Monthly Archives: August 2014

Latest SAQA Auction Quilts

Looking at the quilts donated each year for the SAQA auction is like ogling the deluxe box of mixed chocolates. You get to see work by some influential art quilters and a variety of techniques and approaches you may never have known about before. Online bidding for this year’s auction runs from September 14 to 20.

For bonus fun you can check out the dream collections curated by leading art quilters from this year’s auction quilts.

I decided to curate (now that’s a fancy word) my own collections. First up are pieces that use words, or at least letters.

FingalT_Do_What_You_love Do What You Love by Jamie Fingal

LarreaT_BustedBusted by Cat Larrea

LombrozoT_Beyond_WordsBeyond Words by Viviana Lombrozo

PixeladiesT_How_'Bout_Them_ApplesHow ’bout Them Apples by Pixeladies

My next collection is bluesy atmospheric work.

Lone Harbor Mickey Lawler

Kotowski The Race

Elena Stokes Blue LagoonFinally, here’s my minimalist collection.

ColorForm 68 Gail BaarDiane Firth Green FieldsKate Stiassni HorizonIntersect Nancy DobsonAm I going to bid on any? Just as soon as I win the lottery.

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Filed under Art quilts, Inspiration

What Will Happen To This Stuff?

One of the blogs I follow, Love Those “Hands At Home,” often features vintage linens. I thought of that blog as I sifted through items I’ve inherited that have been stuffed in the back of my linen closet and the bottom of a blanket chest.

All of the items were made by now deceased family members who did cutwork, crocheted, and embroidered. None of it is museum quality, but I’ve kept it because of the family links.

I believe my mother and her sisters stitched the cutwork, which came as kits with thread and stamped linen.

cut workI use this on my night stand.

Continuing in the embroidery vein, here’s a crib cover done on heavy muslin stamped with the pattern. I think an aunt did this one.

cross stitch crib coverMaybe this could be quilted with the addition of batting and backing.

Then there’s a trio of wool crocheted throws made by a great aunt using yarn from a local carpet factory. I think she took whatever she could get, which helps explain the colors. They are durable (I took them to college) but scratchy.

Striped wool crocheted throwWool crocheted throwStriped squares wool crocheted throwI guess they’re the crochet version of scrap quilts.

So, what am I going to do with all this stuff? I don’t think my brother or son will want them and there are no other close relations to offer them to. While I’ve managed to repurpose old damask tablecloths by dyeing them, I don’t see how I can repurpose most of the above items.

dyed damask tablecloth detailThen I thought about the pile of quilts I’ve made. What will happen to them after I’m gone? I think I’d better start giving even more of them away now.


Filed under Commentary

Oops, I Did It Again

I’ve been making sterling progress on my M & Ms challenge quilt. Once I pieced and quilted it, I decided to eliminate a little waviness along the edges by blocking it. So, out came the water spray bottle and the T pins.

After spraying the quilt’s edges I pinned the quilt to the carpeting in the spare bedroom and left it to dry for a few days. When I returned to unpin it I noticed, to my horror, that the green fabric had bled a bit into the white background.

Now, the quilting world is divided into those who pre-wash fabric and those who don’t. I’m of the former school, mostly because that’s the way I started and I don’t want to combine washed and non-washed fabric. And there have been times when the extra step has paid off.

To return to that green fabric, it’s a piece of hand dyed fabric I was given. Since I rinse/wash/rinse my hand dyes I made the assumption everyone did the same. I didn’t wash it before use. Oops.

The bleeding might not have shown up on another color background, but on white you have no margin for error.

After the first wave of dismay passed I began to think about how to fix this.  I rejected bleaching as in the past I’ve made the original problem worse using that method.

Finally I decided to paint over the area with white fabric paint. Out came my trusty Jacquard textile paints and a thin paint brush. Careful daubing covered the bleed.

After painting

Is it perfect? No, but unless you’re less than about six inches away from the quilt you can’t really see the repair.

Dandy Candy

Disaster averted? Well, the green did bleed through to the backing a bit, but I’ll cover that up with the hanging sleeve.

If you have other, better ways of dealing with this kind of mess please let me know. I’m sure I’ll need that information in the future.



