QM Staff Inventory: I Love Tradition–with a Twist

staffstories eileen2 QM Staff Inventory: I Love Tradition  with a Twist

pinit fg en rect gray 20 QM Staff Inventory: I Love Tradition  with a Twist

It was the first day of first grade and I was ready. I had my Big Chief writing tablet and a pristine box of 16 beautiful Crayola crayons. I could hardly wait to break it open. As we were given our seat assignments, I noticed that some of the other kids had much larger boxes. Then I spot the biggest box of all containing about a zillion crayons plus a built-in sharpener sitting right in front of my friend Chris. I wanted zillions of colors too! (Okay, so I wasn’t so good at counting yet.)

CrayolaBox QM Staff Inventory: I Love Tradition  with a Twist

A pitifully small box of crayons.

crayola QM Staff Inventory: I Love Tradition  with a Twist

My dream box of crayons.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At the end of that day, after patiently listening to my sob story, my dad took me aside to show me how to use my crayons to create new colors by blending and shading. Having 16 crayons wasn’t as terrible as I thought. I learned some amazing things about color that day. (I also learned that good friends share. Chris would take pity on me and let me use her periwinkle every once in a while, and I showed her how I could blend my colors.)

IMG 0048 web QM Staff Inventory: I Love Tradition  with a Twist

Periwinkle–my favorite Crayola color in grade school.

Fast forward to the early 90s. That was when I was learning to quilt, and I was less than thrilled with the variety of cotton fabrics. It was mostly calicos and solids back then. The colors were often dark and muddy. It was like having a box of 16 crayons all over again. As my quilting skills progressed, I began finding more fabric that appealed to me and more ways to combine colors in my quilts. When I found bright, bold fabric I liked, I didn’t hesitate to buy it–often in large quantities, and usually without a plan for its use.

photo5 300x225 QM Staff Inventory: I Love Tradition  with a Twist

I still have yards of this Hoffman print from the 90s.

My early quilts were mostly traditional–Rail Fences, Log Cabins, Irish Chains, etc. These patterns were fine, but I didn’t want my quilts looking exactly like the pattern picture or anybody else’s. That’s when I began thinking outside the box, or should I say “outside the blocks”.

hearts 1024x1024 QM Staff Inventory: I Love Tradition  with a Twist

My first applique project. I decided on a different arrangement for the blocks and border.

In 2005, I signed up for a color and design class with Heather Thomas author of A Fiber Artist’s Guide to Color & Design (Landauer Publishing). The quilts made for this 13-month course had to be original designs. I thought the easiest way to do this was to use traditional designs in new ways. With the help of my Electric Quilt software, I started working on new layouts, new block or color combinations, new twists. It was fun learning so much about color and value. Here are 3 of my projects from that class.

photo2 e1395092355362 QM Staff Inventory: I Love Tradition  with a Twist

My version of Tumbling Blocks.

photo3 e1395092900466 300x300 QM Staff Inventory: I Love Tradition  with a Twist

My star layout to show a split complement color combination.

photo 300x300 QM Staff Inventory: I Love Tradition  with a Twist

My Fibonacci layout for a New York Beauty block.

Kismet, my quilt published by Quilter’s Newsletter in April/May 2008, is based on a traditional Carpenter’s Wheel and Sawtooth Star blocks. I strategically used blacks, grays and white with values of red to create the quilt’s 3-dimensional illusion.

Kismet QM Staff Inventory: I Love Tradition  with a Twist

Kismet from Quilter’s Newsletter April/May 2008

This 3-D tumbling block design was created in a class taught by Karen Combs in 2008. I love the optical illusion.

photo4 1024x1024 QM Staff Inventory: I Love Tradition  with a Twist

A fun version of Tumbling Blocks.

My Great Ball of Fire design (Sept/Oct ’09) uses an off-center Pineapple block.

7754 pattern img QM Staff Inventory: I Love Tradition  with a Twist

Great Ball of Fire from Quiltmaker Sept/Oct ’09

I skewed a 16-Patch block in my Aqua Marina design (Nov/Dec ’10), but playing with the colors and values was more fun.

9363 pattern img QM Staff Inventory: I Love Tradition  with a Twist

Aqua Marina from Quiltmaker Nov/Dec ’10

Sparkling Bubbles (July/Aug ’13) was influenced by Mariner’s Compass and New York Beauty blocks. This was a pretty bold color combination for me.

15214 pattern img QM Staff Inventory: I Love Tradition  with a Twist

Sparkling Bubbles from Quiltmaker July/Aug ’13

In addition to Karen Combs’s work (karencombs.com), I am in awe of quilts designed and made by Jacqueline de Jong (becolourful.com) and George Siciliano (georgesiciliano.com). I could look at them for hours. Check out their websites to see why.

In case you haven’t noticed, my designs are mostly foundation-pieced with batiks. Here are a couple of my designs from Quiltmaker’s 100 Blocks.

ice crystal 300x300 QM Staff Inventory: I Love Tradition  with a Twist

Ice Crystal from Quiltmaker’s 100 Blocks Volume 2

QMMS 120022 FOWLER 300x300 QM Staff Inventory: I Love Tradition  with a Twist

Whoopsy Daisy from Quiltmaker’s 100 Blocks volume 5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I still love the challenge of giving traditional designs a new look. Isn’t it wonderful to have so many fun fabric choices these days? It’s especially difficult for me to pass by displays of colorful batiks. To fill my fabric stash, I just need a zillion more!

About Eileen Fowler

I am an Associate Editor at Quiltmaker. My quilting hobby, that began over 20 years ago, turned into a career when I was hired by Quiltmaker in 2008. My quilting passion is slowly taking over every nook and cranny in my house. I have a supportive husband who makes it all possible.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to QM Staff Inventory: I Love Tradition–with a Twist

  1. Margaret Andrews says:

    I looked at your 16 crayons and remember when I just had 8 and the envy was the people who had a box of 48 crayons! I used to think about the silver and gold ones. It was fun to use the crayons for the first time with the sharp points and crayon smell. Now so many years later I have my own wall of colors, fabrics all, yet like so many, many years ago, there are always those ever elusive colors that were in that 48 box of crayons that I still don’t have. Memories are great, aren’t they. Your quilts are beautiful too.

  2. Claudia says:

    I agree with your box of crayolas comments. MORE is definitely better, but one still needs to blend. My dad probably would have done the same thing. Love the Kismet, and I recognize most of the others. Keep on doin’ whatcha been doin’!

  3. Peg Spradlin says:

    I love! Kismet. You did a fantastic job of using shades to make the quilt look 3-D. I like Great Ball of Fire, too. I’m in awe of your talent.

  4. Kaye M. says:

    Your work is beautiful! You have developed a great sense of color and design.

  5. Barb Johnson says:

    I took an online class with Karen Combs, and have some 3D tumbling blocks, too! Mine aren’t in a quilt yet, and I have plans for making more of them ‘some day’! I really enjoyed the class, and the wonderful ideas it gave me to create optical illusions with fabric!

  6. Exciting to see your progress. I bet your friend Chris is very proud of you, if you have kept up over the years.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>