Saturday, February 17, 2018

The Tiles of San Giovanni…..

Well, after many months (7 to be exact), I have finished my Roman tile quilt, now named “The Tiles of San Giovanni”.

If you are new to this journey, here are the posts in order of appearance…..

Part 1 – Roman tiles on my mind

Part 2....the day that math let me down

Part 3....Roman Tiles – part 3.

So, where we left off, the interior tile work was well under construction ….IMG_4758

….although I still hadn’t decided exactly where it was going from here!!

I really liked the greyish fabric and thought that it would be good to use in the thin outer rings but I only had a small amount of the fabric left.  I looked online and traveled to a local-ish store that has thousands of bolts but couldn’t find anything that came close.   I actually did buy two fabrics that looked perfect in the store but were completely different colors when I got them into different light…..grey’s are bad that way!!

So I did the next best thing and decided to just use what I had and figure it out if I did run out!!   The wonder-under was trimmed with TINY margins and the pieces were tightly placed on the fabric…..


….and look, there is a bit leftover!!

At this point, I was ready to start thinking about the background……IMG_4869

….but there was one thing that had been bothering me.   Look at the top and bottom of the circles on the right.   do you see my problem?   My pattern had been off by about 1/2 inch and the outside rings butted up against the edge of the fabric.   There was NO room to add a border or anything else!!

Now I have always said that my mantra in life came from a “Calvin & Hobbes” cartoon with the statement that…..”A day without denial is a day you have to face”.   But I had denied it long enough and it was time to tackle the problem before I went any further.

After much pondering, I decided to remove the two outside pieces that were touching the edges and fuse down a small strip of fabric on the edge and then reapply the outside circle.IMG_4919

Amazingly, it worked and now you cant even see that it was mended!!

Next I had to think about what would go in the outside background areas.  In the original tile floor there were lots of new patterns in the background…..


….and I was originally planning to do that, but I just never could get excited about it.   Then I was showing it to a quilting friend one night and as we talked about it, I realized that I really wanted to keep the background simpler and just do 1 inch squares.

I found two lovely fabrics that would provide all of the squares that I could want.  Both were gradations, one from black to brown and the other from green to red and the variety that they provided was perfect.

I started each section by centering the first square and drawing lines out from it…..IMG_4875

I kept adding lines at 1-1/8 inches until I had the entire area filled up……


And then I would start adding the squares…..


…..trimming them down as the approached the curves…..


As soon as I had done a couple of sections, I could see that this was the perfect way to enhance the center tiles… seemed to make them just pop off of the quilt……IMG_5010

I added a narrow border and started the quilting process.  The quilting was kept simple, just echoing all of the “tiles”.  I chose to do a knife-edge finish and, voila…..the quilt was finished……


I do have one issue with the construction….since I used a LOT of fray check, the quilt has become very stiff, and the quilting process has left observable needle holes in the background fabric.   I am hopeful that those will fill back in as the quilt is used.

But, overall I am VERY happy with the quilt and feel that it is a wonderful reminder of the feelings that I had on that sunny day in Rome!!!

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

“Looking Up” (with Sally Manke)!!

Don’t you love it when inspiration strikes?  I was preparing for Sally’s snippet workshop and, quite frankly, I wasn’t all that excited about it.   I wanted to learn the technique and thought that the sample quilt was great but I didn’t want to just make a quilt like all of the others in the class… retrospect, I shouldn’t have worried about that as there were LOTS of people with equal and better inspirations!!

Anyway, the idea of the quilt is that you are looking upward thru the branches and leaves of gorgeous trees.  I hit the internet looking for inspiration photos and came upon an Aspen forest….ES6-Blue-Sky-and-Aspen

and knew that I had found my niche.

I had so much fun pulling fabrics and came away with these as the color basis…..IMG_4924

When I was thinking about snippets, I was imagining small bits of fabric, probably  a 1/4 inch in size….boy was I wrong!!  Sally encouraged us to keep on cutting until the pieces were super tiny….almost dust like in some cases.  

She was a master of snippet cutting as evidenced by this VIDEO…..

After this demonstration of her cutting dexterity, we all returned to our stations and started madly cutting fabrics.   I found it a bit disconcerting to have my hands in the way when the first cuts were being made (probably because I already bear the scars from errant rotary cutter blades) so I developed the technique of using a plastic “credit card” to hold the fabrics in place while I made the first cuts…..


The plastic cards were actually part of the supply list and were invaluable for scraping the bits into piles so that more slicing could be done…..


After we all had many piles of confetti fabrics, we started placing them on our backing and batting, trying to emulate the photo that we had chosen.  At this point, my creative process started breaking down!!…..


