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Slow Stitching

Oops! Technical error! Sorry!  To view this week’s post on Scarecrow Faces go to http://chrisquilts.net/blog/?p=8058!

 

This past Summer I had lunch with a dear friend whom I hadn’t seen for years. Dagmar Plenk is an amazing fiber artist, and many of my award winning quilts contain her beautiful hand-dyed fabrics.

She had taken a break from quilting and dyeing, and is now getting back into it, but from a different angle. She’d spent a lot of time knitting over the past few years and handwork is a joy for her.

During our conversation she spoke about “slow stitching” and I had to say “wait, back-up, what in the world it slow stitching?”.

She explained it as a very organic experience in which she takes fabric, tears it into strips, and hand couches it to a background fabric with no real pattern or plan. I was intrigued. Then she showed me some pictures:

Dagmar Plenk slow stitching

 

Dagmar-slow-stitching-1

Here’s a picture of her work in progress:

Dagmar Plenk slow stitching

She said she’s tried to start with a plan, but it never turns out as well 🙂 .

Since  September I’ve watched her participate in a “hundred day challenge” on Facebook. Here is her first post:Dagmar Slow Stitching

And days 2 and 3:

dagmar slow stitching

She is now up to day 30 and the journey has been very interesting:

dagmar-recent

I’m fascinated by her process and the beautiful pieces she’s created. Thanks Dagmar, for sharing this intriguing fiber art with us.

If you’re interested in the “Slow Stitching” movement, Dagmar recommended typing it into a search engine. I also found oodles of info on Pinterest.

Have you done any slow stitching? Any pictures or thoughts you’d care to share? Please send them to me at chris@chrisquilts.net.


October 23, 2016, Design
Umbrellas as Fiber Art

My friend, Kathy, had a Saturday Quilt Camp in her home a few months ago. She invited a bunch of quilting friends and we sat around her living room stitching, eating, and having a wonderful day! Kathy’s show and tell was her trapunto’d umbrella.

umbrella-entire

She entered a contest from a group called “Women’s Journey’s in Fiber”, in which they were to create an umbrella as a piece of fiber art. She decided to make her panels using Derwent Inktense pencils™. Once she’d colored her design on the fabric, she trapunto’d areas from behind by stuffing them with fiber fill.

umbrella-detail-2 Kathy Downie fiber art umbrella

She lined the umbrella with a piece of her own hand-dyed fabric:

Kathy Downie fiber art umbrella

And it was featured in a book about the contest pieces:

Kathy Downie fiber art umbrella

Kathy Downie fiber art umbrella

Lovely work Kathy. Thanks for letting me share – and for a fun day!

Kathy Downie fiber art umbrella

To learn more about Kathy Downie, please visit her blog at: https://kathysquiltingjourney.wordpress.com/.


October 2, 2016, Design
How Beautiful – Liberty!

Statue of Liberty

I have some very exciting news to share. I recently made a third quilt in my “Accordion Door” series, and I just found out it has been accepted into the American Quilter’s Society show in Paducah, KY next month!!! (to see the post about my first two”Accordion Door” quilts click here)

“How Beautiful – Liberty” is one quilt made from three, in a very 3-Dimensional way. Here is the rather unusual front on view:

How Beautiful Liberty full front.Kirsch-web

The view from the left is a Mariner’s Compass/New York Beauty combination quilt:

How Beautiful Liberty full left.Kirsch-web

And from the right – the true New York Beauty – Lady Liberty:

How Beautiful Liberty full right.Kirsch-web

This is a detail shot, looking down from the upper left corner, just to give you some perspective:

How Beautiful, Liberty detail.Kirsch-web

I used a variation of my Repliqué technique, called Raw-Edge Repliqué, to make both quilts on the “Accordion Door”. (I’m hoping to be teaching Raw-Edge Repliqué at the Madison Quilt Expo this September). The background quilt, which everything else hangs from, is embellished down the sides with Shiva Paint Stik™ designs. The words are from the Declaration of Independence, and were made using my Brother Scan n Cut™. You may remember a post covering the making of these letters from October (click here to view it).

