Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Dahlov Ipcar's Calico Jungle

The topic lately seems to be my favorite children's book illustrators. I found a file on Dahlov Ipcar whose 1965 book The Calico Jungle is one of the greats. Still in print, The Calico Jungle tells a simple story of a boy, his imagination and a quilt his mother makes him.

Ipcar's inspiration was a quilt she made in the 1940s for her son.

Dahlov Ipcar in 1944

What sets the book apart is the illustrations, which are very 1960s.

The book explores, as Ipcar has said,
"The endless possibilities of patterns."

Georgann Eglinski was inspired by
Ipcar's ideas for a quilt for her first grandchild.

Georgann Eglinski
Calico Jungle

Dahlov Ipcar is still working. See pillows and rugs from her designs.
Check out these links:

Sunday, January 27, 2013

A Seaweed Print: Document & Reproduction

Everybody's Favorite by Denniele Bohannon
Block 13 in the Grandmother's Choice Block of the Week.

Denniele used the smallest reproduction print in Metropolitan Fair as her neutral.
These small seaweed prints are great for contrast.

The document print

I just had a tiny swatch of the original antique print but the repeat is so small a two-inch square was enough. I liked the texture and the suggestion of a dot. The original was a rather faded purple I think---mid-19th-century lavenders often splotch to tan. We did it in the taupe-shade of gray at the top and as a dark blue and dark brown.

I've been calling it a scribble print in my notes. Its name in the collection is "Knickerbocker Kitchen." See why here:

But you could also call it a coral print or a seaweed print.

In my 1989 book Clues in the Calico I gave a few other names for this style of print:

"A common name today for the irregular wavy lines is 'seaweed print,' because they resemble marine growth. The name has nineteenth-century roots. In 1889 Lucy Larcom recalled a scrap of cotton as a 'delicate pink and brown sea-moss pattern on a white ground.' Another period name is parsley print, and one authority also uses the terms scribble, maze, web or network pattern for these fine-lined patterns."

Since then I found an 1811 reference in Florence M. Montgomery's Textiles in America, 1650-1870. She showed a swatch from Ackermann's Repository magazine in November, 1811 with print #2 at top right described as a "seaweed print."

Seaweed prints, like the strip on the right, were quite popular after the coming of the copper roller or cylinder technique for printing cotton in the early 19th century.

Coral print about 1860

Printers could get quite a lot of detail into a small repeat. Fashion loved the all-over, meandering look that contrasted nicely with stripes and regular dot-like prints.

Stripe of cracked ice, about 1830
There were variations, including a fad for cracked ice prints

Hexagons, about 1835

And broken twigs.
The strange twigs and cracked ice prints, so popular in the 1820s and '30s, became old-fashioned in the 1840s but the seaweed prints continued through the 1860s...

When the meandering look became rather out-of-date in general...

Madders and shirting prints from the 1870s and '80s

Replaced by a fashion for orderly geometrics. Stripes and regular repeats called foulards really took over after the Civil War.

You need meandering seaweed prints in your Civil-War-era quilts to contrast with the geometric styles, quite the look in the 1850-1870 period.

Little Red Schoolhouse
by Denniele Bohannon

Little Red Schoolhouse
by Becky Brown

Mother's Favorite
by Morgan Girl

Friday, January 25, 2013

How I Use BlockBase: Project Design

I am always looking for interesting patterns in antique quilts and saw this one on an online auction months ago. Those pinks and grays look very "early 20th century," and I thought it might make a good pattern for my Morris Apprentice collection. It's the right time period and the idea of big squares to feature those fancy prints is always good.

The first thing I do is look up the design in BlockBase, my quilt pattern program, as I want to see if it's been published, when and what the names are. And if it's in there I don't have to draw it again. The block was easy to find. By seam structure it's classified as a square-in-a-square. It's one of the few that hasn't any piecing in that large inside square. There are just six listed and it's at the top left #2403.

I copied the design into EQ7, and while I had BlockBase open I looked at the name card.

Art Square---From the Ladies Art Company pattern company---early 20th century, and Carrie Hall.
Dottie's Choice - Farm Journal
Village Square - Nancy Cabot in the Chicago Tribune--- 1930s

I liked the Dottie's Choice name.
Dottie's choice is to lay on top of the couch in the
window so she can bark at the neighbors.
Here she is among the Christmas decorations.

