Monthly Archives: December 2013



2013 has been a very good year for:

  • taking out the trash, er, rebooting some old UFOs that had been languishing in drawers
  • dyeing fabric, especially my mother-in-law’s old tablecloths
  • winning show ribbons (Please excuse or ignore this self-aggrandizement. I’m now over entering quilt shows.)
  • using stash and buying less fabric (please note I wrote “less,” not no fabric)
  • actually free motion quilting quilts, as opposed to sample squares. My quilting hovers on the border of terrible and mediocre but I grit my teeth and plow on.  You can tell how much I enjoy this activity.  My husband suggested I hire a free motion quilting coach.
  • completing a planned out work (Mosaic) without deviating from the plan
  • completing a totally off-the-cuff work (Pong) that uses about all the art quilt techniques I know.  More on these works in another post.
  • appreciating how much a community a quilt guild is, and how we members support each other
  • taking in a wide variety of local, regional, and national quilt shows. The amount of quilting talent out there is staggering.
  • getting closer to finding my quilting style (or styles in my case) The process sure is a lot of fun.

I wish all of you a wonderful 2014. Thanks for reading and commenting.


Filed under Commentary

Vintage Quilt Revival

I want to talk about the just released Vintage Quilt Revival because I think it’s a great bridge between traditional and modern quilting. The three authors (Katie Clark Blakesley, Lee Heinrich, and Faith Jones) are all modern quilters and bloggers with an interest in what they call vintage quilt blocks. (I just call them quilt blocks but I’m much older than they are. I guess that makes me vintage, too.)

In this book they introduce 20 classic blocks done modern. In addition to the individual block presentations, the book shows sampler quilts each author made of the 20 blocks.

blocks_VintageQuiltRevivalThe authors present how to make each block, some design notes (suggestions for color/size changes, etc.), a bit of history about the block, and a complete quilt pattern for the block. Techniques, especially foundation piecing and partial seams, are reviewed. I was intrigued to see how much they use foundation piecing, though they’re right about how that technique increases accuracy.  There’s a CD of printable templates included with the book.

In no particular order, here are my favorites from the book.

GeometricSlide_VintageQuilt RevivalGeometric Slide imaginatively shifts the block placement to create movement and lots of negative space.  This is actually the double z block.

SpicedChai_VintageQuiltRevivalSpiced Chai reverses the direction of some of the tea leaf blocks to give the quilt an asymmetrical focal point.  The color change-up enhances that focus.

DancingSquares_VintageQuilt RevivalDancing Squares is actually rolling squares blocks made in three colorings and set on point to create a great secondary pattern. One of the block variations is cut in half to make the setting triangles. I took the picture at an angle so you could see the original block better.

RosyWindows_VintageQuiltRevivalRosy Windows shows how changing color placement transforms the look of a quilt.  This uses the diamond panes block and different color cornerstones to make an impact with solid colors. Several different red solids are used. It’s very contemporary yet very Amish.

I hope this book will encourage traditional quilters to experiment with that modern stuff, and not just curl their lips at what one acquaintance calls “Amish on white.”  I also hope it will encourage modern quilters to try some more challenging blocks and techniques.

Honestly, many quilt blocks are timeless.  It’s all in how they’re used.


Filed under Books, Modern Quilting

Any Naughty Folks On Your List?

I found the special one-of-a-kind item underlined below offered in our weekly paper.  Sorry I missed the sale.

guilt_mirrorAnd there was a wood Buda on offer, as well.


Filed under Everything Else, Snark

Home Dec Madness

Finally I figured out how to end a year with lots of finishes: make stuff for the house! My goal is to use up fabric that doesn’t lend itself to a quilt and UFOs that just aren’t worth turning into quilts. The results may not win ribbons, but they can be useful, certainly more useful than taking up drawer space.

