Monthly Archives: April 2016

Z Is For Zoom

Before I took an unplanned hiatus from quilting I pieced and machine quilted a small quilt based on a sketch that was meant to depict movement. I’m finally getting back to it, trying to complete the hand stitching part.

My original idea, based on a graphic design, was this.

Z is for Zoom sketch

That morphed into this.

Z is for Zoom quilting

No, I didn’t set in those acute angles. I made two strata of stripes and then figured out my angles to cut and sew chevrons.  The process was a bit tricky as I was dealing with extreme bias once I made the cuts, but tender handling seemed to reduce stretching.

For reasons I’m now not clear on I chose wool batting. I think I supposed it would be easy to hand stitch, and it is, but it’s also very puffy which creates lots of relief. I’ll have to see how it looks in different lights.

I spent a fair amount of time selecting my hand sewing threads. My original plan was to use complementary colors, but I thought that looked flat and I threw in the jade green with the orange. I don’t know yet how much stitching I’ll do. That’s a wait and see issue. So far I have three groups of four lines each. They are much subtler than the bold horizontal stripes. Thoughts and opinions are welcome. I also welcome opinions as to whether to face or bind it.

Z is for Zoom hand quilting



Filed under In Process, Techniques

Focus: Fiber Exhibit

I’m lucky to live an easy drive from the Kent State University Museum. Since the museum is allied with the university’s fashion school almost all the exhibits involve fiber of some sort, especially clothing.

I did see two lovely clothing exhibits on my last visit – 1920s fashions and the wrong sides of garments – but I want to talk about the Textile Art Alliance’s juried exhibit called Focus: Fiber 2016.

The show encompassed pieces made by weaving, basketry, felting, and quilting; all meant as works of art rather than functional pieces. It was fun to get into the 3D possibilities of fiber, as most quilts exist only in two dimensions.  Here are two overall shots of the exhibit. In the first, the large sculpture is by Betty Busby, as is the egg shaped hanging piece just to its right.

FocusFiber2016Focus Fiber 2016I had a good time figuring out how this woven tapestry piece was constructed.

Winchester_Breaking-Out-780x300Here’s another woven piece that caught my eye. It’s kind of traditional, but I like how the weaver made a border around it.

FocusFiber2016wovenAmy Meissner had two pieces in the show. Both incorporated old linens and hand embroidery in a way that doesn’t look hokey. You can read her descriptions of these pieces on her blog.


AmyMeissnerGirlStoryFinally, here’s a work by Maria Shell that’s traditional at first glance, but cut without a ruler.

this-quilt-is-technotronic_cafe Maria ShellSince photography wasn’t allowed at the exhibit, I’ve scrounged images from the internet. There were many other works I spent time examining, but I couldn’t find images of them.


Filed under Art quilts

Cautious Optimism and Spring

I’ve been sewing again for a week, carefully restricting the amount of time with my machine. It seems to be paying off as my arms feel better. Of course, my improved health could also be due to the warm weather we’re finally getting. With age my body is turning into a weather forecasting system. My sinuses ache with any change in barometric pressure and my joints foretell cold weather. Yes, I can feel it in my bones.

Speaking of spring, I decided to devote my April master class landscape to spring colors. Even though I submitted four sketches, I blocked out a linear, abstract landscape from a quilt I’ve made twice already.

I used Ruth McDowell’s freezer paper template method, so the paper edges will be my sewing guide for a pieced quilt. What’s shown below is the reverse of the scene. After I took the photo I cut out the individual pieces and ironed them to fabric. Each template is numbered and the top is marked. I drew tick marks in different colors to help me line up the pieces for sewing.

Pattern for Marsh in Spring

Here’s the photos of the two almost identical versions I submitted, followed by Elizabeth’s comments. I will make the minor modification she suggests.


It’s beautiful…and definitely very spring like.  I do like the little accent down on the bottom right and then the great stretch of viridian out to the horizon – lovely.
Definitely  the bottom one..I think the darker green/brown adds a little more weight – everything else looks really good…though I puzzle over the strange house or muffin shape on the upper right – I don’t think you need it…I would just let the blue fabric flow through to the side.  The scale of it feels wrong somehow.   Yes I like McDowell’s piecing – well anybody’s piecing really…anything can be worked out.  she was a great master at using value with all the patterned commercial fabrics.”

I think it will finish around 16 inches by 32 inches. This makes the third in a series of landscapes I’ve made based on tidal salt marshes in Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia. Only summer remains.



Filed under Art quilts, In Process, Techniques

Gilding Some Weeds

In my latest effort to quilt without quilting I played around with old free motion quilting practice pieces that were underwhelming to begin with, figuring I had no worries about ruining them. I found them when I sorted through my stash of made objects to see which needed a new home. I pulled out paint and paintstiks to gild these weeds in hopes of improving them.

Occasionally I try to work with pastels and the typewriter piece is an example of why I don’t use pastels more often. I just don’t get them. Anyway, I thought some letters would go with the typewriters. I used fabric paint and large letter stencils I had.

