Thursday, December 29, 2011

Rayna and Ellen Anne fill their new books with innovative, creative spirit

Rayna Gillman's 'Scapes' quilt from her new book
People who love fabric seem to understand that we are all threads in this universal tapestry. We are all connected, some more tightly woven together than others. In the quilting community we are a tight-knit group with quilts as our common thread.

Learn to make beautiful flowers like
this one featured in Ellen Anne Eddy's quilt
It has been my pleasure for most of my life to be a part of such a community. In the past year, when it seemed like everything was 'too hard' or my energy was replaced by apathy or I just wanted to curl up into a ball and hide -- this community of quilters and artists pulled me through. Whether by blog, email, phone conversation, face-to-face, or Facebook, fellow fabric lovers have kept me afloat. Blogging, as you have noticed, has been set aside for far too long. But today, before the New Year enters, I want to offer up two books that you might want to take with you into this new year.

Both books are written by women quilters and artists who are among the most giving, generous, thoughtful, and caring friends a woman could ever want. I not only admire their character, but their skills and imagination. They take me to worlds I had never encountered. Their techniques and creations make me feel like I can do anything! Make me feel creative.

They are also strong women who have been my rock, whether they know it or not. They are Rayna Gillman and Ellen Anne Eddy.

I'm sure these are names you've heard before. Both have previously published books. Both have won awards. Both are teachers who bring joy and wonder and absolute fun to the process of learning and creating. And both have new books out, published by CT Publishing! What joy!

Rayna Gillman
 Rayna, author of Create Your Own Hand-printed Cloth, adds a second Create Your Own book. She takes her students and readers into a stress-free journey to original design that draws on her free spirit and sense of adventure and love of child's play: Create Your Own Free-form Quilts.

Rayna begins her free-form quilts with 'therapy strips.' She cut dozens of fabric strips from her stash of hand-dyed and commercial fabrics and sewed them together willy-nilly, just cutting and sewing, cutting and sewing. Her brain didn't have to worry about anything, it just rested as her hands and eyes took over. But the pile of strips was only the beginning. Add a rotary cutter, some more fabric pieces, and some more free sewing and you are beginning to get the idea of free form creative quilts. But she has a lot more unique approaches to quilt creation within the 94 pages of this book.

This is a process book, not a design or pattern book. It is a journey that allows you to play, experiment and throw the idea of 'mistakes' right out the window. It is liberating and is written with the Rayna enthusiasm that anyone who has taken one of her classes will recognize. See -- you can't think of your experiences with Rayna without smiling! I see that grin!

Another perk of this book: using up UFOs! Yes! A whole section on reinventing UFOs with strips and bits. That alone may be worth the $28!

One thing that this book reinforces for me is that there is no such thing as an ugly quilt. It really doesn't matter what fabrics you combine, how you stitch them, cut them, layer them -- the result turns out brilliant! It may be funky, it may be artsy, it may be surprising, but always, a quilt finds its own beauty. I needed reminded that what I create without pattern or design directions, but only with heart and fabric -- is a thing of beauty and a joy creating. The pages are filled with colorful, unique and imaginative quilts that will get your own imagination revved up.

But I said two books. Shift gears with me to thread painting and intuitive applique with Ellen Anne Eddy's Thread Magic Garden.

Ellen Anne encourages cutting shapes rather than using patterns in this book, which is focused on creating flowers. I must admit that if I could create a world as beautiful with my writings as Ellen Anne creates with her fabrics and thread, I would be a MOST delighted and happy woman. I fell in love with her 'other worlds' from the first glimpse of toad, moon, or ladybug. There is something truly magical about Ellen Anne's creations.

This book will help you move closer toward creating your own unique gardens filled with blossoms only you can imagine. She takes the process step by step, talks of flower shapes, construction, petals, stamens, and how to create them with perhaps a fabric center and thread petals, or free-cut petal shapes. She talks of perspective -- the angle with which you see a flower makes for a much different product.

Ellen Anne Eddy
If for no other reason to purchase this book -- it is filled with so many images of Ellen Anne's work. But there are other reasons. Her discussion of stitches, colors, various stitch techniques (couching, machine beading, etc. And perhaps some aspects of quilt making you hadn't considered such as 'creating a visual path' or 'progressive shading.' She also breaks down flowers into their individual shapes -- spiral, 'S' or 'C' shapes.... You will never look at a flower quite the same again.

It is an excellent introduction to thread painting or a book that will take you further into your own imagination. Spending less than $30 to spend time with Ellen Anne and Rayna adds another perk you'll get from these books. Their personalities shine through the encouraging words and their enthusiasm for their art.

Gift yourself this New Year! You won't regret the investment!

