Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Simple shapes, by Diana and Laura

California artists Diana McClun and Laura Nownes have been working together since the 1980's, when their first book Quilts! Quilts!! Quilts!!! was born.  With over one million copies sold to date, this book is often referred to as "the bible" of quiltmaking.  Many of Diana and Laura's patterns are suitable for strip piecing, jelly rolls and other confections.... here are just a few of our favorites.

Sparkling Spools,  by Diana McClun and Laura Nownes, Laura

We love simple patterns that look spectacular. "Sparkling spools" is just one of Diana and Laura's Simply Strip Pieced Patterns.

Bow Tie, 64 x 80", by Diana McClun and Laura Nownes, Laura

This easy to piece classic pattern focuses more on the placement of light and dark fabrics rather than the bow tie design, and it looks posititvely modern in this design. Imagine the fabric possibilities !

Origami Pinwheels, by Diana McClun and Laura Nownes, Laura

These pinwheels are so elegant and clever..the look of a traditional Japanese design is achieved without fabric folding!

You can find Diana and Laura's entire line of patterns at Laura   Here are a few more of our favorites: The Big Tumble (which we featured in our 2010 series on Tumbling Block Quilts); Sensu (fan); Strippy Stripes; Bamboo and Pinwheels; and Pinwheels in my Garden.

Image credits:  Images are shown with the generous permission of Laura Nownes. You also can find Laura at the See How We Sew blog.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Simple shapes: jelly roll quilts and other confections

We have to confess that we aren't always interested in making complex quilts.  Sometimes we yearn for simple shapes - and simple piecing. Of course we want to have our cake and eat it too:  we still want our "quick" quilts to look fabulous. Lori Allison of Minnesota starts with patterns that often use traditional blocks – like the trip around the world block – but she makes it bigger, and applies modern cutting and piecing techniques to make it fast and easy.

Blooming patchwork (queen size), by Lori Allison, at Design Tyme

This one is new !  "Blooming patchwork" is a strip pieced, queen-sized quilt.  Thanks to a few fussy-cut blocks, applique is not required !

Funky Stripes, 3 sizes, by Lori Allison, at Design Tyme

This is a great way to show off large prints like these from Kaffe Fassett.  Also check out a mod chartreuse-and-teal version, which was made by Susie Smidt at Dakota County Star Quilters (at their 2010 quilt show page you can also see  "Color my World", pieced by Jackie Grinde.)

Cinnamon and Ginger, 57 x 71" or 71 x 86", by Lori Allison, at Design Tyme

Lori says, "Who knew this would be a top pattern seller? I certainly didn't because after I designed it, I let it sit in my computer for six months. Finally, two weeks before fall market, I didn't have anything so I looked through my files to see if there was anything at all worth resurrecting." (!) The fussy cut centers create an interesting geometric effect. The fully illustrated color instructions and easy assembly are typical of Allison Quilt Designs.

For a few more bestselling patterns designed for precuts - like jelly rolls and layer cakes -  check out Lori's "Jelly Roll World", "Fruit Cake" and "Candy Queen" patterns.

Image credits:  Images are shown with the generous permission of Lori Allison. 

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Quilt Inspiration Classics: Nautical Quilts

"I must go down to the sea again, to the vagrant gypsy life", wrote English poet John Masefield. These warm summer days lead us to daydream about a cottage nestled near an azure lake, or an ocean front home that provides us a great view of the world's ships passing by. This time, we're featuring some very pretty quilts that remind us of the joys of living near the water.

Red Sky At Night, 27 x 20, by Jean Baardsen

Here is a beautiful example of a mixed media quilt, where the sea glows with the magnificent colors of the sunset. Jean Baardsen painted white silk with textile paints and inks. She used one piece of fabric for the sky and water, then she used applique to fuse on the sailboat, island, and yellow strips for the reflection of the water. The rigging for the boat is done with thread painting. Jean writes, "A former sailor myself, this quilt was a delight to create."

