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!!!

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Roman Tiles - Part 3

Back in August (wow….4 months ago) I posted about starting a new quilt based on a tile church floor from Rome.   The last thing that I wrote was that I wasn’t happy with the background fabric and that I was going to start over.   I finally got around to it again and here is where we are now…….


Now that is a loaded question.   I don’t WANT to start over but  I know that I will be happier with the project if I do, so reluctantly I chose the “yes” button!!

Since I had a chance to make it even better, I decided to start with the background fabric, this time using a PFD (Prepared For Dyeing) cotton and a new pot of paint…..


After it dried, there were a few whiter spaces that needed to be painted so I used a sponge and added more color.  This was the final product…..


With the first version, I was using freezer paper patterns to lay out the quilt but had a fear that, since I hadn’t laid out the ENTIRE pattern, I would get to the last corner and it simply wouldn’t fit.  So I used this reset to do it right.   I drew out the entire pattern using white pencils and was pleased to see that it would fit well on the background…..


I started again with the center circle and then added the first corner piece…..


My plan is to work the one round in each of the corners and then go back a fill in the rest of the sections.  So, here goes…….

I added the other three corner circles, fairly pleased with how it was looking…..IMG_4522

But, when I got it up on the wall I could see that the bottom left circle was too dark and would get lost in the background fabric.   I peeled off some of the darker fused triangles, replacing them with lighter colors.   I was happier with the result…..


….but it really started to look good when I added the first circles of “setting stones”…..


The bottom right circle is the same color as the others but apparently had more light from the nearby window!!!!

It was about here that I went to the Houston show and came back with my newfound desire to focus on the details of my work, so I made some decision which have slowed the project down a great deal but which I hope will help the overall design.  My original idea was to fuse all of the pieces onto the background, set it up for quilting and use the quilting to hold each of the pieces down.  But then I got to thinking that I really wanted to “tiles” to float on the background and for the background to recede.  If I quilted on TOP of the tiles then the edges would be receding too.   So the decision was made to stitch each of the tile pieces down first and then just do the quilting on the “grout” portion.  It has taken an amazing amount of time to stitch each of those little pieces down but I am still happy that I have made that change.

At one point I had thought about getting all of the pieces fused in place before I started the sewing process but had noticed that some of the smaller ones were starting to peel off so I stopped and sewed them all down.

During this sewing process I started noticing that some of the fabrics were already beginning to fray so I decided to prolong the project further by painting around EACH and EVERY piece with Fray Check.  Fortunately it was something that I could do at night while watching TV with Michael……IMG_4544

So now I have stabilized every piece that was already fused down and I am ready to tackle the inner circle of each of the larger circles.   I am going to make my life a bit easier and go ahead and paint fray check around each piece edge BEFORE it is fused to the top and I will also force myself to persevere and sew each section down as I finish it.

More to come….and hopefully it wont take another FOUR months!!

Friday, December 1, 2017

Other People’s Money and Other fun things!!

Today, I drove to Atlanta with my friend Linda to help her pick out a new sewing machine.   She had used my Juki and really liked it so off we went to buy one for her.  While she was trying out the new machine, I did some looking around (which is always a bad idea)!!

I was excited to find a set of nested circle machine quilting rulers…..IMG_4663

As soon as I got home I had to try them out!!!   Each ruler is 1/4 inch wide and they were fairly easy to use.  Here are my first attempts…..


Yes, there are a few wobbles and one where I simply quit and started over, but for the most part I am happy with them.  The individual  rulers are a bit slippery so I may need to find some VERY small pieces of grippy stuff (the technical name) to hold them in place better.

The guidelines were drawn in place using a tool that I bought at Houston…..IMG_4665

While I was there, I also invested in a sampler pack of rulers put out by Westalee…..


It came with 6 different rulers that can be used to made an infinite number of different designs…IMG_4666

Since I was already in “play mode” I pulled out the petal ruler and gave it a try as well…..IMG_4668

Before I could try any others, I ran out of bobbin thread (sigh) and, besides, it was time to fix dinner order pizza, so I reluctantly put my play things away!!

