Tag Archives: scrap quilts

Wish I Was Here

I always have a list of quilts I want to make, but sometimes a rogue slips into the queue. Recently as I fossicked through my quilts and scrap parts I came across a 12 by 12 inch square sewn together scraps part that said beach to me.

I combined that square with scrap strips, an ancient fat quarter of unknown origin, painted color catchers, and organza scraps. I also used special leftover strips from a gift of painted fabric. My goal was to convey the feeling of hazy brightness I’ve experienced at the beach, not necessarily a beach landscape.

“Wish I Was Here” 16 by 20 inches

Here’s how I began.

I decided the painted fabric stabilizer was too blobby (that’s a word, right?)
Then I added organza and decided I needed more of it.

I finished the edges with a sparkly rat tail that hinted at sea glass to me. All the quilting and edging was done with 40 weight cotton thread.

The colors keep changing according to the light, just like the beach.

I’m linking to Off The Wall Friday.


Filed under Art quilts, Completed Projects

The Final 5%

I know I’m not the first creator to feel the finishing touches of a work are the hardest to do. After the heady rush of creation and then the sometimes frustrating sewing, ripping out, redoing, and quilting steps, the last bits of edge finishing and hanging sleeve making can get put off. Sometimes they can be postponed a long while. As for labels, I write the quilt’s title, my name, and the year of creation on the backs. I admire beautifully embroidered labels, but done is better than pretty.

I have been forcing myself to do those last bits within six months of finishing a piece. Some of my earlier work has never been displayed because I never made a hanging sleeve. Over the years I’ve forced myself to fix that defect, but there are still some pieces without sleeves. They may stay that way as they are large works, and I can rationalize that they are lap quilts and don’t need sleeves.

Over the past two weeks I have totally finished three quilts. Two had been quilted months ago with binding strips cut, but left hanging in the closet. The third I managed to get faced within a month of quilting it.

“Homage to Escher” 21.5″ wide by 41″ high

I chose the darker fabric for the upper left triangle as it better reflected my mood following current events. All the quilting was done with my walking foot.

The other two quilts were made in Florida last winter. After I did basic walking foot quilting and bound them, I washed them to get a lovely crinkly texture.

“August” 26″ square

“March” 32″ wide by 33″ high

Both continue the month theme for what is now a quartet of quilts. Most likely I have enough scraps to make eight more, but I may fill in the remaining months with other already made quilts like “January Blues.” Now I have only seven more months to go.

“January Blues” 33″ wide by 24″ high

Speaking of finishes at long last, I want to share a photo of a years-in-the-making Dear Jane quilt. Jackie Vogel, its 92 year old maker, is proudly showing it off.

Jackie with her Dear Jane quilt

Sadly, Jackie has had a stroke and most likely will sew no more. Her family shared her fabrics and sewing supplies with local quilters, and I hope to put some of the fabric to good use. My visit to her overflowing sewing rooms convinced me to either finish projects or give away what I know I won’t get to.

I’m linking to Off The Wall Fridays.


Filed under Art quilts, Commentary, Completed Projects

A Peek Into My Past

Some art quilters seem to spring fully formed from the head of Nancy Crow (this makes sense only if you know Greek mythology.) Others have inched their way to the art part of quilting. I am definitely in the latter group. I was reminded of this fact as I sorted through photos of my old, pre-2014 quilts. Almost all were based on patterns, though I recall only one that came with already chosen fabric.

Since I had the photos up I thought I’d give you a show of my work before I became an “artist.” Most of the quilts shown below have been given away, so I can’t take better pictures of those that weren’t well photographed. Thank heavens for photo editing software.

Since making a bed quilt is a rite of passage, here are two I made. Both spent time on my bed, though not at the same time.

Made in 1989, this is still on my bed. I paid someone to hand quilt it.
I got the scrap quilt bug early. This one dates to about 2000.

I made a wall hanging to match the bed quilt above.

Donated for an auction.

I will try to present the rest of this special virtual exhibit in order of creation, but sometimes there was quite a gap between piecing and quilting.

