Friday, July 29, 2011

Top of the range designs

What child doesn’t love dragons, fairies, wizards and dinosaurs…. kangaroos, koalas, and kookaburras… or puppies and kittens? From the top of the Blackall Range in South Eastern Queensland, Australia, designer Tracey Campbell has created an amazing range of artistic designs for applique. Her Top of the Range Designs include many really cute quilts for kids.

A Kangaroo's rest, 34 x 21", by Tracey Campbell, at Top of the Range Designs

This is exactly what a kangaroo looks like when it is resting ! "A Kangaroo's Rest" is a beautiful hand or machine applique design that includes full instructions for the applique, and optional embroidery embellishments. Fly stitch and French knots, or long stitch and beads, were added to simulate trees on the distant hills and wild grasses on the closer areas.

Koalas, 21 x 34", by Tracey Campbell, at Top of the Range Designs

We love the colors and design of this little quilt, with its blue sky, green gum tree leaves and pink flowers. Little seed beads, and french knots in various shades of pink, were used to embellish the gum-nut flowers. At Tracey's Australian animals page there are patterns for kookaburras, cockatoos and possums, and her Nature collection includes whales, dolphins, frogs, puppies and kittens.

Spell-Caster, 26 x 36", by Tracey Campbell, at Top of the Range Designs

The spectacular Spell-Caster, above,  is just one of the magical Fantasy patterns by Tracey Campbell. This wizard charms the stars from the heavens, much to the delight of his curious cats. An added sparkle embellishes the stars with the addition of sequins and seed beads, to make them appear to shimmer. 

Angel's Flight, 26 x 36", by Tracey Campbell, at Top of the Range Designs

This lovely Angel wall hanging was stitched with needleturn applique, but it would also look great using other forms of applique. A lot of extra sparkle was given to the angels gown, and her halo, with the addition of sequins and shiny beads. This wall hanging would be perfect as a gift for anyone who is a real-life angel, or as a symbol of an angel that watches over children to keep them safe.

Image credits and links: Images are provided with the generous permission of Tracey Campbell. At Top of the Range Designs you can find original and colorful applique patterns, creative stitchery kits and supplies, cross-stitch charts, beautiful beads, and free lessons.  For beginners who want to tackle these and other patterns, Tracey has written a tutorial called How to Applique.  Also check out her patterns for dinosaurs and fire-breathing dragons.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Cute as a button: Buttons and Bees

As metaphors for quilts go, "cute as a button" is spot on. The phrase was inspired by the cute and fluffy button quail.  Buttons also keep you warm and protected ("button up your overcoat" !)  Buttons are often beautiful to look at -- which may be why grandmas once collected them in jars. All of which brings us to Buttons and Bees*, purveyors of unique buttons, quilt patterns, and cozy hand-dyed wool.

Cat's Cradle, 36 x 42", by Kim Gaddy, at Buttons and Bees

We love these minimalist kitties, and the cute mouse in the lower right corner.  "Cat's Cradle" is mostly pieced, so it goes together quickly. If you are a dog person, check out Puppy Playtime and Big Dog Little Dog.  Kits are also available on the Buttons and Bees shopping page.

Night owl, 48 x 49", by Kim Gaddy, at Buttons and Bees

These sweet owls with their button eyes are sharing the tree with a possum, while fireflies light up the night sky. The pattern includes both Night Owl and Day Owl versions ! The bright and sunny Day Owl quilt has ladybugs.

Ladybug Lane, 44 x 52", by Kim Gaddy, at Buttons and Bees

"Ladybug Lane" will delight every child who loves the little red bugs.  The ladybug lane kit includes the pattern, fabric for the quilt top, and buttons to decorate the ladybug wings.

Live Simply lap quilt, by Kim Gaddy, at Buttons and Bees

The words of wisdom in "Live Simply" speak for themselves, so we'll sign off now... but not before mentioning a few more Buttons and Bees patterns we think you'll love:  Honey Bee Houses, Love is Patient, and Born to Quilt.

Image credits and links:  Images are shown with the generous permission of Kim Gaddy.  Kim and her husband, Mark, first launched Buttons and Bees in 1991. Kim was experimenting with ceramics and making buttons for her sewing projects while Mark was a budding beekeeper. For more information, see Buttons and Bees:  About Us.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Cute quilts for kids? Piece o'cake!

