Sunday, February 26, 2006


I just wanted to make a quick plug for the Indiana Heritage Quilt Show that I'm attending this week. It's a relatively small show, but the teacher list is great, and because it's comparatively small, it's easier to get into a class than at some other shows. It's not a juried show, but in spite of that the quality of the quilts is very high, and it's fun to see less than professional work too. Bloomington, Indiana is a charming college town in a hilly scenic area with an attractive courthouse square, surrounded by interesting shops. The IU campus is beautiful and worth seeing also. The whole event is small, low key, but very good.

I'm really looking forward to going this year because my sister is joining me from Louisiana. She's taking Esterita Austin's class, and I'm taking Libby Lehmann's. Should be fun. I always stop at Quilt Quarters in Indianapolis on the way down, and that's a treat also.

Thanks for the welcome and encouraging words from other Quilters' Lounge members. I'm delighted to be one of this group.

I did the applique work for the "purple thing" and here it is, basting and stabilizer still in place. I am struck by how strange this piece is--the irregular diamonds create unexpected angles, which might make someone wonder "Did she make a mistake?" Who knows, maybe she did! I don't know what to do next, so will let it cool, at least till I get back from the show in Bloomington this week.

Yes, I did use the Hoffman Challenge fabric in this. I earlier did a bright pink one, and it struck me that the dark purple end of the colors in that fabric might be interesting. So now I have two, or will if/when they're finished. Don't count your chickens...

Friday, February 24, 2006


I've done the frame for the Japanese puzzle quilt. I stabilized the thing by ironing it to freezer paper, and turning under the edges of the outside pieces. Then, after figuring out the length and width of the border, I carefully placed the quilt down on paper cut to size and marked the angle lines. Next I retraced the pattern and added seam allowances, cut the pieces out and stitched together.

It went together very smoothly, and sounds simple to tell, but figuring it out was the hard thing. I have learned a lot about putting odd angled pieces together, if nothing else! The next thing is the tedious, but straight-forward job of appliqueing the body of the quilt to the frame. Keeping it straight and flat will be the main problem. I hope lots of pins will do the trick.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Japanese Puzzle-next stage

I think I like this--now to figure out how to actually draft and sew that border! Yowee. I guess a paper pattern is the way to go, but measuring scares me, since I tend to be so inaccurate. Tomorrow or the next day I'll give it a shot.

A Real UFO!

Today I was cleaning out the guestroom closet, doing the flylady twenty-seven fling thing when I dug out a quilt that I was hand quilting at least twenty years ago. I have only looked at it a few times since, and had no memory of what it looked like. I don't know where the blocks came from. I think my mother must have given them to me from her bottomless pit of UFO's. They are hand pieced, some well, and some very badly, and made of all sorts of scraps, some old, some 70's. It's actually quite pretty I think, although not pieced well enough to be worth anyone's time to hand quilt, especially not mine, since that makes my carpal tunnel flare up. I was never a good hand quilter anyway, as the picture shows! Anyway, the best thing to do, I think, would be to take out the fairly small amount of quilting, relayer it with a cotton batting, and try my hand at machine quilting. I know some people would consider that a shame, but considering the overall quality of the piece, it seems like the best way to go.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Japanese Puzzle, continued

I finished sewing the blocks and pieces of the puzzle piece together. It is small, 20 by 33 inches, which is about what I was aiming for. This was interesting, and once I got into how the block worked I found it rather fun. Sewing the pieces together was not as hard as I expected, probably because I was so careful to keep track of each block as I took it down from the wall. The bias edges are tricky, and I have a bit of stretching, but I think this will "quilt out".

Next step is finishing it. My idea is to applique this to a background piece that has different colors carrying out the lines of the piece--the lavendar will broaden out into a v-shaped piece and the lower part on both sides will be green. Perhaps the top "border" should be wider than the bottom also. We'll see. I think my next creation will be something where I don't have to figure it out as I go!

Sunday, February 19, 2006


The view from my dining room window this morning. So beautiful, but are they welcome? I had to drive them away because they were munching on my witch hazel bush (which was blooming before this Arctic blast came in), and with incredible grace they ran across the driveway, leaped the fence and a fallen tree, and disappeared into the neighbor's property. I hope they found something less precious to eat, and stayed out of the road.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

More Favorite Quilt Books

Color Harmony for Quilts by Weeks Ringle and Bill Kerr. These are unusual quilts, more traditional in technique than "art quilts" but very contemporary. Although some of the comments about palettes is over my head, their ideas about choosing colors and blocks to fit a "big idea" is one that I really liked. I made the quilt I call "Indiana Roadside" using their idea. I had wanted to do something based on the beautiful greens, golds, and whites of the "weeds" near our house for a long time, but didn't know what. ( Realistic applique and landscapes are not my thing. This quilt isn't quite what I was aiming for, but I like it.

