Wednesday, October 31, 2012

happy halloween

Halloween is one of my favorite times of the year and is slowing starting to come here to Germany. About five years ago, no one did anything for Halloween. Now, you can find parties and some of the kids even go trick or treating. I passed out treats in Kindergarten one year and even told about the tradition and how it came about. It is actually a very old Celtic holiday.

We will carve our pumpkins tonight and light them to scare away the evil spirits who lurk the darkness before "Allerheiligen." If my kids decide to dress up, I even have a few ghostly treats for them.

Here is a table topper I made for Halloween a couple of years ago. I never quite finished it, but I still wanted to share. It is one of those patterns that you just have to make, and it doesn't matter when - just do it. It was featured in the September/October issure of Quiltmaker in 2009 No. 129. It was designed by Marilyn Larson of of North Dakota. Mine is still lacking the finishing touches such as the eye lashes, backing, quilting..finishing.

I also made a Scribbles Monsters II wallhanging last year. The panel is from Clothworks. And yes, it isn't finished either. I added some "Juggling Summer" fabric to it which gave it a nice modern feel. Hope you enjoy. You can see the rest of the photos on my flickr feed here.

Happy Halloween! Stay safe. Don't eat too much candy! Give out some healthy treats too such as tattoos or pencils.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

snow before Halloween?

It started yesterday morning with a slight snow fall. The temperature was just right around 0°C, so I didn't think it was going to stay around very long. Even so, my tradition goes, with the first snow fall I always bake something usually fluffy white loaf bread. Since we already had a lot of bread in the house, I decided to make my favourite "German Chocolate Cake". 

In the evening, after dinner, and we were enjoying our dessert, I was surprised to see the snow still there. We accumulated about two inches which was quite a lot considering it isn't even November yet. (I remember a couple of years ago when my dad was visiting us, and the same thing happened. It snowed in October!) 

Needless to say, I went to bed and was surprised to see that we had twice as much snow today as we did yesterday. I am not ready for winter. My kids kept yelling...."es ist Weihnachten." And I told them that we hadn't even had Halloween yet! I still wanted to buy pumpkins tomorrow and carve them. This seems a little strange for me. My husband is outside right now putting on the winter tires on the cars. Better late than never?!

It did strike a new feeling in me though. I am looking forward to winter and new winter designs especially for Christmas. Seeing the white snow brightens my spirits, and is always more enjoyable than an overcast gray sky. Enjoy your week!


Monday, October 22, 2012

Do you remember Grananimals??

When I was little, my sister, Kittie & I loved to go shopping for Garanimal clothing with my mother. It was the most awesome way to pick out clothing for yourself. All you had to do was pick the same animal for the top and for the bottom and your clothes matched. I think there were different types of animal like zebras, hippos, giraffes, etc. The company was started in 1972, the same year I was born!

I asked my sister a couple of years ago if Garanimals were still made, because I wanted to introduce my kids to them, and apparently they are. Although they went out of business for a while, they were actually relaunched in 2008. I have yet to see the new Garanimals, but have found my own version right here in Germany.

I love to go shopping and decided that I was going to buy real outfits for my daughter this year, no flee market finds, no hand-me-downs. She had an abundance of clothing in the past, and I just wanted to get her a few new really good outfits that she could mix and match herself. I found a really cool store that provided me with the "Garanimal - mix and match" feel. It is just too bad, there aren't those cute little animal tags on the tops and bottoms for the clothing that she could pick them out herself.

It was just too cute this morning when my daughter came to us in a different mix and match outfit of brown tights, patchwork skirt, brown top and fur west and told her papa that everything matched (in DEnglish).

If you are interested in learning more about Garanimals check it out here at Wikepedia.

As a designer thinking about Garanimals, is this my approach to patchwork design? Do I take the matching colors and fabrics from a standard fabric collection or line and stay within that frame to make everything match or do I challenge myself? How do you do it? Do you prefer the "garanimal approach" to quilt design or do you put together your own? I would like to hear from you and know what you think?

Friday, October 12, 2012

my philosophy

I like to work according to the SEP approach - simple, easy, practical.

Simplicity seems to be the catch word of our decade especially when it comes to making quilts. You will find countless number of books on this subject. Slow down, enjoy life, make it simple, there's no rush. I like simple designs and like to make use of a little bit of color. I have never been one who collected a lot of things and this is carried over to my designs.