Classic literature for children comes alive in this kids' quilt which celebrates the world of Mother Goose.  A great way to teach a little one these beloved poems, "Rhymes I Remember" is a show-stopping, heirloom-quality quilt in which poetry is illustrated in cloth.  How many poems can you identify, and which is your favorite? Let us know in the comments below.

Rhymes I Remember, by Becky Goldsmith and Linda Jenkins, 44 x 53 at Piece O' Cake Designs

The restful deep blue tones of the outer border symbolizing the night sky are juxtaposed with a complementary bright orange border, tinted with greens and yellows. Notice how the prairie points of the border tie in the with the points of the stars on each corner to produce a beautiful unified effect. The 12 blocks, each 8 inches square, would make an enchanting block-of-the-month project. Or, because many hands make light work, a group of quilters could be assigned several blocks to make this fun project quickly.

Detail of the "Three Bears" and "Owl and the Pussycat" blocks

These blocks are designed for maximum whimsical effect and are a great way to use up tiny pieces of much loved scraps that you just can't "bear" to throw away.  Look at the exquisite detail of the faces on the bears, owl, and pussy cat, and you'll see why this quilt provides so much charm and entertainment for both children and adults. "Rhymes I Remember" is a 28-page downloadable file that comes direct to your computer, complete with full-size pattern pieces.

Meow and Woof, by Becky Goldsmith and Linda Jenkins, 45 x 60", at Piece O' Cake Designs

Becky and Linda say, "Celebrate your favorite furry friends with this cute quilt!"  The full size, downloadable pieces are large and easy to applique, and the 4-patches are simple enough for a beginning piecer.  We are impressed with the effective use of different gauge plaids and stripes of the cats and dogs. Because there is some distance between the animals, there is enough space to showcase the different patterns without appearing too busy.

In addition, check out the Piece o'Cake books shown below, whose patterns are great for kids: Covered with Love (Kids' Quilts and More) and the brand new book (2011) Quilt a New Christmas. Here are five festive holiday quilt patterns, complete with houses, trees, reindeer, Santas, and snowmen (you can preview the projects here). These fun projects will put you in the holiday mood fast, even in July ! 

Image credits and links
: Images are shown with the generous permission of Becky Goldsmith and Linda Jenkins at Piece O'Cake Designs.

Monday, July 25, 2011

A Quilt Story, by Heather and Megan

Mod Tweet, indeed ! It’s Day 6 of our “cute quilts for kids” series. This is a story of Heather and Megan, two sisters with the love of all things crafty who have created Quilt Story.  Based in Arizona, their company features patterns with a contemporary, upbeat feel. We love their mod themes and easy-to-sew designs.

Mod Tweet, 43 x 50“, by Heather and Megan, at Quilt Story

Simple and elegant, "Mod Tweet" features a bird and branch/leaf appliqué that is small enough to be completed in a couple of evenings. At the Quilt Story shop you can see that this quilt looks great in many different colorways.

Circus Stack (elephant, giraffe, bunny), 43 x 51" , by Heather and Megan, at Quilt Story

The whimsical and precarious "Circus Stack" features a juggling bunny, a giraffe, and an elephant, all balancing on a circus ball. Heather explains: "I loved this cute Urban Circus from Robert Kaufman... my brain went a little wild". You can read about the collaborative design and inspiration for the quilt, here. You can even add the initial of your little one on the ball.

Easy Sailing, 39.5 x 44.5“, by Heather and Megan, at Quilt Story

Nice view ! Sweet and simple sailboats glide softly on the sea... we love the wavy lines that define the ocean waves.  "Easy Sailing" is such a fun nautical pattern, which Heather & Megan introduced this spring (you can read about the quilt here). This quilt has a great combination of cool, aqua-colored water and warm, polka-dotted boats (note the little red flags on the boats, which are matched by the tiny flag on the sand castle).

Image credits: Images are shown with the generous permission of Heather and Megan at Quilt Story.  At the Quilt Story blog you can find tutorials, quilt-alongs, new patterns, and more.