As the label on the back of the quilt states, this is: “My tribute to the founding father’s words in the Declaration of Independence, and to all who have served our nation fighting for the rights endowed on us by our Creator.”

This quilt is currently hanging at the Prairie Heritage Quilt Show, in Sun Prairie, WI. The show runs Sunday through Tuesday (click here for show details).

Also, this weekend I have another quilt on display at the Elk’s Lodge in Watertown, WI (my town). The event is called:

Screen Shot 2016-03-04 at 9.12.50 PM

“A Festival of Visual, Musical, Theatrical and Literary Arts, and People’s Choice Fine Arts Competition”. The event runs Saturday and Sunday, March 5th & 6th. For the performance schedules: click here, then click on “view” under each date. The art contest I’m participating in is viewer’s choice, so if you live in southeastern Wisconsin I hope you’ll consider taking a road trip to Watertown  🙂 . Sunday afternoon you could actually visit both the Sun Prairie Quilt Show and the Watertown Arts Event!

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I’m planning to do a few posts in the near future on some of the techniques used to make “How Beautiful – Liberty!”, but for now thanks for sharing in my excitement!


March 4, 2016, Design
Artistic Principles

paint night pic

When my kids were little I decided to take a cake decorating class. The first day the teacher said that artistic principles were consistent, no matter what the medium: cake decorating, painting, floral arranging, quilting, etc. all were successful, based on the same things. At that time I didn’t know what color value or composition meant (I have absolutely no background in art – and still don’t feel comfortable drawing free-hand). I had no idea that 30 some years later I would be a fiber artist, but that statement from years ago has stuck with me.

Recently my friend Kay invited the members of our Fiberistas group to a Relay for Life fundraiser – a “Paint Night Event”. You may have heard of these crash courses in art: you pay a fee, meet for 2 hours at a local business, and learn to paint. My first thought was “yeah, right! Me paint a picture in 2 hours”, but the sample (at the beginning of this post) was lovely and half of our group wanted to go. Should I??? Then I thought back to that cake decorating teacher’s comment and decided it was worth a try.

What fun! The teacher, Amy Buchholtz, was great, everything was supplied, and the mood was upbeat. It SOLD OUT! 46 women in the event room at Lyon’s Pub, on Main Street in Watertown, WI.

paint night roomful

We painted for 2 hours with 2 five minute breaks. After break #1 mine looked like this:

paint night first break

It was amazing to be able to create all those colors from red, blue and yellow! I must admit, it was nice to be able to just mix the color needed, but I still like the challenge of finding the perfect fabric to accomplish a goal. That’s part of the fun of quilting.

We continued adding details and everyone left with a finished work. It was fascinating to see the variety that comes from each person having their own vision.

paint night done

Mine certainly isn’t great art, but for my first attempt at painting – I’m pleased, and have already hung it above the computer in my studio. I love the way it matches the calendar (for this month at least).

painting hung

Lori, Barb, Kay and I agreed that it was fun, but we still feel more comfortable with fabric and thread.

I highly recommend trying something new with friends!

And, on a personal note – I’m looking to hire someone to make a stain glass lamp to match (or come close) to one I made from a kit 35 years ago.

stain glass lamp

If you, or someone you know would be interested, please let me know. Thanks!


February 20, 2016, Design
Alternate Blocks

Mary Ann brought a lovely pattern to my Open Lab class at WCTC:

IMG_3893

She wanted to change it a bit by adding alternate blocks. I don’t currently have a quilt building program on my computer, but I did take a class in Photoshop™ recently, so I thought I’d give it a try. I opened the cover picture from the pattern in Photoshop™, and then searched the web for a few simple blocks.

Screen Shot 2015-05-01 at 9.43.45 AM


I was so pleased to figure out how to “plug” the squares into the pattern. The pictures aren’t perfect, but it was a good way to visualize. Here’s the photo I sent to Mary Ann with all 4 options (I recolored the blue “snowball” block to match the quilt better):

Mary Ann

It’s amazing how different the pattern looks in each quilt. I’m not sure which block  Mary Ann will choose, but I’ll keep you posted!

