19 November 2017

Mama Ru

Mama Ru, 74"x84". Photo credit Daniel Rouse
Creating art brings a tremendous amount of joy to my life, and boy howdy has that been important this year. I chose the subject because RuPaul gives me so much joy with his music, his podcast, and most of all with Drag Race. And this quilt brings me buckets of joy. 
I started with the inspiration of promotional photos for the Sissy That Walk music video. The process of making it has been a little scary. I haven't done many portraits and I wasn't entirely confident this one would work out. Would it read as Ru? Would the shifting colors just look like a rash? So many questions.
Improvisationally pieced log cabin blocks. Photo credit Daniel Rouse
The only thing to do was start. I decided that the portrait should glow from behind, and that I'd pull colors from the full rainbow. The portrait uses light values of red, orange, and yellow. The background uses dark values of green, blue, violet, and purple.
Quilt top layout. Photo credit Daniel Rouse
 I free pieced a bunch of small log cabin blocks, then arranged them on the design wall. I didn't have a plan other than I wanted the colors to flow green-blue-violet-purple. I started with a few green spots and filled it in. After a few adjustments I sat down to sew it all together.
Reverse appliqué layout. Photo credit Daniel Rouse
Because I constructed the reverse appliqué patchwork in 12" blocks I had to do a bit more planning. I drew a grid overlay over a reduction of my portrait sketch to rough out the flow between yellow, orange, and pink. Then I made blocks corresponding to the grid. The blocks follow Chawne Kimber's "Roberta" pattern, a combination of 2 large squares, more medium squares, and lots of little squares. "Roberta" gives the appearance of randomness without complicating construction — similar to an ashlar paving pattern in the landscape.
Trimming. Photo credit Daniel Rouse
I cut out a paper template for the portrait and traced the design to the log-cabin layer using chalk pencil. Then I basted the two appliqué layers, sewed the outline, and rough-trimmed the excess fabric from the front and back. The trimmed bits and and any extra blocks form the bulk of the quilt back.
Quilting detail. Photo credit Daniel Rouse
Finally I basted the quilt layers, quilted on my domestic machine, gave the raw edges a detailed trim, and threw Ru in the washing machine.
Appliqué detail. Photo credit Daniel Rouse
I was pretty sure it was going to come out okay, but I'm never certain my reverse appliqués will match my original vision until they come out of the dryer. As I mentioned at the top of the post I was especially unsure about this one. I'm so happy with how it turned out.
Photo credit Daniel Rouse
Mama Ru
Materials: cotton solids and prints
Techniques: machine pieced, raw-edge reverse appliqué, domestic machine quilted, hand bound
Finished size: 74" wide x 84" tall
Started: August 2, 2017
Finished: November 19, 2017

20 February 2017


"Asterism" is the second of two quilts that I will show at QuiltCon in Savannah, Georgia 23 Feb 2017 - 26 Feb 2017. 

"Asterism" is a typographical term - a group of three asterisks, traditionally set in a triangle but more commonly printed in a straight line, that serves as a visual section break in a longer chapter. At this dark pivot point in our history I look for the path that will lead us to a brighter future. I constructed the quilt top - both the improvised field and the precision-pieced asterisk medallions - entirely from used jeans, some of them mine and some second-hand.

I made the three medallions several years ago from the same batch of jeans. I wrote about my series of salvaged cushions in 2011. I called this particular iteration "Asterisk."

I went with pressed-open seams on the rectangular background to manage seam bulk. The curvy medallions came together cleanly with seams pressed to the side.

The backing is a pretty neat combination of orphan units from a wedge-curve class I attended with Sherri Lynn Wood way back when and a bunch of indigo cross-weaves and chambrays. I love the back of this quilt.

I quilted on my domestic machine with a walking foot, marking intermediately spaced lines with painting tape. My inspiration was falling water. I filled in the interstitial quilting with 1/2" - 1" spacing.

Chambray binding finished by hand. I made this photo into a button. Hit me up and I'll give you one at QuiltCon, while supplies last!

Here I'm blocking the quilt after washing. I like this picture because it gives a good idea of the quilting and the color. I had such a hard time getting the indigo right in the photos!

begun 2011, completed 2016
pieced and quilted by Daniel Rouse


"Permanence" is one of two quilts of mine that will be shown at QuiltCon in Savannah, Georgia 23 Feb 2017 - 26 Feb 2017. Like the quilt in my last post it is a large-scale raw-edge reverse applique quilt.