As I added more and more confetti, it just became more and more muddled and didn’t seem to improve when I started adding the trunks and branches….IMG_4990

Sally showed us a few things that I really liked, including adding small snips of threads to define the smaller branches. 

When I had “finished” my designing, Sally placed a piece of light brown netting over the snippets and we pinned and pinned and pinned until the entire piece was held together enough to get it home.

The next step in the process is to cover the snippet areas with meander quilting to hold the layers together.  That part went well, although my clothes were covered with little bits of yellow when I finished.   Next I worked on the tree trunk and that ended up being the only part of the piece that I really like…..IMG_5018

I used a grey Tsukineko marker to add some interest to the plain grey fabric and then added more interest with the quilting.

At this point, I decided that I wasn’t really interested in finishing the project….


Since leaving it, I have thought about what I liked and didn’t like about it.   Firstly, I should have just used a solid piece of blue fabric for the sky rather than trying to achieve it with confetti.  When I look at the inspiration photo, I realize that I have WAY TOO MANY “leaves” and not enough sky behind them.   I think that this happened because I was paranoid about covering every inch of the batting.

I also can see that my tree trunks are not the right size or at the correct angle for the perspective.  I think that if I had been working on it at home, I would have spent more time and kept working it (or started over) until I got it looking the way that I want.   As it was, we had to pack up and get out of the room so I just finished it where it was.

I really do like this technique and can see using it to depict water, especially when I think about the shiny bits that I can add to it to achieve the sparkle of moving water.

I also learned something about myself……when I am in a classroom setting, I become very shy and uncertain about my work, but when I am in my studio, I am willing to tackle almost anything even though I know that it might fail.    I guess that I simply dont want to fail in front of others!!

In the final analysis, I am glad that I took the class and really enjoyed Sally Manke’s teaching style.   She was open with her comments and suggestions if you wanted them but also let people travel their own paths.   

One of my favorite quilts in the class was by Linda Z. who worked on this marvelous path……IMG_4998

I cant wait to see it finished!!!

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Time with Sally Manke

Nationally known quilter, Sally Manke, was the speaker at our last guild meeting and then presented a 4 hour workshop the next day.  Both were special events.

She began her “Trunk Show” by showing some of her magnificent snippet quilts……IMG_4927

The depth achieved is amazing!!   

This is a technique that I am anxious to explore and am looking forward to the workshop.

This special portrait was made with cheese cloth (2 weights) and black thread stitching…..


Who says that you need complicated supplies to make something wonderful?

Sally had been at another local guild earlier in the day and had presented a workshop about using Inktense pencils in surface design.  This was one of the examples of that technique…..


Since it is a Sunflower, you KNOW that I loved it!!

This next quilt was made by couching tons of “sari silk ribbon” to a base fabric…..IMG_4945

I had never heard of Sari Silk Ribbon before…..514y oZbptL._SY450_

….but I sure wish that I had known about it when we were in India….I feel sure that it would be cheaper than buying it here!!!.      If we get to return then I will certainly be stuffing my suitcase with it!!

When she pulled out the next quilt…..IMG_4464

….I turned to Linda and said “Didn’t we see this in Houston?”.  As Sally talked about the quilt, she soon confirmed that it was indeed hanging at Houston.   I enjoyed hearing her talking about the creative process that came with this quilt.  I remember being particularly enamored with the barn…..IMG_4467

This psychedelic truck was my favorite of the evening…..IMG_4952

I love the little touches of 3-dimension that she added with the “leaves” on the trees!!

She ended the trunk show by showing one of her “Transportation” series quilts…….IMG_4955

We have all seen photos of these cute and creative bicycles as they sped across Facebook and I am happy to say that I have not only seen them in person, but have met the woman who made them!!!

Sally was a vibrant and interesting speaker and we were all sad when she arrived at the end of her program.   If you ever get the chance to hear her be sure that you do so!!!

The next day I took a workshop with her and will post more about that in the coming days…..

Sunday, December 31, 2017

State of the Studio - 2017

As 2017 winds down and we start gearing up for the new year, it is time to once again think about my studio time in the past year.

I was happy to start the year by finishing two previous year (or earlier)projects…..first “Pineapple Sherbert”…..IMG_2838 (2)

…..and then “Himilayan Hallows'”…..


Both of these finishes were helped by the guild quilt show deadline!!!

Next came a special quilt for a very special little boy named Bo…..