A case in point are the place mats I just finished with two pieces of fabric that I bought in an attempt to work with different colors.  Although the fabric was bought at different times and at different stores, both pieces feature a flamingo/shrimp pink that I decided I really don’t like.  That color must have been popular the year I bought them. I also used up a piece of insulbrite batting to protect that wood table.

placematsThen there’s the piece of made fabric left over from an online class I took about 2007.  I couldn’t figure out how to add to it for a quilt and it seemed too small as it was.  So, since I was on a pillow streak and had finally mastered zipper insertion, I turned it into another pillow. A plus was I didn’t need to quilt it since the whole thing is backed with stabilizer. It’s on the right next to my leftover HST pillow.

pillowsThat brings the total number of pillows I’ve made this year to four. This is four times as many as I’ve made over the last four years. And I quilted another pillow cover that I haven’t yet found a pillow for. My husband is starting to worry that pillows will hog every seat in our house.


Filed under Completed Projects

Art Quilt Maps

I love maps.  I love the different ways geography is shown.  I even took a cartography class once. So why did it take this book by Valerie Goodwin to make me consider making a map as a quilt?

It’s hard to explain how to use Art Quilt Maps. If you’re looking for quilt patterns with yardages and step by step instructions, this book will disappoint. However, it’s great for inspiration and new ideas. It’s more an album of art quilt maps, though Goodwin presents the materials and design process she uses, and her sources of inspiration.  After that, though, you wing it.  I can’t help but like a book that suggests haikus as starting points for quilts.

art_map_examplesGoodwin is a professor of architecture so she’s used to representing the world as lines and symbols on a flat surface.  Architects are taught to construct scale models of their designs and draw blueprints (or the electronic version of them.) Their work is both functional and aesthetic.

Goodwin’s preferred construction materials are a bit unusual – cotton crinoline (available online), silk organza and Liquitex soft body acrylic paint.  She uses the stiff crinoline as her base and then layers mostly neutral or solid fabric scraps (cottons and silks), blending the joins between pieces with paint and organza.  Stamping, hand stitches, and machine stitches mark the objects – roads, water courses, buildings, etc. I enjoy the way she summarizes her techniques.

art_map_techniquesI found that Goodwin’s development process is much more complex and layered than I had thought on first looking at her quilts. The fourteen steps she shows to make Stonehenge add nuance but don’t call attention to themselves apart from the whole.

stonehenge_Goodwinstonehenge_construction1stonehenge_construction2I like that Goodwin suggests a creating a map of an imaginary place, though I’m thinking about a fabric map of an actual place, my favorite hiking trail. Or maybe a map of Middle Earth.


Filed under Books

Quilt Like It’s 2003

I realize that Ricky Tims’ convergence quilts are ancient history.  Ricky has gone on to become a star of his own show, occasionally tossing off quilts that win prizes at the Houston show.

However, when the book Convergence Quilts was published in 2003 I was unaware of it.  That year my energies were directed to a cross-country move with the resulting real estate and new school headaches.  Besides, in 2003 I was lucky to finish a quilt a year.

Ten years later I ran across a photo of a convergence quilt and thought, what a great way to use that yard of fabric with the big red, green and blue blobs. God knows it wasn’t getting any better looking in my closet.

convergence_fabricI borrowed the book through my local library system.  In the usual way of libraries, the label was not placed aesthetically.convergence_bookThe book’s instructions are blessedly clear, though you can’t skip any steps.  I chose the simplest configuration since the others call for more than one piece of fabric.

After the first round of cutting, sewing and shuffling I thought it had potential.

Convergence_step1Then I finished the next step.

convergenceI didn’t bother to complete the sequence of strips as the two remaining strips were practically all green.  Those little intersection pieces simply weren’t visible. So, the pieces go into the maybe-I’ll-do-something-with-this-someday drawer.  Parts of the created fabric are intriguing and would be great in a landscape quilt.

I’m not too discouraged as I liked just a few of the convergence quilts I found on Google images.  Ones made with hand dyed fabric appealed to me most. Here’s one that appealed to me.

JoyHarmonicConv2007I found it at Joy’s Fabrics and Quilts.


