Saturday, October 31, 2009

Designs Influenced by Gee's Bend Housetop Quilts

Any quilter who has seen the Gee's Bend exhibits and books can't help but be inspired. There is such freshness and spontaneity in the designs. Several are as good as any Rothko or Mondrian. I've spent hours looking through the three books that accompanied the exhibits. This is just the type of quilting I love to do. I like to start with a general plan, then cut out fabrics directly and see what happens. The four quilts here were inspired by the Gee's Bend quilts. The first two quilts pictured were inspired by Arlonzia Pettway's "Housetop" Nine Block Variation done in 1982 (see page 143 of Gee's Bend: The Women and Their Quilts, Tinwood Books and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 2002). The third, the "S", is a adaptation of Sue Willie Seltzer's "Housetop - Nine-Block Half-Log Cabin variation" done in 1922 (see page 133 of the same book). The fourth, red watermelon and hearts, was assembled by Pat in Alaska.  It's based on Lucy P. Pettway's "Housetop - Nine-Block Half-Log Cabin variation" done in the 1950's (see page 357). Four more quilts completed for Guatemala!

Guatemala Project - Alaska - Week 2

Here are some pics from our two sessions this week. We get together again on Monday.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Guatemala Project - Alaska - Week 1

Guatemala Project - Alaska

Here are images from week 1 -

Guatemala Project - Alaska

Last week I got together with two daughters of a dear friend of mine. We ironed and ripped yellow, apricot, pink, and dark, with a few medium, blue fabrics into strips.

By the end of two-hours we were able to cut out three 6-inch apricot squares. The girls returned today for more sewing and finshed ripping the rest of the blue fabric. Slow and sure sewing and ironing produced two yellow 6-inch blocks and lots of blue strips now in various stages of assembly.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Guatemala Project Work Day

Thursday some friends came over to work on the Guatemala project.  We had preselected colors to work with: red, orange, and purple. My friends brought presewn sets of 2 1/2" strips in dark-light-dark or light-dark-light combinations.  When they arrived, we set up sewing machines and cutting tables and got to work!
We cut several 2 1/2" pieces off each sewn set to make 9-patches.  Then we interspersed the 9-patches between the strips, sewed them into 78" lengths, sewed the lengths together, and voila! We completed 3 quilt tops in the day.  (Well, we were only able to complete the third top because one of the volunteers came with half a top already assembled!)
A very productive and enjoyable day!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Color Block Crib Quilts

Last spring I ran across a pack of precut 6" squares.  I decided to assembly-line some baby quilts for my Guatemala Project.  I surrounded each 6" square with black and white strips.  I divided these blocks into three piles.  Then I added log cabin strips in two colors to each block.  One pile got orange and yellow strips, one pile purple and pink strips, and one green and turquoise. 

I divided those blocks into groups of six and assembled them.  This quilt  is bordered with fabric leftover from a skirt that my mom made for me when I was in college.  I took it with me when I moved to Alaska in 1975.

I surrounded the assembled blocks with another black and white (or almost black and white) strip.

Then the fun part - finding borders for each.  I dug through my stash.  It was surprising how many different fabrics worked with basically the same center blocks.  This black fabric with the turquoise foliage was left over from a skirt I made for a friend of mine back in college.  Can you believe I've been carting this fabric around for nearly 40 years?!  It's past time to use it up.
Some of these quilts I've assigned to other uses, but 5 of them will go to the Guatemala project.

On this quilt I added another border that repeated two of the log cabin colors.

Pink seems to be a color the goes easily with the center blocks.

This is actually the first top that I completed. 

This assembly line method is great for making several similar tops in a short amount of time.  It's fun to see the variation possible with the same basic elements.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Guatemala Quilt Project

Last year I went to Guatemala on Nancy Crow's textile tour. Near Solola, we visited an orphanage. I was impressed with the programs and organization for the 80 or so children who live there. The kids live in groups of about 12 in what I will call a "home", consisting of a common room with 3 or 4 bedrooms attached. Each home has a "tia", aunt, who cares for the kids in that family unit. Some of the buildings had been recently constructed, complete with solar panels, by volunteers from a college in the U.S. The kids make their own furniture in the woodshop, part of the vocational program in the orphanage. They also make their own school uniforms and even their own shoes!

The one home we viewed was clean and neat. But the kids' bunk beds were topped with tattered blankets, and a couple of the beds had old treadbare quilts on them. Being a quilter, I saw an opportunity!

Since I returned from the trip, my mission is to make a quilt for each child at the orphanage. Of course, this project is not without benefits to me. I have a chance to use up some portion of my collection of commercial fabric, which I no longer use in my art work. And, being relatively new to longarm quilting, the project gives me the opportunity to hone my longarm skills.

So between creating my art pieces, I've been sewing scrap quilts - and having a ball! Some friends have joined in the fun and contributed quilt tops. To date, 10 crib quilts and 15 twin bunk-size quilts are complete. Another 6 or so are in progress. Here's the first photo - a crib quilt pieced by my friend Deb from Maine. More to come...