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linda@surroundedbyscraps.com
Portland, OR

503-997-8958

Handmade quilts and home accessories by fiber artist Linda Nussbaum. See samples of past projects as well as pieces available for sale and inspirations for custom orders. To see what is currently available for sale, please visit my Etsy Shop.

Surrounded by Scraps

A Quilting Adventure!

Linda Nussbaum

In less than 2 weeks I will be heading down the coast to join my mom for a quilting class. We're signed up to take a class from Jean Wells at Empty Spools Seminars, more commonly known by its venue name, Asilomar Conference Center in Pacific Grove, CA.

Not only will this be my first time taking a class with Jean Wells (and the irony is not lost on me that I live in the same state as one of the top contemporary quilt artists and teachers but am traveling out of state for her class), but it will also be my first time at Asilomar. I am super-excited and a little apprehensive. My mom has attended Asilomar many times in the past and seems to always enjoy the experience. She has tried to get me to go with her time and again, but this is the first that I've come through. At least for this particular venue. 

The class for which we are signed up is entitled, "Exploring Your Own Personal Theme," and one goal is to work toward creating a quilt series based on said personal theme. It draws from the design principles and techniques that Jean puts forth in a couple of her books, most closely (to my knowledge) in "Intuitive Color & Design" and "Journey to Inspired Art Quilting."

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My biggest problem so far is that I just cannot seem to focus on or decide on a main theme. I started by going through photos I've taken over the last few years, many while traveling or on hikes, There are so many interesting shots that I think would translate into cool quilts, but one thing that I've learned about myself in my many years of artistic endeavors is that I tend to get quite literal in my interpretations. And for this class I do NOT want to be literal, or at least not literally pictorial. That requires too much detail, and I'm lazy. So I decided to steer away from landscape photos as my compositional inspiration. I think. Now color scheme is a whole other issue! And that leads me to a shout-out once again to Anne for her ever-so-helpful Palette Builder tool on her website play-crafts.com, and while you're there, she has a number of other great design tools available under the "tools" tab on the home page.

 Brazil, 2004

Brazil, 2004

 Clackamas River, 2014

Clackamas River, 2014

 OR coast, 2015

OR coast, 2015

So then I started going back a little further and looked again at some of the images I created back in my CreativEntropy days, when I was studying photography at Oregon College of Art and Craft (OCAC). I am still fascinated by the wearing down of urban surfaces, the textures and colors that come out of the process. I'm not sure I'm prepared to create good quilt compositions based on those inspiration images, but that's what taking a class is all about, right? It's time to expand my experiences and let someone guide me into territory that I would otherwise find extremely daunting. 

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So now the task of gathering inspiration images, narrowing the theme I'd like to pursue, and pulling fabrics to take with me is at hand.

 A few of the images above are not mine... there are 2 Edward Burtynsky and 2 Janet Little Jeffers.

A few of the images above are not mine... there are 2 Edward Burtynsky and 2 Janet Little Jeffers.

 I actually collected even MORE piles before starting to go through and slim them down again. The task is still ongoing...

I actually collected even MORE piles before starting to go through and slim them down again. The task is still ongoing...

And there's still much narrowing that has to happen in order to get this stuff down to California for a week, especially keeping in mind my carry-on will be my sewing machine. 

Oh and bonus... not only will I be spending a few days after the workshop with one of my oldest friends and her family, but while in PG I have a date to meet up with one of my newer, online quilty friends for the second time IRL and I'm so looking forward to it!

A Little Charm Talk — YACQAL #2

Linda Nussbaum

I promised an entry giving a little more information about charm quilts, so here we go. I am not an historian and claim no expertise or special knowledge on this subject, but am more than happy to share what I have learned.

As I said in my previous post, the idea behind the charm quilt is that each piece used to make the quilt top is from a different fabric. Every single one (though there are anecdotes of quilts made from all different fabrics except 2 patches that are the same). Often they were collected over time, or traded with friends or penpals. Some are done using very specific color families in the prints, while others are a total hodge-podge of fabrics, and many use light and dark values to create an overall pattern.

 A quilt top found by a volunteer at Fanshawe Pioneer Village. Click on image to learn more.

A quilt top found by a volunteer at Fanshawe Pioneer Village. Click on image to learn more.

 Found in Step-by-Step Quilting... Click image for source.

Found in Step-by-Step Quilting... Click image for source.

