Kim Eichler-Messmer

Kim Eichler-Messmer

News X 3
I have lots of good news to share. First off, I have spent the past three days making myself a new website. The address is the same: but it has a brand new look and is easier to navigate. Check it out and let me know what you think!

I am also excited about a new project I'm working on with my good friend Debbie Barrett Jones (she makes amazing woven panels and scarves). We are planning a community based Textile Studio in Kansas City. Basically, we want to create a place that fiber artists/crafters/hobbyists can go to safely dye fabric and yarn, work on bigger projects than they have room for at home, participate in fiber/textile events like show and tell, critiques, and holiday sales, and take workshops and classes. We are still in the planning phase and are looking for a space, but we created a survey to gauge interest. If you live in the Kansas City area and are interested, please fill out our survey

My biggest news, that I am finally able to share with everyone, is that I wrote a book! It's called "Modern Color: An Illustrated Guide to Dyeing Fabric for Modern Quilts" and is being published by C&T Publishing, through their Stash imprint (they make cool sewing and quilting books). It is a beautiful book and will be available for purchase in November. I will be introducing it at Quilt Market this October in Houston and I can't wait! There are 9 hand dyed and quilted projects with complete instructions and a chapter on dye safety. Yay for safety! And books!

At the SDA Conference (vacation in San Antonio!!)
Today marks one week since I arrived in San Antonio, TX for the International Surface Design Association Conference. It's great here. Seriously. San Antonio is beautiful. There are so many amazing things blooming and the river walk is one of the nicest parks I've ever seen. I've also had way too much good food and good beer. I could probably live here. Except I would be sweaty all the time. It is definitely hot and humid.

If anyone knows what this plant is, please tell me. It's gorgeous and it's everywhere here.
Anyway. I came here to teach a 4 day per-conference workshop on Percentage Dyeing - the method I use that involves weighing your fabric and then using that weight to figure out the dye quantities. My students this week went through an exercise to choose a color palette, mixed a 36 hue, 2 value color wheel as a sample (that's 72 different dye samples), learned how to match the colors in their chosen palette, used the recipes they found through color matching to dye gradations, and learned how to ombre dye. It was a pretty intense 4 days with a lot of math, but my students were so great! I truly enjoyed every minute of the workshop and I'm excited to teach it again someday soon.

This was just outside of our classroom at the Southwest School of Art. Check out all that dappled sun. The school is along the river walk and is so nice. Our classroom was in an old wine cellar. Tons of charm.
My awesome students hard at work.
Some of their color matching tests and a gradation at the lower right.
There was a gallery tour yesterday and I will be posting some photos from that later. Stay tuned! And check me out on instagram -
Empty Bobbin
 I am very excited to announce that I am one of Empty Bobbin's new designers! Shea Henderson, the mastermind behind Empty Bobbin Sewing Studio, is expanding her line of sewing patterns to include designs by other quilt makers and sewists. You can read about the other new designers at Shea's blog:
This is one of my favorite of Shea's patterns: Seeing Squares. I have this pattern, but have never attempted to make the quilt. The cover is just so great. Don't you love the color combination?

I can't give away too many details about my own quilt pattern other than to say how excited I am to be included in this talented group of women and that my pattern will be coming out sometime in the future.

Until then, here is a picture of a quilt I am finishing up right now for a show I'm having in San Antonio. Anyone going to the Surface Design Association conference this June? My show is part of the conference exhibition tour and is called "Sense of Place". It will be up at the Parchman Stremmel Gallery from June 5 - July 6.

And! It's the best season of the year! Kitten season! There is a Cats of Nimh situation at my neighbor's house and every spring there are adorable kittens to swoon over. This one's eyes just opened and she looks like a tiny version of my Owen. 

Good news when I need it most
The past two weeks have been the worst of my life. My dad passed away quite suddenly and unexpectedly on March 20. We were close. I learned so much from him - how to cook, how to sew, the importance of being patient and kind, that good craft really matters, and so much more. The first quilt I ever made was with my dad when I was about 10. There are also quite a few things he tried to teach me, but didn't stick - like how to golf, how to be organized and tidy, and how to drive a stick shift. Every day has been hard since then, but today there was a tiny ray of sunshine. It feels a bit selfish, but for a moment I forgot about my sadness and loss and remembered how it feels when something goes right.
About a year ago I was contacted by Pottery Barn Teen to design a quilt for them. They loved my landscape quilts and thought they would fit in well with their line of bedding based on a "surfer aesthetic". I actually designed two, a girl version and a boy version, but they only ended up using one of them and it is finally available!
Isn't this so exciting?! I think I'm going to buy one. I have always wanted one of my own quilts for my own bed, but just don't have the time to make one for myself. So even though it feels weird to pay someone else for my own quilt, I'm going to do it. And besides, those shams are badass. I know my dad would be so proud of me. I love you dad! Thanks for being such an amazing person and letting me take your sewing machine to college so many years ago!
This Thursday I'm leaving for Austin, TX to attend QuiltCon, the first conference of the Modern Quilt Guild. I am very excited. Though I don't particularly consider my quilts to be "modern", I still love looking at modern quilts and some of the techniques are integral to my quilt making process. I have been making things wonky and doing improvisational patchwork since before I even knew there was a Modern Quilt Guild.

