A short history of modern quilting, plotting and suggestions needed for baby loot.

{Hawaiian circle skirt!}
June 2, 2011
{army green and turquoise}
June 3, 2011
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A short history of modern quilting, plotting and suggestions needed for baby loot.

quiltfabrics_thumb2

Greetings you orange-skirt loving penguins! I’ll admit to having a slight bias towards the orange skirt when I hit publish on my last post, but I did NOT anticipate such overwhelming support for the pencil skirt! Lucky for all penguins and fellow avian-kind, I worked on TWO MORE of those skirts yesterday (of course, neither is finished.) And then I got distracted… Mr. Bug and I are headed north for a wedding at the end of June and I realized that I really want to make a QUILT as a gift!

Now… I’ve made a number of quilts over the years, but they aren’t my favorite thing. The stress of choosing the right fabrics and FORCING myself to pick some ugly ones so my quilts don’t look like a boring mish mash is eclipsed only be the tedium of all that cutting and sewing of straight lines. And math. And that’s before I even get to the truly horrible point of the project where I accidentally attach my unassembled quilt to the carpet with safety pins while trying to get the two layers of fabric to lie smoothly against that freakishly magnetic batting. No, quilts are not my thing! And yet, look at this lovely stack of fabric I picked out anyway… quilt time here I come!

I’m pretty stoked about these fabrics, and here’s why… starting from the bottom I’ve got… a piece of wool that Mr. Bug found for me at Goodwill…green dupioni silk from my stash… green cotton/silk Sateen from local quilt shop, Glad Creations… chocolate flannel polka dots… natural linen… lime green organic cotton with BIRDS from the shop where I work… more organic flannel dots, this time the color is ‘grass’… a few more prints from Glad and Sewtropolis (that’s where I work!)… a few more silk/cotton sateens and a couple of prints from my stash. All topped off with a bit of vintage trim. Just looking at that stack of fabric makes me feel a bit euphoric.

When I last was immersed in quilt-making it was the mid-90’s and batiks and ragtime quilts were the thing. Very country couture. I also seem to remember a stained glass look that was quite popular. Nikol, the owner of the shop where I work, is a mad-quilter and as it turns out, things have changed in the quilting world in the last fifteen years. “Modern quilting” is super popular, and I have to admit to being quite intrigued by the new styles, although I’m sure I’ll still pin my quilt to the floor and want to toss the whole project into our chiminea before it’s fully quilted.

I had heard of the term ‘modern quilting’ before starting to work at the shop, but I just thought it meant, you know, making a quilt right now. Possibly with fabrics that had cartoons on them. Obviously, I hadn’t put a lot of thought into it. The Minneapolis chapter of the Modern Quilt Guild holds their monthly meetings at Sewtropolis and so I’ve been hearing a bit more about this whole modern quilting thing. I even joined the Minneapolis guild’s site and will probably go to meetings when I can – according to Nikol they’re super fun (and free!)

So, turns out modern quilting is NOT about using theme fabric! From looking at quilt blogs and such, I picked up a few main themes that make for ‘modern’ quilts – restyling traditional quilt patterns, lots of negative space, wonky piecing, unique backings and super-fresh colors. NOT country (or cartoon) couture!!

Restyling traditional patterns

For instance, here’s a traditional log cabin quilt, complete with the red centers on the blocks…

logcabin_antique

And here’s a modern take … oops! Looks like those red centers migrated!!

logcabin_wonky

Negative space

Oh, and I mentioned negative space, didn’t I? Let’s take a look at this hexagon quilt. Totally a style I recall – I mean, don’t those terrible corner seams look like a bear to stitch? Who could forget that?

hexagon

Here’s a modern take on a hexagon quilt…

hex2

Wonky wonky

I don’t quite understand the mechanics of it, but let’s talk wonky quilting… First, here’s a house quilt in a style I recall. I’m SURE I made some blocks like this from a ‘learn to piece’ book I had…

And now for the wonky modern take…

house2

Hello, you look better from the back…

One of the coolest details I’ve seen since I’ve started snooping around quilting blogs is the backings! My memories of quilt backs are all centered around complicated match, trying to get as much bang for my buck piecing together the fabric and a giant sense of letdown. My favorite part of quilting (not surprisingly) is piecing. The backs were just tedious, boring, and if making anything larger than a wall hanging, pricey. My biggest innovation was loyalty to flannel-as-backing-fabric to improve the coziness factor. Check out these quilt backs! Not only are they cool LOOKING, they use up extra scraps and aren’t mind numbingly boring to sew!! This totally reminds me of fun garment sewing details like contrast facings, cuffs and bias finishing on seams…

back1  back4back2  back3

 [images Film in the Fridge upper left, upper right, lower left, lower right]

3-2-1 Color!

While this is just as much a shift in the general style over the last 15 years, coupled with the fabulous fabric designers out there, one other detail that has caught my eye while looking at the quilt sites is the use of COLOR!! Here’s a photo of the booth of Laundry Basket Quilts that I snagged from the Bunny Hill Blog. The photo was taken last year, but the palette and style are what ALL the quilt shops looked like when I last ventured into them…

laundrybasket

The colors and designs are lovely, but very traditional, soft and muted. Compare that to this photo I snagged from Tall Grass Prairie Studio of the the Robert Kaufman booth with Modern Quilt Guild Challenge quilts. This photo was taken at Quilt Market which just happened a few weeks ago. Quite a difference from the more traditional Laundry Basket booth, isn’t it?

qm2011

My plan

Alright penguins, my brief intro to modern quilting is now over. If any of you are more well-versed, pipe up in the comments!

While I still like the traditional quilt designs, with all their points and precision and begging for hand-piecing, I want my wedding-gift quilt to be a bit more fresh and appealing to the groom, who I haven’t met. Since I also haven’t met many men who love soft calicos and flying geese, a traditional quilt style didn’t seem quite the thing. Also, I’m already swamped with projects and don’t have the time to piece anything complicated in the next few weeks, so I decided to showcase my fantastic stack of green and brown fabrics in a random-width stringy quilt. This looks easy, doesn’t it??

strip quilts

For the back I’m planning on an offset stacked strip of the prints on a white background… like so.

backjenny

I have some lighter linen for the front. I might do a bit of hand stitching on the linen with darker brown and green perl cotton a la Anna Maria Horner’s upcoming stitchery genius..

running stitch

I also piled on the vintage lace, thinking that I could affix that to one of the strips as well. I only have enough for one strip, at most, but the trim is 3” wide and would add some texture.

Fun, huh?? I won’t subject you to TOO many quilting posts, but I couldn’t resist sharing my euphoria-inducing pile of fabrics!

What’s good for babies??

One question before I sign off… I just got an invite for a baby shower (in TWO WEEKS!) and would like to include something handmade – normally I knit a sweater, but I don’t have the time! We will be also giving the ever-practical Target gift card, but any suggestions for a quick sewing related baby gift I could whip up? It seems that little babies are dressed in some sort of sack-like garment, so clothes sewing doesn’t seem reasonable. Plus, they appear to grow quickly… any help is appreciated! I’m baby-ignorant!

Off I go to save the world… I may be heading out for a last minute running trip to the great state of Iowa this afternoon. Mr. Bug is heading down to do a 20k, and if my last lesson of the day wraps in time, Lucy the hound and I are going along and will return to roadtrip work on my Miette sweater. At least, I will. Lucy will undoubtedly snore her way to Iowa. The car is puppy valium for her! If we miss our ride to Iowa, we’re staying home to sew. It’s a win-win for us!