Point Arena Lighthouse, 9.75 x 9, by Sandra Kintz, at Sentries of Light

For over ten years, Sandra Kintz has been producing fantastic lighthouse quilt patterns, which attain their precision through foundation paper piecing. Sandra develops her patterns based on the true-to-life drawings done by her husband Don of lighthouses of the Pacific Coast. Sandra notes that these patterns make lovely single miniature quilts, or they can be combined into a larger block-of-the-month sampler quilt. We love the vibrant contrasting colors of the land and sea in this quilt, which shows the lighthouse in an ever-vigilant but peaceful solitude. To see more of Sandra's exquisite lighthouse patterns and California mission patterns, including her new fusible applique patterns for large blocks, please take a look at her Sentries of Light website.

Sailing-Sailing, 36 x 40,  by Glenna Hailey, at Hollyhock Quilts

Do you need some inspiration for a pattern that uses up smaller pieces of fabric ? Here's an awesome stashbuster ! This adorable quilt takes only 12 fat quarters and 1.5 yards of background fabric. Notice the whimsical pinwheel vertical sashing and the cheerful sawtooth horizontal sashing to symbolize the waves on which the boats bounce along. This looks like such fun to make, and the pattern is available for purchase at Glenna's Hollyhock Quilts website. (Also, take a peek at Glenna's Rick-Rack Baskets quilt, which we featured recently.)  On her blog, she writes about her busy life as a designer of retro "feedsack" fabric, a quilt designer, a traveler, and a teacher.

Mukilteo Lighthouse, 53 x 53, by Lynn Majidimehr, LAM Designs

Lynn Majidimehr makes her home in the Pacific Northwest, and it's easy to see that she draws inspiration from the beautiful landmarks there. Here is her charming design of the lighthouse in Mukilteo, Washington, which faces out onto the Puget Sound. (Interested in Northwest pronunciation? These names are pronounced as muck-il-TEE-o and PYOO-jit !) The lighthouse sparkles with realism, due to the perfect perspective in which it is designed. The crabs in each corner of the quilt provide a touch of whimsy to this very eye-catching scene with its starry border and neat picket fence. If you'd like to purchase the pattern, it's available at her website, LAM Designs. On Lynn's blog you can read about her own inspiration and designs. Her bestselling book - which is now in its third printing - is
Flower Show Quilts: Stunning Applique on a Patchwork Canvas.

Sailboat Commission, 36 x 54, by Maggie Dillon

Using solid batiks with a hand-painted look, Maggie Dillon has created sailboats that look both stately and lively. This is one of Maggie's original designs in textile art, and it reveals her skillful use of color and pattern to portray the scene.  She has defined the line between the horizon and the ocean with a small strip of darker batik. She cut the strip with a gently rolling motion to portray the movement of the waves against a timeless sky. To see more of Maggie's original art quilts, including her fantastic portraits in fabric, please visit her sites, Maggie Dillon Designs and The Artist's Treatise Portfolio

Image credits and links:  Images are shown with the generous permission of the artists. Our original Nautical Quilts article appeared on July 26, 2010; links have been updated for this post.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

All tied up ! Quilts made from neckties

We're wrapping up our tie quilt series (and tying up the loose ends). Here are the fantastic quilts we've shown over the last two weeks, along with some invaluable resources: books, patterns, websites, blogs, and tutorials (whew !)