Friday, July 22, 2011

All God's critters got a place in the choir

Lions, tigers, and bears (oh my!)  It's day 5 of our "cute quilts for kids" series.  Linda Hohag’s "critter" quilts feature creatures from the forest, farm, jungle, and sea. The critters dancing in the moonlight, below, include a moose, raccoon, cat, dog, chicken, pig, penguin, turtle, duck, monkey, elephant, zebra, and more.  Where did all these critters come from? Read on...

Critters Dancin' in the Moonlight, by Linda Hohag at Brandywine Design

Each critters book has multiple projects including mini-quilts. The adorable Critter Caboodle,  below left, and heartwarming Critter Christmas (below, right) feature oodles of critters in various settings. There is even a spooky Critter Halloween !

Last but not least, here is the pattern for the original Critters Quilt (below). The description reads: "This adorable wall quilt has critters who are singing their way into your heart. From the cow to the cricket playing a fiddle, this project will keep you smiling."

So, what inspired Linda to create her critter quilts ? She explains: " 'The Critters Quilt' was the first book I published, and it was successful enough to prompt many re-prints. It was a request by a friend of mine to design a quilt based on the folk song, 'All God's critters got a place in the choir'. I obtained permission from Bill Staines, the man who wrote the song, to use it as the basis for the quilt and to include the song lyrics and music in the original book. After the book was finally out of print, we got so many requests for the quilt that we brought it back as a single pattern."  And how about you, dear reader.... do you know the song?  Here is a 2-minute video - sung by the Irish duo, Makem & Clancy - that has been viewed over 150,000 times on YouTube.

To our surprise, the lyrics have even been published on the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) website (where it also explains that "pets can be good for your health".)  But they don't mention the health benefits of singing.... or quilting !

Image credits and more great quilts:  Images are shown with the generous permission of Linda Hohag at Brandywine Design. Linda is an artist who has published over 60 patterns and fifteen books with her original quilt designs and illustrations; she also designs fabric for P&B Textiles.  In addition to her books, her website is loaded with patterns for cute quilts for kids: be sure to check out Turtle Town, Just Ducky, Hooterville, Puppy Love, and Humpty Dumpty (to mention just a few). We also featured Linda Hohag's "Tulip Twirl" pattern in our article on red-and-green quilts: Inspired by Red and Green).

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Cute quilts for kids.... it's playtime !

"Playrooms are filled with dreams and imagination runs wild. Toys scattered all over the floor means little minds at play are doing their 'work' for the day." At American Jane, designer Sandy Klop has created charming patterns to celebrate the joys of childhood. These fun quilts are festooned with antique toys (planes, trains and automobiles) and games (parcheesi, anyone?)  

Playtime, 70 x 83", by Sandy Klop, at American Jane

An elephant pull-toy, wind-up dancing bear, vintage airplane and three-wheeled scooter are just a few of the toys that decorate the "Playtime" quilt.  The quilt description reads: "Toys scattered all over the floor means little minds at play are doing their "work" for the day. May we all find play in our work."

Learn to Play, 60 x 63”, by Sandy Klop, at American Jane

This might be our favorite American Jane pattern, and another sign of Sandy Klop's ingenuity... quilt blocks that depict board games ! The names of the games are appliqued around the border, but you could also make this as a purely graphic quilt and see if people recognize the games (how about Brax, which was invented in 1889 ?)

Whales and Pails, 44 x 61”, by Sandy Klop, at American Jane

Sun, sand, and surf means a day at the beach. Or cozy and cool at home in the baby’s room. The snail's trail blocks in this cute beach-y quilt remind us of ocean waves. The pails are made with Sandy Klop's illustrated designs for Moda Fabrics... she designs a new collection for Moda every six months. The new Fairy Tale Friends collection, which will be out in October 2011, has argyle, pin dots, and tickets (you can see the fabric in her Sailing the Seven Seas quilt pattern).

Sandy's inspiration comes from many sources: conversations with friends, vintage toys, books, old quilts, tile patterns, architecture, travel, childhood memories, movies, drapes, clothing, nature, and dreams, and sometimes inspiration just strikes out of the blue. For more insight, see the interview at Quilter's Newsletter.

