Monthly Archives: December 2012

Last Finish of 2012

Just under the wire, completed on December 30, comes my new part silk table runner.  Once I got the thick seams pounded down with my meat tenderizer, it all went together quickly.  Of course it helped that the quilting is minimal – just enough to hold the backing to the front.  I had planned to use flannel for the batting but ended up using fusible fleece to give body to the runner.  I do enjoy breaking the quilting rules.


Here’s the detail of the in between strips, which are made up of slivers inserted into a long strip of fabric.  Because the slivers are narrow, I didn’t sew along their individual loose edges.


Here’s two-thirds of the runner (the WordPress software seems to have cut off a bit) on the table. I find it a welcome change from the holiday themed quilt we’ve been using for the past month.  It’s amazing how dated holiday items look on the day after Christmas.  At World Market today I was cringing at all the Christmas tat, now 50% off, that probably seemed really desirable on December 24.  I especially recoiled from the set of Star Trek themed Pez dispensers.

The only post-holiday sale I’ve succumbed to is one on fabric (of course.)  My excuse is the ombre fabric I bought should work well with the sliver technique circles I have in mind.

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Filed under Completed Projects

A Gift To Myself

I’ve reached the age where there are few surprises under the tree.  That’s an observation, not a complaint.  One of my gifts this year was an Amazon gift card, which I promptly used to purchase quilting books.  Guilt free book buying is a great gift.  I like actual paper books about quilting rather than ebooks because the pictures are better.  Also, most quilting books are oversize and ebook devices simply can’t show a whole page at a time large enough so I can read it.

Jean Wells’ latest book, Journey to Inspired Art Quilting, was one of my gifts.  I’ve been dipping into it at random and assimilating lessons from it.

journey to inspired design quilt book by jean wells

This books covers many of the topics found in other art quilt books – color, value, design, etc. – but I like the very practical tips and techniques interspersed with the big picture stuff.  It’s helpful to find hints about practicalities such as how to sew disparate bits together.  (Use coping strips.)  It’s not doctrinaire, but full of gentle suggestions and some exercises to get you started.  It also has ideas for ways to finish and hang your quilts.  I think it’s too easy to fall into the “slap a binding on and you’re done” mindset.

Along the way Jean talks about the decisions she made when creating quilts illustrated in the book, and how sometimes her initial plan changed because it simply didn’t work or she found a better way.  She makes it clear it was a better way for her.  She doesn’t expect you to create clones of her work, but to find your own way using some guideposts she has found to be helpful.  As Jean says, “We learn by imitation in the beginning, but in that process, imitation becomes interpretation”

I want to try at least one of the assignments – creating a small paper mockup of a landscape photo using colored paper/magazine images.  No worries about “wasting” fabric, but a great way to work out colors and their proportion for a project.  Too often I stack up fabrics I want to use, but forget that I’ll be using them proportionally.  That bright color really won’t be overwhelming if I use just a smidge of it.  And the line work assignment gets around any fears about drawing ability by having you trace lines from a photo and then reduce the image to an abstraction.

So, thanks to the gift card giver.  This book is the next best thing to flying out to Oregon for an in-person class with Jean.

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Filed under Books, Inspiration

Finally, One’s Finished

I’m really good at starting projects, but have been getting lax about finishing them. I have so broken my “no more than 3 unquilted tops allowed” rule. So, I’m pleased that I actually finished up a project, binding and all, this week.


This one started with an assortment of leftover half square triangles of various sizes that I sewed into blocks.  I had fun playing with the arrangement and trying to stay with mostly solid fabrics.  Then, I pulled out a photo of a wire screen from a vintage Knoll Furniture Company ad and devised a quilting scheme from it. Those clippings do come in handy.

And I got to use up some of the Washi fabric I have tons of on the back.  About that Washi – I ordered a yard each in 2 colorways, but somehow I received 2 yards of each.  The mysteries of online fabric buying.  I didn’t realize what happened until I put the stuff in the washer.  Yes, I’m of the pre-washing school.  Too late to return it at that stage.


Filed under Completed Projects

No Slicing and Dicing

In a rare burst of financial frivolity I actually purchased a quilting book without having examined it first.  Usually I borrow a book from a library or friend so I can see if I want to buy it for my collection.  However, I couldn’t find any library that owned a book I was curious about, so I took the plunge.

Oh, the book is called “Sliver Quilts” by Lisa O’Neill, and I was intrigued by a particular pattern in it called Helios.  It’s a circular pattern that looks paper pieced, but it isn’t.  Instead, the author cut an arc of fabric, folded it at regular intervals, inserted slivers of other fabric in the folds, and then sewed along the fold to encase part of the sliver. If you sew four of these together you get a circle.  Here’s a picture of the pattern that caught my eye.

