Minimalism with Meaning :: The Story of Us

Last September I led our Bee Sewcial group.  My mission was to make two blocks in blacks and whites that said something personal about them.  I asked each member to embrace minimalism in the process.

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The stories they told me were rich and meaningful.  They described loss, triumph, compassion, family, recreation, personal identity.  Honestly I felt a little overwhelmed with the task of putting these meaningful pieces into something worthy of the sentiments.

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In the end, I decided to continue the minimalism theme and connected the blocks with extra negative space.  The words spoken when describing these blocks became the quilting motif in free motion quilted cursive writing (the first I have done this but certainly not the last).  The whole was surrounded with quilted borders and a gilded binding (purl soho mineral linen which sparkles when seen at an angle) to enhance the theme of story.  I want it to read like a well worn and treasured book.

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I hope that I have done these ladies justice in the making of our collective story.  Since it is so hard to read, I have included the quilted words for you below.

 

Minimalism with Meaning :: The Story of US
Positivity engages the negative space :: These are little womb blocks. The white ones represent pregnancy loss which is real but not talked about. The black ones are my obvious births, which are obvious and find it easy to see and talk about. The reason for the one with the white square with the black one is a permanent loss of being able to have a child from one side from the ectopic pregnancy I had in my tube. I love my two children with all my heart and grieve what could have been with my two lost babies :: Tall, strong, bend but not break ::When we are together, we are stronger :: My life can be best described as a wonderful mixture of family, work and my creative pursuits :: When using the right tools you can see things a lot more clearly. For me, it’s glasses (since I was 9) and calm. When life is chaotic for me, I get lost in the details. When I establish calm, I see better :: Frustration. From sun up to sundown I’m frustrated about any and everything and nothing at all :: Embrace: More expansive then a hug and open ended to be all inclusive :: Sometimes I feel like a square peg in a round hole :: A Quilter’s Table because that is me :: For me when it gets too active, too chaotic at some point I shut down and like a clean break BAM nothing gets done, nothing good happens, except I don’t get overwhelmed :: The top row signifies my family in height order and for now in this moment in time I am second in line. The shadow casted beneath our figures represents the amount of care required by each of us at this point in time. It is such a fleeting point of life but such an important one and I know I’ll never make anything as wonderful as my three children :: The pool is my favorite place to exercise so this is my interpretation of the swimming symbol :: Ascend as I am not one to begin anything by taking baby steps. If the stakes are high enough and you are determined success or fail you will take that leap of faith because it is your only option :: I am modern stepped in tradition :: My personal mantra is to look for the positive. light in the darkness as we need that positivity these days :: The balance of keeping focus looking ahead in life instead of behind but also being aware of your surroundings in a broader sense and how occasionally glancing back is a good and necessary thing :: A hint or clue a circle nature’s impossible shape standing out of the expected spot not perfect but industrial modern and minimalist :: In me you will find the place where science and art meet in the middle :: It’s about letting life’s annoyances roll off your back
Bee Sewcial 2015

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Hillary

Mini-Mes

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Last year I was challenged by Catherine (@knittingcatherine on IG) to a mini quilt swap using mostly repurposed or me-made materials.  In typical fashion, my mind came up with several ideas and I am sharing the fruit of 4 such finishes here (all of which let me “try on” different quilting styles I have been eager to test).  There are two other quilts made of my old tshirts that are part of this series but they and the concept of tshirt quilting are worthy of a post of their own.

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For my first quilt I grabbed some dress clothing in linens and silks that I never wear, chopped them up and reconstructed improv style.  They are much more attractive on a quilt then on me.  I also “tried on” some nontraditional hand quilting and made random “ant trails” along the piece.

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For my second quilt I wanted to play with Nicole Daksiewicz’s (Modernhandcraft) appliquéd hexie technique but decided to make my own spin with pieced hexies.  For this quilt I used some of my old scrubs, an orange shirt and a hospital sheet.