Image credits: Images are shown with the generous permission of American Jane. Sandy Klop also has a book of her classic quilt patterns, published by Martingale & Company: American Jane's Quilts for All Seasons: and Some for No Reason.  You can also download free vintage quilts wallpaper for your desktop at the Martingale site.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Legends and dreams: Noah's ark and Sugarplum Village

It's Day 3 of our "Cute Quilts for Kids" series !  Today we're featuring different types of cozy shelters, from arks to birdhouses. These enchanting patterns are from Laura Nownes ("From Me to You"*).  Her classic depiction of the legend of Noah's Ark is made with pieced nine-patch blocks and silhouette applique shapes that show the animals entering the ark two by two, safe from the flood.

Noah's Ark, 41 x 67", by Laura Nownes at

Perfect for confident beginners and all levels beyond that, this quilt presents a sophisticated finished look, but is relatively easy to assemble. What a wonderful opportunity to use the earth tones and sky tones in your stash, whether you've saved up batiks, landscape fabrics, or calicos. Suitable for all ages, it can also be a really fun vocabulary lesson for younger kids, as they learn to identify animals by their names.  How many different animals can you find here?  We've counted at least 14.

Sugarplum Village, 64 x 64", by Laura Nownes at

We love quilts with a house theme, and what could be more adorable than a confectioners' collection of lollipops, candy canes, and peppermints? A child would love to dream about living in this village. The use of both polka dot and striped fabric is an example of how contrasting patterns can be juxtaposed to really make a quilt block "pop". Notice how the cheerful rick-rack theme is carefully repeated both in the outer border and the trimming on the roofs, which remind us of yummy decorated cake frosting. This pattern brings out the sweet tooth in everyone.

Left: Q is for Quilt (cover quilt: "Birds Return")
Right: "Our House" quilt pattern, by Laura Nownes
Laura Nownes' highly successful workshops, patterns, and books appeal to all levels of quilters, and her patterns are designed to be easy to follow. A beginning quilter could start out with the simple but decorative "Our House" pattern, right,  which uses simple shapes to create a 62 x 71.5" quilt; we love the pieced bricks and shingles on the house.  The really cute birdhouses in "Birds Return", left, are on the cover of the book Q is for Quilt by Diana McClun and Laura Nownes.

*Image credits and links: Images are shown with the generous permission of Laura Nownes. Many wonderful patterns resulted from Laura's collaboration with co-author Diana McClun, who recently retired. We previously featured their quilts in these posts: Simple Shapes by Diana and Laura and Tumbling Blocks divided by 4 or 9.  Laura's newest venture is See How We Sew,  a collective of four experienced craftswomen—Christie Batterman, Laura Nownes, Jennifer Rounds, and Darra Williamson—who share a passion for quilting and other fiber arts.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Cute quilts for kids... Don't Look Now !

Australian designer Kellie Wulfsohn, who designs under the name Don't Look Now, has created a wonderful collection of quilts for kids.  Her distinctive style includes bright, primary colors on a white background, resulting in a fresh and contemporary look. Kellie's whimsical quilts are often inspired by her own children (she is a mother of four).

Peak Hour, 56.5 x 56.5”, by Kellie Wulfsohn, at Don't Look Now

This fun quilt will delight every child who is fascinated with transportation.  Traffic signs help direct the flow in "Peak Hour", which features stylized trucks, motor scooters, and cars (some of the cars are even being towed away ! )  We love the clever 'stoplight' border, which is made of red, yellow and green circles. The pattern uses raw-edge appliqué (see the detail below).

Animal Alphabet, by Kellie Wulfsohn, at Don't Look Now

Upper and lower case letters are illustrated with adorable creatures from the animal kingdom.  The quilt even serves double duty as an 'I Spy' game:  can you find the dragon, iguana, kangaroo, octopus, unicorn and vulture?

Worry Dolls, 52 x 52”, by Kellie Wulfsohn, at Don't Look Now

Kellie Wulfsohn came up with such a clever idea:  a quilt covered with worry dolls.  Worry dolls are a tradition of Guatemalan children, who make tiny colorful dolls from sticks and fabric. A child who cannot sleep due to worrying can express their worries to a doll and place it under their pillow at night. According to legend, the doll will worry in the child's place, thereby permitting the child to sleep peacefully. With this cozy and cheerful quilt, a good night's sleep is sure to follow.

