Showing posts with label Words. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Words. Show all posts

Wednesday, September 28, 2016


Knock knock

Who's there?


Olive who?

Thank you!

I love you too!

For the non-English speakers (or you know, those who may not remember), "olive who?" sounds like "I love you." So you have just baited the other person into confessing their love! I remember my little sister telling this joke with glee when she was about five years old.

So, this is my solution for Month 2 of the Gwennie-Inspired Medallion quilt along. The theme is "Childhood," and I think a silly riddle checks that box. I was able to continue my "olive" theme from the first month. Improv letters like this are not uncommon in Gwen Marston's quilts either. And, I'm migrating to mostly solid fabrics, which is another thing many of Gwen's quilts do.

The theme for Month 3 is "Log Cabin," and you can see that foreshadowed in the way I'm attaching the borders:

And, since childhood was a long time ago, I did go ahead and use hourglasses in the corners as well.

So, I'm very happy with it now!

Remember these bear claws that I made and rejected for round 2?

This was a story about going camping and seeing a mother and baby bear running through the campground one night. Childhood memory + baby bear = twice as good, or so I first thought. But I've realized the problem was simply that the colours were too dark, too soon.

Now I know that they aren't bear claws at all. They are stars.

Months 3 & 4, log cabins and stars, coming soon! In the meantime, check out the other improv quilters at the Ad Hoc Improv Quilters' monthly link up, right here.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Sunny and Derivative

Ok, I think my summer break has been long enough. I am pitying the Modern Quilt Guild, who are in a storm of controversy over a recent post about copyright and derivative work. (Edit Sept 2016: The post has been removed now. You can read their new approach here. There is also a link there to the original post.) I know I had more than one heated discussion about copyright when I did the website for my quilt guild. The fact is that current copyright law is out of date, and quilters are not the only ones who think so. This 2013 statement by the US Register of Copyrights sums up well the frustration people are feeling. This is my favourite line:
...if one needs an army of lawyers to understand the basic precepts of the law, then it is time for a new law.
And if you don't think that the current laws are bad for artists, let me remind you of this injustice...

...which you can read about here, if you don't already know it.

An organization like the MCG (or any guild), has to follow the law whether they like it or not. But, I do think MCG's new, hard line refusal to consider "derivative" works for judging at their shows is out of tune with the current understanding of how artistic production really happens.

We all stand on the shoulders of the ones who came before us. As an example, let's consider my (still unfinished) "Sunshine" quilt, which has made a little progress since my last post in June.

Here, and at the top, are a couple of the smaller 9" and 6" churn dash blocks. This time I used Gwen Marston's "liberated" recutting technique to give each unit its own character. On the larger blocks I had used Sujata Shah's curved piecing techniques...

...but honestly it was a lot of work and I thought the curves would get lost in the smaller units anyway.

As far as I know, it was my idea to apply Sujata and Gwen's techniques to a compound block like the churn dash. It's not earthshaking, just a small, incremental expansion on the earlier idea. Since my first post in February, I've noticed that Missouri Star now has a tutorial for a wonky churn dash quilt too. Did they see mine? I don't know. But, their quilt is pretty cute too.

Mine, of course, has the added enhancement of blocks in many sizes. I'm putting them together in sections like this:

This is not a new idea either. My inspiration was the quilt Bohemian Charm...

by Sarah Maxwell and Dolores Smith of Homestead Hearth, and found in my much cherished Sew Scrappy, Vol. 2 from Better Homes and Gardens. The block sizes in this quilt were weird -- 4" and 10" to start -- so a redesign was always on the cards for this one. They also grouped the blocks into rectangular sections, but filled the gaps with squares.

My first plan was to use squares to fill in the gaps too, but after I made the words...

...I realized I could use up those yellow strings I made by mistake, and that would be better all around. So now those strings are more "happy accident" than mistake!

I used Bonnie Hunter's string piecing technique:

The strings are chain pieced onto papers cut to size. I didn't include the seam allowances on the paper, but next time I will, because it would be easier to judge the size that way. They are trimmed when I'm ready to assemble the sections.

Oh, and for those words, I didn't "figure out the math," and I've never read instructions on how to make letters either. I just took yellow and white strips and put them together by eye, same as some people can play music by ear. But the idea to piece letters and words definitely came from photos online.

So, it could be said that this quilt is derived from ideas by Sarah Maxwell, Dolores Smith, Sujata Shah, Gwen Marston, Bonnie Hunter, and probably others too. But I wouldn't expect any of them to knock on my door and say "Hey, I own your quilt. Stop putting pictures of it online." They all had their own sources of inspiration.

