Monthly Archives: September 2013

Roadside Attractions

Serendipity plays such a role when you travel.  You’re moseying along when something catches your eye, and camera. Here’s a few sights I felt compelled to record.

Seattle_building_detailtile_Pike_Stweeds_OregonAnd, of course, the ultimate roadside attraction.  This shop was on the first floor of the Old Wheeler Hotel where we stayed.  I had no idea it was there beforehand, and it was very nicely stocked.  Note:  Wheeler’s official population tally was 414 in 2010.



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What’s Your Sign?

I just got back from a wonderful vacation in Oregon and Seattle.  Besides lots of photos of beaches, skylines, and quilts, I found some messages I just had to photograph.  Unfortunately, I didn’t capture the front of “The Dollar-ish Store,” nor the panhandler/homeless guy in Portland with a sign that read “too ugly to prostitute.”

Oregon_plateI didn’t see any mice around this carriage, however.

frog_sign_oregonThis yard did have a stone frog perched on a fence post, so I guess they meant business.


On this trip I discovered veggie porn – such gorgeous produce.chocolate_Hood_River

I think this one on a residential street in Hood River, Oregon, says it all.

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Design Wall Doodling, Doubled

I just have to face it, I’m a new project junkie.  I love the thrill the glimmer of a quilt idea brings, the pops of what-if ideas, and then the excited hunt through my fabric stash for possibilities.  Sometimes I even do sketches.

Right now I’m in the throes of two color heavy designs.  By that I mean they’re all about the color; the designs themselves are pretty simple.

“Moon Rise” has been nudging my mind since the night I saw a full moon slide in and out of clouds.  At first I planned to incorporate bare tree branches and all sorts of tricky shading and overlays.  After I slapped a yard of black gradient fabric up on the wall and pinned strips of mottled black hand dyes (thank you, Vicki Welsh) on top I decided that simple might be a better way to go.  Then I saw this pattern by RaNae Merrill called Beyond Horizons and decided to try something similar.

Beyond Horizons 300 pix H brightness plus 100Here’s what I have so far.

Moon_Rise_rough“Subtle Points” grew out of a personal challenge to use colors that are on my “do not call” list. Some hand dyes on old linens and silk and a half yard of McKenna Ryan fabric set the color scheme. More grays from Vicki Welsh (it seems I bought a lot of gray) along with a Kaffe Fassett shot cotton that was advertised as chartreuse (it isn’t) will provide contrast of some sort at the edges.

triangles_color_paletteI dropped the blue fabric on the lower right, fused my silk to knit interfacing and started cutting triangles. The idea came from a pattern called Pyramid Scheme in the December/January 2013 Quilt Magazine, but I changed the triangle size and color scheme.  Also, the magazine’s quilt has a more regular light/dark block setting than I plan.

triangles_cutNext I started sewing on the outer edge strips that will finish at one inch.  The triangles themselves should finish at 5 inches.  Right now everything’s up on the wall in the rough order in which the triangles were pieced.


I look forward to lots of fun playing with this arrangement.


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Are We There Yet?

tipsy_lampshades_quiltinginprogress2While I love the look of closely spaced quilting lines I’m not wild about the process of creating that look.  This past week I’ve been plowing away at Tipsy Lampshades, which features a shallow Z-shaped set of lines spaced a half inch apart.  Yes, I know folks who do quarter inch or even less spacing, but I like to stay in the realm of the possible. Otherwise, I’d never finish a quilt.

tipsy_lampshades_quiltingOne trick I discovered was to measure out one inch from my last quilting line, place one inch wide masking tape next to the ruler to mark my next stitching lines, sew on each side of the tape, then remove the tape and sew down the middle of the inch wide lane to create stitching lines roughly half inch wide.  My goal was to move the tape less. I tried following the previous stitching line with the edge of my walking foot but gave up on that after going off course.  That led to ripping out 20 rows.

Jacquie Gering has a tutorial on this kind of quilting if you’d like more guidance.

