Going in Circles (It’s a Good Thing)

by Christine Barnes

Have you ever searched for something (typically without success) and in the process found things you’ve been looking for for ages??? That’s what happened to me earlier this week, when I unearthed a number of experiments and leftovers from different projects. Many were circles blocks, which makes sense because I’ve made seven—yes, seven—circles quilts. Sigh, I just can’t seem to resist!

I teach three circles workshops, the most popular one being shadowed circles on background triangles. In the examples below I used a Kaffe print on a background of Gelato ombré triangles. The triangles in each block were cut from different areas of the same ombré. That’s the magic of the Gelato ombrés, with their shifting colors and values.Different backgrounds really bring out the different colors in the circle.I first started pairing Kaffe prints and Gelato ombrés for “Sassy Circles II.” (It’s now a pattern; email me for info.)A few years ago I was appliqueing Kaffe circles onto Kaffe shot cottons (in the lower left) and Caryl Bryer Fallert ombrés (upper right). I loved, loved the ethereal quality of her ombrés. And after a trip to New York City, I just had to make a modern circle on a background of gray Painter’s Palette and white Grunge.By then it was clear to me that I had a bad case of “circle fever.” If you recall my “Pop Beads” quilt from our 2015 retreat, you’ll recognize this block made of Peppered Cotton solids and neutral prints. I made more colorful blocks for the quilt, but I sure had fun piecing the background for this block. Circles quilts have a lovely bonus—leftovers. The four triangles below were cut from scraps of the ombré border fabric I used in my Elegant Circles quilt. (Scroll through the Gallery to see the quilt.) Now I want to make yet another circles quilt using four triangles for each block background, and perhaps aboriginal prints for the circles.I’ve kept the bonus circles (the fabric cut away from the back of the quilt) for future projects. I think it’s time to put them to good use. I’d like to play with more pieced circles; these have been pressed over freezer-paper circles.I made my “Transparent Circles” quilt out of shot cottons and Marcia Derse prints. (I’ll be teaching this quilt in Santa Cruz next month.) Because the shot cottons are rather loosely woven, it’s easy to align the seams in the circles with the seams in the background.And finally, my students continue to amaze me with the circles they create. Here are two examples from my visit to the Friendship Quilters of San Diego. Many thanks, ladies!Big blooms really lend themselves to circles:Circles spill over into the rest of my life, too. Heidi gave me this gorgeous shawl several years ago, and every time I wear it I get compliments. (Merci, Heidi!) Let’s see . . . how can I make this into a quilt?I treated myself to this shawl from “The Great Put On” in Mendocino, CA, where you’ll find wonderful wearables.Hey, I challenge you to consider circles for a future quilt. They are highly addictive, and they work with so many different kinds of prints. Did I ever find what I was originally looking for? Nope, but I’ll search again and probably discover new old treasures. See you next month, when I’ll unveil my “Gypsy Wife” quilt.

p.s. My Zephyr workshop is full, but get in touch with me (cebarnes@sbcglobal.net)  if you’d like to be on the waiting list.

 

 

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‘Tis the Season to Be Busy

by Christine Barnes

20-david-artSeasonal greetings, friends and followers! As I sit here in my living room, wearing my cozy slippers and watching the crackling fire, I wonder what to share during this crazy busy season. I had in mind a preview of my latest quilt project, but I usually take my photos outdoors, in wonderful natural light, and that hasn’t been an option for at least a week. We have been soaked by a series of strong storms, and my outdoor “photo studio” (really just a flat surface on my deck) is very soggy. Next time.

So I decided to tidy up my photo files and discovered some images I’d completely forgotten. Funny how photos seem to multiply if you don’t pay attention. What follows is truly a potpourri. Some are about color, others are just, well, things I liked enough to snap a pic or two. Want to see what caught my eye? Read on . . .

I recently spotted these candles in the SERV booth at the Methodist Church Craft Fair in Nevada City. SERV International is a nonprofit organization that provides clean water, nourishing food, and safe shelter in Africa. The colors of the candles reeled me in—you know how much I love yellow-green. And such a nice balance of warm and cool color. A future palette for a quilt perhaps? (The angels are pretty darn cute, too.)0-candles

I smiled when I came across this photo of the late, great Jeffrey. He was easily bored by quilting, but he did like to hang out with me in my studio. What a slacker!02-jeffy-boredI never tire of solids, and this line-up for a class I was teaching was visually delicious. I call them color canapes.03a-better-squares-of-solids

This is what happens when you pop a mug of hot tea into the freezer to make quick iced tea. These frozen bubbles remind me that science is exquisite, with a beauty that goes beyond anything I could ever create.9-frezzing-tea-bubbles

I seem to like the bird’s-eye view. Below is my one-and-only paper-bead attempt, collected in a glass given to me by a dear friend. I have a Pinterest board on paper and fabric beads that I’m eager to learn from. Soon, I hope. . . .31-paper-beads

