Negative Space Handbook Blog Hop

Negative space is one of my favorite tools to use in my modern quilt designs, and I was ecstatic when Sylvia Schaefer released her book, The Quilter’s Negative Space Handbook.  In this book, Sylvia takes the concept of Negative Space and breaks it down into eight manageable sections for the reader to explore.   These sections can be used on their own or mixed and matched to develop your own unique designs.  While there is a project to illustrate each type of negative space, the reader is actively encouraged to apply each approach to their own original designs.  This combination makes the book perfect for all levels of quilters.  At the end of this post, you’ll have an opportunity to win a digital copy of The Quilter’s Negative Space Handbook, so I hope you’ll keep reading!

Sylvia has a great eye for negative space, and I have been a fan of her work ever since I saw her quilt, The Disintegration of the Persistence of Artichokes at an American Quilter’s Society show in Paducah one year.

The Persistence of the Disintegration of Artichokes by Sylvia Schaefer

A couple of years later we had our quilts (both using lots of negative space!) hanging side by side in the winner’s section of the Modern category at another AQS Paducah show.  This time it was Meeting of the Geese that I was admiring.

Meeting of the Geese by Sylvia Schaefer

Most recently, I was honored to quilt Northern Lights for the book.  The edge to edge motif is a digital download by Anita Shackelford.

Northern Lights by Sylvia Schaefer

The eight approaches to negative space design in the handbook are:

  1. Removing Elements
  2. Standing Alone
  3. Oversized Simple Blocks and Inverting
  4. Setting Rows
  5. Scattering
  6. Disintegration
  7. Making Shapes
  8. Extending Lines

I am looking forward to further exploring each of these approaches to negative space, but the one I couldn’t wait to try was scattering.  I have made several plaid quilts, and I thought some of Sylvia’s suggestions would be fun to try in creating a new design.  (Please check out this post about Infused Plaid to see how my typical design process differs from what I am doing here!)  In the book, Sylvia mentions using a random number generator to determine block placement.  This really caught my attention, and before I even went to the next page of the book, I googled “random number generator” and started sketching.

For this design, I started by setting a few parameters.  The grid is 34 units by 34 units, and I decided to place 34 colorful squares into that space.  I used a random number generator for each of the horizontal and vertical coordinates, then rolled a game die to determine the color of the square.  Since the linear matchstick quilting that creates the plaid effect will extend through the squares, each row and column was assigned a color for all future squares that were placed in them.

Once the main pieced section was developed, I decided that extra negative space would really set off the design.  Considering the concept of breathing space  that is introduced in the “Standing Alone” chapter, I decided that the top and right sides of the main section would be about half the width as the borders on the bottom and left sides.  Here is the quilt top, complete with borders.  I always make these plaid quilt tops a few inches larger than the desired finished size.  This allows me to block the quilt and trim it to the size that looks best.

When I add the quilting to this piece, I will be incorporating a third type of negative space usage to the quilt, extending lines.  I love to allow colorful quilting thread to take on a staring role, and this should be a an interesting way to infuse color into the surrounding space.  Hopefully, I will be sharing the final quilt with you soon!

Here’s the exciting part!  If you would like to win a digital copy of The Quilter’s Negative Space Handbook, just leave a comment on this post.  Any comment counts, but if you are looking for inspiration, tell us about your favorite quilt using negative space.  It can be a quilt you made, or a quilt created by someone else.  One entry per person, please.

One week from today, Monday, March 25, 2019, I will use a random number generator to select a winner of a digital copy of the book.

You can also order a copy directly from the author!

There is lots of inspiration at the other stops on the blog tour, so I hope you check out these other negative space inspired posts!

March 11 – C&T Publishing – blog tour kickoff

March 12 – Nicole Neblett – Mama Love Quilts

March 13 – Christa Watson – Christa Quilts

March 14 – Jessica Caldwell – Desert Bloom Quilting

March 15 – Sheri Cifaldi-Morrill – Whole Circle Studio

March 18 – Cassandra Ireland Beaver – The (Not So) Dramatic Life

March 19 – Yvonne Fuchs – Quilting Jetgirl

March 20 – Sarah Ruiz – Saroy

March 21 – Sarah Goer – Sarah Goer Quilts

March 22 – Sylvia Schaefer – Flying Parrot Quilts – tour wrap-up

 

 

Infused Plaid

If you follow me on Instagram, you will probably recognize “Infused Plaid” since it is one of my favorite quilts and has traveled quite a bit.  However, I recently realized that I had never blogged about this quilt.  Since this week is the Blogger’s Quilt Festival over at Amy’s Creative Side, I thought I would take the opportunity to have a more in-depth look at this quilt.