It turns out that I have a copy of Rayna's book to give away! To enter leave a comment on this blog entry telling us something fabric/quilt/thread/stitch related that you will do in the New Year. One winner will be drawn on Jan. 15th from those who leave comments.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Subversive Stitchers Challenge for the Quilts and Dreams Challenge

A 1600 Quilt
(photo from Heirloom Creations blog site).
Seems like a symptom of  'subversive' people is that we march to our own drum, are often loners, not joiners, and like to do things in our own time, following our own way. So I don't organize things or urge you to join in projects.

BUT I have just received an interesting book from American Quilter's Society (AQS) that has finally brought me around to Jelly Rolls.

The book is Jelly Roll Quilt Magic by Kimberly Einmo. It is her second book about quilting with jelly rolls. This time I paid attention. Einmo has included some really lovely projects in traditional styles by cutting jelly rolls into various shapes. Wild geese, stars, etc. Quite beautiful with helpful hints sprinkled generously throughout.

When I mentioned the book on my Subversive Stitchers facebook page, Mary Alice suggested I check out the 1600 quilts and the video produced by Heirloom Creations.

And that's when I fit together Kathy Thompson's ongoing quilt challenge to benefit ALS research and patients with Jelly Roll quilts. One jelly roll would make a 48x64 size 1600 quilt. They go together fast, could be tied rather than quilted if you'd rather, and would make an excellent EXCELLENT quilt for someone with ALS to snuggle under and feel loved.

Quilters Dream Challenge
for ALS

For a tutorial on how to make the 1600 quilts, here's the blog and video site. And for more information about Kathy's ongoing challenge and where to send your quilts, here's her link.

If you'd like, I'd be honored, if you would submit your quilts with your name as part of the Subversive Stitchers: Women Armed with Needles challenge. And if you would send a photo to me, I'd be thrilled to post it here.

Another quilt that makes a great charity quilt is the Disappear Nine Patch which is made even easier using Charm Squares. Here's a tutorial from the Missouri Star Quilt Company. My article for Suite 101 has a little different lay out and more information about making a Disappearing Nine Patch. It takes at least 2 packages of charms plus borders, backing, etc.

Both are fun, fast projects and would certainly brighten up someone's dismal ALS world. I'd be glad to hear if anyone's interested in this little challenge and of course, please send photos!

A big thank you to everyone.

Actually, it doesn't matter what design you use for your quilt -- I just hope you'll contribute to this challenge. You have my unending gratitude.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Quilt Exhibit and Sales Support ALS Research

Handmade Quilts For Sale to support ALS research through a FREE quilt exhibit sponsored by Hopes and Dreams Quilts 4 a Cure!

The quilt exhibit is held in conjunction with the JT Walk and Beach Party to raise funds for Hopes & Dream Quilts 4 a Cure. Kathy Thompson, CEO of Quilters Dream Batting, knows the heartbreak and frustration of the ALS disease. Her son Josh was cut down in the prime of his life. This handsome young father of two who was a fantastic surfer was reduced to breathing through a ventilator. He couldn't even scratch his own nose. His mom and wife and everyone who loves them jumped in to find a treatment and a cure. The resulting fundraisers have been record setting. Don't tell any mother that she can't protect or help her child. No matter what age they are!

Kathy and her company have put together one of the most dynamic quilt challenges, now in its third year, I believe. My how time flies. In addition, she has added this exhibit to be held:

Sunday October 9
10am - 6pm

Hilton 2nd Floor Ballroom
31st Street and Atlantic Ave. Virginia Beach, VA

Open to the Public

View quilts from around the world donated to help raise money to find a cure for ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease).

Children's and Babies Quilts....Modern Quilts....Art Quilts...Traditional Quilts...Holiday Quilts

Quilts of all shapes, sizes & colors!

All proceeds from the sale of quilts goes directly to the ALS Association research initiiatives.

Remember...Quilts make wonderful gifts & purchase of our quilts is Tax Deductible. Quilts will also be available for sale October 8- 27at the Richard Stravitz Gallery 1217 Laskin Rd, Virginia Beach 23451.

Please help us find a cure for
Josh & all ALS patients.

Thank you,
Josh's Mom - Kathy Thompson & Josh's Grandmother - 'Mimi' Kelly
Founders of the Hopes & Dreams Quilt Challenge for ALS
Toll Free 888-268-8664

Quilts are also accepted for the ongoing quilt challenge to be used in other fundraisers and to give to ALS patients.

As many of you know my husband, Derrol, has ALS. He has a slower progressing form of the disease than Josh, but it is creeping through his body. And like Josh, there is no treatment. There is no cure. 100 percent of ALS patients -- die.

Derrol on his way to work in his Invacare power chair and
his van and hydraulic lift. Thank God his
employer is willing to work with him and his job is
such that he can do it with a few assistive devices.  
His power chair is now his legs and I pitch in whenever his hands or body refuses to do what needs done. The ALS Association and MDA have both been so supportive and helpful. I don't know what we would have done without their patient support. They also fund research on a worldwide scale and big advances have been made, but still, no cure. 

