The name Charley Harper typically elicits one of two responses: 1.) "I LOVE him! My mom/grandfather/1st grade teacher had a mug/poster/puzzle of his artwork." OR 2.) "Charley who?"
Or, if you're my adorable Aunt Kay – "I LOVE her work! She's amazing!!"
Haha! Totally, Aunt Kay. She's the best.
For those who are unfamiliar with our guy, Charley, here's what you need to know:
- He's a he. (FYI, Aunt Kay)
- Although he was born in West Virginia, he lived most of his life in Cincinnati, Ohio.
- He created a distinct and stylized illustration style, focussing his skills mostly on portraying animals – namely, birds.
Once you recognize his aesthetic, chances are you will begin to see his art in a lot of different places. Below are some book examples.
Aside from books, wall art, puzzles, children's games and bedspreads (isn't this line from The Land of Nod darling?!), we can also find Charley's artwork being reproduced in our most beloved avenue – fabric.
Pictured above is the latest line of Charley Harper fabric – Western Birds by Birch Fabrics. These minimal modern birds are also the inspiration for the newest and free-est, quilt pattern here at Suzy Quilts – Bird Watching.
This quilt is designed to highlight the large-scale patterns found in the fabric line. Each triangle is about 6" finished – allowing for each graphic bird to be displayed fully. Through fussy cutting*, each sweet little birdie fits nicely into its own triangle. Feel free to mix and match as many birds and colors as you wish!
*Fussy Cutting is when you cut a piece of fabric to target a specific area of a print, rather than cutting the yardage into random pieces. I suggest using a clear triangle ruler so that you can see the birds as you cut them out. It would be quite sad for one of your little wrens to end its journey with a missing a head.
In the above picture I am having a veeery typical conversation with my photographer (aka my husband). I'm asking him lots of questions about shadows and wind and my hair and the lighting and...you get the picture. He, meanwhile, snaps one photo and tells me it's "the money shot." Also, we should ditch the quilt and grab some burgers.
I'm firing my photographer.
Before handing over the pattern, I have one more quick thing to tell you. (It's super quick. I promise.) I hate avoidable seams. When designing a quilt, I will try my hardest to use the fewest amount of seams possible.
This quilt could be made with only 6 3/4" equilateral triangles. But do you know what would happen? Thaaaat's right – you'd have a bunch of white triangles sewn to other white triangles – aka avoidable seams.
Since we don't do that here at SQ HQ, this pattern uses two templates – one 6 3/4" equilateral triangle and one very large rhombus. That large rhombus piece will need to be handled with lots of care because of its two large bias edges. Those edges will want to stretch and distort. Don't let them!
To prevent stretching, do two things:
- Use starch. I have an article about different kinds of starch and how to use it. Check it out!
- Be gentle. You know those two words most adults anxiously whisper to toddlers as they careen through life? Well I'm saying them to you now. Just be gentle and you'll be fine.
This Bird Watching quilt kit will be available soon at fabricworm.com and the Charley Harper fabric is now available for pre-order! And did I mention that the Western Birds Main print comes in 108"?? This fits into my anti-seam quilt world very nicely.
If you like this quilt design, check out some similar quilt patterns in the shop!