Sunday, February 5, 2017

"The Grid Design Workbook"

For all of us machine quilters who are looking for some new ideas for quilting designs, this is a wonderful new book by Cindy Seitz-Krug, an award winning quilter and teacher who uses her home machine for quilting, published by AQS.

What is great about this book and a bit different is how effortlessly the "workbook" idea leads you through all kinds of lovely designs, shows you how to break them down into simple do-able elements that are controlled by a marked grid.  Sometimes in the end you see the grid, others times only curvy lines and designs that make the viewer ask "how in the world was that done???"

Below, details of Cindy's quilting:

The designs are great, but all the options she shows us with size, color of thread, scale of design, where and how to use them really help when trying to figure out what design to use where in a quilt.  There are tons of illustrations, diagrams, quilted samples to help you achieve these designs.  The workbook idea insures you will be able to start at the beginning, follow along, and get a quilted design by yourself!

One of the first grid designs I tried years ago when I was looking for a simpler method for a design of overlapping circles was one I called "Diane-shiko" (below) as it was a new way to mark and quilt an old Sashiko design.  When the marked lines are removed the circles emerge so it looks as if you quilted circles.  This is the basic idea Cindy uses to create all sorts of designs with the grid to guide you.

Above you can see the 1/2" marked grid, and the stitching around the lines to form this timeless design.  Below, the design used in one of my quilts, "Shadows of Umbria," which Cindy also has featured in her new book.

A grid design will showcase curvy designs with its formality and regularity.  These designs look difficult but many are absolutely beginner level and with some practice you'll be adding many of Cindy's designs, methods, ideas to your own quilts.  

Visit Cindy at her website and blog to find out more:  

Below, one more peek at her quilting:

If you were in some of my last classes I taught a design called "Ginkgo."  In Cindy's quilt above she uses it as fill around larger scale designs.  Below is one of my samples of this lovely design, and Cindy includes a much easier way to mark and quilt it called "Twisted Ginkgo" in this new book.  It's one of my favorite designs ever in the way it looks, and how much fun it is to quilt.

I experimented and tried Cindy's method to quilt this design, and it worked perfectly.  I'm thrilled she could explain it so well, and the diagrams and photos are exactly what you need so you too can add this design to your skills.

Congratulations to Cindy on a great book and for her recent award at Road to California for Excellence in Machine Quilting for her wholecloth quilt "Blush." 

Hope winter is giving you lots of time to quilt, and to play with ideas on your sewing machine.  

Keep quilting!  Your work gets better every day!

Sunday, January 15, 2017

January Cooking

January means more time at home, more cooking.  I've been re-visiting old favorites, tweaking recipes, trying to get things just right, and eating the trial runs!  Finally the blueberry muffins are perfect, tender and yummy, blueberries oozing out on my blue plate, topped with a drizzle of icing.  

I've made artisanal pizza, deconstructed beef stew (incredible!), oatmeal cookies that will fill you up all day long.  We are losing weight steadily because I truly believe made from scratch food, real food, is better for you than a diet.  Oh, and a bit of moderation, which isn't easy when things taste so good.

Real French fries!  I was moaning and complaining about how I don't even bother ordering them anymore with a meal in a restaurant as they are so generic, or so coated with batter.  What's with batter on potatoes anyway????  Mine were easy, fast, crispy and melt-in -your-mouth good.  Fresh ground sea salt dusted on them and they disappeared in minutes.

Pizza, also easy and delicious.  It has taken more experimenting than with other recipes, but now I can whip one out quickly and be fairly consistent in quality.  Below, one I made over Christmas, note the red/green cutting mats.  Fresh ricotta cheese added little pillows of deliciousness.....yum.  And fresh spinach for the touch of green!  I was out of little fresh grape tomatoes, but usually add those for their sweetness and color.

Today we'll coast with very easy stuff, some avocados that I'll use for guacamole, as it is Green Bay Packers and the playoff game.  Oliver likes football as there tends to be lots of yelling from His People as they watch.

Thanks for all the comments on Mud, and I know many of you will simply shake your heads and think wow, weird world of color that Diane lives in.  Yes, I realize many of you simply hate anything dull or drab or hinting of olive green, but as you dip into your guacamole, consider that lovely color for a quilt!  

Below, Kettle Moraine Star, my first true "mud" quilt, with khaki, the color of  men's pants, as the background...................

Keep quilting!  Your work gets better every day.....

Monday, January 9, 2017


"Through a Glass, Darkly:  An American Memory" detail

On this gloomy damp grey January day I am in need of color!  The bright reds are put away after Christmas and softer fresh light colors are around me.  Spots of intense blue and lovely yellow really brighten the house and my mood.  Color is one of those things for quilters that is very important indeed.  

Years ago in 2004 I wrote an article for Quilter's Newsletter Magazine that was part of their series on quilt artists and their take on color and how they used it.  At that time I had a lecture titled "Mud, Wonderful Mud!" as well as a class that helped others see drab, dull, muddy shades as vital to a true color balance in many quilts and other art.  