Filed under Commentary, dyeing, In Process

Make + Love Quilts

I’m ambivalent about Mary Fons’ new book Make + Love Quilts: Scrap Quilts for the 21st Century. I enjoyed spotting all the vintage and modern quilt influences in her 12 big bed size quilt patterns, and seeing the vast array of scraps she uses. Yet I can’t help but wonder if her work would be as recognized if she weren’t from a quilting dynasty. There are many similarly talented quilters out there who toil in relative obscurity.

First, the good things and there are many. Mary’s writing showcases her unique voice. There’s no bland cut and pasted general instructions here.  Mary has opinions and she’s not afraid to write them down. I think her explanations may get through to folks who zone out on the usual directions.

Mary doesn’t come down in either the traditional or modern camp.  She says every quilter should feel free to make the quilts she wants to make. I think she’s influenced by current quilting trends – colors, desire for functional quilts, pieced quilt backs, etc. However, I kept thinking about old quilts I’ve seen in museum collections as I examined pictures of her work. The happy accidents that occurred when a quilter ran out of a fabric or wasn’t concerned about symmetry are consciously included in Mary’s quilts.

Night Sky Mary Fons

My Dear Mary Fons

And I had to laugh at the deliberately rumpled look of the quilts in the glossy photos. The pillows seem to have been used recently.

Whisper Mary Fons

Now for the niggles. This is a book of scrap quilts – yay. I love scrap quilts. I have boxes of scraps waiting for their chance to be part of one. Yet making an attractive scrap quilt is harder than it looks. An individual block of scraps may look great, but induce winces when put next to other scrap blocks. A quilt like the one below takes a lot of planning to have it look accidental.

Hello There Mary Fons

Mary talks about contrast, value and scale in fabrics; but doesn’t take the next step to give pointers about exactly how to make a successful scrap quilt. I wish she had spent less time on quilt labels and charms and more on scrap selection. I’ve followed the scrap fabric selection advice given in Nancy Mahoney’s Rich Traditions: Scrap Quilts to Paper Piece (2002) and found it specific enough to get me started.

Other points – the resources section is minimal, but Mary may figure these days most folks just look up a YouTube video. The biblioholic in me is saddened at this because a good quilting book reflects its author’s vision. A three minute film clip doesn’t.

Would I make any of the quilts in this book?  Probably not, simply because I no longer make bed size quilts and, while many of the quilts are attractive, none bowl me over enough to make an exception. That said, I can see folks who are looking for more casual bed quilts that aren’t “modern” liking these.




Filed under Books

I Know A Fabric Designer!

Andover Fabrics has a new collection called Urban Textures. There are two special aspects of this collection: it’s a fundraiser for SAQA (they’ll receive all royalties) and I know Shandra Belknap, one of the designers. Shandra’s art work, a design called Asphalt, was one of six chosen from 209 design competition submissions.

Asphalt blue Shandra BelknapAsphalt Shandra Belknap

You can see how her fabric and the other five look in three quilt patterns designed for this collection by Luana Rubin.

According to Laura Wasilowski’s blog (she’s one of the other winning designers) this fabric will be on offer at this fall’s Quilt Market and available in stores by year’s end.

I have no axe to grind in writing about this – except to show off Shandra’s work. You should see her painted fabric.





Filed under Art quilts, Commentary

Old Blocks, New Tricks

Last week I ended up making two pop up (like summer thunderstorms) quilt tops from old stuff. They certainly weren’t on my to-do list, which is loaded with other tops to quilt. But I came across my bag of 1.5 inch squares and HSTs. (Yes, I save even the little bits.) Then, I found blocks left over from another quilt, shown below, and decided I needed to combine them with new blocks made from those HSTs.

Akron Amish

Here’s the result, based on Sandi Cummings’ Thinking Outside the Block.

Transitioning Traditional 1

While that one was still warm from the iron, I found the 25 dancing stars blocks I had paper pieced with Amy Ellis’ pattern. Here’s a previous post about this project. I recalled that Vicki Welsh had recently finished her version and decided I had to finish mine. But, 25 (actually 24) blocks set on point make a very small piece, so I decided to expand my top by inserting sashing between the blocks.

The resulting top is the most traditional thing I’ve done in years, but I like the sharp edges and the brick colored setting triangles. It’s still not very large, though.

