“Swizzle Sticks” and “Cut Flowers”

by Christine Barnes

Oh my, if you could see my sewing room! On second thought, that’s not a good idea. With our big retreat just ten days away, I’m making samples, packaging fabrics, printing patterns, and chasing down my clipboard with the long to-do list. (Stacks of ombré strips are below, ready to be bagged.) Whew! But as much work as it is to host a retreat, the three of us agree it’s been a lot of fun.packs of 5" strips, smallToday I’m going to bring you up-to-date on two quilts you’ve seen in progress in previous posts. In June I was auditioning sashing for blocks that mix solids and prints. Here’s a brief recap:

First up, the dots. Love, love dots, but the seams were clearly going to cause problems with the dot pattern.

0 b&w dotsI adored this funky-flower, black-and-white print from Moda; it made the blocks float. I was set to sew, yet nagging at me was a fabric with rows of black-and-white dots. Back to my design wall and my stash. 3 funky flowersHere’s the finished quilt. Four-patch cornerstones make it easier to stitch accurate sashing, and, by aligning the dots vertically and horizontally, each four-patch is framed by a row of dots. I like that the four-patches link the blocks. They also imply single diagonal chains that appear to be behind the blocks. I call this quilt “Swizzle Sticks,” for the skinny borders in each block. I’ll be teaching this workshop at The Cotton Patch in the new year.7 Swizzle Sticks SHWSChanging gears, in June I showed you several blocks like the ones above, minus the skinny borders. Ombrés (these are from the Gelato line, sold on my site) work so well with multicolored Kaffe Fassett Collective prints and stripes. Nothing quite matches, but everything works.Bright Kaffe block 2 Bright Kaffe block 1 Here’s a mock-up, created using InDesign. I’m calling it “Cut Flowers” because the colors remind me of a bouquet, and the prints are literally slices of Kaffe Fassett fabrics. I love the white-and-black wavy stripe, but it’s just busy enough to keep the blocks from floating. I’m still thinking. . . .Barnes, "Bright" quiltI have now made (or am working on) three quilts—”Brushed Metal,” “Swizzle Sticks,” and “Cut Flowers”—using the same basic block. I like the structure of the block because it has vertical and horizontal elements, with small and large rectangles and center squares. I think I’m done with it and ready to move on. And isn’t that the joy of quilting? There’s always another quilt and another batch of fabulous fabric waiting to challenge and delight us.

See you again after the retreat. We’ll give you a full report on all the creative fun. And if you aren’t coming this year, we’re already planning for 2015!

Luminosity and Luster: A Watershed Moment

by Christine Barnes

Watershed horizontal sliceA warm hello to all! I had planned to show you the finished quilt from last month’s post, but I’ll save that for another time. With the retreat fast approaching, I wanted to create another quilt option, one that had both luster and luminosity. My goal was a graphic, easy-to-assemble design that showcases the amazing shift of light and color in the Gelato ombrés from E.E. Schenck.

Open and airy was the look I was after. I started by drawing a horizontal unit that measures 15 by 10 inches when finished. (I do my initial sketches on graph paper, not the computer, because I like pencil and paper. The less time on the computer, the better.)PrintPrinted fabrics are great with ombrés—they add pattern and an organic quality to a quilt design. I chose these three prints: a Kaffe Fasset houses design and two colorways of an Alexander Henry print. (It was love at first sight.)6 three prints The Marcia Desre fabrics below have been in my black-and-white bin for more than a year, waiting for the right project. I love the combination of B&W prints and intense colors—non-colors (black, white, and gray) make intense colors look even brighter and offer a bit of visual relief.5 Marcia Derse b&wBelow are the three units I designed, as mock blocks. I almost always do cut-and-paste blocks—they let you audition fabrics without the commitment of sewing.1 watershed, right unit2 other two unitsTo space out the units and suggest luster (light striking and moving across the surface), I called on my favorite gray, Gelato 714. I wondered, what if I staggered the pieced units? And what if I butted the light edges of the gray ombré against the edges of the pieced units? Here’s the result:

Watershed quilt topThe vertical sections of gray have luster, similar to the effect of the Serenity ombrés in my “Brushed Metal” quilt, another option for the retreat. The colored ombrés have luminosity and luster, thanks to their warm, intense colors and the gradations of color and value. I can hardly wait to see what magic Sandra works with her quilting. Heidi suggested the title of Watershed Moment because she said it reminded her of flowing water. I had my watershed moment when I understood how to use basic color concepts to create light effects like luster and luminosity. It’s too much fun!

I’ll have the gray and colored ombrés with me at the retreat, to play with or to purchase. (I’m also willing to share what I have left of the prints and black-and-white fabrics.) Come to Zephyr, bring you own colorful prints and B&W fabrics, and make it your own!



A Mind on Fire + Lustrous News

by Christine Barnes

Greetings, all! My mind is on fire with new ideas, the result of an inspiring five-day workshop with Rosalie Dace at Empty Spools Seminars, which are held at Asilomar, a conference center in Pacific Grove, CA. I’ll share that experience in my next post, once I’ve sorted my photos and and organized my thoughts. Amazing, just amazing!

But for this time, I’d like to share my completed “Brushed Metal” quilt and some fabulous fabric news. First, the news: The Gelato gray ombré, colorway 714, is back.

714a gray copy

This is the fabric I used in “Urban Ombrés,” below, one of the project quilts at our Zephyr retreat. Kits of the gray and all other fabrics except the black-and-white will be available.

Urban Om quilted 2 copy

The gray ombré had been discontinued, so I mounted a very small but very passionate email campaign, thanks to Heidi and Sandra, and guess what? E.E. Schenck decided to reprint it. Hooray! My web developer will have it back in my Store in the next few days.

Plans for the retreat are coming together nicely. I still have openings, and there are still lake-view rooms. “Brushed Metal” is another possible project for the retreat. It’s an example of luster, the illusion of light striking and bouncing off the surface. I used six Serenity ombrés, shown below. (The far left fabric is not in the quilt.)

Serenity kit for supp list copy

I oriented the ombré strips in each block so the light ends are going in different directions, to suggest the movement of light.

brushed metal MF lecture copy

Using the six ombrés, I designed three different blocks and made three of each. I also used Kaffe stripes and Marcia Derse prints. Many of these will also be available at the retreat. Here’s the quilt, beautifully quilted by Sandra:

Brushed metal for HOME quilted 10 at 72

I have a limited supply of the Serenity ombrés, but I’m setting aside enough kits of 10-inch strips for retreat students. If you’re not coming to the retreat and but are interested in the fabrics, let me know and I’ll put you on a list for any kits that are left over.

I only wish I had that amazing sashing fabric. It’s Japanese, from Back Porch Fabrics in Pacific Grove, and alas, it is long gone. Which leads me to my tip of the day, as if you needed to be told: When you see a fabulous fabric but have no idea how you will use it, buy it anyway. After all, we need to be prepared in case of a world-wide fabric famine!

So long for now. And do write with questions or comments. We love hearing from you. Christine