Monday, December 7, 2015

Susie's scrappy girls pillow

I made this 20" pillow for Susie before we went to visit her and David a month ago. She loves it. She says she hugs it a lot.

Susie gave me the girl fabrics: matryoshka dolls, silhouettes in the wind, talking girls with birds.

I will be making three of these for Christmas gifts in the next couple of weeks, but smaller: 16".

I pieced the back with some of the fabrics Susie has given me: matryoshka dolls, bees and flamingoes.

before quilting

after machine quilting

Friday, November 13, 2015

Holiday table runner

I've been under the weather. I was chatting with my Instagram buddy Babsy about heading for a nap while I was home sick, and she said she hoped I would be snuggled under a quilt. Funny thing is, I have only once made a quilt for us, that is, not for one of the kids. It was in Istanbul, and it got threadbare, so we don't use it now. So I was going to snuggle under a store-bought whole cloth quilt.

Babsy makes beautiful pieces for her home (like this), and she inspires me to sew more for our own place. I just seem to always be making a quilt for someone else, either for a gift, or to sell. Because I work full time, there isn't much time for other projects.

Well, getting sick is a not-so-great way to find time you don't normally have. I had this weekend all set aside to work on a quilt order for an "Andrea" quilt. (I will treat it as second in a series.) When I got sick with a sore throat, I knew I couldn't get through appointments all day with students, nor did I want to spread the illness to them. But I haven't had a fever, and I have a certain amount of energy to sew something at a slow pace. (You should see me normally, I jump up and down from sewing machine, to design board, to cutting table, to ironing board, back to machine, etc.) Who wants to just sit or lie around all day?

I had pulled out holiday fabric Nancy gave me that I absolutely love. I had no idea what to do with this old-fashioned print with scenes that look like Currier & Ives prints. I have 4-5 yards of it! After posting the photo below at Instagram, I thought about a table runner for the kitchen table in our little farmhouse. We don't have a formal dining room.

I didn't end up using any green;
it wouldn't stick!

I have been inspired by Victoria Gertenbach at Silly Boodilly ever since getting into modern quilts, and I used her table runners as inspiration. Her work is A MA ZING.

I thought I was going to use only large blocks, but that never seems to happen, no matter how hard I try. Little dots, checks, swirlies or plaids have to nudge their way in.

So there! I made something for us! When Don got home from work yesterday, he was appreciative! Now he can make toast for breakfast and look at something besides whatever is sitting on the kitchen table, because this piece inspires me to keep the table tidy. (How long will this last?)

Isn't this fabric the sweetest?
Both Babsy and another Instagrammer said they have this fabric in their stash also!

Monday, October 26, 2015

kimono scraps art quilt

This was the most interesting commission I have had yet.

At the study abroad fair a couple weeks ago, I was chatting with a long-time colleague about her upcoming retirement. She told me she plans to learn to quilt. Well that was a fun conversation!

Sitting next to me was a professor who is taking a program to London summer 2016, and he was listening to us with growing excitement. Understand, "excitement" is very measured in professors, generally. He said, "I have a commission to tell you about when you're finished!" And then Cindy and I chatted a bit longer.

I have tried to upload a better photo of three gold slivers, but I'm having technical problems.
You can see one here. A wonderful friend suggested doing something
with the Japanese tradition called Kintsugi of filling cracks of broken crockery with lacquer dusted with gold.
What a beautiful concept.

He proceeded to tell me that when he lived in Japan, he would go to the Chion-ji temple market regularly and pick up silk kimono scraps. (How fun is that!) He collected them week after week, not knowing what they would become but loving them all the same.

For years he has been looking for someone to sew them into some sort of small quilt. He asked if I would do it, and I could barely hold in my excitement. On my laptop I proceeded to show him the art quilts of Debra Smith I had recently discovered, all made with kimono silk, and I told him I had recently made an art quilt of Indian silks. Never had I dreamt of using silk in sewing quilts before. The fact that I was somewhat prepared for his request is just very serendipitous.

Here is an image of the scraps after I photographed them with my iPhone and saved them in a Pantone app, to match the colors for buying silk. This is actually one group of scraps. There is a second one with a decidedly different palette, so I separated them.

I stopped at the VOA thrift store a couple of days later to find silk blouses to fill out the design. I used three: taupe, lilac, and gold.

I struggled with the challenge of arranging these scraps in any satisfying way.

Below is one start.


But at last, after several arrangements on the design board, I started improvising in a way that felt right. I used one of the eight silk blouses I found thrifting for the background, first affixing it to featherweight interfacing. The interfacing took time to iron on, but it was worth it for ease of sewing and quilting.