From Mary Ellen Hopkins’ “It’s Okay To Sit On My Quilt.” I still love this quilt, especially all the different solid navies I used. Who knew there could be such variety. My fellow guild members were horrified.
One of the few flower quilts I’ve made came from a magazine pattern. The odd angle is because it hangs in a stairwell.
The most precisely pieced quilt I ever made. It was done in a Quilt University class called Press for Success. I dislike the color palette – too drab.
My first fused applique quilt, from a magazine. The bottom right umbrella was my touch. Also my first time quilting with invisible thread. Not pretty.
Farmer’s Daughter pattern made from family fabrics mixed with new.
Yet another magazine pattern, and very pastel for me. Major problems with alignment of blocks and quilting tension. I would have ripped out the stitching but it was so small. It needs much more quilting. The border was my idea.
I took a class on tumbling blocks and made this weird quilt. It was good practice in making a variegated background.
A Carol Doak paper pieced pattern I made up as a guild fundraiser. I cheated on the lighthouse with a striped fabric.
“Spooling Around” was made from a magazine pattern, again, and used a fat quarter batik pack. It hung above my work desk for a few years. I sure did like variegated rickrack.

The total absence of hand turned applique reflects my aversion to it. It takes far too long. I skipped other quilting rites of passage as well – no sampler quilt, no hand quilting, no red work or other embroidery, no quilted vest, no pumpkin and Santa wall hangings, etc. I see my color palette has remained constant. So has my love of scrappy quilts. I also see baby steps towards doing my own thing, with tweaks to patterns and unusual (sometimes downright odd) color/pattern combinations.

in 2008 I designed and made a piece I called My First Art Quilt.

I must have thought braid and bias strips were a must in an art quilt.

I continued to work in both traditional and nontraditional styles for a few more years, and still will not turn up my nose at a really good pattern, though I may take a few liberties.

I’m linking to Off The Wall Friday.


Filed under Commentary, Completed Projects

Sending Out An SOS

Last week I noted in passing that I was working on an improv quilt. This week I’m surprised to report that I’ve finished the design part of said quilt. The lengths I’ll go to avoid difficult projects never cease to amaze me.

As I’ve written before, I have lots of scraps. My latest improv work made me confront the extent of my scrap collections. Of course I have cotton scraps arranged by color, with separate piles for strips. But I also have scrap collections of silks, organzas, and fused fabrics. Then there are the bits and bobs I have been subjecting to surface design experiments. Oh, and the shiny costume bits, but they don’t count because they were given to me.

Since my hot off the design wall piece contains scraps from three of my collections (cotton, organza, fused) plus surface design experiments, I am calling it “SOS” for Save Our Scraps.

SOS, about 35″ high by 32″ wide

The common theme is circles: polka dot fabric, inset circles, circles on fabric, and appliqued circles. I hadn’t planned to add the appliqued circles, but I felt something more was needed once all the pieces got sewn (with partial seams no less.) It all began with a scrap fabric pull, as my usual way to begin improv quilts is with a color palette. After I embraced the circle theme of the print turquoise fabric, I framed two feather prints and turquoise painted white on white fabric using the 6 minute circle technique.

Once I decided on appliqued circles I pulled out my high tech templates and my fused scraps and got to work.

Good thing I stopped at three sizes

The backing is pieced and the batting cut. Now all I need is a quilting design. I’m thinking about overlapping circles or maybe one big one.

I’m linking to Off The Wall Friday.


Filed under Art quilts, In Process

Endless Scraps

Each week I toss out a few fabric scraps to reduce my collection. Most of my recent pieces are made almost entirely of scraps. Over the past two weeks I’ve put together three tops made of scraps and slapped fabric for another onto my design wall. Result? The scraps are winning. My color sorted boxes of scraps never seem to get emptier even though I’m not adding many new bits because I use mostly scraps. I suspect there’s a secret spell that transfers other quilters’ scraps to my boxes.

But I push on to use up those scraps. I decided each of my latest scrap creations must contain nothing but scraps (duh!), blocks sewn from scraps (I have a collection,) and photos printed on fabric. I also decided to use some techniques I learned in my From Sketchbook to Wall class.

Since it’s spring, allegedly, I began with pink and purple scraps and a highly distorted photo of begonia leaves. I fused the scraps onto acrylic felt and sewed around the raw edges. Then, I began to applique and embroider a la Tansy Hargan. I plan to embellish more once I figure out what to add.

Next, I moved to blues, purples, and grays and a more tailored look. The photo I used is left over from my shoes quilt. I fused the raw edge scraps to drill cloth and again sewed down the edges. There will be no hand work as that drill cloth is tough stuff. I went through way too many versions of the layout and have reached the point of declaring it done simply because I’m tired of it.

Next steps are up in the air, possibly stenciling or some other form of printing.

For a change I decided to sew my scraps together on the third piece and got into improv curved piecing. I was glad I remembered how to do the technique. The photo of spools of yarn was cut into four pieces which were scattered about.