We pray for a treatment or a cure or both!

I can't imagine life without my Derrol, and I don't want to! I know alot of you have lost loved ones --sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, husbands and wives to all manner of diseases.

ALS is a neuromuscular disease that has close ties to some other nasties that we'd like to eradicate -- Alzheimer's Disease; Parkinson's Disease; Muscular Dystrophy.... It is likened to being buried alive in a coffin -- his body is the coffin.

I hope you'll help us try to stop the dying.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Quilt Wars

Viewer's Choice: Innocence by Hollis Chatelain
 of Hillsborough, North Carolina, USA

For seventy-two minutes, give or take, I watched "Stitched: the film" which is advertised as a fun-filled documentary following three quilt artists as they prepare their entries in Houston's International Quilt Festival.

It was good to see Hollis Chatelain and Caryl Bryer Fallert again, to watch them at work, and to discover Randall Cook and his buns of steel controversial quilt. Just as heartening was to see a smiling Kathy York, and Sharon Schamber and her Best of Show quilt. It seems that I don't hear of Sharon and certainly don't hear her called a Super Star as much as others, but her work speaks for itself. This is a woman who not only sees colors, but also smells them.

The film is enjoyable. The photography and editing, definitely professional and well done. It doesn't quite rise to the level of documentary in my opinion. It actually feels more like a promotion tool for the major quilt shows -- Houston and Paducah and for these three quilters. Anyone who is at all tuned into this Houston-Paducah segment of the quilting community will learn very little from this film, but may be reminded of what they're missing if they don't attend the shows, or reminded of the good times they had while there. And the film certainly gives a quilter the itch to add to her stash and try out the new tools and toys that only a quilter can love.

When we realize that there are millions of quilters, from all parts of the world, this film only speaks to maybe the 60- to 100,000 who participate in this commercially driven aspect of the community. Of course, that's quite a group! But there weren't any quilters from Japan, Norway, Germany, Israel.... No charity quilts, no guilds, no Amish, no non-profits. It is a little film focused on Houston, with a nod to Paducah, filmed and directed by professionals out of Houston. It is a feel good film, except when it tiptoed into the conflict between traditional and art quilters.

At that point I thought the film makers' bias was showing. Traditional quilters were depicted as a group of white haired grandma types who spoke with a Southern drawl and thought quilts were only for sleeping under. I suppose there are those with that opinion, but it is possible that they are just not clearly voicing their opposition.

I try to work out my own opinion. And I think as one traditional quilter said in the film, it comes down to whether one comes from a sewing/textile background or an art/multi-medium background. Although I must qualify that. I come from a sewing background and am a devoted follower of beautiful textile art regardless of what techniques are used or whether the artist is a fabric artist or a multi-media artist.

One group uses the fabric and thread as their medium. In another group, as depicted by Hollis Chatelain, for example it is paint/dyes and thread. In one group it may be handwork, in the other machine or fusing fabrics together. In one group it is construction -- straight seams, tidy intersections, neat, hidden, even stitches, etc. And in the other group whole cloth as canvas with the emphasis on painting or embellishment.

In the film, only the very narrow view of a few women who apparently represented the traditional aspect of quilting, voiced their opinions. Nothing from a group of art quilters. I guess they are right and don't need to speak?

I think there's narrow minded opinions on both sides of this argument. I've heard several art quilters deride the emphasis sewers put on straight seams, etc. I believe if a quilt is going to be constructed, it should be according to the highest standards. Does that mean there can't be a frayed seam or irregular intersections? Of course not. It means that if it frays, or has offset intersections, it had better be part of the art and not a mistake or sloppy construction.

Part of what draws me to quilts is the love that quilts embody as items of comfort and warmth. Quilts began as utilitarian objects and the makers began adding their own individual touches of beauty to them. Quilt history is as important as the quilt. To say that one approach to making a beautiful piece of textile art is acceptable and another is not seems to go against the freedom with which women have constructed quilts and clothes and useful items through the centuries. Who would tell an Amish quilter that they can't use black fabric?

Perhaps it has to do with the industrialization of heirloom quality handwork. Machine quilting is absolutely awesome and the sky is the limit on possibilities and the beauty that can be produced. But handwork should never, ever, ever, be cast aside or treated as that old fashioned musty smelling aunt that lives in the attic. It has its place. Handwork is also skill, dedication, practice, effort, sweat, tears and blood and each stitch is a physical act of love. It is being one with the cloth. No gloves between the hand and the fabric. Each stitch is designed and carried out by its maker -- one at a time.

Handwork is a form of meditation. You can't get any closer to the cloth than while hand stitching. For me it isn't whether it hangs on the wall or covers me at night in my bed -- it doesn't matter if it is a double wedding ring or abstract or a Susan Shie original.