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qmnNow I’d just like to share a blessing – a number of months ago I submitted a story for Quilter’s Newsletter’s “300 Words” feature and it was published in their latest issue. The topic was quilts and kids, and I wrote about my granddaughter Hanna’s first quilt. The article is on page 23! Praise the Lord!

And speaking of grandkids – I took some fun photos of Trey recently – he’ll be 3 months old this week. Grandpa and I are watching him and Sommer full time – and loving it. So I’d like to leave you with a shot of a very content sleeper, and a smile.

Trey sleeping 5-15

Trey Gpa sm


May 17, 2015, Design
Quilt-Slash-Create

Before I get to this week’s topic, I want to share my weekend adventure. I’m writing from the Osthoff Resort in Elkhart Lake, WI. This weekend I had the delightful opportunity to teach at/attend a retreat sponsored by Ben Franklin in Oconomowoc, WI. The Osthoff is
a spectacular facility! And what a wonderful group of 89 quilters/scrapbookers. These ladies know how to do a retreat! The theme was “I Love Mustache” (my stache)”, and all weekend long the play on words included mustaches.

stashe

Our Fearless Leader - Terrie Siefert

Our Fearless Leader – Terrie Siefert

Kathy and me stashe pic

Two of the retreat teachers – (we’re not sure who they are :-)!

stashe Kim

Kim’s mustache quote: “I love my stash and my stash loves me”

 

stashe Cindy

In case you missed the last line on Cindy’s – she does not share!

This retreat was a blast. So many fun quilters/crafters, so many projects being made, and a great time was had by all!

stash scrap quilt

I taught a scrap class (in keeping with the theme of using our stache), and as an aside I shared my new favorite technique for finishing the tails of a no-end binding. I learned it on Nancy Zieman’s blog and trust me – you need to know how to do this! For the step by step demo go to: http://www.nancyzieman.com/blog/quilting-2/how-to-sew-quilt-binding-2/.

Now for my “topic of the week”:

A number of years ago I read an article about cutting identical portions out of two quilts, and swapping them. This intrigued me, so I decided to try it. I had been given a bag of leftover pieced squares in an art quilt challenge. I decided to piece them into a small square quilt. I then cut a piece of a beautiful hand-dyed fabric the same size. I layered both pieces separately, and quilted them identically. Once they were squared up, I stacked them and rotary cut a circle through both quilts. After separating the quilts, I swapped out the circles and ziz-zagged them into their new “home”. That was fun, so I stacked them and made another cut. This continued until it felt done, and I was quite pleased with the results!

Marq grab bag challenge

A few years went by and I got the urge to play with this technique again – with very different fabrics!

Quilt, Slash, Create 2

Well, it was kind of addicting.

Quilt,Slash, Create 2

The fun part was that I put interesting pieces on the backs, and they ended up being reversible.

qsc geese back

qsc brown back

It takes a bit of courage to cut up a quilted quilt, but it can be quite entertaining. If you’re feeling adventurous, but you’re not sure about jumping in on your own, I’ll be teaching a class on this adventurous technique called “Quilt, Slash, Create!” at Waukesha County Technical College on Friday, May 1st. You can register at wctc.edu, or call the college at (262)691-5566.


April 12, 2015, Design
A Student’s Quilts

After a wonderful trip to Philadelphia (to watch the fireworks on the Delaware River with a group of my cousins!), Mike and I returned home with enough time for me to get a good night’s sleep, repack and head up to Door County for a teaching engagement with a lovely guild named the Trillium Quilters. A bunch of us had a lot of fun on Thursday playing with color, fabric and design in my “Where Do I Start With Fiber Art” class. Whenever I teach this workshop I invite students to send me pictures of the projects they create with the techniques.