FMQ improv with word

For another failed pastel FMQ piece I rubbed a paintstik over the lighter areas. I like how highlighting the quilting gives the insipid yellows and pinks more depth.

FMQ improv

When I washed the pieces I found that I must have used all cotton batting as they took on serious crinkling. I may hang the QUILT one on the door to my studio or donate it to my guild for the refreshments table. I know it’s completely machine washable. The other one may await a lover of pastels.


Filed under Fabric Printing, Techniques

Technology To The Rescue?

My quilting has slowed to a crawl this past month due to my arm/hand issues. I’ve tried to experiment with alternative ways to work with fabric that don’t involve sewing. After some fabric painting and stamping (the fabric, not my feet) I got around to digital fabric creation.

Oh my, I think I’ve found my next time waster. I decided to create a special fabric for an upcoming occasion using Spoonflower. Two clicks and I saw my first design on the screen. I won’t show that one to you, as it’s a surprise, but I can show you other designs I developed.

Using either photos I’ve taken or scans of fabric I’ve made I came up with the following:

This winter’s amaryllis in a fat quarter size (mirror image).


A bug tunneled log, mirror image, fat quarter size.


My backlit string pieced top, arranged in tiles and then mirrored. The first image is fat quarter size; the second is a yard.



Then, I played with a piece of crinoline I had sewn tucks into and painted. The first image is the orginal, the second fat quarter size, and the third is a yard.




As you can see, I’m enamored of the mirror image effect. Remember making butterflies that way in school? You get different effects when you change the size of the fabric, which ranges from a small sample to a yard.

I haven’t ordered anything yet as I may want to edit my photos more before I have them printed. Change colors, fuzz out edges – whatever I can do with free editing software. But it’s all so much fun.


Filed under Fabric Printing, In Process, Techniques

The Great Outdoors

For April my master class assignment is landscape. We were encouraged to explore the possibilities in the ordinary but I, like many of my classmates, relied on vacation photos for inspiration.

My four (I recycled an earlier sketch) drawings received a somewhat measured response from the teacher, but I now have some pointers for improving them. I will say that many of us seem to have struggled with the abstracting part of this assignment. We were to reduce the landscape to five or six large shapes and talk about what we eliminated and rearranged. I understand the reasons for doing this, but I know my sketches will need to be revised at least two more times to achieve that.

My first sketch and its inspiration – Cape Kiwanda, Oregon:

APRIL JMM sketch 1 source Cape_Kiwanda_Oregon APRIL JMM sketch 1 resized
this is a difficult one….you’ve got, basically, a big black hole in the middle of the page – there are a couple of dark bits but they’re not really connected to the rock..I think it’s a really difficult subject to make an interesting landscape from.    Take a little time to surf the ‘net and see if there are any solutions to this kind of image that really work.
Now the sea itself is very nice…lots going on, lovely horizontal composition, good ranges of values…I’d be careful with the edge where the wave turns, it looks a bit strange and, of course, you wouldn’t want the shadow of the rock….but working just with the waves might the the way to go on this one…or you might find some solution on www that you could “steal”!!

I decided to try making the big rock a much lighter golden color and see if that eliminates the hole problem. I think the ocean just by itself would be boring.

Sketch 2 is of salt marshes near Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia. Since it’s a composite of several photos I won’t show any here.

APRIL JMM Sketch 2a resized

You’ve got some  good horizontal movement in this image…and a clear basic structure…be careful with the perspective of the river so that it definitely looks flat – water is always flat! –  but otherwise I think it will work well.

I will be using this subject, but am changing it to be much more abstract. I’ll report progress in upcoming posts.

Sketch 3 is from a cell phone photo of my downtown.

APRIL JMM sketch 3 source Market and HighJMM APRIL Sketch 3 resized

Looking below to the sketch I can see that you’ve cropped the edges of the photo which is good because there’s a lot in it.   Decide what is most important to it that light right in the center?

If so, I’d almost push even more into abstract…the two lights curving up – just make it a circle, by the way, and the buildings just indicated by the skyline.

But if it’s the buildings that are of most interest, then I think I’d remove the light for it is very strong and dominating.  Reading your description, it looks like the buildings are of less interest…so consider taking them to just rectangles and parallellograms  really emphasising those lights…bring the bottom ones up and make them a little more varied…crop a little more off the right…and perhaps even alter the ration of width to height!!  it would all be fun to do!

Sketch 4, recycled from the values assignment, is from Cape Breton.

APRIL JMM sketch 4 source Cape Breton APRIL JMM Sketch 4 resized

it’s a very symmetrical image ….you’ve drawn it out really well…and those greens in the photo are gorgeous.  I like the way you’ve kept the shadows…and I think you could exaggerate them even more.
But the symmetry makes the idea very static…decide which aspects of the landscape are most important to you, ignore all others (good move to remove the rocks and the stop sign!), and arrange the items in a more interesting way.  Once you’ve abstracted the “good stuff”, ignore the photo.
also I’d be careful with the dark shadow around the house which is about the same shape as the house…(even though it is like that in the photo) – I’d make it more continuous across the back, less lumpy, more landscapey.
It might also be fun to extract the colors using PSE, or simply taking the photo to the hardware store and matching to paint chips!! the colors are so lovely.