But, the good news is that tomorrow I am free until the all-important football game at 4:00  (University of Georgia vs Auburn University) ….GO DAWGS, so the plan is to spend most of that time in the studio!!!

Hope your weekend includes some creative time as well……

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

International Quilt Festival–Final Roundup

Now, almost three weeks later, it is time to finish up my posts about IQF.   I found the show to be amazing and encouraging and I came away with tons of ideas and thoughts about my future in quilting.   The main thought that kept coming to my mind was the need to concentrate more  on the details and to spend the time needed to finish a project strong!!

Here are a few of my favorite quilts……

This quilt by Caryl Bryer Fallert was part of the Tactile Architecture exhibit……IMG_4098

… were these two by Jill Kertula…..IMG_4273


I was mesmerized by the interplay of photographs and fabric… much movement!!!

I have seen this quilt by Olga Gonzalez-Angulo in magazines but the photos did nothing to show just how amazing it was…..IMG_4190

Of course this is just another photo so I guess that I am not helping you too much!!!

This piece by Jan Reed called “The End of the Drought” was very evocative…..IMG_4264

There were several pieces that were reminiscent of the Zentangle movement including this piece by Mikyung Jang……IMG_4293

Our four-legged friends were well represented as well.   I loved this fun quilt by Hiroko Miyama aptly named “You Know What?”…..


…and this quilt by Lea McComas entitled “Cruisin” just stole my heart…..IMG_4308

As a side note, when I showed my daughter this quilt she immediately started sending me photos of her German Shorthair Pointer with hints that she would LOVE a quilt of Riley!!

And, this little guy looked like he would crawl right off of the wall (by Tonya Littmann)….IMG_4326

There were some interesting uses of fabric in this piece by Soyoung Chung…..IMG_4340

When you moved in closer you could see the many layers of fabrics that were used to perfect the tree trunks…..IMG_4339

In the portrait quilt gallery, this piece by Gillian Shearer, entitled “Did you see that"?” was one of my favorites……


As far as shopping went, I enjoyed walking thru the vendors and watching their demonstrations but didn’t purchase too much.   There were some threads from Superior and some Machine Quilting Rulers that I would have had to order from Australia and a few other small bits and bobs.  But, as I often tell shop owners, what I really need is a 30-35 hour day!!!

Before I end this post, I want to give a big shout-out to my sweet husband who encouraged me to go on the trip even though it came at a rough time for him, and another shout-out to Linda, my very special friend and traveling companion!!


So, now I am back home and deep in the midst of Holidays, decorating, working and the other parts of life that somehow manage to steal my quilting time, but I am working hard to find time for this wonderful creative outlet…..I hope that you can do the same!!!!


Monday, November 20, 2017

International Quilt Festival–Ricky Timms seminar

When I started thinking about classes to take at IQF, I was pretty sure that I didn’t want to do anything that would mean carrying a bunch of supplies with me.  Also, I was going to the show for inspiration and not really for new techniques. So, when I saw the Ricky Timms seminar called “Dream It, Design It, Make It”, I knew that it was for me. 

And, I was not disappointed.   He spent his three hours showing us some basic design elements and techniques and encouraging us to go forth and create….just what I needed to hear.

He first began talking about Skills and Technical Excellence.  He defined “technical excellence “ as how well you did what you INTENDED to do!!  He also commented that intuition can take you so far in the creative process and when you have exhausted it then the technical knowledge kicks in.   How many times have I seen that in my work!!!

Next he worked thru the various elements that make up a quilt, starting with LINE.  His comment here was that it was the artist’s job to control the viewer and that the use of lines was an excellent way to do that.

Then came SHAPE with him hypothesizing that shape is more powerful than color.   To demonstrate this, he told us that when we saw the next slide we were to shout out what color it was.  The only problem was that the shape of the object said BLUE but it was printed in RED.   Almost all of us immediately said “Blue” but then quickly changed our answer to “Red”.