I'm not saying this could be an award-winning quilt that the Modern Quilt Guild would refuse to hang in their show. I'm asking you to look at all the meaning and value inherent in the combined influences of the quilts that inspired even this trivial jumble of fabric, and to say that we shouldn't turn our backs on that. Truthfully, I don't think it's possible, but I think it would be a huge loss to try.

Current copyright laws may not accept that art evolves, and the student can outperform the master, but there is nothing stopping quilters from recognizing and celebrating their place in the ongoing discourse of quiltmaking. Eventually, the laws will catch up.

And if you are not now completely exhausted, check out the other blogs at the Ad Hoc Improv Quilters link up, right here!

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Improv Wrap Up

 and Summer Break! 

So, this is my last post until after Labour Day (September 5). After my summer blogging vacation last year, I came back full of inspiration and enthusiasm, and I am looking forward to the same effect again this year. Some quality, unplugged time now will be the best way for me to keep things fresh long term.

Last year I made a bunch of plans for what I was going to do over the summer, and I did hardly any of them! So I'm not going to try that again. I also had a bunch of plans for what I was going to do in September (mainly quilting), and in less than 24 hours after my return that all went out the window when I read about Ann and Kaja's new Ad Hoc Improv Quilters link up. So it's appropriate that my last post of the school year should be about improv -- my second Modern Utility Quilt, "Sunshine," for AHIQ, and my Gwennie Medallion.

I'm ending where I started, with improv letters and words:

I have to say, they do look better than my first efforts! I had cut that yellow fabric into random strips for a string quilt, and regretted it soon after. So this is a much happier plan. I was just able to eke out both words from the strips I had. I made the smaller letters first, and then the more complicated letters got larger. They have finished at about 4" (10 cm) high.

I hoped to finish all the churn dash blocks by now...

...but my wrist had other ideas. There is a lot of trimming with the rotary cutter on these improv blocks and especially on the improv letters, so I am now on enforced rest again.

Have you noticed anything unusual about these blocks yet?

The solid white backgrounds are deliberately misleading.


Because they are different sizes:

So far I've made them in 15", 12", and 9" sizes, and the 6" ones were in progress when my wrist packed it in. So close! Hopefully it will all be together by the fall. (And maybe quilted, too, although I am trying not to make plans!)

Although I am now the proud owner of two books on Liberated Quiltmaking by Gwen Marston... Gwennie Medallion is another casualty of my sore wrist, so I will punt on that too until the fall. Right at the beginning of the month I made a bunch of blocks for the first border of the medallion quilt along...

...but they don't match my "olive" theme. (You can see I am still on this "blocks in different sizes" kick.) Since I started out with olives, I think I want to keep them going. The theme for the first border is supposed to be "childhood," which is a challenging theme to align with "olives." These mama and baby bear blocks are just headed in the wrong direction.

My best thought right now is to do something with hourglass blocks, in mostly the same fabrics as above, because childhood was a long time ago! You see my problem. Over the summer I will check what the themes for the next rounds will be, and I expect that it will all come together by the end.

AHIQ has opened up a whole new world of improv quilting, which has empowered me to take on this Gwen Marston-inspired project as well. At a minimum, it's made me a lot more relaxed about perfect lines and corners, even on traditional projects. So that has speeded things up a little! But most of all, I find myself thinking that a project feels too rigid when everything is exactly perfect. I've noticed that the less perfect projects seem to make a better emotional connection with the viewer, and for me, that is the highest goal of any art or craft. I'm interested to see where things go next!

In the meantime, check out all the other quilters at AHIQ here, and the brave Gwennie Medallion makers on July 1 here, have a great couple of months, and I'll see you in September!

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Letters, Leaders & Enders

Here's a shot of our maples in the late day sun last week. It was windy, which is why it's a little blurry. This week it's been either sunny and windy, or dark and rainy, so this is the best I've been able to do. This year their colour has been the best ever, which I think is partly due to the dry summer. But mainly I think it's because they are getting a lot more light since we cut down the ash trees that were damaged in the 2013 ice storm.

The moon was up early too:

Yesterday it was really dark all day, so I was happy to be inside and working on my next batch of improv letters:

I was going to put them together today, but here I am blogging instead, so it may not happen!

I also decided this week to see if I can add a leaders & enders project into the mix. Bonnie Hunter has a good description of the process here. I've avoided an L&E project up until now, because I didn't want to sacrifice the quality of my main piece by being distracted by a second project. But with all the short seams in this project (and also in My Country House), I've been using up a lot of thread anchors, so I thought I would try it.