Row 1, L-R: Ira's Quilt, and Key Quilt, by Bet Ison at Home for Wayward Babydolls; Silk Orange Peel and Carnival, by Stacey Sharman at Peppermint PinwheelsRow 2: Tie Quilt by Bette Haddon at Studio Art Quilts; TieBurst by Matthew Spong at; Corporate Attire, by Dale Fleming at; Unwinding the MBA, by Caryl Bryer Fallert at Bryerpatch StudioRow 3:  Power Ties in Bloom, by Jennifer Ackerman-Haywood, at Craft Sanity; Movement, by Louise Silk, at Silk Quilt; Tie Quilt by Renay Martin, at Purse Strings Patterns; Wedding Quilt, by Matthew Spong, at Row 4: Power Ties in Bloom, by Jennifer Ackerman-Haywood at Craft Sanity;  Tie Repeat, by Louise Silk at Silk Quilt; Silk Tie Quilt, by Nancy Goodman, at; Tie Quilt, by Nancy Sturgeon, at Threads Through TimeRow 5:  Catch, by Nancy Gamon, at nancygamon; Small tie quilt, by Nancy Sturgeon, at Threads Through Time; Silk Tie Quilt, by Nancy Goodman, at; Necktie hanging, by Nancy Gamon, at nancygamon.

Patterns for Tie Quilts

Row 1: Pieced Silk Tie Quilt from 1865, Shelburne Museum collection, pattern at Hoopla Patterns; "Untitled" and "Enticement", by Karen K. Stone (these out-of-print patterns can be found at Embroidery Etcetera).  Row 2: Making Memories, by Deb Rowden; Quilts for Guys, by Cyndy Rymer; Daddy's Ties, by Shirley Botsford.  Row 3:  Indian Orange Peel quilt, in Karen K. Stone Quilts; and Bella Bella Quilts by Norah McMeeking.

Memory Quilts: see Alix Joyal at Mamaka Mills (and her tutorial, how to sew a memory quilt using a silk tie); Lori Mason at Lori Mason Designs; Connie Bloom at; and Cheryl Kirk at Sweet Dreams Quilting.

More necktie quilts and interesting blogs:  See "I've been working on the railroad", by Nann Blaine Hillyard, at With Strings Attached; Silk Treasure, by Barbara Hruby, at the Northern Lake County Quilters Guild; Sewing with Neckties and Woof Nanny are blogs written by Barb Lawrence.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Re-purposing neckties, by Nancy Gamon

~It's Day 12 of our 12-part series on quilts made from neckties!~
From her studio in Cincinnati, Ohio, Nancy Gamon transforms vintage neckties, clothing, and remnants into a whole range of decor and apparel items. One of the most creative textile artists we've seen, Nancy Gamon's work has been featured in Altered Couture; 1000 Ideas for Creative Reuse; and in a recent exhibit at NVISION.  Here are two examples of her ingenious creations.

Catch, 26.5 x 20.5, by Nancy Gamon, at Nancy Gamon

"Catch", shown above, was made with vintage neckties, thread, and interfacing, and backed with artists canvas.

Necktie Hanging, 16 x 20", by Nancy Gamon, as seen at Nancy Gamon on Flickr

We love the improvisational appearance of this colorful wall hanging, which was made with about a dozen vintage neckties. At her online boutique at you can find ruffled scarves, jewelry (check out her recycled-necktie cuff bracelets), fiber bowls, and other amazing creations. At her photostream, you can also see a photo of Nancy Gamon with her fabric stash (click here) !

Monday, June 20, 2011

Tie quilts and Peppermint Pinwheels

Now producing sophisticated,  modern designs, Stacey Sharman started sewing at age 8 on a treadle foot-operated sewing machine.  She opened her Peppermint Pinwheels quilt business in Berkeley, California in 2009.  She refers to herself as a "textile junkie", and she often mixes vintage and new materials.  Today, you can see that Stacey has ventured into the world of silk necktie quilts with really spectacular results.

Carnival quilt, 58 x 58", by Stacey Sharman, at Peppermint Pinwheels

In an interview at the Fat Quarterly Blog Stacey says, "You can’t go wrong with colors and fabrics you love. Value really is one of the most important aspects of having an interesting quilt, so pair the fabrics you adore with fabrics of a different value (light, medium, dark) and don’t be afraid to throw in a touch of something wild." In this case, one of the "wildest" and most interesting aspects is the choice of ruby red to accent the circular design, which highlights the precise border of geometric diamonds.

