Monthly Archives: May 2014

If It’s Wednesday…

Canadian Libs Eliott has garnered lots of quilting press for her computer code based quilt designs.  Her approach is to combine new technology with traditional craft.  She writes on her blog:

In my opinion, the past is comforting and the future is exciting.
My father is an antiques dealer so I grew up around ‘old things’. Beautiful things that were crafted by hand and that have a rich history. Naturally, growing up in this environment and learning the history of all these objects, I still find comfort in the old. However, I also have a great appreciation for clean, modern design, architecture and technology. The future is exciting, fast and random…just like the HYPE_Processing tool I use. The past and the future evoked opposite, conflicting feelings in me until I began making these ‘modern heirlooms’. I love what I do because it brings together modern technology and traditional craft in a harmonious way and solves this dilemma.

She’s also been experimenting with laser cutting her fabric. I can but dream of having access to such technology.

So, is her work art quilting?  Personally, I consider it graphic contemporary quilting, but you can decide for yourself.

2013_Green_Processing Libs Libs EliottHere’s Libs at work pinning her layers together.  To be young and have good knees again.

FULL_Quilt Libs EliottThis quilt is made up of Liberty lawn fabrics.

2013_Zig-Quilt-full Libs EliottI enjoy that single turquoise triangle.

EEvsJD_TS2 Libs Eliott topI think this one is a work in progress. I do like those pops of blue.




Filed under Inspiration

The Year in Four Quilts

With a determined push I sewed down the facings to my four seasonal quilts this past week.  They have been hanging over my second floor balcony railing for many months and the guilt finally got to me.

A Craftsy class on quilting with a walking foot by Jacquie Gering gave me the impetus to quilt gently curving lines over each.  I had been trying to develop a leaf-based free motion quilting design for them, so I was happy to have an alternative to that.  My to-be-quilted pile is heavily weighted with pieces in need of free motion quilting.

SpringSummerFallwinterAs I’m sure you’ve figured out, these are shown in order from spring to winter. The inner lozenges feature hand dyed fabric from Vicki Welsh.  These were part of a giveaway she hosted on her blog, Field Trips in Fiber. The outer fabrics are a mix of commercial and hand dyed.  I dyed the summer fabric, while the fall fabric is a damask I bought at a long ago NQA show.  As I recall, the other quilters on the bus we took to the show were extremely puzzled why anyone would pay good money for fabric like that.

Each is about 21 by 32 inches, and could be used as a table runner or wall hanging. My favorite is winter as I love the Lonni Rossi outer fabric. The grayish purple jagged lines remind me of winter sunsets and ice glazed puddles.


Filed under Completed Projects

Star Pillow

I finally got around to making an eight pointed star block that’s been in my to-do pile for some time.  The only way I get crisp, sharp points on my stars is to use paper piecing, and for this block I altered the Lone Starburst paper piecing pattern devised by Anna at Six White Horses to suit freezer paper piecing.

The alteration works because you add pieces to this pattern starting at one end and not the middle. I explain how I do this in  my paper piecing tutorial.

8 point star paper piecingI actually make two freezer paper patterns and cut up one to use as a guide to cut the individual pieces.  The piecing goes a lot faster if all the pieces to be joined are roughly cut beforehand.  The key is to iron the freezer paper to the wrong side of your fabric.  This is where yard dyed solids and batiks are handy as they have no wrong side.

Freezer paper piecing startIn this photo I’ve just ironed my first fabric piece to the freezer paper pattern and trimmed the seam allowance to 1/4 of an inch.  I used that bit of graph paper to feed the freezer paper smoothly under my presser foot.  The freezer paper tends to stick a bit at first, but after a few uses you won’t need that extra piece of paper.

With this pattern you sew eight slices and then join them.  I was able to use the same freezer paper pattern for all eight.  The only tricky bit was joining the slices so the fabric strips match.  I used Carol Doak’s technique of machine basting only the tricky areas together, checking for accuracy, and then adjusting as needed before sewing the whole seam.

Because I decided not to make any more stars I expanded the block with a yellow flange and side triangles to make a pillow front, and added a row of big stitching between the two rows of purple machine stitching in the turquoise area.

star pillow frontThen I sewed a zipper into the back using this tutorial on Sew Mama Sew.

star pillow back

My husband gave this effort his ultimate accolade – “that’s pretty.”


Filed under Completed Projects, Techniques

What Happens After You Find Your Voice?

I’ve heard some art quilters express frustration about finding their voice.  By this I take it they feel they haven’t yet developed a style and approach that’s unique to them.  One woman I met had spent a lot of time taking workshops with well known art quilters, and each of her pieces was a reflection of the teachers’ styles. She was having a hard time extrapolating the components that would merge into her unique vision.

I can sympathize. Sometimes my work is very clean edged and angular; other times it’s curvy and blurred. I sew along merrily, making what appeals to me.  Then I’m pulled up short by someone else’s work that makes me feel like a great big fake, an art quilt poseur who’s been snatching a bit of this and that from a lot of “real” art quilters.

Each month I meet up with a small group of art quilters to talk about our work in progress and give each other candid feedback.  And I mean the “what were you thinking, you’ve run the viewer’s eye right off the edge” kind of feedback; not the “I like it” kind. This is exactly why I participate in the group. I want candidness.

Recently one group member asked me, “do you consider this piece finished?” Gulp, well yes. I felt like I had really missed a turn somewhere. Driving home, I decided that I had taken the piece in question as far as I wanted to.  It wasn’t the best thing I’ve ever made, but it represented a departure and an experiment for me.  The lessons I learned making it should inform my future work.