At any rate, Lampshades is now quilted and awaiting binding.  I think I’ll put a wider binding on the top and bottom using the butt edge binding technique.  I used Osnaburg fabric as one of the light solids.  While I love its texture, I found it to be stretchy and linty.  I did starch it, per Jacquie’s suggestion, but all the manipulation of hauling and shoving that 65 inch long quilt under my needle made it go limp.

However, this quilt will remain draped over my bannister until I bind the quilt I’ve entered in an upcoming local show.  And then there’s the two projects up on my design walls…


Filed under In Process, Techniques

Gadgets Gone Wild

It had been a while since I ordered any notions online, so a free shipping order enticed me to buy a little light for my sewing machine, pronged fork pins, and the cheap version of a slick surface for free motion quilting.

The package arrived and, as always, the stuff looked better in the pictures.  The light is installed and works fine, but it’s made of flimsy plastic so I’m not expecting it to be long lasting.  The pins are supposed to help me match seams but right now I have no seams to match so I can’t tell you how they work. I did test them through fabric and they seem sharp.

sslp-w315The slick surface looks and feels like white Contact material, which would have been a heck of a lot cheaper.  And this knockoff version of a supreme slider cost $10 less than that item’s small size. I’ll let you know how it performs. It may well rock my world, but right now it’s creased and looks like packaging material rather than the item itself.

My pique at how easily I can be duped into buying overpriced (IMHO) gadgetry led me to peruse a quilt shop catalog I received recently with a jaundiced eye.  Do I really need a “quilt binding express” to fold and press binding strips for $26?  How about a Jaaba, an aid to keep applique and binding flat while I hand sew?  That costs $13, but it comes with an instructional DVD.

Oh, here’s swatch buddies, little plastic cards on a key ring that I’m to attach fabric swatches to and label them. For $13 I can get 24 of them. My mother used an empty envelope. And, my personal favorite, a 72 inch square felted design wall for $40. I use a cheap flannel backed plastic tablecloth that cost $5.

Wait, I just found a ruler buddy set for $13.  For that I get three 1 inch wide finger guards (one 9.75 inches long and two 6 inches long) to stick on my acrylic rulers.  Sorry, design wall, I have a new favorite.  Really, if you’re worried about cutting your fingers I suggest a suction cup ruler gripper or a protective glove.

Yes, I know selling gizmos is the heart of private enterprise and production runs are small, so per unit costs are higher.  I also know P T. Barnum had it right.  Witness what I just bought.



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Turkey Lurky

My husband and I returned from a walk to find our new neighbor at our front door.  She was about two feet tall, had a long neck, scaly legs with three big toes, and brown and white feathers.  In other words, a turkey.

wild_turkeysAbout three days ago we noticed a flock of four wild turkeys around our house. We thought they were just passing through but they seem to have taken up residence.  We have a wooded area in back of our house that connects to a utility right of way and a city bike/walking path.  I assume the birds wandered in along that corridor and found the place to their liking.

When the bird saw us approach she walked down our sidewalk in a dignified fashion and then loped down the driveway to the woods.  I guess she wasn’t ready to meet us yet.

The internet informed me that wild turkeys have made a successful comeback in Ohio, and that I can hunt them in the spring and fall.  I just can’t shoot at them if they’re in a tree.  What with the deer, the coyotes, and now the turkeys in our yard I’m considering renting my rear deck to hunters.

As far as turkeys and quilting, well, consider the following block patterns –  turkey in the straw, turkey’s dilemma, and turkey tracks. Then there’s the turkey giblets overall pattern, and turkey red fabric.  Oops, that last turkey refers to the country.


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My Fabric Spree

When some friends and I set off to shop at one of Ohio’s more rural fabric shops I thought that at last I’d be able to do a post about my purchases.  Many other blogs feature the latest purchases (or maybe they’re gifts) of new fabric lines with cool prints.  Then I laid out my purchases and took a good look at them.

fabric_purchasesTalk about dull! Except for the pink, of course.  I had gone to the store with several swatches of fabric I already own that I just couldn’t get my other fabric to play with nicely.  Blues in particular are very choosy about what other blues they’ll get along with.  Too much purple or green in the mix and it’s all over.