Filed under Books, In Process

Deck the Halls and Tables

Despite my forays into art/contemporary quilt territory, I do hold one merit badge of traditional quilting – I’ve made some winter holiday themed quilted items. While they have no santas, snowmen, reindeer, elves, angels, etc., on them, they are red and green. As a friend noted the other night in a holiday crowd replete with Christmas sweaters, I was wearing seasonally festive colors. They were just in an abstract pattern.

Xmas Boxes is an early attempt at an asymmetrical setting. I won many of the fabrics as a door prize.  I still plan to make a table runner with the three leftover blocks.  My progress this year was to sew those blocks together.

Xmas boxesChristmas Cactus is a paper pieced project from a Peggy Martin book on strip paper piecing.  I like it, though the judges at a quilt show said only that my sewing lines weren’t straight.

Joanna Xmas cactusHowever, this sampler quilt made up of half square triangles is probably the sharpest I’ve ever gotten my points.  I did it as part of an online course in pressing, as distinct from ironing.

press4success2aFinally, there’s the door hanger I made for my mother in law that’s returned to me as part of her estate.

tree_door_hangerI’ll toss these items on tables and over chairs, and once I hang the hand knit stockings my holiday decorating is done. Time to move on to what’s really important – the cookies.


Filed under Completed Projects

Clearing Out The Leftovers

When I grow up I want to work in quilt series.  Until then, I’m happy to work in quilt leftovers.  Maybe I should call my leftovers series so I can feel like a serious art quilter.

Here’s an example of what I mean.  Quite often I cut off the corners of blocks to create snowball or other blocks with triangles in the corners.  I follow Bonnie Hunter’s advice and sew a second seam on the part of the corner I’ll be cutting off.  That way I get a little half square triangle when I make the cut. While I’m listening to an audio book I’ll trim up those extras to a set size, usually a one and a half inch square, though sometimes a two inch one. Eventually they add up and I plunder that plastic container for a project like Akron Amish.

Akron AmishMost of those little points came from Orange You Glad. You’d get the name if you could see the back.

Orange you gladAnd the 16 patch blocks in Orange… came from leaders and enders, stored in yet another container.

I try to go through any small fabric bits left over from a quilt to see what I can cut into squares.  I don’t go smaller than one and a half inches or larger than three inches.  I’ve made at least one baby quilt from those squares.  Other small leftovers get put into containers sorted roughly by color group.

baby-quiltThose scraps often become part of small improvisational quilts. I love what happens when colors get thrown together and sometimes magic happens. Of course, it sometimes goes the other way. The fabric bits in Nothing Gold Can Stay were left on my cutting mat from a project I still haven’t finished.

Nothing Gold Can StayI also use leftovers in dyeing projects.  If a piece comes out looking ugly, I just dye it with another color or colors.  As I’ve noted before, I dye old damask tablecloths and commercially printed cloth.

green painted leaves on hand dyeThis piece of damask is a series all by itself.  It went through two dye baths and then was stamped with leaves dipped in paint. It awaits adoption into a quilt.


Filed under Commentary, Inspiration, Project Ideas

Inspiration In My Junk Mail

Just when I think I have my list of upcoming projects all set, some idea comes along and elbows its way past everything on the list.  Last week I was browsing a catalog from the Metropolitan Museum of Art as I ate a sandwich.  I’ve whittled down the number of catalogs I get, but come holiday season some still arrive.

Anyway, as I was wondering who on earth would wear that jewelry, I came across some pictures that screamed “make me into a quilt.”

First, among the cards was Gustav Klimt’s Tree of Life. Those triangles could be pieced or machine appliqued over a swirly fabric, and the birds and flowers appliqued.


A few pages further along was this gorgeous Art Deco purse with a ready made modern quilt or quilting motif.

purseThen, in the gauzy, loose fitting stoles and wraps section was this top based on a painting by Sonia Delaunay.


In addition to paintings she designed textiles, clothing, and did stage set design, so her sensibility lends itself to quilt design. Here’s the work by her I really have to find a way to make. How modern is this?


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Filed under Inspiration