This brings me to the step after finding your voice, and that’s trusting it. Only I know what I’m trying to do in my art and presumably I’ve spent at least some time figuring out just what that is.

Recently I bought Intentional Printing, Simple Techniques for Inspired Fabric Art by Lynn Krawczyk. I’ll probably be writing more about this book in the future, but one point Lynn makes at the beginning of the book is germane here.  She writes, “I’m convinced that having a strong voice in your art is as simple as knowing what you like. … The things that we choose to put in our art are direct reflections of our personalities, and that translates into your artistic voice.”

I’ve tried out enough different techniques to know which don’t seem to be good conduits for what I want to do – beading and applique are at the top of that list.  That doesn’t mean I’ll never use them if I feel a quilt warrants them, but they won’t be my starting point.

I find I’m drawn to changing fabric – dyeing, painting, printing, sewing little bits together to create new fabric.  My personal challenge is to make that changed fabric the foundation of a piece, not the final piece itself. And that will mean some mental discomfort as my childish side will be saying, what do you mean it’s not finished.


Filed under Commentary

Another Quilted Gift

My extended family seems divided about the joy of receiving quilted gifts.  There’s one branch that’s still exclaiming over the quilts I gave each of my cousins.  Nieces and nephews have expressed varying degrees of enthusiasm over baby quilts. Then there’s my brother who declared a moratorium on more quilted gifts.

Well, his birthday is coming up and I’ve held off on quilted items for several years, so this month he’s getting a table runner. I’m calling it Smoke Rings, though my brother doesn’t smoke.

smoke rings frontFront

smoke rings backBack

It’s based on a pattern from the book Modern One-Block Quilts.  I reviewed it in this post. The pattern calls for many rows of squared off Os, joined to form eights. I used just one row from the pattern.

I mashed together African batiks, Japanese yuwa, and some tone on tone fabrics, all from my stash.  The colors reflect those of my brother’s stoneware dishes. The quilting is bad free motion, done with smoke invisible thread.  One of these days I should try marking before attempting free motion.

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Filed under Commentary, Completed Projects

“Fabric Surface Design”

Recently I’ve spent a lot of time looking at books of techniques for fabric design.  The latest is Fabric Surface Design by Cheryl Rezendes. This 2013 title covers just about every surface design technique out there except dyeing.  Twelve chapters address stenciling, nature printing, gelatin prints, silk-screening, resists, image transfer, marbling, foiling, and more.

Just for fun, leading practitioners of the various techniques are profiled in each chapter.  And then chapters on color theory and composition are thrown in, along with resources and reading lists.

I  followed the instructions for a few of the techniques – ones I already have the supplies for.  I’ve also picked up tips for using materials like Paintstiks. Cheryl suggests creating a palette for your Paintstiks by taping masking tape to a plate and then smearing across the tape with your stick.  You then load up your stencil brush with color and apply it to your fabric.  I had been mashing my stencil brush into the tip of the stick.

First, I tried scrunching fabric in a plastic bag and then adding diluted paint. I used Jacquard fabric paint in periwinkle.  Given how wet the fabric still was the morning after, I think I wet it down too much.

scrunch setupscrunch_paint addedscrunch outcomeAs you can see, my fabrics turned out quite pastel, though the PFD Kona on the upper right took paint the best. The fabric on the left is a white on white print, so adding color gives it extra interest. I’ll probably overprint this fabric as it’s rather uninteresting.

The other technique I tried involved Derwent Inktense pencils, which I already owned.  Per the book, I ironed my fabric (PFD Kona) onto freezer paper, drew lines on the dry fabric, then sprayed the fabric, went over areas with a wet brush, and finally drew more with the pencils.

Inktense brushedInktense driedThe last picture shows the fabric after I dried it.  One lesson learned was that the color is less intense after the fabric dries.

I’m not the only one inspired to try techniques from the book.  On And Then We Set It On Fire Linda tried using fabric paint to create shibori effects.

If you’re looking for ideas about ways to alter/enhance fabric you can’t go wrong with this book.  Some methods seem more completely described than others, but the author makes a valiant effort at completeness. And I really want to try some of the ideas for homemade stamps.

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Filed under Books, Techniques

A Meeting Of The Squares

It seems I can’t get enough of my squares.  I tried yet another variation – this one with four colors and just one square design. Here’s the one I actually sewed together.

IMG_4137And then here’s some variations I tried out.


IMG_4131Rearranging these 5 inch squares is quite addictive.  The biggest problem is choosing which setting to sew up.  I don’t know how far I’ll extend this series.  Right now I haven’t chosen any new colors to try, though I may try the purple/green fabrics with another block design.


Filed under In Process, Modern Quilting

It’s Getting Cloudy

Recently I’ve been trying to make clouds by painting silk organza. This is for a small piece that’s based on a photo of the sky reflected on skyscraper windows.


I pulled out my Dyna Flow paints, put some fabric under my organza to catch the excess paint, wet the organza, made up a grayish color from black, white and blue paint, and slapped it on.

My first effort worked great on the under cloth but was too pale on the organza.  Next, I tried some Tulip fabric paint in black and white and mixed up another gray.  This time I found that the Tulip paint didn’t flow like the Dyna Flow and I ended up with gray blobs.  It looked like an out of focus x-ray of a suspicious lung growth.

clouds on organza

Then I added more white with a Paintstik, to make the effect less thunderstorm of the year-ish. The result was more the effect I wanted.  The Paintstik was easier to blend in with the gray than any of the paint I tried.


I still have to figure out how to cut cloud shapes that aren’t cartoonish and attach them.  But one step at a time.


Filed under In Process, Techniques