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After introducing a tertiary pattern and playing a bunch of designs I came up with the mini quilt below.  This is the one that ended up in Catherine’s hands and I call it “Colliding Migrations”

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For the last two quilts, I used some material I had hand painted over the summer and layered using a raw edge appliqué to show off unusual shapes.  These quilts have a lot of hidden meaning for me involving self reliance and the concept that things are rarely “Black or White”.

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Are these quilts my style?  YES as complex, varied and flawed as my style can be.  Are all of them masterpieces? Nope.  Did I learn from them? Yes, yes, yes!

Have a great weekend.

Hillary

Molly Made Me Do It

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Hi there!  Missed you my friends.  Clearly I have been hanging out on IG (you can find me there @entropyalwayswins) but life has recently gotten a bit busy for blogging somehow.  In any case I wanted to introduce you all to a new quilt I have been working on.

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About a year ago, I was in SF and noticed a building with wonderful long thin windows.  Though I didn’t take a picture, they were similar to these windows here I saw with Stephanie Ruyle and Christine Perrigo in Austin at Quiltcon 2014.

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Fast forward to the last couple months when I pulled out some shot cottons, woven striped fabric and left over bits of yellow fabric and started making some blocks with these windows as inspiration.  I made up a new (at least new to me) piecing technique that I call Tethered Y Seams and intentionally changed the grain orientation on the tops and sides so as to add visual interest.

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The blocks started to get especially fun when using the striped fabric and different angles, giving a fun 3 dimensional effect.

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As I was sharing these on Instagram, someone introduced me to The Chapel of Notre Dame de Haut in Ronchamp by architect Le Corbusier.  Proving that there are few truly new ideas, I had been unintentionally channeling the lovely windows from this amazing building.  And as I was sewing up the last seam on my quilt top, I started to realize how different this quilt top was for me.  SO MUCH PURPLE!  I never use purple.  Absorbed in my pondering,  the amazing quilts of Molly Upton featured at Quiltcon 2016 came to mind.  Somehow this quilt top (though clearly much more humble in execution) reminds me of her work in color and style.  We are subliminally absorbing so much I believe.

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And there it is, a quilt inspired by a local building, a crazy cool church in France and a gifted, now gone Modern Quilter : “Molly’s Windows”.  Now I’m hoping Molly will inspire me how to quilt it.

Hillary

Fly Merel Fly :: A Community Quilt for Merel van Looi

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Merel van Looi is a quilter and fabric shop owner from the Netherlands I have gotten to know online.  Unfortunately we did not connect at the last Quiltcon but the picture above on the right shows her working as a volunteer.  Tragically earlier this month, she suffered some bleeding around her spinal cord and for the moment has limited movement of her legs.  When I heard of her recent health crisis I was so saddened and reached out to her asking if she would be open to me organizing a community quilt project for her and she said YES!

I have often said that those are discouraged about the state of the world need to start sewing and become involved in their local and online sewing communities.  Sewists and quilters are some of the most generous and creative people I know.  This fact was made even more evident as I was plotting and planning this group project.  Krista Hennebury (Poppyprint) if you don’t already know is a master quilter and teacher, an all around wonderful person and friend.  Merel said online that Krista’s amazing “Blackbird Fly” quilt (an award winner at Quiltcon 2015) meant a lot to her as she hoped to “fly” again someday even if it was in a wheelchair.  I mentioned that I was going to plan a quilt for Merel and Krista brought up the work of Kajsa Wikman (home – Syko Design).  Kajsa’s style, raw edge appliqué with black thread at this point is fairly iconic and has been much copied and repeated.  She published the book Scandinavian Stitches which I quickly ordered online.  Krista contacted her friend and Kajsa not only gave me permission to use her sweet wonky birds as inspiration  (Merel in dutch means blackbird and her IG handle is @merel_birdblocks) but hopes to contribute a block too (she also knows Merel- I love how small this quilting community is and did I mention how generous quilters are?)  These sweet birds are so cheerful and I hope will encourage Merel in her recovery.