This "Carnival" quilt, made from tie silks and silk dupioni, was based on a pattern by Norah McMeeking from Bella Bella Quilts. Norah's book,  Bella Bella Quilts: Stunning Designs From Italian Mosaics, is an example of how tile patterns from floors and walls of past epochs can be incorporated into modern quilt making.  Stacey has taken these classic designs to a new level.

Silk Orange Peel quilt, 63 x 63", by Stacey Sharman, at  Peppermint Pinwheels

These silks, which reflect the light so well, were either samples or remnants - approximately 4.5 x 12"- from a factory that makes neckties. Stacey has blended the muted, yet eye-catching colors into a sparkling rainbow palette. Her "Silk Orange Peel" was based on the contemporary "Indian Orange Peel" pattern by Karen K. Stone. Stacey notes that "All foundation-pieced is the only way to go with silk quilting."  The results are gorgeous, as you can see here ! 

Stacey Sharman has interesting and useful quilting information at her blog, On the Design Wall, along with works in progress . We think you'll love Stacey's photos of her original, modern quilts on her Flickr page and the Peppermint Pinwheels store website.

Additional resources:  Images are shown with the generous permission of the artist. In addition, please see more information about Stacey Sharman and lovely photos in an interview at the Try Handmade blog.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Waste not, want not: a quilting tradition

Once upon a time... there was a magical place, just at the edge of the Appalachian mountains. A place where lost things are found; the discarded made useful. In this place, in Eastern Kentucky, quilting has a rich history and tradition that thrives to this day. This is the home of quilter Bet Ison and the Ison family, and where we found Bet's magnificent quilts.

Ira's quilt, by Bet IsonHome for Wayward Babydolls

We've always been fascinated by mathematical quilts, along with quilts made from ties and reclaimed clothing. This amazing quilt was made with denim, velveteen, neckties, and brocade. The quilt uses the golden mean to make a spiral, which you may know as a Fibonacci spiral. Did you also know that the golden mean was a fundamental principle in Greek philosophy? The Greeks believed there to be three 'ingredients' to beauty: symmetry, proportion, and harmony. They were very much attuned to beauty as an object of love. You can see this principle at work in Bet Ison's quilts.

Key Quilt, by Bet Ison, Home for Wayward Babydolls

We're enthralled by the Key Quilt, which is Bet Ison's masterpiece.  It took 7 years to make  (other quilts were made during this time.)  The quilt is about the things for which we all search, and about the epiphanies we have - those moments when suddenly the path to our goal becomes clear.  The quilt has a continuous line of color transformation  -- mostly made with ties!  Bet used other materials (old shirt, coat lining, scrap velvet, etc) for the repeating solid colors. The quilt is full of little games, stories and jokes.  For instance the border is a celtic "key" design.  In the photo above, the photo is shown hanging in Bet's former studio, where you can also see rows of neckties on the wall.  If you view the large image on Flickr you can read and ponder the embroidered quotations (e.g., "Chance favors the prepared mind"). 

Last but not least, here is a story about Bet Ison and her quilts from the Foothills Quilt Project (November, 2010)....

Image credits and links: Images are shown with the generous permission of Bet Ison.  You can also see a live interview of Bet Ison at the Eastern Kentucky Arts Project. There are some beautiful photos of the Home for Wayward Babydolls on Flickr.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Silk ties and textile art, by Nancy Goodman

When we came across this vibrant quilt we were struck by the colors. Although the quilt is made entirely from men's neckties, the warm golden yellows, oranges, and reds, combined with teal and royal blue, remind us of brightly colored silks from India or southeast Asia. The quilt was created by Nancy Goodman, a textile artist who has lived in Colorado, California, Gabon (Africa), New Mexico, and for the past 16 years in Alabama.