It turns out that three of the four blues I bought will go with fabric already in my stash.  The fourth blue from the left is just – off – for some fabric I love but can’t get to go with anything. I’m not a matchy-matchy person but I wince at just misses.

The gray/putty/taupe fabrics will blend well with more assertive fabric I own, and the chartreuse/green fabrics will work with some beloved Jane Sassaman fabric.  Unfortunately, I can’t remember why I bought that pink.


On the off chance you find yourself near Shiloh, Ohio, and want to fabric shop, stop in at Country Fabrics, if you can find it in all those corn fields. Its address has been known to bamboozle car GPSs.  The prices are great and the Amish ladies who work there are efficient and knowledgeable.  I’d be curious to find out what the Amish position is on man made fabrics as the ladies’ dresses seem to be made of polyester.

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How Ideas Become Quilts

One of my favorite exhibits at the April 2013 International Quilt Festival in Cincinnati was the SAQA Seasonal Palette.  I loved it partly because of the artists’ journals about their entries.  It turns out that SAQA has put a sampling of those journals as PDFs on its website.

In Cincinnati a table in the middle of the exhibit overflowed with journals of varying sizes and thicknesses.  Some were works of art by themselves with beautiful print and layouts; others leaked fabric samples and mockups of the work.  Still others meticulously logged the creative process in color photos.

Some work, like Kathleen LoomisBig Ice, grew out of a personal experience – in Loomis’ case a trip to Antarctica. Her journal shows lots of photos she took and the evolution of her design directly on her design wall from what she took away from seeing ice bergs to this.

sp-Loomis_lgDaren P. Redman chronicled the autumn colors that inspired the hand dyes she used in Autumn, Brown County, Indiana.  She also worked directly and intuitively on the design wall.  I was glad to see so many detailed photos of her quilting, an aspect that often is skimped on in documentation.

Elena Stokes subtitled her journal for Tranquil Marsh “Or, how I drove myself crazy in a few quick months.”  She followed the chronology of the whole process, from submitting her seasonal idea for the SAQA exhibit to completion of her entry. I love the insight she gives into designing to theme and size.  Stokes used rough sketches and worked at the ratio of sky to land.  Then she went to her design wall and began to work with strips of fabric.  After some false starts and angst her piece evolved to her satisfaction. Then she had to get those unattached strips of fabric off the design wall.  I love how she did that.  Read her journal to find out how.  Oh yeah, she used a Singer 201 and didn’t do free motion quilting.

Elena-Stokes-Tranquil-Marsh-Wild-Iris-250x600Other artists such as Katherine Allen spent a lot of time showing their processes and less on their design.  Allen documented a lot of silk screening of plant leaves but gave few clues about her design choices for Minnow & Leaf.

What I gleaned from these journals is that many quilt artists work from photos for their color palette as well as their design.  Also, while they may do rough sketches, much of their design work is done directly on the design wall.  As Janet Windsor put it, “I don’t make drawings or color mock-ups because I haven’t found any medium that really replicates the colors of the fabric well.” Also, they are ruthless about changing what they don’t think is working, even if a lot of work has already gone into the piece.

I hope you have the chance to glance at these behind the scenes documents about the creative process. I loved the diversity of approaches as each artist realized her distinctive take on an assigned season.

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A Farewell to Summer

I just finished a paper pieced small landscape for my guild’s small quilts auction.  As I wrote earlier, it’s a coastal scene that was a Carol Doak (the doyenne of paper piecing) pattern.

coast_paper_piecedNow I wish I had rearranged some of the elements for a better perspective, but it’s bound using Gloria Loughman’s wide binding technique and I’m not taking that out.  I even sewed on a hanging sleeve.

As usual, I found it boring to follow someone else’s pattern as my favorite part of quilting is designing the quilt.  I did enjoy fossicking around my ever growing scraps collection for fabric bits.

With this piece I hereby declare the summer to be done, and will fold away my white pants until next Memorial Day.

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