This piece will actually have batting and backing, unlike the others.

Finally, I began to select scraps in the green and blue/green family for one or more pieces. Right now there’s no particular order to the scraps, though I think I may build circles with that one print fabric on the upper left. I wish I could tell you that deep thought goes into much of my work, but it would be a lie. Often I simply respond to colors.

And speaking of colors, I had to photograph this view of my house. My green house seems right for Earth Day.

I’m linking to Off The Wall Friday.


Filed under Art quilts, In Process

2021 Begins

At the start of each year I always wonder what I”ll make. Sometimes I have specific projects in mind; other times I am at the mercy of my whims. So far in 2021 I have worked on my January lines challenge and have completed two quilts conceived in 2020. For me it’s helpful to have carryover work so I don’t face the dreaded blank design wall.

Right now my design wall features a long stalled project that I have finally had a breakthrough on, thanks to Jane Dunnewold’s lecture series. I’m not ready to talk about or show it yet, so today I will focus on my two made mostly with scraps pieces, “High Summer” and “A Thin Blue Line.” Both are abstract color studies that I hope evoke a mood.

“High Summer” 25″ by 36.5″

About three-fourths of “High Summer” is made of fabric I’ve painted, constructed, or dyed. The rest is commercial fabric, including a chunk of Marcia Derse fabric in the lower left corner. I wanted to capture the deeper greens and sun soaked reflections of mid summer.

“A Thin Blue Line” 27″ by 33″

While Summer came together quickly, Line was subject to lots of changes after I thought it was done. Two days after declaring it finished I’d look at it and decide something wasn’t right. I’m still not satisfied with it, but I’ve done what I can after quilting and facing it. Yes, I was painting over areas as it hung on my wall, and I lopped off a few inches as I sewed on the facing. I wanted to create a spare piece with breathing room (why I thought that was possible with all the orange and pink is a mystery) and an illusion of depth, but I’ve managed to fussy it up. I hope the double blue line I quilted shows.

As an antidote to all that riotous color I put together a 12 inch square piece from the kind of neutrals Japanese quilters often use. I used a prompt from the SAQA seminar on color, which asks you to make same size pieces in colors you never use and in your usual colors. I didn’t bother with the latter as I think the pieces above cover my usual colors.

“Quiet Color” 12″ square

It killed me to make this. Humans have spent centuries searching out and perfecting rich, deep colors, so why shouldn’t I take advantage of all their work. A friend told me it was zen-like, certainly a quality I don’t possess.

As per usual, I’m linking to Off the Wall Friday.


Filed under Art quilts, Commentary

Self-Imposed Deadlines

Maybe this whole Covid thing is messing with my attitude towards making quilts. I just can’t handle a blank design wall, so the minute one top is sewn together and off the wall I begin a new design project. These aren’t carefully planned and thought through projects, but made by slapping up whatever I find in my scraps, especially my sewn together bits.

My latest project, “Pieces of My Quilts,” is made of 264 2 inch scrap squares plus vanilla colored organic cotton that has the loveliest hand. I don’t usually count pieces, beads, buttons, or whatever; but I did count the squares since I am on a mission to use them up. For over 10 years I cut 2, 2.5, and 3 inch squares from leftover fabrics at the end of projects and stored them by color. Blame Bonnie Hunter. I found a sucker recipient for my larger squares, but still had all those 2 inch ones. At least 150 are left.

The binding is made from binding scraps.

It wasn’t planned, but I detect a bias towards purple.

The plan, such as it is, is based on a quilt by Weeks Ringle and Bill Kerr that I saw on Instagram. Theirs uses much larger blocks.

I had fun choosing the backing from new fabric I bought. It, too, feels silky smooth, which seems usual with Art Gallery products.

I hope that I won’t show you yet another newly made quilt next week. I need to get back to my collages and their negative spaces. I’m cropping 20 mini collages now and will then enhance them with lines, etc. The medium is different but the concepts are the same.

I’m linking to Off The Wall Friday.


Filed under Completed Projects, In Process

Back To Business

Now that I have my save the planet message out of my system I’ll return to my usual programming. Lately I’ve been playing with additions to old surface design pieces and using up scraps and pre-assembled bits.

Thanks to an inspiring collage workshop with Andrea Myers I came away with renewed interest in my old surface design pieces and some ideas for adding layers on top of already made quilts.

First, I stamped over painted/printed interfacing to add a third (maybe fourth?) layer. I have many other pieces that may benefit from similar treatment.

