Monthly Archives: February 2015

California Dreaming

If all goes as planned I’ll be in Monterey, California, when you read this. My big splurge of 2015 is to attend a workshop by Jeannette Meyer at the Empty Spools Seminar.

I’ll be painting silk organza and creating transparent layers. Oh, I plan to do lots of hiking and ocean gawking, as well.

Talk to you in March.



Filed under Commentary

Digital Fabric Printing

2015 may be the year digital fabric printing becomes huge in the quilting community. I’m basing this prediction on the increased availability of commercial and DIY digitally printed fabric.

I realize that quilters have been printing photos on fabric for a while, though I’ve seen the method used mostly for family photos. I confess that the results haven’t really wowed me, so I never attempted it. Besides, my home printer is temperamental, and I didn’t want to ruin the expensive specially treated sheets of fabric with malfunctioning color ink nozzles.

Of course the art quilt community took to digital printing on fabric a few years ago, to judge from entries at Quilt National.

A year or so ago I learned about Spoonflower, an online service that allows you to design and print your own yardage. You can also purchase yardage designed by others. This is a step up from 8.5 by 11 inch pieces of fabric.

Then, I found that fabric manufacturers are offering digitally printed yardage. Here’s a selection offered at eQuilter. Some of the fabrics could make me give up dyeing/painting my own.

For now, I have one digitally printed bit of fabric to play with. A photo taken by my brother was Photoshop enhanced by a fellow quilt guild member and printed on a June Tailor inkjet fabric sheet as part of a program on digital fabric printing. Here it’s resting on top of some hand dyed damask I thought of using with it.

photo on fabric

I’m getting glimmerings of possibilities here. A favorite piece of dyed or painted fabric could be replicated. That 1/4 yard of no longer available fabric needed to complete a quilt could be scanned and printed digitally. Piecing could be eliminated totally by creating a unique “cheater” panel. I may never have to piece again.




Filed under Commentary, Techniques

Hazy In Focus

I’ve just finished the boring, hand sewing bit of the facings on A Hazy Shade Of Winter, so I declare it done, even though it lacks a hanging sleeve.

Using a walking foot I quilted in a ghost tree. It’s outlined in 12 weight purple thread and filled in with curvy bark. I quilted the spaces between the branches with straight rows of stitching done in 40 weight variegated gray thread. I love how the texture under my fingers reminds me of tree bark.

Hazy 1I hope these detail photos show the quilting better.

Hazy detail 1

Hazy detail 2

I considered two other quilting designs – echoing around each column of trees and running angular oblique lines from side to side. After drawing these out on photos of the quilt I decided on the ghost tree.

The fabric on the back is one I’ve been trying to use for years. I love it, but it wouldn’t play with anything else. I like to think it gives an intimation of spring. The label is an extra block.

Hazy back

Technical details: it is 27 by 38 inches, and is finished with a facing.


Filed under Completed Projects

It’s The Little Things

Do you enjoy burying your thread ends after quilting? If you do, please stop reading this and give me your address so I can send you some work.

If you also find this a wearisome chore, have you tried the method shown in this video by Grace Howes? As is often the case, this technique has many mothers. Robbi Joy Eklow first blogged about it, then Grace decided to make a video to show how it works. I stumbled upon it after I struggled to bury some very short thread ends and decided to consult the internet for solutions.

Up to now I’ve tied a square knot in my thread ends, threaded the ends onto a large eye needle (many people use a self threading needle), and then pushed the needle in very close to where the threads exit and out of my quilt back about an inch away. I cut off the thread ends even with the back and rubbed the area with a fingernail to hide any hole.

This method worked fine as long as my ends were a few inches long. However, sometimes the ends were really short – maybe an inch long.

The genius of the Eklow/Howes method is you make a thread loop by putting both ends of a 6 to 8 inch long thread through a needle’s eye, insert the needle into the place where the threads to be buried exit the quilt and then push the needle back out about one to two inches away from the insertion point. Don’t pull the loop through yet. First, shove the quilting thread ends into the loop and pull them into the quilt’s interior by gently tugging the needle until the loop comes out. Clip those thread ends close to the back and save that needle already threaded with a loop for the next time.

I know it sounds complicated, but it really works. And if you’re careful, you only have to thread a needle once. My apologies if I’m the last to learn this technique.



Filed under Techniques

Another Quilt Finished

Oh goody, I have a quilt completed in February – my landscape that’s been in the works almost all of 2014. It began with a photo I took in 2012 of the tidal salt marsh beside the Annapolis Royal gardens in Nova Scotia. The photo isn’t much, but I loved the tall gate that divided the marsh from the gardens.

