Monthly Archives: November 2014

My Guild Breaks Out

No, my traditional guild wasn’t incarcerated. Or maybe it was, figuratively speaking. My lovely co-members like kits, are inclined to follow patterns exactly, and often have their quilting done by professional longarm quilters. They are by the book.

So, at our recent Sweet Treats challenge reveal I was amazed to hear statements like, “for the first time I didn’t use a pattern,” “I just did some free motion quilting,” and “I used a fabric marker to cover up the wrong colors.” Way to go, ladies.

Here’s irony for you. For the first time in ages I followed a pattern for my challenge piece, to the letter.

DC's_sweet_treats_challengeFree motion with fusible applique. The candies spell out “how sweet it is.”

BY's_sweet_treats_challengeNo pattern!


JC's_Sweet_treats_challengeColored markers and inks.

Dandy CandyMine, from Angela Pingel’s “A Quilter’s Mixology.”



Filed under Commentary, Completed Projects

Akron MQG’s New Blog

Thanks to our indefatigable member Stephanie, Akron’s Modern Quilt Guild now has a blog. You can check it out here and subscribe to the posts.

We usually meet the fourth Wednesday of each month at 6:30 p.m. at the Marshall St. Akron Christian Reformed Church. However, we won’t be meeting in December or January due to the holidays and old man winter. You can contact the group via its blog.

Here’s a photo of Stephanie’s latest work in progress.



Filed under Modern Quilting

Bah Humbug

We’re approaching the time of year when I can dread snow and “the holidays.” I saw the season’s first flakes a few days ago, but the brunt of the white stuff went elsewhere. Lucky Buffalo. I can hear the snow gods now – we’ll be back.

That brings me to “the holidays.” I know many (most?) people will recoil in horror at this, but I hate “the holidays.” Christmas trees and model train sets are fine. Festive meals are fine, too. It’s the incessant music everywhere and the push to buy, buy, buy that make me bonkers. Plus, everyone whines about how stressed out they are with all the holiday doings.

So, let’s talk about making, rather than buying, gifts. Let’s be real and not fantasize about making a king size quilt for each of our loved ones. Instead, why don’t we contemplate smaller items that might actually be useful.

I’ve already written about two handy quilted/sewn items that would make nice gifts – a fabric bowl holder for the microwave and a smartphone/tablet stand. You probably have all the materials for these already.

fabric bowlsphone stand rear view

I found several possibilities on Robert Kaufman’s free patterns website.  Sandwich sacks, totes (including a sewing tote,) beach towels, purse organizer, duffle bag, dog bed, tablet case, camera case,  zipper pouches, a variety of pillows, etc. There are lots of Kona solids based quilts as well. And don’t forget to check out the free patterns offered by other fabric companies as well. Of course they want you to buy their fabric, but you can probably pull together fabric from your stash.


On the receiving end, your loved ones may be happy to give you a rainbow selection of thread or a workshop you’ve been wanting to try. Maybe a handy person will put together a design wall for you. For myself, I’m hoping someone will finally put the little drummer boy out of his misery.


Filed under Project Ideas, Snark

Occasional Wednesday Salon

Over a decade ago I became enraptured by the quilts of Australian Judy Hooworth as seen in books she wrote and co-wrote with Margaret Rolfe. Bold, geometric patterns, vivid colors, and simple piecing based on log cabin blocks and half square triangles characterized her quilts.  Some titles that floated my boat were Spectacular Scraps, Razzle Dazzle Quilts, and Quilts on the Double.

Hooworth_booksI caught up with Judy, or at least her work, in a photo from a recent art quilt show. Talk about changes. I’ve had to guess at the dates many of the quilts below were made as I haven’t yet found a catalog of Hooworth’s work.

Secret_Garden_2000_HooworthSecret Garden (2000)

Judy_Hooworth_Songs_2005Songs (2005)

Hooworth - Black Water13

Black Water 13 (2009?)


Creek Drawing #9 (2012?)


China Souvenir…What Lies Behind #2 (2013?)

I gather, based on a SAQA interview, Hooworth always had two tracks of quilting going on. “I designed and made original art quilts and also followed through my love of pieced quilts by adapting simple traditional patterns using contemporary fabrics and lots of colour.” Apparently she began by sewing traditional quilts to develop her skills.

She said about her approach to designing quilts,

I have to try things by making rather than using a computer program, and I gave up doing detailed drawings of proposed work years ago. I will sometimes make a sketch or photograph the fabric I’ve painted, print it out on paper and cut it apart to look at ways of using the fabric before I cut into the cloth. I like the “what if” approach, and let each step inform the next. I enjoy the challenges posed by working directly with fabrics on the design wall, engaging with design and composition along the way.

