Monthly Archives: January 2017

I’ve Created A Monster

You may remember I planned to do scrappy piecing this year. My thought was a little bit each week, kind of an ongoing project. Well…

I now have one piece finished, one ready for quilting, and one almost done. They have been my passion for the past two weeks. Oh, I did some quilting on the birdies and the girls’ seascape, but I kept getting up from my sewing machine to tweak my designs a little bit more. This was so not my plan.

I’m puzzled how I created such different designs from my black/gray and yellow scrap bins. Two are rectangular while one has diagonals. I adopted an arbitrary rule that I had to go with the basic shape of the scrap, though I could trim it.

mostly-black-and-blue“Mostly Black and Blue” is Mondrian-ish with the pops of red and yellow. The mottled gray fabric is from my “Moonrise” quilt. I’ve enjoyed revisiting the leftovers from earlier projects.


“Getting Brighter” is still in progress as I keep adding little squares like stepping stones across the surface. I cheated and used yardage for the black speckled linen and gray and cream print areas. The photo’s angle is off as the piece is high up on my design wall.


“Pointing Toward Lavender” has the very last of some treasured McKenna Ryan and Lonni Rossi fabrics, plus hand dyed damask. I had issues with the damask stretching during quilting so I ended up starching that fabric heavily, which I should have done in the first place. Restitching the quilting after starching solved the problem, though I abandoned my idea to change line direction a lot.

Since this isn’t a piece I’ll be entering in shows I decided to try another facing method. I found that mitered facing corners aren’t the best method for me.  Better to learn that now.

I think I may make my scrap sewing a monthly, rather than a weekly, project. My trips to the fabric candy store obviously need to be rationed.



Filed under Art quilts, In Process

Around Here Week 3

If it’s January there’s usually snow on the ground. My street gets occasional visits from the city snow plow, but this day in early January we got only two inches of snow so we didn’t make the cut. Maybe there’s a quilting design in those tracks as seen from my sewing room. Or maybe the plumes of my neighbor’s grasses will inspire a surface design.



Filed under Inspiration, Project Ideas

The Girls Hit The Road

While I was creating their seaside environment the girls got bored and went on a road trip. They were shopping for a forever home and wanted to see what was on offer on my walls.

Since they were in the neighborhood, their first stop was a piece in progress on my second design wall. At first they thought they had stumbled into MOMA and wondered how that happened. When no one made them buy an expensive ticket they realized that they weren’t at MOMA but inside a creation from my scrap bins.


After getting lost in black and yellow corridors that led nowhere the girls escaped and decided to try another floor. When they saw fish they thought maybe their seaside dream had become real, but swimming with the fishes wasn’t what they had in mind, so they surfaced and headed back upstairs.


Some time had passed since they last saw their design wall. The girls were thrilled to notice a new landscape with sky, a beach, and an ocean. There were even fluffy clouds in the sky. Since their feet were hot and tired from all those steps they waded into the water and wiggled their toes in the sand.

girls-at-seaI thought the girls were finally happy, but now they keep asking me what they’re supposed to be looking at. And could there be more waves. Sigh.




Filed under Art quilts, Commentary, In Process

Around Here Week 2

My mother in law gave me this cut glass piece many years ago. She treasured it as one of the few “good” formal dining pieces she owned, along with the dark mahogany dining room table and chairs. I use it to hold small glass ornaments at Christmas, which explains why I had the dish out. I’d love to quilt the pattern somehow.




Filed under Inspiration, Project Ideas

Look At The Birdie

My paper pieced birds project has moved right along. I’ve completed the quilting, and only binding it remains. I got tired of paper piecing the birds, so I stopped at 23. I placed 22 of them on stylized branches and reserved one for a label.

My original inspiration was this quilt which introduced me to the McCall’s Quilting bird pattern.

paper pieced birdsMy quilt doesn’t have quite the same modern feel, but I was going with scraps and some Fossil Fern fabric in blue. I tried a layout with just straight branches but felt my birds needed to be a bit more grounded (or treed.)

birds5You can see I’m trying to branch out from the birds’ perches.

Ultimately I ended up with this. The quilting is a chevron pattern done with a walking foot.


Right after I quilted my birds I saw the wall below on a trip to my local grocery store. Maybe the image wormed its way into my subconscious, but I could swear I never noticed the pattern before.




Filed under Completed Projects, Modern Quilting

Around Here Week 1

“Write what you know” is the advice often given to would be writers. Quilt what you know is the advice I’m giving myself. And what I know is what surrounds me every day in and outside my house. I’ve started to capture the quotidian bits of my life with my camera with the notion some of the results will spark a quilt idea or two.

Now I’m not talking about artfully composed photos. Instead, I’m going for photos taken of odd subjects, often at weird angles, caught on the fly.

Why? I learned a lot from the last prompt of my master class, which was to design a quilt from decidedly uninspiring photos. I find that I try to duplicate beautifully composed photos, but have no problems riding roughshod over tourist snaps. If a photo is already a work of art I can’t seem to figure out how to extract anything from it.

So, each week I plan to post an inspiration shot. Here’s the first, of our freshly shoveled driveway as seen from my sewing room. My husband is a precise shoveler. I did apply the black and white setting on my camera to bring out the pattern. I see a possible fabric design in it.





Filed under Art quilts, Inspiration, Project Ideas

New Projects For The New Year

Besides my carry forwards from 2016 I have new projects to work on in 2017. Only one has a deadline so I have lots of rope with which to hang myself.