This conference is going to be fun. I'm not going for any serious reason (this isn't the Textile Society of America, people). I'm going to meet people, and go to the 80's dance party, and buy fun supplies, and take a fun day-long workshop called "Get Your Curve On", taught by Sherri Lynn Wood (of dainty time). This is the kind of thing we are going to be doing:
Sherri Lynn Wood

It has been ages since I've been a participant in a workshop. For the past 6 years, I've been the one teaching the workshop. It's going to be so fun and relaxing to be on the learning side.

So if anyone else is going to QuiltCon and taking a workshop, I have some more hand dyed fabric scraps listed in my etsy shop. If you buy them and use coupon code "QuiltCon", I will waive the shipping and bring them to you in person. I will be arriving in Austin Thursday evening and can deliver them any time after that. Yay for quilts!
Kim Eichler-MessmerComment
Summer Workshops
I am very excited to be teaching two new workshops this summer. I have had a few questions about both of them, so I thought it would be helpful to give a little more information here about what they are.
1: Exploring Color With Dye, June 2-5, part of the Surface Design Conference, San Antonio, TX
The focus of this workshop is on using Procion MX dyes on cotton. I will be teaching the percentage dye method, which is the method I use that requires using the weight of fabric to determine how much dye to use. It is a precise method that involves some math and is how I match colors and create smooth gradations of color. It sounds difficult, but after a little practice pretty much anyone can get it. Workshop participants will create an extensive book of their own dye recipes complete with swatches. The percentage dye system is a really important method for dyers to know. Learning it and becoming comfortable with the overall system would benefit anyone that is interested in dyeing fabric and the methods can be applied to any type of dye.

2. Introduction to Quilting with a Modern Aesthetic, July 21-27, Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts, Gatlinburg, TN
This workshop is open to experienced quilters who would like to try a more Modern approach (check out the Modern Quilt Guild if you don't know what this means) and people who have never made a quilt before and want to learn how to make a modern quilt. The primary focus of the workshop will be on experimenting with different piecing techniques including "wonky" patterns based on traditional quilt blocks, improvisational piecing techniques, and some paper piecing. We will also be discussing the use of color, asymmetry, and negative space in quilts. New quilters will be completing a small quilt during the workshop and advanced quilters can choose if they want to complete a small quilt or make lots of components to take home to complete. Everyone will end up with a lot of examples to take home.

Both workshops are going to be a lot of fun!
Kim Eichler-MessmerComment
Holiday Sale Dec. 7

 Erika Lynne Hanson (of Vefa Handmade) and I are having a Holiday Sale! This Friday, December 7!
6pm - 9pm at 215 W 19th Ter. KC, MO 64108.


There will be scarves, blankets, coverlets, quilts, iPad cases, zipper clutches, and t-shirts. All lovingly hand made and designed to keep you warm and stylish!

Come on by, we would love to see you! And bring a picture of a cat with you to receive 15% off one item!

Kim Eichler-MessmerComment
Holiday Hop! Friday, November 2nd, 10am - 1pm
I am so excited to be participating in the Holiday Hop this year! The lovely Betsy and Emily of Bon Bon Atelier in Westport (KC, MO) asked me to be one of their featured designers and I couldn't say no. They are too lovely to say no to. And it sounded like fun.

So! This Friday, 11/2/12, from 10am to 1pm I will be having a trunk show and demonstrating some dye techniques at their store. Here is a sneak peek at some of the things I have been making just for the trunk show:

 T-shirts! I dip dyed and screen printed some 100% cotton American Apparel t-shirts. I think they're cool. I already confiscated one for my own closet. They are each one of a kind and there are only 11 of them!

Lots of zippy treasure bins using my own very special hand dyed fabrics. The big one fits an iPad. The little one is just right for a wallet, keys, phone, snack, etc.

There will also be quilts, of course. And more than likely a large assortment of hand dyed fabric scraps for sale.

