Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Vintage Fan Quilt Top

I finished the top that I blogged about yesterday!


These were a stack of vintage, hand sewn blocks I picked up at a second hand store, they are very folksy (wonky, uneven, funky - not sewn perfectly at all), and I love them.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Even More Vintage Fabrics!

I think it's safe to say that sewing with vintage fabrics is kind of a "thing" for me. I find myself looking for vintage fabrics wherever I go, and I recently brought home even more vintage fabrics while on vacation!

We drove down south a few weeks ago through Missouri, and I stopped at an antique shop in Branson. This particular shop loved to package fabric in large plastic bags stapled closed at the top (with like 25 staples per bag). In order to see what's in the bag, I had to smoosh the fabric all around just to get a little peek and guess what was inside!

Inside one bag was a totally fabulous apron.

I am head over heels over this fabric! Not only do I love the orange/yellow/green/black/white color combination, but the mid-century city print is fabulous!

Oh, how I wish I had yards and yards of this fabric! For now the apron is brightening up my dull little ironing corner.

Another bag contained a bunch of super scrappy grandmothers fan blocks, I started going through them all Sunday night. I love the different fabrics in these blocks! Unfortunately, they were sewn together in such a wonky way that I had to really cut them down to get them all to a uniform block size - and I should have taken some before pictures, oops!

Many were sewn together in what looked like they should have been 5 1/2" squares, except that the maker shorted the fabric pieces on almost all of the blocks, some seemed to be missing a fan blade on one side or the other, and some were short on the background fabrics. No matter - they all cut down to a nice 4 1/2" size and I ended up with about 92 blocks. After cutting down the blocks I started to lay them out, got totally excited about them and started sewing them together. Woo-hoo!

Well, yeah, there are other things I should be working on...but haven't you run across a project that you just HAD to stitch up immediately? Yes? Am I crazy?

After yesterday I'm about 1/3 of the way finished, and I LOVE this quilt! I have no idea what I'm going to do with it, and Fidget already tried to stake a claim on this one! I think it reminds me of those crazy afghan blankets that have the granny squares made of all different colors of yarn and is bordered by black. I thought since these squares were all so vibrant, different, and folksy, bordering them all in a black grid would add some order and give them each a little space so you can really "see" what's going on.

Going back to sew some more on this quilt right now, and I'll share more photos when the top is finished. Oh, and I still have three more plastic bags of vintage fabric to go through, one looks like some leaf quilt blocks, one seems to be a handful of churn dash blocks, and the last is a jumble of vintage scraps. But for right now it's back to finish the vintage folksy fan quilt!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Fidget's First Service Project

I'm currently helping Fidget's Pre-K teacher with a service project that involves all of the children (and is Fidget's first charity quilt!). All of the Pre-K kids drew designs on white squares of fabric with brightly colored fabric markers, and these are being stitched into crib sized charity quilts. Here's one top that I just finished on my ironing board.

Great looking drawings, right?

The squares with the drawings end up being 10" in the quilt, the sashing between the pictures is 1" strips, and the border ends up being about 2" wide. So, the finished quilt is just about 36ish X 45ish inches.

The kids colored enough squares to make 5 quilts in total! Each quilt has a different color theme to pull it all together. I'm currently stitching together the orange quilt top.

I finished the first one a few weeks ago with a bright bubble-gum pink color - it's hanging in the school right now. So, I have the dark pink, orange, blue and green to finish up next.

We'll be donating these quilts through Project Night Night to a local shelter in our area that serves children, and all the kids in Fidget's class are excited to see there drawings going to help other children.

I have a whole lot of other projects brewing in the background, but I just need to finish all of these before moving on to the next thing!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Color Study Assignment #1: The Color Wheel

I finished my first color study with fabric assignment, making a red-yellow-blue color wheel (finished size 18" high x 27" tall). Since there was space to fill at the side of the color wheel, I added a few sets of colors; the primary colors at top, followed by the secondary colors, and two rows of tertiary colors on the bottom. In this color system, the primary set of three colors (red, yellow and blue) are mixed together in pairs to make the secondary set of colors; red + yellow = orange, yellow + blue = green, and blue + red = violet. The tertiary colors are made by mixing one primary with one secondary; red + orange = red-orange, yellow + green = yellow-green, ect.

