is Spring Wreath, with a pink pocket of Lively Silhouette fabric and a key case in Willow Wands, again. Very refreshing on a hot afternoon!

My personal project this week had just a tiny bit of pink. Turquoise ruled in the studio. I have a heartfelt project to make as many simple, but dramatic quilts from the Garden Divas fabrics as possible. I am very fond of this line and feel it has some designs that are "pure Jane", so I want to share it's full potential with all of you.

As you know, I love very strong and graphic designs. This is probably one of the reasons I was so attracted to quilting, in the first place. And I love the rhythm and excitement created by hard edged repetitive motifs, as in Amish quilts. Plus BLACK is another favorite for creating drama in a composition. So this quilt has it all.

The main block is fussy cut from the Lively Silhouette (Aqua) and the supporting block is made with solid black and the Daisy Check in the peacock colorway. I think it is an elegant combination. I cut the Silhouette block so the black part of the design was concentrated at the bottom and would blend into the smaller black squares. But the Lively Silhouette comes in six colors and they would each made a fabulous version of this quilt, although the moods would be totally different.

Notice the tiny pink dot in the checked fabric above? So now we have come back to PINK. In fact, I think this quilt should be quilted with pink thread. YES!