Monthly Archives: January 2015

Spoiled for Choice

My slow quilting pledge has gotten me into trouble already as I ponder the block arrangement for my modern drunkards path quilt.

So far, I’ve developed six (!) possible combinations of the background blocks and am struggling to make a choice. And I haven’t yet exhausted all the possibilities.

Here are my layouts (so far:)


I tried doing the shape centers in random light blocks but thought it lacked oomph, though I may end up using that approach. The middle left and bottom right arrangements are minor variations of a dark/light center block. Same with the left top and bottom. Both remind me of electric sockets. The top right (checkerboard) and middle right (one side light/one side dark) are different from the others. I don’t think the former will work.

It would be nice to create a series and make a few versions, but I’m out of these fabrics so that’s not on.

One aspect of this project that’s gone well is sewing the curved blocks. I used Angela Pingel’s how-to video and her one pin method worked a treat.


Filed under In Process

Occasional Wednesday Salon

If you’ve read at least one post on this blog you know I’m not a fan of cute, precious, or twee. So, imagine my surprise when I was captivated by the work of Mr. Finch, who conjures creatures out of old fabrics and other recycled materials.

Some are realistic, some are fantastical, some are imbued with very non-realistic qualities. I think they’re strange enough to escape cuteness.




From his website:

“My main inspirations come from nature and often I return to certain ideas again and again.
Flowers, insects and birds really fascinate me with their amazing life cycles and extraordinary nests and behaviour.
British folklore is also so beautifully rich in fabulous stories and warnings and never ceases to be at the heart of what I make.
Shape shifting witches, moon gazing hares and a smartly dressed devil ready to invite you to stray from the path.
humanizing animals with shoes and clothes is something I’ve always done and I imagine them to come alive at night. Getting dressed and helping an elderly shoemaker or the tired housewife.”

With British understated humor he says his business is called Mr. Finch to let people know he’s a man who sews. “We are a bit thin on the ground but we are out there!”

He’s just published a book called Mr. Finch: Living In A Fairytale World.  It’s available on Amazon. You can read an interview with him in Sweet Paul Magazine. To see what he’s been up to recently try his Facebook page. And good luck trying to buy any of his creations on Etsy. His shop says he is sold out.

I’ll close with two of my favorites.




Filed under Commentary

First Finish of The Year

Since it’s still January, I’m keeping my resolution to finish projects before haring off on new ones. While I’ve quilted two projects I started in 2014, I got Impact bound first. I’m still mulling over fabric choices for the more complicated binding on my landscape.

Impact 2

Impact was inspired by Terry Aske’s quilt, Wedges. Her quilt was inspired by others, as she discusses here.

Wedges Terry AskeWedges by Terry Aske

I began with the same technique, random width strips of fabric sewn together, then cut into wedges using the eyeball measuring system. I used only two sets of strips, but inserted white  and solid wedges to make up the circle. I put in some of my modern fabrics by Zen Chic, Marcia Derse, and Parson Gray.

Impact wedge

I found I needed a lot more wedges than I thought I would. I came up with some work-arounds to join the quarters, and squared off the corners with big triangles of the gray and green fabrics.

Impact measures 42.5 inches square, is bound with the Parson Gray fabric used in the quilt, and is backed with a “modern” Zen Chic print.


Filed under Completed Projects

The Big Project

My 2015 “must make” list includes a modern drunkards path. I was entranced with this mockup of such a quilt I found on Pinterest, so I resolved to develop my own version.

drunkards path ideaThe design is from Anne Sullivan at She may have created it for the Quilt Design A Day challenge. Her Flickr page is fun to look at.

To show how serious I am about this, I’ve drafted a pattern that should finish at 50 inches by 70 inches, and possibly larger depending on border choices.

DP layout sketchThe x’s will be dark fabric, while the o’s will be light. I plan to have the blocks finish at 5 inches, and have used templates I made from Angela Pingel’s A Quilter’s Mixology book.

modern DP templates Angela Pingel

I had considered making the ground out of my dark fabric but realized I wouldn’t have enough of the Kaffe Fassett fabric I planned to use. I bought a selection of 6 inch assorted strips, and cut them up into squares.

Kaffe Fassett squaresOh my, it must have been sunny the day I took this picture.

Next, I traced the Ls and fat pieces using my templates and cut them out.

DP cut pieces

I cut the squares on the right from the fabric leftover from the Ls.

Right now all the pieces reside in a plastic shoebox to await marking of the curve centers. I think that will be a good use of TV commercial time.