Changes in her life – a move from the city, her husband’s death, travels in Asia – have shaped her quilts. You can see how the bright colors disappeared from her work for a bit, and now are reappearing in work inspired by her recent travels. The fabric pieces are much larger, and Hooworth silk screens and monoprints many of her fabrics and images. As Kathy Loomis put it, Hooworth’s work has become more austere with time.

Unlike with some art quilters’ work, I don’t think you can say, “oh, that’s by Judy Hooworth,” the minute you look at one of her pieces. I’d love to learn more about her journey.


Filed under Art quilts, Commentary

What Modern Quilters Are Up To

Just in case you don’t follow the Modern Quilt Guild’s blog, I wanted to share a post on the modern quilts shown at the recent International Quilt Festival in Houston, Texas. Here’s the link so you can get a flavor of what MQG chose to showcase.

Some of the quilts just bowled me over. Thanks to Christa Quilts for the photos.

colorado-4x4-stephanie-ruyleColorado 4 x 4 by Stephanie Ruyle. I just love how the stars fade in and out, and how the different background neutrals create an echo effect. The white binding keeps the focus on the stars and doesn’t pull your eye out to the edges.

fade-into-gray-stephanie-ruyleFade Into Gray by Stephanie Ruyle (again). This quilt was made as a college graduation gift for someone named Grayson. I love grays so this quilt plays to my weakness. All those curves remind me of the work of Jean Wells.

pixel-pusher-ii-caro-sheridanPixel Pusher II by Caro Sheridan. I like how this two color quilt makes kind of a diagonal transition, doesn’t try to be pretty, and works that aqua blue binding.

grand-canal-casey-york-quilted-by-ann-mcnewGrand Canal by Casey York, quilted by Ann McNew. This one made me laugh because I keep being told that in landscape quilts you should never place the horizon line dead center. Either use 1/3 sky/ 2/3 land or vice versa. But since I take it the quilt is meant to evoke a vacation snapshot, maybe that horizon line could happen in a photo.



Filed under Modern Quilting, Quilt Shows

In The Clouds

I finally finished a small quilt that’s been awaiting a technique breakthrough in cloud making. When I wrote about this stumbling block before, I was trying to paint silk organza to resemble clouds. Then, I ran into technical difficulty when I tried to figure out how to attach the painted clouds to the piece in a way that didn’t look hokey.

My breakthrough came from a wonderful landscape quilt I saw at Quilt Canada this past summer. Tracey Lawko, the artist, used white netting to trap some sort of white fluffy stuff to create clouds in her Windswept Snow 1.

Windswept-Snow-1-by-textile-artist-Tracey-LawkoThat epiphany set me off on a different method to simulate clouds. I tried cotton wool and even cat hair under white netting.

Finally, I tried shredded wool batting and found that worked best of any material I had experimented with.


You can see detail of some of the clouds below.

IMG_5023In_The_Clouds_detail1I did some quilting before attaching the clouds as I was concerned about too many lines running through them. My experiments at free motion quilting clouds were failures. So, I did more quilting after sewing on the clouds. I wish I had sewn on the clouds before doing any quilting so the edges weren’t so puffy, but that’s a lesson learned.

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Filed under Art quilts, Completed Projects, Techniques

Printing Play Time

For our October meeting a quilt group I belong to, Contemporary Cloth Artists (CoCA), used cheap and easy stamps and fabric paint to enhance/create fabric.  This is the same technique I wrote about earlier.

Members cut up foam sheets to make stamps, and used materials like bubble wrap to add intriguing texture. One enthusiast even used a silicone mat designed for kitchen use.

C's fish printThe grasses were printed with a foam stamp. I think the fish were, too.

JC's leaf teeThis printing method works well for tee shirts.

JM's tire tracks printCut up foam, a wine cork, and a pool noodle section

L's grass printThe same foam stamp was used with two colors of paint. The piece is draped over a chair.

L's swirl printEveryone loved how easy it was to cut the foam.

M's foamie printThis has a southwestern feel.

S's phoenix printHere’s a phoenix and a bit of the stamp created for the grasses in the fish print.

S's phoenix stampHere’s the foam stamp for the phoenix.

Bottom line – art quilters just want to have fun.


Filed under Fabric Printing, Techniques

A Pilgrimage to Art Quilt Mecca

Last Thursday a friend and I sojourned to Athens, Ohio, best known as the home of Ohio University, party school central. Athens is also the home of Quilt National, held since 1979 at the Dairy Barn Arts Center.