Since most of the information I have on the subject I've gleaned from casual allusions over the years and looking up sources online, I am going to just list a couple of links to information I found helpful and interesting regarding charm quilts, and hope that you do too:

Re-posting the link to a couple of Barbara Brackman's entries on charm quilts: http://barbarabrackman.blogspot.com/2016/04/charm-quilts-and-odd-fellows.html  http://barbarabrackman.blogspot.com/2015/06/hattie-spragues-charm-quilt.html

 Credited to collection of Pat Nickols.

Credited to collection of Pat Nickols.

Another good description I found of the background of charm quilts is this post on Womenfolk.com by Judy Anne Breneman: http://www.womenfolk.com/quilting_history/charm.htm

And one more, from Laurette Carroll on Antiquequilthistory.com: http://www.antiquequilthistory.com/a-history-of-charm-quilts.html

 One of many gorgeous quilts found in the link above.

One of many gorgeous quilts found in the link above.

There is quite a bit of more information out there, but a lot of the material I found online when searching "charm quilts," especially looking for images, were merely contemporary quilts made using charm squares, and often do not actually follow the "rules" of the Odd-Fellows charm quilts. But I encourage you all to do your own searches and see what you find and what inspiration it sparks!

My next YACQAL post will talk about one-patch designs and common shapes used in charm quilts. I hope you all are getting as excited about this quilt along as I am!

You're a Charm Quilt-Along — an Intro

Linda Nussbaum

Last week I made an off-the-cuff comment on an instagram photo which seems to have resulted in the suggestion to start a quilt along (QAL). And I'm kind of jazzed about that!

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It's no secret that I have WAY more fabric in my possession than I will ever be able to utilize in projects. And I've also shared that recently I have not been terribly inspired creatively. Now, goodness knows I have plenty of WIPs, UFOs, abandoned class projects and quilt tops galore that need to be quilted, but none of those reignites a creative flame for me (though I have been chipping away at quilting some long overdue charity quilts!).

So when Jessica left a comment suggesting a QAL in response to my charm quilt idea, it gave me pause... and then I kind of got excited thinking about it. So I am hoping that this idea will excite many of you to join us starting in mid to late March for a charm quilt quilt-along, You're a Charm QAL (#YACQAL)

The idea is to use your own stash (or swap pieces if you need to broaden the basket... we might set up a way to facilitate that for those who would like) to make a charm quilt in the traditional sense of the term: a quilt (generally a one-patch) that only uses one piece of any one fabric - no repeats! This pre-dates fabric manufacturers putting together 5" charm square packs and other precuts from their fabric lines. This is the true sense of scrap quilting. Here is a link to a brief, yet informative, blog post on charm quilts by quilt historian Barbara Brackman.

 Please excuse the lack of credit here... I thought I had saved the source, but can't seem to relocate it now. :( However, this appears to be an example of a late 19th C. tumbling block charm quilt.

Please excuse the lack of credit here... I thought I had saved the source, but can't seem to relocate it now. :( However, this appears to be an example of a late 19th C. tumbling block charm quilt.

In the coming week I'll put up a post with some examples of various charm quilts, ideas to get the juices flowing, but in the mean time check out this collection of charm quilts found on Pinterest, most of which seem to follow the original meaning of the term. Following that I'll work on outlining the general schedule for the quilt-along. Bear in mind I have never led a QAL before, so things may shift as we go, but I welcome feedback always. And more than anything else, I look forward to trying something new, having fun and seeing what you all come up with!

Stay tuned for #YACQAL!

Half-rectangle Triangles for Bliss Circle

Linda Nussbaum

Here's throwing together a slap-dash tutorial for a relatively common quilt block, but I just thought I'd put in the specifics that I am looking for from my quilt circle for do.Good Stitches this month.

I'd like to collect half-rectangle triangle blocks that measure 3.5" x 6.5" UNfinished. I'm also going for the super girly color combination of orange, pink and magenta (and if some red creeps in, that's okay too). 

So let's start with cutting a 4" x 7" rectangle from 8 different fabrics. Divide them into 2 stacks with fabrics all facing up, being sure to have a little contrast within each of the stacks, whether from color or value. The stacks don't have to be even, but you must have at least 2 rectangles for this to work. 

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With one of the stacks, place your rotary ruler diagonally from the lower left to upper right corners. Mark a cutting line, or go ahead and cut on the diagonal. With the second stack, do the same thing, BUT place the ruler diagonally from the upper left to lower right corners this time (mirror image to the other stack).

 I've only shown the cutting on one of my two stacks... cutting diagonally from upper left to lower right corners.

I've only shown the cutting on one of my two stacks... cutting diagonally from upper left to lower right corners.