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Knowing I would need additional help I reached out to my friend Rachael Dorr (www.quiltingamemory.org) who agreed to long arm quilt this quilt I have planned.  Her work is AMAZING  and this quilt will be extra special because of it.

HOW CAN YOU HELPT?

I am looking for as many people who are interested to make 8 1/2 x 8 1/2 inch appliquéd blocks inspired by Kajsa’s birds and get them to me by May 23rd (that gives 8 weeks for blocks to be made and delivered to my doorstep).  My hope is to assemble them and get them then to Rachael to quilt by June 1st.

DETAILS and HINTS:

-8 1/2 x 8 1/2 inch blocks (be sure to leave a quarter inch appliqué free around all sides to allow for seam allowance) The blocks will be 8 x 8 inches finished.

-White fabric background (Kona white if possible)

-Cheery prints to be used for the appliquéd birds (this is a perfect project for scraps).  I would love to have birds that are simple and FLYING like Kajsa’s but I am also happy for you to make them your own, and even add encouraging stitched words for Merel if you like.  An example of Kajsa’s birds is below and they also can be found at her flickr page (https://www.flickr.com/photos/sykossa/4567924620/in/album-72157601967630500/)

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-Use black thread for your appliqué and shorten your stitch length

-Use fusible webbing like steam a seam to initially attach your appliqué bits before stitching

-if you feel compelled to use stabilizer on the back, please use tear away or cut away so that it is only around the appliqué

-so as to prevent stray black threads from appearing in the back, please tie off and bury loose ends in the appliqué (see pic)

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-I have a suspicion that there may be more then enough blocks for one quilt and I will not turn anyone down who is interested.  If that is the case I may be looking for someone to help me quilt up a second quilt (longarmers keep this project in mind)

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If you are interested in contributing, please email me at entropyalwayswinshg@gmail.com and I will send you my address and add you to the list.  Tag your pieces with the hashtag #flymerelfly on IG so everyone can see what you are up to

If you feel like you want to do more for this sweet girl, I am sure she would love cards or small gifts of encouragement.  The address at the rehab hospital she is at is:

Reade locatie Overtoom / Merel van Looi /113-B1 / Postbus 58271 /1040HG Amsterdam

Thank you so much everyone!!

“Fly Merel Fly”

 

Hillary

Minimalism and Maximalism

What I have been up to of late:

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-“Queuing Theory” quilt.  Quilted by Christine Perrigo (@ccpquilt on IG).  It was inspired by a series of paintings by Mark Grotjahn called Dancing Butterflies.

-Crazy striped piecing in stripes inspired by a puzzle I saw on Pinterest (thank you glue basting)

-Hand painted linen flowers for Blair Stoker (Wise Craft Handmade) because it is super fun to trade with other makers especially when they are from my previous Seattle home city.

-More Slow Stitch Embroidery in the works.  This improv embroidery is the bomb people.  Try it!!

-A minimini quilt for Stephanie Ruyle ( Spontaneous Threads) that mimics a Rothko painting she pointed out in Houston.  It represents me (mustard) and her (orange) with some more hand stitching and Stephanie’s old suede coat as binding.

-My last quilt blocks of the year for the Bee Sewcial Bee for Leanne (she can quilt).  It was a total kick in the pants to play with color and improv.  The green block also helped me perfect my Y seam skills.

Happy Thanksgiving friends!

Hillary

One Month

In two days I start back to work again after a month off.  I have logged many hours doing continuing education for Dayjob, baked almost every variety of pumpkin muffin/scone/cookie you can imagine and of course have been creating.

In a month:

Pattern Play (I replicated the Tate Museum flooring pattern using a modification of Latifah Saafir’s Glam Clam Pattern in bag form.  For fun I added a knit pillow of my design to match my previously finished quilt top with buttons covered with treasured Umbrella Prints fabric):

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Bag Design (repurposing photos I had taken on canvas)

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Block Making (for my Bee Sewcial group and shown with a minimini quilt made by Stephanie Ruyle).