I’ve dragged this project through online courses on series and landscapes, and have plans to do the same landscape at different times of the year.

Tidal_marshI used Vikki Pignatelli’s turned under curved edge method for most of it, with fused raw edge applique for the grasses and gate. It is free motion quilted (just don’t look too closely at it) and finished with Gloria Loughman’s binding method. It’s described in her book Radiant Landscapes.

Tidal_marsh_detail_left_sideLeft side of landscape

Tidal_marsh_water_skyWater and sky

Tidal_marsh_detail_right_sideRight side

Tidal Salt Marsh, Annapolis Royal, finished size 14.5 by 32 inches.


Filed under Completed Projects

Starch And Your Quilts

Quilters seem to divide into two camps regarding the behavior of their quilts in progress. One camp revels in serendipitous accidents as the quilt reveals what it wants to become. The other believes the quilt should submit to the plan.

One key ingredient to quilt discipline is starch used at several stages of quilt making. Paper piecers who like to work with those sliver sized pieces starch their fabric to cardboard consistency. Jacquie Gering starches her tops and backings before quilting to ensure all the seams and surfaces are flat. And Sharon Schamber, who must be out of room for all her Best of Show ribbons, surely owns stock in a starch manufacturing company. She uses it for applique, on bindings and for blocking quilts.


If you want to see how Sharon uses starch, check out her videos. Here’s what I’ll call her introduction to starching. She uses heavy starch, sprays one side, turns the fabric over, and presses the other side. Then she does this five more times to make sure the fabric won’t fray when appliqued.

The same starching technique gets a work out in Sharon’s quilt blocking video, though she doesn’t spray five times. After watching this video I felt like such a slapdash quilter and utterly lacking in quilt discipline. No quilt would dare retreat to its pre-blocked shape after Sharon gets done with it.

Sharon emphasizes the use of starch rather than sizing. She says Best Press is actually sizing and shouldn’t be used where starch is needed. Unlike many quilters I’m not a fan of Best Press. The perfume used makes me cough (I had bought the scented kind) and the price seems high. If you’re worried about starch flaking, try using a pressing cloth or flipping the fabric over before pressing.

Diane Gaudynski, free motion quilter extraordinaire, makes her own starch. Here’s her recipe and method. She starches to prevent fabric distortion.

I gather quilters have strong opinions about whether or not to starch. Here’s a link to a discussion of pros and cons on Craftsy. I wash all my fabrics shortly after purchase, mostly because I mix old and re-purposed fabric with quilting fabric. I have come to use starch more in quilting, especially in projects that involve bias edges.

My chief worry about using starch is that over time (and I mean years) starch left in a quilt will attract bugs and even rodents that will nibble holes. I wash my quilts after they’re done to prevent this. Besides, I like the crinkly feel washing imparts. But I’m at a loss for the quilts that can’t be washed. Any ideas?

Update: According to here’s how to prevent that white stuff:

Q: Spray starch sometimes leaves a white residue on clothes and starch build-up on the iron. How can I prevent this?

A: Use two light applications rather than one heavy one. Use too much starch and it has no place to go, so it ends up on the bottom of the iron or on the fabric surface. You can also spray an entire garment before ironing, and roll it up for about 30 seconds before ironing, so the fabric has time to absorb the starch.


Filed under Commentary

So I Entered A Quilt Show

After swearing off quilt show entries in 2014, I began 2015 by submitting a quilt to a regional show at Lake Farmpark in Kirtland, Ohio. Entries to this show are self selected, rather than juried, and it usually gets about 200 quilts in a variety of styles.

The other day I found out my entry, Ripples In Still Water, won honorable mention in the art quilt category. Of course, that made me happy.

Ripples_in_Still_Water_2014I made it for the “fluidity” challenge of a small art quilt group I belong to. I began with improvisational curved piecing and lots of steam pressing. Narrow curved inset strips, ribbon, and organza overlays followed.  You can see some of this in the detail photo below.

Ripples_in_Still_Water_detail1It’s meant to loosely represent my view of the urban Cuyahoga River as it flows under a footbridge near my house.

Lest I get too big a head about this ribbon, my husband’s remark when I showed the finished product to him was, “Of course it’s an art quilt. It says so right on it.”


Filed under Art quilts, Completed Projects

The Finalists

I feel like I’m running a TV elimination show with this modern drunkards path quilt layout. Too bad there’s no food involved.

Anyway here are my finalists. Two I’ve posted already; the third is new.


Commenters felt the above two layouts complemented the modern feel of this design.

The new layout is a random one that sprinkles the four different neutral fabrics around.

random 1 layoutWhile I dither over this top I am finishing up other projects, and have just finished my landscape.


Filed under In Process