Monthly Archives: January 2016

Occasional Wednesday Salon

This episodic topic usually highlights the work of an art quilter. However, I decided some levity was in order. I found that quality in a quirky Florida quilter who uses a lot of vintage stuff and unusual embellishments.

I discovered Teddy Pruett at a recent Florida quilt show where she was doing appraisals.  Since I had no quilts with me I planned to bypass her booth, but my eye was caught by the three quilts hung behind her. Wait, are those Royal Crown Bags? What on earth is Sunbonnet Sue doing? Whoa, that scalloped border is bananas.

IMG_6884Church Ladies


IMG_6887The Salacious Secrets of Sam and Sue


Condoment Sue

IMG_6892Sock It To Me, Hot Lips

Check out Teddy’s website for more of her quilts. They are concrete evidence of her approach to quilting:

I have a particular desire to recycle the needlework made by unknown women who came before me.  Perhaps I love working with old used fabrics because I don’t want people to look at my quilts and say “Oh, I have that fabric!”  The truth is that I can’t bear to see someone’s hard work thrown away.  I use bits and pieces of anything made by hand – embroidery, crochet, aprons, etc., and  I recycle vintage yardage for the wonderfully mellow – and sometimes tacky – look.


Filed under Commentary, Quilt Shows

Just Grew, Like Topsy

I feel this way about some strips I sewed together after my strip paper piecing marathon. It seemed too much trouble to sort and return the strips to their bins so I joined them in groups of red, blue, and sort of magenta. For now it’s called “Primarily Color.”

StartPrimarily ColorTo brighten the units up I placed them on fat quarters of yellow and orange fabric. Then I tried to whittle them into shapes that were a bit more svelte.

PrimarilyColor1First I tried a color gradation with the background fabric. Nice idea but it didn’t work with the long strips.

PrimarilyColor2Then I tried bridging the stacks with strips.

PrimarilyColor3I dropped the bridges, connected the stacks more, and added more insets.

PrimarilyColor4The rotary cutter diet worked. The stacks now have waists.

I fused the units with Wonder Under to dark gray felt. From here my plan is to hand stitch, then trim the felt edges, and sew the whole thing to red felt with machine quilting.

That’s right – no batting. There will also be no binding as the edges of felt don’t need to be finished. I may do decorative edge stitching, depending on my mood. I saw an episode of Quilting Arts TV where Jamie Fingal showed how she uses felt instead of the usual stuff. I needed no convincing to adopt this short cut and hurried off to Joann’s to purchase wool blend felt that was on sale. Sorry, the craft felt won’t do.

Where does Topsy fit in? According to the Longman English Dictionary Online, Topsy is:

a small black girl character in the novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1851-52) by Harriet Beecher Stowe. When somebody asks her whether she knows who made her (that is, whether she has heard of God), she replies “I expect I grow’d” (=grew). People say something “just grew, like Topsy” when they are talking about something whose real origin is not known or about something that has gradually become very large.

I can’t say this project is very large (I think it will finish at about 30 by 38 inches) but I can attest that its real origin isn’t known. Possibly my subconscious knows.


Filed under In Process

Another Big Quilt

I thought that Yellow Jacket would be my last “big” quilt for a while. I was wrong. My strippy squares have grown into a 72 inch square quilt top. I really tried for color blending, beginning with a light center and working outwards towards darker colors, but I had to fudge the corners of the outmost square due to the limitations of my stash.



The change of direction in the strips on the inside was deliberate, just to mix it up. I spent a fair amount of time auditioning border colors before I settled on the gray/green batik and blue fabrics. I plan to use a dark teal for the binding.

ColorStrips4This one will be sent out for quilting. My shoulders aren’t up to wrestling it around my domestic machine. It was hard enough taking a picture of it. The backing is pieced with the largest hunks of fabric I own. No idea where this one will end up. It’s an excellent example of quilting rationalization – I already had all the fabric leftovers, so it’s a free quilt, right?


Filed under In Process

My Vacation in Ten Photos

Offer of free condo + cheap fare on nonstop flight = January vacation in Fort Myers.


lunchDixieFishView from Dixie Fish (San Carlos Island) at lunch.

LoversKey9Beach at Lovers Key State Park.

SWFQGshowquilt5Southwest Florida Quilters Guild show.

BowmansBeach3Bowman’s Beach, Sanibel Island.

IMG_6934Waterfowl, Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge.

TricoShrimpWhat’s for dinner? Shrimp from Trico Seafood.

6MileCypress4Six Mile Cypress Slough.


BarefootBeach10A modest residence near Barefoot Beach in Bonita Springs (NOT where we stayed.)

ToriiTracesDetailMy Florida hand stitching project.