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Minimalist Design Play with Leather Scraps

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Anatomical Stitch Sketching

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Fabric Making

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Quilt Finishing (with amazing quilting by Jessie Ziegler)

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Self Portrait Work In Process (with my first bias strip quilt using scrubs on hospital sheets)

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My creative and family life are feeling extra rich after this sweet time.  Grateful

Hillary

An Invitation To Be Creative

What if someone told you that this month it was especially important to pull out all the stops and be really creative?  Would you do things differently?  Would this mission paralyze or feed you?

Last month as I have mentioned I was invited to make some small quilts in a tight time frame for an art show in Seattle.  As I pondered making, I let my mind open a bit and found myself wandering new creative roads-so fun.

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Repurposing is a mission for me, so I decided to incorporate leather or suede I had collected from clothing into the pieces.  My first work above is an image that has been percolating in my brain for a bit and means to show the contrast of light and dark, happy and sad, new and used.  The black leather from an old coat I hope adds a whole new tone to the brightly pieced diamond.

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Wanting to continue the contrast theme and the color mission I was given, I did dense quilting on the back in colors to match the front with the hope that they bring light and color to the dark.  With help from an Instagram friend, my make adopted a name, “The Great Recession”.  I think the dark creeping overlay on the overly bright, too perfect front image fits the description well.

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On my second piece, I decided to play with an improv method I experimented with in a block for my first Bee Sewcial month led by Stephanie Ruyle.  Striped Ikea canvas made a fun matte dense surface to play with and I went with some of my favorite mustard linen (side note: If I had to pick a fabric that is me, this is it.  I have included it in about a third of my quilts).  To tie my used/new theme, I incorporated some beautiful electric blue suede from a skirt donated to me again by Stephanie.  Our friendship and journey together as makers is meaningful and it feels so appropriate to include this in my quilt. (Plus Stephanie’s has some amazing pieces that will be at the show too.  Go check she and her pieces out: Spontaneous Threads)

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Of the new roads I traveled on this piece was the use of purple fabric on the backing.  I NEVER use this color in my makes and now I am quite smitten.  An unintended extra meaning is that purple and gold are the colors of my alma mater, The University of Washington in Seattle where this piece will be shown.

I called on my good friend and Umbrella Prints collaborator Robin King to help me with labels ( A Collaboration On Friendship and Motherhood – Umbrella Prints Trimmings Challenge Entry 2015 | Entropy Always Wins).  These hand printed pieces are awesome and it makes me happy to have another important friend incorporated in my makes.

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Tripping on this creative spree, I started sketch stitching anatomical pictures.  The combination of clinical pieces of anatomy onto used, discarded antique linens tickles me to no end.  They represent well the strange dichotomy of my everyday life: delivering horrible news to a patient followed by helping my kids with homework, helping an addict through an oxycontin addiction followed by stitching up a pretty purse, doing a complicated life saving procedure followed by a yoga date with my girlfriends . . . There is more of this series to come.

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If you get a chance and are in the area, check out my mini quilts and the work of others at the Seattle Pacific Art Center on display from October 5th-November 27th.

Hillary

Design Play

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I’ve been perfecting my skills lately at the game “How Can I Make That Into A Bag/Quilt/Mini Art Piece.”  Are you familiar with my favorite game?

My Pieces and their sources of inspiration in picture order:

-The Doctor is In Second Edition:  A new bag design I made up out of cotton, wool and leather inspired by one of the quilts featured in soon to be release book by Heather Jones. (Quilt Local: Finding Inspiration in the Everyday (with 40 Projects): Heather Jones: 9781617691768: Amazon.com: Books)

-Stitch Sketching everything I can imagine including a drawing of feet by the Louise Bourgeoise.  Uneven tension never looked so good.

-A Baby Quilt Top using the Glam Clam pattern ( Glam Clam Quilt (8″) by Latifah Saafir – Crafts ) I adapted to look like flooring in the Tate Museum.