Mix and match your pairings within each of the stacks. Flip the lower triangle up so that right sides are together and the long diagonal cut lines up. Stitch using a 1/4" seam allowance. Press seam allowance to one side.

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Trim your rectangles to 3.5" x 6.5" doing your best to keep the seam lines exactly in the corners. You will end up with 8 different rectangle blocks.

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If you are so inclined you may sew together individual blocks for larger blocks, but my aim is to mix them all up with different orientations, so I'm happy to receive the 8 separate rectangles without further piecing. Here's the direction I'm thinking of going with this quilt:

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Thanks to my Bliss Circle mates for their contributions! I hope y'all have fun with this!

2017 Now, 2016 Was.

Linda Nussbaum

Wow, I knew it had been a long time since I've blogged, but I didn't remember just how long it had been!! This gives a good indication of the level of creating that happened for me over the last year --- not much.

It was a year of transitions (as every year is, of course), of shifted focus and of inertia. I packed up my amazing workspace on short notice, and haven't quite unpacked it fully.

 Yes, that's a mattress serving as my design wall, in our second bedroom that's been converted into my sewing room.

Yes, that's a mattress serving as my design wall, in our second bedroom that's been converted into my sewing room.

I did very little quilting throughout the year, though put more practice into making garments, bags and sundry, mostly for Cool Cottons shop samples (and cute Alberta Street Pencil Skirts for me!).

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Earlier this week I decided to get back in the swing of things. I chose to lapse my membership with PMQG in 2016 (though honestly have been inactive for the better part of 2 years) for a number of reasons: discontent with the relations between the local guild and the national, lack of creative impulse, a disconnect from the community in general, among others. But recently I've been thinking that we now need to embrace the communities that mean something to us, those which we would feel the loss if they no longer were there for us. So Thursday morning I renewed my PMQG membership just hours before the first guild meeting of the year. And it seems like it was the right decision for me at the right time. The meeting Thursday evening left me feeling invigorated and inspired, with a sense of belonging that I didn't feel at the same events 2 years ago. I'm sure a large part of that is my own perception and attitude, but that just confirms for me that now is the time to reconnect and build these ties.

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I won't make any promises that I will get back to blogging regularly, but I do intend to make an effort to get back to creating regularly, which will give me something to blog about ;) So, thank you to those who take an interest, and especially to my community of creatives who keep me inspired and make me want to contribute to the world they are creating.

What's all over my internets??

Linda Nussbaum

Some of you designer-types may have also noticed that recently a link has been getting a lot of attention... BoredPanda has highlighted a Twitter feed for @cinemapallettes, which posts just that, stills from films with a hex color palette provided with the image still. 

Now, I am TERRIBLE with Twitter. I've had my account, @linda_sbsdesign, for probably 2+ years but almost never check it. Just not the way I social media, I guess. That said, I first was made aware of Cinema Palettes through the QDAD Facebook page. One of the members came across the link via BoredPanda and posted it to the group page. As a result, this week all of the daily design sparks (inspiration photos) are from this feed.

It's such an interesting look at color stories, and a new way to look at the stories we've seen so many times over. This one inspires me to create (or at least to want to create). So far I've only gotten 2 designs for the group, but am going to keep the link as a personal exercise for myself. The palettes proposed offer a richness I don't often pursue in my quilting. It's a great way to expand my own artwork.

Following are the film stills for which I have created designs so far... I can assure there will be more coming soon:

 Provided by Cinema Palettes, Spirited Away (2001) dir. Hayao Miyazaki:  https://pbs.twimg.com/media/CftYIDPW8AAKXti.png

Provided by Cinema Palettes, Spirited Away (2001) dir. Hayao Miyazaki: https://pbs.twimg.com/media/CftYIDPW8AAKXti.png

 Spark provided by Cinema Palettes, Edward Scissorhands (1990) dir. Tim Burton :  https://pbs.twimg.com/media/CVbloG2WUAE0w4z.png:large

Spark provided by Cinema Palettes, Edward Scissorhands (1990) dir. Tim Burton : https://pbs.twimg.com/media/CVbloG2WUAE0w4z.png:large

After playing around with some of these I may start shuffling actual fabric stacks in the sewing studio and seeing what I come up with!! Go ahead and follow the link and let me know which of the stills speaks to you!

More QDAD

Linda Nussbaum

Lately I've been checking in more regularly with the Quilt Design A Day (QDAD) Facebook page. My contributions are still slim, but I'm making more of an effort to stay connected with what is going on there, which helps keep me more connected with design creation in general.

