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December 19, 2014

Finding Inspiration

By Edie McGinnis

Edie McGinnis

Edie McGinnis

I am a quilter. I work with cotton and thread, sometimes wool. I love the way cotton fabric feels, especially when it has the silky texture and finish of well-made, tightly woven goods.

Color intrigues me. In my opinion, color and color placement make the quilt. It is the difference between a ho-hum quilt and one that pops. It sometimes lets us skate by when we haven’t exhibited the best of workmanship. It announces moods and personalities and can make a quilt exciting or somber. The quilter chooses which.

Jason Pollen is an artist. His medium of choice is fiber: fabric, dyes, threads, and maybe even twigs. He has a resumé that is as long as my arm and has created a breathtaking body of work. He has spent 30 years as a professor at the Kansas City Art Institute. But enough about credentials.

Pollen would probably be insulted if I said I thought he missed his calling. Maybe he would find if irritating if I told him I thought he should have been a quilter. So I won’t say either of those things. Instead, I will keep my thoughts to myself.

But if there are quilters out there who can look at Pollen’s work and not be inspired by his use of texture and color, I don’t know who they are.

Look at this! It’s called Havana. Pollen created this piece after spending some time in Havana, Cuba, after noticing clotheslines strung between apartment buildings, with laundry flapping in the wind. I love the playfulness and exuberance of this piece.havana

Even though blue isn’t my favorite color, “Boundless” took my breath. The intense blues accented with bits and pieces of orange grabbed my attention. I couldn’t just walk past it, I had to stop and drink it in. I walked on but found myself coming back for a few more sips.boundless

I walked up to this piece and said to my friend, “Oh, this looks just like music sounds.” I looked at the little sign next to it and saw it was called “Sonatina.” (A sonatina is a short sonata.) It was aptly named. Even Pollen thought it would be something wonderful if someone could look at that piece and make music out of it. I think he did exactly that.music

music detailSome of his pieces reflect health challenges he’s encountered. In 2008, he underwent three surgeries on his spine. His spinal cord was nearly severed in one of them, and it took more than three years for him to move from being bedridden to a wheelchair, and then back to some semblance of normality.

During his recovery, he made small pieces. Once he was back in his studio, he created a piece he called “16 Wounded.” When he began working on the piece, he intended it to be about his own hurt and wounds, but then he shifted his focus to others who were experiencing rough patches as well. Take a good look at how the pieces are connected.  See that big, rough stitch? Pollen learned that from the surgeon who performed his last back surgery.16_Wounded

I think I am going to be able to call Pollen a quilter after all. His piece “Two Shirts, a Sweater and a Vest” is exactly that, a quilt. To make it, he used some of his favorite clothing that was worn out but couldn’t bear to toss out. He cut pieces from each item and stitched them together using a sewing machine.sweaters

“There’s magic in what state-of-the-art sewing machines can do today,” Pollen says in the catalog that accompanies an exhibit of his work continuing through Jan. 4 at the Kansas City Central Library. “You can use them to draw and paint with thread in the freest, most organic way.”

Here are a few more of his pieces. Enjoy!face

interplayRemnant IEdie McGinnis is an author and editor for Kansas City Star Quilts. She writes every Friday.

Filed under Books

December 18, 2014

Bobbins’ Bargains Takes a Literary Turn

This week, Mrs. Bobbins is offering inspiration from some of America’s great poets.

bobbins bargains logo - 200 wideShe is always one to find a good deal out there in the quilt world. Now she brings her amazing talents to you … with her weekly Bobbins’ Bargains!

Every Thursday, Mrs. Bobbins will select one of our books and offer it to you at a very special price … 75% off the current listed price!

Better yet, your shipping is FREE in the continental U.S.

Better, better yet, “Five Gets You a Freebie!” If you order a Bobbins’ Bargain just five times (from five different sales), you get a free copy of any of our books! Take your pick. We’ll contact you by email once you’ve qualified for a free book and take your order.  Plus your shipping on that one is free as well. Easy as pie!

