Sunday, August 23, 2009

Inchies: A teeny tiny world of immense possibilities!

Does Nadine Ruggles need an intervention?
I think Inchies have taken over her life! But that's a good thing -- at least for us.
Her new book Inchie Quilts published by AQS Publishing can cause addiction -- so read with caution. Just kidding. It certainly sparks the imagination for big ideas in tiny tiny spaces.
Back in the day the 'in thing' for frugal and imaginative quilters resulted in scrap quilts entirely pieced in one-inch squares. My husband's grandmother was a master at these perfectly pieced wonders. She would be the first one to examine Nadine's twist on the use of that little square.
Nadine's Elemental Changes--Color Play (pictured above) reflects a similar romance with that little square. But as Nadine explains -- each Inchie is complete in itself. Yep, each little square on this quilt is actually one finished Inchie. I'm fascinated with her fascination with Inchies! -- Dawn

Note: Elemental Changes--Color Play was made for the New Quilts from an Old Favorite Contest sponsored by the National Quilt Museum, and is published in the book Burgoyne Surrounded -- New Quilts from an Old Favorite. More info about the contest here.

WIN A FREE COPY OF NADINE'S BOOK! What will you use to create a world on your Inchies? Get creative and tell me what kind of materials you’ll use to create a dimensional story on your Inchies, and be entered to win your own copy of Inchie Quilts! (One winner will be chosen; deadline to enter is Aug. 30, 2009.)

Have you seen Inchies?
Guest Blog by Nadine Ruggles in her own words.

Fabric artists make Inchies, these 1-inch by 1-inch fabric or paper art squares, in the same way postcards and ATCs are made. They use fabric, batting, and perhaps a stiffener, and embellish them with beads, buttons, crystals, fibers, wire, and found objects.

When I saw Inchies for the first time, I thought, “Wow! That’s pretty cool, but so small!" I turned and twisted, examined its tiny frame and wondered, "How can you make an interesting design in so small a space?” Then life intruded and I forgot Inchies for a while.
Later, I needed to take a break from a couple of large projects, and decided to make some Inchies, just for the heck of it. Maybe you’ve even made some and swapped them with other textile artists. If so, you’ll probably understand when I tell you I was instantly addicted to Inchies. Even now one of those large projects, which I took a break from, still lies in an unfinished state totally preempted by the Inchie Invasion.
The other large project is finished, but only because I decided to incorporate Inchies into the quilt; 500 and then some Inchies later, it became one of the first Inchie Quilts.

What is it about these exquisite little gems that is so attractive and intriguing?

How can you make an interesting design in just one square inch of space? Start with the fabric.

Look for a fabric with interesting design elements in colors that you fancy. Find a fabric you love, and then use some coordinating threads in different colors, textures and weights to add some base texture with machine quilting. And then the real fun begins. Gather anything and everything you think you might use to create a little design story on your Inchie.

Beads are perfect of course, and crystals, tiny buttons, and bits of lace or chunky fibers are naturals for Inchie embellishments. But let your mind and imagination wander, and look for other things like safety pins, computer parts, colored copper wire, felt shapes, watch parts, jewelry findings, shells, small stones; anything and everything that can be glued or sewn on or stuck through is fair game for Inchie embellishments, as long as you keep the diminutive nature of the Inchie canvas in mind. This is where you can use that ever-growing stash of bead mixes and fiber bundles, as well as all the found objects and odd bits and bobs that you may wonder why you kept, but couldn’t bear to part with.
Once you’ve gathered your embellishments and have many to choose from, spend some time selecting a variety of embellishments to use. Choose a mixture of shapes and sizes, colors and finishes. Start by building up the embellishments in layers. Add some simple embroidery stitches with metallic thread or hand-dyed flosses to accent the fabric design or the quilting or both. Use a large bead or button as a focal point, and place smaller beads or crystals or findings around it to create a multidimensional texture and design story in just one square inch.

While you’re making this first Inchie, you’ll probably get ideas about how to embellish the next one, and the next, and the next one after that. At some point, you may find yourself stumped by how to embellish a particular Inchie, but you’ll get even more creative to solve that little design dilemma, and be excited and eager to move on to the next one.