Image credits: Images are shown with the generous permission of Kellie Wulfsohn of Don't Look Now. You can read about Kellie on her biography.  We also featured Kellie's Alphabet Soup pattern in our post on The ABCs of Quilting.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Cute quilts for kids (a new series ! )

Lions, tigers and, trucks and trains... fairy tales, and puppy dog tails.  We searched the globe for cute quilts for kids, and reviewed patterns from more than 100 designers; then selected 10 for this series*.  To qualify, the quilts had to be extremely cute (but not excessively cutesy) and unlike anything else out there. We think you'll love what we found... so let's get started !

Sand castles, 73 x 81", by Rebecca Johnson, at Chasing Cottons

We think that every child (and adult) would love these dreamy Sand Castles. The charming prints, sand-colored border, and easy piecing are all part of this quilt's appeal.  We've elected to show the quilt top so you can see the piecing, but you can view the finished quilt at the Chasing Cottons Shop. Rebecca Johnson's patterns are perfect for modern fabric collections, as you can see below (to learn about her favorite fabrics, check out her post called Fabric Fabric Fabric !!!)

Curlicue Crush, Rolling Meadows, and Kaleidoscope, by Rebecca Johnson at Chasing Cottons

Image credits and links:  Images are shown with the generous permission of Rebecca Johnson, who lives and works in the Central Coast (New South Wales), Australia. For the full story of "Chasing Cottons", see Where It All Began.  In addition to her tutorials, Rebecca offers Quilt Class 101 with free lessons on quilting techniques.

*Footnote:   We previously featured quilts for kids in our articles on Alphabet quilts (the ABCs of Quilting), Esch House Quilts (simple, modern shapes) and Quiltsrÿche (Dare to be Square).

Friday, July 15, 2011

By the sea: Beach Cottages

In the middle of a hectic day or a dreary winter night, who hasn't thought about escaping to the paradise of a warm beach, replete with graceful palm trees and cozy, inviting cottages? Well, Beth Maddocks has designed this ultimate vacation quilt. Even when we rest our eyes on it briefly, "Beach Cottages" provides a relaxing visual getaway. Grab your surfboards and make a run from your ocean-front home for the dancing waves of this darling quilt pattern !

Beach Cottages, 57 x 67", by Beth Maddocks, at Piece by Number

The intensity of the sun at most beaches creates an outdoor scene with pure colors, such as Beth has used here. Because beach scenes are often predominated with light and deep values of cyan and cerulean blue, there is an absence of the muted, toned shades that exist when sunlight is filtered through leaves and branches, as in woodland scenes.  The striped border of "Beach Cottages" uses both clear, pure pastels and high chroma brights to provide the sun-dappled effect. Here's a good way to use up bits and pieces of your favorite stash fabrics. Use pastel sky blue fabric to create the background, just as you would in constructing a landscape quilt. At the Beach cottages pattern page on Etsy, Beth suggests: "Choose fabrics reminiscent of your favorite beach -- South Pacific batiks, Caribbean brights, Bermuda pastels, African prints, or Californian/Mediterranean white, terracotta and turquoise. Personalize your quilt with novelty fabric faces in the windows, embroidered flowers, fish in the ocean, shells on the sand, novelty buttons -- your imagination is the only limit."

Beth Maddocks is an expert in paper-pieced or foundation-pieced quilts, in which the fabric shapes are sewn onto a printed design one by one. Because the paper (or cloth) backing serves to stabilize the fabric, this process makes it easy to handle small pieces of material and create sharp corners and accurate shapes such as the roofs, windows, doors, cabanas, crests of the waves, and palm trees in Beach Cottages.

Beth makes her home in Geneva, Switzerland, where she writes about her adventures on her blog, Piece of Mind. For more of her designs, please visit her website, Piece By Number. Also don't miss the  amazing variety of free patterns on her site (it's a great place to learn and practice foundation piecing !)

Image credits:  Images are shown with the generous permission of Beth Maddocks. To purchase her patterns, visit her Piece by Number shop.

Note: Do you love all kinds of "house" quilts, as we do ? Check out the following articles from 2010:  Our Town, Our Town Part 2, Our Town Part 3, Our Town Part 4, Our Town Part 5, and Our Town Part 6.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

By the sea...