In the photo below of a quilting sample done on one of Caryl Bryer Fallert's Benartex fabrics the blue stands out, the surrounding "mud" colors are rich and warm and let the blue steal the show.  

I always spoke about these mud colors with tongue-in-cheek as I know for many color is something you don't joke about; favorite colors as well as the ugly colors are absolute.  Lines are not crossed. I know quilters who will not allow purple in the house, much less in a quilt.

However, I do believe we can always expand our horizons and perhaps a little "mud" is just what you need for 2017.  Forget Avocado Green and Harvest Gold from the 70's; we had an avalanche of those colors in every aspect of our lives, and this really created an aversion to any color resembling these two prime suspects. 

But it is a new year, warm lovely colors are perfect in our work, and you might surprise yourself by the result of their inclusion.   Below is the article, judiciously edites/updated here and there,  and some photos that will help illustrate my points for the use of mud.....

Color as I See It  
by Diane Gaudynski

The azure blue sky, the white marble courthouse with a sea of steps leading down to the sunny street.  A beautiful woman in purple running down the steps. Handsome leading man waiting for her at the bottom, arms filled with luscious red roses, dressed in his well-fitted military uniform of deep bronze khaki.  Hollywood pulled out all the stops to insure everyone would zero in on the important parts of this scene, punctuated with bright color to draw the eye.  However, as I watched, I thought to myself, "what gorgeous khaki in his uniform!"

"Sixteen Baskets of Mud" 1997  
I gave in and let myself use army green for the border and lots of mud from my extensive collection for the baskets.  Bright "pretty" colors were saved for the top triangles in the baskets.  This little quilt set the mud wheels in motion.....and another variation, below, made for a piecing class.

Color and quilting are the two items in a quilt that are immediate and nonnegotiable.   Designs may be open to interpretation, patterns come and go, but the color of a quilt is its hallmark.

We refer to our quilts by their color:  my red quilt, the blue and yellow one I made last year.  Quilting provides the three-dimensional texture that makes a design seem new and fresh, but it is color that supports the quilting, showcases it, and shouts, "Look at me!"

Above, some of my quilts in an exhibit in 2010 at the National Quilt Museum, Paducah, KY

When asked what color I am using in a quilt, I invariably describe it with a word from nature or food:  goldenrod rather than yellow/gold; cappuccino rather than tan.  Colors that might be overlooked or termed "uglies" have always provided me that delicious, necessary backdrop for the more universally acceptable hues such as red, blue, and purple.  The ugly colors that I refer to as "mud" give my quilts their particular signature.

"October Morning" 1999
A liberal use of rich and warm mud browns, which I described as "chocolate,"  as well as dark olives and russet colors for the pieced blocks are striking against a cool serene lilac background in this traditional Delectable Mountains quilt.

My natural tendency toward messiness has led me to interesting color discoveries.  Once I stepped on a piece of gold fabric after it spilled out of an overturned bin and I left a dusty footprint on it.   That gave me the idea of including it with other colors already chosen.  Another time, seeing two pieces of fabric unintentionally next to each other in a drawer, looking wonderful together, gave me an idea for a two-color quilt.

A tidy quilter may have simply re-sorted them and not had the opportunity of seeing an unusual color combination.  Be open to the unexpected.  Throw fabric around, see where it lands, and discover how strange combinations can look terrific.  Look at scraps thrown haphazardly in the wastebasket for inspiration!

I tend to pick the "off" shades of color.  Rather than a pure hue, I look for the slightly skewed version of it--dusty purple instead of clear purple, dark teal instead of turquoise, chartreuse or army green instead of grass green.  These colors give a quilt character and let the brighter colors stand out.

"Blossom's Journey"  
Dark green border and gold, brown plaid, and chartreuse set off the turquoise and bright reds in the fabrics in this 45" square wall quilt.  Detail, below.

Although my quilts reflect my love of subdued tones, I also like to include the bright zing of an indigo bunting or the brilliant red of a cardinal.  Here in the Midwest, real-life color can be a sea of murky tones interspersed with bright spots of intensity.  Brights look more important when surrounded by murk and gloom.  The cardinal can be seen from a distance in the brown and grey branches and dead grass here in winter.  

One of my first award-winning quilts caused a sensation in 1996 because the background was light khaki.  The local newspaper wrote that the "award winner" used fabric the color of men's pants, of all things, in her winning quilt.  The next year the the paper touted me in an interview as "the mud lady."
Other quilts have come and gone, but all have a bit of dull color included.  

"Red Square" Detail

I like to give the eye a resting place, provide a warm feeling natural to fiber art, and let the brighter, pure colors come forward, using these "mud" neutrals as a counterweight.  Everything from soft gold, cashew, and khaki to the deep browns and greens work for me, providing the necessary mortar of neutrality to hold a quilt design together.

So much time and effort goes into making a quilt; one of the rewards is admiring our fabric choices as we work.  It's an added pleasure having others tell you how much they love them too.   


"Shadows of Umbria" detail; machine quilting in mud is delicious!