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Thursday, May 29, 2014


A Patchwork Garden Year Redwork Block of the Month
One lovely project we found at the Spring 2014 Quilt Market the other week is a Redwork Block of the Month program.  We've been searching for a nice Redwork pattern(s) for a while now, and we're just thrilled to have found this one.

It is A Patchwork Garden created by Kathy Schmitz for Moda.  She has created twelve 12" square blocks of fun designs - not too cute and not too sophisticated.  Additionally what we loved about this Redwork program is that it is not traditional redwork.  We're going to suggest that you use different shades of red Perle Cotton thread (or DMC floss).  The redwork embroidery will actually be done on a dark beige, or tan if you will, fabric that also has a crackled texture on it.  And then the pieced blocks surrounding the embroidery will be a mix of lovely graphic designed fabric of reds and creams.  The fabric will be from Moda's collection - A Patchwork Garden.

But what is Redwork, or traditional Redwork?

Traditionally the floss used is a DMC floss, usually color #321, but there have been some variances.  And once the red color selected, it would be used throughout the entire needlework.  Also the embroidery is usually done on a muslin and the pieced work surrounding the embroidery has been done using solid reds, whites and or cream fabrics.

The craft of Redwork is a style of decorative needlework that has been around since Victorian times, the late part of the nineteenth century.  It was a technique used to teach young girls their stitches that consists of embroidering the outline of designs onto a white or off-white background with a contrasting color thread.  It was also something the more wealthy ladies did, since they did not have to do "housework."

This simple, yet striking style is called Redwork for several reasons. Red thread is typically used in this style because the red color contrasts well against a light background also, during the nineteenth century when the style first became popular, artists could obtain a red thread that was "colorfast," meaning that the red coloring would not wash out or "bleed" onto the white fabric.  However this same type of needlework has also been done in blues and blacks as well. Today you might Redwork designs done assorted red colors to add depth or in a variegated red (or blue). We're rather excited about our new program!  It will begin October 2014.  We encourage you to sign up now in order to participate for our Patchwork Garden Year Redwork Block of the Month.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014


One thing we love to do is help our customers put fabrics and colors together.  We find that there are many quilters out there who are just quite timid about selecting their own fabric. Especially when they find a pattern they'd like to do.  Fortunately for us it is something we LOVE to do!

However - we want to show you one way that might be easier for you to select your own fabric and feel pretty confident that it will work.

One technique is called "grayscaling" the design.  Simply put, you're just taking a picture of a finished pattern presented to you in color and "graying" it out (changing it to Black and White). 

There are numerous ways to change a color picture to black and white and it depends on how tech savvy you are, but one simple way is to print the picture/pattern in black and white.  When you grayscale, then you can see the actual color values of what you need to look for in terms of light, medium and dark.

This method does 2 things - first it shows you the color values of where it is light, medium and dark.  Secondly by printing the pattern in black and white subdues the actual fabric print(s) used in the quilt that might prove distracting to you if seen in color.  Meaning let's say a pattern uses floral for a large center block, but you'd like to use this really great geometric fabric print you saw, or maybe it's a dog, or... By printing the picture in black and white reduces some (not all) of the distinguishing characteristics.   Additionally it may help to point out whether you need a fabric that might require more texture in one area and maybe not in another.  For example see below.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Using Mirror Tiles for One Block Wonders, Kaleidoscopes...

Last week a customer of ours, Louise, came in to pick up a quilt that Jami had quilted for her.  When Jami opened it up for her to see the work - well I saw it was, more or less, a kaleidoscope quilt.

Now why I didn't take a picture of it to show you, I have no idea.  But I didn't.  However I noticed that the kaleidoscope blocks weren't done in the "Paula Nadelstern kaleidoscope method" that I'm more familiar with.  So I questioned Louise.  She said it was a One Block Wonder.  In the same breath, she said she wasn't completely happy with it.  We were, but we asked her why she wasn't.

Those of you familiar with One Block Wonders know that you make the blocks and quilt from just one piece of fabric.  The One Block Wonder began with Maxine Rosenthal & Joy Pelzmann who have written books - ONE BLOCK WONDER and ONE BLOCK WONDERS ENCORE!  The first book  - One Block Wonder - explores ways in which you simply use one piece of fabric and how to put all the colors together.  Their next book, One Block Wonders Encore, not only explores additional ways to piece a kaleidoscope quilt with one fabric, but it also shows you how to place cubes within, or use 2 different color ways of the same design, or 2 different designs in the same color way... Oh so much to try!

Louise thought that hers was too mushy/muddy.  She said that she wished that she had more "white space" between the motifs.  To solve her issues with what she had done, she grouped the block colors together and in our opinion we thought it just all flowed very wonderfully together.

However we further discussed what type of fabric she would have preferred, so we began pulling some pieces off our shelves to examine them using our mirror tiles.  Below are a series of videos showing you 3 types of fabric designs.  One thing we all knew - you want a fabric that has a lot of color.  You also want to find a fabric where the motifs are a good size medium, to large design.

Our conclusion, really -- it's truly up to you as to what type of kaleidoscope effect and quilt design you're looking for -- haha, sorry.  However one way to figure that out is to use this simple Mirror Tile.  You simply move it around that fabric to see what types of kaleidoscopes you can make from the fabric.

For example, this first video shows you a fabric that has lots of white background showing. Lots of space between each design.  The designs are a good medium size.  Our personal point of view is we don't think this would work, unless you wanted to do a great deal of fussy cutting.

In this second video - here you see large motifs sitting tightly together, and one on top of another.  There's also lots of color, which is good, and as you can see as the mirror tiles move around, the colors just explode!  However - depending on how you lay it all out, well it might become a bit blendy/mushy.  Not that that's a bad thing - it's just a question of what effect you're trying to create.

This final video shows you a fabric of medium size motifs. Lots of color.  Definite white space around, sort of shares the background with the lime green.  Again - it truly depends what kind of effect you're looking for.  But because of all it's variety, it just seems to give you a lot of options - we think. Maybe. 

Anyway we hope you'll see what we're trying to show you.  Hope you take the plunge and give it a try.