Whether you live in the Northern or Southern hemisphere, July is a good time to head to a beach (either to cool off or to warm up).  Alternatively, you can enjoy the seashore through the work of one outstanding textile artist: Iris Sonnenschein. Based in Massachusetts, Iris finds her inspiration in nature, music and works of art. She excels in combining textures and colors to evoke a sense of place, as seen in the beautiful sand and sea quilts in her nature gallery.

Made in the Shade, 26.5 x 39.5, by Iris Sonnenschein, at Iris Quilts

We love these colorful striped umbrellas and the wavy sand. Tiny sailboats dot the horizon, adding to this peaceful scene. Iris says: "The idea of creating a piece of art that can be touched, and can reflect a mood or a moment, feeds my creative energies; working with clients to create art that speaks uniquely to them, feeds my spirit."

Solitude, 27 x 23.5", by Iris Sonnenschein, at Iris Quilts

After creating "Surf Sound" for the Yawkey Family Inn (see her Public Art gallery), Iris Sonnenschein created this larger quilt with a red Adirondack chair at the ocean's edge. Small areas of the quilt have overlays of organza to create patches of shimmering sand.

While you are browsing the Iris Quilts website, don't miss her absolutely delightful Goddesses (you'll see "Nature Goddesses" and "Wild Women") and her magical Figures.  You'll see couples who float and fly over the land in a manner reminiscent of Chagall.

Image credits
: Images are shown with the generous permission of Iris Sonnenschein.  You can also see her work at the Homegrown-Studios in the seaside community of Rockport, Massachusetts.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Simple shapes in quilting

Last week we featured top designers whose easy-to-piece quilts feature simple shapes: squares, rectangles and/or triangles. The results are simply beautiful ! The original articles are: Simple dimensional shapes:  Joen Wolfrom Designs; Simple modern shapes: Esch House Quilts; Simple shapes, jelly rolls and i Candy; Simple shapes by Diana and Laura; Simple shapes in fabulous fabrics; and Simple shapes: jelly roll quilts and other confections.  Links to the designers' sites are below the photos.

Row 1: Joen Wolfrom, at JWD PublishingRow 2: Debbie Grifka, at Esch House QuiltsRow 3:  Stephanie Sheffield, Amy Walsh and Janine Burke, at Blue Underground Studios. Row 4: Laura Nownes and Diana McClun, at Laura Nownes. Row 5: Pamela Goecke Dinndorf, at Aardvark QuiltsRow 6: Lori Allison, at Allison Quilt Designs.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Quilt Inspiration classics: Aquarium quilts and seascapes

This week, we're going positively aquatic! Today's quilts will make you feel that you can dive right in to the underwater scenery. The quilts we're showing include fish, turtles, and other sea-dwelling creatures, in settings that evoke the color and movement of the sea. What a way to keep (your) cool !

Koi, 40 x 68 (or miniature Koi, 11 x 13), by Lydia Russell Albers and Carol Morrissey, at O Carol Designs

Carol Morrissey is renowned for her vibrant, artistic designs. We love "Koi", above, by Lydia Russell Albers and Carol Morrissey, with its orange and red fish cavorting among stylized blue waves. The miniature version (11 x 13) features a single koi, which would make a beautiful motif within an Asian-inspired quilt.   Another stunning aquatic quilt is "Follow Me", below, which measures 40" x 50". The giant green sea turtles are so realistic...the turtle in the foreground appears to be swimming right towards us!

For more aquatic designs by Carol Morrissey, check out Swim PartyClown School (with a school of clownfish, of course), and Standing Room Only, to mention just a few ... we're particularly fond of  The Toad ( formerly known as Prince) (!)  Her patterns can be found on the patterns page at O Carol Designs. 

Seascape I and Seascape II,  by Marjan Kluepfel

Marjan Kluepfel is a fabric artist whose work has been shown in galleries around the world.  The inspiration for her magnificent seascape quilts comes from her scuba diving trips on reefs around the Hawaiian islands, and Australia. Seascape I is in a private collection, but Marjan offers a pattern for the dreamy Seascape II, which is shown above. The brightly colored hand-dyed fabric, which blends from blue-green up to yellow,  creates the impression of the sun penetrating the ocean depths; and the textural embellishments really bring the reef to life.   Marjan teaches some great workshops, including one devoted just to seascapes.  Her work can be viewed in her online galleries.