Much of quilting is done in a standard routine.  There may be slight variations depending on the specific project and the person making the project, but it usually looks something like this:

  1. Design/create a pattern, or set personal parameters if it will be an improv project
  2. Select fabrics
  3. Construct the quilt top
  4. Choose a quilting design
  5. Layer the quilt backing, batting, and top through basting or loading on a longarm
  6. Quilt the project
  7. Trim and finish the quilt edges.

For Infused Plaid, I decided to mix up the process by starting with designing the pattern of the quilting stitches first.  Then, based on where each color of quilting stitches intersected with the same color, I placed a rectangle or square of matching fabric that would be pieced into the quilt top.

Drafting of the Infused Plaid design

Following the design process, most of the construction of the quilt is done in a standard manner.  The quilt top construction is fairly straightforward and goes together quickly, but the design doesn’t come together until the colorful quilting stitches are added.

This quilt was basted on the longarm machine and then quilted with a walking foot on my domestic Bernina.  For this project, I basted with regular thread, but I since started basting with water soluble thread.  It is amazing to not have to pull out basting stitches!

When I do matchstick quilting, I quilt all one direction first, then quilt any stitching lines that go in the opposite direction.  The dominant, colorful quilting is done first by marking the lines using a 60″ ruler and a roll of masking tape.  In the negative space of the quilt, I place parallel lines of masking tape approximately four inches apart across the quilt to indicate where the first set of quilting stitches will go.  I stitch on either side of the masking tape and remove it as soon as I possibly can.  Next I place a line of stitching about halfway between the previous lines, then halfway between those lines.  The process continues until the lines are approximately 1/8″ apart.  Finally, I mark and stitch the colorful lines running in the opposite direction to complete the plaid design.

Infused Plaid is mostly about the use of quilting thread.  The brightly colored threads are stitched using 28wt thread on the top of the quilt and 50wt on the bottom.  The heavier thread creates a stronger design on the top of the quilt, while the thinner thread in the bobbin helps keep the quilt softer and allows more thread to be loaded onto the bobbin.  The rows of white matchstick stitching is done with 50wt thread on both the top and bottom of the quilt.

As I quilt, I try to make the lines as perfect as possible, but when minor (inevitable) variations occur, I never take them out to redo that portion of the line.  I prefer to leave these moments as a reminder that this is still a hand crafted item.  If the final quilt would become too perfect, it would look like it was constructed by an automated machine rather than a human being.  The “flaws” are what gives this type of quilt some character!

Dense quilting, particularly if it is done on a domestic machine, can result in a quilt that doesn’t want to lay flat.  To deal with this issue, I block my matchstick quilted quilts.  The planning for this process starts very early on when I make my quilt top, because I like to make my top at least a couple inches larger than I hope the quilt will finish.  Since I work with so much negative space, I can to this without worrying too much about how trimming the edges will effect the overall aesthetic.

As soon as a quilt like this is finished, I soak it to prepare for blocking (and remove water soluble basting thread if it was used).  Then I “stretch” the quilt on a simple wooden frame that I staple the edges of the quilt to.  The biggest concern at this point is to make sure the lines of colorful stitching remain as straight as possible.  While the quilt is wet, it is easy to inadvertently distort the lines of stitching.  The stapling process is done on the floor, but once it is complete, I can stand the frame up to allow for better air circulation.  Sometimes I even take the quilt outside for awhile to dry.  It usually only takes a couple hours to dry, but I try to leave the quilt on the frame overnight to make sure that it is completely dry.  I hadn’t taken any photos of Infused Plaid while it was on the frame, so the quilt you see on the frame below is Pivoted Plaid, a close cousin to Infused Plaid.  (What can I say?- I really like plaid!)

To continue the visual lines of the plaid design all the way to the edge of the quilt, I used facings to finish the edge of the quilt rather than a visible binding.

Infused Plaid has been shown in quite a few venues.  It started by being a project in Modern Patchwork magazine.  Then it went to QuiltCon in Savannah where it received a first place in the Negative Space category.  Next it went to the American Quilter’s Society Spring Paducah show where it won a first place in the Modern Quilt category.

It went to several more shows and was included in the book Modern Quilts: Designs of the New Century.

Infused Plaid in Modern Quilts: Designs of the New Century

Recently, Infused Plaid joined its new home as part of the permanent collection of the National Quilt Museum in Paducah, Kentucky.  The museum collection focuses on quilts made since the 1980’s, and I am thrilled that this is the first modern quilt to join their amazing collection!

