Destination: Transparency!

by Christine Barnes

The past month has been a whirlwind of travel, but gosh, it has been FUN. I’m calling it my California Coastal Color Tour because I taught a different workshop for guilds in San Diego, Arroyo Grande, and Santa Cruz. For this post I’d like to show you what twenty diligent (and cheerfully rowdy) Santa Cruz students did with my “Transparent Circles” pattern. The original quilt, made of shot cottons and Marcia Derse prints:I refer to this kind of transparency as “layered,” which is different from parent/child transparency. Here’s an overview of how I make the blocks, using the upper left block in the quilt as an example.

I piece four smaller squares of light fabrics and four larger squares of corresponding dark fabrics. Using the template below, I cut out a freezer-paper circle (double layer, for stability) and mark each quarter line with a small slit. I then trim the light unit of squares a scant ¼ inch beyond the freezer-paper circle and press the raw edge over and onto the shiny side of the paper. Finally, I appliqué the circle to the larger pieced unit, lining up the seams, and cut away and remove the paper from the back.You make “in and out” blocks, using the same eight fabrics. I love seeing how different the block looks with the light and dark fabrics reversed.

Circles in progress . . . .Brenda’s blocks, with help from Lori. Notice that the colors are in the same location in each block. So cool!What fun to see some of the different blocks. Happy students, successful circles. That’s my traveling buddy Kari toward the back.Meryl (my facilitator for the trip—thank you so much) with her first block. The dark green and orange Grunge fabrics give the block a lovely texture.

Could there be a cuter picture? Pat, my hostess (we loved staying with you!) and her blocks made of Gelato ombrés. She’s the first to try Gelatos for these blocks, and I think they are awesome.

The next day we had breakfast at the home of a local wearable artist. I way taken by the arrangement and color of these elements in her courtyard.Pat and Lori then took us to Back Porch Fabrics in Pacific Grove, a wonderful, must-visit shop on the corner of Grand and Central streets. Who can forget that location?We were in for one more treat the morning we left, Gayle’s bakery, a Santa Cruz landmark and a feast for the eyes and the palette. If you aren’t hungry when you go, you will be when you look at the array of pastries and goodies!Owner Gayle Ortiz did the picassiette (broken pottery mosaic) on some of the tables, as well as one wall.

I don’t know about you, but I see a fabric design in this . . . .We headed home, with new memories, friends, and fabrics. And as often happens after I teach a class, I want to make the quilt again, this time with Grunges and Peppered Cottons. Thanks so much for tuning in this week. For my next post I’ll have tales to tell from another coast—the coast of Florida!
















QuiltCon 2016!

by Christine Barnes

Two weeks ago today I was in heaven, taking it all in at the Modern Quilt Show in Pasadena, CA. It’s been fascinating to watch the modern quilt movement evolve over the last decade, and having a quilt in the show gave me the perfect excuse to go. So Kari Hannickel and I packed up her Prius and headed south. It rained hard going down, but we awoke the next day to blue-blue skies and light breezes. Delightful!

Before I get to the quilts, I have an admission: I took a photo of each quilt, then another photo of the maker’s statement so I could include the name of the quilter with the quilt. Well, I must have been really tired when I downloaded the quilt photos because when I went back to download the info photos, they were were deleted. (I did have some names in my notes.) It’s VERY bad manners not to credit the quilter, and I hope you’ll forgive me.

So, on with the show . . . There were a number of categories: minimalist, use of negative space, modern traditionalism, hand work, appliqué, etc. The first group, minimalist, included quilts like the one below. What caught my eye is the suggestion of a third dimension in the two values of blue-green. And the use of light and dark orange, approximate complements of blue-green.