As you create more and more Inchies, you’ll realize that each one has something to say and a story to tell, but it’s when they get together in groups that they speak the loudest. There’s a tiny world full of details and textural interest in each one, and when you put them all together they become a universe of creative possibilities. Inchies are more than just patchwork and you’ll want to take your time and study each one to see inside its world.
Accessorize Me—with Inchies! (pictured below) was awarded an Honorable Mention ribbon at the National Quilting Association Quilt Show in Columbus, Ohio in June. This quilt will be on display at the IQA World of Beauty Quilt Show at the Fall Quilt Market and Fall Quilt Festival in Houston, October 10-12 and 15-18 respectively.

To see a world in one square inch every day, subscribe to The Daily Inchie. A new Inchie is profiled every day and delivered to you via RSS feed or email. Visit to find more information and download extra content for the book, along with news and updates about Inchie Quilts and upcoming workshops and lectures. Order your copy of Inchie Quilts at DreamWeaver’s Quilts Studio, where you will also find unique supplies and embellishments.
Thank you, Dawn, for inviting me to be a guest here at Subversive Stitchers! -- Nadine

BIO: Nadine Ruggles has been sewing and crafting since childhood, and was caught by the quilting bug in 1990. She wanted to make "just one (large) quilt" for the bed and, of course, couldn't stop quilting after that. Being mostly self-taught, Nadine sees each new quilt as a challenge, and she applies her special talents for fabric selection, precision piecing, elegant quilting and unexpected embellishments to traditional blocks to create innovative quilt art pieces. Nadine lives in Angelbachtal, Germany, with her husband Eric and two beautiful daughters, Erica and Erin. She has been the recipient of numerous awards for her machine quilting and innovative piecing. Her quilts have been exhibited across the United States in quilt shows, galleries and museums, and her newest work and techniques are featured in Inchie Quilts, published by the American Quilter's Society. Nadine will be teaching Inchie Quilts and other embellishment workshops at the AQS Quilt Expo Des Moines in October, 2009.
Visit with Nadine and find out more about her artwork, book, workshops and lectures at her website and blog,
DreamWeaver’s Quilts.


Mishka said...

The Inchies are so gorgeous. I'd love to have the book and an opportunity to give them a try.

I have an embarrassingly large stash of beads from my jewelry-making days.

Great guest post Nadine.


Anonymous said...

I have made these and they are fun.. I used fun threads and fabric I would put down beads and fibers or whatever other fun elements I had laying around. I would then sew tulle around the edge trapping the fun elements between the tulle and fabric. This would be a fun Challenge... Laura

MRose said...

I have leftovers from some Stack&Whack and One Block Wonder type quilts - too small to make a quilt, but they're perfect for inchies.

Not to mention a box full of beads, buttons, and found items.

Looks like a great book, and I hope it will have a new home here.


Jody said...

I started following Nadine on Twitter and am facinated with her work. So gorgeous and creative, among other things. I'm looking forward to experimenting....

Nadine said...

Hey Michele! There's no such thing as "an embarrassingly large stash of beads"! ;)

Hi Laura--using the tulle over embellishments sounds like a great idea!

MRose--Yes! Inchies are the perfect way to use those scraps of unique fabrics that might not find a home elsewhere!

Nadine said...

Hi Jody, fancy meeting you here! Thanks for your kind comments about my work. :)

Debbie Alley said...

these are fun-
I've made them but, never done anything with them-take care, Debbie

neolasdaughter said...

The inchies are so much fun. I'd use Angelina, Tyvek, beads, thread and anything else that got in my way.

Aussie Jo said...

I would love to win Nadine's book as inspiration for my daughter Claudia (9 years).
She comes along with me to our Creative Fibre group and in August we were fusing bits and pieces to make 'sandwiches' of fabric. Claudia became very engrossed in this process and made lots of "cm's" (we are metric so can't call them inchies!) which she then gave to everybody. She got lots of positive feedback which has encouraged her greatly to continue creating.

Unknown said...

Yay, Nadine, great article! The inchies look like so much fun. :D

Anonymous said...

I'd heard of the book but have never actually seen it....sounds interesting and fun....pieces so small too! Wow...

Mary-Kay C. said...

I've been looking for the book at a couple of shops and have yet to see it. I am interested in making a few Inchies and would love to have the book.

troy and christina said...

