Sweetgrass Creative Designs

I am a quilt artist and quilting teacher, living in Shelby, Montana. I design and teach traditional patchwork designs, but I also dabble in art quilts, and am game to try any new technique I find. This blog will probably become a journal of sorts, and my goal is to post some new little piece at least monthly, though I'm hoping it will be more like weekly. I'm not promising ART, mind you, just fun little experiments that may or may not be artistic.

Location: Shelby, Montana, United States

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

One Inspiration Leads to Another

It began several years ago when a friend and I put together a program for our quilt guild on what to do with scraps. We made a mess of scrap blocks using squares and rectangles. Eventually, it became a popular workshop and after teaching it for a few years, I pitched the idea to my pattern publisher, who was just beginning to publish books. She thought The Thrifty Quilter sounded like a winner, and thank you, it is. (Find out more about it at http://www.sweetgrassdesigns.com/ ).

Then came the 2010 Olympic Winter Games. Here I sat with plastic bins full of squares of fabric, and there was that Vancouver 2010 logo with all of its bright blues and greens, and somewhere between snowboard-cross (my new favorite Olympic sport) and short-track speed-skating, this quilt top was born:

It's the first of three Olympic-inspired tops, actually.

Here's the second:

This one is TQ-able. You like that? It's a term I made up to describe a quilt that can be made using one or more of the six pieces in my Thrifty Quilter system.

Actually, "Power Play" was made with a new tool, designed by Elisa Wilson of Back Porch Designs in Kalispell, MT. It lets you quickly mark, sew and trim up eight 4-1/2" half-square triangle units from two 10" squares. Yes, it is intended for "layer cakes", and can also be used with charm squares. I was able to make the 80 HST's I needed for this quilt in 3 hours!

This is one of two quilt tops I made to test Elisa's Square Me Up ruler. The other is pictured on her blog: http://blog.backporchdesign.com/?p=620

The third olympics-inspired pattern is still in production. I need to collect more red and royal blue 3-1/2" scrap squares before I can finish it. But I'll give you a hint: Norwegian Curling Team!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Color, Color Everywhere!

If I had a nickel for every time someone has asked me where my quilt design ideas come from, I'd be able to quit my day job and perhaps get some of my UFO's finished!

The other day I was driving down the street, minding my own business, when I passed our local car dealership (It's a very small town, so we only have the one) and there on the lot were four cars side-by-side. One was a brightish brick red, the next a deep teal blue, then a burnt orange SUV next to a champagne colored sedan. Now that's a combination I will have to use in a quilt...someday!

Great color combinations are all around, if we just stop to notice. Our True Value Hardware store's paint section has sample cards that show a finished room, with chips of the paints used. I have found color inspiration in restaurant and hotel decors, too. There are people whose job it is to design great color combinations, so let them work for you, too.

I found a great website- http://www.colorjack.com/ . It has a wall of color tiles, and as you drag your mouse across the screen, it reveals a color combination for each tile. What fun!

Or you could just open a bag of M&M's.
My kind of inspiration!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Dawn Deco

This may have been considered an "art quilt" back when it was started...in 1988. It's probably the oldest unfinished project I had in my stash. At least it's the oldest one I can document. It's finally finished because my quilt guild is holding a PIGS (Projects in Grocery Sacks) challenge this year, and because I was asked to hang a solo show at the Montana Storyteller's Conference last month. I decided to combine the two, and called the show "Unfinished Business". It wound up being a pretty good retrospective of my quilting journey to date.

Dawn Deco is about 24" square, machine pieced (that pink set-in point was soooooo much fun), and hand-quilted. The basic design came from an old art deco clip art book, as did the quilting design in the yellow circle. The quilting designs in the other shapes were my design.

I haven't completed much in the way of art quilts recently, which is not to say the sewing machine has been idle. I've been designing and teaching a tablerunner-of-the month series at my local shop. It's been quite popular, and I'm getting a lot of requests for the patterns. My friend and co-worker Reta Rae has been telling everyone I'm going to publish a book when the series is finished. Unfortunately, she is not offering to finance it.

In March, I taught a couple of classes and did a lecture on scrap quilts at the Montana State University College of Technology in Great Falls, and heard "do a class on that one next year" four or five times, and of course, I said yes before realizing just how much WORK that's going to be...and it's already just ten months away!

It hasn't been all work, though. I have finished two more little Cosmic Jumble quilts and have two more in progress. Of the two that are finished, one "works" and the other doesn't, in my opinion. Of the two in progress, one "works" and the other probably will, too. I hope to have them posted soon...of course, with me, soon could mean months!

In Stitches,



Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Cosmic Jumbles

The Hewlett Packard company ran a series of television commercials a few years ago with the tag line "At Hewlett Packard, we never stop asking, What If." That, in two words, pretty much sums up my approach to quilting and design. This little quilt is a good example.

Last summer I took a class with Ricky Tims (Harmonic Convergence), and he taught us the niftiest little trick for sewing 1/4" borders. Well, one gloomy Sunday afternoon recently, I came across a bunch of 4 1/2" squares leftover from another project, and wondered what if I sewed them together, then cut them and put in 1/4" sashing strips. Not bad, I think. The photo really doesn't do the poor thing justice, but you get the idea. When you see it in person, there's really a lot of depth to it.

This was a commercially printed fabric. I mean to try the technique with a couple of commercial batik FQ's I have, and with fabric I've painted myself to see if it's a real technique or just a lucky break. (See, this is my problem- I just can't leave well enough alone! )

PS- Thank you for the spur, and the compliment, Wittering Rainbow! I'm not sure I can handle the pressure of having a fan (especially one whose own blog is filled with such wonderful stuff), so may I just consider you a friend?


Monday, August 14, 2006

Color Blocks Quilts

This series of small (16" x 20") wallhangings began with a challenge from the Alternative Quilts group on Yahoo! We were each to choose a painting, write a bit about why we think it "works" as a painting, and then make a quilt inspired by the painting.

The painting I chose was "Young Woman with Plant" by Rafael Soyer, an artist associated with the "American Street Scenes" movement in the 1920's and 30's. This particular painting was made in 1968. I took the colors from the portrait for my quilt, which is just meant to evoke a feeling of the 1960's, when I was growing up in Boulder Creek, California.

Marion Barnett, another member of the Alternative Quilts group, celebrated her new living room drapes by cutting up the old drapes and sending pieces to members of the group. As I recall, only a handful of us met the challenge to use the "curtains from hell" (Marion's term) in a quilt.

I loved the pink and grey color scheme. This quilt almost met the trash bin...it just didn't balance somehow. Then I realized I just needed to add that little bit of dark pink in the lower left flower panel to define that corner of the design.

So what do you do with a handfull of scraps of a to-die-for print that you rescued from your best quilting buddy's wastebasket? I made this little Color Blocks quilt. I wish the colors showed up better because it's really quite pretty.

By now I thought I might be onto something, so I put together a short workshop in designing these little quilts, and have presented it at two guilds and one show. It's a great way to use those novelty fat quarters you can't resist, but don't have a clue what to do with!