This assignment had more than one purpose, but the most obvious one was to help identify the true hues of the color wheel in fabrics. (See how I found and matched the true hues here.) Now that it's all finished, there's lots more to see in the wheel. For instance, discovering relationships between colors - like the colors that are exactly opposite each other around the wheel which are called complimentary colors. These colors appear bright and more intense when placed next to each other, and can make for energetic combinations!

I've been playing around with artist's color wheel next to my fabric color wheel - have you seen one yet? It is an awesome tool for helping to explore different color combinations around the wheel. (Find one at any art supply store, or your local quilt store might even carry these.)

The center of the artist's color wheel shows the most popular combinations around the wheel, such as complimentary right there in the center, pointing to opposite colors across the wheel.

The wheel also turns, so you can spin it around to explore different color combinations. Cool, right? It's been awesome to be able to play with the artist's color wheel right next to the fabric color wheel!

The fabric color wheel has a home in my sewing space right next to where I sew - so I can use it as a reference when I'm thinking about color. And it doesn't hurt that it's also bright and colorful!

The next color study assignment is working with the colors in the color wheel to explore both value and proportion. It is an assignment that looks really interesting and should be FUN to translate to working with fabrics! I'll keep you posted, and if you're interested in learning more about color too, here's some of my favorite analog resources. I haven't explored much about color theory on the web, so if you know of some good online resources please leave a comment with links to share!

The Color Star by Johannes Itten, an elaborate set of cut out windows and color wheel, designed to help you visualize harmonic color combinations from two up through six tones.

Interaction of Color by Josef Albers is my favorite color study book, full of valuable exercises to help you see color in a new way.

The Elements of Color by Johannes Itten is an abbreviated version of the rather daunting volume The Art of Color, and includes some important ideas about color.

Color Workbook by Becky Koenig is an excellent resource in color study, great if you can find a used copy as the current 4th edition is pretty pricey brand new.

A Fiber Artist's Guide to Color & Design by Heather Thomas is a relatively new book, a good resource for learning the basics of color theory as it applies to quilting. There are a series of "workshops" in the book designed to give you hands-on learning with fabric and color.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Making a Fabric Color Wheel

I'm working on my first Color Study assignment, creating a color wheel from fabrics. This is an exercise in learning to recognize the basic hues in the color wheel, and also in fabric.

The color wheel is an illustration of the spectrum displayed as pie pieces of color, all in color-order around the wheel. There are actually more than one type of color system that can be displayed as a color wheel. Since I am most familiar with the color system that artists use (think of mixing paint colors), I am using the Red, Yellow, Blue (or RYB) color wheel.

In terms of color study, HUE refers to the pure spectrum of colors that we know by common names (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet). Sometimes these basic hues are referred to as "true" colors, like a true red, or a true green.

Now here is where this assignment gets interesting! You might think you know what a true red or true green looks like, but can you really pick one out from other similar colors? I don't think I'd know the exact blue hue from one that might have a little red added - or even a blue that might be lighter or darker that a true blue. And, how does one find a true hue, anyway?

One was is to use Color Aid cards. Color Aid manufactures special colored papers that include information about the specific color on the back of the paper. Check it out in the photo above, the code on the back of the card is BG - HUE, and stands for blue-green color, true hue. I've pulled the entire spectrum of true hues for the fabric color wheel from my set of Color Aid papers.

Armed with my true hues, I spent an entire day hunting for fabrics! I found a few already in my stash, a few more while thrifting, and the last of my colors I found at the fabric shop.

I spent the week working on piecing the color wheel - first I tried to make a pattern for the pie shaped pieces, but then realized I'd get sharper points if I paper pieced the pattern. The paper piecing worked much better!

I had some space to fill next to the color wheel, so I added sets of the primary, secondary, and tertiary colors. It's looking pretty good, and I'm excited about being able to hang the color wheel up in my studio to remind me of the true hues.
All I have left is to bind it! More photos when the wheel is all finished!