This week’s Bobbins’ Bargain is Quilting a Poem: Original Designs Inspired by America’s Most Beloved Poets, by Frances Kite and Debra Rowden.QuiltPoemWeb

Unique among quilt books, Quilting a Poem features 16 new blocks created by award-winning designers Frances Kite and Deb Rowden. Travel the literary road as we visit a favorite poem of a classic American poet – Emily Dickinson, Langston Hughes and more – then enjoy the creativity of Frances and Deb as they translate the verse into a beautiful quilt block. 120 pages.

Click here to see a YouTube video of the book.

The book is on sale for $17.95. Your price using our Bobbins’ Bargains promotion code is just $4.49, plus your shipping on this book is free in the continental U.S.!

(SHIPPING NOTE! Please allow 14 business days for delivery after Wednesday, Dec. 24, the last day of this week’s sale.)

Be sure to use this promotion code before checkout:


Please make sure to click the “Apply Promotion Code Now” button after entering the code. The discount won’t apply unless you do so. Please verify that you’ve received the discount before checking out.

Click here to order. And remember  …  your shipping of this book is free in the continental U.S.!

December 17, 2014

Going Green for the Holidays

By Donna di Natale

Donna di Natale

Donna di Natale

When I was growing up, tearing open packages and tossing paper all over the room was part of the holiday ritual. It’s a wonder some of the small gifts didn’t get lost and tossed out with the wrapping paper.

Today, I’m much more conscious about waste, especially when it comes to paper. Paper comes from trees, and we need our trees. So when it comes to wrapping presents, I try to be sensible as well as creative and do it without paper, or at least without new wrapping paper. The wrapping then becomes part of the gift.

The Japanese have a long history of wrapping things in cloth. Dating back to around 700 A.D., the Japanese used cloth to wrap their personal belongings when they went to the public baths, so that their clothes wouldn’t get mixed up with someone else’s. Later, they began printing squares of cloth, called furoshiki, particularly for wrapping.

As other means of wrapping or carrying things became available, furoshiki declined in popularity. But in an effort to conserve and preserve, the Japanese Environment Ministry has organized campaigns to promote the use of furoshiki again, and the art of furoshiki is catching on around the world.

Serizawa Furoshiki

Modern furoshiki cloth is made from cotton, silk, rayon or nylon. They can be any size, with 18- to 20-inch and 36- to 39-inch squares the most common. They are printed with traditional Japanese images, scenes from Japan such as cherry blossoms or Mount Fuji, flowers, geometric designs. Some feature shibori, a very old Japanese technique for dying fabric.

The cloth shown here was designed by Keisuke Serizawa (1895-1984), a Japanese textile designer and designated Living National Treasure of Japan. Serizawa created a technique for stencil dyeing fabric using a starch resist. This cloth is 100 percent cotton and measures 36-by-36 inches.

You are probably wondering how this relates to quilts or quilting. Well, you know that stash of holiday fabrics you keep meaning to use? Instead of wrapping packages with paper and tape, why not use this ancient art to wrap packages using fabric from your stash?

There are two main knots or ties. One is the straight tie; this is the same as a square knot. The other is the butterfly tie. This is similar to the square knot: right over left and under. But the second part – left over right and under – is done with a loop of fabric. The result is a nice butterfly tie.

2 Furoshiki tiesNow let’s wrap a few items. I’ve used two fabrics stitched together to give you a better idea of how this works. I trimmed the fabric to 36-inch square. Begin by placing the item to be wrapped on the diagonal, so there is a point at each end.

Giving wine or herb-infused vinegar as a gift? Give two, and wrap them this way.

2 bottle Furoshikitied wine bottles

Leaving about 3-inch between the bottles, roll the fabric around the bottles. Set the bottle upright and tie.

