Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Life is Like a Box of Chocolates: A Sampler Quilt

"Life is Like a Box of Chocolates," 53" x 53", Made by Pam Geisel, 2014

A modern interpretation of a sampler quilt, this art quilt, "Life is Like a Box of Chocolates," began life as a sampler quilt. It was quilted with a tight, angular free-motion quilting and then it was cut apart into 81 5”x5” squares.

I then pieced the large Nine-Patch background using two alternating navy blue pieces of fabric that I over-dyed to make them even darker. The strips that make the # shape used to be the original pieced border that I cut in half length-wise. I basted and quilted this part.

Next I arranged the 81 squares into nine Nine-Patch blocks forming a Nine-Patch made up of nine Nine-Patch blocks (kind of like a Suduko puzzle). The edges were left raw with some of the batting exposed and they were machine applique/quilted to the background.

I find the more I look at this quilt, the more my brain tries to reassemble the sampler blocks. Some of the original quilt blocks were Bear’s Paw, Jacob’s Ladder, Log Cabin, and Path Through the Woods. Can you see them?

I named this quilt because it's a play on a chocolate "Sampler" box and it kind of looks like little quilted candies arranged inside a box.

More about Life is Like a Box of Chocolates

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Two pastel batik quilts: Pinwheel Elephants and Pastel Pinwheels

"Pinwheel Elephants," 20" x 20", made by Pam Geisel, Oct. 2014

I'm not really a big fan of pastel fabric, but when I found this lovely pastel batiks, I fell in love, especially with the batik elephants and giraffes.

"Pinwheel Elephants" detail

It's quilted stitch-in-the-ditch and also has some curved quilting on the pinwheels, with warm-colored buttons on the pink and orange pinwheels and cool-colored buttons on the green and blue colored pinwheels. Yes, I really like pinwheel blocks.

- - -

I actually made two wall hangings using this fabric, although the second quilt doesn't have the elephant and giraffe fabric in it.

"Pastel Pinwheels," 22" x 29", made by Pam Geisel, Oct. 2014

"Pastel Pinwheels" is also quilted stitch-in-the-ditch and has very small blue buttons at the center of the pinwheels.

"Pastel Pinwheels" detail

I believe a Pinwheel block turned on point is technically called "Windmill" block but it just doesn't have the alliteration with the word "Pastel" that I wanted for the title.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Art & Soul art show this Sat, Nov. 15 in Yellow Springs

Art & Soul, features 30 exceptional artists who “put their souls into making art.” The show is this Sat., Nov. 15 from 10 am-5 pm. It will be in the Mills Lawn School Gym, 200 S. Walnut St. in Yellow Springs, just one block from the Xenia Ave. There's plenty of free parking in town and also in the lot behind the school.

There is a $3 admission fee, a portion of which will go to the Yellow Springs Schools and the Yellow Springs Police Coat Fund.

You can find photos and bios of all the artists participating on the Art & Soul Facebook page (and you don't have to have a Facebook account to view the page).

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Daybreak is Your Midnight

"Daybreak is Your Midnight," 35.5" x 36", made by Pam Geisel, 2014

This art quilt began it's life as a completely different idea that I'd already purchased the hand-dyed fabric for. My test samples for the original idea just weren't working so I decided to create something using the 8-steps of gray and 6-steps of brown fabric that were purchased as fat eighths (9" x 22").

I decided to do something similar to my "Early Morning Nine Patch" and "Four Patch Bridge at Sunset" but without a representational object. I like the five-column format on these two art quilts, so I started by calculating how many 1" (finished size) strips of each fabric I would have to figure out how high the quilt would be.

Since I would be able to cut more than 5 strips from each fabric (to have 1 per column), I decided to change the pattern to this:

1 - 2 - 1 - 2 - 3 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 5 - 6

By doing this it would also make the quilt 2.5 times taller than if I just went 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6. I did have to print out a sheet with the steps on it to reference while I was pieceing, so I would get the right strip in the right place.

Next I did some sample layouts on the computer:

 With the darker strips at the top and the bottom.

With the darker strips at the bottom. 

With the 2nd and 4th columns inverted. 

With the middle column inverted and the meeting points staggered.

Now it was time to piece!

I added two inset pieces to each of the 180 horizontal strips, with one of insets being one step darker and one being one step lighter. I did this to add visual texture.

To add just a pop of color, I added a thin strip of maroon fabric with a small inset piece of turquoise fabric where the brown and gray fabrics met. To keep everything lined up, the darker piece next to the maroon pieces is thinner than the other horizontal pieces. I also added a variegated yarn couched between the five columns.

I machine quilted sticth-in-the-ditch to hold it all together and used a knife-edge binding. The final step was to add the three large hand-quilted circles comprised of five ripples each. I really wanted this to stand out so I used a thick embroidery thread. There were some places where I was sewing through as many as six layers of fabric, so I kept my needlenose pliers nearby to help pull the needle through.

In order to keep the shape of the circle, I created circles made of dotted lines on my computer at the sizes I wanted them. I tile printed them onto letter-size card stock then taped the card stock together. I hand quilted the largest circles first, cut away the template to the next sized circle then quilted it. I tried to keep the stitches the same width as the dotted lines to keep everything consistent.

More about Daybreak is Your Midnight

Monday, November 3, 2014

Lavender Diamonds

"Lavender Diamonds," 68" x 68", made by Pam Geisel in 2014

“Lavender Diamonds” is a traditional “Broken Star” (a version of a “Lone Star”) but created in a non-traditional way, and cropped differently.

Instead of being pieced, it is fused with hand-dyed fabric. Each of the 560 diamonds is made up of 6 to 8 pieces of similarly colored fabric. By the end, every time I closed my eyes I saw diamond shapes.

There’s a “swoosh” that goes across the middle where the same color family is used but the pieces are darker and is outlined by couched black thread. Where the swoosh goes through the negative space there are fused pieces of gray, black, dark green, and dark blue fabrics.

The black negative spaces have thin strips of black fabric fused in them and they are framed by the same maroon fabric that I used as the inner border.

My original idea for the quilting was to quilt in a spiral, but I wasn’t sure I’d be able to sew down enough of the pieces, since even though they were fused, they weren’t very good about staying put, especially when I had to fold and roll the quilt in order to quilt it. My second idea was some sort of fractured pattern, but I had the same concern. The night before I was going to start, just as I was falling asleep, I thought I could do quilting lines that were 1/4" apart and echo the design element in the center of the quilt (where the colors are darker). By the end of this time, every time I closed my eyes I saw quilting lines 1/4" apart.

Edited to add this quilt won "Honorable Mention" in the Large Quilts - Home Machine Quilted category at the American Quilter's Society show at the Lancaster QuiltWeek in March 2015. The list of winners can be seen here.

More about Lavender Diamonds