Category Archives: Quilts

Merry Christmas! Images

The quilts are always fun – but I still find playing with pictures to be very relaxing. A few I was playing with on Christmas day:
After a walk in the woods, I collaged a few together for Christmas – the setting sun over the hills, some of the fascinating ice ripples from the nearly-frozen stream, and a Christmas tree…

This picture is from a 2008 trip to southern Colorado with M’s family – the have a semi-annual jeeping vacation in Ouray, Colorado. It was a fantastic time, and this picture of an abandoned mining shack was just crying out to be played with today.

and finally, the only Christmas portrait I get to take with my sweetheart – a pretend one, aw… Koreans draw smiles in emails like this ^^, happy upward scrunched eyes – I didn’t realize how much I had internalized little things like that – the eyes are smiling, not closed!

Merry Christmas everyone!

Kids Storm at Sea Quilts

I have been playing around with a million variations of the storm at sea quilts – it’s so easy to change a whole quilt around on the computer, so I’ve been testing it out. There are specialty quilt softwares that I’ve looked at, but I can’t imaging that they’re better then a solid grasp of a hugely powerful graphics program like Illustrator or Photoshop – and Photoshop is completely intuitive for me at this point, and I’m rapidly getting better at Illustrator.

I’ll post my just graphic studies of the storm at sea quilts in another post when I figure out what to write about them – but for a stylish glimpse at the results, you can check them out here. Playing with a 5-color palatte and seeing which ones cause the greatest illusion of dancing or motion. :D

But in some ways, graphic patterns can start to look like wallpaper. Which is why I try to build in more layers of meaning with pictures and variations. In these quilts for my kindergarten class, I stuck to color variations to suit each student, as well as their ‘hidden letter’ of their name. With 7 of them, I couldn’t personalize each quite as much as I wished, but I think the overall effect was very good. The kids seemed really excited about them.

Just a quick glance at the kids – there’s also one more boy who isn’t in the pictures. I teach them every day from 12:40-2:40, some of that lunch, so I’ve gotten to know them very well after 10 months, and I’m really fond of them all – they’re a great class. They are Korean age 7 (they all start saying they are 8 after January 1) which means they are about 6 years old, “western age”. All the girls said pink was their favorite color – fortunately they all varied after that. Although if they had ALL realized that “rainbow” could have been a color, that would have been #2 for them all. It was fun to play with the different ways to use pink

Here goes:
Yuliana, pink and yellow. Very smart and sweet girl.

Alex (the boy). :)

Kate was the lucky girl who hadn’t been told yet that rainbow isn’t a color – so pink and rainbow she got! Kate is very social with a hilarious laugh.

Esther gets a blue and pink quilt -

and artsy Amy gets a quilt as bright as I could make it.

Tom is drowning in the girliness of the class, I think, and thoroughly disgusted with girl colors (and their crushes on him). Tom gets a BOY colored quilt… blue, sky blue, brown and black.


And Lucia gets a very pink quilt, and a fancy L.

Alright – can you find the first letter in all of their quilts? I also tried to put in a few all-dark stars to get them looking at that part of the pattern as well, while still keeping the pattern flowing. I printed them off as 8x10s at the LotteMart, and after giving the kids the present, I gave them blank coloring sheets of the patterns to fill in as they wished. :) Success!

Secret Santa Storm at Sea…

Along with the kid’s bright Storm at Sea quilts, I whipped one up for my co-worker Ali – my secret santa for the work gift exchange. Made it much easier to come up with an appreciated <$10 gift... :) I was happy to be working with slightly more grown-up colors, and I got to throw a bit more personalization into it as well. I also get to email her the digital file, so if she wants to ditch the cheap frame and have it reprinted at home, she doesn’t have to worry about luggage.

Picture of friends at DJ Fest This is myself, Ali, her boyfriend Jesse, and Katelyn at DJ Fest this summer – a great time, and a good picture of… all of us, really. :)

Can you find her whole name, the Christmas tree, and little message in there?

Christmas Gifts!

Hey all!  I’ve been working on many quilts lately – but they were all for Christmas presents, so I couldn’t post until after Christmas.  I’ll back-date them so they show up when I was working.  (Merry Christmas!)

My most ambitious quilt project was a sampler/medallion quilt for my parents:

I started with a pattern I saw and loved – from a YouTube PBS video of the Iowa State Fair quilts. That’s a fairly convoluted route to get to my brain, but the pattern seemed pretty unique – I haven’t been able to find a pattern with a formal name. That is the spirals in the middle. They can be made very branch-y as well.

Surrounding the paths pattern (what I’ve been calling it in my head) is a single row of the ocean waves pattern – it’s one of my favorite patterns, I’ve been hoping to do something with it soon. The surrounding border was improvised, no particular pattern.

The remaining patterns are all very traditional – nine-patch, squares on edge, and a flying geese border.