There's room in the quilting community for artists from every background and those doing handwork, recreating traditional patterns, using their love of color -- are just as valuable and should not be snubbed. They shouldn't need to be defensive or exclusionary. Perhaps artists with art backgrounds should remember that art has no boundaries. Elly Sienkiewicz creates works of art with each stitch she takes on her Baltimore quilts. Baltimore quilts are just as much an art style to quilts as Impressionism or Minimalism is to the art world. Ironically the winners of the top awards at the Houston show depicted in the film were mostly traditional quilts, and as Mr. Cook rather unkindly pointed out 'with butterflies.'

Fabric or textile art should feature the fabric. Quilts, a term which speaks more to construction -- a sandwich with a top, bottom and middle layers, held together with stitches, speaks more to construction. As long as all three layers and the quilting are there -- its a quilt. All serving their purpose, preening and beautiful.

After all of that, I think my conclusion is that a quilt is a fabric sandwich stitched with love. What's on top, on the bottom or inbetween, whether a dagwood or a patty melt, it is a quilt.

If you want to view the film, there's a narrow window to view it for free:

Friday, September 23, 2011

Think before You Quote – Even in Comments

Posted on September 11, 2011 by Pat Irwin (permission granted to repost).

If you create content – or even post comments in blogs – and include quotes from someone else – be ware.

Although this particular company may well be on its last legs, there may be others out there.

It’s an ugly 18-month saga that, fortunately, seems to be coming to a close.

The players:

Righthaven LLC, a Las Vegas-based firm founded in March of 2010, solely for the purpose of suing blogs and websites that re-post any newspaper content without permission from their media clients.

Stephens Media, which owns 70 papers in nine states, including the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

MediaNews Group, the second-largest US newspaper chain, publisher of the Denver Post and 50 other papers.

Hapless bloggers and website owners, as well as those who comment on them.

Act I:

Righthaven LLC is formed in March of 2010, with help from a $500,000 investment from Stephens Media, their first client. The idea is simple; if newspapers can’t make enough money up front through advertisers and subscribers, monetize the content on the backend through litigation, going after those who unlawfully use their copyrighted material.

Newspaper chains will sell their copyrights to Righthaven for the express purpose of suing over the content, but according to the contract, newspapers retain all rights to control, license and print the material, while Righthaven can only use it to sue. The agreement also states that any proceeds from settlements or legal judgments are split 50-50 between Righthaven and the newspaper company. What could go wrong?

Act II:

Righthaven immediately goes about the business of trolling the web for copyright infringements, serving up lawsuits to as many as 300 offenders over the next year, mostly in Nevada and Colorado. They go after bloggers and websites, even if visitors posted the material in comments or discussion boards. The size of the infraction also is irrelevant, with no distinction made between small portions or entire articles.

Defendants are sued for tens-of-thousands of dollars, some as much as $150,000, the largest damages allowed. At least 100 of the accused settle out-of-court for undisclosed sums, fearing expensive legal battles.

Act III:

Righthaven’s profit model and business begin to unravel by April of this year. Defendants start to fight back, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation begins investigating, exposing large legal flaws in the company’s contractual agreements and lawsuits.

By June, two federal judges in Nevada have ruled Righthaven has no standing to bring a lawsuit, because the newspapers still retain copyright ownership. The rulings, based on copyright law, state that, “a copyright owner cannot assign a bare right to sue.” Most of Righthaven’s cases are dismissed, and in July the company is sanctioned by the court and fined $5,000.


This week the new chief executive of MediaNews Group, John Paton, said he was severing ties with Righthaven saying, “It was a dumb idea.” Going further he said, “The issues about copyright are real, but the idea that you would hire someone on an-essentially-success fee to run around and sue people at will, who may or may not have infringed as a way of protecting yourself…does not reflect how news is created and disseminated in the modern world.”

Aside from the questionable ethical nature of Righthaven’s business, it also was based on a flawed understanding of copyright law. Righthaven based their model on so-called patent-troll companies, who buy up patents only so they can sue others and turn a profit. The key, however, is that they purchase the patent and own it. Righthaven owned nothing, since the newspapers still reserved all rights of usage.

Righthaven has not filed a lawsuit in over two months, and has not won a single case. Discredited and with only one client, it looks to be on its way out. Bloggers who settled with the company are considering options for getting their money back, now that they know the suits were baseless.

The takeaway – which should not be interpreted as legal advice:

Protect yourself. If you have a blog or website, there is a simple, relatively cheap way to inoculate yourself from infringement committed by those, who comment or post on your site. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act protects you from civil copyright liability for user content, and you can easily register a DMCA agent. Visit, download the appropriate form and send it with a $105 check to Copyright RRP, Box 71537, Washington, DC 20024.

Fair use practices allow you to reproduce and use a copyrighted work for nonprofit or educational purposes. It’s usually acceptable to use a copyrighted work in teaching, research, or for criticism and commentary. For the most part, non-commercial use that does not affect the potential market for or value of the work is considered legal.