Filed under Commentary, Inspiration

Cleaning Out My Bookmarks

After a frustrating search for a recipe I had bookmarked on my computer, I decided to do some sorting and tossing. In the process I found websites I had bookmarked with the notion of passing them along. Perhaps you’ll find them useful.

To wash or not to wash fabric for quilts is often discussed without any definitive answers. Here’s two articles on this issue. One, from Craftsy, gives tips for when to wash and how to wash for best results. The other, from That’s What She Sewed, reports shrink test results for fabric squares from 13 different manufacturers. There were surprising differences in shrinkage and fraying among the fabrics tested. I always wash my washable fabrics, mostly because I began my stash that way, and I don’t want to combine washed and unwashed. Also, I sometimes use old clothes, linens, and fabrics of unknown origin; and I have no idea what might be in/on them. That said, it probably makes no difference for wall quilts I’ll never wash.

Another aspect of textile care is vintage quilts. The Smithsonian’s Division of Textiles prepared a fact sheet on Victorian silk quilts. Vacuuming is the only way they recommend to clean them. They should be stored in a dry, dark area. So much for draping Aunt Clara’s crazy quilt over a chair.

Since quilters always moan about math, here’s a link to quilters’ reference cards you can print out. The most useful for me is the conversion from fractions of yards to inches, though the fractions to decimals card looks handy as well. I still remember how to do these conversions, but the calculator is kept downstairs and I’m lazy.

Of course I have to include a link to a small project, potholders for example. I like these instructions because you don’t have to bind the edges and you make a nice large hanging loop.

And just because, here’s a link to knitted botanicals. Never in a thousand years would I have thought of knitting a tiger lily. However, Tatyana Yanishevsky did.

KnittedTigerLilyTatyanaYanishevskyHave fun cluttering up your bookmarks.


Filed under Commentary, Techniques

So You Want To Sell Your Quilts

Another blast from the past. I wish I had found more insights to offer, but all I can suggest are personal websites and exhibiting your work. I want to note this post focuses on selling already made quilts, not commissioned pieces. Please let me know of any other paths to selling your work.

Original Post:

Many folks in the quilting world sell quilting services – hand and machine quilting, fabric, patterns – but fewer have set out to sell their quilts.  I know only one or two quilters who actively market their quilts and they are art quilters.

So, where would you go to sell your quilts?  There aren’t many places that sell just quilts.  New York City has a quilt gallery and towns in and around Amish communities often have quilt/fabric stores. Of course, those stores feature Amish quilts.  Luckily, the internet has opened up a vast marketplace, unfettered by your geographic location (unless FedEx, UPS and the like don’t serve your area.)  Unluckily, that vastness makes it hard to reach a likely audience for your quilts.

Since business people are quick to spot opportunity, websites that specialize in crafts markets have popped up. They serve as go-betweens, offering a “store” to display merchandise, web links for purchasing items, and other accoutrements of trade.  This can be a great boon to individual craftspeople who don’t have the expertise, time, and/or resources to do all that from scratch.  Of course, there are fees involved when you list your items, even if they don’t sell; and more fees and/or a percent of the sale price when you sell an item.

I’ve been learning about crafts e-tailing through Selling Your Crafts Online, by Michael Miller.  Since I don’t plan to start selling my quilts I skipped much of the fees information and the step by step instructions for setting up accounts, and concentrated on the online marketplaces. If you’re considering online selling this book seems like a good place to start, especially if you don’t want to create your own website. Some of the business and pricing strategy seems like business 101, but it never hurts to restate the obvious.

Like most crafters I knew about eBay, the behemoth of the business that sells any and everything, and Etsy, which is handmade crafts oriented.  However, Mr. Miller introduced me to Artbreak, Artfire, Artful Home, Artist Rising, Artspan, Bonanza, Craft Is Art, Crobbies, Funky Finds, Handmade Artists Shop, Handmade Catalog, Hyena Cart, Made It Myself, ShopHandmade, Yessy, and Zibbet.  Talk about A to Z!

eBay has page after page of quilt listings, but the offerings range from old quilts to ones made yesterday, with quilt tops and supplies thrown into the mix. Unless I were cranking out lots of similar baby quilts I wouldn’t use eBay to sell my quilts. Etsy lists many quilts in all styles and price ranges, though you’re more likely to find modern style quilts there.  I think Etsy is a better fit for many quilt makers, unless they create high end art quilts.

Only a few of the other sites listed quilts for sale at the time I checked them out. Artful Home displays gallery quality art and contemporary quilts. Craft Is Art has a few quilts for sale, mostly wall hangings and table runners. Handmade Artists Shop offers quilts that are craft, not art, oriented; as does Handmade CatalogYessy had a strange mix of quilts, many from one maker.  There sure are a lot of people trying to sell their crafts.