I had a lot of fun getting this quilt worked out and quilted – it took longer then I thought to do such a scrappy quilt, every color and placement was hand-picked and adjusted – that’s a lot of pieces!

Personalizing it for my parents involved using my nine-patch alphabet I made up in the border, a picture in the corner (originally going to be the center of the quilt, but it worked much better where it ended up) and some holiday greetings in the solid borders. Hope you like it, mom and dad!

Subliminal String Cheese Incident

I’m really loving the possibilities of the Morse code quilts – it works in so nicely to a lot of patterns, borders, etc… :) I’ve been loving all the coin quilts on Flickr – especially the more random, one-strip-at-a-time different sizes ones. The differing sizes also makes another convincing place to work in secret morse code communications… I love hidden messages!

I started off with that idea, and without thinking about it too hard, decided to make a quilt about one of my favorite bands, String Cheese Incident. I’ve only been into them for a year or so, but last summer at the Rothbury festival they were AMAZING… (listen here) one of top 3 concert experiences (and I’ve seen a LOT of concerts).   Fire dancers, cirque-du-soleil-type acrobats 60 feet in the air, and beach balls galore – the biggest one more then 30 ft tall!    Craziness, and good songs.

My quilt isn’t as spectactularly exciting as that experience, but instead is reflecting when I listen to them most – right before bed, in my falling asleep playlist.  ”Time Alive” and (ironically) “Wake Up.” are the SCI songs I’ve listened to supposedly 1535 times.  I think the music counter on iTunes is a little messed up – but I’d easily believe a hundred+. So this coins quilt is full of lyrics from “Time Alive.”

Top to bottom, the lyrics I snipped out are:

Time alive, dreams survive
Fly to the sun, return for the fun
SCI (in the middle)
Let it go
Just to be here now
Dancing with friends
The flood of love is here

Nonsensical out of context, but all favorite snippets… :)

The morse code is rather literal – skinny strips for the short, fat for the long, white skinny between letters, dark fat between words. Colors are placed randomly, from a deck of 4 colors (+white, dark, and the background). I could write anything in there… probably will in the future.

The quilting patterns in the background is a 45 degree crosshatch, not overlapping the coins for drama, although the word and letter spaces have quilting in them to tie it down. Eggs around the border, and the SCI logo in the corners and the middle.

The picture I faded into the background is from that epic concert – I made an animation to show how it works, it’ll be in the next post.

Here’s a few other color variations… I had a difficult time deciding on a color scheme for this. Having both white and really dark blocks within the coins made choosing a background tricky – I decided a medium-dark background and a white “shelf” worked nicely.

Retro goodness, and this one reminds me of Scooby Doo too… I’m realizing how much the patterned fabrics added to the quilt up top – I’m not quite ready to go 100% patterns, but they add a playful accent indeed.

Breaking down the layers on my digital quilts

Lacking the functions and materials of a physical quilt means I get to make up new ways to add depth and meaning to the quilts – rather then sitting out in the sun, gaining meaning through usage, I can build in those meanings from the beginnings.

This little gif shows how the layers come together to make the quilt, starting at the full appearance:

First takeaway is the picture overlay – the “age-pattern” of the quilt. It is blurred and reclusive and indistinct, but makes a big difference when it’s not there.

Then the color correction – sometimes with the addition of fabric textures, the original color palatte shifts – this changes it one more time, sometimes dramatically. Contrast can be added in – I always try for a quilt that looks stunning in black and white, too – it means the values in the quilt are effective.

I always add a fabric texture to the quilt – warp and weft – I manufacture the texture myself, starting with a base of woodgrain and manipulating it.

And finally, the base quilt is what I get out of illustrator. In theory, I love the clean look. In practice, all those crisp blocks of colors itch at me to add texture, drama, punch up the colors – I love being able to combine the two.

Here’s how I add the picture/age/specific memory to the piece:

I convert the chosen picture to black and white, highlighting certain areas by manipulating the colors.

I blur the picture outrageously, to be left with indistinct areas of light and shadow.

I melt the picture over the quilt, stopping when it’s still having an impact, without being of more importance then the patchwork pattern itself.

Hopefully that gives you some insight into some of the things I mention on the blog – thanks again for checking these out!

Oh Christmas Tree!

A painted - colored - designed Christmas Tree for my Korean apartment
Someone pointed out that it was christmas tree season – which had completely escaped my mind… decided to do something about it, instant-gratification style – although drawing/coloring/painting a 6×18″ sheet took a little longer then I anticipated – all fun time though. :) Challenging – I have a lot of mediums to work in – watercolors, oil pastels, markers, some random Korean ink, probably for calligraphy – but none of them had a real Christmas tree dark green.

I had a ton of fun thinking of a different pattern for each segment of the tree – not much pre-planning going on, just working as I felt. This would have been much easier as a quilt, in real life – but then I wouldn’t have gotten to create the patterns. Selection isn’t the same as creation (although much faster).

Alright, here it is: Christmas Tree 2010

I’ve been working on a number of Christmas presents – so for obvious reasons, those will be posted after Christmas.