Silk Tie Quilt, 36 x 59", by Nancy W. Goodman

To make this quilt, Nancy Goodman started with a collection of neckties that were mostly dark red and navy blue, which were used to construct the kaleidoscope blocks. The pieced cross and borders were constructed with ties that were stripped and redyed with red, yellow and blue. Nancy explains: "For me, color drives a quilt. My primary task in designing a quilt is to figure out a way to distribute color over the two dimensions in a way that is pleasing and makes sense. I’ve found that as I move around the world, my sense of color changes dramatically, so that quilts I made while living in New Mexico, for example, are strikingly different from those produced in Alabama."

Nancy's interest in art quilts developed gradually, but took flight when she began dyeing her own fabric and abandoned traditional, templated patterns. Over time her interests have expanded to include many areas of fiber art: installations, public art, machine stitched embroidery, paper structures and books. She has exhibited throughout Alabama and in national quilt shows.

Image credits and links: For more information, visit Nancy Goodman's blog. The image is shown with the generous permission of the artist. Her statement on the use of color was published in Southern Artistry.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Corporate Attire, by Dale Fleming

One of the most intriguing contemporary tie quilts we've seen is "Corporate Attire" by Dale Fleming, who lives and works in Walnut Creek, California. The impetus for this quilt was her husband's decision to discard a number of silk ties after he had cleaned out his closet. The quilt received one of 7 awards granted at Quilt National '01 (out of 1,411 quilts submitted).

Corporate Attire, 46 x 62", by Dale Fleming

Dale's visually arresting quilt is made from silk ties and other silk fabrics; machine pieced and machine quilted. On her website, Dale explains that she has invented several methods to make machine piecing easier, one of which is a cross between paper piecing and foundation piecing, where the backing does not have to be removed. When the backing is kept intact, the quilter saves time, as well as providing a stabilizing effect for delicate silk fabrics.

Dale writes, "These ties with their rich colors, wonderful textures, and intricate designs just begged to be used." This quilt flows from a single square into a design-as-you-go quilt that plays with color, texture, value, and shape. It is as if she began working from the center out, to show that her designs and her life as an artist emanate from her core, evolving as they go.

In creating art from menswear, the quilter is often faced with the blessing of using fine silks and wools, but s/he also faces the challenge of drab corporate medium-value colors which do not provide much interest for the viewer's eyes. By selecting  pure reds and whites and juxtaposing them to show maximum contract, Dale solved this problem.  Dale combined the more subdued grays and navies together into a right-angle swath so that they do not diminish the high chroma reds, but rather provide a restful "negative space", much as shades of deep black serve to complement the brilliant jewel tones of Amish quilts.

Image credits and links:  The image is shown with the generous permission of Dale Fleming. "Corporate Attire" is featured in The Best Contemporary Quilts: Quilt National 2001 published by Lark Books. Dale Fleming is the author of Pieced Quilts So Simple by C&T Publishing.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

A Father's Day quilt

Here is a tie quilt that reminds us of an ornate tapestry. The quilt was created by Bette Haddon, an award-winning quilt artist who lives in beautiful DeFuniak Springs, Florida. She used whole ties along with tie tips, labels, and buttons, to create a highly textured surface (we counted over 200 buttons and labels).

Father's Day 1976, by Bette Haddon, at Studio ArtQuilts

In addition to the quilts shown on Bette Haddon's website, check out her stunning 2006 Color Dance quilt (you can see a photo of Bette at the St. Andrew's Bay Quilt Guild Scrapbook of Memories).

Image credits:  The quilt is shown with the generous permission of Bette Haddon of Studio ArtQuilts.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Memories in silk: the tie quilts of Louise Silk

It's Day 6 (of 12) of our most-beautiful-tie-quilts series and we have some delightful quilts to share with you this week. Louise Silk is an exceptional fiber artist whose work has focused on the healing power of memory quilts. Louise uses spiritual themes, photo transfers, recycled clothing, and embroidery in her creations.  We love the way in which her tie quilts go beyond traditional designs.

Movement, by Louise Silk, at Silk Quilt

The quilt called "Movement", above, is reminiscent of a crazy quilt and yet it is pictorial in nature. The strip-pieced red airplane appears to be soaring over fields and mountains. Notice the fragment of a red, white and blue flag in the upper left corner.