Dancing Stars

So, I’ve converted some traditional blocks into ones that look like they’re swimming upstream to spawn; and I’ve turned what was to be a modern quilt into a symmetrical one with sashing, no less. Of course my husband loves this one.


Filed under In Process

Stamping At My House

Ever since I got my hands on a copy of Intentional Printing I’ve been itching to print on fabric.  Last week I invited a friend over to play with stamps and fabric paint.  We took different approaches, but ended up with results that pleased us.

While my friend used stamps she already had I created mine from a pool noodle and stick on foam sheets. I also used a bit from packaging material.

printing toolspackaging stamp

My goal was to tone down some garish hand dyed fabric and add another layer of printing to some fabric I had silk screened or stamped previously.

full and half noodle slate printtube print on orangepackaging stamp over silk screen

I also printed with a piece of cardboard wrapped with rubber bands, and rubbing plates designed for paintstiks.

rubber band stamp printspaintstik plate over silk screen

Meanwhile, my friend was getting more delicate effects with her stamps.

JC ink stampsJC sand dollar print

Finally, here’s a piece I added more stamping to.

purple noodle print

I love the way the texture of the cloth and the stamp materials show up. I may even try carving some linoleum blocks I have.


Filed under Fabric Printing, In Process

Trying Out A New Way To Face Quilts

A few posts ago I wrote about Terry Aske’s method of facing her art quilts. Since I have a few almost finished quilts that will look better faced than bound, I was eager to try her approach.

I used my Easter Egg Roll quilt for my experiment as it is small – 14 by 43 inches – and I had more of the backing fabric in case things went badly awry. Here it is surrounded by the facings cut to 2.25 inches and then ironed in a quarter inch on one side. Note the long side pieces are shorter than the sides, and the top and bottom pieces are longer than the quilt’s width. This is to prevent fabric buildup in the corners.

Easter egg roll facing 1

I started by sewing the side pieces to the quilt, making sure each end was the same distance from the edge. Then I pressed the seam toward the facing. To help keep the facing from showing on the quilt front, I stitched about an eighth of a inch out from the facing/quilt seam through the facing and the three layers of the quilt. This seam, often called stay stitching, can be seen only on the quilt back. Finally, I pressed the facing to the back of the quilt, rolling a smidge of the quilt front over to the back.

Easter egg roll facing 3

Next it was time to sew on the top and bottom pieces, using the same method, except for the bits hanging off the edges. Those got trimmed to about a half inch and wrapped around the edges once the stay stitching was done.

Easter egg roll facing 2

I didn’t trim the corners as Terry’s method recommends. My batting was thin enough the corners weren’t bulky.

The facings got sewn down during all the non-dancing parts of So You Think You Can Dance. There sure are a lot of them.

finished facing on Easter Egg Roll

This facing method makes it easier to get square corners.  You can get poochy corners if you stitch continuously around the corner and then turn the facing right side out. I have links to both methods on my tutorials page, so you can try both and see what works for you.



Filed under Techniques

Creature Feature

What happens when you unleash a room full of quilters armed with art supplies on blank 12 by 12 inch fabric squares?

Well, I wish I could say you get great art, but that would be a lie. You do get a lot of fun and giggling, which isn’t a bad outcome.

The deal was we members of Contemporary Cloth Artists (CoCA) would bring a fabric square layered with batting and backing, and any painting, drawing, stitching, beading, fusing supplies we wanted that could be used in a public meeting room. We’d pass our square to the person to our left and receive the square of the person to our right. That would go on until everyone had a crack at all the squares.

Did we have supplies.  I saw Angelina, lace trims, Inktense pencils, fabric markers, fusible fabrics, charms, beads, yarns, ribbons, fussy cut fabric figures, organdies, felts, floss, perle cotton, and other stuff I never had a chance to look at. There were glues, fusibles, and irons with which to attach all that stuff.

My blank square was lavender cotton silk screened with a silver plant stem and leaf. Here’s how it ended up.

Creature Feature

I’ve called it Creature Feature as it looks like a mashup of bad sci-fi movie monsters. Mind you, while all that creating was going on there was a lively discussion of bad sci-fi movies, especially Sharknado. I can’t help but think that influenced the outcome.

We may do this again, but I’ll suggest we start with a bit more guidance as to subject or theme.



Filed under In Process, Techniques