December 16, 2011

Deck the Halls NYC

A few weeks ago I sent some quilts to Caitlin Mociun (a clothing, fabric, and jewelry designer in NYC). She is going to be opening a shop in Brooklyn sometime early next year. Until then, she is showing her work and some of the artists and designers she will be including in her shop (including me!) at Deck the Halls. Anyone lucky enough to be in New York City this holiday season needs to get themselves over there. It is 12 days of shopping, from December 10 - 22, at the Old School, 32 Prince Street, NYC open each day from 12 - 8pm. It looks so fabulous. I'm totally jealous of anyone who gets to do some Christmas/Hanukkah/Winter Holiday shopping there.
For the rest of us, here are some pictures of what we're missing (pictures borrowed from core77):

My quilts. I think they look great on this ladder.
Mociun's table full of goodness

BKLYN Dry Goods

December 6, 2011

fabric scraps for everyone

The semester is almost over and today was my first official day off in which I had absolutely nothing that had to be done. Of course there are always things that should be done, but those can wait. I went grocery shopping at the good grocery store and went down every aisle. Then I came home and decided to tackle my fabric stash. After gentle nudging and friendly reminders from Andrea in my quilt guild, I have finally gotten my sh*t together to start selling my extra fabric. This afternoon there was an explosion of fabric in my sewing room as I dug out all the little scraps from quilts I've been saving and all of the color samples and shibori examples I've been hoarding. I put together little bundles that are for sale in my etsy shop. Here is a sampling of what's available.
1/4 lb scrap bags of hand dyed cotton
there are 8 of them
1/4 lb bundles of shibori and screen printed fabric pieces
6 pack bundles of shibori, each piece is 1/8 to 1/4 yard of hand dyed cotton
and fat quarter bundles of 2 solid and 2 mottled dyed fabrics each (1 yard total per bundle)

Sorting through everything made me excited to start a fun new project. Now I just have to decide what to make...

November 23, 2011

sometimes you make a rainbow on accident.

Dang, November. Where did you go? Oh right, you flew by while I was busy making these new quilts. These quilt friends are headed to New York very very soon. I just finished sewing the bindings and washing them last night. They still need to have all their little threads tucked in, labels sewn on, and mega lint rolling. Please forgive the rough studio photos.
65" x 65", 16 hand dyed colors
also 65" x 65", 16 hand dyed colors (I like this one best, it feels tropical)

there's a pattern here. see the other two for details.
queen size (85" x 92"), 40 hand dyed colors of rainbow goodness

I can't wait to get photos of them on beds. Especially the last one. I'm uncertain about how much I like the last one. It is rather like a rainbow explosion. In my head the colors did not form a rainbow, but I suppose when you gradate between red, yellow, and blue you really ought to expect a rainbow. I realize that now. At first, I felt sick when I realized that I had made a rainbow quilt, when I had intended to make a sunset quilt. But now I am embracing the rainbow. It feels playful and fun and happy. We'll see what the response is, but worst case scenario: I have a new quilt for my bed.

October 25, 2011

Wonder Fair is Wonderful!

A couple of weeks ago I was invited to participate in a show in Lawrence, KS at Wonder Fair. The Wonder Fair is an amazing shop. Seriously. You walk up a narrow set of stairs and emerge into a sunlight filled, high ceiling-ed, wooden floored treasure house. It is one part shop filled with hand made goods and prints (including two of my favorite makers Donna Wilson and APAK) and one part gallery space. I bought Simon a sweet George R. R. Martin t-shirt there today.
Anyways, the upcoming show is called Hibernation and I'm more excited about this show than pretty much any other show I've been in recently. If you live within 60 miles of Lawrence, make the trek to the opening this Friday 10/28 from 6 to 10 pm. It will be worth the drive.
don't you love this image they made?

In addition to four of my quilts, there will be work by Christa Dalien and Kelly John Clark (two of my classmates from grad school at KU) and work by Dan McCarthy and Cat Rabbit (double love!).
Meredith and Paul wrote this description of the show, which I think is lovely:

 As the crisp chill of autumn creeps up the stairs of the Wonder Fair, we've begun to gird our loins for another long winter—Wonder Fair style. Preparations begin with Hibernation, an installation-based exhibition and D-I-Y idea kit designed to inspire winter-time productivity. Hibernation transforms the gallery into a cozy cabin, complete with custom-designed screen-printed armchairs, hand-printed brick fireplace, snuggly screen-printed firewood, and a charming menagerie of winter-ready stuffed animals. In their midst, Wonder Fair is thrilled to present a selection of hand-dyed quilts by Kansas City-based artist Kim Eichler-Messmer. In four stunning quilts, Eichler-Messmer translates Midwestern winter landscapes into beautiful, functional pieces of art.