However, that’s not the pattern I started with.  Instead a table runner made with silk caught my eye.  Why?  Well, I’ve been collecting silk fabric for years with the idea I’ll make my magnum opus with it.  However, such a project keeps getting bumped down my to do list, and I really want to use that silk for something other than a drape for my coffin.

So, I hurriedly read the book’s basic instructions and then pulled out my silks.  Of course, I deviated from the instructions right away.  Lisa rightly comments on how silk frays and then says her pattern calls for oversized blocks so you can cut off the frayed edges after all the slivers are inserted.  However, since I had already backed part of my silk fabric with fusible interfacing, I went ahead and did the rest.  The advantage is it really cuts down (haha) on fraying; the disadvantage is it increases bulk as you fold and sew.  Pick your poison.  Here are just a few of my slivers, all ready for insertion.


The bulk was manageable except for the mystery synthetic teal fabric I used. I had interfaced that because it kept slithering, but the new interfacing I tried really wasn’t suitable.  Of course, that didn’t stop me from using it anyway.  So, now that I’ve sewn all my blocks my next step will be to take a hammer to the bulky areas and beat them into a semblance of flatness.  Here are some of my blocks after inserting the first two slivers.


And here are some of the finished blocks, plus the book itself.


I’ve been auditioning fabric for the posts between the blocks and was intrigued when my husband opined that he thought one possible choice clashed with the blocks in a good way.  That’s quite a sophisticated critique from a man who likes florals.

Some other possibilities running around my head include the use of sari silk yarn to sew horizontally and vertically on the posts.

But, back to the book.  Lisa has some other interesting patterns that create spokes (more circles), and suggests ways to experiment with the basic technique.  Her book is clearly written and well illustrated, and includes sufficient details to get you through each pattern to completion.  The major downside to the sliver technique is that I don’t think it will be easy to quilt the slivered areas due to fabric bulk.  Of course, if your quilt also includes lots of borders, posts, and flat areas you’ll have lots of scope for quilting designs.


Filed under Books, In Process

Fiber At An Exhibition

A local church occasionally has fiber/fabric related exhibits that feature local artists/artisans.  So of course a friend and I had to check out the latest one after lunching out.  It turned out we know two of the exhibitors.

The items on display ranged from quilts (traditional and art) to fabric painting to ecclesiastical banners.  And in between were embroidered items and felted knit purses.  Here are some of the pieces that caught my eye (and camera.)

The first two are by Connie Bloom, a local art quilter.


The next two are by Janet Bryant.


The work below by Joyce Feucht is called stump work, a most unappealing term for incredibly detailed, labor intensive handwork. Each of these pieces is about 6 inches high.


If you’re in the area, the exhibit will be on display until January 3, 2013, at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Akron, Ohio.

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What Draws You To A Quilt?

I suppose any rationale for why you like a quilt is ex post facto, like love itself.  You have a positive emotional response and then you try to parse the reasons for it later.

The quilt below made from a Mary Mashuta pattern rang all my bells when I first saw this picture.  One, I love curves in quilts; two I love stripes (though I wish the quilter would have made sure the striped fabric on the inner right formed a mitered corner;) three, I love the hand quilting that curves around the central motif; four, I adore the plump curvy binding.  And I haven’t even mentioned the Kaffe Fassett fabric.

The quilt below is so unlike anything I’ve ever made or am likely to make, but I love the way it contains our entire world in what looks like a snow globe. It’s a message quilt, but has wonderful balance and I’m a sucker for trees. Look at the village in the distance and the way the branches seem to embrace the sun. And the color scheme – mostly taupes – is so not on my radar, but I love it here.

ohash_save_our_earth“Save our Earth”
Kazuyo Ohash

Jean Wells (of the Stitchin’ Post) makes quilts closer to what I hope my work will become.  She started out in traditional quilting and her work has become more abstract with time.  Her recent work is based on close observation of the natural world.  It transforms rather than reproduces photographs she’s taken.  “Cross Cut II” below is Jean’s interpretation of a tree cross section.  I love the periwinkles and greens she used and the radiating spokes.  I just bought her latest book, Journey to Inspired Art Quilting, and am savoring it like a box of really good dark chocolate.

tree quilts by jean wells


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Quilty Places of My Dreams

I came across this fabric/sewing store in London (as in England) and waves of fabric lust hit me.  They carry a pattern for a London Underground map quilt!  And they have a mysterious department called haberdashery.  I think that’s sewing notions, which is almost as bizarre a term as haberdashery.

