Fabric Panels

Yes, YOU Can Color the Dream Pillowcase Panel! ©2016 Riley Blake Designs and CRAYOLA™

Yes, YOU Can Color the Dream Pillowcase Panel!
©2016 Riley Blake Designs and CRAYOLA™

If you were a girl in the 1970’s, you may have loved Joni Mitchell and tie-dye, or maybe you were a Cher fan and bell bottoms and fringe were your groove. “Groovy” was a word you actually used.

While we were watching movies like JAWS or Annie Hall, there was a quiet revival taking place. 1976, America’s Bicentennial year, saw a rebirth of our national interest in quilting. If you want to learn more about the mover and shakers of the movement, read the excellent American Quiltmaking: 1970-2000 by Eleanor Levie (2004).

In those early days of the revival, piecing an entire quilt was out of the question for most modern women. It is hard to remember, but we didn’t have access to rotary cutters or mats until the 1980’s, which is why printed fabric panels played an important role in the initial resurgence of quilting. Many of us would be embarrassed by those early cheater quilts. We cringe when we remember using poly/cotton sheets for our quilt backs. But there is no question that 1970’s fabric panels served a purpose. They were the ON RAMP for today’s quilters and they helped spawn an entire industry of quality cutting tools, notions, patterns, books and beautiful, coordinated 100% cotton fabric collections.

When it comes to fabric panels — to quote a famous Virginia Slims campaign — YOU’VE COME A LONG WAY, BABY.

Loralie with her “Dog Gone” panels. Imagine these doggies traveling the world!”

Loralie with her “Dog Gone” panels. Imagine these doggies traveling the world!”

Loralie Harris of Loralie Designs says her whimsical fabric collections always begin with a panel. “The panel is the star of my play.” Once she knows who the star is, she gleefully casts the supporting characters. The coordinating fabrics could be stripes, flowers or polka dots — and there is always a “tossed” version of the original panel. Loralie says, “The inspiration for a panel can come at any moment! The most mundane, ordinary notion can strike and explode into a lively, fun story when illustrated in a panel. The ‘Nifty Nurse’ panel, my first panel is an example with each block expressing a different personality of a nurse which we have all experienced! This panel has been in print now for 13 years unchanged. My newest panel comes from my collection ‘Dog Gone’, the story of cute little doggies traveling the world with each block set in a different iconic location on the planet. A companion poem tells the fun tail!“

During the 2016 Spring International Quilt Market, Rhonda Pierce, (SCHMETZneedles.com Marketing Manager) attended the Joyce Hughes Schoolhouse session. A few weeks ago this blog shared the panel artistry of Joyce Hughes, a fiber artist from Pennsylvania. Starting with a simple fabric panel, Joyce adds thread, fiber and texture to create a unique work of art worthy of a gallery showing.

Using her unique thread painting techniques, Joyce created stunning art from Northcott fabric panels. Rhonda fell in love with the Northcott booth, photographing their impressive fabric panels.

Northcott Panels, Spring 2016 International Quilt Market

Northcott Panels, Spring 2016 International Quilt Market

Although many companies are creating fabric panels, Northcott has a unique history and point of view. According to Deborah Edwards, Design Director of Northcott, “Panels have always been featured in our collections, particularly juvenile collections.

Today’s fabric panels are very different from those of the 70’s, and we do consider them works of art. As technology allows, our panels are becoming more creative and complex. Digital panels are not limited to 24” or 36” and there is no limitation on color. In some instances we create running yardage that looks like a panel; this allows quilters to customize the size of their quilt.”

At Northcott, panel designs are created by the designer who creates the collection whether they are in house or independent artists. Sometimes a collection starts with the panel, other times the panel evolves after the coordinates.

According to Deborah, “We are focusing more on how panels can be used in different ways, either as a complete unit or deconstructed to create something completely new. People have less and less free time and panels allow them to make interesting quilts quickly. One of the biggest benefits to starting with a fabric panel is that the design choices have already been made. Without the panel, selecting fabrics for a project could take many hours, and it isn’t a process everybody enjoys. Panels get them RIGHT TO THE SEWING PART.”