IMG_0474Lots of white space, solid colors, and neutrals typify the modern quilt movement, and this quilt has all of those characteristics:IMG_0491The quilt below does the reverse—mostly gray, with light-value accents. It’s also one of  my favorite color-wheel combinations: a split complement of red, yellow-green, and blue-green. (The pink/red-violet is a bonus.) IMG_0498This is “Eichler Houses” by Mickey Beebe. (I rode my bike past lots of Eichler Houses when I lived in Palo Alto and worked at Sunset.) I love the gradual increase in negative space as your eye moves upward. IMG_0515Analogous combinations are colors side-by-side on the color wheel, here blue and blue-green. The beige and taupe-gray fabrics gives it a more organic quality.IMG_0531If you follow me on Pinterest, you know I love plaid, so of course I had to take a pic of a plaid quilt. Notice the elements of transparency where colors intersect.IMG_0536I was clearly drawn to quilts that have wedding-ring and pickle-dish designs. “Segment quilts” I call them. Here the warm yellows and greens are balanced by cool blue-green. The blue-gray print makes it more interesting.IMG_0547I tend to like quilts that have different “species” of fabric, but this one is just dandy made of fabrics from one designer, Alison Glass. This “Melon Wedding Ring” is by Karen Jordan.IMG_0560My first thought when I saw this quilt was “fifties”! I like the simplicity of the design and the ratio of the blue-green to white background.IMG_0571“Double Wedding Ring” by Tara Faughnan. A mix of warm-and-cool, light-and-dark color comes together into one cohesive but very lively pattern. I want to make this quilt today! See her website for more of her delightful work. Double Wedding Ring by Tara Faughnan“Geometric Text” by Nicole Daksiewicz, clicks with me because of the variety of values and colors. The “grout lines” give it a crispness, and I love the split color in some of the hexies. You can check out Nicole’s amazing work at Text by Nicole DaksiewiczWhat a celebration of black, gray, and bright color! The dark-value neutrals make the brilliant colors seem more intense. I especially like the handful of prints mixed in with the solids.IMG_0593

When Kari and I were talking about the quilts we liked, we described this one as “beads and big stitches.” It was beautifully made, a minimal, elegant design.IMG_0601

I was happy to see a number of quilts with transparency, and this one is a good example of layered transparency. I wish my students from last year’s retreat had entered their transparency quilts. They had some fabulous things going on.IMG_0609

Of course there were hundreds of quilts, and I suggest you google QuiltCon 2016 to find other blogs by quilters who went. So much to see . . . !

Below are a few images from the vendor aisles. Would you have guessed that this is the Hoffman booth? They have a line of small-scale geometric batiks and ikat weaves.  Hoffman boothThe Grunge Bar from Moda was a popular hangout. The glass jars in the background were filled with 2-inch squares of all the Grunge colors. Yum!Grunge BarKari warms up her credit card at the Sulky booth. We saw (and bought) some of their variegated 12-weight cotton threads. Another yum.Kari at SulkyDo you recognize the gal and her quilt below? It was so much fun to be in the show, and Kari and I were both inspired and excited by the quilts we saw. Having so many modern fabrics in one exhibition hall made the trip even more worthwhile, not to mention fun. Me, looking smug!Where do I see the movement going? Some of the edginess of a few years ago has softened, and more modern quilts have traditional elements. I think these have lasting appeal because they’re symbols of what we’ve known all our lives in quilting. And for the young quilters, everything is new and shiny. Likewise, traditional quilting has been greatly influenced by modern quilting. Modern fabrics designed by quilting luminaries are more open and more graphic. Each year, it just gets better!

But that’s enough about QuiltCon. I’ll end with another of my super-skinny swizzle-stick blocks that we’ll be doing in my workshop. They are super addictive.14 green block @ 8Oh, before I leave you . . . . Next year, QuiltCon is in Savannah. Anyone want to go?!

My Gallery Adventure in Color

by Christine Barnes

Last weekend I drove 200 miles north to Weaverville, home to an active art community and my long-time friends Evelyn (an amazing watercolorist) and John Ward. This is my second show at Main Street Gallery, and besides being a lot of fun, it was fascinating to hear the comments from people who expect quilts to be traditional. I thought you’d enjoy hearing what others think—and wonder—about quilts.

“Wow!” was the comment I heard most as people walked through the door. When we were hanging the quilts, I asked if we could put the more colorful quilts on one wall and the less intense ones on the opposite wall. I call it “a color connection,” when fabrics or quilts have related colors but don’t match. To my eye, they seem harmonious without looking overly planned.