We were there for the current (until November 22) show called “Quilt (R)Evolution: Art Quilt Retrospective 1979-2014.” It features the work of 28 Quilt National jurors, who were asked to contribute one early work, one work  made at the time they were a juror, and one work that represents their current work.

Just to give you a sample of the artists represented: Nancy Crow (of course,) Michael James, Jan Myers-Newbury, Yvonne Porcella, Elizabeth Busch, Joan Schulze, Caryl Bryer Fallert-Gentry, Arturo Sandoval, Liz Axford, Paula Nadelstern, Sue Benner, Katie Pasquini Masopust, Eleanor McCain, Judith Content, Rosalie Dace, and Ann Johnston.

Photographs weren’t allowed, so I’ve searched online for images to share. In some cases, I’m using photos of work similar to that in the exhibit.

I’m linking to a post Kathy Loomis wrote about this exhibit. The first photo below was taken by her. And I just found a site that shows all the quilts, so if you want to see every (I think) quilt in the show, go here for a slide show. I have no idea how this ended up on a photo sharing site, but I’m unable to copy any of the pictures.

QN_Revolutions2Here’s the view looking right from the entry door. A piece by Yvonne Porcella is to the right, one by Nancy Crow (current work) is center, and the kimono (early work) to the left is by Yvonne Porcella.

Nancy_Crow_February_Study_II_1979An early Nancy Crow piece from the days she was into precision piecing.

An early Michael James piece from the same era, about 1983. This isn’t the one in the show, but the curving drunkards path style is close. I see that both Nancy and Michael liked striped fabric.

Michael_James_1983And here are examples of their more current work.

Michael_James_A_System_of_Classification_2009Michael James who now uses digital imagery.

6406.1.%20Nancy%20Crow%2c%20Constructions%20%2383%20Anxiety%2c2006-2007Nancy Crow whose work is still hand quilted.

Some artists, like Jan Myers-Newbury, seemed to have always worked with one aspect of quilting – hand dyed fabrics in her case – though their designs have changed over time.

1978-Electric-Blanket-Jan_Myers-NewburyHere’s her Electric Blanket from 1978. She hand dyed gradients, cut the fabric into squares, and arranged the squares to form a color progression. Her 2013 piece in the show, Sticks and Bones, uses color gradients as well. Almost all her work over the past decade has used arashi shibori.


Generally, the artists’ work seems to have loosened up over the years.

Freehand_4_Liz_AxfordFreehand 4 by Liz Axford was done in 1992. It’s pieced like a log cabin and follows traditional quilt structure.

LogJam_5_Liz_AxfordLogjam 5 was done much more recently, in 2012.

I was surprised not to see a lot of change in the work of Caryl Bryer Fallert-Gentry. It may be she’s always used hand dyes, so the fabrics don’t date her work. Here’s her works, in chronological order.

HighTechTucks34_1991_Caryl_Bryer_Fallert-GentryHigh Tech Tucks from 1991

Feather_Study_#1_Caryl_Bryer_Fallert-GentryFeather Study 1 from 1998.

Caryl-Bryer-Fallert-Gentry-On-the-Wings-of-a-DreamOn The Wings of A Dream from 2008 (Read more about this quilt here.)

The quilting on this is beyond exquisite. It’s the most elaborate quilting in the show, and must be seen in person to appreciate. Or you can buy it for $61,000.

Speaking of quilting, since a quarter to a third of the pieces were done before 1990, there’s more hand quilting than is the norm today. Also, as my friend pointed out, wall hanging type quilts just weren’t as densely quilted then. In general, the machine quilting used enhances the pieces but doesn’t upstage them.

Some artists truly began in traditional quilting. Rosalie Dace contributed the second quilt she ever made, and I never would have surmised her later art quilt career from it. Ann Johnston contributed a traditional bed quilt she made for a family member.

In terms of fabrics, works of artists who used hand dyed fabric have a more timeless quality than those made with commercial fabrics. Here’s an 1981 work, Heaven’s Reach, by Kate Pasquini-Masopust that can be dated by its fabric.  Cotton blends appear in other works on exhibit as well, and the colors of commercial fabrics are very period (and often ugly.)

katie_pasquini_heavens_reach_1981With some artists, you can see increased technical mastery over time, though for the most part the techniques are handled well even in early work. I didn’t see a lot of digital imagery on fabric, which may reflect the age of over half the pieces shown. At the 2013 Quilt National I was struck by the number of pieces built on digital photos.