I am also really enjoying the black and white #beesewcial and #inspiredbybeesewcial blocks following the guidelines set out in my last blog post many of you are displaying on Instagram.  Keep them coming!!

Lastly, although I was quite looking forward to a deadline-free September, a wonderful opportunity came up this week and it looks like I will be designing a piece for an art exhibit in Seattle.  My mind is swimming with ideas.  Time to focus and make.

Hillary

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Some Things Are Better Left Unsaid – Bee Sewcial Theme for September

As many of you know I am in a unique Quilting Bee with some uber talented ladies.  Each month, one of the ten members picks a color palette and a loose theme from which we all create blocks for a quilt.  September is my month as Leader/Queen.  Since we have had August off and this last week is crazy busy for me, I am posting my mission a little early.

As background for my theme, I adore modern minimalist design, the effect of negative space and making with meaning so I have decided to combine all these things into one grand mission for the month of September.  Note that from this month forward, we have decided to invite everyone to join us in sewing.  We don’t have room to add other blocks to our quilts but would love anyone to sew right along with us and share what you are making on Instagram by including the Hashtag #inspiredbybeesewcial.  We will be checking in on this companion group and commenting as we go so if you are up for the challenge join us (and this month tag me as well @entropyalwayswins so I don’t miss what you are making).

What I ask of my Beemates is to make two distinct quilt blocks no bigger then 10.5 x 10.5 inches (I need even more negative space for this quilt I envision).  I want each of you to use black and white fabric (and I use those terms a little loosely because there are obviously many versions of black and white.  Adding variety adds some depth in my opinion).  Make a design that highlights the importance of negative space (some things are better left unsaid) and lastly make each design mean something.  Perhaps the design is a reflection of your place in the world, your child, family, recent notable event, favorite joke . . .  The meaning doesn’t have to be serious and you don’t need to share it (though I would love it if you did).  In my opinion infusing our makes with meaning steps our making up a notch so spend a little time pondering why and what your block means about YOU.

Pictures tell a thousand words so please feel free to check my pinterest board for designs that inspire me in this way: Pinterest: Discover and save creative ideas . Leannes’s Echoes quilt in my opinion is a perfect example of minimalism and the use of negative space in design.

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Other modern quilters who do this very well include Alexis Diese (materials and method / alexis seise), Lindsay Stead (Lindsay Stead) and S.D. Evans (SDE Quilts).  Although I am including some of my own modern minimalist quilts in this post I intentionally am excluding my own blocks because I don’t want them to influence what you make.

Recap:

-Palette: black and white (any variety)

-Block size: two blocks 10.5 x 10.5 or less

-original minimalist design highlighting the use of negative space

-infuse your block with meaning and share (or not) what it means

-pieced or paper pieced methods are preferred but if you have to use appliqué to get across your meaning, go for it

-Everyone is invited to join us in making these blocks during the month of September.  Bee Sewcial folks only tag theirs with #beesewcial and all others tag with #inspiredbybeesewcial on instagram and we will be following along

I can’t wait to see what you all make!!!

Hillary

“All Things Being Equal” Quilt Complete

This weekend I finished my quilt tribute to the justice of marriage equality.  For the backstory see my previous post here:  All Things Being Equal | Entropy Always Wins.

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I used my Triangle in a Triangle block to piece striped Goodwill shirts into equilateral triangles that carried more of the same in a secondary pattern.  To further reinforce the meaning, I quilted echoing equilateral triangles that extend into the denim border.  The combination of these three sets of equilateral triangles (pieced, secondary pattern and quilting) all at different angles soothes that over the top urge to put meaning in my making.

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Carolyn Friedlander’s Ledger fabric for the back helps keep score and the iconic equal sign was the cherry on top of my creation.

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To add some humanity and a little imperfection (I don’t like things too perfect honestly) I pieced the binding in alternating red and blue striped shirt fabric from the Goodwill.

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Blessings to all marriages and families who will enjoy the benefits of the Supreme Court’s recent ruling.  Now off to make something in a color other then blue.

Hillary