The technique was inspired by an antique quilt presented at a guild meeting several years ago. The torn top of the quilt revealed an equally tattered quilt sandwiched inside, worn to the point it served best as batting. The layers suggested the rich history of our shared quilting tradition. This particular design, begun in 2012, was prompted by Day of the Dead festivities.

The top layer incorporates a bunch of prints from the Daisy Janie "Shades of Grey" print collection - provided to the East Bay Modern Quilters as a fabric challenge - and a bunch of other gray and red prints and solids.

The reverse applique piece is a lonestar pieced of upcycled denim, some of it mine and some thrifted.

I beefed up the seam allowances of the denim for durability.

I usually trim away the excess patchwork around the border of my reverse applique. For this quilt I kept the entire lonestar in the quilt sandwich. In fact I quilted the denim, batting & backing using a heavy jeans-like thread before completing the applique.

You can clearly see the outline of the star on the quilt back.

The I added the top layer, sewed the applique outline, and cut out the excess to leave a raw edge. I quilted the gray and red bits on my domestic machine using a flame motif.

Weight: at least a ton
Begun 2012, completed 2016
Pieced and quilted by Daniel Rouse

18 February 2017

The Poetry of Manners and Motion

I have three quilts in shows next week, and I hope to post about each of them. Today I'm writing about "The Poetry of Manners and Motion." The quilt will be hanging at the Mid-Atlantic Quilt Festival in Hampton, Virginia 23 Feb 2017 - 26 Feb 2017.
It is the only quilt I have remade. The first iteration I designed and sewed in 2011. I wrote about it here. I sold that quilt the same year, and immediately missed it. Five years later I decided to give it another go, enlarged and with new piecing and quilting challenges.
I lifted the title of the piece from the writings of John Muir, observing a blacktailed deer in Yosemite.
A fine specimen of the blacktailed deer went bounding past camp this morning. A buck with wide spread of antlers, showing admirable vigor and grace. Wonderful the beauty, strength, and graceful movements of animals in wildernesses, cared for by Nature only, when our experience with domestic animals would lead us to fear that all the so-called neglected wild beasts would degenerate. Yet the upshot of Nature's method of breeding and teaching seems to lead to excellence of every sort. Deer, like all wild animals, are as clean as plants. The beauties of their gestures and attitudes, alert or in repose, surprise yet more than their bounding exuberant strength. Every movement and posture is graceful, the very poetry of manners and motion. Mother Nature is too often spoken of as in reality no mother at all. Yet how wisely, sternly, tenderly she loves and looks after her children in all sorts of weather and wildernesses. The more I see of deer the more I admire them as mountaineers. They make their way into the heart of the roughest solitudes with smooth reserve of strength, through dense belts of brush and forest encumbered with fallen trees and boulder piles, across cañons, roaring streams, and snow-fields, ever showing forth beauty and courage. 
- John Muir, My First Summer in the Sierra
I began this quilt as I did the first one: constructing the green reverse applique from cotton prints using a disappearing nine-patch pattern. Many of the prints were the same as the first iteration, many were different, but I stuck with the same range of greens. Caroline at Trillium Design generously sent me a fat quarter of the Joel Dewberry hummingbird print, which absolutely needed to reprise its role.
Next I set about the background. I employed Sherri Lynn Wood's wedge curve technique for the background of this and one other wildlife applique quilt. I started with curve segments from a series of wedges, maybe a dozen at a time. My original idea was a random series of waves and curves that would give a landform effect (much like the bear quilt, which you can find on my instagram until I blog about it).
The first bit I constructed was this keyhole shape (here stuck up on the design wall on top of the backing of the bear quilt) and my imagination latched onto how multiple keyholes would fit together.
So I made four similar bits, trying to keep them a similar size, using trimmed scraps from the two quilts for the keyhole centers. With one of the four pieces sliced in half I almost had a rectangle.
I filled in the voids with a combination of wedges and scraps.
And then the reverse applique, trimming the back, and cutting the front (the most nerve-racking step).
I love an elaborately pieced quilt back, so there I went. I started with forming the scraps of the trimmed stag into five circles, then surrounded a couple of them with leftover wedge curves.
I finished the composition with ALL THE SCRAPS and bits of yardage.
Quilting on my domestic machine...
And binding in green.
I love the quilting front and back. The quilting at the bottom is inspired by grass and wildflowers. There are a few more motifs in irregular bands moving toward the top, where I finish with a windy pattern.
The finished quilt is 84"W x 78"H
If you get a chance to see the show, I would love it if you could send me a photo of the hanging quilt. If you post to Instagram tag me @dsrouse.