Infused Plaid at The National Quilt Museum

Quilt Stats

Title:  Infused Plaid

Size: 61″ x 61″

Techniques:  Traditional machine piecing

Quilting:  Matchstick quilting using a walking foot on a Bernina 1008 domestic

Fabric:  Kona Cottons

Batting:  Hobbs 80/20 Cotton Poly Blend

Thread: Quilted with 28wt and 50wt Aurifil

Binding:  Faced with fabric matching the quilt backing

Raise the Roof

I made a pretty quilt!  I very rarely make a quilt that I would call “pretty”- typically I describe my work with terms like graphic, clean, dynamic, or vivid.  Raise the Roof is an exception to this trend.

Raise the Roof front

Inspiration for Raise the Roof came from the architecture of the Horticulture Building on the grounds of the Ohio State Fair.  The low volume background of the blocks echos the design of the rafters of the building, and the central stars are an abstract representation of the over-sized ceiling fans.

Horticulture Rafters

Horticulture Fans

The pink, violet, and orange blocks appear to spin around the focal blocks in blue and orange.

Raise the Roof Focal Blocks

Value plays a huge role in the design of the quilt blocks.  The colors in the low volume background triangles have the same placement in each block segment, but the brightly colored star tips change depending on the block placement.  Intentional placement of a dark and light version of each color on every point creates a three dimensional look.

Raise the Roof Sample Blocks

After creating a few sample blocks, I decided to submit the design to Modern Patchwork.  I was thrilled to have it accepted, and quickly finished the top.  For the quilting design, I chose an all-over organic free motion design with a botanical flavor.

Raise the Roof back

The juxtaposition of the organic quilting lines on the regimented, foundation paper pieced quilt top reminds me of the relationship between the beautiful floral displays against the architecture of the building.  To make the quilting stand out even more, I used double batting for the first time.  The top layer is a yummy Hobbs Tuscany Wool, and the bottom layer is Hobbs 80/20.

Raise the Roof detail

To top it all off, this quilt made the cover of the magazine!  This is a first for me, and I am over the moon!

00_MP7MarApr18_Cover_web

 

You can get your very own copy of the March/April Modern patchwork here!

Quilt Stats

Title:  Raise the Roof

Size: 59″ x 59″

Techniques:  Foundation Paper Piecing, Traditional Piecing

Quilting:  Hand guided, mixed motif free motion quilting done on an A-1 Elite Longarm

Fabric:  Assorted quilt shop quality, 100% cotton fabrics, and backing of wide-back Kona Cotton

Batting:  Hobbs Tuscany Wool and Hobbs 80/20

Thread:  Pieced using light grey Gutermann Mara 100, Quilted with 50wt cotton Aurifil

Binding:  Cotton and Steel grey and silver dot bias binding, machine stitched to the front, hand finished on the back.

Modern Patchwork Cover!

“Raise the Roof” has made the cover of the March/April Issue of Modern Patchwork!  This is the first time I have had a quilt make a magazine cover, so I am ecstatic!  I will be sharing more about this quilt closer to the magazine release date, February 27, 2018.  You will be able to get your copy from The Quilting Company.

00_MP7MarApr18_Cover_web

Taking Flight is in Modern Patchwork

Taking Flight is is a contemporary reinterpretation of the traditional Flock of Geese quilt block with an asymmetrical twist.  This quilt is now a project in the November/December 2017 issue of Modern Patchwork.

Taking Flight Magazine

I designed this quilt shortly after completing Overlay (post coming soon), so I was apparently really into the Flock of Geese Block.  The blocks are rather large- each large half square triangle (HST) measures 10″ square, meaning that a full block is 20″ square.  I had drafted the quilt in my usual AutoCad and did a lot of experimentation with possible color schemes.  My top two choices were citrus-y colors with a white background and a play of warm and cool colors with the red/orange/pink and a blue background.

Taking Flight Light Background Illustration

Taking Flight Dark Background Illustration

Both color ways were included in the magazine proposal, and I am thrilled that they liked the blue background the best.  I have done a lot of white backgrounds in the past few years, so it was exciting to work with a mid-value-range color scheme.

Taking Flight Front

The quilting in the warm colored areas is ruler work with a touch of free motion in a wishbone design.  The blue background is filled with mixed motif free motion quilting.  The feathers in these areas relate to the title- Taking Flight.

Taking Flight detail image

Here is the magazine cover so you know what to look for at the newsstand!

MP5_Cover copy

Quilt Stats:

Title:  Taking Flight

Size: 90″ x 100″

Techniques:  Machine Piecing

Quilting:  Mixed motif free motion quilting and Ruler work, all done on an A-1 Longarm

Fabric:  Kona Cotton in Deep Blue, Flame, Cardinal, Bright Pink

Batting:  Hobbs Tuscany Wool

Thread:  50wt Aurifil

Binding:  Bias binding in Deep Blue Kona, cut 2″ wide, machine stitched to the front and hand finished on the back