A few weeks ago the admins hooked me in with a one-day (or one day's album) challenge contest. The way the group is set up, an admin creates a photo album every day starting with a stock photo (or a photo taken by the artist) with a color palette drawn from the photo, usually using the exceptional tool PaletteBuilder from Play Crafts (who happens to be one of the original administrators for the QDAD group). From there, the membership is invited to create a quilt design inspired by the photo composition, subject matter and/or palette and post their electronic design in that day's album.

This particular challenge asked members to choose one of their own photos to use as inspiration, with a follow-up describing how one might go about making the quilt based on that design. What fun!

I started going through photos from recent trips and uploading to PaletteBuilder, amassing nearly half a dozen different options on my desktop, including the following:

 Taken while on a camping trip last August near the Nehalem River in Oregon - our first group camping trip with kids and animals (not our kids ;) )

Taken while on a camping trip last August near the Nehalem River in Oregon - our first group camping trip with kids and animals (not our kids ;) )

 From a family gathering at J's folks' home in Montana. His dad set up for a stellar raku-firing party.

From a family gathering at J's folks' home in Montana. His dad set up for a stellar raku-firing party.

I eventually landed on the photo below for my inspiration, also from the raku party last summer:

When working on these computer-generated quilt designs (many of which are likely never going to become actual quilts) I use one of two design softwares, EQ7 for Mac or Affinity Designer, which I use for more free-form designs. The above photo somehow lent itself to a more regular block structure for me, in which case EQ7 is the better software, and this is what I ultimately came up with:

Something in the satisfaction I felt completing this assignment, so to speak, has brought me back to the group more actively again. And this week the inspiration "seeds" are of a whole new ilk - which I will touch upon in an upcoming post... ;)

Finding Rhythm

Linda Nussbaum

One of our local treasures here in Portland is a phenomenal jazz radio station, KMHD. They are not technically public radio, in that I don't believe they receive any municipal or governmental funds, though they are an affiliate of OPB (Oregon Public Broadcasting). They call themselves a "listener-supported" station - which means semi-annual pledge drives. I don't recall when I discovered this station, though I became a regular listener several years ago due to a now defunct Wed. evening program called Divaville (actually, it was their Friday night Blues broadcast live from Holman's Bar & Grill that really drew me in initially, now that I think of it...)

Digressions. A few weeks ago KMHD held their spring pledge drive. For a few years I would wait until these pledge drives to make contributions to the station, receive my thank-you swag and search for the receipts 'round about tax time. But when I realized that this really is my go-to radio station, more than any other, I decided to sign up for their regular giving program, referred to as their Rhythm Section. This way it's something I don't have to think about constantly, an amount I don't miss each month but if I were pledging all at once would feel substantial, and a way to know that I am contributing to something from which I take daily. 

 Me wearing some of said swag. I wear this cap regularly and it suits me so well that I stopped opting for gifts from them once I got this!

Me wearing some of said swag. I wear this cap regularly and it suits me so well that I stopped opting for gifts from them once I got this!

Now to tie in with my work in the sewing studio. I feel like my rhythm comes and goes there, the only constant flow is my work with my charity quilting bee, do.Good Stitches, and even that has its stops and starts. So far this year I have probably been less prolific than I have in recent years past, but I can honestly say that the work I am doing in the studio is making me happy. I might go so far as to say uplifting. I have 2-3 active sketchbooks going for quilt designs and have made a small fraction of the quilts that get pencilled in, but this year I am trying to change that.

Not EVERY project I work on is a design that I have been kicking around, in fact one of my most satisfying quilts so far this year is a simple, large-scale half square triangle quilt, made for a friend who is showing no mercy in the face of cancer. The feeling I had while making this quilt couldn't be half as kick-ass as her attitude and spirit!

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My goal for this year is NOT to attempt to grow my business, but to grow my art. It's a much-needed perspective change for me that I truly hope will keep both robust. If I look at my creative inspiration as I do my contributions to my favorite radio station, pursuing a little bit on a regular basis ultimately sustains the process rather than going full-steam just a couple of times a year.

 Finally got around to quilting a pair of pillow covers I pieced some time last year. Steamrolling ahead!

Finally got around to quilting a pair of pillow covers I pieced some time last year. Steamrolling ahead!

 Starting to work on one of those afore-mentioned designs that's been hanging out on a sketchbook page for too long. Soooo satisfying!

Starting to work on one of those afore-mentioned designs that's been hanging out on a sketchbook page for too long. Soooo satisfying!