I like to balance even if it is an asymmetrical design. A good quilt is like my daily outfit - a good pair of modern dark jeans, a neutral long sleeve t-shirt, a knitted sweater jacket and a bright print scarf and of course, my shoes always have to match my purse and belt. Make-up is optional, of course.
If it is too complicated, I just don't want to do it! I am sewing a sampler with my other patchwork friends in a "real time class" for 2012. Almost every week I go to class and try to work on a block. If you have ever worked on a sampler, you know that it just gets frustrating after a while. It is time consuming to cut out the templates and sew it all together and that twelve blocks times over. I think we all need a "quickie" every now and then just to put a spark back in our lives. I find myself avoiding the sampler and finding everything else to do instead. 

Okay, I am just practical by nature. My mother drilled-in to me to just do something right and do it once. No hassles. Since I am basically a lazy person by nature, I trained myself to find the most practical way to do that with the littlest amount of effort and carried this principle over to patchwork. Shortcuts are great when they produce the same results. I mainly make blankets because they are practical and are always used. Table runners might be only used once in a year. Purses might only be used for three months and then discarded.

Here, in Germany, patchwork is "back to the roots." Quilting fabrics are not that easy to come by. When you are lucky enough to find a gem of a fabric store, be prepared to spend a pretty €uro cent. Why? The large manufacturers produce their fabrics in Asia, have then sent to the United States for sale, and are bought from EU importers and imported to Germany. Everyone has to have their cut and import tax is high. Basically, a meter (a little more than one yard), costs about 16,50€; that includes a German sales tax of 19%. A basic quilt has about 8 meters of fabric equallying 130€! I am so impressed when I see my German patchwork friends coming up with stunning quilts, table runners, pillow cases, etc. just from old bedding or even worn out jeans! Now that is patchwork! Here in Germany, those scraps are VALUABLE! So, when I see a wonky cut block or a technique that scraps a lot of my fabrics, I shy away. I am half German from my mentality and am a GO GREENer! I separate my trash and buy organic when it is economical, i.e. not imported from Australia but rather produced in Austria or France.

Keep patching and thanks for stopping by. Next time, grab yourself a cup of warm coffee before you start.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

5 Ways to Spark your Creativity

Hello to you all, probably for the very first time, since I don't normally use this blog to post my thoughts, but hey, why not. Thanks for stopping by.

How do I spark my creativity? I am in the patchwork pattern design, and sometimes, I have to do the unusual to get my juices flowing.

  1. I GO SHOPPING - Now, this might sound stupid, but I do it. Yeah, some of us use this as an excuse to get out and not do our real job. Not me. I find it very inspirational. I like to see how different colors are paired together in the clothing stores. What colors would I wear? What colors make me feel good? Are they trend colors, seasonal or classic? Do I see any eye candy? Would I buy it? Candy is candy right!? What is also really cool, is seeing how patchwork has an influence on the fashion industry. Look at children's clothing and see what motifs are used. What appeals to kids? You will see abstract, bargellos and floral prints that you wish you could use in a new blanket or purse. Get your inspiration from your favorite clothing store. Just like you find your own style with clothing, you also have your own style with designing!
  2. I LOOK THROUGH MAGAZINES. Although this sounds just like the previous entry, it can be any magazine, not just fashion. Look at a decorating, food, political, auto, childrens', etc. Look at everything, the ads,the editorials, fine print, the credits, the back page!
  3. I GO ON A NATURE WALK. That's right. Go to a park or walk through a public forest to get your inspiration flowing. Look at how mother nature has created natural patterns in everything around you - leaves, bark, water ripples, cloud formations moss clumps, insects, footprints, etc. Take a look at the colors. How do they change throughout the different seasons? Do you see any eye candy or color blocking here?? 
  4. I TAKE MY CAMERA OUT AND LET IT WORK FOR ME. Take pictures off your hip. Let the camera focus and see what comes on the screen. I really enjoy this when we go family outings. It saves a big hassle of stopping, framing and focusing. Look at the photos later and see what you find. I bet you will be surprised!
  5. I COLOR WITH THE KIDS ?? Think outside of the box or get back to basics. How do you color? Do you outline and then color in? Do you mix colors? Do you shade? Do you make patterns in the clothing? What did you decide to color in and why? Did you see any items that could make a cool pattern? Modern, traditional, childish?
Try just one of these to spark your creativity. Tell me if it worked. Challenge yourself to think outside the box. Do the unusual.