Give this quilter an inch, she’ll give you an inchie
If you believe in going that extra mile for a cause you hold dear, here’s a woman who measures her success by every single inch.
Nadine Ruggles of Angelbachtal, Germany, is the author of “Inchie Quilts,” featuring little fabric gems that are 1-inch by 1-inch squares.
Published earlier this year by the American Quilter’s Society, the book details how to make miniature works of art, or inchies.
These little pieces of eye candy can be incorporated into many different styles of quilting — traditional, contemporary and art.
“They’re also a great format for quilters to experiment with new materials and bridge the gap between traditional pieces and more innovative styles,” Ruggles says.
Textile artists can use all the beads, fibers, crystals and other embellishments that are so popular today.
“There’s no limit to how you can decorate an inchie,” she says.
The origin of inchies comes from scrapbooking and paper art hobbies. Then fabric artists joined the fad, using techniques similar to those for fabric postcards and the smaller artist trading cards.
For as many inchies as she’s produced, Ruggles hasn’t been making them all that long. In the early part of 2008, they sidetracked her from a larger project, and she’s been churning them out since.
The concept of decorating a larger quilt with the inchies soon occurred to her, and Ruggles started designing quilts so that her inches became a truly integrated part of the whole.
Her book is full of directions for showcasing them in a variety of clever quilts, such as “Inchie Chess,” “Inchie House Party” and “Inchie Petit Fours.”
The latter was inspired by fabric that reminded Ruggles of the decorative icing on the fancy little cakes. She set out to design a quilt in the image of a box of petit fours, and the result looks like something that should be eaten for dessert.
“There’s even an inchie that has been sampled in the border of the quilt,” she says.
Her creations may be diminutive, but that hasn’t kept them from being noticed.
One of them she titled “Accessorize Me — with Inchies!” will be on display at the International Quilt Festival next month in Houston. It received an honorable mention in June in the wall quilt-mixed techniques category at the National Quilt Association’s show in Columbus, Ohio.
She describes inchies as loads of fun to design and make and calls them “addictive.” No doubt about that, as she attached more than 500 inchies with Velcro to a quilt that won fourth place in a 2009 contest sponsored by the National Quilt Museum in Paducah, Ky.
The title is “Elemental Changes — Color Play,” and Ruggles made the little pieces detachable so they could be arranged and re-arranged in infinite displays of blended color.
The quilt appears in another American Quilter’s Society publication, “Burgoyne Surrounded,” which was the theme of this year’s New Quilts from an Old Favorite.
In addition to winning awards, Ruggles will lecture and teach her inchies techniques Oct. 28–31 at the AQS Quilt Expo in Des Moines, Iowa.
When making inchie quilts, Ruggles says she likes to start with a large piece of a multicolored print, then cut into it and see how the design falls on each inchie.
“The randomness of this method is great fun,” she says.
Probably the most challenging aspect of making inchies is stitching the edges, she says.
Ruggles advises stitchers to practice on some test pieces and perfect their technique. She says she developed her method for edge stitching because she wanted the edges to look “very finished, almost like a tiny binding.”
That means she leaves no empty spaces in her stitching and no tiny bits of fabric sticking out.
“Once I started making inchies,” Ruggles says, “I saw them everywhere: in quilt blocks, borders and designs that contained square units, in game boards, even in architecture and interior design.”
For quilters who may want to inch their way into this mini mania, Ruggles says inchie swaps can be found through an easy Internet search.
“Think about how you’ll use the inchies you’ll receive and what type of quilt design you might make to display them,” she advises.
Also, note whether the swap has a specific theme or set of guidelines to follow.
You can preview some of the pages of Ruggles’ book and see many examples of embellished inchies on her Web site, http://www.inchiequilts.com.