At a special opening event (Final Friday, October 28,) visitors are invited to crawl through an extensive blanket fort to reach the Wonder Bar, a pop-up cantina stocked with hot mixed drinks, cocoa, and gingerbread. Throughout the month, the gallery will feature printed installations by Kelly John Clark, Christa Dalien, and members of the Wonder Fair Family; quilts by Kim Eichler-Messmer; fiber-sculpted woodland creatures by Cat Rabbit; and prints by Jonathan Metzger, Dan McCarthy, and Ashley G. (Goldberg). A series of hibernation-themed knitting/crochet events and performances are planned for each weekend of the run of Hibernation; details will be made available through the website.

I hope to see you at the opening!

October 4, 2011

Fabric Dyeing Workshop 10/23

In a couple of weeks I will be teaching a fabric dyeing workshop in my studio. This is the first time I've thought about doing such a thing and with the support of my quilt guild, I decided it was time to go for it. It's going to be fun. 
my studio!
 I've been working on getting dye kits made for the students and planning out what projects we will do. The workshop is designed mostly for quilters, but anyone who is interested in learning how to dye cotton or silk using Procion MX dyes would benefit from it. This workshop is going to cover the basics: solid shade dyeing, gradation dyeing, and some low water dyeing (Ann Johnston's technique for getting interesting mottled colors). 
a lovely assortment of hand dyed fabric scraps
 I'm sort of waiting to see how well this goes and what the interest is, but if it goes well and people want more I'm thinking of additional workshops that would be a little more advanced, like shibori, color matching, and percentage dyeing (the method I use that is precise and reproducible). Here is the flyer for the workshop:

As you can see, members of the Kansas City Modern Quilt Guild get a discounted rate of $40 because the guild is sponsoring the workshop. Non-members pay $75, which is still a really good deal. There is also a $20 supply fee that covers a dye starter kit with all the dyes and chemicals to get you started and two yards of my favorite fabric for dyeing. And guess what! There are two spots left in the Sunday, October 23 workshop! Anyone in Kansas City interested? Go to my etsy listing to grab a spot!

September 22, 2011

the quilt that is testing every ounce of my patience

I've been having a pretty good run of creativity lately. I made a bunch of new quilts (7!!) for my show at Park University in the span of about two months. They all were easy peasy - get an idea, dye the fabric, piece the top, quilt the thing, done. No issues, no ugliness, just a series of good quilts. Then it all went down the drain. There is going to be a Kansas City Art Institute Faculty show in October and of course, I wanted to make a new quilt for it. And of course, it should be kind of big. At first I thought queen size, but there will be 35 of us in the show and a queen size quilt seemed like a space hog. So I went with twin size (65" x 88" ish).
Nothing is going right with this quilt (you can read more about it in my last blog post).
Here it is in phase 3. I didn't take pictures of phases 1 and 2 because I forgot. And they were just too dreadful. To be fair, phase 1 wasn't really that bad. It just wasn't great. You know? It was fine, but boring. Phase 2 was pathetic and looked like I was trying too hard. Phase 3 is everything that happened on Saturday night, if you're following along. I really love the piecing in the lower left quadrant of the quilt. That will have to come back in another quilt, with slightly different colors.
In phase 4 I decided this was a winter quilt. So I dunked the whole bottom half in thiox (a really pungent chemical that strips dye out of fabric) hoping it would turn white. It turned a weird light greenish-tan. I knew that would happen, I'm not sure why I thought thiox would do something different this time, but there it is. So then I thought it would all be magically fixed if I dyed the bottom half a really pale blue color so it would like kind of icy. It didn't. It looked green. Bright, acid green with some sections of pale blue. Gr! So phase 6 was stripping the color out again (!!!) with thiox. Phase 7 was to dye the bottom half black.
All of the lovely piecing is still there, its just now all brownish and blackish and purplish. This is the thing after I quilted it for the second time. That's right, second time. The first time I quilted the bottom with some green thread that is really very lovely in theory, but in practice it looked like hell so I spent nearly 2 hours ripping out all the quilting. I'm happy. I think. Maybe I'm just happy to be nearly done with it (only binding to go).

Does anyone remember the Barbie doll who would say "math is hard"? There was a commercial for her I think when I was in high school, which would have been the mid 90's. She was annoying and made an even worse role model for girls than she already was. Anyways. Quilting is hard.