Here are several views of the colorful wall. Forgive the less-than-fabulous photos—I was so busy helping Evelyn hang the quilts that I didn’t take much time with photos. And I didn’t get a single shot of the reception because I was busy talking. Sheesh! 3 color wall 3Evelyn and I met when we both worked for an ad agency in Sacramento. I was an intern and a total rookie, but it was a great job because we became friends.  After long careers in publishing, we’re both so happy and grateful to be doing what we love. Good for us!

5 Evelyn and me About the two transparency quilts above, I was surprised at how many people were drawn to this effect, and how curious they were to know how to create it. It’s really all about choosing the right values and keeping the intensity of the colors consistent. The term “shot cotton” (a fabric woven with different-colored warp and weft threads) drew a number of questions, too.

7 Lustrous I + color wheelBlack and white—always a winner! We hung the quilt above and my color wheel side by side because they both have bright colors, and each has black.

10 plaid + solid, closeI wanted you to see Sandra’s quilting in “Solids + Plaids,” above. Thank you, Sandra!

“Puss in the Corner on the Courthouse Steps” is a combination of two traditional designs, but it has lots of contemporary fabrics—ikats and prints from Kaffe Fassett and opalescent stripes from Michael James. I was happy to hear comments about the sense of depth, a feeling of layering, in this quilt. Hey, I thought, they get it!

11 puss, crookedOn to the more neutral wall. “How do you choose your fabrics” was probably the most-asked question, followed by, “Where do you find these fabrics?” Those questions really reinforce my belief that different kinds of fabric—woven stripes, ombrés, Japanese prints—make a quilt more interesting.

8 neutral wall 3We hung the framed nine-block piece below next to “Urban Ombrés” because of their black-and-white connection. Ombré fabrics were new to just about everyone.

9 offbeat

2 brushed stragiht onPeople noticed the sashing, though the term was unfamiliar, in quilts like “Brushed Metal,” above, and “Lustrous II,” below. “How did you decide on that black-and-white print?” I told them I tried at least six different fabrics for the sashing, and to my surprise, this was the one. Bold and busy as it is, this print still reads as background, and the blocks seem to float. (The narrow red flanges help, too.)

6 Lust II only“How do you know how you’re going to quilt something like this?” was the question about “Earthscape,” below. I had to admit that I didn’t do the quilting (Carol Walsh did a phenomenal job with it), but it was fun to point out the different shapes and textures she created with thread. More than a few people asked about Elin Noble’s handpainted fabrics in the upper areas. “You can paint fabric???”

4 earthscape“Well, these aren’t like any quilts I’ve seen” was my favorite comment. It was fun to watch people begin to see color and quilts in a different way. Some told me about quilts in their past and how much they meant to them. That’s what keeps us quilting, the memories they evoke and the people who made them.

Finally, I’m teaching my “Color Made Modern” workshop at Sugar Pine Quilt Shop October 24-25. Contact me for details, or call the shop at (530) 272-5308. I’ve taught this class a number of times, locally and far away, and it’s become my favorite workshop. Come to find out why!

I hope you’re enjoying glorious fall weather, as we are here, and finding time to create and sew.


Retreat 2015—It’s a Wrap!

by Christine Barnes

Oh my gosh, I don’t know where to start, we had such a wonderful week! I’ll begin with our “student body” photo, taken by Rejeanne’s husband. (They came from Canada.) This was taken on the last morning, and our retreat mascot, Pinto the cat, even made it into the shot.

Zephir group @72Sandra and Heidi will be posting in the next two weeks, and they’ll have lots of pics and observations to share with you. Their students and classes were amazing, just amazing.

Mary Boalt, our Artist in Residence, set up shop in my classroom, and we were fascinated and inspired by her work. You’ll hear more about her painted canvases and her trunk show in next week’s post. Here’s one canvas in the early stages.

B Mary cuteSee how she lays out her palette.

C Mary's paintsWe checked on Mary’s progress on each and every canvas. (Note the brownies front and center, thanks, Cindy.)