Experimenting with Peppered Cottons, to take advantage of the gradation of dark-to-light values in my fave gray ombré. Alas, a table runner that never came to fruition. (You can just see my sketches below the fabrics.)018-icy-gray-ombre-runner

Sigh, another project that has languished in my UFO cubby. Alexander Henry dots and Painted Canvas semi-solids wouldn’t seem like an obvious combination, but that’s why we play around in our fabrics, right?06-alex-dotted-circles-in-squares

My trip to Las Vegas in October was a delight. One student’s arrangement of Gelato ombrés and Kaffe circles was so appealing.024-circles-on-gelato-2-line-up

I also taught Modern Color in Las Vegas, and these two exercises got “extreme extra credit” for using multiple stripes in one Rolling Stone block.26-my-alltime-fave-rolling-stone-lv-stripes

 

28-second-faver-rolling-stone-block-lv-stripesHere’s a transparency mock-up idea that I hope to pursue someday:39-modern-trans-block-plaidAnd here are four of those units, oriented with the light corners toward the center. Once again, my “plaid gene” is active.40-modern-trans-layout-2

A boot block (8 x 8 inches, I believe) made for a friend’s quilt. When Kaffes and Gelatos get together, it’s a party, guaranteed!04-boot-block

I guess I like those colors because here they are in a bowl of Christmas ornaments. Memo to self: next year, get a tree.05-xmas-balles-close-up

With that I leave you to get back to all the tasks of the season. I wish you happy, happy holidays spent with the people you love. And a New Year’s resolution to do and make more of whatever gives you joy!

 

 

 

 

 

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Color, Glorious Color, by Kaffe

by Christine Barnes

A week ago Heidi and I traveled to the San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles, to hear Kaffe Fassett talk about color. We’re both big fans of his fabric, knitting, and needlepoint, and we were excited to see him in person, to say the least. He did not disappoint.

Kaffe was there as part of an exhibit from the collection of The Quilt Museum and Gallery in York, U.K. (The San Jose exhibit runs through July 3, so you have plenty of time to go.) Historical quilts were used as the inspiration for new quilts made from his fabrics. “I like taking traditional quilt ideas,” Kaffe said, “then feeding new fabrics and patterns into them.” We quilters agree!entrance poster

Where does he find color inspiration? In a word, everywhere. Travel, modern art museums, Oriental rugs, patterns of Morocco, china, tile, succulents, fruits and vegetables. He showed a slide of a pot that inspired an intricate sweater design. He loves to see laundry hanging on a line all over the world: “It makes a patchwork of ideas.” And, of course, plants and flowers, like the pansies in this exquisite needlepoint piece:pansy pillow, Kaffe

He’s also a painter, of course, and his paintings show his love of complex pattern.painting by KaffeI tried to be a good reporter, but honestly, he said so many wonderful things that I couldn’t keep up. A few of my favorite quotes:

• “Anything worth doing is worth overdoing.” If you’re familiar with his fabrics, you know that he loves profusions of pattern and color.

• “It’s OK to make things that are ‘show-offey’.”  Heidi and I were rather show-offey ourselves that day, being the only two people wearing garments made in his fabrics. (He commented on both; see our picture farther down.)

• Kaffe delights in “gorgeous, juicy, punchy color.” “I make it up as I go along,” he says.

• Beige is NOT in his palette. Beige-minded people favor quiet colors that “won’t scare the horses.” He has no time for such “good, grown-up taste.”

Do you begin to see how much fun it was to hear him speak? Following the lecture there were questions from the audience. I forgot to ask a question I’ve had for years: Why aren’t there more blue-violet (my fave color) fabrics in his collections? Another time . . . .

Here are a few of the quilts in the exhibit:

This cool little quilt was near the entrance. I love Kaffe Fassett Collective fabrics for many reasons, but it’s the balance of color that makes me so happy. Bits of warm color among cooler colors make a design feel complete, like a “complete protein,” only with color. (These ladies work at the museum. Can’t you imagine this as a New Yorker cartoon? What would the caption be???)

blue triangles, entranceThe Lotus Leaves print in the quilt below has always been one of my favorites, in all the colorways. If you aren’t familiar with Kaffe’s online store, which includes fabrics by Philip Jacobs and Brandon Mably, check out www.gloriouscolor.com 
lotus leaves sized, yesI was so busy chatting that I forgot to read the history of the antique quilt in this pairing. But if you look in the lower left area of this photo, you can see the inspiration for the new quilt. The low-intensity teal shot cotton in the new version really emphasizes the vibrant colors in each group of four units. Of course, extra credit for the pieced “striped” border.
new quilt with slate blue

I love both the old and new versions of this pattern:
old quilt wheelsnew quilt wheelsAnd finally, here we are after the lecture. We thought this would be our only chance to have “our picture taken with Kaffe” (that’s him in the background, signing books.) Yes, yes, we are shameless.Me and Heidi at Kaffe, SJose

I hope hearing some of Kaffe’s thoughts on color will inspire you to keep dreaming and collecting and sewing and quilting. That’s what it did for us, and we came home exhausted from talking about what we had seen and heard, and scheming about our next projects. (Heidi will be showing more pics and sharing her thoughts in her next post.)