For about an hour I wondered which new project I could start that would be appropriate, until I remembered my hourglass quilt! I ran out of steam on this project in early 2014, because it is super boring. But, boring is perfect for an L&E project, because I don't want to have to think about it at all.

I still need at least 300 more hourglasses, and all the fabrics are already cut and marked. I set up the rest of my lights and darks, right sides together, and piled them up:

I don't know how many are in there, but it is 4.5" tall!

So, can I improv and sew leaders and enders at the same time? Yes! In fact, with all the small fiddly seams on these letters, it was a relief to put in an hourglass set and just rip down the middle of that. Somehow it feels more balanced. At the end of the day I had the first two seams done...

...on 23 hourglass sets (which will be 46 hourglass blocks). It feels really good to get that project moving again. Hopefully this will be a painless way to eat up a lot of the preliminary work on this project.

I admit I've been having one of those "what was I thinking?" moments, about my decision to make this a queen-size quilt. Sure, the hourglasses are easy to make, but I really didn't think much about how long it would take to sew them all together as well. Now I'm starting to think about that too! Hopefully I can do at least some of that in L&E fashion as well. I'll keep you posted!

Thursday, October 22, 2015

A Few Words

Following on from last time, I've managed to join up my first batch of letters into words:

The missing first word is "believe," which will be the next thing to sew. This is post #300 today, and the quote is from the Bob Ross Remix video that I shared in post #100. There is plenty of inspiration in that video, so yes, this is just the beginning!

Now that I'm starting to understand the strategies for making the letters and joining them up, it's moving along pretty quickly.

Last time I was worried about the legibility of the c's, u's and i's,

which came from these fabrics.

When I looked at them again I decided that there wasn't enough contrast in the two c's and one i, so I made new ones. Plus, I thought the c's should be bigger to go with those large a's:

The old c's are on the left there, and the new c is sewn in.

It was unplanned, but lucky, that I used the same background fabric for many of the letters that went together in the same word, like the h, a, and n. I think it is easier to read, so I'll remember it for the rest of the quilt. The first "happy accident" of many, hopefully!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Starting to Improv

In early September I was full of enthusiasm for Ann and Kaja's new Improv Quilting link up. I knew immediately that I wanted to make one of those improv word quilts, and the whole concept came together quickly. But then I didn't think I would have time for it, so I pushed it to the back of my mind.

This week I had scheduled the completion of that star quilt from last week, which I believe is now my oldest UFO, but I just couldn't face it. I pulled out my scrap box instead and decided today I would do something totally new. With my oldest fabrics!

I had no idea what was in the box. A few years ago I planned to keep neat, pre-cut 2.5" strips, hence the label. But I gave up on that eventually. So it was a little exciting to open the box and see what was in there!

Plus, I recently pulled all the leftover fabrics from Circa 1998 (when I was considering making it larger!). So, I'm going to supplement with them, too.

There are a few books out there on how to sew improv letters and words, but I figured I could just wing it. I chose a light green/dark green colour scheme, which I hoped would be forgiving, and a less important part of the quilt to practice on.

"t" seemed like a straightforward letter to start with. I just jumped in, cut some strips and sewed them up!

In general, I kept the thickness of the letters to around 1/4" to 3/8". I want to keep the whole thing wall-sized, and there will be a lot to fit in! As I progressed I realized that these first t's are a little large, but they will be easy to cut down.

My only plan was to start with the easy letters and progress to the trickier ones. "o" seemed like a good letter to do next, and these circular patterns felt appropriate.

I discovered that a log cabin style of strip piecing works well for making letters. It's the same technique that I used here for my snowman quilt, only these strips are narrower at around 3/4".

I cut almost everything with the rotary cutter, because it's easier, and a ruler, because I want to keep my fingers! But I didn't worry about perfectly even cuts.

I may or may not round off the o's later. I'll see how it looks as I progress.

"c," "u" and "i" are also all pretty straightforward. I'm not so sure about these fabrics, though! We'll see how they look when they are sewn in.

"h" and "n" are almost the same shape. I used the nearly solid dark green (leftover binding strips)...

...for the tiny triangles that round off the arcs. They had to be well defined, so the solid was safer than a print there.

With just "d" and "a" left, I forgot about the camera and focused on the construction. No music on today! It went pretty smoothly, and I only needed the seam ripper once (on an "a").
I was determined to get at least one word done. Ta da!

Except "y," all the remaining letters are done, so hopefully I can put them together next time. It will be interesting to see how big it is. I really have no idea!

I knew that I would like improv sewing, and I do. I was afraid that I might never go back to regular sewing, but I don't think I'm in danger of that...yet.
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