Blue Lagoon, 41 x 41, and Sandhill Cranes, 67 x 63, by Louisa L. Smith, at Quilt Escapes LLC

Louisa L. Smith is a fabric artist, designer, and teacher, whose work has been described as "painting with fabric".  The radiant Blue Lagoon is an example of a "creative nine-patch" quilt, while Sandhill Cranes uses a special curved diamond template; these are just two of the projects in the One Patch Plus book by Louisa L. Smith and Lisa Harris. In these quilts, a few dramatic elements are appliqued on top of pieced backgrounds that evoke the sea and sky. As in all of Louisa L. Smith's art quilts, the colors and values of the fabrics are expertly blended to create a sense of depth and movement (witness the beautiful blue Cycloid II).  Also check out her classes and lectures, which include "The Wonderful Art of Stripping"!

Beach Walk, 59 x 73,  including Whale Watch, by McKenna Ryan, at Pine Needles

Beach Walk has become a seascape classic; we especially like the Water Ballet (jellyfish) and the Whale Watch block, shown above...okay, we like 'em all.   Her other aquatic series include Sea Breeze, which includes a cute pufferfish (Koo Koo Puff); and her newest design, Something Fishy.  And here is something fun about the Pine Needles site:  you can send a free electronic postcard of any quilt block to a friend (how cool is that?)  Check it out by clicking on the exquisite LOVE quilt block (or if you happen to know someone who is snooty, consider sending The Snooty Sisters !

Aquarium Art Quilts: For even more inspiration,  take a quick peek at a few quilts by these outstanding quilters (you'll be glad you did): Janice Potter's Lion of the Sea;  Jean Baardsen's Raffle Reef and aquarium quilts;  Mary Butler's  Into the Deep;   Betty Busby's aquarium quilts at bbusbyarts;  Debra Harry's aquarium and mermaid quilts; and Stacy West's underwater gallery.

Fish samplers:Hmmm, a fish sampler sounds like something on a sushi menu (sashimi, anyone?) But of course we're talking about fish sampler quilts. See the Under The Sea series by Barbara Bieraugel, who lives in Hawaii (lucky devil). Now someone just has to design a sushi sampler quilt so we know what to order at the sushi bar!

Image credits and links: Images are shown with the generous permission of the artists.  This article was first published at Quilt Inspiration on August 9, 2010.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Simple, dimensional shapes: Joen Wolfrom Designs

We've always been partial to dimensional quilts, and Joen Wolfrom is a master of the genre. Joen has been part of the quilt-teaching and designing scene for 30 years, and she is known for her expert use of color and her simple, clean design lines. Joen is the owner of JWD Publishing, a pattern company that publishes high-quality patterns for quilters of all skill levels and interests.

Northern Lights, by Joen Wolfrom, at JWD Publishing

Northern Lights is based on a simple rail fence pattern, made with 1-3/4" strips. The variations in value and color from one block to the next make this quilt's beautiful, yet simple design vibrate with energy. "Northern Lights" is also a stunning example of a rainbow quilt.  We took this photo last year at the 32nd anniversary of The Cotton Patch in Lafayette, California (the quilts were hanging from the trees !)

Stepping out, by Joen Wolfrom, at JWD Publishing

The shading of four-patch and square-within-square blocks gives an interesting optical illusion; the warm four-patch blocks in the lower right advance, while the cool four-patch blocks in the upper left recede.  The variations in value, and the color contrasts, keep the eye moving across the surface of this quilt. See if you can identify the focal point.

Tropical Morning, by Joen Wolfrom, at JWD Publishing

"Tropical Morning" is made entirely of simple half-square triangles.  The lattice arrangement of light, medium and dark values creates a variety of three-dimensional shapes, from pyramids to prisms.  You probably know about Joen Wolfrom's popular books on color in quilting... this quilt is a striking example of the use of analogous blue-green and green-yellow color schemes.

Image credits and links: For more information, see Joen Wolfrom's website. Her latest book, Adventures in Design, will be released in the fall of 2012 and joins Joen’s other books, including Visual Coloring, Color Play, The Visual Dance, and many others. Joen Wolfrom is also the inventor of the popular 3-in-1 Color Tool.  You can also find JWD Publishing on Facebook.
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