Time for me to have a cup of tea. I’m exhausted from that shopping trip, and I didn’t even take off my slippers.

11/15/2014 UPDATE

A reader of this blog has suggested that folks may want to check out the web services offered by Shopify, an e-commerce service, to sell their quilts. I have no experience with this outfit, so I can’t give any opinion. I do see that the basic charge for this service is $29 a month, plus a per credit card transaction charge. You can try it out for free, according to the website. My personal take is you’d want to compare costs with other online sales services to see what might work best for you. You’d need to have enough inventory to justify a recurring monthly charge for a “shop.”


Filed under Books

The Big Stitch

Since I’m on vacation someplace I hope is warm, I’m revisiting past posts that were popular. I’ve continued to use hand stitching on my work since I wrote this post on big stitching. Thanks to Felice Troutman,  I even learned the pekinese (or pekingnese) stitch. It’s the bright blue stitch below.


Original Post:

Recently I talked up big stitches for quilting and embellishment to my MQG. I am on record as a resolute embroidery avoider, so I realize this this an about face for me.  In my defense I’ll say that big stitch embroidery isn’t dainty and doesn’t use those blue stamped patterns.

What are big stitches?  In my definition, they are quilting and embroidery stitches on steroids, done with multiple strands of embroidery floss, perl cotton, crochet cord, or 12 or 30 weight thread.  And the stitching is often improvisational, made up on the spot, rather than pattern specific.

The photos below show parts of a pillow I made with techniques from Craftsy’s Stupendous Stitching class.  I used french knots, lazy daisies, fern stitch, and lots of running stitch combinations. These are nestled between decorative machine stitches and couched trims.

big_stitch1big_stitch2So, what about big stitch quilting?  I can tell you it goes a lot faster that “regular” hand quilting.  I use it as an adjunct to machine quilting to add texture and color, as on Neutrality and My February Fantasy below.  Here’s a short video made by Tim Latimer that shows how he does big stitch quilting.

neutrality_closeupMy-February-Fantasy-closeupI’ve been hesitant to use it as the only quilting for fear the perl cotton wouldn’t be strong enough to hold the layers together for the years I hope my pieces last. Also, even though big stitches take less time than conventional hand quilting, the technique still takes more time than machine quilting.

Here’s the way a friend used big stitches to add an intriguing border to her work.  It’s just weaving another color of thread through the existing stitches but it provides a great contrast.

Ks_ladiesI shared a few embroidery books with my guild that show all the cool effects you can get outside the world of traditional embroidery.

embroidery_booksbig_stitch_projectJenny Hart shows how flowers and leaves can be enhanced with some quick stitching. I can see using this to embellish a quilt.

Aneela_Hooey_workI’m in love with the leaves and cherries Aneela Hooey conjures up with lazy daisy and french knot stitches.  And the grass is done with a fern stitch.

Have you found ways to use big stitches on your quilted stuff, or some great thread/floss, etc.?


Filed under Techniques

Yet More Quilting Videos

I just received a post from the Modern Quilt Studio’s blog (I think it was reblogged by someone else) about Weeks Ringle and Bill Kerr’s venture into YouTube land. Ringle and Kerr run the Modern Quilt Studio, and are quilt designers, educators, and makers. Here’s a link to the videos available as of December 2015 . They cover inset circles, solids that work with many different prints, and their binding method.

I looked at the two binding method videos as Ringle and Kerr’s method is different from anyone else’s. They begin by cutting 2 inch WOF strips, joining them at 45 degree angles, and running them through a 1 inch bias strip maker. I learned a good way to mark solid strips so you can keep right and wrong sides straight. I also learned to cut my strip at an angle before I feed it through the bias tape maker.

The second video shows how they fold the strip in half and wrap it around the quilt edges. It gets sewn on with one seam. That’s the upside. The downside is there’s lots of pressing and you need to be accurate. If you watch the video, be sure to stick around for how to do the corners and the ends. Here’s one of their early quilts bound using this method. (The shine in the first photo is from light on the book.)


For some design and color tips I watched the videos on desert island solids chosen from Michael Miller’s cotton couture line. Ringle and Kerr selected teal and mud as terrific choices for a wide variety of prints and color schemes. They gave a disclaimer to the effect they received no promotional consideration from the company. However, they do sell the fabrics in their online store – at $2 more per yard than the other solids.









On the Modern Quilt Studio website the mud is described as a slightly desaturated brown and the teal as a deep teal.  Neither color would leap into your arms as you perused bolts at the quilt shop, yet both would be excellent in supporting roles.


Filed under Techniques