Tuesday, May 19, 2015

To walk in their shoes

Is it even possible? 

It is not easy to walk in someone's shoes. Neither is to think like someone else but in 2005 in my workshop, 'Inspired by the quilts of Gee's bend' my students and I did just that. I challenged them to make something by re-purposing old clothes that no one wanted. While some students had hard time investing their time is something ugly and old, I decided I will stick to the original plan. I made a trip to our local Goodwill store and bought few clothes.

My rules:
  • tear the clothes - not cut
  • sew without a specific seam allowance
  • when needed use scissors instead of rotary cutter 
  • incorporate materials varying in thickness and fabric content
  • stick to a limited number of clothes to mimic the 'make do' ways of quilting to achieve simple, bold and graphic quilts.  

The idea was to experience what women of Gee's bend would while making a quilt. I tried all of the above elements along with my students.. I made the top by using old, overly worn-out corduroy which felt like a card-board and men's shirts made with blend, rayon and cottons. I tossed in strips of my husband's shirts and my dress to emotionally connect with the piece.

We chose to make the housetop blocks to avoid trimming and wasting as little as possible. To waste pieces of fabrics was not an option. I had also set the limit on how much of each garment we could use and use every last piece to make the most out of what we had.

I ended up with this top. I thought I had achieved my goal really well. I made a quilt top that looked similar to the one in the book. I felt pretty proud of myself for attempting to understand them or to be in the similar mindset of the quilters of Gee's bend.

I thought I understood it completely but not quite. I spent last couple of weeks hand quilting this old top. It was part of my slide show presentation in Ithaca but I wanted to carry it with me as a finished quilt to my next presentation.

The process of hand quilting turned out to be phase two of getting in the mindset of the quilters of Alabama.

My thought process went something like this -

What if winter was approaching and I had nothing to keep us warm?
 I would finish that quilt in a hurry!

Would I worry about the perfection in my stitching?
No time to think about that in low light and late in the night after all day's work.

Would I spend time undoing so they all look perfect?
It was going on a bed not in a show or on a wall in a gallery.

Would I have time to find a quilting pattern suitable to the quilt?
I see plenty patterns all around me to follow.

Would I run to the nearest store that was miles away to find the thread I just ran out while I was in the middle of quilting it?
No.. No!

I would just stitch away at the end of the day, every chance I get, with any thread I had in my box.. I would just finish the quilt.

My theory on all this is  - Learn many things by just doing it.

Here is what I experienced.

Having various materials on the same quilt, my stitches varied all through out. It was so hard to hand quilt that beaten up, old cardboard like corduroy material. I could get somewhat perfect stitching on the finer fabrics like my husband's shirt and my dress but some corduroy with spandex was difficult to needle through.

I do understand those quilters now. The feel of the quilt varies from block to block and it is the warmest and heaviest quilt in the stack of wall quilts. 

In spite of tearing the trips on the grain, they stretched every which way according to their fiber contents.I left the edges as they were and used binding on bias to finish the quilt.

The last thing remained was to see what it would look like if it were to hang on the clothesline in one of the southern states. So I went out this morning and took few pictures.

It's rugged and cozy quilt. If I were to machine quilt this one, it would have broken a few needles.

I was pretty happy that the quilt was ready in time for my presentation at Calico Cutters Guild last Wednesday. It was the guild's first event at the new location in West Chester, PA and what a great experience for me as well. Thank you, Calico Cutters Guild members who made it out there to listen to my talk and see the quilts.

Thank you for reading this post! 

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Workshop in Ithaca

Oh what fun that was!

I truly enjoyed giving the talk/presentation at the Tompkins County Guild in Ithaca, NY.
The guild members were very warm and welcoming. Talk about a full circle! This was my first official talk after being an author which ended up in a town I had called my first home in 1986. 
It was an experience I will never forget.

I have designed this two day workshop so that my students get the most out of their class time. I taught variety of blocks from my book and all the ins and out of making free-form blocks.

Linda had decided she was going to make a little top out of all her blocks.

Tracy was going to go home and figure out what direction these blocks would go. I love her blues!!!

They were busy!

There were some subtle and calm colors and players...and there were some definite wild and funky fabrics.. every one was fun to have in the classroom.

Running out of fabrics was not an option for some :-)

They were willing to try the 'wonky' for the first time and as many times to get it perfectly imperfect!!!

Some of them were not afraid of going their own way! I admired that so much!


At the end of the second day, we were all smiling, making plans to see each other again!

Thank you all for your warm welcome! You made it so much fun and made me realize how much I have missed teaching. I could do this all the time! I am looking forward to my next workshop in July in Maryland at MAQ.

Tomorrow, I will be at the Calico Cutters Guild in West Chester for a presentation and a trunk show. If you are in the area, I hope to see you there.

Meanwhile, every chance I get between here and there, I have been adding some texture to my Square in Square quilt. Already halfway there and loving every stitch!

and, finished this quilt after it was made in 2005!

I will write more about them soon.

Have a wonderful week!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Last One of the Bunch

I had every intention of quilting this little top before I sent out all the quilts to C&T Publishing for the in-house photography but that just did not happen.

I have been hand stitching a lot lately. If I don't have hand work in the evenings, I miss it. Winding down while 'Watching' tv is just not the same.

It is far from perfect, just the way I like it. No two triangles are the same in spite of being made from a stack. These free-form blocks are pretty cool!