 

 

 

Cheers! (And Nice News)

by Christine Barnes

First, we have good news to report on Sandra: no need for surgery. The ortho doc says it will take time, but she is in good spirits and already has a bit of mobility in her left arm. Each of us has seen her, and all things considered, she looks great. So, raise a glass (or in the case below, a vase of my favorite ornaments) to Sandra—keep mending!ornaments 3 copyMe, I’m happily re-organizing my life, starting with my sewing room. It feels SO good to make progress, and in the process I’ve unearthed buried treasure in the form of blocks I had fun making, but haven’t used yet. In no particular order:

For several years I made 20-inch pillows as gifts. This pillow top was supposed to be finished with 4″-wide green velvet borders. The angel fabric in the center came from Heidi’s fabulous fabric store, back in the day.Xmas pillowUsing the same format, I made a woodsy block that I planned to frame. It’s a great format for working with value to create a sense of foreground/background.Woodsy blockLove the rich “lodge” colors of the ombré in this 12-inch block. Add a Kaffe print and a yummy batik . . . Lodge hot patThen there was the Kaleidoscope class taught by Jan Soules at Pine Tree Quilt Guild. I still need that 12-step program for pattern addicts because as you can see, I can’t help myself. This was the first of two blocks I made. I plan to make more, honest.Spider Web, Jan S.As you well know, I love, love the combination of Kaffe stripes and prints with ombrés. This block didn’t make it into my Lustrous Squares II quilt, but I think it has a future as a pillow top. It’s 16″ square.ChardFinally, I’m happy to tell you that my “Swizzle Sticks” quilt, which you saw in various stages, is in the latest issue of American Patchwork & Quilting. Here’s how they styled the shot that went with the article. (Used with permission from American Patchwork & Quilting® magazine. ©2015 Meredith Corporation. All rights reserved.)styled APQ coverBy coincidence, the quilt on the cover, by Marcia Harmening, features two of the Gelato ombrés I’ve used in so many of my projects. Small world.APQ0216_DIG1HR_600That’s it from me for now. I hope your days are merry and bright, and that they include time to plan (if not start) a quilt or wearable or other project you’re wildly passionate about. Cheers!

 

Foolproof Flanges!

by Christine Barnes

What a glorious few months we’ve had, with lovely fall color, bright-blue skies, and three decent storms. I was in Lakeport, CA, with the Ladies of the Lake Quilt Guild last weekend and had a wonderful time. From there I went to Mendocino on the north coast to visit my aunt and uncle. (He’s the one who taught me so much about color.) I drove home via the Napa Valley and made a stop at The Culinary Institute of America at Greystone, just outside St. Helena. It was once Christian Brothers Winery, and it has kept every bit of its grand style. There’s lots to see—three restaurants, daily tours, an amazing gift shop. I recommend a field trip!Christian BrothersDuring my trunk show for the guild, I mentioned that my Lustrous Squares II quilt was in the September issue of American Quilter magazine. (I’ve seen that issue on eBay.)  After the program, several ladies said they’d like to know how I do flanges. So, I thought, what a perfect topic for a short blog post. Here’s the quilt:    Lustrous Squares II copy People have assumed that the skinny red strips are narrow borders, but I prefer flanges. My biggest tip? Practice first!

• Spray your fabric liberally with Best Press before you cut the strips; then press. This step is crucial to keeping the flanges straight and stable.

• Cut the strips 1″ wide and 1½” longer than the finished dimension of the block or other piece you’re working on.

• Fold each strip lengthwise, wrong sides together, and press. Be precise—it counts!

• Attach your walking foot if you have one and set your stitch length for a bit longer than the default stitch.

• Attach the flanges to the right and left edges first. Right sides together, with the flange underneath the block, stitch through all layers, keeping the raw edges aligned. No need to pin. If your flange is a contrast color, you’ll find it very easy to keep the edges aligned. Trim the ends flush with the edges of the block. Print• Repeat on the upper and lower edges.

AQ 9a, flangesBelow is the center block in my quilt. I like the hint of intense color the flanges add, and the way they separate the blocks from the sashing.final center block with flange, LS IIAnd that’s it! Stitching with the flange underneath was much more successful than stitching with it on top. One last tip: avoid quilting over the flanges because you want them to keep their “free” character.

Two more pics of favorite places, the Anderson Valley near Philo on Highway 128, with miles and miles of colorful vineyards:Vineyards near PhiloAnd my favorite wearable art store, The Great Put On, in Mendocino. I want this shawl!The Great Put OnThat’s it for now. I hope you’ll try accenting your blocks with flanges, and when you do, send me a photo. Have a great Thanksgiving, friends and followers!

p.s. As of today, I have twenty-three “Grunge” semi-solids in my website Store. You might like to take a look. And my UPS guy (one of my many boyfriends) just delivered a big shipment of Gelato ombrés. Fabric makes a great holiday gift . . .