Friday, October 30, 2015

Bringing the outside in

Last week, I was preparing to give my Color confidence lecture to the Hinsdale Embroiderers guild. I always take the chance to re-look at my color books and if I can, go to the library or bookstore to peruse some new ones.  I am a sucker for books about color--and oddly, especially ones that are not about color for quilters.  

One book I found particularly engaging last week was A Colorful Home by Susan Hable (Chronicle Books, 2015).  It is loaded with images of beautiful interiors and advice for living with color.  

Even the inside front cover of A Colorful Home is some eye candy.  I want to cut it out and hang it on my wall!

Depending on the day (and week and hour) different things about a book will resonate with me. Last week, it was a suggestion in the beginning of this book to look to your garden for inspiration.  Ok, I thought--how can I apply this - right now - to a quilt?  I find creativity to be a fleeting thing sometimes.  I am either all in or all out.  Last week I happened to be having an all-in moment.  So, I drove right home from the library to look at my yard.

At our house, in late October, there is not much going on outside at the Walsh house.  We have a super small city yard to begin with, and a few years ago we bricked in most of the back with a lovely patio.  I do, however, have a few self watering planters on the side of my garage that I happened to plant some seeds in with my daughter earlier this summer.  In one planter we did Nasturtiums.  I absolutely love these flowers--they are carefree (we planted them and left them alone - I rarely even checked the water level in this planter).  Their colors are super saturated and they provide great contrast with their green leaves.  They work well as cut flowers (I had them on my windowsill all summer after they started blooming). And, you can eat them!

So there it is - I was going to make a Nasturtium quilt.  A quick trip to the basement and I was back upstairs with a load of shot cottons.  I took several of the leaves and flowers to look at them against the varied red and green fabrics. In this case, I felt like I wanted the colors to be kind of literal.  I took the fabrics outside--whenever I went to a fabric store with my mother or grandmother, they always took the fabric near the windows to look at it in natural light :).

In the end, I took out some of the fabrics that might have added interest, but didn't fit into the color ways I was looking at in my flower pot.  Perfect!  The stars were aligned, and I was able to start cutting and sewing right after deciding on these fabrics.  (This rarely happens to me!)

I chose to make the i-candy pattern for a couple of reasons.  First of all, I had recently made a new sample for this pattern and had the measurements and method fresh in my mind.  When I am having a creative urge, sometimes I want to get right to sewing and not worry about figuring out something new.... Secondly, these blocks are relatively small (finishing 6") and I felt like this was a representation of the way the flowers looked to me.  Here's how the quilt started out:

These were the first blocks I finished.  I am still deciding a few things about this quilt - its size, how it will be quilted, and whether or not to add more fabrics (within the same color scheme) for interest.  I also started a top putting the colors in the opposite places (the i's are green and the squares are red, etc). I've given myself a deadline for finishing these projects....I won't divulge in case I can't meet it.  However, I'm usually the best with self imposed deadlines.  I have high hopes for getting in some sewing time this coming week!


  1. What a great idea!! The colors in these pictures are so inspirational! I want to start a shot cotton quilt right now...I think I will!

  2. What a fabulous idea to bring the outdoor colors inside! Such beautiful flowers!