A nice summary of your work, Nadine.

I would have to pull out my wools, yarns, and sparkley string for couching. Top with a bead or two and gold thread. I have just the damaged silk dress to cut up for the background too!


Nadine said...

@Debbie Alley-That's exactly why I wrote this book--because people were making Inchies, but not doing anything with them! :)

@neolasdaughter-"anything else that got in my way" I LOVE it!

@Aussie Jo--Sounds like your daughter is growing up right! :) I'll be she'd love to make Inchies...

Nadine said...

@Approachable Art--Thanks Judi! They are a bit addicting...but just a bit! ;)

@Quilt Hollow and @Mary-Kay C.--The book is in stock at many of the quilting supply distributors now, so it should show up at your LQS soon. Or you can always order it online... :)

@troy and christina--Thank you! Oh, how terrible that a silk dress was damaged, but yes, I've been thinking of silk Inchies myself!

Debbie said...

I've made inchies. I like to couch yarns, cut into inchies and add beads. Would love to see the ideas in this book of what I can do with all the inchies I have.

lisa shepard said...

I'm experimenting with my 50-packs of 2" squares of African prints & jacquard batiks from Ghana, cutting each 2" square into 4 inchies, embellishing each of the 4 differently, then creating coordinating 4-patch micro-quilts.

Nadine said...

@Debbie--Couched yarns and fibers add such fun texture, don't they? One of my favorite things to do too!

@lisa shepard--Oooohhh, sounds cool! "Micro-quilts" I LOVE it!

Margaret McDonald said...

I'd make an inchie or two a day for a year in a calendar format to chronicle everyday .

Nadine said...

Hi Maggie! An Inchie a day is a great idea!

Anonymous said...

I am not sure just yet what I would use for inchies but I am about to find out in October. This is one of the classes that I signed up to take at the AQS show in Des Moines. I am very excited about it.


Carole said...

I tried inchies once and didn't do such a good job, so tried twinchies.
I would use my trimmings from quilts finished, and art pieces that didn't quite work.
Would be fun to get the book...
in fact, I hope I do!
I would like to do an inchie a day for a year.... just may be my new goal.. it would be do-able.

Susan said...

I've made ATC's so I'd love to try inchies. I can see using them grouped together for a pocket on a tote bag.
I love to do handwork and I could really get carried away embellishing inchies without a huge time investment.
Susan Parker

Silvia "OrkaLoca" Dell'Aere said...

These inchies remember me when I used to do tons of paper inchies to trade with scrapbookers friend :) Now I'm fabric-addicted, I tink I'm going to love these tiny fabric inchies.

I think I'd use beads and button, of course, but I've also a lot of little shells with holes, and I'd love to do some with metallic shapes sewen on.
I think also about use metallic thread, or some strange embroidery thread, like the fluffy one, and fabric paint :)

I cross my fingers, I'd love to win the book :)


Nadine said...

@Chris--How wonderful that I'll see you in Des Moines!

@Carole--Whether you make Inchies or Twinchies, the same theories apply! In fact, if you make Twinchies, you may have more options for embellishments in different sizes... ;)

@Susan--The tote bag is a great idea for using Inchies. The limited time investment is one of my favorite things about Inchies, actually; you can make little design decisions, finish it and move on to the next!

Sherri said...

I have been intrigued by inchies since I first saw them mentioned last year. I have so many things I would use to make an inchie quiltlet.

I have a stash of beads, odd charms, sequins, my Mom's old jewelry, colorful threads, loads of fabrics, and odd 'finds' that I keep saving up to use in a project.

I would probably do a themed project like the seasons, a holiday, something fanciful, or perhaps a family tree!

Nadine said...

@Silvia--"fabric-addicted" :) Is that what we are? I like your shells and fabric paint ideas!

Nadine said...

@Sherri D--I have a holiday themed Inchie project in mind myself, if the world would just slow down long enough for me to do it! I like the family tree idea, too!

Sue Rutford said...

I'd try sequins. I've got quite a collection of different sequin shapes, old and new, and it would be fun to showcase them in inchies.

Nadine said...

@Sue--I love sequins too! I've been looking for some that are small enough in shapes. I have some tiny stars that I love... :)