Sunday, May 11, 2008

My Name is Liz

Not Lady. My husband's name is John Harvatine IV and most everyone we know excluding his family calls him Harv. When we moved across country shortly after we were married, many of our new friends started calling me "Lady Harvatine" or just "Lady Harv". So in search of a URL that felt like "me" and would stand the test of time, I went with
I've always loved making things. Crafting has never been a hobby for me, it's always been more of an obsession with a specific craft, different crafts at different times. When I was 12 it was embroidery floss and toothpick worry dolls. When I was 17 it was Ukranian Easter Eggs. In college it was knitting. And now it's sewing, specifically sewing quilts.
I made my first quilt in early fall 2006, shortly before starting my blog. I had been poking around a couple of knitting blogs, which led me to other craft blogs and I was finding some really inspirational quilts. Through some sort of craft blog osmosis I got it in my head that I should order (big surprise) Denyse Schmidt Quilts and The Modern Quilt Workshop. Now I need you to brace yourselves here because I'm going to be totally honest and I don't want you to hate me: I really didn't like "The Modern Quilt Workshop". I definitely have more modern sensibilities in design but just not this kind of modern. On the other hand, the Denyse Schmidt book flipped my inner quilter's lid. I absolutely love the more free form, organic quality of her designs. I was also very enamored of her choice of colors and fabrics. I really took to heart what she wrote about the percentage of solids she uses in her quilts. Not that I really put these ideas into practice in my first few quilts.
The reason I first wanted to make a quilt was to make a second anniversary (cotton) gift for Harv. My first quilt ever was going to be for him but midway through I decided I didn't like it enough. Here it is unfinished:

I did finish it but never took pictures. It's just ok. It taught me some things about color and fabric choices, namely things I don't like. I don't love all of the prints I used, I don't like the way the colors play off each other and the contrast is all weird and muddy. Like there's no contrast at all except for the weird dark green. Bleagh.
Next I got all of the animators I work with to contribute squares to make this quilt for a friend's first baby:

This was no small feat considering the animators are mostly men. Artsy men but not sewing men. I love the collaborative nature of this quilt but it's not something I would make on my own. I would do this again though with a few changes to the rules. (Set firm deadlines! Come up with a solid theme! The unofficial theme here was "monsters".)(Oh, also my square is this one.)
I did end up making an anniversary quilt:

I came up with the design on my own. It was ridiculous and convoluted and overcomplicated and I now know how I could have made this quilt in a much simpler way. The infinity symbol is pieced in, not appliqu├ęd which I still like. I wouldn't do that differently now. I would choose different colors and fabrics though. These blues are too blah and at that time I hadn't really discovered what I really loved in prints. Most of these I would never used today.
After that I went into full on DS mode and I really started to figure out what I like and don't like. I made this DS quilt for my mom:

And this one I copied, there's no pattern for this quilt:

I really love the use of a lot of solids with just a few choice prints. I also put a lot of thought into the balance of the prints that I am using. I try to mix things up by not using more than one plaid, stripe, geometric print, floral print, etc. of the same scale. I also try to use a much higher percentage of solids than prints. Making these two quilts also showed me how much I like the simplicity of a solid, neutral background.
I've also learned a lot about my taste in color. I love things that are bold and interesting, even a little jarring. I always think back to that long ago day in middle school when I learned about "opposite colors". This miniature quilt is much busier than something I would normally make but I really love the big, bold, contrasting colors.

And they don't just contrast, I think they contrast in a balanced way, as do the combination of different prints and solids. This quilt is the most "Gee's Bend"-y thing I've ever made. It was totally free form, I just made my fabric selections before starting and pieced with an eye on keeping a balance of size, color and prints. I fully appreciate the history and artistry of Gee's Bend quilts but (again, don't hate me!) the overall style and color choices aren't really my thing. Just so you know!
I've since made several quilts keeping these rules of design in mind. Here's a bunch of the rest of my quilts that I've been most happy with. There's one pseudo Denyse Schmidt in there, one that was inspired by this quilt, one that looks like it was inspired by Carissa's twin quilts below but I swear I just came up with it (there's that Craft Blog Osmosis at work again!) and the rest are my own designs. (There are links below to the larger versions of these photos.)
1. Baby Quilt, 2. Quilt for Lauren, 3. Audio 1, 4. Plaid doll quilt, 5. Pirate Girl Miniature Quilt, 6. Finished Miniature Quilt for Whiplash, 7. Bubbly quilt top finished, 8. Copycat baby quilt with a real life copy cat, 9. Zipped Up quilt

You can see more here on Flickr and here you can read about the making of all of these lovelies.

Man, that was really fun! Sorry if I was a little long winded. I feel like there's even more that I could write but I'll save it. I can't wait to start sewing with all of you!


abcgirl said...


i love, love, love the one called "audio." it reminds me of a stack of books, and as a librarian, well.... that instantly makes it appealing to me. it was a tough decision when i made my duvet cover between that one and "zipped up," but i figured i could make zipped up more quickly and so it won. but i think an audio-inspired quilt may have to be somewhere in my future.

i have to say that i'm right there with you on your "scandalous" quilt book preferences. the only quilt that caught my eye from the modern quilt workshop was "plain spoken" and gee's bend quilts tend to be just a bit too... messy for me.

Your bubbly quilt top is very fun too!


jacquie said...

Liz, Glad to know the origin of your bloggy name and a bit more about your quilting style. Glad you put your thoughts out there. Love the bubbly quilt. I've never done applique before, but I love circles about as much as squares so I'll need to get to it! I admire that you make so many of your own designs.

Natalie, the Chickenblogger said...

Very interesting Liz. Thank you for sharing your journey, because it really helps me appreciate your quilts. I love your quilts, and I feel inspired by them... and I haven't wanted to copy what you do, but to create my own versions of what you evoke. Now I think I understand that I need to be more committed to integrity, planning and design and to be patient and selective... hmmm deep thoughts...

Rebekah said...

I agree with Carissa that the only quilt I like in the MQW is the Plain Spoken quilt, which I still have yet to make. The getting started section of that book was just so helpful to me in getting all of the tools and basic steps down pat. That's why I like it. : )

Your first anniversary quilt is so pretty. I think that's what got me hooked on your blog in the first place.

Alexandra said...

I love it all. And I agree with your dislikes (Gees Bend and Modern Quilt Workshop). I am so glad that I have been "introduced" to you and your work.
I also just learned that the second anniversary is cotton from you. Good thing, because I was making my boy a quilt for it anyway!