Most media outlets and people who create content don’t object to someone quoting short passages from articles, stories or speeches, especially in the context of discussion or criticism. However, attributing credit and providing a link to the original source are welcome courtesies that can show good intention and save you some trouble.

I received this information from Wooden Horse, a database that sends out a free newsletter for writers, etc. to keep them up on the latest U.S. magazine information. Since so many of us have blogs, guest bloggers, etc. this might be timely for all of us to read and act upon.

Thank you Lynda Thompson. She furnished this link to Righthaven's victims.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Ignorance Message Quilts

You can be sincere and still be stupid.  --Charles F. Kettering

It all began with the radio this morning. My husband loves oldies music and has found one radio station in all of the world that plays it the way he likes it. So we awaken to this station every morning. The problem is that there is this DJ who fashions himself an expert on politics. He is not. HE IS NOT!

Today, this disk spinner decided to take on President Obama's proposal for taxes on the wealthy and corporations. Now, regardless of whether you agree or disagree with the President, you can appreciate at least -- at the VERY least -- getting the facts straight. But our beloved little fascist DJ had no clue what he was talking about. But he said his say fast. He voiced it loud and with much hysteria and emotion. Therefore some ninny is going to think, because of the ardent delivery, he must be right.

It is impossible to defeat an ignorant man in argument. --William G. McAdoo
Such ignorance and misuse of public airways makes me livid. We all encounter such skewed facts and half truths and innuendo on a daily basis. Doesn't it make your hair stand on end?

So what better way to convey my feelings than in cloth? An Ignorance quilt seemed the proper vehicle. One I could hang in my office and stare at whenever I heard one more skewing, spinning, misusing, misrepresenting facts or out and out lying. Maybe one I could continue to add to with my trusty Sharpie as I find more and more examples or rebuttals.

Before we work on artificial intelligence why don't we do something about natural stupidity?  --Steve Polyak

But what is the symbol for ignorance? I thought of the Universal circle with the line across it for 'Do Not' or 'No' as in no right turn, no children, no smoking.... But what to put in the middle as the symbol of ignorance. Although that symbol is a bit cliche and overused....

Who better to turn to for help with this cloth dilemma than my fellow Subversive Stitchers!?

You can swim all day in the Sea of Knowledge and still come out completely dry.  Most people do.  --Norman Juster

So I ask for your input -- help me make an ignorance quilt. Or maybe make one of your own and send me a photo -- we can post them here and have a celebration of sorts or commiseration on the fact that it seems to reproduce so quickly.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Little Projects Carry Big Impact

Several pillows I have made plus the
blue ribbon embroidery pillow that I dream of making, Note
the angel pillow in the foreground. It is the prototype using
 Linda Goodmon Emery's design. 

It seemed that my family, even extended family, was complete before I was born. I came late, born four years after my cousins; seven years after my brother. An after thought always trying to catch up. One of those change-of-life surprises that was too little to do whatever the other kids were doing.

Two female cousins, Deb and Mary,  both four years older than me, had fun playing house with me when I was a baby and endured me trailing after them for the next decade or so.

Then we all graduated, married, went our separate ways and raised our kids. Sadly the next generation of cousins are all strangers to one another. And my generation had become separated until about ten years ago when the three of us discovered each other on email and began corresponding. The timing couldn't have been better. Suddenly age didn't matter and we were all empty nesters facing similar challenges.

We emailed daily and thought of ourselves as angels -- we saved each other from the trials of our lives. Just days after connecting with another cousin, Mary's older sister and sharing a bond that the years had prohibited in the past, she died. The three of us leaned heavily on each other to survive the shock and loss.

Death, relocations, illness, husbands, kids and more. When Mary was diagnosed with colon cancer we were all devastated, but tried to be supportive and encouraging via email.

Emailing, using words,  wasn't enough and one day while sewing, I decided to make us each a small angel pillow. I cut 8-1/2-inch squares from a cotton muslin fabric and drew a primitive angel shape in the middle -- just a triangle with a circle on top and a line for a halo. And of course the angel wings. I added batting and backing and stitched the outline and then some background filler. It was intended to be primitive, unpretentious, a symbol of a simpler life.

At the time I made them, I only knew the old-fashioned way to sew trapunto. So I cut a slit in the back of the angel and added some stuffing until the angel had a satisfactory plumpness. After stitching that slit shut, I sewed this square to the pillow back and made a pillow form to put inside of it. The back was made of two halves that overlapped so it would be easy to take the cover off and put it on the pillow form.

Mary took her pillow with her to the hospital.

The day of her surgery, I lit a candle. Prayed, paced, wished I wasn't hundreds of miles away. And tried to have a normal day -- laundry, cooking, cleaning and writing. Her daughter had promised to call as soon as they had something to report. The phone rang and her daughter was crying. I was crying and then she said, "No, no, I'm crying because I'm happy. No cancer. They found NO CANCER!"