W ladies with Mary, laughing, yesMy workshop, “Transparency,” far exceeded my expectations, and I came home tired but elated. This mock-block is an example of a parent/child transparency, as if the center fabric is the logical “child” of the light and dark “parents.” (By Sally? Trudie? My apologies.)

D Stonehenge singleAn ethereal parent/child block.

M Rejeanne's icy blockBlocks by four students. Fascinating how varied they were.

J four trans 3 blocksLayered transparency blocks, as if a light area in the center of each block is hovering over a larger darker area:  G centered trans, 4 blocksHere the inner shapes vary more in value, and pattern adds another element.

H random trans groupedCindy brought even more pattern into the equation, with lots of Marcia Derse prints and Grunge semi-solids.

W Ciny with her unitsThe illusion that a two large triangles, one light and the other dark, overlap to make a smaller triangle of see-through color. By Marjorie. Love the black and white and gray.

ZZZZ teal and papaya starLinda hard at work on her violet star. Did you know this block is called “Party Hat”?

H Linda B and her lav starSome layered transparent circle blocks by Ellen, in shot cottons:

L Ellen's circle blocksAnd Ellen’s quilt takes shape . . .

P Ellen with her quiltMary Ellen’s fabrics, looking very Zen:

K Mary ellen's fabricsAnd her units, which will be joined into oh-so-modern blocks.

Z Mary Ellen's unitsMarjorie’s circles, in serene style.

N Marjorie's circle blocksKaren’s mysterious circles:

A Karen's circles brighterPattern really helps to “fool the eye” in transparency.

O Trudie and Rejeanne circles?? goodTrudie’s circles. Do you get the idea that I loved watching these circles take shape???

V Trudie's circlesOur room the day of “walkabout” (open house), the walls “papered” in color.

Q walkaboutOne final exercise, created by Rejeanne.

N final exercise, rejeanne copyPinto was kept busy with the toy Carey brought for him. Every time he rolled it, a treat came out. It will be great to see him next year—he’s quite the celebrity.  I Pinto searches for treats  The sunset on the last night. Take our word for it, that sun was ORANGE. T sunset, good A big thank you to all our students for making our second retreat such a success. You were the best! And for those of you who couldn’t come, thanks for going “on retreat” by way of pictures and commentary. Be sure to tune in for more inspiration and fun from Sandra and Heidi in the next few weeks. And start making plans for next year—we are!


On the Road with Color . . . and More

by Christine Barnes

. . . That would be the road to Indiana! Last month I spent four delightful days teaching for the Quilter’s Guild of Indianapolis and Appleseed Quilters in Fort Wayne. A big thank you to the ladies who made it all happen so smoothly. I made lots of new quilting friends, and I really enjoyed seeing Indianapolis and the farming country on the way to Fort Wayne, about 90 miles north. Here’s a sampling from our first workshop, “Modern Color”:

“King’s Crown” was our warm-up exercise. (Forgive the blue tape—we used a concrete-like wall for critique, so no pins.) It’s so much fun to see different colors/fabrics for each of the large triangles. And wow, low-volume background fabrics make it so modern. Of course, the block with stripes got extra credit.All Kings blocks copyThe next exercise is one of my favorite star blocks, “Party Hats.” Notice how the dark-value center in the first block blends a bit with the patterned star points on the right and left, making a parallelogram (squint to see it more). As usual, “Value does all of the the work . . . .” Love the aboriginal prints and semi-solids.Indy star 2In the example below the black-and-white fabric anchors the block, and the star points are beautifully balanced. I wish I had a bolt of the swirly fabric these ladies used in the background—it’s fabulous.Indy star 4As they say in the informercials, “But wait, there’s more!” In the “X and Plus” block below, the “plus” is strong because the solids and the black are strong, but to my eye, the ‘X” is even stronger because the pieces are larger and the colors more intense. I really like that the solids don’t have to match the print.Indy 5 smallerBelow, the “plus” comes forward and is dominant because the colors and prints are hot and intense, while the “X” is lighter and cooler. How can two blocks look so different? Fabric magic.Indy 7 smallerOn the second day, we made my “Luminaria” pattern. I’ve taught this class many times, but I never get tired of seeing what you do. Look how luminous the warm, intense centers are when surrounded by the cooler, darker, duller colors. This quilt will be stunning.Indy lumiosityAnd now, a sincere apology to the Appleseed Quilters: We had so much fun making “Elegant Circles” that I forgot to take pictures. So sorry! I’ll just have to come back, OK? Send me photos of your completed quilts, and I’ll show them in a future post.