A few month’s ago I taught this same class for a guild in Iowa City. One of the quilters emailed me afterwards – with pictures!!! What a joy for me as a teacher :-). Here’s what she said:

“Chris, I’m Karen Miller (aka Anastasia) from your workshop at the Old Capital Quilter’s guild in Iowa City.  I have been playing with the parallelism technique you taught us.  I have been having so much fun with it.  Several years ago at one of my small quilt groups we played with the paint sticks and stamping on black fabrics.  I had three pieces when I finished.  I brought them home and laid them on a piece of rust batik that I had.  I liked the combination but couldn’t figure out what to do with them.  After I had your class I decided I was going to use those black painted fabrics using your technique.  What fun!!!!
 
I am sending you pictures.  I have added teal batik and some black and tan strip fabric from my stash.  I also did beading, but it doesn’t show up very well in the picture.  I will find a place in my home to hang these.  The tape on the finger worked really well when I was doing the beading.  The first and the third pictures are my favorite.  I am anxious to show them at the next guild meeting.
 
Thanks again for coming to Iowa City.  Karen”
And here’s the photos she sent to me:

Karen-FA1 Karen-FA2 Karen-FA3What a great way for Karen to use the surface design fabric she had created with Paint Stiks! Over the years I’ve played with a number of different techniques to add surface design to fabric. They haven’t always turned out great, but I kept them – of course. maybe I just need to cut them up and use them in something new. Perhaps it’s time for me to dig into that pile of opportunities and play!

Do you have a pile of your own surface design fabrics that are calling to you right now?


July 13, 2014, Design Uncategorized
Book Cover Opinions

A few posts back I asked for your help with a name for the book I’m currently working on. I recieved over 25 suggestions and really enjoyed reading them and contemplating my choice. Thank you to everyone who responded.

What I decided I wanted to get across on the cover was that this is a book for the traditional quilter who is interested in trying fiber art, but doesn’t think he/she can. The title that best got that across was suggested by Judy Rosynek – “How Do I Start With Fiber Art”! Judy is a regular in my Thursday afternoon Open Labs and a very talented quilter.

There is also a second place winner because I felt a sub-title would be helpful and that idea came from Barb Mattheis – “Playing With Color, Fabric and Design” (plus I added “Beads”).

Thanks so much Judy and Barb! When the book is finally in print they will each receive a signed copy :-)!

So now I need you all again. My daughter-in-law, Betsy, has been playing with pictures of some of my quilts to come up with a cover and we have it narrowed down to two. The first uses one of my quilts entitled “Concentricities”. It is colorful, artsy and I think it’s quite appealing.

Screen Shot 2013-08-16 at 10.23.31 AM

The second option adds a bit of humor by using a quilt I made for a challenge entitled “Self Portrait of the Artist as an Animal”. It is called “Otterly Immersed in Art Quilts” and I portrayed myself as an otter, relaxing in the tub and dreaming of my next fiber art adventure.

Where Do I Start With Fiber ArtSo, if you are a traditional quilter (or even if you’re not, but you have an opinion) and you are apprehensive about trying fiber art, which cover would entice you to look at this book?

Please click on “leave a comment” at the end of this post and send me your response along with any other thoughts you’d like to share. Thanks in advance for your help!

 

 


August 17, 2013, Design
Floor Quilts

A few weeks ago I posted about some of the amazing tile floors we saw in Italy and what wonderful quilt patterns could be found there. Two quilters wrote back on the subject. Lois Jarvis, a very talented quilter, quilting teacher, and  dear friend from Madison, WI, sent the following pictures of floors she saw on a trip to Venice (we, sadly, didn’t get that far north).

I found this floor very appealing and a much easier pattern than some of the floors I photographed. I can just see beautiful batiks alternating with the checkerboard blocks.

The 3 dimensional qualities of this one are intriguing.

If one could get the values right in this next one the effect would be stunning!

You can learn about Lois on her website: http://www.loisjarvisquilts.com/.