The project with a deadline is for my traditional quilt guild. Typically we have a challenge due each year in March to celebrate our Founders Day. This year’s features songs by the Beatles. We signed up for a song from a list. No more than four people could choose the same song. I had no competition for my choice, “Paperback Writer.”

My plan is to recreate the cover of a pulpy paperback. The research will be fun, as such covers often feature dames in deshabille, guns, and square jawed PIs. I just hope we won’t be called on to sing our choices. Here’s a few of my inspiration book covers. I do hope George F. Worts is a pen name.

kill-me-a-little 01-octavus-roy-cohen-theres-always-time-to-die-i-love-you-again-pop-lib050 overboard

Another, much more open ended project is to print/paint/stitch on the silk screen prints I made with thickened dye. The first layers need more, so I hope subsequent layers will improve them.

As a corollary to that project, at the end of May I plan to take a course from Sue Benner at the Quilt Surface Design Symposium in Columbus, Ohio. This will be five days of dye painting and printing. To quote: “Bold and expressive use of Procion MX dyes is the goal of this workshop. Sue teaches her layered painterly approach using direct application, mono-printing, and various other techniques. Emphasis is also placed on developing sophisticated color combinations, using interesting tools, along with adding touches of metallic and opaque fabric paints.”

That’s right, no sewing machine, all fabric creation; and a trip to the 2017 Quilt National exhibit thrown in.

I may also make up some of the sketches I did for my master class. Which sketches may be a function of the fabrics I create. After all, I’ll want to take them out for a spin.

Among the possibilities are:


Elizabeth suggested I darken the road in the background and make the other background colors paler, especially the browns, so they aren’t the darkest values. I found subtlety is difficult with crayons.


Here Elizabeth suggested I crop the image to make it less symmetrical and use subtle color changes so it isn’t matchy-matchy. She really doesn’t seem to care for symmetrical designs.

april-jmm-sketch-2a-resizedThe only advice here was to make sure the water is on a flat plane. It would be the last piece in my salt marsh series, and would represent summer.


Elizabeth liked this dominant color sketch which I would work up in blacks, whites, and grays for an urban feel.

The only other project I have in mind is a vest made of various silks I’ve collected. I have a loose fitting, lined pattern, but need to figure out which silks to back with interfacing. Some of the pieces are quite thin. It will be like doing a crazy quilt. Wow, I haven’t sewn any clothing for myself in decades.

Do you have any plans, quilt-wise, for 2017? If so, I’d love to hear about them.


Filed under Art quilts, Commentary

A Scrappy New Year

For 2017 I’ve been mulling over the advisability of a recurring project. Some quilters embroider a weekly leaf, while others do a daily sketch or photo. It’s a way to keep one’s hand in, creatively, and to have a project that can be completed quickly or is portable.

I’ve thought about a weekly collage, as I’ve been collecting pictures from magazines. I’ve also thought about a weekly shape created from my small scraps boxes. To clarify, I have boxes for large and small scraps. These are separate from my fabric strips boxes. Almost all my scraps are roughly sorted by color and size. Some of you may know Victoria Findlay Wolfe’s 15 minutes of play approach to making new fabric from scraps. No pressure, just sew.

To try out a scrappy regular project I spent the day after New Years sewing small scrap bits together. My session was supposed to last only about 30 minutes, but I didn’t come up for air until 4 hours had passed. And that took me only through my black and yellow scraps.


Here are my yellow scraps sorted by value and the scraps I finally was able to part with in the trash.

yellow-and-blackI started in separate black and yellow color groups, but then began to combine them. I have nothing in mind, but will replenish my parts department.

I can see where such a side project could take over all my time unless I exercise much self discipline. It’s all the fun and none of the headaches of patchwork. Have any of you tried such daily/weekly tasks?


Filed under Commentary, In Process, Inspiration

Carryovers From 2016

While I’d love to say I’ll begin 2017 with a clean slate, quilt-wise, I can’t. A few pieces I began in 2016 just lost momentum or are awaiting inspiration as to the next step. We won’t talk about the pre-2016 unfinished stuff.

Closest to completion is my “Mean Streets,” made for my master class assignment on lost and found edges.

mean-streets-piecedI need to crop this a bit, and then figure out how to quilt it. Since the fabrics are a mix of damask, linen, netting, and silk organza, I think I’ll need to back it with a stabilizer like crinoline.

Then, there are my girls gone mild. The angle of the photo is askew; they are better proportioned than this.

img_8612I drew these from a photo of young ladies at a southeast Asia tourist site, and then clothed each with scraps. They are meant to stand in the shallows of a lake or ocean and look back at something in the sky, possibly a hot air balloon. Making them was fun, like paper dolls, but I haven’t yet worked out the landscape around them. I need to piece and quilt the background before my girls can get their feet wet.

While I have some inkling about how to handle these two, after this I’m on uncertain ground. My paper pieced birds are cute, but I seem to work on them only at an annual retreat so only 15 are done.

three little birds“Winter Fields” needs to be quilted, but it’s large for me to tackle with FMQ. Maybe I can do the basics with my walking foot and then add FMQ flourishes.

WinterFieldsInProgressOh, then there’s “Transgendered,” which is sewn together, but I’m not happy with a few of the pinks in the upper right corner, and I’ll need to shop for alternatives.

transgendered-piecedI’ll need to have this one done by a long arm quilter, given its 56 by 60″ size.

Those are just the pieces of any size. A few little pieces are tucked away in drawers. Out of sight, out of mind?

My first question for 2017 is, when do you decide to pull the plug on a quilt that’s not working?


Filed under Art quilts, In Process