I ran out of taupe silk for binding,
so I used this cotton Hawthorne house fabric
called "fronds" in golden canyon.

I also used pieces of the lilac and gold silk blouses I found.

I wanted a medallion on the side, like in ancient Japanese art.
This grew larger all on its own.

I plan to give him his art quilt tomorrow. Of course he is paying me, though we have not set a price. He seemed to think money was no object. Maybe I should charge $5000. :D

Let's see if he wants a second one with the other group of scraps.

This art quilt measures 24" x 27"
silk, with cotton binding

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Urban garden modern improv wall quilt

"Mrs. Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself."

London. Virginia Woolf. Map.

Art quilt measures 32 x 31"
From upcycled clothes

Saturday, September 5, 2015

"conversational geese" finished

When I finished this quilt top and posted it on Instagram and Facebook a while back, an old blog friend of mine in Oregon asked if it was for sale! :)

Well yes!

So I finished quilting and binding it today and will send these geese off to their new home with her next week. She plans to hang this on her bedroom wall. I think that is SO COOL.


Almost all the fabrics are either from Nancy's stash or mine. Only recently I purchased a few of them, like the Charley Harper cardinal print, which I love. The red with white dots was a dish towel in Nancy's stash.

This blue print is nostalgic and cottage-y. So sweet.

The goldenrod in the meadow is happy for the geese to fly nearby. 

Monday, August 17, 2015

My FIL's quilt finished

I managed to finish the quilting on this one before we left for a weekend up north, our last weekend with him here with us this year. We will put him on the Zephyr train Saturday.

I am happy with the soft thickness, accomplished with a cotton/poly batting 80/20, and with quilting every 2-3 inches.

This Instagram pic, taken with my iPad, shows the quilt cooler than it is.
The other images are truer warmth.

I gave him the quilt in the car in the back seat as Don drove and his brother rode in the front. He seemed pleased. Didn't say much, but he never does. The important thing is that he knows I love him, I loved having him stay with us, and that this will keep him warm.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

scrappy utility log cabin (or housetop) lap quilt top for my father-in-law finished

I mentioned at the end of my previous post that my FIL asked for a lap quilt after I gave one to Andrea in his presence when we celebrated her birthday, and how excited I was. That was in early August, and he leaves us for Don's sister's in Colorado August 22. I want to give him a finished quilt for his train ride on the California Zephyr, and also to cuddle under while he's in Colorado through Christmas, and hopefully for a long time after that. He takes Coumadin, and he is always chilly.

During my staycation in the studio the end of July, I realized something crucial for me and quilts. Designing those two wallhangings helped me differentiate between a desire to make art quilts and a desire to make comfy cozy quilts for laps and beds. Andrea's quilt felt stiff, and while I think it will soften after washings and time passes because of the 100% cotton batting, I want lap quilts to be fluffier, softer and cozier right at the start. I also want them to bridge the past and future, to be reminiscent of grandmothers' quilts and conscious of loved ones who will cuddle under them.

I immersed myself in the quilts and quilters of Gee's Bend for a few days while designing this. I felt more than I thought. I was going to sash it more simply, subtly, but then I just started using the cut pieces on my work table, and it grew into this. I feel very connected to those ladies and am thankful their quilts were discovered so we can reap pleasure and inspiration from their hard work and lives.

I've been working on my FIL's quilt the past week or so, because it so happens that every weekend in August I am away from the studio. I burned the night oil (until 9 or so) last evening and the one before. Late for me! But you know I love it. The quilt top is finished, and I've sandwiched the layers with 80/20 cotton/poly batting and a simple pieced backing. Yippee!

Instagram photos:

I am quilting every two inches or so to keep it fluffy. The denser the quilting, the stiffer the quilt. Of course that means this will go quickly! Then I can't wait to make the scrappy binding.

I will post again when finished, of course.

Oh, and I just have to add this week's Free Will Astrology piece for Leo from Rob Brezsny. I love it! Can you believe it? :)

LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): Many people harbor the unconscious bias that
beauty resides primarily in things that are polished, sleek, and perfect.
Celebrities work hard and spend a lot of money to cultivate their
immaculate attractiveness, and are often treated as if they have the most
pleasing appearance that human beings can have. Art that is displayed in
museums has equally flawless packaging. But the current astrological
omens suggest that it's important for you to appreciate a different kind
of beauty: the crooked, wobbly, eccentric stuff. For the foreseeable
future, that's where you'll find the most inspiration.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Staycation and two wall hangings

"birds on a wire"
24" x 28"
at Etsy

This week has been a perfect staycation.