Mary Mulari & Chatterbox Apron Panel by Penny Rose Fabrics.

Mary Mulari & Chatterbox Apron Panel by Penny Rose Fabrics.

Mary Mulari is a new player in the fabric panel world. Mary has written dozens of books covering a wide range of sewing topics: Sweatshirt makeovers, appliqué ideas, embroidery, home dec, and quick gift ideas. She has developed a very popular line of apron patterns. In 2015, she created a line of fabric based on her most popular apron pattern, The Church Ladies Apron.

For 10 years, the Church Ladies apron was Mary’s best-selling reversible apron pattern. She thought it would be a good choice for an apron panel since it fits on a yard of fabric. She also liked the idea of featuring several fabric prints on the panel so the apron would have coordinated parts, such as the neckbands, pockets, and ties, when it was sewn together. Making the panel the center of a fabric collection means that the reverse side of the apron can be made from one of the coordinating prints.

Mary proposed the idea to Penny Rose Fabrics, a sister company of Riley Blake. She worked with the fabric designers to collect vintage floral prints and the result was a collection with an updated vintage look. Mary Mulari’s delicate hand-lettered instructions are recognized by sewing enthusiasts all over the world who have been loyal fans of her patterns and books since the 1980’s. Her hand-lettering became her personal stamp on the Penny Rose apron panel.

Several buyers of the panel have said, “This is just like cutting out paper dolls!” All you have to do is layer the panel over one yard of the coordinating fabric and cut on the lines to “release” the two layers of the apron from fabric. You’ll have an apron made of first quality fabrics, a terrific gift to give at a bridal shower, birthday celebration, or any reason at all. Mary suggests using a piece of leftover fabric to trim a kitchen towel and adding it to the apron gift.

Apron panels make an excellent beginner sewing project because they’re so easy to cut out and sew together. Making the aprons reversible means you don’t have to sew all that pesky bias tape around the edges — a challenge for many who sew. Plus, a reversible apron is more durable and allows the option of wearing the apron on either side.

Mary Mulari’s second apron fabric panel collection, the Chatterbox Apron, will be available in September 2016. It has three colorways for the apron along with 18 coordinating prints.

Lillian is seven years old. Grandma Rita gave her a Featherweight sewing machine for her birthday, and it’s time to learn and practice some basic sewing skills. Cutting was the first big hurdle. Children are used to those rounded paper scissors — but making the transition to a REAL FABRIC SCISSORS was a scary idea for Grandma. And the question is — cut what? Sewing a mini- quilt would be a great first project, but the process was overwhelming. First, she has to pick out a pattern for her project, choose the fabrics that would go together, then measure and mark the little pieces, and cut straight lines. It didn’t sound like much fun.

Lilly learning to cut & sew in the real world.

Lilly learning to cut & sew in the real world.

Then, Grandma Rita found this FABRIC PANEL!! It’s called “Made with Love” designed by Greta Lyn for KANVAS Studio in association with Benartex. The cutting lines are printed on the fabric — so all Lilly has to do is make the scissors work (and keep her fingers out of the way).

Whether you are an accomplished quilt artist, an experienced seamstress or a rookie sewist — you should take another look at fabric panels. Today’s fabric panels are no longer just a quickie quilt. They can be the basis to create the most interesting, one-of-a-kind projects or gifts. Used intact or cut out and strategically placed, or even combined with other panel parts, the sky is the limit.

Fabric panels are bountiful. Start your search at
these sites, then buy from your local quilt shop.

www.benartex.com/kanvas
www.loraliedesigns.com
www.marymulari.com
www.northcott.com
www.rileyblakedesigns.com/pennyrose

Where Do you Get Your Quilting Inspiration?

Quilting & sewing inspiration is found in unexpected places. These random pics were taken by our own Rhonda Pierce in the great state of Texas. Each pic offers inspiration to mix colors, textures and patterns. Yes, she had future quilts in mind when snapping the pictures!”

