Saturday, February 16, 2008

What's New?

I do not post new messages as often as I would like to. I find that I am beset with too many colliding deadlines, and choosing what to do next is often done before I even get around to casting my own vote. Today I decided to take a moment and just tell you what I'm working on now -- it's a new block-of-the-month that Quakertown Quilts will be selling, starting in April. I'm designing and making a "Night Before Christmas" quilt based on Clement C. Moore's poem. All of the blocks are designed, though they remain in draft form until I actually make the blocks. I like to have the option of modifying things along the way, and there are generally quite a few changes - mostly to make the design easier for different skill levels. Below is a sneak-peak of the design for Block One, followed by a picture of the beginnings of the first block.

"Night Before Christmas" - pattern

Each of the blocks in this quilt will have a portion of the words from 'Twas the Night before Christmas on it. I have yet to embroider the words on the first block (below); I need to see what all the blocks look like before I decide what will be the best color of embroidery floss to use.

"Night Before Christmas" - Block One

Christmas may be eleven months way - but it will be here before we know it. Time has a way of sneaking up on us!

Happy stitching -
(c)2008 Susan H. Garman

Monday, February 11, 2008

Challenging Ourselves

I love a good challenge. One of my favorites is actually a simple one: take a traditional block and choose colors, sashings, and settings that make it look entirely different. I call it "taking the common and making it uncommon." So how do you do that? Well... it's not all that difficult. There are plenty of resources available to all of us. If you have ever made a sampler quilt, with twelve different blocks, choose one of those blocks. Then "audition" different ways to color and sash it so that it looks entirely different. Have I confused you yet? Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words.

Below is a picture of a very traditional block, Old Maid's Puzzle. It's made from two large half-square triangles and two pairs of smaller half-square triangles, along with four small squares. What makes it special? Not much, really! Maybe you didn't know the name of the block, but you've probably seen several old quilts that used the block.

But what if you took this block and changed the colors and sashings so that the blocks were not quite so recognizable? What if they were set in a unique way? Take a look at the quilt below: you almost have to study it to find the Old Maid's Puzzle blocks within it.

"Star Puzzle"

So the challenge I set before you is: choose a traditional block. Figure out how to use it... in a new and interesting way! There are plenty of resources available to you. I like to play around with the Electric Quilt software program; it's wonderful for experimenting with settings and colorations. Another resource is one of the greatest books on the market today, Barbara Brackman's book, "Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns." It contains thumbnail illustrations of hundreds of traditional blocks. Another great resource book is Judy Martin and Marsha McCloskey's "Pieced Borders." It contains dozens and dozens of border options; it is one of my most-used quilt books.
Alright - I've thrown down the gauntlet. Let me know if you come up with some unusual combinations of traditional blocks. It's fun stuff!
(c)2000-2008 Susan H. Garman