Tie Repeat, by Louise Silk, at Silk Quilt

An abstract work of textile art, the emphasis in "Tie Repeat" is on the artistic juxtaposition of the patterns, colors and values of the tie silks themselves.

In addition to working with neckties, Louise Silk has transformed t-shirts, clothing, and wedding dresses into quilts of all sizes and types. To see more of her inspiring creations, check out the tie quilts, commission quilts and original works of art in the Silk Quilt galleries.
Image credits and links:  Images are shown with the generous permission of Louise Silk. Her new book, The Quilting Path, includes images and instructions for truly unique quilts, such as Fragments of Life - a Remembrance Crazy Quilt and A Picture of Place and Time - Applique Quilt.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Power ties in bloom

It's day 5 of our series on quilts made from neckties, and we're so excited about "Power Ties in Bloom". This is a series of quilts made by Jennifer Ackerman-Haywood and exhibited at ArtPrize 2010. The ties were donated by West Michigan business men and community leaders.  Jennifer used the ties to create five different quilts with colorful, hexagon-shaped blooms.

We love Jennifer's creative re-use of neckties, and the way in which this classic quilt pattern has been made to look thoroughly modern.  Jennifer explains: "I took apart the ties, backed them with interfacing, cut them up into three inch squares and used an English paper piecing method to hand-stitch the tie fabric into hexagon shaped blooms. I hand-stitched the hexagon flowers together to form giant appliques to attach to backing fabric that I machine quilted.  About 25 volunteers helped me stitch more than 120 of these flowers."  All five of the "Power Ties in Bloom" can be seen at Jennifer's website, Craft Sanity. You can also see a videotaped interview of Jennifer, discussing Power Ties in Bloom, on YouTube.

Image credits and links: Images are shown with the generous permission of Jennifer Ackerman-Haywood.   Craft Sanity is her creative blog, podcast and magazine for those who love things handmade.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Unwinding the MBA, by Caryl Bryer Fallert

In honor of the U.S. holiday of Father's Day on June 19, we are featuring quilts made from men's ties. The tie has achieved notoriety as the traditional Father's Day gift to Dad from his family. In fact, the proverbial necktie gift is so ubiquitous that it is often the topic of jokes at this time of year.  However, some famous quilt artists have turned neckties into brilliant works of art. "Unwinding the MBA", by Caryl Bryer Fallert, won first place for inventive interpretation of an abstract theme at the 1985 National Quilting Association Show.

Caryl's fantastic quilt was inspired by her husband's decision to get rid of some old clothes. She wanted to make a quilt symbolizing her husband's coming home to relax after a stressful work day.  She writes, ''Many construction details of the original clothing were retained in the piecing. Dress shirt cuffs, collars, and ties form a spiral at the center of the quilt. Behind the spiral, at the top, are six inch squares of "serious suit" fabrics. 176 designer labels spill out of the spiral and continue around the border of the quilt". Caryl sewed the buttons back onto all the collars and cuffs, thereby tying the layers of the quilt together, and she sewed 13 watch faces across the "serious suit" fabrics to symbolize the time pressure under which businesspeople such as her husband worked. Progressing toward the bottom of the quilt, the fabric (squares) become more casual, mutating into diamonds, as corduroys and scraps from denim jeans, T-shirts, and flannel shirts are added.

While men's business clothes are sometimes seen as "drab" or "mundane", this quilt is lively and colorful.  Caryl used her quilting gifts in a highly original way to thank her husband for his gifts of time and effort on behalf of others.

In popular culture, the meaning of Father's Day has been extended to include all men who have played a special role in caring or nurturing us as a parent would do, including relatives, significant others, and good friends.  We think that a quilt is a heartfelt way to say "thank you" to anyone who provides for family and friends.