27 June 2016

Quilts for Pulse

The Orlando Modern Quilt Guild organized a quilt drive for all the injured and the families of the lost following the Pulse nightclub mass shooting, in which 49 people were murdered and 53 wounded. The Orlando MQG suggested a heart theme, based on the the block design of Allison Harris of Cluck Cluck Sew.

I completed a quilt top this weekend. Read on if you would like to know how I put it together.

I started with the 10" square version of her heart block, but I split the two 10 1/2" x 5 1/2" rectangles into four 5 1/2" x 5 1/2" squares so I could pixelate the hearts. The finished quilt is 60" x 60".

I made six heart blocks in each of six different colors, and then I mixed them up. For each foreground color I picked a low-volume background print. Mostly they fade to the distance, but I like that a couple are more noticeable.

I followed Allison's stitch and flip method for the half square triangles and corners, but on the larger blocks I also sewed a second seam at a half-inch offset and trimmed between the seams to create bonus HST units (I have a plan!).

If you would like to make a similar quilt, here is a quick summary. Really, more a series of hints than a pattern. Check out Allison Cluck Cluck Sew's tutorial for more information.

Foreground Prints
6 red prints, 3/4 yard total
6 orange prints, 3/4 yard total
6 yellow prints, 3/4 yard total
6 green prints, 3/4 yard total
6 blue prints, 3/4 yard total
6 purple prints, 3/4 yard total
Background Prints
6 low-volume prints, 1/2 yard each

From each of the 36 foreground prints, cut four 5 1/2" x 5 1/2" squares.
From each of the 6 background prints, cut twenty-four 2" x 2" squares and twelve 5 1/2" x 5 1/2" squares.

Some of my six background fabrics have more personality than the others. I especially like the metallic violet paisley I paired with the yellows, and the pink dot Cotton + Steel voile I paired with the purples. They create an interesting halo effect,and the voile just feels so good to work with.

I followed Allison's stitch-and-flip method for the corner triangles, and then sewed another seam a half inch away, and trimmed a quarter inch between, leaving the heart corner block and a bonus scrap HST unit. I did it this way, rather than a 2-from-1-square HST method because it was easier to maintain direction with directional prints, and I have a plan for the bonus units anyway.

For each of the 36 foreground prints, make a left-point unit, a right-point unit, and 2  lobe units (with the 2" flip-and-stitch corners). In the diagram below, sew along the dotted lines and trim along the heavy diagonal. Reserve the extra HST units for another project.

Assemble 10" four-patch squares by row, pinning as necessary to match points. The four-patch blocks alternate split hearts (pont above lobes) and whole hearts. Now combine rows 1, 2 and 3, then 4, 5 and 6. Finally combine the two halves.

I didn't intend this as a proper pattern, but do let me know if you have any questions, especially after reviewing the Cluck Cluck Sew tutorial.

A few notes:
  • I substituted similar fabrics in a few situations where I didn't have enough yardage.
  • I didn't go for perfect symmetry. Some of the block placements are a bit dissonant because I liked the way it came together. You can put your blocks wherever you like!

14 January 2016

Good Hair Day

A few months ago Kim Andersson of I Adore Pattern asked me to have some fun with her new fabric range Good Hair Day from Windham Fabrics, available in stores now. I was immediately taken with the oranges, golds and blues in the collection and set about designing a quilt to highlight the prints.

Good Hair Day collection. Photo Credit Daniel Rouse

There are some great blenders in the collection. The bobby pins are a lot of fun, and the braids are gorgeous. 

For the quilt design I started playing with abstract bow and knot designs. The final result was the Beehive quilt.

Beehive Quilt by Daniel Rouse. Photo credit Daniel Rouse
The design is based on 4 block designs - a large square, a small square, and two rectangles. I'm working on a pattern to post here soon!

Beehive Quilt by Daniel Rouse. Photo credit Danielle Collins
I quilted the Beehive on my domestic machine using three motifs to highlight the piecing and the prints.

Beehive Quilt by Daniel Rouse. Photo credit Daniel Rouse
I backed and bound the quilt with Windham Fabrics Artisan Cotton in Blue Aqua. I love the look and feel of the shot cotton, and it shows the quilting beautifully.