September 18, 2011

What I did on Saturday night.

I worked. That is what I do most Saturday nights...and Friday nights, too. Pretty much every night and every day. Sometimes I waste time watching lame tv on my computer or talking to the cats that live outside while pretending to pull weeds. Sometimes it feels unfair that my work is also my favorite hobby (if you can call it that) because it leaves me very little time for other hobbies and the long list of fun things I would like to do. But then I think "hey! your work is your hobby! that's lucky. don't complain". So anyways. Here is a glimpse into my Saturday night (times are approximate):
6:45 - eat supper with Simon (after working in the sewing room since about 4:00)
7:05 - eat a little more supper because I'm still hungry
7:15 - go into the disaster area that is my sewing room and take a great big breath because it is such a mess and boy am I stressed out
7:17 - start ripping some seams because all the work that I did on Thursday, Friday and Saturday afternoon looked terrible and things need to be rearranged
7:18 - curse quietly to the cats about how much I hate ripping seams as I accidentally rip the fabric
7:19 - get over it and start ripping again. then iron. then trim. then start sewing strips together
7:19 - 8:09 - sew strips together, iron them, cut them up into vertical strips, sew those strips together, repeat until there is a 70" x 30" piece of patchwork fabric
8:10 - stand back and look at what I just did. it's good, but not great. brilliant idea! cut the piece into strips on a 45 degree angle and then rearrange and sew back together.
8:29 - this sucks. what was I thinking? gr. power through. just keep going.
9:47 - done. it is badass. now sew that part onto the rest of the quilt.
10:00 - good! now hang it up and look at it because it's going to be so great and I'm better now than I've ever been before.
10:04 - despair. it looks like crap. the color is all wrong and it is way too busy. damn.
10:04 - 10:13 - sit on living room floor staring at shitty, ugly quilt and having a mini freak out session.
10:13 - 10:18 - eat some nice bread with some lovely strawberry jam and drink some hot tea. talk to the cats about how cute they are and what good kitties they are.
10:18 - unpin the quilt from the living room wall and start seam ripping again
10:19 - 12:17 - frantically seam rip, iron, cut, sew, iron, cut, sew, iron, cut, sew, iron while singing loudly along with Roseanne Cash
12:18 - pin the quilt segments back together, pin to living room wall, step back. still not good, but better. fixable. I can see how to make it good.
12:24 - turn off lights and iron and sewing machine.
12:25 - go to bed.

September 4, 2011

Quilt Guilt and other non guilty quilts

I have been so busy lately with teaching, getting ready for my show in Parkville, and stuff I'm not supposed to talk about yet. It feels like there aren't enough hours in the day and when I try to make my fingers sew more quickly they won't listen. With all the craziness, I have been working on something I shouldn't. I call it my guilt quilt. I started it a few weeks ago and it was inspired by two quilts in the book Amish Crib Quilts from the Midwest: the Sara Miller Collection that I bought at the International Quilt Study Center last fall. It's a pretty traditional quilt using the Hole in the Barn Door (HIBD) block. Here is a picture in progress on my design wall:
I have a couple of parameters. First, all of the blocks have to be HIBD. Second, I can only use scraps of fabric. That part isn't really too hard because I have a ton of dye mistake fabric - things that I didn't measure right, or made too much, or whatever. Third, I can only spend an hour cutting pieces and then I have to make as many blocks from those pieces as possible before cutting new pieces. That forces me to make decisions I wouldn't normally make such as making things asymmetrical and putting strange colors together. At the end I will put in 1" undyed cotton sashing and it will be a queen size quilt. I'm pretty much in love with Amish quilts and using traditional blocks. This quilt will go on my bed when I'm finished, so I'm thinking of backing it with flannel for extra warmth.

Yesterday I went up to Park University in Parkville, MO to hang my show. Simon went with me and was a big help. I forgot to get a picture of the show all together but I will try to do it before I take the show down in October. I made seven brand new quilts for the show (in less than 2 months) and finished sewing pockets on the back about 15 minutes before we had to leave for Parkville. Last week was the week of very little sleep.

In some of the quilts, I used the quilting lines to mimic wind or rain or rays of sunshine. You can see the rest at my website: Now I get to cut some more pieces for one hour and then make more HIBD blocks. Yay!!! (totally not sarcastic, I really am very excited.)