Filed under In Process

Ohio Amish in California

It came as a surprise to learn that Akron, Ohio, has a major collector of antique Ohio Amish quilts – Darwin Bearley. Of course, you’ll have to go to San Jose, California, to see them. Mr. Bearley keeps them in storage in Akron.

The San Jose Quilt Museum of Quilts and Textiles is hosting exhibits of Amish and Amish inspired quilts. On display until March 1 are Bearley’s historic collection and the second part of the Amish inspired modern quilt exhibit.

You can see photos of the Amish inspired modern quilts exhibit over at the Plaid Portico blog. The Quilt Show has put together a slide show of the antique Amish quilts exhibit. Unfortunately, it doesn’t show the individual quilts. Luckily, the Plaid Portico blog comes to the rescue with many photos of the individual quilts.

four patch about 1890-1910A simple four patch made striking by its border.

log cabin about 1880 Holme CountyThe joined log cabin blocks fool the eye into thinking they’re circles. As for the diagonal pieced strip border, eat your hearts out, modern quilters.

Railroad crossing 1928An unusual ocean waves block setting. Maybe the quilter was trying to stretch a limited number of blocks.

I was especially taken with the bold zigzag borders on some. It’s interesting how the Ohio Amish color palette differs from that used in Pennsylvania Amish quilts. And while some of the exhibit’s quilts feature a few large pieces, many have far more piecing than the Pennsylvania Amish quilts I’ve seen.


Filed under Quilt Shows

Oh No, It’s Still In My Stash

A review of my January 2014 post about fabric I hoped to use over the year reveals that I have failed abysmally.  Only one, Migratory Lace, made it into anything I did in 2014. And what’s worse, I’ve rewarded my irresponsible behavior by purchasing more fabric.

orange peel pillow detailMigratory Lace in a pillow with another hard to use fabric

Evaluation of the elements common to my always-a-bridesmaid fabrics reveals the following: they are prints in colors that clash with everything else in my stash, and at the time of purchase I thought they would make a dazzling quilt.

I seem to have the same problem when I buy new clothes. The top I thought would breathe new life into some old pants turns out to be a shade off, or too short or long. Even if I buy nothing but black, they are different shades of black.

So why do I keep repeating this mistake? I think it’s because enough of my impulse purchases have worked out to make me think lightening will strike twice.

I have learned that I’ll always find a use for solids, even browns, and need to keep my supplies of black, white and gray topped up. Same goes for batiks that don’t have a strong pattern. And I seem to work McKenna Ryan fabric into lots of quilts. I’ve also learned to steer away from many of the modern print fabrics. They are enticing, but the color palettes don’t seem to work with anything but the rest of their collection.

I have a weakness for ombre fabrics, stripes, and the Grunge line from Moda’s Basic Gray.

little-black-dress-grunge-cotton-fabric-grey-4Stripes I like have been hard to come by lately, but I found some ombre fabrics last year. This is the Gelato line by Daiwabo, a Japanese company. And I just bought a jellyroll (my first one ever) of Caryl Bryer Fallert gradients.

19 Gelato kit finalThis year I’ll see if I can arrange some fabric swaps, or put the old stuff on a quilt back.



Filed under Commentary, Snark

Down The Rabbit Hole This Morning

More than I’d like, I get lost in a website. This morning I saw that the Smithsonian’s Freer and Sackler Galleries had set up a website to show their entire digitized collections. These galleries specialize in Asian art, so I figured there would be textiles to check out. A search on “textiles,” a few minutes of perusal, what could be the harm?

About an hour later I came up for air. Here are some items in the collections that appealed to me aesthetically. They are from China, Japan, India, Pakistan, and Uzbekistan; and span several centuries.

First up is a 19th century woman’s silk velvet robe from central Asia, followed by an Uzbekistan ikat 19th century wall hanging. They have similar color schemes, and I’m amazed the colors are still so vibrant.

Woman's central Asian 19th c. silk velvet robe SmithsonianUzbekistan ikat wall hanging 19th c. Smithsonian

Here’s a delicate polychrome silk tapestry from the Qing dynasty in China.

Qing dynasty silk tapestry Smithsonian

This sumptuous robe was a Japanese 19th century Noh costume. What gorgeous birds.

No costume 19th c. SmithsonianManchu man's court coat early 20th c. SmithsonianA Manchu man’s court coat from the early 20th century. I love the contrast on the sleeves and asymmetrical closing.

Here’s a fragment from a Japanese Noh robe of the 18th century. It would make a wonderful applique pattern.

Japanese no robe fragment 18th c. Smithsonian

Applique from a door hanging made in India in the 20th century.