The third element was VALUE.  I loved his comment that “color gets the credit but value does the work”.  He encouraged us to spend time in the areas of our quilt that contain contrast (and interest) and not to sweat the other areas of the quilt as no one will be looking there anyway!!!

Fourth was TEXTURE, which he called the “surface character”.   He further defined this by saying that it doesn’t have to be touchable with our hands but can be touched with our eyes.

The last two elements were SPACE (positive and negative) and FORM (has height, depth and width).

In the second hour he moved into the principles of organization which he reminded were only guidelines and NOT laws…..

Harmony  -  glues all of the parts together

Variety  -  the counterweight to Harmony

Contrast  -  change and shift size and color

Elaboration  -  Embellish, embellish, embellish!!

Balance  -  Symmetrical, asymmetrical or radial

Proportion  -  keeping things in scale, although whimsy is created when things are out of proportion.

Dominance & Emphasis  -  Make what is important…..IMPORTANT

Movement  -  takes the viewer on a journey

Economy  -  Keep it simple and go back to basics.  As Leonardo daVinci said….“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication”

My favorite quote of the entire workshop is that he loves the dialog between himself and his design wall……what a great way to think of it!!

He ended the workshop with an encouragement for us to look at the things that keep us creating and the things that hinder our creativity, and then he told us to go home and BE CREATIVE!!!

On that note, I met Linda again and we hit the floor again to see what we could see…..IMG_4471

The show was divided into a lot of smaller exhibits.  One of our favorites was by Danny Amazonas, a magnificent fiber artist from Japan.  The first quilt that we saw was this HUGE Koi pond…..


We walked around the corner and saw even more wonderful pieces…..



….and my all time favorite……


Now, technically they were not quilts as they just had a backing and no batting, but the way that he used the fabrics was astounding.  I also loved that he used only commercial fabrics and I could point to many that I owned as well.   He finished the top with what looked like a free motion zig-zag stitch done with monofilament thread.  If you google his name there are several videos showing his work in progress.

The other exhibit that I loved was the Cherrywood Fabric “Van Gogh” challenge.   The rules were as follows…..

Most of the quilt top had to use the official VAN GOGH blues and black Cherrywood fabrics. Accent colors of Cherrywood were allowed. The  entire quilt top and binding had to be made from Cherrywood Fabric and was to be 20 inches square.  Any technique or fabric manipulation was acceptable as long as it maintained the color and character of a textile quilt.  

The results were magnificent…..


….and of course I was drawn to the sunflower…..IMG_4162

I excitedly looked to see what the next challenge is and found a bundle of royal purple fabrics……Image of The PRINCE Challenge

….but the theme is “Prince”.  Not being much of a Prince fan I am not sure that I will participate but I will definitely keep an eye out for future challenges!  My friend Deb has encouraged me to go ahead and buy the fabric just in case inspiration strikes!!!

I spent much of my time studying the exquisite machine quilting that was shown.  The texture that can be achieved is so exciting…..IMG_4180




This quilt by Kristin Vierra called “Star of India” was magnificent…..


….as was “Wickedly Green” by Debora Poole…..


I left this exhibit with LOTS of ideas for making a whole cloth quilt!!!

One final comment for the day….. I spent quite a bit of time with Cynthia England, author of the book “Picture Piecing”…..

I have been enamored with her quilts for many years but never thought that I would be able to pull off the technique.  But, she very patiently demonstrated her technique and answered a myriad of questions which increased my excitement about trying it sometime.   She posed in front of my absolute favorite of her quilts……


I left her booth with a new found respect for her!!!IMG_4397

Linda had a class that afternoon so we met up again at 5:00 and headed out to find someplace to eat.   The only problem was that a parade to honor the World Series Champion Houston Astros had just ended and approximately 1 MILLION Houstonians were downtown as well so finding someplace with a wait time of less than 3 hours was a bit of a challenge.  We finally stopped at a McAlister’s Deli and spent a fun evening sitting outside and watching the city of Houston walk past!!

One day left……

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