Image credits and links: The image is shown with the generous permission of Caryl Bryer Fallert. Caryl is an internationally recognized quilt artist whose patterns feature luminous colors and illusions of light, depth and motion. You can see dozens of Caryl's compelling designs at her Bryer Patch website.  For more information on the quilt shown above, see Unwinding the MBA.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Shirt-and-tie quilts, by Nancy Sturgeon

A necktie is a traditional gift for Father's Day.  But what if Dad already has a closet full of ties ? Nancy Sturgeon advises, "Start collecting your family ties before they are thrown away or donated to charity."  Nancy created an heirloom quilt by using about 100 different ties for the body of the quilt, and 140 tie tails for the prairie points.  Her masterpiece, shown below, includes almost the entire tie (tip, label, lining, and fabric).  

Tie quilt, 52 x 52", by Nancy Sturgeon, at Threads Through Time

Nancy explains the motivation for her 'tie quilts': "My neighbor, Donna, started this project. After her dad died, she wanted to make a quilt from his ties-- though she doesn't sew much at all. I found a book called Quilts for guys : 15 fun projects for your favorite fella, edited by Cyndy Lyle Rymer. In it was a wonderful quilt design, and Donna and I decided to make it.  I cracked the whip over my friend Donna to get her to finish her quilt and we are both proud of them, though they are very different."  Donna's sparkling quilt is shown below.

Nancy also made quite a few smaller wall hangings for friends and family from leftover ties: "The quilt below is the smaller wall hanging that I made my dad. I also made one for my daughter's father-in-law and my brother-in-law and my neighbor who gave me a stash of Jack Nicklaus golfing ties. One wall hanging was square and the others were rectangular... some times I used the small neck area of the tie for the binding, and some times I used the labels. Each wall hanging was different."

What we love about this story is not only the beautiful quilts themselves, but the way in which Nancy's projects have brought together neighbors, friends and family to create wonderful new memories. She even made a crazy quilt silk jacket for her mother using "golf" design ties. So, is Nancy getting tired of making quilts from neckties? She says: "I love ties and have a huge stash of them all ready to make another quilt."

Image credits and links: Images are shown with the generous permission of Nancy Sturgeon at Threads Through Time. To read the original post - with more details about Nancy's tie quilts - click here.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Tie Quilt, by Renay Martin

Renay Martin has been sewing since she made her first Barbie doll dress on Good Friday in third grade. Now she designs sophisticated and adorable purses, bags and totes at her own company, Purse Strings Patterns.  One day, while we were browsing Deb Rowden's blog, we came across this lovely tie quilt by Renay.

Tie Quilt, 35 x 45", by Renay Martin, at Purse Strings Patterns

We were charmed by the clever and artistic way in which Renay wove the blue and red ties together to create the quilt, which was made in memory of a longtime friend and business partner. The quilt was made with 56 of his ties. Renay removed the labels from all the ties and re-applied them in various positions on the front of the quilt.

Renay explains the story behind the quilt: "The tie quilt was created as a comforting remembrance for a dear friend of ours, Louise, who lost her husband, Les, to cancer in 2009. Les and my husband were partners in an architectural firm for several years. Being the consummate gentleman that Les was, he wore a coat and tie everyday of his 50 year career. (I used to tease him that he probably had a special tie to mow the lawn in !) I never saw him without one on. Several weeks after he died I asked Louise if I could have his ties but that I would return them in some sort of art form. We presented the "tie quilt" to her several months later. She decided to drape it over his worn black leather chair where it remains today. Louise has told me several times that she sits and "talks" to the quilt in hopes that Les can hear her. I'm so pleased that this labor of love can bring comfort to her deep loss, and that if she wants, she can sit with it wrapped around her or on her lap. So, that's the story of my 'tie quilt'."

Image credits: The image is shown with the generous permission of Renay Martin.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Waste not, want not: quilts from men's ties

In keeping with "waste not, want not" (the new austerity chic) we've been fascinated by quilts made from reclaimed clothing.  Have you ever thought about making a quilt from men's silk neckties?  Hang on to your hats (and ties) as we bring you the best tie quilts in the world.

