myBearpaw Blog by Jo Avery

Southwest Modern book review and a new HST project

The lovely people at Lucky Spool sent me Kristi Schroeder’s new book Southwest Modern and I’ve been feeling really inspired by it!

It’s part quilt book and part travel book which definitely makes it stand out from the crowd.

Kristi is a native Texan and in her book she takes us to five different Southwest USA regions with some stunning photography and equally stunning quilts.

There are 18 quilt patterns inspired by the different destinations each with a travel guide where Kristi shares her favourite places to stay, eat and visit. It all looks very exotic when viewed from a wintery Scotland, and I love the evocative names like Marathon and Big Bend.

Kristi’s style is very modern and minimalist and I have to admit that initially I didn’t think I would find much to like  (you all know that I am very ‘more is more’!). However when you see her quilts amongst the backdrop of these landscapes it all starts to make sense.  There is just so much space in Texas!  And so there is a lot of space in Kristi’s quilts.

I really love the photography. The huge, desolate backdrops of deserts and mountains are perfect for showing off her graphic and dramatic designs to their best effect.

The colours are warm and earthy, or as blue as the endless sky.

I really found myself becoming seduced by these simple yet impressive quilts.

So I decided to make a block inspired by my two favourite quilts from the book (I’ve even photographed it with lots of space around it!).

Thunderbird, on the left, and Sandia, on the right, called to me particularly.

I had an idea to make a large (18in) block which I might use either for a block keeper (something I’ve realised my Thursday evening Sampler Quilt students really need!), or for a sewing machine cover for my new Janome 9400.

So I scaled the central motif from the Thunderbird quilt down, simplified it and added a centre to give it a feel of the Sandia quilt.

Kristi’s quilts are quite simply constructed and use a lot of HST’s,  which means that the technique side of the book is kept to a minimum.  This gives the whole book the same feeling of space as the quilts and the landscape, and therefore it seems particularly uncluttered and clear.

I used quite small 1.5in (finished) HSTs, and as I was going to need 32 of the orange/charcoal I decided to paper piece them. Lee Heinrich of Freshly Pieced has just launched a new pdf pattern called Perfect HSTs and it’s such a great product! For £7.16 you get:

• Templates to make half-square triangles in 10 sizes (finished sizes of 1″, 1-1/2″, 2″, 2-1/2″, 3″, 3-1/2″, 4″, 4-1/2″, 5″, 6″)
• Complete step-by-step instructions for using the templates, with photos
• Fabric requirements and a cutting chart for all 10 sizes, in quantities of up to 300 HSTs each—so all the quilt math is done for you!
• A quick-and-easy pillow project pattern that you can make in less than two hours, using her templates

They worked perfectly for this block and I now have them for every size I need.  UK peeps can buy them from Lee’s Etsy shop here. For USA customers go straight to Lee’s website here.

I am so pleased with how this turned out.  I am totally into the sparse minimalism of it – maybe I am finally a convert!

I would thoroughly recommend Kristi’s ingenious blend of Travel and quilts. Those sun baked landscapes have been the perfect tonic for me this winter. You can buy Southwest Modern from Kristi’s website or your usual book seller.

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