Shifting gears, I have a few notes for students in my “Transparency” workshop at Zephyr:

Here are fabrics from another line that works well for parent/child or layered transparency, “Grunge” by Moda. I got these recently from the Fat Quarter Shop (  and Fabric Depot ( As I’ve said in my recent emails to you, I’ll have modest amounts of these and other fabrics for you to use in the mock-block exercises. If you want to use them in your project quilt, you should plan to acquire some of your own. From either shop, the smallest amount sold is 1/2 yard—frustrating, but that’s the case with many online stores.grunge groupingAnd here’s a block I made from three values of blue-green Grunge. The ethereal quality of these fabrics makes them ideal for transparencies.Teal circle blockI’ll bring some new toys for you to play with, two circle cutters by Martha Stewart, available at JoAnn. These are GREAT for cutting freezer-paper circles for either “Transparent Circles” (see the Gallery on my website) or “Serene Circles” (above). BTW, Serene Circles is for precision piecers—those seams must match up to “fool the eye.” I’ll be there to help.Martha circle cuttersAgain, many thanks to the ladies of Indiana—my time with you was one of my favorite gigs, and now I know, firsthand, about Hoosier Hospitality and Sweet Tea. (It’s very sweet.)

Stay cool. Keep quilting.












“Driven to Abstraction” at Asilomar

by Christine Barnes

Being “driven to abstraction” at Asilomar with Sue Benner was a fabulous experience. My good buddy Kari and I took her workshop two weeks ago, and I came away with a head full of inspiration and new ways to work. Here’s just a bit of what we did:

For the first exercise, Sue terrified the class by giving each one of us a page torn from National Geographic and telling us to create a fabric abstraction in 20 minutes or less. Yes, gulp, 20 minutes or less. We all survived, but some of us looked liked scared rabbits.

For the second exercise, we worked from a photo we had brought. I actually brought a box of pages torn from magazines to make collages as studies for quilts, as the German Expressionist Hans Hofmann did for his paintings. (I have yet to do that.) I loved the simplicity of this image, courtesy of Martha Stewart. I even like my torn edge at the bottom.0 Scan of still life inspire photoOur first study was to quickly depict the image in a simplified but somewhat realistic fashion. The floaty, see-though shape over the vase is a layer of tulle. Of course this little composition needed a bit of transparency!2 abstraction 1, OKSue gave us a variety of ways to further abstract our first study. I chose fragmentation for my next study, below, slicing and shifting the sections. I LOVE what happens to the Marcia Derse background and foreground fabrics.3 abstraction 2, OKFor my third study, I zeroed in on a particular section of the image and let go of any sense of perspective or proportion. The abstracted twig was cut from a section of one of my favorite plaids. How thoughtful of it to contain the colors I needed to echo the other elements.3 abstraction 3, OKWe then moved on to a self-directed study, but mine is nowhere near ready for prime time. I can’t begin to tell you how much I got out of Sue’s workshop—she is a delight, a bundle of knowledge and talent, and I’ll be taking another class from her for sure.

A note: My Artistic Alchemy workshop, “Transparency, A Special Effect,” is full, but please ask to be put on my waiting list if you’re interested. I plan to bring some sheers and fusible web for you to play with on a quick raw-edge collage.

I leave you with two pics I took at Asilomar, one of the loveliest spots on the Central Coast. I’d walk down this path any day.  Asilomar 1No words needed!Asilomar 4Until next time . . . .


A Tale of Two Quilts (and a bit of transparency)

by Christine Barnes

New fabricsThe image above has nothing to do with this post, but I just had to drop it in because I LOVE these fabrics by Marcia Derse, Alison Glass, and Kaffe Fassett. You’ll see some of them again in a future quilt or garment.

