Modern Quilt Perspectives {book review}

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It’s finally here, the book that Thomas told me he would someday write way back when we first met at Quilt Market. Houston in 2011, right, Thomas?

I’d already fallen for his first collection, Pear Tree, and its lovely muted colors (the same just-off hues that would sucker me into every TK collection).  We’d talked online thanks to my work for FabShop News magazine and I was both awed and honored when he went out of his way to talk to me in the wide aisles of Market. He told me his ideas for a book and I knew this guy was different.

Spend five minutes talking to Thomas and you’ll be awed by his vast knowledge and ability to pull info, facts and connections seemingly out of thin air. I like to think the guy is a genius. He chalks it up to a lot of schooling. I’ll agree to something in the middle.

Thomas’ skill at drawing connections and thinking beyond the “Isn’t that pretty?” that infiltrates the fabric world continues to amaze and inspire me. And it is in that unique way that Modern Quilt Perspectives unfolds.

Essays. Quilt patterns. Sidebars of wisdom. It’s a remarkable book and I can’t recommend it enough.

In particular I want to share about the Excess quilt. No, I didn’t have anything to do with it (though I did make an ‘I’ for the Identity quilt!).  It’s just one that symbolizes all that this book does.

Here, take a look:
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Lovely, right? It is an incredibly long quilt (13 feet, in fact!) and when I was flipping through the book for the first time, it caught my eye with its size and the preponderance of reds and dashes of green and blue. It’s scrappy the way scrappy ought to be, I thought.

It wasn’t until I stopped to actually read the accompanying essay, that I understood its importance as a piece of art, an unspoken message.

And that’s something that Thomas never  forgets or looks past. Quilts are art. They can be powerful, awe-inspiring, meditative and breathtaking. This quilt took my breath away.

In Excess, there are 1,600 of those little 2-1/2″ blocks. It’s not a random number, something picked out of the air or decided on when the quilt got to the right size. No, that number was chosen for a reason.

Every year, approximately 1,600 women and men are killed in acts of domestic violence in the United States, victimized by their partners and spouses. … Excess is a memorial to this overwhelming reality, a visualization of the forest of loss. Each of the 1,600 squares in the quilt represents a death, with each red or orange stripe a woman killed, and each blue or green one a man.

Now go look at that quilt again and meditate on those numbers, that issue.

Then go read how Lisa quilted it with the text from the United States’ Violence Against Women Act.

This is what makes Modern Quilt Perspectives more than just a quilting book. There is substance and depth and meaning, so much meaning, to all of it. Thank you, Thomas, for reminding me (us?) of the import of it all.

. . . . . . . . . . . . .

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I decided I  would make the pattern myself (this is a quilting book after all), though not in the numbers that Excess originally calls for. Just a few dozen in my favorite greys. I haven’t decided how big I’ll make it, or quite what I’ll do with it when I have pieced it together. But I can tell you that the quilts in Modern Quilt Perspectives are not only powerful art, but that they are well-written patterns as well.

 

So get to it–go get the book, read it, learn from it and venture onward. I can promise you this: it will change the way you look at quilts and the messages they can send.

Thank you, Thomas, for an amazing book, jaw-dropping quilts and for being you.

Love amazes me

If you know me, you know I’ve been lacking in the “partner who adores me” category for most of my life. Nearly fifteen years since my divorce has left me…fine, I’ll admit it, slightly bitter about the whole idea of love.

But this man makes me believe that there are couples who will really, truly, deeply love each other.

This kind of love amazes me and, to be honest, made me sob tears of sadness and joy.

I got a new toy, er, tool!

I’ve often ogled others’ Go Cutters, awed by how fast and easy and perfect they are. And recently I even got to use one when Luke let me borrow his to work on one of his designs. That’s when I decided I really really needed one myself. So I got one.

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The dies will arrive tomorrow, then I’ll get cranking on a bigger version of this beauty:

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I’ve got another three times this size due very soon and I can’t wait to see it hanging.

Back at it for another year

In many ways, this feels like a year that wasn’t. The last 18 months have been a whirlwind of changes and adjustments, some great (a fabulous job with a wonderful fabric company) and some not-so-great (sunk $6k into what should have been a reliable car, but ended up with car payments on a new one instead).

Last January, before much of the craziness started, I set all sorts of goals for myself, things I wanted to start, finish or some combination of the two. But as life tends to do, it gets in the way of all my grand plans. And so while I was sure I was going to be able to finish all the quilting on Grandma’s quilt in 2013, I only managed to finish eight blocks before it got lost to the chaos of moving to Cali.  Eight. [hanging head in shame] Sorry, Grandma.

But I’m back at it!

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I’m setting the bar low this year and am promising to finish just one block a week. Of course, it will end up taking me two and a half years to finish it this way (there are 143 of those little blocks!), but at least it’s progress. And who knows, maybe there will be weeks when I can get two or three or five done.

So while I feel like I’ve let Grandma down somehow by not finishing, I just have to remember that the darn thing sat in a box at my mom’s house for 40 years before this. Sheesh.

And there you have it, my one New Year’s resolution for 2014 (and probably 2015, too!). I will complete one block a week until it ‘s finished. And then I’ll have to decide who gets it.

Do you make long-term resolutions? Do you stick to it?

Christmas in SoCal

This was a weird Christmas for us: the first when our trio wasn’t together and our first as a duo in Southern California. So we did something new and different.