Please enjoy the slide show of these works, and if by some chance you find yourself in southeast Ohio make a point of visiting the Dairy Barn before the show closes.


Filed under Art quilts, Quilt Shows

Around The World Blog Hop

Melanie at Catbird Quilt Studio  and Gwen the Textile Ranger have passed the around the world blog hop parcel to me, so I’ll try to explain my relationship with quilting to you by answering the questions below. Feel free to just look at the pictures if I go on too long.

How does my work differ from others?
Since my work is, ahem, sui generis, it’s hard to say where it fits in. Essentially I’m a quilt slut, ready and willing to try just about any style of quilting as long as it doesn’t involve needle turned applique. I don’t do beading, either. Other than those two no-nos, I’m ready to embrace about any technique.

I began with traditional quilts, and fell in love with the possibilities of half square triangles.

bluegreenAbove is the imaginatively named Bluegreen (pattern adapted from Pat Speth.)

I also took up paper piecing as a way to deal with my inability to match points.

FallingFalling (pattern by Nancy Mahoney)

I found I hated to follow a pattern exactly, but made adjustments in size, shape and color to suit my whims.  That led to drafting blocks, which I think is good training for the math part of quilting.

As I made more adjustments to patterns I found I was creating my own designs using traditional block structures. I find it a lot more interesting to make it up rather than repeat a pattern. I don’t do quilt patterns that require piecing 572 flying geese.

Akron AmishAkron Amish

In 2011 that led to the itch to step away from the ruler and take a walk on the art quilt side. That’s been good and bad as I don’t have the crutch of blocks to rely on. Some art quilts have come together easily while others are still unfinished.

Nothing Gold Can StayNothing Gold Can Stay

Then, when modern quilting burst on the scene with a younger, social media savvy group, I loved that enthusiasm and willingness to ignore rules, assuming the first moderns knew there were rules.

tipsy_lampshadesTipsy Lampshades (idea from Jacquie Gering)

The moderns’ use of bold color and strong graphics drew me into their fold. Then, modern quilts began to look more like traditional quilts, only with cooler prints in cooler colors. And there were patterns, too. Let’s just say the bloom is off that rose, though there’s spectacular quilts being made by modern quilters.

So, my work is a mashup of many different quilt styles. I still occasionally make traditional type quilts, though with a contemporary twist. I think my work is characterized by strong colors and abstract shapes. I hope my pieces reflect my love affair with fabric.

Why do I write/create what I do?

I write because I wanted a record of my work, how it was created, and a handy place to keep links to online tutorials.

Because I found other quilters’ blogs to be such a wonderful resource, I wanted to add my bit. That’s why I blog rather than keep a private journal. The generosity of the online quilting community is astonishing. I can’t believe the advice, ideas, patterns, techniques, and inspiration shared freely.

As to why I create quilts – did I mention I love fabric? I grew up with a grandmother who sewed for a living so I learned the vocabulary of sewing at her feet. Since I already knew many of the techniques and owned a sewing machine, quilting seemed a natural creative outlet for me.

I know some find quilting meditative. I find it exciting and full of suspense.  Will I have enough fabric? Have I pushed that color combo far enough?  Have I gone too far? Is it edgy or dorky?

How does my writing/creating process work?

You’re supposed to have a process?  Actually, I have a compost heap in my brain that spits out ideas every so often. It can be set off by anything from a pile of scraps left from trimming a quilt to a photo to a particular piece of fabric. I’m not given to big idea quilts. I don’t think my brain works like that. That scatter shot approach also characterizes my writing.

What are you working on?

Right now I’m actively finishing up three quilt tops. I have about four tops awaiting quilting, plus several small pieces that need decisions on whether they’re to be combined or sent singly into the world. We won’t talk about the stalled quilts.

Then there’s the “let’s just have some fun with scraps” top I started last week. I’m sure I’ll make adjustments before I start sewing.  I tend to work directly on the design wall rather than think everything out beforehand, though I’ve made some really planned quilts.


To paraphrase Marianne Fons, it doesn’t matter what you quilt; it matters that you quilt.

Because variety is the great thing (OK, one of the great things) about quilting, I’ll pass along this blog hop to two other quilters.

First up is Patty The Quilt Lady, who has a unique improv style, the largest stash I’ve ever seen, and an incredible depth of quilting/sewing techniques. And she’s quilter to rock stars. Really.

With her totally different take on quilting let me present Pam at Jump Cut Arts. She was a video editor and now makes quilts by hand. Her quilting process is the opposite of mine (think hand quilting), so I enjoy reading about her thoughtful, more meditative approach. Her photos are lovely as well.



Filed under Commentary