Archive for December, 2010

Spring !

Friday, December 24th, 2010

It is Christmas Eve and the shortest day of the year is over and the days are getting longer, now. Last year I had a bad case of spring fever so I went a little wild and did two art quilts with no rules. There are new inquiries about the quilt because it appeared in the winter issue of Quilter’s Home magazine. The quilt is shown on the wall of my studio.

SPRING ! The Process and the Story

by Virginia Robertson

I collected the antique templates used in these quilts at a quilt show 25 years ago. They are cut out of oatmeal boxes and used cardboard of different colors. Some of the original shapes are rounded from use. Others are bent and torn and one of them is stitched together. I left the photo copies “as is” to tell the story. I love the history that they portray. I always meant to have them framed for hanging on my studio walls.

This March, we still had six foot snow drifts around the house. The late spring blizzards just kept coming as late as May. In response to the protracted winter, I made these two quilts using the old templates. I used the wildest and brightest fabrics in my stash with” no rules folk art applique” and design. I worked directly with the fabrics… no preplanning or drawing. The idea was to bring spring into the studio by expressing the feeling of new life via light, bright textiles and simple botanical shapes from nature.

I backed 1/4-1/2 yard pieces of the applique fabric with paper backed fusing web. I took off the paper in large pieces to use again as tracing paper and applique pressing sheets. I even used some of the paper behind the appliqued areas to stabilize the fabric during the free motion applique process. I traced around each applique design and stacked several layers of backed fabric together for cutting. (Don’t place the fusing web sides together!) I did lots of different images this way, then set up to work on a design wall next to the ironing board.

Bright backgrounds were cut and different images were auditioned on each block. I did not fuse them at first. I just used a dot from a glue stick to hold the appliqués in place until I was satisfied with the results of the separate blocks and all the blocks together as a quilt top. I changed the backgrounds several times to get happy results. It was hard to use all the busy fabrics together on the cover wall hanging sample. I used a lot of Art Gallery, Free Spirit and Kaffe Fasset fabrics in the sample. I finally had my friends, “The Art Girls” over for a session where we fiddled with the fabric choices. I like the results! It is a happy quilt.

The queen sized lime green sample on the back cover was all made from Princess Mirah batiks by Bali Fabrics. I had a large amount of designer sample cuts from a visit to the Bali Fabrics warehouse in Sonoma. I just can’t get enough of lime green and I consider lime green a neutral.

Well. I got my fill after completing this quilt. Now where will I find a place for such a quilt as this? Both quilts make me think of early spring greens, flowers and warm, tropical breezes. When the quilts were hanging on my walls this spring, they made me smile. One guest commented “My, it has been a long winter!” Click here to purchase the pattern.

“Inspire the artist in you”

Friday, December 24th, 2010

This was the theme for the booth at Quilt Market a couple of years ago. As art director for Bali Fabrics, one of my favorite jobs is to create the booth quilts from Princess Mirah’s beautiful batiks. I have been getting inquiries about these quilts after they appeared in the photographs of the winter issue of Quilter’s Home Magazine. It was easy to do fabric tributes to four of my favorite artists since my background is in fine arts. I used the batik like fabric paint to recreate the famous paintings. The easiest one was the O Keefe skull because the fabric did all the work. I found the perfect batik  for the sky and the  various shades of brown, beige, cream and gray were all in three textured batiks. I just cut out the section needed to quilt-by-number.

Tribute to O Keefe

The sunflower quilt was the most time consuming. I struggles to get the depth-of-field needed from a limited color scheme. The sunflower quilt  is  my brother Paul’s favorite. He farms in Kansas, the sunflower state!

Tribute to Van Gough

My personal favorite is the Tribute to Picasso. When I did the paper cartoon for it I simplified the original design for doing the applique.  I had to put back many of the details because the design did not work without those elements. Notice that the fabric design in the batik  background adds another element to the picture that was not in the original painting. I learned so much about the underlying design structure that Picasso used when creating this quilt.  He was a genius.

Tribute to Picasso

The Matisse paper cuts from his later years are the theme of this quilt.  I have used Matisse’s paper cut ideas in my cloth doll designing to create fabric paper dolls and a jointed doll.

Tribute to Matisse

I have been inspired by other famous  artists with my cloth doll making. I have a Frida Kahlo doll, a Picasso doll and the Arthritis dolls inspired by Matisse’s paper cut figures. Click here to see the cloth doll section on my web site.

I have new appreciation for these great artists. I also can’t believe that I get paid for doing  such a fun job!

The Apron Story

Thursday, December 23rd, 2010

The Retro 1950’s Apron

by Virginia Robertson

I found the old blue apron in a flea market. It was starched crisp and bleached clean. The fabric is probably from a flower sack. The edges were encased with a hot pink bias binding that adds accent and sparkle to the apron.

I have always been fascinated with old aprons. Lots of the ladies from my childhood wore aprons. As a minister’s daughter in rural Oklahoma and Kansas the church ladies made fancy aprons to serve dinners in the fellowship hall. There was almost a competition with homemade, creative aprons.

I remember see-through organdy aprons with ruffles and fancy embroidery that the CWF ladies wore when serving meals at funerals and weddings. There were always lots of creative Christmas theme aprons during the holidays. Apron patterns were shared like recipes and plant cuttings.

The apron has become an iconic symbol to many women. The apron is useful, but it also expresses the purpose of a community of women working together and bonding as they serve. Putting on an apron is a statement of creative intent. You might say that the apron is the “cook’s bumper sticker”.

Over the years my Mom and I have talked about the symbolic meaning of the aprons in church and our society. In the Christian community the apron has a “Martha” symbol of service. The women use their aprons as a uniform of service and fellowship. Pretty aprons express the creative owning of a job lovingly given.

Mom always has an apron hanging in her kitchen that has special meaning in her life. One of her favorites is one that I made called “Mom’s Homemade Bread” The bib applique has an appliqued loaf of bread and a sheaf of wheat. Mom still bakes homemade bread every week and has a special bread route of lucky consumers.

The Retro 50's Apron My variation is to cut out two aprons and make it reversible. I added a hot pad that is the same tulip design as the apron.  If you would like to order the pattern click here.