Medallion Quilt by Daniel Rouse. Photo credit Daniel Rouse
My construction method for the square Beehive blocks left me with several half-square triangle scraps that I couldn't resist playing with a bit more. The fun resulted in this baby-sized Medallion quilt.

Medallion Quilt back by Daniel Rouse. Photo credit Danielle Collins
And I finished the back with the rest of my Good Hair Day scraps. I think I like the back better than the front!

Giveaway (closed)

But here's the really fun part! Kim and Windham have passed along a Good Hair Day charm pack to give to one of my readers.

The givaway is now closed, and the lucky winner is Robyn! Enjoy!

Good Hair Day Blog Hop
January 2016

Mon 11th:
Kim Andersson - http://iadorepattern.com/blog/

Windham - https://windhamfabrics.wordpress.com
Tue 12th:
Erin Harris - http://www.houseonhillroad.com

Terri Carpenter - http://thequiltedfox.blogspot.com
Cath Mosley - https://www.instagram.com/cathmosely/
Wed 13th:
Adrianne Ove - http://www.littlebluebell.com

Kristen Takakuwa - https://theneedies.wordpress.com
Thursday 14th:
Daniel Rouse - http://pieceandpress.blogspot.com

Cal Patch - http://hodgepodgefarm.net
Friday 15th
Stacey Day https://staceyinstitches.wordpress.com

Amy Gunson http://badskirt.blogspot.com.au
Sat 16th:
Madeleine Roberg - http://domesticstrata.com/blogs/domestic-strata

Darci Alexis - http://darcisews.com
Sun 17th:
Miriam Blaich http://berlinquilter.blogspot.com

Crystal Chadwick https://theclothalbatross.wordpress.com
Mon 18th:
Pati Fried & Laura Nownes https://seehowwesew.wordpress.com

Gillian Smith: http://sokath.com/main/blog/category/creative/
Tues 19th:
Casey York - https://studioloblog.wordpress.com

Nicole Daksiewicz - http://modernhandcraft.com/blog/

Good Hair Day by Kim Andersson for Windham Fabrics is available in stores now.

12 April 2015

Howto: Binding little round things

I wasn't sure how I would finish the edges of my lonestar circle coasters. I liked the idea of double-fold quilt binding, but it seemed like it might be tricky, especially the curves and the relatively tight diameter. I decided to try it on one coaster, and then decide what to do with the rest.

It turned out exactly like I wanted. I'll show you how I did it.

I used 17" lengths of 2 1/4" bias strips for my 4 1/2" diameter circles. If you're working with a different sized circle the length of your bias strip will be

      (Diameter * 3.14) + 3"

This will give you about 3/4" extra length for wiggle room. Please note that you must use bias-cut binding strips. Binding strips cut on the grain will not conform to the curve, and your finished project will not sit flat. Bias is essential!

Mark a 45-degree diagonal line on the wrong side of one end of the bias strip starting at the top right corner. (Pay attention to the diagonal orientation - top right corner to bottom left edge. It won't work if you draw from the bottom right corner.) Press the strip in half.

Begin pinning the strip to the front of the circle. Leave a 4" unpinned tail at the marked end.

Carefully pin the bias strip about 2/3 of the way around the circle. Pin every 3/4" to 1", angling the pins toward the center of the circle. Gather the folded edge as you pin. Be careful not to stretch the cut bias edge.

Go back to the 4" marked tail. Gingerly wrap the tail around the circle edge as if you were going to pin it. Place a pin in the coaster circle where the binding ends (note the yellow flower pin head behind my finger).

Now set the marked binding tail aside and pick up the opposite binding tail. As before, wrap it around the circle edge until you reach the marker pin. Mark the bias strip at the pin (I've made a small tick mark in the photo).

Flip the coaster over, with the trailing binding strip extended and the new mark visible. Trim the strip 2 1/4" from the mark you just made. (If you look very closely you can see my tick mark on the fabric at 2 1/4".)

Press the crease flat at the two ends of the binding strip.

Pin the two ends together right sides together at a 90-degree angle, aligning the edges.

Sew along the marked line.

Time for a reality check. Before you trim anything, fold the bias strip in half to make sure you didn't make a Möbius strip or some other unworkable shape.

But it looks good! So trim the excess, and press the seam flat.

Re-crease the binding strip.

Pin around the remaining 1/3 of the circle, careful to even out any excess or tightness. Now sew around the circle with a 1/4" seam allowance.

Turn and press the binding to the back of the coaster. Finish the back of the binding as you wish. I enjoy finishing by hand!