Tuesday, March 25, 2014

more Dorothy's Snappy 9 Patches

Marny here…following your requests, here is a link for a printable 2 page pdf of Directions for Dorothy's Snappy 9 Patches written and illustrated by Mary Beth.  We want to thank Mary Beth and Dorothy again for permitting us to share the clever illustrations and the timesaving technique.  Jill discussed the steps in more detail accompanied by pictures in the previous post.

More 9 Patches for the donation quilt.

Now two reminders.  First, described last post but a visual reminder here.

Sounds like fun!  
Next, we want to share an exciting event our Des Moines Modern Quilt Guild has to offer.  Here is a link to the guild site post.  We are having a Trunk Show and Workshop with Amanda Jean Nyberg of Crazy Mom Quilts and author of Sunday Morning Quilts, April 11 & 12.  Check your calendars, check out the guild post and get yourself counted if you are interested.  

Till Tuesday…

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Dorothy's Snappy Nine Patches

jill here....Marny and I are members of Quilters By Design, a group that was started from a week(s) of quilt camp in Chicago nearly 10 years ago.  We now meet annually for a retreat in the spring (and other times for some, depending on time and location).  The personnel and retreat accommodations of the Loretto Center in Wheaton, Illinois have been kind to us.  We have offered, in gratitude, a donation quilt for their annual auction. Preparations for next year's auction are in the works; we are assigned the nine patch block.  

The quilt's unifying factor is a collection of print fabrics:"Mendi" designed by Funquilts for Free Spirit.  Our charge is to add complementary solids or near solids to make these blocks.  Mary Beth, our very creative illustrator has graciously shared her rendition of Dorothy's nine patch version.

Dorothy is truly a character who adds much levity to our group.  It seems that most of her sewing and creations are given as gifts.  Her comments are known as "Dorothyisms".  Mary Beth and Dorothy have given us permission to share this recipe.  It's fun and allows one to produce many blocks quickly!

Nine inch strips cut into squares.

A variety of  colors in shot cottons were paired with the prints

Right sides together, each pair was sewn on two sides.

The square was sliced into thirds and matched up.

Once sewn, the seams were pressed open.

Squared up, right sides together, the opposite block was seamed
across the pieced ends.

Cut again into thirds, the middle strips were sewn to the
appropriate side of the blocks.

And in a snap, you have 2 blocks per combination! 

Dorothy, this is a good method to remember!  Many thanks!

On another note,  we received a message from our former co-worker Jan. She is now associated with the museums at Iowa State University and would like us to share information on a textiles event.  Sometimes we forget that we have a wonderful resource in our own back yard!  Looks like fun and fabric...what can be better!

'Till next Tuesday.....

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The value of fabric choices

Marny here…we strive to provide depth and focus in our quilts through the use of color and value.  It makes our quilts a bit more special and adds a taste of the unexpected…yes, we've discussed this before, but it really is the first step we go through when auditioning fabrics for our new pattern ideas.   The Spring Quilt Market is just around the corner, so join in our process for a bit.
Here is a grouping of eight fabrics.  There are seven folded and they are lying on the eighth.    It is good to see that a variety of textures and scales and patterns are represented.  See Step 1.

Steps we use for auditioning fabric for specific spots within a quilt.
  1. Recognize which fabrics work together well looking at color, scale, intensity, value and pattern.
  2. Sort by value, that is, sort from light to dark.  You may need to do this for all the fabrics overall and again within color families depending on your pattern.  Almost all quilts benefit from a range of values being represented.  I used the black and white effect in iPhoto to easily show the range of values among my fabrics.  (You can also step back and squint, use a viewfinder on a camera, or a "ruby beholder" if you have one.  I've heard the little "eye" you stick in a door to see who is knocking also works.  Using iPhoto was just my method.)
  3. Make sure any desired effects, like transparency, are possible with your chosen fabrics.
  4. Make sure the focus is understandable and/or the pieced shapes you want to be seen are noticeable. 
  5. All that being said, there should be some energy and excitement among the fabric, design and quilting or the end product will be too bland or boring. 