August 12, 2011

Binding Confession

What my binding used to look like.
I hate sewing binding on quilts. I really hate it. It's my least favorite part of the whole process and one I constantly have to remind myself "do it right or pay the price"*. It is normal for me to have a stack of quilts laying around waiting to be bound. If I was rich, I would pay someone to sew the bindings. One of my many mental blocks, as evident in the picture above, it the thickness of the binding. Up until about 2 months ago, I was making really thick binding. I don't know why. Maybe I was worried that it wouldn't wrap all the way around the quilt? Who knows. It looks fine, there's just a wide strip of binding on the back of all my quilts.

This is what my binding looks line now.
 So, then I realized I could make my binding thinner and it would take less fabric and look much cleaner on the back of the quilt. But I still hated sewing binding. It all has to be done by hand, and I was using a slip stitch, which takes forever and shows tiny little stitches.
It reached a point yesterday where I did something that I wish I hadn't. I machine sewed a binding. Ugh. As I was doing it, I thought two things: 1. This is going so fast. Yay! and 2. This feels wrong. I shouldn't be doing this.

Machine sewn binding (front of the quilt).
 But then, last night at quilt guild, I learned something that may change my life forever. Our president Jacquie (of Tallgrass Prairie Studio) showed us how she sews bindings that are invisible and much faster than the slip stitch. It's called the "Invisible Ladder Stitch". There is a great tutorial at Turning*Turning with pictures and instructions. This weekend I plan to tackle my stack of quilts and see how I do with the magic ladder stitch. 

*I just finished reading The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin and started my own happiness project that I call "Kim's grow the f*** up project" and one of my personal commandments is "Do it right or pay the price" (which really means don't take shortcuts). If you don't know the book, go buy it or check it out at the library. I was a little put off by it at first because I feel like I already know everything she recommends doing. The hard part is actually doing everything. Once I stopped judging and being negative about it, I realized that I could definitely benefit from a lot of her ideas. One of my other commandments is "Don't be negative. Ever. About anything.".

August 9, 2011


A couple of weeks ago I made three pillows with some of my shibori fabric that had been sitting around. The fabric was originally meant to be used in quilts, but none of them came out quite right and I was feeling less than enthusiastic about making the quilts. I was still excited about the fabric and decided pillows were the answer.

 They are each 16" x 16" and are lined and quilted in a pattern that compliments the shibori pattern.

There is an envelope style closure on the back so the covers can be removed and washed if they get icky (you know, spilled on or used as a cat bed).

Aren't they cute? I think so. It was a fun project and while I was making them I kept thinking "I could make a ton of these" but so far there are only the three.

July 18, 2011

new quilt in the making

I started a new quilt today on a whim. I went to my studio with a list of things to accomplish and instead, dyed the fabric for this quilt:

It's going to be a crib size quilt, 40" x 50", like most of my other quilts, but I did take good notes so it could be made in any size.  The color is a bit off in this photo and the top hasn't been ironed yet. It just felt so good to dye the fabric and get it all trimmed and sewn in one day that I had to share. Hopefully tomorrow I will make the quilt sandwich and start quilting this addition to the list of things I meant to accomplish today.

And this photo is just for fun. I always think the piles of scraps from trimming are so pretty. So this time I took a picture. This picture also shows the color a bit better. The light gray has a slight purplish cast to it and the greens aren't quite so acid.

July 13, 2011

Arrowmont = permagrin

My class and myself demonstrating effective use of a dust mask. 
I spent last week at Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts in Gatlinburg, TN and it was supremely awesome. In 2007/2008 I was an Artist in Residence at Arrowmont, which means I lived there for a year with four other "emerging artists". As part of the residency, each person gets their own bedroom and bathroom in a shared house, their own private studio, and loads of opportunities to learn, network, and teach. Gatlinburg is a crazy tourist town complete with airbrushed t-shirts, fudge and funnel cakes, haunted houses, and something like 5 Thomas Kinkade galleries (shudder). It is also at the entrance to Smoky Mountain National Park.  It was one of the best years of my life (even though I was away from my husband and that part was difficult) and last week felt like going home.

Arrowmont is mostly known as a sort of art camp for grown ups. People from all over come to take week long art and craft workshops. I was there teaching a workshop on screen printing repeat designs on fabric. My students were all fabulous and blew me away with their enthusiasm and the amazing work they did.

Jennifer invited me to teach a workshop in Columbia, MO last fall for MOFA (Missouri Fiber Artists). She just couldn't get enough of me so she signed up for my class at Arrowmont. This is her on the last day of the workshop, showing off all of the fabric she made.

Sarah is a studio assistant this summer at Arrowmont. She had never dyed or printed fabric before and decided to tackle a complicated 3 color print. Her work was fabulous and she says she will make sun dresses out of all of the fabric she printed.

