Thursday, December 17, 2015

Pretty in Plaids in December

This past week I've been working strictly in plaids and plains. You might think the two groups are too limiting for a bred-in-the-bone scrap quilter. Not so. My Christmas exchange block for our guild holiday swap a couple of years ago to the right.

Translation for non-fabric readers: 'plaids' covers a lot: woven plaids (also called tartans), homespuns (usually small-scale and look like 19th century shirting fabrics-think Little House on the Prairie), checks and ginghams, and printed plaids. 

Likewise 'plains' means solid color fabrics but includes chambreys (colors woven with alternate white thread--think Oxfordcloth like men's dress shirts) and shot cottons (where different colors for the warp and weft produce a shade different from its components). The shade at left is Garnet from my Peppered Cottons line--a shot cotton of bright royal blue plus deep red.

I went leafing through old photos and realized I use plaids all the time. So here's a small sampling of blocks and quilts that show this personal predilection for plaids. Say that fast five times-

A big honking multi-color silk plaid, cut on the bias, made an interesting Log Cabin block and showcased Big Stitch quilting.

A shimaco or 'stripe book sample' over-stitched sashiko-style shows a variety of interesting cotton plaids from India.

And then there are touches of plaids used because they, artistically, break up prints with too similar a scale. Note the bright blue plaids surrounding the "compass points" of Cheddar. I have no more of most of these fabrics and I regret that this wheel block will have to stand alone. It also illustrates my fave use of batiks (the vague blue leaves in the background border)--best used next to another quite-different print (the rust/black print plus solid-color Cheddar). Batiks by themselves can be muddy. Gorgeous mud but muddy...I loved this blue batik so much I bought what was left on the bolt.

This lovely plaid and plains quilt was made by my friend Janice Pope. Janice keeps busy as a rep (fabric salesperson) for StudioE Fabrics and has her own pattern business called Anything But Boring . Go check it out!
The solid colors are Peppered Cottons shot cotton shades and the checks/stripes/big plaids are from Peppered Plaids, a now out-of-production line I did for StudioE Fabrics. In the fabric business, we call such lines 'vintage' to imply that they are rare and not to be re-ordered. Fabric store owners are used to hearing about lines going out of production. Lesson to all of us who work with and buy fabric: buy it when you see it because it probably won't be there tomorrow and the shop can't get it again.

And then there's this antique quilt from Virginia I sleep under every night with its little baskets pieced of tiny plaids and checks. Aside: Mr. December (Joey Velcro as a kitten) was a feral when we got him but decided to stay when he discovered the wealth of soft things in the house. Almost as good as boxes for feline bait.

Plaids creep into anything scrappy I make, including this teddy bear quilt. 

Bought on ebay: a totally charming plaid scrappy quilt top that smelled so bad it hit the bath tub as soon as it was out of the box. It has holes, some of the threads are rotten, and I totally love it.

This picture, stolen from the internet, is one of the best plaid blocks-ever! I have been contemplating devoting a whole quilt to this plaid madness in 2016. Patterns like this keep me up nights. 


ChrisMW said...

I also love plaids, but have not used them in my quilts very often. That may be changing now.

Pepper Cory said...

My mission will be accomplished then-

Annie Morgan said...

I love plaids and have used them often in my quilts. Roberta Horton's book, Stripes and Plaids helped free me up when she used the term "casually off-grain". I love that.