Terri Mattingly sent this picture of a quilt from Norah McMeeking‘s book “Bella, Bella Quilts”:

Terri then wrote me with this message and picture:

“Hi Chris, This is my own design.   This was inspired by an article in one of the quilting magazines I was getting.  I think Norah McMeeking was the subject of the article.  I studied pictures in the magazine and on websites and created this. Terri Mattingly”

Doesn’t this just make you want to do a “floor quilt”? I’ve had a few students in my Open Labs use patterns from Norah’s book also. They are rather labor intensive, but so beautiful. Thank you Lois and Terri!

And a HAPPY 60TH BIRTHDAY TO YOU LOIS!

 


December 9, 2012, Design Inspiration
Parallelisms in England

 

One of my favorite workshops to teach is called Parallelisms. The above quilt is entitled “Joy” and it’s just a small sample of this fun technique. Parallelisms is an art quilt class for traditional quilters who would like to try creating a piece of fiber art, but aren’t sure they can. My answer is absolutely “yes” and I’ve had a lot of fun proving it. A few years ago I taught this class at the AQS show in Paducah and one of my students, Doreen Davis, had traveled all the way from England for the show (not just to take my class :-)). After returning home she emailed me to ask if she could teach my technique to her quilting friends and I was honored to be asked. She recently sent me pictures of a class with this message:

“Hi Chris, We had a wonderful day yesterday at the class, the ladies had the most fab time, they were all a bit hesitant at first cos I think they were all used to being told you must do it this way and that but after I had stressed onto them that this is a fun workshop and not to be stressed over, they all let their hair down and thoroughly enjoyed every minute as I hope you can tell.”

Doreen procured permission for me to share a few photos on the blog, so here they are. First a few of Doreen’s quilts (I’m so impressed that she has had such fun with the technique!):

And now WIP’s (works in progress) by Linda, Carol, Ruth, Eve and Liz:

It certainly looks like they were having a bit of fun. Thanks ladies!

I will be teaching Parallelisms for Quilter’s Plus quilt guild in Illinois on August 30th. If you think your guild would be interested in a “let your hair down” kind of art quilt class, please let me know!


July 22, 2012, Design Travel
Creativity Showcase

As I’ve stated before, I love all aspects of quilting. From the antique bed covers that kept our ancestors warm, to traditional versions of those designs right up to modern or artsy projects, I’m always on the lookout for new and fun ideas in the quilt world.

A few months ago I received an interesting email from Joanne Grimes. She is a self taught quilter with a very unique approach to quiltmaking. She purchases her fabric at thrift stores (this includes all sorts of garments and the fiber content is unimportant). She then creates her own designs from the inside out, using her own common sense, color sense and piecing techniques. Here are two of her quilts:

I think the intricacy of her designs is truly amazing and I told her so. She then sent me a picture of her most recent work in progress:

 Here’s what she said about it:

“I just finished the piecing part. I stopped counting pieces after the total of the stars went over a 1000 pieces.Thrift store for the fabric which includes a Packer t-shirt, some hospital scrubs, skirts, shorts,  shirts, pants and other t-shirts, but I did have the colors mostly decided before I went shopping.”

AMAZING! Atta girl Joanne. Keep innovating and thanks for the pictures.

I also want to share a quilt begun by Barb Setzer in a recent Compass Capers class I taught at Ben Franklin in Oconomowoc. She took the round class project to a whole new level and just sent me a picture of her compass creation. I so enjoy sharing what others are doing with my technique :-):

She never put the 4 quarters of that compass together, but instead she made 4 additional oval compasses and used the original quarters at the sides. Very creative! The class was last month and it’s quilted and bound! Quite impressive.

Thanks Barb and Joanne!

PS you may email Joanne at: mgrimes@new.rr.com


And the Capers Continue

I recently received an email from Cindy Frese and here’s what she had to say:

“Hi Chris, I was searching for patterns to piece flowers for the border of a quilt I’m currently working on. I couldn’t quite find what I was looking for so I used your folding method from Compass Capers to create what I wanted. It worked great for all of them including the tulips. Thought I’d let you see how they turned out. Thanks, Cindy”.

Here’s the picture of her blocks:

My response to her email was: “WOW”! It is such a thrill for me as  a teacher to see students take something from my class and make it truly their own.