Indian appliqued door hanging 20th c. SmithsonianIndian 20th c. applique Smithsonian FS-6910_08An Indian appliqued wall hanging from the 20th century. What a great pattern for a medallion quilt.

Another wall hanging, this time from Pakistan, embroidered in the 20th century. Looks like a lot of flying geese. I love those bobbles at the corners.

Embroidered Pakistan wall hanging 20th c. SmithsonianImages in these collections can be part of your own work. ” Images can be used for all non-commercial purposes, from desktop wallpapers to artistic gifts for family and friends.” according to the Freer/Sackler website.  If you click on the wallpapers link, you’ll find some out of the ordinary electronic gadget wallpapers. I’m considering the Edo period thunder god.

The collections contain lots of pieces that would make wonderful patterns for prints and fabric painting. The items below are wood block printed textile covers of two Japanese books from 1935-1936.

Japanese orihon bound books 20th c. Smithsonian


Filed under Commentary

2015’s Big Idea

Mulling over my relationship to quilting has led me to adopt “quilt slower” as my phrase for 2015. No, this doesn’t mean I’m planning to hand quilt everything or turn a big pile of UFOs into cause for pride.

I intend to create quilts more thoughtfully, to better define the subject of my quilts before I begin. This means more preliminary work before even picking up my rotary cutter. To date I’ve been more an intuitive quilter, though in 2014 I did plan a landscape quilt from photo to drawing to top, and a series of variations on a square.

Mack_marsh_pinnedWorking in Series J. Mack aqua squares 3

Maybe because “quilt slower” has been on my mind I’ve noticed others are preaching slowness. Recently I came across The Slow Stitching Movement. This is Mark Lipinsky’s latest venture, complete with getaway, blog, and magazine. Then, there’s The Slow Fix by Carl Honore, which I’ve just started reading.

It remains to be seen how useful these sources will be as I suspect they may simply dress what’s already known in a new outfit. My goal is to stop and think – I believe this is called planning – before sewing. What is my purpose? How will this be used? These questions are easily answered for a bed or lap quilt; harder to answer for a purely decorative piece.

I may do a series to explore several takes on an idea or make fewer pieces that are more complex. One of my leftovers from 2014 is another, larger view of that marsh. It’s all drawn out on muslin, so I just (ha,ha) need to choose fabrics and sew it together.

I ask one favor of you. If I ever, ever use the word mindfulness, would you please slap me upside the head.



Filed under Commentary

A Hazy Shade Of Winter

Each day the weather isn’t utterly awful I try to take a walk. I live near the old Ohio and Erie Canal towpath, which has been turned into a biking/running/walking trail. For short stretches you can pretend to be in the country, but then urban life intrudes with trunk sewer and high voltage transmission lines and the glimpse of cars on a nearby road.

But I actually like the sights more this time of year as I can see the shapes of the trees and enjoy the different colors and textures of their bark.

Towpath woodsFor color, bittersweet vines add pops of orange-red.

Towpath vinesAnd lacy patterns of crossed branches catch my eye.

Branch filagree

These sights led me to piece “A Hazy Shade Of Winter” based on inspiration from Helen Howes.

Hazy Shade of Winter 2

Sun printed fabric, hand dyes, strips from the scrap bin, and small bits of yardage collected over ten years were combined to make stylized trees. Narrow red/orange strips were inserted to pay homage to the bittersweet, and charcoal/purple McKenna Ryan fabric separated the trees from the forest.

I’m mulling over a few quilting ideas – possibly an overall wood grain pattern or one or two large tree outlines with echo quilting or…


Filed under Art quilts, In Process, Project Ideas

My Favorites of 2014

Janus-VaticanInstead of revisiting my posts that attracted the most readers in 2014 I want to feature posts which didn’t get a lot of love. You may think this is perverse, but I enjoyed writing them, and I like to think they represent the territory this blog covers.

Old Quilts Are Perennials features a very local quilt show with wonderful old quilts.

Not for the squeamish, Bits and Bobs offers an insider’s tour of the bric a brac jumbled in my mind.

In Modern Curves I review Angela Pingel’s A Quilter’s Mixology, which I consider one of the better quilt books of 2014.

What Happens After You Find Your Voice? explores my efforts to develop a unique style.

I do yet more navel gazing in The Difference Between Art and Craft and ponder where my work fits.

Since I love eye candy, I always enjoy revisiting A Must-See in San Diego, and the Nickols quilt collection.

With this post I’ll put 2014 in the done pile. I’ll tackle my plans for 2015 later this month.



Filed under Commentary