what is a background

I was casting my eye around looking for a photo for the theme of ‘background’, and of course my mind immediately started thinking of background fabrics we use in quilting and embroidery. I was thinking how important a seemingly inocuous fabric can be- how it forms the foil for whatever is going to be placed on top of it. The appliques or the sttcheries we place on it usually get so much more attention, and often a pale or light-coloured fabric is chosen for the background so as not to clash.
I often like to choose a spot or textured fabric for some variety, so I like to think I have moved on a little in my background choices, but I aim to be more adventurous in future- step by step!
In these lollipop-tree blocks I have used spots
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and for this block the text fabric was used as the ‘background’ fabric.
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When looking around my garden I realised that the group of native trees and plants we have would often be seen as a background for other more flashy plantings in front of them, or maybe as a setting for a family or special-occasion photo. But why can’t they be special in their own right? They struck me as being beautiful as they are.

background

And another thing, I recently went with some friends to see the exhibition of quilts at the Queensland Gallery of Modern Art which I can highly recommend. If you have a chance to get to Brisbane sometime, you really need to see it! The quilts are from London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, but also include the Rajah quilt, which is a quilt-top pieced by female convicts deported to Australia in 1841. It’s probably even worth more than a single visit!

A class with Gwen Marston

I had so much fun at the Gwen Marston workshop, held in Toowoomba last week. I think we were so fortunate to have a quilter of her calibre to visit. Gwen is a lovely person; lively and funny and generous and down-to-earth with her advice.
She brought along her own quilts to show us. Each day had adifferent focus. The first day was working on medallion quilts and before we started she would show us some of her own quilts, many of which were featured in her book. It was fantastic to see them up close!
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These are some of her quilts which show some Amish influences and improvisational piecing and quilting.
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The second day was based around her most recent book “37 Sketches”, in which she created lots of little quilts.
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With these she played and experimented with lots of improvisation in the shapes she used, free-hand cutting, and restricting or expanding the colour palette. She said that she used them as an artist would a sketch: perhaps dealing with a square shape and the variations she could make with it, and then the next one would have one other shape added to it, or strips inserted in; using all dark colours in one, or all light in another.
We played by creating lots of little ‘spare parts’, trying out her techniques of piecing skinny triangles together, or making little strips with just a pop of colour here and there, or wonky nine-patches, and so on. Some people got as far as joining them all together to make a little quiltlet top, while some of us made a good start on a collection of parts.
Here is how far I got with my medallion centre: I went with this print which I was initially a little undecided on. I cut out a square which I then put on-point and chopped off some corners:
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To that, I made some little hourglass blocks:
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and added them into a border with some cornerstone blocks of a fabric which looked just perfect for the job!
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Next up are my little spare parts. I tried to stick to about 5 or 6 different colours.
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Here is a selection of what some of the workshop participants produced in the workshop.
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One lady, Jan, had this quilt top to show the class that she had made before the workshop, very much in the style of Gwen Marston and Freddie Moran’s Liberated quilting style:
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Beautiful colour and very clever!

some fun

It’s like I’m going on holidays. I’ve been packing my bags, working out what I have to take, getting it all ready the night before, charging the battery on the phone and the camera. Anyone would think I will be away for a week, but no, it’s only for 2 days.
I’m going to a workshop. Yay!! I have 2 days off work and I’m going to a workshop in Toowoomba with the world-famous Gwen Marston- she of the Liberated Quiltmaking fame, and those glorious colourful quilts in collaboration with Freddie Moran. It’s too good an opportunity to miss!
Even so, it was hard to decide on what fabric to take. This is my box of fabric ready to go.
workshop
The first day is on Liberated Medallions, so we need appropriate fabric to work in with that. My first love is really bright fabrics, but I thought maybe I should take the opportunity to try something different. I bought this fabric some months ago, with the intention of making it a feature fabric for a quilt but not sure how, plus it is in colours I haven’t used a lot of before.
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I’ve gathered these pieces to perhaps put with it:
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But then, I might also take this bright poppy fabric by Laura Gunn:
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On the second day, we are following Gwen’s book ’37 Sketches’ which I haven’t seen before, but I’m taking mainly solids to work with that, but maybe also a few other bright prints.
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Choices, choices, choices!
The machine is packed up, the sewing supplies and my special notebook are ready and I can’t wait! I’ll let you know how it goes.
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colouring in 5 ways