Quilter's Complete Guide, by Fons and Porter. A great reference book. I check the size charts all the time.

Threadplay by Libby Lehman. Very practical advice for using decorative threads as well as instructions for her ribbon-like designs. Unfortunately I don't have this book, and when I looked it up on Amazon, I found that a used one costs $85! So I ordered one from interlibrary loan for reference in the class I'm taking from her at the Bloomington show.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Post Card

I said I would never make one of these--never say never. My sister's birthday is next week, and I thought of something I could put on a card. They have been waiting since October for the sheet rock to repair their house damaged in hurricane Rita, so that's the explanation for the picture. It was fun. Free cutting picture and letters, fusing, and freemotion stitching on something so small is very non-threatening. Only the binding is a bit of a pain. I think overcast stitching would look good and certainly be easier.

One comical thing happened--I decided to rip out some of my first quilting stitches because the thread showed up too much over the letters. Of course that left holes in the fabric, so to get rid of the holes I spritzed the thing with water and steamed it. The blue fabric of the letters apparently wasn't colorfast, and ran. So the letters have an appropriately hurricane-ravaged look.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Unintended Consequences

I'm getting ready to send my "global warming" quilt to the Indiana Heritage Quilt Show in Bloomington, and so want to post it. I'm proud of this quilt, although I know that it is odd, to say the least, and some people either won't get it, or will think it ridiculous. I didn't show it to my mother, the super conventional quilter, but the rest of my family was very supportive, although I know my sisters think global warming is a myth.

I got this idea about two years ago when I heard about California environmental activists putting bumper stickers with the slogan on people SUVs, and the design just fell into place. This summer was the first time I finally had time to get down to making it. It was a challenge, lot of math to make the Storm at Sea Borders fit, and I hate paper piecing. I also don't like messing with fusibles, so this was a challenge, but I improved and learned some things. The sun was fun. I want to do another New York Beauty someday. I loved the yellow "desert" strip pieced blocks on the side and the way the sky turned out with random piecing of light blue Ohio Star pieces. I also like the color scheme. The quilting is less than great, however. This is my biggest weakness still, and probably always will be. Another problem is the wheels. I thought it would be clever to put a silver button on top of a black button to make hubcaps, but I think it looks kindergartenish. I could have taken them off, but at that point, I'd had it.

Anyway, I don't think people will walk by without looking, and that is good enough for me.

Monday, February 13, 2006


I'm really getting into the design now. I've placed several blocks and am at least partly pleased with the design that's developing. The little pieces of paper are marking the center of a block (otherwise I get confused), and the tissue paper is to show where the next block would be so that I can tell what color piece to try next. Working out some of these tricks has helped a lot. The hole in the right side should be green, but I'm short a piece at the moment.

Japanese Puzzle

The puzzle pattern is very intriquing--something simple made into something complex. The block is a large 60 degree diamond made out of four smaller diamonds. But the smaller diamond pieces don't divide the block evenly, so they are irregular and mirror images of each other. When the blocks are put together the different fabrics don't intersect evenly making a kind of jagged effect. There are obviously lots of possibilities for this, most of which I have no idea of now. I have so far just cut and placed enough pieces to make four blocks. That's enough so that I'm beginning to see how the different pieces work, and how the larger pattern of blocks MIGHT fit together, but there is still lots of room for trial and error. I'm not even sure about the color combination I'm playing with.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

When Creativity Goes Bad

Two weeks ago I started reading The Artist's Way, and although I really haven't done many of the exercises except the morning pages, I feel as though I have creativity ADD. There are so many ideas firing out at random that I can't really seem to focus and accomplish anything. I have no idea if this is a good thing. Since yesterday I have: done enough strip pieced blocks from scraps to make another charity quilt like the one above, made changes to my "woodland creature" arty thing (this is after it was bound and supposedly finished!!!), and cut out some pieces of fabric to play with the Japanese puzzle project that was in American Quilter a few issues back.

