Friday, September 25, 2009

Another Scrap Quilt

Between other things, I've been putting together this strip pieced quilt for the guild's service project. I love the way it turned out! Even better, it cleaned out my collection of bright strips left over from other projects, and by some wonderful luck I even had the dark blue binding already made. I pieced the strips to 7 1/2 inch squares cut from a worn sheet, put them together fairly randomly, and then used the remainder to make the border. It was the border which really emptied the bin; it was a brilliant idea, if I do say so myself!

The quilting is a free motion squiggle over all the seams. That's within my skill range, and worked out well. There's no pressure on something like this--fun and easy and useful.

For future reference, the Hobbs Heirloom poly-cotton batting shrunk quite a bit, and here's the result when the fabrics were all pre-washed. The uneven width of the strips gives the top an uneven appearance. I don't object to that on this project, but it's good to know.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


It's been a busy time here, both quilt-related and in other ways. The "other" category includes the twins' birthday and a church fish fry where I helped. Quilt related was the Niles, Michigan guild show this weekend.

I'll post a few pictures. The space was cramped, without great lighting, making it hard to take good photographs. The quality of the quilts was impressive though, and many excellent quilts didn't receive a ribbon. Tough competition. The ribbons were viewers' choice,

Here's Best of Show and first in bed-size quilts. It's wool applique, done by hand and hand quilted by Gale Polk. You can see from this shot what I mean about the difficulty of taking a good picture.

This landscape, made by Julie Koch, won first prize in wall hangings. Unlike most quilts of this type, it's appliqued and quilted by hand.

I didn't crop the photo so the striking Storm at Sea in the background and the Ricki Timms kaleidoscope type quilt to the side would still be visible.

And this will be familiar--the red ribbon's mine, but the yellow ribbon for Best Machine Quilting really belongs to Deb Geyer. All I did was find the right long arm quilter!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Check It off the List

Refraction 60" x 48"

I just finished the official portrait of this piece for entry in Road to California, and so I promise that this is its final appearance. Yesterday I forced myself to sit down and sew on the sleeve while watching Duplicity with Clive Owen and Julia Roberts. The movie sweetened the deal considerably, even if it's actually a movie that requires a bit more attention than the ideal handwork flick. (Handwork flick--a new genre maybe? I know we've all got our favorites.)

I thought I'd have to go out and buy a rod and rig up some sort of temporary hanging deal for photographing this quilt since it's bigger than usual, but the wonderful "No See 'Ums" hanger from the Hangup Company that I use for a quilt above my bed expanded to sixty inches, and there was enough room to clear the bed. Good lighting in that room too, so all went well. Isn't it great when things are easier than you expect? Road to California even has on-line entry now, so you can upload photos and pay the fee in minutes, slick as a button.

I'm so glad to have this done!

Monday, September 14, 2009

A Little More Productive

Finished some things! The witch is about 9 inches square. (Yes, Bob, this time it is a hot pad!) I actually had done the strip piecing around this image several years ago, but decided not to finish it, so all I had to do was trim, quilt minimally, and bind. This is an old Alexander Henry fabric that I absolutely love. I have used every scrap of it now, and am so sad. The witches are wonderful; there's one pushing a baby carriage with a pumpkin in it, handbag over her arm, and raven perched on the front of the carriage. That's my favorite, I think.

This is just one of several postcards of various styles I made. This is another Alexander Henry fabric, and I've exhausted the good images from it also, but the whole fabric was beautiful, with pumpkins on an indigo and black background. Alexander Henry is a wonderful line of fabric. The designs are a bit edgy, not usually cutesy or saccharine sweet like some novelty fabrics are. The color are unexpected too, like the red on the witch fabric and the deep blue on the pumpkin one. These fabrics are hard to find around here, unfortunately. I guess they're not everyone's cup of tea.

Usually I couch yarn around postcards using the method Nellie wrote about in this wonderful tutorial. But yesterday I decided to use the couching/cording foot on the Janome. It worked beautifully. There are three slots for cords on the foot, and I put the cord in the right hand one, lining the edge of the card up with the center one. The zig-zag pulled the cord up against the card very neatly.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

SAQA Online Auction

Take a little time to look at these beautiful art quilts being auctioned by SAQA now. They're a feast for the eyes, and an education also. And of course, it's a chance to acquire a piece of wonderful quilt art.

Friday, September 11, 2009


What have I done in the last week? I've messed around with some Halloween stuff to make some postcards for a swap. I'm trying to use some old fabric creatively.

I printed some more wild flower scans for postcards since I sent the first two to the Alzheimer's Quilt Initative. This took about ten minutes, total, since the scanning and editing had already been done. So there's no explanation for why the whole process took so long.

I made a computer image from a Dover drawing, also for Halloween. I'd be embarrassed to say how long this took, especially since there's so little to show for the time. Why isn't Photoshop more intuitive, and why isn't the book I bought any good?

I put the binding on another version of my failed lilacs piece. Still not good, and I'm thinking about doing some ripping.

And what do I still have to do that isn't done? Blocking a finished piece, quilting a service quilt, finishing the postcards. Maybe I can be less scattered today. We can hope.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Free Motion Quilting Blog

Look at this wonderful blog! Many great free motion quilting designs, some with videos.

Have a wonderful Labor Day weekend everyone. I'm off to a football weekend picnic, a concert, and then my son, daughter-in-law, and the twins are coming for the weekend. Since we don't usually do much on holidays, this is a real social whirl.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

The J Word

That would be "judges"--quilt judges that is. My second guild is having a show in a couple of weeks, and in the planning stage, there was apparently some discussion of having a judge, instead of viewers' choice awards. This didn't happen because quite a few members refused to participate if their work was to be judged.

I wonder how many people share this attitude? I can understand the arguments: I quilt to please myself, judges are subjective, judges focus on technique and not design, judges only make negative comments. I would agree that these criticisms are true some of the time about some judges. I would add the point that judges' comments can be so generic and vague as to be useless.

Even so, I like to have my work judged, and not because I get glowing comments either. I've had plenty "needs improvement" comments about various aspects of the work. I'm not sure why I like to be judged. I don't exactly buy the argument that "you can learn something" from judges' comments. I've seldom had a negative comment I hadn't seen for myself already, and then there is the vagueness, which can make it hard to understand exactly what might be done to "improve."

I think what can be gained from having a judge evaluate one's work is a sense of context: you know you're not in a vacuum, quilting for yourself, judging yourself, or being praised (and criticized) by friends. There's a bigger world out there, and there's something to be gained by risking exposure to it. You may not learn specifically what to do about a weakness, but you can't just ignore it, and maybe you'll try something different next time.

One woman in the guild, an excellent quilter, was apparently so burned by a judge's negative comments that she never enters her work in judged shows. That's a loss for her, and for the quilting world. It's also a loss when someone is afraid to try even once.

I'd be interested in hearing from others, including anyone who's judged, about this topic. What's the benefit of having a judge evaluate your work?

*Image above is from