That's been about seven years ago. Our angel pillows have gotten us through several major life crisis since then. Someone wiser than I noted that life is a series of crisis and events and should be expected. They are part of the journey. But nowhere is it written that we must face life alone. 

I've made a few angel pillows for friends and other family members as they face tough decisions or life events. I won't say the pillows have magical powers, but so far they have a high rate of good results. Maybe its the love with which they are made, the prayers said over each stitch, or maybe just the good wishes I send with each pillow. Of course it could be none of the above.

Free pattern for personal use.
But, I'm a firm believer that little gifts can make strong ripples in the universe of friends. Recently Mary emailed her news -- I have a pollup that must be removed. We're dusting off our angel pillows.

Life and its tests and challenges never stop, do they? Maybe, just maybe a little soft pillow will cushion the blows a little. I've been feeling the need to make some small projects and the pillows were at the top of my list. I have a few ideas I want to try -- include a sachet inside so they are scented. Maybe some lavender? Also I'd use Karen MacTavish's technique for trapunto and I'd like to practice my machine quilting.

I come from blue collar roots where everything must have a purpose and work is what is valued. So to practice my quilting or any technique, I must be making a useable object. Thus the pillows are excellent practice pieces for all kinds of techniques. A friend who is a master knitter said that knitting children's items is how she 'practiced' new techniques. They are small, take less yarn and give her a chance to practice, practice, practice. The pillows are along the same idea -- nothing goes to waste and they are a great way to use up small pieces of fabric or scraps of trims, mismatched buttons -- whatever you feel like using. Even a good way to practice your painting.
If you need a pattern for this little angel, I drew upon Linda Goodmon Emery's "A Treasury of Quilting Designs." Or here's a free angel pattern with a little heart, too.

A book recently sent to me from AQS offers alot of perfect quilting patterns for small pillows as well as other projects that are nature inspired. Quilting Designs from Nature by Lone J. Minkkinen is a delightful combination of a main element surrounded by easy to machine quilt motifs, drawn in such a way that they can be stitched without lifting the needle. And it is downloadable as well as in print.

I realize I have been not added to this blog in far too long. I hope to pick up where I left off. There are a few glitches in the downloads, etc. I guess the technology used here is out of date and won't accept new, so I'm not sure what that will mean.

Daily, I try to post comments and sites that inspire me on the Subversive Stitchers facebook page. So please drop by and chime right in! The more the merrier!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Urban Art: Graffiti Quilts and Fabric

Summer in the City by Hilary Gooding
I recently watched via Netflix, part of a documentary, "Exit Through the Gift Shop," about street art. It fascinated me. The art as well as the lifestyle and the attitudes that drive these artists to create on public walls, signs, sidewalks, trucks, trains.... And they are so good with spray paint.

If Susan Shie hadn't found fabric, she might be a Street Artist! And that would be a good thing, too. Although the lifestyle is a bit hard, always fleeing from the police and working at night and in secret. Sounds Subversive!

There are several quilters who have taken the street art off the buildings and out of the night by creating their own 'graffiti wall fabric art'. I have a sample here, (see first photo) made by Hilary Gooding.

She includes such a delightful play by play account of the making of this quilt at her website. She describes it as, "Modern day version of cave paintings as seen on walls and surfaces in every town and city around the world. I have tried to include samples that represent my life span from the protests in the sixties to the sophisticated use of spray paint today. Brick wall fused and quilted by machine. Acrylic paint sprayed, stencilled and hand painted. 105 x 130 cm."

Hilary adds, "It was a fun piece of work with plenty of drama along the way – lots of learning curves but I’m still pleased with the end result. I have done a few of what I would call ‘message quilts’ but have no plans to do any more graffiti quilts."
One of Stepanie Brandenburg's fabric line designs

I'm also excited about a line of fabric created by Stephanie Brandenburg for Camelot Cottons called 'Urban Art.' So edgy and speaks to the side of me that wished I could have been with the Egyptian people as they fought for Democracy!

Even quilters have wilder sides, that's why we work with sharp objects! Writing about this makes me feel a bit 'subversive.' I like that feeling. Gets me out of the winter rut and loosens the bonds on my attitudes.

Of course street art comes in a variety of forms. One that seems less underground, less graffiti-like, is the well known 3-dimensional art by Edgar Mueller. His new website offers more insight into his work.

Please feel free to add names and websites to other fabric artists who are making street art. And by the way, street art has made its way into legitimate art, collectors are gaga over it. It may be the way to go.... But the old masters, who sneaked around in the dead of night to post their art on sides of buildings, street overpasses, and sidewalks are not quite so excited about the legitimate side of street art. But fabric artists don't have that problem. We still are fighting for that legitimization.

Additionally: Since posting this, I've come across another form of street art and it is stitched in yarn -- Yarn bombing! It is similar to the knitted toilet paper on the sideboard of this page, but less organized, more happenstance. I would be thrilled to run across some of this and other forms of street art, wouldn't you?