Want a little colour in your weekend? Here (south east Queensland) it is an overcast day, with lots of grey clouds threatening rain. So, I felt like playing with some colour. Have you seen this web site where you can create your own colour palettes: Palette Builder You just load one of your own photos and it instantly creates a colour palette for you of the colours contained in that photo.
I was prompted by this pretty photo I took yesterday of these roses:
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I have always thought that deep red roses were my favourite, but I have to say the colour combinations we sometimes get from our rose garden often make me rethink that.
This is the colour palette from that photo:
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Another couple I tried: a garden shot
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and some tea leaves:
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There are so many ways you could use this application, e.g. to determine what colours are in a fabric or quilt you like if you are looking for others to complement it:
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And then I played around with some of the effects you can use in the photo-editing software I use (PhotoScape), which I’m sure is probably the same in most programs.
This shows that original photo with blurring around the edges:
DSCF2010-blurred
this is called “crystallised”:
DSCF2010-crystallised
Has potential for designing a quilt from it?
Have fun and see what you can come up with!

colours and photos

Do you have a favourite colour? Mine has always been blue but as I’ve got older that has been expanded to include purple, and all shades in between.
So, I found the questions asked of me by Kim on ‘My Favourite Block quiltalong’ interesting. I mentioned on there that over the years I have found that I have used green more and more as a bright pop of colour in my quilts, even though green has never been a favourite. It was my mother’s favourite, and I remember asking her ‘how come you like green?’, with the underlying meaning that I couldn’t see why she did!
It got me to thinking and looking at what greens we have around us – there are thousands, probably an infinite number, of different greens in nature. Look at the variations just in this photo:

and a quick look around the garden:

A range of green fabrics, from someone who didn’t think she liked it all that much?



and where I’ve used them:



and this photo taken at my sister’s place recently, just because it looked lovely!

Have a good weekend!

photos for January

I’ve been continuing along with the photoaday challenge (from this site). It’s easy to do- take a photo that is your interpretation of that day’s theme. You can then post it to Facebook or use Instagram on your iphone, which is where I do it. Instagram also has some filters you can play around with to give different effects and borders etc. to the photos.
Here is a round-up of my four favourite photos from January:

January 7 The theme was “street”.

January 10 The theme was “one o’clock” so this is what I saw at one o’clock that day:

January 15 Theme: “an ordinary moment” which I sort-of interpreted as an everyday happening:

January 30 The theme was “down” – my photo is of the clues for the ‘down’ section of a crossword, see the clue for Down. 30.

Well, I thought it was tricky…..

I have also made the next block in the My Favourite Block Quilt Along. This one is called ‘Reflections’, which I hadn’t heard of before. At first glimpse it looks like it could belong in a Scrappy Trip Around the World quilt, but it differs in that only 3 fabrics are used, and the little squares are arranged in a certain order according to their value:

We have to use a dark, medium and light fabric- I’m not sure that these show up the effect as well as they should:

and you do end up with 3 left-over four-patch blocks, which will no doubt come in handy to fit in a spare spot in the scrappy quilt somewhere.

Churn dash block

The next block in the ‘My Favourite Block Quiltalong’, hosted over on the Persimon Dreams website, is the Churndash block. The blocks on this quiltalong. so far, have been favourites that many quilters would be familiar with, but it’s always fun to see the variations you can get when you play around with your choice of fabrics.
Like in my previous posts on this, I have made a few of this block in the two different colourways that I’m trying out. This first one is using bright colours and contrasting them with paler, or lighter value, colours.

I’ve also made two blocks using these other fabrics:


With this colourway, I originally started with a range of fabrics given to me in a Christmas exchange- that’s the brown/cream/green/aqua/pink fabrics. When I went looking in my cupboard for some more to add to them, I was able to find quite a few different ones to contrast. Funny what you find when you look!

Have you thought about joining in the Quiltalong?
I’m also linking up to the Small Blog Meet here – a great special feature hosted by Lily’s Quilts for small blog owners to hopefully connect with lots of others.

5 colour combinations…

Do you ever wonder how fabric designers come up with the designs and colour combinations that they do? Or when looking at quilt designs, wonder how the designer thought to put particular fabric combinations together? I love scrappy quilts where lots and lots of fabrics are added in together, and the premise for making them is that you use any scraps you have and just add them all together. The end product always comes out looking great, without hours spent agonising over which fabric to add to others.
I contemplated such matters while sewing more of my spiderweb quilt blocks. When sewing the strips together I did not pay any attention to which strips I was picking up to sew together, I wanted it to be as random as possible. And it was while I was sewing the triangles together that I happened to notice some colour combinations that looked really great together; possibly ones that I may not have originally thought I would put together in another quilt- or maybe I like to think I would?!
Look at these two pieces of fabric.



These two wouldn’t have been fabrics that jump out as complementing each other, but when you see two strips together, (I think) they look great:

This next piece is a Kaffe Fassett fabric. I love it for what it is, but the fabrics that have ended up next to it in the triangles below really show how versatile it is:

the spotted fabric was the one that first caught my eye:

Even blues and greens, caramel and stripes:



Clever Kaffe!