Monday, September 13, 2010

Other people's leftovers

When I go to a workshop I never leave a room without foraging in everybody else's wastebaskets.  I love to appropriate their scraps and leftovers, not just because I'm cheap, and not just because I love to sew little pieces of fabric together in serendipitous arrangements.  I also love other people's leftovers because I learn a lot by contemplating how they put shapes and colors together in ways that might not occur to me.

In the course of cleaning my studio I came upon several bits of leftovers that I had brought home from various forays.  Since I'm in open-mind mode this week, without a real project to work on, I enjoyed putting them up on the wall and thinking about them.

Here's the first one -- a small swatch that had been cut from the bottom of a strip set.  I loved the colors, probably because it's so rare to see brights combine successfully with pastels.  I trimmed the uneven edges of the piece to make it look more deliberate and pinned it up on the design wall.  I rarely use pastels but this combination is so strong that I want to look at it for a while. 

Here's another, a set of strips in the never-fail color combination of red, yellow and black.  But don't you love that one strip of blue?  I also want to look at the way these strips vary in width, because I rarely sew mine that way.

Nancy Crow once told us in a workshop that you can make strips with wobbly edges, varying the width, or you can make them with straight edges (at least as straight as you get without using a ruler) but you should decide on one, not mix and match.  I went for the freehand straight approach and after all these quilts, if I wanted to make swooshy, curvy strips tomorrow I'm not even sure how I would go about it. 

I have no idea who the artists were who contributed the first two sets of leftovers, but I do know that Terry Jarrard-Dimond gave me this batch of gorgeous strip sets.

They're hand-dyed fabric in a few subtly different shades of orange and blue.  Complementary colors in their full saturation always vibrate and sing, and these are particularly clear and bright.  I laid these out to overlap the edges, because I wanted to see the colors uninterrupted by white.

Although the strips are all about the same width, they're not exact. All I had to do was reposition the smallest swatch to see how the stripes stagger against one another when they are all horizontal.  I love this color combination -- it's one that I haven't used much in the past -- and there's enough fabric here that I could make a little quilt with a lot of complexity, using more vertical cuts and seams.

Thank you, Terry and my two anonymous benefactors, for giving me something to think about and maybe also something to make a little quilt from. 


  1. Kathy: I am going nuts looking for a link that I think you posted on your blog. It was a short video of a guy teaching people how to paint in an expressionistic way. I thought I would remember and neglected to put in favorites. Was it you? Can you helP? Thanks

  2. Diva -- wasn't me!! I know this immediately because I have no idea how to watch videos let alone post them. Sorry -- hope you find it.