I also tried unsuccessfully to figure out how to translate another one of my class sketches into fabric, and used Quilt Pro to work on the layout for the Australian fabrics. And then of course, playing around with posting for the blog is another creative (?) activity. I have NOT worked on sewing together scrap quilt strips or marked the parrot quilt for layering, two near finished UFO's . Just not creative enough, I guess.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Quilted my mini "art" quilt. It was fun, but I have no idea how I really feel about the design. I tried to give it a kind of foresty feel, and the head-like shape has a kind of mysterious quality, as though it is emerging from the shadows. I don't think the quilting/embellishment added much to that however. I'll definitely try something in this non-traditional style again though.

Is It Art?

Yesterday I took the plunge and made a fusible fabric sketch of one of my drawings for the Quilt University Lines and Shapes class. This was fun, much more "arty" than anything I've ever done before. I'm not totally happy with it, but I think I can make some changes (if I can figure out what they should be!) and then quilt and embelish. That should be fun too. Since it's so tiny, I can control it easily.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006


I love scrap quilts! What I love about scrap quilts is the way everything blends into a colorful blur which is so much prettier than the individual blocks. There should be a moral there.

Today I laid out the blocks for the one I've been working on. Not room on the bed for all the pieces, so although it isn't a good idea I'll have to sew some rows together and then lay out the rest. I like the way it looks, even with all the bumps from the not too smooth bedspread.

Not having touched fabric yesterday, I started out today by making blocks for guild block exchange tomorrow night. How many ways can a person screw up? First in cutting--I cut the last strip of blue fabric two inches instead of two-and-a-half, leaving me with a nice 2 1/4 strip. A creative opportunity to use two blue fabrics, probably a good thing, although some guild members may not be pleased. Then I sewed the patches together wrong at least three times. Block on right is the correct one; it's called Grecian Cross. Block on left is wrong--a variation of Shoofly or Churn Dash or one of those more familiar ones. I like it better, which is good because I will keep it for myself and take the others to the exchange! The two blocks together create and interesting optical illusion, both the same size but appearing different.

I now have about thirty blocks from this exchange, all blue and white. Pretty boring actually, since they're mostly medium blue fabrics that read as solid. I'm looking forward to putting them together. It will be a good chance to try some of Sharyn Craig's ideas.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Busy today! I have been working on my lines for the Playing with Lines and Shapes class, and came up with some I liked. Since it's such a pain to get to my husband's scanner, I tried enlarging them at Copy Max with the idea of taking a picture and sending them that way. But then I realized that since the computer has Adobe Illustrator I can draw lines that way. So I bought a book, made more lines, and sent them in. Here are some more, not the ones I sent in, and not even the best ones, but just some samples I made playing with the brush tools. Tomorrow I will work on using layers so that I can make changes and compare them. I'm so excited about this program. I think I can use it for sketching quite a few things for quilt projects, if I can figure it out. It certainly does more than I will ever need to do, but anything new I learn is valuable at this point. Even the fact that I posted it on this blog! Senility is still not on the horizon.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

My week of heavy quilting opportunity is over. I did finish the top of the parrots piece, and am getting ready to hand quilt! This is something I don't often do. I'm not terribly good, but adequate I think, and since I want to do a circular motif, hand quilting is the best way. I'll post the finished top soon.
I did not finish the other projects. Got very close on the scrap border but stopped because I really need to cut some more pieces which will increase the variety of fabrics. Most of what I have seems to be blue. Unfortunately, as I look at the other fabrics in my scrap bags and my stash they also are blue, green, red, brown. I have very few multicolors. There must be something somewhere.
Today I signed up for a course from Quilt University. I'm very excited about this. The class is Lines and Shapes, an introductory look at design, but with emphasis on different ways to look at lines and shapes to vary them, rather than the "principles of design" approach. I have begun lesson one, making many types of lines, only a few of which look very appealing to me. We'll see.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006


Jenny on the Scraps blog posted some wonderful Franz Marc paintings for inspiration. With no pretensions that it's anything great, I am posting a baby quilt I made using color scheme based on Picasso's portrait of his mistress Dora Maar. Bought a postcard of it at the Musee Picasso this summer and a friend's new baby gave me the reason to make this cheerful quilt. I actually had all the fabric in my stash too, although the border took some strange cutting to make the fabric work. I was very happy with the way this turned out, and the new Mom was too.

Forgot to say that the pattern is from M'Liss Rae Hawley's latest fat quarter book. I don't usually use patterns, but this seemed perfect. Also she called the pattern Serendipity, and that seemed to fit my situation too! It was easy and went together fast.