Well almost. It began with a detox and start of a 21-day elimination diet. A couple of friends on Facebook suggested that maybe the osteoarthritis in my thumbs and wrist could be less inflamed if I get rid of something in my diet. So these 21 days I am avoiding the usual suspects: dairy, wheat/gluten, sugar, corn, soy, alcohol and the nightshade vegetables (peppers, tomatoes, eggplant, potatoes). Oh man. May I just say that the timing of this stinks? We had just dived into Mediterranean food and have been LOVING eggplant especially. And corn? Now? When sweet corn from Reese's just begins? 

But pain is pain, and something has to give. It has been much reduced since starting. This is day 10. I will re-introduce one food group at day 22 and see how that goes for a couple days. Etc.

I am still taking turmeric capsules and began vitamin B6, the latter at the recommendation of one of the friends mentioned above.


Otherwise, perfect staycation. I played in the studio every single day with abandon. The most fun was creating these two wall hangings. Below is the one I made first, and the one at top second, which was inspired by the divine graphic designs of Eloise Renouf. She told me on Instagram that she had my blessing to copy her design. :) It's not exactly copying, but complete inspiration, though figuring out how to create the design with fabric was challenging. Once I got the rhythm of making flying geese, basically, it was a snap.

This one was too much fun and was inspired by, among other art pieces, Paul Klee's "Abstraction with Reference to a Flowering Tree, 1925. One other source of inspiration were the macarons Nancy and I ate in Paris in 1997. The fabrics are after all from her stash too. So I named it "Nancy's Macarons." The little (big) breakthrough in this one is using nothing but solids. Me!

"Nancy's macarons"
27" square
at Etsy

Also, this sweet thing: This was the staycation when I gave Andrea her birthday quilt after which, at home, my father-in-law (staying with us a couple of months — love him, love having him!) said to me, "I wouldn't mind having one of those lap quilts like you gave Andrea."

!!!!! Why is it that we are SO afraid to ask for something when doing so gives such IMMENSE PLEASURE to the one asked???? I was tickled, so tickled, to begin to imagine a lap quilt to complete before he leaves on my birthday in three weeks. Joy, bliss. You see, he is on blood thinner and is chilly a lot of the time. He needs to cuddle under a throw. I have ordered batting with poly as well as cotton after seeing soft cuddly quilts around on Instagram and wanting the kind of loft 100% cotton just doesn't provide.

One more thing. I am figuring out that while I love the graphic designs of wall hangings, I love cuddly quilts for laps and beds. Now that I've tried and succeeded at wall hangings (let's hope they sell!), I can let these designs go crazy. Then quilts can focus on what I love about quilts: comfort, peace, connection, pleasure. Not sure just what this means entirely, but I'll find out.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Andrea's quilt finished

It's a birthday present, and even though the recipient doesn't read my blog, I'll hold off using her name.

This was a truly improv quilt. The recipient loves black and white, and so I made stripes here and there. Also, her home decor includes this pale blue and yellow. It is nap/lap size. I picture her knitting or watching a movie under it this winter.

The backing is a Dear Stella fabric called Mist Birds Paloma. It coordinates with the floral on the front of the quilt. They were the first fabric purchase I made after I returned to quilting in the new improv era. I've been saving them for a special quilt.

finished size: 41" x 55 1/2"

UPDATE: She loves it!

Photo bomb by Peter and Olive!

Sunday, July 19, 2015

"Gertrude" quilt top is done

Books are interesting. I have collected expensive photo books for years. I just gave away a gorgeous set of Carolyne Roehm flower arranging and lifestyle books. Now I'm collecting quilt books. For Christmas I received a $200 Amazon gift card from the faculty in the English department where I advise undergraduates. It has paid for several quilt books and other things besides. That was such a perfect and generous gift.

One of the books is this one by Jane Brocket.

Her floral sensibilities and preferences are similar to mine. It makes me happy that all these floral fabrics in my stash can be put to good modern use. The quilt I imitated is one she calls "Hydrangea." So lovely!

I collect postcards for bookmarks. This one of Picasso is from the Art Institute in Chicago.

I wasn't sure I was going to like the fuss of cutting all these squares and precision piecing. After all, I've gone improv, and one of the great things about that is not measuring or worrying about matching seams.

But this quilt was one of the most pleasurable I've ever pieced. Good to know that I still enjoy measuring, cutting, and piecing like this. 

The real trick in Jane's design is combining the fabrics in good and interesting ways. I spent a lot of time arranging and rearranging fabric rows on the design board. But wow, what a satisfying process. I used a trick I learned while sewing Olive's quilt, which is that you can combine almost any fabrics if you juxtapose them with at least one color the same.