During the summer, I contributed my first quilt top to the Quilt’s Of Valor project…..IMG_3391

….and then had a marvelous time working with my Daughter-In-Law on her Tee-shirt quilt…..IMG_3731

….and with my friend Claire on her first quilt…..


By the way, we have continued to meet once a week and Claire is getting really good with piecing.  She even got a sewing machine for Christmas…..


and told me this morning that she has made two nine-patch blocks…..cant wait to see them!!!

The final finish of the year was also pushed along by a deadline….the Ombre challenge……


I am happy to have this quilt hanging in my office for the next few months.

I am finally moving along well with the Roman Tiles quilt, leaving it here this afternoon…..IMG_4882

Hopefully it will be my first finish of 2018!!

Speaking of the new year, I have to say that we are REALLY ready for 2017 to be over.   It has been a long, hard year, punctuated with the various medical issues that Michael has had to deal with.  Looking toward 2018, we have pledged to each other to LIVE each and every day and to try not to waste our time worrying about what COULD happen in the future!! 

To that end, I have decided that my word for the year will be …..





Sunday, December 17, 2017

The Ombre Challenge

Ok….let me start this post by saying that, until a few months ago, I had no recollection of ever hearing the word “Ombre”, as opposed to “Hombre” which , as a Texan, I had heard all of my life.   It is a word that seems to be all the rage right now so I wasn’t surprised when it showed up in our guild challenge. 

Here were the rules for this fun challenge…..

Ombré (pronounced omb-ray) is a French word meaning “shaded”. It means having tones of color that blend into each other, graduating from light to dark. Think of the color gradations on paint chips, for instance. Ombré is a trendy and popular design element in everything from clothing to nail polish to hair color, and of course, quilts.

The first part of your challenge is to play with color values and create a quilt with ombré design elements. It could be monochromatic, showing shades of a single color. It could be a two tone quilt with one color blending into another or a rainbow quilt involving a whole spectrum of colors- we just want to see gradations in color, no matter how you choose to do it.

The second part of the challenge is to dive into your scrap basket and include them in this quilt. Your challenge quilt should have at least 50% fabric scraps, defined as smaller pieces of fabric left over from other projects. We are working on the honor system here. Feel free to swap fabric scraps with your friends! 

As usual, we had 6 months to make this quilt and also as usual, I didn’t start on it until the week before!!!   I had continued to try to come up with ideas but couldn’t find anything that really caught my imagination.  Then, as I was looking on Amazon for books that I could put on my Christmas Wish List, I came across a super simple block and decided  that I wanted to use it as the basis for my quilt.

To keep with the mandate of using at least 50% scraps, I opened my bin of 1.5 inch strips…..IMG_4670

….and started pulling any dark blue fabrics that had at least 10 inches in length.   Then I started pulling various other colors…blues, purples, pinks, peach’s and greens.   Once everything had been pulled and sorted a bit, it looked like this…..


I then took the darkest blue fabric from the top  left column and added it to the lightest purple on the bottom right column and started making random blocks, continuing to match up the left column fabrics with the right and center columns.

When I first laid them out, I was pleased with the results…..IMG_4687

In the end I decided that I really didn’t want the green blocks….except for one at the very bottom and this ended up as my final layout…..


In this photo I was also auditioning various fabrics for a border around the medallion.

In the end, I decided to use a mottled white fabric for the four corners and to move the border out away from the medallion.IMG_4699

By the way, I did NOT do a good job of cutting the four setting triangles and ended up cutting SQUARES rather than triangles!!  Fortunately, there was enough fabric for me to try again but I really need to think thru the math to do this properly next time.

Now it was time to do the quilting and my thought was to do a lot of circles on the medallion and straight lines in the background.    The circles went great and as I quilted them I kept seeing the dark blue 1 inch lines that dominated the block piecing.    I finally decided to extend these lines into the border and do some filler quilting inside them.   While trying to think of filler ideas I ended up looking at my IQA quilt show photos, noting down the ideas as I saw them…..IMG_4728

Then it was upstairs to try a few of them on fabric……


And the winner was this super easy squiggle on the left.…..


I loved doing this simple quilting and even took the time to bury all of my threads as I went  (another of my “do it the right way first” resolutions that I made after the quilt show)…..IMG_4729

My original idea had been to quilt something else in the other channels which were 1.25 inches wide, but I was so pleased with the texture that showed, I decided to leave it the way it was.


Here is the finished product……


…and I am super happy with how it turned out. 

And for those of you who ask, no I didn’t see the dark heart in the center of the top until AFTER it was completely pieced together!

Once again, a challenge led me to make a quilt that I am proud of and helped me to stretch myself to try some new things!!!

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