Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Gee's Bend performances during QuiltWeek Chattanooga

"Gee's Bend, A Story of the Alabama Quilters"
performance at the Chattanooga Theatre Center.
Another special quilting event during QuiltWeek Chattanooga is the performance of the play, "Gee's Bend, A Story of the Alabama Quilters," by Elyzabeth Gregory Wilder at the Chattanooga Theatre Center. Nine performances will be given from September 10 through 21, including weekend matinees.

The play was originally performed at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival. The story is about the women of a remote rural community in southern Alabama—their growing up and taking care of their families, their remarkable experiences during the Civil Rights era, and their time in the spotlight as their quilts were shown in art museums across the country.

My friend, Janet, and twice fellow guild member (we both belong to the Choo Choo Quilters and the Chattanooga Modern Quilt Guild), is curating an exhibit for the Theater Center in conjunction with the Gee's Bend performances. This exhibit will feature quilts inspired by the Gee's Bend style of quilts—bold, graphic compositions with a free-form, improvisational piecing style.

Janet brought a quilt she is working on to a recent guild meeting. Here is a detail of her quilt… that she is quilting by hand! Notice the piece of denim from an old pair of blue jeans in the patchwork.
Detail of a quilt in the style of the Gee's Bend quilters.
I am honored that Janet has chosen my piece from a past Choo Choo Quilters Guild Challenge to include in the Theater Center's quilt exhibit. The name of the Challenge was "A Novel Idea," and my inspiration reference was the book, "Steve Jobs," by Walter Isaacson. You can read about the Challenge in this post.
"They had grown up among movie stars,
but to them Jobs was a true celebrity."
A group of my friends have our tickets for the play and we can't wait. I hope you will consider seeing one of the performances as well as the quilt exhibit at the Center. At one of the matinee performances, the playwright, Elyzabeth Gregory Wilder, will be on hand for a Q&A session. What a treat!
Elyzabeth Gregory Wilder and a few of the Gee's Bend actresses.
If you would like to volunteer as an usher for a performance, your admission is complimentary. Leave me a comment and I can put you in touch with Janet.

Info about other Chattanooga area activities during QuiltWeek can be found here.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Angle Improv: "where the measurements are made up and the points don't count!"

Piles of strips and scraps: the cast of my Angle Improv class.
While living in Chicago, my college buddies and I enjoyed several live performances at The Second City. [A great date nite or make it a girls nite out.] Second City is where many Saturday Night Live (SNL) comedians—John and Jim Belushi, Gilda Radner, Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Mary Gross, to name just a few—got their start, as well as the precursor of the TV version, SCTV. Toward the end of a Second City performance, the troupe did an improv session [a favorite of mine and my friends] where the actors would take disparate phrases (a place, a career profession, a situation, etc.), suggested by the audience, and build a skit around it. If you've ever seen "Whose Line is it Anyway," you know what this is.

Improv is an unscripted, think-on-your feet, kind of performance—with an unexpected, delightful, entertaining and hysterically comic outcome that the actors cannot plan nor the audience anticipate. This is exactly how my Angle Impov class was earlier this month.
"Oh, what fabrics to choose… what to choose… let's be bold!"
Six courageous, open-minded, looking-for-a-fabric-adventure quilters attended my class. They sewed, sliced and shuffled fabric strips—mostly on faith and in the technique I was teaching.
Slicing and sewing.
The "project" was unscripted (NO pattern). All the cutting and trimming measurements were "made up" and, as Drew Cary would say, "and the points don't count!" 
The classroom design wall. Blocks in-progress.
What fabulous outcomes we had! The diversity of pre-cut strips and fabric scraps—batiks, prints, solids, florals, geometrics—the students brought to class were energizing and colorful. Here is Candy, analyzing a potential block layout on the design wall.
Standing back from the design wall to see the composition emerge.
Batiks were mixed with black/white prints, solids accented a monochromatic collection of prints, sweet florals mixed with stripes and brights.
My "Angle Improv" class at Pins and Needles Quilt Shop.
Photo courtesy of Stacy Slockbower.
I'll have one of my Angle Improv quilts at the upcoming AQS QuiltWeek ChattanoogaSeptember 10-13. And, if you're interested in taking this class, or would like me to teach it at your guild, let me know! You'll be surprised how fun, easy and liberating this technique is.

Whoo-Hoo—nothing needs to match and the points don't count!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Celebration Slices Tree: appliqué the finishing touches

"Celebration Slices—Christmas"
by Tammy Silvers
Pattern available at your local quilt shop.
There are 128 days until Christmas.

Have you made your list? Are you checking it twice (and hopefully checking OFF completed projects)?

I mentioned this cute holiday tree door hanger in this blog post. Here it is, complete with the appliquéd star and ball ornaments. As instructed by the pattern, these bits were added after the quilting was completed—partly so they look like they are hang in "on" the tree and partly because the pattern designer used non-woven felt for the decorations. I used quilting cotton (a fat quarter of Crushed in daffodil by Blank Quilting Corporation did the trick).

Remember, I reduced the pattern for this project? Print it at 85% so it's a perfect size for a door. And, Blank Quilting Corp's new Color Story pre-cut strips (20 per package) is a perfect fabric solution: an assortment of pretty, festive greens for the tree… pre-cut and ready to go… and just the right amount of strips for this little project!

Here is a close-up of the free-motion quilting. Swirls in the background and cascading feather-like tree boughs on the tree.
Celebration Tree: detail of free-motion quilting.
The border is a meandering vine with feathers, curvy fronds and spiral motifs.
Celebration Tree (back): free-motion quilting on border.
And the faux-piped binding added that little extra finishing touch that ties in the blue background and the backing fabric [Fusion Illusion navy by Blank Quilting Corp.].
Faux piped binding.
This fun pattern also has instructions for 2 other special occasions--fall/Halloween and birthdays. How about a 20-strip Color Story package in orange and purple for the pumpkin? Color Stories red and ivory for the birthday cake? There's a Color Story for every season and occasion!
"Celebration Slices" offers a variety of designs for different occasions.
Compliment the pattern with a Color Story package of strips.
If you're coming to AQS QuiltWeek in Chattanooga, September 10-13, visit all the fabulous vendors at the vendor mall. Ask for the 20 and 40 strip packages of pre-cut Fabrications strips by Blank Quilting Corp. They will make all your quilting projects go quicker. Gotta keep checking off that list...
Celebration Tree
16.5" x 38"
Oh, and if you have any strips left over... use them for the binding! After all, they're already cut 2.5 inches wide… and ready to sew.
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