But that had nothing to do with William Morris or Henry Dearle. I chose Village Square--it seemed evocative of the Morris workshop idea, so that's the block name for the pattern.

I copied the BlockBase drawing into EQ7 in a file that I had named Morris Apprentice.
In that file I imported the images for the fabrics in the fabric collection.
I went to Libraries
  • Fabric Library
  • Import
  • From Image Files
and went to a file I had created with the prints.
I highlighted all the JPGs and
Clicked on Open
And then on
Add to Sketchbook.

Then I could work on a quilt mockup using the fabrics before I actually had the fabrics in hand.

The original quilt alternated a plain block so I set up a quilt design in EQ.
And played with the shading.
Too minimal for me. (Maybe not for you.)

Each time I created a new idea I went over to
  • File
  • Export Image
And then saved the image in the sketchbook to a file I called Village Square,
so I could keep track of all the designs and email them to Susan Stiff, the Moda designer I work with.

This is the look I liked in the original,
sort of a star that's a figure/ground puzzle.

I was thinking of the interlocking pattern you
see in Morris carpets of the era.

You could do it all with three pieces of yardage.

Here Becky Brown has fussy cut the
Artichoke print for an 8" block

Four pieces of yardage

But we often do projects with the precuts so here's a way to use the Layer Cakes---10" square precuts in a variety of scraps. I sent the digital sketch above to Susan. We were also looking for a kind of stained glass coloring since the Morris Apprentice, Henry Dearle, specialized in designing stained glass windows.

Susan figured out the yardage, instructions and how to make it work with a package of 10" squares.
Here's our collaborative effort, which you can find as a free pattern here: 

Or if you'd rather have a paper pattern your quilt shop may have one of the printed leaflets.

How can you use BlockBase and Electric Quilt to do your own project mock-ups?

1) You just need to practice dropping BlockBase blocks into your EQ projects. I usually find the block in BlockBase first, note the number and then when I am in EQ Go to Libraries---Block Library and search BlockBase by number. Then add to sketchbook.

2) You also need to learn how to add fabric pictures to your EQ fabric library. It opens a whole world of designing, whether for yourself, your students or your customers. There are a gazillion fabric pictures on the web. Start collecting digital pictures for your files and then you can do your own designing to help you decide on the fabric before you buy it.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Indigo Blue; Indigo New

Julee Prose sends pictures of her "Blue Denim" applique.

Julee Prose
Blue Denim

"It is all hand needle turned applique & hand quilted. I used the Legacy wool batting which allows better hand quilting. I free formed all the feathers on borders and around the wreaths and cross hatched vase blocks."

She used the "Shade Garden Sampler" pattern that Shauna Christensen designed for our book
Susan McCord. (See it over in the left-hand column.)

Julee has a great stash of blues; it's a color she uses often. If you love blues you will want to be buying the reproductions in Minick & Simpson's Indigo Crossing for Moda, which is scheduled to be in shops soon.

They did some wonderful reproductions of the traditional indigo resist prints.

Here's a picture of them showing off their stuff at Quilt Market. I pirated the photo from the Fat Quarter shop blog.
 Here's a link to the Indigo Crossings fabric at Moda:

And don't forget the indigos in my Morris reproductions
The Morris Apprentice.

Do a web search for Julee's other quilts by typing in her name and the word quilt.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Celebrate Polka Dot Day

Rocky Road to Spotsylvania
by Barbara Brackman, 1989
I had to digitally reconstruct this quilt as I never got a good photo of it.
But here it is for
National Polka Dot Day

Here is my Grandma in a fashionable dotted suit in 1939.
My Grandpa, a  retired fireman, has a fashionable dotted Dalmatian.
See more about Dalmatians in my sister's blog today:

An idea photo from Life Magazine in 1952

Below are a few recent dot quilts appropriate for the holiday---

Circular Momentum
by Piece'OCake
Patterned in their new book
Quilt A New Christmas

Lone Star
by Emma Jansen
See Ballarat Patchwork

Dotty For Dresden
by Sarah Fielke
See the pattern in the book Material Obsession

Exploding Spiral
RaNae Merrill
Patterned in Simply Amazing Spiral Quilts

Circle Quilt
By HTuck
By Gerrie Congdon
See more of her quilts with circles and dots at her webpage:

Dandelion Quilt
By Piper's Girls

Pottery Barn's
Teen Dottie Circle Quilt

P.S. Look at Nifty's blog today:

Vogue UK