I’m lucky enough to have my sister live just down the street, so on Christmas Eve, we went to her (bigger and nicer) home and made goodies together. I used my trusty old Good Housekeeping cookbook for the ginger snaps and the recipe Grandma Coates used every Christmas to make butterhorns. 20131227-194426.jpg

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12 Days of Color

It’s not perfect, but I like it anyway. 20131218-134420.jpg

My friend, Scott, of Blue Nickel Studios is counting down the 12 Days of Color and showcasing a different block each day as he counts down. He’s using a bunch of the Konas for the blocks, but I decided to try out Day Four’s design (by the awesome and amazing Katy Jones) in some batiks I had on-hand. Turns out, I kinda like it.

You might notice, it’s not exactly a square like it’s supposed to be. I decided I wanted it to just butt up to all the edges and I’m gonna make it into something else…a pillow? the side of a bag? Any other fabulous ideas out there?

Winners!

I bet you thought I forgot all about the giveaways, didn’t you? But it’s not true!

20131209-094250.jpgI remembered, I just haven’t had much time to get to actually posting thanks to a bout of the icks that have hit our little household. With people sick at my work and at her school, it was bound to get to us and this weekend it knocked the daughter for a loop and I got to play nursemaid.

All that to say, sorry, I’ve been distracted by life.

So without further ado, the winner of the fat quarter bundle for Sew,Mama,Sew’s Giveaway Day is Janet  and the winner of Megan Dougherty’s new book, “Quilting Isn’t Funny,” is Joyce!

Congrats to you both and look for an email from me so I can get those out to you right away!

 

Quilting Isn’t Funny, but I sure am laughing

Bias: The irrational inclination to believe that holding down a job or cooking some food for once is a more productive use of time than quilting.

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Are you familiar with The Bitchy Stitcher? Megan Dougherty is the mastermind behind the blog that takes the idea of a stitch-n-bitch to a whole new level and she cracks me up.

I’ve been enjoying her sarcastic little rants for some time now, but now that I’ve read her new book, Quilting Isn’t Funny, I realized I’d missed out on some real gems.

Like everyone else on this book’s blog tour, I’ve snickered and snorted my way through it, publicly embarrassing myself and left unable to explain why it’s funny. You have to be a quilter to understand why I choked on my mocha when I read:

…But like all things of this world, fabric and tools and machines are impermanent and imperfect, and let’s face it, the only person who is going to bitch about my seams not aligning is that snotty lady from the quilt guild, and she can suck it.

This is what I love about Quilting Isn’t Funny. You’re just reading along, nodding “impermanent and imperfect” yeah, totally;  “that snotty lady from the quilt guild” haha, I know exactly who she could be talking about  and then bam, Megan hits you with her snark. “She can suck it” and I bust out an exhale of laughter.

And can I explain to my daughter why that’s funny… the imperfection, the snotty lady, the quilt police and the pointed dismissal of all criticism? No. I’m left laughing to myself in the kitchen while my daughter does homework and throws awkward glances at me.

Thanks for that, Megan.

Quilting Isn’t Funny is available now in softback on ebook versions. Whatever suits your fancy. Personally, I loved the electronic version, tucked neatly into the Kindle app on my phone,  but you (or the loved ones you buy it for) may very well love the paper version.

Megan also offers up some fabulous pins with her witty little phrases that you should probably check out, too. My favorite is “Don’t make me cut you.” And that’s because of Miss Bon Qui Qui:


I could watch that another fifty times and still LMAO every single time.

And I’m pretty sure the same can be said for Quilting Isn’t Funny. It’s just good stuff. Buy yourself a copy and pick up an extra for your quilting pals.

Want to win a signed copy? Leave a comment and tell me something funny. Anything goes, but if it’s quilting/sewing/fabric related, I’ll throw in an extra entry for you.

Pillow-making and Giveaway Day

Okay, okay, so I know it’s just a slightly-tapered-at-the-corners square, but I’m pretty excited about this adorable little pillow I managed to whip up last night with some superhero fabric and grey linen. I’m thinking about offering them in the Etsy shop. I was selling more quilts for a while, then got lazy busy and haven’t had the time to restock. Maybe pillows would be a good start? I love this Superkids fabric from Ann Kelle enough that I didn’t even do anything special to it. Just some curved corners, French seams and a linen back–bam, a new pillow.

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Birthday quilt–finished!

20131203-155349.jpgShe didn’t want me to show off a picture of her, so this is as close at it gets: my daughter holding up her birthday quilt. She did let me take a photo of her with it, though, which is a minor miracle in itself. I just can’t show it off publicly and that’s okay.

I made this using Aria Lane’s Concerto pattern and I have to say it was so quick and easy that it almost seemed like cheating. The pattern itself calls for four solids, but I decided to mix this up with a little fabric for the Sierra collection by Bren Talavera and some Kona Snow, Pomegranate, Chartreuse and Caribbean.

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I was able to put it together by using strips for the Snow rather than peicing blocks. It worked out fine, required less sewing and when it was all quilted, it didn’t make any difference (imho) in how it looked.

I sent this to Nancy Stovall of Just Quilting PDX, one of my favorite peopl and an amazing longarm quilter. She’s been an integral part of the Portland Modern Quilt Guild and I was thrilled when she said she’d quilt it up for me. The only thing I asked for was a bit of girly, but not overboard and to hide some hearts in there somewhere to remind me daughter how much I love her. And that she did. 20131203-155712.jpg

It took me a week to stitch the binding on, but at last I tied off those last stitches, washed it and it got all crinkled and lovely. Isn’t it beautiful?! I really love how washing gives it a really texture, showing off all of Nancy‘s awesome quilting.

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Pattern Name: Concerto from Aria Lane
Time Required: 10 hours to piece the front + quilting
Rating: Beginner (start with the smaller size if you’re a newbie)
Would I Make It Again?: Yes!
What I Changed: I cut strips instead of squares for the Kona and used a mix of solids and prints, rather than only solids.