Matthew Spong is an artist and designer in Sydney, Australia. About twenty years ago, he became interested in making quilts and wall hangings to sell at arts and crafts fairs near his home.

Tie Burst 1, by Matthew Spong, at

To make TieBurst, shown above, Matt Spong purchased a large quantity of used silk neckties, then set about creating a pattern.  After washing the ties and un-sewing the back seam,  he removed the interfacing from the center of the ties and ironed them flat. As you can see, these ties all have points at the end, and Matt worked to incorporate the points into his design, rather than simply cutting them off.  Making use of the natural shape, he  came up with a type of  "Dresden Plate" pattern, where the long straight edges are sewn together and the points radiate out like a sunburst. Not wanting to waste the skinny part of the ties that go around the back of the neck, he cut them into small straight strips to make the center circle. This was the first design (though not the first actual quilt, that got sold). According to Matt, "it was simplicity to make".

Wedding quilt (Kate and Adams Quilt), by Matthew Spong

Matt Spong also became interested in turning silk ties into traditional bed-size quilts, or duvet covers, into which a comforter or blanket could be inserted. (In Australia, a duvet or down quilt is also called a "Doona"). In the beautiful Wedding Quilt shown above, the squares are about 3 cm across. Note that the pure, intense colors for which silk is noted, really cause the squares to "pop" off this quilt, especially the brilliant reds and burgundies. For more photos of this quilt, see Matt Spong's photostream on Flickr.

Matt has made hexagonal tie quilts, in a type of "Grandma's Flower Garden" arrangement, along with square patchwork quilts in a type of "Sunshine and Shadow" pattern. He explains that the quilts made of squares were more challenging, because the squares had a tendency to go diagonal, and it was difficult to get the seams to line up properly.  (Small squares must be cut exactly perfect on the straight grain of fabric, which may be difficult to do when working with recycled clothing, or they have a tendency to want to go diagonal; that is a problem that challenges even the most experienced quilters). For a construction tip from Matt, see the comments on his Flickr page.

Bitmapped images: Michelle Quilt, by Matthew Spong


One of Matt's most interesting quilts was designed from a photo of the face of Michelle Walker, his partner. He changed the photo into a bitmap image, using a graphic converter program on a Mac, with a pre-chosen palette of red, blue, yellow, cyan, magenta, green, black and white. That software program then produced produced a design which specifies each pixel (or tiny square) by the number of its color. The tiny squares became 5,924 pieces of cotton fabric, which he sewed together in the precise arrangement specified by the software design.   He finished it just in time for Valentine's Day, then hung the quilt from an upstairs balcony as a tribute to Michelle. What a romantic gift !  You can read about the design and construction at the Michelle Quilt page, and see more photos at Matt Spong's photostream on Flickr.  This quilt looks challenging, but absolutely fascinating to design and construct.

Image credits and links:  Matt Spong works at Reverse Garbage, one of Australia's best known and most highly regarded creative re-use organisations. Reverse Garbage has been operating since 1974; they provide high quality, low priced, useful and unusual materials for use in arts, craft, education, small business, home renovation and other activities. What a fabulous idea.... we wish we had such a place near us !

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Exotic flower quilts (we're dreaming of paradise)

Here are the stunning flower quilts we've been writing about for the last week.   As you can see, each quilter has her own unique style.  These exotic flowers bring to mind Hawaii and other tropical climes.  We wish we were there (but this is the next best thing !)  We hope you've enjoyed the show too.

Image credits and links: Row 1, Sylvia Pippen, Sylvia Pippen Designs; Row 2, Eileen Sullivan, The Designer's Workshop; Row 3, Brenda Yirsa, at Bigfork Bay Cotton Company; Row 4, Ellen Lindner, Adventure Quilter; Row 5, Vyvyan Emery, Rosewood Quilts.
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