Proof there is also a wide range of values from light to dark here.  
Also part of Step 1.  

The fabrics are arranged from the lightest to the darkest. (Step 2)  The solid creamy yellow background is underneath.  Right from the get go it is easy to see the values of the background and the folded light green solid shot cotton are too similar to be used side by side effectively.  

The dotted fabric at the lower edge of the photo is darker in places than the solid light green, but unfolded it appears lighter on the design wall.  There are large areas of cream in its overall pattern.

If you are in a quilt store you can line up your bolts from dark to light on a table, cart or even the floor to get an idea if you are on the right path. 

These photos represent checking for effective transparency in the intersection.  A vertical band of dark valued teal and a light valued horizontal band of green intersect with one another.  The intersecting fabric does share color characteristics of both the other fabrics so intellectually it seems like a good intersection.  But the values of the dark teal and the intersection print are just a bit too close to one another for a transparent effect to work for the planned design.

The green horizontal has remained, but a medium dark valued vertical teal and a darker valued print with green have been substituted.  It is believable.  Not necessarily what we'd hoped for, but it works.

Then the medium dark textured tries its turn as the intersection and the darker print becomes the vertical.  Now the horizontals seem too close in value.  

This illustrates too much competition between prints,
 distracting from the intersection concept.

(Step 4)  This is a great Joel Dewberry fabric that we wanted to use in pretty big pieces.  As much as we like this fabric and how it looked cut up (awesome) it didn't give us the focus we needed in our design.  Its overall print did not stand up against the graphic lines and intersections that were planned for the rest of the quilt.  Hopefully it will find its own special home on a quilt in the near future.

So Step 5.  Kind of tricky to give any guidance on this one, bland and boring is in the eye of the beholder.  Go with your instincts, it is you quilt afterall!  Just keep the thought that sometimes your least favorite fabric is the one that gives life to the quilt, or the unplanned juxtaposition of two fabrics you were sure wouldn't work adds some energy, or a turned block lights the quilt up, or whatever.  Surprises are sometimes the best part of quilt making.

Till Tuesday…

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Chevron Triangle Process Continues

jill here....While Marny makes decisions on her chevron/triangles I explored the chevrons utilizing all quarter square triangles.  I didn't have the scraps so I started with squares in a "controlled scrappy" version.  If you start with a square, you will need to add 1.25" to the desired finished size for the seam allowences.  OR,  you can start with an easy square measurement ( 6.5" because my ruler was that wide) and I will take whatever size that generates!  This is an exploration, not perfection.  I cut the squares in four values.  2 dark patterns (total of 4 squares each), 2 medium patterns (4 of each), 2 medium-lights ( 4 of each) and 1 light valued background (8 squares).

I paired the 8 light backgrounds with 4 mediums and 4 medium lights.
I paired the 8 darks with the remaining mediums and medium lights.

Placing right sides together, I marked the squares diagonally and sewed 1/4" away from both sides of the mark.  Just like in Marny's tutorial, I chain stitched the blocks then cut on the line and pressed.

I placed the completed half square triangle blocks directly on top of the opposite values, always keeping the darkest value on top of the medium or medium light value.  That way the darkest value would  never be directly next to the lightest.  I marked the diagonal, crossing the seam line and chain sewed on both sides of the drawn line, cut on the line and pressed.

These are 2 of the blocks with mirror images of the four values.
On to their placement...

Okay, I admit it was not what I was looking for but there must be a way to create another type of chevron!

So I staggered the blocks and continued the mid-block stagger.  They are not sewn so look a little rough but the dark and light chevron emerges.  With a bit more planning, some secondary patterns might also emerge...So my next question:  how do I make it modern?  I have some ideas but I'd appreciate any input.

Love to hear from you.  Otherwise, 'till next Tuesday...