I think these are all good ideas for this scene, but who knows when I’ll get to it. Let’s see, if I create three sketches each month for 12 months and I decide I want to make up half of them, that gives me 16 quilt ideas. Oh dear.


Filed under Art quilts, In Process, Project Ideas

Photo and Fabric

The April assignment for my local art quilt group was a 9 by 12 inch piece that incorporated a photo. Since my printer is not to be trusted with any of the fabrics designed to run through a printer, I decided to sew a color photo to fabric.

I photographed the sunflower at our Badlands stop, and had it printed with other vacation photos for my husband. Because the background of the photo features The Notch (hike the trail vicariously with this video) I decided to use it as my subject. As my overall theme is openings, that fit nicely.

Badlands flowers 3I went through several steps before I was satisfied.

DD Notch1DD Notch3

Below is my final version. It needs only an edge finish.

DD April NotchAs always, I raided my scraps. The photo is printed on heavy weight photo paper, so it can withstand judicious stitching. I suspect such a mounting method isn’t archivally sound but this a practice sketch.


Filed under Art quilts, Completed Projects, Techniques

Shopping With The Sewistas

I spent April fools day booth sitting at the Original Quilting and Sewing Expo held at the I-X Center in Cleveland, Ohio. First, I gave out information about the October 22 Mutton Hill Quilt Show sponsored by the Summit County Historical Society, and finessed answers to questions about how to launder old woven coverlets.  I urged caution. Then, I moved to the SAQA booth to talk up the Celebrating Silver exhibit on display and SAQA membership.

While the expo had quilt exhibits and many classes, the meat of the event was shopping. I skipped all the machinery heavy and twee applique pattern booths to concentrate on unusual fabric displays. Vogue Fabrics had bolts of garment fabrics. I admired many, but didn’t partake. Another vendor featured garment woolens, something hard to find nowadays.

I was tempted by, but didn’t succumb to, unique garment patterns. Many were designed to cover figure flaws associated with over abundance of flesh. I thought those styles might overwhelm me, plus the prices started at $20. When raw materials and my time are factored in, the cost seemed too steep. It’s back to the consignment shops for me.

I parted with money for fabric scrap bags at SewBatik and Laura Murray. The latter had bags of kimono silk scraps that had been overdyed. While pawing through my booty I realized that I love scraps because the intimidation factor is gone with them. Give me 2 yards of pristine fabric and I’ll hold onto it for years for fear of “ruining” it. Scraps are leftovers and my thrifty upbringing impels me to use them for something.

Imagine yourself in a sea of determined women bent on the best bargains and the latest specialty rulers, watching demos of various arcane products. And not just sewing products. Vendors hawked jewelry, replacement windows (really,) lotions, and back pain relief. When classes let out the sea became a tidal wave, and lines to the bathroom wound around the escalators. For reasons that may lie in the building’s original incarnation as a Ford assembly plant, the most obvious ladies room had only three stalls, though there was room for three more. Tucked away in a back corner was a much more spacious, and empty, ladies room. You found it if you took the time to seek out the quilt displays around the perimeter of the sales floor.

Except for some modern quilts from the latest QuiltCon, the quilts were displayed away from the hubbub which was nice for viewing them. I see from the program there were 12 exhibits, but I recall only Along the Spice Route, Fall Leaves Quilt Challenge, Summit County Historical Society, Modern Quilt Guild, and Celebrating Silver. These exhibits were well worth seeking out.

Since I spent three hours looking at them, I’d like to share some of my faves from Celebrating Silver. First, here’s the Jennifer Day piece that garnered the most attention.

JenniferDaySAQAI admire the skill that went into this piece, but find the subject cloying. Now for some palate cleansers.

SAQA Celebrating Silver


These silver miners were formed with cheesecloth and many other materials.

Moonshine-300x291 Elena Stokes

This kimono-like piece by Elena Stokes is serene and minimalist.



Filed under Art quilts, Commentary

Print It

Even though I can’t sew I can still play with fabric. I have a collection of small pieces of dyed, painted, and otherwise already mucked up fabric that I decided to add to in hopes I could make some silk purses from sows’ ears. Out came stencils, thermofax screens, and homemade stamps; along with fabric paints.

My silk purse success rate was about 50%, but I spent an enjoyable few days pretending child’s play was adult work.

I like the results I got from a large stencil of numbers.


I improved thermofax screened prints of weeds.


I added more layers to previously stamped cloth with yarn wrapped around a piece of cardboard.


I made some murky pieces which I won’t waste your time on. Now if could just get my husband out of the house long enough so I don’t get caught sewing.


Filed under Fabric Printing, In Process