Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Organizing Twilight Gardens

Whether you are purchasing a kit for this quilt from One World Fabrics, or you are putting together your own collection of fabrics, it is really easiest to organize them, overall by value, and then by color or scale of pattern.

The quilt pattern specifies the use of light, dark, medium, etc. fabric pieces for each block, and if you have your fabrics divided this way to start with, it makes it very easy to pick fabrics from these groups that will go well together in a block.  Some fabrics in the kit have warmer tones and some cooler tones.  The solid black is used in many blocks as it really provides a dark ground and showcases the other fabrics, allowing you to see their subtle colors. A few of these basic fabrics lean a little toward red, others lean a bit toward green.  There are enough to choose from that you can put together ones from each group that emphasize one color in a block. Keep in mind that a medium-light in one block, might be a medium in another block depending on the other fabrics you put with it.

There are also a few fabrics which are distinct and have a special place in the quilt. Some of these include the blues that are used in the tulip applique and the basket blocks, the Ecru that is used as the light flowers, the stronger reds which will be the inner border of the quilt, as well as appearing in several of the blocks and sashings.  The sashings, including both the piano keys and the checkerboard, and are made from leftover bits from the block piecing and applique.  They include little pieces of everything, and you are free to emphasize any of the fabrics you like the best when putting these together. There is a dark charcoal with subtle stripe included with this pack in the kit.  This is used as the background for the tulip block.
Many of the weaves included in the kit are very simple, and read mostly as one color, however, it is really nice to incorporate fabrics with a little more pattern and visual interest. In each block, try to use one patterned fabric that will stand out against some of the tone on tones. It may be the background surrounding a star, or even the points of a star. Plaids and fancy weave patterns will look great if you scatter them throughout the quilt, and don't forget to use them in the sashings as well. The sashings revisit all the fabrics used in each block and carry those colors and textures to other areas of the quilt.
We look forward to starting on block 1 of Twilight Gardens right after the 1st of the year. Be sure to read through the pattern to familiarize yourself with the sections of the quilt, the fabrics used in each block, the techniques used, and the overall assembly including piano key and checkerboard sashings.

Remember, One World Fabrics's kit for this quilt is not packaged monthly, but rather as a single quilt kit, allowing you to pick the placement of fabrics in blocks as you choose during construction. There are no print fabrics in the kit; all the fabrics are yarn dyed wovens, giving the finished quilt a really beautiful, textured look.  Plenty of fabric provides lots of choices (and lots of leftovers for your stash :-) ).  If you would like to order a kit for Twilight Gardens, click here.

If you have any questions about this quilt, please leave a comment.  Thanks, and Happy New Year!


Sunday, December 4, 2016

Looking Ahead to Twilight Gardens in 2017

Our trip to Quilt Market in Salt Lake City this past Spring was truly inspirational, as always. There are countless beautiful quilts, and more fabrics than you can even imagine. In fact, you almost have to turn off your sensors after a while, as every turn bombards you with more choices. 

In the genre of Taupe, one rarely finds a lot of choices, however.  Although the popularity of the Taupe palette has risen noticeably over the last decade, with more and more Japanese quilts finding there way into the shows here in the U.S.; Compared to main stream designers and fabric lines, it is still a small share of what you see at Market. So, you can imagine how excited we were to see this stunning quilt hanging in the Diamond Textiles booth.  
Twilight Gardens is a new quilt design from Pam Curo of Cotton Tales Designs. I have known Pam for over 10 years, and carried many of her patterns. She has always been a great designer and pattern author, both in cotton and in wool, and her preferred color palette seems to be muted country colors to darker primitive shades, with Taupe falling right in the middle. Twilight Gardens was designed exclusively for muted, textural yarn dyed cottons. The colors in the quilt are subtle, and the light values seem to sparkle against the black and darker toned backgrounds.

I immediately found myself in a discussion of how I could bring kits for this quilt to my customers. One World Fabrics is one of the largest retailers of Taupe palette yarn dyed cotton fabrics, and this was the perfect quilt to showcase what we offer.