In addition to all that, you can come hang out with me and watch me dye some stuff. I will be dip dyeing, some shibori, probably a gradation or two, and some low water immersion. It's going to be amazing. And Bon Bon Atelier is the best place to buy fabric, yarn, and gifts for everyone on your holiday list (or for yourself).
Kim Eichler-MessmerComment
Custom Quilts
I have been making a few custom quilts lately and they have turned out really well. I'm always a little nervous to accept a custom order. It's a big investment for the customer and a big time investment for me. I'm always a little worried that our communication will be off and I will make something that is off the mark. So far, all of the experiences have been great. They have all pushed me to make quilts that I probably wouldn't have on my own.

I love seeing the quilts on people's beds and I thought this one would be a great example to show. I have the sketch, the finished quilt, and the quilt on the customer's bed. This quilt was custom sized to fit a platform, California King Size bed.

The Sketch, done in Adobe Illustrator.

The quilt.
The quilt on the bed. P.S. Don't you want a pool outside your bedroom?
This is a queen size quilt I just finished a couple of weeks ago. I love how the top came out, with those streaks of blue.

I don't have a good picture of this quilt yet, but here is a detail that shows the color and a glimpse of the composition. It was a queen size quilt loosely inspired by the Golden Gate Bridge.
I have another queen size custom quilt in the works right now, based on a design I've made before in a smaller size. Maybe someday I can make a quilt for my bed. I would have to convince my cats not to shed on it or scratch it and my husband not to spill anything on it.
It might be better if I just keep making them for other people. 

Fabric Dyeing Workshop 8/11/2012
Only 2 spots left!!!

Once again, I will be teaching a fabric dyeing workshop at my studio in Kansas City. This is actually the second round of fabric dyeing workshops I'm teaching this summer. The first was a couple weeks ago and it was super fun. So! Yes! For the details.
my studio has been re-arranged. it looks way better than this now.
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). You will get a special dye kit with 4 dye colors and the necessary auxiliaries to make them work properly. You will also get two yards of my most favorite white cotton fabric to dye. Plus instructions and demonstrations, of course.
a lovely assortment of hand dyed fabric scraps
The workshop is next Saturday, August 11, 2012. It meets from 10am to 2pm at my studio at 750 Armstrong Ave, Kansas City, KS. The cost of the workshop is $75 plus a $20 supply fee. Members of the Kansas City Modern Quilt Guild get a discounted rate of $40 (plus the $20 supply fee) because the lovely guild is sponsoring the workshop. If you want to come to the workshop, you can register ahead of time by buying the workshop through my etsy listing or contacting me if you are a KCMQG member.
Summer Break
I have been on summer break for a little over a month now. It is the best. Everyone should get a summer break. I kind of wish that my whole life was summer break. Seriously. So far I have been to two amazing places:

Arrowmont, in Gatlinburg TN, is where I was an Artist in Residence in 2007/08. I spent a week there in May for a reunion for past Artists in Residence. There were about 60 of us in attendance and I was able to work in the beautiful and huge fiber studio all week, meet some amazing new people, and reconnect with two of my best friends who were residents the same time I was (Alex and Sarah, above).

I also spent a week in Utah with my mom.  We stayed in Moab and visited Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park. We did a lot of hiking and took a raft trip down the Colorado River. The landscape there is really unusual but beautiful. We ate a lot of really good food and watched a lot of Iron Chef at night. And I brought her over to the dark side by making her watch The Bachelorette with me.

On my way to Utah I flew in a tiny plane over the Rocky Mountains. I was sneaky and used my phone to take pictures even though they repeatedly said to turn off all electronics. We didn't crash, so I guess the rules don't apply to me. 

In between those two trips I got to help Denyse Schmidt with her booth at Quilt Market. She is my quilt idol and I have repeatedly said to many people that I want to be Denyse Schmidt when I grow up. So you can probably imagine how amazing it was to spend two whole days with her. The best part was just talking to her and realizing she is a real person and getting to hear her thoughts on quilts, designing, and making a living in this business.

 Quilt Market in general was great, but overwhelming. Everyone I met was super nice. There was a lot of stuff that honestly doesn't' interest me at all, but also some things that were really exciting and refreshing. Like Carolyn Friedlander's booth in the picture above. I love that quilt. Love. That. Quilt. I wish I had made it. I bought the pattern and it will get added to the list of things to make someday when I'm not busy. Carolyn was lovely and smart and her work is so refreshing.

octodecagon madness
 About a year ago I started making little color wheel quilts as color mixing references for myself. I made two little ones using different sets of primaries. The one one the left was muted primaries, the one on the right was bright primaries. I liked the muted one better so started piecing it first. It doesn't lie flat. For the second one, I decided to try bias binding because I had never done it before. It still needs to be finished. They turned out to not be that helpful, but I learned a lot making them.