Now, to the business at hand: Have you ever worked on a quilt that wasn’t quite “working,” yet you continued because you hoped it would get better? That’s what happened when I started my quilt Urban Ombrés. It began with the block below. I cut the center rectangle from a lighter ombré, and the surrounding strips from darker areas of other ombrés, all from Caryl Bryer Fallert. (The black-and-white is by Kim Schaefer and isn’t available, even on the Internet.) I thought the block was lovely, very ethereal and serene.

1 single block, all ombre Ah, but sometimes more is actually less. I made a total of sixteen different blocks and joined them to make the quilt top below. I knew long before I finished that it lacked punch, but I kept going. Sound familiar?2 quilt with all ombres“It needs pattern,” I thought. I looked on my shelf of recent acquisitions, where I keep new favorites. Nothing. Then I saw a pile of Marcia Derse fabrics, like the ones below, and thought, what if?

MD FQsI grabbed a scrap and laid it over the center of the top left block. What a difference this one fabric made!3 single block, with MD printSuddenly the block had visual weight, and the center unit looked cohesive. I kept going, making 16 blocks with the same colored ombrés in the same positions as in the first quilt top. (There are a few exceptions.)

5 quilt with MD centersI’ve never had the first top quilted, but I’m glad I took photos so I could show the impact value, hue, and pattern have on the look of a quilt. As I have said before, “Lesson learned!”

Changing gears a bit, below is an example of layered transparency. In the first mock-block I combined four medium-to-dark colors. These fabrics are from Michael Miller’s “Painter’s Canvas” line, and they are still available. In fact they’re coming out with new colors next month. Good!6a painter palette AThen, from my embarrassing stash of MM fabrics, I laid four lighter-value versions of the same colors over the original fabrics:

6a painter palette FNow there is the illusion of a transparent plane of lighter color. Very simple, very graphic,  and really very easy. If you’ve signed up for my workshop, you’ll get a chance to make this and other transparency studies, one of which you’ll turn into a quilt.

Today is Friday the 13th, but I feel lucky in so many ways. Just having a light-filled studio with an abundance of delicious fabric makes my day, every day. Happy Spring!


p.s. I have a few Urban Ombrés kits consisting of the Marcia Derse prints, colored ombrés, gray ombré, and quilt pattern. (Both black-and-white fabrics are sadly gone.) Email me if you’re interested.

Serene Circles: A Mini Tutorial in Transparency

by Christine Barnes

Greetings, Artistic Alchemy followers! Before I begin, Heidi just posted photos from last September’s retreat. Check out the new Pics page and see what the fun was all about!

OK, let’s get down to business. Yes, I admit it: I’m a circles addict. As you may have seen on our Workshops page, I’ve just started a new transparency quilt for my retreat workshop. Below is the story behind one of the blocks, using three values of yellow-green. These fabrics are Peppered Cottons from Studio E, but the fabrics need not be from the same manufacturer. They should, however, have a similar intensity; that is, all muted or all brilliant, or all somewhere in between.Serene fabricsI had fun piecing the background square below from light-value, mostly neutral prints, with the light green solid running through the middle.Serene pieced blockThen I pieced a circle of the medium and dark green fabrics. It’s a bit tricky keeping the seams straight so they will match the seams in the background square, but Peppered Cottons have a slightly looser weave that bends beautifully over the edge of a freezer-paper circle.

When you lay the circle over the background square and line up the seams, look what happens: it appears that the light green runs through the dark green, creating a medium green. Suddenly, the background square comes to life, and the circle looks layered.Serene circle on topI first saw this design idea in a quilt by Naoko Anne Ito, at an East Bay Heritage Quilters show a few years ago. She graciously allowed me to have it photographed and included in my color book. Isn’t it exquisite?