Sky Writing by Cathy Kleeman
Upon Linda Colsh's suggestion, I contacted Cathy Kleeman who graciously responded with two of her pieces with a revealing look at the construction of this pair of mirror images.

Echo by Cathy Kleeman
Cathy wrote in an email: "Sky Writing and Echoes. If you set these side by side you can see that they are mirror images of each other. I made Sky Writing as a piece for the Paducah exhibit and then had the idea that its partner should be an echo of it with the design and values reversed. What intrigues me most about these pieces is the layering of the paint over the quilted surface and how it creates a visual texture that never gets boring. I create the quilt top by a raw edge fabric collage that is stitched together, cut apart, and stitched together again. This layer gets sandwiched with the batting and backing, and then quilted. The quilting draws up the surface, creating hills and valleys. Often I will enhance this effect by wetting the entire piece and putting it in the dryer, which causes the batt to shrink and emphasizes those hills and valleys. I then use a monoprint technique with a color paint that will blend the background together to give it a more cohesive look. The final layer is the graffiti scribble. I use freezer paper to create a giant stencil and iron it to the quilted surface. A light touch with a sponge brush applies the paint just along the surface so only the "hills" capture the paint. Somewhere in the process before the final scribble I will throw paint at the quilt to achieve wonderful abstract markings that can be so delicate yet very striking."

Also Phyllis Cullen has created a meaningful piece that she's allowed me to share. She wrote in an email:

"I'm including a picture of my graffiti based quilt, with a homeless woman sitting in front of the graffiti'd wall. It was made as part of our textile abstractions group's challenge for that month. the challenge word was "blight". It can also be seen on my blog at and on the Textiles Abstractions blogspot."  

Thursday, February 3, 2011

We Have a Winner!

Thank you to all who entered and for frequenting Subversive Stitchers blog and Facebook pages.

We have a winner!!!

Subversive Stitchers: Women Armed with Needles and Dragon Threads Publishing are pleased to announce that we have a winner.

Stacy West of South Florida is the lucky winner of Noriko Endo's "Confetti Landscapes" book. To get better acquainted with Stacy, visit her lovely website and see the gorgeous work she is already producing!

Congratulations Stacy for having the lucky entry in our little drawing. I hope you'll enjoy the book and will show us what you create using Noriko's inspiration!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Melanie Needs Some Subversive Stitcher Attitude!

Everyone has a burden to bear, whether it is divorce, weird relatives, budgets that won't balance or as in Mellie Testa's case -- the Big C!

She's such a giver and such a gifted artist that I just must point you to her blog. Her dear friend is speaking for her as she tries to wrap her head around the latest chapter in her life.

If you feel moved to help Mellie through this minefield she faces, there are a few suggestions of things we can do to help. And of course, hold her in your thoughts and lift her up in prayers.

And contribute, please contribute to finding a cure. Virginia Spiegel seems to always have a fundraiser in the works or give directly to the American Cancer Society or charity of your choice.

Damn! We've got your back Mel!

Here's some information about Virginia Spiegel's upcoming fundraiser for the American Cancer Society.

One Cause, One Wednesday, One Hundred Collages

One Cause – The Fight Against Cancer.

One Wednesday – February 16, 2011.

One Hundred Collages – Created for this event by an all-star team of artists: Natalya Aikens, Pamela Allen, Laura Ann Beehler, Liz Berg, Pokey Bolton, Laura Cater-Woods, Jette Clover, Jane Davila, Jane Dunnewold, Jamie Fingal, Gloria Hansen, Leslie Tucker Jenison, Lyric Kinard, Jeanelle McCall, Linda Teddlie Minton, Karen Stiehl Osborn, BJ Parady, Judy Perez, Wen Redmond, Cynthia St. Charles, Virginia A. Spiegel

The goal – Raise $8,000 for the American Cancer Society in just one day. More details and a preview of artwork:

Fiberart For A Cause has already donated over $205,000 to the American Cancer Society through the generosity of fiber artists and their patrons.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

My View: A Few Books To Pique Your Creativity and a Giveaway!

It is not even the Ides of January and I'm feeling the overload! How about you? Hopefully your overload is in creativity and inspiration. I'm afraid my good intentions evaporated before the mists of that first January morning dissipated. It seems that I am slogging through this new year watching British mysteries and period pieces and spouting words like 'slogging' and 'bloody hell.' I'm even sipping Earl Grey tea as I write this.

Even in this land of Florida sunshine, there has been a shortage of old Sol. A couple sun rays arrived in the mail yesterday from American Quilter's Society.

I must admit that when I first saw the words 'Sunbonnet Sue' on the front cover of the first book, I groaned. I am not a fan. They are cute, vintage 1930s which doesn't seem to be my favorite era. And the cutie is so not what I want hanging in my house or covering my beds. I've seen them clad in pastels and dressed up as cowgirl or cowboy and wasn't impressed.