Stained Glass - San Antonio Riverwalk

Stained Glass on the San Antonio Riverwalk

 

Moda Open House

Moda Open House

 

Eloise Wagers, from Oliso, on the San Antonio Riverwalk

Eloise Wagers, Oliso, on the San Antonio Riverwalk

 

Cacti on the San Antonio Riverwalk

Cacti on the San Antonio Riverwalk

 

San Antonio Riverwalk

Decorative Railing at the San Antonio Riverwalk

 

Colorful Umbrellas on the San Antonio Riverwalk

Colorful Umbrellas on the San Antonio Riverwalk

Sewing & Stitchery Expo

Sewing & Stitchery Expo Logo

Far from a professional photographer, our own Rhonda Pierce was happy to capture a few random moments at the Sewing & Stitchery Expo in Puyallup, WA in February 2015.  With nearly 27,000 attendees shopping over 400 booths and attending 400 classes, there was a creative endeavor to capture every interest.  But, the best part is discovering sewing friends from near and far.  We know this is sort of last minute, but it’s not too late to still make plans for this year’s show Feb. 25–28, 2016.  www.sewexpo.com.

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Melanie Ransom moments before modeling in the American Sewing Guild Fashion Show

Melanie Ransom moments before modeling in the American Sewing Guild Fashion Show
www.asg.org

Sewing & Stitchery Expo Collage 1

Sewing & Stitchery Expo Collage 2

Rhonda’s Favorite Quilting Needles

00favoritequiltingneedles

00rhonda-pierceSCHMETZ manufacturers 17 needle types so you have a great choice.  Sometimes technique will dictate  needle choice, other times, the thread or fabric.  I always like to say “it’s a dance between the needle, thread and fabric with YOU and your technique as the leader.”  If one needle is not performing to your expectations, don’t worry, needles don’t have feelings — change to a different needle type or size.  Here are my top four SCHMETZ needle choices for quilting:

• Microtex — For piecing and stippling in sizes 70/10 or 80/12.  The Microtex is my “must have” needle for sewing on batiks and for appliqué. Because this needle has a “very slim acute point” it wears out faster.  I can usually see an inconsistent stitch or hear a click when this needle is ready to be changed.   This needle easily creates a stitch of precision!

• Quilting — The taper of the needle point is more sever, so the sewing experience is a bit different.  Available in two sizes, I use the 75/11 for piecing and the larger size 90/14 for the actual
quilting.

• Topstitch — The extra long eye on this needle is especially helpful when working with heavier, multiple or even aged (poor quality) threads.  There is less friction on the thread passing through
the eye resulting in less shredding and breakage.  I mostly use size 90/14 for quilting.

• Universal — This work horse of a needle works with nearly all fabric types to create a stitch with integrity.  This needle has the widest assortment of sizes from the finest 60/8 to the largest
120/19.  Yes, I have more Universals in my stash than any other needle type.

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Flower of Light

BFlowerofLight

Quilt Artist:  Janet Fogg
www.janetfoggquilts.com

Photographer:  Dale Leix

Custom Hand-Dye Fabrics:
Jeanette Viviano
www.jeanettesfabrictodyefor.com

Artist StatementThe symbol Fleur De Lis is the inspiration for this piece.  Combined with the lily, symbolic of purity and the Queen of Heaven, this quilt is machine pieced with the illusion of the subjects superimposed yet transparent over a grid of six pointed split stars.  The quilt, consisting of rocks and ferns suggests an ancient mosaic wall as the canvas for this vision.


A few years ago at International Quilt Market & Festival in Houston TX, Flower of Light captured my attention. Those beguiling eyes. The kind smile. The all-knowing confidence of this heavenly being grabbed my heart and spoke to my spirit. How could all these split pointed stars — geometric shapes create such a soft and alluring quilt? Hand-dyed fabrics, metallic painted fabrics, batiks and crystals accentuate the subtle brilliance. What can I say? I see thousands of quilts every year, but Flower of Light is still one of my all-time favorites. Janet Fogg mastered the artistry of fabric, thread and imagination. I am so pleased to share this inspirational masterpiece with you.

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