This is something I was working on during the week. One of the techniques I taught was using hand cut stencils made out of tyvek as an easy way to screen print. This interpretation of a Ralli Quilt was printed with dye from three separate hand cut stencils. I'm nerdy excited about the idea of printing traditional quilt blocks and instead of piecing a quilt top, printing it. I have at least two of these that I think will almost definitely be made into quilts in the near future. Maybe. We'll see. I might need to think about it some more.

Go to Arrowmont!!!

June 23, 2011

quilts on beds (gasp!)

Quilts go on beds, right? Those of you who know me, know that up until a year ago I firmly believed that my quilts were only for walls. Now, after making quilts specifically to be used for a year, I finally have a picture of one of my quilts on a bed. Tammy, in Iowa, commissioned my purple/yellow skyscape quilt in queen size earlier this spring. It is finally (almost) finished. I feel a bit guilty posting pictures of it here, when I should be getting it ready to ship, but I just couldn't hold in my excitement.


 I am not a stylist. And I only have my own bed to use as a model. Taking photos of artwork is difficult enough, but taking these photos made me really appreciate how much work goes into styling a product (I feel a little sick for saying those words). If anyone at Crate and Barrel or Anthropologie or Dwell wants to be my friend I will trade them a quilt for help taking awesome pictures.

And now to show off my new summer quilt. The top was purchased at an estate sale or antique store by my mother in law ages ago. She had it quilted by a friend who also added the black and white border. It is fabulous. The first night it was on my bed, Owen the big fat cat jumped up for her nightly cuddles and immediately freaked out. She thinks the colors are alive. Poor Owen needs order.

ps. my new sewing room is evolving. it is almost ready to be shared.

May 22, 2011


I have been working on so many different things lately and haven't posted in so long that it's quite difficult for me to decide what to share first. So...Pineapples!! Ever since going to the Textile Society of America conference this Fall and seeing the amazing International Quilt Study Center in Lincoln, I have been freaking out about traditional quilt patterns. Specifically Amish patterns and the Ralli quilts of Pakistan. Well, not freaking out so much as really really excited. In both of these quilt traditions solid colors (vs. patterned fabrics) and simple geometric shapes are the focus. 

I'm trying to figure out how to express something new in traditional patterns. If not something new, then at least something "Kim". Sometimes I feel like it's impossible to improve on what has already been made because there have been so many amazing quilters and quilts around the world for hundreds of years. But I keep trying to remind myself that all I can do is try to express myself and make something honest and "Kim-ish" and hope that I can add to the history, not just repeat it.

So - here are my attempts at Kim-izing the traditional Pineapple quilt. I'm playing around with my own hand dyed gradations, piecing and then simulating different quilts in Photoshop.
The blocks:

 The patterns:

April 19, 2011

the quilt that was supposed to be first but wasn't (or was it?)

Which came first?

or #1?
Number 1 the first came first if an idea counts as existence. But number 1 the second came first if physical form counts as existence.
Number 1 the first was the vision I had in my brain. Number 1 the second was how the vision manifested itself in the real world (after my tricky brain reconsidered her original idea and those pesky hands got in the way). Number 1 the first is the quilt that my brain wouldn't forget and wouldn't forget and wouldn't forget. So I had to make it eight long months after attempt #1. Sometimes you just have to make something. again.

April 14, 2011

A new look

So you might have noticed that I spruced things up around here. In the spring I get the decorating bug and right now it is manifesting itself as a desire to paint my living room Martha Stewart's "Salt Glaze" and possibly paint the kitchen cabinets (oh boy do I hate my cabinets. and my counters).  Instead of doing all of that, I decided to update how my blog and website look. Did you notice the new banner up top? Did you notice that it matches the banner in my Etsy shop? Of course you did. You are very observant today.

This is the updated website. It is much less dark than before. I'm pretty pleased with myself. You might also notice that the quilt on the front page is one of my new small landscape quilts. They are slowly making their way onto Etsy and all four in finished form are posted on my website here. I am not a big fan of shameless self promotion, so this blog post feels a to me. But. I am trying to put into practice some of the things I learned in my Artist, Inc. class and through the helpful etsy blog about continuity and (gasp!) branding.

Quilt guild is tonight and my Robert Kaufman Kona Solids quilt is officially finished. Or it will be once it comes out of the wash.

I've been dreaming about big striped quilts lately. Like rugby shirts, but quilts. Hm...

March 22, 2011

What if I was einsy weinsy?

And Iowa was the quilt I pulled up over myself at night. Would it look like these?

(mini Iowa quilts in progress. finished mini Iowas coming soon)