I asked her for a few more pictures to see what she was doing with the blocks. Within a day she had the blocks on the quilt and sent the pictures my way, saying that this is a queen size quilt and the blocks were meant to anchor each corner of the quilt because they looked a little plain. Here’s the whole quilt top:

And a close up of a corner:

A very clever border idea!

Another example of this was sent my way a few months ago by Michelle Costen.

This is a very creative piece. What a blessing it is to me to know that I played a part in these wonderful quilts. Praise the Lord – and thanks so much Cindy and Michelle.

When Wendy Rieves and I made our quilt, “Welcoming the Son Into Our Garden”, for the National Quilt Museum’s New Quilts From an Old Favorite contest, I wanted to piece a variety of “sunflowers” into the background to compliment her wonderful raw edge flowers. Some of the background “sunflowers” were made like traditional Dresden Plates, but others were compass variations – including the Sun!

If you have made a unique compass using my technique, please let me know…or better yet – email me a picture please :-).

If you would like to learn how to draft your own compass blocks, you may purchase my book, Compass Capers, by clicking on it in the sidebar at the right or email me at clkquilt@gmail.com.

 

 


June 3, 2012, Design Piecing
My View Quilt

Greetings from Paducah! Wendy and I arrived this evening and we’ll be helping to  hang the show tomorrow. God is good :-)!

I decided I needed to do a bit of follow up on my window view challenge. I haven’t received any pictures of quilts from those who sent me view pictures, but I did get my snowman quilt done. We haven’t had a flake of snow since 3 days after this picture was taken.

So, I decided I’d better share it now before summer is upon us.

I decided to try a number of new techniques. To begin with I chose a vintage damask napkin for the background with the idea of creating the scene as a wholecloth on it.

Step 1 – I reversed the image on the computer and then enlarged it on the computer using the instructions in my May 23rd post.

Step 2 – I ironed Decorbond ™ stabilizer to the back of the napkin and pinned the enlarged picture to the center of the stabilizer.

Step 3 – On the paper pattern side I free motion stitched around all the trees, the snowman and the snow drifts using bobbin thread to match each area.

Step 4 – I turned to the napkin side and colored in the trees and shadows with watercolor pencils. Then I took a damp q-tip and blended the colors.

Step 5 – I thread painted everything from the napkin side (this is how the paper side looked after the thread painting).

Step 6 – I removed all the paper and layered the napkin with batting and backing.

Step 7 – I quilted around the main objects and the border (frame of the picture) and then bound the edges.

Step 8 – I couched yarn over the picture frame and inside the binding

and Voila! A fun experiment and a unique quilt!

Stay tuned – next week I’ll bring you the inside scoop on Paducah!


April 22, 2012, Challenges Design
Simply Dynamic

Here’s an easy way to have a little design fun. Choose a simple 6″ block that has a strong diagonal, and make it in 2 high contrast fabrics. The possibilities will be even greater if you make positive and negative versions of the block. These are the 2 blocks I started with:

 
I made 24 blocks – 12 light and 12 dark.
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Now the fun begins. Let’s start with the blocks set side by side and in the same orientation. I’ve put all the darker blocks in the arrangement on the left and all the lighter ones on the right.
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Sweet, but not very exciting. Let’s try alternating the dark and light blocks while still keeping them in the same orientation:
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Now we’re getting somewhere….but what if we divided the darks and lights up once again and butted the 2 halves together….while turning every other block?
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Now let’s go a bit crazy!
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At this point I think I need to double the number of blocks and try playing a little more with the symmetry:
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That’s my favorite so far! Here are a few more I came up with:
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Sew many options!
To help in my decision making I took a picture each time I tried something new and then pasted them onto a page on my computer screen to compare them all and glean out the best (I didn’t show the klinkers :-). That’s where I got the idea for this post.
Any block with a strong diagonal can be played with in a similar fashion. Have you used similar blocks in a unique set? If so, please send pictures!

February 26, 2012, Design Piecing