Then, I used the outline of the squiggle from my Rex Ray embroidery to cut out a piece of red felt and cover it with fused fabric scraps. I will sew it, plus a few additions, on top of leftover pieces from my Nancy Crow project. I’m calling it “Oops.”

My idea comes from Andrea’s work with industrial strapping that she showed us at the workshop. I think “Oops” has some family resemblance to a sculpture made of railroad track I saw on NYC’s High Line.

Finally, I pieced a “real” quilt top from scraps, inspired by a blog post from Christina Camelli. I pretty much followed her directions, and enjoyed the on-the-fly creation of scrappy strips. You can see the size pieces I began with. The largest size unit I cut up was a fat quarter.

“Sunset” 48 by 65 inches

I believe I’ve followed my own advice about using what I already have, and feel virtuous. Now I need to get to work and use more of my surface design experiments.


Filed under Art quilts, In Process, Inspiration, Modern Quilting

Victoria Findlay Wolfe’s “Playing With Purpose”

I’ve been aware of Wolfe’s work ever since she won first place at an early QuiltCon for her deconstructed double wedding ring quilt. She began her career as an artist, but branched into quilting. Over the past several years she has designed fabric, opened a quilt store, taught classes, written books, and become an active presence on social media. With her most recent book, a retrospective of her work, I learned she also managed to make the 125 quilts shown, mostly since 2008, in addition to all her other activities. And these are mostly large quilts, easily 80 by 80 inches. My guess is she’s made at least 100 more quilts. She does have many of them quilted by others, but even so…

Most of her work is exuberant and lively, with lots of color and scrappy fabric. She often references traditional patterns, but will put a twist on them. Sometimes she serves tradition straight up. I’m showing a few quilts from the book that were new to me.

Wolfe tried out different styles before settling on what is now her signature. “Cheap Hotels” from 2010 uses a more minimalist approach without a block structure. It stands out in the book because there’s nothing else like it.

“Stripes, Plaids, and Polka Dots” is reminiscent of Gwen Marston’s work, with its bold zigzag border treatment. The stars and sashing are made with Wolfe’s 15 minutes of play technique, while the subdued stripes and plaids of the squares give all that busyness room to breathe. The different sizes of the background yellow/beige squares lend a casual air, while the polka dots capture the eye and direct it around the squares.

“Summer of Stars” works due to the ombre fabric surrounding the center star. I’d love to get my hands on some of it.

The following two quilts are great examples of how fabric choices and placement can change the look of a quilt. It takes an eye for abstraction to discern such possibilities.

While I don’t like every quilt in this book, I appreciate Wolfe’s willingnes to always try out an idea and use lots of different fabrics. She doesn’t let fear of “ruining” something stop her from pushing further. Her philosophy is: “You have to make ugly pieces and then learn from them. You have to make something that is just so fabulous that you look at it and think, Wow! I can’t believe I did that! For myself, the failure and the successes are equally valuable.”


Filed under Books, Commentary

The Square Deal Falls Apart

I think the term square deal gained popularity thanks to Teddy Roosevelt who said, ” When I say that I am for the square deal, I mean not merely that I stand for fair play under the present rules of the game, but that I stand for having those rules changed so as to work for a more substantial equality of opportunity and of reward for equally good service.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Square_Deal

The words fair, honest, just, and equitable are used in many definitions of the term. However, my square deal began with cut squares of leftover fabric, ranging in size from 1.5 to 2.5 inches. I have bags of them, thanks to Bonnie Hunter’s scrap system, and I felt a need to put them to use.

So, I started sewing squares together, mostly into nine patches. Then I mashed those combinations together, filling in with strips where edges didn’t meet, or whacking off bits that hung over the edge.

To calm the chaos I divided the squares into four sections, separated by striped strips, and added a golden striped section beside each of the sections. That looked too tame.

I decided to deconstruct the connected squares and have them escape into the golden section. Just one or two looked lonely.

After consultation with an art quilt group I created many escapees, and padded them with batting. All the edges were turned under and stuck down with starch. I went through many arrangements of the squares, including squared up and crooked. Before I made my final choice I quilted the piece with a grid of different colors.

Crooked won out as I thought that better suited the idea of seams coming apart and squares flying off.

My quilt’s colors are bright and cheerful, yet I fear the outlook for the square deal in our society isn’t so optimistic. Would that our current president proposed a program like Teddy’s.

I’m linking to Off The Wall Friday.


Filed under Commentary, Completed Projects