Dutifully, I looked again and am sooooo glad I did! Debra Kimball has put together a creative and fun group of Sues. The book is International Sun Bonnet Sue.

The book blurb describes well what you'll find inside "49 enchanting Sunbonnet designs capture the essence of places from around the globe. Each Sue is dressed in her country's traditional costume and holds a symbolic souvenir."

It was the Kimono Sue quilt, inspiration for this book, which drew me in. These little Japanese Sue figures are adorable. The fabrics and details the author chose definitely make these figures inviting. The symbolic souvenirs that they hold really give the figures character.

What a great project for using up scraps, or a great reason to delve into your assorted collection of fabrics. Bright colors, muted, whatever worked from batiks to flower prints. This book is light on technique. It is applique in whatever form you wish to use. What it features are the patterns for each of the 49 Sues along with photos of the author's fabric choices. There's even a little Sherlock Holmes clad Sue. If you enjoy applique -- whether needle turn or the fused or raw edge techniques -- you'll find these are patterns that will make you smile. Each turn of the page lightened my attitude and made my fingers itch to get started.

There is but one finished quilt and that is simply squares set together with sashing and each square has a figure appliqued to the middle of it. Not terribly exciting, but I'm sure once you begin making these little girls, you will find a host of ways to display them. A children's room seems the most reasonable place to display these Sues. I can see them adorning wall hangings, maybe arranged in a circle or on a table runner or even potholders or placemats. A bell pull perhaps? I know once you begin making these sweeties, you will find excellent ways to display them. Maybe even a birthday banner?

The second book may resonate with many who are determined to try new techniques this year and MASTER them! New York Beauty Simplified by Linda J. Hahn may be just what you need to ease into points, paper piecing, and curved piecing. Linda, in her introduction reassures us Subversive Stitchers that "The technique you are about to learn is very untraditional; we are going to break some rules. I have a very relaxed style and I do not like to stress or agonize. It is my opinion that quilting should be FUN and not stressful."

Circles, half circles, quarter circles, serpentine arrangements, and more fill this book. She also offers a variety of photos of many quilts to show off fabric choices. Perhaps it is simply my mood, my need for inspiration, but I found this book upbeat and easy to follow and most of all, calling to my creative urges to give it a try.

Going along with curved piecing, AQS previously sent me a book "Vivacious Curvy Quilts" by Dianne S. Hire. Seeing Linda Hahn's book, brought the curvy quilts to mind and I pulled the book out for a second look. I don't know why I filed it away without sharing it with you -- maybe the holidays intruded. But it is worth examining.

The art quilter may find Hire's intuitive approach and nontraditional quilts more inviting that a traditional quilter who gets high on perfect points, symmetry and matched seams. Yet, if you're venturing into a free style of quilt making -- this book's for you. Hire writes, "One of the most important things to have on hand when creating in an intuitive way is an open mind."

Evidently circles and curves are in my future and a bit of Sunbonnet Sue whimsy.

One more book! Recently in a Subversive Stitchers facebook discussion, someone mentioned that they enjoyed making Temari balls. My first response was "Huh?" "What?"

But of course I Googled and discovered that these Japanese Thread Balls look like a fun project. If you are looking for something to do when not quilting or sewing. Or you are looking for a way to use up some yarns and threads and do something exquisitely beautiful -- check out "TEMARI: How to make Japanese Thread Balls" by Diana Vandervoort. It is published by Japan Publications Trading Company, 1992. It isn't a new book, but definitely a fine book on the subject. There are also some Temari sites online that may help you get started, but Diana's step by step directions, tips, and suggestions take the guesswork out of this project.

I just can't stop! One more book. I mentioned it when discussing my 'Confetti Cats' project on Facebook last year, but it is worth revisiting. It is Noriko Endo's "Confetti Naturescapes" Published by Dragon Threads, this book combines the beauty of an impressionist's painting with the frugal use of snippets of fabric in a 'confetti' landscape. This book is a 'must own' for anyone who has gasped in admiration at Noriko's work. It is filled with photos of her quilts. And accompanying those photos are descriptions and explanations of techniques and what she achieved with various techniques and approaches. For example on her Mother Nature quilt she tells about "Using the technique of free-motion embroidery on the machine has allowed me to introduce texture on the tree trunks."

Noriko has created an art book that is also a learning tool for all who delve inside it. Linda Teufel mentioned that she is interested in offering a copy of Confetti Naturescapes as a giveaway to a lucky winner. If you're interested in trying your luck, please leave a comment and we'll draw a winner on February 1.

Just talking about these books has brightened my day, maybe that's what brought the sun out! I do hope you are all having a blessed and creative 2011! I'm writing this line at 1:11 on 1-11-11. A once in a lifetime moment -- but isn't every moment once in a lifetime?

Books are available through AQS, Amazon, or Dragon Threads.