It must be my publisher's favorite quilt since it made it in two of the chapters in my book. It is one of the reasons why I chose to teach Hourglass Twist class at MAQ. Some of the blocks from this technique land themselves into more than one quilt. The possibilities are endless and I can not wait for my students to explore more. 

It has not found it's permanent home yet. I am still wondering what to call it.

Movement, texture and contrast all in one - It packs a lot of punch for it's size.

It would be an Amish quilt if the HSTs were precise.

It would be an Indian ralli quilt if it had borders and some reverse applique added to it. 

It is somewhat close to perfect to be a Gee's bend quilt.

But it reminds me of all three cultures. I am calling it The Red Quilt. 

I finished it with freehand, organic hand quilting using Valdani silk thread.

If you would like to read about my classes, please visit earlier posts. 
I am ready for some piecing fun.

I hope you all are having a great week!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

A finish!

It was back in summer of 2012 when I started this quilt. My first post said, ''I will have what she is having''. Click here to read about it.
It took me almost three years to finish this quilt! My plan was to finish hand quilting before going to India and have the binding ready so I had something mindless to work on after coming back.  But as they say, plans don't always work out... I did not get to it until the middle of March. 

I am extremely happy the way it turned out. It is warm and soft and quite colorful as you can see. Makes me think of spring and summer even though the lawn is looking quite wintery.

Painted Zigzag is entirely made with women's clothing from the Goodwill store. I liked the challenge of making something bright and beautiful with used clothing. It was fun seeing those prints together. Each block was like a new quilt. Once the blocks were finished it was even more fun to arrange them on the design wall and work on the layout. I chose to keep all the backgrounds in blocks.

What's this picture doing here? I will tell you about it at the end of this post.

Moving along with Painted Zigzag...

I hand quilted it with Valdani Variegated Pearl Cotton threads I bought when I was in Houston. They were a dream to work with. Went through the layers like butter.

I stayed with the obvious lines of the zigzag pattern. Seams were pressed toward the darker fabrics so it made sense to quilt on the lighter zigzag. At some point, when I had basted this quilt, I was thinking of machine quilting but, what can I say? I am a chicken when it comes to quilting a huge quilt on the machine. My shoulders just don't care for all that stress but if every evening I hand quilt a little at a time, at some point it gets done.

On March 20th when it snowed, at first I was thinking NO!!! But there was just enough snow on the ground to make me run out and use that clothesline again.

Can you see the binding? I ended up using all the leftover bindings for this quilt. I like how it extends the scrappy-ness of the quilt.

For the back, I used up some of my pink fabrics.. I am generally not a pink person but had enough to put a queen size backing together! I must have liked them at some point.

 And now on to another news..and about that picture...

I taught a class at Burkholders Fabrics yesterday. Windmill is one of my favorite quilts from the book. I took plenty of samples to show my students. 

I have taught this pattern few times before but this was my first time teaching a class after becoming an author. As an instructor, it is always refreshing to see work in progress by students and watching them enjoy making the blocks. It was nice to meet everyone from central New Jersey to Harrisburg and places in between. Victoria from The Silly BooDilly was also in the class. I am looking forward to their quilts.

I answered many questions regarding my fabric selections and inspirations. How I see myself as a quilter and what I expect from myself as a quilter. It was fun chatting with each and every one of them. 

Here are few more dates and places I will be presenting and/or teaching a class in 2015.
1 May - I will be speaking at Tompkins County Quilters Guild in Ithaca, NY and also teaching a two day workshop. If you live near Ithaca, I hope to see you there. I will have lots of quilts with me.

13 May - Presentation at Calico Cutters Guild in West Chester, PA

I will be also speaking  and teaching three classes at Mid Appalachian Quilt Conference at Mount St. Mary's University in Emmitsburg, Maryland. I blogged about it earlier. If you missed it, please click on the link.

10 July - Presentation
10 July - Workshop - Windmill 
11 July - Workshop - Hourglass Twist
12 July - Workshop - Peppermint Pinwheels

14 August - Presentation - Thimble and Thread Quilt Guild of Greater St. Louis
15 August - Workshop - Thimble and Thread Quilt Guild of Greater St. Louis

13 October -  Presentation at Brandywine Valley Quilters, Concordville, PA

Phew! This was a long three posts in one!

Have a great weekend with family and friends.

Kavita is coming home this weekend... I am excited!


Friday, March 27, 2015

Diane's quilt and Windmill class at Burkholders

Last night I received a lovely email from Diane Fulton from Wisconsin. She used the silk solids and pieces of Indian prints from her stash.
She writes, ''It was definitely a departure for me, but I sure had fun!  I'm not done with the book yet, I have a few other things in mind.''

Thank you, Diane for sharing your quilt!

I love her color choices. I think the bright solids and dark backgrounds play well together, don't you? Diane did quite the fusion with Indian prints and African colors.
''Triangles'' Quilt made by Diane Fulton inspired from Cultural Fusion Quilts

If you have a quilt you are working on from my book and would like to share, please send me an email. I will be happy to post it here or on Cultural Fusion Quilts blog. If you would like to be blog about it yourself, even for a post, I will be happy to send an invite. You can write about your process. I would prefer to hear about it in your own words. 

I also wanted to let you all know, I will be teaching a class at Burkholders fabrics on Wednesday, 1st April. This is my first class since the release of the book. It is going to be held at the Cocalico Quilter's Inn.  Come join me!!!

There are few spots left, if you are interested, please click on the link and click on classes.

Thank you all for reading the post from yesterday. It meant a lot to me.