For a rectangular box, such as a shoebox, fold the short ends over the top of the box, tucking the top end under. Pull the remaining ends up and tie. I tied this box with a butterfly tie.

butterfly tie Furoshiki

oblong furoshiki

A square box is neatly wrapped and tied by placing the box in the center on the diagonal, folding and tucking in two opposing ends just as you would if you were using paper. Draw the remaining ends up together and tie. This box has a straight tie.

square Furoshiki

top of box showing tie

No paper. No tape. No mess. And the gift of fabric is a nice addition to the present tucked inside.

You might want to add a note identifying the fabric, such as: 36-by-36 inches, 100 percent cotton, brand name and design, or just leave the selvage on in case the recipient wants to purchase more fabric. You may want to include a diagram for using furoshiki to make a bag for carrying groceries or lunch.

Furoshiki bag 1

Furoshiki bag 2

Furoshiki bag 3

Furoshiki bag 4

These illustrations came with my furoshiki. For a brief history of furoshiki, more wrapping styles or to buy furoshiki cloth, go to Kyoto Collection or Furoshiki.com.

And did I mention that there’s no mess to clean up? Pick up the wrappings and add them to your stash for recycling next year. Whatever holiday you celebrate, make it green.

Donna di Natale is an author and editor for Kansas City Star Quilts. She writes every Wednesday.

December 16, 2014

California Shop Owner Q&A: Patricia Hughes, Creative Patches and Sewing

WarehouseOnWheels-page-0Our Warehouse-on-Wheels sale in California continues with an interview with a shop owner who saw a need in her new community and met it.

Seventeen years later, she is one of six shop owners participating in our special sale, with 30 books as much as 75 percent off!

Patricia Hughes owns Creative Patches and Sewing in Nipomo, California.


What made you decide to open a shop?Patricia Hughes

After working in the dental field for 35-plus years and  sewing for over 45 years (mostly clothing and home deco), when we decided to leave the Southern California area and move to the Central Coast area of California, I made a career change and thought I would start designing children’s clothes and custom work.

Well, the area we chose has a large retirement age group, and many belonged to quilt guilds before they moved here, so Creative Patches became a quilt shop, retreat and classroom center.

My classroom is larger than my store, as it has workshops, coffee club groups, retreats and adult ed classes.

The store is open seven days a week, and I have run the whole show by myself the last seven or eight years. I would like to do more website-wise, but need to discover how I can fit that in with sleeping time.

I love fabric – always have, since I started sewing at 15 years old in high school.  Still love it and have learned to use it in a different way. Love the creating part and never like to follow a pattern exactly, nor did I when I was sewing clothes, either.

My favorite is appliqué and embroidery.  I am not a good at piecing, but still do it as with teaching classes I need to.

Born and raised on a farm in Iowa. Both grandparents were also farmers. Mom’s family from Sweden and Dad’s from Norway. Miss the Iowa people, but not the weather. Married to my husband for 52 years and have two wonderful sons and daughter-in-law.  They have blessed us with three even more wonderful grandchildren, Alison, Lauren and Jackson.

I opened my shop Dec. 1, 1997.

What are you most proud of about your shop?

My customers and seeing them grow in their sewing and creating ideas.

What trends do you see in quilting today? Have tastes changed since you opened your shop?

I have always had a tendency to go for more traditional or Civil War-era look or at least the warm colors.  In fact, I have done many of the blocks-of-the-month through Kansas City Star Quilts authors and designers.  We are currently doing Piecing the Kansas Trail. Love to do blocks-of-the-month that have stories that go with them.

My biggest problem is what do I do with all these quilts. My family is probably crossing their fingers that they do not get another quilt this year for Christmas.

I also do a lot of blocks-of-the-month with Bunny Hill, Lynette Anderson of Australia, Jan Patek, just to name a few.


Creative Patches and Sewing, 136A N. Thompson Road, Nipomo, California 805-929-3704    

December 15, 2014

Mrs. Bobbins

Overall Bill

For more quilty laughter from Mrs. Bobbins, get The Big Book of Bobbins by clicking here! Just $16.95!