Barnes, 10751, Sp11It’s also possible to make the design lines of the “parents” carry through the “child.” In the example below, the blue-green zig-zag seems to start in the left square, flow through the center square, and continue into the right square. Transparencies of value, color, and design lines are often the most amazing.2015 Yellow, blue, fave trans blockThe block below shows what happens when the values aren’t quite right. The light yellow-green fabric is not as light as the lightest yellow-green in the printed center.  When I teach transparency, we joke about “recessive genes” and “color DNA,” but in general, the lightest value in the child must also be in the parent. I still love this block, even if it’s not that successful as a transparency.

BLK 4 teal, y-g_2033I’m glad you joined me for this short session, and I hope I’ve piqued your interest in transparency. It’s an awesome special effect, and it works wonderfully in all kinds of quilt designs. Feel free to write with questions. I love thinking about this stuff!




Zephyr on My Mind (Still) + a Look to Next Year

by Christine Barnes

I love October! My favorite poem when I was twelve was “October’s Bright Blue Weather,” by Helen Hunt Jackson. The last stanza reads:

O sun and skies and flowers of June,
Count all your boasts together,
Love loveth best of all the year
October’s bright blue weather.

At Zephyr we had both bright blue weather and bright blue water. The changing colors of the lake (sometimes you see bands of different blues, almost like an ombré) made it magical.

The retreat was magical, too. By now you’ve read the post-retreat thoughts of Heidi and Sandra. I heartily second their enthusiastic accounts of our time there. Lest my students feel left out, here are some images from my Luminosity and Luster workshop:

First, she who brings the most fabric . . . has the most to work with.

F Karen's tableBelow are some of the blocks Karen made with her yummy selection of fabrics. Note the “swizzle stick” borders, narrow strips of fabric inserted between the block segments.D1 Karens blocks copyLuster exercises, starting with strips of gray ombré that I provided. How different the blocks look, depending on the choice of fabrics for the center units. Compare the lower left and lower right blocks, for example.A luster ex, largerEileen worked with a pattern she brought, with the idea of creating luminosity. C Eileen's blocksAs she played with her options, it became apparent that she was also creating transparency, almost by accident. A few days after the retreat ended, Eileen sent me a pic of her quilt top:K Eileen's finished top, transAren’t the bands of lighter-value yellow running horizontally through the quilt cool? She gets extra credit, for sure!

Nancy was also working with luminosity, and I’ll show you her finished quilt in a future post (no pressure, Nancy). Here she’s just relaxing. See how neatly her fabrics are piled at the front of her table? More extra credit. The fabrics choices pinned to the wall are Noelle’s, for her Sassy Circles quilt, but she somehow escaped the camera.I Nancy at her tableHere, Teresa begins to work with Serenity ombrés, Kaffe Fassett stripes, and Marcia Derse prints.G Teresa works with ombresAnd her blocks take shape. Note the center squares, cut on the bias. They’re a bit harder to work with, but they certainly add movement to the blocks.E Teresa's blocksMany thanks to Noelle, Nancy, Nora, Teresa, Karen, Jackie, Eileen, and Cindy. I can’t imagine my time there without you. (I wish I had taken more pics!) I really enjoyed meeting the students in the other classes and seeing their amazing work.

I’m adding this pic of the back of my vest because so many asked me about it. I pieced the vest back, with a green hand-dye on the outside and yellow-green osnaburg on the inside. What you see are the seam allowances, which I purposely put on the outside. The raw edges are bound with 1-inch strips of a Kaffe stripe cut on the bias. This technique is called the Hong Kong seam finish, and if you Google it, you’ll find plenty of videos and still tutorials.J back of my vestWe’re working on plans for next year, and we’re very hopeful that we’ll be able to add that extra sewing day. I’m thinking about transparency, one of my favorite light effects. There are two kinds: parent/child and layered. Here’s an example of layered transparency, the illusion that lighter see-through shapes float above darker shapes. There will be a variety of exercises and three or four quilt design options.L Trans squares, bound-1Finally, I left Zephyr and headed home up the west side of the lake. A stop at the Emerald Bay lookout is almost mandatory. Talk about “bright blue water,” with bits of greener blue.H Emerald BayUntil next time, enjoy these glorious October days and keep scheming and sewing. Is there anything better?!