Springtime Christmas Crosses Quilt!

Oh dear – the season is coming. I enjoy Christmas, but I sometimes feel overwhelmed by the red and green and cheeriness everywhere. So I was a little suprised when a quilting doodle on the computer turned into something quite season-appropriate…
A cheerful semi-christmas color palatte and simple patchwork
Maybe a springtime christmas?  The stripes are a little candy-cane-esque, and the entire pattern seems playful and cheerful to me.  I’ve also been playing with red crosses on a different quilt honoring nurses – for all the time I spent on that quilt, this is equally effective.

The pattern I played with after seeing this quilt on etsy; I jumped right in, but the pattern is called officially a bento box.  I rotated and played with the color arrangement – here’s my illustrator screen…Different layouts for a bento box quiltThere’s a lot to play with in the original pattern as well, but I wasn’t enjoying the sharp dislocations on the screen. I feel like it would be softened by slightly uneven seams from hand-sewing, or a less contrasting color scheme.  The bottom middle quilt is my first effort, and the most basic.

The white crosses were a little stark, so I closed the gap with the pinwheel blocks.  The simple block border and addition of a (gasp!) really graphic border fabric enlivened the pattern, so I pulled the red striped fabric into the body of the quilt as well.

Having the simple Illustrator version might help you see what happens after the patchwork is set. In Photoshop, I add a linen-type texture, a photo for meaning and to add some variation in values (this quilt has a picture of my family Christmas tree in 2006), stitching emphasis, and tweak the color values and a number of other settings to get a final quilt I’m pleased with.

A corner from the Christmas Crosses quiltThanks for checking it out!  How do you feel about the red-and-green invasion of the holidays?

(got curious about making it a little bigger- big big bed size – I think the pattern works this way too)

Happy Thanksgiving Quilt!

Happy Thanksgiving! and I am thankful for this year. A little more personal list at the end. The quilt I made thinking of thanksgiving:

A Thanksgiving quiltThe pattern is the triple Irish chain.  I made a double Irish chain quilt with my mom when I was in second grade.  To be honest, I may have sewed very, very little of it – we made it in a quilting class, and I remember roaming the hallways a bit better then sitting at the sewing machine.  Either way, it was the quilt on my bed until well into high school, and I have good memories of it.

I wanted the colors to reflect the fall season, and Thanksgiving itself.  I pulled the outer two rows of color from the pictures from our Thanksgiving ’09 meal (on the right).  The middle row of the chain takes the bright colors from a Valentine’s bouquet (2008, middle).

Source pictures

A simple border of longer strips to finish out the chains and preserve the full white blocks, a simple quilted medallion, and interlocking circles within the chain finish out the quilt.

I use photos to add to the shading of these digital quilts, to add to the personal significance and visual depth.  In this quilt, I used the photo on the left – my boyfriend and I taking a nap after cooking and stuffing ourselves silly at our Thanksgiving for two last year (miiiight be posed).  I’m missing him a lot – even though this quilt is about Thanksgiving, it also ended up being about us – pictures of us, our meals, and a bouquet from M…  perfect. :)

So: my thankful list?  I’m thankful for:

  • For my boyfriend… in every way, and the chance to be with him.
  • For my family – I’m so lucky to have a supportive family backing me.
  • For creativity.
  • For new yoga.
  • For this opportunity to come to a foreign country – new friends and experiences. I quite like being an expat.
  • For the opportunity to have some of the crazy times I didn’t quite get to in college – and realizing they are equally as fun and overrated as they were in my head.
  • For Sasha, my little foster dog, who taught me a ton about animal ownership and friendship and love – in one tiny commitment-free package.
  • For new habits – writing and yoga and thinking more thoroughly.
  • For my students – the chance to look back on so much of my childhood and school through new eyes, the (almost) daily little perks of happy kindegarten children, the interesting things you hear from the older.
  • For this crazy technological age – I can talk to my boyfriend and my parents for free – and anyone in the country.
  • For my ipod touch – best christmas present ever – seriously changed the way I do things – particularly books.
  • For new beginnings, growth, and the opportunity all around us.

And for countless other small hopes, pleasures, and dreams that surround us every day.

Thanksgiving Irish Chain Quilt Detail

Little Fish Quilt

Another classroom doodle that wound its way into a quilt. Probably not a new pattern, but I enjoy the striping and the fishes it suggested. And I had a lot of fun with the border! The last little fish finally breaks free of the herd….
A very simple quilt that suggests fishes

Light and dark blue, light and dark brown, and a light background make a strong diagonal striped impression across the whole quilt. I’d love to create this again sometime, with a scrappier color selection, or times to make patterns for the fabrics.

I’m pretty pleased with the simplicity as it is though… and isn’t this little guy cute?
The escaping little quilt-fish!
(ooo… and the shading hidden-picture is of a shark! from the Denver Aquarium – a very early date with M… <3 )