Tikki Quilt Shop, 293 Sandycombe Road, Kew Gardens, Surrey TW9 3LU (Greater London - easy to get to, only 30 min from Victoria Station)

And if I ever make a long planned trip to NYC,  the City Quilter and the Art Quilt Gallery NYC are on my must-see list.

<Photo of The City Quilter from the street>

And if I’m ever in Salem, Oregon, I’ll be sure to visit Greenbaum’s Quilted Forest located in an old downtown department store.  You gotta love a shop that has restaurant recommendations on its website.

Welcome to the Quilted Forest Store

Then, if you’re looking for ideas on what to do with all that fabric you purchased in these fabulous shops, how about an art quilt retreat?  I’m afraid my reaction to retreats like the Empty Spools Seminars at Asilomar, California, comes close to pornographic.  Imagine classes from teachers like Sue Benner, Caryl Bryer Fallert, Gloria Loughman.  And that’s just in session 1.  Did I mention that views of the Pacific Ocean are included?

If you prefer the Rocky Mountains there’s Alegre Retreat near Grand Junction, Colorado. The 2013 lineup of teachers – Nancy Crow, Katie Pasquini-Masopust, Jan Myers-Newbury, Joan Schulze, and Laura Wasilowski.  I so want to take shibori for quiltmaking.

If you want to stay east of the Mississippi, there’s the Hudson Valley Fiber Art and Art Quilt Retreat, and Wisconsin’s Madeline Island School of the Arts.  And Ohio offers Nancy Crow’s Timber Frame Barn workshops, and the Quilt Surface Design Symposium in Columbus.

I have attended a 5 day workshop at Nancy Crow’s Barn and enjoyed it immensely, though I sure didn’t feel I belonged there.  It gave me the push to untether myself from patterns and rulers.  I still haven’t quilted the piece I began there, but the top itself is done.

I’m sure there are many other quilty dream places waiting for me to discover them.  The internet is wonderful, but sometimes you have to get your hands on the goods themselves, or have the teacher pick up a bit of fabric and say, try that there.


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Filed under Inspiration

FAVA Fave Rediscovered

Last summer I took in the biennial FAVA art quilt show in Oberlin, Ohio.  I was particularly taken with the two pieces below, but never followed up to learn more about their talented maker – Liz Kuny.  I hope to redress that now.

This piece, called “A Steady Beat,” appeals to me because of its rhythms and textures.  It reminds me of medical monitors.

You really want to reach out and help yourself to a gumball in this piece, “Flight of Fancy.”  The applique work is expert; you don’t realize it’s applique until you decide to figure out how it was made.

Here’s her statement about her work:

“The strongest influence on my work has been my love of all art that combines a graphic use of color with a designer’s attention to line and edge. Using fabric as a medium was a natural choice for me because it lends itself beautifully to achieving these effects. At the same time, the process of constructing an art quilt appeals greatly to the puzzle-solver in me.”

Quilting as puzzle solving, hmmmm.

Finally, here’s a lovely subtle piece she’s created, called “Airborne.”

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Filed under Art quilts

One of These Days

That’s right, one of these days I’m going to make at least one of the following projects I’ve found online.  And I haven’t included any of the quilts on my Pinterest boards.  My plan is to use these fairly simple projects for quick gifts and/or to kick start my work when I stall out/need to let a complex project sit a spell/want to noodle around with my scraps.

For using up strips of fabric the Crossed Quilt block from looks handy.  I’ve been saving 1.5, 2 and 2.5″ strips for some time so this project seems good to go.

Scrappy tiling from Lily’s Quilts looks scrap friendly and could be used for any original design that doesn’t have tiny pieces. Gloria Loughman uses a more labor intensive variation of this technique in her Quilted Symphony book.

VIBees block for Tracy Jay

Strip and flip baby quilt from Cluck Cluck Sew takes a simple idea and makes it look like genius.  I wonder what would happen if you added a few more flips?

Rainbow Strip and Flip Quilt Tutorial

The Urban Shades Quilt from Moda Bake Shop has possibilities.  Again, a simple idea that looks like a great go-to pattern when you need a quilt in a hurry.  You could decrease the size of the blocks if you wanted something smaller.  The pattern makes up a 70″ square quilt.

Finally, this has been a painless way to make some 2013 quilting resolutions.  My usual resolution – to actually practice free motion quilting – is getting a bit shopworn.


Filed under Project Ideas