The pattern is written in the Block of the Month style with each block receiving it's own section. Pam has divided the quilt into 10 blocks/sections, with the last section being devoted to bordering, and finishing the quilt. Although this can be a fun way to receive kits, it adds a large amount to the packaging and cost of the kits, not to mention all that shipping. With an eye toward economy, we have opted to package the entire pattern and all the fabrics as a single kit. We will then do a series of blog articles covering fabric organization and placement, and block construction monthly, for those who would like to make the project as a BOM. This is really advantageous as it gives you more freedom of fabric choice and placement throughout the quilt's construction. The kits include the same fabrics as the original sample, and are generous, providing a wonderful assortment. To minimize fraying and waste, we do not recommend that you pre-wash your kit fabrics.
Yarn dyed cottons do tend to shrink a bit more than print fabrics when washed, however using 100% unwashed yarn dyed fabrics in the quilt, any shrinkage that occurs after the quilt is finished, should be uniform. I like to lay out all fabrics from the kit and organize them by size and color family. This will make selecting block and applique fabrics so much easier. Reading through the entire pattern is also very helpful, to familiarize yourself with the overall construction method and sequence. 

I look forward to hearing comments from you all once quilt construction has commenced in January.
Fabric kits for the Twilight Gardens quilt can be purchased from One World Fabrics by following the link below.

Twilight Gardens Kit pre-order

Hope you will join us.


Saturday, November 5, 2016

Shizuko Kuroha - Author, Quilt Artist, Teacher

Shizuko Kuroha
Many of the American quilters who follow Japanese quilting are familiar with the work of Sensei, Yoko Saito, who has been a dominant influence on quilting in the USA for over a decade.  But, there are several amazingly talented Japanese quilt artists that are equally influential in Japan, and barely know in the U.S.  Shizuko Kuroha is one of these individuals.  She has worked in various textile mediums and designed quilts, taught, and published numerous books.  Some of these have been translated into English, but even her books in Japanese, are quite easy to follow by sewers with moderate experience in piecing and general sewing.

I was fortunate to have attended the 2014 International quilt show in Tokyo, where Shizuko Kuroha had a special exhibit of her indigo quilts.  This was simply an amazing display.  All the quilts from her book Indigo & Sarasa were on exhibit.  The design and workmanship was exceptional, and I could have stared at these quilts for days. Being an American, I am always amazed at not only the hours of work that go into these Japanese quilts, but how all those hours are creative hand needlework, not machine sewing.  Where some of the quilts at the Tokyodome were pieced by machine, just about all were hand quilted, and showed incredible workmanship in applique, embroidery, and embellishment. Shizuko Kuroha's quilts were no exception to this rule.

Indigo & Sarasa is now out of print in English, although you can occasionally find copies on Amazon for sale used.  Be aware this book was first published in Japanese, and there are more copies around in Japanese than in English.  One World Fabrics currently carries two of Shizuko Kuroha's books, and both are quite unique. 

Her sampler book, Patchwork Lessons, has been very popular.  The block patterns are wonderful, and she has numerous examples of how to use the blocks creatively in tote bags, kitchen decor, gift items, as well as quilts.  The excellent photographs allow the reader to follow along the steps of construction, even without reading the Japanese text.  I also love the fabrics used in this book.  They represent the current Japanese sense of design and color. The quilt at right shows a contemporary flair and a beautiful, subtle shading in the background.

I love the small gifty items presented in Patchwork Lessons, and the indigo table runner is lovely. Plus the book contains 19 sampler blocks that can be used together, or separately in various projects. 
Here is an incredible quilt showing lots of variations of the lemoyne star.  The use of indigo, but accentuated with a small bit of color really sets each block apart. She has also incorporated fabrics with patterns, such as stripes, to create movement.


The second of Ms. Kuroha's books was published just last year by Fons and Porter.  Log Cabin Restructured has been translated from Japanese into English and the projects are beautiful, intricate, and inspiring.  The simple log cabin block is taken to the next level by creating diamond, triangle, and hexagon log cabins.  There is also a pattern that uses curved log cabin blocks. Very non-traditional, and, again the use of traditional Taupe Japanese fabrics is so appealing.  Although the blocks tend to be rather small and intricate, this is actually a great book for confident beginners, as the detailed photographs and instructions are easy to follow.

Log Cabins are one of the most versatile blocks.  They can be combined to create many different patterns, especially by changing out the fabrics and their placement in the block. These blocks are rather small scale (as most Japanese piecing tends to be), but they can be made in any size you feel comfortable with.  The block assembly is the same, and frankly, you will find that making small scale blocks is actually quite easy once you get the hang of it.  
Log Cabins have always been a particular favorite of mine, so I jumped on this book the moment it came out.  I like intricate piecing, combined with the Japanese aesthetic of color and design. The book contains 23 projects, so lots of choices to tempt you.  

  I am confident that if you love the piecing work of Yoko Saito, you will find Shizuko Kuroha equally fun and inspiring.  You can find her books as well as a large selection of traditional Japanese fabrics at One World Fabrics.

Happy Sewing,