 Then I decided that what I really needed was a giant color wheel quilt. So I drew the plans for an 80" diameter do-decagon (12 sided) color wheel with eight steps from light to dark in each color. I also figured out the dye recipes and then it sat in my graph paper pad for months. In January I got an intern and it was the perfect time to dust of the do-decagon plans. While I was too busy to work on it, Aaron had plenty of internship hours to fill and already knew how to dye using my method because he was in my surface design class at KCAI last semester. Yay for interns! So, he started dyeing the fabric and somewhere along the way we decided twelve sections wasn't really enough. It should really have 18 sections. That's 144 colors. If Aaron hadn't been around, this quilt would probably still exist only in my head and my graph paper pad. I am super excited that it exists in real life, and so is my cat, Owen.

The quilt after quilting, before trimming and binding. Owen is helping.
The finished quilt with invisible binding. Isn't it like magic?
It really is like magic. Or science. Or something. This quilt was made using my three favorite custom primary colors (red, yellow, and blue). So the gradation happens not only from dark to light but from color to color. There is one big mistake in this quilt (and a couple of little mistakes) and that is the red dye was not consistent. Aaron and I lost track of which red we were using to mix our custom red and some of the oranges and purples came out not right. But I kind of don't care. The next one will be closer to perfect and will have 24 sections. It will be more like magic than this one.
New Website!!
My new website is officially up! A very talented graphic design student at the Kansas City Art Institute, Taylor Pruitt, designed it for me. She did an amazing job! She also designed me a new etsy banner, new look to this blog, and some other great stuff like business cards, letterhead, etc.
Below is a screen shot of the website, or you can visit it yourself at

And here is a sneak peek of one of the things I have been working on the past few months (it's a hand-dyed octo-decahedron color wheel quilt) :

It will be finished soon and then off to Plug Projects in the West Bottoms for a color show that opens on May 18.
Watkins Woolen Mill!!
I am on spring break and in true spring break fashion I am having a week of heavy drinking, hooking up, getting sunburned, and generally making bad decisions. 
Not really. 
I've never had that kind of spring break. Instead, my parents came to visit and we took a day trip to Watkins Woolen Mill, made homemade ice cream, did some yard work, and went to a winery. That stuff is more my speed.
Anyways, who knew that Watkins Woolen Mill was so cool? Anyone? It is truly a great place to visit and only about 40 minutes north of Kansas City. Watkins Mill is a state park that encompasses a woolen mill (surprise) and Bethany Farm - Waltus Watkins' house, orchard, garden, etc. You can tour the house, grounds, and mill for a very small fee. In my party of four, only I am a fiber nerd. But my parents are good natured and easily entertained and my husband likes anything that is either outside or has to do with history or both. We were all thoroughly impressed and here are pictures to prove how cool Watkins Mill is. Go there. For realz.
This is a sweet red and green log cabin quilt. I think it is wool.

 More red and green in the carpet. Have you ever seen carpet like that? I haven't. Well, now I have.

 They had the same china that my in-laws have. How weird is that? And the tour guide mentioned something about grandma haunting the house. I couldn't tell if she was joking.

 Have you ever seen a turkey up close? They aren't pretty. This one was quite talkative.

 These are giant carding machines for combing the wool fibers into roving. The people who ran the carders were paid the most of anyone in the mill because their job required the most skill and was the most dangerous. You can lose a finger in there.

This is the rear-view of a warping wheel. All of those cones of yarn feed through hooks and then onto a giant wheel that measures the warp before it goes to the loom. 

All of the wool was grown at Watkins Mill, washed, sorted, dyed, spun, plied, skeined, woven, and sold. There was also a great market area that I didn't take pictures of. Sad face.
West Elm!!!
Oh my goodness. I have been keeping this to myself (well, mostly to myself) for months and now it is for real so I can share it. Usually I don't talk about things until they are for real in case something happens to make them not for real anymore. You know? So here it is.

My quilts are in the West Elm catalog, y'all! The first Spring 2012 catalog came out today and two of my quilts are featured on page 106/107. I could probably be happier, but I'm not sure how. They look so good. Don't you think?

This news totally hijacked a post I was planning about my trip to Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. I guess that will have to wait. Now it's time to dance around the kitchen with an unwilling cat in my arms.
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
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...
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.
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!
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!